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Sunday, April 30, 2006 

American Baptist Association Votes to Split From the ABC Over Homosexuality

The Associated Press is reporting that "Delegates representing congregations of the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest voted overwhelmingly Saturday to recommend severing ties with the national denomination in a dispute over homosexuality." This move comes as no surprise to those who have kept up with this controversy that has been swelling over the past couple of years. The ABCPSW has written a statement regarding their views on human sexuality and its understanding from a Biblical standpoint and numerous leaders throughout the 1.4 million member convention have expressed their outrage at the Convention's lack of response to congregations in the ABC that have policies in place regarding homosexuals which do not correspond to the Biblical standards of morality.

This blog has never specifically dealt with the issue of homosexuality, but in the coming days I hope to post a response to a recent controversy here in Kentucky over the dismissal of a student at a Baptist college because he was open about his sexuality on his MySpace homepage. The actions of the ABCPSW once again highlight the growing rift between Evangelical Christians and mainstream America over this issue. More and more we are seeing religious leaders, politicians, celebrities, newspaper columnists, and even common Americans throw around words like "bigots," "extremists," and "homophobes" to describe those who are trying hard to hold on to the essence of the Biblical message regarding sin and at the same time minister to those caught in a web of immorality. I applaud those, who like these Baptist churches, take a stand for truth in an age of accommodation. J. Greshem Machen wrote in his famous work, Christianity and Liberalism, "In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight."

But let us remember that breaking ties with those we love and cherish is never easy and never done without great grief and prayerful yearning for reconciliation. Jesus, after describing in Matthew 18 how to discipline a brother in sin, gives his followers this exhortation to comfort them in the midst of grieving over their experience: "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst" (NASB) What comforting words from our Savior when we find ourselves standing for Truth and opposing sin!

baptist issues, Bible, Christianity, Culture, evangelicalism, Liberalism, Ministry, News

Hey D.R.
I think it's time to give up on the old flyswatter.

I've wasted too much time on those knumbskulls.

I may contact other folks that leave comments there and encourage them to avoid it. It seems that if we ignored their stupid comments, the site would die.

Feel free to delete this comment after you read it, as it doesn't pertain to the subject.

God Bless!

I think what bothers me most is the posted quote. As Christians aren't we supposed to be united? Isn't that what Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane? The important thing we agree on is who Jesus is, what he did, and the freedom he gives. This is of utmost importance and should always come before any political issue such as homosexuality or women's roles in the church.

Politics are inevitable, but it shouldn't come before who Jesus is and what he has called us to be: united.

Mr. Anonymous,

First, let me say thanks for your response to my blog. I appreciate your willingness to interact with those who may disagree with you, and from the tone of your comment, it seems you are really in search of answers. I appreciate your humility and the irenic nature of your comment. So let me try to answer your questions as best as I can, though realize that this format does limit me greatly.

As Christians we are called to be united, but not at any cost. We should share the Gospel at any cost. We should worship God through Jesus Christ at any cost. But unity without doctrinal integrity is no unity at all.

It's interesting that you charcterize both homosexuality and women's roles in the Church as political issues. While I agree that these have been politicized, these are not essentially political issues, but rather theological in nature. If you take Paul as a sample theologian and inScripturator then you will see that on both issues he explains his practice by supporting it with theology.

In the case of homosexuality Paul clearly indicates in Romans 1 that theologically homosexuality is unnatural to the creation of God, even as he compares this to the worship of idols, which are creatures just as humans are and thus this makes it counterintuitive and unnatural to worship the creature rather than the creator.

In similar fashion, when Paul addresses women's roles in the Church in 1 Timothy 2, he does not appeal to cultural norms, but rather he appeals to the order of creation: "it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve." Many point to the Fall as the point in which women were made subservient to men, but Paul makes the case pre-Fall and then seems to indicate in v.14 that the Fall came when the woman usurped the loving authority of the man and then was decieved (the implication being that the man was not decieved, but rather willfully ate of the apple and thus was in rebellion to God). There is no doubt that both of these views have been perverted by Christians to the point of discrimination and excess, but solid, loving, Biblically-informed Christians can and do glorify God through upholding and teaching these essential doctrines and practices.

So, to make these issues strictly political is to take them out of their original realm and buy into the lie that culture has taught us: that truth and ethics are circumstantial, not universal or time-honored.

Now, having considered homosexuality as a Biblical and theological concern, I challenge you to consider Paul's actions in 1 Corinthians 5 when he calls for the expulsion of a man who was sexually immoral. I believe this situation is very similar. The churches of the ABCPSW have tried to stay united. This was not a rash decision. They have called for repentance from the ABC and for action in the convention to discipline churches teaching against the Biblical mandates on sexuality. The ABC refused. Thus, based on Scriptural concerns in line with the actions of the apostle Paul, and Jesus' words in Matthew 18, they decided to break from the organization. I think they acted with integrity and with love, and as I said before, such a break is never easy.

Until Christ comes back, Christians will continue to disagree on some doctrines and beliefs. There are some things upon which we can disagree and still fellowship. Homosexuality is not one of them -- it takes a rejection of the core of Christianity and (as Paul indicates) a blindness to the order of creation to hold that engaging in such behavior (notice I didn't say having such feelings) is compatible with the Biblical witness.

Here is a good resource by Al Mohler to examine concerning how Christians can disagree on doctrines and practices. Take some time and pray through these issues and you may want to check out these additional resources:

The Same Sex Controversy by James R. White
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by John Piper and Wayne Grudem

I hope you will consider reading some of these helpful resources and prayerfully considering them in light of Scripture. Thanks again for your response.

"There are some things upon which we can disagree and still fellowship. Homosexuality is not one of them..."

Does this mean that if I'm a gay believer that I'm not a Christian in your mind?

Or merely that this is a big issue and those who believe homosexuality is biblically wrong and those who disagree are not likely to unite and ought, therefore, to break their relationship?

In reading Mohler's Triage article, I don't see homosexuality listed as one of those views that set you apart from Christendom. Am I missing something?

Let me take a guess: Are you saying that those who accept homosexuality as Not a Sin are rejecting the authority of the Bible, which IS listed as an essential?

But what of those who accept the authority of scripture but who merely disagree with the interpretation that finds homosexuality to be a sin? Would that group still be IN?

Dan,
You bring up a good point. Evangelicals like myself tend to believe that everyone is using the same language and thus we are understood when we say that we believe homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity and thus we believe it is a sin, but that statement alone can be completely misinterpreted.

First, the feelings associated with homosexuality (i.e. same sex attraction) are not the problem. We all have sinful desires for something whether it be money, pleasure, heterosexual sex, etc. The homosexual struggles with feelings of being attracted to the same sex. This struggle is like any other struggle with something that is forbidden by the Bible, it is not sinful to simply have the feelings and acknowledge that they are present. The sin comes when lust takes over and one becomes enamored with the object of their desire. This could express itself in thoughts, fantasies, and self-satisfaction. Still, if the person recognizes that the Bible defines appropriate sexual activity as between and man and a woman and does not give himself/herself over to those desires by taking part in physical acts, then the sin is controlled and at least an attempt is being made by the person to deal with such feelings in a Christlike way. Taking this a step futher -- it may be that this person (for the sake of argument we will say they are a Christian) is tempted so far that he/she does indeed act out in a sexual manner with another person. This is a definate act of sin, but still it is not incompatible with Christianity, for Christ holds out forgiveness for those that confess their faults and sincerely try to mend their ways, being repentent and seeking Him as their only comfort and justification.

However, the step at which I think Christianity becomes incompatible with homosexuality is at the stage of lifestyle. One who is sold out to the lifestyle of homosexuality, engaging in non-repentent acts of same-sex intercourse and mutual stimulation is in danger of Hell. This person could always, by the grace of God, come to repentence and in turning from such a lifestyle be spared.

Lest we think ourselves better than the homosexual, we must remember that if we take out the suffix homo- and insert hetero- in the above example, the result is the same, given that the lifestyle is outside of marriage. Thus adultery and fornication would be two sins which, when participated in as a lifestyle, being completely unrepentent therein, result in one being in danger of Hell and ultimately in need of the grace of God bringing them to repentence to not encounter such a peril at death.

I hope that is clear, but if not let me know. Blogging, while effective is not always the best means of communicating theological and practical beliefs.

So, this is what I would say. I don't believe one can be a believer in Christ (i.e. trust in Christ alone for their salvation and thus be atoned for through the death of Christ -- and righteousness imputed through Christ's perfect life lived on their behalf -- and that atonement applied to their life by means of the Holy Spirit through faith) if that one rejects the Biblically evident position of homosexual acts as sins and thus engage wholeheartedly and without repentence in such acts.

Now, that having been said, let's examine your second question. I have yet to see someone hold to the absolute authority of Scripture and at the same time deny that homosexuality is taught to be a sin in the Bible (in any form whether it be pedophilia which some claim those passages to be in reference to or an exclusive committed homosexual relationship). And with that I would say it would fall into the first level of triage. However, even if one could hold to such a position of infallibility and an accpetance of homosexuality as a legitimate expression of Christianity, then I think there still would be no ability to get past the second level of triage to a relationship that is within the confines of a denomination and certainly not the confines of a local congregation.

As I wrote above, the two issues of homosexuality and women's roles in the church are similar (albeit not the same and in some ways very different). Still they share commonalities such as they both are argued to be based on cultural norms and not on the basis of universal truths, as well as both are soundly spoken of in relation to creation by Paul and both were addressed in the Old and New Testaments with at least some precision.

I don't think one can easily dismiss homosexual behavior as culturally conditioned and thus I think that the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin and that the lifestyle of homosexual behavior leads to death (Revelation 21:8 speaks of living lifestyles of such sins as immorality and lying, not individual acts of these transgressions).

So I hope I answered your questions and if you need any clarification please let me know. Thanks for allowing me to deal with that here in the comments' section. I wish I had more time to deal with it exegetically, but I think the resource given by James R. White is plenty adequate and I commend it to you if you are interested any further on the subject.

"I have yet to see someone hold to the absolute authority of Scripture and at the same time deny that homosexuality is taught to be a sin in the Bible"

Well, now you have. [Depending upon what you mean by "absolute authority"]. I believe the Bible is God's inspired Word, its teachings True AND I don't believe that a sound study of the Bible validates homosexuality as sin.

Rape (as at Sodom), yes. Prostitution (as mentioned sometimes in the Bible), yes. Even proliferate and uncommitted sexual behavior I think can be found in the Bible.

But for two adults in a loving, committed relationship? I find no biblical foundation for calling that a sin.

So, what do we do with the many folk like me and my church and our community of like-minded churches? Are we apostate sinners bound for hell for holding this opinion, or is there room in your tent for those who sincerely believe the Word of God, study it, and yet come up with a different interpretation than the norm?

How about if we agree with you on the homosexual issue but differ on the women in ministry issue? Will that issue also damn us?

[And by the way, thanks for the pleasant, well-reasoned response, even if I disagree with your position.]

Dan,
As I said before, holding such a position would keep us from participating in the same church together (if you were a leader) and likely I would have problems being in the same denomination were the denomination not willing to make a public statement against your views (if, like in the case of the ABC, the denomination had by-laws in place already regarding this). However, you are not the one participating in the acts that I believe the Bible condemns, though you are complicit with them. This, while disturbing to me, is not something I can find much in Scripture speaking to. Still, I would like for us to enter into a dialogue on the relavent passages so as to see how we exactly differ in regards to Scripture and how we interpet these passages so differently. Let me know when you might want to be ready to discussion and then we will start from the beginning of the Bible and progress to the end, dealing with all relevant passages speaking on or even hinting at homosexuality.

If you would rather not, I understand. But since you seem to be passionate about it, this might be a good way for us to understand each other's views. Thanks for your time.

Be glad to, Daniel. If you'd want, we could begin now. I would point out that I've believed as you likely believe. That is, I believed for the first half of my life that the Bible was clear in its condemnation of homosexuality.

I did not want to believe otherwise.

It was only after I began looking at the scriptures that I began to open my heart to the possibility that I was wrong.

Could we begin by agreeing how many passages in the whole of the Bible actually seem to deal with homosexuality (not counting places like Sodom/Gomorrah - where the sin involved was attempted rape, not homosexuality)? I was surprised that the number was only about 12.

Is that sound in the ballpark to you?

I would be glad to let you lead on this one. Just list all the text you see as relevant to this discussion and we will take them one at a time. But we must realize that other texts might be brought in as support for exegesis. Still, whatever texts you think are significant will be the focus. Once each text has been exhausted we will move on to the next text. You can begin by taking the first relevant text and explaining your view of it by means of exegesis and historical concerns.

Okeydokey. With the note that I'm no expert, just a guy that has looked at the Bible trying to find justification for my belief that homosexuality is a sin and come up short.

As I said, many passages are quoted as being about gays but a fair look at most of these passages will show it's about something else.

For instance, with Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 (as I already said), all the men of the town wanted to bring the two presumably male angels out of Lot's house so they could have forcible sex with them. Rape, in other words. If the messengers/angels had been women and the same thing had happened, we wouldn't then say that this was proof that heterosexuality is wrong.

There is another similar case in Judges 19-21.

Further references to the "sin of Sodom" (which I had always been taught was homosexuality) throughout the Bible shows a variety of sins, but homosexuality is not among them.

A list of these might include:
* Deuteronomy 29:22-28 - serving false gods;
* Deuteronomy 32:15-19, 21-25 and 31-33 - apathy, sacrifice to demons, idolatry and gluttony;
* Isaiah 1:2-4, 9-10, 20 and 23-31 - forsaking God, showing contempt to God,
* Isaiah 3:8-11, 15 - oppression, discrimination.
* Jeremiah 23:13, 14 - adultery, lying, oppression

Ezekiel 16 puts it this way:
"Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good."

In the New Testament (Matt 10, Matt 11, Mark 6) Sodom's sin is described as rejecting the Message/refusing to listen.

I just wanted to begin with Sodom because, even though it is objectively not about homosexuality in and of itself, it is often one of the big "evidences" given for the position that homosexuality is a sin.

Are we together on that one?

In a similar vein, the second group of texts that often get quoted in the homosexuality discussion that don't really apply are the passages that condemn catamites - usually young male/boy prostitutes for temple rites in pagan worship, as I understand the word.

These passages include:
I Kings 14:24
I Kings 15:12
I Kings 22:46
II Kings 23:7
I Cor 6:9

Can we be in agreement that these are talking about "boy prostitutes" and unite in our opposition to this abuse of sexuality?

If so, then maybe we're ready to move on to the dozen or so passages that seem to touch on homosexuality.

We can skip these passages. I agree that they are not passages with which one with my view can legitimately build a case against homosexuality (at least not alone).

However, I do take exception with 1 Corinthians 6:9. I would like to put that passage into the lot of those with which we will deal. You will have an opportunity then to show that this passage is speaking specifically about those boy prostitutes, though my view is that it is not.

Also, the points I would like to make before walking away from these passages, especially the second set are these:

1. The practice of homosexuality, whether in the form of rape or prostitution was much more widespread among the nations surrounding Israel than most people assume.
2. If we see that temple prostitution was taking place with homosexual behavior, then we can surmise that in some way homosexuality had become normative enough for this practice to take place. If we notice in these passages, the writers seem to point out specifically this practice, yet we know that temple prostitution was common in the worship of Baal and Asherah and that those female temple prostitutes were as young as the male ones. So it seems that in these passages, the writers inspired by the Holy Spirit put a great emphasis on the fact that this cult uses homosexual behavior for worship and thus condemns that aspect of it (seeing as all things being equal with regard to prostitutes and their ages).
3. Prostitution never begets sexuality, but rather the other way around. Sexuality begets prostitution. Had these people not had a desire for the homosexual sex, they wouldn't have set up prostitutes. So again we see the regular practice of homosexuality with no hint in the Biblical text that it was an accepted practice (and of course no reversal of the Law in Leviticus regarding the practice).
4. So, when people use the defense of the Bible's silence on the issue, it works both ways. Yes, there is very little in the Bible on this issue, but it seems that the Biblical writers didn't struggle with coming up with an answer. They viewed it in the same vein as they viewed temple prostitution, an activity not in line with the Law and with the worship of God.

So, like I said, while those passages do not paint a full picture of homosexuality, they do lend supportive evidence and give us a cultural and historical framework from which we can examine other texts.

Let me know your thoughts and then let's move on to the other texts with which you would like to deal.

Okay, we'll skip these passages (with the exception of 1 Corinthians) and go on. Allow me a moment's reflection upon your comments first.

1. I think I can agree with you that the Bible is largely silent in everyway about homosexuality - that is, not sayiing anything specifically in support of committed, same-sex marriages and questionably saying anything negative about them.

Where I go from there is largely the same direction we go when we can't find direct answers in the bible - we make it up! (just kidding). We try to discern God's will the best we can with the information at hand.

For instance, directly, literally in the Bible, one could come closer to making a case for slavery than against it. But taking into account God's nature as revealed in scripture, we know that slavery is not a good thing.

This would be largely how I wind up where I wind up with homosexuality (or have I given away the ending?).

On your other three points, I don't know that I have much to add. I don't know that I agree that the temple prostitution of children reflects in any way on either heterosexuality or homosexuality specifically.

Pedophilia is a different thing than adult sexuality, and I think perhaps the temple prostitution may have also been a different category altogether, but don't really know enough about the mores of the cultures involved to have an opinion.

Since you've said you're okay with it, then, we'll move on.

Dan,

If this is you as E.A. Club, then let me know. If not, then I am going to delete is as this person posing as you is unacceptable. I will await verification before going on.

Oops. My bad. That's me.

[The EA Club is my daughter’s little blog, by the way.]

So, setting aside the stories of rape and prostitution, by my accounting that leaves us with just two OT passages, both in Leviticus. These say:

Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. (18:22)

And,

If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (20:13)

I believe some translations say “It is an abomination,” instead of “detestable.”

Pretty strong language on the surface.

But, if one studies further and sees that these two passages are part of the Holiness Code – the set of rules laid down for Israel – and that this HC also calls eating shrimp, lobster and catfish (not catfish!) an abomination, might give one pause.

The HC has all manner of rules that we simply no longer hold as valid for us. For whatever reason, we no longer kill our disrespectful children, nor kill “men who lay with men” (as directly commanded), have a problem with wearing polyester (well, some of us do…) or follow many other rules laid out there in Leviticus.

Was God wrong for issuing those rules? Did God change God’s mind? Were those rules for a particular time for a particular reason?

Maybe all of the above?

Whichever. The point is, the HC is no longer a valid set of rules that we live by. Does that mean that every point made in the HC we ought to ignore? No. Just that an appearance in the HC is not enough reason for a doctrinal position.

What say ye?

Dan,
First, glad you straightened that out about the blogs, I was worried that someone was trying to play you on the blog.

Anyway, let me harken back to my comments previously so as to build on the foundation once laid.

1. I never meant to imply that the Bible was silent on homosexual behavior, but rather that people argue that is it silent. My point was that I acknowledge that there is more written about adultery and other sins, but it seems that there is just as much written on beastiality as is homosexuality. And my point was that if people claim that the Bible is generally silent, then the argument doesn't really help them, seeing as the few passages that do deal with homosexuality (HMS from now on) seem to paint it with a broad brush of sexual immorality and lump it in with sins of adultery and beastiality -- both of which we agree is wrong.

2. Homosexuality, including so-called "loving relationships" were visable in the time when the Law was written. There is ample historical evidence to suggest that male prostitution was an outflow of what was happening in the community, not an isolated activity. Hence, when the writers (and ultimately God) deal with this they don't do so with a complete ignorance of these types of relationships, but seem to make blanket statements in spite of their knowledge, as we shall see with the Levitical passages.

3. If homosexuality (both of the prostitute version, as well as the mutual "loving" kind) was common in the land of Canaan and God determined not to allow the Israelites to engage in the practices of their neighbors, then we can conclude that had there been exceptions on the basis of the type of HMS relationship, then He would have inspired the writers to pen these exceptions into the text instead of the blanket statements revealed in Leviticus. Furthermore, if God knows the future (or at least we can agree that he knows all the possibilities of the future), why would He have allowed such things to be entered into the text without an exception clause, especially since later loving sexual relations between men and women would become an overarching metaphor of Christ and His Church, something homosexual relationships seem to be disqualified from. If God's intent was to bless any loving relationship between two people (regardless of gender), then it seems problematic on God's part to allow such a sweeping indictment to be written in His Word.

Now, those are my preliminary thoughts before I come to the actual exegesis of the 2 verses in Leviticus.

Now, let's break these verses down. First, I take issue with your argument for dismissal on the grounds of these passages being in the Holiness Code and therefore since all Laws in the text are no longer valid, then none are for at least three reasons:

1. The immediate context of these verses is directly related to moral issues, some of which Jesus and Paul mentioned directly, and are still binding to us as Christians today. First, Lev.18:1-5 sets off a completely new section of the book. The prelude indicates that these laws are related to the morality and survival of Israel in the land. They are unlike those Laws that preceed them (which deal with priests, ritual cleansing and Hebrew cultic practices) and unlike those that come after them (which deal specifically with priests). In fact, in examining this section in relation to the rest of the book, it seems that Chapters 18-20 are specifically set apart and seem to have a specific structure to them, beginning with the prelude aluded to above.
2. When we actually begin examining the types of "law" in these passages, it becomes apparent that this section deals very much with moral issues. VV.6-20 speak about unveiling nakedness (modern-day pornography) as well as incest and indecent relationships. V.19 likely has to do with ritual purity, but is also practical because of disease (which is likely why these people in 20:18 they are cut off from their people to prevent disease) and then V.20 deals with adultery. V.21 is oddly placed, but still reflects a serious sin of child sacrifice. V.23 is about bestiality and then vv.24 to the end of the chapter are a restatement of the prelude. Stuck in the middle of all of this is the command: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."
3. So in your view, you would have to ignore that, in this context, every single verse deals with something that is universally immoral and then construct an argument from verses outside of these to reject this passage on the basis of those verses outside of this context.
4. Isn't the most casual reading one that sees that this act (which is clearly homosexuality -- I don't see any other way to take it and it seems that you have placed that as a given in your argument anyway) as, according to God, in line with all these other sexually immoral sins that have universal and timeless applicability, thus leading us to assume that God views HMS as (at least) just as much of a sin as pornography and in the same category as child sacrifice, adultery, and beastiality? I think you have to do some serious hermeneutical gymnastics to see it otherwise.

I think this alone is enough to indict homosexuality as a sin of moral proportions, applicable to all generations, especially in light of a casual reading of Romans 1, but let me go on to the second verse in this section that deals with HMS.

Chapter 19 begins much like 18, with a prelude (or prologue) in vv.1-3. Then the writer (when I say "writer" I assume that he is being led by the Holy Spirit, which I assume you do as well given that you believe in the inspiration and authority of the Bible) turns his attention to idolatry and in vv.4-8 he speaks on the Hebrew cult practice of peace offerings in contrast to that of the offerings of idol worshippers. The flow of the argument naturally takes him to speaking on agricultural practices, which legitimizes the command of v.9, which in turn gives the context for v.10, a verse that shows God's compassion for the needy and would obviously be a law of morality that is universally binding (though we must take into account their agricultural society and the nomadic nature of the poor at that time). VV.11-18a sound very much like an exposition of the 10 commandments (again, universal, timeless moral commands that you and I would accept as sinful to disobey). Now, look carefully at vv.18 and 19a. These two should not be separated, but due to tradition they have been. Likely v.18 should end with "but you shall love your neighbor as yourself," thus summarizing the previous 8 verses. Then the next phrase, "I am the Lord" (v18b) should be combined with the next "You are to keep my statutes" (v19a), just as we have seen in the prologue of Chapter 18 (though with a couple of other phrases between them). Still it is obvious to Hebrew scholars that these fit together and thus bring closure to this section making a very neat and easily noticed chiastic structure.

