How does God feel about homosexuality?

Last post, I shared the idea that I basically don’t think that there is enough evidence to really conclude just how God feels about homosexuality.  One of my favorite people in the world, Al, had some really interesting things to say in response.   I think that his comments are quite typical of a wide variety of people.  It’s been my experience that there is this whole population of people who love God and love people, people who are quite familiar with the arguments that suggest that God condemns homosexuality.

In the end perhaps this position is right.  Many people haven’t even heard the other side of the argument.  Al stated his perspective fairly and succintly.  He seemed quite interesting in hearing the other side.  I’ll do my best to present it here, with the caveat that I’m pretty much on the fence on this one, in many cases.  I’m not saying stuff that I 100% believe so much as I’m sharing stuff that gives me reason to pause and think that this is a pretty complex issue.  If you want to see the whole of Al’s response I’ll invite you to check out in the last post.  Here, I’m going to quote and respond to what seems to be the most important parts.  If I omitted something I hope he or somebody else will correct me.

Al said” I’m curious to hear some of the arguments that view God as pro-homosexuality, or at least He views it as a non-issue. Is God then also pro-gluttony or drug abuse, spousal abuse…etc. I’m not being sarcastic in any way either. I hope you read this with the understanding that I am a guy that is imperfect and fallen, and sometimes clueless about things.”

My response: The comparison between homosexuality and drug abuse or homosexuality and spousal abuse is getting the cart before the horse.  Perhaps it’ll turn out that homosexuality is a form of abuse.  But whether or not it is abuse at all is the very question at issue.  So setting up that comparison in the beginning, I don’t think that really does much. 

Al later said “I guess it comes back to my world view, and also what my view of the scriptures is. Part of my world view is that truth is absolute regardless of the time in history, the culture, or the popular agenda/opinion. Furthermore I believe that the Word of God is not an evolving document like the constitution. His word, as it says in 1Pt 1:24-25, abides/remains/lasts forever. It doesn’t fail, it never fades, it is eternal and always truth.”

I totally agree with this paragraph.  But I think that the truths in this paragraph needs to be balanced with what Al said before: we are all fallen.  Scripture is true, but we are all quite knuckleheaded.  I don’t think that scripture ever changes.  But I think that our understandings of scriptures do change.  Not because the truth is mallable, but because we are.   

Al says “From what I read it seems pretty clear that God has a problem with homosexuality. Any time it is mentioned, it is not in a good context or in an approving tone. Even in the NT it is not viewed as acceptable, but as sinful. So, why would that have changed now. Is it because we are so much more advanced and our understanding of cultures and language and science etc., etc. is so great that we have now become an authority to determine that something that was viewed as sinful is no longer. So, is cheating on my wife no longer viewed by God as sin?”

This, I think is really the heart of the issue.

First off, it’s good to draw a distinction (as Al does) between the NT and the OT.  With the OT, we often want to have our cake and eat it, too.  When the OT says something we like, we say “Jesus came to fufill the scriptures, not abolish them.” when it comes to something we don’t like (for example, dietary prescriptions) we say “Jesus established a new covenant.”

That said, most of the Old Testamony prohibitions that are often pointed as being anti-homosexual are in fact anti-rape, or anti-lust.  Christians who think that homosexuality isn’t prohibitted by the bible say that Sodom and Gomorah isn’t about homosexuality, as such.  It’s against sleeping around.

Many gay people feel quite set-up, rightly or wrongly.  This is what they say is the issue:

Christians claim that any sexual contact outside of marriage is wrong.  They also say that gay marriage is wrong.  It’s there position they are effectively forced into adultery because they aren’t able to get married.

I think this claim is really only valid if it turns out that God is o.k. with homosexuality in the first place.  If He is, then the idea of gay marriage seems o.k.  But I digress.

In terms of the New Testament, some very sophisticated and over-my-head discussions have gone on about translation.  My understanding is that the word that gets rendered as “homosexuality” in the epistles (I forget where, can anybody help me out?) is a word that is incredibly difficult.  It appears virtually nowhere else in the NT.  Proponents of homosexuality claim that this word would bettered be translated as “Temple Prostitute.”

I don’t have the knowledge or time to do this issue justice.  It is at the heart of the matter.  And I don’t feel like I have enough expertise to really unravel it all, anyway.   There are a variety of resources available on the internet. 

