The Rev. Isaac Villegas, pastor of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship, officiates at the wedding of Kate Dembinski to Kate Flynn on May 21, 2016. Photo courtesy of Dan Scheirer

Mennonite Church coming apart over sexuality issues

(RNS) A year ago, the Mennonite Church USA was one of many Christian groups struggling with dissension over the place of gays and lesbians in the church. Today, it’s not just struggling, but falling apart.

The divisions reached the highest level of leadership after a member of the denomination’s Executive Board resigned last month after officiating at the wedding of two lesbians, a violation of church rules.

Over the past year, three of the denomination’s 20 regional conferences have voted to withdraw over what they view as sin, potentially shrinking denominational membership by 17 percent and halving the number of congregations. That doesn’t include individual congregations in other conferences that have also pulled out. That leaves the denomination with about 73,000 members and 600 congregations.

Meanwhile, two other conferences have gone in the other direction by welcoming LGBT people. The Central Conference last summer granted ministerial credentials to a gay man, while the Western Conference declared that its ministers could officiate same-sex weddings without fear of censure.

Officially, the Mennonite Church USA upholds that marriage is between one man and one woman. But the denominational rules limit its ability to discipline regional bodies.

“It’s about homosexuality, but it’s about a polity of governance that doesn’t lodge authority anywhere,” said Allen Lehman, administrator of Franklin Conference, which voted in April to withdraw from Mennonite Church USA. The conference has 1,000 members in 14 congregations.

On May 21, the Rev. Isaac Villegas, pastor of the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Mennonite Fellowship, officiated at a wedding of a lesbian couple. Two days later he resigned his seat on the denomination’s Executive Board.

In an open letter, he wrote, “I hope … that soon we will no longer teach that queer desire is sinful; that soon we will let our churches bless those who wish to marry, whether gay or straight.”

RELATED STORY: A Mennonite pastor is suspended and a denomination is splintered

The Virginia Conference, which includes Chapel Hill, has suspended Villegas' ordination. The conference is assembling a committee to decide what additional measures it will take. Those may include revoking his ordination.

Villegas has the full support of his congregation, which he continues to pastor. In another sign of the widening rift, representatives from two Virginia Conference congregations traveled to Chapel Hill to express their support.

Issues related to sexuality have plagued the group since it was formed by the merger of two denominations in 2002. Those differences came to the fore in 2013 when the Rocky Mountain Conference licensed a gay pastor.

At least 16 congregations left the denomination in 2014, and the Gulf States Conference narrowly defeated a proposal to withdraw.

At the denomination’s biennial convention last year, delegates reaffirmed the sexuality standards and then approved a resolution that called for “grace, love and forbearance toward conferences, congregations and pastors in our body who, in different ways, seek to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ on matters related to same-sex covenanted unions.”

Patricia Shelly, the denomination’s moderator, acknowledged that the two actions seem to be at odds.

“The current direction the delegates have set for us is to function with the tension,” she said.

The North Central Conference, one of the smallest, with 10 congregations, quickly decided to withdraw. Then the largest conference, in Lancaster, Pa., also voted to leave.

Last fall, Evana, an alternative organization spearheaded by leaders from several former Mennonite Church USA congregations, debuted and quickly became an attractive option for those looking for new affiliations.

Shelly said several other conferences are debating their futures. In the meantime, denominational officials are doing strategic planning.

“We’re planning for a smaller denomination, and that raises a lot of questions,” Shelly said.

Mennonite World Review, an independent newspaper, has even suggested dismantling Mennonite Church USA in favor of a looser organized alliance.

“In a time of declining loyalty and growing conflict, denominations as we have known them may no longer be sustainable financially or emotionally," reads the editorial.

Instead, the editorial called for a looser coalition bonded by the basic tenets of Christian faith. Such an organization, it suggested, "would not be a place to judge whether others are too lax or too strict and what to do about them if they’re wrong."

Moreover, "it would refuse to fight the battles over sexuality that preoccupy denominations and divert them from their mission."

(Rich Preheim is a correspondent based in Elkhart, Ind. He has written about LGBT issues and the church for both secular and religious periodicals.)


  1. Homosexuality is a sin. Any “church” teaching anything different, or endorsing the sin, is apostate and not in the will of God. They have turned themselves into a country club and not a church representing Jesus.
    Jesus said to flee immorality – not embrace it.

  2. Well, I guess all of you are Christians. But only some of you are throwing stones.

  3. Soon the Churches will fall, the sooner the better. The churches that are embracing LGBT people are realizing that the Interpreters of the Bible, from Greek ( go figure, Jesus never spoke Greek), had agendas and have fooled people into thinking they know 100% what they are interpreting. They don’t. They only know about 75% the rest is an educational guesses. Those guesses have plenty of bias in them.

  4. Don’t worry, the Methodists have already fallen, and if the Mennonites don’t stand up and enforce on their pastors that they must stick to their Bibles and their Christ, they will fall too.

    What you have posted is wrong, way-out-in-left-field-wrong, but the problem is that you’ve got a visible minority of pastors and churches in mainline denominations (and some smaller ones) who believe what you believe. These leaders may or many not still be Christians, but they’ve definitely lost their faith and trust in the Bible, and also in lost their faith in Christ (regarding this “gay marriage” issue). They are doing real damage, and they have NO business pastoring a church or taking a leadership role in a denomination.

    Churches and denominations have to be willing to stand up for the Bible and Christ publicly, and be willing to fire or expel any clergy person that is messing up on this issue.

  5. Nobody is throwing stones here. The Bible, and Jesus Christ, clearly made statements that support heterosexual marriage and OPPOSE gay marriage.

    Pastors and denominational leaders who disagree, like Isaac Villegas, need to be fired or expelled so they can go elsewhere. Find someplace where they worship Gay instead of worship God.

  6. It never ceases to amaze me how this group–representing around 2% of our population, is able to disrupt the mission of sharing Christ and the way of the cross, and bend the central focus of religious people toward the whole-hearted embrace of the left’s political agenda. It’s totally possible for the church to honor Christ and prayerfully embrace the thousands of confused, tormented members of the LGBT community without totally sellling out to popular politics.

  7. Best estimates say 4%. But let’s assume 2%. It makes my point even stronger.

    But it isn’t just us. When you add in our friends, families, colleagues, neighbors, employers, fellow congregants, and all of the people who believe in fairness, Justice, and not using the word of God as an excuse to be bigots, you end up with well over 60% of the country.

    So your myth making that somehow, a tiny minority exercises tremendous influence, is both true and false. The true part of it is that people can see bigotry for what it is, and don’t wish harm on their friends and family. The false part is exactly the same myth that has plagued Jewish people for 2000 years, and invited the oh-so-Christian response for those same 2000 years– the insidious other that wants to rule everything, and make the Good People bow down to them.

    There may be thousands of gay people that are confused and tormented. I would bet that every single one of them has bought into toxic religious belief, and substituted self hatred for self esteem. But there are millions of gay people on this country who have rejected that story, and live their lives as authentically as they can.

    And that is the part that antigay bigots hate. We refused, and will continue to refuse, to accept the place in society that you have assigned to us. You have to blame it on the left, whatever that may be, ignoring the many conservatives that reject this bigotry. And if anybody has politicized this, it is the right wing, especially the Christian Right wing, ever since Anita Bryant raised her well coiffed reptilian snout above a Florida swamp 40 years ago.

    We’re not disrupting the mission of Christianity. It’s Christians, both on the left and on the right, whatever those terms mean– and I don’t think they mean much. The right has wrongly turned being gay into The Worst Sin Ever, and has spent decades politicizing, demonizing, dehumanizing and damning gay people. They then attack other Christians as not being True Christians (TM), denying the, their religious freedom,and freedom of conscience. The people of the left– whatever that means– have simply progressed beyond bigotry disguised as religious belief, and “left” you behind them. And not despite what their bibles (allegedly) say, but because of what their bibles do say, and how the spirit of THEIR God, not YOURS, moves them

    But that’s what Christians of that sort do– project everything on to the people they have defined as the other, the enemy, and not One of Us.

  8. Actually churches of the kind you support are doing a great job in increasing the number of “nones”. They have a big generational gap which is increasing rapidly. The more churches like yours extol bigotry (under the phony guise of “genuine belief”), the more people are getting fed up.

    People raised in those churches are looking elsewhere. This is why there is such an effort of fundies to place their children in virtual gulags. To isolate them from the rest of the world. To keep them hermetically sealed from learning how destructive and pointless some of those “Bible believing Christian” beliefs and practices are.

  9. LOL.

    “Jesus Christ, clearly made statements that … OPPOSE gay marriage.”

    No he didn’t. But its not like good faith interpretations of the Bible are really necessary in Christian belief anyway.

  10. It may be clear to you what the Bible says on this subject, but many other people interpret the Bible differently, in a sincere and thoughtful manner. For example, these two articles examine many Biblical passages in detail, and are written by people who clearly have labored to understand the Bible’s meaning for quite some time:

    I recognize that it is a grand tradition in Christianity to attack other Christians for interpreting the Bible differently than yourself, but it’s a tradition that’s resulted in a lot of pain, suffering, and death. Is that really an aspect of Christianity that you want to carry forward into the 21st century? Might it not be better to be humble and consider that perhaps you were not granted unique insight into God’s mind, that perhaps others may have something to teach you?

  11. You have that idea exactly backwards. It amazes me how shamelessly hallelujah hypocrites raise money at the pulpit by declaring holy war on the most vulnerable 2 to 4% of the population. Historically, they have always had to have their boogeymen to scapegoat before the congregation. It used to be Mormons and black people; now it’s LGBT. I get it. Following Christ is boring; hating your neighbor in God’s name is not.

  12. Fleeing immorality would mean staying out of most “Christian” churches, if we’re all being honest. “True love waits,” but hallelujah hypocrites almost never do.

  13. But unlike Evangelical churches, EVERY Mennonite and related Anabaptist church strongly believe in the separation of church and state and oppose giving religious based bigotry color of law.

  14. Halleluah hypocrites?

    How poetic! But let’s see if we can move away from the name-calling and into some stubborn, non-emotional FACTS: Tell me ONE of the mainstream denominations that are all in for the LGBT cause, that is not experiencing a sharp decline–just ONE! The Mennonites are just the latest.

    Seems people won’t support those institutions with their heart and money when their deeper spiritual hungers are not assuaged. The LGBT community is still made up of individuals who have to own their own spirituality beyond the politics.

    You’ve purposely blown off my whole point here: I’m just advocating for churches staying focused on their main mission which is spiritual, not political. There’s no rebutting that–unless you’re an athiest who’s out to detract from the Christ message in the world–and there are those folks around..

  15. Very nice comment. I especially appreciate your last sentence. Thank you.

  16. That’s true Torin. I’d say the translation/interpretation of the Hebrew of the Old Testament was even shakier. Hebrew had become a dead language following the second destruction of the temple and dispersal of the Jews across Europe and Asia.

    I had the good fortune to study with one of the foremost experts in biblical Hebrew, Dr. Mark Hillmer. He was clear that a great deal of translation was based on inferences, suppositions, and plain old guesswork.

    Puts it all in a different light. That’s why trying to go with literalism or inerrancy is absurd.

  17. Tell me ONE, just ONE place in the gospels where Jesus said, “Go forth and make your churches bigger than the others. And whatever you do, don’t lose members.”

    Next, tell me all about your favorite right wing churches that meddle in politics, that don’t push anti-gay laws in the Congress, state legislatures, city councils, etc. Tell all about the ones that don’t inveigh against Muslim folks in civil forums, don’t attend city council members to oppose building Muslim houses of worship. Go ahead.

  18. “Even in Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA) only a tiny minority support gay marriage.”

    What would that number be CErmle? Please include a link to your source.

  19. It ALWAYS comes down to inspiration and authority with you libs. You can’t walk through the text honestly without arriving where the Church has always been, so you upend the text. So predictable…

  20. Did He not define marriage in Matt. 19?

  21. Matthew 19:4-6.

    So yes, Jesus did. Do you follow Jesus or not? Be honest.

  22. No. It does not. He also did not, as the previous poster stated, ban gay marriage either. It takes a certain level of interpolation and interpretation to turn Matthew into a statement about defining marriage. It is about what constitutes a valid divorce (in ancient times)

    It also is reflective of ancient society in a way which does not exist now. Only men could demand divorce in antiquity. So only a man whose wife commits “sexual immorality” can divorce. It’s a very unhelpful passage in a modern setting. Where a woman is not property if a male family member. Where spouses are expected to be on equitable footing with each other.

  23. We can both offer links, friend. I think Dr.Rob Gagnon has some good scholarly answers to the gay marriage propaganda that’s being offered.

    If Christians are not humble enough to accept what God clearly teaches in the Scriptures on this issue, they are not humble at all.

  24. It comes down to reading the text as honestly and clearly as possible, always knowing I don’t have the one and only perfect translation or interpretation.

  25. Are you seriously claiming that “deeper spiritual hunger” means being able to damn, demonize, demean, and dehumanize gay people under both color of law AND color of faith?

  26. Stop all that mess, Spuddie. You know what the Bible text clearly states, you can’t duck it.

    Jesus clearly spelled out that God not only createD humans male and female (opposite) genders, but also MARRIED them exclusively as gender opposites.

    The surrounding context does not change the actual historical claims that Jesus made here. And you know it!

  27. Read Matthew 19:1-3 and 7-12 and you would have seem it’s about divorce and why its mean of guys to dump their wives unless they are unfaithful. It implicitly assumes wives are property of their husbands.

    Your interpretation is a perfect of example of filling in gaps and creating things not in the text to suits personal prejudice.

  28. How about YOU be honest. Jesus was answering a question about divorce, not sexual orientation, not gay marriage, not anything other than heterosexual malfeasance.

    When the fundelibangelists oppose heterosexual divorce with the same political campaigns and damnation which they apply to gay people, you might have a point.

  29. You gave a deliberately misleading citation by excising the context. Proof texting the Bible rather than reading it. Losing the beginning and end of a passage. Do that with any other text they would call you a quote miner and fibber.

