KOH2RVA: Day 236

Portrait of young boyNot long ago I had coffee with a church member who put it bluntly: “What do you think about homosexuality?” We had been talking about the recent decision of Ginter Park Baptist Church to ordain an openly gay man and she wanted to know where I stood on the issue.

I was caught a little off guard, so I asked, “What do you think about it?” She said, “I think it’s a sin.”

And that got the conversation started.

I can’t remember everything I said in just the way I said it, but I’ll try to capture the gist of the conversation below, and maybe even add a few thoughts. I said:

“I don’t think it’s a sin to be homosexual, but the Bible is pretty clear about homosexual behavior. It condemns it. But it also condemns a lot of heterosexual behavior, including adultery and fornication.”

I said, “Some people believe that homosexuality is a choice—that people choose to be gay. I suppose that’s possible. We humans are born sinners. We’re capable of almost anything. But in my conversations with gays and lesbians I haven’t talked to anyone who said they chose to be that way. They sometimes ask me, ‘When did you choose to be heterosexual?’

“The answer, of course, is that I didn’t. I didn’t choose to be this way; I discovered it, and, frankly, when I did I was mortified. I couldn’t believe the thoughts I was having about girls. I had always thought of myself as a ‘good Christian boy,’ but the thoughts I was having didn’t seem good or Christian. They seemed sinful, shameful. In those days I underlined long passages from Romans 7 in my big, green Living Bible, including this one: ‘I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway’ (vss. 18-19).

“That described me perfectly.

“I wept over my sin in those days. I prayed over it. I asked God to forgive me. Now imagine if my sinful, shameful thoughts had not been about girls, but about boys? What would I have done then?

“I don’t think homosexuality is a choice; I think it is a discovery. The question, then, is this: if you discover you are homosexual, what do you do with your homosexuality? It’s not that much different than asking, ‘If you discover you are heterosexual, what do you do with your heterosexuality?’ For me it was the biggest challenge to my Christianity, or maybe just the most obvious one. When the preacher talked about sin I would swallow hard and look away. I knew what he was talking about. But at least I had this promise in front of me: that someday I could get married and express my sexuality in a God-honoring way. The church (and the Bible) would bless that union. The minister would tell me I could kiss my bride. My friends and family would throw rice—a symbol of fertility—a subtle way of telling me to ‘get on with it!’

“But again, what if my thoughts back in those teenage years had been about boys and not girls? There would be no promise of future happiness, no hope of expressing my sexuality in a God-honoring way. I would have to do what I did then—suppress my thoughts and feelings as best I could and tearfully beg for God’s forgiveness when I couldn’t—for the rest of my life.

“That doesn’t seem fair, but my commitment to the authority of Scripture won’t allow me to dismiss the Bible’s teaching on homosexual behavior any more than I can dismiss its teaching on heterosexual behavior. The same Bible that says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” says, “Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

“I have to deal with that.

“But I also have to deal with this: the young man who grew up at First Baptist Church, who went to Sunday school here, who learned to sing, ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’—this young man who sits in my study and looks up at me with tears in his eyes, asking, in a trembling voice, ‘Am I an abomination?’

“What do I say to him?”

42 thoughts on “KOH2RVA: Day 236

  1. He is not an abomination, and we tell him so, and we tell him that Jesus loves him and we do too. Lots of smart people post here, so they don’t need this list, but I found the following link helpful. It contains Biblical passages regarding abominations. http://www.openbible.info/topics/abomination
    I am truly not trying to be flippant, but last week I qualified as an abomination as I wore my husband’s jacket. Deuteronomy 22:5

  2. Thanks for the continuing sharing on this very touching matter Jim. I appreciate the honesty of this. I also recall your sharing something of a similar nature with me many years ago.

  3. Thanks for this personal and honest explanation about sexuality that I can support! God’s love is immense!

  4. The blog above was very touching to me. For me, personally, there is a difference in accepting the authority of scripture and the realization that when we read ancient writings, we must be careful to not impose 21st century values on ancient peoples. Many of the “abomination” references in the Hebrew Testament were to cultic practices meant to separate Jewish religious practices from the pagan practices of their Canaanite neighbors. The reasons behind some of the dietary laws, not mixing fabrics, etc., probably had a valid reason at the time that has since been lost to history.

