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Thursday, July 13, 2006

False Converts

I had been planning for some time to write about false converts, but due to some recent issues, I feel more compelled than ever to share my concerns. My intent here is not to single out any one denomination or judge any group of persons, but to warn and remind those of us who call ourselves Christians to “examine yourself, to see whether you are in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) I realize that as I speak out about the issues that God clearly defines as sin, I will be seen as intolerant and judgmental and I will offend some. I am seeking to please God, and oftentimes that will not please men: “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10) I will attempt to speak the truth in love, but the reality is that the truth IS offensive to those who walk in darkness. True Christians are not only called to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but to instead EXPOSE them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

I am deeply troubled by some recent websites I visited from a link on a blog site of an ordained pastor. These websites promote and support homosexual marriage, “progressive” Christianity and moral relativism and portray a false image of God. One cannot be a true Christian and call good the things that God calls sin. (Isaiah 5:20) “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” A false convert “claims to know God, but by their actions deny him.” (Titus 1:16) My purpose is not to point a finger because I am certainly not without sin myself, but to be sure that no one is deceived into thinking that all religious people are really genuine Christians. There are many self-proclaimed Christians, even pastors, who will have elements of Christianity, but are not saved because they lack true contrition (sorrow) for their sin. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”(Colossians 2:8) Don’t be led astray by false teachings! We must read the Bible ourselves daily to know and understand what it says so we will not believe a lie and can recognize false teachings when we hear them!

A true Christian will believe in the inerrancy of the Bible- that is, that every word of it is true and unchanging. There is no such thing as “progressive Christianity”!! God’s Word does not evolve to fit our agenda. It is timeless and still as applicable today as it was when it was written. We cannot pick and choose which verses we like and which ones “no longer apply” to current times. To preach only a God of love and not warn sinners of God’s wrath for sin and the punishment of hell for those who choose not to repent are not preaching what Jesus taught- the narrow path to salvation. (see Matthew 7:14)

Let me preface this with telling you that I am not homophobic, nor do I hate homosexuals. I have a gay brother, a gay uncle and a gay cousin, and I love them dearly. I might even be able to justify their lifestyle by telling you that it “runs in the family”. It does to some extent, because we are all born with a sinful nature! Loving them means that I don’t tell them that their sin is acceptable, but just like with any other sin, they are damned to hell if they refuse to turn from it and trust in Jesus. They need to be taken through God’s Law and shown their sinfulness even despite their sexual tendencies, “for the law is not laid down for the just, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for …men who practice homosexuality.” (1 Timothy 1:9-10) Yes, come to Jesus just as you are, but don’t stay that way! By the power of God’s Spirit, not of their own strength, they too can change. Let me clarify what the Bible says about homosexuality, to name a few:

Leviticus 18:22 - You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

Leviticus 20:13 - If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death.

1Corinthians 6:9 - Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…will inherit the kingdom of God.

And as for transvestites:

Deuteronomy 22:5 - A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

It is very clear! Homosexuality, while no greater a sin than others, is an abomination, and those who continue to practice the lifestyle will NOT inherit the kingdom of God. To preach anything but these truths is a lie! “There are some who…want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if…an angel from heaven (or a “Christian” minister or great religious preacher, for that matter!) should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1: 7-8)

Yes, we are to “love the sinner, hate the sin”, but “love” does not just mean to wrap our arms around them and tell them God loves them, but to tell them what they NEED to hear, not what they WANT to hear: that God’s wrath is upon them if they don’t repent and turn away from their sin. For a so-called Christian to embrace what God abhors is an outright defiance and rejection of His Word. The Bible portrays marriage as symbolic to the church, and to promote homosexual marriage as equal to the God ordained marriage of a man and a woman is to make a mockery of Christ and His Church.

The issue here is not debating whether or not homosexuality is a sin- the Bible says that it is. The issue is that professing Christians are saying that it is not by their acceptance and embracing and even promoting of the GLBT agenda. “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32) These “Christians” obviously do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and instead of calling sin for what it is, they seek to justify it to be praised among men. (James 4:4b) states “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” They have created a god in their mind (idolatry) that they are more comfortable with who will overlook their sin and they have no fear of God. False converts say they have fellowship with God, but walk in darkness- they lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6) Whoever says “I know God” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. This doesn’t mean that a Christian will never sin, but it does mean that he will acknowledge when he does and not make excuses for it.

Do not believe the claims that Christ is one who will Recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God's realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us. There is no place for moral relativism in Christianity. Relativism is the position that all points of view are as valid as any other points of view and that the individual is the measure of what is true for that person. It is basically a justification to do whatever you want and because of this it is a contributor to overall anarchy. A Bible believing Christian knows that there are black and white truths and set standards of right and wrong, such as the Ten Commandments. Even sinners have a God given conscience to show them right from wrong. Society cannot flourish nor survive in an environment where everyone does what is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6), where the situation determines actions and if the situation changes, lying or cheating is acceptable- as long as you’re not caught. Without a common foundation of truth and absolutes, our culture will become weak and fragmented. For any “Christian” group to say otherwise is heresy - a false preaching about God.

A true convert has a knowledge of sin (his own personal sin and agrees with what the Bible says is sin) and has Godly sorrow, truly repents, and produces the things that accompany salvation (Hebrews 6:9). This conversion is evident in his or her life by the fruit of the Spirit and the good works it produces. This is not to say that everyone who does good works is therefore a Christian. Jesus told us we would recognize false converts by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20) The fruits of the “Christians” on these websites are abominable because they are calling good what God has called evil. They are justifying sin with moral relativism. Are you guilty of preaching a gospel that reaps false converts? Are YOU a false convert yourself?

96 Comments:

  • Hi Hammer,


    Scripture really does have a lot to say about sexual immorality and false teachers.

    It would probably be good for the true Church and the true teachers to separate from the false teachers and the false teachings. Christian leaders need to stop being politicians and start being pastors.

    By Blogger David M. Smith, at 7/13/2006 06:37:00 PM  

  • That is such a wonderful statement, david. I am in full agreement.

    The truth of the matter is, there is plenty of room in other religions, atheism, agnosticism, and secular beliefs for moral relativism.

    Jesus left no room for the disregard of His condemnation of sin while walking with Him. We know it is a narrow gate, and no one should attempt to force that gate wider with their secular desires.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/13/2006 06:49:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker has a similar posting at her blog with additional insights on the subject. Check it out at: http://andreamomm.blogspot.com/
    Thanks for reading, David!

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/13/2006 08:28:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    Two thoughts sprang to my mind when reading this post.
    1) While I would agree with your thrust (that Christians should attempt to keep from sin in all things), I would differ from you in two important ways. First, homosexuality is neither the first nor the greatest sin. It's not the besetting sin of our culture or of any of our churches. To focus on homosexuality is to focus on something that is not central to the Christian faith. Second, I would want to put more emphasis on Jesus' parable of the person with a plank in their eye. Calling for us to live a holy life is one thing. Calling for "we pure Christians" to separate from "those false Christians" is a very, very dangerous path to tread. It is not our place to judge another's servant. Yes, we must be careful in what we listen to. But just so must we be careful about condemning brothers and sisters in Christ - not criticising but condemning.

    2) Using passages from Leviticus and Deuteronomy as your main platform for rejecting homosexual practice is fraught with problems. Not least of which is that these verses are enmeshed in other verses declaring the eating of prawns or wearing of poly-cotton shirts to be "abonimations in the sight of the Lord"! The OT Law is not something that binds Christians - certainly not in its entirety. It shows us how God wanted Israel to live, not the redeemed Body of Christ.

    This isn't to say that your position on homosexuality is wrong. (Although I do, as you know, disagree with you!) Just that the arguments you're using to support that position are very weak. I honestly believe that the Bible says far less about homosexuality than is commonly believed, and basing the current huge campaign in the church (not here on your blog!) against homosexuality on three or four verses in the entire Bible seems unbalanced and unfaithful to the message of Christ.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/14/2006 03:48:00 AM  

  • First, thank you for the post Hammer. It's very interesting and you phrase it in such a way as not to offend me (a Christian, who isn't in fact a Christian (and who can live with that)). May I bombard you with questions?

    1) If what you say is correct, I shall burn in Eternal Hell - there's no doubt about it. My attitudes towards homosexuality will send me straight there. But what of, I don't know, a mass murderer? Does he or she go to the same place as me - is there no "sentencing scale"? - I mean 5 years for me, eternity for a mass murderer? It doesn't seem just!

    2) Why do you believe so whole-heartedly in every word written in the OT? It wasn't penned by God himself. It was written by man relatively recently, given the age of the Earth.

    3)To what extent do you believe that the NT and the coming of a loving son of God changes the message of the OT?

    4) Where's the God of Love in all of this? It just seems to me that you have a God who says something along the lines of "sorry "person A". I've created you gay. You will have to work very hard not to practise homosexualilty. You will have to deny yourself of being the person I've created in you, or else you'll go to Hell for ever. You're OK "person B". You are heterosexual. You can live a happy and fulfilled life. You will not be tested in this way at all and will come and be with me in Heaven".

    I _just_ don't believe it is that way. It goes against my conscience to believe it. You may argue that your faith is based upon the word of the bible (evidence based) and mine is based merely upon gut feeling. Possibly so. Would you say that??

    By Blogger Ruth, at 7/14/2006 08:58:00 AM  

  • Hi Mrs. Hammer,

    I didn’t even realize you had written this piece since it read so much like something Hammer would write. You write like you are the one in seminary. The two of you are a great team.

    John,

    The New Testament is filled with references to sexual immorality and false teachers. Homosexuality is rarely singled out but is clearly part of the list. I sometimes feel homosexuality is over-emphasized by Christians, but it may be because there are not any Churches ordaining adulterers, rapists, or polygamists, like some Churches are ordaining homosexuals.

    Do you not believe there are false teachers and false teachings within the Christian Church nowadays? Clearly you think much of what Hammer writes is false. Wouldn’t it be better to separate than pretend to worship the same God?

    By Blogger David M. Smith, at 7/14/2006 11:12:00 AM  

  • John,
    I made great effort in this post to be sure I didn’t give the impression that I was writing with the intent of “condemning” anyone. I specifically said that “my purpose is not to point a finger because I am certainly not without sin myself.” I recognize the log of sinfulness in my own eye, and prayerfully asked God to give me a humble heart when writing this post. I don’t think that anything I said was unbiblical, nor did I base any of my arguments on my personal opinions or feelings and emotions about the subject. If I did, I am also open for rebuke, because that is how we grow as Christians! I appreciate your comments and the respectful way you present your thoughts.

    You may have missed a couple of my points by reading over it quickly, but I did say that homosexuality was no greater a sin than others, using those exact words. I also said that homosexuals were damned to hell, just as other sinners are. That is also not my opinion, but the words of Jesus when He said they would “not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” The only reason I focused on the issue of homosexuality was because of the content of the links in my posting, not because it is any worse a sin than a heterosexual having sex outside of marriage, or any other sin, for that matter. Homosexuality is one of the “besetting” sins of our culture because homosexual activists are making it one by attempting to legalize what God has already forbidden.

    God is indeed the only Judge, but it is a Christian’s job to use scripture “for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training” (2 Timothy 3:16) If anyone reading felt condemned, it was probably because they are being convicted by the Word of God! I wrote this post so that people would examine themselves and come to Christ, not to point a finger and puff myself up with pride. I don’t want to stand before God in heaven and have Him ask me why I didn’t warn sinners of their fate for following and preaching false doctrines and have their blood on my hands, so to speak.

    If you can pick and choose which parts of the Bible still apply, how can any of it be trusted? Do you believe that what the Bible says is true? What would be the standard of which parts still apply, and which parts don’t? It sounds to me like you don’t believe the OT still applies because Jesus came to discard it. No, He came to fulfill it and set us free from the Law!! Not free to do whatever we want, but free from the bondage of sin and death that we deserve because no one can live up to God’s high standards of holiness on our own. The NT and Jesus confirm that God still views homosexuality (and a whole slew of other sins) as sin. I sited one verse from the NT, and another is Romans 1:27- “In the same way men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Man committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” How many times does God have to say something for you to take it seriously?

    While calling “we pure Christians” to separate from “those false Christians” may be a dangerous road to tread because it will often upset people, this isn’t my call, but what the Bible tells us to do. “Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.” (2 Corinthians 6:14) It is also necessary to make this separation for unbelievers to understand that a Christian does not accept homosexuality and same sex marriage. An unbeliever visiting churches or websites such as those on this link may be led to think that all “Christians” believe such a thing and we need to show them that there are many who will say “Lord, Lord!” on the day of judgment who will not be in heaven because they are false converts.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/14/2006 01:53:00 PM  

  • John,

    The Old Testament laws are categorized in three groups: the civil, the priestly, and the moral. The civil laws must be understood in the context of a theocracy. Though the Jewish nation in the Old Testament was often headed by a king, it was a theocratic system with the Scriptures as a guide to the nation. Those laws that fall under this category are not applicable today because we are not under a theocracy.

    The priestly laws dealing with the Levitical and Aaronic priesthoods, were representative of the future and true High Priest Jesus who offered Himself as a sacrifice on the cross. Since Jesus fulfilled the priestly laws, they are no longer necessary to be followed and are not now applicable.

    The moral laws, on the other hand, are not abolished. Because the moral laws are based upon the character of God. Since God's holy character does not change, the moral laws do not change either. Therefore, the moral laws are still in effect. Not to mention that New Testament morality codes are the same as Old Testament morality codes, because Jesus was OT fulfilled prophecy, and the NT doesn't "erase" the OT, but fulfills it.

    In the New Testament we do not see a reestablishment of the civil or priestly laws. But we do see a reestablishment of the moral law. This is why we see New Testament condemnation of homosexuality as a sin but not with the associated death penalty.

    Christians who adhere to God's Word are not making homosexuality any larger than any other sin. We are actually the people asking why it is accepted, when God was clear that all sins are the same in His eyes. Any sexual morality needs to be repented, just as thievery, lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, etc.

    I believe homosexuality has acceptance from many despite being condemned by God, because the sin allows "feeling good". If people have homosexual (or any other sexual) desire, fulfillment of their desires leads them to "feel good". So, why condemn something that feels good, right?

    You say you are a Christian, John, so let me ask you if you believe in the Bible? If so, what parts? Is the Word changing because it is hard for others to adhere to it, so why bother? What parts are valid for picking and others are not?

    Using only the Bible for our reference, (as God instructed us to do) should we base salvation on feelings, or should we base it solely on His Word and instruction?

    If my heart tells me to promote sexual immorality, to spare ones feelings (without making homosexuality the "worst sin" as you stated) then why should I not have an affair in my marriage? Despite being married to the man I know God made for me, I am sure if I allowed myself the opportunity to be tempted-I could. Should I have sex because my heart says that another man or woman will be better for me?

    Sexual immorality knows no gender. It is all condemned in the Bible as a sin-equal and punishable by death for the unsaved.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/14/2006 02:00:00 PM  

  • Well, I wasn't going to get into Biblical inerrancy until after the divorce and remarriage post. It may force itself upon us, here, it seems. I guess I didn't include Mrs. Hammer in my topic series plan!

    I'll let the ladies field most of the questions, but since I'm excited to have Ruth visit, I'll try to help her with hers.

    1) The simple answer is - no. Your views on homosexuality do not condemn you to hell. Sin is what condemns us to hell. Your view of homosexuality marks you as either A) a non-Christian, or B) an unlearned Christian. The first would indicate an eternal resting place of destruction, but the second would not. God does not give us complete knowledge upon conversion! That said, just because someone agrees with Biblical mandate for some (or even, all) behavior does not make them heaven-bound, for we have all sinned in so many ways that justice for us all is hell. It does not seem fair to us because we think that sins are differing in levels, but at their core, all sin is the same, whether it is a lie, a theft, a murder, or a "loving relationship" which happens to be in opposition to God's rules that he gave us. Just as when Adam ate from the tree, we essentially shake our fist at the Almighty and say, "I know better than you what is right!"

    Sins have differing earthly consequences, but the eternal ones are the same - the lake of fire. It sounds harsh, but it is just, because we are in rebellion. Our sin is not against other men, but against God!

    2) We believe that the entire Bible is inspired by God, and without error, OT and NT. Some passages leave room for interpretation (Blessed are the meek - what exactly is meant by meekness?), but others do not (You shall not murder - no getting around that one!) If something is prescribed in both the OT and the NT (like honor your father and mother), that's about as tight as it can be!

    3) The God of the OT and the NT are the same. The command to love your neighbor as yourself is found in the OT first! God is a God of love, but he is also a God of justice and holiness, and cannot abide our sin.

    4) While part of me wants to address the "made gay" part, I think you touched on a much more important truth! Your said, "You will have to deny yourself of being the person I've created in you, or else you'll go to Hell for ever." God made us without sin, but we all chose to sin. Thus, as Jesus himself says, as recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, "Any man who would follow me must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." We all must deny ourselves and submit fully to Christ, for it is only in him that we can deny ourselves. That's a hard message, but a hard truth.

    Finally, I would have to answer that, yes, it is your own feelings versus the Bible. If we are going to claim a faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Creator, Redeemer and Comforter, we must base this faith upon the only objective thing we have - the inspired scriptures preserved for us. We can disagree about what some of it means, but if it is not the basis for our faith, then our faith is a faith we made up ourselves.

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting - have you had a chance to read through Mrs. Hammer's testimony series?

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 7/14/2006 02:35:00 PM  

  • Ruth,
    Thank you for reading and I appreciate all your questions and will do my best to answer them. I read a wise saying from a famous preacher who said that you will know the Word of God is doing its work if people either get mad or get saved. Since you didn’t get mad, my prayer is that you’ll get saved. While you “can live with it now,” you will have all of eternity to regret not coming to Christ while you had the chance.

    1) Your attitudes about homosexuality are natural- literally. The natural man (the unsaved person) will not agree with all of God’s laws until he is saved. Before I was a Christian I thought it was ridiculous that someone would go to hell for their sexual preferences, no matter what the Bible said, because I didn’t believe it. When I became a Christian, the Bible all started to make sense and God changed my heart and mind to be more like His. My standards of right and wrong are now aligned with His, not based on my own emotions. When you realize your sinfulness and repent, God will help you change your attitudes and view things the way He does.

    God’s judgment for sinners will be according to righteousness (Acts 17:31). He is more fair than any justice system on Earth. In Matthew 11:24, Jesus said, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” And, in Luke 10:14, we see that the more sinful cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida will receive a more harsh judgment than Tyre and Sidon. These verses show that there will be degrees of punishment. Luke 12:47-48 & Hebrew 10:29 also support the idea of degrees of punishment. However, don’t let this fool you into thinking that your sin isn’t “that bad” and that your punishment is worth any pleasure you may experience on Earth without having to deny yourself and give your life to Jesus. Hell is an eternal place of torment and complete separation from God. The fate of the unsaved is described with such fearful words as the following:
    “shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2)
    “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46)
    “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51)
    “Fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:17)
    “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” (Romans 2: 8-9)
    “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
    “Eternal fire…the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 7,13)
    You do not want to go there, and you don’t have to. Eternity is a long time to be wrong! If there was one chance in a million that Jesus Christ ‘has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light though the gospel’, then you owe it to your good sense to look into it.

    2) Yes, men wrote the Bible. When you write a letter, do you write the letter, or does the pen? Obviously you do; the pen is merely the instrument you use. God used men as instruments to write His “letter” to humanity. They ranged from kings to common fishermen, but the 66 books of the Bible were all given by inspiration of God. The Bible’s fulfilled prophecies and its amazing consistency prove it to be the Word of God. No other book can stand up to it! Before men had the Bible, God used different methods of communicating with His people. Today, we have the written Word, and we will be without excuse on the Day of Judgment if we ignore it.

    3) The coming of God in human form to Earth, Jesus Christ, doesn’t change the message of the OT, it fulfills it. However, Christ followers will not be judged according to the Ten Commandments the way the unsaved are still bound to the OT law. Please read my blog post beginning with “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” for more on this.

    4) You will never be able to fully appreciate the God of love and mercy until you realize how God views sin. He is so Holy that He cannot even look upon it and so Just that He will punish it wherever it is found. When you realize that you have offended God and deserve His wrath, you will then take great joy in the fact that “God loved you SO much, that while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you.” (taken from John 3:16) God does not wish for anyone to perish, but that all would come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

    Your error with question #4 is that you are assuming God created people gay. God would not create something and then call it “abominable”. He specifically called everything He created “good” in Genesis. God does not make people gay. He allowed Adam and Eve a choice in the garden, and because they sinned, we are all born with a sinful nature. Everyone has their “favorite” sin. Homosexuality is a more obvious sin, but no more a sin than any other. We ALL have to work very hard to not practice sin, and it is impossible for an unbeliever (and even Christians) not to sin. God gives Christ followers the Holy Spirit to convict and reveal sin in our hearts and helps us have the power to overcome it, but we’ll never be perfect until we get to heaven. Paul talks extensively in the NT about the struggle we will always face in life between a Christian’s desire for Christlikeness and our desires of the flesh. It’s a constant battle!

    Your last comment that you “don’t believe it’s this way” is irrelevant (no disrespect intended.) Belief is not required for something to be true. God gave you a conscience to convict you of sin and point you to Him. Listen to it and give your heart to Christ!

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/14/2006 03:08:00 PM  

  • David, Thank you for your compliments! I will have to admit, though, that I used some ideas and quotes from 'The Way of the Master's School of Biblical Evangelism' book, especially on some responses to Ruth. (we have a disclaimer about this on our blog and TWOTM also gives permission to do this on their website!) I appreciate your comments!

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/14/2006 03:11:00 PM  

  • How about that! Mrs. Hammer and I were working on replying to Ruth at the same time! Nifty - and we didn't even contradict each other, though we focused differently.

    One flesh, indeed.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 7/14/2006 03:27:00 PM  

  • David,
    "Do you not believe there are false teachers and false teachings within the Christian Church nowadays?"

    Yes, I do. But I would point to those who deny the direct teaching of Christ - that we can seek wealth and follow Christ (even expect wealth if we follow), or that we can ignore the poor and powerless at our door, or that the religious person is more right with God than the sinner who knows that they are a sinner.

    "Clearly you think much of what Hammer writes is false. Wouldn’t it be better to separate than pretend to worship the same God?"

    Not in the slightest. For we do worship the same God. I gain a great deal from reading Hammer's (and Mrs Hammer's) thoughts. One needn't agree with someone to learn from them - nor learn quite the lessons that they intended to teach! :-) You could equally ask why Hammer continues to read my scribblings. The fact that we disagree about some things doesn't mean that we disagree about everything. We trust in the same saviour and worship the same God - it's just that we understand the nature and consequences of these facts in different ways. Our understanding doesn't change the fact that we are in relationship.

    Mrs Hammer,
    You did make that disclaimer. But you also spent a large portion of the article focusing on this one issue. This suggests that you think it's (one of) the most important distinguishing features between the "true" and "false" Christian. And this is the point I would strongly dispute.

    Similarly, although you did say that you don't see homosexuality as the worst sin, you focused on it to the exclusion of sins that have a far worse effect on ourselves and our communities - such as greed, exploitation or lust.

    Homosexuality isn't the besetting sin of our culture. Our understanding of this issue is a result of a great many other things other things. Our culture isn't characterised primarily by gayness. Rather, Western culture is based on the love of money and the love of self. All else springs from these. And these two are profoundly anti-Christian attributes.

    "It sounds to me like you don’t believe the OT still applies because Jesus came to discard it. No, He came to fulfill it and set us free from the Law!"

    But none of us believes that the OT Law still applies! We all discard portions, such as the food laws, the priestly laws and so on. We select certain portions to retain - and there is no indication in the OT itself that these "moral" portions are distinct from the rest. Nor is there any catalogue in the NT of which parts of the Law still apply. Far more, we get Peter, Paul and the rest talking about how the Law is gone and that we must not declare unclean what God Himself has declared clean. The task is discerning what these things are that are now clean for us.

    My point about "three or four" verses is that Jesus and the other NT writers spend far, far, far more time and space talking about other issues. They clearly thought that these other issues were more important - such as greed, lust, selfishness. If nothing else, it shows (again) that homosexuality is not central to the Gospel.

