The Textual Tradition & Homosexuality

I would like to begin this post by insisting upon my humanity over this subject. I have felt a great many emotions concerning the rights and struggles of my gay brothers and sisters. I will not attempt to deny my anger or sadness, as this subject is one I have great difficulty simply intellectualizing – not taking personally.
dansig

exodus_internationalThere are a few passages in the Hebrew and Greek testaments that give reference to same sex relations. As I will attempt to show here, many of these interactions can be reasoned not as negative due to their same-sex status but rather an interaction that is either taboo or destructive socially. While assessing each of these scenarios keep in mind a couple of questions: Do the historical ramifications translate to our culture? Do these actions in themselves merit condemnation or simply understanding? Third, why does this matter to me?

The Abominable Act
Every sin and law mentioned in the scriptures has a qualitative rationale for its impartation. Laws against marrying cousins and siblings seem to us quite reasonable, almost unnecessary. For a culture such as the early Hebrew nation, exogamy and exclusionary tactics made interfamilial courtship and matrimony a viable solution. We are quite removed from this backdrop. We believe exogamous marriage to such an extreme is culturally taboo. Even more, we realize now the genetic disorders we are now predisposed to, many disorders that were not in existence during the early times of the Hebrew nation. Taking this in mind, we do not culturally recognize such acts as sin in the way our predecessors did. Take this in stride with laws against wearing multi-textile clothing, shaving your face at the sides , even having foreskin upon ones genitals. We are disconnected culturally from many of these sins/laws.

Take these into account in the writings of Leviticus 18. A culture straining to maintain equanimity as well as cultural identity among their Babylonian captors sought any way of weeding out those who would not assist in the populating of the culture; hence the word abomination – against culture.

Leviticus 18.22

You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. (NASB)

One must ask the question “why” in reading this verse. I believe the question is not ‘what happens’ in terms of being gay but rather ‘what does not happen’. If one is sleeping with a man as they would sleep with a woman, a woman is NOT being slept with – not propagating the culture and not assisting in the development (numerically) of the people. If you read through this chapter it has a lot to say about nakedness, marriage and the act of “laying/knowing”. It should be taken into account, however, the scriptural ramifications address the act:

18.29 – “For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people.” (NASB)

A reasonable translation to this (yes from English to English) would be as such: “If you perform an act against our culture, you will be removed from our culture.”

Fast-forward several thousand years to the USA in the 21st century. Are we worried about the depletion of our population? Do we believe men sleeping with other men (ladies likewise) will propagate some sort of sterility in our world? I believe the answer to be “no”. We obviously no longer live in an exogamous society, the message of the redemption of Yahweh is no longer confined to Israel (please know I mean this historically, not theologically), we are not in captivity – fearing our race (religious as well as ethnic) to be obliterated. One should ask themselves, does the word abomination apply?

mcc2
Homosexual?
The word homosexual has been a term of major dispute in the interpretation of the scriptures. Words such as malakoi, arsenokoitai, andrapodostai, have gone through significant typological and culturally influenced misinterpretation. Since the distribution of the scriptures “malakoi” itself has been translated as ‘masturbators’, ‘morally weak persons’, ‘catamites’, ‘sodomites’, ‘effeminate men’ etc. Notice each of these phrases have specific and different meanings dependent on their culture and interpretation.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (NIV)

The passage in itself seems to be a bit redundant (male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders (malakoi oute arsenokoitai ) unless a little context is put in place. It was common in Greek culture for a young man to gain cultural and political esteem by sexual means. In these times a boy aged 14-18 would receive gifts, learn from and even sexually please an elder in their city in order to gain access to the social network of Greek city-states. This passage speaks specifically against actions of sexual promiscuity; more specifically acts of sex not performed in the proper ground of love and commitment. It is quite plausible to assume from this historical understanding, the boys performing sexual acts to gain esteem may be the malakoi. Likewise the older men soliciting sex the arsenokoitai.

There is no reference to acts of sex, between same sex nor opposite sex partners in this passage that are in the cradle of mutual love, affection or commitment. It is irresponsible to conclude from this passage that an act of love between two men expressed sexually can be construed as immoral.

