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Source: (consider it) Thread: Biblical interpretation of apparently anti-gay passages
Eliab
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An argument in Hell has touched on the theme of the correct interpretation of the Biblical passages relating to homosexuality, which is probably more suitable here. Steve Langton's posts in Hell suggest (to me - if I misrepresent him he can correct me) that he views the anti-gay statements in (for example) Romans 1 as binding, and, further, that he thinks this passage is to be interpreted as if St Paul's subjective opinion were also authoritative - so that even if Romans 1 does not absolutely and expressly condemn all homosexual relationships whatsoever we should still read it that way because it is overwhelmingly likely that St Paul would have so condemned them.

I'm going to argue for an alternative approach to interpretation. But I'll start with an important concession - I think the objective meaning of the text, as far as we can get at it, is anti-gay. By which I mean, that if I was reading the Romans 1 & 2 argument for the first time, with all specifically Jewish and Christian references removed, and simply told "This is part of a letter from one of the leaders of a sect founded in the Roman empire in the first century, which came to be treated by that sect as authoritative" and then asked "Do you think that members of that sect were allowed to form homosexual relationships?" I would say that I thought that incredibly unlikely. Coming to the text as impartially as possible, an anti-gay reading would be almost inescapeable. Of course, that would not change my personal views on homosexuality at all.

But coming to the same text as scripture is (on my view) different. I'm not asking primarily what the author meant. I don't take the inferred but unexpressed opinions of the author as being all that important. I'm asking what God is saying through the passage. And by "God" I mean the ultimate moral authority in the universe. Analysing a human document, such as the teaching material of a religion I don't belong to, I ask "What does this mean? Is it right?". In that order. Interpreting scripture reverses the process, because I'm going to have to believe, and try to live by, my conclusions. I come to it expecting it to be right, then ask "What does this mean?".

An anti-gay ethic is, as far as human reasoning can tell, simply wrong. Finding anti-gay passages in scripture feels to me like reading a paper by the best possible historian, and finding it assumed, without argument or explanation, that Napolean won the battle of Waterloo. I can't accept the assertion, yet I can't deny the vastly superior quality of the source. Therefore, it isn't a practical option to accept the obvious reading of the text uncritically. If Napolean did in fact win at Waterloo, then I'm a historical imbecile. I can't be trusted to have learned any true history at all if I'm wrong about that. And, similarly, if love of the sort I celebrate 90%+ of the time is suddenly an abominable sin when the (morally irrelevant) factor of the sex of the actor changes, then I'm a moral imbecile. None of my moral intuitions, whether taken from scripture or any other sources, can be trusted. Trying to believe what is, to me, plainly untrue, ends all discussion - I can't even trust the thing I'm trying to believe, because I must confess myself utterly incompetent to conclude anything at all.

So I'm going to consider any possible alternative interpretation to that. In the historical example, I might consider whether the writer is talking about the same thing - whether there was some other, lesser known, encounter near Waterloo at which the Emperor triumphed. I might consider whether the passage could be ironic - suggesting perhaps "this conclusion is so strong that it should be apparent even to those who think Napolean won at Waterloo". I might consider whether the statement was true by some unconventional criterion (say, Napolean "won" personally because he showed superior generalship, even though his army lost). Even if those alternative readings were ones I wouldn't think to apply on an 'objective' reading (that is, a reading which allowed me to reject the text as utterly unreliable history) I would be forced to consider them if I believed the source to be beyond reproach. It would be my respect for the writer than would force me to search for a way to read the words truthfully.

I'm arguing that this is a legitimate, and respectful, approach to scripture. And it is, I think, exactly the approach we take, often without noticing, when looking at other "hard" passages. When the Bible regulates, but does not condemn, the practice of slavery, we have no hesitation in seeing that the "inspired" part of the message is that "even a slave is a human being with rights", and our certainty that slavery itself is a moral evil is undisturbed. We are untroubled by the extreme likelihood that the human author almost certainly saw nothing very wrong in slavery - his inferred, but not explicitly stated, opinions carry no moral weight with us whatsoever. On matters of history, geology, biology, cosmology and also morality, we read the Bible in such a way as to be consistent with what we know to be true, and we are untroubled by the fact that the human authors did not always know what we know.

Hence the argument going on in Hell. Obviously the anti-gay side need secular arguments against homosexuality to win over the secularists (and have yet to produce any) - I contend that they also need secular arguments to win over a significant number of Bible-believing Christians. They would need to convince me that there is an argument (other than 'authority') that homosexuality is wrong that I can at least begin to understand before I am obliged to read scripture that way. I have too much faith that God is good to believe of him what seems to me to be evil. Even if the most natural, objective, reading of scripture supports something that I know to be wrong, it seems to me that not only am I not bound to accept it, I am bound NOT to accept it, to prefer any even remotely plausible alternative as being more likely, and that this is a worthier, more faithful, more consistent, more believing, approach to Biblical interpretation than that of my opponents on this issue. Because even my opponents would not dispute that slavery is wrong and that the earth goes around the sun.

[ 04. April 2016, 09:30: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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hatless

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Yes, I agree with this. We need to notice that we in fact cheerfully disagree with scripture about marriage, usury, the rights and roles of women and, as you say, slavery. Disagree is dressed up as 'interpret correctly', of course, but it achieves the same.

Romans 1 and 2 is interesting since it is the only extended treatment of sexual morality that considers same sex practices, and there is a position being developed and argued for. Apart from this we have only lists of 'bad things'.

But the position being developed is curiously unclear. The portion of the argument in Romans 1 is descriptive, not prescriptive. It has the form 'this is what we see going on'. Actually rather close to 'this is what everyone knows' or 'as any fool knows'.

But Romans 2 cashes in the set up with a resounding 'do not judge anyone else'.

Is this the most important anti-anti-gay text in the Bible? A case can be made, I think, at least that Paul uses immoral same sex activity as an illustration in an argument with a cunning reversal at its heart that actually makes a powerful case against prejudice and discrimination against same sex orientation and loving same sex relationships.

But since we don't use the Bible to read off instructions, it doesn't matter all that much in this instance, except that it enables us to read Paul as someone with brains and consistency who understood the Christian community as a place where walls are to be broken down and God in Christ experienced by participation in grace.

