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March 22, 2012

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The same is true with homosexual sex. Because body parts are being used in a manner inconsistent with their design, homosexual behavior leads to a disproportionate danger of getting a life-threatening disease. The chances of acquiring HIV are increased because of the damage that occurs to body parts that aren’t designed for sex.

Alan, can you comment on the chance of acquiring HIV for a homosexual individual involved in a monogamous same-sex relationship?

Thank you Alan.

I may be wrong or could not quite follow your reasoning when it came to an argument from the healthy risk of homosexual behavior.

I think that a case from healthy risk of homosexual behavior acted by same-gender or opposite-gender would indeed show that the act may lead to undesired outcome(e.g. anal cancer, Gay Bowel Syndrome, Anal Papilloma e.t.c) but I believe this case by itself is not strong because its solution does not have to be returning to "normal" but finding a safer way to perform the homosexual act.

My observation above assumes that I misunderstood or read into your text what is not. I am on the edge of your mercy and mega- sorry if I totally missed your point.

In Christ,
Prayson


I fail to see the importance of winning the normalcy contest. Could someone please explain this to me?

Malebranche,

Why do you think homosexuals want to be accepted as normal?

I can understand why a homosexual wouldn't want to be thought a weirdo. Who would? What I'm wondering is why someone would care to announce that in the normalcy contest, heterosexual orientation wins and homosexual orientation loses. Is there some good reason to tell homosexuals that they aren't as normal as we are?

So I ask, what's the importance of heterosexuals winning the normalcy contest?

Mal,

Is that a rhetorical question, or are you actually boggled by it?

I'm genuinely boggled at what of any importance Alan thinks he's accomplished in the dialogue with homosexuals by asserting that they aren't as normal as heterosexuals are.

Malebranche,

Homosexuals try to legitimize their sin by making it appear normal. Alan is countering that move. Seemed obvious enough to me.

Jonathan,
I appreciate your reasoning, but shouldn't we also be discouraging others from promiscuity, theft, violence, and all other sins as frequently and publicly as homosexuality ?
Please let me know if my perceptions are skewed, but sometimes it just seems that the focus on homosexuality is more prominent than other sins. While I can't say I would encourage it, it seems no worse than lying, stealing, violence, etc.

James,

All of the things that you list are discouraged by those holding to a traditional Judeo-Christian worldview. You are right in that the discouragement of those things does not play out in public like the debate on homosexuality and, by extension, same-sex marriage. Perhaps the reason that the debate is so public in regard to homosexuality and same-sex marriage and not so much in regard to the things that you listed is because there doesn't seem to be a widespread, coordinated effort to try and define those other things as normal, while at the same time also trying to completely delegitimize the traditional Judeo-Christian worldview as it relates to the things you listed. I am sure that if there were a widespread effort to do that in the areas that you listed, it would be playing out in public as well. That's the way I see it, anyway.

Mal,

Asking what Alan's aiming at is a little different than asking what's gained by 'winning the normalcy contest.' Anyone who's been to high school can answer the latter pretty easily.


James,

Ever seen a t-shirt that says "Violence Is Normal" or "Lying? Okay By Me!" or "I'm Here, I'm a Thief, Get Used to It"?

Good point, Bennett.

Deedub,
Point taken. Thanks for making the distinction.

Anyone who's been to high school can answer the latter pretty easily.

Well I would have thought that anyone who went to high school would know that homosexuality is not normal in both senses that Alan pointed out. How many educated folks, after all, think that most sexual activity that occurs is homosexual activity? On the frequency interpretation of "normal," therefore, Alan's thesis is entirely trivial. What about the other disambiguation according to which normal means "in accordance with the biological function of the organ"? Well, who will think to themselves "I learned something today" after being told by Alan that the biological use of the male reproductive organ is reproductively complementaru to that of the female? Again, on this interpretation Alan's thesis is trivial.

So, although it's clear that the post reminds homosexuals of such trivialities as "Most people aren't gay" and "Homosexual sex doesn't accord well with the biological function of the reproductive organs," I don't yet see how it advances the discussion in any substantive way.