Now, take note of v.19, the one in which you mentioned in your post. It seems oddly placed among the rest and functions almost as an addendum. To throw out all these verses on the basis of this small verse oddly placed, with no indication of punishment for violation of such a command seems silly now in light of the greater context. I think somehow this verse was misplaced in the text (possibly by bad copying and editing) and might should have been better located after v.9, placing it within the context of practical agricultural practices relevant to the peace offering or it could be that the following verses 20-22 are out of place due to the same reasons. In any case, the next few verses are randomly grouped together but can be easily divided into agricultural practices (which ultimately will be for their good and the good of the poor, bringing justice to the land, unlike the pagan practices of the Canaanites) and Laws related to morality and idolatry, both of which again are legally binding. Still, breaks are found throughout the text and even end this chapter, which are set off by the phrase "I am the Lord". The chapter ends with a longer conclusion, "You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them; I am the Lord." So while this chapter is somewhat random, there is legitimate structure and a sense of some copying flaws that might have made the text read better and more in context. Even so, like all copying flaws in the Bible, they are generally easily recongnizable and pose no threat to the message (unless of course, they are over-emphasized, to the detriment of the overall text -- that is of course what German liberal scholars did, ending up with a theory of a completely corrupted text that has no bearing on our lives today).

Now, let's move on to Chapter 20, where we find another mention of homosexuality. The chapter is once again offset by the phrase, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying..." VV.2b-6 deal specifically with the sin of idolatry and its cultic practices (child sacrifice). So here the Lord begins with a major morality issue. Once again the is closure to the section with v.7-8 (another chiastic structure, this time in the midst of a larger structure). V.9 is another verse you mention in your post, but when you examine it in context, it seems that we notice two things -- 1) regardless of the punishment it is still universally immoral to curse one's parents, 2) the punishment prescribed seems to indicate that more is going on in these verses than a simple hot-headed utterance of "screw you" offered as a teenager walks out the door. This might have been in reference to cultic practices of the Canaanites who had to curse their parents in order to enter fully into the cult. Regardless of the deeper meaning those two things still hold true in this verse and again it is not enough to ignore what comes afterwards. VV.10-16 sound very much like those verses in chapter 18, except with punishments attached. Then vv.17-21 are almost exactly like their counterparts in chapter 18 regarding mestration and revealing nakedness (pornography) followed by a long closing argument in vv.22-24, which possibly extends to v.26 with an insertion of v.25 again in an odd place. V.27 is another misplaced verse which is further implicated as such by the conjuntion "now" and the following verse being that of Leviticus 21:1 which clearly sets off another section. So in examining this chapter in light of itself, it is obviously moral in its application, with nothing else within it that suggests that v.13, "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death; their bloodguiltiness is upon them," should be discarded or ignored in any way. The entire chapter, and the entire section of Leviticus 18-20 reveals itself to be a chiastic structure of the highest kind, which adds to the overwhelming evidence that it is to be examined in light of it's moral implications. So let's draw the following conclusions:

1. The two verses regarding homosexuality in the Law (or Holiness Code, as you called it), Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, are set off into a section (chapters 18-20) dealing specifically with moral issues, those of universal and timeless application.
2. Furthermore, the immediate contexts of both verses are found to be smashed between verses that we agree are speaking about sexual immorality that is also universal and timeless and which are spoken against in the New Testament by both Jesus and Paul.
3. The context of these two verses is such that it the author makes it difficult to ignore them in the greater context of sexually immoral activity. And there is no indication that any exception is granted regarding so-called "loving" relationships, though they were known to exist in that time period and were apart of the Canaanite culture.
4. Furthermore, rejecting the entirety of the Holiness Code (especially those verses set off in this context) would be inappopriate given the universal application of these texts to all of Judeo-Christian tradition.
5. Finally, in light of Jesus own words in Matthew 5:17-18, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill; For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished" and the fact that buried within the chaistic structure of chapters 18-20 is the moral essence of the law, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev.19:18 -- which chiastically might be the very center of the stucture, thus making it the focal point of this entire passage -- lending even more weight to its universal application), I conclude that these two verses today are just as binding as they have ever been and thus homosexuality is roundly denounced by the Biblical writers as being sexually immoral regardless of the type practiced (prostitution, adulterous, or muturally consentual in a committed relationship).

I now rest and await your rebuttal.

Very dense, thought-out response, DR. You're obviously much more
learned than I, but for what it's worth:

1. I was not dismissing the Holiness Code, merely indicating that just
because a rule appears in the HC is not reason enough to include it in
our theology. There has to be something more. I'd think we could agree upon that, yes?

You don't, after all, call for killing gays, even though that is very specifically stated and that rule is never ammended by Jesus or anyone else and we have no reason to accept "laying with men" as wrong and not accept "and they must be killed.

We do not accept the HC, point blank. Nor any sections therein. Which leads to my second point.

2. You state, “Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, are set off into a section (chapters 18-20) dealing specifically with moral issues, those of universal and timeless application.”

And fine, but says you, right? I mean, does the Bible somehow identify those specifically, indicating “GOD has said, THESE verses must be taken literally and those over there, well, God just wasn’t that serious…”

And this sort of gets to the heart of where we may have differences – how do we know how to interpret scripture? Who says that those three chapters are set off by themselves, distinct from the rest of the HC.

There is no code, no key to indicate which passages have passed into irrelevance and which ones haven’t. It’s an extrabiblical convention tied to our cultural traditions.

Why do we not stone gay folk or disobedient children? Why do we not accept slavery? What changed? Why is it okay to wear polyester now?

Why? Because we have to do some interpretation of the Bible for ourselves. And when we do so, some of us are going to reach different conclusions. I find it abundantly clear that Jesus was opposed to war, you may not. We have to interpret the scriptures with God’s help and we’re going to reach different conclusions.

It really is difficult to deal with each issue you raised, just because of space limitations. How about if I offer this much for now (as I think this latter line of thinking is the crux of our differences) and if you have specific points you’d like me to address, please ask.

In pondering it a bit more, I thought I'd point out that we're sort of talking about two issues, here. One, homosexuality and the Bible.

And we can continue to discuss the remaining handful of verses that we’ll find in the NT and their relevance to the topic (or not).

But, for me, the bigger issue – and the reason I originally responded – is the question of what we do with the problem of sin.

I think we can acknowledge that we won’t get everything right – that is, there will be some things that we think are sins that aren’t and some that we think aren’t sins that are.

There are two problems:
1. Knowing sins and avoiding them, and
2. Knowing sins! (That is, rightly divining God’s will to know what we ought do.)

I’m guessing that you would agree that our fallen nature and limited genius will not allow us to recognize each sin as such. And so, it is entirely possible that we will live and die thinking that X is not a sin when, in fact, X is a sin.

So then, what? Will God damn us for our mistake?

Or, does it depend upon the “size” of the mistake?

That is, if I think smoking is allowed by God but actually, God would just as soon I didn’t smoke (ie, that it was a sin), I’ve sinned. BUT, it’s a “little” sin. God will recognize that I just was too dumb to know that smoking was a sin.

If, on the other hand, I’m a Hitler and I think I’m doing God’s will by exterminating millions of people, which is, of course, wrong. So, because it’s a “big” sin, God will not pardon it…?

What if I’m the guy that dropped bombs on Hiroshima, thinking it just? Will God forgive that big sin (assuming that it’s wrong)?

To be honest, I think it’s a rather tricky line of thinking. We orthodox evangelicals will recognize that we are all sinners saved by God’s grace alone and that we are to turn from our sins. But what if we try to turn from our sins and are just plain wrong? Are there certain sins that will condemn us and others that won’t? If so, which ones? Where do we find justification for saying that some sins are damn-worthy and some aren’t?

I’ve opinions, but I thought I’d open up to see what you have to say, if you want to follow this stray thread instead of/in addition to the homosexual one.

Sorry for muddying the waters.

Dan,

I am going to go ahead and quickly answer your post in as vague and general a way as possible because I do want to stay on the topic of homosexuality and though I admit that understanding sin is important, I cannot keep up with this many posts, given my penchant for verbosity.

I think the view the Bible presents is that not all sins are equal, though all sins are equally damning (i.e., one sin may be greater than another in offense to God, but both murder and telling a white lie are able to send one to hell were these the only two sins on earth). Sin seems to work itself out in terms of lifestyle vs. committal. One may commit a sin, but not live a lifestyle of that sin. The lifestyle being the more offensive of the two. Since God calls us to repentence the lifestyle would fly in the face of this direct command and thus be more offensive to God. Individual sins committed sporatically do not indicate lifestyle, though they could be grouped in categories which would be in essence lifestyle sins. For example one might do drugs three times in their life. We obviously wouldn't say that they lived a lifestyle of drug use. Also, though, they might get drunk once a months. Again probably not a lifestyle. But they also commit acts of formication on occasion, as well as possibly tax evasion and some form of cheating. All in all each sin is not a lifestyle, but put together, it reveals that this person is living a life in pursuit of pleasure, not God, and thus their sins are compounded. Still, we all do this so what is the difference.

The difference is Christ and the repentent heart that is given to us at salvation and the bestowal of faith and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We might still occasionally commit those sins spoken above, but when looked at from a lifestyle perspective and taking our hearts into account, it will show we have lived a life not seeking pleasure, but of repentence and seeking God so that we might overcome sin and draw close to Him.

But just so no one gets confused, let me say that we are not saved by our works (AT ALL!). We can never be rid of sin and we can never be good enough to earn heaven. We are saved through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone for the glory of God alone (did I get all 5 solas in there?). That means that a true Christian's heart will change the evidence of which will be a life lived that is repentant, not free from sin, but rather free from the power of sin's grip on their lives. A Christian can now overcome sin in their lives. They do not have to live in sin and will not desire to do so. They may sin, but they will always come back to Christ for forgiveness, not as a sacramental event, but as a true heart-felt emotional desire for a mending of their relationship with God.

So how does this apply to homosexuality? Well, I believe that those who live an unrepentant homosexual lifestyle are not saved. I think homosexuality is a sin in line with adultery and other sexual sins that the lifestyle of which is incompatible with the Christian life. The Christian may stumble and engage in homosexual sex, but never will he or she live in a "committed" homosexual relationship because it would be an evidence that his or her heart has not truly been changed.

There is grace. Paul makes that clear, but then says in Romans 6 the following,

"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (ESV).

Now, that is all I am going to say about that for now. But I encourage you to read the rest of Paul's argument regarding sin in chapters 7-8 of Romans. Galatians and James are also of importance when dealing with this important issue.

Thanks, Daniel. Having been brought up So Baptist, I'm well aware of all of that, and that is as I would expect. It's fairly orthodox evangelicism, right?

But then, what of the person who has searched the scriptures and determined that Action X is no sin - even though Daniel thinks it is a sin. The person then engaging in Action X is not deliberately turning from God. They are, in fact, striving to live a Godly life and accepting Jesus' gift of salvation.

If X = drinking, are they damned? How about if X = lying? What if X = having a gay partner, then are they damned?

If you suspect that having the gay partner will condemn them, why, if they've searched the scriptures and settled the matter in their hearts, why would that one action that you consider a sin condemn them but not drinking or lying?

Now, getting back to the topic at hand, let me address you point by point.

1. If you were not dismissing the HC (as you call it, though I prefer the term "Law" since it is used throughout the O&NT's), then I do not see how else you can negate the specific moral commands given in this passage. Either you must ignore them all (rendering the text obsolete and unuseful, which defies Jesus' words I mentioned in the above post as well as Paul's words above and his words in Galatians 3:15ff). And even if you could pick a verse here or there stripped from it's context here or there to either obey or disobey, then by what basis or consistant hermeneutical principle would you use?

Furthermore, by your hermeneutic (means of interpretation) we would also have to re-examine our views on beastiality, since we find no other texts dealing with this issue in the Bible. And what about incest, since we find even less evidence outside of the Law against this? Should we likewise ignore the Law on this issue? Finally, even if no other texts were in the Bible (which is not true) regarding HMS, the context alone (sitting alongside the universally accepted sexual sins of incest, rape, beastiality, and adultery), along with the severity of the punishment (showing this to be a very serious offense) this would be enough to conclude that God believed HMS to be a sin and forbade the Israelites from doing it. For this to be discounted you would have to prove that it has been soundly discarded by the later OT writers or the NT writers (which we obviously don't find, but instead a passage in Romans 1 that again reveals the sinfulness of homosexuality). The argument falls with you, not with me to show that this is not a part of the universal moral code that endures and is a teacher to us as Paul said, showing us what is and is not sin.

Now, my argument that homosexuality is sinful is strengthened, (not weakened or negated, as you suggest) by the punishment prescribed for such an action. If you read all of the Law (or even all of the OT) you will not find one sin that has a prescibed punishment of death that is not thought today by Christians to be sinful. And many, if not most, of them the state agrees are worthy of incarceration. These include idolatry, incest, child molestation, kidnapping, witchcraft, beastiality, prostitution, adultery, human sacrifice, and of course cursing your parents (which, ironically Jesus refers to in Matthew 15, including in his charge against the Pharisees the punishment, "He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death", yet uses this verse to indict them). Jesus doesn't seem to negate the one phrase despite the inclusion of the second ("they shall be put to death"), so why should we. You would likely believe that Jesus is not an advocate of capital punishment for this offense, but yet He still validates it's reality as sin. How do you get around Jesus' own usage of this text?

Also, though, as that weren't enough, our own legal system in America is constantly changing in regard to punishments, but yet stays consistent in regards to the criminality of an offense itself. For instance, in the case of child molestation, it is a good thing that the penalty for such an act has actually gotten steeper in the last 20 years. In the case of murder, the penalties have generally been reduces, as there was a time in American history where every state in the Union had capital punishment as the due penalty for such an act. The same is true for hundreds of offenses, yet no one has ever suggested that a lightening in punishment negates the criminality of the act.


2. In regards to your second point, I must ask first, did you follow along with my argument through the text or did you simply respond based on your prior reading of the text? Please be honest, as I am sure you will be.

If you did read along with the argument, examining the text as you read what I wrote, I do not understand how you could not see obvious structure in the text. The book of Leviticus, contrary to popular belief, is very structured and legitimately so. The structure of the Books helps to reveal it's message, as any Hebrew scholar (Evangelical or otherwise will tell you -- though those that buy into a radical documentary hypothesis deconstruct the text so much that they are either unwilling or unable to see patterns of thought and so employ narrative criticism, as I have done -- which by the way has been championed as the new means of hermeneutics by postmoderns like McLaren and John Franke -- Additionally, though to buy into radical documentary hypothesis one would have to deny Scriptural inspiration, which you obviously do not) would tell you. In order to arrive at such a conclusion I did not just pick and choose which texts or sins I would take literally and which ones I would not. I take all of them literally. The difference doesn't come in literality vs. figurativenss, but rather in understanding the types of laws given in the passage (moral, ceremonial (cultic), or civil). Even in this one passage we see some ceremonial laws and some moral laws mixed. Yet, the structure reveals the differences quite easily. For instance, the question you asked regarding polyester -- it seems that there is some evidence that suggest that wearing mixed materials was done superstitously in Canaanite culture so as to ward off evil spirits or the such. In this regard, a commandment not to do so would be one that would preserve the difference between the pagan nations and that of Israel. Still, this is abundantly evident once one researches the issue and explores its historical context. Another reason why this might be is because in the context the author is once again offering agricultural and practical advice regarding meshing one thing with another -- no mixing of cattle breeds, causing them to be sterile and unproductive, no mixing of seeds, resulting in the destruction of the crops if for instance you mixed oats and wheat togther in the same field, and then no mixing of fabrics, which might have resulted in another problem for which we may never understand. Still, if you believe that this one prohibition of HMS is not enough to define it as a sin, then how is this one instance of the prohibition of mixed fabrics enough to disregard the moral essence of this passage?

You are right that interpretation is important, but we cannot go around interpreting the Bible as we see fit, picking and choosing arbitrarily which passages we will obey and which we will disregard. The Pentecostals love to do this -- they see a passage on prosperity and cling to it, but one on sharing and living moderately they ignore. I understand this. That is why I advocate for a more structured, learned means of interpreting the Bible. When the SBC higher-ups decided to reconsider the term soul-competency and the phrasing of "the priesthood of all believers" which was being misinterpreted to read "the priesthood of the believer" they did so because of this issue - one's qualification to interpret Scripture based solely on their own baises, rather than on a researched and reasoned method. Any method of interpretation should first be consistant and second take into account issues like textual criticism (as I did in the previous post on this passage), structure of the passage, genre, word choice in the original languages, and narrative thought. Neither Christ nor any other Biblical writer exhorted us to read a passage and then interpret it based on what first popped into our minds or based on our mood or what we think the Holy Spirit is saying at that time. No, in fact Paul commissioned Timothy (and therefore us): "Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." He also told him to "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (some translations say, "Study to show yourself approved") Luke praises the Bereans for this: "they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures
every day to see if what Paul said was true" and Ezra is said to have "set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel."

Now, am I saying you have to have a seminary degree or years of experience to interpret the Bible? (Me Genoito -- pronounced "may GEN oy toe" meaning MAY IT NEVER BE!) But you should have a consistent method and you should see help in interpreting Scripture. I hope we both agree that there is only one right interpretation to any given passage, though there may by many applications. One thing that I learned in hermeneutics class is this and I think it is a trustworthy saying, "A text can never mean what it never meant" meaning we must determine the author's original intent and what it meant to his audience. Then we go from there taking into account all the other variables.

If God is not the God of confusion and His is One and calls for His people to be One, then that to me entails that there is but one right interpretation to every Scripture and thus only one of us is right. Either you are right and God regards committed homosexual relationships as reflective of His love and a picture of Christ and the Church, or I am right and homosexual relationships of any kind are unnatural to the order God set up and thus sinful in His eyes. But more is at stake here than our pride and who wins the debate -- there are eternal consequences, maybe not for us, but for our hearers, even as Paul told Timothy, "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."

Let me close this section by recommending a book to you. Follow the link below.

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart. It is well worth the read and very helpful in understanding hermeutics.

We should disagree about the interpretation of any Scripture and eventually we will find out that we were all wrong about something. Luther said that at least 10% of all of our theology is wrong, and as a professor of mine used to say, "I hope my 10% is eschatology."

I don't have any specific other questions to ask other than the ones I have raised in the passage. Let me know if after reading this you have any other rebuttals or questions for me. I hope I have adequately answered your questions of me.

As a personal note, let me say that I am greatly enjoying this irenic and level-headed discussion. I appreciate your questions and your challenges and I look forward to continuing on. May God bless us both as we seek His truth through His Word.

Dan, as I said before, I can't keep both these discussions going so this will be brief

But then, what of the person who has searched the scriptures and determined that Action X is no sin - even though Daniel thinks it is a sin. The person then engaging in Action X is not deliberately turning from God. They are, in fact, striving to live a Godly life and accepting Jesus' gift of salvation.

Then I can only pray for them. I do believe they are in the wrong and yes their soul is in danger. Their lack of wisdom in making such a decision indicates to me that they are not of God, even as in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul believed that the unrepentence of these people suggested that they were not of Christ. Notice that he didn't challenge their spirituality or take into account if they were generally "good" people, but rather the fact that they were unrepentent about something that seemed so clear to him (an issue that again ironically is dealt with in that same passage in Leviticus). I cannot cast people out of the Church universal. In today's world, homosexuals can join various churches that do not believe as I and the vast majority of Evangelicsls do, but I am obligated to rightly divide the Word of God and give an account for my beliefs, which I believe I am doing here. It is not because I hate these people that I believe this or because I have a vendetta against homosexuals, but because I believe they are being decieved by Satan and thus their souls are in danger. If I cared not for them, I wouldn't preach homosexuality as sin, even as Paul wouldn't have had these person cast out of the church and prayed for that God would "deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." That is love!


If X = drinking, are they damned? How about if X = lying? What if X = having a gay partner, then are they damned?

See the discussion on lifestyle v. individual sin. If one is convinced that drunkedness and a lifestyle of lying is not sin despite these verses,

1. "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
--and--
2. "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev.21:8),

...then I do not know what else to tell them. They ignore Scripture at the peril of their souls. The same is true of HMS. I cannot convince those that are decieved, but rather can only pray that God would break through and show them their sin. This might make you mad that I am saying this or may sound arrogant to you, but look at how Paul acted and even how Jesus acted in the face of sin. Not that I am either one, but I am trying to be true to Scripture, to the Holy Spirit, and to my conscience. Again, I cannot convince, but I am compelled to preach!

If you suspect that having the gay partner will condemn them, why, if they've searched the scriptures and settled the matter in their hearts, why would that one action that you consider a sin condemn them but not drinking or lying?

I never said that the HMS lifestyle was any less damning than one of drunkedness or lying. I said some sins were more offensive to God, as well as some lifestyles, but equally those sins need to be repented of to bring a Christian into right fellowship with God, and those lifestyles MUST be repented of less one prove himself or herself to not be of the faith as Paul says to his hearers, "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-- unless indeed you fail the test?"

I hope this clears some things up.

Wow. This is getting massive. How to respond to all this? Let me take a bite or two off.

You said:

"See the discussion on lifestyle v. individual sin. If one is convinced that drunkedness and a lifestyle of lying is not sin despite these verses..I do not know what to say..."

OK. So, what if I said that, "If someone doesn't know that supporting war is a sin in spite of these verses...(Jesus on loving enemies, etc), I do not know what to say..."

If you're wrong on war and God doesn't want us supporting war, then are you saying that you're hellbound?

I'd really like to try to cipher out this tangent (which is pretty central to the discussion, I think) if we can before we move on.

Can one not be mistaken and still be Christian? I think you understand I'm not talking about reading the Bible and realizing that murder is a sin, but chooses to delightfully continue living a murderous lifestyle, but one who reads the bible and doesn't find X to be a sin?

To be fair, I'll let you know that I think that if someone actually think that Child-killing is a good thing, I can't see them entering God's Kingdom. If someone believes that bombing Hiroshima is a good thing, I'd have to wonder.

So, I reckon I'm not totally disagreeing with you. I think if someone who wishes to be a Christian but is doing something that is so anti-Christian, that even if they think it's in Jesus' name, God may well say, "depart from me, I never knew you."

But I don't know that I would draw my list so large as you seem willing to draw it. I just am a bit reluctant in my fallen nature to say which folk have chosen to reject God and which ones haven't.

Even those Christians who embrace actions such as Hiroshima-bombing type of destruction, I understand that they think they're doing a good thing - even though it is a clearly hellish action to me - I would not tend to talk about them in terms of "you're going to hell" but rather in terms of concern for them. I wouldn't say to them, "You're not a christian," but rather I'd probably question how they can see Christ in those actions.

You get what I'm saying? Even though I may agree with you on one level - just because you THINK an action is Christlike, doesn't mean that it is - I wouldn't use the language that traditional Christians tend to use in reference to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

That's what I'm trying to get at - do you reckon I ought to be more virulent in my attack of those who support war - calling them "Not Christian" and hellbound? Or should traditionalists be more humble in their tirades against gays - stop calling the "Not Christian" and hellbound?

Or none of the above?

I'm guessing you think that if Person A is convinced that Action X is not a christian action and those who perform X are hellbound, then person A ought to denounce the action and those who perform it, letting them know that they're Not Christian and Hellbound.