    T.M.

  5. This is a wonderful blog. I did not read anything that would qualify for an abomination. Jesus does love us all. I hear each time I take my grandkids to preschool. They love singing the song. I couldn’t forget it if I tried. Thanks for this.

  6. I am not sure that our sexuality is something that one simply discovers. If it is then we are discovering what is already there from the birth. You are correct that you had no choice in your heterosexuality. Modern science shows that our gender identification and sexuality is more dependent on our internal brain chemistry and structure that our external dangling bits that we make such a big deal over. Science had also shown human sexuality not either or, but can fall within a wide range which explains bisexuality, trangenderness, and other sexual behavior. So our sexuality is part of our createdness.

    Not far from where we find the passages regarding homosexuality we can find verses about menstruating women, yet in modern times we have a better understanding of this biological function and allow menstruating women to fully participate in worship and even stand in the pulpit. Maybe we need to have a modern understanding of human sexuality that still honors God.

    The last entry into the New Testament was about 2000 years ago and Old Testament scriptures can be found going back another 2000 years. They tell the stories of people encountering God and struggling to make sense of what that means to be God’s people in that day and age. Do we dare to struggle with why the Hebrews might have felt the need to address the issue of sexuality in their time when neighboring peoples may have used sex in all of its forms in ungodly ways. Or even struggle with their understanding of sexuality in general. Or do we simply read the ink on the paper in a vacuum apart from cultural, geographical, political, point in time and history. Do we dare to struggle with scripture at our present place in time and history?

    So what do you tell the young man? What I might tell any young man or woman, is that you and every other person where created by God and in God’s image, do not take this lightly, do not make what God had declared good profane. When you are in relation with others remember in who’s image they were created and treat them accordingly. Just as you would not run from one god to another seeking selfish gratification and then cast them aside neither should you do this with another human being. Just as worship is not entertainment, neither is sex, nor is it about power or anything else but the acknowledgment and celebration of an exclusive relationship grounded in a covenant than binds us to one another for the well being of of each other.

    Thank you for your willingness to struggle with this issue openly and allowing me to struggle with you.

    Peace,

    Rev. Brian Bower
    Chaplain Intern MCV

  7. Very brave, Dr. Jim, to cover this topic, which continues to be such a hotbed of controversy in most churches. What I have learned over the years about homosexuality and the Bible is that there are two main verses which speak about this. The one verse (blanking on exact chapter and title and don’t have time to look it up at this moment) refers to homosexuality as an “abomination” — the verse right up above it also refers to consuming shrimp as an “abomination”. This is a cultural reference.

    I’m sure you know that another cultural reference refers to the ancient battle tactic of sodomizing the losing enemy in the battle field as a sign of dominance. In other words, male on male rape.

    In all of my research on the topic,Jesus never directly spoke on this topic in the Bible. Which to me, indicates the level to which he felt this was important.

    All of my research on homosexuality leads me to conclude that we are born w/certain predispositions of sexuality. Sexuality is a very complex subject because it largely deals with neurology. Once the brain pathway is formed around certain ideas it triggers the body/nerve endings. I work with lots of folks who struggle with their sexuality because they were molested as children. Their neural pathways are all jumbled it. I’m not saying that all homosexuals were molested; I’m saying that sexuality is very complex.

    If you haven’t already done so, I would invite you to view the video, “For the Bible Tells me so”. It explains a lot about the Bible and homosexuality. Breaks down the Hebrew/Greek translations into understandable terms. Thanks for the hutzpah (sp?) in addressing this topic, both personally and professionally.

  8. Jim, thanks for sharing. I think I would say to the young man…

    “No, you are not an abomination, and the Bible does not say that. It is homosexual behavior that the Bible condemns. I’m not sure why you have this inclination. All I can say is, we all have sinful inclinations. It’s part of being human. And, in every single case, the best remedy, maybe the only remedy, is to lay it before an all-powerful and loving God who understands our struggles and has, within himself, the antidote for our sin. The more we press into God, the more like him we will become. On the other hand, the more we attach ourselves to the world, the more we will become like the world. Homosexuality may or may not be a choice. But, dying to self and finding true life in Jesus Christ most certainly is. It’s the best choice anyone can make. And remember, love covers a multitude of sins.”

    http://www.theperfectwave.co.za/

    SS

  9. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

    New International Version (NIV)

    9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

  10. My heart and understanding echoes Steve’s:

    Our human desire urges us to take, but the Lord asks us to give—
    To give it all to Him—most importantly our sins.
    What if on every issue we decided to live and do what feels most natural to us?
    It is more natural to be selfish than to give.
    It is more natural to hold a grudge than to forgive.
    It is more natural to lust than to remain faithful.
    What the Lord provides is supernatural.

