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November 04, 2013

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Alan, if you don't mind, I think you can do a better job appealing to Scripture. Paul answers this question for us in what must be the most definitive manner possible. 1 Cor 6:9-10, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

It's easy to pick out a prooftext like this, but looking at the context of the verse it's clear that Paul is indicating that these types of behaviours have zero place in the church. Further, when he tells the Corinthians in the next verse, "And such were some of you," the emphasis is on the were.

Perhaps if you clarified it might help. Here's a similar question: if a person is a serial rapist, and then claims to have become a Christian, yet continues to "struggle" with serially raping people, is he/she a Christian?

Another point to ponder: Whether homosexual oriented or heterosexual oriented, is it possible for either to hold to a status of celibacy?

This response came across as a bit of a mixed message. I think it would have been stronger if Alan had not adopted here the language of the culture.

Using the term "orientation" the way the pro-homosexual side uses it is conceding the point that people are born with this sort of nature or inclination. Even though he did not say that in the video, simply using that word and talking about homosexuals as a group does come across as though he is accepting that view.

There is no homosexual orientation any more than there is a lying orientation or a stealing orientation or an adulterous orientation.

The "orientation" we all have is that we are sinful.

As to changing, of course people can change, especially with Christ - just like people who are attracted to and participate in any number of sins can be changed by Christ. That is why 1 Corinthians says "such WERE some of you", referring to a list of sins, but that these people were now cleansed, forgiven and changed by Christ.

Let's stop using the word 'orientation'. Let's just talk about sin, like we'd talk about any other sin. We don't talk about people being born with an orientation to commit adultery or fornication, do we? Of course not. We know that these behaviors and desires are sins, and that with Christ they can be overcome.

It's the same thing with homosexuality. Once we start with the "orientation" language, we make it sound like people really are born that way and that this behavior is a person's main identity.

As Christians we cannot and do not accept that view. A sin cannot be the foundation of a person's identity. But that is what homosexuals have done. Pointing this out angers homosexuals more than anything else! They have chosen to make this sin their entire identity. Challenging that in any way puts them into a rage.

And while angering people is never our goal as Christians, that is what confrontation of sin always brings - especially when it comes to this sin. We must be ready to bear it.

I continue to take the position that any discussion of this topic needs to begin with a defining of terms. What does "gay" mean? Is it same sex attraction? or is it someone who engages in homosexual acts? or is it someone who has fully committed to the 'gay lifestyle'?
We must know who we're talking about when we discuss this topic.
I think Alan does a nice job of answering this question because I think he is saying 'gay' means to have a same sex attraction. In scenario #1 above, a 'gay' person can come to Christ and seek a pure life. Someone in categories 2 and 3 above cannot. The church needs to understand that individuals in the church with Same SEx attraction (SSA) will often call themselves 'gay' but are not sexually active. It's too easy to hear talk of 'gay' and Christian and immediately put them in the wrong box and write them off and not have the proper response. Ask some questions: "What do you mean....?" (a la Tactics)

It's too easy to hear talk of 'gay' and Christian and immediately put them in the wrong box and write them off and not have the proper response.

Guess it depends. One thing that has not been highlighted is the direction that I think these types of conversations often lead to. And that is that it's okay or even somehow proper if I'm a Christian to make sure the sin in my life is on some kind of a "decreasing" glideslope so that if I time it just right, then it will dwindle to zero by the end of my life.

Now, I know everyone would probably say "whoa, hold on that's not what we're saying at all," and I would advise to step back and examine because that's the message that often gets broadcast.

I guess what I'm saying is that I think we've turned this idea of struggling with sin into a way of rationalize it just a little bit. Doing that with this concept is not to be found in the New Testament; Paul commands us to "put to death the deeds of the flesh." That's much, much stronger than just "struggling" with it so that it eventually "disppears"...

You could do with watching this video by Matthew Vines, if you haven't already done so, though you need to put aside an hour or so to do this... I'm not a Christian myself but I'm appalled at how some Christian's literal interpretations of Biblical texts has ruined so many lives. This video explains why you might just be in the wrong:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezQjNJUSraY

Beatrice:

When we as Christians interpret scripture, we have a process called exegesis. This means "to draw out". We allow scripture to speak, and draw the meaning out from scripture itself. However, the opposite of that is called eisegesis, "to draw in". It is not necessarily a matter of literal or non-literal interpretation. The questions about the scriptures being asked are not obtuse scriptures, like apocalyptic genre (Revelation would be an example--metaphorical language). We are talking about letters here. The meaning is fairly straightforward, even though we do not have the other half of the conversation.

Vines' interpretation is pure eisegesis. He imposes meaning onto the text. His conclusions flow from his own heart, rather than from what scripture actually says. Thus, most Christians will tune him out. Vines is not interpreting scripture in a non-literal way, either. He is not saying that the passages in question are metaphorical. He is saying they do not teach that sex with the same gender is sinful. So his interpretation is literal, too.

Biblical and Christian teaching is that we do not live according to our human nature. Because someone has deep longings, even if they are genetic, does not mean that you should act upon that longing. Thus, Christians teach that we should deny our very nature sometimes. That probably doesn't sit well with you, but this is a central teaching of Christianity.

