Tony Campolo changes positions on gay sexual activity

TonyCampoloTony Campolo is a popular author and speaker in the evangelical churches, representing a leftwing perspective while attempting to honor scriptural authority. For many years now, he has famously taught that Christians may not, consistent with the scriptures, engage in homosexual activity. His wife has long taught to the contrary.

Today, Campolo issued a statement declaring that he has changed his position and now considers gay marriage, and homosexual activity within gay marriage, acceptable for Christians. You should read the entire statement, not just the portions that I quote.

For me, the most important part of that process was answering a more fundamental question: What is the point of marriage in the first place? For some Christians, in a tradition that traces back to St. Augustine, the sole purpose of marriage is procreation, which obviously negates the legitimacy of same-sex unions. Others of us, however, recognize a more spiritual dimension of marriage, which is of supreme importance. We believe that God intends married partners to help actualize in each other the “fruits of the spirit,” which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, often citing the Apostle Paul’s comparison of marriage to Christ’s sanctifying relationship with the Church. This doesn’t mean that unmarried people cannot achieve the highest levels of spiritual actualization – our Savior himself was single, after all – but only that the institution of marriage should always be primarily about spiritual growth.

ronsiderCampolo cites Ron Sider, another popular author and speaker from the evangelical left, as an example of Christians who disagree with Campolo’s new position despite being Christians of good will (and unimpeachable leftwing credentials).

Rest assured that I have already heard – and in some cases made – every kind of biblical argument against gay marriage, including those of Dr. Ronald Sider, my esteemed friend and colleague at Eastern University. Obviously, people of good will can and do read the scriptures very differently when it comes to controversial issues, and I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about this one.

Sider wrote a recent article in Christianity Today explaining his views on gay marriage for Christians.

The primary biblical case against homosexual practice is not the few texts that explicitly mention it. Rather, it is the fact that again and again the Bible affirms the goodness and beauty of sexual intercourse—and everywhere, without exception, the norm is sexual intercourse between a man and a woman committed to each other for life. Although this is familiar ground, and less and less contested even by those who advocate for a revision of Christian ethics, it is important to state just how strongly and consistently the Bible speaks to the goodness of marriage between a man and a woman, and equally consistently to the immorality of sexual acts (heterosexual and homosexual) that do not honor that bond.

Sider anticipates and counters every argument made by Campolo. The fact is that Sider builds his case on scripture — and shows an awareness of and deep respect for the scriptural teachings on the subject.

Campolo, on the other hand, struggles to find a place to land — ultimately choosing a truly novel argument: Christians can best be spiritually actualized in terms of the fruit of the Spirit only in marriage — even though Jesus and Paul and countless other early (and modern) Christians demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit without marriage and both Jesus and Paul taught the benefits of celibacy in living the Christian life.

So it’s an obviously self-contradictory argument, and the double use of “actualize” sounds more like Maslow than Paul. It’s just a very odd argument coming from someone as well-studied in the scriptures as Campolo.

I doubt that anyone will be surprised that Campolo has taken this position. He’s seemed uncomfortable defending the conservative position for quite some time now. Frankly, if anyone was going to come up with a persuasive case in favor of Christian gay marriage, it would have been Campolo, and he’s not come close. In fact, I find Sider’s arguments far more true to the scriptures as I lay them out in contrast to Campolo’s.

Hopefully, the church will respond, not by following personalities, but by prayerfully searching the scriptures. Indeed, Campolo and Sider present us with an excellent opportunity to reflect anew on just what the Bible says for today on a difficult subject.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
This entry was posted in Homosexuality, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to Tony Campolo changes positions on gay sexual activity

  1. John F says:

    Perhaps Sider’s most cogent comment:

    Surely, we can ask the Holy Spirit to show us how to teach and nurture biblical sexual practice without ignoring, marginalizing, and driving away from Christ those who struggle with biblical norms.

    Our evangelical churches should be widely known as places where people with a gay orientation can be open about their orientation and feel truly welcomed and embraced. Of course, Christians who engage in unbiblical sexual practices (whether heterosexual or gay Christians) should be discipled (and disciplined) by the church and not allowed to be leaders or members in good standing if they persist in their sin. (The same should be said for those who engage in unbiblical practices of any kind, including greed and racism.) However, Christians who openly acknowledge a gay orientation but commit themselves to celibacy should be eligible for any role in the church that their spiritual gifts

  2. John F says:

    Compolo: “Because of my open concern for social justice….”
    “As a social scientist, I have concluded that sexual orientation is almost never a choice….”

    IMHO it is this mistaken application of social justice that leads Compolo to his statements.

    When we substitute “social justice” for “conversion to the kingdom” this is where we end up.

    We can appreciate Sider’s Biblical stance, even if we cannot agree with everything.he would otherwise conclude.

  3. Gary says:

    Jay, practically speaking, doesn’t Sider’s reasoning lead to the conclusion that even gay men and women should enter into heterosexual marriages? I honestly believe that would have been ok with Paul. No one in all the Bible was ever commanded to go through life celibate and without a life companion as is envisioned in Genesis 2. For conservatives that leaves gays with the only other option being trying to make heterosexual marriage work even though it goes against their nature. I believe that this is a fatal flaw of the traditional opposition to gay marriage. Jay, your silence on the wisdom of mixed gay-straight marriages is conspicuous. I suspect you are in favor of it. If you’re not this is your opportunity to set the record straight. Everything in my life experience tells me that mixed gay-straight marriages are cruel sooner or later for all concerned. But I also base my support for marriage equality on my understanding of Scripture which I have shared here a number of times. The bottom line is that God did not create us for celibacy and mixed gay-straight marriages are not a realistic option. Some highly committed Christians can make them work for awhile, maybe even for many years, but I know that it never gets easier. It only gets harder with age. It’s like trying to hold your breath forever. Chances are, everything will fall apart sooner or later. God does not expect the impossible of us. But conservative theology does when it comes to gays just as it did only a few decades ago with the divorced and remarried.

  4. Larry Cheek says:

    Men can and will attempt to adjust the Words of God to justify the lives of men around them. But, their words are not the judge, and will not alter the judge’s verdict. Did God really write his Words so confusingly. If he did then he must be responsible for a lack of understanding how man reasons.

  5. Dwight says:

    If a gay man or woman enters into a heterosexual marriage, they are not gay, at least not biblbically. Homosexuality is defined in the scriptures as an act, like adultyer, bestiality, not a state of being. But let’s say a person has a desire to kill others, a strong desire, but he doesn’t. Does he defy his natural desire and should he kill others to fulfill that desire, otherwise he is lying to himself? Even one who believes in homosexuality doesn’t believe this. So it comes down to what Paul constantly talks about: self control and mastery of self. And so Matt. 5 is really misunderstood. It says, “looks after a woman has committed adultery in his heart.” Now men have a natural desire to have sex, but when a man takes this and acts even in seeing and visualizing, he has committed it in his heart, but he has not committed in actuality. He must change or guard his heart to keep from acting it out, so this implies that a man can change his heart and control his desire and redirect it. Judging by how many men and women commit adultery it isn’t easy, but doable. I agree Larry, God is not vague and was very clear in the sin of this in the OT and NT.

  6. Monty says:

    I suspect we’ll see more and more high profile Christian leaders turn in favor of gay “activity” (we even try to soften the sound of it- like when teens became “promiscuous”-adultery became “affairs”- Ha!). After all, it’s hard to be relevant with the emerging “in crowd” and oppose what they view as normal. Acceptance almost always requires you to give up something. Opposing gay activity immediately makes you irrelevant in todays culture among the free thinkers.

  7. rich constant says:

    jUst another example of the tail wagging the dog.
    really don’t think the Lord likes it in cases where it is Xexplicitly hi handedly EVIL and becomes one of the many reasons for the flood, and God’s righteous decree that is spoken of in Romans Ch1:19 thru 27.

  8. Alabama John says:

    He changed from his belief about gays to the belief of his wife.

    I’ll wager it was either that or at home live the life of a celibate gay.

  9. Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    Before Jesus, the rabbis taught that it was a sin not to marry — that is, enter into a heterosexual marriage. To do otherwise would violate God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. Some allowed an exception for those dedicated to Torah study. The question of heterosexual marriage for homosexual Jews was not directly addressed, to my knowledge. It seems likely that the rabbis would have insisted on heterosexual marriages by homosexuals.

    But Jesus did not agree with the rabbis. He taught —

    (Mat 19:11-12 ESV) 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

    Commentators of all stripes and ages take “Made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” to refer to celibacy. One reason is that Jesus speaks in the past tense, and he chose the path of celibacy himself. Perhaps some of his disciples had made the same decision.

    Paul wrote,

    (1Co 7:32-35 ESV) I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

    And so, both Jesus and Paul broke from rabbinic teaching to permit — even encourage — celibacy but without making celibacy mandatory or looking down on married Christians.

