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    Christian Theology - Thread: Homosexuals and salvation

    1. #11
      atpollard is offline Prodigy Member
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      When I got converted, God called me to leave the gang violence, arson and criminal enterprise behind. Jesus gave me a new heart to enable me to do what He had asked of me. I see no reason the Father, Son and Spirit would not require and empower other sinners to leave their old life of sin and death behind and walk in the new life that He had called all of us into ... including all forms of sexual impurities.

    2. Likes tango, MennoSota liked this post
    3. #12
      hill is offline New Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by psalms 91 View Post
      It is sin no matter how they choose to twist scripture and an abomination nbefore God
      Romans 2

    4. #13
      Josiah's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by tango View Post
      Answering the question based on a conservative reading of Scripture (simply because a more liberal reading renders the question pointless).

      My understanding is that Scripture teaches that homosexual acts are sinful. To say something like "homosexuality is a sin" is somewhat misleading because it fails to differentiate between the desire and the action. For a man to desire other men is no more sinful than me desiring my neighbor's wife - what matters isn't whether or not the desire exists but what we do about the desire. Our actions determine whether a temptation develops into a sin - just as if I respond to a desire for my neighbor's wife by lusting after her, mentally undressing her or pursuing a physical affair with her then I fall into sin whereas if I respond to it by doing none of those things I do not sin, so a man who desires another man has the freedom to choose whether to follow a path of lust and sexual activity (falling into sin) or to resist the temptation (not falling into sin).

      Although homosexuality is very much a battleground as far as the Christian faith is concerned there is really no need for it to be. Speaking as a former occultist there is a clear comparison. I am still sometimes tempted by the power offered by the occult - in that regard I'm really not all that different to the man tempted by his sexual attraction to another man. Having been involved in the occult, when I came to Christ I needed to stop the sinful activity but the temptations will probably follow me for the rest of my life. Likewise someone coming to Christ needs to stop sinful activity (whatever the nature of their sin), but will also very likely face comparable temptations for the rest of their life.

      It's not like the devil doesn't know where we are likely to be weak, simply by observing the things we did prior to coming to faith in Christ. And in the context of a spiritual battle it makes sense to attack where we are weak rather than where we are strong. As a straight man there is no point in the devil trying to get me to fall by presenting me with a very attractive man, simply because I have no interest in men in that way - the devil would be far more likely to succeed by presenting me with something that might actually tempt me to sin.

      Unless you know a very large number of gay people it's probably not helpful to refer to "most of them". I've known a few gay people personally, and worked with several more. My experience is that they are no different in terms of showing respect than straight people - I don't think I have received a single unwanted sexual advance from a gay man. One gay couple I know are legally married - one of them is somewhat flamboyant but the other isn't one you would immediately figure was probably gay if you met him in isolation. Many of the gay people I worked with were no more open about their preferences than other people - only talking about their partners in more social contexts once a more social relationship existed with them.

      Yes, there are the "militant gays" out there who seem to exist to cause problems and find homophobia even where none exists, just like there are "militant blacks" who see racism around every corner and "militant women" who see sexism in every situation. Despite being the ones that get media attention it's probably safe to say they are a minority, just as the "militant Christians" like the Westboro Baptist "Church" are the ones who get media attention despite not representing what most self-professed Christians believe.

      What he said....


      1. Yes, ALL of us deserve nothing but eternal punishment if hell. ALL of us. Yes, those guilty of sexual sins (like visiting one of THOSE sites.... like having an impure thought about that girl in Calc class.... yup, they desire to FRY. But then so do those guilty of having ever regarded self as more important than our neighbor or those who ate poorly at the Golden Corral. We ALL deserve to FRY forever in hell. And if we want to start throwing rocks around, it might be good to note we are made of glass.


      2. A MESS is created when Law and Gospel are confused and blended..... we end up being little hypocritical Pharisees OR we end up with a terrified conscience.


      3. IMO, people are often most sensitive in the very moral issue they themselves are perhaps most guilty and where they struggle the most. A lot of people SECRETLY nurture their sexual thoughts...... like those special secret websites.... and then try to find someone they THINK is ever badder than self so that self can hold up self and say to self, "Well, at least I'm not as bad as THEM!!!!!" As if God grades on a curve.....


