Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Opinion...

A few days ago I asked what your opinion was on the topic of homosexuality and if it is a sin. Today, I have started my response. Thank you to each of you who responded whether publicly in a comment or through email and FB. I truly appreciate the spirit in which you all spoke your viewpoint and the passion in which I see all of you desiring to seek the mind of Christ on this issue.

I think that it is very easy to oversimplify Biblical statements when they are just words. When what the Bible says starts to involve people we know and love, that is when it starts to get tricky. Our emotions begin to waver, our hopes to interpret things the way we desire, and at least in my case, the desire to see people truly happy, always muddy the waters. I find myself seeing things less in black and white and more often in varying shades of grey. This is why I want to say RIGHT NOW, that if I, in any post have made the statement that something you, dear reader, are involved in is sinful, that does not mean that I think you are less than human, or worth any less than and of my dearest friends. All of us struggle with things, all of us make poor choices, and all of us need to fall into the arms of a merciful, loving God, who is able to take us from our destructive ways and give us life. I need his life giving forgiveness and I believe the entirety of humanity does as well, all of us, including the pope, the president, and the pedophile. We all need His grace.

As I tackle this issue I see valid points on both sides. While I haven't spent extensive time in mind-bending research, I have tried to consult people on both sides of the issue and take each argument, for or against, with an "open" mind (this even led to a somewhat heated discussion with my mild mannered husband) .

I will approach this by dealing with the Old Testament first (and have provided scripture references from the NASB - please feel free, if you disagree with the translation, to cite, in your comments, a better rendering and why it is more accurate - not just "because I say so" answers.)

The main passages that deal with same-sex relationships are:

Lev 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.

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 blood guiltiness is upon them.


I think that we do need to be careful with these verses, since we no longer regard certain other levitical laws as "applicable" after the coming of Christ. I think there is a fine line when deciding yea or nae, since obviously we can still agree that these laws are still valid regardless of the cultural setting...
18: 10-11'The nakedness of your son's daughter or your daughter's daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for their nakedness is yours. 'The nakedness of your father's wife's daughter, born to your father, she is your sister, you shall not uncover her nakedness.

18:23 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.


However because of our advances in medicine and hygiene this seems a little ridiculous...
Lev 12: 2 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: 'When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean.


Soooo, be careful what you throw out and what you keep in, and don't base your whole theology on one verse.

Next comes the story of Sodom and Gomorrah found in Genesis 19

I won't reiterate the story, you can read it yourself. I can see the valid argument that this passage does not speak directly to the issue. I would however say that one may make the assumption that part of the reason the town was destroyed was because of their lust for sex and the clear illustration that it was male to male intercourse (since they didn't want the girls offered the men.) would suggest that homosexuality was one of the detestable things that made the town wicked.

I would say that if you were a Jewish person who still follows the Levitical laws, there really is no doubt of the view that homosexuality is sinful. However, I think it is important to take the teachings of the New Testament into consideration, since most of us say it is OK to eat pork. (several different views use proof text from Romans 14, Mark 7, and Acts 10 - we can debate this later if you decide it is necessary)

For New Testament teachings regarding homosexuality there are two main texts.

The first is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
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. 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 would seem very straight forward, BUT there is some debate that translators took too much liberty when translating the Greek words arsenokoites and malakoi (homosexuality and effeminate). I can understand that, that is a possibility, however it seems more like a conspiracy theory than real hermeneutics. The best article I have found to counter the theory is found here.

The final verse related to this topic is Romans 1:
25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,

27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,


I know there are theories that say this only related to male prostitution and sex slavery and non-consensual intercourse with young boys... I however cannot swallow this theory. It seems that even if that was the culture that was being spoken to, it does not negate the fact that it was still an "unnatural" function and a "degrading" passion - a product of a "depraved mind" that was eventually their demise. It would be too much of a jump for me to say that Paul was NOT directly addressing the issue of homosexuality.

My opinion is that Paul clearly says that it does not glorify God to be in a sexual relationship (even within the boundaries of marriage) with someone of the same sex.

