1071

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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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179 Responses to 1071

  1. I can’t wait for the reaction. Alas, as the world turns in the Church of England, my wait may be long.

  2. soniamain says:

    i love that:), thank you I needed a laugh this morning- that will make a good t shirt!

  3. Lars says:

    well… you really imagine that’s going to be a surprise for that lot of covertly gay clerics?

  4. Ogg says:

    Romans chapter1 : 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.

    *** Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. ***

    27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

  5. jonbirch says:

    hi ogg… what’s your point?

    grandmere mimi… the c of e is indeed more of a tortoise than a sports car.

    sonia… i’ll do that.

    lars… are you suggesting i’ve drawn homosexual bishops? how dare you! ;-)

  6. markk says:

    those bishops look like transvesmentites to me : ) and ogg’s reading from romans asks me the question of how any of us can be holy / worship god, whoever we are.

  7. Pat says:

    jon – sadly they probably already assume that she is. After all what ‘normal’ (or..should that be ‘natural’ based on Ogg’s chosen passage?) woman would want to challenge the divinely given churchly (or other) authority of men? :-((

  8. andylowe01 says:

    Hi Jon,

    Ogg is making the point that the scriptures seem to suggest that pursuing an active homosexual lifestyle is an act of disobedience against God.

    Are you going to respond to that point?

    Andy

  9. jonbirch says:

    ogg’s passage seems to me to be about worshipping idols and behaving very badly indeed and nothing to do with sexual orientation at all, andy. that’s why i asked what ogg’s point was. all to easy to chuck scripture around like somehow it speaks for itself, when understanding scripture in the way it’s meant can take loads of hard work and even then the scholars disagree.

  10. Ogg says:

    Hi Jon,

    My point? Just that I honestly have no problem with people being secular Gays or being Gay and Christian if they are not practising there sexual preference physically. Wouldn’t lurk on this site sticking my oar in now and again if I did. But I don’t believe Paul leaves the option open for you to be both a practising Gay and a Christian. Indeed he seems to say they desrve death. Not that I personally would agree with that.
    From there you get into the old chestnut about whether Paul or Christ is the author of modern Christianity etc although Paul himself appeared to have no confusion over the matter.
    The same argument could be made of a heterosexual Christian who tries to defend persistent adultery for example – it’s not really consistent with calling yourself Christian from scripture in my opiniion. Although both could be forgiven if your prepared to call their actions ‘sin’ I guess. Just don’t think you can have it both ways if you will pardon the unintentional pun.
    For the record I have no problem personally with female priests/bishops as I feel Christ promoted women as much as possible given the traditions of the times. I don’t see any indication of him doing the same for Gays recorded in scripture (which he endorsed) however. In terms of natural justice i’d personally be on the side of the Gays as I don’t always agree with God though! But then I don’t believe the God of scriputure is a Democratic God in any terms of majority rule etc. God is God regardless of if I agree with him or not. I see him as more of a benign dictatorship luckily for me.
    Well that should get the discussion going I suspect – roast me over the fires as much as you like but I’ve yet to hear a counter argument I found persuasive.

  11. jonbirch says:

    shameful lusts and abusing each others bodies is what ogg’s passage is about. what on earth does that have to do with female bishops, or gay bishops of any gender?.. which is the subject of the cartoon. therefore a note with the passage so i could understand how the passage was being used would have made things clear. of course i thought i knew what ogg was driving at, but my hope was that ogg would say what he thought.

    btw… sorry ogg for having conversation about you and not to you. i may have misunderstood your point completely.

  12. jonbirch says:

    hey ogg… sorry mate, we cross posted. i have to go out for a bit, but when i come in i’ll read your thoughts properly and respond. cheers, bro.

  13. andylowe01 says:

    ogg’s passage seems to me to be about worshipping idols and behaving very badly indeed and nothing to do with sexual orientation at all

    Yes, the passage talks about idolatry, and the sinful behaviour that came about as a direct result. The first act that appears in the list seems to be referring to homosexual relationships, which is not the same as talking about sexual orientation – point taken – but can they be separated?.

  14. andylowe01 says:

    I clearly have trouble using html tags

  15. I might be an idiot but Paul appears to be talking about an event or group of people who have done something bad in response to which god made them mad (or something) – they commit “unnatural” sexual acts and then wander around dragging their knuckles like trolls. Straight people having gay sex would be as unnatural as gay people having straight sex so it really makes no comment on gender orientation or practice. I’ve often been told that this passage describes non-christians although i’ve never met anyone who has ever acted in the way described, so, for me, Paul seems to be talking about a specific event. Otherwise none of it makes much sense to me.

  16. andy – you have turned the whole page italic – stop it! :)

  17. andylowe01 says:

    My bad…

    From the ESV Study Bible commentary:

    “Idolatry is the fundamental sin. images. In addition to the images housed in great temples, Roman families commonly kept representations of individual “house gods” in their homes (examples found at Pompeii are particularly striking). Mediterranean and Near Eastern pagan religion worshiped idols in the form of beasts, or in the likeness of mixed beast/human deities such as the ancient gods of Egypt. Modern “idols” don’t look like ancient ones; images served today are often mental rather than metal. But people still devote their lives to, and trust in, many things other than God.”

    “In every instance the giving up to sin is a result of idolatry, the refusal to make God the center and circumference of all existence, so that in practice the creature is exalted over the Creator. Hence, all individual sins are a consequence of the failure to prize and praise God as the giver of every good thing.”

    “Paul follows the OT and Jewish tradition in seeing all homosexual relationships as sinful.”

    Don’t know if that helps.

    Andy

  18. Catriona says:

    It’s a great cartoon: it made me chuckle and it made me think… that’s what I like about Jon’s cartoons

    Seems to be generating a predictable response… hope it generates more light than heat as it unfolds.

  19. Andy – thanks for the background, but ultimately that doesn’t really do it for me. What you end up saying (if i understand you correctly) is that all people who reject God (ie non-christians) succumb to the same depraved behaviour. You may come from a rough part of town but none of my non-christian friends are “filled with every kind of wickedness” – it’s just not a truthful statement.

    Paul may belief all sorts of things but he doesn’t really express an anti-orientation stance here – but then it’s along time until Freud really pins down the idea of sexual orientation :)

  20. jonbirch says:

    i agree with robin vincent… completely.

    andi lowe… whatever paul believes, the passage certainly talks about people using one another for sex as opposed to what we would think of as ‘relationships’… in fact, partly it’s the lack of relationship which is so hideous here… people acting out of desire to get their end away with anything that has legs. it’s really unpleasant.

    ogg… no roasting over the coals necessary. :-) the thing is, in your first para you talk of being gay as a preference. i have met gay people who would prefer not to be, as it would make their life easier, but it is their orientation. it is not a preference. this passage is about godless, lovelessness, and if there is homophobia written in to what paul has to say (that’s not how i read it) then i’ll forgive him for being an ancient and having all the patriarchal, sexist prejudices of most other men of that culture at that time. fortunately we know a lot more about what drives orientation than we used to, prejudice can no longer be easily excused.
    four sexual partners on the go anyone? that’s jacob…. how many concubines is okay with god?.. etc… there is no excuse for us to behave in the same way as some of these people in these ancient texts, whether they are god’s people or not. we no longer accept it as okay when leaders in the west or east say we’re going to war with god on our side, or waging war in the name of god.

    lastly, i endorse paul’s decision to tell off a bunch of people who are acting like evil little shits wholeheartedly… not that he needs my endorsement. :-)

  21. jonbirch says:

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!! why’s everything gone italic?

    thank you catriona. :-)

  22. andylowe01 says:

    Hi Robin,

    I agree, Paul never makes any clear statement on the issue of sexual orientation.

    I don’t think that all people who reject God succumb to the same depraved behaviour, but I do think that all people who reject God succumb to a measure of depravity. I don’t think the list of sinful behaviour in Romans 1 is attributed to every individual sinner, but rather to a particular (Roman?) society or culture.

  23. jonbirch says:

    still italic, then. :-)

  24. I hope it’s not contagious.

  25. andylowe01 says:

    It could we worse.

    COULD BE STUCK ON CAPS LOCK.

  26. James says:

    Brilliant!

    I am also far from sure that we can take the passage to condem faithful same sex relationships.

  27. jonbirch says:

    grandmere mimi… it IS!!!

  28. jonbirch says:

    james… i’m pretty sure we can’t. :-)

  29. Geordie Gilly says:

    Are we still in italics? Maybe we need a font doctor!

  30. Geordie Gilly says:

    “Paul follows the OT and Jewish tradition in seeing all homosexual relationships as sinful.”
    He also seems to find slavery acceptable

  31. dgsinclair says:

    I put in a couple close tags on this line, we’ll see if that heals the italics.

    >> GEORDIE: “Paul follows the OT and Jewish tradition in seeing all homosexual relationships as sinful.” He also seems to find slavery acceptable.

    This snipe seems to say that because Paul supposedly accepts slavery (though he paradoxically condemns kidnapping, so he is probably NOT talking about chattel slavery, but indentured servitude, a sometimes fair way of paying a debt), so his condemnation of homosexuality is probably not to be trusted either. But this avoids the question of whether or not the Bible, or just the NT, condemns homosexuality, regardless of whether you agree with it’s verdict for other reasons.

    While I do admit to a conservative bias, I think that the interpretation of Romans as a blanket condemnation of homosexuality (not just idolatry, temple prostitution, or male rape) is the best and most intellectually defensible way to interpret the passage. You can read a few paragraphs from what I consider to be the definitive book on this from an evangelical perspective, written by James White – see my post Is Homosexuality Compatible with Authentic Christianity?

    Bottom line? This passage clearly condemns homosexual behavior itself, in all forms.

    Not only do I think that this and at least one other NT passage condemn homosexuality clearly, it is clear from the OT moral law (as opposed to ceremonial and dietary laws), homosexuality was condemned along with other forms of sexual immorality, including promiscuity, adultery, and bestiality (the latter of which Jesus never mentioned in the NT, not because it was no longer sinful, but, like homosexuality, so far beyond the pale that it need not be mentioned specifically).

    Jesus affirmed the OT moral law (though not the punishments of that law given to the State of Israel), so I see no reason to think that suddenly homosexuality, adultery, promiscuity, or bestiality are somehow OK in the NT.

    >> PAT: sadly they probably already assume that she is. After all what ‘normal’ (or..should that be ‘natural’ based on Ogg’s chosen passage?) woman would want to challenge the divinely given churchly (or other) authority of men?

    Regarding this comment that us conservatives assume that any female bishop is probably gay is right on – we do believe that anyone who so flagrantly flouts their disdain for the created order of God (male headship) in such a way is probably also rebelling against their gender and sexual biological norms in general. I think that’s not an unreasonable premise, even if not always correct. It might not be often correct, though, hard to know. Of the female bishops out there, how many ARE gay?

    A good book on the struggle of women in the Evangelical church is Ruth Tucker’s Daughters of the Church: Women and ministry from New Testament times to the present

  32. jonbirch says:

    o dear dgs… we disagree again… although we both knew that would be the case.
    “the latter of which Jesus never mentioned in the NT, not because it was no longer sinful, but, like homosexuality, so far beyond the pale that it need not be mentioned specifically”… you made that bit up, filling in the holes in a way that adds to your argument… but we can all fill in the holes any way we like (no sex joke intended).
    “we do believe that anyone who so flagrantly flouts their disdain for the created order of God (male headship) in such a way is probably also rebelling against their gender and sexual biological norms in general.” not only is this a completely different idea of headship than i understand (my understanding is one of sacrifice not hierarchy), but it is also phenomenally pompous.
    actually, if it weren’t so damaging, i’d find it funny beyond belief that men should have such a high opinion of themselves. makes me ashamed to be a man in fact.
    i wonder, dgs… what do we have in common?
    it seems to me, that conservative evangelicalism was invented so that men could feel secure in their roles and women in theirs without the need for question or human struggle. your view of male female (what i would regard as stereotypes) reminds me very much of the stepford wives. a ‘nice’ world to look at perhaps (if a bit twee or kitsch), but lacking reality and dehumanising women and as a result, men.

  33. jonbirch says:

    the unsettling thing for me with everything being in italics is that it means all my writing leans to the ‘right’. very distressing. :-)

  34. dgs, I noted your definitive book on same-sex relationships. May I introduce you to mine? “Reasonable and Holy” by Tobias Haller. Haller makes a reasonable case from the Scriptures that faithful, same-sex relationships can be holy. You may not agree with Haller’s conclusions, but his book is a worthy addition to the literature which gives the view from the other side

  35. Ogg says:

    Just a few quick thoughts on all your coments before I get some sleep :
    Jon – I could just easily said ‘orientation’ for ‘preference’ I think – not that I disagree with the general thrust of your sub point.
    Andylowe – There are many forms of idolatry besides graven images and while accept what you say about material idols I’ve also heard this passage preached in terms of sexual idolatry, but if Paul also had that in mind here in this passage is a individual call.
    DSG : I agree broadly speaking with the first part of your comments but not so much the last I think. I did like your points about slavery and indentured servitude however. I do think it’s interesting that Jesus said in Matt 5:18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” given OT pronouncements on Gay physical activity. Remember however he followed this up by not condemning the woman caught in adultery later (what about the man though?) – not that that is Gay as such – but adultery is condemned as well in the OT.
    Jon again: I’m not sure the bible says God actually approved of Jacobs concubines but I suspect the marriage vow & slavery could be invoked here as a type of defense as it was not hidden away – not that I’ve thought about it partiicularly deeply. As usual I have no argument with the general direction of your sub point though. But even if your right is that not just coming down to God being able to dictate again – might not sit well with our idea of natural justice once again – but then our idea of justice might not ultimately be right however much it seems so to us. Proverbs 14:12 comes to mind (There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.).

  36. dgsinclair says:

    >> JON: o dear

    Indeed! My response to your cartoon as well :D

    >> JON: you made that bit up, filling in the holes in a way that adds to your argument

    Well, the sometimes liberal defense of homosexuality typically includes the phrase “Jesus never condemned it,” so I was heading off that ‘argument from absence’ with the idea that Jesus never mentioned bestiality or incest (as far as we know), so this argument fails pretty bad unless you want to claim that he ok’d these other activities.

    But you are right, I am assuming a possible answer to why Jesus is not recorded as mentioning it. But since he affirmed the OT moral law, I see no reason to assume that he would not condemn homosexuality if asked.

    >> JON: not only is this a completely different idea of headship than i understand (my understanding is one of sacrifice not hierarchy)

    You see, this is the typical liberal mistake – taking the ‘gentler’ side of a truth and ignoring the ‘harder’ part (and conservatives do the opposite, mind you).

    Headship is about BOTH servanthood AND authority, not one or the other.

    Headship, though narrowly (and perhaps properly) understood as male authority in marriage, is also extended in some theologies to male leadership in the church. In my reading of the NT, women can take almost any position of leadership in the church, except perhaps as Sr. Pastor, or Bishop.

    I am not opposed to women in five fold ministry, though I personally would not attend a church with a female sr. pastor (or bishop). And the problem with these women bishops is not that they should hold that position (it may be wrong, you decide), but they often ARE set up in churches that are pro gay (in disobedience to scripture). Unfortunately, this issue of female leadership and homosexuality are tied together in both liberal and conservative thinking, and perhaps they should be decoupled.

    >> JON: i’d find it funny beyond belief that men should have such a high opinion of themselves

    The issue is not one of men thinking highly of themselves, but about men and women rebelling against the natural order and commands of God, comitting ‘things which are shameful.’ Sexual sin is very serious, and so is rebelling against God’s appointed authority. This is the issue, not whether men think highly of themselves.

    >> JON: it seems to me, that conservative evangelicalism was invented so that men could feel secure in their roles and women in theirs without the need for question or human struggle. your view of male female (what i would regard as stereotypes) reminds me very much of the stepford wives.

    I think you are reading too much into what I’ve said. I see my views as archetypes, not stereotypes. I am not beholden to strict gender roles, some of which are not biological at all but socially constructed, but I do NOT believe that all such gender understandings are purely socially constructed. Some most certainly are biological.

    Men are not built to be pregnant and nurse. Men are, on average, physically stronger. Our brains are wired differently, making each gender superior in some ways. This is typically called the Complementarian View. Some Christians hold to the Egalitarian View, which, though rightly emphasizing equality before God, fails to recognize such things as male headship in marriage.

    Just because insecure men have abused their God given authority does not mean that they have no such authority. That’s a bit of a genetic fallacy you are making, although i admit that the persistence of unbiblical views of women in leadership probably HAS been supported by the insecurity of men as much as an earnest zeal to live biblically.

  37. dgsinclair says:

    >> MIMI: May I introduce you to mine? “Reasonable and Holy” by Tobias Haller.

    Thank you, I’ve added it to my amazon wishlist. I have read and own a couple liberal theology books on the topic, but not this one. I have also heard that Washed and Waiting was good, but have not gotten to it.

    >> OGG: Remember however he followed this up by not condemning the woman caught in adultery later (what about the man though?) – not that that is Gay as such – but adultery is condemned as well in the OT.

    There are two conservative responses to this – one is that this passage is not in the oldest manuscripts, and so should not be in the Canon.

    The position I hold is this second one – he DID condemn adultery, but did not punish her with the OT punishment – i.e. he said “Go and SIN NO MORE,” admitting that she had sinned. His failure to condemn was not failing to condemn adultery as sin, but failure to administer the OT punishment of stoning.

    I think this directly applies to a biblical approach to hx. We call it SIN, but we don’t push for civil punishments, and certainly not death (though in Romans 1 Paul declares “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”). Such is the severity of sexual sin, be it adultery or homosexuality.

