The inevitable post

Rather than respond directly to the well thought out and intelligent post by Kevin M. Carnahan, I have chosen rather to attempt a humble presentation of a differing view. It is my hope that what it lacks in scholarship, it will make for in your understanding that it is born of a sincere faith in Christ, a deep love of God and a deep  love for people. By way of credentials, I have none save a love of God through Christ and a love of people. I am not as well studied as Kevin, nor am I as well schooled so I must rely on sources outside of my knowledge as well as what I have discerned and been taught. Any references to word meanings will be from ‘Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries’ and for anyone quoted I will do my best to include their names, credentials and where the quotes themselves come from. Recognizing the polarizing nature of the topic and the strongly held beliefs of many, I want to make clear as well that anything said here is in no way meant to be hurtful, but rather a statement on a position, not a statement on people. Any offense is unintentional and regretted.  I deeply believe in protecting and honoring the civil rights of all people and in serving any and all that I may irrespective of any characteristic about them.

I would like to begin with Leviticus 18:3-4 “Lev 18:3 You shall not do like the doings of the land of Egypt in which you lived. And you shall not do like the doings of the land of Canaan, where I bring you. Neither shall you walk in their ordinances. Lev 18:4 You shall do My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them. I am Jehovah your God.” (MKJV)

Recent archaeological evidence shows Ancient evidence survives of kingdom-sanctioned, same-sex cohabitation, as in the tomb drawings of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep. Found in 1964, these tomb drawings show two men, not royalty, but high ranking, face to face in a manner similar to other Egyptian drawings depicting lovers. They appeared in a Pharaoh’s  tomb which would indicate that there was societal acceptance of their union. The Pharaoh Akhenaten was believed to be bisexual and had even elevated his lover and half brother Smenkhare to be his co regent during his reign. These are just a couple examples that have been discovered. John Feinberg (B.A. English Univ. Calf. L.A.; Th.M systemic theology  Trinity; M.A. and PhD Univ. Chicago) and Paul Feinberg (B.A. Univ. Calf. L.A.; Th.M. Talbot Theological seminary Th.D. Dallas Theological Seminary; M.A. Roosevelt Univ.; PhD Univ. Chicago) noted in their work “Ethics For a Brave New World” noted the legal codes of several culutres including Egypt, Canaan, Mesopotamia, and Assyria prove that homosexual relationships were both known and tolerated. The few laws about such things were primarily in reference to rape and to false accusation. They reach the conclusion that the ancient near east was a world in which homosexuality was well known. Gordon Wenham (PhD Cambrige; lecturer at  Trinity College Bristol) has this to say in “Old Testament Attitudes to Homosexuality”

“The ancient near east was a world in which the practice of homosexuality was well known. It was an integral part of temple life at least in parts of Mesopotamia and no blame appears to have been attached to its practice outside of worship.” Rabbinic tradition also shares these views. These examples establish a culture that both accepted and practiced homosexual behavior in and outside of temple worship. These are also the cultures that ancient Israel was leaving (Egypt) and going into (Canaan). This sets the stage for the broad command from God to not do the things that these others are doing at the beginning of Leviticus 18, and as chapters 18-20 are one section unto themselves, all of the commands within should be taken under the broad banner of not doing the same things as the other cultures as commanded.

When we come to Leviticus 18:22 we find the homosexual acts seemingly linked to child sacrifice and/or dedications to Molech and by extension any pagan deity. The first thing I find interesting here is that immediately after verse 21, the prohibition against Molech, we find the phrase “I am the Lord”. As a literary device throughout the old testament, this phrase is often used to either start an especially important idea or to end an especially important idea. I think that there is the possibility that it is used here as a separation of the two things spoken of in this brief section, idolatry and sexual immorality. This is my observation alone and I have not heard it used anywhere else, therefore I am tempted to believe that it is of little significance, but I include it as the observation has stuck with me. Perhaps someone reading has some thoughts on it. We find it reasonable in our day and age to separate our acts of worship from our day to day activities, but in the ancient near east, there was not such a separation. Most ancient cultures, including those in the near east, operated in a theocratic system where the supreme deity on spiritual matters was also supreme in civil matters. A modern parallel are theocratic Islamic nations.  If something is outlawed as an act of worship, it is by default outlawed as a civil practice, likewise if something is outlawed as a civil act, it is also outlawed as a religious act. This was the cultural norm, so when reading these verses we must keep this in mind. I also find it difficult to believe that this action is limited only to cult prostitutes in light of Deuteronomy 23:17-18. Here we find a rather specific mention of cult prostitutes in another section of scripture dealing with purity. I find it reasonable to think that if such a distinction were intended here, it would have been used. When the prohibitions on homosexual acts is repeated in Leviticus 20:13 it also does not follow the prohibitions on child sacrifice also repeated in chapter 20:2-5. While a broad intent to call homosexual sex may not be evident in the verses in chapter 18, it’s inclusion with other types of sexual sin in chapter 20 seems to confirm that this was indeed a broad condemnation, not a condemnation focused on cult worship. Robert A.J. Gagon (associate professor of NT at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (B.A. Dartmouth, MTS Harvard Divinity School, PhD Princeton Theological Seminary) in “The Bible and Homosexual Practice” agrees with this assertion as well, as does William Loader (BA (Auckl) – Bachelor or Arts (classics) (1966), University of Auckland, New Zealand,Ministerial education (1964–1967) at Trinity Methodist Theological College, Auckland,BD (Otago) – Bachelor of Divinity (1968), University of Otago, New Zealand,Dr theol – Doctor of Theology (Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (1972), Mainz, Germany), a supporter of same sex relationships, in “The New Testament on Sexuality”. To make clear, William Loader has other arguments for same sex relationships, he simply agrees with the interpretation of Leviticus. I do not wish to misrepresent his over all position.