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Barnabas62
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I think it was Rowan Williams (in his salad days) who observed that the polemic in Romans 1 is about "unnatural behaviour". Paul was, like all of his time, unaware of the fact that same sex attraction is as natural to homosexuals as opposite sex attraction is to heterosexuals. It simply wasn't in his mental map.

What was undoubtedly in his map was 1st century licentiousness, which he saw as wrong both in terms of Judaism and of Christianity. All homosexual behaviour was classified as licentious, along with fornication and other kinds of casual sex. I think you can see that not just in Romans 1.

So I think it is perfectly sensible to see these passages in those terms. The real target was sexual immorality in the forms we would describe today as objectification, or using people. And the real antidote was faithfulness and unselfish, giving, love in all relationship. Shorn of the cultural sexism, that's the essense of Ephesians 5 for example.

As always, I think you have to get at the underlying principles which motivated the author. Of course anyone is free to argue that I'm reading this stuff from a 21st century perspective. Maybe I am?

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Gee D
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Reading Romans and Leviticus, we used take the attitude "Hate the sin, love the sinner" which still is AIUI the present RC position. We've moved on from that to our present position that there's much more ambiguity in Romans than was previously thought and it is not in fact Paul preaching against sex between men. Rather, he was condemning both the adoption of any sexual behaviour in religious ceremonies and licentiousness in general.

We don't think that the same can be said of Leviticus. That is very explicit and lacking in ambiguity. The condemnation there for us falls to be characterised as being of the same family as much of that book (generally speaking, a set of rules designed to keep the priests fed well) as being supplanted by the Incarnation of the Word.

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hatless

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I think he was referring to the generally held condemnation of cultic sex and sexual exploitation of minors and slaves in order to condemn judgementalism.

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Steve Langton
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by Barnabas62;
quote:
Paul was, like all of his time, unaware of the fact that same sex attraction is as natural to homosexuals as opposite sex attraction is to heterosexuals.
"Same sex attraction" NOT a problem. Same sex sexual acts, problem.
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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
by Barnabas62;
quote:
Paul was, like all of his time, unaware of the fact that same sex attraction is as natural to homosexuals as opposite sex attraction is to heterosexuals.
"Same sex attraction" NOT a problem. Same sex sexual acts, problem.
Nothing like begging the question to prove your point.
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Gamaliel
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Ok, but would you - or I or anyone else who might not be attracted to people of the same sex be so glib about that if the boot were on the other foot and we were told that something that seemed natural to us was going to be out of bounds?

Voluntary celibacy is one thing, enforced celibacy another.

I think Rowan Williams was spot on in his analysis of the Apostle Paul's point in Romans.

I'm pretty sure that he would not have approved of same-sex relationships in any way, shape or form - and I've seen it suggested that his views on sexusl mores in general were rather more conservative than was common in the Judaism of his time - previous generations of rabbis could be rather ambivalent about prostitution for instance.

I'm pretty sure Paul isn't craftily sending up a strict and puritanical view - I don't think it would have entered his worldview to consider same-sex sexual activity as in any way acceptable.

If we argue that he was simply concerned about cultic prostitution or abusive and predatory relationships - masters raping slaves - then we still have to deal with his outright condemnation of female same-sex activity - which he clearly regarded as contrary to nature.

The issue, then, is what do we do about it today? Is proscribing same-sex sexual activity pastorally helpful or damaging? Is it even feasible or desirable?

Conservative Christians also proscribe heterosexual sex outside marriage but that doesn't stop it happening

How do you go about 'enforcing' these things?

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ThunderBunk

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The fundamental fallacy at the heart of the conservative position is that they are at the mercy of biblical texts that can only possibly have the meaning they attribute to them because the conservatives do not interpret anything and their reading is immanent to the texts whereas the readings of liberals are imposed. This is utter nonsense. All interpretation is carried out by readers, so if a reading is inhumane and demeaning to a particular group, so is the reader.

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hatless

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Where does Paul condemn female same sex activity? Are you talking about Romans 1? "Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural." Might that not mean anal intercourse (with men), rather than same sex acts? This, I believe, is how it was understood in the early Christian centuries.

And Paul does not condemn it, he simply refers to it.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Might that not mean anal intercourse (with men), rather than same sex acts? This, I believe, is how it was understood in the early Christian centuries.

And Paul does not condemn it, he simply refers to it.

Understood by who? Not in any literature I've come across
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hatless

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I'm know nothing about Patristics, but I read an article by James Alison who said this was the only understanding of this verse up until the Fourth Century.

It's interesting that although it doesn't say same sex acts, just unnatural, it really is very hard for us to read it in any other way. But when you think about it, there are all sorts of unnatural.

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

Conservative Christians also proscribe heterosexual sex outside marriage but that doesn't stop it happening

How do you go about 'enforcing' these things?

They do their darndest to make people feel enough shame that they refrain or - more likely - keep their lives away from Church like a deep, shameful secret.

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Steve Langton
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by Barnabas62;
quote:
Paul was, like all of his time, unaware of the fact that same sex attraction is as natural to homosexuals as opposite sex attraction is to heterosexuals. It simply wasn't in his mental map.
Actually as I read Romans - and hatless above seems to be seeing something similar - Paul is actually saying he sees same sex attraction as natural to homosexuals, as something they "can't help".

The word/concept 'Natural' is used in the Bible
in two distinct ways depending on context. It can either mean "Natural as in the way God created things to be", or it can mean "Natural as in what 'comes naturally' to sinful men in a fallen world". Paul is saying that acts of 'gay sex' are unnatural in the former sense, but natural in the latter sense.

The biblical position overall is that 'naturally' in the first sense people are meant to love/be-attracted-to other people simply as people, but that sex is intended only for those who are married (which by biblical definition is heterosexual). All other sex acts, straight or gay, are unnatural in that first sense, no matter how much they may 'come naturally' in the second sense to sinful men.

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Gamaliel
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This is the first time I've heard that the reference to female sexual activity in Romans 1:26 was understood in the first Christian centuries as a reference to anal sex with men rather than lesbian sexual activity - which is how I've always understood the reference.