  38. jonbirch says:

    indeed, ogg… the long passage about jacob and his living arrangements is not commented on at all, the story is simply told. i had to read these few chapters for work this week and it made for interesting reading and was very thought provoking. one of the things i thought was ‘thank heavens i don’t live in that culture’… it may well be that the servants were given a very privileged life for bearing his children, but that is a pretty damning indictment on how that culture viewed women. jesus behaved very differently from that towards women, if he didn’t i certainly wouldn’t identify myself with christianity. jesus understood the law, he knew what it was supposed to do, so therefore had no problems breaking it in the eyes of the religious elite if he saw people using the law to hurt others…

  39. dgsinclair says:

    BTW, in a related topic, that of why conservatives do not call for the killing of homosexuals, the answer is the same as for why Christians should not call for the death of child molesters – (not because the death penalty is unbiblical (separate discussion) but because we are not under the OT Covenant, but we ARE under both the New Covenant AND the Noahic one. Interesting argument. See Capital punishment and rape – the bible says NO?

  40. jonbirch says:

    dgs… it is these arguments about what should and shouldn’t be in the canon that show me more than anything how political all of scripture is in the way it has been put together. there is no definitive way of assessing which bits are worthy and which are not it could be argued. it could also be argued though, that in the end it is a fairly democratic representation of the needs of the church leaders at the time, so therefore not the worst job ever. it is at very best man’s best attempt.
    if we were putting the canon together now, the churches needs would be different and what we know as ”the biible’ might look very different. as it is, different kinds of church focus on different parts and i would venture to suggest that most peoples (used) bible is a lot smaller than the book really is.
    the bible is filled with people wiping out nations in the name of god. the bible has horrors and atrocities aplenty which make 911 look tiny (btw… i have no wish to take anything away from the horror of 911)… just on a biblical scale it’s very small.
    that’s why, having been brought up into christianity, i choose christ above anything else. because he does not demonstrate the flaws of his forbears, nor does he delight in exploitation or war mongering, he does not take slaves, he does not condemn the repentant, he chooses a donkey over a war horse, he hurts over the sadness of others. so much of his anger is toward the status quo and the religious authorities which tie people down… and in the end, i guess, string him up.
    i don’t know quite why i’ve gone this root in my conversation with you… i think it’s to help in your understanding of why i argue as i do.
    i don’t expect my views to change you, or anyone for that matter, just enable us all to think. and likewise i’m sure you’ll not be expecting to change me anytime soon.
    i just think it’s helpful to know people better, so one can truly understand them. i try and give of myself warts and all here and make myself quite vulnerable sometimes in doing so. i appreciate people sharing vulnerability.
    on a personal note, i’d be very interested to know what you struggle with in what you believe… but maybe that’s for another day.

    just read your last comment in my email. new covenant is everything (by which i mean old covenant seen in it’s light)… the very beginning of the bible even before noah holds things that we should still subscribe to. subduing and stewarding the earth for eg. in fact, christ re introduces the possibility of a relationship with the creator for the likes of you and i. i’m pretty sure we will agree with all of that, but not sure we’d agree at all on exactly what that might mean in terms of our attitudes, behaviours and interpretations…

    anyhow, i’ve rambled at length. sorry for the ramble, i hope when i look back it says what i meant it to. haha, somehow i doubt it. :-)

  41. jonbirch says:

    i was right… it’s not quite what i was hoping for, but it’s late here in the uk. :-)

  42. My faith is Christ-centered. The Gospel accounts are as close as we come to knowing Jesus, what he taught, and what he did. I try to live in the spirit of the Two Great Commandments, to love God and love my neighbor, and by the Golden Rule to do as I would be done to, though I fall woefully short in both instances. I view the whole of Scripture through the lens of the Gospel, and what Jesus said and did trumps all. At the same time, I highly regard the Hebrew Testament, as I keep in mind that Jesus was was steeped in Jewish faith and culture and that he was born a Jew, and he died a Jew.

  43. jonbirch says:

    grandmere mimi… your approach makes a lot of sense to me and is not unlike my own. although these days i am more aware that even the gospel writers have an ‘angle’ and i try to find the jesus who really existed beyond the propaganda. having four gospels helps in that matter i find. :-)

  44. Ogg says:

    DSG: Couldn’t agree more with your comment on the woman caught in adultery especially your capitalised ending of ‘SIN NO MORE’ which is often ommitted and ignored by more liberal commentators.
    in self defense however I would like to point out that my comment ‘by not condemning the woman caught in adultery’ does not imply that Christ didn’t codemn adultery itself as you seem to have taken it to mean.
    As fo the rest well you and Jon can battle it out!

  45. There are many things i don’t understand. One of them in this discussion is the qualification around Jesus’ confirmation of the law. In Matthew 5 he says “I tell you the truth, 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.” There’s no mention of what sort of law; moral, ceremonial or foodal (or whatever that word should be) and yet you qualify Jesus’s words with the word “moral” every time. I’m sure there’s reasons for deciding that but it’s not what Jesus says. I guess if he meant “everything” then we’d be in trouble. Leviticus has 859 verses and yet today we bother with maybe a couple of dozen. Here’s a visual aid for you – Leviticus laid out in word:
    http://www.moltenmeditation.com/temp/leviticus.jpg
    Yellow highlights are against the law, blue highlights are things some christians are against, the red cross is the “anti-gay” verse.

    After the 10 commandments in Exodus you get dozens of other laws, also written on the tablets, about all sorts of things regarding property, slavery, women, punishment most of which we ignore today. When you mention rape it’s interesting how according the bible (i think) if a virgin is raped then she should marry the attacker or be stoned to death – are these the things Christ was talking about when he affirmed the “moral law”?

    I don’t get this fudging of the old testament to fit with the way we want to see the world – it’s so selective and to me seems dishonest somehow. I don’t know – i throw myself upon the love and grace of god rather than the law of sin and death – there’s something there that should be telling us that the law has passed away…..

    I’m also interested in what people experience in life – do these words we argue over actually play out in real life? Ogg’s Roman quote really doesn’t for me – i am no less depraved that any of my non-christian friends so it can’t be a general guide to how life should be – because there’s no evidence (at least in my experience) that it’s actually true.

    Jeremy Marks, who helped found the “Courage” support group within the Conservative Evangelical movement “New Frontiers” – helping gay christians find a way not to be gay – spent ten years pursuing every method of curing homosexuals until they had damaged and broken so many lives that they had to reverse their stance. They have since seen such healing of souls. In his book “Exchanging the truth of God for a lie” says:
    “It is ironic that people who find homosexuality hard to accept, are so quick to quote Romans 1:25, against us, telling us that we have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. In fact something very different and dangerous has happened. Instead, many of us exchanged the truth about ourselves for a lie, trying to conform to a narrow perception of what the Bible demands. Focusing on right doctrine and warning against wrong docrine is to feed on forbidden fruit. So we feed from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and die, instead of finding our nourishment from the tree of life, in Jesus Christ.”

    Anyway, i don’t expect that to change anything – we all have our experiences and interpretations that we like to stick to. i’ve written a lot more on this subject here for interested parties:
    http://spirituallyflawed.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/homosexuality-unraveling-threads.html

  46. Ogg says:

    Rob wasn’t suggesting Christians are unless depraved merely that persistent sin be it adultery or Gay sex, if you will excuse the coupling of the two under that heading, or defending it does does not sit well with calling yourself Christian.
    Jon: On Christ not taking slaves – could argue that as doesn’t 2 Cor 2 have a metaphor for us being led as slaves in Christs victory parade and Ephesians 6:6 say ‘Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.’. Generally I think your right though as we are ‘set free’ in Christ.

  47. Ogg – “does not sit well” but that’s your opinion rather than a statement of truth surely? God, i believe, is interested in relationship and covenants. Adultery is something that breaks relationship and covenants and so would appear to be not what god wants for us. Homosexuals and heterosexuals share the same desire for relationship which sits very well with calling yourself christian in my opinion. Unfortunately we currently deny homosexuals the opportunity to enter into a covenant, which is a shame because it’s just the sort of thing god likes.

  48. Ogg says:

    Rob: Don’t see how you reconcile that statement with OT on Gay sex and related verses else where verses which Jesus endorses in the verses already quoted. Also if I someone was in an ‘open’ marriage and so committing adultery with their partners knowledge would that break the relationship under your definition?

  49. I eat shell fish and pork and plant all sorts of crops together in my vegetable beds – what’s there to reconcile?
    Adultery is between two people who are married to someone else yes? There’s nothing biblically wrong with having lots of wives or concubines. I dont have any experience of open marriages but they would be breaking the marriage covenant – whether the relationship suffers is up to them i guess.

    I imagine you’re trying to prove that i contradict myself for something – i’m sure i do! Grace is contradictory – it’s all about going beyond and above the law.

  50. Ogg says:

    As I said right at the start I’ve yet to hear a counter argument i find persuasive. :-)

  51. Chris says:

    right now I am so glad that Jesus gets all this stuff and understands all the places in the grey where we think we’re right but are most likely not. After years of doing arguments, debates, counter debates and theological standpoints thank goodness I have ventured back to ‘Love God, Love people’ and that I am only persuaded by one truth. GOD FLIPPING LOVES ME!!!!!!

  52. Ogg says:

    2 Timothy 2:23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

    Amen Chris :-)

  53. jonbirch says:

    thank you robin for saying it so well. that last bit about ‘above and beyond the law’ is bang on as well. also, your sentences on ‘courage’ serves as a stark reminder of how dangerous playing with people’s lives (even if you want what you consider is best for them) is. i’ve known people who have been very damaged in this way, by well meaning christians wishing to heal them of their sexual malady. it always ends in hurt and pain and broken people. genuinely heart breaking stuff. no argument, no matter how well laid out, would ever convince me that people should be treated in this way.

    ogg… we’ll just have to disagree on a few things i guess. i’m sad about that though, because i see all as having the need to be set free to live and love and commit and relate… and imprisoning people’s lives is just not something i desire to be a party to.

    as chris and grandmere mimi have said, love god, love people… i’d add love the planet… but then not loving the planet seems to be not loving god and not loving people anyway, so i’ll shut up. :-)

    as human beings we have so much potential to love and serve and give and share, but so often it seems we’d rather have reasons why we needn’t or indeed shouldn’t… when we use the bible in that way we might as well have the harry potter books as our guide to life. having said that, harry potter has a wealth of things in it we should all live by, so maybe that’s not such a bad idea. :-)

  54. Ogg says:

    Jon: I agree with what you and Rob say about playing with peoples lives and trying to ‘cure’ them of being Gay etc being wrong. If a ‘cure’ is needed that’s Gods work to do not ours, but I don’t agree with the argument you use to support it which sounds like cheap grace to me (e.g. we can do what ever we like because we are above the law in Christ). Use the first two commandments or the Golden Rule as your guide as Mimi said.

  55. Awwwww man, grace is so cheap it’s flipping free!!

  56. jonbirch says:

    robin… yes, grace IS free indeed. the new covenant in christ trumps all. christ trumps all… the old ways must always be seen in the context of christ’s ways otherwise there’s no point in christ because the old covenant was working just fine… and we know it wasn’t… hence jesus.
    ogg… i never said that. i’d never say that. i’m surprised you’d read that in to my comment. my view is do what christ would as best you can and as i said in an earlier comment and many times before on this blog, what mimi said IS my golden rule.

  57. Ogg says:

    So if that is what you mean (we can do what ever we like because we are above the law in Christ) as it appears to be why do we need and still have (Matt 5:18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled) the law at all?

  58. jonbirch says:

    yes, amen robin!

  59. Ogg says:

    Crosed post Jon that was in answer to Rob.

  60. jonbirch says:

    i never said we were above the law in christ, ogg. i live in god’s grace because of christ and that is a grace i wish to extend to others. i view the law through christ and only through christ. i too hope i’d heal on the sabbath in contravention of the law were it the right thing to do.

  61. Ogg says:

    No argument with that as I said it was directed to Robs last comment.

  62. Can we do whatever we like? – yes i believe so – grace is that crazy and awesome – Paul said everything is permissible to him but not everything is helpful – and that’s where we are too. Christ has become life for us, the law of sin and death can no longer touch us. If we then choose to follow this Christ then we will want to live a life that pleases him “should i sin more so that grace is increased?” asks Paul “Duh! that would be stupid” he says in answer to his own question. Elsewhere in the bible what Jesus said to the rich young ruler had nothing to do with law – he had kept the law all his life and it earnt him nothing in Jesus’ eyes because he was unable to act beyond and above the law.

    Grace means we can do whatever we like – following christ means we live a life of love – that’s why without love we are nothing.

    I still don’t understand why you hang onto Matt 5:18 – if you believe jesus’ words at face value then you can’t pick and choose which laws he means – he doesn’t specify so surely he refers to the entire torah? You can’t apply those words to “men sleeping with men as with a woman” and still eat shell fish or wear mixed fabric clothing because they are all contained in the same law – am i bonkers or something, can you not see that?

    You could take what i’ve said to mean that gays “get away with it” because of grace – no. I believe our orientation is god given, god assigned and to act according to your natural orientation in relationship is pleasing to him. I think the mentions of homosexual activity in the bible are specific to certain situations and cultural nuances that we don’t really understand – abuse, pederasty, sexual worship and when delving into the Talmud we find a lot of it linked to reproduction and not having babies being an affront to god. But there’s loads there to discuss! If you get just the bit about grace being awesome and better than you imagined as a starting point then that’ll do for now :)

  63. Ogg, I don’t see how following Jesus means that we can do whatever we like. To choose to follow Jesus it to follow the way of the Cross. ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’ The choice is ours to follow or not, but I’m quite convinced that we are not to be about laying crosses on the shoulders of others. Jesus roundly criticized the scribes and Pharisees for doing just that.

  64. andylowe01 says:

    Hey,

    So I think to some extent there’s an option of “agree to disagree” about all this. I mean, some people accept active homosexuality as a legitmate godly lifestyle and others don’t, but both parties still agree that the best thing for a person of any sexuality is to come to Jesus, who loves them unconditionally.

    And I’m sure there must be at least a small amount of Christian leaders who haven’t quite made their minds up yet. That doesn’t mean they have to hold fire on loving gay people, introducing them to Jesus and helping them know God until they’ve reached a verdict.

    But this cartoon is specifically about gay church leaders, and that’s where it becomes very sticky, because people are unlikely to “agree to disagree”. But the option you’re left with is trying to persuade everyone who disagrees with you to change their mind. Hmm.

  65. I don’t speak for anyone else, but I never had in mind to persuade anyone to agree with me, but rather to state my point of view, which differs from others here.

    jon, at least you know that your cartoon got folks thinking, which should be gratifying to you.

  66. andylowe01 says:

    Grandmere Mimi,

    I wasn’t trying to accuse anyone, just making the point that we can’t expect the debate to end any time soon, because everyone would prefer to see the issue resolved, and resolution is only definite when we all agree.

  67. dgsinclair says:

    >> JON: how political all of scripture is in the way it has been put together. there is no definitive way of assessing which bits are worthy and which are not it could be argued. it could also be argued though, that in the end it is a fairly democratic representation of the needs of the church leaders at the time, so therefore not the worst job ever. it is at very best man’s best attempt.

    I agree, although I would be a little more generous in affirming the inspiration, authority, and infallibility of the scriptures (that they are true in what they teach). I don’t dismiss parts of the Canon based on what I might interpret as political or controversial sections. I’m not saying you do, but I want to clarify that I do try to take scripture as a whole, and give all parts equal reliability.

    Perhaps that is lazy, naive or dishonest, but there are some reasonable, if not practical reasons to take this stance.

    I don’t put too much weight on God’s providential role of the preservation and gathering of the Canon (like many conservatives do), because that doesn’t honestly deal with the very real manuscript discrepancies and differences.

    >> JON: if we were putting the canon together now, the churches needs would be different and what we know as ‘the Bible’ might look very different. as it is, different kinds of church focus on different parts and i would venture to suggest that most peoples (used) bible is a lot smaller than the book really is.

    Yes, but this again assumes that politics and social values are what shaped the selection of the Canon, but I don’t think that was really the primary criteria at all. They were much closer to the original events, and the NT books that were in COMMON USE were selected more by the church leaders who had firsthand or secondhand relationships with the original Apostles – that is, they were selected based on some very real criteria like authorship, alignment with the Apostles teaching (and Christ’s), and other marks of authenticity.

    Of course, there ARE counter-indications of schisms (esp. with the gnostics) during this period, but I still think that the scriptures we have are representative more of Christ’s actual teaching than politics. At least I damn well hope so!!! ;)

    >> JON: the bible is filled with people wiping out nations in the name of god. the bible has horrors and atrocities aplenty which make 911 look tiny

    I don’t think ‘filled with’ is an accurate representation of the OT. You should check out Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan for some really interesting perspective on the OT ‘pogroms.’ You can also see some dialog with the author on this book at this post on Parchment & Pen Blog.

    >> JON: i choose christ above anything else. because he does not demonstrate the flaws of his forbears, nor does he delight in exploitation or war mongering, he does not take slaves, he does not condemn the repentant, he chooses a donkey over a war horse, he hurts over the sadness of others. so much of his anger is toward the status quo and the religious authorities which tie people down

    I have no argument with that. But that does not extend to excusing sins, be they Pharisaical or sexual in nature, nor declaring the reality and threat of hell, as Jesus did.

    >> JON: i don’t expect my views to change you, or anyone for that matter, just enable us all to think. and likewise i’m sure you’ll not be expecting to change me anytime soon.

    I appreciate that. I am not here to change anyone, but more to bump my rough ideas up against others in order to come to better conclusions myself. I apologize if I seem coarse, but I assure you, in real life, I am not mean spirited or immune to counter arguments.

    >> JON: on a personal note, i’d be very interested to know what you struggle with in what you believe – but maybe that’s for another day.

    That is another conversation. Create a cartoon on our unwillingness (or willingness) to share our spiritual struggles, and I’ll be glad to comment in full :D.

  68. dgsinclair says:

    >> ROBIN: here’s no mention of what sort of law; moral, ceremonial or foodal (or whatever that word should be) and yet you qualify Jesus’s words with the word ‘moral’ every time.

    I think you are right to question what we mean by that, and scholarly discussions have made some good conclusions about that – that is, it’s not really as ambiguous as it might seem.

