First, Second and Third Thoughts on the CStone 09 “Gay Rights and Wrongs” Panel

090On Friday, July 3, I moderated a panel at Cornerstone 09 on the topic of “Gay Rights and Wrongs.” Here is the blurb from the CStone web site:

Gays, Rights & Wrongs (Moderator: Michael Spencer, w/Andrew Marin, Richard Amesbury, Tony Jones, Christine Sneeringer & Frank Carrasco ) “Is homosexualty still a sin – or a sin somehow worse than all the rest? Can gays really change? Should the church change the way it engages with gay culture? What are Christians to think about gay marriage? This formidable panel will address these formidable issues.”

Audio for this panel should be available at some point in the future.

1. As I’ve said earlier, it was an honor to moderate this panel. All of these folks have far more to say to this issue than a blogger like myself. My own ministry journey has rarely put me in contact with adult gays and lesbians. Most of my experience with this subject comes in the context of student ministry. As moderator, my original goal was to keep the focus on ministry to the gay community. I did not want to moderate a debate on subjects that evangelicals debate endlessly and for which there are hundreds of resources available. I wish I’d been more successful with that goal.

2. Christine Sneeringer and Frank Carrasco are ex-gays working in the Exodus discipleship ministry. Their position on these matters was clear. It was also clear early on that while both were well-spoken and authentic representatives of their journey and experience, they were not going to give the same kind of responses as the other panelists. Amesbury is a professor of Ethics at Claremont School of Theology. Jones is finishing a Ph.d at Princeton. Marin has just written what is arguably the most provocative and ground-breaking book on bridge-building between gays and evangelicals to be published to this point. Amesbury and Jones were strong, vocal advocates of a “normalizing” approach to gay sexuality. Marin is a strong, intense advocate of a third way that does not confront the major issues with predictable answers, but moves to the place of earning credibility through friendship.

3. What was missing? A strong, academic advocate of the conservative, traditional position. I felt many in the audience, while glad that these issues were raised and discussed by a diverse panel, were, like me, feeling that certain subjects were left with an abbreviated response from the traditional side. For example, the “six passages” in scripture that deal with homosexuality were mentioned with the assumption that the exegesis put forward by the scholarly advocates of the gay community was accepted and there was no real debate on, for example, about what Paul is referring to in condemning homosexual behavior in Romans 1. I could have offered an alternative perspective, but that was not my role as moderator. Sneeringer and Carrasco simply weren’t in the league with the academic members of the panel on this subject. I would have liked to have seen someone like Robert Gagnon from Pittsburg Seminary make a contribution.

4. I was deeply moved by the persons in the audience who spoke openly about their journey and experience regarding sexual identity issues. These were some of the most memorable moments on the panel. Though we had deep disagreements on the panel, it was wonderful to see every member of the panel unite around the support that every person deserves as they seek to genuinely live out the truth as an individual and in community.

5. I appreciated Christine Sneeringer making it clear that Exodus is a discipleship ministry and is not recruiting gays to come out of their lifestyle. Christine’s description of the approach of her ministry to disciple those who want to make changes was very helpful.

6. I have serious reservations about putting forward ideas like the need to abandon “heteronormativity” into the evangelical conversation without serious interaction with Biblical, theological and pastoral implications of this idea. Nothing I heard at Cornerstone this year or last year did anything to cause me to worry less about what happens when the victimization and oppression of any group becomes the arbiter of hermeneutical and interpretative discussion. The mistreatment and oppression of various groups is part of the Biblical story and part of how God reveals himself in scripture, but when we come to the Gospel itself, there is a deep challenge to any idea of empowerment that is based on violence or being the victim of violence. The centrality of Christ and the cross signal a shift- for all of us, and for every group- away from our own victimization to embracing Christ as the ultimate victim through whom all of us are set free. We do not emerge from the New Testament as victimized groups. We come away as a new people, a new race, a holy nation, the body of Christ.

7. The Gospel calls all of us to recognize our sexual sins. It calls on all of us to repent. It calls all of us to receive the righteousness of Christ. It calls all of us to a life of discipleship, summarized in Hebrews 13:4. It calls all of us to chastity. It not not call us to reject “heteronormativity” for anything other than the centrality of Christ, the imago dei, the Kingdom of God and defining nature of the Gospel. Jesus and Jesus alone possesses the shape of Christian sexual identity. I fully recognize that genuine Christians will agree with all of the above and come to various, differing conclusions on issues of sexuality. Nonetheless, had I been able to contribute to the discussion, it would have been my goal to emphasize that what Christ calls us to is different from all the options offered by various political and advocacy constituencies. The Gospel is the highest standard of sexual conformity to the person and purpose of God, while at the same time offering the highest expressions of amazing grace.

8. Our actions toward one another and toward the GLBT community must be radically, distinctively Jesus shaped, i.e. recognizably faithful to who Jesus is and what Jesus is doing in scripture and through the Spirit. I simply will never stop insisting that to look at Jesus as the most sexually healthy person that ever lived is a completely radicalizing journey, far more so than the options I hear around me.

132 thoughts on “First, Second and Third Thoughts on the CStone 09 “Gay Rights and Wrongs” Panel

  1. Jon,
    Let me wrap up my thoughts here as well. I understand the thin line of judgement, and I am hyper aware of it’s existence and try to simply discern without emotion attached. That was my attempt with the last post to you after reading the extremely lengthy posts from you to EP. I thought she had done an exceptional job in explaining to you where she was coming from, and you continued to reply with basically the same argument….your side of things. That’s what this debate has been reduced to in the modern world, a place of “sides”…us and them, and that’s truly a shame. This shines a spotlight on why that is I believe. You read scripture and apply that to your life as you are led to do. I do the same thing and we end up on different sides of an issue we are likely to never see eye to eye on. It’s the constant battering of your opinion and observations that led to my post to you. At some point you have to say to the one who disagrees with you…”Ok, I love you brother or sister, and I wish you peace.” That’s the whole point of free will that God blessed us all with. I’m not going to go out into the world talking to Jews about Jesus, or talking to Muslims about Jesus. They have their beliefs and I have mine, and in my observations, most religions take you to the same source down a different path, and that is to God. We just call Him different names.
    I am looking forward to the day when Christians from all walks of life can be on the same side again. I am growing weary of this debate, and am not really inclined to engage in it much anymore. I have to just be content in my heart and stop defending my relationships to any and every body who disagrees with my life. I will continue to engage within my own community though. There are so many young people struggling with themselves because of the church. They feel self-loathing, fear of being cast out of their families and have thoughts of not living anymore because it’s too difficult. It’s not always made known to them that they were “knitted in their mother’s womb, they are beautifully and wonderfully made.” so says the Psalmist. It’s sickening to me to hear “christians” in their ivory towers condemning these kids, unaware of the utter devastation they are causing.
    So, it was nice talking to you Jon. I wish you well, and i hope you can discern that there is nothing but love coming from me to you in these discussions.
    Peace,
    Debra

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  2. Debra, I think this is going to my final posting. This in-fighting or debating back and forth is not helping to “gather.” We do have an audience.

    You are 100% correct re: my plank. Yes, there is one (at least one) 🙂

    Consider something, though, my sister… you read my words, and through the discernment of the Holy Spirit, you make a judgment. You respond to my post. Okay.

    But you HAVE made a judgment. Correct? Like you, I too make a judgment. NOT a condemnation, mind you. A judgment. The Bible says “judgment begins in the house of the Lord.” It also cautions us that, yes, “by the measure that you judge, you TOO will be judged.”

    There is nothing I’ve said (in my posts) to EP that does NOT apply to me. I totally recognize that. I thought I was making that clear. I have received counsel time and again from people in the church, and sometimes people outside the church… and sometimes from people I would have NOT expected. God has used any number of people, situations, etc. to get my attention, because – as you correctly said – I am a stubborn man!

    Please try to understand… I am not trying to change anyone’s position/beliefs/morals, etc… I really am not. What I’m trying to do is to CAUTION against someone holding so tightly to their FIXED position.. so tightly that they miss the still, small voice of the Lord who may very well be trying to get them to CONSIDER it from a different perspective.

    That’s all.

    Having said that, I know that I have idolatry in my life… I know that I have sexual sin in my life… I know that I have pride in my life (which is probably the root of all the others). I know that there are things I hold onto – for fear of letting them go – EVEN THOUGH God may be trying to get me to see them from His perspective.

    I can be an in-flexible sonuvagun sometimes, I know that. But aren’t most CHILDREN that way?
    Let’s not forget that – whether we’ve been walking with Christ for 4 months or 4 years or 4 decades… some of us are merely “children.”

    And according to what I’ve read in the Bible, God wants to grow us up. Even the Apostle Paul (scholar that he was) wrote “No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead..” (Phil 3:13 New Living Translation)

    The greatest compliment I think I’ve ever received was that I’m “teach-able.”

    Debra, I thank you for your comments. I really do. You know, you were wrong when you said “Jon… I realize you do not have your (sights) fixated on me…” The truth is… when I started posting on this page, I was (and am still) very, very mindful of everyone who is going to be reading these words.

    We are the body of Christ, we believers, are we not. People visit this page and what do they see? The body of Christ with open arms? Or arms folded? A closed door?

    I want people to draw closer to Jesus, and I know that that is sometimes a slow process… Being in-flexible does not help the process (although, thanks be to God, He is patient) In my walk with Christ, I have gained some and I have lost some… I encourage you, EP, and whoever else may read this to press on toward the goal of drawing ever more close to Jesus… NO MATTER WHAT IT MAY COST YOU. JUST KNOW – IT WILL COST YOU SOMETHING.

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  3. Jon….I realize you do not have your sites fixated on me at the moment, but I had to jump in here. You are one tough nut to crack! Stubborn man.
    Just an observation from the sidelines….you say good things in your posts, but the underlying theme I read is judgment toward EP’s beliefs. I see you referring back to your own experiences as you address Ep’s, but I have to wonder, truly, how’s that plank? You have your sites set on EP’s speck…just wondering. That’s the real challenge in following Christ’s teaching…that judgment thing. It can truly be a slippery slope. Just because someone has a difference of opinion from yours does not make you right and them wrong, or vice versa. None of us will know the full and complete truth as long as we walk this earth. We can only do the best we can to be true to who we feel God intends us to be. That is not for man to judge. Our commands from Jesus are to love the Lord God with all of our hearts, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. That’s where it should begin and end with us.
    So that you don’t have to look back at the posts, I am in the same “camp” as EP…a Christian lesbian. I know what I know as surely as you know what you know. What can man do to me? Not one thing…I am firmly in the hands of my loving Father and nothing can separate me from that place.
    God bless you and keep you in His care,
    Debra

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  4. EP,
    I don’t understand where the disconnect is.

    You responded “I do those things you say with PEOPLE or at least try.”

    Didn’t you read my posting? I am not talking about PEOPLE. I am not talking about acts of kindness toward PEOPLE. I am not talking about loving your neighbor (although that is a command.)

    What I’ve been talking about AT LENGTH is having a heart for GOD. Being mindful of His heart. Wanting to do something nice for Him, to bless Him. He is the object of our devotion, affection, worship, and love. Or at least SHOULD BE.

    King David’s heart toward God was “if there is anything in me that offends YOU, oH GOD…”

    My question is: is that YOUR heart, EP?

    Would you allow God to strip away ANYTHING away from your life (not sin or vice, necessarily), but ANYTHING… for no other reason than for God’s pleasure? Think, please, before you answer that. It is a hard question. It is a question of love and trust.

    Unfortunately, in this day and age, and especially in this country, we are so fixated on self, and on what God CAN DO FOR US and how I can have “my best life now” blah blah blah… do we ever consider that perhaps God might request something of us? And what if God speaks to you, as He did Abraham, “I want you to sacrifice the life of your son, Isaac”.. that which is dearest to you? Will you be found obedient? Will I? That is the question I’m asking, EP. And I don’t ask it because I’ve got my act together. Hardly.

    I suspect that’s the question that God asks each of us since the Garden of Eden — Adam, where are you? Where is your heart?

    There are a number of people who have posted on this site who do not agree with what you say. Yet you hold fast to your belief. Fine.

    I have my beliefs as well that I hold fast to. They are not easily shaken.

    However… could it just possibly be that (every so often) God may choose to speak into your life (through a friend, through a brother or sister, through a donkey)… and maybe it will challenge or shake up that THING that you believe to be true. My question remains the same… what will your heart be toward God? Even if He asks something of you that you can’t make sense of? Even if He asks something of you that you do NOT WANT TO GIVE UP? What will your heart be toward God then? Is He Lord of your life? Can He ask anything of you?

    In confession, these are questions I’ve faced and my answers have often been No, Lord, I want to hold onto this THING a little longer. No, Lord, this THING provides me comfort. No, Lord, I do not trust You with THIS AREA of my life…. or simply… SHOW ME HOW YOU’RE GOING TO WORK THIS OUT FIRST, LORD, AND THEN I’LL TRUST YOU.

    To my shame.

