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Book Review: God and the Gay Christian

My core argument is not simply that some Bible passages have been misinterpreted and others have been given undue weight. My larger argument is this: Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships. Instead of accepting the divide between moderate and progressive Christians who support marriage equality and conservative Christians who oppose it, this book envisions a future in which all Christians come to embrace and affirm their LGBT brothers and sisters — without undermining their commitment to the authority of the Bible.

-Matthew Vines
“Reclaiming Our Light — An Introduction,” pg 3
God and the Gay Christian

Matthew Vines is an openly gay Christian speaker and LGBT activist, known for the viral video “The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality” on YouTube. Vines grew up in Wichita, Kansas, having interests in performing arts, speaking and writing.

-from Wikipedia

Note: The featured image at the top of this blog post will make more sense when to get to the end to this article.

Vines is an Evangelical Christian who is seeking to not only establish that the Bible does not actively condemn loving, monogamous, homosexual relationships, but actually supports them, and he’s going to try and do that using a high view of the Bible.

I’ve seen other resources, primarily online, from various progressive churches that are inclusive of the LGBTQ community by taking a low view of the Bible, that is, by not accepting that the Bible is inerrant and ultimately the authoritative Word of God. It’s more of a set of “guidelines” and therefore, the sections of the Bible condemning homosexual behavior are not to be taken literally or, they were social norms that were once valid in ancient societies but have no application in the modern world of faith.

Vines, by contrast, embraces the full authority of the Bible but believes it has been misinterpreted and misapplied, resulting in the Evangelical Church’s long condemnation of homosexual behavior and of gay people, including the gay Christians in their (our) midst.

The approach Vines uses has an unanticipated parallel with what I’ve been trying to do. In my world (if you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know what my perspectives are), I believe that the Evangelical Church has misinterpreted Scripture and mistakenly concluded that Jesus “nailed the Law to the cross,” rendering it obsolete for both Gentile and Jewish disciples of the Master, replacing Israel with the Church. My purpose has been to attempt to convince Evangelicals of this misinterpretation and to see that both ancient and modern Jesus-believing Jews were and are still in covenant relationship with God through the Sinai covenant as well as the emergent New Covenant (I should note that based on my reading of his book, Vines seems to be a classic supersessionist, but for the purposes of my review, I won’t hold that against him *wink*).

But the parallel in our attempts to convince Evangelicals to reconsider how they view the Bible breaks down almost immediately. I’ll explain why in a minute, but first, let’s take a look at the reasons Vines believes Evangelicals should re-evaluate how they read the Bible relative to LGBT Christians:

  1. First, we saw that a categorical rejection of same-sex relationships has been deeply damaging to gay Christians.
  2. …we saw that the concept of same-sex orientation did not exist in the ancient world. Prior to recent generations, same-sex behavior was widely understood to be the product of sexual excess, not the expression of sexual orientation.
  3. …the church has an established tradition affirming that lifelong celibacy should be voluntarily chosen, not mandated. Maintaining a condemnation of same-sex relationships would require us to revise that teaching.

TorahSince point two is most applicable to an actual examination of Scripture, I want to focus on why Vine believes (and I agree with his perspective here) those portions of the Bible condemning homosexuality do not address sexual orientation as we understand the concept today.

Vine says there are six major Bible verses used by Evangelicals to support the condemnation of Homosexual behavior: Genesis 19:5, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:10. One by one, Vines addresses each of these points but he might as well have saved himself the trouble because of a few details that make those arguments moot.

As we saw in Chapter 2, same-sex relations in the first century were not thought to be the expression of an exclusive sexual orientation. They were widely understood to be the product of excessive sexual desire in general. This understanding, I want to stress, cannot be reduced to a mere misconception. It was a reflection of widespread cultural practices that differ greatly from modern ones.

-Vines, pg 106

Vines expands on this matter greatly in Chapter 2: “Telescopes, Tradition, and Sexual Orientation.” Dating back to the days of Moses and extending up through the first century CE, the available Biblical and historical information indicates that any same-sex behavior we witness in these records was related to issues of ritual idolatry or status. Homosexual and heterosexual temple prostitutes were part of many pagan rites in the ancient near east and we can certainly see Leviticus 18:22 applied to that context, particularly since many of the prohibitions listed in the Torah have to do with warning the Israelites away from worshiping “foreign gods.”

Homosexual acts as sexual excess and establishing status relate specifically to anal penetration with the individual doing the penetrating having the higher status. Vine establishes, and again, I agree, that in each of these cases, the men and women involved in homosexual acts were also participating in heterosexual acts. This wasn’t a matter of sexual orientation whereby the homosexual person has no choice about being attracted to same-sex people. These were people who indulged in pleasurable sexual (and other) activities for the sake of pleasure and perhaps status (Master vs. slave, Older male vs. younger male), but who had heterosexual relationships/marriages for the purposes of procreation (see Prager’s article Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality).

So how did we get to where we are today? The modern understanding of homosexuality as a sexual orientation began to develop among an elite group of German psychiatrists in the late 19th century. Prior to 1869, the terms “homosexual” and “homosexuality didn’t exist…Even then, while some doctors began to think of same-sex attraction as an exclusive sexual orientation, that understanding didn’t begin to gain wide acceptance until the middle of the 20th century.

-ibid, pg 42

Matthew Vines
Matthew Vines

The heart of Vines’ argument is that none of the Bible passages in question could possibly have to do with sexual orientation or a “loving, committed, monogamous” same-sex relationship because, as such, the concept of sexual orientation didn’t then exist and was not the focus of the Biblical sexual prohibitions.

As far as that goes, Vines makes a good case, but the best he can say is that the Bible is silent on sexual orientation. Of course, we have no idea if human beings experienced homosexuality as an exclusive sexual orientation in ancient times. We only know that such experiences don’t exist in our historical record, nor do they seem to be presupposed by the Bible. Each and every marital relationship described within the context of the covenant people of God was heterosexual, that is, between a man and a woman (or between one man and several woman in the case of men like Abraham, Jacob, and David). There are no normative examples of romantic and marital relationships between two men or two women within the covenant community.

I stress that point because Vines not only wants to discredit the condemnation of homosexuality oriented people based on the Bible, he wants to establish that the Bible can be used to support marriage equality. While he does well in his first argument, he flounders in the second.

Addressing whether or not same-sex couples can become “one flesh,” Vines states:

In Ephesians 5:31-32, the phrase “one flesh” is said to be a mystery that relates to Christ and the church. The relationship between Christ and the church does not involve sexual union or anatomical difference…Not only does Ephesians 5 never mention gender-determined anatomical differences, it focuses instead on the fact that husbands and wives are part of the same body.

