Friday, 22 August 2008

origins of homosexuality

Updated 29 August

Back in late July, the Church Times published an article by Professor Michael King, titled How much is known about the origins of homosexuality?

The full text of the earlier report from the Special Interest Group mentioned in this article can be found here.

This week’s Church Times contains several letters responding to the article. (These are not yet available online, except to subscribers.)

As promised, here is a link to last week’s Church Times letters, Sexual orientation and the Church: navigating between the competing claims of the extremes and the middle.

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"The Royal College of Psychiatrists holds the view that LGB people should be regarded as valued members of society who have exactly similar rights and responsibilities as all other citizens. This includes equal access to health care, the rights and responsibilities involved in a civil partnership, the rights and responsibilities involved in procreating and bringing up children, freedom to practice a religion as a lay person or religious leader, freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation"

That says it all! I've personally know LGBT people who have "suicided" thanks to the zealousness of puritan "sexual orientation therapy" do-gooder, self-imagined fixers and demented religious know-it-alls...perhaps if they spent more time focusing on their own character more of US could/would serve Christ and ALL humanity at The Body of Christ.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 22 August 2008 at 4:11pm BST

"freedom to practice a religion as a lay person or religious leader"

My problem with this as a Christian is that it seems to confuse rights with freedoms. If God calls someone to priesthood in the Church, no-one has the right to stand in their way. If not, then we can say what words we like over them, they aren't priests. But no-one has a "right" to be a priest. It is a privelege and a responsibility, but not a right as secularly understood. Indeed , if we oppose the ordination of someone God has called, I'd be much more comfortable with arguing that we are standing in the way of God's right to choose who He wants for that specific service, not the right of the person so chosen. There are some conservatives of whom I have to wonder what the Almighty was thinking when He called them, but I can't deny their vocation, and it isn't for me to question God. WRT lay people, again, what this seems to be saying is that the state, in some sense, has the right to dictate to God who He accepts and who He doesn't. This line of argument is not only unsatisfactory to conservatives, I, for one, balk at it as well. The issue is not who the state or society thinks is justified, but who it is that God thinks is justified. But then, as an Anglo-cathoic, I have huge issues with society dictating to God what He will and will not accept, and that goes just as much for conservatives as liberals.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 22 August 2008 at 5:33pm BST

Ford:

I think what the Royal College's statement intends is that the GOVERNMENT cannot act to prevent a gay person from practicing his religion as a lay person or cleric. How this applies in the UK, with an established national church, is beyond my purview as a Yank.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 22 August 2008 at 6:52pm BST

"as an Anglo-cathoic, I have huge issues with society dictating to God what He will and will not accept"

Of course, Ford, you have to concede that---this side of heaven---"what God will and will not accept" CANNOT be determined, apart from subjective (conflicting!) HUMAN discernment.

And there enlies the conundrum. Whose (subjective, conflicting, fallible) human discernment will prevail?

Lord have mercy!

[Re the article: my basic reaction is "And lo, the sky is blue, and water is wet" ;-)]

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 22 August 2008 at 6:55pm BST

Thanks loads for reposting the Professor King article.

In brief words it aptly summarizes just where empirical data have offered us (A) disconfirmations of long (2 millenia of Christendom if not longer?) held errors in our negative beliefs about queer folks as humans, plus (B) the slow and painstaking empirical research that is still surprising all of us, since most of us were raised to believe in all the old flat earth stuff. I have needed a clear, brief summary of how our views are changed and changing, so this will do nicely for classes or training workshops.

The eight domains comprise an immense sea change, obviously with strong implications for our wider understanding of human nature, nature, and sexuality, evolved and varied domain of that still larger mystery which is the myriad interfaces of culture, human personality, and human behavior.

Anybody who wishes to do theology or ethics about queer folks should first have to update in exactly these eight domains.. Else we are still hobbled by discussing flat earth theory, usually via unquestioned and univocally negative religious presuppositions.

One key difficulty, these changes instruct us: Say wide open, stay open to positives. Is it possible that traditional folks simply do not care to hear any new, positive understanding of the goods that queer folks offer in the complex gifts of nurture x nature? Most difficult for those who wish to fiercely cling to a negative view, closed, settled, unaffected by empirical data?

Bravo to Professor Kings and the Royal College, too. How sad that the input of the Royal College barely made a passing dent in the Indaba conversations at this past Lambeth. Canterbury is uncertain, you see, whether or not Galileo should be silenced, under house arrest.

How sad that that other Kings, over at Fulcrum, isn't up to snuff on these changes ... yet. Even Rowan Williams doesn't think through the eight domains very consistently, though somewhere down deep inside he must have inklings that an empirical sea change is afoot, whether conservative believers take note or not. Heavy Anglicans, all shouting, Do not bother me with silly facts about queer folks competencies, as my mind is firmly made up for God. Heavy Anglicans going closed, globally, alas, Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 22 August 2008 at 8:13pm BST

No one who supports ordination of partnered gay folk supports it as a right for any specific individual apart from the regular processes of discernment. Claiming otherwise files in the face of the facts and confuses the issues.

What is desirable -- to me -- is for gay folk who feel called to ordained ministry to have the same access to the process of discernment as straight folk.

I have no argument with Ford when he claims "no-one has the right to stand in the way" of someone called by God to priesthood.

Absolutely -- but what we now have is a situation in which lots of people believe they have the right to stand in the way of partnered gay folk who believe they are called, simply because they are partnered gay folks.

Posted by: jnwall on Friday, 22 August 2008 at 8:30pm BST

One wonders how seriously the Lambeth Conference organisers considered the offering of Professor Michael King' original article - with the hope that it might be considered by theologians before the conference began?

In the light of Bishop Gene's lack of an invitation to submit his own personal view of the actual situation of Gays in the Church to the Conference, this might just have provided useful insights into the aetiology of homosexuality and its natural appearance in the human condition.

Regarding Ford's objection to the semantics of 'freedom' v. 'right'; as a catholic Christiasn myself, I have to agree that neither word is completely satisfactory when describing vocation.
One is either called by God into ministry, or one is not. From experience, one does wonder about the veracity of a specific call in some particular instances, but even Ford, I think, would agree that proper discernment by the Church ought not to automatically disallow the claims of women and homosexuals to have been called by God to serve as bishops or clergy in the Church.