      4. I don't know why sexual sins get SO much attention (well... see # 3 above). I actually think the Bible may well condemn gluttony more often and boldly than it does homosexual acts. But where is the outcry over the 300 pound pastor? Where is the picketing of the "After Church" invasion of Home Town Buffet and all those Christians with 4,000 calories on their plate from just their first trip to the buffet? Where is the condemnation at the church potluck as George goes back for his 4th dessert? [Yes, I realize overweight isn't necessarily because of gluttony - but you get my point, OBVIOUSLY]. The opposite principle may be at work here: Some may say nothing about gluttony because they wish to give a "pass" on this (so as to not to condemn self) or the opposite: I may point it out because I have very little body fat and if anything am a bit underweight and I'm pretty uber-careful about my diet - thus feel SUPERIOR to so many others whom I may crush with my legalistic rocks (I DO have my sins, btw).


      5. A proper application of Law and Gospel is needed..... and that needs to be PERSONAL.



      - Josiah (the only sinless one at CH)
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

    5. #14
      tango's Avatar
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      Where pointing out sin is concerned it's easy to point out the sins that Bad Other People commit and a little less easy (not to mention less safe) to point out the things that might come to tempt me.

      If I stand in the pulpit and preach loudly and vocally about the evils of homosexuality it's a nice and safe topic because the chances of me ever being caught in a compromising position with another man are more or less zero. If I preach equally loudly and vocally about the comparable evils of adultery or pornography that's much less safe because I never know when some pretty young woman might throw herself at me when I'm weak, or when I might be on a business trip in a hotel room, missing my wife, browsing the channels.

      In many ways homosexuality almost invites the extra attention because it's so visible. If I'm cheating on my wife, if I'm watching hardcore porn regularly, nobody else can see. If I walk into church hand in hand with another man it's immediately obvious that something other than a Nice Proper Christian Marriage is going on so I effectively just painted a target on my back.

      For good measure if we see a young couple who we know aren't married walk into church hand in hand we don't immediately start making assumptions about whether or not their relationship is physical, we simply see a young courting couple. Would we extend the same courtesy to a couple who are identical in every respect apart from being of the same sex? Sometimes people seem to get so hung up on the whole issue of homosexuality they don't necessarily stop to think that a same-sex couple may not be involved in a physical relationship. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but it helps nobody to make sweeping assumptions about one couple while not making comparable assumptions about another.
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

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    7. #15
      tango's Avatar
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      Brief mod note, in case anybody noticed the thread was briefly locked and wondering why. I did it by mistake... a feature of the browser I didn't know about. Thankfully I spotted it and unlocked it - hope nobody got unexpected messages when trying to reply.
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

    8. #16
      Josiah's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by tango View Post
      Where pointing out sin is concerned it's easy to point out the sins that Bad Other People commit and a little less easy (not to mention less safe) to point out the things that might come to tempt me.

      If I stand in the pulpit and preach loudly and vocally about the evils of homosexuality it's a nice and safe topic because the chances of me ever being caught in a compromising position with another man are more or less zero. If I preach equally loudly and vocally about the comparable evils of adultery or pornography that's much less safe because I never know when some pretty young woman might throw herself at me when I'm weak, or when I might be on a business trip in a hotel room, missing my wife, browsing the channels.

      In many ways homosexuality almost invites the extra attention because it's so visible. If I'm cheating on my wife, if I'm watching hardcore porn regularly, nobody else can see. If I walk into church hand in hand with another man it's immediately obvious that something other than a Nice Proper Christian Marriage is going on so I effectively just painted a target on my back.

      For good measure if we see a young couple who we know aren't married walk into church hand in hand we don't immediately start making assumptions about whether or not their relationship is physical, we simply see a young courting couple. Would we extend the same courtesy to a couple who are identical in every respect apart from being of the same sex? Sometimes people seem to get so hung up on the whole issue of homosexuality they don't necessarily stop to think that a same-sex couple may not be involved in a physical relationship. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but it helps nobody to make sweeping assumptions about one couple while not making comparable assumptions about another.