So according to Ephesians, gender difference is not necessary to become one flesh in the Bible’s understanding of those words. What is necessary is that two lives are joined as one in the context of a binding covenant.

-ibid, pg 149

In my opinion, Vines is playing fast and loose with his Biblical hermeneutics and sinking into eisegesis, or projecting what he wants to see in the lines between the Bible verses. Stepping back and taking a longer view, as I said above, the Bible never presupposes same-sex couples in a normalized marriage within the covenant community of Judaism or later, the early Christian ekklesia. The overarching template of sanctified marital relationships in the Bible is one man and one woman.

On the one hand, Vines says that the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexuality do not apply to sexual orientation and thus the validity of modern same-sex bonding, but on the other hand, he attempts to force the scriptures to sanction modern same-sex bonding based on how those scriptures define marriage, including Ephesians 5. I don’t think he can have his cake and eat it too.

What about Vines’ other two points?

holding handsIn Chapter 3: “The Gift of Celibacy,” Vines challenges Evangelical Christianity’s “answer” to gays in the Church: life-long celibacy. Vines believes it is cruel to force a gay person who is devoted to Jesus Christ and who loves God to remain sexually unfulfilled for their entire lives, deprived of the same love and companionship that straight couples in the Church enjoy. He says that orientation is not a choice and Vines as well as all other gay people cannot simply change who he is/they are attracted to. Celibacy is unsustainable in a human existence, and Vines provided compassionate stories of gay Christians whose lives were tremendously and negatively impacted by attempting to follow this Church “policy.”

Vines correctly points out, using a number of heartrending examples, how Christian families have been torn apart by a gay child coming out, which has led to gay Christians leaving their churches and their faith, parting from their families, abusing drugs and alcohol, and even committing suicide. All this because the Church demands they either change something about themselves they find impossible to change or to deny that part of themselves by remaining celibate and alone forever.

But I think Vines’ argument comes down to the following:

Instead of asking whether it’s acceptable for the church to deny gay Christians the possibility of sexual fulfillment in marriage, we should ask a different question. Is it acceptable to deny gay Christians the opportunity to sanctify their sexual desires through a God-reflecting covenant?

-ibid, pg 161

Vines began his book by saying he intended to provide evidence to support the supposition that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality as an orientation and does not condemn loving, monogamous same-sex relationships, and I think, based on how we understand the history of homosexuality in the ancient world, he makes a good case. But his evidence for Biblical support of same-sex relationships based on sexual orientation up to and including marriage equality is much weaker and seems to come down to whether or not the Church thinks it’s being fair to gay Christians.

He cannot, in my opinion, make the Bible support same-sex marriages within the Church, but he can make a credible appeal for compassion and even mercy. I don’t deny his love for God, nor can I deny his experience, or the experience of myriads of other gay people who say that they have no choice in the matter, they are attracted sexually and romantically only to members of the same sex. Further, I can be compassionate about the struggles of forced celibacy (the New Testament generally treats celibacy as voluntary and even as a “spiritual gift”).

So, what’s the answer? I don’t have one. Relative to writing a book review, I don’t need to produce one. All I have to do is render an opinion whether or not the author successfully made his case. I must admit, I have been challenged in terms of the Biblical statements regarding homosexual behavior as addressing excesses in indulgence rather than orientation as such, but still see no active Biblical support for acceptance of marriage equality within the Christian Church.

Does that mean I’m being mean or cruel? Vines separates Christians into either those who affirm homosexuality or the non-affirming group. I guess I’m still in the latter category, which is too bad.

BiblicallyI have a confession to make. I was hoping Vines would deliver a devastating argument that I would find impossible to refute Biblically, a real “game-changer” that would permit me in all clear conscience based on sound scriptural exegesis to accept that homosexual orientation and monogamous same-sex bonding was sanctioned or at least permitted by God. It would resolve a great deal of dissonance between my current Biblical perspective and my desire to be compassionate and accepting.

So where does that leave me? Can I accept that a person can be gay and authentically a Christian, in “right relationship” with God through their faith in Jesus Christ? How can I hold a person accountable for something they experience as out of their control, as inseparable from their identity and personality? I don’t know. I don’t know if our understanding of homosexuality as a sexual orientation existed before the late 19th century. There’s no evidence it did, but who writes the history books?

On the other hand, who wrote the Bible? If God intended same-sex couples to be normalized within the covenant community, why isn’t there any indication in the Bible?

As far as my understanding of how Gentiles are included in the New Covenant and the continuance of the Torah mitzvot as an obligation for ancient and modern Jewish Jesus-believers, I find a great deal of Biblical and scholarly evidence as presented by many New Testament theologians. Vines has virtually no Biblical evidence of support for marriage equality, and his only scholarly source, and it’s a good one, is Dr. James Brownson. Dr. Brownson’s son came out as gay at the age of eighteen, resulting in Brownson authoring the book Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships.

I mentioned before that the best I can say about Vines’ book is that the Bible is silent about how it views same-sex attraction as an orientation, since the concept didn’t exist Biblically and historically. I don’t know what that means for gay Christians, but I think it’s premature to say that it is a “requirement of Christian faithfulness” for believers to “show that supporting LGBT people is not at odds with being a faithful Christian.” (pg 183)

To learn more about Matthew Vines, please go to his website. You should also visit The Reformation Project which…

…exists to train Christians to support and affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Through building a deep grassroots movement, we strive to create an environment in which Christian leaders will have the freedom to take the next steps toward affirming and including LGBT people in all aspects of church life.

-from their About page.

One last thing. I purchased this book through AbeBooks.com but the actual seller was Housing Works. According to the bookmark included with my purchase:

Housing Works is a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Our mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain our efforts.

AdvocateWhile this doesn’t have a direct relationship with Vines’s book, it does serve as a reminder that there have always been disadvantaged, disenfranchised, and vulnerable populations among us that for one reason or another, we demonize, marginalize, or ignore. The Bible is God’s revelation to human beings in written form, a record of God’s interaction with His greatest creation: people. What it shouldn’t be is a straitjacket that binds us so tightly that we fail to act with compassion, kindness, and mercy. We all are, after all, created in the image of God.

God’s image does not have a sexuality or sexual orientation, but it does provide us with the ability to choose who we are in relationship to God and to each other. We can also choose to behave lovingly and with respect to all others who have the same image, including people who experience grave disadvantage, sometimes just because of how we choose to interpret the Bible.

So far, I know the Bible doesn’t automatically condemn LGBT people. Beyond that, I’m still learning. The one thing I do know though, is that it’s no sin to care about someone, even if they aren’t the same as you. If that’s a mistake, I’ll choose to err on the side of compassion.

