The New Christians

The New Christians


Comment of the Day

posted by Tony Jones

I’m going to start a new feature here at The New Christians.  Every day — well, almost every day — I’ll post what I consider to be a thoughtful comment that truly adds to the conversation, or a witty comment, or something that strikes my fancy.

Today’s comment o’ the day comes from Jimil:

For our constitutional scholar, there is no right of sodomy, nor is
there a right to sit at a lunch counter, nor is there a right of self
defense. In the United States we have a living constitution that
affirms fundamental liberties. Most recently, Justice Scalia found a
new right of self defense in the Second Amendment and thus protected
the rights of individuals to own handguns for self defense. Similarly,
rights of privacy have been found. It is good that our Supreme Court
protects us from government intrusion in private matters.

For our Bible says so crowd, I suspect you know your argument is
completely flawed. I suspect you know dozens of behaviors condoned by
the Bible that you do not accept (slavery & polygamy) and
restriction you reject (women speaking in church & wearing clothing
of mixed threads). I’m not sure why you would bother posting something
so dishonest. You did not open the Bible and discover a revelation that
homosexuality was wrong.

This, is a serious point, “The person who hates homosexuals will say
‘go ahead, there’s nothing wrong with it’. But true love warns of
dangers.” I believe in my heart that those who suggest the love of gays
& lesbians is equivalent to smoking are harming gays and lesbians.
I think it is evil and missing the lesson of Jesus Christ that it is
Love and not Tradition that acts as our guide. That said, I recognize
the concern, and I take you at your word.

The world is evolving out of this prejudice. Soon, we will look back
at this as we know looked back on prohibitions against interracial
marriage. Then, as now, people called the relationships unnatural and
worried about the children. Then, as know, there were many hateful
bigots attacking people with wickedness in their hearts. But, then, as
now, there were people genuinely concerned and worried for the fellow
humans. I disagree strongly, but I respect the position.



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A Walker

posted November 25, 2008 at 10:07 am


“The world is evolving out of this prejudice”
Rather, marriage is rooted in the fact that heterosexual sex procreates the worldwide citizenry, and this is not evolving or changing at any significant level of incidence.
Marriage is a legal contract for heterosexuals alone because:
(1) heterosexual sex is wildly procreative, which places women and their inevitable children at grave material and economic risk of abandonment by the male spouse (thus the need for contractual/legal recourse)
(2) heterosexuals are held responsible for the life-long care of the children they sire (thus the need for contractual/legal recourse)
(3) children have a normative right to long-range care and education from the people who sire them (thus the need for contractual/legal recourse)
Homosexuals simply do not have any such situation arising from their relationships. Thus, the traditional marriage law is not designed around their reality and cannot be re-written around their reality without legally harming the billions of children produced via heterosexual sex.



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H.S.

posted November 25, 2008 at 11:20 am


Walker, if what you say is an adequate and complete definition of marriage, then we ought to allow polygyny, we ought to make divorce illegal and we ought not to allow women past the age of menopause or men or women who are proven to be sterile or infertile to marry.
I fail to understand how my homosexual sister-in-law’s marriage interferes with my husband’s and my commitment to our children.



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Jay

posted November 25, 2008 at 12:33 pm


Not to detract from the bigger conversation, but the Bible does not “condone” slavery or polygamy, much less homosexuality.
Just because something was practiced by Biblical characters, that was no indication of God’s approval. How did polygamy work out for those early OT characters who practiced it? They didn’t exactly have healthy families that were void of strife, did they?
And slavery is neither overtly condemned, nor overtly condoned. It is simply mentioned as a reality. Paul’s point in saying “slaves obey your earthly masters” is to realize that the eternal purpose of pleasing God and exhibiting a behavior that attracts others to the faith is penultimate to earthly freedom. He’s not saying, “isn’t this a great thing people practice?”, but rather recognizing the reality of the world.
Those who make the case for banning interracial marriage misunderstand OT passages about God’s chosen people intermarrying with non-Israelites who would (and did) lead them into idolatry. And the NT passage about being “unequally yoked” is clearly about believers and non-believers. So, the Bible doesn’t forbid interracial marriages, either.
The Bible does, however, condemn homosexual behavior in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 9. You can disagree with it, deny the authority of Scripture, or take an “progressive revelation” view if you like, but the Bible does stand against homosexual behavior in the New Testament and apart from the Law. Come on, people…stop using the things of the Law that were not reinforced in the New Testament to argue. We are not Israel, and Jesus fulfilled the Law.



