Grace for Gays?

To me, the rejection of the Christianity of gay people is similar to the rejection of the Christianity of Mormons.  Traditional Christians reject Mormons Christians for their rejection of orthodox formulations of Christian doctrine/dogma, they reject gay Christians for rejection of traditional behavioral norms.

Being new to traditional Christianity, I have some serious questions about how the Christian community currently rejects/embrace Christians who live non-traditional lifestyles such as gay marriage. If you have some time, let me know your best thoughts on these:

(1) What is the most compelling Christian theological justification for classifying sin such as homosexuality as more or less abominable in the eyes of God?

(2) Is requiring heterosexual practice in order to accept a person into a Christian fold any different in principle than requiring circumcision?

Advertisements

166 thoughts on “Grace for Gays?

  1. I am not, and never have been, interested in determining how “Mormon” someone is for having one sin or another. However, homosexual sex is grounds for not having a temple recommend, and I think this is correct. Homosexual sex is a moral deficiency and a deficiency of human intimacy.

    Lying is bad too, and I’m not in the business of saying whose sins are worse. But I do not consider gay sex a good thing, and I consider gay marriage a bad thing for society on pragmatic rather than scriptural grounds.

    Unlike sex between married heterosexuals who are not trying to have children and infertile couples, gay sex takes sex out of the class of jointly creative acts entirely and turns sex entirely into something exploitative and recreational. Acknowledging it as the norm is simply an acknowledgement that sex is more about personal orgasm than mutual sharing

    There’s always been an element of focus on personal pleasure in sex socially. Nothing new there. But we’ve never tried to enshrine that aspect as primary like we have in the last 10 years. It’s going to profoundly damage society.

  2. (1) There is no compelling theological justification for classifying homosexuality as sin, period, let alone more or less abominable in the eyes of God.

    (2) Is requiring heterosexual practice in order to accept a person into a Christian fold any different in principle than requiring circumcision?

    Yes, because at least circumcision is an admittedly cultural/religious requirement, whereas homosexuality is a state of being created by God. Requiring heterosexual practice is like requiring white skin or male genitals to accept a person into the fold.

    Seth’s framing of homosexuality is (not surprisingly) abhorrent, objectifying, and inhumane.

  3. Katie,
    Is your belief that homosexuality was created by God your personal view only or do you base it in any theological compelling evidence in Scripture?

  4. Here’s how my church discusses the topic.
    http://missionviejo.rockharbor.org/message/questions-series-sexuality/
    (I think you will see that those who say that homosexual acts are not sinful are speaking outside of a biblical framework)

    I’m not sure what you’re hoping me to answer in regards to question #1. Homosexual acts are only more abhorrent that other sorts of sin only in the respect that some sins carry greater earthly consequences than others. A person who has committed of homosexual sin is no more or less rejected from my community than someone who uses pornography or cheats on their taxes. (they’re first welcomed and accepted and second encourage to go and sin no more).

    As far as #2 – heterosexuality is not a requirement for participation in our body. As the young man giving his testimony in my link says “the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, it’s holiness”. What we require is chastity and holiness. Sexuality can only properly be expressed in the context of a covenant marriage between a man and a woman. ANY other practice is a distortion of what God intended for men and women.

    Only 90% of all adults are married at any point in their life. What we expect from the 1-3% who experience same-sex attraction is the same thing we except from the 97% who don’t.

  5. Isn’t it obvious that homosexuality is created by God, just like all sexuality was created by God?

    I think we better parse out the words “created” and “intended”. Creation is fallen. Not all things are as God intended. You might as well be saying that murder was created by God (because it exists).

  6. It’s based on science and the self-description of LGBTQ people who are autonomous, living human beings able to define and explain their own experiences. It is not the same as murder because LGBTQ people can flourish and grow spiritually, socially, and relationally in the same transformative ways that heterosexual people can.

  7. Unlike sex between married heterosexuals who are not trying to have children and infertile couples, gay sex takes sex out of the class of jointly creative acts entirely and turns sex entirely into something exploitative and recreational. Acknowledging it as the norm is simply an acknowledgement that sex is more about personal orgasm than mutual sharing

    This seems completely unreasonable in the context of gay marriage.

    The LDS Church can justify exclusion of gay people by its own policies and claims executive authority over the church. But I can’t see that they can justify this exclusion based on the Gospel.

  8. “Isn’t it obvious that homosexuality is created by God, just like all sexuality was created by God?”

    No, it really isn’t. Specifically, because He condemns it in Scripture. If He had made people homosexuals when he created them, it would be now be very wrong to label the behavior as sinful, no?
    Also, when you say that “all sexuality” was created by God, you would have to make room under that umbrella for all types of sexual behavior that deviates from the one man/ one woman normative. Ex: the NAMBLA people and pedophilia, polygamy, polyandry, adultery, fornication, bestiality… It just goes on and on because people will keep on saying that they have natural inclinations, desires and propensities for many kinds of sexual behavior. If God were not to reign us in and determine boundaries, complete chaos is what would ensue. As it has, as history of ancient empires and civilizations have shown us more than once.

  9. I’ve had trouble with this subject for some time, mostly because I am devoted Christian, and I happen to be gay.
    It’s sad to know that here I am, a follower of Jesus and yet the rest of society still classifies me as only gay when in reality I am human. What has me going every day, is that I know that God loves me, just the way that he loves you and the guy two blocks down the road. Guess what we are all sinners. So instead of judging people let God do it.

  10. Having said that, and to answer your question, sin is sin and all who come to Jesus in faith for redemptions of such sins, He does not turn away. We are told to “come as we are” as we cannot change the sin in us by ourselves. But Christ does not leaves us as we are. Once His Spirit is living inside us, then the process of transformations and sanctification begins. We are to be molded in the image of He who bought us at a price.
    I like 1 Corinthians 6 for clarification.

  11. Solange,

    I agree completely with what you said. And you didn’t say people such as The Greek in Chic are not Christians, and you certainly didn’t say that they aren’t loved by God.

  12. What we require is chastity and holiness. Sexuality can only properly be expressed in the context of a covenant marriage between a man and a woman. ANY other practice is a distortion of what God intended for men and women.

    I am not advocating a position at this point, but I think these arguments seem to be an unreasonable interpretation of the Gospel and the church. What God intended for humans is merely that they bring him glory through righteousness. On balance, it is hard for me to agree that the gays who are married are less righteous than the heteros who are married, even if their sex practice is not what nature/God “intended.”

    Considering how fallen all Christians are, and deviating from what God intended, I wonder how the body of Christ can exclude gays who confess Christ based on their lack of compliance with the law of Moses. A married Christian gay couple who relies on Christ alone for salvation does not seem to be more or less fallen/holy than the married hetero couple that does the same when they participate in sex. Their desire for children is/can be considered as sinful or fallen as their desire for sexual gratification.

    I guess I am having a hard time parsing out why people who are created in a way that makes them more suited for gay marriage should not be considered part of the body of Christ simply because they seek out a way of life that allows them a healthy/loving/stable outlet for their sexuality.

    Paul rejected Judaizers who attempted to make compliance with the law (i.e. a certain kind of holiness) part of the requirements for membership in the church. It almost seems like we are denying the gospel to not reasonably consider the context of fallen sexual practices, especially when the context includes a determined biological component.

  13. Solange,

    My first comment was in reaction to your 6:51 pm comment. Your 6:59 comment was just as good. Thanks.

  14. The Greek in Chic,

    I think the secular media misrepresenting Christians, and Christians misrepresenting Jesus, have given people like yourself a bad rap. Jesus calls us to sexual purity not because he doesn’t love us but because he DOES love us.
    Would you rather be more heterosexual?

  15. Also, when you say that “all sexuality” was created by God, you would have to make room under that umbrella for all types of sexual behavior that deviates from the one man/ one woman normative. Ex: the NAMBLA people and pedophilia, polygamy, polyandry, adultery, fornication, bestiality…

    God created satan and created our biology so all of this sinful behavior falls under the same umbrella. Jesus did not make any exceptions, even for slight deviations from the law. The law condemns us all.

    If God were not to reign us in and determine boundaries, complete chaos is what would ensue. As it has, as history of ancient empires and civilizations have shown us more than once.

    This is the argument for a Mormon-style interpretation of how the church should operate. The LDS church makes rules for behavior and acceptance in order to maintain order and cohesiveness among the church.

    I don’t think that the Christian who does not agree with a “high church” position has these arguments available. Christianity has always been for the sinners, including the politicians, soldiers and slaves forced to commit atrocities and unholiness in the name of duty.

    The criminal law is generally considered the limits of whether society will embrace a sinner. I don’t see why the church should have greater barriers of acceptance of the confessing Christian than the worldly government. How can we tell that God has not saved a gay person who is reasonably and conscientiously practicing sexuality within a marriage commitment?

    Also, gay marriage has as much to do with “NAMBLA people, pedophilia, etc.” as killing in self-defense has to do with murder.

  16. Hi Jared,

    You said, “On balance, it is hard for me to agree that the gays who are married are less righteous than the heteros who are married.”

    I don’t doubt that gays who are “married” are often as godly as heteros who are married.

    There’s another factor to consider here. Do the gay people who want to be an integral part of the Christian community promoting their lifestyle or are they admitting their weaknesses and reaching for Jesus to help them change?

  17. Thanks, Tim. Yes, it is a good distinction to make for clarity’s sake.
    I always think in pre-Fall terms when I think of God’s creation in the ways we are talking about here but it may not be the same for everyone.

  18. their lifestyle

    I submit that the gay married lifestyle is essentially the same as the straight married lifestyle, except without vaginal sexual intercourse. Those who are gay and Christian and want to be married are generally standing for their recognition of the wholesomeness of their lifestyle rather than the deviance from the law of Moses.

  19. Cal,

    I think the entire issue is whether or not homosexuality should be recognized as a weakness.

    There are all sorts of shortcomings and deficiencies and issues that people can have. But the thing is…homosexuality just doesn’t fit. Seth wants to talk about homosexuality and lying, and although he doesn’t want to compare them, he does think they are comparable as sins that are moral deficiencies or deficiencies of human intimacy. But this just doesn’t fit with a lot of folks’ lived experiences.

  20. Jared asked, “Is requiring heterosexual practice in order to accept a person into a Christian fold any different in principle than requiring circumcision?”

    Yes. Paul said it doesn’t matter whether you’re circumcised or not—although if you get circumcised because you think it makes you acceptable to God, you’re on dangerous ground if not over the cliff.
    On the other hand, homosexuality is a sin, period. I won’t quote Scripture because everyone here probably already knows what it says.