Mal,

That part I couldn't answer. I guess you'd have to ask Alan directly what his intentions are.

That part I couldn't answer. I guess you'd have to ask Alan directly what his intentions are.

Very well. Alan?

Alan is teaching with Brett and Greg on the STR cruise this week, away from the internet for the most part.

You said, "Is there some good reason to tell homosexuals that they aren't as normal as we are?" But that's not exactly what the article is trying to do. This is written to help people think through the issue. You make it sound as if it's an open letter of condemnation to homosexuals.

I agree with Jonathan--I often hear the claim that it's normal and therefore it's okay. It seems perfectly legitimate to counter that claim in one of the many posts in this series, as one of the things that commonly comes up in a discussion about homosexuality.

You say his answer is obvious, but it's not as obvious as you might think, as people have often not thought through this.

You make it sound as if it's an open letter of condemnation to homosexuals.

Well I agree that this is not the post where such a condemnation was issued. That came much earlier in a previous post in this series. Witness:

Are Homosexuals Going to Hell? The answer to this question is easy. Yes, they’re going to hell. (Alan Shlemon, http://str.typepad.com/weblog/aaalan/)

That’s at least how it starts. Toward the end, however, we are told,

I’m not here to declare who is going to Hell or not.

I sometimes become lost amidst the subtlety.

Next line:

But guess what? Liars are going to hell too. So are gluttons, drunkards, and adulterers. Do you see a pattern here? Everyone is going to hell.

That seems like an important part of the quote.

And of course, there's:

So I suggest you rephrase the question with the following: Can homosexuals go to Heaven? Then you can clarify an important truth. Everyone is guilty, including me. There’s no special sin that damns some people to judgment while others get off easier. Therefore, everyone deserves to be punished. That includes homosexuals and heterosexuals. They might not be responsible for the same crime, but they’ll all get jail time because they’re guilty. That’s bad news.

And then a whole lot of the post is about God's grace offered to him and offered to homosexuals.

Yes, he's not here to declare who has received God's mercy, because we all deserve Hell, but are offered God's mercy, and God knows who has asked for it--including homosexuals--who has then received it.

It's all in the context.

What the rest of the quote shows is that Alan is using language in a very strange way. In ordinary discourse, saying "Everyone is going to hell" means you affirm universal damnation. But that isn't what Alan believes. Why is he using language in such a strange way? Again, perhaps we should wait for him to speak for himself, but maybe it's for an initial shock value that is intended to draw the reader in and keep them interested. Given that evangelicals already have a reputation (deserved or not) for being quite condemning of homosexuals, however, I wonder how prudent it is to frame the discussion that way right out of the gate. It's kind of like saying, "Well, the first thing I want to say about this is that homosexuals are going to hell." Once eyebrows raise one follows up with, "Oh, well calm down; I think everyone is going to hell, actually. But not really. That's not really what I think. In fact, I think a lot of people aren't going to hell. A lot of people are going to heaven, actually. So here's what I really mean. Homosexuality is a sin, and, as a sin, merits eternal punishment. All sin merits eternal punishment, in my view. And yes, homosexuals can go to heaven. All sinners have a chance at that."

But back to this post. As far as I can tell, the focus is not on showing that the claim "Just because X is normal doesn't mean X is moral" is true. This post seems primarily dedicated to merely saying that with respect to their homosexuality, homosexuals are not normal and that it can lead to AIDS and such things.

saying "Everyone is going to hell" means you affirm universal damnation. But that isn't what Alan believes.

In the context of this piece, it means every person's sins are worthy of hell, not just homosexuals'.

Given that evangelicals already have a reputation (deserved or not) for being quite condemning of homosexuals, however, I wonder how prudent it is to frame the discussion that way right out of the gate.

The title of that post is a question Christians get asked, and is intended to help people respond. (It actually comes from a literal question his wife was asked. He took that info out of this version, but you can see it in his letter for March.) And in fact, if you read the post, you'll see that Alan agrees with you. He says that this question is not a helpful one to answer because whatever you answer will be misleading. He says we should reframe the question entirely.

