Another Look at Homosexuality and Christianity

October 17, 2007 at 5:00 am 64 comments

Gay 1I have a confession to make. I am a red-blooded, heterosexual male. Like most men, I love attractive women. I have never had what I would consider homosexual temptations, or any other attractions to the male gender. I know only a couple openly gay men, I don’t understand the lifestyle or mindset of the gay man, and I cannot conceive of how any man could be sexually attracted to any other man. I just don’t get it.

But that is not my confession.

My confession is, even when I was a Christian, I did not condemn homosexuality. Yes, I knew what the Bible said, and I remember how all my former pastors told us to ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’. I know that by and large Christians view homosexuality as major sin, and I was expected to agree with God on this issue and condemn it just as he did. But the truth of it is, I just never cared about that. I never told any of my fellow Christians at the time, but I am now telling you, the random internet surfer. As a Christian, homosexuality just never bothered me. Nope. Never did.

I looked at it like this. Jesus, when asked by a lawyer, basically summed up the entirety of the Mosaic Law into two basic, simple commands: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27). Do not murder? Yeah, that one is covered. Keep the Sabbath holy? Sure, that law honors God. But condemn the homosexuality of my neighbor? How does that fall under ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, or ‘Love God with all you can muster’? It seems the odd command out because I could never see how it fit under either category.

And besides, it simply never personally offended me. I just didn’t care who people were attracted to. If two adults of the same gender are attracted to each other, well, I don’t get it, I don’t understand it, but I could not see what harm was being done to anyone. I could not see how condemning homosexuality enabled me to love my neighbor with any greater love, or allow me to love God more than I did.

So it never bothered me. And I knew what the Bible said about the matter, but I guess I kept myself far enough removed from the issue that it very rarely affected me.

So, if Jesus managed to summarize the Mosaic Law into two simple, basic commands, and never once discussed homosexuality in any of his many discourses, where does that leave homosexuality? And why do Christians seem so hell-bent to condemn the ‘Sin’ and cure the ‘Sinner’?

Consider a recent comment to our humble De-Conversion website from Britt, concerning homosexuality:

In light of the recent controversy regarding homosexuality, there has been a continual, reoccurring, and common argument presented in a vain attempt to undermine God’s law and its obvious condemnation of this behavior. As I’ve preached and witnessed to sodomites on the streets and at college campuses for the past 20 years this is one of the first questions posed. The argument goes something like this…

“Doesn’t the Old Testament ‘holiness code’ also condemn eating shellfish and pork, and it says you must wear a certain type of clothing, etc. If you are going to condemn homosexuality, you should also condemn these things! If these things are acceptable, then so is homosexuality! …

…Now, bear with me as I expose the error of this common argument. The Bible contains two covenants, commonly referred to as the Old Testament and the New Testament. There are differences in purpose and content between these two covenants (which could be extensively elaborated on). Therefore, in discussing matters regarding the distinction between the “covenant of law” and the “covenant of grace” there are certain absolutes that we must recognize and understand:”

Next, Britt divides the Mosaic Law into three categories.

[1] The law of God is divided into three spheres: civil, ceremonial, and moral.
[2] Christ came to fulfill the law.…
[3] The ceremonial law has been fulfilled by Christ and is no longer applicable for believers under the covenant of grace – rituals, dietary, circumcision, animal sacrifice, etc…

So far, I am with Britt. Note that the categories which Britt divides the Law into, civil, ceremonial, and moral are not explicitly defined in Scripture, yet I think Britt’s divisions are fair. And I also agree with Britt, that according to Christian Doctrine and Scripture, a fair case can be made that Christ did indeed fulfill the ceremonial law (and I would say the civil law too, unless we want to continue stoning children for dishonoring their parents). The problem is that, it is up to us exegetes of Scripture to rightly decide which Law falls into what category. And it is here that I think Britt misses the Levitical boat.

[4] On the other hand, the moral law of God was likewise fulfilled in Christ but is still in effect under this covenant. Every moral commandment expressed in the O.T. has been reiterated in the New Testament (this includes laws and commandments forbidding fornication, adultery, incest, bestiality, and sodomy).

So Britt, you are saying that sodomy, however that is defined in Scripture, is a moral law under the Torah? Britt, if I may be so blunt, how do you know that? How do you know that Christ did not abolish that as part of the ceremonial law too? How can you so easily deem eating shellfish and pork as ceremonial and homosexual acts as moral ? Does eating a yummy pork chop break Christ’s command to Love God with all our being and also Love our neighbor? How about Adam loving Steve? How does that break Christ’s command to us?

Let’s look at this issue in some more detail. Buckle down, this is going to be a fairly long read – but I hope it will be worth it. Homosexuality in the Bible is very misunderstood, even by me since I consider it ambiguous at best, but it needs to be dealt with.

First, notice that Britt uses the term sodomy for homosexuality. Where does this come from? Turn with me in your Bibles to the 19th chapter of Genesis. Sorry about that. Old Bible Study catch phrases still haunt me from time to time.

Two angels have been sent to Sodom to rescue Lot and his daughters, and to see if there is anyone in the city of enough righteousness to keep YHVH from destroying the entire city. We all know the story from here. Then we get to the key passage:

And they [the men of Sodom] called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. (Gen 19:5)

That word know is the whole problem in this passage. What does it mean? The NKJV gratuitously adds ‘carnally’ to the end of the verse. The NLT and NIV state explicitly that the men want to have sex with the strangers. Is this correct? Honestly, I am not so sure. The Hebrew word yada is rendered as ‘to know’, and is used very rarely in a sexual sense in the Old Testament. In fact, of the 943 times yada is used, only 10 of those cases are used in a sexual manner and none in a homosexual context except Gen 19:5. In fact, when sexual relations are described later in the story between Lot and his daughters, different Hebrew words are used to describe the dirty deed. In this case, yada could just as easily mean ‘beat up’, or ‘abuse’. Why is such an ambiguous term used for this instance, and how can we be so certain what it really means?

Another clue to the meaning of yada comes from the commentary of other Biblical writers. Why did these people think Sodom was destroyed by God? It is true that the Old Testament uses Sodom as an example of evil in numerous places (i.e. Deut 29:23, Deut 32:32, Isa 3:9, Isa 13:19, Lam 4:6, etc, etc,) but never once does it mention the sin being homosexuality. In fact, Ezekiel 16:48-49 lists the sins of Sodom as “pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness…neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy”. No mention of homosexuality. Anywhere. Jesus seems to think that the sin that destroyed Sodom was lack of hospitality, for if strangers were not hospitable to his disciples, they were commanded by Jesus to, “shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Mark 11:24).

Do I know the certain answer here? No. But it is just one of those things that is too ambiguous to be sure about. It is surely too ambiguous to use as God’s ‘Holy standard of morality’, or as an indictment to ‘hate the sin and love the sinner’.

Let’s now look directly at Britt’s claim that homosexuality falls under the category of ‘moral law’ in the Mosaic Law Code. The clearest charges against homosexuality are in the following two passages of Leviticus:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Lev 18:22)

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (Lev 20:13)

The key word here, and the word I that I think separates moral from certain ceremonial laws, is abomination, here translated from the Hebrew word toevah (another word for abomonation, sheqets, is also occassionally used). In the Mosaic holiness code, homosexuality is an abomination, right along with eating shellfish, wearing clothing of two types of material, or eating pork. Notice that abominations do not include lying, murdering, rape, incest, or anything that clearly harms a fellow human and thus falls under the moral category. Is it morally wrong for a Jew to eat pork? No, morality is not the point here. Rather, eating pork is ceremonially unclean, it is a way to keep their race distinct from the masses, it is, Levitically speaking, unclean or an abomination. Abominations seem to deal with ritual laws like eating pork or engaging in sexual intercourse during menstruation, or condemnations of idolatry. Abominations never deal with moral or civil tort law, unless one is willing to make the sole exception to be the abomination of homosexuality (or bestiality, which is also regarded as abomination) . But such a designation seems wholly arbitrary after considering the categorical designation of toevah that has been provided for us in the very text of the Torah!

If Christ did away with laws of ritual ceremony, he did away with the law of homosexuality.

