What C.S. Lewis’ Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy

Why “welcome and wanted” is a biblical response to gay and lesbian couples in evangelical churches.

I’m an evangelical pastor (founding pastor of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor) who has publicly stated that I can no longer enforce any exclusionary practices aimed at men and women in gay partnerships. I know many evangelical pastors who are privately troubled by the current approach to gay people. These pastors are in a state of conflicted conscience, looking for a way to honor both their evangelical faith and the gay and lesbian people who are coming to their churches, or are loved by people in their churches.

Many pastors counsel conflicted parents of evangelical faith who are in a psychological torture device: forced to choose between accepting their child who is gay or honoring the faith that saved them.

I have proposed a path for these pastors that allows them to embrace people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender and to accept them fully — welcome and wanted — into the company of Jesus. I wrote A Letter to My Congregation when I realized my views had changed and I needed to communicate the intense theological, biblical, pastoral, and spiritual process that I had been through to get to this new place.

Why was I willing to let divorced and remarried couples know that they are welcome and wanted while refusing that same welcome to gay and lesbian couples?

It began with a burr beneath the saddle of my conscience: why was I willing to let so many divorced and remarried couples know that they are welcome and wanted while refusing that same welcome to gay and lesbian couples? How could I say to the remarried couples, whose second marriage was clearly condemned by the plain meaning of scripture, “You are welcome and wanted,” while saying to the two mothers raising their adopted child together, “I love you, but I hate your sin”?

A story from C.S. Lewis’ life helps point the way.

A priest going against the grain

C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia and the greatest apologist for the Christian faith in the 20th century, fell in love with a divorced woman, Joy Davidman. Her husband was an alcoholic (and not a Christian) and their marriage fell apart. Lewis had never been married. His beloved Church of England, hewing to the biblical teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman for life, refused to sanction this union on the grounds that in marrying Joy, Lewis would be marrying another man’s wife, making them both adulterers.

But there was one priest who was willing to go against the grain, Father Peter Bide. Lewis turned to Bide, a former pupil who had become an Anglican priest, after the bishop of Oxford refused to marry Lewis and Davidman. Bide knew that Lewis was asking for something that wasn’t consistent with the teaching of the Church of England. But this naïve priest prayed about it. That’s right. He asked Jesus what he should do. What a concept! As if Jesus were alive and might talk back! And he felt led by the Spirit to perform the wedding.

During the ceremony, which took place in the hospital room where the bride was battling cancer, he placed his hands on her and prayed for her healing. She went into an unexpected remission almost immediately and Lewis and Davidman had a blessed reprieve in which to enjoy their union. They had what so many of us long for, including people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender: someone to pair bond with, someone to cuddle with at night, someone committed to care for the other should the other — as so many of us eventually do — get sick and die.

Most evangelical churches have remarried leaders. No one speaks of loving these remarried people but hating their sin.

That was then, over 50 years ago. This is now. The most theologically conservative expressions of Christian faith in the 21st century — Roman Catholicism and evangelicalism — wouldn’t blink at the thought of blessing the union of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman. The Catholic Church would do so by annulling Davidman’s first marriage. Most evangelical churches would ask her a few questions (if that) and determine that God was surely blessing this new marriage.

A third way for evangelicals on same-sex marriage

I studied the scriptures on divorce and remarriage extensively as a younger pastor. I studied the early church fathers and the Protestant Reformers. Their grounds for allowing remarriage were extremely strict, based on a plain reading of scripture. This older consensus held sway in the church — Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox — until it was flooded with remarried couples after World War II.

letterToday, most evangelical churches have remarried lay leaders and board members. Some have remarried pastors. No one speaks of loving these remarried people but hating their sin. Instead, they are fully accepted into the life of the church. A veritable cottage industry of evangelical books exists to help the conscientious Bible reader make sense of the biblical prohibitions in light of their historical context and apply their teaching in light of the experience of the remarried people we know, love, and often, are.

As I reflected on this issue, the thought hit me like a punch in the gut: if we gave the same considerate reading to the handful of texts condemning same-sex sexual practices that we give to passages on divorce (what did they mean in their historical context and how should we apply them today?), we would likely come up with a very different approach to gay, lesbian, and transgender people. We might even find a way to fully include them in the life of the church as we have done for so many remarried people.

And I wondered: are we reluctant to consider this possibility because it’s virtually impossible to finance an evangelical congregation without remarried people, while it’s easy enough to do so without gay, lesbian, and transgender people simply because there are fewer of them?

Then, the knock-out blow occurred to me: how would that square with the good shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to go after the one which has wandered from (or been driven out by) the rest of the flock?

With much trepidation and a sometimes paralyzing dose of fear, I opened myself to the possibility that my received tradition on this subject might be wrong. So I have proposed what I am calling a “third way” between the longstanding and polarized binary — either “love the sinner, hate the sin” or “open and affirming.”

Why Christians can agree to disagree on gay marriage

Some have objected that this “third way” is just “open and affirming” in disguise. But I maintain that this “third way” — I call it “welcome and wanted” — is not equivalent to “open and affirming” for two important reasons.

First, it grounds the full acceptance of gay, lesbian, and transgender people in a much-ignored portion of scripture: Romans 14-15, in which Paul introduces a category he calls “disputable matters.” The upshot is this: the church in Rome was splitting over disputes about first order moral issues — like whether or not eating meat sacrificed to idols constituted idolatry (one could make the case!), or whether ignoring the command to rest on the seventh day was a sin against one of the Ten Commandments, even a sin against nature, since God himself rested on the seventh day in the Genesis creation account.

If how the biblical prohibitions of same-sex sexual practices apply to modern same-sex couples is an example of a “disputable matter,” then it follows that the church can “agree to disagree” on this question, while practicing full acceptance of gay, lesbian, and transgender people, not to mention full acceptance of those who disagree with whether such people sin by having sex with their covenanted partners.

The biblical “ideal,” if there is such a thing, is not marriage, but celibacy.

I realize that in the current climate of intense controversy over this issue, that would be hard to pull off in many local churches, but that, too, seems to be Paul’s point: Jesus is more powerful than other lords (like Caesar) precisely because he is risen from the dead, and can empower those who follow him to do improbable things — like remain in a unity of the Spirit despite sharp disagreement over important questions. In fact, this demonstrates his resurrection power:  he can do what mere religion can’t — keep people together who watch different cable news-entertainment networks.

Second, the “third way” questions why people who accept the gospel of Jesus Christ think they have any business assuming that our acceptance of one another “in Christ” is contingent on granting each other our moral approval. The “affirming” in “open and affirming” implies that the congregation so tagged offers its moral approval to gay couples. But what does that have to do with the gospel? Isn’t the whole point of the gospel that God accepts us thanks to the faithfulness of Jesus and not because he approves of all our moral choices? And that we are to do likewise with each other? Where does this insistence that our unity depends on granting each other moral approval come from?

In any event, the biblical “ideal,” if there is such a thing, is not marriage, but celibacy, according to the teachings of Jesus and Paul. Marriage, according to both, is a concession to human weakness. “If you can’t remain celibate, it’s better to marry than to burn,” said Paul. Hardly a ringing endorsement of marriage. This business of granting marriage some privileged moral status is far from the New Testament ideal.

Call me naïve, but I think there’s a third way for evangelicals in the gay marriage debate, and it’s a way that honors the Bible and the power of the gospel better than “love the sinner, hate the sin” or “open and affirming.” Whether or not it works is another matter. But I think it’s time to give it a try, especially if it could bear witness to a risen Lord better than the current rehashed moralism that we’re calling the gospel.

If you are an evangelical pastor who has felt the same troubled conscience that I have over your exclusion of gay, lesbian, and transgender people, you might try what the pastor who married C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman did: ask Jesus what you should do and do that, come what may.

 

Ken Wilson
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  • Doug Wilkening

    I agree with you that, inasmuch as we found a solution to the conundrum of divorce, we will eventually find a solution to the conundrum that gays present to our theology. But I don’t think you have yet found the best way. Simply asking Jesus is not enough, because we all have limitless capacity to deceive ourselves. Without a biblical frame of reference, our individual “Jesuses” are likely tell each of us what our own itching ears want to hear. Ten people ask “Jesus” apart from scripture, they get eleven different answers.

    With divorce, we basically say “let the past be the past, let’s acknowledge that we made a mistake and let’s start over.” With gayness, that same approach doesn’t work because gay is for life. I am inclined to ask instead, why do we treat the “gay lifestyle” as a special sin that bars entry, even as we welcome businessmen who for all we know may be swindlers, and high school and college students who may be cheating in school (are you aware of what percentage of students cheat, according to surveys? Our youth groups should replace those chastity rings with No Cheating rings, it would be more convicting).

    Why not put more emphasis on the fact that we are an organization of sinners in need of grace? That it’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick? There’s plenty of scripture and doctrine to support that, and if we really believed it, we wouldn’t bar entry to anyone. Here’s why we don’t do that. Too many Christians cling to those biblical statements against homosexuality to excuse our own sins as “not that bad.” Too many of us, like the Pharisee in the synagogue, are desperately in need of a greater sinner to look down on, to salve our own egos. In our day, gays serve that purpose for the modern-day Pharisee. Instead, we need to pay more attention to taking the beams out of our own eyes. We all have plenty of our own faults to work on, without calling out “gays” or anyone else. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone, is still good advice.

    Meditate on this verse for a while and see where it leads: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces….”

    • Ken Wilson

      Doug, my earlier reply didn’t get posted…so here it goes again. The analogous issue is remarriage, not divorce per se as your comment indicates. And the moral concern with marriage is that the remarried person is having sex with someone other than his or her spouse (in the eyes of God)…or having sex with someone who is married to another (in the eyes of God.) So it is precisely analogous. The grounds for legitimate remarriage after divorce used to be (by church consensus for hundreds of years) death of spouse. Then the reformers added a couple of VERY narrow exceptions. Even today, in the Catholic tradition a person who is remarried without annulment has only option option to be faithful: live celibate with his/her partner. Virtually no one practices this. Ground for annulment followed the same accomodating trajectory as grounds for divorce among the Reformation churches. Little practical difference.

      On the issue of “simply asking Jesus”. Simply asking Jesus isn’t always simple: it can lead to a very extended discernment process (mine took years, not months). But isn’t that exactly what Christians are called to do, with the conviction that “simply asking Jesus” is adequate? Because Jesus is alive and is committed to communicating with us. The burden isn’t just on us. The greater burden is on him. Of course, we can be deceived but deception applies to all our ways of knowing: prayer, interpreting scripture, trusting trusted authorities, etc.

      • Doug Wilkening

        Well said. Thank you.

  • Trip

    You make some good, important points in this post, but I think the main thrust of what you’re writing still misses the mark. First and foremost, the argument, “My church accepts this category of sinner without demonstrating conviction, correction, reconciliation or discipline, so how can I condemn this other category of sin,” is not biblical or helpful. The fact that this argument is becoming so prominent in the gay marriage and membership discussion goes to show that churches ought to take holiness and discipleship across all categories of sin far more seriously, instead of arguing for more passive tolerance and inaction on the basis of selective inaction in the past. The church should be more intentional about how it addresses divorce and remarriage in local congregations, and I am thankful to know faithful congregations that still are. I fear your argument demonstrates a higher commitment to what is comfortable and what seems nicest instead of what the Bible actually teaches.

    Second, as Doug points out below, a sin or sinful lifestyle practiced in the past and repented of is not the same nor should it be addressed the same as a sin or sinful lifestyle being practiced in the present progressive. There are certainly many Christians who have divorced and remarried in our churches, and I think brothers and sisters ought to lovingly but faithfully encourage them to acknowledge the wrongness of those decisions and actions. If they refuse to do so, it might be right to pursue a more serious form of church discipline, but if they do indeed repent that does not render their current marriage invalid. On the contrary, it should inspire them to treat their second marriage with higher honor and praise God for his restoring work.

    On the other hand, the willful acceptance into church membership of those living gay and lesbian lifestyles cannot be biblical. This is a heavy, sorrowful claim that every responsible Christian must wrestle with. It would certainly be much easier to not believe this, to create complex roundabouts of scriptural interpretation to say “This is what Paul actually meant,” or “This is how we can understand the teaching more appropriately in our cultural context,” but try as I might, I just keep coming back to what the Bible actually says about marriage, and I can’t get past it to realign with what would be more acceptable to my cultural context. Should we welcome gay and lesbian people to attend our church and hear the good news of Jesus with us? Undoubtedly. Should we do the hard work of learning what it means to love homosexual people well as Christian individuals and as church communities? Absolutely! I’m thankful that your article draws attention to the importance of Christians and churches wrestling with what that looks like. But can we just agree to disagree and let homosexuals be impenitent members and church leaders? That, to me, seems to go against what the Bible teaches.

    • Ken Wilson

      The concern about accepting remarried persons while excluding and lesbian persons is not the only grounds for my approach. It’s what got me discerning.
      And the Christian concern about remarriage after divorce (except in the most narrow of circumstances, for centuries the consensus seemed to include only the death of one’s spouse) is precisely that the remarriage constitutes ongoing adultery (having sex with someone who is not, in the eyes of God, your spouse.) It’s never, until recently, and often in response to the implications re care of people who are in covenantal same sex partnerships, been viewed as “one time” sin.

      • Shaun L’Esperance

        Mr. Wilson, thank you for engaging us in this great conversation. I have begun to read “A Letter to My Congregation” and I appreciate the thoughtful process that you have undergone to “honor the Bible and the power of the gospel” through it. I was wondering if you could speak to the comment from Trip – “a sin or sinful lifestyle practiced in the past and repented of is not the same nor should it be addressed the same as a sin or sinful lifestyle being practiced in the present progressive” as it pertains to this “welcome and wanted, third-way”. This has been a recurring question posed to me in this “conversation” among friends and family. Thank you again.

        • Ken Wilson

          Shaun, this from a reply buried above covers the issue (I think): The analogous issue is remarriage, not divorce per se. And the moral concern with re-marriage is that the remarried
          person is having sex with someone other than his or her spouse (in the
          eyes of God)…or having sex with someone who is married to another (in
          the eyes of God.) So it is precisely analogous. The grounds for
          legitimate remarriage after divorce used to be (by church consensus for
          hundreds of years) death of spouse. Then the reformers added a couple of
          VERY narrow exceptions. Even today, in the Catholic tradition a person
          who is remarried without annulment has only option option to be
          faithful: live celibate with his/her partner. Virtually no one practices
          this. Ground for annulment followed the same accomodating trajectory as
          grounds for divorce among the Reformation churches. Little practical
          difference.

          • Trip

            But I think there IS a significant practical difference if the biblical definition of marriage really is one man and one woman. In the case of remarried attenders and members, if the person was a member of the church at the time of divorce and/or remarriage, and the church took no steps to address, correct or discipline, then, as you seem to be pointing out, the church has failed in her duty to practice biblical discipline over her members. There’s really no arguing that the church has done a poor job of correcting and discipling divorcees, because divorce is explicit prohibited in scripture, yet so many churches keep watching from the sidelines. But again, just because we’ve failed in one area does not mean we not have license to fail in another.

            You bring up an important point in that one of the reasons what the church has to say in the areas of homosexuality is so impotent and seemingly irrelevant is because we haven’t taken holiness and biblical alignment seriously in so many other areas, especially in places like marriage and sexual purity. But that should inspire us to a new, more serious commitment to whole-life holiness, not to slack off in new places. “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:19

          • Joao

            Ken, one thing you keep mentioning is “no one practices this”. I fail to see how that is relevant. There are many right and God ordained things that at different times, “no one practiced”.
            Is practice an indication of the righteousness of a particular thing?
            I remember in a sermon long ago, when you mentioned Jesus talking about a man and woman leaving their parents and cleaving together in marriage in your sermon series on sex and particularly that day, on premarital sex.
            You acknowledged how ridiculous that concept sounded in today’s society. Shall we agree that abstaining from sex before marriage today is something practically no one practices? Should the church cease to teach on that too? If it does not promote abstinence long enough, should it cease to return to promoting it because it did not for a long time?
            I remember you also saying in the past that yes, God’s prescriptions of sex were restrictive, but that was because our bodies, like the Old Testament temple, which also had specific instructions on its construction and
            Puse, were His house. And then you asked this, I have never forgotten, ‘who does God think He is for telling us how to use our bodies’. Answering it with, ‘well, He is God’.
            You also said that in our society, if one has no sex, one is considered odd, repressed, likely not very well balanced. Yet Jesus was celibate, and we all agree He was the most well balanced person who existed.
            So what is so horrible about celibacy? Whether by choice, or because of an unbiblical divorce or homosexuality?
            I have been celibate my entire life, and that not by choice and under considerable protest. What I see open and affirming stance churches telling me is that I have wasted my energies in following scripture and should have taken advantage of the few opportunities I have had to engage in sex with women I have dated.

          • Richard Williams

            The issue for Christians in remarrying is not just about sex Ken. It is about the very fact that there is absolutely no reason why two Bible believing Christians should divorce. Christians have been given a ministry of reconciliation and if you fail in the second most important relationship in your life to be reconciled then that truly says something about you commitment to the biblical message of the gospel.

          • Elsa Wiens

            Well, Richard, one reason is that spousal abuse happens at the same rate within the church (ie: perpetrated by Bible believing people) as it does outside of the church. I have heard this from more than one Christian source. Are you saying that abuse, even life-threatening physical abuse, is “absolutely no reason” to divorce? I know many women whose abusive ex-husbands are Bible believing churchgoers, pastors, even missionaries. And a at least one Bible believing man who reluctantly divorced his abusive wife after many years of pain and prayer.

          • Dot

            Elsa, I feel very strongly about divorce. My husband and I divorced, after I found out he had committed bigomy. He had another wife of three months when I found out. I started divorce the same day. I have never remarried. People have told me….”.but if anyone has a right to re-marry, you do.” I disagree. Scripture makes it plain that there is only ONE grounds for divorce, and that is the death of a husband or wife. Either we obey scripture or we don’t. I regret that I divorced my husband, (but no regrets over kicking him out of my house, as he felt he could be both of our husbands, GAG), BUT, I wish I had let HIM divorce me. Let the sin of divorce be on HIS head. Why? I took a vow to be faithful to my husband, as long as I lived. I broke that vow, (though I know God forgives me), but scripture says it is better to not make a vow, than break it. You ask the question….”Are you saying that abuse, even life-threatening physical abuse, is “absolutely no reason” to divorce? I personally would leave that husband in this situation, but not divorce him. I do not believe God expects his children to be beat up on. If he divorced me, then that would be HIS sin to confess before God. Sometimes, (and I know this is true in my case), we jump into marriage for the wrong reasons. I have NO DOUBTS that I went against God, when I married my husband. I felt so strongly that I was making a mistake, that I almost cancelled the wedding one hour before it took place. God had another husband for me, and I even know who he was. We have to pay for our mistakes, though we are forgiven if we ask for forgiveness. I personally feel that I do not have SCRIPTURAL GROUNDS to re-marry, as I have a living husband in the eyes of God. (even though he is on his FIFTH wife). I feel I will be free to re-marry, ONLY at his death. I do not even date. I also do not believe, ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE, that a man who has been abusive to his ex-wife, and they have divorced, has Scriptural grounds to pastor a church. I would not want to hear him preach. He may be forgiven of this, but STILL, God lays out certain qualifications in scripture, for a man to pastor a church, and this man surely does not meet those qualifications. He still has a living wife, in the eyes of God, and he has put her away. (divorced). Anyway, not trying to answer for Richard Williams, but wanted to share this with you. You bring up some VERY good points.

          • Elsa Wiens

            Dot, I admire your strong convictions and dedication to the scriptures. I am confused, however. Please know that I have no desire to change your mind, because this seems to be working for you, but I would like to understand: why do you feel you must continue to be faithful to this man, when he has not been faithful to you? Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:32, and again in Matthew 19:9, that a man can divorce his wife for sexual infidelity, so why is it not okay for you to divorce your husband? Also, I don’t understand how you broke your vow to be faithful to him.
            I also got married without thinking it through properly. My ex and I corrected that mistake – we loved each other, but getting married was a bad idea. I personally believe in correcting our mistakes, if possible, rather than unnecessarily living out the painful consequences forever. I know that there are Bible verses that speak against divorce, but why are they there? What exactly is the sin here?
            I have a pastor friend (who is also married to a pastor), who counsels women in abusive marriages (and make no mistake: a man who secretly marries a second wife, while still married to the first one, is abusive). It is her belief, based on studying bible history, that Jesus spoke against divorce because the men in those times, were leaving their wives destitute, with no means of financial support, often taking their children from them. It was this abuse that Jesus sought to curtail. He did not mean, I hope, to condemn people to lives of misery or loneliness for the sake of a misinformed vow.
            But I promised that I wouldn’t try to change your mind, and I don’t want to do that. I have given more information than necessary so that you might understand why others feel it’s okay to get remarried.

          • Dot

            Elsa Wiens, THANK YOU for setting me straight on something. I made the comment that I wished I had let my husband divorce me, instead of me divorcing him, so the sin of divorce would be on HIS head. I searched scriptures this afternoon, and after reading for some time, realized that the divorce IS on his head. HE is the one who cheated continuously through 16 years of marriage, and finally committed bigomy against me. I never cheated during our marriage, and after 32 years, of being divorced, STILL haven’t cheated, as all I have done is have dinner with a couple of men, and insisted on a neighbor going with us. lol. Therefore, I am INNOCENT of the divorce. I was wrong too, in saying I broke my VOW to him, as I promised before God that I would remain faithful and true to this man, for life. I DID remain faithful to him, and still am!!!! I FEEL BETTER!!!! Now, regarding RE-MARRIAGE, that is an entirely different matter. I am totally convinced that it would be wrong for me to RE-MARRY, though I am the innocent party. To me, SCRIPTURE is very plain on this subject. Here are some scriptures that I base my beliefs on: I Corinthians 7: 10 & 11 – I Corinthians 7:39 – Luke 16:18 – Romans 7:3 – Romans 7: 1-3 Mark 10: 11 & 12. There are others, but these are the ones I quickly came up with.
            I am the only one of six children who divorced my husband, and being brought up that divorce was wrong, I felt some guilt over it. Now, I am letting that guilt go, as I see Scripture gave me the right to divorce my husband. BUT, in all honesty, about a year after my divorce, something miraculous happened. A Christian neighbor came to my house and asked me how I was doing. I told her fine. She said, “No, you aren’t. You are grieving over your divorce and feeling guilty, and you can’t get your mind off of him, as you are so angry over what he has done.” WOW. She couldn’t have been more accurate. She prayed for me, and that night when I went to bed, I realized for the first time in a year, I hadn’t even thought about my ex-husband. I no longer dwelled on him. I was tired of being ANGRY at him. TODAY, all I think about is receiving that monthly alimony check from Social Security, (we found him hiding in Argentina to avoid paying back child support and alimony), as Social Security is taking it out of his Social Security money, since he wouldn’t pay it on his own. He has to pay me alimony because he committed bigomy against me, and perjured himself in court. I feel NO GUILT over taking this money, as I struggled VERY HARD, with no wel-fare of any kind, and next to no help from him, while I was raising our three children. I have no feelings at all for this man, though I hope he repents and turns to Jesus for salvation.
            Anyway, THANK YOU again, for putting me into the scriptures. I have just always accepted that since I divorced HIM, and he didn’t divorce me, that I was guilty before God. Now, I know I am not. YES, I am HAPPY being single. I have no desire to ever remarry. God has given me that peace and contentment, for which I am very grateful. God bless and keep you.

          • Nor

            If something like this was haunting you so badly and for so long, it might be advisable to see someone about your feelings about it. Certainly it could be someone trained in the beliefs of your church, but also ideally someone who has been trained in clinical psychology. I can understand not ever wanting to be married again as well since your first experience was so harmful, but it seems so sad that this man who treated you so badly gets to shape that part of your future to the point of you writing marriage off for the rest of your life.

          • Richard Williams

            I know abuse is a sensitive subject, however abuse is not always the reason why those who say they are Christians divorce, sometimes it is because of “irreconcilable differences”, the very thing I am talking about.

            I have heard of some people being able to reconcile issues of abuse after a significant time of counselling and separation. It is an interesting subject in the sense of the heart of the abuser. You would think that those who are truly in a relationship with God would be able to come to grips with their behavior and that there would be help available to them to be able to acknowledge their behavior and change. Also, that goes for those who are victims and have allowed themselves to become victims. I know it isn’t easy to imagine that there could be reconciliation, but I am not sure that it is no easier than realizing that a significant abuser of the Christian population became the most significant writer of the New Testament ie. the apostle Paul.

            I suppose there could also be a discussion of whether or not we are really talking about a marriage of two Christians when there is a large amount of abuse in a relationship. It seems like it is possible we could be talking about either one or two people involved in a relationship who have never really understood the grace of God. What I have been talking about is a relationship between two people who seem to want to see themselves as bona fide Christians and who just seem to move on in their connection with the church despite having not being able to reconcile with one another.

          • Nor

            “victims who have allowed themselves to become victims” – can you clarify this for me? According to your church, you can’t have sex before marriage, which means you can’t live together before marriage (which puts a certain amount of pressure on marrying young I’d wager), so it’s actually pretty easy for an abuser to hide their behavior. Most women who have been in abusive relationships don’t experience abuse until they are pregnant, have given birth, or as seems likely in a faith where divorce is forbidden, after marriage. How have these women allowed themselves to become victims of abuse before marriage, if they never were abused before marriage?

      • Richard Williams

        Another thing I would like to mention regarding the issue of unreconciled relationships. It is not only at the core of the issue of divorce, but it is also at the core of the issue of homosexuality, although many people don’t consider it when discussing the issue and they should. There are different reasons why people choose homosexuality in the first place, but at the core of it is unreconciliation of events in the past and relationships – something not admitted in the mantra that people are born with these issues. We are born into sin, but the sin that we cling to is something that we learn. When Christians strive just to accept this sin without seeing what it is all about at its core, they are totally failing in their mission to bringing people to reconciliation.

    • tedhayes

      While I recognize how kind your remarks are intended to be, there is still a certain amount of subtle judgment that is unacceptable to me as a retired, ordained, former minister who is gay. I am an octogenarian, alone again after the death of my partner of monogamus decades.

      I would like to humbly request a few things of you:

      1) You mention “those living gay and lesbian lifestyles.” Would you please define for me “gay and lesbian lifestyles?” As stated above, I am in my 80s and I have never been able to find a gay or lesbian who can articulate what the “lifestyle” is. Yet those who oppose our being anything other than second class citizens “undeserving of equality,” seem to utter statements about our “lifestyle” regularly. So I earnestly seek your wisdom on the subject. Does it go along with the Catholic hierarchy’s thinking that it is okay to be homosexual as long as there is no sexual relationship involved? Since humans are sexual beings, that’s kinda like telling a canary it’s okay to be a bird as long it doesn’t sing.

      2) Speaking theologically, I am a sinner but homosexuality is not my sin. I agree that there are refrences in scripture to sex between two or more persons of the same gender, and I believe that all references to same relate to such things as idolatry, gang rape, inhospitality, etc. I, too, am opposed to behavior that would involve such, whether it be homosexual or between those of the heterosexiual “lifestyle.” I have yet to see one scriptural entry of any kind that refers to loving, committed, same-sex couples. Perhaps you have and I would appreciate your showing me such.

      3) I am a great believer in the fact that persons who read the Bible should do so as a means to CONFRONT their biases rather than as a tool to CONFIRM them. Can we agree on that or must we agree to disagree? My late partner was raised in a home where there was no exposure to religion of any kind and yet I saw in him more of the qualities of Jesus than those possessed by persons who would condemn us in the NAME of Jesus.

      4) Finally, I read that homosexuals cannot be “impenitent members” since that, to you, goes against what the Bible teaches. That observation and those immediately preceding it re: having us hear the good news of Jesus with you (so we can repent our homosexual lifestyle?) and learning to “love us well,” seem to smack of that old anit-gay standby, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” If I, the “sinner” am defined as the behavior they call “sin,” that statement doesn’t hold water. It really says, “Hate sinner, hate the sin.” As far as penitence is concerned, I am living out the remainder of my years as the person I believe God created me to be—gay and joyfully happy and fulfilled as I reflect on the decades that have preceded the present. I do not feel ashamed nor in need of confessing anything about my being gay. I cannot ever remember not being homosexual. It is simply who I am, not something I learned (from whom would I have learned it since I met no one else I knew to be gay until I was 47 years old?) or something I became. Can we agree or do we respectfully agree to disagree?

      I have met Ken Wilson only as a part of the internet community just like I am meeting you now. I think I would prefer to be a part of Ken’s church.

      • Trip

        Ted, I’m super frustrated because I just typed a long reply to your great comments, but apparently the moderator did not approve because I put an external link to another site. I hope to replicate what I wrote later this evening or tomorrow. Don’t think I’m ignoring you. You bring up some wonderful points here!

      • Andrea

        Thank you for sharing, Ted. Your perspective as a gay man is so valuable to this dialogue and helps those who are “straight” better understand what it means to be gay.

        So much of this debate seems to consist of misunderstanding sexual identity and the biblical instances of same-sex intercourse which consisted of rape, exploitation, orgy, and pedophilia. Jesus often dined with people who were outcasts in his contemporary society. I think we need to follow his example. As a result, I believe hearing the stories of our gay and trans* brothers and sisters will help us let go of our preconceived notions about gender, sexuality, same-sex attraction and same-sex relationships. Ultimately, I think we’d discover that monogamous same-sex/gender relationships are completely different from what is discussed in the bible regarding instances of inhospitality, gang rape, exploitation, idolatry, and prostitution. Not because we’d suddenly want to be more fair to our friends or more current with the times and thus alter our view on scripture, but because we’d realize that their experience does not match the biblical instances of same-sex intercourse.

        • tedhayes

          Thanks very much for kind remarks and for your understanding.

          • Nor

            Ted, in case this passes you by as the thread is old, go on youtube and search for Conchita Wurst – Rise Like a Phoenix (Austria) 2014 Live. He won the Eurovision contest this year, voted in, 125 million viewers, Europe’s version of American Idol. Cheered me right up after reading the comments here.

      • Trip

        Okay, let’s try this again: Ted, I greatly appreciate your heartfelt comments, because I can tell you’re someone who’s wrestled with and thought through these issues on a personal level. Thanks so much for commenting respectfully and giving me a chance to better explain myself. Let me see if I can respond to each of your points in turn:

        1) I really don’t like the word “lifestyle” in this context either, but it’s the best term I’ve found to express what I think is an important distinction, between those who experience same sex attraction and those who act on said attraction in a sexual or romantic way. I’m definitely open to terminology that better expresses that distinction; Do you have suggestions for me as to how I might express what I’m trying to express in a more appropriate, gentler way? I don’t mean for the word “lifestyle” to seem derogatory, reductionist or hateful, but as you rightly pointed out, because the voices who use that term the most and the loudest often exhibit such attitudes, I find that it does unfortunately communicate those negatives even when I don’t mean for it to.

        That said, I do adhere to the belief that same sex attraction itself is not a sin (though I would argue that it is a result of the Fall, but that’s a different discussion, I think), but that acting on that attraction sexually or romantically is sinful. And I don’t think that’s me “asking the canary not to sing,” as you put it. To say that humans are sexual beings is fair, but to say that we are primarily sexual beings is, I think, too narrow. The argument that we “need” sex or romance has been used in the past to justify, among other things, pornography use, one-night-stand living, adultery and divorce, and I don’t think it’s true or helpful. We are relational beings, and the sad truth is the church has done a poor job of presenting viable alternatives to romantic love (this is mostly due to our cultures rampant idolization of romantic love as the most significant type of love), but that doesn’t mean such alternatives are not real or valid. I could say more on this, but I think it would be more worthwhile to direct you to the work of Wesley Hill and the other contributors to his Spiritual Friendship blog (this is the URL that got my original post canned, so I guess you’ll have to Google it) for people who have given richer thought to this than I have.

        2) I’ve heard the biblical arguments for the validity of monogamous, committed, same-sex, marriage-type relationships, and as much as I’d like to be, I’m just not convinced. I agree that most of the negative incidents given in the Old Testament are heinous acts that should not be cited primarily as arguments against homosexuality, but to say that solves the whole issue is, again, too narrow. Most of these arguments represent complex, roundabout exegeses that seem far more indicative of the bias confirmation you mention in your third point than the biblical arguments I hear against homosexual acts. Moreover, one of the central and consistent themes of scripture, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, is the idea of marriage as a representation of the relationship between Christ and the church, and in every case, that relationship is explained as a bride and a groom. In other words, I think the “zoomed out” message of scripture is more convincing than any one passage, though I do think we can “zoom in” on passages and find strong evidence as well.

        That said, if you have searched the scriptures under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and have arrived at a different conclusion than I have, I respect that. I know homosexual people who have developed a mature, biblical view that affirms gay marriage and membership, and while I don’t agree with it, I can respect it. Unfortunately I find that for most people the argument boils down to, “How can God make someone this way then not let them love the way they want to?” That, to me, is a cop out that reduces God to a single attribute and has no basis in scripture. I center on the authority of scripture, and I interpret scripture to say that homosexual living is sinful. Which brings me to your next point…

        3) To me, the argument that I’m merely confirming my biases just doesn’t make sense. If anything, it’s an argument in the other direction. I have friends who are homosexual or struggle against same-sex attraction. I have former friends who have severed all ties with me because when they asked me what I thought about homosexuality, I told them what I thought the Bible said. It would be so much easier for me to flip sides on this, like Ken has done, and I have friends who are fighting hard against same-sex attraction in light of there understanding of the scriptures who have even more reason to flip. In our cultural context, it is easier to say, “We must have been wrong about this. Surely this is permissible.” But, try as I might, I can’t see the grounds for that in scripture.

