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.
“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.