But what about Paul? Didn’t he condemn homosexuality? Well, let’s take a look…

There are three passages in Paul’s epistles which have been supposed to deal with homosexual relations.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators,…nor effeminate [Greek – malakos], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [Greek – arsenokoitai]…shall inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10)

The Greek word here, malakos, is translated literally as ‘soft’, but given wide meaning in ancient Greek writings. Aristotle used the word to mean unrestraint with respect to bodily pleasures. A slight variation, malakia means ‘disease’ in Matthew. In other Greek writings, it is given such varied meanings as ‘cowardly’, ‘weak willed’, ‘delicate’ and ‘gentle’. More interesting is that these passages were universally interpreted to mean, not homosexuality, but masturbation by Catholic and Protestant churches well into the 20th century, and only very recently came to be interpreted as a condemnation against homosexuality. Indeed, only the most modern translations (i.e. NKJV, NASB, NIV, etc) interpret these passages as an indictment against homosexuality.

For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind [Greek – arsenokoitai], for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine (1Tim 1:10)

The Greek word arsenokoitai is very rare in ancient writings, so rare in fact that a a precise translation is very difficult. However, the best evidence suggests very strongly that the word means, not ‘homosexual’, but ‘boy prostitute’. Pederasty, or the sexual relationship between older men and boys was part of normal Greek and Roman culture, but seems to be condemned in these passages by Paul’s Jewish Christian culture. They likely have nothing to do with homosexuality outside of that context.

One more folks. Bare with me a little longer.

The last scriptural passage which Christians use to condemn homosexuals is Romans 1:26-27.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Rom 1:26-27)

What does Paul mean by ‘that which against nature’? It does not seem that a philosophy of an overriding natural law was formulated at the time Paul wrote Romans, but in fact that came hundreds of years later. ‘Nature’, in this case, is not a sense of overriding morality, but a sense of personal character. For instance, referencing Paul, Jews are Jews ‘by nature’ (Gal 2:15), and Gentiles are Gentiles (uncircumcised) ‘by nature’ (Rom 2:27). ‘Nature’ is not a sense of morality, but a sense of personality. What Paul seems to be discussing in Romans 1:26-27 is indeed homosexuality, but homosexuality committed by otherwise heterosexual persons, thus persons who are defying their own ‘nature’. Taken in context, the whole point of Romans 1 is to condemn people who have rejected and left their true calling. What caused the Romans to sin was not that they lacked what Paul considered a proper understanding of morality, but rather that they did have it, yet denied it (Rom 1:21). Paul briefly uses the analogy of a straight man committing homosexual acts to make the point, then continues with his main theme – enumerating the sins of those who have rejected the knowledge of God.

So does the Bible condemn homosexuality as a moral evil? Not as far as I can tell, but even if it does, it is ambiguous at best. But I bring all this up, not because I base my morality on anything the Bible has to say about the matter. Indeed, I do not. And as I confessed earlier, even as a Christian, I did not condemn homosexuality. Rather, I bring this up because Christians, by and large, continue to use the ambiguous Biblical passages that I referenced in this article to condemn Homosexuals. Christians claim that they base their own morality on the Scriptures, thus they condemn homosexuality without considering the ambiguity in their interpretations. The Christian Savior and Redeemer, Jesus of Nazareth, had absolutely nothing to say about homosexuality, yet homosexuality is condemned in the Christian mindset. Yet, by and large, these same Christians have largely ignored many of Jesus’ very clear commands concerning money (Matt 6:19), public piety (Matt 6:3) and divorce (Matt 5:31). What Bible are Christians basing their morality on? Not the one I am reading.

Britt finishes his comment with this:

Needless to say, the O.T., as well as the N.T., clearly condemns homosexuality. An honest handling and interpretation of Scripture will yield nothing otherwise.

Britt, in all seriousness, are you sure about that? I have handled these passages as honestly as I could in this article, and I must say that regarding homosexuality, Scripture, at the very least, quite ambiguous. And I echo all my fellow Christian apostates by crying:

Enough with the Christian bashing of homosexuality already!!

Required reading: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, by John Boswell

-HeIsSailing

Entry filed under: HeIsSailing. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Tink’s manifesto Another Brick in the Wall …

64 Comments Add your own

  • 1. HeIsSailing  |  October 17, 2007 at 7:41 am

    Hey, if any of you de-conversion contributers are saavy enough to figure out Britt’s email, or at least his/her website from the IP address or something, can you let me know? I want to email this article I wrote out to Britt.

  • 2. Epiphanist  |  October 17, 2007 at 7:42 am

    A long time between posts! No wonder, this is a complex one. In simple terms, Christians are not to judge. Christians are only free enough of guilt to cast stones because they have been forgiven. Which makes a mockery of any casting of stones at homosexuals. It is not Christian, it is bigotry.

  • 3. HeIsSailing  |  October 17, 2007 at 7:43 am

    Wait, Britt said he was a pastor and taught about this subject for many years – that means Britt is definitely a ‘he’.

    *snark*

  • 4. HeIsSailing  |  October 17, 2007 at 7:49 am

    Ephiphanist:

    A long time between posts!

    Yeah, all us de-convert contributers decided to go on holiday together. We met at the island paradise of Kauai for some well deserved time away from active apostasy. I surfed with the radical dude ThinkingApe, drank mai-tais with the lovely lostgirlfound, climbed the sea-cliffs with the daring and reckless Simon and communed with sea turtles with the introspective Karen. You should have seen how The de-Convert cut loose at the luau! Give that man some saki, and he just looses all inhibition!!

    *sigh* It was a beautiful holiday. Let’s do it again sometime, shall we fellas?

  • 5. pbandj  |  October 17, 2007 at 10:27 am

    heissailing

    great post…really appreciate a fresh perspective on difficult issues.

    i think you really hit the bottom line in regard to the division of commandments and what has been “abolished” and what hasnt. the problem is with the word abolish…

    i have been studying this issue (not homosexual, but rather the “abolished” issue) and to be honest, there is much more inclination that Christ never intended to “abolish” anything.

    you see, in english, abolish means get rid of, but the greek word indicates much more of a “fulfill” (which is how it is actually translated as well), but this fulfill would even be better translated as “fill up” or “make complete”. so Jesus isnt abolishing anything, he is bringing it to culmination (to include shellfish and pork, etc).

    just as a final word, look at the context of the “abolish” passage:

    “do not think i have come to abolish the Torah or Prophets, i have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. for truly i say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot will pass from the Torah until all has been accomplished. THEREFORE, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so as well will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    so i really think Jesus intended to maintain the Jewish Law, not “abolish”.

    what do you think?

    peter

  • 6. Jim  |  October 17, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Hi HeIsSailing!

    Long time no write. A great piece here, I enjoyed your perspective. A few points, I guess.

    While Britt’s division of Old Testament laws into moral, ceremonial, or judicial is helpful in some respects (as originally written by Aquinas, maybe), you make a great point. This division of the laws is not inherent to the Bible itself.

    With that, I would say speak against the assumption some would make that all of these Old Testament laws can be neatly categorized into one of those three categories. As in, a law can only be moral, but not ceremonial or judicial. I think that’s a faulty presupposition to make, the laws often overlap b/w these imposed categories. As we know, the Bible tends to never be that clean-cut!

    Also, regarding abominations that are beyond the dichotomy of “ceremonial” laws: Proverbs 6:16-19: “Here are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

    All sin is an abomination against God.

    Yes, Jesus had nothing to say specifically about homosexuality. Given that he was speaking in a Jewish context, interacting with mostly Jews who knew the ins and outs of the Torah, it is reasonably certain that it was understood by both him and his audience to be against that law. When Paul preaches to Gentiles, that’s when it starts to show up more (Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, etc.).

    I’m writing more than I intended. This tends to happen with me.

    Concisely put, the Bible does make a solid case for God’s gift of sexual relations to be confined to a marriage relationship only, as defined between a man and a woman (starting in Gen. 2:24).

    But your last sentence is really the kicker. Enough with the homosexual bashing already!! Absolutely agreed. I have met people who used to be gay and now say they are happily straight, and I also have gay friends. I do believe that lifestyle is unhealthy, and sinful. But no different than the sins against God I commit every day of my life.

    The church should be a place where it is communicated that God loves me just the way I am, and also loves me too much to let me stay the way I am.

    A great book I read on this for its tone and scholarly information is “Straight and Narrow: Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexual Debate,” by Thomas Schmidt. Especially the chapter ‘The Price of Love.’ Surprising stuff.

    Thanks for this post.

  • 7. LeoPardus  |  October 17, 2007 at 10:53 am

    But condemn the homosexuality of my neighbor? How does that fall under ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, or ‘Love God with all you can muster’?