Here it is again:

But I can offer some tactical advice. Sometimes you can’t answer the question this post raises with a simple yes or no. It’s not because you’re avoiding the difficult question, but because you don’t want to give a misleading answer. Plus, you want to make sure the person is asking because they genuinely want to listen to your response and not just pose a gotcha question.

So I suggest you rephrase the question with the following: Can homosexuals go to Heaven? Then you can clarify an important truth. Everyone is guilty, including me. There’s no special sin that damns some people to judgment while others get off easier.

Back to you again:

As far as I can tell, the focus is not on showing that the claim "Just because X is normal doesn't mean X is moral" is true.

Of course it isn't. It's responding to the first part of the claim (that homosexuality is natural and therefore okay) by showing that it's not normal. If it's not normal, the claim fails.

Define 'normal'.

Amy,

You think the following argument is bad:

(1) Homosexuality is normal.
(2) Whatever is normal is moral.
(3)Therefore, homosexuality is moral.

I agree with both you and Alan that this is a very bad argument. I also agree that under both interpretations of “normal” that Alan outlined, both premises are false.

I also must say that I think that the post is not entirely accurate concerning the dialectical situation. Often, after all, it is the believer who is giving these sorts of dumb arguments! How often have we heard the following argument trotted out after a believer has been asked why he believes homosexuality is immoral?

(4) Homosexuality is neither natural nor normal.
(5) If homosexuality is neither natural nor normal, then it’s immoral
(6) Therefore, homosexuality is immoral.

(I hope no one will be so tiresome as to say that what these folks really have in mind when giving this kind of argument is either Aristotelian ethics or natural law theory, since that is often obviously not what they have in mind).

In this dialectical situation, a person might assert “Homosexuality is normal” not in order to prove that it’s moral, but in order to undermine this equally terrible argument. Not that I think that’s a good way to undermine this argument. I’m just making a point about what they are and are not up to.

I also wonder if the post is even wise. The title is of course the first thing folks will read. They will, naturally enough, read it before anything else (excuse the redundancy). And after reading the title and nothing else, what impression will be given? I think a glance at the title makes the whole post seem rather petty, as though Alan is interested in determining who would win in a normalcy contest between gay and straight people. After reading the post, moreover, it isn’t very clear (to me, at least) that anything more has been said than, “In case you were wondering, homosexuality is not normal, and it can lead to AIDS and other bad things.” I certainly don’t come away thinking, “Oh, now I see why it’s important to join the chorus of other conservative evangelicals and announce that homosexuality is not normal. It’s important because there’s this incredibly terrible argument a premise of which is Homosexuality is normal, and we need to know how to refute this argument.”

Concerning the Church’s discourse on homosexuality, I once heard someone say, “It’s not even always what they are saying (thought that’s important) as much as it is what they seem to be preoccupied with.” If the Church is to present Christ to homosexuals and the only things they can say frequently are, “No you may not marry each other, you can bet your bottom dollar that this merits eternal torment, and of course your orientation is not normal,” I think the chances of Christ being presented are pretty low.

Sometimes I think folks here are being quite intentionally obtuse. Looking at all of these articles written by Alan on this subject, I think a junior high kid could comprehend the purpose, method and points Alan makes. They are clearly in response to the claims made by the homosexual community, nothing else. To pretend confusion or feign indignity about the methodology seems very disingenuous and a poor attempt to derail valid discourse. Just sayin'...

Good words, Carolyn. it's the nature of the beast. When you make it your purpose to foul every post on a blog you have to dig sometimes.