      Amen.
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

    9. #17
      JRT is offline Rookie Member
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      Homosexuality and the Bible by the late Walter Wink,
      Former Professor of Biblical Interpretation, Auburn Theological Seminary, New York City.

      ***Homosexuality and the Bible

      Sexual issues are tearing our churches apart today as never before. The issue of homosexuality threatens to fracture whole denominations, as the issue of slavery did one hundred and fifty years ago. We naturally turn to the Bible for guidance and find ourselves mired in interpretive quicksand. Is the Bible able to speak to our confusion on this issue?

      The debate over homosexuality is a remarkable opportunity, because it raises in an especially acute way how we interpret the Bible, not in this case only, but in numerous others as well. The real issue here, then, is not simply homosexuality, but how Scripture informs our lives today.

      Some passages that have been advanced as pertinent to the issue of homosexuality are, in fact, irrelevant. One is the attempted gang rape in Sodom (Gen. 19: 1-29). That was a case of ostensibly heterosexual males intent on humiliating strangers by treating them "like women," thus demasculinizing them. (This is also the case in a similar account in Judges 19-21.) Their brutal behavior has nothing to do with the problem of whether genuine love expressed between consenting persons of the same sex is legitimate or not. Likewise, Deuteronomy 23:17-18 must be pruned from the list, since it most likely refers to a heterosexual prostitute involved in Canaanite fertility rites that have infiltrated Jewish worship; the King James Version inaccurately labeled him a "sodomite."

      Several other texts are ambiguous. It is not clear whether I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10 refer to the "passive" and "active" partners in homosexual relationships, or to homosexual and heterosexual male prostitutes. In short, it is unclear whether the issue is homosexuality alone, or promiscuity and "sex-for-hire."

      ***Unequivocal Condemnations

      Putting these texts to the side, we are left with three references, all of which unequivocally condemn homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 states the principle: "You [masculine] shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." The second (Lev. 20:13) adds the penalty: "If a man lies with a male as a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."

      Such an act was considered as an "abomination" for several reasons. The Hebrew prescientific understanding was that male semen contained the whole of nascent life. With no knowledge of eggs and ovulation, it was assumed that the woman provided only the incubating space. Hence the spilling of semen for any non-procreative purpose -- in coitus interruptus (Gen 38:1-11), male homosexual acts or male masturbation -- was considered tantamount to abortion or murder. (Female homosexual acts and masturbation were consequently not so seriously regarded.) One can appreciate how a tribe struggling to populate a country in which its people were outnumbered would value procreation highly, but such values are rendered questionable in a world facing total annihilation through overpopulation.

      In addition, when a man acted like a woman sexually, male dignity was compromised. It was a degradation, not only in regard to himself, but for every other male. The patriarchalism of Hebrew culture shows its hand in the very formulation of the commandment, since no similar stricture was formulated to forbid homosexual acts between females. And the repugnance felt toward homosexuality was not just that it was deemed unnatural but also that it was considered unJewish, representing yet one more incursion of pagan civilization into Jewish life. On top of that is the more universal repugnance heterosexuals tend to feel for acts and orientations foreign to them. (Left-handedness has evoked something of the same response in many cultures).

      ***Persons committing homosexual acts are to be executed. This is the unambiguous command of scripture.

      Whatever the rationale for their formulation, however, the texts leave no room for maneuvering. Persons committing homosexual acts are to be executed. This is the unambiguous command of scripture. The meaning is clear: anyone who wishes to base his or her beliefs on the witness of the Old Testament must be completely consistent and demand the death penalty for everyone who performs homosexual acts. (That may seem extreme, but there are actually some "Christians" urging this very thing today.) It is unlikely that any American court will ever again condemn a homosexual to death, even though Scripture clearly commands it.

      Old Testament texts have to be weighed against the New. Consequently Paul's unambiguous condemnation of homosexual behavior in Roman 1:26-27 must be the centerpiece of any discussion.

      ***‘For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their woman exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.’