    This is one that gives me no difficulty. If the homosexuality of your neighbor is harmful, then it is not loving to just say it’s OK. Ditto, the adultery of your neighbor, the promiscuity of your neighbor, the shoplifting of your neighbor, the reckless driving of your neighbor, and so on.

    So if one sees homosexuality (or anything else) as harmful, then cannot be interpreted as loving if you just ignore it or say it’s OK.

  • 8. noogatiger  |  October 17, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Question:

    Is something a sin simply because God doesn’t like it, or is something a sin because there is some pre-existing moral law that preceeds even God.

    If it is the former, then there are no moral absolutes because it is only at the whim of God’s likes and dislikes at the moment perhaps. If it is the latter, then who made the rules and couldn’t we figure this out without God and wouldn’t God be in trouble for using evil for his purposes?

    Yes this is a variation on the Socrates Question.

  • 9. LeoPardus  |  October 17, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    If the former, the theological presupposition is that God is immutable and thus so are His laws.

    If the latter, then we don’t need God. And He would be in big trouble if He existed.

  • 10. Thinking Ape  |  October 17, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    . If the homosexuality of your neighbor is harmful, then it is not loving to just say it’s OK

    Leopardus, you’ve brought this up before, so you must have something in mind. How is homosexuality harmful? In my experience with homosexuals, it has been the act of intolerant heterosexuals within the immediate family that create the devastating friction and hate. A homosexual is a person that loves and expresses that love to another person of the same sex. Sure, if there was something harmful in that, lets look at it – but I’ve spent much of my life around homosexuals and have found nothing. Nor, despite the attempts from Focus on the Family (who definitely spend a lot of time around homosexuals?), has any study shown otherwise.

  • 11. Bill Dearmore  |  October 17, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    It’s great to see you still around, Noog.

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  October 17, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    TA:
    I’m speaking in purely biological terms. Homosexual men (not women so much) have higher incidences of some diseases (HHV8, HVB, HIV, and others) and they have a greater tendency to develop some degree of immunosuppression. There are some similar trends among certain heterosexual groups (very promiscuous and those that engage in frequent “alternative” practices). And among some low socioeconomic groups.
    I don’t think any of those people should be left with “Oh well. That’s just your lot in life.” That’s not tolerance in my book. It’s abandonment. If education is needed, then educate. If behavioral changes are needed, then encourage that. If precautionary measures help, then implement them (if you can).
    But too often I seem to hear/read people saying, “Just leave homosexuals alone. Accept them as they are.” And I can only respond, “No. I’m not willing to leave alone when things can be made better.”
    Let me be clear here please. I’m not bashing anyone. I am simply aware of certain facts, epidemiological and otherwise. And I won’t ignore them.

  • 13. lostgirlfound  |  October 17, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    HIS … yes, the mai-tais were wonderful … at least I think so … I don’t really remember that much about Hawaii … thanks for the insightful comments (as always). It helps calm me from a conversation I had today, where a “well-meaning” Christian pastor said, “We’ll use manipulation to help ‘them’ see our way …”

    I had to leave the table before I slit the guy’s neck with my steak knife …

  • 14. karen  |  October 17, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Yeah, all us de-convert contributors decided to go on holiday together. We met at the island paradise of Kauai for some well deserved time away from active apostasy. I surfed with the radical dude ThinkingApe, drank mai-tais with the lovely lostgirlfound, climbed the sea-cliffs with the daring and reckless Simon and communed with sea turtles with the introspective Karen. You should have seen how The de-Convert cut loose at the luau! Give that man some saki, and he just looses all inhibition!!

    *sigh* It was a beautiful holiday. Let’s do it again sometime, shall we fellas?

    Absolutely! Those green sea turtles are awesome. And d-C parties like a carnal Christian! Who would’ve thunk it? ;-)

    Leo:
    I don’t think anyone’s advocating a cessation of safe sex education where it’s needed, whether that be in the homosexual or the heterosexual community.

    But that’s not the same thing at all as condemning homosexuals to hell because of their orientation. Totally different. The whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing fell apart for me when my brother came out of the closet. He told me, “Being a gay man is fundamentally WHO I AM, it is one of the things that defines me, just as being a heterosexual woman, wife and mother is part of what defines you. If you hate the fact that I am a homosexual, you hate me.” No two ways about it.

    I can’t imagine how Christians think that god expects homosexuals to practice lifelong celibacy, and thereby give up relationships, affection, emotional stability and all the other essentials we heteros take for granted. That kind of condition might be understandable, perhaps, for those in the dark ages who consider homosexuality simply a moral failing that’s totally under the control of the person involved. But once we realized that it’s somehow innate, that thinking becomes barbaric.

  • 15. karen  |  October 17, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    It helps calm me from a conversation I had today, where a “well-meaning” Christian pastor said, “We’ll use manipulation to help ‘them’ see our way …”

    I had to leave the table before I slit the guy’s neck with my steak knife …

    Congratulations on your restraint. I was privy to a disconcerting amount of underhanded evangelical tactics like manipulation, scare stories, bad assumptions and even outright lying. Realizing how unethical some evangelism is was a major early warning flag for me.

  • 16. HeIsSailing  |  October 17, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Pbandj asks:

    so i really think Jesus intended to maintain the Jewish Law, not “abolish”. what do you think?

    I would like to read more about your thoughts about this. But I think you are absolutely correct about this – if you take the Gospel of Matthew as your guide to Jesus. I think this Gospel clearly portrays Jesus as commanding that the Law, and the entire Law, continue until the end of the ‘age’. I think there was an early Christian tradition of Torah-keeping Christianity, and this is best represented in the Gospel of Matthew, Revelation and maybe the epistle of James. Peter also followed this early brand of Christianity, and Paul condemns Peter for it. With that in mind, I think Paul was the main drive in removing the ceremonies of the Law from Christianity – and this was the orthodox Christianity that eventually won the day. Refuting Torah Christianity is the whole reason Galatians was written.

    So, I think you are right, PbandJ, it just depends on what part of the Bible you are looking in. I do not consider the Bible to be a monolithic whole, with answers that agree everywhere. That may be the largest single difference in how I differ with most Christians in Bible interpretation.

  • 17. HeIsSailing  |  October 17, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    Jim says:

    With that, I would say speak against the assumption some would make that all of these Old Testament laws can be neatly categorized into one of those three categories. As in, a law can only be moral, but not ceremonial or judicial. I think that’s a faulty presupposition to make, the laws often overlap b/w these imposed categories.

    You may be right about this. Certain laws may fit into more than one category – what do I know? The problem is, can you decide which ones fit in what category(ies)? And how do you make these decisions? I think it is potentially tricky enough with the 3 simple categories that the Laws seem to fit in.

    Jim:

    Yes, Jesus had nothing to say specifically about homosexuality. Given that he was speaking in a Jewish context, interacting with mostly Jews who knew the ins and outs of the Torah, it is reasonably certain that it was understood by both him and his audience to be against that law.

    This makes no sense. Because the Jews knew what the Torah meant, he decided he would not comment on it? No. What do you think the Sermon on the Mount was all about? His commentary on the Torah. We simply have no opinion from Jesus on homosexuality. Silence on this issue tells us nothing.

    Jim:

    Concisely put, the Bible does make a solid case for God’s gift of sexual relations to be confined to a marriage relationship only, as defined between a man and a woman

    No, I don’t think it is that simple. Marriage is never defined as between a man and a woman. In fact, the Bible says very little about marriage. For instance, show me where polygamy, which was widely practiced and endorsed in Scripture, is banned for us modern Christians. I am not necessarily arguing for polygamy, gay marriage, or anything else of the sort. But you will never, ever find those issues addressed in the Bible.

    Jim:

    All sin is an abomination against God.

    But that is not how I addressed the problem. The question is, is all abomination a sin? Is eating pork, shellfish, having sex during menstruation, or wearing polyester a sin in God’s eyes? If not, then why is homosexuality? Is refusing to stone children for dishonoring their parents a sin? Is refusing to stone homosexuals a sin? All those are commanded by God in the Mosaic Law. If you answer ‘no’, then you have to explain why homosexuality is still considered a sin while the others are not. How do you know which category(ies) of sin ‘homosexuality’ belongs in? Who told you why that should be so?

