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The "Homosexuality Issue" as a Litmus-Test of Orthodoxy

In the past generation, as I have been taking time to write about (see “What is Liberalism?“), there was a great heresy which crept into the church, called Modernity, or Liberalism. Although such people had denied the need and even possibility of Christ’s work having any saving effect on humanity (thus, they had denied the essence of Christianity), such persons not only remained in church leadership, but lead a successful campaign to overtake most of the major seminaries (e.g. Princeton) and denominations (e.g. United, Anglican). It is not to say that genuine Christians do not exist within these seminaries and denominations – but from the top down, it is not the gospel of Christinity, but a “new gospel” of human positivism which is being preached as normative. The old, old story of sin and wrath and atonement and grace and proselytization is suppressed.

In the great struggle of the 1920’s the historic Christians devised certain “litmus tests” of orthodoxy. The purpose was to force people to honesty, since a great number of the Modernists still claimed to be orthodox Christians, despite denying the essence of that religion. Thus, the tests of orthodoxy called the “five fundamentals” were formulated:

  • The inerrancy of the Bible
  • The literal nature of the Biblical accounts, especially regarding Christ’s miracles, and the Creation account in Genesis.
  • The Virgin Birth of Christ
  • The bodily resurrection of Christ
  • The substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross

These tests were effective in that they were able to draw clear lines of delineation and distinction between people who believed in historic Christianity, and those who did not. The great problem which J. Gresham Machen points out is that these tests began to be treated as though they were the center of Christianity. The center of Christianity is the recognition of sin, of Jesus’ work on the cross, and the decision to receive free grace and live a new life with God. Christians should never take their eyes off of these central tenets. However, the litmus tests (as I would prefer to think of them) were essential because they pointed out the heretics who denied facts which were essential to the gospel.

In our own day, the abuses of the five fundamentals are well known, which has weakened their effectiveness. This is evident, for example, in the fact that Rob Bell makes a brazen attack on one of the five, and a great number of young people say “what is wrong with that?”

In our day, however, the real issues are not the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection of Christ. We live in an individualistic, narcissistic, and hedonistic culture. The one great maxim of our society is “do what thou wilt, only that thou hurtest no-one” (note: this is the Wiccan motto). The student of history may be interested to know that we are approaching an age very similar to the one in which Christianity was born. The question, then is, “What role is the church to play in such a context?”

What is the purpose of the Church? Jesus said it clearly, “You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden…” It is to be the witness of our moral lives, and the genuine heart-transformation which Jesus brings which is to attract people to Christ. As Bruxy Cavey is apt to point out, Jesus often turns to His disciples when He preaches his major sermons, such as the Sermon on the Mount. What is the purpose of this? The rules of Christianity are for the Christians. Others may – and, indeed, often do – listen in. When Christianity is really genuine, it will often shame people into living better lives: however, we are never to force our ethics onto others who do not believe as we do. On this point, Paul is quite clear, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges,” (1 Cor. 12-13).

There is no doubt that Christians have sinned – and sinned greatly – in this regard. Christians have erroneously felt that it is the role of the faithful to dictate morality for all others. The worst, most grotesque expression of this is, as most people are aware, is Fred Phelps and his GodHatesFags.com. How such a man of vindiction and judgmentalism can call himself a Christian, I will never know.

Ashamed of examples such as these, many Christians have been shamed to silence on this issue, or have even denied that homosexuality is a sin, as though condoning sin is a kind thing to do for a sinner.

I do not believe that this is the right way to handle this issue. We are the salt of the world: but if salt has lost its flavor, what good is it? We are to be a moral compass – but what good is a compass which points one direction one moment, then shifts to another direction in the next? The “moral compass” of many churches seems to be more of a wind-sock- pushed and moved by the winds of change, more than pulled on by God’s unchanging word. Such a compass is broken – worse than useless, because it misleadingly claims to know truth.

Christianity is to be a moral guide – and we should not forget that as a moral guide, Christianity can be of some service to the human race. Society as a whole – and many weak Christians as well – are telling people to look within themselves for truth. But what is it that they find? Every heart is a mass of conflicting desires, of powerful urges, of lofty ideals, all mixed together and distorted by a very warped self-image. One may well chart a course by the feelings of the moment – but in the next moment, these feelings will change. They may, in fact, feel ashamed of the actions just committed – as though a stranger, and not them had done them – and wish to go in another direction entirely. Anyone who attempts to chart a life-course by looking inwards is bound to a life of confusion, despair and utter defeat.