Romans 1:24-27

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. (NIV)

As before, this passage refers not to loving acts of sexual exchange but rather lustful acts. Take in mind the real sin in this passage was misdirected worship (idolatry) as sighted above.

I would also like to note, passages concerning love are not limited to heterosexual relationships. Many scriptures refer to men who loved each other deeply. The scriptures do not paint sexual acts as ‘good’ solely because they are heterosexual. Sex must be loving to be good. Acts of lust, same sex and opposite, are sinful. Concerning this, I perceive an equation stirring in conservatives’ heads that I do not understand:

Straight + Lust = Bad
Gay + Lust = Bad
Straight + Love = Good
Gay + Love = Bad?

Is loving someone of the same sex bad inherently? Is it not plausible for a woman to love another woman or a man to love another man in a way sexually expressed? Where does the scripture dictate this as wrong action when done so in love? The scriptures say:

Proverbs 3:3

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. (NIV)

John 13:34-35

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)

1 Samuel 18:1-3

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. (NIV)

and most importantly …

1 John 4:7-8

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (NIV)

What boundary then does love have?

The church has been (and I mean this only from experiences I have had and those familiar to me) horrendous in teaching proper sexual interactions between even committed heterosexual couples. Many cite verses like Genesis 38 as completely logical rationale for oral and other types of non-life producing intercourse to be considered immoral in today’s culture. This takes scriptures such as these out of context. What form does sex have to take to be holy?

Here are a couple assumptions I have about the assumptions other people make who take an anti-gay position in theology:gay_church-thumb

1. A gay relationship can never be loving or committed
2. Gay individuals do not know god
3. God hates homosexuality
4. Gay people are sexually promiscuous
5. Being gay is weird
6. Homosexuality is effeminate/de-womanizing

Let me say, I believe anyone who acts unloving and noncommittal or is promiscuous is not following the redeemer-god. And I do not believe homosexuality is inherently promiscuous or lustful.

I would agree the Christian tradition has looked unfavorably on homosexuality. I would argue however, homosexuality as a practice became wrapped up with prostitution and promiscuity (et al) and was not treated as an issue of love.

Gay individuals and marriage
While meeting with a pastor, whom I love and adore, several months ago I heard him say (and I am crassly paraphrasing) “Why do homosexuals have to get into marriage? Why do they have to affect the institution of marriage?”

I think this is an excellent question. Initially I would respond by saying, I don’t believe gay men and women are ruining marriage by getting married. While learning about Christian marriage I was under the impression marriage was the responsibility of my spouse, my Lord and me. When the man down the street beat his wife to a bloody pulp, I didn’t think my marriage was at risk of loosing some inherent value.

My marriage and its institution was and is locked tightly in the fortress of love and commitment.

When the divorce rates rise, my marriage doesn’t cheapen, it remains my personal commitment to my wife and my creator. Simply put, I believe anyone who chooses love and commitment may get married.

If one is worried about marriage somehow being ruined as an institution (and I believe this issue is more politically motivated than interpersonally) one should begin teaching couples about the importance of finance, require marriage counseling for church members, try to legalize a divorce ban (with obvious exceptions). I don’t think this is ever going to happen, though, because I don’t believe the issue has anything to do with ‘marriage’. If I may squeeze this out a bit more, I have never heard a minister (nor a politician for that matter) speak of the institution of marriage as being attacked when they hear of domestic abuse. Could this issue possibly be more about the taboo of homosexuality than us worrying about marriage?

Homosexuality and the Church
In the end what does ones view of homosexuality have to do with the church? One of my mentors asked me a few months ago, “Do you believe it’s okay to be gay?” My response to her was, “It doesn’t matter what I think.” I think the Church must answer likewise. If you think it’s wrong to be a glutton do you allow gluttons membership in your church? When searching about denominational beliefs, do you ask if they allow individuals who are financially irresponsible to take communion? This point can, as you know, go on for days. Our goal is love.