    All I am trying to point out in this article, is that the real answers are not as clear as Christians make them out to be. I don’t have any way to know what the authors’ original intent was, since they died millennia ago, and sorting out these ambiguities is tricky. Placing homosexuality as a moral sin, as opposed to a ceremonial uncleanness is wholly arbitrary. I wrote a couple paragraphs explaining why homosexual acts could be considered ceremonial uncleanness, and not moral sin in the Mosaic Law. It seems plausible to me. If I am wrong, I would appreciate an explanation to your reasoning.

  • 18. HeIsSailing  |  October 17, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Leopardus:

    I’m speaking in purely biological terms. Homosexual men (not women so much) have higher incidences of some diseases (HHV8, HVB, HIV, and others) and they have a greater tendency to ….etc

    Leopardus, first understand that I do not believe in sin, as in an offense to a Holy God. So I am bringing this up strictly on theoretical (fun) grounds –

    I will not argue with anything that you said, after all I am certain you have more experience in this area than I do. However, what you are arguing begs a larger question – is the person’s self-destructive lifestyle necessarily ‘sinful’? How about a person who habitually gambles? Drinks? Smokes? How about a person who consistantly weaves in traffic. Is that a sin? A rock or mountain climber? Is it sinful to spend your weekends dangling from a cliff-face suspended by a rope anchored by a mere piton? How about scuba diver who flirts in an environment with no oxygen, and man-eating sharks? Does God consider these potentially fatal activities as sin?

    How about eating food with too much sodium? Too much sugar? A poor diet will eventuall kill you – is that any more sinful than a sexually risky lifestyle?

    Is the nature of homosexuality itself an offense to God, or the risky lifestyle that may follow from that nature?

    I will not argue these points, since sin is not something I believe in anyway, but they are questions that I really wrestled with as a Christian and never was able to resolve.

  • 19. societyvs  |  October 17, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    I really enjoyed your interpretation of those passages about homosexuality – I have been looking to read something like that lately – thanks!

    I can’t find a single reason for Christian people’s to dis-like gay people and judge them – in fact – I find more reasons to include then to dis-associate with the gay community (as you mentioned the idea of ‘love your neighbor as yourself’). I wasn’t exactly sure where I stood in this for some time – but once I realized that in all reality I have no reason to dislike someone based on their sexual orientation – it all lined up (and for what it’s worth – I never really had a problem with gay people).

    HIS, I really liked your overall study of Torah-keeping Christianity and how this is found in certain gospels and letters – I think i agree with you on this. But what it also takes is a very good close look at what the law means to a Jewish person (which I am in the midst of finding out) – and matching that up with that Matthew quote. Maybe keeping the law is not all the bad? I can see the genuine goodness of having both – the gospel and the goodness of the Tanakh. I think you are onto something here Jim. Of the which – I am content with looking into deeper.

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  October 18, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Karen:

    But that’s not the same thing at all as condemning homosexuals to hell because of their orientation.

    Which I’m obviously not doing, since I don’t think there is a hell. :)

    The whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing fell apart for me

    I never get why people find this untenable. To put it in the context of something we all agree is bad, consider alcoholism. It’s a bad thing. We don’t like it. We don’t want anyone drinking themselves, and their paycheck, job, family, etc. into oblivion. We have programs to help people get clear of alcohol. We hate the “sin” of alcoholism because it is so often destructive, but we love the “sinner” as shown by our desire to help him/her become clean and sober and stay that way.
    (Note to all: I’m not equating homosexuality to alcoholism at all. I’m just using alcoholism as an example to show that we all “hate the sin and love the sinner” in the right context.)

    If you hate the fact that I am a homosexual, you hate me.”

    No. Alcoholism is believed to have a considerable inborn basis. Do I hate the person simply because I deplore alcoholism? Of course not.

    Why is this concept so hard to grasp? Hating a person and hating something they do, even if that something is genetically based, are NOT the same thing.

    I can’t imagine how Christians think that god expects homosexuals to practice lifelong celibacy, and thereby give up relationships, affection, emotional stability and all the other essentials we heteros take for granted.

    If one considers homosexuality to be wrong (as many folks do) then one would expect them to be celibate or to change.
    (Again, I’m not equating things. Just trying to use something we all agree on, to try to generate understanding of how some people view the world.)

    But once we realized that it’s somehow innate, that thinking becomes barbaric.

    If it’s innate, but harmful/bad/etc, then it’s not barbaric to want them to change or be celibate.

    I know there are Christians who hate homosexuals. There are also many Christians who love them and show it. They believe the orientation is harmful, so they try to help homosexuals deal with it, much the same as they would try to help alcoholics get, and stay, sober. Such actions are not hateful.

    As for those Christians who rail, with foaming mouths, against ‘homos’, ‘sodomites’, etc. and who seem to get a gleam in the eyes when they say, “You’ll burn in hell you sicko.”, such “christians” deserve all the disapprobation we can give them.

  • 21. LeoPardus  |  October 18, 2007 at 11:30 am

    HIS:

    Good questions. Since I don’t believe in a God/god, the term “sin” can only mean “bad” or “destructive” or something like that to me. As such I guess I have to assess any action, lifestyle, etc according to its relative merits/demerits, risks/benefits, and other such criteria. Over all I try to look at the balance sheet of any action to determine if it is “sinful”. It’s an imperfect and even somewhat subjective method. Hence i don’t come out easily with a list of “sinful” vs “non-sinful”.

    So, on theoretical/fun grounds, I could shove all the things you listed into categories. But then I’d have a hard time really making my case stick when someone comes along and says, “Scuba diving with sharks is bad.” …. Actually that one would be shoved into the category of “crazy” rather than “sinful”. :)

    Heck. You should hear all the crud I’ve caught over the years for doing martial arts. Conservative Christians, liberals, pacifists, knitters, …. everyone’s got some objection. My response: “Keep doing what you’re doing. I’m off to work out. See ya.”

  • 22. HeIsSailing  |  October 18, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    thus saith Leopardus:

    Heck. You should hear all the crud I’ve caught over the years for doing martial arts. Conservative Christians, liberals, pacifists, knitters, …. everyone’s got some objection. My response: “Keep doing what you’re doing. I’m off to work out. See ya

    No kidding? Well, I am not surprised – I guess.

    As a Christian, I had the same issue with smoking cigarettes. When Christians lambasted fellow Christians for smoking, they usually just had the snippet from 1Corinthians about the body being the temple of the holy spirit to back up their argument. Never mind that the passage was referring to sexual purity, but how many times have you heard something like, “You would not want to fill up the Temple of God with cigarette smoke, would you?”

    Wait a minute – not so fast. I think a couple of pork ribs from an Sunday afterservice potluck does just as much structural damage to God’s Temple, but I never heard too many Christians pull that conveniant verse out then. Go figure.

    LeoPardus:

    But then I’d have a hard time really making my case stick when someone comes along and says, “Scuba diving with sharks is bad.” …. Actually that one would be shoved into the category of “crazy” rather than “sinful”.

    I think many of the Proverbs makes this distinction. Perhaps there is a difference between sin and foolishness or being foolhardy (I can’t remember exactly how Proverbs puts it). This is where I would properly place something like a sexually promiscuous lifestyle.

  • 23. karen  |  October 18, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Leo, you keep saying that you’re not equating homosexuality to alcoholism, but then you continue to do exactly that in your examples. I think this is a fatal flaw in your arguments, and in your understanding of homosexuality.

    Alcoholism is not a neutral state of being. It is clearly a bad, destructive disease. By equating it with homosexuality, you are looking at homosexuality as if it is a disease, and inherently bad or harmful. It is not.

    The better comparison would be between homosexuality and heterosexuality, or between left-handedness (a minority orientation that was once demonized and feared) and right-handedness. I highly recommend Bruce Bawer’s “A Place at the Table” if you want more information on this point.

    As for love the sinner, hate the sin, let’s look at it this way. You are presumably a heterosexual. Now, let’s say you decided to become a Buddhist monk which entails a vow of chastity. For 20 years you are celibate. Are you then no longer a heterosexual? Of course not. You are simply not-practicing heterosexual acts. But you’d still identify as a heterosexual and presumably you’d still have heterosexual orientation, urges, attractions, etc.

    This is the same thing for a homosexual. Whether or not they are sexually active, they identify as a homosexual by nature. You can’t LOVE someone whose very nature is hateful and unacceptable to you, or maybe you can pretend to, but that’s offensive to most people. What I’m saying is that it’s just as impossible for a gay person to divorce that part of herself as it is for a straight person to do so. It’s more than actions, it’s an entire sexual orientation. And the last time I looked, our sexuality is a pretty big part of our psyche. Being gay is part of what makes my brother the person he is – whether he remains chaste or is sexually active. If you hate the fact that he ‘burns for other men,’ something outside of his control, then you hate him by definition.

