Thread: Biblical interpretation of apparently anti-gay passages Board: Dead Horses / Ship of Fools.


To visit this thread, use this URL:
http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=7;t=000661

Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
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 ]
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
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?
 
Posted by Gee D (# 13815) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Arethosemyfeet (# 17047) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
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?
 
Posted by ThunderBunk (# 15579) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
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
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Boogie (# 13538) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
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 ]
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
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 ]
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
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 ...
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
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 ]
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
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 ]
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
That certainly fits with the letter as a whole.
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
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. ..
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
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 ...'
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
@ 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.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Paul. (# 37) on :
 
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.)
 
Posted by Paul. (# 37) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
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."
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Well said.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
@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.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
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 ]
 
Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
I find the following rule handy when interpreting the New Testament: some of the things Paul says are a bit daft.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
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.
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
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?
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
Maybe so. It would be interesting to know to what extent that's the case.

As I said, all sort of things may be happening without the church giving explicit approval, because individual Christians on the whole are unlikely to be seeking church approval in any case. One issue is perhaps whether particular clergy, congregations or denominations are willing or able to police the lives of their members. I feel that the taste for this has declined in general, but obviously not in every case.

(Out of interest, googling has led me to this new book on global Christianity, which has a chapter on 'Balancing Faith and Desire'.)
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
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.

It just goes to show that people attend churches on their own terms. They have become spiritual consumers not believers.

[ 02. October 2015, 17:41: Message edited by: ExclamationMark ]
 
Posted by leo (# 1458) on :
 
Or they choose a church BECAUSE OF their beliefs e.g. I believe that the gospel includes peace and justice issues so I go to a church which is socialist on politics and inclusive on gay and women's issues.

I don't go to evangelical churches because I believe that their homophobia is unjust and their belief in penal substituton is heretical.

That's not consumerism. It's discernment of right doctrine and orthopraxis.

[ 02. October 2015, 17:49: Message edited by: leo ]
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
We could parse this:

I go to church because I am a True BelieverTM.

You go to church because you are not a True BelieverTM like I am but a spiritual consumer ...

I'm not sure I'd want to sit as judge and jury as to why anyone does or doesn't go to church nor presume to have a 'window into men's souls' irrespective of what church people might be involved with - evangelical, Hifh Church, MoR or whatever else. To their own Master they stand or fall.

I really don't get how people who go to churches other than our own are 'spiritual consumers' but those who attend ours or churches we approve of are some how exempt from that censure - if that's what is being claimed.

Besides, surely it's axiomatic that anyone who attends any kind of church out of choice - which is pretty much everyone still in the pews these days - no-one's forcing them - is attending on their own terms to some extent or other.
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
I must have missed the part in the Bible where Jesus says that it's ExclamationMark's job to judge who is a believer and who is not.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
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.

It just goes to show that people attend churches on their own terms. They have become spiritual consumers not believers.
I agree with your first sentence. As for the second, I think it must be hard to disentangle belief from the various 'consumer' benefits one might acquire from churchgoing. After all, belief itself could be one such benefit. Being in the regular company of believers can strengthen one's faith (although not always!).

Regarding the declining influence 'religious authority structures', some would say that all the competing churches, as well as the rise of pluralism and secularisation, have made it harder for individual congregations to impose certain behaviour on their members, or to discipline them when they transgress. Dissatisfied or chastised members can simply leave and worship elsewhere, or give up on attending worship altogether. This reality gives churchgoers a degree of power as 'consumers' but it doesn't necessarily indicate an absence of faith. Indeed, the individuals concerned might be very committed to the rightness of their 'unorthodox' beliefs.

It's not limited to the laity either; those who are the most faithful in their churchgoing and participation in church events are probably more aware than anyone else that their clergy disagree with (or at least are unsure about) some of the official, or at least the traditional, teachings of their denominations. I think this awareness must undermine priestly authority in the long run, although it might be pastorally useful in some circumstances.

Everyone is his or her own priest, theologian and biblical interpreter. Maybe this was bound to happen.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
If there is more than one church that I could reasonably attend, how can my choice to go to one and not the other be distinguished from religious consumerism?
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
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.

It just goes to show that people attend churches on their own terms. They have become spiritual consumers not believers.
Have I got this right, EM? It is Christianity that we're talking about here, yes? You know, that belief system founded by the guy who said all that negative stuff about religious authority systems, who was accused by said systems of, amongst other things, ignoring the oppressive constraints laid down by such systems. Sheesh!
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
Have I got this right, EM? It is Christianity that we're talking about here, yes? You know, that belief system founded by the guy who said all that negative stuff about religious authority systems, who was accused by said systems of, amongst other things, ignoring the oppressive constraints laid down by such systems. Sheesh!

I often wonder, as I hear Christians speak and read their words, how many of the would become Christian if they were born 1st century Jews.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
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.

This is kind of like saying, "Your idea that oranges are sinful is interesting. Someday people might become open to eating apples."

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
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.

Finally, some honesty about what Protestantism is all about: making up your own religion as it suits you. But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
quote:
mousethief: Finally, some honesty about what Protestantism is all about: making up your own religion as it suits you.
Darn! He's onto us.
 
Posted by Tortuf (# 3784) on :
 
My impression over years of reading the Ships boards is that you are folks who generally take both versions of creation in Genesis as not being literal, but symbolic. And, you tend to take the point of view that the Gospels and the Letters were written by humans; humans who were striving to set out their understanding of God.

So, I am a bit surprised when y'all seem to want to do a lot of parsing of passages about homosexuality. Maybe I can join in on the fun.

So, how about a word count? How many words are about homosexuality out of the whole Bible?

Now, how many words are in the Bible? (If you are worried about the various translations count all the words in every single translation and average them out. Perhaps weighted towards the Vulgate because it is old and in a musty old language.)

Then, let's all count how many words are about slavery being OK, or maybe sacrificing children. If that is too icky, perhaps something about killing the priests of Baal, or every living thing in Jericho.

If you understand that the Bible has all sorts of bits that can cause you to recoil in horror because it was written by fallible people who has their own issues why give the bits about homosexuality so much weight?

Experience that God loves homosexuals every bit as much as any other person. Then let the narrow little souls who think they can judge homosexuals because of a few passages in a book that contains all those oh shit, did it really say that? passages delight in their own little fear filled stew. When they want to judge, ask them when they plan to sacrifice their kids, or get some slaves, or kill a priest of Baal.

Fuck em.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Finally, some honesty about what Protestantism is all about: making up your own religion as it suits you. But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

'Soul competency' is new to me. Googling shows that the term was first articulated and explained by a theologian in 1908, and so was not a foundational Baptist concept. It looks as though the SBs were officially happy to be identified with the term as recently as 2000, and I can't find an official rejection of it on the net, only individual detractors.

I can see that soul competency presents challenges to the church. It could lead to complete theological incoherence, and there's a certain postmodernity about it. OTOH, it's also a potentially very fruitful and liberating concept. It could certainly work in favour of positive biblical readings of homosexuality.
 
Posted by Stejjie (# 13941) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

According to the Southern Baptists website, they still hold to it.
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

According to the Southern Baptists website, they still hold to it.
You're a UK baptist aren't you Stejjie/ Isn't this compatible to what baptists generally believe?
 
Posted by Stejjie (# 13941) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

According to the Southern Baptists website, they still hold to it.
You're a UK baptist aren't you Stejjie/ Isn't this compatible to what baptists generally believe?
Yes, I am and it doesn't seem particularly outrageous/heretical to me; that each of us is ultimately responsible to God for our own lives. I can see how it can lead to a too-indivualistic view of faith, though I'm not sure it has to lead to that.

I'm also not sure it means what mousethief seems to suggest in his reply to Svitlana: it doesn't mean you have a free rein in what you believe, or a "pick and mix" view of Christianity (surely the Southern Baptists would be the last to accept that); just that, ultimately, it's between you and God.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

According to the Southern Baptists website, they still hold to it.
Okay investigating further I see that decisions made at their annual conventions are, strictly speaking, non-binding. Although I daresay if, through soul competency, you decide that baptism is not necessary, and refuse it, you probably wouldn't be accepted in the club.

quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
I'm also not sure it means what mousethief seems to suggest in his reply to Svitlana: it doesn't mean you have a free rein in what you believe, or a "pick and mix" view of Christianity (surely the Southern Baptists would be the last to accept that); just that, ultimately, it's between you and God.

I can't slide a knife between those pavers. Can you explain what you see as the difference? How outrageous must my claims of hearing the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture be before you --or other Baptists-- cry "too far!"? At that line, soul competency dies.

[ 04. October 2015, 17:35: Message edited by: mousethief ]
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
'Soul competency' is new to me. Googling shows that the term was first articulated and explained by a theologian in 1908, and so was not a foundational Baptist concept.

That does not follow. I am sure you could find a Baptist or three who will say that although the term was not yet coined, the concept it denotes was there all along.

(ETfix code)

[ 04. October 2015, 17:37: Message edited by: mousethief ]
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
The Wikipedia article says that soul competency means each person has the liberty to choose what his or her conscience or soul dictates is right. The Baptist Union (Great Britain) Declaration of Principle says that each church has liberty under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret and administer God's law.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The Wikipedia article says that soul competency means each person has the liberty to choose what his or her conscience or soul dictates is right. The Baptist Union (Great Britain) Declaration of Principle says that each church has liberty under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret and administer God's law.

Which would not be soul competency but parish (or if you prefer local-church) competency, surely? I can see how one could argue the former from Scripture*. The latter? That's a harder sell.

_____
*Although Paul's call to admonish one another seems to tell against it.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
I've had Orthodox Christians - albeit of a more 'zealous' or fundamentalist bent - tell me that I'm 'inventing my own religion' - to which I've riposted that I'm doing nothing of the kind, simply following leads and threads that we've all inherited from them - many moons ago ...

My question to Mousethief would be where does 'soul-competence' or an apparently overly individualist approach end and 'theologoumena' - which I understand the Orthodox are comfortable with - begin?

So, for instance, my Orthodox interlocutors would say that the Anglicans have gone their own way and done their own thing by taking a view of auricular confession that holds that, 'all can, none must, some should.'

Of course, evangelical Anglicans would consider that to be going too far ... but you get my drift.

Obviously, groups like the Baptists are going to be looser - by and large - on creedal and conciliar declarations - although, in some instances, such as most Southern Baptists, pretty strict and prescriptive on particular interpretations of particular texts.

But generally they're riffing on a commonly accepted theme - they aren't all sat in their rooms on their own inventing new doctrines and new perspectives every five minutes -- they're improvising around a tune that's been handed down.

How is that substantially different, say, to an Orthodoxen who says that the Proto-evangelium of James is 'pious legend' or RCs who ignore Papal strictures on contraception?
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I've had Orthodox Christians - albeit of a more 'zealous' or fundamentalist bent - tell me that I'm 'inventing my own religion' - to which I've riposted that I'm doing nothing of the kind, simply following leads and threads that we've all inherited from them - many moons ago ...

My question to Mousethief would be where does 'soul-competence' or an apparently overly individualist approach end and 'theologoumena' - which I understand the Orthodox are comfortable with - begin?

Theologoumena begin at the end of dogma. Soul competence says there is no dogma.

quote:
Obviously, groups like the Baptists are going to be looser - by and large - on creedal and conciliar declarations - although, in some instances, such as most Southern Baptists, pretty strict and prescriptive on particular interpretations of particular texts.
At the point they become prescriptive, soul competence ends, and they in fact believe only in limited soul competence. As do we. We then just disagree on where the line is, and who has authority to define it. And it seems to us that their understanding of that authority is confused and internally inconsistent, or even magical thinking.

quote:
How is that substantially different, say, to an Orthodoxen who says that the Proto-evangelium of James is 'pious legend' or RCs who ignore Papal strictures on contraception?
The one is imposing doctrines/dogmas on some things, which we admit we do, and not on others.

The other is an entirely different question about the relationship between the "two lungs." Which has nothing to do with dogma or or theologoumena per se; each side has its own of each. It's an apple to dogma's orange. While the dogmas of Orthodoxy are binding on me, the dogmas of a church I don't belong to are not. That seems so obvious as to be obvious. An entirely different thread and almost wholly unrelated to the dogma/theologoumena question.

[ 04. October 2015, 18:16: Message edited by: mousethief ]
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The Wikipedia article says that soul competency means each person has the liberty to choose what his or her conscience or soul dictates is right. The Baptist Union (Great Britain) Declaration of Principle says that each church has liberty under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret and administer God's law.

Which would not be soul competency but parish (or if you prefer local-church) competency, surely? I can see how one could argue the former from Scripture*. The latter? That's a harder sell.

_____
*Although Paul's call to admonish one another seems to tell against it.

There's surely plenty in Paul about bearing with each other, and his example of debating with James (telling him he was wrong!) and appealing to other leaders in the churches.

I would say that our Declaration establishes that people are not to launch off on their own, but to listen to voices within the congregation, to check out their insights against those of others, and to seek the guidance of the Spirit, which must entail reading scripture and taking note of Christian traditions.

Theology is always done within that continuing conversation which is Tradition.

It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
quote:
hatless: It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.
I have a beard (although probably not long enough).
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.

Big black hats? You're thinking of Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Our bishops by and large wear gold hats, our priests many colors, and our male laity, none. Women can wear whatever they want.

But you do not have a top-down hierarchy that gets to call the shots, unless I am very mistaken.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.

Big black hats? You're thinking of Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Our bishops by and large wear gold hats, our priests many colors, and our male laity, none. Women can wear whatever they want.

But you do not have a top-down hierarchy that gets to call the shots, unless I am very mistaken.

It depends which way up you are looking at it. If you have a hat on, you're probably standing on your feet in which case you're right: we're bottom up.

But I didn't think Orthodox hierarchy got to call the shots. I thought the past did that. Isn't 'we never change' your motto?
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
But I didn't think Orthodox hierarchy got to call the shots. I thought the past did that. Isn't 'we never change' your motto?

1. It is our motto but it is delusional. 2. Not all shots are permanent and universally binding. Our bishop tells us what translation of the liturgy to use, whether tonsured readers can wear hats when enrobed, whether we can have vesperal divine liturgies on the eves of Great Feasts, and many, many other things (those are just the ones that came immediately to mind (ones that bug me) (there are others as well)).

quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
hatless: It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.
I have a beard (although probably not long enough).
I never judge a man on the length of his, um, beard.

[ 04. October 2015, 18:46: Message edited by: mousethief ]
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
It's all about how we are constrained. Soul competence looks to me like an attempt to assert that the believer has no external constraint. And I don't buy it. It's never just about the individual, and a moment's reflection or a few years' experience will demonstrate that.

And discussions about the Bible, about Romans 1&2 for example, are really a way of talking to each other by proxy. The limits to interpretation are partly imposed by the text, but partly by all the other people that text also belongs to. Bible study is a public activity.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The limits to interpretation are partly imposed by the text, but partly by all the other people that text also belongs to. Bible study is a public activity.

I can go with that.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Yes, absolutely -and I like the idea of tradition or Tradition as a conversation ...

MT has answered my question to some extent but I'm not sure he understood what I was getting at with the RC reference - probably because I didn't express myself clearly.

Anyhow, I'm grateful for what he's shared.
 
Posted by Stejjie (# 13941) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
I'm also not sure it means what mousethief seems to suggest in his reply to Svitlana: it doesn't mean you have a free rein in what you believe, or a "pick and mix" view of Christianity (surely the Southern Baptists would be the last to accept that); just that, ultimately, it's between you and God.

I can't slide a knife between those pavers. Can you explain what you see as the difference? How outrageous must my claims of hearing the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture be before you --or other Baptists-- cry "too far!"? At that line, soul competency dies.
I'm far from an expert on soul competency - this is the first real reading I've done on it! - and I only had about 3-4 hours' sleep last night; so those are my excuses in case what follows is an incoherent mess. And hatless has also replied, probably better than I will (I'm really selling this, I can tell). With that in mind:

1) Here's a definition from this website Baptist distinctives:
quote:
Basically it means the God-given freedom and ability of persons to know and respond to God’s will.
So it's not just "believe what you want", it's more to do with each person having the competence to know and respond to God, which suggests to me (and I'm no expert) that this at least could be seen as a divine-led thing: God reaching out to all people and all people having the capacity to respond to him.

2) In one sense, I suppose you're right - you can believe what you want and no one can tell you otherwise. Freedom of religion, especially from government control, is a biggie for us (though sometimes I feel we're lacking in the 'extending it to others' department). But "accountability before God" is the key thing here: if you get it wrong (whatever 'get it wrong' means), then you've got to answer to God about it and you can't blame anyone else. As it says further down on that website,
quote:
With this competency and freedom comes responsibility and accountability. Choices have consequences.
You can't just do/believe what you want then claim soul competency as a defence if it leaves you in a mess.

3) Again from that list, soul competence - each individual's ability to know and respond to God - does not preclude listening to other voices within the local church, within the wider Church and, yes, within capital-T Tradition. These are good things and people to consult and the Spirit can and will speak through them: but they can't replace each person's personal accountability to God for how they live and how they respond (or not) to him. (I personally would take that further and suggest that doing this is absolutely essential - but would still want to hold on to that it's down to you what you do with what you hear as you seek God through these and, the biggie for Baptists - Scripture, which kind of gets "trump card" status over the others).

As I say, I'm no expert on soul competency and there may be others who could answer the question better. They're my first thoughts, though, for what they're worth.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
I personally would take that further and suggest that doing this is absolutely essential - but would still want to hold on to that it's down to you what you do with what you hear as you seek God through these and, the biggie for Baptists - Scripture, which kind of gets "trump card" status over the others.

Aye, but whose interpretation of Scripture? And how much weight does another person's, or institution's, interpretation of Scripture bear for me when I'm puzzling out the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my own life? There's the rub, the Great Undefined on the Baptist side. No amount of hand-waving will make this question go away, but few can answer it definitively, or will.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
MT has answered my question to some extent but I'm not sure he understood what I was getting at with the RC reference - probably because I didn't express myself clearly.

Well, if I didn't answer it, it's not because I was trying to avoid doing so. So I must assume it's because I didn't understand what you were asking.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
God reaching out to all people and all people having the capacity to respond to him.

So would you deny the exclusive points of TULIP?

quote:
In one sense, I suppose you're right - you can believe what you want and no one can tell you otherwise. Freedom of religion, especially from government control, is a biggie for us (though sometimes I feel we're lacking in the 'extending it to others' department).
Vehemently agree here.

quote:
But "accountability before God" is the key thing here: if you get it wrong (whatever 'get it wrong' means), then you've got to answer to God about it and you can't blame anyone else. As it says further down on that website,
quote:
With this competency and freedom comes responsibility and accountability. Choices have consequences.
You can't just do/believe what you want then claim soul competency as a defence if it leaves you in a mess.
But no earthly authority can tell me to knock it off. If I believe God is telling me to shoot women going to abortion clinics, I may get arrested and thrown in jail, and if I'm mature enough rejoice that I am suffering for the sake of the gospel, but under soul competency there is no ecclesial authority that can say I was wrong about what God wanted.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Well, yes ... that's what I said, I didn't explain myself very well Mousethief.

Anyhow, as you were ...
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
I don't like the word competence. It implies the soul is enough, that it has no need of anyone else. I understand the wish to reject authorities, but I don't think we ever stand alone. We are always in relationship. We form our beliefs and ideas through conversations, influences, tensions and reactions to and with and from others, but always in relationship.

It's never the self versus the world, because there is no self without the world.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
It's never the self versus the world, because there is no self without the world.

Sadly the idea that there is the self with the world has taken over a good swath of religious-right America. It is the Grand Lie of libertarianism, and a huge number of American Christians have swallowed it. It's depressing.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
'Soul competency' is new to me. Googling shows that the term was first articulated and explained by a theologian in 1908, and so was not a foundational Baptist concept.

That does not follow. I am sure you could find a Baptist or three who will say that although the term was not yet coined, the concept it denotes was there all along.


FWIW, I did come across one academic source which claimed that the Baptists (in England) were not originally inclined towards 'soul competency'.
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
Am I the only one who wants to compose a James Brown style song about soul competency?

Soul competency
You know you've got soul competency
Now give me some soul competency
Now break down ♪♫

 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But no earthly authority can tell me to knock it off. If I believe God is telling me to shoot women going to abortion clinics, I may get arrested and thrown in jail, and if I'm mature enough rejoice that I am suffering for the sake of the gospel, but under soul competency there is no ecclesial authority that can say I was wrong about what God wanted.

Although the flip side of that is that there's also no earthly authority to tell you that you must shoot women going to abortion clinics. Or (to take examples that have actually happened) ostracise and excommunicate people who have had abortions, or who have remarried after a divorce. Or that you must burn heretics, persecute Jews, or support racial segregation. Authoritarian religion has its problems.

Individualist religion does, too, of course. I've no reason to think that I'm intelligent, knowledgeable and holy enough to work out for myself all that God asks of me. As a Christian, I'm called to belong to a faith community which knows more than I do, and learn about God through membership of that body.

I think how I see it is that there are traditions and authorities within the Church (defined, me being a Protestant, as all those professing faith in Jesus) which I can go to:

* to tell me things I don't know;
* to cast light on doubtful or dubious questions;
* to show how other, better, Christians have done things;
* to make such decisions on religious observances as are best made collectively;
* to say what sources of scriptural authority have been found valuable;
* to guide me on how such matters have been, and should be interpreted...

... that sort of thing.

But no earthly authority can rightly require me to believe something that seems to me to be obviously wrong, or do that which is evil.

Applying this to the OP, my contention is that the traditional view of homosexuality is now in the "obviously wrong" category. No sound arguments have been, or can be, advanced in its defence. It relies solely on setting up authority against the best discernment of reason and conscience. Therefore it goes too far: and however many scriptures, popes, theologians, and traditional teachings are cited in support of authority, the most that should make me do is question my confidence that gay and straight relationships are morally equivalent. If I do that, and find (as anyone must find) that no good reasons for making the distinction are known to anyone, conscience wins, and authority loses.

Is that enough to clear me of the charge of "making up your own religion as it suits you"? Possibly not. But even so, I don't know how to believe, on authority, something that's clearly wrong.
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
Soul competency

Looking back over a lot of previous posts here....

Protestants generally have sometimes ended up being a bit individualistic in a way that can be selfish; at the same time I think Luther was basically right in the assertion that one man here on earth with God's Word on his side is effectively a majority.

Anabaptists generally regard bible interpretation as a matter for the church acting together, not just the individual. Where we have a problem with the RC, Orthodox, Anglican and similar is that they are basically 'Constantinian'; that is, derived from the era when the church was wrongly connected with the state in contradiction of scripture. That state connection led to a situation in which it was rather taken for granted that all in a state/society were 'Christian' by birth and infant baptism – yet of course many would not have faced the necessary steps of personal repentance and faith to be truly 'born again'.

This could even apply to leaders of the church – indeed in a necessarily worldly church, because of its links with and access to state power it would perhaps especially apply to leaders many of whom would be seeking leadership for its worldly power. That clearly happened in many cases in the RC church, eg the 'Borgia popes'. I doubt if the Orthodox can claim it doesn't ever happen in their circles, and state church Anglicanism is also not immune.

From an Anabaptist perspective, a church based on that kind of “everybody assumed to be a Christian” model, and compromised by worldly power in the state, does not really have the same 'competency' as a church made up of conscious/intentional believers who have been personally 'born again'. (It is not denied that even so not everybody in the church will be truly Christian – but at least there can't be the fundamental confusion that exists with a state church, and at least certain kinds of worldliness in the leadership are discouraged or impossible).

Anabaptists assert the right of biblical interpretation not as 'individualistic' but in opposition to the 'state church' situation. It is the state church, to our mind, which is relying on something quasi-magical in that they are asserting some kind of 'infallibility' in a leadership compromised by a wrongful relationship with the state and ipso facto demonstrably not infallible or anywhere near. In effect, ordinary Christians working together have an authority which a Borgia pope or similar can't realistically claim.
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
My last effectively cross-posted with Eliab's last. I'll hopefully be back later with my thoughts on it.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Luther contra mundum? Athanasius contra mundum?

Whether we are Anabaptists or otherwise, there's no such thing as a Church of One.

As Wesley said of the Trinity, 'God is in Himself a sweet Society.'

Also, Christ is the Word of God (capital W). The Bible is the word of God.

We do not approach the Bible as individuals. We approach it in community.

The Bible and tradition (or Tradition) forms a conservation to which we are invited - not a monolith to trip ourselves over on.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Although the flip side of that is that there's also no earthly authority to tell you that you must shoot women going to abortion clinics.

But I don't need an earthly authority. I've got the Bible and the Holy Ghost telling me what to do. That's what soul competency is all about.

quote:
But no earthly authority can rightly require me to believe something that seems to me to be obviously wrong, or do that which is evil.
Or that which is good. Or prevent you from doing that which is evil, as was my point. Without authority outside yourself, you are a law unto yourself, a law and a gospel both.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Where we have a problem with the RC, Orthodox, Anglican and similar is that they are basically 'Constantinian';

Zzzzzz.

quote:
that is, derived from the era when the church was wrongly connected with the state in contradiction of scripture.
Both the RCC nor the EOC predate Constantine by some hundreds of years. The Anabaptists, on the other hand, were derived from the individualism and anti-authoritarianism of the Reformation. This game plays both ways.

[ 05. October 2015, 13:45: Message edited by: mousethief ]
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Yes, but the Anabaptist answer to that, of course, would be that they had no option but to separate from the historic Churches because they were so compromised and so 'Constantinian' ...

So they are waiting for the RCC, the Orthodox, the Anglicans, Lutherans and everyone else to play catch-up and get with the programme because it is so self-evidently better than the alternatives because they're untainted by the world and are more likely to be properly 'born-again' than anyone else ...

There is an internal logic there, whether we agree with it or not.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
Of course there's the problem that Biblical interpretation by a large body of lay believers is something that was impossible for the first fifteen centuries of Christianity's history. Absent the printing press and widespread literacy, the kind of "all believers reading and interpreting the Bible" being argued here is an impossibility. If that's the way you're supposed to do Christian hermaneutics, it seems like a massive design flaw that the "right" way to do it was impossible for most of the religion's history.

[ 05. October 2015, 15:04: Message edited by: Crœsos ]
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Which, of course is why God providentially put it all right by providentially sending the Reformation and then the Anabaptists to put it all right ...
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
I think it's reasonable to claim that the Reformation was a product of the printing press.

And there's a symmetry in that it may be that the book, as in a folded and bound set of pages or codex as opposed to a scroll, was a product of Christianity. Travelling scriptures. Stick a leather cover on, slip it in a fold of your robes and head off to another country, whereas a scroll must never be taken out of doors, only unrolled with care, and be stored in a cabinet or a large jar.

The new relationship with scripture is already there in the codex, and fully realised in the vernacular printed Bible.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
And there's a symmetry in that it may be that the book, as in a folded and bound set of pages or codex as opposed to a scroll, was a product of Christianity. Travelling scriptures. Stick a leather cover on, slip it in a fold of your robes and head off to another country, whereas a scroll must never be taken out of doors, only unrolled with care, and be stored in a cabinet or a large jar.

The other advantage of books vs. scrolls is that books are what we'd now call "random access memory". If you want to read a certain passage, like Romans 13, you can simply open the book at that point (with a little bit of flipping back and forth). Scrolls, on the other hand, are sequential access. You can only read the scroll version of Romans 13 by first unrolling Romans 1 through 12 from one rod and then re-rolling them on the other rod. You don't have to read them all, but you do have to 'scroll' through them.

The book isn't "a product of Christianity" in the sense that it was invented by and for Christian use, but Christians were what would now be called "early adopters" to such a degree that their scriptures are simply referred to as "the Book" ("Bible").

[ 05. October 2015, 18:35: Message edited by: Crœsos ]
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Yes, I think it's reasonable to claim that the Reformation was a product - or by-product - of the printing press. Don't forget that the Catholics used the new technology too, though - for missals and Books of Hours and so forth.

I don't have an issue with the symmetry you mention nor the 'providentiality' or any of this - provided we hold these things in balance and tension - rather than the kind of 'hardly anything of value happened from about AD 150 to 1517' trope that seems to run through Anabaptism like a stick of rock ...
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Where we have a problem with the RC, Orthodox, Anglican and similar is that they are basically 'Constantinian';

Zzzzzz.

quote:
that is, derived from the era when the church was wrongly connected with the state in contradiction of scripture.
Both the RCC nor the EOC predate Constantine by some hundreds of years. The Anabaptists, on the other hand, were derived from the individualism and anti-authoritarianism of the Reformation. This game plays both ways.

Yes I expected the 'Zzzzz'. Still think my point is valid....

AIUI the church pre-Constantine was neither RCC nor EOC exactly as currently practised. Surely you can't speak about a 'Roman Catholic Church' (as opposed to 'the Roman branch of the Catholic Church') until there was the distinctive doctrine of the interpretative supremacy of the Pope, which again AFAICS was actually post-Constantine.

Fact remains that a state church, as both RCC and EOC were from Constantine onwards, has the problems I outlined above because of its connection to 'the world' and its interpretative competency is open to challenge for that reason.

Remember that Reformers and Anabaptists alike were reacting to an RCC which even many of its supporters (eg Erasmus) seem to have been increasingly unhappy about. While some of the changes that caused that unhappiness, and which the Reformers reacted against, were pre-Constantine, the being a state church 'fixed' some arguably dubious developments and paved the way for many more. (The EOC wasn't, AIUI, all that involved in the Reformation controversy).

The Anabaptists managed communal Bible study before widespread literacy by people who could read reading to others and those others learning the texts as much as they could. Accounts suggest that they were generally more biblically knowledgeable than their opponents. I'd think it would have been similar in the early church which was of course rather like Anabaptism.....
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
AIUI the church pre-Constantine was neither RCC nor EOC exactly as currently practised.

This is so obvious as to be obvious. But so what?

quote:
Surely you can't speak about a 'Roman Catholic Church' (as opposed to 'the Roman branch of the Catholic Church') until there was the distinctive doctrine of the interpretative supremacy of the Pope, which again AFAICS was actually post-Constantine.
There was no Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox Church because there was just The Church. But it sure as hell wasn't Anabaptist. The early church didn't give rise to Protestantism, let alone Anabaptism, whatever it did or whatever it became.

quote:
I'd think it would have been similar in the early church which was of course rather like Anabaptism.....
Of course it absolutely was NOT.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
Why wasn't the early church Anabaptist? All movements, Protestant, Congregationalist or Pentecostal find sympathetic support in scripture and also in earlier Christian traditions. Benedict and Francis of Assisi, for example, would clearly have both been members of the Baptist Union of Great Britain had it existed when they were alive.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Assuming that is, that the BUGB would be comfortable with the Marian devotion and high sacramental theology that Saints Benedict and Francis held to ...

Perhaps it would be. I chuckled at a story told by an Anglo-Catholic priest friend.

He was at an Anglican conference to which a prominent female Baptist minister was among the speakers.

Before she arrived to give her presentation, he was sitting over coffee in the waiting area outside the lecture theatre. Nearby, some evangelical Anglican clergy were deep in conversation and - unaware that he was a FiF Anglo-Catholic priest, were busily slagging off the Catholic wing of the CofE.

Terrible ... all those bells and smells, all that Mariolatory, all that fiddle-faddle ...

Just then, the Baptist minister arrived and, recognising one of the evangelical clergy, approached their table and gave effusive greetings. Unaware of what they'd been talking about she immediately launched into an account of her visit to Walsingham.

'I've just come back from Walsingham ... how marvellous! I had a fantastic time! Have you ever been? No? You really should, it's wonderful ... I joined in the devotions to Mary at both the RC and the Anglican shrines - so moving, so prayerful, so ...'

The faces of the evangelical clergy at the table dropped ...

[Big Grin]

So, perhaps you're right. Perhaps Benedict and Francis would have been good BUGB Baptists ...

[Biased]
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
Effusive? I can probably guess who that was!

Tradition establishes breadth. It's not really about ruling out the new and the different. We can all appeal to it and interpret it anew.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
I suspect you can, but I've forgotten the woman's name so couldn't help you there ...

Meanwhile, hatless, you would certainly make a good Anglican. I suspect you knew that already ...

[Big Grin] [Biased]

Meanwhile, I'm chuckling to myself as to how St Francis's stigmata, for instance, might play out at a Baptist Union committee meeting ...

Regional Secretary: So you're telling us that you had a vision and afterwards were left with marks corresponding to the wounds of Christ?

St Francis: Yes-a, that's-a-right ... would like to see them? Here, let-a-me strip off all-a my clothes ...

Regional Superintendent: Really, this is most irregular ...

Chair of Bible Study Committee: Steady on, do you have chapter and verse for that?

Regional Superintendent (sighs): He's not going to quote Galatians 6:17 at us is he?

St Francis: No, but I showed them at the last Church Meeting and they all-a agreed that is was-a ok. The vote went 60/40 ... but then ze Treasurer intervened to say it would attract more donations to the building fund - so we voted again and it was unanimous ...

Regional Secretary: Ah, now you're talking!

Regional Superintendent: Why didn't you mention this before? The Perugian province of the Umbrian region could do with some imaginative fund-raising initiatives ... perhaps this ... this stigmata thing might help?

Chair of Bible Study Committee: I'm not convinced of your exegesis but the plan sounds feasible to me ...

St Francis. Gracie.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
The Anabaptists managed communal Bible study before widespread literacy by people who could read reading to others and those others learning the texts as much as they could. Accounts suggest that they were generally more biblically knowledgeable than their opponents. I'd think it would have been similar in the early church which was of course rather like Anabaptism.....

Why? One of the most obvious traps of historical analysis is 'reasoning' along the lines of "this historical group was the 'good guys', so naturally they were exactly like me!" It's almost as bad as "this historical group was the 'bad guys', so naturally they were exactly like my present day enemies!"
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Also, there is a very obvious anachronism too insofar as there was widespread illiteracy in the 1st century too, just as there was in the 16th.

The idea of 1st century Christians sat around engaging in post-Reformation style Bible studies is a fatuous one.

That's not to say that Christians in the first centuries didn't debate or discuss theological points - of course they did. There's the famous quip by whoever it was (I've forgotten the source) who said that you couldn't visit the barber in Byzantium or have your horse groomed without the barber or the groom asking you whether you believed the Spirit proceded from the Father or from the Father and the Son ... and so on.

Of course, there wasn't a great deal of lay Bible study as such in the late middle ages but literate people were 'consuming' the scriptures in some form or other - through Psalms and daily offices, Books of Hours and so on.

So, no, any resemblance between early Christian practice and that of 16th century Anabaptists or their modern day descendants is purely coincidental ... [Biased]

That's not to disparage Anabaptism nor discourage its proponents - they've got some excellent values and strike a note at times that needs to be heard - but to imagine that they are somehow closer to 1st century Christianity is a fond notion.

Of course, I'm not saying that High Mass at the Brompton Oratory or what goes on at one's nearest Orthodox parish is exactly the same as what went on in the early Church either.

I agree with hatless that all of us - of whatever tradition - base our practices in our own particular understandings of scripture and tradition and we have all evolved from whatever went before ... nor am I saying that the practices of the Anabaptists have little or no precedent in scripture or tradition ...

But to claim that the early church looked and felt more like our own churches and assemblies than any one else's is a pretty daft claim all round.

I've been there, done that.
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
I've been wondering a bit: the religions that were competing with Christianity at 1C, like the Mithras cult for example, did they have a structure of written letters that were passed around? To what degree did this contribute to Christianity 'winning' in the end?
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
To be fair to 16th and 17th Anabaptists, they did develop a fairly high level of scholarship within their own communities. Some of them were also quite 'mystical' in a kind of medieval and more 'Catholic' way that some of their modern day descendants might find embarrassing.

Catechesis in the historic Churches has always been somewhat hit and miss - and I've heard enough of eye-rolling stories from both RC and Orthodox priests to convince me it's still an issue in those Churches today.

Overall, I've heard that theological education across much of the Orthodox world is in a pretty parlous state - and that's not me saying it, that's the Orthodox themselves.

That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, of course.

The Reformed, and I'm sure the Anabaptists, are no slouches when it comes to the study of the scriptures - but in some circles, I suspect, their approach can be rather narrower and less holistic than you might find among some of the other Christian traditions.

I am making very broad brush generalisations there as there are exceptions to every rule.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
That's an interesting point, Le Roc.

I suspect, in the case of Mithraism that what we would be dealing with is something where the teaching/values were transmitted almost exclusively by ritual and symbol rather than the exposition of sacred texts.

The cult of Mithras was similar to Freemasonry (and I'm not positing a direct connection) in that you learned particular rituals, passwords and codas in order to progress through each level.

It was also a lot more restrictive in its appeal - primarily to military men and officials - whereas Christianity was broader in scope.

Of course, I would say this wouldn't I, but in the case of Christianity you have a both/and thing going on - the performance and transmission of dramaturgy and ritual (primarily in the eucharist) and the exposition and proclamation of beliefs from sacred texts.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
I've been wondering a bit: the religions that were competing with Christianity at 1C, like the Mithras cult for example, did they have a structure of written letters that were passed around? To what degree did this contribute to Christianity 'winning' in the end?

The most obvious competitor to Christianity at the time was Judaism, and this was about the time period where what was known as the "Oral Torah" was first being committed to parchment in what would become known as the Mishnah, so there's that.

I know Orphism had an extensive written corpus, now largely lost. The Homeric Hymns are another example of religious texts circulating in the first century Mediterranean. Part of the problem is that a lot of these other religions (like Mithraism) were Mystery Cults, meaning that there was secret knowledge only imparted to initiates and not to be passed on to outsiders. "Secret knowledge" is, of course, best imparted orally. In cases where writing this secret knowledge down was absolutely necessary only a few well guarded copies would be made. Interestingly the gnostics seem to be a Christian adaptation of the idea of the Mystery Cult.

Another interesting religious writing that's come down to us from that time is a description of the processes and rituals associated with the mummification of the Apis bull. Because of this we actually know more about how the Egyptians mummified the Apis bull than we do about the equivalent process for humans. Humans died all the time, so their mummification process could be passed on orally (and through practical, hands on training). There was only one Apis bull at a time and it could live up to thirty years, so it was distinctly possible that the master embalmers who had worked on the last Apis bull would be dead by the time the next one needed their services. Hence the need for preserving the process in written form.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
Gamaliel

It seems that lots of good Protestants admire RC spirituality. Unfortunately, they're not keen on RC 'rules' (namely on marriage, sexuality and the priesthood, etc.)

Soul competency could be useful in that it allows to us as individuals to take what we like and ignore the rest, but of course that doesn't mean other Protestants have to approve of our choice. Maybe there's no such thing as a 'church of one', but the official teachings of a church are probably not the primary attraction when ordinary people choose to inhabit its pews. And when it comes to the Baptists, I think a lot of them would like to have their cake and eat it....

As it happens, I participated in a Marian pilgrimage at Walsingham earlier this year. It was moving, and was helpful to me at the time. But I wouldn't dream of becoming a RC! Perhaps in future someone will create a merger of RC spirituality, URC tolerance and Baptist dynamism and positive growth stats. With some CofE visibility. Just for the British context!
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
The Anabaptists managed communal Bible study before widespread literacy by people who could read reading to others and those others learning the texts as much as they could. Accounts suggest that they were generally more biblically knowledgeable than their opponents. I'd think it would have been similar in the early church which was of course rather like Anabaptism.....

Why? One of the most obvious traps of historical analysis is 'reasoning' along the lines of "this historical group was the 'good guys', so naturally they were exactly like me!" It's almost as bad as "this historical group was the 'bad guys', so naturally they were exactly like my present day enemies!"
Had my tongue slightly in my cheek when I wrote that - but clearly the early church was a long way from the formal institution that arose by the end of the 4th Cent, and the Anabaptists patterned their church life on the NT evidence so naturally the two would be significantly 'rather like' each other.

And the assorted sniping here, while quite funny, is not really answering my point that
a) a church redefined to be part of the state has changed in ways which put a big question mark on its interpretative competency, and
b) it was that state church and its derivatives/successors which went from simply teaching "Christians consider gay sex to be wrong" to the much nastier position that "Our 'Christian' state must impose Christian standards on all and therefore must criminalise and persecute those who engage in gay sex". A pretty good example of a serious lack of interpretative competency....
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Had my tongue slightly in my cheek when I wrote that - but clearly the early church was a long way from the formal institution that arose by the end of the 4th Cent, and the Anabaptists patterned their church life on the NT evidence so naturally the two would be significantly 'rather like' each other.

Here's this version of church history in graphic form.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
I wouldn't be averse to that kind of combination, SvitlanaV2 ...
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Had my tongue slightly in my cheek when I wrote that - but clearly the early church was a long way from the formal institution that arose by the end of the 4th Cent, and the Anabaptists patterned their church life on the NT evidence so naturally the two would be significantly 'rather like' each other.

Here's this version of church history in graphic form.
Very funny - but NOT my version of Church History, as it happens. And still not actually
answering the important points I made earlier.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Had my tongue slightly in my cheek when I wrote that - but clearly the early church was a long way from the formal institution that arose by the end of the 4th Cent, and the Anabaptists patterned their church life on the NT evidence so naturally the two would be significantly 'rather like' each other.

Here's this version of church history in graphic form.
Isn't that everyone's version of church history?

The first bit is the problem area, the early church which we all need to claim in some way. No one's roots can begin in the Reformation, and the Bible is inseparable from the earliest churches, so we can't start from the Bibke. We have to find our roots back in the early history but, to avoid looking silly, find them in a way that is not exclusive, but leaves room for others to find their roots there as well.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Here's this version of church history in graphic form.

Very funny - but NOT my version of Church History, as it happens.
Seems pretty close to what you're arguing: that "Christianity" existed for a century or two after Christ, ceased to exist, and was only recently resurrected in the form of your particular church.

quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
And still not actually answering the important points I made earlier.

If you insist. Your points were:

a) that those who disagree with you (and therefore Jesus) about the proper relationship between church and state were not just wrong, but because of this disagreement have revealed themselves as utterly incompetent at interpreting Christian scripture

b) that those who disagree with you (and therefore the "true" form of Christianity practiced by the Apostles) about whether society can use religious teachings to enforce codes of behavior are (again) not only wrong but literally not competent to read and understand Christian scripture.

It's an arrogant position, but that doesn't necessarily make it incorrect. What's striking is that these are positions with remarkably little scriptural backing. There's no New Testament passage saying "don't be theocrats", which is surprising given how widespread the practice is in the Old Testament. Usually when the New Testament breaks with some longstanding Old Testament tradition (dietary restrictions, allowing non-Israelites to join the faith, which Jewish rituals, if any, do Gentile converts have to follow, etc.) there's a lot of ink spilled discussing, justifying, explaining, and expounding on the break from prior tradition. On the supposed doctrine of separating church and state though, there is silence. Silence and a lot of historical "Christians" who apparently saw no conflict between the two cooperating. Which is surprising for a doctrine that is supposedly so clear that failure to notice is demonstration of incompetence.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
Plus I'm not really sure what your usual hobby horse about church/state separation is supposed to prove about your claim that naturally the first century church had Bible study just the same way modern anabaptists do. It seems, at best, a tangent.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
And the assorted sniping here, while quite funny, is not really answering my point that
a) a church redefined to be part of the state has changed in ways which put a big question mark on its interpretative competency, and
b) it was that state church and its derivatives/successors which went from simply teaching "Christians consider gay sex to be wrong" to the much nastier position that "Our 'Christian' state must impose Christian standards on all and therefore must criminalise and persecute those who engage in gay sex". A pretty good example of a serious lack of interpretative competency....

It's the first teaching that I'm discussing in the OP. "Christians consider gay sex to be wrong". Why? Because the Bible seems to say so? That's an answer to the question "Why do Christians consider that?" but not an answer to "Why is it actually wrong?"

