Fear, the bible and Homosexuality


Fear, the bible and Homosexuality


One of the most important things to remember when studying the bible is to know who you are and what your potential biases are.  The study of homosexuality in the bible is polarized.  On one side of the issue is the cause of human rights and an honest desire to protect those who have been mistreated in the past.  On the other side we have tradition, the assumptions of most of the world’s societies and religions, and sometimes an irrational fear of homosexuals.  

We can’t approach the bible with a hermeneutic of fear.  Many evangelicals are afraid of becoming liberals. For them accepting homosexuals is the primary gateway to liberalism and heresy.  When we interpret text with an underlying fear of reaching a certain conclusion we are naturally biased against reaching that conclusion. 

I’ve seen this in a denomination I’m very familiar with.  There is a move towards affirming women in all areas of church leadership.  Among some this is perceived as another step down the slippery slope towards *gasp* affirming homosexual marriage.  People valiantly defend the status quo like it was a trench on the plains of Europe.  

I know that deep down a lot people would say that they don’t want even consider the idea that the bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality because they feel that the church has compromised too much already. They believe that through each ethical compromise the church descends down the slippery slope to moral corruption and irrelevance.  This may be true of a lot of things but living in this fear does not help us interpet the bible.  There are a number of perceived moral compromises which turned out to be very good.  The Anglicans couldn’t handle the Methodists preaching outside.  In the era of slavery the south had a far stronger biblical case than the abolishionists.  For many the defence of slavery was considered a defence of the authority of the bible much like the issues of women in leadership and homosexuality are today.

Those who approach the bible through the lens of human rights or victimization are similarly sidetracked.  Hurt and bitterness change our percpetion.  Negative experiences will impair our ability to interpret biblical text.  Someone who has been abused by a spiritual authority will be wary of submitting to authority.  A woman was abused by her father may have a hard time with the concept of God as a father.  I wouldn’t blame either victim in these examples but that doesn’t change the fact their perception will probably be skewed.

The lens of human rights skews us to a predetermined conclusion as well.  In much the same way that evangelicals fear the slippery slope, those who are committed to the cause of human rights are afraid of affirming the oppressors. 

As I look at the texts pertaining to homosexual sex there are number of words and phrases that can be taken more than one way.  It is on these key words where interpetive bias can show through.  I see people deciding to go one way or another without providing much of a convincing rationale. 

On the issue of homosexuality I’d say there is less of a calm rational middle that cares first for God’s desire.  The bible has become a pawn between competing world views rather than an authoritative source of truth.  What would it look like if we took an honest look at scripture and accepted it for what it says despite the ramifications.  Maybe the authors of scripture say something we don’t like.  Some may choose to disregard scripture as the primary authority for understanding God and what we would want for us.  I think that people who do this should be honest about it.  Hiding it to yourself and others won’t ensure salvation. 

Fear is what makes smart people stupid and rational people irrational.  As Christians we ought to be people of faith rather than fear. 

  1. #1 by Marc on October 23, 2005 - 12:34 pm

    Another good post.

    “Maybe the authors of scripture say something we don’t like.”

    I think this is key for both sides of any issue. Whether we like or don’t like a passage of scripture, or a specific book or author, or an interpretation of scripture (new or traditional) has no bearing on truth. We have to be open to the fact that we might be wrong.

  2. #2 by Rev. Mike on October 23, 2005 - 1:15 pm

    LT, what about approaching the text with the “fear” that we’ve often said in the church is based on reverential awe of the holiness of God? The least of my concerns in trying to understand the Word of God as it relates to this issue is what persons and group I may offend — I won’t say that’s always been the case. I am concerned that when we look at this issue we are more driven by the culture of discipleship as therapy than by a concern for the holiness of God. When was the last time you read anything on this issue that seriously considered the possibility of offending God’s holiness as something other than “irrational fear?”

