Monday, December 04, 2006

My Two Cents Worth

"History is a voice forever sounding across the centuries the laws of right and wrong. Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity." ~ James A. Forude

It has been a while since I have blogsurfed to any degree, except for my daily visits to Lone Ranger's and Tug's blogs (and occasionally, ER's), but this morning, I stopped by over at EL's place. He has an interesting thread going on over there in his comments section about the decision of Rev. Rick Warren to allow Senator Barack Obama (D) Illinois to speak at his church about the worldwide AIDS epidemic.

I started to add my two cents to the discussion, but my two cents quickly multiplied to a much larger sum than I had originally intended to pay, so I decided to state my position over here at my place:

I wasn't in attendance at that particular conference on AIDS, but I am willing to bet that neither Rev. Warren nor Senator Obama mentioned the only sure way to prevent AIDS and indeed, eradicate it from the world.

Cease all homosexual sex worldwide. Just put an end to it. Now, that, of course, is impossible, but it is the only way to prevent AIDS positively.

Despite all the assertions coming mainly from the left that AIDS is not a "gay" disease, it most certainly is a disease affecting mostly those who actively engage in homosexual activities.

This is not to say that heterosexuals can't get AIDS as we know they indeed do, but in nearly every case when a heterosexual is diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, it is because somewhere down the line they, or someone who has donated blood, or someone who used the same needle for intravenous drug usage, have had intimate sexual contact with someone who has had sex with a homosexual.

It always starts with a particular homosexual act.

Does anyone know exactly how AIDS is contracted? It is contracted initially from the introduction of protein containing a certain unstable bacteria (or virus, if you will) into the rectum. Only after it is contracted anally, can it be introduced by other means.

With that in mind, if Obama did not call for the cessation of the homosexual act as the primary means to prevent AIDS, and if Rick Warren does not do the same, it can be arguably assumed that they have determined that Homosexuality is normal.

This acceptance of something that God tells us is an "abomination" is what is known as "moral relativism", which is a tenet of that new Godless religion called "Humanism". Those who continue to insist that homosexuality should be accepted as normal are called "moral relativists", meaning that they believe that what is moral is determined by the individual rather than by God.

This is regarded by most Bible believing Christians as "apostasy" .

Actually Muslims believe the same, but their method of dealing with it is decidedly more extreme.

If either of them welcome homosexuals into their church for any other reason than to bring them to repentance for the sin of homosexuality and to save them from that particular sin, but to welcome and support their dangerous, destructive, and sinful lifestyle, they are as wrong as those who practice this abomination.

Any church (and by church, I mean the members of a particular body of believers)that fails to condemn the sin of homosexuality is apostate, at least in that regard.

Churches are scripturally correct to encourage homosexuals to join and participate in their churches, but only as a means to reach them, and convict them of their sin, that they might find repentance and grace and turn from their sin and follow Christ into the eternal kingdom of God.

No where in the scriptures does God say, "Trust in Me, and continue to sin." Jesus did not tell the woman taken in adultery (which is something one must commit in order to perform a homosexual act, by the way), "Your sins are forgiven, now go and continue to sin." He said, "Go and sin no more."

How hard is that for you moral relativists to understand?

43 comments:

Mark said...

I know I'm judgemental, but who would you rather sit in judgement of you? Me or God?

By the way, the word "Judgement", in the Bible doesn't have the same meaning in the Bible as we ascribe to it today. "Judgement", in the Bible means punishment.

ELAshley said...

the Greek word for Judgment is

"Krima" -- A decision (the function or the effect, for or against ["crime"]): -avenge, condemned, condemnation, damnation, + go to law, judgment.

--from Stong's Hebrew and Greek dictionaries.


"Churches are scripturally correct to encourage homosexuals to join and participate in their churches, but only as a means to reach them, and convict them of their sin, that they might find repentance and grace and turn from their sin and follow Christ into the eternal kingdom of God."

And no matter how often I repeat this myself, my detractors all assume I'm an evil bastard consigning the poor homosexuals to hell, when in fact, it is their sin which consigns them to hell. But it doesn't have to end that way. As long as they draw breath, and retain cognitive function, there is hope for repentance.

Dan Trabue said...

This acceptance of something that God tells us is an "abomination" is what is known as "moral relativism"

Actually, that would be the case IF I thought the Bible taught that God says homosexuality is a sin and I said, "well, maybe not always."

However, for a great number of us, we DO take God's Word seriously, we have read the five-ish places that seem to be talking about homosexuality and we simply disagree that the Bible teaches that God considers homosexuality a sin.

It's not that we believe in relativism - I, for instance, believe that war, greed and rape are all sins unequivocally - but rather that we disagree with the notion that a loving, committed adult gay relationship is any more a sin than a loving, committed adult straight relationship.

Meaning, to be clear, that we believe that what is moral is NOT determined by the individual but rather, by God.

Just to clarify that mistake.

Now that I've clarified that mistake, you needn't repeat it, as that would be bearing false witness which would be a sin uneqivocally - unless you think that what is moral is determined by the individual rather than by God.

mom2 said...

Whew, I've been reading those same comments by Dan T. in so many places until I am dizzy. He doesn't get it and it will not matter how many people try to show him scripture that destroys his case.
I agree with your post in its entirety. It is a matter of "he that has ears, let him hear". This is not a situation of comparing sins against sins, because there is without a doubt some very serious consequences resulting from the homosexual lifestyle and there are a lot of dead young people that have proved it.

ELAshley said...

"we believe that what is moral is NOT determined by the individual but rather, by God."