    Jesus was talking about marriages which already existed. He wasn’t defining marriage he was explaining it to those already married. Since there was no gay marriage in ancient Judea around 1st century CE, Jesus when asked about divorce would not address it.

    Your reading is entirely skewed and full of personal gap filling.

  30. The Hebrew was translated into Greek long before the destruction of the Temple. Long before Christ, too. We know how the relevant passages were interpreted during the time of Christ from Jewish writings of the time. There is no real mystery here.

  31. Which is also why even those who were always familiar with the language, orthodox Jews never took a literal stance on the old testament. Hence commentaries and commentaries on the commentaries.

  32. Ancient Greek also is not the same as a modern language. Hence why Homeric poems take on very different tones with new translations.

    Expressions, context, and linguistic shorthands are lost in time.

  33. Jesus answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON [emphasis mine] a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

    IOW, Jesus had to define marriage in order to show why it was wrong to break it.

    And He was not even introducing anything new, for in the same vein the prophet Malachai wrote: “Did He not make them one? And the vestige of the spirit remains in him. And why did He make them one? He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel.” Mal. 2:15-16.

    I hope you are not under the impression that you are embarrassing anyone by pointing out the inconsistency of condemning ssm while condoning divorce. I personally am thrilled about the attention that all of this has focused on unscriptural divorce, for it is LONG overdue. The solution, however, is not to embrace ever greater disobedience but to repent and commit to greater loyalty to Christ and greater holiness in our family relations.

  34. There us a ton of gap filling and exegis for your position. Especially when you omit the beginning and rest of the passage. A chapter on divorce would be addressing marriages already assumed to exist. As there was no gay marriage in Judea in Jesus’s time, it is entirely your interpretation in claiming it is being addressed here. Jesus defined marriages already there. It takes a leap of interpretation to claim it has to do with all marriages.

    Your reading works fine for you and your church. But it is not the only one put there nor would need to be.

  35. But which is it–translation, or interpretation? If it’s translation,
    then why not go with the venerable NASB or even the good ol’ 1984 NIV?
    ESV? Holman?

    If it’s interpretation, then sure–let’s compare
    text with text, all the while under the presupposition that what we’re
    dealing with is the the written Word of God.

    Honestly (and I repeat
    myself), you simply can’t walk through the text, sola scriptura, and end
    up with homosexuality being anything other than an example of broken
    sexuality at best, and rebellious sin against God’s creation at worst.

  36. “Since there was no gay marriage in ancient Judea around 1st century…”

    You got that right!!!

    It would have been absolutely unthinkable to anyone at all familiar with God’s Law!

    But not to the Greeks…another thread, I guess.

  37. So, let me understand–when Jesus said “”Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female…”

    You’re saying that that doesn’t define a biblical marriage?

    Jesus also said “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife,”

    Man–wife–and that doesn’t define a biblical marriage?

    “…and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    You’re saying that that doesn’t define a biblical marriage?

    Let’s be clear: this “one flesh” union cannot be entered into by two men or two women–it takes what Jesus said that it takes: male and female. Whatever two homosexuals end up doing, it ain’t “one flesh,” and as such cannot be considered as a marriage.

    BTW–take a look at the two Kates above–one of them thinks she’s a man. She’s confused…

  38. “There us a ton of gap filling and exegis for your position.” LOL! And nothing at all for yours. Feel free to produce something, however.

    “As there was no gay marriage in Judea in Jesus’s time” Why not? Because as Josephus explained: “What are our laws about marriage? That law owns no other mixture of sexes but that which nature hath appointed, that of a man with his wife, and that for the purpose of procreation of children; but it abhors the mixture of a male with a male.”

  39. If you are not going to take the entire passage in context, then you are simply proof-texting and looking to shoehorn your own interpretation of the text. As the topic was divorce, Jesus was clearly not defining marria by ge for everyone. The subject was not the definition of marriage. It was grounds for divorce.

    “You’re saying that that doesn’t define a biblical marriage?”

    It is one of many definitions of a “biblical” marriage. To claim it is the only one would be to ignore a whole lot of what came before. Most forms of “biblical marriage” are at odds with a modern society. As marriage was also largely a commercial transaction in Jesus’s time, invoking biblical ethos on this subject is not the most helpful courses of action.

    Jesus was not trying to define marriage for everyone. He was explaining the relationship between existing married couples, as he knew them. Since divorce prefigures the existence of a marriage by its nature. The passage you cited was meant as a way to get a husband to consider his wife as something worthy of a bit more than just his property. To not be cruel about ending a marriage, unless the situation absolutely compelled it. To read it as a definition of marriage is extremely selective and frankly nothing more than proof-texting.

    It takes a big leap of interpretation to read it as a ban on gay marriage. One not borne by the text. But in its absence. You chose to read a ban on something because it isn’t discussed. Not because it was affirmatively opposed. It is your interpretation, but not one which has to be considered compelling for all Christians. It is far from as clear as you think. There is no “thou shalt not” here. Merely the absence of something.

    Those who seek to use the Bible to justify prejudices are not going to admit ambiguity, gaps or selective interpretations exist. The reason being that they are trying to avoid discussion and criticism of their view by invoking God. Not get into serious discussion on the meaning and context of Scriptural text.

  40. So was the notion of spouses being equal partners, one wife per husband, that rape was a really bad thing to a woman. Much of the society of Jesus’s time would be considered barbaric today. As for the Greeks, they gave us democracy (albeit in a half-baked way), literature, invention, and mathematics.

  41. Well we can’t all be blessed like you with the absolute stated belief that God supports every word I say. 🙂

    Some people have an understanding that the Bible can support many interpretations and we are far from perfect in divining them. You are lucky to be without that in any way.

  42. “As the topic was divorce…”

    “It is one of many definitions of a “biblical” marriage.”

    Sorry, but it is THE form of biblical marriage that God ordained. Notice that Christ goes back to the very beginning of recorded history, that of Adam and Eve, and then utilizes THJAT reality to frame His teaching on marriage and divorce.

    “…the relationship between existing married couples, as he knew them.”

    Really? Who are talking about–a mere man limited by the surrounding cultural ethos, or the One Who created all things? Are you saying that Jesus was ignorant of what we enlightened moderns would be promoting a mere 2000 years after His ministry?

    “It takes a big leap of interpretation to read it as a ban on gay marriage.”

    No, it takes a HUGE leap of rationality to begin to even imagine that God would not punish (let alone that He would bless) what He says He will punish.

  43. “Sorry, but it is THE form of biblical marriage that God ordained.”

    For people who claim to read the Bible in its entirety, you really miss some important features. There are at least 8 different forms of marriage in the Bible.
    1. Heterosexual, monogamous
    2. Polygamous with concubines (sex slaves one purchases)
    3. Polygamous but voluntary
    4. Man and brother’s widow
    5. rapist and victim
    6. Soldier and sexual captive
    7. Man plus woman and her slaves
    8. Heterosexual slaves arranged for breeding purposes

    Since you chose not to cite your passage evidence in its entirety, you completely missed its point. You are choosing to read more into a small part in a self-serving fashion and lost what Jesus was trying to say on the subject of divorce. [Men, treat your wives well] Scrubbing out context in order to support a given view.

    As I said before, those looking to invoke God to excuse prejudices are not interested in discussions or interpretations. They simply want to claim their position is above reproach because God allegedly is on their side. If you want only one interpretation of the text to fit a given view, then you are not willing to look at it in a clear or objective way.

    “Really? Who are talking about–a mere man limited by the surrounding cultural ethos, or the One Who created all things?”
    Jesus didn’t create the world. But your attempt to invoke God here is merely a way to duck out of a good faith discussion on the topic and push a single interpretation. Even when the text is far from unambiguous.

  44. “Love is all there is.” “Love conquers all.” It is wonderful to see so many Mennonite churches making the right decision. These are the kind of people a Jesus could have pride in knowing. What would a Jesus ever do with the haters?

  45. As I already said, if you have a case to make then stop whining and please proceed with it.

  46. “Are you saying that Jesus was ignorant of what we enlightened moderns would be promoting a mere 2000 years after His ministry?”

    Of course He wasn’t. Even if He weren’t divine, He probably wouldn’t have been ignorant of the concept of ssm in any case. The Midrash (which was committed to writing a couple centuries later but would have been the oral teachings of the rabbis during the time of Christ) spoke of same-sex marriage having existed during pre-Noahide times and also among the Canaanites and being a sort of “last straw” for both. Which of course gives possible new shades of meaning to Christ’s words that “as it was in the time of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

  47. The Greeks and the Romans had a far lower view of women than did either Jews or Christians. They also did not have the Imago Dei and therefore were absolutely in love with the “discrimination” that you holler about constantly. “Justice is equality, but only for equals.” –Aristotle.

  48. That is your opinion. One not really supported in fact as all three equally treated women rather shabbily in their own way. Imago Dei is a concept with so many exceptions that it really has no bearing on concepts of morality. Although all people are allegedly created in God’s image, evidently to most of Christiandom, some are more deserving of humane treatment than others. Discrimination being somehow ordained by God by such Christians. So much for equality.

  49. The point is, of course, that without the Imago Dei we would not really be having any kind of discussion about equality at all, because such a thing never entered the minds of the pre-christian ancients. They considered the reverse quite self-evident.

  50. I am sure you believe that to be true. Being an apologist for the Christian faith, you are sure to look for some connection to your religion in anything beneficial to society. No matter how tenuous and slight. Whatever can be stretched to give credit to your religion will be employed. Its just what you do.

  51. Tonight our Bible study was on the book of Jude. So up to date and relevant!

  52. The point is not the arguments offered in the articles I linked, I didn’t think you would read them or seriously consider them anyway.

    The point is that what you think is clear is not in fact clear to everyone. You might benefit from considering that there are multiple interpretations of any passage in the Bible, and there is no objective way to be sure that your interpretation is the correct one. If there were, there would only be one Christian denomination, all disagreements could be resolved by appealing to the objective One True Correct Interpretation. No Christian wants to oppose God, if they did they’d be an atheist or satanist or something.

    Words mean different things to different people at different times. I recently saw a panel from a comic book written in like 1950-something where Iron Man says to Captain America “maybe what you need is some solid dick from an Iron Man!” Today you might interpret that as a homosexual advance, referring to Tony Stark’s penis, but at the time the phrase “solid dick” meant “straight talk” or “honest advice”. That text is only like 60 years old, and it already requires some interpretation. The Bible is older, it was written in a different time in a different country by people living under different circumstances, and then it was translated into English by fallible people who can make mistakes, or introduce further ambiguity.

    How do you know that your interpretation is correct? How do you know for sure?

    Perhaps you found the arguments you linked to convincing, but other people did not. Are they all just evil idiots? Con men, politicians, and other sneaky people frequently convince people of things that are not true. Perhaps your opponents have been conned. Or perhaps YOU have been convinced of something that is false. How do you know for certain you are right?

  53. I thought we’d be hearing from you on this.

    Of course not, Shawnie. I long ago learned it was impossible to embarrass moralizing busybodies who insist that other people obey the dictates of their faith while refusing it to follow it Themselves. Why just a few weeks ago, I brought up Super Duper Moralizing Busybody and Orange Juice Empress Anita Bryant on the 35th anniversary of her divorce from her first husband, good ol’ Bob. She claimed it violated the deepest principles of her faith. But we all know that convenience is such a harsh mistress.

    We are excluding you from that, of course. You’ve told us you are a sinner like everyone else, so I’m sure it’s true.

    God hates fags. God hates divorce. God hates sin. God hates religious grifters like JO, FG, PR, TP, MB, and a host of others, but they remain as rich as ever. God even hates everyone who doesn’t accept your reading of scripture.

    Whoops! Did I say that?

  54. Because everyone, EVERYONE, is lusting after Angels.

  55. Or just your prejudices, masquerading as sincere religious belief.

    Perhaps you can tell me why we don’t burn witches anymore, despite one of the clearest texts available: THOU SHALT NOT SUFFER A WITCH TO LIVE.

  56. Robert gagnon? virulently antigay Robert gagnon?

  57. Jesus said that the written words of the Scripture ARE “…what God has spoken to you,” and Christ held the Jewish leaders accountable to that knowledge.

  58. Not to mention, if Christianity is responsible for everything in our culture, as Shawnie has claimed in the past, then it is responsible for the evil as well as the good.

  59. “The characterization of “thousands of confused, tormented members of the LGBT community” is itself emotional name-calling and makes an inaccurate and unwarranted assertion. The reason that the LGBT community has political sway and has achieved some equality in the industrialized world is because, as a group, they are very productive to society and the collective world economy. Studies show that LGBT youth are more inclined to work hard in school, get better grades, go to college, seek better paying employment and then use a larger portion of their disposable income to secure their personal safety from bigotry through political contributions than most of their peers. The torment is purely external from people like you, but LGBT as a group are far from confused. They are purpose driven and the purpose is to be relieved from the torment caused by irrational religionists, such as yourself. Your persecution of them is what drives them to succeed. Good job. Furthermore, “hallelujah hypocrite” is not mere poetic sophistry; it’s sadly accurate. Anti-gay “Christians” violate the call to be “Christ-like” in their persecutions of LGBT under the guise of pursuing “religious freedom.” Persecuting others has no place in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but homophobia gets preached from the pulpit all the more for it, hence “hallelujah hypocrites.”