I think I just need some clarification on the subject of normality/homosexuality/nature/ behaviour all tied into one: Is it possible to confine or place homosexual behaviour,or nature if you will,in the same class as the mentally disabled or unstabled--meaning,for example,like how we somewhat view mental retardation, schitzophrenia,autism etc. as "normal" behaviour although the behaviours are exihited as abnormal behaviour? Don't misunderstand me: This has nothing to do with any moral equating,but just what we classify as "abnormal" behaviour--staying within that context. I'll try to be more clear in what I'm asking: Putting aside the moral aspect,aren't the conditions I revealed above "normal" in the sense that we understand that certain things could not be prevented to say,for example,to give birth to a mentally disabled child and more so nothing could correct the condition. So,in effect,we would deem the mentally disabled person as being "normal" in the sense that the mentally-retarded condition was from birth. Is homosexuality abnormal because of the moral effects or because it's "normal" people behaving "abnormally"?

I think I made a slight mistake in my last question. It should read:

*Is Homosexuality abnormal because of the immoral effects of the behaviour or is it because it is "normal" people behaving "abnormally"?*

Sorry about that,but that's what I needed clarification. Thanks

Thank you guys for your very enlightning conversation on homosexuality. I just found this site tonight and will be a regular viewer. Homosexuality is no different than any other sin. If you admit it, turn from it, and ask GOD to forgive you of it, then you will be saved. But like all other sin, if you do not admit it, and turn from it then you have chosen which god you will serve and must suffer the consequences. Let me ask you guys, and ladies, about a question I received a few weeks ago that is bugging me. How does one born a hermaphrodite determine their sex?

It's that homosexuality is no differnt to any sin other than it defiles the temple of the body but i suppose we talk about it more due the political agenda to "normalise" this sin using social engineering.

Genetics.

When I hear normal, in this context, I hear completely equal.

Up here on Canada we have two major cultures that founded the country. British and French. There are many other cultures, but these are the ones the political structure was based on. Canadiens vs Canadians. We are roughly 25% Canadien.

They have a term : Distinct Society. There is also the idea that they may be in the same country, but they are a separate nation.

When English Canadians hear Distinct Society, the idea of equal doesn't seem to translate well especially when you throw in the confusing differentiation between a country and a nation. Even though it does not, the term distinct comes with a connotation of better.

You may be struggling with 10% of your population wanting to be seen as "normal" but up here we have 25% of our poplulation who are arguing among themselves over Soverignty Association ( which to an English Canadian is seen as moving out of your parents house but expecting them to pay your rent and let you pop over for supper whenever you seem to have blown the food budget on beer ).

This case, in comparison, is much more straight forward. They want to be seen as equal. They are not, as far as I know, wanting to define themselves as a distinct society who are looking for the ability to exempt themselves from the "straight" constitution because they are a separate "nation" and looking for sovereignty association where they want self rule but still want the straight world to pay to support it.

To answer your question from a strictly linguistic point of view, one might rightly say that a homosexual orientation or homosexual practices are not normative (ie, not the norm).

On the other hand, homosexuality is natural (ie, it occurs in nature) and despite protests to the contrary, is not innately weird.

As to the suggestion that gay sexuality run counter to "how the body is designed," I'd have to ask, says who? Who decided how each and every body part can rightly be used? Sure, a penis can be "used" to impregnate a vagina, but is that the one and only purpose of a penis? Says who?

Who gets to decide what is the "right" way to use our body parts? Are we going to do that for everyone or just for gay folk?

Some food for thought/questions to consider...

There are normal and nom-normal ways to use a body part, hoewever.

and salmonella is natural. That doesn't mean it should be normal.

"Normal" as most people use it - as you appear to be using it here - is suggesting, "good," or "right." There is nothing inherently "Not good" or "not right" about homosexuality. Agreed?

Or, perhaps your example is suggesting "not healthy," is that it? Then, in that case, can we agree that there is nothing inherently "not healthy" about homosexuality?

It is not "normative," but that doesn't make it bad, any more than being left-handed is not normative, but not innately bad.

Agreed?

Dan

"Agreed?"

The intentional misuse of a gift is a bad thing. Let's say you give me a china set and I use them to serve dog-food to my three dogs. Doesn't that misuse demonstrate my contempt for both you and your gift?

So, to your question, NO! The reason being that the misuse of a gift given to us by God is showing contempt for both God and his gift. How is that a good thing?

Louis said...

The intentional misuse of a gift is a bad thing.

