The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Same-sex relationships


#81

T.J., thanks for your extensive (and totally non-offensive) reflections. I didn’t mean to indicate arguments that rested on seeing sex’s primary purpose as “procreation!” Thus I share most of your Biblical interpretations, but am less sure that I follow the logic you that then derive. Here’s some reactions.

You seem to assume that the same author wrote each Pentateuchal text, such that Moses’ polygamous laws show that “he” can’t mean that God designed a one man/one woman relationship in Genesis 2. I’m not so sure the same thinking lies behind those several texts, but as a bit of a red-letter non-inerrantist, I do see Jesus assert a ‘darkness’ in Israel’s practices and conception of Mosaic Law that he argues departed precisely from God’s original Genesis purpose. Thus, your solution to a possible Mosaic inconsistency from which you argue, seems trumped by Jesus’ own monogamous interpretation of Genesis (Matt. 19:3-9).

You often assert that the Mosaic texts were governed by Israel’s obsessive priority toward maximizing procreation. Thus, you say that we are making an exception to the first marriage as the proto-type when we accept non-procreational marriages. So then you argue, why not also make gender exceptions to that pattern?

Yet, in the next breath, you acknowledge that the real proto-typical priority in the story of pairing man and woman is meeting man’s aloneness, not procreation. But then, why would an exception to the story’s central point actually be required for non-procreational marriages? I.e. you seem to assert procreational priority only when it serves your desired conclusion. Thus, I sense that the question remains as to whether complementary gender is irrelevant to marriage’s intended way of matching man’s incompleteness. You well argue that Moses wants to define marriage as within one species. But implying that this is the totality of what is implied is simply not the core to marriage that most cultures (much less Judaism) have historically perceived. Their stories understood heterosexual unions as fitting the creational order for family units that most needed to be honored.


#82

Hi Pat,
A rather obvious idea regarding what “unnatural” would mean here. Sperm is for reproduction naturally. Why does a homosexual have sperm?


#83

Hi T. J., just a bit more!

On my non-exegetical anatomical argument, you say that it’s “obvious” that the “purpose for men and women clearly being (admittedly) designed to be sexually compatible” is also simply “procreation.” But isn’t declaring what is the ultimate or total purpose of something more subjective than that? Is it completely non-sensical that if “95%” experience heterosexual marvels, they might reasonably sense that what you call heterosexual “anatomical complementarity” to intimately unite male and female, seems to have an ideal fit (though not requiring that sex be limited to that anatomy), such that if there is a creational intent suggested therein, their fundamental intuition would be that this design appears to be toward same sex pleasure (as well as suited to procreation)?

Out of curiosity, even if you think the wording of the ‘negative’ texts on homosexuality cannot be pressed to condemn some of today’s understandings of an appropriate same sex relationship, apart from the situations they were addressing, do you think that the Biblical writers did not personally assume that all same sex relationships were inappropriate? As I told you before, I think one can make quite a postive same sex case on the basis of central Biblical principles. But I find it difficult not to perceive that it takes a kind of fancy hermaneutic that plays with words, to avoid the impression that the assumptions of the Biblical writers about God’s intention for sexual orientation would be at home among some traditionalists.

Again, I am not contending for “proofs” that exclude gay marriage, but trying to represent a part of the instinctive rationale for thinking that the “marriage” concept may be especially suited to the heterosexual unit. As patronizing as it sounds today, one could agree that same sex orientation seems to be a puzzling aberration from the assumably intended norm, but argue that a gracious provision should be made for some analagous fulfillment for those in the minority position (my late ethics prof, Lew Smedes, argued this way). In any event, help me to see where I’ve misconstrued your line of thought.

Grace be with you,
Bobx1


#84

Hi Roofus,

I’ve missed our dialogues, and I’m afraid that I must try to give a faithful traditionalist a difficult time too. “Why do heterosexual people who will never be fit to reproduce have sperm?” I’m not sure I understand the meaning of my question, much less yours! But I’m afraid that I don’t see how it help to define “unnatural” by assuming that it applies to every situation that we have a hard time understanding. “Why” questions can be handled in endless ways.