    When Jews refer to ‘the Law’ they really mean the Penteteuch (first 5 books of the Bible, traditionally understood to have been authored by Moses). In some cases, I think it can also refer to the entirety of the OT. It is usually NOT referring to the specific moral, ceremonial, or dietary laws, nor the punishments associated with violating each.

    The reason Christians hold that the moral law is still in force is NOT directly because of the statement you reference, though it is related.

    When scripture says Jesus fulfills the demands of the law (ALL THREE TYPES) that he said would not pass away without fulfillment, it means different things for each type:

    1. Ceremonial and Dietary – these were primarily symbolic, foreshadowing their fulfillment in Jesus. Now that He has come, the Apostle Paul and Peter argue, we no longer need to follow them.

    2. Moral – this is more complicated, for two reasons. First, there are two realms in which justice must be observed – earthly, and heavenly.

    Jesus fulfills the demands of the heavenly justice for us. But earthly, He does not. If I murder someone, I can find forgiveness and freedom from punishment with God, but not freedom from punishment here. Jesus’ death does not allow us to avoid earthly consequences.

    The paradox is that, though we are free from the demands of the moral law in heavenly terms, they still have consquences here on earth, and disobeying them harms us.

    Another confusing aspect is that the specified legal punishments for breaking the moral law in the OT (e.g. capital punishment for adultery, hx, etc) were NOT specified as enduring, but only for the Theocracy of Israel. Theologians argue about why these punishments were only for Israel, and perhaps harsher than justice might allow.

    But regardless, there are good and somewhat clear doctrinal reasons to affirm the goodness of the moral law, while dismissing the punishments prescribed for Israel. In addition, ceremonial and dietary laws are clearly obviated by Christ’s death, as shown by Peter’s and Paul’s clear teachings on the subject.

  69. dgsinclair says:

    >> ROBIN: Jeremy Marks, who helped found the ‘Courage’ support group within the Conservative Evangelical movement ‘New Frontiers’ – helping gay Christians find a way not to be gay – spent ten years pursuing every method of curing homosexuals until they had damaged and broken so many lives that they had to reverse their stance.

    Jon asked what things I struggle with, and the failure of Christianity to help reverse SSA is one thing that gives me pause. I do think that scripture clearly condemns homosexuality as unnatural and sinful. In light of that, can we offer any promise of healing with regard to sexual orientation, or not?

    Marks has decided to abandon the orthodox view for affirming homosexuality. Others, like Wesley Hill, have committed to a life of celibacy until Christ’s return (see Choosing Celibacy). As Scot McKnight remarks:

    I also know that for many any other story is unacceptable, intolerable and even oppressive. But there is another story: Many gay and lesbian Christians know they are gay or lesbian, know they are committed to the traditional view of the Bible, and are struggling to live a life of celibacy. What we perhaps need is a compelling story of the one who chooses to be celibate but who knows that he or she may never be ‘healed’ and may never be attracted to the opposite sex.

    I have five dear friends who were gay Christians, and went through reparative therapy. Of the five, two returned to the gay identity and lifestyle, two are celibate (and probably NOT attracted to women), and one is married with children, and presumably happy about it.

    But my main point is this – I think both the New and Old Testaments clearly condemn homosexuality as sin. If you want to interpret the scriptures to say otherwise in order to hold on to both homosexuality and Christianity, you can, but I don’t think that’s honest. Better to find a faith that actually embraces your sexual orientation, but please don’t call it Christianity.

    As J. Gresham Machen said in his classic work Christianity & Liberalism:

    “the liberal theologian seeks to rescue certain of the general principles of religion, of which these particularities are thought to be mere temporary symbols, and these general principles he regards as constituting ‘the essence of Christianity.’ . . . As a matter of fact . . . what the liberal theologian has retained after abandoning to the enemy one Christian doctrine after another is not Christianity at all, but a religion so entirely different as to belong in a distinct category.”

  70. dsg – interesting, but i’m not sure what you’re saying. Is it good to have a moral law? Sure, but it’s not the same as civil law. Leviticus 18:20 says not to have sex with your neighbours wife and while morally valid it’s not against civil law. Leviticus 19:13 says do not hold a hired man’s wages overnight – don’t know about you but i get paid monthly…

    I dunno mate, when people point to a small section of the old testament and state that “this is clearly the law” while ignoring everything around it it seems all a bit self-serving and disingenuous and i think it distracts from the very real work of following christ and loving people and sacrificing ourselves for each other.

    At times like this i like to listen to Tim Minchins “The Good Book” :)

  71. sanctuarybath says:

    I love this cartoon, it made me laugh a lot. I’m actually thinking of becoming a lesbian and going for ordination just so I can aspire to become a gay female bishop.
    Seriously though. Jon & I were talking about why not many women post on gender arguments here. I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally, I’m deeply bored with the argument that men have some sort of biblical right to leadership. I’ve spent my entire life running up against this attitude and have learned that there is little point engaging men who believe in this in debate. They won’t change their minds, in the same way the Tory party won’t ever advocate for the poor and dispossessed. It’s far too threatening to their worldview.

  72. dgs – “But my main point is this – I think both the New and Old Testaments clearly condemn homosexuality as sin. If you want to interpret the scriptures to say otherwise in order to hold on to both homosexuality and Christianity, you can, but I don’t think that’s honest. Better to find a faith that actually embraces your sexual orientation, but please don’t call it Christianity.”

    Just to reflect in kind:
    But my main point is this – I think neither the New or Old Testaments clearly condemn homosexuality as sin. If you want to interpret the scriptures to say otherwise in order to condemn homosexuality within Christianity, you can, but I don’t think that’s honest. Better to find a faith that actually embraces your view of the world, but please don’t call it Christianity.

    Marks is actually married to his best friend, a woman called Brenda who is a church leader. So the lack of success with four out of the five of your friends – doesn’t that tell you anything, hint at anything, give you cause to feel that perhaps homosexuality is not a disease or a disorder and that by preaching that you are in danger of causing good people real harm? On your blog you write with real heart and honesty and you have genuinely gracious things to say about gay people, but while you continue to consider them sick and in need of healing it undermines (i feel) your otherwise good intentions.

    Here’s a guy i heard speak at Greenbelt a few years back, Peterson Toscano, and in this vid he talks about his honest pursuit of trying to become straight – it breaks your heart:

  73. Ogg says:

    Sorry for the break been travelling home from work and have just caught up with this.

    Mimi: I’m not trying to laty a burden on other people just trying to understand as the arguments I here put forward for practising Gay Christainity often seem dishonest to me personally. It’s interesting that you say ‘I don’t see how following Jesus means that we can do whatever we like’ and Jon seems to agree with that, as Rob seems to think we can do whatever we like.

    Jon: I’m not quite sure what part of my comment you were referring to earlier when you said you would never say that but my guess would be about a ‘cure’ for homosexuality. I know you would never say that which is why I said ‘If’ and meant ‘If’ as well as put the word ‘cure’ in quotes. I’m aware of current scientific and psychological thinking around orienation in terms of brain chemistry in a simple laymans kind of way so wouldn’t ascribe to the ‘cure’ philosophy myself either. aplogies if I offended you their as it wasn’t my intention.

    DSG (Rob) : Glad you brought up the ‘moral’ Law issue again as I think you Rob accussed me of using this earlier where in fact I had never used the word ‘moral’ up until now. It had in fact been DSG. However I do agree that my take on the ‘jot and tittle’ verse would agree with DSG that it refers to the OT Torah as known by the Jews. And yes there are parts of that are Draconian and parts that the NT seems to mediate against as for instance Peters vision about clean and unclean foods. but I don’t see that happening personally in the NT in terms of sexual activity which in my view if anything is further endorsed in the NT.
    BTW I think your point about a rape victim having to marry her attacker (as was in the news recently when the victim killed herself) is an Islamic thing not Christian one. Certainly couldn’t find anything to back that up in terms of OT Law when doing a quick scan for the word ‘rape’ in my concordance.

    Rob: ‘Cheap grace’ is a term coined by theologians in the 1800′s I believe and refers to ‘cheap’ in way meaning without worth not in terms of a price paid. or cost It’s interesting that you quote Pauls verses to back this up as they are the one’s I would use to defend ‘cheap grace’. But then you kind of contradict yourself in your latest post by saying we are as Christians essentially limited by ‘love’ which implies we cannot actually do anything we want. I agree with that! You the go on to say that ‘you can’t pick and choose which laws he means’ and I don’t. Their are a thousand or more OT Torah laws I break every day without knowing or even thinking about it and I trust my being in Christ covers that but I am not consciously and persistently breaking those laws. Others like the eating of kosher or ‘unclean’ foods etc I feel are mediated and I have a defense against in the passages from the NT. Still others are specific to the Jewish people. Not committing adultery is one such law I do know of and by Gods grace is one I have avoided committing so far. If I did fall into adultery hopefully if I repented I would be forgiven in Christ. If I persistently committed adultery one would have cause for thinking my repentence was not genuine and worthless (i.e ‘cheap grace’). Now don’t get caught up on my use of the word ‘repentence’ as I am NOT suggesting Gay people need to repent of their orientation. However if they persistently engage in Gay sex in the same way a hetero sexual persistently committed adultery in contradiction of the law that has not passed away (jot & tittle) is there not cause for thinking they are not genuine in their Christian profession of faith?
    On the other hand if you think everything is permissable in Christ and we are not limited by anything as you stated earlier then shouldn’t we go out and kill all the non believers and usher in the millenuim now? We may be breaking the law not to kill, and any number ot other laws, but that doesn’t matter since we are in Christ and are above the law. Indeed why stop there lets kill anyone who doesn’t hold the same theological views as us as by that definition t doesn’t matter since we are in Christ. Soon their will only be you and Christ left. Apologies if that’s a bit strong but it seemed a foolish position to hold to me.

  74. jonbirch says:

    dgs… the answer the the book title ‘is god a moral monster’ is ‘no’ i believe. whether his followers have been imoral monsters n the past or even now is an interesting conversation for another day.
    “Create a cartoon on our unwillingness (or willingness) to share our spiritual struggles, and I’ll be glad to comment in full.” will do :-)
    haha! the ‘what is hell debate will have to wait too! :-)

    i find myself very much in agreement with robin and grandmere mimi.

  75. jonbirch says:

    ogg… you didn’t offend me. :-)

    sanctuarybath… actually, my wife, clare. thank you for posting a comment, i really appreciate it. i guess the only positive thing to say about the way this aspect of church is, is that eventually things might change. the walls many feel they bang their heads against are built by men, not by god… things built my men fall down eventually, thank god.

    ogg… i think you are misunderstanding robin’s point.

  76. jonbirch says:

    …anyone would think god was a heterosexual man! heaven forbid he should be that limited. :lol:

  77. jonbirch says:

    here’s a link to a very interesting graphic which was kindly emailed to me… http://www.engineeringdegree.net/girls-in-stem/

  78. ogg – i think you’ve run off down some road with something i didn’t mean. For the record, and because i love this grace thing, yes i could murder everyone in the world and god would still forgive me – that’s how big he is – mind blowing isn’t it? So watch what you say to me :)
    Although perhaps it’s not an awfully loving thing to do…. although some do argue that bringing about the new heaven and new earth would be the most loving act anyone could do…… i’m teasing :)

    Deuteronomy 22:28-29
    New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
    23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her,
    24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death— the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.
    25 But if out in the country a man happens to meet a girl pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die.
    26 Do nothing to the girl; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbour,
    27 for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no-one to rescue her.
    28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered,
    29 he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    The bible is bizarre.

  79. Ogg says:

    Rob: I stand corrected on the ‘rape’ thing – treating women as chattel then. A quick reading around seems to indicate there is some debate over the use of the word ‘rape’ and that it could also mean consensual sex but given the context I think rape is the most likely meaning. I can’t say I agree this is right unless the victim is agrreable to the marriage in either case.. However I understand Deutoronomy literally means the ‘spoken words’ in this case spoken by Moses before the Israelites entered the promised land so you could argue that they are not the words of God.
    I appluad your concept of the scope of grace in your comment ‘i love this grace thing, yes i could murder everyone in the world and god would still forgive me’ but I can not say I agree with you in it unless there was some pressing reason to do that out of love – the nature of which I can barely imagine. Perhaps thats what all the worlds despots who say they have god on their side think. and even worse they could be right then. Guess I’ll be first on your hit list ! :-)

    Off to bed now.

  80. soniamain says:

    I love this cartoon, thank you Jon for challenging the oppressive world the church is. i don’t believe for a moment God intended the church to be oppressive, but that is what it is. oppressive particularly to women and basically anyone who doesn’t neatly fit into their box. I am proud to be a woman, i am proud to be one of the leaders in our church community- no I am not ordained, have thought about it but so can’t bear to be part of the male dominated, judgmental church system we have in this country. What makes me so sad is that this conversation is still happening, like Clare I am so bored with having to hear it time and again. I am appalled that my daughters are growing up in a time when the church that is still so judgmental

    Jon I am not surprised that so few women have posted on here, to be honest most of the conversation is so patriarchal, judgmental and oppressive there is little point in attempting to join in.

  81. Lily says:

    How is it that the church are allowed to be so homophobic when for years it has been condemned by the rest of society. It seems that people on this are hiding behind the excuse of God and the bible to show their personal feelings for homosexuals. Maybe all of you are actually hiding you’re own insecurity about your sexuality through offending other. Sorry if I offend anyone, but sometimes these things have to be said.

  82. bexgee says:

    We have an openly lesbian bishop in Los Angeles here in the States. IMO So far the world hasn’t caved in. :)

  83. jonbirch says:

    soniamain… “so can’t bear to be part of the male dominated, judgmental church system we have in this country.” is it okay that i feel like that too? :-( “like Clare I am so bored with having to hear it time and again.” me too. :-( “most of the conversation is so patriarchal, judgmental and oppressive there is little point in attempting to join in.” :-(
    it’s like god gives women a beautiful, sleek and ever so fast and cool mcclaren sports car, and he says ‘drive with the wind in your hair and enjoy what i’ve given you.” so the woman, with gratitude in her heart and joy for the road ahead gets in to her beautiful new gift, only to find that just down the road a bunch of spoilsport men have built a sleeping policeman, and twenty five yards beyond that there’s another bunch of miseries erecting a barrier, and a few yards further they have put nails on the road, and a few yards on from that… well you get the point, because you have to live with it all the time. :-(

    lily… you’ll find no argument from me. i agree with you. thank you for speaking your mind. honesty like yours is rarer than i wish it were. i think you’ve hit on an uncomfortable truth. i think there are many different reasons why men (and often women too) hold these views… sometimes culture, sometimes upbringing, sometimes hiding from the truth of themselves, all sorts… none of them, in my view good. :-( thank you for your open and honest input.

    bexgee… “IMO So far the world hasn’t caved in.” i think we can categorically state that the world HAS NOT caved in, bexgee. nicely put. :-)

  84. Summer says:

    I don’t think god minds who we marry as long as we are happy in our relationships

  85. jonbirch says:

    hey summer… i often think that people’s positive relationships have a very positive effect on those around them.

  86. TreeHouseBooks says:

    good point about the positive effect of those who’s love and happiness reflect God’s life giving order Jon / Summer

    I once read a book on group dynamics, that pointed out those in ‘leadership’ were often in reality ignored, whilst those who demonstrated inspiring ideas in their demenor inspired others, and became looked to for leadership

    I think part of the problem in the church is the self appointed leadership structure of privildege, where a few put themselves through curate to bishopric by their own need to be the leader, and yet seem unable to demonstrate a real communal sense of belonging to the Kingdom. the oldest trick in the book for shoring up yr. wobbly leadership, is to ‘criticise’ the opposition. however this tactic backfires when the opposition are shown to belong to the Kingdom as well

    however, it’s complex when many people do have a deep sense of something unshakeable, and I feel we need to build a bridge of compassion, towards those who feel their ministry is impeded by ancient exclusion practice, and those who feel deeply unhappy about changing things super-fast

    this is where we need our inspiring unauthorised leader, who can show us how to build a full, loving community, where people work out how to live their lives before God, as married couples of different gender arrangements, as single people, as leaders who are able to build community rather than simply elevate their own leadership

    and in my view this will need a look at leadership structures, with a democratic revolving system, where it becomes impossible to think of accepting stagnant, leaders for life. I partly think this after my experience of CoDA, where they look at structures that damage groups, and list behaviours that hurt others. so when they happen, they have less effect, as no one will be ‘chairing’ the group for more than a year anyway

  87. jonbirch says:

    thank you treehousebooks… that’s a very helpful and thought provoking comment indeed.

  88. as long as she trims her eyebrows i couldn’t care less …

  89. s4rahislife says:

    Awesome! :-)

  90. JF says:

    The fact that people can use their faith to pretend to have a valid reason to consider another human’s nature as somehow ‘debased’ or ‘degraded’ is for me reason enough to consider that the faith stance itself is a degraded version of what we as humans should be striving for. Men are not inherently superior to women in any sense. Human beings given their liberty and access to an education do not require moral ‘leadership’ in any case, whether from men or women (but society does of course require government). Heterosexuals are not inherently more moral than homosexuals in any sense. No race group is inherently superior to any other in any sense. But it is my belief that someone who does good works for their own sake has an inherent moral superiority over someone who does good works because they believe they are storing up treasures in heaven. The realisation that I have had in recent years that religious groups do not have a monopoly on morality – in tandem with the realisation that belief in the supernatural is entirely voluntary – has been an extremely liberating one. In fact the more you look at it, the more it begins to seem that the opposite is true.

  91. rebecca says:

    JF — I agree with you — there are many specific points I could make, but I’ve said them all before. I would like to pick up on your statement “the realisation that belief in the supernatural is entirely voluntary”. Do you also believe that non-belief in the supernatural is entirely voluntary?

    Jon — this leads me onto a suggestion for another cartoon. Have you seen the posters for Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton (they’re all over the place on the London Underground, but I haven’t seen any anywhere else). They say “Even if religion isn’t true, can’t we still enjoy the best bits?” I think this statement is crying out for discussion as to whether it can be regarded as in any way sensible.