    I have come to no resolution in my mind or my heart about this issue … wish I could because it would be so much easier for me if I could, one way or the other. Is there any place for us to live in the tension of our inability to discern the correct answer? Even better, is there any place to which we can come where the real life people about whom we’re speaking in the third person as though they’re not in the room become something more than “an issue” to people like me?

  3. #3 by Leighton Tebay on October 24, 2005 - 9:21 am

    Rev. Mike

    When was the last time you read anything on this issue that seriously considered the possibility of offending God’s holiness as something other than “irrational fear?”

    When I look at the issue of homosexuality from the Christian liberal perpective I don’t see a lot of concern about the holiness of God. When I look at it from a conservative perspective I see a lot simplistic interpretations. I see people making a big deal about less pominent issues in scripture. When I see both of those things I don’t see a lot of concern for God’s holiness either. As I said in my post I don’t see a calm, rational middle that cares first for God’s desire.

    On one hand I don’t want to contribute to the mistreatment of the disregarded in society because God has become very upset about that in the past. Even if the church has been right about homosexuals all along the church has inspired nothing less than hate among a broad scope of people. At the same time I don’t want to endorse what could be a mockery of his created design. From what I can read in scripture God could get very upset about that as well.

    Even better, is there any place to which we can come where the real life people about whom we’re speaking in the third person as though they’re not in the room become something more than “an issue” to people like me?

    In the past I’ve had two good friends that were bisexual. Other friends who engaged in sexual activity with the same gender for a period of time This issue has a real human component for me. I want to be able to come to a conclusion that I could tell those friends while looking them straight in the eye. I honestly want to find the place that reflects God’s love and His holiness.

  4. #4 by Markio on October 24, 2005 - 1:05 pm

    I do not believe that there is any question in my mind about the sinfulness of homosexuality. God spells out sexual sin in many places with painful detail, most notably in the Levitical laws. Anything that is outside of sex between one man and one woman in lasting union is sinful. I will not touch the issue of polygamy because that is an issue that I do remain questioning without solid answers because that is a subject that is not clearly dealt with in scriptures. The only thing that scripture clearly points out is that elders and deacons must be monogamous (an issue that sometimes needs to be addressed in countries where this is more common).

    The part that bothers me is the way that we view and communicate the topic of grace and homosexuality. I believe that it is in the interplay of these two topics that the interesting questions of homosexuality are found. Are there limits to God’s grace? What is God’s response to conscious sin? What is God’s response to reluctant acts of sin? I think this is the ground for the God-fearing theologian and lay person to explore the depths of God’s holiness and forgiveness. God has a history of forgiving and a long track record of patience with sinners, not the least of which being me.

  5. #5 by Leighton Tebay on October 24, 2005 - 1:38 pm

    Mark:

    God spells out sexual sin in many places with painful detail, most notably in the Levitical laws.

    The bible doesn’t speak a whole lot about samesex intercourse. Here are the verses in question. I think the only two that are really in play are Leviticus and Romans.

    Leviticus 18:22, 20:13

    Romans 1:24-27

    1 Corinthians 6:9

    1 Timothy 1:10

    None of these address homosexual practice with a lot of detail. Leviticus seems to condemn “men lying with men as with women” with straightforward clairity, but in all the NT the issue isn’t addressed directly. Even Romans 1 Paul is talking more about the punitive consequences of rejecting God.

    The big question I’m honestly grappling with is would Paul (or the author of Leviticus) call a monogamous homosexual relationship sinful? The key reason why this is even a question is because the concept of homosexual orientation and same sex marriage didn’t exist. A biblical author cannot directly condemn something that he wouldn’t have known about. What principle can we pull from these texts that we can apply directly in our context?

  6. #6 by Jadon on October 24, 2005 - 4:45 pm

    LT: I would speculate that Paul would be ambivalent but ultimately allow it. He would, though, be emphatic about monogamy and integrity. No promiscuity or imitations (i.e. heterosexuals acting like homosexuals or mixed orientations together) would be allowed. At the very least, Paul would want something that wouldn’t spoil our witness to the broader society, yet promoted peace, justice and reconciliation toward each other.