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  5. Jon,

    i do thpse things you say with people or at leadt try. it still comes across that you think being gay is a sin and i simply disagree. Thanks for explaining further. You say some good things.

    Blessings,
    EP

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  6. Perhaps I wasn’t very clear. I tried to take dogma and doctrine and theology and whatever other -ologies you can think of OUT OF THE PICTURE.

    I tried to make a point that – in the relationship you have with your Dad or your loved one or your spouse or whomever – if you suspect that they MIGHT disapprove of something, then you logically will refrain from doing it (or at the very least, not do it in their presence).

    If my friend (who I care about) tells me they do not like second-hand smoke, then I will not smoke in their presence. Simple?

    Now… if I am not CERTAIN whether something will offend or disturb or agitate my friend, my loved one, I would probably consult with them FIRST.

    And please understand something. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you’ve got to be heterosexual to go to Heaven. This is not a question of sexuality at all. That is a small part of who I am. AND WHO I AM IS A MESSED UP SON-OF-A-GUN IN DIRE NEED OF A SAVIOR, same as you, same as everybody else on the planet.

    I never once claimed to have the FINAL SAY or CERTAINTY when it comes to issues of theology and doctrine… I did not set myself up as an expert of biblical interpretation, so there is no need to try to knock me off my high horse (I’ll be the first to tell ya – I don’t have a horse!)

    My question to you, though, is more of a “heart issue…” Many people use the phrase “I love God and try my best to follow Him…” Okay. That seems rational. Kind of. But the question is… how exactly do you love someone you can’t see, smell, touch, feel, or hear audibly? How do you love God?

    It’s a simple question.

    What do you have to offer God? Really? What do you have to offer God that He hasn’t already given you? I can think of only ONE THING. Obedience. Now that’s where things get messy, right? Obedience to what? Some people interpret the Bible one way, some interpret another way. So where there is a question, where there is uncertainty… MY SUGGESTION (SIMPLISTIC, THOUGH IT MAY BE) was to err on the side of CAUTION.

    Try and stay with my logic just a little bit longer: imagine you’re in love with someone. You are head over heels for this person. What is the evidence of that love? How will it be manifested in your actions? For myself, I can say.. I am going to try to do EVERYTHING RIGHT, say ALL THE RIGHT THINGS, I am going to put my BEST FOOT FORWARD, I am going to work at getting her attention. Do you see where I’m going with this?

    If I’m a smoker and I just decide to light up whilst in the company of this woman I supposedly am head-over-heels for… and don’t even take notice of her maybe coughing or holding her nose… it doesn’t make sense, does it?

    I am not saying that I am certain about your salvation AT ALL (that is not my place to say). I cannot see your heart. But what I am saying is this… if I say I love the Lord (who I cannot see), and someone tells me that something in my life is a hindrance or is a stumbling block or is just flat-out wrong… I may disagree with them. I may be able to quote chapter and verse, but if I profess to be a lover of Jesus, wouldn’t it also be logical that I might – JUST IN CASE THEY’RE RIGHT AND I’M WRONG – do everything I could to take into account the heart of the One who I profess to love? Or will I hold onto the thing out of some sense of… I don’t know – entitlement? I don’t know.

    David writes in Psalm 139 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if [there is any] wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”

    Another translation puts it this way: “Point out anything in me that offends You…”

    This humility of heart is what I think would do us well to learn from, all of us who call ourselves lovers and followers of Jesus Christ. Point out anything in me, Lord, that offends You…

    And in closing, may I say, that if anything I’ve said has come across as self-righteous or judgmental… I just pray that anyone reading this would know that everything I’ve said applies first and foremost to ME (because I’m writing out of the conviction of my own heart). I am far from perfect. There are sins I (ahem) “struggle” with daily… I care less about being right, than I care about being a help to someone reading this.

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  7. Debra,

    THANK YOU so very much for your kind and encouraging words! They mean A LOT!

    You are welcome at either of my blogs anytime. (Existential Punk and Queermergent)

    Warnest Regards,
    EP

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  8. EP said: “G-D said to love G-D and others, so YES i will err on the side of love and grace! Sorry, but we disagree and i am ok with that. Maybe i am wrong. Maybe you are right. OR i could be right and you could be wrong. Yet, i bet you are not even open to that possibility.

    i love G-D and do my very best to follow G-D. Do i fail? Yes, more often i get it wrong than i get it right. BUT, it’s the reality of a RELATIONSHIP, any RELATIONSHIP! Will i encourage people? Yes. Will i anger and let people down? Yes! i am human and i am trying to be authentic. i do not see the Bible as a rule book.”

    Yes, friend. As you and I have talked about before I think when we talk in this context we get typical response as you have seen here. For us, at times (I’m tempted to say always), it is easier for us to look through this lens, because it has been our life and our natural progression of faith, spirituality and fluidity of our journey. I think for others that have to have that “absolute” thinking when we speak from these views they don’t get it.

    I also know that because you and I both have lead a journey that came from freeing ourselves from chains that were deathly for us many will not and don’t want to understand. I love how you demonstrate that so clearly with what is said above. Neither you nor I (and others) view the bible as a rule book that gives our do’s and don’t’s of the day. Nor do we see ourselves holding the absolute answer on a subject.

    I don’t want to hold the answers any more. I did that for a long time in my life. I took the power out of God’s hands and placed it squarely on myself. I have learned since coming out and submitting myself under God’s power that there is one thing I can rely upon. It was the fact and ultimate beauty of the story of the Gospel. That is the only thing I can rely upon. It is what Jesus came here to do. He came to act out and demonstrate his love and his father’s love for us. He didn’t come down to clarify rules and regulations. He didn’t come to say, “ok, these are the ones I’m gonna let into heaven….” He simply showed us the beauty of his love. To come and fellowship within that love. I think that is where there are hang ups in this conversation. I know what you mean, because you and I have walked it. Where some think we are bending God to our will, we see how we have bent ourselves to God’s will. Until any one can stop thrusting their “absolutes” on others and let go of the feeling and need to be right will conversation begin. I love how you are about to talk about speaking from our weakness. I think this discussion proves the need for it. In this conversation we go for the strength we THINK we have and just cover the weakness. I have come to the mind that I would rather speak from my weakness and my story than to pull out my Greek/Hebrew Study Bible and start trumping verses.

    I think, and I could be wrong, this is what EP is saying in general terms. And it is for sure what I would say. As a christian and a lesbian I wonder why I should engage someone who questions if I look into the bible and if I even care what my Abba has to say to me. That isn’t discussion. It isn’t allowing oneself to sit in the grey and to believe they could have something wrong in their perception. If I weren’t a christian I would be wondering how I should know someone was with words that say, “well, your going to hell and I know because…” or “they don’t even own a bible…” Take a moment and look at the intention. Are you speaking the beautiful art work of the gospel or are you the clanging cymbols?

    EP, I have come to cherish our new friendship and am grateful for your words here!

    Blessings!

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  9. EP-

    It can be very tough in this arena as gay women who love and follow Christ. This is important dialogue that is happening here (with an exception or two). I have enjoyed reading your views on this subject very much, and only wanted to say I love and appreciate you.
    Best to you and yours.

    Debra

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  10. Jon,

    i was tslking about dogma, biblical interpretation, etc. i am NOT saying it is good for you or anyone to cheat on their partner. i really do not understand the point of your rant. i err on the side of love rather than harsh judgment because i am not perfect in interpretations. In community is where we figure things out together. i being queer is NOT a lifestyle or a sin. YOU being heterosexual is NOT a lifestyle or sin. Our respective sexualities are a part of who we are. It does not make up the entirety of our identities but is a part. i do not believe i am in sin by being gay. i am a happily married queer woman who has the same ups and downs as ANY couple.

    You seem to be taking issue with my comments of “TRIES MY BEST to follow G-D.” AND “I rather ERR ON THE SIDE OF LOVE than worrying about if I AM RIGHT.” I think someone like you with your certainty and black and white world thinks they are mutually exclusive eh?! Not in my world. It’s people like you who are focused on the SEXUAL ACT aspect rather than seeing gays are not all focused on sex. WE have lives like you with the same struggles at work, home, etc. It’s people like you why people leave the church in DROVES! It appears you rather be ‘RIGHT’ in how you see the Bible speaking. How do you know your views/interpretations are correct?

    G-D said to love G-D and others, so YES i will err on the side of love and grace! Sorry, but we disagree and i am ok with that. Maybe i am wrong. Maybe you are right. OR i could be right and you could be wrong. Yet, i bet you are not even open to that possibility.

    i love G-D and do my very best to follow G-D. Do i fail? Yes, more often i get it wrong than i get it right. BUT, it’s the reality of a RELATIONSHIP, any RELATIONSHIP! Will i encourage people? Yes. Will i anger and let people down? Yes! i am human and i am trying to be authentic. i do not see the Bible as a rule book. Check out this incredible post about another perspective on the Bible:
    http://www.roguereverend.com/2009/07/what-the-bible-means-to-me/#comment-147

    i don’t intentionally try to discourage people. i am an encourager. We just don’t see eye to eye and i am ok with that.

    G-D bless you in your journey and may you enjoy the sweetness of G-D’s aroma.

    Warm Regards,
    EP

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  11. Just one more word that I hope may be an encouragement to someone. Remember the context of what we’re talking about here. It is so easy to get caught up in discussing LONG-TERM STRUGGLES with vice and sexual sin and the like… how on earth will I ever be able to honor God with my life when I can’t make it through ONE WEEK without watching that, or drinking that, or lusting after that, or snorting that, or whatever…

    Remember… tomorrow is promised to no one.

    Concern yourself with today. Today is what I have. Today I choose to honor God with my finances. Today I choose to honor God with my sexuality. Today I choose to honor God with my time. Today I choose to honor God with my thoughts. Today I choose to honor God with my productivity at work.

    And maybe there are some of you who CAN’T EVEN DO THAT MUCH… maybe the next five minutes will be a struggle… For the next five minutes I will honor God with my thoughts. I will honor God with my finances. With my productivity. With my sexuality. With my… whatever.

    The enemy (and your own flesh) loves to change the focus to something BIGGER than it actually is. To the single libidinous young man, the enemy will say “go play the field, sow your wild oats, etc…”
    and should that young man experience the conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, the enemy might say “does God really expect you to give up THE BEST YEARS OF YOUR SINGLENESS???”

    The lie is in the assumption — “best years”??? Tomorrow is promised to no one.

    Choose today who you will serve.

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  12. I was trying to follow this discussion and I’d actually posted a previous response (but I guess I was flagged for being too… passionate?)

    I find EP’s comments interesting. “I am a human being who TRIES MY BEST to follow G-D.”

    Okay, now reconcile that with “I rather ERR ON THE SIDE OF LOVE than worrying about if I AM RIGHT.”

    If I claim to love my wife and there is a question as to whether an action I’m about to take, a choice I’m about to make, a lifestyle of which I am a part… there is a question whether it offends her, a little, a lot, upsets her, troubles her, whatever… consider EP’s comments again: “I am a human being who TRIES MY BEST…” and “I’d rather ERR ON THE SIDE OF LOVE than worrying about if I am right.”

    There is a modern-day school of thought that goes something like this – “when in doubt, DON’T!”

    If I am uncertain as to whether cheating on my wife will upset her, chances are… I will do my best to find out FOR CERTAIN before making a move. Sound rational? I will not just make an assumption and choose to NOT WORRY ABOUT WHETHER I AM RIGHT OR NOT, because that would indicate a lack of respect, a lack of consideration, a lack of care for… for argument’s sake, my wife. And I am quite certain that my wife will execute swift judgment upside my head – and rightfully so – for my failure to take her feelings into account. Not to mention our marriage vows.

    What I observe to be absent from EP’s comments.. is something I recognize in my own actions, my own life… FEAR of God. His closing comment is also quite interesting… “experience the sweetness of Jesus.” Okay. Sweetness is good. But what of the holiness of Jesus? What of the righteousness of Jesus? What of the chastisement of Jesus?

    Oh yes. Are we merely talking about sweet feelings here? The grace of God looks like many things. Sweet feelings, not necessarily. When Jesus fashioned a whip and began striking the money-changers, God’s grace was evident. The argument could definitely be made that they were experiencing the “sweetness of Jesus.” For which parent who loves his children does not discipline them???

    When Jesus confronted the pharisees and called them out with such “sweet” phrases like “you praise Me with your lips, but inside you are dead men’s bones,” “you brood of vipers.”

    Let’s be very careful that we don’t emasculate our Savior, for He is both Lion and Lamb, He is both Merciful and Just. When the adulterous woman stood before Him, after Jesus had challenged her accusers that the one without sin should cast the first stone, remember what happened next… Jesus asked “where are your accusers now?” There was no one left to condemn her to death by stoning. And Jesus said “neither do I condemn you.”

    AND THEN JESUS SAID IN HIS “SWEET, SWEET” VOICE… “okay, now go and TRY YOUR BEST, but it’s okay if you ERR every now and again, because I got your back.. and I know my rules are pretty unclear, so… just do the best you can…” No, that is not what Jesus said. He said “GO AND SIN NO MORE.”