    This is completely off the point, which is why I’m suggesting a new cartoon.

  92. JF said “The realisation that I have had in recent years that religious groups do not have a monopoly on morality”

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  93. JF says:

    Rebecca – it’s a bit of an old chestnut to try to put the ‘default position’ up for debate. I don’t collect stamps, but I wouldn’t list “not collecting stamps” as a hobby.

  94. jonbirch says:

    jf… not collecting stamps has been a hobby of mine for well over forty years! :-) “religious groups do not have a monopoly on morality”… agree entirely.

    rebecca… i’ll have a look at that as a cartoon. looks like an interesting book.

    jf… not collecting stamps is a choice though it just occurred to me.

  95. rebecca says:

    JF — my question to you was a genuine question, not a rhetorical statement. But I think you’ve answered it. ;-)

    I’d love to write more, but I’m supposed to be working. Jon — it is definitely time for another cartoon!

  96. Pat says:

    Just opened the April issue of Third Way to find this little gem in the ‘so they say….’ section:

    ‘It’s up to the bishops. They can sort this out, but do they have the balls?’ Apparently without irony, a spokesperson for Forward in Faith on the debate on women bishops at General Synod

    :-D

  97. jonbirch says:

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
    love it!

  98. dgsinclair says:

    >> ROBIN: I dunno mate, when people point to a small section of the old testament and state that ‘this is clearly the law’ while ignoring everything around it it seems all a bit self-serving and disingenuous and i think it distracts from the very real work of following christ and loving people and sacrificing ourselves for each other.

    So are you making this argument?

    1. There are many ‘moral laws’ in the old testament which Christians selectively observe
    2. Because they are selectively observed, this is not evidence of the application of principle, but of self-serving hypocrisy.
    3. Therefore, we should reject any Biblical claims to defining what is moral or not.

    It seems to me that, rather than do the scholarship to understand Christian theology, you are excusing your acceptance of sexual sin by waving your hands and saying “it’s all too confusing, I’d rather just be loving.”

    A comittment to love without the fortitude to include truth is laziness at best, cowardice at worst.

    >> ROBIN: I think neither the New or Old Testaments clearly condemn homosexuality as sin

    Naturally, you can take this cheap retort, but let me be more clear – I claim that anyone who is being objective in their scholarship can not say that the bible fails to condemn homosexuality. You can claim that black is white, but that doesn’t make our claims on equal footing. It would be more honest to say that the bible is wrong than to say if doesn’t condemn homosexuality.

    You could play the same game and say the same to this response, but again, “i know you are but what am I?” isn’t a cogent argument. I’m telling you that you are IN ERROR, and an honest reasoned look would confirm that.

    >> ROBIN: doesn�t that tell you anything, hint at anything, give you cause to feel that perhaps homosexuality is not a disease or a disorder and that by preaching that you are in danger of causing good people real harm? On your blog you write with real heart and honesty and you have genuinely gracious things to say about gay people, but while you continue to consider them sick and in need of healing it undermines (i feel) your otherwise good intentions.

    Love and truth together don’t seem to make sense to you – you can’t seem to conceive of moral disagreement without concern for the other.

    While I have admitted that the failure of reparative therapy to ‘heal’ many homosexuals is troubling, your argument is like saying “because men are naturally promiscuous, and probably just driven by evolution to spread their genes, to condemn promiscuity is judgemental and hateful.” I don’t buy such arguments. Human nature is fallen, and sexual sin is just part of the evidence.

  99. dgsinclair says:

    >> JON: anyone would think god was a heterosexual man! heaven forbid he should be that limited.

    Are you saying Jesus was gay? :p

    >> ROBIN: The bible is bizarre.

    You have failed to take time to understand. A simple explanation here might be this – if you claim rape after consensual sex (people were about and you did not cry out), you don’t get to claim rape. This type of thing happens all the time.

    In the first cases, adultery is the issue. In the second, rape of a non-married girl – there are at least two answsers. Fisrt, this passage is not condoning this sexual event. Secondly, by taking a careful look at the context and consulting the original languages of the Scriptures a strong case can be made that this is citation isn’t even addressing a rape case at all.

    This is what I mean by you don’t take time to actually think or research your superficial understanding of such passages. The word ‘taphas’ translate rape actually means many other things. Anyone trusting the NIV as a good translation doesn’t know enough. Almost every other English translation does’t say ‘rape,’ but “lies with”

    See http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/ot_and_rape.htm for some details. Also, to see how other English translations treat this, visit this link which shows the same verse in many passages
    http://bible.cc/deuteronomy/22-28.htm

  100. dgsinclair says:

    >> BEX: We have an openly lesbian bishop in Los Angeles here in the States. IMO So far the world hasn’t caved in.

    Oh no? 3000 babies killed by abortion in America not bad enough? Over 70% of black children born out of wedlock? More than 50% of marriages end in divorce? You think the slip in our sexual mores, including affirmation of homosexuality, are not related?

  101. dgsinclair says:

    >> JF: The fact that people can use their faith to pretend to have a valid reason to consider another human’s nature as somehow ‘debased’ or ‘degraded’ is for me reason enough to consider that the faith stance itself is a degraded version of what we as humans should be striving for.

    I agree. Those who want to have sex with animals and boys should be judged either. Welcome back JF.

    >>JF: Men are not inherently superior to women in any sense.

    Christianity does not teach that. That’s a misreading of the text. Men and women are different – something lost in the feminist confusion of equality with sameness.

    >>JF: Heterosexuals are not inherently more moral than homosexuals in any sense.

    True, all humans are sinners. But hetero sex is in accord with nature and morality. Homosexuality is not.

    >>JF: No race group is inherently superior to any other in any sense.

    At least we agree on something. But stop confusing race (an artificial construct) with sexual sin.

    >>JF: But it is my belief that someone who does good works for their own sake has an inherent moral superiority over someone who does good works because they believe they are storing up treasures in heaven.

    I think this is a misunderstanding of Christianity, unfortunately propagated by poor preachers. A better way to view this is:

    1. We do good because we grow to love others and because our nature is changed and energized by God once he is invited in.

    2. God is also just in that there is reward for sacrifice and hard work (God is not a communist ;)

    3. Unbelievers can do good without God, but have no reward if they fail to deal with their guilt before God and their need for redemption. While they may reap benefits from doing good (and we should not discourage them from doing good), we should encourage (a) right motives (you don’t have to earn god’s forgiveness), and (b) forgiveness for one’s own fallen nature and rebellion against god.

    >>JF: The realisation that I have had in recent years that religious groups do not have a monopoly on morality

    I think this error should be blamed on the church. For years, they confused moral ontology with moral epistemology – that is, they taught that if you were not a believer, you could not determine what is good or moral. That’s not only untrue in reality, it’s not biblical.

    Paul the apostle wrote very clearly in Romans that unbelievers DO have some idea of what is good, and because of that, are guilty before God for not doing it!

    That is, God has given every person at least the crude epistemelogic tools to determine what is moral – intuition and conscience (see my posts behind those two hyperlinks)

    What Christians SHOULD have been saying is that you have no reasonable justification for claims to objective morality without the external referent of God – that is, you can’t logically ground the ontology of morality in your experience or human reason because that is circular.

    >>JF: in tandem with the realisation that belief in the supernatural is entirely voluntary has been an extremely liberating one. In fact the more you look at it, the more it begins to seem that the opposite is true.

    So the fact that you are not coerced means that it is not real? Or do you mean that, since there is no way to tell if our internal experiences are really ourselves or God, it is merely a personal subjective choice that can not be confirmed or denied, and so without any compelling evidence for God, the best choice is to not believe?

    See, I get it ;) I just disagree on your conclusion :D

  102. jonbirch says:

    “3000 babies killed by abortion in America not bad enough? Over 70% of black children born out of wedlock? More than 50% of marriages end in divorce? You think the slip in our sexual mores, including affirmation of homosexuality, are not related?”
    i see no connection at all between £3000 abortions and a female bishop (lesbian or otherwise)! i’m shocked.

  103. dgsinclair says:

    I am shocked that you are shocked and do not see the worldview connections. Then again, most Christians do not because we’ve been taught to disconnect intellect from faith, or to minimize the importance of the logical outcomes of and connections between ideas.

    Feminism, despite what good it did in responding to abusive paternalistic practices, overstepped into it’s own errors, bringing with it the emasculating and devaluing of healthy manhood (which is in some sense responsible for the lack of leadership in men, in both home and society), the devaluing of children and the life of the unborn (read ‘abortion’), the rise of support for and enablement of promiscuity through value-less teaching on sex ed and free birth control, no-fault divorce which, though in some cases good for women in abusive situations, also devalued marriage and gave people an ‘easy’ way in and out of poor decisions, and the list goes on.

    These ideas and movements don’t stand in ideological or historical isolation – so yes, supporting gay female bishops, though mainly a symptom of values and spirituality gone awry, is also a cause of the ongoing devaluation of children, sexual fidelity, marriage, and social mores.

    When you dishonor God’s created order in this way, you are not just making a positive affirmation of the worth of the female or of the homosexual – you are unwillingly promoting what aught not to be, and bringing with it all of it’s unsavory ideological friends.

    I’m sure to those who see themselves as ‘enlightened’ in these areas, such ideas sound antiquated, just like calls for chastity and fidelity in marriage. Such is the case when compassion without truth takes hold of people. Read Romans 1 again and see the warnings – those who practice AND teach such things are worthy of judgment – in fact, they are already judged by God, who abandons them to their ‘wisdom.’

  104. Pat says:

    But hetero sex is in accord with nature and morality. Homosexuality is not.
    And the evidence for this assertion (both elements) is……???

  105. jonbirch says:

    “I am shocked that you are shocked and do not see the worldview connections. Then again, most Christians do not because we’ve been taught to disconnect intellect from faith”

    forgive me… but i was not taught that… my intellect and my faith are quite well thank you, though i am always a work in progress. my worldview, my intellect, my faith, my experience lead me to completely different conclusions than the ones you draw very often… just as they do over many topics we’ve discussed in the past. please do not think that because others think differently that it is the same as not thinking, or not having a faith which is integrated with both head and heart… and actions for that matter.

    i share some of your concerns, but don’t think your approach (if your approach is the same as your written conversation) helps in the least… it is my belief they push people further away.

  106. jonbirch says:

    actually, i might easily conclude that the christian right has a major responsibility for the social problems within the usa… even a large part of the blame, perhaps. but i won’t be engaging in that conversation today… another time perhaps.

  107. drdjp says:

    Hmmm

  108. Pat says:

    Feminism, despite what good it did in responding to abusive paternalistic practices, overstepped into it’s own errors, bringing with it the emasculating and devaluing of healthy manhood (which is in some sense responsible for the lack of leadership in men, in both home and society), the devaluing of children and the life of the unborn (read ‘abortion’), the rise of support for and enablement of promiscuity through value-less teaching on sex ed and free birth control, no-fault divorce which, though in some cases good for women in abusive situations, also devalued marriage and gave people an ‘easy’ way in and out of poor decisions, and the list goes on.

    So let me get this right – you’re asserting that feminism (I’d be interested to know how exactly you define feminism btw, and what feminist texts you have actually read) is responsible for the destruction of the fabric of church and society through the promotion of abortion, promiscuity and easy divorce?

    Sorry – but that’s the biggest load of ignorant cr*p I’ve heard (though I realise that it’s a very popular theme in certain church circles)

  109. jonbirch says:

    i wish ‘rightitude’ was a word… because if it were i could say i would choose grace and love over pious ‘rightitude’ any day… but sadly i can’t say that, because it isn’t a word. :-)

  110. drdjp says:

    Rectitude is the word you’re looking for :)

  111. lol :D
    dgs – for me intellect and scholarly endeavour is about enabling us to see another view, to approach something from another angle and see how it plays out. Many clever people have poured over these texts and yet we have many versions of the bible and 36,000 christian denominations. I enjoy engaging my intellect, and like most people when it works in my favour I’ll troop it out for all to see, but i don’t see it as creating truth, rather than creating the opportunity to question. At the end of the day we have ourselves, the people around us and some sense of the divine and it’s in that world that we make our way.

    When the Tsunami hit in the Indian Ocean friends of mine, humanists and Buddhists, got on planes and went out to help – they just went saying “what can i do”? Meanwhile back in christian HQ John Piper tells us that a quarter of a million people died because of all the prostitution in Thailand – it was the wrath of god. Theologically in some views he may be “correct” but in my view Jesus was on the plane with my non-christian friends.

  112. JF says:

    DGS, you and I agree on so much; indeed the ‘conclusions’ we have drawn are actually very similar. With regard to Wodan, Thor, Zeus, Diana, Mercury, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, the sun, the moon, Baal, the Juju of the Mountain, Prince Philip, Allah, Tages, Vigoia… (and so on and so on through over 100,000 other deities worshipped by humans in different parts of the earth through our long history) you and I have drawn exactly the same ‘conclusion’. Only in the case of the Judeo-Christian god do our ‘conclusions’ differ. Can you explain on what basis you draw a different ‘conclusion’ in this one case? (…other than the sheer accident of history of when and where you happened to make an appearance on this planet?).

    You see, I would tend to believe that it is _you_ who hasn’t taken the time to read enough of the right materials (if I may take the same liberty with you that you are so eager to take with others). Several centuries of philosophy have brought us much further than the bible, with its dubious provenance. I believe that your underdeveloped sense of common humanity leads you to harbour views in respect of homosexuality and women’s rights that are at best outdated and at worst a complete affront to the progress that we as a species must make in order to live together successfully on this planet. My guess is that you have bought into the christian faith because, by selectively (mis)interpreting a few verses in the bible you can accord a sense of legitimacy and moral rectitude (yes, that’s the word!) to views that represent a morass of insecurity and self-loathing (ever find yourself saying “I am unworthy… a shameful sinner…”?). You see, we cannot rely on the second coming as a solution to lift us out of the divisions and problems that are brewing in the world. We have to deal with the fact we all live together on a planet that is ‘shrinking’. We need to respect differences and look for the common ground. To do this, we need to be salt and light, as indeed Jesus suggested. If we are shut up in a building with people of similary closed mind, celebrating and fomenting our mutual closed-mindedness, we are not being salt and light. We are not out there learning about difference and how to respect it. We are not out there finding the common ground and learning to share it.

    My own view is that when our descendants look back on the human history of the early 21st century, people such as you (as typified by the views you have expressed in this thread) will be identified as having been the problem, not the solution.

  113. stcoomk says:

    It seems to me that this is fundamentally all about whether we make our own laws or follow God’s law. I think this little snippet is very salient:

    “no-fault divorce which, though in some cases good for women in abusive situations, also devalued marriage and gave people an ‘easy’ way in and out of poor decisions”

    Humans made a law, (no-fault divorce), which has both good and bad consequences:
    - good for women in abusive situations (good)
    - devalued marriage (bad)
    - gave people an ‘easy’ way in and out of poor decisions (you could say mixed good and bad – why make life hard for people? But on the other hand having to live with your mistakes can make you a better person)

    I think that many of us can agree that God’s laws are pretty ambiguous, because we don’t always know the context in which they were written, we don’t always know even if they were intended to be laws, and we don’t know which of the Jewish laws are meant for all time and which are intended just for a particular society.

    But to me, Jesus attempts to cut through the crap (apologies for using that term in context of biblical law) when he says to focus on the first two commandments. I don’t think that gives us carte blanche to enter into moral relativism and do whatever we like, but I do think that the way to set laws on abortion, divorce, sexuality, gender / leadership, and so on, is to approach them in the spirit of the first two commandments.

    This is a separate theological question, but I have to put it… why doesn’t God just tell people the right answer? There are literally millions of people praying about whether women bishops (and indeed gay relationships) are what God wants. Wouldn’t it be great if God would just give everyone a consistent answer? NB this is deliberately a very childlike question, but I don’t think that makes it less valid.

  114. jonbirch says:

    drdjp, jf… rectitude is a nice word. indeed the right word. i don’t think i’ve used it in years… and when i finally get the chance to use it i miss my opportunity… all because i’m trying to be funny! i used to get told off for that at school. :-)

  115. jonbirch says:

    stcoomk… i’ll do a cartoon on your ‘childlike’ question.

  116. stcoomk says:

    Thanks Jon! I already have a range of answers myself…

  117. JF says:

    Oh and in the UK, the rate at which known pregnancies end in abortion is 21.8% (2008 data). Compare with “Prospective studies using very sensitive early pregnancy tests have found that 25% of pregnancies are miscarried”.
    So god in his wisdom (or his ‘design’ of us in his image) is STILL aborting more pregnancies than result from human depravity. Just to put things in perspective.

  118. TreeHouseBooks says:

    gosh, bit harsh JF – isn’t it rather a amazing any of us make it?, Jesus clearly debunked cause & effect type idea’s.

  119. Stcoomk – just as point of order Jesus’ favourite commandments are not actually from the posh “10 Commandments” but from elsewhere in bible:

    Deuteronomy 6:5
    New Living Translation (NLT)
    5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

    Leviticus 19:18
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

    A bit off topic but i find the above fascinating. It’s like I was listening to a sermon the other week from Exodus and the “10 Commandments” and reading on from the first verses i discover that actually there are dozens and dozens of commandments about all sorts of things given to moses on the mountain, all of which got written on the tablets – which the preacher seemed to completely skip over. Deuteronomy has the story differently but it’s just remarkable what you discover when reading the bible :)

  120. dgsinclair says:

    >> PAT: But hetero sex is in accord with nature and morality. Homosexuality is not.
    And the evidence for this assertion (both elements) is???

    1. They can not reproduce (by natural means, of course)

    2. They can not reproduce (intentionally reiterated) – and let me head off the specious counter argument that infertile heteros can’t reproduce.

    a. When this occurs, it is considered a deficiency and abnormality
    b. This is an exception, not the rule. The absolute rule with gays is inability to reproduce

    3. Epidemiology shows that homosexuality is associated with higher morbidity and mortality than hetero, including a host of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental disorders that can not be accounted for soley by social stigma.