  60. There is only guesswork. The church was in charge of the world for quite a while. We call it the Dark Ages. The word of God was used to keep people under control, ignorant, fearful and poor. Every religion throughout history has used a higher class of people to interpret what the lower class needed to know and elevated themselves in the mix – all religions, everywhere. They all teach the same thing: you are a tiny nothing. God ____ wants you to do his bidding. Here is how we found out he wanted it done. We wrote it down. You can’t expect a god to KEEP SPEAKING!
    Appease god(S) by offering,___, mingling and chanting ______ on these days and times _____. That being said, he will be inclined to help you in war, with the weather, epidemics, etc. but if he doesn’t help? Well then, you did ____ wrong. Ask for forgiveness and hopefull he’ll feel kindly toward the people again.
    Every religion.
    Until it goes out of style because other religions and science has debunked too much of it to carry on and so a new one takes over. Just as Christianity will die. Like 300 other gods have died.
    And not a single God appeared before the masses to protect or defend or set the record straight. Oh, yes…Jesus did. So what since then? Nothing. He could appear and change the world, reaffirm the belief. But no. And to account for this, you make up stories and declare that absence tests faith.
    Like when you drowned or burned a woman at the stake and said she would live if she wasn’t a witch and God forgave her. Not one ever lived. It’s like that: designed to block all educated thought or arguments no matter which way the road turns. Cured? Praise God! Dead? He wanted you to come home. Infertility cured and you have a healthy baby? Praise God. Science made it? God made the scientists! It wasn’t a healthy baby? God gave you a defective one to make you appreciate the small things in life. ‘There’s always an answer and it always comes from some PERSON’ interpretation of the bible.
    No haircuts, garments of 2 cloths, shellfish, etc. Those are archaic and outdated. But let’s take something from that same place,(homosexuality) and demand that it is meant for today. A contemporary law.
    I was a Roman Catholic then because a presbyterian for years. I was ordained an Elder for a number,of them, in charge of discipleship training and missions.
    Then I just stopped trying to avoid the truth, there is no God. There is no one way. Every group of people that have ever lived tried to create a religion and, while the same framework was there, none exactly like another – different names, dates, origins. No God would allow that level of misunderstanding. Not when it prevented new followers from ever existing.
    I’m an atheist. Life has become so much better since leaving the church. I don’t have to hate anyone’s sins but not the sinner. I don’t have to tithe and not complain where it goes. I don’t have to listen to theories on why fossils are fake. I don’t have to listen to people calling Muslims horrible names and then vice verse – while neither has a lick of proof. Although, if you go by the crusades, Allah totally won. Just saying.

  61. Yes–my love for God’s Word COULD be “prejudices, masquerading as sincere religious belief,” so why don’t we examine them in light of some objective standard and see? And, BTW, the New Covenant application of Old Covenant capital punishment for witches isn’t to kill them, but to see them converted to Christ.

    See 1 Cor. 5 for the apostolic application of Old Covenant law…

  62. Nothing in there about witches. But what if they don’t convert? do you get to kill them then, or do you apply a more objective standard– that witchcraft doesn’t exist and never has?

  63. How do they know for certain that they are right?

    That’s easy. They know for certain they are right. As Helen hunt said– I think that was her name, not the actress, but the mother of the infamous hunt brothers from some decades ago:

    Of course the bible is inerrant. Once you start questioning it, where do you stop?

  64. Why can’t they ever be “torn apart” about whether it is ever acceptable for a Christian to serve in the military?

  65. Which fits in nicely with my interpretation. As gay marriage was clearly not in existence in Judea of Jesus’s time or contemplated among the Jews.

    Therefore, when the subject of a discussion is divorce, the dissolution of a marriage which already existed. Because a gay marriage would not exist back then, it would not even be remotely addressed. Nor would it be expected to be.

    But that would require logic and common sense. Something unnecessary in religious belief and practice. It would also involve not trying to stretch interpretations and proof-texting to fit a given view.

  66. No. I see patronizing, malicious, insulting arrogant behavior you are calling pity and giving it the appropriate label.

  67. Or laurel and hardy on quantum physics.

  68. Anything and everything except a defense of YOUR reading of scripture, eh Ben? Somehow you guys just never seem to get to that.

  69. I’m still waiting for your scriptural case for embracing gay marriage, Lare. If God makes two people one in marriage because He created them male and female as per Matt 19, then how does a pair that were NOT created male and female fit into that paradigm?

  70. LOL! One thing you CAN’T accuse Bob Gagnon of is not knowing his stuff. I’ve read and watched some of his debates, and his opponents always end up pulling out the strawmen and the epithets because they simply can’t refute him. You, of course, skipped attempts to refute and went straight for the epithets.

  71. I don’t have to defend it. T here are plenty of people who have. But remember, I’m an atheist, and damned to hell anyway.

    Until next time.

  72. So it’s BOB gagnon? I thought as much. He knows scripture the same way you do. It’s the rest of his conclusions I find fault with.

    Until next time.?

  73. I am still waiting for you to consider scripture in an honest non-self serving fashion. Life is full of disappointments for us both.

    Sorry. I don’t find proof-texting the Bible to be an intellectually honest pursuit like you do. Because as I said before, people looking to justify prejudices using scripture are not interested in discussing various interpretations and different perspective on the text. They are just looking to push their specific singular view.

    Besides, again the point was Jesus said nothing on the subject. Any notion of condemnation of it so far seems to come from a lot of interpolation, selective reading, and proof-texting absent context.

    As for Matt 19, you choose to read between the gaps to come up with your own take on it.

    In context, the subject of the entire passage is a justification why men should treat their wives as something better than their property. A call for compassion and understanding between spouses. Invoking divine will to soften the hardened hearts of men considering divorce (because women could not ask for a divorce back then).

    Its simply a matter of you choosing to read something in negative space of the text. In your take, if it is not discussed explicitlyit must be forbidden. I am sure that works for your POV, but it is hardly the only way to read it. But again, I know you are not interested in the idea that scripture CAN be interpreted any way but your own. So you may feel free to believe Matt 19 has such a meaning. But you are foolish if you think anyone else has to accept.

  74. When texts seem ambiguous (which I don’t think these truly are) , it is helpful to turn to other writings from a similar time and place to ascertain how the confusing language or concepts were generally understood by the generation that wrote of them. And we have Jewish writings and commentaries from the early Christian era, even the first century, which leave little doubt on this subject, at least.

    “Perhaps you found the arguments you linked to convincing, but other people did not. Are they all just evil idiots?” No, but few people today have actually read the scriptures in their entirety, let alone any historical background material. So when John Boswell came along thirty years ago with all his very weak arguments for gay affirmation in the church, buried under a deluge of citations and extraneous details, much of the public, having few tools with which to evaluate his position, heard what they wanted to hear and ate it up with a spoon. And as we can see from the comments of many of the regulars around here, few people even know what their position is or why it is or is not sound. They’ve simply been told there are “other interpretations” and that’s good enough for them. Which is why I NEVER read any links that people post when I ask them to defend their position on this. I already know the standard arguments (Boswell invented all of them) and why they’re faulty. I want people to have the integrity to present and defend them themselves and see them subjected to the appropriate scrutiny. If they don’t understand their own positions, debate is utterly futile.

  75. In Matthew Chapter15 and Mark Chapter 7 Jesus explains to his disciples the things that make people ‘unclean’ i.e. sinful. He lists ‘adultery’ and ‘sexual immorality/fornication” as examples of sin. By stating ‘adultery’ along with other forms of sexual transgression, Jesus clearly labelled such sexual behavior, including homosexuality, as sinful. No amount of ‘progressive’ translation or re-interpretation can change that. Now, John Chapter 8 gives us an example of how Jesus expects all Christians to act toward those who sin: do not ‘condemn’, but plead with the sinner to sin no more. If you call Christ a ‘bigot’, then you’re obviously not a Christian. If you also call those who read His plain words and draw the obvious conclusions regarding sexual relations ‘bigots’ as well, then you don’t do so as a Christian – but as a Christ-hater. Man has no authority to redefine sin. Your attempts to do so are not undertaken as a believer.

  76. In Matthew Chapter 15 and Mark Chapter 7 Jesus explains to his disciples the things that make people ‘unclean’- i.e. sinful. He lists ‘adultery’ and “sexual immorality”/”fornication” as examples of sin. By stating ‘adultery’ along with other forms of sexual transgression, Jesus clearly labelled such sexual behavior, including homosexuality, as sinful. No amount of ‘progressive’ translation or re-interpretation can change that. Now, John Chapter 8 gives us an example of how Jesus expects all Christians to act toward those who sin: do not ‘condemn’, but plead with the sinner to sin no more.
    If you call Christ a ‘bigot’, then you’re obviously not a Christian. If you also call those who read His plain words and draw the obvious conclusions regarding sexual relations ‘bigots’ as well, then you don’t do so as a Christian – but as a Christ-hater. Man has no authority to redefine sin. Your attempts to do so are not undertaken as a believer.

  77. Be serious, please. You don’t defend it because you don’t know how. The same reason Carrot always runs away from the challenge. The same reason Larry always runs away from the challenge. None of you even know what your position actually IS.

  78. “Lies lies lies” is not a rebuttal, Lare.

    What is “intellectually dishonest” is making arguments that you do not understand and can not support.

  79. Now you are into semantics i.e. the definition of marriage. Jesus said marriage was between a man and a woman. Jesus never said being gay was a sin. Thus if gays had a civil union you would be OK with that. Religion ceded marriage and divorce to the state long ago thereby making the scriptural definition of marriage irrelevant today. A gay union and a straight union should have the same civil rights. What you are really advocating is a church which is exclusive. You exclude those you don’t like or disagree with you. Is that really Christ like.

  80. It is sad the church is being divided over gay marriage. This is the same church that found it acceptable to overlook or abandon 1Cor. chapters 7,11, and 14 some 50 years ago.. Clearly the role of women in the church and prayer veilings are much more straight forward teachings than the biblical writings on gays. Christianity ignores just about all of Leviticus and yet some hone in on being gay is an abomination. As Paul writes if you follow one law you must follow all the law and the law cannot save you.
    To those who insist on calling being gay a sin, I suggest removing the mote in your eye and judge not lest ye be judged. Furthermore Christianity is not about creating an exclusive society of the content and comfortable. It is supposed to be an inclusive group who despite their own weaknesses and sinfulness continue to ask, seek, and knock. I pray heaven remains available to those who have rejected the least among us.

  81. I am posting this again just to make sure you get it.

    It is sad the church is being divided over gay marriage. This is the
    same church that found it acceptable to overlook or abandon 1Cor.
    chapters 7,11, and 14 some 50 years ago.. Clearly the role of women in
    the church and prayer veilings are much more straight forward teachings
    than the biblical writings on gays. Christianity ignores just about all
    of Leviticus and yet some hone in on being gay is an abomination. As
    Paul writes if you follow one law you must follow all the law and the
    law cannot save you.
    To those who insist on calling being gay a sin, I
    suggest removing the mote in your eye and judge not lest ye be judged.
    Furthermore Christianity is not about creating an exclusive society of
    the content and comfortable. It is supposed to be an inclusive group who
    despite their own weaknesses and sinfulness continue to ask, seek, and
    knock. I pray heaven remains available to those who have rejected the
    least among us

  82. Whatever floats your boat. You want to consider yourself the sole source of interpretation of the Bible, fine. I am not going to bother to talk you out of it. 🙂

  83. They’re all both Tim, translation and interpretation. One’s personal opinions, beliefs and culture play a role in what one writes on the page. That’s been true from the first. It’s true of the NIV, the NASB, NRSV, KJV, etc.

    I hear that your personal opinions, beliefs and culture lead you to sincerely believe that same sex relationships are an “example of broken sexuality at best, and rebellious sin against God’s creation at worst.”

    Of course you are free to maintain that belief for as long as you want, including through your death. My complaint is with those who fight to force others to live according to their beliefs.

  84. Actually you had to stretch things to consider homosexuality in that list of sins. As homosexuality is treated far differently from all those other sins, to the point of somehow demanding ostracism, your more generalized approach is far from honest here. As I said, you have nothing from Jesus himself on the subject. Since you had to construct this elaborate interpretation of sin before we even get to the subject at hand, it points to self serving interpretation. If you are trying to use your religion to excuse treating people as less than human, as anti gay types calling themselves Christians clearly are, you are a bigot. Plain and simple. As stated previously, you are not interested in a discussion in scriptural interpretation. You simply want to proof text biblical excuses to behave badly. It reflects not on Jesus or his words, but on how people choose to use them.

  85. Kestrel, this is an outstanding comment describing the historical function of religion in societies.

    I want to add one thing:
    Religion has produced positive outcomes too and it’s easy to list those. But, one does not zero out the other. Religion has provided positive results and negative results. Both And.

    In addition, one could argue that religion is not necessary for the positives. Even now there are countless organizations that ‘do good works’ without any religious affiliation whatsoever. So, has religion ever been necessary to the survival and success(?) of humanity?

  86. Really? Did Jesus treat the adulteress as ‘less than human’ when he convinced all of the men wanting to stone her to drop their stones and go away? Of corse not. He compassionately told her that he would not condemn her and urged her to go ‘and sin no more’. No ostracizing there. And none meant by my earlier post either.

    Clearly, your agenda makes it difficult to directly interpret scripture so as to ‘sanctify’ your political agenda to ‘mainstream’ homosexuality. That may succeed in the political realm, but as I said, man has no right to redefine sin!

  87. Show me a church which has ever kicked someone out for adultery, fornication, murder or theft and you would almost have a point there. But somehow homosexuality is considered so much different. Calling it akin to fornication or adultery is rather inapt when the subject is gay marriage as the couple is looking to engage in marital relations. Talking about the subject solely discussing sin in a general sense is woefully dishonest given the obvious difference in which one sin is treated over all others.

    Clearly, you would rather say, “God says I am right” than seriously consider various interpretations of the scripture. Your agenda seems to involve trying to contort scripture to serve a rather unsavory end and then claim that all Christianity must follow suit. What makes it so hateful is that it is not just directed at gays, but at any Christian sect or believer who chooses not to share your interpretations or actions. So not only is it hate against a given group. Its hate against people who don’t feel like hating.

    “man has no right to redefine sin!”

    You did that yourself. You created and defined a sin from the margins and gaps of scripture. Since Jesus himself was silent on the subject.

    Let me get directly to the point here. Acting badly to others is acting badly to others. Invoking scripture doesn’t suddenly make it moral. A person who looks for socially sanctioned excuses to treat others badly is a dillhole. Using religion as the source of excuse to treat others badly simply makes them religious dillholes.