It is precisely at this point that the Bible is of some use, even to those who do not follow the teachings of Jesus. On the exceedingly difficult topics of human sexuality, God sets out some concrete standards for right conduct. Within God’s plan, sexuality, as we all know, is to be within heterosexual marriages only.

For much of my life, this commandment was a burden to me. As a single man, I chafed against the injunction to celibacy outside of marriage. However, it gave me a direction in which to move. I was not one day pursuing immorality, the next day longing for monogamy. Rather, I had a steady course charted for me. Through the stormy seas of youthful passion, I knew at least which desires to encourage and which to squelch, and which direction I was heading for. Having now come to a less tempestuous time of life, I can in some ways look back on that time of my life and reflect. The people, I found, who were the most help to me were those who – like the Scriptures themselves – were absolutely firm in their convictions, and also in their love for me. People who waffled and bent and tried to make Scriptures accommodate to the wild desires of my flesh were no help at all, but rather a great snare to me.

From this experience I learned that being too nice to somebody who is struggling is not nice at all.

My experience with heterosexual desires greatly influences my thinking on homosexual desires – something of which I have no personal experience, although some close friends wrestled with significant homosexual urges. My belief is simple: if someone is not a Christian and a homosexual, I, as a Christian, need feel no compulsion to say anything. It is helpful to think of such people as in the same category as those who are living in fornication. Usually it is no great revelation to them that I do not agree with their life-style: what is helpful is for me to maintain friendships, so that they may see the person of Christ in my life. If, however, someone is a Christian and has homosexual urges, it is the duty of the Christian community to come around that person and present to them the firm moral compass of God’s word on this issue.

The Bible, as we all know, is perfectly clear on this topic:

1) God’s ideal is revealed in that He created male and female

2) God identifies homosexuality as a sin by giving it the death penalty (along with, for example, rebelling against one’s parents) in the Old Testament

3) God reveals that homosexuality is the result of sin in Romans 1

4) God concretely states that homosexuality is one of the sins (along with stealing, coveting, fornicating, etc.) for which people will be denied entry into heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

When a Christian person feels homosexual urges, then, they may know to put such urges in the same category as a heterosexual man puts lustful thoughts. These are feelings to be fought against, in the power of Christ. If these desires are affected by genetic factors, this does not really change anything (alcoholism, outbursts of rage, and other maladies of the soul are also affected by genetic factors): they are still to war against the flesh in the power of God.

It is very important that Christians – who often are so afraid of failure, they don’t even know what to do when somebody comes forward with something such as an addiction to porn – to not reject a person who is struggling. Although we cannot accept someone who is blatantly, unrepentantly continuing in any sin (the attitude of unrepentance is more important than the sin itself), we can and must welcome and accept any person who is struggling to live a holy life. We walk with such people, trying to understand them and help them – being gentle and compassionate, knowing that we ourselves struggle in many ways as well.

If such a person comes into a Christian church for help with their homosexual desires, however, they should not be shocked or surprised to find that the help which will be offered is help in resisting and overcoming these desires as sin, since this is how our holy book teaches us to think.

CONCLUSION

Considering that the witness of God’s word is so very clear, there are two questions which must be asked: first, what is the loving thing to say to someone who is struggling with homosexual urges? Is it loving to capitulate, to fail to serve as a moral compass, to turn that back rather to their own conflicted hearts, or to the shifting winds of culture for direction? Considering that (if one is to take 1 Cor. 6:9-10 literally) one may be dooming a soul to hell by not confronting their sin, tell me, what is the loving thing to do?

The second question which must be asked is, “what must be done to Scriptures to make them accommodating to homosexuality?” There are many issues in which I believe the current churches are straying from the true teachings of the Bible. However, on most of these, there is real room for debate and ambiguity. On the issue of homosexuality, however, there seems to be no room for debate whatsoever. If there are some conflicting passages, please enlighten me – however, I believe that the only real way that a church can be “welcoming and affirming” to homosexuality is by denying that the Bible contains any ethical standards whatsoever, other than a vague notion of love towards God and neighbor.

I have close friendships with two people who were once struggling with homosexual urges. Such people are human beings who need, above all, love and support, encouragement and companionship as they try to make decisions with absolutely devastating consequences. A large portion of what they also need, however, is direction. Their teachers are not allowed to give direction. Their TV’s give widely conflicting directions. Their friends are all confused. In Christianity, and in the Bible, is the one place where such people can come to find at least one concrete opinion on what the true and right expression of their sexuality is to be.