The difficulty is that there appears to be no one who can tell me why gay sex is wrong. I know for a fact that you can't, because we did all that on the Hell thread, and you've got nothing. No one else can either. The harder they try, the stupider their arguments appear. It is, literally, an indefensible proposition, now that we know that gay people are just like straights, only more gay. There's no discernible basis for making a moral distinction.

It seems to me that you are suggesting that the plain meaning of the Bible, no matter how immoral and absurd it may seem, is to be preferred to the best moral judgement human beings are capable of. If you are saying that, the whole 'Constantinian' point is a bit of a red herring, because however compromised the Constantinian churches may be, you actually agree with them that "Gay sex is wrong because the Bible says so - just accept it". That they (or some of them) go on to try to impose the Bible on others is deplorable, of course, but so long as we are just talking about how Christians free of state coercion should choose to live, you and they are on the same page.

And that is what I'm talking about. I don't see that gay sex could possibly be wrong in circumstances where straight sex would not be wrong. Am I free to interpret scripture against its natural meaning, for no other reason than that it's natural meaning is obviously wrong?
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
Whether or not the Bible is wrong or ridiculous regarding homosexuality is a different issue, ISTM.

Within their own groups Christians may believe whatever they like, no matter how peculiar, inconvenient or nonsensical it seems to some. The question is rather whether they should have the right to impose their particular theology or moral universe on the whole society.

A truly non-Constantian church would make no Christian demands on the sexual behaviour of the wider society. Only those individuals who joined this particular church, or were raised in it and decided to say, would be obliged to grapple with its demands.

In the British context, of course, various churches and clergy can make noises in the direction of parliament, but no one is really obliged to pay much attention. And many clergy and laity alike ignore or defy some of the teachings of their own denominations. I'd say that Constantinianism in our context now mostly serves the purpose of keeping the Christian 'brand' in the secular public consciousness.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Why wasn't the early church Anabaptist?

Because the early church was hierarchical and sacramental.
 
Posted by Arethosemyfeet (# 17047) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Why wasn't the early church Anabaptist?

Because the early church was hierarchical and sacramental.
And recognised infant Baptism, making re-Baptism not just unnecessary but heretical.
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Why wasn't the early church Anabaptist?

Because the early church was hierarchical and sacramental.
And recognised infant Baptism, making re-Baptism not just unnecessary but heretical.
Not exclusively. And, I do wonder how the early church "got" to infant baptism from the practice of adult initiation, accompanied by cleansing water, which was much in evidence before.

It depends of course what you believe about baptism: if you believe it brings you into the church then you will have a very different understanding as opposed to those who believe that it (baptism) is a personal testimony and a sign of already being a believer. A child can't give a personal, verbal testimony: the only thing they can "be" is there.
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
1. In the British context, of course, various churches and clergy can make noises in the direction of parliament, but no one is really obliged to pay much attention.

2.And many clergy and laity alike ignore or defy some of the teachings of their own denominations.

1. No one is obliged to pay ANY attention - unless of course they want somoen to beat up or project their anger onto.

2. True. That's me as well. There are those in my own "denomination" who are gay - more openly so now - in contradiction of the ministerial "rules." There are others, like Steve Chalke, who look for change on a wider approach to the same issue.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Why wasn't the early church Anabaptist?

Because the early church was hierarchical and sacramental.
And recognised infant Baptism, making re-Baptism not just unnecessary but heretical.
The early church would resemble Judaism, would it not? The variations and additions occurring over time.
ISTM, the early Christians would need a lot of "instruction" to fit into the contemporary churches of their spiritual descendants.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
Early Church is not a precise term, but if we look at church life as Paul knew it, the first NT churches, it appears not to have been hierarchical (a hierarch is literally a high priest) and to have been informal and variable in its breaking of bread.

Two generations later, still within the NT period, the servants of the churches start to be called elders and considered worthy of respect because of their position - we're rapidly heading towards office and status, though still far short of anything you could call a hierarchy.

Who was the first high priest or bishop in the modern sense, I wonder; someone able to exercise control through an authority structure? Not Irenaeus or Clement or Ignatius, I'd think. Late 3rd Century, probably.

Similarly the origins of infant baptism are unclear, as is the style of worship and church life in the beginnings. I find the view that Christians found their place within the groups of God-fearers, the penumbra of non-Jewish worshippers that formed around synagogues in Graeco-Roman communities persuasive. So I don't see the churches importing many Jewish practices into their worship, though they would have had a Jewish flavour.

This is a fun area for guesswork. If we all wrote an essay describing our visit to a Christian church in Ephesus in 180CE you could probably tell at once which 21st Century denomination we belonged to. You might even be able to distinguish between a Methodist and a URCer.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Well, it does seem that the Apostle Paul was prepared to be a lot more 'authoritative' on some things than others - he didn't seem to have qualms about stating when he believed he was speaking ex cathedra, as it were, or when he was allowing lee-way and wiggle-room ...

Not that I think that he or any of the others was wandering around with a triple-tiara or wearing a funny hat ...

The infant/adult baptism thing is a condundrum ... I was once strongly credo-baptist but from what I can gather from what I've read about the 'Early Church' - in all its forms, so far as we can gather - both infant and believers' baptism ran concurrently - and that still applies today in the historic Big C Churches - the Orthodox will baptise both infants and adults - and in some jurisdictions - controversially - even adults who have been baptised previously in other Christian churches.

I think you're right that if we were all to write an essay imagining a visit to a 1st or 2nd century church it'd say more about our respective denominations and traditions than it would about the imagined church itself ...

There was a risible example in Arthur Wallis's 'The Radical Christian' back in the early 1980s in which he imagined a visit to 1st century Ephesus. It sounded like his own restorationist house-church only in togas ...

I had a lot of time for Arthur, but that went too far ...

When I first read the sub-apostolic Fathers - Iranaeus, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch - I was struck by how 'sacramental' and heirarchical the whole thing sounded. I'd gone there to check out and to mine 'proof-texts' for the continuation of restorationist style 'apostles and prophets' rather than nasty bishops, priests and deacons ... and there I found the second and third generation of Christians apparently practising things I would associate with the Orthodox and RCs (although not yet in a fully 'realised' form) ...

I've been challenged by that by some Baptists. 'That's not what I saw when I read it ...' which may or may not say something more about them than it does about me - or perhaps it says something about both of us?

[Big Grin] [Biased]

Who was it who said that the first century church disappeared into a dark tunnel at the close of the century to emerge around the middle of the next with Metropolitan bishops, priests and deacons?

[Biased]

I'm sure there was plenty of variation - I've read that scholars have identified at least 30 distinct forms of Christianity in the first centuries - some of it rather Gnostic, some of it closer to what gradually emerged as received orthodoxy ...

I don't think any of us can, say, point to the Brompton Oratory or to Butt Lane Baptist and say, 'there you are, this is closest to how it would have been ...'

I'm not even sure it's the right question to ask.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Proponents of traditional episcopacy do draw on hints and suggestions in Clement and the others - the way they appealed to some notion of apostolic succession for instance - the way they expected some of their comments/suggestions or instructions to apply to other places beyond their own immediate setting ... the rather 'high' way they talk about elders representing Christ and so on ...

It's all there if you've a mind to find it.

If we've a mind not to, then we can come up with alternative explanations.

I'll be accused of post-modernism again, but it's back to the thing about assessing things through the lens of whatever tradition we adhere to or have been most influenced by.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
"Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."

Ignatius of Antioch is pretty darned early as these things go. If you want to say that this kind of ecclesial hierarchy is wrong, then the church went wrong long before Constantine. What it sometimes sounds like some Evangelicals are saying is, as soon as the ink was dry on John's gospel, the entire church disappeared, only to reappear in Wittenburg 1400 years later.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Yes, that was one of the quotes I had in mind, Mousethief ... and imagine my shock as an earnest young restorationist evangelical when I found it ...

'That can't be right ... they all went to hell in a hand-cart as soon as the ink was dry on the pages of the NT ... the fools, the goddarn fools ...'

[Biased]

No, actually what I thought was, 'Heck, perhaps we've overlooked something? Perhaps ... just perhaps ...'

I'm still working on that one 30 years on ...

[Biased]

It all depends, of course, how we understand these things. The Apostle Paul makes some pretty hyberbolic statements too - 'I bear in my body the marks of Christ' and so on and who the heck knows what he was on about in saying that he was 'filling up what was lacking in Christ's afflictions ...'

Colossians 1:24
http://biblehub.com/colossians/1-24.htm

I still don't think I've ever seen a satisfactory explanation of what he was on about there any more than I've ever seen a satisfactory one that attempts to square the circle between Paul in Romans and James in his 'right, strawy epistle' ...

But's that another issue ...

I think the safest thing we can say - he said hedging his bets - [Biased] - is that whoever we are we share some kind of family resemblance to those first Christians - otherwise how would we even recognise one another or begin to dialogue?

And that what later developed into the full-on heirarchical three-fold ministry thing - bishops, priests and deacons - was there from a relatively early stage ... how early is impossible to determine - but the seeds were there ...

Of course, the same seeds could have grown in a different direction - history is full of what-ifs - but the fact is, they grew in the direction they did - whether we like it or not.

We can either try to place bean-poles alongside them to train them in the direction we would prefer or we can try to prune things right back and hope to start again ... which is of course fraught with difficulty if not an impossibility.

We are all of us who we are because of who has gone before.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Of course, what Ignatius meant by 'bishop' wasn't what RCs and Orthodox understand by the term ... he wasn't referring to an heirarchical or sacerdotal function, he was referring to an 'elder' - just as the Anabaptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Brethren ... [delete as appropriate] have today ...

[Biased] [Big Grin]

Whatever he did mean by it, it's pretty clear that things did develop in that heirarchical direction ...

What evangelical Protestants and other 'low' church people would assert, of course, is that this wasn't ideal and not the trajectory that things should have followed ...

The onus is on the RCs and the Orthodox and other episcopal or heirarchical churches to prove that it was and on the lower church types to prove that it wasn't ...

Ultimately, it's a 'faith decision' either way - however much chapter and versing we might engage in ...
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Early Church is not a precise term, but if we look at church life as Paul knew it, the first NT churches, it appears not to have been hierarchical (a hierarch is literally a high priest) and to have been informal and variable in its breaking of bread.

Two generations later, still within the NT period, the servants of the churches start to be called elders and considered worthy of respect because of their position - we're rapidly heading towards office and status, though still far short of anything you could call a hierarchy.

Given the way the early church deliberately established and maintained a leadership council from its earliest days, I think you're defining "hierarchical" much too narrowly.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
The author of Acts tells us that the post resurrection disciples restored their number to the magic twelve. He also tells us that the total number of believers numbered about 120, and that they were in Jerusalem. I'm not sure how accurate this is; I suspect there is a lot of surmise here. But it doesn't look anything like the creation of a hierarchy to me. A hierarchy needs levels of authority and well-defined roles and probably titles. People love titles.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The author of Acts tells us that the post resurrection disciples restored their number to the magic twelve. He also tells us that the total number of believers numbered about 120, and that they were in Jerusalem. I'm not sure how accurate this is; I suspect there is a lot of surmise here. But it doesn't look anything like the creation of a hierarchy to me. A hierarchy needs levels of authority and well-defined roles and probably titles. People love titles.

"The Twelve" (capitalized!) seems a lot like a title, and a group set aside with special authority. They seemed to have the authority to delegate tasks (defining roles!) and set up additional layers of hierarchy. You've even got examples of this group setting policy and controlling the actions of field agents. Even within the Twelve you seem to have an "Inner Circle" consisting of Peter, John, and James.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Then we're all stuffed ...

I've seen with charismatic house-churches how apparent informality and bonhomie can mask naked ambition and jockeying for position. At least the historic Churches are upfront and don't try to mask the heirarchy.
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
quote:
Gamaliel: I've seen with charismatic house-churches how apparent informality and bonhomie can mask naked ambition and jockeying for position.
Don't get me started.

[ 07. October 2015, 18:51: Message edited by: LeRoc ]
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
1. In the British context, of course, various churches and clergy can make noises in the direction of parliament, but no one is really obliged to pay much attention.

2.And many clergy and laity alike ignore or defy some of the teachings of their own denominations.

1. No one is obliged to pay ANY attention - unless of course they want somoen to beat up or project their anger onto.

2. True. That's me as well. There are those in my own "denomination" who are gay - more openly so now - in contradiction of the ministerial "rules." There are others, like Steve Chalke, who look for change on a wider approach to the same issue.

Well, I presume that the govt felt obliged to make the CofE formally exempt from having to conduct SSMs because some CofE (arch)bishops had requested it. If they hadn't made such 'noises' perhaps the legal situation for the CofE would've been rather different. In this case, the CofE had the power to influence the govt.

One Muslim group actually thought it unfair that they couldn't be granted a similar exemption, which leads to the second point: ISTM that nothing legal is stopping Baptist and other clergy who currently conduct legal marriages from conducting SSMs if they want to. The problem appears to be that most of the clergy who would like to do so are wedded to denominational restrictions. Few of them are willing to risk their jobs and/or denominational affiliations the way that Steve Chalke has done.

In theory, independent congregations are ideally placed to host SSMs (or to be otherwise positive about gay relationships), since only their own members have to be convinced that this is a good idea, not a whole denomination. In reality, those Christians who are the most tolerant on these matters often appear to be the most rigid about denominational allegiance. This isn't entirely sensible, IMO.

The future may belong to independent congregations who forge their own path, rather than to those who are waiting for 1000s of other people in other circumstances, sometimes globally, to come to a shared denominational 'biblical interpretation' on one thing or another.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The author of Acts tells us that the post resurrection disciples restored their number to the magic twelve. He also tells us that the total number of believers numbered about 120, and that they were in Jerusalem. I'm not sure how accurate this is; I suspect there is a lot of surmise here. But it doesn't look anything like the creation of a hierarchy to me. A hierarchy needs levels of authority and well-defined roles and probably titles. People love titles.

"The Twelve" (capitalized!) seems a lot like a title, and a group set aside with special authority. They seemed to have the authority to delegate tasks (defining roles!) and set up additional layers of hierarchy. You've even got examples of this group setting policy and controlling the actions of field agents. Even within the Twelve you seem to have an "Inner Circle" consisting of Peter, John, and James.
I suppose even a Baptist church is hierarchical if you look at it like that.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
My experience of the Baptists is that they are less heirarchical than most but not as non-heirarchical as they might like to think they are.

They are often dominated by strong families or deacons. Sometimes they are an inverse heirarchy with the minister being shat on by the congregation.
.
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
by Croesos;
quote:
Plus I'm not really sure what your usual hobby horse about church/state separation is supposed to prove about your claim that naturally the first century church had Bible study just the same way modern anabaptists do. It seems, at best, a tangent.

Neither is a tangent; two separate points.

Somebody queried the possibility of Bible study in a relatively illiterate society and I pointed to the historical record of the ways Anabaptists achieved sufficient biblical awareness for meaningful discussion/interpretation by the church/congregation as a whole rather than totally individualistic. A similar (NOT absolutely identical) kind of situation seems to be implied for the NT church as well, and certainly possible for them.

The point about the state church is that when the church has been redefined from "All the born again believers" to "everybody baptised as a baby in our state", the resultant worldly body is so different from the NT church that it can't realistically make the kind of quasi-magical claim to special interpretative 'competency' that has been made by such institutions, for example EOC and RCC, let alone more narrowly nationalist bodies like Anglicans and Lutherans.

The non-state church is not exactly perfect; but it at least belongs to and is comprised of those who have personally chosen their faith when that faith does not carry worldly advantage and may even be risky.

I've just got back late from an extended period off line and I'm going to need some time to absorb what's happened in my absence - the above is just a minor point I felt I could clear up quickly. Back tomorrow....
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The author of Acts tells us that the post resurrection disciples restored their number to the magic twelve.

Those were not the disciples. Those were the apostles. There were many many disciples. Mary and Martha and Lazarus were disciples but not apostles.

On the day of its birth the church already had a hierarchy: the apostles and everybody else. Then they created the diaconate before the ink was dry on Acts 2. And Paul is already using "episcopos" ("overseer") and telling Timothy what to demand from them. Timothy not being one of the 12, nor was Paul, but under Paul and over the episcopoi in his locale. Sounds pretty darned hierarchical to me.
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
ISTM that nothing legal is stopping Baptist and other clergy who currently conduct legal marriages from conducting SSMs if they want to. The problem appears to be that most of the clergy who would like to do so are wedded to denominational restrictions. Few of them are willing to risk their jobs and/or denominational affiliations the way that Steve Chalke has done.

That's right - it is perfectly possible.

In the BUGB set up you could be removed from the list as an "accredited" minister for certain "infringements" one of which is promoting same sex relationships as equivalents to opposite sex ones. Any such removal doesn't stop you being the minister of a local church - there's a significant opportunity or threat here (depending on your view of such things).

In BUGB the denomination has few controls over the local church - baptist eccelesiology emphasises the decision making process and power being in the gathered community of the local church. A lot o churches (like the local ones here) have had ministers who have been "called" by the church but who are not accredited ministers through the denomination. In some areas there are retired Anglican Priests filling the roles.

It's all moot anyway. Steve Chalke has written and done what he did (performed a SSB in a baptist context) and he's received no censure. The precedent has been set and the door is wide open - provided the local church agree that it is ok to do it, then practically and legally it can be done.

[ 08. October 2015, 05:04: Message edited by: ExclamationMark ]
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The author of Acts tells us that the post resurrection disciples restored their number to the magic twelve.

Those were not the disciples. Those were the apostles. There were many many disciples. Mary and Martha and Lazarus were disciples but not apostles.

On the day of its birth the church already had a hierarchy: the apostles and everybody else. Then they created the diaconate before the ink was dry on Acts 2. And Paul is already using "episcopos" ("overseer") and telling Timothy what to demand from them. Timothy not being one of the 12, nor was Paul, but under Paul and over the episcopoi in his locale. Sounds pretty darned hierarchical to me.

Alternatively, the terms disciples and the Twelve, are often used with imprecision and apparently interchangeably. We have varying lists of the Twelve and no information beyond a name for several, which might imply that all the gospel writers knew was that there should be a dozen of them.

Other people can be described as those who followed Jesus, but sometimes as disciples, which is a surprise since it is usual reference is to the Twelve or members of the group. But indeed, Mary of Bethany is described as a disciple, though English translations often conceal that.

My suspicion is that Jesus called and involved in his mission both men and women. When he sent out the Seventy, I think he sent out couples, a woman with a man. I think he talked about the restoration of Israel, and in the retelling, 12 and the Twelve got written in. I doubt if there ever were 12 of the (male) disciples who could say that they were the Twelve.

So in Acts I think we've still got this retrospective fitting of the mixed sex mission of Jesus into a pattern of 12 important men.

The term apostle is very loose. Paul, muscling in to the church claims it for himself and gives it to various other significant people amongs the churches, female and male.

I think the letters to Timothy are very late, and the term supervisor shows this. And how depressing it is. There was a new way of handling power in the beginning. Remember who is the greatest? Remember children and tax collectors and street workers? It is not to be so among you. But it is so, and you can see the grubby tide of male ambition for power and prestige moving in before Jesus' body is cold in his grave. If he could see us now ..

Do you know what was the biggest and most beautiful house I've been in over the last twenty years or so? It was a suffragan bishop's palace. I've not come across wealth and privilege like that outside the church for half my lifetime.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
I'm not sure how much personal wealth Anglican bishops or suffragan bishops have - but they do tend to have nice pads ...

I've certainly come across US-style independent charismatic evangelical leaders who live a more lavish lifestyle than would be the norm for Baptist ministers and Anglican clergy.

I'm not sure any Christian tradition denies that there were women among the 'apostolic band' as it were - there are plenty of NT references to women playing prominent roles and operating alongside menfolk - Priscilla and Aquila spring to mind.

In the Orthodox tradition, St Nina Equal-to-the-Apostles is venerated for bringing the Gospel to Georgia, if I understand it correctly.

The only difference, it seems to me, is that RCs and Orthodox tend to put Capital Letters on these things and treat them in a more sacrosanct kind of way ...

Others will tell me, but I'm not sure how this works out on the ground. I've seen RCs and Orthodox lay people answer back, heckle and argue with their clergy in a way that would have astonished and alarmed me back in my restorationist house-church days where, for all the bonhomie and apparent informality, there was a highly deferential and very unhealthy attitude towards the leaders and elders.

My wife has an issue with bishops since two pompous blokes in purple shirts called her 'young lady' when she worked behind the counter in a Christian bookshop.

My own experience of Anglican bishops has largely been more positive - and at the risk of hero-worship, Rowan Williams has to be one of the most humble men I've met.

Some of them are complete arses, though, but then so are some leaders, ministers, pastors and what-have-you in other churches ... no tradition has the monopoly on pillocks.

On the issue of early Christian Bible study and any analogies between this and early Anabaptist practice - again, I'm not sure this is the right question to ask. That's not to say the Anabaptist approach was 'wrong' or that it needs some kind of NT or early centuries justification in order to give it a green-light ...

What the Anabaptists did, in effect, was to democratise the process - which is no bad thing - but their own micro-communities could - and did - become pretty rigid and isolated. That's always the danger of the sectarian model.

The upside, of course, is that it provides a model you can regulate at a local level - in the case that Steve cites by somehow regulating and determining who is and isn't 'born again' according to his definition of the term.

Again, Steve writes as if there is one, single, incontrovertible way in which a term derived from the NT - in this case 'born again' can be understood. The various Christian traditions understand it differently. A sacramentalist would understand it very differently to how an evangelical understands the term.

Which brings us back to the interpretation and to the tradition thing again. As ever.

There are plenty of non-State, non-'Constantinian' churches which would understand the term differently to how Steve Langton is applying it here - so again the standard fall-back mantra of 'Yah boo Constantine!' doesn't fit as neatly as he seems to suggest.
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
by Gamaliel;
quote:
Again, Steve writes as if there is one, single, incontrovertible way in which a term derived from the NT - in this case 'born again' can be understood. The various Christian traditions understand it differently. A sacramentalist would understand it very differently to how an evangelical understands the term.

Which brings us back to the interpretation and to the tradition thing again. As ever.

I'd accept that a 'sacramentalist' in a non-state church has, or at least can have, a somewhat different view to one in a state church. But history rather suggests that when you baptise everybody indiscriminately you end up with a lot of nominal Christians who have little reality of personally facing their sins, repenting of them, and understanding they need a changed relationship to God. And they have little motive to go beyond outward and superficial conformity to the state requirement of, well, outward and superficial conformity!

The kind of 'born again' described in the Bible would rather seem to require voluntary faith, at least humanly speaking. Put this back into the NT context, Nicodemus (and Jesus' other early hearers) had undergone the 'sacrament' of circumcision; yet Jesus clearly thought that insufficient and challeged Nicodemus to go beyond that dependence on a rite.

When different Christian traditions understand something differently there are various options.

One is to simply check whether the differences matter; they may just be differences of emphasis which are essentially saying the same thing, and the church may be richer for reconciling and incorporating both approaches.

Where there is contradiction, and the differences can't just be reconciled, then you have to go into the interpretation/tradition thing and try and work out who is right. And in this case I don't think there are many on the Ship who actually disagree with me that the state church was a considerable and significant misstep. As I said above, it involves redefining who is the church, a change from church of voluntary believers 'in but not of the world' to a church of 'everybody in our (very much 'of the world') state'.

There will be people in that mass who have truly repented and have true faith; but the institution is surely no longer 'THE CHURCH' as defined in the NT. And there is no guarantee of the leaders being among the true believers when their appointment can involve all kinds of worldly politics and when there is a considerable incentive of worldly benefit in being a church leader. Such institutions (eg the RCC) have claimed special interpretative competency (capital-T Tradition) - but when they are fundamentally different in nature to the NT church, by reason of their state-church status, is that claim credible?

As far as I can see, all the bodies that claim such special competency do in fact suffer that question about their credibility from being, or having been, in that kind of entanglement in/confusion with the world. And if they can't make a realistic claim to authority, then it seems reasonable to go back to the Bible - as Jesus did in opposition to the worldly Jewish authorities of his day. Anabaptism seeks to do that - not in a vacuum, but with a healthy distrust of worldly 'authorities'.

Can we perhaps leave this issue aside for a bit - though bearing it in mind - and get back to the OP? It's all very well to discuss 'tradition' academically - but it may be enlightening to look at how things work out in a 'real-world' situation....
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
So, how does that apply to the URC minister I know whose soteriology and baptismal polity differs from yours and who is, and never has been, part of a state-church construct?

Has he nefariously been compromised by 'the world' in a way that Anabaptists haven't?

How is his ability to interpret and apply the scriptures any more compromised than an Anabaptist one?

I'm only raising this issue because you have and you seem to believe that Anabaptists are in a more priviliged position to interpret the scriptures than anyone else - to the extent that you even appear to concoct tainted 'Constantinian' connections where none actually exist.

We get that Anabaptism is the acid test for orthodoxy as far as you are concerned. That's fair enough provided you are aware that you are interpreting the scriptures in line with a particular tradition or set of traditions just like the rest of us.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
by Croesos;
quote:
Plus I'm not really sure what your usual hobby horse about church/state separation is supposed to prove about your claim that naturally the first century church had Bible study just the same way modern anabaptists do. It seems, at best, a tangent.

Neither is a tangent; two separate points.

Somebody queried the possibility of Bible study in a relatively illiterate society and I pointed to the historical record of the ways Anabaptists achieved sufficient biblical awareness for meaningful discussion/interpretation by the church/congregation as a whole rather than totally individualistic. A similar (NOT absolutely identical) kind of situation seems to be implied for the NT church as well, and certainly possible for them.

That was me, commenting on the difficulties involved in your proposed "right" style of hermeneutics in the absence of "the printing press and widespread literacy". I note you completely ignored the former in favor of a lot of hand-waving about the latter.
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
by Gamaliel;
quote:
So, how does that apply to the URC minister I know whose soteriology and baptismal polity differs from yours and who is, and never has been, part of a state-church construct?
Without more detail of said "soteriology and baptismal polity", I can't really comment, can I? Most URC churches tend to practise infant baptism but regard it not as a magical "Makes you a Christian" thing but as an act of faith by parents, fully recognising the need of a grown-up act of faith and being 'born again'. I don't regard that position as ideal - but I don't have a major problem with it either and happily work with quite a number of people of such views. Some URC places these days don't do Paedobaptism anyway so are effectively Baptists/Anabaptists in practice.

Where is his 'soteriology' different and on what authority?
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
by Croesos;
quote:
That was me, commenting on the difficulties involved in your proposed "right" style of hermeneutics in the absence of "the printing press and widespread literacy". I note you completely ignored the former in favor of a lot of hand-waving about the latter.

As I understand it, even without printing presses the early church had fairly good access to the Septuagint version of the OT, and clearly the Gospels and Epistles were copied and spread around from an early and were fairly available when the original apostolic eyewitnesses had died out. Scriptures were adequately available in the earlier context, until the RCC went restrictive and effectively banned vernacular Bibles for the laity. Even with printed Bibles available, early Anabaptists would probably have access roughly equivalent to, say, mid-2C Christians when the arguments over Marcion took place.

This is very much a tangent to my major point that a 'state church' involved redefining the Christian community in a manner which does NOT completely invalidate it as a Church, NOR make it completely incompetent as an interpreter of the Bible, but as I see it must cast doubt on such a Church's 'competency' to make the kind of authoritative interpretation binding on all Christians implied by concepts like 'Papal Infallibility', for example.

The NT position, BTW, is not "Don't be theocratic"; the NT position is to establish in the world a thoroughly theocratic 'holy nation' for God in the form of the church itself. By definition that church is international and it is important not to confuse it with any human geographical nation. And in turn, the church is obviously 'theocratic' but in NT terms does not seek to be coercive in the states where Christians live; and as church membership is voluntary, there are not meant to be bodies like the Inquisition enforcing things.

Not sure when I'll next be online; my dongle is having problems and as of now I'm not sure if the problem is my dongle or the wider network. I'll be online when I can to continue.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
The point I was making wasn't so much about how his soteriology and so on differs from yours - that would be a tangent - but that it differed - and was in fact more 'sacramental' in a Calvinist type of way, than yours. And that despite him being im a non-Constantinian group.

By the same token, I've come across sacramentalists in churches you'd regard as 'Constantinian' and those that aren't who share the same views on sacraments, baptismal regeneration and so on - whether they are Constantinian or not makes no difference whatsoever to their sacramentalism.

Some sacramentalists are Constantinian. Others aren't. The level of Constantinianism or otherwise has no bearing on their baptismal polity nor their belief in its efficacy.

Sure, I've met plenty of sacramentalist paedobaptists who are very squeamish about indiscriminate paedobaptism - but that's a separate issue and has nothing to do with how Constantinian or otherwise they are.

As for the mandate and authority the URC minister had for his beliefs - one might equally ask thee, me or anyone else the same question. His answer would be the same as anyone else's - his understanding of scripture and tradition and the parameters of the particular church or denomination to which he belonged.

FWIW he described himself as a liberal Calvinist with sacramental leanings and a smidgeon of Pentecostalism thrown into the mix.

Whatever he was, he would claim like the rest of us to have developed his understanding according to his interpretation of scripture and in the context of a particular interpretative framework - in his case a Reformed one - in your case an Anabaptist one.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
Have you noticed how we have managed to stray from the OP into yet more discussion of church-state-separation issues? Which so far as I can see have next to naff all say about the substance of the original topic.

The thread has been derailed, Shipmates. Back on topic please.

Barnabas62
Dead Horses Host
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
by Croesos;
quote:
That was me, commenting on the difficulties involved in your proposed "right" style of hermeneutics in the absence of "the printing press and widespread literacy". I note you completely ignored the former in favor of a lot of hand-waving about the latter.

As I understand it, even without printing presses the early church had fairly good access to the Septuagint version of the OT, and clearly the Gospels and Epistles were copied and spread around from an early and were fairly available when the original apostolic eyewitnesses had died out. Scriptures were adequately available in the earlier context, until the RCC went restrictive and effectively banned vernacular Bibles for the laity. Even with printed Bibles available, early Anabaptists would probably have access roughly equivalent to, say, mid-2C Christians when the arguments over Marcion took place.
Just out of curiosity, what exactly is your "understanding" of this bit of history based on? As near as I can tell, it's a whole lot of wishful thinking that seems to go along the lines of "the only valid method of scriptural interpretation is the one that I (and my co-religionists) practice, so therefore anyone doing valid scriptural interpretation (like the earliest Christians) must have also had exactly the same means at their disposal I do".

It's true that the Septuagint existed at the time, predating Christianity as it does. And it's true that "the church" in a generalized sense had access to it, but that's a far cry from every congregation having their own copy on hand to consult. The same is true of later-composed, purely Christian scriptures. Your claim seems to be premised on the idea that the second century church was an enormously wealthy institution able to fund a large network of scriptoria* that could churn out huge quantities of written works "roughly equivalent to" that being produced about a century after the invention of movable type printing. I guess Gutenberg is one of the most over-rated inventors in history! Do you have any evidence for this, other than your desire for it to be so?


--------------------
*Latin for "writing place" (singular "scriptorium"). Posted for compliance.
 
Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
hosting
As Barnabas has pointed out there is a derail problem on this thread. Please take discussion of the availability of scripture in the early church to Kerygmania and start a new thread. Please do not continue it here.

Steve Langton - please don't answer Croesos here on that topic. You can copy his post and start a new thread in Kerygmania, if you want to answer it.

thanks,
Louise

hosting off
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
I thought it was an interesting topic so I started this thread.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:


It's all moot anyway. Steve Chalke has written and done what he did (performed a SSB in a baptist context) and he's received no censure. The precedent has been set and the door is wide open - provided the local church agree that it is ok to do it, then practically and legally it can be done.

So from your point of view would you say that the practical problem lies mostly at the grass roots end rather than in the leadership? Are there too many conservatives among the Baptist laity?

Perhaps the time will come when the British Baptists are widely known to be as broad a church as the CofE - indeed broader, since CofE vicars can't legally conduct these ceremonies. The Baptist 'brand' will be retained for familiarity, but as with the CofE the uninitiated will have to ready themselves for anything upon entering the sanctuary!
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I'd accept that a 'sacramentalist' in a non-state church has, or at least can have, a somewhat different view to one in a state church. But history rather suggests that when you baptise everybody indiscriminately you end up with a lot of nominal Christians who have little reality of personally facing their sins, repenting of them, and understanding they need a changed relationship to God. And they have little motive to go beyond outward and superficial conformity to the state requirement of, well, outward and superficial conformity!

This is true of the second generation in any church. The only way to prevent it would be to forbid the children to go to church or learn about the faith until they're adults.
 
Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I'd accept that a 'sacramentalist' in a non-state church has, or at least can have, a somewhat different view to one in a state church. But history rather suggests that when you baptise everybody indiscriminately you end up with a lot of nominal Christians who have little reality of personally facing their sins, repenting of them, and understanding they need a changed relationship to God. And they have little motive to go beyond outward and superficial conformity to the state requirement of, well, outward and superficial conformity!

This is true of the second generation in any church. The only way to prevent it would be to forbid the children to go to church or learn about the faith until they're adults.
hosting

We're trying to get a thread which has been comprehensively derailed back on track. While we're normally quite tolerant of the odd tangent, we're not taking them at the moment on this particular thread, so I'd like to ask people to only post if they are posting something relevant to the OP or at least directly relevant to the church and LGBT issues.

Issues about nominal Christians/ conformity can be discussed in Purgatory. Issues about state/non state churches are right out on this thread, and must be discussed in Purgatory.
thanks!
Louise
DH Host


hosting off
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Mea culpa.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
I want to think a bit further about the idea of proxy discussions.

It's something I suggested earlier: we may appear to be discussing the interpretation of a biblical passage, but we're really talking about the underlying issue. I may express an opinion that relates to the word used by Paul or his rhetorical style, but I'm just seizing on this because it suits me. What is really happening is that I'm pro-gay (or anti) and I'm trying to argue for this.

I like it when I can do this by means of Bible study because I don't have to declare my hand. I can make my case without my personal opinion appearing, and I have the authority of the Bible on my side as well. I don't have to tell someone 'I don't agree with you, I don't like what you say,' I can say 'I'm sorry, but I don't think that's what the text says.' Much more comfortable. And cowardly.

Eliab says that when we read scripture we really need to begin with what God is like. We inevitably and rightly interpret our texts in the light of what we believe about God. If God is love and the text says something different, then we must spot the hyperbole, or find the reason why, viewed from the other end, this is still loving.

It's difficult to baldly disagree about some issues. How does that go with gay sex? I think it's wrong because .. well, because I just do. I don't like it. Or I think it's OK and I just don't like it when you say the opposite. If we have to drop our discussion of 1st Century rabbinical debating tactics, or sketchy theories about possible epigenetic effects, we just have to stand there and own our own opinions as they hang awkwardly between us.

Eliab's point is that we are really disagreeing about the nature of God. And that is even more scary, because it's about big questions, imperatives and absolutes.

In relation to gay sex it's about sin and holiness, what they are, about whether inclusion matters all that much, about whether what I and lots of other people used to think could possibly be overturned - are there revolutions where God is concerned, or does God change not?
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Eliab's point is that we are really disagreeing about the nature of God. And that is even more scary, because it's about big questions, imperatives and absolutes.

In relation to gay sex it's about sin and holiness, what they are, about whether inclusion matters all that much, about whether what I and lots of other people used to think could possibly be overturned - are there revolutions where God is concerned, or does God change not?

Yes, that's exactly it (and put better than I put it). This is about views of God.

I don't think that God changes. So that means that if the Bible is God's word, it must always have been possible to read Romans 1 (for example) morally. If God is not anti-gay now, He never was, and therefore the anti-gay reading of Romans 1 was never inspired by him.

But that means, of course, that I come to the Bible with a very definite view that some things are simply out of consideration as unworthy of God. My obedience to scripture isn't unconditional.

I think we all do this to some extent. The reading in my church yesterday exhorted slave-owners to treat their slaves "justly and fairly". To me, that makes as much sense as tell rapists to treat their victims "justly and fairly". So I ignore the endorsement of slavery as unworthy, and take as the inspired part the message that we have moral duties to people even when society would condone the very worst exploitation. I imagine that everyone these days reads those passages similarly. No one is particularly troubled about whether the Bible is really OK with slavery, because we're sure that God really isn't.

For quite a long time I read the anti-gay passages as mysterious - not knowing whether God was really against homosexuality or not. I couldn't see what was so bad about being gay, but I was unconvinced by any revisionist interpretation. I was grateful that the activities that appeared to be condemned weren't ones that I was tempted towards, and therefore pleased that I could leave it to gay Christians to work out what they should do.

I'm not as comfortable with that any more. The whole gay marriage debate happened - on the Ship and in wider society, and showed me two things: one, not only could I see no good reason why homosexuality is immoral, neither could anyone else; and two, the anti-gay movement was able to recruit thousands of otherwise kind, sane, reasonable Christians to a campaign of astonishing pettiness and spite. For no other reason than what St Paul once wrote to a church in Rome as a bit of a tangent to his main argument about universal fallenness.

I don't trust the Church to handle this scripture with the caution that is appropriate for a command whose reasons are not fully understood. It isn't safe to give us a scripture that it is even possible to read as anti-gay - because we'll hurt people with it. So I want to be able to say that I trying to be a committed follower of Jesus, trying to learn about God from the Bible, and from that perspective argue that I think the anti-gay side is absolutely and undoubtedly wrong. There are no good reasons to be anti-gay, AND that the Bible doesn't add one. The only way I can do that is to say that an interpretation of the Bible which teaches evil is always out of consideration. Whatever the plain meaning, whatever the (human) author's intention, I simply will not accept that reading, and think that anyone doing so is sinning.

So I clearly don't get my ethics from the Bible, and I'm arguing that it's not merely acceptable but obligatory to ignore what looks like the plain meaning of scripture if that meaning is morally wrong. The difficulty I have is that recognising that I am now saying this, and want to continue to read the Bible in this way it, can I really claim to be a "Bible-believing Christian" any more?
 
Posted by JimT (# 142) on :
 
I'd like to contribute a couple of things to this discussion.

The first is, that my perspective is that of a preacher's kid who never bought the Christianity I was presented. What I eventually bought was the radical reforms of Christian-based Unitarianism of the early 1800's. I tried modern Unitarianism and found it an unsatisfying hodgepodge of belief systems to which I could not relate except for those that were rooted in Christianity.

I think that I approach things much the same way that hatless does, and I know that he knows that. [Smile] Christianity is where I come from, but some kind of "Humanism" is where I've gone, and I like to make connections back and forth with others who do the same.

The recent discussions on The Ship have prompted me to venture into the mind of Paul and his writings on the proper place and role of sexual relations. For the first time, it occurred to me that the Romans 1 and 2 chapters could reflect an assumption that homosexuality always takes place as a form of adultery in an otherwise heterosexual person. Perhaps, in an ancient world that punished homosexuality with death, homosexuals voluntarily lived as heterosexuals and when "outed" would plead for mercy that it was an isolated incident triggered by an excess of natural desire that would never be repeated. They might have even believed it themselves. Perhaps Paul ranted in Romans that in the old days, people became so perverted that they left their natural heterosexual behavior behind and willfully abandoned themselves to unbridled, unchecked lust that went so far as to have sex with their own sex, a disgusting and obvious perversity to any chaste heterosexual.

Part of my considering this possibility comes from reading Corinthians 7 again, and seeing Paul portray natural sex not as a means to procreation, but a "burning" that tempts one away from pleasing God. Interestingly, he describes it not as a "burning" to satisfy oneself, but to satisfy someone else, thus laying the foundation for it not being a sin, despite the fact that he said it is better to be avoided altogether. Having defended it's having a permissible side, he circumscribes its permissible boundaries as satisfying one and only one other person, bound in marriage, with vows made before God that they will not stray into pleasing more people, lest they both stray from God.

I wonder if Paul would have seen things differently if he had the perspective many of us have, that homosexuality is not a craven form of adultery, but an alternate form of chastity.

As a postscript, I would add that I found it surprising that these "anti-gay" passages I mentioned said nothing about sexual desire having a primary purpose of procreation. He says it is a dangerous temptation that must be tightly controlled and limited; avoided if possible. That means Paul said it is better not to have children, unless you just can't stand the burning to please someone else sexually. No doubt he didn't worry about the human race dying out because he thought the world would end soon. And there he was just plain wrong.
 
Posted by Golden Key (# 1468) on :
 
...which may raise questions of what Paul's own experiences were. Did he have a family that fell apart? Did he have trouble with his own desires, whatever they were? Did someone hurt him? Did he just swear off the whole thing, and drag that baggage into his writing?
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by JimT:
For the first time, it occurred to me that the Romans 1 and 2 chapters could reflect an assumption that homosexuality always takes place as a form of adultery in an otherwise heterosexual person.

I've heard it said on several occasions that the few occasions when early Fathers condemned homosexuality it was almost always on the basis of it being a form of adultery. But, my knowledge of the early Fathers is woefully inadequate to judge the veracity of that statement.

However, if it was normal, indeed expected, for men to marry (women) and have children to continue the family line then if they were having homosexual relationships that would, by definition, be adultery. Though, whether the sin is the adultery or the social structures that forced men to marry women even though they weren't interested in women is another question.
 
Posted by hatless (# 3365) on :
 
As I understand it, in ancient Middle Eastern society (and this may be typical of other times and places) marriage was a key part of social order, embedded in the way property was owned, social status, employment, power relations, and of course, gender roles and sexual relations. This is patriarchy.

In which case this point about adultery is interesting. Adultery is not cheating, or wasn't back then. We see adultery as the betrayal of trust, and wrong because of the emotional pain inflicted on partner and children by the cheating person who couldn't exercise self-control, or fell out and into love.

Adultery, though, means mixing or diluting. It's about polluting the blood line, and the multiplying of claims on property. The crime is not upsetting the feelings of your partner, it is undermining the inheritance of your sons and the genetic legacy of your (husband's) father and his father.

Same sex actions or relationships wouldn't count. They couldn't affect offspring or property so they would be an irrelevance, just a diversion indulged by a few people with minority tastes, or as part of the activities of some of the wackier religions. A wife or son should continue to feel perfectly secure if the old man acts like this.

But Paul, as JimT notes, has a very different view of marriage. It's not quite romantic, but it's full of a sense of the importance of intimacy and if not equality in a contemporary sense, then a deep commitment to a balanced inter-relatedness. Wife and husband are expected to be bound up in each other in trust and sensitivity. God in Christ is the primary relationship for us all, so if marriage could get out of the picture that would be helpful, but if it can't, then it needs to be a marriage transfigured, like all power and property relationships, by the new way of being human in Christ. It's part of the new identity we get in Christ. Identity is such a big deal for Paul.

For a man in a patriarchal society to engage in anal intercourse with a male or female slave at a temple or brothel is an irrelevance in terms of his marriage or dynasty. For the restructured relationships of those who are in Christ it would be a disaster, but for reasons that Paul, writing to a church that has never head him speak before, is unable to explain. It's interesting, though, that in the verses following and summing up the implications of the lurid Romans 1&2 passage on depravity, Paul talks about conscience, hard hearts and softened hearts, the self seeking and those who patiently do good. It's about our openness to God's kindness and forbearance.

Paul has a revolutionary gospel that remains challenging for us. I don't follow all his thought processes, and there's always the possibility that the text is corrupted in some way (does Romans 1:18 follow naturally from 1:17?). I am sure that, as always, he will care most about the breaking down of barriers, our unity and our building up, and those quiet virtues like gentleness, patience and self control. The lurid passage is in some way about how we respond, Jew and Gentile, to the God who meets us in a new way in Jesus Christ. It is about a new creation and is not, is explicitly not, an argument for holding some people as 'other', as sinners in ways that we are not.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
[We] may raise questions of what Paul's own experiences were. Did he have a family that fell apart? Did he have trouble with his own desires, whatever they were? Did someone hurt him? Did he just swear off the whole thing, and drag that baggage into his writing?

