What Does God Want From Gay People?

BOISE — After a roller coaster of court rulings, the wait is over for same-sex marriage supporters.

The Ada County Courthouse issued the first licenses to Andrea Altmayer and Sheila Robertson minutes after 10 a.m. Wednesday, to cheers from those waiting in line.

Altmayer and Robertson were among the four couples who brought a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban.

The 9th Circuit Court ruled Monday that marriage licenses could be issued in Idaho beginning Wednesday morning. The order was the latest in a roller coaster of court decisions.

-Katie Terhune, 2:34 p.m. MDT October 15, 2014
“Same-sex marriage begins in Idaho”

Love doesn’t always look like love.

When I published this blog post two weeks ago, I was prepared for some people to applaud it, and for others to condemn it. That’s what happens whenever you put an opinion out there.

I was fully prepared for the waves of both support and hostility that accompany any vantage point on anything, especially a controversial topic like sexuality.

What I was not prepared for in any way were the literally hundreds and hundreds of people who have reached out to me personally to thank me for bringing some healing and hope to their families. Parents, children, siblings, and adults have confided in me (some for the first time anywhere), telling of the pain, and bullying, and shunning they’re received from churches, pastors, and church members — from professed followers of Jesus.

Scores of people from all over the world have shared with me their devastating stories of exclusion and isolation, of unanswered prayers to change, of destructive conversion therapies, of repeated suicide attempts, and of being actively and passively driven from faith by people of faith.

-John Pavlovitz, Rogue Pastor and Writer
Posted 10/16/2014 1:20 pm EDT, edited 1:59 pm
“Distorted Love: The Toll of Our Christian Theology on the LGBT Community”
The Huffington Post

I don’t have a lot of use for the Huff Post. I read some of their articles, but because they are just as skewed to the left as Fox News is to the right, I can’t see any particular advantage of choosing one over the other, so I don’t consider either reliably credible sources of information.

But given that “marriage equality” has come even to Idaho, and since the Huff Post article was posted to Facebook by someone I admire and respect, I am once again revisiting this topic.

Oh, I’ve been here before. I’ve reviewed Matthew Vines’ book “God and the Gay Christian,” criticized controversial Pastor John MacArthur on his abysmal advice to parents of gay children, and otherwise commented on the intersection of faith and the LGBTQ community within their/our midst here, here, and here (and that’s only a partial list).

michaelsonIn my continued attempt to see what other people are seeing and how they resolve the apparent conflict of cleaving to the Bible as the Word of God and yet accepting actively gay couples into the community of faith, another in a long series of books as been recommended to me: Jay Michaelson’s God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality. I don’t high hopes that Mr. Michaelson will be any more successful at showing me what I seem to be missing any more than anyone else has. All of the argument for supporting the acceptance of marriage equality within the Church and Synagogue must either drastically re-write (or at least radically reinterpret) the Bible or baldly insert what isn’t actually there.

I can’t find “loving gay couples” in the Bible, certainly not within the covenant community, nor is what we now call “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” even faintly presupposed in the Biblical text. I can purchase a used copy of Mr. Michaelson’s book for less than a dollar on Amazon, so I risk little in buying and reading what he wrote (and I risk even less because I just discovered his book is available at my local public library).

The core of every gay Christian’s (or ally’s) argument in support of gays participating in the Church while in same-sex romantic/erotic relationships (legally married or otherwise) is that “Jesus is love”. OK, I’m grossly oversimplifying the argument, but stripped down to its nuts and bolts, that’s it.

Pastor Pavlovitz’s article focuses on the damage done to various gay individuals when rejected by their churches and told that their actions and even their desires are sinful (which, by the way, was also a large part of Matthew Vines’ argument). The readers are meant to feel compassion for human beings who were born to desire members of their own sex rather than the opposite. The fault in all this is either God’s or in how we interpret the Bible.

I’m willing to accept the latter argument if you can convincingly show me where the error exists. I’m an advocate for (in theory) taking our understanding of Biblical exegesis “back to formula” and building it up from scratch, since two-thousand years of Christian and Jewish tradition have skewed how we define “sound doctrine” and obliterated how the original writers and readers of the Bible would have understood the message contained therein.

But what I see instead is the desire to not correctly understand the message of the Bible and then conform our lives to a behavioral standard set by God for humanity, but the requirement to fit the Bible into the current societal standards set by progressive cultural and political imperatives.

Besides the recent tide of Federal judicial decisions ordering various states to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Houston (Texas) Mayor Annise Parker and her administration’s subpoenas of the sermons of several local Pastors in relation to a lawsuit regarding the so-called “HERO” (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance ) legislation complicates the “war” between religion and the political structures supporting LGBTQ desires.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker

And I don’t know what to do with the overwhelming flood of anecdotal reports from people who say they were “born this way” and have never known any other way to relate romantically or sexually. I can’t say “no, that’s not how you feel” or “you are giving in to sinful impulses” when I have no ability whatsoever to experience that person’s reality. On top of that, most religious people who have the concept of sin know, at least on some level, when they’re sinning. But if what straight Christians consider sin is experienced only as love (or maybe sometimes just desire) by gay Christians, what am I to say to that?

I’m looking for an answer one way or the other. Unfortunately, Pavlovitz ends his article only with this:

We are losing credibility to those outside organized Christianity, not because we’re “condoning sin” but because when the rubber meets the road, we really don’t know how to “love the sinner” in any way that remotely resembles Jesus, and our “God is love” platitudes ring hollow.

Church, this is our legacy that we are building in these days to the LGBT community and those who love them, and I assure you it’s not a legacy of love.

I don’t know what the answer is for you, and I can’t tell you how your theology gets expressed in the trenches of real people’s lives. I only know that we as Christ’s church can do better, regardless of our theological stance. We have to do better.

This is where our faith is proven to be made of Jesus-stuff or not.

This is where the love of God we like to preach about is either clearly seen or terribly distorted.

I don’t really care about whatever credibility or lack thereof those outside the religious community see in Christianity since we are supposed to please God, not people. Also, in suggesting that Christianity doesn’t know how to “love the sinner,” he is at least hinting that there’s some sort of sin involved in homosexuality, though I doubt he meant to send that message.

While I agree that “demonizing” gay people is not how the Church should respond to them, I do agree that Jesus didn’t die to excuse or cover up sin but rather, to forgive it (once the sinner has sincerely repented). And again, I crash headlong into the issue of sin vs. (presumably) in-born orientation and behavioral expression of said-orientation.

If we are to respond to all sins as being “the same” with no one type of sin being better or worse than another, then I get it. We can’t react to a gay person in the Church any differently than a bank robber, embezzler, or drug abuser in the Church. Gay sin isn’t any more “icky” than embezzlement sin.

But that’s not the issue from Pavlovitz’s perspective or anyone else who supports wholehearted acceptance of the LGBTQ community within the covenant community. The issue is love equals acceptance and that being gay isn’t a sin, it’s a life. It’s built-in, and that being the case, God must approve since God made the person to be gay even as he made me to be straight.

But there’s no “smoking gun” in the Bible, and to the best of my knowledge, Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, Solomon, Jesus, Peter, and Paul…well, none of them were gay nor were any of them in a “loving same-sex relationship”.

Despite the vast number of laws and commandments, both biblical and rabbinic, the rabbis insist that sometimes we are beholden to an even higher standard. This is the idea of lifnim mi-shurat ha-din, beyond the letter of the law. The sages recognize that one can observe the commandments and still engage in deplorable behavior, and they call one who does this naval b’reshut ha-torah, a scoundrel within the bounds of the law.

-from Walking with the Mitzvot, p.27
Edited by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
and Rabbi Patricia Fenton
Published by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies (PDF)

So who is observing the commandments and still engaging in “deplorable behavior” as far as the current debate goes, the Church or the gay Christians in it? I suppose that remains to be seen.


I’m going to the library in a few minutes (as I write this, I’ve already started the book as you read this) to check out the Michaelson book. I’ll try again. I want to be fair. But more than that, I want to do what God wants me to do. I’m pretty lousy at that sometimes, but I’ve got to keep trying.


58 thoughts on “What Does God Want From Gay People?”

  1. Tough topic to tackle. Here in Oklahoma the ” Buckle” of the Bible Belt, they just issued the first legal license to a lesbian couple. It has ignighted a war of words on both sides of the issue, and both sides at least here are not very loving at all. As Shlomo HaMelech said “there’s morning new under the sun”.

  2. Yes it is, Tony. I’ve tackled it before. If the Bible is saying something different about “loving same-sex couples” than what it appears, I’d like to find that message. However, I’m prepared to discover that it isn’t saying what LGBTQ supporters believe and may not address their issues at all. I know the challenge is to find a resolution is scripture but what if it doesn’t exist? What do you do with a person who experiences faith and trust in God but who also experiences a lived identity that requires same-sex romantic/erotic attraction and relationships? I don’t know. Maybe I’m not required to find out.