        As for the second part of your third point, I would never argue that your partner or any homosexual person is worse than I am. I know myself better than I know anyone, and so I know I’m the worst sinner I know. I know many gay people who are kinder, more compassionate, wiser, etc. than most of the heterosexual people I know, and I know lots of Christians who are jerks. At the end of the day, I believe the most important thing I can say to ANY person is, “You are a sinner in need of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross unto imputed righteousness.” But I also believe the proper spiritual response to receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior is to begin to pursue holiness according to his word, and I think that’s a truth worth proclaiming as well. The most disappointing thing to me about Ken’s article here is that he seems to be saying, “We’ve slacked off in this area, surely we can slack in this one as well.” Maybe I’m misinterpreting.

        4) I also agree with you, Ted, that the old “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is tired and mostly damaging in this conversation. It may have meant something meaningful at some point, but because it’s often wielded as a rude stick by the loudest conservative voices, it’s come to be connected with all the attitudes and hatred you cited. I think I’m called, as a follower of Christ, to love all people because all people are created in God’s image. I also believe that all people need Jesus’ saving grace, and that being gay does not disqualify someone from receiving salvation. But unfortunately what “Agree to disagree” often means in this conversaton is that I have to accept and affirm a pro gay marriage and membership worldview, and that I cannot do because of my own biblical convictions.

        I’d love for you to come to my church, Ted. I’d love to meet you and know you and sit with you as we hear the word preached and fellowship together. But if your primary requirement for attending my local body is that we practice some sort of apathetic, don’t-ask-don’t-tell “tolerance” for alleged “disputable matters,” I do suspect you would prefer Ken’s church to mine. But maybe churches like mine would surprise you if you sat down and heard what we had to say…

        • anakinmcfly

          As a quick note: while I can understand (though disagree with) considering gay sexual relationships to be sinful, there is absolutely no biblical basis for doing the same with gay romantic relationships. I’m gay (and a virgin who has never so much as held hands with someone in a non-platonic way) and there is so much I would give to be able to fall in love with someone and have that reciprocated and turned into a lifelong partnership, even if it means we never have sex; and I cannot understand – based even on the most conservative interpretations of Scripture – how that kind of love, and sexless love at that, could be sinful in any way.

          • Trip

            anakinmcfly (Haha, love the username, btw; Star Wars + Star Fox?), that’s a really interesting point that I admittedly haven’t given much thought to. Thanks for encouraging me to dig deeper and think more. I guess I’d want to hear from you, as someone who’s thought more about this and has more at stake personally: How do you distinguish between romantic relations and sexual relations? The reason I struggle with your argument is because I’ve found that they’re usually connected and can’t be disconnected for long with positive results. Certainly in the short term we can have sex without romance (one-night stands and hook ups, friends with benefits, guys being jerks to the women who care about them, etc.) or romance without sex (dating, courting and engagement, long distance relationships, etc.) but can a healthy, non-platonic relationship exist in either of those realms long term? I’ve never seen it, but you may have. And to your point, I do think there’s biblical support for my perspective, but I’d love to hear more about what you think the Bible says on this.

            You bring up another good point, which brings me back to what I said to Ted above, that the church has done a poor job of demonstrating healthy alternatives to romantic relationships. (I hate that we Christians have elevated romance, “true love,” wedding ceremonies, et al to the idolatrous heights that we have, but that’s a different soapbox.) If we’re willing to say we think Christians experiencing same-sex attraction are called to chastity/celibacy, then we need to be emphatic that there are other great ways to experience real relational intimacy. This is not only applicable to SSA Christians, but also those called to singleness for a season or for life. And what I love about the Bible is that Paul speaks so directly about how incredible single Christians can be at serving the church and loving brothers and sisters well. Again, for more on this, I’d direct you to the blog Spiritual Friendship and the work of Wesley Hill.

            A number of years ago I had a good friend who dealt with same-sex attraction and was one of the first people I knew who was courageous enough to talk openly about that struggle with brothers in Christ. He was convinced that holding hands with male friends was a positive way for him to experience the gift of physical touch in a platonic yet intimate way, and after hearing his reasoning, I couldn’t argue. So many of the physical cues that we view as romantic or sexual today are culturally or historically specific, so I’m very open to the idea that there are good ways to express love, intimacy and friendship physically but not romantically. But I’ve found, in my own life and in the lives of people I know, that sustained romantic connections often lead to sexual connections, and if the Bible prohibits sexual connection outside of marriage, it’s wise for us to tend toward avoiding the romantic connections that would lead me there.

            What are your thoughts on all this?

          • anakinmcfly

            (I wrote a reply a while back, but looks like it didn’t get through because it had external links; so here it is again!):

            ‘McFly’ is from Back to the Future, actually! Thanks for your reply.

            “How do you distinguish between romantic relations and sexual relations?”

            I’d consider the latter to involve sex and the former not to. I know of gay and lesbian couples in non-sexual romantic relationships, some because of their religious convictions, others for health reasons, others because they’re not particularly interested in sex. In some ways it’s no different from straight married couples who don’t have sex for whatever reason – health, old age, personal preference – but whose relationships are still fundamentally more intimate and different from close friendships. I mean, there are probably a lot of elderly straight couples out there who haven’t had sex in years, but most people would consider that different from a non-platonic friendship. So I think sex and romance can be disconnected; on my part at least, my desire for a partner is driven much more by romance than sex. While it would definitely be difficult, I could live without sex and die a virgin. But I struggle a lot more thinking about spending the rest of my years without another person to journey through life with, to go home to each day, to look after each other when we each fall ill, to have meals together, to hold hands with, to share my joys and sorrows with, to be willing to sacrifice my life for, till death do we part. Sure, I can do some of those things with some of my friends. But it’s not quite the same. There’s still that desperate, gaping romance void in my life that yearns to be filled, and I would gladly and enthusiastically give up the chance to ever have sex if it meant I could have a relationship like that. Friends aren’t the same, even close friends. If it were, no straight guy with lots of friends would ever feel a need for a girlfriend or wife.

            Your friend’s account actually troubles me, because trying to fulfill desires for romantic/sexual intimacy with non-platonic alternatives feels like it could easily lead to an unhealthy sexualisation of those experiences. If I were constrained to meeting all my sexual/romantic desires through non-platonic ways, they wouldn’t remain non-platonic for very long, and I can’t see that ending well for anyone involved. At the very least, it could make friendships very awkward.

            Regarding Biblical support, I’ve spent years praying and reading up on everything I could about this, delving into the historical and linguistic contexts of the original Bible verses, and have reached a point where I cannot – intellectually or spiritually – believe or defend the view that homosexual relationships are inherently more sinful than heterosexual ones, particularly in the context of loving, committed monogamy.

            Have you read ‘Torn’ by Justin Lee? It’s currently the best and most balanced (and entertaining!) book I’ve read on the subject, and while the author comes out on the side of affirming gay relationships, he respects that others may have different views from him. On the internet there’s the speech (available as transcript) by Matthew Vines, which you might have seen before. It’s less thorough, but covers all the main arguments.

            But for me, the final argument lies in how I don’t, and can’t, believe that God would consider it sinful for me – or anyone else – to fall in love with another person in a way that makes me willing to lay my life down for him without a thought. (I might do that for a couple of close friends, but I’d probably have to think about it first.) It would suggest that God made me inherently broken or lesser, to the point that *any* romantic or sexual feeling I experience is somehow sinful temptation in a way that it wouldn’t be for someone who is straight.

            There’s also the matter of following the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law: *Why* would homosexuality be considered immoral and sinful? The main, instinctive reason that comes to mind is that because for straight people, practising homosexuality would involve a perversion of their natural sexuality for the sake of hedonistic pleasure. Sexual orientation as a concept only came about in the 19th century; before that, and as of the time the Bible was written, all people were assumed to be straight, and any homosexuality on their part thus considered to be a perversion, and wrong. But I think the spirit of the law there is that: when it comes to sex, people should not pursue what is unnatural to them. For straight people, that would be homosexuality. But for gay people, it would be the opposite. There have been so many gay people pressured into heterosexuality with disastrous results, because *that* was sexual perversion, for them, and it ended up destroying their lives (some tried escaping through drugs, affairs, suicide) and those of the unfortunate people who got roped in with them.

            While some people are called to celibacy, and that too is good, not everyone is, and for them Paul says that it is better to marry than to burn. But what then for gay people denied the former option?

          • Michael Sureda

            I like the conversation and agree that GOD, Jesus and the wise on their behalf would answer to seek in prayer the answer.

            Lust is the sin condemned not love. For whatever the Lord has joined together, let no one rend asunder.

            I subscribe to the miracle of the CS Lewis’, havingexperienced similarly first hand.

            Our love of God and others is already known for its purity and genuineness. To be judged by the Lord alone in the end. Near death experience more than once, has also confirmed it, plus more than any church, Bible, Koran, or Talmud can say. They are all incomplete, just as we are personally, until our own blessed day when we are one, once again in God’s embrace. The most calm & peaceful condition imaginable. Some are sent for a purpose. Jesus was mangled for that freedom, just like my totalled car; that I could walk away in peace without the blood sacrifice already provided.

            I am a sinner, but I am graced to know unquestionably, just how much I am loved here and beyond. Faith to be shared anywhere with a full and lloving soul.

        • Cindy Callahan

          Excuse me for interrupting, but I really must point out the serious flaw in your “zoomed out” message regarding the church as the bride of
          Christ. Yes, this is a consistent theme seen in numerous places throughout scripture, but to use that to say that because it always refers to a bride and groom it speaks to marriage as being between man and woman only is a complete
          twisting of the spirit of the “zoomed out” view of scripture. The relationship between Christ and the church has absolutely nothing to do with either sex or gender. So how is that you think that it can speak to such matters outside of a
          conformational bias? If we were to impose gender on the relationship between Christ and his “bride”, what exactly would that look like? If we think of Jesus in the male form in which he walked the earth, do we then say that only women can make up the bride of Christ? Sounds absolutely ridiculous doesn’t it? That’s because it is. The relationship between Christ and his bride has nothing to do
          with gender. It has nothing to do with (pardon my crassness) penis meets vagina. The image of Christ and the church as bride and groom is used throughout scripture because it is relatable, because marriage is the closest human relationship that can be understood to reflect the relationship that God desires with his beloved, one that goes beyond even the parent child relationship that dominates much of the Old Testament. To suggest that an almost identical loving relationship between two men or two women could not reflect this just as well simply because it fails to involve interlocking genitalia (again I don’t mean to be crass but that is really the difference that we are
          talking about here) is ludicrous. It would have been equally ludicrous for any of the inspired writers of the bible to compare Christ and the church to groom and groom or bride and bride at the time that it was written. Saying that this should have something to say about the gender specificity of marriage today would be no different than saying that since Jesus most often related to people using fishing, agriculture, and animal husbandry metaphors, there must be something particularly God-like about those professions and since he never once used a computer metaphor, we can safely assume that the use of modern technology can never be blessed by God (as some do in fact believe). I’m being a little facetious now I admit, but not without a point. God has always communicated to his people in ways that they can understand in the context in which they live.

          But even more to the point, marriage throughout history has progressed toward the modern notions involving loving romantic relationships.
          For much of history, marriage had little to do with love romantic or otherwise and much more to do with property rights and the merging of groups. It’s progression into a more loving commitment between two people has happened over many centuries. But if you zoom out as you suggest and look at the bible and can conceive that it is actually a progressive collection of books, you can see that progression happening on its very pages. It’s actually rather hard to imagine, for example, Paul’s admonish for husbands to love their wives with the self-sacrificing love of Christ for the church being expounded in the days of the Old Testament.

          So too, has the relationship between God and his people progressed toward a much more intimate relationship (perhaps another reason why
          marriage is such a good reflection of that relationship). And that brings me to the question that I really want to ask you in all sincerity. In light of Jesus’ proclamation that the entirety of the law and the prophets is summed up in two commandments, to love God and to love your neighbour, and Paul’s further reduction to all things being covered by our love toward one another (being that we cannot truly show love toward God apart from through loving our brethren), how do you fit a continued stance that all sexual or romantic relationships between gay people are sinful? How do you view such relationships as violating the law of love? Or do you see this as the one exception to the rule,
          the one thing that the law of love does not cover but remains sinful none the less? This is a serious question. I’m not trying to trick you. What fundamental difference do you see between a loving committed marriage between two men or two women versus one between a man and a woman? What makes one a reflection of incredible intimacy between Christ and the church and the other a reflection only of the sinfulness of man? How are these things internally consistent to you? I honestly would like to understand.

          • Trip

            Cindy,

            Perhaps some of the confusion here arises from the fact that I’m moving from the top down – saying Christ and the church is the definitive, eternal reality by which marriage, as a symbol of that higher reality, is defined – whereas you seem to be arguing that because we can’t find or understand the specific anatomical aspect that would allow us to connect that analogy to the spiritual reality, we can’t make a “zoomed out” claim about what marriage – you’re arguing from the bottom up. You’re right, the Bible uses many metaphors to explain our relationship to God and vice versa, but marriage is not just a metaphor, but a God-ordained, objectively defined institution that is meant to represent the reality of Christ and the church, not just partially describe it (though it does that as well). The only other type of relationship I can think of that comes close to marriage in that regard is fatherhood. So you can’t just say that anatomically it doesn’t make sense or that culturally it’s just like using a fishing metaphor, because you’re arguing metaphor-up, while in this case we have to think from the God-defined eternal reality downward.

            You also seem to be operating from an egalitarian view of gender (i.e. both men and women are the same in every way except genital anatomy), but the Bible presents a consistently complementarian view (i.e. male and female are equally valued by God and equal in their image-bearing status, but reflect his character in different ways, and as such have equal but different roles in relationships and in the church). On those grounds scripture posits that marriage is always necessarily one man and one woman, because the two together give a fuller representation of the God in whose image we are made. That is the answer to your “What’s the fundamental difference” question. God has made men and women fundamentally different, and he has commanded us to live and operate with respect to those fundamental differences. We can and should do so by the power of his Spirit and the guidance of his word. That’s what I mean by the whole-Bible, “zoomed out” argument. And, as I said in my first post, that argument is supported by “zoomed in” interpretations of specific passages of the Bible.

            To your final question, the problem is that we as Western, 21st-century thinkers have, in our folly, come to the conclusion that loving someone means affirming them in whatever they do, and biblically speaking nothing could be further from the truth. Homosexuality is not “the one thing that the law of love does not cover,” it’s just the biggest hot-button issue in our culture today. If what the Bible says about gender, sexuality and marriage is true, it is not loving for me to affirm same-sex marriage, homosexual sex, etc., in the same way that it is not loving for me to affirm any sex act outside of marriage, harsh sarcasm, pride, disrespect of parents, divorce… You’re following the same line of logic as Ken: “We turn a blind eye to all these other sin categories, why not do that with homosexuality.” I’m saying, the whole Bible is the authoritative word of God, and we should affirm its authority to define and guide all areas of lives.

          • Cindy Callahan

            I’m sorry, but you really need to explain to me how you view your imposing of a gendered view onto marriage from the relationship between
            Christ and the church which is not gendered represents a top down view while my saying that the lack of a gendered relationship between Christ and the church precludes one from using said relationship to impose a gendered view on marriage is bottom up? That makes absolutely no sense. My whole point was that if we started with Christ and the church (top down) rather than with the bride and groom comparison (bottom up) we don’t get the gendered view. So let’s try this again in your words, if we start with Christ and the church as the definitive, eternal reality by which marriage, as a symbol of that higher reality, is defined, how do we then impose a necessarily gendered relationship from a non-gendered relationship?

            And yes, I do in fact hold an egalitarian view of gender (as well as other differences within the human race) but no, that does not mean
            that I believe that men and women are the same in every way except genital anatomy. That is not what egalitarian means. Egalitarian means that I hold all people regardless of gender, race, or culture to be fundamentally equal. With respect to gender, it means that I hold men and women to be fundamentally equal, not “equal but different” which is a euphemism for “they’re not really equal, but we don’t want to admit that we feel that way”, but simply equal. There are differences, even biologically, between men and women which go beyond genital anatomy. And there are huge social differences. And statistically, there are traits which we view as masculine or feminine for a reason (although
            just how much of that is natural and how much is socially constructed is a whole other matter). The problem I have with complementarianism is that it takes differences that are statistically significant and imposes them on individuals regardless of whether they fit or not. On an individual basis, statistically significant differences break down, whether on a gender level, or a race level, or even a cultural level. Every man and woman on this earth is an individual possessing their own unique balance of what we call masculine and feminine characteristics. The masculine characteristics are deemed by us to be masculine precisely because statistically speaking men (as a group) tend to display
            those characteristics to a greater degree than do women (as a group). As individuals however, we all have a mixture of both types of characteristics to varying degrees. Trying to force people into boxes in which they do not fit so that you can live in your comfortable binary world is a very harmful practice. It is what has led to the subjugation of women for centuries (and to this day to more or less degrees in various parts of the world). And it hasn’t exactly done great things for men either, to be frank.

            That the bible was written in a patriarchal society is not an excuse for Christians not to evolve beyond patriarchy. But that is what comes from attempting to make the bible into one congruent whole and thus blinding ourselves to the progression within its pages. That is what you are doing, for example, when you say: “On those grounds scripture posits that marriage is always necessarily one man and one woman,” which is something that somebody not attempting to squeeze the bible into one neat little package would never say since it requires ignoring huge sections of it. The standard of most of the Old Testament was not monogamy, it was in fact polygamy (technically polygyny since there were no women with multiple husbands) and there is no way you don’t know that, but you pretend otherwise so that you can make these blanket statements that are simply not true. And yes, I am familiar with the typical dismissal of how things were in the Old Testament as something that was not how God really wanted things but he “put up with it” or “winked at it” in the past even though his plan was always one man and one woman. However, there is no getting around it, that is being disingenuous with scripture since scripture actually says, for example, that God gave David many wives, that it was a blessing from God and in fact that He would have happily given him even more. So then we turn to
            the other classic response, that God “allowed” (even though scripture makes it clear that God did more than allow it) polygamy for a time because it was necessary in order to build up the population of the struggling nation of Israel. The problem with this interpretation is that, if true, it would actually reveal that God is in fact perfectly ok with altering the structure of marriage to suit the needs of the given period of time. It still doesn’t let you get away with claiming that scripture posits that marriage is ALWAYS necessarily one man and one woman.

            So now, how about we admit what really happened. The movement away from polygamy toward monogamy was a societal change (and a good
            one in my humble opinion) which corresponded with the move away from patriarchy toward a more egalitarian society (and we still have a ways to go on that front). Even today, in societies that still practice extreme patriarchy (such as what we see throughout much of the bible) polygamy is still considered perfectly acceptable. As society changed, the church adapted (as it has on many issues) and re-interpreted scripture to fit the new norm. I know this is a difficult thing for most to admit to, but the church has always done this as society evolves. Slavery is another prime example. The bible nowhere prohibits slavery. It sets some rules for slavery, but nothing in it says that slavery is inherently wrong. For this reason the bible was used for a long time in support of continued slavery. But eventually, the progressives won, slavery was abolished, and pretty much the whole of the church eventually came to accept slavery as inherently immoral and re-interpreted scripture to have always been against slavery.

            Personally I find this approach very disingenuous, and I think it is the primary reason why the church is so often lagging behind society as a whole in important matters of social justice when we should in fact be at the forefront of such issues. I find it particularly frustrating that people use the writings of Paul to stall such progress, when in fact, the writings of Paul were actually very progressive for the time in which they were
            written. But that’s a whole other topic. Eventually, the church (as a whole, not just pockets) will come around to accepting full equality for LGBTQ people and when it does, I guarantee, just as with monogamy, just as with slavery, just as with racial equality, we will re-interpret scripture as having always been clear on the matter and future generations of Christians will say of those using the bible to stall said equality that they were twisting scripture and that anyone who looks at scripture honestly could only conclude that equality was the only option from the beginning (just as we now say of those who used the bible to defend slavery not so long ago). And thus we will successfully re-write history just as we have already time and time again. And future generations within the church will struggle with future “hot-button” topics in exactly the same manner. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

            Your response to my final and only truly important question tells me that you completely misunderstood the question. Perhaps that is my fault, perhaps I didn’t come across as clearly as I thought I had. Because this question is so important, I’d really like to try again. I wasn’t asking you how your response to gay people could be loving. That is the question you answered, but it was not the question I was asking at all. Let me start by explaining exactly what I mean when I say the law of love, since that is a rather loaded term. Under the old covenant, God laid down the law, given to the people through Moses and expounded upon by various prophets. Basically, there were 613 rules that the people of God were to follow to stay in proper relationship with God. There were of course various channels set up to restore oneself when one inevitably failed to live up to the law in its entirety. I won’t dwell on this as I’m sure you know exactly what I am referring to. So then, along comes Jesus and establishes a new covenant, fulfilling the old and bringing us into a more intimate relationship with God (direct relationship, no need to go through a priest, etc.) And so, we as Christians are told very clearly (again and again) that we are not under the law. But the law wasn’t abolished, it was fulfilled. I like to refer to our current situation as being under the law of love. What I mean when I say that, is that we don’t have 613 rules to stay in good standing with God. Instead, we are placed and kept in good standing with God (righteousness) through Jesus. And through Jesus, God has written his law on our hearts now just as He promised He would. This is the law of love. As Jesus said, all of the law and the prophets can be summed up in two commandments: love God and love our neighbours. This is not a watered down version of the old law. In fact, it is far more demanding. This is what Jesus explained when he told people that before you were told not to kill, but in fact, hating your brother is the same as being a murderer. Before you were told you couldn’t commit adultery, but in fact, lusting after another man’s wife is the same as committing adultery. And so forth. The law of love is more demanding (but that’s ok because we have more power now and more grace). Part of the old law, was the purity codes, which were established to set God’s people apart from other nations. We don’t follow the purity codes as Christians because they are not covered by the law of love (but again the law of love is actually more not less
            demanding). It does not violate the law of love for example to eat pork. You are not being unloving to anybody when you eat pork. It does not violate the law of love to consume pork. You are not being unloving to anybody when you wear a poly-cotton blend t-shirt. Wearing mixed fabrics does not violate the law of love. Harsh sarcasm is unloving. It violates the law of love. Disrespecting your parents is unloving. It violates the law of love. I could go on, but hopefully I’ve made my point enough that you will properly understand my question. I posit, that only things that violate the law of love can be considered sinful. If we could reach the point of perfect love, we would never sin. Jesus never sinned, even though he sometimes violated the letter of the law. Obviously, we all fall far short of that ideal, but it is (or should be) what every Christian strives toward. Not out of duty, but out of the love of God within us. We no longer have a long list of do’s and don’ts to govern us. Instead of striving to perfect holiness through our actions, we have the perfect love of God within us, through the Holy Spirit, and our actions are to
            flow out of that love. That love is more demanding than a written list of rules, in part because it deals with our hearts rather than just our actions. But also in part because it isn’t as clear-cut as a nice black and white list of rules. This is why it was absolutely necessary that the Holy Spirit come to dwell in us in order for the law of love to even be possible. We need that intimate guiding of the Holy Spirit to follow the law of love. We can’t learn a bunch of rules to keep because the exact same actions can be loving in one circumstance and completely unloving in another. This is why we are told that the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. So we must trust to the guiding of the Holy Spirit if we are to follow the law of love.

            Now that you, hopefully, know where I’m coming from, let me try asking my question again. How does marriage between two men or two women
            violate the law of love? Again, I am not asking whether your stance for or against is loving. You have judged that all homosexual romantic/sexual relationships are sinful regardless of the context. If that is the case, there must be something inherent in such relationships that violates the law of love. Either that, or this is in fact the one case that is not covered by the law of love. And by that, I am again not referring to anybody’s affirming or not affirming gay marriage. I am saying that you can name any sinful behaviour and I can tell you how it violates the law of love. And if there is a context for which it doesn’t, then in that context it is not sinful. Some things are inherently sinful regardless of context. For example, there is no context in which committing adultery is not sinful, as there is no context in which that is not
            unloving toward at least the spouse being cheated on, if not others. But many behaviours are sinful or not depending on context. You are saying, that there is no context in which two gay people can have a romantic/sexual relationship which is not sinful. I am asking, what do you believe is inherent in a gay relationship that violates the law of love? Or, do you believe that gay relationships are the one and only sin that is a sin without violating the law of love? That is my question. I await your thoughtful response.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Word.

          • Elsa Wiens

            Cindy, this is by far the most thoughtful, articulate, loving treatment of this issue I’ve read to date. I am in awe of your thinking process and your way with words. I would love to quote from your post. May I?

          • Michael Grady

            I’d say that heterosexual marrieds violate their marital vow almost every day, according to statistics. If one includes contraception as a violation, maybe you see what I mean. Until 1930″ every Protestant denomination condemned it. Now we have, what is taken for granted “sterile sex”.

            As you can see, I am a man. But it’s my responsibility, with my wife, to help monitor her fertility. Fertility is a subject that you did not even bring up in your lengthy discourse. No great surprise. It has been entirely suppressed over the last 3 generations or so.

            Yes, I am a catholic, but natural family planning is not a religious practice. It is a practice to help us not to sin against our own bodies: a major theme in the bible. Statistics speak for themselves. People who do this practice rarely if ever divorce

            It is derogatory to refer to people as gay, straight, hetero or homosexual. All these terms refer to sinning against one’s body. To sin against one’s body is NOT supposed to be a normal condition for anyone claiming to be a follower of Christ. They all refer to porneia, a Genitocentric sexual oriented mentality.

            In contrast to genitocentrism, a cerebrocentric centered mentality -one in which we recognize that the brain is the primary sexual organ – recognizes spirituality, the emotions, intellectualism, the physical nature of responsible affection, our communication as true expressions of sexual activity. In this regard, Jesus could be viewed as entirely sexually active while leading a celibate life. There are sexually inactive celibates and sexually active ones. We strive to be sexually active in all of these ways, just like Jesus was when he walked the earth.

        • ThisBethesdaSea

          I must protest. As much as I have enjoyed reading these respectful and well written responses…..when you require or expect some one who is born with a same sex attraction to not act on the attraction because that act is sin, it is INDEED, requesting that a swan stay grounded, for the act of flight is a sin. It’s ludicrous to assert that.

          In the acceptance of your heterosexual persona, and the ease that it allows you to interact with your spouse or significant other in public, you then state that those of homosexual ilk should be wary of expressing their idea of love because some how, that love and it’s acts are tainted. How dare you. That should offend everyone.

          • Trip

            ThisBethesdaSea,

            I want to ask what grounds you’re making your protest from? Your comment is an example of a common argument in this discussion: “If God made people this way, how can he not let them love whoever they want, however they want?” Such an argument is appealing to the sinful desires of our fallen natures, but it is not biblical. God made us in his image as relational beings, and one of the primary types of relationships he allows us to experience and express that reality in is the marriage/romantic/sexual relationship. But in his word God also gives defined parameters/moral standards for how that relationship is to exist. Because of the Fall of Adam and our own sin natures, we seek to reject those standards – it’s important to note that this not just an issue for homosexual people, but all people – so saying that someone with same sex attraction should fight the urge is not “asking the swan not to fly,” it’s asking the human made in God’s image to live according to the ordinances God has established for his or her life. That is what the Bible teaches, and as I said above it would be easier for me to ignore that or reinterpret that or try to change that, but I can’t deny the word of God. And if the Bible is the authoritative word of God (I believe it is), and it has something to say about sexuality and marriage (I believe it does), it is objectively ludicrous and offensive to reject God’s teaching. How dare you?!

            I recognize that if this is the only assertion of scripture I promote consistently or get passionate about, I’m asking homosexual people to do something that I’m not doing myself. But the reality is that the Bible also has a lot to say about the specific sin in my life, and thus my need for repentance, mortification of my sin nature, and growth in holiness. By God’s grace, I struggle hard every day to put to death the desires of my flesh and the habitual sin in my own life. I hope and pray that I’ll never live for long as a hypocrite who points out other’s sin but does nothing about his own. But again, what this boils down to is not primarily what I think or what you think is best or easiest, but what the Bible actually says.

            The most important thing the Bible says is that while we were still rebellious sinners, Christ died to justify, rescue and reconcile us. That is true for the worst sinner I know – me! – and for you, for homosexual and heterosexual people, for all people. That’s the best news, and it’s where we have to begin: Have you cast your faith upon Christ, putting all your eggs in the basket of Christ’s perfect life and substitutionary death to make you righteous? If so, I believe I’ll see you in heaven. But we don’t stop there. God tells us in his word what it looks like to live properly in response to that good news, and I want to pursue that truth faithfully as well.

          • ThisBethesdaSea

            Trip,

            I appreciate and admire the time you took to address my reply. Obviously, take one look at my Disqus avatar, and you’ll know where I stand in terms of my sexual orientation.

            I must respectfully continue to take you to task. Having been raised steeped in the bowels of extreme Christianity, and as I continue to mature in my own spiritual life at 38 years old, your language is not unfamiliar. What I learn as I age is that I know less and less. What I only know to be true is that God loves me. That’s it. I try to listen to that still small voice to the best of my ability. I heartily believe that’s what we all should be doing. Essentially minding our own business. The word of god is written on our hearts. I also firmly stand by the notion that god doesn’t need help. God doesn’t need help being heard, speaking to it creation or crossing the road.

            God and the bible are very different things however connected the two can be. The bible doesn’t say anything, the bible isn’t a person, nor is it referenced as being the lost component of the trinity. I think that’s an important distinction that has to be made. It’s important for me.

            I knew I was different when I was 4. I knew that I gravitated towards boys my age in terms of childhood crushes more then girls. My desire to be loved by a person of the same sex has been present for as long as I’ve held consciousness. Be careful Trip, be careful that your interpretation and explanation doesn’t come off as exacerbating. That’s my perception. If you cannot see and understand that requesting that gay people abstain from sexual desires or acts, as you then go about your life, you have a considerable amount of work to do. I cannot believe that some god somewhere, at the end of your life, then denies you heaven because you expressed sexual love with the partner you cared and honored the best that you could. That is no god I want to follow. As eloquent as your words are Trip, they ring hollow.

            I use my wings to fly, not to keep myself afloat. I use my wings because I was created that I might experience their wonder. Requesting that I not fly by way of an agreed upon interpretation is tantamount to insult. You have work to do friend. The great work begins.

          • Trip

            TSB,

            Thanks for the quick reply!

            I suspect that this is something we’re not going to agree on for basically one reason: We have different views on what the Bible is, and therefore how we ought to respond to what it says. You seem to be operating from the position (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that the Bible is a good book, but that it’s not necessarily the word of God, and therefore the way we “hear” God is by a voice in our hearts and in creation. In other words, your feelings, philosophies and interpretations take precedent above the scriptures. On the other hand, I believe that the Bible is the authoritative, perfect word of God, and as such I am subject to what it teaches on all accounts, even if the voice in my heart or the worldly wisdom of the age disagrees (which they often do). That is undoubtedly what the Bible itself claims to be, and that is what the church has understood it to be for the better part of 2000 years, but if you disagree with that I don’t profess to have the power or persuasiveness to convince you myself. I pray that the Lord will do just that though, because I really do believe that’s where you’ll find true life in Christ, and that’s how God will be glorified in your life.

            As I’ve written in comments above, I’m absolutely not arguing that you and others are not born genetically predisposed toward same sex attraction. I know you didn’t “choose” your sexual orientation just as I did not. But I am arguing that if we’re serious about honoring God and living in right relationship with him, then what he says is good and right and true in scripture trumps what I think is best or happiest or easiest. And again, contrary to your accusations, I am not asking gay people to abstain from sexual acts then just “going about my life.” I’m unmarried, so I am also required by scripture to abstain from sexual acts, and I’m fighting for that every day. I believe all God’s people are called to examine their lives according to his word, and put to death what is sinful in them. As Martin Luther put it, the entire Christian life is one of repentance.

            The Bible tells us that no one is “denied heaven” because of a specific category of sin in his or her life. We ourselves deny entering right relationship with God because we are categorically sinners, unrighteous in status according to his holy standard. In other words, I don’t not get into heaven because I “do” sins, but because I am dead wrong in light of God’s just standard. But the good news is that God does not leave us there: “He [Jesus] became sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus substitutionary death is my rightness and salvation to God. That’s the only truth that saves heterosexual people, homosexual people, all people. That’s why I can’t and won’t deny what the Bible teaches about what sin is, what is does to my life, and how Jesus rescues and restores me from it; To do so would be to deny the power and beauty of the gospel.

            I really appreciate you taking the time to respectfully confront me about what you believe is wrong about my thinking, but I hope you’ll have the integrity to confront and reconsider your own thinking on this subject as well. What is your foundation for making the claims you are making? How do you know who God is, what he is like, and how he expects us to live? If the answer is your own feelings or the ever-fluctuating wisdom of the age, how can you trust that that foundation is firm?

        • Fishcicle

          Not being gay myself, but being somewhat biased in favor of rather than against gay marriage, at the same time I can’t argue with you, Trip, in your Biblical view of things: you know the Bible better than I do. I’d like to introduce something else, which may give a different perspective. I recently read an article about a young man (not yet out of his teens) who found a group who could support him in what is an even more hot-button topic than gay marriage. The young man finds himself attracted to children, and doesn’t wish to hurt them or anyone else. The rest of the small group he belongs to agree. Apparently most of the individuals in the group are not focused EXCLUSIVELY on children (thank goodness), but their attraction is serious enough that they need help dealing with it. Talk about hating the sin, but loving the sinner. That’s a sin I find a lot more reprehensible than homosexuality, and I’m glad that these young people are taking such a principled approach to it. I think the main difference between the two practices is that children don’t have the power to choose to have sex with an adult. They don’t have equal power. Sexual relationships between adults may also be horrible, but at least they’re adults. If I could wipe even the possibility of adults having sex with children out of everyone’s mind, I’d do it. Homosexuality may be inherently sinful. I don’t think so, but that’s just my opinion. Child molestation I think is. That’s why I appreciate the approach these young people have taken, and hope they can find a different way to have fulfillment. I’m not sure if this contributes to the discussion, except in that many people have a similar visceral reaction to homosexuality as to child molestation. Personally, I think the latter is far worse.