    And what about this request? Did Jesus really expect that she could live up to this tall order – “go and sin no more”? Of course not. But there is a HUGE difference between the sin that so easily ensnares us (pride, selfishness, deceit, etc.) and the SIN THAT WE PURPOSE IN OUR HEARTS TO DO. THE SIN THAT I SEEK OUT.

    Like so many pastors like to say, GRACE is for when you fall, not when you JUMP… into sin. Paul writes at length about this, about the grave error of making light of God’s grace… “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

    EP, in fear and awe of Almighty God, wouldn’t I be well and wise instead to ERR on the side of CAUTION… (maybe not even for myself) but for my brother/sister who I may inadvertently cause to stumble.. who I may inadvertently lead into confusion.. who I may inadvertently lead into discouragement?

    Am I merely seeking those things in my Christian walk that are sweet to taste – are those the focus of my “walk” with Christ – the benefits and blessings therein to myself. Have I turned Christ into some form of cosmic genie-in-a-bottle granting goodness and sweetness and benefit and provision to my life… OR is there any form of reciprocity in this so-called relationship? Am I concerned at all with blessing Jesus? Am I concerned at all with putting a smile on His face (even though it may cost me more than I can afford), even though it may strip me of more than I’m comfortable giving up, even though I receive no earthly reward, but may even experience persecution and pain and loss.

    Am I willing to beat the flesh into submission – as Paul wrote – having greater regard for bringing HONOR to God than whatever by-products would come of it? Whatever it may feel like to my flesh (whether sweet or painful, pleasurable or uncomfortable, embarassing, humiliating, debilitating, etc.) is secondary and incidental, and in the span of eternity, probably not very important.

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  13. Joe,

    We just have to agree to disagree. i do not see those passages as so very black and white as you do. If you really look at the historical and cultural contexts of those passages they are not so clear. BUT, of course you are certain and think i am wrong and don’t really care to know me that the conversation can really go no further. In your eyes i am sinning by being gay and being married to my wife. In my eyes i am human being who tries my best to follow G-D. For me, being right or having all the correct beliefs/doctrines/dogmas/interpretations is not as important as loving G-D and loving others. i rather err on the side of love than worrying about if i am right. G-D bless you in your journey, Joe. May you deeply experience the sweetness of Jesus.

    Warmest Regards,
    EP

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  14. EP

    No. I’m saying that the passages are so clear and simple that teach all homosexuality is sinful all the time without any exceptions whatsoever that you have to TRY to make them mean something else. The only way you miss what those passages clearly teach is if you have an agenda like, oh I don’t know, trying to justify the sin of homosexuality.

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  15. on 12 Jul 2009 at 8:31 pm Joe Blackmon
    Joe Blackmon, you infuriate me in so many ways I cannot count them all.

    Debra,
    Yeah, the truth hurts, don’t it?

    No Joe…the truth has set me free. It’s all those other reasons you demonstrated above that you infuriate me. It doesn’t take away the love I have for you. Blessings to you.

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  16. So, Joe, you are saying you know as absolute fact what G-D intended and that your interpretations are correct and anyone who disagrees with you is wrong? Is that what i hear you saying?

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  17. There are some on here who are set in their ways and believe ‘their’ interpretation is correct and what G-D intended and are so closed to think they could be the ones who are wrong.

    EP

    I’m not sure if that was directed at me or not but either way I don’t believe that or think that. I don’t.

    I know it for an absolute fact.

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  18. Gabriel McKee, you said, ‘as Richard Amesbury pointed out: a gay Christian (not ex-gay; just gay). There were a few in the audience, but none on the panel, and that’s a major part of the conversation that deserves to be heard.’ THANKS! That is so true!

    There are some on here who are set in their ways and believe ‘their’ interpretation is correct and what G-D intended and are so closed to think they could be the ones who are wrong. Very sad indeed. Why cannot love triumph over who is right in their interpretations?

    G-D Bless!
    EP

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  19. Christians read leviticus 18, the sodom and gomorrah story and romans one and accept without question that this exactly describes what homosexuality, in motive, mindset, cause and action looks exactly like. Why? They have been told that this is God´s inspired word, and that applying these passages as being about homosexuality is the “traditional” interpretation.

    fves

    I’m sorry, you had some typos in the last sentance in bold. Let me help you out.

    Why? They have thoroughly studied God´s inspired word, and then by applying common sense in reading these passages they recognize them clearly as being about homosexuality.

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  20. Re: point 3: There was something else missing from the panel, as Richard Amesbury pointed out: a gay Christian (not ex-gay; just gay). There were a few in the audience, but none on the panel, and that’s a major part of the conversation that deserves to be heard.

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  21. MOD EDIT: this comment is too long and should not be published, but in the interest of being accommodating, I’m publishing it. My apologies to all.

    There is a HUGE disconnect here. Maybe this will be useful to some of you.

    Gays read leviticus 18, the sodom and gomorrah story and romans one. and do not see ANYTHING that resembles them, their existence, what defines them in their minds as homosexual, or their mentality. or the sex they have in thought/word/deed, fantasy/description/act. They further find it very offensive that others would see them as being described as such (eg the gang rapists in the sodom and gomorrah story).

    Example: Most gay men would literally feel physically ill at the idea of having sex with another man AS with a woman in EITHER role (leviticus 18 and 1 cor that seems to directly refer to Lev 18). ( for proof check the gay dating websites. gay men don´t want to date other men who are effeminate in any way. a sad fact. prejudice within their own ranks.) Further, I don´t know any homos who have “their women” unless you want to call their moms and sisters “their women” (Rom1:26) , and most homos do not start out as heteros each with their woman, and then trade that in (1) for lusting after guys and somehow then after that, influence “their women” to be “used” in an “unnatural” way (whatever “using” their women in the RIGHT way would look like…). In addition, Paul explicitly calls out the men´s “lusting” as unseemly and unnatural. I am gay and can honestly never remember ever lustiing. And… is there ever a situation, even a heterosexual one, where a christian would want to call lusting “natural” or “honorable”? Should we focus on what St Paul explicitly condemns in illustration, or should we instead skip that part and focus on where our imaginations take us from explicit to implied (the sex part really only implied isn´t it? even if it seems to be an inescapable part of things…) and make that what he condemns or even (wierdly!) the main point of the chapter?

    Christians read leviticus 18, the sodom and gomorrah story and romans one and accept without question that this exactly describes what homosexuality, in motive, mindset, cause and action looks exactly like. Why? They have been told that this is God´s inspired word, and that applying these passages as being about homosexuality is the “traditional” interpretation. They can only assert this as a fact by ignoring the facts that the word homosexual is only about 100 years old, and that prior to the 1950s the current understanding of what homosexuality is simply did not exist in the popular public sphere. so prior to 50 years ago, how were these passages applied? What was the understanding before that? Did it look like a condemnation more of something resembling prison sex/rape?

    Christians assume alot of things about homosexuals. Why? There are only three possible “logical chains” here. Someone might hold to all three:

    (1) PROPOSITION: The Bible says X. SINCE what the bible says describes homosexuals (assume apriori). THEREFORE homosexuals look like that biblical X.. Circular.

    (2) PROPOSITION: By definition, society understands that homosexual men are effiminate and really would rather be women and treated as such, SINCE Leviticus 18 divinely confirms this “fact”, THEREFORE What Leviticus 18 describes and then condemns is, in fact, homosexual sex , and says it is worthy of death. Eisegesis. Erroneous cultural assumptions read into scripture.

    (3) Based on Scripture (logical chains 1 and 2, homosexuality=behavioral disfunction. Period. Therefore….(and here is where things get interesting…)

    PROPOSITION: The word “homosexuality” is a label for a pathology or a condition of problematic behavioral issues.
    A pastor should interact with homosexuals from this set of assumptions when counseling, and church members should also interact with homosexuals within this conceptual framework. they are dealing with people who are sick. perhaps not their fault. but still definately deviant.
    Homosexuality should be understood similarly therefore to alcoholism, gluttony, adultery or other terms that would be rendered meaningless when separated from the behaviors of the persons these labels identify.

    SINCE the bible says homosexuality is about behaviors in leviticus 18, the sodom and gomorrah story, and romans 1, THEREFORE “homosexuality” cannot label a condition that is not behavioral but is instead ontological (example of ontological labels:heterosexual, male, female, white, black, caucasian), ontological label=something a person can be labeled that is true about that person completely independent of any behavior. (note that heterosexuals and caucasians can ALSO have a behavioral label, but there is no NECESSARY cause and effect between the behavioral and ontological labels).

    THEREFORE the apa, aba, ama by definining homosexuality as an ontological label are subversively trying to undermine holy scripture and turn something the bible calls a sinful behavior into rather a condition like being left-handed, or something that is morally neutral. The church and her pastors have a duty to call this out as a lie and contrary to Holy Scriptures. This in fact, is the reason the organization NARTH was created.

    Contradictions in conservative christian thinking. Two examples:

    This “scriptural” view is so very internalized, that when someone who is dear to that christian is revealed as being gay, for example a son or daughter, the conservative christian immediately assumes that their loved one is the exception to “the biblical picture” of homosexuality. It simply never occurs to them that maybe their loved one is a “typical” homosexual in the exact same way that they are a “typical heterosexual” and that the more vocal outlandish homosexuals are “typical” like larry flynt is “typical” of the “heterosexual lifestyle”.

    The LCMS resoluion on homosexuality directing the LCMS to develop a ministry plan to them careens between first insisting that homosexuality is a label for a behavioral pathology and as a label, not just sinful, but “intrinsically ” so, to asserting as a definite “fact” that homosexuality is (“intrinsically”?) a condition that is ontological by asserting that homosexualty is not a condition that someone choses.

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  22. Homosexuals ASSUME that when homosexuals pair off, that it is typical for them to roleplay as male/female in that relationship. this is the rare exception (as with heterosexual couples it occurs!) but far far from the rule.

    obviously this should read: “heterosexuals ASSUME…”

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  23. I see two issues here. they are interrelated

    1) most evangelical christians it seems, do not know a large number of homosexuals on a regular and intimate basis that would allow them to form an idea of what homosexuality and homosexual “practices” and “lifestyle” actually looks like. consequently two things happen:

    homosexuality is reduced to stereotypes and assumptions. Gagnon and others suffer from this immensely. Homnosexuality is then blithely classed with identities (gluttony, addiction) that are meaningless apart from the problematic behavioral issues that are the sole content of those categories. Try putting “homosexual” in an ontological category (ie a category that is true independent of behavior) a category like heterosexual, white, black, woman , man. You are still a woman or a heterosexual regardless of whether or not you are celebate. The ontological category you fit in can result in directly or indirectly also bearing a behavioral label.

    this brings us to the second problem:

    Gays read leviticus 18, romans one, the sodom and gomorrah story and simply do not see anything that describes them, or their lives, or their behaviors.

    Example: In Levitcus 18, it says “If a man lies with another man, as with a woman”…. some maybe read the second part as a repetition/amplification of the first part. I, as a gay man read it as a qualifying and specifying phrase. Heterosexual men would more than wince at being turned into a female in bed. Newsflash: the typical homosexual man is right there with the heterosexuals. Homosexuals ASSUME that when homosexuals pair off, that it is typical for them to roleplay as male/female in that relationship. this is the rare exception (as with heterosexual couples it occurs!) but far far from the rule.

    They also see things in the text grossly ignored (example Romans 1:26 if the men, the “they” in romans 1 refers to homosexuals, then how in the heck does it make sense when the text refers to the women in that chapter as “THEIR women”^? should this chapter be titled “homosexuals and their women”?

    So. In summary, evangelicals say gays are saying white is black and black is white by saying these passages do not apply to homosexuality,. those evangelicals suffer from an understanding of what homosexuality typically looks like and assumes, because they have been told that this is the ancient and traditional understanding of these passages (odd in view of the fact that the word homosexual is about 100 years old…) that homosexuality and it´s behaviors and mindset is described in leviticus 18, sodom and gomorrah, and romans 1.

    How do we move past this cognitive dissonance to a space that would allow for meaningful dialog without the false choices and strawmen?

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  24. An equivalent pastoral problem is someone who divorces their spouse for reasons other than adultery(the spouse’s that is) or abuse and then remarries. They then get saved or decide to follow Jesus depending on your theology. As with the main topic there is the vast majority of critical biblical scholarship, plain text reading and 2,000 years of tradition that the couple is living in sin. Pastorally the only option is to counsel them to live a life of celibacy. Both issues are a difficult pastoral problem, but one that must be done with love and understanding,

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  25. Wow. So much insistence on total answers.

    Homosexualty is a sin the church cannot bless.

    People are tormented sinners and need all the grace we can point them to.

    The Christian life is wrapped in self-denial and longing for Heaven as well as abundant life.

    None of us can afford anything but huge humility when confronting the struggles of others. And only God gets to announce final judgement.

    But such ideas make for sleepy web wars.

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  26. Joe Blackmon, you infuriate me in so many ways I cannot count them all.