    Rightthinker,
    "The Old Testament laws are categorized in three groups"

    But they aren't. The three "groups" are all mixed up together with no indication from the context which is which. This distinction is artificial and imposed entirely after the fact, to justify our retaining those moral laws that we like. It's no more than one of the ways in which we discard the OT writings. If we tell ourselves that we follow the whole OT law, we are lying to ourselves. And splitting the law up artificially only begs the question of how we decide which laws belong to which category.

    "New Testament morality codes are the same as Old Testament morality codes"

    No, they aren't. As a trivial example, take marriage. The NT is quite firm that marriage is between one man and one woman. The OT is equally firm that marriage is between one man and as many women as he can afford. And that a married man is quite justified in having concubines if he wants or needs to, according to the OT (Abraham, David, Solomon and more).

    "let me ask you if you believe in the Bible? If so, what parts? Is the Word changing because it is hard for others to adhere to it, so why bother? What parts are valid for picking and others are not? "

    Yes, of course I believe in the Bible. I believe that it is the divinely inspired account of God's self-revelation in Creation, culminating in Christ. I believe that it is God-breathed and good for all manner of teaching and instruction. I believe that it is ultimately trustworthy in every matter pertaining to salvation.

    I do not believe that it is God's Word (capital W) - that is Christ alone. I do not believe that God wrote it personally, or dictated it to human scribes - Christ is the only true and total self-revelation of God. I do not believe that it is inerrant in the sense that every word is factually accurate in every single possible way - that leads to absurdities and forces us into doubletalk.

    The words do not change (although we may well learn how better to translate the original Hebrew and Greek into our own languages, or learn more about the cultures in which they were written, which can reveal new depths). The God behind them does not change. The meanings we see in the Bible will and must. Both in our own personal lives (as we mature in our understanding of the faith) and in the life of the Church.

    We choose which parts of the Bible to reinterpret or de-emphasise based on our understanding of Christ and His continuing self-revelation in the life of the Church. No branch of the Church is immune to this.

    "Using only the Bible for our reference, (as God instructed us to do)

    Where does God tell us this? Even the Bible doesn't say this. It's an idea that arose relatively recently in the history of the Church. Most of the time, the emphasis has been on the Bible as understood in community, which means tradition. The Bible in isolation is meaningless. It only gains meaning when read by Christians in submission to Christ living in the Body.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/14/2006 03:54:00 PM  

  • LOL - more simul-posting. So, a few comments based on Hammer and MrsHammer's latest. (Eventually - internet connection is playing up...)

    Hammer wrote:
    "Your view of homosexuality marks you as either A) a non-Christian, or B) an unlearned Christian."

    Well, thanks, there Hammer! All Ruth's (or my) view of homosexuality indicates is that we disagree with you. That is not identical with being either a non-Christian or unlearned. We may know all the same facts and follow the same saviour, and yet have come to different conclusions.

    As I've freely admitted in the past, we do not stand in the historic tradition of the Church on this matter, and hence the weight of the argument rests on us. However, there's nothing wrong with believing that the Church needs to change its teaching on something.

    "Finally, I would have to answer that, yes, it is your own feelings versus the Bible."

    But I would deny that, certainly in my case. My feelings, as far as they're relevant here, are actually on the other side - my gut reaction to homosexuality is that it's nasty. It's my intellect and faith that make me believe that God may (and I'd stress that "may") take a different view to the conservatives.

    MrsHammer wrote:
    "Your attitudes about homosexuality are natural- literally."

    Actually, they're not. The "natural" feeling about homosexuality (as far as it can be determined) is that it's generally not acceptable in human society, regardless of whether it has a Christian basis. There have been very few cultures that have openly accepted homosexuality. Our own culture happens to be one of them, which is the reason that we are actually inclined to ask this question. If we continued to assume (in line with our natural biases) that homosexuality was wrong, we would have little cause to question.

    "When you write a letter, do you write the letter, or does the pen? Obviously you do; the pen is merely the instrument you use. God used men as instruments to write His “letter” to humanity."

    Actually, I believe that this view was declared to be a heresy in the early church. The orthodox view is that God used human beings in ways that left them as individuals. Their individual voices shine through their writings in tone, language and message. That they breathe the same Spirit doesn't mean that the authors were over-ridden in the way you describe.

    "Before men had the Bible, God used different methods of communicating with His people. Today, we have the written Word, and we will be without excuse on the Day of Judgment if we ignore it."

    I couldn't disagree more. The Bible is not God's ultimate self-revelation. That position belongs only to Christ. The written word exists only to bear witness to the living Word of God. The Bible is not itself God and must not be elevated to that position.

    "Your error with question #4 is that you are assuming God created people gay. God would not create something and then call it “abominable”."

    You have captured the essence of the problem here. For Ruth's position (as I understood it) is precisely the same as your second sentence - that 'God would not create something and then call it “abominable”.' The issue is your first sentence. And that one simply doesn't match up to the known facts.

    The evidence to date is that some people are created gay. True, there are some people who choose to "experiment" despite their "natural" preferences. And, for those, your analysis is bang on. However, for those who genuinely had no choice in their orientation - who were destined to be gay from the moment they were conceived, and even those who were pushed that way by trauma in their childhood (which can also happpen), your argument fails. For some people certainly were made gay in their very nature. Others have been made that way by their environment. Others choose to have sex with anyone. These three groups (born gay, broken, and degenerate) require quite different analyses.

    Hammer wrote:
    "Mrs. Hammer and I were working on replying to Ruth at the same time! Nifty - and we didn't even contradict each other"

    Awesome :-)

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/14/2006 05:21:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    Sorry for yet a third post, but I realised that I missed a point I wanted to explain more clearly.

    You said:
    "calling “we pure Christians” to separate from “those false Christians” may be a dangerous road to tread because it will often upset people"

    I wasn't clear enough here, I think. The path isn't dangerous because it will upset people - it's dangerous because it is the road of schism. It is the road that sets doctrinal purity above community in the Body. It is the road by which the eye says to the ear, "I do not need you".

    There are times when we have to disociate ourselves from others. But it's an extreme solution, and certainly not something to be used for such non-central issues as homosexuality. Only, I would contend, for utterly basic issues such as whether Jesus Christ lived and died as a man, won forgiveness for our sins by His death and resurrection, lives eternally with the Father and so forth.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/14/2006 06:04:00 PM  

  • John,

    "I do not believe that it [God's Word] is inerrant in the sense that every word is factually accurate in every single possible way."

    That is where we have problems. There is pretty much nothing else to discuss, beyond this. Either one believes it is the inerrant Word of God, and therefore valuable for instruction, reproof and correction, or one doesn't. If it isn't the inerrant Word of God-meaning there are parts that, as you say, "are not factually accurate", then there is much room for marginalizing the Word, the way progressive churches are doing.

    We can argue away every single point of the Bible if we choose, because (at least for me) it is an all or nothing pursuit of Christ! Why accept some teachings, and not the others? Oh, and I understand you will discuss the eating of prawns again, but I already talked about the civil, priestly and moral codes. I won't bother again, because there ARE three seperate laws in the Old Testament. Just because they aren't outlined in MLA essay format doesn't mean they are there. Sure they are intermingled! They are still classified as civil, priestly and moral codes. We happen to be discussing moral codes that were given in OT, and brought forward to NT.

    "The words do not change. The God behind them does not change. The meanings we see in the Bible will and must. Both in our own personal lives and in the life of the Church." What GOOD are the unchanging words, and the unchanging God, if He wasn't honest when he said that certain things are wrong, and that there is nothing new under the sun and they were and always will be the same--yet now they aren't because the meanings are changeable? What would influence a change of meaning? The only thing would be outside Christ. The Bible says we are not to let outside teachings, new cultures, etc., change our beliefs.

    "We choose which parts of the Bible to reinterpret or de-emphasise based on our understanding of Christ and His continuing self-revelation in the life of the Church"

    How do you reconcile the Biblical teachings that the Word is not to be removed from, altered, added to, etc? If the meaning of the word is changeable, based on the "life of the church", then how can we trust any of the Bible as being suitable for today's culture? Afterall, cultures have changed and changed through time. As they grow more secular, is more is suitable for removal? It is either all true-all suitable, or not at all true.

    "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8

    "...having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever...." 1 Peter 1:23

    "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." Matthew 5:18

    "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law of God to fail." Luke 16:17

    I don't know much about the inner-going's on of churches of which I don't attend, unless they make heretical statements and missions to promote anti-biblical teaching. What I do know, is that I go to a church that preaches inerrant truths of the Bible, out of a trusted translation. There is no "reinterpreting" and no "de-emphasising" in black and white Bible teaching that takes one from cover to cover, verse by verse.

    Social issues find themselves in churches that lend themselves to an opening of secularlism. His "continuing self-revelation in the life of the church" can easily be characterized by false teaching, as the Bible instructs, if it deviates from scripture. These are not MY words-these are the words of the Bible.

    "Using only the Bible for our reference, (as God instructed us to do)"

    "Where does God tell us this? Even the Bible doesn't say this. It's an idea that arose relatively recently in the history of the Church. Most of the time, the emphasis has been on the Bible as understood in community, which means tradition. The Bible in isolation is meaningless. It only gains meaning when read by Christians in submission to Christ living in the Body."

    "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it." Deuteronomy 12:32

    "Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar." Proverbs 30:5-6

    "If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Revelation 22:18-19

    Well, there are a few references. I made sure to include both OT, and NT so that you couldn't attempt to assert that somehow these words aren't true because of that, as well.

    "New Testament morality codes are the same as Old Testament morality codes"

    "No, they aren't. As a trivial example, take marriage."

    Marriage was a civil code, and also part of a culture that fell under priestly instruction. I already addressed that laws regarding civil code and instruction for priests were given over to Jesus, so I won't bother again.

    It is also important to note, that in the Bible the three most regarded practices are that of 1) Holy Communion, 2) Marriage 3) Baptism. We know the meaning of Communion and Baptism, and marriage was an explicitly designed civil ordinance. While falling OUTSIDE of that ordinance (sex outside of marriage-regardless of orientation) befalls a sinful act, sex inside of marriage is named as a function to "go forth and procreate". How do you reconcile that homosexuality is for the means of sexual gratification without the ability to create life, and sex outside of marriage can produce children without parents?

    Since most of your commentary is less literal and more philisophical, I will be more philisophical for you. You appear to be a person with a belief that the Bible can be very loosely interpreted-dependent upon needs or desires of a church community. How, then, would you reconcile marriage being defined biblically (even as much as defining church leadership as being a man who is married to a woman-see Paul's instructions for leadership) between a man and a woman in several places in the Bible, even AFTER discussing the sin of dressing as the same sex, engaging in same sex practices, or having any sexual intercourse outside marriage? How would you explain reinforcement of that teaching throughout the Bible? If sexuality wasn't an issue-meaning homosexual or heterosexual, would we see acceptance of such in the Bible?

    If the laws of sexuality, handed down by God, were capable of being changed, shouldn't we see same sexed couples with the ability to make children come from God? Doesn't the Bible state that God knows our desires before we even ask? If gay couples want to marry and have children, and if loving relationships were paramount to God's law, wouldn't same sexed couples be given the ability to procreate through God's loving knowledge of their desires? Could it be that the sin that sexual immorality doesn't promote our best interests, and it will not be blessed? Biblically, sexuality was articulately designed by the Creator to be first and foremost, a plan for populating the earth. Secondly, it was a way of uniting married couples-always with the opportunity of perversion.

    General question and observations to anyone who has commented-Why is it assumed that heterosexual people have it easier than homosexual couples? Does anyone really know what crosses others have to bear? Perhaps they have sexual issues that they are struggling with in order to be in compliance with God's teachings!

    The reason homosexuality is an "issue" in Christianity is because a Christian marriage is one of the most blessed covenants. A person living in a Christian marriage values the faith of their spouse, and has a greater understanding of the institution that was Biblically organized. Often, understanding why it is important to wait until marriage to have sex, and the importance of parenting with a Christian spouse becomes evident-only after one is in a Christian marriage. These are things that cannot be taken away from Christians by marginalizing the teachings of Christ to uphold sexuality and marriage. One of the three most important situations in the Bible is that of marriage. For progressive Christians to stand up and fight for what God called an abomination, to be recognized as "natural, normal, Biblical, and worthy of marriage" is a disrespect to the millions who have turned away from their own personal sins, in order to be walking fully with Christ.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/14/2006 06:15:00 PM  

  • I just wanted to apologize to the blog world, at large, (hee hee) for consistently writing such long winded comments, that people are probably sleeping rather than reading...I'm trying to learn to condense my ideas...not getting an "A" in that department!

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/14/2006 08:45:00 PM  

  • Wow! What a fantastic debate. Thanks for starting us off with this Mrs Hammer! It's so interesting to have such sharp minds debate these fundamental principles. I need to re-read all of these comments before I can respond and I'll have to wait for a child-free moment for the that! but I did want to say thank you to you and Mr Hammer for replying to my comment.

    I would just like to make two points that came to me in the night:

    It is easy to accept a law (one of God's laws) when one can see the negative consequences of not accepting that law. Put simply, murder negatively affects yourself and other people; adultery negatively affects yourself and other people. I could even argue that eating prawns (as cited in one of John's comments) negatively affects you if they aren't properly chilled ! Even wearing artificial fibres ... quite smelly in a hot climate where deodorant hasn't been invented. But being a homosexual does not negatively affect anyone - it's as harmless as monogamous heterosexuality.

    I can see how you might argue back that "who are we to question the Word of the Lord", and my reply might be that one of the greatest gifts bestowed upon us by the Good Lord is our ability to question, and our freedom to question his Word.

    Sometimes I feel quite angry with God (when my father died suddenly I felt very angry with Him), but I still went to church. I didn't leave God. What is to be said of the faith of those who continue to worship God, despite possessing some negativity or anger, or with a mind that questions and even doubts some of what he might want for us?



    David m. Smith:

    Re: "Wouldn’t it be better to separate than pretend to worship the same God?"

    My immediate response to this was "yes" - yes please. Let's separate". And then I watched the news last night - and witnessed yet more bombings in the Middle East. More people killing people because they can not live together in harmony. And I re-thought my response to your question: "No. Definitely not. We do not need to separate. We MUST find a way of worshipping together despite our differences, as we have for centuries"

    This is an opportunity for the Church to demonstrate that it is possible for people to live and work together despite differences. There is a diabolical programme over here in the UK, and I think you get it in the USA too (not sure about Canada): "Big Brother". I've not been watching it this year, although I have in the past. 12 random people have to live together in a house for 12 weeks - and they never get along. Sadly, within the very church that I attend, differences of opinion turn into almighty spats with opposing cliques. It's time to put a stop to this division. If it can't be done on a small scale (with 12 people in house together for 12 weeks) or within a CHURCH or THE church, it's not going to be achieved internationally. I think that it's time now for THE church to lead the way. No to separation. Yes to discussion, discussion, discussion and more discussion.


    Is anyone still reading? I'm starting to bore myself here!!

    One again thank you for the fine debate. I look forward to reading more comments.

    By Blogger Ruth, at 7/15/2006 03:46:00 AM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "If it isn't the inerrant Word of God-meaning there are parts that, as you say, "are not factually accurate", then there is much room for marginalizing the Word, the way progressive churches are doing."

    So, when the Bible says that pi (the circumference of a circle divided by its radius) is exactly 3, you believe the Bible over the long-established mathematical "fact" that its value is 3.14159...? There are parts of the Bible where the text approximates, alludes, embellishes, elides and does all manner of strange things with the facts. And that's on the most basic of levels. The Bible's text is not inerrant in the crude sense you are suggesting, the sense I denied - that every word is factually correct in every possible application.

    Perhaps the best short explanation of the problem I've encountered is the simple reminder (by Sven) that the opposite of truth is not error. The opposite of truth is deceit. The Bible is true and is not deceitful in any way. It includes all that is necessary for salvation. It does not contain all Truth. It does not contain every useful fact. It does not speak to every possible human enquiry.

    "If it isn't the inerrant Word of God-meaning there are parts that, as you say, "are not factually accurate", then there is much room for marginalizing the Word, the way progressive churches are doing."

    All that amounts to is saying that you need it to be crudely inerrant if your faith is to persist in its current form. That is totally irrelevant to the question of whether the Bible is actually inerrant in that way.

    The problem is the association around the word "inerrant" - I've posted on this on my blog. Basically, I think it's become a worthless word, because it means too many different things to different people. I would be quite happy using "inerrant" if it meant only that the Bible was truthful in every matter pertaining to salvation, that it was without deceit and a reliable, divinely inspired self-revelation. I cannot use the word when it means that crude applications of biblical texts can be used to "trump" observable physical facts - such as the value of pi, or that the Earth orbits the Sun rather than vice versa.

    "I already talked about the civil, priestly and moral codes. I won't bother again, because there ARE three seperate laws in the Old Testament."

    But if we can't tell which is which from context, how do we do so? Is it not simply another excuse for picking and choosing? The only difference is that you are happy with this method because it's been endorsed by your teachers. That doesn't mean that it's any "better", and certainly doesn't mean that it's not, in fact, picking and choosing!

    ""The words do not change. The God behind them does not change. The meanings we see in the Bible will and must. Both in our own personal lives and in the life of the Church."
    What GOOD are the unchanging words, and the unchanging God, if He wasn't honest when he said that ... they were and always will be the same--yet now they aren't because the meanings are changeable?"

    I obviously wasn't clear. The words don't change (beyond the translation issues I mentioned). Our understanding does. Unless you are proposing that one learns everything in a flash upon conversion? Or that the Church's teaching has not changed a single iota since the Resurrection? Neither position is tenable. Each of us, individually, learns new things about God as we journey in faith. If we are not learning new things about God, we are not growing. And learning new things means that the things we thought we knew may change - and we cannot know beforehand which are the things that will change.

    "How do you reconcile the Biblical teachings that the Word is not to be removed from, altered, added to, etc?"

    Because that's not what I said. I don't want any of the Bible to be removed. I merely want it to be understood correctly. And, even more, I want God to be known more perfectly.

    "Social issues find themselves in churches that lend themselves to an opening of secularlism."

    Sorry, but I'm not sure what you mean here. Do you mean that social issues don't belong in the church? In which case, I can only recommend that you re-read the Gospels and see the issues Jesus spoke about. Remarkably few of them were "spiritual". Far more, He talked about actual physical obligations to our neighbours - our society.

    "His "continuing self-revelation in the life of the church" can easily be characterized by false teaching,"

    Oh, indeed it can. But a blind refusal to learn new things from God is a turning away from that God! Don't forget, as a Protestant, you automatically accept a huge and radical reinterpretation of the Christian faith that took place in the 16th century. It was in reaction against very real abuses in the Roman Church, but the Reformation was in no sense a return to "apostolic" Christianity.

    [Your defense of using only the Bible.]

    I'd suggest you actually read those passages.

    Deuteronomy means "obey the Law". It in no way says that the Bible is the sole source.
    Proverbs says "God's word is good" and doesn't even mention the Bible as sole source.
    Revelation clearly means specifically the revelation itself, not the Bible as a whole.

    "Marriage was a civil code"

    As I said, then, your threefold division of the Law is no more than an excuse to take the bits you like and leave the rest. I find it hard to conceive of how laws about sexual morality may be "civil" when it comes to heterosexuals but "moral" for homosexuals. As for the rest of the things you said about marriage, I'm rather concerned that you see sex as a purely procreative act. So, no contraception, no sex for the infertile, no marriage for those unable to consummate and conceive. That's a bad, bad road that reduces sex and marriage to nothing more than the biological.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/15/2006 04:56:00 AM  

  • Ruth-
    Here is what the Bible says about sexual immorality and why it is so harmful:
    1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who wins sexually sins against his own body. DO you not know that you body is a temple of the HOly Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

    Sexual immorality is a sin against God because it goes against the 7th Commandment, first and foremost. God also gave us earthly consequences for disobeying Him in this area- STD's. AIDS is especially predominant in the gay community, so I wouldn't say it is "as harmless" as heterosexual sex in a monogamous relationship.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/15/2006 09:36:00 AM  

  • I feel the need to interject briefly, so as to dispel myth.

    No one is "born gay."

    This is a scientific fact. How can I insist this, when so many others claim otherwise? Allow me both to present the evidence and define terms.

    When the Scriptures, both old and new, call homosexuality a sin, they are speaking specifically of homosexual behavior. One thing we can all agree on is this - no behavior is genetically determined! Every action we take involves a choice. For each action the level of compulsion from habit, training, environment and genetics varies, but our choice to take or not take any action still is the single most important factor to do it. We are not discussing reflexes or schema such as sucking when an object is placed in our mouths, but voluntary actions with others and by ourselves.

    Right away we see the disconnect between how some of us feel about gays and the Biblical prescription. The scriptures tell us how to act and how not to act with this specific issue. Our choice to act otherwise is the sin.

    Homosexual lust is no greater a sin than heterosexual lust. Lust is decried as sin by God. Lust is not a tendency nor an impulse, but dwelling upon an impulse or tendency. It’s not that I notice that a woman is attractive that is sin, but where I take that thought afterward that makes it lust.

    So, if neither our behaviors nor our lusts are genetically determined (both of which are condemned by God), what about our inclinations? I do not deny that there are myriad influences to a homosexual person’s inclinations. There are certainly genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. So, how do we know that people are not “born gay”?

    Twin studies have shown this to be true. Identical twins have the same exact genetic makeup. Thus, while they may vary widely in what jobs they end up taking, how they pursue education, their religious practices and political views, things that are genetic will be the same: hair color, eye color, skin color, handedness, and genetic diseases. The correspondence of these genetic traits is 100%. If an identical twin is right-handed, the other will be too, 100% of the time.

    Homosexuality has an identical twin rate of just under 50%. Considering that identical twins also have very similar environmental and behavioral influences, the confluence of identical genes and similar environment still only yields half of what genetic traits yield. Thus, homosexuality is not genetic, and therefore, cannot be something a person is “born with.”

    Do some have a greater inclination to homosexuality than others? I don’t doubt it. It has been proven that some people are more genetically disposed to alcoholism than others. However, it is not the genetic predisposition that makes one alcoholic, but the behavior. I also have inclinations to adultery, theft, lust, lying, murder and a myriad of other sins. The difference between those sins and homosexuality today is that “churches” are calling homosexuality “not sin”. We must be informed of the factthat no one is “born gay”, and we must be intellectually honest, that if we are going to call something that is sin, “not sin” that we don’t believe the Bible is true.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 7/15/2006 10:12:00 AM  

  • John,

    I read the quotes I placed in my comment.

    I don't believe truth is immediately revealed upon conversion. I do believe the truth, however, is present whether or not someone understands it or not. An hour in the Word, or 5 decades won't change what is written.

    I said that social issues find themselves in progressive churches, because they are the churches that are allowing for doctrinal divide. Believe it or not, believing that homosexuality and sexual immorality at large is a sin-was then, is now, doesn't mean that someone didn't read the gospels.

    No one needs to pick and choose which verses fall under civil, priestly and moral law of the OT. That should be clear for any reader, given the context in which they are being discussed. -Business practices, taxation, laws of setting up a house of worship, how to treat a prisoner of war., etc.

    If you are able to pick and choose, how do YOU decide what is the right one? I make mistakes all time, and I am not willing to take that on! I'd rather follow all of them. Not to mention that the Ten Commandments were given in the OT. Are they also too archaic to be included in our Christian walk? Or is that just more "common sense" that leads us to believe those are right, just as someone who is attracted to the same sex and says they were born gay also is "common sense"?

    "And this was the Word that was preached to you", was a binding comment that the words within the Bible were all preached, and to all be followed. It is an often missed verse.

    I disagree with your interpretation regarding Deuteronomy and Revelation. Deuteronomy is full of law that was carried forth in througout the Bible, and Revelation is the consumation of the entire Bible and revealing what is to come. It is certainly related to the teachings of the previous books!