    As for Leviticus, I figure that resemblances to homosexual partnerships that were misleading would be proscribed. That would seem to be consistent with the spirit of the text.

  7. #7 by Paul Johnston on October 24, 2005 - 6:09 pm

    ” The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who supress the truth by their wickedness…”

    …for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead they became vain in their reasoning…and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man….”

    “…Therefore God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts…Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural…Males did shameful things with males and thus recieved in their their own persons the due penalty for their perversity…”

    “…Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

    ST. Joseph’s Edition NAB

  8. #8 by Marc on October 24, 2005 - 6:45 pm

    Markio: bringing up the Levitical laws as the basis of morality opens up a whole other can of worms. If we go with Leviticus for our view on homosexuality, what about all the other no-nos in Leviticus? Are we obeying all of those laws?

  9. #9 by Jadon on October 25, 2005 - 4:20 am

    Ummm…yes, Paul, St. Paul certainly wasn’t ambivalent back then. *smile* Yet this doesn’t explain completely why this particular scenario was used here, nor whether it is fully adequate or encompassing for today.

    As LT said earlier, “the concept of homosexual orientation and same sex marriage didn’t exist. A biblical author cannot directly condemn something that he wouldn’t have known about. What principle can we pull from these texts that we can apply directly in our context?”

  10. #10 by Paul Johnston on October 25, 2005 - 8:49 am

    Hi Jadon.

    Here is my take on ST. Paul’s perspective on homosexual behaviors.

    1. Homosexual orientation is a consequence of knowingly rejecting the living God and engaging in some form of idolatry. It is a portent, a sign if you will, that a soul is lost.

    2. For me, St. Paul by nature is prone to rhetorical digression and qualification of his perspectives. Sometimes to the point of redundance. If marriage and fidelity were somehow means by which the behavior could be made righteous, I think St. Paul would have said so.

    If you so choose, you can insert the phrase “unless married” at the conclusion of the passage and decide reasonably if it reconciles with the body. For me, it doesn’t. In squealeresque” fashion, (the loathsome political revisionist of Animal Farm fame) it renders the passage ridiculous.

    3. To affirm means by which the behavior may be made righteous, without any spiritual directive or scriptual indicator is for me, very unwise. It is as St. Paul says, albeit in a somewhat different context, ” God handing someone over to an undiscerning mind.”

    4. And finally, St. Paul, in his conclusion, seems to save his strongest criticism not for those who engage in the behavior, but rather for those who would defend and encourage it.

  11. #11 by Leighton Tebay on October 25, 2005 - 9:35 am

    1. Homosexual orientation is a consequence of knowingly rejecting the living God and engaging in some form of idolatry. It is a portent, a sign if you will, that a soul is lost.

    When Galileo looked up in to the sky and plotted the paths of the stars and planets he discovered that the earth went around the sun and not the other way around. He was condemened by the church based on the interpretation of a few verses of scripture. Today we can look back at those verses in the light of science and easily come to a different interpretation. I think you are doing something very similar. Research has proven a biological component in sexual orientation. Even NARTH (Christian ministry to homosexuals) admits this.

    In Romans 1 Paul very clearly says that some people rejected God and God gave them up to “degrading passions.” They exchanged the natural for that which was unnatural.

    Paul does not affirm this point the other way. He doesn’t say that all people you have “degrading passions” or “unnatural affections” were people who deliberated rejected God and started worshipping idols. If you followed your logic consistently homosexuals would also have to be “filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

  12. #12 by Paul Johnston on October 25, 2005 - 10:20 am

    Sorry Leighton, but I disagree.

    In my version (NAB) Paul does not refer to “some idolators”….it refers to all people who knowingly reject God as being “handed over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts.”

    While it further goes on to specifically condemn homosexuality, it does not exclude other forms, and indeed implicitly implies, other types of lust also.