      No doubt Paul was unaware of the distinction between sexual orientation, over which one has apparently very little choice, and sexual behavior, over which one does. He seemed to assume that those whom he condemns are heterosexual, and are acting contrary to nature, "leaving," "giving up," or "exchanging" their regular sexual orientation for that which is foreign to them. Paul knew nothing of the modern psychological understanding of homosexuals as persons whose orientation is fixed early in life, persons for whom having heterosexual relations would be contrary to nature, "leaving," "giving up" or "exchanging" their natural sexual orientation for one that was unnatural to them.

      In other words, Paul really thought that those whose behavior he condemned were "straight," and that they were behaving in ways that were unnatural to them. Paul believed that everyone was "straight." He had no concept of homosexual orientation. The idea was not available in his world. There are people who are genuinely homosexual by nature (whether genetically or as a result of upbringing no one really knows, and it is irrelevant). For such a person it would be acting contrary to nature to have sexual relations with a person of the opposite sex.

      Likewise the relationships Paul describes are heavy with lust; they are not relationships of consenting adults who are committed to each other as faithfully and with as much integrity as any heterosexual couple. That was something Paul simply could not envision. Some people assume today that venereal disease and AIDS are divine punishment for homosexual behavior; we know it as a risk involved in promiscuity of every stripe, homosexual and heterosexual. In fact, the vast majority of people with AIDS around the world are heterosexuals. We can scarcely label AIDS a divine punishment, since non-promiscuous lesbians are at almost no risk.

      And Paul believes that homosexuality is contrary to nature, whereas we have learned that it is manifested by a wide variety of species, especially (but not solely) under the pressure of overpopulation. It would appear then to be a quite natural mechanism for preserving species. We cannot, of course, decide human ethical conduct solely on the basis of animal behavior or the human sciences, but Paul here is arguing from nature, as he himself says, and new knowledge of what is "natural" is therefore relevant to the case.

      ***Hebrew Sexual Mores

      Nevertheless, the Bible quite clearly takes a negative view of homosexual activity. In those few instances where it is mentioned at all. But this conclusion does not solve the problem of how we are to interpret Scripture today. For there are other sexual attitudes, practices, and restrictions which are normative in Scripture but which we no longer accept as normative:

      *Old Testament law strictly forbids sexual intercourse during the seven days of the menstrual period (Lev. 18:19; 15:18-24), and anyone who engaged in it was to be "extirpated," or "cut off from their people (kareth, Lev. 18:29, a term referring to execution by stoning, burning, strangling, or to flogging or expulsion; Lev. 15:24 omits this penalty). Today many people on occasion have intercourse during menstruation and think nothing of it. Are they sinners?

      * Nudity, the characteristic of paradise, was regarded in Judaism as reprehensible (II Sam. 6:20; 10:4; Isa. 20:2-4; 47:3). When one of Noah's sons beheld his father naked, he was cursed (Gen 9:20-27). To a great extent, this taboo probably even inhibited the sexual intimacy of husbands and wives (this is still true of a surprising number of people reared in the Judeo-Christian tradition). We may not be prepared for nude beaches, but are we prepared to regard nudity in the locker room or at the old swimming hole or in the privacy of one's home as an accursed sin? The Bible does.

      continued

    10. #18
      DHoffmann's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
      What he said....


      1. Yes, ALL of us deserve nothing but eternal punishment if hell. ALL of us. Yes, those guilty of sexual sins (like visiting one of THOSE sites.... like having an impure thought about that girl in Calc class.... yup, they desire to FRY. But then so do those guilty of having ever regarded self as more important than our neighbor or those who ate poorly at the Golden Corral. We ALL deserve to FRY forever in hell. And if we want to start throwing rocks around, it might be good to note we are made of glass.


      2. A MESS is created when Law and Gospel are confused and blended..... we end up being little hypocritical Pharisees OR we end up with a terrified conscience.


      3. IMO, people are often most sensitive in the very moral issue they themselves are perhaps most guilty and where they struggle the most. A lot of people SECRETLY nurture their sexual thoughts...... like those special secret websites.... and then try to find someone they THINK is ever badder than self so that self can hold up self and say to self, "Well, at least I'm not as bad as THEM!!!!!" As if God grades on a curve.....