To the extent to which Christians shirk their duty, hesitate at their task, or are afraid of speaking the honest truth, they are not being faithful to their Lord or their friends. If a major denomination, church or pastor waffles and distorts e on this point, one is fully justified in questioning the orthodoxy and integrity of such a person, seeing as it seems manifestly plain that a Christian who condones homosexuality is being very much more influenced by culture than by Christ. If they cannot read the Bible clearly on such a plain and obvious point, they are likely not faithful to the Word on other points.

They have failed the “litmus test” and you would be justified in being suspicious of their orthodoxy.

39 Comments »

  1. Here are a few questions I have on this question, I do not have much in the way of answers.

    1. The default body plan for a fetus is female, it takes the action of testosterone to form a male fetus. Sometimes something goes wrong with one of the steps. For example, in Testosterone Insensitivity Syndrome, the fetus’ genes are XY, but the testosterone does not cause the changes to make a male body. What often results is a hyperfeminine body, as there are none of the common effects of testosterone, such as hair growth. My immediate take is people like this need our love and support regardless of what choices they make.

    2. There are other people called pseudo-hermaphrodites or true hermaphordites when the sexual organs are not totally formed one way or another, more sad cases. And some people are XXY and some XYY genetically. Some are a fusion of 2 different cell lines, yet one body develops; sometimes the fusion is such that there appears to be only 1 normal body termed a chimera), other times not (termed a Siamese twin or similar).

    3. The terms found in the Bible apparently had sexual dominance/submission aspects involved. From my perspective, that would be enough to make it sinful, but what does this mean if such is not involved?

    4. I also have concerns about looking at a sin list and focusing on the one that I am LEAST tempted by, proper application would seem to be that I should concentrate on the ones that I am MOST tempted by.

    5. Some rabbis point out that the prohibitions in the Tanakh apply to Israelites and say gentiles are off the hook, even tho negative terms are associated with it as gentiles do many things with negative terms associated with them that Israelites cannot do.

  2. Thank you for your perspective.

    From my perspective, of course, none of these objections make any real difference. Concerning genetic/birth defects: for those unable (or unwilling) to engage in heterosexuallity, I believe this would fall into the category described by Jesus, “Some are made eunuchs, some are born eunuchs…”

    Your point on “…these people need our love” is ABSOLUTELY valid. C.S. Lewis said it well when he said that we look on the outside, but God knows all. Some people have many factors which make holiness very, VERY difficult. For example, the person with a raging alcaholic father may have desires and impulses which he does not understand and only barely, only by the grace of God, is he able to overcome.

    What is crucial, however, is to ask, “Do we know what holiness IS? Does the Bible give us a direction?” If we don’t know which direction to point, why do we have a Bible in our hands? Why not a science textbook?

    See my next post (which was written before reading this, but applies and continues these thoughts..)

  3. I am not sure if you understood some of my points as I was so brief.

    A person with TIS is genetically male but her phenotype (body type) is female. Are you claiming that such a person is a eunuch and should never marry? If so, I think that is cruel.

    That is, intersex people such as mentioned in my first post are not really mentioned much in the Bible. When that happens, I fall back on more basic principles of the Kingdom and the supreme one is love. So, for example, the TIS person would be termed a barren female in the culture of the Bible, but that does not mean she is not a female. And following the principle of love I would not try to deny her the ability to marry a man, even tho they both would be XY (that is, male) genetically.

    Now if I am willing to see it this way for that case, what is the dividing line where I no longer see it that way? That is what I am wrestling with and I do not see a simple answer. I know above all I am to be loving. And if I am not loving I am a clanging cymbal and should simply shut up.

    • Yes, I would say that TIS people should remain celibate for life, even though I know this would be tough. I would only encourage Christians to this ethic, however, because they have the Holy Spirit, who will always give life and blessing where it leads.

      Don, are you also wrestling with the fact that if you are wrong, you may be encouraging people to sin against God, thus encouring His eternal wrath?

      I guess I just think that encouraging people to be in fellowship with God is more important than encouraging people to “find sexual/relational fulfillment” wherever that best happens for them.

      As it is written, “Do not fear man who kills the body, but afterwards, has no power over you. Rather, fear God who is able to kill both body and soul in hell. Therefore, if your right hand/eye causes you to sin, cut/gouge it out. For it is better to enter heaven maimed than to enter hell whole.”

      Let’s just say that Hell is real, and homosexuality is a sin. Then which would be the compassionate stand?

      Love is built on the foundation of knowledge. If we try to just love/condone everyone/everything, without regard for what is good in the sight of God, we incur wrath, as Eli did with his two sons.

