Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Newsweek: "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage"

The cover story on the latest issue of Newsweek (December 15, 2008) is entitled “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage” by Lisa Miller. As demonstrated below, Ms. Miller doesn’t have a leg to stand on!

Miller begins by writing, “Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does.” She points out that Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Israel were all polygamists, and that Jesus and Paul were single and argues that no heterosexual married couple would use the Bible as a “how-to-script.”

Miller doesn’t mention that the Bible nowhere considers the celibacy of Jesus or Paul as the norm. For example, Peter and other apostles were married (1 Corinthians 9:5) as were the patriarchs, and prophets like Isaiah. The norm seems to be the command to be fruitful and multiply (nine times in Genesis alone, plus references in Leviticus, Jeremiah and Ezekiel).

Miller doesn’t mention that when David, Solomon and other kings of Israel took multiple wives, they were acting in direct violation of Deuteronomy 17:17 which says that they “shall not acquire many wives" lest their hearts turn away from God. In fact, Solomon was a prime example of one whose heart was turned away from the Lord precisely due to his violation of this command.

The Bible tells the story of Jewish/Christian history and includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Much of what is recorded in the Bible is provided as negative examples of what happens when people ignore God’s laws. By contrast, the ideal is provided in Genesis 2:24 which says that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife” (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:7; Matthew 19:5 and Ephesians 5:31). None of these texts say wives (plural) or domestic partners.

According to Miller the argument against gay marriage goes like this: “The Bible and Jesus define marriage as between one man and one woman. The church cannot condone or bless same-sex marriages because this stands in opposition to Scripture and our tradition." Miller says there are two obvious responses. First, neither the Bible nor Jesus “explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.” Second, “no sensible modern person wants marriage…to look like what the Bible describes.”

First, while the Bible doesn’t specifically define marriage as a covenant between members of the opposite sex, that definition is everywhere assumed and implied. By contrast, nowhere is same-sex marriage assumed or implied. On the contrary, both Old and New Testaments specifically condemn sexual relations between people of the same sex.

Second, once again, the Bible “describes” what happened, whether good, bad or ugly. Just because the Bible tells the story about kings who ignored God’s commandment against polygamy does not mean the Bible condones such disobedience.

And while it is true that most modern women don’t want anything to do with submitting to their husbands, I know of no one who would object to Paul’s teaching about how a husband should love his wife “as Christ loved the church and give himself for her,” or how a husband should love his wife as his own body” or as he loves himself (Ephesians 5:25-33).

Is it really true that “no sensible modern persons” wants a marriage like this?

Miller argues that contrary to “Biblical literalists”, “the Bible is a living document which “gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.” Miller argues that while family is fundamental in the Old Testament, “examples of what social conservatives would call ‘the traditional family’ are scarcely to be found.” She mockingly adds, “Ozzie and Harriet are nowhere in the New Testament either.” Besides, Miller reminds us, the phrase “gay marriage” does not appear in the Bible at all.

First, perhaps the phrase "gay marriage" doesn't appear in the Bible because such a thing never existed and had never been imagined!

Second, when Miller and others argue that the Bible is a “living document” what they really mean is that rather than trying to understand what the biblical authors were trying to communicate, gay activists want the freedom to re-interpret any given passage to fit their own personal or social preferences. The Bible is then no longer the basis for Christian faith and practice; it becomes just a set of carefully selected and misinterpreted proof-texts to justify whatever behavior society has deemed to be politically correct this year.

This was exactly what was going on when the Bible was used to justify the enslavement of Africans. Although the Old Testament (along with virtually every civilization in the world) allowed slavery for prisoners of war or for paying off excessive debt, for example, there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that would justify kidnapping innocent people from their homes and families simply because of the color of their skin or to satisfy other people’s greed! But this is precisely what happened when people try to force the Bible to support whatever values and behaviors happen to be currently accepted in society.

So, asks Miller, what is it that opponents of gay-marriage are so upset about? Her answer: Homosexuality, specifically sex between men since sex between women, according to the Anchor Bible Dictionary article on “Homosexual Practices” says that “nowhere in the bible do its authors refer to sex between women….”

Unfortunately for Miller, the Anchor Bible Dictionary does not even have an article on “Homosexual Practices.” In fact, it doesn’t even have an article on homosexuality! Wherever Miller got her information, that information is factually in error. In his letter to the Romans Paul writes saying, “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men…” (Romans 1:26-27).

Miller continues saying that the Book of Leviticus condemns homosexuality twice, calling it an abomination (KJV) “but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world….” Miller assures us that since “we no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices; our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions.”