      4. I don't know why sexual sins get SO much attention (well... see # 3 above). I actually think the Bible may well condemn gluttony more often and boldly than it does homosexual acts. But where is the outcry over the 300 pound pastor? Where is the picketing of the "After Church" invasion of Home Town Buffet and all those Christians with 4,000 calories on their plate from just their first trip to the buffet? Where is the condemnation at the church potluck as George goes back for his 4th dessert? [Yes, I realize overweight isn't necessarily because of gluttony - but you get my point, OBVIOUSLY]. The opposite principle may be at work here: Some may say nothing about gluttony because they wish to give a "pass" on this (so as to not to condemn self) or the opposite: I may point it out because I have very little body fat and if anything am a bit underweight and I'm pretty uber-careful about my diet - thus feel SUPERIOR to so many others whom I may crush with my legalistic rocks (I DO have my sins, btw).


      5. A proper application of Law and Gospel is needed..... and that needs to be PERSONAL.



      - Josiah (the only sinless one at CH)
      I had a gay landlord/roomate that hated Chick-fil-a because they support anti-gay protest and I couldn't blame him for being offended finding it hypocritical so I decided never to bring home a chickfila drink or anything out of respect. His friends would hit on me and it gets under my skin because I was molested before and its very difficult for me to forgive that person of that, even though I must I can't help but draw the line for them that they be respectful or keep their distance from me.
      As for women, I use to get with loose women but now I stay celibate and this town has very easy women, also very hard to find a Christian girl here... maybe I should become a priest lol
      Such a messed up world and its only increasing in devalued moral, indeed we all fall short of Gods glory and I trust in the Lord. Pray pray pray everyday and in the hour of temptation.


      Sent from my LGLS755 using Tapatalk

    11. #19
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      ***So if the Bible allowed polygamy and concubinage, why don't we?

      * Polygamy (many wives) and concubinage (a woman living with a man to whom she is not married) were regularly practiced in the Old Testament. Neither is ever condemned by the New Testament (with the questionable exceptions of I Timothy 3:2,12 and Titus 1:6). Jesus teaching about marital union in Mark 10:6-8 is no exception, since he quotes Gen. 2:24 as his authority (the man and the woman will become "one flesh"), and this text was never understood in Israel as excluding polygamy. A man could become "one flesh" with more than one woman, through the act of sexual intercourse. We know from Jewish sources that polygamy continued to be practiced within Judaism for centuries following the New Testament period. So if the Bible allowed polygamy and concubinage, why don't we?

      * A form of polygamy was the levirate marriage. When a married man in Israel died childless, his widow was to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bore him a male heir. Jesus mentions this custom without criticism (Mark 12:18-27 par.) I am not aware of any Christians who still obey this unambiguous commandment of Scripture. Why is this law ignored, and the one against homosexual behavior preserved?

      * The Old Testament nowhere explicitly prohibits sexual relations between unmarried consenting adults, as long as the woman's economic value (bride price) is not compromised, that is to say, as long as she is not a virgin. There are poems in the Song of Songs that eulogize a love affair between two unmarried persons, though commentators have often conspired to cover up the fact with heavy layers of allegorical interpretation. In various parts of the Christian world, quite different attitudes have prevailed about sexual intercourse before marriage. In some Christian communities, proof of fertility (that is, pregnancy) was required for marriage. This was especially the case in farming areas where the inability to produce children-workers could mean economic hardship. Today, many single adults, the widowed, and the divorced are reverting to "biblical" practice, while others believe that sexual intercourse belongs only within marriage. Which is right?

      * The Bible virtually lacks terms for the sexual organs, being content with such euphemisms as "foot" or "thigh" for the genitals, and using other euphemisms to describe coitus, such as "he knew her." Today most of us regard such language as "puritanical" and contrary to a proper regard for the goodness of creation. In short, we don't follow Biblical practice.

      * Semen and menstrual blood rendered all who touched them unclean (Lev. 15:16-24). Intercourse rendered one unclean until sundown; menstruation rendered the woman unclean for seven days. Today most people would regard semen and menstrual fluid as completely natural and only at times "messy," not "unclean."