I think I read somewhere that the 'thorn in his side' might have been his own homosexuality. Who knows? In any case, he was presumably a celibate man at the point of writing. In our culture I suppose that makes him a somewhat unnatural, unfortunate character.

I don't know how his celibacy would have been viewed in his own time, but he does acknowledge that not everyone would be able to live as he did, which is fair enough. But I do think it's sad that many Christians of all types seem to view celibacy as more or less impossible and/or undesirable.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Well, celibacy is still valued in some traditions - most notably in those with a tradition of monasticism or celibate clergy.

It may be questioned nut it's still practised.y
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
Practised, yes, by a declining number. But the RCs don't seem to value it all that much. I don't know about the other churches you have in mind.

If heterosexual Christians place a low value on celibacy then it's hardly surprising if homosexual ones feel the same way.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:

But Paul, as JimT notes, has a very different view of marriage. It's not quite romantic, but it's full of a sense of the importance of intimacy

Keep your genitals to yourself, unless you cannot control the urge is intimate?

quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Well, celibacy is still valued in some traditions - most notably in those with a tradition of monasticism or celibate clergy.

The only traditions which truly valued celibacy are no longer extant. This is one reason that celibacy, in those traditions that contain it, is reserved for a few rather than the main body.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by JimT:
For the first time, it occurred to me that the Romans 1 and 2 chapters could reflect an assumption that homosexuality always takes place as a form of adultery in an otherwise heterosexual person. Perhaps, in an ancient world that punished homosexuality with death, homosexuals voluntarily lived as heterosexuals and when "outed" would plead for mercy that it was an isolated incident triggered by an excess of natural desire that would never be repeated. They might have even believed it themselves.

Gay sex would indeed be adulterous, but not for the reason you say. Graeco-Roman literature has plenty of celebrations of homosexual sex. Punishable by death was true at the time of Leviticus, but not at the time of St Paul. However I understand it was something you were supposed to give up when you got married. (There is a bit in Catullus' wedding-hymn where the groom's male concubine is mocked because he will now have to give way to the bride.)
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Yes, Ricardus, and with the Greeks unmarried men were almost 'expected' to have sex with teenage boys but to desist from the practice when they got married - usually around the age of 30.

Apparently - too much information alert - penetrative sex appears to have been rare and the older men seem to have generally rubbed themselves between the boys' thighs ...

There was a stigma in Ancient Greek society about being on the receiving end of homosexual sexual activity - but no stigma attached to actually doing it as it were to someone else ...

Whatever was going on it doesn't necessarily equate to how same-sex sexual practices are understood or practiced today.

I'm not sure what all that tells us, though ...

Meanwhile, @SvitlanaV2 and lilBuddha - I can see what you're both getting at but one could argue that the comparative rarity of celibacy within the Roman Catholic community and other faith communities which incorporate forms of monasticism is an indication of how much it is valued ...

After all, the rarer something is, the more it tends to attract value.

The whole point of valuing celibacy, I'd have thought, includes a consideration of its comparative rarity.
 
Posted by JimT (# 142) on :
 
The last several posts are interesting, informative, and intriguing. The discussion started by hatless about "adulterating" bloodlines, and homosexuality not capable of doing so brought me interesting information, including the "normalcy" in at least some Greco-Roman settings, of premarital homosexuality only, and the permissibility of postmarital homosexuality and apparently heterosexuality so long as it was confined to temple prostitutes.

But this last point brings up the question of "adulterated" bloodlines in the offspring of female temple prostitutes. There must have been children; what was their fate? Perhaps they were forced to be prostitutes themselves, and that's how it kept going?

Relative to hatless remarking that Paul seemed to view a need for intimacy in marriage, I assumbed that hatless was referring to the passage that says husbands and wives want to please each other, and that is part of why it is a good thing and not a sin. At the same time, his overall message that it should be avoided if at all possible does sound like a rejection of the idea that everyone ought to have intimacy with another as part of a full life.
 
Posted by Brenda Clough (# 18061) on :
 
If there was a need for them, and if resources allowed, the offspring of temple prostitution were kept and reared. Boys can become priests or eunuchs, and girls priestesses/prostitutes. They could also be sold off as slaves, if the temple needed cash.
If there was no need or resources at the moment of birth? Well, witnesses complained of how many bodies of newborns cluttered the streets. "Exposed" was the term, but essentially it meant dumping the baby out on the trash heap.
 
Posted by Penny S (# 14768) on :
 
There are two Roman sites with associations with Venus which have been excavated in what is now England where numbers of newborns have been found buried. Vagniaceae near Gravesend (13, in a bank by the bread ovens) and a villa in Hambleden, Buckinghamshire, near a military camp (97). I find the Venus association is not given for that one.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
One could argue that the comparative rarity of celibacy within the Roman Catholic community and other faith communities which incorporate forms of monasticism is an indication of how much it is valued ...

After all, the rarer something is, the more it tends to attract value.

The whole point of valuing celibacy, I'd have thought, includes a consideration of its comparative rarity.

This argument might convince the RCC leadership that the huge decline in priests and religious is a good thing. But then again, it might not. Your contacts in the RCC would have more to say about that than I can.

As for the laity, I once read somewhere that although churches rely heavily on the work of single female members, single women are in fact the least valued demographic in the church (i.e. not specially valued because of their presumed celibacy). This is probably because there is a surplus of single women in the church. And perhaps because there's a surplus of women in general.

John Wesley wondered where a chaste male could be found, so I suppose he valued them when he occasionally came across them. But he implies that the culture as a whole didn't (since even 'the reputation of it' was undesirable. Maybe even among Christians?).

Religious communities pay a lot of lip service to behaviours or values that many of their adherents believe to be undesirable or unworkable. It's a strange thing.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
If there was a need for them, and if resources allowed, the offspring of temple prostitution were kept and reared. Boys can become priests or eunuchs, and girls priestesses/prostitutes. They could also be sold off as slaves, if the temple needed cash.

Although I understand there is a certain amount of academic disagreement as to whether temple prostitution was widespread, or indeed whether it existed at all.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Well, religion is a strange thing in general, SvitlanaV2 ...

I don't have any more access to RCC commentators than you do or anyone else here on these Boards. I have friends at the local RCC parish and hob-nob/run into RC priests perhaps once or twice a year.

From what I can gather, some of the laity believe that clerical celibacy is indeed something that needs to be revised and which is partly to blame for the decline in vocations to the priesthood.

The religious orders are regarded somewhat differently, from what I can gather, and yes, there are seen as issues around declining vocations there too - but unlike the priesthood, which hasn't always been a celibate vocation within the Western Catholic tradition, the monastic vocation can't be anything but a call to celibacy ...

The clue is in the title - Mon (mono) - astic.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Rome does a U-turn on clerical celibacy at some point. After all, it makes special provision for married Anglican priests to join ... under particular conditions.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Unlike the priesthood, which hasn't always been a celibate vocation within the Western Catholic tradition, the monastic vocation can't be anything but a call to celibacy ...

The clue is in the title - Mon (mono) - astic.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Rome does a U-turn on clerical celibacy at some point. After all, it makes special provision for married Anglican priests to join ... under particular conditions.

One wonders why they've stuck with a celibate priesthood for so long if it's not terribly important to them. Strange indeed!

I suppose if they allow priests to marry then they'll eventually have to allow them to divorce, and then to remarry, as is customary for the clergy of many other denominations. Otherwise, the inconvenience of celibacy would still await a considerable percentage of them at some point in their adult lives. That would defeat the whole object, really.

The sexual and marital standards of the RC laity and clergy might merge over time, and the fate of the RCC might be to grow more like most of the other churches.
 
Posted by Garasu (# 17152) on :
 
On the other hand: given that monastic refers to living alone, why does it in practice involve living in community?
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Garasu:
On the other hand: given that monastic refers to living alone, why does it in practice involve living in community?

Are you confusing etymology with meaning?
 
Posted by Garasu (# 17152) on :
 
I don't think I am...
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Definition of monastic:

• of or relating to monks, nuns, or others living under religious vows, or the buildings in which they live.
"a monastic order"
synonyms: cloistered, cloistral, claustral
"a monastic community"
• resembling or suggestive of monks or their way of life, especially in being austere, solitary, or celibate.
"a monastic student bedroom"
synonyms: austere, ascetic, simple, solitary, monkish, celibate, quiet, cloistered, sequestered, secluded, reclusive, hermitlike, hermitic, incommunicado
"a monastic existence"

noun
noun: monastic; plural noun: monastics

1.
a monk or other follower of a monastic rule.

Origin
late Middle English (in the sense ‘anchoritic’): from late Latin monasticus, from Greek monastikos, from monazein ‘live alone.’
Translate monastic to
Use over time for: monastic

==============================================
Nothing about living alone in the definition; only in the etymology.
 
Posted by Garasu (# 17152) on :
 
Are you saying that to me or to Gamaliel?

It being Gamaliel who said that monks had to be celibate because of the etymology.
 
Posted by balaam (# 4543) on :
 
Then he was forgetting the Celtic monasteries where some were mixed in gender and had married monks and nuns, such as Whitby.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Garasu:
Are you saying that to me or to Gamaliel?

It being Gamaliel who said that monks had to be celibate because of the etymology.

Well, he said the name was a "clue." But I take your point.
 
Posted by TomM (# 4618) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by balaam:
Then he was forgetting the Celtic monasteries where some were mixed in gender and had married monks and nuns, such as Whitby.

Do you have a source on that? I mean, I know Whitby was a joint house, under the rule of a single abbot/abbess (most famously Hilda). But being married (and I mean other than exceptional cases were it served as an equivalent of divorce)?
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
/Tangent/
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Some URC places these days don't do Paedobaptism anyway so are effectively Baptists/Anabaptists in practice.

The URC is made up of three former denominations: Congregational, Presbyterian and Churches of Christ. The latter have always been Believer's Baptism churches. But I think a URC minister in a church with a Cong. or Pres. background who refused to baptise children might get into trouble.

I am a Baptist in a joint Baptist/URC church so it's not a problem for me. In fact we did a child baptised recently, I took part in the service but didn't perform the baptism itself. One or two Baptist ministers in a similar situation would have.
/Tangent ends/
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
As far as I understand it, there were mixed monasteries in 'Dark Age' Britain, but I'm not sure the monks and nuns cohabited. The Orthodox monastery at Tolleshunt Knights is a mixed community but the monks and nuns live separately.

I also understand that there is a tradirion within Orthodoxy where married couples choose to forgo sex in order to pursue a deeper spiritual life. I'm not sure how common it was but it was known in 19th century Russia.

As for celibate clergy in the RCC. I didn't say it wasn't important to RCs, simply that married clergy were common in the Western Church until the 12th century - so there'd be a precedent for Rome to reverse its current policy should it so wish. I certainly know RCs who see no theological objection.
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

As for celibate clergy in the RCC. I didn't say it wasn't important to RCs, simply that married clergy were common in the Western Church until the 12th century - so there'd be a precedent for Rome to reverse its current policy should it so wish. I certainly know RCs who see no theological objection.

There are RCs who see no objection to all sorts of things! Well, they may get their way.

I can't help thinking, though, that changing the rules on these issues might unleash a new set of problems for the RCC rather than just clearing up a few old ones.

[ 17. October 2015, 00:12: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]
 
Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
hosting
Does anyone want to discuss the OP or shall I just close this thread?

thanks,
L
DH Host
hosting off
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
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.

Resurrecting this thread in the wake of this and also this which I came across earlier today, having got to Zelophehad's daughters in my current preaching series.

Croesos cites this incident as
quote:
a "meta" example of scriptural interpretation [...] contained in Numbers, one of the five books of Moses which are traditionally considered to be the oldest parts of the Bible. So what's being portrayed is a debate over scriptural interpretation that took place before there's even 'scripture'.
What I like about this is that it offers scriptural legitimacy (nay, OT - nay, Pentateuch legitimacy) for reinterpretation - here, in the face of a blatant injustice for which no provision was originally made.

I haven't read anything by him, but it would seem this is somewhat similar to the thinking of French protestant philosopher Paul Ricoeur and his 'Interpretation Theory'.

All of which is to say that my current way out of Eliab's dilemma is along the lines of C). Interpretation is just as important a medium of divine inspiration as the Scriptures themselves, and always has been.

[ 20. February 2016, 12:33: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Well, yes ...
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
This thread was too far gone to re-open. Not interested. Sorry....
 
Posted by luvanddaisies (# 5761) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
This thread was too far gone to re-open. Not interested. Sorry....

How about this one then. It's long, but you'll find a lot of good content, and it pretty much stays on topic.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
This thread was too far gone to re-open. Not interested. Sorry....

For the avoidance of doubt, I returned to this thread because I was reminded of its existence by the host ruling on the 'LGBT' thread and it picked up a train of thought I have become interested in right now for reasons explained above.

That is the entire extent to which me resurrecting this thread was to do with you.

However, if you're "not interested" now that it has been reawakened, it rather begs the question of why you were "interested" - wholly out of context - elsewhere.

If you want to defend yourself, in case you hadn't noticed there is a shiny new Hell thread devoted to you.

If you want to attempt to defend your ideas as set forth on the LGBT thread, this thread here in DH has been unequivocally indicated to you as the place to do it. If you don't, the natural conclusion readers will draw is that they are indefensible.

[ 20. February 2016, 14:40: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus on the other thread:
But I can't get away - so far - from heterosexual monogamy as an archetype in the Bible, although not a few people here have almost persuaded me otherwise.

It follows that I see the Church as having some responsibility to uphold that archetype.

My view is that the Bible does present that archetype. The Old Testament presents racial purity as an archetype which the New Testament seems to do away with. Or reinterpret.

Both Testaments present slavery and male superiority - which Christian analysis has also reinterpreted with more complete and earlier progress on slavery than male superiority.

Personally I think that heterosexual superiority is the same sort of thing.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Another great point. Since I posted that I've been challenged, off the boards, as to whether it's right to say that the church has a responsibility to uphold the (hetero) archetype.

The thing I still can't get away from, though, is that it takes a man and a woman to produce a baby.

In and of itself, that obervation is not a comment on the validity or otherwise of same-sex relationships, nor do many people today understand it to be the prime or only purpose of hetero relationships.

But it is a natural fact, and one that would be pretty important to the survival of the species if we imagine some population-diminished dystopia in which we don't have modern technology.

That, it seems to me, sets Adam and Eve apart from any archetypes on race or slavery, for instance.

Once again a quick proviso to say that my thinking on all this is still very much a work in progress.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

The thing I still can't get away from, though, is that it takes a man and a woman to produce a baby.

But this is a misrepresentation of how species survival works. It isn't about individuals, but the group. And homosexuality in the animal kingdom is replete with examples of how homosexuality is a survival trait. Including research suggesting this is true in humans. To clarify, homosexuality is a naturally occurring trait. The research is into the benefits of having a percentage of the population being homosexual.

[ 23. February 2016, 06:10: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
The research is into the benefits of having a percentage of the population being homosexual.

If, as per this hypothesis, homosexuals play an active role in sustaining the overall population, they do so because they fulfil a different role to the heterosexuals.

This sounds suspiciously like "separate but equal", doesn't it?

(And I still contend that while the jury might still be out on this hypothesis, it seems proven beyond all doubt that some different-sex unions will be required in order to produce some offspring if a next generation is going to appear, because biology. I don't think there's any getting around that).
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The thing I still can't get away from, though, is that it takes a man and a woman to produce a baby.

We would be in deep trouble if we didn't have farmers on the earth as well. It isn't necessary for everyone to farm in order to sustain society. I don't see a separate but equal argument here - I think that emerges if one accepts that while farmers/gay people are valuable human beings with a role to play it isn't desirable for us city/heterosexual folk to mix with them.

Separate but equal also contains some element of enforcing a role on a particular group. Say if black people are all expected to farm, or gay people are all expected to be clergy because of some "separate but equal" view of their specific roles.

Recognizing diversity and celebrating or even just discussing it isn't separate but equal.
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
By the way Eutychus I very much identify with your soul-searching on this. Here are some of my much older postings on this topic as evidence.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
Separate but equal also contains some element of enforcing a role on a particular group.

I think not a few SSM opponents take that line because they feel SSM robs heterosexual marriage of its original raison d'être and as such is, if not an enforcement of a role, at the very least an assault on an important part of their heterosexual identity.

I'm not saying they're right to feel that, but I can understand why they do.

Separately from the issue of equal rights (eg survivor benefits in SSM, one of the clinchers for me), I also find there to be a dissonance between the idea of celebrating diversity and a perceived desire to conform in as many respects as possible to a uniform norm. My perception is that different people sit at very different points between those two extremes.

In France we have "mariage pour tous", "marriage for all", which I think is a terrible misnomer as a) SSM != "for all" and b) the term tends to erase, rather than celebrate difference. I think this is disingenuous.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Another great point. Since I posted that I've been challenged, off the boards, as to whether it's right to say that the church has a responsibility to uphold the (hetero) archetype.

Traditionally, Christianity has celebrated heterosexual marriage for several reasons, one of which is "the procreation of children". It has also traditionally celebrated the single or monastic life.

Obviously it's possible to celebrate one to the detriment of the other - say, by treating marriage as a more or less acceptable second best for people who don't have the self control or discipline to be celibate - but I don't think that's a necessary result of honouring more than one inconsistent mode of life. I'm happy to say that the church can and should uphold traditional heterosexual marriage, because I don't believe that this precludes it from saying that this is a calling from God, and it isn't for everyone, and those people not called to heterosexual marriage have different callings, also Godly, and also to be celebrated.

Does that help, or have I misunderstood the issue you're raising?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
It might help, except that my perception is that many SSM proponents seem to want to expand the calling to heterosexual marriage to encompass SSM as though it were exactly the same thing, rather than celebrate a different calling; they see anything else as being sold short; "separate but equal" will not do for them. I cannot make up my mind on this.

(I have not been helped by at least some people decrying an attempt at a similar procedure in reverse (a hetero couple's attempt to conclude a UK civil partnership). As I recall, they were dismissed by some as entitled attention-seekers trying to crash a provision made exclusively for same-sex couples. This seems a bit like having your cake and eating it to me).

Matters aren't helped by the overlap between civil and religious marriage and what they mean/symbolise, and by the evolution in what marriage is actually for in social terms.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
Eutychus, a basic concept in anti-discrimination law is that there are times when differences between people are relevant and need to be taken into account, and times when the same differences are not relevant and ought not to be taken into account.

To pick an easy example, there's a decent justification for separate male and female sport when size and strength are an advantage, because statistically men tend to be bigger and physically stronger than women. Whereas this difference has no relevance to most fields of employment, if you are not employing people for their size and strength.

So the basic question is: is the gender of the people in a marriage relevant? Why or why not?

I would be quite happy in accepting that the purpose of marriage has changed, in that once upon a time a key component of it was seen as a man securing paternity of his children.

It's not same-sex marriage that's disrupted that. It's feminism. It's the assertion that a woman has an independent existence and will, separate from her function of providing children to a man.

As soon as you shift to viewing marriage as a partnership between two equal people who have mutually decided to commit to each other, it becomes difficult to explain why the gender of those two people is a relevant consideration.

Separate but equal implies that biological ability to procreate is important to marriage. A very large number of people no longer agree that that is what marriage is about.

[ 23. February 2016, 09:04: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
I think it's worth also pointing out that men haven't tended to have been reduced to their capacity to father children in quite the same way that women have tended to have been reduced to their capacity to bear children.

There's a highly memorable quote from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I admit only knowing about because the speech is excerpted in a Beyonce song. It's worth setting out part of it.

quote:
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don't teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men

This is what feminism is disrupting. This is, in turn, what same sex marriage is disrupting. We're converting marriage from an institution that is the way women are supposed to derive meaning into an institution where two people decide to support each other.

EDIT: And to the extent that some relationships are still ones where person A is 'in charge' and person B is submitting to them, we're now basing that on personality, not gender.

[ 23. February 2016, 09:19: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
Eutychus, a basic concept in anti-discrimination law is that there are times when differences between people are relevant and need to be taken into account, and times when the same differences are not relevant and ought not to be taken into account.

Yes, I already noted this clarification from you in another thread, very useful, thank you.

quote:
To pick an easy example, there's a decent justification for separate male and female sport when size and strength are an advantage, because statistically men tend to be bigger and physically stronger than women.
I must admit to wondering whether this example really holds up for you.

"Statistically"? "Tend to be"? Transposed to marriage, those sound like great arguments for keeping hetero marriage to me.

I also wonder, on the basis of your clarification above, what's stopping discrimination suits by (non-"statistical", non "tending-to-be") women seeking to enter an all-male sport, especially as the financial rewards are I think usually bigger. It gets even more complicated when you come to team sports.

All that might be a huge tangent. Or it might be good illustration of the fact that there's a lot more than rationality going into this debate on all sides, and that needs to be taken into account adequately. If the All-Blacks suddenly became mixed, would we have lost something as well as gained something?

quote:
So the basic question is: is the gender of the people in a marriage relevant? Why or why not?
Frank answer? I feel it is, but no longer know why! (But you knew that already. I also know my feelings may be mistaken).

quote:
It's not same-sex marriage that's disrupted that. It's feminism. It's the assertion that a woman has an independent existence and will, separate from her function of providing children to a man.
Agreed.

quote:
Separate but equal implies that biological ability to procreate is important to marriage. A very large number of people no longer agree that that is what marriage is about.
Agreed, but many still think, or at least feel, that it is. I really don't think they're all homophobes, any more than the stereotypes of gays are accurate.

If they are mistaken, what's the best way to change that? I think it is changing, but it will take time. And as far as the Church goes, as I said before, I think the struggle is at the level of vested interests, not the person in the pew, and I'm beginning to suspect it has to do with the misuse of power, nothing more and nothing less (ie homosexuality is not the central issue. Maintaining the status quo and its ensuing power balance is).
 
Posted by L'organist (# 17338) on :
 
I think what both of you (Eliab and Eutychus) are doing is thinking/proposing that there is only ONE purpose or reason for marriage, and that alone puts you at odds with thinking about marriage from earliest times.

If you doubt that, read the introduction to the Form for the Solemnisation of Matrimony from the Book of Common Prayer. where it lists 3 reasons why marriage was instituted of God in the time of man's innocency:

1. For the nurturing of children.
2. To avoid sexual licence.
3. Mutual society, help, and comfort.

To now state that marriage is primarily between men and women only because that is what is implied is a myth, and you'll find broadly the same principles in the Roman rite.

Sure, a same-sex couple can't have children which are 100% their own biologically, but SSM easily fufils point 2 and 3 and, if couples either choose to adopt or have a child by AID, 1 is perfectly possible.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
"Statistically"? "Tend to be"? Transposed to marriage, those sound like great arguments for keeping hetero marriage to me.

Why? You're going to have to expand on this one for me. There's no "statistically" or "tend to be" when it comes to the capacity of certain combinations of people to procreate. I'm quite comfortable with the proposition that a homosexual couple can't procreate. You won't find any of us on the pill.

The theory behind separate sporting contests is they're supposed to be separate but equal. That they're not equal financially is a whole other issue. But if you're going to suggest that SSM ought to be separate but equal, pointing out the massive inequality in prestige between male and female sport in practice doesn't really help.

And just as importantly, the intention behind separate sporting competitions is supposed to be to enable women to have a fairer chance of winning in a competition. It's a little difficult to understand how marriage is a competition such that keeping homosexual couples out of will benefit them, on the grounds they don't have to 'compete' with heterosexual couples. What exactly would the competition be for?

[ 23. February 2016, 09:34: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
L'organist:

That's not quite where I'm at.

Where I'm at is that it takes a man and a woman to make a baby and that (to put to use the phrasing I picked up from orfeo just now) "statistically" babies will "tend to be" produced by heterosexual couples for any future I can foresee.

One could imagine dystopian and/or sordid scenarios in which babies are either produced entirely through technological means or by forced copulation between homosexuals of the opposite sex. In one conversation on here a while back somebody seemed to be actually welcoming the first of these scenarios as a further step on the road to liberation, but that just doesn't strike me as being the ideal scenario.

(I know, I know, I am, in Joan the Dwarf's immortal list, a "natural law nut". Well sort of).
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Where I'm at is that it takes a man and a woman to make a baby and that (to put to use the phrasing I picked up from orfeo just now) "statistically" babies will "tend to be" produced by heterosexual couples for any future I can foresee.

Not an appropriate use of the phrasing.

More to the point, what does that have to do with marriage? Where are your fertility tests, your questionnaires for prospective couples about their intention for children? Where are the rules preventing post-menopausal women from marriage?

This is where I'M at, that procreation only ever becomes a topic for the purpose of excluding homosexuals from marriage. No-one ever seems that interested in excluding non-procreative heterosexuals from marriage.

There's a basic category error in treating "procreative" as a synonym for "heterosexual". In the ordinary course of things, "heterosexual" may be necessary, but it is not sufficient. People seem terribly keen to discuss the fact that I have no prospect of fathering children, but as far as I'm aware no-one ever suggested that my uncle was somehow ineligible for marriage after he had his cancerous testicles removed. The fact that he enjoyed sex with women was deemed sufficient.

[ 23. February 2016, 09:39: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Orfeo, to your earlier question:

If a given woman has equal strength and size to at least one of the men in a sport, as far as I can see if I apply your useful clarification of discrimination she is being discriminated against if she cannot compete.

The fact that what is true of her is "statistically" not true of what most women "tend to be" doesn't invalidate that at all.

Does that make any sense?

[ 23. February 2016, 09:40: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Orfeo, to your earlier question:

If a given woman has equal strength and size to at least one of the men in a sport, as far as I can see if I apply your useful clarification of discrimination she is being discriminated against if she cannot compete.

The fact that what is true of her is "statistically" not true of what most women "tend to be" doesn't invalidate that at all.

Does that make any sense?

Yes. In recent years a number of women have successfully applied to compete in male sporting competitions.

I don't think you're quite making the point you think you're making. You're taking a situation which is designed to assist a disadvantaged group, and attempting to turn it on its head as if it's a justification for forcing apartheid.

You can't just lift examples of a general principle about what discrimination means and turn them around as if the situation were reversed. It makes about as much sense as white men complaining about reverse racism and reverse sexism.

[ 23. February 2016, 09:44: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
ADDENDUM: If a particular man is relatively weak and small, do you think he ought to be given permission to participate in women's sport?

If your response is "he wouldn't want to because there's no money in it", you might understand what the real problem is. Most women don't actually fight for the opportunity to compete in male sport. They fight for the right to be compensated to a decent level that is at least somewhat comparable to their male counterparts.

[ 23. February 2016, 09:48: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
Not an appropriate use of the phrasing.

Why is it not appropriate? It's true, isn't it?

quote:
More to the point, what does that have to do with marriage?
Oh, I agree, less and less on the face of it (although in France pre-nup blood tests to check for consanguinuity were a requirement until very recently).
quote:
No-one ever seems that interested in excluding non-procreative heterosexuals from marriage.
No, you are absolutely right, and I'm indebted to you for pointing out the obvious in this respect to me.

I'm not invoking procreation as grounds to rule out SSM. I am identifying it as something significant that does require two people of different sexes and that kind of leaps out of the first pages of Genesis.

That is all. I honestly don't know how that relates to contemporary marriage; I honestly don't think procreative ability confers any kind of superiority; but I do perceive that every time this significant something comes up it gets jumped all over.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
Not an appropriate use of the phrasing.

Why is it not appropriate? It's true, isn't it?

No. It's not true that children "tend" to "statistically" have a biological father and a biological mother. They do have a biological father and mother. No equivocation necessary.

As much as it's bad to use a generalisation without recognising that it's a generalisation that doesn't apply to everyone, it's no better to water down definitive statements for no reason. The square root of 4 doesn't tend to be 2. The sun isn't statistically more likely to rise in the east than the west.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
You can't just lift examples of a general principle about what discrimination means and turn them around as if the situation were reversed. It makes about as much sense as white men complaining about reverse racism and reverse sexism.

But I don't think it's always that clear-cut.

On the UK civil partnerships thread, the hetero couple were indeed derided along those sorts of liens. I don't know what their motives were, but I think it's entirely possible they had a perfectly valid and honest case. From where I'm sitting, there are objective differences between the CP and marriage which would make one a more desirable option than the other for some people. This prospect was never adequately challenged, it was just shouted down.

It seems to me that reverse "isms" can be in the eye of the beholder. If the removal of one abusive status quo results only in the setting up of another ("you've had your turn oppressing, now it's ours"), we're not much forrarder overall, are we?
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
I think what both of you (Eliab and Eutychus) are doing is thinking/proposing that there is only ONE purpose or reason for marriage, and that alone puts you at odds with thinking about marriage from earliest times.

I have no idea why you attribute that view to me, because I just said the exact opposite. What I wrote was:

"Traditionally, Christianity has celebrated heterosexual marriage for several reasons, one of which is "the procreation of children"." - emphasis added.

(and I was consciously quoting the BCP there - which as you say specifies two further reasons).
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
From where I'm sitting, there are objective differences between the CP and marriage which would make one a more desirable option than the other for some people.

Namely?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
It's not true that children "tend" to "statistically" have a biological father and a biological mother. They do have a biological father and mother. No equivocation necessary.

Okay. The (vexed) question then becomes: how important is it for those biological parents to be those by whom they are brought up? While the evidence may suggest the answer is "not very", I'm not sure that applies to the (to me) nightmare scenarious I outlined a few posts up. There's something significant (not superior) in there, isn't there?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
From where I'm sitting, there are objective differences between the CP and marriage which would make one a more desirable option than the other for some people.

Namely?
As I recall, the couple invoked the patriarchal overtones of marriage as opposed to the CP. Which, if you compare the certificates, is a case that can be made.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
It's not true that children "tend" to "statistically" have a biological father and a biological mother. They do have a biological father and mother. No equivocation necessary.

Okay. The (vexed) question then becomes: how important is it for those biological parents to be those by whom they are brought up? While the evidence may suggest the answer is "not very", I'm not sure that applies to the (to me) nightmare scenarious I outlined a few posts up. There's something significant (not superior) in there, isn't there?
I don't see that it's necessary to answer that question when talking about marriage, because neither situation contemplated has any direct connection to marriage. Unmarried people often raise children, and married people often don't raise children.

Same sex couples are not seeking marriage so that they have a licence to have children. A great many same sex couples are going ahead and raising children anyway.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
Unmarried people often raise children, and married people often don't raise children. (...) A great many same sex couples are going ahead and raising children anyway.

This is all true, but I'm not sure that this
quote:
I don't see that it's necessary to answer that question when talking about marriage
necessarily follows. If you accept that there is indeed something significant there, and (draggging this back on topic) perhaps that it might possibly be portrayed in the early pages of Genesis, it might bring further clarity on other issues to hammer out just what that something is.

(I certainly can't manage to do it on my own, and I'm not getting much work done here today).

[ 23. February 2016, 10:06: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
From where I'm sitting, there are objective differences between the CP and marriage which would make one a more desirable option than the other for some people.

Namely?
As I recall, the couple invoked the patriarchal overtones of marriage as opposed to the CP. Which, if you compare the certificates, is a case that can be made.
Hmm. Assuming for the sake of argument that marriage continues to have patriarchal overtones (not having studied any UK marriage certificates lately), my drafter's brain is telling me that they have identified the wrong solution to the problem. Or at least, a highly problematical solution.

Surely, if patriarchal overtones are a bad thing, the solution is to get rid of the patriarchal overtones? Creating a separate non-patriarchal institution is actually saying that a patriarchal institution is fine and dandy and desirable... just not for everyone.

I suppose it's possible to mount an argument for a solution where non-patriarchal types can enter one institution and patriarchal types can enter a different institution. The societal implications of that approach, though, are fairly staggering, particularly for heterosexual women as everyone will then know whether they're the kind of woman who's submitted to their husband or not, and will make value judgments accordingly.

It's actually that kind of value judgment that marriage equality seeks to avoid. Who knows, maybe the French are sufficiently enlightened that no-one thinks more/less of someone for having married rather than entered a PACS, or for having entered a PACS rather than marrying.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
If you accept that there is indeed something significant there, and (draggging this back on topic) perhaps that it might possibly be portrayed in the early pages of Genesis, it might bring further clarity on other issues to hammer out just what that something is.

Well, I don't necessarily accept it. I've hammered out with people before the fact that the passage in Genesis that talks about marriage is quite distinct from the passage that talks about going forth and multiplying.

Children need adults that love and care for them.

There's a general tendency to confuse correlation and causation when it comes to marriage, procreation and child-raising.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
maybe the French are sufficiently enlightened that no-one thinks more/less of someone for having married rather than entered a PACS, or for having entered a PACS rather than marrying.

Like I said, a lot depends on the beholder. The above would not be true of more conservative Christians and especially more conservative catholics, but for huge swathes of French society, I'd say the above is true.

All of which underpins my observation that there are conflicting and subjective as well as objective, purely legal forces at work here, and they need to be taken into account too.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Can you answer me one question: How does equal marriage threaten or affect straight marriage?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Can you answer me one question: How does equal marriage threaten or affect straight marriage?

As far as I know myself, I don't feel that it does. I don't object to SSM being on the statute books here at all. What I am unsure about is whether, legal protections aside, it will deliver on expectations.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Can you answer me one question: How does equal marriage threaten or affect straight marriage?

As far as I know myself, I don't feel that it does. I don't object to SSM being on the statute books here at all. What I am unsure about is whether, legal protections aside, it will deliver on expectations.
What expectations? SScouples have the same range of expectation that straight couples have.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
What expectations? SScouples have the same range of expectation that straight couples have.

I think (but am by no means sure) that for some, same-sex marriage might offer the prospect of a sense of deliverance from feeling 'different' from the majority. While others will of course celebrate that difference, I think anybody in the former category is going to be disillusioned.

I'm not doing a very good job of expressing myself here. To put it another way, it doesn't seem to jive with the "different callings" approach Eliab hints at here.

But on further reflection I think this is again due to the confusion between the historic Christian understanding(s) of marriage and the civil one(s).

[ 23. February 2016, 16:27: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Loads of mixed up thought in that, IMO.
First, even stepping into your religious POV, to use the term 'calling' to describe marriage is fraught with problems.
Is someone called into an abusive Hetero marriage for example?
For the sake of argument, let's agree that some people are called. Some people are called to marriage, some are not. Why does it matter if some are gay?
"Historic" Christian marriage. In the history of the church, it didn't give a toss for nearly half of its history. When it did, its history became intertwined with power politics more than anything else. At least for a few hundred years. So "traditional" Christian marriage could be said as defining a man and his inheritance as much as anything else.

[ 23. February 2016, 16:42: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Some people are called to marriage, some are not. Why does it matter if some are gay?

If they are "called" into something which is an expression of diversity, not sameness (which is what Eliab seems to be positing about) then seeking an exact equivalent of hetero marriage is a mistake. I'm not saying I subscribe to this view, but I think it deserves more exploration in terms of how the Church could or should accommodate same-sex couples - which is sort of the on-topic issue here.
quote:
"Historic" Christian marriage. In the history of the church, it didn't give a toss for nearly half of its history.
What, about marriage being between one man and one woman? Which half of its history was that?
 
Posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom (# 3434) on :
 
I can only give a personal perspective. You and I are just not that different, Eutychus. I can go whole months without remembering that "I am a lesbian."

I see myself as being far more similar to the other boring middle-aged people around me with spouses and children and jobs and mortgages and hobbies than to any of the brilliantly plumaged LGBT people in popular media. I would guess I'm not the only one. Don't get me wrong, I admire the brilliantly plumaged and I value their input into the general discussion.

But, like other boring middle-aged people with all those responsibilities, I want the same security in my primary relationship, the same respect for it in public, that you have automatically, without thinking. I see myself as a human being before I see myself as lesbian or gay.

In terms of the Bible, I have always preferred to ignore the clobber verses altogether and go for the messages of love and acceptance that are far more prevalent in terms of percentage. And as I said on the other thread, when the church starts to argue again about divorced people in leadership and exclude them, given that there are words from Jesus himself on the subject, then I'll take heterosexual exegesis on homosexuality more seriously. I know there are those who are conflicted about it, but I don't hear nasty things being said in public about the divorced, and lo, I see them in authority in some churches.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom:
In terms of the Bible, I have always preferred to ignore the clobber verses altogether and go for the messages of love and acceptance that are far more prevalent in terms of percentage.

I find myself pretty much where Eliab seems to be on this. I'd love to ignore them, but from where I'm coming from, I have to try and make some sense of them (just as I have thrashed through the verses on divorce in the past and now, a quarter century of pastoral ministry on, find myself almost diametrically opposed to where I was back then on the issue).

I'm not claiming any superiority on that, just observing that we're coming at this from different places.

[ 23. February 2016, 21:40: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom (# 3434) on :
 
I guess where I'm coming from is the tiny proportion of verses relating to homosexuality, some of them disputed in terms of translation and meaning, seem a very slim plank on which to exclude people. When one lives one's life in a generally blameless fashion, it is very, very hard to have it reduced to 4-6 verses of the Bible by people who refuse to look at the whole person and what fruits of the Spirit they might be displaying.

There are vastly more passages covering sexual sins between heterosexuals - unambiguous in both language and meaning - that I don't hear being trotted out relentlessly to condemn the guilty to outer perdition. While I wouldn't like to return to the nasty situation where sessions and vestries and priests could pillory people for such, it seems to me that homosexuality allows that impulse to present day church leaders, with people like me as the victims.

Which is where I come back to my point about the many, many passages encouraging love and welcome for the "outcast." It seems to me that the nitpicking over those 4-6 verses inverts the Bible into a very wobbly legal document rather than sitting it firmly on the message of love, reconciliation and inclusion that saturates the words of Jesus. Doctrine instead of reality.

Anyway, I am leaving the discussion now. I no longer really have a dog in the fight, having left the church because it couldn't face the reality of kind, faithful, hardworking gay and lesbian servants of God.
 
Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
[Multiple cross-posting because I write slowly]

I think I hear the subtle creak of goal posts being moved. It's all about the necessity of it taking 'a man and a woman to make a baby' but as soon as it's pointed out that that may not be a necessity in the future (eg. through cloning or adding a chromosome each from a same sex couple into an egg for example but other ways will no doubt become feasible too) subjective and pejorative words like sordid/dystopian start appearing- and suddenly there's a new hurdle to be leapt.

So it's now enough that a married couple produce a baby, but they must be judged on whether someone thinks the process of conception fits some idealised model they have (which just happens to discriminate heavily against gay people).

It does look a bit like wanting to find some way to hang onto heterosexual privilege by saying any other way people might do it must be wrong because it's not the normal 'heterosexual way', and then it all becomes a bit circular.

But if the end result is a baby - what are 'natural' child conceiving believers going to do? Tell the child they're an abomination or 'not the best God had in mind' because they were conceived by people who had more choices in conception then there were in the Iron Age/Late Antiquity when various sacred texts were getting written? Or more choices than there were in the Stone Age when everything was 'natural' and we likely practiced infanticide, so there was just one child to carry and we probably mostly snuffed it in our thirties like modern hunter gatherers?

Being both female and a historian, I really do think 'natural' is a vastly overrated category worthy of a great deal of suspicion when it comes to any matter concerning reproduction and child bearing/rearing, because y'know that's worked so well for people of my gender down through the centuries...

But essentially I agree with Orfeo, marriage has changed due to feminism over hundreds of years ( you could see Reformed churches backing away from the procreation-centric model even in the 16th century as they started to value godly women who were past child-bearing age), so procreation is optional not central, and looking down on people or considering their relationships lesser because they don't procreate is frowned upon with good reason - because that has badly hurt lots of people, especially women, not just gay people over the centuries.

I think maybe you're missing that feminism also led to prejudice against non-procreative marriage being considered a bad thing - not just to procreation being seen as no longer central and definitive in marriage. So people increasingly want marriage not to discriminate on those grounds and certainly not to be defined by them, so the whole discussion just comes across as 'But why would we want to define marriage in those terms - when it's good for us too and the LGBT folks to stop being hung up on it?'

[ 23. February 2016, 22:39: Message edited by: Louise ]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
What expectations? SScouples have the same range of expectation that straight couples have.

I think (but am by no means sure) that for some, same-sex marriage might offer the prospect of a sense of deliverance from feeling 'different' from the majority. While others will of course celebrate that difference, I think anybody in the former category is going to be disillusioned.

I'm not doing a very good job of expressing myself here. To put it another way, it doesn't seem to jive with the "different callings" approach Eliab hints at here.

But on further reflection I think this is again due to the confusion between the historic Christian understanding(s) of marriage and the civil one(s).

There's a real problem with the idea that because someone acknowledges that they are different in some way, they must therefore emphasise (or "celebrate") that difference in all respects.

Some of these thoughts about how homosexuals should accept their different calling are a bit like saying that interracial marriage is a bad idea because a black woman might forget her skin tone.

The fact that I'm gay is undoubtedly a significant part of who I am, as is the fact that I'm male. That doesn't mean that I want everything about me and my life to be defined in those terms. I don't do gay work, I don't eat gay food. I don't do male work or eat male food, either.

That a marriage involving me would be a "gay marriage" is a statement of fact, not of purpose. When people talk about their partner, the gender of their partner is only rarely relevant to the topic under discussion, in the same way that when describing someone as a "French citizen" it rarely matters whether their skin is light or dark. It only matters if you're giving a physical description for some reason.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
You* are phrasing marriage as a calling to diversity. It needn't be.

The history of marriage as heterosexual. That is cultural. Some cultures have cared and some have not.
And many cultures have "historically" treated women as property and others as slaves. So historicity isn't that strong a claim in my book to begin with.

*General and specific

ETA: x-posted with orfeo. But I started mine ages ago and was interrupted, so he is the xposter. [Razz]

[ 23. February 2016, 23:37: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by Gee D (# 13815) on :
 
Nor, Orfeo, do you have a gay birthday or celebrate a gay Christmas. That's why I'd like to get away from having gay marriage and instead look to removing gender/sexuality etc as a barrier to marriage.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom:
I can only give a personal perspective. You and I are just not that different, Eutychus. I can go whole months without remembering that "I am a lesbian."
I see myself as being far more similar to the other boring middle-aged people around me with spouses and children and jobs and mortgages and hobbies than to any of the brilliantly plumaged LGBT people in popular media. I would guess I'm not the only one. Don't get me wrong, I admire the brilliantly plumaged and I value their input into the general discussion.

ISTM, people who are less brilliantly plumed have done at least as much for inclusion as the bright and shiny ones because they are more visibly the same.
quote:
Originally posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom:

I see myself as a human being before I see myself as lesbian or gay.

We are all human first. Before sexuality or colour or anything else.
quote:
Originally posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom:

I know there are those who are conflicted about it, but I don't hear nasty things being said in public about the divorced, and lo, I see them in authority in some churches.

Amen.

quote:
Originally posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom:

Anyway, I am leaving the discussion now. I no longer really have a dog in the fight, having left the church because it couldn't face the reality of kind, faithful, hardworking gay and lesbian servants of God.

I'd rather you didn't. You are a much more respected and calm voice than I and I think your words have more impact here.
I am much more an outsider than you, but I consider this important enough to discuss across religious borders.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom:
There are vastly more passages covering sexual sins between heterosexuals - unambiguous in both language and meaning - that I don't hear being trotted out relentlessly to condemn the guilty to outer perdition.

So far as I can remember, for my part I have never "trotted out" verses condemning anyone to outer perdition at all, and if I were to do so, my ire would be reserved neither for gays nor divorcees but for slanderers. I am far more concerned about that category being in leadership than any of the others.