    Nowhere in this passage can I reasonably conclude that some homosexual expressions are legitimate.

    As for the other adjectives that are expressed, I purposefully chose to avoid them in my comments so as not to be miscontrued given there highly inflammatory nature. I was preferring that they be mentioned by someone else so that I would be afforded the opportunity to rebut. Thank you.

    Evil, like righteousness, is a progressive thing; the tipping point is conviction. Just as righteousness begins with the acceptance that Christ is God and Savior, so too unrighteousness germinates when a person consciously chooses not to believe, even after “God has made his being evident to them.”

    Convicted faithfullness empowers the believer to overcome his fallen nature, biologically produced or otherwise, while rejection of God leaves him at the mercy of his lusts.

    Not all lusts are homosexual in nature. Many hetrosexual expressions are equally damning.

    Not all lusts are sexual in nature. Dependancy on alchol/drugs, gluttony and greed come to mind as other vices that could reasonably be inferred in St. Paul’s discourse.

    The point I think he is making is that to knowingly deny God, will lead to lustful aberration, (of which homosexuality is but one), sin and ultimately all the other unsavory attributes that you describe.

  13. #13 by Paul Morgun on October 25, 2005 - 10:44 am

    Thank you Paul Johnston for an excellent post, Tues. 25th 05…: “Not all lusts are homosexual in nature. Many hetrosexual expressions are equally damning.

    Not all lusts are sexual in nature. Dependancy on alchol/drugs, gluttony and greed come to mind as other vices that could reasonably be inferred in St. Paul’s discourse.

    The point I think he is making is that to knowingly deny God, will lead to lustful aberration, (of which homosexuality is but one), sin and ultimately all the other unsavory attributes that you describe.”

    Excellent.

  14. #14 by Jeff on October 25, 2005 - 10:46 am

    Leighton,

    I am curious at your words, “Research has proven a biological component in sexual orientation.” This can mean a numbre of different things. A few observations/questions for clarification:

    - I a wondering if we have assumed too much by simply referring to ‘sexual orientation.’ I am certainly not an expert in this area, but I am even starting to become reluctant to call myself a heterosexual in fear of what it may mean to someone else. I do not want to be classified as such, not because I might be partly homosexual, but because I will not allow my identity to be dominated by sexual expression. I am a male (and even that needs explanation these days!). Could you comment on your understanding of sexual orientation and perhaps attempt to justify how we can jsut assume this, or assume we all understand this the same way?

    - What do you mean by ‘biological component?’ Research has completely admitted that the media has taken a few phrases out of their context and has declared without the help of scinece that there is a homosexual gene. Politics even got homosexuality removed from the manual of psychological disorders (I believe in the 70′s?). So are you talking about a homosexual gene or are you talking about a genetic makeup that makes some people more susceptible to being attracted to the same sex (which ultimately contributes to the conversation regarding sexual orientation!). I would be interested in how you are understanding this.

    Great conversation Leighton, thank you for hosting this conversation, I am learning much.

  15. #15 by Leighton Tebay on October 25, 2005 - 10:55 am

    The point I think he is making is that to knowingly deny God, will lead to lustful aberration, (of which homosexuality is but one), sin and ultimately all the other unsavory attributes that you describe.

    In one sense I agree. Paul’s broad point is that God darkened the minds of people who rejected Him and “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” NRSV. This point is very clear.

    He is not saying that everyone who has a lustful aberration knowingly denied God and worshipped idols. We are born with a sinful nature and we don’t have be an idolater to have to “degrading passions” or “impurity.”

    I can say that alocholism leads one to violence, poverty, child abuse and liver failure. That doesn’t mean that everyone who abuses their children is an acoholic.