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Sean

posted November 25, 2008 at 1:07 pm


Nine biblical citations are customarily invoked as relating to homosexuality. Four (Deuteronomy 23:17, 1 Kings 14:24, I Kings 22:46 and II Kings 23:7) simply forbid prostitution by men and women.
Two others (Leviticus 18:19-23 and Leviticus 20:10-16) are part of what biblical scholars call the Holiness Code. The code explicitly bans homosexual acts. But it also prohibits eating raw meat, planting two different kinds of seed in the same field and wearing garments with two different kinds of yarn. Tattoos, adultery and sexual intercourse during a woman’s menstrual period are similarly outlawed.
There is no mention of homosexuality in the four Gospels of the New Testament. The moral teachings of Jesus are not concerned with the subject.
Three references from St. Paul are frequently cited (Romans 1:26-2:1, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and I Timothy 1:10). But St. Paul was concerned with homosexuality only because in Greco-Roman culture it represented a secular sensuality that was contrary to his Jewish- Christian spiritual idealism. He was against lust and sensuality in anyone, including heterosexuals. To say that homosexuality is bad because homosexuals are tempted to do morally doubtful things is to say that heterosexuality is bad because heterosexuals are likewise tempted. For St. Paul, anyone who puts his or her interest ahead of God’s is condemned, a verdict that falls equally upon everyone.
And lest we forget Sodom and Gomorrah, recall that the story is not about sexual perversion and homosexual practice. It is about inhospitality, according to Luke 10:10-13, and failure to care for the poor, according to Ezekiel 16:19·50: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” To suggest that Sodom and Gomorrah is about homosexual sex is an analysts [analysis?] of about as much worth as suggesting that the story of Jonah and the whale is a treatise on fishing.



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karen

posted November 25, 2008 at 1:12 pm


just like Jesus said, ‘it would be just like the days of Sodom and Gomorrah and the days of Noah ‘. We are there in more ways than one, thanks to people like Jones who play right into Satan’s hand.
That’s ok, it just means we are closer to Christ returning to fix this mess, and I say ‘please hurry’, before more innocent children are born into this crazy world of Satan’s.
How much you want to bet, Jones will be the first in line to take the mark of the beast along with all the followers he has? It’s not like he hasn’t been warned enough already! He’s too blind to even know what the mark of the beast is, along with main-stream Christianity, and it’s as plain as the nose on any ones face, and simple enough that even a child can figure it out. Oh well, the door will be closing if it isn’t already.



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A Walker

posted November 25, 2008 at 1:23 pm


HS said: if what you say is an adequate and complete definition of marriage, then we ought to allow polygyny
A Walker replies: polygamy was indeed procreative and protective of women and children in the ancient world, and was permitted by God during the tribal era. However, it has become impossible for a spouse to provide for all those people. But the traditional heterosexual marriage law continues to fit the heterosexual family reality for one man and one woman.
HS said: we ought to make divorce illegal
A Walker: divorce used to be illegal and must again be made illegal, if we are to provide legal recourse to women and children abandoned by an unscrupulous parent. “No-fault divorce” was a societal nuke bomb dropped on women and children.
HS said: we ought not to allow women past the age of menopause or men or women who are proven to be sterile or infertile to marry.
A Walker: as for infertility, it is a rare medical defect. Why would we need to redefine our entire marriage code around a rare medical defect/deviation from the norm of fertile heterosexuality?
As for menopausal marriages (another super rare case), most women I know in their 40s and early 50s have plenty of children to care for. So, if their husband dies, they are desperately seeking both economic and child-rearing help by marrying again. So even here, the focus of the contract is on family, not personal romance or love.
Finally, it is very rare indeed for 60+ women to marry. So, we wouldn’t re-write the marriage norms that fit 99.9% of heterosexuals just because we can identify .01% of exceptions.



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Standing on Two Sides

posted November 25, 2008 at 1:55 pm


This converation has me a bit confused and frustrated. People are saying that because the Bible lumps homosexual action with things like planting 2 seeds and so forth that we should not regard homosexual relations as wrong. People are also saying that because the volume of a woman’s voice in church and what she wears were cultural aspects that have changed that we should allow homosexuality because it must be a cultural hot spot for Paul as well.
When I look at Scripture, and I do not consider myself versed in this argument, it appears to me that when Paul makes an argument he is not talking about loving homosexual marriages. He is talking about the act of homosexual relations. I suppose one could argue than that Paul is not opposed to homosexual marriage…as long as the couple never consumate that marriage. This would be ridiculous.
I stil fall on the conservative (if I must use the word) side of the issue. I don’t condone homosexual marriage. I’m open to conversation and could very well see my decision change. But for now, it seems too cut and dry for me…
…until I consider others. The feelings and experiences of my fellow human beings, homosexuals especially, are important. Correct, we should not change rules and beliefs because someone feels restricted by them. However, I have found it is much more Christ-like to err on love, than to err on judgement or doctrine.
So I suppose I am, as I said, standing on two sides.