    It’s also inaccurate to assume that all homosexuals are promiscuous or all homosexuals engage in harmful sexual practices. Male homosexuals are more likely to have multiple partners, I believe, but I know many gay people (male and female) in long-term, monogamous, committed relationships who are no more at risk medically than I am as a woman in a 25-year monogamous marriage. Lesbians actually have less chance of picking up sexually transmitted diseases than straight women do, in fact!

    Many straight people are promiscuous, visit prostitutes, have casual, unprotected encounters and combine sex with drugs, alcohol, or whatever. It’s not like homosexuals are the only group that’s at risk sexually – we all are, and that’s why education benefits all of us.

  • 24. LeoPardus  |  October 18, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    you keep saying that you’re not equating homosexuality to alcoholism, but then you continue to do exactly that in your examples.

    This is the sort of misunderstanding I feared and was trying to head off. I’m not equating. (Take my word for it please.) I’m using alcoholism only to talk about something that pretty well everyone sees as a something that cannot simply be “tolerated”. I’m NOT equating. if you insist on thinking that I am, there’s nothing I can do.

    you are looking at homosexuality as if it is a disease, and inherently bad or harmful. It is not.

    I try to keep view homosexuality exclusively as a biologist. So i try to see it in the context of immediate biological function and in the longer view of evolutionary imperatives. If anyone wants to convince me that homosexuality is good/bad/neutral, they need to do it in those contexts.

    And I admit that in some measure, seeing as most folks in this forum appear to be against the “anti-gay” position, I’m playing the advocate for the “other side”. Hopefully that makes all of us work to understand both our own viewpoint and that of others. And hopefully it challenges all of us to subject our views to harsh scrutiny. (See Tink’s manifesto.)

    More anon… work to do now.

  • 25. Slapdash  |  October 18, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    I’ve only skimmed the comments so forgive me if this is out of context.

    LeoPardus, you seem to be making a biological argument about the harmfulness of homosexuality based on the prevalence of STDs. Is that a fair summary of your view?

    If so, shouldn’t your argument be against the harmfulness of promiscuous behavior, and not against homosexuality as an orientation?

    Promiscuous heteros expose themselves to the same kinds of risks as promiscuous homosexuals… yet you are not making arguments against heterosexuality. So I don’t quite get it.

  • 26. LeoPardus  |  October 18, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Slapdash:
    you seem to be making a biological argument about the harmfulness of homosexuality based on the prevalence of STDs. Is that a fair summary of your view?

    No. It would only be a partial summary.

    shouldn’t your argument be against the harmfulness of promiscuous behavior

    It is. You may have missed that since, as you said, you’ve only skimmed so far.

    shouldn’t your argument be against the harmfulness of promiscuous behavior, and not against homosexuality as an orientation?

    Those are two rather different things. So they are mutually exclusive. And, as a point of clarification, I’m not arguing against homosexuality as an orientation. I’m arguing against the attitude of, “That’s just the way they are, do let’s all leave it lie.” I do not consider that to be even remotely honest, responsible, loving, fair, decent, or acceptable.

    Promiscuous heteros expose themselves to the same kinds of risks as promiscuous homosexuals… yet you are not making arguments against heterosexuality.

    Why would I argue against heterosexuality if the problem is promiscuity?

  • 27. LeoPardus  |  October 18, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Addendum to above post: Please insert a ‘not’ in the second sentence of the 6th paragraph. I.e. “So they are not mutually exclusive.”

  • 28. karen  |  October 18, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Leo, if you don’t mean to equate homosexuality to a disease, it’s best not to compare it to a disease. ;-) I’ve been in conversations with Christians (and I realize you’re not one) who compare homosexuality to things like murder or kidnapping and it’s a highly offensive and very off-base argument.

    In terms of “live and let live” – if they’re in consensual, adult relationships – why ever not? Sure, provide education about promiscuity and other health risks to everyone who needs it. But don’t single out gay people as if they’re exclusively at risk for medical problems from their sexuality. Even some straight people have (gasp!) anal sex, for goodness’ sakes. And not all gays do that either.

    I try to keep view homosexuality exclusively as a biologist. So i try to see it in the context of immediate biological function and in the longer view of evolutionary imperatives. If anyone wants to convince me that homosexuality is good/bad/neutral, they need to do it in those contexts.

    If you’re talking about biology, as I understand it there are a great many examples of homosexual orientation even amongst animals. So, while it’s a minority orientation – as is left-handedness – it’s not exclusive to homo sapiens.

    In terms of evolutionary imperatives, without today’s technology yes, homosexuals lack the ability to reproduce. But that argument is rather flaccid (heh) considering the human population doesn’t need padding at this point in time and we DO have the ability to do successful in vitro fertilizations with donor eggs and sperm, not to mention we have a surplus of children who could be adopted by loving couples of any orientation.

  • 29. LeoPardus  |  October 18, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    But don’t single out gay people as if they’re exclusively at risk for medical problems from their sexuality.

    Here is just one citation. I can provide more.
    Engels EA, et al. Risk factors for human herpesvirus 8 infection among adults in the United States and evidence for sexual transmission. J Infect Dis. 2007 Jul 15;196(2):199-207.
    “Among men, HHV-8 transmission may occur through sexual activity, particularly sex with other men. No evidence was observed for heterosexual transmission to women.”

    So you were saying…..

    Even some straight people have (gasp!) anal sex

    Yep. Assinine ain’t it? (Pun and misspelling intended.)

    But really, It’s just idiotic. Like you can’t figure out that’s a good way to get/pass disease?

    If you’re talking about biology, as I understand it there are a great many examples of homosexual orientation even amongst animals.

    Actually it’s pretty rare in the animal and insect kingdom. But yes, it does happen. So what’s your point?

    In terms of evolutionary imperatives, without today’s technology yes, homosexuals lack the ability to reproduce. But that argument is rather flaccid (heh) considering the human population doesn’t need padding at this point in time and we DO have the ability to do successful in vitro fertilizations with donor eggs and sperm,

    So the advent of a technology obviates evolutionary imperatives. Hmmm. Maybe. I’ll cogitate on that one.

  • 30. Thinking Ape  |  October 19, 2007 at 3:19 am

    I’m arguing against the attitude of, “That’s just the way they are, do let’s all leave it lie.”

    I thought we were talking about Christianity here?

    I don’t mean to put a damper on any discussion or debate, but Leopardus, I can’t figure out whether you are sticking to a “biological” argument or a “moral” or if there is something you are getting about the equation of the two.

    I obviously have no problem with a person loving someone of the same sex. I do have a problem with, and I think you agree with me, the issue of “tolerance.” I often use the term “intolerant,” but rarely ue “tolerant.” How much compassion can a person really have if they simply “tolerate” someone (which seems to be the case for the vast majority of “progressive/liberal” Christians – in my experience). Tolerance teeters on the edge of bigotry and offers little empathy or love.

    I occasionally like to play the devil’s advocate on many issues, but there is a serious danger on something like this. The majority of people that contribute to this site have been on the “other side.” We have given our arguments and, if we really cared, wracked our brains over how to love someone who we believe is blatantly disobeying God’s law. The danger, as you are probably well aware, is mainly political. Unfortunately there are camps on this issue with little common ground. And unfortunately, one camp has repeatedly and almost epidemically failed to limit their aggression to words. Advocation against what a person is and how they are on a systematic basis leads to hate which leads to violence.

    So does this mean we don’t talk about it? Of course not. It does mean, however, that we should not play games. I have followed the arguments and am left scratching my head. This argument has not been about promiscuous behaviour, it has been about the act of homosexuality. As I pointed out earlier, deviant behaviour breeds rapidly when a whole segment of society is pushed underground. Similar arguments can go for underage drinking, early (and usually unprotected) sexual activity, and way out of left field, religious activities (Waco, anyone?). No one is denying that promiscuity is usually an unhealthy and arguably unethical lifestyle choice. But unless you find something inherent about the homosexual “condition” that links homosexuality to promiscuity, what is this really about?

  • 31. Tuxedo Sam  |  October 19, 2007 at 3:50 am

    Great post, Heisaling. The concept of Homosexuality being a sin is among my problems with Chrisitanity. It is so sad (in a makes me cry kind of way) because I’ve witnessed in the past the nicest Christians suddenly turn nasty the moment the subject of homosexuality comes up. It’s like witnessing a room of people turning into the Incredible Hulk. It’s sickening.