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29 thoughts on “Book Review: God and the Gay Christian”

  1. It would make sense that he is supercessionist, as the most problematic passages are in torah. Now, of course one can say that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, and if one believes he nailed torah to the cross rather than affirming it, this helps your argument. I think it is more honest to claim you don’t accept the teachings of scripture than to seek to twist it to your own benefit.

    The concept of “orientation,” did not arise until likely the 60’s or 70’s. Vines is dishonest (but who of his fans care?) in his characterization of ancient same sex relationships.

    But, this works well with evangelical Christianity, which is about what one believes, not about how one behaves. It is not so difficult to gradually change what people think through various psycho-social means.

    It is also interesting that his focus is on the person, how they have a right to fulfillment, pleasure and enjoyment in life and shouldn’t be denied this. To sh’ma is to listen with the intent to obey, even if we mishear or badly bungle the following. They want a religion/god that fits into their lifestyle/pocket and aren’t much different than the rest of megachurch bunch.

    However, hearing rantings, whether about how one cannot be a “gay Christian,” or how a Christian should keep Shabbat, the following comes to mind: Do you remember when you kids were little, and they would say, “Johnny’s mommy lets him…” And we would answer, “I am not Johnny’s mommy and I can’t tell him what to do.” I can insist my kids obey my rules (well, not anymore 🙂 but I have no authority over the neighbors’ kids, no matter how much I dislike their attitudes and behavior. And we have no authority over those who are not in our family. Let them be. A person who has had an encounter with the living Elohim will ask two questions: 1. Am I hearing right? 2. How do I go about following? They will not seek to manipulate and twist the meaning of words the way a clever attorney does with a contract for his/her client.

  2. It is true that a significant part of the book’s message was to “put a face” on gay Christians and their struggles in the Church and with “non-affirming” Christians. I read somewhere recently that people who have difficulty accepting marriage equality or more generally, specific rights for the LGBTQ community tend to become more flexible if they know someone who is gay or, in the case of New Testament scholar Jim Brownson, who Vines references in his book, they have a family member in Brownson’s case, his son) who comes out. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney softened his stance on gays due to his daughter coming out as a lesbian.

    I can appreciate that Vines doesn’t want to treat this issue as just a dispassionate, scholarly investigation, since he’s writing this as an LGBTQ advocate and obviously, this affects him personally, but I reviewed his book strictly (or as strictly as I could) on whether or not he was able to support his case(s) Biblically and historically. I’m willing to concede that the idea of an inborn tendency toward same-sex attraction was first recognized by late 19th century German psychiatrists (probably as a psychological aberration, given the fact that homosexually was considered a psychopathology through the 1960s) and thus the concept of sexual orientation is a recent phenomenon, but that means the Bible may not speak at all in any manner where we could interpret it positively (or negatively?) relative to sanctioning same-sex coupling and marriage in the body of believers.

    If the Bible’s prohibitions against same-sex erotic contact applies primarily or exclusively to “sexual excess” and/or pagan worship practices and sexual orientation as such was never addressed (perhaps because two-thousand years ago, the very idea did not exist), then neither can be Bible be used to “proof” that God sanctions homosexual romantic and sexual relationships in Christianity, including marriage equality. Catch 22.

  3. I would like to point out something that he may have touched on that I learned many years ago from a professor of Archeology that I knew.

    The concept of Homosexuality couldn’t be what it is today simply because it’s backwards to what was necessary for life. Offspring was one of the most important things from the oldest archeological finds up into the industrial revolution. It was impossible to live without offspring to help and support the needs of a family. Even if someone was only attracted to the same sex it wouldn’t be possible for you to be with them exclusively, because you would be possibly dooming your heritage, also not producing offspring was commonly against most religious beliefs. History is littered with homosexuality and it is usually associated with people in power, or those who are well off who didn’t need offspring other than to carry the family line. Most of them, even the most notorious homosexuals, still had to try produce offspring, because even for them fertility was everything. I don’t find it surprising at all that it wasn’t until recent times when modernized society moved away from the need for larger family’s that we see the idea of Homosexuality being genetic or something that people are born as. It’s possible for people, to live a comfortable and successful life without having kids at all.

    His take sounds interesting but nothing ground breaking, that’s for sure. Thanks for taking the time to review it, I enjoyed the read.

  4. Chaya touched on an important concept that the Torah doesn’t address anyone’s subjective perceptions or feelings about obeying mitzvot — rather it addresses actions, behavior, performance. It insists that we should love HaShem and serve Him accordingly. This may imply a corresponding love for His mitzvot, but there is no consideration of “orientation” except toward or away from HaShem’s viewpoint. There is an example in creation that defines union between one man and one woman to be “very good”. There is no example of “union” of any kind between humans of the same gender; and such physical coupling is expressly forbidden and declared to be unnatural. There is no escape from the definition of sin here, which is behavioral and not at all considerate of feelings. “Fairness” (so-called) has no meaning here. This sin has nothing to do with excess, but rather with defect. Excess or gluttony applies to sex as well as to food, but it is a different kind of sin. No matter how some individuals may feel they are oriented, they all have exactly the same “fair” opportunity to form heterosexual unions in non-sinful accordance with HaShem’s order of creation. If they do not wish to do so, they fall short of HaShem’s command to be fruitful and multiply. That is merely a “sin of omission”. If they further pursue mistaken desires and actions to form homosexual “unions” that are not in actuality unions of one flesh as HaShem defined them, then they actively defy HaShem’s prohibition, which is a deliberate “sin of commission”. It can never be accurate to claim equality between heterosexual unions and homosexual ones. They cannot produce the same results. It is not at all compassionate to sanction LBGTQ feelings or behavior. It is leaving them to wallow in mud with no attempt to redeem them by reprogramming their faulty mental software. True compassion would seek with all diligence the most effective treatments to repair their defective perspectives and responses to sexual pattern input recognition, because our goal always must be to conform with HaShem’s creational intent for human interactions. Heterosexuals and homosexuals are not in some sort of competition where “fairness” demands that homosexuals be allowed to win from time to time, or that they should compete on a level playing field as if their desires were equally as valid as heterosexual desires. They are absolutely not equal, and homosexual desires are not acceptable in any degree. Pleas for understanding and compassion may be heartrending; and the condition that invokes them is undeniably real; but the homosexual understanding of their condition is not correct and compassion must seek to correct it.

  5. Jim said: History is littered with homosexuality and it is usually associated with people in power, or those who are well off who didn’t need offspring other than to carry the family line. Most of them, even the most notorious homosexuals, still had to try produce offspring, because even for them fertility was everything.

