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.



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27 Replies to “The inevitable post”

  1. I will check them out, thank you. I also freely admit that this is a difficult and sensitive subject for me as well. It is difficult to maintain the balance of saying something is wrong behavior, while still maintaining the love required. I hope I did that.

  2. Given the context of related Old Testament prohibitions such as copulation during menstruation and withdrawal, the core biblical objection to homosexuality seems to be more related to its failure to produce children than anything more substantial. The morality is merely window dressing since, in some instances, rape is condoned.

    1. So that I may understand better, where are you referring to rape being condoned?
      Also, while procreation was certainly a priority for ancient Israel, and I would guess part of the motivation of God to issue these edicts, the overall theme of the three chapters in Leviticus that are in play here is separation from the land they came from and are going into. I also don’t think you would have had the same restrictions on homosexuality in the new testament if procreation were the primary issue.

      1. Scott, it does appear rape is sometimes condoned: Judges, when the tribe of Benjamin go and steal themselves some wives.

        And if not condoned, then not punished, such as in Deuteronomy when the victim must marry the rapist.

      2. Judges 21:10-24, Numbers 31:7-18, and Deuteronomy 20:10-14 condones sparing virgins taken in total war. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 permits forced marriage of female war spoils considered too desirable to kill. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 has victims of rape marrying the perpetrators thereof. One way of interpreting Exodus 21:7-11 turns daughters of the poor into sex slaves.

        Of course, it may be worth pointing out that firefights, shootouts, and the like can cause certain quite pronounced anatomical changes in young men that are conducive to less the gentlemanly behavior on their part. While cops and soldiers tend to be personally aware of this phenomenon, combat virgins are usually more oblivious.

        Also, even in an age where, figuratively speaking, the world has people running out its ears, biblical purists still use biblical arguments to justify their opposition to feminism and homosexuality. To suggest that this was not also the case a couple of thousand years ago is perhaps a little too naive for real world religiopolitics.

        1. Just like you said, for instance, Num 31, “permits forced marriage of female war spoils considered too desirable to kill.” The idea of biblical marriage of one man and one woman has absolutely no meaning. The woman/girl has no rights. Today biblical marriage, as in the bible, would be OK with child sexual exploitation, kidnapping, rape under the guise of marriage. Not to mention killing the girls parents to facilitate the process. So using the phrase one man, one woman, as biblical marriage, to argue against gay marriage is not logical. Other arguments can be used, but not biblical marriage. I actually have to say I like Milton’s idea of a blessing on a civil union via a church. Not an actual marriage. Although that is not going to happen. I hate to be sexist, but girls/women won’t allow it. Many of them have been programmed to pay for a BIG church wedding. Better to spent the money on a down payment on a house.

          1. Those inconvenient Old Testament verses fit into a broader pattern of less than gentlemanly behavior of biblical men in their affairs with women. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that the primary purpose of the Judeo-Christian faith, as well as the Judeo-Islamic traditions, is to keep women in subjection for breeding purposes.

            My objection to the foregoing chauvinist agenda arises from the fact that it is shrouded in a veil of smoke and mirrors morality rather than honest transparency. This disingenuousnesses makes the already suspect Bronze Age religion so much less appealing to the less gullible.

  3. Cool, thanks. Those are the places I was thinking of as well. I do believe in the command to be fruitful and multiply, but I think we have fulfilled it well, so we can take more care now lol. It might be the only biblical edict we have,as a world, carried out well. I don’t pretend to understand the rules of spoils in the old testament to be honest, and I have not looked at them overly close. I will be sure to do so though. I will say regarding the passages in Judges however, The story in chapter 19 starts with Israel having no king and everyone doing what they wanted, and the book ends with the same statement. I would suspect that instance and all that led up to it had less to do with God and more to do with the depravity of men. I would also agree that using the one man/one woman argument as a stance about homosexuality by itself is not very strong. I think it is part of the argument, is justified only through scripture, so as a reason for belief I find it strong, but as a point for discussion, it is a matter of faith. I could share it with you, but could not actually defend it outside of the bible says so.

