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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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182 Responses to 788

  1. chris says:

    boys come and help us!
    girls come and help us!

    building up the temple of the l-o-r-d….

  2. Pingback: tasmission » Blog Archive » emerging church?

  3. Tiggy says:

    Is Chris drunk?

    I really think everyone would much rather Christians were tucked away safely in their churches on a Sunday rather than at large in the community, spoiling everyone’s fun and causing great embarassment.

  4. a reluctant blogger says:

    Could it be that the act of “coming out” for the homosexual part of the population just might be a valuable model for action to those that only keep their Christianity in the church??

    There are several community programs that churches either take part in or even initiate, and they aren’t all run with the goal of getting more souls to hold the banners of G-d.

    But, I hear what yer sayin’, man. And yes, a lot of Christians do need to come out of their own closets and into the world…

  5. maybe its because he/she didnt say in the “name” of Jeeessssssuuuussss!

  6. subo says:

    love it dennis, why do people speak like that? it leaves me feeling creepy

  7. Will says:

    thats becaus eit is creepy subo

  8. Will says:

    this is a huge mistake when we think of the church as a building and in order to get people to church they have to enter that building as good or bad as it may be.

    If the building isn’t church then what is? Can I suggest it is relationship and therefore this is not something you can say come to me and have friendship it has to take time and be honest and mutual.

    Something harder than putting on an event/service and drumming up business.

  9. Pingback: Exiles » Blog Archiv » Kommen oder gehen?

  10. Forrest says:

    How about we meet halfway?

  11. Robb says:

    I had this conversation with the vicar last week. The perception of what the church is like – unfriendly and holier than thou. I was told “but we’re not like that”.

    Yes but how would anyone ever find out if we don’t go out the door?

  12. subo says:

    it’s amazing Jon, how you’ve caught a sense of two worlds in this image

  13. beatthedrum says:

    A large number of churches do go out through the door and into the world. I know mine does and many others in my city.

    Some of course do not but they tend to be the dying traditional churches that are building focused as a whole.

    Church is about a gathering of people on a mission to show Jesus to the community(s) that they live in.

    Church is monday – Sunday living out the love of chirst for all people with those that you meet.

    IT IS ALSO gathering the church togetehr to worship Him who sent, Him who died and rose and Him who empowers.

    There is both the gathered church and the sent church. We have to realise that both are biblical and have to exist for the Good news of Gods Grace given through Jesus’ death and resurection to be effective in our communities.

    I get annoyed with those who say you dont have to go to a church.., yes you do.

    I get annoyed with those who say we musy hid in the church.. no we must not.

    I get up with people who continually knock the church because they dont like it, cannot relate to it, dont understand its purpose and who think it is there solely to meet their needs and wants.

    Get a grip, get with Jesus and get involved in a local church……

    and love those around you.

    annoyed of durham…… better known as beatthedrum

  14. Pingback: The Church and The World « Robb's Blog

  15. Pat says:

    beatthedrum – i’m pretty much in agreement with what you write here about the gathered and the sent church.

    However I must confess I was initially a bit stumped by ‘musy hid’ – womdered if it was some kind or arcane church practice…but then the light dawned! :lol:

  16. beatthedrum says:

    Sorry i typed too fast and didnt check it over Pat… one of my many failings…should have read MUST HIDE

  17. si says:

    reminds me a bit of nick cave’s ‘god is in the house’ :-)

  18. JF says:

    Si – exactly!
    “We WISH he would come out!”

  19. JF says:

    Not sure what you mean at (3), Tiggy? Spoiling people’s fun? How?

    When I was a frquent churchgoer, I used to wonder at how so many people who were very prominent within the church & its activities actually became totally ‘invisible’ (in terms of making a statement about their faith) outside of it.

  20. Tiggy says:

    Well if I’m going about my business at the weekend, I don’t want to be hassled by a bunch of Christians handing out tracts or shouting through a megaphone, or (God forbid) singing. I’d rather they kept a low profile.

  21. Sophie says:

    Ah, Tiggy, but what if they were doing something practical for the community? Like ‘The Noise’ when christians go out and paint over graffiti, or renovate youth centres or something else.

    I agree though I am really not a fan of megaphone evangelism.

  22. gilly says:

    Indeed….which is the more scary!

  23. Tiggy says:

    I don’t mind them getting rid of grafitti as long as they don’t sing while they’re doing it. I can’t see why this has to be done as a ‘Christian’ thing though – I’m sure a lot of people would be glad to join in with painting over it.

    I do object to being handed out leaflets in a pub saying how we’re all going to hell and are leading a dissolute lifestyle or being shouted at through a megaphone whilst trying to relax at a pavement cafe.

  24. Caroline Too says:

    In the Northumbria Community we talk of being ‘church without walls’

    I love that phrase

    doing caring for each other
    doing helping each other grow
    doing noticing the weak
    doing friendship

    being available to others
    being teachable

    and many other aspects of Christian life

    now, Tiggy, if you find those creepy, then you live in a different world to me

    and, of course, doing and being those things is just as meaningful to folks who are not Christian,
    which, of course, might just mean that our Christian faith might become recognisably relevant to
    others in their daily lives

    I don’t know if you’ve spotted this, Tiggy, but actually far more Christians spend a large part of their lives outside the church without ever singing ortouching a megaphone! (that’s not compulsory!

  25. Tiggy says:

    Just shivering at the thought of a church without walls in Northumbria.

    I distrust people’s motivations a lot, but don’t expect much positive from me at the moment – I’m just having an ‘I want to die’ day.

  26. danielg says:

    Jon,

    Brilliant. This has so many possible meanings.

    As many have mentioned, it could mean:
    - the church needs to go out and serve, not expect people to come to it
    - it needs to be salt and light, not be insular
    - it has to come clean on it’s sins

    And then there’s the whole gay thing. Ugh.

  27. subo says:

    ‘Just shivering at the thought of a church’ – how come church’s get soooo cold?

    having said that I love those ideas from on doing and being, thanks Caroline. and good to remember – we are supposed to be turning everything upside-down, or is it my (excessively bitchy) workplace that’s got things upside down?

    which got me thinking, church may feel like ‘lots of meetings to get to’, sometimes, but just imagine if the world dragged us into a consumerist paradise, how awful that might be?

    my favourite quote at the moment, is from Martin Laird, where he notes that our true selves are hidden in Christ, so whoever thinks they’ve ‘understood you’, is out of their depth, because – we are hidden in Christ., so my supervisor can keep her star signs and other psychometric measurements of my personality, she don’t know nothing

  28. Sophie says:

    I’m so sorry Tiggy, hope tomorrow is better for you. You’re right of course, that christians don’t have a monopoly on doing useful things. I just meant that they can do stuff other than hand out horrid leaflets and shout down megaphones when they’re not in church!

  29. Pat says:

    btd@16 – yeah, I sussed it was just a case of fleet fingers :-D

    I like the Northumbria Community take on it CarolineToo. I also like the Iona Community emphases on rebuilding the common life and of taking the church out into the world:

    ‘Take us outside the camp, Lord, outside holiness, out to where soldiers gamble, and thieves curse, and nations clash at the crossroads of the world.’

    as a prayer by George MacLeod puts it.

    In fact my favourite description of the church – and the one that challenges me most deeply – also comes from one of his prayers:

    ‘too often we have made your church an institution,
    when you want it to be a chaos of uncalculating love’

    I think ‘a chaos of uncalculating love’ is probably a pretty good account of God – and thus something for us to aspire to as Christians and as churches.

  30. Tiggy says:

    #26 Daniel: ‘And then there’s the whole gay thing. Ugh.’

    What the….? LOL

    I think really there are only three things to do on a Sunday morning in England:-

    1. Go to church
    2. Stay in bed
    3. Go to IKEA

    and I’m not a big fan of IKEA.

  31. JohnFOM says:

    Tiggy @ #30

    WHAT?! Ye missed out worshipping at the altar of the gods of horsepower. F1, BTCC, et al on the box. :P

    On a different note:
    Church without walls is an admirable and not-so-new idea (I’ve been hearing about it for about a decade now). I sometimes wonder if some of the expressions of it merely remove the physical walls, leaving the emotional/intellectual/social walls in place.

  32. Tiggy says:

    Well unless they come round and do my decorating, or help me collect items from Freecycle, I’m not really interested. Everything’s been too much of a struggle as it is.

  33. rockingRev says:

    Church without walls was also the name of a report done by the Church of Scotland ten years ago and we have been trying to put it in to action ever since. The trouble is getting around the minister orientated culture that says that ministry is the minister’s job so that they can see that the minister’s job is to equip the people to do ministry. I’m either going to get a church without walls where I am or a headache from bashing my head against a wall. At this point I do not know which will come first!

  34. Graham says:

    This cartoon makes me think so much- thank you….. ditto the comments: not knocking, insightful, gracious and thought provoking.

    The times in full time ordained ministry when I have got most stick (apart from suggesting that the ministers’ house whould be decent..)is when I have been involved with others in doing something outside the church walls.

    I used to get really angry about this (still do!)… then it kind of dawned on me that humans (me included) want their safety and their nest. Much of the force of the Bible/following Jesus seems to be a call to get out of the nest and ‘be a chaos of uncalculating love’ (comment 29).

    Off now….. I have to do a service of ‘musy hid’ (I love that misspelling!)

  35. I gave my notice at my church PCC last night. I don’t know if that’s coming out.

  36. Pat says:

    Did you feel relieved or sad tmtism?

  37. subo says:

    “2. Stay in bed”

    sometimes sun am is the only time to catch up with yr sleep, and is essential, lets keep thoses last few ‘stay at home’ sundays

  38. subo says:

    ‘Take us outside the camp, Lord, outside holiness, out to where soldiers gamble, and thieves curse, and nations clash at the crossroads of the world.’

    as a prayer by George MacLeod puts it.

    am a big fan Pat, thanks

  39. I feel relieved Pat. Inside has become the last place that I find God evident.

  40. Rosslyn says:

    I think the idea of a church-without-walls is a far older idea. The early Celtic Christian Church had a policy of going out to the people. Then there are the apostle’s who did not go to Church, but spread their faith through going out and, for the most part, simply being Christians.

    I think it is easy to forget that the early Church did not convert from soap boxes, with pamphlets or megaphones. The history of violent conversions are well known, but from the little I know of the Early Church in Rome most people were won over by the simple understanding, charity and love they found from Christians.

    I agree with Tiggy and Dennis to a point. However I think there is a risk of becoming ashamed of faith and faith works. People want to do things, they want to help and Church can give them the opportunity and the support to do those things. I don’t see a problem with those people wearing a t-shirt, having a banner or (horror of horror) having a song – I know the Scouts have one they sing when they go out in some areas.

    Just an idea. I hope you’re having a better day Tiggy. Good luck.

  41. Pat says:

    Yes – I can understand and relate to that. It was so for me also :-( Have you exit-ed completely – or just from certain aspects on institutional church life? I quit as church council member, steward and worship leader in one fell swoop and, although I retained my church membership, I haven’t been back since.

    I know I did the right thing, but it feels strange, after so many years, to not be involved in/committed to a local expression of the body of Christ :-(

  42. Tiggy says:

    Jesus didn’t wear t-shirts with logos on, carry banners, or go around singing – at least none of those have been mentioned in the gospels. My church does plenty in the community without having to resort to such things. I like to think we’re too individualistic here for all that Hitler Youth kind of stuff.

  43. danielg says:

    >> ROS 40: Then there are the apostle’s who did not go to Church, but spread their faith through going out and, for the most part, simply being Christians.