    4. Child development shows that male and female parents are optimal for childhood development.

    Secondarily, the relative instability of gay relationships compared to hetero makes child care a high risk proposition for children (even higher than the pathetic divorce rate among heteros, not to mention the 70% out of wedlock birth rate among African Americans – imagine that the gay counterparts are WORSE THAN THAT)

    5. The anus is not designed for penetration, and doing so is a health risk.

    And again, what we do with such data and conclusions is important. I don’t want to criminalize homosexuality, but I do want to support the argument that government should not condone it, but remain neutral, and I do think that nature, as outlined, supports the Biblical contention that homosexuality is unnatural (against nature), and a dysfunction, not a normal variant.

  121. dgsinclair says:

    >> PAT: So let me get this right – you’re asserting that feminism (I’d be interested to know how exactly you define feminism btw, and what feminist texts you have actually read) is responsible for the destruction of the fabric of church and society through the promotion of abortion, promiscuity and easy divorce?

    No, you did not get that right, which is perhaps why you think it’s a load of crap – if I were making the argument you described above, I might agree with your assessment.

    What I am saying is simply this – this group of ideas are not isolated, but rather, both ideologically and historically, have traveled together. So when you see lesbian bishops, this is not a harmless development, but the symptom (not the cause) of an underlying ideological shift which has brought with it abortion, the devaluation of the unborn, the devaluation of marriage, the increase in promiscuity (in part due to the promotion of values-free sex ed and free birth control), etc.

    To ignore these ideological and historical links and their impacts (“I don’t see how allowing lesbian bishops hurts anyone”) is ludicrous.

    In addition, to ignore the idea of male headship in marriage, and leadership in both home and church as if they have NO bearing or basis in the created order is, at best, to think un Christianly, if not uncritically and in a biased fashion.

    Sure, we must also consider our equality before God. And again, the complementary view of man and woman is not placing one above the other in value, but rather, acknowledges our created differences.

    Theologically, as a Christian, this is an unavoidable doctrine which one can only dismiss if one dismisses both what the bible and nature teach.

    Non-Christian thinker have no such obligation to the bible, and I might understand their differing interpretation of what nature might indicate. But not so the Christian. IMHO.

  122. dgsinclair says:

    >> JON: my intellect and my faith are quite well thank you, though i am always a work in progress. my worldview, my intellect, my faith, my experience lead me to completely different conclusions than the ones you draw very often

    Sorry Jon, I did not mean to attack you directly, but was only venting about some of the typical responses I get, and my low opinion of anti-intellectual argumentation.

    >> JON: (if your approach is the same as your written conversation) helps in the least – it is my belief they push people further away.

    Perhaps that is so – I guess second guessing people’s motives, or accusing them of ignorance, is a poor method ;)

    However, in this case, to claim “I see no connection between these ideas” seems radically blind – either willingly or unwillingly – to their connections.

    It smacks of ideological bias and self-deception, and I want to say that. It’s like Darwinists who fail to see the ideological and historical connections between Darwinism, social Darwinism, eugenics, and Nazism.

    It would be more honest to say that the connections, however unfortunate, are clear in idea and history, even if you think that such associations do not impugn Darwinism or its verity.

    I apologize for my ad hominem remark.

  123. dgsinclair says:

    >> ROBIN: for me intellect and scholarly endeavour is about enabling us to see another view, to approach something from another angle and see how it plays out.

    So far, we agree 8/

    >> ROBIN: Many clever people have poured over these texts and yet we have many versions of the bible and 36,000 christian denominations.

    I am not happy with the implication here, which you may or may not be making. Some doctrines or passages are always debatable, while others are not, except when fringe arguments, usually unworthy, are considered.

    Not that all scholarly contention is fringe, not at all. But some passages and doctrines are clear, and those who argue about different meanings are usually agenda, not reason driven.

    Much time-tested orthodoxy is built on reasoned exegesis and hermeneutic, not on politics, and the accusation that such passages are ‘disputed by scholars, so i can choose whatever position I want’ can be intellectually and ethically dishonest.

    >> ROBIN: Theologically in some views he may be ‘correct’ but in my view Jesus was on the plane with my non-christian friends.

    I agree with your sentiments, but fail to understand their application to the appointment of lesbian bishops and the rightness or wrongness of such things.

    I do see their application to our ministry to gays, but that in no way makes homosexuality non-sinful, nor does it justify ignoring biblical and nature’s revelations about the roles of male and female, esp. when it comes to leadership and authority in the home and church.

    In one of my ethics books (can’t find the reference right now) it mentioned three ways that we could approach ethics. One was from the sympathetic view (we don’t want to hurt feelings) – while this is a laudable goal, it is a poor goal when trying to determine what is true, ethical, and good. I think this is typically the main argument for gay ordination.

  124. dgs – mate, i am proudly and humbly “un christian” if christianity is anything like you paint it. I view it differently and you have trouble comprehending that because your are always arguing from your own point of absolute certainty. Your view of the world seems to get increasingly right-wing with every post and what seemed like a good healthy discussion is turning a bit dark. Sometimes I am grateful for the ocean that separates the UK from such extreme views – they hold much less power here. For me gay ordination and gender issues is not about “hurt feelings” it’s about setting the captives free and bringing god’s love to this place so that no one is oppressed by someone else’s agenda – that’s a decent goal i think.

  125. TreeHouseBooks says:

    you got me thinking Robin Vincent, – for me, the ordination, and bishop appointments, of faithful ‘gay’ men and women, and ‘gay’ marriage is an issue of justice, we are commanded to act justly, so we have no grounds for excluding faithful people from their God given roles and tasks

    I’ve put ‘gay’ in speech marks, because in the context it’s irrelevant, and is only needed to clarify the conversation, if I’d just said the barring of ordination and appointment to bishop of folk called by God, is unjust, I guess most of us would agree?

    (p.s., sorry, I have started selectively reading this blog, as I’m beginning to feel some view expressed here are only held by the writers?, so now only read comments I’m finding trigger new ideas)

  126. drdjp says:

    dgs: What I am saying is simply this – this group of ideas are not isolated, but rather, both ideologically and historically, have traveled together. So when you see lesbian bishops, this is not a harmless development, but the symptom (not the cause) of an underlying ideological shift which has brought with it abortion, the devaluation of the unborn, the devaluation of marriage, the increase in promiscuity (in part due to the promotion of values-free sex ed and free birth control), etc.

    It is you who are confusing ideological shifts with causes and symptoms… and you also manage to combine birth control with abortion which are actually two separate things, albeit both reproductive issues.

    One of the clearest causal relationships in the world today is that poverty is reduced when women are educated and given the freedom to control reproduction – two things that patriarchal societies (which is pretty mush all of them) have tried to squash at every turn. There are already more than enough people living on this planet, so birth control is imperative now. If that violates your interpretation of the so-called biblical mandate to go forth and multiply then you are reading far too much into an instruction to a new world versus a mature one that is already overcrowded.

    As for traditional marriage – the biblical notion of marriage was that of a contract between families where the bride was merely property to be traded for economic or political advantage. Marrying for love is a very recent concept, and would certainly have been cause for amusement in biblical times.

    Women have been treated appallingly through pretty much the entirety of world history, so it’s hard to believe that a few decades of increasing equality (though still not parity, and generally only in the developed world) have caused the world to go to hell in a handbasket.

    And it’s everyone’s freedom to make choices other than those based on your beliefs (and they are just your beliefs, not some kind of eternal truth.)

  127. dgsinclair says:

    >> JF: With regard to Wodan, Thor, Zeus, Diana, Mercury, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, the sun, the moon, Baal…

    I’ve addressed this specious argument in Pascal’s Wager – Part II: debunking the ‘all religions are equally improbable’ ruse

    The problem with your analogy, besides ignoring the relative worth of the various God claims, is that it is really arguing that theism and atheism are the same thing.

    It’s more like arguing that you are pregnant, you just have one less child in you. The person with triplets, or twins, or one child in the womb, is pregnant (i.e. a theist). The person with none is NOT pregnant.

    Theism/atheism is binary – that’s a much more accurate analogy.

    >> JF: I believe that your underdeveloped sense of common humanity leads you to harbour views in respect of homosexuality and women’s rights that are at best outdated and at worst a complete affront to the progress that we as a species must make in order to live together successfully on this planet.

    I think you have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. We are not talking about re instituting slavery, we are talking about the proper functioning of family and church, informed by both nature and scripture. Most of the advances in the ethics in the modern world stems FROM the Christian tradition, not in spite of it. As a brief survey:

    1. Human life, horribly devalued in Greece (infanticide was common), not to mention China (female infanticide and foot binding), has been reversed due primarily to the value placed on life by Christian teaching.

    2. The idea of Just War (ethical reasons for and implementation of war) has taken the tragedy of human conflict and governmental abuse and given just guidelines of the just pursuit of defending against evil.

    3. Abolition was led by Christians in the west. Period.

    4. Women’s suffrage was born out of the admittedly more liberal Christian traditions in America.

    5. When secular scientists were practicing eugenics (bolstered by Darwinian thought) in the US, the sole resistance came from Catholics.

    While many have used ‘biblical’ arguments to suppress human rights, and skeptics have done superficial analyses of biblical teaching to impugn Christianity (e.g. “Paul approved of slavery”), the true spirit and teachings of Christianity have, over time, proved themselves, and have eradicated much ethical and moral evil, where secularism has, in general, a much weaker track record (though some enlightenment thinking absolutely contributed, and kept religionists from extremes). And if you consider secular atheism, its track record is abysmal and horrific.

    >> JF: hat represent a morass of insecurity and self-loathing (ever find yourself saying ‘I am unworthy – a shameful sinner?).

    Um, no. While some may hold strong views out of low self esteem (or the reverse, inflated self esteem), I think my positions are both logical and true, while those affirming only love and grace have thrown out the truth when they should embrace both.

    >> JF: you see, we cannot rely on the second coming as a solution to lift us out of the divisions and problems that are brewing in the world.

    No argument. Many use their faith as an excuse to avoid their responsibilities in the here and now. Or they are ‘so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good.’ Good Christian thinking is about the here and now AND the life to come, not one or the other.

    >> JF: We have to deal with the fact we all live together on a planet that is ‘shrinking’.

    Well, this is somewhat arguable, a Malthusian gambit – the overpopulation myth, as it is known in some circles.

    We need to be good stewards of creation, no doubt. We don’t need to be killing children or enforcing limits on family sizes to do so. But the balanced view of Christianity, which is the current majority opinion among evangelicals, is that we do need to work for justice here, not just wait for it in heaven. Hence our efforts towards, among other things, justice for the unborn.

    >> JF: We need to respect differences and look for the common ground.

    That is a good start, but it will not get the entire job done because our priorities and means to common ends also will differ. For example, we both want to reduce teen pregnancy and unwanted children. We have very different means to those ends, and in some cases, we argue that our means are at odds.

    The best example is that of Uganda, in which the spread of aids went down under the Ugandan approach of “be faithful to your spouse(s) or risk death” campaign. When Western help came in an preached condom use and abstinence, both failed because they ignored the reality that people want to have unprotected sex (not a sin). Looks like the biblical injunction towards “abstain or get married” turns out best (unless you are in a whorehouse – condom use there did have a positive effect ;). See NRP report How The West Fueled The AIDS Epidemic.

    >> JF: We are not out there learning about difference and how to respect it. We are not out there finding the common ground and learning to share it.

    True. But we can’t abandon truth in the effort understand, serve, and share. This is the error when failing to confront error and sin. While some delight in fault finding in the name of truth, the solution is not to embrace lies, which I think many lefties have done in this debate.

    >>JF: My own view is that when our descendants look back on the human history of the early 21st century, people such as you (as typified by the views you have expressed in this thread) will be identified as having been the problem, not the solution.

    If we look back at history, those holding both the ‘truth only’ and ‘grace only’ positions have been part of the problem, failing for opposite reasons, while returning to grace and truth will solve it.

  128. dgsinclair says:

    >> STC: do think that the way to set laws on abortion, divorce, sexuality, gender / leadership, and so on, is to approach them in the spirit of the first two commandments.

    I agree with the sentiment, but not sure how you would apply this very limited (though profound) principle to these cases without reference to other more specific principles. If you are being biblical, you might also have to include:
    . the value of human life
    . the value of the weak and helpless and poor
    . the value and importance of keeping covenant
    . the value of the created order and purpose of male/female
    . the command to not murder, lie, or defraud
    . the command to not covet
    . etc.

    With this in mind, I think the conservative position I am taking is still the most biblical (and correct, but we should test in the real world) within the bounds of your two foundational principles.

    >> STC: why doesn�t God just tell people the right answer? There are literally millions of people praying about whether women bishops (and indeed gay relationships) are what God wants.

    Thanks for the softball :). There are many possible good answers to your question, including:

    1. He already has – homosexuality is a sin, and church leaders have clear criteria in the bible, which include ‘being the husband of one wife.’

    2. He already has – the NT gives enough instruction and examples for us to know better.

    3. You can’t spell out every possible scenario, which is why principles matter.

    4. If the Bible were merely a didactic book, it would lose so much of it’s power, applicability, and depth. See Why are the scriptures not written more plainly?

    5. Those who are not regenerated, and who do not love both God and their neighbor can’t know the truths even when put in front of them.

  129. jonbirch says:

    drdjp… i agree.

  130. Pat says:

    Daniel
    Regarding the ills which allegedly attend homosexual relationships – If you can produce some scholarly evidence (as opposed to quotations from popular press books) to support the various sweeping sociological and epidemiological claims you make, then we might have a basis on which to have a sensible discussion about them.

    I’m also less than impressed with the argument that sexual activity which cannot result in reproduction is somehow against the laws of nature and of God….and simply crying ‘specious’ in advance does not, I’m afraid improve your own efforts to explain why this critique does not apply to heterosexual relations.

    Regarding the implied linkage between feminism in societal ills, I would say that what you wrote here and in particular the highlighted phrase:

    Feminism, despite what good it did in responding to abusive paternalistic practices, overstepped into it’s own errors, bringing with it the emasculating and devaluing of healthy manhood (which is in some sense responsible for the lack of leadership in men, in both home and society), the devaluing of children and the life of the unborn (read ‘abortion’), the rise of support for and enablement of promiscuity through value-less teaching on sex ed and free birth control, no-fault divorce which, though in some cases good for women in abusive situations, also devalued marriage and gave people an ‘easy’ way in and out of poor decisions, and the list goes on.

    is rather more suggestive of causality than that your subsequent response acknowledges….so I stand by my reading of your argument as you have stated it here.

    Cordially,

    Pat

  131. Pat says:

    Sorry – forgot the tags were all to pot here (intrinsically disordered perhaps? :lol: ) So in case it is not sufficiently clear, the ‘highlighted phrase’ referred to above is

    overstepped into it’s own errors, bringing with it

  132. stcoomk says:

    DGS: “With this in mind, I think the conservative position I am taking is still the most biblical
    (and correct, but we should test in the real world) within the bounds of your two foundational principles.”

    I think this is the heart of the argument. Many here (myself included) seem to think that your position doesn’t pass the test of loving your neighbour. In my opinion, there are debatable priniciples such as “the value of the created order and purpose of male/female”, but the commandment to love you neighbour is more clear-cut.

    “1. He already has – homosexuality is a sin, and church leaders have clear criteria in the bible, which include ‘being the husband of one wife.’

    2. He already has – the NT gives enough instruction and examples for us to know better.

    3. You can’t spell out every possible scenario, which is why principles matter.

    4. If the Bible were merely a didactic book, it would lose so much of it’s power, applicability, and depth. See Why are the scriptures not written more plainly?

    5. Those who are not regenerated, and who do not love both God and their neighbor can’t know the truths even when put in front of them.”

    #1, #2 – if the bible is so clear on the matter, why do you think that so many have interpreted it differently from you? (Not a rhetorical question.)

    Incidentally, what is the origin of ‘being the husband of one wife’? I have searched for the oft-quoted “biblical principle of marriage” but have never found it.

    #3 – my point exactly. Scripture doesn’t address the scenario of monogamous, loving homosexual relationships, which is why we turn to the principle of loving our neighbour.

    #4 – I skimmed your article, it seems like a good piece of work. However, I note that one of your key conclusions is “the scriptures [are] presented in the manner that they are [...] To make the truths somewhat hard to find so that men would make an effort to seek God and work for truth, rather than just giving it away cheaply, and in so doing, cause men to take it for granted.”

    How do you sqaure that with the fact that, in this particular case, you are taking your cue from what I would say is a fairly straightforward reading of commandments? In a sense, your truths in this case are ones that are given away cheaply… one could suggest that therefore you haven’t found the true truth.

    (I could also be whimsical and suggest that the above only applies to men – women have no problem finding truth in scripture :) But I appreciate that your essay is grounded in the language of the 1600s (for good reason)).

    So I think your answer to my question “why doesn’t God just tell people the right answer?” is, in simple terms, that scripture is clear enough already. I guess we have to disagree on that. :)

  133. stcoomk says:

    “Incidentally, what is the origin of ‘being the husband of one wife’? I have searched for the oft-quoted “biblical principle of marriage” but have never found it.” – OK, I googled it. But the depth of discussion about it revealed by my search suggests that the criteria are far from clear.

  134. Pat says:

    Hi stcoomk, it’s one element of a much longer list in 1 Tim 3 outlining the necessary attributes of those who aspire to be overseers and deacons in the church. Regarding the first position, Verse 2 says

    Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self- controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

    and regarding the latter, the corresponding instruction comes in Verse 12

    A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.

    Then there’s an almost identical admonition in Titus 1:6 for those reckoned to be called as elders

    An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.

    That’s it as far as I recall.

