The New Christians

The New Christians


The Complexity of Gender

posted by Tony Jones

It seems to me that the same people who take the stance that the Bible has a plain meaning in all cases also seem to assume that human sexuality is a pretty simple manner. 

  • There are men and there are women.
  • Men are attracted to women and women are attracted to men.
  • Any variance from that is an abnormality.

Watch the video below the jump, then let’s talk…

My immediate reaction, I must admit, upon seeing Caster Semenya was that she does indeed present as relatively “masculine.” But then I had to check myself. How one presents and what one’s genetics say about one’s gender do not necessary match up. And further, very many of the impressions about what is “masculine” and what is “feminine” are socially constructed. I’m not saying that’s bad — social constructions are what they are, and I neither want to extricate myself from them, nor do I even thinks that’s possible.

But what is society to do with those whose sexuality is not so straightforward as male or female? And, to the point of this blog, what is the church to do? As I wrote last month, I have a new friend who is a hermaphrodite, and this friend has challenged my assumptions about gender. For I thought that a person, genetically tested, would know conclusively their genetic gender, regardless of their genitalia. But, in fact, my friend just received genetic test results, and they showed XYXY, which means something other than genetically male or genetically female. Testing levels of testosterone and estrogen have also been part of my friend’s journey, but they, too, are ambivalent.

So, we’re left with yet another modern conundrum that Jesus and Paul (and the other authoritative voices in our tradition(s)) didn’t ever address, and we don’t know if they ever even knew about (being that they were both, presumably, celibate, unmarried men).

Not everyone is unequivocally male or female. We must deal with that.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(49)
post a comment
Ed

posted August 20, 2009 at 12:11 pm


I think that my biggest concern with this set of posts is the group of people who find the issue through a cut-and-dry lens. Tony, I know you already responded to the “not intellectually compelling” nature of some of the posts, but I don’t really understand how others still seem to take that side. With an issue so confusing, so variant and so open-ended, I don’t see any need for blaring claims or open and shut ideas on either end.
Granted, culture has cleary made some changes in the last 2000-3000 odd years. But we weren’t given a ‘just say when’ time period when some things where no longer relevant, important or meaningful.
There have been several thoughts raised that make a lot of sense for either side of the argument, but please, let’s remain open to both of those sides.
Like Tony said, it’s not as straightforward as male and female, maybe it never was, but now we have a better understanding of all the complexities. To claim that it’s not complex seems ignorant.
Sin has entered the earth and everything is in its bondage, and we can’t judge the hearts of each other (at least not well).
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22



report abuse
 

Marian

posted August 20, 2009 at 12:14 pm


Oddly enough, the Talmud, which was written over much of the same timespan as the New Testament, DOES deal with sexual ambiguities such as hermaphroditism (although of course, without the sophisticated knowledge of X’s and Y’s.) So the issue was by no means unheard-of at the time.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted August 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm


Good work, Tony.
Truly, the tendency of the hateful ones to attack us for not being stereotypes of their one and only version of god’s will has less and less basis in fact with every new discovery.
All that is left for them is to deny God’s natural world and to press forward on their agenda of hate.
As long as we are posting our wishes for you (and aren’t you lucky to have us tell you how to manage your blog?) would you mind terribly debunking all these christianist Bibles which contain the term ‘homosexual’? Just as I am limited to reading the Bible in Latin (and very slowly in Greek) because I can’t read Hebrew, so are the conservative Christians here handicapped by the hateful translations they are basing their comments on.



report abuse
 

Korey

posted August 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm


I was just reading some discussion of evolutionary origins of sexual behaviors. It’s clear to me that many secular thinkers in the realms of cognitive science, neuroscience, evolution, anthropology, etc., dismiss monogamy as having hardly any substantive basis. This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered such thinking, but it is the most recent:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-dawn/200908/who-destroys-the-marriage-cheating-husband-betrayed-wife-or-other-woman
http://scienceblogs.com/primatediaries/2009/08/those_cheating_testicles_or_who.php
Their take might be summarized as: “If the dominant cultural practices of civilization smack of religion, then they must be of no value to human well being.”
I am what is typically called a theistic evolutionist. My approach to religion and science is heavily influenced by John Haught and ctns.org, but there are many others such as Philip Clayton who seems like a well known name around here. I also support monogamous homosexual relationships. I’m inclined to think there is a sound biblical basis to do so. Compassion and acceptance on this matter also cohere with my faith and my understanding of God as revealed through Scripture.
And yet, I recognize the anxiety on this matter and the fear of a growing tolerance of many forms of sexual expression that I would find unacceptable as a Christian (I’ll leave aside whether such things should be legal). So I think the burden is high for Christians who think committed monogamous homosexual relationships are compatible with Christianity. I think it is worth it and I accept that it will generate exceedingly intense debate. It’s a dramatic change in thinking and naturally will need a sound defense to alleviate fears that monogamous homosexual relationships alone are under consideration and that these do no neccesarily entail a devaluation or erosion of biblical sexual ethics.



report abuse
 

ben w.