Whatever the case, the apostle Paul certainly seems to disapprove - whatever kind of sexual activity it is it's described as 'vile passions' (NRSV), 'shameful lusts' (NIV).

Of course, lesbian sexual activity was known in the ancient world - Sappho of Lesbos being the paradigm example if we take the traditional line on the way her verse has been interpreted and the derivation of the terms 'sapphic' and 'lesbian'.

If it's the case that the Fathers understood it differently it may, of course, be that they didn't even entertain the possibility of female same-sex relations - as, famously, Queen Victoria is said not to have done. Prudish Patristics ...

Whatever the case, it does strike me as rather convoluted to read the Apostle Paul's opening shots in Romans as some kind of back-handed endorsement or acceptance of these things.

It seems just as bizarre to me to suggest that the Apostle Paul was advocating tolerance in these matters - I'm not sure it'd have occurred to him to do so - as it is for very conservative Christians to insist that people with a same-sex orientation shouldn't express themselves sexually in any way, shape or form.

People are going to have sex whatever their sexual orientation happens to be. You can't stop them. You can't legislate against these things.

Sure, there are plenty of people - both gay or straight - who have adopted a celibate lifestyle and chosen to follow a hard path in that regard. That's down to the individual and to their conviction and choice.

It may be easier for some people rather than others. Sister Wendy Beckett, for instance, claims that she has negligible sexual inclinations so being a celibate has been an easy path for her to follow.

In some of the more Catholic traditions, celibacy can be seen almost as a 'gift' or 'charism' - something that particular people are enabled by observe or practice - if that's the right word - by divine grace.

The implication of that is that other people aren't similarly gifted.

I've no particular axe to grind on this one.

It's one of those issues where individual choice, conscience and conviction has to come into play.

I certainly wouldn't want to go around prescribing or proscribing what people can and can't do sexually - providing it's consensual and that nobody is harmed or exploited.

These things have to be looked at in context and it's pretty clear that the Apostle Paul - nor anyone else around at that time - would have been aware of such a thing as sexual orientation in the way we understand it today.

I can see why Steve Langton suggests that the Apostle Paul may have been saying that sinful people may 'naturally' do what is unnatural to the redeemed and what have you - but that seems an overly pietistic interpretation to me and begs even more questions than it resolves.

There's the whole 'God gave them over' thing which is popular within Calvinism and whilst I can understand the theology behind that it raises all sorts of issues around theodicy of course.

No, I'm not saying that the Calvinist line is that God is the author of sin or what Paul sees as 'unnatural' urges - it's simply that God lets people get on with it ...

But I'm not convinced that's what the Apostle Paul is saying here either.

The Apostle is outlining an argument as to why Gentiles should be admitted to the Covenant and he lays out an elaborate schema of natural and unnatural, expected and unexpected, intuitive and counter-intuitive, in order to provide a platform for his later subversion of standard Jewish teachings in favour of his own 'Christianised' version ...

So all aspects of the created order, including human sexuality - are examined in that context.

It's a theological point, a theological trope.

Whether it should serve as a standard for assessing sexual relationships today in a prescriptive sense is a moot point.

I used to take a pretty conservative line on these things but the older I get and the more of the world I've seen, the more grounds there are, I feel, for wriggle-room and for treating people as people rather than judging them by the extent they conform or don't conform to our own reckonings and interpretations of these ancient texts.

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lilBuddha
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It is all complete and utter bullshit. This interpretation nonsense. People will twist and bend to justify their wants and vilify others. Proof texting abounds. The rational thing to do is compare and contrast your "interpretation" against the overall message.
And Jesus' message is very strongly about love, forgiveness, tolerance and the consequence of action.
So, what consequence does equal marriage, and LGBT rights in general, have to straight people? None really. Doesn't even hurt the participants.
Materialism, however, has many obvious faults. Jesus was clearly against both materialism and its evils, yet nearly everyone justifies ignoring this. Most especially conservative Christians.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
People are going to have sex whatever their sexual orientation happens to be. You can't stop them. You can't legislate against these things.

History begs to differ with this assessment.

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I think it was Rowan Williams (in his salad days) who observed that the polemic in Romans 1 is about "unnatural behaviour". Paul was, like all of his time, unaware of the fact that same sex attraction is as natural to homosexuals as opposite sex attraction is to heterosexuals. It simply wasn't in his mental map.

I agree that this must be true to some degree, though I don't think we can say that he did not know that there are some people whose primary or only sexual interest is for people of their own sex. That doesn't mean that he had the concepts of 'gay' and 'straight' that we do, of course.

I think it likely, from Romans 1, that St Paul's immediate mental picture of homosexual sex would have been some act of debauchery - selfish, impersonal, lustful, any possibly coercive sex. My immediate picture is an ordinary couple who both happen to be the same sex. But that doesn't mean St Paul would have approved of what I think of as typical homosexual behaviour - and my argument is that even if we knew for certain that he didn't, we are still under no obligation to read his words as scripture in that way.

quote:
As always, I think you have to get at the underlying principles which motivated the author. Of course anyone is free to argue that I'm reading this stuff from a 21st century perspective. Maybe I am?
Well in an important sense, we are all arguing from a 21st century perspective. The most reactionary, and the most progressive, contempory opinions are both still contemporary. We can educate ourselves about the ancient world, but that's still a 21st century education. We can't go back in time.

I'm arguing for more than that, though. I think it is legitimate, and obligatory, to come to scriptire with the best we have, and that includes all the factual and moral progress available to us. We do, as a matter of fact, have knowledge and insight that was not available to the human authors of the Bible - even (this may be controversial) knowledge and insights that were not available to the man Jesus, though he was God incarnate. We are in an inferior position to the original audience for scripture in some respects (such as getting contempory references) but need not be afraid to acknowledge that in other respects we are in a superior position, because we just do know more about the world than they did. In interpreting Romans as a historical document we would have to lay that modern knowledge aside. I'm arguing that in interpreting it as scripture we absolutely should not do that.