    Existential Punk and Jon Trouten, thank you, thank you for your excellent words of wisdom.

    IMonk, I had to come back to your site to read this, and I am glad I did. VERY enlightening, and not necessarily in that good way.

    Namaste,
    Debra

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  27. Well, I can’t comment on how they would treat you, but I can tell you how they should treat you—as a prospect for evangelism with a loving call to repent of your sin and trust Christ as Savior and Lord.

    That’s probably the biggest problem within the church today: We see prospects instead of people. Until that changes and we see people how Jesus saw them, I don’t see much hope of changing anything else.

    ps: Joe, this is in no way directed solely at you. It’s a pretty universal problem.

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  28. So once again I ask, how would your more conservative Christian churches and leaders treat someone like myself who asserts himself to be a Christian, who is married to another man, and who has adopted children with that other dad?

    Well, I can’t comment on how they would treat you, but I can tell you how they should treat you—as a prospect for evangelism with a loving call to repent of your sin and trust Christ as Savior and Lord.

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  29. This is the Christian message that gay families hear.

    You can watch other videos at this site: http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2009/07/video-this-is-what-hatred-looks-like.html.

    This Youtuber is promoting the traditional Biblical view on homosexuality and mocking gay families. They also deny the Christian faith of gay Christians and our place in the Kingdom. The message isn’t different than many posted in this thread of comment. It’s just done using spoken words and video images instead of written words.

    So once again I ask, how would your more conservative Christian churches and leaders treat someone like myself who asserts himself to be a Christian, who is married to another man, and who has adopted children with that other dad?

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  30. I think everyone learned something from the homosexuality panel. As one of the JPUSA folk who try to present the festival as a place where “big tent” Christianity is represented, I nonetheless winced at the lack of a more theologically rooted context for the discussion to take place in. No one, by the way, is to blame for that (unless it be us the organizers).

    Most of us are interested in escaping the old paradigms of the Christian Right. But as we do that, I hope we hold onto the biblical narrative, which is the narrative we are part of as believers in Christ.

    I will likely try to blog in the next few days on differences I saw between biblical feminists at the fest (with their robust approach to hermeneutics, as seen in Mimi Haddad’s and Sharon Gallagher’s seminars) and the — to me — very thin biblical narrative offered by any proponents of a Christian pro-gay position.

    I’m out at Bushnell still right now, and am typing this in their public library. So I’m internet hampered! But thank you everyone who participated in the seminars, the fest, and this discussion. I know you all want to honor and love Christ.

    Jon Trott / JPUSA

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  31. JA:”She prayed to be changed and had counselling and every other strategy that is out there. Eventually, not seeing a way out she tried to commit suicide 3 times.”

    too many of us go through that. I know I did. For me it mostly stemmed from who could I tell? I knew what my Christian community would say and I even felt I knew what the LGBT community would say to me. What I wanted most was to find a place where it was just God and I. I went through a lot of hell to get there, but I did it. I found a therapist that although was gay himself did not promote a certain agenda. I think people find it shocking was that he and I never really talked about sexuality. It wasn’t until I had my moment with God on this that I we did talk about it. My heart is that no woman or man has to go through what I did or your wife’s friend did. No one should see themselves as so horrible or so lost that suicide is the a thought. I feel that those who are questioning their sexuality need a safe place, as I did, to struggle with it and to know with out a doubt that Abba LOVES them, but he LIKES them more than we can begin to imagine. Because what the Christian community offer those of us in the LGBT choice is this, “God loves you, but he doesn’t like you because you are…..” And don’t say that isn’t true. “Love sinner, but hate the sin” That IS what the Christian community is saying to the LGBT. How is this safe? And how is this showing the beauty of the gospel? It doesn’t. It forgets the sinful woman. What Zacchaeus? He loved them and I dare to say he even liked them. He didn’t come to condemn and to say,”I love you, BUT…” He came to save and to show His Father’s great love for us all!

    I think what rings through my head in this thread was the gentlemen that said that if we were LGBT and a Christian we didn’t own a bible. I just couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around it and what it said to those who chase after Abba with their full heart. I wanted to jump his case, but what I would rather do is show him the love my Abba has shown me and to demonstrate my faith. However, you want to shut the door to conversation and want to growth, those statements do that. We may hold as others for us may hold, lessons and glimpse of our Father!

    I think I’ll leave it at that. I’m just passionate about those of us who have thought about suicide and those who have made that a choice. It should NEVER happen, never. That isn’t my gospel and I would think it isn’t anyone’s.

    Blessings

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  32. People choose to be rich, but no one chooses to be gay.

    Jesus didn’t say it’s how the rich spend their wealth or how they got it, he simply stated it’s hard for them to gain salvation.

    American Christians should be far more worried about living in the richest, most powerful nation on earth — one in which everything from health care to education to justice to political representation is based on how rich one is — than they should be about the influence of gay people on our culture.

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  33. Thank you Michael. This post has opened a can of worms that needed to be opened. Keep turning the world upside down. I will print this thread for friends to read. God bless you!

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  34. To Joe:
    My wife’s friend struggled for many years as a lesbian. She prayed to be changed and had counselling and every other strategy that is out there. Eventually, not seeing a way out she tried to commit suicide 3 times.

    To make a long story short, she couldn’t become hetero and couldn’t remain single and now is in a same-sex union.

    What should we tell this person? A person who felt that the only way to remain a Christian was to commit suicide?

    I consider myself conservative, I don’t think the church should officially bless same-sex unions/marriages; but I also can’t go to my wife’s friend and say “you’re going to hell because you are not repenting of your sin”.

    Is this a contradiction? I guess so, but I just don’t see any other way out of this because homosexual unions (the desire to love and be loved) are not analogous to being a drunk or being a serial thief.

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  35. Chad-“And, as for Jules’ comment on “sex, sex, sex,” the reason why sexual immorality is such an “obsession” in Christian circles is because:”

    that wasn’t me. 🙂

    Thom: “I’m with Jules. Thanks, Jules.”

    You are very welcome!

    iMonk: “Jules: I agree with you that such forums should exist, and I would hope many churches would create such forums, just to LISTEN and ask Questions without debate.

    This was a big step for CStone, though. I salute them.”

    I’m sure it was and I don’t wish to make what they did minor. I was just stating that frustration as a Christian, who happens to be gay.

    EP: “i think people are too focused on seeing homosexuality as a sin. They are concerned too much with the speck in the eyes of others when instead they should be concerned with the planks in their own eyes.”

    Amen friend! 🙂

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  36. The problem i have with many responses here is with how much certainty people express their interpretations of scripture. We ALL bring our cultural, familial, and personal biases to interpretation. Much of scripture is taken out of its historical and cultural contexts. When people communicate, they need to say, ‘i think the scripture says this about X’ RATHER THAN, ‘The Scripture is clear about X.”

    We are limited beings who cannot claim full knowledge of what G-D intends. There is disagreement over how to interpret those clobber passages used to condemn homosexuality. Those in favor of saying homosexuality is not a sin are told they are very wrong. Those who say that, i wish to ask, ‘How do you know they are wrong and you are right?’

    Homosexuality is NOT a lifestyle anymore than heterosexuality. NEITHER are a lifestyle. No one chooses to be heterosexual or homosexual.

    i am a married queer woman and both my wife and i are Christ-followers. Could we be wrong in our interpretation of Scripture? Sure. Yet, those wo speak against homosexuality, i find, can’t admit they could be wrong on their interpretations. Just because something is viewed as Biblical tradition does not make it right. That is making an idol out of traditions. Slavery and subjugation of women ran rampant because the Bible spoke to them. Look at how we have evolved and changed!

    G-D does not live in a vacuum nor any particular epoch. Times and cultures do change and evolve and i do not believe we can extrapolate passages of scripture out of their historical and cultural contexts and use the Bible as a rule book or ‘Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth’!

    Us queers have hear all the arguments for why people think the Bible condemns homosexuality. i think if those people want to be loving Christians, they could listen and read the other side and have enough humility to get that maybe they are wrong.

    i could be wrong but i am trying to live my life as authentically as i can. i have always lived my Christian life as seeking G-D and trusting that if i get off course G-d will nudge and guide me back since i am open to G-D’s leading.

    i think people are too focused on seeing homosexuality as a sin. They are concerned too much with the speck in the eyes of others when instead they should be concerned with the planks in their own eyes.

    Warmest Regards,
    EP

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  37. Martha, I agree wholeheartedly with your 12:07pm post.

    And, as for Jules’ comment on “sex, sex, sex,” the reason why sexual immorality is such an “obsession” in Christian circles is because:

    a) The Bible makes a very big deal about sexual purity vs. immorality, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Quite a number of biblical “giants” of the faith were brought low by sexual immorality, their own (David) or another’s (John the Baptist), or was confronted by it as a major temptation (Joseph). If the Bible makes a big deal about sexual conduct, then we Christians should, too.

    b) Sexual immorality is one of the easiest sins for individuals to fall into because it is a normal, natural impulse (i.e., sexual desire) turned awry. The fact that the impulse is often accompanied by genuine love for its object makes it particularly seductive to those who might be able to easily shrug off other temptations. The perversion of said impulse is similar to how natural, healthy hunger can become sinful gluttony. God intended sexual desire to be an impetus for the formation of biological families as the primary societal unit, for exclusive spousal bonding, and for the necessary continuation of the human race. Sexual immorality twists that godly impulse into a source of personal gratification, usually decoupling it from familial propagation altogether in the process.

    c) Other than outright murder, there is probably no other single sinful act that can thoroughly discredit one’s Christian ministry for the rest of his/her life, especially in the eyes of unbelievers, like an act of blatant sexual immorality. I would not be surprised if it was Satan’s axe of choice for felling vibrant, influential Christians based on the number of well-known pastors (or even Christian politicians) who have been brought low by it.

    d) Marital love accompanied by sexual bonding (“the two become one”) is an earthly representation of the special, spiritual relationship God has with His chosen people (ancient Israel or the Church, idolatry = spiritual “adultery”). As such, it is to be held in the highest esteem by those who love God and treated like the treasure it is rather than contorted to suit our own purposes. As Christians, our marriages and resulting sexual activities should be an earthly reflection of the hallowed nature of the eternal, spiritual bond between Christ and the Church.

    When discussing sex (rather frankly) with my teenage nieces, I use the analogy of sex being like driving a car. Driving a car can be a highly rewarding and productive experience as long as you drive a car as it was meant to be driven. That is, one should obey the traffic lights and signage; use their blinkers and lights when appropriate; not drive without a license; stay on the road and off the sidewalk or front yards; stay on the correct side of the road; not drive while under the influence of alcohol, medication, drugs, or lack of sleep; and treat other drivers on the road with courtesy and respect, even those who do not reciprocate. Violating any of those restrictions can be a whole lot of “fun” in the short term (as anyone who has ever joyrided can tell you), but it ultimately courts disaster.

    That all being said, I am convinced that most of the Christian world today is really in no position to shake a finger at practicing homosexuals (inside or outside the Church) as adultery, fornication, divorces, and deviant sexual practices are all rampant among American Christian heterosexuals, both married and unmarried. Rather than endlessly lecturing practicing homosexuals about sexual purity, we Christian heterosexuals should get the “beams” out of our own eyes and then lead by example through our own obediently chaste lives or God-honoring marriages.

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  38. “Condemn gay people from the pulpit, and hear the Amens. Condemn rich people from the pulpit, and hear the elders firing you.”

    Condemning rich people for being rich is wrong.

    How they got rich and what they are doing with their wealth is a valid topic for discussion.

    Just as it’s valid to discuss if poor people should spend money on lottery tickets or getting drunk, rich people should also be held accountable to how they spend their wealth.

    At least rich people claiming to be Christians.

    As to the elders firing you, if the discussion is valid and the elders do fire you, maybe the church needs some new elders or you need a new church.

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  39. Donalbain

    Matthew 19:9 is ignored by the church. As is the whole of 1 Corinthians 7.

    How are you going to fill a church if you bash divorcees or the friends/family of divorcees?

    Gays are (and always will be) a tiny minority – so hating them will never hurt your finances.

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  40. Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. It’s an obsession with Christians.

    From the “missionary” position, to abstinence education, to shunning gays because it disgusts us to picture a man having sex with another man, to the notion that God gave us marriage so we could have sinless sex – it’s absurd to tie ourselves in knots over something that is a basic human drive right there with food and shelter.

    Gays have always had sex, and they’ll always have sex. Teenagers have always had sex, and they’ll always have sex. Divorced people have always had sex, and they’ll always have sex.

    So why the obsession?

    Here’s my take, beginning with an example.

    We live in a society where everything from health to education to justice to political representation is based on the size of a person’s income, in direct contradiction to Scripture, but do we worry about that sin?

    No, because it might mean WE have to change. It’s far easier to find someone else’s sin and rail biblically against it.

    I hypothesize our obsession with the sex other people are having is simply a defensive mechanism to distract ourselves from our own sins.

    Condemn gay people from the pulpit, and hear the Amens. Condemn rich people from the pulpit, and hear the elders firing you.