  16. #16 by Gil on October 25, 2005 - 11:24 am

    Leighton,

    The argument about how the church was wrong about Galileo and the schematics of the solar system is often brought up in these kinds of discussions and I think that’s fundamentally mistaken. The bible does not SELF-CONSCIOUSLY attempt to describe astronomy in language that we would understand today. Most biblical references to ‘the heavens’ are metaphorical (e.g. the sun coming over the horizon like a bridgegroom coming out of his tent, the sun ‘standing still’ in battle). Authors were not attempting to describe precise astronomical realities, they were gazing into the heavens and writing about what they say with whatever imagery they could come up with.

    The bible DOES self-consciously address homosexual behaviour and this (excellent) conversation is the result of that. But I think that we should avoid false comparisons between radical astronomers and Paul’s teaching on homosexuality.

    We have the same argument made often about how ‘Christians used to support slavery biblically’. That’s equally mistaken since the bible offers no systematic answer to the question, ‘Is slavery right or wrong?’. Yes Christians have misunderstood the bible on this point but we need to allow HOW the bible speaks to these issues to have priority.

  17. #17 by Leighton Tebay on October 25, 2005 - 11:26 am

    Jeff

    Could you comment on your understanding of sexual orientation and perhaps attempt to justify how we can jsut assume this, or assume we all understand this the same way?

    Sexual orientation as I understand it is the “inclination of an individual with respect to heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual behavior.” Merriam-Webster. As far I as I understand it we have more of sliding scale between heterosexual and homosexual. If 0 were heterosexual and 10 were homosexual most of the population is very close to 0. There are likely a small number of people sitting around 3-7 who could probably change their orienation through different kinds of experiences. There are others who are closer to 9 and 10 and without a supernatural event wouldn’t become heterosexual. I haven’t seen any study on this but I imagine that because so much of personality can be changed in early childhood the younger people are the more likely they are to have their sexual orienation changed.

    What do you mean by ‘biological component?’

    I think it is very likely that some people are born homosexual. I have no idea if there is a genetic component. It may be prenatal development. There are people that are born intersexual. Because of the lack of a proper amount of a certain hormone in prenatal development they have some combination of male and female sex organs. If we our physical attributes can reflect gender abnormality, I can understand how our brain might have the same thing.

    Some twins studies are compelling as well. People studied twins separated at birth. They found that when one was homosexual the other one had a much higher rate turning out homosexual as well. The study really doesn’t give us anything definitive to move on though. Twins are essentially genetic clones and if there was a gay gene they would both have it. At the same time the study proves there is something other than environment at play. If there was no biological component you would expect much less of those separated twins turning out homosexual.

    I know a lot of scientific evidence is disputed because this subject is politically charged. I’ve tried to use sources for which there is little dispute. There is lots of stuff on NARTH.

  18. #18 by Leighton Tebay on October 25, 2005 - 11:36 am

    Gil:

    The bible DOES self-consciously address homosexual behaviour

    Agreed, but the bible does not self-consciously address the cause of what we call a homosexual orienation.

    I believe that Paul is making the bible say something that it doesn’t say. I don’t think the Romans 1 passage describes how all people who have a homosexual orienation ended up that way. It describes the fate of some people who rejected God.

  19. #19 by Paul Johnston on October 25, 2005 - 12:00 pm

    I agree wholly with the your last post, Leighton. There are many ways by which a person may be brought to ruin. My caveat is simply that unless we embrace Christ as Lord and Savior, we will be overcome by the imparatives of our “fallen nature.”

    Insofar as St. Paul’s discourse is concerned though, do we not have to at least consider that he is saying that homosexual expression is one way of recognizing a soul that has knowingly turned from God. I may be wrong in this regard, Leighton but it is honestly how I interpret the passage. Whether I have discerned correctly or not, let me state truthfully what this means to me.

    I sin. I have knowingly in the course of my lifetime, turned from God. If I ever wish to evaluate sinfullness and judge the sinner, I need never walk away from the mirror, there is enough to see in my own reflection. And yet I am no longer overwhelmed, left defenceless and defensive.

    Jesus knows my limitations, my fears, my shortcomings and limitations. He does not cruelly expose them or judge me harshly. In fact he offers his abiding love as an antidote and cure.

