Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
May 9th, 2014 by Joel Watts

Homosexuality vs. the Trinity, or your heterodoxy is showing #UMC

Statue of the saint in St Athanasius' Roman Ca...

Statue of the saint in St Athanasius’ Roman Catholic Church in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My good friend Chad has blocked me from commenting on facebook. Perhaps it because I challenged him on his very unWesleyan bibliolatry by suggesting that he took Wesley out of context and as such, should not be a “man of one book.” However, as he has now proven himself almost heterodox in his need to see everything through the issue of homosexuality even to the point of willingly forsaking the Trinity, I am a former “Jesus Only” guy, and I believe in Christian orthodoxy, I feel the necessity to respond in the only way available to me. Given the recent conversations in the methoblogosphere about orthodoxy, this conversation will likewise serve as my entry into it.

First, I want to address the poorness of the post by Dr. Timothy Tennent. I realize this language may be somewhat shocking, but I assure you it not an insult to Dr. Tennent but rather calling attention to the lack of wealth of grace found in his post. For instance,

There are two main reasons why I do not like the term “progressive” to refer the faction within the UMC who are pushing for an ongoing re-imagining of the gospel, the debunking of biblical authority and a radical new morality in step with contemporary culture. First, the term “progressive” calls to mind the word “progress” and implicitly suggests that the “progressive” positions, if embraced, will move the church forward, rather than backward.

I agree that the terms conservative and progressive are haphazard and unlikely to generate anything except poor discourse. However, Dr. Tennent suggests that those who imagine a more inclusive church are intent on “debunking of biblical authority.” He then suggests that the term is rather opposite of inclusion. Sadly, this is the same tired argument many have had and still do have on women in the ministry among other dogmatic and doctrinal issues the Church Universal and sectarian has faced.1 He goes on to suggest that those who are argue for a more inclusive church stand against historic Christian orthodoxy. 

As I implied today, those who do such things are usually doing so from a position of power. For example, Arius argued for orthodoxy because he thought he had the Emperor’s ear. He did, for a while, until it threatened to destroy the empire through schism. Emperor Theodosius argued from a position of power when he issued the Edict of Thessalonica. Unlike Theodosius, Arius may have been the actual orthodox position for quite a while, at least in some quarters. Of course, by the time the centuries moved to Theodosius, he was orthodox and Arius the heretic.

What is orthodoxy? From the aforementioned edict,

It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our Clemency and Moderation, should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition, and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by PeterBishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict. 

(Or, we could go with the group that first defined orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic Church. How many of us United Methodist Christians are really “orthodox.”)

Orthodoxy, then, is allegiance, almost supreme allegiance, to the doctrine of the Trinity as defined in the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople. Indeed, if you have studied the Fourth Century for any amount of time, you will recognize many of some of today’s more questionable doctrinal positions, even universal reconciliation, were ignored, allowed, and even openly helded. These weren’t the issues. What was the issue was the nature of Christ in relation to the nature of the Father. As St. Athanasius put it so well in On the Incarnation, and I’m paraphrasing, what matters in all doctrine is if Son is of the same substance as the Father. While some Church Fathers could separate love and lust at a minute level, what must not be separate was the Father and the Son.

Now, let us turn to Chad’s take. He is not as adamant about the Trinity and its defense as he is tunneled in on homosexuality. He has decided to challenge Drew McIntyre who writes,

Part of why I don’t like giving a simple “yes” or “no” to those kinds of questions is that it cheapens a complex discussion. First of all this isn’t something that is remotely a chief piece of doctrine – this isn’t of the same order as the Trinity or Incarnation, which are our ultimate non-negotiables. 

Drew is absolutely correct. Chad, unlike the host of Christianity Tradition, sees no difference between homosoexuality and the Trinity on the level of what orthodoxy requires. He gives three reasons:

  1. The doctrine of the Trinity has arguably less Scriptural support than the Scriptural condemnations of practicing same-sex sex.
  2. I know some “Jesus-only” followers who are passionate about making disciples of Jesus Christ. 
  3. Why should a doctrine which is confined in large part to the intellect (most congregants, even pastors, cannot articulate the doctrine of the Trinity in a way that makes much sense, nor describe how it affects their day to day living) take precedence over a belief which affects both mind and body (as all sex does)?

