Homosexuality: Four Arguments for Affirming Same Sex Marriage, Part 1

gay christianRichard Beck’s Experimental Theology continues to be a must-read blog. Even though I sometimes disagree. Especially because I sometimes disagree.

Richard recently posted an article summarizing four arguments for affirming same sex marriage. He did not endorse or advocate these arguments.

On the importance of vocabulary

Now, the debate regarding gay marriage is an intensely emotional one and also a highly politicized one. It this respect it’s like the abortion debate in the US. And like the abortion debate, the smart advocates battle not only over scripture but over control of the narrative and language. Hence, in abortion debates, the sides refer to themselves as “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” each capturing the most politically attractive aspect of their position in their nomenclature.

In the gay marriage debate, those who say the Bible approves gay marriage refer to themselves as “affirming,” and who could be against affirming people? But, of course, the debate isn’t over affirming gay Christians but affirming gay marriage — two very different things. But when we refer to one position by the shorthand of “affirming,” we paint with the brush of a particular narrative — whether we mean to or not.

Those who reject gay marriage think of themselves as affirming gay Christians and the scriptures. But they don’t get to use the word. And to my knowledge, this position hasn’t yet been reduced to a label — which tells me that the anti-gay marriage forces aren’t as politically astute as the pro-gay marriage forces — which likely speaks well of their integrity (they’re thinking in terms of exegesis, not voters), but it means they start the debate behind the eight-ball.

I’m going to avoid referring to the pro-gay marriage position as “affirming,” as I believe it’s contrary to scripture. We’ll go with “pro-gay marriage” or pro-GM or “anti-gay marriage” or anti-GM for value-neutral terminology.

The scriptures

Beck does not argue that the traditional readings of the scripture are so erroneous as to remove the gay sex prohibitions from the text of the scriptures. While most commentators would agree that some texts are not nearly as opposed to homosexuality as the traditional reading, nonetheless, even in the most pro-GM light, the text declares homosexual sexual activity sinful.

I do need to urgently add that under anyone’s fair reading of the text, being homosexual — having that orientation — is not made a sin by the scriptures. Rather, it’s the conduct — the sex act — that is condemned.

Therefore, we can fairly say that the NT affirms homosexuals, not their sexual activity, but as humans and Christians, despite their fallen natures. Of course, the same is true of everyone else.

We are all broken, fallen, sinful beings. That doesn’t make our brokenness good and holy; it just means that we all need healing by the Messiah and his Spirit. And so none of us gets to sneer at others for having a fallen nature. We all have that in common, and God loves us all anyway.

Jesus

Beck also does not make the popular argument that Jesus never condemned homosexuality. I can’t speak for Beck, but there are two excellent reasons that the pro-GM advocates need to drop that one:

  1. Jesus condemns “fornication” (e.g., Matt 15:19), and in that time and place, any listener (or reader) would have understood “fornication” to include homosexual acts.
  2. Paul was inspired — and his multiple condemnations of homosexual activity are just as declarative of God’s will as Jesus’ own words.

First Argument: We understand homosexuality so much better than the ancients did

Beck writes (and you do need to read his entire article) —

1. Apples and Oranges

Similar to the Copernican Revolution, when we came to recognize that the earth revolves around the sun, humanity has only just come to recognize sexual orientation as a durable and intrinsic feature of human sexuality. That is, sexual orientation is not a choice and it’s not amenable to change.

Consequently, when the biblical authors, in both the Old and New Testaments, observed sexual activity they could only explain what they were seeing through the only lens they had, that of disordered and excessive sexual desire. That was the only reasonable explanation, in the eyes of the biblical writers, for why men would desire sex with men. Or women with women. What was being condemned in the Bible was this excessive and disordered sexual desire, desires deemed, given the science of the time, as being “contrary to nature.”

This is a testable hypothesis. Unfortunately, very few of us have any serious knowledge of the Greek and Roman literature of the ancient world and so we tend to accept the testimony of others. Fortunately, there are genuine experts, and the Internet makes it easy to check their work.

Ronald J. Sider is a popular evangelical author who campaigns for Christian social justice. He is a founding board member of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. He is also the Distinguished Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He founded Evangelicals for Social Action.