    I can’t over-stress that the reason God wants us to follow his principles is because he loves us and he wants us to honor him and be a blessing to others. I feel sorry for those who are hardening their hearts to the truth here. If I’m off track in some area, I want people to tell me.

  21. Katie, so it’s based on a field that has divorced itself from God and those with a self serving interpretation?

    slowcowboy, so your interpretation is based on an ignorant ideology that has divorced itself from reason and you cling to a narrow interpretation out of fear of being wrong?

    (In other words, two can play at that game; engage with the substance of the arguments, not sloppy stereotypes and ad hominen attacks.)

  22. We NEVER reject gay people in our church. We had one gay f allow on our church council. He read the Scriptures in church on Sunday and for years there wasn’t a problem. Until he asked the pastor to affirm his sin. He w anted us to give the stamp of approval on his lifestyle. No way…no how. And we would not do the same for any glutton, liar, adulterer, or gossip.
    The church ought never affirm sin…no matter how far back people have been committing that sin.

    We are ALL born liars (Jesus said so), are we not? Does that make it ok?

  23. Hi Andrew S.

    I believe in being softer on you than others here who stand up for gay unions because you are without the advantage of having the Holy Spirit to open your eyes. Jesus said to the Pharisees who opposed him, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9:41).
    I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years and I have never had an experience where I could say the Bible’s advice wasn’t good. But sometimes it takes awhile for the good or bad consequences—which ever the case may be—to boomerang back.

    I think I asked you this before: Have you ever considered becoming a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who suffered horribly for your sins and mine? He is calling you. He loves you far more than any human has ever loved you.

    Have a good evening.

  24. theoldadam, I’m glad to hear that your church hasn’t bowed to political correctness. Political correctness on the gay issue is like someone telling a smoker to keep smoking. That’s not love; it’s sick. Thanks for your comments.

  25. Except that, Katie, most (not all) scientists are not strong believers believers in God and gays do have a self interest in affirming their behavior. There is nothing stereotypical or ad hominem about either point.

    The significance is that neither is good guide to determine whether homosexual behavior is God ordained. I am sure you know what the Bible says about the behavior. In fact, an entire city was leveled largely because of it and a term describing said behavior derives from that city. Hardly an endorsement from God.

    Now, to answer the question on whether gays can be Christian, sure. But sodomy and homosexual behavior is a sin, just as drunkenness, lying, adultery, idolatory, etc. are some. These people are no worse than I am, as long as they strive to avoid the behavior.

  26. slowcowboy, would you say that science has anything to teach us about God or the universe?

    And stop with the justification of your poor argumentation: except that, slowcowboy, most (not all) conservative Christians really do have an ignorant worldview and are trying to cling to a narrow interpretation out of fear. Nothing stereotypical or ad hominen about that!

    (I don’t believe that, but I’m demonstrating the absurdity of your argument. Just, stop with that. It’s bad form.)

  27. Just an observation: one of the big arguments offered here (and elsewhere) for the allowance of homosexual behavior is how fallen the rest of Christianity. Does that bother other Christians as much as it bothers me? It bothers me because it shows how fallen we are, and it is a wake up call to how much people are listening to and watching us…

  28. Just an observation: one of the big arguments offered here (and elsewhere) for the allowance of homosexual behavior is how fallen the rest of Christianity. Does that bother other Christians as much as it bothers me? It bothers me because it shows how fallen we are, and it is a wake up call to how much people are listening to and watching us…

    I agree with you there that that’s a bad argument and entirely misses the heart of this issue.

  29. Pingback: The Lost Opportunity to Preach Homonormativity | Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  30. Katie, my argument is solid. Most scientists are not believers, or do you deny that? Do gays have a self serving reason to admit their behavior is bad and against God’s wishes?

  31. Cal,

    Christianity doesn’t seem that appealing to me. That it is a religion where both Katie L and yourself can be members is very interesting, but that more members unironically say things like “Homosexual sex is a moral deficiency” or classify homosexuality in similar terms to lying, etc., makes it seem like the Katie L’s are an exception. In any case, I don’t really see Christians as being all that different or better than average folks, with the exception that Christians seem to be motivated to be more judgmental on certain issues (like homosexuality) and to try to enshrine those views into law not based on an evaluation of actual experience, but on theological commitments.

  32. “Also, gay marriage has as much to do with “NAMBLA people, pedophilia, etc.” as killing in self-defense has to do with murder.”
    Yes, I can see your point there, as in one case, one is a child. Mine intention though, despite the hyperbole, was to demonstrate that in all those examples, people’s reasoning is that “they feel what they feel and that is the way they are”, may it be a sexual attraction for the same sex, or for children, or to be an adulterer, etc.
    Sexuality is a huge part of the human make-up and by definition, very complex. I could not say that science has proven and discovered all the complexities involving homosexuality. But I will point to studies of identical twins who have been separated at birth and later tested in different areas, sexuality being one of them, showing that two individuals with identical genetic make-up do not necessarily have the same sexual orientation. So, therefore, the argument that God made someone gay, cannot be supported in science either, as if it were the case then identical twins with the same genetic code would ALWAYS have to be BOTH either gay or straight.

  33. Andrew just brought up t be argument that Christians aren’t that compelling because they aren’t that different from everyone else. So true, though we should be…

  34. slowcowboy,

    It’s not just that Christians aren’t that different. It’s that in the places where Christians are different (e.g., holdouts against homosexuality, contraception, etc.,) it’s not in a good way.

    It would be one thing if people said, “Christians are people who may be flawed, but they are generally striving to improve their lives and doing a pretty good job at this.” But that’s not really the conclusion that non-Christians draw. And it’s in part because of the theology you cling to.

  35. “God created satan and created our biology so all of this sinful behavior falls under the same umbrella. Jesus did not make any exceptions, even for slight deviations from the law. The law condemns us all.”

    I believe I have touched on that already when I said that when we first come to Christ to receive him as Lord and Savior, we come as we are, but his goal is not for us to just stay that way. We are to grow into his image in holiness. Otherwise, why did he die for?
    He is the one who makes the rules as to what is acceptable and what is not.
    He was very loving towards the woman caught in adultery but he also told her to go and “sin no more.”

  36. Andrew, just be sure you adequately understand the Christian position. Almost universally and independently the Christians here in one form or another said we should embrace gays but not the behavior. We do not, despite, sentiments to the contrary, reject gay people. We don’t reject anyone, except those who taunt God. Openly living in sin is taunting God.

    Now, why is homosexual behavior a sin? Ask God, not me. God clearly spells out it our as sinful. I could offer my practical and anatomical reasons but I suspect you will reject those arguments.

  37. slowcowboy,

    Yeah, your “Love the sinner, not the sin” position is duly noted. But as you yourself note, you don’t really have any answer for why homosexual behavior is a sin other than to “ask God”. You don’t have anything from God saying it’s a sin except for what other human beings have written down, and then you have “practical and anatomical reasons” that you note that I would reject (because they are ad hoc) and that most people (can’t assume about you) probably would not apply to straight people undergoing the varieties of sexual experiences in a marriage.

  38. What is the most compelling Christian theological justification for classifying sin such as homosexuality as more or less abominable in the eyes of God?

    I generally recommend this book by William Webb as a well thought out, non question begging defense of categorizing homosexuality as a sin.

    For me the most compelling reason to not declassify it as a sin is that there simply isn’t a need to. Jesus already provided the mechanism to save any sinner. Jesus saves homosexuals just like he saves anyone else who has faith in Him. Our attempts to declassify sin are mainly an attempt to help out Jesus, to make sure he doesn’t quite have to atone for stuff he needn’t atone for. Which is pointless, the work of the cross is done, we aren’t saving Him any trouble.

    Is requiring heterosexual practice in order to accept a person into a Christian fold any different in principle than requiring circumcision?

    No one requires heterosexual practice to accept a person into the Christian fold. Otherwise we would have to require unmarried teenagers to regularly engage in heterosexual sex. Of course, that’s not what you meant, but I think bringing out the literal meaning of the sentence shows how it assumes that everyone is engaging in some form of sex, which isn’t the case.

    I guess I am having a hard time parsing out why people who are created in a way that makes them more suited for gay marriage should not be considered part of the body of Christ simply because they seek out a way of life that allows them a healthy/loving/stable outlet for their sexuality.

    To put it bluntly, the real purpose of life has nothing to do with where you stick your genitals. However, modern society has basically said the exact opposite: everything good, holy, and free in modern society revolves around sex. The point of life is not to have a healthy/loving/stable outlet for sexuality. I think the quicker Christians remember this, the quicker they will start thinking clearly on matters of sex and marriage.

    Also, just as a reminder, for Christians sex is a this life only thing. It’s a necessity for the species. Mormonism celestializes sex while Christianity does not.

  39. God’s Word on homosexuality is unambiguous. The act is a sin.

    We are ALL sinners and our sins are just as damning, as far as righteousness goes.

    It’s a hard word for gays to hear…but the church can NEVER affirm sin…of any kind.

    People naturally want to hear more generous words than the Word of God. God is not fooling around with this place. He has consigned ALL things to sin. The wrath of God is being players out against sin in this fallen place.

    The sick need a doctor. If you’re not sick…then what need of a doctor do you have?

  40. Andrew’s a smart guy. He gets that position. It’s just that it’s completely uncompelling because it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

    PS Andrew, FWIW, there’s a large and growing group of Christians who see this issue a lot like me. You won’t find them hanging around here or the Mormon corners of the internet, but check out my new church’s statement on sexuality, for example.

    One day all this will be placed on the same pile of history where we put religious justification for slavery, the Inquisition, and the oppression of women.

    I gotta peace out on this one guys, I get too fired up and it’s not good for me. I shouldn’t have even started.

    /end yage

  41. Katie, being a human being doesn’t give you a free pass from criticism of your lifestyle.

    Of course gay people are people.

    No freaking duh. Nothing I said indicated otherwise.

    But they are also deeply messed up people who need to repent.

  42. Andrew, people can get used to a lot of lifestyles. You can get used to lying, you can get used to laziness, you can get used to depression, you can get used to diabetes, you can get used to poverty, you can get used to chronic pain, you can get used to ADD, you can get used to homosexuality.

    Which counts for absolutely zero in our calculus as to whether homosexual sex is something to be promoted or not.

    I frankly don’t care if gay people’s lived experience doesn’t match with it being a sin and being an ultimate problem for society. Because their anecdotes don’t change the equation. I don’t care if there are nice gay people. Gay marriage is still going to destroy the institution of marriage entirely and equivocate the sexes in ways that will profoundly undermine society and make it a more toxic place for everyone.

    Every law or movement winds up hurting someone’s feelings. I’m not planning on backing off on this just because some gay people’s feelings are going to be hurt.