He offers his reasons on his blog, which I am sure you’ll check out. Let me offer a rejoinder.

  1. Less support? False. First, I can argue for the Trinity by both Scripture and Trinity. The building blocks of the Triune nature of God is laid down before the birth of Jesus. In the New Testament, we read of entire books dedicated to supporting the notion that Jesus as God died. We also read that Jesus is the exact representation of God. As an academic and a theologian, I can argue for the Trinity from Christian Scripture, as well as the allowance for the full development of such a belief structure by later Church divines. Further, as Paul said, “Jesus is Lord,” is the only creed as a mark of salvation.Since homosexuality is not a point of salvation, but if contained as a prohibition in Scripture is a sign of good conduct, it something to negotiate over. Yes, we can speak of the 6 times people believe homosexuality is mentioned as important, but we could then speak of entire passages in Paul’s letters, the Book of Hebrews, and the Gospel of John that point to the necessity of Jesus as deity asr required for salvation. The earliest Christian creeds were centered on but a few things. Who was Jesus? Not once in the baptismal creed is a list of moral exhortations offered as required like doctrinal matters are.
  2. Muslims are passionate. Jim Jones was passionate. Others who purport to love God and Jesus are passionate. Passion doesn’t make a Christian. Further, are they really making disciples of Jesus Christ? I guess. Of course, then we have to ask, which Jesus? Is it the traditional doctrine of Jesus as God the Son, or is the rank heresy of patripassianism condemned by logic, reason, Scripture, and Tradition? In desperation, we make strange bedfellows. When we know we cannot win the argument by wit or fact, we seek numbers. As a former “Jesus Only” believer, let me testify that they are out of Christian orthodoxy not merely in regards to the solid history of Christian Tradition, but have so alienated the sacrifice that they have need to make their own Christianity divorced from the rest of us. It is not merely the Trinity we deny, but once we have removed the one true God, we replace it with idols — with the idol of “the bible,” with the idol of our “plain sense reading,” with our arrogance that somehow everyone else has gotten it wrong except for us.
  3. The inability to correctly articulate the Trinity does not reserve it to a matter of the intellect, but instead shows the ineptness of theological training. Here, Chad is ready to giveaway hundreds of years of teaching and doctrine — and the central tenet of Christianity — because he admits he and others, among whole congregations, do not understand it nor the importance of it. And yet, he believes we should be consumed with policing sex and attitudes towards sex. The Church didn’t start in sex. As a matter of fact, the Church started expressly because of the lack of sex. Rather, the Church is founded upon Jesus who as God the Son died and was resurrected to bring about salvation to all. It is not that they didn’t have a chance to speak about rampant sexual immorality — and they did, but the Church Fathers spent centuries defining and defending the nature of Christ in relation to the Father. How can we so readily throw it away?

Finally, let me call attention to the fact that “orthodoxy” either as a term and as a well defined concept is not in Scripture.

In this debate, our eyes are not upon Jesus. We have turned away from the cross and instead focus on our neighbor’s bedrooms. We have become busybodies, which is actually mentioned more than the act many see as homosexuality! If our focus is on sex, then we are not orthodox. Unless we can recover the Trinity and the Incarnation and especially what it means to us as Christians and as United Methodist Christians, we will all become heterodox. If we want to renew the United Methodist Church, if we want to renew Western Christianity, then we must seek to repair our lack of doctrinal care, concern, and knowledge.

Christ is before me, others beside me, the world behind me.

By the way, check out the comments in which the basis for some of Chad’s sexuality views are challenged because of the original language.

 

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  1. I realize that this is a red herring of sorts, but I feel compunction in calling out the historical trends of calling anything that challenges current views “unbiblical,” etc…
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

47 Responses to “Homosexuality vs. the Trinity, or your heterodoxy is showing #UMC”
  1. I stopped reading after the first sentence as it contains 2 lies. We are not nor ever have been “good friends” and I have not blocked you from commenting. You and all are welcome to comment on the blog.