He wrote in Christianity Today,

But two things are important about these arguments. First, Paul never argues that homosexual practice is wrong because it is pederastic or oppressive or wrong for a male to play the role of a woman. He simply says, in agreement with the unanimous Jewish tradition, that it is wrong. And second, there are in fact examples in ancient literature of long term (even life-long) homosexual partnerships. A number of ancient figures, including Plato’s Aristophanes in the Symposium, also talk about a life-long same-sex orientation.

As stated by N. T. Wright, a former Anglican bishop and likely the greatest Pauline theologian living —

As a classicist, I have to say that when I read Plato’s Symposium, or when I read the accounts from the early Roman empire of the practice of homosexuality, then it seems to me they knew just as much about it as we do. In particular, a point which is often missed, they knew a great deal about what people today would regard as longer-term, reasonably stable relations between two people of the same gender. This is not a modern invention, it’s already there in Plato.

The idea that in Paul’s today it was always a matter of exploitation of younger men by older men or whatever … of course there was plenty of that then, as there is today, but it was by no means the only thing. They knew about the whole range of options there. Indeed, in the modern world that isn’t an invention of the 20th century either. If you read the recent literature, for example Graham Robb’s book Strangers, which is an account of homosexual love in the 19th century, it offers an interesting account of all kinds of different expressions and awarenesses and phenomena. I think we have been conned by Michel Foucault into thinking that this is all a new phenomena.

Wright served on the Anglican Lambeth Commission that worked to establish unity in the Anglican community after the ordination of Gene Robinson, an actively gay man, in Boston.

Both these men are far from being right-wing fundamentalists. Both are experts of the highest order. And both find the argument wrong as a matter of historical fact.

It’s easy to mention Copernicus and Galileo and to then argue that we modern folk are just so much smarter than our ancient forbears. But the ancients didn’t need telescopes to see homosexuality. The Greco-Roman culture largely approved of gay sexual relations, and yet the Jews and Christians adamantly refused to go along, not because they didn’t understand homosexuality but because they read the scriptures as declaring it contrary to God’s will.

Now implicit in the “we’re smarter now” argument is a low view of inspiration. After all, even if we were much more knowledgeable about human nature than Moses and Paul, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was and is God the Son! God doesn’t need modern science to understand humanity well.

Also implicit is the assumption that, when it comes to these kinds of questions, modern science has helped us understand the human condition better. But those who spend much time in the classics know how untrue that is. Yes, we are much better at anatomy, medicine, and many other things. But when it comes to knowing the human heart, our modern insights are no better than those of the writers of scriptures — or even the best of the ancient Roman and Greek authors.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

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.
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34 Responses to Homosexuality: Four Arguments for Affirming Same Sex Marriage, Part 1

  1. Bob Brandon says:

    Any argument, no matter how well-meaning, that relies on the human authority of religion to make it will not carry with a significant number of people. Including many Christians.

    The second problem with this line of argument is that it misses the point of the societal discussion. Obergefell was decided as it is because there is – and cannot be – any religious argument to limit civil rights under the U.S. Constitution because it is clear that there can be no religious test to the application and interpretation of it.

    We can certainly be smarter than our forebears. The Thirty Years War (contemporaneous with Galileo) was the last serious attempt by either western Protestantism or Catholicism to impose its religious will on others by the point of the sword. The German population didn’t recover for two generations.

    If anything, the discussion leads to believers to discern what makes up their communities of faith. Those who want nothing to do with same-sex couples can choose to do so. Those who welcome them can like wise choose. As Gamaliel might suggest, let us see from their decisions who best discerns what the love of God looks like.

  2. Christopher says:

    “Similar to the Copernican Revolution, when we came to recognize that the earth revolves around the sun, humanity has only just come to recognize sexual orientation as a durable and intrinsic feature of human sexuality. That is, sexual orientation is not a choice and it’s not amenable to change.”