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  41. Jules: I agree with you that such forums should exist, and I would hope many churches would create such forums, just to LISTEN and ask Questions without debate.

    This was a big step for CStone, though. I salute them.

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  42. Andrew Marin, I don’t know much about the “Bible doesn’t speak to homosexuality as we know it today” approach.

    I wouldn’t mind the “When it condemns this behaviour, what the writer really meant was…” argument, if it were a little more Scripturally literate; if, for instance, the prohibitions in Leviticus were linked with “We no longer observe the punishment of stoning for adultery” instead of the slick “We eat shellfish and wear polycotton blend shirts, even though those are prohibited also” because that’s just stupid – yeah, it gets a cheap laugh, but it’s about as rigorous as saying ‘Because the same volume of law contains the penalty for jaywalking and murder, murder is no more serious than jaywalking’.

    Oh, and as regards pederasty? Didn’t you know that the Centurion’s Servant was an example of a good pederastic relationship, and because Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant, this shows He approves of same-sex relationships? No? Read the article on “Pederasty in Ancient and Early Christian History” here:

    http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/GESUND/ARCHIV/SEN/CH20.HTM

    I can respect, if disagree with, the argument that prohibitions on homosexuality should be changed as the prohibitions on divorce have been changed. I have no respect for arguments that attempt to convince me that left is right, up is down, and no is really yes.

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  43. My apologies to all for not catching Brandon E’s comment. Too busy. I’m reluctant to go to moderation today as I’m traveling later.

    Again, my apologies.

    Brandon E: A person who wants to have a discussion and allows anyone to say anything is 1) a fool who 2) is not going to have any real discussion. I’m not that guy. The entire rest of the internet is that guy. Have a good time.

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  44. Alfred, indeed that is completely not what I was saying. It is okay to engage in same-gender sex as long as you’re married? No, no more than it’s okay to engage in opposite-gender sex as long as you’ve divorced your first wife and married your mistress.

    What I was trying to say is that being same-sex attracted is not, in itself, a sin. Being in love with someone is not, in itself, a sin. As long as you recognise the temptation, recognise where it can lead, and transmute that desire into a different love, where you love for the good and not for the gratification.

    We really need a better view of chastity. We’ve reduced chastity to abstinence, and made abstinence a matter of “you can’t do this.” Then, when we tell gay people their only recourse is to be chaste, of course that sounds about as appealing as telling them they can only eat cold porridge for the rest of their lives.

    Chastity is a positive, not a negative.

    And we are all called to be chaste – gay or straight, single or married. Marriage is not a licence to fornicate legally; neither “I can’t wait to get married to someone, anyone, just so I can have sex” (which is how some of the ‘True Love Waits’ stuff can sound) nor “Now that the magic words have been said, we can do any and every thing to gratify our sexual appetites.” It is just as possible to make your spouse an object of lust in order to satisfy your desires; to revisit what got me into trouble with the Driscoll posts, if someone is nagging his wife into having oral sex, that’s not married chastity, that’s lust – putting what tickles your sexual fancy over your spouse’s discomfort. And using Scripture to back it up with ‘a good wife wishes to please her husband and be subject to him’ is abuse of Scripture.

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  45. I have never comment on your blog before. I’ve just watched from afar. I have no doubt that Tony did a wonderful job and have felt very encouraged by him in the past. However….

    What does bother me is that in these conversations it is rare to have someone on the panel that is LGBT christian. As an LGBT I do get frustrated watching these conversations and we are talked about in third person. As if we are some strange thing that lives in an odd corner of the earth. I think it is important to see those of us who act out our faith. Who also can speak from experience. I do not doubt someone’s voice like Andrew’s to the conversation, but he is not LGBT. I admire what Andrew is trying to do, but who can better speak to their faith and their understanding of scripture. Someone like Candace Chellew-Hodge who wrote “Bulletproof Faith: Survival Guide to Gay and Lesbian Christians” does a wonderful job. Its something I (and others) really want to see in a conversation like this. I do understand there were people in the audience who identified themselves, but to have someone who speaks on our behalf is more powerful than you may know.

    On those who spoke from Exodus. I know over the years they have “softened” their message. I have no doubt they painted a very nice picture. There are just too many in the LGBT community that have left far too damaged from their “ministry”. Too many that have left their faith and have chosen a life that was as far away from God as possible. I don’t say this to mud sling and I do understand how many can read this will read it in that light. It is another bag of worms when you have talked with these people.

    Overall, a platform needs to be given to those of us in the LGBT faith community. Especially when it is going to a spot light seminar, ect.

    Blessings!

    PS: I own a bible. I own Streams In The Desert and have other daily devotions I read. I don’t remember who said that, but I wanted to address that.

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  46. What I’m about to say will appear to venture off the path, and I beg everyone’s indulgence while I present my case.

    My heart just breaks because people have been, and continue to be, attacked. To those who have been hurt by anyone claiming to be Christian, or if those who claim to know God have painted Him in any other brushstrokes than those of tremendous love and grace, please allow me to apologize for their words and their behavior. That is not what our God, who is the embodiment of love, would have us do.

    Does that mean I agree with certain lifestyles? Well, really, what difference does it make if I do or don’t? It is the opinion of our Creator that matters the most.

    Now, if you don’t agree with the Bible, then what I’m about to say may not be believed or accepted. Still, I must try.

    The Bible says God is love. Not that He feels love; He IS love, meaning He cannot do anything that is in anyway unloving. It also says He has rules that He insists we follow or we’ll suffer the consequences, some of them quite dire. Then it states that God is holy and He cannot abide sin.

    How do we reconcile those seemingly disparate qualities? By understanding that God does not vengefully strike out against sinners. Rather, because He is holy, He is unable to come close. That is why He asked for a perfect sacrifice, one that would bridge the gap between His holiness and our sinfulness. It is also why Jesus agreed to it. Our Heavenly Father deeply loves us all, and He desperately longs for a personal relationship with every single one of us. But He cannot come close without going through the “door” of Jesus’ death; otherwise His pure holiness would obliterate us. So, you see, what Jesus did on Calvary enables us to have a relationship with the One who loves us most.

    Those who have said “yes” to a relationship with God are mindful that, without Jesus, we have nothing, are nothing, and are doomed to destruction. We also know that, while we’re now able to have a relationship with the Father, we’re still imperfect. To quote a pastor of mine, “When we get to Heaven, God’s going to straighten out all our theologies, because we all got it wrong somewhere.”

    We know that, try as we might, we are poor representatives of the One who died for us all. (He did, you know. Died for every man, woman, and child who has ever lived or will ever live. Even those who don’t accept Him. Because that’s how many of us His Father loves: every single one of us.) We are also aware that we’ll be held accountable for everything we’ve said and done, because we don’t know whether anyone seeing or hearing us will then make a decision to turn away from the Author of Life. And that would break the heart of the Father.

    We know there is only one judge: God. We have learned that we are to discern between right and wrong. We also believe the Scriptures, which tell us that mercy triumphs over judgment. And we bear in mind that only God knows the heart, and knows who really has accepted the sacrifice of Jesus in their lives.

    So, in light of all of the above, if any of my fellow Christians have said or done anything harmful or hateful, whether by omission or commission, please allow me to apologize for them. That is the furthest thing from the heart of God.

    For all of you, I pray all of Heaven’s best to you and yours,
    Margret

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  47. I really wish I could have been there. I’m looking forward to the audio. And to all the commenters, thanks for keeping the discussion productive, its enjoyable.

    And Joe, I’ve expressed my opinion and have no need to belabor my points. Its a comment on a blog meant to foster positive discussion, not a hardened theological argument.

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  48. Tony,

    Thanks for the comments.

    I’d simply note that I did not intend to imply that you or anyone had announced there were no alternative views of these passages, but that a person in the audience informed about theological discussion would not have known that there is an on-going discussion on those passages, with scholars like Gagnon and Wright, to name two, having important things to say about the nature of homosexuality in the ancient world quite different from the exegetical conclusions that are commonly announced.

    peace,

    ms

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  49. Marin’s 3rd way intrigues me. I found his site through your Twitter feed last week. I’d love if you’d post more on it, sometime.

    I suspect the traditional side didn’t get an airing because everyone knows it, already.

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  50. And one more thing: the fact that a gay man and a hermaphrodite both felt comfortable identifying themselves in a tent full of people they didn’t know (most of whom were surely evangelicals) is a testament to your moderation of the panel, to all of us on the panel, and mostly to Mike Hertenstein, Cornerstone, and JPUSA.

    At how many of our churches would that happen?

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  51. Michael,

    Let me take issue with one aspect of your post. I don’t know about Richard, but I know that both Andrew and I would have and could have talked with great thoroughness about the passages in the Bible that reference homosexuality, both explicitly and implicitly. I was the one who mentioned the 6 passages, and I have studied them. So has Andrew. Plus, there are the “arguments from Creation,” etc.

    But, honestly, if the panel discussion would have gone down that road, nothing would have been accomplished. Most probably, Richard, Andrew, and I were far better prepared to talk at length about the hermeneutical issues with all of these passages than were Frank and Christine.

    The reason that it’s good that a conservative scholar wasn’t on the panel, is that he (and, surely, it would have been a he) would have unswervingly talked about biblical passages. I’ve been on panels like that. It doesn’t help anyone. We all know that the ways we read scripture don’t jibe, and that makes all the difference.

    Finally, you indicate that by mentioning the 6 passages, I was implying that everyone agrees with my interpretation of them. Actually, it’s just the opposite. As I tried to say on the panel, and as I have written about this issue, I’ve made it clear that, unlike many liberals, I do not want to simply ignore passages in scripture that seem to contradict my own theological position. I want to wrestle with them and take them seriously.

    In any case, you did a noble job moderating the panel and keeping your own opinion in check, which could not have been easy.

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  52. I don’t think Protestantism can resolve this issue. That is the major reason I left.

    There seems to be a Patristic teaching (I haven’t looked into it much yet) that says that all human sexual activity is basically disordered, and not part of the original imago Dei. Thus celibacy is to be preferred to marriage, even if it is not possible for everyone. Marriage is a positive good, not because it allows you to have sex legally, but because it is an icon of Christ and His Church.

    How much of this is “undigested Hellenism” in the Patristic teaching as opposed to “Hebraic” Bible-fidelity I don’t know. I know the Fathers were also no great fans of the Jews.

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  53. Homosexuality isn’t a sin. Anymore than heterosexuality. It’s a sexual orientation. We all have one. Our sexual and relational behaviors can be sinful. Gay people can be equally sinful as straight people. But I disagree with the notion that gay relationships are universally condemned in the Bible.

    My “homosexual lifestyle” is my family. My husband and our sons. I’m appalled that I would be expected to give up my family to walk in Christ with the lot of you. Would any of you seriously ask any straight person (or yourself) to give up your husband, your wife, and/or your kids so that you could participate in the life of the church?

    Seems to me that people love Marin’s book about bridge-building with the GLBT community and write impassioned reviews and recommendations for it. But they don’t want to actually listen to the anger, frustration, and pain that comes with his type of missionary ministry.

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  54. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.
    And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

    How strictly is this message from Jesus adhered to your churches? Is a second wife shunned and denied membership of your church? Or do you have remarried members of your church who are wholly embraced by the congregation?

    Now, as an outsider, I am not overly concerned about what Christians do inside their churches. It is, as far as I am concerned, a private members club and they are just as entitled to have their rules on membership as the Augusta Golf Club are. I happen to think both sets of membership rules are wrong headed and rather silly, but that is not the point as I am not a member. The issue is when they try to use their own private membership rules as a way we should govern society as a whole, even for those who are not in their club. That makes me angry, and it, I believe, downright immoral, even evil.

    And as for the comment about victimisation, the best way to prevent people feeling victimised is to stop victimising them. When a group of society has to deal with the physical, verbal and legal abuse that gay people deal with, they will feel like victims!

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  55. Those interested in the scientific perspective might look up this article though it’s not open access:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/t18t2213605303j7/

    …And an excellent book for lay people interested in the natural diversity of gender and sexuality is “Evolution’s Rainbow” by Joan Roughgarden.

    The common acronym LGBT is also, these days frequently extended to “LGBTI” where the “I” stands for “Intersexed”. With a growing trend to postpone surgical or medical intervention until after puberty, Christians are more likely to find themselves dealing with this rare condition where a baby is born with sexual characteristics of both sexes, or with concealed testes which will “turn her into a boy” at puberty. On the subject of political correctness: “gay men” is preferred to “gays”, but “lesbian” still seems acceptable as a noun.

    Of course, the ability to demonstrate that sexual and gender diversity is common throughout the animal kingdom sheds no light on human morality and gives us no guidance, except perhaps to force us to admit that these variations are not unnatural (“Adam and Steve”) but are God-given and like all other human attributes, God’s intention is for us to seek understanding and ways to conform these attributes within the love of Christ and the community of faith.

    Monk: Thanks for the clarification. Much appreciated.

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  56. Panel blurb: “Is homosexualty still a sin – or a sin somehow worse than all the rest? Can gays really change?”