    "The only difference is that you are happy with this method because it's been endorsed by your teachers." Yeah, you better believe it! Jesus Christ and the Bible IS my teacher, and until I get a personal revelation from God Himself that tells me that He was in error regarding the meaning of what sex is, and who it is for, and that anything else is serving the flesh, I will continue to believe this.

    It is an awfully liberal and secular argument that a Christian is "blind" and being "unthinkingly lead" into Christianity. Hey-as long as you are perfectly comfortable that homosexuals, fornicaters, the sex industry, and people having sex outside of marriage are not living in sin, then you can be perfectly happy with the world-they all say that, too.

    There should be no argument, really. Anyone can go ahead and be a member of a church with an ordained gay minister if they choose-even after the Bible discusses the requirements of such as being other. I will retain my right to rebuke it on Biblical grounds, as I stated, ad nauseum, in my last comment.

    This is my last comment on this issue, John, because you really didn't answer my questions on marriage and homosexuality. You merely meandered amongst the reasons why what was written must be wrong or outdated, or that the largest group of Christians are misinterpreting something they interpreted correctly until secularlism said otherwise.

    I said, quite CLEARLY that ALL SEXUAL IMMORALITY-meaning, ANY SEX OUTSIDE OF THE CONTEXT FOR WHICH IT WAS CREATED-MARRIAGE OF A MAN AND A WOMAN, is not a beneficial act, and is for sexual gratification.

    Please don't try to educate me on sex and what the purpose is. I have been married quite a while to a wonderful Christian man and we have four kids. We both understand the Biblical purpose of sex vs secular.

    However, we also can't ignore that the purpose of sex is also to procreate. If it were not, many groups of Christians would not allow Jesus to be the master in control of their reproduction. If sex were merely for means of sexual gratification, there would be no warnings, no consequences and no negative impact on society when casual sex occurs. Again, don't make this entirely about homosexuality. This is about morality, at large. Any sex outside of marriage is wrong and for the flesh only.

    Since you didn't answer, I can assume that you don't believe or don't know (which is fine) why marriage was established as a man and woman, why they can procreate, and why homosexuality and any sex outside of this holy covenant of marriage was both condemned in the OT and the NT, as well as completely absent from all references of marriage.

    Whatever the view on interpretations of the Bible, one thing is clear to me. I'm part of a Christian community that by and large is unwilling to change the Scripture to suit their burning loins of society!

    Fatherless homes, divorce, AIDS, STDs, children of step-step-step families or no families at all. Yes, I will continue to say that the only acceptable and blessed form of sex, according to the Bible, is that of beautiful sex that happens in the home of one married man and his wife.

    Thanks for the discussion. Good luck to all of you in laying out your points of view.

    John, It would be good to see some additional Biblical support of your views that homosexuality is an acceptable form of sex-given that the only teachings in the Bible claim it is not. You can argue that this or that needs to be reinterpreted, but we are talking about cross-teachings and cross-references to sex, marriage and immorality that pan the entire Bible. It can't be based on what you think it should be, but what is Biblically supportable.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/15/2006 10:21:00 AM  

  • Hammer,
    Sorry to point out an error so baldly, but you misunderstand the nature of twin studies. They often use twins who are *not* brought up together, specifically to avoid the shared environmental effects. Also, it's not true that genetic traits are shared 100% of the time, and that anything less means that it cannot be genetic. In the real world, genetic effects are very rarely 100%. It's only the schoolbook examples (like eye colour and blood type) that work this way. Most traits - and especially complex developmental and cognitory ones - are far less simple. 50% is actually a very high figure for trait inheritance, indicating that there is certainly a high genetic component to a trait (remembering that the figure for unrelated people is under 5%). However, you're right in saying that genes aren't everything. But that genes are important gives the lie to the myth that homosexual orientation is, in any meaningful sense, "chosen".

    What we can say with certainty is that sexual orientation is usually a binary condition - either opposite-sex or same-sex. If someone inherits genes that make it far more likely that they will, upon puberty, find themselves attracted to people of the same sex, it makes sense to say that they were "born gay" - if only to counter the extremists who claim that it's "all in the mind" or "just a perversion". It makes the clear point that their orientation (not their actions) was biased strongly from the very moment of conception.

    Now, as you said, orientation and action are very different things. However, once we accept that orientation may be innate and the result of inheritance, many of the old arguments against homosexuality fall apart (that it's "unnatural" or "a perversion of natural desires"). This is where we find ourselves now - with many of the old justifications found in the Bible for regarding all homosexual behaviour as sinful being found to be false, or at best misleading. This requires everyone to revisit the reasons for their positions on such issues. Those who support rights for homosexuals must show that the weight of evidence is sufficient to overturn old views (a hard task, necessarily). But, equally, those who argue that the old prohibitions still stand must show that there are good reasons for doing so. Simply saying "the Bible says so" is no good, when the Bible itself is using language we now know to be untrue (or at best unhelpful) like "against nature". Otherwise we are either ignoring the facts (because we know that the person's own nature is homosexual) or idolising Nature by allowing it a controlling moral voice.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/15/2006 11:56:00 AM  

  • Teamhammer: there is no doubting the strength of your convictions. You talk of being saved and you give the strong impression that you would like other people (people you don't even know, like me) to be saved too. I find that quite moving. I hope that any questions I raise do not offend you or anyone else. I don't think they will, because (and I read ALL of your blogs quite regularly - ah yes, I'm a very quiet reader of your blogs!!) debate seems to be welcomed; the intellectual tussle seems to be something you enjoy (not that you'll get much intellectualism from me, I'm afraid).

    Here's my overview of what I've read in the comments above. There are those who believe that practising homosexuality is a sin and that those who practise homosexuality will burn in hell for an eternity (along with other sinners). This view is backed up by quotes from the bible. However, opponents argue that other quotes from the bible no longer hold water - e.g. pi = 3, and that not every word is factually correct in every possible application.

    Whilst fundamentalists (may I refer to some of you as that for ease of reference?) argue that they base their Christian faith unfailingly on the word of the bible, liberals (ditto the above) admit, perhaps?, to picking and choosing a little from the bible...??? Oooh dear. Am I correct in that grossly over-simplified summary of the situation...? Whereas, in fact, the "pi = 3" argument indicates that fundamentalists also have to do a bit of picking and choosing, or "interpretation" of what is contained therein, and many would not deny that.

    So we have the basic argument: "homosexuality is a sin because the bible tells us so - and it tells us so many times" Vs "Ah yes, but you can quote from the bible to argue any point and/ or the bible also says pi = 3 and the world was created in 7 days - do you believe that too?"

    Whilst a fundamentalist may say that they wish to condemn no-one, nor to judge, I think that they have to accept that because they preach the view that (practising) homosexuality is a sin, there are those who will be condemned. They will be condemned to a lifetime of denying their sexuality (if they choose to remain celebate because of what you preach). They may be condemned to a life of not being ordained, even if they are called to be. Rightthinker, in my view, belittles the enormity of this when she says "I believe homosexuality has acceptance from many because the sin allows feeling good". Other commenters do the same when they compare homosexuality with committing adultery (I've no argument with your views on adultery, nor (possibly...?) with your views on sex outside of marriage). You belittle the homosexuality issue, in my opinion, because I take it that you are referring to the "feeling good" that is brought about by the sexual act. I mean, crumbs, there is a whole lot more to a relationship than that. There is the living together, the sharing of experiences, the supporting of one another, the strength one offers the other during times of sickness, of grief, the "being of a unit of two" within society.

    So what am I saying? Erm. I think I'm saying that I hope you feel totally and 100% certain in your beliefs before you go persuading others (not yourselves, because you don't need to) to significantly alter their lives, denying themselves loving, lifelong relationships. I think that the comments so far indicate that whilst one intellectual can argue with 100% certainty that homosexuality is a sin, another intellectual can argue against that. Finally, I think that if the fundamentalist view is wrong, then it will be the fundamentalist who stands before God on that dreadful day of judgment to justify the role they have played in (a) condemning a minority group who have been persecuted for centuries, and (b) turning people away from God because, in modern day society, many will not want to "join a club that embraces homophobia" (which is how the church is being portrayed by the media).

    Those final statements are harsh, but we are talking about who is going to burn in Hell for an eternity here - the stakes are high.

    Having said that, I would like to repeat that I do not wish to offend readers. I am exploring all of this and welcome the opportunity to debate it. The questions we are raising help me to clarify my thoughts and beliefs, but I do not want to offend others in doing so.

    By Blogger Ruth, at 7/15/2006 12:12:00 PM  

  • Ruth,

    My point with the "gratification" is that a lot of us are drawn to a lot of things that were not created as a positive thing. Sex acts are one of many things.

    We get a good feeling out of a lot of things that are not good for us. That doesn't make it right. Since I don't believe people are born gay-I believe exactly what Hammer laid out-that people have tendencies to certain things, and being gay may be one of them! Perhaps their cross to bear is tougher than others. Maybe mine or yours is tougher than theirs. The measure of salvation isn't what cards we are dealt, but how we trust in the Lord to give us salvation.

    In fact, being a Christian isn't even about happiness here on earth! Perhaps sometimes we AREN'T HAPPY. Christianity is not a therapy session or a self-help situation, only to make us happy here. The importance of Christianity is salvation.

    Yes, I understand how the media portrays me and other Christians with my views. I am not concerned, as the Bible was quite clear that would be happening. It is perfectly natural that the world begins justifying more and more anti-biblical things, year after year, even though the Bible says the teachings are timeless. As long as Christians are aware of this natural Biblical situation, there is nothing to worry about. Our worth is not measured by how much we are liked. The Bible says we may be hated. It is OK to stand for Jesus, and not for making others feel happy in their lives. Perhaps some days you or I would be happy living a different life? Sure! For me, sometimes the thought of getting drunk, and abandoning my life of high-demand responsibilities sounds nice!

    If you believe in God at all, then He is the God of the Bible who GAVE us instructions on how to be saved. Repenting of our sins, with a rebirth in Christ. I am 100% sure that I am saved in teh blood of Christ, that I am a sinner, I am no good no matter how much I try to be, and I am a sinner just as any homosexual is a sinner. I am 100% confident that the Word is unchanging, no matter how nice or otherwise good the sinner is that calls for the change.

    I do not turn anyone away from God. They do that themselves by determining that they don't "like" what the Bible teaches, so they won't follow it. I will not carry that burden and the Bible says I have the duty to speak the truth and my salvation doesn't rest on the shoulders of what others do.

    I have 4 children, Ruth. My children know the rules of our home and visiting others' homes and places of business, church, etc. They know they have consequences-geez, some of them are pretty severe for a kid because i believe in disciplined kids. But you know what? My kids still sometimes WILLINGLY choose the behavior they are enticed by, knowing full well that the consequence will be far longer suffering in the end. The Bible tells us we are all children of God.

    No one is denying that all kinds of sin don't have a strong draw, or that denial of these sins may cause difficulty. Jesus is a narrow gate. A person can be as good as good can be-unless they are reborn and repentent, they are still living for the flesh. Only one can occupy the heart of a man or a woman. The flesh, or Jesus Christ.

    I am so happy you are exploring these questions you have. I trust the couple hammer will have additional insights and thoughts for you to ponder! God Bless, and I wish you the very best in satisfying your desires to find answers in Him.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/15/2006 12:47:00 PM  

  • oh, just a quick note on something I forgot in my last comment.

    John had used, and then Ruth picked up on the 'pi' argument. Of course, the earth was a fairly new situation in Biblical times (yes, I do subscribe to the earth was created in 7 days, and before that there was nothing and the earth is still quite young) hard sciences had not yet been perfected.

    My answer to that is, as long as it wasn't Biblically commanded or condemned, then there is NO CONFLICT with new knowledge in math, sciences, etc. However, God never gave collaborative instruction for what the opposite of pi meant (ie-homosexuality being pi, and marriage being the opposite) and didn't condemn a miscalculation of pi. He did, however, condemn homosexuality, and laid out a perfect plan for all sexuality.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/15/2006 01:01:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 7/15/2006 01:37:00 PM  

  • Ruth-
    I didn’t get to finish my comments to you because I, too, had little ones calling! I have two in diapers and an 11 year old, and it sounded like a herd of elephants upstairs while I was typing my last response so I had to go attend to them. I want to tell you how sorry I am about your father and how I can fully relate because I lost my dad very suddenly just over a year ago. If you’re interested, you can look back in our June 2005 archives and read about it. That is the event that prompted my doing the series starting with “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.” I did read all of your comments and agree that division among brothers and sisters in Christ over petty issues is wrong. I think it’s important to determine who our brothers and sisters in Christ truly are, and I completely disagree with John’s comment: the road of schism [is] the road that sets doctrinal purity above community in the Body. Doctrinal purity on critical issues, like sin, SHOULD be set above community in the Body!

    Also, I ought to mention that your comment, “being a homosexual does not negatively affect anyone” really reflects that you are not viewing sin (all sin) as being primarily against God. Until you realize that all sin is first vertical (against God) because it separates us from fellowship with Him, and then horizontal (against man), you will not see a need for the salvation in Jesus Christ.

    John-

    You spent a large portion of the article focusing on this one issue [homosexuality]. This suggests that you think it's (one of) the most important distinguishing features between the "true" and "false" Christian. And this is the point I would strongly dispute.

    No, as I said before, the issue is not to single out homosexuality, but false “Christians” who deny the Word of God with their acceptance and promotion of it.

    All Ruth's (or my) view of homosexuality indicates is that we disagree with you. That is not identical with being either a non-Christian or unlearned. We may know all the same facts and follow the same saviour, and yet have come to different conclusions. There's nothing wrong with believing that the Church needs to change its teaching on something.

    Here is the crux of the argument. Your view of homosexuality indicates that you don’t agree with God. It shows that you do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. There is something very wrong with believing the Church needs to change its teaching to accept sinful practices.

    It's my intellect and faith that make me believe that God may (and I'd stress that "may") take a different view to the conservatives (on the issue of homosexuality).

    Talk about a dangerous road to tread!!! God never changes His mind about what is and is not sin!! “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6) You may (and I’d stress “may”) need to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)

    As for the Bible being divinely inspired: The orthodox view is that God used human beings in ways that left them as individuals. Their individual voices shine through their writings in tone, language and message. That they breathe the same Spirit doesn't mean that the authors were over-ridden in the way you describe.

    I didn’t mean that God actually controlled the pen on the paper in a literal sense, and I agree with what you said.

    The Bible is not God's ultimate self-revelation. That position belongs only to Christ. The written word exists only to bear witness to the living Word of God. The Bible is not itself God and must not be elevated to that position.

    I never said the Bible WAS God- that’s silly. The Bible exists to reveal the character of God. When we try to determine what God is like outside of the Bible, we are creating an idol of who we want Him to be. The God of the Bible abhors homosexual behavior and sexual immorality. Who is this God that you worship that “may” be O.K. with it?
    Don’t “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1: 25)
    “All will be condemned who have not believed the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:12)
    Don’t be “always learning, but never able to acknowledge the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)
    “Thy word is true from the beginning.” (Psalm 119:160)

    I am not saying that homosexuality is the central issue- but if you can deny God’s Word about one sin, you can debate the entire Bible and justify any sin you choose. You are sounding more and more like a “progressive Christian” (see the link in my posting), and as I said, moral relativism has no place in Christianity.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/15/2006 01:39:00 PM  

  • I also find it compelling that while homosexuals qualify their relationships under normal heterosexual definitions, studies are showing a supreme lack of actually being committed.

    We know heterosexual marriages fail, and that is a sad state, as well. However, homosexual's cannot state that they want to be identified the same as hetero's, when studies show the following:

    · The Dutch study of partnered homosexuals, which was published in the journal AIDS, found that men with a steady partner had an average of eight sexual partners per year

    · Bell and Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having one thousand or more sex partners

    · A Canadian study of homosexual men who had been in committed relationships lasting longer than one year found that only 25 percent of those interviewed reported being monogamous." According to study author Barry Adam, "Gay culture allows men to explore different...forms of relationships besides the monogamy coveted by heterosexuals."

    Journal of Sex Research, Brad Hayton says: Homosexuals...are taught by example and belief that marital relationships are transitory and mostly sexual in nature. Sexual relationships are primarily for pleasure rather than procreation. And they are taught that monogamy in a marriage is not the norm [and] should be discouraged if one wants a good "marital" relationship.

    · The Handbook of Family Diversity reported a study in which "many self-described 'monogamous' couples reported an average of three to five partners in the past year. Blasband and Peplau (1985) observed a similar pattern."

    · In The Male Couple, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison reported that, in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years:

    Only seven couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years. Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships.

    The studies go on and on and on, to verify that homosexuals by and large are not committed. More than 92% of homosexuals in one study, were shown to have or have had an STD.

    These are the groups that want to redefine marriage? Why bother? They ought to continue to define it the way they like to do at gay pride parades. Loud and in your face sexuality that has no clear cut boundaries of morality.

    All these studies can be found online by googling, "homosexuality monogomy studies". Most of these are well-known secular groups that study-no slants.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/15/2006 02:26:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    I'm sorry that I've angered you. I'm not being obdurate in order to annoy. I sincerely believe that excessive (and please note that "excessive") literalism and devotion to "the Bible" gets in the way of following Christ. For Christ is the Master of the Bible, not its servant. The Bible is a created thing, not part of the Godhead. It gains authority purely because of its divine inspiration - it has no intrinsic authority of its own, only the reflected authority of the Spirit behind it. And the Holy Spirit is active in the world, as the promised advocate who will lead us into all truth. To freeze our beliefs and practices is to commit idolatry - to make our religion more important than the God who is supposed to be its object.

    This is why I believe that simply retreating into "the Bible says so" is rarely a good answer to new questions. It leads to a cheapening of the Bible and damages its reputation and authority. We need to know why the Bible says things, and how the various parts hang together. We need to know why certain OT laws no longer apply to us. And we need to know why we still regard certain laws as binding. Otherwise we will have no answer when people ask us. Or when we ask each other.

    My basic approach to the OT Law is to follow Paul's teaching that Christians are set free from it - we live under grace. Which is not at all to say that we can do whatever we want. Rather, we apply the commandments of Jesus to love God and neighbour as fully as possible - regardless of whether a religious Law happens to condemn it. Just as Jesus did when He healed on the Sabbath. He was condemned for that by the religious leaders of His day because it was forbidden in the Ten Commandments (no less). And Jesus' answer was that the Law is less important than showing God's love in holy action.

    Please try and appreciate that I believe the Bible to be God's inspired word - I've said so rather strongly several times in this thread alone. The difference is that I believe that everyone interprets the Bible in some way. No one reads the Bible in a vacuum, and no one has "the one true meaning" of it. We do not follow the Bible but Christ alone. The Bible is nothing more than a witness to Him - the supreme and reliable witness, to be sure, but a witness only.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/15/2006 02:39:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    "All Ruth's (or my) view of homosexuality indicates is that we disagree with you.
    Your view of homosexuality indicates that you don’t agree with God."

    Please re-read what I wrote - all it means is that I disagree with you. You are not God (and wouldn't for a second claim to be). You are not infallible (and wouldn't claim to be). Your pastor isn't infallible (and wouldn't, I'm sure, claim to be). Therefore, you cannot speak with absolute assurance for God. You can say "I believe that God says this", but no more than that. And all I am saying is that I believe - based on the biblical evidence - that God may be (may be) saying something else.

    "It's my intellect and faith that make me believe that God may...take a different view to the conservatives...
    Talk about a dangerous road to tread!"

    Intellect and faith are not enemies! We must follow them, or we retreat from God. And there's certainly nothing that says that conservatism is God's Own Way.

    Theology is "faith in search of understanding", and that may be a dangerous path but it's a path into deeper knowledge of God and one's own situation.

    "I never said the Bible WAS God- that’s silly."

    Indeed. The problem is that the excessive literalism being displayed in this thread assumes that the Bible and God are equivalent - that when we see something in the Bible that we think is relevant, that's the same as God's own words to that situation. But our role cannot be ignored - the perception of validity may be wrong.

    However, don't make the mistake of thinking that I just write off the Bible, or believe that it's all relative. The Bible is God's word, and is real and authoritative. However, that's not the same as saying that crude inerrancy is a valid approach to understanding the text. We must (absolutely must) understand the context, the background and the type of literature (among other things) before presuming to lay down the law about interpretation. Doing anything else will result in us merely using the Bible to justify our own pre-existing biases (or those of the culture in which we find ourselves).

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/15/2006 02:52:00 PM  

  • Let me address the “pi” issue. The Bible does not incorrectly indicate pi is 3.0.

    The reference for this supposed error is 1 Kings 7, where Solomon is building the temple. He has a metal worker named Hiram making items for the temple, one of which is a “sea of cast metal”. The relevant verses say,

    “it was round, ten cubits from brim to brim…a line of thirty cubits measured it circumference…its thickness was a handsbreadth, and its rim like the rim of a cup”
    1 Kings 7:23 & 26

    We know from geometry that circumference = pi x diameter. Thus, the circumference of this sea would have to be 31.4 cubits. And so it is…the outer circumference, that is.

    What Bible-detractors miss is the width of the brim. After all, the diameter measured is brim to brim, indicating an outer diameter. But, with a brim of a handsbreadth, the inner circumference must be smaller. How much smaller? A cubit was the length of a man’s fingertips to his elbow – not a definite unit of measure, but averaging 18 inches. A man’s handsbreadth was exactly that, the breadth of his hand, again not standard, but averaging about 3 ½ to 4 inches. If Hiram had average length arms and average length hands, the inner diameter of the sea would have been about 9 ½ cubits, which comes out to a circumference of…yup 30 cubits. The Bible was not written to teach math, but it does not contradict it. That’s how we can avoid picking and choosing! Yes, I do believe the earth was created in 7 days.

    I understand twin studies, John. I have an MS in Psychology, and dealt with them. Any genetically caused condition will exists if the genetics are there, and will not if they are not. Please give me an example of one that this is not true for. I understand recessive and dominant genes, so no need to discuss those, because if one twin has them, so does the other.

    I did not deny that there is a genetic component of some type. What I deny is that anyone is born gay. One can only be “born” something if genetically forced to do so. Please stop mischaracterizing my position that it is a complete cognitive choice devoid of any other influences. That may be what others are saying in the world, but not I. Impulse does not ever have to equal behavior, but some of us have impulses that others do not.

    Ruth-

    I really enjoy having you here! I have so much respect for you, because you are completely honest in saying what you believe and why. I cannot be offended, so don’t worry about that! Call it like you see it! Also, from an earlier comment, I think I have learned from John as well, and he is my favorite “foil”!

    The scriptures point out what you see, that some will have to completely abstain from sex in “there are some eunuchs who were born so from their mother’s womb; and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Matthew 19:12

    we are talking about who is going to burn in Hell for an eternity here - the stakes are high.

    That’s true, Ruth. We have to realize that recognizing homosexual behavior as sin does not give us justification to persecute them, but just as we call liars sinners, we call homosexuals sinners, and beg both to come to Christ in repentance. The liars are no less offended by the Gospel. Jesus offended many, and so did John the Baptist. The first because he was “too liberal”, the second because he was “too conservative”. The Gospel is an offense to all who are without Christ, because it convicts them of sin and tells them that they are lost without repentance and submission to Him.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 7/15/2006 03:05:00 PM  

  • Ruth-
    First of all, you did not offend me, and I appreciate thoughtful comments that cause me to think about my beliefs more deeply and help me to grow in my faith. In short, if I am wrong in my beliefs, then God is a liar. I choose to place my trust in Him and bet my life on His promises. What are you placing your trust in for your eternal salvation?

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/15/2006 03:36:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    "What Bible-detractors miss is the width of the brim."

    LOL. Nice piece of exegesis, but it doesn't negate the point. The "obvious" meaning of the text is that pi is 3. To get the maths to work requires adding details not given in the text (i.e. that the two measurements refer to different parts of the sea - outer and inner diameters). That is, you're interpreting the text to make it fit. And you do so very nicely, but that doesn't mean you're not interpreting.

    Notice (all readers - I know Hammer knows this!) that "interpret" doesn't in any way mean "make up" or "avoid the real meaning". Interpretation is the action of extracting the meaning from a text. Even extracting the "correct" meaning (conceding its existence for the sake of argument!) would be an act of interpretation. And, therefore, when we have texts with no single obvious "correct" meaning, the interpretation becomes more difficult and interesting.