    The Bible charges us as Christians to love—being patient, kind, and not keeping a tally of wrongs. But to love, as we see from the apostles speaking to the nations is also to encourage our brothers and sisters to keep our eyes fixed on turning from our sin. Sin separates us from God. We see Christ leading in the same way: loving the woman at the well—loving her enough to be clear that her lifestyle is sinful and encouraging her to turn from it. The shepherd protects His flock with a staff—pulling us from danger. A lot of times, danger seems good; what’s dangerous can be enticing and rationalized with how we feel or what culture supports.

    Homosexuality is a hot topic because it has a history of shame and hate unlike other sins. Brothers and sisters struggling with homosexuality need to first know that God does love them as much as any sinner (read: all of us).

    The ultimate goal is to accept and love our brothers and sisters in all of their sin without accepting, encouraging and celebrating the sin. My prayer and vision for the churches is to be a place where someone can freely say, “I’m struggling with ______________, can you pray for me and support me through this struggle?” about ANY sin.

    Again, human desires of all types are natural: to overeat, to covet, to lust…
    What the Lord provides is supernatural. Let’s live it and believe it. God IS more powerful than sin!

  11. A different study the Greek words found in 1 Corinthians 6:9…
    “In the letter to the Corinthians, amid the list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul uses two Greek words: malakoi arsenokoitai. The first is a common Greek word meaning “soft,” and elsewhere in scripture is used to describe a garment. Nowhere else in scripture is it used to describe a person. The early church seems to have understood it as a person with a “soft” or weak morality. Later, it would come to denote (and be translated as) those who engage in masturbation, or “those who abuse themselves.” In our own time, with masturbation having been more popularly accepted, this word has often been used to denote homosexuals. All we actually, factually, know about the word is that it meant “soft.”
    The Greek word arsenokoitai is an even greater mystery. It is found nowhere else in Scripture – NOR is there any record of its being used in any other contemporaneous text. We have nothing, either internal to the scriptures nor external to them, to give us guidance as to its meaning.
    When such a mysterious word appears in an ancient text, the translator must do something with it. Even with commonly understood words, a translator has choices to make about which English word best communicates the word’s meaning. In the case of a completely unknown word like arsenokoitai, the danger of mistranslation is heightened. Many translators have chosen to take the two words together, understanding the Greek word for “soft” as applying to the receptive partner in male-to-male anal intercourse, and have taken the arsenokoitai to mean the active partner. This is speculation at best.” – Blessings and love to all.

  12. I think this is what Jesus would say to the person in the study and to us. From John 8:

    “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

    9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

    11 “No one, sir,” she said.

    “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

    (Stan’s comments)
    Jesus loved her and like Jesus said to the Rich Young Ruler, if you want to follow him, you’ve got leave it behind, whatever the things/sins/lifestyles “it” is one’s life.

  13. I don’t think “science” has the last word and can determine whether a person was born gay or not. From a sociological perspective, the effects of family of origin environment and the physcial/sexual/emotional abuse and abandonment issues a person may have encountered in childhood which could have come from intimates, strangers, or peers have a highly significant part to play in one’s sexual expression. The time of first sexual exposure a child encounters, which in our American culture that can come quite early via commercials, media, and internet, can have a dramatic and lasting impact on the child.

  14. Stan, certainly the whole of our sexuality and how we express it is not entirely biological. It is not nature vs nurture, but both. Your post does not account for the farm boy who grows up in a loving Christian home witnessing only healthy examples of heterosexuality yet is still gay. Gay people have been with us through every age prior to the influences you cite. I would agree that there are those that have had their sexuality informed by abuse or other influences, but I would argue those individuals are another classification. To paint all homosexuals with this brush is to imply that they are damaged. Having known many from this community you would be surprised how normal most of their childhoods were and the rather normal and wholesome lives they live now.