Let's hope that the Windsor Coninuing Group will now read Professor King's Report, giving it some credibility as the offering of a particular view with an authentic claim to specific authority in the scientific world. After all, this is God's world, and God wants us to acknowledge the wisdom of diversity in creation.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 22 August 2008 at 11:55pm BST

Well, I think it's hard to disagree with much that Prof King said in his CT article: Same sex attraction does seem to be generally caused by an interaction of genetic / womb environment with the environmental conditions in early childhood. Sexual orientation certainly isn't usually malleable. And it wouldn't be surprising if it showed up in neurological studies - since it is basically a question of the brain's perceptions.

However, some people do report "discovering they are gay" later in life - a sign that other factors CAN come into play.. and some people "go straight" in mid life - my Mr Melly being the recent high profile case.

Furthermore, the person I know best who has SSAs did have the classical dominant mother and withdrawn father.. I do wonder whether psychiatrists don't like to say anyone might have caused SSA's because they assume that 'cause' is equal to guilt. I presume that is the reason that he makes the weird split between "gene - environment interactions" and "environmental factors".

Similarly, whether homosexuality is regarded as an "ordered" or "disordered" human characteristic is basically about how you decide what "order" is!! People inherit and/or develop all sorts of characteristics, but which are seen as "ordered" is decided according to your particular world-view. That is, I'd suggest, the main thing that changed in the 60s/70s..

One other thing that I think should be drawn again to folks' attention is that phrase "A continuum of sexuality". As I keep saying, there aren't "gay people" and "straight people" just people; people whose sexuality can be characterized on one or more spectra. And as Prof Kings does mention, sexuality is not a moral problem - but behavioral choices are the proper realm of religions. God really does love everybody equally, but He doesn't approve of everything we do, or want to do.


ps Anyone interested in seeing a study that measured changes in sexual orientation can read the abstract via the link on this page: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/els/02779536/2003/00000056/00000008/art00161

Posted by: davidwh on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 2:45am BST

I couldn't resist.. here's another abstract, showing family environment affectiing SSA's (in a population study of 2 million people): http://lib.bioinfo.pl/pmid:17039403

Posted by: davidwh on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 3:17am BST

Does anyone ask what "causes" heterosexuality?
Perhaps someone should.

Posted by: counterlight on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 3:18am BST

A very interesting article by Dr King.

As we know, the conservative view is that homosexuality is a sinful choice, and psychologists have known for some time that sexual orientation isn't a choice.

I'm from Singapore. You would not believe how stupid the Evangelical churches there are on this issue. There is not even any discussion that sexual orientation could be relatively hardwired.

In any case, even if sexual orientation were completely chosen, my stance is that as long as the relationship is mutual and non-exploitative, it is OK.

Posted by: Weiwen on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 4:06am BST

A couple of the printed responses make the point that, as is the case with most psychiatrists and many doctors, Michael King's training equips him only to ask - or focus on - *one* of the main relevant fundamental questions: namely, is homosexuality 'natural' or 'normal'? There are various issues here:

(1) Everything [that happens in the 'natural' world we inhabit] can be correctly termed 'natural'. (Many of those things being harmful, many neutral and many beneficial.)
(2) This raises the question of the ambiguity of the term 'natural'. Failure to address this ambiguity is a problem of Dr King's approach. For 'natural' can mean either (a) attested in nature or (b) occurring without the intervention of any extraneous/harmful/abnormal factors.
(3) Likewise, although only a minority of things are 'normal', in a world as large as ours any number of things can be accurately classed as 'normal variations' without any reference to their benefit or otherwise.

I have never met anyone who does not agree that even various harmful behaviours are *both* 'natural' (in sense (1)) *and* 'normal'. Even if we class homosexual behaviour as thoroughly beneficial and good in every way, the problem still remains: Why on earth are these psychiatrists and doctors behaving as though the central issue (or even *a* relevant issue) were 'is it normal/natural' when everybody knows perfectly well that many 'normal' things, and many 'natural' things, are harmful, sometimes extremely harmful? Is it that their education is not sufficiently rounded and multi-dimensional for them to think outside the box of the in-talk of their own guild?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 9:20am BST

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is saying *as a professional and secular body* that they can see no reasons to deny LGB people roles in religious leadership. There are groups who they might feel in their professional opinion should not have a right to be religious leaders (i.e. who it would be reasonable to discriminate against in this blamket way). For example, I suspect they would not think that people with developmental disabilities should have the right to become religious leaders, but that they should have the right to practice a religion.

I don't think they're saying that LGB people should be religious leaders (=they have a right to be): they wouldn't pretend to be competent to decide who should be. What they're saying is that there are no medical/psychological reasons for saying they shouldn't be (= they have the freedom to be).

Posted by: magistra on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 9:26am BST

"I presume that is the reason that he makes the weird split between "gene - environment interactions" and "environmental factors"."

That isn't a wierd split at all. And, please, SSAs? You are reducing a state of being to behaviour patterns. By virtue of reducing what someone IS to a mere set of behavioural issues, the point is missed entirely. That's a big flaw in reparative therapies, which are about behaviour control. Essentially, the idea is that "homosexual behaviour" is a symptom of the "disease" of homosexuality, and such treatments are about managing the disease. This framework is inappropriate as a model for homosexuality, which is why reparative "therapies" don't work. A "therapy" developed on the basis of a misunderstanding of the condition being treated can't work. If you want to treat a "disease" you first have to understand that disease, but some conservatives seem more interested in loudly promoting and justifying their own preconceived notions of what homosexuality is than in actually understanding it. So, you have to ask, what's the motivation? If they are so concerned about "fixing" gay people, you'd think the best approach would be to find out as much as possible about the "affliction", not spend one's time justifying one's own prejudices.

"God really does love everybody equally, but He doesn't approve of everything we do, or want to do."

Sad thing is, there are a lot of people out there who just assume that everything they want to do IS what God wants them to do. Things like judging other people, forcing society to live by their rules, misrepresenting and maligning people to get their way, and kicking the "impure" out of their holy club. You talk about behavioural choices being an issue for religion. I agree. But what about these behavioural choices?


And, Fr. Ron, yes, I would agree.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 1:20pm BST

Christopher Schell, might your last statement not be more accurately applied to you?

"any number of things can be accurately classed as 'normal variations' without any reference to their benefit or otherwise."

One of the things we see that is both ineffective and harmful is so called "reparative therapies" (see point 8 in the first link).

