Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Listening To The Other Side


Dear Friends,

Let’s look today at the difficult topic that’s dividing the church and causing the rapid decline of many mainline denominations. The Apostle Paul called homosexuality a sin. Or did he? Conservative Evangelical churches teach that the Bible condemns homosexuality as sin. But progressive liberal churches teach that Paul never considered same-sex relationships to be a sin and teach that nothing in the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships. They explain that Romans 1:24-32 only condemns those who have sex in idolatrous temples. They also teach that the words Paul uses translated into “homosexual” or “sodomite,” in 1 Cor 6:9-10 and 1 Tim 1:9-10, have nothing to do with loving same-sex relationships. What should we believe? Does the Bible condemn it or not?  

I admit to being a traditionalist in my personal beliefs when it comes to the issues of “marriage” and to what the Bible calls “sexual immorality,” but I was thinking lately that I may be too narrow-minded if my beliefs are based solely on the interpretations of conservative Bible scholars. So I decided that I would see what I could learn from the teachings of respected gay and lesbian Bible scholars. And now, as a conservative pastor, I’m going to do the unthinkable. I’m going to invite all my liberal and conservative friends to form (or reform) their theology based on the teachings of these learned Bible scholars who are all strong advocates for the gay agenda. Most of whom I quote are self-identified as gay or lesbian and all consider themselves to be liberal theologians. Let’s listen to them and learn from them...

Pim Pronk. Gay. Biologist. Ethicist. Liberal Theologian. Author of Against Nature? 
“To sum up: wherever homosexual intercourse is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned. The New Testament adds no arguments to those in the Old. Rejection (of homosexuality) is a foregone conclusion.. It is never condemned in isolation but always in association with other major sins: unchastity, violence, moral corruption and idolatry.”1

Bernadette Brooten. Lesbian. New Testament Scholar and Professor. Author of Love Between Women. 
“I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism as the unnatural acts of people who had turned away from God.” 2

Louis Crompton. Gay Scholar. Principal Founder of Gay Rights Movement.  Author of Homosexuality and Civilization. 
“According to (one) interpretation, Paul’s words were not directed at “bona fide” homosexuals in committed relationships. But such a reading, however well-intentioned, seems strained and unhistorical. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any other Jew or early Christian.” 3
Walter Wink. Progressive Liberal Theologian. Bible Scholar. LGBT Activist. 
“The Bible is negative toward same-sex behavior and there is no getting around it. Paul wouldn’t accept a (homosexual) relationship for a minute.” 4

Dan O. Via. Liberal Bible Scholar, Professor and Gay Activist. Co-author of Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views. 
“Homosexual practice (in the Bible) is forbidden at all times.” “There is no reason however why this unequivocal position cannot be overridden if our current cultural considerations have sufficient strength, which I believe they do.” 5

In forming our belief about whether or not homosexuality is a sin, we should balance out this brief study with quotes from the GLBTQ Online Encyclopedia that calls itself “the world’s largest encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer culture.” Regarding the Bible it says: “The bad news from the Christian Bible is that it condemns same-sex desire and same-sex acts without qualification. This may seem less drastic when we recall that Paul outlawed all sex except between married couples.”  In reference to Romans 1:26-27, the GLBTQ Encyclopedia writes: “Paul broadened the prohibitions of the Hebrew Bible to include same-sex acts of women. Paul meant to condemn female homosexuality along with male.”

And how about the words translated in the Bible as “homosexuals?” The GLBTQ Encyclopedia states: “The meanings of these Greek nouns have been the subject of lively debates, largely provoked by gay authors anxious to show that Paul and the early church had not intended to condemn homosexuality..but recent scholarship has shown conclusively that the traditional meanings assigned to these words stand.”

That’s why progressive churches and politicians who support same-sex relationships and same-gender marriage agree that the Bible must be changed. A gay Bible scholar said, “No serious Bible scholar can deny that Scripture condemns homosexuality as a sin. That’s why we have to change the scriptures.” 

Luke Timothy Johnson. New Testament Scholar. Theologian. Gay Activist. 
“The Bible nowhere speaks positively or even neutrally about same-sex love.. The situation is straight-forward, we know what the text says. I think it’s important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of scripture and..declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. We appeal to a (higher) authority which is our own experience and the experience that thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that we must explicitly reject the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality.” 6

Gene Robinson. Gay. Episcopal Bishop. 
“Just to say that (homosexuality) goes against tradition and the teaching of the church and of scripture does not necessarily make it wrong.” 7 (This is one of my favorite quotes from the liberal church!)

To my liberal friends who tell me that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, I love you dearly but I continue to believe that it clearly does. And these respected, learned, pro-gay, liberal Bible scholars agree that it does. In fact, I’m even thinking that I need to start preaching the words of a gay atheist. After Ireland voted to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, Matthew Parris wrote: “As a gay atheist, I wanted to see the church oppose same-sex marriage..When have the spiritual leaders been called to follow the crowd? I thought they were to lead the crowd. Can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtue and vice? Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses that he’d better defer to Moloch worship because that’s what most of the Israelites wanted to do?” Referring to the vote, Parris wrote: “62% percent in a referendum does not cause a sin in God’s eyes to cease to be a sin.”8  I never thought that I would see the day when I would read the words of a gay atheist and say, “Yes and Amen!”

_____________________________

1 Pim Pronk: AGAINST NATURE? TYPES OF MORAL ARGUMENTS REGARDING HOMOSEXUALITY (Eerdmans, 1993)

2 Bernadette Brooten: LOVE BETWEEN WOMEN: EARLY CHRISTIAN RESPONSES TO FEMALE HOMOEROTICISM (University of Chicago Press, 1996)

3 Louis Crompton: HOMOSEXUALITY AND CIVILIZATION (Harvard University Press 2003)

4 Walter Wink: TO HELL WITH GAYS (Christian Century Review 119)

5 Dan O. Via and Robert A.J. Gagnon: HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE BIBLE: TWO VIEWS (Fortress Press 2003)

6 Luke Timothy Johnson: HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH (Commonwealth Magazine June 15, 2007)

7 Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson interview: LA TIMES 8/10/03

8 Matthew Parris blog: SPECTOR, May 7, 2015

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