Throwaway lines? That phrase may well illustrate the difference between those who take the Bible seriously, and those like Miller who want to pick and choose, and re-interpret biblical texts based on current social norms. Miller apparently thinks that whatever doesn’t fit society's modern views can conveniently be dismissed as a “throwaway line.”

While it is true that modern Christians “no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices” this is not because “our understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions.” It is because the New Testament specifically says that Jesus was the final sacrifice; the fulfillment to which the sacrificial system pointed (Hebrews 8-10). Similarly, we don’t keep the ceremonial laws because both Jesus and, according to the writer of Acts, Peter’s vision from God, abrogates these laws (Mark 7:19, Acts 10:1-33). We view some things in the Old Testament, therefore, as temporary or cultural and not binding on us today.

One of the passages in Leviticus that Miller refers to is Leviticus 18 which condemns all kinds of sexual practices including sex with one's parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, daughters-in-law, etc. The text calls these behaviors “depravity.” It then, adds that you shall not “lie with a male as with a woman” because this is an “abomination.”

The text goes on to say that these things are so abominable that it is for this reason that the land which the children of Israel are about to inhabit has “vomited out its inhabitants.” The text then solemnly warns the people to “do none of these abominations…lest the land vomit you out….”
The people are told that they must “Never practice any of these abominable customs…” (emphasis mine).

Now for those like Miller who think they are free to re-interpret the Bible in light of contemporary social norms, or who flippantly dismiss such texts as “throwaway passages,” these passages are easily dismissed. Presumably if society ever decides that it is OK to have sex with one’s parents, siblings, children, or animals, the rest of these texts would become “throwaway passages” as well.

But for those who take the Bible seriously, it is pretty hard to dismiss such passages as cultural or temporary, especially since these sins are viewed with such seriousness and since the commands against sexual immorality in general, and homosexuality in particular, are repeated numerous times in the New Testament. Apparently, while New Testament writers no longer felt the need to offer sacrifices or abide by all of the Old Testament restrictions, they thought these sexual prohibitions were still in effect.

As an aside, it is very important to note that both Leviticus 18 and 20 are talking about behavior--You shall not lie with a male as with a woman” (Lev 18:22) and “If a man lies with a male as with a woman” (Leviticus 20:13). The Bible knows nothing of what we today call “sexual orientation.”

If we define “homosexual” solely in terms of sexual-orientation rather than behavior, there is no condemnation of celibate homosexuals in the Bible. What we call sexual orientation is a matter of temptation. While those of us who are heterosexual tend to be tempted by members of the opposite sex, homosexuals are tempted by those of the same sex. But temptation alone is not sin.

This is a very important distinction. It means that arguments about whether homosexuality is genetic or learned are irrelevant. The issue is not how someone came to be attracted to someone of the same sex. The issue is behavior. In the Bible, sex with someone of the same sex is an abomination before God. Since marriage and sex pretty much go together, from a biblical perspective, same-sex marriage is out of the question for those who sincerely want to please the God of the Bible.

Miller concedes that “Paul was tough on homosexuality” but she cites “scholar Neil Elliot” as saying that “Paul was referring to “the depravity of the roman emperors, the craven habits of Nero and Caligula” and was “not talking about what we call homosexuality at all.” Besides, she adds, “Paul argued more strenuously against divorce—and at least half of the Christians in America disregard that teaching.”

First, whether “at least half of the Christians in America” disregard the Bible’s teaching on divorce is really quite irrelevant to the argument. If half the Christians in America disregarded the Bible’s teaching on bestiality, that would not make it any less sinful.

Second, it is not clear what she means by "what we call homosexuality." Has Miller ever seen pictures of the perversion that takes place at the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco? Caligula and Nero would fit right in.

Third, regarding Elliot’s argument (at least as presented by Miller), even if Paul had Nero and Caligula in mind he is certainly not talking about just Nero and Caligula. The context makes it clear that Paul is talking about all those who “knew God but did not honor him,” and those who “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18-21). This is clearly not just about Roman emperors!

Because people “did not see fit to acknowledge God” (Romans 1:28), Paul emphasizes (three times) that God gave them up to all kinds of sins including not only homosexual behavior, but also malice, envy murder, strife, maliciousness, slander, arrogance, ruthlessness, etc. To say that this passage is just condemning the perverted homosexual practices of Nero and Caligula is like saying that Paul’s condemnation of murder in this passage was just a condemnation of the excesses of Nero and Caligula!

Many years ago, when I was in college in San Francisco, my sociology professor invited a homosexual couple to the class to discuss their view of homosexuality. They acknowledged that Paul was against homosexuality but frankly admitted that they had some problems with Paul. I admire their honesty. At least they weren't trying to twist Paul's words to allow what he clearly considered to be sin.