I'm going to take issue with " I think you have to get at the underlying principles which motivated the author". That would be true for historical literature. I don't think that it's true that the author's intention or motivation is necessarily a clue to the way in which their words are inspired writing. It would matter much to me if a Biblical author had written with the intention, for example, of justifying the taking of slaves: the "inspired" part of their writing could still be "God cares about, and will hold you accountable for, your treatment even of the people you most despise". The human author may have had no such intention - and might even have repudiated that if asked.

quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
Reading Romans and Leviticus, we used take the attitude "Hate the sin, love the sinner" which still is AIUI the present RC position.

I can't do that. And I'm beginning to doubt that any modern person of good will can.

"Hate the sin"? How? How is it possible, absent prejudice, to think that my love for my wife is good, wholesome, and worthy of celebration, but that if I happened to have a vagina and not a penis, but had exactly the same feelings towards her expressed in the same way, that would actually be worthy of hate? I don't think it is.

I think the most that a ethical modern person could do is to believe that homosexuality is wrong for reasons we don't know, and only know the fact of its wrongness because God has said so. They might "hate" the idea of disobedience to a revealed command, but how can anyone bring themselves to hate love, and not stand at least in the shadow of damnation?

[ 30. September 2015, 17:53: Message edited by: Eliab ]

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
The biblical position overall is that 'naturally' in the first sense people are meant to love/be-attracted-to other people simply as people, but that sex is intended only for those who are married (which by biblical definition is heterosexual). All other sex acts, straight or gay, are unnatural in that first sense, no matter how much they may 'come naturally' in the second sense to sinful men.

To get to the point where you can begin a sentence with "The biblical position overall..." in relation to sex and marriage, you've already discounted a whole lot of what the Bible says. The Bible cites examples of marriage between brother and sister, marriage procured by deceit, marriage by abduction (rape), forcible marriage of prisoners whose families have been slaughtered, polygamous marriage, and marriage following blatantly unjust divorce. The Bible also cites, and apparently approves, the divorce and abandonment of wholly innocent people on the sole grounds of ethnicity. I'm willing to bet that you think at least one of those things is wrong.

Why don't those things find a place in "the biblical position overall"? Because we think them wrong. How we justify that is, really, immaterial. Just as, when the Bible describes a circular vessel as 10 units across and 30 around, we may disagree whether that's because the measurements are approximations, or because the measurements were accurate, but the thing wasn't perfectly circular. What we don't do is start worrying that the mathematicians have mistaken the value of pi. We know better than that.

So I'm not saying that you are wrong or inconsistent by taking the "obviously wrong" out of (what you take to be) the Biblical view of sex. I think you are absolutely right to do so. And it follows that it would also be right to interpret Romans 1 in the light of our (modern?) knowledge that there is essentially no morally relevant difference between homosexual and heterosexual relationships, we can similarly take any obviously wrong belief of the Bible's human authors to the contrary out of consideration in our interpretation. How we do that is a secondary question - my main point is that it is legitimate to do so.

[ 30. September 2015, 17:54: Message edited by: Eliab ]

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
I'm know nothing about Patristics, but I read an article by James Alison who said this was the only understanding of this verse up until the Fourth Century.

This would be the same James Alison who actively supports a pro LGBT agenda then?

I rather feel as if he's is reading into the text - the same crime that those anti to the LGBT agenda are accused of committing.

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Gamaliel
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Which shows how tricky this whole thing of interpretation is ...

Meanwhile, to pick up an earlier point - yes, history does show that people can and do legislate aagainst particular sexual activities - and rightly so in the case of rape and the abuse of minors etc.

The point, of course, is that we can pietistically proscribe same-sex relationships till the cows come home - that doesn't stop people having same-sex relationships.

Evangelical churches have proscribed people having pre-marital sex for years but that doesn't stop single heterosexual people from having pre-marital sex.

In my full-on charismatic evangelical days I remember wincing when a courting couple were required to 'confess' to the whole church when the girl fell pregnant and they 'had' to get married. They did live happily ever after but even so ...

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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
I'm know nothing about Patristics, but I read an article by James Alison who said this was the only understanding of this verse up until the Fourth Century.

This would be the same James Alison who actively supports a pro LGBT agenda then?

I rather feel as if he's is reading into the text - the same crime that those anti to the LGBT agenda are accused of committing.

Yes. We all tend to read in ways that suit our interests and fit with our perspectives. But texts are not infinitely flexible.

I think it's clear that Paul is not pro LGBT. I think the assumption that unnatural sex for women must mean same sex is a revealing one. I think it is a very powerful point that, whatever precisely Paul was thinking as he cranks up the rhetoric at the end of chapter 1, it is clearly meant to justify the "therefore" that begins chapter 2. Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge anyone else, because you do the same things yourself.

Which is, of course, something Jesus also said.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

People are going to have sex whatever their sexual orientation happens to be. You can't stop them. You can't legislate against these things.

But that's what religious institutions do. They 'legislate' on behalf of their members regarding what they believe to be spiritually right or wrong regarding sexual as well as other sorts of behaviour.

Few religious institutions appear to have re-written their official teachings in order to become more accepting of the (contemporary) sexual reality. Most just learn how to turn a blind eye, if it seems pragmatic to do so in a given environment. I think this is what'll happen sooner or later with SSM, regardless of 'biblical interpretation'.

Or one could just be the person who goes to church for the music, the social life or the spiritual aura, etc., but relies on personal judgement rather than religious imperatives or 'interpretations' when it comes to private morality.

[ 30. September 2015, 21:42: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Gamaliel
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Well, yes ... I think that's certainly the case - I think that's incontrovertible.

The issue then, of course is whether it trumps what he says earlier in chapter 1.

Of course, we wouldn't be having this discussion at all if Paul hadn't included sexual behaviour of whatever kind in his catalogue of human frailty and culpability - if that's what it is.

Whatever the case, there's a lot more to it than what people do or don't do with their bits and pieces.

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Gamaliel
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It depends on the tradition, SvitlanaV2.

'Don't ask, don't tell' has long been the default position in some quarters - long before 'contemporary' debates.

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
I'm know nothing about Patristics, but I read an article by James Alison who said this was the only understanding of this verse up until the Fourth Century.

This would be the same James Alison who actively supports a pro LGBT agenda then?