And yet you disregard what God has to say about homosexuality in favor of your OWN belief. What hypocrisy! To accuse those of us who call the sin as God's word has called it, while YOU dance around the "Don't bear false witness" tree-- seemingly, your favorite pastime.

It appears YOU bear false witness against God by claiming His word doesn't say what it clearly says.

And I don't care how great a number you claim to believe otherwise; numbers do not make an issue right or true. In this case it only means that the verse describing the road to destruction as being broad with many following it, as utterly true.

God help you all!

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that it is your position to be judgemental, somewhere in the Bible it states Judge not-least you be Judged, if my Bible classes serve me well. Also, "Patient Zero" was indeed a homosexual, but to predict that the total eradiaction of AIDS can be achieved by homosexuals not having sex is well almost laughable. I find it hard to understand how a Christian who stands behind the Bible with such Moral convictions, fails to see that the duty of his or her Christianity is to love all unconditionaly as Jesus did. I guess I missed the Sunday School class where we were taught that the Bible say's to love all except the homosexuals.

Dan Trabue said...

"And yet you disregard what God has to say about homosexuality in favor of your OWN belief. What hypocrisy!"

I'm sorry you feel that way, El. I have read the Bible all my life, including the 33 years now that I've been a Christian. I take it seriously. I believe it to be God's Word.

And this long-time Christian that reads the Bible as God's Word and takes it seriously disagrees with you on this point. I don't disagree with God, I read God's Word and don't see it saying that homosexuality is wrong, but rather that committed, loving adult relationships are a good thing.

I'm sorry that it troubles you so that I disagree with you, but that's just the way it is. Perhaps you should pray about your position and read the Bible some more with an open heart.

Peace.

mom2 said...

It is not unloving to warn people of a destructive lifestyle. If as a mother, I let a child just do everything it decides to do (perhaps run into the street with lots of traffic) without warning or stopping it, how loving is that?
This is not the only sin that God warns about either, but it sure does bring out a lot of defenders.

ELAshley said...

JustSayin--

Where in Mark's post did he say we shouldn't love homosexuals? Can you love someone who's committed a crime? A family member perhaps? Just because a person, or group of persons suffer the penalty for a crime, and another someone points out the truth of it, doesn't mean the latter hates the former.

I would add however, that I believe it would take more than simply asking homosexuals to stop having sex. It would take everyone abstaining from sex until marriage, and THEN only after testing, AND complete and utter fidelity to ones mate.

Well, imagine that! Biblical principles actually have some relevance to today's issues!

As to your "Judge-not-lest-ye-be-judged" question, it's not surprising that you've missed its point-- millions do! So, might I suggest some light reading?

The Most Misused Verse in all of Scripture

Mark said...

Dan, you say you take the Bible seriously. Then you say you don't believe God ever condemned homosexuality.

How do you explain Leviticus 18:22 "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."?

Seems self explanatory to me, Dan.

Was God just kidding?

Dan Trabue said...

Mark, that is one of the handful of verses that looks like it may be talking about homosexuality. It's repeated in Leviticus 20, which goes on to say that men who lay with men should be put to death.

Leviticus also calls eating shrimp an abomination. It also calls for killing disrespectful children.

My point? We don't take each word of the Bible literally. Given that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality and it's not at all clear to me that any place in the Bible is talking about loving committed gay relationships and I'm just not convinced that God has anything at all to say against good gay love.

I agree that the Bible talks about the righteousness of fidelity, of commitment, and of the ill-effects of licentiousness and extramarital infidelities. But in an honest reading of the Bible with a heart open to God's voice, I don't think that it teaches God is opposed to committed gay relationships.

I know where you're coming from, because I used to think the same way. I no longer do. And it's not because I reject the lordship of Jesus or doubt the validity of God's Word.

It's just that I've looked at the Bible and come to a different conclusion than you have. Just as you have taken a look at the Bible and come to different conclusions than I have about war.

It's a disagreement. We should be able to have those without villifying the other, seems to me.

Mark said...

Looks like it's talking about homosexuality? Just exactly what do you think it means? I really can't see how it can be interpreted any other way. Enlighten us, Dan. What does that passage mean to you?

Jesus never said anything about homosexuality? How can you say you study the Bible and then deny that God and Jesus are one? You don't know that jesus Himself said He and the Father are one? Or do you choose to ignore that truth too?

If God said it, Jesus, being God, said it.

Dan Trabue said...

I don't think that anywhere in the Bible it condemns gay marriage, or committed gay relationships. Given what I know about God and how God works, as evidenced by the Bible, I think God generally enjoys seeing the Creation enjoying itself, living as it was made to be. That includes healthy committed sexual relationships.

Gleaning that as a Truth from the Bible, I'm confronted with a few verses that seem to suggest that God is condemning homosexuality (although it is never expressed as directly as that). So, rather than assume that all sex is wrong (I wouldn't think that about heterosexual sexuality - even though the Bible clearly condemns heterosexual acting out), so it seems to me that "men laying with men" must be talking about something else - sexual licentiousness between males, for instance.

Besides, as I said, it goes on to say "and kill them!" But neither I nor you think that we ought to take that literally. I just find that passage suspect as a guide for how we are to live.

Similarly, when polygamy and concubines are frequently mentioned in the Bible (even by "men after God's own heart") and not condemned, and yet I feel like it obvious that this is NOT an ideal sexual situation, I find such passages suspect and not suitable to be a guide for our behavior.