    Not really. Paul the Apostle went to the Synagogues to reason with them. And of course, in the places where there was no established church, how *could* he preach within the church? But AFTER he started them, he wrote them, visited them, went to them to teach.

    The fact is, ministry happens within AND outside of church walls, not either/or.

    >> ROS: I think it is easy to forget that the early Church did not convert from soap boxes, with pamphlets or megaphones.

    Again, based on what history? Open air preaching is a staple of gospel ministry going back to Paul who went to Mars Hill to preach to the pagans. He argued and reasoned with them for days.

    >> TIG: Jesus didn’t wear t-shirts with logos on, carry banners, or go around singing

    Jesus didn’t do medical missions either, I guess people doing that must be not doing the will of God.

    While some might object to the kitsch of the Christian subculture, I say by all means, let us display our faith. While such things are no substitute for genuine loving service and preaching, they can be part of a vibrant Christian subculture that provides a haven for new Christians and Christian youth.

  44. Tiggy says:

    Well, he did something like a medical mission.

    I was not suggesting it was or wasn’t the will of God, I was excusing myself from having to do such a thing.

    I don’t think having a Christian subculture is particuarly healthy, nor the cocooning of new and young Christians within it. People should strive to be themselves, not to look like everyone else. When I was a young and new Christian, I didn’t have this join the club mentality that just apes all the other join the club mentalities of the world. Please let us not go back to the era of Christians in anoraks singing twee choruses at every opportunity.

    The early church did all sorts of things, including hermiting on poles and in caves.

  45. danielg says:

    >> TIG: I don’t think having a Christian subculture is particuarly healthy, nor the cocooning of new and young Christians within it.

    I disagree. I think that a distinctly Christian subculture is a necessity, esp. within a pagan culture, for a couple of reasons.

    First, because as part of the initial process of conversion, God takes us OUT of the world in order to heal and rebuild us. The problem is, many individuals and churches stop there, and never go back out INTO the world, enabled to be ‘in the world but not of it.’ The church is, in a sense, the ‘vestibule of heaven’ – that is, people should be experiencing the fellowship of the community of God’s love, and God’s perspectives, in order to help support their own re-orientation.

    Second, teenagers are notoriously in need of a peer group while they go through the ‘identity moratorium’ (to borrow from Erikson).

    In addition, one of the ways that we transform our pagan culture is to develop the tools of culture (art. learning, and kitsch) that can push out in a crossover fashion. Without the nurturing Christian environment, today’s influential crossover artists in Christian music, and now in the growing Christian film industry.

  46. Caroline Too says:

    a chaos of uncalculating love

    oh, Pat I love that! love it, love it, love it…

    no good at doing it

    but I’ll see if I can give it a go tomorrow and get to be a little less bad at it! :-)

    anyone else for a spot of chaotic and uncalculating life enhancing?

  47. Tiggy says:

    We don’t have all that Christian subculture shit here, thank God. There used to be more of it, but now less and less. People have moved away from using Christian as an adjective for genres. It doesn’t go down well in the UK and its days are numbered. If someone is a Christian and they are a songwriter, then fine, but let them sink or float in the main music industry. What next, Christian costume design, Christian telecommunications, Christian road building?

  48. danielg says:

    >> TIG: What next, Christian costume design, Christian telecommunications, Christian road building?

    No, but there is such a thing as a biblical world view and biblical principles. Therefore, a Christian business might operate using biblical principles of honesty, industry, tithing, and having policies supporting the nuclear family, encouraging saving, and supporting charities that support biblical values.

    There are plenty of good books about approaching the Arts in a Christian manner, such as The Liberated Imagination: Thinking Christianly about the Arts and Art for God’s Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts.

    While it is just as valid to make it in the secular industry on it’s own terms, if that involves whoring yourself in word and deed, that’s hardly success, and perhaps a reason to create a parallel subculture that eschews the corrupt values of the secular culture.

    And there is no reason why we can’t have people in both cultures. You might enjoy my article What is Christian Music?.

    Sorry, no personal sharing this time, but I’m working myself up to that ;)

  49. danielg says:

    And btw, even clothing design can be done ‘christianly,’ by, just for example, emphasizing the natural ‘created’ figure instead of exaggerating it, employing modesty, etc. Don’t believe it? Check out:
    Modish clothes for Christian women
    Why there’s no Jesus burqa

    Before mocking such efforts, just think – what is wrong with this? What is valuable about this? I think it’s cool.

    You must also remember that much of what is good in our western culture is rooted in Christianity, including medicine, science, politics, human value and rights, and the greatness of the Renaissance arts.

  50. Tiggy says:

    Well you can run a record company in a Christian manner – I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. I just don’t see why you have to have a group of artists who restrict themselves to certain types of lyrics.

    The Renaissance was a resurgence of Classical learning after the sterility of the Middle Ages with its religious fixation. It was the flowering of humanism and individualism.

  51. danielg says:

    >> TIG: The Renaissance was a resurgence of Classical learning after the sterility of the Middle Ages with its religious fixation. It was the flowering of humanism and individualism.

    While religion was the oppressor before that (in some ways), both humanism and robust and free faith flourished. Much of the awesome art of the Renaissance was of Christian origin, with biblical themes, and very God oriented.

    When religion dies, the only way to have healthy humanism or healthy faith is to have both flourishing together.

    This was, btw, one of the strengths of the American Puritans, often erroneously maligned for the stricter and liberal movements that split of from it. They were students of the great Greek philosophers and literature as well as the Bible, and saw ‘all truth as God’s truth,’ and reading from ‘God’s two books’ of nature and scripture.

    If you want to see humanism and individualism on it’s own without faith, see the bloody French revolution. To see them work in harmony for the good of all, see the American Revolution (spoken like a true American, eh?)

  52. Tiggy says:

    Yeah and the next person to use the word ‘a**some’ will be sent to Madame Guillotine!

    I’m not engaging in any more one to one discussion on blogs with Americans because I’m suffering from stress and I’m not allowed to swear on Jon’s blog and it pisses me off when other people don’t join in.

  53. danielg says:

    >> TIG: Yeah and the next person to use the word ‘a**some’ will be sent to Madame Guillotine!

    totally ;)

    >> TIG: I’m not engaging in any more one to one discussion on blogs with Americans because I’m suffering from stress and I’m not allowed to swear on Jon’s blog and it pisses me off when other people don’t join in.

    Pisses me off too. Limp wristed pansies ;)

    Sorry to stress you man. I think we all agree, though, this was a great cartoon.

  54. Tiggy says:

    Oh the stress originated elsewhere and seven months ago. It’s just had an unexpected resurgence, probably triggered by my sister visiting. I thoroughly dislike adrenalin, especially in the middle of the night.

    Actually many of my close friends are American.

    Er…at risk of getting into another argument, and that may be your intention, it’s not considered socially acceptable to use homophobic language on English blogs.

  55. danielg says:

    >> TIG: at risk of getting into another argument, and that may be your intention, it’s not considered socially acceptable to use homophobic language on English blogs.

    That is an interesting observation. While in general, it is considered socially unacceptable in American Christian circles to use derogatory language regarding gays, it is NOT considered unacceptable to deride effeminacy in men, and such common digs as ‘limp-wristed’ are seen as terms for weakness.

    We all take the scripture “nor shall the effeminate inherit the kingdom of God” as a condemnation of unmanly men as lacking. Not to be entirely macho about what a real man is, but to admit that there is such a thing as a weak male.

    Also, American conservative and Christian culture reject political correctness and humorless fear of offending others, even Christians.

    While in our secular culture, it is frowned upon to bring up biblical condemnations of homosexuality as sinful, dysfunctional, or perverted, such a view is NOT frowned upon in Christian circles because it is seen as truth.

  56. Tiggy says:

    Those who enjoy or those who do not enjoy Christian Culture, may like to peruse these pages.

    http://www.stuffchristianculturelikes.com/

    You can also get selections posted to your Facebook page.

  57. danielg says:

    One more thing about such things being seen as ‘unacceptable’ on English blogs.

    While in the US, you *could* lose your job for making such comments at work (and perhaps rightly so), and a demeaning culture towards gays is NOT encouraged in the evangelical church in general, American Christians have a strong tradition of supporting freedom of speech as part of our revered Constitution.

    This means that we hold the line against hate speech laws, which we see as the secular equivalent of blasphemy laws, which we don’t support either.

    So I would say, with Elijah the prophet, that blaspheming Allah is fine, and I support your right to blaspheme Jehovah as well. Additionally, if I choose to blaspheme the secular gods by calling homosexuality a sin, that too should be legal, as long as I am not threatening or encouraging violence.

  58. danielg says:

    Oh, and I meant to say that, to some extent, the American church views the European church as having capitulated to political correctness, having been cowed into theological and practical submission by both secularists and Islamists.

    And this is not just our opinion, but the opinion of many conservative European thinkers, such as the bloggers at The Gates of Vienna.

    See also America: The Last Best Hope.

  59. danielg says:

    >> TIG: http://www.stuffchristianculturelikes.com/

    Is that anything like Stuff christians like? they both seem humorous, but perhaps your link is more biting? Not sure.

  60. Tiggy says:

    Yeah well I wasn’t talking about American culture, I was talking about this blog on which the overwhelming majority of people are not Americans.

    ‘nor shall the effeminate inherit the kingdom of God”

    Never personally come across this sentence – maybe it’s translated differently in the Bibles I have. Has anyone else here come across it? IS there anyone else here?

    Also, American conservative and Christian culture reject political correctness and humorless fear of offending others, even Christians.

    Well I don’t give a fuck what American conservative Christian culture rejects, quite frankly. And I’m not exactly known for being politically correct or humourless.

    ‘such a view is NOT frowned upon in Christian circles because it is seen as truth.’

    Not in the Christian circles I hang out in, like this one. Why don’t you go and hang out on some redneck American blog where you can express your offensive views with impunity.

  61. Pat says:

    CarolineToo@46:

    Me too :-)
    Me neither :-( sadly.

    I think it is the heart of the matter though – and for me anyway, it’s where the great kenotic themes of creation, incarnation and redemption come together and make sense.

    And it’s how I want to live and love…..

    So yes, I’ll join you in giving it a go :-D

  62. danielg says:

    >>

    Come on, you’re an Englishman, right? It’s from the KJV!

    1 Cor. 6:9-10
    Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    Of course, that is probably more rightly translated ‘nor homosexuals’

    >> TIG: Well I don’t give a fuck what American conservative Christian culture rejects,

    I guess your blogs don’t find outbursts of profanity as gauche ;) Lighten up, I wasn’t attacking you. Just explaining my lack of etiquette.

    >> TIG: Not in the Christian circles I hang out in, like this one. Why don’t you go and hang out on some redneck American blog where you can express your offensive views with impunity.

    Do you mean to tell me that mainstream biblical xianity in Europoe has accepted homosexuality as normative and not sinful!?! Wow, you guys are farther gone than I thought.

    I assure you, my position is not just that of the redneck southern states, but of mainstream Evangelicalism across the US. There is an ‘evangelical left’ which does not hold to this position, but they are also social leftists as well. Christians, yes, but biblical on issues of homosexuality and government, and a majority, no.

  63. Pat says:

    Hey Tiggy – I’m here …but, after posting stuff on ‘a chaos of uncalculating love’, I’m thinking that maybe I shouldn’t say anything too combative for a while :lol:

    Sorry you’re not feeling so good though :-(

  64. danielg says:

    BTW, regarding Europe’s slide into godlnessness (and we’re right behind you, I’m afraid), see Growing anti-gay environment in the UK due to mutlicultural slumber regarding Islam

  65. Pat says:

    danielq – what constitutes ‘biblical on questions of homosexuality and government’ might actually be a little more open to question and debate than your comment allows :-?