    According to Vines and his view of history, it records homosexual behavior that was committed by people who also engaged in heterosexual behavior, but not people who engaged exclusively in homosexual behavior (indicating choice rather than an “oriented” lack of choice). What you are saying is that a person could be “oriented” toward homosexuality but because of the societal requirement for reproduction, still engage in heterosexual relations.

    Actually, what you’ve described could still fit the “sexual excess” model, since more affluent and politically powerful individuals would be better positioned (money, authority) to engage in excesses than some poor farmer or merchant who didn’t have the time, energy, or funds.

    It’s interesting that you see the emergence of the “modern” conceptualization of sexual orientation as coupled with the industrial age, although I would have thought we’d also see such phenomena in say, the Renaissance, but I’m hardly a historian.

    I’ve been wondering what would be the “causal” factor in the timing of the emergence of homosexuality as a tendency/orientation (it really wouldn’t have been thought of as an orientation in the 19th century by Freud and his peers but rather a disorder or aberration). It still begs the question of what people individually experienced in ancient times. If the current progressive view of homosexuality as an inborn and immutable trait among a minority population over time is correct, then we should see pretty much the same trait in ancient times as we do in modern times. If there are other factors present, then perhaps sexual orientation as such really didn’t exist, and other influences have resulted in the Genesis of “modern” homosexual orientation, which would mean it’s not a fixed trait and perhaps responses to the social environment. It does seem (though this is simply antidotal) as if the population of people self-identifying within the LGBTQ community is increasing.

    @PL: The main issue, as I see it being presented by Vines (and the LGBTQ community as a whole) is their romantic/erotic attraction to same-sex partners is experienced as totally out of their control, something that is “hardwired” into their systems in the same manner as straight people are “hardwired” to be attracted to opposite sex partners. So you have gay Christians who, on the one hand, have a normative faith in Christ like their straight peers in the Church, but on the other hand, feel completely unable to comply with the Christian requirement to find romantic/erotic fulfillment with an opposite sex partner.

    It’s as if God has put gay Christians (again, this is from Vines’ point of view) in a Catch 22 with no way out. Celibacy isn’t seen as a viable option because of the apparent inequity and even cruelty involved in “condemning” a gay Christian to a life of loneliness for something about themselves they have no control of. Vines, not having a Biblical option to work from (in spite of the basis of his book), resorts to an emotional appeal.

    I wanted to review this book because I knew that people would have one of two responses to it based on their belief systems. Progressive, liberal Christians, gay and straight, would automatically accept Vines’ arguments because they fit the progressive paradigm. Some people wouldn’t even have to read the book to be convinced. Conservative, Evangelical Christians would reject the idea that it was possible to be gay and a (valid) Christian out of hand. I wanted to actually read what Vines had to say and evaluate his arguments to see if they held up relative to the Bible. He has some good points, but in the end, he failed to show Biblical support for marriage equality in the Christian community (since Vines writes off “the Law” as having been replaced by grace, I can’t include homosexuals in Judaism in my discussion).

  6. Yes, PL, I had one young ex-gay say to me, “I may never marry or have children, but I am grateful to be free.” I told him that as he was young, he shouldn’t put a limit on what God can do in his life as he continues to walk in his ways. Not too long ago he told me that he felt an attraction to a woman. God is in the healing and wholeness business, but that doesn’t mean that we are the ones to set the timetable.

    There was another young guy on one of the MessyWorld FB groups who was distraught at the idea that he might live another 60 or more years and have to spend them alone and celibate. But it isn’t helpful to imagine (negatively) something so far ahead, when all that is required of us is to walk with him today.

    My own theory is that in making us male and female, one aspect of that creation is that we are attracted to the opposite gender. If that isn’t working, well, we have lots of other things that don’t work that include issues with controlling our passions, behavior and thinking. I really liked what that other article James linked to said, that Judaism isn’t all or nothing; it is about moving closer to the divine idea and walking more in his ways (paraphrasing.) So, if one can’t live up to one’s ideal, that doesn’t mean we throw in the towel.

    I get a lot of young men gravitate to me on social media, and perhaps all they need is a Yiddishe momma 🙂

  7. I see the whole issue regarding same sex attraction is irrelevant. Scripture leaves no ambiguity about God’s view of male to male or female to female sexual acts.

    Attraction is not the issue. It’s how we respond to attraction that’s important, whether we are hetero or homo sexual. Do we respond in accordance with God’s revealed will (avoiding adultery no less than avoiding homosexual acts) or do we overule God’s will to follow our own desires (lusts)?

    Also the issue of celibacy is a straw man argument because heterosexuals also need to remain celibate outside of marriage – and not all heterosexuals are able to marry.

  8. Just to play the other side of the coin for a moment, if I were gay, I could say that you always have the option to marry your partner but I never could.

    It’s easy to dismiss another person’s point of view let alone their entire life experience when we treat it as if it’s a “mere” theological subject. Once you put a face on the person and hear their voice, even if we still disagree, can we still say we don’t care about him?

  9. Assuming that somene has a partner that they have an option of marrying. There are many heterosexual people who never have that option.

    This matter all comes down to the core issue of God’s ways or man’s. Do we place Him first or do our desires and feelings take priority? That’s not “theology” or “point of view”, that’s a matter of the Creator having authority over the created.

  10. If we pursue for a moment that notion of “caring” about those who are caught up in a “lifestyle sin”, or an “orientation sin”, or an “attraction sin”, whatever has become of the notion of loving the sinner and hating the sin? Aren’t homosexuals themselves responsible to love themselves at the same time that they also hate what HaShem has defined as abominable sin? What part of “abomination” is not being understood and accepted, here? Aren’t Christian homosexuals bound by the same scriptural definitions as heterosexuals? Are they to be believed when they blame Hashem for supposedly making them with the misdirected desires they experience? Clearly they are not correct to do so. Their only recourse is to declare the scriptures wrong despite unambiguous linguistic and cultural definitions of what is stated on this matter. But it is not acceptable to justify wrongdoing or wrong thinking, though this is not an uncommon practice. We may fail to react as strongly as we should in the face of heterosexual adultery, though it too is abomination that incurs HaShem’s condemnation, but we also must resist those who would make excuses for it by their misplaced “love” for the partner they desire.