If homosexuality is wrong, a gay person will enter the church, fall in love with Jesus and be convicted of their sin – the triumph goes to our Lord. If homosexuality is right, a gay person will enter the church and fall in love with Jesus and be convicted by their sin – the triumph goes to the Lord. I am not worried because I trust my Lord.

Ultimately, I believe our reaction should be faith in love. I would urge church leadership to insist upon continuity in church theology. If you really do believe (enter sin here) is wrong then distribute judgment and consequence equally. It is upon this ground all Christians can gather, we seek after love, conviction and community.
1 Peter 4:8

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (NIV)

rainbow-cross

Advertisements

17 Comments

  1. Good post. If you added into your equations Love + sex = Good Love + no sex= bad or good?

    While I agree with you that the church has not done a good job in teaching or holding those accountable for marriage nor the relationships of gays.

    I would offer that there are two aspects to agape neither of which you mentioned for whatever reasons – Ephesians 5:25-29 & 1 Corinthians 13:1-8.

    But the one area in which the church has utterly failed in promoting is virginity. Is everyone called to be married? I would hazard that all are not and therefore some are called to be virgins for life and held in the highest asteem by the church (I’m not speaking here of priests but specifically the laity).

    Rev 14:3-4: They were singing (what seemed to be) a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women; they are virgins and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb.

    Now virgin here could certainly mean refraining from idolatrous practices, but I think the number 144,000 being representative of all nations means drawing virgins from every nation.

    Perhaps gays are called to philia with others and refrain from sexual relations for agape of God.

    Reply

  2. I have two major thoughts in response to this, QBA.

    First, I believe it is perfectly acceptable for one to NOT participate in EROS. I also think it is fine for EROS to be communicated physically as long as PORNEA, ARSENOKOITAI stays out of the equation. However, I would like to insist upon the importance of AGAPE however it may be expressed (toward humanity or creator). I believe this is where I answered the acts of “loving” mentioned in your verses above.

    Second, I would question the necessity of virginity (celibacy) for an individual who acts in love and is desiring sexual expression with another. One can love god (AGAPE) AND express love for another sexually (EROS). One could also choose to remain celibate (a pure one, virgin) and not participate in sexual expression of love.

    Reply

  3. Dan,

    “I would question the necessity of virginity (celibacy) for an individual who acts in love and is desiring sexual expression with another.”

    I would ask why?

    Does the fact that God permits freedom of choice equate to permitting the individual to develop their own moral autonomy, simply because we may desire sexual expression does not require it to be right or just?

    Agape towards humanity must be devoid of inordinate self-love. EROS is not subject to that limitation.

    As a Catholic I naturally support the concept of an act of mutual love towards the spouse. When we chose to impair the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, we bypass His design and we in fact contradict His will as the Author of life. Therefore such love while appearing to fulfill the agape towards humanity does not do so towards God. Not that you were implying this, but I want drawing that from your statement “toward humanity or creator”. Acts we make towards humanity of necessity involve the Creator

    This is true if it is a married couple who choses to use birth control rather then self-denial for love of their spouse, or the gay couple who are unable to naturally conceive children, or the single couple who fornicate or the secular couple who are unable to conceive and enter the brave new world of generating life in a test tube.

    Reply

  4. QBA – Tom~

    Thank you for putting so much effort into your comments, I feel it complimentary you react this way.

    “Does the fact that God permits freedom of choice equate to permitting the individual to develop their own moral autonomy, simply because we may desire sexual expression does not require it to be right or just?”

    – I don’t believe so. Moral autonomy is not godly. One who follows their creator follows after the created moral distinctive in design. In this line, desire for sexual expression does not make sexual expression right; love does.

    – I am not an etymologist, but let me please ask further consideration on your definitions of EROS and AGAPE. Neither word refers to ‘inordinate self-love’, as I would put it “selfish motivation”. Eros is a love expressed through sexual means with physical implication (meaning one is affected physically). Agape is love fully committed, completely sacrificial and all encompassing. Eros love is an expression of one’s agape toward another, though Agape is not necessarily Eros.
    * On this, Agape doesn’t mandate intentionality toward the creator (ie. I can love my wife ‘agape’), but it is most definitely godly.