  2. Scott Fritzsche says

    Fight nicely kids.

  3. We used to argue over the nature of Christ, the Trinity, and the physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Now we argue over whether or not a woman should have any control over her own body and whether or not boys can marry other boys. Oddly, much like the Bible, we seem unconcerned about whether or not girls are having sex with each other. Let’s hear it for patriarchy!

  4. Describing people who disrupt every General Conference and deliberately break their ordination vows as “those who imagine a more inclusive church” is charitable indeed. Methodists believe that scripture is the first authority and contains the only measure by which truth is tested. Here’s a small sample:

    Genesis 2:24: a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

    Genesis 1:28: Be fruitful and multiply

    Romans 1:26-27: That’s why God abandoned them to degrading lust. Their females traded natural sexual relations for unnatural sexual relations. Also, in the same way, the males traded natural sexual relations with females, and burned with lust for each other. Males performed shameful actions with males, and they were paid back with the penalty they deserved for their mistake in their own bodies.

    Leviticus 18:22: You must not have sexual intercourse with a man as you would with a woman; it is a detestable practice.

    Leviticus 20:13a: If a man has sexual intercourse with a man as he would with a woman, the two of them have done something detestable.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10: Don’t you know that people who are unjust won’t inherit God’s kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Those who are sexually immoral, those who worship false gods, adulterers, both participants in same-sex intercourse, thieves, the greedy, drunks, abusive people, and swindlers won’t inherit God’s kingdom.

    1 Timothy 1:9-10: We understand this: the Law isn’t established for a righteous person but for people who live without laws and without obeying any authority. They are the ungodly and the sinners. They are people who are not spiritual, and nothing is sacred to them. They kill their fathers and mothers, and murder others. They are people who are sexually unfaithful, and people who have intercourse with the same sex. They are kidnappers, liars, individuals who give false testimonies in court, and those who do anything else that is opposed to sound teaching.

    Jude 1:7: In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and neighboring towns practiced immoral sexual relations and pursued other sexual urges. By undergoing the punishment of eternal fire, they serve as a warning.

    Matthew 19:4-5: Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the creator made them male and female? And God said, ‘Because of this a man should leave his father and mother and be joined together with his wife, and the two will be one flesh.’”

    The people who have “have turned away from the cross” are the ones who try to justify themselves by claiming that ALL of these passages (and many more similar ones) are mistranslations, out-of-context, or time-bound, etc.

    • Rick, Methodists do not employ “plain sense” reading but use tradition and reason to interpret… something you haven’t done. Our history tells us that if we ignore the context and original meaning of structure we do ourselves and others harm something you have done.

      Proof text is something the baptist does, not the Methodist.

      • What “tradition” are you relying upon that says that homosexual can marry, be appointed clergy, etc? Homosexuals have never been allowed to marry in the history of this country. Sounds like you are relying soley on your own “reason”. But Methodists believe that scripture is the FIRST authority.

        • Rick, I find it…interesting… that you would connect Tradition to the length of this country.

          Reason is scholarship, context, meaning. Ad fontes!

          • Joel, Rick’s point still stands though, which is tradition is against you on this matter.

            Rick, you are in good company taking the plain sense of Scripture at face value, unless it contradicts some other scripture (which in the case of homosexuality, scripture unanimously condemns it’s practice).

            From John Wesley:

            “The general rule of interpreting Scripture is this: the literal sense of every text is to be taken, if it be not contrary to some other texts. But in that case, the obscure text is to be interpreted by those which speak more plainly”(Letter to Samuel Furly, 10 May, 1755).

            “Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it. You are in danger of [fanaticism] every hour, if you depart ever so little from Scripture; yea, or from the plain, literal meaning of an text, taken in connection with the context.” (Works, 11:429).

          • Chad, “literal” meant the original context… Not plain sense, else the meaning will change from generation to generation, culture to culture. I wish you weren’t as liberal as you are and return to the mean of the text, even Wesley’s words.

            Oh and yes, Tradition does stand against it, but tradition stood against women oridination as well… And against sex for pleasure.