    It saddens and disturbs me to see the uncritical acceptance of what often passes for “science” in this day and age (such as the still greatly unproven ideas that one species evolved from another and recent decades of global warming are mostly anthropogenic). Included in that is the claim made by some in the scientific community that people are born with a SSO (same sex orientation). The only scientific claims that may be believed are those that have been verified by the scientific method. As is sometimes said, if it’s not repeatable, it’s not science. And I find it comically ironic that some “scientists” are supportive of what, in Darwinian terms, is maladaptive behavior (which, if everyone practiced, would result in the extinction of the human race).

    I believe people are imprinted with a SSO in childhood, by their first erotic experience in combination with a dysfunctional familial environment. All of the former homosexual men I have known in the church were sexually abused or molested as children. This is similar to the report I once read finding that 80% of prostitutes were sexually abused as girls. If I am right, then what has been learned may be unlearned. But people who believe that homosexuality is genetically determined will never try to figure out how SSO is unlearned.

  3. Mark says:

    There have been few issues that have split Christianity in modern times like abortion (Roe v Wade was a privacy argument) and gay rights/marriage (as Bob said above). Civil rights movement of the 60s was probably the last until the big 2. I believe a lot of the problem came from the religious establishment or elders/deacons deciding whose sins were worse. The sins of the “in crowd” were never as bad as the sins of the masses. I really think things would have been better and Christianity would not have taken such a hard hit if the establishment had asked the lesser people just what was going on in their world and then reconciled it with the command to show the love of Christ. Some people who happen to be gay can be more caring and show the love of Christ moreso than some of those who are the powerful in the churches and who have done everything right. Could this be because they know what it is like to have been or be shunned? When leadership does not know what is going on in the world and what issues are about to boil over among the masses of Christians, there is a big problem. It is not dissimilar to the current presidential election campaign.

    Even though Karl Barth did not explicitly say it, the idea of preaching with the Bible in one hand and the news(paper) in the other does make sense.

    Jesus ate with sinners (harlots) and Roman tax collectors. Sharing a meal with someone who was a harlot or who collected taxes for Rome and likely skimmed off the top was heretical and was not what A pious Jewish man did. Yet Jesus had no sin, so obviously it wasn’t sinful to do such a thing.

  4. I believe much of our difficulty with this issue is culturally based. For example, one of the things I have trouble with is the situation in first Corinthians. According to Paul, it was so bad, not even the Gentiles would have tolerated what was going on. Well, I think I’m a pretty good person. I mean, I’m usually kind, compassionate by nature and empathetic. I read this and I don’t believe for one second this was incest between a son and his own mother. THAT I think Paul would have plainly said. Paul referred to the woman as his father’s wife. Women were property. The young man had his father’s property illegally and in so doing, he dishonored his father. That was a terrible thing to do. In our culture, we value “true love” above almost everything else. The princess found her one true love and they got married and lived happily ever after. We’re a romantic, Disney culture and if this is as I imagine it, a younger man is in love with a younger woman and she has been given to his father as a wife. They knew what romantic love was and experienced it, but it didn’t hold the place of importance to them that it does to us. If this happened now, someone would start a petition demanding that the old man who is only interested in the young woman as property should step out of the way of true love between two young lovers and there would be no problem getting all the signatures needed. This is the culture we live in, and as a result, we can’t imagine how it can be loving to stand between two people who just want to be together and devote their lives to serving each other, regardless of sexual orientation. I don’t think even the conservatives, for the most part, can figure it out. They just decide that loving God means hating their brother, despite the fact that the Bible says that is impossible. I know that’s not how it is for you or for Tom Wright, or me, for that matter, but for a large population of

  5. people, I think that really is what’s happening.
    N. T. Wright, I believe, understands this in light of the creation story as it relates to the New Heavens and the New Earth, God restoring all things, and we being co-creators with God as we pray, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”. I think he makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t make it easier for me to explain how it’s actually loving to tell people they have to be lonely and can’t be with the one they love. I begin to question whether the loving thing to do might be different depending on the culture.