  66. danielg says:

    pat – true, but of course, I’ve also thought, read, and written on this, and can refer to many articles that reasonably discuss the biblical views of government, charity, and the like. Open to differences, yes, but I think some arguments are better than others. YMMV.

    On homosexuality, though, I think that the bible is unequivocal. I’ve read the gay interpretations, and have at least two of their books, but their exegesis and historical analyses are very weak, if not foolish. They should just abandon the bible and admit that it frowns upon homosexuality.

  67. Pat says:

    Yes MMDV :-) But I think no purpose is served by covering this ground again – such exchanges inevitably degenerate into something which is neither helpful nor healthy……as one can see in the discussion sections of all too many websites.

  68. jonbirch says:

    “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” that’s pretty much everyone i know. :-)

    fortunately, god has given me more than the bible to tell me what is right and wrong. the bible doesn’t frown on genocide at times, actually claims it as good. fortunately i know better than to believe genocide is good. i would argue that god revealed that to me. i would say that my opinion is based on a christ like response.
    “There is an ‘evangelical left’ which does not hold to this position, but they are also social leftists as well.” they don’t sound too bad at all. no need to fear the left, some of them are quite nice i’ve heard. :-)

  69. danielg says:

    i think that xians ought to be able to argue reasonably without things degenerating, but then again, only human…

    i have the unfortunate trait of enjoying debate in order to arrive at new ideas, or better defined existing ones.

  70. Pat says:

    I agree Daniel – and I too love argument and debate in order to arrive at new ideas, or better defining existing ones. In fact, as a PhD student, it’s what I spend my life doing :-) .

    However, I think that to engage in such debates does require a number of things – courtesy, the ability to listen and a degree of epistemic humility in particular. Sadly these are things which seem to be conspicuously lacking when certain topics are under discussion…one has only to look at some of the responses in the the conversation which followed your blog posting about ‘modish clothes for Christian women’ to see what I mean.

    And I think we have all seen discussions between christians about homosexuality which have been marked by such bile, vitriol and total absence of love, that they are a discrace to the gospel and an offense to the body of Christ.

  71. jonbirch says:

    i think as christians we feel we should some how be the same… agree… the fact is we’re all different and don’t always agree.
    two people with the same text will come to very different positions having done the same study, reading the same books, conversing with the same people. we are creatures of nurture, affected and prejudiced by experience, always struggling for truth through a mucky window.
    i think the way we debate reveals a lot about us too. even in this virtual world online it is possible to get hurt or to be defensive. i would always want to put relationship first and argument second, although i don’t always succeed.

  72. danielg says:

    >> JON: fortunately, god has given me more than the bible to tell me what is right and wrong. the bible doesn’t frown on genocide at times, actually claims it as good.

    So He has, but those ‘genocides’ of the old testament are defensable as not similar to today’s genocides (arguably).

    Also, the passage I mentioned is New Testament, which is in a sense more directly binding on the Christian, since the OT covenant is gone (crudely speaking).

    I don’t see how you can say you are a Christian and ignore clear passages from the NT. Admittedly, there are such passages as ‘I do not permit a man to teach a woman,’ but I believe that this is qualified by other NT passages (such as the Prophetesses of Acts), whereas I see no such qualifications regarding any sexual sin, hetero or homo.

    >> JON: no need to fear the left, some of them are quite nice i’ve heard.

    True that. However, nice does not mean correct. Bad ideas have consequences, and THOSE ought to be feared, whether they originate from ‘left’ or ‘right’

  73. Tiggy says:

    ‘abusers of themselves ‘

    LOL Guess that includes you then Daniel!

  74. danielg says:

    >> TIG: ‘abusers of themselves ‘ LOL Guess that includes you then Daniel!

    1. what do you think that phrase means, and

    2. don’t forget the rest of the phrase ‘with mankind’ which I take to mean ‘with other men’, as almost all scholars and English translations do.

    In this light, I am happy to say that this does not include me. However, i have done many of those other sins in my past.

    Hence Paul’s further admonition:

    “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:11

    So any one of these sinners can be saved, changed, and delivered from adopting such sins as part of their identity and practice.

  75. danielg says:

    >> JON: two people with the same text will come to very different positions having done the same study, reading the same books, conversing with the same people. we are creatures of nurture, affected and prejudiced by experience, always struggling for truth through a mucky window.

    I think that this is a dangerous half truth, or misapplication of 1 Cor. 13:12 (now we see through a glass darkly), which in context, is not saying that disagreement with clear Christian tenets is to be expected, but rather, that we ought to personally eschew sexual immorality (the main topic of Corinthians) and pursue love.

    The position you espouse over this controversial subject may be true in unclear subjects, but not all controversial subjects are that way due to lack of scriptural clarity, but due to man’s sinful desire to justify sin, and no where is this more likely than with respect to sexual sins and other sins of the flesh (gluttony).

    When you attempt to apply such a philosophy globally, even if you mean well in avoiding disagreement, you may actually be promoting total subjectivism in the interpretation of bible texts. Some people avoid arguments over doctrine at all costs, which the Apostle Paul, of course, rejected (2 Cor. 10:5). Naturally, others rush in to argue over every jot and tittle, which Paul also discouraged (1 Tim. 6:4).

    While some passages may always remain murky and unclear, some are so clear, that anyone engaging the barest skills of reason and objectivity would agree with the majority interpretation. On those matters, those who disagree are not just bearing an alternate interpretation, but a heretical, if not anti-reasonable one.

    The Bible, Jesus, Paul and Peter, warn us of these false teachers and prophets. To say that no one is really wrong (i.e. a teacher of falsehoods) is to take an extreme position that disagrees with both scripture and reason.

    Their motives are even spoken of in scripture:

    those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed….But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime.

    They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.

    These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
    2 Peter 2:10-17

    The opposite extreme, of course, is to say that all matters are clear, but even the Bible says no such thing, but instead, lays out principles for Navigating Moral Gray Areas.

    Whether or not homosexuality is clearly condemned in scripture I’ll leave up to you, since it is not an essential doctrine for salvation. However, I would argue that the Bible is not unclear on this issue, and those who take an ‘alternate’ interpretation are doing so in grave and obvious error, both spiritually and logically.

    I don’t accept the argument that ‘we are all fallen and therefore can’t really determine the morality of homosexuality or what the scripture teaches on it.’ But you may be right in the end, we will see.

  76. Pat says:

    Danielq @ 72: No genocide is defensible; not even, or perhaps especially not those perpetrated ‘in God’s name’ over territorial issues, no matter when they’ve happened.

  77. jonbirch says:

    but, danielg. neither you nor i live in the 1st century middle east. we have to understand what we read in that context. all that paul says is specific to a context that neither you nor i live in. when confronted with temple prostitution and the kinds of exploitation paul saw going on, of course he reacts in the way he does. i would too, and i do when i see that kind of exploitative immoral behaviour in today’s world.
    my faith is centred on christ. paul’s letters can be useful to us when understood and applied with wisdom and love, but they can become a legalistic idolatory just like anything else. there are those who make an idol of scripture, in fact you could be forgiven for thinking that some think the bible IS god. well, it’s not.
    as pat says, the moral defense of genocide is not acceptable, no matter where your information to the contrary comes from. in situations like this, as thinking people, we have to ask questions about the intent of the writers of such passages. we can’t just say, this is the word of the lord and accept that, knowing full well it goes against the teachings of our lord and our own god given consciences.
    i don’t think it’s good enough to simply quote scripture verbatim and base everything on one’s study. it seems lazy to me. it feels like a hiding and a running away from real life and the things we face everyday. i find it unhelpful and lacking warmth, humanity and empathy. all things that i believe christ not to be guilty of when dealing with real people in real and difficult situations.
    in some ways i think you misunderstand my motives re. sexuality. it’s not for me about being nice to gay people, regardless of their actions. it is about empathy for the human condition and the knowledge that things are less cut and dried than we’d like them to be.
    +, the oppression of a minority gets right up my nose and i have no qualms about offending who i see as the oppressor. :-)

  78. jonbirch says:

    anyway… this cartoon isn’t about sexuality.

  79. Graham says:

    Yep….. I agree with that jon(remember me- comment no 34). Wonder why we (as a body of Christians) often seem to get round to that.

    We can start on say… U2, elephants, the place of fruit in Leviticus, a sunny day, why male pastors in some churches always seem to be taller than their wives (who always have bleached blond hair), the price of cars……. and we always get round to sexuality.

    I don’t know Freud, but I think he would have something to say about that. And while we are on it…doesn’t Freud sound like a ‘gay’ name….d’oh*

    (* please note- I employed something called ‘irony’ or ‘humour’ there…)

  80. See, Pat…exactly the arrogant self-righteous bibliolatry, that I just can’t cope with anymore.

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  82. Pat says:

    tmtim: sadly, yes :-(

    Anyway, I hope you begin to feel better now the deed is done – even if you’re still having to stick it out while you work your notice.

    Light to your journey

    Pat

  83. JF says:

    Sorry, just catching up after a few days away.

    Danielg, so many of your comments have the (almost arrogant?) air of someone who has done all their searching and found all the answers. You are right and others simply haven’t got there yet! From my point of view, however, you seem lost in a very strange black-and-white place with which I simply cannot identify. I find the hundreds of questioning, exploratory posts on here far more enlightening and edifying than your cut-and-dried approach to faith / life.

    Do you really have it all figured out?

  84. Sophie says:

    Hi All,

    so, I know that this cartoon isn’t about sexuality, but…

    friends of mine have written a book which will be available soon. Rather than being about the dry intellectual theological issues and debate, it’s about people’s stories. Specifically people who’ve had some experience of what it’s like to really live with the reality of homosexuality and faith. It’s a thoughtful book, and I’m describing it badly. Anyway. Check it out if you’re interested. (excuse the shameless plug)

    http://www.livingitout.com/

    it’s described as a survival guide for lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians and their friends, families and churches.

    Like you say Jon, it’s about putting relationship first and argument second.

  85. jonbirch says:

    thanks for the link, sophie. :-)

  86. Sophie says:

    No probs!

  87. Tiggy says:

    Any particular reason why the priest only has one arm?

    I think due to extreme tiredness I’ve been taking this a little too literally, thinking that even if they come OUT of the church building they still have to go IN somewhere else – this being England in October. Do they scatter and then meet up for coffee? I can’t seem to stop taking it literally. I can’t get my head around the concept. Maybe I need more concrete examples. I think that priest/vicar would be really scared if someone said that to him – it sounds like he wants a fight.

  88. JohnFOM says:

    Tiggy,

    I might have a ‘concrete example’ with a mixed outcome for you. :)

    For about 2 years (2006/7) I did what I called passive evangelism. I was on the streets (actually on a particular street) in the north of Glasgow doing ‘on the hoof’ bible studies, sermons, prayer meets, etc, next to the traffic lights. No megaphones, not agendas, just an idea to hang around where the people met, letting them know in conversations why I was there and inviting them to ask questions if they wanted to.

    At it’s peak there were about 40 ‘regulars’, but the biggest group at any one time was around 25/30 (people flowed in and out of the group during discussions).

    It went well, regardless of the weather, until I got clever and tried to move it off the street into a nearby church hall, just to get us out of the rain, wind, and the cold. To be honest it was more for me than them. I’m an Aussie from the north east coast. We put on jumpers when it gets down to a ‘chilly’ 19 or 20C. Glasgow weather struggles to get UP to that even in the middle of summer.