    The ancient Hebrew most likely had no understanding of the biological nature of sexuality so could not account for any variation other than the heterosexual majority in creation. This being true a better understanding of “a man shall not lie with a man” could be read as a “heterosexual man shall not lie with another heterosexual man” for this would go against our created nature. For you an I to lie together as hetero males would be simply to use each others body for base gratification, hedonistic pleasure, or the thrill of deviant behavior in opposition to our true biological sexuality or created nature, and hence an abomination. Asking a true homosexual to engage in heterosexual activity would be to ask them to go against their created nature as well.

    As far as environment is concerned, many of the things we find most objectionable about what we perceive from the outside as “the gay lifestyle” has been forced on them by exclusion forcing them underground and making long term monogamous relationships difficult or even dangerous to maintain. Whether hetero or homo, repressed sexuality can cause shame, guilt, or other negative feelings that damage us emotionally and spiritually often leading to us use our bodies inappropriately or that are harmful to our overall well being when finally acted out. Imagine what might happen if they were allowed the opportunity to express their sexuality in a healthy way that is God Honoring and in community with us.

    Brian

  15. I was killed in a car accident at 16. It took years to understand the implications of the 8 minutes I was experiencing my near-death experience; I have come to understand that the supernatural being I encountered and the completeness of individual beings who were felt as being all-inclusive by me, leads me to better understand the nature of a God whom does not condemn the sinner. The God I met there would not look upon any being with any feeling other than “love that surpasses all understanding.” We just do not have the experience, much less the vocabulary to understand that kind of acceptance. I commend Jim Sommerville, a longtime friend for tackling such a tough issue as a Pastor; his church must be a very remarkable people to allow him to speak of this issue, much less allow him to keep his job. My last church position fired me for reaching out to someone in a dilemma about their sexuality. I haven’t served in another church for twenty years because of it. Thanks for being so brave as to not deny Christ-like love for others.

  16. Thank you for discussing this subject so beautifully. I have not met a gay person yet that “chose” their sexuality. We should practice loving each other and focus on accepting our differences. We are not to judge…….that is God’s job.

  17. I’d also like to thank the spiritual maturity of First Baptist Church Richmond for faithfulness to Christ as members of the congregation will, of course, as with most topics, hold diverse understandings. After six years of seminary and twenty years of discussing this topic, the Bible is simply not as clear as we heterosexuals would like to believe that it is. See http://www.choosewhotobe.com.

  18. I appreciate the thoughtful, loving way this divisive issue is being discussed. Every church and religious institution is going to have to have this discussion at some time. You all are presenting a helpful model. Some advantages to having this discussion by blog is: you get to think and re-think before you post; no interruptions as you share your point of view; many can “listen in” without feeling a need to speak up or to display any body language; you can post references (even by hyperlink) so others can examine sources that have informed your opinion. With that in mind, I wonder if Margie would share her source for the I Corinthians passage?

  19. Whether you say this person must refrain from homosexual conduct no matter what he feels or that he will find full acceptance in a community of grace — both find support in Scripture and tradition. So we get to make careful choices and practice as much discernment as possible.

  20. I believe I would share with him my experience in the church of my tradition. I struggled also as a child with what I understood sin to be, taught to me by a rather traditional Southern Baptist church. So I didn’t dance, even with the cute girl my teacher tried to partner me with for square dancing at school. I wondered about owning a deck of playing cards, used by some for gambling I knew, but with which I only played solitaire. I was deeply hurt when I discovered that my grandfather – my hero – drank beer, at least occasionally; I understood that only bad people consumed alcohol. And I dared not ask to attend the movies on a Sunday, the day of rest. Over time I have changed my mind about these things. I’ve been known to dance, play solitaire and other games with cards, have a glass of wine with dinner, and even see a film on “The Lord’s Day” without feeling pangs of guilt. I have come to believe that the church, for all the good it does and for the deep commitment I have to it still, often is shaped more by what is perceived to be the dominant culture than by the teachings of Jesus. Faithful Christians of my tradition once stood by slavery as God-ordained and separated themselves from others to maintain that stand. Some have only recently determined, in spite of what some insist is an unbiblical position, that women as well as men should have every opportunity for church leadership. Many of them have long since changed their minds also about dancing, card-playing, alcohol consumption, and the like. One day, I believe, they will change their minds also about whether someone is a sinner because he or she lives with integrity into who they truly are, regardless of sexual orientation. Sooner will be better than later.