    “When we chose to impair the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, we bypass His design and we in fact contradict His will as the Author of life. Therefore such love while appearing to fulfill the agape towards humanity does not do so towards God.”

    – Two thoughts here:
    1. If one only ‘appears’ to fulfill agape but does not, they are not acting in love. When one loves their neighbor their act is an act of worship to the creator.

    2. Sexual love remiss of procreation is not love? I may not be reading you correctly, if so please amend my following statement. The propensity to create live doesn’t determine whether or not love is truly expressed. Women and men born without the capacity to procreate, or who receive such a physical state are able to express love sexually. Women who are finished with menopause still have sex lovingly, men who are born sterile may use their still functioning sexual organ to communicate lovingly.
    – Is the same not true for individuals who achieve the same status by desire? If I choose this moment to still express love to my spouse and not procreate (through contraceptives) am I empty of love in my act?
    – If this is so I hope one who ascribes to such an ideal does not attend doctor’s appointments, take vitamins, use a treadmill or wear insoles in their shoes: under the same subset men have altered the design of the earth to contradict natural law. Weak must die to enhance the stronger species, flat footed persons may not continue in their altered ways, less they breed and continue their poor design for another generation, processing food for the benefit of personal health is destructive to the intended design of a god who wished for us to eat non processed and enriched foods.

    If my wife and I would have gotten pregnant early in our marriage we would have gone into poverty. We would not have been able to put ourselves in the strongholds that have allowed us to emotionally, financially and intellectually prepare for children. Does my inability to provide for a child mean I don’t love my wife (or that I can’t)? No. Science has made a way in which life can be lived more responsibly, more freely and with even greater providence.

    Reply

  5. Well I’m not an etymologist either and I’m legendary for my spelling errors. But given all that I think EROS is boiled down to mean desire of another. And the individual derives pleasure in the desire.

    Mankind is created to desire good, but in seeking good we place our happiness in the pleasure we receive in it, rather then in the Creator who has made all.

    AGAPE differs in that the individual does not seek its own good, but the good of the other because the individual recognizes the Creators hand in the creature. They derive their pleasure in perform good for the other.

    “Agape doesn’t mandate intentionality toward the creator (ie. I can love my wife ‘agape’), but it is most definitely godly.”

    Adam loved his wife eve but it turned into EROS because he chose to eat the apple and trust his wife rather then trust God’s promise. So while yes man is called to love their wife we are called to do so as Christ did for His church.

    We don’t have many husbands willing to be literally nailed to a cross (as Christ was)for their wives, if their wives were unfaithful(as all humanity is to God) to them. That’s AGAPE.

    “If one only ‘appears’ to fulfill agape but does not, they are not acting in love. When one loves their neighbor their act is an act of worship to the creator”

    Agreed, if their love is motivated by recognizing God within the individual.

    “If I choose this moment to still express love to my spouse and not procreate (through contraceptives) am I empty of love in my act?”

    I would say you are certainly not acting Agape. There is clearly self-love not selfless love in such an act. Its not like every time one engages in the sexual act that they procreate. Yet we are called to be open to it if we are to remain true to God’s call. To bypass the procreative act one is engaging in achieving the pleasure without the potential responsibility of such an action could naturally bring about. Agape would be to abstain from sex when one believes there is a likelihood of having a child. One demonstrates to their spouse that their own self-gratification is subject to the benefit of their marriage. The same is true when one expresses fidelity to their spouse and supportive of raising their offspring.

    On your second point I think you misunderstand my intent. While the physical laws of nature are establish by the Creator I’m not addressing those points.
    Men and women are invited to play a part in the creation of a human person. However it still take God to impart a soul to the material to make a human person.

    So when I speak of Natural law I mean the moral component which all humans are given.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09076a.htm

    “If my wife and I would have gotten pregnant early in our marriage we would have gone into poverty. We would not have been able to put ourselves in the strongholds that have allowed us to emotionally, financially and intellectually prepare for children. Does my inability to provide for a child mean I don’t love my wife (or that I can’t)? No. Science has made a way in which life can be lived more responsibly, more freely and with even greater providence.”