Do you think that we ought to practice polygamy as David did (after all, he was nowhere condemned by God for doing so)? Do you think that we ought to kill "men who lay with men" and disrespectful children?

No? You think that those ideals - commands even! - are not to be embraced? Me either.

I'm not trying to change your mind, Mark. I'm just saying that I used to believe as you did and now, I no longer do. And it's not because I disvalue God's Word - I strive to take its Truths quite literally - but rather that I simply disagree with your interpretation. Is that okay with you?

Mark said...

"I just find that passage suspect as a guide for how we are to live."

Well, Dan, at least you finally admitted that you think God doesn't always tell the truth.

After all, The Bible IS God's word, or do you disagree with that, too?

Mark said...

And by the way, you still haven't explained what you think that passage means. Except you say "sexual licentiousness between males". Just what in the world do you think makes a homosexual a homosexual, if not sexual licentiousness? The term defines the sin.

bent said...

I followed a link from EL's to here and I am amazed. Mark, You Are Wrong. There is absolutely no way that crimalizing or outlawing or banning or brainwashing away homosexuality would reduce the spread of AIDS. Your willful ignorance is infact one of the greatest contributing factors to its continual spread. Here are some truths that you don't want to know.

1. The AIDS infection rate in San Francisco has be decreasing for the past 15 years.

2. Most new infections in America happen among african americans (54%).

3. 75% of the new infections in women are heterosexually transmitted.

4. There are 14,000 new infections every day. 95% of those are in developing countries.

5. The UN says that by 2010 there will be 25,000,000 AIDS orphans.

You can say anything you want about the morality of homosexuality, but trying to link it with an epidemic that will kill 40 million people by 2025 is false witnessing.

Dan Trabue said...

"Just what in the world do you think makes a homosexual a homosexual, if not sexual licentiousness?"

I've many gay friends who are faithful to their spouses. Just as many of my straight friends are faithful to their spouses. They are not licentious.

"Licentious" means, "sexually unrestrained; lascivious; libertine; lewd"). They do not fit that description. They are married - many of them right in our church - and faithful to one another.

Dan Trabue said...

"And by the way, you still haven't explained what you think that passage means."

I think I did. I think it is talking about men who sleep around with other men. Sexually licentious. I'm opposed to that, thinking that it is not a healthy way to live.

I don't think it is talking about gay marriage.

Now that I've clarified that I did answer your question, perhaps you will answer mine: Do you think that we ought to practice polygamy as David did (after all, he was nowhere condemned by God for doing so)? Do you think that we ought to kill "men who lay with men" and disrespectful children?

OR do you "think that God doesn't always tell the truth" and that we ought NOT do as those passages say?

Come now, brother Mark. We can talk about this without misleading comments about what the other is saying.

ELAshley said...

Whatever AIDS is now, it initially spread rampant through the gay community. Was homosexuality the cause of AIDS? Not hardly, but homosexuality was the initial contributing factor in the spread of AIDS.

Criminalizing homosexuality will not stop the spread of AIDS now... far more drastic measures must be introduced, but these are measures the unbelieving world will not accept.

As to what is and is not kosher, there are three views we can take in regard to the dietary laws of Leviticus..

1-- These laws do have a reason, but it is not understood because the ultimate explanation is beyond the human intellect.

2-- The laws have some historical and/or dietary significance, such as preventing the consumption of unhealthy food, or differentiating oneself from non-Jews through dietary restrictions.

3-- These laws have no meaning other than to instill obedience.

All three are valid in that 1) it is impossible to know the entire mind of God in terms of the dietary laws he set down for Israel, but knowing what we know now about many of these foods (pork, shellfish, scaleless fish) it's reasonable to assume in regard to position 2) that these laws were set down for the general well-being of God's chosen people, and would all but guarantee good health. But in light of position 3) Obedience was the ultimate goal. God demanded this of His people because He wanted them healthy, strong, and able to possess the land He was going to give them-- just as soon as He weeded out all those who chose not to trust Him when He first tried to get them to possess the land He was giving them.

The book of Acts describes a vision Peter had, and while many take that vision to mean Christians are free to eat anything set before them, the vision was not, in fact, a revision of the Levitical dietary laws, but a statement about who can now find salvation. The Gentiles were now welcome because Jesus paid the price for their unclean-ness. But it is true that we can eat freely of whatever we wish. But we will pay the price for it if we do... in our bodies, at the cost of our good and continued health.

Do we kill people who eat fried shrimp or suck down raw oysters? Certainly not, but many who do eat these things get sick, and sometimes die.

This is also true of homosexuality. No ones going to stone you if you choose to give yourself sexually to a same-sex partner, but you will pay the price in terms of health... and eternal destination. God said as much.

Whatever Dan chooses to believe about the 'sanctity' of homosexual marriage. God is not in the business of blessing things that are ultimately profitless. Just look at the wicked servant who hid his talent in the earth. Again, the same is true with homosexuality... it is profitless. There is no hope of children with such a relationship. The commandment to be fruitful and multiply is quite effectively made impossible with such a relationship.

This argument over the curse or blessing of God on homosexuality is made moot by the fact that God expects obedience... Not just to the parts we 'think' are relevant and therefore applicable today, but all of the Law, with the understanding that abstaining from pork is not something that will save your soul, but rather, your health, and make you a profitable servant for the harvest.

Homesexuality is sinful. Destroying the temple of the Holy Spirit through an unhealthy diet is sinful-- and that one still weighs heavily on me.