  135. Wow, what an immense thread! DGS are you having a bet or something? See how many conservative issues you can cram into one discussion? All we need to do is work in something about gun control and you’ve got a full house :D

    All the issues you mention above regarding abortion, AIDS, Uganda etc seem to me to cry out about the problems inherent in a patriarchal society and the effect that has on the self worth of women and the way men view their authority. For instance, men could end abortion right now if they took responsibility for birth control – but they won’t because they feel they are entitled to unprotected sex, that it’s not their responsibility and because the woman isn’t an equal then respect and care paid to her is smaller than his own authoritative ego (generalising terribly of course). In Uganda it’s the empowering of women that is making the difference, education, access to healthcare – of course valuing marriage is fabulous too but in a patriarchal system where gender roles place the woman to be of less worth then why would the men take that seriously? I think the Muslims have a lot to teach us about gender roles. I remember once hearing an Imam talk about why they separate the men and women in the Mosque and he said that if there was a woman in front then the men would be thinking about her rather than god – that to me is an awesomely honest statement and one that i suspect is actually behind a lot of opposition to female leadership – it’s about the weakness of men rather than the gifts of women. Here’s a cartoon that cuts across all sorts of things:
    http://hurryupharry.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Moral-equivalence.jpg

    You mentioned much earlier about the undermining of manhood – i’m in my forties, i’ve grown up with all the changes in attitudes to gender and i feel that nothing is further from the truth. What men have lost is the right to feel superior and that means shedding all sorts of postures, attitudes and language – and rightly so. As these things are so ingrained in our culture it may make you feel disempowered or useless – it’s a bit like cold turkey after being an addict so i sympathise with the feeling of confusion that some men encounter. But once through it the world is a much better place. I feel more of a man to support my wife in whatever she wants to achieve in her life – i feel more of a man when we work as a team to build a happy home for our kids – i feel more of a man when i admit i was wrong and she forgives me. I feel more of man when i can do the things she needs. And i will feel more of a man as my kids grow up supporting them to be all they can be whether gay or straight, male or female. We hope to model a home where authority comes from mutual respect, love and humbleness so that our kids don’t have to worry about all this crap.

    Oh and guns are BAD (there see, i did it for you) except when i’m playing Modern Warfare 3.

  136. Pat says:

    Daniel,
    I have a further question for you based on something in your last response to stcoomk and wwhich has nothing to do with the actual subject matter under discussion regarding sexual morality etc. I approach this somewhat cautiously because I think, in light of the tone in some parts of this debate, its intent might all too easily be misinterpreted. So, for what it’s worth, I don’t ask this in any aggressive or destructive spirit, or to score theological points, but as one who has been a long-time contributor to asbojesus and who places a high value on the various functions it performs (some of which are considerably less overt than others) and who wishes to see it contunue as a place where people can contribute in different ways and find different sorts of encouragement, challenge and support according to their various needs.

    The phrase which caught my attention was this (you are responding as to why God does not give clearer answers)

    Those who are not regenerated, and who do not love both God and their neighbor can’t know the truths even when put in front of them. Would you accept that there is potentially a reverse direction implicit in this statement as you have phrased it i.e that those who donot understand or accept ‘ the truths even when put in front of them’ are therefore, by definition ‘not regenerated’ and ‘do not love both God and their neighbor’ ? And that moreover, when set against your own very emphatic insistence that the position which you have been expounding here represents the clear biblical teaching on homosexuality, feminism, the place of women etc etc, whilst that of others is in gross error and that they either willfully refuse to accept this or simply cannot recognise it, this conveys an extremely strong message?

    I guess my point is this – even if conveying that message is not your intent or indeed your belief, the way in which you put your case (from assorted perspectives – for example the high-value language you use to describe your own readings of the bible) in many of these discussions often has extremely negative subtexts about other contributors – even up to the point of calling into question their own status as ‘christian’ or ‘not christian’ – or perhaps, more potently we should employ the language of ‘saved’ or ‘not saved’ . And that is not something which makes for fruitful exchange……..

    Yours in the spirit of asbojesus

    Pat

  137. Pat says:

    Sorry – I completely missed a tag in that so it’s rather confusing as my words just continue on in the ‘quotaion’ (don’t know if jon can you delete it) :oops:

    Anyway – here’s the message again, hopefully set correctly :-D

    Daniel,
    I have a further question for you based on something in your last response to stcoomk and wwhich has nothing to do with the actual subject matter under discussion regarding sexual morality etc. I approach this somewhat cautiously because I think, in light of the tone in some parts of this debate, its intent might all too easily be misinterpreted. So, for what it’s worth, I don’t ask this in any aggressive or destructive spirit, or to score theological points, but as one who has been a long-time contributor to asbojesus and who places a high value on the various functions it performs (some of which are considerably less overt than others) and who wishes to see it contunue as a place where people can contribute in different ways and find different sorts of encouragement, challenge and support according to their various needs.

    The phrase which caught my attention was this (you are responding as to why God does not give clearer answers)

    Those who are not regenerated, and who do not love both God and their neighbor can’t know the truths even when put in front of them.

    Would you accept that there is potentially a reverse direction implicit in this statement as you have phrased it i.e that those who donot understand or accept ‘ the truths even when put in front of them’ are therefore, by definition ‘not regenerated’ and ‘do not love both God and their neighbor’ ? And that moreover, when set against your own very emphatic insistence that the position which you have been expounding here represents the clear biblical teaching on homosexuality, feminism, the place of women etc etc, whilst that of others is in gross error and that they either willfully refuse to accept this or simply cannot recognise it, this conveys an extremely strong message?

    I guess my point is this – even if conveying that message is not your intent or indeed your belief, the way in which you put your case (from assorted perspectives – for example the high-value language you use to describe your own readings of the bible) in many of these discussions often has extremely negative subtexts about other contributors – even up to the point of calling into question their own status as ‘christian’ or ‘not christian’ – or perhaps, more potently we should employ the language of ‘saved’ or ‘not saved’ . And that is not something which makes for fruitful exchange……..

    Yours in the spirit of asbojesus
    Pat

  138. jonbirch says:

    i think i’ll leave it as 2 posts, pat… as i thought it was a great response and worth repeating. :-)

  139. dgsinclair says:

    >> PAT: And that moreover, when set against your own very emphatic insistence that the position which you have been expounding here represents the clear biblical teaching on homosexuality, feminism, the place of women etc etc, whilst that of others is in gross error and that they either willfully refuse to accept this or simply cannot recognise it, this conveys an extremely strong message?

    I do not believe that I am equally emphatic about all of the subjects you mention above, and I think you are concatenating my various arguments and justifications into one, and in ways I do not intend.

    For example, my illustration about the need for regeneration for understanding scripture was in response to why the scriptures are not clear to many. It was not in direct response to those who disagree with my position on homosexuality, as if I was calling them possibly unregenerate.

    What I will admit to being emphatic about are the following:

    1. Applying reason to scripture, I think its condemnation of hx is clear.

    2. If you miss the connection between the ideas and history of the sexual revolution, feminism, abortion, birth control, promiscuity, the devaluation of life and nuclear family, you’re again, either unknowingly or self-deceived. Again, the connections, both good and bad, seem eminently clear.

    I also think it is anti-intellectual, dishonest, and destructive to ignore the connection between ideas and consequences, both good and bad. Just as I must admit that the idea of male headship (when abused) has led to patriarchal abuses and the oppression of women, those involved in the feminist movement, esp. it’s overreaches, must admit to the good and bad consequences of their ideas.

    To fail to do so is maddeningly dishonest, and both immature and unchristian (because it is lying and untruth).

    Other points, such as the reliability of scripture, its perspicuity, the meaning of questionable (as opposed to clear) passages (often of marginal import), or the finer points of textual criticism, I merely make some statements of my current position.

    For example, I don’t think my point about the need for regeneration and love being a requirement for properly understanding scripture are particularly controversial, do you? That’s one standard, orthodox answer to the problem of ambiguity in the scriptures.

    >> PAT: even up to the point of calling into question their own status as ‘christian’ or ‘not christian’

    I have nowhere done that, though I did indirectly question the intellectual rigor of those who fail to see the connection between ideas, their siblings, and their consequences, which I apologized for (in as much as it was an ad hominem – doubtless, some people DO make such an error, but I am not accusing anyone here who disagrees of such).

    One problem with such long comment threads is people miss who is replying to whom, and to what question (which I try to be clear about by quoting directly), and often, as you seem to have done above, answers to one question to other questions that they were not applied to.

    That’s one of the unfortunate limitations to this medium.

    >> PAT: or perhaps, more potently we should employ the language of ‘saved’ or ‘not saved’ .

    I think that is a relevant question to ask one another, but not a judgment or accusation we ought to make. In such discussions, it helps to know if a commenter is a believer or not. Sure, people disagree on what it means to be a believer, but that too is a separate discussion. If JF admits to being an antitheist, I have no problem asking him that. I do not here call anyone an unbeliever because they disagree with me.

    I do, however, question their (or my) use of hermeneutics and their (or my) view of the Bible if we disagree, and those are topics worthy of public discussion.

    I also think it reasonable to claim that reason can lead us to the most likely understanding of passages, and that “no scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:10), i.e. subjective.

    But it would be helpful to me – which of my retorts seem out of the spirit of the type of gentleness you are alluding to? I am not being facetious or setting you up for a gotcha, I am truly curious. I suspect that my choice of phrases is being misunderstood, due to either my poor choices, in some cases my acerbic approach, and in others, my lack of understanding of how the liberal mindset responds to frank discussions.

  140. dgsinclair says:

    One more thing. My defense of male headship has been very nuanced and moderate – I nowhere claim that the bible, or I say that women can’t hold positions of leadership in the church. However, I do complain about what appears to be the total rejection of such biblical truths (esp. its clear teachings on headship in marriage) here. Am I alone in noticing this?

  141. dgsinclair says:

    >> PAT: Would you accept that there is potentially a reverse direction implicit in this statement as you have phrased it i.e that those who do not understand or accept – the truths even when put in front of them’ are therefore, by definition ‘not regenerated’ and ‘do not love both God and their neighbor’ ?

    To answer this more specifically, while you could read that into what is said, I do not say it explicitly, nor do I imply it. I think that the most you can imply is that those who misunderstand scripture (v. those who disagree with me) may do so because they are unregenerate or fail to love. Such a rule, when read backwards, would also rightly include all participants, myself included.

    And again, this answer was given in the context of the clarity of scripture, not in the context of the debate on homosexuality elsewhere in this thread. The entire clarity of scripture discussion was a related, but side question.

  142. dgsinclair says:

    >> ROBIN: See how many conservative issues you can cram into one discussion? All we need to do is work in something about gun control and you’ve got a full house

    I have barely begun to bring in a full list. I merely mentioned the issues ideologically and historically related to gay ordination, esp. the sexual revolution and feminism, which championed abortion, no fault divorce, and recreational sex.

    As you remark, I have neglected to discuss just war theory (and gun control), the role of faith in politics, multiculturalism’s errors, esp. wrt Islam, and creationism. I’m holding those back for a better time :D.

    >> ROBIN: . For instance, men could end abortion right now if they took responsibility for birth control – but they won’t because they feel they are entitled to unprotected sex, that it’s not their responsibility and because the woman isn’t an equal then respect and care paid to her is smaller than his own authoritative ego (generalising terribly of course).

    First, I agree that the lack of male leadership (!) in sexuality is the biggest part of the problem. Most poverty, imo, is not primarily caused by outward systemic inequities, but in personal moral failure, esp. on the part of men who ought to be spiritual leaders.

    However, it takes two to tango. Are you telling me that women are not strong enough to demand respect and the use of condoms by their partners? That they don’t share responsibility in these crises?

    But while we are largely in agreement that men are a huge part of the problem with ‘unexpected’ pregnancy, I entirely disagree with your solution because it treats the symptom, not the cause. The real cause here is a lack of virtue that waits for maturity and marital comittment before having sex.

    As the Uganda example made painfully clear, promoting condom use, as with promoting pure abstinence, ignores human nature and does not work. What did work was the very biblical injuction “If you can not control yourself, get married, then have as much sex within marriage as you like.” (1 Cor 7:9)

    This is NOT a pure abstinence message, in that it does not prohibit sex. It merely requires a level of virtue and honesty that says “if you’re big enough to have sex, you’re big enough to find a mate.”

    The more we divorce these privileges (sex) from personal responsibility (as you decried among men above), the more we perpetuate the problem, condoms or not. IMO.

    >> ROBIN: of course valuing marriage is fabulous too but in a patriarchal system where gender roles place the woman to be of less worth then why would the men take that seriously?

    Agreed, but passing out condoms will neither solve the AIDS/pregnancy problem, nor solve the problem of patriarchy. I am all for practical solutions if the ideal ones can not yet be rolled out, and perhaps condom use is part of that.

    But that’s a band aid, and not a real solution.

    >> ROBIN: think the Muslims have a lot to teach us about gender roles. I remember once hearing an Imam talk about why they separate the men and women in the Mosque and he said that if there was a woman in front then the men would be thinking about her rather than god – that to me is an awesomely honest statement and one that i suspect is actually behind a lot of opposition to female leadership

    While that has the appearance of wisdom, what it is really saying is that men have little ability or responsibility to control their lust, so we should make women second class citizens, and make sure they don’t have the freedom to show ANY of their bodies in public. Why do you not rather admit the Christian wisdom that both men and women should flee lust in their hearts, and both be modest in their attire?

    Islam is not wise or free, it’s hellish bondage. But you brought it up, not me.

    >> ROBIN: What men have lost is the right to feel superior and that means shedding all sorts of postures, attitudes and language – and rightly so.

    Like feminism before you, you seem to have mistaken the false masculine for the true, and in failing to discriminate between them, have merely attempted (and succeeded) in destroying both. This is one of the primary and significant mistakes of feminism. I have preached on Restoring the True Masculine, but have not put that mp3 up yet. However, I started to write on it in Healing Injured Masculinity.

    Also see:
    The need for virile masculine spiritual leadership
    How feminized education harms boys
    Heresy precedes the acceptance of homosexuality

    And now, I get stopped by the spam filter for too many links… :D

  143. dgsinclair says:

    Jon, I think in included too many links and got a comment caught in the spam filter again :(

  144. Pat says:

    Daniel, I think what I am trying to say is that you appear to be rather unaware of how you come across in the context of these discussions here – and your latest responses merely confirm that impression. But this is something which is hard to explain if you yourself cannot see it. For example I would say that a phrase such as

    my lack of understanding of how the liberal mindset responds to frank discussions.

    has various implicit subtexts which could be seen as rather derogatory or condescending and thus immediately runs the risk of putting you on the wrong foot with people.

    On your charge that I have simply concatenated or misrepresented your specific arguments, can I suggest that you re-read what I actually said. I was in fact making a general point about how your insistence on the correctness of your own interpretation of scripture carries with it implications which then play out in other things you say. I nowhere suggested that you were making a specific comment that those who accepted homosexuality were ipso facto unregenerated. What I did was to take a general response you made to a general question viz ‘why doesn’t God say what he wants more clearly?’ – to which one of your suggestions was that

    Those who are not regenerated, and who do not love both God and their neighbor can’t know the truths even when put in front of them.

    and suggested that your own insistence in the arguments on this thread that your position represented the plain meaning of scripture and that others were either unable to see that or wilfully (for various reasons) espousing readings of the texts which were clearly in error, when taken in conjunction with the comment quoted above, could be seen as implying that those who took a different view to you (after all you have insisted that you are presenting ‘the truth’ as revealed by the Bible on these matters) were in fact unregenerated (with all the added baggage that seems to carry with it!).

    It was merely an illustration of how you often appear to be unaware of how some of things you say can sound to others. Followed by the suggestion that this may be why you sometimes find people to be somewhat unreceptive to what you are trying to say, if not frankly hostile on occision, This may be primarily an issue of cultural difference I don’t know, but whatever it is I think that if you really want to engage with those who are of a diiferent persuasion to you (which I’m assuming to be the case given your chose profession and your presence ion sites such as this) then you may need to find ways of being more sensitive as to how you sound, both in the content of your discourse and in the manner in which you deliver it.

    Yours in a spirit of christian friendship

    Pat

  145. dgsinclair says:

    >> PAT: has various implicit subtexts which could be seen as rather derogatory or condescending and thus immediately runs the risk of putting you on the wrong foot with people.

    Yes, i thought about that one particular line after i posted, and I do have to take time to remove the snark from my thinking. I do give in to such jabs, and I am aware of it. Character flaw I am working on. Any others?

  146. dgsinclair says:

    >> PAT: Followed by the suggestion that this may be why you sometimes find people to be somewhat unreceptive to what you are trying to say, if not frankly hostile on occision

    So are you saying I might be missing agreement on my points because of my tone? I can work on that. Thank you.

  147. dgsinclair says:

    And can you scold JF for the same, or is he easier to miss because he is more liberal? Just asking (and probably doing it again :)

  148. >>DGS – “I have barely begun to bring in a full list.”

    i was teasing :)

    >>DGS – “Most poverty, imo, is not primarily caused by outward systemic inequities, but in personal moral failure, esp. on the part of men who ought to be spiritual leaders.”

    poverty is caused by moral failure?

    >>DGS – “Are you telling me that women are not strong enough to demand respect and the use of condoms by their partners? That they don’t share responsibility in these crises?”

    Women are strong enough, sure, but in the patriarchal system they are not empowered to be so. I think you greatly misunderstand the negative effects of your gender roles and how disastrous it can be for self-esteem.

    >>DGS – “The real cause here is a lack of virtue that waits for maturity and marital comittment before having sex.”

    Ah, sex outside marriage, the ultimate sin – if only gay people could get married they’d be a lot less sin to worry about. Did you know that on average, people who take the purity pledge as teens delay sexual intimacy by about 1 year? Can’t find my original source on that but here’s the right wing Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1102735/Why-chastity-pledges-U-S-teenagers-dont-ring-true.html
    It’s also interesting to note that they are less likely to use birth control….
    So, i get your demands for virtue and i can see, yes, if we were all allocated spouses at birth and trained ourselves to only desire a single other then many of the current sexual problems would go away, but i imagine we’d create different ones. Flogging a dead horse springs to mind. You go on about “reason” and yet don’t seem to stumble upon it when something of yours is not working – your solution is to flog harder, try more, work those poor children into the ground and keep loading up their burdens. Kids are going to have sex, it’s what they do and i would rather listen to them, educate them and protect them than pretend it’s not going to happen if we pray and preach hard enough. Do i believe that we need to change the way we see sex as christians – yes completely. I believe that relationships are important, emotions, love, intimacy and that sex can be a load of fun. Is it “best” with one person – how could you ever tell?