  3. The Torah forbids the homosexual act, known as mishkav zakhar, but has nothing to say about homosexuality as a state of being or a personal inclination. In other words, traditionally, a person with a homosexual inclination can be an entirely observant Jew as long as he or she does not act out that inclination.

    I’m not implying that the feelings or the inclination (of homosexuality) is in itself ok, it’s not, but we all have our battles.

    1. According to LGBTQ people in the church and synagogue, they want to take it a step further and believe that forced celibacy as a requirement for participation in the community of faith in inequitable. From their point of view, if God made them gay, then why should they have to suppress their very nature? If straight people in the congregation are allowed to enter into loving relationships and marriage, why should God forbid gay couples from doing the same? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not throwing out the Bible or issuing blanket approval of gay romantic/sexual relationships for disciples of Messiah. But the Bible really doesn’t address what we think of today as “sexual orientation”. There are no “loving same-sex couples” in the Bible and particularly not as approved of participants in the covenant community of God. Some Christian gay advocates say the opposite, but I’ve looked at the verses they cite, and their interpretation seems a bit careless and composed of wishful thinking. I’ve just started the Michaelson book, so in the next few days, I’ll see if his argument is somehow more compelling than the rest I’ve explored.

  4. Not too many sins carry the death penalty behind the actual act, but within the Torah, homosexuality carries this degree of punishment. It goes against G-d’s family structure and plan for humanity. There much more to explore in this subject, may G-d help us all.

    1. To play the opposite side of the coin, some interpreters say that the scriptures you’re referencing specify such acts within the context of idol worship and temple prostitutes. From my investigation so far, the Bible prohibitions against same-sex sex can be seen as those acts occurring within pagan practices or those act of excessive indulgence, such as what was found within Roman and Greek culture. The Bible may very well be silent on what we refer to today as “sexual orientation” and that concept likely didn’t come into existence until the late 19th or early 20th centuries. If that is true, then we’re faced with the question of whether or not people “sexually oriented” to same-sex sex even existed in ancient times and if they exist now, what changed? Is it a matter of people understanding homosexuality in a totally different framework back in the day, or has something changed in the societal milieu itself that promotes such alternative expressions of sexuality or gender identity.

      I recently read an article that used the term “gender fluidity” which suggested that the gender identity of a person could exist along a multidimensional scale rather than be simply male or female. Tough to wrap my brain around such a multiplex of gender “options.”

  5. James (please read these notes on a shiurim):

    Homosexuality and Its Many Wrongs

    The Torah lists the seriously unacceptable sexual relationships in two places in Vayikra, chapters 18 and 20. In the first, as a rabbi recently pointed out to me, homosexuality is set off from the other arayot by a verse about Molech worship. A Tosafot in Yevamot 54b picks up on that to suggest that perhaps these two forms of sexual immorality differ from the others.

    First, the Torah leads in to the whole list of arayot by warning us not to act as the Egyptians and Canaanites did, which Sifra defines as men marrying men and women marrying women (this is more important, perhaps, for women to realize, since it shows that while a single lesbian act is “only” of rabbinic prohibition, lesbian marriage violates a Torah prohibition).

    In addition, the end of that section of the Torah sees all these sins as reasons the Land of Israel is kicking out the Canaanite nations, and admonishes Jews to realize that it would be cause for the Land to spit us out as well. I don’t need to weigh in on how supernaturally the Torah means this to see that the statement gives improper sexuality a significance beyond that of “ordinary” prohibitions like eating pork.

    I pause to add that this Sifra gives the lie to the frequent claim (even among observant Jews) that we now have come to understand homosexuality better than in times gone by. Homosexuality, including homosexual marriage, has been fully accepted in several of the most sophisticated cultures of their times. The Torah refers to it, Chazal knew it, Rome had it, Spain had it, and I believe there was more than a little of it in pre-WWII Germany. There is nothing new about it, no big discovery; it is just our turn to live in a society whose view of sexuality has become so warped that it sees it as a reasonable option. In the second list of arayot, by the way, the Torah separates homosexuality from bestiality and inserts them more fully into the list, so that it seems to me that Aruch laNer’s suggestion doesn’t hold water; homosexuality is an arayot act, a fact that Aruch haShulchan says explicitly in Even haEzer 24; 1.

    I have gone through all this to establish that homosexuality is not just a prohibited karet act, like eating certain fats of dead animals. It is one of the acts the Torah defined as so destructive to a nation’s spiritual health that we were required to be killed rather than transgress; we run the risk of being kicked out of Israel (again!) for indulging it, and it is part of the negative legacy of the Canaanites and Egyptians.

  6. (Continues):

    We need to distinguish between how we view the sin and the sinner. People who have homosexual urges, whether that is the only way they can see themselves expressing their sexuality or just one way, have to struggle with a strong and powerful inclination to sin. Many of us, too, have strong inclinations to sin we must battle and, for some of us, it might be in areas equally as problematic as homosexuality (some people feel the strong urge to kill; some are strongly attracted to forms of religiosity that would qualify as avodah zarah; and there are many sexual options other than homosexuality that are karet prohibitions and challenge those who have the urge towards it, such as adultery).

    An individual homosexual struggling with this yetzer hara deserves the same empathy as those who struggle with any yetzer hara; perhaps I should qualify that to add, as those who struggle with a yetzer hara which the world around them fully accepts as moral and reasonable. They are being forced to return to our roots as Jews, to our forefather Abraham, who had to repeatedly say to the people around him—people who seemed as sophisticated, thoughtful, intelligent, and insightful as he—that idolatry was wrong and evil.

  7. A few other notes:

    Homosexual relations are forbidden by the Tora for all human beings. See TB Sanhedrin 58a and Rambam’s MT Isure Biya 14:10 and M’lakhim UMilhamoth 9:7.

    Rambam (M’lakhim UMilhamoth 9:17) goes on to explain that non-Jewish societies “are required to appoint judges and courts to try” all matters pertaining to the Seven Noahide Laws “and to inform and warn the people” regarding these laws. It is, therefore, the duty of the government and its institutions to educate the public about the Seven Noahide Laws, including the prohibition regarding homosexuality.

  8. I’m only about 30 pages into the Michaelson book and I’d like to get through the whole thing before actually reviewing his conclusions.

    That said, here are a few statements reflecting his perspective:

    What about Leviticus, Romans, and Corinthians? Love demands that we read them narrowly, just as we read narrowly the commandments to stone rebellious children to death, or to sell people into slavery. They are already marginal texts — homosexuality never appears in the teachings of Jesus, or the Ten Commandments, and love does not erase them. But it does limit them.

    -Michaelson, p.27

    There are exegetical and logical errors in the quote above but it communicates Michaelson’s understanding of how to read the Bible and find acceptance of LGBTQ people in the community of faith. Here’s one more:

    One New Testament scholar has written that “any interpretation of scripture that hurts people, oppresses people, or destroys people cannot be the right interpretation, no matter how traditional, historical, or exegetically respectable.” This is a crucial point. If we approach “the question of homosexuality” as a legal, academic, or hermeneutical enterprise, we will get nowhere religiously. All the arguments work, and the anti-gay ones are just as clever as the pro-gay. No — to be responsible members of a faith tradition, we must first open our hearts, allow them to be broken by the heartrending stories of gays who have suffered from exclusion, plague, and self-loathing, and uplifted by inspiring stories of integration, love, and celebration.

    -ibid, pp.28-29

    I suppose I should add:

    “All you need is love.”

    -Lennon-McCartney (1967)

    Sorry if that last bit sounded cynical, but Michaelson isn’t saying anything different than I’ve read before. Granted, I’m only thirty pages in, but you’d think he’d want to bring out the “big guns” right away to “hook” his doubting audience and cause them (us, me) to believe that the Bible has been so grossly misinterpreted due to cultural prejudice against gays that the “truth” has been hidden until now.

    Unfortunately, he throws exegesis right out the window or at least replaces the complex matrix of interpretive methods we apply to the Bible with “all you need is love.”

    If God doesn’t want people to suffer and we, as believers, don’t want to be unjust and cause needless suffering, then we must allow ourselves “to be broken by the heartrending stories of gays who have suffered from exclusion, plague, and self-loathing, and uplifted by inspiring stories of integration, love, and celebration.”

    I’m sorry. I don’t want to be mean, cruel, and unfair, but the only thing Michaelson has established for me so far is that there is a fundamental incompatibility between the Bible and how gay people experience their own identity and sexuality.