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 1:23pm BST

Who gets to decide what's "normal" and who elected them?

Posted by: counterlight on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 1:26pm BST

davidwh: "However, some people do report "discovering they are gay" later in life -....."

That's because your ilk do everything they can to suppress, deny, repress and scold anybody of that persuasion to either buy into your narrow-minded mantra "get saved, i.e., force an unnatural changed for that individual and "pretend", or be insured of going to hell. No wonder many are so out of touch with their deep inner feelings, often resulting in suicide, or at least to muck up a marriage and ruin a spouse's life due to living out a lie.

Rubbish.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 2:26pm BST

"Furthermore, the person I know best who has SSAs did have the classical dominant mother and withdrawn father."

1. What fraction of heterosexual males endured the same, allegedly homosexualgenic family structure, yet emerged resolutely straight (if not also neurotic?)

2. Given the incidence of truly absent fathers within low-income communities, then why is there no signs of a high rate of 'resulting' gay men? Shouldn't most ghettos end up looking like Chelsea?

3. For these, and other reasons, this alleged correlation has been entirely debunked. In addition, from a sort of psychoanalytic perspective, it has also been opined that fathers may distance themselves from gender-atypic boys due to their own internalized homophobia and discomfort.

4. The plural of anecdote is not data.

LPR

Posted by: RudigerVT on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 3:18pm BST

davidwh and Christopher Snell observe that some conditions that occur in the natural world don't seem to benefit the humans endowed with them.

This is probably true, but I suspect that behind this observation is a bit of question-begging that often goes unchallenged.

The implicit comparison that I imagine is being made (and correct me if I'm misinterpreting) is that homosexuality can be equated with alcoholism or various other forms of debility, in that, however they arise, they're harmful to those who possess them, and harmful to the people around them.

But that in fact is the question begged: is the practice of homosexuality always and necessarily harmful in this way?

This is usually the point at which the Evangelicals and their ilk trot out various statistics relating to mental and sexual health. But, even where these may have some foundation, the conclusions drawn from them are often analagous to someone blaming higher levels of crime or unemployment among, e.g. African American community, on the fact that they are African American rather than on a continuing history and culture of marginalisation.

And if we were to judge heterosexuality -- or any other human characteristic -- solely on its most neurotic practitioners or its least attractive manifestations, would we leave it legal?

Even *if* (and I'm not conceding the following, but offering it for the sake of argument) we compare homosexuality to a mild disability such as deafness, we don't frown on deaf people using their hands to communicate. In other words, we don't generally disapprove of people with differently configured abilities using those abilities in a different way where it seems to offer them and those around them some advantage. No one, for example, argues that Sign Language is in danger of precipitating the demise of spoken English.

So what genuine harm is done, when Christians believe in good faith, after conscientious consideration, that this is (not just the least bad) but in fact the best way in which they can play the hand that some combination of genes, ante-natal environment, physiology and social environment has dealt them?

... unless it is to harm a resilient tradition of cultural squeamishness, and a few convenient fiats from the Bible with which to give these otherwise thoroughly discredited prejudices a bit of extra mileage...

Posted by: Nick Thompson on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 3:29pm BST

"Who gets to decide what's "normal" and who elected them?"

The Elect get to decide, by virtue of the fact that God elected them.

"So what genuine harm is done, when Christians believe in good faith.....the best way in which they can play the hand that some combination of genes, ante-natal environment, physiology and social environment has dealt them?"

Well, first of all, those who bought into the self loathing and spent their lives pretending to be straight have the folly of their decision made clear. That causes them a great deal of cognitive discomfort. They can't understand why we didn't make the same dishonest choice they did, and after a lifetime feeling they have done the right thing, to tell them the needn't have put themselves through all that is difficult for them to hear. It invalidates something they have thought good about their lives. It's sad for them to have suffered like that, but there you go. Second, it means doing away with some old societal ideas about gay people in particular and sexuality in general. For conservatives, this is frightening. Look at those conservatives who clearly feel that accepting gay people is a step on the road to the downfall of Western society, which they already consider to be on the verge of destruction from the attacks of rampant liberalism. Their entire narrative is based on the idea that they are valiant warriors fighting for Truth against a world that persecutes them. Now, I think there's a better argument for the persecution of gay people than of conservative Christians in the West. While I recognize the difficulties and bigotries we still face, I find it hard to feel that someone living as well as God has given me to live is all that terribly persecuted. You can imagine then what I think about people whose lives are at least as comfortable as mine claiming persecution because they are not being permitted to judge and condemn others in some pretty vile language, and separate themselves from those they feel less holy than themselves. I'm not supporting this, I think these people need healing, but I do believe they are strong motivators for some.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 4:30pm BST

comment deleted.

Posted by: on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 5:47pm BST

"davidwh: "However, some people do report "discovering they are gay" later in life -....."

Or they realise they are bisexual later in life.

In any case, where homosexuality comes from may be of theoretical interest, but it can have no further application than that.

I'm blissfully in love in an extremely happy relationship. It doesn't bother me at all whether I am capable of loving my love because of genetic, environmental or any other reasons. I rejoice that I can love like that and thank God that he has shown me this wonderful person who, by a true miracle, feels the same about me.
What else is there to know?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 6:06pm BST

"Even *if* (and I'm not conceding the following, but offering it for the sake of argument) we compare homosexuality to a mild disability such as deafness, we don't frown on deaf people using their hands to communicate. In other words, we don't generally disapprove of people with differently configured abilities using those abilities in a different way where it seems to offer them and those around them some advantage. No one, for example, argues that Sign Language is in danger of precipitating the demise of spoken English."

Brilliant, Nick T! Well done!

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 7:51pm BST

"No one, for example, argues that Sign Language is in danger of precipitating the demise of spoken English."

Now, texting, on the other hand.....

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 8:33pm BST

I've never thought that the question whether there's a genetic predisposition to homosexuality should be decisive in the church's understanding, any more than a genetic predisposition to addiction would determine what we think about alcoholism. It's quite possible that giving us something to overcome is the most loving thing a loving God could do.

I support homosexual inclusion because my experience of faithful, committed gay couples is that they are mediators of God's grace in much the same way faithful, committed heterosexual couples can be. They're signs of God's faithfulness. "Test everything; hold fast to what is good."