As we jump forward to the new testament, we come to the issue of the silence of Jesus on the matter. As He did neither affirmed nor condemned homosexual behavior specifically, we are left to rely on how He handled other matters of the law in the new testament. When the law needed to be clarified, Christ went to great lengths to do so. Because of this, how we see the old testament on the subject becomes enormously important. As my position is that the old testament has said that this behavior was not pleasing to God, Christ’s silence on the matter specifically only reinforces that there was nothing more to say on the matter and that the understanding of the old testament by the Jews of the day were indeed correct. I would make note that just as Christ did not allow the stoning of an adulterous woman, nor, do I believe, would He allow the stoning of anyone else. I would also note that in the extra biblical rabbinic writings there is no record of a homosexual being stoned seemingly indicating that the practice was either abolished successfully in the Jewish culture or was at least very well hidden. The fact that Jesus said nothing on the topic should not be interpreted to mean it was allowable or not, rather it should properly be interpreted against the scripture as He knew it (the old testament) and if there was not a clarification, then the old testament understanding of the day remains as authoritative.

In Romans 1:24-32 we have Paul outlining briefly the consequences of unbelief listing many things, of which homosexuality is one. Essentially Paul is explaining that the consequence of not accepting the power of redemption God provided through Christ is continued sin. Homosexuality is not the only thing listed here and that is of note. The other things listed are envy, murder, pride, back biting, etc. Most of us would not argue that these things were unrighteous behavior, so it seems odd to only remove the sexual aspects from this list. It would also seem odd to say that since this is referring to those who do not believe that it does not apply to homosexual Christians, as, even though a Christian may commit any of the sins on this list, it is not excused as being somehow suddenly not sinful behavior. 1 Corinthians 6 is nearly the same warning. The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom. Again we find a list of examples of unrighteous behavior. Again we find that Christians can display these things on occasion, and it be counted as sin, but should not be engaged in these activities as habit. In 1 Timothy 1 we find Paul explaining that the law is not written for the faithful, but the unfaithful. Again he lists examples of the behavior of those who are not faithful. Again in this list we find homosexuality and other things. Again we find that the other things listed we would not have any problem calling unrighteous behavior. These seem to allude to homosexuality being unrighteous behavior. Again we find them agreeing with the old testament narrative that I had laid out previously.

So we come to today and what does it all mean today. I would suggest that it means the same thing as it always had. Sin is sin and I believe homosexual behavior falls into that category. In the same way, I understand that we all have sinned and will sin. We need to continue to seek justice and protection for everyone in our society and need to continually try to balance those protections with our faith. We need to live a life of love for God and service to others no matter who they are.  God’s grace and forgiveness is, and until the end of this world, always will be available to everyone that will accept it. God’s grace will continue to transform us closer to the likeness of Christ. The Spirit within us will continue to convict us of sin toward that end. As to who gets into heaven and who does not, that is above my pay grade and I am glad for I fear that I would not be able to in good conscience allow myself in. As with any disagreement over an issue there is a right side and a wrong side, and I believe that God, in His infinite mercy will forgive our ignorance of which side is what, just not our disbelief in Him and Christ and Him crucified.