  9. I think this issue typically gets muddied by a failure to separate out the issue and get to the core of what the actual sin is. From Torah’s perspective, it can only be the act of homosexual sex. As far as same-gender attraction is concerned, I don’t see that issue addressed outside of the general prohibitions against lusting after a married person.
    I have heard of same-gender-attracted Christians who choose the route of lifelong celibacy because they take the Bible’s sexual morality laws and their discipleship seriously.
    That is an extremely high price to pay for walking with Yeshua. Much higher than most of us will ever pay. Any conversation about gay Christians, in my opinion, has to start with the acknowledgement that we know little of that path. For some, celibacy will be the only logical conclusion. For others, it may be a whole lifelong process of figuring out how to honor Yeahua with their sexuality, as we are all asked to do. But if we accept celibacy as the only legitimate option for a person whose natural desires would violàte Torah if fulfilled, thèn those people need some next-level support and love along the way because that’s a seriously tough road to walk. But how can we send the message that they’ve failed at being disciples right out of the gate simply for being attracted to certain people? That is not the sin, IMO, any more than a fleeting feeling of attraction to someone other than your spouse is. It’s what we DO from there that determines whether we walk down the road of the yetzer hara or the yetzer hatov. Some people are given a much harder path to walk, and rather than parcelling it all out so we have a cohesive theology that covers their situation, I think we’d be better off inviting them into our homes and forging loving, supportive networks for them to grow within. Am I off base?

    1. Actually I think you’re right on, Kari. To shift the “all you need is love” statement to a more positive and useful framework, a loving response to gays in the community of faith begins with the realizations you’ve outlined in your comment. Michaelson mentioned more than once that there is a great deal of self-loathing leading to even suicide attempts among gays in the church and synagogue because they’ve been taught that they’re no good just because of who they’re attracted to. Responding with compassion and love and acknowledging the path of pain many gays walk every day is a great way to start, I just don’t know where to take it from there.

  10. “On top of that, most religious people who have the concept of sin know, at least on some level, when they’re sinning. But if what straight Christians consider sin is experienced only as love (or maybe sometimes just desire) by gay Christians, what am I to say to that?”
    This is a biblical point! Romans 14:14, James 4:17.
    We aren’t called to be judge of anyone else. If we are to be Christ-like, that is (which I fully believe we are). John 3:16-17.
    Christ was sent to save from our sin and our goal should be to show people Christ so they can be saved.

    1. Greetings, sacred struggler.

      I’m not sure that Romans 14:14 fits since “clean” and “unclean” are technical terms within both ancient and modern Judaism.

      Being curious, I looked at your blog and was particularly drawn to this blog post, which seems particularly applicable given the current conversation. I don’t think I could craft a better response. I still don’t know if there is any “ultimate” answer to this quandary. I suppose it would have helped if Jesus had encountered a gay disciple or two, but we have no such record of this in the Bible. We do know that Jesus was unflinchingly honest in his appraisal of people and never pulled any punches (Matthew 23 is full of his stark honesty). I say this to indicate that there is a “flip side” to Jesus’ kindness and compassion, not to say we shouldn’t lead with our kindness and compassion. We also know that Jesus had virtually no contact with the non-Jewish world (with notable exceptions) and so left it to certain apostles to fulfill the Matthew 28:19-20 directive. It was Paul who primarily would have experienced the wider tapestry of Gentile behavior which largely came from the ancient Roman and Greek pagan cults which were infused into those cultures.

      If anyone would be likely to meet a gay person, it was Paul, but he never mentioned a thing about it. Relative to the conversation, he only directed potential initiates to self-control and discipline (see Acts 24:25 which is Paul addressing Felix and Drusilla, for example). That’s not much of a guide for how we should consider the LGBTQ community in the modern world, but the very concept of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are relatively new concepts and were unknown when the Bible was written. If the Bible is silent on this matter, where can we find our voice?

      1. The other ways that that greek word is translated are profane, or dirty. if that doesn’t apply to sex, I’m not sure what would. Though I am stretching the context.
        I do believe there are many who believe that Paul was perhaps himself homosexual. For those who would argue that to be homosexual is not the problem but to act on it is, Paul provides the perfect example of a life lived properly by a gay individual.
        I’m not bothered that I don’t have an answer. It’s not important to me to be right on this, but to be loving.
        And to your last question I ask this in response: if Christ is silent on the entire thing, what are we supposed to do?
        If you don’t mind I’d love your opinion on this one:
        What do you think about viewing homosexuality this way? What kind of affect could that have on the Christian mindset? Let’s not forget, lefties were being killed by the church because they were thought to be possessed.
        May you find blessings on your journey.

  11. Quoting James: I recently read an article that used the term “gender fluidity” which suggested that the gender identity of a person could exist along a multidimensional scale rather than be simply male or female. Tough to wrap my brain around such a multiplex of gender “options.”

    Someone I encounter on a frequent basis was watching some news with me and starting to talk about it (momentarily as it is his habit not to actually engage even in a topic for which he signals some level of interest). It does so happen to be that the subject was court matters on the subject of this meditation. But this person’s observation was more surface. He wondered if one particular person speaking was gay; rather stated that he thought he was gay, and wondered if I agreed. It’s like when he says someone’s mouth is shaped funny or the person has weird eyebrows… when I’m trying to listen to and evaluate the meaningful conversation. As one of my children [not quite a child at eighteen but still living at home and going to school, the youngest] was in the room (and a couple others came in as they arrived within the hour), this topic reached beyond the person who started it and me. What I’ve continued pursuing for now is the gender subject (though not with the originator of that day’s distraction, as that’s pointless).

    A couple days later so happened to be International Day of the Girl (serendipitously presented as a time to “shine a light on gender equality” — implying gender to be what you’re physically born with, including chromosomes). That had been my point of view, though there was disagreement. There could be talk of gender equality and it not be about genetics, but this story was about female children being deprived of education and other matters of being human [such as a need for proper restrooms at school, a right not to be raped, and so on].

    Some days after that, a cousin (who is female and who about a year ago went to New Mexico with her near-two-decade girlfriend/partner to get married) posted a cartoon with a fork and knife asking two chopsticks which one is the fork. So, I let them know I would be interested in talking about this (when we’re in the same city sometime). She had commented that people ask this in different ways but that “we all know what they mean by it.” I’m not sure what they mean by it. I’m not the least bit interested in prying into what they may or may not do in bed (and one of them has said in the past that not everyone has to be sexual even in a relationship), but the aspect of whether people think, for instance, that one of them should be dominant in life is what I’m curious about. I do think there are spectra of seeming gender roles/behavior.

    [I also think there are people born with mixed presentation of genitalia, etc.– don’t have to think it or guess; this is documented. That’s different from a person with physical clarity claiming counterwise.]

    I know that my dad has said (when I was in town) to my cousin’s mother that her daughter (my cousin) is “the” man.* What a weird idea. Has he taken into account that she wanted, for a long time, to have a child? And she’s not particularly gruff or bossy or anything. She’s been physically active and competitive in some sports recreationally is about all. Eh… she does work, but so does the partner. Does he know who earns more? Would that be a definer to him? I am concerned that if gender is not about chromosomes and presentation at birth, “female” will remain stereotypical — losing, lower, in a dress and not in a tree.

    * He said it kinda angrily, not like it’s good or it’s all okay. He asked my aunt if she was happier if she knew her daughter is the man.

    I currently consider myself in conversation on this generally.

    I also have some thoughts on your target question. Maybe I’ll get to a level of focus and verbosity to type in some ideas. I’m more at rest or settled or something with that one. Still, open to insight.

  12. You bring up some good points Marlene, very similar to sacred struggler. We tend to lead with our attitudes which flow from the stereotypes we embrace. It never occurs to some people to treat gay people as people who have all of the same problems, desires, and issues as the rest of us.

  13. James said:

    “but the very concept of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are relatively new concepts and were unknown when the Bible was written.”

    And they are concepts and terms that have been created as a way of legitimising something acts that the Bible DOES address – but not with acceptance; that is: “men, giving up natural relations with the opposite sex, burn with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with other men”.

    I recall a similar case of “new vocabulary” being used to excuse sin. I think it was British/Australian writer Ben Elton who commented on the term “Shopaholic” – saying something along the lines that at one time the accepted description would have been “greedy”. (or in biblical terms covetousness – onesimus).

    We humans can be very adept at manipulating language to suit our own purposes, and to give an appearance of legitimacy to what God condemns.

  14. Here goes mine… I’m actually kind of lost in a lot of the commenting done here because I am not Jewish but a goyim. Nevertheless, I am a believer of Jesus (or Yeshua) so here goes.

    The main thing I see here is this. We either believe in what God says or we believe in what man says. If God, through Paul, promises healing from sin and eventual growth out of sin then who are we to question that? The passage I’m referring to is Romans chapters 5 through 8.

    I know someone that was gay and no longer is because of the salvation that God imparts through Christ. He’s actually a married man now with kids and, last I’ve heard from him, teaches the scriptures in his ministry. If the person truly repents (turns his thought patterns around) and allows God’s word to change him/her, I don’t see how the Holy Spirit won’t work it in them. If the person refuses to repent, well… I don’t know what else to say there. If they haven’t repented, then there is something missing in their proclamation of salvation. You can’t get in until you agree fully with Christ in your position that you hold against him and ask him to forgive you. I simply think that a homosexual that claims a religious belief of the God found in the bible is doing simply what Paul states that he’s doing in Romans 1:18-32. Btw… That is not inclusive of only homosexuality but many other sins worthy of death in the Torah. Salvation requires acknowledgment of sin and repentance of same and that is not negotiable.