Posted by: Mark on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 8:48pm BST

Ford, I'm being technical. Prof King called sexuality a "characteristic" - not a state of being. If you take a glance at the studies I linked to above (each abstract is short) you will see that sexuality is neither a "given" nor necessarily fixed. Though I'm sure it is usually not very susceptible to "treatments", people can find help to come to terms with living with it, if they don't want to live in a same-sex sexual relationship. Some people are well know as post-gay (ie they don't deny that they still experience SSA - sometimes less tha before - but have chosen to live either celibately or in a male-female relationship).

Erica, I would love to know your observations on whether lost relationships with your mother may be a factor in women who are in long-term homosexual relationships.

JCF, I don't disapprove of homosexuals. God loves everybody incredibly, He blesses everybody who comes to Him, and He uses people as His ministers who fall short in many ways (you can see that in the Bible well enough - Todd Bentley and David Wilkerson are not the first men who have (apparently) been great ministers of God but fallen sexually - the OT in particular seems full of such stories). Nor do I think that sexual sins are the worst types - I just do think that God's opinion on what constitutes a sexual sin is different from late 20th century humanism's view! If we can just find a way to try to tease apart the idea that God loves us from the fact that He doesn't approve of everything we do (or want to do) we might be able to get to some agreement.

Posted by: davidwh on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 9:10pm BST

So why on earth, apparently compare gayness with alcoholism ? Or at least bracket them together like you have ?

Now the real parallel is -- the genetic predispostion to heterosexuality.

As you apparently 'support inclusion' please please review your use of language. Get a couple of gay friends to assist you. It's letting you down at the moment.

Clue : Many of us gays are none too keen on the heavy use of terms 'homosexulatiy' and 'homosexual'. Try 'gay'.


'I've never thought that the question whether there's a genetic predisposition to homosexuality should be decisive in the church's understanding, any more than a genetic predisposition to addiction would determine what we think about alcoholism. It's quite possible that giving us something to overcome is the most loving thing a loving God could do.

'I support homosexual inclusion because my experience of faithful, committed gay couples is that they are mediators of God's grace in much the same way faithful, committed heterosexual couples can be. They're signs of God's faithfulness. "Test everything; hold fast to what is good."

Posted by: Mark on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 8:48pm BST

Posted by: Treebeard on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 12:25am BST

I need know nothing more --this is wonderful !

I rejoice with you !

'I'm blissfully in love in an extremely happy relationship. It doesn't bother me at all whether I am capable of loving my love because of genetic, environmental or any other reasons. I rejoice that I can love like that and thank God that he has shown me this wonderful person who, by a true miracle, feels the same about me.

What else is there to know?'

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 6:06pm BST

Posted by: Treebeard on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 12:29am BST

DavidWh, forgive me for intervening in your dialogue with others...

(your dialogue with Ford):
People use words in a variety of ways. For example, Professor King on 'characteristics':

"Like all complex human characteristics, evidence on the origins of sexual orientation is difficult to obtain and to interpret. This is because it involves study of human development from the embryo to the adult, of brain structure and function, physiological processes, and of evolutionary and psychological theory. "

- when you see the text in full, "characteristic" clearly refers to a complex aspect of being. We are all able to be described in terms of our many fixed characteristics, or aspects of being. Of course, these do not necessarily spring from nothing, but once formed (nature and nurture, perhaps) they just 'are'.

(Your dialogue with Erika):
Relational/parenting issues are the easiest thing in the world to undermine as putative causal factors in orientation. I am one of five children - yet different from the other four, who had the same family circumstances. Millions of other people could say the same; perhaps you have a brother or sister that proves this point?

(Your dialogue with JCF):
God loves us. He loves you. He loves me. This is something we definitely agree on, so please don't deny his overwhelming love. Perfect love casts out fear.

The love of God is reaching out to you, and to me, and to all who trust on His name; I believe that in your heart you truly wish to be faithful to that love. Even though we disagree about what is essential for us to abide in that love, may His peace be with you today, my friend.

Posted by: Paul H on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 1:20am BST

Who recalls those discussions with people who say they have "eldest child" issues, or "only child", or "middle child" or "youngest child"?

One thing they all have in common is a bunch of people trying to blame their circumstances for what they are.

There's that "R" word - responsibility.

You're here on this planet, so you might as well accept it and get on with living with it. We can spend eternity throwing rocks at each other, or we can just accept that God has thrown a diverse mish mash of souls together, added sentience and free will and then given us the chance to make something beautiful.

Of course, some will continue to be the whining Adams who blame someone else or their circumstances or God. But the sensible ones will know they are just complainers to whom this adage should apply "If you refuse to be part of the solution, then get out of the way of the ones who are".

Hosea 6:4-10 "Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Like Adam, they have broken the covenant—they were unfaithful to me there. Gilead is a city of wicked men, stained with footprints of blood. As marauders lie in ambush for a man,so do bands of priests..."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 1:27am BST

Excellent post Nick Thompson.

Ford, I'd be delighted to save myself a lot of trouble and tax money if we could just defer all our decisions about everything to The Elect (whoever they are, and I don't see God poking His head through the veil of time and space to point them out to us). Think of it, no more legislatures, no more laws, no more bothersome elections, and we could grant them absolute police powers to purify the planet of the abnormal.
Oh, I see that's been tried already, and many times.

"I just do think that God's opinion on what constitutes a sexual sin is different from late 20th century humanism's view!"

What humanism? The philosophies I see dominating these days are religious fanaticism and nihilism, neither of which care a damn about anything humane. Humanity is just so much meat in the grinder to Holy Man and Money Man alike.
Ours is the age of the suicide bomber where fanaticism and nihilism meet.

Posted by: counterlight on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 1:34am BST

"Beloved - let us love one another"

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 1:43am BST

Hmm, so now we are supposed to believe the repeat conservative mantra that nobody hates queer folks, and of course, the added spin doctored line, I only have the queer folks best interests at heart, really I do, ever so much.

Sorry, cannot buy it. If we were relying on conservative believers to offer us queer folks civil rights or human rights protections - you know the deal, work plus housing protections plus equality of access to opportunities and resources involving even-handedness and involving merit considerations when particular queer folks meet those standards - we should still no doubt be waiting invisibly, without a hint of any good change in the air.

We do have some positive changes in some places around the planet, thank goodness. The idea that conservative believers get credit for any of them is so absurd as to make the assertion embarrassing on its face. No thanks, dear conservative believers, as I for one cannot sit by silent while you try to step up in public discussion, as if you could take any credit at all for the hard won progress we sometimes have made in improving the daily lives of queer folks. Shame on you for trying such a ploy.