I'm curious as to whose lives were ruined by literal interpretations.

Some of the commenters here don't seem to understand what people usually mean by "sexual orientation." Orientation is simply a person's long-term pattern of attraction over time, as climate is to weather. It's an empirical fact that some people have a homosexual or bisexual orientation, even though we don't yet know why people have particular orientations. My orientation is bisexual. That doesn't mean that my bisexuality is core to my identity, or that I'm open to a gay relationship. It's just an honest description of what I go through. I'm a Christian who believes that sex is only for heterosexual marriage, and I'm currently a virgin who has never gotten into porn, although like pretty much all men I know I don't always have a pure thought life and thus am not completely sinless.

This video doesn't quite mention an important category that I happen to be part of: Christians who never got involved in homosexual behavior to begin with as a result of their convictions, but nonetheless experience same-sex attraction. We're not really that much different from those who did leave homosexual behavior, though, and I think what Alan said was intended to apply by extension to us as well.

And even same-sex attraction is not just a desire for sin, and especially is not just a desire for sex. My friend Ron Belgau wrote a good post illustrating this:
http://spiritualfriendship.org/2013/09/27/what-does-sexual-orientation-orient/

Another post explaining why "homosexual orientation" is a little different than generic "orientations" towards other sins, and why it's legitimate for repentant Christians to use adjectives describing their sexual orientation:
http://logikyle.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/sexual-orientation-and-sinful-desires-an-important-distinction/

Beatrice, as it happens, my post today references Vines's video and posts a response. See here.

So Beatrice, are you saying that anyone that draws out a different meaning of Scripture that what you think it says is wrong?

This addresses the same error of moralism that has plagued the Western Church in at least the past couple of centuries. The purpose of church was to make people good citizens. You see this pattern especially in places like the old mill towns or mining camps. It's the same kind of pattern that fueled Marx' comments about the role of church in a society. But the same ideology followed the American work ethic into the culture at large outside of the influence of a particular economic entity. Our goal is not to make people good, but to glorify God in the proclamation of the gospel and the discipleship of each other in our place in the Kingdom of God.

q,

I guess what I'm saying is that I think we've turned this idea of struggling with sin into a way of rationalize it just a little bit.

Where do you see this? To the contrary, I see many Christians being honest with their sinful nature. The Christian who isn’t struggling with sin is the problem. I think you’re making a sin classification error. Taking into account your previous comment:

Here's a similar question: if a person is a serial rapist, and then claims to have become a Christian, yet continues to "struggle" with serially raping people, is he/she a Christian?

Is this how you view a human being’s general “struggle” with sin? Why? What about struggling with anger, jealousy, etc.? Can you still be a Christian with those struggles? Do you have struggles?

Doing that with this concept is not to be found in the New Testament; Paul commands us to "put to death the deeds of the flesh." That's much, much stronger than just "struggling" with it so that it eventually "disappears"

Again, sin will not disappear.

Eden and Gethsemane have temptation void of sin. Eden ended in sin while Gethsemane does not.

The offer made, felt, tasted, is not, on necessity, sin.

Here inside of the Outside it seems we will not find a landscape wholly void of temptation. Love will motion out of Self and into Other, or, Love will motion into Self and out of Other.

Inside of God's Triune I-You-Us all such motions land on/in the Great I-AM, and thus Uncreated Love cannot sin. For us, for any Created Agent, at least for now outside of our final actualized amalgamation with Love Himself, the former seems to lead to more and more light in unity with Other, while the later seems to lead to more and more dark void of Other.

Void of sin, we yet observe that Eternal Sacrifice of Self inside of Love's delight. Being Hetero/Homo offers no immunity to the offer made, felt, tasted. The First and Last Adam in their Mutable Innocence faced temptations we cannot imagine here in our Mutable Corruptness.

That is good news for both the Hetero/Homo who may devalue themselves on the grounds of mere temptation.

We ought not, on necessity and scripture, equate the pull itself with sin itself..... not entirely .....

Love costs.

Love's Eternally Sacrificed Self shows us the Way.

@ scbrownlhrm -

Why can't you ever speak plainly? As Christians, we should be making Christ's teachings on whatever topic as clear as can be for others who may not share our view. I can never make heads nor tails of your flowery comments.

Mo,

My thoughts precisely. The bizarre mixture of words, redefined in strange ways, can be fascinating to read, however. Like puzzling out a foreign language with no dictionary.

Although I would be sad to see you stop, scbrownlhrm, it would be very satisfying to read an explanation for why you post the way you do.

Goat Head 5

I think we can only offer what we have. However weak it may be. The need for crisp, concise logic is met by most others here, and, those of us too unschooled, too clouded in thought to offer such take more than we give, clearly. Its like school..... But giving what we have is all any of us can do in any class, in any family. We find many ways to speak of a thunderstorm. Electron flows..... an ominous dive into fear... a refreshing run in the summer rain.... necessary utility of the umbrella's proper dimensions....

We come to Him, to Love, with what we have. Whatever it may be made of. I think that is step one.

I thought I new what love was. I thought I loved. Then I got married........

Marriage changes everything.


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