    Within 2 weeks of moving it indoors I had only 3 regulars left, and those diehards stopped coming before the end of the month. I kept going to the hall for another 2 months after that due to an arrangement I had with the church who owned the hall.

    Unfortunately the regulars scattered. I don’t know for sure what it was that caused the end of the group, but I have some feed back from some of the regulars I’ve managed to locate since. The upshot of it seems to be that they were afraid that if they went into the church they’d have to become ‘churchies’.

    They had no problems with faith, had respect, even love, for the people who sit in the pews. They even respected the minister and would cross the street to talk to him if they saw him outside the church, but they didn’t want to be associated with (as one regular put it) ‘the numpties back in head office who pay his wage and tell him what to do’.

    Basically they felt that if they went into the building they would have to do as they were told, but if they met on the street, on their turf, the ‘numpties’ had no say in the matter. In essense, they saw the church as an organisation that they’d rather stay away from, but they would, and still do, live with and discuss their faith till the cows came home if anyone gives them the opportunity.

  89. Tiggy says:

    Yeah, I can well envisage that scenario in Glasgow. But that was being quite literal too, literally being outside. I’m not sure that’s what people meant, is it? I’m confused now. I suppose people hang out on the street in Glasgow even if it’s cold and they wouldn’t want to move from their place to your place. Did you have to get a permit to do that? I think you would here – at least the buskers and other street entertainers have to. I can’t imagine it going down very well with the tourists somehow.

  90. JohnFOM says:

    lol aye probably wouldn’t go down too well with the tourists.

    No permits. It’s still legal to wander the streets in most parts of the UK (so far). As I was just a person, hanging out with a few mates chewing the fat (no institutional mandate) I was fine to do as I pleased.

    Now, if I’d gone megaphone (not something I like in any case) I’d probably have needed a permit as an entertainer/busker.

    And, yeah. It is an instance of being literal.

  91. Rosslyn says:

    That sounds like a brilliant idea JohnFOM. It was the kind of thing I was aiming for but obviously didn’t get across well enough in my original post. I’ve had similar experiences. My husband set up a group a year or so ago, he was given a room in the Church and started off with three or four regular teenage Christian church goers. However my husband encouraged ANY question and open discussion. Soon they started bringing friends who just wanted to explore. Soon the group was up to 14 regulars who argued, discussed and debated everything from basic morals and ethics to whether God existed or not. Sadly he had to move away from the area for a while and the group faded away. But while it lasted it proved that people really do want to talk and sometimes they’ll even come inside.

  92. danielg says:

    >> JON: neither you nor i live in the 1st century middle east. we have to understand what we read in that context. when confronted with temple prostitution and the kinds of exploitation paul saw going on, of course he reacts in the way he does.

    Again, there are two extremes here – one is to fail to contextualize, and the other is to use *historical* contextualization to argue away the immediate *linguistic* or entire *biblical* contexts, and the timeless moral law that is revealed.

    I think that there ARE moral principles and commands revealed that are timeless and apply to all Christians in all times, adn those regarding sexuality don’t change with culture.

    The argument that the NT condemnation of homosexuality only refers to temple prostitution or forced male penetration, both common in Roman culture, is a stretch because

    a. the words used give no direct indication of such an application (i.e. using historical context to dismiss linguistic context is a big assumption, one that the author does not indicate)
    b. hx was universally condemned in the OT moral laws, along with other sexual immorality, so there is no reason to think that it is somehow now more acceptable in the NT
    c. Jesus defined marriage as between a man and a woman
    d. Paul explicity describes homosexuality in Romans 1, without reference to pederasty or prostitution – he merely says ‘when a man lies with another man as with a woman.’

    >> JON: my faith is centred on christ. paul�s letters can be useful to us when understood and applied with wisdom and love, but they can become a legalistic idolatory just like anything else.

    This is a common argument used by so-called ‘red-letter’ Christians – they like the ambiguity and generality of Jesus’s teachings, but reject Paul’s letters as essentially mean-spirited, and essentially non-canonical.

    Even Jesus’ words can be applied legalistically, but that does not invalidate them as true. A straight-forward reading of most of Paul is not legalistic. Quite the opposite, his writings in both Romans and Galatians are entirely NON-legalistic. Paul condemns homosexuality at the start of Romans, his opus on Christ’s sacrifice and grace, to illustrate one of the indicators of the HEIGHT of human depravity, and what happens when men reject the knowledge of God for their own wisdom.

    His letter to Timothy is pastoral, coaching the younger pastor on the basics of Christian doctrine – that lying, kidnapping (which would include kidnapping for slavery), and sexual immorality (in which he specifically calls out homosexuality) are in opposition to God and sound doctrine.

    To read it otherwise is to be in error, imo.

    >> JON: there are those who make an idol of scripture, in fact you could be forgiven for thinking that some think the bible IS god. well, it�s not.

    I agree, I am not a fan of Bible idolatry, since it is merely a signpost point us clearly to the living God. However, to think that it somehow contradicts God when I don’t like the morality of it is classic humanist liberalism wearing Christian clothing.

    >> JON: as pat says, the moral defense of genocide is not acceptable, no matter where your information to the contrary comes from. in situations like this, as thinking people, we have to ask questions about the intent of the writers of such passages. we can�t just say, this is the word of the lord and accept that, knowing full well it goes against the teachings of our lord and our own god given consciences.

    1. I do not necessarily agree that the Israelite conquest of Canaan was ‘genocide’

    2. God himself killed ALL humanity save Noah in the flood as judgement

    3. The commands to Israel were isolated events, not ongoing principles (like Islam practices)

    4. These nations were wicked, as were Sodom and Ghomorrah, and God was doing his will and within his rights as judge to judge them – there was not injustice there, even if some think it unjust by their human standards.

    5. Those who love to decry the ‘genocide’ of the OT miss the many mercies of God to non-Israelites in the OT, as well as the judgements God made against Israel when SHE sinned against God.

    >> JON: we can�t just say, this is the word of the lord and accept that, knowing full well it goes against the teachings of our lord and our own god given consciences.

    6. I am not saying we should be uncritical

    7. I don’t see how any of God’s commands went against the ‘teachings of our Lord’ since Jesus validated the God and writings of the OT.

    8. We certainly can start with the assumption that what God commanded in the OT WAS just, and try to understand how, rather than reading our own biases back over the text to decide if God was just.

    9. There are specific theological reasons why we don’t do such things as Christians, though I would not go so far as to say that Jesus or the NT teach pacifism.

    >> JON: i don�t think it�s good enough to simply quote scripture verbatim and base everything on one�s study. it seems lazy to me.

    I agree, but it is also not good to overlook a straigthtforward understanding of scripture, or give some esoteric historically contextualized reading of it without explanation, as if an appeal to ‘love’ and ‘nonjudgement’ is a complete, intellectual, or balanced approach.

    It is not lazy to refer to the plain meaning of scripture (occam might agree), and the onus of proof is actually heavier on those who want to read an alternate, non-apparrent interpretation.

    >> JON: it is about empathy for the human condition and the knowledge that things are less cut and dried than we�d like them to be.

    I agree, and that’s a great way to live. I do not assume that you are somehow a gay apologist, I am merely defending my own statements. There is a lot of ambiguity in finding and following God, but I am not such a defeatist as to say that we can know nothing. We have the revealed and living word to help us out of that darkness.

    >>JON: the oppression of a minority gets right up my nose and i have no qualms about offending who i see as the oppressor.

    Yes, Pharisees pissed off Jesus. But the balance is that those that excuse or approve of sin – well, it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their necks, and be sunk to the bottom of the ocean than to meet Jesus on judgement day.

    As I say, love and truth work together, and lies are nearly as dangerous as unlove.

  93. subo says:

    hey, danielg, careful. most of us on this blog are sharing from our own experience, and have found a community of people who are responsive to each other. a gay friend of mine explained how important it is for all of us to bond with each other, with people of the same sex, and different, and different orientations. i really value the mix of friends i have, and very much appreciate the blessing my gay friends have been to me.

  94. danielg says:

    I have friends and family, and don’t intend not to be nice. However, when theology of homosexuality comes up (and maybe I brought it up this time), I do want to be clear.

    But if this forum is more experience based and less intellectual/logical/theological, I can respect that (though there is a little bit of insult in that description, which reflects my impatience with open mindedness that never leads to conclusions).

  95. jonbirch says:

    :-) …it’s clear we differ… wish i had time to chat point by point, but i reckon you can second guess all my arguments as i yours… and it’s ridiculously late… and i’d best do another cartoon tomorrow before the blog falls asleep and everyone thinks i’ve given up. :-) my final word is simply that many scholars, theologians, faithful people wrestle with these issues every day. there is a lot of disagreement… but compassion for all god’s people and, i believe, a god given sense of what is just and right means i will continue to argue the case for those who struggle in spirit and in truth with the sexuality they have been given… including me. i am grateful we do not live in ancient palestine and thereabouts, as life would have been awful for anyone seen as different.
    also, i don’t mind a theological debate, so long as this remains a safe place for people to hang out without fear of judgment or condemnation. i’d hate it to be anything other. :-)

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  97. Robb says:

    if this forum is more experience based and less intellectual/logical/theological

    I am officially offended!!

    **starts rooting in filing cabinet for academic qualifications.**

  98. Pat says:

    Robb – can I join you in a flounce? :lol:

  99. jonbirch says:

    i officially did my flouncing last night. i’m now wide awake, the sun is shining and i’m not feeling flouncy at all. :-) … so, who’s gonna make it 100? :-)

  100. Pat says:

    Me, me, me!

    Now that really was behaviour unworthy of a staid, middle-aged academic :lol:

  101. Caroline Too says:

    #94 how can I say this politely?

    umm

    err

    no, I can’t …

    you’re point is nonsense

    the conversations in ASBO draw on both experiential and intellectual resources

    what I suspect you mean is that there are people involved in these conversations who disagree with you

    and, reading the style of your writing, I suspect that you have a certain degree of difficulty recognising the thoughtfulness and intellectual rigour of anyone who disagrees with your own, clear cut, definite and quite unopen to alternatives type of thinking…

    so, I’d just ask you to be a little courteous

    and can I, as a university teacher, just suggest to you two points

    (a) you are a disciple of Jesus, more than anything else you are a disciple… greek root: ‘learner’

    and

    (b) nothing, but nothing, blocks learning and discipleship quite like conclusions…

    sometime in eternity, I’ll reach some valid conclusions, but by then I won’t bother to argue with you because, I trust, we’ll both (together with many many ASBOers) be “lost in wonder, love and praise”

  102. Sophie says:

    I really love it here at asbo because of the mixture of sharing our experiences, respect for each other and rigorous thinking – not forgetting the odd bit of comedy! I really enjoyed the velocirapture.

  103. subo says:

    “sharing from our own experience”, opps, sorry i didn’t mean to pose experience against intellectual debate, as though one was more valid than the other!

    in fact I think the two meet in important ways, for instance i know intellectually that God is a God of love, and i also experience God’s love. i need the intellectual knowledge – else on a bad day i might wonder, and i need the experience because it adds a little authenticity when trying to share my faith with my friends

    i also think intellectual and scientific knowledge needs to engage with our experiencing (and usually does), else we’d be stuck, how about all those people’s experience of ill health following some vaccines, before we realise how much testing we need to do? sometimes experiences modify our thinking, and i’m suggesting this is important in theology as well as science.

  104. jonbirch says:

    i agree, subo. i honestly think i’d call that wisdom.

  105. JF says:

    Danielg, there are many eminent philosophers and writers (greater thinkers than you or I) who say that, intellectually and logically, God doesn’t even exist.