I rather feel as if he's is reading into the text - the same crime that those anti to the LGBT agenda are accused of committing.

This attack on Alison is a total non sequitur.

Either a statement about the understanding of a verse up until the Fourth Century is factually correct, or it isn't. It's got absolutely nothing to do with how you read the text, it's a question about how other people read the text.

I can know how most people pronounced Voldemort in Harry Potter, prior to J K Rowling's revelation that most people have got it wrong, and I've never read any of the Harry Potter books.

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SvitlanaV2
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Gamaliel

In the average MOTR or mainstream church environment the advantage of DADT is fizzling out. The old ladies know if the vicar or the organist is gay, and they're not that bothered; many of them were young adults when the mainstream was dominated by liberalism, so they can presumably see a lineage there.

The evangelicals will become more open about sexuality as they grow closer to the surrounding culture. Some groups will be further along the route than others. The irony, I suppose, is that some churches will hold out for a long time, and as a result of their determination and distinctiveness they're likely to attract closeted gay Christians and anyone else who's wowed by their strong counter-cultural convictions.

The RCC's agenda for sexual liberation, as you might put it, is hampered by their being an international brand. What one priest tolerates in one country or district will be punished elsewhere, because local conditions for RCs vary so much. I've read that homosexuality is fairly obvious in some parts of the RCC, so in those places DADT can hardly be relevant. I presume it's very different elsewhere.

This is how I see it, anyway. Circumstances will drive many parts of the church to be more liberal on these matters, but not as a result of some common work of 'biblical interpretation'.

[ 30. September 2015, 22:57: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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mousethief

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I think you have to see a bigger picture of what Paul is doing with "unnatural" in Romans. He starts in Romans 1 and builds up his argument about unnatural, then drops the bombshell: Christians being granted salvation by the Hebrew God is "unnatural" -- same word as the sex acts in Romans 1.

If unnatural means "not morally licit" then our salvation as non-jews is as bad as gay sex.

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hatless

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That certainly fits with the letter as a whole.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I think you have to see a bigger picture of what Paul is doing with "unnatural" in Romans. He starts in Romans 1 and builds up his argument about unnatural, then drops the bombshell: Christians being granted salvation by the Hebrew God is "unnatural" -- same word as the sex acts in Romans 1.

If unnatural means "not morally licit" then our salvation as non-jews is as bad as gay sex.

To the Jews it is. He's not though saying that gay sex is ok thereby making our salvation ok.
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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
I'm know nothing about Patristics, but I read an article by James Alison who said this was the only understanding of this verse up until the Fourth Century.

This would be the same James Alison who actively supports a pro LGBT agenda then?

I rather feel as if he's is reading into the text - the same crime that those anti to the LGBT agenda are accused of committing.

This attack on Alison is a total non sequitur.

Either a statement about the understanding of a verse up until the Fourth Century is factually correct, or it isn't. It's got absolutely nothing to do with how you read the text, it's a question about how other people read the text.

I can know how most people pronounced Voldemort in Harry Potter, prior to J K Rowling's revelation that most people have got it wrong, and I've never read any of the Harry Potter books.

It's not an attack - it's a comment putting context into an author's claims.

If the comment were factually correct it would be confirmed by others reading and commenting on the passage. As far as I know or can discover, it isn't (confirmed that is). It's therefore a reading on the text but not the final authority - which weight of evidence tends towards the "traditional" interpretation.

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
by Barnabas62;
The word/concept 'Natural' is used in the Bible
in two distinct ways depending on context. It can either mean "Natural as in the way God created things to be", or it can mean "Natural as in what 'comes naturally' to sinful men in a fallen world". Paul is saying that acts of 'gay sex' are unnatural in the former sense, but natural in the latter sense.

With the disclaimer that I'm not a Greek scholar -isn't that more a feature of English rather than the Bible?

The references to 'nature' in that passage are all translations of the word physis or a derivative thereof. Physis as I understand it means 'what makes something what it is' - hence the importance of saying Jesus had a human physis rather than just a human body or appearance.

(I don't think physis is ever used in a negative sense - if you use the original NIV you see references to 'sinful nature' but this is a translation of sarx, 'flesh', and the latest revision concedes this was a mistake.)

Rowan Williams (Aiui - I haven't read it myself) is saying that St Paul thought homosexuality was contrary to the human physis but was wrong. Now it seems to me difficult to prove without circularity whether the human physis can be homosexual or not - except that, by insisting that orientation as such is not a problem, conservatives seem to have conceded the point already. ..

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
If the comment were factually correct it would be confirmed by others reading and commenting on the passage. As far as I know or can discover, it isn't (confirmed that is). It's therefore a reading on the text but not the final authority - which weight of evidence tends towards the "traditional" interpretation.

I think the point is that the specific claim being made is NOT an interpretive point about the right way to read the passage, but a historical point that the "traditional" reading can't be traced in extant sources earlier than the fourth century, although other readings can.

I don't know if that's true, but if it isn't, it ought to be immediately falsifiable by patristic scholars. If no one can contradict James Alison on the point, that carries more weight that if no one has specifically confirmed it, and I suppose I believe him.

But it doesn't seem to matter very much to me. The "traditional" reading may well be older than the sources that we have for it - and may even have been controversial. But more importantly, wouldn't almost everyone agree that if Romans 1 condemns male/male sexual activity in circumstances X (whatever X may be), then we can extrapolate the principle to female/female sexual conduct in equivalent circumstances. There's no significant body of opinion represented on the Ship (as far as I can tell) that a same sex relationship between men would be wrong, but functionally the same relationship between women would be OK.

Why? Because in considering the rightness of an action, the gender of the actor is a morally irrelevant consideration.

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Richard Dawkins

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Gamaliel
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Sure, SvitlanaV2 and I think the 'international brand' thing applies to Orthodoxy too as well as to Roman Catholicism.

I was thinking about things on a local level but I take your point - and yes, it's more about prevailing social conditions than simply matters of biblical interpretation - none of which take place in a social vacuum either, of course.

On another issue, one of the things I find strange about the conversative position on this issue is how particular sexual orientations can be seen as 'natural' but expressing one's sexuality in line with that orientation isn't.