  21. @Rick – Sorry for the delay, I didn’t check back until now. I excerpted from a series of articles that was in the Washington Post back in 2010. Here is a link to the first of the articles, each article links to the others…I think there were 5 in total.

    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2010/12/what_does_the_bible_really_say_about_homosexuality_reading_texts_of_terror.html

    One small note to Jim – as I see sweet souls who are my friends on social networking sites railing against the God who I know created them and denying His existence…I can’t help but feel that this topic, too IS kingdom work. It is so true that we are the only Jesus that some people might ever meet…and if all we can do in the case of homosexuality is to openly judge their sin for them…or to let them in, but only with an asterisk, as a second class citizen in our churches – assign them a scarlet ‘G’ and make them promise to fight against their basic nature or be celibate to show US that they are repentant…why would we be surprised when they don’t believe that Jesus loves them?
    I wonder…why do we seem to agree that all other sins are between the sinner and God…but this one can be interpreted for each other and on behalf of each other? At least that is what it seems to me.

    12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
    13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

  22. Thanks to Nick Foster above for extending his personal story regarding his journey of understanding. He also does well to remind us that God’s church is shown time and time again throughout history to overcomplicate his message of love through misinterpretation of scripture for our own selfish purposes. There mere fact that a practice is secular or pagan does not necessarily make it reproachful in the same way that a practice begun by the faithful does not necessarily make it beyond reproach.

  23. What would the late and great Dr. Adams have to say about this? There is no “grey area” here.

    St Paul didn’t mince words! ” Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with
    mankind,” 1 Corinthians 6:9

    What do you suppose the Apostle Paul was referring to with respect to the word “effeminate”?

    I use to live in Richmond 40 years ago.

  24. Craig: This is a really interesting question, because Dr. Adams was the pastor who was in favor of letting two African students join the church back in 1965. The church was bitterly divided over that issue. Half the deacons resigned in protest, many people left the church. But Dr. Adams had been the president of the Baptist World Alliance. He had been all over the world. He had met Baptists from lots of different countries. He seemed to understand that in spite of obvious physical and cultural differences, these African students were also the children of God, members of the Body of Christ, who should be allowed to join the church. Your email address makes me wonder if you would have seen it that way, back then. I hope so. But I, too, wonder what Dr. Adams would have to say about this.

  25. Whatever happened to Sola Scriptura? Some Baptists seem to want to run to “Tradition” and give it equal standing to the Scriptures such as “local church autonomy” or the Priesthood of all Believers. I love and cherish these Baptist Doctrines but when a question of faith and practice emerges our source must be the Bible and not the popular winds of change.

    View these translations of Leviticus 18:22 and see if any of them relate to the interpretation below.

    http://bible.cc/leviticus/18-22.htm

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+18%3A22&version=NRSV

    Throughout their history Orthodox Judaism does not interpret the Hebrew Scriptures with this understanding as presented by BrianlBower: “The ancient Hebrew most likely had no understanding of the biological nature of sexuality so could not account for any variation other than the heterosexual majority in creation. This being true a better understanding of “a man shall not lie with a man” could be read as a “heterosexual man shall not lie with another heterosexual man” for this would go against our created nature.”

    This is an attempt to justify an increasing American socially acceptable lifestyle by adding word “heterosexual” to the translation. Nowhere in Scripture is homosexuality promoted nor honored. To do so one would need an extra-canonical source, because it just isn’t there in the Bible, but homosexual behavior has clear prohibitions in both Old and New Testaments.\

    Stan

  26. Dr.Adams admitting blacks has nothing to do with sin. Being black is not a sin. Homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God.

    I cannot find any Biblical reference to God’s acceptance of homosexuality. There are an number of Biblical references that come to mind. I see Phillip evangelizing an Ethiopian traveler. I see Jesus Christ telling the harlot at the well to “go and sin no more”! I see Sodom and Gomorrah. .

    Tell me. Would the Church condone or accept a practicing prostitute in the congregation? Would First Baptist Church marry a homosexual couple?

    it is true that we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. The church is a place for sinners. If there were no sinners, there would be no need for the Church.