We can't pick and choose what to accept and what not to accept. Since God changes not, His good and perfect purpose-- including our continued good health --hasn't changed either, be it our sexual appetite or literal appetite.

Dan Trabue said...

"Again, the same is true with homosexuality... it is profitless. There is no hope of children with such a relationship."

How cruel. Should childless straight couples get divorces? Do you think their marriages are "profitless"?

Marriage contributes much more to society than children. Besides, some of my gay married friends have adopted children, so their marriage is, according to you, profitable, so I reckon they're good to go.

"We can't pick and choose what to accept and what not to accept."

As far as the Bible goes, we HAVE to pick and choose what to accept and implement in our lives. If we didn't, we'd be killing disrespectful children, not wearing polyester, not patronizing banks, setting prisoners free every seven years and all manner of other things.

Some of these concepts may indeed be valid and we must weigh them prayerfully (the Jubilee Code would be a good set of rules for us to reconsider). But I guarantee that you, Mark and all of us do indeed pick and choose which concepts from the Bible to accept. You haven't killed any disrespectful children, I hope. You don't think that shrimp is an abomination, I'm sure. And you probably have little use for the Jubilee Laws.

It is dishonest to suggest that you are taking each passage from the Bible literally and I'm not. None of us are or should. The TRUTHS of the Bible, yes, please Lord, let us take those literally and seriously, but not each word.

Dan Trabue said...

"It's profitless..."

I wonder if you even understand what a cruel and hurtful thing that is to say? Are single people "profitless," in that they are producing no children for the betterment of the world? Nuns? Priests? Are these profitless?

Do you understand that saying something like that is hugely offensive to all folk without children?

Further, do you understand the concept of overpopulation? We don't need to keep reproducing at the rate we are. We need to slow our reproduction rate, not have more and more children.

Please be careful with your words, they have the power to heal and the power to kill.

mom2 said...

Dan's blather has just done me in. I guess I'm going to have to quit this computer. He works so hard to condone that which the Bible speaks against and then gets ridiculous to make a case out of something that matters not for a person with common sense.

Dan Trabue said...

mom2, I'm sorry you feel that way, too. I'm sorry that you are unwilling or unable to answer my questions, that you are unwilling or unable to think these things through without being "done in."

Merry Christmas and here's hoping for a happier new year for you, one in which I don't do you in. It is not my intent.

Dan Trabue said...

To give you a more complete answer, Mark, as to why I believe what I believe (although I think you've read this before), allow me to review the Biblical case against homosexuality.

Lev. 18 & 20 "men shall not lay with men"

Romans 1, "don't abandon natural relations"

And a couple of times in 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy and maybe one or two other places depending upon your translation.

The word in question in this last set is the greek word, "malakoi," (or so I'm told) which is literally translated as "soft." Not homosexual. Scholars are not in agreement upon the meaning of this word. That's why you'll find it translated as "effeminate," "homosexual offender," "homosexual" or some other translation.

There was a word for gay men and that word wasn't used.

That's not to say that those passages ISN'T condemning homosexuality, just that we aren't clear on what it is condemning.

That leaves us with Romans, in the New Testament, which says:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Now, as I've pointed out already, we always have to interpret the Bible. (Do we or do we not kill disrespectful children as the Bible commands? We have to weigh what the whole bible says and make our call on that, there's no place in the Bible that answers that question directly for us.)

Sometimes, in interpreting the Bible, we find passages that seem to conflict with other passages. Is shrimp an abomination as God tells us in Leviticus or is it a'ight, as Peter tells us in Acts?

In this Romans case, we are confronted with that same conflict: Do we encourage "that which is against nature" by encouraging gays to opt for the opposite gender, even though it's against their nature OR do we explain that away and assume that Paul was saying that homosexuality was wrong? It is an apparent conflict. You've decided on one side of that conflict, I've decided on the other.

But I am still believing the Bible and striving to rightly divide God's Word. I'm not abandoning the Bible at all, and this was my initial point - that at least some of those who are okay with gay marriage are okay not in spite of God's Word, but because of God's Word.

Disagree with us if you desire (after praying carefully upon the matter) but don't misrepresent us by suggesting that we are ignoring God's Word. I believed exactly as you do UNTIL I closely read God's Word and prayed about the matter.

Fair enough?

Erudite Redneck said...

Give it up, Dan. If you don't agree with these people, if you don't put the words in the Bible first, your own understanding second, and, then God, Himself, as inscrutable as He is, third, why, then you're not a Christian at all!

I think trying to bridge the gap, as laudable as it is, is a waste of time -- and I credit the 'Net for making that clear to me.

As wriong as I think they are, I do not doubt their sincereity, nor their faith, nor their salvation -- yet they not only doubt mine, and yours, but they deny it.

And that puts you and me, brother, in a real situation of casting pearls before swine.

(Possible exception for EL since he has regularly attacked my positions, but never attacked me.)

Jesus saves, y'all. LET HIM.

From Edward Fudge:

" ... an important truth: That truth is that we sinners cannot, through any amount of effort, obedience, good intentions or good works, ingratiate ourselves to God, place him in our debt, or create a situation which requires God to treat us well because of something we did first (Rom. 11:33-36). In this most elementary sense, we are set right with God on the basis of "grace only" -- both now and in the Day of Judgment (Gal. 2:21; Rom. 9:30--10:4; Phil. 3:7-9). If that is what you mean by "grace only," I affirm it with all my heart, plan to teach it as long as I live, and pray, if it came to such, that I would happily die for it as well. It is the mes sage of Scripture, the heart of the gospel, and the only hope for sinners anywhere."

