Faith-based humor: 9-7-09
Learning kindness: 9-9-09

Scripture and the gay issue: 9-8-09

You may remember that I wrote here recently about the decision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to find a way to ordain otherwise-qualified gays and lesbians to the clergy.

Elca

I hailed it as an important and proper step -- and I wish my own Presbyterian denomination would reach the same conclusion.

As usual, I got questions about how anyone could ignore what they believe is the clear condemnation of homosexuality in scripture -- a condemnation that means gays and lesbians should never hold positions of leadership in the church.

Well, I have a speech on this subject that I have given a number of times in various venues. In it, I argue that when one reads scripture carefully and does good exegetical work, one finds that nothing in the Bible should be used as a weapon against homosexuality and that nothing in the Bible should be read as prohibiting otherwise-qualified homosexuals from serving the church in all ways. (If you want, e-mail me and I'll send you a copy of that talk -- unless your mind is already closed on the subject.)

But in the wake of the ELCA decision, a friend shared this excellent commentary about how that denomination's decision can be justified scripturally. It's a fine piece of work written by Timothy Wengert, a professor of Reformation history at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and I commend it to you. What I especially like is that it takes seriously the reservations about all of this that others have based on their reading of scripture. That is, it doesn't just run roughshod over people who disagree. Rather, it seeks to respect their position because they, too, believe they are taking scripture seriously. Taking such views seriously is what I try to do, too, even though I disagree with them.

So if this subject interests you, today I invite you to get inside the head a bit of those of us who believe it's a perfectly justifiable scriptural position to advocate ordination of gays and lesbians to ministry.

* * *

MORE BAD P.R. FOR ISLAM

Here's another example of why many people, especially in the West, think Islam is always and everywhere a bad influence when it comes to personal freedom. It's hard to understand why the religious hardliners in places such as Afghanistan don't understand that besides twisting the true teachings of Islam they are doing their religion considerable harm in the eyes of the world by punishing people simply for raising legitimate questions.

* * *

P.S.: Please plan to join me and my co-author, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, at one of the two upcoming (Sept. 10 and Sept. 13) events described here to launch our new book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust. Rainy Day Books will be there to help you buy a copy and you'll even get to meet some of the people whose remarkable stories we tell in the book.

Comments

Susan

Bill, I enjoyed Timothy Wengert's article, and I look forward to reading your speech, too (I emailed you for it). Wengert made an interesting point that it's through loving God and neighbor that we keep all the rest of God's law -- NOT the other way around (meaning that the way to loving God and neighbor ISN'T through focusing on the letter of the law).

I'm so glad the student in Afghanistan was released! I'm starting to agree with what some Atheists say: that people who are really secure in their beliefs, can handle having their beliefs questioned and criticized. I'm so glad to live in America, where we're free to criticize government, church -- virtually anything we see a problem with, we can talk about it.

We need to never take this freedom lightly -- there are countries where people can only speak their minds if they are willing to risk everything.

Will Graham

Interesting story about bad P.R. for Islam.

I wonder why Cole and Iggy don't vist any local mosques like they do local churches.

After all, Iggy had such a good time with the Muslim students at the COR meeting last year!

Will Graham

PRICELESS quote by Red Biddy yesterday~

"One death is a fact, a million killed a statistic."
Joseph Stalin.

This sums up atheims better than anything I could say. It shall be presevered for POSTERITY!

Red Biddy also repeats the myth that "millions of witches" were killed in the Middle Ages.

Not according the the favorite source for atheists:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch_trials

So the Gulags still have them outdone many times over, BOTH statisticaly and factually.

Interestingly, "withcraft" also included what we would now call "drug dealing".

Will Graham

The Seven Sacrements of Secularism.

1. Elimination of religion from public square.

2. Abortion

3. Genetic Counseling (Eugenics)

4. Euthanasia.

5 Uncontested Divorce.

6. Gay Marriage.

7. Final Replacement of marriage by Civil Unions; with the goal being more power to the STATE by elimination of Extended Families and Nuclear Families that people could rely on as alternative to state.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2005/04/unsolicited_advice_for_the_chu.html

Dolores Lear

Bill:
"... don't understand that besides twisting the true teachings of Islam they are doing their religion considerable harm in the eyes of the world..."

Is there any True Teachings of any Religious God, that has been handed down by Natural Humans for Centuries, and Translated over and over, as Supernatural?

What is the True Teachings of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, in Genesis? A God/Us, in our Human Image, that Supernaturally Created Life on a null and void Earth, and Reproduced the Female from the Male Rib?

No Human, in our Image, can make the Atom and ElectroMagnetic Elements that make Life as we Know it. But, High Tech Humans can Colonize Planets and Reproduce Human Life in the Lab.