posted August 20, 2009 at 1:25 pm


Tony, please stop setting up straw men of conservative evangelical theology (“people who take the stance that the Bible has a plain meaning in all cases” – who says this? seriously??) Maybe you could bring the ideas of some prominent, thoughtful evangelical scholars into the discussion and interact substantively with them. Even the Chicago Statement on Biblical Innerancy doesn’t make such claims of biblical interpretation (“clear in all cases.”) Yes, there are simplistic evangelicals, but there are also simplistic liberals. Better would be to interact with the best ideas the other side has to offer, rather than dismissing the worst.
I personally haven’t thought deeply about the sexuality of a hermaphrodite, although, it seems that Jesus DOES speak to in Matthew 19:10ff – “The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” (this is a preliminary thought, so I offer feedback, although please be substantive, not reactionary.)
I don’t want to kill, hurt or take away the rights of homosexuals. I personally am fine with civil union and don’t understand why the state ever got into the practice of conferring “marriage licenses.” (this is to be left to the church). I want homosexuals to be free from all persecution and violence, and would stand up for any gay person in a bar fight if a “so-called Christian” (or other person) was threatening you with violence. BUT, the question on the table is what is the Church’s response, and there, I have to side with one aspect of Christian living that the Bible has made clear: homosexual practice is a sin. Being born with homosexual desires is not a sin (just like being born with a tendency toward lying, addictions, or heterosexual promiscuity), but the practice is. If this means a life of celibacy, then it’s a shame that the good Lord has given one that lot, but there are greater pleasures to be had, namely being in eternal communion with the living God.



report abuse
 

Ed

posted August 20, 2009 at 2:32 pm


Panthera,
What are your thoughts on sins interruption (if you think there is one) in the natural (ie, outside human) world?
A great amount of your posts refer to science and nature pointing in unison towards homosexuality. I’m not taking either side, and I’ve tried my darndest to read these posts with a heart of understanding and learning. Mostly, I’m curious on your thoughts as one of the most frequently noted voices in these threads.
Thanks.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted August 20, 2009 at 2:55 pm


Ed,
I fear that the term ‘sins interruption’ has no meaning for me in the English language. Sorry, not being a native speaker I sometimes encounter terminology which is unfamiliar.
Do note, please, I am also a Christian.
Outside of the United States, especially in Europe, Christians tend to focus more on the natural world God has given us as it is and less on the scientific understanding of people five to two thousand years ago.



report abuse
 

Jim

posted August 20, 2009 at 3:25 pm


Tony’s call for sensitive thinking on this issue is a very worthy one. However, I find in many discussions that the statement, “things aren’t always clear” frequently becomes, “nothing is clear,” over the course of the conversation. I’m afraid that the statement “in rare cases, gender may not be easily (or at all) discoverable” could become, without argument, “gender is never completely discoverable.”
I hope we don’t go there. Some people aren’t clearly male or female, very true. But the vast majority of people are clearly male or female. Ambiguities are the exception, not the rule. The fact that they exist invalidate no-one’s gender-theologies. It is true, still, to say, “Male and female he created them.”



report abuse
 

John Umland

posted August 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm


My first thoughts went to where ben w’s did, Matthew 19. My other thought is genetic testing is something new. Until then, I presume your gender would be determined by the presence or absence of a penis. Not much more one can do in a less scientific society. The physiology would then define which gender your future spouse should be. Per Jesus’s insight, if one isn’t attracted to the opposite gender, one should consider celibacy for the sake of the kingdom.
God is good
jpu



report abuse
 

ABJ

posted August 20, 2009 at 4:57 pm


John Umland: “If one isn’t attracted to the opposite gender, one should consider celibacy for the sake of the kingdom.”
We’re not being “asked to consider” it… we’re being told by our churches that God grants us no alternative. How we “consider” that option doesn’t factor into the response.
Are you married? (If not, imagine how you’d want it to happen.) Remember when you fell in love with your spouse? How the sight of him or her filled you with joy, made you feel like you were lifted off your feet? Remember how thoughts of him or her brought a smile to your face no matter where you were? Maybe that’s how you *still* feel about your spouse…
…which would be a shame, because it was sin. You displeased God with your lustful thoughts. Your infatuation was a symptom of your depraved nature. You should have rejected those stirrings and separated yourself from that person. You are not allowed. You have no choice but to be celibate if you want to please God.
“Consider” that.



report abuse
 

Ed

posted August 20, 2009 at 5:03 pm


Panthera,
Thanks for the response, and sorry for the confusion. I guess what I mean is, what role or what effect do you think that sin has in the natural world? I think that we would both agree that sin plays a role in our day to day lives, as much as we try to escape it, its presence is undeniable. I’m curious if you feel the same for creation outside of humanity.
Thanks again!



report abuse
 

panthera

posted August 20, 2009 at 5:49 pm


John Umland, would you be so kind as to reveal to us just exactly how you came to be Jesus’ own personal, private confidant on this topic?
Ed, if I understand you correctly, you are suggesting one can not equate homosexuality in non-human species with homosexuality in humans as humans are the only species capable of separating ourselves from God…which is the definition of sin.
Is that right?