    >>DGS – “Agreed, but passing out condoms will neither solve the AIDS/pregnancy problem, nor solve the problem of patriarchy.”

    Condoms have been a fantastic success story in preventing AIDS from becoming a huge problem in the western world. It can do the same elsewhere, but it requires education and respect for both men and women. And hey look i got you to say that patriarchy is a problem :)

    I don’t really care what you think about Islam – it’s was an interesting thing to say with an honesty that you find unpalatable so you throw it into the flames.

    >>DGS – “Like feminism before you, you seem to have mistaken the false masculine for the true, and in failing to discriminate between them, have merely attempted (and succeeded) in destroying both.”

    I’ve done what? Destroyed who exactly? I’m sorry mate but those links are simply awful, just bonkers – you must live in such fear of change, desperate to keep the status quo as you see it. I thought Driscol was an idiot but he’s probably liberal in your view. Wow, just wow. I’m a man and i’m embarrassed by these articles – i think the spam filter was acting out of mercy.

  149. Pat says:

    Daniel – I have too many character flaws of my own to run the risk of making lists of those I think others have – in a public domain at any rate :lol:

    It’s certainly not my intention to scold (it’s ok – I know you are teasing!). My own reserch endeavours involve mainly transdisciplinary work so I spend a lot of time in assorted contexts where people with very different knowledge bases and metaphysical frameworks are endeavouring to connect up. That inevitably involves a lot of attention to language usage, unexamined metaphysical pre-commitments and other assorted assumptions and I am aware of how much giving scrupulous attention to these things improves the possibilities of making progress in discussion (which is not of course synonymous with getting everyone else to accept your viewpoint!) So I think it’s always worth trying to be self-reflexive when engaging in debate, and asking oneself also what it is one is trying to achieve in any contribution.

    For the record, I also think that debate becomes far more likely to be fruitful and break truly new ground once we stop assuming reflex ‘defend the redoubt’ postures the moment someone says anything which even remotely challenges our cherished notions or our disciplinary or doctrinal strongholds – and that’s a comment aimed at all positions on the spectrum, not just conservative ones :-)

    Pat

  150. dgsinclair says:

    Sorry Joh, another comment caught in teh spam filter ..

  151. dgsinclair says:

    Doh, sorry, the stuff about islam was in my text doc, was supposed to take it out before i posted…

  152. jonbirch says:

    sorry dgs… not rescuing you from the spam filter this time. you’re just gonna have to be more disciplined. everyone else manages just fine and i know you can to if you try really hard. :-)

  153. dgsinclair says:

    >> ROBIN: poverty is caused by moral failure?

    Yes. While there are two factors – external and internal – I think more weight should be put on personal responsibility rather than blaming external factors. It used to be called ‘virtue’ – that is, hard work. Or as Ron Sider says in his excellent book Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America:

    poverty is not the lone or leading cause of America’s other social ills, and poverty is often the consequence of an individual’s own morally myopic life choices (for example, dropping out of school, experimenting with illegal drugs, having sex outside of marriage, abandoning one’s children)….

    The real problem…is “behavioral poverty” – single parenthood, a declining work ethic, and accompanying social decay due to drugs and crime. In America’s Failed $5.4 Trillion War on Poverty, Rector argues that it is precisely the government’s anti-poverty (welfare) programs that have destroyed the family, the work ethic, and poor communities .

    But just to let you know Sider’s not some rabid conservative, he also writes:

    I will argue that there are four broad causes of poverty: structural causes; personal decisions and misguided behavioral patterns; sudden catastrophes; and permanent disabilities.

    >> ROBIN: Women are strong enough, sure, but in the patriarchal system they are not empowered to be so. I think you greatly misunderstand the negative effects of your gender roles and how disastrous it can be for self-esteem.

    I don’t think it’s a problem with gender roles as a useful concept, but with overly rigid ones that are formed more by culture than by biology (created design, if you will). I agree that the former type are destructive to women’s souls, but to fail to appreciate and value the male/female distcinctives is the equal and opposite error, which I believe feminism fell into in its later stages.

    >> ROBIN: Ah, sex outside marriage, the ultimate sin – if only gay people could get married they’d be a lot less sin to worry about.

    You are confusing two sins here – sex outside of marriage and other sexual sins – moving other sexual sins into marriage won’t cleanse them of their sinfulness.

    >> ROBIN: Did you know that on average, people who take the purity pledge as teens delay sexual intimacy by about 1 year?

    Yes, abstinence programs have had limited success, though they do seem to be successful in delaying sex, which can lead to better outcomes long term, like less disease. However, the lack of success in these programs does not mean that pre-marital sex is less damaging or sinful,any more than our failure to curb drug use or violence is a reason to make them legal or acceptable.

    Perhaps our efforts at producing virtue have the right goal in mind, but the wrong means. Since this sexual activity may reflect valid needs, perhaps we ought to look at how to meet those needs legitimately.

    As you may know, for example, girls who have a good relationship with their father actual begin menses later than average, and as a result, delay sexual behavior, and as a result, suffer less disease and other complications. See the links in the following two posts for more.
    A whole host of unmet needs is probably behind the inability of young people to wait for marriage, including lack of loving parenting, delayed marriage, hopelessness, sexual abuse, lack of positive role models and a plethora of negative ones, and just plain lack of inspiring life instruction and wisdom.

    To summarize, i don’t think that abstinence is an unhealthy, unnatural or unobtainable goal – it’s just that we need to address the root factors. I still think the most practical and wise instruction we can give is Paul’s injuction in 1 Corinthians 7:

    It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.

    But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

    Expecting chastity is no more antiquated or unreasonable than expecting other difficult virtues like honesty, industry, charity, or patience.

    >> ROBIN: Kids are going to have sex, it’s what they do and i would rather listen to them, educate them and protect them than pretend it’s not going to happen if we pray and preach hard enough.

    Both of these methods are mistaken when taken separately. And we can NOT adopt the world’s values or sinful means to reach valid ends. And, if our means, like our abstinence programs are not working, they need examination as to why, not rejection and adoption of the worldly, sinful ‘safe sex’ mantra.

  154. dgsinclair says:

    OK, so I realized that i omitted the introduction to the links above when dissecting my comments to avoid the spam filter.

    Another problem behind premarital sex may be that we in the West are delaying marriage for ungodly reasons (like material acquisition), and perhaps that is part of the problem. Conservative Christian pastor and thinker Al Mohler has written much on this trend, and how it may be unChristian.

    NOW go look/listen to the links above. Thank you for your patience.

  155. jonbirch says:

    checked out mohler. couldnt get the audio for some reason, so read some of the website. we disagree on some basic stuff. but heck, no surprises there.

    the only way of making the future brighter is by engaging in relationship and being there in the real struggles people face. if there is a lack of parenting, what use is pointing the finger? it’s just judgmental and puts even more pressure on people who are under quite enough strain already. love, love and love again… and if that didn’t work, love some more… and if there’s no joy, keep loving. love the impossible to love… help where you can, weep where you can’t. cry for the mother who aborted her unborn child as you do her unborn child. it’s complicated… politics won’t fix it… institutions alone won’t fix it. if all those who were so morally right got off there morally righteous arses i wonder what good might happen. but no, far more important to quote texts and spout babble and clang and spout and babble again. and that goes for liberals, conservatives, catholics, jehovah’s witnesses, or anyone else who claims they know god and loves to babble.

    and it has nothing to do with female bishops, lesbian or otherwise and everything to do with people not giving enough of a shit about their neighbour… basic christian principle.

    i will now wind my neck in. :-)

  156. robin vincent says:

    Some thoughts…

    Luke 11:46
    New International Version (NIV)
    46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

    John 9
    1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
    3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world

    Matthew 5
    You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

  157. dgsinclair says:

    Robin, are you saying we should be nice to gays because they have a congenital deficiency akin to blindness?

  158. dgsinclair says:

    >> JON: if there is a lack of parenting, what use is pointing the finger?

    We are not pointing the finger at them, we are pointing to both the cause (so we can work on removing this cause from society), and we MUST point to the victim, whose ongoing anti-social, destructive, or codependent behaviors, initially created to protect them from the cause, are now no longer serving them. When they were immature, we understood, but now, they must OWN their behaviors, forgive, and we need to stop being enablers of their bad behaviors. We understand, we empathize, and we gently, yet clearly correct. We do NOT poo-poo the sin which continues to hurt them and their families, and treat them with ‘loving bandaids’ that fail to deal with the problem. I think that is loving, lazy cowardice, not real love at all.

  159. dgsinclair says:

    >> JON: if all those who were so morally right got off there morally righteous arses

    Maybe you are unaware of the hundreds of FREE, non-governmentally supported, volunteer staffed, Christian pregnancy centers all around the country giving clothing, food, parenting instruction, pregnancy tests, and adoption services to unwed mothers.

    But we know that we must do more than to help today’s victims, we must prevent tomorrow’s – which is why we must clearly articulate and support solutions which include righteous choices, not murderous ones like abortion, or immoral and anti-marriage ones like normalized ‘safe sex’ (not entirely safe at all).

    It is maddening to me how the liberal perspective hides in love and squeamishly abandons truth (accept for the ones that support its hiding, like ‘don’t judge.’). It’s just as maddening as the far right position which only talks about the truths of sin and personal responsibility – we need both, and that is what I am advocating.

  160. dgsinclair says:

    And to sum up the original ideas I wanted to present in response to this excellent cartoon:

    1. Appointing female bishops is questionable from a biblical standpoint, and liberals must stop ignoring the truths of created order and male headship, and have a reasoned response to such arguments, rather than a knee-jerk amazement that people ‘still think that way.’

    2. Christians need to acknowledge and appreciate the differences between male and female rather than shying away out of misplaced egalitarianism.

    3. Condoning homosexuality has consequences beyond being nice to gays, and a good argument can be made for negative impacts of such affirmation, not the least of which is that it is sinful, from a bible perspective.

    4. It is possible to be kind to sinners (gays, adulterers, murderers, liars, and the like mentioned together in 1 Timothy) without condoning said behaviors. And just because they are mentioned together does not mean that they are of the same importance or sinfulness.

    I am ready for another discussion unless something new comes up here.

  161. >>DGS “Robin, are you saying we should be nice to gays because they have a congenital deficiency akin to blindness?”

    No, but you can be the blind guy in the story if you wish :)
    I was highlighting what Jesus had to say about sinful cause and effect.

    The difficulty any discussion is going to have is that you approach the bible and concepts of “truth” very differently. I imagine many of the people here grew up accepting much of what you say to be the normal stuff of christianity – i did – but at some point, like in my life, something becomes unhinged and the neat little package of christianity, of who’s in and who’s out, what sin is, who makes that call and how it works seems to unravel. For a lot of people it’s the point at which they walk away from the church in disgust and disappointment. For me it was an awesome revelation of the holy spirit in my life – it was exactly like being blind and now being able to see – like scales fell off my eyes and i could finally see the bible differently – not as a rule book, a list of demands or the sole source of truth, but as a living breathing collection of stories, poems, songs, letters and accounts that point to god from our brokeness. When i was able to shed my old attitude to the bible it was like the angels were having a party and i’ve been a source of trouble to many people ever since :)

    You said “hide in love”, isn’t that the most awesome term, what a fabulous thing that we would hide in the bosom of our god – when truth becomes pliable, when accepted truth fails and doubt rushes in where better to hold onto? And while i’m hiding doubt becomes a friend, it becomes a strength, it becomes the means by which i can own my fractured faith. It’s like a re-writing of “Footprints” where in the time that there was only one set of footprints in the sand, it wasn’t where Jesus carried me, it was when i carried my belief, when there was nothing else to support this faith i have.

    A little while back i said as a question “poverty is caused by moral failure?” in response to your statement to that affect. What i completely failed to do was add a further comment which i had intended to. Basically that it was a very interesting thing to say and that actually and ultimately you’re almost completely right. It’s the moral failure of people in power who favour the rich and ignore the poor, it’s the moral failure of industry and corporations who rape the planet for all its resources and fail to take proper care of pollution and emissions, it’s the moral failure of employers too interested in profit to pay their employees a liveable wage, it’s the moral failure of the food industry to make addictive, sugar laden, processed food far cheaper than fresh fruit and veg, it’s the moral failure of churches who build huge buildings and publishing empires and flash cars while people in their parish can’t afford basic healthcare or education, it’s the moral failure of an education system that saves the best for the rich, it’s the moral failure of society that tells us that money is the most important thing in life and is the only measurement of success. These things create poverty – so we can at least agree on that. There’s the old saying that if you give a man a fish you’ll feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and he’ll feed himself for a lifetime – this assumes that the fish stocks haven’t been industrially fished into non-existence and that the local factories haven’t poisoned the water – it also assumes that the man (usually african) is an idiot and we’re oh so clever.

    Let’s look at your points (remember that i don’t read the bible in the same way and so i’m not going to give answers that’ll fit into your world very well).

    >>DGS “1. Appointing female bishops is questionable from a biblical standpoint, and liberals must stop ignoring the truths of created order and male headship, and have a reasoned response to such arguments, rather than a knee-jerk amazement that people ‘still think that way.’ ”

    If it’s a biblical standpoint you want then women should not have any input into church at all – they should remain silent, should be in another part of the building, and certainly shouldn’t be teaching sunday school – why do you let that happen? Why do you go against what the bible says so clearly? I don’t understand what “created order” means – i’m assuming you’re talking about Genesis and the creation story? If you’re talking about “natural order” then shouldn’t the whole of creation mirror this awesome order of orderliness – birds, mammals, insects? They don’t seem to. I have no problem with a couple wanting to arrange their roles in such a way that it gives the impression of male headship – i just feel that actually that’s not really what happens. In my book, in any male/female relationship the woman holds the keys to my sexual needs and so she will always be in authority if she wishes to be. Personally me and my wife work out our roles as we go, we submit to one another and authority lies in the love we show, not by some pre-ordained order. I’m i saying the bible is in error? No, you can follow that if you like – as with so much of the scriptures it’s there as the least you can do – there’s so much more in love.

    >>DGS “2. Christians need to acknowledge and appreciate the differences between male and female rather than shying away out of misplaced egalitarianism.”

    People are different – there you are, we agree. You have mentioned a few times about feminism and how it’s gone too far. I’m not sure what feminism you’ve been looking at but my experience of any gender discussion is that there is no pursuit or desire for “sameness”. We all revel in our individuality – the demand is for equality – that means equality of rights, equality of opportunity and equality of respect – not cloning. Everyone has skills and gifts, strengths and weaknesses and they should be allowed to nurture those skills as they see fit – gender is irrelevant to that pursuit. Male and female are just traits and there are certainly not just two, there’s a whole scale of masculinity and femininity that mixes and intertwines. Am i different from a woman? Yes, physically in some respects, but mentally i’m as different as i am from other men – your ideas of masculinity are certainly foreign to me – we’re different, people are different, we love that they are.

    >>DGS “3. Condoning homosexuality has consequences beyond being nice to gays, and a good argument can be made for negative impacts of such affirmation, not the least of which is that it is sinful, from a bible perspective.”

    This is one of the things that broke me out of my previous fruitless approach to scripture. I cannot work out how people can take a line from Leviticus and ignore all the rest. I’ve never understood or heard a good answer to why some of the “moral law” is important to keep now and the dietary ones and temple ones are not – makes no sense to me. Jesus always challenged the law when he came to it – he saw the law as a starting point, not the final word. He constantly broke convention when it came to the law and sexuality in particular. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality but he did have a lot to say about money and taxes, but we would rather argue over things he didn’t say than give all our money away to the poor or pay taxes. As a side note i think we lack the language to talk about sin in our culture – it doesn’t really mean anything. Paul got really close to getting rid of the word altogether in his thoughts about grace – and he probably should have, but we all have a desire for boundaries and structure to some degree.

    Negative impact of sexuality is largely due to it being driven underground. It’s the same with underage sex – because we fail to deal with it effectively it puts itself in a place of danger and ignorance. If we accepted homosexuality as the god given gender it is and allowed gay marriage it would give the church a place and a platform to help these people make the right relationship choices – we’d have some to say about monogamy about commitment about family, about covenant all of which would be of benefit to gay couples and the kingdom of god. Currently the church has nothing to say accept that it is sinful and you wonder why there may be some negative impacts?

    >>DGS “4. It is possible to be kind to sinners (gays, adulterers, murderers, liars, and the like mentioned together in 1 Timothy) without condoning said behaviors. And just because they are mentioned together does not mean that they are of the same importance or sinfulness.”

    That’s so nice of you, i’m sure the gay community is very touched that you condone to be kind to these poor buggers. Your quote from Timothy is misjudged.

    You have no good news for gay people, that much is clear. Even where you see the fruitlessness of trying to cure gays in your own experience you won’t pause and question your rigid belief structure – you find it “troubling” which is a good sign – i’d say that’s god trying to talk to you. God has moved on, society has moved on, it would be great if more of the church could as well.

  162. JF says:

    DGS – I don’t doubt for a moment that you are ready to move on to other discussions. You’ve had your say and aren’t interested in responses. I wanted to respond in detail but I think that would take too long and I honestly believe it would be wasted time as you have a very closed mind. I read your piece on why Christianity is more likely to be true than other religions. It is very poor & wouldn’t stand up in a high school debating society. But I don’t want to clog up this thread with a dissection of it as it is not really salient to the discussion that has emerged.

    To get to the point, I just have to say I am not particularly bothered by your ‘tone’ (although it is extremely boorish); instead I am quite aghast at the utterly reprehensible views you hold. I cannot express my rejection of your views strongly enough.