    (1Co 7:6-7 ESV) 6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

    And so I see nothing in scripture that urges gay people to marry straight people in a heterosexual marriage.

    On the other hand, I agree with Sider that the scriptures speak very highly of heterosexual marriage, from Gen 2, to the Song of Solomon, to the biblical metaphor of God marrying Israel and Jesus marrying the church (Paul would consider these the same thing, I think).

    (Pro 18:22 ESV) 22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.

    (Heb 13:4 ESV) 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

    (1Ti 4:1-3 ESV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

    The legalistic mind insists that we must pick one and demand it. But the scriptures plainly lay out two paths — heterosexual marriage and celibacy, and both are honored in the scriptures and should be honored in the church. And whichever choice one makes, he or she should make it for the sake of the Kingdom. We were bought with a price. We are not our own.

  10. Gary says:

    Jay, we agree that celibacy is optional for Christians. Without going into details on eunuchs Jesus is explicit that his teaching on that subject is only for those who can receive it. Paul famously writes in 1 Corinthians 7 that it is better to marry than to burn. Neither Paul nor Jesus provide any support to requiring celibacy of anyone. Conservatives pick and choose the issues and interpretations of Scripture that fit their agenda and ignore the rest. For example, when I was an adolescent 1 Corinthians 11:14,15 was often quoted by CoC preachers who emphasized that long hair on men was shameful and contrary to nature. I haven’t come across that now since the 70’s. Even the staunchly anti-gay marriage Robertson men of Duck Dynasty fame have long hair. How is it that what Paul considers shameful and unnatural in 1 Corinthians 11 is irrelevant in 2015 but what conservatives believe Paul teaches is shameful and unnatural in Romans 1 is binding for all time to the point of requiring celibacy of millions of people as a condition of Christian fellowship? The best option for Churches of Christ today regarding gay marriage is the counsel of Foy Wallace, Jr. in the mid-twentieth century regarding the divorced and remarried. He believed that teachers and preachers should stand by their convictions on the subject but without making it a matter of church discipline or a test of Christian fellowship. Wallace wrote that some situations can only be rightly evaluated by God. Church of Christ conservatives on gay marriage should at least suspend judgment on gays, agree to disagree within Christian fellowship and leave the judging to God- where it is anyway.

  11. John F says:

    Gary: Conservatives pick and choose the issues and interpretations of Scripture that fit their agenda and ignore the rest.”

    Just change one word: Liberals pick and choose the issues and interpretations of Scripture that fit their agenda and ignore the rest.”

    I don’t think this moves the conversation forward. As has been pointed out: never in scripture is homosexual behavior endorsed, only condemned. The analogy to divorce and remarriage is NOT the same; scripture does allow divorce (we can disagree on the validity and status, but we are discussing something scripture DOES recognize, not something scripture universally disallows.

  12. Gary says:

    John, for centuries there was unanimity among Christians that remarriage was allowed to divorced Christians only in cases of adultery. You take a different position now as do most of the followers of this blog. A new way of interpreting and understanding the relevant passages of Scripture gained prominence only in the last half century and now is the norm among American Christians. In the same way a new way of interpreting and understanding Scripture on homosexuality is now becoming prominent and is well on its way to becoming the norm in American Christianity. The analogy between divorce and remarriage and gay marriage is obvious to all who have not purposely closed their eyes to it. I agree that liberals can be subjective with Scripture as much as conservatives. But in this case it is conservatives who are making their views on homosexuality a test of fellowship and trying to bind celibacy on gay Christians. I think it is only fair to point out conservative inconsistencies. By the way, do you believe long hair on men today is shameful and unnatural? If not, how do you explain away 1 Corinthians 11:14,15?

  13. John F says:

    GARY: stay ob the point of homosexuality from a Biblical standpoint. Find a single verse of affirmation. Divorce and remarriage is / has been discussed elsewhere. An supposed inconsistency in application in one area does not lend credence to another area. One discussion (divorce) is within the realm of a permitted relationship; homosexual behavior in not in the same category.

    BTW, you do not know my views on divorce and remarriage; please do not presume.

  14. Steven says:

    Gary is absolutely right that we ought only allow for divorce in cases of adultery. That is what Jesus said. Anyone who is looser on divorce but then wants to be strict on gay marriage is an obvious hypocrite who picks and chooses based on what makes them more uncomfortable.

    Gary, however, they’re right that you need to be able to defend your view on homosexual acts based on what the scriptures actually say about the subject. Not “but it doesn’t say this” or “but conservatives are inconsistent on that”.

  15. Larry Cheek says:

    Steven and Gary,
    While looking at this statement, “Gary is absolutely right that we ought only allow for divorce in cases of adultery”, is it really our responsibility to “allow for divorce”? Was that Jesus’s instructions to his followers to administer judgement upon this sin? Where in scripture can you find a divorce which really was not a divorce? If the divorce was not valid when obtained for the wrong reason, then marrying someone else did not create adultery, it created multiple wives, exactly like many of the OT characters.
    The scriptures state that God hates divorce. But, men claim a divorce cannot be valid unless it is performed for the reason of adultery. Where do you find God not hating divorce even when adultery has been committed? God’s people committed adultery many time against him yet he never divorced them. Have we created rules which are not in scripture?

  16. Steven says:

    I’m sorry. I did not mean that we should be in God’s place in the final judgement. I only meant that we should agree with and follow Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 19:9 “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

  17. Gary says:

    I firmly believe that Genesis 2:18 authorizes any marriage, heterosexual or homosexual, in which the two people who marry are suitable or appropriate for each other as stated there. This principle is prior to heterosexual marriage. If Adam had had no sexual attraction towards Eve then Eve could not have been a suitable, appropriate or “meet” (KJV) help or life companion for Adam. Without sexual attraction there is no marriage in the biblical sense.

  18. Gary says:

    I would appreciate any thoughts as to why long hair on men is no longer shameful and unnatural today while the homosexual activity described in Romans 1 is. This is not a red herring. If I’m not mistaken Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 11:14,15 are the only times Paul calls something shameful and unnatural. If long hair on men is not shameful and unnatural today, why not? If it is shameful and unnatural then why are men, like the Robertsons in the Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana, accepted into Christian fellowship and even, for one of them, made an elder? I wouldn’t ordinarily mention anyone by name but they have set themselves up on a national stage as teachers on the terrible sin of homosexual love. It is fair to call them out for such blatant inconsistencies.

  19. Kevin says:

    Gary,

    Shame is one thing, but explicit statements regarding eternal damnation are another. In 1 Cor 9-13, Paul states, “9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    The Holy Spirit doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room here. Clearly, the Church has done a poor job of applying this passage. Far too many seize upon the piece about homosexuality while turning a blind eye to other forms of sexual immorality or even idolatry. Misapplication or inconsistent application, however, does not diminish the truths found in the text. After all the misapplication and church abuse, the passage still says what it says, and you have to deal with it in order to state that homosexual marriage is acceptable to God. You also have to deal with the inconsistency of scripture (and ultimately the inconsistency of God) in order to prove your thesis, namely that Gen 2:18 authorizes homosexual marriage, while several other passages in the OT & NT condemn homosexual activity in the strongest terms possible.

  20. Gary says:

    Kevin, I refer you to the post on this blog in 2014 on the proper interpretation of arsenokoitai and malakos in 1 Corinthians 6. We discussed that until the cows came home. Suffice it to say that there is no concensus today on their meaning. I highly recommend the writings of Dale B. Martin on this subject. He grew up in Churches of Christ and is now a professor at Yale Divinity School. He wrote one article in particular on arsenokoitai and malakos that is superb. If you do an internet search on arsenokoitai and Dale Martin I believe it will come up.

  21. Gary says:

    “Arsenokoites and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences” is the title of the article by Dale B. Martin that I referred to above. I’m sorry but I don’t know how to post a link. The conservative position on arsenokoitai and malakos is untenable in light of the information Martin shares in that article.

  22. Kevin says:

    Thanks, Gary. I will google it.

  23. Kevin says:

    Here is the Martin article that Gary referred to:
    http://www.clgs.org/arsenokoités-and-malakos-meanings-and-consequences

    And here is a link to an article that critiques Martin’s interpretation:
    http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com/articles/DMartinExamined-short.pdf

    I just don’t find Martin persuasive.

  24. John F says:

    Gary == No linguistic ambiguity in Levicticus below, nor does Martin make a convincing case; he even admits the weakness of his argument “I should be clear about my claims here. I am not claiming to know what arsenokoités meant, I am claiming that no one knows what it meant. I freely admit that it could have been taken as a reference to homosexual sex19 But given the scarcity of evidence and the several contexts just analyzed, in which arsenokoités appears to refer to some particular kind of economic exploitation, no one should be allowed to get away with claiming that “of course” the term refers to “men who have sex with other men.” It is certainly possible, I think probable, that arsenokoités referred to a particular role of exploiting others by means of sex, perhaps but not necessarily by homosexual sex. The more important question, I think, is why some scholars are certain it refers to simple male-male sex in the face of evidence to the contrary. Perhaps ideology has been more important than philology. ” Martin does a good job on malakos = effeminate which is useful, but that understanding changes nothing about the universal condemnation from the Biblical texts.