 

 

An ethical take on homosexuality in Scripture

I wanted to highlight this particular post again because I hope to raise some discussion about it. Those who believe Scripture condemns homosexuality often accuse those those who do not of theological liberalism and throwing away the Bible. Yet, that is not the case. I believe that as a Christian, Scripture is an authoritative guide; however, we must use it reasonably within the framework of our theological tradition and not simply how we desire to read it.

No doubt there would be some in this society that would suggest that the text is being incorrectly read. These verses, they would say, are not about heterosexual sex in general, but about particular problematic instances of male/female sexual acts. They would suggest that we need to read these passages more carefully in historical and cultural context. Going point by point, they would argue something like the following

So read the post and tell me what you think. His logic flawed?

Don’t ask me! Ask this lesbian and academic!

I dind’t say it! Don’t kill the messenger!

camille paglia“Homosexuality is not ‘normal.’ On the contrary, it is a challenge to the norm; therein rests its eternally revolutionary character Queer theorists – that wizened crew of flimflamming free-loaders – have tried to take the post structuralist tack of claiming that there is no norm, since everything is relative and contingent. This is the kind of silly bind that word-obsessed people get into when they are deaf, dumb, and blind to the outside world. Nature exists, whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single, relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. Penis fits vagina; no fancy linguistic game-playing can change that biologic fact.”

Read more here - this is only one web site that quotes her on that. If you are interested in the issue through her perspective you will have to check for yourself!

My point in publishing this here is, to my self-acknowledged ignorance of her work, and knowing that many of you are aware of her writings on the issue, and perhaps other articles are published about her in this and many other blogs, I didn’t know that within the “gay” campsite there was someone as “not so fond” of gay activist as I am. Note: I object to gay activism! All the accusations that I receive for saying this are a violation of the 9th Commandment and pure slander! I have stopped defending myself for my view both to the fundamentalist as well as to the activists, including some academics, since I get it from both sides. I just submit this for perhaps you will find that what activists proclaim (again, including some academics) about gays is still open for discussion; at least is still in the realm of theories, which is not and should never be a reason for Christians simply to bash a gay person whereas still debating the issue as they see through the perspective of their faith.

Refrain form primarily drawing and posting conclusions about my views in your comments. I pride in having a good record in dealing with persons and the issue. Deal with her view here as quoted in this doctor’s Web Site, which I used because I founded to be the less clouded and cluttered one. Comment at length but don’t kill the messenger just yet…

Wedding cakes and flowers

wedding cakeAllow me to be the “contrarian”, but before labeling the author of this article and its main thrust, “anti-gay” or “homophobic”, fundamentalist or a “fun the mentalist”, please, please consider his proposition. Then, call it whatever your emotion prompt you to call him.

Read here. “Of Consciences and Cakes: A Response to Kirsten Powers”

no, it is not about sex; or, why the UMC should have more intercourse.

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a well-written post on the current debates regarding the pastors who are forsaking the Book of Discipline, David Watson writes,

Church law matters because it allows us to go about our work together. It is not always right, but it is a necessary way of organizing our corporate life.  Apart from this realization, the UMC cannot exist.

via Church Coffee: This is not about sex.

Intercourse, the title of this post, is not just about sex. Intercourse is about the exchange of ideas and the connection between people.  The Book of Discipline is our intercourse. It is how we exchange our ideas and form our connection. When it is broken, we no longer have a connection. A sexless marriage is a roommate situation. An intercourse-less UMC is a baptist denomination.

News is breaking almost constantly of UMC pastors who, in breaking their vows to God and to the rest of the UMC, decide to officiate homosexual marriages. This is against their promise to uphold the BoD. I wish news would break equally about UMC pastors who refuse to follow other rules, such as the social principles, but alas, no news exists.

You know my position on this. Whether it is achieved by Luther’s Two Kingdoms or through the 14th Amendment or because I believe it is right, homosexual marriage should be allowed. There are a lot of sins, but I do not believe this is one of them. Further, I believe the denial to the human the right to love is an abomination to Natural Law and is in of itself a sin.

If the BoD was unchangeable, then the avenues the pastors are traveling may be more acceptable; however, it can be changed while maintaining the proper place for Scripture. Therefore, I cannot follow these pastors who would break the BoD. After all, I don’t support the more conservative pastors who likewise break the BoD.

There are two comments on Dr. Watson’s blog I wanted to respond to, but did not feel his blog was the proper place. In one, a commentator decries bigotry but uses the ignorant phrase regarding pharisees. This is a self-inflicted wound, but it is one showcasing a lack of introspection. The other one is rather jumbled, more so than my usual lack of writing skill. To deny that homosexuality is a sin is not to change the authority of Scripture. Rather, it is to uphold the authority of Scripture in all matters of salvation. What we deny is the usual interpretation. These are the same arguments that once revolved around women ordination and segregation. Scripture is primary in the United Methodist Church and must remain so, however, we must allow that our opinions about it are not.