    • I actually did not think you would say what you said. I feel sorry for you and your cruel version of trying to be faithful to God, at this point I can only pray that you repent. I have nothing else to say.

    • I am glad you are praying for me.

      Since we do not agree that the judgment day is the most important event for humanity, and that the Bible is the authoritative book for living a life of holiness/fear in the light of that day, it is not surprising that we don’t agree on so many other issues.

      I will also pray for you, that you will learn to add truth to your love.

      God bless!

      • Don, I am not trying to be insulting, only pointing out that we disagree on more fundamental issues, so it is not surprising we disagree on this one. Maybe it would be better if I used your categories?

        Also, under “Piper: “Behold now the…severity of God!,” and “bruxy on the afterlife,” it became very clear that you do not think of hell in the same way as I do. This is not an insignificant difference: if hell is real, the most cruel thing we could do (indeed, “cruel” is hardly a harsh enough word!) would be to lull people into a sense of false-security regarding the judgment day.

        Also, under “humility sabbatical” you said:

        “I used to be a “plain reading” reader, after all it works fine in everyday life and seems to work fine for many verses in the Bible. And I would hear or read a teaching that gave me deeper insights, and these deeper insights gradually shifted my understanding, so I could not go back to my previous understanding. But there were no seismic changes, just gradual shifts and insights.

        Until, of course, eventually there WAS a seismic change and the deeper insight reading OPPOSED my previous understanding. That is a VERY strange feeling, very disorienting, but I HIGHLY recommend it for every believer, it helps us to not be so sure about secondary doctrines.”

        …so I am a “plain-reading reader,” while you will follow secondary sources, even when they directly contradict the “plain-reading” of scripture. This issue seems to be one such topic. For example, consider Romans 1 and 1 Cor. 6:9-10,

        “9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

        I really am not trying to be insulting, Don.

        I suppose the best way to say it is that as a “plain-reading reader,” I do my best to place Scriptures in the final seat of authority, while you plainly do not. This is why we can read exactly the same verse, and while I will “read it plainly,” you will be able to read the opposite meaning into it.

      • I think being in eternal separation from God is a bad thing to be avoided and I think you do also. For some reason since I decline to say something about “hell” in a way you expect, you declare that I am a liberal and that I do not accept the authority of the Bible, both of which are untrue.

        On plain reading, it is often a mirage, changing shape to fit the teacher. LOTS of teachers claim to be plain readers, yet they differ on lots of things, so obviously it means (to at least most of them) what they want it to mean.

        That is why I try to use the original reader method, as it avoids a lot of the errors of the plain reader method. It might still be flawed, but it is less flawed.

        What you are counting on in your plain reading is that the translators mapped categories of thought from 1000’s of years ago into categories of thought today correctly. You are not even asking if this might not be a challenge (and it is) since the categories are not the same, each language carves up reality in different ways. It is really an impossible task, as all translators know, but one does the best one can, knowing that things get lost in translation.

        What you call “secondary sources” are actually the way anyone can figure out what words meant in original context. Once you free yourself from what you denigrate as “secondary” sources, you are free to make the Bible text into meaning almost anything and that is somewhere I will not go, since the Bible actually is authoritative for me for my faith.

        My claim is that what you claim you are doing is actually a way to disrepect the Bible by turning it into playdoh. It may not seem that way to you, but that will be the end result because WHATEVER you think is the plain meaning cannot be shown to be incorrect to you, as you have insulated yourself from being corrected.

      • Don, the only point I had been trying to make is that we disagree on deeper points, so it is not surprising we disagree here.

        I was only mentioning hermeneutics and hell in passing, not because I wanted to go there. I think that raising more and more issues is problematic, because it makes the discussion so broad and multi-layered that it is impossible to really make any progress.

        I don’t think I have ever called you a “Liberal,” have I? I have poured tremendous energy this past year into trying to understand the roots, causes and importance of Liberalism. What I really wanted to avoid is being one of those people that simply uses “Liberalism” like a bad word, and pastes it without knowledge onto anybody they don’t like.

        I don’t think I have done this, but there have been many words between us, and in a multitude of words, sins are unavoidable. If I have done this at any time in the past, I am really sorry.

        The point of this post is that I think that homosexuality is one of those issues where people show their true colors. Think of it as a shoe on the table: if you fit the shoe (aka you are a Christian who endorses homosexuality) then it is very likely that you are being more influenced by culture than by Scriptures. I have called this phenomenon of Christianity which listens more to culture than the Bible “Liberalism,” but “modernism” would also be accurate. Would this word be less offensive?