report abuse
 

John G

posted August 20, 2009 at 5:54 pm


The Bible emphasizes that Christians owe love and justice to all persons—homosexuals expressly included—and ought to be the special harbingers of love and justice toward the outcast. This message is, unfortunately, most often found in books that tend toward permissiveness where homosexual practice is concerned; some books even defend “evangelical homosexuality”(!) as under certain circumstances moral.
Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott emphasize on the one hand that homosexuals are not a different species of humanity but are to be counted among the “neighbors” to whom justice and love are due; on the other hand—incredibly, if this is meant to give an overall picture of American evangelical Christianity—they contend that possibly 25 percent of many evangelical congregations are homosexually oriented (Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?). It is simplistic, they say, to think that conversion will automatically turn homosexuals into heterosexuals. They prefer to deal with “evangelical homosexuals” as “weaker brethren.” They argue that to exclude homosexuals from God’s kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9–11) is to place them under law rather than under grace, and suggest that the silence of biblical writers about “confirmed homosexuality” (permanent relationships) may indicate apostolic ignorance of such practices.
Actually such an appeal to the possible ignorance of biblical writers as conditioning their moral verdicts has multiple implications for biblical authority, since the inspired writers nowhere inform us where or when ignorance qualifies their views. Scanzoni and Mollenkott reject as homophobia any tendency to consider homosexuals as abnormal, and outline a “homosexual Christian ethic” that requires covenantal union (p. 122). The overall implication is that Christians can approve the morality of homosexuality; for such a position, however, the authors provide no persuasive biblical support. Church membership for acknowledged homosexuals and the ordination of homosexuals they approve on the ground of the priesthood of all believers.
Lewis Smedes rightly reminds us that any discussion of homosexuality by the Christian ought to reflect the fact that human life is divinely “inlaid with certain channels which form the limits of certain kinds of behavior” and that “heterosexual union is the inlaid channel within which human sexuality is meant to be given its full expressions” (“Smedes’ Eight Theses,” p. 8). Scanzoni challenges the latter thesis on the ground that it allows no place for hermaphrodites, transsexuals and homosexuals; she proposes, instead, “a living, committed covenantal union” (cf. Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Eph. 5:31) for maintaining any and all sexual relationships (“On Homosexuality: A Response to Smedes,” pp. 8–9).
The presence of tragic anomalies in nature—in fallen nature at that—is no basis on which to elaborate normative Christian ethics, however, any more than is the fact that even regenerate believers cannot attain sinless perfection in this life. Surely we do not declare the laws of reason invalid because hundreds of thousands of psychotics disregard them, and imbeciles automatically so. Certainly the fundamental importance of covenanted love should not be minimized. But such love provides no moral basis for rationalizing the rightness of homosexual relationships. Permanent homosexual relationships are no more moral than are impermanent homosexual relationships; for all their emphasis on the ideal of constancy, they nonetheless preserve constancy in a context of moral wrong. Smedes has put the point well: “Life within the ‘inlaid channel’ can be pretty rotten. But the channel offers a basic, because human, support for a very good life. Life outside the channel, as homosexual life is, lacks that support; homosexual experience will always lack the essential ingredient of gender differentness that fulfils our personal incompleteness—the ingredient of heterosexuality” (“A Reply,” p. 13).
To rewrite biblical ethics in terms of a romantic theory of covenantal love predicated on divinely disapproved relationships provides a precedent, however compassionate may be its intention, for inverting the morality of Scripture at many points, and accommodates a new morality that is just as alien to scriptural revelation as is the new theology.
The debate over homosexuality reflects in many ways the contemporary pursuit of a novel humanity that focuses not on Jesus Christ as transcendently and ideally mirroring the image of God as its fixed norm, but that seeks instead the projection of a subjectively affirmed self-image. This philosophy of self-assertion takes contrary and even contradictory positions concerning many traditional ethical values; its lack of agreement, in fact, is considered compatible with a pluralistic and individualistic approach to authentic selfhood. It helps the cause of homosexuality not at all that Jesus was unmarried, for his singular redemptive vocation, not a universal example, was what underlay this aspect of his life; those who argue that celibacy is a moral alternative if one cannot for psychological or other reasons enter into permanent heterosexual relationships are on firmer ground than those who approve homosexuality. No less than the newer cults of psychological self-fulfillment, certain discussions of women’s liberation or of black power, like certain scientific projections of cloning dramatically different human beings, as well as the advocacy of homosexuality as a new and approved “third way” of interpersonal relationships, point toward experimental patterns which are radically discontinuous with the normal course of human history.



report abuse
 

Ed

posted August 20, 2009 at 6:24 pm


Panthera,
Not quite, but I think you may have given me some more insight anyways. Basically, I believe that all of creation: rocks, trees, summer, winter, animals, humans, physiology and yes, sexuality (both homosexual and heterosexual) is under the influence of sin. I’m curious whether or not you think that sin exists outside the human species. I wouldn’t argue that animals, rocks, trees etc…could or could not differentiate between sin and not.
Romans 8:22 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (and the few verses preceding)
It seems to me that nature or ‘natural law’, at least as far as the homo/heterosexuality goes, is not the place to find a resolution. The main reason I say this is that I see great possibility that nature is just as likely to be affected by sin as any human being.
Agree, Disagree, or Something totally different?
Thanks again!