Sorry for the lengthy response.

Let me take a stab at what traditionalists might say (what I might have said at one point):

First, the standard stuff:
1. We are saved by God's good gift, which we can accept or not.
2. In accepting God's grace, we also say that we will no longer deliberately sin and, when we do, we'll ask for forgiveness for that sin.

[Next, the more complicated stuff:]
3. It is possible to do the above and, yet, because we are not perfect in our knowledge, we may continue to deliberately take actions (or inaction) that are, in fact, SIN - even though we are convinced that they are not.

[and trickier, yet:]
4. Most of the time (?), this is not a problem. Suppose saying cuss words actually is a sin, but we're not aware of it - think it's perfectly fine. God is not going to condemn us for that lack of awareness on our part.
5. BUT, some of the time, certain sins are so egregious that we cannot possibly inherit the Kingdom. Eating children, genocide, BIG stuff. EVEN IF one were convinced that these actions are what God wants, they are so clearly NOT what God wants that we can safely say that those who participate in such will not inherit the kingdom.

Is that orthodox? What you believe, or in the ballpark?

If so, then, what sins might that list include and what human institution decides what sins are on the list? Most of us can easily agree upon certain actions (genocide, child abuse, pedophilia) that are clearly ungodly, but would others of us would expand that list to include:

a. pretty much all sexual activities outside of marriage and some inside of marriage,
b. not accepting the Bible as God's infallible Word
c. acceptance of women preachers?
d. others...?

Would any such list be extrabiblical or would you reference a passage such as 1 Cor. 6 ("Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.")?

If that is the case, then I reckon we ought to be careful of anything that those words might imply (does sexual perverts include gays? Does thieves include capitalists?), because even if we don't think what we're doing is perverted or thievery, if we're wrong about it, we're hellbound. Is that what you'd think?

Okay, I really will quit now and wait for a response.

I enjoy reading these discussions, but it is difficult for me to see people have so much trouble accepting God's Word as the authority. I feel sure that Dan T. is a good person himself, but why are inerrency believers perceived as unloving as well as quite a few other unfavorable adjectives? It should be the desire of Christians for everyone to come to repentence and faith in Jesus Christ, thereby receiving the Holy Spirit to convict and teach us His ways and to be able to discern what is Truth. There are some things that I think we just know are wrong, but in our fallen nature we choose to sear our conscience and be disobedient. As Christians, we will be disciplined if we continue in sin or we are not His Child. I believe that is what His Word teaches. I also believe that God's Word is unchanging, even if the culture changes.
Marilyn

"why are inerrency believers perceived as unloving as well as quite a few other unfavorable adjectives?"

I've not portrayed anyone here in this conversation as unloving. That's not even the purpose of this discussion.

Remember Marilyn, I've held this position that Daniel holds and moved from the position that homosexuality is wrong mostly unwillingly and only by God's leading and Bible study.

I understand fully that probably most christians opposed to "the gay lifestyle" love gays and want the best for them - I know I did. I've not called anyone a homophobe (although there are plenty of them out there).

And it IS my desire that everyone follow Jesus' way. I simply disagree with the notion that a loving gay relationship is defined as wrong in the Bible or by God.

Dan T., You may not have described inerrency believers as I described, but many of your friends sites that I read certainly do and I have not seen you defend us. I do not know why you have changed your beliefs about what is sin, but I do not think the Bible supports you. I pray that you will continue to search the scriptures and invite the Holy Spirit to be your teacher. I am much older than you and I am still seeking to know Christ better and to love and understand His Word in the way that He would have me. May God bless your search. Marilyn

Why thank you very much, Miss Marilyn.

And you, as well.

By the way, which friends' sites are you referencing?

And, as I said, I agreed with you and Daniel strongly the first 20 years of my Christian life and yet I changed my firmly held positions because I studied the Bible further and realized the dearth of evidence on the side of condemning homosexuality and by God's good grace.

What else can I say? That's how it happened.

Dan, first off sorry for the delay, but apparently Insight is having some problems with your ISP BellSouth these days and it is causing havoc on the servers.

Anyway, speaking of homosexuality, Dan, you haven't dealt with the issues I discussed in my latest post and while I have been patient in answering your questions, you have deviated from the path and I would like for us to get back on. So, I am going to answer your latest comment on sin and that will suffice now. There will be no more discussion on the new topic until the debate on homosexuality is complete. There is no use in talking about what sins are incompatible with the Christian lifestyle if we can't finish our debate on whether homosexuality is a sin at all, which, from your last comment to Marilyn, you still seem to believe is not.

So, before I go on regarding sin, let me say that this is a tough discussion to go through without backing up a whole lot and starting with Adam and Eve and going from there. We don't necessarily have time for that, so here goes my shortened version.

1. Christ came to save sinners from the death that would result from their sin. Hebrews is clear that God had previously passed over these sins from time past and at the point of the crucifixion and resurrection, atoned for all sins past and present for those who He had or would bring to faith in Christ.

2. Those for whom Christ died are those who will come to Christ and be united with Him by grace and through the vehicle of faith, which is granted by the Holy Spirit at the moment of repentence. This faith is not by works, but is inevitably accompanied by a desire to break free from sin and follow Christ.

3. At the moment of salvation all sin in the new believers heart is forgiven, but that doesn not mean we stop sinning. It may not mean that we stop sinning egregiously, but that we are, by the power of the Holy Spirit, freed from the power and grip of sin and thus are now able to battle sin and "mortify the deeds of the flesh" (as John Owen wrote).

4. The Bible seems to make it abundantly clear that the life of the believer is lived out in continual repentence of sin and in a growing sanctification. Theologians often use the term "Lordship Salvation" to speak of the fact that one is not saved and yet not changed, but rather when salvation comes, it is accompanied by a change of heart and a desire to remove sin continually until death, though there will be ups and downs in our Christian walk.

5. Still, Paul, John, and James clearly state in various places in their writing that sanctification is the mark of the believer. Baptists traditionally believe in what they call, "once saved always saved," which is a poorly termed carry over from their Calvinist background, which is there called "Perseverance of the Saints" (a much better and more theologically precise term). This means that a Christian will endure to the end, lest by stumbling and falling away from the faith he or she shows himself or herself to have never been of the faith at all.

6. The doctrines of "the perseverance of the saints" and "lordship salvation" (which is well spelled-out in John MacArthur's two books, The Gospel According to Jesus and The Gospel According to the Apostles are essential to understanding the theology of Paul who said in Phil.3,

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you."

It is clear that Paul understood that salvation was at once something that one already had and yet at the same time something that the Christian continued to stive for, thus revealing that he or she was indeed in Christ.

7. Now, going on to the topic of sin, specifically sin in the Christian life, let me say two preliminary things. 1)Sin will never be completely eradicated from a Christians life, and 2)The Christian should always be striving to do so. Having said that, let me say that there are likely sins that we never know we are committing as Christians that God will call for us to account for on the Judgement Day. But there are also sins that we do indeed know we are committing that we will be held accountable to on an even greater scale on Judgement Day (now this judgement is the one described by Paul in 2 Cor. 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad"). So whether we sin knowingly or unknowingly, we still sin and thus are to be held accountable to that which offends God.

8. Now, in regards to your questions on one sinning without knowing and one sinning egregiously without knowing -- I would say this: The Bible seems clear that there are certain lifestyles and some sins that are completely incompatible with the Christian life when it becomes clear that one's life is marked by them. I believe homosexuality is one of those because of its particular mention in Leviticus 18 and 20, along with the connotation of it being "detestable" or an "abomination," as well as it's placement along side of other sins which God seems to see as completely ungodly and incompatible with His Law, including incest, rape, adultery, child sacrifice, and idolatry. None of these sins would we believe could one be a Christian and continually participate in without repentence. Neither then is homosexuality.

Finally, Dan, I don't know this, but it seems that you are trying to suggest some kind of "lowest common denominator" when it comes to sin in the life of the believer. What is the most sin that one can do and still be a Christians? What sins can one commit knowingly and still be a Christians? Which ones unknowingly? But we must all test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. I cannot compel you to see things my way, but I hope that I am making a firm case from the Scriptures and if one who is struggling with homosexuality sees this and turns away from it, then I believe I have been used by God as the means He appointed to save my brother or sister from turning from the faith. You see in my theological perspective, I believe God preserves His people and keeps His children in the faith by means of sanctifying them and preparing them for final salvation, the inheritance of eternal life. For more on this see Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Canaday's fine work, The Race Set Before Us.

Dan, after dialoguing with you for a short time it is evident that 1) you recieved a rather bad education from those who were in charge of you while you were an Evangelical, 2)That reveals the failure of the church in the last few decades to do the work of theological training, 3)That you have not read much Evangelical theology, and 4)That you likely aren't going to change your mind now.

Now, none of those things is meant to be a slam on you at all, but rather honest observations. I challenge you to take up some reading by Evangelical scholars and study along with them as they transverse the Scriptures. You have some stereotypes as to what Evangelicals believe that I do not have the time to either discuss or attempt to diffuse. But I do want to point you to a couple of resources that I think you should pick up that might answer some more of your questions.

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
and
The John MacArthur Study Bible (NASB) edition

I think if you would read through some more scholarly Evangelical work then you might see how and why we interpret the way we do and how we do systematic theology. I realize that you feel that you once were an Evangelical and that is enough, but I honestly think you were misled and misinformed during that time. I appreciate your passion and your kind heart, but I think that you need to meld those with a solid theological perspective, which I honestly don't think you have.

Now, I know you will be itching to respond to this post and you have likely been formulating the whole time you have been reading on exactly how to respond to me, but I again ask you to refrain until our discussion of homosexuality is over. This is still my blog, though I allowed you to take the lead on the debate. But since it steered off course I am going to take the wheel and steady it back. So please return to my previous post on homosexuality and answer the quesitons therein and respond to my exegesis of the text and my critiques of your arguments regarding the text and my previous comment. I trust you will do so.

Thanks again and may God continue to bless our time spent in His Word and for His glory.

Daniel, you really need to understand that I was raised in a solidly So Bapt church and do understand ALLLL of that you've said there. I believed all that longer than you've been alive, probably.

I'm asking questions not out of ignorance but out of an effort to get you to establish where you are on this point. Which is as I stated ["Let me take a stab at what traditionalists might say"], I believe, although you didn't really respond to my post.

We both agree that there are some choices that we can make that are incompatible with Christ's teachings.

You stated it this way:
"I would say this: The Bible seems clear that there are certain lifestyles and some sins that are completely incompatible with the Christian life when it becomes clear that one's life is marked by them."

Fine. But the reason I was wanting us to think about this is to try to determine what grounds we have for making such determinations. Christians have an awful history of making determinations on "who's in and who's out," and that has been done extrabiblically, for the most part.

I apologize for the sidetrack but as we began to engage in the conversation, it occurred to me that there is this over-arching concern of why we exclude some believers who disagree with us and I thought it would be helpful to keep that in mind as we have this discussion.

So, although I feel we're talking past each other, I'll return to your homosexuality posts. Thanks for your patience.

May we take this at small bites at a time?

1. I've made the suggestion that we can't accept the line "men laying with men is an abomination" as applicable to us merely because it is found in the Law of the OT. I said that because none of us accepts the Law in toto.

This does not totally negate the Law (it remains true that we ought not murder), but just that finding a rule in the Law is not justification in and of itself for us to obey it.

Daniel stated:

"If you were not dismissing the Law, then I do not see how else you can negate the specific moral commands given in this passage."

I don't understand this question, Daniel. We do negate some specific commands given in the Law. You do, I do.

We eat shrimp, even though God called it an abomination to do so. We don't kill "men who lay with men," even though that's a direct command from God in the Law.

And you know I could go on and on. We all negate portions of the Law and rightly so.

You're not suggesting otherwise, are you?

That's one point that I'd like to have clarified, as I'm not sure of what you're suggesting.

2. You stated:
"The immediate context of these verses is directly related to moral issues, some of which Jesus and Paul mentioned directly, and are still binding to us as Christians today."

To which I must ask: Says who? Where in the Bible does it state that chapters 18-20 of Leviticus are still binding? Are the whole of those chapters still binding? Including no intercourse when a woman is menstruating? Including killing gays? Including leaving a portion of your goods to the poor?

You state:
"So in your view, you would have to ignore that, in this context, every single verse deals with something that is universally immoral"

Every single verse of chapter 18, or of 18-20? I don't know that is the case at all that it is universally considered immoral to have sex with a menstruating woman.

Yes, I will agree that most of those rules are good rules against immoral behavior. But, again, we don't live by all those rules, we must have something beyond Leviticus to cause us to say these rules are good and applicable.

Do you hear me saying that this does NOT negate the whole of the Law, but rather that we must withhold judgement to see if there are other supporting reasons?

In the case of leaving a portion of our goods for the poor, I find loads of support in the OT, in Jesus' teachings and in the NT, as well as in human compassion and reason.

In the case of sex with animals, I find other supporting reasons not within scripture at all but within what I would call human decency and love of God's creation.

In the case of sex during a woman's menses, I find no other supporting reasons for a ban, either in the Bible or in God-given reason.

If you could clarify if we're in agreement here or not, I'll be glad to continue.

Dan,

I love how you restate your position without responding to my answers to it. I answered you regarding the specific verses that in that context we do not universally hold to today, specifically the having sex with a menstrating woman. I noted that it was likely due to specific concerns over disease and uncleanliness (remember these guys didn't have any soap!). Also, you totally ignored my whole argument on punishment v. moral command. You didn't deal with my argument on our own changing punishments, nor the greater argument of Jesus' own words in Matthew 15 in which He uses a passage from the Law, directly parallel to verses found in this passage. Also, while I have focused on this passage, you still tend to go outside of it (without explaining how my argument of chiastic structure and its setting off as a specific passage within the whole of Leviticus could be ignored) and focus on Laws not related to these of this passage. And you have not dealt with my argument of the specific context of the two verses dealing with homosexuality that appear smashed in the midst of other major sexual sins that you seem to agree are sinful. Finally, you made an astonishing statement:

"In the case of sex with animals, I find other supporting reasons not within scripture at all but within what I would call human decency and love of God's creation."

Here you just agreed with me that some sexual sin is actually against human decency, which is Paul's argument in Romans 1 and God's reasoning for His Law here in regard to HMS. Also, you spoke of God's creation. Order in creation is a major argument against HMS, yet one you have ignored in relation to HMS and found useful here. Do you not see how subjective you are making the text when in fact it is much more objective than you give it credit for?

So please go back and specifically address these issues.

You see, Daniel, one problem is that you're writing these thick religious-ese answers and, while I was once fluent in the language, I'm less so now. I read every word you wrote that, to me felt as if they were all around the issue and didn't see a direct answer to my questions.

I restated my position because I was trying to get a direct answer from you:

Do we or do we not negate some of the passages in the Law? I hear you saying "Yes, we do" but it is in such a roundabout way that I'm not clear at all what you're saying.

If we do negate some of the passages, as I believe you're saying and I know I'm saying, then it seems to me we can move on to what parameters we have for discerning which are applicable and which aren't.

This is, I suppose, what you're doing there in all that wordage. To answer some of your points:

1. I hadn't jumped ahead to Jesus' words because I thought you were wanting to deal with one passage at a time.

2. Yes, I understand that there may well have been sanitary reasons for some of the rules God gave. But that's not told to us in the Bible, we have to use our reason and study to get to that point, and even then it is sometimes our best guess.

But while we're on this argument, for a culture that viewed so much as "unclean" one could understand (if one were trying to guess God's reasons for seemingly being in opposition to male homosexuality - which is all this passage deals with) why this rule might fit under a similar sanitary ruling that would not necessarily apply today.

That's all the time I have for right now. I'll be glad to try to address some of your points more closely later.

Just a friendly word of advice: One of the problems I had with "normal" church back when I was part of it was that whole religious-ese problem. Religious evangelicals tend to have their own language that can be a barrier to communication to the outside world. And this coming from one who was thoroughly immersed in it!

Or, it could just be my own thick-headedness, if you prefer to think of it that way.

Dan,

Ok, let's deal with some of your points head on.

First, you say that I speak with religious-ese? What is that? Give me an example. Do you mean that I try to prove my point by scholarly means and talk about the fact that Leviticus, the Law, and all of Scripture have structure, something that you have seeminly dismissed?

Now, my question wasn't whether you read my post, but was did you follow my argument from page to text, looking at the verses as I exposed the obvious structure and thought pattern of the author? I'm sure you read what I wrote, but I'm not sure you followed the argument, so as to deal with it. That is why it seems that you continue to not talk about the essential structure that I outlined and deal with my question of whether the structure indeed does indicate something about those Laws in this passage (18-20).

To answer your question, "Do we or do we not negate some of the passages in the Law?" I would say, you might negate some of these passages in the Law, but I don't think we should negate any of it. After all, Jesus made it clear that none of us should. Here are His words:

Matthew 5:17-18 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished."

Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others" (emphasis mine).

Luke 16:16-17, "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
17 "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail."

So, Dan, please explain how you deal with these texts -- words straight from the lips of Jesus? (Btw, these are supporting texts and must be dealt with in conjunction with the main passage -- my request to deal with one text at a time involves primary text, which are those that we agreed upon at the beginning -- these texts do not count with those, so when I bring up supporing texts I expect you to deal with them in regards to the manner of defense in which I used them.)

So, if Jesus did not negate anything in the Law and seemed to indicate that we shouldn't either, then how do we deal with all of the Law? Should we keep all of it including all rules related to the Hebrew cult, the food regulations, and the agricultural regulations?

The best answer I have is that we should seek to fulfill the Law in our context. First, we must be students of the Law, even as Jesus, Paul, and the apostles were. Before the writing of the NT, Peter and the others spoke about the necessity of the OT in Acts 6:1-4:
"Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, 'It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.'"

And this is not the only place in the NT where the OT is referred to as the Word of God. It is not obsolete and according to Jesus not a word of it will pass away until He returns!

So, returning to that argument, the second thing we must do is discern what is stictly cultural and what is not. The food regulations are not in effect because of Christ's own intervention to Peter in Acts 10. Once we understand the cultural norms of that society we should stive to keep the Law in our own culture. Let me give you one example. In our culture women wear pants and do not cover their heads, so how do we deal with the words of Paul in regards to dress? We find out what that dress symbolized to that culture. Women shaved their heads to show they were prostitutes -- hence, Paul did not want women to do those things related to prostitution and (in that culture idolatry). Women covered their heads to show respect and submission. Now how should women today not present themselves like prostitutes and yet to present themselves submissive (mainly in regards to the church)? First, they should dress modestly, not in revealing clothes (which there is more on in the NT). Second they should seek ways to outwardly show submission. In the church, this is modeled through them not teaching men and not being senior pastors, roles reserved for men. Now, you might now agree with that, but I think they expresses well how we should seek to fulfill the Law in our culture. Even the Scriptures on slavery can be carried over to the workworld. There is great advice in how to treat those with whom we work and those who work for us.

Now, I do not have to come up with a cultural explanation for every text in the OT, but I think I have previously for those in this particular passage (18-20). Now I have outlined earlier why I thought we should take these prohibitions not culturally, but universally. Let me briefly do it again.

In chapter 18:6-19, the author is dealing with issues related to nakedness. I have pointed out that this reads very much like modern day decency regulations, especially in regards to pornography. I think we would universally agree that "uncovering nakedness" of anyone other than one's wife is wrong. Would you disagree with this?

V.20 speaks of adultery. Again, no one disagrees that this is wrong.

V.21 -- sacrificing children. Nuff said.

V.22 -- HMS in this context. The word "abomination" is used to describe this activity -- the first time in this passage.

V.23 -- beastiality. You've already consented to this one.

V.24ff -- long conclusion to the chapter.

Now, let's turn to chapter 20.
Vv.2-5 -- idolatry and child sacrifice, another grave sin that we all agree is wrong. This time the penalty is death, indicating the severity of such a crime.

V.6 -- conducting business with spirits and mediums. I think we would agree this is wrong, but notice the punishment is being cut off, not death. Hmmm...not as severe a crime as child sacrifice.

Vv.7-8 -- restatement of the call to holiness.

V.9 -- cursing mother and father. As I said before I think this is a much graver offense than our simple cultural understanding can comprehend. Once again Jesus refers to a parallel passage, indicating His full approval of it being a sin to do so, and yet not negating it because of the penalty associated with it. BTW, how you deal with this text of Jesus words in light of your argument that we MUST accept "they shall be put to death" in order to accept "if there is a man who lies with another man"? Doesn't that NEGATE your argument? On a side note, Leviticus reads like a law book, noting crime and then prescribed punishment. As I pointed out we do the same thing, keeping something as a crime, but changing the punishment. Doesn't that make sense and again show your argument to be lacking?

V.10 -- Adultery. Punishment - death. Severe offense which we still agree upon.

V.11 -- incest with one's mother -- again we agree it is severe, so much so that the penalty is again DEATH.

V.12 -- same as above, this time different incestual relationship. We still agree it is wrong today.

V.13 -- HMS relationship -- must be consentual because both are to be put to death. It seems that this is of the same severity as adultery, idolatry, incest and soon to be beastiality. How do you negate this teaching in the midst of this passage. Is it at least clear that the Hebrews consided HMS (consentual or otherwise) to be a sin? Is it clear that God considered HMS to be a sin for the Hebrews? Is there anywhere in the Bible where this prohibition against HMS rebuked? Can you find any evidence to suggest this is merely cultural? Can you find any other act commanded by God not to do, with the prescribed penalty of death that is not universally received today by the Christian church as sinful? Do you find anywhere in Church history where the Church or even individuals in the Church (besides today) believed that this prohibition had been negated by Christ's death and resurrection? (I would like answers to all these questions please.)

V.14 -- again incest of which we would agree. Penalty death.

V.15-16 -- beastiality. Nuff said.

V.17ff -- more regarding nakedness. The penalty of which is being cut off, thus not as severe as that of the previous sexual sins.

I will stop there. I would like you to answer the above questions and reflect on the text and give some answers regarding your position. How do you deal with this in relation to your position besides your continual refusal to admit that Jesus intended for us to keep the Law in its essence? How do you see HMS as cultural and thus not binding after viewing it in this context?

Now, one step into the future -- in light of Romans 1, how do you deal with the issue of HMS in the Law and then confirmed in the NT as indeed sinful? How can you still see this as an unsinful act when both the OT sees it as severe enough to prescribe death for the act and Paul to see it as wicked enough to be compared to idolatry?

Now, as for your sanitary argument. I find it unbelievably lacking, especially since it could not have been a sanitary issue then. Otherwise, why the penalty of death? NO other sanitary issues brought forth that penalty (this includes food regulations and menstral restrictions). Also, it was called an abomination in a context where nothing else was labeled this. Why the severe language? If you admit that in that context HMS was a sin related to sexual morality and not a sin related to cleanliness, which seems aparrent, then you cannot argue that it changed to an issue of sanity today. Sanity was not the issue on HMS, as Paul makes clear in Romans 1. He clearly notes that it was an issue of a violation of the created order. I think you have to get a lot more creative than that Dan.

Now Dan, a final question -- Did I use any religious-ese in this comment that made it difficult for you to converse with me? Please instruct me to it so that I might amend my statements.

Dan, the more I read Leviticus and see the language related to HMS the more convinced I become that HMS was and is a sinful act that is inconsistent with the Christian life. I wonder, would you admit that at the least your position is not easily deduced from Scripture and that my position is the one that is much easier to prove from the texts?

Have a great Lord's Day. I look forward to your answers to ALL my questions.