Miller then argued that “Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century; husbands frequent enjoyment of mistresses and prostitutes became taboo by the beginning of the 20th.”

We could dispute Miller's assertion that “Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century” but that is really entirely irrelevant. Sexual immorality and sensuality are condemned repeatedly throughout the New Testament. Jesus himself condemns sexual immorality saying, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person (Mark 7:21-23).

It is really quite irrelevant, therefore, whether various people down through history who called themselves Christian went to mistresses and prostitutes. Their behavior is soundly condemned in the New Testament.

Miller goes on to argue that while “We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual…we can read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future.” Miller's prime example was the story of David and Jonathan. Quoting David, “Your love for me was…More wonderful than that of a woman,” Miller concludes that “Here, the Bible praises enduring love between men. She adds, “What Jonathan and David did or did not do in the privacy is perhaps best left to history and our own imagination.”

So although homosexual behavior is flatly condemned in both Old and New Testaments, including Leviticus 18 and 20, Romans 1, First Corinthians 6:9, First Timothy 1:10, and condemnation is implied in Genesis 19:4-5, Judges 19:22 and Jude 7, all of this apparently doesn't qualify as one of Miller’s “universal truths.” She appeals instead to just one story in the Old Testament which doesn't say anything whatsoever about sex!

We are forced to conclude that the only things Miller would acknowledge as universal truths would be things in the Bible that meet the standards of modern American political correctness.

We need to re-emphasize again that while the Bible condemns sex between people of the same sex--it knows nothing of our modern discussions about “sexual orientation.” There is nothing wrong with two men or two women loving each other (as long as such "love" is understood non-sexually).

David and Jonathan are the perfect example. Although David said of Jonathan, “Your love for me was…more wonderful than that of a woman” there is no indication at all that this love was sexual. In fact, we would do well to remember that one of David's sins was his marriage to many wives (contrary to Deuteronomy 17:17) and that his biggest downfall was his sexual relationship with a woman! This hardly sounds homosexual.

Miller concludes saying that “More basic than theology, though, is human need.”This may be the crux of our disagreement. We believe that the Bible is the revelation of God’s will. As such, it supersedes human need. When Miller argues that human need is more basic than theology, she could just as logically argue that her need for relationship would justify adultery, or her need for power would justify corruption, or her need for material goods would justify theft. Christians who take the Bible as the revelation of God seek to place the Bible above our perceived needs.

In this entire article, however, Miller completely misses one of the most serious issues in the same-sex marriage debate. The issue is not really about whether Adam should be able to marry Steve. The issue is that once same sex marriage becomes accepted public policy, homosexuality will directly threaten freedom of religion and force people violate their religious convictions, or face prosecution.

This is already happening.

A Christian photographer was sued because he could not, in good conscience, photograph a gay marriage--even though there were many other photographers who would have been happy to have the business.

Christian psychologists have been sued for referring gay clients to other psychologists!Christians who sometimes rent their property for marriages were sued for not renting to a gay couple, even though it was private property and there are thousands of other locations in which to conduct a wedding.

A Catholic adoption agency in Massachusetts was forced to shut its doors rather than compromise its convictions on adoption to homosexual couples.

A private Christian school was sued for dismissing two openly homosexual students even though the prohibition against homosexual sex (and all other unbiblical sex as well) was clearly stated in the policy manual.

The original version of ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) would have forced Christian schools and colleges to hire teachers of science, history, psychology, etc. who openly practiced homosexuality! Even churches would have been forced to hire non-pastoral staff who openly practiced homosexuality.

We have already seen how homosexuality is being pushed on public school students against the wishes of parents. Indeed, a judge in Massachusetts said that since gay marriage is public policy in that state, the state had an obligation to promote homosexuality and that parents did not have a right to opt their children out!

Over 40 years ago one atheist didn't want her child exposed to prayer in the public school so all public schools all across America were forced to stop the practice, but homosexual activists are allowed to push homosexuality on all students regardless of parent's religious convictions?

So the issue is not nearly as much about whether Adam should be able to marry Steve as it is an issue of fundamental first amendment religious freedom and freedom of conscience!

34 comments:

Kevin said...

Quite possibly your best post ever. Exceptionally well reasoned and articulated. Thanks.

Robert said...

This is extremely well written. Unfortunately, there will always be people willing to twist documents from their original intentions.

Loiseau said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
professor ed said...