        • Chris

          I have to say I find these readings thoroughly interesting. I appreciate everyone being so passionate and respectful about this subject. I think my biggest question/argument would be, at what point are we right about the Bible and its interpretation? We have dozens of denominations that have been created because of disagreement on interpretation/context of the Bible. Who is right? I believe so many of these arguments to be valid in the eyes of the person interpreting them. That being said, we do have different views/interpretations/context to the Bible and many believe that divorce and remarriage are sinful. We also have many who believe this is a ludicrous thought…The same goes with homosexuality.

          I met a very interesting Pastor named Russell Clark who believes that the term ‘homosexuality’ has been misinterpreted in the Bible, since the original word for homosexuality (arsenokoites) simply meant same-sex sexual relations. There was no word for homosexuality in the context we know it as today. There is no context to loving same-sex relationships. the word arsenokoites goes even further to specify same-sex sexual relations with children, because it was common practice in Ancient times (this is still very valid, as we see these types of activities still happening in the Middle East). Another argument was that the term ‘homosexuality’ wasn’t used in English until the late 19th Century, and it referred to ‘sexual perversions’. Russell’s argument was that we, through our modern eyes, have created a word, made an interpretation and now adamantly protect that word when we speak against homosexuality. All sexual relations are sinful without marriage…I think we can all agree on that. So, where do we go from here?

          There are many more things I’d like to address, but having grown up in an Evangelical household, I struggled with Literalism in the Bible. We have altered context of history in the past 100 years…how can we, as rational human beings, assume that the Bible means what it means, literally? I just can’t agree that everything in the Bible can be literally interpreted to mean exactly what it says. There’s too many outliers to make that assumption. I’d like to know all of your thoughts on this.

          As far as a background, I left the church at 18 years old, when I moved out of my parent’s house because I found the teachings to be a bit harsh. I have no theology degree and though I still have my faith, I find it hard to enter a church without fear of intense judgment because of the atrocities I faced as a young teen.

        • Doug Daniel

          That was well said, your kind answer stopped me from being an ass. I was going argue in a way that was not loving and your comment stopped me. Well Done

      • EM_Gumby

        Allow me to stick my big fat nose in here to comment on a few of your remarks

        1) Regarding the “gay and lesbian lifestyle” – this is a euphemism for “people who enjoy gay and lesbian sex” and I find it is used primarily by people who wish to discuss the issue without getting into the sticky, fluidy, sweaty parts of gayness and lesbianism. The only typical parts of being gay or lesbian that actually qualify as a “lifestyle” are the parts imposed on gay and lesbian people by society – such as a tendency to be circumspect to dodge hostility, judgement, and rejection.

        2) I find your reading of scripture regarding homosexuality to be somewhat disingenuous. I think that the Bible is pretty clear about homosexuality being a sin. My feeling on the matter is “so what?” Since the Bible was written the church has changed, modified, reversed, and manipulated its stance on a lot of things that were once considered sins. When is the last time your church had a good old fashioned witch burning? Stoned anyone for adultery lately? Do female members of your congregation typically remove themselves outside your towns when they happen to be menstruating (another of those sticky, fluidy things incidentally)?

        3) Preach that.

        4) Everyone is impenitent. Everyone. Christians sin every single day of their lives, then go to church, apologize for it, get forgiven, and walk out of their churches and sin again, probably within hours. If homosexuality must be considered a sin (rather than “one of those things that we used to consider a sin but don’t anymore – like miscegenation, women in church, slavery, wearing clothes of different fabrics, etc. etc.) then it falls into the same category as other sins – neither better than nor worse than others. Lying is a sin, and everyone lies – your pastor lies, your bishop lies. the Pope lies. Why then are liars not treated as second-class parishioners as gay and lesbian Christians are? Because if they were there would be nobody in the pews, and in fact nobody in the pulpits either. The only difference between a practicing homosexual and a practicing liar is that one is far more common than the other.

      • Judy

        To Ted and all the other LGBT posters, you have shown far more grace to other’s comments than I can ever aspire to. I read this posting by Ken and thought, “okay, I think it is weak, and still somewhat judgmental, but may be the hate the sin love the sinner can at least wrap their head around this”.Alas, the comments reveal otherwise.

        By assuming that each of you literalists know exactly what God meant when He spoke through man in Scripture, don’t you see how limiting you are to who and all God is and can be? The Bible is not a marriage manual! The theme is God’s grace, His love for us. It is about being MORE than what we are.

        (For what its worth, I am a straight former fundamentalist who just recently felt like I have met God in church for the first time when I joined a UCC Church where I am intellectually and spiritually challenged to daily live Micah 6:8.)

      • lewr2

        A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober,
        of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. . . . Let the
        deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own
        houses well.”

        Theoretically speaking sir, you couldn’t be a biblical pastor. You were not the husband of a wife

      • TruthvLIes

        Seen comments similar to yours by various writers who are trying to justify their sin. They have said what you have said. Your comment about those living homosexual and lesbian lifestyles is wasted space as I have found that when anyone hits the nail on the head, the homosexuals go into denial. FYI, homosexuals are the ones who insisted they live a normal lifestyle to detract from their lust and depravity so go complain to them about it.

        I am not impressed by your theology that because we are sexual beings we have to give into any sex that comes our way which is what you are saying. I married at the age of 28 and prior to that I did not indulge my sexual being. I occupied myself with the things of the Lord so that sex took a very distant second. Homosexuals who call themselves Christians are no different and are expected to bridle uncontrolled sexual urges.

        The fact that you deny homosexuality and sex between two men is sin suggests that your favourite bible is the Queen Janes Version which is one that you can say what you want it to say and reinterpret to your hearts consent.

        And your last comment is non sequitur as we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and there is none righteous, no not one so trying to be judge and jury and claim homosexuals are better than christians in character and nature is a lost cause.

    • Shaun L’Esperance

      Hi Trip, thank you for sharing this thoughtful comment.

      I recently heard someone speak on the John 8 passage where Jesus is “challenged” by the pharisees on his commitment, if you will, to follow the moral principles taught in the Law. To follow the Law would have been to stone the woman caught in adultery. Now for some reason Jesus chose to “go against” the Law in that moment. Now I am not a pastor, theologian, or biblical scholar, but a follower of Jesus who is intrigued by this “conversation” around LGBT Christians and the Romans 14-15 concept of “disputable matters”. In this John 8 example, is it reasonable to say that Jesus seemed to “go against” the principles taught in the scriptures during much of his ministry? Does this relate at all to the way we address the biblical principles of the LGBT question? In this passage, Jesus does then say “neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin.” The “repentant sin vs. the on-going sin” is one of my greatest challenges in this conversation. When considering the context of committed, monogamous same-sex couples, I feel like it is a matter of what exactly is being considered “the sin”. Either way, I am continually inspired and intrigued by the way Jesus seems to have radically challenged the “status quo” of the religious teachings of his day.

      • Trip

        Shaun,

        I think that’s a really great point, and a really important consideration in this conversation. I think the John 8 story brings up a couple of important points. First off, it seems like I’m “throwing stones” at homosexual people, forgive me. I want to acknowledge right out front that I’m the biggest sinner I know (because I know myself the best), and I think Jesus wants me to love first and pronounce judgement carefully, humbly and lovingly. I think the other point of John 8 is that, if we believe everything the Bible says about God and Jesus, the one person in the crowd who did have the right to throw a stone was Jesus himself. He wrote the law that prescribed stoning those caught in adultery, and he had every right to execute that sentence. So when Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you,” I don’t think he’s saying “It’s no big deal,” I think he’s saying, “I’m here to introduce a new order, wherein the only way you’re freed from condemnation is through my pronouncement of righteousness.” His other teachings in the Gospels, as well as Paul’s teachings in the epistles, support that claim.

        But then notice that Jesus tells the woman, “Go and sin no more.” In other words, the natural response of hearing and receiving the good news of no-condemnation is to pursue a life of holiness. And our understanding of that life of holiness should itself be founded on the word of God.

        I have trouble calling homosexual marriage and membership “disputable matters” because they seem to touch on such central, significant parts of the Christian life. That said, I’m willing to agree to that if we can decide together how we ought to respond to matters identified as disputable. What so many seem to prescribe is a kind of intentional apathy. I’m all for moving secondary issues to the back seat to discuss the primary concern that the gospel addresses. But in Romans 14 and 15 Paul suggests that one party’s view is weaker, and in 1 Corinthians he seems to imply that we should look for opportunities to correct and instruct weaker brothers and sisters. So if we’re going to label there “disputable matters,” I hope we can find a context to discuss what the Bible really says, what it means for our lives, and how the church ought to govern and discipline itself in light of these realities.

        • daniel buck

          Trip, I just wanted to thank you for being so thoughtful, genuine, and gentle in your writing. I think you are representing Christ well. Thank you, brother.

          • Trip

            Thanks for the kind words, Daniel. I appreciate you saying that.

      • Don Bromley

        Shaun & Trip, I mentioned this above, but I want to again recommend N. T. Wright’s article, “Communion and Koinonia: Pauline Reflections on Tolerance and Boundaries.” (You’ll have to Google it because this forum doesn’t allow external links.) It talks specifically about what Paul would and would not have meant by “disputable matters.”

    • Garden Lady

      I respectfully disagree with your persepctive on divorce and remarriage being in the past. One can repent of one’s role in the failure of a first marriage, of course, But if one continues in a conjugal relationship with the second spouse, then the “sinful lifestyle” is on going — it is not the past, it is continual.

      • Trip

        I’d like to hear more from you on that. I think it’s the churches responsibility to discourage members from getting divorced, and if a member is divorced, to encourage reconciliation instead of remarriage. If those members disregard the churches guidance, it’s probably necessary for leadership to institute some sort of discipline. I suspect we’d agree on that much. But what do you think the church is called to do with new members or attenders who are now remarried? Should the church encourage another divorce or an annulment of the second marriage? I’m not sure…

        • MariahS

          As someone who follows Christ after finding Him again on my own, and refuses attendance at a Church, I felt awkward givingy viewpoint here, but I thought I’d try.

          I admit I chafe significantly at some of your words in regards to things such as divorce and remarriage, or even homosexuality. Primarily because all I can think of when I read this, is the marriages that men and women alike have escaped from in which they were beaten, emotionally abused, raped, etc. Is it acceptable then to chastise them for their decision to divorce? Is it appropriate to tell them they are sinning by protecting themselves, and that God intended for them to remain in that place of suffering? I apologize if I in any way seem to be attacking you. But I feel this is an important part of that viewpoint which I haven’t heard a convincing argument for. People get divorced all too easily and often, this is true – until I met my husband I honestly believed I’d never marry, after watching my mother go through four stunning divorces. I can say that in many average cases it may be appropriate to mediate in the hopes of encouraging reconciliation.

          And as a non-churchgoer I do not feel comfortable with the idea of a Church disciplining or chastising anyone. Perhaps that is my own limited perspective, but I feel it is the place of a church to offer guidance, council, and Fellowship. Not to discipline its members. Truth be told I am uncertain as to what that would entail. This may be a perspective born of ignorance, but it is mine.

          I read the Bible slowly and on my own, and research it on my own. I do not feel comfortable letting another person interpret the Word for me. I can tell you that there is much in those pages which cause my heart to drop thinking that God would say or want such things for us. An example would be Deuteronomy 22:28-29, in which we are told that rape victims must marry their attacker – indeed, that their rapist should effectively purchase them for a lifetime of God only knows. As a result of passages like this, I am supportive of those who fall in the “cultural context” camp. No sane person would demand that a young woman be bound for life to the man who violated her in this day and age. This is just one of the more prominent examples, perhaps extreme but I feel it carries the message.

          Lastly I respect the gentleness with which most here treat each other in their disagreement. I am a bit insecure in that regard, mostly because the debate I am accustomed to on this giant issue (group of issues, actually) is usually very heated and passionate. Much of what I read and see and hear from the Church and some of its congregation I cannot morally or emotionally reconcile with what I feel God has been teaching me. For me, the overall message of God’s Word is love, and it’s nice to see much of what I’ve read here coming from that place.

          • Trip

            Mariah,

            Thanks for your kind, thought-out comment. I don’t feel like you’re attacking me at all, but expressing some great thoughts and questions. I agree that too often online or text-only discussions like this become inflammatory and hurtful, but because it’s spaces like these (most notably Facebook) where more and more culture-shaping conversation is happening, I hope there’s a way we can type-to-talk lovingly and respectfully, and I think this thread has been a nice example of that.

            To your point about how we understand the Bible with respect to cultural context, there are a few important issues at play here. First, it is necessary that we have some small understanding of the historical, cultural and literary aspects of the parts of the Bible we read. What this allows us to do is see what is culturally specific and what is universal. This can often be hard work to discern, which is why supplementary resources like a good commentary are so valuable. I’d encourage you to get a hold of an ESV Study Bible; It’s rich with footnote commentary that helps to understand some of the most difficult parts of scripture.

            Second, whenever we read Old Testament Law passages, it’s incredibly important that we keep to things in mind: 1) That no portion of the OT law is meant to be amputated from the whole and taken as a standalone rule, and 2) That all of the law points to Christ, and that his life, death and resurrection perfectly fulfilled it. As it relates to your example from Deuteronomy, we read that with our modern worldview and say, “Wow! That law is awful,” but in the historical context in which that law was written, women who were raped were viewed, in many societies, as defiled and therefore unmarriable. That specific law was put in place to make sure a woman did not have to live single for the rest of her life (a much more serious fate in those days than today), and other parts of the OT law speak to a woman’s right to choose not to marry, and the necessary punishments for a man who committed rape. More importantly, again, because Christ fulfilled all the law, the OT ordinances are not binding for New Testament-and-beyond Christians or modern society as a whole. This is a huge topic that is often misunderstood, but for more I’d encourage you to Google “Making Sense of Scripture’s Inconsistency by Tim Keller.” It’s a great, brief article that explores this topic more.

            Most importantly, I want to encourage you to try not to do this Christian life alone, but to find a biblically faithful, loving church you can be a part of. The sad truth is that churches and Christian individuals have done plenty to hurt and turn away seekers and newer Christians, but the consistent message of the Bible is that we can’t do this alone. I need other people to help me, encourage me, teach me, even if they also sometimes hurt and disappoint me. As I once heard someone put it, just like Zaccheus had to climb to see over the heads of sinful Christ-followers, sometimes we have to get above mean Christians to see and meet Jesus. I’d recommend you try to find out if there’s a PCA, Reformed or Acts 29 church in your area, and go meet the leadership and tell them where you’re at. I hope and pray you’ll be surprised to find kind, wise, loving people there, but even if you don’t on the first try, it’s still worth doing the work of finding a church where you can dwell consistently. Yes, the church is full of sinners like me, but that means it’s a welcome place for a sinner like you ;)

          • Trip

            PS – Historically, the church has understood abuse, whether physical, emotional, verbal or sexual, to be valid grounds for divorce, based on teachings in other parts of scripture. I think that’s an important distinction, so I’m glad you made it, but I don’t think it applies to the vast majority of divorces today.

          • Nor

            That’s pretty recent actually. For the church and our society in general.

          • Trip

            What’s your source for that? It’s my understanding, from the resources I’ve seen, that the church has had pretty clear standards for this for hundreds of years.

          • Nor

            It didn’t used to be illegal to beat your wife. In many states, it is still not possible to rape your wife. I would find it odd if society (and a church which for the past several centuries at least has reflected the more conservative values of it) was willing to allow divorce for emotional or verbal abuse but considered physical and sexual violence a non-issue, so I’m going to go ahead and lump those in.

            Can you post some of the resources you’ve seen that say the church was far more progressive than the society in which it existed? I think it would be awfully difficult as well to be allowing church divorces while the couple was still required to be legally married, but perhaps that is what was going on?

          • Daniel Wilcox

            Trip,

            You’ve made some powerful, biblical points. And I am in agreement with your understanding of Scripture opposing divorce and same sexual relationships.

            But how can you possibly recommend Mariah attend a Reformed church, read Tim Keller!!!?
            Reformed churches hold to the infamous TULIP in various forms which comes down the their constant refrain that Jesus only died for a limited number of humans, and in Calvin’s famous words, the rest of humankind were “foreordained to eternal damnation.” :-(

            So all the rest of us (those who believe God wills for everyone to be loved and saved), are condemned before creation to eternal damnation, as Calvinists have pointed out to me since I was 16 years old. (Not trying to start a side conversation here. I’ve been a Baptist youth pastor and have argued against the horror of theological determinism of the PCA, Reformed, etc. for over 52 years).

            Hardly the place to look for the love of John 3:16.

          • Nor

            She should try the Quakers.

        • AtalantaBethulia

          Re: “I’d like to hear more from you on that.”

          I think for the point of Mr. Wilson’s essay and the conversation here, it is that divorced heterosexual people who have remarried are fundamentally in the same boat (if one takes the relevant scriptures with equal literalness) as a gay or lesbian couple who are in a long term relationship: Both are in a committed mutually monogamous relationship that includes an active sex life. For the remarried heterosexual couple some in the church are calling this a “one time sin” for which they can repent (for the divorce and remarriage) yet carry on without judgement or impunity, yet for a married gay couple, the same grace is not extended. Instead of being able to “repent and carry on”, they are labeled as being in a “perpetual and ongoing state of unrepentant sin.” This is the reason for drawing the parallel: the double standard. Drawing the parallel is not done so in order to create an action plan for dealing more harshly with remarried divorced people. But it should give pause as how the church and its people appear inconsistent to the outside world and other segments of the Body of Christ and how they will choose to address this inconsistency. Mr. Wilson has offered his solution. What would be yours?

    • Philip Brooks

      Trip a couple points in respond to you.
      1. I think you are right that the church has become rather silent on divorce, which has consequences. Divorces are often painful affairs, especially in families with children and there’s a need on the part of the church to be more pro-active in preventing or avoiding situations that lead to divorce. Having said that, an unhealthy marriage is also a very painful thing too and there are many instances in which I think divorce, while tragic, may be the only way forward. Divorcees, even today are also still sometimes ostracized or looked down on by others. We need to be careful not to add to feelings of guilt or shame they may already be feeling. That’s why I say the church should focus on prevention of divorce, rather than reprimanding those who’ve gone through it.
      2. In the case of homosexuality, I think it would be naïve to argue that most churches which do condemn the practice have been “too” accepting of homosexuals themselves. While you may disagree with the “Third Way” presented here, I think we can both agree that churches should have “a way” to minister and actively embrace homosexuals that does not either wait for them to change their lifestyle or see them only in terms of their lifestyle. We are called to see and love every person as a child of God first. Correction must always come afterwards and great care must be taken to insure that that person and those around them know this. Christ loved us while we were yet sinners. We must do the same.
      3. You claim divorce and remarriage as past sins that can be forgiven while homosexuality is an ongoing sin. Is this really a good Biblical interpretation? Jesus’ own teachings on divorce treated divorce as a form of adultery. In fact he stated that any person who divorces their spouse “and marries” another (notice he’s marry, not have sex with) has committed adultery. If we take that its word then it would mean divorce is not a past sin, but an ongoing one in which remarried persons are continuingly sinning. Wouldn’t that mean according to your logic they should be asked to “give up” their current lifestyle the same as the homosexuals? I’m not agreeing with this idea, only suggesting that based on your categorization of sins and strict Biblical interpretation that it would be hard to argue otherwise.

      • Trip

        Philip,

        1) I’m not sure if I said something to make you think I’m in favor of condemning or shaming divorcees post-process, but I’m not. The church should absolutely work to stop divorce before it happens. I know of a lot of good churches that do just that, including the one I’m blessed to attend right now. That said, it doesn’t follow that we shouldn’t reprimand or correct divorcees after the fact. I’m not talking about heaping on extra shame, but one of the greatest errors of our modern context is that true conviction (often accompanied by or preceded by feelings of guilt and shame), based on God’s objective moral standard, is a bad thing because it makes me feel bad. We are all sinners; On some level, we should feel guilty about that. Divorce is a sin, and divorcees should feel a righteous guilt or conviction about it. Praise God, the story doesn’t end with my guilt, because “where sin increases, grace abounds all the more” in Christ.

        2) I’m absolutely not arguing that churches have historically been too accepting of homosexual people. The opposite is true, which may be part of the reason we are seeing and will continue to see a massive, biblically unfaithful overcorrection of that reality. The church had better figure out what it looks like to love, encourage, serve, admonish and correct homosexual people and Christians dealing with same sex attraction. But what this article presents, as far as I can tell, is not a “third way” but just another form of the old way. Ken seems to be promoting the active acceptance of people living homosexual lifestyles into church membership and leadership without calling for repentance or changed living, and that is, simply put, unbiblical in a major way. Unfortunately, what homosexual would-be members/leaders often seem to demand is that a church no longer speak against their specific sin category, and while that might certainly be easier and feel happier, in the spiritual and eternal sense it is not loving or good. As Dr. Albert Mohler recently put it, “The church has often failed people with same-sex attractions, and failed them horribly. We must not fail them now by forfeiting the only message that leads to salvation, holiness, and faithfulness.” I’m all for bringing homosexual people into the church as regular attenders, to hear the gospel and the word of God as much and as often as possible, but if I affirm that they can be full members, and moreover, that they can experience all the benefits of union with Christ and communion with his church, I reject the scriptures and dishonor God.

        3) Admittedly, I don’t know exactly where I come out on this issue. I’d like to study it more and learn from wiser, more mature Christians. But the passage of scripture (Matthew 19) where Jesus makes the “divorcees commit adultery” argument don’t seem to fully support your claim. I think the clear teaching here is divorce is a sin that should be avoided, but it doesn’t seem to follow from this passage or any other in scripture that a remarried person is currently and progressively committing adultery by continuing to be married to his or her second spouse. The church should do everything it can, including excommunication when necessary, to prevent and punish divorce among members. It should also encourage previously divorced members to seek forgiveness and reconciliation in every possible way. But should we tell remarried people to now end their second marriages and go back to the first? I don’t think so. And again, even if that is true, to make the jump and apply a similar principle to actively homosexual people and same-sex couples goes against the consistent teachings about marriage, sex and sexuality across the Bible.

        • ThisBethesdaSea

          I would ask that you stop using the term ‘homosexual lifestyle’ like we live on islands having sex with multiple people day in and day out. We are people, like heterosexuals. We love, we date, we make mistakes. There is no homosexual lifestyle. That term only propagates a myth and an underlying and often hurtful line of condemnation. Walk in our shoes for a while and then have the courage to equivocate and dispense religious suggestions on morality.

          • Trip

            TBS, I don’t know if you saw my response to the use of the term “homosexual lifestyle” in my first reply to Ted above, but I definitely don’t mean for it to imply what you just accused me of. I never said anything to that affect, so I think you may be reading some of your own bias and anger into what I wrote. If you have a term you think is more helpful to distinguish between those who experience same-sex attraction but don’t act on it, and those who practice homosexual sex acts, please tell me. I don’t want to hurt or insult you or anyone with the term.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Re: “If you have a term you think is more helpful to distinguish between those who experience same-sex attraction but don’t act on it, and those who practice homosexual sex acts, please tell me.”

            Heterosexual person = someone attracted to the opposite gender
            Gay = someone attracted to the same gender
            Lesbian = someone who is attracted to the same gender
            Bisexual = someone who can be attracted to both genders

            ^^^ These apply to everyone whether or not they are dating, married, having sex or not. Because we don’t, in general polite conversation, have a term for a “practicing heterosexual”, nor go out of our way to find out if they are or not.

            Celibate = someone choosing not to have sex

            ^^^ A self-applied modifying term to any of the aforementioned terms by someone who chooses to share this aspect of their lives publicly, whether they are heterosexual or LGB.

            That’s it.

            The propensity of folks on certain sides of this conversation to have a “need to know” and “appropriately label someone” is part of the problem.

        • Rev. Gregg L. Haskell

          Trip, I’m not at all sure of your biblical background but suffice to say that your comments are extremely thoughtful and seem grounded in genuine exegesis of the Scriptures. Though a very complex issue the continual respectful and thoughtful discussions can go a long way in promoting the reverential discovery of the truth. One of the main points that often becomes obscured in the emboldened discussions on this issue is that which Christ revealed in Matthew 7. The first part of chapter 7 Christ warns us not to judge in a hypocritical fashion as the Pharisees were accustomed to but to examine ourselves first. Having examined our own lives and motivations we are then admonished to help our fellow brother in his struggle to live a holy life. Starting with verse 13 however, Christ points out that few will choose the path of righteous living and enter in and finishes out the chapter revealing that there will be many who appeared to have been believers but lived lives contrary to His ways. The Greek word for knew is genosko which means “intimate” (Or intimacy such as in intercourse-Old Testament usage) knowledge. The point being is that God seeks to have an “intimate” relationship with us that is not perverted by worldly ways and is why the marriage picture is so important in comparing our relationship with Him and the earthly relationship between a man and a woman. It is why Scripture pays and added emphasis regarding the sexual sins. Every and anybody is welcome in our church and we strive to bring the love of Christ in truth to all who attend and know that the full council of God is useful in bring us into a more pure and holy relationship with our Christ and our God.

          • Trip

            Rev. Gregg, I’m not sure if you’re disagreeing something I said, but I agree with and affirm pretty much everything you posted. Thanks for you comment!

          • Rev. Gregg L. Haskell

            I support and agree with the position for which you have articulated. Stand firm upon the truth as revealed to you by the Holy Spirit and the ultimate authority of God’s Word.

    • Jack

      Very well stated, Trip. Ken is sincerely trying to grapple with this issue, but he goes too far. Your post was spot on.

  • Don Bromley

    It’s been said that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. I would add that we are not all entitled to our own definitions.

    Calling something “third way” which in actual practice is exactly the same as Open and Affirming is misleading. The term “Open and Affirming” has meant something for decades: that the church will not exclude a non-celibate gay person from any role, including senior pastoral leadership and employment, or from the rite of marriage (when applicable). If a church does those things, it is “open and affirming.”

    • Ken Wilson

      I think it’s quite normal for people to disagree about definitions (e.g what it means to be “conservative”) and that is a reasonable part of the conversation. I’m sure you are not claiming sole authority to define all terms as you would want them to be defined. I’m not either, but I think my definition of “third way” is legitimate and I spell it out in the book. I am very clear in the book that what I describe as “third way” is non-exclusionary at every level, which is also true of “open and affirming” but I maintain my grounds for not referring to it as “affirming.”

      • Don Bromley

        A good way to determine what “open and affirming” means would be to examine what self-professed Open and Affirming churches and denominations mean by it. Or, look at how the folks who coined the term use it. The United Church of Christ, an Open and Affirming denomination, defines it in exactly the way you define “non-exclusionary at every level.” So why have a distinction without a difference?

        • Ken Wilson

          I think we have firmly established the reality that you and I disagree over whether there is a difference between my position and “open and affirming”. :)

        • grange

          Don, I think the difference between an “open and affirming” church and a “3rd way” church is that a 3rd way church is trying to make real room for you. I don’t think you’d last long in a real open and affirming church. They’d say they love and welcome you but it would only be with the hopes that you change your sinful (aka judgmental and condemning) ways. In the end you wouldn’t feel loved or welcomed. As much as the a 3rd way church is taking a stand for same sex couples it is taking a stand for those that think a same sex relationship is a sin. Same sex couples have to make real room for you just as much as you have to make real room for them. This is asking a lot of both of you. But this to me, is a real difference between the 3rd way and a purely open and affirming way.

          • Don Bromley

            Steve, so the third way is kind of like a “middle way” between the orthodox view and “open and affirming”? So you’d have gay weddings *and* ministries for those struggling with same-sex attraction? Some pastors would preach that gay unions are blessed and affirmed, and some would preach that they’re a sin? It’s just not true. The “third way” is “open and affirming.” If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…

          • grange

            Don, isn’t holding two diametrically opposed views exactly what Paul asked the early church to do on the issue of eating food sacrificed to idols in Romans 14? Hard to imagine I know. But some semblance of the Pauline 3rd way happens at least 2-3 times a year in High School Sunday School class at our church. If you want to get off the discussion boards and into the trenches come to HS Q&A at the AA Vineyard where this question comes up over and over again. Not for the faint of heart let me tell you. In that group we have really smart, engaged and opinionated gay and straight students and leaders engaging the issue from a biblical and very personal point of view. So far through the grace of God no one has lost an eye. In the end we seem to make room for both points of view and move onto the next question. There are after all bigger fish to fry like “Will the zombie apocalypse come before or after the 2nd Coming?”

            But I think that is the point of the Pauline 3rd way: that the same sex relationship issue is but one of many issues the HSers are wrestling with. And let me tell you most HSers (gay or straight) aren’t wrestling near as hard with the issue as their adult counterparts. Most have accepted it and have moved on. For me the point of the Romans 14 3rd way is found in verse 17: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit….” Let’s make room for the eating and drinking issue and move on to the righteousness, peace and joy stuff.

          • Don Bromley

            Steve, if the Apostle Paul were around and aware that pastors were using his letter to the Romans in this way he would be tearing his hair out (if he had any left). It is very definitely NOT the point of Romans 14 that we should simply “agree to disagree” on serious moral issues. Take a quick read of 1 Corinthians 5 if you’re unsure.

            Saint Paul was NOT suggesting that some people could go ahead and sin (by eating meat) if their consciences were okay with it. He makes the point quite clearly that it is *not* a sin to eat meat, but that if someone’s conscience is bothered they should refrain. That is 100% different than suggesting that some people can sin as long as they think it’s not sin!

            Regarding whether younger people have “moved on” regarding this issue—I certainly hope that isn’t how we decide where to stand on things: take a poll and see where people are at, then get behind it. That might be great for political parties but not for a prophetic movement.

          • Joao

            To Don’s point, part of the reason I left the AA Vineyard is precisely because despite assurances that my views that a homosexual lifestyle is sinful would be respected, I very much doubt that I would be given permission to, for example, give a testimony to the congregation that would encourage those who struggle with same sex attraction to continue to fight it. Or to announce that I was starting a small group whose purpose was to help struggling homosexuals to resist temptation. So how is that any different from an open and affirming stance? The only difference I see is semantics, the verbal assurance my view is respected, but no practical difference.

          • Nor

            Are you yourself struggling with same sex attraction? If not, I don’t see how you could possibly lead such a group, or feel you had any ground at all to give a testimony. I’d also like to advise you, if you are in a church where gay people are welcomed as equal members, that it is very likely the congregation would pity you.

            I’m sure you could lead a group that would include hetero and homosexuals who wish to maintain lifelong celibacy. That would be perfectly reasonable, as long as you made it clear that it wasn’t about denying anyone’s inherent sexuality, it was just about choosing to be celibate for life to honor God. You’d have to be sure several heterosexuals would join from the start, just to make sure it didn’t end up being a defacto pray away the gay group. Of course, you yourself would have had to have been celibate for many years before you could possibly lead such a group, and be committed to it yourself for life. Ideally after you’d had successful long term loving gay relationships, to show that it’s not self-hatred or sorrow that drives you, but a renewed commitment to what you believe God requires of you.

          • Joao

            There are so many unfounded assumptions in your reply. No I don’t struggle with same sex attraction, and my question was simply if anyone wanted to start such a group, they would not be able to despite the claim being made that those with the biblical view of homosexuality are also accepted in the church.
            And your response is very much in keeping with where I think Ken’s church has come. It proves my point that the church has become open and affirming and not some kind of third way that is different.
            To your inherent sexuality comment, boy, so inherent leanings are automatically to be embraced? Where do you draw the line? Alcoholism is inherent in some, are you insinuating alcoholics are to dive in? How about someone who is bisexual? Ok to pursue?

          • Nor

            Wait, what? You mean this is a hypothetical rejection? For a group you wouldn’t ever be involved with yourself? In a church you don’t belong to?

            Alcoholism hurts you and those around you. Being gay doesn’t.

            And everyone is bisexual, pretty much. Very few people are at the extremes and they are the definite minority. If you are curious, go in for a study where they hook you up and see what they find. I think you’ll be surprised, especially since it turns out those who are most ardently homophobic are almost invariably aroused by homosexual images. Which makes sense of course. Anyone claiming sexual preference is a choice must themselves be bisexual at the very least.

          • Joao

            I used to belong to the church. So if nobody gets Hurt is the only criteria? Alcoholism hurts others? Not necessarily. What if one has no dependents ? I could be a single guy and drink myself to a stupor every day. Is that then ok?

          • Nor

            If you yourself don’t have a problem with it, and you are hurting no one else, it’s totally fine.

            I think also if you yourself have no problem with it, and you were hurting no one else, it would be pretty difficult to convince you that you needed some sort of therapy to “fix” you. Because you have no problem to fix.

            But I think were you an alcoholic, and did feel you had a problem, you might take issue with someone who has never suffered from addiction leading a group to teach you how to stop drinking. At the very least, you might find such a leader inadequately informed. Especially if they are drinking regularly themselves, which is something you would be aware of.

            Do you think you might be able to find a better analogy with homosexuality than a deadly mental illness? It doesn’t really compare well at all.

          • Joao

            I think it does, both are clearly spoken against in scripture, both are tendencies folks seem to have ,

          • Joao

            I think it does, both are clearly spoken against in scripture, both are distortions of good things , both seem to be thing some are afflicted with from an early age and can struggle with all their lives . Of course, if you don’t place value in what is in the bible, then really there is nothing to argue about here.

  • Don Bromley

    Regarding the definition of “disputable matter” in Romans 14, I can’t put it any better than N. T. Wright does in his article, “Communion and Koinonia: Pauline Reflections on Tolerance and Boundaries” (Google it)

    We cannot simply define any issue of great contention as a “disputable matter.” Evangelicals ask the question, “What did Paul mean by those words?” And the consensus of historical and scholarly opinion is that he certainly did not mean that activity which Scripture defines as sin can become something we simply “agree to disagree” on.