No Human Species on Earth, or in the Universe, can Make a Universe of LIFE Elements, or Know the Source of the LIFE Elements. Humans can only use Elements for Good or Evil.

For the past 100 years, Natural Body Birth Humans began using High Tech Science to make Automobiles, Indoor Plumbing, Radios, Telephones, TVs, and Airplanes, for the Good of Society.

But Humans also made big bombs dropped from airplanes in WW2, and Atomic Bombs dropped on Japan, for Evil but called Patriotic.

Scientists also worked on High Tech Space Technology, and hoped in time to Colonize another planet. Many books were written comparing our new High Tech, to the Chariots of the Gods. A NASA Scientist wrote a book about Ezekiel's Wheel, as High Tech.

Humans began working with Genetics, and started making a Human Fetus in the Lab, and putting it into the Female Womb to finish developing. They also worked on Cloning animals, like Dolly the Sheep, etc.

The 'Supernatural True Teachings' of God, of 100 years ago, can now be Translated as High Tech Science Born Human Peace Caretakers, and Natural Born High Tech Human Killers.

Dan Beyer

God commands us to love the sinner but NOT the sin. God says that ALL sex outside of marriage is sin. God created marriage between one man and one woman.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Timothy Wengert did a good job of reconciling the anti-gay portions of the Bible with equality for gay people. Point 6 in particular was good, but logically point 6 is an admission that certain parts of "the word of God" are time and culture-bound, and not eternal laws that are applicable today. On the one hand, it's good that some Christians admit that. It means their views and church policies stemming from those views will be more humane and therefore moral. I applaud that.

On the other hand, why would an all knowing, all powerful being knowingly inspire a document (worse yet, a set of documents some of which would later be rejected as apocrypha) that was not applicable to all times and all cultures and that would inevitably be misinterpreted and misused? Why not make everything crystal clear in the first place?

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Will wrote:

>The Seven Sacrements of Secularism.

>1. Elimination of religion from public square.

No, just from government. What business is it of the government what my religion is or what I choose to teach my children about religion?

>2. Abortion

I'm answering this separately because I need more space.

>3. Genetic Counseling (Eugenics)

Genetic counseling and eugenics are NOT the same thing. Genetic counseling merely gives you information. What you do with it is up to you. Maybe you think that if you had a genetic disease you wouldn't want to know. But some people would want that information so who are you to keep it from them?

I realize that some people use genetic information to decide whether to have an abortion, but that's not the only use of this information. If I was pregnant and told if I carried to term my baby might have disease x, maybe there are things I could do to PREPARE FOR CARING for such an infant before it's born. Maybe it would give me time to hire a nurse or read lots of information on this disease and educate myself so I know what I'm doing.

>4. Euthanasia.

In an ideal world, end of life care would be so perfect that no one would want voluntary euthanasia. But we don't live in that world yet, so dying can be a very long and painful process. Yes I do want the right to end my own suffering
if I get a terminal illness but even more than that I want the right to have as much pain meds as I need without some idiot telling me I have to suffer because I might get an "addiction".

>6. Gay Marriage.

Equal marriage rights, yes!

>7. Final Replacement of marriage by Civil Unions;

No you have that in reverse. Civil unions should become marriages, and "marriage" is not exclusively religious. My marriage is no less a marriage just because it was not performed by Christian clergy.(It was by a Humanist celebrant.)

>with the goal being more power to the STATE by elimination of Extended Families and Nuclear Families that people could rely on as alternative to state.

No atheist I know has ever said families should be eliminated. Most of us HAVE families, silly!

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Will,

on abortion:

The ideal world would be one in which abortion wasn't necessary because everyone uses effective forms of birth control (which religious conservatives often oppose) and occasional birth control failures become surprises instead of accidents because we have an effective economic safety net (which conservatives often oppose), and strong child support collection laws (which anti-feminists often oppose), and because we've eliminated incest and rape (which conservatives don't seem interested in doing.) Instead of making abortion unnessary, religious conservatives are more interested in punishing safe and legal abortions which we already know creates a black market of underground back alley abortions that STILL RESULT IN ABORTION but also kill women. Because you are so stuck on the one thing that is guaranteed to FAIL in reducing abortions you won't even consider things that ACTUALLY WOULD WORK!
===
Dan, Does God talk to you often? There's medication for that, you know.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Bill wrote:
>Here's another example of why many people, especially in the West, think Islam is always and everywhere a bad influence when it comes to personal freedom. It's hard to understand why the religious hardliners in places such as Afghanistan don't understand that besides twisting the true teachings of Islam they are doing their religion considerable harm in the eyes of the world by punishing people simply for raising legitimate questions.