    Lev 18:22-24 ‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 ‘Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.
    24 ‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.

    Lev 20:13
    If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

  25. John F says:

    Kevin, I just read Jesper’s reply to Martin. . . . well done. Jesper goes back to the Septuagint; Paul would also have had the Hebrew scriptures, and the Hebrew leaves no room for Martin’s ill fated attempt at linguistic wrangling. As Jesper states, we must say “NO” when the Scripture is no longer authoritative.

  26. Gary says:

    John, unless you believe all the provisions of the Law of Moses are binding on us today, your resorting to Leviticus is a perfect example of conservatives picking and choosing from Scripture to support their agenda. Do you teach, for example, that tattoos are forbidden for Christians. If not, why not? Also, Deuteronomy 24 teaches that it is an abomination to God for a divorced couple to remarry if the wife had a subsequent husband, even if he died or divorced her. If one is still an abomination today so is the other. Would you deny Christian fellowship to a couple who divorced and remarried each other when the woman’s subsequent husband was dead? Again, if not why not?

    Jay is also prone to appealing to the Law of Moses to restrict certain actions today but I’ve never been able to get him to take a stand on whether the anathema of Deuteronomy 24 regarding the remarriage of a divorced couple applies still today or not.. What about it Jay? If one anathema is binding on us today they all are; and not only the anathemas of the Law of Moses but all of it. Otherwise who is inspired today to tell us what parts are applicable and what parts are not? So to all who would use the Law of Moses to condemn gays today don’t discriminate. Start finding out which members have tattoos and give them the ultimatum: have your tattoos removed or you’re out of Christian fellowship. This may sound preposterous but that’s where you end up when you start trying to bind parts of the Law of Moses today.

  27. Gary says:

    John, your quotation from Dale Martin supports what I said. The meaning of malakos and arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6 is disputed and no one can say for sure today what Paul intended those words to mean. That’s not a weak argument from Dale Martin; that’s the reality. The original NIV, for example, translates them as male prostitutes and homosexual offenders. That may be correct or it may not be. No one can say for sure today. It is interesting, however, that two out of three NIV translations define malakos as male prostitutes even though conservatives now claim malakos cannot mean male prostitute. Arsenokoitai can even have a heterosexual meaning, for example, a male prostitute for women or a gigolo. So Paul may have been condemning in 1 Corinthians 6 male prostitutes for women (arsenokoitai) and male prostitutes for men (malakos). No one today can prove that that is not what Paul intended to communicate. It is simply one possibility among many. No one can legitimately use 1 Corinthians 6 to condemn gay couples today when the meaning of the key words cannot even be established.

  28. Gary says:

    John, I think we can safely say that few of the Corinthian Christians, if any, would have known Hebrew and had a depth of knowledge about the Hebrew text of the Law. So what is crucial is not what background knowledge Paul may have had in Hebrew but, rather, what the meaning of the Koine Greek words Paul used to write 1 Corinthians would have meant to the Corinthian Christians in the mid-first century. Since there is absolutely no prior recorded use in Greek of arsenokoitai Paul either coined a new word or chose a Greek word that was so obscure that no prior use of it has survived to our day. The disputed meaning of malakos is demonstrated today by the variation in meaning among the three NIV translations. In sum, 1 Corinthians 6 will prove that committed gay relationships today are wrong only to those who are already convinced of such.

  29. John F says:

    Gary, My only point in the Levictcus quote is to show the consistent condemnation of homosexual behavior — throughout scripture. Romans 1 is abundantly clear about the “unnatural function.” The Roman world was well aware of the malakoi and every other form of perversion (your probably react negatively to that term, but that is the Biblical understanding, usually expressed as “abomination”).. Paul calls all to reformation and repentance. There is absolutely no basis in the creation text about “suitable” in reference to a homosexual choice. It was unnatural then and is now. Martin chooses to reject Biblical authority in favor of something different, vaguely understood as “love”.

  30. John F says:

    1 Cor 6:9 NET Bible footnotes are

    6:9 n tn This term is sometimes rendered “effeminate,” although in contemporary English usage such a translation could be taken to refer to demeanor rather than behavior. BDAG 613 has “pert. to being passive in a same-sex relationship, effeminate esp. of catamites, of men and boys who are sodomized by other males in such a relationship.” L&N 88.281 states, “the passive male partner in homosexual intercourse – ‘homosexual.’ …As in Greek, a number of other languages also have entirely distinct terms for the active and passive roles in homosexual intercourse.” See also the discussion in G. D. Fee, First Corinthians (NICNT), 243-44. A number of modern translations have adopted the phrase “male prostitutes” for in 1 Cor 6:9 (NIV, NRSV, NLT) but this could be misunderstood by the modern reader to mean “males who sell their services to women,” while the term in question appears, at least in context, to relate to homosexual activity between males. Furthermore, it is far from certain that prostitution as commonly understood (the selling of sexual favors) is specified here, as opposed to a consensual relationship. Thus the translation “passive homosexual partners” has been used here.

    . . . Since there is a distinction in contemporary usage between sexual orientation and actual behavior, the qualification “practicing” was supplied in the translation, following the emphasis in BDAG.
    (from The NET Bible®, Copyright © 1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., Dallas, Texas, http://www.bible.org. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

  31. Gary says:

    John, read Romans 1 again. Paul’s seeming condemnation of homosexuality is directed only to those who exchange or give up their heterosexuality for homosexuality. Most gay men will tell you that they have never had a heterosexual orientation to exchange or give up. There are men who are heterosexual in orientation who, for a variety of reasons, use other men’s bodies to achieve a sexual release. This happens not only in prisons but in practically any community in the country. To the extent that Paul’s words in Romans 1 apply today they apply to them and not to gays who have never been heterosexual. If you apply Paul’s words in Romans 1 quite literally that is where you end up.

  32. Dustin says:

    I think the acceptance of gay marriage among Christians depends on how you read and interpret the bible and/or your life experiences with LGBTQ people. People like Walter Brueggemann (professor emeritus of Old Testament Columbia Theological Seminary), Richard Beck (department chair and professor of psychology at Abilene Christian University), and Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury) have greatly influenced and changed my views.

    Here is a short reading list based on the views of the men above who support gay marriage (I know these links most likely won’t change anyone’s opinion. However, I think it is necessary to hear and understand both sides of the current argument.):

    “The Gospel vs. Scripture? Biblical theology and the debate about rites of blessing: An interview with Walter Brueggemann”:
    http://www.thewitness.org/archive/nov2002/brueggemann.html

    Rowan Williams’ four essentials for being ‘Christian’ –
    http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/07/14/former-archbishop-rowan-williams-baptism-bible-gay-marriage/

    “The Body’s Grace” by Rowan Williams: http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2011/08/24/3301238.htm

    Richard Beck series on Sexuality and the Body:
    Part 1: http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2010/09/sexuality-and-christian-body-part-1.html
    Part 2: http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2010/09/sexuality-and-christian-body-part-2.html

    Beck gave this argument in support at a chapel session based on hot topics in the church:

    “Same sex marriages are in the image of God because the model for marriage is Yahweh and Israel rather than Adam and Eve. Thus, the basis of marriage is grace and election, God choosing Israel from among the nations. The primacy of election/grace over biology is supported in Romans 11 where God is found “unnaturally” grafting the Gentiles into the covenant with Israel…” (Found at http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2012/02/same-sex-marriage-in-image-of-god.html)

    My experiences with LGBTQ persons have influenced my beliefs as well. My job puts me in contact with LGBTQ teenagers who are in desperate need of love and hope. Their families have not supported them with love, grace, and acceptance. Many, especially transgender teens, are lonely and bullied. The church must step up in loving these people who are made in the image of God.

  33. John F says:

    Martin. Bruggerman, Beck, et al pale in authority to the Bible, and their misinterpretations to allow culture to interpret the Bible instead of the Bible interpreting culture can justly be opposed. Here is the biblical norm:Gen 2:24-25 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

    I just note that Jay is beginning a new post on the question; let us follow up there.

  34. Gary says:

    John, if God had wanted Genesis 2:24,25 to be a one size fits all imperative for the people of God then celibacy and singleness would not be an option for Christians. Also, everyone would be heterosexual. If that’s what God wanted God is certainly capable of giving everyone the ability to enter into heterosexual marriage. Prior to Genesis 2:24,25 is God’s saying that it is not good for humankind to be alone and that he wants us all to have the opportunity to have a suitable and appropriate life companion in marriage. For heterosexual Adam that was Eve. For gays and lesbians that person is necessarily someone of the same sex.