    The only way I see homosexuals having a place in the church is for them to renounce homosexuality along with not engaging in homosexual activity.

    How long will it take the American clergy to realize that Christianity contains absolutes? If things keep going the way they are going now, I fear the wrath of God will fall on America.

    In closing my rant, I will make reference to the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards. Every now and then I read his infamous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.

  27. Here is my primary issue with, shall we say the more conservative interpretation of scripture as represented, for example, by Craig above…
    Let’s say that you are right:
    1) There are absolutes. That implies a binary world – a good and a bad, a wrong and a right.
    2) Homosexuality is a sin.
    Even if that much is given as totally common ground, then still…
    The Greatest Commandment is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Ends of the World – to EVERYONE…not a chosen few, or whom we would pick, or only some, or who we deem worthy…but to everyone. The point of sharing that Good News is to introduce every soul to the loving, saving grace and magnificence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The natural binary then if that is the Greatest act…the Worst act would be to separate a soul from the knowledge of that same loving, saving grace and magnificence. Right?
    Also, if your second point is correct and homosexuality is a sin, the One who can convict a sinner of a sin is not you, it is not me, it is not the congregation of First Baptist Richmond, it is not the entire Southern Baptist Convention. It is God. The One who can change a heart and turn it from sin is that same God. But He won’t have that chance…because we keep trying to do it for Him in your model. We block the door and tell *these* sinners that they have to stop sinning by OUR interpretation before they can come in.
    The best I have for you is that if you read the Bible and are strongly convicted that homosexuality is an abomination and a sin against God…if you believe that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about homosexuality and a warning to you about the behavior…if the Holy Spirit convicts you the same about Romans and Corinthians then by all means, you should avoid homosexual behavior. And when asked your vote on ordination for a homosexual, you should vote ‘No’. That is how the Priesthood of the Believer works – and it isn’t a rewriting of scripture…it is the way we, as Baptists believe that God convicts us – not through someone who is ‘more qualified’ but through our personal relationship with Him.
    Make no mistake, I have several other issues with the more conservative interpretation as well, among them being that when the Holy Spirit and I read, as I’ve said before, He continually takes me to the ‘you just love everyone and let me sort out everything else’ position…but also I can’t get past the feeling that we are picking and choosing where to brandish the Bible and where not to…shellfish…mixed fibers…pork…milk and meat in the same bowl…role of women…slavery…
    In summary…and hopefully to be clear after being much more wordy than originally intended…though my interpretation is different than yours, I don’t condemn you for your interpretation itself. I only condemn you for your condemnation of others…because that is the line that Jesus’ love will not allow us to cross.

    34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:34-35

  28. Craig, I hope that First Baptist would indeed accept a known practicing prostitute into the congregation. While such a person’s sins may or may not be more visible than mine, who is to say that their sins are greater than mine? Recall that Jesus told the high priests “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31b NRSV)

  29. The church should be welcoming not affirming. Jesus welcomed all sinners and even invited Hmself over to their houses, Jesus did not affirm however their sin, but instead called them to leave everything and follow Him. When they didn’t and when I don’t, Jesus grieves.

  30. Stan,
    We all due respect. Please step out of the box for a moment. i think it is a fair statement to say that the LGBT views “church” as a modern day “lions den” and why would they walk in the door ? They certainly don’t have the faith of Daniel. Or do they ? These LGBT Christians seem to have the courage of their convictions. In my opinion we as Christians make it so hard. For years the most common invitational song in a Baptist church has been ” Just As I Am ” not just as I’m gonna be but JUST AS I AM. We talk about our “walk” and our ” spritual journey” but we do not make these folks welcome enough to begin the walk. Don’t kid yourself these fellow human beings fellow sinners do not feel wanted in the majority of our buildings…. Houses of God.

  31. Well, how I wish you could look at him and say, well son, abomination and damnation are Christian constructs that we’ve unfortunately filled your head with all these past years. In fact, many people these days (more so outside of the U.S.) live comfortably outside that construct and are quite happy and free from the guilts and fears that religious rules and regulations can create. However, your feelings for men does put you as non-normative. You’re still not considered quite there, in the eyes of collective current society, but have you heard? It’s gets better and better.