I understand your disillusionment, but I'm disappointed by your air of finality and your apparent blanket judgement of those you have left.
quote:
Which is where I come back to my point about the many, many passages encouraging love and welcome for the "outcast." It seems to me that the nitpicking over those 4-6 verses inverts the Bible into a very wobbly legal document rather than sitting it firmly on the message of love, reconciliation and inclusion that saturates the words of Jesus.
That certainly resonates with me, and my church gets more than a few glares at for attempting to implement this ethos. But I honestly believe it is not loving either to trample over the sensitivities of those who feel differently. It's too facile to assume they're all homophobes.

I have been mulling over the parable of the lost sheep these last few days. It seems to me that the main message of this parable is incontrovertibly the shepherd's overwhelming, perhaps even faintly amusing, concern for the 1%. But there seems to be some consensus among commentators that the shepherd did not simply abandon the 99% to their fate either.

I know it must sound like "more of the same" to reassert the need to care for the majority pastorally too, but as a church leader, even if my heart is for the excluded, I need to think about the majority too, and how to move them along without hurting them unnecessarily.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Louise:
So it's now enough that a married couple produce a baby, but they must be judged on whether someone thinks the process of conception fits some idealised model they have (which just happens to discriminate heavily against gay people).

It does look a bit like wanting to find some way to hang onto heterosexual privilege by saying any other way people might do it must be wrong because it's not the normal 'heterosexual way', and then it all becomes a bit circular.

I feel misrepresented here too. I conceded marriage was not exclusively or necessarily about producing a baby well before this thread.

I don't believe alternative methods of conception are ipso facto wrong, either. I do think they are more complicated both technically and ethically, and that the more sophisticated they are, the more ethically complicated they become. Note that "ethically complicated" does not mean or imply "wrong", but it does imply (to me at least) that pretending they are the exact equivalent in every respect of natural conception (which, granted, can lead to a whole other set of complications) is to run the risk of setting up a false expectation.

I take your point that there can be slippage down the ages about what "natural" means, but I still think that other things being equal, more babies will continue to be produced by heterosexual intercourse than any other way. That's not an argument for banning recourse to other available methods or a moral judgement on those who do, but an assertion of the majority state of affairs. That shouldn't make a difference, I hear you and several others say, but as a left-hander in a right-hander's world, I can tell you it does.

quote:
'But why would we want to define marriage in those terms - when it's good for us too and the LGBT folks to stop being hung up on it?'
The question in the OP, as I understand it, is not that, but "how do we reconcile this persuasive case with how we understand Scripture?" Of course this is a trivial question for some, but it certainly scratches my itch.

And in its own way, that itch emerges for me as just as foundational a part of my identity as sexual orientation emerges as such for others.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
But I honestly believe it is not loving either to trample over the sensitivities of those who feel differently.

Imagine this is race, and not homosexuality. Do you have the same compassion? Would it prevent you from discussing why their feelings might not be OK?
And imagine if you can what it feels like to the oppressed to have sympathy with the oppressors. It is not that we lack the capacity to understand the difficulties of change, but it is not exactly a symmetrical issue.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

It's too facile to assume they're all homophobes.

Homophobia, like racism, is not an on or off position. It is sliding scale or a spectrum.
Hate is not a requisite for the label to be applicable. It is an uncomfortable label, few like to think of themselves with such a negative appellation. But softening it does not seem right, either.
So how do you approach it with compassion, but no compromise?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Imagine this is race, and not homosexuality. Do you have the same compassion?

Should I find within myself compassion even towards those by whom I am repulsed? Yes, as a Christian I think I should.
quote:
Would it prevent you from discussing why their feelings might not be OK?
Not in the slightest. What do you think I'm doing here?
quote:
And imagine if you can what it feels like to the oppressed to have sympathy with the oppressors.
Again, I feel like I have been pinned down by some sort of minority judo hold here. How can I know what it feels like? I can't. Does that mean "you win"?

I really don't think the answer is to turn the tables and give the oppressors some of their own medicine for a change, however appealing that prospect might be. I try to follow some guy who talked about loving his enemies.
quote:
It is not that we lack the capacity to understand the difficulties of change, but it is not exactly a symmetrical issue.

I know [Frown] But at least we're talking [Smile]
quote:
So how do you approach it with compassion, but no compromise?
Again, good question, a large part of why I'm here and why this is keeping me awake at night.
 
Posted by Doublethink. (# 1984) on :
 
I thought the biblical interpretation used, was to say the pertinent verses in the old testament referred to the worship practices of the cult of a false god (Molech I think) and those in the new testament were concerned with temple prostitution. In addition, David & Jonathon provide a fairly strong model of a same sex relationship - that requires an awful lot of special pleading to be seen as purely platonic. (And of course, lesbians are never mentioned.)

Essentially, that the biblical prohibtions are an extention of the injunction to worship only the one true God.

Homosexuality was common in the world in which Jesus lived, he doesn't seem to have felt the need to go out of his way to preach on the subject.

[ 24. February 2016, 06:52: Message edited by: Doublethink. ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Should I find within myself compassion even towards those by whom I am repulsed? Yes, as a Christian I think I should.

Buddhism agrees with this as well. and my question was inadequate to what I am trying to express. Compassion does not inherently lead to sparing feelings. Wrong is wrong. Compassion should inform the tone, but not dilute the message. I help raise my nephew, and I must sometimes correct his errors. I do this with as much love and compassion as I can, but I in no way let him think that the errors are acceptable.
quote:

Not in the slightest. What do you think I'm doing here?

Point taken, you are honestly exploring your concerns and feelings and that is a door open.
quote:

Again, I feel like I have been pinned down by some sort of minority judo hold here. How can I know what it feels like? I can't. Does that mean "you win"?

OK, so this is tough to answer. I have never wished to phrase this as a win/lose thing. My posting here about these issues has been trying to help people understand, to break barriers. Though I may fail, I wish my words, not my colour or anything else to be my argument. I would much rather empathy than sympathy, joining in cause rather than capitulation.
Tell me how to do this without being honest about how it feels to be excluded.

quote:

Again, good question, a large part of why I'm here and why this is keeping me awake at night.

If it helps, it causes restless nights for me as well.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
Nor, Orfeo, do you have a gay birthday or celebrate a gay Christmas. That's why I'd like to get away from having gay marriage and instead look to removing gender/sexuality etc as a barrier to marriage.

"Marriage equality" is indeed a better phrase for that reason. It does, though, sometimes have adverse side-effects in discussions with those whose whole believe is that it's not possible to be 'equal' because they find the difference incredibly important.

I have at various points, including a different Dead Horses thread, speculated as to how the ingredients of a gay wedding cake differ from a straight one. Perhaps the eggs of lesbian chickens are specially selected.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
[tangent]
quote:
...my ire would be reserved neither for gays nor divorcees but for slanderers. I am far more concerned about that category being in leadership than any of the others.
As a fellow object of such slander, Amen to that!!!

[/tangent]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
I thought the biblical interpretation used, was to say the pertinent verses in the old testament referred to the worship practices of the cult of a false god (Molech I think) and those in the new testament were concerned with temple prostitution.

Ricardus offers a different breakdown here:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
The question is then whether the prohibition on gay sex falls inside the Mosaic Laws or the general laws, and Paul prima facie seems to have believed the latter.

This seems more evident to me and, as I understand the OP, to Eliab. Which is more problematic.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
I thought the biblical interpretation used, was to say the pertinent verses in the old testament referred to the worship practices of the cult of a false god (Molech I think) and those in the new testament were concerned with temple prostitution.

Ricardus offers a different breakdown here:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
The question is then whether the prohibition on gay sex falls inside the Mosaic Laws or the general laws, and Paul prima facie seems to have believed the latter.

This seems more evident to me and, as I understand the OP, to Eliab. Which is more problematic.

If we could set aside the question of whether Romans is authoritative and ask only what it (probably) means, I wouldn't go for Doublethink's explanation as the most likely. It's possible - and the link between idolatry and sexual practice is certainly there in the text - but it seems more likely to me that the link is between two things which the writer and his first readers would have agreed were wrong. "If you err theological by worshipping idols (which is wrong), you may become so corrupt that you end up having sex with other men, if male, or unnatural-possibly-but-not-definitely-lesbian sex, if female (which is also wrong)". If I wasn't bothered about having to obey Paul's teachings, I'd have no serious doubt that he was anti-gay. And I'd be glad that human understanding of morality had advanced since his day to the point where I could be sure that he was mistaken.

Alternative explanations commend themselves to me only as a way out of the moral quandary of there otherwise being a clear ethical failure in the plain text of what I believe is sacred scripture. If the "temple prostitution" angle is all Paul meant to talk about, then he can still be right - so it's very tempting to believe that that is all he was talking about. And it is plausible enough to be a possible reading. But I also know that I wouldn't read the text that way if I didn't feel, in some way, that it was inspired by God.

My argument is that it is right to read less likely meanings into scripture, if the most likely reading would be immoral - whereas with any other historic document, we'd simply take the most likely reading, and decide that the author was wrong.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Ricardus offers a different breakdown here:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
The question is then whether the prohibition on gay sex falls inside the Mosaic Laws or the general laws, and Paul prima facie seems to have believed the latter.

This seems more evident to me and, as I understand the OP, to Eliab. Which is more problematic.
Is there a way to make that distinction that doesn't rely on special pleading? Why are First Testament rules on homosexuality considered "generally applicable", but First Testament rules on menstruation (for example) are a special case only applicable to Jews? There's no distinction made in the text that says "Leviticus 20:13 applies to everyone, but Leviticus 20:18 is just for the Chosen People".
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:

Alternative explanations commend themselves to me only as a way out of the moral quandary of there otherwise being a clear ethical failure in the plain text of what I believe is sacred scripture.

Why must sacred = verbatim?
Sorry for the broken record repetition, but this is the problem. If the belief is that the bible is divinely inspired, spoken through imperfect vessels, there is less of an issue. The problem lies, IMO, in viewing the bible as if spoken through an oracle, God's words through human larynx. If the later is the case, he is an inefective communicator, as fickle as any Greek god.
And for another repitition, both Paul and Jesus are on record for saying celibacy is better than any type marriage and that is a cue followed by very few Christian sects.
Christians all pick and choose.
So again, for no one offers a good explanation, why so hung up on homosexuality = wrong when that fairly clearly goes against Jesus teachings?
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
If the later is the case, he is an ineffective communicator, as fickle as any Greek god

Tell me about it!
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Thank you for the chuckle. [Big Grin] Kinda needed it.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Is there a way to make that distinction that doesn't rely on special pleading? Why are First Testament rules on homosexuality considered "generally applicable", but First Testament rules on menstruation (for example) are a special case only applicable to Jews?

That's a great question.

Crœsos, I'm indebted to you inasmuch as you first drew my attention to Zelophehad's daughters (as related here).

As I mentioned, this happened to be where my preaching series through Numbers had got to as of last Sunday.

For me this was an opportunity to set down where I had got to (as of last Sunday) on inspiration, of Scripture and of interpretation.

I don't explicitly refer to gay issues or SSM, but I don't think you have to read very much between the lines to see where I've got to on that. I have not been burned to the stake by my congregation - yet.

So I have indulged myself by doing an on-the-fly translation of it into English and posting it for you all, here. Please don't y'all burn me to the stake either.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
homosexuality = wrong when that fairly clearly goes against Jesus teachings?

If it was as clear as all that from Jesus' teachings, I think this issue would have been settled a long time ago. Jesus doesn't say anything either way on homosexuality, and does cite Genesis on man and woman becoming one flesh, among other references to hetero marriage.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Crœsos, I'm indebted to you inasmuch as you first drew my attention to Zelophehad's daughters (as related here).

Glad I could help. BTW, you may be interested in Fred Clark's take on the same incident.

quote:
That’s the context here. Moses speaks for God. The laws that Moses has just explained are laws given by God. And ever since the ground opened up to swallow Korah and his friends, no one in Israel has dared to question Moses’ authority or the justice of any of those laws.

Until now.

Now Moses is again being confronted, but not by clan leaders and respected well-known men. He’s being challenged by five sisters. The law, these sisters tell Moses, is not fair. God’s law is not fair.

Keep in mind that theirs is a world that hasn’t yet parsed out a thousand different words to create a distinction between justice and righteousness. If God’s law is unjust, then God’s law is not righteous. These women are not just challenging the authority of Moses and the authority of God, they’re challenging the basis for that authority. And they’re doing it right there in front of the tabernacle, “before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation.”

It's an interesting example of one of the rare times in the Torah when arguments from human beings convince God to change His mind.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
If it was as clear as all that from Jesus' teachings, I think this issue would have been settled a long time ago. Jesus doesn't say anything either way on homosexuality, and does cite Genesis on man and woman becoming one flesh, among other references to hetero marriage.

Interestingly that passage from Genesis seems to be an aside to the reader rather than anything applicable within the narrative. After all, if "[t]hat is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife", then that description cannot apply to Adam, who had no father or mother to leave. Which rather begs the question of whether Adam and Eve were actually "married", in either the civil or theological sense of the term.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
homosexuality = wrong when that fairly clearly goes against Jesus teachings?

If it was as clear as all that from Jesus' teachings, I think this issue would have been settled a long time ago. Jesus doesn't say anything either way on homosexuality, and does cite Genesis on man and woman becoming one flesh, among other references to hetero marriage.
And he does that in reference to divorce. Context is everything.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Context is everything.

It's certainly not nothing, but it's a fact that Jesus alludes here and elsewhere to hetero marriage and says nothing at all that is unequivocally about homosexuality - either way.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Context is everything.

It's certainly not nothing, but it's a fact that Jesus alludes here and elsewhere to hetero marriage and says nothing at all that is unequivocally about homosexuality - either way.
So then what do you do? My thought would be to evaluate against his overall message. And it is difficult, for me, to see any way Jesus would condemn SSM.
 
Posted by Gee D (# 13815) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
Nor, Orfeo, do you have a gay birthday or celebrate a gay Christmas. That's why I'd like to get away from having gay marriage and instead look to removing gender/sexuality etc as a barrier to marriage.

"Marriage equality" is indeed a better phrase for that reason. It does, though, sometimes have adverse side-effects in discussions with those whose whole believe is that it's not possible to be 'equal' because they find the difference incredibly important.

I have at various points, including a different Dead Horses thread, speculated as to how the ingredients of a gay wedding cake differ from a straight one. Perhaps the eggs of lesbian chickens are specially selected.

A couple of problems with "marriage equality". The first is that it allows some to argue for a form of civil partnership, on the basis that that is equal. Of course it's not, but that won't top the argument.

The second is that it has patronising elements to it -"look, aren't we good, giving something". whereas my approach gives nothing but removes barriers.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
My thought would be to evaluate against his overall message. And it is difficult, for me, to see any way Jesus would condemn SSM.

Well, that's where we get into the arguments about what Paul meant.

As for Jesus, he might not condemn it, but he might not champion it either. We just don't immediately know either way.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
it seems more likely to me that the link is between two things which the writer and his first readers would have agreed were wrong.

Whereas I would argue the link is things that the writer knew his first readers would agree were wrong.

Which is not the same thing. And I think the difference is crucial because of how Romans 2 starts. It talks about "you" who have just indulged in judging others. Not "we".

The point, as I've long understood it, is to have readers feeling self-satisfied right before springing on them.

Very recently a conservative Christian friend of mine shared a meme on Facebook about how Jesus ate with sinners, but didn't participate in their sin. I responded by pointing out that every single person Jesus ever ate with was a sinner.

[ 25. February 2016, 01:09: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Is there a way to make that distinction that doesn't rely on special pleading? Why are First Testament rules on homosexuality considered "generally applicable", but First Testament rules on menstruation (for example) are a special case only applicable to Jews? There's no distinction made in the text that says "Leviticus 20:13 applies to everyone, but Leviticus 20:18 is just for the Chosen People".

Hence the need to invoke St Paul.

(Unless you're saying St Paul is special pleading as well.)
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Picking and choosing whist you will revere and what you will ignore is special pleading no matter how you do it.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I could quite easily imagine the Pharisees accusing Jesus of "special pleading" in his attitude to the Law.

Wikipedia defines "special pleading" thus:
quote:
an attempt to cite something as an exception to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exception.
Some arguments on this issue certainly do fall foul of that definition, but for many others, I think it's more a case of disagreement as to whether the exception is justified. Your special pleading might be my justified exception.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
I know the whole thread is about biblical interpretation but what if, just what if, as so many theologians have held (even very trad ones like Aquinas), morality were not something that is revealed. I care not a jot what Paul wrote if it's supposed to order my behaviour according to norms that would otherwise pass my understanding. Ethics are not revealed.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Ethics are not revealed.

So what standard are you using? The views of "every right-minded Greek" (as per Plato)?

I think going with a majority view is actually a reasonable way to make ethical choices of right behaviour - but then leaves a problem when criticising others from different cultural backgrounds and when the majority is wrong.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Ethics are not revealed.

So what standard are you using? The views of "every right-minded Greek" (as per Plato)?

I think going with a majority view is actually a reasonable way to make ethical choices of right behaviour - but then leaves a problem when criticising others from different cultural backgrounds and when the majority is wrong.

Such things as demonstrable harm and human flourishing, MrCheesy, or even natural law should you be catholically inclined.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Such things as demonstrable harm and human flourishing, MrCheesy, or even natural law should you be catholically inclined.

I was with you as far as the first two, but got thrown by the third, as it is often invoked to justify a fundamental male-female difference that has an impact on the rightness or wrongness of sexual relations (see point 3 in Joan the Outlaw-Dwarf's immortal list here).
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
Think about it: why have we stopped inflicting the hideous forms of punishment actually revealed as appropriate in the Torah, much like the huddud penalties currently inflicted by Daesh, (and we have well into Tudor times), is it because Jesus further 'revealed' to us that we should be nicer? Have we stopped stoning adulterers because Jesus showed us it should be so? or because Paul alleviated the rule?

Same thing on gay sex or SSM: the. Bible. is. wrong.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
it is often invoked to justify a fundamental male-female difference that has an impact on the rightness or wrongness of sexual relations

yea, but that's a pop version of natural law, IMO. It'd take hundreds of pages to demonstrate it, I'm sure, but in its Thomas for at least, natural need only imply that just as logic is reliant on a few principles that cannot be denied (e.g. non-contradiction) so is morality (e.g. good is to be sought and evil avoided).

[ 25. February 2016, 08:17: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
in its thomist form, damn the automatic spellchecker
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Think about it: why have we stopped inflicting the hideous forms of punishment actually revealed as appropriate in the Torah, much like the huddud penalties currently inflicted by Daesh, (and we have well into Tudor times), is it because Jesus further 'revealed' to us that we should be nicer? Have we stopped stoning adulterers because Jesus showed us it should be so? or because Paul alleviated the rule?

Same thing on gay sex or SSM: the. Bible. is. wrong.

OK, I think there is a gap between saying "ethics are not revealed", which appears to me to be highly problematic and saying "the revealed ethics of the bible are wrong".

To me it isn't a question of whether ethics are or not revealed, but as to which revelation is authoritative and why.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Think about it: why have we stopped inflicting the hideous forms of punishment actually revealed as appropriate in the Torah, much like the huddud penalties currently inflicted by Daesh, (and we have well into Tudor times), is it because Jesus further 'revealed' to us that we should be nicer? Have we stopped stoning adulterers because Jesus showed us it should be so? or because Paul alleviated the rule?

Same thing on gay sex or SSM: the. Bible. is. wrong.

OK, I think there is a gap between saying "ethics are not revealed", which appears to me to be highly problematic and saying "the revealed ethics of the bible are wrong".

To me it isn't a question of whether ethics are or not revealed, but as to which revelation is authoritative and why.

What do you mean by revelation then? If it's something that would otherwise be inaccessible to human reason, of course it cannot be proved wrong. You just have to go along, not knowing why.

[ 25. February 2016, 08:34: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
I care not a jot what Paul wrote if it's supposed to order my behaviour according to norms that would otherwise pass my understanding. Ethics are not revealed.

I certainly turned a corner in my thinking when I came to see Acts, in particular, as descriptive and not prescriptive, and it's not much of a leap from there to seeing the epistles in the same light: a record of how the first Christians addressed the issues they faced with the light that they had, rather than all details being set in stone for all time.

Nevertheless, to be perfectly honest I still struggle with making a similar leap when it comes to homosexuality because male and female appears to me to be such a foundational thing, notably in the first chapters of Genesis.

Intellectually, I can readily accept homosexuality as part of life today, post-Fall - in much the same way as I do divorce and remarriage. Jesus' rather wistful words on this subject "but that is not how it was in the beginning" - and his accompanying acknowledgement of the need to accommodate this state of affairs - resonate with me in this respect.

I know this isn't acceptable to a lot of people because it puts homosexuality in the "not God's best" category (although for me, as stated before, that excludes neither great good nor grace, or inclusion).

So far, I haven't found a (to me) more satisfactory way of joining the dots between Genesis and where we find ourselves in today's world.

Just my €0.02.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
I care not a jot what Paul wrote if it's supposed to order my behaviour according to norms that would otherwise pass my understanding. Ethics are not revealed.

I certainly turned a corner in my thinking when I came to see Acts, in particular, as descriptive and not prescriptive, and it's not much of a leap from there to seeing the epistles in the same light: a record of how the first Christians addressed the issues they faced with the light that they had, rather than all details being set in stone for all time.

Nevertheless, to be perfectly honest I still struggle with making a similar leap when it comes to homosexuality because male and female appears to me to be such a foundational thing, notably in the first chapters of Genesis.

Intellectually, I can readily accept homosexuality as part of life today, post-Fall - in much the same way as I do divorce and remarriage. Jesus' rather wistful words on this subject "but that is not how it was in the beginning" - and his accompanying acknowledgement of the need to accommodate this state of affairs - resonate with me in this respect.

I know this isn't acceptable to a lot of people because it puts homosexuality in the "not God's best" category (although for me, as stated before, that excludes neither great good nor grace, or inclusion).

So far, I haven't found a (to me) more satisfactory way of joining the dots between Genesis and where we find ourselves in today's world.

Just my €0.02.

In the beginning were sexless anaerobic bacteria, then trilobites a few aeons down the line. Sexual dimorphism is very, very late... pace Matthew.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Picking and choosing whist you will revere and what you will ignore is special pleading no matter how you do it.

If you have a method for picking and choosing then by definition it is not special pleading. Your method may be wrong and stupid but that's a different issue.

lilBuddha, you identify as Buddhist, do you not? But I would bet small amounts of money that you don't believe in the literal existence of hot and cold narakas, or that the sick old man seen by the Buddha was a simulacrum created by the gods. Would you appreciate it if your attempts to explain such apparent anomalies in your worldview were just dismissed as picking and choosing or special pleading?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
In the beginning were sexless anaerobic bacteria, then trilobites a few aeons down the line. Sexual dimorphism is very, very late... pace Matthew.

You can read the second creation narrative that way, too - that humanity was originally without sex. In which case, the emphasis on it becoming two distinct sexes appears more significant, not less, does it not?
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Nevertheless, to be perfectly honest I still struggle with making a similar leap when it comes to homosexuality because male and female appears to me to be such a foundational thing, notably in the first chapters of Genesis.

How am I not male?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
How am I not male?

The text goes on to talk about the male and the female becoming one flesh...
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
I know the whole thread is about biblical interpretation but what if, just what if, as so many theologians have held (even very trad ones like Aquinas), morality were not something that is revealed. I care not a jot what Paul wrote if it's supposed to order my behaviour according to norms that would otherwise pass my understanding. Ethics are not revealed.

It has just occurred to me - and this may hark back to the discussion about 'nature' right at the beginning of the thread - that there is an inherent tension between St Paul saying that the Gentiles have the law written on their hearts, and in the same passage that they are so corrupted by idolatry that they don't realise gay sex is wrong. (If that is indeed what St Paul meant ...)
 
Posted by Garasu (# 17152) on :
 
It's surely presupposing male-female coupling, though? In other words, does it preclude 'so a man/woman leaves his/her father and his/her mother and clings to his/her spouse, and they become one flesh' now that we have an expanded concept of such relationships?
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Ricardus,

From the Kālāma sutra:
quote:

Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Rather, when you yourselves know that these things are good; these things are not blamable; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness, then and only then enter into and abide in them.

The existance of narakas and gods are irrelevant. Even the existance of the Buddha is not foundational. It is not coincidental that Christianity is less science friendly than Buddhism.*

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
In the beginning were sexless anaerobic bacteria, then trilobites a few aeons down the line. Sexual dimorphism is very, very late... pace Matthew.

You can read the second creation narrative that way, too - that humanity was originally without sex. In which case, the emphasis on it becoming two distinct sexes appears more significant, not less, does it not?
No, it does not. You learn the wrong lesson.
It is wrong to look at evolution as a progressive path.
Sexual dimorphism is one strategy, not the ultimate one.
Genesis is not a biology tome, nor an historical one. Unless you believe in a 6,000 year old earth, then we have nothing to discuss.


*It should be obvious that this is not to say that one cannot be a Christian and accept science or be Buddhist and reject it.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
How am I not male?

The text goes on to talk about the male and the female becoming one flesh...
Well, you didn't say becoming one flesh was a foundational thing, you said that male and female was a foundational thing.

And it's incredibly critical that you tease that out, because all sorts of implications start being drawn out of it. It's a very dangerous thing to start suggesting that you're not fully male or female if you don't become one flesh.

I don't think it's much less dangerous to start saying that becoming one flesh is foundational, such that if you fail to do this you're not being a full human being.

You're actually trying to come down to a notion that a particular combination of these elements - being male, being female, coming together as one flesh - is "foundational" such that any other combination is "non-foundational". But that's a pretty problematic use of language in itself. You're still in serious danger of putting forward an argument that says it is a moral duty of every human being to find a mate of the opposite gender and become one flesh with them, and that anyone who fails to do this is not fulfilling their function as a human being.

It's not far away from thinking such as childlessness is a curse from God. And you can in fact find thinking in the Bible along those lines, particularly in the Old Testament. But not many people think along those lines now.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
I know the whole thread is about biblical interpretation but what if, just what if, as so many theologians have held (even very trad ones like Aquinas), morality were not something that is revealed. I care not a jot what Paul wrote if it's supposed to order my behaviour according to norms that would otherwise pass my understanding. Ethics are not revealed.

It has just occurred to me - and this may hark back to the discussion about 'nature' right at the beginning of the thread - that there is an inherent tension between St Paul saying that the Gentiles have the law written on their hearts, and in the same passage that they are so corrupted by idolatry that they don't realise gay sex is wrong. (If that is indeed what St Paul meant ...)
He actually says that their idolatry caused their sexual licentiousness. This is all over rabbinical literature of the game, he's not unique, but I cannot think of any way meaningful in which idolatry causes homosexuality.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
Eutychus, you're also assuming that to become one flesh is to have sexual intercourse or beget children, but that's minority reading in the OT itself. As Prof. Brownson has shown, it frequently means nothing more than becoming kin.

Genesis 29:14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
Judges 9:2 “Say in the hearing of all the lords of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.”
2 Samuel 5:1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh.
2 Samuel 19:12 You are my kin, you are my bone and my flesh; why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’
2 Samuel 19:13 And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? So may God do to me, and more, if you are not the commander of my army from now on, in place of Joab.'”
1 Chronicles 11:1 Then all Israel gathered together to David at Hebron and said, “See, we are your bone and flesh.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
The existance of narakas and gods are irrelevant. Even the existance of the Buddha is not foundational. It is not coincidental that Christianity is less science friendly than Buddhism.

You don't need to justify Buddhism to me. I have a great respect for Buddhism.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am in favour of SSM and for treating gay couples equally within the church. But I think one should defend this belief using arguments that are true, and I don't think the argument from shellfish is one of them. I responded in an ill-tempered way because I think the argument from shellfish is a misrepresentation.
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
I'm not convinced that an argument is needed in support of marriage equality or equal treatment of gays.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Ricardus,

I was not justifying Buddhism so much as offering explanation. Reading my reply, it could seem a little defencive, but it was more educational and to show where my POV comes from.
My primary point about Christianity doesn't hang on the shellfish issue; but that the bible is inconsistent if read in a legalistic and/or divinely transcribed fashion.
My secondary point is that Christians already ignore parts of the bible and even have practices that are not directly biblical.

LeRoc,

I think this thread shows it is necessary to have the discussion, though I agree that it shouldn't be. IMO, reading Jesus' message should be enough.
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
It isn't just about reading Jesus' message.

In my view, the onus to make a moral case is on who wants to forbid something, not on who wants to allow it.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
Well, you didn't say becoming one flesh was a foundational thing, you said that male and female was a foundational thing.

And it's incredibly critical that you tease that out, because all sorts of implications start being drawn out of it. It's a very dangerous thing to start suggesting that you're not fully male or female if you don't become one flesh.

Indeed. Which is an excellent reason for saying, as I did, that "male and female" is foundational - and stopping right there*.

That said, in the very next verse it goes on to talk about the man cleaving to his wife and becoming one flesh.

To drive a wall between those two verses is, it seems to me, about as ridiculous as trying to drive a wall between two consecutive verses in Leviticus, as Croesos decried just now.

All the more so in that the second of the two verses in question begins "For this reason..."

It doesn't say "all men must...", but does it not suggest that - at least in the beginning (and as reiterated by Jesus, and Paul) - the idea was for a man to become one flesh with a woman, and not another man? How else can this be understood?

quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Eutychus, you're also assuming that to become one flesh is to have sexual intercourse or beget children, but that's minority reading in the OT itself. As Prof. Brownson has shown, it frequently means nothing more than becoming kin.

Genesis 29:14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

I have been careful not to equate having intercourse with bearing children, and indeed a few verses and the Fall elapse before that stage, so I think I'm on safe ground distinguishing the two.

I'm no Hebrew scholar, but while I can well imagine that the "my bone and my flesh" examples you cite might be the equivalent of what Adam says of Eve in Gen 2:23, I'd be really surprised if they are the equivalent of "the two shall become one flesh" in Gen 2:24. Can you demonstrate otherwise (genuinely curious)?

Besides, both Jesus and Paul unequivocally take that passage as referring to sexual relations, whether inside or outside of marriage, so I think it really smacks of desperation to suggest that "becoming one flesh" could be understood to mean anything else here.

=

*Yes this doesn't address intersex people, but while I think a lot of the issues intermingle, it's probably too much of a distraction here. Which is not to discount the immense challenges and suffering such people face - nor how absolutely amazing an incarnation of humanity they can be.

[ 25. February 2016, 20:16: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
Well, you didn't say becoming one flesh was a foundational thing, you said that male and female was a foundational thing.

And it's incredibly critical that you tease that out, because all sorts of implications start being drawn out of it. It's a very dangerous thing to start suggesting that you're not fully male or female if you don't become one flesh.

Indeed. Which is an excellent reason for saying, as I did, that "male and female" is foundational - and stopping right there*.

That said, in the very next verse it goes on to talk about the man cleaving to his wife and becoming one flesh.

To drive a wall between those two verses is, it seems to me, about as ridiculous as trying to drive a wall between two consecutive verses in Leviticus, as Croesos decried just now.

All the more so in that the second of the two verses in question begins "For this reason..."

If you're against driving walls between verses, maybe you should widen your scope beyond two verses. The first of which does NOT say "male and female he created them" in any case. That's Genesis 1:27. The verse before Genesis 2:24 is actually Genesis 2:23, which talks about Adam naming the flesh of his flesh as 'woman', and there are several relevant verses before that outlining the purpose of creating a woman - incredibly important for figuring out what "this reason" is. The words 'male' and 'female' don't appear in the passage.

You did not, by the way, simply say male and female were foundational and stop right there. You said it in a context. The only way that male and female being foundational is any kind of argument against homosexuality is if you go further.

That's exactly why I asked you how I'm not male. Because as far as I'm concerned I'm 100% male. Tick. Foundational requirement met.

[ 25. February 2016, 21:02: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
It doesn't say "all men must...", but does it not suggest that - at least in the beginning (and as reiterated by Jesus, and Paul) - the idea was for a man to become one flesh with a woman, and not another man?

Well, it suggests that a particular man's idea was to become one flesh with a particular woman.

God does not say: here is a woman, the idea is for you to become one flesh with her. Rather God says God will provide some candidate companions and see which one you think is suitable. Before Eve comes along, Adam is shown all the other animals in the search for a companion. Which means that if Adam had fancied sheep, or aardvarks, we would be having a very different conversation here. It is Adam's acceptance of Eve as companion that marks her out as the appropriate one flesh. (As twenty-first century readers, we must believe Eve accepted Adam back, but that's not in the text itself.)

The only normative idea the text seems to put forward is that a man must live with his parents until he's married, and then the couple set up at the wife's parents.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
It is not coincidental that Christianity is less science friendly than Buddhism.

Without wanting to denigrate the achievements of Indian and Chinese mathematics, I point out that the experimental empirical scientific revolution took place in Latin Christendom.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
God does not say: here is a woman, the idea is for you to become one flesh with her. Rather God says God will provide some candidate companions and see which one you think is suitable. Before Eve comes along, Adam is shown all the other animals in the search for a companion. Which means that if Adam had fancied sheep, or aardvarks, we would be having a very different conversation here. It is Adam's acceptance of Eve as companion that marks her out as the appropriate one flesh. (As twenty-first century readers, we must believe Eve accepted Adam back, but that's not in the text itself.)

Thank you. This is exactly what I'm trying to get across, but you've expressed it far better.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
It is not coincidental that Christianity is less science friendly than Buddhism.

Without wanting to denigrate the achievements of Indian and Chinese mathematics, I point out that the experimental empirical scientific revolution took place in Latin Christendom.
I was speaking of Modernity, but ...
quote:
Thus, clear unbroken lines of influence lead from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers, to medieval Muslim philosophers and scientists, to the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, to the secular sciences of the modern day.
I was reading an article speaking of scientific literacy in Christian countries like the US vs Buddhist countries. I will look try to find the article.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:

I was not justifying Buddhism so much as offering explanation. Reading my reply, it could seem a little defencive, but it was more educational and to show where my POV comes from.

If I thought you were defensive, it was only because I thought I had been offensive.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
If you're against driving walls between verses, maybe you should widen your scope beyond two verses. The first of which does NOT say "male and female he created them" in any case. That's Genesis 1:27. The verse before Genesis 2:24 is actually Genesis 2:23, which talks about Adam naming the flesh of his flesh as 'woman', and there are several relevant verses before that outlining the purpose of creating a woman - incredibly important for figuring out what "this reason" is. The words 'male' and 'female' don't appear in the passage.

You are of course absolutely right, and my brilliant rhetoric trying to use Croesos' argument against you goes down in flames.

(Thanks. I really appreciate you shooting holes without being rude about it - seriously).

I made my point badly, but you haven't convinced me that it's unreasonable to see the two being linked from the text.

Firstly, these two verses are quoted consecutively by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-5. So it would certainly seem that Jesus (or, if you prefer, whoever edited Matthew) saw them as contiguous in terms of ideas.

And secondly, they are unequivocally used in the context of marriage. If male and female had nothing to do with becoming one flesh, why didn't Jesus simply quote the second verse and not the first?

quote:
Because as far as I'm concerned I'm 100% male. Tick. Foundational requirement met.
Congratulations! [Biased]

But this makes me realise now that I overlooked something else you said (emphasis mine):

quote:
I don't think it's much less dangerous to start saying that becoming one flesh is foundational, such that if you fail to do this you're not being a full human being.
It is you who has introduced the word "requirement", not me. When I use the word "foundational", what I have in my mind is along the lines of Jesus' words, also in Matthew 19, verse 8, about "how things were in the beginning".

I don't think the fact that they aren't that way any more means that none of us are "full human beings", but that all of us are "full human beings" affected by the consequences of the Fall, and we have to deal with that as best we can.

Let me briefly return to the case of intersex people. There's absolutely no way they can fulfil a 100% male - or female - requirement. I've seen chromosomal and other analysis from one such person that were literally off the charts. If anything they were more than 50% both! Does that make them not a "full human being"? Certainly not. Does it affect their sexuality? Very definitely. Does it mean their sexuality is an abomination? I don't think so. Does it mean they cannot legitimately aspire to a sexual relationship? I don't think so either. Was that how it was in the beginning? no.

In Matthew 19 Jesus acknowledges how things were back in Eden; he also acknowledges the need to make accommodation for them no longer being that way. In struggling with this issue, that is pretty much where I stand for now.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Well, it suggests that a particular man's idea was to become one flesh with a particular woman.

I'm not convinced, because "for this reason shall a man". This obviously doesn't refer merely to Adam, if only because he had no parents to leave.

I think it makes perfect sense to see it as, as a minimum, providing a reason for generalised practice. It does not prescribe it as universal practice ("for this reason shall all men..."), but neither is it as singular a case as you seek to imply.
quote:
It is Adam's acceptance of Eve as companion that marks her out as the appropriate one flesh.
Because she is like him in a way all the other animals are not. But she is also different; she is female! That is the overriding distinction the text makes. If her sex is trivial, why not simply clone Adam?
quote:
The only normative idea the text seems to put forward is that a man must live with his parents until he's married, and then the couple set up at the wife's parents.
If you really want to be that literalistic, the wife's parents don't even get invited to the wedding, let alone provide accommodation, because in the text they don't exist at all, and indeed in the text there is no wedding, just a whole lot of cleaving.

All this verse says to me is that, um, foundationally, sex is linked with a change in one's place in the social system, leaving one subsystem and establishing another.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Originally posted by Eutychus:

quote:
And secondly, they are unequivocally used in the context of marriage. If male and female had nothing to do with becoming one flesh, why didn't Jesus simply quote the second verse and not the first?

Because people would inevitably say he didn't need to because it was assumed from silence.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
Eutychus, you wrote that 'Firstly, these two verses are quoted consecutively by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-5. So it would certainly seem that Jesus (or, if you prefer, whoever edited Matthew) saw them as contiguous in terms of ideas. '

It could also be that he's behaving like an ordinary rabbi and applying the fourth of Hillel's rule (binyan av min shney ketuvim, to build a parent from two) that is to say establishing a third (overarching) ruling from two other commandments (Dt 24 and Gn 1 which Jewish exegesis generally regards as binding and commanding procreation).

As for becoming one flesh (rather than being one flesh) having a completely different meaning in Gn than in the rest of Torah, I'm really not sure I'm clutching at straws as you said. Why do you think it implies sex in this case only? and not merely kinship?
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
And of course the text has sex between man and woman in mind, it's a story about the beginnings of humankind. It does not follow that all non-procreative sex is thereby disallowed, that's Roman madness.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

quote:
And secondly, they are unequivocally used in the context of marriage. If male and female had nothing to do with becoming one flesh, why didn't Jesus simply quote the second verse and not the first?

Because people would inevitably say he didn't need to because it was assumed from silence.
Wait, are you trying to say an argument from silence should trump what is actually there? [Paranoid]

It seems to me that you're making my point for me; if what you say is true, he spelled it out for the avoidance of all doubt.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
After all the context of his reply is a rabbinical dispute, in Matthew, so our Lord answers the rabbis in their own terms, and sides with Shammai's school, only allowing divorce for very serious offence, that is to say adultery, which incidentally could only be committed by women. The text is even more degrading to women than it is problematic for gay unions, but let it not deter us.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
It could also be that he's behaving like an ordinary rabbi and applying the fourth of Hillel's rule

Whatever he's doing, it seems to me that the Gospel, just like Paul in 1 Corinthians, understands "becoming one flesh" in Genesis to be referring to sex, not kinship.

quote:
As for becoming one flesh (rather than being one flesh) having a completely different meaning in Gn than in the rest of Torah, I'm really not sure I'm clutching at straws as you said. Why do you think it implies sex in this case only? and not merely kinship?
I can only try and rephrase what I posted earlier. In the Bibles I regularly use, there appear to be two distinct expressions in Gen 2:23 and Gen 2:24.

I can readily accept that the examples you cite might be the same as or similar to the first one, "flesh of my flesh" (Adam's exclamation on discovering Eve), but I'd be very surprised to learn that they were the same as or anything but vaguely similar to the "two shall become one flesh" of Gen 2:24 (especially given how Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 6:16 seem to understand the term).

I'm willing to be surprised, but I haven't been so far.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
After all the context of his reply is a rabbinical dispute, in Matthew, so our Lord answers the rabbis in their own terms, and sides with Shammai's school, only allowing divorce for very serious offence, that is to say adultery, which incidentally could only be committed by women. The text is even more degrading to women than it is problematic for gay unions, but let it not deter us.

Let it not indeed. The point at issue is whether "one flesh" here refers to sex, and if it does, whether it is safe to conclude that this is what Adam and Eve got up to "in the beginning".

Secondarily, the importance of this text to me is that Jesus points to "how things were in the beginning", notes things aren't like that any more, and acknowledges that there needs to be some sort of provision for this state of affairs.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
And of course the text has sex between man and woman in mind, it's a story about the beginnings of humankind. It does not follow that all non-procreative sex is thereby disallowed, that's Roman madness.

Sorry, missed this. I don't disagree with any of this. At all.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
And of course the text has sex between man and woman in mind, it's a story about the beginnings of humankind. It does not follow that all non-procreative sex is thereby disallowed, that's Roman madness.

Sorry, missed this. I don't disagree with any of this. At all.
Yes, you do! To summarize, I think: Jesus was being asked ‘whether it was lawful (Torah-compliant) to repudiate (not divorce, only men could issue a get, a repudiation) one’s wife for any reason (Hillel’s opinion). He disagreed and explained his rationale by deducing (binyan av min shney) a third commandment from two (in this case Dt 24 and Gn 1) that it is not lawful to repudiate one’s wife for trivia, since Gn 1 says that a wife shall cleave, that kinship, once established, cannot be revoked. Kinship was a matter of property, a woman belonged to her husband. She could terminate this by giving herself over illicitly to another husband, but no other deed than adultery could do this. Husbands, of course, could shag around to their heart’s content (as long as not with other men’s property) without damaging this bond, or take as many concubines or wives as they wished. That was Torah. It had little to do with divorce as we now understand it or with the male/female dyad being normative, although male on male sexual relationships were frowned upon for other reasons (cf. Milgrom for the best rationale IMO). It’s also not very useful in settling matters in the current unpleasantness.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
And of course the text has sex between man and woman in mind, it's a story about the beginnings of humankind. It does not follow that all non-procreative sex is thereby disallowed, that's Roman madness.

Sorry, missed this. I don't disagree with any of this. At all.
And the prohibition of repudiation held fast whether children were there or not, what mattered was 'cleaving', property, ownership, new kinship being established. Once acquired, a woman could not simply be returned or discarded, with or without kids; whether one had had sex with her or not.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
I'm going to challenge my quoting and coding ability here in dazzling ways...

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I made my point badly, but you haven't convinced me that it's unreasonable to see the two being linked from the text.

I don't actually think it's unreasonable. I think that it's not inevitable, though, which I couple with the practical reality of what life is actually like for homosexual people and the psychological misery inflicted upon homosexual Christians over something that they have no control over, and resist inferences that aren't inevitable.

quote:
Firstly, these two verses are quoted consecutively by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-5. So it would certainly seem that Jesus (or, if you prefer, whoever edited Matthew) saw them as contiguous in terms of ideas.
Well, yes. However, if I spent some time looking, I could provide you with innumerable examples of people making reference to something at the core of their subject without necessarily intending to exclude everything else. That the most common kind of marriage will always be heterosexual marriage is just reality. There's a Latin expression used in law that means: "the express mention of one thing is the exclusion of the other", and it's an idea that must be used extremely carefully. It's that idea that you're using in your reasoning - that, within the topic of marriage which Jesus was undoubtedly referencing, the express mention of heterosexual marriage excludes homosexual marriage.

quote:
When I use the word "foundational", what I have in my mind is along the lines of Jesus' words, also in Matthew 19, verse 8, about "how things were in the beginning".
Okay, fine, but that still doesn't mean that homosexuality represents a change from how there was male and female in the beginning. Your notion of "foundational" still doesn't actually get you anywhere without claiming that the union of male and female is "foundational" as well.