    If I come to Him he will heal me in spite of myself and my choices. His lifesaving gift is free to me. In love though, as love, he asks that if it is possible for me, if I will so choose and allow, he will reflect His love through me and in so doing someone else is brought to redemption.

    He does not ask me to carry the weight of the world, rather he asks that I allow Him the opportunity to use me to save but one; one at a time.

    In this way, using us all, if we so freely choose, much is done. God’s greatness may be made manifest.

    I think it is fair to evaluate and discern homosexual behavior, particularly in light of Biblical references. I do not think it is Godly to judge and condemn the person engaged in homosexual activities. Judgement is God’s alone.

    Lastly and perhaps most importantly I wish to speak to those, brothers and sisters who engage in homsexual relationships.

    My friends, before you are anything in your own estimation, you are first, last and always a beloved child of your Creator, your Father in heaven.

    He “knew you in the womb”, He has “counted and numbered the hairs on your head.” In His great love for you he has endowed you with his very being, he gave you of Himself in the spiritual being that is your soul. When salvation was compromised, he did not abandon us, rather He gave us his Son. He does everything for us in love, as love.

    First, last and always you are a beloved child of God, as am I.

    And what of you, my brothers and sisters? Do you not hope to see yourself as something more than a sexual orientation. Are you not a son, a brother a sister, a friend. Would you not rather be identified first with skills you have learned and shared. Would you not rather be first known as a lover, a giver, a person of good humour? Do you not dream of a relationship with life that transcends sexual expression, as it’s defining characteristic?

    Forgive me if I offend you, my brothers and sisters. Truly it is not my intention. Rather I come in love offering what I believe to be words gifted to me from the Holy Spirit.

    May the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us always.

  20. #20 by Jadon on October 26, 2005 - 10:36 am

    Hmmm…I go away for one day…

    Anyways, there are some issues that have not been addressed in this thread:

    1. Obviously people use Scripture and precedent to justify the traditional view. At what point would we conclude that people are stubbornly resisting any possible change because of fear, ignorance, insecurity or even hate?

    2. Perhaps the issue really appears simpler but is actually more complex than we consider it to be. How would we know when we are oversimplifying or overcomplicating things?

    3. Those who self-identify as gay apparently arrive at this conclusion after some level of struggle. Do we make this harder or easier by our position? Do people hide because of a defensive or intimidating atmosphere by Christians? When are we being defensive and intimidating unknowingly? Does this make our position reasonable?

    4. Maybe we consider heterosexuality as a non-issue because it is easier to take for granted. We are male or female, but must that automatically assume that heterosexual expressions are realistic for all? If we presume it does, when is our perspective fair and when is it not?

  21. #21 by Jerry on October 26, 2005 - 1:44 pm

    AHHHhhh, Jadon. Good stuff. I agree and share your inquiries. However, I will only comment on your third point (or number).

    Tell me if I’m not consistent with your questioning, but I’ve been wondering about the affect on relationships within the church when what is understood by the majority as a sin is embraced by the minority as God-given.

    I am curious, first of all, if there have been clear distinctions like this in a church environment. Secondly, what are the feelings shared within the majority and minority? And what are the feelings communicated from one to the other?

  22. #22 by Gil on October 26, 2005 - 4:48 pm

    I think you’ve put your finger on the heart of the issue Jerry. One group sees a ‘sin’, the other sees an ‘identity’. As long as this issue is understood in these two lights, dialogue is very difficult because there is no shared vocabulary.

    If one person views homosexual practice as a behaviour that should or should not be done while another person sees it as an identity that is or is not rejected then conversation is difficult. One side says, ‘yes but I only object to the behaviour, I don’t hate you as a person’. The other side says, ‘on the contrary, you are rejecting me as a person because you are condemning a central piece of my identity.’

    I certainly hope that conversation on this issue is possible but at times it is difficult to see how since a basic requirement of conversation is a shared vocabulary.