  • 32. kip  |  October 19, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Would it be fair to say that many people are prejudiced against homosexuality, but Christians have the luxury of being able to throw around the name of God to mask their hatred?

  • 33. Slapdash  |  October 19, 2007 at 11:22 am

    TA: ” No one is denying that promiscuity is usually an unhealthy and arguably unethical lifestyle choice. But unless you find something inherent about the homosexual “condition” that links homosexuality to promiscuity, what is this really about?”

    This is the point I was trying to make earlier. It seems like LeoP is conflating promiscuity with homosexuality and condemning the latter because of it. So I was trying to point out that there is also promiscuity in the heterosexual population…and by the same logic he should also then condemn heterosexuality… except he’s not.

  • 34. LeoPardus  |  October 19, 2007 at 11:38 am

    TA:
    I was, like some others here, very against homosexuals. I still find it incomprehensible, both personally, and in terms of making any kind of biological sense. But, if two guys or girls want to live together and have a sexual relationship, fine. If they want to get on the same health insurance plan, fine (most companies allow domestic partners now).
    Happily I can say that as a Christian, I did not persist in hating or vilifying gays. If I thought what they did was wrong, but I was only going to change them by genuinely caring. If I hated anyone relative to the gay issue, it was other Christians who shuddered and sneered at gays, and clearly hated them. Rather ‘unChristlike’ I think.
    As a de-convert, I have to think through everything again. My main approach to re-thinking is as a scientist. And, like I said, biologically, homosexuality makes no sense.
    Anyway, I’m listening to what people say, trying to express my own thoughts, and trying to think carefully and honestly through the issues at hand. If that comes out hard to understand when you read it, that is probably because you’re getting a small window into my re-thinking process. And that is confounding enough even from inside my own head.

  • 35. LeoPardus  |  October 19, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Just a few specifics TA mentioned that I wanted to directly respond to:

    Tolerance teeters on the edge of bigotry and offers little empathy or love.

    Well said, and just what I was trying to say. Thank you.

    I occasionally like to play the devil’s advocate on many issues

    I need to have a business card identifying that as my profession.

    if we really cared, wracked our brains over how to love someone who we believe is blatantly disobeying God’s law.

    I always thought it meant doing what you could to help them however you could (not helping them ‘sin’ of course). For me that partly involved investing a part of my career in AIDS research. ……. I’m happy to note that our lab was a big part of working out the treatments that turned AIDS from a death sentence to a manageable disease. [Yes. I tooted my own horn there. It's one of my professional accomplishments that I'm extremely proud of.]

    And unfortunately, one camp has repeatedly and almost epidemically failed to limit their aggression to words.

    Which side are you speaking of? I’ve seen genuinely monstrous behavior on both sides. (The sides I think are homosexuals and conservative christians. Right?)

    But unless you find something inherent about the homosexual “condition” that links homosexuality to promiscuity, what is this really about?

    I don’t know if it leads to promiscuity inherently. For males though, it does usually lead to anal intercourse. That is very unhealthy.

    Nah. Don’t make laws against it. If people want to do things that are unhealthy, let them. Discourage them strongly, but in the end, they have to choose for themselves.

    Are there other things about the “homosexual condition” that are inherently unhealthy? Honestly I don’t know for sure. There’s data indicating poor psychological health, but, as you very rightly pointed out, that may be due more to societal shunning.

    At any rate, gays have their lives to live, like me. They are human beings, like me. They want care, help, understanding, and joy, like me. They are on a journey through life, like me. How I deal with them when I meet them is the only thing I’m ultimately concerned about. And for that I will continue as I have. Listening, helping if need be, and parting in peace.

  • 36. Anonymous  |  October 19, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Hi there,

    Very interesting read. The Biblical Covenant part was technical – I’m not good with all the theological stuff but it made sense.

    Anyway, I realised that Leo is a biologist so I would like to ask –
    isn’t it true that science has proven homosexuality is a biological in born thing? something to do with DNA? The same thing as transexual is really a woman trapped inside a man’s body?

    Even if it’s not proven that sexual orientation is due to DNA or some biological traits – it has not been conclusively proven otherwise right? So if possibly it’s a variation in our genes or whatever biological stuff that causes homosexuality – why wouldn’t that make sense biologically? Do you think that it’s a biological anomaly that requires help in correcting because same sex does not have the biological function to pro-create and thus maintain the evolution of humanity?

    I read somewhere the Association of Psychologist of America agrees that homosexuality is an in born trait and thus they do not agree with Focus with Family’s de-conversion of homosexuals to heterosexuals.

    Perhaps as a biologist you view sex as an important part in pro-creation and the evolution of humanity – but isn’t it an equally important function of sex as an expression of love, joy and giving of pleasure to the one you love?

    On a side note,
    Makes me wonder if it’s something to do with DNA, perhaps 50 years down the road science will be able to determine the sexual orientation of a foetus and make some changes to it… and hey presto everyone will be red-blooded heterosexuals like HIS. :) Is it possible Leo? from a biological standpoint I mean.

  • 37. angel&devil  |  October 19, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    sorry for being rude – post 35 turned out anonymous cos I forgot to put my name.

  • 38. Thinking Ape  |  October 19, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Leopardus,

    As a de-convert, I have to think through everything again. My main approach to re-thinking is as a scientist. And, like I said, biologically, homosexuality makes no sense.

    Apart from the genetic aspect of it, I know where you are getting at, but what does it matter? Does everything we do make biological sense? And does evolutionary necessity equate to “biological sense”? I’m just wondering because there are many things I do throughout the day that don’t make “biological sense.” I can, however, as a confident heterosexual man see a psychological basis for homosexuality, which could easily be linked to biology – I’m not a scientist, but it doesn’t take too many issues of New Scientist and Discovery to figure out this is where a lot of research is dedicated.

    I always thought it meant doing what you could to help them however you could (not helping them ’sin’ of course).

    Of course, but how WE want to help doesn’t always help, does it? I was speaking in the past tense about how I, as an evangelical Christian, feel that we should love – I was trying to exclude the certain fundamentalist hatemongers from what I was going to say.

    Which side are you speaking of? I’ve seen genuinely monstrous behavior on both sides. (The sides I think are homosexuals and conservative christians. Right?)

    Are you saying you believe the ratio of physical violence of heterosexuals against homosexuals is equal to that of homosexuals against heterosexuals?

    I don’t know if it leads to promiscuity inherently. For males though, it does usually lead to anal intercourse. That is very unhealthy.

    And oral sex cause cancer of the mouth. So I’ve heard. Again, I’m not seeing much different between heteros and homos here. Both commit on a regular basis unheathy sexual acts. Anal sex is only relatively unhealthy compared to vaginal sex and oral sex, yet all are at moderate to high risk for disease – what does this mean to the scientific philosopher? Do we only accept vaginal sex because it is required for sexual reproduction (and hence makes “biological sense”)? Which further begs the ethical question – can we make ethics based on a naturalist philosophy?

    If people want to do things that are unhealthy, let them. Discourage them strongly, but in the end, they have to choose for themselves.

    Or encourage people of all sexual persuasions to act safely rather than taking such education out of our schools or from boycotting advocates against intolerance against the gay community. This is, of course, assuming that homosexuality is completely about sex – just as being a heterosexual is only about sex.

  • 39. LeoPardus  |  October 19, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    TA:

    there are many things I do throughout the day that don’t make “biological sense.”

    TOUCHÉ! :D

    Are you saying you believe the ratio of physical violence of heterosexuals against homosexuals is equal to that of homosexuals against heterosexuals?

    Nope. I don’t have any numbers on it. But I trust you’re aware of some pretty atrocious behaviors by gay groups. I think there’s blame and fault enough to go around.

    And oral sex cause cancer of the mouth.

    Nope. It’s not a risk for any cancer. Don’t know where you heard it, but it was incorrect.

    Anal sex is only relatively unhealthy compared to vaginal sex and oral sex, yet all are at moderate to high risk for disease

    Relatively, yes. But what is the actual risk ratio? All are not moderately high risk for disease.
    If heteros remain monogamous and only engage in vaginal sex, the risk for sex-related disease is very small, with a slight increase later in life.
    Oral sex does convey some increase in risk. The degree depends on what other practices may accompany it.
    Anal sex comes with a very high incidence of disease. No matter who does it. Just think about it. The flora of the lower colon are bad news if they get anywhere else in the body.

    can we make ethics based on a naturalist philosophy?