    If Jesus truly meant that ALL remarriage after divorce is ongoing adultery (I don’t think he did), then the question to ask is why we continue to do it. Not how we can be “fair” by extending our disobedience into another sphere of relationships.

    • Ken Wilson

      In the book I make it clear that we cannot simply define any issue of great contention as a “disputable matter.” I also offer my reasons for not accepting N.T. Wright’s reading on this.

      • Don Bromley

        It is not simply N.T. Wright’s reading. Can you point to any respected New Testament scholars of the past 2,000 years who believe that Paul would have considered an issue like same-sex activity a “disputable matter” per Romans 14?

        • R.A.

          Just because an idea is an antique doesn’t make it right. It took us a few thousand years to get to the point where we admitted that slavery probably wasn’t such a good idea. It was an old one, too, but we reconsidered it, didn’t we?

  • DukeTaber

    Ken, you are using a straw man to make a doctrine. The straw man is the proscription against any type of divorce. This is not a biblical teaching. In context, both biblically and culturally, the question asked Jesus concerning divorce for any cause, was a legal question concerning a type of divorce just as we have a no fault divorce. When you understand that, then the whole straw man that you use falls apart.

    • nadineharris

      Whew! You just twisted so much you might never walk upright again! Jesus condemns divorces a number of times in the gospels–unequivocably. And what does he say about homosexuality? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Goose egg. Well the one time he might be talking about it–the eunuchs passage– he seems to be perfectly okay with it. So I’m gonna just guess you PERSONALLY have no problem with divorce, but homosexuality bothers you. But this is poor reasoning. In fact, I venture to believe it is downright disingenuous.

      • http://taberstruths.com DukeTaber

        Nadine, I would gently suggest that you do some research. I did not twist anything. Both your assertion that condemned every type of divorce is incorrect, and that He did not address same sex marriage is incorrect. He addressed it by addressing what He believed marriage was. So thank you for responding, but I would encourage you to do some research. Please let me know if you need a place to start that process.

        Blessings!

        Pastor Duke

        • Edmund Edmonds

          Duke,
          Given that all three of the synoptic gospel writers quote Jesus as saying “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” in the context of collections of sayings and sermons (and not just in a debate with Pharisees), it seems to me like the burden here is on you, not Nadine Harris.

          Also, a “straw man” argument is when someone paints his opponents in an argument in a ridiculous light by misrepresenting their position. Blanket prohibitions against divorce and remarriage have been a mainstay of all mainline Christian traditions until the Twentieth century. And those prohibitions were based precisely on the mainstream interpretation of Luke 16:18, Matthew 5:31 and Mark 10:11 which Nadine Harris and Ken Wilson articulated. Quite apart from using a straw man argument, Wilson articulated the previously commonplace view on Christian divorce with generosity, sympathy and accuracy.

          Your teachings on the matter may be based on some credible re-interpretations of scripture, but to present them as the obvious results of “doing some research” flies in the face of 2,000 years of research and is condescending to boot.

          Edmund

          • http://taberstruths.com DukeTaber

            Since my last reply didn’t post, I will just give you the research. However I am not interested in arguing on another persons website.

            What Does the Bible Really Teach About Divorce?

            by David Instone-Brewer

            What Does the Bible Say?

            The New Testament presents a problem in understanding both what the text says about divorce and its pastoral implications. Jesus appears to say that divorce is allowed only if adultery has occurred: “Whoever divorces a wife, except for sexual indecency, and remarries, commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9). However, this has been interpreted in many different ways. Most say that Jesus allows divorce only for adultery. But some argue that Jesus originally didn’t allow even that. Only in Matthew does he offer an out from marriage: “except for sexual indecency.” Beyond what Jesus says, Paul also allows divorce. He permits it for abandonment by a non believer (1 Cor. 7:12-15). Many theologians add this as a second ground for divorce.

            Yet some pastors have found this teaching difficult to accept, because it seems so impractical—even cruel in certain situations. It suggests there can be no divorce for physical or emotional abuse, and Paul even seems to forbid separation (1 Cor. 7:10).

            As a result, some Christians quietly ignore this seemingly “impractical” biblical teaching or find ways around it. For example, they suggest that when Jesus talked about “sexual immorality,” perhaps he included other things like abuse. Or when Paul talked about abandonment by a nonbeliever, perhaps he included any behavior that is not supportive of the marriage or abandonment by anyone who is acting like a nonbeliever. Many have welcomed such stretching of Scripture because they couldn’t accept what they believed the text apparently said.

            But does the literal text mean what we think it does? While doing doctoral studies at Cambridge, I likely read every surviving writing of the rabbis of Jesus’ time. I “got inside their heads” enough to begin to understand them. When I began working as a pastor and was confronted almost immediately with divorced men and women who wanted to remarry, my first response was to re-read the Bible. I’d read the biblical texts on divorce many times in the past, but I found something strange as I did so again. They now said something I hadn’t heard before I read the rabbis!

            ‘Any Cause’ Divorce

            The texts hadn’t changed, but my knowledge of the language and culture in which they were written had. I was now reading them like a first-century Jew would have read them, and this time those confusing passages made more sense. My book, Divorce and Remarriage in the Church (InterVarsity Press), is a summary of several academic papers and books I began writing with this new understanding of what Jesus taught.

            One of my most dramatic findings concerns a question the Pharisees asked Jesus: “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?” (Matt. 19:3). This question reminded me that a few decades before Jesus, some rabbis (the Hillelites) had invented a new form of divorce called the “any cause” divorce. By the time of Jesus, this “any cause” divorce had become so popular that almost no one relied on the literal Old Testament grounds for divorce.

            The “any cause” divorce was invented from a single word in Deuteronomy 24:1. Moses allowed divorce for “a cause of immorality,” or, more literally, “a thing of nakedness.” Most Jews recognized that this unusual phrase was talking about adultery. But the Hillelite rabbis wondered why Moses had added the word “thing” or “cause” when he only needed to use the word “immorality.” They decided this extra word implied another ground for divorce—divorce for “a cause.” They argued that anything, including a burnt meal or wrinkles not there when you married your wife, could be a cause! The text, they said, taught that divorce was allowed both for adultery and for “any cause.”

            Another group of rabbis (the Shammaites) disagreed with this interpretation. They said Moses’ words were a single phrase that referred to no type of divorce “except immorality”—and therefore the new “any cause” divorces were invalid. These opposing views were well known to all first-century Jews. And the Pharisees wanted to know where Jesus stood. “Is it lawful to divorce your wife for any cause?” they asked. In other words: “Is it lawful for us to use the ‘any cause’ divorce?”

            When Jesus answered with a resounding no, he wasn’t condemning “divorce for any cause,” but rather the newly invented “any cause” divorce. Jesus agreed firmly with the second group that the phrase didn’t mean divorce was allowable for “immorality” and for “any cause,” but that Deutermonomy 24:1 referred to no type of divorce “except immorality.”

            This was a shocking statement for the crowd and for the disciples. It meant they couldn’t get a divorce whenever they wanted it—there had to be a lawful cause. It also meant that virtually every divorced man or women was not really divorced, because most of them had “any cause” divorces. Luke and Matthew summarized the whole debate in one sentence: Any divorced person who remarried was committing adultery (Matt. 5:32; Luke 16:18), because they were still married. The fact that they said “any divorced person” instead of “virtually all divorced people” is typical Jewish hyperbole—like Mark saying that “everyone” in Jerusalem came to be baptized by John (Mark 1:5). It may not be obvious to us, but their first readers understood clearly what they meant.

            Within a few decades, however, no one understood these terms any more. Language often changes quickly (as I found out when my children first heard the Flintstones sing about “a gay old time”). The early church, and even Jewish rabbis, forgot what the “any cause” divorce was, because soon after the days of Jesus, it became the only type of divorce on offer. It was simply called divorce.

            This meant that when Jesus condemned “divorce for ‘any cause,’ ” later generations thought he meant “divorce for any cause.”

            Reaffirming marriage

            Divorce

            Now that we know what Jesus did reject, we can also see what he didn’t reject. He wasn’t rejecting the Old Testament—he was rejecting a faulty Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament. He defended the true meaning of Deuteronomy 24:1. And there is one other surprising thing he didn’t reject: Jesus didn’t reject the other ground for divorce in the Old Testament, which all Jews accepted.

            Although the church forgot the other cause for divorce, every Jew in Jesus’ day knew about Exodus 21:10-11, which allowed divorce for neglect. Before rabbis introduced the “any cause” divorce, this was probably the most common type. Exodus says that everyone, even a slave wife, had three rights within marriage—the rights to food, clothing, and love. If these were neglected, the wronged spouse had the right to seek freedom from that marriage. Even women could, and did, get divorces for neglect—though the man still had to write out the divorce certificate. Rabbis said he had to do it voluntarily, so if he resisted, the courts had him beaten till he volunteered!

            These three rights became the basis of Jewish marriage vows—we find them listed in marriage certificates discovered near the Dead Sea. In later Jewish and Christian marriages, the language became more formal, such as “love, honor, and keep.” These vows, together with a vow of sexual faithfulness, have always been the basis for marriage. Thus, the vows we make when we marry correspond directly to the biblical grounds for divorce.

            The three provisions of food, clothing, and love were understood literally by the Jews. The wife had to cook and sew, while the husband provided food and materials, or money. They both had to provide the emotional support of marital love, though they could abstain from sex for short periods. Paul taught the same thing. He said that married couples owed each other love (1 Cor. 7:3-5) and material support (1 Cor. 7:33-34). He didn’t say that neglect of these rights was the basis of divorce because he didn’t need to—it was stated on the marriage certificate. Anyone who was neglected, in terms of emotional support or physical support, could legally claim a divorce.

            Divorce for neglect included divorce for abuse, because this was extreme neglect. There was no question about that end of the spectrum of neglect, but what about the other end? What about abandonment, which was merely a kind of passive neglect? This was an uncertain matter, so Paul deals with it. He says to all believers that they may not abandon their partners, and if they have done so, they should return (1 Cor. 7:10-11). In the case of someone who is abandoned by an unbeliever—someone who won’t obey the command to return—he says that the abandoned person is “no longer bound.”

            Anyone in first-century Palestine reading this phrase would think immediately of the wording at the end of all Jewish, and most Roman, divorce certificates: “You are free to marry anyone you wish.”

            Divorce and Remarriage

            Putting all this together gives us a clear and consistent set of rules for divorce and remarriage.

            Divorce is only allowed for a limited number of grounds that are found in the Old Testament and affirmed in the New Testament:

            Adultery (in Deuteronomy 24:1, affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19)

            Emotional and physical neglect (in Exodus 21:10-11, affirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7)

            Abandonment and abuse (included in neglect, as affirmed in 1 Corinthians 7)

            Jewish couples listed these biblical grounds for divorce in their marriage vows. We reiterate them as love, honor, and keep and be faithful to each other. When these vows were broken, it threatened to break up the marriage. As in any broken contract, the wronged party had the right to say, “I forgive you; let’s carry on,” or, “I can’t go on, because this marriage is broken.”

            Does God Allow Remarriage?

            Therefore, while divorce should never happen, God allows it (and subsequent remarriage) when your partner breaks the marriage vows.

            Reading the Bible and ancient Jewish documents side-by-side helped me understand much more of the Bible’s teaching about divorce and marriage, not all of which I can summarize here. Dusty scraps of parchment rescued from synagogue rubbish rooms, desert caves, and neglected scholarly collections shone fresh light on the New Testament. Theologians who have long felt that divorce should be allowed for abuse and abandonment may be vindicated. And, more importantly, victims of broken marriages can see that God’s law is both practical and loving.

            David Instone-Brewer is senior research fellow in rabbinics and the New Testament at Tyndale House, Cambridge. He is married with two daughters.

          • R.A.

            But what in the immediate context of the verse suggests that some divorces are okay?

        • Shirley Sloan

          (I wonder if Nadine has read the whole Bible…because it’s simply not true that it says “nothing, nada, zero, goose egg” about homosexuality. It certainly does….) But here’s an idea…How about we simply abandon the institutional church…then we could all pray about it as you say, and react according to the leading of the Holy Spirit…rather than as is prescribed by our religious denomination. That way, maybe everyone would be inspired to do their own “research” and perhaps we could all move at the impulse of Christ’s love, rather than in lockstep with the ever-changing agenda of hierarchical corporation which we call “the church”. We are told in the Bible that the Holy Spirit is capable of teaching us all that we need to know to live and move and have our being in Christ, and yet, it seems that there are always plenty of people wanting to teach us who we are to shun and who we must accept. Another benefit of what I have proposed would be that we could respond to each other simply as a brother, rather than playing the “pastor” card. As individuals, we are more likely to freely love the homosexual who is our brother, our child, our friend. It is only as an institution, that we must come down with a hard ruling… either to include or exclude.

    • anakinmcfly

      Exodus International, the largest ‘ex-gay’ program until they shut down, themselves admitted that in ‘99.9%’ of cases there was no change in sexual orientation, just sexual behaviour, often despite the extreme commitment and desperation on the part of those people to become straight. A gay person in a heterosexual relationship is still gay as long as they remain exclusively attracted to members of their same sex. As for the 0.1% of people who seem to have experienced change, based on the testimonies I’ve read I have reason to believe that they were either bisexual rather than gay, or had always been straight and experienced homosexual desires as a result of sexual trauma, rather than as their natural orientation; I’ve known someone who was completely straight until he got raped by a guy, leading him to have compulsive, unwanted gay thoughts which he then pursued; after therapy and healing, he went back to his original heterosexuality. This isn’t the case for actual gay and bisexual people, for whom the imposed heterosexuality is twisting their natural orientations through similar imposed trauma – just look at the amount of sexual abuse apparently carried out under the guise of turning LGB people straight.

      • R.A.

        Hello! McFly! No noogies for you today, my friend. :)

        • anakinmcfly

          My dad used to do that to me all the time, going “Hello! McFly! Anybody home?” and I never knew why until the day I watched Back to the Future for the first time. :|

          • R.A.

            That emoticon doesn’t look that happy. Still angry at your dad? ;-)

  • Don Bromley

    Finally, concerning “welcome and wanted.” As someone who pastored with Ken at the Ann Arbor Vineyard for 14 years as executive and associate pastor, I can tell you that gay people (celibate or not) were absolutely welcome and wanted. So were atheists, the divorced and remarried, unmarried people living together, greedy people, addicts, etc. etc. We can “welcome” and “want” people in our churches regardless of whether their beliefs or behaviors are consistent with discipleship to Jesus.

  • Don Bromley

    My second “finally”… I have to set the record straight regarding Joy Davidman Gresham & C. S. Lewis (who is one of my heroes). What Ken did not mention in his article above is that in addition to being an alcoholic, Bill Gresham (Joy’s previous husband) was a serial adulterer. Therefore according to Jesus in Matthew 19 their divorce would have been valid, and Joy would no longer be married to Bill. So C. S. Lewis would not have been marrying another man’s wife. Am I missing something?

    • Ken Wilson

      Don, Yes. The point is the C/E considered the remarriage out of bounds. The largest Christian communion, RC, does not interpret Mt. 19 the way you would. (The text itself is ambiguous with respect to remarriage.) I’m not arguing against the increased accomodation to remarried persons today, simply stating that even in pretty strict churches, many more remarried people are not excluded than was the case years ago, and that the exclusions then were grounded in a plain sense reading of the texts.

      • Don Bromley

        My point is, pastors who perform weddings for previously divorced people are not simply choosing to disregard the clear commands of Jesus and Scripture because they prayed and felt like they should. At least I am assuming that’s not what you or I did for all those years! And it is not because, as you suggest (quite unfairly), that they could not finance their churches if they did. Rather, these pastors do not believe that Jesus is proscribing all remarriage after divorce and that Jesus would not consider such marriages adultery. (David Instone-Brewer’s book is helpful on this whole issue)

    • grange

      Don, please stop “setting the record straight”. It at least implies that the record was crookedly presented before. If you have some relevant facts to point out feel free but no need to disparage the record maker in the process (unless they were being dishonest) which I don’t think applies here. And the point was not whether Joy had a biblical basis for divorce but rather whether they had a biblical basis for remarriage after the divorce. I don’t see much in Matthew 19 about remarriage. Certainly the great weight of theological authority for centuries has condemned divorce and remarriage as a sin.

      • Don Bromley

        Steve, the fact that Joy’s previous husband was a serial adulterer is a key fact that was left out of the article. Adultery is specifically mentioned by Jesus as grounds for a legitimate divorce. That’s quite relevant to the discussion about whether Lewis would be “marrying another man’s wife”, don’t you think?

        • grange

          Don, it is a relevant fact. It is good for you to share it. I was just trying to encourage to choose a little more generous tone. “Setting the record straight” usually means you think someone is twisting the facts. I hope you don’t think Ken is doing that.

          But the point was that Church of England would not perform the remarriage because they didn’t think it was biblically allowed. Regardless of the grounds or permissibly of the divorce. Most of the church took that position for centuries based on their reading of scripture. Wouldn’t you agree? So over the course of a relatively short time we have come to a more tolerant view on this issue. Wouldn’t it be fair to say this is a similar disputable matter? That Christian discipleship has not sliden off into the abyss by making room for two views on this issue?

          • Don Bromley

            Steve, I think it could be argued that the church’s lax view on divorce and remarriage has been fairly disastrous. When the divorce rates among churchgoers is not significantly different then for the general public, I think we have drifted quite a bit from what Jesus taught. The Eastern Church has always allowed for remarriage after a legitimate divorce, and the Western church has made or allowances for it in recent years. However, as an evangelical I don’t really have a problem challenging long-held traditions. But the basis from which I challenge them should be Scripture.

  • JC

    Thank you.

    • http://www.rocktheworld.org Lloyd P. “Whis” Hays

      Dear Guest: yes, Jesus did say something very much like that. Let’s not ignore the fact that he also told the person who had committed the sexual sin two things: that they were forgiven, and to knock it off now. How about we pay attention to the whole passage, not just the part we like.

  • Merlin Friesen

    I have been wondering for some time if the story of Peter in Joppa at the home of Cornelius might be a better point of reference in this discussion. Elaborating: The Jewish people (the “people of God”) had for centuries assumed they were correct in their sincere understanding that Gentiles were not part of God’s people. It went beyond this, to a deeply-felt aversion to Gentiles. They believed they would be transgressing their faith even to associate with these people.

    However, God met Peter, and challenged him “Do not call unclean what God has made clean.” Something must have been moving in Peter’s heart for some time, for him to be ready to accept this admonition from God. But, fundamentally, Peter had to readjust his thinking, and had to accept that the lines of exclusion which had been so seemingly fundamental, were being re-drawn. God was moving his people to re-order their tidy assumptions of who was “in” and who was “out.” With hindsight, this seems obvious, but I think one can argue that this re-ordering of “reality” was every bit as big a challenge to faith assumptions for the early Jewish Christians, as the current controversy over the acceptance of persons of different sexual identity is in our day.
    Obviously, this line of thinking can be countered with “But the Bible clearly says….” But we must all admit that the Bible clearly says many things which we do not apply as literal requirements (e.g. some of the dress requirements for women laid out in the epistles, not to mention a variety of Old Testament proscriptions which we all seem to accept “obviously” don’t apply outside the context of the time. Different ones of us draw the lines differently on where we contextualize, and where we assume a “literal” application must apply. But we all clearly have to approach our reading of Scripture with some level of humility about how we apply and contextualize it — and how others may have an alternate perspective without our necessarily assuming that their views are thus in error. I think it’s entirely legitimate to read the Bible with similar latitude in regard to the present controversies over a Biblical approach to marriage and sexual identity. This, without simply throwing Biblical authority out the window.
    For many of us, the emotional groundwork has already been made for this adjustment in our perspective by the Holy Spirit — to make the claim of a true present parallel to the Spirit’s reordering in Peter’s faith assumptions in Joppa. Can we accept that God may actually be trying to correct and enlarge our long-standing but limited perspectives yet again, as he did for Peter?

  • Paul Myrant

    First of all as a pastor I would not remarry anyone who wanted to, there are clear boundaries. If you leave for any reason other than adultery, then there should not be remarriage, as a general rule. Secondly, there are several passages in the Bible which give us more nuance when it comes to complete prohibition of divorce and remarriage. There is no ambiguity about practicing homosexual behavior, it is forbidden. It is an aberration of the natural order of human sexuality. In addition to being unbiblical, all homosexual behavior goes directly against human biology, the social structure of humanity and it misunderstands the psychology of the individuals who are transgender and homosexual. It allows them to stay in their dysfunction and sin.

    • BM

      “Abrahamics” believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the gay members of the
      human race. Also, those who have studied homosexuality have determined that there is no choice involved
      therefore gays are gay because god made them that way.

      • Paul Myrant

        I would encourage you to read Lee Ann Payne’s book on broken image before you make such a statement, I have studied a great deal about homosexuality, and it is at the very least an abnormal sexual behavior, based on the biology model of sexual reproduction, the social roles of men and women and the historical role of heterosexuality. In other words, at least 90% of all human beings are heterosexual, despite Kinsey’s flawed study of the prison population. All human reproduction is heterosexual and the need for a man and women to raise children and carry on all of societies functions is very clear. Homosexuality is a dysfunction in a person’s soul regardless of the morality or any religious opinion.

        • BM

          The Royal College of Psychiatrists
          stated in 2007:


          Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation,
          there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of
          parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a
          person’s fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear
          that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex
          interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual
          orientation is therefore not a choice.[60] ”

          “Garcia-Falgueras and
          Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, “The fe-tal brain
          develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a
          direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the
          female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way,
          our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female
          gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain
          structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that
          social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or
          sexual orientation.”[8

          See also from:

          the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said
          review addresses the following “How do genes associated with homosexuality
          avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

          “Most scientists who study human sexuality agree that gay people are born that way.
          But that consensus raises an evolutionary puzzle: How do genes associated with
          homosexuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

        • R.A.

          Hello, Mr. Myrant,

          In the interest of intellectual inquiry, I wondered if you would answer a few questions.

          Homosexuality stems from one’s soul? Can you expound on that point please. Also, you say that fact is proveable apart from religion or philosophical morality, as if the argument is secular, but then invoke the word soul. I’m curious as to your definition of soul.

          I’m also curious as to the studying that you’ve done on homosexuality.

          And a point of contention from your first post, you say something is unequivocally wrong based on scripture. May I ask how you derive this as absolute fact in light of human errors of interpretation on biblical issues throughout the ages?

        • Nor

          And yet almost all animals do it (can’t think of any offhand that don’t. Are bugs animals? Fish can’t really. Hm. Maybe mole rats, but they’re also one of the very few monogamous animals too. Works by chemically (and physically if necessary) castrating every rat in the colony except the breeding queen and her chosen paramour, that she occasionally replaces when she tires of him with one of the other males she hasn’t personally physically castrated. But she does only keep one at a time. Best example of animal monogamy I can find.). Clearly God was ok with it for the rest of life on this planet.

          And every human culture throughout history and around the world. They did find one very isolated (read = inbred) Amazon tribe who had no concept of it, but they were also culturally required to have sex four times a night so that might have been part of the issue. The argument is that since being gay is at least partially heritable (the rest of it seems to be the uterine environment, as triggered by the requisite genes) they simply lacked the genes for it, and were so isolated (just discovered recently) that they never bred the trait in.

          Plenty of the lesbians and gay guys I know have kids. I’m not sure why you’re all fired up about making them have children what with the genetic part of it but they do seem to be fine handling it on their own.

          Oh, and they recently redid Kinsey’s study. Turns out he was being kinda conservative.

          I don’t get how what you do with your genitals does something bad to your soul, or how you feel about writing off 10% of the population of the planet as inherently soulless. Maybe you can explain?

    • AtalantaBethulia

      Re: “If you leave for any reason other than adultery, then there should not be remarriage, as a general rule.”

      What about abuse? What about criminal activity? What about abuse of a child in the marriage? Is adultery truly the only acceptable reason for divorce, in your mind?

  • http://readingscripture.org Ron Henzel

    Ken Wilson’s title offers us the following: “What C.S. Lewis’ Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy.” And then, when we read his article to find out what this “what” is, it all boils down to this: (1) pray about it, (2) ask Jesus what to do, (3) feel led by the Spirit to do what people want, (4) avoid the plain meaning of Scripture when it seems too extreme, (5) use the arguments of those who deny the plain meaning of Scripture as an excuse for converting this whole topic into a “disputable matter” per Romans 14, something analogous to the political differences among cable news networks, (6) accept gay and lesbian couples into full Christian fellowship without passing judgment on their behavior.

    So, assuming that a church actually does this, and one Sunday, as the pastor is preaching through 1 Corinthians, he comes to the following text:

    “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

    What is the pastor to say? Should he say being a fornicator, an adulterer, a thief, and a swindler is bad, but to be a homosexual is just one of those “gray areas,” one of those “disputable matters”—and nobody knows why Paul would lump homosexuality in with those other egregious sins, but it’s best not to worry about it?

    But what if the pastor keeps preaching and finds himself in 1 Timothy, where in the first chapter he reads:

    “…realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.” (1 Tim. 1:9-11)

    How does the pastor explain that Paul ranked homosexuality right up there with patricide, matricide, murderers in general, kidnappers, and so on? Who is going to believe, after reading these (and other!) texts, that the Apostle Paul in particular and the biblical writers in general actually believed that homosexuality was a “disputable matter?”

    • jbarelli

      Rather sorry that the author hasn’t responded here, but maybe I can help.

      You quote 1 Timothy 9-11, but the Greek word Paul used which is often translated as “homosexual” is “arsenokoites”. The Penitential attributed to John the Faster (d 595) mentions arsenokoitia in the context of opposite-sex relationships: “In fact, many men even commit the sin of arsenokoitia with their wives.” (There is a point where it seems to be translated as “engaging in non-procreative sex acts”.)

      In other places, it is translated as “trading in homosexual slaves”. (Anyone wishing to condemn sex slavery will get no argument from me.) Perhaps a better translation for “arsenokitia” would be “sexual abusers”.

      So, the short answer is that Paul said no such thing.

      • Don Bromley

        “Arsenos” is Greek for “male.” “Koiten” is “to lie with (sexually)”. These are the words used in the Septuagint to translate the prohibition in Leviticus of men lying with men. It is also where the word arsenokoitai comes from. It is clearly a prohibition of men having sex with men. Which is why the NIV (and other modern translations) translate it as such.

        • jbarelli

          Actually, “koiten” is Greek for “bed”, rather than “to lie with”, at least if a number of scholars of ancient languages are to be believed, although it was apparently used euphemistically in much the same way we would use the word “bed” for sex. Nevertheless, the people of Paul’s time did not use the word “arsenokoitai” to mean “homosexual”. It’s easy to make the leap, considering the English word “coitus”, but that actually derives from the Latin “coire”.

          Interestingly enough, if your preferred translation were accurate, that would only condemn male homosexuality, as you are correct in pointing out that the word is masculine, and the Greek word for female homosexuality (lesbiai) is not mentioned anywhere.

          • Don Bromley

            Koiten used as a noun can mean “bed.” Where it is used as a verb, as it clearly is in this case, it means “to lie with sexually.” Check out a Greek lexicon. On your second point, I would check out a good commentary on Romans chapter 1.

          • R.A.

            And whom is the arsen koitai-ing? :) Right next to that mysterious word, we have malakoi. The word malakoi, as most Catholic Bibles note, was a Catamite. And this was a, most likely, prepubescent male prostitute. In that context, we’d condemn that, too. Even if the arsen was a woman, right?

          • Don Bromley

            “Malakos” refers to the receptive partner in a male homosexual act. It’s literal meaning is “soft.” Take a look at the most recent modern Bible translations or a good Evangelical commentary.

          • anakinmcfly

            It’s literal meaning *is* ‘soft’, as you say, or sometimes ‘weak’ as in spiritually so. In earlier translations, this was sometimes translated as ‘womanly’, given that women were considered ‘soft'; this later got translated to ‘effeminate’, and then somehow started being taken to refer to the ‘receptive partner’ you mention. But that’s a lot of linguistic leaps. Women aren’t inherently soft or weak. Being womanly is not the same as being effeminate. Being effeminate is not the same as being gay; and even not all effeminate gay men are the ‘receptive partner’, which is such a crude way to put it – you’re basically reducing a human being into a sex act.

          • Don Bromley

            R.A. do you really believe that St. Paul (or Jesus) would have accepted homosexual practices under ANY circumstances?

          • R.A.

            Mr. Bromley, thanks for taking the time to reply.

            In Christ’s cae, the answer to the question can only be I don’t know for either of us since he said nothing on the subject.

            For Paul, he has some cultural understandings that would keep him from seeing the issue as we can. Note the context of Romans. For Paul, this seems to be an issue of idolatry. He believes paganism leads to sexual frenzy where no discernment is made in the heat of the moment as to who your partner is.

            True, Paul says nothing positive and presents cases where the context is clearly sinful. That being said, such acts would still be condemned if we substituted in heterosexual acts into the mix.

            As for Malakos, what sources are you looking at? Strong’s concordance notes how the term figuratively means Catamite. The Catholic bible usually has a footnote explaining such, as well. So the two in this list are clearly in some form of prostituiton given the Catamite’s status. Also, it could be that the Catamite is a slave kept for sexual purposes. If such is the case, then it better makes sense that Paul would also include kidnappers right next to this pairing to indite

          • R.A.

            I don’t know why discuss hates iPads. Wouldn’t let me finish or edit that last post.

            Anywho, it indicts all three members of the issue.

            Also, what denomination are you from? Paul says quite a few things about women that most congregations seem to overlook, so appealing to him for cultural morality might not be the safest bet.

            Also, looking at only evangelical sources when it comes to an issue such as this could very well lead to a one-sided viewpoint.

          • Don Bromley

            I agree with you. But Ken goes out of his way to stress that he is an Evangelical, so I am primarily referring to Evangelical sources. Although I am not aware of ANY New Testament scholars who would agree that Paul would extend “disputable matters” to sexual morality.

          • Don Bromley

            Here’s one (there are many): Fritz Rienecker. “A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament.” Rienecker comments on these words in 1Cor 6:9, “malakos soft, effeminate, a technical term for the passive partner in homosexual relations … arsenokoites a male who has sexual relations with a male, homosexual” (p.402).

            Also, read the footnote to this verse in the NIV.

          • R.A.

            Thanks for this. I’ll check it out.

          • Don Bromley

            R. A. are you saying that we see this issue more clearly than Paul did because of our modern understanding of this subject? I have two issues with that: 1) wasn’t the percentage of gay adults then about the same as it is now? Were all gay people pedophiles and rapists? I think not. Paul was certainly aware that adult men had consensual sex with each other, as is forbidden in Leviticus. 2) Where does the idea of scriptural inspiration come into this? Does the New Testament simply reflect the limited narrow viewpoints of some human authors 2,000 years ago?

          • R.A.

            Mr. Bromley, thanks for a respectful response. It’s amazing how often many discussions like this devolve into character attacks over the other person’s interpretational views. Sad some people just get so dang angry when discussing this. Phew. There’s a lot to unpack in this post. I’ll try my best to address each of your points until the discussion app goes kaput on me.

            1) The percentage of gay people would certainly be the same. That being said, the concept of an orientation wasn’t classified until the late 1800s. Therefore, Paul would have understood that all men are attracted to women on some level. Thus, apples and oranges for us and Paul on “gay” people. But you’re right, Paul would have known about consensual gay sex, and he would probably wouldn’t have liked it. But, when referencing the Levitical verses, are we not free from the Law now, as Paul continually argued? If anything, I’m of the opinion I need to use the New Testament to determine morality.

            2) it’s not so much a matter of inspiration as it is interpretation. How do you interpret the verse where Jesus says for you to cut off your hand? How about when he tells the rich young man that selling all you have and giving it to the poor is a component of salvation to inherit eternal life? What about when Paul says that women will be saved through childbirth? When we choose to say, “Well, that’s not what was meant.” Then we immediately begin adding our understanding to the verse. And speaking for myself, I can’t say that my interpretation is as infallible as the Word. It’s just my best shot. And I’m hoping God’s grace is powerful enough to cover those shortcomings.

          • Nor

            “But you’re right, Paul would have known about consensual gay sex, and he would probably wouldn’t have liked it.”

            “When we choose to say, “Well, that’s not what was meant.” Then we immediately begin adding our understanding to the verse. And speaking for myself, I can’t say that my interpretation is as infallible as the Word.”

            If it’s up to interpretation at the individual level (and Paul agreeing rather than disagreeing with your specific 20th century cultural beliefs is certainly a pretty assumptive thing to believe), then how can you possibly say anyone else is right or wrong?

            “Paul would have understood that all men are attracted to women on some level.” Which is clearly incorrect, or just as correct as saying all men are attracted to men on some level. So Paul was wrong? Or imaginary Paul was wrong? Do you find Paul agreeing with you often? The only way Paul could have come to that conclusion was by doing massive polls in ancient Palestine asking about people’s masturbatory fantasies. I don’t think he did that. Maybe I’m wrong?

          • Nor

            I fail to understand how anyone can claim literal belief in a text that’s not even in the original written language. And also that has multiple versions even if you go back to Aramaic or Hebrew.

          • Don Bromley

            The argument in Romans 1 refers to those who exchange what is “natural” for what is “unnatural.” Heterosexual relations (natural) for homosexual relations (unnatural). His argument is that this exchange of natural for unnatural is a symptom and consequence of an idolatrous people who do not recognize God. I think the best commentaries on Romans 1 bear this out.

          • R.A.

            Okay, I’m answering this post after the other since there’s more to cover here.

            First, “unnatural”, in my humble opinion cannot be tantamount to “sinful”. I think this for a couple reasons.

            Paul’s usage of the term makes assigning it a solely negative meaning problematic. A few chapters later, Paul uses the same word to reference an action of God’s, noting how God acted unnaturally by grafting us, Gentiles, into his family tree.

            And if we try to understand the term in regards to Natural Law, then we must struggle with the verse where Paul says long hair is unnatural for a man. Isn’t long hair actually more natural?