    You really have to be honest enough to concur that you are talking about your own Faith, not the conclusions of an intellectual or logical exercise! So it all comes down to experience.

  106. Rosslyn says:

    I agree with JF and those before him. Faith is such a personal experience because God touches people in a personal way. To use an educational term, he has an “Individual learning plan” for us all and though debate with each other is a healthy form of exploration I think we each have to follow where we are led.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~off-topic~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    #102-Caroline Too: “sometime in eternity, I’ll reach some valid conclusions”

    That is a brilliant phrase, may I have your permission to use it? As a teacher of English it’s an idea I try to share with my kids.

    I find that, especially in creative fields, it’s all to easy to come to conclusions too quickly. However children especially feel they haven’t accomplished anything until they have one.

    Sorry for being completely off topic, but it really hit home for me!

    ~~~~~~~~~please resume topic~~~~~~~

  107. BlackXanthus says:

    @danielg : Unfortunately, your reading is now (thankfully) becoming a minority reading here in the UK.

    I would point you (and others in this blog) to another view point:
    http://www.ecinc.org/

    This is an Evangelical (that is, a Sola Scriptura) reading of the Bible, which shows what most of us have always thought, that the doors of Heaven are open to all those with Faith.

    There are a few errors in your argument. We’ll start with your use of Timothy, it is generally accepted by Biblical Scholars that it was not written by St. Paul. It was more probably written by someone much later, probably around the time the Church began to consolidate Church Structure.

    That aside, your claim that a “Straight Forward Reading of Scripture” is possible is, frankly. False. Let’s take an example from the NT shall we?
    Mathew 2:13-15, the story of the flight of to Egypt. Mathew tells us that this is a fulfillment of a prophecy. However, this quotation comes from Hosea 11:1b (in the Hebrew version, not the Greek). However, Mathew’s Greek translation is quite literal, but his application is problamatic. The Hosea context makes it clear that it is looking back to the Exodus, not to future deliverance. Also, the text (Hosea) is refering to Isreal as “God’s Son”, not a future Messiah. However, if we look at similar passages in Numbers(in the Greek Translation of the Pentatuch, LXX) 24:7-8a, we see that Mathew is appleing to both these passages to build his message. It also bases it’s idea on the Jewish idea of a Messianic David can also be applied in the cases that Isreal is placed in the text, an idea taken from the Midrash of Psalms 24:3. This typological reading (that is, that David is a type of Messiah) is one of the ways that sheds light on this passage from Mathew.

    So, if we were just going to simply read Mathew, then we would have no idea what prophecy was being fulfilled. This tends to take us away from the straight-forward reading that you were promoting.

    Your argument that we should not appeal “love” or “non-judgement” as an aproach means that you should, perhaps, Re-read the Gospels, and see what message you see in them. If you find a narrow-minded, bigoted approach, then I would suggest you read it again.

    I would also like to pick you up on your reading of the Bible. The full text refers to those that would cause another to stumble, it would be better for them if they had a millstone hung around their neck. I would put it to you that any Christian that decides that Homsexuals cannot partake in the salvation of Christ, who died for ALL OF US is the one placing the stone. The one placing the barrier between those who are Homosexual and God.

    I suggest then, it is they who had better start looking for Mill-Stones.

    ~Black Xanthus.

  108. Caroline Too says:

    Rosslyn

    very flattered, and of course you can use it if it helps…

    sometimes I find it helpful to think of heaven as

    having all eternity to explore infinity…

    maybe it’s because I’m a sad academic that I find that incredibly exciting…

    and why I find conclusions such a terrible dead hand on growth.

  109. Sophie says:

    Black Xanthus, very nicely put. Although it’s pretty scary to think about the times when I might have got in the way between people and God.

    When I was growing up I had a lot of gay friends, and I was also rather evangelical. I couldn’t get my head around being told on the one hand that I should be praying for and inviting my friends to church, and on the other, not knowing when someone would say something condeming homosexuality. It was very difficult. How was I supposed to take my friends to church if they weren’t really welcome? Tricky. Thankfully I’ve now found an inclusive church. and also I’m not so worried about evangelising now now now. I think God will get round to things in God’s own time. But I should really be careful not to get in the way. Thanks for the reminder.

  110. Robb says:

    I had to talk about that passage last week at communion. Needless to say, people in church leadership didn’t come out very well in the reckoning. I did point out that it would be me, the vicar and the PCC first in line for the mill stone followed by anyone else who came in through the doors….

    But then we all know that when the revolution comes I’ll be first agains the wall!!

  111. Tiggy says:

    He didn’t say it was going to happen, just that it would be better for them. But better than what?

  112. danielg says:

    Better than to face Him in the day of Judgment. And they’ll all cry ‘don’t judge, don’t judge’ – or actually, Jesus said they will run and hide and scream for the mountains to fall on them and hide them on ‘the great AND TERRIBLE day of the Lord.’

    I know many don’t like to hear that – it’s not ‘love’ (but it is truth). Let everyone examine himSELF!

  113. danielg says:

    >> BX: the doors of Heaven are open to all those with Faith.

    If it’s faith in Jesus, it will produce the fruits of righteousness, which includes a distaste for sin, sexual sin included. Those who don’t show evidence in themselves of holiness (without which no one will see God) are fooling themselves.

    Sure, the door is open to all, but those who are not changed and show fruits of repentance don’t really have faith.

    I’m not saying perfection, I’m just saying that your statement sounds like pablum.

    >> BX: If you find a narrow-minded, bigoted approach, then I would suggest you read it again.

    I guess ‘narrow is the way to life and few find it’ isn’t ‘narrow’ to you, eh? Maybe I’m reading it too ‘narrowly’? Give me a break.

    I don’t find the gospels narrow or bigoted. However, some might see such scriptures as “no one comes to the father except by Me” or “he do does not believe is already condemned” or “go and sin no more” as narrow. I see them as true.

    I see that you take the one of the classic pro-gay positions (no pun intended) – basically, you dismiss the Epistles as either (a) non-canonical, (b) not representative of Jesus’ teaching, and maybe not even Paul’s, or (c) historically contextualized to apply to things not mentioned in the text even indirectly.

    I don’t see any of the New Testament as narrow, not even the straightforward readings I proposed – that is *your* evaluation of what I see of as ‘true.’

    >> BX: The full text refers to those that would cause another to stumble, it would be better for them if they had a millstone hung around their neck. I would put it to you that any Christian that decides that Homsexuals cannot partake in the salvation of Christ, who died for ALL OF US is the one placing the stone. The one placing the barrier between those who are Homosexual and God.

    The text I am referring to is Matthew 18, in which the context is child-like innocence and trust, and the violators are those who cause others to SIN, not stumble:

    Matthew 18: 3-6
    Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

    Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

    But even Mark 9, which uses the word stumble, is talking about sin, not preventing people from coming to God because of Phariseeism.

    Even more, I am also referring to Matthew 5:17-20, which applies directly to those who want to dismiss the moral law as part of Jesus’ coming kingdom.

    Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 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. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    So I think my interpretation of these passages is in line with the context – he is not talking about people ‘stumbling in getting to faith’ but stumbling into sin, and those who teach that such sins are acceptable to God, though they may be Christians, will be called “least” in the kingdom of God, because they never accessed the power of the truth that God heals us from ALL of our sins.

  114. jonbirch says:

    “no one comes to the father except by Me” or “he do does not believe is already condemned” or “go and sin no more”
    three really cool scriptures that can take one heck of unpacking… by no means simple… certainly, i find the evangelical take on jesus as ‘the way’ to be thoroughly flawed… kills the text text stone dead, sadly. i’m pretty sure you and i, daniel, would disagree on the possible meanings of many of these kinds of texts. i kinda wish you’d stop trying to convince those who disagree with you that they are wrong. it doesn’t ring with quite the same tone of beautiful benediction that “go and sin no more” does to my ear.
    i have to agree with caroline too and black xanthus re. the problem with conclusions and the attribution of millstones respectively. i also agree with jf re. experience.
    my faith has no ribbon tying it up as i’m still putting gifts in the box.

  115. danielg says:

    Oh, and one more thing, I did not say that homosexuals can not be saved. I said that if they practice homosexuality without remorse, they are probably NOT saved, though of course, they could be. Healing from deep wounds takes times, often decades. But those who are saved, no matter where they came from, show repentance and real progress in holiness.

    To think that when we practice sin we are safe or close to God (and I am Reformed, so I do believe that he saves AND keeps and santifies us, it is the gift of God, not of works) is foolish.

    Hence such instruction as:

    1. Fellowship with sinners (as Jesus did), but not with those who call themselves ‘brothers’ but are unrepentant of sexual sin:

    1 Cor. 5:9-11
    I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person.

    2. Those who practice sin don’t invalidate themselves because they practice it, but their lack of repentance SHOWS that they are not true believers.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Sure, homosexuals are welcome, but unrepentant gays who think that they can stay in fellowship are the same as the man sleeping with his mother in law in the passage above. We all stumble, but unrepentant sexual sin must be taught against, personally resisted, admitted, and repented of. Otherwise, such people should be essentially shunned, as Paul instructs.

    But again, those who are not yet believers, and, though they may think that they are christians, who don’t really UNDERSTAND what it means to believe (I thought *I* was a Christian while a sinnning, unregenerate Catholic) should be presented with the gospel and accepted, but instructed as to what is and what is not a Christian. If they steadfastly refuse, we should not consider them ‘brothers’ in the spiritual sense.

  116. Tiggy says:

    What attracts you to Christianity Daniel?

  117. Tiggy says:

    Sorry, ‘nother question. What have homosexuals got to actually stop doing?

  118. danielg says:

    >> JON: i have to agree with caroline too and black xanthus re. the problem with conclusions and the attribution of millstones respectively.

    I feel that I am defending my position, not trying to convince others.

    You may agree with bx’s interpretation of the millstone passage, but he sure didn’t convince you from reason or from the text.

    He did not present any reasoned justification from the context – he said what he thought the context was about, but I provided the actual text and context, and reasoned from it.

    He may have a real argument, but it’s not presented. So all I am left with is his and your experience. Great, I’ve got my experience too. I guess that leaves us in the ‘who knows what’s right’ bin again.

    Look, I understand that this forum, even though it has very smart people here, seems to be about compassion and kindness, not about definitive declarations and defenses of theological truth.

    I can take my discussions on these matters to other places, and I don’t mean to disrupt. However, I find it hard to leave what I consider to be unfaithful renderings of scripture unchallenged, just like you do when you disagree w/ me.

    I do not mean to be mean spirited, and I acknowledge that
    - it is harder to love than to argue about truth
    - there is difficulty in trying to understand and live for God
    - some passages are hard to figure out

    But some things are clear, and to say that they are not seems not to be virtue or humility, but foolishness and even cowardice. Such is the error of love without truth.

  119. danielg says:

    >> TIG: What have homosexuals got to actually stop doing?

    I would suppose
    (a) lusting after men or women
    (b) having sexual relations with the same sex
    (c) restoring their natural gender-identity, and their attraction for the opposite sex

    QED?

  120. danielg says:

    >> TIG: What attracts you to Christianity Daniel?

    1. Salvation by grace and the power to be changed, set free from sin, and growing in kindness

    2. It has an integrated world view that is intellectually deep and fruitful.

    3. It offers hope for this life and the next

    4. A relationship with a personal, loving and truthful God.

    I am also attracted to Buddhism, which offers:

    1. Tools for self-awareness and self-mastery

    2. Means towards loosening our grip on desires, or theirs on us.

    3. Tools for the development of non-judgement.

  121. danielg says:

    >> JON: my faith has no ribbon tying it up as i’m still putting gifts in the box.