  23. #23 by Jerry on October 26, 2005 - 10:29 pm

    I’m also curious what would happen, what people would feel, if it was the majority who denied that homosexuality was a sin and the minority were convinced otherwise.

  24. #24 by Leighton Tebay on October 26, 2005 - 11:25 pm

    Jadon

    1. Obviously people use Scripture and precedent to justify the traditional view. At what point would we conclude that people are stubbornly resisting any possible change because of fear, ignorance, insecurity or even hate?

    This is a very good question. I think there are a couple of signs to indicate you are acting out of fear, ingorance, insecurity etc…

    • When you decide your position based on evidence presented by one side
    • When you refuse to enter in to a personal relationship with people who don’t share your opinion
    • When you make no attempt at understanding the vocabulary of the other side the way they use it
    • When you come to conclusions that you wouldn’t be brave enough to speak to someone face to face
    • When you constantly feel yourself geting upset at just ideas
    • When you link one person’s benign opinion to extreme negative circumstances or consequences

  25. #25 by Paul Johnston on October 26, 2005 - 11:26 pm

    Jerry, I suspect that this is already the case.

    If we’re lucky and really believe what we say we believe, the tide against us will continue to build. Hopefully, in time, we will no longer be able to deceitfully maintain many of the hedonistic perks of culture while at the same time swearing fidelity to the gospels of Jesus Christ.

    I can’t seem to give them up of my own volition, can you?

    Persecution may well be our best way out.

  26. #26 by Paul Johnston on October 26, 2005 - 11:42 pm

    It occurs to me that I will probably never know the truth of Jesus Christ, not in His fullness anyways. Hopefully, before it’s too late, I’ll come to understand the truth, good or bad, about my relationship with him.

  27. #27 by Paul Johnston on October 27, 2005 - 12:23 am

    Jadon, respectfully sir, there is so much wrong with your last post it is difficult to know where to begin.

    Firstly Jadon, Scripture can and has been used for both the support of traditional and radical viewpoints. The reformation was hardly affirming tradition or the status quo and the plethora of Christian sects that have evolved since tend to site scripture in justifying their break.

    Your foundational premise, Jadon, is just plain wrong.

    Secondly and of greater concern, is a smear of Orwellian magnitude linked to a false premise.

    Insofar as people adhering to traditional Biblical traditions irrespective of cultural perogatives you could just as easily conclude they have a deep and abidng love and reverence for Jesus and the gospels as you could ” at what point conclude they are stubbornly resisting any possible change because of fear, ignorance, insecurity or even hate?”

    That you would make such harmful generalizations about other Christians without citing specific arguements and the specific Biblical passages in question, offers a more unflattering picture of yourself than the one you falsely create about others.

    I was hoping to ignore this unfortunate post but given the support it has gathered from Leighton, I wanted to at least offer this perspective as counterpoint.

    When debating ideas, in my opinion, it is unacceptable for me to think that someone with whom I disagree with is fearful, ignorant, insecure or even hateful.

    Maybe one of us is just wrong.

  28. #28 by Jerry on October 27, 2005 - 6:27 am

    Paul,

    Behind every ‘neutral’ argument are good and bad desires in the person using them. The troubling thought is, ‘Which of my desires am I not aware of?’

  29. #29 by Paul Johnston on October 27, 2005 - 6:39 am

    Hey Jerry,

    I’m not sure how to respond to your last post, I could interpret it several ways. Rather than mistake your intention, perhaps you could elaborate further and/or be more specific in your understanding and opinion of Jadon’s post and my subsequent criticism.

    Forgive me if I do not reply for a while, time for work…

  30. #30 by Leighton Tebay on October 27, 2005 - 7:54 am

    Paul

    I think you are hitting a flea with a hammer. While it is true that Jadon’s comment came at things from one side that doesn’t mean it was illegitimate. The questions are worthy of being answered. They are also worthy of being turned the other way.