    Turn around, walk out of this church and get yourself to your closest, local gay alliance or support group–don’t be afraid, be brave now!–and they will be best equipped to help you understand just how beautiful and perfect you are, right now.

    God bless, child.

  32. I never understood how Christians can accept and follow the words of Paul, yet don’t want to accept and acknowledge that Jesus Christ never said anything against homosexuality. On this particular topic, people are choosing Paul’s words over Jesus’ actions. As a Follower of Christ, I don’t understand that.

  33. I know St. Paul eluded to his “thorn in the flesh”. No-one knows what he was talking about. If you want to believe that Paul was a homosexual, then his example should be followed. He kept it to himself.

  34. Yikes! Why would we think Paul was a homosexual? I can’t imagine he would talk about it that way, or talk about homosexual behavior that way, if he were. Sometimes we read into the Bible what we want it to say instead of reading out of it what it wants to say.

  35. Jeff,

    That’s why I said the church SHOULD BE welcoming because most aren’t. This is also why I spoke of Jesus inviting Himself over to people’s houses as he met them on their turf in their situation and took the initiative.

    Linda,

    Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-20 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Since Leviticus 18:22 is part of the Law, Jesus affirms that sex with someone of the same sex is sin. I’m guessing the status of homosexual behavior’s status as a sin wasn’t in question as it is today (probably not at all). Jesus goes on in the Matthew passage to state that it’s not just the act itself but even brought a higher standard to the Law and adultery specifically that it is not simply the act that is sin but lust as well. The result being that none of us and no one in history can ever hope to keep or have kept the Law. Therefore our hope is the one and only who could ever fulfill the Law which is Jesus the Christ, Son of God. Paul testifies to this in Galatians when he writes about the Curse of the Law. Therefore Paul is not contradicting or superseding Jesus teachings but affirming them.

  36. Oh no! I never meant to imply that St. Paul was a homosexual. I misinterpreted another comment and thought that someone else was implying that Paul was gay when they referred to Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh”. I hear so many far out ideas, I decided to reply with a far out idea.

    Whatever Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, we will never know in this life. The Apostle Paul is one of those persons that I really want to talk to in the hereafter. Perhaps there will be no curiosity in the hereafter.

  37. Stan, I am aware of what Leviticus 18:22 reads. I am also aware of other Levitical laws included in the same group:

    Leviticus 11:10-12 and the eating of shellfish
    Leviticus 12 and the unclean days and weeks following childbirth
    Leviticus 15, I will leave that to you to interpret
    Leviticus 15:19: and men who lie with their wives on menstrual cycles
    Leviticus 19:19: sowing two different seeds, and wearing garments of two different materials

    I haven’t gotten to the fun laws yet on slavery, or the other 600 laws.

    Based on the laws above, what will you tell all the mothers in your church on Sunday? What will you tell all the husbands who lie with their wives? What will you tell all those wearing two different materials?

    This is why I said that interpreting scripture is not as black and white as people want it to be. Based on Stan’s argument, then we have to tell mothers, farmers, wives, and husbands how they are all abominations. As people are insistent on condemning homosexuality, what are we to tell those who are impacted by all Levitical Laws?

    Did Jesus pick and chose which Levitical laws He said were to be fulfilled? Or was Jesus talking about the 10 Commandments, as stated in Matthew 5:19, when he said “commands” and not the 613 Levitical laws? And if you look at the Greatest Commandment and the second, those two cover the 10 Commandments in the OT.

    You are right about one thing; our hope is in Jesus Christ. Not in you. Not in me. I answer to Christ and Christ alone.

    I appreciate the discussion.

  38. Jesus addressed the sins in the Jewish culture of His time. Homosexuality needed no clarification, it was widely accepted as sin. Paul addresses it in his Roman/Greek world because it was accepted at least partly in those cultures. In Romans 1:24-27 Paul writes those who continually rejected God and His ways, that God gave them up to their degrading passions which was homosexual intercourse of women with women and men with men. There is no choice to be made here about choosing Paul over Jesus or Jesus over Paul, they are completely compatible with one another. Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the letters he wrote and they were included in the canon of Scripture, and we don’t get to add to or take away from that.. Jesus says in Matthew 19:4-6 in responding to a question about divorce that 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Jesus certainly didn’t talk about God joining 2 women together or 2 men together.

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