    Will it always be so? Or will you be like the men at Mars Hill who were ‘always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (2 Tim 3:7).

    As C.S. Lewis once said, ‘the purpose of having an open mind is the same as having an open mouth. Eventually, you mean to close it on something.’

    You can be so generous that fail to be conclusive when it matters, or be ‘so open minded your brains fall out.’

    I am not accusing you of that, just saying that you seem to almost be guilty of the extreme of saying “Since we can’t know everything, we can really know nothing for sure, all is tentative.”

    While in one sense, with matters of faith, that may be so, but in another, to equivocate on the gospel is to sound the trumpet w/ uncertainty – displaying the humility of these ‘earthen vessels’ is good, but waffling on all matters of faith is for the perpetually immature.

    Those who do the work of ministry must time some of the bows for the sake of those who are lost.

  122. jonbirch says:

    hmmmmm… so, how are you defining homosexual then? lust and ‘inappropriate’ sexual acts? they’re possible pitfalls for all of us.

  123. danielg says:

    And by the way, regarding the essentials of the faith, I love Hebrews 6:1-2

    Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

  124. danielg says:

    >> JON: they’re possible pitfalls for all of us.

    The key word are ‘practice’ and ‘unrepentant’

  125. jonbirch says:

    the box is my faith (it’s just a little analogy and won’t stretch too far… not keen on boxes as a rule :-) ), and my faith is sure. it is the truth which has set me free, by which, i mean, an experience of christ as real, meaningful and life changing. and… it draws me to do what i do and be who i am in my flawed way.

  126. Tiggy says:

    So presumably it’s your Buddhist idea that one can loosen one’s grip on desires that makes you think that homosexuals can change who they are sexually attracted to.

    As we know from Bill Clinton, the phrase ‘having sexual relations’ is a bit vague. This has been on my mind a lot lately. Sometimes I find I’m in a physical encounter and not sure if it’s sexual or not. I’m not sure if the feelings of myself or the other person are sexual. I find this happens especially in church groups where people tend to be phsycially affectionate and intimate quite quickly. For example, our contemplative prayer group was accused of being overly sexual because we hugged each other. We were all friends anyway so we would hug each other outside of the prayer group. Someone’s husband was being very physical with me the other evening and I thought hmm, this is weird. It was in front of his wife too. I felt rather uncomfortable. I didn’t even know them well. But then I thought maybe I was being paranoid and he was just an affectionate person.

  127. jonbirch says:

    well, ‘practise’ and ‘unrepentant’ are not what defines our sexuality. orientation ain’t a sin, even if you want to argue that certain practices are.

    i don’t think the male, female gender thing is anywhere near as clearly definable as you seem to want to suggest.

    “I feel that I am defending my position, not trying to convince others.”
    there is no need to defend your position. i feel quite familiar with it now anyhow. :-)

  128. Tiggy says:

    I could do with some practise. :-)

  129. Tiggy says:

    Haha, just read that article recommended earlier. I can’t believe that one of the so-called ‘ex-gay’s has the name Roger Grind Staff!!

  130. subo says:

    “(c) restoring their natural gender-identity, and their attraction for the opposite sex”

    I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s uncomfortable with the way Freud’s ideas seem to be swallowed unquestioningly by the church, and why Freud? come on, he’d never get away with his theories on same sex orientation now would he?, so why do we allow them to be branded round the church?

    Post Freud’s preposterous claims, it’s been scientifically shown that our sexual orientation is genetic and biological, and that although some of us move through different phases in our sexuality, no one is actually able to change their original orientation

    I do really struggle with this, there’s a number of Freud’s ideas that pop up regularly in church, even though I don’t see much computability with his view of what a person is, and the biblical view. and I just don’t understand why we take this stuff so unquestioningly?, Freud believed the largest part of our minds was outside of our awareness, and while I’m sure there are aspects of our minds outside our awareness, and of which we can increase our awareness (as described in Martin Laird’s Into the Silent Land), as a Christian I’m not able to buy the extent that Freud believed in the unconscious and the lack of responsibility towards our minds. Further all of Freud’s work is theoretical speculation, some of which has proved useful and inspiring, and yet it’s still speculation, so I heartily wish the church would drop it’s embarrassing claims about ‘re-orientating people’s sexuality’, it can’t be done

    then again, as Alister McGrath say’s, ‘the church believed the world was flat, – because the scientists of the day told them it was so’, so maybe I’ll have to just accept the church is fallible at times

  131. I have examined myself thoroughly and know that neither the scripture nor intellect or theology are for the purposes of abusing others. I am happy to remain inconclusive because I choose to be so not as a failure of generosity of spirit. Therein is life learning,and growth.

  132. subo says:

    like it, themethatisme, and beautifully written

  133. BlackXanthus says:

    danielg: A few things. First, My argument was against your single reading of the Bible. The fact that the way you are presenting the text DOES NOT match the way that Scholars approach the text. Being as you’ve decided to ignore that argument, I’ll assume that you agree with me.

    Second, I posted a link to an entire website that pulls your reading of those passages apart. It was a reading done by Gay and Lesbian Evangelicals. I guess you didn’t read that, either.

    Thirdly, as this is meant to be a discussion about a Biblical text, why are you not using the NRSV? From the reading, I’m guessing an NIV or even a NKJV. The problem with BOTH these translations is that they put forward a particular view, a particular theology. One that is evident in the line you quoted from Mathew. For any academic discussion on the Bible, it is better to use the NRSV, which is the closest rendition to the original that we have today.

    That said, lets take a look at that quote you threw from Mathew, shall we?

    and said, “Truly I tell you, uncless you change and become like childredn, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greates in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

    If any of you put a stumbling block becore one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depths of the sea.

    Mathew 18:3-6

    Some important words here have been changed. In the reading above, we don’t have “converted” as you do, but have “change”. Change (perhaps to your mind “soft), means that we simply need to do just that, to change, and to live a better life.

    What we have here, then, is an argument over a passage from different translations. This, again, backs up my original point about how a single, Sola Scriptura reading is simply not good enough when attempting to hang your theology on 3 seperate, and disparate passages.

    If you really want to continue this argument, based on a single line reading, my question to you would be “why do you have a comptuer?”. A computer is a possession. We are commanded, repeatedly, in the Bible to sell all our possessions, and to follow Christ. A literal reading of this passage demands, then poverty from each and every one of us to be “true” believers.

    Jesus looked at him and said “How hard is it for those that have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

    Luke 18:24-25

    Before anyone suggests it, the “eye of the needle” was not a gate in the walls of Jerusalem. Over the years, many different approaches have been taken to this passage, starting from “he was only talking to the man”, to “he’s talking about the millionairs”. However, literally speaking, his call to all his disciples to leave everything behind and to follow him, reiterated by Peter in this story is a very high yard-stick. Poverty is mentioned many, many, many more times than homosexuality. Why, then are we not arguing over wether or not people should have money, rather than why people should be gay?

    Moving right along, lets take a look at the text that started this argument in the NRSV (remember people, this is the Scholars Bible. Previously the argument has been put forward that most people agree that Homosexuals was the word)

    Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be decieved! Fornicators, Idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, theives, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers, non of these will inherit the kingdom of God.

    1 Corinthians 9:10

    Here we have the word translated as “Male Prostitutes”, followed by Sodomites. Sodomites, you may remember, were a people, that is a race of people. The name became almost slang for “pet boys”, used for Sexual Pleasure of the Hellenistic Greeko-Roman Culture at the time (http://www.ecinc.org/Scriptures/corinth6.htm). That is still NOT the picture of Homosexual relationships that we have today.

    If we read this exert, with the same emphasis and fuss that is made over homosexuals, why Christian Conservatives NOT standing outside the Barn-Dance, the Rave Hall, the all-night Night Club, with signs that say “Revellers will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. Yes, that’s right, those of you that enjoy a good party are NOT getting into the Kingdom of Heaven. Says so, right there in Corinthians. Of course, being Jesus himself enjoyed a good party, and even provided the wine for it… Where does that leave us on Salvation? I mean it says so RIGHT THERE in the text. I’ve not added anything, I’ve not used reason, I’ve just read it. It tells me that Jesus didn’t get into Heaven because he enjoyed a party…..

    ~BX

    ps. I would like to point out for those reading this without interpereating the text, and just taking my words literally, that the last bit about Christ was said sarcastically. =)

  134. jonbirch says:

    thanks bx for fleshing out some bones… correct me if i’m wrong, but wasn’t the sin of the sodomites one of not caring for strangers, being inhospitable… sexual sin being one part of their utter selfishness and lack of care for anything but their own desires?
    i only ask because this throws even more nuance into the text and adds weight to your argument.

    i agree also with subo’s comments on how freud has been adopted unquestioningly by certain strands of christianity… presumably because a lot of what he says backs up a view, even though we know much of what freud said is now proven nonsense. some stuff is bang on… i guess it’s polarised or extreme thinking and commenting that make you famous and give you your place in history.

    i’m still amazed at how a cartoon which isn’t about sexuality at all has led to such a long discussion on it.

  135. Graham says:

    …then try posting one about not gossiping or poverty and watch the comments drop. We love getting worked up about stuff that does not affect us personally or ask us to change our lives and relate to people who we used to love throwing brickbats at…

    (note: that comment is best taken with a large slice of irony)

  136. BlackXanthus says:

    The Sin of the Sodomites could be seen as one of inhospitatlity, yes. It is a story that is echoed later in the Bible, and causes the downfall of the tribe of Benjamin. The reason that Sodomites got the name that they did is that the people ask Lot to bring out the two strangers (here, Angels) so that they may “know” them. This, as you can gather, means to “know them sexually”. This is often taken to be their crime, that they wished to know the men sexually. This is because they are offered two virgin daughters, and seemingly refuse them. You can read the full story in Genesis 19.

    The true story, as John points out, is one of inhospitality, rather than sexual imorality. However, later readings have seen the crime of Homosexuality, and ignored the crime of hospitality. Mostly because hospitality has long since been removed from our culture (it seems to have vanished completely in the dark-ages).

    Thanks,

    ~BX

    ps. I think the reason it has devolved into sexuality is that it is a “hot-topic”, and runs much deeper than a simple argument over Homosexuality. The Church changes very, very, slowly over hundreds of years, often through re-discovery of prophetic writings (like those of Julian of Norwich, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila etc). this was fine when society moved just as quickly. However, we forget that in the past 50 years society is now unrecognisable from the begning of the century. Liberation has snowballed, and the Church, which has always thought, debated, discussed and argued is now lagging behind because it has been unable to keep pace with change. For example, the Lambeth Conference, where these massive debates take place only meets once every 10 years. This was considered often enough in the past, yet in 10 years there has been a sexual liberation.

  137. subo says:

    137 comments, and lots about sex – yep Freud was right, life’s all about sex

    talking about old testement stories, I love the one about the Prostitute in Jerico, who put the boys up for the night on their spying mission – against her own city, and who realised God was serious when he said he was handing Jerico over – so asked if she could join the winning side. it seems to me her life was spared because she believed God, and trusted his word and his ability to save her.

    it’s a story filled with trust, unlike the men of Sodom who violated others trust

    for me, the Kingdom is about building love, trust, respect, saying when something clashes with your own values, and hoping that you can bring more love to others

  138. Carole says:

    my faith has no ribbon tying it up as i’m still putting gifts in the box.

    Jon, I love that image! :)

  139. Tiggy says:

    Is it only classed as sodomy when it’s between two men? I mean loads of heterosexual Christians have anal sex – is that sodomy? And what about that bit on ‘self-abuse’ – you don’t get people in the church denouncing masturbation, well not normally. I know there are some weirdo groups in America, but I think the population of Britain has cottoned on to the fact by now that they aren’t going to go blind.