Which then raises serious questions about people who haven't formed a union with anyone, of either gender. Do you think being single is a consequence of the Fall? How about celibacy?

quote:
Let me briefly return to the case of intersex people.

...

Was that how it was in the beginning? no.

There is a glaring problem with any kind of statement about "how it was in the beginning" and trying to apply it as general statement about "how things are meant to be". In the beginning, the population of the world was 2.

You've basically got a severe problem with sample size.

If you knew the colour of Adam and Eve's skin, or their height, or their weight, you could make all sorts of statements about "how it was in the beginning" but it wouldn't follow that you could then draw inferences that any variation that occurred after the Fall was because of the Fall.

It's a bit like looking at the sunny weather at your holiday destination for the first few days, inferring from that that it's always sunny there, and concluding therefore that the storm that happened at the end of your second week was caused by climate change.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
It is Adam's acceptance of Eve as companion that marks her out as the appropriate one flesh.

Because she is like him in a way all the other animals are not. But she is also different; she is female! That is the overriding distinction the text makes. If her sex is trivial, why not simply clone Adam?
This does rather involve different people deciding to emphasise different things in the text, and runs into more Latin expressions used in law about how to interpret things. Frankly I don't find it especially convincing to say how important it is that she's female. What actually happens is that a match can't be found, and then a match is found, and then Adam names his match "woman".

You're placing great importance on the fact that she's not a clone, to which my response is: fine, so people shouldn't pair up with someone who is their clone. But do you really think that two partners of the same sex are "clones" of each other, just because they have the same genitals? Are all men identical, and all women identical?

I don't think the fact that Eve has breasts and a vagina is an "overriding distinction" in the text. In my view her similarities are presented as more significant than her differences. I certainly don't think being different is trumpeted as being more important than finding your match. If you emphasise the difference, it's rather hard to simultaneously say that becoming "one flesh" is crucial.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
[x-post]

quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
And of course the text has sex between man and woman in mind, it's a story about the beginnings of humankind. It does not follow that all non-procreative sex is thereby disallowed, that's Roman madness.

Sorry, missed this. I don't disagree with any of this. At all.
Yes, you do!
Oh, no I don't! [Razz]

To clarify, I don't subscribe to the view that all sex should be procreative, or that Genesis is about procreative sex only (if it were, I would expect Genesis 2:24a to say "...become one flesh, and have lots of offspring").

I note what you're saying about Jesus' rationale for quoting these verses here - and in particular why it matters when he was having to factor in issues of kinship and property - but I do think the discussions about divorce have nothing to say as to whether "the two becoming one flesh" refers to sex between male and female, which is the point I've been trying to defend here.
quote:
It’s also not very useful in settling matters in the current unpleasantness.
As stated several times, I coincidentally find this passage useful in the context of this discussion in that it combines a reference to how things were in the beginning, an acknowledgement that they aren't like that now, and an acknowledgement that provision must be made for the current state of affairs.

I appreciate that is not a welcome position for everyone, I'm just trying to explain my reasoning as honestly as I can.

[ 26. February 2016, 07:07: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
It could also be that he's behaving like an ordinary rabbi and applying the fourth of Hillel's rule

Whatever he's doing, it seems to me that the Gospel, just like Paul in 1 Corinthians, understands "becoming one flesh" in Genesis to be referring to sex, not kinship.

quote:
As for becoming one flesh (rather than being one flesh) having a completely different meaning in Gn than in the rest of Torah, I'm really not sure I'm clutching at straws as you said. Why do you think it implies sex in this case only? and not merely kinship?
I can only try and rephrase what I posted earlier. In the Bibles I regularly use, there appear to be two distinct expressions in Gen 2:23 and Gen 2:24.

I can readily accept that the examples you cite might be the same as or similar to the first one, "flesh of my flesh" (Adam's exclamation on discovering Eve), but I'd be very surprised to learn that they were the same as or anything but vaguely similar to the "two shall become one flesh" of Gen 2:24 (especially given how Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 6:16 seem to understand the term).

I'm willing to be surprised, but I haven't been so far.

Adam's exclamation is due to the fact that she is quite literally flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone because she was fashion out of his rib!

She did not 'become' one flesh with him, she already was. She was his kin in a way the animals were not... it is further down the line that a man 'becomes' one flesh with a woman.

[ 26. February 2016, 07:08: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Adam's exclamation is due to the fact that she is quite literally flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone because she was fashion out of his rib!

Very probably. But unless you can show me otherwise, this (and not "become one flesh") is to my mind the expression that is echoed in all the passages you cited earlier.

quote:
it is further down the line that a man 'becomes' one flesh with a woman.
I concede that it doesn't explicitly say "Adam became one flesh with Eve" (and the first we know that for sure is, I suppose, when they do get around to procreating), but it does say, immediately after Eve emerges on the scene, that man and woman become one flesh, so I think the implication is there all the same*.

You have yet to prove that "flesh of my flesh" is the same as "becoming one flesh", and furthermore, point me to anywhere in Scripture where "man and man" or "woman and woman" "become one flesh".

Again, for the avoidance of doubt, I'm not casting stones on any such union here and now, but sticking to my guns that what there was in the beginning, as far as "becoming one flesh" goes, was "man" and "woman".

Not because I'm trying to impose that text as normative, but because that is what I find that text to be telling me and for now, any development in my thinking on this issue is going to have to take that understanding into account.

==

*Unless of course Adam and Eve followed the recommendations of some hideous Trobisch book which, as I recall, suggested couples on their wedding night discovering each other naked for the first time should simply lie side by side and chat...
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
I thought, a little while after finishing my previous rather lengthy post, of an illustration of the risks of "the express mention of one thing is the exclusion of the other".

It's this little story of a girl who reasons that, because she's only ever heard of male pilots, female pilots don't exist.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
I'm going to challenge my quoting and coding ability here in dazzling ways...

Sincere thanks for the effort you've clearly put into the post. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do it justice as my work is falling behind here once again, but to pick up on a few things...

quote:
I think that it's not inevitable, though, which I couple with the practical reality of what life is actually like for homosexual people and the psychological misery inflicted upon homosexual Christians over something that they have no control over, and resist inferences that aren't inevitable.
I think I get this. It's why I've come to think that as a minimum, that needs to be accommodated. "Accommodated" sounds terribly miserly in the face of what you're talking about (and might potentially sound patronising too, which I really don't want it to, and am casting around for a better word) but clearly a lot of the Church isn't even managing to get that far, so maybe it's a start?

quote:
There's a Latin expression used in law that means: "the express mention of one thing is the exclusion of the other", and it's an idea that must be used extremely carefully. It's that idea that you're using in your reasoning - that, within the topic of marriage which Jesus was undoubtedly referencing, the express mention of heterosexual marriage excludes homosexual marriage.
Thanks for the analysis of my thinking, which I will need to think about. Perhaps you're right, perhaps that is my reasoning... I would find it even more in line with my reasoning if I could add "...in the beginning" at the end of it.

quote:
Your notion of "foundational" still doesn't actually get you anywhere without claiming that the union of male and female is "foundational" as well.
Okay, good point. I think "male and female" is foundational in the sense that "that is how it was in the beginning"; God made two sexes. [deleted huge tangent on intersex people here] That seems to imply, but does not require, heterosexual sex.

quote:
Which then raises serious questions about people who haven't formed a union with anyone, of either gender. Do you think being single is a consequence of the Fall? How about celibacy?
Great question; I honestly don't know. It seems to me that Jesus makes provision for them, too, though.
quote:
There is a glaring problem with any kind of statement about "how it was in the beginning" and trying to apply it as general statement about "how things are meant to be". In the beginning, the population of the world was 2.
I'm not sure I believe in a literal Adam and Eve; I incline more to a "federal head" view.

[my coding is not as good as your coding]

[ 26. February 2016, 07:54: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
Your coding is fine, and I can live with "accommodated".
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
[Cool]
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
it seems more likely to me that the link is between two things which the writer and his first readers would have agreed were wrong.

Whereas I would argue the link is things that the writer knew his first readers would agree were wrong.

Which is not the same thing. And I think the difference is crucial because of how Romans 2 starts. It talks about "you" who have just indulged in judging others. Not "we".

The point, as I've long understood it, is to have readers feeling self-satisfied right before springing on them.

I agree that the two things are not the same, and that what you propose is a plausible reading: of all the more-or-less revisionist readings, the one that says that Paul is not passing judgment on homosexuality at all, but solely playing on anti-pagan stereotypes before turning the tables on the equally-fallible Jews is the one that seems most likely to me, as being true to the argument being advanced. But I'm not convinced that there's no judgment on homosexuality* intended - the irony and the impact would still work if there was a common understanding that homosexual sex was obviously wrong.

My real point, though, is that I wouldn't entertain any revisionist reading UNLESS I was believed that the letter was both authoritative and (on its surface reading) mistaken. I am consciously acknowledging that it is my unwillingness to accept what (in my best judgment) I would take the letter to mean using my ordinary faculties for comprehension that makes me wish that you are right that it doesn't really mean that.

As an example - Steve L's post that led to the Hell call looks pretty strongly anti-gay. Some of us are trying to read the post as fairly as we can, but no one is trying to interpret it as if Steve L is actually neutral or affirming on the gay issue. Why? Because the surface reading fits all the known facts, and we are all free to disagree with it. Thinking that a poster on the Ship believes gay relationships to be unethical for Christians, and that they are mistaken to think so, is an easy conclusion to reach. If I believed Steve L to be a prophet of God, whose words were inspired for my guidance, it would be different - I would consider all sorts of interpretations that I wouldn't otherwise give a second thought to, because the conclusion that he's anti-gay, and right, and authoritative, would be very hard to accept.

I think my position differs from yours in that you are persuaded that the Bible (on its plain reading) doesn't actually condemn homosexual relationships equivalent to the permitted sort of heterosexual ones - please correct me if I'm wrong. I entirely agree with you that that is the morally right conclusion, but less certain that the reading of the text to get there is right.

I'm therefore sort of wavering between saying "The Bible is just wrong on that point, and it's OK, even required, for Christians to say so, because we are more certain that God is good than that the text is perfect", and "We are under scriptural authority, but that means we have to read the Bible according to the best judgment of our conscience and believe the morally right interpretation, even if less obviously plausible, is the true meaning of the text".


(*I am convinced that there's nothing actually wrong with homosexuality, to be clear. I just wouldn't wager on Paul agreeing with that).
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I think "male and female" is foundational in the sense that "that is how it was in the beginning"; God made two sexes. [deleted huge tangent on intersex people here] That seems to imply, but does not require, heterosexual sex.

Well, it at the very least makes possible heterosexual sex. In the beginning of course, God only made one sex, because he made Adam first and only made Eve later. Therefore it follows that the foundational sexual act is masturbation.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Well, it at the very least makes possible heterosexual sex. In the beginning of course, God only made one sex, because he made Adam first and only made Eve later. Therefore it follows that the foundational sexual act is masturbation.

Not necessarily, there presumably was no need to have genitals if there was nobody else around.

I think we may be reading rather a lot into this story FWIW.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Well, it at the very least makes possible heterosexual sex. In the beginning of course, God only made one sex, because he made Adam first and only made Eve later. Therefore it follows that the foundational sexual act is masturbation.

Not necessarily, there presumably was no need to have genitals if there was nobody else around.
There is a group of Orthodox nutters -- sorry, amateur theologians -- who believed Adam and Eve never had sex until after the Fall. Your claim is even more radical. You seem to be implying that after the creation of Eve, God changed the human genome to include genitals. Man was sexless, and when God created his helpmeet, He decided (for whatever reason) to make the species capable of reproduction by making them sexual in the same way that every other vertebrate was sexual already, albeit as something of an afterthought.

Which is okay if one is a young-earth Creationist. But if one has any time for evolution at all, it is a real stretch.

quote:
I think we may be reading rather a lot into this story FWIW.
With this I cannot disagree at all.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:


Which is okay if one is a young-earth Creationist. But if one has any time for evolution at all, it is a real stretch.

I have a lot of time for evolution, I have very limited time for those who seem intent on trying to stretch a myth to fit their own preconceptions. It's a story, dammit. It doesn't have to explain everything nor do we have to cross-examine it to find answers to difficult questions. That's not what it is there for.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

quote:
And secondly, they are unequivocally used in the context of marriage. If male and female had nothing to do with becoming one flesh, why didn't Jesus simply quote the second verse and not the first?

Because people would inevitably say he didn't need to because it was assumed from silence.
Wait, are you trying to say an argument from silence should trump what is actually there? [Paranoid]

It seems to me that you're making my point for me; if what you say is true, he spelled it out for the avoidance of all doubt.

My point is that the reader will bend to fit whatever is or is not there.

quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

I think we may be reading rather a lot into this story FWIW.

I blame the author. Skips between allegory, history, grocery lists, action stories and morality plays. Changes direction and tone with no proper transition, no consistant voice. It's crap for continuity. As a collection of related works, it struggles, as a cohesive structure it utterly fails. Should have added extensive footnotes at the very least and the publisher should have hired a competent editor.
No modern critic would deign to print a review, much less praise it. It's almost as if it were cobbled together by loads of different authors with different understandings and agendas rather than as the single, coherent narrative that many seen to ascribe.

It does have some lovely bits which could be extracted, though.
 
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
 
Well, one thing's for sure, neither Adam or Eve would have had a belly-button ... unless God had put one there to make them look like regular folks ...

[Biased] [Big Grin]
 
Posted by St Deird (# 7631) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
If I wasn't bothered about having to obey Paul's teachings, I'd have no serious doubt that he was anti-gay. And I'd be glad that human understanding of morality had advanced since his day to the point where I could be sure that he was mistaken.

Alternative explanations commend themselves to me only as a way out of the moral quandary of there otherwise being a clear ethical failure in the plain text of what I believe is sacred scripture. If the "temple prostitution" angle is all Paul meant to talk about, then he can still be right - so it's very tempting to believe that that is all he was talking about. And it is plausible enough to be a possible reading. But I also know that I wouldn't read the text that way if I didn't feel, in some way, that it was inspired by God.

My argument is that it is right to read less likely meanings into scripture, if the most likely reading would be immoral - whereas with any other historic document, we'd simply take the most likely reading, and decide that the author was wrong.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
My thought would be to evaluate against his overall message. And it is difficult, for me, to see any way Jesus would condemn SSM.

Well, that's where we get into the arguments about what Paul meant.

As for Jesus, he might not condemn it, but he might not champion it either. We just don't immediately know either way.

Why does it matter what Paul thought, exactly?

I mean...

If I am having a discussion about ethics, and I say "Kidnapping small children, like fairies do, is wrong." - then surely my error in thinking that fairies exist and kidnap people doesn't negate my ethical point that we should kidnap people. Likewise, if I say "We should treat changelings well and honourably - even those that the fairies have not given the power of speech." then my ethical point about treating severely disabled people well shouldn't be lost under my weird beliefs that they're changelings left by the fairies.

I do not see why we should believe Paul to be correct in every point of theology. And, especially in Romans, I don't think he's going "Hey, here's a list of things that are wrong." His belief that homosexuality is sinful is tangential to his main point - and, I think, somewhat irrelevant to what we're supposed to be hearing from this passage of inspired scripture.

If inspired scripture said "Every day, as the sun's rotation around the earth causes the light to dim, we should pray." then we'd be pretty dumb to miss the point about daily prayer, and get caught up in the writer's incorrect understanding of astronomy - that's all I'm saying.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by St Deird:

I mean...

If I am having a discussion about ethics, and I say "Kidnapping small children, like fairies do, is wrong." - then surely my error in thinking that fairies exist and kidnap people doesn't negate my ethical point that we should kidnap people. Likewise, if I say "We should treat changelings well and honourably - even those that the fairies have not given the power of speech." then my ethical point about treating severely disabled people well shouldn't be lost under my weird beliefs that they're changelings left by the fairies.

I do not see why we should believe Paul to be correct in every point of theology. And, especially in Romans, I don't think he's going "Hey, here's a list of things that are wrong." His belief that homosexuality is sinful is tangential to his main point - and, I think, somewhat irrelevant to what we're supposed to be hearing from this passage of inspired scripture.

If inspired scripture said "Every day, as the sun's rotation around the earth causes the light to dim, we should pray." then we'd be pretty dumb to miss the point about daily prayer, and get caught up in the writer's incorrect understanding of astronomy - that's all I'm saying. [/QB]

I'm with you, I think. To believe a commandment or prohibition inspired when we have no natural or rational means of determining whether it's good (indeed when there's evidence that it causes harm) is a wicked, wicked thing to do. It's what animates people who detonate shrapnel bombs and kill little children because 'God says.' The pronouncements on gay stuff are but a less violent example of the same logic at work.
 
Posted by leo (# 1458) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by St Deird:
especially in Romans, I don't think he's going "Hey, here's a list of things that are wrong." His belief that homosexuality is sinful is tangential to his main point - and, I think, somewhat irrelevant to what we're supposed to be hearing from this passage of inspired scripture.

Except that he condemns homosexuality more directly in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy - though the Greek is arguably obscure as to what it is that he is condemning.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
You seem to be implying that after the creation of Eve, God changed the human genome to include genitals. Man was sexless, and when God created his helpmeet, He decided (for whatever reason) to make the species capable of reproduction by making them sexual in the same way that every other vertebrate was sexual already, albeit as something of an afterthought.

I believe there was a line of thought, possibly Kabbalistic, that had it that Adam was originally a hermaphrodite (which is the perfect state).
 
Posted by Brenda Clough (# 18061) on :
 
It goes back to the Greeks. Aristotle? When humans were created they were four-legged, four-armed, and two-headed. Some were male/male, some male/female, and some female/female. Zeus divided them down the middle and ran a thread around the loose edge, drawing it tight and tying a knot -- the belly button. We now spend all our time running around trying to find our matching half.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
It goes back to the Greeks. Aristotle? When humans were created they were four-legged, four-armed, and two-headed. Some were male/male, some male/female, and some female/female. Zeus divided them down the middle and ran a thread around the loose edge, drawing it tight and tying a knot -- the belly button. We now spend all our time running around trying to find our matching half.

And here we see the dangers of overindulgence in Ouzo.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Well, it suggests that a particular man's idea was to become one flesh with a particular woman.

I'm not convinced, because "for this reason shall a man". This obviously doesn't refer merely to Adam, if only because he had no parents to leave.
For that reason it obviously doesn't refer at all to Adam. The logic is that here is something (A) Adam did, because Adam did that, other men shall do something (B). A and B are obviously not exactly the same (B explicitly mentions father and mother.) How many features A and B share in common and which features they are and why A is a justification for B are left by the text for the reader to spell out.

quote:
quote:
It is Adam's acceptance of Eve as companion that marks her out as the appropriate one flesh.
Because she is like him in a way all the other animals are not. But she is also different; she is female! That is the overriding distinction the text makes. If her sex is trivial, why not simply clone Adam?
If there is an overriding distinction that the text makes, it is between humans and animals.
As this is a story about the first two human beings, it has to be about a man and a woman because they have to have children together. However, the text doesn't mention that as a consideration. No normative weight is placed on the fact that Adam and Eve can reproduce together.

quote:
quote:
The only normative idea the text seems to put forward is that a man must live with his parents until he's married, and then the couple set up at the wife's parents.
If you really want to be that literalistic, the wife's parents don't even get invited to the wedding, let alone provide accommodation, because in the text they don't exist at all, and indeed in the text there is no wedding, just a whole lot of cleaving.
I don't think you can say we must be just this literalistic and no more literalistic.

quote:
All this verse says to me is that, um, foundationally, sex is linked with a change in one's place in the social system, leaving one subsystem and establishing another.
I'll just note that you maintain that in all of the verses leading up to this verse, the difference in sex is the overriding distinction the text makes - and now, suddenly when the text says that a man must leave his father and motehr, the overriding distinction is of no importance whatsoever and when the text says 'a man leaves and cleaves to his wife' it applies without distinction to a man and wife and to a woman and husband. I think the interpretation inconsistently applies layers of literalism.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
It goes back to the Greeks. Aristotle?

Plato says that Aristophanes told that story at a dinner party. It's in The Symposium.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
Possibly just me, but my impression of the vast majority of the OT is that if Adam had been offered a male buddy, he'd have taken that over Eve.

It is obviously true that for the vast majority of human existence, male and females were needed for reproduction. But equally clearly close male relationships were needed and were reflected in the OT as in many ancient texts.

If we really want to be literal about the Genesis story, then at some point Adam or his sons would have had to reproduce with Eve or their (unnamed) daughters. I don't think many would see this as a healthy form of behaviour to model!
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
It is not coincidental that Christianity is less science friendly than Buddhism.

Without wanting to denigrate the achievements of Indian and Chinese mathematics, I point out that the experimental empirical scientific revolution took place in Latin Christendom.
I was speaking of Modernity, but ...
quote:
Thus, clear unbroken lines of influence lead from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers, to medieval Muslim philosophers and scientists, to the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, to the secular sciences of the modern day.

As I said, the Chinese and Indians made mathematical and technical advances. As indeed did the Christian West in the late Middle Ages. Nevertheless, the reason we consider those technical advances particularly worthy of note is that between 1500 and 1700 AD the Christian West innovated a new type of activity. It had antecedents in the Islamic World: Ibn Al-Haytham's work on optics is I think the earliest experimental work that has established conclusions that are still held valid, but for some reason it didn't become a systematic cultural thing in the way it did in Europe.

quote:
I was reading an article speaking of scientific literacy in Christian countries like the US vs Buddhist countries. I will look try to find the article.
I suspect that the US is for reasons of nineteenth and twentieth century political history an outlier.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
Re Plato / Aristophanes:

As I recall, there were three races of men, although all of them were eight-limbed spheres. The offspring of the sun had only male parts, the offspring of the moon had only female parts, and the offspring of the earth had both.

After they were split in half, each of the male halves of the earth-children runs round looking for his female other half - but each half of the sun-children is looking for a male other half, mutatis mutandis for the female moon-children.

Aristophanes is a comic poet who has, as mousethief suggests, imbibed copious alcohol at this point in the dinner party. It isn't to be taken seriously - however the story does suggest a distinction being made between gay men, lesbians and heterosexuals, which gives the lie to the claim that the Ancient Greeks had no concept of orientation.

[ 29. February 2016, 14:09: Message edited by: Ricardus ]
 
Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Possibly just me, but my impression of the vast majority of the OT is that if Adam had been offered a male buddy, he'd have taken that over Eve.

It is obviously true that for the vast majority of human existence, male and females were needed for reproduction. But equally clearly close male relationships were needed and were reflected in the OT as in many ancient texts.

If we really want to be literal about the Genesis story, then at some point Adam or his sons would have had to reproduce with Eve or their (unnamed) daughters. I don't think many would see this as a healthy form of behaviour to model!

You'd be surprised. The question was asked on a more fundy forum (it's a regular, "who was Cain's wife?") and got told that for my answer, which was that the stories weren't literal, could only go in "unconventional theology", and the only acceptable mainstream Christian answer was "his sister".
 
Posted by Penny S (# 14768) on :
 
And that was OK because 1) so close to the Creation, there were no faulty genes to damage the offspring of incestuous relationships - and that goes for Seth as well, and the unnamed other offspring of Adam and Eve; and 2) God hadn't forbidden incest yet.

So I've read.

Don't these people realise the tortuous world they are creating?

No, of course they don't, they just paint themselves further and further into the corner of one of those distorted rooms that viewed from a particular point outside makes them look smaller and smaller like something out of Alice. They don't realise what they look like from outside, and how unlikely they are to convince anyone of their rightness.
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
1) as I've pointed out a few times on the Ship in various contexts, the original 'Fundamentals' were not as 'dumb wooden literal' as subsequent 'fundamentalists' have insisted on being - indeed many of those later 'fundies' would consider the 'Creation' article to be appallingly 'liberal'....

2) Even the strongest 'fundies' must at some point recognise 'non-literal' elements - I don't know anybody who thinks that "Jesus is the Lamb of God" should be interpreted that he was a four-legged infant sheep!

3) Even before Darwin there was recognition that the Genesis stories were not necessarily dumb wooden literal - apparently the early Anglican Colet suggested they were 'after the manner of a popular poet' or words to that effect. Modern thinking about 'primitive people' in general tends to the view that they would actually know that they were dealing with 'stories' rather than 'history as we understand it'. They wouldn't be bothered by questions like "Who did Cain marry?" or how, after murdering his brother, he managed to get the people together to found even the small settlement that would be called a city in those days.

In effect, this is an issue of 'genre' and of what genre the early Genesis stories are. I'd incline to the view that an appropriate, though not exact, parallel would be something like Orwell's "Animal Farm"; which is far from an exact or detailed account of the history of the Russian Revolution, but by telling the basic story in a different genre, points up and emphasises the key ideas; and also, by such devices as calling one of the pigs 'Napoleon', points to wider applicability.

Having said that, telling the story in such a genre means that while the historic details are simplified or otherwise adapted, the ideas/principles/morals of the story are emphasised and to be taken very seriously - in the current case, the teaching on God 'making them male and female' and the implications of that on the meaning of marriage and the proper use of sexuality....
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
[Killing me] [Roll Eyes] [Killing me]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Having said that, telling the story in such a genre means that while the historic details are simplified or otherwise adapted, the ideas/principles/morals of the story are emphasised and to be taken very seriously - in the current case, the teaching on God 'making them male and female' and the implications of that on the meaning of marriage and the proper use of sexuality....

That is just begging the question. One can agree that the ideas/principles/morals are important without immediately declaring what the principles are, as you have just done.

What if someone draws different principles from the passage, eh? Is that not precisely what many posters have been doing on this thread? Have I not been specifically challenging the notion that "male and female" is actually what the passage is most interested in?

Have I not, for example, specifically pointed out that "male and female" appears in Chapter 1 and not in Chapter 2 in the bit about marriage?

However much you just want to sweep to the conclusion, you don't have that right.

[ 01. March 2016, 20:47: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
I mean, what's the name of the method of Biblical interpretation that allows you to take "male and female he created them" (a fact that no-one is denying, by the way, we all agree that both male humans and female humans exist) and combine it with something else a whole chapter away?

Is there another name for this approach to interpretation besides "selective reading" or "picking and choosing"?

I'm not saying everyone has to agree with my interpretation, but when people blithely skate over the fact that they're combining separate passages and act as if they're directly quoting the Bible, it's incredibly frustrating.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
That is just begging the question. One can agree that the ideas/principles/morals are important without immediately declaring what the principles are, as you have just done.

What orfeo says.
For example, the passage about male and female could be directed against ideas that the creation of women was in some sense a fall or part of the fall, as with the myth of Pandora or some gnostic ideas.
The idea that it's laying down the only true way to lay is not to be found in the text.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I'm away at a conference right now, which is why I haven't been all over this thread, and I'm not sure I can do the intervening contrubutions (well some of them) the justice they deserve with my current mental availability, but let me see if I can address some things.

quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
For that reason it obviously doesn't refer at all to Adam.

I don't follow this, particularly your words "at all".

The words "for this reason" mean that what follows is explained by what immediately goes before. The issue is about the ways in which what follows is justified by what goes before, and the ways in which it is not (or need not be).

Am I misrepresenting you (and/or orfeo) if I say your position is that what goes before is about Adam choosing a human mate (who just happens to be female) in preference to the animals (and, incidentally, not choosing a female in preference to a male), and what goes after explains that this is why (some) humans go on to find a mate (who, in the example cited, just happens to be of the opposite sex)?
quote:
[you say] suddenly when the text says that a man must leave his father and motehr, the overriding distinction is of no importance whatsoever and when the text says 'a man leaves and cleaves to his wife' it applies without distinction to a man and wife and to a woman and husband. I think the interpretation inconsistently applies layers of literalism.
I'm trying to understand your criticism here. Are you saying I've explained away one part of the text (the specific detail of the man leaving his parents, not the woman) on cultural grounds (doubtless to do with the status of women at the time) and tried to uphold the other (the fact that the text mentions a man and his wife) as normative?

[ 01. March 2016, 21:28: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by St Deird:
Why does it matter what Paul thought, exactly?

I think it matters - or might matter - because if I regard the Bible as being authoritative, I want to know what it means, and in particular, what it means as a source of authority. If the Bible is to be regard as God-inspired human words, does the authority reside in the inspiration, in the words, or both? Knowing what the human thoughts were behind the human words does not seem to me to be irrelevant to what the text means.

Continuing the (to me, helpful) 'scripture reinterpreting scripture' theme, there's at least one example where the human thoughts actually run counter to their inspired meaning. John regards Caiaphas's cynical reasoning that 'it is expedient that one man should die for the people' (John 11:50) to be an inspired utterance - but in a sense clearly contrary to Caiaphas's actual opinions.

However I'm not putting that forward as a general rule for interpreting scripture. We don't usually regard it as a complete waste of time to ask about the cultural context and attitudes of the human authors of scripture, when assessing what they mean when writing about God. I also don't think that we can assume that the whole of Paul's unexpressed world-view is somehow implicitly endorsed because his written words were inspired. Paul the man doubtless believed many things which were wrong (as do we all) - if it could be proved that he would have condemned all same-sex relationships whatever, if the question had been put to him directly, that would not, in my view, mean that this opinion should be imported into what we regard as the inspired meaning, but it would inform what I think Romans 1 means - what Paul would have expected his readers to take from the text. I don't think that's enough to definitively determine the meaning, but it's not irrelevant either. I'd like to know it.

One of the things that I use, and think that I ought to use, when working out what the inspired (and therefore, authoritative) meaning of the text is, is what I judge to be true and good independent of the text. I know, as surely as I know that the Earth goes around the Sun, that most gay relationships look a lot more like most straight relationships than they look like the sort of sinful debauchery that an offended deity might inflict on man as a punishment. Therefore I find it hard to read Romans 1 as meaning (as inspired meaning) 'all gay relationships'. If I knew that Paul never intended that to be the human meaning of his words, either, my problem would vanish.

However if he did mean (because he knew less than we do) that all gay relationships are wrong and damaging, conscience compels me to reject that teaching, and say that this cannot be the proper interpretation of the text as scripture even if it would be the right interpretation of it as a purely human writing.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Am I misrepresenting you (and/or orfeo) if I say your position is that what goes before is about Adam choosing a human mate (who just happens to be female) in preference to the animals (and, incidentally, not choosing a female in preference to a male), and what goes after explains that this is why (some) humans go on to find a mate (who, in the example cited, just happens to be of the opposite sex)?

I've argued before that it is an important principle that even though the woman is (in the context of the story) quite literally made for the man, God nevertheless gives him the autonomy to recognise that fact and make the choice for himself. God didn't instruct him in who he should love. God allows him to choose (as far as any lover is free to choose) and respects his choice.

I'd argue that Genesis endorses that sense of recognition that happens when two people fall in love. Since this demonstrably occurs between two men, or two women, as well as between man and woman, I don't see an implicit condemnation of same-sex love in Genesis.
 
Posted by Steve Langton (# 17601) on :
 
by Orfeo;
quote:
I mean, what's the name of the method of Biblical interpretation that allows you to take "male and female he created them" (a fact that no-one is denying, by the way, we all agree that both male humans and female humans exist) and combine it with something else a whole chapter away?
In this case, the combination was not done by Eutychus, me, or other later Christians but by Jesus himself (in Mark 10;6-7 and its Matthaean parallel). As a Christian I tend to assume he, as God incarnate, knew what he was doing with, in effect, his own words....

Non-Christians could disagree about Jesus doing that; and in that case they are free to disregard Jesus and his interpretation. I'm not forcing them to believe in Jesus....
 
Posted by St Deird (# 7631) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
by Orfeo;
quote:
I mean, what's the name of the method of Biblical interpretation that allows you to take "male and female he created them" (a fact that no-one is denying, by the way, we all agree that both male humans and female humans exist) and combine it with something else a whole chapter away?
In this case, the combination was not done by Eutychus, me, or other later Christians but by Jesus himself (in Mark 10;6-7 and its Matthaean parallel). As a Christian I tend to assume he, as God incarnate, knew what he was doing with, in effect, his own words....

Non-Christians could disagree about Jesus doing that; and in that case they are free to disregard Jesus and his interpretation. I'm not forcing them to believe in Jesus....

Christians could also disagree with you.

I find it highly arrogant for you to say "Because I am a Christian, I think xyz. Non-Christians, of course, might disagree." - thereby implying that disagreement and not-being-a-Christian are one and the same thing.

(I do, in fact, disagree with your main assumption here. I believe Jesus to be without sin - but it does not necessarily follow that he was without error. He became "fully man" - and one of the ways that humans are constrained is that we are people within time, and therefore we learn, we make mistakes (and can change to be better), and do not know all things (like the exact sequence of future events). I'm not sure how much Jesus would have made mistakes, but I see no contradiction between him potentially making mistakes and him being God Incarnate. It's part of the "incarnate" bit.)
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
Thank you, St Deird for pointing out the thoroughly nasty and unnecessary implication in Steve Langton's response.

To Steve: I only give a damn about what Genesis means because of Christianity. Only a Christian or Jew would bother caring about the text of Genesis in the first place.

There is yet another assumption built in when you report what Jesus is recorded to have said and then conclude that you understand what he meant by it. Given that he was talking about the grounds of divorce, "who may marry" was not actually the topic at hand. The topic was "when may married people divorce".

It is always risky to treat a statement on one topic as firm proof on another topic.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
For that reason it obviously doesn't refer at all to Adam.

I don't follow this, particularly your words "at all".

The words "for this reason" mean that what follows is explained by what immediately goes before. The issue is about the ways in which what follows is justified by what goes before, and the ways in which it is not (or need not be).

As I tried to say, the text has two events:
one of which (a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife) is not about Adam; one, the story of Adam naming the animals, not finding a suitable companion among them, finding Eve, and declaring her bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, etc, is about Adam;
and asserts that there is a relationship between them.
The nature of the relationship asserted is what is in question. I certainly don't think the emphasis within the text is at all upon the difference in sex.
I suppose if I had to assert one moral from the text it would be based around Adam's recognition that Eve is his partner, as opposed to any instruction from God on that point. But I'm generally unhappy with trying to extract morals from texts that are more complex than a single moral.

quote:
quote:
[you say] suddenly when the text says that a man must leave his father and motehr, the overriding distinction is of no importance whatsoever and when the text says 'a man leaves and cleaves to his wife' it applies without distinction to a man and wife and to a woman and husband. I think the interpretation inconsistently applies layers of literalism.
I'm trying to understand your criticism here. Are you saying I've explained away one part of the text (the specific detail of the man leaving his parents, not the woman) on cultural grounds (doubtless to do with the status of women at the time) and tried to uphold the other (the fact that the text mentions a man and his wife) as normative?
Yes, largely.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
It seems to me that almost everything about the phrase "man will leave his father and be united with his wife" is thoroughly disproved by reality.

In many (perhaps most?) cultures, the Western idea of a nuclear family doesn't happen. The wife leaves her family and becomes united with her husband's family - or sometimes the reverse.

Or looking at the biblical record - how many biblical men spent much time with their wives? Most of the heroes, judges and kings were fighting battles. Most of the prophets were wandering in the desert, messing about making models out of their own shite, etc and so on.

How many were content with living a quiet life with their wives and children, forsaking all other women and refusing to build any other kind of relationship that could threaten the created order? How many times are we told more about the men and their buddies rather than their wives? We know Elijah and Elisha - do we even know their wives names?

Perhaps this phrase in Genesis is some kind of Platonic ideal that exists perfectly somewhere in the stratosphere. Maybe up there it is written in some kind of perfect record of the way things should be - along with the diets we're supposed to be eating, the clothing we should we wearing, the length of our hair and the colour of the pomegranates we should dangle on the edge of our cloaks when entering the temple.

But in the real world, life is messy. Even if I believed SSM was not the ideal, there is plenty of evidence that biblical characters themselves did not live this ideal - so there is plenty of reason to give us license not to either. I'm not held by a single line from a work of poetry from thousands of years ago.

Men and women in long stable relationships are a very beautiful thing. But they can also be an awful thing. There is no magic formula here that means people of different genders are kind to each other (and "blessed") whereas couples of the same gender are not.

In a lot of ways it'd be a lot easier to believe in a religion where there was an obvious cause-and-effect between wrong behaviours and consequences. It just doesn't work like that.
 
Posted by Nenya (# 16427) on :
 
I've been reading this thread with great interest, alongside this theology of gender report which has some - to me - new concepts about the creation narratives and their purpose. Not as a model of "marriage" but to show that, contrary to the thinking of surrounding cultures, both male and female are made in the image of God and both good. (Page 18 and following.)

I'd love to get some of you along to be a part of discussions on this in my church as you do it far better than I do. [Smile]
 
Posted by Nenya (# 16427) on :
 
I'm very sorry, I don't think that link is working and I thought I did everything right... [Hot and Hormonal]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
You didn't clear the initial http:// tag provided when you clicked the url button. this should work.

Second edit to add that I managed to screw it up as well. Good now, though.

[ 03. March 2016, 18:06: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by Nenya (# 16427) on :
 
Thank you for sorting that out for me.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
I read this thread, all of it, what is wrong with me?
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
quote:
Joesaphat: I read this thread, all of it, what is wrong with me?
Heh. I think that if you search through the Dead Horses board, you'll find some threads on this subject that are much looooooooonger than this one [Smile]
 
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
 
If I ain't said it above, as a neo-liberal I remember with head shaking shame the conservative monster I have been for most of my life, but I must love him too. He had to go through decades of ignorance and weakness before he encountered, at the right time, the concept of the trajectory of the progressive revelation of God that has continued for two thousand years after it was underway for a thousand years or two in 'The Bible'.

There's nothing apparent about Biblical homophobia. It stares you in the face like everything else that's at the older end of the trajectory.

The only way to Biblically interpret the Bible is from the bleeding edge of its trajectory.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
Joesaphat: I read this thread, all of it, what is wrong with me?
Heh. I think that if you search through the Dead Horses board, you'll find some threads on this subject that are much looooooooonger than this one [Smile]
I had no idea, you're right. It's actually quite amazing to look at what people felt able to write in here less some 15 years ago. It kind of gives hope...
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
quote:
Joesaphat: It kind of gives hope...
Yeah, for me too.

Have you read this thread? Can you give us a summary when you're done? [Smile]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
Joesaphat: It kind of gives hope...
Yeah, for me too.

Have you read this thread? Can you give us a summary when you're done? [Smile]

It's the one I had in mind, I read the first twenty pages or so. I wonder if some of those who wrote have now either changed their minds or would, at the very least, use a different tone. Some of the posts drip with disgust.

[ 19. March 2016, 06:24: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
Have you read this thread? Can you give us a summary when you're done? [Smile]

It's the one I had in mind, I read the first twenty pages or so. I wonder if some of those who wrote have now either changed their minds or would, at the very least, use a different tone. Some of the posts drip with disgust.
Here's an intersting compare-and-contrast between two posts by the same shipmate fourteen years apart. The first is on the thread you linked to and the second is on a Hell board.

The author's response when confronted with the change was waffly enough to indicate a reluctance to publicly reaffirm his former position, but also waffly enough to indicate the only thing that had really changed was his willingness to state his opinion openly and baldly.

[links are to a Hell board, where the language is occasionally Hellish]

[ 22. March 2016, 15:24: Message edited by: Crœsos ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Well, Crœsos, my views have shifted over that time too. Indeed, I credit the Ship with contributing to a shift in my views on many things, not least because it offers an opportunity for people with widely differing views who might not otherwise interact to do so.

I'm not sure, though, that throwing peoples' change of viewpoint (especially when it is, even if incrementally, a shift in your favour) back in their faces is a good way of making friends and influencing people. You can have seemingly incontrovertible arguments (you often do) and still fail to win hearts and minds, you know.

For my part, I'm grateful in particular to the people on the "other side" of this debate who've shown patience, grace and respect for me in our differences.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
I don't know if I posted to that thread years ago, and to be honest I'm not keen to see what I said if I did. I often feel acute embarrassment when faced with my former self and opinions. Isn't that the way with everyone?
 
Posted by Doone (# 18470) on :
 
Certainly true for me [Tear]

[ 24. March 2016, 12:09: Message edited by: Doone ]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Well, Crœsos, my views have shifted over that time too. Indeed, I credit the Ship with contributing to a shift in my views on many things, not least because it offers an opportunity for people with widely differing views who might not otherwise interact to do so.

I'm not sure, though, that throwing peoples' change of viewpoint (especially when it is, even if incrementally, a shift in your favour) back in their faces is a good way of making friends and influencing people. You can have seemingly incontrovertible arguments (you often do) and still fail to win hearts and minds, you know.

For my part, I'm grateful in particular to the people on the "other side" of this debate who've shown patience, grace and respect for me in our differences.

But both Croesus and I wrote that these changes gave us hope.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
# it ain't what you [plurally] wrote it's the way that you wrote it # [which differs wildly to my mind]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I don't know if I posted to that thread years ago, and to be honest I'm not keen to see what I said if I did. I often feel acute embarrassment when faced with my former self and opinions. Isn't that the way with everyone?

Heck yes, Cheesy, I was brought up in communism and Buddhism and reacted against it so much that I became an obnoxious Roman Catholic conservative... now I'm back to being a middle-aged liberal hippie, like my parents, and I meditate again. I stumbled across some sermons I preached twenty or so years ago and it made me want to cry.
 
Posted by Bibaculus (# 18528) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I don't know if I posted to that thread years ago, and to be honest I'm not keen to see what I said if I did. I often feel acute embarrassment when faced with my former self and opinions. Isn't that the way with everyone?

Heck yes, Cheesy, I was brought up in communism and Buddhism and reacted against it so much that I became an obnoxious Roman Catholic conservative... now I'm back to being a middle-aged liberal hippie, like my parents, and I meditate again. I stumbled across some sermons I preached twenty or so years ago and it made me want to cry.
I, too, became an obnoxious Roman catholic conservative. Strange, is it not, who we often conspire in our own oppression? I wonder why that should be? Maybe a sort of self hatred is induced in us, and we think that rejecting our own homosexuality will somehow make it go away, and make us acceptable to God and the people whose acceptance we crave.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bibaculus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I don't know if I posted to that thread years ago, and to be honest I'm not keen to see what I said if I did. I often feel acute embarrassment when faced with my former self and opinions. Isn't that the way with everyone?

Heck yes, Cheesy, I was brought up in communism and Buddhism and reacted against it so much that I became an obnoxious Roman Catholic conservative... now I'm back to being a middle-aged liberal hippie, like my parents, and I meditate again. I stumbled across some sermons I preached twenty or so years ago and it made me want to cry.
I, too, became an obnoxious Roman catholic conservative. Strange, is it not, who we often conspire in our own oppression? I wonder why that should be? Maybe a sort of self hatred is induced in us, and we think that rejecting our own homosexuality will somehow make it go away, and make us acceptable to God and the people whose acceptance we crave.
Dunno, I've given up trying to analyse once I realised that analysis was not going to make anything go away.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
# it ain't what you [plurally] wrote it's the way that you wrote it # [which differs wildly to my mind]

I think the difference come from whether we think we're dealing with someone who has sincerely changed their mind and regrets a former stance (most of the people here) or someone who has simply changed the penalties they're advocating be applied to gay people to reflect current political realities (e.g. my interlocutor on the above-linked Hell thread, Western evangelicals who lobbied for Uganda's "kill the gays" bill and then pretended to be appalled when they returned to the West, etc.).

The Dan Savage column I linked to as part of that Hellish exchange is informative.

quote:
But now that we're winning marriage — now that victory is assured — the pope is willing to maybe think about supporting some type of civil union scheme. I'll say to the pope what I said to my evangelical Christian pal: that fucking ship has fucking sailed. What the pope is saying to gay people in 2014 is this: "Okay, now that you're winning marriage, here's an idea: give marriage back and we will give you civil unions... which we once opposed with the same intensity and in the same apocalyptic terms that we oppose marriage today. Is it a deal?"