            Then here’s my difficulties with Natural Law:

            A) Natural Law depends on God’s intent for creation. This is something we don’t know. Just because the creation account(s) depicts the beginning in a certain way doesn’t mean we have a glimpse into God’s intended purposes. True, we see what God creates, but that doesn’t mean we see his ultimate intentions. We can only surmise at those. What did God intend for the appendix? The jury’s still out.

            B) For Natural Law to really be a law, it must be pervasive in its scope, applied equally to all creation. But it’s only really appealed to in sexual contexts. The problem with that approach is that it ignores God’s intent for the rest of creation. If we applied it as a universal law, then we would be breaking it by using the penicillin-mold for pharmaceutical purposes instead of allowing it to simply decompose matter. But if someone suggests maybe God intended for penicillin to be used as a drug, then we run back into the problem listed under letter A.

            And suppose we allow the Law to stand despite the lack of all-inclusive scope, we (rightfully) condemn sexual conduct between adults and thirteen year-olds despite the fact that the body is physically capable of such conduct at that age. If we insist on Natural Law, then we must explain why this is an exception since, naturally, all mechanics are in working order, despite the context of a “marriage”. But if we (rightfully, in my opinion) insist that such a relationship is immoral, then we’ve made an exception to Natural Law. And by definition, laws must have no exceptions. Therefore, we’ve already showed we’ve applied the Natural Law selectively, thus we’ve violated its status as a law, rendering it outside of a universal rule.

            C) Natural Law just isn’t biblically based, in my humble opinion. It’s something we’ve read into the text. Can we find evidence for it? Sure. But to do so, we have to operate on the belief that it’s true before we ever start reading the text, and I don’t think that’s the best exegetical approach for interpreting the scripture.

          • Brenda Stevens

            In Greek, the word translated as “nature” (as in “against their nature, unnatural”) usually means one’s personal disposition, not some greeter idea of a common nature. Thus, for heterosexual women to engage in homosexual activities is against their own personal sexual preferences and so is sinful. The counter to that can be that for homosexual people to engage in heterosexual activities is against their own personal sexual preferences and so is sinful. When the text is unclear as it is here (regarding whether the more common meaning of nature or the less common one is meant), I always side with the greatest commandment of all–to love my neighbors.

          • Nor

            You’d have to explain it to him first, that it was in the context of a loving marriage. I think he might just be cool with that.

          • Don Bromley

            Nor, are you assuming that the biblical prohibitions on same-gender sexual activity were meant to apply only to *unloving* acts? Or do you mean that Jesus (and I’m assuming his disciples) preached a radical new form of sexual ethics where people could do whatever sexual acts they wanted to as long as it was loving?

          • Nor

            Gay marriage didn’t exist then, so yes, the argument would be what it often is to those who would deny gay people the right to marry now – that those marriages cannot possibly be loving, because gay sex can’t possibly occur within the bounds of a loving monogamous relationship and therefore can’t be a marriage. Which is obviously wrong and a willfully obtuse lie.

            Can’t people, within the bonds of marriage before which they must remain extremely virginal of course, do whatever they want sexually within the bonds of marriage? Or are people within the church restricted to sex solely for the purpose of reproduction (which I guess limits you to one week a month at best, PIV only, in between babies/pregnancies) or perhaps are merely banned from sodomy (anything not PIV sex)? I didn’t know anyone was following the no oral sex rule, but wow, please enlighten me as to how the church enforces that or even explicitly discusses it.

    • ThisBethesdaSea

      The term homosexual wasn’t even created/used until the late 1800s. Secondly, that term was then ADDED to the bible. Yes, that’s right, it was added. Secondly, what’s been discovered is that Paul wrote about sexual acts as witnessed in the context of religious tradition. What Paul wrote about alarmed him, not because it was same sex attraction or same sex acts, but because what he saw and in the context he saw it in was so flagrantly idolatrous and hedonistic.

      Lastly, these are the writings of Paul, not the writings of God. Since when does Paul make law? I’m outraged at tomatos, but I don’t think they’re sinful. Ron, you know me personally. You know that I am gay. From what you know of me, are you really equating my same sex attraction to matricide and murder?

      Jaime M Prater

  • Rory Tyer

    This is a very thoughtful, kind, and pastoral post, and I appreciate where you are coming from. I think most churches need to be corrected on their approach to LGBTQ persons and most Christians need to understand many things much better than they do, such as giving up the rhetoric of “choice” or “lifestyle,” and thinking hard about who exactly is welcome, and in what way, in our congregation. Avoiding double standards is an imperative for the church. I wrestled with sexual identity issues growing up and I have done a fair amount of reading / teaching / thinking about these things, as well as lamenting, in local church contexts, so I appreciate seeing other church leaders attempting to wrestle thoughtfully and compassionately with a difficult issue, unafraid of departing from what seems to be an accepted party line.

    But there are a number of things I think ought to be fleshed out further:

    1. You selectively quote Paul on marriage, giving a skewed and incomplete biblical theology of marriage in the process. You also do not quote Jesus but marshal him in support of a point I do not think his teachings support. He says some fairly affirming things about marriage in Matthew 19, including saying, in v. 11, that God gives people different “words” about marriage and remarriage–implying God definitely gives some people “words” about marriage!

    2. You rethought your position on tradition based not on the weight of the biblical texts but on a sort of meta-perspective change on the texts, irrespective of whether they may still mean what you don’t now think they mean. Or, at least, you don’t give evidence here that you have grappled with the exegetical issues; one reason I say that is…

    3. At one point you make passing mention of the “handful of texts” that refer to same-sex marriage. I’m not aware of any robust biblical-theological method that privileges counting numbers of verses when building a biblical theology of any subject, let alone the fraught, important, and deeply human subject of sexuality, being as it is a facet of a more broad theological anthropology. If you believe that weight should be given to numbers of texts, what about the doctrine of the Trinity? I am not being alarmist- I am asking for consistency in biblical-theological methodology. If the texts are telling us a story, and they are inviting us in to participate in that story, at some point we need to discern a narrative shape, work out various twists and turns of plot, and establish the character of the author so that we can continue to find our own place in the story. Counting Bible verses & finding a low number of explicit references on any given subject doesn’t empower believers to understand and relive the narrative of Scripture, let alone consistently incorporate its vision into their lives and their lives into its purview. We need to equip people to use the Bible better than that, especially as it concerns something so pastorally sensitive, culturally fraught, and existentially difficult.

    I do not want to come across as alarmist, but I would also hope that my reaction is not simply lumped alongside other “conservative reactions” or seemingly predictable responses on the part of people alarmed that someone is upsetting established conservative ways of thinking about some hot-button issue. I’m unconcerned with shibboleths and gatekeepers; they’re worthless as far as the kingdom is concerned. What I am concerned with is thinking well about how we hear the Bible on any issue, and especially those issues on which our ears might be that much more hard of hearing given our cultural context, assumptions, and existential difficulties.

  • Paul Thacker

    Hi Ken,
    Thanks for all the effort writing the article but I have some confusion. I don’t struggle with homosexuality, however I do find it difficult to keep several other christian rules. I struggle with being a cheerful giver, I would rather keep my money. There seems to be one heck of a lot less scripture on tithing in the New Testament than on homosexuality being a sin. Does this mean if I accept and promote gay marriage that I don’t have to tithe anymore? And while we are talking about sex, how about adultery? I think I would like to sleep with a whole bunch of other women. If I accept and welcome homosexuality among the faithful, can I have adultery be OK? I have trouble being obedient to God’s written word, and since we are writing new rules I want in on changing them.
    Thanks,
    Paul Thacker

    • anakinmcfly

      No rules are being rewritten.

      “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
      – Galatians 5:14.

      “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
      – Mark 12:30-31

      Not tithing is arguably not loving God with all your heart, mind and strength. Committing adultery is not loving your neighbour (your wife) as yourself. Being in a loving relationship with someone else who happens to be of the same gender – that doesn’t break either of those laws, from what I can see. Whereas condemning such people is *definitely* not loving your neighbour.

    • R.A.

      Hey, Paul. How are you? Your tone comes across as a little snippy. Not sure if you intended for it to be thus in your thought experiment here. If so, why are you upset?

      See Anakin’s post, as it is much better than mine; however, the argument you are making is dependent on homosexuality being a sin. I believe the Bible to be inconclusive on the issue, and I’m willing to go in depth further as to why if you ask on specific points. But since I believe the premise is false, the argument cannot follow.

      • Paul Thacker

        Greetings R.A.. “A little snippy” Ok, I can live with that. I’m a simple guy and I have an incredibly difficult time believing that anyone can read a Bible and not believe that the Bible holds that the act of homosexuality is a sin. It seems about as clean cut as can be. My “con man” meter is in the red zone.
        For the sake of argument let take 1 Corinthians chapter 6 = 9 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 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were.But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
        Currently the fashion is to say homosexuality is not a sin. As long as you are throwing homosexual out of this list, lets throw out all sexual immorality. Look on the bright side R.A., there are a lot more adulterers in church than there are homosexuals. You should have an easier time selling adultery and then you can slip in homosexuality as a bonus.
        Yeah, I’m snippy, I don’t think you are being intellectually honest. This is why liberal churches fail. For you homosexuality is difficult, for me it is other things. The liberal churches throw out the things they don’t like and for some reason can’t understand the logic that follows. There are times that following Christ has a cost. If you are in a church culture that says “wait a minute” these hard things to obey don’t have to be done if it is unpopular; then that church is undermining the authority of scripture. As for me and people like me if scripture has no authority then I’m outta here.

        • R.A.

          Hey, Paul, I can tell this is an issue that upsets you for some reason. Don’t take the comment on tone earlier as accusatory or insulting. I was just trying to tell if I’d misread your tone.

          Also, I don’t believe I’m being any more intellectually dishonest than the domination that worships down the road from you. Different interpretation? Maybe. But shooting for dishonesty? Not so much.

          I’ll try to address each point as well as my feeble brain is able:

          1) I certainly see scripture as authoritative. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be Christian. But please don’t think someone takes scripture less reverently just because they wind up on a different interpretational track than you. I don’t think you’re being intellectually dishonest or twisting scripture for your views. It’s just your interpretation, and I respect that.

          2) There are problems with that Corinthian verse’s translation before we ever come to the table to discuss it. Firstly, “homosexual” wasn’t even a word until the late 1800s, which was, coincidentally, when it became a concept for us post-advent of psychology. The word there is arsenkoitai. It’s translation, roughly, is male bedders. Now, is it someone who beds males? Or a male who beds? With compound words, it’s difficult. It’s even more difficult since Romans is the first ever recorded using of that word. And later uses of it only put it in similar vice lists, which makes using context difficult. The word it’s paired with in that verse is malakoi, which is, if you trust the Catholic Bible, a young, prepubescent male prostitute. Now, if that word arsenkoitai is used in conjunction with malakoi, then it is highly likely we are referencing the older male in a pederastic relationship. In fact, Martin Luther

          • R.A.

            Translated the word as knabenshander, which means “violator of boys”. Luther must have understood the context of the verse with malakoi to be a reference to the pederastic relationships common in Paul’s day.

            But even if we allow it to be in reference to a gay person, then it can only be a gay male, as the word does not allow for gay females.

          • Paul Thacker

            Greetings R.A., Sorry but the “shooting for dishonest” is where my meter is going. Here is why, if this push for homosexual marriage came out of someone doing doctrinal studies and discovering “whoops” we made a wrong interpretation, followed by translators for NIV, NAS, ASV etc. apologizing and coming out with better translations then ok. But that is not what is happening here. What is happening is that people with homosexual desires are wanting to keep and act on their desires and not have it called sin.
            Now I’m trained as an engineer, I’m used to spending months on minutiae that would drive other people crazy. If you can make that case and have bible scholars agree, more power to you, then I’m with you. You just want to argue for the standards of the ancient Greeks then not so much. We live in a time when Biblical morality is unpopular with our society, so be it.

          • R.A.

            I understand you may feel that gay people are shooting for “justification”, but that doesn’t mean that we, collectively as a church, haven’t gotten this issue wrong much like we were wrong on the subordination of women and the belief that the Bible supports slavery. Heck, interracial marriage opponents used many of the same arguments that anti-gay proponents do. But, maybe, just maybe, God might be trying to lead us slowly to where he wants us. Could I be wrong? Sure. I’m logical enough to admit I could be wrong. But I also know I’ve prayed passionately over this issue, as many have, begging God to help me arrive at the conclusion he would have me reach. I can assure you, this is not something I have taken lightly. And I still pray that exact same prayer. But I try out these arguments to see if they hold any water. Intellectual testing, as it were. So, I ask humbly once more, please don’t question my intentions or faith. I could be wrong on my interpretation, but my heart is seeking the truth on this issue, whatever that may be.

            By the way, these ideas don’t originate from me. These all come from various biblical scholars who, looking at the issue, are starting to find things that no one saw before. Many are straight, as well.

        • anakinmcfly

          But homosexuality is not inherently sexual immoral any more than heterosexuality is. I’m gay, and wholly against sexual immorality of any kind. More so than my straight peers, it often seems. They’re the ones copulating all over the place, sometimes non-consensually, sometimes adulterously, whereas I’m staying a celibate and mostly fapless virgin until gay marriage. Yet I’m the one considered sexually immoral, go figure.

          This isn’t about throwing out things we “don’t like”. It’s about studying the Bible seriously rather than blindly following what we assume it says, influenced by our own cultural and linguistic biases.

          And to paraphrase Christian blogger John Shore, homosexuality is the only ‘sin’ that, when condemned, reduces or denies a person of the ability to love. Not lust, as is the case with sexual immorality; but love. Not a single other sin does that.

          (unless you’re of the opinion that sexless gay romantic relationships are ok, in which case never mind.)

          • Paul Thacker

            Greetings anakinmcfly, I had to look up “fapless” , you learn something every day. For a second let’s set aside Matthew 5:28 “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”. Let’s make a distinction between desires and acts. It looks to me that in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 that the Bible is talking about homosexual acts, not desires. It seems to condemn those acts pretty clearly. It also seems to condemn “copulating all over the place” pretty clearly as well as drunken and greedy.

            I don’t accept the premise that homosexual sex equates to love. “homosexuality is the only ‘sin’ that, when condemned, reduces or denies a person of the ability to love.” Loving someone and having sex with them are not equal. Loving people deeply is a great and wonderful thing. Having sex before marriage is a sin. Sorry, not my rule, I would like to throw it out. My having sex with women other than my wife is a sin. Sorry, not my rule, I would like to throw it out.

            I have trouble with “sexless gay” adjectives. “Gay” is about sex. Love deeply, certainly love men. Romance men equals playing with fire.

            Sexual urges are incredibly strong, those middle of the night conversations with your buddy crying his eyes out because he has fallen in love with another woman and wants to leave his wife and two young children, start with innocent flirtation. He never saw the sequence of steps coming. Now he is claiming he has found his “soul mate”, he has never felt love like this before, God must want this, they are destined to be together. Fast forward a couple of years, he is divorced, the other woman is divorced, two families are broken and now the other woman is gone. True story, incredible pain for all involved. Try to avoid sin. Another true story, Methodist minister relative discovers after years of marriage that he is gay, has had lots of gay sex on minister gatherings. Decides to “come out”. His teen boys are crushed, one goes into a spiral of drugs and acting out. “God must want this, he can no longer deny who he is”. Try to avoid sin.

            I don’t know the reason behind your desires, I do know others that had incorrect sexual desires and acted on them. Whether they stayed with their wives or not there was still incredible pain.

            Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

          • R.A.

            Don’t mean to intrude on this conversation, but just an interesting note, the American Standard version of the Job quote reads: “He will slay me; I have no hope.” The RSV agrees, even noting that KJV translators used a note on the side of the manuscript written by a “pious” scribe who, apparently, didn’t appreciate Job’s defiant tone.

          • anakinmcfly

            I fully agree that sex is not love, and that loving someone and having sex with them are not at all the same thing. You misunderstand me there. What I’m talking about is the difference between a romantic relationship and a platonic friendship. I’m guessing that the love you have for your wife (or future wife), even in the absence of sex, would be inherently different from the kind of love you have for a close platonic friend. And that’s the kind of love being denied gay people, and which I protest against.

            The examples you give are not relevant. That friend was committing adultery, which is a sin. He had made a promise and commitment to his wife that should have either been upheld or not made to begin with. As for that minister – that’s a precise example of how gay people pressured into straight marriages ends up ruining lives all around. It was the denial of who he was, and his pursuing of a heterosexuality that was unnatural and perverse for him, that led to all the trouble and affairs and destroyed lives. If he had been able to be honest with himself and society at the start, he would have never entered a marriage he knew he did not believe in and which was doomed from the beginning.

          • Nor

            If you could never have sex (or sexual contact of any kind, including kissing) with your wife, from the beginning to the end of your marriage, do you think you’d have the same marriage (especially as you could never have sex with anyone else)?

            How can you be willing to require others to make that same sacrifice if you won’t yourself? Unless of course you are a Shaker, in which case, by all means, judge away.

            If that minister knew he was gay to begin with, and had married and had kids with a man, everything would have been fine. I assume that was your point?

        • Nor

          The Bible is also pretty pro-slavery, but I’ve found it hard to find acceptance in my community if I take that stance.

  • Troy Hendrickson

    Jesus settled the issue of homosexuality already.
    He considered it so important that he never said a single word about it.

    And when dealing with those who sought to involve themselves and judge others for sexual sin, real or imagined, he told them to shut up and go home.

  • Don Bromley

    Check out David Instone-Brewer’s books “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context” and “Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities.”

    “Among the important findings of the book are that both Jesus and Paul condemned divorce without valid grounds and discouraged divorce even for valid grounds; that both Jesus and Paul affirmed the Old Testament grounds for divorce; that the Old Testament allowed divorce for adultery and for neglect or abuse; and that both Jesus and Paul condemned remarriage after an invalid divorce but not after a valid divorce. Instone-Brewer shows that these principles are not only different from the traditional church interpretation of the New Testament but also directly relevant to modern relationships.”

  • Monique

    I’m so glad to read this.
    My husband left me 6 years ago… he had been unfaithful (which I didn’t know), and he left me after a mere 15 months of marriage, filed… bam. Divorced.
    And yet:: I have encountered discrimination from single Christian men who will not date a woman who was married due to their translation of the Bible…

    My brother is gay… he used to follow Christ but couldn’t shake his core of what felt ‘true’ to him– and has undergone some of the harshest of scrutiny and discrimination from our father, a retired pastor, on his homosexuality.
    And yet:: I believe I am one of the only believers who has told him that- no matter who he decides to marry I will love him unconditionally.

    I think it’s so easy to debate these topics ‘from afar’ — and yet- when you’re face to face with someone who IS divorced… who IS gay… telling them that they are loved and wanted and SEEN and known and VALUED for all that they are- and all that they aren’t– holds so much weight.
    I beg evangelicals to imagine looking someone who is gay in the face and telling them they’re not welcome. These are real people… not just topics.

    • Nor

      The sad thing is, evangelicals and other conservative Christians will absolutely say that. It’s why 40% of homeless youth are LGBT.

  • Paul Frantizek

    “Most evangelical churches have remarried leaders. No one speaks of loving these remarried people but hating their sin.”

    I would argue that if a priest/pastor isn’t telling the divorced people in his congregation that, while he loves and supports them as people created in God’s image, he hates the practice of divorce for its corrosive effects on our families and culture, if he’s not making that clear, he’s not living up to his obligations as clergy.

    Our contemporary secular culture does a good enough job pushing relativism in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ and ‘compassion’. It hardly needs the help of religious institutions to achieve that goal.

  • osu84

    You are correct. Marrying a couple where one or both have been previously married and without an annulment is a clear violation of the direct and unmistakable teaching of Christ. Personally, I wish he hadn’t said what he said. But he did so I don’t see how any Christian minister can perform or even consent to a remarriage. If the CS Lewis anecdote is completely accurate (and complete) then the priest who performed the wedding did wrong. I’m suspicious that all of the facts have been relayed. Was Davidman’s first wedding legitimate? I don’t know.

  • http://www.odubcm.org/ Brett

    Ken, what a great post.

    I wrestled with this subject while in seminary against all of my wishes to do so. “It began with a burr beneath the saddle of my conscience.” Your words reach back and aptly describe how something internal simply would not let me be. I tried to ignore, avoid, let someone else deal with, and even literally run from this prompting because I already knew what I “had” to believe on this subject. After a lengthy process I finally realized I had not asked God what to do. It seems crazy but the Bible had been an idol keeping me from praying, as you said, to our living God in search of where God would lead. What a difference it has made! I have had a few God “experiences” and they have all shaped my life. Would you believe when I finally stopped, with tears in my eyes, and begged God to let me know if I was following Christ in this, the stillness of God covered me. Only once before have I been so confident of God’s clear affirmation and it was in my salvation experience.

    Thank you for you post. Thank you for being bold in your thought and eager to follow our Lord! I appreciate you words and will contemplate them in the hopes this language may in fact build bridges and mend divisions in our family. I often wonder how dysfunctional we must seem to non-Christians!

  • Latanya Williams Jenkins

    Yes ,ask Jesus. He will say the word is the word. If someone has a relationship with Jesus, they can really hear his voice. He will lead and guide them in truth. Protestants must stop compromising for popular belief or what is politically correct.

  • klhayes

    Interesting story about C.S. Lewis, especially since the Church of England was formed so King Henry VIII could divorce his wife and marry Anne Bolyn.

    • Nor

      If C.S. had married his dead brother’s wife, I’m sure remarriage would have been fine.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Ken Wilson: thank you for your bravery shown in your article. I hope you will hold to your thoughts in the storm that normally follows a disciple of Jesus. After all, you are now welcoming the modern Samaritans, and allowing the Holy Spirit time to do the convicting and changing (if any). You have dared to become like Jesus, rather than like a normal Evangelical that serves in the office of pastor.

    I attended a Vineyard for a time, and rejected that church organization due to a strong prejudice shown by their statement, “All bisexuals are promiscuous… everyone knows that.” After all, as a bisexual, I had stated, ‘Some men are hot; some women are hot; it is just a chemical thing… it does not mean I am jumping into bed with anyone.” Also, they held to sloganism far more than scriptures… and believed their slogans to need no justification from the Bible.

    Are you planning to stay with Vineyard? If not, I hope you will create a new church, ‘The Open Vineyard’. I see in your writings someone that is wrestling with ‘What did Jesus do?’ and with the handling of Samaritans (bad genetics; divorced 5 times; currently co-habituating…). Thank you.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Michael Edwards

    Thank you, Ken. As Spirit-filled gay person I welcome your openness of heart. The people who have responded, “Well, Lewis sinned too!” are blind to Jesus’ desire to bless and save people even if it means breaking the law. Christ touching the leper; his disciples pluking grain on the sabbath; Christ looking favorably on David’s men eating the showbread; and Jesus’ graciousness to the Samaritan woman seem to fly right over their heads. I would suggest that Christ gave us the authority to loose, to permit (Matthew 18:18-20) just for situations like this. Even your detractors don’t cajole divorced and remarried people in their churches — at least I hope not, lest they find themselves becoming latter day pharisees who lay heacy nurdens on others but don’t lift a finger to help them.

  • STOP the traffic

    Let’s explore another situation and tell me you would act the same. Welcome all is our mantra at our church but with acceptance of Christ Jesus we also accept discipleship. Discipleship could not allow sinful behaivor whether it is gossiping, stealing, lying or even homosexual behavior. I am a fairly normal man and I must keep in check my lustful nature. I cannot be given over to pornography, lewd movies, extra marital affairs and such because I have asked Jesus and He has told me to seek after Him and when I do that I feel the power to overcome sin. Thank God that I do. Sin has a penalty even to Christians. It separates us from the Father even if in our minds because as I like to say “I can’t look Him in the eye” after I sin. I must get forgiveness which seems to be coupled with the prayer of “Please help me keep from such things”.

    So the story: Let’s say a friend of mine tells me that he wants to get a tattoo on his arm. He describes the tattoo and I think it sounds great. I ask him how much one costs and he says “$500″. I let him know that it is a lot of money because he is unemployed and has none to spare. He agrees. 2 weeks later he shows up with the same tattoo he described. “WOW! I exclaim, that looks great. How could you afford it?” “Simple” he says, “I stole the money.”

    Can I rejoice in the tattoo with him? What shall I do as a Christian? Accept him hook line and sinker? Won’t my calling him out be futile since the damage is done? He cannot UNtattoo himself and return the money. This scenario is not much different than many situations in the church today. Young couples sleeping together and having a child, people cheating and lying to get ahead and calling it God’s blessing and finally our subject at hand. People with a problem of lustful thoughts towards the opposite sex yet the church is in the position to to either be self righteous dogmatic hypocrites or fully accept them. I can appreciate the article and can tell you that I think about this often. I too am a pastor. I have friends in this very situation. I advise them to love their kids and their friends without reserve but I cannot ask them to wrap their arms around the sin and accept it as something good. I wouldn’t kick my drunk neighbor out but I also won’t let him be in a drunken state in my house either. Righteousness is a great thing as long as it doesn’t offend anybody unrighteous, I suppose.

    • AtalantaBethulia

      Re: “I cannot be given over to pornography, lewd movies, extra marital affairs and such because I have asked Jesus and He has told me to seek after Him and when I do that I feel the power to overcome sin.”

      My atheist friends shake their heads at this because they honor their commitments to their spouses because a) they love them and b) that’s what decent human beings do.

      I truly am hopeful that men really aren’t as prone to pornography and cheating as they make themselves out to be, for that would surely lower my impression of them if it is true.

      • STOP the traffic

        My atheist friends also agree that extra marital affairs are not good but they do not necessarily agree about the porn and lust part. If at least a few of them agree they are not in compliance with their beliefs because they indulge plenty. I like that you generalize the whole g/l group into ” two consenting adults in a mutually loving and committed monogamous relationship” but only a few of my g/l friends fit that mold.

        Finally, I will use your question “The question is, STOP the traffic, is the Church going to be a hospital for sinners or a museum for the pious?” I choose hospital. Now please admit there are sick that needs healing. Because if the church represents God’s plan for redemption FROM sin it certainly is an easy leap to say that there really is sin. If there is sin then the authority on what is sin and what is not sin is the Bible. But in today’s view it is what the popular opinion is. My point above about lust and such was to make a point that I am not allowed, due to my convictions to remain in sin but I find that righteousness is far better. My life is far far better in a pursuit of God than it was when I was in pursuit of my own selfish wants. I find that when I pursue God I want to sin less and He does indeed love me and wants better for me. This life I live in Christ is extremely better than my old life. I really see no downside to it.

        Gregory Cramer

        • AtalantaBethulia

          Re: ” I like that you generalize the whole g/l group into ” two consenting adults in a mutually loving and committed monogamous relationship” but only a few of my g/l friends fit that mold.”

          Actually, I didn’t generalize. I referenced a specific demographic: two consenting adults in a mutually loving and committed monogamous relationship. That you inferred I meant all LGBT people is your assumption, but not one I implied. I am not in favor of promiscuity.

          Re: “Now please admit there are sick that needs healing.”

          I do, though I would include the Church among the sick.

          Re: “But in today’s view it is what the popular opinion is.”

          It would seem difficult to conflate Mr. Wilson’s prayerful, spirit-directed searching of God and the Scriptures with a “popular opinion.” For, as is clear, among his peers, his is not a popular opinion at all.

          Re: “My life is far far better in a pursuit of God than it was when I was in pursuit of my own selfish wants.”

          I agree! So is mine. Which is why being a “welcoming and wanting” Church is so important in order not to lock people out of the kingdom of heaven by instead missing the spirit of Jesus’ teachings.

      • Nor

        Porn watching is normal. Scientists have attempted to do studies on men who watch porn vs. those who don’t, but could not find enough who don’t to do a study.

        Conflating it with affairs is a bit much, I’m not sure why the church does that but I do think that attitude harms relationships and marriages, because at the very least it requires men to lie from the get go.

        Cheating is pretty equal between the sexes, women just get caught less.

        Churches who make themselves out to be hostile to sinners do tend to end up empty. But then, the churches are emptying in general, and seem to be increasingly out of touch and outdated. It’s a pity because they do try to do good works, just that sometimes they choose to do them in an abusive manner.

    • Nor

      I most surely hope that you are in a celibate marriage, and that it has been celibate from the beginning. Otherwise I find it hard to imagine how you can, with a straight face, tell others thats what they must do.

  • R.A.

    Hey, Stop. I hope you are doing well today. I feel your analogy breaks down if the underlying basis of the analogy, i.e. homosexuality is a sin, is incorrect. I’d be glad to discuss this further if you like.

  • Robert Miller

    I bet I would still be an outcast as a Reformed Presbyterian polgynist. Call me when he will allow my family with both wives participate in and take communion in his church. The monogamy idol is alive and well even with those that accept homosexuals. I’ve heard many pastors comment at defense of marriage gatherings what’s next polygamy? As if it’s the next step after same sex marriage towards hell.

    • Nor

      Does your church also allow women to marry multiple men?

      • Robert Miller

        No

        • Nor

          Why not?

  • Richard Williams

    Your points don’t stand. Two wrongs don’t make a right and in the case of C.S. Lewis. the Scripture is clear that if an unbeliever decides to leave a believer, the believer is not obligated to the marriage anymore, however, in the case of two believers, there is absolutely no reason that they should not be able to reconcile a relationship. Just because people in the church are allowing remarriage in case where they shouldn’t be does not justify your stand regarding same sex relationships. All this means that you are at fault for compromising in two cases and not just one. Shame on you and the church at large for not having the guts to stand up for the truth of the situation.

  • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

    I think this is helpful, as I’ve struggled with dealing with this issue as well. I’ve known many good, committed gay folks, and my struggle has been why we zero in on this one issue so strongly, yet routinely ignore and turn a blind eye to not only the unbiblical remarriage issue as mentioned above, but more troubling to me being the common hetero Christian practice of chemical or surgical sterility for convenience sake. So a Christian couple can (surgically) say no to children, and that isn’t violating God’s design for human sexuality, but two women in a committed relationship is a sin? How is this not at the core the same exact issue? Both are violations of God’s basic design of human sexuality and both can be argued wrong from Scripture (gen.1:28) so why is one more a sin than another?

    If believers are honest, there are quite a few issues we routinely cherry pick (E.g. NT Biblical passages about head coverings, men’s hair length, wearing jewelry, etc) but the gay issue is just exhausted beyond all others it seems. I personally think it’s less than ideal, but I tire of hearing it condemned by married pastor’s with 1-2 kids who seem to be exercizing a hypocritical example.

  • mattofcalifornia

    The article has some errors, for example:

    A. Roman Catholicism and evangelicalism (however that is defined) are not the most conservative expressions of Christianity. (Here I am assuming by conservative the author means most true to apostolic teaching and practice.)

    B. Roman Catholics do “blink” at re-marriage after a divorce. In fact, it is prohibited, and people who remarry after a civil divorce are automatically ex-communicated from the Roman Church. This is why, in part, J.R.R. Tolkein, a Roman Catholic objected so strenuously Lewis’ marriage to Davidman.

    C. The article uses the fallacy of “petitio principii” when it says “no one speaks of loving remarried people but hating the sin” and “most evangelical churches…” The author is asking us to concede very disputable facts in order to support the conclusion. If it is the case that “no one…” and “most evangelical…” is true, the author should give evidence of it.

    D. The author falsely opposes “love the sinner, hate the sin” with “open and affirming”. The correct poles are “hate the sinner and the sin” and “affirm the sinner and the sin”. The testimony of the Scripture is that the right way is the way of Jesus: Love the sinner, hate the sin. Therefore, he said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” He did not hate her. He did not affirm her sin. Because he loved her he pointed her to a better way.

    E. The author suggests that homosexual behavior is similar to the disputable things in Romans 14 & 15. The disputes in those chapters were, as the author of the article says, about diet and calendar. They were not about sexual behavior. To see the Apostolic teaching on homosexual we only have to look at the first page of the Letter to the Romans: Chapter 1, verses 18 through 32, which is kind of a description of a descent into greater and greater depravity. In that passage there is no ambiguity; no room for dispute: people who engage in homosexual behavior (vv. 26,27, and, possibly, 31.) are deserving of death. But that is not the lowest level of deparavity. The first step, according to verses 21-23 is having a wrong conception of God. And that leads to all kinds of wicked behavior, and along that road are many sins, homosexual behavior being just one of them, and not the worst one. The worst one, the one at the very end of the road is not doing, per se, the evil acts listed in the previous verses but is taking pleasure in the fact that other people are doing them.

    So, those are some of the errors I see in the article.

    • Guest

      Hello, Matt. I hope you are well this day. It’s almost Friday, thank the good Lord. I’m sure you’re as ready for the weekend as I.

      I found that I disagree with a couple of your statement.

      1. No where will you explicitly find the statement “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I think Tony Compalo has a slightly different aphorism that is closer to the Biblical example: “Love the sinner, hate your own sin.” Other than Pharisees, can you point me in a direction where we, as Christians, are to point out others’ sins per Christ’s example? I’m of he opinion that we hello people find a relationship with God, and then, if they earnestly seek after Him, He will convict them of their sins.

      2. I agree that Paul is showing a descent of behaviors, but I understand him to be directly linking these behaviors with idolatry, as he begins with people abandoning God for idols. His constant transitionary wordage, such as “therefore” seem to link all such behaviors to the primary cause of idolatry. Therefore, it seems Paul cannot divorce homosexuality from idolatry itself. Additionally, chapter one is, in my opinion, not so much as a theological treatise as it is a rhetorical device used to lure the reader into a state of condemning pagans, so he can issue the rhetorical slap in Romans 2:1: Therefore, you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. By the end of chapter 1, Paul has indicted all of us as sinners worthy of death. So it is very ironic to me that some use this passage to condemn, in a since, falling prey to Paul’s rhetoric while missing his point at the beginning of the next chapter. This is not just a random opinion of mine. Many scholars have noted this, as such rhetorical devices are common to other writers of the time.