    If “caring” is to be our motivation, then our approach must be to directly attack the error in thinking as an enemy of righteousness (note that “feeling” is also a kind of “thinking”). The individual must be delivered from the grip of that enemy, not coddled by acquiescence in his insistence that he can only be comfortable within its embrace and that he is helpless to resist it. At times, even the society that has claimed to align itself with “Judeo-Christian” values has attempted to turn a blind eye to this behavior, with a sort of “live and let live” tolerance. This, too, was an attempt at “caring”, though woefully passive and insufficient. Recently, LGBTQ folks have deliberately made this impossible by insisting that everyone agree with their viewpoint. Therefore, if activism is to be the order of the day, let it be so and let those who stand with HaShem be equally activistic to resist and even to defeat a societal enemy that is caused by defective mental motions.

    This warfare began with defective beliefs and defective emotional responses in human minds; that is also where the warfare must continue, to tear down strongholds and to bind up wounds after surgery is completed. If avowed homosexuals are ever to experience “victorious living”, they must first conquer their desires and the beliefs that drive them. However, much like those who live with depression in a pit of despair, they may be unable to pull themselves out but rather may require strong help to encourage them and provide the energy they lack. Depressives often need psycho-chemical assistance. Homosexuals may, in some extreme cases, need other biochemical or psychological therapies to retrain their sexual associations and responses. But there have existed stories of success with much less severe mental retraining. But in every case of successful repentance from one sin or another, the process begins by acknowledging the sin as such and deliberately choosing to turn away from it. In the case of addictions, one usually must avoid former associates who persist in the inimical behavior. Hence, seeking to remain with or “marry” a homosexual “partner” is clearly not a step toward resolving this “addiction” or mis-orientation.

  11. Shalom James
    My greatest issue with the so-called “Christian” LGBT viewpoint is how difficult they make it for people who have repented from that lifestyle to live a life of purity after having been cleansed of their sin. They are truly throwing stumbling blocks in front of those who want to follow Jesus! And I have a few friends who have struggled (and still struggles) with exactly this issue!
    I also take issue with their uncritical acceptance of the world’s definition of “sexual orientation”. We all have sinful “natural” tendencies that we struggle with after turning to God. We are NOT defined by our “natural” sexual desires (the desires of the flesh / the old man). We are new creatures being changed into the image of Messiah Yeshu’a. My issue might not be homosexual desires, but “simply” addiction to pornography or a “wandering eye” (or even paedophilic desires). Complaining that this is simply part of my sexual orientation makes it no less sinful! I still need to repent and be cleansed and be sanctified. This might be a daily struggle for me (just as it is for the person coming from a LGBT lifestyle), but nonetheless needed. And finding excuses for sin (how good we are with this!) makes this process needlessly difficult.
    I pray for those who wants to keep holding on to their sin (which they ARE unable to change in themselves!) when they turn to the Lord (and again, I have some friends like these as well). The first step in repentance is a change in opinion, agreeing with God that it is truly sinful, before there can be any hope that He will cleanse and free us. As long as we hold on to sin and try to excuse it in ourselves or others, there is also no hope of deliverance! The blood of Messiah only cleanses of sin and unrighteousness, never of weaknesses or “sexual orientation”. Until it is confessed as sin, and seen as such and we become willing for God to change us into the person He wants us to be, we have no hope of being free. And I am convinced that this is true for the homosexual just as much as for the drunkard, the paedophile, the thief or any other sinner.

  12. It think it’s possible to care about people having a human experience we see as contrary to Biblical doctrine without advocating for sin. I do want to challenge the general Evangelical notiion the homosexuality is some sort of “special sin” that is worse than all the rest. If we define homosexual acts and even homosexual desire as disobedience to God (remembering that most or all gay people say they don’t experience their feelings as a choice), then how to we understand that it’s a worse sin than murder, rape, theft, coveting, or anything else?

    If someone were an alcoholic and a Christian and struggling to stop drinking, would we not feel compassion?

    The only difference, again, with the view that homosexual acts and desires are sinful, is that Vines and advocates like him are seeking to redefine homosexuality from a sin to a type of “normalicy.”

    If the scriptures prohibiting homosexual acts (including the aforementioned “abomination”) address “sexual excess” and “acts involved in pagan practices” as opposed to people experiencing an inate desire, then can we apply those prohibitions on the current LGBTQ population? If we can’t, then we’re left with a Bible that is silent on this current population and, as I said in my review, we can only say that the Bible does not in any case presuppose “marriage equality” or support the normalization of same-sex bonding in the manner of man-woman bonding.

    My conclusion, apart from the strict Evangelical view of the Bible, is that Vines argument for Biblical support of same-sex coupling does not exist.

    This is a book review and thus I have limited my scope to the issues brought forth by Vines. The “solution” to why people experience sexual orientation outside of heterosexuality is unknown to me and probably everyone else.

  13. Thanks for commenting, http://www.thesoldierssanctuary.com.

    I am aware of the comments in Romans 1, which were also addressed in Vines’ book. I think they could be also attributed to “sexual excess” rather than people “oriented” or “predisposed” toward a preference for same-sex attraction/romance. I think Paul even addressed the practice of “sexual excess” here:

    But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his [p]wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.”

    Acts 24:24-25

    I think if we take all of the Biblical prohibitions against same-sex erotic behavior and put them together, they recognize that the other nations commonly had the practice of being over-eroticized to the point of attempting to gain sexual pleasure from just about any sexual object available (men, women, boys, girls, animals) and the prohibitions are indicating that members of the covenant community are to engage in self-control.

    Jesus confirmed that self-discipline of sexual/romantic attraction was to be focused between one man and one woman (though of course there were exceptions such as Jacob having two wives and two concubines):

    Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

    Matthew 19:3-6

    While the Biblical prohibitions against same-sex erotic behavior may not have presupposed people like Matthew Vines and the LGBTQ community as they see themselves and experience their lives, nonetheless, as I’ve said several times before, the Bible is also very specific about what it does approve of relative to marriage, which doesn’t seem to be altered by the passage of time or even newly (in terms of human history) conceptualized social “norms” for variability in sexual expression.

    In other words, the rest of the world can choose to do what it wants sexually, but in the covenant community, the enduring standard for marriage and sex continues to be one man and one woman. Maybe the Biblical sexual prohibitions weren’t directly addressing the way the LGBTQ folks experience themselves, but they still can’t make the Bible say that it’s OK to go outside the one man/one woman marital paradigm and still be remain a coupling sanctified by God.