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Todd Burus

posted November 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm


To say that “Paul is not opposed to homosexual marriage” is to say that when Paul speaks about marriage (1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5.22-33) he tacitly supports SSM as well, even though this would be an argument from silence.
Particularly in 1 Corinthians 7.2 where is says that, “because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each MAN should have his own WIFE and each WOMAN her own HUSBAND,” I think the pattern is clear (And before you argue against the gender usage in this text, please note that the whole passage is wrought with clear gender specifications). Thus, either Paul does not think it is beneficial in avoiding sexual immorality for a man to marry another man (because, I don’t know, maybe he thinks gay relationships are sexually immoral, *gasp*), or Paul thinks it is viable and just decides not to say it. (Or of course maybe Paul was highly advanced and had the 20th century concept of gender confusion 2000 years early). Please rethink this position and try and handle the text honestly, without loading it up with all of our own “enlightened” ideas.



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Todd Burus

posted November 25, 2008 at 2:25 pm


By the way, as for the comment o’ the day, I wonder if it got that title for being overly cliche or if this is actually an indication of how Tony thinks. As has already been said too many times to just keep ignoring, the Bible does not “condone” slavery & polygamy in any where near the sense that it condemns homosexuality. As well, interracial or black marriage is no where near the same issue as SSM, particularly since being gay is not a race. (Why is there not more outrage from the black community about these comparisons?)
It is amazing to me that the comment o’ the day could have been just as well written by a second grader talking about what they’ve heard on the playground as it could by someone who is being pawned off as having seriously thought about this issue. Hopefully we can get better arguments than that going here.



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Tim B

posted November 25, 2008 at 3:05 pm


RE: the second paragraph addressed to the “Bible says so crowd.” What I would like to know is how is it “a thoughtful comment that truly adds to the conversation” to blatantly mock any interpretation of the Bible that finds the Bible prohibiting homosexual behavior? The comment sadly ignores the complexity of the argument by irresponsibly marshalling examples of slavery, polygamy, and prohibition for two kinds of threads as if this solves it. Those who argue that the Bible bindingly prohibits homosexuality are far more judicious in handling such difficulties than the person who uses such examples to flippantly and off-handedly dismiss far clearer statements in Scripture. I recognize a blog comment box isn’t the best place to mount a full-scale exegesis of all the complex examples but neither is it the place for such cavalier and condescending dismissal. One has a responsibility to fairly represent one’s opponents even in the most rigorous of disagreements.
How is it not Pharisaical to claim to love open dialogue and conversation while openly assaulting one side as being intentionally and deliberately dishonest at the same time offering only little more than a haughty disregard of the position and counter arguments that they actually articulate? It is bearing false witness to call someone dishonest in one breadth and completely ignore their actual treatment of such issues in another. Physician heal thyself.



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budcath

posted November 25, 2008 at 4:24 pm


I wrote this about the abortion issue, but it is applicable to all of the my way is better than your way stuff going on. The last thing we need in America is for one Religion to call all the shots. I am a cradle catholic. Stopped going to church when I was a teenager and could say I’m not going anymore. I grew up in the south and the church was segregated. This was a big issue to me as an older child and teenager. One of our parish priests was an bad alcoholic and caused scandal. Over the years, I’ve become a Buddhist, a Bahai, and a Lutheran. But now, I am drawn back to the church. It’s about the Mass, the intellectual heritage, monasticism and the ritual. I could not find that satisfaction elsewhere. I disagree with the church hierarchy on some isssues, I don’t really follow the bishops pronouncements. I live my faith from the heart and the mind. As one philosophical entertainer (Alan Watts, and british born Episopal priest from the 60’s)said. America fought a revolution to become an independent, democratic nation. And yet we supposedly long to die and go to heaven, where we will be back in a monarchy. So, I’m a cafeteria catholic, but the church is more than the Pope and bishops. It’s all of us. And if you look at the example of history (recently gay, pedophile, etc.) plus the inquisition etc. There is no compelling need to follow every pronouncement from the Vatican or bishops, duh, they are sometimes wrong. We are all just people trying to figure out our way in life. Even the Pope. The church is all of us. I love the Catholic church and hope that all faiths can learn to at least respect one another. By the way, I think abortion and capital punishment are wrong (sanctity of life, possibility of redemption), but we live in a secular society with a separation of church and state, as it should be. Abortion is only one of the evils in our society (human trafficing, genocide, extreme materialism that has brought our great nation to the point of collapse. We should do what we can, but only God can intervene and really change things. This is a fallen world and we do not have the capacity to save it ourselves.