I'm not sure that you could prove that either logically or biblically. Would you care to try?

Let's look at your example...

Let's say you give me a china set and I use them to serve dog-food to my three dogs. Doesn't that misuse demonstrate my contempt for both you and your gift?

If I personally gave a dear friend a china set as a gift and they derived pleasure from using it to serve dog food to their dog, no, I would not find that contemptuous. Why would I? It's theirs to use.

If your friend loved the china and also loved their dog and that made them happy to use the gift in that manner, would it bother you?

To me, a bowl is a bowl is a bowl.

But then, maybe I'm atypical. I don't place too much stock in material things which are here today and gone tomorrow. That's part of my Christian upbringing.

So, as it stands right now, I don't know that...

1. You can prove what the gift in question's use is and
2. That even if it WAS being used in a manner not intended, that such behavior is bad in and of itself.

This blog calls itself, "Stand to Reason." I really do like that. If you can offer a reasonable defense of either of these points, I'd be more than glad to consider it.

Louis...

So, to your question, NO! The reason being that the misuse of a gift given to us by God is showing contempt for both God and his gift. How is that a good thing?

Just to clarify, I don't think you can "prove" that a penis or a vagina has been given to us by God for one/two uses and those uses only.

Further, I don't think you can "prove" that unintentional use of a gift in a manner not intended shows contempt at all.

Consider this: God has "gifted" most of us with hands. Is the one and only use of those hands to pick up something? What about writing? What about rubbing a smooth stone because you like the feel? What about sexual touching of a spouse? What about self-pleasuring one's self or picking one's nose or wiping one's butt? Which things are the Only God-Intended Use of a hand and according to whom? Who gets to decide that?

The thing is, I don't believe God has ever once mentioned a list of approved uses for body parts. If you can demonstrate that objectively, then you will have "stood to reason" to make your case.

Otherwise, you're welcome to your opinion, for what it's worth.

Fair enough?

Dan

"To me, a bowl is a bowl is a bowl."

Even if it is gold-plated and cost a fortune?
Really? So, you wouldn't mind if I smashed it to bits then in front of you? That is my choice of use of the gift you gave me too? No contempt for you or your gift would, to you, be expressed through this use of your gift? Really?

You must be very good at taking insults if that is true.

Dan
"The thing is, I don't believe God has ever once mentioned a list of approved uses for body parts. If you can demonstrate that objectively, then you will have "stood to reason" to make your case."

What say we cut out your heart and see if there isn't any law in place for the misuse of your heart, it being one body part.

You were saying?

Louis...

No contempt for you or your gift would, to you, be expressed through this use of your gift?

I'm speaking of someone who is not intentionally misusing my bowl, but who truly thinks that using it to feed their dog is a good use. There is no intention of disrespect there, and I would find none.

Again, I don't care if it's gold or china, it's just a thing, why would I care how it was used? No insult was intended, none would be taken.

Would YOU take offense at such a usage where no insult was intended?

Louis...

What say we cut out your heart and see if there isn't any law in place for the misuse of your heart, it being one body part.

You were saying?

Um, I was saying, do you have any objective evidence that God has a list of approved uses for body parts? Shall I take this as a "no..."?

I'm not sure how your response about cutting out of my heart is a response to my question. In general, we ought not shed innocent blood - that is a biblical and rational teaching and would cover why you should not cut out someone's heart.

But getting back to "approved body part uses," on what basis would you claim to be able to speak for God what is and isn't acceptable use of a penis, a vagina, a mouth, a hand, a rectum...? Again, keeping in mind that the blog name here is "Stand to Reason," I'd be interested in a rational explanation, if you have one.

Thanks for the thoughts thus far.

To be clear, I'm not speaking of intentional contempt - someone deliberately breaking a bowl to insult the giver or someone intentionally sinning to spite God. I'm speaking of someone behaving in a manner that is natural and not intended to offend.

Intentional contemptuous actions are, well, intentionally contemptuous, of course. I'm speaking of something different.