If people are 'naturally' gay then surely it can't be sinful for them to express their sexuality that way?

[Confused]

It only makes sense to see gay sex as inherently sinful if one believes that a gay sexual orientation is also inherently sinful.

How can one be natural and t'other not?

[Confused]

I've never quite understood how conservatives can square this particular circle.

It only makes sense to me to regard homosexual acts as sinful in and of themselves if one regards homosexual orientation sinful or if one doesn't believe that same-sex orientation exists and that those who engage in same-sex sexual activity are doing so not because they are orientated that way but for other reasons - they prefer it, they want variety, they like to be transgressive or whatever else ...

I don't get that.

What am I missing?

The conservative line seems to boil down to, 'the Apostle Paul didn't like it so it must be wrong ...'

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Barnabas62
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@ Ricardus

Physis is a rich word. This gives us some idea of its varieties of historical use. Personally, I can see that I'm reaching a bit when the word "intrinsic" comes to mind. But that's what I see. Regardless of what the law said, Paul thought it was intrinsic to men that they would want to have sex with women. That looks like the meaning to me. Which is why I think he was blind to the possibility that for some men that would not be true.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
One of the things I find strange about the conversative position on this issue is how particular sexual orientations can be seen as 'natural' but expressing one's sexuality in line with that orientation isn't.

If people are 'naturally' gay then surely it can't be sinful for them to express their sexuality that way?

[Confused]

It only makes sense to see gay sex as inherently sinful if one believes that a gay sexual orientation is also inherently sinful.

How can one be natural and t'other not?
[...]

The conservative line seems to boil down to, 'the Apostle Paul didn't like it so it must be wrong ...'

I lean towards a moderately conservative position on these matters, but I don't think it can be a question of what's 'natural'. After all, (heterosexual) monogamy hardly appears to be natural for very many, if not most, individuals in our species, yet that's what our churches mostly celebrate over and above any other state.

Our 'nature' is what strives to separate us from God, AFAICS (Romans 7?). That being the case, we probably shouldn't appeal to it too much to justify whatever it is we may want to do. Heterosexual marriage (which Paul wasn't too keen on either!) may be natural to very many people, but so are adultery and divorce.

Regarding Paul, I suppose some theologians somewhere have re-interpreted the Bible by demoting him a peg or two, but at this late state in our civilisation I wonder how many conservative churches are likely to start paying attention if they weren't before. To be honest, what's in it for them? As I say, I think our churches' 'biblical interpretation[s]' depend on the niches they expect to fill.

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Paul.
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
It only makes sense to see gay sex as inherently sinful if one believes that a gay sexual orientation is also inherently sinful.

How can one be natural and t'other not?

Original sin and the Fall mean what's "natural" to us may also be sinful. Fairly standard evo teaching IME.

I think they would also gloss your comment that the orientation must be inherently sinful to something like "inherently giving rise to temptation, which whilst not sinful itself, is therefore something to be resisted". RCs are much more straight-forward with their "inherently disordered" I think.

If what you're getting at is that "love the sinner, hate the sin" is a cop-out then I agree, but I think a lot of people don't see that straight away. And faced with the realisation that the interpretation of the Bible you've ended up with leads you to believe that something is sinful when you're genuinely not wanting to be hateful*, such rationalisations are attractive.

(*and yes I do think this is possible. It's my experience.)

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Paul.
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:

quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
Reading Romans and Leviticus, we used take the attitude "Hate the sin, love the sinner" which still is AIUI the present RC position.

I can't do that. And I'm beginning to doubt that any modern person of good will can.

I think agree but just from my own experience I think it can be a process to see that, and in my case that process took years. So I think it's possible to be a person of good will who hasn't realised the disastrous consequences of their beliefs yet.

Thanks for this thread btw as I think it's valuable.

My journey, briefly, was something like this:

I believed that the Bible was authoritative and interpreted the anti-gay passages in the usual way (because I couldn't honestly see a plausible alternative). I wasn't happy with this as I couldn't give any reason for this belief other than "God, in the form of this book, says so". However I had some surrounding beliefs which "protected" me from breaking out of this - that God was Holy (i.e. separate, i.e. utterly other) and that I couldn't therefore just assume he was like me and that I could know His ways by reason alone. That if that were the case we wouldn't need revelatory sources of authority anyway. As such it shouldn't surprise me if what God had to say on something went counter to my "natural" instincts or even sense of fairness.

(As I write this now, I'm struck by a) how it looks so much like a post facto rationalisation but how I know I wasn't aware of that at the time and b) how attractively 'neat' it still seems to me. However read on...)

Then I spent some time away from the Church, from active faith, from God. From my own experiences - despite not being gay and therefore directly impacted by these passages - I was forced to consider what you do when your own reason, experience tells you one thing and the "Bible" (aka your current interpretation of it) tells you something else. I reached a point where I was no longer willing or able to deny that what seemed right to me from just my experience of life was completely wrong.

I'd love to say that what then happened was that I went back to the Bible and looked for a different interpretation in much the way you describe it in the OP. I didn't and I'm not sure I was able to given where I was. So it kind of "broke the Bible" for me. I think I understand the OP and follow the logic - but it feels like a trick. Like a way of holding together an obviously wrong reading with the idea that the passage is nonetheless inspired. I want to believe it but I'm not sure I can.

However I respect you and I especially respect gay Christians who are able to hold on to both.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Why? Because in considering the rightness of an action, the gender of the actor is a morally irrelevant consideration.

That can't be true if gay sex or marriage is illicit.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I think you have to see a bigger picture of what Paul is doing with "unnatural" in Romans. He starts in Romans 1 and builds up his argument about unnatural, then drops the bombshell: Christians being granted salvation by the Hebrew God is "unnatural" -- same word as the sex acts in Romans 1.

If unnatural means "not morally licit" then our salvation as non-jews is as bad as gay sex.

To the Jews it is. He's not though saying that gay sex is ok thereby making our salvation ok.
No. I never claimed that. I'm saying that we need to be very careful in equating "natural" and "unnatural" in Romans with "permitted" and "illicit." Because most anti-gay polemicists, it seems to me, want to read them in exactly that way in Romans 1. And once we make that break, and consider that something that is "unnatural" can nevertheless be morally permissible, then we need to take a fresh look at Romans 1 and what exactly Paul is talking about.