    Are you looking towards scripture to legitimately help people and demonstrate humanity? No. You are simply looking to express prejudice and are seeking social sanction to do so. You chose to claim it is the only way to read scripture and will attack anyone who disagrees with you as not really being of the same faith. But none of that makes it so.

  88. What makes a society with a 45% divorce rate believe it is even competent to have an opinion on the meaning of the word “marriage” is a very perplexing question indeed, especially when “people who clearly have labored to understand the Bible’s meaning for quite some time” have been overwhelmingly influential in interpreting the relevant Bible passages to justify peoples’ choices in that area. What we’re seeing in the current context is little more than what one might call a “dead cat bounce” from those previous hugely successful labors. As someone who has been rather personally and devastatingly affected by confusion of the word’s meaning, I offer you this thought experiment:

    Jerry Springer hosts a show where a guy has just divorced his wife of 25 years so he could marry his 24-year-old biological daughter. They have been denied a marriage license, and the guy is suing the state they live in. First Jerry brings out the guy and his daughter who openly and unashamedly profess to “love each other” and present themselves as victims of invidious discrimination by a judgmental and bigoted society. When someone in the audience objects that their kids may have birth defects, the guy says, no worries, we’re not having kids. Then Jerry brings out the ex-wife who is a sympathetic figure and obviously completely devastated by what is unfolding. Next, Jerry does his usual thing of goading various factions in the audience. I’m actually not sure where today’s Springer audience’s sympathies would lie, but it’s gotten to the point where I don’t see anything on the horizon providing any Biblical, let alone legal, basis for restraining the guy’s plans and celebrating his “marriage equality rights” which strike me as incredibly destructive. This example has a very personal significance for me. None of the links you cite offer anything whatsoever that would caution against two such people acting on their desire to “love each other.”

  89. No, I’m reading scripture and interpreting the plain language of the text. There’s a big difference between accepting a member of a congregation despite his or her homosexuality and sanctioning that sinful behavior by allowing a homosexual to use the church to ‘sanctify’ his or her sexual relationship. No Christian congregation that I know of would ‘marry’ an adulterer and his mistress. Yet you seem determined to blur the distinction between accepting someone despite their sin (which includes everyone on Earth right now) and sanctioning the sin and conflating it with virtuous or accepted behavior. You don’t seem to lack intelligence, so I have to assume that you’re deliberately misrepresenting my words and dragging in extraneous, unrelated anecdotes to try to rationalize homosexuality as an activity that should be condoned by Christ. I see no evidence of such a position in the Bible. Rather, I again point to Christ’s example from John Chapter 8 in which he refused to condemn the adulteress, but urged her to begin a new free of adultery.

    You seem to have painful experiences where a not-so-Christian congregations did in fact condemn you. That was wrong. But redefining sin as virtue is not the solution.

  90. Mike, he’s a rank atheist who knows nothing about scripture. He stumps for ANY position that encourages gay affirmation in the church without regard to what it is or whether it’s biblically sound. And why not? To him there is no God whose will and purpose one need worry about, so why scruple about honesty in furthering your agenda?

    No atheist opinion should EVER be taken seriously with regard to intra-church decisions.

  91. No you aren’t because there is nothing where Jesus had anything to say about homosexuality. You couldn’t find it. You had to go so many steps removed from the subject to come up with something which might, if you are so disposed to, apply.

    You didn’t take the plain text or you would have presented that way. But you didn’t. There were several layers of interpretation to even get to allegedly addressing the subject. You are coming up with an interpretation and running with it. You are engaging the the typical ploy people use for justifying religious prejudice. Claiming their contorted interpretations are the only ones possible. So therefore disagreement is somehow attacking Christianity, Jesus and God. Its complete and utter nonsense. Merely a rhetorical ploy.

    There are plenty of churches and Christians which do not consider homosexuality a sin, therefore there is nothing being “sanctioned” and therefore no trouble with unions being sanctified. Your church choses not to. But the real hateful part is where you and others attack fellow Christians who disagree with your interpretations of the subject. You can’t leave other Christians to live and believe in the Bible as they see fit. You have to attack their very faith.

    “No Christian congregation that I know of would ‘marry’ an adulterer and his mistress.”

    Something tells me your statement is dishonest in a couple of ways:
    1. You will just declare any church which has done so as “not really Christian”. So you will dodge the issue.
    2. I bet it never happens even in your own congregation.
    3. I can name several adulterers who got married in Christian churches. Many of them public figures.

    “I again point to Christ’s example from John Chapter 8 in which he refused to condemn the adulteress, but urged her to begin a new free of adultery.”
    Homosexuality, especially when the consenting adult couple is seeking marriage, is not adultery. Nor is it fornication. You had to contort and shoehorn in the text to make it a sin on that level.

    “…deliberately misrepresenting my words and dragging in extraneous, unrelated anecdotes to try to rationalize homosexuality as an activity that should be condoned by Christ.”

    Since you can’t show me it is condemned in Jesus’s own words and have to come up with an elaborate, wildly selective, context free interpretation of text to make your claim. That is exactly what I saying. You are entitled to your interpretation. But it is woefully dishonest and immature to think everyone MUST accept it as the only one..

    “You seem to have painful experiences where a not-so-Christian congregations did in fact condemn you.”

    Not one bit. I am not gay. Nor have I had trouble with any given Christian congregation. But you are a patronizing piece of filth for making such a claim. As if the only reason to disagree wit bigoted motives is because of being on the receiving end of it. This way you can dismiss my posts as if I am just expressing unreasoned anger. Well I am not. Tough luck.

  92. Robert Gagnon endlessly recycles old racist arguments, such as the “Curse of Ham.” to use against a different minority group.

  93. So, reading further in Matthew 19, Jesus exalts a sexual minority of men not often thought as the marrying kind, some of whom are born that way.

    So, do you live like a eunuch because of the reign of the heavens? Or, are you just about denying for others what you would allow for yourself, such as a wedding in your church by your minister, legal recognition of your marriage. Automatic legal protections for your spouse and children?

  94. Well, Josephus wasn’t the last word on human sexuality. Procreation isn’t the primary purpose of our sexuality. If it were, women would have an estrus cycle and we wouldn’t be human. They also probably would die shortly after menopause.

    Pair bonding is the primary purpose. Fertile couples very likely will have children (at least if they don’t practice birth control) and yet, infertile individuals and couples are also procreative. They help to create our society. The society we must have to flourish as humans, must have to raise our children and care for our ill and elderly.

  95. “…witchcraft doesn’t exist and never has?”

    I doubt that you could get a witch to agree with you on that point…

    And your purposeful obtuseness was also predictable.

    What is YOUR standard for ethics?

  96. Not to mention that the question was about which MEN can divorce their wives.

    There were more or less two schools of thought on divorce at that time and place. Jesus endorsed the House of Shammai, apparently, if you read further into Matthew 19, to discourage men from marrying at all.

    (The other school’s liberal, for men, view was from the House of Hillel.)

  97. ” There are at least 8 different forms of marriage in the Bible.”

    You’ll all please notice that our friend here doesn’t address the specific thing that I mentioned, and that is that there is only ONE that is positively ordained by God, and that’s the one Jesus refers to in Matt. 19.

    “Jesus didn’t create the world.”

    The Bible says that he did. You lie about God and therefore you blaspheme God.

  98. He was talking about what we would now call, heterosexual marriage. And he apparently endorsed the House of Shamai strict view on divorce to discourage men from marrying at all, because of the reign of the heavens.

    But he didn’t forbid men from marrying, and there is no reason why God, the all powerful, all merciful, all loving, could bring a loving, mutually consenting same-sex couple together. (Not to mention that love and consent to be married were not prerequisites for a marriage in biblical times, and Jesus doesn’t address that in Matthew 19.)

  99. Your statement was still wrong. Especially since you tried to scrub all the context and surrounding text from your scriptural justification.

    Jesus is not in Genesis 1. You are being a weenie.

  100. “…gay marriage was clearly not in existence in Judea of Jesus’s time or contemplated among the Jews.”

    But you just made it even worse for your already untenable position: if it was not in existence in Judea (and that’s for obvious ethical reasons), AND if Jesus knew about it as a future contingency, then how cruel of Him not to at least make mention of it! Why didn’t He–He had the perfect opportunity to salve the consciences of 2 1/2 percent of His audience, and yet He didn’t.

    But of course He didn’t. Homosexual unions are never blessed by God, nor are they anything other than one more version of broken and fallen human sexuality that needs healing–and repenting from.

    If I look at another woman lustfully, I am guilty of broken sexuality, and I must repent. If a man lusts sexually after another man he is guilty of broken sexuality and he must repent.

  101. If that’s the case, then why did the monogenes–the unique God-Man–hold them to account for their unbelief regarding those same texts?

  102. Not to mention that “Gay” is a modern era social construct, constructed by the minority community itself, that mostly dates from the 1970’s. It’s now an ever more interconnected worldwide community, a declaration of a certain sort of integrity which critics don’t understand and fear. Gay is now a worldwide egalitarian movement which is challenging entrenched patriarchal interests and assumptions.

    “Homosexuality,” as label in a sexual taxonomy, dates from the late 1860’s. That social construct was greatly expanded and was mostly was used in the 20th Century. I would say, rather quickly became obsolete.

    Given that terminology’s erroneous, long discredited scientific baggage as a diagnosis for a pathology which didn’t exist, the clinical, now rather pejorative and obsolete word probably should be retired.

  103. “One’s personal opinions, beliefs and culture play a role in what one writes on the page”

    2Tim. 3:16-17: ” All Scripture is breathed out by God (“theopneustos”) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

    That which God intended to reveal was done so in a way that was 100% what God wanted to say and yet employed the personality and style of each human writer.

  104. Tim, you’re talking about your belief, which is fine, but it’s not factual, not proof. What you’ve quoted is the translator’s/interpretor’s take. It’s impossible to use the bible to prove the bible.

    I want to encourage you to be comfortable with what you believe, without insisting it is absolute. It’s not and never will be.

  105. Why didn’t Jesus condemn the future Evangelical slavery apologists of my great grandfathers’ childhood, and the racists and segregationists of my own childhood?

    They claimed that the Bible “clearly” forbade abolishing slavery, and after the word was coined, condemned what they claimed was the unnatural sin of “miscegenation.”

    (Both “miscegenation”and “homosexuality” were coined in the 1860’s, for what that’s worth.)

    Of course now, conservative Evangelicals are claiming that the conservative Evangelicals were wrong about slavery, despite the great number of slavery regulations and condoning “proof texts,” which includes the 10 Commandments, and now are claiming that their own fathers and grandfathers were wrong about segregation and miscegenation, despite using identical claims of inerrant sourced arguments and sneers that to disagree with them, was to disagree with God….that you’re telling God what he should have written.

  106. I read Matthew 19 as about Jesus, by endorsing the House of Shamai teachings on divorce, discouraging men from marrying at all. Especially as he quickly segues into exalting a sexual minority of men, some of whom are born that way, not known as the marrying and procreating kind.

    But today’s conservative Christians seem uninterested in living like a eunuch because of the reign of the heavens.

  107. Jesus didn’t address those other forms of marriage when he endorsed the House of Rabbi Shamai’s strict teachings on divorce, apparently, judging from what the disciples said and Jesus’ exalting of a lifestyle by a sexual minority not thought of as the marrying and procreating kind, to discourage men from marrying at all.

    So, do you live like a eunuch because of the reign of the heavens?

  108. Gay people are male and female, and Jesus didn’t forbid same-sex marriages.

    In fact, Jesus, in Matthew 19, seems to be discouraging men from marrying at all.

    Do you live like a eunuch because of the reign of the heavens?

  109. There couldn’t be any Gay marriages in ancient Judea because “Gay” is minority community and egalitarian movement which came into its own in the 1970’s.

    There were no cars or modern technology in ancient Judea and the Bible, so let’s all live like the Amish.

    Backward projecting modern social constructs and science upon scripture conceals the ancient cultures, meanings and moral lessons in the Bible more than it reveals, I think,

  110. Pay no attention to the very unequal regulations relating to justice in the OT.

  111. He didn’t really exalt anyone. He simply said there were some who could go along with the disciples’ assertion that it is better not to marry at all if you can’t rid yourself of it. Such as castrated men, men without attraction to women, and men wholly devoted to God.

    I’m a married woman, BTW, but celibate for my first 35 years.

  112. Nobody said that Josephus was the “last word on sexuality.” He is, however, a helpful source in understanding how Christ’s generation viewed the Torah’s sexual regulations. Also for understanding the writings of Paul, since they received the exact same legal education and wrote in much the same vein.

    But as for procreation, according to the prophet Malachai it IS the primary purpose behind the institution of marriage as God created it. That is, in a quite literal sense, what “one flesh” means.

  113. Because Christians consider themselves successors in God’s interests to Jews. Jews disagree with such sentiments. Better off not to go there. You will end up with some ridiculous anti Semitic statement on why Jews should accept Jesus. Not worth the effort.

  114. That all may be true. But he might be someone who had a very unpleasant experience with a church that drove him to that position. Also, it never hurts to try to explain the Gospel to any and all that might want to read or hear it. My faith did not come to fruition until much later in life & I don’t want to give up on anyone – especially those so adamantly opposed to Christ.

  115. Ah–the “slavery cared” has been played–okay…

    “Why didn’t Jesus condemn the future Evangelical slavery apologists of my
    great grandfathers’ childhood, and the racists and segregationists of
    my own childhood?”

    But–He did! And, in a passage that also condemns homosexuality, too. They had too much love of money to bother about obeying Jesus.

    1 Tim. 1:9: “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,”

    Yup–we all agree–murder is bad. But there’s more:

    1 Tim 1:10: “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;”

    See, Jesus did exactly what you just claimed that he didn’t do. Through the inspired writing of His apostle Paul, He tells us that “menstealers” are in direct violation of God’s Law. The Law condemns all such persons who refuse to repent, along with those who are “arsenokoitēs,” literally “man-sleeper.” No doubt as to what thaty refers to…

  116. Greg, it’s no accident that the spread of Christianity was primarily driven by women. For until then it had been unheard of in the pagan world that women were actually entitled to the exclusive love, sexual attention and lifelong fidelity of their husbands — who also could not force abortion upon them nor take their children (overwhelmingly females) from them and abandon them for wild animals to eat.