  43. Seth,

    You can “get used to” lying, laziness, depression, diabetes, etc., etc., etc, but all of those things hinder lives. You can say that trying to resolve depression, diabetes, etc., etc., will improve life outcomes.

    This quite simply is not the same case for homosexuality. You have to find *other* things (which typically are also possible for heterosexuals) to make that the case. That’s why your comparison is baffling. Your definition of “toxicity” or what an “undermined” society would look like simply lacks credibility if you can’t tell the difference here. What’s even worse, is that when people try to “cure” homosexuality, that leads to self-deceit, lying, dishonesty, self-rejection, etc., Because it is not a thing to be “resolved”. It is not an illness to be cured. Those are bad fruits right there. But you know what: people can “get used to that” too.

    If you want to fight against promiscuity, go fight against that. If you want to fight against lack of commitment, then go fight against that. But if you want to fight about that, you will not be fighting against homosexuality. You will be fighting against things that straight people and gay people both may or may not do. But when you say that homosexuality in and of itself is “an ultimate problem for society,” then that lacks credibility.

  44. Jared, is it your understanding that Christians only condemn homosexuality in an effort to get people to abide by the defunct Law of Moses?

  45. Tim,
    Some condemn it because it is considered an act against nature. Some consider it to be a mental disorder. I think most of the arguments against considering practicing homosexuals as Christians are based on Biblical condemnation of the practice.

  46. Interesting developments for those not aware: some gays are practicing what would be considered polygamy if they were heterosexual. Males in Thailand and females in (if I remember correctly) Massachusetts.

    Not all gays are for marriage equality, and not all gays believe gays should be married and raise children. To start, look up Dolce and Gabana, two famous European fashion designers who are gay. Other gays are saying the same thing.

  47. I am not sure why it is controversial to say that men and women are designed, whether from a creator or through nature itself, for each other. Its clear the anatomy of men and women compliment each other, and not in and among themselves. Male anatomy just doesn’t fit with other males, and female anatomy just doesn’t fit with females. I don’t see how anyone can argue against that.

    As to attraction to other men or women from the same gender, I suppose you could say that is a design, too, but there is no consensus on whether folks are born a given way or learn it, or even choose it, through life experience. Therefore, concluding, with certainty, that men and women are designed attracted to the same sex seems premature.

    The argument, as I see it, becomes one of emotion. And its hard to say that the seemingly natural behavior of some people can be sinful is perhaps difficult to grasp. After all, isn’t such a position that this behavior is sinful condemning someone for something that seems very normal to them, something they didn’t choose much like they would a flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robins?

    Maybe, but the Bible is clear that homosexual behavior is sinful. God destroyed an entire city for it, and the term sodomy comes exactly from that incident. I don’t see much ambiguity there, but that’s what you have to find to say that God does not deplore homosexual behavior. You have to deny God, or you have to find a reason that God really doesn’t mean to dislike homosexual acts. That’s exactly what people are doing (see Katie’s arguments and Andrew’s arguments, and others).

    And none of these arguments address the very love God has for everyone. Its not like God is rejoicing that people live in sin. Further, attraction to same sex is one thing: acting is another. Giving into temptation is the problem. And none of these arguments address the very real point that Christians live in sin, too. The difference between other Christians in sin and gays is that alcoholics aren’t fighting to erase the sin perception. You don’t see adulterers arguing that it is not a sin to cheat on a spouse. No believer thinks sin is good.

    The question is whether homosexual acts are sinful I don’t see how they can not be sinful, according to the Bible. And if we say that the Bible is wrong, what else is it wrong about? What else can we excuse away? There becomes no reason to trust the Bible on anything about living out life or about God if we accept that it is wrong on this point.

  48. If you look at Sodom and Gomorrah and only see homosexuality vs, say, pride, inhospitality, failure to assist the poor and needy, or, if you want to get sexual, *rape*, then I don’t really see the credibility here…

    ” 49 This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.”

    but i mean go ahead and just assert that consensual committed gay relationships are really part of the abominable things here.

  49. From Genesis 19: “1The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

    4But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.”

    Do you mean to tell me that the homosexual activity was not a huge part of the abominable things? Do you not think it was part of the pride, that they might do things these things to despite its perversion? And do you think this is the only place where homosexual activity is decried?

    Its not ambiguous, Andrew. Its very clear.

  50. To the affirming homosexuality side (Andrew, Katie), I have to say that I’m with you, but you should really not be surprised when Bible believers make statements that are the similarly or less offensive to you than the words on the page. I’m in favor of being open to different theologies and Biblical interpretations. That also means the traditional as well.

    Seth, it should mean something when gay teens are killing themselves. It should mean something when gay couples marry, raise normal, happy healthy children. It should mean something when science and countless stories tell us that people are born gay. The LDS Church certainly took notice, dramatically changing how they teach and minister to homosexuals.

    https://www.lds.org/manual/god-loveth-his-children/god-loveth-his-children?lang=eng

    Jared, the crux for me is how people pick and choose their interpretation. There are no atheists in a fox hole and no one who takes the Bible seriously in an ER or on a 911 call. We love science until it challenges our world views.

  51. Well Andrew, when people leave homosexuality alone, the results don’t seem to be much better.

  52. I agree with Hugh Nibley that the defining sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was pride and cruelty, not sodomy.

  53. Yes, it means something Christian. But there is literally zero evidence that that the gay teen suicide rate has anything to do with religion.

  54. Science. Science is generally a good thing. However, its not so much about challenging my world view than it is about relying on it to explain all things. Contrary to popular opinion in some circles, science has not proven that homosexuality is genetic. It hasn’t ruled it out, but it has not proven that in any form or fashion.

    As I said, this discussion is about emotion rather than fact.

    What do I see are facts? Male anatomy is designed (again, whether designed by a designer or by natural selection) to be compatible with female anatomy. Science has not proven anything as to the natural existence of homosexuals. Homosexuals do exist and claim they have not decided anything– they just like the same sex. Homosexuals are often good, otherwise normal people living lives with the same goals of happiness as heterosexuals. Competency wise, there is no difference between the two. The Bible expressly states homosexuality is a sin.

    Those are the facts. I may have missed some, sure, but generally, those about explain what we know. The answers question of whether homosexual activity is sinful are based on how we view the Bible and our faith. For those, like myself, who believe the Bible to be the literal word of God, its hard to say that homosexual acts are not sinful. However, if you don’t believe in God to begin with or believe not all of the Bible reflects God’s will, then you can excuse away the prohibitions against homosexual activity.

    Anyway, that’s how I see the discussion.

  55. Smallcowboy,

    If you do not see that unambiguously, the problem in that story is rape, and you can’t see the difference between rape and consensual committed relationships, then there’s not really anything I can say about that.

    Seth R,

    I’m not even saying (necessarily) that Christians should “leave homosexuality alone”. It just seems to me that it should be consistent about promoting its own message about commitment. It just baffles me how it seems Christians can see no difference between promiscuity, downright rape, and consensual, committed relationships.

  56. Homosexual activity was a huge part of the pride, or do you disagree with that?

    The point is that homosexual activity was a major part of their pride. If you wish to put pride as the biggest problem, so be it. However, I find it hard to say that God approved of homosexual activity through the city of Sodom, especially when the writer of Genesis expressly pointed out that the men wanted the male angels, not young female virgins to have sex with, just before the city was destroyed.

    Again, I think the point is unambiguous concerning how God views homosexual activity.

  57. Rape, huh? Why did Lot offer females for them to do whatever they wanted with? I don’t see the problem as rape, but as homosexual acts. They rejected the girls to get the men.

  58. Tim,

    Homosexuality is condemned by Paul in the New Testament, but it is difficult for me to see why Paul has more authority than Moses on this issue.

  59. In a world where women were viewed as property, Lot offering females was hospitality. It’s gross, but it’s consistent with your bible.

    In contrast, they didn’t want the gift. They didn’t want something that was offered to them. They wanted to take what was not up for offer.

    It’s telling that Lot says:

    Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.

    “For they have come under the shelter of my roof.” It’s literally an invocation of guest right here. That guest right was broken, and that was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.

  60. Yes, Andrew, and what was not up for offer was men. And it was their lust for the men that fueled them. Lot’s offering of his daughters was not quite the same as offering female slaves, too. He was wrong there, but that the men sought the men is quite telling. It is no accident that the act of anal intrusion is called sodomy today.

    The bigger sin may have been something besides these acts, but you cannot divorce those acts from the sin of Sodom.

    And as I said, this is not the only place where we see its prohibition. You will also note that you are doing exactly what I say you have to do: explain away what is in the Bible.

    This discussion reveals much about how we view the Bible, does it not?

  61. Jared, I’m trying to create some clarity on this because your string of questions give the impression of a serious misunderstanding of why Christians avoid acts of homosexuality. I honestly don’t understand your OP and subsequent comments. In addition this comment string has become so unproductive I’m not sure I can weed through what I perceive to be misconceptions about what a Christian life of holiness entails and why it excludes homosexual sex.

  62. I’m going to take a bit of credit for bringing up the homosexuality in Christianity question (a few threads ago). And the primary reason was not to debate homosexuality per se, but to flesh out the dynamics of traditional Protestant views on justification. I really wanted to see the equation flipped on its head, and you’ve all done that pretty successfully. Right behavior REALLY matters to traditional Christians. Much more than you’re likely to hear otherwise. I know, not a news flash. But when it comes to homosexuality, I see a theology that places right behavior as a much bigger signifier for the salvation you’ve already received than anything else.

    In short, grace and salvation are free gifts of God because of the cross of Christ, but it require a life long pursuit of traditionally interpreted Biblical behavior, or all bets are off. Really not terribly different than Mormonism IMO.

  63. Christian, you misrepresent Christianity and Mormonism when it comes to requirements. No one has ever said behavior does not matter in Christianity. No one ever will. Paul emphatically says we are not to sin, and that directly affects our behavior. One living in perpetual sin with no desire to change likely has not accepted Christ. You’ll get little argument that that is true. However, it is not the behavior that saves us.

    Now, differentiate that with Mormonism, which requires participation in rituals, and is judged worthy to attend said rituals on the basis of one’s adherence to the Word of Wisdom, payments to the church, and the following of specific requirements. The behavior is a therefore a basis for one’s standing in salvation.

    In the former, the changed behavior is evidence of a changed life and has nothing to do with salvation and the latter reveals behavior that is required to receive certain benefits.

    I beg you to really consider what the Christian believes about behavior.

  64. smallcowboy,

    I think that Christian’s summary kinda states that:

    In short, grace and salvation are free gifts of God because of the cross of Christ, but it require a life long pursuit of traditionally interpreted Biblical behavior, or all bets are off. Really not terribly different than Mormonism IMO.