    • R.A.

      Hello, Matt. I hope you are well this day. It’s almost Friday, thank the good Lord. I’m sure you’re as ready for the weekend as I.

      I found that I disagree with a couple of your statements.

      1. No where will you explicitly find the statement “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I think Tony Compalo has a slightly different aphorism that is closer to the Biblical example: “Love the sinner, hate your own sin.” Other than Pharisees, can you point me in a direction where we, as Christians, are to point out others’ sins per Christ’s example? I’m of he opinion that we should help people find a relationship with God, and then, if they earnestly seek after Him, He will convict them of their sins.

      2. I agree that Paul is showing a descent of behaviors, but I understand him to be directly linking these behaviors with idolatry, as he begins with people abandoning God for idols. His constant transitionary wordage, such as “therefore”, seem to link all such behaviors to the primary cause of idolatry. Therefore, it seems Paul links homosexuality to idolatry itself. Additionally, chapter one is, in my opinion, not so much as a theological treatise as it is a rhetorical device used to lure the reader into a state of condemning pagans, so he can issue the rhetorical slap in Romans 2:1: “Therefore, you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” By the end of chapter 1, Paul has indicted all of us as sinners worthy of death. So it is very ironic to me that some use this passage to condemn, while, in a sense, falling prey to Paul’s rhetoric while missing his point at the beginning of the next chapter. This is not just a random opinion of mine. Many scholars have noted this, as such rhetorical devices are common to other writers of the time.

      3) I think Mr. Wilson’s main point of contention is an issue of consistency. It doesn’t seem the collective church is as interested in divorce as it is with homosexuality.

      Having grown up in a very conservative church, I can attest that there is inconsistency. When some of our past preachers taught about divorce, they we’re let go because the topic hit a little too close to home for most members. But when impassioned sermons were delivered on homosexuality, nothing. No outcry. In fact, only an equally impassioned response came.

      Additionally, look at groups like The National Organization for Marriage. Is the greatest threat to marriage gay marriage? Do not statistics say that divorce is statistically a higher occurrence (over 50%) than gay marriage? Besides, if surveys are correct, homosexuals only make up somewhere between 5%-10% of the entire population. And if I were a leader in NOM, wouldn’t it be wiser for me to go after the issues that affect the majority of the population? Shouldn’t I be more concerned about the damage done to marriage by 95% of the population first before looking at a 5% section?

      This is an issue of consistency. Why do we not hear of equal amendments banning divorce? Or punitive measures for sex out of wedlock? Or an assault on the contraceptive industry? Logically, it seems these issues must be taking a back seat for more conservative groups in favor of an issue that affects only a small subset of the population.

      If I understood the article correctly, I think Mr. Wilson was trying to point out such inconsistency.

      Thanks for your comments, Matt. I appreciate the intellectual stimulation. I hope some of my rumblings made sense. Hopefully I didn’t make too many typos.

      • AtalantaBethulia

        Well-stated, R.A.

        Thank you for bringing up the vocative in Romans 2:1 as evidence of Paul’s rhetorical approach in Romans 1 and the focus on idolatry. You beat me to it.

        I have a minor quibble in that I do believe there is a concerted effort against contraceptives as evidenced by many public statements made by religious and political leaders and spokespeople, political action agendas within the Pro-life movement, and law suits opposing the HHS Contraceptive Mandate.

        • R.A.

          You’re right, my apologies. I had forgotten about the clamor surrounding that. It’s interesting, though, that some Protestants have jumped on board with the Catholic Church’s argument despite the fact that the RCC believes sexuality should only be for conception. Why do you think that is?

          • AtalantaBethulia

            While I know many Protestants who are loathe to be compared in any way to Catholics, (and the inverse may stand to reason to also, on some level, be true), and while the particular brand of Fundamentalism from which I hail was decidedly anti-ecumenical, when it comes to raising money and votes, there’s safety in numbers – no matter the ideological/theological differences. But I don’t know for certain. I suspect the Protestant momentum toward being anti-contraceptives in the way in which they are is not unlike that of the issue we are here discussing: moralism and the desire to influence society and culture. I think it hinges on another important characteristic pin of conservative faith: an absolutist binary worldview.

            Eg: If one holds that premarital sex is wrong, then (in their worldview) there is no moral ground on which to stand that would support “enabling” people to have premarital sex, to include the use of contraceptives and supporting sex education. And if voluntary childlessness is wrong, then (in their worldview) there is no moral ground on which to stand that would support “enabling” people to remain married and childless. And if personhood starts at conception, then (in their worldview) there can be no moral ground on which to stand that would “enable” a woman to commit what (in their minds) is tantamount to abortion (even though there is much to disagree with scientifically on this matter, since preventing implantation–by its very nature–means a woman is not yet pregnant.) This is the moral absolutism that resists (and despises) any breath of relativism, and is why, in my humble opinion, the nuance which many of us here, and Mr. Wilson, employ is likewise found too often to be too “compromising” of one’s faith.

            Cliffs Notes version: The culture wars made them do it.

          • R.A.

            A very fair statement. Moral absolutism is certainly in the tradition from which I hail, which is probably why it took me so long to see any logic outside its confines. And, perhaps, the enemy of my enemy mentality applies?

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Perhaps so. Wars are like that.

    • Lance Heath

      You (MattofCalifornia) err in your exposition on Romans 1. The homosexual behaviour being referred to is NOT a consequence of having a wrong conception of God (it is not in the list of evil acts which result from this and follow later). It is in fact specifically homosexual idol rites (part of the engagement in the cause – not the consequences). Romans 1 as with all Scriptures referring to same sex activities is specifically and narrowly referring to male cult prostitution. (The malakoi/qadeshim being the male prostitutes and the arsenokoitai being the “worshippers” who had sex with them). It’s actually quite simple. I don’t see what the problem is… besides for folk who insist on taking the Bible at face value (too lazy to study it carefully?) and who set out with the premise that all homosexual activity is sin. The Bible never states this. To state that it does is in fact to add things to Scripture that it does not say (Prov 30 5-6 etc.). This is indeed a disputable matter and should not be grounds for breaking fellowship or excluding homosexual couples from it. (Unless they are promiscuous, adulterous, abusive, etc EXACTLY as per heterosexual couples… lest one be a hypocrite with double standards). Gay marriage is consistent with the Love Law as there is no victim and no harm. It is therefore no sin. If you cannot see this then maybe that is because God does not need to speak to you about this because it is not applicable to you (i.e. you are straight). Learn your boundaries and do not judge others whom you do not understand. Agree to disagree if you cannot love that which you do not understand. I welcome this “Third Way” but I prefer Open and Affirming.

  • afiniti

    If you ask Jesus what you should do, His answer will always be “Repent. For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” From day #1 of his ministry, that was his message. When we throw out repentance because we want to justify sin in ourselves or others, we begin creating theologies that just don’t exist. I have to respectfully disagree with many of your premises and conclusions, in light of scripture and the testimony of Peter, Paul, John and Jesus himself.

    • Lance Heath

      hi affiniti, while you have every right to disagree with others’ premises … have you examined your own? Are you not assuming (a priori) that all homosexual activity is sinful? And is that not in fact the point being debated? Are you not begging the question?

      I believe that (as with heterosexual sex) homosexual activity which is part of idol worship (idolatrous) / exploitative / adulterous / abusive is wrong. But no Biblical command anywhere proscribes sex within gay marriages. (And given that Emperor Nero married two males, Sporus and Pythagorus it is not as if the early church was not aware of this eventuality … yet nowhere is it mentioned). When the Bible is silent about an issue it makes sense to humbly live and let live or agree to disagree if one really feels one needs to about someone else’s business… particularly where there is no harm or victim (i.e. where this does not break Jesus’ Great Commandment).

  • BarfORama

    You say Love the sinner hate the sin, but Psalm 5:5 says different.

    • R.A.

      I think 1 John makes it rather poignant about people who claim to be sin free: …9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

      Even if we repent (which means to change our mind), we will still make mistakes, friend.

  • RodneyHaines

    There is something uniquely different about gay sin. The CHRISTIAN drunkard, gambler, liar, adulterer or porn watcher; generally has SOME AMOUNT OF GUILT at some point in their continuance in that sin. (I would surmise C.S. Lewis lamented with some form of guilt over his situation…)

    The problem with the gay lifestyle? PRIDE! Gay Pride! Gay Proud! He’s gay and proud. She’s gay and proud! He is SO PROUD that God made him gay!!

    So you get a double whammy of sin: homosexuality in itself, and then the PRIDE in the act of committing that sin.

    And the disgustingly haughty remark that particularly grinds my gears: “Jesus probably was gay since he hung out with twelve guys, 24/7…”

    • Lance Heath

      Hi Rodney, as a Gay Christian I share your distaste for the Gay Pride events. I too don’t like the idea of “Pride” in any shape or form. To me being gay – as with being straight – is something one does not choose or earn … and therefore not something to take pride in. It seems a bit absurd to me as a gay man who is comfortable in his own skin.

      But I object to being tarred with the same brush in your generalizations above. If you insist that all homosexual activity is sinful then surely you should be able to explain how this meets the criteria made explicit in Jesus’ summation of all the law: love thy neighbour. HOW does sex within a gay marriage contravene the law to love? i.e. who is the victim? and how are they harmed?

      • RodneyHaines

        Well for one thing, you slap the face of God as Creator, who spoke a plan in motion to procreate the Earth.

        Remember, we are all BORN into sin. I also believe that some of us are born with a propensity to certain, specific sins. Examples; alcohol, gambling, stealing, and yes… even homosexuality.

        The Bible speaks of being unrepentant in their sin. I would strongly urge you to read your Bible on the consequences of unrepentance,

        • AtalantaBethulia

          Does the Bible say that killing someone is a sin?

          • R.A.

            I think so…Am I wrong, Atalanta? :-/

          • AtalantaBethulia

            I didn’t mean to cause a panic, R.A. My purpose in asking this of Rodney Haines was to assess to what degree of literalness he applies to the scriptures. For instance, if he believes there are justifications for war and self-defense that include the killing of another human being and these and other situations such as accidental death are exempt from “Thou shalt not kill” and these are not sins because he believes the commandment only applies to murder, per se, then he applies a degree of nuance to this area of scripture which he seems unwilling to apply to other areas of scripture. Again, I in no way have said what my beliefs are about what the Bible says about killing someone.

          • R.A.

            Just curious, and a good technique for metacognitive awareness of interpretation.

        • Lance Heath

          Hi Rodney – thanks for the concern. It seems this topic elicits very strong emotions and reactions in you. It also seems that you mean well with the advice you are giving. I take it from whence it comes and therefore appreciate it. It does not seem that you are able to step back and reconsider whether homosexuality is a sin or not. Your mind seems to be very made up on this issue. It does not seem like you are open to conversations about this topic so much as making statements. Maybe I should pray for the ears of your heart to be opened … even as you pray for my soul. I know my Redeemer well. I have walked closely with Him for well over 30 years. He has never let me down and never forsaken me. He has, as He promised, continued to work towards completing the good work that He started in me. He is both faithful and capable that way. I have for decades wrestled with the issue of how to reconcile my sexuality and my spirituality on a daily basis. He has never removed my homosexuality from me despite me pleading with Him for many years to do so. And in all this agonising and wrestling I had to grasp some very deep truths and grow as a result. Part of what I realized through this gruelling process is the reason why He did not remove what I mistakenly took be my “thorn in the flesh” from me… And that is because it is NOT sin. It does not harm anyone. It creates no victims. He actually has no problem with it .. which is why He never mentions or prohibits gay marriage anywhere in Scripture. (Careful study beyond the seemingly obvious/face value plain English shows that the reference to homosexuality in scripture are actually all references to male cult prostitution … which I would hope we can agree is certainly NOT the same thing as gay marriage .. .just as heterosexual lust is not the same as heterosexual love). I certainly do not want to create the impression that I think I am perfect. Not at all. I have many sins and faults – many, many, many … but being attracted to my partner is not one of them. If it were my fellowship with my Father would have suffered terribly. It hasn’t. In fact the opposite is true. I have grown closer to God and more loving to my neighbours as a result of the faithful. monogamous and committed relationship I am in. I still have a long way to grow I am sure… but every day I thank God for this wonderful relationship He has given me and for the great ways He stretches and grows me through it to love – with sacrificial love – more and more. Bless you as you too journey towards becoming more like Him.

        • Nor

          Odd how the priests manage to get away with it.

    • Nor

      It is pride to fight what so many have told them to be: shamed. That’s all it’s about. Most of those people have been attacked in the past. It’s like girls in rural Pakistan fighting for education and not to be sold into marriage – they would also say “we are proud to be girls”. Same idea.

  • Paul Davies

    Abomination to The Lord is NOT the same as “sin” – it is a rebellious condition that The Lord WILL NOT associate with. The pre-condition for coming to God is repentance – nothing else is acceptable. We have many Gay people come into the Healing Meetings – we don’t even pray for them unless they’re willing to change their lifestyle – why deliver them now if they’ll go straight back to it and get 7 times worse.
    Your problem is that for all your Vineyard background you cannot hear The Lord and get His answer. We see gay people delivered of the Spirit they’re under and set free. We do not muddle the message. We never pander to their preferences and sins. We tell them straight that we cannot hp them unless they want God on HIS terms. Then they get delivered….

    • Lance Heath

      I respect your right to believe what you believe. It seems quite clear that you do not respect my right to believe what I believe. As two people who love the Lord and rely on His saving and sanctifying grace I guess this means “we” have a problem.

      • Paul Davies

        What does Light have to do with darkness? Jesus’ loved all, but NEVER compromised His message: “Go and sin no more”. He never shied away from calling sin sin. There was never any compromise with those who would water down the truth, in fact: “The truth will set you free.”
        There is NO accommodation for sexual immorality in ANY form in the Bible. Homosexuality is repeatedly called unnatural and an abomination. You can believe whatever you wish, but don’t call it Bible-based Christianity when there is NO way it measures up to the Whole of Scripture. God’s love is always in context of repentance (turning away) from sin. I don’t ever respect those who would see people end up in Hell because they are telling lies for God in order to swell the numbers in their powerless churches. Neither did Jesus!

        • Lance Heath

          You are calling that (me) which God has called clean (light) unclean (darkness). You are judging me without knowing me. Those are two indisputable facts. You are questioning my relationship with Jesus, my salvation and His good work in me.

          You are presuming much in acting as my judge – you are attempting to usurp a position that is God’s alone to fill.

          You are also relying only on your own understanding of Scripture and not humbly admitting that you may yet have much to learn in this area.

          And finally you are assuming that you are correct that Scripture condemns ALL homosexual activity. I believe that it only condemns homosexual activity in the context of cult prostitution (the malakoi/qadeshim and arsenokoitai who “used” them). There are very thorough and sound exegetical reasons for believing as I do (but I remain open to listening to other/opposing ideas on this matter). Most obvious is that cult sexual activity was idolatrous + adulterous + exploitative + dishonest + abusive. It is therefore quite clear how people were harmed and who these victims were. BUT in the case of gay marriages there is no victim, no harm, the Great Commandment is not broken and the Bible says NOTHING about it. You are therefore also adding to the the Bible.

          Are you really comfortable with doing all of the above?

          • Paul Davies

            I know what the Holy Spirit says. I know what the Bible says. You are free to believe whatever rubbish you wish – it does not set people free. Lust is universally condemned in the Bible.
            I am totally confident of all that. I am also commanded to judge according to the Word of God. Jesus and Paul were quite clear – if you judged yourselves you wouldn’t need to be judged. Trying to write off the clear Biblical condemnation as a cult thing is rubbish – exactly the kind of twittering around with the Bible Jesus caned the Pharisees over. Luke 11:52 says: “You yourselves haven’t entered, and you’ve hindered those who were entering.” This is what you have confessed to above. You cannot hear the Spirit (the qualification of Jesus’ sheep). You clearly do not know the truth! You have compromised Biblical truth for the sake of stroking the self-pity and delusion of sinners, rather than challenging them to repent.
            I do not need humility on this issue (and thanks for YOUR judgment) – the Bible is clear. God has spoken black and white on this. I have no doubt that all “sexually immoral” people who do not repent will end up in Hell. Jesus warned people like you of all sorts of consequences for teaching incorrectly and leading little ones astray.
            There is NO scientific evidence that homosexuality is anything other than behavioural. After 30 years of research, there is NOTHING – spurious clams notwithstanding. Yet there is clear, observable evidence that there is Help and Healing of such sins through the power of the Blood of Jesus Christ. We have had 4 lesbians in recent months totally set free, and their lives have changed as a result. All your “belief” does nothing to actually help people – there certainly is no power backing it up. When the power of God backs up your theology, its a bit of a clue.
            To claim “no harm” as you do, you flout every Biblical principle concerning sexual activity outside of the God-given marriage covenant, which the bible clearly defines as man-woman. There is NO verse that challenges this, and only dubious exegesis, already looking to excuse this sin, can come up with such.
            There is NO coming to God without repentance. Your “belief” is denying these people the most basic element of coming to God, by telling them there is nothing wrong. You rob from them the fear of God, which you obviously don’t know since you fly so free with His revealed truth. “Those who love me keep my commands.”

          • Lance Heath

            Interesting. You mention the Pharisees. Severely criticized by Jesus for being legalistic. And that is what your approach to Scripture is. You see the letter of the law (somewhat inaccurately in my humble opinion) and lose sight of its spirit – Sacrificial Love. They also judged others as inferior. And that is exactly what you are doing (in assuming your beliefs are superior … simply because they are yours).

            There is plenty of scientific evidence that genetics play a huge role in determining sexual orientation ranging from basic identical twin studies to physiological and anatomical differences in brains and digit length etc. And the fact that you raise this point reveals what your beliefs rest on.

            But you are begging the question. Of course I agree that there is no coming to God without repentance! How do you think I came to Him? I had to repent from many sins and a basic sinful nature. Homosexuality is not a sin and therefore does not need to be repented of. It harms no one. There are no victims. It does not separate me from my God. You are not in a position to judge that. You do choose to do so on the basis of your understandings and beliefs – not on knowing me. Of course ‘lust’ is sinful – it uses people as objects which is damaging. But for you to equate ‘lust’ with the love that homosexuals in faithful, loving, committed marriages have is an error on your part.

            If homosexuality is not a sin – as is the whole point of this debate – then it will not separate anyone from God. And Gay Christians are living proof of this.

            God does not need fear for people to be drawn to him – perfect love drives out fear. Intimidation and fear-mongering is a tactic used by Satan – not God. If your beliefs are fear-based maybe you would benefit from revisiting them and realizing that it is for freedom (from law = doing it in our strength = sin!) that Christ has set us free. Your teaching may very well be the type that is turning little ones away from the Redeemer … especially those who are gay. And you will have to answer for this on Judgement Day.

            I am not at all impressed with your claims of exorcisms and deliverance – I too have cast demons out of people in Jesus’ name (just never demons of homosexuality – because these do not exist!) But at the end of the day – as 1 Cor 13 clearly states – none of that supernatural, spectacular stuff means anything – only love does. And your love (and respect) for your gay neighbours and brothers is sorely lacking. As such it is you who needs to repent. And God will lead you there.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Which commandment forbids homosexuality?

            Does homosexuality break one of the Ten?
            Does it break the Greatest?

          • Paul Davies

            Rom 1:26ff

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Not to be pedantic, but last time I checked… that’s not a commandment.

          • Paul Davies

            Doesn’t need to be a Commandment. 1 Tim 3:16 says “ALL scripture…” The Jews certainly understood it, as did every scholar through the ages until the ’80s. There are incredibly strict warnings for those who dare to change the Word of God by reinterpreting against the consistent message.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            I hear you and I understand where you are coming from.

            Thoughtful Christians can and do disagree about whether Paul thought/knew/considered his letter to the Romans to be scripture at the time he was writing it and what he meant and to whom those words were directed as well as their cultural and historical significance and purpose. This goes to our understanding of the role of scripture and what authority we give it, how we interpret it an apply it. Our wide diversity of denominations within the faith stand as a testament to those differences and understandings.

            With learning comes understanding. Understanding scripture has not been a static endeavor over these many years and the faith has not developed without disagreement and thoughtful discussion. May we continue to grow in grace and knowledge and wisdom through respectful and peaceful dialogue with our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith who see differently.

            Blessings on your journey.

          • R.A.

            For Paul, scripture would have been the Hebrew Scriptures, as the New Testament was yet to be compiled. It is possible an early Gospel was floating around, but we don’t know. Also, Paul’s scriptures would have included books not found in the Jewish Canon, like the Wisdom of Solomon, which he actually references at times. Anywho, that statement to Timothy onły guarantees the inspiration of the Hebrew Scriptures, not the New Testament.

          • R.A.

            Christ said that you should cut your hand off if it causes you to sin. Do you have both hands? Then why do you deny the plain reading of the text?

            Where did Jesus tell us to judge others? Where did he tell us to point out others’ sins? With whom does Christ speak of Hell? Does he not warn the religious who judge that they are the ones in danger of hellfire?

            There is no scientific evidence that heterosexuality is biological. When did you choose to be straight?

            There actually is no proof that sexuality can be changed. In fact, the leader of the largest ex-gay ministry in the world recently admitted that he had met no one who’d actually been able to change their sexuality. Do you think you could change your sexuality since it must be a choice because no evidence exists to prove heterosexuality is biological?

            Also, the assumption of the one-man, one-woman paradigm of marriage is not easily proved through scripture. Most patriarchs had multiple wives. Most Hebrew kings did, as well, not to mention concubines. There are no condemnations of polygamy in the Bible.

            And you really like using ad hominem attacks, which prove nothing.

            Also, your tone largely works against that which you espouse. Might I suggest a little more humble verbiage?

          • Paul Davies

            Maybe the leader of the “largest” (who says? Him?) ex-gay ministry should come down to Adelaide, Australia and learn how to actually set people free. we’re not running a Christian AA for gays, as many of these “ministries” do – we set them free by the power of the blood of Jesus. It is simply a Spirit (demon), that any believer has authority over. The reason this is an issue is NOT belief, but that people are using their personal opinions to reinterpret the Bible, and deny people who are oppressed by the devil the opportunity of healing in the name of Jesus (acts 10:38). Under the Mosaic Law, homosexual practice was punishable by death. There is NO question that God was against it.

            There is naturally no evidence that Heterosexuality is biological. there is however, clear Biblical evidence that it was the original perfect plan of God in creation – “male and female He created them”. To try and claim differently is to deny the clear expression of the weight of scripture, and the clear interpretation and understanding of the Old Testament Jews, which carried through into the New Testament. It is a stupid as trying to claim the Narnia books are NOT allegories of the Christian message. There is no scientific evidence that ANY behavioural trait is biological or genetic – though they are still trying to find a “gay” gene. That is why it is clearly a modifiable, behavioural issue that is a sin like any other.

          • R.A.

            Hey, Paul, thanks for replying. I am now typing this for third time. I hope it goes through this iteration. Please, Lord, let it go through. I hope you’re doing well today.

            I say largest ex-gay ministry because of sheer numbers of participants and partnered organizations under its umbrella. The organization is Exodus International. Alan Chambers is the leader. He himself was the poster boy for a long time because of his marriage to a woman. Later, he came out to say that he was still attracted to men and that he knew no one who’d actually changed his/her sexuality through the program.

            I admit, I’m not a member of the Charismatic Movement, so I don’t necessarily believe that demons or spirits are the cause of homosexuality. If I may, what scriptures do you use on which to base this belief?

            I again reiterate the issue of interpretation. While the Bible may be infallible, we, as human beings, are not. We have to rely on interpretation as we seek to discover God’s will, right? For instance, what do you do with the passage where Christ says to cut off your hand or pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin? Or the passage where Jesus says a component of inheriting eternal life is selling all of your possessions, per the narrative of the rich young man? Why is it that these verses have room for interpretation or contextual application while other verses are not up to debate? Scriptures are tough to interpret when there’s so much context that we miss by living 2,000 years and an ocean away from the context of when some parts of the Bible were written. For instance, did you know that “feet” in the biblical culture of the Hebrew Scriptures was a euphemism for genitals? This is an example of why scripture is not best read while only looking at the surface. We will often misinterpret if we do that.

            Yes, homosexuality was a stoneable offense. And you’d be exiled if you slept with your wife during her period. And stones would be hurled at you if you disobeyed your parents. Thank God we don’t appeal to that one, or most of us would be dead. Might I ask why you believe the prescriptions in Hebrew Scriptures apply to us who are of the covenant of Faith? We also need to make sure we are consistent with our interpretations, correct? So why don’t we abide by the law forbidding shrimp? If we abide by any part of the law, Paul says there is no hope for us because by breaking one part of it we have broken all. This is a battle poor Paul repeatedly had with his brethren who were also Jewish converts. He wanted them to see they were under a new master, now.

            I thoroughly discussed the problem of assigning intent to God based on the creation narrative. I think it’s guesswork. We see what God creates, but that doesn’t tell us his ultimate intent. By saying that the creational account is prescriptive, we open ourselves up to a lot of inconsistency. Why is it we only abide by the part of God’s perfect plan for sexuality, but then use the rest of creation outside its apparent creational intent? Aren’t we breaking the intent for the tree by cutting it down to use for books, houses, etc.? And if you ask, “But what if God intended the tree to be used for such?”, then we can also ask with consistency, “But what if God intended for some people to be gay?” The only answer to both of these questions is: we don’t know. My recommendation is to avoid attempts to ferret out God’s intent in the creation accounts (Yes, there are two. One in Genesis 1 and the other in 2 starting around verse 4. And they are different in creational order.). Besides, I don’t feel comfortable saying what God intended because I am not God.

            To say something is “clear” is to beg the question. A statement does not prove itself without facts to back it up. You claim that Jewish understanding clearly carries over to the Testament of Faith, yet where do we see this? In Romans and elsewhere, as before stated, Paul tries to get his readers to understand that Christians are not under the Mosiac Law any longer.

            To conclude, you say a lack of biological proof of homosexuality means that it must be behavioral. This is a sort of argument from silence. For instance, many atheists use a similar argument to disprove God. Because we have no proof doesn’t necessitate that a default position is true. It just means we don’t know. We can’t say one way or the other with any certainty.

            Paul, I used to be on the same side of the issue as you. I ardently and fervently (often rudely) argued for the traditional interpretation. But as I studied to bolster my argument, I found that many of the progressive arguments were more logically convincing. So, begrudgingly, I began to read more about the progressive side and found it to be more likely true. Granted, some progressive arguments are weaker than others, but the same is true for the traditional interpretation, too. Regardless, I still believe we are brothers in Christ, despite our difference of opinion. I hope you feel the same.

            Have a terrific weekend. Do you get the weekends off, Paul? What do you do for work? I’m a teacher. (And don’t worry. I never share my opinions with students. It’s a parent’s job to educate their kids into the morals they find to be true.)

          • Nor

            Good point. Straightness is also clearly a modifiable, behavioural issue – for those who are secretly bisexual. If you believe everyone is inherently bisexual, please say so outright, I think you’ve got a strong case. Kinsey would back you. I also like how the only way you could “know” this is if you yourself struggled with same sex attraction and chose women instead. It’s very forthright of you to admit this to a conservative religious audience.

            There is plenty of evidence that being gay is tied to both birth order and genetics (the Minnesota twin study (identical twins separated at birth) and Denmark’s excellent national demographic studies for datasets largely)). They are still trying to find the gay gene? They are still trying to find the gene or genes for virtually everything. I don’t even know that they’ve found the genes for hair color yet. It took them 50 years to nail down the ones for eye color. I’m pretty sure medical science has some other priorities, like finding the genes for actual bad things like cancer. And finding it won’t matter to you anyway, as 1) It’s almost certainly a suite of genes and 2) Like almost every other gene discovered so far, it probably denotes susceptibility, not actuality, in the same way that “straight” genes would (straight in quotation marks because as you say, it probably isn’t a sexual identity that exists for 99% of the population). That has to be determined via penile plethysmograph for men, and is virtually impossible to test for in women as women are sexually responsive to things as innocuous as weather, other than by asking them, and of course women’s sexuality has been proven to be quite fluid and commonly shifts over time. It’s the men that tend to get stuck with one orientation or the other, with little room in between, though I personally think this is culturally ingrained to such an extent that it’s inaccurate to believe that men aren’t mostly bisexual. Like you.

  • Paul Davies

    The other lie is that there are people who “are” GLBT. God made them “male and female”, nothing else. The church is so compromised that we now allow people to redefine Bible truth based on their sinful experience. What about setting captives free? Something we’re supposed to be able to do according to the Gospels. We see people delivered from the demon of Homosexuality, and set free to be what God created them to be – Normal male and female. Trying to claim that Satan’s perversion is “just the way God made them” is a doctrine of demons and perversion of Bible truth. We are NEVER called to embrace people in sin, but to set them free.

    • Lance Heath

      So … millions of people all around the world are wrong about themselves … and you are right about them. Wow.
      And so much of your doctrine and beliefs are extra-biblical … yet you seem to hold them as firmly as you hold Scripture itself. (I presume you believe that because the Bible never mentions Down’s Syndrome all those diagnosed with this are also not actually Down’s Syndrome?)
      Maybe you should actually ask a few Gay Christians if they are captives? Surely a captive would know they are a captive? As a Gay Christian I know true freedom in His Grace.
      Do me a favour and tell me what “church” you belong to so I can do us both a favour and not visit. (Westboro?)

      • Paul Davies

        All the poof in the world won’t change the truth of the Word of God. You need to read Rom 1:26ff

        • R.A.

          Hi, Paul, my guess is that Lance probably has read that verse and been repeatedly told to do so. Suppose I told you to read Matt 5:30, would you take that at face value and cut your hand off? Or would you say context applies? If so, then perhaps Lance sees context in the Romans passage that causes him to interpret it differently.

        • Lance Heath

          Hi Paul … “All the POOF in the world” !!!???!!! thanks for the chuckle!!! :))

          And yep I have read Rom 1 very, Very, VERY carefully! It’s definitely dealing with male cult prostitution in idolatrous temples (probably Cybele, or Greek Artemis in mind, being worshipped with orgiastic sex rites … one can understand why these cults were so popular, as one of my Biblical Studies lecturers pointed out to us a few decades ago.)

          Yours in Christ,
          Poof ;)

    • RodneyHaines

      Paul;

      Please note how the gay man or woman will twist this around and claim this is YOUR stance… that YOU state these words.

      A little advice; I ALWAYS back up my statements as coming, not from me, but from the Word of God. And don’t be afraid to be specific, using specific scripture verses.

      I especially enjoyed the very simple post of Psalms 5:5 below. That short and sweet verse says a lot…

      • AtalantaBethulia

        It is your stance. There is no humility in claiming that one’s interpretation and understanding and knowledge of scripture is what is infallible.

      • R.A.

        Biblical-proof texting actually is not the best method of exegetical approach. The Psalms verse actually says nothing about the topics at hand. Instead, it is assumed that the topics at hand are somehow included in said verse. Besides, one Psalms also mentions bashing babies heads against rocks. I wouldn’t run to them for absolute morality…

  • Ian Paul

    This is so disappointing. You start off by citing the Markan comment about divorce—but ignore the Matthean. And this is precisely why the gay issue is NOT ‘adiophora’, a point of indifference. On remarriage, Scripture gives a mixed picture—at points allowing it, and at other point not allowing it. There is no such mixed picture on same-sex activity–and in the letter of Paul which ends with matters of indifference, it starts with same-sex activity in a completely difference category.

    This is why the issue is crucial—it points up how poorly many in the church now grasp even the basics of how to read Scripture.

    • RodneyHaines

      AMEN!!

      • Ian Paul

        Thanks. I am frankly baffled as to why anyone thinks this kind of poor argument is either persuasive, or adds anything to the debate.

        • AtalantaBethulia

          You don’t see, at all, his point that among those churches who (if they are honest with themselves) will admit an interpretation of scripture that shows there are circumstances of remarried divorced people “living in the perpetual, unrepentant sin of adultery”, about which the church says nothing, yet there is a double standard for a married gay couple living under the same circumstances (in their minds) of a perpetual state of unrepentant sin, about which the church says quite a lot?

          • Ian Paul

            First, you can only believe that all remarried divorced people are “living in the perpetual, unrepentant sin of adultery” if you badly misread the biblical texts.

            Second, in the UK much is said about this in church and culture.

            Third, here in the UK it is not the church making a big deal of this—it is the gay lobby who campaign on it incessantly.

            That’s not to say there is no hypocrisy in the churches–but this is not really the way to address it.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Re: “First, you can only believe that all remarried divorced people are “living in the perpetual, unrepentant sin of adultery” if you badly misread the biblical texts.”

            First, I did not refer to “all” remarried divorced people (nor did I present my personal view). Nor do I believe Mr. Wilson is referring to “all remarried divorced people.” Rather, we are both referring to a very particular subset of Christians and churches who do hold a literal and narrow view of scripture on both homosexuality and divorce, yet who choose to selectively and inconsistently turn a blind eye to one while holding to the fire the feet of the other.

            Also, it is the point of LGBT advocates and many biblical scholars that you can only believe that married, committed homosexual couples are “living in perpetual, unrepentant sin” if you badly misread the biblical texts.

            Second, Mr. Wilson is referencing a North American/U.S. and a particular Protestant evangelical cultural/theological phenomenon which may or may not exist elsewhere in the world and in other corners of Christianity.

            Third, what is the way to address hypocrisy in the churches? For now that the excuse of “I’ve never thought of it that way before” has been removed by bringing it into the disinfecting light of truth and to the attention of those to whom Mr. Wilson is referring, how will those Christians and those churches bring into consistency their policies and practices? Mr. Wilson has offered his solution. What would be yours?

          • Ian Paul

            But if churches are putting up with people who sin, why is the answer to allow other people to sin? Surely you need to deal with the first problem in its own terms? In the church in which I am a minister, there are specific exclusions to the permitted remarriage of divorcees.