report abuse
 

undefined

posted August 20, 2009 at 6:57 pm


About 15 years ago I met a woman named “Jan” at a party I attended. We immediately hit it off and became close friends. We connected and shared hours of conversation, just like any two close girlfriends would do. Then Jan disclosed to me her real name was Bill – That she had once been married to a man, and had 2 children; that she was engaged to a military man (who actually was paying for her re-assignment surgery)and that she felt so disenfranchised from most of society. At the time I met her, I was married to a man in the ministry. I had been raised strict Baptist, attended a Baptist college, went through seminary with my husband, and was familiar with the conservative, fundamentalist view of such matters. But Jan defied everything I had ever heard and been taught. She had been rejected by her family, as you can only imagine, and struggled with how to be a parent to her children, yet honor her own sexuality and identity issues. We talked every day and I related to her as a woman, not a man. It was the beginning of a whole new way of looking at my theology, what the Bible taught about sexuality, and what it meant to be a follower of Christ. I’m going to leave the actual “theological debate” of this subject to those of you who are more scholarly in this matter, but from a personal perspective I have learned that sexuality is not so simple, there are no easy answers (even if you think there are…), that these issues involve human beings that are worthy of respect and dignity, and that Christ died for all of His creation… I owe Jan a debt of gratitude for showing me a better way.



report abuse
 

confused & hurting sinner

posted August 20, 2009 at 7:16 pm


most of the previous comments seem somewhat educated albeit cold & clincal. To me the elephant in the room that everyone seemed to ignore is a person that is transgender or no discernible gender is still a feeling, loving, human even if not treated like one by society. They are not a tree, rock or animal. they want to be cared about & cherished by God & others the same as everyone else. try to put yourself in there place. you are born you basically look like other children in most aspects its just your diaper fits differently & your emotions & thoughts don’t line up with your peers maybe you don’t care on the outside or maybe you show it but either way it scars. you have to live your whole existence fitting no where. even the every day thing of need a restroom presents real & painful challenges. now cliches about rocks & trees because that doesn’t matter one iota to this person all they want to know is can they have friends, dreams, ambitions, & a relationship with God. if your this person do you want to hear theological mumbojumbo or existential theoretical ramblings? or do you just want to here your loved, cared about, & valued?? think on that please & contemptible what you would want to here & try to respond to others the same way because you never know who your talking to.



report abuse
 

Joel

posted August 20, 2009 at 7:19 pm


I agree with what Ben W said.
The strawmen that Tony uses for his argument against conservative Christians are getting very, very, very, very old.
Regardless, the Bible does (in a way) address the issue; remain celibate. I know the idea of self-sacrifice and following the Lord’s calling is quite taboo in our current culture, but that’s what He wants.



report abuse
 

Chuck

posted August 20, 2009 at 7:40 pm


Tony, thanks for this discussion. Both intriguing and intellectually/theologically challenging. I do agree that many things are not as simple as we’d like to admit and I also recognize we don’t face some of the more complex challenges like this. However, could you explain how some exceptions or potential what-ifs (about anything) would justify re-defining normality?
i understand that defining “normality” could be subjective. however, i do think the question could still be addressed – at least in general/principle.
thanks.



report abuse
 

ABJ

posted August 20, 2009 at 7:57 pm


Being told how to live my entire life in two glib words, and having the insult added that I’m not really interested in self-sacrifice or following the Lord: and Joel wonders why people call his words hateful.



report abuse
 

Tony Jones

posted August 20, 2009 at 8:07 pm


Joel, Ben W, et al,
I don’t mean to stereotype all conservatives as those who find a plain meaning in every passage of scripture. I know there are many who struggle with the perplexities around context, redactions, etc.
But, you must admit by reading through the comments, that 4 out of 5 comments by conservatives here are basically, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”



report abuse
 

Mordred08

posted August 20, 2009 at 8:25 pm


Joel: “The strawmen that Tony uses for his argument against conservative Christians are getting very, very, very, very old.”
The arguments that conservative Christians use against the LGBT community are…well, they’ve been old for a long time now. Let me rephrase that: the religious excuses (“The Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman”, “Jesus said marriage was between a man and a woman”, etc.) are ancient. The various conspiracy theories/horror stories/blatant lies that your side comes up with on a regular basis (“they’re gonna put preachers in prison”, “they’re gonna brainwash our kids”, etc.) are fairly new.
“Regardless, the Bible does (in a way) address the issue; remain celibate. I know the idea of self-sacrifice and following the Lord’s calling is quite taboo in our current culture, but that’s what He wants.”
Is it really self-sacrifice if it’s being enforced? Let’s face it: that’s what you people are fighting for. But now we’re fighting back and you simply can’t have that, can you? Hence the conspiracy theories/horror stories/blatant lies I mentioned earlier.



report abuse
 

John G

posted August 20, 2009 at 8:30 pm


Well, Tony, Scripture *is* the epistemological foundation for Christianity. This would include not only metaphysics & epistemology but also morals/ethics. So what is the big deal with “God said it, I believe it, that settles it”? Can you offer a better way?
Perhaps:
“Even if God said it, I don’t feel it or experience it that way, I settle it.”
?



report abuse
 

panthera

posted August 20, 2009 at 8:49 pm


John G.
I thought Jesus was the foundation of Christianity, not the Bible?
Silly me.
How could a long-haired, sandal wearing Jewish Rabi, Son of God, sent to redeem us possibly by the core of my religion?
No wonder my Christianity, which is based on God’s love and forgiveness for my failings has no resemblance to yours.
Good thing that we finally cleared that up.