    In Mormonism, if you’re not paying tithing, participating in rituals, etc., then that’s a sign you’re not changed and that you aren’t accepting the free gift of salvation.

    In traditional Christianity, if you aren’t seeking to repent according to specifically defined sins from specifically defined interpretations of the Bible, then that’s a sign you’re not changed and that you aren’t accepting the free gift of salvation.

  65. To go back to the beginning:
    Q. What is the most compelling Christian theological justification for classifying sin such as homosexuality as more or less abominable in the eyes of God?

    A. For most there isn’t. As has been said, for most Christians all sin is equal and so it is no more or less abominable in the eyes of God than any other.
    However, the LDS take a very different view. For us sin vary in severity. In Alma 39 we read that sexual sins are among the most abominable, with Murder and Blasphemy being the only things worse. The reason behind this lies in the doctrine of eternal progression and the eternal nature of the family. The scriptures tell us that “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” (Proverbs 17: 6) We take this very literal, and believe that attain the highest glories in eternity is to have an eternal posterity. God is our father, and we are his eternal posterity, and if we attain to godhood and have our own posterity, that will only increase his glory. This is the purpose of our existence. Homosexual relations cannot result in children, and thus the very core of the purpose of life is undermined. Anything that undermines the family, or prevents the propagation of children, is thus among the most abominable acts.

    Q. Is requiring heterosexual practice in order to accept a person into a Christian fold any different in principle than requiring circumcision?”

    A. There is a difference, but not a clear one. They share the underlying similarity of being a command from God. When circumcision was commanded than to accept the uncircumcised would be to deny the covenant made with God. The same is true of requiring heterosexual practice.
    However, even in the LDS church, heterosexual practice is not required. What is required is refraining from homosexual practice. One can live a celibate life, if one chooses, and still be in full fellowship. So the question needs to be rephrased.

  66. Andrew, first, I hope you are just mistyping my moniker. Second, the requirement one pay tithes, participate in rituals, show yourself worthy, etc. kinda takes the gift out of it. It becomes a contractual relationship. You get this if you do that. Christianity is very different. Of course, to see the difference, you have to better understand what grace really is.

    I suppose we could hijack this thread and make it into something concerning a definition of grace, but we have discussed before and will again, but perhaps that again should take place in a different thread.

  67. I’m going to take a bit of credit for bringing up the homosexuality in Christianity question (a few threads ago).

    THANKS for that….

    but I do appreciate the thought experiment.

    In short, grace and salvation are free gifts of God because of the cross of Christ, but it require a life long pursuit of traditionally interpreted Biblical behavior, or all bets are off. Really not terribly different than Mormonism IMO.

    I’d beg to differ with this. In Christianity grace is the path to holiness. In Mormonism (typically) grace is the prize for holiness.

    There’s a horse and a cart in both stories but whether or not the horse is pulling or pushing makes a big difference.

  68. slowcowboy,

    My apologies. somehow saved that in my phone autocorrect.

    I think in both Christianity and Mormonism, there is an understanding that one is never worthy, because one is always making mistakes and in need of repentance. But I think as well, in both Christianity and Mormonism, that part of faith and part of grace is being empowered to change. And if you don’t change, then you probably haven’t accepted salvation.

    I think that Christian J has really gone and shown an important similarity on this front.

  69. Tim,
    I suppose I see two problems with the standard Christian approach to homosexual sex. (1) Homosexuality appears to be a special category of sin, I suppose I don’t understand how this is reasonable, especially when Paul is not describing all homosexual practices in his condemnation. (2) Excluding people from fellowship because of this special category of sin also seems unreasonable. We don’t take first-century ethics seriously anymore for a lot of good reasons, and Christians routinely embrace those who embrace behavior that would be wrong by a first-century Christian standard. If a slave owner can be a good Christian, I can’t see why a married gay couple can’t.

    I can understand condemning practices because they are bad for people and society, but I don’t see how it would affect whether a person could enter the Kingdom of heaven or whether we could properly consider a person saved.

  70. Andrew, no worries on the name, I wasn’t sure if you even knew about it. Anyway…

    I like Tim’s point: “I’d beg to differ with this. In Christianity grace is the path to holiness. In Mormonism (typically) grace is the prize for holiness.”

    I can see how such a distinction may not mean much to non-believers, but the difference really is huge. It really gets to the heart of why we change behavior. Even if in both it is evidence of a changed behavior, it is not equally evidence of a changed heart. One is a gift, and the other is a contract. One is a result of of acceptance of a gift, the other is a repayment of a contractual obligation. One is done out of appreciation for what someone else has done for us, the other done to get something in return.

    Now, sure, both sides can say that God’s goodness allows us to do these things, but that really misses the point. Grace is not just empowerment to change, grace to Christians is full forgiveness when we don’t deserve it, no questions asked.

  71. My questions another way:

    Is the biblical prohibition against homosexuality any different than the biblical prohibition against usury?

    Is the allowance of homosexuality any different than the allowance of slavery?

    I don’t see that the Gospel according to Jesus had a lot to do with cultural norms but was focused on transcending them.

  72. Jared, I see homosexual acts as a sin no different from others. If it gets special treatment from me it is due to the nature of the argument made to excuse it as a sin. In other words, I may escalate it because it is escalated by others. And let’s be honest, calling a sin what is something that seems to come very naturally to some people can be a tough pill to swallow.

    I am also not sure that Christians do exclude gays any more than they exclude other sorts of sinners. Alcoholics, adulterers, fornicators, gamblers, etc. are all excluded, if their activity is known, by churches everywhere. Sure, there may be some Christians who are especially harsh on homosexuals, but I condemn those Christians and urge more patience and openness in dealing with them as people.

    Christianity is really a faith that is open. All can come to Christ. All are welcome within the doors of a Christian church. All are not free to sin, and that is not isolated to homosexuality. If you willingly flaunt your sin in church, expect to be excluded, no matter what that sin is.

    Unfortunately, Christians don’t always live up to their expectations.

  73. Actually offering your females as hospitality isn’t consistent with the ethic promoted in the Old Testament. But Lot wasn’t exactly held up as a paragon of virtue by the Genesis narrative either.

    And of course I see a difference between rape and consensual sex. But I can still see a certain class of sex acts originating in the same flawed thinking. A high school student cheating on his science test and a adolescent knifing an elderly man to steal his wallet are hugely different sins, but they both originate in the same impulse.

  74. “I don’t see that the Gospel according to Jesus had a lot to do with cultural norms but was focused on transcending them.”

    Yet, he had harsh words for the adulteress and told her to sin no more. Do you discount adultery as a sin? His goal was not to transcend cultural norms but to transcend our understanding of our relationship with God, which is separate from cultural norms.

  75. Slowcowboy,

    Sin comes naturally to us all, that is a tough pill to swallow as well. Few admit their sins, even if when they admit they are sinners. What you are saying implies that people can obtain fellowship if they sin in ways that are easy to cover up.

    From a Christian perspective, even if gay marriage seems to be simply the acknowledgment of a sinful condition/situation it does not seem to be bad behavior.

  76. His goal was not to transcend cultural norms but to transcend our understanding of our relationship with God, which is separate from cultural norms.

    I agree, our relationship with God is different than the cultural norms we choose are important. The condemned adultress whose sins were forgiven was condemned according to social norms, Jesus did not condemn her even though she should have died a horrible death by law.

    I suppose I see this as being transcendent of social norms surrounding the sin and the sinner.

  77. Jared, yes, that is an allowable inference from my comment, but it does not not negate the point that sin will lead to exclusion from a good, Biblical church. Further, it is precisely the point that few admit their sins, including homosexuals.

    Bad behavior is a human definition that means nothing in God’s eyes.

    We can talk all day about whether homosexual behavior (marriage is something you added now) is good or beneficial, and still miss the point. God, I think, clearly declares it a sin. I don’t see how a reading from the four corners of the Bible we can conclude it is not a sin. Its unambiguous, unless you force issues into the equation, such as it being a cultural norm or the bigger issue being pride or the opinion of the writers and can be discounted. Paul and others in the Bible clearly say homosexual acts are deplorable. They are not vague on this point.

  78. The adulteress reveals a number of things concerning God and his dealing with us. First, adultery is a sin. Second, we are to sin. Third, we ought not judge others because of our own sin. Fourth, Jesus directly addressed the sin, even as he told the Jews not to judged because of their own sin.

    We ought not condemn a person because of their sin, however we are to acknowledge it. If we can’t even say something is sin, what point is there in holding folks accountable? That’s a farce situation. We have to be able to recognize sin as sin and call it out before we can address it.

    I don’t care what the cultural norms are: sin is sin. And our relationship with God is based on our sin, or the absence of sin through Christ’s coverings, not on cultural norms.

  79. Bad behavior is a human definition that means nothing in God’s eyes.

    If this is correct, it makes God’s law purely arbitrary, I don’t think this is a biblical or traditional Christian position.

    Paul and others in the Bible clearly say homosexual acts are deplorable. They are not vague on this point.

    Was Paul using his definition of deplorable or God’s?

    If Paul’s condoning slavery is suspect, his condemnation of homosexuality is equally suspect and should most reasonably be taken narrowly, in the context of Paul’s cultural perspective rather than broadly as from the mouth of God himself.

    Calling something sinful also doesn’t give us any direction on how we should deal with sinners of who engage in particular sinful practice.

  80. I can think of a number of reasons why homosexual acts can be considered bad behavior, but the point is that God is the final arbiter, and in multiple places, God has told us, unequivocally, homosexual actions are bad. You are indeed free to call God’s word arbitrary, but his wisdom far exceeds mine. I won’t question his wisdom.

    Salvery. I think Paul doesn’t quite condone slavery. Christians were called to treat slaves as equals and with the respect of any other believer. Great detail was given as to how to treat slaves, who were not slaves based on race or anything like that. The Jews, as I understand, were forbidden from buying and selling them. If you wish to argue that slavery was condoned, be sure to clarify what the Bible says about it what slavery actually looked like. There is a very good chance most slaves were more servants than slaves in the sense we Americans perceive slavery.

    And calling something sinful does not give us direction on how we should deal with sinners. You are correct, but we are told to love them, and as Christ’s example, we should absolutely reach out to them. However, as Jesus dealt the adulteress, he surely had no tolerance for flaunting sin.

  81. slowcowboy,

    So, when you talk about what the Bible says about slavery, you have all sorts of nuance (e.g., “slaves were more servants”…”be sure to clarify what the Bible says about it what slavery actually looked like.”) Regardless, American Christians used the Bible to justify slavery. To them, it was clear: Paul is clearly giving advice about what to do with slaves rather than saying, “Don’t have slaves.