No kidding! They do ridiculous things like this and then wonder why people ridicule Islam. Like I always say, if you don't want to be ridiculed, stop being so ridiculous!

Red Biddy

In regard to recent discussion, here, on cherry picking bible passages out of context, you gotta love Martin Luther's observation on "quote mining" that:
"it is not enough simply to look and see if this is God's word, whether God has spoken it; rather we must look to see TO WHOM it was spokem, whether it fits us. That makes all the difference between night and day....the word in Scripture is of two kinds; the first does not pertain or apply to me, the other kind does.....the false prophets pitch in and say, Dear people, this is the word of God." This is true, we cannot deny it. But we are not "the people."
Bill said that his Presbyterian denomination had yet to catch up with the Lutherans on the matter of gays and lesbians serving in leadershp positions.
Bishop Spong, in his book, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, makes a terrific case for the possibility that St. Paul may have been homosexual, ergo the whole Xian faith may very well have been founded by a gay man ! Bill's Presbyterians would do well to read Spong's arguments - they would probably ruffle more than a few feathers but like the Timothy Wengert essay, God's love as described in the New Testament should top the pronouncemnts of Leviticus.
From the atheist perspective, that of looking at religion from the outside, I would have thought it obvious that if God created everything and "saw that it was good" that would include LGTB human beings !

DW

If God actually wants us to embrace homosexuality as a gift from Him to all mankind, why did he destroy Sodom because its residents were homosexual?

If God actually wants us to embrace homosexuality as a gift from Hil to all mankind, why did He specically define marriage as between a man and a woman?

If homosexaulity is the equal of heterosexuality in God's eyes, why is not sex before marriage between committed teenagers and adults given the same status by Him and us? Oh, wait a minute, today's culture does not condemn sex before marriage, either. Perhaps Timothy Wengert can write his next apology on that subject. It would be easy for him to do. Just substitute the word lovers in place of the word homosexuals. I doubt this would offend the ELCA, either.

Dolores Lear

Dan:
" God created marriage between one man and one woman."

God/Us did Clone the Female from the Male Rib, in their Human Image, but the Equal Clones were not to take over God/Us' job, and Reproduce Unequal Children by Body Birth.

God/Us did not Reproduce Human Body Birth Children on Earth. Today we Know Cloning is High Tech Reproduction.

When the Clone Humans took over the Reproduction of Children, then marriage began between the Mother and Father of the Child, and Commandments for Family Living were started.

The Sex Act was Sin, In or Out of Marriage. Equal Male and Female Human Clones, who do not Marry or Reproduce, were put in Charge of Taking Care of all the Life on Earth, not Reproducing it. That was God's Work.

Male Celibacy down through time was practiced by Monks. Jesus also practiced Male Celibacy, and to be like Jesus, was the Way to the Kingdom of God.

Will it ever be possible to Know why Humans in God's Image, began Reproducing Children, that lead to Division, Disease and Death, to them, their Children, and all Life on Earth?

The Death of our Earth Home and Eco System, is possible Today, with a Prophesied Religious Planetary Judgment Day Fire.

Today Humans have Polluted their Home Planet with All types of Toxic Waste, and Nuclear Waste and Bombs, on land and sea, that can burn. Earth will be a Burning in Hell Planet. Can Earthbound Humans escape this Hell?

Dan Beyer

God talks to all who listen. It's called the Holy Bible.

Dan Beyer

Look Dolores Lear, I too loved the original Battlestar Galactica when I was younger, but it is no substitute for God and his reality.

And the reason we have division, disease, and death is because we refused to follow our loving Father's rules.

RichB

I read through the "Reflections" by Wengert. I have a problem with one of the suppositions by Luther on which Wengert depends:

"It is not enough simply to look and see whether this is God’s word, whether God has spoken it; rather we must look and see to whom it has been spoken, whether it fits us."

This last part, "whether it fits us," is a very difficult one to decide. First, there are no criteria for this "fit"; they seem ad hoc. Second, who does "us" consist of? There are plenty of people who would say that the ruling made by the majority does not fit them.

Another part that is not addressed in the article is how to love *all* others, namely, how about those with whom we disagree? The Lutherans took their vote; was that the best way to love all the participants at the convention? Do you love homosexuals at the expense of the social conservatives? How do you love everyone as we are commanded? Do you leave them in schism?

Finally--and maybe this is a bit flippant--but what do they mean by "long-term, monogamous"? Will they no longer be able to serve if they divorce? I know that's not the case for heterosexuals. Is this an extra criterion for homosexuals, or is it only on a case-by-case basis?

I have still not decided about the wisdom of making a ruling either way, as I see that a lot of important questions have not been addressed.

