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Thoughts on a week of posts

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  • nyguy_1225
    Well, it s been a week full of healthy, truth-seeking and respectful exchanges here on the ex-ex-gay-ministry board. I believe Bob was right on the money in
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12 1:34 PM
      Well, it's been a week full of healthy, truth-seeking and respectful
      exchanges here on the ex-ex-gay-ministry board. I believe Bob was
      right on the money in his last post and since Dale has continually
      argued in favor of the authority of Scripture (which I
      wholeheartedly applaud), it is unlikely that even he could or would
      disagree. If he and his wife choose to remain in their marriage (a
      perfectly valid choice) then being faithful to the marriage vows
      should not be taken lightly.

      It appears to me that in a week full of posts Dale has yet to put
      forth a credible argument in his use of the Bible to condemn any and
      all expressions of homosexuality, despite his original post
      #3128: "Quite simply sex with another man is sin. End of story."

      Dale also includes in his sentiment loving and committed, long-term
      partnerships -- between people of any orientation, for that matter --
      who are striving to do the one thing the Lord considered supremely
      important about all sexual relationships: living their sexual lives
      within their covenants with each other. Rather, the two passages
      cited to support his case deal with gang rape (Gen 19) and cult
      prostitution (Rom 1) -- not particularly analogous in my opinion.

      While I remain open to the possibility that one may yet be
      forthcoming, it seems most people who attempt to use the Bible for
      that purpose rely on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures
      removed from their social and historical context. However, this
      literal interpretation is very selective. Passages which call for
      the stoning of unruly children, death for all women who are not
      virgins on their wedding day, giving away all one's belongings to
      follow Christ, to cite just a few, are usually not taken literally.

      OLD TESTAMENT:
      The Torah alone (what we Christians refer to as the Pentateuch or
      first 5 books of the Bible) contains 613 commandments, hundreds of
      which contemporary Jews and Christians no longer follow.

      So how come of all this list of "abominations" we only single out
      homosexuality?

      -- Cross breeding cattle (Lev 19:19)
      -- Clothing woven of two different kinds of fabrics (Lev 19:19)
      -- Sewing different kinds of seed in same field (Lev 19:19)
      -- Lending money at an interest (Ex 22:25)
      -- Death penalty for cursing your mother or father (Lev 20:9)
      -- Touching the skin of a dead pig; which puts the whole Super Bowl
      into question (Lev 11:8)
      -- Having sex with your wife during menstruation; both must be cut
      off from their people (Lev 20:18)

      To selectively choose to interpret literally a passage from
      Leviticus in order to condemn a minority group, while ignoring
      hundreds of other passages, seems designed more to hurt gay people
      than to seek the truth for all humanity. Many people find such
      selective interpretation to be theologically unsound, intellectually
      indefensible and reflective of a prior prejudice.

      NEW TESTAMENT:
      Lest you think it is only prohibitions in the OT that we routinely
      overlook or ignore, think again. Even if you discount all the
      contextual factors and alternative explanations discussed this week,
      there's still a major issue of consistency in our notions about
      biblical authority. What about all the other prohibitions?

      The Bible prohibits gluttony at least as many times, even calling it
      a form of idolatry at one point (Phil 3:19). According to some
      studies, 60% of the U.S. population is overweight, a percentage I
      would guess to be reflective of churchgoers. All but a tiny
      handful, who have biological disorders, are clearly gluttonous. Why
      not exclude these from our congregations?

      More caustic for us is the Bible's repeated authorization of the
      institution of slavery. Paul wrote in Ephesians that slaves must
      obey their masters and do so cheerfully (Eph 6.5). The obedient
      slave will find his or her reward in heaven. These are the famous
      passages quoted so often during the Civil War to justify slavery.
      Slave owners were not defensive about owning slaves. On the
      contrary, they believed that the Bible (and Paul) taught that
      slavery was part of God's plan for mankind. Those who wished to
      challenge the morality of slavery found that they had to challenge
      both the authority and the interpretation of scripture. They found
      also that it was not as easy as it might appear, for the biblical
      case for slavery was both strong and consistent.

      The simple language of Scripture prohibits women from wearing gold
      jewelry, braiding their hair and wearing expensive clothes (1 Pet
      3:3). In other words, gold wedding bands are a sign of apostasy!
      And not only are women to be silent in the church (1 Cor 14:34), but
      they are also to have their heads covered and their faces veiled
      (11:5-6).

      Fasting is everywhere a discipline in Scripture, but almost never in
      our churches. Paul warned the church at Corinth to "not forbid
      speaking in tongues." Rarely is such behavior sanctioned in our
      churches. In that same letter, he urges the unmarried to remain
      that way, judging it "better." "Do not seek marriage" is his plain
      advice. (Except if you can't control your passion -- implying that
      the NT foundation for marriage is uncontrollable sexual appetite.)
      He hedges on marriage, of course, noting "I have no command of the
      Lord" (1 Cor 7:25). Does this mean this part of Scripture is not
      divinely inspired? Taken together with Jesus' teaching that
      disciples will renounce biological family ties, where does this
      leave the "family values" movement?