Dan Trabue,I actually do see your side of thinking and I understand where your questions are coming from. We must be fair if we are going to engage in proper rationalization of the subject of the misuse of the male and female anatomy. We have to be honest here that homosexual behaviour is not the only behaviour in which the misuse of the body parts occur. I'm sure that there are just about the same type of dangers when dealing with other behaviours like oral sex and masturbation,two of a few of the behaviours in where the misuse of body parts also occurs,so why just be that exclusive with homosexuality?

I get your point and it's well taken, but actually, I'm saying I see no reason to think that oral sex or masturbation constitute a "misuse of body parts." On what logical basis would we reach the conclusion that, for instance...

1. masturbation is not a proper use of a body part(s)
2. that, even if it were a "misuse," in what way would it be wrong.

Says who? Why?

Has God told anyone this? When? Where? What proof is there of that?

This is where I think the anti-gay-behavior lobby is failing to make their case.

I understand that some in the church have read a few passages and reached the conclusion that IN THEIR OPINION any and all gay behavior is "sinful" and an "improper use of body parts," but the Bible doesn't state that, it's an extrabiblical conclusion and beyond that, in a world at large, just because some people think that God thinks it's a misuse of body parts is not rational evidence that it is wrong.

Does that clarify?

What about gerbil storage?

I will make the assumption that it is not a historical driver of evolutionary change.

Dan--First, you wanted us to know you had a "Christian" upbringing. Then you say that,

"I understand that some in the church have read a few passages and reached the conclusion that IN THEIR OPINION any and all gay behavior is "sinful" and an "improper use of body parts," but the Bible doesn't state that, it's an extrabiblical conclusion and beyond that, in a world at large, just because some people think that God thinks it's a misuse of body parts is not rational evidence that it is wrong."

You answer the comment about contempt for the gift with,

"but who truly thinks that using it to feed their dog is a good use. There is no intention of disrespect there, and I would find none."

So the reader understands you to say that the straightforward prohibition against homosexual behavior given to us in His Word is just not very compelling to your "Christian" sense of things and that it really isn't God's opinion at all; that you rely more heavily on your OWN rationale, especially when it comes to the condition of your "truly thinking" that something is fine to do, and that the lack of intention to do wrong is sufficient to make the thing perfectly all right.

I would have to conclude, then, that you've created your own "religion" where YOU are the one making the rules, and the rules simply have to correlate to YOUR sense of how things should be, and YOU not having ill intentions (per YOUR definition) is the undergirding principle of it all. Are we to now recognize the church of Dan?

Thank you for the thoughts, Carolyn. A few responses...

the reader understands you to say that the straightforward prohibition against homosexual behavior given to us in His Word

I disagree with your (and, admittedly, the traditional) understanding of "the prohibition against homosexual behavior." I contend that no such prohibition exists in the Bible. It is only the interpretation of some (the majority, probably) in Christendom. But, the Christian church is not a perfect entity. We can and have been wrong en masse about various topics over the years (see slavery or sexism, in addition to - I'd say - gay behavior).

I understand that I/we hold the minority position in Christendom, but being a firm believer in the priesthood of the believer, I/we have a responsibility to read and interpret the Bible for ourselves, not letting tradition dictate what we must believe.

I disagree with your understanding of what the Bible does and doesn't say on gay behavior.

You said...

the straightforward prohibition against homosexual behavior given to us in His Word is just not very compelling to your "Christian" sense of things and that it really isn't God's opinion at all

I don't find the traditional understanding very compelling from a logical OR biblical point of view. I strive to read God's Word and understand it correctly. I do so prayerfully, carefully and seriously. For what it's worth, for the first ~30 years of my life and first ~20 years of my Christian life, I accepted the traditional teaching as gospel. Prayer and Bible study led me away from that position.

So, no, I don't think that your (the traditional) understanding of what God's position is is a correct one.

You said...

that you rely more heavily on your OWN rationale

I rely heavily on careful, prayerful Bible study, seeking God's leadership and striving to understand the Word aright. Do you agree with me that this is the correct thing to do? I have said nothing about "my OWN rationale," just that I've studied God's Word and this is the conclusion that I (and my camp) have reached. In fact, though, we ALL use our God-given reasoning to study the Word (or anything), is that not a fair statement?