      * Social regulations regarding adultery, incest, rape and prostitution are, in the Old Testament, determined largely by considerations of the males' property rights over women. Prostitution was considered quite natural and necessary as a safeguard of the virginity of the unmarried and the property rights of husbands (Gen. 38:12-19; Josh. 2:1-7). A man was not guilty of sin for visiting a prostitute, though the prostitute herself was regarded as a sinner. Even Paul must appeal to reason in attacking prostitution (I Cor. 6:12-20); he cannot lump it in the category of adultery (vs. 9). Today we are moving, with great social turbulence and at a high but necessary cost toward a more equitable, non-patriarchal set of social arrangements in which women are no longer regarded as the chattel of men. We are also trying to move beyond the double standard. Love, fidelity and mutual respect replace property rights. We have, as yet, made very little progress in changing the double standard in regard to prostitution. As we leave behind patriarchal gender relations, what will we do with the patriarchalism in the Bible?

      * Jews were supposed to practice endogamy -- that is, marriage within the 12 tribes of Israel. Until recently a similar rule prevailed in the American south, in laws against interracial marriage (miscegenation). We have witnessed, within the lifetime of many of us, the nonviolent struggle to nullify state laws against intermarriage and the gradual change in social attitudes towards interracial relationships. Sexual mores can alter quite radically even in a single lifetime.

      * The law of Moses allowed for divorce (Deut. 24:1-4); Jesus categorically forbids it (Mark 10:1-12; Matt, 19:9 softens his severity). Yet many Christians, in clear violation of a command of Jesus, have been divorced. Why, then, do some of these very people consider themselves eligible for baptism, church membership, communion, and ordination, but not homosexuals? What makes the one so much greater a sin than the other, especially considering the fact that Jesus never even mentioned homosexuality but explicitly condemned divorce? Yet we ordain divorcees. Why not homosexuals?

      * The Old Testament regarded celibacy as abnormal and I Timothy 4:1-3 calls compulsory celibacy a heresy. Yet the Catholic Church has made it mandatory for priests and nuns. Some Christian ethicists demand celibacy of homosexuals, whether they have a vocation for celibacy or not. But this legislates celibacy by category, not by divine calling. Others argue that since God made men and women for each other in order to be fruitful and multiply, homosexuals reject God's intent in creation. But this would mean that childless couples, single persons, priests and nuns would be in violation of God's intention in their creation. Those who argue thus must explain why the apostle Paul never married. Are they prepared to charge Jesus with violating the will of God by remaining single? Certainly heterosexual marriage is normal, else the race would die out. But it is not normative. God can bless the world through people who are married and through people who are single, and it is false to generalize from the marriage of most people to the marriage of everyone. In I Cor. 7:7, Paul goes so far as to call marriage a "charisma," or divine gift, to which not everyone is called. He preferred that people remain as he was - unmarried. In an age of overpopulation, perhaps a gay orientation is especially sound ecologically!

      * In many other ways we have developed different norms from those explicitly laid down by the Bible: "If men get into a fight with one another and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and seizing his genitals, you shall cut off her hand" (Deut 25:11 f). We, on the contrary, might very well applaud her for trying to save her husband's life!

      * The Old and New Testaments both regarded slavery as normal and nowhere categorically condemned it. Part of that heritage was the use of female slaves, concubines and captives as sexual toys, breeding machines, or involuntary wives by their male owners, which II Samuel 5:13, Judges 19-21, and Numbers 31:17-20 permitted -- and as many American slave owners did some 150 years ago, citing these and numerous other Scripture passages as their justification.

      ***The Problem of Authority

      These cases are relevant to our attitude toward the authority of Scripture. they are not cultic prohibitions from the Holiness Code that are clearly superseded in Christianity, such as rules about eating shellfish or wearing clothes made of two different materials. They are rules concerning sexual behavior, and they fall among the moral commandments of the Scripture. Clearly we regard certain rules, especially in the Old Testament, as no longer binding. Other things we regard as binding, including legislation in the Old Testament that is not mentioned at all in the New. What is our principle of selection here?