    Just my two cents worth.

  15. BTW… My problem is not that I don’t want to help someone that has a problem with homosexuality or do not wish to treat them well. My problem is when a professing believer states that homosexuality is not a sin and that God is required to accept them without a call for them to surrender their lives to his desires. You want to be homosexual, you won’t have no problem by me. You want to claim that homosexuality should be considered tolerable by God, then we got a problem.

  16. One of the latest things is to wonder if a person who has had a re-assignment operation is “gay” or homosexual for being with or being attracted to someone born of the newly-assigned sex or gender.

    1. @Marleen — So who’s wondering about whether surgery removes the stigma of homosexuality? One may argue that “biology is destiny”, which is to say that genetic sexual identity should prevail as the key to seeking psychological gender orientation. Except in the rare case of surgery to correct a physical malformation, which is usually performed to favor the genetic identity and seeks to foster reproductive health and consistency rather than conflict, gender re-assignment surgery is simply another case of enabling a psychological malformation. It merely concretizes a maladjustment, making it essentially permanent. And because it produces a sterile situation reproductively, it becomes an unresolvable denial of HaShem’s primary command to humans to be fruitful and multiply; hence an unresolvable conflict even if the individual’s heart should repent. I do not say unforgivable, but resolution of the ongoing physiological conflict would likely have to wait for the resurrection into an incorruptible body. Meanwhile, the only existing historical model for a positive identity would seem to be that of the “eunuch”, such as cited in Is.56 or Mt.19:12.

      In any case, such individuals have removed themselves from participation in the reproductive processes that preserve human existence. Likewise, their suitability for childcare or training roles becomes limited because they can contribute no positive personal experience or role modeling to children who need examples of proper gender orientation to guide their own. Their own (even if only prior?) gender confusion and conflict can only communicate the same to vulnerable or confused others. They might have something worthwhile to contribute to certain therapeutic processes that resolve sexual pathology, but they should remain aloof from the normal developmental stream, and seek occupations that do not depend on normative sexual modeling. Like Levites who could not serve if they suffered certain physical deformities, “eunuchs” must also suffer some occupational limitations in order to protect normative heterosexual societal functioning. There are limits to the degree in which humans afflicted with one or another handicap are able to integrate with their larger societies. Some severe cases require lifelong institutionalization; others are able to integrate in varying degrees. I believe this illustrates the parameters of the issue at hand, as well.

  17. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it whenever the issue is raised: Any of the self-perceptions reported by LGBT-or-Qs, that place their sense of identity or desired behavior in opposition to what HaShem has defined as proper and healthy for human individuals and their societies, are aberrations of psychological programming. They all represent internal misinterpretations of one sort or another of common human sexual impulses. One could call them faulty beliefs, though they are actually more deeply-seated in the psycho-emotional matrix than that sounds. There are many details associated with all the varieties of psycho-sexual errors, which can be useful knowledge for the therapist, but are essentially irrelevant to this discussion about right and wrong as defined by HaShem and about our caring response to those so afflicted. Raul Lopez touched on the notion of the potential for internal reprogramming by individuals dedicated to seeking agreement with HaShem. As with other psychological conditions, there is a great deal of difference between loving or caring for the afflicted souls and enabling their continued affliction. Much of the attempt to recommend “loving” these individuals is nothing more than enabling their condition. A failure to acknowledge their error, and failure to seek its resolution, is not love.

    HaShem clearly created two sexual categories of human, “male and female created He them”. Gender is not identical with physical genetics, but in a living individual it must correlate with physical identity in order for the individual to function properly to propagate the species. Denial of this fundamental purpose is a recipe for extinction; it is, by definition, “misanthropic”. Any deviation from this can only cause conflict, internally and externally, and it is by nature self-defeating. Failure by an individual of one physical gender to embrace the differences represented in another individual of the other physical gender is limiting that self to a kind of Narcissism that acknowledges sexual value in only half of the human species. The challenge of learning to interact with the corresponding other gender is necessary to individual completeness and maturity. HaShem created a system of human interdependence that He evaluated as “very good”. Why would we challenge that evaluation? On what basis could any individual’s personal feelings possibly justify it? Humans are notoriously prone to misjudgments of all kinds; why should we think LGBTQ individuals are exempt, regardless of how strongly they might “feel” about the matter?

  18. I suppose I should note that the other challenge posed by discussions of the present sort is the challenge of persuading LGBTQ individuals to acknowledge their aberration and to seek therapy to correct it. At this point, it is also necessary to convince entire societies that this really is an aberration, contrary to what the LGBTQ movement has been demanding, and to develop corresponding palliative and psycho-cybernetic therapies. One may well wonder if there is not some positive therapeutic use for some kinds of “brainwashing” techniques in extreme cases where mere counseling is ineffective to relieve the internal conflict. Certainly there seems to exist an open field for research into the psychological influences that shift an individual’s psycho-sexual programming into conflict with their biological identity. But a society must decide to give priority and support to such research, in order to hope to find suitable therapies for changing aberrant self-perceptions, rather than to acquiesce to the aberrations or accept them as normative.

  19. @sacred struggler: I know there have been multiple theories about who may have been gay in the Bible? Paul because he apparently had never been married? What about Jesus? What was the relationship between David and Jonathan. The net result is that there’s no explicit, or for that matter, implicit suggestion of same-sex relationships being “normalized” within the ancient communities of Jewish faith (and during the apostolic era, “Christianity” as such, did not exist, it was a fully-realized branch of Judaism).

    To be right or to be loving? That’s more or less the question brought up in the Michaelson book. But what if God has absolute standards for human behavior including sexual behavior? Can we say that God being “right” is trumped by God being “loving”? So far, the answer seems to be simply to disregard those troublesome areas of the Bible that address homosexual behavior and emphasize love, but I’m not so sure it’s as easy as all that. I’m only thirty or so pages into the book so far. I’ll see if Michaelson has anything revolutionary to deliver. I’m not comfortable to allow emotion to be my only hermeneutical tool.

    @Onesimus: Yes, the concepts that are not taken for granted in much of our society are recent developments. In spite of arguments to the contrary, there’s no definitive historical evidence that anyone anywhere across human history thought of same-sex relationships in the same manner as opposite-sex relationships. The question is, did society just catch up with a long-standing biological reality or did society, somehow, create and foster a cultural environment that encouraged the development and normalization of multiple sexual orientations and gender identities that previously didn’t exist among human beings. I don’t have the answer, but I must consider the possibility.

    @Raul. Greetings. One question brought by advocates of normalizing same-sex relationships within the church is that the statements about homosexuality in the original languages are somewhere ambiguous. The other is that they don’t directly address sexual orientation, but rather homosexual relationships either within the context of pagan practices (temple prostitutes and such) or as sensual excesses which we find in ancient Roman and Greek cultures. I’m not saying I automatically accept those arguments but they have to be addressed in order to craft an adequate response to the issue.

    The question of whether gays can be “cured” is interesting. To the best of my knowledge, this sort of treatment is effective with a very, very few number of people. Most gays in the church feel caught between being the people they were created to be, which includes their sexuality, and the church doctrine that says homosexuality is a sin. The church says “you can’t be a homosexual and also be a Christian,” which leads many gays to leave the church or to seek out liberal churches that are inclusive of gays.

    What most of us don’t experience, because we are not gay (an estimated 3 to 5 percent of the general population is thought to be gay, although some place the percentage as high as 10 if you consider those individuals who are still “in the closet”), we don’t have the lived experience of being gay. We don’t know what it’s like to feel as if every fiber of your being is constructed so that you can only have romantic and erotic love with a same-sex partner. If that’s how a person feels and they also have faith in Jesus Christ and are devoted to serving him, then that person feels absolutely trapped, caught between to apparently opposing directives in his or her life.

    The question is, how to we as believers respond to that? The gay people in question don’t experience themselves as deliberately deciding to sin. As sacred struggler indicated above, gay people experience their sexuality like I experience being left-handed (which I am).

    @Marleen: That’s a question outside the immediate scope of the conversation. One “brain buster” at a time, please. 😉

    @PL: You comment reminds me of my review of Dennis Prager’s article on this topic. In short (and you already know this), he said that Judaism focused human sexuality into a very specific path, requiring marriage and monogamy between two opposite sex partners, thus making western civilization possible. Seemingly, left to their (our) own devices, people will have sex with anyone and anything (the history of human sexuality and its variations is long and startlingly wide) and only Judaism and Christianity’s “thumb print” on societal expectations for heterosexual monogamy, enables the necessary stability for the continued development of the western culture we have today. Eroding those boundaries, according to Prager, erodes civilized social behavior.