  117. I thank God that I am not commanded to do so.

  118. “Because Christians consider themselves successors in God’s interests to Jews.”

    You didn’t understand my question.

    Jesus Christ is their (Jews) Messiah as well as mine–they will bow the knee one day, either in glorious worship or in base subjection, and so will you.

  119. Curse of HAM was not a “racist” argument because the curse fell not upon him but his youngest son Canaan. It was more a prophecy of an evil future than an actual curse.

  120. “..then how cruel of Him not to at least make mention of it!”

    Indeed, particularly as it was a capital crime in Israel.

  121. This is what I was talking about. Let’s just say for the sake of avoiding offense to the religious faith of others that Jews definitely do not agree with your statement.

  122. He didn’t endorse Shammai for the sake of ulterior motives, Greg. He endorsed it because it more accurately reflected God’s creation design. The OT had already made clear that God hates divorce.

  123. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word wad made flesh and dwelled among us.”

  124. However, that early era when women greatly helped spread Christianity ended, and patriarchal oppression and the old double standard resumed. especially for elite males. You can see that process happening in the younger NT books.

    Proof texts against divorce locked women (and men) into unhappy, even dangerous to them marriages.

    And of course for slave states such as our own, an era which lasted longest in the Evangelical Bible Belt, the marriages of enslaved couples had no legal recognition. Slave masters could split up couples and take their children away from them. A child born of an enslaved woman was always illegitimate, father unknown, even if everyone knew.

    Even after slavery was abolished, interracial couples were forbidden to marry in most states, though there was a slow movement to lift those prohibitions. Nevertheless, those laws, many within state constitutions, remained in the Evangelical Bible Belt until 1967, when the Supreme Court’s ‘Loving v Virginia’ belatedly exposed the unconstitutionality of those laws.

    There is something about the concept of “consenting adults” that apparently was not and is not understood by “conservative” Christians.

  125. I don’t wish to give up on anyone either…the very fact that many atheists can’t seem to stay away from religious forums shows that the Spirit is still calling in some fashion.

    But Christians who are seeking the way of obedience can not afford to heed them, and they have to be called out when they misrepresent scripture and encourage Christ’s “little ones” to sin.

  126. “Ah–the “slavery cared” has been played–okay…” And will continue to be played, ad nauseum. Greg is absolutely obsessed with it.

  127. Old news. Of course both Jesus and Paul said that great deception and apostasy would come after the apostolic age. All the more reason to be endlessly vigilant and committed to the Word made flesh.

  128. Jesus isn’t in that passage. He doesn’t make an appearance in the Bible until much much later. But you know that. 🙂

  129. “and that’s for obvious ethical reasons”

    Which are….? Your supposition and assumption.

    “AND if Jesus knew about it as a future contingency”

    Wow, that is some major conjecture and supposition there. Nothing says personal interpretation outside the text than making a condition that a figure would know about some future event and be expected to address it. Since you had to come up with such a bizarre and unusual take on the text, it is clear you are trying to put something there which just doesn’t exist.

    “He had the perfect opportunity to salve the consciences of 2 1/2 percent of His audience, and yet He didn’t.”

    Same can be said of a lot of material omissions in the Bible when it comes to modern culture and morality. The Bible has some truly terrible things when considered in a modern sensibility. [That alone is a whole other separate discussion which would be too lengthy a diversion here]

    I definitely see you are wedded to the concept of Christianity being anti-gay. But judging by your logical and rhetorical contortions, it is clear that it is not the only one available or the one which one is compelled to accept by a plain reading of the text.

    “If I look at another woman lustfully, I am guilty of broken sexuality, and I must repent. If a man lusts sexually after another man he is guilty of broken sexuality and he must repent.”

    But people looking to get married are not doing that. They are looking at their relationship lovingly with the desire to give it legally binding (and spiritual) obligations Unless you think every couple is doing that prior to being wedded. So obviously such thinking would not apply to gay marriage. No more than it would apply to any marriage. Again, you are interpolating consensual adult gay relationships as some kind of sin relating to ones enumerated in the Biblical text. But it is not the same thing on its own facts.

    In the most polite way possible, I will say that your version of Christianity is yours. But it would be both arrogant and foolish to think it is the only one out there or must be available. Obviously certain Mennonites and a whole host of affirming Christian churches chose not to interpret scripture that way. Judging by how you are trying to justify your position, it is clear nobody really has to. Even people who study Scripture devoutly and live by its words/

  130. According to Jesus Himself He was there even BEFORE Genesis 1.

  131. Lare, no “layers of interpretation” are necessary to support what Mike said. Jesus spoke of “porneia.” Take that term to virtually any Greek lexicon and you will find homosexual acts listed as one of its meanings. It is a broad term which encompasses any sexual behavior prohibited by the Torah. If Jesus had wanted to do an about-face and suddenly separate out same-sex practice for approval He had every opportunity to do so. He didn’t. Nuff said.

    Your insult to Mike was quite reprehensible, though. The man was at least making an attempt to understand the unreasoning vitriol you display.

  132. Paul made no claims that Jesus was dictating those verses.

    For that matter, Paul may not have written the Pastorals and they probably should be attributed to the school of Paul.

    “Men-stealers,” ἀνδραποδιστής, while it can mean slave dealers (who had a sort of shady used car stereotype attached to them), is probably more about men who made slave raids, kidnapped and unjustly coerced people into enslavement, rather than lawfully acquiring them. It’s not likely not condemning slavery itself, and is certainly not ‘clearly’ condemning slavery itself as it took some 1800 years before that reading came into existence. A meaning that took that long to find can’t be said to be a clear

    “…”arsenokoitēs,” literally “man-sleeper.” No doubt as to what thaty refers to…”

    Well, perhaps not, as αρσενοκοίτης is a very rare word and seems to have been compounded from ‘male-bed,’ I’ve been told. Which means that its difficult to discern its meaning from the very few contexts in which it has been used.

    The two words, male and bed in Hebrew are found next to each other in Leviticus 20:13, I’ve read somewhere. If that was what the 1 Timothy writer had in mind, it would locate the word within a context of male temple prostitution, and not in the contexts of ancient Greek inter-generational same-sex relationships which had a mentorship component to them…neither of which apply to today’s mutually consensual adult relationships.

    Oh, here’s a brief discussion of what I read elsewhere.

  133. Since neither Jesus or Paul are thought to have been married and had children at sometime in their lives (we don’t have a full history of them) , it would seem that Christ’s generation had differing views on the applicability of the Torah’s marriage and sexual regulations.

  134. Kind words about eunuchs were few and far between among ancient Jewish teachers. Mentioning the various states of being labeled as a ‘eunuch’ as models for living because of the reign of the heavens, is “exalting” a religiously discriminated against sexual-minority of men in my book.

    However the chapter is read, Jesus is, I think, discouraging men from marrying at all and was giving them reasons and an alternative model for living an unmarried life. But, Jesus isn’t prohibiting men from marrying.

    I sure hope that Jesus was not encouraging men to take up Origen’s knife.

  135. Ironically your own allegedly unambiguous and singular interpretation requires extra layers of conjecture, interpolation and personal spin in order to work. There is a lot required to unpack to get to your conclusion that largely is outside of the text and is assumption.

    If Jesus had something to say on the subject of homosexuality you would not require such an elaborate explanation and interpretation. You are simply filling in gaps to suit personal purposes.

    While I am sure it is the interpretation that works for you, the arrogance, and foolishness involved is claiming it is the only one for everyone. But the idea of accepting Christian belief which differs from the almighty Shawnie cannot be tolerated. 🙂

  136. The more elaborate the explanation of your take on the Bible, the more ridiculous is the claim of a singular possible interpretation. The long and the short of your little tirade is to claim your take on the Bible is the only one out there. All other people are not real Christians to you.

    “Are they all just evil idiots?”

    Considering their goal is to demonize and attack others, it us clear the answer is a resounding YES! Using religion to justify prejudice is an evil goal. One which has left real bodies in its wake.

    The more elaborate your argument gets credible it gets. The more your personal arrogance is on display.

  137. Given that the divorce question came from scribes and Pharisees, the apostles’ response to his answer, his speech on eunuchs and the reign of the heavens, his warning that those who follow him may need to make difficult choices between family and following him;and outside of Matthew 19, his proclaiming the coming Kingdom of God…

    I don’t think that he’s affirming God’s ‘creation design’ as a new creation was irrupting into human reality.

    Not to mention that your teleology has a lot of theological problems. You’ll have to find them out yourself, however, as I’m getting tired.

  138. Of course. So could you. That’s why inerrancy is not. That’s why the immutable word of god (any god) is not. The fact that there is no certainty is one of the leading reasons no one should be trying to force their understanding of their beliefs on anyone else. It’s all about your own interpretation of your own faith. Your Faith.

    Of course in America there’s also the matter of the constitution.

  139. Your (willful and incredulous) ignorance as to how that scripture was applied is duly noted. It was used to justify both slavery and Mormon racist attitudes. But it is,not like a Christian apologist to admit such things.

  140. So that means he is not ignorant, but evil. He knows scripture and choses to use and interpret it in service of malice. Objectively an immoral and despicable stance.

  141. Poor analogy. Very overused and not remotely appropriate. Incest has consent issues making it not equivalent to gay marriage.

  142. If you had anything, your responses would be simple a direct passage addressing homosexuality. Not some wild elaboration on sin, stretching” love god with all of your heart” into “follow the parts of Leviticus which I want to follow”. Talk of general sexual immorality.

    Matthew 19 addresses divorce in its entirety. That is a plain reading and demonstrated context. Even in line with obvious historical background. Your 2 out of 19 line interpretation is this wild complicated elaborate thing. Not at all a simple interpretation. Not at all one which one is compelled to accept.

    The more you spout here, the more you reinforce my point. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. There is no passage for me to cite for a negative. You had to create all that arglebargle to get to your position.

  143. Jesus liked to speak in parables as well. You are seriously arguing this point with me? Give me a break.

    So that means we don’t have to use BC or AD (or BCE and CE) anymore. Since there was no specific time of Jesus’s birth. We can stop celebrating Christmas as well. LMAO

  144. Loosen the rules, not a place to judge whats right and wrong. Absolutely farcical. No wonder anything goes leads to no morals or direction whatsoever, and eventually no church. Even the “couple”? can;t determine their sex since one has on a man’s suit alongside Bo Peep.

  145. As for Mike. Anyone who tries to make that kind of statement in an open conversation would probably get their lights punched out by the other person. it is deliberately insulting. Your defense of such things is not surprising. I already know you are not a nice person.

    Obviously the cause of it was some bad experience in your past with some Christians who disagreed with you. Causing your utter hostility to those who believe differently. That is why you post what you post. See how patronizing and insulting that is 🙂

  146. Well its a perfect example of how:
    1. Evangelicals are inverate revisionists
    2. Christians have a long history of using scriptural interpretation to serve immoral purposes

    So it always comes up when Christians want to say “God hates ____”. Past history being an indicator of current behavior.

    But a Christian apologist is unlikely to objectively acknowledge such things. Seeking instead to give credit for all of society’s achievements to their faith and all of its negatives to “not real Christians” or “poor scholarship” or whatever excuse pops in their head.

  147. Which explains whey the Curse of Canaan (if you insist) was extensively used by proslavery apologists and segregationists claiming that the “curse” fell upon all descendants of Ham and Canaan. ..and why ABeka textbooks really want their students to think that Africa was settled by those descendants.

    And where is the justice in cursing a son and his descendants for the actions of his father?

    The racists were implying that Black people had inherited the sin of their mythological ancestor and thus were (and that those of European descent had inherited a blessing).

    Gagnon seem to be similarly implying that “homosexuals” have inherited the sin and the curse of Ham’s alleged “homosexual incest” with his drunken father.

    (Not that I would hold it against Noah for wanting to get stinking drunk after God had committed worldwide genocide and had utterly destroyed everything that Noah had known. Talk about survivor guilt. Fortunately for God’s reputation, it’s a survival story and not an historical event. )

    Racists condemned “miscegenation” on the dubious foundation that the “races” were too “different.” So God (Acts 17:26 and laws about mixing “kinds”) had separated “the races” to keep them from “unnatural like incest” relationships.

    Never mind that “race” is a much abused modern-era social construct with a lot of long discredited scientific baggage….cobbled together with artificially selected characteristics, real and imagined. The real characteristics being individually inherited and are far from being ‘immutable’ over a few generations.

    Gagnon condemns’ “homosexuality” on the dubious foundation of being about individuals who are too much the same being involved in an “unnatural” relationship, like incest. So, God had forbid a fading, much abused modern-era social construct with a lot of long discredited scientific baggage, “homosexuality. ”

    Never mind that we’re talking about unrelated, mutually and fully consenting adults, which isn’t much like incest at all. But then, “conservatives” seem to have some historical disability in understanding the concept of “consenting adults.”

  148. Look at the photograph. These are people with troubled hearts.

  149. Some pagan societies were more egalitarian minded when it came to the sexes than with the societies of the Bible. That really was a very sexist area of the world, though it wasn’t unique.

  150. Um, the lexicon, Lare. Nothing complicated about it.

    And btw, thank you for the compliment. I’d be rather worried about chronically rude people telling me how great I am. ?

  151. Find out something about the subject and the expert before opening your mouth and embarrassing yourself, Lare.

  152. I appreciate what you are saying, and that everyone should be treated with respect and love. But God set the standard of one man one woman for a reason. To keep us safe and healthy. To keep our families safe and healthy. Sodomy is an unhealthy behavior. Look at the woman in the picture. Is that someone who is emotionally healthy? What does it do to children to not have a healthy balance of the temperments of a man and a woman in the home? I don’t think these are terrible people. But God put rules in place for our own well being, just as our parents set rules for us for our own well being. They wanted the best for us. Just as God wants the best for us. God is not punitive. He does this for our best good. As a church, we should strive to help people reach those goals, not set up shells where people can hide from the work they need to do on their lives. And that includes our growing indifference toward divorce.