  14. As the slogan goes, homosexuals can’t reproduce so they recruit. And the best time to recruit is when their minds are young and tender. Children love to support the weak and helpless, therefore they portray the ‘gay’ community as bullied, and make heroes of those that bravely come ‘out’. I cry for the children. Mr. Vine is portraying himself as an
    ‘angel of light’ while teaching the ‘doctrine of demons’. This is nothing new. In the garden, hasatan twisted HaShem’s words in order to deceive Eve. While minds are young they are easily molded. Today the entertainment and educational establishment is offending these little ones by teaching ‘sex’ outside of G-d’s ordained perimeter before they can maturely handle it. Beware, Matthew 18:6 KJV As far as compassion goes, tell them( gays) the truth. They were not born that way but were influenced that way at a tender age and you can overcome by the power of G-d’s grace. Google thevoiceofthevoiceless
    Why the modern push? Abortion and homosexuality go hand and hand politically because of the eugenic agenda. Spiritually, hasatan hates man because we are created in HaShem’s image and are the object of His love. Hasatan is sowing the seeds of our self destruction.

  15. James asks: “If we define homosexual acts and even homosexual desire as disobedience to God (remembering that most or all gay people say they don’t experience their feelings as a choice), then how to we understand that it’s a worse sin than murder, rape, theft, coveting, or anything else?”

    I’m not sure that anyone here has suggested that homosexual acts are worse “than murder, rape, theft, coveting or anything else”. But I’d just ask – how much time would we give to arguments that try to legitimise murder, rape, theft etc.?
    Also, do we legitimise the desires and compulsions that people feel that lead them to murder and steal and rape?
    Why is homosexuality seen as a special case that we should consider more “sympathetically” than other things that scripture identifies as sin?

  16. What is unique about homosexuality in the church is that it is the only sin where the sinner attempts to redefine it as either neutral in terms of God or actually a virtue. I know that Vines would not define homosexuality as a sin and says that the prohibitions against same-sex coupling do not apply to “loving, committed, same-sex partners,” but neither does the Bible condone such relationships. To the degree that we find no evidence of “sexual orientation” as a concept in Biblical times, I have to conclude the Bible not only does not presuppose the concept of “orientation,” but it cannot possibly condone it either. The only valid and sanctified romantic, sexual, marital relationship between people we do find exemplified in the Bible is man-woman relationships.

    I made the comment above about how Evangelicals see homosexuality because no other sin seems to elicit such a passionate response. If we are going to conclude that homosexual behavior is a sin, we’re going to have to respond to it as if it were identical to any other disobedience to God.

    Vines and those like him would disagree with my points, but relative to the Bible, I don’t see any way to accept his perspective. As far as sympathy goes, if a person truly feels caught between his love for God and his unchosen and unbidden attraction to same-sex individuals, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to feel compassion for that person’s struggle. If I’m going to err, I’ll do so on the side of mercy. Condemn me if you will.

  17. As a matter of justice and compassion it is cruel and wrong to condemn gay christians to a life of enforced celibacy.
    Church tradition always regards celibacy as a special calling.When you try to enforce it it fails and seriously damages people-roman catholic priests’ mandatory celibacy is a case in point.They repress their sexuality and it ends up being displaced onto either children or married ladies in the congregation.
    Most of us, gay or straight are not called to a lonely life bereft of special,warm,loving companionship,and because we are mind,body and spirit it has to include a physical dimension.
    Loneliness and singlehood causes depression,anguish and even suicide.
    God does not demand we stop loving others so we can love him-we are to do both.
    Exegesis shows the clobber passages are referring to pagan idolatry and Romans 1 talks of people abandoning their natural heterosexuality to do pagan worship.Gay people don’t “abandon” their natural heterosexuality,because they never feel attraction to the opposite sex.Its not a choice.
    Jesus himself states that some are “born eunuchs” and scholars conclude this is referring to people being born homosexual.
    From personal experience lonely singlehood is intensely damaging.Special companionship is a basic human need and a god of love would never deny us this basic need

  18. The argument would be well filled out with the historical evidence of Greek mythology. There we do find ancients acknowledging and recognizing long-term, monogamous, romantic relationships. Paul would have been very aware of that context while writing his epistles.

  19. @Keith: I’m not condemning anyone, and if you’ve read my review of Vines’ book, you know I think he may have a point about the reasons why most of the “anti-Gay” passages in the Bible (with the possible exception of Romans 1) were written relative to “sexual excess.”

    However, no where in the Bible is same-sex erotic/romantic relationships presupposed or sanctioned within the covenant community (Jews and grafted-in Gentiles). Every single time marriage is brought up, it is always between a man and a woman. To see otherwise in the Bible is more a matter of eisegesis, reading into the text what you want to see there, in order to support 21st century social imperatives and political correctness.

    I don’t have any answers to the mass of anecdotal data that suggests some individuals are innately attracted to same-sex partners, but there is only a smattering of actual research information available that even addresses same-sex attraction. That said, I reviewed Vines’ book out of fairness since I believed that most people would react to it out of decisions they’d already made about the Bible. I wanted to see if Vines could convince me.

    He did to a degree, but as I said before, taking a high view of the Bible, as Vines supposedly did, I see no evidence that God sanctioned same-sex erotic/romantic bonding within the covenant community. I was hoping to see otherwise, but I can’t solely allow emotion or modern social imperatives to make decisions for me when I’m actually trying to see what the Bible says on this matter. If you think I’m being cruel, that’s your decision to make, but I’ve yet to find (and I’ve searched far outside this one book review) of any rational or sound exegetical analysis that reveals the Bible supporting same-sex bonding/marriage.

    @J.T.: I don’t think Paul would be arguing for monogamous same-sex relationships based on Greek mythology if that’s what you’re saying.

  20. Paul wasn’t referring to long term monogamous gay relationships though-but to naturally heterosexual people “abandoning” their sexuality and committing homoerotic acts in the context of worshipping idolatrous pagan images of animals,not loving unions.
    Paul had no idea of fixed orientation and may have regarded homosexuals as perverted heteros who consciously chose it.We know that homosexuality isn’t chosen,but a given.

  21. You are dodging around what I said before and focusing on Paul, who didn’t have all that much to say about same-sex relationships. If you read my review of Vines’ book, you’ll see that there seems to be a big question as to whether or not “sexual orientation” was even conceptualized during Biblical times (which stretch across thousands of years). We have a total absence of historical information regarding same-sex relationships except as expressed in either pagan worship of what Vines calls “sexual excess”. You also still haven’t addressed my comments on the lack of Biblical support for same-sex monogamous erotic/romantic relationships being presupposed let alone sanctioned within the covenant community. All examples we have in the Bible of same-sex erotic relationships occur outside the community of faith (either Judaism as it has existed across the centuries in the Bible or later Christianity).

    If you have actual evidence, I’m all ears, Keith. If you just want to debate from a position that lacks concrete data, I don’t believe that would be a productive use of your time or mine.