    This somewhat lends credence to something I said before about how changes in societal perception about sexuality has “let the genie out of the bottle,” so to speak. You (those involved with these comments, I’m sure you’ve already read it, PL) can read the Prager article for the details.

    PL said:

    At this point, it is also necessary to convince entire societies that this really is an aberration, contrary to what the LGBTQ movement has been demanding, and to develop corresponding palliative and psycho-cybernetic therapies.

    I suspect that is easier said than done, since any sort of suggestion invokes the dread spectre of “homophobia,” which seems to be the pejorative of choice to be used against anyone making such suggestions. Also, the medical and scientific community being relatively in tune with progressive social and cultural imperatives, is unlikely to devote resources for research into an process they find fundamentally unacceptable.

  20. If not for the fact that homosexuality is prevalent in Western Society today, there would be little controversy about this Torah sin. It is clearly forbidden and never condoned anywhere in the Torah.

    Again the Torah calls homosexuality a “Toaiva” (abomination). It is abhorrent to G-d. The Talmud (Nedarim 51a) says that by abandoning heterosexual sexual relations, the perosn is straying from one of his prime goals in life – to procreate and populate the earth (Genesis 1:28). The Chinuch (Mitzvah 209) explains that any “wasting of seed” on homosexual relations is preventing procreation and inhabiting the earth, the prime directive of man.

    This explanation does not point to the “unholiness” of the homosexual relationship, but, rather, the violation of man’s purpose on earth. We may be able to understand the Torah view of homosexuality better if we compare it to other sins in the Torah that are also called Toaiva (abomination).There are numerous other references to deeds that are described as Toaiva.By examining each one, we may be able to ascertain what they all have in common. Desiring and taking idols of the nations that the Jews conquer is considered a Toaiva (Deut.7:25-26). Eating non-kosher foods is also called a Toaiva-abomination. There is a general statement that ALL the customs of the Canaanite nations are considered to be Toaiva. Then there is a general warning not to learn or copy the Toaiva of all the Cannanite nations. This is followed by some examples, including child sacrifice to their gods, using a seer or “magician” to contact the dead or predict the future. Then G-d says that it is BECAUSE these nations did all these acts of Toaiva that G-d is letting the Jewish people inherit the land (Deut.7:25-26).

    What do all these acts have in common? They are pagan customs of the societies whose values are antithetical to Judaism. G-d emphatically warns the Jewish people (and the world – Noahide laws) not to learn these customs or follow these values. Based on this, homosexuality, also called abomination, can be understood to be a societal value and sin that is alien to Biblical law – Jewish values, and should not be “learned” from the societies where the Jews have lived or have conquered.

  21. One of the explanations of the cause of the Flood and G-d’s dissatisfaction with the world (Gen.6:12-13) is the widespread homosexual activity at that time. Each species “corrupted its way,” i.e. had improper sexual relationships. Man regularly engaged in bestiality (sexual relations with an animal) and homosexuality. It was for this reason that G-d destroyed the world.

    Interestingly the Master Yeshua the Mashiach says that the last days will be like the Days of Noah:

    “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matt.24:37-39)

  22. Again, to play the “devil’s advocate” Rey, it’s also an abomination to eat shrimp and catfish, yet the vast majority of Christians don’t see a problem with that. Since “sexual orientation” didn’t exist as a concept (in all likelihood) when the Torah was written, was God talking about homosexual contact within the pagan practices of Canaan? That’s one argument. You are correct that Torah lumps homosexual contact in the same container with sex with animals and sex with close relatives, so borrowing from Prager’s argument, God initiated a path of proper sexuality that would make the ancient nation of Israel organized around heterosexual, monogamous marriages, which was a radical notion at that time and place given the practices of the nations around them (and remember, Lot’s daughters, when they thought that everyone on earth had been wiped out, “reasoned” that the only way to keep the human race going was to have sex with their Dad and become pregnant by him, so the taboo of incest wasn’t strong enough to stop them – see Genesis 19:30-38).

    So far, as I see it, the best perspective to draw from that opposes the normalization of same-sex relationships in the community of faith can be drawn from Prager. The best perspective to draw from in supporting same-sex relations in the church and synagogue are those sacred struggle presents, erring toward compassion instead of condemnation.

    But even if we set aside all of the scriptures that apparently condemn same-sex sexual contact as sinful, we still have a problem. The Bible does not presuppose “loving same-sex relationships” within the community of faith. There isn’t a single example (though there are a lot of wishful suggestions) in the Bible of two men or two women having a “loving same-sex relationship and/or marriage” within the community of faith at all.

    But here’s a radical suggestion: Sexual orientation doesn’t exist in our history books, especially as far back as two-thousand years or longer, so the Bible couldn’t have addressed it. Automobiles and microwave ovens didn’t exist then as well. When these devices were invented, they had relatively no impact on Christian practice, but Judaism had to consider them in terms of existing halachah and especially if using said-devices on Shabbat constituted “work”. New Rabbinic rulings had to be considered and then issued and made binding as historical circumstances changed based on interpretation of the Bible.

    Now we have the concept of “sexual orientation” which also didn’t exist in Biblical times. Should we consider it a new “invention” which requires new “halachah” be developed based on the Bible. This is sort of like how the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the U.S. Constitution. “Marriage Equality” as a concept did not exist when the Constitution was first written and it’s highly unlikely that the founding fathers would have approved of it if it was suggested. But now, the Supreme Count “interprets” the Constitution to apply to situations and circumstances that did not and could not have existed in the 18th century.

    Can we interpret the Bible the way SCOTUS interprets the Constitution?

  23. Thanks Rey, but does that modify the commentary I just wrote? Can we consider the rulings we find at Hasidic University as universally applied to all humanity?

    BTW, I’m not trying to freak anyone out by my comments. I just want to explore this issue from all angles rather than taking a dogmatic stand one way or the other. That way at least I (hopefully) one be considered narrow minded when I reach one conclusion or the other.

  24. James can you elaborate on this? You said,

    “Since “sexual orientation” didn’t exist as a concept (in all likelihood) when the Torah was written… and…. Sexual orientation doesn’t exist in our history books, especially as far back as two-thousand years or longer, so the Bible couldn’t have addressed it.”

    1. If you look at the history of homosexual behavior across time, there is no documented evidence that such behavior occurred within the context of “loving, committed same-sex relationships”. There is a lot of evidence that it occurred, at least sometimes, in association with ancient pagan worship practices. Relative to the Roman empire, there’s evidence that Roman citizens engaged in sexual relations with non-citizens/slaves, as long as the Roman was the “penetrator” and not the “penetratee” since penetration was an act of dominance that one imposed on non-citizens and/or slaves. The Prager article suggests that especially males, left to their own devices, would engage in sexual contact, not with the idea of love and commitment, but with the idea of pleasure and sensuality, with just about any object they saw fit, and that it was only when the Torah of Moses was created and adhered to by the ancient Israelites that the idea of monogamy at all entered the world, let alone heterosexual monogamy.

      History is silent regarding any same-sex couples who bonded in a manner similar or identical to opposite-sex marital relationships, so we have no idea if they ever existed prior to less than a century ago. We only know for sure that within the last few decades, this concept has gained traction in western society and how it’s becoming a “normalized standard” of behavior among a small but vocal population.

      Does that help, Rey?

  25. James,

    Yes that did help, thank you! I am not trying to be unsympathetic, but so what? I mean, there are folks who genuinely love their idols, or even though being married love the other woman etc. So just because two people of the same sex love each other today, what does this mean?

    And please forgive me if i either misunderstood or seem like i’m not showing any compassion.

  26. @PL: I suppose I should note that the other challenge posed by discussions of the present sort is the challenge of persuading LGBTQ individuals to acknowledge their aberration and to seek therapy to correct it. At this point, it is also necessary to convince entire societies that this really is an aberration, contrary to what the LGBTQ movement has been demanding, and to develop corresponding palliative and psycho-cybernetic therapies

    Hi, Proclaim Liberty. I suppose you are aware a GBT person would probably be more likely to find a therapist to evaluate whether or not he/she is a “proper” (not sure if there’s one term of practice) candidate for surgery than one to convey that they need to change their perception of the situation, including sexual behavior. And that’s not the only way therapists are messed up. Kinda similarly to what you find if you look below what we’ve been told to see on the surface say in Sodom, what usually drives “therapy” is money — who has it, such that that person is the power (and right) in a relationship, and who oh who is perceived to be paying the therapist.

    I see sex-change surgery as a horror of abusive practice. [Obviously, it’s not usually done by therapists, so, that’s not the main connection I’m trying to make about money.]

    @PL: @Marleen — So who’s wondering about whether surgery removes the stigma of homosexuality?