  6. buckeyechuck says:

    Jay, there are some terms that have been developed for use by gay Christians through a group known as the Gay Christian Network that may be of assistance in your attempt to help define the vocabulary here. I know many Christians absolutely abhor the term “gay” let alone “gay Christian.” Many would say they are mutually exclusive. However, as Jay stated above, it is the sexual behavior that is condemned in Scripture; not the orientation. If the church has any intent to minister to these gay Christians, then it’s essential that Christians recognize the language and the very ones among them starving for love and acceptance. A summary of these terms is found in this blog post by Rachel Held Evans. http://www.rachelheldevans.com/blog/gay-christian-network-conference

    Side A: Gay Christians who feel free in Christ to pursue same sex relationships.
    Side B: Gay Christians who feel compelled by Scripture and tradition to commit their lives to celibacy

    These terms are in opposition to those who insist that the term “gay” can never be used to describe a Christian because homosexuals are sinners because of their orientation, not that they commit homosexual sins. The conversations within the Gay Christian Network may be of assistance in seeing how they approach the issue of gay marriage.

    I Cor. 6:9-10 says “9 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, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

    This text identifies that it is possible for homosexuals to be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. Nowhere does it say the orientation is removed, just the sin. I am convicted that the Side B position is the one supported by Scripture.

    Unmarried Christians, whether heterosexual or homosexual in their orientation, must live according to the same ordinances of God to remain chaste before God. Both may live in faith and stand righteous and forgiven before their God. They receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and live within God’s grace. Therefore, the church must learn to recognize the same.

  7. buckeyechuck says:

    Christopher said, “All of the former homosexual men I have known in the church were sexually abused or molested as children.” While that may be his experience, it is not mine as I experienced no such abuse. I speak as one who spent many years in Reparative Therapy (RT). I also question his use of the term “former homosexual men.” While I would never deny that some men with same sex attraction can function in a heterosexual relationship as I do, there are many, many more who cannot and should not even attempt to. Christopher also said, “If I am right, then what has been learned may be unlearned.” While I will agree that RT can help to uncover many factors that contribute to same sex attraction, I am not convinced it can be “unlearned” or completely erased.

    Perhaps the incidence of abuse is statistically higher in gay men than in the general population. However, a recent research study conducted by Warren Throckmorton finds that the overwhelming majority of gay men, were not sexually abused as children. Throckmorton studied this very issue and examined the findings of a study by Marie Tomeo and cited as a source by Focus on the Family and by NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality.) Throckmorton’s study speaks directly to the supposition that sexual abuse is a cause of homosexual orientation. You can read his summary here. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2009/06/05/a-major-study-of-child-abuse-and-homosexuality-revisited/

  8. JES says:

    Jay, you defined sexual sin not occurring until the physical activity is preformed, but Christ defines sin at the point of lust, a mental activity. (Matt. 5) This would be true for any type of sexual sin would it not?

    So, when does one go from temptation (not a sin but a mental act) into lust (a sinful mental act)?

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    buckeyechuck,

    I wasn’t familiar with the Side A/Side B nomenclature. Still seems value-loaded. I mean, in the recording industry, the B-side is the George Harrison Indian music that has to be given away opposite the good song on the A-side. Then again, the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water” was a B side. So maybe I can live with it.

    PS — I have never understood the insistence of so many that homosexual orientation is a choice. I mean, I know gay people. I’ve known gay people since junior high. No one sits down in 1966 in North Alabama, small town Church of Christ, and thinks as a 13-year old, “I choose homosexuality.” It’s just a crazy theory. People choose how they act. They don’t choose their sexual orientation.

  10. Christopher says:

    Bec wrote:

    “… that may be his experience, it is not mine as I experienced no such abuse. I speak as one who spent many years in Reparative Therapy (RT). I also question his use of the term “former homosexual men.” While I would never deny that some men with same sex attraction can function in a heterosexual relationship as I do, there are many, many more who cannot and should not even attempt to.”

    My best friend in life, whom I have known since the sixth grade, is SSO. I never knew until a few years ago. I was shocked, but very sympathetic. He is a Mormon and has never (in homosexual parlance) “acted out” (engaged in homosexual relations). When I told him my hypothesis, he initially ruled it out since he had never been sexually abused. But then…he remembered…he had been molested at age 5 by a retarded 14 year old. If my hypothesis is correct, then it is one’s first erotic experience that imprints the orientation. It doesn’t have to be abuse by an adult; it can be child sex play.