  22. James
    No i don’t of course think you’re being personally cruel,i was suggesting that the position of many in evangelicalism-of mandated celibacy)is cruel and unloving.This isn’t emotive its the golden rule of the new covenant-all of the law is love-and enforced celibacy is unloving and destructive.
    Social justice isn’t just a “modern imperative” but a biblical one.Isaah is read by Jesus and talks of “freeing the captives liberating the oppressed”.
    So the harm done to gay christians through celibacy isn’t purely emotive but a justice issue-to suggest god would impose an unbearable yoke like the Pharisees did would make god unjust.

  23. James
    I admit its not easy to find evidence of same sex erotic relationships in the bible-but their abscence doesn’t mean they are condemned.The lack of open same sex relationships in ancient Israel is a cultural factor.It was culturally taboo.
    Having said that,there are tentative examples in scripture that could refer to same sex couples.Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave is one possibility.The centurion describes his slave as a much loved “pais” which is Greek for “boy” in some contexts a homosexual partner.Jesus makes no condemnation.I know you wont accept Jonathan and David as a gay relationship,but its obviously same sex love: “David’s love for Jonathan exceeded that for a woman”.
    Most fundamentally Jesus himself. In Matthew says “some are born eunuchs” and even conservative scholars like Robert Gagnon admit this includes homosexuals.
    The evidence in favour of same sex unions in the bible is weak or fragmentary I admit James.But the abscence of reference doesn’t make then wrong.There are certainly classical authors who refer to homosexual unions of a monogamous nature.

  24. Keith said: No i don’t of course think you’re being personally cruel,i was suggesting that the position of many in evangelicalism-of mandated celibacy)is cruel and unloving.This isn’t emotive its the golden rule of the new covenant-all of the law is love-and enforced celibacy is unloving and destructive.

    OK, let’s examine the Golden Rule:

    “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    Matthew 7:12 (NASB)

    The key here is “for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Let’s compare that to the following:

    “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

    Matthew 22:36-40

    “Do unto others” and “loving God with all your resources and loving your neighbor as yourself” are all dependent upon the Law (Torah) and the Prophets. The way you’re using this (correct me if I’m wrong) is that loving God, your neighbor and doing unto others somehow replaces the Torah and the Prophets, and yet Jesus also said:

    “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. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    Matthew 5:17-19

    I know that most Evangelicals tend to read “annul” or “get rid of” in place of “fulfill” rather than “to make full” or “to be the living embodiment of obedience” but if we take Jesus at his word, until (literally) heaven and earth pass away, the Sinai covenant God made with Israel and its conditions, the Torah commandments, remain in force and Jews, including Jews in Messiah, remain obligated to observe them as part of their covenant relationship with God.

    So when Jesus says that all the Law and the Prophets are contained within a few short phrases, he (to my way of thinking) is saying that “Do unto others,” loving God,” and loving your neighbor” are all big “buckets” that contain all of the specific Torah commandments to Israel.

    I don’t want to get into a big debate about how “the Law” isn’t dead and wasn’t “nailed to the cross with Jesus”. Spend some time on my blog and you’ll see my reasoning whether you agree with it or not.

    What I am saying is that we can’t replace God’s specific commandments with the Golden Rule as if God “dumbed down” His behavioral requirements for Israel.

    Now what about Christians. I believe that Acts 15 was a binding legal ruling made by James (the brother of Jesus) and the Council of Apostles under the authority Jesus gave to them (see “binding and loosing”) that defined the obligations grafted-in Gentiles had relative to behavioral obedience. I also think the Acts 15 letter couldn’t possibly have contained all of the expectations for Gentile believers and it’s likely when that letter was sent out, it was accompanied by oral instructions that probably were eventually written down as the Didache, so Gentiles were obligated, in a sense, to a subset of Torah commandments as part of the slowly emerging New Covenant (a careful reading of Jeremiah 31 starting at verse 31 shows us that the New Covenant didn’t change the conditions laid out for the Sinai covenant, that is, the Torah, it just changes the material those conditions are written on, the human heart instead of stone tablets of lamb skin).

    I’m saying all this to lay a foundation for how “Do unto others” is a very general summary of the specific behavioral requirements of God, not a replacement for them.

    Now, you are using “the Golden Rule” as a very, very broad brush, painting a lot of issues, including same-sex relationships, pretty indiscriminately. Modern Judaism and Christianity, at least some branches of them, have a strong history of social justice. This is actually based on the ancient history of Judaism and the Torah, which mandates charity, compassion, and kindness but in very specific circumstances.

    When Jesus (and Isaiah) speak about “freeing the captives,” they are both very specifically talking about Jewish exiles and the future function of the Messiah to return them to their Land (the nation of Israel). It’s a complete misappropriation of scripture to generalize, spiritualize, or allegorically that verse to somehow mean that Jesus sanctioned same-sex relationships.

    You say that a just God wouldn’t be cruel to gay men and women and force them to live in celibacy if they choose to be part of the covenant community (the Church, in this case), but the same argument is often made by atheists who say that if God exists and He’s a just God, why does He allow any form of human suffering on Earth. There’s an answer for that one. We live in a broken world and it can only be repaired when Messiah returns and rights the wrongs. Will that include drawing in gay men and women in the Church who have maintained monogamous relationships? I can’t say for certain, but I don’t see it in the Bible.

    You say that absence doesn’t mean condemnation, but I never said it did. I said that lack of same-sex relationships in the community of faith as we see in the Bible indicates that the Bible, the Word of God (and thus the intent of God) does not presuppose same-sex relationships in the covenant community on any level.

    As far as the centurion and the “pais” he may or may not have loved, why should Jesus care? They were not part of the covenant community. They were not Jews or even (as far as the text indicates) God-fearing Gentiles. Jesus didn’t condemn Gentile pagans for not observing the Torah. Gentiles were not obligated because they were not part of the covenant. If the centurion did indeed have a sexual/love relationship with “pais” (and the jury is out on this one) it wouldn’t be relevant unless they attempted to join the community of faith.

    After all, Paul didn’t attempt to reform Roman society. Yes, he preached the Good News of Messiah, but unlike some activist Christians today, Paul didn’t try to get Roman laws changed to favor his branch of Judaism (at that time, there was no distinct relation called “Christianity,” Jesus-faith was one of the numerous streams of Judaism).

    You said, “The evidence in favour of same sex unions in the bible is weak or fragmentary I admit James.But the abscence of reference doesn’t make then wrong.” It’s a fallacy to attempt to prove something (that same-sex relationships are sanctioned within the community of faith) based on a lack of information. Only observable data, including documentation, can be considered as evidence of something.

    I’m sorry. I really am not trying to be mean, but on an evidentiary basis, your argument isn’t strong at all.