  35. Jay Guin says:

    Dustin,

    Thanks for the citations. I’ve read them and am working through them. I intend to respond to each in a couple of weeks, after the How to Study the Bible series ends. (I accidentally posted the first article a few minutes ago and immediately unposted it. I blame the post-back surgery pain pills — although I’ve done the same stupid thing when stone-cold sober plenty of times.)

    So far, Richard Beck offers the most worthy arguments. I’m looking forward to working through his posts. Rowan Williams gave me a headache. In fact, I may have to hit the pain pills yet again before proceeding further. He is one very obscure writer.

    But Beck I can understand.

  36. Alabama John says:

    Gary,
    Throughout the last 150 years and even way farther back than that, folks have read the scriptures and seen things differently from one another. Some became denominations, some cults.

    Having heard many things from yesteryear that were of a definite salvation nature that are now not, just wait and things will be seen and preached differently in the next 25-50 years or sooner.

    Preachers that I knew years ago, if they could be made alive today and see many things we are doing and not doing today would use the same scriptures we are interpreting today to send us all to hell. How will their teachings and leading of others be seen on judgment day? How about us today?

    Best to live the best life you can, doing what is obviously right to you, don’t argue the shadowy scriptures, be happy and depend on Gods grace and love, mercy, Jesus blood, to cover any part we missed.

    From past experience, we ourselves or anyone else will only get 60-70% interpreted right in our lifetime at best.

  37. Gary says:

    AJ, I agree with you and I really appreciate your good heart and compassion for others. My main concern in posting here and occasionally on a few other CoC blogs where I haven’t been thrown off is for young gay CoC men who are where I was almost forty years ago. I married a Christian woman whom I loved in every way except that there was little if any sexual arousal. There are ways to work around that are too painful to go into now. But those ways became less reliable in my 40’s and became totally ineffective in my early 50’s. I saw a respected CoC psychotherapist for many sessions before I married and I was upfront with him about my orientation. Nevertheless he seemed entirely positive about my marrying a woman. I don’t blame him. It was the 70’s and even many professionals believed that marrying a woman would eliminate homosexual thoughts and desires. I ended up hurting a lot of people including that wonderful Christian woman I met at Lipscomb. I didn’t know any better when I married her. In fact I believed I was doing God’s will in marrying her. But this is 2015 and there is no reason for any young Christian man to make that same mistake today. Yet I fear that same mistake is still being made in Churches of Christ and other conservative denominations because conservatives are caught in a time warp on homosexuality. For those of them who are straight this is only a theoretical concern but they don’t realize the terrible pain they are setting others up for in their misplaced confidence that they know the mind of God on this matter. For those of them who are gay and closeted, and they are legion, they are scared to death that their secret will be revealed and the life that they have come to know will end. For me it was like dying and being reborn. I bear everyday the pain I caused so many and I hope my example will help prevent others from making my mistakes.

  38. Monty says:

    Paul could have set the record straight(pardon the pun) if he was directed by the Holy Spirit. He could have once and for all stated that homosexual love was OK for surely no Hebrew Christian convert would have accepted it as wholesome. He never came close to doing so. Not any Bible writer for that matter. All the hopes of Christians who deal with that sin seem to hang on the most obscure of Greek translations. That has to be a terrible place to be. We may never know the why’s of how people develop same sex attraction. I don’t believe for some it was a conscious level decision they made. But we don’t really understand the subconscious mind that well. Certainly, there was a deviation from the norm that took place in early childhood development. Some children develop at a very young age into seemingly natural born killers. They lack something that almost everyone else seems to have, a conscience. That is not to equate the sin of murder to that of homosexuality. It is to show that something can and does sometimes go awry in our early development. There are no born killers, but for a few, they would say that from an early age, as far back as they can remember, they wanted to hurt things. Because a thought or impulse has always seemed to be there(as far back as we can remember) that isn’t anecdotal evidence for being created that way.

    I can and do love people who live a lifestyle dominated by sin. I have lots of family that do. I Have a sister that lives with a guy she isn’t married to. I love her. I don’t approve of her lifestyle. I have never told her that. I pray for her almost daily that she could see the light of the gospel. If she was gay, it would be no different. I would love her and pray that she could see the light of the gospel.

    I don’t think you can pray same sex attraction away. Certainly many men have tried that to no avail. What God desires for us is that whether gay or straight we don’t act on our impulses, no matter how strong they may be and that we submit our bodies to do his will. Jesus said that whoever would come to him must pick up his cross and deny himself. For each person there is a different denial that has to take place.

  39. Dwight says:

    A lot of this conversation isn’t based on how we interpret the Bible, but instead how we re-interpret the Bible. The Bible is pretty clear on the sin of homosexuality, bestiality, incest, adultery, etc in both the OT and the NT. All of these sins are grouped together, but as we try to justify one, we for seem reason distance it from the others. I mean if love in homosexuality makes the difference, then love in the others do also. I mean some people claim they are born to love other species right, after all we are animals too, right? If so, then how can we deny the desire?
    All desire, but not all desire the same way and not all control thier desires at least in the way that God wants us to and if so, then there would be no sin. Eating is a natural desire and yet God told Adam and Even not to eat of the tree of good and evil. Did God tell them to deny thier desires? Yes and No! They were told to control their desire for the one thing that they couldn’t have and were told that they could fulfill their desires from the other approved of sources. They chose what they wanted over what they were told they could have and tried to justify it. We are just like them.

  40. Kevin says:

    Gary wrote, “Yet I fear that same mistake is still being made in Churches of Christ and other conservative denominations because conservatives are caught in a time warp on homosexuality. For those of them who are straight this is only a theoretical concern but they don’t realize the terrible pain they are setting others up for in their misplaced confidence that they know the mind of God on this matter. For those of them who are gay and closeted, and they are legion, they are scared to death that their secret will be revealed and the life that they have come to know will end. For me it was like dying and being reborn. I bear everyday the pain I caused so many and I hope my example will help prevent others from making my mistakes.”

    Not sure it is wise to encourage a homosexual person to marry a member of the opposite gender, but I do not begrudge “conservatives” for their “time warp on homosexuality.” While there is no doubt that the church has largely punted this in the stands (i.e. attitudes and behaviors regarding homosexuals), I question the sentiment that acceptance of homosexuals and homosexual activity without question demonstrates more love. One can argue that it shows a lot more concern and love to warn people about an activity that eternally damns than blindly caving to social and political pressure to avoid the stigma of backwards, “time warped,” Christians with “misplaced confidence.” We do not believe that it is misplaced.

  41. Alabama John says:

    Gary,
    I feel for you and all that are born different from what we consider normal. Its a cross to bear.
    In the Native American cultures there were some “men” that had women actions and tendencies and they were dressed and treated differently from the women and men. They didn’t go to war or hunting, etc. Were taken care of and considered and treated special in many ways.

    Some today are just queer degenerates for sure and what they do is sin and I have known some like that, but also known some also like you that were born of mixed genes. Its an old story, not something of today.

    I’ve told you before it happens in various animals too as any country boy knows. In animals its explained very simply by the Vet as a case of mixed genes, but in humans by the supposed biblical scholars as a sin, why the difference?

    Many sins listed here from the bible, lets pick one seldom spoken about and start a thread on gluttony as no doubt a listed sin. Anyone want to start. Bet it will be a thin man or that sin will be ignored as usual.

  42. Kevin says:

    Another thought on the Martin article. In “Arsenokoites and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences,” Martin states, “I should be clear about my claims here. I am not claiming to know what arsenokoités meant, I am claiming that no one knows what it meant. I freely admit that it could have been taken as a reference to homosexual sex…”

    One of the problems with Martin’s position is that he is referring to a pearly gates question. Notice 1 Cor 6:9-10 again: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (ESV)

    NIV: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlerss will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    NASB: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    HCSB: “Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.”

    Martin is basically saying that we cannot apply this verse. And that’s the rub. God doesn’t play stump the chump on pearly gates issues. Arsenokoites and Malakos mean something. Whatever the terms mean, people can’t go to heaven while in that situation, and it is my firm belief that God and his providence would not leave us wandering around ignorant of the meaning.

  43. Gary says:

    Kevin, nothing you have stated changes the fact that arsenokoitai was, as far as we can know now, for the very first time by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 in a sin list without any further context as to the nature of its meaning. If Paul had wanted to condemn all homosexuals he could have used the common word paiderrastes which everyone who spoke Greek would have understand. Why instead coin a new word if that is what he meant? The ambiguity of the meaning of malakos is amply demonstrated by two NIV translations translating it as male prostitutes and one translating it as submissive homosexual men. But I agree with you that God doesn’t play stump the chump on salvation issues. Committed gay relationships and marriages are not salvation issues.

  44. Kevin says:

    Gary,
    We disagree, and it would seem that the NIV 2011 disagrees also…as well as most other translations and lexicons. The biblical evidence just isn’t there, and the scholorship isn’t there either.