I also feel that the way God has created humanity, is to function complimentary - as male and female - in family relationships. While we all share our own individual characteristics and traits it would seem that we have been created with distinctly masculine and feminine natures. The masculine needing the feminine (and the feminine needing the masculine ) to give us proper perspectives on life - the little and the big. The Bible also speaks clearly to husbands and wives - never noting the relationship between two men or two women as a family unit.

Wasn't it Mark Twain that said: "It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."? For now I will concentrate what I understand to be true and for me that means being kind, compassionate, and loving to all people.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you Jes, for being so considerate in your two postings concerning this issue. While I do not believe homosexuality, in and of itself, is a sin, I respect your view, and your honest search for the truth. I respect your conclusion as well. I know your heart is compassionate, and I believe that it is compassion that is most necessary in any debate, and most necessary no matter how divergent two worldviews may be.

    I have only one thing to add to what you've said. I do think that is necessary to understand the underlying issues at work in the time and the culture in which any given author of the Bible, Old Testament or New, was writing. Obviously in both Testaments, it was highly imperative that a couple procreate. Children, it can be argued, were the fundamental reason for matrimony. It is not necessarily the case today. Given the two "sins"--postponement of having children in wedded relationships and homosexuality, certainly postponing child-rearing is the lesser of the evils, today. But it should be asked, I think, which would be the lesser in the Old Testament? Barreness, of course, being a different issue, as it is unintentional. Would the many various [non-abortive] birth control methods we have today have been as heavily condemned as homosexuality? And in Paul's day--would a man who enjoyed things normally attributed to the tasks of the woman, tasks of the home, such as cooking, sewing, gardening, etc, be considered "effeminate" and therefore sinful?

    How do we translate the Bible into the 21st century? Is it possible? That is the broader, underlying question, and one that is more worthy of our critical effort and consideration, I think, than whether any one "sin" or another is actually a sin or not.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the thoughtful post. I am largely in agreement with you, in large part because of the I Corinthians 6:9 verse. Here is what I have struggled with lately, however:

    In I Corinthians 11, we read about head coverings in church. Men should not, women should, to glorify God (when was the last time you saw a woman cover her head in church?). There is also a spot where Paul writes about women not wearing outward adornments (sorry, can't find the reference).

    Too often, we interpret these verses in the context of culture. For example, it might be said, "it was culturally sanctioned for a woman to cover her head at the time of Christ, now Culture does not mandate head coverings, so we don't need to."

    How do we decide when we can use the "culturally sanctioned" excuse and when do we not?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just wanted to let you two know that I read your comments and am pondering them, but need more time to digest before I respond. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with you're conclusion and totally appreciate your love and consideration regarding this sensitive issue. If we take 2 Timothy 3:16 seriously and we use proper hermeneutics, it's hard to come to any other conclusion.

    In answer to Jason, we need to study history, Greek and Hebrew, theology and we need to be in constant prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide our understanding. A lot of understanding scriptures like these are about understanding each scripture in context to the rest of the Bible.

    For example, once we study all those things, we learn that the head coverings is not so much about the physical head coverings, and more about attitude and what's going on in someone's heart.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well said, Jes.

    Haha, I have a hard time envisioning Norse in a heated arguement!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much for posting this discussion! It is awesome to see people truly following Christ and truly seeking HIS truth!

    I love the Mark Twain quote. :)

    I like how you stated your opinion and yet left things a little open. (Sorry Norse!) I truly believe there are some things we will never understand about God + the Bible. I believe that claiming we have things all figured out is so not what He had in mind. He likes us to have humility, after all.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Delighted to meet you! Just found your site via CSAHM. I just started this blogging adventure a few months ago, but continue to be amazed at the joy, encouragement, and faith that I find.

    Keep writing, the world is reading.

    Hugs from this missionary mommy,
    Sarah Dawn

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jes thank you so much for this post!! I was just having this conversation with someone from my church who tends to sway away from what the Bible says about things!!! Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for this analysis, Jesica. I think it is really important as Christians to differentiate between the inclination/orientation and the act of homosexuality. We are all born with "stuff" and I do not believe that the inclination is sinful, but rather that what one does with it may be sinful.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Agreed, Rebecca!

    ReplyDelete

I love comments! Tell me what's on your mind!