    I think one has to nail down some extremely vague terms before one can even begin to address these issues.

    What is “homosexuality?” Is it a person of a particular sex being sexually attracted to others of the same sex but never acting on it? Or is it a person actually acting on those impulses? Personally, I prefer the latter definition and consider the former to fall into the category of just involuntary “temptation,” something every single person alive (Christian or not) faces in one form or another. No one should be chastised or ostracized for just being tempted.

    Now, if a man was attracted to his neighbor’s wife (who is off-limits as far as God is concerned), but he neither fantasized about her (i.e., succumbed to the temptation mentally) nor actually had an affair with her, then he is not an adulterer in God’s eyes. Sure, he may be tempted with adultery (or covetousness) in a major way, but being tempted is not a sin; otherwise, Jesus Christ Himself, who was tempted in every way that we are, would be considered a sinner.

    As for “change,” it may be that someone who is attracted to others of the same sex but does not act on it will never have that temptation go away in their lifetime. It may be something that always challenges them until the day they die, so I do not think we should expect people to “change” by eliminating their temptations altogether.

    However, if someone is actively engaging in same-sex acts, they can “change” their behavior. How? The same way the Bible commands every Christian to turn away from all habitual sins no matter what they may be: confess it to the Lord and stop doing it. Just stop. Then, fill oneself with the Word and the Spirit until there is no “space” for that habitual sin to sneak back into. I think the church should be there to give all the love and support (plus accountability, if requested) they can to someone who is attempting to overcome any habitual sin in his/her life, especially one as contentious as homosexual behaviors.

    Does that mean that someone might alienate or lose a person they care about by giving up same-sex acts? Of course, but the same is true for the person who breaks off a relationship characterized by heterosexual fornication or adultery. Jesus never said that being an obedient follower would be easy. In fact, I believe He warned that there was certainly to be a cost associated with obedience and that said obedience would even be a divisive “sword” in some instances. However, we should never forget His promise regarding relationships lost for His sake in LUKE 18:29-30.

    If Christ can free compulsive gamblers, adulterers, fornicators, drunkards, liars, thieves, idolators, gluttons, narcissists, and every other type of sinner out there, I am sure He can free practicing homosexuals, too. They are not some special class of sinner requiring “super-grace” or anything like that.

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  57. IMonk said, “I hope that every Christian who says what you’ve said- and it was eloquently and compassionately said- is asking all couples living/sleeping together outside of/before marriage to leave the church.”

    Personally, I think this would be a laudable act of congregational discipline, but there is about a 0.00% chance of it happening in most congregations in our modern culture. It is my guess that such a move would eliminate nearly all of the teenagers and most of the college-aged or post-college dating couples. So many churches today wink at heterosexual adultery or fornication although God considered those acts to be just worthy of capital punishment in the Law of ancient Israel as He did homosexual acts. Note well that I am proposing that those acts all still merit serious church discipline and NOT capital punishment.

    For example, the pastor at my old church once told a choir member (privately, not in a service) that he could not participate in the choir or in the men’s quartet as long as he was continuing a public, adulterous affair. The guy quit coming to church, and people in the congregation actually got mad at the pastor for taking a moral stand like that.

    And don’t even think about touching the divorce issue with a ten foot pole …

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  58. I know this discussion is part of the process of many of the church finally coming to terms with reality. As I read through the comments I just kept repeating to myself, “progress, this is somehow progress.”

    It is also proof that folks like Andrew have a lot more work to do in elevating the conversation for the conservative church. If only my conservative brethren could forget about the sex part long enough to see this is about loving people and bridging cultures, then we could really get somewhere.

    iMonk- brilliant job of moderating this thread of comments.

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  59. Alfred,

    I hope that every Christian who says what you’ve said- and it was eloquently and compassionately said- is asking all couples living/sleeping together outside of/before marriage to leave the church.

    That just might be a whole lot of someone’s children.

    peace

    ms

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  60. Jon Trouten, one last word:

    Oh how I wish I could in good conscience look you in eyes and say, homosexuality is a not a sin. I would love to be able to say to the homosexual community, not only are you welcome into the Church but so to is your homosexual lifestyle … but I cannot.

    I cannot because my belief in the moral teachings of the Bible are every bit as important to me as I believe your homosexual lifestyle is to you (if I may be so presumpuous).

    If someone could convince me that the scripures are ok with homosexuality than I am onboard.

    What I can say right now is this: you are welcome into the church of Christ and if you repent you will be forgiven.

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  61. Man…this issue has to be one of the most convoluted, nuanced, and complicated topic in contemporary Christianity…

    My position on this matter is till very imprecise and amorphous (kind of like my position on predestination), but I would have to disagree with some commentators who said the Bible is an anachronistic tome. As NT Wright said, Paul, being a well-educated, Jew/Roman citizen, was well aware of there being the possibility of two homosexuals loving each other as two monogamous adults do in a committed relationship. I’m sure Paul was aware of Plato’s Symposium and what it says about love between two individuals, especially those of the same sex.

    (For those who don’t know, Plato made homosexual love and heterosexual love equal, a position much of the Greco-Roman world adopted, something Paul would have definitely been aware of when he wrote the first couple chapters of Romans)

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  62. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transexual.

    I believe all were present at the seminar, by the way, though only the first and last identified themselves.

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  63. Jon Trouten says:

    “Afred’s response really shows why the [sic] most gay people won’t touch the church with a ten-foot pole. It also demonstrates why the church’s current approach towards gay people places every single behavior and relationship on equal footing….Any sexual expression is morally equivalent.”

    Jon, please don’t misunderstand my comment. There is a mile-wide gulf between what I said and what you accuse me of saying. I will explain.

    Not all sexual behaviour is equivilent. For example, I find rape morally reprehensible. Incidently, not everyone does. On the other hand I find absolutely nothing offensive about homosexuality (even though it is a sin).

    However, may seem to think that we can judge the Bible on our own terms. I disagree. If I decide to toss out the objectionable teachings of the Bible (ie. homosexuality is wrong) then who’s to stop a NAMBLA member to come along and say “hey I think pediphelia is ok too.” That was the point I was making.

    If there are homosexuals who refuse to adopt Christianity because they refuse to accept the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality then that is their decision to make.

    But Christianity isn’t a political party and its not a consumer good. And the Church is not a marketing department which looks at polling data and market research to determine how we should tailor our message to expand our reach.

    I am amazed at how Christians respond when they and the Church are rejected and hated. It is true that it would be foolish of us not to look inward to check ourselves to make sure we are walking in Christ’s path. But make no mistake, walking Christ’s path will most assuredly result in the Church being hated and condemned. Jesus, mades that very clear.

    In this postmodern world, where all morals are consider to be nothing more than a social construct, we should not be surprised by this culture’s response to our “judgementalism” when we say “that is wrong.” In this culture the words “you are forgiven” is considered to be judgemental. After all, who but a sinner needs forgiveness. Be not conformed by this world…especially not this postmodern one.

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  64. I think we are to be examing our own sin and not someone elses. But of course that is not any fun.

    What is GLBT anywany?

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  65. I have had promiscuous relationships. I have been addicted to narcotics. I smoke and I drink. I have fathered a child out of wedlock. I am prone to anger and pride. I have cheated by brother. I have taken what was not rightfully mine. I have judged, mistreated and forsaken my fellow man. I have lusted after women. I struggle with my sin more often in vain than not.

    All of this was done while I attended church. I was raised in the church. If the doors were open I was there. My father went to seminary only to leave due to his pending divorce, caused in part by infidelity.

    I was instructed in the discipline of righteous judgement. I could help you get right with God. I could also turn my back on you for not heeding the call of the righteous.

    My gay cousin was a youth pastor and engaged to a lovely Christian women. He gave all this up because he could not live in his own mind.

    Jesus has died for me, Jesus has forgiven me. Jesus has offered me life where there was none. I no longer judge my gay cousin. We talk of life, of God and our hopes for this world. We thank God for loving us as wretched as we are. My gay cousin does not look at my sins and faults. I am not sure if what he did was all he could do. I am sure that my life of wrong choices could have been otherwise. Ironically and selfishly I now thank God for my choices and my sin. I am thankful that I do not have to carry my cousins burden.

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  66. I can’t speak for Cornerstone. I think the purpose was to allow Andrew Marin, Tony Jones and Richard Amesbury the opportunity to voice a different point of view, not as authoritative, but as an alternative. As I said, the Exodus folks did a good job, but the rhetorical artillery was pretty strong on the left.

    Cornerstone sees itself as somewhat of an evangelical bellweather, and they may be seeking to send signals to the gay community that the rhetorical style is going to be gentler and more diverse. But as I said, I can speak for them. CStone isn’t a church or even a conference. It’s a free for all.

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  67. ..Why don’t we get a dozen or so prominent “men of God” to come together before the nations (old testament style) and have them openly beseech God for the unequivocal conclusive final word on this so we can lay it to rest once and for all…??

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  68. Seriously, what was the purpose of the panel discussion? I wasn’t there. Who was it geared towards? What was the desired results?

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  69. Afred’s response really shows why the most gay people won’t touch the church with a ten-foot pole. It also demonstrates why the church’s current approach towards gay people places every single behavior and relationship on equal footing.

    Any sexual expression is morally equivalent. The church has told us this over and over and over and, lo and behold, the larger gay community has listened for decades. My marriage and family life is morally equivalent to some guy seeking teenaged prostitutes, which is morally equivalent to bareback orgies, which is morally equivalent to men who hook up with other guys with no sense of commitment, etc., etc., etc.

    The church and the majority of its followers have gone out of their way to punish and demonize gay couples who’ve sought out and practice marital relationships, not only in the church settings but in the secular sphere, as well. Our families are shown no respect. Our partnerships are spat on. Our parenting skills are held suspect. Our presence in church communities is monitored and limited by those around us.

    And yet people seem shocked and surprised at anger towards the Christian community by the vast majority of gay people.

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  70. To Martha:

    You seem to be of the opinion that homosexual BEHAVIOR is not a sin so long as the consenting parties are married.

    Why stop there? Why is not all sex ok so long as it is within the context of a loving relationship?

    And once we have gone that far, let’s really take off the gloves and say it is all good so long as the parties are consenting?

    And heck, having gone that far let’s really open the floodgates and take out the adult requirement?

    There are serious people who hold every one of those positions and I could go further – much further.

    Either the Bible is our standard of conduct or it is not. Which is it?

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  71. Anna A may have shed some insight into my previous question: “Jesus appreciated the beauty of women, and enjoyed their company.” If we can include this in our definition of sexuality, I’ll settle for that. Still interested in your opinion, Michael.

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  72. Michael, I’m interested in your statement that Jesus is the most sexually healthy person that ever lived. I agree, and I think you meant to say that he is the ONLY sexually healthy person. As God incarnate he is by definition perfect and this would include sexuality by default. The problem with calling him sexually healthy, however, is in our own definition. If we believe that Jesus was celibate, and if we believe that he was without sin and therefore never looked lustfully at a woman (or man, since we’re on the subject), then how do we define Jesus as sexual at all? Is this a problem with our definition of sexuality, or is this another biblical paradox? What do you think?

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  73. And if parts of the Church *are* saying “Homosexuality is a sin”, then those parts of the Church need a kick up the backside.

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  74. I think – or rather, I wish – that we could get the difference between unchaste behaviour being a sin, and the line that “homosexuality is a sin” straight.

    Is it a sin to be a homosexual or a lesbian? Hell, no!

    No more than it is a sin to be a heterosexual. Even if we go by the model of brokenness (and I can completely see why a gay person would be insulted by being told that he or she is de facto broken by something they never chose), it is no more sinful than to be an alcoholic. Or a diabetic.

    Is it a sin to love someone of the same gender? No, depending on the love. If it’s a selfish love, more like lust, then yes – that’s sinful. But even loving someone with a strong physical desire is not, in itself, sin. The sin comes when the expression of that desire is performed (and that doesn’t necessarily mean actually having sex, and this applies to us straights as well – fantasising about the person, making an object of them for our pleasure, is looking with lust upon them and committing adultery in our hearts).

    Is it a sin to be sexually active outside the model that God has given us?

    Yes. That’s the sin. Fornication is fornication. Same as it’s a sin to commit adultery, even if “I really love him/her and he/she really loves me, and this isn’t just an affair.”

    Now, the hard part is when someone says “But you can get around the question of expressing your physical love with your beloved by getting married. I can’t do that, so what do I do?”

    That’s the part we have to deal with. But once and for all, I am sick, sore and sorry seeing the line (even, or I suppose I should say especially, in newspaper reports) that “The Church says homosexuality is a sin.”

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  75. Scott asks a very good question:

    “Can you be a Christian that regularly commits adultery? Can you be a Christian that regularly views pornography?”

    Clearly the answer to those questions is yes.

    And the same can be said for Christians who gossip, slander, and horde their money and time.

    And I am surprised that we cannot all agree that the same is also true for homosexuality.

    However, none of these individuals would be what I consider to be a muture Christian.