    I didn’t say that. As I indicated in my prior post (prior to the one in which I stated that people are confused or “wondering” about identity of themselves or others after an operation), I’m focusing more on physical gender and identity as it relates to all this. As a culture, we need to be aware and not just stubborn. We are on the verge of people being taken as a different sex/gender from what they were born, whether after assignment “procedure(s)” or a change of dress or even pronoun. Yet, it doesn’t always correspond with a perceived end of homosexuality. There are people who change to perceived woman and are nevertheless interested in partnering with women. But then, the more “graspable” happens too (a change to “man” for this).

    A reason we need to be aware is that the obliteration of boy and girl [still acknowledging there are also physical hermaphrodites at birth and eunuchs for various reasons] … obliteration as real meanings is, in my view, ridiculous as well as worse than homosexuality. Also, I agree with those who say terms like sexual orientation and homosexuality (used by people who want to call attention to the Bible) distort what the Bible says — both in the sense of the physical prohibition and in the sense of the deeper heart issues that society grapples with or ignores, as do individuals (grapple or ignore).

    I’m curious, before I close this particular post. Are you meaning to imply that a physical hermaphrodite (born such) should either pretend to be either a boy or a girl or get surgery (also sort of pretending unless to correct a discomfort or dysfunction) because God didn’t create that person, God only creates male and female?

    I want the generations after me to be able to know what they’re getting and take on consciously the responsibilities for whatever they do. A man who intends to marry a woman should be able to know this person was always a woman (or in other words is in fact a woman) or not. A woman who doesn’t want to be with a man or hermaphrodite shouldn’t have to deal with someone demanding to be viewed (and IDed, such as on a driver’s license) as a woman.

    1. @Marleen — I was saying that a hermaphrodite suffers a birth defect but was actually “created” with a genetic profile that is either male or female, and that corrective surgery and psychological therapy should correspond with that profile. There are some extremely rare cases of genetic defects with doubled chromosomes such as XXY or XYY, often coupled with severe mental and emotional deficits, and I cannot generalize about prescriptions to resolve their conditions. In these cases, we have a theological consideration that is similar to that for other birth defects and consequences of a damaged world in need of repair, and which is beyond the scope of the present discussion.

  27. James,

    In response to your response to me. I don’t really see too much of a conflict on how to deal with a homosexual that claims to be a believer and a drug addict that claims to be a believer. You work with them IF THEY WANT A CURE. When they decide that they no longer want a cure because they don’t believe in the disease, you treat them just like a murderer, liar, adulterer, drunkard, etc… that does the same thing.

    Our response as believers towards sin and sinners is not supposed to be anthro-centric, but theo-centric. I would agree that ‘curing this’ has a very minimal chance. My point is… Since when has the belief in the true God of Israel and his Son ever been ‘popular’? If it’s not homosexuality, it’s sexual promiscuity. If not that, then it is drunkenness. If not drunkenness, then it’s lying. God tells us, through the scriptures, that when repentance is accomplished, something changes and the person that has been granted this gift of repentance begins to change. My point is this. I don’t believe that a gay person actually repented of being gay and if that has not been accomplished, of course, there will be no change of mind. Romans 12:1 pretty much tells you what the cure is for the disease. Change your mind by agreeing to his word. Btw… The disease is NOT homosexuality. The disease is SIN which INCLUDES, among other things, homosexuality as well. A person ‘given over’ to homosexuality is also given over into being thieves, liars, idolaters, adulterers and rebelliousness (Romans 1:18-32). The problem is, people refuse to believe that it is man’s NATURAL inclination to rebel against God. That is why anyone given over to any sin feels that they are ‘ok’ and it feels ‘natural’ to them. Because, in their fallen state and without spiritual regeneration, it is natural to them. That’s the main problem. IMO

    1. @Raul — Regarding the “natural” inclination of humans, it is less a matter of conscious rebellion against HaShem than it is one of selfishness that is hardly even aware of HaShem. Thus also with homosexuality, perhaps it may be viewed as a somewhat extreme example of pursuing self-centered desire. Of course, the selfish response when confronted with HaShem’s expectations can easily expand into deliberate rebellion.

      1. Completely agree there. Self centeredness (which is natural) is, I believe, the beginning of the rise of the human condition of sin. Even a baby without self conscious thought has ‘self centeredness’ (the desire and, considering their limited ability to communicate, need to have their desires fulfilled) as their natural response to what occurs outside of them. I think all sin, inclusively but not limited to homosexuality, stems from this same problem.

  28. In the latest Messiah Journal (issue 117), David Hall says in his article – “Homosexuality and the Torah”:

    “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 G-d has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matt.19:2-6)

    Male and female created in the image of G-d make visible G-d’s invisable characteristics. If “G-d is Spirit” and if “G-d created man in His own image, in the image of G-d He created him’, then mankind’s spirit is in the image of G-d. But G-d also created matter and called it “very good,” whichi we see as the verse continues: ‘Male and female He created them.” Spirit and body are united as one, not separated – “spirit trapped in the shell of body” as in Platonic-influenced philosophies, Gnostic dualism, or common parlance.

    HaShem is righteous and holy: who He is does not differ from what He does. His ordered being is the foundation for Scripture’s call to “be holy.” “Sin is violation of Torah.” Sin results from humans’ disordered being, acting, and relating, causing our disbelief, doubt, fear, pain, anger, rebellion, and addiction. G-d’s intended order in His creation is trust, confidence in love, health, compassion, obedience, and blessing. Being male or female was to inform it all. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks says that the Torah ‘does not condemn a homosexual disposition, because the Torah does not speak about what we are, but about what we do.’ Yet as George Robinson writes,

    “Human beings are a unity of mind, body, and soul, what Rabbi Eliezer Berkowitz calls a ‘biophysic’ entity… If mind, body, and soul are one, created in the image of G-d, then it is imperative that one follow a sexual ethic that places a premium on certain forms of ‘modesty’ and ‘purity’, because what you do with your body reflects and inflects what is in your mind. If mind, body, and soul are one, then there is intergral relationship between what we think of as worship, ethics, and social action. – (George Robinson, Essential Judaism: A complete guide to beligs, customs and rituals)

    Messianic Judaism’s genius already affirms this idea in embracing Shabbat. We physically keep the Shabbat, not, as in Christian thinking, simply spiritually. In the observance of the Shabbat, the spiritual and the physical are united. Likewise, sexuality and sexual identity cannot be divorced from the body.

  29. (Matt. 19:2-6) is about casting off wives, not directly about homosexuality. It can also be said to be about casting away a woman who has been deemed desirable enough to have sex with even if one has not honored her with a ceremony or public acknowledgment. Now, maybe the rush to use the excerpt as a homosexuality proof is that the men present subsequently wonder why in blue blazes they would ever take a female if they aren’t blessed in throwing her out.

  30. @Marleen: Generally the only time surgery comes up is in relation to transgender individuals and often, not even then. It doesn’t really fit the discussion of gays and lesbians in the church/synagogue who believe there is not Biblical prohibition (and thus no objection by God) to being a believer and being gay.

    @Raul: The difference, at least as I understand it from reading the Michaelson book, is that on some level, a drug addict, an alcoholic, a guy using porn, and so on, knows they are sinning and knows they need to stop. They know that their behavior runs contrary to the wishes of God. They gay people being referenced here do not see their behavior as sinful because they see their behavior as stemming from a wholly inborn trait, much like eye color or being left or right handed. Sexuality, from their perspective, is a matter of diversity among humanity, just as their is diversity in skin tone or hair color. So, again from their point of view, it doesn’t mean sense for God and thus the Bible, to blame them for a quality they see themselves as born with and something they can’t control. After all, no one can change their own eye color (short of putting in colored contact lenses, but then that’s a “disguise” much like a gay person being “in the closet”).

    Your response then, “treat them just like a murderer, liar, drunkard, pretty much mirrors the opinion of Pastor John MacArthur who advises parents of gay kids to “alienate them, separate them, isolate them, refuse to have a meal with them, turn them over to Satan.” I’m not really crazy about that idea because it closes the door to being any sort of positive influence over your child’s life. In the past I’ve thought about what I would do if one of my kids came out as gay (none of them have, but two of my son’s friends have), and I finally concluded that I would not end my relationship with them. MacArthur can do what he wants. As far as what homosexuality is, I don’t know for sure. I do know that the LGBTQ perspective seems totally at odds with the reality of the Bible so frankly, up to this point, I don’t know what to do about gays in the church. That’s why I’m reading and writing…in an attempt to clarify the issue and take a fresh look at Jewish and Christian tradition which as I’ve found out, isn’t always the same as “fact” and “truth”.

    @Rey: I hope to read it when I get it in the mail. Sounds like it comes at the right time.

    @Everyone: I keep coming back to the Prager article that I mentioned (and provided the link to) above. It seems that without the influence of God, people are capable of just about anything. In a society and culture strongly influenced by the Bible, people’s sexual desires are channeled such that they produce monogamous, opposite-sex, long-term (hopefully life long) relationships. One way of looking at this is that as western culture has become more permissive and “progressive,” the social boundaries around sexuality have loosened such that we see an increase, not only in homosexuality, both in the general population and in the community of faith, but all manner of variations of sexual and gender expression including “gender fluidity,” which creates multiple sexual/gender identities across a wide scale that is very difficult to grasp if you live outside of that mindset.