  153. Who cares how it was used? It was totally unscriptural, unsupported fabrication. Much like all the arguments for affirming ssm in the church.

  154. As a counselor, I think you are misinterpreting “curse”. The sad fact is, behavior is passed from parent to child, and the “curse” of a behavior follows us through generations. This is not an act of God but rather a consequence of man’s choices.

  155. And also as a counselor, I will tell you that marrying people who are different is making a difficult path even more difficult. It is very difficult to make a marriage work. Adding in complexities of race, culture, social status makes this union ever more challenging. The reality is the closer a couple is in social status, culture, age, and income, the more likely their marriage is to survive. You come at these issues as if the Bible is being punitive or repressive. When your mother told you not to stick a fork in the electrical outlet, was she being repressive and punitive? These rules are meant to help us achieve the best of life, not to give us a hard time.

  156. Agreed. But instead of focusing on what the Bible says about homosexuality, how about focusing on what it says about marriage, and what marriage was designed for. It was designed for the protection of children and their mother. Not for the sexual gratification of two people. Also, the Bible repeatedly uses the metaphor of the bride and the bridegroom as a symbol of Christ and the Church. I think that’s pretty significant. Our relationship with Christ and the faithful intimate monogamous relationship of one man and one woman.

  157. Yes, I am. My great grandfather was a Union veteran who served in Sherman’s March to the Sea to rid America of the slave holding plutocracy which had split the country.

    The arguments that the Evangelical proslavery apologists developed were recycled by the founders and defenders of the terrorist created and sustained Jim Crow regime.

    The white Evangelical theology and its conceits and ways of defaming “the other,” and legitimating unearned privilege and power, was not discarded, however.

    Lightly whitewashed, it’s been once again recycled, with the came ways of defaming “the other, ” a different “other,” and with the same conceits and tactics to legitimate a state of unearned privilege and power.

    Fred Clark of the “Slacktivist” has written about the 21st Century recycling of “white theology.”

    So, just why are we to respect people who talk like the proslavery apologists and segregationists, defame a minority group in the same way, and use the same tactics, theological and political, to perpetuate injustice against yet more law abiding people who are demanding their equal place under the sun.

  158. What if this was about adultery? If a man says, I just can’t help myself, I love this woman, I’m dumping my wife so I can be with this woman? Marriage isn’t about feelings. It’s about a commitment to build a home for the safety and security of a family. It is Hollywood that has made people believe it’s supposed to be a sexual emotional party between two people and their labidos.

  159. No. It is actually a good example. If you use the concept of emotional feelings to define marriage, there is no end to what sort of combinations that would entail.

  160. Actually, I do vehemently oppose divorce. And I think it is far more destructive than gay relationships, since it affects far more children. And to say it is about “damnation” is hyperbole. There is a difference between opposing the church sanctioning sodomy, which is pretty clear in the scriptures that sodomy is condemned, and “damning” people who are involved in it. I can oppose the use of drugs, alcohol, adultery, theft, gluttony, or any other sin as defined in scripture without “damning” people who are involed in those behaviors. You can be against a behavior. That doesn’t mean you’re our tar and feathering the people who engage in those behaviors.

  161. Except that is not the case. Marriage laws (and in most case marriage customs) will ban certain unions regardless of such emotional feelings if there are rational and secular purposes behind it. Marriage in this day and age requires consenting adults (whereas Biblical versions did not). An incestuous relationship has some issues concerning actual consent (especially with your example of parent and child). Plus the whole “two headed babies” argument against such close cosanguinity. It is an overused and inappropriate analogy. This is why the “slippery slope” argument was pretty much laughed out of court when gay marriage bans were before the Supreme Court.

  162. Molecules existed before man observed them. DNA strands have guided the formation of life for centuries without man having any awareness of their existence. God does not have to be proven to be real. He is real.

  163. Jesus didn’t say all marriages must be between a man and a woman.

    The unrolling of time has revealed new ways and opportunities to practice the Golden Rule…even to the church.

    Jesus didn’t proclaim the coming of the Church. Jesus didn’t suffer and die on the cross for the Church. The Resurrection wasn’t for the Church. Literal interpretation of the Bible, which seems to be more about an interpretation that privileges some at the expense of everyone else, isn’t the Church. The Sabbath wasn’t created for the Church.

    The Church doesn’t need to be unchanging. The Church, as near as I can tell, exists to help mankind’s journey in monotheism. Mankind doesn’t exist for the Church. The Church doesn’t have to exist, especially when it exists to perpetuate injustice.

  164. Adultery is not a crime. Your argument was primarily used to promote polygamy. A very Biblical form of marriage. But in a modern age, we are left with binary marriage. So adultery is considered tasteless and not a good thing. Even a sin. But as sins go, conservative churches treat it far more lightly than homosexuality. That is despite the explicit, plain text commandment against such things. So obviously not all sins are treated equally or given emphasis depending on plain textual reading.

  165. You know. People can argue about this all day long. But bottom line, sometimes you just have to obey God. You just have to trust God. Just like you obeyed your parents when what they were telling you to do or not do didn’t seem to make sense. We have to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and obey Him. Sometimes its really really hard. Sometimes it’s really really hard to stay in that marriage when you feel incredibly alone and sad, and sometimes it’s really really hard to keep being submissive to that boss who is on your back day in and day out..And sometimes it’s really really hard to be kind to that woman next door who lets her dog poop in your yard. But you just do it because God told you to do it. That’s what faith is all about. If we keep changing the rules, then we don’t believe and we don’t have faith.

  166. Adultery is not a crime but is a sin, it is explicitly referred to in the Bible. As in plain unambiguous text saying it is forbidden. “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. No such clear ban exists for homosexuality. You have to read between many lines to get to that point. Besides, your argument is one frequently used to justify polygamy. A form of marriage with a very Biblical sanction. Of course implicit in your argument is that gay people aren’t really trying to build a home and family for themselves when they desire to get married. That merely reflects a prejudiced and blinkered view of them.

  167. Go back and re-read, Lare. You’re getting zeroes on reading comprehension again.

    And if you want to see something “elaborate” and “ridiculous,” try actually reading some of Boswell’s story-spinning and excuse-making in “Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality” (no movie yet, sorry).

  168. “Who cares how it was used?”

    Thank you for demonstrating how utterly useless an appeal to scripture and your religious belief really is then.

    If you were not concerned with how scripture is used, you would not have made such a claim of singular interpretation. You would not care how others use it. You would not have made so many posts. You obviously use scripture to claim divine agreement with your point of view. As a way to avoid criticism on a position and to invoke authority which is not meant to be questioned.

    Oh well. I guess all your posts were for nothing if that is how you really felt. It was all just a waste of time to engage you here.

  169. He wasn’t exalting them as “models for living”, though. He was simply saying they existed and it was OK for them to pass on marriage.

  170. Well, of course it’s meaningless to YOU, Lare. However, it’s part and parcel of Christian theology, and it’s quite literally all over the gospels. Don’t you know that?

    Just one more example of why atheists are not to be taken seriously when weighing in on scripture or doctrine.

  171. So…you think that justice and equality under the law for even minority populations is a dreadful leftest political agenda? Recycling 1950’s segregationist conspiracy theories, are we?

    You defame a minority population that already carries a heavy burden of unjust minority stress, and then use the consequences of minority stress to justify your demand that they be silent and invisible, and thereby complicit in their own oppression? How white of you.

    “Thousands of confused, tormented members of the LGBT community…”

    Not “thousands.” Worldwide, we’re talking a couple of hundred million, probably more, in an evermore networked community which is leading a worldwide egalitarian movement. Patriarchal minded institutions usually hate egalitarian movements. Unearned privilege and power that exists at the expense of everyone else, is just such precious, Jesus approved, Bible mandated thing, isn’t it?

    “Gay” is more than a community and an egalitarian movement.Gay is also a declaration of personal integrity. Authoritarian types just hate that in a minority person.

    Gay people aren’t confused about their gender relationship orientation….and it’s you who obviously want them to be “tormented.”

    The LGBT community is probably larger than 2% of the population, probably because of the “B” in LGBT. Lots of people inhabit the middle regions of the sexual continuum. They may be Gay-ish or straight-ish, but they can fall in love with the person regardless of the sex of that person. They can’t take heterosexual privilege for granted.

    Worldwide, if the LGBT community was a nation, it would be about the size of the US…the third most populous nation. (The first two are really, really populous)

    So, as the US has about four percent of the world’s population, would you say that we can be dismissed and disregarded by the rest of the world as we’re just a “disruptive” tiny minority of the world’s population?

    Not to mention that my state doesn’t even have 2% of America’s population, yet we think that we have something to contribute to our nation…which we have. And so have LGBT people…despite the best efforts of haters.

  172. Gregory, this is all too silly for words. Canaan was not an ancestor of any black Africans; the Canaanites inhabited the area of the middle east later occupied by Israel. And as I already stated, the curse on Canaan was more of a prophecy than a curse — a foreseeing of future evils for which God would later reject these peoples (homosexual practice being among them according to Leviticus 20).

    There is no more scriptural support for segregation or for outlawing miscegenation than there is for affirming ssm. Both are purely social snafus that people have stretched and mangled scripture to justify.

  173. Misogyny was very nearly universal in pre-Christian human civilization, Greg. The pagan world of the Bible was less misogynist than most, not more.

  174. You don’t have to “respect” me at all, pal. Completely immaterial to me. Nor do you have to “respect” scripture — repudiate it completely for all I care — in fact, in your case it is the intellectually honest thing to do. The one thing you may NOT do is rewrite it.

  175. Eating shellfish is a sin. Killing your daughter by stoning is recommended if she proves not to be a virgin. Burning witches is required.

    The Bible is a book of slavery, murder, polygamy, rape, genocide and human sacrifice. It has moral authority on few topics and where it has something useful to say, it’s either plagiarized or ignored. “love the neighbor as thyself?” Nothing but the golden rule, which is found in a dozen other cultures and ignored by every Christian I have ever met. Money? “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    The self-blindness is breathtaking.

  176. Learn to read, Lare. It is the FABRICATED ARGUMENT whose use I do not care about. It had as little to do with scripture as affirming gay marriage does.

    And as for criticism…I do not desire in the least to avoid it and you ought to know that by now. Bring it! Problem is, you can’t seem to bring it — other than the usual meaningless insults and accusations of “dishonesty” that do not count.

  177. Atheist claims Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.

    Jesus said “porneia” defiles us (Matt.15).

    What is “porneia?” Open Greek lexicon:

    Fornication, prostitution, incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality.

    Cross-references: Leviticus 18 and 20

    What is “wild” here?

    Answer: Atheists trying to interpret scripture.

  178. Christians who still maintain the view of human sexuality affirmed by the OT, NT, the Talmud, the Midrash, all of the church fathers, and the church itself for two thousand years up until Boswell published a book in 1980 are “revisionists?”

    OK, whatever. LarryWorld sure must be some topsy-turvy place.

  179. “Anyone who tries to make that kind of statement in an open conversation would probably get their lights punched out by the other person. ” Not in any setting I’m familiar with. But of course it has been my good fortune not to have to live among the sort of people who punch each other.

    “See how patronizing and insulting that is :)” LOL! It’s nothing compared to the bigotry and bile that I have seen come from you. But in any case, it hardly makes me want to punch you or call you a “piece of filth.”

  180. Jews of the early Christian era certainly conceived of gay marriages. They wrote of them existing both in pre-Noahide times and in Canaan. Also Nero purported to marry another man so it wasn’t an entirely alien concept in pagan culture either.

  181. That is not what the “conservative” Evangelicals of my youth said.

    Why should I believe you and not them? Or…to believe either of you as you’re both wrong. And. wrong for the same reasons and motivations, motivated to preserve unearned privilege and power at the expense of “those people.”

    Here you are, stretching and mangling scripture to justify your Lev. 20 death threat and demand for a worldwide genocide of a minority community of about 300 million people….just as they stretched and mangled scripture to justify white supremacy and perpetuating slavery.

    How do you even sleep at night?

    By the way, some of the Canaanites did indeed migrate to Africa. Hannibal of Carthage in North Africa was Phoenician Canaanite royalty (I was just reading about him the other day.)

    So while the proslavery Evangelicals didn’t make that the “cursed” Canaanites are Africans thing up, they were using a decontextualized, stretched and mangled half-truths to justify and perpetuate their state of unearned privilege and power at the expense of others.

    Just as you’re doing. Is heterosexual privilege at the expense of everyone else really so precious to you that you would stretch and mangle your soul and quote a stretched and mangled Leviticus 20 death threat against your law abiding minority neighbor?

  182. The Bible says nothing about a much abused, modern-era social construct (with a lot of long discredited scientific baggage) that was a Victorian era attempt as a sexual taxonomy…and not used much until the 20th Century.

    When You backward project modern era social constructs, especially rather dubious and much abused ones like “race” and “homosexuality,” upon scripture, you’re blinding yourself to even trying to understand what the authors were trying to say to their audiences.

    Their is no “Epistle to the 21st Century Americans.” (Though if there were to be one, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” would be it.)

  183. Leviticus 20 is not a death threat to your “minority community” any more than it is to any of us. If the Torah were followed to the letter it would condemn every single one of us to death for one thing or another. That is why Jesus paid that penalty for all of us. He didn’t do that, however, so that we could continue wallowing in our mess but so that we could turn from it and learn to walk as sons and daughters of God without being paralyzed with fear of making a misstep.

    Interesting about Carthage … now the historical record of Carthaginian mothers throwing their infants into the fire to placate their gods makes much more sense. In any case, Carthage was wiped out by Rome so the curse of Canaan is still irrelevant to any issue of race.

    Why should you believe me? Believe whatever you wish…that’s completely up to you. But you can not rewrite scripture. Simply repudiate it openly and honestly…in which case there’s little point in you weighing in on decisions made within the Mennonite faith.