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Why? Because in considering the rightness of an action, the gender of the actor is a morally irrelevant consideration.

That can't be true if gay sex or marriage is illicit.
I think that might be Eliab's point, that there's at least potentially something inconsistent about the way we've moved to treating gender as unimportant for a variety of purposes but not for others.

My experience with discrimination law tells me that people often misunderstand that it's not about saying "you must never take a person's gender into account", but it's actually about saying "only take a person's gender into account when it's relevant".

So one of the base questions here is: do we think that the gender of each person in a relationship is relevant. If so, why?

Another base question when it comes to Biblical interpretation is: do we think God only gives commands that are sensible and good and helpful, or do we think God is capable of being capricious and making a rule without a rational reason for it? Do we actually argue from a perspective that God would only really say gay sex was illicit if there was a rational reason for saying that, and then look to see if there's a rational reason, or do we just say that God doesn't need a reason and that God is perfectly capable of thinking "yeah, so 2 guys can in fact have all the important features of a relationship, but I don't care, I just don't want that happening. Ick."

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mousethief

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Well said.

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Gamaliel
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@SvitlanaV2 - I've always understood the Apostle Paul's apparent aversion to heterosexual marriage to be linked to the fact that at the time he wrote the Epistle to the Romans he was convinced the world was going to end very soon - and certainly within his own lifetime.

His views about mutual concern within marriage - including the sexual aspects - could be regarded as quite enlightened in the 1st century - but I'm told it was quite in line with contemporary rabbinic teaching.

Also, I've heard it said that the Apostle Paul must have been married himself at some point in order to have attained to the level he had within the rabbinic orders that existed at that time - but I can't cite sources for that contention.

The point I'm trying to make is that the Apostle Paul was writing in what he considered to be exceptional circumstances - the imminent end of the world and the return of Christ - and that whatever our views are of his stand-point it's broadly in-line with traditional Jewish understandings of the time - only perhaps ratcheted up a bit in terms of 'puritanism' in the light of the new order he felt part of and was helping to inaugurate.

As I've mentioned before, it seems that he opposed prostitution more vigorously than previous generations of rabbis might have done, but this also was in keeping with a more rigorous moral code that was developing within contemporary Judaism at that time.

Of course, what the Apostle was doing was setting all these things - natural vs unnatural - marriage and celibacy - in the context of Christ and the Church - hence the more vigorous line on prostitution - you can't take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute ...

I'm not saying that we ignore or set aside Pauline teachings - but what I am saying is that we need to look at the theological points he's making - and let's face it, he's doing a limbo dance to accommodate views that most Jewish people at that time would have found unacceptable ie, that Gentiles should be admitted to the Covenant without having to observe the ceremonial aspects of the Jewish law - and circumcision and so on.

As far as the same-sex relationships aspect goes, then that's tricky as we clearly know a lot more about issues like sexual orientation than people knew in the 1st century.

I can understand the point Paul. here is making - about the connection between original sin and inclinations to temptation and so on - but how about those conservative Christian traditions which don't take the 'Western' line on original sin? Such as the Orthodox?

Many Orthodox would take a similar line on same-sex relationships to conversative evangelicals or conservative RCs.

I'm also unconvinced about the argument that adultery might be 'natural' to some people. A propensity towards adultery - in terms of cheating on one's partner - isn't a purely heterosexual sin, surely?

[Roll Eyes]

What would be considered wrong in the case of adultery isn't the actual sexual orientation of the perpetrator - whether they were gay or straight - but the deceit, the breach of trust and the harm caused.

What seems to be being said by conservative Christians, it appears to me, is applied uniquely to homosexuals.

Heterosexuals are allowed to express themselves sexually - within ideal parameters ie. monogamous marriage.

But homosexuals aren't permitted to express their inherent or intrinsic sexuality (which even conservatives appear now to agree is intrinsic) in any way, shape or form.

The only option available to them is celibacy.

Heterosexuals are allowed the choice, all things being equal - whether to marry or to remain single and celibate.

Homosexuals are allowed no such thing. They must zip up and shut up as it were.

I don't see any corresponding demands levied on straight people. Conservative heterosexual Christians can rail as much as they like that they are subject to similar strictures - but the fact is, they aren't.

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SvitlanaV2
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Gamaliel

Thanks for your comments about the biblical texts.

I didn't say that only straight people are likely to be adulterous. My point was that monogamy as a permanent state may be hardly more 'natural' than celibacy for much of humanity.

Your idea that adultery is only wrong because of the deceitfulness and disappointment is interesting. Perhaps in the future some Christians might become more open to mutually agreed polygamy. Depending on the circumstances, there might be some advantages to it; and plenty of biblical justification.

Regarding the psychology, I suppose one problem with trying to align Christian teachings with the current secular thinking on sexuality is that, AFAICS, current thinking doesn't offer wholesale support for sexuality as a clear and fixed state, and hence as a basis for lifelong 'Christian' monogamy. Fluidity seems to be the order of the day. A recent study says that almost half of young people aged 18-24 see themselves as neither exclusively heterosexual nor exclusively homosexual.

Bisexuality never seems to come up in the discussions here, but it's clearly something that many young people think about. The idea that you have to 'choose' to live with one orientation and then never waver from it may be very hard for some people. Moreover, how are some bisexual youngsters going to make a 'choice' to live in one way or the other if they don't engage in sexual experimentation first? What if they make a choice and marry without experimenting; if they divorce later and remarry according to the other facet of their sexuality should their churches be okay with that?

I'm a libertarian, and feel that there should be more churches that are okay with some or all of these different permutations of sexuality and sexual behaviour. And these churches should promote themselves vigorously, so that young (and older) people know they exist. But the idea that all churches will or should interpret the Bible in this way is problematic to me. I just don't see that every church would benefit. Many would lose members, including members who've faithfully and perhaps painfully embraced self-denial in their own sexual lives, for whatever reason.

I can't speak for the RCC or the Orthodox, but the whole point of Protestantism, surely, is that you're not shackled to a single institution whose teachings conflict with how you want to live your life. You 'interpret' the Bible according to where you feel the Spirit is guiding you.