Daniel,

1. I have read your comments (and the accompanying Bible passages - I did not read the other books and references you offered, for the record),

2. I really am not sure how helpful it will be for me to address each and every point of your long essay, as I'm not sure that I see their relevance, nor do I see how it helps the argument. Further, it can complicate matters unnecessarily.

Let me see what we can do here.

3. As to the religiousese, perhaps I misspoke. I reviewed your posts and you have come across as arrogant and condescending ("it is evident that 1) you recieved a rather bad education...,etc") and you have come across as being evasive by scrambling to answer with many words a very short and direct question, but in reviewing your comments, I reckon you haven't really been overly religious in your answers. So I apologize for the mischaracterization. My fault.

4. On a point that I passed over earlier on Holiness Code vs. the Law: while I'm fine with referring to the passages we're discussing as the Law, there is, within the OT a section referred to as the Holiness Code.

"The Holiness Code appears at Leviticus 17-26, and is so called due to its highly repeated use of the word Holy. The style is noticeably different from the main body of Leviticus." [from wikipedia]

So, I thought I'd point out that I was not using the term HC out of ignorance, but out of deference to what it is actually known by (and to help differentiate it from "the Law," in general).

5. It appears your answer to my question (Do we negate portions of the law?) is "No, we don't negate ANY portions of the Law...BUT...we don't follow the ban on sex during menstural periods because of cleanliness. Nor do we follow the law to kill gays because of some reason, same deal for killing disrespectful children. And even though God called eating shrimp an abomination, Jesus declared it not an abomination, so we're cool there."

So, your answer is Yes, we do negate portions of the Law, but you're not wanting to say that you do so?

Do you understand why I find your position confusing?

You say, "It is not obsolete and according to Jesus not a word of it will pass away until He returns!" which I read to mean that you DON'T think we ought negate any rules in the Law.

BUT THEN you say we must, "discern what is stictly cultural and what is not." Which I take to mean that there are some rules that are not applicable to us.

Maybe if I rephrased the question: Are some rules in the Law no longer applicable to us in our culture?

I apologize for my stupidity, but perhaps you could speak in short sentences and small words for my sake? A simple Yes or No would be clear enough for a fool such as myself.

I'll end there and take up some more in another post, as this is long already.

Dan,

One point of clarification:

negate:
1 : to deny the existence or truth of
2 : to cause to be ineffective or invalid
(from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

I deny that we ought to do either of these two things with the Law. I am sorry if I am confusing, but surely you understand that I do not think either of these things is true.

And my reasoning for bridging the cultural gap in these Laws and trying to keep them within our own context still stands. Quit ignoring my arguments on this. Also quit ignoring my arguments on the "killing gays" line that you keep repeating like a broken record and deal with Jesus words in Matthew and my explanation of Leviticus as a law book and our system of laws and punishments.

I feel like you are getting your debating skills from the Liberal's guide to Debating:

1. Ignore major arguments
2. Keep repeating the same tired old arguments, even if they have been squarely rebutted.
3. Deny that anything has been answered.
4. If your opponent continues to paint you into a corner, repeat steps 1-3 until he quits and gives up.

I have answered your questions Dan more than adequately, yet you call me arrogant and condescending even though I have shown you ample respect, as well as that of your opinion and you tell me that my thoroughness is a cover for not answering your questions, which is ridiculous. At least I am trying to answer the questions - you apparently are not. Again, please answer the questions I asked of you. If you need to copy and paste then do so. I have laid out an exegetical argument for the question at hand. Just in case you forgot the question it is:

DOES THE BIBLE TEACH THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN?

Let's work on answering the question.

Dan, I am sorry if I came across as arrogant -- that was not my intention, but at times you seem to either ignorantly or deliberatly change the subject, not answer questions, or try to make this debate about more than what it is. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that you had been given a bad education by those who oversaw your soul. I have seen many people like yourself that asked the same questions and had the same view of Scripture and it all came down to the same thing -- they were given horribly bad and inadequate answers when they were in a conservative Church. So I am sorry that I offended you by my comments. I will try to keep from doing so in the future. In the meantime, let's stay on track and finish this.

You seem to want me to try to deal with your particular passages, so here goes.

You said:
"I would like you to answer the above questions and reflect on the text and give some answers regarding your position. How do you deal with this in relation to your position besides your continual refusal to admit that Jesus intended for us to keep the Law in its essence?"

This, in reference to your list of passages from Leviticus 18 and 20 (skipping over 19 for some reason?).

As I've stated already, I think the bulk of sexual offenses listed in 18 I find unhealthy and wrong.

You stated, "In chapter 18:6-19, the author is dealing with issues related to nakedness." which is confusing to me because 18:6-19 never mentions nudity - it's talking about rules about incest...(Oh, I see. In KJV, it uses the word "nakedness" instead of sexual relations. Okay.)

You asked me specifically about nudity ("I think we would universally agree that "uncovering nakedness" of anyone other than one's wife is wrong. Would you disagree with this?")

And, yes, I would disagree with it. You have a problem with artwork featuring nudes? Michelangelo's David? This would be another example of something that seems to be dealt with in the Law that is not found elsewhere in the Bible and I don't believe it to be a big deal biblically.

What these passages ARE universally getting at is exploitation, whether of animals or other people. I am rather opposed to pornography because it is an objectification of humans, often in a degrading manner, often of one person with power/money over those without.

But I do not find biblical or spiritual reasons to universalize that to all nudity. Many cultures live with what many Baptists call nudity, but it truly is a cultural thang, seems to me.

That said, do you really want to go over each of these verses? I keep saying that my point is NOT NOT NOT that the Law is invalid but rather a rule's presence in the Law is not sufficient to cause us to make it a rule in our life. And sometimes, for us to obey those rules would be wrong! Sinful.

You will agree with me that we ought not to kill "men who lay with men"?

To simplify things, I think I can say that I generally find sufficient reasons to agree with most of what you find wrong in Lev. 18 except nudity, menstrual stuff, and homosexuality.

You asked:
"As I pointed out we do the same thing, keeping something as a crime, but changing the punishment. Doesn't that make sense and again show your argument to be lacking?"

It makes some sense (although it has no bearing on my argument as I'm not arguing that things might have changed), but not for those who say that "God doesn't change. Rules he makes are universal and everlasting."

Further, there is no biblical reason to assume that the punishment has changed. Finally, yes, it makes some sense that the punishment could change and I'm fine with that notion. But it is clear in the Bible that sometimes the rules themselves change. (1. "You have heard it said, an eye for an eye...but I say, turn the other cheek..." 2. Shrimp was an abomination, now it is not).

You said:
"Why the severe language? If you admit that in that context HMS was a sin related to sexual morality and not a sin related to cleanliness, which seems aparrent, then you cannot argue that it changed to an issue of sanity today."

I don't admit at all that HMS was a sin in Leviticus. I do admit that it looks like that it's talking about male homosexuality. But all these other passages are mostly talking about abusive behavior and the wording is vague here (men laying with men), so I suspect that they're discussing something else such as temple prostitution or pedaphilia.

Further, on the word, "abomination": "The term in English signifies that which is exceptionally loathsome, hateful, wicked, or vile. In Biblical terms to'ba does not carry the same sense of exceptionalism as the English term. It simply signifies that which is forbidden or unclean according to the religion."
[wikipedia]

We both know that a goodly number of Jewish rules were having to do with ritual uncleanliness. The use of the word abomination here suggests to some that what is being discussed here is some form of that whole temple prostitution, of which Israel was not to have a part.

As I said, a vague presence here in the Law is not sufficient. We need more info.

I've tried to deal with the bulk of your particulars. Let me know if I'm missing something specific you'd like addressed.

Dan, one other point of clarification:

I hope you will understand my misunderstading of your use of the term "Holiness Code" to refer to whatever it is you were using it to refer to. If it was indeed referential from the beginning to only 17-26, why then did you say this early on:

"But, if one studies further and sees that these two passages are part of the Holiness Code – the set of rules laid down for Israel – and that this HC also calls eating shrimp, lobster and catfish (not catfish!) an abomination, might give one pause.

The HC has all manner of rules that we simply no longer hold as valid for us. For whatever reason, we no longer kill our disrespectful children, nor kill “men who lay with men” (as directly commanded), have a problem with wearing polyester (well, some of us do…) or follow many other rules laid out there in Leviticus."

From that I gathered you were referring at the least to all of Leviticus, and likely all of the Law, that is why I opted for the term Law (thinking you were being more inclusive). After all, there is no mention of food laws in those chapters, but rather in chapter 11. Also, by moving from the exclusiveness of the "Holiness Code" to the inclusiveness of the term "Law" I was hoping to tie in Jesus words which obviously are inclusive of the Holiness Code as well.

Still, I am glad we have our terms straight now, but I hope you will see why I was confused and preferred the term "Law."

My, you're up late.

"DOES THE BIBLE TEACH THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN?"

No. See? Keep the sentences short and even this ol' fool can handle them.

1. For the record, I didn't take offense to your remark about the lack of education. Rather, it suggested to me that we weren't communicating clearly (although anytime you say someone is poorly educated you are going to run the risk of coming off arrogant and elitist).

2. "I feel like you are getting your debating skills from the Liberal's guide to Debating:"

I accept your apology, but now you've moved from arrogance to insult. Do you find that helpful in reaching others?

3. "I deny that we ought to do either of these two things with the Law. I am sorry if I am confusing, but surely you understand that I do not think either of these things is true."

You say that we ought not

4. "Also quit ignoring my arguments on the "killing gays" line"

Again, I apologize for my thick-headedness, but I can't find where you've addressed this. Would you mind terribly pointing me the way?

5. You've asked me to deal with Matt 5 ("Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill...") Fine. It's really rather a strong argument for all that I've been trying to say.

Jesus did say that. He also said, You have heard it said, "an eye for an eye,"...but I tell you turn the other cheek" (my shortened translation). He also was caught working on the Sabbath against OT rules, and he reinterpreted those rules to remind them that the sabbath was made for humanity, not the other way around. He hung out with and respected women, giving them leadership roles in his community, he hung out with sinners and the "unclean." From a practicing standpoint, Jesus was a horrible Jew!

Clearly Jesus reinterpreted OT rules. Or flat out ignored them. So what do we do with this discrepancy (and this is VITAL!)?

We learn that sometimes our interpretation or translation or application of OT rules is flat wrong. And in our arrogance, we have lifted these rules to the level of worship! Our current practices must not be questioned!"

But Jesus questioned them and refuted them. Clearly so.

This does not invalidate the rules. It fulfills them, as Jesus said.

Have I missed anything else? Don't want to be accused of following liberal rules again.

oops. Just noted that my third point didn't get all in on the previous post. Tomorrow, then.

What church you go to, if you don't mind my asking? (I'm over at Jeff Street Baptist Community downtown - we've a blog at jeffstreet.blogspot, if you're interested).

"Still, I am glad we have our terms straight now, but I hope you will see why I was confused and preferred the term "Law."

Point made. My bad. You're right, the Law is the better term for my discussion.

I have something for Dan T. to think about.
I have read and seen testimonies by people that have been delivered from the homosexual lifestyle. How did they explain their deliverence? Who did they give credit to? God? If so, then why would God work against Himself, if it's nothing but ok? A house divided can't stand....neither can an argument like Dan's.
Marilyn

Marilyn, your folk who've been "delivered" from the gay "lifestyle" may well give credit to God. (And oftentimes, they have indeed been delivered from a promiscuous lifestyle which was unhealthy, thank God, indeed.) But my gay friends who've been graced by God with the knowledge of God's love for them as homosexuals will also give credit to God.

So? I don't know that I see your point.

Your point is that some have tried to change who they are attracted to and gave God credit for it and therefore my gay brothers and sisters who've been embraced by God's love are wrong? Could it not be just as easily true that those who've tried to change who they're attracted to are wrong?

For, as I'm sure you remember that Paul says in Romans; that the folk
"exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones."

Would that be a condemnation from God's word for trying to change one's natural condition for an unnatural one?

No, I'm sure you would choose not to see it that way. But some of us Bible-believing, Christ-following disciples would, if it's all the same to you, Miss Marilyn.

Dan T., Since you feel the way that you do, are you going to encourage your daughter or if you have other children, to embrace this homosexual lifestyle? If not, why not?
I just watched a program on tv about and with a man who has been delivered from this lifestyle. His website is brokenyoke.org.
I see you as a Christian with a very divided message and it is disturbing. This is meant to warn you, coming from a grandmother. What you are endorsing, could come home to haunt you.
I love the homosexual, but not his sin and my desire is for them to come to repentence and salvation through Jesus Christ. Marilyn

Would I want my daughter to "embrace a homosexual lifestyle"? If, by that, you mean do I want them to choose to be gay...One does not choose homosexuality. One either has homosexual tendencies or they have heterosexual tendencies (and some have a bit of both). But it's not really a choice.

[my parents could have encouraged me all day long to embrace homosexuality and I could not have "turned" homosexual...]

If my children are gay, then God bless them and protect them from those who'd condemn them for what they assume to be a sin, even people such as myself (at a younger age) or you, who truly love them but would still condemn their orientation.

Dan T., I think you will admit that God created man and woman. He told them to be fruitful and multiply.If homosexuality is a natural condition (like hair color, skin color,
etc) - how did they get that trait? Who are the natural parents of a
homosexual child? How can homosexuals have children to pass down those
natural traits?
Marilyn

I dunno, t'ain't no scientist.

I know some folk who have studied it have suggested the possibility of a gay gene, but I don't know of all the various research done on it. [here's a link:
http://www.webmd.com/content/article/100/105486.htm
if you're interested]

Why do you ask? Are you suspecting that someone could "turn someone else gay"? That it is simply a matter of some people one day deciding, "Hmmm. I'll stop liking girls and start liking boys..."?

I can tell you as a healthy hetero, that just don't happen.

As to how they got the trait, with God as our creator, I would suspect that God gave it to them.

Dan T., I believe you just threw some blame on God that He is not deserving of and I think that is dangerous. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Marilyn

Marilyn, thanks for keeping Dan busy this morning and thanks Dan for allowing me some time to rest and hang out with my wife.

Anyway, let get back to the discussion at hand. First, Dan, let me say that I apologize for insulting you. I did not mean to do that. I was trying to be somewhat funny, but also pointing to the way that I saw your arguments running. I has been frustrating at time when you haven't dealt with all of my argumnets against your position or you have repeated arguments that I have spoken to without acknowledging I have dealt with them at all. So, maybe it is that you can't deal with more than one line of thought a time. So let's do that -- stick with one argument at a time.

So let's do this somewhat exegetically, starting with your first arguments in your last few posts regarding the text.

I asked: "I think we would universally agree that "uncovering nakedness" of anyone other than one's wife is wrong. Would you disagree with this?"

And you answered: "And, yes, I would disagree with it. You have a problem with artwork featuring nudes? Michelangelo's David? This would be another example of something that seems to be dealt with in the Law that is not found elsewhere in the Bible and I don't believe it to be a big deal biblically."

Dan, come on! Do you really think that God is dealing with art here? NO! He is dealing with revealing nudity of family members and others for pleasure or stimulation. The problem wasn't nudity per se, it was the pornification of the act. Notice the active language of the one performing the act. He is uncovering, not sculpting, not taking pictures for artistic purposes (some of which could be considered pornographic so we can't really go there completely). This is common sense Dan. Don't confuse the issue by reading into the text something that is not there. That is called eisegesis. Exegesis is pulling out of the text what is there. Dan you are comparing apples and oranges. The text clearly is speaking of something done for sexual stimulation outside of what one does with his wife.

Do you see that and agree that this passage is not about DaVinci's David, but rather about acts of sexual stimulation that we would again agree are sinful outside of marriage (or in your case a committed HMS relationship)?


Now, one more thing. You said,

"What these passages ARE universally getting at is exploitation, whether of animals or other people."

How did you arrive at such a conclusion? What evidence do you have to support that this is about exploitation and not morality? You would be better served to say it's about idolatry or pagan practices than this. You are reducing all these Laws down to some sort of social problem, and there is nothing in the text to indicate this. Remember that we are speaking about a patriarchal society and thus all laws are written in reference to men. You have not taken that into account here.

Oh, and my wife and I attend Clifton Baptist Church on Frankfort. Dr. Thomas Schreiner of Southern is the pastor.

D.R.
I am looking forward to the spirited conversation I have printed out to read later tonight.

"Dan, let me say that I apologize for insulting you."

No problem. Again, my concern was that we are/were having a lack of understanding.

1. "Do you really think that God is dealing with art here?"

No, I don't think this is talking about nudity at all. As it is translated in other versions, these verses the KJV has translated as "nakedness" are elsewhere translated as "having sexual relations."

I was responding to the question you asked, though. You asked specifically about nakedness, saying, "I think we would universally agree that "uncovering nakedness" of anyone other than one's wife is wrong. Would you disagree with this?"

You seemed to want me to respond to that. So, instead of responding to what I think the passage is dealing with, I responded to what you offered me to respond to.

You had criticized me for not responding to your comments, right? It wouldn't be fair to criticize me now for responding to your comments.

And so, to respond to your specific question:

"Do you see that and agree that this passage is not about DaVinci's David, but rather about acts of sexual stimulation that we would again agree are sinful outside of marriage?"

Yes, I agree with that. But that is not the question you asked earlier.

2. Dan said:
"What these passages ARE universally getting at is exploitation, whether of animals or other people."

You asked:
"How did you arrive at such a conclusion?"

How did you arrive at the conclusion that Lev 18:6-19 were dealing with pornography? You read in to an ambiguous passage "nakedness" and extrapolated that to pornography.

It might not be a bad estimate of what that passage was talking about, but it's a guess of some less than certain wording (the NIV doesn't mention nakedness at all).

These first several verses are mostly telling men not to have sex with various women. Knowing the chattel nature of women in this culture, it strikes me as a message to those with power not to abuse it.

Of course, there is the heavy imagery of the customs of the people who were in the land before them - warnings specifically not to emulate their ways, which include, as I understand it, child sacrifice, temple prostitution, etc. So, there is that suggestion of avoiding that which would make one unclean.

Maybe I'm wrong. But we're both reading in to these verses something that makes sense to us given what we know of the context of the times and what we know of the nature of God, right? I understand that you disagree with some of my interpretation of the scriptures here, as I disagree with some of your interpretations.

Could you perhaps point me to the place where you answered how God changed the rule for killing gays? I still can't find it.

Thanks.

Good debate guys...and don't let me interrupt the flow here, but I just wanted to ask Dan something.

hey Dan,

What is the result of sin?

It's immediate - and results in separation from God.

Remember that when God laid the sins of the world on His son, Jesus, on the cross, the result was immediate separation from the Father...

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

We can't be walking with God in our sin. There is nothing in scripture (and to back it up we have experience) that says that our fellowship with Him is not interrupted or forever lost by sin (depending on, respectively, whether we are His child or not).

So, therefore the definition of sin is of critical importance for the Christian. We can't be indifferent and content with two different definitions. When John the Baptist preached repentance, it wasn't for any other reason than a heart's cry for people to experience the blessings of fellowship with God. Did all of the people repent? No. Did some decide that they were fine already? Yes, and I'm sure they felt fine in doing so. It is no different today. However, the spiritual ramifications of sin remain and are the real issue here - and they are independent of our feelings, as we can't always trust our feelings. That's why we have to look to scripture for the truth. The enemy would love for us to go to every other source than God for the truth. If we need wisdom, we can ask God ourselves - James 1:5. So, if you're not sure, the answers won't come from us, they'll come when you pray and ask God to reveal the truth to you. Have you done that?

Dan, I went back and reexamined those passages (BTW, I don't use the KJV, but rather the NASB, which is usually the most literal translation, but sometimes it is so literal that it doesn't translate the idioms into contemporary language, so thus it went with the term "uncover nakedness") and so I agree with you that these verses are about incestual sexual relationships, and thus the whole discussion on pornography is of a moot point now (and thus, also I admit my "interpretation" was completely illegitimate and did not withstand the logical evidence -- I don't believe that it would be logical for me to hold to such a position borne out of ignorace in regards to the text now that it has been identified as not reflective of the text itsef -- thus, my question about your interpretation regarding exploitation still stands, and I will deal with that later).

However, this doesn't really help your cause much since HMS must be seen in this passage as more vile than incestuous relationships, since the penalty it carries with it is death, as opposed to being cut off from one's people (as is the penalty for incest).

Now, to your interpretation of these passages as being about male exploitation as opposed to sexual morality. Here are my arguments against that view:

1. This view doesn't fit into the overall context. Read 18:1-5. Nothing is mentioned regarding exploitation of anyone else. What is mentioned are acts done in Egypt and in Canaan, yet we find nothing explicitly stated in the whole of the Bible that indicts these lands of exploitation. In fact, Canaan is often spoken about as being sexually immmoral, not as men taking advantage of women.

2. In order to maintain this view you would have to ignore 18:21 and it's implications regarding idolatry, or you would have to assume some type of exploitation in child sacrifice, something that doesn't fit into the verse or is immediately concluded from it.

3. In v.26, the alien, sojourner, etc. is mentioned as those not allowed to do such actions as well, though if this were about exploitation, why is there no mention of exploiting these people, which occurred often in other contexts (such as Sodom and Gomorrah).

4. The word "defile" suggests a violation of morality, not of social mores.

5. In the parallel passage of Chapter 20 (it is rather obvious that Chapters 18 and 20 are parallel and refer to the same actions -- 18 merely mentions the sin and then 20 lists a penalty for it), if it is speaking of exploitation, why are both of the offenders punished? In the case of incest, both are childless (a punishmnent very much upon the woman). In the case of the HMS, both are killed. In the case of beastiality both males and females are mentioned. How is this passage about exploitation when it seems apparent that God is punishing both people, as if all these acts were mutual and consentual? If they were consentual, then is there exploitation? Of course not.

Thus, I see your interpretation lacking in view of the evidence that this passage is about sexual and moral transgressions, not about exploitation.


Now, in regards to your question, "Could you perhaps point me to the place where you answered how God changed the rule for killing gays? I still can't find it.", let me say that I didn't say that God changed the rule, but I did offer an explanation why your argument that because we don't hold that "killing gays" (or anyone else that commits such sexual sins in this passage) is still in effect and yet we still should obey the Law as a whole Your exact quote I am referring to is "It appears your answer to my question (Do we negate portions of the law?) is 'No, we don't negate ANY portions of the Law...BUT...we don't follow the ban on sex during menstural periods because of cleanliness. Nor do we follow the law to kill gays because of some reason, same deal for killing disrespectful children. And even though God called eating shrimp an abomination, Jesus declared it not an abomination, so we're cool there.'" as well as some other comments that use this same line of reasoning in which you confuse sin with the punishment prescribed for it.

1. The Mosaic Law in general and the Levitical Law specifically read very much like Summerian law texts. The crime is spelled out and then the punishment given for that crime. To equate one with the other is not to understand that the Law is to be seen as universal and the punishment is to be seen as resultant of that and subject to change depending on the circumstance and culture. In regards to these passages specifically, the crime is the most important component of the Law, the punishment is the resultant and again subject to change.

2. As an example of this I put forth two argument, one in regards to our own civil law system and one in regards to Jesus.