I strongly concure with Kevin and Robert. If, as the Newsweek author insists, the Bible were to be treated as a "living document", then I suppose we would have to establish a Biblical Supreme Court to give final, authoritive rulings on the meaning of various passages, as needed.

Steve said...

It's intersting how you claim the few passages in the Bible about homosexuality are so important, yet you glide over what the Bible says about divorce. It wasn't only St. Paul who condemns divorce, Jesus condemned it as well, while while not condemning homosexuality.

"I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matt 5:31-32)

"And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him, and saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?" And He answered and said, "Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ' For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh'? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." They *said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matt 19:3-9)

The same story appears in Mark 10

"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Luke 16:18

Clearly, Jesus was more concerned about divorce that homosexuality, which he never mentions. Doesn't the fact that divorce has "become accepted public policy... directly threaten freedom of religion and force people violate their religious convictions, or face prosecution?"

Why aren't you campaigning to outlaw divorce? Or are you just a hypocrite?

Wayne MacKirdy said...

@Steve - of what value is there in changing the subject? It does not, in any way, take away from the argument made above. Homosexuality is soundly condemned in Scripture. Maybe divorce should be the topic of another post...but it is not the topic now. The writer doesn't deal with abortion, or stem shell research either. But that doesn't make him a hypocrite just because he doesn't address your topic of interest.

Jason said...

Yeah, solid Red Herring, Steve. Good show.

Steve said...

Not changing the subject at all. I'm merely pointing out that if you are going to not only condemn homosexuality based on the Bible but also claim that to grant gays marriage rights is somehow an assault on religion, then you must also condemn divorce with the same if not more vehemence and acknowledge that granting people the right to divorce is also an assault on religion.

If you cannot resolve that dilemma then Dennis's argument against gay marriage fails.

John said...

Steve, I'd say you raise more of a "pink herring" fallacy here. I'll indulge you by offering a brief explanation. So why do conservative Christians make such a big deal about gay sex/marriage but not about divorce? The answer is that we should be making a bigger deal about divorce and remarriage after divorce. Like homosexual acts, divorce (and remarriage) is clearly condemned as sin (hated by God) in Scripture... with forgiveness/restoration available upon repentance, of course. A compelling argument can even be made that there are NO acceptable grounds for divorce or remarriage after divorce (www.cpr-ministries.org). Steve, you want us to correct our hypocrisy by softening our stance on gay sex/marriage as we have with divorce? Actually, we should correct our hypocrisy - and more importantly strenghthen families and society - by applying some tougher love regarding divorce both inside and outside the church. We should support campaigns/causes/candidates/laws that promote traditional family ideals - that is marriage as a life-long commitment b/t one man and one woman and the raising of children in that environment.

Steve said...

Christians opposed to gay marriage like Dennis claim that the Bible is immutable and that interpretations cannot evolve over time. Miller claims that interpretations do evolve, over such issues as slavery and polygamy, for example. I am saying that the interpretation of the Bible's teaching on divorce has de facto evolved. The vast majority of Christians do not accept its teachings on divorce. There is no chance that you will ever be able to impose the Bible's teachings on divorce politically through legislation.

The reason Christians like Dennis want to legislate the Bible's teachings on homosexuality is because it is easier to legislate against a minority. The divorce rate in this country is much higher among evangelical Christians than it is in most other religious groups. Jesus said, "You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Anti-gay Christians like Dennis would much rather focus on the speck in their brother's eye than in the beam in their own. But this is another verse in the Bible they conveniently ignore.

If anti-gay Christians expended equal effort to outlaw divorce as they do to prevent gays from getting married then I would at least respect them for not being hypocrites. Of course they don't because they know if they tried to outlaw divorce even their fellow Christians would not support their efforts. So they go after gays because it is easy. Jesus has characterized them correctly as hypocrites.

And the idea that allowing gay marriage would be an attack on Christianity is a lie unless allowing divorce is also an attack on Christianity.

What I would prefer to see is that Christians tried to live up to the Bible's teachings when it comes to their own lives and not try to impose those views on others. Instead of working to outlaw divorce or gay marriage they should confine their efforts to living as they see fit and not try to impose those views on others.

professor ed said...

Dear Steve: Dennis has put fourth an interesting discourse/rebuttle to an anrticle currently being displayed by one of our major "new" magazines. He raises some valid points, backed by obvious research. Your tepid responses is typical moderate/liberal response: "Anti-gay Christians like Dennis would much rather focus on the speck in their brother's eye than in the beam in their own." The author of this blog presents a reasoned point of view, whether or not one chooses to agree with him. I am afraid I cannot say the same for you.

Dennis said...