But they dismiss this entirely. So, God help them all.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks, ER. And thanks to God for God's precious saving grace.

It's just that it's sort of a sad world one lives in if one must be correct on every sin in order to be saved. Such a person would live in eternal fear of, "What if I'm wrong on this point?? God damn me! (literally?)"

What a sad life.

Of course, I don't really think they think that, ER. And yet they do. They think it for me and you - that we're wrong on this account and damned - but not themselves, it would seem. Or maybe they're just that wise that they would never make a mistake, I don't know. Tis a confusing position.

mom2 said...

Speaking for myself, I believe Ephesians 2:8, 9, 10 for salvation. Ephesians chapters 4 and 5 are my beliefs about my walk.
ER, I think you are mischaracterizing what several of us believe. Disobedience will not cause a loss of salvation (if it truly occurred), but if we are truly His, He will chastise us. That is why we encourage a closer adherence to the Word and not to our own understanding.

Doulos Christou said...

Dan,

Reading your posts (and your interpretation of Scripture), I'm amazed at the mental gymnastics you're going through to justify clearly immoral behavior. Seems like the Bible is pretty clear on its face - Homosexuality is a sin and an abomination, whether we think so or not.

By the way Mark, I'd suggest addressing abstinence as well as homosexuality in stopping the spread of AIDS. Too obvious?

Thanks for an interesting post!

Dan Trabue said...

Doulos said:

"I'm amazed at the mental gymnastics you're going through to justify clearly immoral behavior."

I understand that it seems thusly to you, I'm just saying that it does not seem thusly to me.

I have the same feeling most times when I hear christians defending war or naked capitalism - that they must be doing mental gymnastics to get around the clear teachings of God's Word.

But the only point I was trying to raise was not to debate these issues, but rather that Christians can and do disagree on these matters. And that often when we do, it is not out of moral relativism - which was the point of Mark's post - but out of attempts at obedience.

Peace.

Dan Trabue said...

"Homosexuality is a sin and an abomination, whether we think so or not."

So was eating shrimp and pig until Peter pronounced doing so no longer an abomination. What was considered to be an abomination was no more! Huh?

What are we to make of that? I'd have thought that something either is an abomination before the Lord or it's not. It's not like God changes, is it?

Roger said...

Dan,

You said>So was eating shrimp and pig until Peter pronounced doing so no longer an abomination. What was considered to be an abomination was no more! Huh?

We talked about this specific issue last month, remember?

Here is the link...
http://www.thoughtquotient.com/2006/11/09/struggles-scars-hope-and-praise/#comments

And you even said that you understood and that you didn't necessarily disagree with it...

I said>“The OT rituals and cermonial laws (which includes diet, ceremonies, sabbath) are no longer necessary because of Christ!”

Dan said:>That’s an interesting and plausible explanation. One that I don’t necessarily disagree with.

??

Mark said...

Actually, the point of my post was if Obama and Rick Warren didn't speak out against homosexuality, their concern for the AIDS epidemic rings hollow because it is the original cause for the disease in the first place and the most common way in which it still spreads.

I will admit that I have no answer for the eating of pork and killing a disrespectful child, etc, except that I believe thoae things were probably appropriate and necessary for that particular time in history.

We have laws against killing another human (except pre-born infants) and eating some animals in OT times was unhealthy at the time, but isn't now. That would be my best answer to those questions. I realiize they may be less than adequate answers, but then, I'm not God. I do not know His reasoning.

But homosexuality was and still is a destructive lifestyle and is contray to nature and common sense. Practicing homosexuality is deadly now and it was deadly in OT times.

Hey, here's a thought:

Since God knows and sees all, maybe He saw the eventual consequences of homosexuality in the 20th century, and maybe that's why He said it is an abomination.

Only moral relativists presume they know more than God.

Roger said...

>Here is the link...
http://www.thoughtquotient.com/2006/11/09/struggles-s

Sorry, that link was too long and didn't print right.

Try this.

Dan Trabue said...

I'll just repeat for the last time here, Mark: It is a sin to bear false witness - and to do so against a brother in Christ is an especially poor idea.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to come to this so late, but I had a very busy December. Nevertheless, I wasn’t prepared to let this one go by without making my own comments on one of your most ill-informed postings.

A few minutes of googling will reveal the Federal Government’s statistics on HIV infections which show that while 65% of male infections are through male-to-male sexual contact, at least 30% are not. The figures for female infection don’t even list female-to-female sexual contact as a category, the proportion is so low. So your theory that the way to stop the disease is to stop gay sex is just plain wrong.

It’s also worth noting that the figures above relate to the USA only. The majority of people living with HIV are not in the USA, they actually live in Africa where, as far as I can ascertain there are no reliable statistics for method of transmission but I’d be prepared to put money on the main vector not being homosexuality.

Also, if you had gone looking for facts, you’d find out that the virus is not just transmissible through the rectum but that any of the mucous membranes (vagina, penis, mouth, eyes, nose) can pass the virus, as can intimate bodily fluids coming into contact with open wounds or sores. A mother can pass the infection to her child either in the womb or through breast milk. The fact is that a rectum doesn’t need to be involved at all.

(By the way, on a side issue, could you explain how my partner and I can be guilty of adultery when we make love, if neither of us has ever been married to a woman?)

You then take a pop at Moral Relativism. I think I am safe in assuming that you believe that Moral Absolutes come from the Christian God via the Bible?