      The apparent disparity between biblical teaching on sexual morality
      and modern standards of church discipline is probably nowhere more
      evident than on the issue of divorce. Nowadays, divorce and
      remarriage are rarely cause for expulsion from the congregation.
      This is true even in the most morally-strict evangelical circles
      though Jesus plainly said, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries
      another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her
      husband and marries another she [also] commits adultery" (Mark
      10:11).

      If we take this prohibition for what it says, here is the Lord's
      Word, plain, simple, uncompromising, absolute, with no casuist's
      accommodation to special cases or extenuating circumstances. People
      who divorce one person and then married another are really, in the
      Lord's sight, not married at all, but are only having an adulterous
      affair. Shouldn't we therefore expel from our congregations all
      divorced and remarried couples?

      The one time Jesus explicitly names the kinds of people who are
      headed for eternal damnation, he lists only those who did not
      provide food for the hungry or drink for the thirsty, did not
      welcome strangers or provide clothing to the naked, did not visit
      prisoners. These and dozens of other plain stipulations are
      routinely overlooked by even the most ardent defenders of biblical
      authority.

      The interpretative layers in these questions are as subtle as they
      are many. I am convinced, however, that Scripture does have within
      its text an insight that helps us deal with these questions, a
      narrative relevant to questions of sexual orientation and biblical
      fidelity.

      WHAT THEN IS IT?
      The story in Acts 10-15 is a narrative describing the struggle of
      the early Christian community as it moved from a parochial to a
      universal mission. The key characters of chapter 10 are Cornelius
      (a God-fearing Gentile) and Peter. First, Cornelius has a vision
      from God telling him to locate Peter. Peter likewise has a vision,
      of animals descending from heaven on a sheet. He is instructed to
      eat them; but they are unclean and compliance would be
      an "abomination" according to the Bible. His refusal is met with
      this rebuke: "What God has made clean, you must not call common or
      profane."

      All of this is visionary preparation for Peter's being willing to
      commit an abomination, i.e. to associate with Cornelius, a profane,
      unclean Gentile who by definition is a religious pervert, at the
      promoting of a "holy angel," who is later identified in the chapter
      as the Holy Spirit.

      In subsequent chapters the theological confusion over what is, and
      is not, the divinely inspired Word of God is eclipsed by a bevy of
      stories about the trials of early Christian missionary work: of the
      journeys of Paul and Barnabas, tales of persecution and
      imprisonment, the martyrdom of James. Chapter 15 hints of the
      coming doctrinal debate in the church with a report that certain
      Jewish Christians from Judea were insisting on the fundamentals of
      the faith: circumcision for the newly converted Gentile believers,
      and by implication, accountability to the Law of Moses. They were
      insisting on the authority of the Bible.

      Then comes the fight on the floor of the convention in Jerusalem.
      Missionary stories of revival breaking out among the (religiously
      perverted) Gentiles are told with jubilation. But some of the
      fundamentalists are upset that these converts are not being required
      to believe the Bible is literally true. The missionaries have gone
      soft on the "Law of Moses."

      The more conservative leaders argue that you either believe all of
      the Bible or none of it. Either its authoritative or its not. And
      the Bible (the "Law of Moses") commands circumcision -- the texts
      are plain, their meaning is indisputable.

      Finally, Peter stood up and said in effect: "I know what the Bible
      says. What I'm telling you is that I've seen indisputable evidence
      of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of these Gentile
      perverts. God has cleansed their hearts by faith and has made no
      distinction between them and us. We don't exactly have a perfect
      track record when it comes to being faithful to the Bible
      ourselves."

      Peter was onto something important. His was a precedent-setting
      theological argument: clear evidence of the presence of the Holy
      Spirit -- evidence attested to in the Bible -- overrules any
      particular regulation. The regulations, in other words, are in
      service to the Spirit, not the other way around. The idea is
      ancient and deeply biblical: "The only thing that counts is faith
      working through love," according to Paul (Gal 5:6).

      Fidelity to the Bible, to paraphrase Jesus, can be summarized in two
      intertwined statements: "You shall love the Lord your God with all
      your heart, soul and mind" and "your neighbor as yourself" (Matt
      22:37-40).

      As we try to understand what our Christian response to homosexuality
      and homosexuals should be, we should be guided by Jesus when he said
      in no uncertain terms, "You shall love the Lord your God with
      everything you have and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

      This love commandment sums up every bit of the Law and the
      prophets. As Christians, everything we say, do and believe must
      submit to the test of Jesus' love commandment. Or as paraphrased in
      the Golden Rule: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

      Is homosexuality compatible with Christian faith? Is
      heterosexuality compatible with Christian faith? Uncircumcised or
      circumcised? None of these questions, I would suggest, are
      relevant. Homosexuals, like heterosexuals, shouldn't repent of
      their orientation, but of their sinful responses to their
      orientation. To quote sacred Scripture: "We believe that we will be
      saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will" (Acts
      15:11). If we don't get this, we don't get the gospel.

      -Alex
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