    And I would have a serious problem with any of these individuals if they were to actively promote their lifestyle. It is one thing, for example, to struggle with porn. It is quite another to be promoting the consumption of pornography as a healthy lifestyle.

    Personally I have absolutely no issues with homosexuals who struggle with their temptations. To condemn them is to condemn myself. However, I do have an issue with someone who gives up the good fight and yields entirely to their temptation and justifies it by redefining what is sin.

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  76. Okay, my two cents:

    To the extent that sexual orientation is a matter of biology, be it genetics or hormonal chemistry or brain structure or anything else, *being* homosexual is no more a sin than being blond or tall or fair-skinned; I’m convinced of this. Scripture, coming from a pre-scientific understanding of sexuality, seems to focus upon the sin of homosexual behavior. In other words, in my humble opinion, even if being gay is a sin, it’s no one’s fault, and it’s no one’s choice. What “repentance” means in this context is something I would like to see discussed further.

    I’d like to think it’s possible to honor the words of scripture, while attending to the pastoral needs and concerns the science necessarily raises. Focusing on homosexuality to the exclusion of more terrible and destructive sins that emerge from the dark, sinister center of the human mind, sins that premeditated and deliberately chosen, seems disproportionate at best and un-pastoral at worst.

    Joe Blackmon:

    I have murdered thousands of people in my heart, lusted after other women, coveted my neighbors belongings, committed a whole multitude of sins of the heart and mind, and I have repented.

    Or have I? How would I prove it? Would you just take my word for it? What other choice would you have? And why would I need to prove anything to you, anyway?

    Like I said, just my two cents.

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  77. Sean,

    You asked about Jesus could be sexually healthy? These ideas are based on my reading of the book, “Jesus, an Interview across Time.” (The book did get me into trouble at Sunday School, just by mentioning the possibility that He did not know which disciple would be the betrayer when He chose the 12)

    I am also making some assumptions about how men talk privately. If I err, I ask forgiveness.

    Jesus appreciated the beauty of women, and enjoyed their company. He probably talked about some of them, in the company of other men. But without letting the thoughts linger and turn into lust. He enjoyed being a man, with strong muscles and the ability to do hard things. But, without putting down the weaker men, nor being a bully, nor reacting badly when others were stronger. I’m sure that He wasn’t able to fish like Peter and John.

    As a woman, I know that I can get eyeprints on someone, but not let it turn into lust and/or an obsession.

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  78. Joe: I simply want to be clear that I am not having a “gay bashing” issue with you or anyone else. “Liberal bashing” seemed to be more your interest.

    Since you raised the issue of source material not being read, let me remind you that I can’t imagine you have an issue with my points regarding balance on the panel or victimization as a hermeneutic. What might not have been noted is that I was not posting with the intention of having a debate about what the Bible says. I’m pretty sure that everyone on all sides of the issue has read all the verses and has their own views on their relevance in concrete.

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  79. I’m sorry, iMonk, but I don’t see anywhere here that I’ve talked about gay-bashing. I actually posted that comment over at Frank’s site just to ask him if he was going to consider that gay bashing since he had said he would not tolerate that on his site. I was going over there as you invited me to two comments up. So now, you take something I said there and bring it up here?? I’m a bit confused, did you want me to drop it here or not–because that’s what I was attempting to do? Which is it, iMonk?

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  80. My thinking on the whole subject is that I am not be willing to discuss my views on homosexuality unless prefaced with a statement that I don’t listen to the music of Amy Grant or Vince Gill, especially anything they’ve done since about 1998. And anyone who knows the history of CCM should have no problem making the connection.

    Having said that, I have a copy of Andrew Marin’s book, and I’ll certainly be reading it while on a business trip over the next few weeks.

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  81. Joe: “Gay bashing” is far from the problem I’m having. Call it my version of “vain repetitions.” If all we have to say is the same angry things we’ve said before- no matter how true- I’m suspicious that there’s any real interest in people. It seems to me to be just handing out the scripts and designating the bad guys. When you have to say the “libs” are behind everything, it’s just another afternoon of talk radio.

    Call it whatever you want, but I want a different kind of conversation. After decades of hearing the same 5-10 sentences about gays over and over and over, I’m ready to move on.

    Add in to this sentences insulting your conversation partners – i.e. they aren’t reading, etc.- and I’m doubly tired of it.

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  82. Supposing that some people were born with a strong inclination to steal, that inclination would not have the same power as one’s sexual orientation. So the comparison of “homosexual acts” with “thievery” is really a ridiculous comparison.

    As someone with a foot in both world’s (the “gay world” and the “Christian world”) I wish I could say that I had a better handle on all of this- I do not. What I can say is that when I’m around other Christians I feel I have to always stick up for my gay brothers and sisters, and when I’m around other gay people I feel I have to always stick up for my Christian brothers and sisters.

    Kudos on even having that panel. That was ballsy. (Can I say “ballsy?”) I pray for the day when conversations like this can happen without the ensuing showers of brimstone and glitter.

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  83. Let me invite some of you to take Frank up on his offer to go to his blog and write very convincingly of perfect repentance, etc.

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  84. However, Christ died for us “while we were still sinners” — just as a thief can be saved and still struggle with thievery for years, and someone else will struggle with anger for a lifetime, homosexuality is not an “overnight” victory for the most part.

    Oh, give me a break. A person who is a thief that claims to have repented and trusted in Christ but still steals is NOT proving that Christ has accepted him while he struggles to overcome his addiction to thievery (I’m surprised liberals don’t call it that, actually) but rather he has proven that his profession of faith was false and he, in fact, did not repent as he claimed he had.

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  85. I have to back up the desire to “offer Jesus”. If i was engaged in a discussion with someone who was not Christian (as i once was) but who was sincerely curious, i would not give them lectures on their need to repent. Not only am i not their pastor, this is antagonistic and simply doesn’t ever work that i’ve seen.

    I think more important than playing morality police is to encourage one to begin building a relationship with Gd. The stronger that relationship gets the more issues they will begin to see differently and tackle on their own.

    I rarely see or hear anything about the notion that when a non religious person begins to accept Gd and/or Christ a living interaction develops regardless of the din of what others are piping on about. I have never found hardline moralizing to work. You can preach on about hellfire all you want, the nonreligious are not listening or listening with scorn. There seems to be so little trust in an experience of Grace, or that changes will come from simply building a sincere relationship with Gd. Once someone has journeyed a ways on a committed religious path, i find it’s really only then that the truly hard and deep self cleaning actually begins in earnest.

    Yes, you need to repent. And Lust is the same for everyone. My lust is not a better, cleaner lust then my neighbors. And once again i reiterate, the real, hard, life changing repentance and work that begins at the moment of first repentance doesn’t get serious until you’ve walked the journey a spell and started to REALLY come to grips with the sins that ail you.

    So yes, i would “offer Jesus” long before i would be the demander of repentance. Grace before Judgement.

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  86. “In such groups, homosexuality is a positive and prosocial feature (as it is in many animal communities including primates) which is why it doesn’t need to be “normalised”.”

    Sally D, more information or more detail on what exactly you mean, please? Not sniping, genuinely curious.

    I can see (in a Darwinian sense) how homosexuality can be a “prosocial feature” in a primate extended family group, where the dominant male gets to mate with the females, and the younger males are either chased off into exile or have to fight for mating rights; in such cases, if the troupe of young bachelors are mating amongst themselves, there are fewer fights with the dominant male or amongst the lower-ranking males for access to the females and less tensions during the mating season, and the group is more peaceful and united as a whole, making them stronger in numbers and better equiped to compete with other groups for resources.

    What this has to do with human relationships, I’m not exactly clear, since on the whole, in the developed world, we’re gone past living in extended family groups and banding together to compete for resources (including access to the fertile females) with other groups. That’s why I’d like more clarification of the point.

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  87. Has anyone read Andrew Marin’s book “Love Is An Orientation”? Read it twice, pray about what you read, then perhaps you’ll be prepared to comment on this topic.

    I understand that Jesus asks me to love my neighbor – sinner or Christian (and even unloving Christians, if there is such a thing). This is not some sort of fuzzy mental thing. It means show them acts of love. I leave it up to the Spirit to identify and categorize my neighbors’ sins, convict, convince and convert. I have a shelf full of Bible versions, and I have yet to find any version where Jesus appoints me as a sin inspector. But He does tell me to love my neighbor and gives me examples of Him loving all sorts of people. Should I do any less?

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  88. Sally:

    To whom else does the Christian look for perfect guidance on what it means to be a human being in any area?

    Jesus was fully sexual. He was perfect. He fulfilled the law of God. He glorified God. He loved perfectly. He lived perfect chastity and he never sinned sexually or in any related way.

    peace

    ms

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  89. I’ll just strike up a few points from the fundamentalist side of the camp:

    1. Homosexuality is a sin.

    2. So is heterosexual adultery.

    3. So is stealing.

    4. All sins must be repented for and fought against.

    5. However, Christ died for us “while we were still sinners” — just as a thief can be saved and still struggle with thievery for years, and someone else will struggle with anger for a lifetime, homosexuality is not an “overnight” victory for the most part.

    6. When evangelizing to the gay community, it is important to not view them as ‘worse’ than an adulterous heterosexual man or a murderer. We were all totally depraved before being “chosen by grace and not by works” (Rom 11), and just because we personally have not struggled with the sin doesn’t make us any better than them.

    7. Humility is the key. Love God and love others — if they hear the call of the Gospel, it is now their responsibility to deal with this sin, just as with all of us and our sin. But they are not somehow fundamentally different than the rest of us.

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  90. I’m still struggling to get my head around “Jesus and Jesus alone possesses the shape of Christian sexual identity”.

    What does that actually mean, Monk?

    There’s clearly something I’m not getting. But there again, I’m enough of a heretic to believe that the physicality of human beings, including our sexuality, is the product of evolution, and that we did not evolve as individuals or even as couples, but as extended family groups. In such groups, homosexuality is a positive and prosocial feature (as it is in many animal communities including primates) which is why it doesn’t need to be “normalised”. It’s already normal for a small percentage of humans to be homosexual or to have other sexualities including “not much interested in sex”, or “not particularly committed to either a male or a female identity”.

    The Gospels don’t give us much of a clue about the sexuality of Christ, beyond showing us a Jesus who seems comfortable in his own skin, loving and patient with both males and females, celibate (pace Dan Brown etc) and yet almost touchy-feely for a Jewish rabbi.

    Jesus’ life invites us all to interrogate our own attitudes towards sex and relationships, and especially our own infantile wish to possess our love object or our often-intrusive feelings of inadequacy about attributes of sex or of gender. Considering Jesus, we have to ask uncomfortable questions about what it means to live a successful or godly life, and about family as well.

    It sounds as though the panel went a lot better than it might have done, had a less responsible person been its guide. Thanks for sharing, Monk.

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  91. megan: I felt that the victimization hermeneutic was all over CStone last year and even more this year. The willingness to listen to these silenced and invisible voices is commendable, even crucial for a Jesus shaped spirituality, but there is a point- a subtle point- that is easily missed. The Gospel is the power of God, and none of our narratives of oppression can provide power in the place of the Gospel. And that’s what I’m feeling; the seduction of an approach to power that makes Jesus an example of God rescuing and siding with all oppressed persons. But why? Because of our narratives of suffering, or his great grace and purpose in the Gospel? A purpose that encompasses oppressor and oppressed together in the KofGd.

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  92. I was fortunate enough to attend this panel discussion. Michael, I want to thank you for the fine job you did in moderating the discussion. You kept it civil and productive, which is not easy to do but is something you seem to excel at. I admire that, probably because I certainly don’t have that gift!

    A few comments to a few of your comments…

    #3: I agree, and had the same reaction.

    #5: Her distinction was helpful, as was Frank’s about differentiating between his role as a friend and his role as a member of Exodus. However, I think it’s disingenuous for them to speak as though everyone who winds up in their groups is there by free choice. What about younger participants, who are forced in by their parents? Or participants who are told that they can’t remain in their church unless they “successfully” complete this treatment? I don’t want to cast aspersions on their motives, as I’m surely in no place to know them. However, their remarks did little to alleviate my concerns about the damage that these programs often do.

    #6: With all due respect, I think you may be missing the point slightly. I didn’t interpret Richard’s comments as directed toward the minority power group as much as they were directed toward the majority power group. That is, I don’t think he was telling the GLBT community to wallow in victimhood or to simply allow that mantle to be put on them. I think he was encouraging the heterosexual community to become aware of ways in which they’ve been complicit in creating a culture that normalizes heterosexuality to the point of oppressing the minority group. Regardless of your feelings on the issues, I would think/hope most of us realize that our culture, especially our Christian culture, has often been less than welcoming to the GLBT community.

    I don’t think that acknowledging one’s complicity in this is automatically a gateway into eternal victimhood. In fact, I think that this sort of honest reflection could become a way of healing rifts and moving past unhelpful politics (victimhood included). One thing I really appreciated about Andrew’s talks was his emphasis on understanding the other person’s perspective, based on his or her experience, filter and worldview. “Right from the gate, you can’t relate”—or however exactly he puts it.