    A subculture has been developed and has been growing over the past several decades and now its influence has reached a tipping point such that it can demand and is receiving the role of “normalcy” in our culture. Cultural values have shifted such that any resistance to this normalcy is perceived and acted upon as social deviancy, so the church rather than the LGBTQ community is seen as the outsider. The desired result from the LGBTQ point of view is to influence, direct, force all social institutions, including religious institutions, to accept them as normal variants of natural and even God-sanctioned humanity. That’s one way of looking at it.

    But looking at a gay person as an individual, as a human being, as a person who really, really experiences themselves as naturally attracted to same sex partners, someone who has always had this trait, this quality, this in-born nature…and who also is a person of deep faith who has been taught by the custodians of that faith institution (Pastors, teachers, and so on) that being gay is bad and a sin and that they are going to hell, puts that person through hell on earth. If we simply reject them, especially without trying to understand what they are going through (and that’s tough because a straight person will have a difficult time grasping such a different lived experience…kind of like a Swedish person trying to fully understand the lived experience of someone from the Congo), then we may be guilty of a grave injustice. Even if we continue to see homosexual sex as sinful, even if we equate a gay person to an alcoholic, tossing them under a bus changes nothing except keeps them away from us.

    I’ll continue for now to attempt to engage this conflict and paradox and live with the dynamic tension if, for no other reason, than to make every effort to determine if there’s anything I’ve missed in my understanding of God’s word that modifies how I see gays in the community of faith. I know which way I’m leaning but I since human lives are in the balance, I don’t want to be dismissive if there’s another way.

  31. laluque52 says:

    If not for the fact that homosexuality is prevalent in Western Society today, there would be little controversy about this Torah sin. It is clearly forbidden and never condoned anywhere in the Torah.

    And why is homosexuality prevalent in western society? Why is it becoming more prevalent? And why is it becoming more accepted and acceptable across wider sections of western society?

    See Romans 1.
    The increase of homosexuality and the increase acceptance of it are results of God’s Judgement – He has given Western society over to the lusts of their hearts.

    James said:

    They gay people being referenced here do not see their behavior as sinful because they see their behavior as stemming from a wholly inborn trait, much like eye color or being left or right handed.

    Romans 7 “if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.”

    They will never see their behaviour as sinful if God’s standard continues to be ignored and twisted to accommodate their feelings, to prevent them recognising GOD’s view of the issue. As society (and it seems even many professing Christians) become more accepting of homosexuality the less homosexuals will see their behaviour as sinful and will be less willing to be freed from their sin.

    1. Well, that’s one way to look at it, and certainly it could even be true, but it requires dismissing any given gay person as a “type” and as a “sin” rather than a human being. What motivation does anyone have to repent of their sins if Christians as the keepers of the keys to Heaven, point accusing fingers at those we disdain and cry out “unclean”? Would it violate some Biblical commandment to relate to a gay person as a person rather than a thing?

      1. Murderers are human beings too – but should we be accepting of their murdering in case we alienate them and remove their motivation to repent?

        Why should homosexuality be treated any differently from any other sin? Maybe we should also look at ways to welcome unrepentant murderers, thieves, rapists, paedophiles (who also probably claim they were been born with their particular “sexual orientation”) without addressing their sin?

        What motivation IS there to repent if there’s no understanding that repentance is required?

        And who said anything about disdaining sinners?

        It is far more disdainful to accomodate their sin and leave them to continue ignorantly on a path to eternal damnation.

  32. As long as [multiplex] gender identity and “homosexuality” (as if this is in the Bible) are part of the discussion, I think what I have brought into the discussion is relevant. But if you want to narrow it to people who think they are born with an inescapable desire for the same sex as sexually active people, I think you are narrowing it even more than down to homosexuals. There are a lot of women who know they weren’t born that way and a lot of men who either know or aren’t sure about such an origin. Anyway, whether they perceive their (the embraced lives of people who know clearly, along with their chromosomes, whether they are male or female) current relationship or want for one as an expression of something inborn or not, I agree with you that a committed and monogomous relationship is different from the kinds of behaviours seen in Roman uses of slaves (male or female) or minors or prostitutes, brute males doing as they wished wherever they would go, or some other examples, as well as different from the age inequities and intrigue and incest of Egypt, plus the legacy of rape, abuse, temples, prostitution, neglect and slavery, in many cultures.

    I also want to point out, just as a restatement from observing what has been said by a number of people, we have views that men would have sex with anything and naturally have to be restrained. Then we have views that what is natural is heterosexuality. I would go further — heterosexuality (even monogamous) isn’t sufficient. And even as it has been said that Judaism gave the world monogamy (when, instead, it condoned polygyny but evolved to monogamy), we should see that (married) women can be treated by men in ways of shameful burning passion and “orientation” no better than”Q” or queer. [As a matter of fact, many of the “purity” youth are into things like this. They say they are effectively virgins or starting over as virgins. Hah!]

  33. Would it violate some Biblical commandment to relate to a gay person as a person rather than a thing?

    I agree with your leaning here! But people want to cry…”unclean” at a consequence that isn’t them (or that they yell with all their gumption isn’t them because, see, they yell).

  34. What Does God Want From Gay People?

    Exactly the same that He wants from any sinners.
    He wants them to repent and believe in His Son (an on-going active belief, not a onetime profession of belief).

  35. Onesimus said:

    Murderers are human beings too – but should we be accepting of their murdering in case we alienate them and remove their motivation to repent?

    Wow. Sexual orientation vs. capital crime. I guess I understand your viewpoint about gay people. Thanks for stopping by.

    @Marleen: The overall point I’m trying to make is that regardless of our stance on gays in the church/synagogue, it doesn’t justify “demonizing” them as if their behavior were some super, secret, special sin that is different than any other sin. The other thing I think it’s important to understand is the tremendous struggle and even risk a gay person has in being in the community of faith. If some of the responses I’ve read here are any indication, gay people have a lot to be afraid of when dealing with some “Christians.”

    Now imagine that you are in your place of worship having this conversation with a group of friends or in a Bible study. The assumption is that everyone their is a “good Christian” which means, among other things, that they’re all straight. If this conversation were happening in a face-to-face venue instead of online, what if one of those supposed “straight” Christians were an “in the closet” gay person? How would he or she feel hearing us talk? Would she trust any of us to tell about his/her “secret” or just feel further isolated from the faith community and God?

    You can disagree with someone and still show them compassion, but I get the feeling some Christians would have more empathy for a bank robber or embezzler in the congregation than a gay person.

    1. James said:

      Wow. Sexual orientation vs. capital crime. I guess I understand your viewpoint about gay people. Thanks for stopping by.

      Just what are you basing your beliefs on James? A combination of man’s laws, pop psychology and cultural flexibility?

      Where does God and what HE says fit into your point of view?

    2. James said:

      it doesn’t justify “demonizing” them as if their behavior were some super, secret, special sin

      And neither is it “some super, secret, special sin” that needs to be tolerated and accepted more than any other sin.

      Romans 1: For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

      Contrary to nature what does that mean?
      Giving up or exchanging natural relations?
      Shameless acts?

      From that, what can we understand about the scriptural viewpoint of homosexuality?

  36. Absolutely. Embezzlers can even be their heros. And I think the people who believe men burning with desire for each other [or men burning with queer passion for women] is itself a result or judgment should consider with more gravity and practical application what precedes (at least theoretically). Most people know that what an overwhelming number among the parents of “purity” youth are most concerned with is pregnancy, money, and keeping up appearances. This is like to what most married couples themselves (including Christian), not only in regard to their young people, have become adherents of — appearances, money, and pregnancy (and resentment on the part of many). The “conservative” culture is obsessed with money and pride in themselves. Whole cultures need therapy or chastising or discipleship such that women being women aren’t losers. A lot of good it does to talk a big game of apple pie and tradition and then leave bearers of children (or impregnated counterparts of romps) in the dust.

    But let’s keep our religion in politics because we’re convinced the land is going to vomit us out of America (or whatever, maybe NATO) if we don’t argue vehemently for the guy who weaves stories about the Appalachian Trail or the one who garners votes by saying he’s against abortion and then puts the heat on his extramarital girlfriend to abort the consequence. And no you can’t have birth control, but your children are mongrels. Rape? I don’t know what from rape. You know women and hysterics. What some women know is they’d rather have lesbian sex or no sex (in a same sex relationship) than queer sex, despised sex, and so on. We even seem to have assertions there shouldn’t be allowance for no sex or no marriage. Pointless people. Cold fish female not responding to whatever shows up.