      • Scott Fritzsche says

        While I am not on board with all of Catholic theology, I do think they do a good job in their description of the four senses of scripture.
        “Traditionally, there are four senses of Scripture, which are outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 115-119:

        Literal Sense: “[T]he meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture” (Catechism, no. 116), the actual event, person, thing described in the biblical text. The literal sense gives rise to the following three “spiritual senses.”
        Allegorical Sense: How those things, events, or persons in the literal sense point to Christ and the Paschal Mystery.
        Moral Sense: How the literal sense points to the Christian life in the Church.
        Anagogical Sense: How the literal sense points to the Christian’s heavenly destiny and the last things.”
        I do not know of any better explanation of the ‘senses of scripture’ so perhaps we can agree that this is a good definition going forward so that we are all speaking the same churcheese.

        • “the actual event, person, thing described in the biblical text” – yes, exactly. This was what the Reformers wanted to do, was to get back to this (ad fontes!). yet, today we think of “literal” as the same thing as “plain sense,” with plain sense the “what it says to be” bit. Thus, when people say “literal” what they really mean is what the words say to them without critical engagement and study. While plain sense is a form of reading Scripture and indeed often times a good one, it cannot substitute for the original (literal) meaning if there is a decision to make for the life of the Church.

          If you get a chance, read Henri de Lubac’s works on the 4 senses of Scripture.

          Chrysostom also helps.

    • Luke 14:26 If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

  5. Scott Fritzsche says

    I am not going to delve all that deeply into the debate here as I did what I could to state my position in an earlier blog. I will say a couple of things here though. First, many of the people in this debate have taken their eyes off the cross and it shows in how both sides to often treat each other. Jesus was very hard on those who perverted faith for their own gain, but I do not believe that the majority of those in this debate are of that ilk. When we treat each other poorly, we have taken our eyes off from the cross. Second, sexual ethics are incredibly important and should be discussed, taught and deciphered. They are handled in scripture and now, as through out history, we must struggle to discern proper meaning. Yes, I believe that I know the proper meaning. Yes, I am confident in it. No, I am not the author of truth. That is above my pay grade and I don’t want God’s job anyway. That means that while I am firm in my convictions, I can allow for the possibility that I am wrong. God will forgive our ignorance, not our disbelief. This is a journey toward Truth that we should be taking together, not stopping by the side of the road every 10 minutes to fight like this is a bad family vacation movie.

    • “God will forgive our ignorance, not our disbelief. This is a journey toward Truth that we should be taking together” <-amen.

      You are right, Scott – both sides have taken their eyes off the cross. And yes, I think the majority has not because we still have a church!

  6. Fascinating. First, the actual discussion. Joel, you make a good point about the Trinity being the center of orthodoxy, and other doctrines (even regarding salvation and eternal destiny) being seemingly less-essential to the church fathers who defended and clarified the doctrine. However, your run-down of imperial ecclesiastical power politics from Arius to Theodosius kind of undercuts your main argument, and makes it a little unclear what you actually believe. Is orthodoxy (using your definition of essential creedal theology) really true? Or is Nicene Christology simply the result of who won a power struggle? (Or are you going to say “both”?)

    And regarding your “friendship” with Chad – it would be a blessing indeed if the two of you could be mutually friendly or even polite conversation partners. But I must say your “overtures” do not appear very sincere. I do think Chad should read your posts, and he will be challenged, and he will sharpen his thinking. But I remember the post and response about which he blocked you, and to an outside observer your fixation on Chad in that blog post read as alarming and belligerent: “Chad” this, “Chad” that, “Now if Chad…” etc. and all the while co-opting his story to make your point. Now I realize that you’re not surprised to hear that from someone who would take his side in the argument (concerning the covenant community), and you got mostly cheers from people who agreed with you, so you may not give my two cents much credence. But seriously, your tone with him has been exceedingly disrespectful (and yet highly personal, which is a strong combination). I probably would have been a quick fan of your blog were not that my first encounter with your writing. (And will probably be a fan still since you explore some very scenic historical and philosophical trails). Anyway, grace and peace to you.

    • James,

      orthodoxy is true, but often times, those who argue the strongest for it are those who needed it to cement their power.