    Imprinting, particularly filial imprinting, has been well documented in scientific literature. Lorenz did extensive and fascinating research on this phenomenon. Why would anyone not concede it was at least possible this might be the cause of sexual orientation (as opposed to blindly supposing a genetic cause)?

    Bec further wrote:

    “While I will agree that RT can help to uncover many factors that contribute to same sex attraction, I am not convinced it can be “unlearned” or completely erased.”

    I would recommend you investigate the burgeoning research into neuroplasticity – maybe read a book by Norman Doidge – before reaching any conclusions. You will be amazed at what they are discovering about the mind and its effect on the body and vice versa.

  11. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    buckeyechuck,

    I don’t recall your mentioning your sexual orientation history here before. Thanks for having the courage to speak openly. It’s essential that we be able to talk openly about a subject to have any chance of finding the truth of the matter.

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    JES,

    Your point is well taken, but it’s not the temptation that is a sin. There’s no special rule for sex. Any lust (of the same sort) is sin for the same reason. Recall that the Ten Commandments condemn both theft and covetousness. Covetousness would be the theft equivalent of lust — except the prohibition of covetousness also applies to your neighbor’s wife.

    (Exod. 20:17 ESV) 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    Jesus wasn’t making new law. So when does temptation go to coveting? When it’s someone other than me.

    But seriously, folks …

    There’s not a lot of guidance offered in the text, and the human psyche is complex. But when we dwell on it — certainly when the only reason we don’t sleep with her is because she said, “No.” But before that. When we enjoy the temptation rather than fleeing it.

    When we go out of our way to see our neighbor’s wife sunbathing, when we could just as easily walk another path. When we deliberately seek out temptation.

    Something like that.

  13. Christopher says:

    Jay wrote:

    I have never understood the insistence of so many that homosexual orientation is a choice. I mean, I know gay people. I’ve known gay people since junior high. No one sits down in 1966 in North Alabama, small town Church of Christ, and thinks as a 13-year old, “I choose homosexuality.” It’s just a crazy theory. People choose how they act. They don’t choose their sexual orientation.

    While that is mostly true, I think a certain percentage of people who engage in homosexuality do so because they are immoral experimental types – those who will try anything (LSD, flatlining, cliff jumping, chicken, orgies and the like) one or more times, just for the “experience”.

  14. JES says:

    Thanks Jay. We are on the same page, it (whatever the temptation) becomes sin when we intentionally pursue it. I didn’t understand this until I grasped “walking in the light”. Only then did the blood have full meaning; it’s a choice!!!

  15. Christopher says:

    From the Wikipedia article in imprinting:

    “Sexual imprinting is the process by which a young animal learns the characteristics of a desirable mate. For example, male zebra finches appear to prefer mates with the appearance of the female bird that rears them, rather than that of the birth parent when they are different.[6]

    Sexual attraction to humans can develop in non-human mammals or birds as a result of sexual imprinting when reared from young by humans. One example is London Zoo female giant panda Chi Chi. When taken to Moscow Zoo for mating with the male giant panda An An, she refused his attempts to mate with her, but made a full sexual self-presentation to a Russian zookeeper.[7][8]

    It commonly occurs in falconry birds reared from hatching by humans. Such birds are called “imprints” in falconry. When an imprint must be bred from, the breeder lets the male bird copulate with his head while he is wearing a special hat with pockets on to catch the male bird’s semen. Then he courts a suitable imprint female bird (including offering food, if it is part of that species’s normal courtship). At “copulation” he puts the flat of one hand on her back to represent the weight of a male bird, and with the other hand uses a pipette, or a hypodermic syringe without a needle, to squirt the semen into her cloaca.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I find the imprinting hypothesis very promising for those with an SSO they didn’t really choose. Because anything that is learned can be unlearned. Maybe this represents the truth that will set them free.

  16. buckeyechuck says:

    Jay and Christopher, I would suggest a reading of Wesley Hill’s book “Washed and Waiting.” It deals in depth from a Scriptural perspective, not necessarily a psychological/scientific perspective, regarding the inherent persona of the gay Christian and their struggles for acceptance and love. Christopher, if you want to speak of science, then I suggest a reading of Throckmorton’s scientific research which I referenced above.