Carolyn...

the lack of intention to do wrong is sufficient to make the thing perfectly all right.

If you'll read my words, you'll see that this is not what I said. I'm sorry if I was not clear. I don't think the lack of intention to do wrong makes an action "right." I hope that clears that up.

What I said was that someone doing something that is wrong with the intention of doing good, that person is NOT being contemptuous. If they are wrong, then they are simply wrong in ignorance, not out of contempt.

Do you see the difference?

Cont'd...

Carolyn, as to this last...

you've created your own "religion" where YOU are the one making the rules, and the rules simply have to correlate to YOUR sense of how things should be, and YOU not having ill intentions (per YOUR definition) is the undergirding principle of it all. Are we to now recognize the church of Dan?

Given the nature of the purpose of this site (Stand to Reason), I would hope that we could talk about opinions and ideas respectfully and without resorting to misrepresenting one another. I certainly shall strive to do so and I would hope that we could agree on that point.

I am a follower of Jesus, the Christ. The Son of God, who came to earth, lived a model life, showing us and teaching us how to live; who was killed and buried and rose from the dead, calling us to follow in his footsteps. I am, in short, a Christian, saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus.

Starting a self-based religion is the farthest thing from my heart. It is a bit offensive to hear a fellow Christian make such a suggestion based on the little bit of conversation I've offered. I see nothing in any of my comments that would suggest any such thing and I'd hope that, upon revisiting what I've said, you could agree.

No, I'm not the one making the rules. I'm the one/we're the ones who read God's Word, who pray, who seek God's will, who seek the Spirit's guidance, who look to God's Word written upon our hearts, who use our God-given reasoning to understand God's Ways. This is what I do and I'm sure it's what you do, as well. Can we agree on that much?

The thing is, I've not made up any rules. I've read, prayed, sought God's ways and came to this conclusion (and, believe me, I was DEEPLY tied to NOT wanting to change my opinion. I was comfortable with the old opinion I held and was STRONGLY opposed to the notion of "normalizing homosexuality." It was only seeking God's will and way through prayer and Bible study that led me away from that position.

Now, could I be WRONG? Sure. Just like any of us could be wrong. But this is my honest position/understanding. I think I'm correct.

So, given that, my questions remain open:

1. Who says what body parts can be treated in what way with God's approval?

2. On what basis does any one claim to speak for God so as to say, "THIS is God's APPROVED list of ways to use body parts..."?

3. Or, can we agree that God has given us no "list of approved uses" and that, rationally speaking, the notion that "THIS use is 'normal' and 'acceptable,' but THAT use is wrong and unacceptable..." is merely opinion?

In other words, rather than dealing with the personal ("Dan" and trying to guess my motives...) and going down a possible ad hom route, why not just deal with my polite comments and questions?

My very first point was that we ought to be cautious about using contentious, divisive or hurtful language. "Normal" is a loaded word and tends to have a value judgment attached to it. "Normative" on the other hand is much more of a clean scientific word. Linguistically speaking, homosexuality is not normative and saying so would cause no uproar and no offense.

Stating "It's not normal," however, sounds like a put-down and is divisive and unnecessarily hurtful. Can we agree on that much?

Further, since the Bible warns about how the tongue can be so easily used to cause harm, like a fire, that we ought to be careful about the words we say and how we say them. We are taught to not be divisive, to be respectful when we disagree and that we are to offer our thoughts in love.

Do you see how using "not normal" might be unnecessarily hurtful and contentious? Why use it when we have a perfectly adequate word in "normative..." if you want to express the idea that homosexuality is a minority orientation?

Hi Dan,

I have enjoyed reading your post and I would like to take a crack at some of your questions/statements, while asking a couple of questions of my own.

“Who gets to decide what is the "right" way to use our body parts? Are we going to do that for everyone or just for gay folk?”