On May 4, at 2:23pm, I wrote the following two paragraphs, dealing with this, which you haven't responded to:

"Now, my argument that homosexuality is sinful is strengthened, (not weakened or negated, as you suggest) by the punishment prescribed for such an action. If you read all of the Law (or even all of the OT) you will not find one sin that has a prescibed punishment of death that is not thought today by Christians to be sinful. And many, if not most, of them the state agrees are worthy of incarceration. These include idolatry, incest, child molestation, kidnapping, witchcraft, beastiality, prostitution, adultery, human sacrifice, and of course cursing your parents (which, ironically Jesus refers to in Matthew 15, including in his charge against the Pharisees the punishment, "He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death", yet uses this verse to indict them). Jesus doesn't seem to negate the one phrase despite the inclusion of the second ("they shall be put to death"), so why should we. You would likely believe that Jesus is not an advocate of capital punishment for this offense, but yet He still validates it's reality as sin. How do you get around Jesus' own usage of this text?

Also, though, as that weren't enough, our own legal system in America is constantly changing in regard to punishments, but yet stays consistent in regards to the criminality of an offense itself. For instance, in the case of child molestation, it is a good thing that the penalty for such an act has actually gotten steeper in the last 20 years. In the case of murder, the penalties have generally been reduces, as there was a time in American history where every state in the Union had capital punishment as the due penalty for such an act. The same is true for hundreds of offenses, yet no one has ever suggested that a lightening in punishment negates the criminality of the act."

Now, I think Jesus' words in Matthew 15:3-6 are very imporant to this discussion. Jesus tells the Pharisees that they have invalidated God's Word through their traditions (in regards to honoring their father and mother). Two things are important here:
1. Jesus seems to indicate that this is God's Word and doesn't have a problem with the punishment of the crime. In fact, He seems to accept the punishment as legitimate, though we would agree that Jesus may not have supported captial punishment for such a crime. He places the point squarely on the crime, not the punishment. Does he negate the Law here because of the punishment? NO, then why should we negate the Law simply because of the punishment?
2. Jesus scolds the Pharisees for doing such a thing. He makes it clear that the Law in regards to this is still in effect. This is important because of the parallel verse in our current debate. One what grounds can we invalidate any Law which Jesus has upheld?

Jesus clearly separates the crime from the punishment without negating or invalidating it. Why can't you? How do you explain Jesus words here (along with His words in Matthew 5:17-18 and 23:23, as well as Luke 16:16-17) this in light of your view that we negate the Law?

That is enough for now, though to answer one more question you had further up (May 6 @ 11:06pm) as to why my 2nd exegetical explanation on Leviticus 18-20 (one May 6 @ 8:15pm) didn't include Chapter 19. This was because I have already dealt with it on May 3 @ 4:22pm. I really didn't want to repost my exposition on 18 & 20, but I felt I needed to in order to get us back on topic and get you to respond to it again.

Also, one final note -- please do not use Wikipedia as a source for anything in this discussion. If you scan many of the articles on there in regards to Christian doctrines like Baptism and atonement you will find many, many errors and false explanations. Wikipedia cannot be used as a scholarly source. At least find a commentary or Theological dictionary to support your views -- something that can be trusted and is recognized as having scholastic verification.

Roger said:
"However, the spiritual ramifications of sin remain and are the real issue here - and they are independent of our feelings, as we can't always trust our feelings. That's why we have to look to scripture for the truth."

Thanks for the comments Roger and I mostly agree. Which is why I wish for y'all to quit having the sin of spiritual pride on this mistaken point of yours or blasphemy for the sin of arrogantly and incorrectly speaking for God...

And that is partially a good-natured dig and partially serious comment on my part.

People who are opposed to Christians who say they don't find biblical justification for the traditional stand against homosexuality seem to always assume that we hold that position because of "our feelings." We don't want to make gay people "feel" bad. We don't "feel" comfortable calling it a sin.

Poppycock. You've not heard the first word from me about feelings. You listen to folk at our church and you'll hear plenty about sin - and strong condemnation for it. And that condemnation will have biblical backing.

This is part of the reason I try to engage in these conversations. We "progressive" Christians (to put a label on it) think that the mainstream churches have a mixed-up view on things. There is all this emphasis on extra-biblical or marginally biblical "sins" and hardly any attention paid to the weightier matters of the Word.

Jesus and the Bible talk more about the oppressive nature of money and power than nearly any other topic and yet you rarely hear the church taking the lead on that conversation. You rarely hear her stand with Christ in support of Love for our enemies, but instead the church tends to stand in favor of war-as-solution.

That kind of thing.

Anyway, all of that is tangential. I agree with your concept mostly but perhaps tend to disagree with your definition of sin, at least insofar as it has to do with homosexuality.

DR, be back in a bit.

Dan,

Thanks for the comments. I was speaking of feelings in terms of those that don't repent feel fine in doing so - as referenced in terms of why everyone didn't repent when John the Baptist preached repentance. Spiritual deception is what it is and our only trustworthy guide is the truth of scripture. So, again, if you're not sure, the answers won't come from us, they'll come when you pray and ask God to reveal the truth to you. Have you done that?

Don't forget the nature of deception. No one sets out to be deceived.
Regarding the danger of deception, here's a question I've had:

why does the 'Every Church a Peace Church' website list 2 unbelievers as 'church leaders' that endorse that doctrine? Or did they realize that Marcus Borg and John Domonic Crossan are skeptics and not born-again believers?

http://www.ecapc.org/endorsements.asp

If anyone is unsure of that, go to beliefnet.com and read their commentaries, in their own words.
If after that, anyone is still unsure, then the danger of deception is realized before our eyes. What was a debate about homosexuality dovetailed into a misunderstanding of what it means to be saved. There is no greater danger! The unsaved believe they are truly saved. I say that in all seriousness.

"So, again, if you're not sure, the answers won't come from us, they'll come when you pray and ask God to reveal the truth to you. Have you done that?"

Yes, thanks. As you may or may not have read, I started out with your position, believing it fully. It was only after prayer and deeper Bible study did I come to my current position.

As to why ECAPC has listed two people that you say are skeptics, I don't know. I don't know much about either person mentioned, although I do know that Borg has made some very Christ-ian comments, so if he's a skeptic, at least he's a skeptic with some good sense.

Checking out the referenced websites you offered will have to wait until I finish this discussion with Brother Daniel. Thanks just the same.

"If anyone is unsure of that, go to beliefnet.com and read their commentaries, in their own words.
If after that, anyone is still unsure, then the danger of deception is realized before our eyes."

I made a quick trip over there and this may be closer to what I wanted to talk about with DR (hence my rambling off to topics not related to homosexuality). That is, what is it to you (traditionalists) that makes someone not a Christian and how does that stack up with what the Bible says.

Maybe we can delve more later...

>Maybe we can delve more later...

Wouldn't it be unavoidable? A discussion of discipleship is impossible without first understanding what it means to be saved. Discipleship is only possible for the believer. An unbelieving 'disciple' is a lost person trying to please God by their works. Our works are no substitute for our coming to Him by faith. How is faith possible? Faith comes by hearing of the word of God (Romans 10:16-18). How do we even know that? We take God at His word. Faith is experiential, not theoretical or intellectual. Demons know scripture, but they chose not to let Jesus be Lord. There are a lot of modern day Nicodemus's these days that know scripture up one side and down the other, but until they let Jesus be Lord - they are not born again, they are not saved.

Dan, Matthew 6:13-29 is a good passage to read. I fear too many seek to follow the broad way and think it is alright.
I do not expect anyone to be perfect in this life, but we are to strive to be like Christ and when we fail, we have to confess, repent and ask forgiveness. To repent means we turn away from the sin that beset us and turn, go in a different direction.
It is not unloving to want the blind to see.
Marilyn

Sorry, meant Matthew 7:13-29.
Marilyn

"Faith comes by hearing of the word of God (Romans 10:16-18). How do we even know that? We take God at His word."

I'll remind you all again that I've been where you are. I know the passages. If I may echo Paul, "forgive my boasting! but are you an evangelical? I am, too. Are you trained in the Bible? So I have been from birth! Are you a Christian minister? I have been for years...Am I mad to boast like this...?!"

I know your positions, I came from that background. I am intimately well-versed in evangelical orthodoxy.

No one here is talking about not repenting, we are questioning the validity of each others' interpretation of what needs to be repented. No one here is talking about not taking God at God's word. We are discussing what that Word is.

Yes, certainly we should walk in the narrow Way - but what is that Way?!

As I've stated already, what I hear from too much of the mainstream church is way too much emphasis placed upon marginally biblical or extrabiblical teachings (Stay away from drugs, stay away from cussing, don't smoke, don't drink, don't dance or play cards, DON'T BE GAY!!) and way too little emphasis on mainstream biblical teaching ("I have come to preach good news to the poor, release to the captive, health for the ill, the Day of Jubilee!" "True religion is this: To care for the widows and the needy." "Sell your possessions and give to the poor." "Love your enemies, overcome evil with good..." etc, etc, etc...)

Just another reminder... It doesn't really do much good to admonish me, "we must repent of our sins," or to rehash what it means to be saved when I'm in aware of and in agreement with those positions.

Marilyn and Roger,

I appreciate you both especially your support of me over the past few months as I have posted over at Bruce's website and got kicked off numerous times so that he no longer had to answer for his false beliefs (even as both of you were as well).

But, I ask you to hold off any more correspondance with Dan until he deals with my last post and gets through discussing Romans 1. Hopefully, we can be done with that by the end of the week. After that you are free to use my website to continue the current discussion with Dan.

And Dan I ask you to get back on topic and answer all the questions I asked you in my previous post, then we will move on to some more of your issues with the text in Leviticus before heading over to Romans 1. Thanks again for continuing to interact.

D.R,

Before we go back to those scripture references, we first need to be sure that Dan is born again. For scripture tells us that if he is not, it is impossible for him to understand scripture as his eyes are not spiritually open. So, all of your effort and time will be fruitless. I say this from experience as I have already been down that road with Dan...
http://paynehollow.blogspot.com/2006/01/twofer-tuesday.html#comments

Dan,

If you are born-again, we know from scripture that the Holy Spirit indwells you. If that is true, I can't reconcile how you seem to be at odds with God's word...

John 10:27
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Scripture is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). His voice laces the pages of scripture. Do you not hear it? Why are you hesitant to follow? We know it's true because of the indwelling Holy Spirit confirming to us and we see the harmony of it with His nature as we have come to know Him. We can't separate God from His word, just like we can't separate our character from our words. So, red flags go up when I see someone talking about their problems with God's word. Problems with His word equate to problems with God, Himself.

>No one here is talking about not repenting

1 Samuel 15:22
But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

When we don't obey the voice of the Lord, we are being disobedient - which certainly is in need of repentance of. If we pick and choose what scripture we obey, He is not Lord of all. Our 'self' is still on the throne as we have found something better. If he's not Lord of all, is He Lord at all? Remember, Jesus said that scripture cannot be broken.

Believe it or not, Roger, I agree with you. I think the larger issue is whether or not I'm saved. BUT, this is Daniel's blog and he's asked me to deal with these particular comments and so I shall endeavor to do so.

Having said that, Daniel, my short answer is we're not going to agree on the passages and it's not because I reject God's teaching and you embrace it (or vice versa), it's because we have limited understanding and yet we will try the best we can to understand it. We, you or me or both of us, will get it wrong in some ways.

You've written a ton of doubtlessly well-thought out stuff which I appreciate but am going to disagree with because my understanding of the Bible and of God is different than yours. And I do not intend to go on forever with you when that is the case.

My initial question to you WAAAYYY back on May 1 was, "Does this mean that if I'm a gay believer that I'm not a Christian in your mind?" and that's really what I'm more interested in discussing with you - who's in and who's out?

But for now, I'll start afresh in a new comment and address some of your questions as best I can...

1. You very honestly and forthrightly stated (in regards to Leviticus, nudity and pornography):

"and thus, also I admit my "interpretation" was completely illegitimate and did not withstand the logical evidence"

Thank you. This is at least one of my points. That we have limited knowledge of the writers' intent when he said, "uncover thy mother's nakedness," or "men laying with men," because their are figures of speech at play, cultural influences, traditions of which we may be unaware, etc.

When it comes down to it, the Leviticus passages do not hold much water for me in themselves. I know you say that God's Truth in the rules didn't change even though God's truth in the consequences did.

I don't buy that answer. It's a way of saying, "What God says never changes," but when confronted with how God's word has seemingly changed, of saying, "that wasn't God's word."

Feel free to disagree with me all you want, I shall do the same for you. Not because I hate you or believe you're a bad person or because I reject God's word, but simply because that is not the Word that the Spirit has taught me from that passage.

2. You disagree with me about how I find it possible that God is talking about exploitation as much or more as God is talking about sexual mores in Lev. 18. You feel that "This view doesn't fit into the overall context." I disagree with you. Okay?

I feel, as I stated, that this is likely about standing apart from their pagan predecessors ("do not conform to their customs.") and about exploitative behavior. I believe that based upon what this scripture says, what I know of God and what the rest of the Bible says.

You said:

"In order to maintain this view you would have to ignore 18:21 and it's implications regarding idolatry, or you would have to assume some type of exploitation in child sacrifice"

I would not have to ignore 18:21, I happen to think that child sacrifice is very exploitive!

...And I'm out of time. More to come...

Dan, your question you asked on May 1, "Does this mean that if I'm a gay believer that I'm not a Christian in your mind?" was thoroughly answered in the very next post, so much so that you thanked me for the my reasoned response. Then you turned to the question of whether your salvation was in question because you believed differently than I did. I answered that question next. Then you told me you affirmed the absolute authority of the Bible (which you have yet to prove to me) and I said this:

"Still, I would like for us to enter into a dialogue on the relavent passages so as to see how we exactly differ in regards to Scripture and how we interpet these passages so differently. Let me know when you might want to be ready to discussion and then we will start from the beginning of the Bible and progress to the end, dealing with all relevant passages speaking on or even hinting at homosexuality.

If you would rather not, I understand. But since you seem to be passionate about it, this might be a good way for us to understand each other's views. Thanks for your time."

To that you responded,
"Be glad to, Daniel. If you'd want, we could begin now."

We then narrowed down the passages we would deal with and once agreed you offered your take on Leviticus. Since then you have moved off topic several times. I do not wish to rehash questions already dealt with. I want to deal with the Biblical evidence that either is in favor of "loving" HMS relationships or against it. That is what I have tried to do. You have constantly avoided answering specific questions even though I asked you to cut and paste the questions and give the answers. I don't mean, "this is what you said and I disagree with you." I mean, "this is what you said and this is why my position still works because of a, b, c, d, etc." I want a real debate. Avoiding hard and difficult questions is not way to debate. You agreed to such a debate and wholeheartedly accepted it. Am I to conclude that you are no longer able to support your position Biblically? Or you are not willing to deal with problems in your position?

Dan, I have respectfully answered all of your questions, numerous times (and even pointed out the times when I did and you didn't catch it). Please do so with mine. I asked you to answer each question asked of your thoroughly. You still have yet to deal with Jesus' words in Matthew 15 (and his words on the Law in several passages) that seem to be contrary to your position. You must be willing to either deal with these questions or concede that you cannot. Which one will it be?

Again, when you disagree, please do as I have and give a thorough explanation for whey you do so and why my views are incompatible with the Bible. Anything less is not dealing with the position but is defaulting to the "Let's agree to disagree" nonsense that doesn't make either of us any wiser.

Take for example my insistance that exploitation does not do justice to the passage. You said you don't ignore 18:21, but how do you deal with it when in fact it seems as if the relationship is mutual and in the parallel passage in Chapter 20, both participants are to be put to death? If it is exploitation, why are both punished? Isn't that unfair on God's part to have the one being exploited punished along with the exploiter? And what about those incestuous and adulterous relationships, both are punished there as well? Doesn't sound like exploitation to me. In fact the only one in the passages that doesn't get killed because of so-called "exploitation" is the animal abused in beastiality. Should we assume that God cares more about the cattle being exploited than He does the person taken advantage of sexually? These are the types of questions you must answer to maintain your position. Otherwise it would be wise to abandon it in light of the evidence that speaks contrary to it. Are you willing to do so?

Dan, it is irritating that you won't deal with my questions when I back you into a corner. It makes you look as if you cannot deal with them or you don't respect me enough to give me the same courtesy as I have given to you. Should I assume one of the two?

If you are wiiling to concede that you cannot deal with my questions, then we can move on to Romans 1 where I hope you will deal with the passage exegetically.

I believe if we are going to glorify God through our conversation and debate we must deal thoroughly with the questions at hand. That is why I insist upon you answering all of my questions in like manner. We do a disservice to our readers and to God otherwise. Please understand and comply with my request. I trust that you will see my frustration, appreciate it, and do so. Thank you.

1. On my first question (If I'm gay does that mean I'm not a Christian?) you said it "was thoroughly answered in the very next post, so much so that you thanked me for the my reasoned response."

In so saying, I was being polite, not conceding that your answer had any legitimacy. Just thanking you that you didn't go all Pat Robertson on me and were willing to discuss.

2. "If you are wiiling to concede that you cannot deal with my questions"

I'm conceding nothing beyond the fact that we are not likely to agree. I've been answering your questions, and will continue for the time being. I'm sorry you don't like my answers, but I am answering as well as time allows.

To be sure, I don't care much for your answers, either. But you're throwing a ton of manure around and I only got one shovel.

And again, for now, I'm out of time. I WILL come back and answer questions but I've children to help and jobs to do and you'll just have to wait a few minutes if you'd like to actually dialog.

That's fine Dan that you don't have time, but you've never stated that until now. I have no problem giving you time, but there is no need to post anything until you can answer the questions. I don't expect you write something within a certain time frame and I am sorry if I have led you to believe that. However, I do expect full answers when you do post, and that is why I wrote what I did. It seemed that you were only half-answering questions and avoiding others. In my last post I asked you for the third time to deal with Matthew 15. In regards to your question, whether you liked the answer or not, it was a yes or no question and I answered yes with qualifications. I proceeded to write 5 paragraphs in answering it. Now, while I don't expect that thorough an answer, you can't say that I haven't dealt with the issue. I don't expect to like all your answers to my questions or agree with them, but I do expect them to be answered with some symbolance of reasoning. And that is what I am encouraging you to do. Take all the time you want. Write one answer at a time if you need to. I don't mind that. Heck, I'll give you a week or even a month to formulate. But in the end, come back and deal with all the issues. Enjoy your family and relax and then when you are ready, come back and visit with your answers. I'm not going anywhere. I promise.

Dealing with Matthew 15, then.

You said:
"Jesus doesn't seem to negate the one phrase despite the inclusion of the second ("they shall be put to death"), so why should we?"

Why should we negate the capital punishment phrase for cursing your parents?

1. It goes against Jesus' command to love your enemies.

2. It goes against Jesus' command to "do good to those who hate you."

3. It goes against Jesus' command to "turn the other cheek."

4. It goes against Paul's admonishment (and extension of Jesus' command) to "overcome evil with good."

5. In short, it goes against the very grain of Jesus' clear and repeated teachings to us.

6. That being the case, one should pause to ask, "Why then did Jesus not address this point?" and this may be a place where we differ in biblical interpretation.

a. I suppose a literal literalist might want to say that Jesus meant BOTH turn the other cheek AND kill your children if they insult you.

b. I would suggest this is absurd and against reason in addition to being against Jesus' other teachings.

c. Jesus went on to say in Matt 15: "But you say, 'Whoever says to {his} father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given {to God,}" he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And {by this} you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition."

d. To me, Jesus is attacking their religious traditions that are ungodly, despite the fact that they may have "scriptural" or religious reasons for holding them.

e. So, while the OT may have rules that were given THEN, I think Jesus is telling us that these traditions are not intended to hold true forever.

f. We can know this to be true because Jesus broke rules (and told others to break rules) found in the OT.

i. He worked on the Sabbath.
(Luke 6:1-4 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels - in violation of OT rules against working on the Sabbath.)

ii. He would not agree to kill an adulteress as clearly stated in the Law, saying instead, "Let those without sin cast the first stone." (John 8) (in opposition to Leviticus 20:10 "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." - and other passages.)

iii. He did not wash before meals as their traditions taught (The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, "Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.")

iv. The NT teaches us that what God had called an "abomination" (eating certain foods) was no longer an abomination! Holy cow! Could that mean that a direct OT teaching of what is an abomination can be altered?! Yes.

7. Further, Jesus repeatedly took the religious to task for their strict adherence to the rules found in the OT and their interpretation thereof. The Sabbath was made for us, not the other way around. The rules were made for us, not the other way around. If the rules no longer make sense or seem applicable, perhaps there is room for a new revelation from God. God does not stop revealing to us.

8. So, I do not necessarily understand why some rules are in the OT. We can make guesses, even educated guesses, but we don't always know why it seems that God said not to eat shrimp or to kill disrespectful children or gays or that it is wrong to be gay.

Sometimes, it is just going to be our own faulty interpretation of what the words from a few thousand years ago, written in another language and passed down for generations, mean. What we take to be talking about "nakedness," may have been an idiom for incest. What we take for homosexuality (men laying with men) may have been in reference to temple prostitution or some other reference.

This has been my point all along: that a rule's presence in the Law is not sufficient to mean that it is still applicable. Sometimes, our interpretations are simply wrong (not the bible, but our interpretations). Sometimes, our understanding is limited. Sometimes, God has given a new revelation.

When one has been taught (as I had been) that Sodom/Gomorrah was about homosexuality, then it is easy to keep reading that story and "seeing" homosexuality talked about, even though IT SIMPLY ISN'T THERE. Sometimes, when one has been taught a Leviticus passage is about pornography, we can continue to find pornography there, even though it isn't there.

What I'm saying is, WE NEED MORE than just the OT law to make a Godly decision on what rules are applicable to us.

Is that the sort of answer you're looking for?

Daniel,

Let me apologize for moving off-topic several times. When we started this, as I've stated, I was more interested in the question of "Who's a Christian and who's not, in your mind?" And was wanting to discuss (rather than debate) why we would exclude some who believed one way because of what the Bible says versus others who believe another way because of what the Bible says.

I was thinking I'd say, "To me, the handful of verses that even seem to deal with the topic in the NT are vague and unclear," and you'd take it for what it's worth.

But I can see now that it's entirely fair of you to want to know why, from a biblical and logical standpoint, I'd have that position. I probably don't have the time to answer each question you have with the detail that I answered your previous question, but, as I said before, I'll do what I can in the time that I have.

Whilst I'm answering your questions, perhaps I might fire a relative question back to you.

The OT Law includes the Jubilee Laws. This is a set of rules that I find justification for not just in the Law, but throughout the OT, in Jesus' teachings and in the rest of the NT.

It is, it seems to me, a set of rules that goes largely ignored or rebuffed even by the church at large.

I ask you this, not to change the subject, but because the subject is, "What do we do with OT rules?" I'm not saying ignore them, as it seems you think I'm saying. I'm saying we must weigh them and see which ones seem still applicable and how they're applicable. We must compare them to the rest of the Bible and Jesus' teachings, in addition to what we know of God and our world.

Knowing how you deal with these teachings will help me understand how your understanding as it relates to OT Law and the Bible.

If you feel this IS off-topic, please disregard for now and we'll come back to it.

And now, back to your questions...

1. In regards to my suggestion that the laws may be dealing with these sins because of reasons of exploitation, you pointed out:

"if it is speaking of exploitation, why are both of the offenders punished?"

and that is a fine argument. This would make it sound like the problem is a mutual one (ie, that both involved are committing the sin and it is consensual). While I still hold that in that culture, many sins of this nature would have had an exploitative or oppressive side to it, this doesn't sound like what it's talking about here. Fair enough.

Keep in mind, though, that my argument is that we don't know exactly what all of these refer to or the context of these rules. Some may be fairly clear and some are less so.

Further, keep in mind that I do not disagree that the sins of incest and bestiality as well as sexual acting out in general ARE sins. I have said that from the beginning of this conversation.