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Taekwondodad

posted November 25, 2008 at 7:08 pm


Sad how words like tradition and love are torn apart, for if tradition is anything it is that Charity means the love of God above all things. As a Catholic you cannot separate the Word Tradition from the Word Charity, for it is the Tradition of the Catholic Church to put the Charity of God above all things. To miss that is reason by which so many like yourself see and evolving church – still looking for what is the simple truth.
Charity towards God means that you love him, first, because in His Passion He has asked you “What have I not done for you, so that you would love me?” This separation you call for is void of all meaning. For it is tradition, that ask a gay person the very same question as you have been. Charity is the highest of all virtues that God bestows on us if we just ask for it.



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Korey

posted November 25, 2008 at 9:25 pm


Karen,
I’m not too blind. I saw the film “Like a Thief in the Night” at my church when I was a kid. I thought the rapture had happened many times afterward when I’d awake from a nap or come home and find no one around — thinking I’d been left behind. It scared the sh*t out of me.



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Your Name

posted November 25, 2008 at 9:28 pm


The Crunchy Con’s post from yesterday leaves me confused. He admits that straight people are doing far more than gays to mess up the sanctity of marriage. Then he goes on to state that gays are indeed a threat (a mere 2-10% of the population, depending on the source). I believe it’s best to keep one’s own yard clean before complaining about the junk in someone else’s. Maybe the focus should be on the 90-98% of straight Americans–calling them on the carpet on divorce, infidelity, etc.–rather than pointing fingers at the small percentage of lgbt persons.
There are those who say that the passing of SSM will affect religious liberty, and that in fact the religious are now being persecuted because of their expressions regarding SSM. In Communist Russia, Romania, etc., people were killed by the millions for their faith. They, unlike Americans, were not free to live out their beliefs in peace. To say that American Christians are oppressed because some disagree with their vocalizations on morality and their efforts to enforce their beliefs on others is going overboard.
I, like the Con, am affiliated with the Orthodox Church. Generally, you will not see Orthodox Christians raving about the issue of SSM as many Evangelicals and a good number of Catholics tend to do. The first and foremost rule of being an Orthodox Christian is to focus on “me,” and “my sins,” and to not worry about what anyone else is doing. I am therefore a bit dismayed that Mr. Dreher has remained as focused as he has in his blogs on gay issues, something that in all honesty has no effect on his life whatsoever.



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budcath

posted November 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm


Thanks for your comments. I would love for America to be guided by golden rule, but it is not and never has been. Indians, slavery, jim crow, terrible injustice toward our fellow human beings. But we can be better. I do not support abortion, captial punishment, homosexuality or gay marriage personally. That is a religious and moral stance. But, I know gay people and they are not horrible folks and should be treated as the golden rule says. I don’t understand why they are the way they are, but their fate is in God’s hands. But to me the important thing about the separation of churce and state, is that if we lose that, someday, Judaeo-Christians might not be in the majority and we would have to succumb to authoritarian rule by some other religion (the most likely would be Islam the way they are growing in numbers around the world). They take be fruitful and multiply seriously and I believe for them abortion is also a sin. The world is changing fast my friend, and is getting so complicated.



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Todd Burus

posted November 26, 2008 at 12:29 am


budcath,
I find your testimony very interesting: “Over the years, I’ve become a Buddhist, a Bahai, and a Lutheran. But now, I am drawn back to the church. It’s about the Mass, the intellectual heritage, monasticism and the ritual. I could not find that satisfaction elsewhere. I disagree with the church hierarchy on some isssues, I don’t really follow the bishops pronouncements. I live my faith from the heart and the mind.”
Let me ask a question. Is there anywhere in here a transformational experience of faith, where you were “caused to be born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1.3) and come under “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3.5)? It is one thing to say that your beliefs have been influenced by a particular stream of church thinking, it is quite another to say that you “have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2.20). This may be the cause for your break with us wacky conservatives.



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JimII

posted November 26, 2008 at 4:43 pm


Standing on Two Sides wrote, “People are saying that because the Bible lumps homosexual action with things like planting 2 seeds and so forth that we should not regard homosexual relations as wrong.”
Just to be clear, that is not what I am saying. I am saying that because you don’t care about planting 2 seeds and so forth, you cannot say that the reason you believe homosexual relations are wrong is that the Bible says so. If you followed every rule that Paul put out in his letters, than it would at least be internally consistent to say that the love gay people have for one another is a sin, because you followed everything Paul said.
That DOES NOT mean that homosexuality is okay. It only means the discussion doesn’t end with citing Paul’s letters.
For example, what if I said during a debate about welfare reform, “The early church requirement members to give all of their money to the community to support the poor, so real Christians can’t vote against taxes that go to the poor.” That would be wrong for many reasons, but a major problem with it is that I don’t live the life of the early church. Now, I still think we should support the poor, but I have a lot more explaining to do than pointing to a scripture.
That’s my point. It interferes with our discourse to claim that Paul’s prohibition against sexual immorality is the end of the inquiry.



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