    Yet…when it comes to homosexuality, nope, there is no nuance. There is no nuance like there is in this slave/servant distinction. But perhaps, one day, you will look similar to the Christians of the American South justifying slavery.

  82. Andrew, nowhere in the Bible do we find anything like: “Slavery is good or go get slaves.”

    We do, however, see: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” (Lev. 18:22). There are several other instances where homosexual activity is spoken of in such dire terms, in both the Old and New Testaments.

    As I have said, I do not see the issue of homosexuality as ambiguous as presented in the Bible.

    Slavery, unfortunately, is not addressed so plainly. The Bible is not clear on owning slaves, however it is clear we should treat them with respect and honor. Those who justified the slavery in North America using the Bible were wrong.

  83. The question is not whether slavery is addressed as clearly as homosexuality, the analogous questions are:

    Is slavery a special class of sinful behavior (versus usury)? If so, what is the basis of this classification?

    Can slaveholders be members of a good Biblical church?

    I am going to go out on a limb and say that participating in slavery is as “sinful” in the biblical sense as homosexuality. But this judgment doesn’t tell us how we should deal with people who practice this sinful behavior and how ecclesiastical or civil law should treat them. I am looking for the way Christians should make these decisions.

  84. slowcowboy,

    You say:

    “nowhere in the Bible do we find anything like: “Slavery is good or go get slaves.””

    …but actually…

    44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. 45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

    Israelites? no bueno. Foreigners? yeah, go knock yourself out.

    This is also in Leviticus, so if you want to use Leviticus 18, then there you have Leviticus 25.

    Although, Exodus 21 does say you can have Hebrew slaves…but they are freed after 7 years (per Jubilee, which Leviticus 25 also discusses)…unless you marry him off while he is in slavery, and he decides he doesn’t want to be separated from his wife and children (who remain as slaves).

  85. Jared, I did not see those questions in what you asked above, and answered according to my understanding of what was asked.

    Now, is slavery a special class of sinful behavior? Define slavery for me. I don’t see it specifically addressed that slavery is in fact a sin. Poor treatment of slaves, yes, but the ownership of slaves, no.

    Can slaveholders be members of a good, Biblical church? Based on the above, I would answer yes (with the caveat that we are not talking about abusive or mass slaveholders as we commonly think of in the US).

    But bear in mind that even homosexuals can members of a good, Biblical church. Any sinner can be a member of a good, Biblical church. The open practicing of a sin as a member of a good, Biblical church should get a talking to by concerned members and leadership. This is any sin, whether lying, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, abuse of others, idolatry, etc. etc. etc.

    I think you are held up on the idea that somehow Christians should treat sins differently. While each may require different attention to alter the behavior, the general idea that sin, no matter the sin, should be addressed in the first place.

    Civil law is apart from ecclesiastical, and is not beholden to ecclesiastical concerns. Civil law can act apart from the church’s wishes. Christians, I think, though, should bear in mind what is right in God’s eyes when considering civil law. Personally, I can’t fathom civilly or criminally punishing someone who acts on what they think is right (within reason, of course, but in this discussion we focus on same sex acts), but that does not mean that a) I have to agree and b) allow it within my church. I also don’t have to let someone be a drunk in my church, let alone excuse excessive drinking.

    My expectation is that you may get answers of all stripes to these questions, Jared. Christians, though, I think should be guided by the Holy Spirit and what God says is right. We are told to leave unto Caesar that which is his, and that tells me that we are to allow a civil government apart from our church. If we have to give the government its taxes, we cede its ability to exist.

  86. Coming in late, but very, very interesting discussion. One question for several here (and this is an honest question – not attempting to pigeon hole anyone): if you’re epistemology on God’s word and will is defined by sola scriptura, how do you determine when cultural norm ends and divine will begins?

  87. OK, Andrew, foreigners could be taken as slaves, but there are indeed restrictions on them. And notice there it does not say slavery is good, and they are to be protected. What I am focusing on is that there is no green light to say get as many slaves as you can and that is a good thing. It just doesn’t exist.

    One of the differentiators, though, between slavery and homosexuality is that homosexuality is expressly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. You can’t argue that.

    You’ll notice that I am not saying the Bible does not allow some forms of slavery. I have been careful not to say that.

  88. CHRISTIANITY: a religion in which one cannot be sure that slavery is a sin (at best, only mistreatment of slaves), but where homosexuality absolutely and without exception is a sin.

    okie dokie.

  89. “There’s a horse and a cart in both stories but whether or not the horse is pulling or pushing makes a big difference.”

    Tim, I see where you’re going, but I think its a lot more detailed. I think you can disagree with the Mormon baptism as a requirement, but the LDS Church does not teach that “going through the motions of baptism is totally fine, its the ritual that counts.” Likewise with confirmation of the Holy Spirit.

    And actually qualifying for baptism doesn’t take a previous period of commandment keeping at all. There’s no “earning” in it. Just a faith/belief in the gospel and a willingness to live one’s life in a certain way – *after baptism*. This point of grace is not earned in Mormonism. If you want to say that baptism as a required sign of sincere acceptance of Jesus Christ is heretical, then I can accept that. But hollow ordinance and check lists are not taught as acceptable or ideal in LDS teaching.

    slowcowboy keeps propping up the straw man of ritual-alone-Mormonism. But no one teaches that the water does any cleansing, that the motions do any saving, that eating bread does anything sanctifying. They’re required symbols that represents what I would call the same thing Protestants do when they “get saved” – accept the Atonement and work of Jesus. I used to think the big difference was that Mormons believe in an incremental, daily grace, where Protestants hold to a sweeping grace. As in grace-work-grace-work-grace opposed to grace-work.

    But, and here is my point, when you really listen to trad. Christian ideas about what a Christian life looks like, you hear that its just as incremental, just as hard, just as strictly commandment-based.

    Can Mormons lose their salvation? Well, if they altogether turn away from their baptismal covenant, then they weren’t truly converted in the first place.

  90. JT, cultural norms are irrelevant, I think.

    Now, some things the Bible very clearly lays out, and homosexual acts are one of those things. I don’t see how that is even controversial.

    This appeal to allowing slavery is interesting, but says nothing about homosexuality. The intent seems to be that we view slavery as a sin today, but I am not sure that owning a slave is a sin. Its certainly not something I condone, but Biblically, as long as the slave is treated as a respectable person I don’t see how it is a sin. I do think a Christian would not likely keep a slave (nor should they) in today’s world, but that’s not a matter of defining sin.

    This is getting quite deep and controversial, but I have to be honest and say that I do not see slavery ‘outlawed’ in the Bible as I see homosexuality as ‘outlawed’.

  91. Christian, the question is not the ritual alone Mormonism. The question is whether one can reach the highest levels of salvation without doing the rituals. Whether anyone teaches that anything does anything is beside the point. That such rituals are required to begin with speaks volumes. And the behavior is required before one can participate in the rituals.

  92. I think that the message of the New Testament, sometimes called the kergyma, is a complete message with regard to salvation. Sola Scriptura makes sense because this message is fully contained in scripture. Scripture is not a law book, nor does it categorize sins, it points to the salvation from all sin.

    Eccelesiastical law/rules have always been underinclusive and overinclusive of prohibiting sinful behavior. Without some consistent basis for distinguishing between sinful acts I don’t see a consistent way to class one group of sinners as outcasts and others as fellow citizens by merely referencing the New Testament.

  93. All sinners are outcast. The difference is whether someone continues to live in that sin and flaunt it.

    This is how I see the discussion of homosexual acts. They wish to continue their behavior and demand acceptance of it. It was brought up earlier that the greater sin for Sodom was not the gay activity, it was the pride. I see no difference between the pride of the Sodomites and those who demand their activity be accepted.

    If folks have homosexual tendencies, who am I to say their natural attraction is wrong? However, just like the alcoholic or pedophile, who are not contested as sinful people, the homosexual is to refrain from the sinful activity.

    You may say that such a restriction on homosexuals in unreasonable, but then why is it unreasonable for anyone else to be required to suppress their natural urges to drink or lie or take from others, or any other form of sin? That seems quite prideful in and of itself.

    And Jared, as you said earlier, recognizing and admitting our own sin is very difficult. As I said to Katie, homosexuals have a self serving desire to define their activity as not being sin. So, we have a notion that its tough to admit our own sin and a desire not to do so, and a group whose defining activity is listed as a sin… The bias from homosexuals is palpable.

  94. slowcowboy,

    We have already gone through this — in every other situation, you can find a harm. Taking from others *harms others*. Lying *harms others*. Excessive drinking *harms oneself and others*.

    Pedophilia *harms* others.

    Raping guests *harms others*.

    Committed relationships do not harm others.

  95. Since it was brought up I have to clarify something here.

    “I’d beg to differ with this. In Christianity grace is the path to holiness. In Mormonism (typically) grace is the prize for holiness.”

    This is not accurate to LDS doctrine. We believe that the path is faith and obedience, the goal salvation, and the vehicle that allows us to travel the path is Grace.

  96. Jared said

    (1) Homosexuality appears to be a special category of sin, I suppose I don’t understand how this is reasonable, especially when Paul is not describing all homosexual practices in his condemnation.

    There’s a lot to unpack here. Homosexuality is not a special category of sin. A Christian involved in homosexuality would not be in any situation different than a Christian involved in shoplifting or money laundering. If it has the “appearance” of a special category the fault for that may lay at the feet of Christians who over emphasize it OR it might lay at the feet of a culture that has made it a hot-button issue.

    There is a common trope by those who wish to encourage and celebrate homosexuality that Paul is only condemning exploitative and abusive forms of homosexual sex. They go on to contend that a life-long covenant relationship as celebrated in same-sex marriages did not exist at that time. NT Wright has shown that this is completely false. Almost EVERY sexual relationship we can imagine was a part of Roman culture. Paul most certainly would have had in mind the exact kind of relationships the ECLA now condones.

    Further, the Bible has a very common positive argument for the proper place for sex. The Biblical authors included anything outside of that intended state as “sexual immorality”. Even if we somehow invent some new form of sexual expression that the Romans had no imagination for it would be outside the intended role of sex. No one in the Bible has to describe every facet of a sexual practice for it to be “sexual immorality” because the positive description has already been made.

    (2) Excluding people from fellowship because of this special category of sin also seems unreasonable.

    I agree that we can’t make it a special category of sin and I can’t recall ever being in a church where that was the case. I don’t know of a place that is more likely to exclude a homosexual from general fellowship than any other unrepentant sinner. As a child in Oklahoma in a VERY conservative denomination I know that there were members of our church that would now identify as gay.

    Christians routinely embrace those who embrace behavior that would be wrong by a first-century Christian standard.