Steve,

I've never argued for legislating the Bible's teaching on homosexuality. I'm not advocating the death penalty for homosexuals.

I'm not trying to make it illegal for "Adam and Steve" to live together.

I'm not trying to keep gay couples from hospital visitation rights or from property ownership or any such thing.

I'm not trying to keep gay people from getting jobs (with one exception noted below).

And I have never, ever advocated violence, harrassment or intimidation against gays. I think gay people should be treated with respect just like anyone else.

Here is what I am opposed to:

1) I am opposed to redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships--in large part because once same-sex marrriage is U.S. public policy the trampling of religious freedom which has occurred in MA will happen all over the country.

2) I am against the promotion of homosexuality in the public school system. If we think atheists should not have to listen to religioius indoctrination in the public school system, then religious students should not have to have their beliefs torn down or attacked in a public school system. We all pay taxes to support these schools--they should not be used to promote controversial social agendas against the wishes of the people who are forced to fund them!

3) I am opposed to any laws or legislation that require any religious organizations to hire anyone who practices behaviors what are prohibited by that organization.

For example, I would be opposed to forcing a Muslim-owned taxi-cab company to hire people who drink off the job--since most Muslims are opposed to drinking.

So I am against forcing any religous organizations to employ or admit people who practice homosexual sex--just like I would be against forcing religious organizations to employ or admit heterosexual people who sleep around.

We would have a much more productive conversation if you would just criticize what what I've written rather than building up these straw men so you can huff and puff and blow them down.

dziner said...

Steve,

What we don't want is that the homosexual community impose their views on us. You read the post, we would be forced to accept your lifestyle or face lawsuits and repercussions. Sin is sin. He is commenting on an article in Newsweek. You seem intelligent, you know that your argument is smoke and mirrors.

Steve said...

1) Marriage has already been redefined in many ways, most importantly by no longer making it a lifetime commitment by allowing divorce. Why does this profound redefinition of marriage not "trample religious freedom" but letting gays marry would?

And no one is forcing you to marry someone of the same sex or forbidding you from marrying your partner. Why does allowing gays to marry trample your religious freedom but allowing gays to co-habit not?

2) How does gay marriage have anything to do whatsoever with what is taught in schools? There is absolutely no connection. Did the Supreme Court's striking down of sodomy laws result in promotion of homosexuality in the schools?

3) Who is proposing that religious organizations should be forced to hire gays? No one I know of. ENDA has an exception for religious organizations. Why set up a straw man just to knock it down? What on earth does that have with gay marriage?

And please answer the question I have proposed. Divorce is a profound redefinition of marriage that the Bible argues against more strenuously than homosexuality in that Jesus condemned it in no uncertain terms several times but doesn't mention homosexuality even once. Why are you not arguing as strenuously or even more strenuously against divorce? Why hasn't permitting divorce "trampled on religious freedom"? Do you believe, for example, that we should bring back prohibition or require women to wear burkas so as not to "trample" on their religious rights?

John said...

Well put, Dennis... as usual!

Steve, I'll just add that biblical Christians care that our beliefs are consistent with the plain teaching of the Word of God and that our actions honor the God of the Word. We won't go through gyrations and machinations (the way the Newsweek author attempts to do) to make the Scriptures justify sinful living and anti-family legislation. Nor will we justify one sin (i.e. homosexuality) based on the popular, misguided acceptance of another (i.e. divorce), the way you are attempting to do.

As for all of your new questions about, divorce, sodomy laws, prohibition, and burkas, I'm not willing to follow you into those red herring topics here.

Steve said...

I guess when you can't rectify the contradictions inherent in your argument, you just ignore them and label them "red herrings." How convenient as the Church Lady would say.

By the way "their" in that last sentence was meant to refer to Muslims.

I'm not asking you to justify one "sin" based on the acceptance of another. I am asking why it is not hypocritical expend so much energy attacking one sin that is committed by a minority and completely ignore a sin that is committed by a majority, especially among evangelical Christians.

I believe their is a very simple solution to these contradictions. Live your life as you see fit and let others live their lives as they see fit when it doesn't hurt you.

John said...

That's really rich, Steve. I make it clear in my first comment that I'll BRIEFLY INDULGE your diversion into the topic of divorce to say that I agree that there's a double standard ("contradiction" if you prefer). And the best you can do is tell me that I'm ignoring the issue and that we should all just live and let live? Wow! More proof that it's best to simply identify red herrings and ignore them until they become relevant on another post. Why do I always have to learn the hard way?!

Steve said...

Apparently, John, you believe that you can pick and choose which arguments to defend against and which you can simply dismiss as "red herrings" because you don't have a ready answer. Not unlike you pick and choose which Bible verses you follow and which sins to attack.