  45. Dwight says:

    Gary, it appears that it is your attempt to muddy the waters so much that no can see clearly. You stated, “translations translating it as male prostitutes and one translating it as submissive homosexual men.”, but while it might go either way, it still comes down to a man taking on the role of a woman with another man. In any any homosexual relationship, there must be a submissive.
    Then there is an attempt to argue the point of arsenokoitai to mean something other than what the translators all knew it to be. The fact that malakos and arsenokoitai are mentioned together bascically covers all areas of the concept of homosexuality as sinful, whether referring to a boy who does homosexual acts as was often the case in Rome or one who lies with a man as a female in the general sense, which was done everywhere.
    Then you have Rom.1:26 “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” which can’t be any clearer. And then God condemned it all thorugh the OT.
    The Bible is consitent in its condemnation of the homosexuality on the same level it condemns bestiality or adultery or incest. The only things that change are our efforst to get around the clear understandings.

  46. Monty says:

    I don’t know if Jay has ever posted a column on gluttony. It would be a good read for sure and no doubt there would be good comments. No one is trying to deny gluttony is a sin, unlike gay “activity.” Surely no one on this blog would deny that fact. It is listed in the scriptures, even though not descriptively like “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful.”

    When does one’s desire for food (a natural and good desire) become sinful? Scripture says when their stomach is their god. We may judge someone else as a glutton and we could be right or we could be wrong. We could be a glutton ourselves and be in denial. But no one is denying the wrongfulness of it. Defining it as it relates to others is dicey.

    God hates divorce. He doesn’t hate divorced people. God says homosexual sex is an abomination, but he doesn’t hate the sinner. The homosexual movement is trying to legitimize it and make it be as normal and wholesome as the husband and wife God ordained way, and it isn’t. But some in the church are getting swept up in the swelling current and carried out to sea. Their life raft, if you call it that, is bucking all the translators over the centuries. I guess it depends on “what your meaning of is, is.”

  47. Larry Cheek says:

    I chose to borrow a portion of Gary’s comment to interject an concept that I do not remember being addressed. Gary’s “Jay, we agree that celibacy is optional for Christians. Without going into details on eunuchs Jesus is explicit that his teaching on that subject is only for those who can receive it. Paul famously writes in 1 Corinthians 7 that it is better to marry than to burn. Neither Paul nor Jesus provide any support to requiring celibacy of anyone.”
    Here is my question. if a man marries and soon after the marriage the wife decides that she does not enjoy sex or sex is so painful that she refuses to participate in the act, or possibly after many years of participating and rearing many children, she just decides to stop participating could be medical reasons or mental reasons. Is that husband forced into celibacy, regardless of his desires?
    He can’t get a divorce. He cannot marry another woman without a divorce. He cannot have an affair with another woman without committing adultery. If he did have an affair the wife could divorce him, but he would be the guilty party which in many peoples judgments would not allow him to remarry. Actually, the wife probably would not even consider a divorce unless she was self sustaining financially.
    Would that not be forced celibacy?

    What if she would not feel violated by the action. What if she even encouraged the actions to relieve the stress in the relationship with the husband. There is a Bible example of this exact type of action. Would that be a breach of the marriage covenant?

    Now for what I see very commonly in the world around me. I see widows who are receiving benefits from the dead husband’s Social Security, retirement funds etc: who if they remarry loose all these benefits, which many times would be a larger income than they could earn while working if they were to remarry and loose these benefits. So what is now ongoing, a man comes along whom they fall in love with and they both would and have made commitments to live together as man and wife but do not marry by documents of the land. In doing this they are not breaking the laws of the land, cannot be tried as a criminal by our government.
    These truly are realities and many of these persons fully believe in God and Christ. You will not find them attending churches, because they understand what they will be asked to do. Have you ever attempted to communicate with individuals who are in these situations to change their lives to match what you think God wants?

    Are they doomed as outcasts from Christ’s Kingdom?
    Are their situations almost identical as Gary proposes for his relationships?

  48. Gary says:

    Larry, my statements have been that nowhere in the Bible is anyone required to live in lifelong celibacy. I didn’t use the word lifelong in the excerpt you quoted but I thought it was understood. Nevertheless you raise some valid questions. If a spouse is able to have sex but refuses over a long period of time to do so that is grounds for divorce. The spouse refusing to have sex has effectively already divorced their mate.

    In cases where one spouse is no longer able, either physically or psychologically, to be sexually active there may be no easy answers. But this much is clear to me: the expectations of celibacy in those situations come from man and not from God. Polygamy as well as concubine arrangements were accepted by God not only in OT times but well into the Christian era. Josephus attests to the practise of polygamy in the first century among the most conservative Jews (which meant the least Hellenized) and especially among the priests. We know from Acts that many priests became Christians. It is almost certainly the case that the early church included polygamists. Polygamy was still being practised by Yemeni Jews as late as the establishment of the state of Israel in 1947. There is a large underground Jewish polygamist community in the US and especially in the greater NYC region.

    No one can produce book, chapter and verse to show that polygamy was ever banned for Christians. Polygamists have one flesh relationships with each of their spouses. Jay has disagreed with this in the past but has only offered his opinion. I am not a fan of polygamy as it is often in practice an unjust situation for women. But that doesn’t make it wrong in all cases.

    I don’t have the answer for each situation so you can no doubt stump me with hypotheticals. But I am absolutely sure that God never intended for humankind to live in celibacy. A few individuals are gifted for and perhaps called to celibacy due to the lives (like Paul) that they have chosen but celibacy, even for them, is optional and an exception to the general principle that God has created us in such a way that it is not good to be alone.

  49. Gary says:

    While I’m at it I am surprised that it is apparently so easy for conservatives to ignore substantive scriptural objections to their positions. I’m thinking particularly of 1 Corinthians 11:14,15 where Paul makes exceedingly clear that he believes long hair on men to be shameful and unnatural. Churches of Christ in the 60’s and early 70’s took Paul at his word and taught this. Since 1980 it hasn’t been worth mentioning. Today Churches of Christ hold up Christian men with long hair, like the Robertsons of West Monroe, Louisiana of Duck Dynasty fame, as not only Christians in good standing but even as teachers of Christian morals and, in one case, as an elder.

    Can someone explain to me how long hair on men is somehow in 2015 no longer shameful and unnatural but homosexuality is? These are the only two times in the NT that Paul calls practices shameful and unnatural. How is one binding today but the other isn’t even worth discussing?

    I have considered the conservative arguments against homosexual love. In fact that’s what I believed, by default, most of my life. But when I examined in depth conservative arguments against homosexual love they didn’t hold up to scrutiny. I have responded to each scripture conservatives cite in their quest to require celibacy of untold millions of people who have all been created to live and to love with a life companion who is suitable and appropriate for them.

    But you conservatives casually disregard the scriptural principles and reasoned arguments that don’t fit with your bias against homosexual love. The status quo in cultural biases and traditional interpretations of Scripture is amazingly strong. But it won’t last forever. The divorced and remarried have been emancipated from requirements of celibacy in our lifetimes. Like it or not, the emancipation of gay men and women is already underway. Unfortunately conservatives will be playing catch up for years to come.

  50. Monty says:

    Love is not what makes a relationship valid in God’s eyes. People were married all the time in arranged marriages in the East without the Western view of love(romance). Love doesn’t make fornication, adultery, animal sex and same sex sex, valid. What makes the relationship a valid relationship is if God has put his stamp of approval on that type of relationship. Scripturally speaking, God has only ordained sex between a man and a woman in the boundaries of marriage. It’s not rocket science. Sex is a bugaboo for most all of us, not just gays. Our thoughts are corrupted. God’s ways are higher than our ways. We feel strongly about our passions and desires. We desire they be validated by a higher authority. But if we are in an invalid relationship there will never be a change of mind by God. He is the same yesterday , today, and tomorrow in regards to what violates his nature. What we do with our bodies bears reflection of the God we say we serve. Pagans worshiped their gods by practicing perverted sexual stuff. They reflected the thoughts of the demons they served. The Israelites were to worship the Lord and serve him only, eschewing pagan worship and it’s sexual perversions.

  51. Gary says:

    Monty, what makes a marriage valid in God’s sight is the commitment of two people who can be suitable and appropriate helps or life companions to each other in accord with Genesis 2:18. For heterosexual Adam that was Eve. For gays and lesbians it is necessarily a person of the same sex.

    By the way, do you believe that long hair on a man today is shameful and unnatural in accord with 1 Corinthians 11:14,15? If not why not? If you do, do you or would you extend Christian fellowship to men who persist in having long hair? Do you think that a long haired man like the Robertson on Duck Dynasty should be an elder as he is at White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana?

  52. Larry Cheek says:

    Gary,
    Do you not realize that your comment about long hair is totally out of place and only serves to prove how desperately that you are clinging to assumed bits of scripture to support any concept that you would raise questions about. I did say out of place, and is out of context also, see the following evidence.