    1. Bingo! Last verse in Judges,
      25In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
      Ok, just a verse. But if you expand king to Jesus, maybe you have something. But one good verse doesn’t make up for many morally shakey verses. Of course, unless you accept that the bible texts were written by men. With maybe, a dash of inspiration, like salt, used sparingly for a little taste.

      1. One of the interesting tidbits out there… In Judges, Israels starts off holy, with women leaders, respect for others, etc when they are self-governing and by the end of the book, they descend into perversity… when they start to want a government. #boom #libertariansforthewin

      2. It is a bit over simplified, but the lesson in the last few books of Judges seems to be that without an absolute sovereign over our lives, we will inevitably do as we please and sink into moral decay.

    2. Scott,

      I think that we have to separate what is historical fact and what is theological truth. If you get a chance, read Nt Wright’s book on this, presenting Scripture in the Anglican (and 3/4’s Wesleyan) tradition.

      1. I have read some stuff about it. The bible certainly contains a great deal of history in it, especially of the Jewish people, and most of it is unflattering to be honest. I will make an effort to check out NT Wright on it though. It shall be put on the list of books to try to pick up.

  4. Proof positive that, at least according to religious conservatives, the country is going to hell comes from a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and TargetPoint Consulting survey of “likely 2016 voters.” It found 53 percent of respondents had a favorable view of gays and lesbians, while only 42 percent found evangelical Christians to be equally desirable.

    On the negative side of the ledger, things were equally as dismal for evangelicals. Their unfavorablity rating was 28 percent as compared to 18 percent for the queer set.

    It seems this data is not a statistical quirk since, according to Gallup, approval of same-sex couples has been trending upwards for the past couple of decades.

    Not surprisingly, Millennials are on the cutting edge of the current acceptance trend. As always, the geezers are dragging their feet. Then, too, so are the non-college educated among us along with the religion addicted Deep South.

    More on these polling results may be found by going to:

    1. I think it is dangerous to split conservatives from liberals along one polarizing line. There has been so much media buzz on both sides of the issues that I am not sure if most people understand the issue in all truth. A fairly large number of people on the right believe very much in equal protections under law for same sex couples. The biggest issue is the word and definition of marriage. I think there would have been much less opposition if those protections were provided via a civil union rather than by “marriage”. If you were to ask me if I was “accepting” of same sex couples, I would probably not answer until there was clarification. Do I believe that they should have the same protections under law as the rest of us? Yes. Do I think that homosexual relationships are morally correct? No. Where does accepting fall in that spectrum? There is also the very real concern that increasingly anyone who believes that homosexuality is sinful behavior is automatically labeled as something vile. Let’s face it, no one wants to be called nasty names. As for the ” non-college educated among us” some of us are not so bad. The language of this split has become intentionally, and unintentionally hurtful from both sides to the point of anyone who is not decided or has a moderate view of things is squeezed out, so they are forced to choose one side or another on an issue that is very complex in nature. That is no good for anyone.

      1. Divisions are the essence of statistical analysis. It’s also a fairly common human trait. Were this not the case, who was Christian/saved wouldn’t be a big deal in churches.

        Most people don’t know the difference between marriages and civil unions any more than they can define the divisions between local, state, and federal/national governments in the United States.

        One reason pollsters ask these shorthand gay marriage-like questions is twofold. Complexity tends to confuse respondents. Also, an awful lot of people don’t like strangers calling up and asking nosy questions. Like television programming, they like things to be real simple so they don’t have to think too much.

        If you’re referring to “queer” being “nasty,” you may want to consider that the homosexual community has adopted the name in much the same way that Democrats have also started calling the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010” “Obamacare” like everyone else. Likewise, some African-Americans have exhorted to black community to not overreact to the N-word. (I would spell it out, but some white person would be sure to be offended!!!) Nevertheless, once these labels lose their shock effect, their use as word weapons disappears.

        It’s not that the noncollege educated are bad. Nevertheless, those without benefit of a broader expanse of knowledge do tend to hold Social Darwinist (an admittedly pejorative label if you want to discuss “nasty” names) that are – quite often to their detriment – not in their best interests.