Delegatehein said...

Give up on Steve, he just wants to argue.

Adam said...

Steve,

Let us get to the root issues of your comments. It appears that you have deeper seated issues than just that of which was spoken of in this article. Your attacks against Dennis were beside the point especially considering he was merely just commenting on an article that has to do with homosexuality. In fact it would be innapropriate and off topic for Dennis to write about anything other than that which the article was talking about.

If I am understanding you correctly what is really going on is that you hate hypocrisy (and rightly so). I don't care who it is or in what belief system but hypocrisy is not acceptable... especially for Christians. Christians must be objective in their interpretations and not pick and choose which Bible verses to live out and which not to.

I apologize for the poor sampling of Christianity you have been introduced to. Unfortunately (as the Newsweek article makes obvious) what sells for the media right now is to give Christianity a bad name. Even if all Christians were hypocrites, this does not nullify what Scriptures say. Scriptures are very articulate in issues such as divorce, homosexuality, and such and it now up to the individual to determine whether he or she is going to accept them.

In your first comment you mention the Pharisees that tested Jesus... In a very similar fashion that is what you are doing. Just like the Pharisees it appears that you are attempting to justify something or to test Dennis. Your comments have nothing to do with truth but rather your hard heart.

As a caring person I want you to realize that your objections are unwarranted. Your attacks are unfair and actually quite unloving. In many ways you are the hypocrite... I say this not because I feel I am better than you but rather because I was where you are right now.

Again I apologize for the poor sampling you have received of Christianity and it is my hope that you look objectively at the evidence and open up your hurting heart. I would love to help you in any way I can. If you attack me, than I am unwilling to answer back for anything I say you will not listen to anyway. If are willing to have a civil conversation, than let’s talk.

~Adam

Steve said...

The article Dennis discussed did not just discuss homosexuality. It discussed how marriage is depicted in the Bible. So my comments on divorce were very much on topic.

So let me ask the question no one seems to be willing to answer again. Considering that Jesus condemns divorce numerous times and never mentions homosexuality once, why does Dennis have 141 posts on homosexuality and not a single post on divorce? Isn't divorce a bigger threat to marriage than gay marriage?

I have not been exposed to a "poor sampling" of Christians. I know many wonderful Christians. I don't believe all Christians are hypocrites. There are many Christians who actually follow Christ's teachings and have compassion for the poor and follow the Golden Rule, who strive to live up to Christ's example in their own lives instead of attacking others who do not conform to their interpretation of scripture.

Adam said...

First of all, truth is not determined by how many times it is in scripture. Truth is truth no matter what. Weather Jesus mentioned divorce once or a thousand times is beside the point. The reason Jesus spoke up about divorce at that time was most likely because it was a social phenomenon that needed to be corrected at that time. If homosexuality was just as prominent than surely Jesus would have spoken out against it just as Paul (who had traveled to Rome etc) had when he went into areas where homosexuality was practiced regularly.

Now about divorce. It is true that divorce is very destructive to marriages. It seems in America (and other places) that marriage is tossed aside as a toy. Once it gets boring or it malfunctions it can just be thrown in the garbage. Christians should be just as concerned about divorce as they are about homosexuality.

The problem in America is deeper than just divorce or homosexuality however. It is a spiritual issue. We are seeing the fruits of a nation that (for a large part) have abandoned God. This is evident in the blatant materialism and other acts as what we has been described in this blog. The real threat against marriage is people abandoning God.

This has nothing to do with weather I hate homosexuals or not (for I assure you that I don't). Its a matter rather that God abhors sin and wants all people to come to repentance. Like Jesus we should love the sinner but hate the sin itself.

There will come a day when all people will be judged according to their actions and (however politically incorrect it is) Christians must have people understand that they are held accountable for their actions.

If Dennis doesn't mention divorce that is his choice. I think it would be a fruitful (and needed) discussion to talk about divorce. The breakdown of the family unit in the US has been devastating and as you have said Jesus does talk about divorce. His lack of mentioning divorce however does not mean that he hates homosexuals or that he is "a hypocrite".

Steve said...

"If homosexuality was just as prominent than surely Jesus would have spoken out against it."

How do you know that? That's an awfully big assumption. You could say that about anything. You could even say the reverse: "If homophobia was just as prominent than surely Jesus would have spoken out against it." In fact, Jesus may have actually blessed a gay relationship. In Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 Jesus heals the "pais" of a centurion. Pais had three meanings back then: servant, son and male lover. We have no way of knowing which meaning was referred to by the word pais. there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that the third meaning was intended.