    The very question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I can’t really see any other basis to build on though. Nature, this world, our current existence, and whatever history we know, is all we really have to build with.

  • 40. LeoPardus  |  October 19, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    isn’t it true that science has proven homosexuality is a biological in born thing? something to do with DNA?

    The deep, dark secret of behavioral genetics is that no behavior has been linked to a genetic origin. Not one. Never. A couple years ago Science magazine dedicated most of an issue to behavioral genetics. The lead article blurted out this deep secret. Almost spoiled the whole game. :(

    it has not been conclusively proven otherwise right?

    It would be very hard to do that.

    So if possibly it’s a variation in our genes or whatever biological stuff that causes homosexuality – why wouldn’t that make sense biologically?

    There are lots of things in our genes that don’t make sense, or are just bad. Birth defects for example. Or cancer as another.

    I read somewhere the Association of Psychologist of America agrees that homosexuality is an in born trait and thus they do not agree with Focus with Family’s de-conversion of homosexuals to heterosexuals.

    There is debate in the APA. As for therapy that “converts” homosexuals. I don’t know what the success rate is, or even how they define success, but if they can do it, power to them. I’ve know a few homosexuals who were very unhappy as they were. And others who were happy. For the former such therapy may be a great thing. The latter wouldn’t need it.

    isn’t it an equally important function of sex as an expression of love, joy and giving of pleasure to the one you love?

    Maybe those things are just psycho-hormonal sequelae to encourage reproduction.

    perhaps 50 years down the road science will be able to determine the sexual orientation of a foetus and make some changes to it… and hey presto everyone will be red-blooded heterosexuals like HIS. Is it possible Leo? from a biological standpoint I mean.

    First we’d need to know what to look for. Then we’d need to change it in every cell of the body.
    We can make changes in single cells (like bacteria) fairly easily. But nobody has even come close to finding a way to do it in multicellular organisms.
    I don’t like to say anything is impossible. But this side of Star Trek transporter technology I can’t begin to imagine how we’d do it.

  • 41. karen  |  October 19, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Leo P., I believe there have been studies showing that in utero exposure to various hormones, or lack of exposure, is positively correlated to later development of sexual orientation.

    I’ve also read studies being done on how certain structures in the brain are larger or small, again being correlated to adult development of homosexual orientation.

    Sorry I don’t have cites or details, but there have been twin studies and other glimmers that show a biological causation, or at least a biological tendency toward development of homosexual orientation.

    What’s the most telling, for me, is to turn things around. Did you choose to be heterosexual? Or did you just become attracted to the opposite sex at some point in childhood? We don’t choose our orientation any more than gay people do. So there’s something inherent going on.

    I think many heterosexuals have a natural repulsion toward homosexuality, probably because evolutionarily speaking – as you pointed out – it is counterproductive to furthering the species. A lot of Christians I know take that “icky” feeling about homosexuals and extend it to god, so that they can justify their prejudice. I just don’t see how that prejudice makes any sense in today’s world, where we’re not exactly fighting to keep the population going.

    Now, if there were a future holocaust, and a small number of homo sapiens was left on earth and reproduction again became very crucial for the furtherance of our species, yes I can see where homosexuality would again become very, very undesirable. (You may be able to tell I’m a Battlestar Galactica fan.) But there’s not much reason for it in this day and age.

  • 42. LeoPardus  |  October 19, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    I believe there have been studies showing that in utero exposure to various hormones, or lack of exposure, is positively correlated to later development of sexual orientation.

    I’ve also read studies being done on how certain structures in the brain are larger or small, again being correlated to adult development of homosexual orientation.

    I’ve seen only a little on the former. It seems solid, but I’m just not up on the literature there. –Damn finiteness–

    The latter turned out to be unsupportable. It all came from one group, and when others tried to duplicate the research, they came up with discordant results.

    Sorry I don’t have cites or details

    I dig that kind of stuff up for a living. No need to apologize.

    but there have been twin studies and other glimmers that show a biological causation, or at least a biological tendency toward development of homosexual orientation.

    Yep. That’s one reason why it’s believed to be inborn and perhaps genetic.

    A lot of Christians I know take that “icky” feeling about homosexuals and extend it to god, so that they can justify their prejudice.

    That’s really simple, but somehow I wasn’t thinking about that angle. Thanks.

  • 43. Thinking Ape  |  October 19, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Leopardus,

    Nope. I don’t have any numbers on it. But I trust you’re aware of some pretty atrocious behaviors by gay groups.

    Atrocity is a pretty big word, but due to human nature and can definitely see that many homosexuals might have psychological issues. Like heterosexuality, I doubt this has anything to do with sexual preference and more to do with one’s social position and environment (I would be interested, however, on an impossible study of violent “closet” versus violent “open” homosexuals). However, one doesn’t have to walk farther than their local high school to see that being an “outed” homosexual is not only social suicide, but downright dangerous.

    Nope. [Oral sex is] not a risk for any cancer. Don’t know where you heard it, but it was incorrect.

    http://www.medindia.net/news/view_news_main.asp?x=5822 . Not that its important.

    But what is the actual risk ratio? All are not moderately high risk for disease.

    I’m definitely agreeing that anal sex has a high risk ratio. This is something that most consensual heterosexual and homosexual participants are aware of (!! I HOPE !!).

    I can’t really see any other basis [than a naturalist philosophy] to build on though. Nature, this world, our current existence, and whatever history we know, is all we really have to build with.

    Would this then mean that what is “natural” or “most natural” is to be considered “ethical”?

  • 44. samanthamj  |  October 19, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Great post and comments. Thanks.
    I recently had a big debate on this topic with a Christian friend of mine. She used information from the bible, and also from “James Dobson”, and “Focus on the Family” as her the basis for most of her anti-gay beliefs. ( http://savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/09/23/ive-been-on-a-mission-not-from-god/ )

    I might have to email her a link to this thread… Although, there’s a part of me that knows it probably won’t do any good…
    =)
    ~smj

  • 45. angel&devil  |  October 19, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    Leo,

    isn’t it an equally important function of sex as an expression of love, joy and giving of pleasure to the one you love?

    Maybe those things are just psycho-hormonal sequelae to encourage reproduction.

    can we make ethics based on a naturalist philosophy?
    The very question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I can’t really see any other basis to build on though. Nature, this world, our current existence, and whatever history we know, is all we really have to build with.

    (sigh) correct me if I’m wrong but based on your responses so far, you seem to anchor your beliefs in life solely on biology. If you’re saying that biological function in our everyday life is the utmost important thing and other functions such as emotional, spiritual and ethics growth are secondary, or that these things find their basis in biology / nature alone, then it renders any discussion with you practically hard because your perception of everything in life is based solely on only 1 viewpoint.

    nevertheless it has been a good experience reading your comments. may you find peace and happiness.

  • 46. LeoPardus  |  October 20, 2007 at 12:32 am

    TA:
    Snagged the research paper mentioned. Snagged one or two others. One paper actually reported an 4.3 times increased risk of oral cancer associated with oral sex. But.. another reported a reduced risk. Take home message. –According to scientific research, you may have an increased or decreased risk of oral cancers if you practice oral sex.– IMO that all just blows. :)

    Would this then mean that what is “natural” or “most natural” is to be considered “ethical”?

    No idea. I’m still working at it. Frankly I doubt I’ll get much past, “Do to others as you’d have them do to you.” Covers most things, and what it may not cover, I’ll cover with smile and an offer of beer.

  • 47. LeoPardus  |  October 20, 2007 at 12:39 am

    angel&devil:

    I think the closest classification for my efforts of ethics is “existentialism”. As for science; it’s one tool I use. It doesn’t cover everything. I can force it to if I try though. But in so doing I have to play Dawkin’s advocate. Not a role I’m really happy in.

    But what tools does one use to build morality without anything transcendent?

  • 48. HeIsSailing  |  October 20, 2007 at 11:28 am

    samanthamj,
    Glad you enjoyed the article. It took me forever to write, so I am glad you were able to get something out of it. Go ahead and forward the link to your friend, heck copy and paste the whole article in the email and send it to your friend. It willl not convince a follower of Dobson, but at least it is a bee in the bonnet, that there is more than one way to look at these issues, and there are good reasons that come straight from the Bible that Christians follow.

  • 49. Jim Jordan  |  October 23, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Hi HIS
    This was a very good post on homosexuality in the Bible. It’s very important that those who teach on this do their homework as you did.