    "Any genetically caused condition will exists if the genetics are there, and will not if they are not. Please give me an example of one that this is not true for. I understand recessive and dominant genes, so no need to discuss those, because if one twin has them, so does the other."

    It's not to do with dominance - that's the schoolbook area. The phenomenon involved here is called "penetrance". This is (crudely) the degree to which a gene makes its presence felt. More accurately (in the context of genetic disease, for example), it's the probability of getting a disease if the causative gene is present. So, specific instances. Some genes show 100% penetrance - in Huntington's disease, anyone who has the mutant gene will get the disease. Other genes show much lower degrees of penetrance - in cancer, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are implicated in inherited disease, but inheriting the mutant form of the gene does not mean that you will inevitably get cancer; not even nearly. Indeed, the penetrance is actually quite low, although it's big enough to show up in studies. For breast cancer, the combined penetrance for both genes is about 70% by age 80 (IIRC). For ovarian cancer, the combined penetrance is under 25%. Even for this lower figure (well below the one quoted by others in this thread), these genes are considered to cause ovarian cancer.

    There's also a similar property called expressivity, which relates to the severity of the effect given that a gene does actually penetrate. For example, cystic fibrosis is caused by specific genetic mutations, but the severity of the symptoms are quite different in different people, with no relationship to the actual nature of the mutation.

    Both penetrance and expressivity show themselves differently in identical twins - it's not just a manifestation of the raw genotype. Common reasons for this include the need for further mutations for the effect to show up, or the need for loss of heterozygosity for an incompletely penetrant recessive to have an effect.

    In addition to both of these is the well-known phenomenon of gene-by-environment interactions, in which a gene's effect vary depending on the precise environment to which the person is exposed. Even for identical twins (especially those raised apart), the environment may be different, but the reaction to it is controlled by the genes - leading to different outcomes that depend on the environment but are controlled by genes.

    Sorry for the somewhat drawn-out genetics lesson, but it's important. It is simply wrong to simplify all genetics to what you learned in school. What is taught in schools is necessarily simplified. As someone with psychological training, you should know how complicated the human organism is!

    "One can only be “born” something if genetically forced to do so. Please stop mischaracterizing my position that it is a complete cognitive choice devoid of any other influences."

    A few things here. First, I'm sorry if I seemed to be mischaracterising you. I do try to indicate where I'm referring to wider writings, and it can get even more complicated when interacting with several divergent opinions in one thread. Anyhow, very sorry for any offence caused.

    Second, I don't think that language of "forcing" is useful here (it implies that genes have total control, which they don't always do). Better to talk about the degree of determination or control. So, I would say that someone is "born gay" if their resultant sexual orientation is largely or totally determined by their genetic makeup. That is, had they been exposed to a completely different environment, they would still have been gay. And the evidence we have is that, for some people, this is their situation.

    However, I agree totally that inclination and action are quite separate things and must be treated separately. The importance of innate inclination is that it causes severe problems for analyses of homosexuality that are based on ideas of what is "natural". And a large proportion of the Christian arguments against homosexuality depend on exactly this idea (even Paul relies on it heavily). And this is before we even start looking at the notion of what "nature" really means to the Christian.

    This is my point - that many of the traditional Christian arguments (not necessarily yours, Hammer) are based on errors (like the idea that the condemnation of Sodom had to do with homosexuality), category errors (regarding OT laws about homosexuality differently to OT laws about heterosexuality) or dubious assumptions (like the "naturalness" of homosexuality or the requirement for procreation for sex to be OK). We must face up to these problems. And, once we've solved them, we must try to see what remains of the Christian opposition to homosexuality. We may find that it remains (although it will necessarily be different to the huge majority of current discussions). Or we may find that it is severely diminished, or even demolished. What we cannot do is refuse the discussion - at least, not without losing all claim to morality.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/15/2006 06:03:00 PM  

  • Good morning!

    An observation that came to mind during the night:

    You describe homosexuality as a sin, just like all the other sins -no greater and no lesser than the other sins. But I see many distinctions between homosexuality and sins. Murder, steeling, adultery are acts of sin, whereas homosexuality is a way of being. So, Myra Hindley (convicted and sentenced to life for the murder of 3 children in the 1960s in Britain) repented of her sins. She became a staunch Catholic. She was never released and died in prison a couple of years ago. She had repented of her sins. So she goes to Heaven and a homosexual priest, or doctor, or nurse, a homosexual person who devotes their life to saving others burns in hell? I think that I could even create a case-study whereby a homosexual person who died in a Gas Chamber under the Nazis might, according to your beliefs, go to Hell, whilst a Nazi (providing he didn't commit the murder) would not. I fail to see how you can keep justifying these views on homosexuality with reference to ambiguous passages from the bible (and I define them as ambiguous because theologians like the ABC Rowan Williams can argue against them).

    Regarding: "What are you placing your trust in for your eternal salvation?"

    This got me thinking. If I'm honest, I'd not really given it too much serious thought (you're shaking your head is disbelief, aren't you! Yes you are!).

    Even without ever having read your blog, I never really assumed I'd necessarily go to Heaven - not without a firm talking-to at the Pearly Gates, at least. Having said that, I think I've always rather assumed that it's only really bad people who don't go to Heaven - murderers; those who commit acts that hurt others in a tangible way.

    I am a life-long church-goer (not sure whether that's relevant - I know it's not relevant when it comes to salvation). Actually, it's not even true - I went to church as a child and at the age of 18 I stopped going (and if I'm honest that was because I was put off from having any more to do with it by fundamentalist Christians at university). I began going again at the age of 23, stopped at 27 - and started again at 32 when pregnant with my first child. Now, the point is, I feel to have a (quite long-standing) relationship with God. I pray and He listens. Sometimes I know that my prayers have been answered. At times, I have felt closer to Him than at other times. I feel called to do certain things (like run a Toddler Prayer group) in a way that I can't really explain. So I think that I base my salvation on that - my relationship with God.


    Mrs Hammer - I was moved to tears by Hammer's account of how your father died. All I can say is I'm really sorry. I know something of what you've been through. I've not been able to locate your series beginning “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.” I would be interested to read that - I can't find it in June 2005. It seems we have one or two things in common - in many ways, the death of your father was very similar to the death of my father (I've written a very brief piece about it on my blog (June 2006)). I also read in your testimonial that you were married before, and, sadly, so was I. Lots for future discussion perhaps?

    By Blogger Ruth, at 7/16/2006 04:23:00 AM  

  • Ruth-
    If you skip through 'Mrs. Hammer's Testimony' which is on the sidebar, you will get to the 'series' beginning with 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow'. It may even help to answer some of the questions you had in your most recent comment, which I will have to admit I've thought before also! An important point that I tried to make in this posting is that homosexuals are sentenced to hell even despite their homosexuality! Even if they weren't gay, they are liars, thieves, etc, just like I am, and are deserving of hell for reasons other than their sexual orientation. I hope the series helps to make it more clear. After you read it, we can discuss those questions in your comment, if you still have them! :-) We do have a lot in common, despite our different views! Neat!

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/16/2006 08:11:00 AM  

  • John,
    I think the correct adjective for the belief that the Bible says pi = 3 would be that it is the "ignorant" reading, not the "obvious" reading. I do agree that we must correctly interpret the text, and that there is always a correct interpretation, and that we are not always able to do so. Where I disagree is when we see something called sin, it is sin. That never means we don't try to find out why - but our goal must be to find out why while retaining the recognition that sin remains sin.

    Sodom's destruction was more for homoseuxality than anything else we can divine. I have heard the textual revisionists lines on this, and they are weak. For readers' sake, lets acknowledge you don't agree and let this issue be for another day.

    Thank you for the additional info on genetic influence - but we are not discussing influence, which I already acknowledge. We are discussing two aspects of homosexuality, inclination and action. The action is sin. The inclination has yet to be demonstrated as purely genetic. When we call someone "born gay" we both know that activists mean that only genetics have a say, and that neither experience, cognition nor behavior are influencers. It is that I wish to dispel.

    There is no gay gene. Heritability is not genetic determination, and to claim that a behavior and lifestyle are genetically determined, we both agree, is untrue. To claim that the inclination "may" be genetic is as honest as we can be. However, in the end, we are talking about things we can only measure in surveys! A gay person feels much more comfortable if they are able to claim they have no choice. Barring the discovery of a gene that predetermines sexual desires, and knowing human nature, isn't it more likely that this very specific abnormality of thought and behavior is never purely genetically determined, the only possible way to be "born gay"? Acknowledging that, from Adam, men have sought to place the blame for their sins on anything and anyone but their own wicked hearts, isn't this just another example of it?

    Finally, there are people who inherit and extra "y" gene are are far more likely to become criminals. Recongizing their mental predisposition will not make the murder any less murder, nor any less a sin. All sin is an offense to God. However, this is one of the few foisted upon us by "churches" as "not sin". That's why it's an issue.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 7/17/2006 01:34:00 PM  

  • Ruth-
    As far as your last comment comparing grievous sins to “not that bad” sins (like homosexuality), again, you are assuming everyone will have the same punishment in hell. People will attempt to justify any sin they desire, no matter how cut and dry the issue is in the Bible (that homosexuality IS a sin is very black and white in the Bible) simply because they don’t want to believe it and refuse to.
    You had a really good point in your last comment when you said you were “moved” by my caring so much about your salvation. The fact that I care so much is a testimony in itself to how real Jesus is. Here’s why and what should move you: God loves you SO much that He is using someone all the way across the world, whom you haven’t even met and probably never will, to draw you to Him. I would like to say that I care so much because I’m just a nice person, but it is not I, but Christ in me, who wants to see you come to Him. Yes, I want everyone to experience what I know is so real in my life, but it is the Spirit of Christ in me that has agonized all weekend about how I can reach you, and what words I can say that will express what is in my heart. There is nothing in this for me except possibly the joy of meeting you someday in heaven and knowing that I played a small part in that.
    I couldn’t find your post about your father (June 2006) and I had no idea it was so recent. You have a tough road ahead, but God can use it for good. I have grown more spiritually this year than ever before in my life, and maybe you will, too.
    On a side note, I don’t mind being called a “fundamentalist”, as long as you mean someone who believes in the inerrant truths of the Bible. This word has a negative connotation because people equate fundamentalism with legalism. I am not legalistic, for instance, I don’t think it is a sin for women to wear pants.
    I felt sad when I read that you never really assumed you would go to heaven. That is such an honest statement and the fact that you acknowledge that is a step in the right direction. Most people think they WILL go to heaven, just based on their perceived “goodness” and what a surprise they will have coming to them. Jesus died so that you could have assurance of salvation when you repent and trust in Him. You don’t have to agree with God on everything to come to Him, you just have to agree that YOU are a sinner in need of His grace and confess your specific sins to Him. He will grow your faith to agree with Him on the rest in time. You do have to agree that even if a sin didn’t actually hurt someone else, it is sin against God. That is what you have to understand, and you can do that by seeing the spiritual nature of the Ten Commandments. (i.e. God views lust as adultery and hate as murder, etc) to see that you have transgressed His laws and need forgiveness. Don’t trust in your “relationship with God” if it’s not grounded in Jesus Christ. Here I go using the Bible again to “back me up”, but Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). It doesn’t matter how you “feel” because the Truth is that you can’t have a relationship with God apart from trust in Jesus.
    I also need to clarify you comment about Christians condemning others. I don’t condemn anyone, the Bible does, and therefore if I tell them what the Bible says about their sin, they don’t want to hear it because they hate God, not me. Jesus told us this would happen to Christians when He said, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” John 7:7). There are many “Christians” who will deceive you, whether they mean to or not. Anyone who preaches that homosexuality (or anything else that the Bible clearly labels as sin) is O.K. is preaching a message straight from hell (as my pastor said yesterday regarding churches ordaining unrepentant homosexuals- gee what a coincidence!)

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/17/2006 01:50:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    "Thank you for the additional info on genetic influence - but we are not discussing influence, which I already acknowledge. We are discussing two aspects of homosexuality, inclination and action."

    You are still, though, seeming to say that unless something is absolutely consistently 100% penetrative, it cannot be caused by genes. What I've been saying is that, even if a gene doesn't cause the effect in 100% of people carrying it, it may still directly cause a condition. As with BRCA1 and BRCA2, which directly cause cancer - but only in <25% of people with the genes. If someone with the gene gets the cancer, we say quite happily that the gene was the cause. That's the same strength of claim that I want to make about homosexuality, for those people in whom the cause is genetic.

    "The action is sin. The inclination has yet to be demonstrated as purely genetic."

    My point, though, is that the mere demonstration that the inclination is genetic (and hence "natural" to the person concerned) causes severe problems for many traditional Christian arguments against homosexuality. And that, if the logic behind a pronouncement is faulty, we must look afresh to see whether the conclusion is still sound.

    That is, the Bible says that homosexual acts are sinful - in much the same way as it says that eating prawns is sinful. We both agree that the prawns thing is a non-issue, despite the absolutely biblical declaration that it's an abomination. My question is whether we ought to make the same movement with regards to homosexuality.

    Again, I'm not saying that all homosexual acts are OK, nor that even homosexual acts within a loving, committed, monogamous relationship are OK. I insist, though, that the questions be addressed seriously.

    "When we call someone "born gay" we both know that activists mean that only genetics have a say, and that neither experience, cognition nor behavior are influencers. It is that I wish to dispel."

    Fair enough. However, when scientists say that there is a "gay gene", they mean something quite different. And when we're discussing the scientific evidence, it's the scientific language that we must use.

    So, to say that there is a "gay gene", we do not mean that possession of one particular gene means that somone will necessarily become gay. We mean that certain genes (and combinations of genes) increase the chances that a person will be gay. This means that, in those who are gay and carry the causative genes, we can say that the genes provide at least 98% of the driving force for their orientation, even though the genetic contribution may be only 50%. This is because the prevalence of homosexuality in the general population is only around 1%. If, therefore, we have a subpopulation (with this putative gene) in which the prevalence is 50%, the chances of someone in this subpopulation being gay are 50 times that in the general population.

    So, basically, it's an oversimplification to say that the trait must be "purely genetically determined" for us to call someone "born gay". If genes have a strong influence on sexual orientation (as they are known to do), we must admit that a gay person's orientation is dependent on their genes. Not "purely", but significantly. And this significant genetic component is one of the things that causes problems for the "naturalness" argument.

    "There is no gay gene."

    There is no known "gay gene" if, by that, you mean a piece of DNA whose sequence is known. But that's hardly susprising given the complexity of the trait. What we do know is that there are regions of DNA that are linked to homosexuality. These regions may contain a great many genes, most of which are irrelevant. But the linkage has been documented.

    "Heritability is not genetic determination"

    Genetics is nothing more than the study of heredity! If something is heritable then, by definition, it's genetic.

    "to claim that a behavior and lifestyle are genetically determined, we both agree, is untrue"

    Indeed.

    "To claim that the inclination "may" be genetic is as honest as we can be."

    Partially, I think. We can say that there is a strong genetic component in some people that makes them far more likely to be gay. And, if we agree that gay people don't choose their orientation, this means that for many people their orientation is effectively the result of their genes. They had no say in the matter, and no event in their upbringing caused it. Their orientation was inevitable. For others, this is not true - there may be other causes, whether genetic, environmental, pathological or elective.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/17/2006 02:56:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    "Anyone who preaches that homosexuality (or anything else that the Bible clearly labels as sin) is O.K. is preaching a message straight from hell"

    But, as we've already agreed, the Bible also declares that the eating of prawns is just as bad as homosexuality - both are "an abomination in the sight of the Lord". And yet, we do not regard shellfish in the same way as gay people.

    It's a trivial and annoying example, but it's a good one, because it shows how we happily discard portions of the OT Law. The logic behind the retention of certain portions is all that is at issue. There are certainly things that are sinful, but the reason they're sinful is important. We all know of things that are sinful in one context but innocent in another. The question is whether homosexuality might come into this category.

    It's not as simple as "if the Bible says it's sin then its sin", for Christians.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/17/2006 03:01:00 PM  

  • "It's not as simple as "if the Bible says it's sin then its sin", for Christians."

    It is for this one.

    Ugh, I said I wouldn't argue this point anymore, but I truly don't see how I can let something so clear, stand on false ground.

    The position regarding shellfish is ridiculous. Prawns were declared bottom-feeders, and unclean under Jewish law. Later, in the NT, Jesus blessed ALL ANIMALS and ALL FOOD fit for our consumption. (1 Timothy 4:1-4, Romans 14:2-3, 17)

    He did not bless, however, homosexual sex. He didn't bless sex outside marriage, group sex; He didn't bless rape, etc.

    He condemned sexual immorality AGAIN in Rev 1-3, when speaking to John regarding the 7 churches of Asia Minor. He declared that he HATED the association of the Christian church with Balaam, which was a sexual freedom movement within the Christian church. Without any constrains, Balaam endorsed open sexuality, both hetero and homosexual in nature.

    You can continue to mitigate the gravity of homosexuality, and sexual immorality, by imposing sentiments that the OT is archaic. Jesus decided which things were an abomination, and He alone chose to continually condemn sexual immorality throughout the NT, while repealing certain legalistic issues, such as sacrificial foods and prohibition of foods that were unclean.

    I eat pork, and I love prawns! I am quite certain Jesus was right when he declared these foods to be fit for consumption, but continually declared sexual immorality (again-any sex outside of the context for which it was created as a sacred act inside of marriage)an abomination.

    I know someone mentioned (I don't know who-I'm guessing John) that the sin of Sodom wasn't homosexuality.

    This is a common error made by supporters of homosexuality and "sexual freedom." The problem is this explanation does not account for the offering of Lott's daughter to the men outside the home, a sinful act indeed, but one that was rejected by the men outside who desired to have relations with the two angels in Lot's home. Gen. 19:5 says, "and they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.'” Those men wanted to have sexual relations with the angels who appeared also as males.

    Does it make sense to claim that God destroyed two cities because the inhabitants weren't nice to visitors? If that were the case, then shouldn't God destroy every household that is rude to guests? Gen. 18:20 says that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was "exceedingly grave."

    Not being hospitable to someone has never been considered an exceedingly grave sin, especially in the Bible. But, going against God's created order in violation of his command to fill and multiply the earth in the act of homosexuality, is an exceedingly grave sin.

    In fact, we know that it is exceedingly grave because in Romans we read about the judgment of God upon the homosexuals in that he gives them over to the depravity of their hearts and minds.

    This is a serious judgment of God upon the sinner because it means that the sinner will not become convicted of his or her sins and will not then repent. Without repentance there is no salvation and without salvation there is damnation.

    Therefore, the argument that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they were not hospitable, carries no validity. God called the acts abominable, created sex to be an act that occurs and blesses a marriage, and condemns adulterers, fornicators, and all of those with garments dirtied by immorality.

    It is also curious that few other things are listed as abominations, as often as sexual immorality. With all of the sins that we can perpetuate against God, God taught about sexual immorality just as much. His divine plan for what sex is, and what the purpose of sex is, could only be perverted by our sinful minds.

    If God created, or allowed sexuality that deviates from heterosexual sex within marriage, He would have named it as a sacred act, as he does heterosexual marriage. There is no mention of sacredness, and only condemntation.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/17/2006 05:04:00 PM  

  • I just wanted to add that I am not trying to convince anyone of anything with my commentary. I don't think it is possible to do so.

    However, God's Word speaks for itself. In examining God's Word, we are to decide if we will follow His teaching and His definitions of sin.

    It is quite clear that millions in this world have convinced themselves that homosexuality is normal, and pleasing to God. If it is not pleasing to God, it would be a sin...if it is not a sin, it is pleasing to God.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/17/2006 05:22:00 PM  

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    By Blogger xblairx, at 7/17/2006 06:46:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    I'm not meaning to be offensive or annoying here, but these are genuine issues that run far deeper than the essentially trivial issue of homosexuality. Indeed, this is why the focus on homosexuality as "the defining issue" is misleading. The question is whether we, as Christians, are people bound by the letter of the Law or people guided by the Spirit. And the reason I take the position on Law that I do is simply biblical, and very clear indeed, it seems to me.

    The issue is one that I thought Paul has settled. I don't say that the Law doesn't bind us because of arguments about specific permissions that Jesus mentioned. No, it's because of the blanket assurance that both Jesus and Paul offer that we are not to be governed by the Law. Paul writes extensively about how, for Christians, we are dead to the Law. We must act morally, but the structures of the Law are largely irrelevant. For (yet another) example, try circumcision. For the Jews, this was essential. For the Law, this is essential. For Paul, it was undesirable - and Jesus never said anything about it. There are simply too many examples to list of ways in which Christians have discarded the Law in favour of licence. To maintain that we follow the OT Law is simply wrong. We may use it as guidance, but we use only parts. And my question is still how we decide which parts - your threefold division is still without a framework because there is no contextual evidence about which part is which. The decision about which to include and which not is largely arbitrary, based upon already-held ideas of what is moral.

    "I know someone mentioned (I don't know who-I'm guessing John) Yes, that was me that the sin of Sodom wasn't homosexuality.
    This is a common error made by supporters of homosexuality and "sexual freedom." The problem is this explanation does not account for the offering of Lott's daughter to the men outside the home


    But Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned before the angels ever went there. This visit was merely a final act before the judgement - indeed, it was a visit of mercy, to see whether they might be saved.

    Also, using this story for any moral guidance is fraught, because in addition to the attempted male rape (quite different to consensual sex), we find Lot offering his virgin daughters for the mob to rape. Hardly what we would regard as a "moral" action! And this action fits better within a hospitality framework than an anti-gay one. In the anti-gay framework, there's no reason for Lot to act at all - they're fairly safe already inside his house. However, as the host, Lot has total responsibility and must try anything to protect his guests, even at the cost of his family. In other words, this shows that (for that society), hospitality to strangers actually came higher as a moral duty than duty to family! And, if we are to learn anything from the story, this is it.

    "Does it make sense to claim that God destroyed two cities because the inhabitants weren't nice to visitors?

    Yes, because in that society inhospitability was a very serious thing. Very serious indeed. Notice also how Abraham makes random strangers welcome - he goes far out of his way to offer them everything they need, when they are totally unknown to him. For us, hospitality is trivial. Arguably, this makes us a far less moral society.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/18/2006 03:27:00 AM  

  • I also thought I should make it clear that insisting that we live under grace, not law, in no way means that we are free to behave however we like. Indeed, in many ways, this is a stricter standard. Behaviour may be lawful and yet be sinful! As, for example, when someone insists on eating meat when eating with vegetarians.

    The point, though, is that the Law itself does not bind us. Sometimes, this will give us more freedom to act (by permitting things that were forbidden). Other times, it will give us less (by forbidding things that were permitted). But the Law itself is no more than a guidance. Its strictures are not, by themselves, enough. We must know that the guidance we give to one another for our actions are in accordance with the Holy Spirit of God. Which means that we must ask for the reasons behind an act being forbidden. And, as yet, I've heard no reasons behind the forbidding of homosexuality except "the Bible forbids it". Now, this gives us a starting point but no more. All I am saying is that we cannot simply stand at the starting point - otherwise we are imprisoning ourselves once more under the Law. We must follow the path faithfully to the end, wherever that may be. And I'm not insisting on any particular destination - only that we must walk the path, engage in the debate meaningfully, be willing to stretch our boundaries. We mustn't permit sin - but sin is not defined by what is lawful.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/18/2006 04:13:00 AM  

  • Enough of the prawn, John.

    We know that some of the law was aboolished by the new Covenant. Which parts? We have a number of ways to guide us that are not based upon the categories that RT lays out, ifyou don't want to accept them. I prefer to use a single method of discernment - the NT.

    God's word to us in Romans 14 clearly demonstrates that neither food laws nor days of observance are of any relevance to the kingdom of God. Thus, your prawn argument is specifically dissolved.

    There are myriad sins that are mentioned, as sin, in the NT. Homosexuality is one of them.

    We don't pick and choose what guidance for Christ-like living we are given under grace, because God has done it for us.