    Can you give me an example? Are you saying that we embrace and celebrate usury in our congregations?

    If a slave owner can be a good Christian, I can’t see why a married gay couple can’t.

    There’s probably a LOT we need to unpack about the words “good Christian”.

    I can understand condemning practices because they are bad for people and society, but I don’t see how it would affect whether a person could enter the Kingdom of heaven or whether we could properly consider a person saved.

    Salvation is not the end of the story in the Christian life.

  97. “(1) What is the most compelling Christian theological justification for classifying sin such as homosexuality as more or less abominable in the eyes of God?”

    “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

    Catechism of the Catholic Church at 2357.

    “(2) Is requiring heterosexual practice in order to accept a person into a Christian fold any different in principle than requiring circumcision?”

    I’m not sure what “requiring heterosexual practice” would mean. No one is required to engage in sex of any kind. Requiring people to obey God’s moral commands is different from requiring them to obey the command to be circumcised, because circumcision is not inherently a moral issue.

  98. And that is the justification around homosexual activities as not being a sin. Now, if we go that route, how is lusting after another a sin, if it is never acted upon? How is gluttony a sin if we only harm ourselves by consuming too much? What about pride, if we never take action on our pride? Greed, sloth, wrath, and envy, too? These are the 7 sins seen as most dangerous, according to Catholicism, but what if they are not acted upon? Are they still sins?

    Jesus tells us that they are, when he tells us we commit adultery when we lust after another, or murder when we hate. Notice, too, that this was really directed toward opposite sex attraction, but I would no doubt assume it applied to same sex attraction.

    God tells us that homosexual acts are sinful. We are told marriage is to be only a man joining with a woman. Sex outside marriage is sinful. Sex between two of the same gender would always therefore be outside of marriage. Sex between two of the same gender therefore is sinful, just as sex between two of the same gender outside of marriage is sinful.

    …Now, this leads to a discussion of marriage, which I will leave for later, but suffice to say, I think marriage a religious construct rather than a civil construct. If civil leaders wish to allow a union before the state between two of the same sex, have at it. But that is different than a religious union, and does not absolve the sin of homosexual activity.

  99. slowcowboy,

    You know what’s funny…several people have been arguing that it’s not homosexuality that is sinful, but that it is homosexual *acts* that are.

    So, as your argument, you now propose the failure to act upon things like lust, pride, etc., as sins. But you know, I think the argument from an internal Christian perspective is that the damage to *oneself* is done as it happens, even if one doesn’t act upon it (and damage another.)

    Then again, many of y’all have argued that sin is not connected to anything like that at all. It’s just because “God said so” and that is that.

  100. Natural attraction is one thing, lusting is another. I am attracted to women, but the moment I lust after one I have sinned, even if I don’t act upon my lust.

    I list the 7 deadly sins as examples of things that may be sins in response to your position that being in a committed relationship is not a sin. I propose that things that don’t hurt others may still be sinful. I propose that a definition of sin as something that hurts others is not a good definition of sin.

    Sin is that which separates us from God, and homosexual acts are somethings God has told us are sinful.

    You are free to disagree, Andrew, but as I have also laid out in above posts is that this issue comes down to how we view God and the Bible. As you already knew before this discussion, we view God and the Bible differently, and so it should be no surprise that we see differently on homosexuality.

    Now, as to your point on damaging oneself, I am not sure that homosexuals are quite as committed to monogamous relationships as you attribute to them. Several studies show that homosexuals are quite a bit more free in exploring additional sexual partners. See: http://www.sfgate.com/lgbt/article/Many-gay-couples-negotiate-open-relationships-3241624.php

    It seems that homosexuality is not as innocent as you make it out to be.

    Frankly, and I feel I am beginning to sound like a broken record: the Bible is not ambiguous that homosexual acts are sinful.

  101. “Isn’t it obvious that homosexuality is created by God, just like all sexuality was created by God?”

    Well, no, not unless you believe that God controls and defines everything, and we are just mindless chesspieces. I think that genetics, random mutation, and chance have a lot to do with it. It’s either that or believe in a capricious cruel God, or join Dawkins and company.

  102. “(1) What is the most compelling Christian theological justification for classifying sin such as homosexuality as more or less abominable in the eyes of God?”

    The answer is Doctrine and Covenants 132.

    There’s no question in my mind that gay affirming Christian traditions are a direct result of sola scriptura – for good or ill – depending on your view of things.

  103. The aptly-named Slowcowboy says,

    Now, is slavery a special class of sinful behavior? Define slavery for me. I don’t see it specifically addressed that slavery is in fact a sin. Poor treatment of slaves, yes, but the ownership of slaves, no.

    Please tell me you’re kidding, or that you suffered a traumatic brain injury. There is no other excuse; not even a misplaced reliance on sola scriptura can excuse any view of human slavery as anything short as an abomination in the eyes of God.

  104. slowcowboy,

    Natural attraction is one thing, lusting is another. I am attracted to women, but the moment I lust after one I have sinned, even if I don’t act upon my lust.

    But you see how you can easily pinpoint a difference between “natural attraction” and “lust”? And then you can develop explanations for why one is one thing and another is another thing. We can say lust has sinful implications because it reduces humans to objects to satisfy desire.

    So, this is problematic for analogy. Because we can still say a harm is being done. It’s not the case then that lust is a “harmless” sin.

    Regarding promiscuity, this is so lolworthy. If you want to say promiscuity is a sin, then say *that*. And then I’ll note that 1) heterosexuals and homosexuals both can be promiscuous, and 2) it is consistent to say that it is sinful both for heterosexuals and homosexuals to be promiscuous, and 3) in the same way a straight person avoids the sin of promiscuity by being in a committed, monogamous relationship (even if it’s hard! even if they have wandering eyes and have to repent of that! etc., etc., etc.,), you could absolutely be consistent by arguing the same thing for gay people.

    Like, honestly: no one for a second says, “Well, lots of straight people cheat and fornicate and lust, etc., etc., etc., Looks like heterosexuality is not as innocent as you make it out to be. Therefore, let’s reject heterosexuality as sin.”

    And yet you think the same sort of logic is A-OK when it comes to homosexuality.

  105. There’s a problem, Andrew, with reducing natural attraction and lust to equivalents. Natural attraction leads us to search out members of the group we are attracted to and does not necessarily include lust. Lust is a much more intense experience, one that suggests we must have something and have it now. The two are not the same. The harm is done in lust, not in searching out members of the group. Hence, homosexuals who are attracted to one are not sinful just because they are attracted to one group over the other.

    And yes, of course, promiscuity is not isolated to homosexuals, and it is consistent to say it is sinful for both to be promiscuous. The point is that you gloss over the fact that homosexuals are much more likely to be promiscuous. Sure, there are those who can be in a committed relationship, but the trend is that they don’t do that. I bring it up to show that homosexuals are not as innocent as you make them out to be. This does not mean they cannot be in a committed, monogamous relationship, and it does not mean that heterosexual couples can’t live in promiscuity either, but it does mean that homosexuals are more likely to be promiscuous and non-monogamous.

    We could argue all day and night about what people could and should do. Its clear from the article I posted and other studies that same sex couples are much more open and therefore sinful. To those homosexuals in committed, monogamous relationships, good for them, but I cannot say their behavior is not a sin.

  106. OK, Iconoclast, show me where God clearly condemns slavery as a sin.

    I agree that it is something folks should not touch with a ten foot pole…

  107. And yes, of course, promiscuity is not isolated to homosexuals, and it is consistent to say it is sinful for both to be promiscuous. The point is that you gloss over the fact that homosexuals are much more likely to be promiscuous. Sure, there are those who can be in a committed relationship, but the trend is that they don’t do that. I bring it up to show that homosexuals are not as innocent as you make them out to be. This does not mean they cannot be in a committed, monogamous relationship, and it does not mean that heterosexual couples can’t live in promiscuity either, but it does mean that homosexuals are more likely to be promiscuous and non-monogamous.

    I would argue that gay people aren’t inherently more promiscuous than straight people. Instead, I would argue that there are different social institutions that put a different level of stigma on straight people to keep them in monogamous situations (but really, there’s still plenty of cheating, plenty of mistresses, plenty of divorcing and remarrying, etc., etc., etc.,)

    In contrast, a lot of gay people have grown up in an environment where everyone around them says that acting in any way on their desires is wrong and sinful, and so a lot of folks haven’t been raised or taught to pursue healthy, committed relationships.

    You see what happens as a result of this and say, “See, look how bad homosexuality is.” I see what happens as a result of this and say, “Look how neglectful our society is.” This is an area where Christians *could* be at the forefront, but aren’t.

    That’s why, from the very beginning, I’ve been saying that Christians should argue for gay inclusion and argue for gay monogamy — just as they would for straight people.

  108. “That’s why, from the very beginning, I’ve been saying that Christians should argue for gay inclusion and argue for gay monogamy — just as they would for straight people.”

    Except for that pesky thing that homosexual activity is still a sin. We can wrap it in whatever wrapping you like, but its still a sin. I would agree with you that monogamy is better than promiscuity, but I can’t say homosexual activity is not a sin.

    Now, we can go on and on about all of this, but still, the Bible is unambiguous. Your 3:50 post ends up an argument based on emotion and guesses as to what the mindset of homosexuals is.

    There is grace for homosexuals, yes. That grace is no different from what is in front of heterosexuals. The requirements are no different, and the expectations are no different. Engaging in an actively sinful lifestyle is not something a believer would do.

  109. Andrew S.,

    Boy, the gay controversy gets people talking like no other.

    I think you said Christians aren’t any different than non-Christians. (Excuse me if I mixed you up with another person.)
    Very often we aren’t much different. That’s because most of us aren’t diligent in pursuing more of God once we get him into our hearts. I think, though, if you visit a random sampling of churches where the members are serious about applying the Bible to their lives, then compare them to groups of non-Christians who are doing something other than that, you’ll find more love in the average Christian group than in the average non-Christian group. At least that’s been my experience.
    The reason there’s a difference is that the love and power of Jesus is in them and influencing them, if not radically transforming them into people who care, who don’t hold grudges, who don’t turn to violence when mistreated, who are faithful to their spouses, who raise well-behaved children who are not a headache for teachers. These are the types of things that characterize Christians who are controlled by the Spirit of Jesus in them.

    Think about this: Even if there is only a 1 percent chance that hell is real and that those who reject Jesus as their master end up there, isn’t it at least worth a try?