We would commonly explain gender characteristics like having sperm by pointing to the genetic formation we inherit, but how is that relevant? I assume that you don’t mean that if a person has sperm, it follows that his purpose must be to see that it gets used to reproduce. I’m guessing that you also don’t think emitting sperm should be limited to a relationship where reproduction is expected or even possible. Would sperm become “natural” for a homosexual if it was employed with the opposite sex? What do you mean?

Why do homosexuals have sperm? Surely your answer is not that they can provide for surrogates or test tube babies. Do you think it is so that they can all be married? What is your own better answer? If their sperm is not “natural,” what are you implying should be done about it? I must apologize for this seedy discussion, but it seems to me that we’re still left with the debate about what kind of relationship is appropriate for sex.


#85

I suppose we could also fairly ask the creator of the universe why he has built gender ambiguity into an already topsy-turvy world.

Though I suspect the answer a la Job would be melodramatic rhetoric concerning my whereabouts during the creation of Leviathan :smiley:


#86

Hey Bob! Great to hear from you. Thanks for your analysis of my argument. I enjoy this process as it helps to challenge me and refine my position. I would say that I wasn’t arguing that that Moses wasn’t saying that it wasn’t a one man/one woman relationship, but that Moses didn’t take it to mean that all subsequent relationships had to be only one man and only one woman if he could turn right around and allow polygamy. In fact, I was using this argument because I was assuming that everyone on the board would assume Mosaic authorship since I assumed these forums to be more conservative in nature. When I discuss issues with conservatives I try the best I can to use the conservative hermeneutic, since that was what I grew up with and it’s just easier to discuss these topics when you can agree on hermeneutic as much as possible. I graduated with my bachelor’s in Religion from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and so I am all too familiar with the conservative position. I have not retained the conservative position and am now a left-leaning moderate on most issues. So, needless to say, I do not think Moses was the author of the entire Pentateuch. I was trying to make an argument by showing the inconsistency of the application of that passage IF he was assumed to be the author. I quite agree with you that Jesus said that the intended purpose of marriage was that it were to last, but being the realist He was, He knew it wouldn’t with sinful human beings. The interesting point about the passage that you quote is that in that very passage Jesus said that some were born Eunuchs, and I have seen very convincing evidence that Eunuchs included all who had no desire for sexual relations with the opposite sex and this included homosexuals. It would seem that it is from the lips of Christ Himself that we can find evidence that gay people are born that way.

I am not an inerrantist either. I believe that the idea that God told Joshua and the Israelites to slay every man, woman, child, and beast among portions of the Canaanites is repugnant and contradicts with the type of God that Jesus came to reveal. I believe that all truth is God’s truth so that no matter the source of the “facts” all truth should cohere together whether it’s found in special revelation or natural revelation. So my position is that if all the other sources of truth are screaming unanimously about something with good evidence and the Bible is saying something different, then, as long as the screamers have good evidence and logic, then I have no problem concluding that the Bible is wrong (e.g. old earth vs. Young earth).

I have no doubt that it is possible that the author of Genesis may have never considered the idea of two men or two women being a possible marriage. I’m sure the idea would have made no sense to him. But I believe that the way the creation story was told was a reflection of the culture. I should point out that the very same story is used by men as justification for the “ruling over women” by men and even Paul used the creation order to argue for male superiority:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” (1 Tim. 2:11-15).

I’d like to see this passage applied in the modern mainstream evangelical church. :astonished:) My point in quoting this is to show you that people base many things off the creation story as if it were suppose to set some sort of official way of being for the rest of human time. For millennia men believed that women were subject to them and were property and this belief was justified in our heritage off the idea that Eve was the one who sinned and led Adam and the rest of mankind into sin. Her punishment was then that her husband would rule over her.

However, some people started thinking in the late 19th century that the Apostle Paul was not always consistent in his application of the Law of Love. Especially when he said in Galatians that in Christ Jesus there was no male or female, but all were afforded the same status. The life of love as expressed in Jesus Christ became the standard up against which societal social roles and mores were judged, regardless of explicit commands such as the above-quoted. This is the hermeneutic that I think applies to this issue and that I apply to every issue that I deal with in my life. Love is the rule and if it’s loving, then it’s okay, it fulfills the law (in spirit). If it’s not unloving, then it’s not okay, it doesn’t fulfill the law (in spirit).