report abuse
 

panthera

posted August 20, 2009 at 8:50 pm


Ed,
I am going to have to think for awhile. Sorry, but I know you don’t want a glib answer.



report abuse
 

John G

posted August 20, 2009 at 9:13 pm


panthera: “I thought Jesus was the foundation of Christianity, not the Bible?”
JG: How do you suppose you have any *knowledge* that such exists apart from Scripture, i.e. Special Revelation?



report abuse
 

Lisangirls

posted August 20, 2009 at 9:43 pm


Confused and Hurting Sinner — you made my point. (I’m listed as Undefined in a previous post… some reason my name was deleted…) Thanks for sharing the personal side of this discussion! I think its great that we can hear the philosophical and theological arguments for and against GLBT issues, but, I agree, it should not be void of the human, personal element. Both are needed unless our purpose is only to validate our own belief structure vs. learning from one another and influencing our world.



report abuse
 

John G

posted August 20, 2009 at 10:17 pm


Dear confused & hurting sinner, Lisandgirls,
Please understand that the Christian Worldview does not classify a homosexual based on who s/he is personally, rather, what s/he does sexually. It is the act of same-sex sexual activity that distinguishes homosexuals from heterosexuals and has nothing to do with the person. This distinction must be clear and accepted as clear if any fruitful discussion is to take place in this conversation.
This gives us the basis for which we can love the sinner despite the sin. This applies to us only, not to God (he hates the sinner and the sin, not just the sin). With this knowledge, it is an act of love to make known God’s position on this to the homosexual and demonstrate kindness, patience, and understanding in the process.



report abuse
 

Jim

posted August 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm


There are two arguments here that we ought to dispense with. First, Tony, just because an argument is made by four out of five blog posters doesn’t stop it from being a straw man. You should interact with the best arguments, not the worst. It’s responsible, and the only way to really change things.
Second, responding to “Please stop making straw men of our arguments,” with “No, you’re the ones making straw men” isn’t helpful. What’s helpful is to try and truly, sympathetically, lovingly, understand the other’s position, even if it seems repulsive at first.



report abuse
 

John Umland

posted August 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm


Hi John G, great job.
Hi ABJ, I’m not sure how different a gay Christian’s experience is from a believer in a minority Christian culture who can’t find a believing spouse in order to obey one verse in Corinthians about not being unequally yoked. A gay Christian has 6 direct verses and additional themes, that Tony felt held no water, to ignore or obey. When Jesus said to take up our crosses daily. He calls us to die to our sinful desires, as he defines sinful (including 6 verses, all inspired by Him according to Paul’s letter to Timothy). Everyone’s death struggle is different. To refuse that daily cross seems to me equal to refusing to follow Jesus. Jesus knew all about hermaphrodites when he spoke and when he inspired the Bible’s writers. I think he left enough information to figure out how they can live life. When in doubt, be celibate for the sake of the kingdom. Embrace the denial of self for the glory of God. It’s not just Catholics who do this. John Stott comes to mind. Celibacy is not the end of the world. The world is full of celibates.
I’ve written many blogs at my site on Jesus and the homosexual. I even have a homosexuality category. But I’m not nearly as informed as Rob Gagnon, who I recommended a few posts of Tony’s ago.
God is good
jpu



report abuse
 

Ed

posted August 20, 2009 at 10:42 pm


Panthera,
Take your time! Thank you so much for your thoughts!



report abuse
 

Dashell

posted August 20, 2009 at 11:35 pm


Actaully it is quite simple to say that Jesus said that there was to be no sex outside of marriage.
Matthew 19:8-12
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. ?And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for ?sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
?His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, ?“All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: ?For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
I find the use of the word eunuch very interesting here. Actually in the verses above this section, Jesus actually quotes Adam from Genesis 2 as to what marriage actually is; therefore He does define marriage as between a man and woman especially since he does not use gender netral language. Also, the fact that you can’t really divorce someone without being in a marriage kind of makes that point since this passage is about divorce.



report abuse
 

Dashell

posted August 20, 2009 at 11:39 pm


Tony,
Since we live a world that has been tainted by the Fall of man and seen catastophe from the Great Flood, diseases and physical deformities and other thing sof that nature have to be considered in that light. I wouldn’t make too much of hermaphrodites when there are are siamese twins, down syndrome, and etc.



report abuse
 

panthera

posted August 21, 2009 at 12:11 am


John G. said:
Please understand that the Christian Worldview does not classify a homosexual based on who s/he is personally, rather, what s/he does sexually. It is the act of same-sex sexual activity that distinguishes homosexuals from heterosexuals and has nothing to do with the person. This distinction must be clear and accepted as clear if any fruitful discussion is to take place in this conversation.
end quote
John G., just because you are willfully ignoring fact and pretending that homosexuality is not a perfectly natural and complete aspect of human sexuality does not mean that ‘we’ have to play the game by ‘your’ rules.
As for your absurd pronouncement that I may only know of God’s love through your twisted version of the Bible, may I remind you that I have read the Bible through in four different languages, with two very differing translations in German, three in Latin and seven in English. By the time my Greek is adequate to the task, no doubt I shall have read several versions there, too.
There are really only two possible outcomes in the US for us in the coming years. Either the hateful ones will succeed and we will all be tortured and murdered or we will achieve full human status.
Instead of investing so much energy into hatred against us, you might actually try practicing something like concentrating on the beam in your own eye and acknowledging that as none of us are righteous, none of us have the right to pass judgment.