    XblairX,

    Of course the decision is not up to us, but to God. That is why he has preserved the holy scriptures for us, so that we may know "how shall we then live". He did not leave it up to us to figure it out as we pleased.

    1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 both specifically condemn homosexual acts as sinful. The decision was made for us.

    The Jesus you know never condemns sin? That must certainly be because it is the Jesus you made up for yourself. Allow me to present some examples of Jesus condemning sin:

    You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

    Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

    Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

    Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

    The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


    Passages selected from the first half of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

    The Triune God condemns all sin. Recognize your sinfulness, come to him in repentance, take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow him - that is when grace does its work, and you will be forgiven.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 7/18/2006 10:46:00 AM  

  • I already said that it was a sin to offer Lot's daughter. The idea is that the homosexual act was more deplorable, than even offering up of a daughter. The city was condemned because God knew of their sins prior to having committed them.


    I know these issues run deeper than homosexuality-that is something I have been stating. However, "unraveling" the Word, so that people may be justified in having sex outside of the holy marriage of man and woman is not OK with me, no matter how much you go on and on to make it appear that anyone holding steadfast to the Law written down is less intelligent for having done so.

    I HAVE asked the reason why the act was forbidden. YOU still have never answered my questions regarding WHY marriage was established the way it is, and defined the way it is, while homosexuality and non-married sex is condemned, so don't make it appear that I haven't evaluated that scenario. My entire belief that homosexuality is a sin, as all other sin, and held often equally or MORE abominable by God Himself is based on this-

    1) God defined marriage as a sacred act between a man and a woman
    2) God condemned sex between 2 same-gendered people as a sin
    3)God condemned any sex outside of marriage as a sin
    4) Marriage is defined as a covenant between one man and one woman, therefore no other persons are considered married (but a man and woman) in the eyes of scripture
    5) Marriage is so holy, that it was the basis of creating multiplication upon the earth. This covenant is RESPONSIBLE for the multiplication on earth! No other sexual acts can produce that-homosexuals cannot (no matter how much they try to pretend) HAVE a real marriage. They are not capable of having heterosexual sex, therefore their sex is to self-gratify
    6) This sex is an act of flesh therefore condemned as living for ones desires, not for the Lord


    Sex is an act to occur in marriage for which it was created. ALL SEX outside of marriage is a sin. I don't care how much you argue that one must "read deeper". I read the Diving plan of the Lord as being one where marriage is something that can add and build to the church of Christ-homosexuality is one that has divided it since the OT, and continued through the condemnation in Revelation.

    God condemned and will continue to condemn. If there are those that aren't at all concerned that homosexuality is a divisive and condemned practice that is pressured to be allowed and promoted (see mrshammer's links) within a Christian church, I will pray to God that He will produce the division in the church to separate those who wish to follow the Law, and those who wish to create their own to satisfy their desires.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/18/2006 10:58:00 AM  

  • I meant "Divine" plan, not "Diving"...

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/18/2006 11:14:00 AM  

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    By Blogger xblairx, at 7/18/2006 12:34:00 PM  

  • xblairx-
    Where are Jesus's words on child molestation? Where are Jesus's specific words on rape, incest, pornography, domestic violence, etc? There aren't any, so does that make them O.K.? Jesus condemned sexual immorality in general (Matthew 15:19), and since he is not just our "example to follow" as you suggest, but is GOD HIMSELF, the entire Bible is His word and valid. Sorry if you don't like that, and yes, that makes you a relativist.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/18/2006 01:55:00 PM  

  • One more thing, a verse to ponder for all who wish to keep arguing that homosexuality is not a sin:
    John 8:47 "Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God."
    xblairx- Which Jesus do you follow as your "ultimate example"? The one Who says, "Unless you repent, you will perish"? (Luke 13:3)
    Have you repented and trusted in Jesus?

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/18/2006 02:04:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    "We know that some of the law was aboolished by the new Covenant."

    We know far more than that. We know that we are set free from the Law - totally free. Paul writes at length about this in Galatians - the whole book stands for the proposition that we are justified by faith in Christ and have been set free from bondage to the Law; we are to live by the Spirit. Indeed, he goes so far as to say (in discussing the opposition between the Spirit and sin) that "if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law" (Gal 5:18). Further, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." And this slavery is the Law - characterised here particularly by circumcision, but this stands for the entire Law.

    "God's word to us in Romans 14 clearly demonstrates that neither food laws nor days of observance are of any relevance to the kingdom of God"

    Indeed. But my point is that there is ample evidence that the entire law is of no relevance to the Kingdom. As I've said, Galations stands for this point in its entirety, but Paul says the same through much of Romans: "all who sin under the law will be judged by the law" (Rom 2:12) [a warning to those who want to hang onto the law, perhaps!]; "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known" (Rom 3:21) [that is, righteousness no longer depends on law]; "sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace" (Rom 6:14).

    Again, this is not to say at all that the Law has passed away, but that the standard is different for those who live according to the Spirit (to borrow Paul's phrase). In many ways, it is a harder standard, but what we can say is that the Law itself has no claim on us - no part of the Law can be used, of itself, to condemn a Christian. Rather, the standard is whether we live according to the Spirit - do we show the fruits of the Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? As Paul says, "The entire law is summed up in a single commandment: 'Love your neighbour as yourself'."

    The Law has been fulfilled and surpassed by the victory of Christ. For those who have died with Christ, the Law is dead (Paul goes into some detail about this idea in Romans 6-7, especially 7:1-6). That is what I am saying - not only a few details but the whole Law is dead to us. We live by the Spirit, which means a higher standard but a different one, governed explicitly by love for God and neighbour.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/18/2006 02:31:00 PM  

  • Xblairx-

    I understand that it is far easier to believe that being a Christian means just being a humanitarian.

    If we can agree that there are great humanitarians in the world that aren't Christian, then we have something to work with.

    Through history, there have been countless humanitarian people who have been great at their promotion to stop hunger, stop wars, increase peace and love, etc. We can think of well-known humanitarians such as Ghandi, and understand that many of the world's religions teach peace, harmony, pacifism, feeding the hungry, etc.

    The other thing we have had through history is the non-failing and unchanging Word of God. This is a history that is backed by an unbreakable chain of verification of accuracy. It is either all truth, or all false. There is no in between. You see, other religions have relativism as their core philosophies. Examine Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, etc., and you will find nothing but relativist beliefs.

    Christianity has a moral compass that cannot be altered for human gratification. No one has said that following Christ is supposed to be easy. However, while Christ is the ultimate humanitarian, we cannot read His words to be kind and feed the hungry, and not read the words that teach what is right and wrong. To do so makes Christianity pliable. It is not.

    If one is not comfortable with the teachings Christ gave, they are being convicted. This should lead to either a complete surrender to Christ, or a rejection of teh Word, as a whole. As we probably both agree, there are other religions that promote homogeneous beliefs that can incorporate any lifestyle, choice, thought, deed or purpose, based on what someone feels is right.

    Indeed Christ is love. He loves us so much that only He understands the plan for us. He has given us a teaching to follow that is for our best interests. If He knows all, why would he tell us to deny our flesh when it can "feel" so right to accomodate it?

    Christ is love however Christ is also judgement. If we are truly Christians, we are not judging the souls of anyone else, but judgement must occur on our part to be able to decipher false teachings, false prophets, heresy, etc.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/18/2006 02:45:00 PM  

  • John,

    The whole law is dead to us? Wow...to believe that is true, would mean that I would have to abandon every single thing that the Holy Spirit through the Bible has spoken to me regarding sin-meaning my own!

    If the law is dead to us, that absolutely nothing matters..nothing. We have no moral compass other than to be nice to people. What a waste of time this whole Christianity thing could be to everyone!

    Anyone can decide to follow Jesus, and still be living in the flesh, because apparently, the only true law in teh Bible is "love thy neighbor as yourself"?

    The world can spread a lot of love (as well as a lot of other things) if we just love eachother.

    Do you have any explanations yet, as to why marriage was defined in the Bible, if love is the only goal?

    There sure are a lot of irrelevent pages in that big Book. It's almost like when I look at the JC Penney catalog. Usually there are only a few pages that catch my eye..

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/18/2006 02:56:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "The city was condemned because God knew of their sins prior to having committed them"

    That's not supported by the text. No specific reason for the condemnation is given (it says "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous"). And to contend that God condemned two cities for an act committed in only one of them - and committed only because the angels went at all - is surely a stretch.

    "no matter how much you go on and on to make it appear that anyone holding steadfast to the Law written down is less intelligent for having done so"

    I'm not trying to imply that anyone is less intelligent. The issue is, for me, "holding steadfast to the Law". I believe that it is not Christian to hold fast to the Law. We are set free from that, we live under grace and by the Spirit (see post above in reply to Hammer). The Law has no hold on Christians. This is what the NT says again and again. To retreat into living under the Law is a step backwards away from Christ's salvation, not a faithfulness to it.

    "4) Marriage is defined as a covenant between one man and one woman, therefore no other persons are considered married (but a man and woman) in the eyes of scripture"

    As we've already discussed, this isn't what the Bible says. The Bible shows us several quite different models of marriage, and the most prevalent one (the OT one) consists of one man having several wives, plus concubines if he's rich. And notice that the acceptability of concubines means that sex between unmarried people is explicitly sanctioned in the Bible! Even Abraham had a child with a slave girl - and that child inherited a portion of God's blessing (even though the greatest part went to the legitimate child), which is equivalent to divine sanction for Abraham's action.

    "3)God condemned any sex outside of marriage as a sin"

    Interestingly, therefore, I actually agree with you on this point. Despite the evidence in the OT, I believe that sex outside marriage is wrong. Where I suspect we differ is in the nature of marriage. In line with practices throughout history, I don't believe that marriage is defined by a particular ceremony. Indeed, if we try to insist that marriage is defined by promises made "before God", we deny the validity of civil marriages, and secular marriages in particular. Rather, I think that marriage is defined by the declaration of the commitment of the two partners. Even the presence of a sexual relationship is optional - there have been many celibate marriages, for both religious and medical reasons.

    This is part of the problem, though. We have defined "marriage" in such a way that we get into circular reasoning when thinking about homosexuality:
    - Two men (or two women) cannot get married to one another because marriage is between one man and one woman.
    - God said marriage was between one man and one woman because it's wrong for two men (or two women) to get married.
    Circular reasoning degenerates into a simple assertion - marriage is between a man and a woman only, because marriage is between a man and a woman only. It's attractive because it's self-consistent. However, it's only self-consistent because it's not actually saying anything.

    Notice that, in the NT, the closest anyone comes (as far as I can recall) to defining marriage is Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:
    'Do you not know that he who unites himself with a [woman] is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh".'
    The particularly interesting part is that word I substituted with "woman". In the actual context, the word is "prostitute". In other words, for Paul, the sex act itself is what makes two people "one flesh", whether there's been a marriage ceremony or not. That is, the closest we can come is to say that any people who have sex are actually married by virtue of that fact! Hence, it's wrong to speak of "sex before marriage". We can talk about sex outside marriage - although by Paul's reasoning, even that effectively means "polygamy", a practice approved of in the OT.

    "5) Marriage is so holy, that it was the basis of creating multiplication upon the earth."

    Again, though, this isn't actually written in the Bible. It's an idea extracted from the text based on a particular line of reasoning. And I don't think that it's really sustainable. Notably, sex outside marriage is just as effective at creating multiplication upon the Earth as sex inside marriage. Nor is there any obvious link between the holiness of a person and the number of children they have - if there is a correlation, it's negative (the holier the person, the fewer children they have).

    "5) [continued] No other sexual acts can produce [children]-homosexuals cannot (no matter how much they try to pretend) HAVE a real marriage."

    But I've already showed the huge problems with directly linking procreation and marriage. According to the logic you've used, no infertile or impotent person may get married, and all marriages must terminate at menopause - because there is no possibility of children, there is no possibility of procreative sex and hence no "real marriage". It's actually even worse than that, because this logic would also condemn all contraception - a practice that most Christians (even most Roman Catholics, the most anti-contraception denomination) accept.

    This linking of procreation to marriage is tempting when trying to define exactly what marriage is, but it doesn't hold water. Certainly, it doesn't work for the vast majority of Christians without serious hypocrisy. There may be a small number of Christians who hold fast to this extreme interpretation (that sex is only legitimate when used to procreate children) and, for these people, they could consistently oppose homosexual sex on these grounds. But they would have to oppose the whole rest of the Church at the same time for its position on sex as legitimately about pleasure as well as procreation.

    "5) [continued] [Homosexuals] are not capable of having heterosexual sex, therefore their sex is to self-gratify
    6) This sex is an act of flesh therefore condemned as living for ones desires, not for the Lord
    "

    But sex is gratifying to the self. That in itself does not render sex wrong. Sex between husband and wife outside the fertile period is not wrong, even though there is no chance of conception. Indeed, the "self-gratifying" aspect of sex is precisely why it's regarded as part of marriage - the giving and receiving of intimate pleasure is a (but not the only) core of what builds the marriage bond. Without the "self-gratification", sex would not be what it is.

    Your point 6 actually stands for the assertion that marriage itself is wrong and that we should all be celibates dedicated to the Lord. Doubtless this is true for some people (indeed, I have quite a few vowed celibate [heterosexual] friends) but as you know it's certainly not true for all.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/18/2006 02:58:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    We overlapped on those posts there! In answer to your question about marriage and love, I'd point you to Hammer's post on divorce and remarriage, on which we've been debating a similar point. It's possibly worth keeping that discussion separate from this one, for clarity!

    As for your other point:
    "If the law is dead to us, that absolutely nothing matters..nothing. We have no moral compass other than to be nice to people. What a waste of time this whole Christianity thing could be to everyone!
    Anyone can decide to follow Jesus, and still be living in the flesh, because apparently, the only true law in teh Bible is "love thy neighbor as yourself"?
    "

    But I was quoting from the Bible, in context and with care - those statements you're claiming to be wrong are direct quotations. Specifically, I'm quoting the words of Jesus, the Son of God, and of Paul, apostle to the gentiles. What exactly is your problem with that? If you have a problem with the words of Jesus and Paul, perhaps you need to think more carefully about why. I believe that they more than support what I've been saying - that the Law does not bind Christians. Rather, we are held to a higher (not lower!) standard of living by the Spirit, whose entire approach may legitimately be wrapped up in those two commandments.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/18/2006 03:08:00 PM  

  • John, Xblairx, or anyone else-

    Does anyone have an "alternative" explanation of Revelation 1-3, When Jesus revealed to John His affirmation and rebuke of the seven churches?

    I understand the arguments involved-that the Law was removed by Jesus, and that now the Law is whatever it needs to be.

    My question is, Why Jesus hated those "Christians" that followed the doctrine of Balaam-the sexual freedom doctrine? Any insights there?

    I don't intend any disrespect, but I have been asking for the relativist view of God's creation of marriage, and I haven't heard anything to explain the reconciliation of marriage and God's condemnation of sexually immoral acts.

    Now I want to hear why God threatened to "vomit them out of his mouth", in regards to those accepting and promoting fornication and sexual practices within the Christian church.

    1) Marriage definitions, condemnation of sexual immorality including homosexuality.

    2) Condemnation of Balaam, Nicolaitines and Jezebel.

    (and I am not arguing that any other sin that was named by God as a sin isn't really a sin-so no need for mitigating rabbit trails)

    Thanks!

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/18/2006 03:09:00 PM  

  • It can't be separated for clarity.

    If God set up marriage of a man and woman to include sex and procreation, and no other sexual encounters were blessed, then they are indeed relevant to homosexuality and sexual immorality.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/18/2006 03:10:00 PM  

  • No, my point 6 means that sex inside of marriage is right-gratifying and BLESSED by God Himself.

    It also has purpose, in that God can give couples children when He chooses to. He can't impregnate a man via a penis in his rectum-sorry for being so graphic, but let's be real here.

    Sex is beautiful and gratifying. So is being a parent. So is being married, but those are blessed institutions and situations, designed by our creator. To experience gratification from a holy institution is right and morally pleasing to God.

    To have homosexual sex may be gratifying, but is not morally pleasing to God.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/18/2006 03:13:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "God can give couples children when He chooses to. He can't impregnate a man via a penis in his rectum"

    You're still stuck in this "sex = procreation" thing. If we're to get out of this dead end, can we clear up whether you, in fact, fall into that small group I mentioned above who believe that sex and procreation must be linked (no sexual activity of any kind, even between husband and wife, unless procreation is a possible outcome [i.e. penetrative vaginal sex with no contraception only])? If so then we will have to agree to disagree for now - that really would be off topic and a lot of work to get through. For now, though, I will just say again that you are in a tiny minority of Christians in this opinion (if, in fact, this is what you have been taught).

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/18/2006 03:22:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "Does anyone have an "alternative" explanation of Revelation 1-3, When Jesus revealed to John His affirmation and rebuke of the seven churches?"

    No alternative is needed. The condemnation is of sexual immorality and other morally corrupt practices. I have no issue with that. There's no hint here that homosexuality is in view.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/18/2006 03:26:00 PM  

  • You are really embellishing what i have said.

    The idea that marriage is the constraints for which sex and reproduction are to occur do not mean that they must occur. That, again, is up to God.

    Taking the very basic parameters for marriage and reproduction means that sex is appropriate in marriage. It is not appropriate outside marriage.

    If sex or reproduction can't or doesn't happen in marriage, it doesn't mean the marriage isn't valid. Likely, the couple didn't know it wouldn't occur upon marrying. This doesn't dissolve the marriage.

    It really comes down to this. If a person is really fine with homosexuality as a blessed creation from God, then so be it. Just don't tell me that I have to disregard the Word of God and follow that belief. There are too many scriptures in the OT, and the NT, that tell me that it is wrong, as well as the fact that many others will say it is right.

    Just feel lucky, though! As time goes on, those with homogeneous views will be patted on the back for being far more sensitive and caring and reasonable than us Christians with wacky Old Time Religion...

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/18/2006 03:27:00 PM  

  • Here is what I summarized from my study notes a few weeks back:

    When we read in the New Testament that Jesus Christ threatens the church in Pergamum with the sword for tolerating the Nicolaitans, what provokes our Lord's righteous wrath is false doctrine similar to that of Balaam.

    There we have a situation in which Christians would absolutely refuse to deny Christ at the point of a Roman sword. But at the same time, they thought nothing whatsoever wrong with participating in certain pagan practices.

    Christians were being led away from Christ by those in their midst who were teaching that it is perfectly acceptable to worship Jesus and at the same time to participate in certain and sexual practices like orgies, which are sex events of all genders that are identified with Balaam and Nicolaitanes, and they were PART OF CULTURE IN PERGAMOS, THAT WAS ADAPTED INTO THE CHURCH.

    The Nicolaitans were not denying Christ directly, but doing so implicitly can be seen when Jesus warns this church about eating meat sacrificed to idols, as well as reminding them about sexual immorality.

    Recall that Paul speaks about this same matter in his first letter to the Corinthians. It is addressed at the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, when the leaders of the church affirmed with one voice the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone, while at the same time insisting that Gentiles avoid eating meat used in pagan sacrifices and sexual immorality.

    Paul calls this eating meat related to uses in paganism and worshipping in a church that is incorporating non-marital and non-gendered sex into doctrine
    "sharing the table with demons" in 1 Corinthians 10. It was even more condemned because of it being incorporated into doctrine.

    Jesus also told John (verse 15), “Likewise you have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” This group is mentioned in Revelation 2:6. Brief references in church history indicate that they took the view that Paul combated in 1 Corinthians 6:12,13. There he wrote: “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

    What the people of Corinth were saying, and perhaps the Nicolaitans too, was that sexual activity is just like eating. Just like the stomach is made for food, so the body is made for sexual activity. You are a child of God. You can act any way you want.
    The truth is despised when the gospel is turned into a license to sin.

    Therefore Jesus warns, “Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

    What happened to the Israelites when they convinced themselves in Numbers 25 that God wouldn’t mind them dabbling in the sexual practices of the Moabites? Twenty four thousand of them died in a plague!

    Look at 1 Corinthians 5:1-13. Paul gives us instruction how to deal with the person who is sexually active outside of marriage.
    "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among the pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. I have written to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat."

    Jesus is coming back. The question is—are we going to be ready and are those around us going to be ready?

    Now is the time to for us who believe to have the courage to speak clearly to those who are permitting of immorality. Now is the time for the married to remain faithful. Now is the time for singles to wait for marriage. Now is the time for those drawn to immoral acts to deny themselves their pleasures.

    Now is the time to talk to those whom we love—not to be proud of our permissive attitude, and not to be fearful that we lose their friendship—but speak the truth in love. And if they do not repent and still claim to be Christians, then Paul says, “Don’t even eat with them.” We are to to make it clear to them that Jesus is coming—and he will come with his sharp double-edged sword to pronounce judgment on all who despise his truth.

    I come down at this point-when Jesus comes back, what do I want to be found doing? Worshipping the Lord in my home, my church, my car...teaching my kids, in bed with my husband to which I am lawfully married...or, do I want to be found lying, cheating, stealing; or having unmarried sex, homosexual sex, living a life of sin as if it were blessed?

    I'm no better than any other sinner, yet I understand that when I am called to Christ, I must answer that call with a fully repentent heart.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/18/2006 04:27:00 PM  

  • John-
    To freeze our beliefs and practices is to commit idolatry. This comment of yours supports the theories of “progressive Christianity” that I linked to in this posting. Show me some Biblical evidence that adhering to the unchanging truths of the Bible is idolatry. I am not talking about religious practices or traditions of the church, as I know that can be and is a form of idolatry, I mean freezing beliefs. Don’t even go off on the prawns again! God did not say “those who eat prawns will not inherit the kingdom”, but he did say those who practice homosexuality and all sexual immorality would not.

    I sincerely believe that excessive (and please note that "excessive") literalism and devotion to "the Bible" gets in the way of following Christ. Legalism, not literalism, gets in the way of following Christ. There are no “literalists”- When Jesus says, “I am the door”, any thinking person realizes that Jesus didn’t mean an actual “door”.

    I believe that everyone interprets the Bible in some way. Yes, they do. Some interpret it correctly, and some interpret it incorrectly. Some people are right, and some are wrong. There are only two ways! No one has "the one true meaning" of it. This shows that you are a relativist (i.e. there are many ways to interpret the Bible) and do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible or its moral absolutes. The Bible is nothing more than a witness to Him. God also gave us His word to guide our lives and show us His moral absolutes.


    You cannot speak with absolute assurance for God. You can say "I believe that God says this", but no more than that. And all I am saying is that I believe - based on the biblical evidence - that God may be (may be) saying something else.

    Yes, I can speak with absolute assurance for God (that homosexuality is a sin) when I am simply affirming a Biblical truth because they are not my words, but His. Show me biblical evidence that says otherwise.

    Intellect and faith are not enemies! We must follow them, or we retreat from God. And there's certainly nothing that says that conservatism is God's Own Way. I never said faith and intellect were enemies. Christianity is not a blind faith. I also never said that conservatism was God’s Own Way, certainly not in every political issue, but on the issue of homosexual ‘marriage’ it is!

    We must (absolutely must) understand the context, the background and the type of literature. Yes, I agree.

    when we have texts with no single obvious "correct" meaning, the interpretation becomes more difficult You are a smart person. How much more obvious can this passage be?
    1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” If homosexuality can simply be deleted off this list, why not any other sin I prefer to indulge in??

    We both agree that the prawns thing is a non-issue, despite the absolutely biblical declaration that it's an abomination. My question is whether we ought to make the same movement with regards to homosexuality.

    And why not also make the same “movement” with regards to incest, bestiality, polygamy and every other form of sexual immorality that the Bible calls sin??

    The acceptability of concubines means that sex between unmarried people is explicitly sanctioned in the Bible! No, it doesn’t at all. Just because there is a presence of polygamy and sexual immorality in the OT doesn’t mean it was condoned by God.

    Even Abraham had a child with a slave girl - and that child inherited a portion of God's blessing (even though the greatest part went to the legitimate child), which is equivalent to divine sanction for Abraham's action. No, it isn’t equivalent to divine sanction for Abraham’s action. God blesses people who don’t deserve it all the time!