We need less sex in the UMC and more intercourse. We need that connection rather than momentary meetings, such as General Conference or Annual Conferences. Rather, we need to respect one another in our connection and try to resolve these tensions without ignoring the concerns of the other party.

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My latest on @HuffPostRelig – Don’t read if you like me

Some, mainly Jim, will not like what is said. Of course, many will refuse to unpack what I’ve said and instead read it as a set-in-stone. Of course, Jim has sworn off reading Huffington Post, so whew… he won’t read it anyway.

Joel L. Watts: Finding a Christian Way Forward on Gay Marriage in the Things Unsaid.

The thing with theology… it changes. It changes due to time, information, context.

I am not ready to let loose our dusty old texts, but I would gladly limit them to the Christian sphere where they rightly belong. Indeed, I am convinced if we let loose these things that so fill our modern viewpoint, we would be groundless. But, that is another discussion for another time.

I am not convinced, given the advancements in understanding history, science, genetics, and the such, that we can continue to promote the idea that Scripture teaches against the modern definition of homosexuality. Just as there is a modern definition of marriage, there is a modern definition of sexuality. These things are different than what we read in Scripture.

New Game: What does the bible explicitly state?

So, the Southern Baptist Church is moving away from the Boy Scouts, because nothing says being like Jesus like moving away from children, even children you find vulgar, even children who represent what you consider the sickest of sins…

But, it is one statement in this that has caught my attention.

For Southern Baptist pastor Tim Reed, it was Scripture versus the Scouts. “God’s word explicitly says homosexuality is a choice, a sin,” said Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

So, let’s play a game. Explicit means “fully revealed  or expressed without vagueness.”

What does the bible explicitly state? Now… the rules are simple:

  1. If the stated view can be challenged by another verse, then it is not explicit.
  2. You cannot deny facts such as historical criticism, or even lexicons.

So, what does the bible explicitly state?

Go.

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A question about biblical/human sexuality

Reading about this is what first made me step back and begin to examine human sexuality and Scripture.

What isn’t obvious is that I have a rare condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome, or AIS. I was born with XY chromosomes, the combination found in boys. With AIS, an XY embryo doesn’t respond to the crucial hormones that tell the penis and scrotum to form. At the earliest stage of life, my body missed those signals, and I developed as a girl, with a clitoris and vulva. But what’s inside me doesn’t match

Woman with AIS Disease – Women Has X and Y Chromosomes – Marie Claire.

As you read, you’ll note she had testes and an, um, pouch. Well, you’ll see.

Now, for a serious question. This is not covered in Scripture (and some would argue homosexuality is not either) so what do we do? And, if this is the case – as has been revealed by modern medical science, what then do we say about the nature of homosexuality? Since this is an argument some use – against nature, or unnatural – what if it is a natural formation in the species? What then? Is the part of the person the defining characteristic of the whole of the person? In other words, if said part of a person is by nature useful for only one thing, but the nature of the full person is assigned to something else, what then?

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Is The Christian Concept of Gay Conversion Therapy Fundamentally Flawed?

Following my earlier post on an upcoming Christian seminar pushing the validity of ‘Reparative Therapy’ or ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’ I received the following Tweet:


This set off a lightbulb within me and a chain of thoughts.

If Christians regard homosexuality as a spiritual issue – and the practice as a sin – then why turn to ‘gay conversion’ psychological therapy.

Is it that some Christians believe homosexuality to be a mental disorder that can be treated? This explanation is the only reason I can think of to advocate psychological therapy.

If not a mental disorder, then continuing this line of reasoning, if psychological therapy is appropriate for this particular ‘spiritual problem’ then why not all spiritual issues?

Why is psychological therapy not advocated for all sinful temptations?

Could it not be equally argued that all sinful temptations are environmentally produced – as opposed to hard-wired – and in need of rectification through psychological therapy, as is posited for sexual orientation.

If sexual orientation is a mental disorder to be ‘cured’ through therapy, can we confidently even consider the practice of homosexuality as sin any longer?

Are sexual orientation temptations in some way qualitatively different to any other temptations of the flesh?

Of course, the irony is that those Christians pushing for Conversion Therapy are usually to be found most ardently in the anti-psychology camp.

These thoughts have only just occurred to me and so I’m thinking on the fly.

Feel free to chip in.

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