Alas. Lord have mercy.

Further. Queer folks are empirically just as natural in any sense of the word as straight folks, as so much of the data is now clear. Having a troubled family configuration will make one neurotic or not, as complex factors interact, nature x nurture; but none of that has anything at all to do with sexual orientation.

No, I repeat, no causal connect obtains between sexual orientation and any known fundamental detriment in intellectual, ethical, emotional, or other basic human capacities.

All we have to do to demonstrate the falsity of the claim is apply it to straight people in just the way it gets applied to queer folks. So, next time a straight person messes up really bad in public, let's all rush to preach how being straight has caused the problem without a doubt.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 2:03am BST

davidwh

"God loves everybody incredibly, He blesses everybody who comes to Him, and He uses people as His ministers." He, Him, He His!!! So are we calling God, The Divine a HE?

Secondly, would you go to a doctor who practiced medicine using the same tools, having the same education as someone who lived between 2000 and 3000 years ago? Why is it so many people condemn so many others based on a book written between 2000 and 3000 years ago?? We seem so hell bent on knowing the mind of God instead of following the example of Christ.

Sorry if thats a bit direct Just don't know any other way to put it.
Peace

Posted by: Bob in SW PA on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 2:27am BST

Nick T,

People will do what they will do (and find a way to rationalize it), but the aim in reasonable conversation is to see what is true.

In creation order - nature if you want - it is clear male and female are designed for relation, and without that you would not be here to dispute it! Most people in most societies who have reflected on this seriously have recognized it, and scripture even when surrounding culture existed in confusion is clear about this. That is the first and the basic point.

The second, as to harm, it is not always clear on first sight or first thought what is harmful (e.g. various matters like chidren watching hours of TV daily, blatant pornography, polygamy etc have all been rationalized in this way).

So you ask about harm, well have you thought about the effect of this attitude itself? The playboy philosophy has had its part in promoting homosexuality and trivializing sexuality (with the chief commandment of "condoms for everyone"). Has it produced stronger family life and relations? Does the degradation of family life matter?

On the one side with reference to certain people you speak easily of "conscientious consideration" and then of others you speak of "cultural squeamishness," and "discredited prejudices" - talk about prejudice, you are installed in it!

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 2:32am BST

"I just do think that God's opinion on what constitutes a sexual sin is different from late 20th century humanism's view!"

From a 21st century HUMAN's view (mine), I think you know "God's opinion" on precious little, DavidWh (I know I don't---well, I might venture as far as "Do justice and love kindness", but no further!)

Seriously: I find the equation of "sexual sin" with MARITAL INTIMACY---in ANY marriage, of any two loving spouses---truly revolting. Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 4:07am BST

Ben W,

If we're talking about creation order, do you think old people should have heterosexual sex? If there is no possibility of procreation, is sex between a married couple to be seen positively, and if so, why? (Bear in mind that we may be talking about people who married aged in their 50s/60s and for whom procreative sex was never part of their married life). In the early church the expectation was certainly that the old (even within a marriage) must be continent. Are you arguing for this stance?

Posted by: magistra on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 7:46am BST

"The playboy philosophy has had its part in promoting homosexuality and trivializing sexuality (with the chief commandment of "condoms for everyone")."

Playboy is priceless, I wish I had thought of it!

You mean like those historically well documented rabid gays like Cassanova in all his different names across the planet, the gigolos in all their facets, all those males in the Bible who needed mistresses as well as wives, the Kings in our history (I'm thinking here first and foremost of that well known gay Henry VIII)... and that appallingly camp inventor of Playboy (can't think of his name right now) and his myriad of homosexual successors in the porn industry.

Not to forget that most of the great literature canon is littered with stories of poor virgin girls ruined because of the advances of women hating gays.

We're absolutely run over by gay culture, aren't we, and it's a real warning just how destructive to family life it has been throughout the ages.

As for condoms - you're so right! Think of all those wives infected with syphilis in the past by their purely homosexual husbands who strayed so faithlessly where no straight man would have failed.
And the fascinating fact that there are millions of female prostitutes - all desperately competing for the favours of those awfully immoral homosexuals.

We really must do everything to drive faithful loving gay families to extinction in order to rescue our pure heterosexual society.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 8:21am BST

Ben W wrote: “People will do what they will do (and find a way to rationalize it), but the aim in reasonable conversation is to see what is true. “

True enough. You do it all the Time.

Ben W wrote: “”…In creation order - nature if you want - it is clear male and female are designed for relation…”

Designed???

Ben W wrote: “That is the first and the basic point.”

I find it funny that this “first and the basic point“ was invented only in 1978, in California by one Don Williams in a book: The Bond That Breaks: Will Homosexuality Split the Church?

Sometimes it has been available used from Amazon, but it isn’t now, so no link.

It seems very few have read it.

An answer in 1989; A Critique of Creationist Homophobia by GR Edwards, Wheaton College Illinois, when of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Richard Hasbany ed: Homosexuality and Religion (both Christian and Jewish authors): http://books.google.fr/books?hl=sv&lr=&id=Sa0o1kwQRtMC&oi=fnd&pg=PA95&dq=Don+Williams+%22The+Bond+That+Breaks:+Will+Homosexuality+Split+the+Church%3F%22&ots=IyFxRnJD1H&sig=j347ay85_hOeWjYIJdP_nD3AB-c#PPA94,M1

So how can it be basic? “First” it ain’t. No author I know of has ever suggested such a thing before the American Social policies of late modernity.

The only exception I know of is a certain Professor Schlyter at Upsala, who in his 1837 lectures on the history of law tried to defend the beating of Wives (already in disrepute by then, but stricken from the books only in 1908!) “for the lower class of people”, only, justifying sub-ordination by Genesis 1:27 and 2:24!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 9:53am BST

The only exception I know of is a certain Professor Schlyter at Upsala, who in his 1837 lectures on the history of law tried to defend the beating of Wives (already in disrepute by then, but stricken from the books in 1908!) “for the lower class of people”, only, justifying sub-ordination by Genesis 1:27 and 2:24!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 9:54am BST

Magistra wrote: "In the early church the expectation was certainly that the old (even within a marriage) must be continent."