No deal, Francis.

Emphasis added. It's a question of whether you believe someone has changed their mind or whether they've just decided to change the battlefield because they're losing.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
Yes, or this gem from Malawi's bishops Lenten pastoral letter. Of course we condemn violence against gay people but it's a darn shame they don't end up in prison and cannot be prosecuted anymore:

'From this perspective we agree with those who have faulted the Government for putting a moratorium on laws governing homosexual acts. This means that those guilty of homosexual acts or unions cannot be prosecuted. The Government has bowed down to pressure from donor community, international bodies and local human rights campaigners. As Pastors, we find this path very unfortunate. It is an act of betrayal on the part of those in power to sell our country to foreign practices and tendencies contrary to the will of God because of money…

While we do not condone homosexual acts or unions because they are sinful, however, we wish to condemn in strongest terms those inciting violence against homosexuals' blah blah blah
 
Posted by Penny S (# 14768) on :
 
And there was me thinking that the anti-homosexual laws and so on in Africa had been initiated and encouraged by westerners. But I suppose that that is OK if the pastors agree with it.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
And there was me thinking that the anti-homosexual laws and so on in Africa had been initiated and encouraged by westerners. But I suppose that that is OK if the pastors agree with it.

Nope, they're quite able to do it by themselves and can teach westerners a thing or two, in fact strenuously try to at the moment in the Anglican communion.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Is this the right point at which to mention God loves Uganda?
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
# it ain't what you [plurally] wrote it's the way that you wrote it # [which differs wildly to my mind]

Surely there comes a point when it is blindingly obvious that a particular person's POV is not going to change. And, if that person doesn't appear to be engaging honestly, why treat them with any respect?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Working at a military conference, I once heard a strategy advisor to the Pentagon explain, in all seriousness, that his counter-insurgency approach was to "sit down and try to negotiate, and if there was no room for negotiation, kill them all".

This doesn't commend itself to me any more as a debating strategy than it did as a military one.

I'm not saying I never err in this respect myself, but I think abandoning respect for an individual as a fellow-human, irrespective of their perceived motivations or indeed actions, is a perilous path to take.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Respect is earned by words and action, not by merely being. One should give the allowance for the possibility of change, yes. But this does not preclude blunt appraisal of those words and actions. Crœsos post was blunt, but completely fair.
I would argue that blunt is often more respectful than being conciliatory.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Crœsos post was blunt, but completely fair.
I would argue that blunt is often more respectful than being conciliatory.

Fair or not, in my case the "yield no quarter" approach (not uniquely by Crœsos) been a far bigger obstacle to me changing my views than anything else.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
I understand this. And, indeed, most people's reaction to being told they are wrong is defencive.
But at what point is enough, enough? How many times must we be asked to take half a step back and understand those who would oppress?
These attitudes have real consequence. The recent law passed in North Carolina to stop local governments allowing for transgender rights, those in Atlanta being considered and the absolutely horrors in Africa.
Why must the oppressed always be the ones to "understand" and be "respectful"?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Why must the oppressed always be the ones to "understand" and be "respectful"?

I never said that. Lack of respect and understanding on either side is a cause for concern.

The backstory to my allusion to "hearts and minds" earlier on is a Pentagon strategy advisor explaining in all seriousness, at a conference I was working at as an interpreter, that his approach to counter-insurgents was to sit down and see if there was anyone who could be negotiated with, and if not, and I quote, "kill them all" (he was not a uniformed officer and I think he might even have been a civilian, so he wouldn't actually have been doing the killing).

At an intellectual level I can sort of see that this point might be reached, but I can't help thinking there must be a better way. All the more so, dare I add, for those of us enjoined to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Why must the oppressed always be the ones to "understand" and be "respectful"?

I never said that. Lack of respect and understanding on either side is a cause for concern.
I know you did not say this, and I believe you do not have this POV. However, for some issues this is the practical effect.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

The backstory to my allusion to "hearts and minds" earlier on is a Pentagon strategy advisor explaining in all seriousness, at a conference I was working at as an interpreter, that his approach to counter-insurgents was to sit down and see if there was anyone who could be negotiated with, and if not, and I quote, "kill them all" (he was not a uniformed officer and I think he might even have been a civilian, so he wouldn't actually have been doing the killing).

At an intellectual level I can sort of see that this point might be reached, but I can't help thinking there must be a better way. All the more so, dare I add, for those of us enjoined to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us.

The best way to end a conflict is to avoid entering one. If a conflict does occur, there is not always a peaceful exit. This requires both parties to operate with the same intent.
But, yes, there is often a conflict between practical response and philosophical response.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Fair or not, in my case the "yield no quarter" approach (not uniquely by Crœsos) been a far bigger obstacle to me changing my views than anything else.

What exactly would "yielding quarter" look like between those who wish to use the law and other apparatuses of the state to discriminate against homosexuals and those who think homosexuals should have equal rights? There doesn't really seem to be a middle ground of "all [citizens] are equal, but some [citizens] are more equal than others" that doesn't make a mockery of the concept of legal equality.

"Compromises" along these lines usually go something like "I'll respect your right to believe discrimination is wrong, and you respect my right to discriminate". In other words, just another excuse to maintain the status quo.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
In this exchange I've been thinking, not about the law, but about debating style. There's a kind of implacability that I find unnerving; but maybe that's just me.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
In this exchange I've been thinking, not about the law, but about debating style. There's a kind of implacability that I find unnerving; but maybe that's just me.

Maybe so, but could it be because this debate has little consequence in your own life. As Croesos put it, if the consequence of losing the debate in society is to be thrown in jail or lose your job... well, you're not exactly as keen on compromise as your adversaries.
 
Posted by ThunderBunk (# 15579) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
In this exchange I've been thinking, not about the law, but about debating style. There's a kind of implacability that I find unnerving; but maybe that's just me.

I'm implacable in my insistence that I'm a human being, and a child of God, and that being gay has no effect on my being a sinner or whatever other category someone may wish to use. Insistence that all non-heterosexuals are automatically saints would, to my mind, constitute fanaticism, which I think is what you are alluding to. Otherwise, this is just the sound of people being themselves, and claiming the space in which to do so before God and in the face of the congregation.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Maybe so, but could it be because this debate has little consequence in your own life.

You're right, I'm sure that's part of it, and since raising this point I've been considering the hot-button topics for me and whether I am equally implacable about those.

But to go meta for a moment, I don't recall ever having seen Croesos, say, make a concession like the one I've just made there.

I'm sure part of it is personalities, not just issues, and it doesn't invalidate the arguments themselves. I'm just being frank and saying that for me, it doesn't do anything to win me to them.

quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
this is just the sound of people being themselves, and claiming the space in which to do so before God and in the face of the congregation.

I'm not sure this, specifically, is something that can or should be done implacably. The church is not about "claiming the space to be myself", it's about (in theory) "being one body with different members".

While equal rights and treatment is a great ideal, I think living with real-life diversity involves compromise; that's certainly my takeaway from the Jew/Gentile debate in Acts, for instance.

A personal milestone for me on this thread was Orfeo saying he could live with "accommodated".

Perhaps the implacability of some is required to gain the accommodation sufficient for others; all I know is I'm much happier engaging with the latter tendency than the former.
 
Posted by ThunderBunk (# 15579) on :
 
I'm just glad that I retain the capacity to be occasionally unsettling. This is more about retaining a certain cutting edge to my thinking, intuiting, whatever, rather than than setting out to affect others.

I'm too well-upholstered to be uncomfortable....

ETA: I'm sorry, but I don't see how a body can be united, can be truly "one body" if some of its members refuse to be with, to acknowledge, work together with, embrace, other parts. It can't; it can only be an impaired version of its true capacity, which to me is a viable definition of sin, and therefore not of God.

[ 28. March 2016, 12:14: Message edited by: ThunderBunk ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

I'm sure part of it is personalities, not just issues, and it doesn't invalidate the arguments themselves. I'm just being frank and saying that for me, it doesn't do anything to win me to them.

I think this is rubbish. Though I have to concede two things. I behave the same way myself and it is, in part, a result of our species hardwired behaviour. Whilst it may be a natural behaviour, ISTM, you and I are part of traditions which have a higher standard. Especially when there are practical consequences.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

While equal rights and treatment is a great ideal, I think living with real-life diversity involves compromise; that's certainly my takeaway from the Jew/Gentile debate in Acts, for instance.

A personal milestone for me on this thread was Orfeo saying he could live with "accommodated".

Perhaps the implacability of some is required to gain the accommodation sufficient for others; all I know is I'm much happier engaging with the latter tendency than the former.

Look where accommodation has got black people in the UK and, especially, America. This is why some of us are implacable.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
In this exchange I've been thinking, not about the law, but about debating style. There's a kind of implacability that I find unnerving; but maybe that's just me.

I think this pretty well sums up the moral bankruptcy of this kind of position. Sure, the debate is about someone else's rights/humanity/existence, but what really matters is whether you feel comfortable with the terminology used. It's not all about you! It might be useful to repeat that simple mantra ("it's not all about me") every so often.

In some ways this goes to an important aspect of this controversy. In some ways it's about maintaining authority. Fred Clark explains:

quote:
This makes for a new and fundamentally different argument. For decades, the religious right has been arguing that their purchase on the moral high ground ought to result in their political triumph. The political opposition to that used to be a form of “yes, but …” — yes, these political preachers are correct about morality and immorality, but other factors need to be considered, or other complications have to be accounted for, etc.

Opposition to the religious right’s agenda on Tuesday [November 6, 2012] did not take the form of this “yes, but …” argument. It was simply, “No.”

It was not a disagreement about the political implications of the preachers’ righteous moral claims, but a denial of those claims, of their righteousness and of their morality. No, these political preachers are incorrect about morality and immorality. No, pretending that some “biblical definition of marriage” is a pretext for denying people their rights or delegitimizing their families is not good or decent or right. No, legal coercion compelling rape victims to bear the offspring of their attackers is not good or decent or right.

And that cuts to the core of the matter. That isn’t just a single defeat in a single election, but a fundamental rejection of the entire basis for why anyone, anywhere should ever listen to the religious right.

The religious right can no longer simply assert and assume that it has the moral high ground. If it wants to make that claim, it will have to argue for it, will have to explain why its absolute opposition to legal abortion and to civil rights for LGBT people is right or true or good.

The whole thing is quite worth the read.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
this is just the sound of people being themselves, and claiming the space in which to do so before God and in the face of the congregation.

I'm not sure this, specifically, is something that can or should be done implacably. The church is not about "claiming the space to be myself", it's about (in theory) "being one body with different members".
In a different way this goes back to asserting authority. Gay people can't "claim space" within the Church (that would be implacable and rude), they have to get permission from various authorities to be part of that "one body with different members". The controversy seems to come from the rejection of the idea that people like Jerry Falwell (Senior or Junior) or Scott Lively or any of the rest of that ilk are the true gatekeepers of the Kingdom of Heaven.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
In this exchange I've been thinking, not about the law, but about debating style. There's a kind of implacability that I find unnerving; but maybe that's just me.

I think this pretty well sums up the moral bankruptcy of this kind of position. Sure, the debate is about someone else's rights/humanity/existence, but what really matters is whether you feel comfortable with the terminology used.
I give up. I never said my views were "what really matters", nor was I implying it was all about me, I was sharing a personal opinion and being careful to emphasise that it was nothing more than that. In return for my candour, my words get twisted to demonstrate my "moral bankruptcy". That is precisely the kind of tactic that undermines my desire to engage with the argument in good faith.
quote:

In some ways it's about maintaining authority.Fred Clark explains

Well, being associated with the "religious right" is a new one for me, and I don't recognise myself in anything written there.

quote:
In a different way this goes back to asserting authority. Gay people can't "claim space" within the Church (that would be implacable and rude), they have to get permission from various authorities to be part of that "one body with different members".
Again, you are utterly misrepresenting what I wrote. I wasn't singling out gays. I don't think anybody should be "claiming space" (any more than I think anyone has some inherent "right to space" in the Church).

I certainly never insinuated that anybody should be having to ask permission from some dominant authority group (and yes, Thunderbunk, I wholly agree, failure of some members to acknowledge or welcome others is indeed a serious failure on their part).

Neither do I look on any particular body as gatekeepers of the Kingdom of Heaven (or, if I had to nominate a group to be so, it would probably consist of tax collectors and prostitutes. I have just this afternoon received an uplifting prayer I really needed from a convicted pimp, so I'm not just talking pious nothings here).

Again, this kind of guilt by association makes me doubt the essential validity of the more central arguments.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Again, you are utterly misrepresenting what I wrote. I wasn't singling out gays. I don't think anybody should be "claiming space" (any more than I think anyone has some inherent "right to space" in the Church).

I certainly never insinuated that anybody should be having to ask permission from some dominant authority group (and yes, Thunderbunk, I wholly agree, failure of some members to acknowledge or welcome others is indeed a serious failure on their part).

[Confused] How are you supposed to "welcome" people to somewhere they have no right to be? I'm pretty sure that the whole "you have no right to be here" message is inherently unwelcoming, no matter how nicely it's phrased.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
[Confused] How are you supposed to "welcome" people to somewhere they have no right to be? I'm pretty sure that the whole "you have no right to be here" message is inherently unwelcoming, no matter how nicely it's phrased.

Perhaps we're talking cross purposes here. The particular church I help lead says over the door that it's for [i]everyone[i], and does its best to mean that.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
[Confused] How are you supposed to "welcome" people to somewhere they have no right to be? I'm pretty sure that the whole "you have no right to be here" message is inherently unwelcoming, no matter how nicely it's phrased.

Perhaps we're talking cross purposes here. The particular church I help lead says over the door that it's for everyone, and does its best to mean that.
I guess it's a question of how you square the idea that church is for "everyone" and yet maintain the position that no one "has some inherent "right to space" in the Church". How do you welcome everyone and have space for no one?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Because I think admission to the "space" of the Church, if one wants to put it in those terms, is on the basis of grace, not rights. That applies to everyone, and should not be forgotten by anyone.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Because I think admission to the "space" of the Church, if one wants to put it in those terms, is on the basis of grace, not rights. That applies to everyone, and should not be forgotten by anyone.

Saying you have space for people, but if they try to claim that space they're behaving in an unacceptably implacable manner seems like an overly convoluted way of saying "not welcome". If there's a space for you but you're not allowed to claim it, how is that different than not having a space?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Saying you have space for people, but if they try to claim that space they're behaving in an unacceptably implacable manner seems like an overly convoluted way of saying "not welcome".

It certainly would be, but that was not what I said, nor what I meant.

I am (as I said in that post) unsure that implacability is an appropriate attitude through which to achieve mutual acknowledgement of belonging to one spiritual body.

I've also conceded that there may well be a place for implacably asserting one's rights for a cause, but at the risk of repeating myself, I personally find it jarring in this particular debate space, in which there is usually, eventually, some give and take between long-term posters even of opposing views. Without this, I feel more as if I'm in a zero-sum game than anything approaching mutuality.

At a pastoral level, I sincerely believe our church to be open, accepting, and welcoming, and never to my knowledge have we turned away anyone on the basis of sexual orientation (or anything else; I think we might draw the line at overt weapons-carrying*), certainly not explicitly and I hope not implicitly.

However, marching in to "claim your space" whether that space happens to be for gay rights, divorce, prophetic dance, banner-waving, five-point Calvinism, Arminianism, cessationism, or evangelism methods will not go down well.

The space of the grace of God in which we all stand is not ours to claim, and I see the leadership's responsibility in ensuring both that everyone benefits from it and that nobody hijacks it.

I appreciate that your church experience may have been lemon-suckingly different.

[*oh, I have been known to invite our pot-smokers to indulge somewhere other than on the front step of our main entrance, so as not to be stumbling-blocks to those trying to kick the habit]

[ 28. March 2016, 19:00: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I've also conceded that there may well be a place for implacably asserting one's rights for a cause, but at the risk of repeating myself, I personally find it jarring in this particular debate space, in which there is usually, eventually, some give and take between long-term posters even of opposing views. Without this, I feel more as if I'm in a zero-sum game than anything approaching mutuality.

You know what I find "jarring"? Treating the lives and rights of other people as some kind of abstract debating point and then acting shocked when people react strongly to suggestions that they are a lesser order of citizens and/or beings.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
However, marching in to "claim your space" . . . will not go down well.

What if you walk, prance, skip, mince, shuffle, or sprint to claim a space for yourself? Is that okay? Seriously, your whole argument seems like you're upset that those people (however defined) aren't deferential enough and act as if they're just as welcome at church as decent folk.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Neither do I look on any particular body as gatekeepers of the Kingdom of Heaven (or, if I had to nominate a group to be so, it would probably consist of tax collectors and prostitutes. . . . ).

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The space of the grace of God in which we all stand is not ours to claim, and I see the leadership's responsibility in ensuring both that everyone benefits from it and that nobody hijacks it.

And you said you didn't know any gatekeepers! It's interesting that certain people trying to claim space in the church is always interpreted as an effort to seize control through threats and violence ("highjacking").

There seems to be a schizophrenic see-sawing here between "everyone benefits" and "how dare you try to claim a place among us".
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
You know what I find "jarring"? Treating the lives and rights of other people as some kind of abstract debating point and then acting shocked when people react strongly to suggestions that they are a lesser order of citizens and/or beings.

Sure. That point has been made by many people over time, and was made by Joan the Dwarf in her cut-out-and-keep post at the beginning of that thread, and believe it or not I do try to keep it in mind.

However, I don't thing strong reaction has to lead to, um, implacability. If it does, well that's your, um, right. It's just that I personally have to work extra hard to find your arguments persuasive precisely because of that attitude.

quote:
your whole argument seems like you're upset that those people (however defined) aren't deferential enough and act as if they're just as welcome at church as decent folk.
I reject the idea of some less decent having to defer to some more decent. I don't care how decent you are, in the context of a church meeting, I think the idea is to defer to one another. That context does not appear to me to be compatible with militancy.
quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Neither do I look on any particular body as gatekeepers of the Kingdom of Heaven (or, if I had to nominate a group to be so, it would probably consist of tax collectors and prostitutes. . . . ).

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The space of the grace of God in which we all stand is not ours to claim, and I see the leadership's responsibility in ensuring both that everyone benefits from it and that nobody hijacks it.

And you said you didn't know any gatekeepers!
You're misrepresenting me again. Being gatekeepers of how a meeting is run is not the same as being the gatekeepers of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the fact that our leadership has no such monopoly is one I regularly emphasise.

quote:
It's interesting that certain people trying to claim space in the church is always interpreted as an effort to seize control through threats and violence ("highjacking").
It's more than "interesting", it's positively fascinating. However, it is (again) nowhere near what I said or implied.

I said I saw leadership responsibility as being to ensure nobody hijacked the space of God's grace we try to embody, and I meant nobody, not "certain groups". By "hijacking" I meant "divert to fulfil a personal agenda" and nothing whatsoever to do with threats and violence.

I think that in doing so, our leadership is doing nothing more than implementing good governance, any absence of which would be sure to draw as much fire (albeit for different reasons) as you are currently directing at me. If you persist in seeing all this as being doublespeak on my part for some "keep the gays at bay" agenda, it seems there's little I can do to convince you otherwise.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
What is hijacking, though? Bringing up concerns? Confronting anti-gay messages?
How much challenge is allowed before it is considered hijacking?
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
You know what I find "jarring"? Treating the lives and rights of other people as some kind of abstract debating point and then acting shocked when people react strongly to suggestions that they are a lesser order of citizens and/or beings.

Sure. That point has been made by many people over time, and was made by Joan the Dwarf in her cut-out-and-keep post at the beginning of that thread, and believe it or not I do try to keep it in mind.

However, I don't thing strong reaction has to lead to, um, implacability. If it does, well that's your, um, right. It's just that I personally have to work extra hard to find your arguments persuasive precisely because of that attitude.



Which brings us back to my earlier, still unanswered question of what constitutes "placability" when people are asserting their previously denied rights? Do they have to put in a whole bunch of caveats and provisos about how they're not really sure they're entitled to equal treatment but they just thought they might ask anyway, just in case you were in a charitable mood?

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
You're misrepresenting me again. Being gatekeepers of how a meeting is run is not the same as being the gatekeepers of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the fact that our leadership has no such monopoly is one I regularly emphasise.

<snip>

I said I saw leadership responsibility as being to ensure nobody hijacked the space of God's grace we try to embody, and I meant nobody, not "certain groups". By "hijacking" I meant "divert to fulfil a personal agenda" and nothing whatsoever to do with threats and violence.

Unless it's the agenda of the leadership. Those are apparently persons who can be trusted to set and steer the agenda.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I think that in doing so, our leadership is doing nothing more than implementing good governance, any absence of which would be sure to draw as much fire (albeit for different reasons) as you are currently directing at me. If you persist in seeing all this as being doublespeak on my part for some "keep the gays at bay" agenda, it seems there's little I can do to convince you otherwise.

Have you considered being less implacable? Maybe concede that sometimes you do engage in doublespeak and occasionally work to "keep the gays at bay"? [Big Grin]

I say that not because I believe it to be true, but rather to illustrate what you're essentially asking of those who "militantly" believe homosexuals should possess equal rights, and maybe even be acceptable to the God who made them. If someones going to demand being placated with admissions of evildoing and inferiority so they don't "have to work extra hard to find your arguments persuasive", it's doubtful they're going to be convinced by that kind of meal-mouthed, self-denigrating half-argument that serves as its own refutation.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Which brings us back to my earlier, still unanswered question of what constitutes "placability" when people are asserting their previously denied rights? Do they have to put in a whole bunch of caveats and provisos about how they're not really sure they're entitled to equal treatment but they just thought they might ask anyway, just in case you were in a charitable mood?

No.

However, I don't think either this thread, which is what we were talking about originally on this tangent, or congregations of believers, which is my chief preoccupation, are the most appropriate forums for asserting rights.

The former is (ideally) about open discussion, and the latter is (ideally) about mutual recognition in corporate worship.

quote:
Unless it's the agenda of the leadership. Those are apparently persons who can be trusted to set and steer the agenda.
I'm finding it difficult to come up with a better definition of leadership than that.

The real questions are to do with whether they deserve that trust, how they are held accountable, and whether they set and steer the agenda merely to uphold the status quo (an assumption you seem keen to foist on me, along with the asusmption that this is basically an anti-gay status quo) or on behalf of all those they welcome.

quote:
If someones going to demand being placated with admissions of evildoing and inferiority so they don't "have to work extra hard to find your arguments persuasive", it's doubtful they're going to be convinced by that kind of meal-mouthed, self-denigrating half-argument that serves as its own refutation.
I'm not asking you to admit any such things. My comment was about style, not substance, and you seem to be oblivious to that, whether deliberately or otherwise.

In the above quote you have cleverly lined up a direct quote from me with a "demand to be placated with admissions of evildoing and inferiority", in such a way as to misrepresent me, and added a string of invective. This does not come across to me as good-faith engagement.

And again, it suggests to me that you think this is a zero-sum game in which the route to victory is to crush those with other views into oblivion, rather than seek to interact with and understand them.

[ 29. March 2016, 06:16: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:

Have you considered being less implacable? Maybe concede that sometimes you do engage in doublespeak and occasionally work to "keep the gays at bay"? [Big Grin]

I say that not because I believe it to be true, but rather to illustrate what you're essentially asking of those who "militantly" believe homosexuals should possess equal rights, and maybe even be acceptable to the God who made them. If someones going to demand being placated with admissions of evildoing and inferiority so they don't "have to work extra hard to find your arguments persuasive", it's doubtful they're going to be convinced by that kind of meal-mouthed, self-denigrating half-argument that serves as its own refutation.

Nope. That wasn't funny at all. Nor can you take back the demeaning by the second of those quoted paragraphs. It may be being done elegantly, Croesos, but you've still crossed the Commandment 3 line into Hellish posting. Either call Eutychus to Hell or find less personally demeaning ways of continuing the discussion here.

Barnabas62
Dead Horses Host

[ 29. March 2016, 08:10: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]
 
Posted by Palimpsest (# 16772) on :
 
Gay people spent a hundred years trying to not be implacable; proposing that it was a medical illness or mental disease or hoping that concealing identities to get along would help.

That didn't work so well. Modern Gay rights and the surge toward equality have happened by being implacable about being out and telling those who think it's bad that they are wrong.

If that makes you sad, or makes it less likely you'll concede the arguments for equality, well too bad for you.

It's a form of what Martin Luther King was talking about in his Letter from Birmingham Jail; the so called allies who claim that now is not the time, and that they have special knowledge of a way to win based on their identity as a member of the group who is doing the oppression.

For every one who was repelled by those uppity gays who insisted they be accepted as equal, there are as many or more who are convinced by existence of gay people who brook no compromise of their rights. So why don't you spare us your advice on how to be kind to homophobes.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
Modern Gay rights and the surge toward equality have happened by being implacable about being out and telling those who think it's bad that they are wrong.

As you will see if you scroll up, I originally used the word "implacability" to describe, not the gay rights movement, but a posting style.

By which I meant a posting style in which there appears never, ever, to be a recognition of any valid insight or point worth considering on the part of other interlocutors, and in which the post content of those of differing views appears to be used, or misused, solely to buttress the position of the poster.

It was one such action in particular which caused me to return to this thread. Specifically, Croesos' response to Joesaphat speculating about how people's thinking on homosexuality might have progressed (by clear implication, positively, from his perspective), over time.

Rather than concede this might be the case (and there are plenty of posters, myself included, for whom this is demonstrably the case), Croesos chose to produce two posts by Russ spaced fourteen years apart purportedly showing a) a shift in his views but b) immediately following up by arguing that this "moving on" was actually for the worse rather than for the better.

(Note: I am not endorsing Russ' views; I am pointing out how Croesos chose to use and represent them and them in particular).

That is a prime example of what I meant by implacability.

Yes, gays have suffered, been abused, denied their rights, and been oppressed, and the depth of suffering and its inextricable connection to identity is bound to boil over into the debate; I get that. But here there are people trying to engage in a conversation, not a shouting match.

There's a place for angry and vociferous protest; there's a place for venting one's suffering; there's also a place for sitting round a table and recognising, even if you are the oppressed party, that the (perceived) monster across from you is a human being too.

They are not simply the punching ball for all those other people who beat you up or mocked you, and it is unfair and unconstructive to treat them as if they were.

quote:
If that makes you sad, or makes it less likely you'll concede the arguments for equality, well too bad for you.
If "arguments for equality" refuse to acknowledge in the slightest anyone and everyone who thinks differently (or even thinks along similar lines but chooses to express it a different way) or treats them like shit, I am dubious about what form of "equality" will emerge.

quote:
It's a form of what Martin Luther King was talking about in his Letter from Birmingham Jail; the so called allies who claim that now is not the time, and that they have special knowledge of a way to win based on their identity as a member of the group who is doing the oppression.
I have claimed no knowledge of a "special way to win"; I shared a personal opinion and have repeatedly emphasised that it was nothing more and nothing less. The outpouring of venom in return is puzzling.

Besides, by association, I've apparently just been labelled a member of "the group who is doing the oppression". What group is this and how do I qualify?

quote:
So why don't you spare us your advice on how to be kind to homophobes.
This is just more inflammatory misrepresentation. But it confirms to me the idea that for some at least, this debate is a zero-sum game in which not only do they seek to be the absolute winners, but everybody else very definitely have to be absolute losers.

[ 01. April 2016, 07:47: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Eutychus:

Rights are the issue. And in this the results should allow no equivocation.
I do not see venom. Lack of concern for feelings, perhaps.
I can only speak for me, but I feel no animosity towards you. But this is a discussion site and I will not concede the partial validity of viewpoints which I feel have no validity at all.
This is not to say everyone must acknowledge my viewpoint. Everyone is free to believe what they wish. But when that belief crosses over to practical rights, then there is an issue.
BTW, I don't see a shouting match. A discussion isn't defined by the end result necessarily being a compromise.
But what do you, Eutychus, want here? What are you looking for in this discussion? Polite engagement? I can try, though it is not my strong suit. Concession? Not on this.

[ 01. April 2016, 15:54: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Rights are the issue.

The issue in the OP on this thread is "Biblical interpretation of apparently anti-gay passages".
quote:
I do not see venom
When my posts are cast as "advice on how to be kind to homophobes"?
quote:
this is a discussion site and I will not concede the partial validity of viewpoints which I feel have no validity at all.
This gets to the heart of it. I haven't asked anyone to concede anything about the worthwhileness or otherwise of people's viewpoints.

But it's possible, in the thick of disagreement, to seek common ground if there is any, and acknowledge it. Especially in the context of diverging interpretations by Christians of their foundational texts. In that context, I think compromise is a likely and mutually beneficial outcome, if only in the medium term. As someone with pastoral responsibilities, that is something that has very real practical implications for me.

(In real life, believe it or not, I get far more riled by the entrenched and uncompromising anti-gay positions of many around me than I do by anything pro-gay.)

quote:
A discussion isn't defined by the end result necessarily being a compromise.
No. But even if one view is right and all others are wrong, if that view prevails those who hold it still have to live with those who did not prevail. (unless you think, with Clausewitz, that total war is the most humane in the end).

quote:
But what do you, Eutychus, want here? What are you looking for in this discussion?
To understand how people who are at a different starting place from me think, feel, and argue, examine my convictions in the light of all that, and if my convictions change, consider how that should affect my behaviour and decisions.

One of the great things about the Ship for me over the years is that it proves that with a minimum of goodwill, people on any side of any debate can get past their prejudices and interact with those on the other side without it descending into mud-slinging. That fosters respect for people one might never otherwise have interacted with, or might have despised through prejudice. And over the years it has certainly changed both my views and my behaviour.

It's a shame when, occasionally, the noise drowns out the signal.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Rights are the issue.

The issue in the OP on this thread is "Biblical interpretation of apparently anti-gay passages".
Yes, but the reason those are important is because of their effect on rights.
quote:

quote:
I do not see venom
When my posts are cast as "advice on how to be kind to homophobes"?
I see it as frustration. I could be wrong.

quote:

But it's possible, in the thick of disagreement, to seek common ground if there is any, and acknowledge it. Especially in the context of diverging interpretations by Christians of their foundational texts. In that context, I think compromise is a likely and mutually beneficial outcome, if only in the medium term. As someone with pastoral responsibilities, that is something that has very real practical implications for me.

I think Eliab's OP pretty much sets the common ground. That the passages mean what the anti-gay folk think, but that they are human fallacy rather than divine instruction. As he rightly points out, nearly every Christian on earth does this with other issues. This is, in fact, why i struggle with accepting anti-gay interpretations.
I understand that you must deal with some of your flock who see the anti-gay passages and cannot go past. But how do you deal with slavery? Child abuse? Genocide? Incest? Why is anti-homosexuality so different?

quote:
But even if one view is right and all others are wrong, if that view prevails those who hold it still have to live with those who did not prevail. (unless you think, with Clausewitz, that total war is the most humane in the end).
I've had to live with bigotry for much of my life. I've not yet begun a pogrom. I've worked with, and am friends with, people who have viewpoints that I think are wrong. Some are lovely people except for those views. This does not mean I accept their views as OK, nor that I will fail to state this.

quote:

It's a shame when, occasionally, the noise drowns out the signal.

Granted. With a comment. These issues do not begin with the posting of an OP. There is history and baggage from before the first character is typed. Everything you say is filtered through this. And I feel your pain, on the abortion threads, I am in the middle ground. I have stated my position many times, but still I am associated with extremist views.
The difference here, is that I'm not sure there is a middle ground. Not beyond what Eliab put in the OP.
What do you think is the middle ground?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
I see it as frustration. I could be wrong.

The more whoever posts expresses good grace and patience at other times, the more I'd be inclined to see it as frustration rather than venom.
quote:
I understand that you must deal with some of your flock who see the anti-gay passages and cannot go past. But how do you deal with slavery? Child abuse? Genocide? Incest? Why is anti-homosexuality so different?
At the very least, it's a potentially divisive issue, not just for Christians, that we are more likely to have to face than the others, on which opinion is broadly settled.
quote:
I've had to live with bigotry for much of my life. I've not yet begun a pogrom.
Good. I don't think I can add any more to my explanations of why, in some other cases at least, I feel the comparison to (rhetorical) total war is apposite.

quote:
These issues do not begin with the posting of an OP. There is history and baggage from before the first character is typed. Everything you say is filtered through this. And I feel your pain, on the abortion threads, I am in the middle ground. I have stated my position many times, but still I am associated with extremist views.
It's nice to know I'm not alone [Smile] It is precisely because of those filters that I think it's worth putting in the effort, on all sides, to go the extra mile in gracefulness, if one is actually interested in discussion. I really appreciate those who do.

quote:
What do you think is the middle ground?
I personally have got as far as here, a position which orfeo at least said he could "live with" (I realised belatedly this is not an option where he is because I don't think SSM is as yet legal there).

I suppose another way of putting it might br to suggest that the middle ground for a church involves classifying homosexual relations under matters of conscience, for which the model is not to hold others to our interpretations, not unneccesarily put stumbling blocks in their way, and generally exercise grace towards one another.

[ 01. April 2016, 20:50: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
At the very least, it's a potentially divisive issue, not just for Christians, that we are more likely to have to face than the others, on which opinion is broadly settled.
This I understand. My point was that the tools to deal with this are there and natural to contemporary Christian teachings.
quote:

a position which orfeo at least said he could "live with" (I realised belatedly this is not an option where he is because I don't think SSM is as yet legal there).

I suppose another way of putting it might br to suggest that the middle ground for a church involves classifying homosexual relations under matters of conscience, for which the model is not to hold others to our interpretations, not unneccesarily put stumbling blocks in their way, and generally exercise grace towards one another.

See, the bits I've bolded are problematic.
Matter of conscience puts a colour on the issue that is a bit off. IMO.
And unnecessarily? What are necessary stumbling blocks?
Do you see why this phrasing might trigger reaction?
 
Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
quote:
Besides, by association, I've apparently just been labelled a member of "the group who is doing the oppression". What group is this and how do I qualify?
Christians who think there is some value in natural law teaching?

I tried to explain earlier that natural law thinking about these biblical texts rests on a lot of suffering (female and gay) and your post in response to me didn't seem to understand why I was making that point. It's something which historically-speaking has destroyed and shamed people, and that makes it a minefield.

You don't want to use it for this, I'm sure, and I trust you! But when someone allies themselves with a brand of thinking which has had such awful consequences, it's not realistic to expect people who have suffered from it to be OK with it and to look for the good in it because you're a good person.

Let me give an example. I live in a country with a terrible sectarian heritage, so as a Church of Scotland heritage Protestant, I'm very keen to be pro-Catholic and to appreciate what's good about Catholicism. So naturally with two of my Catholic friends I was keen to talk about the good things I found in it. But they had both been abused by priests - which I didn't know. Imagine how terrible I felt! Because I wanted to be that tolerant person looking for the middle ground, and it turned out, I really didn't understand the depths to which their church had hurt them, and they really didn't want to hear my 'trying to find good things' approach.

Something that seemed like nice, reasonable, 'trying to appreciate what was good in something different to me', was deeply hurtful to them. I felt I had to 'put my hand upon my mouth' because I hadn't fully understood how they suffered.

I think it's very hard even for people who are nice people and keen LGBT allies to understand quite how much damage 'biblical interpretations' have done. I understand the impulse to explore other Christian traditions and to look for what is good in them, but I think if you don't fully understand the weight of suffering they have caused, it's very easy to be misunderstood and then to be indignant as to why your good intentions aren't being appreciated.

I think your 'trying to find good things' about natural law and biblical texts is falling into that same unhappy place as I did.

I'm honestly trying to help and I hope that helps.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Matter of conscience puts a colour on the issue that is a bit off. IMO.

Yes, when posting I thought that both pro and anti camps could find reason to be unhappy with it. Granted it does not settle the issue. But I think it might be a better interim place, for a church or The Church, than polarisation.
quote:
And unnecessarily? What are necessary stumbling blocks?
I was conflating a couple of Bible passages, firstly from the Council of Jerusalem - more on which later.

Acts 15:19 says:
quote:
that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God
and secondly 1 Cor 1:23
quote:
we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles
The idea being that the "offence of the Gospel" is enough of a stumbling-block for non-believers to come to faith and join the Church without adding redundant lifestyle requirements. If you like, the only necessary stumbling-block is "Christ crucified".

Back in the day, the issue of whether non-Jewish converts to Christianity should be circumcised and generally obey the rest of the Jewish law appears to me to have been as divisive in the early church as homosexuality is now. Had the circumcision camp prevailed, this requirement would have become a real (not to say painful!) stumbling-block for non-Jewish converts.

In the short term, the Council of Jerusalem effectively produced a compromise that basically enjoined the non-Jews (at the time, the more "liberated" and more "oppressed" camp) not to unnecessarily provoke their more conservative Jewish brethren.

The issue was not resolved by the end of the New Testament (we still read of "Judaisers" trying to spread their oppressive circumcision doctrine right through to the end of Scripture), so it took time - but the Council compromise paved the way for later generations to embrace the full impact of "neither Jew nor Greek".

And for later generations still to embrace "neither slave nor free".

I think we're still working on "neither male nor female", even as we affirm we are "all one in Christ".
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Louise:
quote:
Besides, by association, I've apparently just been labelled a member of "the group who is doing the oppression". What group is this and how do I qualify?
Christians who think there is some value in natural law teaching?

I tried to explain earlier that natural law thinking about these biblical texts rests on a lot of suffering (female and gay) and your post in response to me didn't seem to understand why I was making that point. It's something which historically-speaking has destroyed and shamed people, and that makes it a minefield.

As far as natural law goes, I see the pre-Fall creation narratives present us with male and female and the two becoming one flesh, and Jesus referring, positively it seems to me, to that state of affairs as how things were "in the beginning".

In the same breath, Jesus acknowledges the need to make provision for divorce, which I think amounts to a protection of the divorced wife and is thus an issue of rights (thanks in passing to lilbuddha who has got me thinking along those lines).

The space I'm currently floundering in is that of trying to understand how issues of rights fit with how I see things to have been "in the beginning".

I'm not saying rights aren't important. What's more of a conundrum for me is how they fit in with grace (not saying they don't, just saying I can't figure it out properly).

quote:
I think your 'trying to find good things' about natural law and biblical texts is falling into that same unhappy place as I did.
I'm not sure if what I've just posted above qualifies as doing that. I'm just trying to set out as honestly as I can where I've got to on this issue.

quote:
it's not realistic to expect people who have suffered from it to be OK with it and to look for the good in it because you're a good person.
This suggests to me, not for the first time, that there's been a misunderstanding about why I came back to this thread.

Specifically, I didn't object to Croesos not sharing Russ' views or not looking for the good in them. I objected to him, in the context of a reflective interlude on this thread in which people were entertaining the possibility of minds changing over the years, holding up two quotes from Russ spaced fourteen years apart and using them to argue that if his mind had changed at all, it had changed for the worse.

Not only did that single out Russ for treatment on a thread on which he hasn't even been involved (thus making it unlikely he'd respond here or be able to defend himself), it seemed designed to torpedo any hope of dialogue in general. It's not about finding good in views, it's about basic politeness and assuming a minimum of good faith on the part of the people involved in the discussion (as I tried to explain here), not least because it reflects on one's own credibility.

[ 02. April 2016, 07:30: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
I don't mind a clause of conscience, really, but it should work the other way around. The quaint belief that marriage was instituted at creation should be tolerated as a matter of conscience in the church, and we should be nice to people who hold such odd beliefs, flying in the face of modern science as they do. See how it feels from the other side, Eutychus? and that's only about one peculiar belief you hold, not about marrying the love of your life, the legal legitimacy of your kids or minor stuff like that...
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
And that's the position of the mildest fringe of the other side, in my church, those who merely disagree with same-sex marriage being blessed in church (though, to be fair, they also strenuously opposed partnerships and have a very short memory), but some of them also think my relationship is sinful, yet others favour keeping legal penalties against me, and at the deep end of the pool, they associate with other Anglicans abroad who would have me jailed or killed... as LilBuddha said, it's not just a question of a theological argument, it has deadly consequences.

[ 02. April 2016, 09:08: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
I fail to understand why it is so damn obvious that those who take a moral stand on something like marriage or ordination are bigots.

I don't much approve of many aspects of Hinduism. I wouldn't want to be in a church that married people according to Hindu rites. Or the provisions of Scientology. Or Jehovahs Witnesses, Satanists or a whole bunch of other things. Does that make me somehow "against marriage of people who love each other"?

And surely there is clear blue water between people who want to make conscience statements about things that go on in their own religious services and those who believe that their religious conscience statement means that they can dictate to the State about the way it regulates people who do not believe what I do.

There are people with a range of views on this topic. Determining that those with the mildest end are the same as those of the much more severe end is not really helping.

[ 02. April 2016, 09:24: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
See how it feels from the other side, Eutychus?

I entirely agree that clauses of conscience should work both ways.

And I think that depends on good faith on both sides. Which is why evidence bad faith on either side pisses me off so much.

quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
but some of them also think my relationship is sinful

Where this gets really and immediately complicated for me is my gay friends who think gay relationships are sinful.

(And by the way, I can tell you from experience that having one's carefully thought-out and prayed-out stance judged by others to be sinful is not the preserve of gays...)
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
Lots of people think things that other people do are sinful. What's that got to do with anything?
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I see the pre-Fall creation narratives

I must be honest and say that as soon as someone begins speaking about "the Fall" I see their arguments in the Jesus riding a dinosaur category.
The point of that should be, IMO, that people are responsible for their own sins, not a creator God setting up his "beloved" creations to fail.
quote:

I see the pre-Fall creation narratives

I must be honest and say that as soon as someone begins speaking about "the Fall" I see their arguments in the Jesus riding a dinosaur category.
The point of that should be, IMO, that people are responsible for their own sins, not a creator God setting up his "beloved" creations to fail.

quote:
I entirely agree that clauses of conscience should work both ways.

And I think that depends on good faith on both sides. Which is why evidence bad faith on either side pisses me off so much.

Not all arguments are balanced. This one isn't. The onus is on those whose position would oppress, rather than the ones who would suffer the oppression.

[ 02. April 2016, 15:34: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I fail to understand why it is so damn obvious that those who take a moral stand on something like marriage or ordination are bigots.

ISTM, you object to the negative view held of that word, but what better fits?
Bigotry is not on or off, any more than racism is. It is not inherently hate v. love, either.
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

I don't much approve of many aspects of Hinduism. I wouldn't want to be in a church that married people according to Hindu rites. Or the provisions of Scientology. Or Jehovahs Witnesses, Satanists or a whole bunch of other things. Does that make me somehow "against marriage of people who love each other"?

This is not a valid comparison. There is no such thing as gay marriage. People, within a faith are asking to be treated with the same respect as other people within that faith.
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

And surely there is clear blue water between people who want to make conscience statements about things that go on in their own religious services and those who believe that their religious conscience statement means that they can dictate to the State about the way it regulates people who do not believe what I do.

The gulf does not exist. For one, it affects those within their religious sphere.
And extremists have always drawn support from the milder like-minded. Whether or not that support is given freely.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I see the pre-Fall creation narratives

I must be honest and say that as soon as someone begins speaking about "the Fall" I see their arguments in the Jesus riding a dinosaur category.
The hiatus between what happens in Eden and what happens thereafter, whatever you want to call it, is I would venture, virtually universally acknowledged by theologians of all persuasions, and nothing to do with creationism as you seem to be implying.

You are free not to subscribe to Christianity, but caricaturing its teaching will not ultimately be very convincing.

quote:
Not all arguments are balanced. This one isn't. The onus is on those whose position would oppress, rather than the ones who would suffer the oppression.
Even if that's true, the fact is that good faith is required on both sides.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
ISTM, you object to the negative view held of that word, but what better fits?
Bigotry is not on or off, any more than racism is. It is not inherently hate v. love, either.