Yes, this is the argument I’m making toward those who believe that procreation is the primary purpose of marriage and this may be where I confused you. I was doing the same as before. I was assuming for the sake of argument that the procreationist position was true and I was trying to point out the inconsistency of making an exception in one case and not the other.

I asserted procreational priority only for the sake of argument with a procreationist (since I didn’t know your position). Like I said, I wanted to show, given a procreationist position, that it was inconsistent to make an exception in one case without textual reasons for it, but not the other. My point about the issue of companionship was that, after all that arguing from the procreationist perspective, it really didn’t matter anyway, since God’s stated purpose in the text is to meet man’s need for companionship. As a matter of fact, that’s MY whole position. Marriage is supposed to first and foremost be for the purpose of life-long companionship. Procreation is only secondary. Thus, with my position, NONE of the issues that I mentioned such as infertility, old age at marriage, or the gender of the person’s involved are issues at all. I was just trying to show that if I granted the conservatives their usual procreationist position, that even on THAT grounds, my more liberal view not withstanding, to exclude one over the other was inconsistent.

“Most cultures (much less Judaism)” also believed that women were property, in the subjection of other humans in forced servitude, cruel and brutal torture of criminals, and in the necessity of animal sacrifices to assuage the anger of the gods. And all of these cultures had religious reasons to justify these activities (especially the Jews!). Do you see the problem? It was once said that the natural order of creation clearly showed the inferiority of the negro race. It was once said that the natural order of creation showed that man was meant to dominate women. It was once said that the natural order of creation supported the divine right of kings. I think you get the point. This whole appeal to nature and what we perceive to be the natural order of things doesn’t seem to historically work very well, especially since we today would reject each and every single one of these ideas – even though some of them had strong religious reasons to back them up.

This is where I go back to my basic position that all truth is God’s truth. Solid peer-reviewed research shows with objective measurement procedures that gay/lesbian relationships are as mutually satisfying and fulfilling as heterosexual relationships. Bisexuals who have experienced both say that though there are some minor differences in dynamics based on whether you’re in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship, either can be just as fulfilling. There is no evidence to date that backs up the assertion that just because men and women are an anatomical fit, that they find a deeper fulfillment in vaginal-penile sex than a gay couple might in anal sex. As a matter of fact, numerous surveys show that a large number of women prefer other forms of sex than penile-vaginal, with a good number reporting that the “missionary position” doesn’t do anything for them. It’s counter-intuitive, but Christian psychologist David G. Myers wrote an entire book on how often our “natural intuition” gets things wrong. The title of the book is “Intuition: It’s Powers and Perils.” It does appear from all the available research I’ve done into this issue from various fields, that the “more fulfilled” idea based on anatomy just doesn’t hold water. It appears that the difference in anatomy is primarily for the purpose of procreation. As I said, one deposits and the other receives.

Again, like I just said, there is no evidence from the scientific literature that sexual pleasure is diminished in non penile-vaginal sexual activity. Another example is that many men prefer anal sex with their wives over the “created” way. The whole argument again rests on the correctness of human intuition. It wasn’t until empiricism became the accepted way of deciphering questions like this that the human race actually began to advance beyond urban legends. And how often has intuition been shown to be wrong? It wasn’t until definitive studies were done in the late 50s that showed that skin color was determined by the amount of melanon in the skin that the intuitive sense that skin color reflected one’s moral character was abandoned. It wasn’t until studies were done that showed that left-handedness was simply a genetic variant that some people had that people finally stopped looking at left-handed people as weird (my grandmother forced my dad who was born left-handed to use his right hand to write because she was afraid people were going to think he was a freak! And to this day, his penmanship shows the error of her ways LOL!!). There was nothing immoral about it. Yet, for CENTURIES it was assumed that this variant that exists in handedness was seen as morally inferior. And the amazing thing about it is that we have MORE evidence that sexual orientation is genetically influenced than we do for handedness.