It has not been my argument to defend sexual immorality in general. Just that we don't fully know the context of all these rules.

2. You said, in response to my question about why we don't kill gays and disrespectful children:

"In regards to these passages specifically, the crime is the most important component of the Law, the punishment is the resultant and again subject to change."

And my answer is that I just don't buy it. I don't see where you're offering any evidence biblical or otherwise to support this. WHO SAYS that the crime is the important part (and the part that mus be taken literally) and not the punishment? It's all the same word, right?

You said you were doing so here:

"As an example of this I put forth two argument, one in regards to our own civil law system and one in regards to Jesus."

You argue that the sins punishable by death in the OT (murder, rape, adultery, men laying with men, kidnapping, not observing the Sabbath, being a disrespectful child, maybe a few others) are still considered sins, even if we don't think we should kill people for them.

Okay. Fine, except that I don't think the men laying with men is talking about a committed homosexual relationship. I still don't see how that answers why we should heed the sin (whether or not we agree on what "men laying with men" means) and not the punishment.

From there you go on to reference Matthew 15:

"Jesus is not an advocate of capital punishment for this offense, but yet He still validates it's reality as sin. How do you get around Jesus' own usage of this text?"

Which I dealt with in my previous post. Recapped briefly: I think Jesus was using their laws to show how they weren't adhering to their laws, how they were picking and choosing laws (and subsequent rules and interpretations) to obey and missing the greater intent of the law.

And I still don't see how you get to the point where we must adhere to the rule but not the punishment.

You then went on to cite our legal system, whose penalties change with time (as do the rules/laws themselves). And I don't understand how this is applicable. God gave a command, if you believe it that way, that we MUST KILL ("they shall surely be put to death") disrespectful children, adulterers and "men who lay with men."

Jesus did not change that command. Where do we get off changing that command (the punishment) but not the rule behind it?

The reason this is important is because we must cipher out what we ought to do with these OT rules. Ignore them? I think not. Accept them literally, word for word? I think not (which doesn't mean I take the Bible any less literally than anyone else, by the way). Interpret them in context of the whole Bible, Jesus' teachings and what we know of God's nature? Yes, this is what I think.

Dan,

I don't have much time right now, but do you understand the difference in the Law and the Traditions? You have been confusing the two for most of our discussion. Jesus conformed completely to the Law -- He never broke it. But the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were angry at Him because He didn't follow the traditions, which were extra-Biblical. All of your citations in which you claim He didn't follow the Law, were actually times when He didn't follow the Traditions. This is where I am suspect about your knowledge of Scripture. Go pick up any commentary (liberal or conservative) and you will find a description of the differences. If Christ didn't keep all of the Law, He wouldn't have been perfect and thus He wouldn't have been the perfect sacrifice. I will say more on this soon.

"do you understand the difference in the Law and the Traditions?...He never broke it [the Law]."

Yes, I understand the difference.

Do you understand that Jesus specifically told those who wanted to stone the adulterous woman in accordance with the Law, not to do so - thereby encouraging the breaking of the Law?

(Contrary to your statement - "All of your citations in which you claim He didn't follow the Law, were actually times when He didn't follow the Traditions." And I will point out again that you're coming across with that condescending arrogance that turns so many people away from the church - not that you're "hurting my feelings," I'm just pointing it out.)

I understand that typically when Jesus was breaking some rules, he was in violation of the Traditions, not the Law.

I think our interpretations of what the Bible says are often more closely aligned to the Traditions of the Pharisees, vs what the Bible actually says. And so it seems entirely appropriate to include these as references.

And so, when the Pharisees accused Jesus of working on the Sabbath (according to their interpretation of "work"), Jesus reminded them that the Sabbath was for us, not us for the Sabbath.

Similarly, when the religious accuse married gays of being "men laying with men," I would remind you that sexuality is a gift to be honored in marriage for all, not a club to beat down those who have a different orientation.

Dan,

First, John 8 is rejected by almost all moderate and liberal scholars as having not been written by Luke, so to make a point from John 8 is to do so from a sporadic text, not the best way to argue any position. Still, you are committing a logical fallacy. My argument is that sin and punishment are two separate entities, yours is that there are to be held the same. Thus if I were to affirm your argument, you would be right, but I don't. Therefore, you argument is not valid for this discussion. Jesus' words often called for MERCY and GRACE rather than JUSTICE. Mercy and grace are fully within His ability to give and He calls us to do the same. Actually, this conforms well to the OT. God in many instances did not punish the Israelites according to Justice, but instead gave them Mercy and Grace. That is not a breaking of the commandment to give less punishment. In fact, many of the Laws were written so that a person convicted of sin would be given Justicen and not too harsh of a penalty (see also Divorce for God calling on a stricter standard than the one imposed through the OT).

So, again, you are down to one example of Jesus breaking the Law -- a sporatic text in which He gave mercy to a woman who otherwise deserved death. Now, tell me Dan is it more logical to think that Jesus broke the Law and called others to do so (though no scholars support your position here and it would be damning for Jesus in regards to His sinlessness according to the Law), or is it more logical that my argument is true that one is able, by the Law to decrease the punishment prescribed in the OT, though never decreasing the guilt of that person?

You said,
" think our interpretations of what the Bible says are often more closely aligned to the Traditions of the Pharisees, vs what the Bible actually says. And so it seems entirely appropriate to include these as references."

Dan, your personal views here don't matter. Let me show you how illogical your statement is here. This is what you are saying in essence.

1. The Traditions are not the Law.
2. Jesus broke the Traditions.
3. I think the Law and Traditions are the same thing today.
4. Therefore, Jesus broke the Law.

This is just silly Dan. And I don't mean that condescendingly or arrogant, but it is just a fact. Just because you think we add to the Law doesn't make it so and the verses we are discussing don't come from the Traditions, they come straight out of the Law.

Finally, when you say,
"Okay. Fine, except that I don't think the men laying with men is talking about a committed homosexual relationship."

You are here giving up it seems and going back to a previous argument we discussed. If you remember (and I don't have time to find it now, but I will), I noted that "loving" HMS relationships were common in that era and yet there is no evidence from the text that these people were excluded. Again, historical evidence suggests that the Jews believed this to be the case, even up to the time of Jesus where William Barclay notes in his Romans commentary that few Jews would have had to deal with this aspect of "loving" relationships (though they were rampant in that time period) because it was forbidden in the Law and understood to be wrong regardless of what type of relationship it was.

Dan, I think you are backed into a corner now and instead of actually looking at the evidence, you are trying to fight you way out using any bad argument you can muster. Deal with the evidence Dan. It doesn't support your conclusion. And Romans 1 is even worse for you. Maybe you should do some more prayer and reconsider whether you were wrong when you changed your opinion the first time.

Now, I am sorry that you think I am being arrogant or condescending, but I went back and re-read my previous post and I thought that neither were conveyed and I think the same about this post, so let's stop worrying about how we are coming across and start dealing with the text at hand.

Before we continue, could you clarify:

"First, John 8 is rejected by almost all moderate and liberal scholars as having not been written by Luke, so to make a point from John 8 is to do so from a sporadic text, not the best way to argue any position."

You're saying that John 8 was not written by Luke...? OK. What's that have to do anything? Am I supposed to think that John 8 was written by Luke? I truly am confused by this statement, and I apologize again for my thick-headedness if I'm missing something.

Beyond that, whoever wrote it, are you saying that John 8 is not scriptural? Doesn't belong in the Bible?

Isn't that a bit blasphemous for your type - removing jots and tittles from the Word?

Sorry, I had two thoughts in my head at the same time. It wasn't written by John and in some early manuscripts it is found in two different places in Luke. If you look at the context of the passage it doesn't really fit with what comes before and then what goes after. Basically it was a text looking for a location.

My point was that John 8 was not original to the text of Scripture. It was a later addition and thus it is spurious. Spurious texts generally cannot be used to prove major points, like yours. And no it doesn't betray my view of inerrancy. My view is that the original documents were inerrant and thus since we are sure that 98% of what we have is the original documents (and we know what isn't original to the text and most of the other 2% is misspelled words that we aren't sure how they should be spelled and texts like Mark 16 and John 8), I view the Bible as completely reliable and use the word inerrant. You should read the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy for more information on this (again you have seeminly been misinformed about Evangelical theology and Biblical studies).

Now, I made that point first, but it is actually my secondary argument. Please deal with the primary argument against your view here.

Thanks for the clarification.

1. You said:
"My argument is that sin and punishment are two separate entities, yours is that there are to be held the same."

No. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Your argument is that the OT Law is to be adhered to. My position is that they are to be taken under advisement and compared to the rest of the Word and Jesus' teachings.

I certainly agree with the proposition that sin and punishment are two separate entities. What I’m saying is that what you’re saying is, “the Law applies to us all and is to be taken literally except for the parts that we say ought not be taken literally…”

You have no biblical basis for making such a statement. What traditionally the church has done (and you seem to be doing) with the Law is to separate it in to Moral, Civic and Ceremonial laws (with you doing the additional separation of Rules vs Punishment). And then, the traditionalists say, “we must obey the Moral laws for they are universal. Civic and Ceremonial laws (as well as Punishments) need not apply to us today.”

Is that fair?

You go on to say (about punishment):

“God in many instances did not punish the Israelites according to Justice, but instead gave them Mercy and Grace. That is not a breaking of the commandment to give less punishment.”

So, is that your position? That the rules stand valid - everyone of them (except the Abominable Shrimp rule), but that the punishment was merely a guideline that can we can be flexible with?

In reference to all of the above I must say that there is no biblical reason for breaking up the law into these categories. It is all random. Who decides which rules fit in which categories? I’ve been saying this all along and nothing you’ve said has made me think differently. These conditions are extrabiblical.

Note that I’m not totally or even mostly disagreeing with them – some of these rules are ceremonial or civic or universal in nature. What I’m saying is that our breaking them down in to these categories is something WE do to make sense of them. It’s not innately distinguished in the Bible that this is the way to do so.

For example, "love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19:18) is followed in the very next verse by the law "do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material" (19:19). Should verse 18 be applied as binding, while verse 19 is dismissed as non-applicable altogether, falling in to the Ceremonial or Civic category? Why? Who says?

My point is that we must make these distinctions the best we can. Some rules certainly are universal. Some rules certainly are clear. But not every Christian will come to the same conclusion on which rules are clear and which are universal.

2. You said:
“So, again, you are down to one example of Jesus breaking the Law -- a sporatic text in which He gave mercy to a woman who otherwise deserved death. Now, tell me Dan is it more logical to think that Jesus broke the Law and called others to do so… or is it more logical that my argument is true that one is able, by the Law to decrease the punishment prescribed in the OT?

If you wish to dispose of the adulterous woman passage, it is okay with me, although I’ve always found that it rings true.

But as to your question, “is it more logical to think that Jesus broke the law…?” My answer is No. I do not think at all that Jesus broke God's Law.

My position is that this is not a Law that applied to Jesus or the people of his time (or ours). It was either a rule that changed or that was misinterpreted to begin with. But it is my position that Jesus broke the Law as they understood it.

Further, I don’t have a problem with your notion that one can decrease a punishment in mercy – but I’m not the more literal literalist. I think this is okay because of the nature of God as revealed in scripture and through Jesus. But it is not spelled out that we can take this liberty anywhere. It is our interpretation that allows us to get there.

3. Dan said,
" think our interpretations of what the Bible says are often more closely aligned to the Traditions of the Pharisees, vs what the Bible actually says. And so it seems entirely appropriate to include these as references."

And you replied:
”Dan, your personal views here don't matter.”

And that’s what I’m getting at here. These are ALL our personal views. It is your and my personal view that it is okay to not take the punishment commandment literally because of our knowledge of the nature of God, because of what the rest of scripture says. Are we not in agreement on this point?!

I think the thing that what differentiates us is that you are uncomfortable with the notion of admitting that we don’t take God’s commandment (to punish the sinner a certain way) literally (for a variety of good reasons). Am I mistaken?

4. You said:
“Just because you think we add to the Law doesn't make it so…” I could point out a bunch of ways that this is the case but that would be a diversion, so we’ll let it slide for now.

5. To return to the notion that Jesus never broke any Laws, but instead broke only Traditions…

I refer you to the story of Jesus' disciples harvesting wheat on a Sabbath.

Exodus 34:21 tells us “For six days you may work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; on that day you must rest even during the seasons of plowing and harvesting.”

Jesus harvesting grain on the Sabbath is a violation of this commandment. This Law, not tradition.

Beyond that, I think you’re getting overly hung up on a misinterpretation of Jesus’ suggestion that he did not come to abolish the Law. Hebrews 8 tells us “Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises…Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah …When he speaks of a "new" covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing.”

Was Jesus wrong? Is Hebrews? Or, are we talking about new revelation? A better understanding of God and God’s ways? I think orthodoxy and an honest reading of the scripture tells us that we are not under the Old Law, but the New.


6. You said:
“Deal with the evidence Dan. It doesn't support your conclusion. And Romans 1 is even worse for you. Maybe you should do some more prayer and reconsider whether you were wrong when you changed your opinion the first time.”

I will if you will. You have prayed this over and asked God to reveal to you Truth, not Traditions?

cDan,

I am glad to see that you are actually taking the time to construct your arguments now. That is a good thing. However, I still think you are missing some points.

1. I take everything in the Law literally. The opposite is figurative. Nothing is figurative about the Law. You believe that I am saying, “the Law applies to us all and is to be taken literally except for the parts that we say ought not be taken literally…”, yet I have never made such a statement. My position again is that the moral Law is a guide to how we should live. The Law is not negated, and as Paul says, it is our teacher. Jesus said that not one stroke will pass away from it and despite your continual refusal to see it, Jesus never broke the Law, nor did He encourage others to do so.

(Your example of harvest wheat is problematic - the disciples didn't harvest, they picked the wheat because they were hungry -- about this John MacArthur says, "Actually no law prohibited the plucking of grain in order to eat on the Sabbath. The Law permitted a person to glean handfuls of grain from a neighbor's field to satisfy his immediate hunger (Deut. 23:25). It prohibits only labor for the sake of profit. Thus a farmer could not harvest for profit on the Sabbath, but an individual could glean grain to eat." Additionally, Jesus uses the example of David and his men who did not break the Sabbath when they entered into the temple. Why? Because the priest gave it to them for a legitimate need of sustenance. It is obvious here the the Pharisees misunderstood the Law, not that Jesus deliberatly broke it. Hence, Jesus words, "have you not read" a direct rebuke meant to call out their ignorance.)

Now, the Law, again is to be kept as much as possible within our own culture. There is nothing figurative about it. However, our culture does not reflect their culture, thus we must contextualize the Law into our culture somewhat (however, this is not as difficult as you make it out to be), though most of the Law was straight forward, universal moral rules. In the case of HMS, there is no evidence to suggest that this is not a universal moral law given its location in the Law, and the penalty it carried with it.

And that brings us back to Jesus words in Matthew 15. This is what you said:
"To me, Jesus is attacking their religious traditions that are ungodly, despite the fact that they may have "scriptural" or religious reasons for holding them.

e. So, while the OT may have rules that were given THEN, I think Jesus is telling us that these traditions are not intended to hold true forever."

This is why I asked you if you knew the difference between the Traditions and the Law. In your conclusions here you made them out to be the same thing. What is really going on in this passage is not a rejection of any portion of the Law (the same Law that we are disputing about), but rather Jesus is contrasting the Law with the Traditions (something we both would agree we should not hold on to).

Jesus very straightforwardly acknowledges the Law of honoring one's mother and father. In fact, He quotes the whole text including the punishment. We have already established that you believe Jesus was against capital punishment and thus you don't think He would have advocated killing someone for such an action. However, you must acknowledge that Jesus believed the Law was still binding. And in fact, contrary to your argument, He scolds the Pharisees for not keeping this Law, but rather writing their Traditions in such as way that they could circumvent this Law, which they did not want to have to obey when it came down to issues of money. Notice carefully Jesus words here in v.6, "And by this you invalidate the word of God for the sake of your traditions." He is contrasting their keeping of the traditions with their lack of keeping the Law. He is showing them that they are not adhering to the Law, but rather getting around it by making up Traditions and forcing people to hold to them. That is not what you and I are discussing. We are discussing the Law, something that was not changed, but dictated by God to the Israelites. My point is that you must keep the two straight otherwise we have to continue to pursue these tangents.

As for your shrimp argument that you continue to bring up time and time again. I noted a long time ago that Christ Himself, in His resurrected and glorified state, rescended those laws for the purpose of removing a stumbling block to the Gentiles. In a similar way (though reflective of cultic or ritual laws), there is no need for Gentiles to be circumsized (though in our culture we still adhere to that for the sake of cleanliness -- which is an interesting thing, don't you thing?).

Now, quickly let's deal with Hebrews 8. This is speaking specifically of the covenant, not the Law. The Law was a unit within the covenant, true, but again, the Law was given to keep the Israelites within the covenant and show them concretely when they had transgressed the covenant (remember the Holy Spirit had not yet gone out and the Jews did not have the conscience like the Gentiles did). So when the author of Hebrews discusses the obliteration of the covenant, he is not saying that the Law itself if abolished, but rather the covenant has changed. Now the Law is not necessary in order to show them what is written there. Now, the Law is written on their hearts so they know what to do. Thus the implication is that they will still fulfill the Law, but not out of a need to be ritualistically pure and in fellowship with God, but out of a sincere desire to follow Christ because of a changed heart. This is why I am so sure that practicing, non-repentant HMS can absolutely not be Christians, because in breaking the Law, they show it is not written on their hearts. The Law written on our hearts should correspond to the Law written in God's Word.

And with that I rest my case on Leviticus. You can comment back, but I want us to move on to Romans 1 and then once we deal with that we can write closing statements and be done. What do you say?

Daniel, you have such an awesome blog!

You started this article out with a reference to ABC. I am the Area Minister (DOM) that was fired in part for saying the practice of homosexuality is sin and God is greater than our sin. Bruce Shipul in California was also fired by ABC National Ministries after PSW announced their intention to explore separation.

You say, "As Christians we are called to be united, but not at any cost."

I say Amen. Thanks for the great thread,

Art Jaggard
www.beaconchurches.net

Yes, by all means, let's try to wrap up the two passages in the whole of the OT that seem to touch on homosexuality.

1. You said, "I take everything in the Law literally."

That we are to kill men who lay with men, disrespectful children and adulterers?

Could you please directly answer that one question: DO you think we ought to kill the above-mentioned? Yes or no?

Do you get my confusion here? That is the result of a literal interpretation of what the Law says. You can say that the punishment is separate from the rule if you want, (and I'm thankful for that) but capitalism for all manner of offenses IS what one gets from a literal reading of the Law.

2. Your point is taken about the wheat and Deuteronomy 23. But consider this:

The Traditions that the Pharisees had were extensions of what they considered the Law to be saying. What does it mean to work on the Sabbath? Well, here are 400 detailed explanations of what that means...

Right?

And OUR traditions, while not usually codified to the degree the Jewish traditions were codified, are very similar. Thou shalt not curse. Thou shalt not drink beer, nor smoke cigarettes (and certainly not marijuana).

These are all extensions of what some think the Bible says. They are not in the Bible, but some think they're reasonable extrapolations.

Similarly, "Gay marriages are wrong," is an extension of what people find in the Bible. It's a Tradition, not a rule found anywhere in the Bible. It's not there, but some think it a reasonable extrapolation. And, given what the Bible says, some don't.

Even if one could say that Jesus never broke any Laws, but only Traditions (and I'd have to research some more to know if that's true), this is really no different than what we're talking about here.

3. You said:

"Now, the Law, again is to be kept as much as possible within our own culture. There is nothing figurative about it. However, our culture does not reflect their culture, thus we must contextualize the Law into our culture somewhat"

Says who? That seems an entirely reasonable statement to me, but it is an extrabiblical assumption that we must make. It is very important to understand this.

Are we in agreement on that point?

It is important to understand because this is what we're both doing. We're taking what the Bible says (specifically, the Law right now) and, given what we know about God and their culture vs our culture, we're making some educated guesses about what "men shall not lay with men" means. And we're coming up with two different answers.

But your answer, while fitting within our Traditions (and maybe the Jewish Traditions, as well) is not a strictly biblical answer, but an extrapolated one.

4. You said:

"As for your shrimp argument that you continue to bring up time and time again. I noted a long time ago that Christ Himself, in His resurrected and glorified state, rescended those laws for the purpose of removing a stumbling block to the Gentiles."

I bring it up time and again because it is a critical point. But I have yet to have time to really deal with it as much as I'd like so I'll do so now.

Eating water creatures without scales is described in the Law as an abomination. As is "men laying with men." And I believe that is one reason that we (traditionalists) are so opposed to homosexuality is because of the strong connotations of that word - abomination!

Abomination: Abhorrence; disgust. We take that to mean that something that is an abomination is disgusting to God - against God's very nature!

And yet, we can see from the context of the abominable shrimp that what is described as an abomination CAN NOT be against God's nature, because, as you say, the Rule was changed. God's nature does not change, right?

Further, as I understand it (and I'm no linguist, just know what I've read), the word translated abomination has more of the meaning, as I stated earlier, "In Biblical terms to'ba does not carry the same sense of exceptionalism as the English term. It simply signifies that which is forbidden or unclean according to the religion." (And if you think wikipedia is wrong on this, please feel free to elucidate me).

And, as you yourself pointed out, no other of the rules given in Lev. 18 has this abomination tag on it - not incest or beastiality!!

I'm out of time, I'll continue this as soon as I get a chance.

Dan, don't worry about adding any more. So far most of your arguments are circular and self-referential. I am tired of talking about the difference in the sin and the punishment. I get you -- you don't get it and you are going to beat the dead horse until you get me to quit talking about it. I still think you are wrong, wrong, wrong, but I can't convince you and that is fine. I thinking looking back I have made a much better argument than you have and thus I am satisfied with my answers so far. I have answered the "killing gays" question more times than I can count and yet you still don't care to deal with my argument of Jesus words in Matthew 15. I wouldn't want to deal with it either if I were you. So is Jesus' words on the Law. Don't deal with those either, otherwise you might have to give up your position.

And talking about extrapolation -- how far do you have to go to get from "don't lay with a man as one lies with a woman" to "'loving' HMS relationships are glorifying to God." That's real extrapolation. And again, Romans 1 is clear on this as well. So that is why I am going there. I acknowledge that the current position of many Evangelicals and most moderates and all liberals on the Law is so skewed from 1st c. Christianity, as well as the Reformation that it is difficult to prove my case that HMS sex (whether in a relationship or promiscuously) from the orthodox view of the Law.

So, let's move on. Make your closing statement on the verses in Leviticus and then I will make mine. Next, I will begin Romans 1 and then you can respond (though I am going to begin with the setting and background of Romans first and then go from there - so at the beginning there won't be much to respond to).

So let's hear your closing statement on the Law and the Levitical verses on homosexuality.

Art, thanks for your kind words about my blog. I am a huge supporter of groups like the ABCPSW because of the stand their are taking in the midst of intense pressure to conform to unBiblical views. I am sorry to hear you and you Mr. Shipul lost your jobs over this, but at the same time I rejoice with you that you have "been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name."

May God continue to bless you as you stand up for the truth of God's word and His righteousness in a depraved world. I am thankful for those men who came before me and made it possible for me to fellowship in a denomination (SBC) where truth is proclaimed unswervingly. Know that generations of men will thank you as well for your committment to Biblical integrity.

Please feel free to contact me if you ever need anything that I might be able to assist you with or if you are in the Louisville or Memphis areas.