    Christopher, there is no science that supports any type of therapy that can reverse exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality. It does not exist. Believe me, I’ve searched the past 25+ years looking for it. I’ve read all of Joseph Nicolosi’s books. I’ve been in Homosexual Anonymous groups. I’ve done Nocolosi’s Reparative Therapy by a licensed Christian Counselor on more than one occasion who was a very good man who was a reformed gay struggler himself. I’ve counseled extensively with Patrick Mead and other therapists. I know a lot about of which I speak. There is a spectrum from zero degrees to 180 degrees on the horizon where each individual gay person falls in past experiences and level of gayness. Some men, such as your Mormon friend who struggles with the orientation but have never acted out, are the most frequent among us. He sounds to me like a man who has sacrificed much for his faith. People like this are throughout the church. They are your friends. They are your family. And they need your love, acceptance and friendship. Some gay men are innately effeminate. They just are. They don’t choose that. It’s just there. Others, are manly men who are athletic, strong and masculine.

    Jay, if you will go back and read some of my comments on this issue you should surely be able to see through my posts. As far as my courage, I’m not so sure I’m all that courageous. That is why I use the name “buckeyechuck.” BTW Buckeye Chuck is Ohio’s version of Punxatawny Phil, the groundhog who comes out of the ground to determine if he sees his shadow or not. There is an identification in that persona for me. I still feel that I must hide underground with brief appearances to those who I feel that I can trust or those that I can be of assistance to. Not all that courageous….

  17. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    buckeyechuck,

    I stand by my comment re courage. I mean, to admit being a Buckeye in a forum filled with Alabama fans …

  18. Christopher says:

    Bec wrote:

    Christopher, there is no science that supports any type of therapy that can reverse exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality.

    Re-read my initial post, my friend. Did you really expect a scientific community that sells unproven hypotheses, such as the evolution of species, as fact to address the problem people like yourself face? Do you know perhaps the most promising treatment of cancer ever tried – immunotherapy – was discovered in the late 19th century and was largely ignored for a century? If you’re waiting for “science” to find a cure for you, you will (like hundreds of thousands of cancer patients) probably die first. YOU find the answer. Be an Edison and figure it out. I have suggested some ideas I would start with were I in your position. Assuming the imprinting hypothesis – something that can be tested, by the way – is correct, by what means would SSO be effectively unlearned? Please, do yourself a favor and research neuroplasticity and extrapolate from that to the SSO problem.

  19. Christopher says:

    BTW, Buckeye, I should tell you why I believe in the imprinting hypothesis so strongly. Since I was sexually abused by a adult male neighbor for three years, starting at the age of nine, I should be a homosexual. But I’m not. And the reason I think I’m not is I had my first erotic experience slightly more than a year earlier, with a very pretty blond girl four years older than me. I remember it distinctly: she persuaded me to come to her house after school one day and there pulled up my shirt and started tickling me. I had never experienced anything like that before and was stimulated. After that, I became curious about girls. When I was being sexually abused by a bisexual man, he introduced me to pornography and I was only interested in Playboys (which he gave me).

  20. Gary says:

    I deeply appreciate Jay’s willingness to allow different perspectives on homosexuality and Christianity to be shared on One in Jesus. He may be almost alone in that openness. When I tried to participate on Edward Fudge’s blog several years ago with my progressive understanding I was summarily ejected. Most progressives don’t take kindly to being out-progressived. Jay has allowed me to share quite a number of times on One in Jesus my conclusions as an openly gay Christian man who spent over half a century in Churches of Christ. I’m now a member of a Disciples of Christ congregation but still love Churches of Christ deeply.

    Because of my love for Churches of Christ I think the more fruitful discussion at this point in time is- where do we go from here? Acceptance of gay marriage and committed gay relationships is quickly becoming the norm in American Protestantism. Even among Evangelicals younger Evangelicals are much more open to actively gay Christians than are older Evangelicals. Some who were Evangelical icons until recently like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo have embraced gay marriage as an option for gay Christians.