Those who are gay and lesbian simply experience a natural variant in human expression along with 450 other animal species. Did you know that in some species that it is the male who bears children and that there are more genders than just “male and female?” My point is this: that the cookie cutter, black and white version of the creation works nice for Hebrew poetry, but the actual observational facts from the creation itself beg to differ. So, to answer your question: No, I don’t think that just because there appears to be an anatomical fit between men and women that that implies that sexual pleasure was only meant to be experienced between them, because if that were the case it would seem more plausible to me that God would have created the body to ONLY experience sexual pleasure that way to ensure procreative action took place. Again, intuition says one thing, only to clash with scientific research which demonstrates that this variation happens all throughout the created order and no inherent problem is caused by it (unlike dyslexia for example).

Since my hermeneutic is out of the bag, I won’t spend the time arguing on a conservative hermeneutic as to why these passages may not say what we think they do based on the culture of the time (and I think there is a good argument). Basically, I take Tom Talbott’s position when it comes to scripture. If everyone in the Bible believed that torturing babies for the sheer pleasure of it was a righteous thing to do, I would have little difficulty (sarcasm intended lol) in saying, “So what? They were wrong!” Likewise, if everyone in scripture took a negative on homosexuality, but it could be objectively demonstrated that it was harmless and that people who partook of it enjoyed the same levels of happiness and fulfilment that heterosexuals did, I would have no problem saying that the Bible is wrong and that it (along with its view of handedness, slavery, and the status of women) were reflections of the culture of their day.

And your graciousness is much appreciated. Certainly no one would argue that God’s intent was that the vast majority of people would be heterosexual and marry in the opposite sex fashion and go on to reproduce. However, it would be a mistake in my opinion to assume that this was true for everybody or that everybody was intended to marry (celibacy was only recognized as blessed in the New Testament). I mean, on the flip side of the coin, if the primary purpose of marriage is companionship and procreative ability is not a prerequisite, then why would we NOT expect there to be variety in sexual orientation when there is such a variety in other aspects of human functioning? The way I look at it is this: If variation occurs in nature and that variation is not inherently dehabilitating in some way, then we should accept it as part of the variety that God intended to see manifested through the trillions of possible combinations of the genetic code that He programmed and not judge it as some “puzzling aberration” as if the possessors of that trait were freaks or something.

Keep in mind the Jerusalem council and the Jew/Gentile controversy of that day. The church came together and asked themselves what decision would be more in line with that of the life and death of Christ and they changed thousands of years of tradition and provided equal standing for all people regardless of race. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The old ways of discriminating and separating are over for those who are in Christ. Full equality for ALL people and not just a “gracious provision” that implies “your union is second rate” should be the rallying cry for those of us who believe in Christ!

Peace,
T.J.


#87

Bob: “sorry for this seedy discussion” - please tell me that pun was intended. ROFLOL.

Jeff: Hey, I’ve enjoyed some of your posts but until now haven’t still had any energy to write after putting together these long responses. I, personally, would like to see your thoughts on the jubilee as I think there is a lot of rich stuff in that idea. Also, I see that you grew up in a fundamentalist background. I also grew within a fundamentalist group that was within a larger church body. Heck, I graduated from Liberty University!! Not sure how I did that to be honest with you, but I’m alive to tell about it - barely. I was getting closer and closer to giving up on the whole thing until I discovered a different way of looking at the Bible and Jesus that had feet in spirituality while also being consistent with logic and science. Anyway, I would be interested to get more of your thoughts on this topic and also why you call yourself an agnostic. Are you a Christian agnostic or an agnostic in general? (I’ve met both).


#88

Hi TJ,

My approach to a controversial issue is to carefully examine the primary premises of arguments on both sides. And I focus on the validity of the premises. In the case of your proposal about sexual ethics, I strongly disagree with your premise that there are some cases of harmless sex apart from marriage. (Please, I do not assume that everybody on this board agrees with me and lives according to these ethics. And I am not writing this to point fingers at anybody, but the subject matter forces me to discuss these ethics.) And before I could discuss the legitimacy or illegitimacy of gay and lesbian marriages, I need to focus on your premise about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of sex apart from marriage.

