Category Archives: Homosexuality

What Is Expected And Reasonable?

Reason has more than one side. That which is reasonable and fair has to have other considerations than simply an “imposition” which is what “reasonable” is when it is one sided. A very poor constructed sentence, but it depicts exactly the mistake many are making today when they claim that “modern changes in societal rules and even laws” cannot be challenged by those who have benefited for centuries by the old ways even if it has been proven for centuries that the old ways have worked well and may not require changes.

Christians, and all kinds of conservatives, or other derogatory names one wants to use for this group not only have the right, but the duty to, and in fact, are doing society a favor, when they contest, protest and manifest against the rapid changes in society today because some of these changes have no track record of benefiting humanity. It seems that scholars and scientists will always appeal to history, evidence and a track record of fact to ascertain that whatever issue they are attempting to establish is feasible and that its implementation will be of a benefit to all. Except when it comes to issues where religion and/or tradition is involved. Then, who needs evidence, who needs history, who needs facts? It is almost as if they have made up their minds: “If it is religiously or traditionally prescribed, then it is wrong; let us change it”, even when in fact, there is history, a time span as old as history itself, that the old ways have worked so far.

No, this is not to say that we should not change and modernize society and make if fairer and comfortable to all! This is simply to say that it is fair for Christians and all kinds of conservatives to struggle with the idea of change for “change’s sake” in that which they perceive to be a threat to what they have known as the best for humanity in general. Not always stating that something is wrong is purely a religious exercise. Although I acknowledge that more frequent than not it is a religious exercise, some are sincerely concerned whether the recent changes in society, such as marriages, rules about “respecting other cultures to the point of surrendering to them” may not be solely basing their concerns on religion. People can protest for other reasons and it is fair and good that they do so when changes are in the process of proving itself as useful to society as it is for a group within that society, who, because of factors beyond our understanding, decided to impose their view of society upon all others.

I am a firm believer that one cannot legislate religious beliefs, no matter how well intended they are. Equally, I am a firm believe that one, or a group, cannot legislate their religious unbelief on others. In both counts protest is fair and acceptable. A great scholar is all over social media spreading the notion that Christians are attempting to legislate their beliefs upon society. Well, the facts belie such a scholar, who is not and cannot be a scholar in predicting the future consequences of changing society on society itself! Non-Christians are indeed imposing their beliefs, rather, their unbelief upon Christians with the aggravating circumstance that they practice such imposition against the will of the people of the community they choose to impose their unbelief. I am fully aware that we have to check if an acceptable degree of legal fairness is being afforded to all citizens and not only those who would prefer that tradition would remain as it has been for ages. However it is not by winning in courts that the imposition occurs; the imposition occurs when business, people who exercise their individual conscience, religious or not, have to comply with the peripherals of their victory and now have to act totally contrary to what they have held as truth functioning and comfortable to their own life styles all these years. So, by imposing, forcing, people to comply with their wins, those who win by the act of a single often non-elected office of the court, with his own biases and prejudices, reverse the issue of unfairness and begin themselves to act unfairly. Again, the facts have proven that Christians and other conservatives are adapting to the world that now surround them, but they should not have to live as a blind man by the road side taking whatever others dish out to them; they can rightfully establish limits. Certain services and profession when exercised to a person or group imply endorsement of that group or person. If you do not understand that you have never been in business, and your position is fully understandable. The refusal, however, of a businessman to provide services that automatically imply his endorsement and participation in that which he does not agree should be expected and understood and such understanding would be reasonable!

By now most presume to know that about which I am talking. No, for your surprise it is not only the issue of gays; it is also the celebration of America, American values, supposedly Christian symbols (that are not really Christian), and those that are indeed genuine Christian symbols, the liberation of drugs, and now some ridiculous rulings, which are too ridiculous to mention. People of faith and out of faith who want to preserve a certain heritage without waiving, who love to wear shirts that extol the quality of their military relatives, American Flags, etc. who feel threatened by lawsuits and other artifices of the “indignation industry”, and yes, those who do not agree with abortions and the gay issue, should not now, all of a sudden, be forced to comply or else. What is reasonable? If we want a fair society, then lets offer fairness rather than demanding it and in the process progress in an environment without hostility and division, and such environment is not a fertile ground for corrupt politicians, but not having corrupt politicians coming out of every sewerage is a fringe benefit of this new world of fairness!   That is expected and reasonable!

how to argue and not argue for #LGBT inclusion in the #UMC

St. John United Methodist Church in Anchorage ...
St. John United Methodist Church in Anchorage Pride march, 2010 (Photo credit: yksin)

This is a current discussion, you may have noticed, in the UMC. I thought I might just think aloud for a moment and ask you for your thoughts.