report abuse
 

ben w.

posted August 21, 2009 at 1:24 am


tony, thanks for taking a few minutes to respond, I know you’re busy.
As for my hermeneutic, you may be right. I find the maxim, “God said it, that settles it, so I must believe it” to be sufficient in many cases (we’ll call that Type 1). Plenty of biblical teaching is actually clear in this way: the Lordship of Christ, God as Creator and Father, the reality and pervasiveness of sin, the coming judgment, etc. There are many subjects where this is not sufficient because clarity is lacking or the Bible is silent (Type B). The common occurrence of Type 1 comments here is likely because the conservative commenters, along with 1900 years of church history, have found the biblical teaching on this matter to be quite clear.
Do you find a problem with this hermeneutic of taking clear biblical teaching at face-value? I would suggest that it (at least attempts) to model the argumentation of prophets, apostles, and even our Lord Jesus. (“Have you not heard it said…” Jesus repeated incessantly) Sure, other arguments could be made, but if you accept the biblical picture of a speaking God, who communicates with persons made in His own image, then when His speaking is clear, why belabor the argument? Such passages given in the comments above weren’t given in a parable or allegory, they are plain didactic teaching.
You’re right that I do believe in the fully authority of the Bible. As one who understands it to be God’s Word to me, I think, so far as I can understand it, it demands full and immediate obedience. Where it is unclear, the disciple should seek diligently to understand and walk with humility in the mean time. If you can’t understand why so many conservative Christians find the biblical teaching on homosexuality to be lucid, please articulate the interpretive complexities that we haven’t been recognizing / addressing.



report abuse
 

John G

posted August 21, 2009 at 2:55 am


panthera: “or we will achieve full human status.”
JG: You already have full human status, and with that comes full human accountability. There is only one source for true knowledge about man, God, the world, etc., and according to *it* (not me), homosexuality is not as you claim: “a perfectly natural and complete aspect of human sexuality.” (see Rom. 1:26-27)
The Bible clearly states that one is deceived if they think that homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God.
Habt ihr vergessen, dass für Menschen, die Unrecht tun, in Gottes neuer Welt kein Platz sein wird? Täuscht euch nicht: Wer verbotene sexuelle Beziehungen eingeht, andere Götter anbetet, die Ehe bricht, wer sich von seinen Begierden treiben lässt und homosexuell verkehrt, wird nicht in Gottes neue Welt kommen; auch kein Dieb, kein Ausbeuter, kein Trinker, kein Gotteslästerer oder Räuber.
The Bible also expressly states that homosexuals are the opposite of godly/righteous persons and contrary to the sound doctrine that accords with the gospel.
Aber für wen gilt denn das Gesetz? Doch nicht für Menschen, die nach Gottes Willen leben, sondern für solche, die gegen das Recht verstoßen und sich gegen Gott und seine Gebote auflehnen: Es gilt für Menschen, die von Gott nichts wissen wollen und Schuld auf sich laden, für Niederträchtige und Gewissenlose, für Leute, die Vater und Mutter töten, unerlaubte sexuelle Beziehungen eingehen, homosexuell verkehren, für Menschenhändler, für solche, die lügen und Meineide schwören oder in irgendeiner anderen Weise gegen die gesunde Lehre unseres Glaubens verstoßen.
Although the Bible states that the church may not contain and approve of homosexuals, the Bible also states that the church can contain *former* homosexuals. (pay attention to the grammar)
Und all das sind einige von euch gewesen. Aber jetzt sind eure Sünden abgewaschen. Ihr gehört nun ganz zu Gott; durch Jesus Christus und durch den Geist unseres Gottes seid ihr freigesprochen.
(Hoffnung für Alle)
This is hardly a twisted version of the Bible. I appreciate that you are fluent in other languages. I spend many hours per day translating the NA27 into English. The Greek is exact and specific as to what the official biblical position on homosexuality is. And unless the Scriptures are the epistemological foundation for theology you will always result in wholesale error.



report abuse
 

Tony Jones

posted August 21, 2009 at 8:34 am


John G,
This post, and the comments to which you refer, do not refer to homosexual sex. This post is about those who are “intersex” or “hermaphroditic” — they do not fall into the categories of “male” or “female,” and, indeed, those categories are not as discreet as many of us would like to believe.
According to you (or the Bible), who are those people allowed to have sex with?



report abuse
 

panthera

posted August 21, 2009 at 9:05 am


John G.
The German text you are referencing is a post 19th century perversion, purposefully twisted to validate your hate driven desires.
Let’s reference the first Luther text from 1545, shall we? 1 Corinthians 6:
# [6.9] Oder wißt ihr nicht, daß die Ungerechten das Reich Gottes nicht ererben werden? Laßt euch nicht irreführen! Weder Unzüchtige noch Götzendiener, Ehebrecher, Lustknaben, Knabenschänder,
# [6.10] Diebe, Geizige, Trunkenbolde, Lästerer oder Räuber werden das Reich Gottes ererben.
Not one word about homosexuality. I could go on, but why bother? You are committing false witness!
And you know it! What on earth makes you think such behavior is granted to us by God?
I don’t care what you and your nasty little church do amongst yourselves, apart from the fact that those of your children who are gay or of non-standard sexual differentiation needs must suffer greatly from your hatred.
I do care very much that you demand your twisted world view be imposed upon the rest of us.