    I gave the Bible lesson on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen-19) a few years ago. The reason why the sin was so prevalent in these towns that only 4 people were saved was not homosexuality. They were destroyed because the people had become totally corrupt and perverse. There was no respect for other people, not even their own children. The men of the town showed in their demand to have sex with the angels that they didn’t care about other people beyond the pleasure they could get from them. From the Scripture you can sense the saturation of sexual obsession among the townspeople. There simply was no regard for the personhood of another.

    Gen 19 teaches us how sexual obsession is a sickness of the soul – its a great lesson for today. That obsession could be hetero or homosexual. The fact that Lot’s two daughters were virgins was the one ray of righteousness that Lot had been able to hold onto.

    One point I do not endorse is the leap that many homosexuals make that homosexuality is God-ordained. Like you, I never thought of condemning homosexuals (I’d lose a number of friends for one) but I never thought of homosexuality as an integral part of the homosexual’s soul just as being a man who is attracted to women does not define me.

    Why should homosexuality define the homosexual, to where their theology and faith is subservient to it? This pervasive response from homosexuals, that their sexuality must be blessed in order for them to accept Christ, presents itself, by its own definition, as a point of separation from God. In that sense, even the homosexual would have to admit that their homosexuality is sin. Anything that we put between ourselves and God, cutting us off from Him, is sin.

    Sex is not part of how we define ourselves if we are Christians. I rejoice in God alone. God is better than any sex could ever be.

    I applaud your research. The two commands of Jesus, “Love God/ Love your neighbor” are what we should always focus on, as you said. It seems to me that you are not an agnostic, but someone who desires a more honest walk with God. Take care.

  • 50. HeIsSailing  |  October 25, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Jim Jordan:

    Why should homosexuality define the homosexual, to where their theology and faith is subservient to it? This pervasive response from homosexuals, that their sexuality must be blessed in order for them to accept Christ, presents itself, by its own definition, as a point of separation from God.

    Hi Jim. Glad you enjoyed the articlce. I just now saw your reply a few days late so I hope you are reading this. Can you explain this bit from you that I pasted onto this reply? I must confess that I do not know how gays approach Christianity, so I am a little confused when you say that they feel their homosexuality must be ‘blessed’. I am not sure what you mean by that – can you elaborate?

    Anyone else with some insight can chime in here too.

  • 51. karen  |  October 25, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Sex is not part of how we define ourselves if we are Christians. I rejoice in God alone. God is better than any sex could ever be.

    Well, I won’t get into disputing that last statement ;-) but I find it odd to imagine that your sexuality is not part of how you define yourself, or how any Christian defines him/her self.

    Is your spirituality so totally divorced from your physicality that you don’t even relate to it as part of your self-definition? I find that rather amazing, considering how central the sexual impulse is for most people.

    This kind of ties in to that long-pondered post about sex and the fundy that I have been long-pondering… :-)

  • 52. Jim  |  October 31, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Hi HIS
    Why should homosexuality define the homosexual, to where their theology and faith is subservient to it? I don’t find that a confusing point. Two POV I hear rom gays are: The Bible either is errant on the point of homosexuality or it is no longer considered a sin. Either way, one’s view of God’s Word is compromised (generally before they even have a good understanding of it)…and for what? To hold onto something that you can’t keep anyway?

    Karen, I was not saying that we must divorce ourselves from our sexuality completely, but keep it in its place. It mustn’t get between our relationship with God. How central can your sexuality be anyway?

  • 53. Al Lovejoy  |  November 1, 2007 at 9:36 am

    Let me toss in my ten cent exegesis. A woman was dragged in front of Christ by a gang of priests, probably starkers for more impact and accused of being caught in the act of adultery. He ignored them, wrote something in the sand (In my theory – He wrote I love you) – then turned to them and said: “whoever among you is without [this] sin, cast the first stone…”

    Jesus Christ is whose opinion matters. First and Last. And if Paul and Moses didn’t like it for whatever reasons – toughies.

    The sin of sodomy is recorded twice in the Bible and both times it was GANG RAPE – once fatally and genocide was committed on Benjamin.

    Christ said there are eunuchs born like that, eunuchs made by the hands of men and some who are eunuchs by choice. Deal with it.

    Someone else’s sex drive is not holier or filthier than your own – and nobody has the right to search scripture to point out other people’s perceived sin.

    A public gang rape / orgy and two people who love each other are not the same thing.

    Jesus loved gays, prostitutes, drunks, all manner of weird and wonderful sinners and the hypocrites in the Priesthood hated Him too.

    Jesus Christ said if you can accept it then

  • 54. karen  |  November 1, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    How central can your sexuality be anyway?

    Well, if you accept that our highest biological imperative is to reproduce, I’d say an individual’s sexuality is pretty central to his/her existence.

  • 55. Jim  |  November 2, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Al said Jesus loved gays, prostitutes, drunks, all manner of weird and wonderful sinners and the hypocrites in the Priesthood hated Him too.

    Did Jesus not love the “hypocrites in the Priesthood”, too? Are you inferring that Jesus hated the priesthood, bt loved eeveryone else?
    He also told the adulteress, “go and sin no more”.

    Al said Someone else’s sex drive is not holier or filthier than your own

    Where did I say that?

    Karen
    Planning on having babies in Heaven? Reproduction is imperative for us to continue as a species. It is not a spiritual imperative at all.

  • 56. karen  |  November 2, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Jim, I look at the world with the physical information and natural evidence I’m given. I don’t have anything else to work with as an atheist. I’m afraid that “heaven” is a concept that requires belief in the supernatural, which I no longer hold.

    So when I talk about the biological imperative and the centrality of our sexuality, I’m talking about what we know and what science and history tell us. Fantasies about another life, where we have no bodies, do not reproduce and live forever in a “spiritual” state don’t have any meaning for me, I’m afraid.

  • 57. Jim Jordan  |  November 5, 2007 at 12:48 am

    Karen said I don’t have anything else to work with as an atheist.

    At least you’re honest! :-)

  • 58. Al Lovejoy  |  November 6, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    I never said that Christ hated the hypocrites in the prisethood. Don’t misquote me. I said they hated Him. The last words He uttered on the Cross was: Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing – so no, I would never have said that.

    Jesus loves Christian homosexual hating hypocrites just as much as He loves Christian homosexuals. And it is a very stupid thing to think you have any clue as to what the Spirit is doing in someone else’s life – He’s here to guide you in your own.

    Have you gone and done this sin no more…?

  • 59. Al Lovejoy  |  November 6, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    Pray for all your brothers and sisters in Christ and love them – without them, and all their defects – like your own – you would be alone and nothing.

    Love your brother whom you can see.

  • 60. Al Lovejoy  |  November 6, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Let Scripture guide YOU in YOUR walk. God is big enough to love your brother – join Him…

  • 61. Homosexuality and Broken Families  |  December 18, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    [...] I could argue from values such as compassion, which is what Jesus taught. I could point you at Another Look at Homosexuality and Christianity, on de-conversion.com, a site for people driven to apostasy by the wrongs committed and silliness [...]

  • 62. B.W.  |  January 31, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    The Word (Jesus) was made flesh and dwelt among us…The Word (Jesus), in the OT, already stated God’s position regarding the subject of homosexuality. The Jewish community was well versed on what God taught regarding the subject and knew it was forbidden.

    Jesus never said anything specifically about homosexuality nor does the Bible reveal the subject was ever brought up to Him. He did say this however in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Though it’s not spelled out, sexual immorality is clearly defined in Leviticus 18 and homosexuality is mentioned there.

    Christ referred to it in this way when He gave His twelve disciples their mission:

    “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
    Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” Matt 10:14,15

    What where Sodom & Gomorrha judged for? Homosexuality….hence the term ‘sodomy’.

    When Paul was sent by Christ to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, that’s when the subject starts to show up again (Romans 1:24-32; Corinthians 6:9-10, etc.).

  • 63. Al Lovejoy  |  April 15, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    No they were not, Sodom and Gomorrah and much later, the tribe of Benjamin – were judged and nearly utterly destroyed for the crime of attempted gang rape of a man and in Benjamin’s case – the murder of a woman through GANG RAPE.

    Out of the heart comes false testimony you quoted B.W. – don’t do that, not when you don’t even know how to interpret literature simply…

    Be very careful of all those people you don’t want to be in heaven with – God, in his grace – might grant your wish if you so persist…

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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