      No, he didn’t block me for the previous post – which wasn’t as you describe. he blocked me when I called him out on the idea of “all sufficient” and it’s anti-Wesleyan nature.

      As far as tones, perhaps you could start with my good friend Chad’s tone previously on this blog, on facebook, and his on blog where he accuses those who argue for inclusion and the BoD as being adulterers, etc… I mean, all I did was call him a hypocrite because of his need to transform the UMC into his creation when it was the UMC who welcomed him when no one else would.

      • You’re right; I mixed up those two threads and I apologize for not checking what I was referencing. I do believe that was part of the close context though. Don’t you see a difference between making statements about groups based on their ideology, and calling the public’s attention to a particular individual’s personal life. emphatically by name, in order to (attempt to) undermine their argument? Perhaps I have not read the particular posts you mention of his, and if Chad did that to someone else then he was wrong to do it too.

        And since you re-state it here, I think your core argument in your “Chad” post was simply incorrect. Even in your summary in this comment you twist the terms in an astounding way. How could someone be a hypocrite who simply entered into a community whose stated covenant he could keep and then expects others in the same community to keep the covenant they have already made? How could anyone find fault with that? Since when did simple integrity become hypocrisy? And since when are those calling for accountability and faithfulness desiring to make “their own creation”? That is all just so backwards. It is like one commenter on Drew’s post about schism today said in reply to his question of “What is your endgame? What do you want?” “What I want is our leaders to enforce the BOD. That is it. Is that asking too much?”

        I have not heard or read you use this language Joel, and I don’t presume you would, but your framing of Chad’s situation and the discussion of covenant reminds me of those who say the Discipline or the Bible is not meant to be used as a weapon – with “as a weapon” essentially meaning used in any way they don’t like, or any way remotely approaching “reproof or correction” – unless of course it’s against those on the other side. Earnestly desiring that the covenant be kept, that the rules be enforced, that a clear message about a huge part of life be communicated by our arm of Christ’s church which has one body that speaks authoritatively – this desire is not for schism, it is not to create something new, and it is not to use any weapon on anyone – it is simply to live a life together of grace and truth and peace without endless revisionist wrangling.

        To tie that back to the subject of orthodoxy… I would characterize the same yearning of many of us on the right wing in the UMC as desiring a shared Wesleyan orthodoxy. This means that besides the creedal Christological orthodoxy you advocate – and I am in full agreement with you there and thankful that at least we have made some progress from where we were a generation or two ago – we desire a soteriological (and dare I say hamartological?) orthodoxy which is Wesleyan in content and not only in form or style. That means we want be a church which Wesley would actually recognize if he were here, in message if not in practice. Again, I am not suggesting any new creation but simply an embracing of the standards we have always had. It can be frustrating for those who have read a great deal of Wesley, are intimately familiar with Wesley’s sermons and notes which make up our official Doctrinal Standards, to be casually called “not Wesleyan” in online discussions simply for advocating positions which are not currently popular, or not distancing themselves far enough from Calvinists, fundamentalists, or whoever else the bogeymen might be. And “not Wesleyan” is something I have seen often enough in Facebook discussions and blogs that it is becoming predictable. Wesley’s doctrinal standards contained a great deal of judgment and analysis on both personal salvation and social issues, for the purpose of spreading Scriptural holiness throughout the land, etc. Wesley was a strict disciplinarian, he expected his fellow Methodist preachers to preach the same message, and I doubt (though I surely may be wrong) he would recognize the firm separation presently being suggested between orthodox Christian theology and orthodox Christian moral teaching. (Distinction, yes, but separation, no.) But I could be wrong.

        • James, I’m going to attempt to answer your comment.

          Chad is a hypocrite because he refuses the same inclusiveness, even to the moment of thought, others now show him. Let us not forget that not all conferences would have to allow him – with the ability to judge from Scripture that divorced and remarried clergy are a sin. The hypocrisy is not allowing others the same grace he was shown.

          You see, I want the leaders to enforce the BoD as well – thought I believe it can be changed has it has before. That’s the problem. Chad came in when it had already been changed and now believes it unchangeable, demanding anyone who thinks otherwise leave.