[ 02. October 2015, 15:03: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Erm - Svit - I didn't have to "choose" to be straight and didn't need to experiment either to know I was attracted to girls and not to blokes.

It's not like trying the menu at a world food buffet to find out what you like.

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LeRoc

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I find the following rule handy when interpreting the New Testament: some of the things Paul says are a bit daft.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Paul.:
I'd love to say that what then happened was that I went back to the Bible and looked for a different interpretation in much the way you describe it in the OP. I didn't and I'm not sure I was able to given where I was. So it kind of "broke the Bible" for me. I think I understand the OP and follow the logic - but it feels like a trick. Like a way of holding together an obviously wrong reading with the idea that the passage is nonetheless inspired. I want to believe it but I'm not sure I can.

I think that's exactly where I want my views to be challenged. Because, yes, I have to accept that if I were reading Romans 1 & 2 as the scriptures of any religion but the one I'm committed to, I'd see the passage as pretty obviously anti-gay. The revisionist readings aren't impossible, but I'd dismiss them as highly unlikely. I don't want to be anti-gay, and I don't want to give up on the Bible. Does that make the attempt to reconcile the two a 'trick'?

It seems to me that there are basically four ways to go, if I decide that the Bible has an anti-gay meaning.

A) The Bible is God's word. God knows more than I do. If he says that homosexual sex is a sin, I just have to accept it, even if I can't understand why.

B) Because I know that God is good, I need to factor that into my interpretation. It is impossible that God has commanded evil. So even if I'm 99% certain that an objective reading of the text would produce a meaning that is not good, I ought to reject that as impossible and prefer the alternative reading, however improbable, as that must be the truth.

C) The Bible can still be inspired even if the surface meaning is obviously wrong. Even if I grant that the true meaning of the text is what it appears to be, I'm free to disagree with it, and look for the divine inspiration of scripture in such nuances of meaning that tend to mitigate or subvert the author's wrong intentions.

D) If the Bible conflicts with truth or goodness, then it (or at least that part of it) must simply be rejected as wrong. The desire to salvage some good meaning from it is understandable but misguided.

I can't do A. It would be trying to believe that 2+2=5 because the Party says so. I don't want to do D, either, because the Bible as a whole is too valuable to me, contains too much which I think is godly, and is so central to the faith which I have found to be good and true. So that leaves me with the mix of B and C set out in the OP.

My argument that this is a proper, honest, not-a-trick way to read scripture is that it's consistent with the way we read other passages where real advances of civilisation have taken us beyond the world-view of the human authors. There's not a chance of me reading the Bible as a serious argument for a literal seven day creation, heliocentrism, slavery, the right to rape prisoners of war (as long as they are female virgins), or a historical global flood. I know too much. And really, it wouldn't bother me if it could be proved definitively that the human authors of scripture all believed wholeheartedly and unquestioningly in all those things. They were just wrong. I know better than they did. That doesn't prevent me from reading the passages as, in some sense, the inspired word of God.

I don't see it as being in principle different to extend this way of reading scripture to the anti-gay parts. It's now clear, I think beyond any serious dispute, that the reasons given for making a moral difference between gays and straights are, and always were, just bullshit. If there was a coherent argument against homosexuality, someone would have made it by now. They haven't. We are at the point where we can say that if St Paul thought same sex relationships were wicked, he was just wrong. We know better. I think that I can say that and not "break the Bible". But that's the point where I'm open to challenge.

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Why? Because in considering the rightness of an action, the gender of the actor is a morally irrelevant consideration.

That can't be true if gay sex or marriage is illicit.
I think that might be Eliab's point, that there's at least potentially something inconsistent about the way we've moved to treating gender as unimportant for a variety of purposes but not for others.
Yes.

As a general rule, we don't think that if something is good if done by one sex, it's bad if done by the other. Views which do seem to presume that (such as the view that it's OK for men to sleep around, but women who do the same are sluts) most of us would refer to as "double-standards" and see that as a reason to reject them out of hand.

There are, I think, some areas where an immoral action is judged more serious if done by one sex (lots of people would judge a man who struck his wife more harshly than a woman striking her husband, or a mother abandoning her children more harshly than a father doing the same) but those judgments are (a) controversial, and (b) explicable if "male" and "female" are being used as proxies for morally relevant differences (in physical strength and emotional attachment, in the examples given). They are not sufficiently strong counter-examples to change the general rule, which is that the same moral rules apply to both men and women.

The whole anti-gay position is that there are thoughts, feelings, words and actions that are right if a man does them, and wrong if a woman does, and the other way around. It is inconsistent with accepted moral principles, and no convincing justification for making an exception is offered.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Erm - Svit - I didn't have to "choose" to be straight and didn't need to experiment either to know I was attracted to girls and not to blokes.

It's not like trying the menu at a world food buffet to find out what you like.

No, at that point I wasn't referring people who just know they're either straight or gay. I was referring to people who, like many of the young people mentioned in the report, feel themselves to be somewhere in between, or a bit of both.

If they're secular young people in a secular environment it doesn't really matter - they can do what they feel like doing. However, if they're members of a strict church they may feel pressured to choose to live with an entirely straight identity. If they're in a more liberal church they may feel free to live with a gay identity. But how many churches would allow them to engage with both?

In reality, of course, we live in a culture where churchgoers (let alone those outside the church) don't really accept religious authority structures as the arbiters of their personal lives or personal morality. That's not what we use organised religion for nowadays. Our faith is much more personal, and we engage in organised religion for other reasons. Many of the moderate historical churches accept this in practice if not in theory.

The problem with strict churches, I suppose, is that strictness is a major part of their identity, their raison d'etre. If they celebrate or even just tolerate too much, what are they for? They're sort of like Methodists (etc.) with a much younger membership and livelier music. That's what some of them will become, no doubt, with a biblical theology to suit. And that may be the right trajectory for some of these churches.

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LeRoc

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quote:
SvitlanaV2: If they're in a more liberal church they may feel free to live with a gay identity. But how many churches would allow them to engage with both?
Er ... the same liberal churches?

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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