That would depend on what you mean by “right”. If you are talking about objectively “right” (from a moral standpoint), as Christians, I think we can discover and reason through the Bible. However, if you are talking about legally “right”, then I would imagine us as citizens would decide. Couldn’t your argument about the proper or improper use of body parts also be applied towards incest, polygamy, and prostitution?

“Then, in that case, can we agree that there is nothing inherently "not healthy" about homosexuality?”

I am not sure that we can agree here. There are studies that indicate that there are health risks associated with using body parts in ways that they are not apparently designed. I am not a doctor and I am open to alternative opinions, but my gut tells me that consistently inserting body parts into areas apparently designed to discharge feces, and that are not apparently fitted to receive those body parts (causing an increased risk of tearing skin), does not sound healthy.
http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0075.html

“I understand that some in the church have read a few passages and reached the conclusion that IN THEIR OPINION any and all gay behavior is "sinful" and an "improper use of body parts," but the Bible doesn't state that, it's an extrabiblical conclusion”

Please help me understand what Lev 18:22, 1 Tim 1:19, and Rom 1:26 are saying about homosexual behavior. Do you also believe that the Bible does not prescribe “one man and one woman” as the healthiest model for marriage?

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination (Lev 18:22)

We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine. (1 Tim 1:9)

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions: for their women exchange the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Rom 1:26)

Thanks for the thoughts, blanko ("blanko??"). I'll try to address your questions (and would appreciate reciprocal answers, if possible - thanks!).

You asked...

Couldn’t your argument about the proper or improper use of body parts also be applied towards incest, polygamy, and prostitution?

I think "Is marriage good?" "Is polygamy good?" "Is prostitution okay?" are questions beyond just the proper or improper use of body parts. My original point was that there is not a place where we are told "These are the acceptable uses of body part A..."

Can we agree that there is no such list anywhere? That people might have opinions about "proper/improper," but it's not spelled out for anyone anywhere, right? We can make objective observations about "healthy" or "unhealthy" practices, but that is not the same as "proper/improper..." agreed?

Blanko...

There are studies that indicate that there are health risks associated with using body parts in ways that they are not apparently designed.

As I just said, we can agree that using body parts in certain ways may be more or less healthy. But that is true whether the individuals using their body parts in those ways are gay, straight or otherwise. Agreed?

Thus, my original question, "Can we agree that there is nothing inherently unhealthy about homosexuality?" still seems solid. IF, for instance, it were proven that engaging in anal sex more than six times a year was unhealthy for the rectum, then that would be a true statement for gay or straight folk, but it would not be an indictment of "heterosexuality" or "homosexuality," just an objective observation about a sexual practice.

With that information out there, rational adults can then decide how they want to engage in responsible sex or not. But it is not an indictment on a sexual orientation.

Agreed?

More to come...

Blanko said...

Please help me understand what Lev 18:22, 1 Tim 1:19, and Rom 1:26 are saying about homosexual behavior. Do you also believe that the Bible does not prescribe “one man and one woman” as the healthiest model for marriage?

Dealing with the last, first...

1. The Bible speaks about marriage in the context of ancient cultures and does so in many ways.

2. In the Bible, for instance, polygamy and concubinism are never condemned as immoral. Neither in the Old or New Testaments.

3. The Bible does speak of marriage as a good and healthy thing, in general, an ideal that is probably best for most of us, but biblically speaking, there is no condemnation of polygamy nor is monogamy stated as preferable (with the possible exception of Paul's rules for elders).

4. None of which is to say that I endorse polygamy or concubinism, just noting that the Bible is a product of its times and was written to specific peoples in specific times/circumstances.

5. Thus, I don't think that one can say The Bible endorses "one man, one woman" as the healthiest model. I'm open to hearing where it does, I just don't think it exists in the Bible.

6. My personal opinion given all evidence that I can see is that two adult individuals, committed to a respecting, mutual, loving marriage relationship is the healthiest option, I'm just not wanting to speak for "the Bible" what the Bible has not said, nor certainly not speak for God what God has not said.

Can we agree that this is reasonable (ie, not speaking for God what God has not said?)

More...

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