          I too agree – we need a Wesleyan orthodoxy, but to argue for the view of “all-sufficient” is not Wesleyan. This is anti-Wesleyan when it comes to Scripture.

          I think I’ve answered your points, even if you will disagree with my viewpoints.

  7. Joel, I was a bit busy preparing for the NYAC dialogue last week, so thanks for handling this for me.

  8. I think Rick’s interpretation of homosexuality is the most valid since it quotes both the OT and the NT without any variance between the two. Although same-sex attraction may be innate, there is no Biblical basis for gay marriage. If there was, then marriage could be between bi-sexuals, polygamous, etc. because the Biblical model would be wide-open as many people would say they are in love in these other relationships.

    • “most valid since it quotes both the OT and the NT”

      Except, he is proof-texting based on the English translation. This is a logical fallacy.

      BTW, here are some of the “wide-open” definitions of “biblical marriage.”

      http://bobcargill.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/biblical-marriage.jpg

      • Seems to sum it up quite nicely.

      • The problem with the clever “biblical marriage” meme is that it misses the point of Genesis 1 and 2. In the context of the whole Biblical narrative, we know that marriage between one man and one woman was God’s original intent, in precisely the same way that we know man and woman were meant to be equal partners and not with one having dominion over the other.

        • James, by we believe that. Christian Tradition, as well as Jewish Tradition, as not always taught that. We believe it comes from a return to the original meaning because of serious study.

          So, why can’t we suggest the same thing for the other issue?

        • James, one thing about this comment here. If we are to take Scripture as a whole, and not canon within a canon – then we should understand the definitions of marriages have evolved over time, even in Scripture.

          But, getting back to Genesis 1. The language there is androgynous. So, male-n-female. Paul uses this language as well in Galatians.

          In Genesis 2, let us remember God’s first idea of a mate for Adam were the animals. I won’t bore you with the details of how Adam figured out those things didn’t work.

          • With divorce rates at around 50%, I bet many a man and woman have thought, I should have just got a dog (or a cat, if you are independently minded). Perhaps God (and Paul), were right! And the antichrists are divorce lawyers.

      • People using the definition “Biblical Marriage” is very strange. There is no definition of marriage in the bible. If they use Genesis as the definition, then you have to use Genesis to define the rest of the family. A true “nuclear family”. Adam and Eve’s children all having sex with each other to populate the world. Sounds like a pretty incest-filled, screwed-up family. Not to mention a 1st generation murderer. So, I prefer symbolic representations. Don’t push the envelope too far in using Genesis for definitions of family life.

        • Gary, it’s important to make the distinction of marriage as God intended and designed it to be (as both Jesus and Paul state) and what happens after “the fall.” The incest, polygamy, even divorce, are all deviations from God’s intended purpose and design, a result of sin in the world. As Jesus said, it was due to the “hardness of hearts” that things like divorce was permitted, not because it was holy or good. Same can be said, I think, of all the examples that meme portrays.

          • If you accept Genesis as providing a definition of biblical marriage as planned by God, then you have to accept incest between Adam and Eve’s children to populate the earth as a plan devised by God. Sorry, that is not an acceptable explanation for Genesis being used for family definitions. It simply does not make sense. Symbolic representation, no problem.

          • I disagree. Scripture is not silent on this matter, nor fuzzy. When sin entered the world a whole host of disordered relationships was introduced to us. Paul writes, “for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” (Rom. 5:13-14).

            Jesus sets the record straight, teaching that from the beginning, marriage was meant for one man and one woman. That is God’s design and any deviation from that design would be contrary to God’s intent for His creation.

            We can either conform to God’s design and rule for our lives or we can conform to our desires or what the world deems “good.” Augustine called these, “disordered loves,” which we all are born with. The path of holiness is in large part about restoring the effaced image of God we are all born into because of sin, re-ordering our “loves” under God’s rule, for we are not our own, but have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6;20).

          • Except… that “Jesus setting it straight” is an argument from silence.

          • Chad, I think 2 Clement gets it right.

            Specifically, Jesus said easy divorce. He didn’t say anything about raping a woman to make her your wife – like God seemingly commands.