report abuse
 

Joel

posted August 21, 2009 at 11:45 am


“I don’t mean to stereotype all conservatives as those who find a plain meaning in every passage of scripture. I know there are many who struggle with the perplexities around context, redactions, etc.
But, you must admit by reading through the comments, that 4 out of 5 comments by conservatives here are basically, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”
I’m not sure what you’re saying. Trust me, anti-intellectualism in the evangelical church has gotten old and I’m quite sick of it. “If the King James Bible was good enough for Paul, then it’s good enough for me.”
However, traditionally God has been the center point of Christian metaphysics, which then leads to Christian epistemology. I wonder if we would mock Abraham for listening to God and taking his son up the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham’s reasoning was, “God said, I believe it, that settles it.” Or is that too much of an incredulous belief for modern tastes?
Yes, the view, “It’s in the Bible” ignores the Enlightenment approach you take to the Bible and I think Christians should do more to explore the historicity of the Scripture, but I don’t think you have a legitimate complaint. Mainly because if God did say, “Don’t so this” or God did say, “This is how it is,” who are we to question Him?



report abuse
 

John G

posted August 21, 2009 at 7:15 pm


panthera,
Lustknaben and knabenschänder are translations of malakoi and arsenokoitai (the Greek words). Both are masculine (the adjective malakoi and the noun arsenokoitai) and both refer to sexual activity with persons of the same sex. Now, if you dispute the general lexical meaning of these words, you need to explain why (in a rational, logical manner) and provide an alternative. (please cite your sources to ensure us that you’re not making anything up)
It doesn’t help to just emotionally dismiss someone’s argument on baseless grounds and unwarranted assumptions. Please drop the victim/conspiracy theory bit, it only makes matters worse for you. I made it somewhat clear, I think, in my last post that the Christian worldview mandates interactions to be done in love (agape). You have yet to prove my worldview wrong, rather, you’re confirming it in demonstrating exactly what Rom. 1 says your behavior would be like. My assurance is sky-high at this point.
If you believe what you are saying, you should have at least some reasonable elements to your argument. Please be humane and rational with me and explain why (if) you find these meanings lexically unacceptable, and please offer an alternative.



report abuse
 

John G

posted August 21, 2009 at 7:29 pm


Tony Jones,
I apologize for not staying on-topic, my point was meant more as an excursus since
lisandgirls commented saying, “I think its great that we can hear the philosophical and theological arguments for and against GLBT issues, but, I agree, it should not be void of the human, personal element.”
I will try to stay on topic.
You said: they (intersex/hermaphrodites) do not fall into the categories of “male” or “female,” and, indeed, those categories are not as discreet as many of us would like to believe.
JG: I must push back a little and inform you that I do not accept your premises. I believe that God created every human in his image, and that all humans are created either male or female. Since this is what the Bible explicitly says, and since no valid hermeneutical method can challenge this, by claiming that hermaphrodites are neither male nor female you are, by implication, stating that they are not humans created in God’s image. I’m sure you’re not meaning to say this, but it is an inescapable implication. Either your terms must change or the Bible’s terms must change, and I have a pretty good idea as to which you’ll choose to alter but maybe you’ll surprise me.
You said: According to you (or the Bible), who are those people allowed to have sex with?
JG: The Bible, and therefore me (not the converse), answer “no one” outside of the context of marriage. This applies universally to everyone.



report abuse
 

panthera

posted August 21, 2009 at 11:24 pm


John G.
Shall we just have the discussion in the German language?
Erstens, “Lustknabben” (write it with a Capital, dear, it is a noun used as a substantive) deutet auf einem jungen Prostituierten.
Seit wann stellt man einer Dienstbeziehung gleich mit einer Liebesbeziehung?
Zweitens, “Knabenschaender” moegen zwar Monster sein, ihre Untaten sind jedoch keineswegs gleich mit ihrer Sexualitaet zu stellen.
You will find this in any modern German dictionary. Try http://www.leo.org, for instance.
Honestly, you are barking up the wrong tree here if you want to make the case that God’s condemnation of abusive sexual relations is applicable to my loving, true, monogamous, faithful marriage.
If you want to continue playing games with semantics, by all means do. Just, I’m not willing to play along.
Instead, why not try explaining why you reject what science and medicine and now quite a bit of study of existing gay families has shown us: That we are normal and good parents.
There is no basis for your discrimination against us apart from hatred.
Hmm, I guess you might tempt me to continue your perverted game were you ask for a discussion of ‘catamite’.