      For example; virtually all modern readers would agree with the Bible in rejecting:
      incest
      rape
      adultery
      intercourse with animals

      But we disagree with the Bible on most other sexual mores. The Bible condemned the following behaviors which we generally allow:
      intercourse during menstruation
      celibacy
      exogamy (marriage with non-Jews)
      naming sexual organs
      nudity (under certain conditions)
      masturbation (some Christians still condemn this)
      birth control (some Christians still forbid this)
      And the bible regarded semen and menstrual blood as unclean, which most of us do not

      Likewise, the bible permitted behaviors that we today condemn:
      prostitution
      polygamy
      levirate marriage
      sex with slaves
      concubinage
      treatment of women as property
      very early marriage (for the girl, age 11-13)

      continued
      Last edited by JRT; 12-27-2017 at 04:59 PM.

    12. #20
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      And while the Old Testament accepted divorce, Jesus forbade it. In short, of the sexual mores mentioned here, we only agree with the Bible on four of them, and disagree with it on sixteen!

      Surely no one today would recommend reviving the levirate marriage. So why do we appeal to proof texts in Scripture in the case of homosexuality alone, when we feel perfectly free to disagree with Scripture regarding most other sexual practices? Obviously many of our choices in these matters are arbitrary. Mormon polygamy was outlawed in this country, despite the constitutional protection of freedom of religion, because it violated the sensibilities of the dominant Christian culture, even though no explicit biblical prohibition against polygamy exists.

      If we insist on placing ourselves under the old law, as Paul reminds us, we are obligated to keep every commandment of the law (Gal. 5:3). But if Christ is the end of the law (Rom. 10:4), if we have been discharged from the law to serve, not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit (Rom. 7:6), then all of these Old Testament sexual mores come under the authority of the Spirit. We cannot then take even what Paul says as a new law. Christians reserve the right to pick and choose which laws they will observe, though they seldom admit to doing just that. And this is as true of evangelicals and fundamentalists as it is of liberals and mainliners.

      ***Judge for Yourselves

      The crux of the matter, it seems to me, is simply that the Bible has no sexual ethic. There is no biblical sex ethic. Instead it exhibits a variety of sexual mores, some of which changed over the thousand-year span of biblical history. Mores are unreflective customs accepted by a given community. Many of the practices that the Bible prohibits, we allow, and many that it allows, we prohibit. The Bible only knows a love ethic, which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores are dominant in any given country, culture, or period.

      The very notion of a "sex ethic" reflects the materialism and splitness of modern life, in which we increasingly define our identity sexually. Sexuality cannot be separated off from the rest of life. No sex act is "ethical" in and of itself, without reference to the rest of a person's life, the patterns of the culture, the special circumstances faced, and the will of God. What we have are simply sexual mores, which change, sometimes with startling rapidity, creating bewildering dilemmas. Just within one lifetime we have witnessed the shift from the ideal of preserving one's virginity until marriage, to couples living together for several years before getting married. The response of many Christians is merely to long for the hypocrisies of an earlier era.

      I agree that rules and norms are necessary: that is what sexual mores are. But rules and norms also tend to be impressed into the service of the Domination System, and to serve as a form of crowd control rather than to enhance the fullness of human potential. So we must critique the sexual mores of any given time and clime by the love ethic exemplified by Jesus. Such a love ethic is non-exploitive (hence, no sexual exploitation of children, no using of another to their loss), it does not dominate (hence, no patriarchal treatment of women as chattel), it is responsible, mutual, caring, and loving. Augustine already dealt with this is his inspired phrase, "Love God, and do as you please."

      Our moral task, then, is to apply Jesus' love ethic to whatever sexual mores are prevalent in a given culture. This doesn't mean everything goes. It means that everything is to be critiqued by Jesus' love commandment. We might address younger teens, not with laws and commandments whose violation is a sin, but rather with the sad experiences of so many of our own children who find too much early sexual intimacy overwhelming, and who react by voluntary celibacy and even the refusal to date. We can offer reasons, not empty and unenforceable orders. We can challenge both gays and straights to question their behaviors in the light of love and the requirements of fidelity, honesty, responsibility, and genuine concern for the best interests of the other and of society as a whole.