  37. I’m going to make one more comment and then log off for the evening. Some of these comments, especially those made by Onesimus, remind me of the following:

    “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

    Matthew 23:37-39

    Jesus (Yeshua) lamented over Jerusalem and her failure to repent from the sin of baseless hatred which eventually would lead to the destruction of the Temple and the Holy City and the exile of the Jews from their Land for nearly two-thousand years. But he didn’t hate or condemn them, he mourned over the city and his people. He longed for the day when they would repent so they could see his face again.

    He didn’t point fingers, shun, reject, or dehumanize them.

    For most of the Church’s history, Christians have dehumanized Jews. It’s easy to hate someone when you don’t think of them as a person, don’t have to relate to them as a flesh and blood human being with the same hopes, fears, and loves that you have. Once you do, it’s a whole other ballgame.

    It’s why abortion rights people call an unborn baby a fetus…because it doesn’t sound human. It’s why in war, you always dehumanize the enemy soldiers so they are easier to kill, so you can train an army to kill the other army when a group of guys would never dream of killing another group of guys from another country.

    The core of Christian posturing and self-righteousness in relation to gay people is that they aren’t quite human. They’re gay, they’re not people like “us”. I’ve never seen Christians react to any other kind of sin or sinner as they do to homosexuality. Is this about defending God’s justice or just venting our spleen because gay sex is “icky”?

    God help every gay person everywhere to see His face and do His will, and God have mercy on the rest of us for judging what we don’t understand.

    Good night.

    1. James aid:

      I’ve never seen Christians react to any other kind of sin or sinner as they do to homosexuality.

      That’s right James – homosexuality seems to be singled out like no other sin and viewed with more condemnation than any other sin by people who are no less guilty of different but equally condemnable sins.
      But the answer to that is NOT to give homosexuality a free pass as if homosexual sin can be treated more lightly as if it doesn’t really matter – as if God turns a blind eye to it.

      ALL sin leads to death and it does no one any favour to pretend that their sin doesn’t really count (in case we offend them).

      AGAIN, what does scripture reveal about how GOD sees homosexuality? Does scripture show that he’s more tolerant of it than other sin?
      Does scripture show that God considers that some merely have a natural homosexual orientation and therefore can be excused for being the way “God made them”?

      God help every gay person everywhere to see His face and do His will, and God have mercy on the rest of us for judging what we don’t understand.

      Amen to the first part.
      As for the bit about “judging what we don’t understand” – It is to GOD we need to turn to get that understanding, NOT culturally conditioned sentiment and public opinion

    2. james said:

      For most of the Church’s history, Christians have dehumanized Jews.

      I wonder why the term “strawman” comes to mind?

      Yes, “christians” have done terrible things throughout church history – ALL of which were clearly contrary to the teaching and ministry of Jesus, proving they were NOT His followers.

      Likewise today, many who profess to be christians demonise homosexuals and give the impression that homosexuality is the unforgivable sin (while their own sins are considered minor in comparison).

      But the reality is NO sin is minor.

      Many times I’ve spoken up against the idea that homosexuality is somehow a especially condemnable sin and that the church needs to continually hound homosexuals waving signs like “God hates fags”. And yet now I feel I’m being counted among those hypocrites because I’m saying homosexuality doesn’t have some kind of immunity from God’s judgement – that the excuses being presented (with terms like “sexual orientation”, “it’s the way God made me” or “genetic disposition”) aren’t valid.

      Homosexual practice is no worse than any other sin – but it is STILL sin and it leads to the same end as other sin.
      Letting homosexuals live in a fantasy world where they see their sin as acceptable to God is NOT demonstrating God’s love towards them.

  38. There ARE sins that should be treated differently from others. No, a person in a monogamous homosexual situation is not in the category of pedophile, murderer, man having relations with his father’s wife or girlfriend’s mother, etc., or animal, or as a rapist.

  39. Take note. In a circle of Christians, it would be possible for every one of the heterosexual couples to be doing what is unnatural and for the outcast gay couple to be the exception. But the assumptions would be opposite. And those assumptions would be conclusions.

  40. James, Amen and Amen to your prayer.

    I do not want the un-straight person to miss out on G-d, but I am sick of the pandering that is going on when the LGBTQ people want something, and thus make noise. Homosexuality will not keep Abba from loving any of us sinners down here, and Yeshua took those abominable sins on Himself when He died for us. Yeshua does love the LGBTQ crowd, perhaps even more than He loves those walking in the narrow path…perhaps they need it more. Certainly it takes a lot of love to overcome an aversion to a specific sin, but fortunately Yeshua was G-d and man, and thus able to be more compassionate than we Believers are.

    Loving G-d and loving others before oneself does not mean that we must tolerate sin being thrown in our face. Love is an action word, not a feeling…it means to do obedience to G-d, and to do good actions towards those you interact with, to put their needs as high as your own…not in place of your own. Abba wants us to love ourselves as much as we love others, and accepting every action in the world as necessary to please G-d actually goes against our obedience to G-d…to put Him first, and what He wants for us.

    According to Yeshua and to the commandments He told us to follow, we are not to accept evil as the price for being comfortable. People that love God, and obey Him will be hated, even as they hated Yeshua, but being hated should not stop us from doing right. Certainly we can speak and act gently where possible, but gentleness still has to be very firmly kept.

    Always being kind and tolerant of evils is very un-Yeshua-like…Yeshua used harsh words to the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees, and whipped the Bankers out of the Temple.

    We Believers in Yeshua must be prepared to stand up for what G-d has told us to do…to hate the sin, and love the sinner. So we must speak against the sins, and not against the people…that is all. We do not have to even pretend to understand what drives the GLBTQ community in this evil time. It’s an evil time, and the Adversary is working overtime.

    Inviting homosexuals to a church is right…telling them that homosexuality is okay with G-d is not. If they have lust, let them stomp on it as all single people must do, and let them not pursue their lusts. Not easy, but straight people deal with the problem of lust all the time, however imperfectly.

    Sha’ul said that if you burn with lust, marry, and be comforted by your opposite sex spouse. We know it was opposite sex marriage only, because marriage never included same sex unions until 4-1-2001, in the Netherlands. A civil law got changed, but G-d did not change, and neither did His teachings.

    So, if the one you love is not of the opposite sex, your love will have to be satisfied with chastity, or be married to a member of the opposite sex. Marrying a same sex partner has not yet been approved by G-d, despite His great love for humans.

    Agonizing about being gentle and understanding to those offending G-d should not worry us all that much, nor should we be all that concerned about why G-d thinks homosexuality is an abomination. Sodomy is named after one of two cities that G-d destroyed. Isn’t that enough of an answer to most questions about Homosexuality?

    And yet, we should remember to pray for those so tormented by their flesh, and you did. G-d bless you for remembering that small kindness.

  41. Onesimus said:

    But the answer to that is NOT to give homosexuality a free pass as if homosexual sin can be treated more lightly as if it doesn’t really matter – as if God turns a blind eye to it.

    I never suggested giving any sin “a pass.” I did say couple of things I think everyone has missed.

    One: Since my studies of the Bible have turned up problems with the traditional Christian interpretation of the covenant relationship of Israel with God, including continued Jewish obligation to the Torah of Moses, I’m willing to consider the possibility that Christian and Jewish tradition may also be wrong about their views of homosexuality based on six short portions of scripture in the Bible. Of course, the burden of proof is on those who suggest that the Bible at least permits if not endorses “loving same-sex relationships” within the ekklesia of Messiah, and so far, I haven’t seen any compelling evidence of this (but I’m still reading the Michaelson book).

    Two: I’m suggesting that even if we believe that homosexual sex is a sin and totally incompatible with participating in the community of faith, that we treat the gay people in our community (whether in our religious community or our municipal community) the same as we’d treat anyone else. Frankly, we’re all sinners to one degree or the other, and I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of Christians who struggle with their specific sins, some of whom may not find it easy to repent and some of whom have yet to repent of everything they’d done wrong. My guess is that if I’d posted a blog on any other sin that exists in the Church, I wouldn’t have received as much response as I have and certainly not as much negative “blowback”.

    Jesus was upfront about confronting sin, but he wasn’t a “hater”. He lamented over Jerusalem rather than condemn his people. He longed for them to repent. I don’t know if he really understood what it was to sin, since he never did, but he knew what it was like to be tempted (and it’s not temptation unless there’s a real possibility you’ll fail). All I’m suggesting is that we try to understand what it’s like from the other side of the fence. Even of you think your sheets are white as snow and you’ve never done anything deserving of God’s condemnation, try to experience that sense of self-loathing a lot of gays in the Church feel. You may continue to tell them that they are not welcome in your homes and churches unless they repent (which is problematic at best), but try at least a little to remember that they are human beings too, not some kind of alien from another planet.

    This has gone on long enough and I don’t want to start another round of rebuttals and negative commentary so I’m closing the comments here (it’s sad that I’ve been having to do that more frequently lately). I’ll continue to read the Michaelson book and either published one comprehensive review after I finish it, or a couple of “sub-reviews” as certain sections of the book inspire me.

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