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

DW, I suggest that for starters you go back and re-read the account of the destruction of Sodom, and also locate and study the other references to Sodom throughout the Bible, while asking the Holy Spirit to illumintate the meaning and show you the big picture.

When I really studied it for myself, I realized that the sin of Sodom was the Sodomites' treatment of the vulnerable within their midst. Newcomers and strangers were ganged up on and abused -- not given protection and hospitality.

As to the Bible defining marriage as being between a man and a woman: Most of the world has always been heterosexual -- and especially in the formation of the Jewish nation, any sexual contact that couldn't result in pregnancy was viewed as a waste of semen. Historically, marriage has been much more about procreation and raising families, than it has been about romantic love and finding your soul-mate.

As to your question about sex between unmarried teens and adults -- I believe God intended for us to share sexual intimacy with one person, and not to be promiscuous. I guess you are saying that in areas where same sex couples can't legally marry, they are fornicating if they live together as spouses. I'm not so strict when it comes to people who are covenentally-committed to one another -- but forbidden by the law to marry.

For instance, I have a friend who's been in a monogomous relationship for many years with a Schitzophrenic man who is a ward of the state. His legal, state-appointed guardian won't allow him to marry. So they've had a ceremony but don't have the legal status of husband and wife. I see their relationship as a marriage, not as fornication. I see covenentally-committed gay and lesbian relationships in the same way.

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Susan,

Dug up another good video "How life began" from the History Channel last year. Well worth the time - talks about abiogenesis of life - from chemicals through laws of physics and chemistry and "emergence" (all natural phenomena) to simple cells and multi cell organisms. There are multiple competing scientific theories (facts and explanations - not hypothesis) that all seem to point to the same conclusion - precursors of life (chemical organic molecules, compounds and polymers) are easily formed through multiple ways. The most recent cutting edge research has already substituted DNA of one bacterium with DNA of anther effectively creating "artificial" life - do research on Venter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?video_ids=iR6vCBal3Jc,ZNN5BK8O-VM,Gd3EbwI9_YI,PPrCUO9QhRM,CXDe0865StY,G2pss--MbE0,q8dGGrBbTEo,wh58i39GHxA,f6Iz1uAhUcQ,KKJKbZgMLF0,0yhDalwpWSA&type=3&more_url=

Susan

In my previous posts, I neglected to express how very strongly I recommend that everyone email Bill, and ask him to send them his speech on homosexuality.

This speech really makes clear that for those of us who find, as Bill puts it in today's post, "that nothing in the Bible should be used as a weapon against homosexuality" -- it is not a case of us just skimming over Scripture and twisting it to fit some pre-determined agenda.

The more I study the Bible in its historical and cultural context, the more clear it seems to me that when people read the Bible as clearly-condemning homosexuality (whether these people are Atheists or literalist Christians), they are not taking time to really "study to show themselves approved" -- they are just taking every (translated) word completely at face-value, and acting like our current frame-of-reference was shared by people living in Biblical times.

It reminds me of a speaker at a youth camp who thought "land flowing with milk and honey" would make no sense to today's young people, so he redefined it as "land flowing with pizza and Pepsi" -- almost like he thought the two cultures are really identical, once you realize that milk and honey were to ancient people what pizza and Pepsi are to young people today.

I don't know how to express what I mean -- but translating "milk and honey" as "pizza and Pepsi" really seems to be assuming that two very different cultures have the same "equivalences." When really one culture can have concepts that don't even exist in another culture -- i.e. some cultures don't have our concept of sin and need for punishment.

Dolores Lear

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

Jesus' Movement was a group of Celibate Males, and all Shared the Resources Equally. So who is following Christ today? Catholics, Protestants, 'Christ'ians, or Monks and Nuns?

Jesus was not a Man-made God until 300. So what does it mean to follow Christ today? Believe he is God, but Live in Sin, or Live the Lifestyle Jesus Lived?

Do you have a Lifestyle like Jesus, or what does it mean to Follow Jesus?

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Sodom's sins - contradictory and inconsistent in the Bible.

Seeking sex with angels, fornication, and going after "strange flesh"

Genesis 19:4-5
The men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

Jude 7
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Pride, wealth, lazyness, and ignoring the needs of the poor

Ezekiel 16:49
This was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness ... neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

Adultery, lies, and general immorality

Jeremiah 23:14
I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? The angels or God? Or was it god through angels?