        My only purpose is a clearer knowledge – of self and one another. If we could admit who we are and what we believe, we could make progress together.

        The issue is not, of course, whether I use secondary sources or not. In fact, I use them quite a bit. I also, for that matter, use historical works, church tradition, and science. The question, however, is which is PRIMARY. You will see the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant, for example, when an issue arises which forces them to choose between pope and Bible.

        The point of this post has been to say that I think homosexuality is an issue where Christians need to make up their mind: will the follow culture or the Bible on this one? My reasoning flows from the following: 1) The Bible is clear on this topic, 2) culture’s voice is VERY STRONG on this topic. Therefore, we must choose.

        I’m not sure why our conversation has taken such a personal turn. It troubles me. I have spent a lot of time praying for you, and wondering what I may have said to hurt you. Would you please PM me if there is something specific I can make right?

        I think we need to keep ourselves somewhat distinct from the ideas we are talking about. Do you think I am right or wrong? If I am wrong, why?

        On the gender-roles issue, you were able to bring up many interesting Scriptures I had never considered. If you were able to provide counter-verses to the ones I have presented, it would almost instantly destroy my argument, and I would be forced to retract this post.

        Why don’t we go there – discussing the Biblical evidence for this topic, like we did with gender-roles?

      • On the subject of homosexuality, I think it in included in the list of sins by Paul. I think the Bible call us to heterosexual marriage or celibate singleness. But I have questions that the Bible does not seem to answer. And I am not so sure of some of my beliefs in this area that I could say someone who differed with me was “off the reservation.” Perhaps I do not have the faith to go there, but do I really know for sure that someone that differs from me is NOT acting in faith?

        One thing to see is that it is not so much how some translations choose to render some Greek words into English, it is what those Greek words meant in their original context. So the words that matter are not the English “effeminate” or “homosexual” (or similar) but rather the Greek “malakos” and “arsenokoites” in 1st century Greek culture.

        Malakos literally means cushy or plushy when it refers to clothing and my understanding is when it refers to people, it was a slang term for the male who acts like a female in a sexual act. However, this was seen as EXTREMELY shameful in a honor/shame society, so mostly slaves did this, and it was an aspect of showing some of them they were on the bottom rank of society. When I say honor/shame society I mean essentially everything revolved around seeking honor and avoiding shame and everything one did was evaluated thru those lenses.

        Arsenokoites in its etymology means “male bedder” (but etymology might be misleading)and my understanding is that this referred to a male who acted like a male with a malakos in a sexual act. This was NOT seen as degrading by pagans, it was seen as the dominant and powerful position.

        And throughout all this, males were encouraged to be incredibly promiscuous in general, it was just expected that after an invited dinner, the (pagan) host would provide prostitutes, etc.

        I am sure Paul specifically and Jews in general saw all this sexual immorality and were simply grossed out. It was imperative that gentile believers stop participating in such things immediately if they were to have any hope of table fellowship with Jewish believers.

        So that is how I EXEGETE these verses, which I suppose is pretty close to how you do. My challenges are on how to APPLY them today and hence my questions about categories of people that the 1st century did not even recognize, nor should they have been expected to recognize them.

      • Yes, we are very similar. It seems like God through Paul went out of his way to say, “this is wrong, no matter which role you play…”

        My problem with allowing a “new category” of people is that it implies that we know more about gender than God did or that He did not know what He was doing when He wrote the Bible. Do you think TIS people existed in Bible times? Wouldn’t they have acted according to these verses, and, if they had met Paul or Jesus and had been told “I do not condemn you – now go, sin no more,” would they not have understood that they were to stop all homosexual activity?

        I just have real difficulty saying that Modern science makes us smarter than the authors of the Bible on matters of basic human sexuality.

      • I do think TIS people existed in Biblical times and God knows all about these types of situations. A TIS person would be one way to be a “barren woman” in the Bible since her (external) body would be female, except she could not have kids. As I mentioned in the first post, many TIS people are HYPER-feminine, since testosterone does not affect them.

        Also, the Bible teaches that God accomodates to the original reader’s understanding. God knows everything, way beyond what we know (infinite versus finite), but God came down to the level of the original readers or else they would not have been able to understand what God was telling them. And the original readers of each book had different categories than we might have today. This is why the application aspect of the HGL interpretation 2-step process of (1) exegesis of what the text meant back then followed by (2) application to today is not trivial, altho some omit it completely.

        There is a bumper sticker that says, “God says it. I believe it. That settles it.” Such a method can end up being “God says it. I misunderstand it. I condemn others based on my misunderstanding.” We need to treat the texts with respect and try as best we can to get into the heads of the original readers as part of our exegetical work. And when we do that, we need to realize we are only half done, the application to us today still needs to be figured out.