Is that sound-nite supposed to mean something?


quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
This is not a valid comparison. There is no such thing as gay marriage. People, within a faith are asking to be treated with the same respect as other people within that faith.

Newsflash: not everyone within any given faith agrees. You're making it sound like it is obvious to everyone who spends enough time thinking about this issue will eventually agree with you. Funnily enough, that almost never happens. Toleration has never come by everyone agreeing with each other - why is the bottom line here that everyone should just buckle up and agree to something they have a conscientious objection to?

I'd defend the right of my brother to have their relationship ratified by the state and any religious body that will accept them. But I'll also defend the right of religious bodies to do things I don't agree with, and I'll defend the right of my religious body to make religious decisions that you, or anyone else, don't like.

If you don't like it, you have a plethora of other religious groups you can join, and good luck to you.

If you want to call that bigotry, then sorry, we've got nothing else to talk about.


quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
The gulf does not exist. For one, it affects those within their religious sphere.
And extremists have always drawn support from the milder like-minded. Whether or not that support is given freely.

Yes, that's bullshit. But whatever you fancy telling yourself, I suppose.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
ISTM, you object to the negative view held of that word, but what better fits?
Bigotry is not on or off, any more than racism is. It is not inherently hate v. love, either.

Is that sound-nite supposed to mean something?


quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
This is not a valid comparison. There is no such thing as gay marriage. People, within a faith are asking to be treated with the same respect as other people within that faith.

Newsflash: not everyone within any given faith agrees. You're making it sound like it is obvious to everyone who spends enough time thinking about this issue will eventually agree with you. Funnily enough, that almost never happens. Toleration has never come by everyone agreeing with each other - why is the bottom line here that everyone should just buckle up and agree to something they have a conscientious objection to?

I'd defend the right of my brother to have their relationship ratified by the state and any religious body that will accept them. But I'll also defend the right of religious bodies to do things I don't agree with, and I'll defend the right of my religious body to make religious decisions that you, or anyone else, don't like.

If you don't like it, you have a plethora of other religious groups you can join, and good luck to you.

If you want to call that bigotry, then sorry, we've got nothing else to talk about.


quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
The gulf does not exist. For one, it affects those within their religious sphere.
And extremists have always drawn support from the milder like-minded. Whether or not that support is given freely.

Yes, that's bullshit. But whatever you fancy telling yourself, I suppose.

Sorry Mr Cheesy, but surely there must be boundaries set by the state. Religions make people do the most destructive things. FGM? ok, it's mandated by my faith, or polygamy, or beating up women who don't obey, or the physical punishment of children, or sentencing gay people to hard labour, the jews being deicides, Christians have to pay jizya... there are just so many, awful, horrible counter-examples
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
and nothing to do with creationism as you seem to be implying.

You are free not to subscribe to Christianity, but caricaturing its teaching will not ultimately be very convincing.

It has everything to do with this discussion. It is the essence of as written v. as interpreted Again, this is plain and common with the vast majority of Christians. Except for this subject.

BTW,the "free not to subscribe to Christianity' seems a bit insulting to LGBT Christians with a sincere faith. I accept that you probably don't mean it this way, but it very much feels like 'Accept a 2nd-class status or bugger off'

quote:
]Even if that's true, the fact is that good faith is required on both sides.
But what is that good faith? Acknowledging that there is a genuine internal struggle? No worries.
Accepting validity to the position? Not so much.
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
ISTM, you object to the negative view held of that word, but what better fits?
Bigotry is not on or off, any more than racism is. It is not inherently hate v. love, either.

Is that sound-nite supposed to mean something?
It means that bigotry is a good, if not perfect, word in this case, you just don't like it.
Find a better word, if you wish, but it isn't merely a difference in opinion.

quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
why is the bottom line here that everyone should just buckle up and agree to something they have a conscientious objection to?

The bottom line is that this is not about what people believe, but what they enact upon others.
Take racism for an example: I do not care to force anyone to think any particular way. I do, however, wish to restrict their right to enforce that belief.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
It has everything to do with this discussion.

Equating the observation of conditions described as pre-Fall and post-Fall is an entirely separate issue to that of six-day creationism as caricatured by you in terms of "Jesus riding a dinosaur". Suggesting otherwise is what is caricatural on your part.
quote:
I accept that you probably don't mean it this way, but it very much feels like 'Accept a 2nd-class status or bugger off'
You are going to have to spell out just how it translates into that.

quote:
But what is that good faith? Acknowledging that there is a genuine internal struggle? No worries.
Yes, that's part of it. But that is not something I perceive everybody here to accept.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Sorry, the "Equating" at the start of that post shouldn't be there. Nor should I try and post in between Netflix episodes.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Equating the observation of conditions described as pre-Fall and post-Fall is an entirely separate issue to that of six-day creationism as caricatured by you in terms of "Jesus riding a dinosaur". Suggesting otherwise is what is caricatural on your part.

Suggesting a Fall, a point before which the world was in grace and after which it was not is from the same source as creationism and, IMO, the same type of thinking.

quote:
You are free not to subscribe to Christianity, but caricaturing its teaching will not ultimately be very convincing.
I think I see why we read that sentence differently.
The first part of that sentence still reads as like it or get out.
As for the second, I don't think I was caricaturing anything, as above.


quote:
But what is that good faith? Acknowledging that there is a genuine internal struggle? No worries.
Yes, that's part of it. But that is not something I perceive everybody here to accept. [/QB][/QUOTE]Practically speaking, it is difficult to ascertain sincerity. What you say sincerely, others say to avoid further engagement.
 
Posted by Nick Tamen (# 15164) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Equating the observation of conditions described as pre-Fall and post-Fall is an entirely separate issue to that of six-day creationism as caricatured by you in terms of "Jesus riding a dinosaur". Suggesting otherwise is what is caricatural on your part.

Suggesting a Fall, a point before which the world was in grace and after which it was not is from the same source as creationism and, IMO, the same type of thinking.
The same source, yes, but not necessarily the same sort of thinking at all. Many, many Christians—perhaps even the majority—understand the creation story in Genesis to be poetic metaphor that cannot be taken literally, but also understand the metaphor to speak about a reality of Creation as God intended it ("before the Fall') and Creation as marred by sin ("after the Fall"). Creationism requires a literal reading of Genesis. Belief that Creation was created good but has been marred by sin doesn't require a literal reading at all.

[ 03. April 2016, 01:27: Message edited by: Nick Tamen ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
Belief that Creation was created good but has been marred by sin doesn't require a literal reading at all.

How can it not? At what point in the development of the universe did it it go wrong? If the point of "the Fall" is that human's create their own sin, then fair do, but if it to mean that the universe is less than perfect because of sin, than it is no different than believing in Adam and Eve or a 6,000 year old universe.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
I have to agree with Nick Tamen here. I am by no means a literalist, and do not believe that the first three chapters of Genesis should be taken to be historical (or indeed the first 11 chapters if any of it) nor are meant to be. But I do believe that our world is marred by sin.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Equating the observation of conditions described as pre-Fall and post-Fall is an entirely separate issue to that of six-day creationism as caricatured by you in terms of "Jesus riding a dinosaur". Suggesting otherwise is what is caricatural on your part.

Suggesting a Fall, a point before which the world was in grace and after which it was not is from the same source as creationism and, IMO, the same type of thinking.
The same source, yes, but not necessarily the same sort of thinking at all. Many, many Christians—perhaps even the majority—understand the creation story in Genesis to be poetic metaphor that cannot be taken literally, but also understand the metaphor to speak about a reality of Creation as God intended it ("before the Fall') and Creation as marred by sin ("after the Fall"). Creationism requires a literal reading of Genesis. Belief that Creation was created good but has been marred by sin doesn't require a literal reading at all.
Fine, as long as you don't envisage a time when creation was perfect as God wished it to be. A story about our current predicament it may very well be, but it's only recently been reinterpreted as such.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
And another thing: death did not enter the world because of human sin, not only is Genesis metaphorical but Paul is demonstrably wrong on the matter.

[ 03. April 2016, 21:14: Message edited by: Louise ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
(I'm pretty much with mousethief in his view on Gen 1-11, in which I read of a mysterious world in which there are many things I don't recognise, after which there is a decided gear-change to a world I feel much more familiar with, featuring nomadic lifestyles that can still be found today and dysfunctional families that are only too familiar.)

My nascent insight from the past few posts and a couple of other live threads is that part of the disagreement over this issue may depend on... eschatology.

If one believes in fully realised eschatology (this life is all we have) then I suppose it is not surprising if it leads to some quite different approaches and conclusions than if one believes in a hereafter (and, by extension/parallel, a "herebefore") - different approaches and misunderstandings not just between those who are Christians and those who are not, but between Christians of different theological stables.

I have just deleted my first attempt to put this into more words and decided it needs more time.

For now, suffice it to say that, on reflection generated by recent discussions, my current position on homosexuality (and lots of other aspects of sexuality) is very largely informed by the view that when Jesus says "that is not how it was in the beginning" he is pointing to some sort of "before" and a condition that was different and immeasurably better, and when he talks about "going to prepare a place" for us, and people being "neither married nor given in marriage at the resurrection", he is talking about some sort of definite "after" in which our condition will again be different and immeasurably better.

Which has a huge impact on how I, at least, approach dealing with "now".

[ 03. April 2016, 07:01: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Curiosity killed ... (# 11770) on :
 
Standing in a queue, I had a discussion with an Elim minister a few years ago. He was reading a book about Biblical reinterpretation of slavery, the role of women and homosexuality*. He said that the book's view (and his) that although the verses on slavery and the role of women could be reinterpreted, those on homosexuality could not. I disagreed with him and argued with reference to fruits of the spirit and human rights. It was a queue: we didn't resolve this.

We are so slow to change our minds from the status quo; it took decades with slavery. Homosexual acts only became legal in 1967 in the UK. The legal position has changed at about the same pace as it did for slavery. With slavery the church was part of the campaign for change. With homosexuality (and women's leadership), the church is part of the resistance. Telling faithful LGBT people that they are less than perfect and should be celibate to be part of the church does not feel to me to be in the pattern of Christ, who often spoke out against the legalism of the religious authorities of his time.

<continuing tangent>Trying to express how Genesis gives an explanation of the beginnings of the world in a comprehensible way, along with the other creation myths around the world, I got to the Fall narrative trying to explain why a God created world is not perfect. But I realised that this opens more than the eschatology can of worms, it opens up what is meant by a creator God.</tangent>

* I suspect the book he was reading was William Webb's Slaves, Women and Homosexuality: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis, which, from the reviews and no I have no intention of reading it, seems to be using slavery and homosexuality as "neutral" topics to argue that the Biblical view of the role of women should be rethought, as has that of slavery. Webb seems to have taken homosexuality as something that should still be seen as unacceptable in his "neutral" view. I am willing to be corrected on this by anyone who has read the book rather than the reviews.
 
Posted by Nick Tamen (# 15164) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
Belief that Creation was created good but has been marred by sin doesn't require a literal reading at all.

How can it not? At what point in the development of the universe did it it go wrong?
Frankly, I don't know, and I don't know that I need to know. For my money, the point of the metaphorical poetry is to express a perceived reality, not to explain in detail the mechanics of that reality.

quote:
If the point of "the Fall" is that human's create their own sin, then fair do, but if it to mean that the universe is less than perfect because of sin, than it is no different than believing in Adam and Eve or a 6,000 year old universe.
I disagree, and I think this gets at what Eutychus was describing as caricatural. It seems to border on telling people that they don't really believe what they say they they believe, or that they really believe what they say they don't.

Granted, it is indeed possible that this is the case—I imagine that for most of us, there are times when we say or even truly think we believe one thing, but in practice don't really quite. But when the point is made is made by saying something like believing that the universe* is not perfect because of sin "is no different" than believing in a 6,000 year-old universe, I think there may be a lumping things together of things that aren't really the same.


* I said "Creation," not "the universe." Is there a distinction between the biblical writers' understanding of "creation" and a modern scientific understanding of "the universe"? Seems to me there well may be.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
Telling faithful LGBT people that they are less than perfect and should be celibate to be part of the church does not feel to me to be in the pattern of Christ, who often spoke out against the legalism of the religious authorities of his time.

This, Like, +1, Thumbs Up, etc.
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I have to agree with Nick Tamen here. I am by no means a literalist, and do not believe that the first three chapters of Genesis should be taken to be historical (or indeed the first 11 chapters if any of it) nor are meant to be. But I do believe that our world is marred by sin.

That malaria, birth defects, etc are part of an "imperfect world" caused by sin?
That 'sin' exists because of some act in the past?
I don't see either of those justified in Jesus' teachings.
That humans create their own problems such as murder, greed, war, rape, etc? This is what I think the point of Genesis is.

ETA:Nick Tamen, I'm not telling anyone that they do not believe what they say they believe. I am saying that what they state is inconsistent.

[ 03. April 2016, 15:47: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Double post to say that a "fall", as generally represented,* is no more rational or likely than Adam and Eve. This stated within the context of Christianity.


*World perfect
bad thing happens
World impperfect
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
AIUI, modern day Jews don't believe in a "Fall" and think it is a misinterpretation of Genesis by Christians.

As a perhaps interesting side note, the song "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" by Primitive Radio Gods contains the lines

The seconds ticking killed us all
A million years before the fall.

The convo in the YouTube comments some while back included a long back and forth about what "the fall" could possibly mean. All sorts of theories were suggested but nobody there knew the Christian bible reference. It simply wasn't on their radar.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
Telling faithful LGBT people that they are less than perfect and should be celibate to be part of the church does not feel to me to be in the pattern of Christ, who often spoke out against the legalism of the religious authorities of his time.

This, Like, +1, Thumbs Up, etc.
For the record, I don't think LGBT people are any less perfect than anybody else, and make no requirement of celibacy (any more than I quiz straight people about what they get up to in private).
quote:
I'm not telling anyone that they do not believe what they say they believe. I am saying that what they state is inconsistent.
You were lumping together the "Fall" with six-day creationism. Nick Tamen has summarised my position in this respect perfectly.

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
That 'sin' exists because of some act in the past? I don't see either of those justified in Jesus' teachings.

I feel this topic is broadening out way way beyond the subject matter of this thread, but within the context of this debate, I invite you to consider the following passage, which I keep referring to, Matthew 19:1-8, emphasis mine
quote:
Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?’ He said to them, ‘It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but at the beginning it was not so.
I think further discussion of the "Fall" (a term I don't normally use, actually) would be a tangent too far here, and belongs in Purgatory. I think orfeo and I have done "male and female in Genesis and what it might or might not mean for the sexuality of Christians today" to death further up. At least, I can't make any further headway in my own thinking on it for the moment.

The only relevant takeaway for me here is that Jesus refers to a former state when hardness of mens' hearts was not a problem, accepts a current state of affairs when it is (for all of us), and also concedes to provision being made for our current imperfect state of affairs.
 
Posted by Nick Tamen (# 15164) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
ETA:Nick Tamen, I'm not telling anyone that they do not believe what they say they believe. I am saying that what they state is inconsistent.

Fair enough. But consider the possibility that when you say that what someone states is (in your understanding) inconsistent, you are responding to what may be a few sentences on a subject that takes much more than a few sentences to really unpack, and that you may be bringing assumptions in that don't actually apply—especially if you are responding to someone from a different tradition or background than your own. (Such as your substitution of "the universe" for where I said "Creation.") The result can be a reaction from the one being responded to along the lines of "you're putting words in my mouth or caricaturing what many of us actually believe."

To be sure, in a discussion like this we're all somewhat constrained by what a poster posts. None of us can read minds. All the more reason give some benefit of the doubt, ask questions to better understand where others are coming from, and then make judgments,
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
For the record, I don't think LGBT people are any less perfect than anybody else

Well, not exactly perhaps. But as you admit to struggling with the issue, it does appear to lean a bit that way. Either LGBT people are normal and natural or they are not. Whether they are perfect as individuals is irrelevant.


quote:
You were lumping together the "Fall" with six-day creationism. Nick Tamen has summarised my position in this respect perfectly.
I do think they fit together as both require reading without a sufficiently critical eye. And I do think this is relevant as I see the anti-homosexual passages suffering the same.

quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
All the more reason give some benefit of the doubt, ask questions to better understand where others are coming from, and then make judgments,

In fairness, none of this is new or starting at this last bit of exchange. It is with the history of this topic with the people involved that I make my statements.
Perhaps not perfectly, but not without reference.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
You were lumping together the "Fall" with six-day creationism. Nick Tamen has summarised my position in this respect perfectly.

I do think they fit together as both require reading without a sufficiently critical eye.
I think that suggesting that some kind of a "Fall", i.e. a break in how man is portrayed as relating to God post the state described (metaphorically or literally) as being "in Eden", is the result of as uncritical a reading of Scripture as six-day creationism is ludicrous.

I may of course be wrong, and I have started a thread in Purgatory to see what other Shipmates think.

In the meantime, I see you don't have anything to say about Matthew 19.

[ 03. April 2016, 22:15: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:


In the meantime, I see you don't have anything to say about Matthew 19.

No, you see that I had not yet said anything about it. For one, I think orfeo did a fair job deconstructing your interpretation.
And two, there is no Gospel of Jesus. There are gospels attributed to his disciples. As such, the message entire should have precedence over individual verse.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
With slavery the church was part of the campaign for change.

And an even bigger part of the campaign against it. It's one of the pleasant bits of fiction that the early 19th century church was all the Clapham Sect, rather than recognizing that for most of the struggle folks like that were regarded as a small group of heretical oddballs. A similar bit of revisionism crops up when discussing the American civil rights movement. Everyone wants to associate themselves with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and no one wants to remember how deeply embedded white Protestantism was with the White Citizens Councils or the Klan. I'm anticipating a similar bit of revisionism with the history of the gay rights movement in a few more decades. A few progressive churches everyone now regards as heretical will be seen as the true face of Christianity from this era and the bulk of religious response will be whitewashed from the record.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
there is no Gospel of Jesus. There are gospels attributed to his disciples. As such, the message entire should have precedence over individual verse.

If you think individual verses can be dismissed out of existence on the basis of "the message entire", it causes me to wonder why you bothered to observe (with regard to a Fall)
quote:
I don't see either of those justified in Jesus' teachings.
You can disagree about what the verses I quoted mean, and I was generous enough to concede this passage might not mean what I think it means, but to me there appears to be no getting round the fact that the Gospels record Jesus as assuming the existence of a "beginning" when things were as they should be and not as they are now.

The point for me, in the context of this discussion, being that Scripture presents us with a view in which none of humanity is presently as it should be, but counters that bleak prospect with a message of redemption and grace for all, with none more than entitled than others.

Which, lest it be unclear, I do not believe necessarily means being "de-gayified".
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
but to me there appears to be no getting round the fact that the Gospels record Jesus as assuming the existence of a "beginning" when things were as they should be and not as they are now.

It is not a fact, but a way of viewing the material. What is is first century people speaking in 1st century terms to other 1st century people.
There are inconsistencies between the Gospels, so the words are as remembered, not as spoken.
 
Posted by ExclamationMark (# 14715) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
With slavery the church was part of the campaign for change.

And an even bigger part of the campaign against it. It's one of the pleasant bits of fiction that the early 19th century church was all the Clapham Sect, rather than recognizing that for most of the struggle folks like that were regarded as a small group of heretical oddballs. A similar bit of revisionism crops up when discussing the American civil rights movement. Everyone wants to associate themselves with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and no one wants to remember how deeply embedded white Protestantism was with the White Citizens Councils or the Klan. I'm anticipating a similar bit of revisionism with the history of the gay rights movement in a few more decades. A few progressive churches everyone now regards as heretical will be seen as the true face of Christianity from this era and the bulk of religious response will be whitewashed from the record.
The airbrushing goes further than that. The Clapham Sect although clearly and rightly exercised about slavery in the Empire rather overlooked the "slavery" on their doorstep - in the industries and farms of England itself. That wasn't touched for a further generation at least and, in the case of Farm Workers and tied cottages, not until the 1980's. It wasn't until 1939 that Farm Workers could claim any dole if they were unemployed for example.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
but to me there appears to be no getting round the fact that the Gospels record Jesus as assuming the existence of a "beginning" when things were as they should be and not as they are now.

It is not a fact, but a way of viewing the material. What is is first century people speaking in 1st century terms to other 1st century people.
There are inconsistencies between the Gospels, so the words are as remembered, not as spoken.

[brick wall] Leaving aside all considerations of who wrote the Gospels, when, and how accurately they record any words by some guy they refer to as Jesus, it is a fact that the text makes reference to a beginning, a middle (where we now are, as I see it) and a future end.

My view of the text is that it attempts to make sense of the middle in the light of events at the beginning and the end. It does so all over the place.

Inconsistencies and other problems notwithstanding, there is a linear progression to it which I can't separate from its meaning (which does not mean I have to accept every aspect of it is literally true, by the way).

I personally find attempts to salvage something worthwhile out of the middle whilst throwing away the idea that there is also a beginning and an end less convincing than attempts to understand it as a linear, eschatalogical whole.

Specifically, in the context of this thread, that means that to my mind, in the field of human relationships, the middle (where we now are) is the territory of compromise and accommodation conducted in an awareness of universal imperfection on the one hand, universally accessible grace on the other, and enduring hope.

That is all.

[ 04. April 2016, 06:33: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
9 pages in and I just noticed the typo in the thread title, now corrected. I guess we see what we expect.

B62, DH Host
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I guess we see what we expect.

If we could avoid that, this thread wouldn't exist.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
That thought crossed my mind while posting the correction. Bias is normal.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Now I'm dying to know what it used to say.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
Standing in a queue, I had a discussion with an Elim minister a few years ago. He was reading a book about Biblical reinterpretation of slavery, the role of women and homosexuality*. He said that the book's view (and his) that although the verses on slavery and the role of women could be reinterpreted, those on homosexuality could not.

I've heard a similar argument made (tentatively and by way of example of one way of reading Scripture, rather than as a personal conviction) by a speaker a Spring Harvest. The rationale was that over the course of Scripture there is some discernible movement towards greater equality between the sexes, and in recognising the common humanity of slaves and slave-owners, but no movement at all, only consistent disapproval, of homosexuality.

I'm not convinced of that as a matter of detail, but I suppose that a case may be made for it. It seems to be to be problematic as a general approach in that it must inherently and necessarily be a rejection of the binding authority of large parts of the Bible without open acknowledgement of that fact, and while purporting to accept the binding authority of the Bible as a whole.

It doesn't work for me. The reason I reject (as authoritative teaching) the apparently sexist parts of the OT is not that I've peeked ahead and know that centuries later an apostle is going to write that in Christ there's no male or female. I reject it because sexism seems to me to be obviously and indefensibly wrong. I can successfully read the Bible as "the story of how people who didn't even know that much encountered God" - and see God's inspiration in anything to mitigate the sexism, but not in the sexism itself. I couldn't successfully read it as saying that it was OK for God to specifically permit forcible marriage (rape) of women captured in war because in a few hundred years later he planned to drop a vague hint that it might not be so great an idea after all. That doesn't work for me. If the Bible contains stuff that isn't right because God was planning to correct it, then the key point - the Bible might contain stuff which, at least on the surface reading, is just wrong, has already been conceded. After that, we can't be certain that the anti-gay stuff is right, either.
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
It's one of the pleasant bits of fiction that the early 19th century church was all the Clapham Sect, rather than recognizing that for most of the struggle folks like that were regarded as a small group of heretical oddballs.

At least is is a pleasant fact (for the church) that the Clapham Sect led the fight against slavery. Clearly there were other more establishment figures of the Church such as the Bishops of Bristol and Exeter who were strongly pro-slavery, but the fact remains that it was Christians acting under Christian inspiration who led the charge.

I don't think any amount of revisionism is going to produce a similar picture for LGBT rights. History is going to judge us harshly.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Now I'm dying to know what it used to say.

"Bibilical ..." (bold mine)
 
Posted by Curiosity killed ... (# 11770) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
It's one of the pleasant bits of fiction that the early 19th century church was all the Clapham Sect, rather than recognizing that for most of the struggle folks like that were regarded as a small group of heretical oddballs.

At least is is a pleasant fact (for the church) that the Clapham Sect led the fight against slavery. Clearly there were other more establishment figures of the Church such as the Bishops of Bristol and Exeter who were strongly pro-slavery, but the fact remains that it was Christians acting under Christian inspiration who led the charge.

I don't think any amount of revisionism is going to produce a similar picture for LGBT rights. History is going to judge us harshly.

Thank you mdijon, that's what I was trying to say.

Crœsos, I realise that I've got a blinkered view of history, based in the UK. I will try to remember to add UK (or England and Wales) to any other comment I make about history in the future.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
I was doing some historical research last year, and was astonished to learn that some of the very people who were most vocal in the anti-slavery movement were most against factory reforms in their own factories at home.

Their reasoning was that reducing hours and limiting child labour would threaten the viability of vulnerable families - so even if the situation was bad, it was better than the alternatives.

These were primarily, but not exclusively, the Quaker industrialists - for complicated historical reasons, they were mostly not part of the ruling classes and instead had much of their capital invested in businesses at home.

Which, I think, just shows how it is possible to be progressive on one issue whilst (apparently) being totally blind on another.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
Lateral leaps, mr cheesy? If that is true, fair and just, why does a similar argument not apply to this? History is full of such stuff. I've quoted Stokeley Carmichael before re racism and feminism.

I have been wondering about justice and pecking order instincts. If your main motivation is to get higher in the pecking order, then justice arguments may serve a useful purpose. Until you get up the ladder. Once you've done that, preserving the new status may seem quite attractive. The notions of justice and categorical imperatives may only go skin deep for some folks.
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
I've often thought one of the saddest episodes of abolition history was when Americo-Liberians, freed slaves following the American Civil war, created almost an apartheid state in Liberia with Americo-Liberians occupying the top rung, other freed British freed slaves intermediate rungs, and local West Africans occupying the lower rungs.

Human nature is pernicious.
 
Posted by Curiosity killed ... (# 11770) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Their reasoning was that reducing hours and limiting child labour would threaten the viability of vulnerable families - so even if the situation was bad, it was better than the alternatives.

The very same debates we are hearing about the introduction of the living wage. (Along with those on wages just above complaining they've lost their increments for responsibility or exxperience.)
 
Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
Standing in a queue, I had a discussion with an Elim minister a few years ago. He was reading a book about Biblical reinterpretation of slavery, the role of women and homosexuality*. He said that the book's view (and his) that although the verses on slavery and the role of women could be reinterpreted, those on homosexuality could not.

I've heard a similar argument made (tentatively and by way of example of one way of reading Scripture, rather than as a personal conviction) by a speaker a Spring Harvest. The rationale was that over the course of Scripture there is some discernible movement towards greater equality between the sexes, and in recognising the common humanity of slaves and slave-owners, but no movement at all, only consistent disapproval, of homosexuality.

I'm not convinced of that as a matter of detail, but I suppose that a case may be made for it. It seems to be to be problematic as a general approach in that it must inherently and necessarily be a rejection of the binding authority of large parts of the Bible without open acknowledgement of that fact, and while purporting to accept the binding authority of the Bible as a whole.

It doesn't work for me. The reason I reject (as authoritative teaching) the apparently sexist parts of the OT is not that I've peeked ahead and know that centuries later an apostle is going to write that in Christ there's no male or female. I reject it because sexism seems to me to be obviously and indefensibly wrong. I can successfully read the Bible as "the story of how people who didn't even know that much encountered God" - and see God's inspiration in anything to mitigate the sexism, but not in the sexism itself. I couldn't successfully read it as saying that it was OK for God to specifically permit forcible marriage (rape) of women captured in war because in a few hundred years later he planned to drop a vague hint that it might not be so great an idea after all. That doesn't work for me. If the Bible contains stuff that isn't right because God was planning to correct it, then the key point - the Bible might contain stuff which, at least on the surface reading, is just wrong, has already been conceded. After that, we can't be certain that the anti-gay stuff is right, either.

This.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
The very same debates we are hearing about the introduction of the living wage. (Along with those on wages just above complaining they've lost their increments for responsibility or exxperience.)

Not really the same argument at all, given at the time there was no social security, NHS etc. That people were dying regularly in industrial accidents and of disease was a direct result of the pay and conditions of the factories the abolitionists owned.
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
It is difficult to see the sins of the present age as history will describe them. My guess (and hope) is that one day the level of global and national inequality we put up with will be regarded with horror. School children reading about it might wonder how we could be so exercised about gender rights and LGBT rights yet so tolerant of such inequality which resulted in millions of needless deaths.

That isn't an argument to stop worrying about misogyny or homophobia by the way, merely against judging past generations by present standards.

[ 06. April 2016, 17:30: Message edited by: mdijon ]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
Standing in a queue, I had a discussion with an Elim minister a few years ago. He was reading a book about Biblical reinterpretation of slavery, the role of women and homosexuality*. He said that the book's view (and his) that although the verses on slavery and the role of women could be reinterpreted, those on homosexuality could not.

I've heard a similar argument made (tentatively and by way of example of one way of reading Scripture, rather than as a personal conviction) by a speaker a Spring Harvest. The rationale was that over the course of Scripture there is some discernible movement towards greater equality between the sexes, and in recognising the common humanity of slaves and slave-owners, but no movement at all, only consistent disapproval, of homosexuality.

I'm not convinced of that as a matter of detail, but I suppose that a case may be made for it. It seems to be to be problematic as a general approach in that it must inherently and necessarily be a rejection of the binding authority of large parts of the Bible without open acknowledgement of that fact, and while purporting to accept the binding authority of the Bible as a whole.

It doesn't work for me. The reason I reject (as authoritative teaching) the apparently sexist parts of the OT is not that I've peeked ahead and know that centuries later an apostle is going to write that in Christ there's no male or female. I reject it because sexism seems to me to be obviously and indefensibly wrong. I can successfully read the Bible as "the story of how people who didn't even know that much encountered God" - and see God's inspiration in anything to mitigate the sexism, but not in the sexism itself. I couldn't successfully read it as saying that it was OK for God to specifically permit forcible marriage (rape) of women captured in war because in a few hundred years later he planned to drop a vague hint that it might not be so great an idea after all. That doesn't work for me. If the Bible contains stuff that isn't right because God was planning to correct it, then the key point - the Bible might contain stuff which, at least on the surface reading, is just wrong, has already been conceded. After that, we can't be certain that the anti-gay stuff is right, either.

This.
Yes, that. I find it difficult to even understand those who speak of such trajectories in Scripture. Slavery was not abolished because of people discerning such a trajectory, but because people became rationally convinced that it was utterly wrong in spite of what the Bible allowed. Same thing with, say, stoning people; it did not become wrong when Jesus defended the woman convicted of adultery. It always had been and people released that on the late. Ditto gay relationships.
 
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
 
Croesos?
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Slavery was not abolished because of people discerning such a trajectory, but because people became rationally convinced that it was utterly wrong in spite of what the Bible allowed.

Most of the clapham sect would have said "because of" rather than "in spite of" the bible. Granted they had a different interpretation but that's the point. My view of LGBT rights is informed by what the bible says about the importance and worth of humanity, not the more homophobic passages.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Slavery was not abolished because of people discerning such a trajectory, but because people became rationally convinced that it was utterly wrong in spite of what the Bible allowed.

Most of the clapham sect would have said "because of" rather than "in spite of" the bible. Granted they had a different interpretation but that's the point. My view of LGBT rights is informed by what the bible says about the importance and worth of humanity, not the more homophobic passages.
Or because you're swimming in a culture that has, rationally, come to see gay people differently, otherwise why would Christians not have caught these hints from the start: they're in the Bible for all to see. Same applies to slavery, IMV, whether the Clapham lot were aware of it or not.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
mdijon

I agree with you. According to Jesus, the more important matters of the law are justice, mercy and faithfulness. Which is why I so detest the "cherry-picking" accusations, the assertions that we set aside the "plain meaning of scripture".

For folks who still give scripture a high, authoritative value, the obligation is to wrestle with this stuff. Particularly if our general sense of what is just, merciful and faithful seems to come into conflict with specific verses. There needs to be a weighing of what is most important.

Of course there are scriptures which strike us as homophobic today. There are also many verses in the Penteteuch, described as uttered by God, which strike us as partial, unjust, cruel. The understandings of what is just and merciful and faithful are themselves on some kind of trajectory in the biblical material. Romans 12, 1 Cor 13, are a thousand years and a thousand miles removed from Joshua 6 and 7. When we think about the biblical material, we have been trying to handle these justice, mercy and faithfulness conundrums for a very long time. And painfully, gradually, partially, moving towards kinder, more loving, less selfish and self-centered understandings. Well, at least some have.

The wresting over this specific issue needs to be seen in the context of that more general movement.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
mdijon

I agree with you. According to Jesus, the more important matters of the law are justice, mercy and faithfulness. Which is why I so detest the "cherry-picking" accusations, the assertions that we set aside the "plain meaning of scripture".

For folks who still give scripture a high, authoritative value, the obligation is to wrestle with this stuff. Particularly if our general sense of what is just, merciful and faithful seems to come into conflict with specific verses. There needs to be a weighing of what is most important.

Of course there are scriptures which strike us as homophobic today. There are also many verses in the Penteteuch, described as uttered by God, which strike us as partial, unjust, cruel. The understandings of what is just and merciful and faithful are themselves on some kind of trajectory in the biblical material. Romans 12, 1 Cor 13, are a thousand years and a thousand miles removed from Joshua 6 and 7. When we think about the biblical material, we have been trying to handle these justice, mercy and faithfulness conundrums for a very long time. And painfully, gradually, partially, moving towards kinder, more loving, less selfish and self-centered understandings. Well, at least some have.

The wresting over this specific issue needs to be seen in the context of that more general movement.

Then, Barnabas, what do you say to people who assert that obviously the loving thing is for gay people to be abstinent, since Paul says so, or that women should keep shtum, or even that slavery is not necessarily unloving or merciless?
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
I'd say that's a pretty obvious misuse of the word 'obviously'!

You haven't been around here for that long, certainly nothing like my 11 years, but feel free to browse around my posts in DH on the various hot button issues, such as biblical inerrancy, the role of women, homosexuality, evolution and creation. You'll find a pretty consistent voice arguing against obscurantism and intolerance. And what I say here I say in RL.

[ 07. April 2016, 09:07: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I'd say that's a pretty obvious misuse of the word 'obviously'!

You haven't been around here for that long, certainly nothing like my 11 years, but feel free to browse around my posts in DH on the various hot button issues, such as biblical inerrancy, the role of women, homosexuality, evolution and creation. You'll find a pretty consistent voice arguing against obscurantism and intolerance. And what I say here I say in RL.

Sorry, I did not mean to doubt that. It was a genuine question, somehow you must appeal to some principle outside the Bible to be able to say that these commandments supersede the "obvious" or "plain" recommendations of St Paul, somehow. I just wondered what they were.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
Well, I come from the nonconformist tradition. As well as being grounded in scripture it places a high value on dissent for reasons of personal conscience. Received wisdom is open to question. In general I think the received wisdom about scripture - that it is perspicuous i.e that its meaning is also plain - is in fact an error. That's a part of the biblical inerrancy argument. In my mind it is a misuse of the biblical material to treat it as a wholecloth. In fact my argument that there are different understandings of justice, mercy, faithfulness, even God Himself to be found in scripture is a scriptural argument. A plain reading demonstrates great diversity.

So what are we to do about that? I argue that we must indeed look for wider, more general, principles to give us some insight into how we treat this essentially diverse material. Then we can do some honest wrestling about what is just, merciful, faithful, loving, humble, kind etc.

It's an argument based on an attempted honest critique of the nature of the biblical material folks use as a source of authoritative opinion. I think some folks strain at a gnat and swallow a camel in the ways they weigh this material. Particularly when considering the freedoms and responsibilities of folks they perceive to be significantly different from themselves.

[ 07. April 2016, 10:49: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Well, I come from the nonconformist tradition. As well as being grounded in scripture it places a high value on dissent for reasons of personal conscience. Received wisdom is open to question. In general I think the received wisdom about scripture - that it is perspicuous i.e that its meaning is also plain - is in fact an error.

Coming from the same tradition as Barnabas, I have often argued that the "perspicuous" theory is in error because it fails to appreciate that the Bible was not written in a vacuum but in a particular cultural context (in fact several); that we readers come from our own, very different, contexts; that the Bible we read today has been subject to the inevitable decisions and biases brought by translators; and that we have been conditioned by the history of Biblical interpretation over many centuries. In other words we can never read the Bible (or any literature) in an entirely objective manner.

However there is a danger in all this as one might end up saying, "In that case there is absolutely no point in reading the Bible as we can never understand it"; clearly I wouldn't want to end up at that point! What needs to happen is partly for Christians to "do the research" as they read the Bible. Also - recognising that many Christians won't do that - preachers and teachers have the heavy responsibility of being good exegetes and appliers of the txt.

[ 07. April 2016, 11:04: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
otherwise why would Christians not have caught these hints from the start: they're in the Bible for all to see.

Because people are complex and selectively blind and even if they weren't the Bible is not easy to read and interpret.

(Obviously [Biased] )

quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Same applies to slavery, IMV, whether the Clapham lot were aware of it or not.

The Clapham lot gave extremely compelling accounts of their own thought processes and motivations which were Christian. It seems quite counter-intuitive to set all that aside on the basis of abstract reasoning. What's more, the culture they swam in was quite pro-slavery.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
The Clapham lot gave extremely compelling accounts of their own thought processes and motivations which were Christian. It seems quite counter-intuitive to set all that aside on the basis of abstract reasoning. What's more, the culture they swam in was quite pro-slavery.

The "culture they swam in" was also quite Christian, in addition to being quite pro-slavery. That's more or less my problem with crediting "the Church" or Christianity generally with opposing or slavery or supporting abolition. Casting it in that way makes it sound like the average English person of the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century was Zoroastrian or something and just needed some righteous Christians to show them The Way™.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
I think that's fair. So far as I can make out, and certainly in the early days of their campaigns, the Christians who were in favour of abolition occupied a place not dissimilar to Tutu's current position re LGBT folks i.e a minority voice, suspected by many to be dangerously unbiblical as well as radical.

My prejudices against comfortable majorities may be showing at this point. But then a number of my nonco forebears met sticky or fiery ends for the discomfort they caused. But then, the minority isn't always right either. As Baptist Trainfan hints, we need to encourage folks to do some honest hard work on these issues, rather than shop around for opinions which suit them.
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Casting it in that way makes it sound like the average English person of the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century was Zoroastrian or something and just needed some righteous Christians to show them The Way™.

It was a simple statement of facts. I don't have any problem acknowledging that the established Church of the day was pro-slavery and did so in my first post on this topic.

What I have a problem with is claiming that the Clapham Sect's inspiration for their stance was anything other than their interpretation of Christianity and that is what I was responding to. It's what they claim for themselves and they set out their reasoning with great lucidity.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
It was a simple statement of facts. I don't have any problem acknowledging that the established Church of the day was pro-slavery and did so in my first post on this topic.

What I have a problem with is claiming that the Clapham Sect's inspiration for their stance was anything other than their interpretation of Christianity and that is what I was responding to. It's what they claim for themselves and they set out their reasoning with great lucidity.

There's a somewhat interesting chicken-and-egg problem here. The details of the mirror image debate have been gone over repeatedly by blogger Fred Clark. A sample:

quote:
That, I think, is the problem with most of our theological and/or historical discussion of American slavery and American “biblical” Christianity. It paints an accurate portrait, but it hangs it wrong-side up. Last week, I discussed what I thought this means for historian Mark Noll’s invaluable writing on what he calls the “theological crisis” of the Civil War:

quote:
The perverse part of that argument and that narrative is this: It asserts that pre-1865 “biblical” Christians approved of slavery because of the way they read their Bibles. That’s not true. That’s the opposite of what is true. Pre-1865 “biblical” Christians read their Bibles the way they did because they approved of slavery.
<snip>

The problem was not that white evangelicals “could not break free of a biblical hermeneutic that led them to support slavery,” but that they were committed to support for slavery and therefore devised and adopted a hermeneutic that allowed and encouraged them to continue doing so.

Their hermeneutic did not lead to support for slavery. Support for slavery led to their hermeneutic.

Italics in original, bolding added by me.

The inverse is possibly true of the Clapham sect; that they didn't oppose slavery because of their interpretation of Christianity but rather they interpreted Christianity the way they did because they opposed slavery. Of course however one parses this particular chicken-and-egg problem the fact remains that the Clapham sect saw their abolitionism and their Christianity as inextricably linked.

Which brings us back around to the argument about anti-gay scriptural passages. The hermeneutic used there is pretty much the same as the Biblical interpretation methodology used by the pro-slavery side of the debate in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly the focus on a narrow, "literal" interpretation of a small group of "clobber texts". Interestingly, despite using the exact same method of Biblical interpretation as the anti-abolitionists almost no anti-gay religious figures today are also pro-slavery. In that one particular instance they're willing to abandon their insistence on "literalism". This lends credence to the idea that most anti-gay people aren't anti-gay because of their interpretation of scripture, they interpret scripture the way they do because they're anti-gay.

[ 10. April 2016, 17:02: Message edited by: Crœsos ]
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
The inverse is possibly true of the Clapham sect; that they didn't oppose slavery because of their interpretation of Christianity but rather they interpreted Christianity the way they did because they opposed slavery.

Yes, if one feels strongly invested in such an idea then I guess it is possibly true but I know of no evidence to support it. Whereas, for instance, Wilberforce's anti slavery activity seemed to directly follow his conversion and be associated with a number of other changes in his life that followed Christian convictions.

quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
This lends credence to the idea that most anti-gay people aren't anti-gay because of their interpretation of scripture, they interpret scripture the way they do because they're anti-gay.

People aren't so mechanically predictable. What one is blind to, one is blind to; and the blindness may sometimes be voluntary and self-serving but is not always so.

I used to feel that scripture was anti-gay and reluctantly accepted that interpretation. I was deeply uncomfortable about it and tried to find various ways of re-interpreting it but couldn't find any of them convincing. Finally I came to believe in a much less literal, less fundamentalist interpretation of scripture in general (weighed down by many contradictions an other areas) and then didn't have a problem any more. I experienced this as an enormous relief.

Of course it's possible that I was subconsciously homophobic (and perhaps still am) and only pretending to want to ditch the interpretation I had, and only pretending regarding the nature of my previous conflict even now. If it suits an a priori view to believe that then fine, but my experience was different.

By the way I don't think any of this makes me less culpable for my views. Sincerity isn't much of a defense. Fortunately I don't think I acted on them or expressed them as I was suitably embarrassed about them.

[ 10. April 2016, 17:15: Message edited by: mdijon ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
most anti-gay people aren't anti-gay because of their interpretation of scripture, they interpret scripture the way they do because they're anti-gay.

I can think of other explanations.

Slavery as depicted in the Bible is quite clearly a human institution. It's not to be found in the Garden of Eden portrayal.

Male and female are portrayed as created characteristics, and the Genesis narrative can readily understood as having sexual implications (which are of necessity heterosexual); Jesus certainly interprets the early chapters of Genesis that way in Matthew 19.

Leaving aside the debates we've had about the implications of this here, I can quite understand that some Christians see a qualitative difference between those two starting points that would create a serious problem of conscience, without that making them simply and brutally "anti-gay". Such a shortcut may suit your position, but it lumps together a whole range of dispositions and motivations.

[x-post]

[ 10. April 2016, 17:23: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
I used to feel that scripture was anti-gay and reluctantly accepted that interpretation. I was deeply uncomfortable about it and tried to find various ways of re-interpreting it but couldn't find any of them convincing. Finally I came to believe in a much less literal, less fundamentalist interpretation of scripture in general (weighed down by many contradictions an other areas) and then didn't have a problem any more. I experienced this as an enormous relief.

Of course it's possible that I was subconsciously homophobic (and perhaps still am) and only pretending to want to ditch the interpretation I had, and only pretending regarding the nature of my previous conflict even now. If it suits an a priori view to believe that then fine, but my experience was different.