Genesis 19:13
For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

Genesis 19:24
The LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven.

adam harrison

Sam Harris, Penn Jillette, and other commedians:

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2009/09/little-less-than-that-actually.html

adam harrison

According to the meetup link KCF provided above, THREE people showed up last time, not TWENTY.

Somebody's fibbing!

memberofKCFreeThinkers.org

Adam said, “According to the meetup link KCF provided above, THREE people showed up last time, not TWENTY.
Somebody's fibbing!”.

There are always more that show up than reply, adam. For the past few months,15 to 21 have been showing at a lot of our meetups. Come and see for yourself instead of fabricating… Chicken?

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

memberofKCFreeThinkers.org

Will G. would like people to have no choices. Just obey god’s word in a fairy tale book. If our fore fathers wanted us to follow the fiction book, the bible, we wouldn’t have a secular constitution that makes no mention of Jesus or Christianity.

In fact the only mention of Christianity is in the Treaty of Tripoli where it says, we are not a X nation.

Article 11 of the first treaty has been interpreted as an official denial of a Christian basis for the U.S. government.
Treaty of Tripoli
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli

Dan Beyer said, “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.”

Dan, where is your god? Nowhere. And you can’t prove it. Yet you want to follow words from a bronze-age book and pass judgment on others because of it. This is pure bigotry from people like you so you can justify your delusion.

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

At very least, we have a Mommy and Daddy. I love it. Yeah, silly!

DW said, “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?”

God didn’t destroy Sodom. People did. Amazing how god always has people to carry out his dirty work. Like Red said, (and it is only a story for God's sake !) Continued

memberofKCFreeThinkers.org

Continued (This is curious: Red also said, “-obviously disapproved of acts of sodomy but thought it quite O.K. for a woman to be raped to death.” I think it is amazing how you people cherry pick.)

The historical evidence of Sodom is still argued among archaeologists and there are discrepancies over the name Sodom.

Iggy, it is peculiar why god always sends a messenger(s) to do his work. Why can’t he do it himself. Just like he has PEOPLE to do his raping and killing. Although god did rape jesus’s mother. Wait a minute, jesus is god. God raped Mary and had himself?

Dan Beyer goes on, “God talks to all who listen. It's called the Holy Bible.”

I hear just like everybody else – with my ears, not my heart. I have opened my bible many times and have never heard a word. You know why? Because it is words written by people. You can’t hear written words, its not natural. Oh, maybe you meant that as a supernatural metaphor. But a metaphor to explain fantasy? – I don’t get it.

Dan Beyer continues on, “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.”

I find it entertaining Xs think we have this almighty PURPOSE. We have many purposes like getting up in the morning, working, loving our family, enjoying life’s pleasures, etc. But ‘one’ over all purpose? I don’t see it.

Too many people think the world exists because we are here. It’s the opposite. It would be a better place without us. Not that I don’t like being here, I do, but we need to get over ourselves. We AIN’T all that.

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

Susan

I honestly think that religious opposition to homosexuality is probably going to go the way of religious opposition to women's equality, at least here in the free world.

There will always be some fringe groups, for instance, that teach a literal view of Paul's assertion that women shouldn't teach or exercise authority over men in the churches, because of woman being last in Creation, and being the one who got deceived into sin. I myself heard teaching along the lines that the Genesis account proves we women aren't constitutionally-equipped to discern the truth and make sound leadership decisions, so therefore we shouldn't be church leaders.

This teaching will probably continue to go on in certain churches -- but I've noticed that conservative Christians who uphold these beliefs, aren't generally open about it in secular or ecumenical settings; they're aware that many other Christians don't hold to such a literal interpretation of women's roles. So they save their message for the people who are really willing to take the time to consider it in depth.

I.e., some conservative Christians here initially told me that I wasn't understanding Paul's statements about women within the historical context of the persecution and Roman law -- but when I brought in additional verses showing that Paul made his reasoning abundantly clear, these guys dropped the discussion like a hot potato. They knew it wouldn't do to say they agreed with Paul's assmessment that women are too easily deceived to be good church leaders.

And with homosexuality, I'm seeing a similar radical transformation of public opinion, so I think pretty soon we'll see more and more conservatives just declining to comment on gay issues, except when in the company of others like them.