    In what part of the country do you live? We live in New Hampshire. It’s been a long winter but I don’t complain. I’m a homebody anyway and I know what happened to complainers in the Old Testament—after God’s great patience wore out, he sent poisonous snakes! . . . Oops—I just looked up the verse I was thinking of and found that the grumblers were killed by destroying angels, not snakes. Oh well! Here are the verses:

    1 Corinthians 10:2-11:
    2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. . . .
    5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
    6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
    7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”
    8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did–and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.
    9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did–and were killed by snakes.
    10 And do not grumble, as some of them did–and were killed by the destroying angel.
    11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us.

    Take care.

  110. Cal,

    I live in Texas, and used to live in Oklahoma. Trust me: I know a lot of people who are serious about applying the Bible to their lives. I was Bible-bashed throughout middle school and high school by my Bible-believing Christian friends for being a Mormon. And you know…I’m just not impressed.

    Think about this: Even if there is only a 1 percent chance that hell is real and that those who reject Jesus as their master end up there, isn’t it at least worth a try?

    I don’t really think it makes sense to live life in fear like that, and I’m not really afraid of Hell anyway. I mean, it seems to me that if God is a tyrant, then I wouldn’t really appreciate heaven all that much.

  111. Homosexual sex is, by-nature, inherently more promiscuous than heterosexual sex. You aren’t creating anything together that both of you need to be committed to. So it’s a bit of a no-brainer that homosexuals will tend to be a lot more promiscuous than heterosexuals. And indeed – the data bears this out.

    A recent survey from the Austin Institute of Family and Culture reported appalling rates of promiscuity in the homosexual population – especially the male population.

    http://relationshipsinamerica.com/pdf/Relationships%20in%20America%202014.pdf

    To cut and paste from another discussion where I presented this study:

    The median heterosexual man or woman (age 18-60) reports somewhere between four and six opposite sex partners in their lifetime. The highest percentage of heterosexual males – 20% – reported 2-3 sexual partners. Only 3% of males and 2% of women reported over 50 partners.

    I mentioned the “over 50” percentage because the next finding is rather appalling. 30% of gay men report over 50 sexual partners. That’s 1 in 3. Interestingly 8% of gay men reported zero partners. After that a mere 3% of gay men reported the numbers of one, two and three sexual partners, jumping up to 9% at 4-6, 8% at 7-9, 10% at 10-15, 11% at 16-20, 4% at 21-30, and 11% at 31-50.

    There is no bell curve in sex partners in the male gay population. Just an uneven climb, a curious drop around 21-30 and then a startling spike at over 50. Keep in mind that these are only numbers among self-identifying-as-gay respondents, but still…

    Among lesbians, there is actually a bell curve – still exhibiting more promiscuity than heterosexuals but nowhere near the extremes in the male spread. Much higher percentages report at the levels of 1-2, curiously few at 3, and a spike up to 20% at 4-6 which steadily dies off as the graph goes into higher numbers.

    Either way – the difference is stark. Homosexuals do not seem to value monogamy as much as heterosexuals and are much more prone to promiscuity and sexual risk-taking.

  112. This is consistent with exit polling in Vermont during the legalization of gay marriage, where gay respondents overwhelmingly expressed valuing monogamy as “not important” in marriage as compared to heterosexuals.

    It’s also consistent with articles like this one – written by a gay man giving the inside scoop on what marriage really looks like in the homosexual scene:

    http://gawker.com/master-bedroom-extra-closet-the-truth-about-gay-marri-514348538?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_twitter&utm_source=gawker_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

  113. And this behavior holds consistent in highly liberal Western European societies where homosexuality and gay marriage has been celebrated for decades now. So it won’t do to blame this on social disapproval either. If anything, it’s even worse in Denmark and the Netherlands.

  114. Seth,

    You join the ranks of those who looks at data and says, “Must be an inherent difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality” rather than saying, “Must reflect the different societal values and institutional pressures directed towards straight and gay people.” i have a feeling that if we were discussing racial issues, you’d probably be arguing that black people “do not seem to value the law as much as white people” based on differential incarceration rates…

  115. No, I look at the nature of mutual masturbation and inserting one’s genitalia into the anus.

    It’s inherent in the act.

    The data merely supports it.

  116. And race and sex are not, and never will be analogs.

    No matter how much gay marriage supporters would like to take advantage of a convenient club to beat the opposition with.

  117. I also think that comparing the gay marriage movement with the likes of Martin Luther King is rather an insult to his legacy (yes, I’m aware his widow feels differently).

    Never before in human history have we had a civil rights debate where the stakes were lower than in this one.

  118. You imagine so do you?

    Well, I’ll admit to being a bit hurt by that. I thought you’d known me long enough for that not to be a question.

    But there’s not much I can do about it.

    I’m not going to change my views on gay marriage just because you’re allowing that single issue to infect all your opinions of me.

  119. Yeah, that would be a pretty crappy and flimsy reason to change your views in any case. If you honestly believe that “Gay marriage is still going to destroy the institution of marriage entirely and equivocate the sexes in ways that will profoundly undermine society and make it a more toxic place for everyone,” then have the courage of your convictions to let as many opinions be infected. Being a crusader for the well-being of society has got to be a lonely job, but someone has to do it.

    I’ll just go back to hoping to be straight and delightsome in the afterlife and shut myself off to a nunnery.

  120. And you can leave me out of whatever it is that you and slowcowboy have been debating. I’ve skimmed over it, and I’ve agreed and disagreed with things both of you have said. I’m not claiming ownership of anyone’s opinions on this thread but my own.

  121. New Iconoclast,

    “Isn’t it obvious that homosexuality is created by God, just like all sexuality was created by God?”

    Well, no, not unless you believe that God controls and defines everything, and we are just mindless chesspieces. I think that genetics, random mutation, and chance have a lot to do with it. It’s either that or believe in a capricious cruel God, or join Dawkins and company.

    I suppose my definition of God is a bit broader than yours. I accept is as a fact that God controls and defines everything. Without God there would be nothing to define. Capriciousness is completely contextual, and God’s context is an unfathomable universe.

  122. Well, I’ve learned something new about you Andrew that I did not know before. Thank you for sharing that. And I do feel genuinely sorry at the prospect that this issue may be the one we both just can’t get past.

    I’ve always respected you and still do. But yes – we don’t see eye to eye on this issue. I don’t know how that’s going to impact things going forward.

  123. Look, Seth, I engage with a lot of people who have views that are directly counter to my interests, directly dehumanizing or demonizing or whatever to me. If I didn’t engage with said people just because of this — especially living in Texas as I do — things would be a lot lonelier.

    Part of being a demonized, scapegoated minority (on several fronts) is not letting those things bother me.

    I mean, this disagreement isn’t exactly new. I was only surprised that the rhetoric have moved up to some sort of marital armageddon sort of thing.

  124. @Tim

    I get that Paul had in mind almost any form of homosexual union. Most traditional Christians accept that sex is forbidden outside of marriage, just like Mormons do. However, I can’t see how Paul is authoritative or whether he speaks as Moses did on this point. I suppose I need the argument for a hermeneutic that links Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality to what Jesus was talking about.

  125. @Seth,

    What your argument seems to say is that (1) promiscuity is bad, (1) homosexuals are more promiscuous that heterosexuals, therefore homosexuality within marriage is bad for marriage in general. For some reason, I don’t follow that logic.

    Gay marriage is no different than heterosexual marriage except for the absence of penis/vaginal intercourse. In the liberal contraceptive-using west, there is only marginally more non-baby-making sex going on. I just don’t see how that margin gives straight marriage the only honorable position in Christian society. I suppose I don’t see how God’s law could be that silly, or the institution of straight marriage that flimsy.

  126. Well, whatever else I think Andrew, I do think you are a good man. And I still feel sorrow over the hurt I felt from your comments. I’m not happy about that.

    To be clear, I do not hold the opinion that slavery was ever morally right – though I do think ancient world slavery was a LOT different than working African slaves to death in colonial sugar cane fields in Jamaica. But no – not happy with it in any time period.

    I don’t waste time reading or thinking anti-Affirmative Action screeds. And I don’t buy into any of the past Mormon justifications for the Priesthood Ban. I personally think it was just one of Brigham Young’s racist assumptions that got fossilized in Church policy and eventually needed a revelation to root out.

    That’s a summary of my stance on racial issues. Hopefully I can differentiate from whatever other ideas are floating around on this thread.

    But yes – for better or worse – I do sincerely see gay marriage as the last straw that will annihilate the institution – except for isolated pockets that keep it alive in religious ritual. I agree with lawyer-activist Nan Hunter’s remarks in 2006 that “the impact of gay and lesbian marriage will be to dismantle the legal structure of gender in every marriage.” According to her, this arrangement has “the potential to expose and denaturalize the historical construction of gender at the heart of marriage.” Hunter at least in 2006 saw no reason to shore up marriage as an institution. She simply saw gay marriage as an interim step to disintegrating the institution entirely.

    I do think that is the tide of history at play here.

  127. @david clark

    To put it bluntly, the real purpose of life has nothing to do with where you stick your genitals. However, modern society has basically said the exact opposite: everything good, holy, and free in modern society revolves around sex. The point of life is not to have a healthy/loving/stable outlet for sexuality. I think the quicker Christians remember this, the quicker they will start thinking clearly on matters of sex and marriage.

    How does understanding the point of life make sexuality more clear for the gay person?

    If having a healty/loving/stable outlet for sexuality is not the point of life, is it not better to have something like this than to burn?

  128. I think Paul provides his own hermenuetic as well as I can.

    Romans 13:11-14 NIV

    And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

  129. How does understanding the point of life make sexuality more clear for the gay person?

    Just to be clear, it’s good advice for anyone, not just homosexuals.

    I’ve noticed two assertions you have made that I think are self defeating. The first is that you insist that having a loving/stable outlet it important in life. The second is that you don’t accept a biblical teaching unless it goes back to Jesus.

    Here’s where it falls apart. There are tons of people in faithful heterosexual monogamous marriages for whose sex life is complete unfulfilling for them and in many cases non-existent. On your view this would seem to be grounds for a divorce. If a stable/healthy sex life is important enough to ignore what Paul says on the matter for homosexuality, then it’s surely important enough to allow heterosexuals the chance to divorce and trade up for a more fulfilling sex life.

    But then Jesus says that divorce is only for the cases of adultery (in Matthew) or even more stringently that divorce is never permitted (in Mark). It looks like Jesus thinks that marriage is not primarily about a fulfilled sex life. The logical conclusion seems to be that fulfilled sex is nice to have, but doesn’t legitimate behavior that is elsewhere pronounced as sinful.

    And yes, I do think that Christians have lost their way on divorce and that Christians who refuse to take seriously what the Bible says about divorce are in the same boat as those who refuse to take seriously what the Bible says about homosexuality.