    I don’t mean to offend. We simply are approaching this from different angles. Your position is without a doubt the overwhelming major opinion. And clearly you have done so with the intent of bring about a good. However your position is not the traditional Christian position, which was against contraception up until the 20th century.

    If you said to your wife that you will determine when and how many children you have would that not be a lack of love towards her? Or if she said the same to you? But is not God the third party to your marriage? Do you have the authority to tell Him when and how many children you are going to have?

    IMO when a couple uses contraception they are in fact telling God that they have total control over the procreation act not God.

    I’m reminded of the decision Abram gave to his nephew Lot on which piece of land he wanted. Lot use human logic and “rightly” chose the land that was more fertile and easier for his family to survive. Yet it turned out that it was the wrong choice. Abram was willing to take whatever God would provide and trust that God would take care of his family even if the present circumstance doesn’t appear to be very favorable.

    Question- is it possible had you gotten your wife pregnant earlier in your marriage that in honoring God by placing your trust in Him to provide for you and your family that it would have happened? Or if not if you had been driven into poverty that God would provide for you still? Only you can answer that.

    “Science has made a way in which life can be lived more responsibly, more freely and with even greater providence.”

    Science is trustworthy for the physical laws, but not for moral ones. Be very careful what or who you place your trust in.

    An interesting article “An Economic Perspective on Sex, Marriage, and the Family in Contemporary United States”
    Author: Dr.Robert T. Michael
    http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:DbLG9RludOMJ:www.src.uchicago.edu/prc/pdfs/michae03.pdf+An+Economic+Perspective+on+Sex,+Marriage,+and+the+Family+in+Contemporary+United+States&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=firefox-a
    “My estimate was that about half of the doubling of the divorce rate from 1 percent to 2 percent in this fifty-
    year period (all of which occurred in a ten year interval from 1965 to 1975) was associated with
    the unexpected nature of the contraceptive revolution. (Michael 1988 p.385)”

    His data shows that those who have babies sooner in marriage have a longer lasting marriage than those who do not. Another is that since contraceptives have arrived on the scene, there is much more adultery than there was before. That’s why divorce when from 22% to 50% in ten years.

    Reply

  6. I appreciate the thoughtful way you approach this topic.

    It is important to point out that the arsenokoit stem was NEVER used in ancient times to describe a committed, faithful, non-cultic same sex relationship between two men or two women.

    http://www.gaychristian101.com/Arsenokoites.html

    This indicates that our spiritual ancestors did not use the arsenokoit stem to describe what we now call homosexuality.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Rick Brentlinger

    Reply

  7. Great post. I’ve enjoyed the dialogue after.

    It looks like eros and agape have been shook out well.

    One part of the post that hasn’t had much attention is the first part, abomination.

    My thoughts haven’t fully formed on this one yet but hopefully with a few thoughtful responses it’ll become clearer.

    From the outset of mankind the command was to “fill the earth.” This command was given to Adam and Noah. After that came the promise to Abraham and his descendants that they would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Up until the time of Abraham the command was to fill. After Babel the command to Abraham was to gather, or be a blessing. There was a promise of relationship by God to Abraham and that promise was to the nations as well through Abraham. God would have relationship with all those Abraham had relationship with. Those who blessed Abraham would be blessed, those who cursed Abraham would be cursed.

    From the beginning the command was to fill and after the command to fill was the command to gather, to know, to bless. In essence Abraham was to fill the earth with people who obeyed and worshiped God by having blessing relationships with others.

    So, where is the abomination? We don’t live in a culture as you pointed out where we need to procreate. We are not afraid of creating sterility either, nor are we in captivity religiously or ethnically.

    But does that void the command given to Adam, Noah, and Abraham and his descendants, far before Leviticus? I think the use of abomination is still applicable. The original command was to be a people who obeyed, loved, and worshiped God. It is an abomination to do otherwise.

    So “if you perform an act against our culture you will be removed from our culture.” Has God’s culture changed? How do homosexual relations bring about God’s culture? (I’m defining God’s culture as one where we, mankind, fill the earth both literally in male female relations, and also in the Abrahamic sense in having relations with others bringing them to a blessed relationship with God.)