Quotes please!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 9:56am BST

Its interesting that nearly all of those who claim not to be gay any longer are religionists of a conservative nature.
The issue is that the actual problem here is the religion. Give up the religion, and there is no problem with being gay.
There is no point in trying to make conservative religion more gay friendly. The aim should be to oppose conservative religion and everything about it.
The first step must be abandonment of the nonsense that somehow conservative and liberal Christianity is the same. They are totally, utterly different. That is the one thing which religious conservatives recognise and religious liberals seem to be reluctant to face.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 11:17am BST

I always wince when people dicmiss the word 'humanism' , as though it were purely (or 'impurely'?) secular - without spiritual implications.

It has been said that the glory of God is shown in humanity fully alive - is that humanism? It certainly has a connection with humanity; being made in the image and likeness of God.

And what about the whole process of the Incarnation of Jesus? Was that not a case of the Most High God wanting to identify with his human children - in a way that was unmistakably, and irrevocably humanist? If God was happy about Jesus sharing our humanity with God's divinity - that ought to be good enough for anyone.

It does seem, from the Scriptures, that God is inextricably bound up with humanism/humanity.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 12:18pm BST

Strictly speaking "humanism" is the same as Platonism, making "man" the measure of things, not God.

It is entirely uncompatible with any thought of Incarnation.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 1:37pm BST

The point being that “humanism” is i n h u m a n e.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 1:39pm BST

davidwh,
Gay people, especially of my generation, have spent their lives rescuing themselves from a culture that told them they were voluntarily evil, sick, predators of children, and fully deserving of punishment, even death, people whose families were fully justified to, indeed, some would say required to, abandon them. When you speak in terms of "SSAs" and such like, you are seen, rightly or wrongly, as coming from that oppressive culture. Think of it this way: the traditional view of the Annunciation is of God telling Mary what He wanted and of her subserviently obeying her obviously male master, which she as a woman ought to do. (Don't jump on me, that's not my understanding, but it IS how it was thought of). But there is another way. God sent Gabriel to Mary to tell her of His plan to bring justice to the poor and the outcast, to lift up the downtrodden, to overturn the seats of power and wealth, and to restore all of Creation, fallen through our disobedience, to the state He had intended for it. He needed to be born, and he wanted her to be His mother, to nurse Him, change His diapers, punish Him when He was naughty, and all the things a mother does. Her response was "God wants ME to be a part of this?!?!? How can I possibly say no? Let God do what He wants to do!" Seen in this way, it's obvious why she stayed a virgin: when you're called to be a part of something so huge, sex becomes pretty meaningless. See the difference? The traditional ideas of God's plan of salvation, obedience to His will, and the perpetual virginity of Mary are all preserved, yet in a way modern people can relate to. So, the question is, do you want to draw people to the Gospel, or are you more interested in proving your own rightness over those you see as faithlessly trying to subvert that Gospel? You can do one or the other, but not both.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 4:52pm BST

David Wh
Sorry, I only saw your question to me now:
"Erica, I would love to know your observations on whether lost relationships with your mother may be a factor in women who are in long-term homosexual relationships."

I don't know much about lesbian and bi-sexual women's relationships with their mothers, I only really know my own that that of my partner.

I was extremely close to my mother, who was a difficult woman with mental health problems but a devoted mother to her three children. She died when I was in my 30s, still happily married to my father.

My partner's mother is still very close to all her 3 children and her grandchildren. She has been widowed for the last 12 years but has a new partner. Both she and her partner have welcomed me with open arms, have "adopted" my children as their grandchildren, and have last year moved to a retirement village close to us.

I have grown up knowing from about aged 16 that I could love women as easily as men, but it was never an issue that troubled me at all. I have always known that some people can only love those of the other sex, some only those of the same sex, and that some are capable of loving people from either sex.
I happened to fall in love with my husband first and so married and had my children, but it could easily have been the case that I had fallen in love with a woman and stayed with her instead.

To me and my parents this has never been a moral issue at all. My father, incidentally, immediately welcomed my partner into our family and wrote her a welcoming email within the first few hours of hearing about our relationship, and we are both very close to him.

And just to round things off, my partner's adult children have been very welcoming to me from the beginning and keep telling me how much happier their mother is now than they've ever known her before.
And my girls have had no problems with my partner and have never hesitated to invite all their friends round, have them round for sleepovers etc.

Anecdotal evidence only, but I’m afraid it’s all I’ve got.

It’s only the extreme forms of conservative religion that turn normal loving relationships into problems.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 6:42pm BST

"The first step must be abandonment of the nonsense that somehow conservative and liberal Christianity is the same. They are totally, utterly different. That is the one thing which religious conservatives recognise and religious liberals seem to be reluctant to face." - Posted by Merseymike

MM, I *would* do this---resolve that "conservative and liberal Christianity ... are totally, utterly different"---if I could do so in some SYSTEMATIC way, beyond "Conservative Christianity is an alien religion, because I disagree w/ it."

I mean, it would be easy, if conservative Christians formed their faith upon the Qur'an!

But they don't: they're formed by the same Bible as we liberals (e.g. Anglicans!) are. In the West, for the first 1500-1800 years at least, their sources of Tradition are the same (obviously, a split begins between Reformed and Roman Christians in this era).

Essentially, then, it comes down to Reason. Now *I* am not going to claim to be an Unreasoning Christian . . . but I don't think the DavidWh's and BenW's are, either! ;-/

So, like it or not, we're STUCK with each other, as "Christians". Full-stop. (IMO)

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 7:32pm BST

You see David Wh, it isn't what is said, it what really happened and how does it REALLY apply to our situation today. Bob in SW Pa said it best, do you apply ancient prescriptions to modern day ailments?

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 9:24pm BST

"their sources of Tradition are the same"

I disagree, JCF. At least as far forth as we are talking about Evangelical Conservatives. Their position is actually an explicit rejection of much of the Tradition of the first 1000-1500 years. That was the point of the Reformation, after all: the Church had become corrupt as a result of following the "traditions of men" and the only way to return to True Christianity was to return to the Scriptures as the only reliable source of information as to what the truth actually was. The extent to which this attitude informed the various bodies is variable, the English were certainly far more conservative than, say, the Hutterites. But they were too conservative for many English people, so every century or so we have had splinter groups here and there separate themselves from the "impure", who are still enslaved to the "traditions of men". In frustration, I sometimes come out with the :"we're two different religions", but that just frustration. There are people in both camps who get it, and people who don't, and I don't think it's fair to say that just because people have redefined things like sacrament and redemption and all the other innovations that came from the Reformation, they don't understand what love is. Some of "them" don't, some do, same with "us". And if they inderstand that, they've, as the Orthodox say, "seen the True Light".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 25 August 2008 at 1:15pm BST

Bob SW Pa,

How "modern" can you be? If you want to be really modern don't listen to anything from yesterday, last year, last decade, last century . . . ?