    If you want to argue that you will accept gay men and women in the community of faith based on personal compassion and are willing to let the chips fall where they may as far as final judgment is concerned, I may disagree with you, but I can understand erring on the side of mercy. But I don’t believe you can support your beliefs based on a valid exegetical analysis of the Bible.

  25. The red herring of celibacy, enforced or voluntary, was addressed in earlier comments to this topic. However, the real issue, and the proper response of loving, caring, people who accept HaShem’s biblical definitions of what is proper sexual behavior and what is not, is how to help those who fall short of HaShem’s design of human sexuality that was “very good”. It must begin with the acknowledgement that LBGTQ beliefs and behavior are contrary to HaShem’s design; that they “fall short”; that they deviate; that they are, by definition, “sin”. Therefore such beliefs and behavior must be repudiated, and afflicted individuals must be helped to discover in themselves the causes of their aberration. Such causes are not physiological or innate; they represent a fault of mental programming that interprets sexual patterning and generates responses. The causes in one individual are not necessarily that same as in any other individual; but analysis and reprogramming are certainly possible. In some cases even physical brain-chemistry adjustments via hormonal therapy may be helpful if conjoined with psychotherapy. In any case, the only way to achieve “happiness” for an afflicted individual within the community that aligns itself with HaShem’s design is to encourage and support the individual to conform with that alignment and that design. There can be no happiness that attempts to deny or to redefine that design, because such efforts can only exacerbate enmity and conflict with HaShem the all-powerful designer Who has defined what is right for human well-being. Anyone who insists on disagreeing with HaShem is only harming himself or herself and anyone that he or she persuades to cooperate with his or her error.

    It is certainly true that browbeating, “enforcement”, and ostracism are not techniques which help afflicted individuals. Human sexuality has long been recognized as one of the most powerful of human motivations. It is only reasonable, then, to recognize that sexual pathologies would be among the hardest to treat and correct. This is why they have persisted throughout human history and why the afflicted individuals are so resistant to the notion that they require treatment and re-adjustment rather than acceptance. It is also the reason why this particular human shortcoming receives more attention than a number of other shortcomings that are just as deviant from HaShem’s standards for human behavior.

  26. James
    Sorry but i cant at all agree that “on an evidentiary basis my argument isn’t strong”
    on the contrary,i think it is a robust one.But we are writing from very different christian traditions so we’re not going to approach it the same way.
    The golden rule is love.Paul states”all the law is love”.That means we evaluate all our actions against this criterion.In practise,of course the law of love would mean most of the time following the ten commandments-so we don’t murder or commit adultery or steal because it is unloving to others.We don’t worship other gods because it is unloving to god.However, under the law of love there might be times when the law of love overrides a law.For example “Thou shalt not lie” is a commandment and usually id an unloving act.But it would for example be a loving thing to lie to the Gestapo if you were sheltering Jews in the war.
    Any part of the old law that contradicts the law of love has been annulled.This is the New Covenant and we are under grace.
    Jesus did “fulfill” the law meaning he paid the price for all sins against the law and the law has been superseded.Jesus himself changes the law to conform to the law of love-telling people to “love your enemies” where the law said ” hate your enemies”.
    The exegesis of those who dont believe the people condemns homosexuality per se is very strong and incisive.Romans 1 is about people consciously giving up their sexuality for idolatry.Corinthians,in context is referring to rent boys(male prostitutes).The Levitical proscription is simply because the only form of homosexuality at that ancient time was the homoerotic temple rites of neighbouring tribes.
    The justice imperative in isiaah and the gospels isn’t “restricted” to some special case-the slavery of the Jews in egypt- but is an articulation of a general principle of social justice.Jesus himself preaches it-so he obviously isn’t referring to the Israelites in egypt-freed 1200 years earlier!
    yes we are in a fallen world but what is the defining feature of this? Breaking the law if love-self-love,love of others and love of gof.So drugs,alcoholism,murder,rape,promiscuitypoverty,mental illness are all characteristic of the fall.But the desire to love and bond with another in a committed,non exploitative context can NEVER be a sin because it obeys the law of love.

  27. Unfortunately Keith, I don’t have the time to address all of your comments right now, but I do want to disagree with your interpretation of the New Covenant as something that’s replaced the “Old,” that is, Sinai Covenant. However, that would take a lot of writing on my part. Fortunately, I’ve already done that writing.

    You can either access my eleven or twelve (depending on how you count them) series on the New Covenant starting with The Jesus Covenant Part 1: The Foundation (just click through, I’m pretty sure at the end of each blog post there’s a link leading to the next in the series) and/or my five-part review of D. Thomas Lancaster’s lecture series What About the New Covenant. Christianity has traditionally misinterpreted what the New Covenant is and how it works based on the rather ugly divorce that occurred early on between the Jesus-believing Gentiles and the Jesus-believing Jews, the former then creating a brand new religious stream called “Christianity,” which by necessity, had to reinterpret all of the pro-Jewish and pro-Israel prophesies of the New Covenant and the Messianic Age to favor the Gentiles and not the Jews. Sadly, nearly 2,000 years later, the Reformation notwithstanding, the core of Evangelical Christianity is still based on these early works of replacement theology, also known as fulfillment theology, or supersessionism.

    If your premise of the normalization of same-sex coupling within the covenant community is based on supersessionism (and I noticed that Vines also holds to a supersessionistic theology), then any conclusions based on that theology (in my opinion) will not be Biblical. Grace does not replace the Torah anymore than mercy replaces justice. They must co-exist or the world will never be truly just or merciful. A world with only justice is tyranny. A world with only mercy and love (as you suggest) is rampantly permissive with no rules, no boundaries, no standards of righteousness.

    Keith said: “But the desire to love and bond with another in a committed, non exploitative context can NEVER be a sin because it obeys the law of love.”

    Although ProclaimLiberty puts it pretty bluntly, there’s a different way of looking at the righteous standards of God. Also, though you may not consider one man sinning against another in a “non-exploitive context,” this doesn’t necessarily mean it is not a sin against God. Even David said that his sin with Bathsheva was a sin against God alone.

    The Bible isn’t something that we can apply with broad strokes as if it contains no specifics. The only way to make the Bible sanction same-sex romantic/erotic relationships in the community of faith is to focus on words like “love” without taking the context of both specific portions of scripture as well as the overarching plan of God recorded across the entire Bible into consideration.

    We’re going to have to “agree to disagree” on this one. We are coming from two widely differing perspectives, as you say, about how to read the Bible, as well as two different theological positions relative to the meaning of the covenants and what Jesus accomplished during his initial coming.

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