Divorce is certainly a bigger threat to marriage than homosexuality, so why does Dennis and other Christians ignore this bigger threat and focus only on homosexuality? Divorce is legal in this country and gay marriage isn't, so why do divorce laws not "trample on religious freedom"?

There are two possibilities: Dennis and other Christians believe that indeed interpretations of the Bible change with time and they think that proscriptions against divorce have gone the way of proscriptions against eating shellfish. Or Dennis and other Christians have made a pragmatic and political decision that it is easier to go after gays than it is to go after the larger population of people who have been divorced. They realize that crusade against divorce would be unpopular and it would marginalize them so they go after gays because they have more chance of success.

I also note that many conservative Christians don't seem to have a big problem with materialism either. Being against that would make them very unpopular.

Adam said...

I believe Jesus would have spoken out against homosexuality because he is God. In the old testament homosexuality was strictly forbidden. God does not change so nor should I believe that Jesus somehow accepted homosexuality. Even if he did heal a homosexual that doesn't mean he condoned the practice. He hung out with all sorts of people. That doesn't mean that he accepted their sin.

Homosexuality I would argue is just as big of a threat to marriage than divorce is. I don't believe either one as being more destructive to marriage.

Weather some Christians are materialistic is beside the point. Not everyone who claims to be Christian is truly Christian anyhow. Your treasure is where you heart is at.

Your statements are unwarranted. Your two suggestions in the fourth paragraph are not the only options. Of course you yourself know that Dennis would not hold to the first option. The second option "They realize that crusade against divorce would be unpopular and it would marginalize them so they go after gays because they have more chance of success" is not necessarily true either. Your presuming the worst. Perhaps the reason they go after homosexuality so much is because it is what is popularized. Divorce has been happening since the beginning of time. Perhaps the popularization of homosexuality in the media etc alarms many Christians causing them to want to speak out against it. The options are not as black and white as you see them in this issue. In many of these things you presume the worst. This tells me this has nothing to do with evidence, or intellect but rather the heart.

Second of all, Christians do go after divorce and it is quite a large topic today as well. Perhaps not with Dennis but other Christians have made it a large part of their ministry.

Steve said...

"In the old testament homosexuality was strictly forbidden. God does not change."

If that is true why do Christians not celebrate the sabbath on Saturday? Why is circumcision no longer necessary? Why don't they practice the dietary laws. Why are so many of the laws in Leviticus no longer followed? It seems like a lot of things from the Old testament were changed.

Dennis said...

Steve,

First, I checked four standard Greek lexicons (Thayer; Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich; TDNT, and the unabridged Liddell and Scott). None of them list "male lover" (or any similar phrase) as one of the possible meanings for pais.

Steve asked, why does Dennis have 141 posts on homosexuality and not a single post on divorce? Isn't divorce a bigger threat to marriage than gay marriage?

1. Because homosexuality and gay marriage are huge issues in American poitics right now. Divorce is not. There are all kinds of sins I could rail against. I tend to focus on current political issues.

2. Although Malachi says God hates divorce, Deuteronomy says God allowed it--as Jesus says, because of the harndess of people's hearts. This is nothing like the condemnation of homosexual sex in Leviticus which calls the practice an abomination and says that God vomited out the nations for such evil behavior.

3. Because no one that I know of in the public school system, or the media, or Hollyood, or Congress is teaching that divorce is a positive alternative lifestyle. Homosexual behavior, however, is being presented as a positive lifestyle choice.

4. Because divorce doesn't lead to horrible deaths resulting from AIDS. Homosexual behavior does.

5. Because I'm not aware of any divorced people suing Christians like homosexuals have recently.

6. Because while divorce disolves marriage, it does not redefine marriage. Allowing someone to "marry" someone of the same sex is a radical redefinition of what constitutes marriage.

7. There is no Act of Congress under consideration that would force religious organizations to hire divorced people (contrary to your contentions, the original version of ENDA only exempted people whose job was activily teaching or preaching theology. In to other words, ENDA would have exempted theology teachers and preachers, but it would have forced Christian Schools and Colleges to hire practicing homosexual administrators, biology teachers, history teachers, etc).

I must agree with all those who pointed out what a red herring your argument is. If you were divorced and I wrote against divorce, I suppose you could then attack me for not writing about bestiality! If I condemned bestiality you could then contemn me for not writing against some other sin.

Steve said...

On pais: Thucydides, Eupolis, Aeschines, Plato, Plutarch and Callimanchus all use the word pias to mean a same sex male lover.