  140. Robb says:

    Tiggy – neither did I!!! I said it would be me and…

    My two penneth – even the most conservative *scholars* agree that the sodomite sin was rape.

  141. Robb says:

    BTW – What has this got to do with the divide between those inside church and those outside?

    Oh hang on – now I see. Those inside church can’t talk about anything other than sex whilst those outside are….

    Oh hang on a minute!!!!

    Can we all put our genitalia away now please!!

  142. Tiggy says:

    Neither did you what??

    Lots of homosexuals don’t practise sodomy anyway. And lots of men who do (with other men) don’t see themselves as homosexual.

  143. Tiggy says:

    Er…I think it’s only you has yours out Robb…ew.

    I have to deal with these kind of questions at my church all the time because they know I go to an MCC church in the evenings. Graham, you shouldn’t assume that it’s not relevant to the daily life of people on this thread.

  144. JohnFOM says:

    Most of the scholars I’ve been reading over the last 10 years have come up with the premise that the Sodomite sin was inhospitality (is that a word?). Just going back over old word studies (a favourite technique for the conservative Keswick Convention) it seems to me to be that you have to go into the texts with some extremely unsupported presuppositions to come up with the idea that their sin was homosexuality.

    Of commentary summaries I have at hand, I cant find anyone writing in the last 50 or so years saying homosexuality, although I’ll admit that in the past I haven’t been reading the commentaries specifically to do a survey of their views on this.

    The most coherent summary of the Sodomite sin I can find in the bible is Ez 16:49 “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (NIV but there’s no significant change between translations).

    It seems to me, from a ‘plain reading’ of the biblical texts, that the fight against poverty, or the lack of participation in it, and maybe rampant consumerism (including a consumerism in sex) had more to do with Sodom’s sin than any sexuality issues?

  145. Graham says:

    Sorry Tiggy (144)-I didn’t fully take that on board.

    Guess (in a cheap way) I was going to say that when we throw brickbats it is a kind of deflecton tactic to avoid facing up to stuff that we avoid….. except that I did’t make it very well…

  146. danielg says:

    > TIG: So presumably it’s your Buddhist idea that one can loosen one’s grip on desires that makes you think that homosexuals can change who they are sexually attracted to.

    No,but that is an interesting idea. My supposition that gays can change comes from
    - my view of the proposed mechanisms of gay formation (gender identity issues)
    - the evidence of friends and family who are happy and ex-gay (4 at last count)
    - the evidence of my own masculine recovery

    See:
    Healing Injured Masculinity PART I: Introduction
    Critical Factors in Gay Recovery
    Causes of same-sex attraction
    Spitzer Discusses New Book on Ex-Gay Therapy

    >> TIG: As we know from Bill Clinton, the phrase ‘having sexual relations’ is a bit vague. This has been on my mind a lot lately.

    I agree that there is some gray zone, but I don’t experience it as ambiguously. In that Romans 1 passage, Paul talks about physical sexual intimacy (which probably includes any kind of genital contact), and *passions*, specifically, sexual passions. Hugs don’t have to be sexual.

    When I was in YWAM, we all gave each other massages. Sure, we were mostly single, but we had one guy we nicknamed ‘hands’ because he was so good. It wasn’t really sexual. But you can easily cross that line when giving massages. I don’t do it to other women except in a friendly manner, and not for more than 20 seconds so no one gets the wrong idea. I think we all start to feel uncomfortable with more than that.

    Of course, one of my friends is a professional massage therapist, and I don’t mind if he gives my wife a massage.

    But I think that sexual relations is pretty clear. If you’re not sure, ask your partner ;)

    >> JON: orientation ain’t a sin, even if you want to argue that certain practices are.

    I disagree. Orientation and *passions* seem the same – Paul says that the ‘natural passions’ aimed at the opposite sex are sinfully redirected to the same sex.

    >> SUBO: I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s uncomfortable with the way Freud’s ideas seem to be swallowed unquestioningly by the church

    While this idea may have some congruence with Freudian ideas, it’s not rooted in Freud. It’s rooted in the biblical idea that God made us ‘male and female’ in our nature. Our natures are corrupted, but essentially still there. So as far as I can see, any dismantling of Freudianism is fine, that doesn’t touch my argument directly (sort of a straw man)

    >> SUBO: as a Christian I’m not able to buy the extent that Freud believed in the unconscious and the lack of responsibility towards our minds.

    I think Jung, who suggested gay recovery (I think) had a better grasp on the subconscious (and so do the Buddhists).

    >> THEM: I am happy to remain inconclusive because I choose to be so not as a failure of generosity of spirit.

    That is a gross, imbalanced generalization. It should be balanced with Jesus’ words:

    Matt. 10:34-35
    Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;

    >> BX: First, My argument was against your single reading of the Bible.

    Then perhaps you have an issue with the doctrine of Perspicuity and single meaning of scripture. All scripture has specific, intended meaning. Before you attack this with exceptions, I think you should read the article above (that I wrote).

    >> BX: Second, I posted a link to an entire website that pulls your reading of those passages apart. It was a reading done by Gay and Lesbian Evangelicals. I guess you didn’t read that, either.

    I missed that link, but I am very familiar with that theology, I have at least two books on this by gay theologians. I have also written on their mistakes in such posts as:
    Does Romans 1 Condemn Homosexuality?
    Debate: Is Homosexuality Compatible with Authentic Christianity?

    >> BX: Thirdly, as this is meant to be a discussion about a Biblical text, why are you not using the NRSV? From the reading, I’m guessing an NIV or even a NKJV…For any academic discussion on the Bible, it is better to use the NRSV, which is the closest rendition to the original that we have today.

    Where do you get such an opinion that the NRSV is somehow more accurate or scholarly? I question that. I use NJKV, sometimes ESV, and sometimes NLT (a good paraphrase). Isn’t NRSV used mainly by Catholics? I’d argue that the NASB is probably the best literal translation, maybe even the NET version.

    >> BX: Some important words here have been changed. In the reading above, we don’t have ‘converted’ as you do, but have ‘change’. Change (perhaps to your mind soft), means that we simply need to do just that, to change, and to live a better life.

    Doesn’t really matter to my argument. The key is the END of the passage, which talks about what makes men stumble – teaching them to SIN, correct? I then referenced the passage where Jesus talks about obeying the whole counsel of the Bible, and that those who practice and teach SIN thinking that somehow the NT God is more lenient are mistaken. He’s only more lenient in that GRACE allows us salvation and the power of the spirit to overcome sin.

    >> BX: What we have here, then, is an argument over a passage from different translations. This, again, backs up my original point about how a single, Sola Scriptura reading is simply not good enough when attempting to hang your theology on 3 seperate, and disparate passages.

    Different translations don’t mean different meanings for the passages, and I still stand by the doctrine of Perspecuity I referenced above. Also, you may argue that the passages I conntected should not be. However, such cross-referencing of teachings is not improper – in fact, it is part of concstructing a coherent, integrated systematic theology, that is, following the standard hermeneutic of translating scripture in balance with related scriptures.

    Now, you may argue that I related them or their ideas incorrectly. But understanding individual scriptures in light of related ones is an established method of interpretation, and that’s all I was attempting to do.

    >> BX: We are commanded, repeatedly, in the Bible to sell all our possessions, and to follow Christ. A literal reading of this passage demands, then poverty from each and every one of us to be ‘true’ believers.

    Not true. You are failing in many aspects of your interpretation. First, Jesus said it was hard, not impossible.

    Second, only the rich young ruler was commanded such. Zaccheus was not. Abraham was not.

    Third, Paul taught the rich to be generous and not haughty, but he did not command them to give away their riches in order to be spiritual, any more than Jesus commanded the Centurion to quit his job.

    Your theology of asceticism is unbalanced, and an example of developing a theology from one scripture applied in isolation. Not good. Christians can be wealthy or poor, and in either case, end up being spiritual or unspiritual, because it’s really a matter of the heart.

    Case in point, I think that the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is not based on a one-scripture theology, but consistent throughout. So not sure why you are pulling this “you are a hyperliteralist getting yoru theology from one view of one scripture” thing – it’s just not true.

    >> BX: Here we have the word translated as ‘Male Prostitutes’, followed by Sodomites.

    If you look in the article below, I discussed why ‘Sodomites’ is a bad translation (also translated incorrectly in my beloved NKJV) – actually, homosexual is a better translation of the Greek, which doens’t have any reference to Sodom at all.
    Debate: Is Homosexuality Compatible with Authentic Christianity?

    The Meaning of Arsenokotai – The Septuagint as Paul’s Reference, Not Society.
    Now of course the key term used by Paul here is so clear that great effort has been put out by revisionist writers to attempt to blunt its testimony and cause people to be confused as to its meaning. Paul draws here two terms from the Greek Septuagint that are found in Leviticus 20:13 in the combination of ‘homosexual’: arsinos, meaning male, and koitos, the term from which we get the word coitus, sexual intercourse. It refers to men laying with men as a man lays with a woman, i.e. homosexuality.

    Regarding translations and homosexuality, you may also be interested to read
    TSNT – Pro-gay NT translation? Part I

    >> BX: Revellers will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven…Yes, that’s right, those of you that enjoy a good party are NOT getting into the Kingdom of Heaven.

    LOL. You should read more closely – it’s ‘revilers’ not ‘revellers’.

    >> BK: Of course, being Jesus himself enjoyed a good party, and even provided the wine for it. Where does that leave us on Salvation?

    Hey, I’m with you there. That’s why I wrote and preached on 10 Biblical Points about Alcohol and Drinking. Tipsy OK, drunk no way, that’s my reading of the scriptures.

    >> JON: but wasn’t the sin of the sodomites one of not caring for strangers, being inhospitable – sexual sin being one part of their utter selfishness and lack of care for anything but their own desires?

    Yep. That’s why I wrote but wasn’t the sin of the sodomites one of not caring for strangers, being inhospitable – sexual sin being one part of their utter selfishness and lack of care for anything but their own desires?

    So while it is correct to say that the main sin of Sodom was inhospitality, the depth of their depravity is shown in the specific type of inhospitality they exhibited – unrestrained homosexual passions.

    Sorry for being so self-referential, but I’ve thought and read much on this, and only provide the links for those who are interested.

  147. danielg says:

    Jon, i twice submitted the same long response, it may be caught by your spam filter due to too many links. Please publish one of them if you can. Thx.

  148. Caroline Too says:

    I guess that I’m sad about this conversation…

    it seems that whenever we get on to homosexuality, the numbers of comments in a conversation goes way over 100 – can’t work out why it’s such an important subject, but hey it seems to be

    but this conversation started with a wonderful cartoon

    that probed us to think about what ‘doing church’ out there in the day-to-day world might look like, what we would have to do differently… etc

    and we?

    we’ve got talking about sex.. (so resonate with your plea in #142, Robb)

    and so we haven’t got to have a good conversation about a crucial aspect of church life: how we live our faith and community outside the church walls

    and that’s a missed opportunity

    and I’m sad about that

  149. Caroline Too says:

    Danielg

    I wonder; could you give us an abstract before diving into one of your essays?

    and you mentioned earlier that you weren’t trying to convince anyone, you were ony ‘defending your
    position’

    you don’t need to defend it, Danielg… it’s yours, we’ll respect it, agree with it,
    challenge it… but it’s yours and I don’t think that we’ll want to take it away from you.

    you see, one of the problems with writing to defend a particular position is that it tends to
    create a conversation where others will attack that position,

    and I can’t help but feel that attack/defend conversations are very unhealthy for a church
    family… it’s verbal tennis… just being bashed to and fro

    what I love about most of our ASBO conversations is when they avoid being ‘tennis’ conversations and
    become exploratory conversations, then they take me to new places, new ‘maybes’ and that’s when I learn

    I wonder, Danielg, do you think you could help us have conversations like that?