Now don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot of good stuff in the bible, a lot of stuff that I and everyone I know are happy to live by – but only if you pick and choose what examples to follow. The morality demonstrated by God in the bible is not one that can be unconditionally recommended.

Let me give you some examples: In Genesis 19:8 Lot, the man whom God marks out as righteous, offers his virginal daughters to a mob to be gang-raped. Later (Genesis 19:30-38) those same daughters get their father drunk and rape him with the intent to get pregnant by him – and the bible doesn’t condemn them in any way. Let’s hear it for good, old-fashioned family values!

Joshua and the battle of Jericho are still sung about, but what is less well known is that the great general goes on to massacre not just the women and children of Jericho, but every living thing in the city (Joshua 6:21) before burning it to the ground (verse 24.) Nowadays that would be considered vicious ethnic cleansing, but the bible shows us that it’s okay by God! (Oh, my apologies, Joshua does allow one family to escape; the family of the prostitute who lied to protect Israelite spies. A lying prostitute? This is the Old Testament! Shouldn't she be burnt alive?)

Not only does God tacitly approve of this kind of killing, in many cases he goes out of his way to bring it about (See Deuteronomy 2:30-34 for an example.) Or a more familiar case; recall in Exodus that the Lord repeatedly ‘hardens Pharaoh’s heart’ so that he won’t release the Israelites from bondage but then goes on to send the plagues – including the death of every firstborn son – until he does. Is that not the very definition of sadism?? And to add insult to injury, as they leave, the Israelites plunder Egypt! (Exodus 12:36)

The New Testament is a better moral example (although since we are talking Absolutes here, surely it would be wrong to pick and choose! Surely we have to take the rough with the smooth or not at all?)

For example, you have to do quite a bit of intellectual fancy footwork to reconcile some of Christ’s statements with good moral values (Matthew 10:21 and 10:34-36, for example) and neither were all of his actions examples of good ‘Christian’ behaviour. In Matthew 15:22-28 Jesus refuses to heal the daughter of the Canaanite woman, calling her a dog, but relents after she grovels before him and compares herself to a dog beneath the (Jewish) master’s table.

And Saint Paul in his letters is well known for his intolerance. (I’m surprised actually Mark that you let women comment on your blog on religious matters when 1Timothy 2:12 clearly says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”)

So these are some of the moral absolutes demonstrated by the bible and if not actively encouraged then at least tacitly accepted by God in its pages; sadism, lying, treason, rape, incest, murder. I know that if I looked further I would find plenty more; slavery is common in its pages, polygamy too.

And down through the years, Christians have followed these examples; from suppression of the early heresies, through the crusades, Catholic versus Orthodox, the Holy Inquisition, Protestants versus Catholics in medieval Europe, the dispossession of the American aborigines in the name of fighting the Antichrist, witch hunts, the blind-eye turned by the Vatican to the Nazi death camps, the active co-operation of Catholic clergy in the Croatian death camps, more Protestants and Catholics killing each other in Northern Ireland…

Tell you what Mark, the next time you want to point a finger at someone and call them “abomination” pause for a moment and ask yourself which is worse; love between two men, which harms no-one, or the grief, suffering and death of millions upon millions of people over the last two millennia that has been caused in God’s name at the hands of devout, God-fearing Christians.

Now THAT is a real abomination!

Marshall Art said...

Oh, there's nothing I enjoy more than some self-righteous hedonist who uses the Bible to smear the faith. That statement might seem offensive but the condenscension from someone who thinks he has the wit to judge God and His actions seems the hight of arrogance and malice when doing so to criticize. Shame on you Liam for that.

Just a few more points there,

The mob was looking to engage in homosexual activity with Lot's visitors and the idea was so repulsive that offering the daughters was believed a better idea. That's how homosexuality was ranked.

Actually, to save time (it's quite late) Liam should remember that God is not human. Judging Him in human terms is folly. You know some Scripture but you've learned nothing about God or Christ. Could it be that you wouldn't care anyway as long as you can live as you please? May God have mercy on you.

For Dan,

You seem hung up on things like putting to death unruly kids. From your study, you should have by now realized that Old Testament law was meant for the tribes of Israel to separate them from the rest of the world and identify them as God's people, to teach them God's will and obedience to it, and, I suspect, to bust their chops for turning from Him after the exodus. But a major difference between the Testaments is how we atone for our sins. The wages of sin is death. Sacrifices to God and the pouring out on the altar the blood of the animal were thus required to purify the sinner. Yet, despite the sacrifices being pleasing to God, there was no perfect sacrifice before God sacrificed Himself in the form of Christ. So for the rest of us, or more precisely since the crucifixion and resurrection, accepting Christ as our Savior is the same as the sacrifices of old in it's absolving us of sin. Thus, the laws of the OT do not apply, but the behavioral do's and don'ts for which the punishments were mandated still do. Those have not changed at all. You don't stone the brat, but the kid still is to honor his parents. Also, committment isn't mentioned in any way except in terms of fidelity to one's spouse and marriage is never referred to as anything but the traditional understanding of the term. Historically, there was little in the way of moral law before the nation of Israel introduced it and from that time there wasn't a whole lot of homosexual activity amongst the Hebrews. So the terms you mentioned, and the supposed disagreements amongst scholars is largely a debate between those who look to understand the Bible first, and those who look to see if they can find justification for their desires and beliefs.

It's true that many use the Bible to justify all sorts of things. But understanding and striving to be true to the Biblical teachings does not lead to that. The same mindset that finds justification for homosexuality does. What one needs to know for sure is that the Biblical picture of sexual relations puts all of it in the same light as worshipping money or the self or false gods. It, outside of marriage, is impurity and a distraction from one's focus on God. Even within a marriage, it can be a problem for some in those terms.