    1Co 11:2-16 ESV Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. (3) But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (4) Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, (5) but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. (6) For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. (7) For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. (8) For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. (9) Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. (10) That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. (11) Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; (12) for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. (13) Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? (14) Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, (15) but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. (16) If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

    Gary, the (verse 16) contains a summation of all the previous verses from verse 2 and it destroys your assumed conclusion. Find a different horse to ride this one is dead. Killed by the very same writer who authored the message that you desire to be contentious about.

    You, as many others may want to apply verse 16 only to the information in verse 15, but have you not noticed that verse 14 is a partial sentence which continues into verse 15? Verse 14 cannot be disconnected from verse 15 which speaks of a woman having long hair being her glory. Equally, in your statement a woman cannot have short hair. But, verse 16 blows all completely out of the picture.

  53. Gary says:

    Larry, 1 Corinthians 11:14,15 does also require women to have long hair but I don’t see the relevance of that to our discussion. For simplicity I focused on the requirement for men to have short hair.

    Is it your contention that Paul in v. 16 negates what he has just taught? I may be uninformed but I’m not aware of any commentator or scholar who believes that that is what Paul is saying in v. 16. If you have any support for your view I would be interested in reading it. I’m pretty sure that Paul is saying in v.16 that God’s people have no practice of men having long hair or women having short hair. But if I’m mistaken on this point I will retract it.

    More broadly, contentiousness is in the eye and ear of the beholder. The day will likely come sooner rather than later when those who try to use Scripture to condemn homosexual love will be considered to be contentious.

  54. Gary says:

    Jane Ward has written a newly published book entitled Not Gay (Sex Between Straight White Men). I haven’t read it yet but from what I have read of it it may shed light on the phenomenon of heterosexually oriented men having gay sex. That phenomenon more closely relates to what Paul seems to condemn in Romans 1 than sex between homosexually oriented men. (Paul only condemns homosexual acts by those who have exchanged or given up their heterosexuality.) Many people are unaware of how common it is for straight men to have gay sex. Why Ward focuses on white men is a mystery to me.

  55. Dwight says:

    Gary, I am one of those people, those people, that believe that I Cor.11:1-16 is as applicable as the verses before it and the verses directly after it, which are sternly fought for as applicable. “All scripture is …” I don’t believe that vs. 16 is arguing against or nullifying the previous verses and if so, then what was the point of Paul’s argument to the Corinthians in the first place and if so, then wouldn’t this also nullify the concept of the headship since Paul builds off that concept. Paul never argued for something anywhere and then said, “If you get mad at this, then never mind.” This is one of those scriptures where we knowingly disregard its clear direction because of an imagined cultural context. We just don’t want ot accept it or apply it, so we make us phantom arguments and reasons and excuses.
    In some ways you are right in that we are dismissive of clear scripture, while often fighting for unclear scriptures, but God’s commands on the sin of homosexuality are hardly unclear and are not subject to hypocrisy on other verses.
    God condemns homosexuality from beginning to end as an abomination and never is “love” a key element in homosexuality or incest or bestiality or even in securing the marriage between men and women.

  56. Monty says:

    Gary you seem to really be splitting hairs. I believe your argument is: if you have felt same sex attraction since childhood(which would be natural for you) then God is OK with you practicing ( “committing shameful acts with other men”)it in a same-sex marriage, but if you as an adult(desire committing shameful acts with other men) change your mind and want to become gay(by virtue of practicing it) then God condemns it, because you were called to be straight but you abandoned it? Is that correct?

    Paul says, God gave them over to shameful lusts. All lusting is sin, but there(in the context) seems to be a “shameful” lust. All sin is damning sin, but some sin is particularly more shameful than others. Why? Because it shows a complete rejection for the divinely created(natural) order of things. It shows a complete and total abandoning of everything God purposed. God purposed man should worship Him. Man, knew to do so, but chose to reject the true knowledge of God and worshiping Him and chose to replace it with worshiping created things. His argument carries out to it’s logical conclusion. Man chooses then(because he has rejected the true knowledge of God) to abandon God’s natural plan for procreation and sexual fulfilment in the husband/wife relationship. Paul lists many other sins, following his tirade against rejecting the knowledge of God, as they are the natural progression of a “depraved” mind.

    Gary, you seem to be saying, that a hetero-man may “choose” to not be hetero any longer, and become impassioned for the same sex, but that a Gay(from childhood) man or woman could never, ever, switch gears and become hetero-sexual. Isn’t that a contradiction? If that’s the case, then you make same sex attraction from early childhood stronger and more lasting than opposite sex attraction from early childhood(which God calls natural). If you can’t pray away gay then you can’t pray away hetero, either. But clearly people will go and do what and where their desires (whether long held or just derived) lead them.

    Gary, do you believe in the agenda of the Gay rights movement? are you for the practice of homosexuality in general? If God-as some believe- makes you with same sex attraction, and if he made you that way, it’s good. Why isn’t there any hint or suggestion anywhere in scripture of it being approved by God. And in the old covenant it just says, if a man lies with a man as with a woman. That seems to cover any scenario one could conceive don’t you think?

  57. Gary says:

    Dwight, I really do appreciate your honesty and your courage in standing for what you believe even on 1 Corinthians 11:14-16. In case you haven’t noticed most regulars here haven’t dared to say a word on this subject. After all, the Robertsons on Duck Dynasty are among the most famous CoC members in the country especially for conservatives.

    Dwight, I’m not trying to play gotcha but this is my sincere question. Do you or would you extend Christian fellowship or be a member of a congregation which tolerates men with long hair and women with very short hair? I can’t understand one practice which Paul calls shameful and unnatural being no big deal in a church but homosexuality being a reason for being disfellowshipped or denied membership. If one is not a test of fellowship then the other cannot consistently be either.

    Regarding the abominations of the Law of Moses how can one be binding on Christians today and not others? By the way the Hebrew word translated abomination can just as easily be translated “an offensive thing.” We know that God has changed at times on what he considers to be an offensive thing. We think nothing today of eating shrimp or lobster but for an OT Jew to do so would have been an abomination. What is an offensive thing in human society definitely changes. When I was a young child the word pregnant was used carefully and usually in hushed tones.The abomination of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is especially relevant for our discussion. Many Churches of Christ have told divorced and remarried persons that their only option, other than celibacy, is to divorce again and remarry their first spouse. But that is plainly an abomination according to Deuteronomy 24:1-4. I have asked Jay several times to opine on whether the abomination of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is still an abomination today but he is conspicuously silent on this subject even though he likes to call homosexuality an abomination.

  58. Gary says:

    Monty, our premises are so far apart that it is hard for us to have a meaningful exchange on this subject. But, unless I’m quite mistaken, I probably know a whole lot more about homosexuality than you do. I was 10 or 11 when I had my first wet dream about a friend’s older brother. Every wet dream I ever had was about males. My sexual orientation was firmly in place well before I was even an accountable person. So it was definitely not a choice for me.

    It sounds odd to say but it is true that heterosexual men can engage in homosexual sex as a sexual release. It is akin to masturbation. A man doesn’t have to be sexually attracted to his hand to become sexually aroused when preparing to masturbate. This phenomenon is well documented in our prisons but probably there are heterosexual men where you live on Craigslist today looking for men to have sex with.

    I understand your point that it would then seem also true that homosexual men could choose to have heterosexual sex. Some gay men can simply not become aroused with a woman. Some can while they are young with methods that are too embarassing to go into here. I was one of the latter. Those methods became unreliable for me in my 40’s and stopped working completely in my early 50’s.

    So sooner or later most gay men become incapable of heterosexual intercourse. Why it is different for heterosexual men who choose to have sex with men I don’t know. I grant that it seems inconsistent but it is the reality. I’m being completely honest with you. I suspect that many gay men are also transgendered- that is that they internally identify as women. But I certainly can’t prove that. I’m sure that this all sounds bizarre to you as a straight man. But it is the painful reality that gays have to find a way to live with. It is hard, even in 2015, to be gay. Few people would ever choose to be gay given the pain and ostracism that so many have to endure especially in adolescence. Many don’t make it and commit suicide. For the church then to tell gays that you have to go through life celibate and alone is cruel. Traditional Christians don’t intend to be cruel I know but it is nevertheless cruel.

  59. Monty says:

    Gary,

    I appreciate your response, although you didn’t really respond but to one particular part of my post. I asked several questions which you wiped away with we’re just world apart in our premises. That’s Ok, I don’t doubt for a minute your early same sex attraction and no doubt it never really was a conscious level choice you made. To my knowledge I never chose to be hetero. But on the other hand I do have certain attractions to particulars about the opposite sex that are engrained if you will from an early age.I don’t believe God pre-programmed me to be attracted to say for example, women with long thin legs and red hair(for illustration purposes only) but there is no denying that attraction. Where do those things come from? Who knows. Maybe Freud. But I do not believe I was pre-programmed to have those particular attractions. That they developed in my subconsciousness at an early age there can be no doubt. Does that mean I have to be a prisoner of those seemingly innate desires? I don’t believe so. I believe I could marry and be happy with a brunette with short fat legs if I was in love. Does that mean I stop being attracted to the former? Nope. IT just means that I can’t be intimate with anyone but my wife. I know you won’t see this as apples to apples and I agree it isn’t. But I do think it illustrates from my own experience that sexual desires and attractions get shaped early on.