  31. #31 by Paul Johnston on October 27, 2005 - 1:59 pm

    Hey Leighton,

    Okay, okay, while the sentence that includes the phrase “Orwellian magnitude” soars like a literary eagle, I’m open to suggestions that it is a TAD melodramatic. ;)

    Still I can’t help but think that if someone here said that “of course homosexuals will use the bible to denigrate faith traditions, and at what point would we conclude that they are stubbornly refusing change based on fear, ignorance, insecurity or even hate”, such a statement would be viewed as more than a “flea” and would liikely be attacked with several bagfulls of “hammers”.

  32. #32 by Marc on October 27, 2005 - 3:38 pm

    I think Paul makes a point with what he just said…

  33. #33 by Jadon on October 28, 2005 - 2:05 am

    Uhh, Paul…I did say “Scripture and precedent“, not just Scripture. I was also specifically focusing on the topic of this thread, not in general. Perhaps I should have clarified that by saying “the traditional view of this particular issue” instead. Sorry for any confusion. I think LT understood what I was saying though.

    Insofar as people adhering to traditional Biblical traditions irrespective of cultural perogatives you could just as easily conclude they have a deep and abiding love and reverence for Jesus and the gospels as you could ” at what point conclude they are stubbornly resisting any possible change because of fear, ignorance, insecurity or even hate?”

    That’s right, which is why people may not notice if there are any real potential problems for this topic. How would they know? Good people can presume innocence or wisdom wrongly.

    I focused my question on the conservative end of this controversy because most (if not all) of the commenters seem to come from that perspective. Tough questions deserve to be asked, no?

    Moreover, your reaction reminds me of what both sides of this type of discussion tend to do. They assume. Exaggerate. Panic. Deflect. Miss the Point. You know…the usual.

    Sigh. No wonder there is polarization.

    Maybe both of us are never completely right. May God help us all.

  34. #34 by Jadon on October 28, 2005 - 2:43 am

    Jerry:

    I think both sides of this issue tend to see themselves as the underdog, as persecuted. Both sides are also fairly confident in their perspectives, which can lead to a false sense of security sometimes. Not only that, both groups don’t realize that their actions can polarize and embolden their opponents directly or indirectly.

    Yet what is often overlooked is that both sides usually deal with particular aspects of this issue. The conservatives tend to look at the behavioral issue and consider conformity as sacrificial, diligent and courageous. The liberals tend to look at the internal struggle, so they consider permissiveness as compassionate, just and generous. Of course, each side may see the other in a different light than I have described, so that adds to the frustration.

  35. #35 by Paul Johnston on October 28, 2005 - 6:24 am

    Hey Jadon

    Sorry, where you use the word precedent, I substitute the rather convoluted phrase, “traditional Biblical traditions”. (I just noticed!)

    Difficult questions need to be asked to be sure but like paragraph #5 in your last post and your origional point, I think it would be better to leave subjective interpretations and unflattering characterizations of others motives, off the table.

    The subject matter itself is tough enough.

  36. #36 by Jadon on October 28, 2005 - 12:22 pm

    Well, I do agree we must be careful and give others the benefit of the doubt. I wasn’t trying to paint one side with a broad brush though. (I’m sorry if it come across skewed. It wasn’t intentional.) Most people on either side are well-meaning and come to genuinely different conclusions on this issue.

    I wanted to determine when this was obscured or complicated by bias and when it was not. That goes for both main groups. After all, motivations do matter at some point, which was part of LT’s original point.

    What does seem clear is that this issue makes people unconfortable when challenged. People of whatever persuasion can react negatively.

    Thanks for putting up with me, Paul. I know I can be frustrating to understand. LOL

    Grace and Peace.

  37. #37 by Paul Johnston on October 28, 2005 - 9:20 pm

    Thanks for the generous response, Jadon.

    I’m sure we’ll talk again. Please feel free to remind me to make inquiries before making assumptions. Though I sometimes have difficulty with the concept, apparently I’m not always right. :)

  38. #38 by ????? ??????? on June 4, 2010 - 1:08 am

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