Al continues, “Can we argue that people feel that it is in their nature, oh yeah! My nature was to go after every chick that was out there and shack up. Had any of them been interested in me, I might have been with many, but that’s another story!:)

That was my nature. If I did not develop the understanding that this is not how God created me to be, but is an unfortunate side effect to my sinful nature, I would have continued in it even while I am married. I’m sure my wife would not approve, even if God did!”

My thoughts: It’s worthwhile to notice an important distinction between the attractions and lust that folks like you and me feel on the one hand, and the lust and attraction that gay folks, on the other hand, feel.

The distinction is that there is a “legitimate” end to the experiences you and I feel.  You and I live in a world which states our sexuality is o.k.  It’s good to be attracted to the opposite sex.  Probably it says it too much, but that’s a different issue.  When all is said and done, you and I get to express our sexuality through the institution of marriage.

Al continues:   
“I have to work on keeping my body/flesh/sinful nature in check so I do not carry out the things that I so want to do. Is this any more or even any less the struggle that my gay brothers and lesbian sisters go through. My struggle with sin is ever present, just as it is for them, just as it is for an alcoholic, or someone who can’t control their eating. I am in no way condemning any sinner, because we are all born condemned due to our sin. I am for pointing all sinners to the wonderful cross that bids us all to come and die…die to ourselves, our wants, our desires- no matter how noble or un-noble they are – and find life in the Christ, who was our ultimate example of denial.”

 I guess that’s just it. If we want to call ourselves Christ followers, then we better get ready to deny ourselves and follow His example.”

My response is that nobody is suggesting that multiple partners are o.k.  The question is this: is gay monogomy acceptable to God?  And perhaps the related question: Is all the anti-gay “work” done by Christianity really just promoting gay promiscuity?

Al’s end was my favorite part:
I love you Jeff! I’m glad we’re friends, and I’m even more glad that we work together for eternal things.

I love you to, man.  You’re an awesome human being.  Thanks for calling me on this stuff.  Perhaps I’ve got it all wrong.  I’ll be interested to read your response.

Advertisements

Published by

jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

8 thoughts on “How does God feel about homosexuality?”

  1. Whoa…Where to begin my friend. This response will have to be in multiple posts. I will post them here, but also on my site. http://aldancyspeaks.wordpress.com.

    It will be multiple, because I am leaving work shortly and don’t have much time to write this.

    Is it wrong that there is a ‘legitimate’ “end to the experiences you and I feel?” Should something be legitimizeed because someone feels bad about what they are doing? Why is it wrong to call something wrong/sin. we ahve no problem calling something like pedophilia wrong/sin, or alcohol/drug abuse wrong/sin. Then why would it be wrong to call homosexuality wrong/sin?

    Ok, I want to touch on the Gay marriage thing. I’m looking at this from 2 points.

    1. Marriage is a moral/religious instituition that the government has no business being involved in. The government should be in the business of making law that governs our society. I don’t see marriage as a civil liberty, because I view it as a religious right. A person has the right to be called “married” under the confinds of religious authority or religious whatever…I don’t believe it should be the government’s right or responsibility to put a stamp of approval on matters that are religious. Call it a civil union, with all the same rights that married couples have, but do not call it marriage. I believe that it should be a civil union for unreligious anyones.

    That is not descriminatory, it is separation of Church and State. Isn’t that what so many people scream about, and fight to maintain?

    2. What we call “marriage” is religiously between 1 man and 1 woman, and should be maintained in the confines of religious establishments. If we are in the context of the Bible, and going by the example that was established from the beginning and continued throughout human history, then is there really any credible argument against that. Can we argue then that any religious definition or example is or has been anything but 1 man with 1 woman.

    I think in many cases it is validation that people want. The homosexual community wants the rest of America to validate who they are and what they do. Please tell me if I am wrong on this. Homosexuals want to feel as if they are “normal” humanbeings that are just as ok as a straight person.

    If “marriage,” referring to the thing that everyone is fighting over currently, is defined as a union between people that love each other and want to be committed to one another, then why stop at it being 1 man and 1 woman or 1 man and 1 man etc. Why not make it 2 women and a penguin, or 1 man, 1 woman, a child, and their dog?

    That’s my first rant. I have some really good responses to some of your points that I’ll write soon.

    Like

  2. Hello my friend.
    #1) No, I don’t think we need to apologize for the fact that there is an end in sight for us. That wasn’t what I was trying to say. And I don’t think it’s our problem if somebody else feels bad about themselves.