  184. Right…and using the very same accusation that the proslavery activists of my great grandfather’s day leveled against the radical Abolitionists, that they were rewriting scripture, is suppose to make me respect your self privileging whitewashed white theology.

  185. “You have to read between many lines to get to that point.” No you don’t. You only have to read one line: “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman.” One would have to have either a very low IQ or a heart bent on rebellion to find that ambiguous.

  186. You don’t have to “respect” me at all, I repeat. If you care at all about what God requires of us then check it out for yourself and then present a case for examination — something no one here has managed to do yet.

  187. I think that one reason for that sad state of affairs is that people before the modern era didn’t know about the human ovum. If you think that life begins at the moment of ejaculation, that the woman’s womb merely solidifies and molds the unformed life it received from the life creating man, you can understand how women would be relegated to subservient servant, helpmate status to her husband and in society.

    Unlike the people of biblical times, we know that life began eons ago, that life is continued, not created anew, in the processes of reproduction, and that half genetic inheritance is from the child’s mother…it’s hardly surprising that divorce would become easier to acquire, that mothers would get custody of their children more often than fathers (not true when a man divorced a wife in biblical days), that the status of women in both the home and society has become elevated, and that a woman would be a major party nominee for President.

    I’ve always thought that the monotheistic religions should come up with a’ theology of the ovum,’ sort of like a modern-age attempt inspired by Paul’s “gospel of the foreskin.” (Which theologian coined that phrase?)

  188. Greg, Genesis spoke of the “seed of the woman” long before the rest of the world knew there was such a thing. Gen.3:15

  189. I disagree. Given the contexts within Matthew 19, I think he was putting them forward as a model for men to emulate because the reign of the heavens made marriage an encumbrance in journeying to the Kingdom of God.

    If you were married, as Matthew 19 points out, you might have to choose between your family or following Jesus to where he dwelt…a state of blessedness.

    Blessed are the children.

  190. I’m not a counselor, though I have a degree in Sociology.

    There are many kinds of compatibility, and they’re not all based upon social status, culture, age, and income (you forgot education, religious beliefs and probably a lot of other qualifiers.)

    The reality is…that social reality can be changed. That America is a very diverse nation and that familiarity with others, as the racists feared so much, brings love. Some privileged people don’t especially like their what feels to them to be shallow culture, their “race” as caste, their privileged and exclusive social status etc. Some people are happily challenged by social differences to understand deeper, to love deeper, to become a deeper person.

    Sure people with the similarities which we listed my have an easier time dealing with the bumps in relationships, but…councilors in a very diverse nation should know how to deal with their clients’ differences and come up with compensating tactics and advice.

  191. True, the gospel often caused family members to turn against each other, and in such a case the first loyalty was to Christ.

  192. “Jesus didn’t say all marriages must be between a man and a woman.” He DID say that the male-female duality that God created is the reason for marriage.

    “Jesus didn’t suffer and die on the cross for the Church.” Oh? “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.” Eph.5:26.

    “The Church doesn’t have to exist.” But it always will, as Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

  193. It’s not intended as an analogy. Calling it a “poor” one is simply a distraction. If you think it’s an analogy, you’ve simply not been paying attention. Consent is a red herring, which is why I purposely portrayed the two parties in my example as adults by anyone’s definition.

  194. Mennonites have never applied mormon scripture to anything, as to slavery I have no idea at exactly what point before 1688 they and American Quakers decided slavery was against scripture.

  195. “Of course. So could you.”

    So you admit that what you’re saying could be nonsense? And you KNOW it?

    “…there’s also the matter of the constitution.”

    And there’s your real authority–autonomous man.

  196. I agree with you. I may have stated it differently, but I agree in principle.

  197. You’re reading and judging selectively to make your feeble points here.. YOu missed the fact that I was making the case for Christians embracing the LBGT folks with love. A higher percentage of LBGT youth commit suicide, alongside those who perform brilliantly above their peers. (Go do your research.).

    All the generic arguments you offer above can apply equally to pedophiles. Those poor misunderstood, oppressed people are just waiting to become your next cause celebre. Let’s define the sum-total of spirituality in sexual terms, and hasten the demise of politically-driven mainstream churches, my original point. Those churches that embrace the way of Christ are steadily growing, not withering away (see Assemblies of God.)

  198. Very true. No arguments there. Anabaptist sects such as the Mennonites and Quakers have a long history of being at odds with a odds with mainstream Christian churches. Which is why they were such a persecuted group until making their way to America. When people like Shawnie talk of Christianity they never acknowledge sects like them or their beliefs except to take credit for their good works.

    I have a deep admiration for those sects for their beliefs in separation of church and state, and notions of social justice. I am so glad you are trying to bring the discussion back to the topic at hand.

    What is interesting about these sects are even though they are divided over gay marriage as a sacrament, they uniformly oppose legal bans on gay marriage and discrimination based on religious beliefs.

  199. You are not “embracing the LGBT folks with love” with that hostile attitude. You are still pressuring them to “pray it away.” The fact that you put the notion of pedophiles into your attack against me just shows that you get your limited information from the tainted likes of the Family Research Council and the World Congress of Families, both of whom have been identified as anti-LGBT hate groups. They try to falsely tie homosexuality to pedophilia as one of their numerous hateful scare tactics. Your reference above is just more of the same disinformation.
    I don’t dismiss anyone. The organized persecution of LGBT by evangelical church groups is an abomination that cannot be excused. It has to be opposed, along with their ongoing efforts to subvert the meaning of “freedom of religion” into the alleged right to persecute in God’s name. Your efforts are what gives Christianity a bad name.

  200. Mentioning incest when the subject of gay marriage is not relevant and completely useless. It derails the discussion as to why such mentions are inappropriate and avoids the topic at hand. Slippery slope arguments are ridiculous in of themselves when there are clear distinctions between the act and what it allegedly leads to. Your argument was silly when gay marriage was before the courts they are even worse now that it is legal. Since gay marriage has existed in many places for some time, treating it in such a silly hypothetical is intellectually dishonest. It is a reality. If you can’t cite real effects of it by now, you are just blowing smoke.

  201. Actually, you have shown very clearly that you do not understand the Bible. Shellfish is not a sin. No one kills anyone – for starts.
    Your hatred is lack of knowledge Deruman. blessings

  202. Except for the part where you only selectively consider the importance of Leviticus. The excuses always come out when you explain why you follow “all of the law” but not the parts you find inconvenient. Then things get silly.

  203. Whatever. Your opinion on what is civil and appropriate and what isn’t doesn’t mean a thing to me.

  204. That is actually your problem. Borne entirely from the delusion that you speak for Christendom and all its various sects. That your contorted elaborate explanation why gays should be treated as less than people is nothing but Gods will and there is no acceptable criticism of such views allowed. When other sects differ in belief, you label them not real Christians. Your malice is so great you attack people who chose not to hate.

  205. Only if you are under the delusion that there has only been one way to interpret scripture. 500+ sects of Christianity are proof positive that such ideas are not rooted in reality
    I know you feel that you are the only one true spokesperson for Jesus, and I am not going to bother to talk you out of it. So I am sure that argument works for you. I don’t see how others are compelled to follow it.

  206. We’ve already gone over the Jerusalem Council, Larry. Think back. Think hard.

  207. When you reject biblical authority you inevitably become unmoored from Christ and fall away.

  208. There are all kinds of different opinions on scriptural matters, but few of them are crucial to the faith. Transubstantiation is a good example…much argument has gone on about it over the centuries, but in my view it matters little whether one considers Jesus’ words about His body and blood at the last supper to be literal or metaphorical. The concept underlying both is substitutionary atonement and THAT is what is essential to the faith.

    However, when we get into practices which scripture indicates that whole nations have been judged and rejected for…we can’t afford to simply give a limp shrug and bleat “well, everyone sees it differently…” We have to seriously get into the word OURSELVES and search out truth with a heart that desires not our will but God’s, with full awareness that Jesus warned us that many false prophets and evildoers would come along calling Him “Lord” and leading others astray. And we have to do this knowing that, as long as we have full access to the word and ample opportunity to search it, when we come before Christ we will not be able to point to anyone else and say “well THEY said this was all right.”

    This all probably goes in one atheist ear and out the other, of course, but in any case THIS is why the constant pointing to the “500+ sects” or what-have-you is no argument AT ALL.

  209. Only in your mind are any of these issues ever resolved. The argument is elaborate, contorted and almost entirely Gish gallop nonsense. As I said, things get silly.

  210. “…your contorted elaborate explanation why gays should be treated as less than people.” Who said they should be treated as less than people? They’re just like all people…sinners, responsible for their choices, loved by God, died for by Christ, in need of repentance and healing and restoration. Like all of us.

    “Your malice is so great you attack people who chose not to hate.” I won’t attack anyone who approves and encourages immorality. I will, however, separate from them, and when the question arises I will demonstrate the falsity of their positions, as per scripture: “Test and prove what pleases the Lord. Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Eph.5:11

  211. IOW, Larry doesn’t remember the Jerusalem Council. No surprise there. You’re not here to learn anything, after all, only to whine.

  212. I am making a concerted effort not to go down the rabbit holes of your trains of thought. It is too much of a waste of time.
    I will pray for you. Bless your heart.
    http://www.urbandictionary dot com/define.php?term=Bless%20your%20heart
    http://www.patheos dot com/blogs/wwjtd/2011/11/ill-pray-for-you/

  213. Some miscreant decided to take scriptural interpretations about gays like yours seriously last night and shot up an LGBT nightclub in North Florida. 50 dead, 53 injured. In practice religious beliefs which promote hate and discrimination leave the world a much worse place.

    After hearing that on the news, I have zero patience right now with your excuses why God demands you hate certain classes of people. I have no desire to read whatever garbage you feel like spewing right now.

  214. Leviticus ll:12: “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.”

    It says a lot of other things:

    Leviticus 19:19: “Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread.”
    I trust you have no cotton poly shirts. Better go check.

    Leviticus 23:30: “I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day.” [the day of atonement.]
    Where were you on Wednesday, September 23 last year?

    Next you’ll tell me that Old Testament law no longer matters. But then explain Matthew 5:18 to me.

    While you’re at it, consider that Jesus never said a single word about homosexuality, but he said that you should give away all your belongings to the poor. Have you done his yet?

  215. Ok……Jesus came to fulfill the law and He did with His sacrifice of Himself. He died so others don’t have to – should they renounce their sin and begin a personal relationship with Him.
    You are quoting things that still pertain to the Jews but not to Christians.

    Last year, I was at a celebration that day.
    The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
    Jesus opened up what was proper to eat in the book of Acts. He said everything was ok.
    The Old Testament law does matter. Some is civil – for the Jews….some is ceremonial – for the Jews, and some is moral – for Christians and Jews as Jesus brought it into the New Testament.

    Matthew 15:19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.20 These are what defile you.

    The event you are referencing comes from a young man who wanted to follow Jesus but loved his possessions too much. That is why Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle.

  216. Expect many more such disasters in the near future as the proliferation of ISIS proceeds.

  217. I hear a lot of rationalization. It’s a well-honed skill, re-re-re-interpreting an unchanging, ancient scripture to fit our present-day needs. Slavery comes to mind, as does witch burning and death for working on the sabbath.

    I often hear Christians saying homosexuality is “an abomination,” quoting from the KJV version of Leviticus. But I never hear Christians saying shrimp are an abomination, though they are referenced in the same book in the same terms. I wonder how Christianity would change if you removed one thing from it: its preoccupation with other people’s sex lives.

    Jesus says nothing in Acts pertaining to food. Paul says “eat and drink whatever they give you” in Timothy, and paraphrases Jesus elsewhere in that verse. But that’s Paul, not Jesus, speaking about food. Paul said a lot of things, including approval of slavery. I presume Jesus did not share them all.

  218. Even more as people think that any act against gays is perfectly fine and moral if claim God sanctions it. You are part of the problem, not an alternative. I have zero desire to discuss anything with you.

  219. Actually, I don’t know of a translation that doesn’t call homosexuality an abomination, Deru.
    No rationalization – just the truth.
    I hear a lot of anger from you. Perhaps if they stopped telling us their sex life, we would have less interest in it, but as it is, their tellling us, tells us that they need Jesus.

    Acts 10:9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour[b] to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

    Actually, Paul said to be a slave to no man.
    Blessings Deru.

  220. Most do not attribute those words to Jesus, at least not in the red-letter sense. I guess you can rationalize that any lordly voice in the Bible is Jesus in that case.

    Paul also said slaves should obey their masters. That’s the problem: you can, and do, pick and choose which verse according to the point you’re trying to make.

  221. “So you admit that what you’re saying could be nonsense? And you KNOW it?”

  222. Any ecclesial group that regularizes same-sex relationship has left truth behind. The challenge with any non-Catholic church is that everyone is their own “pope” and can personally determine the meaning of a Bible passage – just as “skyfaller” below writes. The Catholic Church isn’t perfect – that is clear (I’m a part of it!) – but the Holy Spirit is perfect and will continue to guide the pope and the magesterium. Truth in the Catholic Church will always be truth.

  223. Ephesians was probably written by someone in the school of Paul between AD 80 and 100, well after the Cross. The main theme seems to be one of creating soteriological unity in a multicultural church.

    The verse is also sexist, casting a husband into the role of a wife’s Messiah.

  224. “Seed of the woman” is generally read as “offspring,” or to some Christians, the “seed of the woman” is understood as Jesus.

    Is the mammalian egg generally though of as a “seed?”

  225. Again, that’s not what the Bible believing, doctrine of inerrancy Bible Belt Evangelicals of my youth were claiming… and in the same way as your claims. Why should I believe either of you when you talk in the same way?

    Not to mention that the proslavery Evangelicals of my great grandfathers’ day also claimed that the Abolitionists were rewriting the Bible.

    The Mennonites can do as they wish with their denomination, but that doesn’t mean that the reactionary Mennonites are above criticism.