I prefer to discuss this instead of debate this because I am unsure how well I can debate it. Anyway, I see great wisdom in establishing the boundary that humans should have no sex apart from marriage while all sex apart from marriage is in some way damaging regardless if we clearly see it in every circumstance. I believe the New Testament makes that clear. And as somebody who came out of a promiscuous lifestyle, I see great wisdom in rejecting the idea that everybody else is a potential sex partner. I believe that this is an important boundary for social order regardless of the percent of people who reject it.

And I am sorry that this is a response to some of your earlier posts while I could not keep up with everything posted since to others or I might never have gotten this out. :slight_smile:


#89

Hi Jim,

My reaction to TJ’s implication that marriage is not vital to morality was similar, though I may represent a middle ground. I sympathize with his view that morality is far deeper than conforming to formal paperwork, and that the nature of love in the relationship is the primary concern. But having said that, I am wary of speaking as if marriage is optional, if it is seen as a formal or publically recognized commitment to a unique love toward a specific partner. Because of our human capacity to rationalize concerning our commitments, it seems to me that expecting a recognized binding and formal covenantal pledge is appropriate to affirming the importance that we place on that kind of love. Thus, while I resonate with the central burden of TJ’s rationale, I would be in favor of presenting marriage as the normative entry way for sexual intimacy. Does that fit with your thinking?

Grace be with you,
Bob


#90

Is it not true that one can choose to use something for the purpose that it was intended (or not) or lose the use of something intended for a purpose (as in a disablement such as paralysis)? We have this freedom as humans, but does it alter the fact of the purpose of a certain organ? It seems obvious that sperm is for reproduction.


#91

Hi Roofus, the non-reproductive-ness of SSE has already been discussed, but I’ll briefly address your question.

Why does a celibate person have sperm? Why do barren heterosexuals have sperm?

I asked for a morally-relevant definition of unnatural. In turn, you pointed out that SS couples cannot reproduce together. However, a barren opposite-sex couple cannot reproduce either. Is their relationship also immoral for that reason? Further, Catholic priests don’t reproduce either (they “waste” their sperm just as much as homosexuals). Is the Catholic priest lifestyle immoral for that reason?

At any rate, I feel like you’re using “unnatural” improperly. In a sense, failure to reproduce may indeed be called “unnatural”, but it’s hardly morally wrong. As John Corvino has pointed out, societies (human and animal) require some members to reproduce, but it doesn’t follow that all members are required to reproduce. That would actually be disastrous.

So I don’t think that there is a morally-relevant definition of “unnatural” that applies to SSE. And as I explained earlier, I don’t think SSE per se is harmful to the body.

In a follow-up post to Bob Wilson, you wrote:

Yes, sperm is for reproduction, but it doesn’t follow that non-reproductive sexual acts are necessarily immoral. It’s also tricky arguing that certain organs have only one purpose/function. But even if we grant your premise, the next question is whether it’s automatically immoral to use a body part in another way. Here are some examples:

  • Earrings are contrary to “the purpose” of ears, which is to obtain audible information… are earrings immoral?

  • Junk food is contrary to “the purpose” of the intestines, which is to obtain nutrients from foods… is eating junk food immoral?

  • Tattoos are contrary to “the purpose” of the skin… are tattoos immoral?

  • Non-reproductive sexual activity is contrary to “the purpose” of sexual organs, which is reproduction… is non-reproductive sex immoral when it is between a barren opposite-sex couple?

On the last point, I would argue that reproduction is not the sole purpose of sexual organs. Sexual activity also creates and strengthens emotional bonds in opposite-sex couples who cannot reproduce. Is non-reproductive sex wrong in that scenario?

But perhaps you want to argue that sexual activity must be for reproduction, and if reproduction is not possible then the activity is immoral. Is that your view? If so, why?

  • Pat

#92

Good questions, don’t know if I have the energy to go into all that depth, partly because I think much of the arguments are irrelevant. Maybe my arguments are not very good, I’ll have to think some more.
I still think that it’s going to come down to what scripture says. I don’t think that we can reason our way to all of God’s will without His revealing it.