      • Can we leave the hermeneutics issue for a later post? I know it relates, but I really think it’s helpful to stay on target.

        In what way does the issue of TIS overlap with the homosexuality question? I had thought you raised the issue because you thought that if such persons chose homosexuality, that would be okay for them. Is this what you were saying?

        Your facts and research are exceedingly interesting – I just am not sure where you are going on this one.

      • One simply CANNOT leave the hermeneutical questions for a later time. You made a claim in your title. What that claim depends on is a mapping of categories that existed in the 1st century into 21st century categories. That is, you (apparently) accept that the best translation/interpretation of the Greek “arsenokoites” is the English “homosexual”. Now it may be true if one has to pick one word, but it is a myth that language translation can be done “word for word” in ALL cases, as the worldview categories back then and now simply differ in some cases. To be specific, arsenokoites meant being on a domination power trip over another and expressing that in a (same) sex manner that shamed the other, while homosexual does not mean that.

        So I have questions on how to apply this today. I think domination power trips that shame another should have no place in a believer’s life (however they might be expressed) and I am sure you agree.

        On a TIS person, I brought that up to show that mapping our categories today back into 1st century text is not trivial. That is, things are straightforward to think about when there are males and females and there is no mixing, but we know that that is not the reality today. That is, the 1st century had a simpler understanding of reality than we do.

        So I map a TIS person (21st century category of a deeper more complex carving up of reality) as an example of a barren woman of the Bible (1st century or earlier category of a simpler carving up of reality). So I see no problem whatsoever with 2 genetically XY people marrying when one of them is a TIS person because (1) when one is a TIS person, as one has the body of a female and (2) female body type is the aspect of reality recognized in the Bible, any concept they had of genetics was very primitive (and perhaps incorrect in some aspects) and they did not even know about XY chromosomes. And perhaps the most important reason, (3) this acccords with the principle of love. That is, if the TIS person wants to marry, I almost certainly will never know she is a TIS person, but even if I did, whom am I to claim that she should not and should remain celibate? That would just be cruel.

      • Okay, sorry, let my try to recap…having a bit of a hard time following.

        So a TIS person would be hyper-feminine, and would thus be drawn to marry a woman? And you would say this is Okay because cromozonally, they are male/female, even though bilogically they are not?

        I’m sorry to be so slow. I’m just getting tangled up in this, seeing as this is my first exposure to TIS.

        Maybe you could just tell me if I have you or not, and then I will proceed to answer.

      • A TIS person is a female by body type but a male by gene type. She does not have female reproduction organs inside her, rather degenerate male sex organs inside her vagina, so it is a sad birth defect and she is infertile.

        Just looking at her one would have NO QUESTION about her being female. In fact, it turns out that she often has hyperfeminine physical attributes, in other words, all the aspects of body type that allow one to tell if someone is female are exaggerated in her, think supermodel beautiful and shapely.

        As a woman, I expect she would be drawn to a man to marry. I do not have any experience in this area however, just from reading about it.

        And there are other such things, TIS is just one example of a way things can go wrong. All of these people need our love and understanding.

      • Okay, y’got me. For someone like this, it would be very, very complicated. In a real-life situation, I think there would be a lot of soul-searching, praying and seeking.

        As far as right and wrong…well, what do you think? Does the Bible have ANYTHING to say about whether such a person should marry a man or a woman, or should remain celibate?

        The love is a given: I hope I would be loving, even when comfronting someone in their sin. However, the question at hand is, “What is sin?”

        I’ll give you my conclusion on this matter after your next response.

      • As I wrote before, here is how I apply my exegesis today: I think the best mapping of a TIS person to 1st century categories is she is an example of a barren woman. Thus she could marry a man.

        But this is where it gets tricky, supposed a procedure is invented to fix the birth defect. Now the TIS person goes thru the procedure and is now a man both in genes and in form. As a he, could he marry a woman, I certainly think so. Now perhaps such a procedure will never be invented, so such complexities never arise, but would it make sense for a Christian to avoid working on such a procedure to reverse a birth defect? I hope that never happens.

        In summary, today, (1) due to science, we have a deeper understanding of reality than they did back then and (2) God accomodated God’s inspired revelation to people in the 1st century by using their categories; we know this because if God had not, they would have had little chance of understanding it. This means that (3) faithful people can end up with different conclusions depending on how they do the mapping from what the text meant to how the text applies today.