            Well, in the end this issue does come down to a convincing reading of the Scriptures. Having looked for many years, I have yet to find a convincing argument that overturns the consistent, creation-rooted, NT affirmed prohibition of same-sex activity. It is unqualified, non-context-dependent, and consistent.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Is it unqualified? Because there are spirit-led biblical scholars who see evidence that the text is talking about rape, sexual slavery, pederastery, prostitution, sexual promiscuity, and orgiastic idol worship (all of which have a victim, cause harm, violate the law of love and/or one of the ten commandments) … yet is not referring to two emancipated adults in a mutually monogamous committed relationship (which does not have a victim, cause harm, violate the law of love, nor any of the ten commandments.)

            We give this same careful and nuanced reading of the text for other issues (murder vs. killing and bearing false witness vs. lying). Why not the same for our LGBT brothers and sisters?

          • Ian Paul

            I am doing the same. Yes, the comments are strikingly unqualified, and they contrast with similar ANE texts which *do* offer qualifications.

            Scholars might claim to be ‘spirit-led’ but unfortunately they are not attending to the texts very well. There is a complete absence of reference to abuses of power, differences in age, promiscuity or cultic idol worship. They simply are not there. Scholars who say they are are ‘inferring’ them—i.e. they are supposing that these things ‘must’ be present. But they are not.

            Here’s the comment of Brevard Childs, a leading scholar of his generation:
            The recent attempt of some theologians to find a biblical opening, if not warrant, for the practice of homosexuality stands in striking disharmony with the Old Testament’s understanding of the relation of male and female. The theological issue goes far beyond the citing of occasional texts which condemn the practice…The OT views homosexuality as a distortion of creation which falls into the shadows outside blessing.

            And of course it is this idea precisely which Paul picks up in Romans 1.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Surely you are aware of the vocative in Romans 2:1 and the scholars who have made the case for Romans 1 being a rhetorical device to convict his audience.

          • Ian Paul

            Of course I am. And what is Paul’s point? To demonstrate that ‘all have sinned’ (3.23). So he uses Jewish critique of pagan culture to show gentiles have sinned, and the jewish Scriptures to show they have sinned too. All have sinned. He is not simply criticising hypocrisy, but sin. And same-sex relations are part of that.

          • R.A.

            Hello, Ian. I hope you’re doing well this Friday evening. I hope you don’t mind if I throw in my two cents worth of sense. That’s all it is. It comes cheap. Hah. This is rather long, so I understand if you don’t want to read it. But I enjoyed the intellectual exercise.

            Okay, so instead of addressing each of your posts individually, I’ll try to address them all at once to make reading my responses a bit easier.

            1) “There is no such mixed picture on same-sex activity–and in the letter of Paul which ends with matters of indifference, it starts with same-sex activity in a completely difference category.
            This is why the issue is crucial—it points up how poorly many in the church now grasp even the basics of how to read Scripture.”

            The underlying assumption here is that your interpretation is correct. Your argument treats the issue as if it resolves itself, which is a form of begging the question or circular reasoning. Saying the issue is clear and settled doesn’t make it so. And the ad hominem attack on some for their lack of reading or interpretational ability speaks nothing to the argument itself. I may be a moron, but if I say 2+2=4, my argument can still be correct.

            2) “Thanks. I am frankly baffled as to why anyone thinks this kind of poor argument is either persuasive, or adds anything to the debate.”

            If I understand correctly, the main thrust of Mr. Wilson’s argument looks at consistency, and the lack of such actually does show a logical flaw. If the church believes both unscriptural divorce and homosexuality are sinful, it must be consistent in its reaction, especially if it believes all sin warrants such. A lack of consistency demonstrates that there are other factors playing into some church members’ choice to focus more on the issue of homosexuality over, say, divorce/remarriage or adultery. Where are the equal calls for a constitutional amendment on unscriptural divorce or adultery?

            I believe this is what AtalantaBethulia was trying to point out.

            3) “Third, here in the UK it is not the church making a big deal of this—it is the gay lobby who campaign on it incessantly.”

            If the church doesn’t make a big deal of it, why oppose the “incessant gay lobby”?

            4) “But if churches are putting up with people who sin, why is the answer to allow other people to sin?”

            Underneath this question lies the inconsistency from point 1. Why not equal opposition to other sins instead of the disproportionate opposition to a single one?

            4) “Well, in the end this issue does come down to a convincing reading of the Scriptures. Having looked for many years, I have yet to find a convincing argument that overturns the consistent, creation-rooted, NT affirmed prohibition of same-sex activity. It is unqualified, non-context-dependent, and consistent.”

            Not seeing an argument to convince you doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. Have a little faith that one’s out there. Hah.

            5) “I ought also add that all this is fairly straightforward stuff, and you really have to want to avoid the plain meaning of the texts to miss this.”

            The “plain reading of the text” argument troubles me since it ignores the interplay of interpretation and scripture. It also suggests that all scripture is easily interpreted at apparent face value. And yet we ignore some of the following verses as not being clear at face value: when Christ says to cut your hand off if it causes you to sin, when Christ tells the rich young man that a component of eternal life is selling all one’s possessions, when Paul says women are not to wear costly jewelry or apparel in church, when Paul says that women are saved through childbirth.

            If at any point one says I’ve misinterpreted a verse above, then we’ve run back into the issue of the interpretational tool of consistency. Either all verses are open interpretation, or they’re not. If we say some are and others aren’t, then we must give evidence why we choose to interpret some scriptures literally and some figuratively or bound by context.

            6) “The Leviticus texts do not use the word qadeshim, so do not relate to cultic prostitution. In fact, cultic homosexual activity was by and large the only kind tolerated in Mesopotamian culture—and in contrast with other ANE texts, Lev does not even tolerate this. In other words, it forbids even that form of same sex activity which was acceptable in surrounding cultures.”

            Agreed. The levitical verses do not use qadeshim; however, the word is used elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures to refer to cultic prostitution.

            That said, if the only homosexual activity allowed was cultic in nature, then is not the levitical ban most likely in reference to such? Furthermore, the Lev. 18 prohibition is couched between offering children as sacrifices to Molek and laying with animals. Does this not suggest that the practice was most likely linked in worship of Molek or a Canaanite god or goddess? Bestiality was also linked to cultic worship.

            Regardless, Paul repeatedly tells us we are not bound to The Law found in the Hebrew Scriptures. We are under the Law of Faith and bound by what he calls the fulfillment of the law, loving thy neighbor as thyself. Therefore, if we deem something sinful, we must prove that it violates the law of love.

            7) “The almost universal consensus amongst scholars (on both sides) is that malakos and arsenokoites have nothing to do with cultic activity. Malakos means ‘soft ones’ and suggests feminization. The word is found elsewhere. Arsenokoites is unknown outside Paul, and is almost certainly coined by him as a reference to Lev 18.22 LXX. It *could* refer to active partners and malakoi the passive partners, but it seems clear Paul had the very general Lev prohibition in mind.”

            Malakos does actually have roots in some form of prostitution, be it cultic or otherwise. Strong notes that it was used as slang for Catamites, or young male prostitutes. The Catholic scriptures, I believe, also verify this in a footnote.

            I think it better stated that some theorize that arsenkoites is coined from Leviticus. Logically, it is possible, but far from definitive. But while on lines of theory, some posit that there is actually another term linked to those debated pair: men stealers. Some argue that this term fits with the two in question to accuse all those involve in sex slavery: the kidnappers of boys, the boys prostitutes themselves, and the men who use them.

            Also, we can only hypothesize what Paul had in mind with the term since he did not make it clear for us.

            8) “Jesus refers to the porneiai which come from the heart which defile, and in the first century that would refer to the full list of sexual prohitions from Leviticus. The four main groups of issue in Lev were also deployed as prohibitions in Acts 15 on Gentiles. So all NT writers see the continuing relevance and application of the Levitical prohibitions.”

            I disagree with the assumption that homosexual intimacy must have been included in the generic term for sexual sins. I believe it conjecture at best as to what falls in to that category. Sins of a sexual nature, certainly, but I don’t believe the term necessitates same-sex intimacy.

            9) “Scholars might claim to be ‘spirit-led’ but unfortunately they are not attending to the texts very well. There is a complete absence of reference to abuses of power, differences in age, promiscuity or cultic idol worship. They simply are not there. Scholars who say they are are ‘inferring’ them—i.e. they are supposing that these things ‘must’ be present. But they are not.”

            Does not one infer that Paul’s arsenkoitai comes from Leviticus? And does one not infer that homosexual activity must be present in porneiai? If we say their arguments from inference are invalid, then, consistently, so must the two above arguments be made invalid through conjecture.

            Biblical culture does not actually lack abuse of power, age difference, promiscuity, and cultic worship. In fact, idol worship directly precedes the male same-sex act that is often cited in Romans. And Paul’s transitionary language suggests that the sexuality seen in Romans is actually a result of that worship.

            Also, accusing progressive scholars of not attending to the text is ad hominem and does not discredit their theory.

            10) “Here’s the comment of Brevard Childs, a leading scholar of his generation:
            The recent attempt of some theologians to find a biblical opening, if not warrant, for the practice of homosexuality stands in striking disharmony with the Old Testament’s understanding of the relation of male and female. The theological issue goes far beyond the citing of occasional texts which condemn the practice…The OT views homosexuality as a distortion of creation which falls into the shadows outside blessing.”

            Here are my problems with the assumptions of Natural Law, which it seems Child’s ascribes to:

            A–Most people cite the creation of productive sexuality as proof of God’s intent. The only intent we can ascribe to God is that Adam and Eve were intended to procreate. Anything beyond that is conjecture. We cannot see intent beyond the action. For instance, why did God create us to begin with? Well, we don’t know. All we can do is surmise. Why did God give us appendixes? People read into the creation of man and woman a natural law or intent, but such is mere guess work, as scripture does not lay out God’s intent for us to see.

            B–Laws must be universal in scope and without exception unless stated otherwise. However, Natural Law is only appealed to in regards to sexuality. This is inconsistent. If we must interact with all things in accordance with creational intent, then we must use the tree in its intended capacity. And yet we use the tree to build houses, start fires, print books, etc. One might interject, “But what if God intended the tree to be used that way?” Then we run back into problem 1, which is guessing at God’s intent. Therefore, if the law is not universal in scope for all creation, it is not a law by definition and cannot be applied as such.

            11) “And of course it is this idea precisely which Paul picks up in Romans 1″

            This is what some people infer from the passage, but doing that which is outside of “nature”, as Paul uses the word, cannot be universally condemnable since God himself also acts outside of nature when grafting us Gentiles into the tree of faith. Also, Paul says long hair is “unnatural” for men. Therefore, we cannot say that Paul’s intent is to “clearly” point back to the creational account with “natural” terminology since those who condemn homosexuality do not equally condemn long hair for being unnatural per God’s intent.

            I enjoyed the discussion, sir. I hope all is well. Have a terrific weekend.

          • R.A.

            I doubled up on four. Whoops. I guess it must be my favorite number.

          • R.A.

            ” i think the honest thing to do here is to follow the like of Luke Timothy Johnson:

            The task demands intellectual honesty. I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says. But what are we to do with what the text says?…I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.”

            Hello, Ian. Thanks for the reply. I’m not sure others will see it because of the link, but I posted your quote above and read your link to the paper.

            Large and part, this paper cites Robert Gagnon as the primary source, which isn’t too surprising considering most conservative adherents cite him as the philosophically residential expert.

            I could go through and rebut each point in the paper, but it seems this is not a discussion you want to have, as noted by the quote at the end of your post.

            Therefore, I’ll respond thusly: The quote demonstrates the typical priori assumptions made in regards to the most common conservative response concerning the discussion of same-sex intimacy. Instead of engaging the intellectual debate and admitting the fallibility of any human interpretation, it makes the assumption that more progressive interpreters disregard scripture’s witness or intentionally seek to interpret it contrary to face-value truth, and it sees the traditional interpretation as infallible as God himself. It also makes the assumption that more progressive theologians somehow despise God or scripture. Such comments offer no substance on which to build a solid argument, but, instead, only demonstrate a shallow ad hominem to people with a different interpretational stance.

            To sum up: I admit my ability to be wrong in my interpretation, something which some staunch traditional defenders refuse to do.

          • R.A.

            Hello, Ian. Thanks for the reply. I’m not sure others will see it because of the link, but I read the paper.

            Large and part, this paper cites Robert Gagnon as the primary source, which isn’t too surprising considering most conservative adherents cite him as the philosophically residential expert.

            I could go through and rebut each point in the paper, but it seems this is not a discussion you want to have, as noted by the quote at the end of your post.

            Therefore, I’ll respond thusly: The quote demonstrates the typical priori assumptions made in regards to the most common conservative response concerning the discussion of same-sex intimacy. Instead of engaging the intellectual debate and admitting the fallibility of any human interpretation, it makes the assumption that more progressive interpreters disregard scripture’s witness or intentionally seek to interpret it contrary to face-value truth, and it sees the traditional interpretation as infallible as God himself. It also makes the assumption that more progressive theologians somehow despise God or scripture. Such comments offer no substance on which to build a solid argument, but, instead, only demonstrate a shallow ad hominem to people with a different interpretational stance.

            To sum up: I admit my ability to be wrong in my interpretation, something which some staunch traditional defenders refuse to do.

          • Lance Heath

            Hi Ian, I managed to read a response of yours (but cannot find it now presumably because it contained a link and this forum seems to not allow links in posts). If your response was in response to mine where I cited 12 reasons why I believe that Lev 18 and 20 refer exclusively and specifically to male cult prostitution then I must say that I am quite saddened that you appear not to have read my abovementioned post at all before replying. It feels a little callous and dismissive. I am not quite sure why you haven’t responded to the 12 points – but one option is that they simply challenge your thinking and you would rather ignore them. I’m not sure you would like it if people treated you that way. But then again I am also open to the possibility that you are simply too busy to give this topic your full attention and do it justice. This of course might suggest that you should be more tentative in your stance as it is a highly complex issue that requires “slow thinking”. I have managed to read the article you attached a link to (as has “Guest below, whose brief comment is worth a read too in my opinion). It appears that Don Bromley wrote the article not you? (so not sure if this is the 10 000 word one you alluded to? I would happily read 10 000 words on this.)

            Like Guest I am also not going to give the article by don a blow by blow response here because it doesnt seem you want to discuss this or look at opposing ideas here (unless you correct our perception in which case I will gladly do so). Firstly I have seen all of this before. Nothing new here. Secondly although I find its argument overall coherent and possible, I do not find it convincing or compelling or as parsimonious as the counter view. Given this I wonder how you would accommodate straight people who agree with my take on this in your church. Would you break fellowship with them? Or just with LGB people who were living out these views?

          • R.A.

            Hah, that was me. I wanted to paste one argument Ian made so others could see what I was addressing, but it posted the message as Guest instead of deleting the original without the quote like I wanted. You can see Ian’s quote in a comment below the guest one. Disqus does not like me…

          • Lance Heath

            Thanks for clarifying R.A. …. looks like Ian has either bowed out or hit a busy patch … or dare we hope: seen the light?!?! Having read his paper (or one he linked to … not sure?) it seems he certainly has looked into the issue some … but not nearly enough. Yet.

          • R.A.

            I have no clue, but he didn’t seem to keen on continuing the discussion, anywho. All I know is it’s taken me well over a year to reach my current opinion. Lots of studying, praying, and confusion. You?

          • Lance Heath

            Hehehe! A LOT longer than a year!! Decades. The fact that you could do it in a year gives me hope that not everyone is as obtuse as me!!! :)

          • R.A.

            It was a long year, hah. Lord knows how many hours I poured into it. I probably annoyed him with all the questions. And you’re not obtuse, brother. You’re a million times smarter than me!

          • Lance Heath

            I would love to hear how you would summarise the understanding / rationale / argument / interpretation of those of us who believe that Scripture does NOT prohibit / condemn same sex marriages (even though you don’t subscribe to this belief yourself) … just to be sure that you have really heard our side. Almost everything you say has “all gay sex is sinful” as a departure point / premise … which means almost all of what you say fails to actually deal with the issue at hand … and therefore how to deal with the dilemma of relating with those (fellow Christians) who disagree with you on this issue (whether they are gay or straight).

            Why do you disagree with the following statements: (1) all biblical references to homosexual activity are limited to male cult prostitution (the malakoi/qadeshim and the arsenokoitai who “worshipped” by having sex with them; and (2) that homosexual sex within marriages (faithful, loving, committed) do not contravene Jesus’ summation of “all the law” in His Great Commandment to love … in that there is no victim and no harm done (unlike with murder, alcoholism, gambling, adultery etc). To me it really seems like a bit of a no-brainer.

          • Ian Paul

            The Leviticus texts do not use the word qadeshim, so do not relate to cultic prostitution. In fact, cultic homosexual activity was by and large the only kind tolerated in Mesopotamian culture—and in contrast with other ANE texts, Lev does not even tolerate this. In other words, it forbids even that form of same sex activity which was acceptable in surrounding cultures.

            The almost universal consensus amongst scholars (on both sides) is that malakos and arsenokoites have nothing to do with cultic activity. Malakos means ‘soft ones’ and suggests feminization. The word is found elsewhere. Arsenokoites is unknown outside Paul, and is almost certainly coined by him as a reference to Lev 18.22 LXX. It *could* refer to active partners and malakoi the passive partners, but it seems clear Paul had the very general Lev prohibition in mind.

            Jesus refers to the porneiai which come from the heart which defile, and in the first century that would refer to the full list of sexual prohitions from Leviticus. The four main groups of issue in Lev were also deployed as prohibitions in Acts 15 on Gentiles. So all NT writers see the continuing relevance and application of the Levitical prohibitions.

            Paul argues that those involved in sexual sin sin against their own bodies, as well as God, in 1 Cor 6.

          • Lance Heath

            Given your reasoning above I can see that you have come up with a rational and plausible explanation as to why you believe what you believe. I must respect that even though I do not agree with it (for what I hope to show are sound and compelling reasons). I hope to show that I have also come up with a plausible interpretation which hopefully you too will respect and not denigrate (even if you prefer not to agree with it).

            I have come across many scholars (published work) from BOTH sides of the fence (!) (including John Stott and Robert Gagnon) who are very open to the possibility that Lev 18 and 20 refer specifically to male cultic prostitution. I have 12 reasons which when taken in conjunction result in me coming to this conclusion:

            (1)
            Plenty of other OT sections document Israelite involvement with Male Cult Prostitutes (e.g.
            Job 36:14; Ex 34: 11-27; Psalm 106:34-39; Deut 12:30-31; 1 Kings 14:23; 1 Kings
            15:12-13; 1 Kings 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7)

            (2)
            The theme of the section is overwhelmingly that of Molech worship (all verses can be
            directly related to and understood i.t.o. the context of this cult including
            but not limited to Male Cultic Prostitution).

            (3)
            The verse immediately preceding 18:22 explicitly mentions Molech (Hebrew
            name: Baal, the fertility god).

            (4)
            The following command (18:23) also refers to an act associated with Molech worship i.e. sex with animals (semen donated
            to Molech via masturbation onto holy ground, into holy animals and into holy
            priest-prostitutes was believed to increase fertility of land, animals and
            humans, so crucial for survival, respectively)

            (5)
            Leviticus 20 starts and concludes with explicit and significant mention of Molech worship

            (6)
            The word “abomination” (toevah) is most frequently used to describe unclean
            rituals involving idol worship (86% of occurrences in early/pre-exilic books
            such as Leviticus make this explicit).

            (7)
            The similar use of the whole phrase “did all of the abominations” (toevah) as well as other themes (“echoing former inhabitants’
            practices”; repeating the statement that previous inhabitants were driven from
            the land because of such practices) in Lev 18:22 and 20:13 strongly links these
            two verses with 1 Kings 14:24 (with its clear and undisputed reference to cult
            prostitution) and vice versa. This in turn links these two verses with a number
            of other verses which 1 Kings 14:24 is clearly linked to (1 Kings 15:12; 22:46;
            2 Kings 23:7; Job 36:14) which all undeniably
            deal with Male Cult Prostitutes.

            (8)
            All Levitical commands which carry death sentences are repeated in Deuteronomy (and
            the only remaining (‘similar’) verse which could possibly be linked with this
            particular command is Deuteronomy 23:17 which explicitly mentions Male Cult
            Prostitutes and their sexual activities). In fact the OT forbids again in other contexts (i.e. not
            idolatry contexts) every other item
            in Lev 18 and 20 except for “lying
            with a man as with a woman”.

            (9)
            All commands in Deuteronomy (associated with death penalties) are repeats of
            Levitical commands (or at least repeated somewhere in the OT), except
            for Deuteronomy 23:17 … unless Leviticus 20:13 (and therefore Leviticus
            18:22) are also actually referring specifically to Male Cult Prostitute
            activity, as Deuteronomy 23:17 explicitly does).

            (10)
            The prohibition of only males from having sex with their own gender stands in stark
            contrast to the neighbouring prohibitions which prohibit both genders from
            engaging in sexual misconduct (adultery, incest with a parent, incest with a
            parent-in-law). This could be explained by the fact that the Molech (Baal /
            Husband) cult probably only employed males coupling with males. No other
            logical explanation of why lesbian activity was omitted in this section exists.

            (11)
            The severity of the condemnation (death) and strength of the word “abomination”
            suggest something wildly dangerous and detestable (religiously “radioactive”)
            such as idolatry and ritual orgies (contravening commandments 1, 2 and 7 of the
            Decalogue) rather than mere consensual, harmless same sex experiences, not
            forbidden anywhere else.

            (12)
            The reason that the word for “Male Cult Prostitute” does not occur in these 2
            Levitical verses is simply because the Israelites were yet to enter the land
            and therefore had not yet (and physically could not yet have) become
            Male Cult Prostitutes themselves at this point. The instruction to them was not
            to have sex with these foreign males…at this point in time. Later OT
            verses pertaining to homosexual activities used the word because the Israelites
            had assimilated and some had actually become Male Cult Prostitutes by then. One
            needs to remember that the OT was written to and for Israelites only – not the
            surrounding peoples. The OT doesn’t concern itself with prohibiting pagans from
            being Male Cult Prostitutes – it talks only to God’s Chosen People – none of
            whom could have yet become Male Cult Prostitutes yet in Leviticus!

            I find this to be more compelling than your idea that Lev has nothing to do with male cult prostitution but I am happy to agree to disagree with you on this. Would you be able to do the same?

            I am well aware of the LXX Leviticus in Paul’s work in this regard. In fact that is why I believe that arsenokoitai refers to the ADHERENTS of the extremely popular fertility cults. And the plausible possibility, (shared by a few English translations of the Bible) that malakoi could refer to the qadeshim (you may know that the translators of the LXX really struggled to come up with a Koine Greek optin for this Hebrew word, rendering it 6 different ways for each of its 6 occurences in the OT?).

            Thus it is plausible and even compelling (I believe probable) that at the very least the 2 Levitical passages + the 2 vice list references in the NT refer specifically to male cult prostitution.

            Importantly (considering the “zoom out” idea mentioned elsewhere in this thread) … this also solves another problem or two: that of reconciling Gay Marriage with Jesus’ Great Commandment summing up all the law (requiring something to be harmful and have a victim to be sin); and also how the homosexual activities condemned in the Bible fit in with sins like murder, theft, alcohol abuse, adultery, idolatry, as well as the porneia you refer to etc (which all clearly have victims!). This also moves us away from a literalistic, biblicistic, legalistic, unBiblical handling of Scripture to a more dynamic, Scripture-valuing approach in my opinion AND allows for acceptance of married gay people in churches.

            But if we cannot agree on this .. .can we at least be mature enough to agree to disagree without breaking fellowship? I think this Third Option posited here is certainly an improvement on the stalemate which currently exists and which excludes and divides the Body. I have not seen anyone come up with a better option (and the status quo is problematic, no?)

          • R.A.

            Lots of good evidence to ponder. Well organized!

          • Lance Heath

            Thanks. Also appreciate the work that you put in.

          • Ian Paul

            I ought also add that all this is fairly straightforward stuff, and you really have to want to avoid the plain meaning of the texts to miss this.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            If I’ve learned nothing else, it is that forsaking biblical scholarship for a plain and simple reading of a modern English translation doesn’t do justice to seeking the truth.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Re: “But if churches are putting up with people who sin”

            As a Protestant, the concept of church discipline is rather… archaic-seeming to me. The only people Jesus gave a tongue-lashing to were the religious leaders of his day for their piety and for missing the point and heaping heavy loads on people and to those who had corrupted the temple for personal gain. He never turned anyone away who sought to follow him. His disciples were imperfect. To me, our job as the Church is to educate, love and serve. It seems to me God’s job is to convict and convince.

            If churches “aren’t putting up with people who sin” what – in God’s name – is their purpose? Is it your calling to preach only to the choir?

            RE: “why is the answer to allow other people to sin?”

            Well, Pastor, Jesus taught us in the parable of the Prodigal Son that the Father (representing God and the ideal for us as individuals and the Church) didn’t stop his son (representing people) from sinning. Rather, he fulfilled his role and responsibility with grace, waiting patiently for his son to come to his senses and upon his return ran to meet him where he was.

            It was the obedient and faithful brother (representing too often the righteous) who became self-righteous, jealousy causing him to grumble about why the disobedient brother deserved to receive a warm welcome when he himself had never strayed…

          • Ian Paul

            Sorry–Jesus called us to ‘be holy, even as your heavenly father is holy’. He called us to ‘repent and believe’. I am unsure how anyone could miss this as central in Jesus’ teaching.

            This does not mean being judgemental, but loving and accepting as Jesus was. We are all on a journey to holiness…but that is not helped by denying what Scripture says is holy.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            And what is holiness, in your mind?

          • Ian Paul

            But be clear where the carrot is leading. Interested we appear to have moved off the topic in hand.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God

          • AtalantaBethulia

            This site doesn’t allow you to post links, so I’m doubtful your comment will get through, although I was able to see it in order to post this. What I see it says is this: “Seems like we have reached the end of the conversation. Quoting a single verse as if that is the whole message of the Bible doesn’t achieve much.”

            It seems appropriate here to invoke Hillel or the lawyer’s challenge to Jesus about the Greatest Commandment.

            Blessings on your journey.

    • Nor

      Please point out where the Bible specifically addresses gay marriage, especially where it says women can’t marry other women.

      • Ian Paul

        ‘Marriage’ presumably means a covenantal relationship which involves sexual activity. So you are asking where the Bible forbids same-sex sexual activity?

  • RodneyHaines

    I already see several “supporters” who are working their way into the group. Soon there will be many more, as they bully their beliefs on the rest of us.

    It’s like the Seinfeld episodes with the gay bullies. Everything in life relates to at least one Seinfeld episode!

    Since this forum doesn’t like links, just go to YouTube and view these:

    >Seinfeld – The pushy gay couple

    >The Best Of Kramer – The Gay Couples 2

    • AtalantaBethulia

      Like church, isn’t “the group” open to all people, not only to those who think alike and agree? To better understand each other, discussion requires a coming together of people who see things differently, yet who are willing to engage civilly. Bullying would be keeping people out and preventing them from participating or resorting to personal attacks, one of the points of the article.

  • Karen Segal

    The extreme and relentless othering of non-straight people in the evangelical church to the point where it is often seen as a badge of honor and ‘counter-cultural like Jesus was’ is nothing but homophobia. Full stop. Imagine please imagine being a gay person reading the comments on here. You may not literally be rounding up non-straight people and putting them in cattle cars and gassing them, but I suggest without hyperbole that the emotional damage is damn near the same. The church has taken a whole group of people and told them that they do not belong to the Body of Christ unless they . . . If you want to talk about what sin is, that is what sin is. STOP, repent. stop othering.

    • RodneyHaines

      STOP IT! Just STOP IT! Now the propaganda goes from comparing bedroom gymnastics and equating that to skin color… to… homosexuals suffering like the Jews during the “the HOLOCAUST”??? JUST STOP IT! ENOUGH ALREADY!

      You attempt to pass off homosexuality as “pure Christian love”. Yet, that love can NEVER be equated to the love between a husband and wife; “who shall become one flesh”!!!! Note that only a HUSBAND AND WIFE can become one “one flesh”!!!! Therefore, homosexuals CANNOT EVER be recognized as a biblical, Christian, God-approved union!!

      • R.A.

        Homosexuals actually literally suffered like the Jews in the Holocaust. Hitler also killed homosexuals and gypsies in death camps. Note the pink triangle.

        Furthermore, it’s not gymnastics to equate it with skin color. In the 60s, some people actually used the exact same arguments to oppose interracial marriage. The exact same biblical arguments. No joke. Google “Phil Snider gives speech”, and find the video on YouTube. He takes a speech made in the 60s and simply inserts “gay marriage” for “interracial marriage” to a pretty interesting effect.

        • RodneyHaines

          Let me know when over 6 million homosexuals are killed by this fantasy homo-holocaust of yours. You smear the name of each Jewish victim of this horrific event…

          • R.A.

            Any history book will tell you that homosexuals were targeted by Nazis, as well. It is unknown how many gay people were killed, but some estimate it to be around 25,000. Not imagined at all, brother. Plus, gay people are killed all the time for being gay. Check out the news from Russia. There are videos where gay men are abducted, humiliated, and then posted online.

            Also, the numbers of how many people died doesn’t make it any less wrong or tragic. If one person is killed for some discriminatory reason, it is one too many.

          • Nor

            Well, they’re mostly children of religious conservatives, and they die by suicide, but I’m sure we could come up with quite a number very easily. How many dead kids do you think is ok?

    • Paul Davies

      Its not “phobic” to have a natural revulsion of an ungodly, perverted act. Its being disgusted. Its quite normal, unlike homosexuality. Its even from the Holy Spirit – its called conscience.

      • Lance Heath

        Homomisia seems more appropriate than homophobia in this case. (I know it doesn’t come from the HOLY Spirit though.)

  • RodneyHaines

    I wonder how many of you have caught the paradox in the above article? Several of the homosexuals and homosexual supporters in this forum have flatly claimed they do no consider homosexuality to be a sin. So then WHAT was the purpose of Ken Wilson’s article? Mr. Wilson (I refuse to call him pastor) refers to C.S. Lewis’ sin, as a justification for his pro-homosexual stance. Now here is the paradox. Either Lewis and homosexuals are sinning, or NEITHER Lewis and homosexuals is sinning. You cannot have it both way. Now I know a lot of you homosexual supporters are progressive left-wingers and enjoy a good double standard when you see one. However, Christ is not fooled by double standards.

    So which is it? The Bible informs me, in no uncertain terms, that BOTH are sinning. However, the one sin has an arrogant pride attached to it while the other was taking place in secret, due to shame and possible guilt. This is why the homosexual is set apart in Scripture for their particular sin; with a much steeper punishment.

    • R.A.

      You really don’t like people with more progressive interpretations, do you? Your tone is very demeaning, and questions people’s intent. I don’t believe the tone helps your argument.

      We are looking at a double standard on the part of conservative opponents to homosexuals because they zero in on homosexuality as a sin more than they focus on the more numerous occurrences of heterosexual infidelity and unscriptural divorce. Why isn’t there legislation banning divorce or seeking harsher penalties for adultery? Especially when such legislation covers a larger portion of the population. The sins of adultery and unscriptural divorce are being committed by 95% of the population, I.e. heterosexuals. And yet some focus on 5% of the population to rebuke? This is inconsistent and unproportionate treatment.

      The article calls into question the matter of consistency, which is a logical issue. In such a case, Mr. Wilson calls on us to reexamine our beliefs to see where we’ve made the error in consistency,

      By saying the Bible informs “in no uncertain terms” is a priori assumption in the discussion at hand. Please explain why you believe such while providing support.

      • RodneyHaines

        R.A. – If you do not believe that the Bible is the inherent Word of God, the final authority, I need not cast my pearls among the swine any longer since you are not of the Holy Spirit.

        • R.A.

          I do believe the bible to be the word of God, friend. What did I say to lead you to believe otherwise?

        • Lance Heath

          Honestly: Is this not just a cop out because you don’t quite understand what is being said to you? are terms like “a priori”, “begging the question”, “ad hominem” etc. making you feel out of your depth, scared of looking foolish and therefore putting on a hostile, dismissive and insulting front to protect your ego?
          We all have lots to learn … lets keep it respectful and humble so that we don’t disappoint our Saviour, and continue to grow more like him. Let he who is perfect cast the first stone. (or pearl for that matter!)

    • Michael Grady

      The theory and practice of homosexuality is a sin, but in all fairness, so is the theory and practice of heterosexuality. We need to be fair in how we describe a mentality that may engage in one, the other or both.

      • R.A.

        I’m trying to figure out what you mean when you use the term heterosexuality, can you explain that for me?

        • Michael Grady

          A term invented around 1860, used to describe illicit sex relations between men and women. Adultery, seduction, sodomy – an erotic driven mentality – that Jesus warned about in the Sermon on the Mount. Later described as a sexual orientation to explain a condition of normalcy. It’s tragic that we assume it’s normal. It is the mentality of porneia. We must repent from this mentality. It is like a trance we must wake up from.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            It seems your priori assumption is that all intercourse is bad/evil/sinful/craven/depraved/perverted. Is that correct? If so, this seems to be an extreme position. To define lust as “any sexual desire”, in my reading, is an error.

          • Michael Grady

            There is too much focus on sexual intercourse. Not enough on fertility awareness. In saying so, of course I am attempting to reconnect the age old understanding that fertility and sex actually go together. This science is totally clear: a couple can conceive or not conceive, nearly at will. The great benefit of fertility awareness is not sinning against one’s body. This is the essence of what it means to be obedient to God and nature, to not succumb to acts of porneia.