report abuse
 

John G

posted August 22, 2009 at 12:11 am


panthera,
Do you know that the New Testament was written in koine Greek?
I gave you the two Greek words that are translated into German that are under question. If you do not know what these Greek words mean then you have no grounds to criticize the Hoffnung für Alle translation nor mine! (or any)
Please define the two Greek words malakoi and arsenokoitai. They appear in literature outside the Bible. You may use these outside sources if you choose.
Please provide the name of the lexicons that you trust and/or support your meaning. Semantics is not a game. And if it were, then remember you’re playing too! :)



report abuse
 

panthera

posted August 22, 2009 at 11:07 am


John G.,
You are blinded by your hate. There is no point in further discusion, other than to point out:
1) it is “Koine”, not ‘koine”. If your are going to be imposing your literalistic views on people, at least try to learn to capitalize proper nouns.
2) That God should reject male prostitution, both on the part of the prostitute and the ‘customer’ of the prostitute is not in disagreement here. At least, I think such activities are wrong. To extrapolate from God’s rejection of such actions to then reject my loving, committed, loyal, true, faithful and adult marriage is the same as to imply that because the same activity is involved in a man raping a female child as is involved in a committed, voluntary, adult heterosexual couple making love we must reject this couple is absurd.
Absurd and nasty as you are to impute such things upon my marriage.



report abuse
 

Zoe Brain

posted August 23, 2009 at 7:08 pm


I’m Intersexed. It’s not particularly rare. 1 in 60 people have minor Intersex conditions, though it would take a laboratory test to determine that.
About 1 in 1000 have an Intersex condition that’s obvious.
I have one of the rarest and most spectacular ones.
In the country of my birth, I would only be allowed to marry another woman – because homosexual marriage is strongly forbidden, and there I’m legally male. Even though my passport says “female” based on my anatomy – and despite my chromosomes, which are usually (though not always) found only in men.
In the country where I live, I could only marry a man, because there I’m legally female, and homosexual marriage is strongly forbidden. It took many thousands of dollars worth of MRIs, gene tests, Ultrasounds of my pelvis etc to determine that I was more female than male, but that diagnosis is definitive.
I REALLY wish Fundamentalist Christians would MAKE UP THEIR MIND as to who it is I’m supposed to have sex with. They all say it’s obvious, but they differ as to what the answer is.
Me, I try to follow Isaiah 56:4-5. 1 Corinthians 13 too. It can be difficult maintaining a charitable attitude when no matter what I do, or fail to do, I’m supposed to be condemned to perdition for it.



report abuse
 

RT

posted August 23, 2009 at 7:43 pm


It’s clear Tony has no understanding of original sin, much less Scripture.
Where does Jesus, God Incarnate, refer to sexuality? See below:
For there are eunuchs who were born thus from [their] mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept [it], let him accept [it].” – Matthew 19:12



report abuse
 

panthera

posted August 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm


Zoe,
God loves you just as you are.
The more time I spend in these fruitless discussions, the more I realize there is no hope of reaching an understanding with conservative Christians.
They are incapable of loving God other than by defining their love through hatred of the other.
In the end, whomever you find to love and who loves you as you are is what matters. Live in a civilized country – Canada on the North American Continent or any of several in Europe. Don’t bother with these threads, just find a church which wants and needs you and accepts you, not some stupid ideal.



report abuse
 

Crisjunfan

posted August 23, 2009 at 11:04 pm


I’ve happened on this blog and briefly contributed once or twice. This is my last time.
I observe more love and respect in your average MMA fight. It occurs to me that the mindlessness of the comments here are hugely reflective of what’s wrong with the blogosphere. If this is the future/present you can have it. The carelessness with which topics are handled, and the mud that is slung calls to mind Jerry Springer. Speaking of being called out, I’m calling out both sides of this argument. And that’s what it is. You certainly couldn’t call it a discussion. example: You disagree therefore you are hateful/in disobedience. Wow!
Do yourself a favor. Stay away from blogs and any blog-like discussions and just go talk with someone face-to-face.



report abuse
 

Pingback: More on the Complexity of Gender

Annis Siron

posted July 9, 2014 at 7:06 am


I was looking through some of your content on this site and I conceive this web site is real instructive! Keep on putting up.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

My Blog Has Moved
Dear Readers, After a year with Beliefnet, I've decided to move to my own domain for my blogging.  It's been a fine year -- some things worked, other things didn't.  But in the end, I'll be a better blogger on my own.  My thanks to the Bnet editorial staff; they've been very supportive. Ple

posted 12:13:57pm Nov. 13, 2009 | read full post »

The Most Important Cartoon of the Year
By Steve Breen, San Diego Tribune, October 18, 2009

posted 8:51:22am Oct. 25, 2009 | read full post »

Social Media for Pastors
Following up on Christianity21, we at JoPa Productions are developing a series of boot camps for pastors who want to learn about and utilize social media tools like blogging, Twitter, and Facebook.  These are one-day, hands-on learning experiences, currently offered in the Twin Cities and soon

posted 10:45:52am Oct. 22, 2009 | read full post »

Ending Christian Euphemisms: "Fundamentalist"
I've taken some heat in the comment section for using yesterday's post on "unbiblical" and a "higher view of scripture" as a thin foil for my own disregard of biblical standards. To the contrary, I was pointing to the use of the word unbiblical as a stand-in for a particularly thin hermeneutic. Ther

posted 10:15:41am Oct. 21, 2009 | read full post »

Why You Should Get GENERATE
Last week at Christianity21, GENERATE Magazine debuted. With the tag line, "an artifact of the emergence conversation," it fit perfectly at the gathering. When I actually got around to reading it last weekend, I was truly surprised at how good it is.There have been several efforts to begin a paper j

posted 3:14:37pm Oct. 20, 2009 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.