        Educational ignorance is intentional. Were this not the case, secondary education (meaning high school) in the United States would not end in the eighth grade. (That’s right; the average high school graduate is a functional eighth grader!) By design, high school graduates are intended to be followers rather than leaders. Consequently, both politically and religiously they are more easily played like cheap violins. (And, yes, that is another intentionally pejorative description.)

        Moderation is significant only in dealing with normal statistical distributions – better known as the bell curve – with most people in the middle. That’s why, in theory at least, a teacher should have a lot C students, and not may A or F students. Think of it a Goldie Locks – not too hot, not too cold, but just right! Like churches, societies like most people to be just right. It makes things much easier for those in charge of things.

        However, there are other kinds of statistical distributions. One is bimodal. In a classic bimodal distribution, there is no hump in the middle. Much like Congress, there are dedicated Democrats and rabid Republicans, and not much in between the two. In this case, moderates are irrelevant because most individuals are lumped at the extremes.

        1. For clarification Nasty (in my uneducated parlance) is anything said to be hurtful. I can say thank you with enough venom that it is ‘nasty’. I find the idea of reclaiming words rather silly myself. Half of the problem with the offenses on both sides is that we keep reinventing words to mean something different thus enabling ourselves to take offense when we choose and then use the same language ourselves in order to ‘reclaim’ it. Again, both sides are guilty of this.

          I did not say that division is not normal, I said that the issues of homosexuality are more complex than yes or no. It is funny that so many on the more liberal end try to make it a yes or no question while at the same time condemning the conservatives for making it a yes or no question. Because of this I am skeptical of any data, supportive of my position or not, that mentions opinions about it. I think that those polls are part of the problem and unhealthy division, not part of the solution. I do believe that if such a thing could be measured, you would find that there are a lot more moderates than extremists.

          All the rhetoric, stats, etc are common debate devices used to confuse issues rather than contrast them. I learned that in my eighth grade equivalent high school debate class. They are not useful toward solving anything, they are just fuel for the extremes. The fact behind this, and many other issues, is that when the extremes try to ‘win’ everyone looses.

          1. Statistics are similar to navigation on that they offer some idea of where things are headed. As in navigation, if one doesn’t know where one is, or care where one is headed, then they don’t matter. Honestly derived statistics only exist as a threat to those with an agenda or who don’t understand them.

            Many Christians don’t like statistics for the same reason they despise science. Both can offer alternative sources of authority. This is why, in particular, fundamentalists with their inerrant KJV Jesus-spoke-English Bible as their de facto infallible Pope claim statistics confuse the issue. It is also why science is considered to be satanic.

            In many ways, the attitude of latter day fundamentalists toward science parallels the behavior of Roman Catholics when confronted with that theological heresy that eventually became the Protestant Reformation. As with medieval Catholics, modern fundamentalism is rigid, sanctimonious, self-serving, and out of touch with reality. It’s failure to deal with science in a rational manner is merely symptomatic of clinging to a Middle Eastern tribal Bronze Age mentality.

  5. “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.”

    Joel, please, receive my renewed and double respect for you, which is an improvement of perfection in and of itself which is quite a feat. I am not being sarcastic here, so much that I wish this quoted paragraph would be part of some plaque in the entrance of many church temples, if not entered in their Confessions and Tenets of Faith. Amen!

  6. Joel, not censoring is of such an enormous value and quality in the world of today among people of faith that you deserve as many pads on our back and words of recognition as crowd can give!
    In many blogs I stopped reading, this post, only because Scott mentions “sin”, I mean the word “sin” would be considered too offensive for their readers…

      1. I don’t know that we are all afraid to call sin a sin, I do think that part of the fear is legitimately the repercussions. I think that everyone here has experienced being called rather nasty names for an opinion or idea that differs. I’m not afraid to call sin a sin, but I am pretty tired of defending myself for doing so…not defending the position, I am fine with that, but defending myself. That is where I think the big problem is. I’m a homophobe, racist, and stupid and Joel is a heretic and false teacher and maybe even a blasphemer. None of those things are true, but all have been said.

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