But I'm beginning to ramble, so I shall simply wish you the best and continue your study. Liam, start studying.

Anonymous said...

Marshall, you’re right, I was on a very high horse the day I wrote that comment. However you are no better in your condescension and totally fail to address my point; the bible is nowhere near clear and unambiguous enough to be a Moral Absolute, which is what it is held up as by many people. You yourself admit that it can be invoked to justify just about anything and yet you still believe that, beyond doubt, it says homosexuality is wrong. The fact that there are so many devout Christians out there who would disagree with you simply reinforces what I’m saying; the meaning of the bible is not certain, so all Christian morality is ‘relative.’

Let me cite another example; adultery. If homosexuality is condemned in the bible then adultery is too and yet divorce and remarriage is both acceptable and common in our society. By biblical standards there are far more adulterous marriages than homosexuals, yet there is no huge outcry against them. Jesus did not relax any of the restrictions relating to marriage or adultery, in fact he tightened standards that had slipped amongst the Jews. How can any Christian preach one biblical prohibition while largely ignoring the other?

By the way, it is the study that you recommend for me that brought me to the points of view I hold today. The problem with religion is that it doesn’t depend on facts at all; it depends on people not questioning what they are told, not demanding proof before accepting something as true. Studying the bible with academic rigour is far more likely to highlight its inadequacies than it is to bring someone closer to belief in a god.

Marshall Art said...

Liam,

I've belatedly returned as I've wondered if you ever responded to my post. So in the even that you do as well, here I am.

"You yourself admit that it can be invoked to justify just about anything..."

Yes. It can be. But that doesn't mean that the Bible truly DOES justify those things. For example, the KKK bases their beliefs on one OT verse (which I can't recall at present), but when one reads the verse, even outside of context it doesn't justify what they do.

It can be difficult to distinguish between what is meant for us today and what was specific to the ancient Hebrews and for that, instruction will be helpful. This can be in a variety of forms, and frankly, it's good to have several.

But the ambiguity of which you speak isn't really there for today's Christians. If you challenge one who holds an opposing view to justify his position, you still have to battle the urge to buy into his position if it plays to your personal desires. Feelings and personal experience add to ambiguity rather than clarify the texts in question. I prefer to study about the Bible in addition to study of the Bible itself. How are the original manuscripts interpreted? Are the interpretations consistent with other usages in other parts of Bible? Why is one person interpreting one way and the other another?

Personally, I find continued reading of the Bible to be clarifying rather than confusing. The basic tenants of Christian teaching in regards to human behavior align well with OT tracts. The hang-ups come with peripheral areas such as methods of atonement, ritual and things of that nature.

To answer your point regarding divorce, much of what you say is true. But there is a provision for divorcing an unrepentant sinner. Plus, in civil society, like ours, it has been the same human desire to relax that which is difficult, such as honoring one's vows for the sake of indulging one's desires elsewhere, or any other reason, that is the source of your concern. Biblically, what is unforgivable? Nothing. If a spouse cheats, we're to forgive. It is the "holier" road to travel, but turning from it due to continued infidelity is not wrong, per se. It is better to turn the other cheek, but are we to allow ourselves to be continually beaten?
But in cases of today's brittle marital unions, no one seems to want to deal with the "worse" in "for better or..." And what of those who do divorce? As with any other sin, God's forgiveness is available.

So what facts are those with which you are concerned? Whether or not God exists? If there's any proof that anything in the Bible happened? Despite what facts do exist, you'll never have enough to leave no doubts. That's where faith comes in. But here's one fact for ya: in your studies, concentrate on finding truth instead of justification and you'll be far better off.

Liam said...

Marshall, you say “the [biblical] ambiguity of which you speak isn't really there for today's Christians,” but I have to disagree; the homosexuality about which Mark has such strong views in his original post is a case in point. In his mind (and the minds of many others) there is no doubt that homosexuality is an abomination; a sin of which gay men and women must be “convicted” and “brought to repentance.” Yet on the other hand you have the Episcopal Church electing an openly gay, sexually active bishop while elsewhere there are priests blessing gay unions. Both of these positions are put forward by people of faith, some of whom have no doubt studied the bible relentlessly and discussed it widely and yet they have come to different conclusions. How can you reconcile these two positions to say there is no ambiguity in the bible for Christians today?

Marshall Art said...

Liam,

This point is often brought up and the answer lies in the starting point of each side. One side starts from the point of Scripture's authority, and the other from personal experience (whether direct or from observation). An extreme example of the latter would be those "scholars" of the Jesus Seminar of a few years ago. They caused quite a stir but they constitute such a small and radical segment of Christian thought that they are not held up as "mainstream" by the Christian community as a whole. They did get lots of help from liberal media outlets who were more than happy to trumpet their conclusions since those conclusions had the effect of diluting Christian belief and teaching. On the topic of homosexuality and Christianity, there is a good book with a point/counterpoint angle, the sub-title of which is "Two Views". One of the views is by Robert Gagnon who takes, for lack of a better term, the anti-homosexual side. The other guy's name, I think, is Luria, though it's been a while since I've read it. But right from the get-go, Luria states his position comes from one of personal experience and feelings, which in my opinion, allows for far too much lattitude in Biblical interpretation. I must also say that in my youth, I was spurred toward Biblical study when a friend claimed there was no prohibitions for his whoring about as a single dude. It soon became obvious he was interpreting from the POV of HIS desires, rather than of a desire to comply with God's desires. I bring this up to point out that it is in this way that gays are just like straights. And I don't mean that as a dig, but rather as an objective observation. We all struggle with the pull of our personal demons. So to study the Bible from one's personal experience over the authority of Scripture generally will lead to a rather custom tailored understanding that doesn't really align with the Will of God. That's what the "Christians" you've presented have done.