    If I read the post right the question was
    ‘is abomination still appropriate for the 21st century?’. It came from Leviticus but I would take it back further to the commands in Genesis. Great points are made in relation to abomination culturally, but I think it missed something.

    So there’s the start of it, what does everyone think?

    Blessings,
    Kevin

    Reply

  8. I think one thing we must be careful of is picking and choosing which bits of Old Testament law we follow and hold our contemporaries to, and which parts we choose ignore.

    In the NT, Paul makes it clear that the old law is not the point, and more to the point the old law is not intended to be a hard and fast way of living for Christians in a post resurrection context; he says not to be bound by it since even the people of Israel couldn’t live up to it. I find this clear in Acts 15: 5-21.

    [5] Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.”
    [6] The apostles and elders met to consider this question. [7] After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. [8] God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. [9] He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. [10] Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? [11] No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
    [12] The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. [13] When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. [14] Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. [15] The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

    [16] ” ‘After this I will return
    and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
    Its ruins I will rebuild,
    and I will restore it,
    [17] that the remnant of men may seek the Lord,
    and all the Gentiles who bear my name,
    says the Lord, who does these things’
    [18] that have been known for ages.

    [19] “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. [20] Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. [21] For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

    Now to me, this precludes most OT law in one clean stroke.

    But don’t get ahead of me, this is not to say that the ten commandments are no longer valid. They are all restated in the NT except for the commandment about observing the sabbath, and Paul mentions a couple more pointers; “…abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.”

    So in the first place, we have to be careful using OT law to rail against anything, especially homosexuality.

    My rule is, if it’s restated in the NT, then it’s most likely applicable to me today (even if in a different social or cultural context).

    So we have to consider most heavily those verses in the NT that appear to pertain to same sex relationships and ask, is the issue at stake that of homosexuality in and of itself, or that of sexual immorality regardless of the gender of the involved parties?

    I have a feeling the moral error in question pertains to the nature of the sex acts, regardless of gender.

    Reply

  9. You might not want to go here in this post, but…
    in Matthew 19, the Pharisees come to Jesus and want him to pick sides between Hillel’s and Shammai’s views of when it is okay to divorce.
    He, naturally, brings them back to the real issue- “Instead of asking when is it okay to divorce, you should be asking how can anyone rip apart what God has joined together as one.”
    Are you saying that a man and a man and/or a woman and a woman can become one flesh?

    Reply

  10. Jeremy and Kevin,

    I agree that these verses are important in constructing a wholistic understanding of sexuality and Christianity. Whatever can be said for the individual Pauline passages against homosexuality, it seems that the best way to address this situation is from a broader theological perspective of sexual ethics, not picking off homosexuality to the side.

    Reply

  11. I am there with you Tony Jr. The interaction between the two testaments is complex and needs careful attention.

    Reply

  12. “We don’t live in a culture as you pointed out where we need to procreate” kevin.

    Sorry to be off topic but I have read this point about not being concerned about procreation twice in this discussion. since no one questioned this assumption, I’m assuming this is a commonly held position of your bloggers. If that is the case I think you should consider that the position is not entirely on solid ground.

    China clearly is faced with a population implosion.
    http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/chinas_demographic_doom/

    Europe is in the same boat; in fact the concept of being French, or German, or Italian may well be gone by the turn of the 22nd century. The only industrial nation that isn’t faced with it is the US, but that’s based on the assumption that a significant influx from outside the US will continue. That of course is dependent on a good economy.

    And I wrote a post on it at my blog. In summary the global population will likely peak in 2045 @ 7 to 9 billion. Within 50 years after the peak it will be halved. Having less people on the earth may seem like a good thing however the ability of a aged culture to impart the education to the young while placing a hugh economic burden on the young to support the old is difficult. If the young are unable to have at least 3 children each, then we can be faced with halfing the population again to under 2 billion people in the next century. The ability to sustain the modern quality of life with that level of physical and intellectual manpower may not be possible.
    http://quickbeamoffangorn.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/population-implosion-rather-then-explosion/

    Reply

  13. QBA – Tom~

    I believe the core of our disagreement is on the issue of the procreative nature of sex. Though I would love to hash this out with you a bit more, I feel (and I mean this with respect) it would be done under that specific line of transmission (ie: you write a post on good sex and we correspond based on your argument).