    Your words to RT: can we clear up whether you, in fact, fall into that small group I mentioned above who believe that sex and procreation must be linked (no sexual activity of any kind, even between husband and wife, unless procreation is a possible outcome

    I will clarify for ‘Rightthinker’ since I know her personally that she is not among the small group of “Christians” who view sex as only for procreation. That is not her point at all, so don’t try to label her as some kind of radical religious nut to discredit her arguments.

    Yes, we are free from the Law (the Ten Commandments) and thank God, because I could never live up to them. We are governed by the Spirit and not judged by the Law, but this doesn’t mean we don’t have to attempt to follow the Commandments by the Spirit’s power in us. Have you prayed in the Spirit and asked God to reveal to you how He feels about homosexuality? Oh, wait, nevermind, He has already revealed His opinion on the matter in His Holy word. Our opinions, while it’s fun to debate, are meaningless.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/18/2006 08:59:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "The idea that marriage is the constraints for which sex and reproduction are to occur do not mean that they must occur."

    But you said that marriage was defined by the capacity for procreation. If procreation need not occur within marriage then you're arguing in contradictions. If marriage is not defined by the capacity for procreation then your main argument against homosexuals marrying collapses. If marriage is defined in this way then the consequences I mentioned necessarily follow.

    By asking whether you fell into that particular group, I wasn't in any way trying to trap anyone or make you look stupid. I was just trying to clarify matters. Because, unless you fall into that group, the argument you were proposing (that procreation is what makes sex blessed) is inconsistently applied, which fatally weakens your use of it to condemn homosexuality.

    Finally, on this point, let me say once again that I am not saying that we must permit gay sex. I am not saying that homosexuals should definitely be allowed to marry. I am saying that the traditional arguments (those used in this thread and others) are far weaker than is often believed. And that, therefore, we have to find new answers to the questions facing the church. The old answers are not faithful to Christ, because we know many of them them to be false (such as that people choose to be gay).

    "If a person is really fine with homosexuality as a blessed creation from God, then so be it. Just don't tell me that I have to disregard the Word of God and follow that belief."

    If you're really OK with what you said, then great. Because that implies that you will accept as a Christian brother or sister someone who supports gay marriage (for example). If you can go that far, that is enough. Just as it is enough for the gay Christian to accept as a brother or sister someone who does not support their situation - but does not go out of their way to condemn them either. And for those of us in the middle to accept the extremes - as long as the extremes are not cutting off everyone who disagrees with them.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/19/2006 04:25:00 AM  

  • Rightthinker,
    The letters in Revelation are largely irrelevant to the question of homosexuality, because they don't address it. They address general sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to other gods. And the question before us isn't whether sexual immorality is wrong, but whether certain things are actually immoral - and hence what makes an act immoral.

    As for culture, I suspect that I largely agree with you. We must not merely accomodate the culture around us. Where it runs counter to God, we must challenge it. However, if it does not run counter to God, we are free to accept it if we wish. Where it runs in accordance with God, we must accept it. No culture is entirely aligned with God. No culture (that I've ever heard of) is entirely opposed to God. All cultures contain some good and some evil.

    "the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, when the leaders of the church affirmed with one voice the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone, while at the same time insisting that Gentiles avoid eating meat used in pagan sacrifices and sexual immorality."

    Interestingly, the Council doesn't touch on that famous Reformation doctrine. It addresses salvation by grace, but doesn't even get close to the formulation you laid out - although it certainly doesn't contradict it! But, even more interestingly, that letter says that Christians should refrain from eating meat sacrificed to idols but also from blood and strangled animals. In other words, they were being asked to obey the kosher dietary laws for meat. And none of us does that. In other words, the clear and unanimous teaching of the apostles was that meat must be kosher. And yet we feel quite free to disregard that clear moral teaching laid out in the NT by the assembled apostles. Why, exactly, is that?

    "a church that is incorporating non-marital and non-gendered sex into doctrine"

    We don't know exactly what "immorality" was being addressed. We can assume, but we cannot know, because the text does not say. It's also important to notice that the letter was not written to oppose sexual immorality, but circumcision! We do not know that the churches had a particular problem with sexual immorality at this time. We do know that they had a problem with certain groups trying to impose the Law on converts and that the Council said, no, that's wrong. The letter was to spell out the things that they saw as crucial - and we have discarded almost all of them (the dietary parts) and kept just the bit about sexual immorality. Is that perhaps our cultural bias, our emphasis on sex as the be-all and end-all of morality?

    "Now is the time to for us who believe to have the courage to speak clearly to those who are permitting of immorality."

    But should we be speaking of condemnation or of the love of God? Which are the words of Christ, the actions of Christ? It's also worth remembering that now is no different to any other time. We are no more immoral, sexually, than many other periods in history.

    "And if they do not repent and still claim to be Christians, then Paul says, “Don’t even eat with them.” "

    Beware, there. Paul is talking about those who act immorally, not those who ask whether certain acts are immoral at all. Again, I will remind you that the Church has declared all sorts of acts to be moral that she previously believed to be immoral - from the dietary laws mentioned above to the treatment of women as equal to men to the stopping of racism. Merely questioning our morality is not wrong. Indeed, it's essential, as long as it's done within the Body and with mutual respect.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/19/2006 04:46:00 AM  

  • MrsHammer,
    "Show me some Biblical evidence that adhering to the unchanging truths of the Bible is idolatry. I am not talking about religious practices or traditions of the church, as I know that can be and is a form of idolatry, I mean freezing beliefs."

    I don't know what you mean, then. How do you distinguish "beliefs" from "practices or traditions of the church"? Unless you mean doctrinal statements such as the creeds. In which case it's blatantly obvious, because the doctrines laid out in the creeds develop over centuries. If we had frozen doctrine with the apostles, we would have no adequate ideas about the Trinity, the divinity and humanity of Christ, the nature of the atonement, and many, many other things.

    It's idolatry because placing anything before God is idolatry. Even when what we elevate is our own beliefs about God - perhaps especially then. If we put our own picture of God above the reality then we no longer worship God but our own ideas. And if God wants to change those ideas (as when the Church moved to declare clearly that Jesus was God and Man in perfect union, not a ghost, not merely a man upon whom the Spirit descended at a particular time, not merely God playing a role), we must not simply refuse to listen.

    Is that what you meant? If not, please let me know what you did mean and I'll try to answer.

    "Legalism, not literalism, gets in the way of following Christ. There are no “literalists”- When Jesus says, “I am the door”, any thinking person realizes that Jesus didn’t mean an actual “door”."

    Legalism is a problem, too, of course. But there really are literalists, and we're all prone to it sometimes. Whenever we cling to our perceived meaning of a text based on a Modernist, analytical, scientific reading of it and refuse to look outside it, we're acting this way. (The tendency is often seen in discussions about Creation and Genesis, but it's just as common elsewhere.) But, as you said, no one is really a literalist.

    "No one has "the one true meaning" of it.
    This shows that you are a relativist (i.e. there are many ways to interpret the Bible) and do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible or its moral absolutes."

    I simply don't agree, and it's got nothing to do with being a "relativist". Lots of the Bible has multiple meanings - it would be a terribly dull and prosaic book if that was not true. Almost every messianic prophecy that we apply to Christ, for example, is a double meaning that also applied to events in the prophet's own time. Almost every parable or teaching story has multiple meanings. All of the poetry is poetry - and hence uses multiple layers of meaning for its effects. Many of the theological writings are subtle and multilayered.

    As I've already said, "inerrancy" is a useless word unless we say what it means, so I'm not even going to address that one. It's not even the point - even with an "inerrant" text in the crudest sense, texts have multiple meanings, layered meanings.

    And multiple meanings are precisely the point. If a text means several different things, we cannot use just one meaning as the "right" one in all contexts. Even when we think we know what a text means, it will be influenced by how we read other texts - and by which meanings we assign greater importance to. For instance, is it more important to emphasise "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" or "you did not choose me but I chose you", when looking at whether salvation is open to everyone or just the elect?

    "Yes, we are free from the Law (the Ten Commandments) and thank God, because I could never live up to them...but this doesn’t mean we don’t have to attempt to follow the Commandments by the Spirit’s power in us."

    First, the Law is not synonymous with the Ten Commandments. The Law means the whole law - that's an awful lots more, including the whole of Deuteronomy and Leviticus for a start. And being set free from the Law does mean precisely that we don't have to attempt to follow the Law. We have to follow the Spirit. And, of course, the two are often the same - but not always. Where there is difference, the Spirit wins every time.

    "We are governed by the Spirit and not judged by the Law, but this doesn’t mean we don’t have to attempt to follow the Commandments"

    Not being judged by the Law means that there is no reason to follow the Law. If there is no consequence to breaking it, there is no Law. Paul is very clear on this - we who have died with Christ are dead to the Law, it has no hold at all upon us. It's not just that we aren't judged by it - it has no hold.

    "And why not also make the same “movement” with regards to incest, bestiality, polygamy and every other form of sexual immorality that the Bible calls sin?"

    Interestingly, of course, the Bible doesn't condemn either incest or polygamy in that list. Indeed, many of the famous biblical figures married close relatives, which would nowadays be regarded as incest. And almost all of the OT patriarchs and kings had multiple wives and concubines. So the case simply isn't as clear as you like to portray it.

    As for why things should or shouldn't be allowed - because there has been no consensus that they should be. Nor is there any consensus that homosexuals should be allowed to marry. And so they aren't, and I'm fine with that. All that I insist on is that the debate be engaged with.

    As for theological reasons why I think that homosexuality might be compatible with Christian faith, here are some thoughts. First, we need to establish the position of the Bible with regards to moral teaching - the Bible does not contain every moral truth, nor can quotation be used to prove a position when it comes to moral truth, even the NT (as we've seen over dietary laws, the roles of women, slavery and other issues). Rather, we must exercise the moral judgement and reason that God has given us, based upon the foundational principles that God has established - love for God and neighbour. Second, one of the characteristics of immoral behaviour is that it imposes its own punishment on the sinner. That is, immorality is its own punishment (read Paul's exposition at the start of Romans).

    So, when we look at homosexuality, do we see self-punishment? That is the question. And before you rush in to say "yes", notice that this is where we have to listen to homosexuals, especially those in loving, committed relationships. We have to see whether the self-punishment comes from loving acts between committed partners, or from continued denial of God-willed pleasures and frustration of God-willed feelings. We have to see whether all homosexuals are really given the gift of celibacy - and, if not, how they are supposed to deal with enforced celibacy without the spiritual grace to live it. And a great many other questions.

    If someone came forward and wanted to make the same arguments for another practice regarded as immoral, they are welcome to try. But, as I've repeatedly said in the past, the burden is on those who want to change the church's mind. The difference with homosexuality is that there is a very large number of Christians who want to do precisely that. They might be wrong, but they must be listened to.

    (Apologies for the large exposition here, but it was obviously becoming necessary.)

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/19/2006 05:50:00 AM  

  • I most certainly do not think marriage is just for procreation. However, sex often = babies, which is PART of God's plan for marriage. No need to portray me as some freaky religious sect, as many Christians believe sex should only be in marriage, and that marriage is defined as a woman and a man. Babies sometimes happen as a result, and that is part of God's plan. No other relationship including sex is part of that plan.

    Jesus Christ always referred people back to the creation account in Genesis. From the beginning our Creator realized the need for intimate human companionship. After creating Adam, "The LORD God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable [suitable] to him" (Genesis 2:18).

    After the first man awoke from a deep sleep, he found a complement to himself standing before him, another human being like himself but with a clear difference of gender. Adam was deeply affected and was immediately moved to proclaim: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh".

    Jesus Christ strongly emphasized this centrally important point: "God made them male and female...and the two shall become one flesh; so that they are no longer two, but one flesh" (Mark 10:6, 8).

    The book of Genesis and the Gospel accounts teach that God created humans heterosexual. They also teach that marriage between male and female is a divine institution and that fidelity between one man and one woman is the Creator's expressed will and intention—supported by many other passages in God's Word.

    A homosexual relationship contradicts the Creator's principles and purposes concerning human sexuality. That is why biblical law strongly condemns it in the book of Leviticus (18:22; 20:13), and the apostle Paul goes on to sternly warn against its practice in several of his New Testament epistles (Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:8-10).

    By quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus Christ clearly showed that the Church must base its teachings on the ENTIRE Bible (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4). This "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20) is in place to prevent the very thing that we are discussing right now. Human beings are told to live by every Word of God. The Church is not free to selectively pick and choose biblical principles and passages according to the dictates and cultural desires.

    That said, Jesus Christ said: "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13). So biblical teaching also requires the Church to wholeheartedly accept truly repentant sinners, whether they have been idolaters, fornicators, homosexuals or guilty of any other sins contrary to sound biblical doctrine.

    All are guilty of having broken God's great spiritual law, the Ten Commandments—summarized by Jesus Christ as loving God above all and loving others as much as we love ourselves.

    In principle, the Seventh Commandment covers all forms of sexual immorality and unchastity. In regard to sin, including homosexuality, the apostle Paul said this to Christians: "Such were some of you. But you were washed by the blood of Christ, Revelation 7:14], but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).

    Later in this chapter Paul tells us to "flee sexual immorality." Then he explains that "every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body". The strong implication is that this form of sin can be very difficult to fully overcome. That's why it is imperitive to understand how to deal with any sexual immorality.

    In my particular church, I know any sinner is welcome. No matter what the sin is, my pastor would welcome with open arms a sinner. Then he would teach from scripture. Then he would counsel the sinner as to why they should repent of their sin. Then he would tell the sinner to come back to church often, and that he would pray that they would come to know Jesus, and give their life-as well as their sin, over to Christ. We have all been there in one form or another!

    However, church is not about acceptance of sin. Accepting all as sinners must take place to welcome everyone to the cross. A sinner should not feel comfortable about their sins. Again, no one can read the "cross" of another, that they have had to take up to follow Christ. A homosexual may indeed have a tough road ahead to deny themselves, but it is equally as insensitive to say that they somehow have had it more difficult than someone else, simply because their homosexuality means denying themselves!

    ROMANS 1:21-27: "…although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."

    What is God's response to their behavior? The Bible lists these acts "against nature". In what way is it against nature? Who created nature? Knowing who created nature and that homosexuality is against nature, what logical conclusion can one make about God's approval or disapproval of homosexuality?

    CORINTHIANS 6:9-10: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."

    Can one be an active homosexual and inherit God's Kingdom-meaning not repenting from homosexual activity? Likewise, is one who supports and promoted gay activities inherit the Kingdom? Are we called to rebuke sin?

    1 TIMOTHY 1:9-11: "… the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust." How do you justify the law being ignored?

    Romans 8:5-7: "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh... for the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot.”

    JAMES 1:13-15: "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death."

    Revelation 3:14: "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." For Christ to condemn a church for not being hot nor cold, and to threaten to spue thee out of his mouth, is a huge statement.

    Jesus despises the lack of contrition and conviction of faith. One must take a stand. As I have demonstrated in many lengthy comments, a call to adhere to sound doctrine, and rebuke false teachings, is a huge presence in teh Bible. The church of Philadelphia was not hot and on fire for the truth of the Word of God. The were not cold in which they denied it. They were simply "lukewarm". Lukewarmness is the state of many churches today. Moral relativism is a cause and effect situation, that teaches that the culture must cause change within Christianity. Christianity should be the one to cause change to culture! Mitigating God's Word to gain secular acceptance, with an idea that God is only "love" and forgetting that He also hates sin, and some things were and are still a sin, means that we are lukewarm, changing God's Word for our own perceived benefit, and at risk of getting spued out of His mouth, and rebuked for having never really known Him.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/19/2006 12:59:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/19/2006 01:11:00 PM  

  • I generally study the KJV, and 1Corinthians 6:9-10 says "effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind", which is a cross reference to how sexual immorality was an abuse of oneself. I just wanted to make sure I covered the KJV, as well.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/19/2006 01:15:00 PM  

  • John- Throughout this entire debate, you have made many points and arguments, yet you have not once taken a stand for anything. Whether you’ll admit it or not, you preach tolerance and a message of relativism. You are no different from the people of this world in your beliefs, and as a Christian, we are called to be “in the world, not of the world.”

    Your words: you will accept as a Christian brother or sister someone who supports gay marriage
    No, that is the entire point of my posting- that a true Christian will not support gay marriage because it denies the Biblical teaching and someone who does that is not of God.
    Your words: We must not merely accomodate the culture around us. Where it runs counter to God, we must challenge it. However, if it does not run counter to God, we are free to accept it if we wish. Where it runs in accordance with God, we must accept it.
    Exactly my point. Homosexual marriage runs counter to God (whether you believe it or not is not relevant, it couldn’t be any more clear in the Bible!) Why don’t you at least take a stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything! RT used the perfect verse for people who view this the way you do: (Revelation 3:15-16) I know they works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” A middle of the road opinion is virtually worthless. You show a great deal of knowledge and intelligence, but a lack of genuine faith in the Bible.
    Your words: But should we be speaking of condemnation or of the love of God? Which are the words of Christ, the actions of Christ?
    We should be warning sinners of the wrath to come if they refuse to repent and put their trust in the God of love who died so they wouldn’t have to. These are the words of Christ’s and the actions of Christ to point sinners to God: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” He showed them their sinfulness by using the Law (THE TEN COMMANDMENTS- this is what ‘The Law’ is referring to in the NT) to convict them of their sin and show them their desperate need of this “love of God.” The Law is summed up in the Great Commandment: Love God (Commandments 1-4) and love your neighbor (Commandments 5-10).
    1 Timothy 1:9-10 shows us the purpose of the Law is to lead sinners to Christ. “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers …for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind (homosexuals!!), for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine” (those who twist the Bible’s meanings or look for “multiple meanings” to justify themselves).
    Your words: It's also worth remembering that now is no different to any other time. We are no more immoral, sexually, than many other periods in history.
    The difference is that now instead of stoning someone to death for committing adultery or engaging in homosexual acts, we are ordaining and blessing these acts!

    Your words: Merely questioning our morality is not wrong. Indeed, it's essential, as long as it's done within the Body. Titus 3: 9-10 “But avoid foolish questions and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject.” When questioning with the intention of seeking to justify sin, it is not only not essential, but wrong.
    1 Timothy 6:20-21 “Avoid profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith” And, just as Paul concluded, “Grace be with thee. Amen.” This conversation will never end because there will always be a justification for those who love darkness.

    Your words: If we put our own picture of God above the reality then we no longer worship God but our own ideas.
    You really should take your own advice- it is brilliant! David called it correctly from the beginning when he said that we clearly worshipped a different God. You worship a God who ‘may’ have changed His mind on what is defined as sin, and I worship an unchanging God who says in 1 Corinthians 6:9: Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” There are no possible “multiple meanings” for this passage. The issue here is not about homosexuality, it is that you don’t believe that the Bible actually means what it says. God does not contradict Himself, but two proclaiming Christians are contradicting each other. If I am wrong, God is a liar and none of His word can be trusted. If I am right, then you need to repent and ask God to give you a new heart and mind that aligns with His through His Spirit. God will never “change our minds” or the churches minds to contradict Biblical teachings, but Satan sure will!

    Your words: one of the characteristics of immoral behaviour is that it imposes its own punishment on the sinner.
    Where did you get that information?? You made that up. I’m sure O.J. Simpson is having a dandy time out on the golf course and takes great joy in the fact that he “got away with murder”- literally. And there are many others just like him. Whether or not someone is caught is not a standard to characterize immoral behavior. They still have to face Judgment against an angry God for their grievious acts, just as all sinners will.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/19/2006 02:42:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    "John...you have not once taken a stand for anything"

    Not true. I have taken firm stands on several things.

    1) Sin is wrong.
    2) Homosexuality is not a central Christian issue.
    3) Condemning other people is wrong.
    4) The OT Law does not apply to Christians.
    5) Retreating under the Law is a step away from Christian salvation.
    6) I believe that the Bible is the inspired, authoritative, reliable self-revelation of God, and contains all that is necessary for salvation.
    7) The Spirit is more important than the Law.
    8) Homosexuality can be innate. That is, the orientation is often something set in a person from the earliest times.
    9) This means that certain people are created gay. At the very least, it means that their "natural" state is to be gay.
    10) This means that any arguments about homosexuality based on what is "natural" or "against nature" are suspect and need attention.
    11) The Bible is to be read in community and tradition - it is not to be read in isolation, and cannot (literally cannot) be read outside any tradition of interpretation.
    12) The interpretation of the Bible changes, which is to say that the Church's teaching on various subjects has changed - from diet to sex to marriage to priesthood to women to slavery and on and on. Doctrine and practice are not static.

    That will do for a start.

    "Whether you’ll admit it or not, you preach tolerance and a message of relativism. You are no different from the people of this world in your beliefs"

    Now you're just being insulting. As I've mentioned on the Chesterton thread, "tolerance" isn't a dirty word, when understood properly. I'm certainly not a relativist - I merely don't believe that church doctrine has remained unchanged since the year dot. And that last sentence barely deserves a response. Especially if you actually read what I have written (start with that long partial list of various affirmative statements I've made just in this thread).

    Please read what I say, not what you think I might be saying. Just because I'm not emphasising the things you emphasise doesn't mean I'm a relativist or think that anything goes. The reason I have these discussions here is precisely that I emphasise different things to you and your husband. Hopefully, in the process, we both learn new things and grow. If we talk only those with whom we agree, we simply reinforce our prejudices. Only by facing disagreement do we correct our errors.

    "you will accept as a Christian brother or sister someone who supports gay marriage
    No, that is the entire point of my posting- that a true Christian will not support gay marriage"

    That's not quite what I said, though (and notice that I was actually replying to something Rightthinker said, there). I'm not saying that you have to accept gay marriage, nor that you have to accept that it's acceptable. You merely have to accept that other Christians believe differently to you. You may believe them to be wrong, and tell them so gently and in love, but you may not believe them to be "false Christians". The Body of Christ is not defined by correct doctrine but by faith and the grace of God.

    "(THE TEN COMMANDMENTS- this is what ‘The Law’ is referring to in the NT)"

    No, it isn't. "The Law" means the whole Law. I'd ask your esteemed husband about that one.

    "one of the characteristics of immoral behaviour is that it imposes its own punishment on the sinner.
    Where did you get that information?? You made that up."

    Actually, it's straight out of Romans 1. In the very verses you quote against homosexuality (27), Paul says that the sign of the immorality of their behaviour is: "Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error." Furthermore, "28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29They were filled with every kind of wickedness". In other words, if someone is acting immorally, we should expect to see "the due penalty in their persons for their error". And they should be "given up to a debased mind [and] filled with every kind of wickedness".

    This is why we must talk to and (especially) listen to our homosexual Christian brothers and sisters. Are they experiencing "the due penalty" or are they showing the fruits of the Spirit in love, joy, peace etc.? That's all I'm saying here - that immorality carries its own penalty, and the Spirit brings its own signs. We should be able to discern in the people concerned these signs. This cannot be established by quoting verses from the Bible. Otherwise (as has been said again and again) we would still be using the Bible to justify slavery, the oppression of women and more.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/20/2006 05:20:00 AM  

  • I just copied my comment from the "Tolerance" thread, since it is equally related in this thread.

    To change and debate issues that are secondary non-essentials-ie: not direct teachings from God (marriage is a direct teaching/sexuality-see at least 1/2 of the 72 comments here for exhaustive listings of teachings about sexual morality and marriage) is perfectly appropriate.

    These non-essential teachings are not directly tied to salvation, or a walk with Christ, but rather methods of worship, religiousness of a church, legalism, etc.

    However, to suggest allowing or promoting activites that are diametrically opposed to the Biblical teachings of Christ, suggest nothing but apostasy.

    Tolerance, in the way it is utilized today, means one thing-promotion. For Christians to "tolerate" certain sins means much more than accept the people committing them, which we are all required to do. Tolerance (see links in mrshammer's post) seeks to promote anti-christian views, that will then permeate the church.

    I have a new post on my blog about apostasy. It is more exhaustive than I wanted to get into here. However, it is hard to say that any deviation from the essential and secondary essential teachings are anything less than apostasy.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/20/2006 10:56:00 AM  

  • John,

    Your #11 is something I can't get past, either. It is clear that there is otherwise nothing left to say on my part.