    My point was that you were (I think) trying to equate the lust that heterosexuals feel with the lust that homosexuals feel. If I understood you correctly, you were saying “I coped with my adolescent lust. Why can’t the homosexual community cope with theres?”
    I wanted to observe that there are differences, though. What if we decided that everybody with the first name “Al” can’t get married? This would put a different spin on the fact that you (like many of us) experienced lust before marriage.

    I don’t have any trouble with calling things sin. You mention several that I agree are sins. I can point to the damage done by alchohol or abuse. I can point to the damage done by homophobic Christians. (That’s not a slam at you; I don’t consider you homophobobic nor do I think you’ve done damage.) I’m a little harder pressed to point to the damage done by homosexuality itself. More importantly, I’m not at all clear that scripture says God disapproves of homosexuality.

    I agree with much of what you have to say about marriage and seperation of church and state. I’m not sure if you were getting at this or not, but here’s how far I would take this issue:

    I think the word “marriage” should only belong to private (generally spiritual/religious) communities.
    There are important rights that society recognizes belong to life partners. I think the state should probably only do civil unions. For everbody: gay and straight.

    Does the homosexual community want us to validate what they do? Hmmm. I think that it’s easy to look at any group that we might not be that familiar with and think that we can give it one voice.
    Before I was a Christian, it was easy for me to say things like “Do Christians want…” As if there were one monolithic group.
    As a Christian, there are people who speak for me. (Maybe Rob Bell.) and people who don’t (James Dobson.) If somebody asked “Do Christians want…” The answer (almost regardless of the question) is “some of them.”

    Do homosexuals want to be validated? Some of them. Others want to be simply left alone. Others want to be able to file taxes with their partners or to be able to visit them in intensive care.

    As for the question of “What’s to stop the further errosion of marriage?”
    It’s worth noticing that people said that about interracial marriage fifty years ago. “If we allow black people to marry white people, soon adults will marry children, whole groups will get married, people will marry penguins. It’ll be chaos.”

    I think in fact we end up shooting ourselves in the foot. There is an overall agreement that humans are monogomous creatures. There’s enough consensus there to justify preventing bigomy.
    I would suggest that some of the reason for homosexual promiscuity is because we don’t give homosexuals any reason to think they have anything to gain from listening to us. We tend to reject them so utterly and out of hand that we don’t give them any reason to want to hear us out.
    It’d be awesome if I could sit a table with a couple of men who were madly in love with each other. Or a couple of women.
    It would be great to talk about how hard relationships are with them. To talk about how love is a choice more than a feeling. To ask them how they get through the hard times.
    If I’m asserting that they don’t even have a right to be together I will lose this oppurtunity. Why should they want to listen to me? Why should they want to be like me?

    I don’t advocate hiding what we believe.
    But I think we should be honest with them if it seems to us a little complicated.
    That’s my bottom line:
    I just don’t know. I’ve had gay friends who hava a very persuasive piece of evidence. They say this:
    You think this is a choice? Who would choose this life? Don’t you think I’d love to not be fearful, to not be a hated minority?

    We can rally all we want about the gay agenda and the death of the American family. But right now I’m thinking about this girl I knew in high school. She agonized over her attraction to girls. She lived in fear of getting beat up and found out. That’s much more real than some conspiracy about screen writers trying to make everybody be gay.

    Uhhm, I guess I started ranting, too. It’s not about you, Al. I appreciate your thoughts and look foreward to your next post.

    Like

  3. I would love to comment and I’ll look into those greek words more so that I can speak more intellectually about those but I’m running out the door this afternoon. I would also like to hear more about the “scientific” explanation behind it. It seems that the pendulum swings between “biblical” and “scientific.” Both of which I think there are people who are hard-liners without serious and objective look at the research and findings and thinks that taking a hard look may give some credence to the other side(as though science cannot believe in God, and God cannot believe in science). great discussion here.

    Like

  4. Steve, you’re an awesome resource in this areas biblically. I’ll look foreward to your insight. Perhaps I’ll do a little poking around on this subject too, though you’re way better versed (is that a pun?) in the area of biblical studies than me.

    The question about the scientific view is a great one and is quite relevant to the discussion, and doesn’t require a whole lot of poking around on my part.
    There’s two important pieces of scientific understanding about homosexuality that I’m aware of.
    The first is that we can effectively cause homosexuality in rats.
    Yes. I wrote that sentence. It says what you think it says.
    There are gay rats. Atleast gay male rats.
    And yes, they mount other male rats.