DW

Uh...RB...God declared everything He created good before sin entered the world. God did create Adam and Eve. As far as I know, neither one of them was L,G,B, or T.

adam harrison

Genetic counseling's goal is eugnenics.

http://www.geneticsandsociety.org/article.php?id=160

adam harrison

Dan Beyer! I remember you from postings at Kansas Citizens for "Science". You will find that this blog is largely swamped with atheist trolls, who apparently have leave to say ANYTHING they want about believers.

You will also find a number of their collaborators, who fall over all over themselves to kiss the atheists a**** but never miss a chance to attack fellow Christians.

Good luck, sport!

Dolores Lear

Dan:
"Look Dolores Lear, I too loved the original Battlestar Galactica when I was younger, but it is no substitute for God and his reality. And the reason we have division, disease, and death is because we refused to follow our loving Father's rules."

What Rules Dan? Do we Know what Rules were given to the Adam and Eve Clones, before they started Reproducing Children?

The Ten Commandments are for Misbred Humans Reproduced by Body Birth, not for High Tech Cloning Purebred Birth like Adam and Eve were made.

The female made from the male rib, is not supernatural wooo wooo, but reality today with our High Tech Science.

Just because Body Birth Humans did not pass down High Tech Cloning, and called it supernatural Birth, at least we still have the writings about all the supernatural actions of the Peace Gods and Killer Gods.

It is up to High Tech Humans today, to Translate all Scripture and Myth, before our Earth Home ends up as an Everburning Nuclear Waste Hell.

Our Nuclear Waste is not only stacked up in Utah, it is buried in the sea, and is on land all over the Planet.

adam harrison

Who cares what the Lutherans think? They should be following Christ, not Luther.

Red Biddy

DW's post of 11.28 made Martin Luther's point of "whether it fits us", quite beautifully !! Sometimes the choice of a Bible story (to support a particular point of view) says a lot more about the person doing the choosing than the actual quote itself !
The people or persons writing the Sodom story (and it is only a story for God's sake !) obviously disapproved of acts of sodomy but thought it quite O.K. for a woman to be raped to death. I can't believe that DW would believe that God would embrace that idea either - maybe he would, as the rest of the story is also writ in the Bible, therefore must express God's inerrant point of view.

Red Biddy

continued....
......as for God specifically defining marriage as between ONE man and ONE woman where in Scripture does it actually say this ? Marriage as demonstrated by many of the characters in the Old Testament, seemed to be that between ONE man and as many women as he could collect for his household !
In Islam the amount of wives allowed to ONE man is contingent on how many he can financially afford to support.
RichB raises an interesting point in regard to divorce for either homo or hetero individuals. Used to be that if a couple had divorced neither could ever be married again in church - had to be a civil ceremony only. I think many of the different sects have eased up on that particular rule nowadays.
I've always maintained that marriage is about shared property only - the love side doesn't need divine sanction - but the civil contract certainly does particularly where children are involved.

Susan

Bill, I just finished reading your speech. I especially identified with what you said here --

"People with my view of the Bible believe that the word of God is revealed to us only as we interact with scripture through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. We do not believe in the Bible. We believe in the God of grace attested in the Bible."

Lynne, I believe that the document of the Bible started out as various accounts and letters, within which people shared about their experiences of communion with God (or recounted others' experiences that were told to them). I believe the Bible holds many messages from God -- but discovering their meanings is more like treasure hunting than like being spoon-fed (though many of the gems are right at the surface and it's not like you always have to dig for hours, but sometimes you do).

I believe God has been allowing humanity to grow up and deepen our understandings of the truth. His Spirit is available, like a flashlight, to illuminate aspects of the truth that aren't readily obvious. But for some reason there is great value in us making this journey, and not being spoon-fed.

I get some sense of the value when I watch videos on evolution, especially the ones detailing how scientists disprove one hypothesis and move on to another (i.e. by learning that our fish ancestors were benefitted by limbs not by being able to walk, but by being able to navigate their way through swamp-like undergrowth).

There's an excitement we'd miss if we already knew it all. And look how much scientists have grown in realizing their need to listen to one another, and to be ruthless in testing their own theories.

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

KANSAS FREETHOUGHT SOCIETY MEETUP - TONIGHT TUESDAY 6 P.M.

Scooters Coffee House - SW Corner of College and Antioch, in Overland Park, KS

Chats abound - from politics and health care to abiogenesis and emergence and "Genesis" plus post modern Christianity, psychology, philosophy, conspiracy theories, etc.

Last month 20 some people showed up, month before 15-20 people.

For more info visit http://www.meetup.com/Kansas-Freethought-Society

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