1. "I have answered the "killing gays" question more times than I can count "

Daniel, before we move on, please answer my death penalty question one more time. Humor me. Excuse my idiocy and tell me, do you believe that the law (punishment) that says we are to kill certain folk is to be applied?

A yes or no is all I need. Or, if you can't answer yes or no (which you haven't yet, despite your many words), then a "sometimes" would be acceptable. But one word is all I need and we can move on.

I know you believe in grace and mercy sometimes, but is that grace and mercy universally to be applied or is it hit and miss?

Kill or not kill, yes, no, or sometimes, please?

And I'm very glad that you feel like you've done so well in presenting your side, (even though I am still unclear on a basic point such as this - I'm obviously an idiot and you are a genius, praise Daniel!). Good for you. Self-esteem is important.

2. "yet you still don't care to deal with my argument of Jesus words in Matthew 15."

I have dealt with it. May 10, 4:10am. With an 800 word, 8 point answer, since you seem to like wordy answers (at least for yourself). Did you miss it? Because I didn't say, "oh, lordy, massa Daniel, you're right, yessir!" doesn't mean I didn't answer it. I apologize for not sufficiently bowing and scraping to your greater erudition and godliness.

geez.

3. And speaking of unanswered points, you have failed to respond to my point about abomination.

I'll make it easy for you (you can cut and paste, if it helps):

Does God's nature change? Yes or no.

Was it in God's nature to find both shrimp and "men laying with men" an abomination? Yes or no.

OR do you understand that the word translated "abomination" is more likely about ritual laws and what is taboo and what isn't, and less about God's nature?
Yes, it is about what is taboo and not about God's nature
No, it IS about God's nature

Is being spoken down to sucky? Yes or no.

4. Finally, do you understand that we are both looking at the Law and trying to decide which parts apply (based upon the whole of the Bible and what we know of God and life) and which are more cultural in nature or, quite simply, that we're not sure of the meaning?

You said:

"I acknowledge that the current position of many Evangelicals and most moderates and all liberals on the Law is so skewed from 1st c. Christianity, as well as the Reformation that it is difficult to prove my case that HMS sex (whether in a relationship or promiscuously) from the orthodox view of the Law."

Okay, yes it is difficult to prove your case from an orthodox view of the law (2 verses therein), I'll agree with that.

So, yes, let's move on but please answer these few short answers so I can know where you're coming from as I'm just not sure. A yes or no answer would clear up a lot of lack of understanding of your position on my part. Or is there some reason why you're not able to provide a straightforward answer?

My closing statement is, as it has been from the beginning:

1. There are only two verses in all of the OT that seem to deal with homosexuality. These verses seem clearly to condemn "men laying with men."
2. Many verses are offered from the OT that traditionalists have said are about homosexuality (Sodom and Gomorrah, for instance), but they're simply not.
3. These two verses are in the Law portion of the OT.
4. We do not take every verse in the law literally (we wear polyester and we do not observe the Jubilee Laws at all, for instance, both violations of the Law)
5. We do not observe every law within the Law because we recognize that God is continually giving us new revelations, deeper and better understanding (as in the NT's revelation that we can eat any food, that shrimp are okay to eat!). We also recognize that some portions of the Law seem to be directed to a particular people at a particular time, for whatever reason, and are not, therefore, universal in nature.
6. The two verses in Leviticus that appear to deal with homosexuality are less than clear. Is men laying with men talking about only male homosexuality? Is it talking about some practice that was common in the pagan religions of the area before the Israelites settled there (such as men bedding down boys or temple prostitution)? Perhaps. It's just not clear and there is nothing within the OT that clears that up. We can only gather a better understanding through trying to educate ourselves about the practices of the peoples of that time and, ultimately, through God's revelation to us.
7. Therefore, the presence of two verses in the Law is not sufficient - in and of themselves - for us to base a position upon. We would need further evidence one way or the other to know that homosexuality is wrong in God's eyes or, if a loving gay marriage is a blessed thing.

Hey, you're bumping up close to 100 comments here!

D.R., I'm sorry if I am breaking in and you can delete this if you wish.
However, after reading Dan T.'s last post I feel heartsick. The following portion of Dan T.'s last post reveals an attitude that I fear is an unteachable spirit and it grieves me.

And I'm very glad that you feel like you've done so well in presenting your side, (even though I am still unclear on a basic point such as this - I'm obviously an idiot and you are a genius, praise Daniel!). Good for you. Self-esteem is important.

2. "yet you still don't care to deal with my argument of Jesus words in Matthew 15."

I have dealt with it. May 10, 4:10am. With an 800 word, 8 point answer, since you seem to like wordy answers (at least for yourself). Did you miss it? Because I didn't say, "oh, lordy, massa Daniel, you're right, yessir!" doesn't mean I didn't answer it. I apologize for not sufficiently bowing and scraping to your greater erudition and godliness.

Marilyn

What Marilyn? Daniel can berate and speak down to me but if I tease him back similarly then I am unteachable?

He started it! Na na na na boo boo...

You know what? You're right, Miss Marilyn. Those comments are pretty snarky.

I apologize.

Thanks Dan T., No problem. I have been guilty of having a sharp tongue myself before, so if I ever get to the place that I cannot forgive someone, I am in trouble because I need the Lord's forgiveness every day.
May Christ be glorified in my own life, is my prayer. Marilyn

Dan,

If I have given you the impression that by my occasional sarcasm and frustrated speech that I at all think that the level of disrespect and childishness displayed in your last comment is appropriate for this discussion, then please forgive me and know that is certainly not the case. I realize that I have been difficult at times and allowed myself to write in frustration and with uncontrolled passion at times, but I think what you said is a bit over the top. I don't expect an apology and I am not asking for one, but I do want to make it clear that neither of us needs to go there again.

Now, I think we have exhausted one another enough to safely say we need to end the discussion on the Levitical passages in question. So I ask you again to offer your closing remarks on Leviticus and then I shall follow with mine and then an introduction to the passage in Romans 1. Realize that I am not avoiding your questions, but I do not think that either of is going to be satisfied by each others' answers to any of our questions at this point and thus an end must be drawn to this. So let us move on in hopes that we will both be better behaved, having a fresh start.

Daniel, I did offer my closing remarks on Leviticus, right before Marilyn's comment.

And please answer my remaining questions before concluding if you wish to be clear to me.

Or, if nothing else, please respond to the following comment:

Leviticus says we are to kill disrespectful children and I think this is true and to be taken literally. Yes, no, unsure, sometimes or some similar short response.

I truly don't know your position. I THINK you're saying that "Leviticus is to be taken literally but that it's okay to give mercy on the punishment side of the verse, (and thereby not take it literally)" but I'm not sure.

This is important for me to know your position because it factors in to my argument in Romans. Yes, no or other?

Thanks.

Ok Dan, let me answer your questions some we can move on. First, let me say that my statement that I am satisfied by my argument was not meant to be snotty or arrogant, but was made in an attempt to bring closure. I think you read into it a tone that wasn't there. I simply felt content that I had answered your question regarding punishment v. sin rather well and that you had not given a well-reasoned response to my questions. I still don't think your answer to one of the four or five questions that I asked about that passage was sufficient, but I am content to let it go. Also, I had one more argument in addition to Jesus' words in Matthew 15 and our changing civil code in regard to punishment, but since I felt this was sufficient I didn't share it. But, since I think it answers your question and again defends my position, I am going to share it with you.

So let me begin by stating this: If you are asking me if I believe the State (in this case the U.S.) has a right to impose capital punishment upon criminals for certain crimes and if I support that right of the State, believing it to be within NT teachings for the State to do so, then the answers is most certainly, "YES!" If you are asking me if we should circumvent the State and inflict capital punishment upon anyone breaking the Law of God where 1) that is the punishment laid down in the Law of Moses and 2) the State does not prescribe such a punishment for such a crime or doesn't even consider such an action a crime at all then I would offer again a most certain, "NO!" We don't have such a right and we should not do so. And further this is why:

1. We don't live in a theocratic state, nor do we live in a covenental community like that of the Israelites to whom God gave the Law as a condition of His covenant with them.

2. Those who are not Christian and do not voluntarily fall within our jurisdiction (like the entire U.S.) have not made a committment to keep the Law or to be accountable to it or us for the sake of their salvation, as the covenant community under Moses did.

3. Our purity, unlike that of the covenant community of Israel, isn't dependant upon the perfect keeping of the Law (for more on this see the sin of Achan in Joshua 8), but rather individually it is dependant upon the shed blood of Christ and His atoning work on the cross, as well as the imputation of His righteousness into our lives.

4. Though the purity of each person is not dependant upon the keeping of the Law by the entire community, we are still called as Christians to be lawful individuals and keeping the Law is a sign of our salvation (though not the only one -- for more see the threefold test of 1 John).

5. While we do not live in a covenant community in the U.S., we do worship in a local body and thus we are accountable to that thing we call a Church for our actions. Thus I do think that within our local bodies, Christ and Paul both commissioned us to inflict punishment upon individuals for breaking the moral Law of God. However, we must do that as prescribed by Jesus in Matthew 18 and Paul in 1 Cor. 5, in which the ultimate punishment is disfellowship or, as the Catholics call it, excommunication.

6. So as I said earlier we must contextualize the Law into our culture and situation. We don't function in the same societal ways as did the Israelites and we certainly don't all live under God's Law in the U.S., so we cannot require those not under grace to live under the Law that it written into the hearts of Christians, though we can agree that all must live under the laws of the State.

In the end, then there are good reasons for disassociating the sin spoken of in in the Law and the punishment prescribed for it therein. Still, I maintain that apart from this argument, Jesus' words in Matthew 15 as well as His resounding words on the Law in various other places are enough of a reason to believe that the Law that is written on our hearts is the same that is written in His word and thus HMS was and still is a sin in the eyes of God, even if we as Christians do not punish unbelieving men in the same way as the covenant community was called to in Israel. This dynamic changes everything, as does the revelation (BTW, I reject your seeming suggestion that there is new revelation apart from the OT and the NT canon) laid down by the NT that no longer is there any distinction between Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave or free, but all must come to Christ in order to be freed from sin and none are dependant upon any other than Christ for their salvation.

Now, having answered your question again on this let me move quickly to answer the rest so that we can be done.

"And speaking of unanswered points, you have failed to respond to my point about abomination."

Again, I felt confident in my argument and since this is a minor point, I didn't feel the need to address it. I think you have committed the exegetical fallacy of equivocation (see D.A. Carson's book, Exegetical Fallacies for more on this), in which you have taken one word in one context and applied it to all contexts in the exact same way. The word in question has a range of meanings and since we know that the Hebrew vocabulary was limited, it stands to reason that the meaning was due to change based on the context. The two contexts you equivocate are very different indeed and thus I believe that is why in the context of sexual sins "abomination" or "detestible" is often employed by translators and "forbidden" is used when dealing with food. Let me give you an example from Greek in how this is done. In Mark, it is said that ALL in Jerusalem and ALL Judea were going out to see John the Baptist. Now we know that the word there has a range of usage and in this context it was hyperbolic and meant "large numbers", but in Romans when Paul says, ALL have sinned, it means "every person everywhere." In English we do the same thing when we say something like "getting to the heart of the matter" and then turn around and talk about the organ in our chests. Context dictates usage, even as in Hebrew.

"Does God's nature change? Yes or no."
NO! He is unchangable.


"Was it in God's nature to find both shrimp and "men laying with men" an abomination? Yes or no.

OR do you understand that the word translated "abomination" is more likely about ritual laws and what is taboo and what isn't, and less about God's nature?
Yes, it is about what is taboo and not about God's nature
No, it IS about God's nature"

This is covered in my argument for nonequivocation. But still God's nature doesn't change, thus your quesiton doesn't reflect my position and is unanswerable in its current state.

"Is being spoken down to sucky? Yes or no."
Again I think you misunderstood my tone and assumed this was what I was doing. I think what you did in your extreme sarcasm was way over the top and inappropriate and like I said before I trust won't be happening again.

"Finally, do you understand that we are both looking at the Law and trying to decide which parts apply (based upon the whole of the Bible and what we know of God and life) and which are more cultural in nature or, quite simply, that we're not sure of the meaning?"

Not really. I think you are trying to justify the actions of your friends who are living in sin. I think it is obvious what parts of the law deal with cultural aspects and I think the NT is clear on issues like the Sabbath and the eating of "shrimp" (as you love to talk about). Other than that I don't see much interpretation that we really have to do in regards to the Law. And I think that we have no right to ignore anything in the Law not directly spoken about in the NT as being revoked (e.g. food laws).



Now, I did not see your closing statments previously so let me apologize for asking for them again. I was so floored by your outrageous statements above that I quit reading, especially since my previous two days have been hellish. Your comments were not something I wanted to read. That is another reason why I have taken this long to respond.

Anyway, so that is my answer. I doubt you will like it, but I do think I answered your questions.

Now, tonight I will post my final comments and sometime tomorrow I will begin the discussion on Romans 1. Thanks and have a great weekend.

Thank you for the answers. It helps.

1. As I understand it then, in response to verses in the Law such as, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman...they shall surely be put to death" is that we do not literally have to put them to death. That we can offer grace and mercy.

So the answer to the question: "Are we to take that whole verse literally?" is No. The gov't shouldn't put disrespectful children to death, nor should Christians. "No." That is the answer - for a whole variety of reasons with which I agree.

I just had to be sure for later arguments.

That's all I needed. Thanks.

2. In response to my question about whether you realize that we are both trying to discern God's word to us from the Bible, you said:

"Not really. I think you are trying to justify the actions of your friends who are living in sin."

The problem with this is that it is just what you think. What you think doesn't really matter so much as what reality is. What Truth is.

Let me tell you a story: my best friend growing up is a Christian who supports Bush's war in Iraq. My very best friend. The best man in my wedding.

And yet, I confronted him on his un-Christlike support for a war-mongering president. For that sin, I confronted my dearest friend and we have talked a good deal about it.

You see, despite what you think, I have no problem confronting sin.

You further said:

"I think it is obvious what parts of the law deal with cultural aspects and I think the NT is clear..."

And again, it's not so much a matter of what you think, but what reality is. Reality may be that, for you, which words found within the Law are clear on what is and isn't an abomination, but not for everyone. We don't all agree.

Just like you don't agree that Jesus wouldn't oppose the dropping of bombs on cities, even though that is clear to me. We don't all agree. That's not perfect, but we must struggle through it nonetheless because that's the way it is.

Despite what you think, the reality is that I am reading my God's word, praying for my God's inspiration and finding a different message than the one you're finding.

And, if you're asking for me to reprint my closing thoughts, here they are, copied from above:

My closing statement is, as it has been from the beginning:

1. There are only two verses in all of the OT that seem to deal with homosexuality. These verses seem clearly to condemn "men laying with men."
2. Many verses are offered from the OT that traditionalists have said are about homosexuality (Sodom and Gomorrah, for instance), but they're simply not.
3. These two verses are in the Law portion of the OT.
4. We do not take every verse in the law literally (we wear polyester, do not kill disrespectful children and we do not observe the Jubilee Laws at all, for instance, both violations of the Law)
5. We do not observe every law within the Law because we recognize that God is continually giving us new revelations, deeper and better understanding (as in the NT's revelation that we can eat any food, that shrimp are okay to eat!). We also recognize that some portions of the Law seem to be directed to a particular people at a particular time, for whatever reason, and are not, therefore, universal in nature.
6. The two verses in Leviticus that appear to deal with homosexuality are less than clear. Is men laying with men talking about only male homosexuality? Is it talking about some practice that was common in the pagan religions of the area before the Israelites settled there (such as men bedding down boys or temple prostitution)? Perhaps. It's just not clear and there is nothing within the OT that clears that up. We can only gather a better understanding through trying to educate ourselves about the practices of the peoples of that time and, ultimately, through God's revelation to us.
7. Therefore, the presence of two verses in the Law is not sufficient - in and of themselves - for us to base a position upon. We would need further evidence one way or the other to know that homosexuality is wrong in God's eyes or, if a loving gay marriage is a blessed thing.

Dan, before I move to my closing comments, I want to clarify our definitions:

literal: "adhering to fact or to the ordinary construction or primary meaning of a term or expression" or "free from exaggeration or embellishment" or "characterized by a concern mainly with facts" (MW online Dict.)

figurative: "representing by a figure or resemblance : EMBLEMATIC" or "of or relating to representation of form or figure in art" or "expressing one thing in terms normally denoting another with which it may be regarded as analogous : METAPHORICAL" (MW online Dict.)

Literal describes my view of all of the Law including the punishment. Figurative doesn't describe any view of the Law. It doesn't represent anything. Figurative is something used to describe apocalyptic literature like what we find in Daniel or Revelation. It is written with symbols and not to be taken at face value. Contextualizing is not making something figurative. Additionally, when missionaries contextualize the Gospel they do not make it figurative in any way, but seek to find a way to express the meaning and message of Christ though the culture with which they are working. Similarly we are to live out the Law in our culture and yet also in reflection of the revelation of Jesus Christ. You are mistaken if you try to characterize my views of the Law as any bit figurative. I do not know how you could read what I wrote and then summarize it as "partly-literal" and "partly-figurative." I reject your analysis on the basis that my views do not correspond to the definition of "figurative" or to how we characterize texts with "figurative" meanings. We don't look at the Law like parables, especially not the punitive sections. You have attempted to oversimplify my views and in doing so have errored in your analysis. I hope you will see the obvious problems with your perceptions and not repeat this mistake when dealing with Romans, causing us additional misunderstanding and adding to the time it will take us to discuss the text itself.



Now, here are my closing thoughts:

1. My intent in discussing the verses regarding HMS recorded in Leviticus was to show that these verses do indeed indicate to us that God specifically told the Israelites not to engage in HMS sex. Additionally, I hoped to show that this Law has never been rescinded and that the punitive action associated with HMS sex along with the context of those verses in Leviticus (regarding sexual conduct that we still find inconsistent with Christianity) indicate that we ought to still take these verses seriously and that they still apply to our current situation.
2. In proceeding I believe that I have shown that the Law while no longer necessary for our salvation is written on our hearts and our actions should correspond to the Law. Regarding Dan's arguments, I believe that I have shown that the punitive aspects of the Law are not figurative, but rather must be contextualized to Christianity, where believers do not live in a theocratic state in which community purity is of the utmost concern, but rather we live in communities of faith under a non-relgious state government alongside of those with whom we disagree and urgently and fervently desire for their salvation. Jesus' words in Matthew 15 in which He derided the Pharisees for not keeping the Law, but ignoring it for their own convenience and desires though not condemning the perpetrators to death (though it was the prescribed penalty) perfectly reflects the culture in which He lived and in which we live as well -- one in which a secular government controls the law and doles out punishments based on the most basic universal laws on which every society, even those of extreme sin, find common ground. This cultural reflection of the Law does not detract in any way from the sinfulness of violating the Law, nor does it excuse the actions of those who seek to circumvent the Law through rationalization of sin.
3. I believe I have shown that many of Dan's arguments lack merit including the suggestion that the verses of Leviticus regarding HMS don't correspond to the culture of today in which there are mutual, exclusive HMS relationships. I have done this by showing the equal doling out of punishment to both offenders (showing his argument that the central message of these texts is not sexual ethics but exploitation to be lacking in credibility) and pointing out that the phrase "don't lie with a man as one lies with a woman" do not indicate any possible interpretation that would insert pedaphilia into the authorial intent. Additionally, Dan's argument of temple prostitution ignores the obvious relationship between an act and its perversion (the act itself coming prior to the perversion) as well as the fact that we have little evidence of organized cultic and ritualistic HMS in Canaan in the period during which the Law was given. Additionally, Dan's interpretation does not provide any provision for God's supernatural inspiration of this text and the fact that were His intent to bless HMS relationships that were mutual and committed, He left no evidence of such in the Law.
As to Dan's argument that we do not take every piece of the Law literally, he still has not indicated in any way how one could extrapolate (his word) from this text an interpretation that discounts either the entire passage on sexual ethics (especially since he agrees with it himself, other than the two verses dealing with HMS) and especially not the verses on HMS which are smashed between verses on incest, adultery, beastiality, and child sacrifice, which are indeed evil and non-discountable.
5. In the end Dan has at the most proven that the Levitical law is not enough proof that HMS in any form is wrong, though I do not believe that he has done so. Even so, he has not proven that these verses can be discounted, nor that they should.
6. I believe that my argument stands and not one stroke of the Law, according to Jesus, will pass away until He comes again and removes sin from the earth. Further, I believe that Romans 1 will show that Paul believed that HMS reflected a violation of the Law and the created order of God and thus is to be rejected as compatible with the Christian life.

Now, let's proceed with Romans 1.

Now Dan, let's begin our discussion of Romans 1. First I want to deal with the context of the letter. I am going to lay out for you my understanding of the context of the letter to Romans and how this passage in which we will deal has to do with that overall context. Then I am going to stop there and allow you to respond to it in any way you wish. So let’s begin.

Paul begins his letter to the Romans by telling them that he wants to come visit them basically because he is the divinely appointed messenger to the Gentiles and they are mainly a Gentile church and thus God has placed it in his heart to do so. But also Paul hopes to use Rome as a base of operations for future evangelistic crusade to Spain and is hoping they will lend him some support on his journey.

Vv.16-17 provide the theme for the entire book – God’s salvation. Paul mentions God’s righteousness in v.17 as the ground of salvation, but quickly turns to a discussion of God’s wrath. This juxtaposition is done in order to begin his exposition of the gospel that he preaches. The gospel always begins with sin. The righteousness of God requires the wrath of God and the wrath of God is thus necessary because of the sin of man. So we could draw a schematic of this:

Righteousness of God + Sin of Man = Wrath of God

Later we will see that

Righteousness of God + Sin of Man = Eternal Salvation through Christ or Eternal Wrath of God

But for now, Paul is concerned with the wrath of God that is being poured out on all men because of their sin.

Tom Schreiner (yes, the same man who is the pastor of the church we attend) notes in his BECNT commentary on Romans that “The theme of this section [1:18-3:20], then, is that God’s wrath is being righteously revealed against all people, both Gentiles and Jews, since all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). Both Gentiles and Jews have failed to honor God’s name and glorify Him as they should (1:21, 2:24)” (p.78).

Later, Dr. Schreiner points out that Paul first indicts the Gentiles (1:18-32) and then the Jews (2:1-3:8)” (p.79). This is important because homosexuality was not an activity largely prevalent in the Jewish community, but was normal in the prevailing Roman culture, which was very accepting of it. Mounce (New American Commentary, B&H, 1995) notes that William Barclay in his commentary, The Letter to the Romans (St. Andrews Press, 1957), that “fourteen out of the first fifteen Roman Emperors were homosexuals” (p.82 Mounce, p.32 Barclay). Add to that Plato’s Symposium, which according to James R. White (The Same-Sex Controversy, p.?), “written centuries before Paul wrote Romans, showed that the ancients were well aware of all the elements of modern homosexual behavior, even if they did not use the same exact words. Plato’s writings make reference to male homosexuality, lesbianism, the claims of some to be born as a willing mate of a man, the concept of mutuality, permanency, gay pride, pederasty, “homophobia,” motive, desire, passion, etc.” You can find additional evidence of this at this link. It would be false to say that Paul didn’t likely understand all this, especially knowing that he grew up in Tarsus, a thoroughly Roman city, and was himself a Roman citizen, schooled in Greek rhetoric and having most likely studied Plato among other philosophers of the previous centuries. We will return to Plato and his Symposium at a later date.