            Finally, I would like to include the Christian concept of “philia” love for single persons, especially. Jesus valued this kind of love expression, in addition to his practices of expressing storge, eros, and agape. He expressed in warmth, not hotness. Warmth is affirmation, hotness is lust. Here, he introduces the radical concept of receptivity through prayer and stillness. He received the emotions as energy and transformed the energy as responsible expression. That is sexual activity. Jesus revealed it in a new way, that most definitely is exclusive of a wasteful, entropic porneia/genitocentric-centered mentality.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Your use of “sexual activity”, in this context, is what others would call “intimacy”, a helpful distinction, I believe. And, I do agree that you can have intercourse without intimacy and intimacy without intercourse… and, intimacy with people who are not one’s spouse is possible: Dear friends, soul friends, anam cara are testaments to this… and, I would agree these friendships are among some of the most fulfilling, life-affirming and meaningful aspects of living.

            However, is it possible that perhaps those who hold to these concepts that you have explained here about intercourse perhaps have an unnatural revulsion to sex/intercourse for some reason? There are asexual people. I will stipulate that. That does not mean it is the norm for all, nor the ideal.

            Saying “there is too much focus on sexual intercourse” and addressing that by going to the extreme position of positing that therefore the ideal is to wholly abstain from sexual intercourse seems to be an overcorrection and unnecessarily binary. What of the axiom “everything in moderation” and finding a healthy balance?

            Lastly, I notice you tend not to respond to my questions directly. Why is that? Are you advocating for asceticism?

  • RodneyHaines

    Ian Paul brings up some interesting points regarding divorce. Willy-nilly “we just don’t get along anymore” divorce should be called out in the church. However, there are other denominations who take the single Bible passage of Luke 16:18 EXCLUSIVELY, and use it against their parishioners. They refuse to look at the other boundaries, as pointed out in Corinthians.

    Therefore, according to these certain denominations, the man who has been cheated on and his wife has left him, is technically ALSO PUNISHED by these churches! They claim the husband cannot remarry until the adulterous wife dies! This is blatantly against other points of scripture which state the husband “is not bound” in cases or desertion and adultery.

    • AtalantaBethulia

      Likewise women in abusive relationships — in some similar churches — are counseled to stay with their abusive partner and pray for him. The same for families with children who have been molested, abused and/or sexually assaulted. This can’t be healthy nor holy. (Reminder: The majority of women who are murdered are done so by their intimate partner. And most children are sexually assaulted by someone they know.)

      Surely there are legitimate reasons for divorce other than adultery. I would posit that ministers and churches who counsel their parishioners to stay in abusive relationships because “this is what God wants” cause these persons additional harm and is its own form of spiritual abuse.

  • lewr2

    Unless you’re stating that he should have told Peter that he was a weakling, you should reassess this ‘article’. Unless of course, you’re also saying that Paul is making a statment for the death of the entire population of earth, which I don’t figure you are! Then, I suppose you may not believe you should be in the position you’re in now as a pastor either!

  • RodneyHaines

    One also has to bring in the possibility of idolatry when discussing the homosexual agenda. I mean, their lives are totally wrapped up in associating themselves with their bedroom gymnastics, to the point that it becomes a compulsion, an obsession; and takes away from time with God. The marches, the parades, the demonstrations, the conventions, the organizing.

    I will believe, to the day I die, that the words homosexual and Christian are oxymoron’s. (I am speaking of practicing, unrepentant homosexuals. There are those homosexuals who have turned from their sin, or are at least abstaining; as many past drunkards, gamblers and drug addicts are doing…)

    BTW, the “judge not” stuff doesn’t work on us any longer. We either step around it, or simply throw Jesus back at you. Yes, we all know the homosexual community LOVES that verse. But in the seminary, we called it “pick and choose justification”. You take what Jesus states, out of context. After the “judge not” part, Jesus teaches you HOW TO PROPERLY judge. “By their fruits you shall know them.”

    • R.A.

      I agree. The fruits of love are easily visible. God bless.

    • Michael Grady

      Homosexuality – and heterosexuality are social constructs. Actually they are both derogatory terms describing folks engaging in illicit sex, described as porneia in the Bible. The social constructs describe a sexual orientation – or erotic fixation – a mentality that is idolatry. Instead, Jesus warns us in the Sermon on the Mount to avoid lust.

      • Lance Heath

        Michael I think your understanding of the social constructs relating to sexual orientation (also a social construct) is very idiosyncratic. They absolutely do/need not (in the overwhelming majority of people’s minds on both sides of the fence in this debate) equate to lust, idolatry or erotic “fixation”. We need to be speaking the same language here if there is to be any hope of learning from each other.

        • Michael Grady

          Nah, I stick to what I say. Besides, porn addiction stats speak for themselves. It’s quite prevalent. Minds are being pornified – exactly what Jesus warned about. It leads to acts of heterosexuality, homosexuality, adultery, bestiality, etc, besides masturbation. I think Jesus was quite explicit on his warning to avoid porneia in the Sermon. I highly recommend repenting from any of these sexual orientations if one wants to be good with self and God, and avoid hurling self into hell. Repent.

          • R.A.

            So all people should be celibate?

          • Michael Grady

            The brain is the primary sexual organ. It has the power to receive and express, especially love and affection, in a responsible way. One responsible way to be sexually active is to be chaste during marriage to avoid pregnancy, if needed, while practicing natural family planning. Besides that, an active mind is one that that is highly communicative, spiritual, intellectual, physical, creative and emotional – all expressed in similar ways that are response-able. A person who is celibate can be either sexually inactive (impotent) or sexually active (potent), depending on whether the person has taken on the mind of Christ, who may be considered the most sexually active, most potent person that ever lived, at least in this cerebrocentric definition of sexual activity. He showed us the way to both receive and express true potency, true sexual activity, and true love to others, all leading to true happiness. The path to heaven is this narrow path.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Michael, would you be willing to state these concepts for us non-Catholics plainly? Are you saying that (some version of) Catholic teaching regards married heterosexual reproduction as a necessary evil? And that ideal Christ-likeness includes marital celibacy? Or are you saying the ideal is celibacy in singleness? And if so, upon what basis is this teaching? the writings of Paul or Augustine? I’ve heard Augustine didn’t do us any favors with his notions of sex and sin. Would you posit that Adam and Eve, had they not been cast out of the Garden would have remained sexless? And, surely, you understand that most Protestants (and many Catholics) disagree.

          • Michael Grady

            You know as we do the biblical ex-aliquo teachings. We would rather be free and celibate to do Christ’s work. Yet, if we burn, to marry, and to observe the science of fertility coupled with chasteness. During this time of chasteness, sexual activity does not end, but is expressed in affection, intellectualism, spirituality, creativity, communication and the emotions. In this way, we enter the narrow path, which leads to a deeper perspective of why we are here in this cosmos.

            We understand that our origins are ex-nihilo. It is in the non-temporal reality of ex-nihilo – the first creation – that all humans were created by God. We were created perfect, yet finite. Some, as with the angels, said Yes or No, when God said Be. But when God said “Be”, we said “Maybe”. We wanted to be infinite, when only God is infinite, yet we also partially received our beings. This is the originitive sin, repressed, forgotten and not taught by the early church fathers.

            Our sin is ex-nihilo, in contrast to the traditional cosmological theology of original sin ex-aliquo (the Biblical account of time and space). Adam and Eve were the first of us “Maybe” humans coming into the cosmos, where all humans are redeemed, whether there time here is 8 seconds or 800 years. Their sin in the garden reflected what had already happened ex-nihilo. Evil in this cosmos is caused by us humans, not God. Temptation as well. Porneia is one of the primary temptations, an evil caused by our “No-ness” to saying Maybe.

            There is much more, of course. But to answer your last question, please understand that humans are primary matter in this universe, and all other matter, from molecules to monkeys, are subpersonal excidents. We are unlimited – perfect yet finite. Our bodies imploded into existence as primary matter while all other matter exploded as excidents. Our bodies here in existence were created by God out of our maybe-ness. They are required for creating more redeemed humans while helping us understand why we are here, to be thankful for being redeemed and to finally choose salvation with our free will – the “Yes” we seek to attain eternal bliss in heaven. There, we will be in eternal bliss with God, the angels and all other humans saying Yes to salvation. Or we will say No, and enter hell.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Re: “sexual activity does not end, but is expressed in affection, intellectualism, spirituality, creativity, communication and the emotions.”

            It seems using this definition, a far many more of us are guilty of adultery.

          • Michael Grady

            No. The brain is the primary sexual organ. That’s why it’s on top. The heart is the secondary sexual organ. That’s why it is where it is. In your response, you led off with the genital organs on top, which indicates your current mentality: porneia. We cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven with a porneia mentality. The bible is quite explicit in this regard. Repent. We are supposed to be sexually active, but in ways that you can hardly suspect. A clue is how Jesus lived. He was entirely sexually active, and taught us how to live the same way: to our deaths if need be.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Re: “you led off with the genital organs on top,”

            No. I did not. I quoted what you said and using subtext suggested without asking that by this definition of “sexual activity”, one could and does have “sexual activity” with people who are not one’s spouse. If one defines adultery as “sexual activity” outside of marriage then this reasoning follows. If you are defining adultery as only having intercourse outside of marriage, but not the other aspects of “sexual activity” that you have listed, then I have to ask why that narrow specification when you so broadly define “sexual activity” otherwise? If this is not your intent, then speaking more plainly would be useful.

            I totally get what you are saying about Jesus, sexual activity, etc. I understand your point of view. I don’t agree, but I hear you. I’m asking you how you would define adultery.

          • Michael Grady

            Adultery is always wrong, not sure why there would be any mystery to that. It was defined as porneia in the Bible. Ovid’s The Art of Love is the old manual. Kubrisck’s, “Eyes Wide Shut” describes the practice and trance of heterosexuality.

            I feel you are still associalting “sexual activity” with genitocentrism. I know, it’s difficult. I repented from heterosexuality a while back once I realized I too was walking in a trance, much like the characters in EWS. There are many triggers, social construct triggers, to put us artificially “in our place”. Heterosexuality, homosexuality, sexual orientation are all genitocentric porneia-centered triggers.

            Here is a way out: all the emotions are energy. receive the emotions in prayer or other stillness (meditation, yoga), and let them be. This includes emotions thought to be negative: hate, lust, anger, fear. In actuality, they are all energy. Instead of impusively acting them out, or repressing them into poison, receive them as they are, And then allow them to be while in prayerful silence. The feelings will be transformed into responsible energy expressed in the spirit, the emotions, communication, intellect and creativity. In this way, the brain is lit up and active. It is an ectropic move toward recognizing that the brain is the primary sex organ, We treat others as such and would never think of seducing others, and instead share similar values, so that they too may “Be”. Affirmation, that highest expression of love, is the giving of generated warmth toward others in affection in all these ways. One gives another their very being. The other is healed if the heart is open in receptivity. One is healed through an affirmer. It is the highest act of love, and clearly sexual in a new, ectropic way that is not of evil, but only of that which is good, and of salvation. It is this way that we are to evangelize the world. More on this by reading the life of Conrad Baars and Anna Terruwe, Dutch psychiatrists, and the theory and practice of affirmation.

          • Lance Heath

            Dear Michael, thanks for the chuckle and I really have enjoyed reading your posts … but then again I have been known to find the the posts of trolls, psychotic people, and esoteric minds fascinating at times. Not sure if you would classify yourself as any of these. It seems you might have a great time defining (a) asexuality (b) adultery and (3) mental masturbation. I look forward to any more inputs you care to make! :)

          • Nor

            This is a good point. The early Christians were known for their self castration practices. I admire your dedication to your faith sir. Certainly it’s a shame the rest of the Church has abandoned the practice.

    • Lance Heath

      Rodney, I am presuming that you are a straight Christian and not in a leadership position. So this issue actually shouldn’t really concern you, should it? How is it your business? How does it affect you? Your comparing a sexual orientation with addictions shows that you actually have a lot to learn about these phenomena. You seem to have a great deal to say about a topic which you know very little about (and yet which causes a highly emotional response in you). Why does this bother you so much if it concerns you so little? [What do you think the fruit of your responses here are? Love? joy? peace? patience? kindness? gentleness? self-control? You certainly are not demonstrating any of these fruit yourself].

    • Osowoofy

      Rodney, trust me…..it’s people like you who think FAR more of “bedroom gymnastics,” marches, parades, demonstrations, conventions and organizing (???), then any gay person. Frankly, I’m surprised you people have the time to get thru the day, what with trying to run other people’s lives.
      I, (as a practicing, unrepentant homosexual) OTOH, will sadly take time away from my radical homosexual activities to shop for groceries, fix dinner for my husband, do laundry and attend graduate school for my Masters degree in Nursing.

      I pity you actually.

      • HarryKrentz

        That’s it — why don’tcha run him out of business? Serve him right.

        • Nor

          What business is he in exactly?

        • Nor

          The oppressed should judge their oppressors of course.

          • HarryKrentz

            There is no oppression. Perversion, of course, should be suppressed, filth-peddler.

    • Nor

      “simply throw Jesus back at you” He’s proven to be such a versatile weapon!

  • Jay

    Love Letter to a Lesbian – By Jackie Hill (Describes Christ’s transforming power in a homosexual’s life from a former lesbian)

    Dear ______,

    I just want you to know that I understand.

    I understand how it feels to be in love with a woman. To want nothing more than to be with her forever. Feeling as if the universe has played a cruel joke on your heart by allowing it to fall into the hands of a creature that looks just like you.

    I too was a lesbian. I had same-sex attractions as early as five-years old. As I grew up, those feelings never subsided. They only grew. I would find myself having crushes on my female best friends, but I was far too ashamed to admit it to them — let alone to myself.

    At the age of 17, I finally made the decision to pursue these desires. I entered into a relationship with a young lady who became my “first.” The first time we kissed, it felt extremely natural, as if this feeling is what I had been missing all along. After her came another woman and then another woman. Both relationships were very serious, each lasting over a year. I enjoyed these relationships and loved these women a lot. And it came to the point that I was willing to forsake all, including my soul, to enjoy their love on earth.

    In October 2008, at the age of 19, my superficial reality was shaken up by a deeper love — one from the outside, one that I’d heard of before but never experienced. For the first time, I was convicted of my sin in a way that made me consider everything I loved (idolized), and its consequences. I looked at my life, and saw that I had been in love with everything except God, and these decisions would ultimately be the death of me, eternally. My eyes were opened, and I began to believe everything God says in his word. I began to believe that what he says about sin, death, and hell were completely true.

    And amazingly, at the same time that the penalty of my sin became true to me, so did the preciousness of the cross. A vision of God’s Son crucified, bearing the wrath I deserved, and an empty tomb displaying his power over death — all things I had heard before without any interest had become the most glorious revelation of love imaginable.

    After realizing all of what I would have to give up, I said to God, “I cannot let these things or people go on my own. I love them too much. But I know you are good and strong enough to help me.”

    Now, at the age of 23, I can say with all honesty that God has done just that. He has helped me love him more than anything.

    Now why did I just tell you about this? I gave you a glimpse of my story because I want you to understand that I understand. But I also want you to know that I also understand how it feels to be in love with the Creator of the universe. To want nothing more than to be with him forever. To feel his grace, the best news ever announced to mankind. To see his forgiveness, that he would take such a wicked heart into his hands of mercy.

    But with that in mind, we’re in a culture where stories like mine either seem impossible or hilarious, depending on the audience. Homosexuality is everywhere — from music, to TV, even sports. If you’d believe all that society had to say about homosexuality, you’d come to the conclusion that it is completely normal, even somewhat admirable. But that is far from the truth. God tells us that homosexuality is sinful, abominable, and unnatural (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:18–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:8–10). But if I were to be honest, sometimes homosexual attractions can seem natural to me.

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this may be your dilemma as well. You see what God has to say about homosexuality, but your heart doesn’t utter the same sentiments. God’s word says it’s sinful; your heart says it feels right. God’s word says it’s abominable; your heart says it’s delightful. God’s word says it’s unnatural; your heart says it’s totally normal. Do you see that there is a clear divide between what God’s word says and how your heart feels?

    So which voice should you believe?

    There was a time in my walk with Christ where I experienced a lot of temptation about falling back into lesbianism. These temptations caused me to doubt God’s word. My temptations and desires began to become more real to me than the truth of the Bible. As I was praying and meditating on these things, God put this impression on my heart: “Jackie, you have to believe that my word is true even if it contradicts how you feel.” Wow! This is right. Either I trust in his word or I trust my own feelings. Either I look to him for the pleasure my soul craves or I search for it in lesser things. Either I walk in obedience to what he says or I reject his truth as if it were a lie.

    The struggle with homosexuality is a battle of faith. Is God my joy? Is he good enough? Or am I still looking to broken cisterns to quench a thirst only he can satisfy? That is the battle. It is for me, and it is for you.

    The choice is yours, my friend. I pray you put your faith in Christ and flee from the lies of our society that coincide with the voices of your heart — a heart that Scripture says is wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Run to Jesus instead.

    You were made for him (Romans 11:36). He is ultimately all that you need! He is good and wise (Psalm 145:9). He is the source of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). He is kind and patient (2 Peter 3:9). He is righteous and faithful (Psalm 33:4). He is holy and just (1 John 1:9). He is our true King (Psalm 47:7). He is our Savior (Jude 1:25). And he is inviting you to be not just his servant, but also his friend. If lasting love is what you’re looking for anywhere else, you are chasing the wind, seeking what you will never find, slowly being destroyed by your pursuit.

    But in Jesus, there is fullness of joy. In Jesus, there is a relationship worth everything, because he is everything. Run to him

    • Lance Heath

      I would have written a very similar letter when I was that age (or actually 2 years older) … but 23 year olds (and 25 year olds) still have a lot to learn … as I have discovered. And in giving up our Isaacs God has a strange and wonderful way of giving them back to us … with great lessons learnt … and even greater love in out hearts. The gift He gave me when I was willing to give up my homosexuality for Him was a freedom from a legalism and biblicism that kills the spirit as well as a greater understanding of His amazing, amazing grace that saved a wretch like me. And many more gifts have ensued (including my wonderful partner in whom I see Jesus every day)… as well as much fruit (which is, after all, much more important than the gifts – 1 cor 13). Mercy truly does triumph over Judgement. God isn’t Law … God is Love.

  • Michael Grady

    I feel for you evangelicals. Catholicism is different. Gay couples are welcome – that has never changed. However, they are not permitted to partake of the Eucharist. It is merely for their own protection to prevent their own damnation, according to scripture. Of course, there are not many of these folks to be seen, due to the strictness, and their search to find less strict churches. In this article, it seems evangelicals need to formulate some kind of deep thinking and reflection to come up with answers. All the best with that effort.

    • Nor

      Nice moral high ground you got there.

    • Nor

      Catholicism is chock full of gay people. Closeted sure. Agonized mostly. But they definitely make up the majority of the management, as it were.

  • Matt Korner

    I take exception with only one aspect of this approach. It presumes that theological interpretations of Scripture are the same. The issue isn’t that the fundamentalist denominations are simply more strict than the purportedly-lenient congregations.

    The fundamentalist denominations actually interpret Scripture differently.

    I also believe this conflict is one of the main reasons people reject organized religion because, when used in this way, it prevents individuals from following a personal path to Christ and forming a direct interpretation of Scripture while still remaining a member of a congregation. Pluralism of views within a group is beneficial, and the goal should be to welcome this diversity. The purpose of a church is not to discipline, judge, or condemn; it’s, rather, to provide fellowship around a set of religious texts that are held in common. Surely, the members of a congregation can respect each other enough to abide disagreement over a specific phrase or passage without a schism resulting.

    In this specific instance, I believe many of my fundamentalist friends are definitely misinterpreting the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and I also reject the selective invoking of Levitican law. But, I also understand their thought process.

    The underlying assumption is that sexual intercourse exists for one purpose: biological reproduction. And, any sexual activity that does not take place with the intent to reproduce is a contravention of God’s will. None of this thinking is canonical, but it, nonetheless, drives these debates.

    Science is, and has been, threatening this mentality because, increasingly, people are coming to realize that heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality are orientations with genetic and prenatal origins and that sexual attraction to some members of the same sex is a common variation in human sexuality that is akin to lefthandedness. From an evolutionary-biology perspective, the fact that homosexual and bisexual orientations have been observed in thousands of other species’ and that the likelihood of these orientations occurring increase in individuals who have more older siblings has even been hypothesized as suggesting an advantage in preventing overpopulation. So, the question inevitably arises that, if God made these people gay or lesbian, then why would He prescibe against homosexual behavior. That proposition, on its face, makes no sense.

    This scientific understanding, coupled with the increasing public awareness of homosexual and bisexual people sharing their own introspection and explaining the struggles they have experienced in attempting to reconcile their respective sexual orientations with the teachings of these various churches, is creating a crisis pitting fundamentalist theological interpretations against rationality and empiricism. That tension can, ultimately, only be resolved by reexamining those previously-held beliefs. And, the more open-minded denominations seem to have reached that point more quickly than some of the others.

    In the end, whether the subject is homosexuality or biological evolution or the Big Bang, the choice becomes to deny the evidence before you and, in turn, weaken faith or to question previous assertions and interpretations and to preserve faith.

  • John Smid

    Ken Wilson, I was a well known leader within the ExGay movement spending the majority of my vocational ministry working to try to help gay men and lesbian women live lives in celibacy, or mixed orientation marriages. After 22 years of disheartening ministry due to failure to accomplish the goals of our ministries I resigned. The destruction and mental anguish I saw in the lives of these men and women trying to live outside of their intimate desires led many to serious addiction, psychological illness, and damaging isolation. The traditional view of all homosexual relationships being sinful led to separation from families leaving them without that kind of intimate support and there were virtually no churches that would welcome them to join them in full relationship so they most often felt the shame of being the person outside the camp of God.

    In light of many, many years and hundreds of men and women under my pastoral care I look to scripture and find that the ambiguity of what is truly said about same sex romantic / sexual relationships is unyielding to sort through. Theologians from all denominations and persuasions interpret the bible on these matters differently. Clearly, this is a disputable matter that cannot be defined through the dot and tittle of the verses in the bible. For several decades now (the time frame that the church as attempted to solve this matter with dialogue) church leaders have argued the rights and wrongs, the sin vs. affirmation to no avail.

    The arguments on this issue are now dividing congregations, Pastors, church leaders, and families are being ostracized from their fellowships. Gay men and Lesbian women are doing all they can to explore the best and most healthy way to live within their faith and relationship with God. Gay marriage is now becoming an acceptable way tot them to live out spiritual convictions of monogamy and faithfulness.

    As I have now been away from ExGay ministry for six years I am involved in reconciliation with numerous LBGT folks who have spent a lifetime trying to not be gay. Of the majority these folks have found their way to accept their homosexuality and attempt to rid themselves of the shame they’ve experienced from being something they could not change, nor did they choose but have experienced tremendous rejection over.

    As they have accepted themselves, some have also trusted in the grace of God more than they ever had to find He is present, loving, and accepting of them as people and for some, also in authentic relationship with someone that is truly an “acceptable help mate” to have in their lives. As they have accepted this reality, many have found freedom from addictions and unhealthy living. They have found fellowship of encouragement within a fellowship of Christians who no longer call them unrepentant of their homosexuality. Their faith has grown, their spirituality deepened, and interestingly they are also ambassadors for the grace of God for many who have been marginalized within the faith community.

    I am one of those people. I am 59 years old. I have been there and at this time, I am just now finding my faith, spirituality, and relationship with God is the most authentic it has ever been. I believe the true reading of Scripture cannot be done with black and white, but with humanity in mind. Isn’t that one of the things Jesus came to do? To set us free from the letter of the law into the grace of His glorious wonder?

  • http://www.brentcunningham.org Brent Cunningham

    I think there are multiple problems with this minister’s line of reasoning in attempting to biblically condone same-sex intercourse.

    Divorce simply does not work as any sort of analogy for several reasons.

    1. If this Ken Wilson is truly bothered by the church’s recent lenient response (and his own, according to the article) to heterosexual marriages which began because of adultery (that is, unbiblical divorced & remarriage), why is he not rather calling for greater holiness in the marriages of these people? His line of reasoning
    seems to be something like, “Well, some Christians are acting immorally (through unbiblical divorce & remarriage), which must justify other Christians to also act immorally (same-sex intercourse).” That’s the kind of rationalization that any one of my four elementary aged children blush over when I call them on (meaning, even my six year old picks up on this faulty line of reasoning–“everyone else is doing it!”).
    NOTE: Interesting that Wilson points out that C. S. Lewis’ marriage to Joy was frowned upon by ministers in the Church of England, rather
    than making a case from that Bible that Joy was not free from her previous marriage commitment, and therefore unable to remarry (the real issue at hand is what the Bible has to say about it).

    2. The Bible does make several allowances for divorce (Deut 24:1-4; Mt 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor 7:12-16). However, not only does the Bible fail to make allowances for
    homosexuality activity, it consistently condemns such acts. So, even if there is some disagreement as to the appropriate application of divorce clauses, as Robert Gagnon writes in “The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics,” “Some divorce is permissible for some biblical texts so that one cannot say that the Bible has achieved a unanimous position on the subject. Alternatively, one could argue that the church has become too lenient on the issue in recent years and needs to do what Jesus did: stand against rather than with the culture” (442).

    3. Gagnon offers sever other factors that make divorce a very different issue than that of homosexual intercourse: (A) few in the church today would argue that divorce is to be “celebrated” as a positive good (at best, it is the lesser of two evils); (B) Unlike the kind of same-sex intercourse being proposed by some in the church today, divorce is not normally a recurring or repetitive action (except, I suppose, in the case of those engaging in self-avowed serial divorce actions); (C) Some people are divorced against their will or initiate divorce for justifiable cause against a cheating or violent spouse (distinctions between victims and victimizers within a homosexual relationship cannot be used to justify homosexual intercourse).

    Just a few thoughts.

    Brent Cunningham
    Pastor of Spiritual Formation
    Timberline Church

    • Guest

      Hello, Brent. I hope this response finds you well, and I hope I make sense in my responses.

      1)”His line of reasoning seems to be something like, “Well, some Christians are acting immorally (through unbiblical divorce & remarriage), which must justify other Christians to also act immorally (same-sex intercourse).” That’s the kind of rationalization that any one of my four elementary aged children blush over when I call them on (meaning, even my six year old picks up on this faulty line of reasoning–“everyone else is doing it!”).”

      I would agree if that’s how I saw his argument.

      I think Mr. Wilson’s argument calls into question the church’s inconsistency in regards to addressing issues that are viewed as unscriptural. This leads to at least two questions that become readily apparent–at least to me.

      A–If the sins are commensurate, then why does the church seemingly ignore one offense while grabbing a torch and pitchfork for the other?
      B–If the church’s interpretation has evolved on what constitutes scriptural divorce, why is their a refusal to allow the traditional interpretations on same-sex intimacy to be reexamined?

      These questions require different answers based on which you ascribe to, but it still puts the Church in a position to account for it’s seemingly hypocritical approach to the issue.

      2) “However, not only does the Bible fail to make allowances for homosexuality activity, it consistently condemns such.”

      A lack of “allowances” does not automatically cause the issue revert to a default position. This is an argument from silence.

      Also, I do believe the passages considered to be unequivocal condemnation are a point for debate. I’d be glad to discuss them if you’d like.

      3. “Gagnon offers sever other factors that make divorce a very different issue than that of homosexual intercourse: (A) few in the church today would argue that divorce is to be “celebrated” as a positive good (at best, it is the lesser of two evils); (B) Unlike the kind of same-sex intercourse being proposed by some in the church today, divorce is not normally a recurring or repetitive action (except, I suppose, in the case of those engaging in self-avowed serial divorce actions); (C) Some people are divorced against their will or initiate divorce for justifiable cause against a cheating or violent spouse (distinctions between victims and victimizers within a homosexual relationship cannot be used to justify homosexual intercourse).”

      Ah, Gagnon. He’s many traditional interpreters’ favorite exegete.

      Point A makes the priori assumption that homosexuality is a sin. The basis of the argument must be true for the rest to follow.

      Point B overlooks the traditional view that Christ asserts unscriptural remarriage to be ongoing adultery.

      Point C ignores the fact that people do not choose to be gay. So, similarly, there is a point of no choice.

      Thanks for the discussion. I hope you are well.

    • R.A.

      Grr. Discus won’t allow me edit my posts, so I deleted the original to make corrections. Hello, Brent. I hope this response finds you well, and I hope I make sense in my responses.

      1)”His line of reasoning seems to be something like, “Well, some Christians are acting immorally (through unbiblical divorce & remarriage), which must justify other Christians to also act immorally (same-sex intercourse).” That’s the kind of rationalization that any one of my four elementary aged children blush over when I call them on (meaning, even my six year old picks up on this faulty line of reasoning–“everyone else is doing it!”).”

      I would agree if that’s how I saw his argument.

      I think Mr. Wilson’s argument calls into question the church’s inconsistency in regards to addressing issues that are viewed as unscriptural. This leads to at least two questions that become readily apparent–at least to me.

      A–If the sins are commensurate, then why does the church seemingly ignore one offense while grabbing a torch and pitchfork for the other?
      B–If the church’s interpretation has evolved on what constitutes scriptural divorce, why is there a refusal to allow the traditional interpretations on same-sex intimacy to be reexamined?

      These questions require different answers based on which you ascribe to, but it still puts the Church in a position to account for it’s seemingly hypocritical approach to the issue.

      2) “However, not only does the Bible fail to make allowances for homosexuality activity, it consistently condemns such.”

      A lack of “allowances” does not automatically cause the issue revert to a default position. This is an argument from silence.

      Also, I do believe the passages considered to be unequivocal condemnation are a point for debate. I’d be glad to discuss them if you’d like.

      3. “Gagnon offers sever other factors that make divorce a very different issue than that of homosexual intercourse: (A) few in the church today would argue that divorce is to be “celebrated” as a positive good (at best, it is the lesser of two evils); (B) Unlike the kind of same-sex intercourse being proposed by some in the church today, divorce is not normally a recurring or repetitive action (except, I suppose, in the case of those engaging in self-avowed serial divorce actions); (C) Some people are divorced against their will or initiate divorce for justifiable cause against a cheating or violent spouse (distinctions between victims and victimizers within a homosexual relationship cannot be used to justify homosexual intercourse).”

      Ah, Gagnon. He’s many traditional interpreters’ favorite exegete.

      Point A makes the priori assumption that homosexuality is a sin. The basis of the argument must be true for the rest to follow. I do not see the base of the argument as undebatable fact.

      Point B overlooks the traditional view that Christ asserts unscriptural remarriage to be ongoing adultery. So, in effect, the sin, if you hold the traditional view, is still one that requires repentance.

      Point C ignores the fact that people do not choose to be gay. So, similarly, there is a point of no choice. Gagnon concedes that remarriage after a divorce is sometimes a lesser evil, yet he makes no allowances for gay people to form a monogamous partnership?

      Thanks for the discussion. I hope you are well.

    • Lance Heath

      HI Brent, I think R.A.’s response to you is well worth reading. I think a quick read may mean one misses Ken’s nuances which are vital to understanding what he is proposing. I see it as a “middle ground” proposal to accommodate both sides – to allow both to continue to find each other, dialogue, learn from each other and fellowship with one another and most importantly to help one another grow. The simple reality is that there are God-fearing, God-loving, Christians on both sides of the fence … and they are either going to go their separate ways or learn to stick together despite differences. The latter will necessitate growth and maturity … but it will also foster growth and maturity. If Gay Marriage is wrong then surely Ga Christians will, as they grow more Christlike, outgrow it and repent in time. This can only happen if they are part of fellowship. If, however, those condemning it are wrong, then they too will come to understand things differently and drop their objections. This demands that we all admit we have not yet arrived, are not yet perfect, and still have a lot of growing to do … we see in part.

      Re Robert Gagnon’s work. I personally am grateful for his thorough and dedicated exposition of one side of the debate. It is quite clear from the outset which side he is arguing for. I think he would happily concede that he is not neutrally assessing the issue. And this is fine. He has made up his mind. He clearly feels that on this issue he has arrived and has no more to learn. Maybe he has moved onto other issues. Personally I prefer to keep an open mind and more importantly an open heart to hear from God. And as I have considered BOTH sides from many angles and through many authors I have discovered what I think is a huge gaping hole in Gagnon’s work. This is the main reason I am glad for it. I really, sincerely think that ALL the Biblical references to actual (as opposed to threatened) homosexual activity in the Bible are actually references to homosexual male cult prostitution. There is definitely no proscription or sanction against homosexual marriages (and this despite Emperor Nero marrying two males – Sporus and Pythagorus – in two very public ceremonies which the early church must have known about). Still the only explicit condemnation of homosexual activity is within the narrow confines of the then widely spread fertility cult rituals (which have obviously all but disappeared by today). For these rituals to happen a number of laws had to be broken: idolatry, adultery, promiscuity, exploitation, dishonesty (false gods) … no wonder the punishment was so severe. It is abundantly clear how these activities transgressed Jesus’ Great Commandments to Love. It is equally clear that Gay Marriage does not break any of these laws … in that there is no harm and no victim. It is for this reason that I believe God is quite happy with Gay Marriages. And my own life bears testimony to this as I thank Him daily for my relationship with my partner, am drawn ever closer to God through it and am transformed into His image (made more loving) on an ongoing basis through this blessing.

      Please reconsider your objections to Gay Marriage. A legalistic understanding of the text – especially one that insists on taking it at face value will inevitably put you at odds with the spirit of the law: the Spirit of Agape.

    • Nor

      Would it be fair to say, given what you’ve said, that straight people are ruining marriage for everyone else?

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  • Nor

    Just like to put one thing up here. This is the popular voted in winner of this year’s Eurovision contest, Austria’s entry. 125 million viewers. It’s like American Idol but on a much bigger scale.

    Look on Youtube for Conchita Wurst – Rise Like a Phoenix (Austria) 2014 Live (I think the semi-final version is better)

    And yes, I’m sure the flames are a deliberate but gentle poke, as I’m sure someone will respond on that theme.

    I think the point is, to borrow an evolutionary message, adapt or perish.

    Between that and Sam, you’re in a bit of a spot.