  150. BlackXanthus says:

    jon: Really sorry for opening this can of worms. I really thought this was going to be a simple debate.

    danielg: You What! I’ve read the site, and I’ve never, ever read such utter nonsense. A single meaning to scripture passages? Did you read my post about how you need to read the Midrash, and other Rabbinic literature to even understand what Mathew is trying to say(which was taken from The Face of New Testament Studies, A Survey of Recent Research, edited by Scot Mc Knight and Grant R. Osborne (published by Baker Academic, Michigan) 2004). I won’t even start with the invalidity of self-referencing to prove a point. I cannot see anywhere on your sight with what authority you are talking, other than by your own authority. I also have to say that the site you referenced is the standard narrow-visioned, racist, and probably sexist sight that compleatly misses the point of this blog, the people on it, or the aims of ASBO Jesus (as I see them).

    There are many different reading of scripture, it’s the reason why it’s a Mystery Religion. (ref: Rev. Peter Sedgwick, Christian Ethics, Simon Woodman, Baptist Minister & New Testament Scholar, writer of “Revelation”, published by SCM). I can see why, to your conservative mind, you would rather there was one reading, and that that reading matched yours. Your disregard for my ascetic reading of the Bible does show that you, like many other conservatives, have a reading that is not inherent in the text as given. You, like us, when it doesn’t match what you’d like to see say “that doesn’t match with the rest of the Bible”. It is the same argument that we put forward for inclusivity. Inclusivity and hospitality are all through the Old Testament. It is these two that are often failings of the great Cities, it is these that are offered to Christ, and by Christ though His Passion to the rest of humanity.

    This entire argument about the hermeneutics of the Bible is probably no-longer suitable for here, as it will quickly become very academic. Your disregard for the NRSV, which is held as the Scholars Bible by Scholars at the University of Cardiff, University of Wales, University of Bangor, and the University of Manchester (to name a few), means that simply finding a common ground is going to be difficult. A simple glance at your site shows that we disagree on pretty much all of the hot-topics, ranging from Creationism, through to abortion, to Homosexuality.

    Your views, are simply that. Perhaps you should take a look at some of the other posts here on ASBO Jesus, For example 787, 775, and 774 to name a few. This argument has been rehearsed by greater scholars than I all over the web. Perhaps you should see that we happen to see YOUR view as wrong, perhaps WE should try to CORRECT your view.

    ~BX

  151. BlackXanthus says:

    ummm…

    It appears that the last sentence looses something without body language. It’s meant to basically echo what Caroline Too said (who managed to post twice while I was writing my response =) ).

    Caroline Too: Very true. The Church does spend a lot of time hiding behind it’s walls. Because it’s safe. Because evangelism is difficult for a lot of people.For me, for example, I’m a pluralist. I see no problem with people holding the views that they hold, and so the idea of “converting” people doesn’t fit right with me. How then, do I take this message out to people? How can I show them that the Church, at least, the way I see it, is not a large building with a closed door, but rather a collection of people who are trying to help each other.

    ~BX

  152. JF says:

    Danielg, at the risk of repeating myself, your interpretation of the Bible is not a result of what is in the Bible. It is a result of your interpretation. That is the Truth.

  153. jonbirch says:

    bx. you never opened any can of worms. the can was open when you joined in. so, please, no need for apology.

    caroline too. i utterly agree. it is sad. as i’ve said a few times on this thread… how did it go from from a cartoon about one thing and move on to sexuality? my fear is that usual contributors or readers may be put off by the tone of the adversarial debate here. i certainly enjoy it less and find it a little stressful if i’m honest.

    danielg… not too surprised that the spam filter caught your post… it’s long! :lol:

    OK ALL… here’s what i am suggesting…

    let’s draw a line under this one. there is no need to discuss further and nothing to be gained. neither side of the debate is going to be swayed by the other and that is very clear. i think we all know what each other thinks now.

    I am asking that we all respect other users of this blog who have not had a say… i am also asking for a less adversarial response to future posts. there are other ways of holding and sharing different views with one another which are healthier and more life affirming.

    btw… i have no problem with people disagreeing with an idea or conviction i put forward in a cartoon. but dogs with bones must play down the other end of the garden, as it’s noisy and a little off putting to everyone else who’s trying to listen and learn, share and join in. :lol: just thought of that illustration, hope it’s not rude. :-)

    also… please note, that i am very grateful to you all for inputting on this blog, so my concerns and requests must be seen in that context.

    okay… enough said… i shall now draw a line…

    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  154. subo says:

    respect to the line

  155. BlackXanthus says:

    * chases the bone to the end of the garden * ;)

  156. jonbirch says:

    haha. that really is a lovely image i have. ;-)

  157. dadube says:

    lol BX! Thanks jon, moving onto a new ‘toon as I daren’t start ranting AGAIN!!!!!! xxxx

  158. dadube says:

    not that I ranted on this particular issue this time :)

  159. danielg says:

    I will respect the line, but I did not want bx’s claims to stand unchallenged. BX, I invite you over to my site, twoorthree.net, where we open can’s of worms for breakfast, season them with wit, and pull out the occasional half-baked troll.

    The purpose of my site is to logically and reasonably argue for a biblical world view – that is, answer questions, not just ask them.

    I really do appreciate the purpose of this site, they both have their place.

  160. Tiggy says:

    What you do here Daniel rather goes against your own purposes as the things you say are unlikely to make any of us change our minds about the views we hold. Real people don’t alter their values to fit in with someone’s interpretation of a book so the only effect is to put people off Christianity – that is if they accept that it is the way you present it. It’s certainly putting me off and I would rather it didn’t as I have held a faith in Christ since I was 12. Your attitudes are actually putting me off going to church and I wasn’t going to come on here for a w hile, but I forgot – lol! I know you are well meaning, but it’s probably not going to have the effect you desire.

  161. danielg says:

    >> TIG: Real people don’t alter their values to fit in with someone’s interpretation of a book so the only effect is to put people off Christianity.

    My bad. My assumption was that real Christians see the scriptures as the guide for Christian living, and hold them in esteem above their church, their experience, and their limited reason (see The Wesleyan Quadrangle).

    I think Christians ought to be interested more in what the scriptures do say than what their unrenewed minds think.

    But you are correct, for Christians who fail to hold the bible in high esteem or use reason to understand what God has to say, I am probably wasting my time.

    I think that I may have to take a different tack – a softer one like I would use with unbelievers. That is the sad fact, that most Christians are so biblically illiterate that they think that Paul commanded us to not be ‘revellers.’

    I am disappointed.

  162. BlackXanthus says:

    danielg : There was a line. You just ran over it, probably in a large gas-guzzling American car.

    The people who comment here are by and large some of the most Christian People I have ever had the pleasure to read. I don’t normally comment on boards, but your responses force me too.

    Your passive-agressive response is what gives the rest of us a bad name. The back-handed slights, and attacks on people’s faith is what has meant the rest of us dealing with finding ways of filling our churches by explaining to people that the majority of us do not hold such narrow views, and have a vast ream of Theology to back us up.

    I am proud that I came to Christ DESPITE the views you claim to find in the Bible.

    To the rest of the comenters: I am very, very, very sorry for danielg. Please, please, please do not see his views as those espoused by the majority of Churches here in the UK. Saddly, there are Churches who use the same tactics, but there is a growing number of us that are fighting this. There are growing groups like the SCP (Society for (liberal) Catholic Priests), and the Inclusive Church. Do not give up on the Church just yet. We want it to change, just as much as you do.

    Thanks,

    ~BX

  163. danielg says:

    BX, stop whining.

    And btw, here’s an interesting five parter comparing the NRSV, NASB, and ESV.
    Search for a formal translation: NASB vs ESV vs NRSV — a conclusion

    Conclusion? They are all very good. But I stand by my reasoning that the NRSV, and my beloved NKJV, are entirely in error translating the new testament words in Paul’s letters as “Sodomites” – the Greek has no mention of Sodom at all, but uses a word that is best translated ‘homosexual’ – it’s just that in older English, the word ‘Sodomite’ was used to mean exactly that, which makes for some regretful confusion, since Paul is not referring to Sodom at all.

  164. jonbirch says:

    daniel @ 163… that’s unfair, and not so deep down you know it is.

  165. Robb says:

    I can’t believe I deleted my rather small comment of “I didn’t say that the mill stone ‘will be’ but that it ‘would be better’”.

    DanielG – You didn’t cross “the line” – you have crossed “the line of human decency”. If you have to resort to insulting people to make your argument work it means that you have lost the debate and started an argument. I suggest you chill out, have a cup of tea and a long look in the mirror before you venture back onto the internet. You are only two or three posts away from Godwin’s Law!!

    And now I am more upset that you have made me act like a teacher in the playground!

  166. Sophie says:

    Well, I while back I checked here with the intention of making a joke about making it to 200 comments. I saw the line though, so didn’t say anything.

    Tragically Robb, Godwins Law could have been mentioned way back before even 100. ;)

  167. JF says:

    I accepted your invitation to twoorthree.net, danielg.

    I found a site full of hatred, misinformation, judgementalism and puerile innuendo.

    I won’t be going there again.

    Did you say you are a preacher? WTF!

  168. danielg says:

    Well, I’m not sure what you think is hateful (though if you are liberal, just about all moral disapproval of homosexuality is considered hate), as is moral disgust with it (though your moral disgust with me seems ok?).

    Anyway, I’m sorry that you can not be more specific, since blanket condemnations don’t help anyone, but I am also sorry that you seem to be so offended. Isn’t love not easily offended?

    If you think I am in the wrong, perhaps you need to be salt and light instead of holing up in your own world.

  169. danielg says:

    And yes, I am an assistant pastor – if you dare venture past your superficial reactions, you can listen to any of my sermons under the podcasts category, and make a more informed decision. You may be surprised.

  170. danielg says:

    >> and puerile innuendo.

    Oh, and if all you read was the biting humor of the Disney article, you should probably just avoid the posts in the Humor category altogether. You probably are too sensitive for biting satire. You may find it INsensitive.

  171. danielg says:

    >> ROBB: You are only two or three posts away from Godwin’s Law!!

    I am sorry that so many are willing to call me racist, hateful, and indecent, and that without examples. ‘You people’ are so reactive!

    At least Jon has been patient and kind in his ‘rebukes.’

  172. jonbirch says:

    sophie @ 168… you get brownie points for noticing the line. :-)

    here’s another line.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  173. Phil Greig says:

    at least the vicar is outside the door…

    why do we have apologise for having church buildings in our communities?

  174. Pingback: » Random Acts of Linkage #133 ::: Subversive Influence

  175. Ali Campbell says:

    You could have also done this the other way round (Hey, get offline! – to a young person holed up in the room -networking with the reply, Hey, get online!) The issue isn’t the geographical space people are expected to come to . . . many churches / leaders can’t make a journey of the mind / heart to truly inhabit the place where those they SAY they want to “reach” actually live.

  176. Tiggy says:

    Aww, your picture of a tent made me feel homesick for Greenbelt.

  177. jonbirch says:

    ali… good point well made.

  178. Pingback: 5 ways you can celebrate Advent online « Signposts 02

  179. Pingback: Robert’s Blog » Blog Archive » come on out

  180. Pingback: Another Cartoon Explains “Missional” | Missional Field Notes

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