    11) The Bible is to be read in community and tradition - it is not to be read in isolation, and cannot (literally cannot) be read outside any tradition of interpretation.

    First, since you are quite big on tradition, what does tradition say about marriage?

    Second, the Bible is not to be read in isolation? That is one of the most absurd comments I have ever heard, and I am suspect that it is derived from your religousness, in that community religion helps to justify your beliefs. Looking to community for justification of new interpretations lends itself to human error.

    Obviously, reading and being taught the Bible is something to do on Sunday, and during an organized Bible study. However, I can't understand your assertion that it is not to be done in solitude. If you mean that the Bible can't be a solitude book to read-meaning can't be read without reading in outside opinion, I disagree. If you are saying that the Bible can't be read alone, I also disagree.

    I don't need anyone to be there with me, holding my hand, to explain the Bible, and use their potentially secularly influenced opinion to tell me what it really means.

    That reminds me of the 6 o'clock news. You can sit there and watch a press conference, and then the talking heads will appear to tell you what you ACTUALLY heard.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/20/2006 07:41:00 PM  

  • Just to be clear-I didn't mean "religiousness" as some sort of dig. ;)

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/20/2006 07:51:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "First, since you are quite big on tradition, what does tradition say about marriage?"

    :-) Why, that it's between a man and a woman, of course. I've been very clear that those who want to allow gay marriage have a high bar to pass, and carry the burden of proof.

    The thing about tradition, though, is that it's not static. Tradition is a living, developing thing. That's what distinguishes it from dogma. So, challenging tradition from within and asking for it to change is actually part and parcel of tradition itself!

    "Second, the Bible is not to be read in isolation? That is one of the most absurd comments I have ever heard, and I am suspect that it is derived from your religousness, in that community religion helps to justify your beliefs. Looking to community for justification of new interpretations lends itself to human error."

    This doesn't mean that one mustn't read the Bible while alone, of course. The point is that interpretation is a communal act. The Bible, I think we agree, is correctly interpreted only when read with the Holy Spirit. The point is that the presence of the Holy Spirit is only correctly discerned in the Body - the individual may be sure that they have heard God speaking but the Church decides whether they have, in fact, done so.

    "I don't need anyone to be there with me, holding my hand, to explain the Bible, and use their potentially secularly influenced opinion to tell me what it really means."

    We do need people alongside us, though. Otherwise, why do we go to church and hear sermons about the Bible, or attend Bible studies, or read commentaries and other books? If we could understand the Bible in splendid isolation, why ever listen to anyone else? Our personal brain would be capable of understanding all the wisdom of God! (You can see my point, I hope - it is the individual that is most at danger of bias; the community is a corrective and a memory of past decisions. Remember, "community" here means "church", the Body of Christ guided by the Holy Spirit.)

    "Looking to community for justification of new interpretations lends itself to human error."

    That's exactly the opposite of what I was saying, though. It is the individual acting alone that is most susceptible to human error - the community is where we check those errors and biases, and correct them. Also, we don't look to the community for new interpretations but for old ones. The community (the Church, the Body of Christ) is where the old wisdom resides, where the accepted and rejected readings are remembered. So, when we read a passage, we learn from the community what the accepted meaning is. Sometimes, we may disagree. The question then is whether the community is right, or whether God is saying a new thing or reminding us of something the community has perhaps forgotten. And there again the individual remains in the community - accepting that they are in the minority but speaking the truth as they understand it, in love and in hope.

    That's where the discussion about homosexuality is at the moment, I think. There is a sizable group within the Church that thinks the Church has got its priorities wrong about certain issues, that God is concerned about the way we are treating our brothers and sisters. This group is in the minority, but crosses all the party lines within the Church (it's by no means mainly a liberal movement - there are lots of evangelicals who think this way, too). That is, it cannot be rejected by saying, "that's liberal", because it isn't. The arguments are not based on liberal logic. Many use firm evangelical principles - it's just that they emphasise different aspects to traditional thinking.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/21/2006 05:42:00 AM  

  • John,
    I meant, show me some Biblical evidence to support your idea that "to freeze our beliefs...is to commit idolatry". God has no progressive revelations to disclose to us through the church! Don't limit your own beliefs and interpretations of the Bible to only what your particular church in this day and age is telling you. God will never reveal a "new thing" to any church that is contrary to Scripture (i.e. that gay marriage is now suddenly alright with Him). And that is, in essence, what you are saying is possible. That is what my pastor meant is a lie straight from the pit of hell! And, many Christians want to believe it because it supports their faulty idea that God is only a God of love and open arms. God's wrath will be on those who turn from Him to embrace these lies that the world wants us to believe.
    I'm sorry to have insulted you when I said you were no different from the world in your beliefs. I made too general of a statement and I shouldn't have said that. Your view on homosexual marriage and use of moral relativism is what I should have said and kept it at that, since that is the issue we are discussing in this thread.

    Since you are so big on multiple meanings in the Bible, please give me insight on what other meaning these passages have than what they explicitly say:
    1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Your "firm stands" on the following are questionable:
    1) Sin is wrong.
    This doesn't make sense. In order for sin to be wrong, it has to be clearly defined, and you want to argue away what the Bible defines as sin. For you, sin is wrong UNLESS IT CAN BE JUSTIFIED. The Bible says that sin is transgression of the Law (the 10 Commandments, in this case- BTW, I did ask my enlightened husband :-), and he said it depended upon the context it was used in the NT. In Romans and the NT where it refers to using the Law to bring sinners to Christ and such, it IS referring to the 10 Commandments, but when it refers to the books of the Law and the Prophets, it's referring to the entire books of the law, the first five books of the Bible. I highly recommend reading 'The Way of the Master'-the link's on our website.)Trangressing the 7th Commandment, Jesus taught, is not just the physical act of adultery, but thoughts of lust, as well. This includes all references to sexual immorality, which the Bible clearly defines.
    2) Homosexuality is not a central Christian issue.
    It is a central issue in the world today, and Christians can use the Bible to understand God's perspective and know which side to take. This is why it is a central issue- SIN is a central issue- and homosexuality is one example of sin.
    3) Condemning people is wrong
    Warning people of God's condemnation for their sin is not, and what loving Christians should do
    4) The OT Law does not apply to Christians.
    2 John 6- And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.
    The NT consistantly reiterates the OT and reaffirms its unchanging truths. If the OT was simply to be discarded upon receving the NT, it would not be included as part of the Bible.
    10) This means that any arguments about homosexuality based on what is "natural" or "against nature" are suspect and need attention.

    Then how do you explain the Bible's explanation that homosexuality is NOT natural! Just because it feels natural and good doesn't make it so. If it felt "natural" for me to have an affair, does that make it O.K.?
    Romans 1:26-27- "...For even the women did change the NATURAL USE to that which is AGAINST NATURE: and likewise also the men, leaving the NATURAL USE of the woman..." Are you calling the Bible "suspect"?
    12) Doctrine and practice are not static.
    wrong. Biblical doctrine is static! The Bible doesn't evolve over time.
    The Body of Christ is not defined by correct doctrine but by faith and the grace of God.

    Please go over to RT's blog and read her posting on apostasy. I've started a comment over there that may be an interesting debate related to this.

    These are your words, John based on YOUR interpretation of Romans 27-28:
    In other words, if someone is acting immorally, we should expect to see "the due penalty in their persons for their error". And they should be "given up to a debased mind [and] filled with every kind of wickedness".

    This is why we must talk to and (especially) listen to our homosexual Christian brothers and sisters. Are they experiencing "the due penalty" or are they showing the fruits of the Spirit in love, joy, peace etc.? That's all I'm saying here - that immorality carries its own penalty, and the Spirit brings its own signs. We should be able to discern in the people concerned these signs. This cannot be established by quoting verses from the Bible.

    You are basically saying, that if someone is happy in their sin (i.e. they are exhibiting fruits of the Spirit) then it must be O.K., regardless of what the Bible says, because FEELINGS are more important than Biblical truth. If no earthly consequences (no recompense of error), then God is O.K. with it??? Again, you are taking the presense of something and making it prescription. Those who receive recompense (some will, some won't- it rains on the just and the unjust) doesn't mean that's ALL they will receive. There will be far more consequences for the unrepentant sexually immoral person than just the possibility of contracting and STD. You are taking this one verse, twisting its meaning, and making it a doctrine. Not ALL sin will be punished in this life, and this verse doesn't say that.

    What do you think it means that "God gave them over to a reprobate mind (debased), to do those things which are not convenient (fitting, natural)."???
    God allowed them to be deceived, because they ignored His laws and their own consciences, into thinking that what they are doing is completely normal and natural. Their conscience was no longer able to convict them of it. This is what we see in homosexuals today. It is no longer shameful and "coming out of the closet" isn't what it used to be because homosexuals and those who support the lifestyle have been given over to a reprobate mind by God- they are desensitized to its sinfulness. That seems to be where you are heading, too.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/21/2006 01:00:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    "God has no progressive revelations to disclose to us through the church!...God will never reveal a "new thing" to any church that is contrary to Scripture"

    So, when the NT condemns the eating of blood, or of strangled animals, we are sinning when we ignore that (for all meat we eat contravenes that restriction)? When then NT condones slavery, we must respect that and not challenge those places where slavery is still practiced? Even as to matters of central Christian doctrine, these were revealed to the Church long after the NT was written - the nature of the Trinity, the nature of Christ Jesus, the nature and role of the Holy Spirit, all of these and more were thrashed out in the early centuries of the Church (and notice that each of them blatantly contravenes absolutely central tenets of the Jewish faith from which Christianity arose). If Church history teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that doctrine changes.

    Particularly as staunch Protestants, this is undeniable. The Reformation (as I've said) was a reaction against very real abuses in the Roman Church. But it was in no sense a return to apostolic Christianity. The formulations of Luther and Calvin, and their followers, bear little relationship to the concerns of the early church. Luther even wanted to remove books from the Bible!

    Basically, it's not true that Christian teaching has been constant and unchanged since the days of the apostles. We have learned new things about God and about how God wants us to act..

    "many Christians want to believe it because it supports their faulty idea that God is only a God of love and open arms"

    That may or may not be true, but doesn't actually address the question. I could equally say that many Christians want to disbelieve it because it supports their faulty idea that God is only a God of law and judgement. That is an argument about motivations, not about the issue itself.

    "In order for sin to be wrong, it has to be clearly defined, and you want to argue away what the Bible defines as sin. For you, sin is wrong UNLESS IT CAN BE JUSTIFIED. The Bible says that sin is transgression of the Law"

    Not true. Sin may be wrong without being clearly defined. Just as I may hurt my wife's feelings without there being any strict rule that I've broken. Sin consists of actions that are against God's will. That may mean breaking the Law - as Jesus did when He healed on the sabbath. The Law is dead.

    And, here, when Paul talks about the Law being dead, he is very clearly talking about the whole Law. There is no justification from the context for limiting it to the ten commandments. (Indeed, it doesn't make sense to do so anyway, for the rest of the Law is largely the outworking in detail of the big-picture Commandments. So if the centre was dead, the remainder couldn't survive anyway.)

    The rest of your post is saying simply that you disagree with me. Fair enough - your privilege. The thing is, though, that yours is not the only way to be a Christian. Not by a long chalk. The rest of us follow Christ as best we may, as you do. We walk faithfully with Christ, as you do. We are challenged to grow and change, as you are challenged. What I will say for certain is that the way of being a Christian counts for far less than the fact of being a Christian. It is encounters like this one that we are faced with radically different ways of following Christ - and are challenged to see each other as brothers and sisters nonetheless.

    Perhaps we will all agree about what God is like in heaven, but perhaps not even then - we may not be able to comprehend the infinite God even then. But, hopefully, we can disagree in love now, even as we will then.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/21/2006 02:51:00 PM  

  • John, This is the third time I have asked you this question, and you've still not given an answer.
    Since you are so big on multiple meanings in the Bible, please give me insight on what other meaning these passages have than what they explicitly say:
    1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/21/2006 10:34:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    Two points, then, to address that. First, the exegetical; second, the practical.

    So, exegesis. The passage isn't quite as clear and straightforward as you suggest. It uses two Greek words where the version you've quoted renders "men who practice homosexuality" - malakoi and arsenokoitai. The KJV, for example render the phrase, "nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind". What's interesting is what the two words mean. Malakoi has the basic meaning "soft" and is not used elsewhere to refer to homosexuality. For example, in both Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 it is translated "soft" (KJV) or as "fine" (NIV) in references to clothing. It could also mean "loose" or "pliable," as in the phrase "loose morals," implying "unethical behavior." The rendering "effeminate" thus seems questionable. Even if it was correct, though, it's got nothing to do with homosexuality - the general sense is laziness, cowardice (non-biblical writings of the era used the world to refer to lazy men, men who cannot handle hard work, and cowards). John Wesley's Bible Notes, for example, define it as those "Who live in an easy, indolent way; taking up no cross, enduring no hardship." So, this word has nothing at all to do with homosexuality.

    Arsenokoitai literally means "man-beds" and again isn't the usual Greek term for homosexual behaviour (pederasste). At the time of Luther, for example, it was universally regarded as referring to masturbation. During the 19th century, however, the condemnation shifted to homosexuality, as did the translations. A more likely meaning, though, is temple prostitutes - the Septuagint (the old Jewish translation of the Old Testament into Greek) translated the Hebrew "quadesh" in I Kings 14:24, 15:12 and 22:46 as "arsenokoitai", where it referred to temple prostitutes. This reading was held by various authorities in the early church. Another common view was male prostitutes with female customers - nothing to do with homosexuality at all.

    Basically, there's no reason to believe (beyond familiarity) that this passage actually refers to homosexual acts at all. And even if it does, it refers to prostitution rather than committed faithful relationships between people of the same sex. (Notice also that it doesn't mention lesbianism at all.)

    Second, the practical. This one is the reason that I've not responded solidly to this previously (sorry for the frustration) - although do notice that there have been lots and lots of verses quoted back and forth in this thread and I have addressed many of them. I can't address them all without writing a very long essay, and the principles are the same in each case anyway.

    So - the practical. Even if, for the sake of argument and in the face of the evidence, we say that Paul intended to condemn homosexual behaviour in general, there is still the issue of what behaviour he meant. For him, there were only a few areas in which homosexual sex happened - pederasty (adult men taking young boys for sex) and ritual prostitution. Neither of these actually addresses all the issues we include under the heading "homosexuality" these days (gay and lesbian orientation and committed relationships, transgender people, and transexuals). These are new questions that require new answers - answers that absolutely rest on the biblical witness and logic, but that simply aren't found there.

    Do those two aspects answer your question sufficiently?

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/23/2006 12:33:00 PM  

  • For me, I suppose, it all comes down to one particular fact.

    Salvation must occur. The question is-why does mankind need to be saved?

    Mankind needs to be saved because mankind is sinful. Mankind needs to be taught what sin is, and that a complete repentance and turning from sin, towards God, must occur. A half-birth, in that we turn to God merely for humanistic and efforts of social justice, to run and seek when we are down like a spiritualistic shrink, and someone who will aceept us no matter what, is completely false.

    The truth is, God will not accept us no matter what. We are all damned to hell, and deserving of such. That is why we need salvation. However, if we can't define sin, our salvation is at risk because we may continue willingly transgressing God, while we professed to have turned away from it.

    We must first accept that there is sin. Where do we get a definition of sin? We have moral guides for living that we can find in cultures, world religions and Christ. All are pliable, transformable and changing-except for one. All of the NT says that we transgressed the Law of the OT, and the OT is our teaching to expose just how depraved, in sin and unrighteous we truly are. We are also taught, abundantly, to seek righteousness. No one can assert that sexual immorality is seeking righteousness.

    It is a ridiculous argument to say that God intended homosexual sex to be the same as sex within a heterosexual marriage, and therefore it is accepted and blessed. Besides, as I showed in citations of sexual studies-homosexuals, by and large, have a far different idea of "monogomy" than what the Bible depicts. Any "Christian" defining accepted sexual encounters as "free sex" are also wrong-I don't care what sexual preference.

    It is completely heretical to dismiss the Law of the OT, on the basis that the NT removed the Law. The entire NT is fulfillment of OT prophecy. While I have heard of many cults and religions incorporating the NT as part of their open belief system, no Christian teaching could stand on the basis that the OT is completely worthless.

    Without the entirety of the Bible, we have little to go on with references to one another and cross-teachings that reflect continuity of teachings from God.

    Oh yes, sin is the reason we must be saved. Ignoring this sin, pretending it is different than taught, teaching others that the sin isn't really a sin and believing that sin is somehow how one defines it-absent of all OT influence is merely apostasy and reaking of mass false conversion and a false sense of a "happy feely", God is "only love" salvation.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/24/2006 11:00:00 AM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "Mankind needs to be saved because mankind is sinful...A half-birth, in that we turn to God merely for humanistic and efforts of social justice, to run and seek when we are down like a spiritualistic shrink, and someone who will aceept us no matter what, is completely false."

    You'll get no arguments from me over that, as you would see from the above discussion.

    "All of the NT says that we transgressed the Law of the OT, and the OT is our teaching to expose just how depraved, in sin and unrighteous we truly are."

    That, I'll give a qualified agreement to. Two main qualifications - first, as Paul says, God is made known in Creation, so there is no excuse for those who do not have the Law, because the basics are known to everyone; second, that only applies up to a point. Again, I'll follow what Paul says, that for those of us who have died with Christ (i.e. Christians) the Law is dead (Romans), is abolished (Ephesians) and has no hold over us (Galatians). That is, our morality no longer depends on the Law, for that belongs to the old world of the flesh. We are called to live by the Spirit - which is a higher standard but a different one. Some things that were forbidden are now allowed (eating certain foods, wearing certain clothes, working on certain days); other things that were allowed are now forbidden (eating meat in certain company, celebrating holidays around certain people etc.).

    "as I showed in citations of sexual studies-homosexuals, by and large, have a far different idea of "monogomy" than what the Bible depicts"

    Oh, no argument there. But if you did the same survey of the attitudes of heterosexuals, you'd find the same thing - that people outside the Church don't share its ideas. These surveys are interesting, but don't provide any information beyond what we know anyway (that we all need to learn about faithful loving relationships).

    "It is completely heretical to dismiss the Law of the OT, on the basis that the NT removed the Law"

    Except that the NT explicitly and repeatedly proclaims that very thing. Of course, it's not at all saying "anything goes" - Paul jumps straight onto that idea. But he still maintains that the Law is dead and has no hold on us. It provides us with a picture of how God wanted the Israelites to live, but no more than that. We may learn moral principles from it and we ought to respect it highly, but we are dead to it. I'd be interested, given your strong emphasis on "literal" biblical understandings, how you deal with these various texts from Paul.

    "no Christian teaching could stand on the basis that the OT is completely worthless"

    Absolutely - but (a) the OT contains far more than the Law and (b) the Law is still around, for those outside Christ. Most particularly, the Law is "fulfilled" and surpassed, rather than discarded. Christians now follow the Law "written on our hearts" by the Holy Spirit. Again, this isn't "do what you want" but rather the idea that we follow the spirit of the Law rather than its letter - Jesus was very down on those who put the letter above the spirit!

    Don't make the mistake, either, of thinking that any of the above analysis in this thread depends on some namby-pamby "God is only love" thinking. I've explicitly declared on several occasions that that's nonsense. However, we have no better word from the Bible to describe God - it would certainly be unbiblical to say "God is wrath" or "God is justice" (just to be clear, those are very different from saying "God is wrathful" or "God is just"). I've also showed that there are excellent biblical grounds for believing what I've been saying - that the Law is dead for us, that we live by the guidance of the Spirit, that many of the texts supposed to condemn homosexuality actually do nothing of the sort. In the face of such biblical arguments, I've still heard nothing beyond "we need the OT or people will get confused" - which isn't a good theological argument!

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/24/2006 11:31:00 AM  

  • (The last sentence there should be "I've still heard nothing beyond "we need the OT Law or people will get confused" - which isn't a good theological argument"

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/24/2006 11:33:00 AM  

  • "The Law written on the heart" was an instruction to those who haven't heard of Jesus. That is the argument to be used for those who state "What about people who haven't heard the Good News?" They will be judged according to the Law written on their heart"-meaning that there is an implicit and inborn knowledge of right and wrong, sometimes shame and contrition will convict, and sometimes it will blind.

    If Christians were only guided by the Law written on our hearts, then there is no clearly defined right and wrong, and relativism is the law and therefore the idol we serve. In other words, if we are only guided by the Spirit, and not the Law, then our emotions, feelings and human minds can be mistakenly interpreted as "the Spirit".

    That is particularly easy to see happening when God said that the Spirit, prophecy and true Christian teachings would never be in conflict with the teachings and commandments of God who makes no mistake.

    The Law is most certainly not dead to us. The civil and priestly Law is dead, as Jesus fulfilled those Laws.

    I also disagree that the only homosexuality that Paul knew of was taking young boys (was a sin, and still a sin today), and male prostitution, (was a sin and still is a sin). The Bible is quite clear that all sin was present in biblical times, and will always be. Men had sex with men, women had sex with women, and women and men had sex together in every form imaginable-since the beginning of sin.

    This is true because we are sinful. We were told what things were sins, and we were told to reject them. Jesus knew we would fail at this perfect outline, so we needed his redemption.

    You admit we need Him because we sin. What is a sin? Which things are sins?

    It seems to me, that if the Ten Commandments are dead (which you said they are and I wholeheartedly disagree) then what defines a sin? Back to the heart again?

    Boy, am I in trouble if that is the case! I can justify every action I have ever taken, every thought and every word. This whole idea of a complete rebirth in Him was for naught...I admitted to things that were biblically defined as sins, yet you contend it was not a transgression against God at all, because the Law is dead and God defines sin in a way that leaves us to wonder and base decisions on our heart!

    Is it OK to have unmarried sex because we are committed to one another as long as we have feelings for one another? There is no definition of sin!

    Additionally, are these sins simply LESS important and LESS convicting dependant upon our works? If there is no clearly defined right and wrong, then we must have another way to obtain righteousness, because a rebirth in Him would not produce the ability to obtain righteousness and escape from teh bondage of sin-sin is subjective.

    Do those works buy us out of our undefined sin? Can I tithe my way out? What about working in a soup kitchen. I've done that before....does that supersede the idea of a "feeling sin"?

    Whew...I'm glad I have something to follow that is clearly defined. I would sure be a mess if I had to decide which things change which year and for whom. Not to mention the millions of people who HAVE denied flesh-whether it be money, fame, drugs, alcohol, sex, self-fulfillment, etc., all in the name of seeking Christ! Denying the flesh in order to work for righteousness is absolutely pointless because righteousness is an abstract definition!

    If we want to see what righteousness is, we must ask what did Christ do? Jesus lived a sinless life-devoid of immorality, and preached on denying sin, loving your neighbor, and seeking Christ. If their is no cross to bear, there is no cross to seek.

    How do you define sin? What is a sin, and how do you arrive that it is a sin?

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/24/2006 01:37:00 PM  

  • I have been pondering this discussion a bit, and I was left with an additional thought.

    John, it seems your thinking parallels thinking of the Gnostics, in certain ways. Of course, you don't seem to disagree with the Deity, or deny the purpose of Jesus, but you contend that the Law is dead and that we are to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

    Gnostics treated the idea sin much the same way, in that they believed that they had personal revelations, knowledge (gnosis) and intellect that was revealed by the Holy Spirit. This lead them to form alternative opinions and doctrine to support their ideas. Sin was non-existent to the Gnostics, so appart from lacking salvation, their knowledge was said to be personally revealed to only those who deserved it.

    However, it was also in contrast to the OT, and was open for diverse interpretation.

    I just thought that was an interesting parallel, since Gnosticism is being peddled as an "alternative form" of Christianity in universities and some churches here in teh U.S.

    Again, if sin is not defined, because only God knows what a true sin is and left us flailing and floundering to figure it out on our own, then we have nothing to repent of. Particularly when person "a" may have a different revelation, (due to sinfulness) than person "b". That would be faulty justice.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/24/2006 02:11:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    ""The Law written on the heart" was an instruction to those who haven't heard of Jesus."