Paul’s point will eventually be that despite the efforts of the Gentiles (whom had a given a divinely-inspired conscience) and the Jews (whom God had given the Law), they had still transgressed the holiness of God and thus deserved the due punishment of eternal death. But God provided a way through the sacrifice of Christ and through the vehicle of faith for both Jews and Gentiles to have their sins atoned for and thus provided them with salvation.

Finally, Schreiner ends his explanation on the overall background of this section by asking, “Why did Paul write this section to the Church at Rome?” and answers with the following:

“He did not write it for the parenetic [Hortatory; encouraging; persuasive, from the Free Online Dictionary] purposes of calling the Roman church to repent (contra N. Elliot 1990: 110-46, 167-204). They had already repented and put their faith in Jesus…To use this section as a mirror to detect any specific problems in the Roman community is an error. In order to explain acceptably the Gospel that he preached, Paul needed to explain both how the Gentiles and particularly how the Jews related to it. The Romans Churches would have no reason to accept and promote the Pauline mission if they did not have a clear understanding of the Gospel he proclaimed” (p.80).

Now why is this important to our debate? Because we must understand the nature of Paul’s argument in vv.18-32 in order to establish the context for verses 24-27.

So far, do you disagree with anything I have said or with Schreiner’s position on the book’s general purpose and this section’s (1:18-32) specific function within that purpose? If so, exactly what is it that you disagree with and why do you do so? Additionally, what evidence do you have to back up your view if it is indeed different?

Before moving to Romans, I must question your interpretation of the word, "Literal." Your definition is fine (adhering to fact or to the ordinary construction or primary meaning of a term or expression) or, further fuller understanding, we may want to simplify what the above is saying to:

"adhering to the ordinary primary meaning of a term or expression"

When Leviticus says, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman...they shall surely be put to death," the literal meaning is that "IF A MAN LIES WITH A MAN THEY SHALL BE PUT TO DEATH."

That is the literal meaning of that phrase. There is no getting around it. Literally.

I think some inerrantists are afraid to say that we don't take every single line literally because they fear it will undermine their position (I reference your 100 word answer to my yes or no question) that the Bible is to be taken "literally."

We are certainly to take the Truths of the Bible literally. But we do not take every line literally. You have said so yourself with this verse, that no state nor christian should kill men laying with men. We do not pluck our eyes out if they cause us to sin. We do not adhere to the Holiness Code - even though there is nothing in the Bible that says God ever changed God's mind about it. We wear polyester, even though that is never dispelled with in the Bible.

We do not take the Bible line for line literally. Nor should we. We take the Truth of God literally.

We make interpretations of the Scriptures based upon the whole, with Jesus Christ's teachings as the criterion (or, at least, that's what Baptists used to do when I was growing up, I understand they've dispensed with that traditional wisdom since).

You have amply demonstrated that this is what you do. You gave a long and decent answer as to why we shouldn't kill gays, why it is okay to eat shrimp and, while you didn't answer it, I'm probably safe in thinking that you don't believe the Jubilee Laws are to be in effect today and I could cite many other examples of where you and I agree that we take what the Bible says and interpret it for our culture, with an understanding of their culture, by God's revelation to us through God's word and Jesus' teachings.

As we ought.

You said:
"I do not know how you could read what I wrote and then summarize it as "partly-literal" and "partly-figurative." I reject your analysis on the basis that my views do not correspond to the definition of "figurative"

I said nothing about taking parts of the Law figuratively or metaphorically - them's your words. I said, as did you, that we take the Law and make an interpretation based upon a variety of criteria and not necessarily word-for-word (or "literally").

What you've done there is erect a strawman argument and we need not really get off-topic in that way (and, as an aside, as a good bit of your defense of your position on Leviticus is based upon this strawman fallacy, you might want to reconsider some of your points).

I hope you will see the obvious problems with your perceptions and not repeat this mistake when dealing with Romans.

And now, may I make the suggestion that we take the Romans discussion to your latest post, as posting past 100 comments can be a bit awkward? If you prefer to keep it here, that's okay, too. I was just thinking it might be cleaner to start the NT afresh.

As to your preliminary to Romans, I reckon I'm okay with it (heck, I don't even understand half of it!).

So, as soon as you let me know whether to post here or above, I'm a-ready.

wnDan, I am not sure that you understand the difference if literal and figurative interpretations of the Bible. After all you compared not following the Holiness Code to not plucking our eyes out, which is an example of hyperbole (Jesus often employed hyperbole), which, while a form of figurative language, ins't what you are talking about with a literal-figurative dichotomy. Literal interpretations of the Bible don't conform to the image you have of inerrantists. For the people of Moses day, this was literal. They literally killed people. We don't live in that culture and we will as Gentiles, not in covenant community. Thus, as I said before it's not that we now say all of this is not literal anymore (as if it changed), but now we contextualize it into our culture and into Christianity. Again, I take issue with you, but if we aren't going to agree, then let's move on.

Now, I have to say that your statement that I employ strawmen is absolutely ludicrious. That is like the pot calling the kettle black. Do you really know what strawmen arguments are, Dan? Trust me, I deal with them all the time when it comes to theology, and what I am doing is no where close. I am dealing with the hardest of your arguments and patiently giving careful, thought out answers. You have even said so yourself on at least three occasion. I am not burning strawmen -- I am building a strong theological case. Just because you don't like my reasoning doesn't mean you can accuse me of a strawman. Tell me Dan, exactly how was what I wrote a strawman? Use this definition. If you want me to I can point out several times that you have done it.

Now, we can move the NT debate to underneath the new thread. That is fine. I will repost my introduction there. Sorry you don't understand it, but please don't use that as an excuse when it comes to discussing the passage itself.

"Tell me Dan, exactly how was what I wrote a strawman?"

You wrote suggesting that I was talking about taking the Bible figuratively, not literally, (which I never once said) and then you proceeded to knock down the strawman of figurative interpretation. Pretty easy to see once someone points it out, huh?

"Dan, I am not sure that you understand the difference if literal and figurative interpretations of the Bible. After all you compared not following the Holiness Code to not plucking our eyes out, which is an example of hyperbole"

I am well aware of the definition of hyperbole and figurative, as well as strawman and at least five other words. Are you at all familiar with the definition of "literal"?

Let me help, there is only one LITERAL interpretation of "If they commit sin x, then they must be killed." Can you guess what it is?

But let's give you the benefit of the doubt. You've shown and I've agreed that the NT offers a new interpretation of God's commandment against the abomination of eating shrimp (which, by the way, I continue to point out because you seem to not appreciate the irony of your position. And yes, I know the meaning of irony, how 'bout that?).

So we know that we can eat shrimp because that rule was changed in the NT. Tell me where, then, the new rule overruling the old rule about executing certain sinners is found?

Or, if execution wasn't really part of the original old rule (even though that's literally what it says), but just for that culture and time, then show me in the Bible where you get your justification for that position.

Keep in mind, I don't disagree that we are no longer under that command to kill certain sinners. It's just that I will admit that I get to that position (we are to ignore the punishment part of rule) based upon nothing within the Bible except an understanding of God's nature as revealed in Jesus. I get there thusly because there is simply no place in the Bible where God says, "I used to tell you to kill certain sinners, but now you don't have to."

A further problem with your position is, if we're merely changing the punishment part of the rule because of the culture, are we always to do so? If the culture disagrees with killing certain sinners, we go along with that. What if the culture disagrees with having church meetings, shall we quit going to church, or do we say we must obey God rather than human rules? What if the culture says we must discrimate against others or kill children? Do we go along with it because that is the cultures rules?

Where do you find justification for that within the Bible and why for some rules and not for others?

Dan, I have thought through this issue a lot today and I have come to conclusions regarding why we are arguing back and forth about the word "literal". Here's what I have come up with:

1. When I use the word "literal" I am referring to the actual meaning of the text to it's original hearers.
2. When you say the word "literal" you are referring to how the text is to be applied to our lives today.
3. These are two different things entirely.
4. When I approach any text of Scripture, the first question I ask is, "What does this passage mean to it's original audience and what was the author's intent when God inspired this text?"
5. I believe that when you approach the text the first question you ask is "What does this text mean to me and how is God calling me to apply this text to my life now."
6. These are radically different approaches to Scripture and we need to understand that before we continue on.

So let me lay out for you how I go about interpreting Scripture so that you understand what I mean when I say "literal" and "figurative" and how it is that I arrive at conclusions regarding how the text is to be applied.

1. The first thing I look at is the genre of the passage. Is it Law? Is it apocalyptic? Is it dialectic? Is it prose? Is it poetry?, etc. This will help me to determine how to approach the text in regards to how the original hearers might have looked at it.
2. The next thing I do is look for the thought pattern of the author. What was he thinking as he wrote? Where was he going with his argument? Central to this are words like "for", "because", "in order that", "to", "just", "but", "and", etc. These signal where the author is going and help us to see his central message. Greek and Hebrew uniquely focus around the main verbs of their sentences, thus I try to pull forth the main thought in the paragraph or section. This is rather easy to do once you understand Greek and Hebrew syntax. In fact, it is rather sovereign of God to use these two as the Bible's original languages.
3. Once I have found key verbs and pulled forth the main idea of each sentence and the coordinating ideas, I try to understand the culture that was being spoken to. Again, we have ample amounts of information about these cultures, not only from the Bible itself, but from archaeology, history, and linguistic studies, to fairly accurately understand what the author is trying to communicate.
3. Now, the next step is to bridge the hermeneutical gap. Once we know the meaning of the passage to the original hearers in their context, we bridge the gap to our context by pulling forth the universal kernal of truth present in the passage. For instance, in the Law, I believe that we find many universal truths that obviously translate into our culture. Understanding the dynamics of the covenant community and the need for the written Law as an objective source of right and wrong so that ritual purification could take place is essential for understanding the Law. So we bridge the gap to our culture, or we filter it though our culture into the present where we apply it to our lives.
5. The application is where you seem to begin with interpretation. You seem to immediately jump to "How does this apply to my life? though you might use the phrase "What does this mean to us?" (BTW, we "traditionalists hate that question, though it is a Sunday School styled view of the text, because it projects the image that the meaning has somehow changed, which it hasn't, but rather it is the application that has changed because our culture is differet from that of the 12th c. BC or the 1st c. AD). Answering that question is where we "traditionalists" end. Thus when one says we take something literal it means that we believe that both in our culture as well as the culture into which it was given, the word for word meaning is what we should take as the author's (and God's) intended meaning. And when we translate that into our culture by answering the question, "How should we apply this to our lives?" the formost thought we have is in preserving the intended meaning of the text while at the same time filtering into the present through either the new covenant understanding of salvation or through the simple observation that we no longer all adhere to one religious view, as did the Israelites (and so we now make up the New Israel - which is often called covenantal theology).

So I hope you will see how this can confuse things in how we speak to each other. That is why I reject when you say, "we don't take this or that literally." What you mean from my perspective really is, "we don't APPLY this literally to our context in the same way that the original hearers did." But, honestly, that is true of almost the entire Bible. There are very few passages in which we don't have to view the phrase or sentence or verse within the parameters of their culture. For that reason, I offered a preliminary introduction to the book of Romans and you immediately jumped into how it applies to us. What I contend is that we must understand how the original hearers understood this text and then go from there as to how we are to apply it to our lives.

I hope this clears up some of the confusion. And hence, we stop talking past one another.

Yes, I think you're getting closer to the truth now with these comments. Neither you nor I think that this particular passage that calls for the death penalty to be applied to these particular sinners, at least today.

So, when you say,

1. When I use the word "literal" I am referring to the actual meaning of the text to its original hearers.

and add the caveat that this does not necessarily translate to what we ought to do today, we are in agreement.

You go on to say:

4. When I approach any text of Scripture, the first question I ask is, "What does this passage mean to it's original audience and what was the author's intent when God inspired this text?"
5. I believe that when you approach the text the first question you ask is "What does this text mean to me and how is God calling me to apply this text to my life now."


And this is only partially correct. When I look at the scripture, I do both 4 and 5 that you suggest above. As I believe you probably do. At least hopefully.

As Christians, we want to know what Word God would give us from a given passage. To do that, we will usually want to take in to consideration what the original text/meaning was, inasmuch as it's possible to know. I believe this is what you're saying and I am in agreement with it, as far as it goes.

This is a crucial point, as "literalty" has been used to cause much mischief. We don't take the passage in question literally, although we may take it literally within its context.

I think we're in agreement on this point. And we have spent much time on this because it is an important distinction between taking a passage literally and thinking that it may have applied literally to its original audience.

So, I'd suggest the problem remains in how can we know:

1. If we ought to take the traditional assumption that "men laying with men" is a condemnation of homosexuality in general?

2. If we are not to obey the punishment part of that passage (whoever it's directed towards) and yet still think that the condemnation part is directed towards someone...that is, how do we know that both the "sin" and the "punishment" were not directed towards a particular people at a particular time and therefore are not applicable to us today?

Which is where I think we need more information than is provided in these two less-than-clear passages.

By the way, do you understand now where you were using a strawman argument? Would you care to point out where I was doing so?

(You had said: If you want me to I can point out several times that you have done it... please do.)

I'll acknowledge that it is entirely possible... I've tried to be reasonable and logical in my discussion but I've also had limited time to write and I know I've made a grammatical error or two by accident. If I've made a logical error, I'd like to correct that or at least acknowledge it.

If, however, I haven't, then it would be honest and righteous of you to admit that you were mistaken when you wrote I had committed "several."

Dan,

First, let me say that I think this is a silly rabbit that you want to chase. My last post was written in an attempt to clarify how we were missing each other's points and why we were talking past each other, not to show you how you were right all along. I think we BOTH made mistakes in thinking that each other understood the terminiology used. You used certain words in a way that I didn't and vice versa. You didn't understand my point and I didn't understand why you didn't get it and again vice versa. Still, I think I made a very good case overall for how these verses do indicate a thorough Jewish belief that homosexuality of all stripes is sinful and that there is no abiding reason why we should not believe that this doesn't apply to Christianity.

But, I will answer you questions, especially since you are worried about my honesty and righteousness in my statement about your argumentation.

First, I somewhat understand why you think I made a strawman argument, though you didn't exactly prove how (and I think you stretched the definition of what a strawman is to make that assertion). I don't think I did anymore than you did in regards to our disagreement on "literal" v. "non-literal". As I pointed out much of our misunderstanding came from a differing view of what constituted a "literal" interpretation. So I don't think either of us made a strawman argument in that regard because of that misunderstanding.

Now, as to my statement...I readily admitted it was exaggerated. It wouldn't be the first time that either of us have been hyperbolic in this debate. But I do think that you did commit this fallacy on occasions. In fact, I thought about it as the debate went on but tried to point out the problems and not just throw out the terminology. I do refuse to go back and point out ever time this happened. That would be a huge waste of time because you are not going to agree with me that you made such a faulty argument, so we will just go around and around on another silly subject rather than focusing on what is truly important here -- the question of whether Scripture reveals that homosexuality is a sinful act.

I do want to offer one example though that was hard to ignore and to me was an example of how I felt you debated most of the time:

After you made the case that we could not accept "do not lie with a man" and yet reject "they shall surely be put do death", I pointed out that Jesus words in Matthew 15 were sufficient evidence that one could hold to (as Jesus did) the sinfulness of breaking the Law, yet not be wrong in not exacting the punishment for such an action (even as you believed Christ would not). I mentioned this three before you dealt with it. The original post was on May 4 at 2:23p. Then I asked you to respond again to this on May 6 at 11:05p. On May 6 at 11:30p you posted about an argument I made about Matthew 5 (this is an additional strawman besides the one I am addressing in this post). You quoted Jesus on the Law in Matthew 5, but then didn't deal with the verse (red herring portion of the straw man), but instead focused on Jesus words regarding a different part of the Law, but didn't harmonize the two (leaving one to believe that you either think His statements are contradictory or one negates the other). And then you moved on to a false assertion that Jesus broke the Law of the Sabbath and concluded that the Law is not binding. This is a classic example of burning strawmen. But let me move on to finish the example I started speaking of. In that same May 6th post, you asked me when I dealt with your argument on killing gays (my Matt 15 argument) and so on May 8th at 1:28p, I once again pointed you to the posts on it by stating thus:

"Now, I think Jesus' words in Matthew 15:3-6 are very imporant to this discussion. Jesus tells the Pharisees that they have invalidated God's Word through their traditions (in regards to honoring their father and mother). Two things are important here:
1. Jesus seems to indicate that this is God's Word and doesn't have a problem with the punishment of the crime. In fact, He seems to accept the punishment as legitimate, though we would agree that Jesus may not have supported captial punishment for such a crime. He places the point squarely on the crime, not the punishment. Does he negate the Law here because of the punishment? NO, then why should we negate the Law simply because of the punishment?
2. Jesus scolds the Pharisees for doing such a thing. He makes it clear that the Law in regards to this is still in effect. This is important because of the parallel verse in our current debate. One what grounds can we invalidate any Law which Jesus has upheld?

Jesus clearly separates the crime from the punishment without negating or invalidating it. Why can't you? How do you explain Jesus words here (along with His words in Matthew 5:17-18 and 23:23, as well as Luke 16:16-17) this in light of your view that we negate the Law?"


I asked you again to respond to it on May 9th at 8:23p. Finally, you answered me on May 10th at 4:10a, but this is where the strawman argument comes in. You quoted my question of, "Jesus doesn't seem to negate the one phrase despite the inclusion of the second ("they shall be put to death"), so why should we?". But, then you answered this question, "Why should we negate the capital punishment phrase for cursing your parents?" That wasn't my question at all! It was easy to answer that question from your perspective, but again my question was much harder to answer than that. It dealt with the actual verse and I asked how could Jesus apply the Law didactically and yet not require exactment of the punishment on the Pharisees (though he quoted the punishment) and told them they sinned. In this same way, I believe we can do the same as Jesus, but you didn't deal with that aspect of my argument. Instead, after answering your concocted question, you moved on to answering another question I didn't ask and really wasn't relevant,

"6. That being the case, one should pause to ask, "Why then did Jesus not address this point?" and this may be a place where we differ in biblical interpretation.

Finally, after answering that you gave some symbolance of an interpretation that still didn't answer the questions I asked. Again, this is a classic example of strawman argumentation.

So again, I know you will not agree with me, but I refuse to belabor the point with you, so I ask you politely to recognize that this is why I made the statement that you had made strawmen fallacies "several" times and as I said before I acknowledge that the use of "several" was exaggerated. I still maintain that you did use this at least twice, though I would point out at least one more example if I cared to take the time (which I don't, so please don't ask).

So please, don't argue with me on this (it's really not an important point in the debate and in the end its not going to help any of our arguments any) and let's move on and quit beating a dead horse. I am going to now cut and paste our closing arguments in the next comment so that this thread can end fittingly and in the style of debate.

For those of you who do not wish to read all 100+ comments, here are Dan T's and D.R.'s closing thoughts on the verses regarding homosexuality in Leviticus 18 and 20.



Dan T's closing statement:

1. There are only two verses in all of the OT that seem to deal with homosexuality. These verses seem clearly to condemn "men laying with men."
2. Many verses are offered from the OT that traditionalists have said are about homosexuality (Sodom and Gomorrah, for instance), but they're simply not.
3. These two verses are in the Law portion of the OT.
4. We do not take every verse in the law literally (we wear polyester, do not kill disrespectful children and we do not observe the Jubilee Laws at all, for instance, both violations of the Law)
5. We do not observe every law within the Law because we recognize that God is continually giving us new revelations, deeper and better understanding (as in the NT's revelation that we can eat any food, that shrimp are okay to eat!). We also recognize that some portions of the Law seem to be directed to a particular people at a particular time, for whatever reason, and are not, therefore, universal in nature.
6. The two verses in Leviticus that appear to deal with homosexuality are less than clear. Is men laying with men talking about only male homosexuality? Is it talking about some practice that was common in the pagan religions of the area before the Israelites settled there (such as men bedding down boys or temple prostitution)? Perhaps. It's just not clear and there is nothing within the OT that clears that up. We can only gather a better understanding through trying to educate ourselves about the practices of the peoples of that time and, ultimately, through God's revelation to us.
7. Therefore, the presence of two verses in the Law is not sufficient - in and of themselves - for us to base a position upon. We would need further evidence one way or the other to know that homosexuality is wrong in God's eyes or, if a loving gay marriage is a blessed thing.



Daniel's closing thoughts:

1. My intent in discussing the verses regarding HMS recorded in Leviticus was to show that these verses do indeed indicate to us that God specifically told the Israelites not to engage in HMS sex. Additionally, I hoped to show that this Law has never been rescinded and that the punitive action associated with HMS sex along with the context of those verses in Leviticus (regarding sexual conduct that we still find inconsistent with Christianity) indicate that we ought to still take these verses seriously and that they still apply to our current situation.
2. In proceeding I believe that I have shown that the Law while no longer necessary for our salvation is written on our hearts and our actions should correspond to the Law. Regarding Dan's arguments, I believe that I have shown that the punitive aspects of the Law are not figurative, but rather must be contextualized to Christianity, where believers do not live in a theocratic state in which community purity is of the utmost concern, but rather we live in communities of faith under a non-relgious state government alongside of those with whom we disagree and urgently and fervently desire for their salvation. Jesus' words in Matthew 15 in which He derided the Pharisees for not keeping the Law, but ignoring it for their own convenience and desires though not condemning the perpetrators to death (though it was the prescribed penalty) perfectly reflects the culture in which He lived and in which we live as well -- one in which a secular government controls the law and doles out punishments based on the most basic universal laws on which every society, even those of extreme sin, find common ground. This cultural reflection of the Law does not detract in any way from the sinfulness of violating the Law, nor does it excuse the actions of those who seek to circumvent the Law through rationalization of sin.
3. I believe I have shown that many of Dan's arguments lack merit including the suggestion that the verses of Leviticus regarding HMS don't correspond to the culture of today in which there are mutual, exclusive HMS relationships. I have done this by showing the equal doling out of punishment to both offenders (showing his argument that the central message of these texts is not sexual ethics but exploitation to be lacking in credibility) and pointing out that the phrase "don't lie with a man as one lies with a woman" do not indicate any possible interpretation that would insert pedaphilia into the authorial intent. Additionally, Dan's argument of temple prostitution ignores the obvious relationship between an act and its perversion (the act itself coming prior to the perversion) as well as the fact that we have little evidence of organized cultic and ritualistic HMS in Canaan in the period during which the Law was given. Additionally, Dan's interpretation does not provide any provision for God's supernatural inspiration of this text and the fact that were His intent to bless HMS relationships that were mutual and committed, He left no evidence of such in the Law.
As to Dan's argument that we do not take every piece of the Law literally, he still has not indicated in any way how one could extrapolate (his word) from this text an interpretation that discounts either the entire passage on sexual ethics (especially since he agrees with it himself, other than the two verses dealing with HMS) and especially not the verses on HMS which are smashed between verses on incest, adultery, beastiality, and child sacrifice, which are indeed evil and non-discountable.
5. In the end Dan has at the most proven that the Levitical law is not enough proof that HMS in any form is wrong, though I do not believe that he has done so. Even so, he has not proven that these verses can be discounted, nor that they should.
6. I believe that my argument stands and not one stroke of the Law, according to Jesus, will pass away until He comes again and removes sin from the earth. Further, I believe that Romans 1 will show that Paul believed that HMS reflected a violation of the Law and the created order of God and thus is to be rejected as compatible with the Christian life.


If you would like to follow our debate on Romans 1, you can move to the comments section under the post, "Homosexuality Debate Taking Time".

You're right. We disagree. You must be a Baptist preacher - you seem incapable of giving short answers (It's a joke, son).

Go on and move on at your leisure.

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Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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