    Perhaps that’s what Christianity is to you: the offer of a thin veneer of respectability draped over the horrifically warped, evil view that you have of nature and of your fellow man? Your writings and expressed views seem structured in order to try to make the case that there is only one correct view that can be deduced from the bible. This picking and choosing your texts is the perfect, myopic approach in looking for external/divine justification for your hateful opinions.

    ASBO Jesus serves for me as an interesting study of the world of faith and belief. Thinking about this thread, the insight I have gained is around the nature of those few religions that still survive where over 100,000 have disappeared. What they seem to have in common is that 1) they are constantly manoeuvring and re-positioning themselves into metaphysical territory that is difficult to define and therefore to disprove (this comes also from listening to the Archbishop of C recently on TV and radio) and 2) very importantly – and this stares at me out of this thread – they have the attraction of being all things to all men. Thus, whether we are talking about Islam or Christianity, everyone from the pacifist to the terrorist can find themselves a niche.
    It is evident on this thread that from the same ‘holy texts’… from the same jumble of ‘special words’ (like ‘grace’, ‘biblical’, ‘sin’ etc.) that are far removed from normal everyday language)… from the same , two people with fundamentally different world views can still ‘find themselves’ under the umbrella of Christianity.

    If I may take the liberty with DGS and Robin Vincent, I would say that you two seem to agree on very little in this world. Yet you have both decided that you want to seek for meaning in the same ‘place’, using the same sources, the same texts, using a lot of the same ideas… and as different as your starting positions are, so are your conclusions from reading the bible also strikingly different. This I find fascinating and revealing.

    For me, the other important word here is ‘truth’. For me, truth has to go hand in hand with honesty, especially honesty about whether one’s convictions are shaped by reading the bible, or whether one’s reading of the bible is shaped by one’s convictions. If you cannot be honest about that, then you will not find truth no matter how hard you believe you are looking for it.

  163. >> JF “If I may take the liberty with DGS and Robin Vincent”

    By all means :)

    >>JF “This I find fascinating and revealing.”

    Me too!

    >>JF “If you cannot be honest about that, then you will not find truth no matter how hard you believe you are looking for it.”

    For the record i am unable to divorce my reading of the bible from my experience of the world – one, for me, must inform on the other – actively so. So yes my reading of the bible is absolutely shaped by my understanding of the world and my convictions within it – as, i believe, all reading of the bible is. My convictions, on the other hand, are greatly influenced by what i believe Jesus is trying to teach us – i guess it’s all a bit paradoxical. If i’ve been dishonest or unclear about that then i didn’t intend to be.

  164. dgsinclair says:

    >> ROBIN: You said “hide in love”, isn’t that the most awesome term, what a fabulous thing that we would hide in the bosom of our god – when truth becomes pliable, when accepted truth fails and doubt rushes in where better to hold onto?

    Unfortunately, while this is a nice phrase, in context, I did use it as you seem to have taken it – perhaps I should have said “hide in false concept of sentimentality masquerading as love,” the way that some people hide in faith in order to avoid responsibility.

    A better phrase, I would think is Paul’s use of “being found in His righteousness, not having one of my own.” But of course, that does not mean that I don’t also abandon sin.

    >> ROBIN: It’s the moral failure of people in power who favour the rich and ignore the poor, it’s the moral failure of industry

    While all of these players have a part in poverty (I included a quote that included 4 such influences in poverty), to avoid what may be the LARGEST one, the role of the person themselves, is the kind of thing I think we have avoided out of unbalanced, sentimental (instead of balances, realistic) ideas about what it means to be loving.

    If you continually point to external sources of your difficulty, this disempowers the person from ever making the virtuous choices that are REQUIRED for them to get out – you can overcome poverty without the help of better government or industry (though it may be more difficult), but if you never overcome laziness, dependence, drug use, sexual immorality and other sins, you won’t get out of poverty even if the system does change in your favor. Even thug rappers have to work hard to get out. Or work hard selling drugs (tragic joke).

    >> ROBIN: If it’s a biblical standpoint you want then women should not have any input into church at all – they should remain silent,

    That is not what I’ve said at all. I merely question having a female at the head of such organizations, as I would if the female was leading the family. I think there is biblical precedent for female deacons, teachers, evangelists, and prophets, and I would even give in to female associate pastors. But Sr. Pastor, Elder, and Bishops (not to mention Apostles) have a special leadership role which I think is against the created order, and this is why you see SOME references to limiting the role of women.

    And while I would not call anyone apostate for wanting to appoint or have a female sr. pastor or bishop, I think any unrepentant sexual sin, including hx, disqualifies anyone from any church office, scripturally speaking.

    >> ROBIN: I have no problem with a couple wanting to arrange their roles in such a way that it gives the impression of male headship – i just feel that actually that’s not really what happens.

    This is like giving the impression of being godly, but not really being so. That’s not the issue. A balanced position on male headship that neglects neither mutual submission as believers NOR a wife’s submission to her husband as such, is what is biblical. To ignore the latter is the same type of heresy as ignoring the former. And I do mean heresy.

    >> ROBIN: People are different – there you are, we agree.

    But I am not talking about random, genderless people. I am talking about real GENDER distinctives – some qualities we share as humans, others we do NOT. A man can’t have a baby. Never. Does that make him inferior? No. Similar characteristics exist in our psychological, even spiritual makeup, and the Bible recognizes and affirms these as good. Why can’t you?

    I can not believe how long you went on about differences in individuals, which is not the point in contention at all – it’s just a red herring.

    >> ROBIN: the demand is for equality – that means equality of rights, equality of opportunity and equality of respect – not cloning.

    I’m with you, that’s what feminism started out as. However, male hating bigots who took over the later stages of feminism (which often happens when a reform organization has largely accomplished its purpose and has lived on past its usefulness, cf. the NAACP) actually pushed for sameness as synonymous with equality, and in doing so, damaged our society, and our men. To a large extent, the lack of responsible fatherhood is an effect of this myopic anti-male view, and part of the blame belongs on feminist views (see, I can blame the system instead of the individual sometimes :).

    >> ROBIN: your ideas of masculinity are certainly foreign to me

    They you may be estranged from the true masculine entirely, at least intellectually. I commend to you my incomplete series Healing Injured Masculinity. Heck, even the secular men’s movements know about this stuff.

    >> ROBIN: I cannot work out how people can take a line from Leviticus and ignore all the rest.

    Homosexuality is also condemned in other scriptures. Not to mention, even nature teaches us that it is perverse.

    >> ROBIN: I’ve never understood or heard a good answer to why some of the ‘moral law’ is important to keep now and the dietary ones and temple ones are not – makes no sense to me.

    It is simple, I’ve answered this many times. There are four types of OT law, and Jesus fulfills them all, in one sense, but in another, both he and Paul affirm the goodness and rightness of the MORAL law beyond the others. Those types are:

    1. Dietary Law – Peter had a revelation that the dietary laws were no longer binding in the NT, and Paul confirmed it as mere foreshadowing of Christ – now that he has come, such laws do not matter anymore. They were for Israel, to make her distinct from other nations.

    2. Ceremonial Law – similar reason to above – symbolic, as Hebrews says, but not that Christ is here, these shadows do not matter.

    3. Moral Law – may commands, neither dietary or ceremonial, were moral. Don’t kill. Don’t commit idolatry. Don’s steal.

    4. Civil Law – Israel was a theocracy, and God gave them legal punishments for breaking ALL of the laws above.

    The reasons we don’t abide by the CIVIL PUNISHMENTS are:
    a. the first two types of laws don’t apply to us
    b. while the third type does, the NT establishes how we are to view government as Christians, and nowhere does it tell us to implement a theocracy.

    Instead, we see a separation of powers (give to Cesar), and at least three different scenarios as given by Paul, including (reference: Uneasy Neighbors – Church and State in the NT):

    - A critical-constructive stance is appropriate when the powers that be are attempting to achieve justice

    - A critical-transformative stance when authority errs, but can be realistically moved to salutory change

    - A critically resistive stance when the powers are responsible for demonic injustice or idolatry and refuse to be responsible to change

    >> ROBIN: He constantly broke convention when it came to the law and sexuality in particular. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality

    I don’t think he broke many conventions except for the stoning of the adulteress. He didn’t mention homosexuality, nor bestiality, nor incest, because they are so outside the pale of morality they do not need to be mentioned. That’s my guess, esp. since:

    (a) he still called adultery sinful (so by extension so would be homosexuality)
    (b) he never repudiated ANY of the OT, except maybe the allowance of polygamy
    (c) Paul the apostle DID mention it at least twice in the NT as sinful

    >> ROBIN: As a side note i think we lack the language to talk about sin in our culture – it doesn’t really mean anything. Paul got really close to getting rid of the word altogether in his thoughts about grace

    Hrm, I think you are reading Paul selectively. Just search for the word SIN and its synonyms in his writings. Heck, just read Romans 1, the intro to his longest and most doctrinal work.

    I’m sure talk of sin is unpopular, and perhaps even feels antiquated. But we do need a modern word for it, because it’s still true. They scoffed at Noah too, and probably for the same reasons.

    >> ROBIN: That’s so nice of you, i’m sure the gay community is very touched that you condone to be kind to these poor buggers. Your quote from Timothy is misjudged.

    I was just heading off a typical and poor objection to including the perversion of hx in the same list, as if it I or it implies that hx is on par with the other sins (hypocritically, when some ppl try to normalize hx among ‘lesser’ sins, they change their story from ‘some sins are worse than others’ to ‘all sin is the same,’ which is an equally vapid way to excuse hx).

    >> ROBIN: You have no good news for gay people, that much is clear.

    I do. They can be forgiven and changed. They can repent and be born again, just like every other sinner. Your news is “no you can’t, your’e stuck that way even if you don’t want to be.” Thankfully, many people have escaped that lie. Sadly, some have tried and failed.

    But we don’t okay drug addiction or depression or codependency just because people struggle. They are still illnesses. And so is homosexuality. It should be treated with counseling, as well as medicine if possible, just like other malformations of the psyche.

  165. dgsinclair says:

    >> JF: You’ve had your say and aren’t interested in responses.
    Whatever dude, just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I am not listening.

    >> JF: instead I am quite aghast at the utterly reprehensible views you hold.
    Yes, well I suspect you would say the same about the letters of Paul, so i am not worried.

    >> JF: Perhaps that’s what Christianity is to you: the offer of a thin veneer of respectability draped over the horrifically warped, evil view that you have of nature and of your fellow man?

    Dude, have you read Romans, ever? Man is both beautiful and fallen. And Jesus died to forgive sinners and transform them.

    >>JF: Thinking about this thread, the insight I have gained is around the nature of those few religions that still survive

    If you want to inform your opinion on why faith traditions survive, read Huston Smith’s Why Religion Matters or Newberg’s Born to Believe.

    >> JF: using the same sources, the same texts, using a lot of the same ideas… and as different as your starting positions are, so are your conclusions from reading the bible also strikingly different. This I find fascinating and revealing.

    That is interesting. You better stick to science, it’s safe.

  166. robin vincent says:

    —And so is homosexuality. It should be treated with counseling, as well as medicine if possible, just like other malformations of the psyche.

    Right, that’s it, you’ve just invalidated anything you could possibly say. You’re a monster. Enough.

  167. jonbirch says:

    “And so is homosexuality. It should be treated with counseling, as well as medicine if possible, just like other malformations of the psyche.”

    that is very, very disturbing and upsetting indeed. if that is your stance, there is no discussion possible.

  168. dgsinclair says:

    I guess if you consider hx a normal variant, than you might feel this stance is ‘monstrous.’ Again, I am shocked that you are shocked. What did you think the ‘homosexuality is sin’ position really is?

    And if you think that alcohol abuse, depression, and various types of anger are not normal variants, but conditions that require treatment, why would you expect that someone who views hx as a developmental disorder, an unnatural bio/psychological condition (as most evangelicals do), why would you think it would be exempt from the normal treatments?

    I’m not a little surprised at your over-reactions. It means that you are very naive, uninformed, or so not used to thinking things through that you don’t see these obvious conclusions?

    And listen, anyone who supports abortion (if that is your position) can claim the high ground on monstrous views. We’re not advocating sterilization, extermination of gays. We’re offering treatment here for those who want it. Monstrous? Really, that conclusion is amazing to me. Amazing. Maybe I am the naive one here.

  169. drdjp says:

    I’m reminded of the old piece of advice: never wrestle with a pig – you just get covered in shit and the pig kind of likes it anyway.

  170. stcoomk says:

    I disagree with your views DGS, but I think you are to be commended for sticking to your arguments relatively calmly and for openly and honestly stating your position. Interesting that it’s taken 170 posts for people to really lay their cards on the table.

  171. Brian D. McLaren
    ‎:: :: In the years ahead, the challenge for our faith will be when encountering others who grow increasingly – angry, reactionary, fearful and more combative – how do we become more courageous and at the same time more gracious? This is where true creative alternatives can be forged.

    He’s a better man than me.

  172. Pat says:

    It means that you are very naive, uninformed, or so not used to thinking things through that you don’t see these obvious conclusions?

    Daniel, I’m can only say, after reading this comment in your latest response, that it is perhaps you who are naive (at best) or staggeringly unreflexive and arrogant (at worst) if you can’t see why your style of ‘engagement’ alienates others and denies you the hearing and respect for your position which you crave.

  173. dgsinclair says:

    >> STC: I disagree with your views DGS, but I think you are to be commended for sticking to your arguments relatively calmly and for openly and honestly stating your position. Interesting that it’s taken 170 posts for people to really lay their cards on the table.

    Thank you very much, I appreciate that.

    ROBIN, I like that quote from McClaren, and I have a couple of this books. I like him, though don’t agree with him on some of his more liberal theological views, naturally.

    PAT, I’m sure you are correct. When frustrated at being misrepresented or not directly answered, or called ‘monstrous,’ I do tend to insult a bit. I guess that’s not helpful, but I do mean to imply that I am mystified by some responses, and wonder if there is some lack of intellectual honesty going on. I should believe the best, but sometimes I don’t.

  174. dgs i know that you like to have the last word (a typically monstrous trait) but can i qualify this a bit before you get to feel too oppressed as the only beacon of light in an otherwise hellish world. The level of injustice is likely to push me into retreating to that deep dark hole from whence i came and slowly rock back and forth on my haunches while whistling the entire Abba back catalogue.

    >>DGS “When frustrated at being misrepresented or not directly answered, or called ‘monstrous,’ I do tend to insult a bit.”

    It took 170 posts for you to pull an unkind word out of me – well done – i’m not proud of that but all other words seem to fail me. On the other hand you have called me “cheap”, “a liar”, “unchristian”, “lazy”, “ignorant”, “naive”, “dishonest”, “a heretic (and you do mean heretic)”, “un-masculine” (which i guess means feminine), and “against nature” with gay abandon and without provocation and long before i uttered the “m” word. So perhaps you shouldn’t find yourself feeling too morally superior.

    It’s true that your honesty is commendable, in the same way i commend the Westboro Baptist church for theirs. I wish more evangelicals were honest about the implications of what they believe about sin, homosexuality, heaven/hell because i often believe that it’s only when people come face to face with the horror of their religion can real change and transformation occur. Not always though, some people choose to embrace the horror and call it truth – which is where we come back to monsters again. And i don’t agree (as you stated) that most evangelicals believe as you do – that’s my stream of church and the vast majority struggle to know the answer and usually end up with the “love the sinner hate the sin” mantra which translates to “it’s ok to be gay, but please don’t practice it.” I don’t think that’s dishonest, i think that’s people genuinely trying to deal with the reality of what homosexuality is and how it doesn’t really fit in with what their church is claiming the bible teaches. To move in either direction is difficult and so the tension remains – that’s ok in my opinion.

    You talk about intellectual honesty. Here’s a personal challenge for you. Try entering a discussion using phrases like “i believe” or “in my view of scripture”, “in my experience” in place of “clearly the scripture says”, “the clear truth is”, “God has clearly stated that” and see whether that results in you having a more open and less combative discussion. Can you imagine how difficult it is having a conversation with someone who is constantly declaring “truth” which means by implication that everything said by anyone else is a lie? There’s little discussion to be had there mate. Don’t be mystified by the responses – we all live in hope that there is compassion under all the bluster – I always hope that somewhere under the interpretation there is doubt and uncertainty that can allow a heart to soften – so i assume that you aren’t really a monster and that discussion may be fruitful. But you stick to your enormously impressive and devastatingly honest guns and all hope is dashed. Oh well. If only there was a cure for monstrousness….. oh there is – the love of Christ! :p

  175. jonbirch says:

    dgs… as the author of this blog i feel it my duty to point out that often i too have felt very insulted by your tone and your name calling… so when it provokes a response in others i am not surprised. i’ve seen that you have been to one or two other posts decrying the lack of truth and real biblical understanding on this blog… because i hate the idea of censoring this blog and i also believe in freedom of speech (whether i want to hear it or not), i have allowed you to type reams and reams of stuff, much of which i disagree with passionately. far, far more than anyone else i might add. so please don’t feel picked on because of one emotional response. i too thought your views were ‘monstrous’ re the idea of medicating homosexuals, i was even going to say something far stronger than robin did in response, after which i would have had to shut down the comments on this thread, but robin thankfully negated my need to express it.
    certainly, if you look at this thread alone, you’ll see just how much you have written. your individual views have had a much bigger airing than anyone elses, but your arguments have failed to convince anyone here. it is up to you to work out why, but i do think people here have been very generous in suggesting why. there is the disagreement on how we engage with scripture, that is one thing, but there is the way of debating/arguing/relating which seems to be a big part of why you get nowhere. we read that you have no respect for the way others think, decide, live… i don’t need to elaborate any more as pat has put it much better than i ever could.
    the nature of my cartoons is to provoke discussion, but what works best is a place of utter respect. i want people to be able to just to write a sentence here and not feel judged because someone else doesn’t agree. everyone has something to bring to the life of another should they so choose, whether it be in expressing something or listening to someone. it is up to us how we engage with others. we are all less than we would like to be, and maybe that’s the best place to start in conversation.

  176. Pingback: Bees in My Bonnet: Blowing Up the Box « Unladylike Musings

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