    Actually, no, it's an allusion to the prophecy of Jeremiah:
    "31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. " (Jer 31:31-34)

    The point is exactly opposite to what you said: it is the people of the new covenant (i.e. Christians) who will have a different relationship with God - He will put the law in our minds and write it on our hearts.

    Paul's "natural law" is quite different and is to do with God's self-revelation in the Created world, not something internal to the individual.

    "The Law is most certainly not dead to us."

    Well, I'm sorry then but you're directly contradicting the Bible. Given your regard for that book, I'm very surprised by this. How do you justify blatantly ignoring a theme that Paul returns to several times, and that underlies much of his teaching in entire books of the Bible?

    This is actually worse than the offence you charge me with, for my issue is only with a detail of Paul's teaching (whether particular actions fall under condemnation) - yours seems to be with a central theme (the reason for and mechanism of condemnation itself, and the nature of the relationship between God and redeemed humanity). I'm pretty sure, though, that you don't mean to disregard Paul's teachings like this. So I'm very interested in how you reconcile your statement with what Paul wrote.

    "How do you define sin?"

    The best place I can point you to for a longer explanation of my view of sin is an old blog post. The basis of the idea, though, is that sin is any action that damages our relationship with God, with Creation or with one another. This will obviously include many aspects of "the Law", but adherence to the law isn't the greatest good - instead, this is adherence to the greatest commandments, to love God and to love neighbour.

    "If we want to see what righteousness is, we must ask what did Christ do?"

    Absolutely - Christ is the source and centre of our faith. In Him is all Truth. And the one thing we find when reading what Christ taught and did is that adherence to the letter of the Law earns his greatest condemnation, and that He Himself seemed to see little harm in breaking the rules when that enabled Him to minister to those in need.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/24/2006 02:30:00 PM  

  • We are not bound by the Law for salvation, because it was clear we were unable to keep the perfect Law. However, we are still morally bound to seek righteousness through the Law!

    Again, if we were not, morality would be defined by persons..that isn't good enough! Of course we are lead by the Spirit! We must be; but the Spirit is not in contrast to the Holy Law of morality.

    Galatians (NIV) 5:17-21 says, "For teh sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you od not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and withcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkeness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God".

    So, we are not bound by the Law once we are saved, as we have admitted we are unable to live by the Law. However, the Spirit does not stand in contrast to the Law!

    The "obvious" sins that are listed above as being contrary to the Spirit are all categorized, previously, as being transgressions against God.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/24/2006 04:37:00 PM  

  • I wanted to be clear that my "we are not bound by the Law" statement in the last comment means we are not bound by the Law for salvation-that would mean we disregard Christ's sacrifice by saying that we could actually "keep" the Law. However, the Law is not disregarded for our conduct!

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/24/2006 04:39:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "We are not bound by the Law for salvation, because it was clear we were unable to keep the perfect Law. However, we are still morally bound to seek righteousness through the Law!"

    But that's not what Paul says. Indeed, he's rather clear that we are not "morally bound to seek righteousness through the Law". This is the whole thrust of the relevant portions of Romans, Ephesians and Galations - that the Law has no hold on Christians. Paul says that, because we have died with Christ, the Law has no hold on us - it is dead.

    What you seem to be saying is "we came in without the Law, but now we must live by it". Paul, however, is saying that Christ fulfilled the Law and so set us free from it.

    "if we were not, morality would be defined by persons"

    Not true. Moral behaviour is defined by God, and communicated to us through the Holy Spirit. As always, the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit are discerned by the Body of Christ together seeking the wisdom of God. It is absolutely not just up to the individual. However, it is true that the safety you seem so desperate for has been taken away - there is now for us no defense that "I followed the Law so I must be righteous in God's sight". Only by continually living under the Spirit's guidance can we live righteously, and this will sometimes require us to break "the Law" - as it required Jesus to do.

    Even the verses you quote from Galations stand for this point: "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." We are not under the law", Paul says here. The sinful acts are still sinful, but they are sinful not because they break "the Law" but because they are not what God wants. And the two are not synonymous, for Law is an invariant, static set of rules, whereas God is living and vibrant, and particular circumstances may require action that the Law forbids (as when Jesus healed on the Sabbath). We may be uncomfortable with this idea (I certainly am!) but it's the example of Christ and the teaching of the NT.

    "the Spirit does not stand in contrast to the Law!"

    The Spirit fulfils the Law by enabling us to live its intentions. However, we may sometimes be required to break the letter of "the Law" by that same Spirit. Again, I am simply following Christ's example in saying this, and am supported by the many, many verses Paul wrote on the subject.

    And, again, as I've said repeatedly, living by the Spirit does not in any way mean that we can behave how we like - Paul foresees this argument as soon as he lays out our position as dead to the Law, and immediately condemns it as unworthy. The standard of the Spirit is higher than that of the Law - we are now told that we must not hate our brother, rather than just not killing him, and that we must not lust after each other, rather than just not commit adultery. The Spirit calls us to total obedience, mind, heart and soul, whereas the Law merely governed outward appearances. The difference, though, is that the Spirit gives power to obey (and to want to obey). And also that the Spirit is living and offers specific guidance rather than blanket bans - so if we see someone in need but the Law forbids our helping, that's no excuse any more.

    "my "we are not bound by the Law" statement in the last comment means we are not bound by the Law for salvation...However, the Law is not disregarded for our conduct!"

    I simply don't know what you mean here. If the Law does not affect our salvation, we need not obey it (for it is admittedly irrelevant). If we must obey the law "for our conduct" in order to keep our salvation then the Law does control that salvation.

    If the Law is dead to us, it's dead. If it's been abolished for those of us in Christ, it's been abolished. It has no power, no strength, no influence. It is gone. In its place, we have the Spirit. This is a scary place, even a dangerous one, but it is the place in which Christ stands, in which the great saints stood. It is the place God calls us to, to walk alongside Him and be guided directly by Him.

    God created the Law and it was good. But the Law had no power to save, only to condemn (see Paul's writings). Christ came to save us from the condemnation of the Law, and did so by dying to break its power. We share in His death and so are set free from the Law, as He is free from it.

    I see no other way to understand the life of Christ and the writings of Paul. To return to living under the Law would be to retreat from Christ's salvation - to redefine our salvation as depending on our deeds rather than Christ's deeds.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/24/2006 05:56:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "John, it seems your thinking parallels thinking of the Gnostics"

    Not even close. The Gnostics' religion was based on secret knowledge - a way of getting past the secret heirarchy of heaven to gain access to God. A central idea of Christianity is that Christ gives us that direct access, for free. In Gnosticism, progress in faith was marked by the gaining of new knowledge. In Christianity, knowledge isn't important - it's the relationship with God, the degree of conformity of the person to Christ, that is central. In Gnosticism, the aim was to leave the body, the fleshly world, behind and ascend to the "spiritual" realm of heaven. In Christianity, the world and the flesh are created and called Good, and we are told that we are to expect new bodies when we are raised to new life. What we do now, in this world, matters for the Christian. For the Gnostic, it was irrelevant.

    Simply saying that God guides us is not Gnosticism. Please stop simply characterising my position with whatever "bad words" you are familiar with at the moment. What I've been saying could hardly be less like Gnosticism.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/24/2006 06:07:00 PM  

  • John,
    The Law is dead to us as Christians because we will not be judged by it. However, the Spirit will never guide us into doing something contrary to the Law (the Ten Commandments in this case). That was the point RT was trying to get across. Your example of Jesus "breaking the Law" is a stretch. If Jesus broke the Law, then He sinned, and could not be the perfect, sinless God that He is. He healed on the Sabbath to show the people their legalistic approach to the Law and it appalled people because they had a wrong approach to keeping the Sabbath. It was not against "the Law" to heal on the Sabbath and the people had it all wrong- they were adding their own rules and regulations to the Law. Your example has wrong implications about Jesus. The Spirit will never guide us to trespass God's Holy Law, period, and it didn't for Jesus, either.
    Second, I give you credit for coming up with a lengthy explanation to justify the verse: 1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
    However, the Bible is useless if it can only be interpreted using the original Greek and Hebrew. What use would it be to the average person if it's meanings are only clear if we know Greek?? Thanks for answering, but you're really grasping at straws to justify your point. I don't buy it. The Bible is clear about homosexuality and lesbianism (there are passages specifically addressing both) being a sin, and if you can justify something that occurs so black and white numerous times in the Bible, you can justify any sin you choose.
    Here's an interesting side note. My brother is gay, and his long term partner broke up with him a few years ago because he (the partner) became a born again Christian. He turned from the gay lifestyle and moved away from the temptations in San Francisco and completely turned away from sin to follow Jesus. It's a high calling, and requires a complete dedication of one's life and rejection of sin. If homosexuality is not a sin, then my brother would still be in his happy, monogomous relationship with his long term partner. This is one example of homosexuals who truly do get saved and are forced (by the Spirit and the Law!) to turn from the sinful lifestyle to follow Jesus. I'm sure my brother's friend would have loved to justify his sin and stay in the relationship, but there was no denying that it is/was a sin- not just for him (moral relativism), but it is a sin for all practicing homosexuals- in faithful relationships or not. I cannot understand, if you really are governed by the Spirit, how you can not feel convicted about this issue. It seems to me that you either are not truly born again, or you aren't listening to what the Spirit is trying to tell you. I hope this observation doesn't offend you since I don't mean it as an insult.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/24/2006 10:20:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    "If Jesus broke the Law, then He sinned, and could not be the perfect...He healed on the Sabbath...It was not against "the Law" to heal on the Sabbath"

    Yes, it was against the Law. "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy." This meant doing no work of any kind. Alternatively, think about the time that Jesus' disciples picked food and ate it on the Sabbath - again, an activity forbidden on that day, but Jesus justified it (and much more).

    Sin is not defined by "breaking the Law". Otherwise, there could be no sin before the Law came, and no sin outside the Law (the Law binds only the covenant people of God, the Jews). However, the Bible does not hesitate to speak of sin before the Law was given, nor of the sins of those outside the Law.

    Sin is, rather, actions against God's will - beginning with the first sin, which was before any idea of Law and merely consisted of disobeying God's instructions. There's nothing in "the Law" about eating that fruit.

    "However, the Bible is useless if it can only be interpreted using the original Greek and Hebrew"

    Yes, up to a point - translations into our language are essential. However, where the translation is unclear or where we want greater insight into the actual meaning of the text, it is best to look at the original, not the translation.

    "Thanks for answering, but you're really grasping at straws to justify your point. I don't buy it."

    Your privilege, but you asked me repeatedly to explain this passage, and I did so in some detail. Basically, it simply does not address homosexuality. To say that it does is unsupported by the text. The KJV's translation (which is the one you prefer, I believe) certainly doesn't mention homosexuality ("abusers of themselves with mankind", if you recall - which is not in any way a phrase clearly descriptive of homosexuality; it could be a great many other things, as I explained, and it has been commonly held to mean other things). I'm rather disappointed that, having insisted that I address your passage, you totally fail to engage with any points, simply dismissing them as "grasping at straws".

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/25/2006 03:23:00 AM  

  • "Please stop simply characterising my position with whatever "bad words" you are familiar with at the moment."

    Forgive me if I am wrong, but that sounds like an insult! ;)

    It isn't a 'bad word' that I am familiar with at the moment due to having some limited knowledge base. It is a word that I actually understand, since I completed a seminar on Gnosticism and ancient cults a while ago.

    I didn't call you a Gnostic, but I sais your justifications and open-ended interpretations parallel the justifications and open-ended interpretations of the Gnostics. The Gnostics left room for loose interpretation by teaching that they could achieve superior knowledge of divinity through the Holy Spirit and alternative explanation. That's all I was saying.

    Churches in the U.S. (and universities) are incorporating (and sometimes promoting) Gnosticism as a valid alternative study of Christianity, as well as incorporating Eastern mysticism, zen theories, evolution, naturalistic spiritualism, etc., so that they may use Christianity in a way that is more fitting for their personal and possibly political agendas.

    When these religions and cults have a way in Christianity, it is only because part or teh entire Word of God (similar to how you reject the OT, and assert that one must use community to interpret the Bible-potentially placing church above God)has been rejected. This allows for the homogenous blending of traditions/beliefs of opposing religions and cults into Christianity. This is an example of a Christ-less culture influencing Christianity-not the reverse.

    I just wanted to make a point, that the interpretations you give for sin and the particular homosexual issue, is one that is popular here in the U.S. amongst certain groups.

    I don't know what your beliefs are any further than what you have explained them to be. That is what I was commenting on.

    Your beliefs (and possibly your church)vs my beliefs, mrshammer's beliefs, etc., are diametrically opposed. There is no common ground.

    To believe that we follow the same Jesus, but evolving Christians believe He stands for and supports things that are completely rejected by traditional and biblically sound Christian teaching, means that He cannot be the same Jesus. Progressive churches are calling for change-not the other way around. This causes a divide in the church, and it is probably a very important divide.

    Best wishes to you and God Bless.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/25/2006 11:41:00 AM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "Forgive me if I am wrong, but that sounds like an insult!"

    It wasn't meant to be an insult - but I was certainly annoyed when I wrote it. There is nothing in common between what I've been saying and Gnostic beliefs beyond the most superficial things. I could make similar comparisons between what you've said and other heretical sects, but I won't do so because I know that you don't share their beliefs to any great extent.

    I think that we've got as far as we're going to in this discussion. You do not accept that moral teaching may change - and you do not seem to accept the clear teaching of the Bible that Christians are dead to the Law. That gives each of us cause to believe that the other doesn't take the Bible seriously. One difference is that I admit (indeed, I insist) that the Bible needs interpretation, and have a basis for doing so and for evaluating the results. I am concerned that you seem to combine a "literal", Modernist reading of the Bible with an apparent willingness to ignore the Bible where it doesn't fit with your existing understanding, and I believe that this creates a fundamental tension in your theology. You may, of course, perceive it differently - and the issue is yours to deal with in any case.

    As for whether we follow the same Christ - I think that God is big enough to deal with our differences. None of us is "Right" in the entirety of our understanding of God. We all have rough edges and errors that need dealing with. We are not, however, "diametrically opposed". We have very different ideas about certain specific things, but I'm sure we agree on others (the Person and place of Christ, the condition of fallen humanity, the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the adoption as God's children etc. etc.). I would suggest that the things on which we agree are the most important. Some of our disagreements are also important - but not as important as our agreements. Which is why I don't think schism (or mutual condemnation) is in any way a useful or productive thing.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/25/2006 12:06:00 PM  

  • John,
    Mrs Hammer did not engage because you attempted to change the battlefield, primarily by using thoughts and ideas that are not your own.

    First, your exegesis is extremely poor - but I say that because I know it is not your exegesis. You lifted it either directly from John Boswell and Walter Barnett or from writers who used their exegesis. I also know it is not your exegesis because you do not read Greek!

    Words mean things. It is one thing to claim that a word “has a basic meaning” and another to claim that the meaning is unclear, but we know the root of it. In some cases, the root means nothing, such as in the term “kickback” which has nothing to do with kicking. In this case, malakoi is the plural of a root that means “soft”. The use of the word in classical Greek literature predating the NT, (such as in Aristotle: in Problems he has a lengthy discussion on the origins of homosexual passivity, and he uses the word malakos) malakos is used of boys and men who allow themselves to be used homosexually and of those who play the part of the passive partner in homosexual intercourse.

    The other word, arsenokoitai (again, plural) is an uncertain term, much more so (on its own) than malakos. However, the root words do not mean “man-beds”. Simply put, a root which is koite (that should look familiar to all of us when we say it) does not mean “beds”, but is instead “those who engage in sexual intercourse”, while the first part of the word does mean “men” or “masculine”. For this reason many modern lexicons understand the term to refer to those who are the active partners in anal intercourse with males.

    The Septuagint, John? How convenient that you avoided the specific Levitical prohibitons against homosexuality, which translates as καὶ μετὰ ἄρσενος οὐ κοιμηθήσῃ (I’m not sure how that will look in blogger) - “kai meta arsenos ou koimethese” – the SAME EXACT ROOTS.

    Church History? I know some of that, too. Homosexuality was condemned by early church writings and by the fathers. Specific examples include the “Apostolic Constitution”, Epistle of Barnabas, and the Didache (an early apocryphal writing), as well as by Augustine and Chrysostom.

    Basically, there's no reason to believe (beyond familiarity) that this passage actually refers to homosexual acts at all. And even if it does, it refers to prostitution rather than committed faithful relationships between people of the same sex.

    Isn’t that quite a jump, John? To claim first that you (via Boswell/Barnett) think there is a possibility that the terms to mean temple prostitution to conclude that “there’s no reason at all to believe” the view held by the church for nineteen centuries – that homosexuality is abhorrent? It isn’t just fundamentalist evangelicals, but men such as Augustine, Chrysostom, Aquinas, Luther…and Barth. Even Spong doesn’t stand with you on this one. (I have to admit, I didn’t already know that – here is the quote, “with the context explained and the words analyzed, it still appears to me that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior” (Spong, Living in Sin? p. 151).

    Mrs. Hammer wanted to know how you explained the verses away. I doubt you’d memorized that bit of exegesis. What is more likely is that you had already decided what the conclusion must be and searched for someone providing exegetical evidence. To give what I feel is an honest exegesis of the passages we’ve discussed, I’d present that Scripture does not say a lot about homosexuality. Possibly this is because it was not widespread in Jewish culture. However, we cannot escape the clear conviction that when Scripture does speak of it, it prohibits and condemns it. Thus, we must conclude that pro-homosexual apologists seem to escape the text’s meaning, not explain it.

    Now to the practical. Again, you use misleading words, “Even if, for the sake of argument and in the face of the evidence, we say that Paul intended to condemn homosexual behavior in general”, yet it is not in face of the evidence. In fact, it is in support of the evidence. The majority of Biblical commentary (which, as you know, is not dominated by conservatives) stands against you – particularly when we look beyond the last 50 years.

    There were Greek words for pederasty specifically. To claim that “These are new questions” is true only in that man’s depravity continues to find new ways to express itself. To claim, however, that because two men in a “committed relationships” are attempting to marry makes the prohibited behavior acceptable is as foolish as using the loving consent of a brother and sister to justify incest.

    As I’m finding less time to blog, I’ll rest on this one. I blogged for two years, and I think I had 32 comments once. Mrs. Hammer does it for two months, and she gets 95. I am ever amazed at God’s myriad ways of humbling me!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 7/26/2006 03:14:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    "First, your exegesis is extremely poor - but I say that because I know it is not your exegesis."

    Well, it's certainly not mine entirely - as you say, I don't know greek. I can only research the opinions of those who do. Yours being one, but there are others. Merely questioning the translation of one verse (which seems genuinely to be unclear) doesn't make heresy.

    So, malakos - I don't doubt that there some support for its meaning homosexual passivity. However, notice that even the KJV doesn't go that far (rendering it "effeminate"). Notice also that John Wesley (not usually regarded by conservatives as a heretic) apparently regarded it as meaning "lazy" or "unwilling to bear the cross". It is simply not true that the universal witness of the church is that this word refers to homosexuality here. Indeed, even if it is used by Aristotle to refer to the passive partner in homosexual acts, that isn't conclusive, because it's an adjective. Just as, in the preceding English sentence, "passive" doesn't mean "homosexual" but qualifies it, so malakos can have other meanings when not explicitly partnered with words that do refer to homosexual acts (as in the cases quoted above describing cloth). So, its mere presence in this verse doesn't automatically mean "homosexual".

    (And, as an aside, "the term “kickback” which has nothing to do with kicking" doesn't seem to be true - the Oxford English Dictionary gives its etymology as directly from "kick". It's just that it's a metaphorical usage.)

    Now, arsenokoite - again, you say that it means all homosexual activity. But there is a respectable and large body of opinion that says that it probably refers to ritual prostitution. The reference to the Septuagint does't prove that the word means prostitution, but does provide evidence for that position. Notice also that there seems to be no evidence (given that you offer none) that this word is used clearly to mean homosexuality in general - even if words with the same roots are used in this context. I would also remind you that this word was apparently generally understood to mean "masturbation" at the time of Luther and has absolutely not been understood as "homosexuality" for the whole history of the Church. Again, there were early church authorities who also used the meaning "ritual prostitution". (This isn't saying that these authorities condoned homosexual acts - merely that they didn't understand this verse to refer to them. Quite different things.)

    "many modern lexicons understand the term to refer to those who are the active partners in anal intercourse with males."

    I don't doubt it. All I was saying is that this understanding is neither universal in the church now nor universal across church history.

    The point is merely that it is in no way incontrovertible that this passage stands against homosexuality. It could mean "the lazy and masturbators", or "those who will not bear the cross and temple prostitutes". The passage itself doesn't bear the weight that is being placed on it.

    As for the levitical prohibitions on homosexuality, I wasn't "avoiding" them, because they weren't the question here. As I said, though, merely sharing a root doesn't mean much. Even the same word may mean different things in different contexts - and words that merely share a root can mean very different things.

    "Basically, there's no reason to believe (beyond familiarity) that this passage actually refers to homosexual acts at all...
    Isn’t that quite a jump, John? To claim first that you...think there is a possibility that the terms to mean temple prostitution to conclude that “there’s no reason at all to believe” the view held by the church for nineteen centuries – that homosexuality is abhorrent?"

    Careful when you quote someone. First, to demonstrate that a passage is unclear in its translation and that there are reasonable alternative readings means that it cannot be used unequivocally to condemn based on only one of the possibilities. That's simple and straightforward. Notice also that I didn't say "no reason at all". I said "no reason (beyond familiarity)", which is quite different. If one comes to this passage without the assumption that it must refer to homosexuality, one finds quite a range of possibilities rather than a clear condemnation. Even traditional readings differ, and "homosexuality" didn't become the standard reading until very recently as such things go (e.g. the KJV doesn't mention it). Second, and crucially, I am in no way saying that this verse proves that the position of the church on homosexuality is wrong - that's a total misreading of what I said. What I did say was that this passage doesn't clearly support that position, which is a quite different thing.

    Re: Spong.
    I've said that there's little point quoting him, because I am in no way a follower of his approach to theology. I am far more kin to evangelicalism than liberalism. It's just that I'm not conservative evangelical (which, once more, is not equivalent to "orthodox" or "correct").

    As for his quotation, "it still appears to me that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior", that's not the point. I don't think anyone suggests that Paul approved of homosexual behaviour. The question is whether God can accept it in certain contexts, which is totally different. I know that you simply say, "No." But there are reasons for Christians to disagree - saying No here seems to require that we set aside other Gospel imperatives, so the question becomes whether the Law is more important.

    "Mrs. Hammer wanted to know how you explained the verses away."

    What a loaded way of making that statement! If you'd stopped before that last word, it would have been perfectly fair and straightforward but, with it, it becomes "I'm right and you're wrong".

    "Again, you use misleading words, “Even if, for the sake of argument and in the face of the evidence, we say that Paul intended to condemn homosexual behavior in general”, yet it is not in face of the evidence."

    This was simply my not being sufficiently explicit. I didn't mean (and I assumed that this would be clear from the context) "all evidence anywhere". I just meant "in this passage that we're discussing at the moment". And, as I've shown, it is not clear that this verse refers to homosexuality either specifically or in general (it is reasonable to believe that it does, but also reasonable to believe that it doesn't - we cannot be sure). There are other verses that clearly do refer to it and I don't question that for a second. Those require different discussions to take place. But this verse is not clearly about homosexuality, despite the way some translations (particularly the ones you call dubious in your series on translation philosophy!) interpret it.

    "I blogged for two years, and I think I had 32 comments once. Mrs. Hammer does it for two months, and she gets 95."

    I know the feeling! I'm amazed that this one has rumbled on in the way that it has. And, honestly, the debate about homosexuality specifically doesn't really interest me - it's fundamentally superficial. The interesting issue is this one about Law and Grace, because that goes to the core of what it means to be a Christian.

    Anyhow, thanks for the discussion, everyone!

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/27/2006 05:02:00 AM  

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