#93

Christian Independent

Thanks for the response - I did start a thread about the Jubilee which didn’t really take off (a long while back) - so maybe I’ll try again :smiley:

I would describe myself as an agnostic first with somewhat of a desire to find that UR is true (though my inclination is to be a secular humanist who has no fear of death being the end).

I look forward to discussing these things with you (yes I was quite highly damaged emotionally by the Plymouth Brethren’s brand of fundamentalism).


#94

Hi Bob,

I am unsure what you mean by the phrase normative entry way for sexual intimacy, but I understand that marriage laws vary from government to government while I am not focusing on the various legal definitions. For example, Isaac married Rebekah by bringing Rebekah into his tent. And Saint Valentine performed marriage ceremonies for Christian couples while the Roman Empire outlawed both marriage and Christianity.

I also understand that most humans have sexual attraction for more than one person while I strongly believe that God asks us to limit sexual activity to marriage, which should be a lifelong commitment. And we see some leeway for polygamy in the Old Testament while the New Testament forbids polygamy at least specifically for Christian leaders. And I never say that I promote the “biblical” model of marriage because of Old Testament polygamy while I promote the “New Testament” model of marriage.


#95

TJ, thanks for the clarifications, and for getting my seedy pun! I couldn’t resist. Man, you moved left of Liberty, and I of Fuller Seminary. So I hate to pass over our huge common ground (agreement on the central meaning of Genesis; challenges in reconciling Paul’s words on women; no on genocide and chauvinist hierarchy; especially yes on the primacy of love and universalism; etc). But the differences are more stimulating. I can’t do justice to your extensive thoughts, but here’s belatedly the problematic gist that I perceived.

For me, you often knock down straw men and argue for truths that I expressly acknowledged. You first retort that we now see that cultures have been terribly mistaken. Agreed!!! (Though assuming that every historic view is wrong would be going to the other extreme—cf. Socrates or Hillel’s Jewish perception that love sums up the law; there’s always wheat and chaff).

But I inarticulately only meant to argue that Genesis’ assumption that marriage is for companionship does not necessitate your conclusion that it could not also intend to promote heterosexuality as the way to address that need. Thus I buttressed the impression that it implies that by arguing that that was the consensus reading among its’ original Hebrew audience (not that cultures can’t be wrong). Sure, they could have read it wrong, but it’s not obvious to me that their perception of its implication was incorrect. Indeed, I don’t see that any of the modern views you cite enable Christians to escape the debate about Biblical hermeneutics or the role of revelation in evaluating that data.

With anatomy (as in exegesis) you reassert that the whole reason God designed m. & f. the way they are is “the purpose of procreation,” but it can’t suggest anything about God’s intentions for sexual relations. But I’m doubting precisely that that is so “obvious” to many. If sexual anatomy only evolved by chance, one way it clearly “functions” is to procreate, but ascribing “purpose” would have little meaning. But if the “fit” we’re discussing is seen as designed by a Designer of sex, are traditionalists crazy to think it could also signify something about God’s plan as to who sexual acts are intended for, rather than only showing how reproduction happens.

You seem to assume that genetic discoveries in the “50’s” were essential for our acceptance of Blacks or left handers (though my parents encouraged that without such knowledge). But especially that they are what enable us to rcognize that “anatomical complementarity” cannot suggest anything about sex itself. But I fail to see how any of those beliefs must be governed by a particular knowledge (or lack of it) of genetics. Many racists know genetics. Hitler can know that traits he perceives as defects are genetically produced, and on that very basis seek to exterminate them! Is the relationship between ethics, science, and a complex world as simple as you make it?

So I don’t get your argument that genetics shows that the “remarkable fit of the sex act that procreates” cannot suggest anything about sex. You do argue that modern(?) knowledge makes it clear that same-sex acts can be just as effective at bringing great pleasure and satisfaction. But who doubts that, or argued that anatomy’s significance is that a more intense pleasure is the basis for ennobling heterosexuality (or that it limits sex to those organs)? Isn’t it common among conservatives to argue that for something to bring pleasure is not at all necessarily a justification for it?