        You want to “draw a line in the sand” and say that anyone that accepts acting homosexuals in a Christian group simply is giving in to the culture, as the Bible is so clear. I am trying to point out to you that for both Biblical exegetical reasons and scientific reasons, it ain’t so clear in ALL cases. And we agree that homosexual is probably the best one word translation of arsenokoites. Where we do not agree is if someone might comes to a different conclusion, then we are sure they are not acting in faith. Where you want to claim certainty (homosexual acceptance is outside of the faith), I am not as sure as you that this is the case. I am not there myself, but am I sure enough to declare another totally wrong about it.

        As a contrast, I can declare someone totally wrong that would belive that being on a dominant power trip is appropriate behavior for a believer.

        For example, there are some Young Earth Creationists that declare that if one does not believe as they do, then one has fatally compromised the faith. I do not believe that at all and my take is I wish they would not say such things. If they want to believe such, fine, I can still accept them as believers, but do not say that others that differ from them on YEC are not being faithful, that goes too far.

      • I would agree with you on YEC NOT being a good litmus test. There is too much room for valid discussion on that point.

        Okay, Don – you can pat yourself on the back for proving your point. Upon reflecting, I see that there is genuine confusion regarding someone who is partially or fully a hermaphrodite (aka born with both male and female reproductive organs).

        The issues arising around such people would be similar to siamese twins (say, two women) who wanted to get married. In their case, would polygamy be an option? Or perhaps they could both marry – but then would they be committing adultery? …etc. On some very rare cases, I agree that there is difficulty.

        I disagree with you that they had no such cases in Bible times, because I just came across a mention of a certain hermaphrodite in my readings in the Church fathers. This person would have lived about the time of Christ. I would assume, however, that since these situations are so very exceedingly rare, God did not take time to deal with them in detail, but assumed that His people would be able to apply the principles of God’s word to them.

        The issues raised in Romans 1 are, 1) “exchanging the natural function for…that which is unnatural” and 2) “burning in lust for one another, men with men committing indecent acts…”

        However, where genuine confusion exists to whether someone is a male or a female, these verses may not specifically apply.

        I would tend to lean towards celibacy for such cases for many reasons (not least of which is that marriage is hard enough without such additional complications), but if you want to lean the other way, I will not hold it against you on the issue of true hermaphrodites.

        So yes, my litmus test is not a sure thing: there is some flexibility.

      • This being said, I still believe that the Bible has presented a very clear, trans-cultural ethic regarding sexuality.

        The issue of a true hermaphrodite seems like a fine ribbon of grey surrounding the real issue: what of those who CHOOSE homosexuality, when they could just as easily have chosen heterosexuality?

        Don, what do you think the Bible says in cases such as this?

      • I think God’s best for a person in the sexual area is either heterosexual monogamy based on mutuality or celibate singleness. (This is the position of CBE and I am a member which requires agreement with a short paragraph including these ideas.)

        But there were many heros of the faith in the Bible that did not fall into one of those 2 categories, many were polygamists, David also an adulterer, etc.

        I do not know any open homosexuals personally and I only knew one closed one who lived a life of celibacy as far as I knew. I point this out as I am where I am at due to study of Scripture and science, not because of some unconscious wish to help someone I know personally. It is not a personal issue for me at this time.

        I think the criterion for being “in” is an active faith in Jesus as Messiah as revealed in the Bible. I hesitate to draw a line that includes me but excludes others on other things than Jesus. I would be able to ask them how is this belief or position acting in faith based on what God says. And if they said adultery was OK, I would think they were deceived. But there are some ambiguous cases in regards to gender.

      • Wow. We actually are in danger of agreeing here!

        Last two questions – if somebody was openly practicing homosexuality and also called themselves a Christ-follower, would you think they were deceived, or is this in a different category from adultery?

        If you were part of a church – say, the Anglican church – which decided to condone homosexuality (and even ordain homosexuals), would you conclude that your church’s theology had gone sour, or would this not really be an issue, so long as everybody had a vital relationship with Jesus?

      • The very first thing I would ask anyone that sees things differently than I do is to ask them how they understand (exegete and apply) what I see as the relevant verses. There have been cases in my life where I was 100% sure I knew what some verses meant, only to find out it was not necessarily so. To avoid looking ignorant, I have learned (finally) to ask first. And I might learn something, so I would (try my best to) be in learning mode, not correcting mode, when listening. And not trying to jump in and reply but really trying to understand their perspective, trying “their shoes on” as best I could (but not to sin).