    I have simplified my argument to the love/lust issue. The ground on which I argue gay wo/men can actually have good (as in loving) sex. This, for me, goes back to our little etymological dispute where I believe EROS and AGAPE are both completely love, devoid of selfish ambition and you believe otherwise.

    Kevin Y (KY)~
    – earlier you wrote: “I’m defining God’s culture as one where we, mankind, fill the earth both literally in male female relations, and also in the Abrahamic sense in having relations with others bringing them to a blessed relationship with God.”

    I would agree, under your definition of “god’s culture” same sex relationships have to place. However, I would be hard pressed to find the phrase “god’s Culture” in any work … anywhere. This phrase is too pointedly ambiguous to have any place in historical criticism (which is my method in interpreting these texts).

    I do agree, however, there is such a thing as the kingdom of god. This existence (the transformed existence) transcends culture, humanity and understanding. I am not writing about this heavenly existence either.

    When I say things like “Hebrew culture”, “Greek culture” I am trying to pull out an ideal. People who lived in a dying culture recently exiled out of their chosen home, attempting to grasp hold of identity, solidarity, theology and health view their creator-god a certain way. This is the culture I am attempting (obviously not so clearly) to describe. And yes, Kevin, culture has changed. The way people view their creator has changed. The issues and laws that worked for a time are now very different. The sheer fact that we believe (as Jesus-followers) the law has been replaced by a new grace, shows something very different indeed. To quote a friend of mine “The Kingdom of god is near!”

    Tony Jr. (The Anti-Tony)~

    Your point has some validity. We differ a bit on this as (to put it bluntly) I do not believe ‘truth’ is restricted to the scriptures. Sure, the New Testament has fulfilled the law, the Lord has also spoken to me personally, through prophets of the modern day, through the pope (*Reed, Tony, Jeremy, Chris – ex cathedra) etc.

    If I may point out two quotes I especially disliked:

    1. “Now to me, this precludes most OT law in one clean stroke. ”

    2. “My rule is, if it’s restated in the NT, then it’s most likely applicable to me today (even if in a different social or cultural context).”

    1: WHAT?! The OT law was precluded? Abolished? Smashed? I don’t believe this was Jesus’ intent. Instead he came “not to abolish the law but to fulfill the law”. “For out of his fullness we have received even GRACE UPON GRACE.”
    2. I guess I don’t understand this quote. The death and resurrection of the Messiah made way for new grace. Most of the issues addressed in the NT: docetism, paganism, kosher laws, ambiguous marriage laws, etc have no application to us. Now, the principles are the same; I would argue damn close to the principles of the Hebrew Bible. So if culture doesn’t apply, principle stays similar: what exactly do you mean by “restated in NT” and “apply”?

    Jeremy S (JSim) ~
    I love your question. I will have to ponder this question further. Allow me to throw out some initial thoughts. That phrase is so powerful to me personally, I have trouble seeing where my personal feelings end and some sort of cognitive thought begins. I think of my marriage, my love for my wife is so powerful, so chemical so terrible I wrap all of it into one frightening set of jumbled thoughts.

    The two become one flesh – This phrase contains a lot of imagery, sex, childbearing, interwoven chemistry. I cannot tell you why (the question of the post) but I know my wife and I are one. Through our love I feel a sense of connection; one that is not her, nor me but us. I feel this is part of the “one flesh” idea. Also, we are able to bear (if everything goes well) offspring that look, smell and feel like we do. This child (proverbial) is the result (a gift even) of our love.

    A couple like us that are unable to bear children (lets say Reed and his proverbial wife – a result of his assumed sterility), are they still able to be one flesh despite their unfortunate dilemma? No, they are one. The birthing is out of love, newness is formed between two and one is created. As the minister who spoke at my wedding said to us “1+1=2, but with Jesus 1+1+God; that is something extraordinary.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s