You ask why listen to "a book written between 2000 and 3000 years ago??" If you think that
is the issue you might as well ask, why be a Christian because the witness to Jesus in word and deed is that old?

In the first place this is inane and empty ... truth is matter of time or how old it is? Having just come through the most violent and in some ways most degrading century in human history do you really want to make that the standard for what is true or good?

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 25 August 2008 at 3:03pm BST

"If you want to be really modern don't listen to anything from yesterday, last year, last decade, last century . . . ?"

But, Ben, there's a difference between rejecting all that has gone before and practicing the Tradition with a modern understanding. Were I to become ill, I would certainly send for the priest and receive the sacrament of Unction, but I wouldn't look to it for a physical cure. If God responds to it by curing my body, great, but perhaps it's my spirit, not my body, that needs the healing. To claim Genesis is allegory is not to deny that God created all that is. It isn't rejecting the Tradition, but rejection of some of the ways that past cultures interpreted that Tradition with their own cultural blinkers. We might, of course, be doing the same thing, but surely both sides are guilty of that. Is it fair to say that you mistrust the idea of "new revelation"? That such "revelation" can't be trusted to be of the Spirit, unless it's confirmed in the Bible? But if we were to take that approach, much of what we now understand to be Christianity would simply not exist, so there has to be a better test of what comes from the Spirit than what is confirmed by the words of Scripture. Many would say it is found in how much a supposed "new revelation" concurs with the 'mind of Scripture'. A new revelation that tells us to go out and kill people of another faith is clearly not in accord with the 'mind of Scripture'. Is acceptance of gay people the same?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 25 August 2008 at 7:08pm BST

You are caricaturing yourself Ben W.

Modern has got nothing to do with year or hour but with a shift in concepts which happened in the 19th century ;=)

Urbanization, Industrialization, Genders (from 1 to 2);

Symmetry not sub-ordination, Equality not inequality; Essentialism,

Medicine, Science, and so on.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 25 August 2008 at 8:45pm BST

Having just come through the most violent and in some ways most degrading century in human history do you really want to make that the standard for what is true or good?

Ben W

Schucks, no sense learning from our violent and degranding experiences...let's just gouge some more eyes out, burn a few heretics and stick more logs in our eyes...naw, blind and deadly stupidity/arrogance, fear/hate and greed ought be defended as Godly TRUTH at all costs...afterall, vile behavior is part of OUR Christian Tradition! How TRUE!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Monday, 25 August 2008 at 9:54pm BST

Ben W, you are more and more becoming a parody of yourself. You may find CS Lewis’ word “chronological snobbery” to be amusing, but he was wrong. Modernity is not a question of date or hour, nor of snobbery; it’s a succession of Concepts that changed in the 19th century.

No one escapes their Time. To be anti Modern, one has to be Modern first.

Urbanization, Industrialization (instead of agriculture), Middle class society (instead of status);

Equality, Symmetry, Opposite (instead of sub-ordination);

Gender (2 instead of 1).

Not least, the abolishment of the principle of the pater familias (become fascism).

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 at 7:10am BST

IF the Archbishop of Cantebury is correct concerning bible references to homosexuality actually referring to 2 heterosexuals lying together or indeed Bishop Gene Robinson correct that it refers to A boy and man, What boundaries are set-out in scripture for same-sex attraction given that scripture is God breathed? Perhaps someone can offer their view on this.

Posted by: David W on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 at 4:28pm BST

"scripture is God breathed"

Clearly, there is nothing that speaks of an acceptable gay union on its face. But what evidence is there for a Trinity on its face? You'd think, Scripture being "God breathed", something so important as the nature of the Divine would be spelled out? What does "God- breathed" mean? It is used in the Epistles, and has become something of an Evangelical catch phrase, but what does it mean?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 at 6:49pm BST

David W:

The same ones that are set out for opposite-sex attraction--that it be fulfilled within the confines of a loving, monogamous, faithful (and faith-filled) relationship between consenting adults.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 at 8:52pm BST

Ford,

I think you are trying to understand my thought.

You ask what I think about "new revelation." I think a lot of people talking about new revelation are looking for a way to rationalize what they want or are already doing (think of the Mormons who had been excluding black people from a full place in their system until recently - then they had a revelation to include them when it was becoming a handicap - very convenient!).

The idea of the Reformation was in fact to prune "much of what we now understand to be Christianity." If there is better "test" to discern "what comes from the Spirit than what is confirmed by the words of Scripture" what is it? You will note that I said "based on Christ and in continuity with Christ" - it has the same character and in line with but not simply repetition. Your what "concurs with the 'mind of Scripture'" is close. You might also refer to my note to Peter in the thread above.

Ben W


Posted by: Ben W on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 at 10:52pm BST

Bob, you write:-

"Why is it so many people condemn so many others based on a book written between 2000 and 3000 years ago?? We seem so hell bent on knowing the mind of God instead of following the example of Christ."

There's a problem here, is there not? What do you know of "the example of Christ" apart from what you have read in the book written "between 2000 and 3000 years ago"?

The only Jesus we have is the one in the gospels so what does "following the example of Christ" actually mean? Do you give as much attention to those parts of his teachings that are unpalatable in our culture, on divorce for example, as you do to, say, the sermon on the mount?

Posted by: Fern Winter on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 at 3:15am BST

Fern,

re your point about Bob's comment "Why is it so many people condemn so many others based on a book written 2,000 to 3,000 years ago"?

As far as I know, nothing included in the canon of the New Testament was written during that period, so this does not invalidate Bob's comment - about the need to question the Old Testamental witness to sexuality, et al.

My own examples of the life and witness of the Incarnate Word in Jesus Christ have all been derived from the Apostolic Letters and Gospels of the New Testament. They reveal a Christ who sometimes seemed to defy the legalism of the Scribes and Pharisees - whose testimony was based solely on the Old Testament.

Jesus is reported to have announced a brand New Covenant - 'not like the Covenant their ancestors made' - but the covenant 'in his blood', which has secured salvation for those who believe in Jesus as Son of God, Saviour and Redeemer of ALL.