      Christian morality, after all, is not an iron chastity belt for repressing urges, but a way of expressing the integrity of our relationship with God. It is the attempt to discover a manner of living that is consistent with who God created us to be. For those of same-sex orientation, as for heterosexuals, being moral means rejecting sexual mores that violate their own integrity and that of others, and attempting to discover what it would mean to live by the love ethic of Jesus.

      Morton Kelsey goes so far as to argue that homosexual orientation has nothing to do with morality, any more than left-handedness does. it is simply the way some people's sexuality is configured. Morality enters the picture when that predisposition is enacted. If we saw it as a God-given-gift to those for whom it is normal, we could get beyond the acrimony and brutality that have so often characterized the unchristian behavior of Christians toward gays.

      Approached from the point of view of love, rather than that of law, the issue is at once transformed. Now the question is not "What is permitted?" but rather "What does it mean to love my homosexual neighbor?" Approached from the point of view of faith rather than of works, the question ceases to be "What constitutes a breach of divine law in the sexual realm?" and becomes instead "What constitutes obedience to the God revealed in the cosmic lover, Jesus Christ?" Approached from the point of view of the Spirit of the rather than of the letter, the question ceases to be "What does Scripture command?" and becomes "What is the Word that the Spirit speaks to the churches now, in the light of Scripture, tradition, theology, psychology, genetics, anthropology, and biology?" We can't continue to build ethics on the basis of bad science.

      In a little-remembered statement, Jesus said, "Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?" (Luke 12:57). Such sovereign freedom strikes terror in the hearts of many Christians; they would rather be under law and be told what is right. Yet Paul himself echoes Jesus' sentiment immediately preceding one of his possible references to homosexuality: "Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!" (I Cor. 6:3). The last thing Paul would want is for people to respond to his ethical advice as a new law engraved on tablets of stone. He is himself trying to "judge for himself what is right." If now new evidence is in on the phenomenon of homosexuality, are we not obligated -- no, free -- to re-evaluate the whole issue in the light of all available data and decide, under God, for ourselves? Is this not the radical freedom for obedience which the gospel establishes?

      Where the bible mentions homosexual behavior at all, it clearly condemns it. I freely grant all that. The issue is precisely whether that Biblical judgment is correct. The Bible sanctioned slavery as well, and nowhere attacks it as unjust. Are we prepared to argue that slavery today is biblically justified? One hundred and fifty years ago when the debate over slavery was raging, the bible seemed to be clearly on the slave holders' side. Abolitionists were hard pressed to justify their opposition to slavery on biblical grounds. Yet today, if you were to ask Christians in the South whether the Bible sanctions slavery, virtually everyone would agree that it does not. How do we account for such a monumental shift?

      What happened is that the churches were finally driven to penetrate beyond the legal tenor of Scripture to an even deeper tenor, articulated by Israel out of the experience of the Exodus and the prophets and brought to sublime embodiment in Jesus' identification with harlots, tax collectors, the diseased and maimed and outcast and poor. It is that God suffers with the suffering and groans toward the reconciliation of all things. Therefore, Jesus went out of his way to declare forgiven, and to reintegrate into society in all details, those who were identified as "sinners" by virtue of the accidents of birth, or biology, or economic desperation. In the light of that supernal compassion, whatever our position on gays, the gospel's imperative to love, care for, and be identified with their sufferings is unmistakably clear.

      In the same way, women are pressing us to acknowledge the sexism and patriarchalism that pervades Scripture and has alienated so many women from the church. The way out, however, is not to deny the sexism in Scripture, but to develop an interpretive theory that judges even Scripture in the light of the revelation in Jesus. What Jesus gives us is a critique of domination in all its forms, a critique that can be can be turned on the Bible itself. The Bible thus contains the principles of its own correction. We are freed from bibliolatry, the worship of the Bible. It is restored to its proper place as witness to the Word of God. And that word is a Person, not a book.

      "With the interpretive grid provided by a critique of domination, we are able to filter out the sexism, patriarchalism, violence, and homophobia that are very much a part of the Bible, thus liberating it to reveal to us in fresh ways the inbreaking, in our time of God's domination-free order.

      continued

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