        My response might include putting some things on the shelf, going into “not sure” mode on some things until I studied it more. If there were scholars on both sides, I would read both sides. I would be wondering if I am missing something, esp. something important.

        But say after all this, I remained as I was before, then I would think they were deceived. But I would hesitate to make this a rapid fire response unless harm to others was involved.

        On the church thing, I have 2 friends who have left the Epis. church and joined the Angl. church.

      • I heard you talk at length about the research you would do if you encountered somebody who disagreed with you on homosexuality. My only question is, “Why would you wait until you met somebody who disagreed with you?” We are talking about this now – why don’t you research it now? Walking with somebody and doing your theology on the run sounds like a good idea, but in my experience it is more hurtful to a person when you start out saying, “I don’t know…maybe what you are doing is fine…” then later, after doing more study saying, “Actually, I think this is wrong,” than if you started off knowing what you believed. This way, when you humbly present the truth of Scriptures to a person, they can take it or leave it, but they won’t think that you changed your mind just especially to condemn them. Does this make sense?

      • I have done a very little research and I have some books in a list to get when/if I want to start studying it. I have other pressing things in my life that have higher priority. That is what having a priority list means.

        It is OK for one to have some things on the shelf. Some things about the Christian life are underdetermined by the Scriptures, so faithful people can have differences.

        Have YOU done a study of both sides?

        I decline to fall into the possible trap of NOT reading about anohter side in their own words, in other words, someone who does not believe something cannot be expected to summarize it well.

      • You’ve got me. I’ll admit it. I have read only a very smattering of stuff from “the other side.”

        I guess the pot has officially called the kettle black. *blushing*

      • Hey wait a minute! I take that back! I listened to several podcasts which dealt with this topic in depth and with sensitivity to both sides. Admittedly, Bruxy Cavey lands on our side. However, I have never experienced him to omit information.

        I also read “slaves, women and homosexuals” which said the same thing.

        Most importantly, though, Scriptures really are just CLEAR on this one. If they aren’t clear here, how can you trust them on fornication, adultery, murder, etc.?

        …but now we are back to hermeneutics…

        In this, I don’t mean to retract my previous embarrassed statement. I really should have listened to at least one or two podcasts “from the other side.” I will do that very soon.

      • P.S. It was the Epis. church that ordained an open homosexual man and just recently a woman, after being asked by Anglicans do not do any more. So my 2 friends in congregations moving to Angl. church see themselves as remaining faithful to historic Christian beliefs.

        On what I would do, I would need to study both sides, in my desire to seek truth, but I have said where my current understanding is above.

        In other words, I am finite and cannot do everything in my studies that might be useful, and as I have enough on my plate right now, I defer this area for study if needed, but as it is not needed now, I defer it.

      • I just have no foggy clue how there could be an “other side,” without destroying all of Scriptures. The Bible is more clear on some things, less on others. On this one, it is CRYSTAL clear (with hermaphrodites excepted). I don’t know how one could say, for example, “homosexuality is okay, but fornication is not,” based on Scriptures. It seems like you would have to say, “All this stuff about ethics in here doesn’t apply anymore. We just receive grace, then live however we want…”

        Maybe that is a caricature, but I just don’t see any other way, other than dismissing the Bible and listening a lot to culture to find “wiggle-room” on this topic.

      • Unless you have read the studies by the homosexual-inclusive side, how do you know that you are not misunderstanding Scripture?

        How do you know that your “plain reading” is not a “false reading”? You MIGHT be missing something.

        The “plain reading” of the Bible put Galileo under house arrest, as “the earth cannot be moved.” I use this example to again try to show you that “plain reading” is not all its cracked up to be.

      • ….yes. Hermeneutics, hermeneutics. It all comes back to hermeneutics, doesn’t it?

        This will be the place we will have to have our next real discussion at.

      • On claiming another is a liberal or does not accept the authority of the Bible, I think it is a better technique to ask a question rather than make an accusation.

        Ask: Do you accept the authority of the Bible for your faith and practise?

        Rather than: You do not accept the authority of the Bible for your faith and practise.

        Assuming they say Yes to the former, ask them how they do so? How do they understand this or that verse or pericope, etc.?

        There will ALWAYS be others who understand a verse or pericope in a looser way than you do and others who understand it in a tighter way, and there may also be some who understanding in a different way, e.g., as they see an idiom that you do not or vice versa. This does not necessarily mean that some pejorative term applies.

    • The most important day is when Jesus died for humans, including me.

      I wish you would not confuse our exegetical differences with pegging me as denying the authority of Scripture, that is a false claim and I ask you to retract it.

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