Dan Beyer

Red Biddy there is a reason for that. It showed how they messed up by NOT following our Creator's admonishment to have only one wife!

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Dan Beyer wrote>>>>>>.It showed how they messed up by NOT following our Creator's admonishment to have only one wife!

Ouch, Dan... Your god must be turning over in his grave... I cannot believe it is so easy to smack you "crazies" in the face with your own Bible! I propose we have a "Bible in the face Smack Down" award given weekly to some of our blog Christians. All I can say to you - are you playing with a full deck? - yes, or no - I award you the "Smack Down" Award this week - and it's only Tuesday.

Genesis 4:19
And Lamech took unto him two wives.

Genesis 16:1-4
Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai ... gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived.

Genesis 26:34
Esau ... took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.

Genesis 31:17
Then Jacob rose up, and set ... his wives upon camels.

Exodus 21:10
If he take him another wife....

Deuteronomy 21:15
If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated....

Judges 8:30
And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.

1 Samuel 1:1-2
Elkanah ... had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah.

2 Samuel 12:7-8
Thus saith the LORD God of Israel ... I gave thee ... thy master's wives....

1 Kings 11:2-3
Solomon ... had seven hundred wives ...

1 Chronicles 4:5
And Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah.

2 Chronicles 11:21
Rehoboam ... took eighteen wives

2 Chronicles 13:21
But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives....

2 Chronicles 24:3
Jehoiada took for him two wives....

Mt.25:1
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

Will Graham

Iggy's 6:12 pm post demonstrates three things.

1. A remarkable ability to quotemine.

2. An ignorance of scripture...perhaps willful or simply perhaps a product of his early eduction in an officially atheistic state.

3. A lack of integrity, in pretendint that he is making an argument.

The biblical standard for marriage, from the very first book on, was explained by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-8. Susan, for example, knows about this but ignores it when she makes her arguments, which is a reflection on her own integirty.

In making the standard clear, Jesus demonstrated that the fact that people did not follow the standard is not the same as saying there was no standard.

To conflate the two...the standard, and the dismissing of the standard...is Willfully Dishonest.

By the way, Cole Morgan, you say that 15 or ore people showed up at your meeting last month.

And yet, according to your report on attendance...ATTENDANCE, as in the post tense...says differently.

http://www.meetup.com/Kansas-Freethought-Society/calendar/10928547/

So, were you lying then or are you lying now?

Dave Miller

Hi, Bill. Thanks for pointing us to Wengert’s commentary. He was asked to speak so many times during the Assembly that he commented that it might just turn him into an extravert. (He regards himself as a lifelong introvert.) Many times, Wengert explained that the Lutheran (and to be sure, the CHRISTIAN...but at least the Lutheran) position is to recognize the bound conscience of the “other.”

This, frankly, helped me recognize that those who were _opposed_ to the adoption of principles which recognize the freedom and responsibility of LGBTs were acting out of a conscience bound by their understanding of scripture, and could not simply be dismissed as intolerant bigots. At the same time, it asked those of that mindset to understand and accept that I, too, am acting out of a conscience bound by the scriptural obligation to love neighbor as self, blended with a different understanding of those same “clobber verses” of scripture.

Beneath all that is the Lutheran (dare I say CHRISTIAN?) understanding that the key doctrine of the Christian faith, on which the Church stands or falls, is the justification of sinners by grace through faith, which has been accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything hinges on this...and everything else is peripheral. To hinge justification or salvation on something else—or anything in addition to this—is to preach “another gospel,” as Paul said. To locate the "shibboleth" on a belief about the rightness or wrongness of LGBT behavior is to fall short of the mark––to miss the point.

RichB, you said, “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?” Of course we love social conservatives! I certainly hope we do not “leave them in schism.”

Prior to the assembly I received letters from members of the ELCA who urged me to vote in a way which did not lead to schism. I responded to those letters by letting the writers know that whether the Assembly’s vote led to schism would likely be more up to them than up to me. Can we find our unity in Christ? Do we agree on the central doctrine of the Gospel? I hope so!

a.theist

Will,

Followed the link and that is a bit scary. It's on their website as 3 and iggy claims 20.

What gives?

Dan Beyer

Where does it say God condones having more than one wife???

Every time these men took more than one wife trouble ensued. As I said before these examples showed why NOT to have more than one wife AND to follow our loving Father's rules!

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