    The change in the larger American society is even more striking and will likely affect Church of Christ educational institutions profoundly in the coming decade. The Bob Jones Supreme Court case is now settled law. It established that even religiously held views requiring the prohibition of interracial dating and marriage at Bob Jones University disqualified the Christian school from favorable tax treatment that is routinely given to private religious schools. The vast majority of Christian colleges and universities cannot survive without favorable tax treatment such as donors being able to deduct their contributions from their taxable income as charitable contributions. It is only a matter of time until there is an equivalent Supreme Court ruling regarding religiously based discrimination in educational institutions against gays. I expect such a ruling within the next decade.

    As go Church of Christ colleges and universities so will go Churches of Christ in time. If history is any guide CoC universities will change their policies regarding gay relationships when they have to in order to retain favorable tax treatment. That is what happened in the early 60’s. Christian colleges that had steadfastly maintained policies of racial segregation dropped those policies like hot potatoes when they saw that that was the price of federal money for themselves and their students.

    There are more considerations of course than this but this one is huge. What will Churches of Christ do when their universities become pragmatic about gay relationships and gay marriage and stop discriminating against gays? Will that be the time when Church of Christ leaders and opinion shapers either accept the progressive understanding of Christianity and homosexuality or at least become agnostics on the issue? That time will likely be here sooner than we think.

  21. Christopher says:

    Gary wrote:

    “Will that be the time when Church of Christ leaders and opinion shapers either accept the progressive understanding of Christianity and homosexuality or at least become agnostics on the issue?”

    While the SCOTUS has twisted the words of the Constitution (as in ruling that campaign contributions or pornography are forms of “speech”) to scratch the itching ears of an increasingly immoral culture, true followers of Christ will never do that with the Scriptures.

  22. Alabama John says:

    Sexual orientation is not limited to humans but other creatures as well as any country boy knows.
    In most, they are born that way.
    In so many attracted to the same sex, whether male or female, for so many they even look different and you can spot them right off.
    In many throughout the ages cultures like Native Americans they were treated as special and dressed and acted differently.
    There might be those in humans that choose that lifestyle for whatever reason but in animals that is not the case and in most humans its not either.

  23. Jeff Richardson says:

    Let us remember Matthew 5:28, :But I say to you whoever looks at a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Would I be wrong to add whoever looks at a person of the same sex to lust after them has committed adultery with them in their heart. It all begins in the heart, our heart, who we truly are resides in the heart, and God knows our heart. Alabama John, I have seen dogs try to mate with the same sex, they do so because they are stupid, hot under the collar, but I dare anyone to show me a male dog, who is willing to “live” as a female dog, it just doesn’t happen. This lifestyle in humans is a chosen one, if not, God created some people who can only live in sin and never be able to repent. We can see clearly from 1 Cor 6 that it is indeed a chosen behavior, and they can repent and change if they so desire. If they don’t, they will never see the kingdom of God. As for the term “gay Christian” there is no such thing. I believe that REPENTANCE is a requirement before baptism where their sins are washed away. If you were to become homosexual after, you would still need to REPENT (change) to be reconciled back to God. It seems as if we desire to be PC, Wasn’t it the Jewish rulers who desired to be admired by men, rather than God? I’m reminded of Matthew 10:34-39. Christ said He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. That this sword (the word of God) would set man against his daughter. and daughter against her mother….etc. But Jesus said, he who loves daughter etc more than me, isn’t worthy of Me. Think about that when you find yourself wondering, which view you should support?

  24. Alabama John says:

    Jeff, mine and your same reasoning can be applied to many other things that are a sin like Gluttony.
    Some humans and other creatures are by genetics, born to eat more and be fat. Others no matter how much they eat will by their genes be either thin, fat, or just right.
    How many sermons do we hear condemning those members that are too fat from overeating and committing the sin of gluttony?
    Is lusting after food or many other things also a sin or just sex?
    I don’t know why God did many things that He did but accept them as being above my understanding and move on.

  25. Jeff Richardson says:

    The sin of gluttony, a sin that can not be repented of? It’ not a matter of genetics, being fat thereby, it’s a matter of over eating that’s a sin. So your telling me God created some with sinful traits and that’s just to bad? Whatever God has deemed to be sinful, that’s sinful John. Self control in whatever is needed.