There are several reasons one can argue for inclusion (the term used to denote ordination to LGBT, etc… inside the UMC). There is usually one used to argue against inclusion  — “the bible.”

How to not argue for:

  1. Please do not suggest that because society is moving in this direction, we should too. The Church is no beholden to society, else we could argue against inclusion and instead for cleansing (i.e., murder) if we lived in Uganda. Society is relative. Society changes. Our society is not superior and thus should not be held as the moral absolute by which to measure the Church. Rather, the Church must push and pull society to a better morality. We must lead the way and not simply follow. If we do this, the Church becomes an appendage of society.
  2. Do not use the word “justice.” It is a word that has lost nearly all meaning when it comes to social, and legal, concerns because of the overuse. Not everything is justice.
  3. Do not argue for inclusion because “we need young people,” etc… See bullet point #1.
  4. Do not argue for inclusion because of “love.”

How not to argue against someone:

  1. Do not associate them with hate. There is a difference between hating someone and believing their lifestyle is wrong. Mainliners and more liberal Christians have lost the sense of sin. I believe in sin, but I may define it differently. I believe greed is a sin. Excess is a sin. But, do I hate rich people? No.
  2. Do not conflate all of those against inclusion into one pile.
  3. Do not marginalize. For the preachers of tolerance, the first thing they want to do is to marginalize those who disagree with them.
  4. Do not get offended so easily. Some are going to call you apostate, evil, servants of Satan. Let these things glide off your back.
  5. Avoid words like liberal, conservative, and progressive.

How to argue for inclusion:

  1. Do not be closed minded. Maybe you are wrong. If you are going to dialogue, dialogue. Discourse. Speak. Listen. Hear. Speak. Repeat.
  2. Find common ground so that even if you get to the point where you want to throttle another, you will find a place to stand together.
  3. Use Scripture. If you are a Christian, more likely than not, you will have Scripture as the basis of your faith. The more you perceive yourself as conservative, the more you will focus on Scripture. Therefore, if you are going to argue with someone, understand where Scripture (and what interpretative methodology) they use.
  4. Use Tradition. Argue for a progressive revelation beginning before Scripture and moving past Scripture. We accept the Trinity, among other things, because of Tradition. Therefore, Tradition is an authority. What has Tradition revealed? Discuss the fact that for the longest, women weren’t ordained. Discuss as well how natural law comes into this. If homosexuality is a sin, it is a sin because of natural law as defined by Rome through Aquinas. Of course, Protestants do not go this route. Help them to understand the role and value in Tradition, and the changes enshrined in Tradition (not to mention the decades of dialogue it took to make that change).
  5. Use Reason. This includes scholarship. Use theology. You simply cannot use this first. Why? Because Scripture predates scholarship; however, scholarship gives way to understanding Scripture. Be sure to understand both sides of the coin when speaking to a specific passage. Do you just argue why you are right, but argue that the prevailing interpretation is wrong because of X. Show that you know what is said and why it is said.
  6. Use Experience. Wesley’s experience was that of salvation. Understand this, that not all who say they are a Christian are in fact Christians. However, experience can be used to show humility. This is where the above three legs come into play. The Church has been wrong before. Christians have been wrong before. Are we so sure about this issue that we are ready to make concrete statements, either way? Arminians aren’t saved by Calvinists standards. Before Vatican II, Protestants were still heretics. Fundamentalists view almost all of Christianity as pagan or apostate. We can draw these lines of separation, but if we have the experience of humility — the same humility it took for us to first become Christian — then can we proceed with such concrete statements, either way?

So, what are your thoughts?

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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?

Brian Sewell Gay Writer and Broadcaster “I will not convert to Gay Marriage”.

Posted by Milton Almeida

Read here

It proves nothing but the fact that the gay community is not the “Borg”… the Collective Intelligence, as widely believed. Some do think on their own!