    As far as the question about the length of a man’s hair goes, that is really grasping at straws. If you did as much research on that topic as you have done on being a gay Christian, you would have already had your answer. As there are several decent articles if you google it. I don’t really think you believe that long hair on men is sin, do you? As a teen with raging hormones one’s seeming purpose in life is to crave sex. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t command that we refrain from it until were married. Most don’t. Does that make God out to be foolish or that his laws are too hard to be obeyed? I don’t believe invalidates his word or HIs plan. It would be very lonesome and I could imagine trying to live a celibate life. Being attracted to same sex doesn’t make that harder(I don’t believe) than being attracted to the opposite sex. But God would want me to control my vessel. You seem to want a special exception for being gay. As if you think God should lower the bar. The bar is set at the male/female marriage God instituted immediately after he created them male and female and instructed them to fill the earth. Gary you often bring up gay suicide, which no doubt is a tragic thing. Some commit suicide for many other different reasons, mostly because they lose hope. But Jesus came to give us hope. He came to give us peace. I don’t believe that means he will take everything that hurts us away from us, but that he will give us a way through it, if we trust in Him. Bullied people can find peace in Jesus, the alcoholic, the homosexual, the person who has lost a spouse, or the old maid who never found love but desired it. To say otherwise is to contradict scripture. Doesn’t mean though, it’s a piece of cake.

  60. Dwight says:

    Gary, I Cor.11 and scripture that deals with homosexuality fall into two different categories.
    In 1 Cor. Paul makes it a relational thing to where we personally are at risk for our headship in regards to others, but homosexuality was condemed straight out by God and the apostles. I might teach them both as wrong, but only one is listed among other sins such as bestiality, incest, murder, adultery, etc. It is easy to say the term abomination really meant “an offensive thing”, but this “offensive thing” was listed with other offensive things and the punishment in the OT was death, so God must have thought of those things as “very offensive”.
    Now i do consider it extremely sad and sinful that we teach 1 Cor. as nothing and we disregard the scripture as meaningless, but again Paul was trying to teach them to thier roles in the order of headship, which we need to recognize, but Paul never outright condemned those that wore thier hair long or short even though he did call it shameful. Homosexuality was much more than shameful, it was an afront against God set up of man and women and sinful.

  61. Dwight says:

    One thing I find interesting is how homosexuals will recategorize homosexuality out of the list of other sins that God condemned as sinful. In the Law homosexuality is listed with bestiality, incest, adultery, and other sexual sins and yet only homosexuality comes out on a different level than the others. This is strange to me. If you can argue for one due to the way you are born, then the other things are equally arguable from this stand point also, especially since people can be bi-sexual and chose thier partners at will. I mean bestialty can be justified on this basis of genetics and early sexual idenity. And then while you argue that you knew early on, I know men who suddenly decide after 30 years and six children that they are homosexual. They fooled everyone. Ironically I had a brother-in-law that married my sister, then had a homosexual affiar, but returned to her and lived heterosexually until he died of AIDs from that one week affair. He chose how he wanted to live, despite having an underlying attraction to men and had two children with her. He chose his destiny as approved of by God. I myself could have gone differently, I chose not to.

  62. Gary says:

    Larry, I didn’t intend to ignore your other questions. Sorry about that. You mention the Leviticus reference to homosexuality as an abomination twice I believe in the last paragraph of your prior comment. Please read my response to Dwight on that. If anything I said on that point isn’t clear just let me know.

    Different people define the gay agenda quite differently so I’m not sure exactly what you mean by that term. I do support the end of discrimination against gays in employment, housing and public accommodations. If someone chooses to make wedding cakes for a living I don’t believe they should be able to discriminate against gays any more than they should be able to discriminate against interracial couples if they happen to believe interracial marriage is wrong. Bob Jones University only abandoned their opposition to interracial marriage within the past decade. If that violates their conscience they can choose to make their living some other way. After all what would a CoC minister have told a wedding cake maker forty years ago if making a wedding cake for divorced people violated their conscience? Would anyone have even suggested that a law be passed allowing them to discriminate against divorced people?

    I am for love- whether homosexual or heterosexual. Regarding sexuality I am against pederasty, coercion of any kind and any expression of sexuality that treats the other unjustly or as someone undeserving of respect and dignity.

    Why isn’t there anything positive in Scripture about homosexuality? As Jesus often did, I will answer your question with a question: why isn’t there anything positive in Scripture about divorce and remarriage? Life happens and we have to live with the cards we’ve been dealt. Why is no one in Scripture ever instructed to live in lifelong celibacy? Why is there nothing in Scripture indicating that one group of Christians ever told another group of Christians that they either have to marry outside of their sexual orientation or go through life celibate and alone?

    You close your questions by going back again to Leviticus. You tell me. Why is that one abomination still binding today while so many others are not? Who is inspired today to know which ones are still binding and which ones are not? If a couple divorces and the woman remarries but her second husband dies, may she and her first husband remarry? God says in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 that that is an abomination. How can homosexuality today be an abomination but such heterosexual remarriages not be an abomination? I honestly believe you have more difficult questions to answer than I do.

  63. Gary says:

    My last post should have been directed to Monty. Sorry for the confusion.

  64. Gary says:

    Dwight, I am surprised that you feel free to return again and again to the Law of Moses to condemn homosexuality without even acknowledging my question to you about Deuteronomy 24:1-4. How is it that God said in the Law that both homosexuality and the remarriage of a divorced couple when the woman had a subsequent husband are abominations but only homosexuality is still an abomination today? Are you inspired to know that one abomination is still binding today but the other is not? If you’re not going to deal with Deuteronomy 24:1-4 then you really shouldn’t mention the Law of Moses again.

  65. Gary says:

    Monty, I overlooked in my response to your questions your statements about 1 Corinthians 11 and whether long hair on men is shameful and unnatural still today. You say that I’m grasping at straws. As with so many things grasping at straws is in the eye of the beholder. I have found that the old adage that Scripture is its own best interpreter is generally true. Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 11 are the only times I know of in the NT where Paul calls something shameful and unnatural. How do you figure that one is so obviously not applicable today but the other is so important today that it requires millions and millions of people to either marry outside of their sexual orientation or go through life celibate and alone? Why do you and Jay and others who think like you get to discard one prohibition as being applicable today and then turn around and make the other one a test of Christian fellowship? What is the hermeneutic that reveals so clearly to you that one is binding today while it’s grasping at straws to even suggest that the other might be binding today? I’m curious. I’d really like to know.

  66. Larry Cheek says:

    Gary,
    While addressing my comments, you made these statements.

    “Larry, my statements have been that nowhere in the Bible is anyone required to live in lifelong celibacy. I didn’t use the word lifelong in the excerpt you quoted but I thought it was understood. In cases where one spouse is no longer able, either physically or psychologically, to be sexually active there may be no easy answers. But this much is clear to me: the expectations of celibacy in those situations come from man and not from God.”
    I don’t believe that you can produce documentation by man that overrule God’s directive. Notice, God did command that a man would have to live with one wife without the option of divorce.
    (Deu 22:19 ESV) and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days.
    (Deu 22:29 ESV) then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.
    As i was explaining, if this woman refuses any kind of sexual activity after she became his wife (he cannot divorce her, he cannot release his desires into another woman without committing adultery). Does she divorce him in the action of not rendering her body for his satisfaction? This man is bound into this life of celibacy by his mate.
    Then you offer another grounds for divorce which you will not find in God’s Word. Even giving the lack of sexual activity the power to divorce a man and wife. Not found in Bible.
    “If a spouse is able to have sex but refuses over a long period of time to do so that is grounds for divorce. The spouse refusing to have sex has effectively already divorced their mate.”

    Then you offer any man the opportunity of multiple wives. With a claim that the scriptures nowhere deny multiple wives for Christians. If you committed yourself to a same sex partner with the life long commitment that you many times describe, could you also have multiple mates? See next statement.

    “No one can produce book, chapter and verse to show that polygamy was ever banned for Christians. Polygamists have one flesh relationships with each of their spouses. Jay has disagreed with this in the past but has only offered his opinion. I am not a fan of polygamy as it is often in practice an unjust situation for women. But that doesn’t make it wrong in all cases.”

    Notice how many of God’s instructions you have to deny in order to support this statement.

    “I don’t have the answer for each situation so you can no doubt stump me with hypotheticals. But I am absolutely sure that God never intended for humankind to live in celibacy. A few individuals are gifted for and perhaps called to celibacy due to the lives (like Paul) that they have chosen but celibacy, even for them, is optional and an exception to the general principle that God has created us in such a way that it is not good to be alone.”