    I personally see examining “heterosexism” more in this vein: acknowledging that you’ve been guilty of normalizing your perspective and only your perspective, and hopefully setting that aside in favor of elevating the other person’s perspective (another tie-in to Marin, I think, in that he encourages willingly reversing the traditional roles by taking the lower position).

    Again, I don’t think that automatically leads to excessive victimization, and I agree it’s not the final arbiter of anything hermeneutical, or any anything, for that matter. But I’d hope that it’s something we can all get behind, regardless of where we stand on the issues.

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  93. Just imagine for a moment, being told that you were going to hell for loving your wife and would be thrown out of the church for doing so.

    Leslie, please leave the straw man back in Oz. The cowardly lion gets lonely. If someone is told they are going to hell if they do not repent of their sins (homosexuality, outburts of temper, theft….) and that hurts their fee-wings I suggest they get over it. No one likes to be confronted with their sin but no one can go to heaven unless they repent of that sin.

    What’s the answer? I don’t know. But Jesus has it, so that’s where I start, by offering Jesus.

    Would someone, anyone really, be so kind as to explain how you “offer Jesus” without a call to repent of your sins. And if you call someone to repent of their sins, doesn’t that mean if they were to ask, in this instance, “Ok, but I’m gay. Are you saying I’d have to leave my partner and that I can’t have sex with someone of my own sex? I’m not attracted to the opposite sex. Never have been. Do you mean I cannot be gay and be a Christian?” that you answer with the biblically correct “Yes. I’m sorry, and I know that will hurt but to be come a Christian means to repent of your sins.”

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  94. +1 to Leslie. And rampant materialism is another huge sin, more damaging in my opinion than ‘dem gays, that is not only tacitly accepted, but even promoted by us. An SBC church down the street as part of their Fathers Day activites had a classic car show. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to buy something I didn’t need from someone just because they are a good Christian guy. Not to mention the wasted $$$ I’ve seen churches spend on the right color portable microphones, chairs, sound system, etc.

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  95. Where this thread started go before Michael put a stop to it is part of the reason I’m done with the Church as We Known It.

    Its not that either position is right or wrong, its that advocates of either position want to ensure the banishment of the opposite position and both neglect to contribute to how we might bring Christ to people who stand on the opposite side of our own view.

    In my life’s walk with Christ and with Christians (I am one) I see this so often it just hurts. We don’t extend the grace that Christ extends to us to each other.

    On the greater topic of homosexuality my views were challenged when I dated a girl whose brother is gay. It was a life changing experience to befriend and get to know John and his partner.

    What often doesn’t come up in these discussions is that gays and lesbians have real, loving relationships of which sex plays a small part. In that respect, they do not differ all that much from heterosexual relationships.

    My wife & I have sex, its great, we love it. But it is not the foundation of our marriage, Christ is. We want to love each other, in a full, holy sense of the word. We desire that union.

    When Christians discuss homosexuality we reduce it a sexual act, ignoring that this act is but a symbol of the very real desire of homosexuals to love another person deeply.

    This is my friend John’s dilemma. If he pursues that same desire, the church throws him out. If he doesn’t pursue it, he withers inside.

    Just imagine for a moment, being told that you were going to hell for loving your wife and would be thrown out of the church for doing so.

    That’s what gays & lesbians who desire Christ are faced with. And our answer to them, thus far, has been hateful at worst, pathetic at best.

    What’s the answer? I don’t know. But Jesus has it, so that’s where I start, by offering Jesus.

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  96. Michael,

    Thank you for your incredibly thoughtful response and overview of the debate at Cornerstone. You sound like the perfect moderator…though they may want to add you to the panel next year!

    Alan Chambers

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  97. You’ve never seen a push to normalize gluttony? Come to a Southern Baptist convention annual meeting and type that.

    Guys- please consider that when you say “acts” you are separating a human being in ways that are dehumanizing. You’re amplifying the sexual aspect of this to emphasize what offends you.

    We are talking about people God loves and for whom Christ died. Creating a “category” of sinner is a high risk matter.

    Gays are well aware Christian think gay sex is wrong, but the way it’s talked about, they would have to be crazy to not also conclude that we believe they are a different, despisable, kind of human.

    Leo: Read Andrew’s book. It’s reviewed on this site. https://internetmonk.com/archive/my-highest-recommendation-love-is-an-orientation-by-andrew-marin

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  98. I like, understand, and agree with what John has said – and have said similar myself (nowhere nearly as well, though).

    My problem – HOW do we “help” people who are facing what Kenny states – “some who are struggling (unsuccessfully) against their desires.”?

    Guess I am looking more for practical anddresses and answers to struggling and hurting people, expecially given today when the seemingly universal trend in society is acceptance. We reach out with love and understanding, while standing firm on the sinful nature of this (with other) behaviours…

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  99. I would like to pick up on something John said, that illustrates what to me makes the discussion of homosexuality different from the discussion of, say, porn viewing.

    John said, “These are sins that are very common to mankind. But, are we pushing for our “rights” to engage in them?”

    Here is the rub: I see/hear noone in the church defending porn viewing, or for that matter gluttony, or gossip, etc. — but I do see a strong push to normalize same-sex attraction and the acts that are assumed to naturally follow from it, and that is where I see the problem.

    However, as we resist that push we (evangelicals) also need to recognize that we have largely acceeded to the normalizing of another situation just as contrary to the biblical witness: divorce and serial monogamy. That fact does a lot to discredit our opposition to the homosexual lobby.

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  100. Point taken iMonk,

    John,
    “But, are we pushing for our “rights” to engage in them?”

    I would guess there are many flavors of practicing homosexual Christians… eg. Some who are asking for their right to engage in homosexuality and some who are a struggling (unsuccessfully) against their desires.

    I would agree with you that there is a difference between the two. I certainly have no easy answers.

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  101. John just modeled how to take a strong position, but not fall into name-calling and predictable shouting. All take a lesson.

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  102. I have heard the endless discussions about sexual sin right / wrong – Christian vs. non-Christian over and over again. What I have seen that is of the utmost importance is our attitude towards Christ and His design for our being.

    Am I willing to accept that something that I may be engaged in is wrong? Will I push the issue of “My rights” to do as I please?

    This is where I find the reborn Christian spirit lies. In a humility to admit wrong, to not try to push for personal rights, to remain open and willing to correction.

    We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Many if not most of us have committed willful acts of sexual sin. Pornography viewing, repetitive masturbation, sex before marriage (male or female, heterosexual/homosexual, and many adultery outside of our own marriage.

    These are sins that are very common to mankind. But, are we pushing for our “rights” to engage in them?

    Homosexuality finds absolutely no place that is positive in Scripture. No instruction for favorable and healthy same gender sexual relationships. It is always shown as against God’s intended design and practice.

    So, if one finds himself or herself in a sexual situation with someone of the same gender, go to Jesus and seek His forgiveness. Orientation or not, behavior is behavior. We can alls struggle with desires that transcend God’s design and heart. This is exactly why He died for us.

    It isn’t about what a Christian can do and still be a Christian, it is about what a Christian does whey they fall short. Seek God’s grace for it.

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  103. cey – to answer your question: “How do the scholarly advocates of the gay community define “sexual immorality?” Is it merely unfaithfulness to one’s life partner? Or sex outside of the covenant that a person and his or her partner have made?”

    The answer is all of the above. Any sexual activity outside of a committed monogamous relationship is immoral because their baseline understanding is that two committed, monogamous, consenting adults of the same sex in a sexual relationship is not a sin. Many conservatives point to the fact that even though these relationships are committed and monogamous, it is still sex outside of male-female marriage and therefore a sin. Hence, the GLBT community’s fight for civil unions/marriage. Legally (and in their best case scenario, then because it is legal, it also morally proves their legitimacy in conservative’s minds) then puts their committed monogamous relationships on the same footing as straight marriage. Even if gay marriage is legalized throughout the country, will any of the fighting end between these two groups? No. But that’s the thought at least. (Let me add a caveat: the fighting can end if a paradigm shift in approach and best-case-scenario changes from “winner” to “distinctly with”.)

    Their Scriptural proof for this is quite extensive, but can be quickly summed up in that:

    The Bible does not speak to homosexuality as we know it today—it speaks mainly to pagan sexual rituals (in the Old Testament) and pederasty (in essence, men raping boys) in the New Testament.

    Hope this helps.

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  104. MOD: This thread appears doomed, and that’s a shame. Don’t you guys ever get enough of this?

    cey: I wouldn’t presume to speak for anyone on the panel. One person did bring up the bias of “heteronormality,” which made me want to ask if “academic normality” or Darwinian survival of the fittest were also on the menu.

    The problem of ethics for Christians is a problem of text interpretation and community application; and that problem doesn’t get absolutely solved by any method I’ve ever seen in Protestantism. I’ll take consensus and live with the imperfect results. I’m willing to let others do the same, but as I heard several times, we have to respect a community’s right to define things differently. I’m all for that, within mutually respectful and non-violent, non-oppressive boundaries.

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  105. Can you be a Christian that regularly commits adultery? Can you be a Christian that regularly views pornography? Can you be a Christian that willfully breaks minor laws such as speeding?

    Or is it that we can see homosexuality on display and attack while most other sins, particularly of the sexual nature, are conducted in the privacy of our lives where no one sees us so we aren’t getting caught?

    Sin is sin. We apologize for the internet porn addict because our browser histories aren’t much better but we can condemn the homosexual because that’s one sin that we’re not committing ourselves.

    Do you see the problem or am I making a third and long pass too?

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  106. “…Jesus as the most sexually healthy person that ever lived…”

    This is one of those things that I know to be true, of course, because it’s Jesus. But it’s a truth that is hard to grasp in terms of how he lived and related to others as a sexual being. Some more insight into this would be cherished.

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  107. Joe Blackmon
    Don’t look now, but that saw that you are using to cut off the homosexual’s branch is, simultaneously, cutting your branch off as well. You have left yourself with no where to stand.

    As to Cornerstone; great thoughts, Michael. I am glad that you had the chance to participate in that discussion.

    Question; How do the scholarly advocates of the gay community define “sexual immorality?” Is it merely unfaithfulness to one’s life partner? Or sex outside of the covenant that a person and his or her partner have made?

    It seems that these advocates of the gay community are ignoring the context in which God created sex and made us sexual beings.

    Anyone runs into problems when they “strip down” a Biblical subject or topic to its “essentials”. One inevitably leaves out important passages and information. Besides, one person’s definition of what is “essential” is different from another person’s.

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  108. I’m not a liberal Christian.

    Let me ask it this way. Do you have any unrepentant sins?

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  109. Kenny

    Wow!! You sure showed me. (/sarcasm)

    Please cite the bible verse that say you have to lose weight if you’re overweight. Gluttony in the bible was a sin that had to do with a lot more than overeating. Even taking the overeating as beign the sin, being fat would be the result of the sin. So the person got fat, stopped overeating, but they’re still fat. Way to oversimplify and completely miss the point. Of course, most liberal christians use this as their first line of defense when confronted by Christians with the truth.

    Can you be a gossiping Christian? Can you be a greedy Christian? Maybe you missed the part where I said “live in any other sinful lifestyle and refuse to repent.” Reading is still fundemental.

    Can you be a judgmental Christian? Yet another 3rd and long play out of the liberal christian playbook. I mean, it’s not like Jesus said to not throw your pearls before swine. It’s not like Paul said to reject a divisve man. It’s not like Paul also said not to keep company with someone who claims to be a Christian but lives a lifestyle that demonstrates a lack of obediance to Christ and His teachings. Each of those situations would call for the Christian to “judge” (i.e. evaluate and draw a conclusion).

    [Mod: stop the name calling please.]

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  110. Joe Blackmon,

    Can you be a fat Christian? Can you be a gossiping Christian? Can you be a greedy Christian? Can you be a judgmental Christian?

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  111. You cannot be a Christian and live a homosexual lifestyle (having sex with members of your own sex) anymore than you could be a Christian and rob banks on a regular basis or live in any other sinful lifestyle and refuse to repent. Period. Gay apologists (like those at Mercer in Atlanta) and gay christians like Ray Boltz need to read a Bible if they actually own one. If saying that makes me narrow minded and unkind I will wear those monikers with pride. In fact, I’d go so far as to pay money for a big, tricked-out name tag if one was available.

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  112. Thank you, Michael. I appreciate your refusal to allow the opposing sides of the debate define the terms on which the debate is to be conducted.

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  113. I want to be clear that our various experiences may play a role in how we love, live, repent, relate, etc. But our ultimate identity and ultimate approach to the world isn’t submerged in grievance. I want to respect the experience of suffering in the lives of others. I want to repent of its effects. But I want to treat you as a person in Christ first.

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  114. We do not emerge from the New Testament as victimized groups. We come away as a new people, a new race, a holy nation, the body of Christ.

    Well said, Michael.

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  115. I wholeheartedly agree that if we are serious about the place of Our Lord Jesus Christ, then we need to see him as our prime example in all matters.

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