You conclude that God clearly wouldn’t have made bodies capable of sexual pleasure by using any other parts, if any such possible use could be illicit. Rather, it seems obvious to me that we are given bodies capable of doing many things, some of which can be quite wrong (e.g. committing genocide).

You state your presumption that “if a variation occurs in nature… we should expect that God intended to see it manifested.” But you know that traditionalists perceive the Biblical nature of the creation to be fallen and corruptly distorted, and thus are suspicious of the bias that inherited inclinations (eg. self-centeredness, violence, schizophrenia, etc) must be goods to be embraced.

Then you seem to disclose your clincher: Regardless of what Scripture may indicate, you would overturn its’ view if “objectively” it was “demonstrated” that something was “not harmful.” As a Talbott lover who accepts you implicit premise that love has primacy, I’m bound to sympathize. But my very point has been that what is seen as “objectively demonstrable” is often in the eye of the beholder.

You are convinced the results are grand and that no detriment is intrinsic to gay unions. I have no expertise on their merits or drawbacks, but am less sure the jury is in. I am pretty sure that the perceptions of both sides on this are colored by their sympathies. I do know that there are many, including thoughtful non-religious academics, who are convinced that there is harm to societies and persons in encouraging that the goals of marriage or family can be equally fulfilled by endorsing same sex unions. I know you are convinced that the evidence is overwhelmingly on the other side.

Your intuitions about these dilemmas may be right. My point has only been that for those committed to more traditional confidence in revelation, it takes a strong case to overturn taking their lead from that reading. So I think it is not as easy to disprove their conclusions as you imply.

I regret the deep pain traditionalists have inflicted by an unloving spirit and approach. But also that differences over the changing views on this tender subject have been at the center of terrible divisions among believers who are each trying to affirm what seems deeply right and good to them. My desire is to foster a continued dialogue and a respect wherein both sides recognize the genuine effort of the other, and love those who see or practice it differently, as best they understand what love means. I’m grateful for the chance to experience that with you.

Blessings on you,
Bob


#96

Jim, by “normative,” I simply meant that believers should hold that the usual expected pre-requisite for sexual union is marriage, as I take it you also believe.


#97

Yes, Bob. Now I understand what you meant. :slight_smile:


#98

Hello all! Sorry I dropped off the face of the earth. I wasn’t ignoring the group here. I got bogged down with school and then I had an issue with my health that required my being hospitalized. I want to reiterate that I am happy to see that we can have a civil dialogue about a very emotional issue. I will try my best to get some thoughts up sometime this week if I can. I hope all are well. Peace, TJ. :slight_smile:


#99

I had an interesting encounter in the bar of a theatre where my wife and I were attending a concert last Saturn’s Day evening. We were engaged in conversation with a man who happened to be sitting at the table we chose to sit down at with our coffees (proof that even I can sit in a bar without an alcoholic drink :smiley: ). Early on he let us know that he was a Christian and it turned out that he and some of his church dole out free tea, coffee and soup to the students at the university where I work (in exchange for a little ‘ear time’ of course). Setting aside my initial desire to ask him why they weren’t doling out these things to the homeless people begging on the street not a quater of a mile down the road in the city centre he started a polemic against homosexuals. He looked at us helplessly and said 'it’s not what I say - it’s there in black and white in the Bible so I have to just ‘tell it as it is’. I didn’t say anything and just changed the subject to something else as that wasn’t the time or the place for an argument; and besides he was a really pleasant guy.

My instinct, had I given in to it, would have been to ask why Jesus treated the woman caught in adultary as he did when the Pharrisees were perfectly within their right to make the same defense of their condemnation as this man - ‘but it says in the Bible (I know!, I know! they would have said Moses or the Law or Torah or something)- she has to be stoned - it’s there in black and white’ (or - sort of blobby purpley black and parchment colour).

Anyway it sounds like I am just being smug and liberal - but this guy’s attitude is all too familiar.


#100

Hi Jeff,

I’m not going to justify that man’s polemic against homosexuals. However, if you ever do refer to the woman caught in adultery, please remember that the last words of Jesus to her were, “Go and sin no more.”