  226. It’s thought of as a germ cell, of course.

    In any case, it’s the same word that is always used to describe the “seed” or “offspring” of a man.

  227. Greg, I don’t CARE what they were saying. It’s apples and oranges. I don’t care if you believe me, either. You really shouldn’t be “believing” anyone, anyway. You have access to both scripture and historical background material. It’s your responsibility to search them out honestly.

  228. I would like to see your sources, otherwise, I think that you’re backward projecting a current social construct to justify a minority population. How white of you (some Evangelical racists claimed that it was “miscegenation” that motivated God to create Noah’s flood).

    Egalitarian, mutually consenting marriages, same sex or other sex, were extremely rare, to say the least. Nero’s purported marriage to a man would hardly be similar to today’s relationships.

    The man would probably have been more of a victim to the whims of an infamous despot, than an actual spouse by the egalitarian marital ideals of the Gay community.

  229. Carthage wasn’t the only North African Phoenician colony. They had created several colonies. The remaining ones were incorporated into the Roman Empire.

    By the way, I think that the Moloch of the Old Testament was a Jewish version of Ba-al, which was a Semitic fertility god.

    Moloch does not make people Gay.

    Your favorite death threat (and your abuse of the verse to attack a minority community makes it so) has nothing to do with today’s understandings of sexuality, and everything to do with ancient fertility cult rituals.

  230. I see…so is adultery ok as long as it is not connected with fertility cult rituals? Incest? Bestiality? Because these are ALL grouped together in scripture.

  231. Please don’t pretend you love me, when you, who don’t know me or anything about me, can call my marriage “destructive.”, or compare my life to people who steal, who betray by adultery, or an addiction. It’s a dead giveaway as to what you feel about my marriage and my life. It would also come as a surprise to our families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who celebrate our love, lives, and marriage, and who look to us for what a stable, productive couple should be.

    My life isn’t a behavior that you can feel free to condemn, without condemning me as well. Your contempt is palpable, whether you want to call it “sincere religious belief”, or admit it for what it so clearly is.

  232. I do know how. But I don’t need to. I need only point out the contempt you always demonstrate, or that Bobby spews, for thinking people to see it for what it is.

  233. Bombast is very cheap, Ben. As much as you’ve talked here, if you had an actual case to make you would have made it long ago and many times over. So would Carrot. So would Larry. Despite repeated invitations. Crickets. Don’t think the implication doesn’t come through, loudly and clearly.

  234. Links are never a rebuttal unless they’re requested. Few of them are ever read.

  235. If you have to have specific Bible verses that condemns cheating on your spouse, and sexual abusing relatives and animals in order to keep you from doing them… you really can’t claim to be a moral person, can you?

    Fertility cult rituals symbolically (I hope) reenacted the complex myths of the god and his consort. As Ba-al’s consort Asherah could be his mother or his wife or both at the same time…all that uncovering of related women in Lev. 19 and 20 may not have involved actual sexual intercourse even if the rituals mimicked the sex lives of the gods which creates a fertile world.

  236. I have spent much of my adult life studying the anti-abolitionist and anti-Civil Rights Movement activists and how they used the Bible, which is in the same way that you are using the Bible.

  237. Bombast is cheap? So is contempt.

    I’ve made the rebuttals, as have others. you have dismissed them as “more Boswell.”

    Sorry, I don’t wish to play.

    Until next time.

  238. When God speaks clearly, AS GOD, and not through a 2000 year old imperfect book, and not through his human mouthpieces, I’ll trust God.

    Until then, I don’t hear God talking. I hear only YOU talking.

  239. Well, “seed” was a euphemism for sperm…but then, the ancients seem to have believed that sperm was an “unformed child.” See Psalm 139.

    They didn’t know about the sperm cell or egg. You have to have scientific instruments to see those things. Our most basic understanding of conception, sperm cell fertilizing the egg, wasn’t confirmed until the 1850’s, if memory serves. (there were some who thought that seminal fluid was the fertilizing agent.)

    Of course we now know that there is never a time when we were an “unformed child.” We always had some form, even if it was a microscopic ball shape.

  240. ?

    There is nothing in Psalm 139 indicating that the “unformed child” or whatever one calls it is a sperm alone.

    And if a seed is a euphemism for sperm alone then it was odd for the author of Genesis to refer to it as a woman’s.

    What exactly is your point here? How does it relate to this thread?

  241. NOBODY has made a rebuttal. And after all this time I don’t expect it to happen.

    I wouldn’t want to play either…if I were you.

  242. Did I write “alone?” And given the vagaries of translating one language into another, I may be wrong that it was a euphemism, but more of an anachronism.

  243. Yeah, you let the wimmins think they are fully human and children of God, and the next thing it’s the negroes, and before ya know it, everyone thinks they are.

    (The sarcasm is not directed at you).

  244. Because that would be inconvenient and require a sacrifice?

  245. Historical trivia: Blacks at least black men had the right to vote before women.

  246. You’d have done better to have spent all that time studying the actual Bible rather than the 19th century equivalents of John Boswell.

  247. Evidently the ancient Israelites required them. Many leaders of Israel came under fire for violating them. Instances of them appear in the Gospels and in the epistles. It was a relatively novel concept in the pagan world from which Christianity emerged that a wife might have a right to her husband’s fidelity. And many cultures have had no problems whatsoever with incest, particularly of the brother-sister variety. The Midrash, in fact in commenting upon these passages of Torah, didn’t even speak of these pravtices as acts of sexual intercourse but as marriages — complete with contracts and wedding songs.

    You, like many around here, view these issues through the lens of 2000 years of Judeo-Christian influence upon our culture and seem to have little sense of the kind of world that preceded it. For all the noise that many God-haters make about our supposed “innate empathy,” the recorded history of human civilization shows very little of it.

  248. You still haven’t said what your point is.

  249. And any church that refuses to recognize the full humanity of gay people has left being decent, caring people far, far behind them.

  250. When you reject biblical authority, a you finally approach being decent people in the modern world.

  251. Amazing what you can see in that photograph.

  252. Jesus is the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God. Paul also said to make yourself a slave to to no man.

  253. The Catholic Church believes in the “full humanity” of everyone, born and unborn. But it must point out and warn that sin, in its many forms, can prevent union with God here on earth and permanently after death.

  254. Thanks for underlining the problem nicely. Whatever your church may say, it’s actions demonstrate just the opposite.

    Inherently, intrinsically morally disordered with an inherent tendency towards grave moral evil?

    That’s right from the catechism. If that’s your idea of full humanity…

    No thank you.

  255. The church is teaching that same-sex behavior not only goes against the teaching of Jesus Christ, it goes against natural law. To flout Jesus and natural law has temporal and eternal consequences. God gives man the freedom to choose, but it’s the church’s job to point out the possible consequences. God bless you, Ben!

  256. Thanks again for underlining the point nicely.

    Natural law is F=MA. It is not “this is what seems good to me as a Catholic.”

    The church is free to impose its silliness on people silly enough to buy it. It is not free to impose on people through civil law.

    I believe you that you meant well by asking God to bless me. Thank you.

    But I have no more interest in your God than I do on the Muslim God that authorized these killings. Please Keep your purely the logical concerns out of the civil and secular law that governs all of us.

  257. The point is…learn the historical contexts of your sacred text before you start quoting Old Testament verses read as a death threat against a modern minority group.

  258. LOL! IOW, you forgot what your point was. ?

  259. You are wrong on two counts. Gays do not choose to be gay. Given everybody picks and chooses the scripture they want to follow there is no scripture condemning gays currently being followed by anyone.

  260. We all choose our behavior. And no, everybody does not pick and choose the scripture they want to follow. There are several that I don’t want to follow at all.

  261. By your logic we all choose which sex we will be attracted to.

  262. I am not talking about attraction. Most of us are attracted at some time or other to persons who are not legitimate partners for us. I am talking about behaviors.

  263. Sexual attraction is innate in all of us. It is not a behavior. You are implying you were sexually attracted to a person of the same sex at some time in your past. Were you also initially sexually attracted to your current spouse. My point being there are some who are only innately sexually attracted to the same sex from the onset of puberty. It is not a choice with them.

  264. I was never attracted to a person of my same sex, but I was once very much attracted to — very much in love with, in fact — a man who was unscripturally divorced. I had no choice in how I felt, but I had to pass up that relationship, of course.

  265. OK I am lost and I realize this isn’t on point with the article, but what is the difference between a scriptural and a non-scriptural divorce. All divorces in this day and age are granted by the state. I would appreciate if you explained the difference.

  266. Why do you not know this, Cken? I’ve seen you commenting on the relevant gospel passage before

    Jesus stated that where God joins man and woman together He does not recognize the dissolution of that covenant as valid except for fornication. Therefore a remarriage constitutes adultery. Paul appeared to add the caveat that a Christian abandoned by an unbelieving spouse is not bound since God did not actually join those two together. Neither circumstance was true in my case; my friend’s divorce was due to in-law issues, not to infidelity or abandonment by an unbeliever.

  267. Speculation ad nauseum. But in any case the same concept appears in 2 Corinthians as well.

    How marvelous it would be if every husband could play the Messiah role to the extent Christ did, giving his all for his beloved! Complaints about “sexism” appear petty indeed against such a backdrop.

  268. Go read Acts 15, Deruman. This objection was asked and answered two thousand years ago.

  269. Perhaps. Life is a very sexist, very politically incorrect phenomenon.

  270. In today’s world with so many Christians picking and choosing from the Bible what they will and won’t follow, I have never experienced someone who took those passages so literally. I guess your terminology spiritual and non-spiritual threw me a bit, but I see your point. Thank You.

  271. I see no words of Jesus in this passage. I see a couple of politicians arguing about how best to build the party membership, with one arguing to relax the rules to enlarge the tent, and the other holding to Jewish tradition.

    Most of “Christianity” as followed by Christians today is really Paulism. The few words of Christ are largely ignored by Christians today and the majority of the New testament was either written by Paul or by others in his name, flavored by a metaphysical injection provided by the book of John.

    Paul was a consummate politician who built a wide following of belief in Christianity as defined by him. Later politicians wrote books in his name to put their imprint on the movement — about half of the Epistles are not by Paul. Still later others edited the canon to instill their favorite versions and to suppress those they disagreed with. This is historical fact that even seminary graduates don’t dispute.

    In the end Christianity today is about 5% Jesus and 95% the collected influence of 1900 years of politics. Christians pick and choose which parts to align to and that defines their particular species of Christianity, of which there are hundreds, if not thousands, which often differ on fundamental points.

  272. I doubt that you know any seminary students. Your mythology about canon of scripture is straight out of the Da Vinci Code, a work or fiction.

    The Jerusalem Council was made up not of “politicians” but of the apostles themselves and very Jewish and Torah-observant Jewish Christians many of whom had known Jesus. They were not “relaxing the rules” at all but were declining to impose rules where none had previously existed. Gentiles, the new converts in question at that time, had never been given any dietary or ceremonial rules to follow. No one had ever cared how much shellfish they ate or what fibers they wore. Righteous Gentiles, however, had always been held to a much more ancient and basic standard of morality, however, called the Noahide laws. In a nutshell they cover everything covered by the law of love, plus abstention from blood, inhumane butchering practices, and all sexual immorality. The Jews of the Jerusalem Church saw no new reason to impose the ceremonial Torah on righteous Gentiles turned Christian.

    That is why the “shellfish” argument is futile. In more biblically literate times people understood all of this as a matter of course.

  273. Every pastor I’ve ever known was a seminary student at one time. As my first Lutheran pastor told me, and numerous writers attest, the relaxation of Jewish law in the time of Paul was necessary in order to enable Gentiles to join what was essentially at the time, a breakaway Jewish sect, as the sect tried to extend its influence into regions outside the Jewish homeland.

    The issue was whether converts should be required to follow onerous Jewish law including dietary and circumcision requirements. The argument against was that this would inhibit the sect’s ability to grow. The reference to Acts that you cited says so in so many words — “… putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke…” This is a purely political consideration that has nothing to do with faith or ideology and has everything to do with the amassing of political influence through membership growth. It’s no different than the Catholics de-emphasizing limbo in 2007, the Mormons changing their stance on blacks in 1978 and the GOP accepting an assault weapons ban (any day now). You can wrap religious poetry around it, but the prose comes through.

    The Biblical canon was not firm until the second century under the leadership of politicians like Irenaeus, who picked and chose books according to their ideological preferences. It continues to be evolve to this day, every time somebody issues a new interpretation, or uncovers a new scrap of parchment.

    Nothing in what I said above is in any serious dispute.

  274. It was not a political decision but one made in light of observing that Gentiles were receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit without needing to convert to Judaism at all. This was not such a huge leap; the Jews under the old covenant had always accepted the righteous Gentiles as having a place in God’s economy so why should it be different under the new covenant?

    The canon was mostly firm before Irenaeus, too, by the middle of the 2nd century at the latest. We know from the Muratorian Fragment which books they were and why others, even very popular ones like the Shepherd of Hermas, were not considered authoritative — because they came after the apostles’ time. But thank you at least for not making the tiresome claim that Nicea composed the Bible.

  275. It is not a matter of interpreting the Bible unless you belong to a cult, the fact that the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin is obvious. Would you go to a doctor for surgery if the doctor interpreted her medical books the way some people interpret this subject? Certainly Not! Or as the Apostle Paul in the KJV,”God Forbid” Rom.6:1 That’s what you call hypocrisy, heresy, apostasy and twisting the scriptures, if you interpret that way you could make the Bible say almost anything you want. Get Real !

  276. Romans 1 tells you that you are without excuse to understand certain things based on how God designed His creation. You don’t even have to read the Bible to know homosexuality is not part of God’s design.

  277. But if you look at the websites they are from, they obviously wrote the article from a biased, self-serving, self-affirming position. They didn’t approach the scripture scholarly but rather with a bias of ‘this is what I am going to make it say’

  278. Those don’t look like any Mennonites and Amish i’ve seen in my decades of living near them. Think Little House On The Prairie, not millennial hipsters.

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