    As goofy as all this seems it’s also quite interesting (atleast to me.)
    The way to create a gay male rat is to subject the mother rat to stress when it is pregnant. The stress stimulates adeniline. The adeniline suppresses testosterone. The lack of testotorene leads… to gay male rats.
    The above you can find in a variety of different text books. The following is my theory about why. It’s completley dependent on my own twisted brain. If the following paragraph is wrong-headed some how, it’s a reflection on me, not the science explained above.
    With that disclaimer, here’s my take on why that all might happen.
    The interesting thing about all that is it’s long term stress. Many long term stressors are ones that it won’t benefit a population to have more of.
    For example, a lack of food or a drought might cause a mother long-term stress. Fierce predators, also might cause stress.

    If animal populations are built (through evolution of God’s hand or both) to increase the percentage of homosexuals in the next generation, then many of these problems would be better. If many of the next generation are gay then the population in the following generation is lower. If the population is lower, food shortages are less of a deal. Diseases spread less to other populations. Fierce predators might move on to somewhere else.

    In short: I have this theory that homosexuality is a defense mechanism for populations.

    The second piece of science:
    We can actually point to differences between gay men and straight men. There is a gland in the brain called the hypathalmus. The cells in the hypathalmus of gay men are much smaller and more densely packed than in straight men.
    The aids pandemic has given us a glut of gay men to explore this phenemonon. It’s unclear if this is true for gay women.

    There is some sense in which these pieces of information cut both ways. On the one hand, I think they obliterate the niave suggestion that homosexuality is a choice for most people. On the other hand, these explanations shift the debate.
    People who believe that homosexuality is wrong now can call it a birth defect.

    But this is central to my original point: I am an agnostic on the question of whether or not homosexuality is acceptable to God.

    Assuming that homosexuality is in fact a birth defect transforms the entire debate. Paralells between a straight person’s struggle with lust and a gay person’s struggle with their sexual identity begin to crumble.

    It seems to me if a person is hard-wired to be attracted to their own sex, expecting them to act otherwise is tantamount to asking a person who is color blind to do a better job with discerning the difference between red and green: they simply aren’t wired for it.
    (This is course connected to a wider debate related to what we know about brain chemistry and how we balance this with personal responsibility. But that’s a can of worms bigger than even I’d like to open at this point.)
    Thanks for your ongoing thoughts, guys.

    Like

  5. While I would love to comment here I feel as though I would get lost in all of the points and arguments and would thus become more noise, never clearly stating clear points.
    …I have tried for about 25 minutes to make a single cohesive statement and have yet to do so…
    i would love to get together and talk through some of this. perhaps learn from each other and stretch each other… (keep all your beavis comments to yourself please.

    Like

  6. Billy-
    I’d love to hang out and chat about this stuff. (Or just to hang out and not chat about it.)

    Vance:
    Wow.
    That link leads to some very interesting reading. That guy said many of the things I was trying to say.

    Steve:
    You’re kind of a perfect test case for the link Vance posted. On the one hand, you’ve got (in my opinion) pretty traditional training/background. On the other hand, you’re not a slave to this.
    What do you make of the arguments?

    Like

  7. so I said I would comment from a study of these words from the bible. I think the best way to do so would be if you’re interested in throwing out one particular verse and allow the discussion go from there. There are many words that describe “sexual immorality.” There is a general term that covers all fornication (sexual immorality). A biblical definition of what makes sex immoral is a good requirement. There are specific terms that specifically refer to men committing sexual immorality, women committing sexual immorality, a married person committing adultery, the active male in homosexual relations, the passive male in homosexual relations (or being soft or cowardly), those who engage in orgies or sex in excess, all of which are in the context of sexually immoral. There is a word that describes “sex with strange flesh.” Perhaps even in this biblical discussion, one would have to work through the definition of “natural” and “unnatural.” Does having a seemingly biological draw towards homosexuality make it natural? I’m sure a discussion of Old Testament law versus New Testament grace will come up as well as I believe one can’t deny Leviticus 18 in describing what’s unclean, perverse, an abomination, iniquity deserving punishment in the context of sex for the nation of Israel in following a holy God. And if we’re going to hold to Leviticus 18 as a standard of living, must we also follow the rest of the code?

    Like

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s