    I do want to emphasize that neither divorce nor homosexuality disqualifies one for the kingdom, nor should either disqualify one from participation in the Christian community. However, the solution to both is not defining sin as virtue, but in the grace of Jesus. We should expect to see fruits of repentance (eventually), but even then God remains the sole final judge on these matters.

  130. Andrew S.,

    You said, “I was Bible-bashed throughout middle school and high school by my Bible-believing Christian friends for being a Mormon.”

    No wonder you’re turned off! Are you still a Mormon?

  131. I actually think its relevant to mention that Paul was not the biggest pro – hetero marriage guy either –

    “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

    That sexual asceticism was held up as a greater path for Christians from Paul far past the middle ages is lost on today’s Church, including the liberal strands who are mimicking the Victorian sensibilities (or post-modern, if you’re on the Driscoll train) of their traditionalist brothers and sister more than anything that was essential in the early church. I think it would be a lot easier to promote sexual suppression among homosexuals, if their hetero brothers and sisters would lead the way.

  132. @david clark

    Your reasoning is :

    (1) IF having a loving/stable outlet for sex is important in life THEN it is reasonable to divorce if marriage does not provide this outlet
    (2) Jesus said it was not acceptable to divorce unless there is adultery.
    Therefore (3) having a loving/stable outlet for sex is NOT important.

    I don’t think this reasoning works. Your conclusion doesn’t follow from these premises.

    It may be reasonable to divorce in the case of a sexless marriage but that, of course, would not be the only factor. I don’t know that the Bible speaks to this at all, except to say that wives should submit to their husbands.

    Jesus says nothing about sex within a marriage, and was speaking of first century marriage which is significantly different than our view of marriage – so much so that the institution would be unrecognizable to many today. Most would reject the first-century view of marriage as completely archaic and perhaps as unjust as slavery. Jesus’ position against divorce can be seen as a compassionate protection of women’s rights that did not exist at the time as much as a complete prohibition of divorce. I don’t think it has anything to do with whether gay marriage is acceptable.

    I don’t agree with contemporary views of easy marriage and easy divorce. I think that marriage is more important and sacred than a mere outlet for sex, which is why I believe that we should embrace gay marriage.

  133. Slowcowboy said:

    I am sure you know what the Bible says about the behavior. In fact, an entire city was leveled largely because of it and a term describing said behavior derives from that city. Hardly an endorsement from God.

    You might want to look up Ezekiel sometime and see what he gave as the reason for Sodom’s demise: It was because the people there were fat and arrogant and didn’t care for the poor.

    I honestly don’t know how to deal with the broader issue of homosexuality (partly because I don’t see the scriptures as being clear on the matter). But I’m pretty sure that when we put gays in a different classification than other people in terms of the sins they commit, we’re dishonoring both their humanity and the God who made them.

  134. “But I’m pretty sure that when we put gays in a different classification than other people in terms of the sins they commit, we’re dishonoring both their humanity and the God who made them.”

    On this, I would agree, but what about the turning away from sin?

    As David Clark said above, what’s going on is a defining of this sin as a virtue, unless, of course, you don’t count homosexual acts as sinful.

    As to Ezekiel, what about that pride? How were they prideful? Does that the flaunted their sexual sin contribute to that pride? I would think so.

  135. Cal,

    Nope. One of the things I realized was that the most uncomfortable part of trying to defend Mormonism in hostile territory was recognizing that I didn’t believe in it myself.

  136. @TIM

    Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

    I agree with Paul. But I think Paul’s argument is also a reasonable argument in favor of gay marriage rather than unmarried carousing. Marriage involves sexual intimacy, but it certainly is not simply to gratify the desires of the flesh.

    Also, considering that Paul was wrong about the timing of the second coming, and given his approval of marriage as a way to avoid more damaging sin, gay marriage makes as much sense as traditional marriage. I think his advice that it is better to marry than to burn makes sense for the gay person as well as the straight person.

    Lets be clear, I am not saying that gay sex is not sinful – I think 90% of all sex is sinful in one way or another. I am saying that the fact that a practice is sinful does not tell us how to manage those who reasonable engage in such sinful behavior. I think that gay marriage is acting “decently” in the way that Paul suggests we should. I also don’t think Paul’s understanding of why people are gay makes sense in light of what we know about biology.

  137. Jared:

    You write, “I agree with Paul. But I think Paul’s argument is also a reasonable argument in favor of gay marriage rather than unmarried carousing. Marriage involves sexual intimacy, but it certainly is not simply to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

    What is it for then?

  138. IMHO, Humans are biologically inclined to mate in stable relationships that allow people to pool resources for the betterment of the individuals involved, and create a stable environment to raise children. Marriage provides an institution to allow that to happen. The benefits of marriage apply to both gay, straight, and sexless couples. Marriage is for psychological stability, stability in personal intimacy, family stability, management of property within a family, among other things related to human flourishing.

  139. Jared:

    You write, “Gay marriage is no different than heterosexual marriage except for the absence of penis/vaginal intercourse. In the liberal contraceptive-using west, there is only marginally more non-baby-making sex going on. I just don’t see how that margin gives straight marriage the only honorable position in Christian society. I suppose I don’t see how God’s law could be that silly, or the institution of straight marriage that flimsy.”

    If marriage is, and should be, nothing more than government sanction of romantic/sexual relationships, which may be ended at will and have nothing to do with procreation, then you’re right. Under this definition of civil marriage, it’s hard to refute the argument that forbidding it to homosexuals is based on bigotry. Since heterosexual marriages are no longer necessarily related to procreation, why should we forbid marriage to homosexuals on that ground?

    Of course, as a Catholic I disagree with that definition. Therefore I don’t use a double standard: I don’t favor heterosexual marriages which may be ended at will and have nothing to do with procreation, while opposing gay marriages which may be ended at will and have nothing to do with procreation. I oppose both. I think that marriage, once entered into, should not be an at-will proposition, but should only be ended for grave reasons (again, speaking in terms of the civil law), and that it should have procreation and childrearing as its main purpose.

  140. Jared:

    You write, “IMHO, Humans are biologically inclined to mate in stable relationships that allow people to pool resources for the betterment of the individuals involved, and create a stable environment to raise children. Marriage provides an institution to allow that to happen. The benefits of marriage apply to both gay, straight, and sexless couples. Marriage is for psychological stability, stability in personal intimacy, family stability, management of property within a family, among other things related to human flourishing.”

    No offense, but as you say, this is your opinion. If we agree that everyone is to define marriage for himself, then obviously no kind of marriage can be forbidden. But the Christian Churches traditionally have understood marriage as having procreation for its primary justification and purpose, and the only reason for providing a stable environment, pooling of resources, etc.

  141. I disagree with you Agelius, The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that marriage is more about love and the well being of the individual and family than it is about procreation:

    “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws…. God himself is the author of marriage.”The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity,some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.”

    1604 -God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator’s eyes. and this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: “and God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'”

    1605 – Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” i.e., his counterpart, his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom comes our help.”Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

  142. “God himself is the author of marriage.”The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator… ”

    I think this is quite clear.

  143. Jared:

    But also,

    ‘1652 “By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.”

    ‘Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: “It is not good that man should be alone,” and “from the beginning [he] made them male and female”; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.’

  144. without diminishment of the other ends of marriage

    Marriage of a man and woman may be ordained by God, but gay marriage does seem to be an explicitly positive thing so long as it serves these “other ends of marriage” which include personal love and connection with another human.

    Perhaps gay marriage is not as holy as celibacy, but can we really argue that it is inherently sinful or outside of the spirit of scripture, even if it implicitly involves the sin of homosexual sex?

  145. “IMHO, Humans are biologically inclined to mate in stable relationships that allow people to pool resources for the betterment of the individuals involved, and create a stable environment to raise children. Marriage provides an institution to allow that to happen. The benefits of marriage apply to both gay, straight, and sexless couples. Marriage is for psychological stability, stability in personal intimacy, family stability, management of property within a family, among other things related to human flourishing.”

    Jared, your first line leads me to question whether you accept the rest of your statement as a rather recent invention. Which it is.

  146. “Perhaps gay marriage is not as holy as celibacy, but can we really argue that it is inherently sinful or outside of the spirit of scripture, even if it implicitly involves the sin of homosexual sex?”

    If it involves sin, it is not holy, and yes we can argue it is inherently sinful and outside the spirit of scripture.

  147. Jared:

    You write, “Perhaps gay marriage is not as holy as celibacy, but can we really argue that it is inherently sinful or outside of the spirit of scripture, even if it implicitly involves the sin of homosexual sex?”

    It depends on what you mean by “marriage”. If you only mean a civil agreement to live together and be faithful to one another, share property and leave their property to each other in the event one of them dies, then no, it’s not inherently sinful.

    It’s only “the sin of homosexual sex” that’s outside the spirit of scripture.

    The thing is, everyone understands marriage to be essentially related to sex. Being faithful within marriage primarily means not having sex with anyone else. What’s hard to understand is why sex would be essential to a marriage in which, by nature, sex is and must always be unfruitful.

    If sex is not essential to gay marriage, then it would be hard to find anything inherently wrong with it. But if, like normal marriage, sex is assumed to be part-and-parcel of it, then a traditional, orthodox Christian couldn’t endorse it.

  148. Andrew S.,

    Really? You have a unique story then. Did you go on a mission? Were you Mormon because your parents had you go?

  149. Cal,

    I did not go on a mission. It was when I was considering going on a mission that the reality of not believing became fully apparent.

    I am/was Mormon because I was raised with it, yes. It’s my culture, as it were.

  150. Interesting. So you never received the gift of the Holy Spirit? You were a nominal Mormon, not a real one? Would you say more than half of the Mormons are nominal (in name only)?

    Has anyone ever told you you look a bit like LeBron James?

  151. I’ve always wished my face looked half as good as Andrew’s.

    I just look like a big goober in pictures.

  152. Cal,

    I still am not really sure what the gift of the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost is supposed to entail, so I can’t really say whether I received it or anyone else did. I also don’t really know about this distinction between “nominal Mormons” and “real Mormons”. I went to church every week. I did my scripture study. I mean, Mormonism is a very “active” religion.

    I can say that from most estimates, probably the active Mormons only represent around 40 to 50% of the total membership count — that is, of the 15 million number that the church keeps advertising, people in pews on a regular basis is only around 40-50% of that. So, maybe that counts as “nominal Mormons”.

    No one has gone for the LeBron comparison. Have gotten Denzel Washington and Mos Def, though.

  153. Andrew S., thanks for your thoughts. You can tell I want to understand Mormonism.

    Seth R., do you have the gift of the Holy Spirit? If so, did you feel anything when you received him? How does he help you in life?

  154. Pingback: Defending the Family by Preaching Homonormative, Gay Marriage | Wheat and Tares

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s