  26. Alabama John says:

    Jeff, that’s true but He created us all with sinful traits of one kind or the other and that is the bad we try to overcome and Jesus blood was needed to help us.
    Look at children who are too overweight or acting more like the opposite sex without even realizing it. In some you can spot the likelihood of what we consider a sinful life coming. They were born that way and don’t even know it yet.

  27. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    I don’t really get wrapped around the axle about SSO. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter one iota if a person is born with SSO or if it is learned / environmental. Engaging in homosexual conduct is a sin. That’s not going to change no matter how fervently some may wish it to be so OR how much society welcomes the practice.

    Don’t get me wrong, the discussion is interesting…but it is purely academic.

    I also have a lot of compassion for those who have known that they had SSO for most of their lives. I tend to think that some (but not all) were born with SSO. I grew up with a guy for 18 years who was clearly had SSO from a very early age. But that doesn’t get him a pass when it comes to right vs wrong.

    Lots of people grow up with predispositions towards certain sinful behavior, some of which is less harmful and some murderous and destructive. They don’t get passes either.

    And no, I am not equating homosexuals with psychopaths. The former that I have known are wonderful, caring people…but their conduct is still sinful.

  28. Christopher says:

    Kevin wrote:

    I don’t really get wrapped around the axle about SSO. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter one iota if a person is born with SSO or if it is learned / environmental. Engaging in homosexual conduct is a sin. That’s not going to change no matter how fervently some may wish it to be so OR how much society welcomes the practice.

    I disagree strongly. If people are born with SSO, then we have a God who condemns behavior in people they can’t help. And that probably means the Bible is not true.

  29. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Not true. I lived near a psychopath in Wisconsin many years ago. The guy never had the ability to empathize with others. No conscious. Murdered a few people. According to your logic, God is at fault, thus the Bible can’t be true.

    We can go on and on with people who are predisposed to certain behaviors through no fault of their own. Babies are born as crack addicts, and they will always be at high risk for drug abuse.

    God is not at fault for any of this. Sin is. Centuries of it.

  30. Jeff Richardson says:

    I don’t believe anyone is born sinful, everything discussed here is a learned behavior. Unless we consider mental illness.

  31. Christopher says:

    Kevin,

    Recall what Paul wrote:

    You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. (1 Corinthians 12:2)

    I don’t see any allusion to genetics here.

  32. buckeyechuck says:

    Jeff, we are not born guilty of sin. But, we are born into a fallen world. Someone with a same sex desire is not guilty of sin until they have acted on that, correct? I know we have discussed the lust issue here, but same sex lust would be judged no differently than opposite sex lust, would it? If a person dwells on their desire to commit sin even in their mind, there would be no distinction between homo or hetero.

    Whether same sex attraction has causation in genetics or environment (I personally believe it is a combination of both, however, science cannot confirm or even agree), there is no sin until the behavior occurs. No one is guilty of sin based on their orientation or desires.

    Some who have commented here may want to restudy the Scriptures to determine whether a person with homosexual desires is already sinful even before they act on that desire. Scripture does not suggest that in any way any more than an alcoholic is not sinful until he becomes drunk. But, the alcoholic still really, really wants that drink. The alcoholic’s mind is driven to desire the drink. The alcoholic cannot choose to not desire the drink. But, if because of his desire to obey and please God, he resists and determines to choose to not drink, then he is faithful because of his decision and behavior. Wouldn’t the same be true of a person with same sex attraction?

  33. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Being guilty of sin does not equal predisposed towards certain behaviors or more prone to certain temptations.

    Jeff’s comment…
    everything discussed here is a learned behavior.
    is demonstrably false.

    I have seen it. Witnessed it first hand. Grew up with a friend who was clearly gay from a very early age, well before the time that children expressed their sexuality. He wasn’t abused as a child. Normal upbringing. In fact, he is African American and came from a family that would never have encouraged homosexuality. To unequivocally state that all homosexuals are such because of learned behavior is to put one’s head in the sand.

  34. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Chris wrote:
    Recall what Paul wrote:

    You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. (1 Corinthians 12:2)

    You are erroneously conflating two very different behaviors and activities. “Apples and oranges” doesn’t even begin to adequately describe how widely separated the two topics are.

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