Thanks be to God!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 at 11:16am BST

But the boundaries set down for opposite sex attraction are with in the confines of marriage, which is defined as between a man and a woman.Sex outside of marriage is outside the boundary even within a monogamous loving relationship. By God breathed I mean that it is not Paul speaking on his own authority but the Spirit of Jesus teaching through Paul. As regards myself the Spirit is clear with regard to his leading and comforts me in my singleness and chastity. Within my own church the prayer ministry team of which I am part listen to God. On a number of occasions we felt that God was saying something to us to emphasis to the congregation. We err on the side of caution and say nothing but find that often the first thing the vicar says is what we thought we were hearing from GOd. So in something as significant as the bible through which God is speaking to all people I find it very hard not to accept that Paul's prohibitions are God's prohibitions

Posted by: David W on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 at 12:44pm BST

"I think a lot of people talking about new revelation are looking for a way to rationalize what they want or are already doing"

But this applies just as much to anyone, including the heros of the Reformation. You look back and see purifiers of the faith. I look back and see people who saw the need for reform, but pride got in the way. Think teenager yelling "You're not the boss of me!" How else do we understand the hubris of people 1500 years after the fact claiming that they know the tradition better than men who actually heard it from Jesus Himself, or from His Apostles, or their followers? They rationalized their own human need to be right by introducing the radical concept that the only place to find out about God was Scripture. We could just as easily say that the Nicene Fathers "rationalized" their belief that Christ was both God and Man.

"If there is better "test" to discern "what comes from the Spirit...what is it?"

What it has always been, the Body of believers indwelled by the Spirit. Of course Scripture is probably our primary resource for doing this, but the ecclesia decides what those Scriptures mean.

David Wh,
"By God breathed I mean that it is not Paul...."

No-one disputes the first point, and I am glad that God comforts you on the path He has called you to just as He does for me in my path. As to the last statement, who do you think the rest of us listen to? And what's the "Spirit of Jesus"? I honestly don't understand the term.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 at 1:59pm BST

"As regards myself the Spirit is clear with regard to his leading and comforts me in my singleness and chastity."

And don't ever let anything said here, by me or anyone, serve as a temptation for doubt in weak times. You have discerned a call to walk a particular path, and the Enemy will definitely use these discussions as a means of increasing self doubt to distract you from that path. You know how to handle that, though.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 at 2:41pm BST

David W wrote: “By God breathed I mean that it is not Paul speaking on his own authority but the Spirit of Jesus teaching through Paul.”

David W wrote: “I find it very hard not to accept that Paul's prohibitions are God's prohibitions…“

You may believe what you will, but this is entirely subjective and contrary to what most exegetes think. The Pastorals, from which “God breathed” comes, are not Paul but probably a century too late. The same goes for 1 Cor 11 and 14, from which other statements, mis-used as “prohibitions” in later time, come, se The New Jerome page 811.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 at 3:02pm BST

"But the boundaries set down for opposite sex attraction are with in the confines of marriage, which is defined as between a man and a woman."

Defined so where? In the Bible? Please point to a definition of marriage in that book. There are assumptions that can be made...but are those assumptions based only on the cultural references of the Israelites and their Jewish descendants?

Here we come down to the real conundrum: We declare to you that sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin...and we deny to you the ability to marry those you love....Can you not see how this is setting up the gay man or woman for failure? Would a loving God do that?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 at 9:51pm BST

Pat

Part of me wishes to agree with you but my own thought on it are that God permits alot of suffering but God is with us in our suffering and hence he is loving - in my own case both parents killed in separate car crashes. The experience of many people is that they are not spared suffering but rather it is part of life.

Posted by: DAvid W on Thursday, 28 August 2008 at 5:50pm BST

David Wh
but this is not God inflicted suffering, it's entirely man made. Nothing forces you to accept that the condemnation of predominantly heterosexual men having sex with boys, or of homosexual temple prostitution, have any bearing on the marriage-like relationships we are discussing here.

You can even continue to read the bible in your more literal way. In fact, you could almost turn the argument on its head and say that because the condemnation does not apply to the kind of relationships we see today, we are falsifying God's will by ignoring the circumstances in which the condemnation was pronounced just to please our own prejudices.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 29 August 2008 at 8:59am BST

Erica

Thank you for sharing your story (your posting of 24 Aug). I think that loving relationships, between people of both sexes, are what we should all be always aiming for.

The issue is whether in God's view same-sex sex is a sinful disorder (like incest, remarriage after divorce, or polygamy for instance). In all those cases relationships are not always necessarily abusive - people do often genuinely feel "blissfully happy", that what they are doing is "natural" and a source of joy, and that it is bound to a loving relationship. The moral problem in each case is that it distorts relationships - whether within a family, with the wider family and previous spouse, or within the exclusive absolute commitment of a married couple.

Our relationships are intended to reflect who God is, not who we "are"; and to last for eternity. We all fall short and can be forgiven when we repent, but that is far from meaning that everything is "ok".

Posted by: davidwh on Saturday, 30 August 2008 at 11:47pm BST

David Wh
Thank you for your constructive reply.

You say "The moral problem in each case is that it distorts relationships", but you don't offer a reason for how it might distort relationships.

If they're lived exactly like a marriage then what do they distort?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 31 August 2008 at 10:02am BST

"The issue is whether in God's view same-sex sex is a sinful disorder (like incest, remarriage after divorce, or polygamy for instance)."

It will come as a great surprise to the Eastern Orthodox that remarriage after divorce is necessarily a sin. It will come as a greater surprise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that polygamy is, too.

Posted by: BillyD on Sunday, 31 August 2008 at 1:18pm BST

"Our relationships are intended to reflect who God is, not who we "are"; and to last for eternity..."

Not if we're talking about marriage. Christians believe that the marriage bond is "til death us do part." Mormons, on the other hand, believe that marriage is "for time and eternity."

Posted by: BillyD on Monday, 1 September 2008 at 12:05am BST

"Our relationships are intended to reflect who God is, not who we "are"; and to last for eternity."

To pick up what BillyD said, "in the Kingdom they neither marry nor are given in marriage". Marriage is something of the world, not of the Kingdom. In reflection, you might realize the extremity of this statement, but the fact you so easily make this error says something about your overemphasis of marriage.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 1 September 2008 at 3:29pm BST
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