  67. Gary says:

    Larry, I can’t find in Deuteronomy 22 where the husband who unjustly accuses his new wife of not being a virgin was prohibited from taking additional wives. Maybe I’m missing it. It wouldn’t be the first time something was under my nose and I didn’t see it. But you’ll have to point it out precisely if it’s there.

    If you are able to give book, chapter and verse for polygamy being forbidden to Christians I’d like to see that as well. Again, I’m not a fan of polygamy but many of our premises about marriage and sexuality are of human rather than divine origin. Take the situation of a spouse who is in a coma for many years. I don’t believe that it is God’s will for the healthy spouse to be sentenced to celibacy as a result. Those types of expectations are of human origin rather than from God. If I were the one in the coma I would want my spouse to be as happy as possible even if it meant a sexual relationship with someone else. Why would anyone want their spouse to be sentenced to celibacy?

  68. Jay Guin says:

    Larry wrote,

    These truly are realities and many of these persons fully believe in God and Christ. You will not find them attending churches, because they understand what they will be asked to do. Have you ever attempted to communicate with individuals who are in these situations to change their lives to match what you think God wants?

    I’ve heard of such cases, but I know of no one personally living as husband and wife but declining to marry to get greater Social Security benefits. Alabama recognizes marriage by common law, and so if they hold themselves out as spouses, they likely are in fact married — just as married as if 12 bishops did the full Catholic marriage ceremony before every judge in the state. In short, people who think of themselves as married, who live together as spouses, and who tell the government they are not married, in this state, may well be defrauding the government. And I would so advise them.

    Shorter answer: The fact that one is motivated by profit to sin does not justify the sin.

  69. Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    Regarding longhair, gold jewelry, veils, Holy Kisses, etc., etc., etc., I’ve covered the hermeneutics countless times here and in my books. We have to have a disciplined hermeneutic that tells us what rules are universal principles and which are temporary expedients. The fact that we have to do this hardly means that we get to pick what rules to obey and what rules not. Rather, it just means that both sides of any discussion has to put his/her cards on the table and lay out the hermeneutics that gets him/her to the conclusion.

    Sadly, CoC traditional hermeneutics are entirely useless in answering these questions in any consistent way, but I’ve offered my views on the subject here many times.

    Highly influential, not just with me but with many evangelical commentators, is the book Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis, which is no easy read but offers an extremely helpful analysis on this very question.

  70. Larry Cheek says:

    Gary,
    I guess then that you would still desire your spouse to be happy with and sexually active with another who desired to totally replace your position with your spouse. I really thought that you had explained that the lifestyle that you choose to live in is only valid for individuals who commit to a life long commitment. Then with your suggestion your spouse would either have to break that commitment with you and make another commitment with the new partner or it would be just the same as committing adultery, or could the spouse use the services of a (man of the night) to fulfill his desires occasionally? If you are willing to send your mate into an environment such as this just for the simple desires of a one night stand, would that not prove that the sexual act is far more important than a love commitment.
    This act of the mate filling their desires by other sources is an exact representation of the action that the Israelite’s committed while rejecting God, and God called it adultery.

    By the way, Gary you will never find the expression as you have stated it, it doesn’t exist. You are attempting to muddy the story by intermingling two different events together.
    Here is the full text of the story behind a man bound to a wife without an option of divorce, the last sentence of verse 19 and the previous verses establishes the basis of the judgement rendered.
    Deu 22:13-19 ESV “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her (14) and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ (15) then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. (16) And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; (17) and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, “I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity.” And yet this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. (18) Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him, (19) and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days.

    Notice the directive if the proof is not found.
    Deu 22:20-21 ESV But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, (21) then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

    Now you may say that is an isolated event so notice the next event. This resembles what we call rape. Some men might see life in prison more appealing.
    Deu 22:28-29 ESV “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, (29) then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.

    Would you really believe that God would allow either of these men to have multiple wives so he would not be bound to the same woman? Sure looks like you have suggested that as an option in the event one wife would not fulfill her duties as a sexual partner.

    Your communication really tends to reduce the love that you speak of from a love of your spouse, mate or partner to a love of the sexual act most desirable to you. Switch partners, spouses, or mates as needed to fulfill sex.

  71. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    Thanks for the clarification, and yes I am aware of many in this area of the country who alternate between two complete households living as if they are married. I don’t know of any of them ever being questioned by authorities or benefits being removed. It is not always government that these rules apply from, most are probably pension benefits. The burden of proof will be from the administering authority. How likely would you think that they could win in a case like this without rules in place to document whether the couple who see each other on a regular basis, really have met the requirements for the government or pension administrators to declare them married, and support their removal of benefits in face of their denial in a court?

    If the couple really have made a commitment to each other and they were not married to another, would God see them as married even though they had not been married by human sources as you have explained.

    As I have encountered many times on this blog, could this sin be more damming than some of the doctrinal sins which are constantly being committed and not being repented from?

  72. Dwight says:

    Gary, You never posited the question of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 to me that I know of, but I would regard this as valid, but I have never seen this happen.
    1. People that divorce generally don’t request thier wife back after they have married another.
    2. This thought isn’t carried forward multiple times as the sin of homosexuality is in the OT and NT.
    3. This is an attempt to argue against some obscure points past a very pronounced sin in the scriptures that is listed with other pronounced sins of like types. Homosexuality, harlotry and bestiality were not allowed by God in the OT and are even commented on in the NT. Rom.1:26 “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

  73. Gary says:

    Dwight, homosexuality is not condemned multiple times in the OT and NT. It comes up a handful of times and I’ve addressed, I think, every scripture it does come up in. If you can so easily dismiss what God calls an abomination in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 then you shouldn’t have much of a problem dismissing the Leviticus reference to homosexuality as an abomination. Otherwise you are picking and choosing. But at least you do recognize that what was an abomination to God thousands of years ago may no longer be an abomination today.

  74. Gary says:

    Larry, of course multiple wives were allowed even to the Jewish men in the Deuteronomy 22 scenarios. Can you find any commentators or biblical scholars who say otherwise?

  75. Gary says:

    Jay, Slaves, Women and Homosexuals is good on a number of issues. Before I had to drastically downsize my library I had a well marked up copy. Obviously I disagree with the author on homosexuality.

    That aside, what is the hermeneutic that allows an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7 that I doubt goes back even a century to contradict and set aside Jesus’ plain words on divorce and remarriage? I’ve never heard anyone describe that hermeneutic.

    To take just one aspect of that thorny subject, Jesus says in Matthew 5:34 that a man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Progressive Churches of Christ as well as most of Protestantism no longer believe that that is true. I would guess that the congregation that you serve has a number of men married to divorced women. In most Churches of Christ now no questions are asked of new transfers or members. It is for all practical purposes no fault divorce in Churches of Christ. Well into the 20th century all of Christendom believed steadfastly that a man could not legitimately marry a divorced woman. That belief was so strong in 1936, for example, that King Edward Vlll of Great Britain had to give up his throne in order to marry a divorced woman. If he had not relinquished his throne the governments of several Commonwealth countries were prepared to resign.

    I don’t think Slaves, Women and Homosexuals deals with divorce and remarriage does it? Where in Scripture do we find a gradual loosening of the prohibition of a man marrying a divorced woman? We can’t because it’s not there. In fact, Jesus was much stricter about divorce and remarriage than was the Law of Moses. Yet that has not stopped all the Protestant world in removing all church penalties for divorce and remarriage in the lifetimes of millions of people now living.

    I see clearly the 1 Corinthians 7 interpretation that got us to where we are today. But I have honestly never been comfortable with how our current understanding completely negates Jesus’s plain teaching on this matter.

    In contrast, I am completely comfortable with same-sex marriage as approved by God today. Attempts to oppose it from the Law of Moses are just a pick-and-choose process that reflects the biases of conservatives. (By the way, is the abomination of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 still binding today or not? ) Paul’s own words in Romans 1 limit his seeming condemnation of homosexuality to those who exchange or give up their heterosexuality for homosexuality. Regarding arsenokoitai and malakos in 1 Corinthians 6 even the teams of conservative scholars who translated the three NIV translations could not agree among themselves as to the meaning of those words. Arsenokoitai and malakos could easily be a reference to male prostitutes for men and male prostitutes for women. You cannot prove that that is not their meaning any more than I can prove that it is. As even Gordon Fee concedes, the meaning of arsenokoitai and malakos is disputed.

    What is left? I can support same-sex marriage without negating a single word Jesus said or, for that matter any of his apostles. Jay, the least you could do is recognize same-sex marriage as a disputed matter among Christians at this time and leave it as a personal matter between the individual Christian and God.

  76. Gary says:

    My reference above to Matthew 5:34 should have been to Matthew 5:32.

Leave a Reply