1. Of course, Divorce isn't an issue. Christians are reluctant to expose their hypocrisy. That is my point.

2. On the one hand, when it suits them, Christians claim that Jesus or Paul rendered Old Testament laws such as dietary laws and circumcision moot, and then on the other hand you claim Jesus' very clear condemnation of divorce does not matter because the Old testament was more lax about it. You can't have it both ways.

3. Divorce is regarded positively by feminists, for example, who fought for a woman's rights to be free of an abusive husband. It is often taught in schools in literature and history courses that the inability of a woman to divorce her husband, no matter how abusive he was, was a negative thing.

4. Homosexuality doesn't cause AIDS any more than heterosexuality (which is how it is spread in places like Africa), blood transfusions or needles in hospitals cause AIDS. It is a virus that has a number of ways of infecting people. Why aren't you crusading against the use of needles or any kind of sexual intercourse? And "homosexual behavior" does not cause the virus to spread. Anal intercourse without the use of a condom is one of the ways the virus spreads. Not all male homosexuals engage in this behavior and no lesbians do. Is gay marriage between lesbians OK in tht case?

5. Divorced people aren't suing Christians because most Christians aren't trying to take away or prevent them from gaining rights. And the vast majority of gay people are not suing Christians.

6. Divorce is indeed a profound redefinition of marriage. It redefines marriage as being a temporary and not life-long bond. Gay marriage does not "redefine" marriage any more than allowing blacks and whites to marry (which happened in some states in 1967) "redefined" marriage. It does not change the status of anyone who is married it only allows more people to partake.

7. There is no Act of Congress under consideration that would force religious organizations to hire gay people either, as you admit. Talk about red herring. That is the definition of red herring.

Wayne MacKirdy said...

Steve
Why don't you give it a rest. You have been told over and over again that your point is well taken, but it is mysterious why you continue to pursue a debate on an issue that is completely off topic. If this is your hot button, then start your own blog, or post it somewhere else.

I am just amazed that you have held on to this for so long.

Dennis said...

Steve, anyone can throw out a string of names. Cite your source so we can check the context.

I have no doubt that the authors you cite may very well have discussed the sick perversion of men having sex with pais (boys), but that doesn't mean you can re-define pais as "male lover!"

Before we continue with this discussion, I want you to concede that the idea of men having sex with boys is indeed disgusting and sick.

Steve said...

As I already stated and as you know pais has several definitions, not just boy. Here is an essay that discusses the different uses of pais.

I certainly believe sex with young boys is wrong, just as I believe sex with young girls is wrong, which was a practice by many Christian countries until the last century and is still legal in most states. For example, the age of consent in the U.S. in the 19th century ranged from 10 to 12. This age of consent was almost universally practiced only when it came to girls in the context of rape and marriageable age. Here is an essay on the history of age of consent laws in the West Even today the age of consent and marriageable age in many U.S. states is 16 or even lower, sometimes with girls lower than boys. I don't see many Christians complaining about it.

Now tell me why you are so obsessed with gay marriage between two adults but don't care about marriage laws that allow children to get married or the harm that divorce causes to children? Isn't that disgusting and sick?

Steve said...

Sorry the first url didn't work. Go here and click on the pdf.

Dennis said...

I didn't ask you to affirm that it was wrong, Steve. For crying out loud, J-walking is "wrong!"

I asked you to affirm that for men to have sex with boys is disgusting and sick. Your lesson on marriage customs sounds disturbingly like a veiled rationalization for pedophilia and is truely disturbing.

Regarding the artiicle on pais to which you linked: I will provide a response on the front page of this blog within the next couple of days.

Steve said...

"Your lesson on marriage customs sounds disturbingly like a veiled rationalization for pedophilia and is truely disturbing."

That's a particularly sleazy argument, Dennis. It wasn't a veiled or unveiled rationalization for anything. I was just demonstrating the amazing hypocrisy of Christians who ignore real harm to children and focus all of their energies on attacking consenting adults who love each other. It is exactly why the Catholic priest abuse scandals are so reprehensible.

And forgive me for not jumping through your semantic hoops. Yes, it is disgusting and sick, as is your own hypocrisy. Are you satisfied?

This, of course, is another particularly sleazy tactic of Christians like you. Anyone who defends gays and attacks Christian hypocrites is immediately accused of being a child molester or a cossler of child molesters. You really have a sick mind.

Dennis said...

Steve,

I am relieved to hear you say it is disgusting and sick. I'm sorry that you think I was resorting to "sleazy tactics" but I really wasn't sure where you were coming from given what I thought was a weak and very qualified response to my challenge. You have to remember that I have absolutely no idea who you are or anything about you.