  9. There was no concept of homosexuality in the ancient world. There was only sexuality, which was assumed to be, if you read the ubiquitous Apostle Paul, something that was difficult for the majority (of men)to keep under wraps, and which expressed itself in a variety of ways. We like to say, “the Bible clearly states…” I was recently working with Romans 1, and there is no mention of female homosexuality in the Greek. If you really take apart the grammar, it’s talking about men having “other than vaginal” intercourse with women. So what the Bible “clearly states” in many of our English translations is NOT what the Bible clearly states in the original text. There’s no mention anywhere in the Bible of female homosexuality. It’s also funny that when we get to talking about “same sex marriage,” we default to the idea of two men getting married and completely ignore lesbianism unless we (the church) are directly confronted with it. Oh, Patriarchy… you’re a tough old bird.

  10. And that the word “homosexual” had not been invented yet when God wrote KJV with his own personal finger from the top of Mt.Sinai in 1611, but was added, gasp! in later editions after it as coined by a German psychologist about 200 years later.

    In spite of my inherent and irreconcilable snark, I’m deeply concerned about the way the church has chosen to refuse to even participate in the dialogue, to a large degree, about same-sex marriage.gender identity, and sexual orientation. We hide behind those four words of impunity, “The Bible Clearly States.” About 150 years ago, preachers stood in pulpits and argued that The Bible Clearly States that slavery is state of affairs assumed and ordained by God. Moreover, 60 years ago, preachers were, and are in some places still today, standing in pulpits making the claim that The Bible Clearly supports Jim Crow, segregation,and “separate but equal” status between the “races” of humanity. I heard Dr. James Massey, an intimate of Dr. King, in an address to the full chapel of Anderson University, make the statement that the church has still not healed from the psychological wounds inflicted by using scripture to defend these blatantly wrong positions on slavery and race. What if, 150 years from now, we figure out we were equally wrong on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I’m saying here publicly, under my own clearly traceable identity, that we are wrong. I’d rather come down on the side of love (and perhaps be proven wrong) than the side of legalism.

  11. I might add, in regard to my personal identity, at great personal risk because my “tribe” not only disagrees with my position on this issue, but would not be beyond defrocking me for having it.

  12. Scott Fritzsche says

    Can we please stop comparing the civil rights movement, which has been correcting a societal ill through the civil process and same sex marriages and/or ordination in the church. Honestly, it cheapens the legitimacy of both. Yes, many in the church were wrong on civil rights issues and no one is saying that they were not. To understand why this is different, you need to understand that many (perhaps most?) on the right believe that same gender sexual behavior is a choice. One does not choose their ethnic heritage. This discussion is incredibly important and needs to happen and go forward, but it needs to do so in a manner that both sides have a basic understanding of the others position.
    There are a lot of statements that get thrown around about coming down on the side of love instead of legalism. However unintentional it may be, it has the effect of insulting the one that you disagree with. The implication is that if I think the lifestyle you live is wrong, I do not love you. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think that gambling is wrong, but I loved my grandfather, who had a gambling problem most of his life, immensely. He was a Methodist pastor who was eventually removed from his church for said problem. I love my bisexual teenage daughter immensely, but no, I do not agree with the manner that she has chosen to live her life.
    As for the church having a discussion, it has attempted to several times. The generally end up the same with the hard left and the hard right hurling insults and hurtful (and most often wildly inaccurate) comments at each other. The biggest problem is not that we have a disagreement, it is how we have chosen to disagree.

  13. Replying to replies doesn’t create readable responses on an iPhone. So Chad, where does Jesus specifically state marriage is between one man and one woman? Isn’t that in regard to divorce or multiple ex-dead husbands? And don’t use Genesis because it supports a pre-planned (by God) incestual family.

    I already posted this by Jesus:
    If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

    And Jesus said unto them, The sons of this world marry, and are given in marriage: but they that are accounted worthy to attain to that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:

    Seems as though Jesus (and Paul) think no one should marry. The danger of taking individual scriptures too literally, and out of context.

    My last post on this subject, because we are getting nowhere.

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