BTW, keep in mind that it isn't the being that condemns but the doing that does. Otherwise we're all screwed.

Liam said...

Marshal,

I think the problem with relying on scriptural authority is that the bible isn’t reliable as an authority; it contains factual errors and internal contradictions, so people are forced to interpret what it says where it isn’t clear. Consequently the ‘Will of God’ does become a personal matter, as different people interpret in different directions.

By the way, in the example in the previous comment, I was referring to the Episcopalian/Anglican church; hardly a small or “radical segment of Christian thought.” :o)

Marshall Art said...

Actually, it is somewhat small, considering it isn't the entire Episcopal/Anglican body that is on board with the gay marriage thing. But be that as it may, one must view the entire Christian community as a whole and then determine what radical or fringe might be.

As to the authority and/or reliability of the Bible, the fact is that it is due to the miracle stories that it is given short shrift. But if the Book is given the same look as any other ancient text, particularly the New Testament, it has to be qualified as one of the MOST reliable in it's description of events. Conversely, if one can't give the Bible it's due, particularly considering all the manuscript, archeological, collaborative, etc, evidence that supports its credibility, then there is no ancient text that can be considered reliable. And we know that there are plenty of ancient sources with far fewer pieces of supportive evidence that are not questioned in any way. There are plenty of sources that can respond to charges of internal conflicts or fatual errors. Lee Stroebel's "The Case For Christ" gives a good overview of arguments, as does works by such apologists as Peter Kreeft. Personally, I find that the Will of God is pretty clear for how we should live our lives. Most of the uncertainty comes from things like atonement and ritual, such as whether one really needs to be Baptised. But I'm willing to entertain examples. But the point does revert back to my assertion that study of the Bible requires also study ABOUT the Bible and the times in which it was written, etc, etc, etc. Knockin' about such questions with different pastors and ministers helps as well.

Liam said...

Hello Marshal

Essentially my point is that, if the bible is to be held up as a Moral Absolute, it must be absolutely explicit and internally consistent so that there can never be any doubt about what is meant by any aspect of its contents. That patently is not so. The fact that you reiterate that much study and discussion is required to understand its messages simply reinforces that fact. If something is a clear statement then no discussion is required because the truth of the statement is both self-evident and stands up to detailed examination. It sounds to me like you are just proposing Moral Relativism by another name.

It isn’t helped by the split in the texts of the bible though; one section describing a vicious, jealous god who preaches racial supremacy, violence and punishment while the other section presents a pacifist god imploring mutual love, understanding and forgiveness. The contortions that the church goes to in attempting to reconcile the two are quite incredible when you look at them closely.

On the subject of its historical veracity you are quite correct that the bible is just one of a number of sources of information on the events of the times it recalls but I can’t agree with you that it is one of the 'most reliable.' The New Testament in particular refers to events in a fairly clear place and time which can be cross-checked with other sources, but frequently there is no clear agreement and often disagreement, meaning that there is no certainty, only probability, to be had – which again dilutes its claim to authority. The Old Testament is even harder to verify, although in some cases it’s possible, but that is even more bizarre as histories go.

If you want some examples to chew on here are a few from the New Testament:

OF the birth of Jesus, in the first chapter of the gospel of Luke we are told, “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.” Both Luke and Matthew place Jesus’ birth in the reign of King Herod the Great, however the consensus of historians is that Quirinius’ governorship of Syria began only after the reigns of the two King Herods and that the census took place around ten years after Herod the Great’s death. (Source here)

Matthew (1:1-17) gives the genealogy of Joseph from Abraham through the paternal line as consisting of forty generations (including both Abraham and Joseph in that count). Luke (3 27-38) gives the genealogy of Joseph all the way back to Adam in the paternal line, and lists fifty-five names from Abraham to Joseph (again, inclusive.) Many of the names do not coincide. Even if, through some contortions of regnal versus biological genealogy, both lists can be considered as correct (and can further explain away the four generations dropped by Matthew from the genealogy listed in 1 Chronicles 3:9-15!) it certainly doesn’t make for a clear, unambiguous ancestry of the step-father of God.

What about John 8:52, “whoever keeps my word will never see death” and John 11:25-6, “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”? (My emphasis.) Both of these statements are allegorical at best. They cannot be factually true or else we must assume that no-one has ever really believed in Jesus or followed his teachings because we do not see a growing band of immortals in the world today.

Matthew 27:51-53 records that upon Jesus’ death, “…The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” A truly miraculous event which is mentioned nowhere else in history. You would think the dead walking the city streets and presenting themselves to the population would be considered worthy of greater note!?

I think that’s enough to make my point that the bible cannot be considered wholly accurate. If we can’t be sure of the facts that do lend themselves to verification, it would be folly to take for granted the accuracy of the statements that we have no independent way of checking.

I won’t venture into the delights of the Old Testament, with its stories of the Creation and Noah’s flood – but if you’d like to argue for the historical veracity of those tales, I’d certainly be curious to hear your justifications. But again if any of the bible can be said to be no more than allegory, how can we be sure what other information in it is not meant to be taken literally? So we come back to Moral Relativism again.