Actually I'd say your experience fairly well illustrates my point: discomfort at the implications of a particular hermeneutic method eventually drove you to select another one you were much more comfortable with.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Slavery as depicted in the Bible is quite clearly a human institution.

Debatable. The mis-named Curse of Ham certainly looks like God ordaining the enslavement of certain ethnic groups. And this is not the only instance where we see God decreeing the enslavement of certain people.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
It's not to be found in the Garden of Eden portrayal.

Male and female are portrayed as created characteristics, and the Genesis narrative can readily understood as having sexual implications (which are of necessity heterosexual); Jesus certainly interprets the early chapters of Genesis that way in Matthew 19.

And yet those passages are, if anything, a complete non sequitur on the subject of marriage and divorce (which was theoretically what Jesus was discussing). Adam and Eve weren't married during their time in Eden, at least not in any sense we'd understand the term nor in any sense that would require anything like a divorce.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
The mis-named Curse of Ham certainly looks like God ordaining the enslavement of certain ethnic groups. And this is not the only instance where we see God decreeing the enslavement of certain people.

Whatever one makes of that, unlike male/female and the mention of the "two becoming one flesh", those instances all come quite a long way after The Fall™, which can I think be fairly construed as a qualitative difference, even if it's not one you personally accept.

quote:
And yet those passages are, if anything, a complete non sequitur on the subject of marriage and divorce (which was theoretically what Jesus was discussing). Adam and Eve weren't married during their time in Eden, at least not in any sense we'd understand the term nor in any sense that would require anything like a divorce.
If they are as non-sequiturial (?) as all that, it begs the question of why they are lined up side by side in the mouth of Jesus.

And again, irrespective of what one thinks about that, would it be too generous to admit that people might see a qualitative difference between this rapprochement between the creation of male and female and the estate of marriage by Jesus and the condition of slavery (which off the top of my head I cannot think of Jesus saying anything positive about at all)?

Even if you think this qualitative difference is a result of sloppy thinking, it's rather a jump from there to labelling all such sloppy thinkers as "anti-gay".

[ 10. April 2016, 18:40: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
I don't know. This whole Genesis argument is not the one that was traditionally levelled to condemn 'sodomy.' It's not found in the Fathers, not in any medieval I know, not even in any Reformed theologian; in other words, it's been recently tailored to justify opposition when the old arguments proved ineffective. Only the animus stays the same, the arguments keep shifting.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Let me get this straight. You're arguing that such an argument must be motivated primarily by anti-gay sentiment because it's not patristic enough? When did "considering it on its merits" fall out of fashion?

[ 10. April 2016, 21:21: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
The mis-named Curse of Ham certainly looks like God ordaining the enslavement of certain ethnic groups. And this is not the only instance where we see God decreeing the enslavement of certain people.


Whatever one makes of that, unlike male/female and the mention of the "two becoming one flesh", those instances all come quite a long way after The Fall™, which can I think be fairly construed as a qualitative difference, even if it's not one you personally accept.

But it does take place in a world washed clean by the Great Flood, supposedly to cleanse the earth of the wicked. The old order has been wiped away and humanity can begin again. And one of the first thing that happens is the introduction of slavery.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
And yet those passages are, if anything, a complete non sequitur on the subject of marriage and divorce (which was theoretically what Jesus was discussing). Adam and Eve weren't married during their time in Eden, at least not in any sense we'd understand the term nor in any sense that would require anything like a divorce.
If they are as non-sequiturial (?) as all that, it begs the question of why they are lined up side by side in the mouth of Jesus.
It doesn't "beg the question", I'm asking the question. The story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 does not really seem to justify the conclusions or morals drawn from it. "That is why a man leaves his father and mother . . . " Really? How does that work? Adam didn't "leave his father and mother" for the fairly obvious reason that he had neither. None of the conclusions we're told we're supposed to draw from the narrative seem to logically follow from the story as presented. Some kind of explanation is warranted.

More to the point, there's nothing in there that would lead us to conclude ". . . and that's why homosexuality is evil!" We do however have an explanation as to why Eve was a suitable match for Adam, and what an unsuitable match looks like.

quote:
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky [and a personal trainer]. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals [and the personal trainer he named Steve].

But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

I've added in the bits that are supposed to be there according to currently accepted theology but which the author of Genesis inexplicably left out. At any rate Eve seem to be acceptable not because she was different than Adam but rather because she was a much closer match than "livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals". I would argue that a same-sex match is probably much closer to an opposite-sex match than some sort of relationship involving bestiality.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
And again, irrespective of what one thinks about that, would it be too generous to admit that people might see a qualitative difference between this rapprochement between the creation of male and female and the estate of marriage by Jesus and the condition of slavery (which off the top of my head I cannot think of Jesus saying anything positive about at all)?

Jesus seems to have said exactly as much about slavery as he did about homosexuality: nothing. Interestingly the standard for homosexuality seems to be "if Jesus said nothing then the teaching of the Old Testament remain valid", for some reason the same reasoning isn't usually applied to slavery.

Interestingly though, Jesus does take the time to reiterate the OT premise that Canaanites specifically are an inferior class of person, thus reinforcing the notion of a Curse of Ham. He's approached by a woman from the cursed line of Canaan and refuses to help her twice on the grounds of her accursed lineage. Only after she concedes her inferior status does he agree to help her. That's one of the clearest reinforcements of an Old Testament standard to be found in the New Testament.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Even if you think this qualitative difference is a result of sloppy thinking, it's rather a jump from there to labeling all such sloppy thinkers as "anti-gay".

That's the way such scriptural passages were described in the OP. If you have a problem with the moniker take it up with Eliab.

[ 11. April 2016, 00:13: Message edited by: Crœsos ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Crœsos, thanks for the detailed reply.

quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
But [slavery] does take place in a world washed clean by the Great Flood, supposedly to cleanse the earth of the wicked. The old order has been wiped away and humanity can begin again.

It's not quite all over again though. There are notions of sin and sacrifice right from when Noah steps off the ark.
quote:
The story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 does not really seem to justify the conclusions or morals drawn from it. "That is why a man leaves his father and mother . . . " Really? How does that work? Adam didn't "leave his father and mother" for the fairly obvious reason that he had neither. None of the conclusions we're told we're supposed to draw from the narrative seem to logically follow from the story as presented. Some kind of explanation is warranted.
The way I understand this passage, is that Jesus is saying

a) in a perfect world ('how it was in the beginning'), we'd have people getting married living happily ever after
b) because of our human condition ('hardness of hearts') this is not always the case, so provision was made for divorce in the Mosaic law
c) the Pharisees are wrong to take what was meant as a provision when all else fails in a marriage as a right to be exercised, as inherently positive as the union in the first place.

["for this reason" I think means "because the man found the woman to be the right match for him". The Genesis narrative at that point could indeed be understood as meaning "the right match" in preference to the animals, but in addition, it highlights her difference to Adam as well as her similarity, by virtue of her name, which designates sexual difference: she is a woman and not another man.

(We can argue, and indeed have, about whether that difference matters today in terms of the reproductive function of marriage, but I would contend that in the beginning, this difference was there and significant).

Furthermore, I'd argue that Jesus' use of Genesis in Matthew supports the idea that "male/female difference" is what's important for him, not "difference from the animals". In Matthew, Jesus quotes the verse beginning "for this reason", not after quoting from the "animals" passage, but instead right on the heels of a verse in Genesis from the parallel creation narrative, the one that says God made them "male and female".

For this reason [Biased] it is surely not simply special pleading to suggest on these grounds that sexual difference, and not simply difference from the animals, was part of the raison d'être of marriage uppermost in Jesus' mind.]

quote:
More to the point, there's nothing in there that would lead us to conclude ". . . and that's why homosexuality is evil!"
Agreed, but what we do have is Jesus apparently using the pre-Fall circumstance of Adam and Eve as a kind of benchmark for marital relations, even as he makes allowances for other solutions.
quote:
We do however have an explanation as to why Eve was a suitable match for Adam, and what an unsuitable match looks like.
I have been round this bit of the argument with orfeo somewhere upthread, and again in my excursus above.

I agree the grounds for choosing Eve include the fact that she is not like the animals. However, I'm not convinced her sexual difference is entirely irrelevant, and it is certainly there.

Does this understanding make the Eden account (to borrow your borrowed terminology for a moment) "anti-gay"? Not necessarily. Might it indicate that heterosexuality was there "in the beginning" and not homosexuality, however we address the latter today? Possibly. Might this be the subject of an honest intellectual struggle, and not just an indication of someone casting around for novel arguments to support their fundamental anti-gayness? I would argue that yes, and I am asking for that possibility to be conceded.

quote:
Jesus seems to have said exactly as much about slavery as he did about homosexuality: nothing.
What I am calling into question is whether the parallel between the issues of slavery and sexuality is as direct as you make it out to be above. I agree there are a lot of compelling parallels, but I think the fact that the pre-Fall world has Adam and Eve in it, and that Jesus cites this circumstance, is a significant difference which could be fairly acknowledged as such, even if its implications are disputed or dealt with divergently.

quote:
Interestingly though, Jesus does take the time to reiterate the OT premise that Canaanites specifically are an inferior class of person
The dynamic of what's going on in that passage is, I think, hotly disputed (for instance, whether the Canaanite women is really being forced to grovel, or pulling off game set and match in a rhetorical jousting match), but we can perhaps agree that the end result demonstrates that it it shows that access to the grace of God is open to all, whatever the residual prejudices of the onlookers.

[ 11. April 2016, 06:08: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
discomfort at the implications of a particular hermeneutic method eventually drove you to select another one you were much more comfortable with.

It went on for quite a long time though. For about 15 years I believed that homosexuality was inherently sinful. So while for the last 5 years or so I might illustrate your point very well, I didn't illustrate it all that well for the 15 years before that.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Let me get this straight. You're arguing that such an argument must be motivated primarily by anti-gay sentiment because it's not patristic enough? When did "considering it on its merits" fall out of fashion?

No, I mean the chicken and egg problem is easily solved, the antipathy towards all things gay comes first and generates arguments to bolster itself.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I find that ceasing to suspect opponents' motives is the first step towards meaningful dialogue of any kind on this and many other issues.

Questioning motives can be a neat way of not engaging with the argument.

I don't think that you get that IRL, I'm more "pro-gay" than almost anybody I get to discuss these issues with, and quite minded, should the need arise, to take a "pro-gay" stand, albeit not as "pro" as some here would doubtless wish.

Having objections that crop up around me and which I find at the very least legitimate thrown back in my face as "anti-gay" does not encourage me to do so, though. In fact it positively discourages me.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I find that ceasing to suspect opponents' motives is the first step towards meaningful dialogue of any kind on this and many other issues.

Questioning motives can be a neat way of not engaging with the argument.

I don't think that you get that IRL, I'm more "pro-gay" than almost anybody I get to discuss these issues with, and quite minded, should the need arise, to take a "pro-gay" stand, albeit not as "pro" as some here would doubtless wish.

Having objections that crop up around me and which I find at the very least legitimate thrown back in my face as "anti-gay" does not encourage me to do so, though. In fact it positively discourages me.

I'm not saying that everyone who holds this argument valid is anti-gay and, though I do not know you, don't think you're beastly. I'm merely saying that when, through history, disapproval is a constant whilst the arguments used to articulate it constantly change, one must suspect bias.

In other words, I'm with Fred Clarke quoted above, people delved into the Bible to justify their pro-slavery opinions, now they're doing the same with the gay stuff.

[ 11. April 2016, 07:36: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I find that ceasing to suspect opponents' motives is the first step towards meaningful dialogue of any kind on this and many other issues.

Questioning motives can be a neat way of not engaging with the argument.

Yes.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
In the beginning, the argument was that 'it's unnatural' as Paul said, like having long hair for men or short hair for women, or it corrupts boys (Clement). Then came Sodom and Gomorrah and God destroying countries with quakes because of it (John Chrysostom). Then it became sodomy, because non-reproductive. Then it did not proceed from a necessary complementarity (later RC catechism) and is disordered. Then it's to be condemned because it necessarily takes place outside of marriage, which, according to Gn2, can only be between a man and a woman for all the reasons you listed. The arguments are constantly shifting but the will to condemn is constant. How can one not be forced to conclude that it's the latter that generates the arguments against?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
The arguments are constantly shifting

I'm not really surprised at that, because I freely admit that our interaction with Scripture shifts with our cultural context. How far it can or should shift on any given subject is another whole can of worms!

quote:
but the will to condemn is constant.
I can see how you might conclude that, but to demonstrate a constant will to condemn, you have to first do a proper job of demonstrating why the argument is contrived and/or invalid.

Alleging a "will to condemn" as your first shot makes me, despite my best intentions (honest guv!), suspect that you find the argument put forward difficult to counter.

I can understand oppressed minorities finding it tiresome to repeatedly counter arguments like this, especially if they believe them to be pretexts for a more deep-seated prejudice and bad faith. Indeed, there have been expressions of battle fatigue here (Arabella Purity Winterbottom most recently), but unfortunately this does not dispense with the need for good standards of argument in order to be convincing.

And finally, one could argue the existence of a similarly constant "will to justify". If a christian self-identifies as gay, has searched their heart and conscience on the issue and decided their sexuality is just as legitimate as anyone else's, they are bound to bring that presupposition to their (re)interpretation of Scripture, aren't they?

I'm not convinced either side has the monopoly on that kind of approach. "Wonderful things in the Bible I see, some of them put there by you and by me".

[ 11. April 2016, 09:18: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The way I understand this passage, is that Jesus is saying

a) in a perfect world ('how it was in the beginning'), we'd have people getting married living happily ever after
b) because of our human condition ('hardness of hearts') this is not always the case, so provision was made for divorce in the Mosaic law
c) the Pharisees are wrong to take what was meant as a provision when all else fails in a marriage as a right to be exercised, as inherently positive as the union in the first place.

Actually "in the beginning" was Adam and a series of various animals, if we take the narrative at face value. If the very beginning is supposed to represent "a perfect world", doesn't the later creation of Eve represent a step away from that initial perfection, according to the premises you've stated?

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
["for this reason" I think means "because the man found the woman to be the right match for him". The Genesis narrative at that point could indeed be understood as meaning "the right match" in preference to the animals, but in addition, it highlights her difference to Adam as well as her similarity, by virtue of her name, which designates sexual difference: she is a woman and not another man.

(We can argue, and indeed have, about whether that difference matters today in terms of the reproductive function of marriage, but I would contend that in the beginning, this difference was there and significant).

Actually the gender difference wasn't "there". You (and Jesus) have to C&P a chunk out of the previous chapter to find a bit that highlights the gender difference in newly created humans. Unfortunately this chapter doesn't say anything about humans pair-bonding, just that an undefinedly large group of newly created humans had gender.

We do, however, have the Adam and Eve text tell us what Adam sees as the key reason he and Eve are meant for each other:

quote:
This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh

If we take your reasoning at face value, the key to good pair bonding is to mate only with your own clone. Failing that, some kind of incestuous relationship is most Biblically appropriate, since that would insure similarities of flesh.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Jesus seems to have said exactly as much about slavery as he did about homosexuality: nothing.
What I am calling into question is whether the parallel between the issues of slavery and sexuality is as direct as you make it out to be above.
I think you're missing the point. It's not that the issues are parallel, but rather that the same hermeneutic seems to be at work in the anti-gay arguments of today that was at work in the pro-slavery arguments of the past (legalistic references to various "clobber texts" without reference to context). There seems a massive unwillingness to examine why such a hermeneutic failed so spectacularly in the past and a blithe assurance that whatever caused its massive failure in the past doesn't apply to using the same methodology today.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Interestingly though, Jesus does take the time to reiterate the OT premise that Canaanites specifically are an inferior class of person
The dynamic of what's going on in that passage is, I think, hotly disputed (for instance, whether the Canaanite women is really being forced to grovel, or pulling off game set and match in a rhetorical jousting match), but we can perhaps agree that the end result demonstrates that it it shows that access to the grace of God is open to all, whatever the residual prejudices of the onlookers.
It also seems to demonstrate that, while the grace of God may be open to all, it's more open to some than others. Some folks (descendants of Seth, heterosexuals, etc.) are invited to the metaphorical feast, while others (Canaanites, homosexuals, etc.) are only fit to get the metaphorical crumbs that fall from the equally metaphorical table.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
but the will to condemn is constant.
I can see how you might conclude that, but to demonstrate a constant will to condemn, you have to first do a proper job of demonstrating why the argument is contrived and/or invalid.
It seems a little bit arrogant and a lot like stacking the deck to demand those who are condemned explain why their condemnation is invalid rather than expecting the condemner to have to justify himself. Why shouldn't the one making the argument have to demonstrate it's validity rather than expecting those it condemns to justify their worth?
 
Posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom (# 3434) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I find that ceasing to suspect opponents' motives is the first step towards meaningful dialogue of any kind on this and many other issues.

I will always suspect the motives of those who overtly or covertly desire to exclude me, whatever stage of the process they're at. Particularly when they are being nice. I've been burned badly too many times by "trusting the process."

Eutychus, you're on the side of this debate that holds almost all the power. I'm going to give one example of how this makes it hard to trust. You know the outline of my story.

Towards the end of my church journey, I sought a judicial review of the decision to prevent me from being assessed as a candidate for ministry. I was extremely fortunate that the Assembly decided to test the arguments thoroughly. A retired High Court judge was appointed to hear the case, and at the appointed day we all turned up, including two members of the Human Rights Commission of NZ, who were interested observers.

After listening to all the arguments and reading all the submissions, he came back with a judgment that he could not see any reason in doctrine or practice that would prevent my going through the interview process. He wrote a very detailed decision on why this was so.

The church decided that, rather than wait for the next round of interviews, they would convene a special 3-day process specially for me, with 5 fake candidates as well as me. No pressure!

We went, and I think I acquitted myself well. There was one member of the interview board who wouldn't talk to me, which put me in the position of knowing I would fail because a unanimous decision is required. I asked the panel to address this, but they said, "matter of conscience," and that was that. My heart was very heavy, but I continued on, with the encouragement of all the fake candidates (such a weird situation).

At the end of the three days, I was given a flat "no." No reasons, no explanations, no nothing. I subsequently heard that it was just that one person who stood in my way. One person who had completely refused to engage in "the process," who knew he held all the power.

Why should I trust those who can do that? The panel member who rang me a couple of weeks afterwards to share his own anger about what happened is the only member of that panel I feel any peace towards.

Subsequently, I resigned from my eldership, then from the church. It had been made perfectly plain to me that the "conscience" of one to exclude completely trumped the decision of the other members to include. I'm a human being, not a cartoon cutout. I have feelings, and they were extremely battered by then (after 30 years of trying to make a connection with "the other side").

I was sad about it, but I will never completely trust the motives of anyone in the church, on either side.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

And finally, one could argue the existence of a similarly constant "will to justify". If a christian self-identifies as gay, has searched their heart and conscience on the issue and decided their sexuality is just as legitimate as anyone else's, they are bound to bring that presupposition to their (re)interpretation of Scripture, aren't they?

Bias is always a potential problem for any argument, but it is also a handy escape.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

I'm not convinced either side has the monopoly on that kind of approach. "Wonderful things in the Bible I see, some of them put there by you and by me".

This is why one should examine the overall purpose of the text, rather than lines of text. If God created us all and loves his creations, if Jesus' message of love and acceptance is real; then which side of the argument best fits?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Actually "in the beginning" was Adam and a series of various animals, if we take the narrative at face value. If the very beginning is supposed to represent "a perfect world", doesn't the later creation of Eve represent a step away from that initial perfection, according to the premises you've stated?

Actually, "in the beginning" here was not Adam and a series of various animals. When Jesus uses "in the beginning" in Matthew, he is explicitly referring to "when God created male and female" (before the provision of divorce).

quote:
Actually the gender difference wasn't "there". You (and Jesus) have to C&P a chunk out of the previous chapter
Well, at least I'm in good company exegeting that way. Like I say, if Jesus was happy to do that C&P, I don't think it's an unfair assumption to think that in his mind at least, marriage was between the two sexes. Otherwise there would be no point at all in quoting the earlier passage. Can you suggest an alternative explanation for why he does?

You can make reductio ad absurdum arguments about having to marry your clone, but these will not explain why Jesus chose to quote the "male and female" verse in the explicit context of marriage.

quote:
I think you're missing the point. It's not that the issues are parallel, but rather that the same hermeneutic seems to be at work in the anti-gay arguments of today that was at work in the pro-slavery arguments of the past (legalistic references to various "clobber texts" without reference to context).
No, I get that.

But (whatever one thinks of it) I don't accept that the argument from the early chapters of Genesis falls neatly into that category. Unlike the "clobber texts", there is an appeal to creation, explicitly reprised by Jesus. I'm not saying this is bomb-proof, but I don't think it can be dispensed with quite so easily. And my parallel for this line of thinking is the various arguments about complementarianism, not slavery.

quote:
It also seems to demonstrate that, while the grace of God may be open to all, it's more open to some than others. Some folks (descendants of Seth, heterosexuals, etc.) are invited to the metaphorical feast, while others (Canaanites, homosexuals, etc.) are only fit to get the metaphorical crumbs that fall from the equally metaphorical table.
I think the currency of the Kingdom of God is grace not rights, for everyone. We are all fit only to get metaphorical crumbs, but in the grace of God we get a seat at the table.

In a church context, I don't go round bashing people on the head to remind them they are miserable sinners, but I do spend a lot of time reiterating that we are all beneficiaries of God's grace and not possessed of any particular entitlements when it comes to being accepted. You may feel this is simply a sneaky way of maintaining the status quo, but locally at least, I think it has actually changed the latter over time.
quote:
It seems a little bit arrogant and a lot like stacking the deck to demand those who are condemned explain why their condemnation is invalid rather than expecting the condemner to have to justify himself. Why shouldn't the one making the argument have to demonstrate it's validity rather than expecting those it condemns to justify their worth?
I agree the situation is unfair. As I said to lilbuddha some time ago, though, it is also unfair to use the unfairness as a kind of rhetorical judo hold.

I was not suggesting the "condemners" be exempt from demonstrating the validity of their arguments, but saying (to Joesaphat) that starting by accusing the condemners of bad faith in preference to doing so was not persuasive or conducive to discussion.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Arabella, I recall your story and it is truly saddening. Realistically, there is perhaps always going to be some doubt about motives on either side; my comment in the context of this thread was in relation to something Joesaphat said earlier which I have addressed again above.

(You may have noticed I also quoted you as an example of battle-weariness. That wasn't intended as a slight).

Lilbuddha, also as outlined above, my take on "Jesus' overall teaching" is that, in terms of a church community, the overriding message is one of acceptance based on grace not rights. Which is related to my belief in some sort of "Fall", which I think the debate in Purgatory has demonstrated cannot simply be consigned to the "Jesus riding a dinosaur" category, even if there is quite some disagreement about it.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
You're in very strange company exegeting that way, actually, Eutychus. The arguments you put forward are the very same that the Council of Trent used to counter the Protestant view that marriage was not a sacrament because it lacked a clear institution in Scripture (as the 39 articles still hold). They came up with this: marriage was literally instituted in paradise. It's quite a sight to see all the protestant churches now making use of this argument.

Also the arguments are not difficult to refute at all. Even if I were to grant that what Croesos wrote is wrong, even if one were to completely overlook the fact that sexual dimorphism is but an evolutionary adaptation, it's still difficult to see why because something is said to be so in the beginning in some mythical fable it ought to be so for all ages. Hume's naturalistic fallacy in all its splendour.

And yes, you're definitely stacking the deck in asking gay people to justify themselves.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
Furthermore, there has not been a constant will to justify coming from the gay community: we were burned if we tried, from Theodosius' reign onwards or suffered huge legal penalties more recently. People are still condemned to death for it in many countries or strung up by the mob. I'll repeat my argument however: the church has used very different reasons to blame homosexuality through the ages which should make us suspect that it has tried to justify its hatred rather than come to its position through dispassionate study of Scripture.

The church sounds every bit like my grandma:
'I don't like your new girlfriend, she's after your money'
-Can't see why, her family's loaded.
'She looks shifty.'
-She's a human rights lawyer
'She's foreign. Why did you have to pick someone foreign.
-You're a foreigner too
Is not the same thing, I don't like your new girlfriend.

Yea, the church sounds like a Spanish grandmother.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
You're in very strange company exegeting that way, actually, Eutychus. The arguments you put forward are the very same that the Council of Trent used to counter the Protestant view that marriage was not a sacrament because it lacked a clear institution in Scripture (as the 39 articles still hold). They came up with this: marriage was literally instituted in paradise. It's quite a sight to see all the protestant churches now making use of this argument.

Noticing the same passage is by no means proof of exegeting it the same way.

It's been observed that Jesus mentions God creating male and female in the specific context of marriage. The question is why? A question made if anything more pressing by the fact that he lined up excerpts from two separate passages to do so. Howling that the Council of Trent noticed the same passage does not an explanation make.

quote:
it's still difficult to see why because something is said to be so in the beginning in some mythical fable it ought to be so for all ages.
Jesus referred to how things were in the beginning, explicitly acknowledged that things no longer were that way, and also that provision should be made accordingly. That's precisly where I stand, too.
quote:
And yes, you're definitely stacking the deck in asking gay people to justify themselves.
It's pretty normal to ask people to offer support for their arguments, especilly if invective is offered as a substitute; nowhere have I insisted any category do so any more than any other.

What I did say is that arguments deserve to be treated on their merits, not dismissed on the sole grounds of being (as you thought) wholly innovative, or concealing a "constant will to condemn". There is no fruitful discussion that way on either side.

[x-post, but I think what I said still applies in the wake of your second]

[ 12. April 2016, 06:47: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
"It's been observed that Jesus mentions God creating male and female in the specific context of marriage. The question is why?"

He is mentioning it in the specific context of repudiation, but never mind. Why? Because there was no other type of marriage around. It is you who's arguing that there 'cannot' be other types of marriage 'because' Jesus said so. Again, you're deriving an ought from an is. Just because it was the case does not mean it ought to be the case.

If I were a betting man, I'd venture to say that our Lord never meant to offer a definition of marriage. He was offering a classic rabbinical rebuttal (binyan av min she ktuvim) no different from Shammai's in the Mishna: there can only be repudiation in cases of blatant adultery, although Shammai uses two other verse to justify his position on a third. Nothing more. It probably was worthy of note as in so many other places Jesus sided with Hillel and his school. Why do you see in there a definition of what marriage should be like today or that it should be confined to male/female pairings? What Christ had in mind was the acquisition of a woman from her dad. Should that too be normative? Or the fact that only men can initiate divorce, or more accurately repudiation (get)?

[ 12. April 2016, 07:12: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
The above is not invective, by the way. And I did not dismiss your arguments as innovative at all. How can you read my reaction like that? I said that they were actually quite traditional. It's just odd to read protestants making use of Tridentine doctrines, that's all. It's even odder that those who advocate for same-sex marriages are getting rapped on the knuckles by the CofE for pointing out that there is no clear institution of marriage in Scripture, it being one of those 'five commonly called Sacraments, that... are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles,... for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.'
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat (emphasis mine):
He is mentioning it in the specific context of repudiation, but never mind. Why? Because there was no other type of marriage around.

That doesn't make sense. If male/female marriage was so obvious as to be unobservable, or an insignificant detail, why on earth did Jesus leap across a whole chapter of Genesis specifically to include the male/female verse - especially if, as orfeo and others have pointed out, it has nothing to do with marriage in the original context?

I cannot escape the conclusion that the male/female aspect was significant, at least for him.

(NB I have said nothing about "mustery" or "oughtery", and neither, tellingly, did Jesus here).
quote:
It is you who's arguing that there 'cannot' be other types of marriage 'because' Jesus said so.
I am? Show me where.

quote:
If I were a betting man, I'd venture to say that our Lord never meant to offer a definition of marriage.
I wouldn't necessarily bet against you, but I think his lining up those passages says something about what he thought about it.
quote:
Why do you see in there a definition of what marriage should be like today or that it should be confined to male/female pairings?
What makes you think I do?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
The above is not invective, by the way.

No, no, that's all fine [Smile] I was referring to the "constant will to condemn", a little hyperbolically to be sure, but I didn't find it helpful (even if there may often be, alas, some truth in it). I probably took it too personally. To the best of my conscience, I don't have that will, honestly.
quote:
And I did not dismiss your arguments as innovative at all. How can you read my reaction like that? I said that they were actually quite traditional.
I was responding to what you posted here where as far as I can see, you claimed they were a) innovative b) not traditional at all c) they were suspect as a result of a) and b)!
quote:
This whole Genesis argument is not the one that was traditionally levelled to condemn 'sodomy.' It's not found in the Fathers, not in any medieval I know, not even in any Reformed theologian; in other words, it's been recently tailored to justify opposition when the old arguments proved ineffective.
Did you not?
quote:
It's even odder that those who advocate for same-sex marriages are getting rapped on the knuckles by the CofE for pointing out that there is no clear institution of marriage in Scripture, it being one of those 'five commonly called Sacraments, that... are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles,... for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.'
I feel under no compunction to defend the CoE's position. I don't think marriage is a sacrament, and I don't think its institution is anywhere near as self-evident from Scripture as a lot of people would like to think.

But (you knew this was too good to last... [Biased] ) I do see male and female in the early chapters of Genesis.

I really don't have much more to say about that right now than I already have. I need to actually do some w*rk for once, and I would like some breathing space to think more about how grace and rights interface.
 
Posted by balaam (# 4543) on :
 
That passages about procreation mention male and female would be no surprise to anyone. That they say anything at all about same sex relationships, pro or anti, is a bit of a leap on the dark.

As for Jesus going back to this verse, he was answering a question about male female divorce, and that is the context. That alone, with nothing at all about same sex relationships, is the context of Jesus words. It is not anti gay, it is not pro gay, it does not mention gay at all.

The mentioning of male and female by Jesus is answered by the context. A question about can a man divorce his wife. That is it, nothing more, nothing less.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by balaam:
The mentioning of male and female by Jesus is answered by the context. A question about can a man divorce his wife. That is it, nothing more, nothing less.

That is the best objection to the line of thinking I have presented that I can see (I thought of it independently during the time between when I posted and you did!), but I'm still not sure it's entirely persuasive.

If (in the context of divorce) Jesus was quoting Scripture to highlight the existence of both man and wife (presumably to defend the latter's rights in particular in the context of marriage), it seems to me that quoting Gen 2:24, which already mentions both man and wife, would have been enough.

Since he already had Gen 2:24 in mind, why did Jesus need to reach for Gen 1:27, "male and female he created them", as well? What does it add (if all he is doing is acknowledging that marriages in his day involved a man and a wife)?

Many here have strenuously argued that Gen 1:27 has nothing to do with marriage*, (so far as I can see in order to put as much clear blue water as possible between "male and female" and "marriage"). The passage in Matthew 19 presents a real problem in this respect. If this verse has nothing to do with marriage, why does Jesus drag it in here?

Worse still, not only does he explicitly link this verse with Gen 2:24, by extending the quote to include the words "for this reason", he appears to makes it the grounds for Gen 2:24, understood (from the context in Matthew) as referring to marriage.

Alternative explanations for this text in Matthew can be put forward, but like I said, I don't think this passage falls into Croesos' category of "clobber texts" and I think it is much more difficult to deal with than the texts put forward to justify slavery.

==

*I wrote a long summary of how I understand the arguments framed along these lines, hit the wrong button and lost my entire post, so you are spared it.

[ 12. April 2016, 09:22: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Cottontail (# 12234) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
If (in the context of divorce) Jesus was quoting Scripture to highlight the existence of both man and wife (presumably to defend the latter's rights in particular in the context of marriage), it seems to me that quoting Gen 2:24, which already mentions both man and wife, would have been enough.

Since he already had Gen 2:24 in mind, why did Jesus need to reach for Gen 1:27, "male and female he created them", as well? What does it add (if all he is doing is acknowledging that marriages in his day involved a man and a wife)?

When Jesus 'reached for' Genesis 1:27, what I think he is doing is reminding his male listeners that women as well as men are made in God's image. What it 'adds' is an assertion of radical worth and equality that is at the base of the woman's rights in respect to marriage.

This equality of worth is God's ideal, and how it was 'in the beginning'. However in practice, as the question on divorce shows, women are being regarded as very much lesser than men. Their husbands can treat them abominably and leave them destitute, all entirely legally. By quoting Genesis 1:27, Jesus is asserting as a base line the worth and equality of the women who are being so abused here by those who are thinking only of their own rights, or - almost worse - who are treating it as an academic discussion with no thought to the devastating consequences of divorce for women. To me, the 'in the beginning' that Jesus is so concerned to address here is not a male-female ontology of marriage, but the equality of women in the eyes of God.

In essence, I read Jesus as saying something like: "In the beginning, men and women were created equal in worth and dignity. But with all your quibbling about divorce, you have forgotten that your wife is made in the image of God, and has full worth in God's eyes. Especially in a society which treats women in general so badly, her marriage should be a place of dignity and safety for her. You are meant to honour and cherish her as you honour and cherish your own self, and you cannot throw her out any more than you can throw out your own body. When two become one in marriage, they do so as equal halves of a whole, and you do not get to treat her as disposable."
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Cottontail:
In essence, I read Jesus as saying something like: "In the beginning, men and women were created equal in worth and dignity. But with all your quibbling about divorce, you have forgotten that your wife is made in the image of God, and has full worth in God's eyes. Especially in a society which treats women in general so badly, her marriage should be a place of dignity and safety for her. You are meant to honour and cherish her as you honour and cherish your own self, and you cannot throw her out any more than you can throw out your own body. When two become one in marriage, they do so as equal halves of a whole, and you do not get to treat her as disposable."

That's the most important thing I see there. The irony is that this essential plea for fair treatment for wives was turned into an absolute indissolubility "prison" for many women. It seems to get overlooked that it was a fundamental criticism of the social unfairness of divorce (either Shammai or Hillel version) in that 1st century Jewish context.

In general, all of Jesus' ethical teaching needs to be seen in the context of "setting at liberty those who are oppressed, proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord" (sometimes known as the Luke 4 agenda). In my nonco context, we say that Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. That may make us a bit too suspicious of "comfortable majorities". But when it comes to being fair to those who are marginalised for any reason, if it is an error, it is an error on the right side.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Great explanation.
quote:
Originally posted by Cottontail:
This equality of worth is God's ideal, and how it was 'in the beginning'.

We are very clearly not "in the beginning" any more.

The Church in general very often fails to address this state of affairs with any pastoral sensitivity, wrongly seeks to put some form of "purity" above "inclusion" (sometimes at the cost of people's lives, either through fuelling persecution or by suicide of the desperate), wrongfully discriminates, and obsesses over people's sexuality when there are far more pressing matters at hand. All of this is disastrous, sometimes literally and fatally so for the oppressed.

All that said, and reiterating that we are no longer "in the beginning" and have to live in the light of that, I still find it difficult not to see 'male and female' in the context of sexual union as being part of God's ideal as it was 'in the beginning'; an ideal which recognises equal worth all the more so in that it is amid an essential difference.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Sorry, the "great explanation" credit was to Cottontail (not that you had nothing worth saying, Barnabas!)
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
No probs. For me as well, Cottontail's post had very high value.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

Lilbuddha, also as outlined above, my take on "Jesus' overall teaching" is that, in terms of a church community, the overriding message is one of acceptance based on grace not rights.

I'll be honest here in saying I'm not really sure what this means in regards to this topic.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

Which is related to my belief in some sort of "Fall", which I think the debate in Purgatory has demonstrated cannot simply be consigned to the "Jesus riding a dinosaur" category, even if there is quite some disagreement about it.

Taking the "fall" literally is putting a lot of pressure on a transcription of a per-literate, Bronze Age general account.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I agree the situation is unfair. As I said to lilbuddha some time ago, though, it is also unfair to use the unfairness as a kind of rhetorical judo hold.

How is it unfair? We have this notion that all debates are on equal ground when this is not true. Take climate change: every debate you see presents both sides on equal footing, when the reality is that they are not. If you want "fair" in that debate, you would have hundreds or thousands of debaters representing human-caused climate change and one denier. This is more representative of reality and therefore actually more fair.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

I was not suggesting the "condemners" be exempt from demonstrating the validity of their arguments, but saying (to Joesaphat) that starting by accusing the condemners of bad faith in preference to doing so was not persuasive or conducive to discussion.

Whilst I agree that tone influences reception, it is not the best reason to ignore the argument.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

Alternative explanations for this text in Matthew can be put forward, but like I said, I don't think this passage falls into Croesos' category of "clobber texts" and I think it is much more difficult to deal with than the texts put forward to justify slavery.

Why? Jesus was speaking of divorce. The bible has many examples of marriage that do not fit what his teaching of divorce, so he went to the one that did. To pull any prohibition on homosexuality on this is stretching.
And tell me why do Christians fail to recognise this part of the same speech:
quote:
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Not to mention Paul, who was even less pro-marriage.
When the church decided to embrace marriage, it did so with an enthusiasm which is decidedly counter to this.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
I think you're missing the point. It's not that the issues are parallel, but rather that the same hermeneutic seems to be at work in the anti-gay arguments of today that was at work in the pro-slavery arguments of the past (legalistic references to various "clobber texts" without reference to context).

No, I get that.

But (whatever one thinks of it) I don't accept that the argument from the early chapters of Genesis falls neatly into that category. Unlike the "clobber texts", there is an appeal to creation, explicitly reprised by Jesus. I'm not saying this is bomb-proof, but I don't think it can be dispensed with quite so easily. And my parallel for this line of thinking is the various arguments about complementarianism, not slavery.

I'm not sure you do get it. Or if you do you seem determined to leave the question completely unaddressed. You give no reason as to why this hermeneutic of legalistic clobber texts is applicable in "the early chapters of Genesis" (by which you mean some conflation of chapters 1 and 2 cribbed together to get the desired result) but the same method is invalid when applied to chapter 9 of Genesis. Where exactly does the dividing line occur that separates "the early chapters of Genesis" where a proof-text based conclusion is perfectly valid (God hates fags!) and the rest of the Bible where such reasoning gives the "wrong" answer (certain races are meant to be enslaved)? I'm guessing it's somewhere between chapters 2 and 9, but is there any reason for suddenly changing how Biblical interpretation is done other than a personal like for one conclusion and a dislike of the other?

In short, why can't we use the same methodology to assess the validity of slavery that you're applying to assessing the validity of other people's loves?

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
It also seems to demonstrate that, while the grace of God may be open to all, it's more open to some than others. Some folks (descendants of Seth, heterosexuals, etc.) are invited to the metaphorical feast, while others (Canaanites, homosexuals, etc.) are only fit to get the metaphorical crumbs that fall from the equally metaphorical table.
I think the currency of the Kingdom of God is grace not rights, for everyone. We are all fit only to get metaphorical crumbs, but in the grace of God we get a seat at the table.
Unless you're a homosexual or a Canaanite. If you're going to insist on a literalist and legalist interpretation of scripture passages in isolation, that's the conclusion we're forced to reach. Jesus never disagrees with the Canaanite woman that the grace she'll receive is lesser than that available to an Israelite. What happened to your literal hermeneutic of interpreting texts in isolation? This passage would seem to reinforce the previous passage from Genesis about Canaanites being inferior persons to Israelites, but you abandon your methodology.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
In a church context, I don't go round bashing people on the head to remind them they are miserable sinners, but I do spend a lot of time reiterating that we are all beneficiaries of God's grace and not possessed of any particular entitlements when it comes to being accepted. You may feel this is simply a sneaky way of maintaining the status quo, but locally at least, I think it has actually changed the latter over time.

Not at all! I don't think it's that sneaky, and I don't think it's to maintain a status quo. Since you asked after my opinion, it seems more like using a scriptural gloss to reach the "right" conclusions, as pre-determined by some other method.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
A quick reply to libuddha: I think I have dealt with the answers to some of these questions already (the Fall has spawned an entire Purgatory thread!); answers to some others (grace and rights, what the rest of Mt 19 might mean) are going to require more time and thought than I have available over the next few days.

[ 12. April 2016, 15:58: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
And a quick one to Croesus:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
I'm guessing it's somewhere between chapters 2 and 9, but is there any reason for suddenly changing how Biblical interpretation is done other than a personal like for one conclusion and a dislike of the other?

I'm not sure about the wording of your objection (it seems to me you've got "not clobber texts" and "clobber texts" mixed up) but the short answer is Genesis 3 circa verse 7. In the narrative, everything changes around then.

Sorry, but no more time now, except for more thought.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
All that said, and reiterating that we are no longer "in the beginning" and have to live in the light of that, I still find it difficult not to see 'male and female' in the context of sexual union as being part of God's ideal as it was 'in the beginning'; an ideal which recognises equal worth all the more so in that it is amid an essential difference.

For a lot of reasons I'm highly skeptical of asserting both "equal worth" and the inherent superiority (at least in the eyes of God) of heterosexuals over homosexuals. It puts me in mind of a speech by Frederick Douglass on another topic.

quote:
At the South I was a member of the Methodist Church. When I came north, I thought one Sunday I would attend communion, at one of the churches of my denomination, in the town I was staying. The white people gathered round the altar, the blacks clustered by the door. After the good minister had served out the bread and wine to one portion of those near him, he said, "These may withdraw, and others come forward;" thus he proceeded till all the white members had been served. Then he took a long breath, and looking out towards the door, exclaimed, "Come up, colored friends, come up! for you know God is no respecter of persons!" I haven't been there to see the sacraments taken since.
It goes on from there and is well worth the read.
 
Posted by Leaf (# 14169) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
We are very clearly not "in the beginning" any more.

Of course we are in the beginning! We are in the beginning, and in the middle, and at the end, all at once and at the same time.

If that sounds somewhat gnomic, I apologize. But the concept of time as it relates to Scripture is keeps cropping up in this discussion (and perhaps this belongs on the Fall thread in Purg).

I do not read the Genesis account as saying Something Happened, but rather Something Happens. It is a way of making sense of the beauty and pain in creation, and reconciling them with a loving and eternal God. Genesis explains why things are the way they are, and Who is with us as we are celebrating or coping with the way things are.

Reading Genesis as "Something Happens" also makes it accessible to an evolutionary understanding of creation. A loving and eternal God is present as things evolve in their beauty and pain, with the rise of life and the fall of death.

God is not bound by our understandings of time. We think it's linear; God appears to beg to differ. So creation is now, suffering is now, redemption is now, completion is now.

To visualize time in Scripture as only linear and sequential is, to me, like a child's drawing of a bullet heading straight for Neo in "The Matrix", with helpful dotted lines showing where it came from and where it will hit. Yes, if you visualize it that way, there is a certain logic and eventuality to it. But it is so much more complex and multidimensional.

Re the Matthew verse, I read it as Jesus affirming that God intends there to be love and unity between a couple. God also knows that Shit Happens, and so allowed Moses to allow divorce. It appears to be envisioned as something like chemotherapy, a destructive and painful but least-bad alternative to further deterioration, along with the hope that abundant life might happen beyond it.

"But it was not so at the beginning" speaks of God's intent for healthy relationships. I don't see that this verse has much to do with genitals, reproduction, or even whether a couple is same-sex or opposite-sex. All couples start out with the best of intentions, and then find that they have to cope with whatever 'serpent' or 'tumor' attacks their relationship.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
All that said, and reiterating that we are no longer "in the beginning" and have to live in the light of that, I still find it difficult not to see 'male and female' in the context of sexual union as being part of God's ideal as it was 'in the beginning'; an ideal which recognises equal worth all the more so in that it is amid an essential difference.

For a lot of reasons I'm highly skeptical of asserting both "equal worth" and the inherent superiority (at least in the eyes of God) of heterosexuals over homosexuals. It puts me in mind of a speech by Frederick Douglass on another topic.

quote:
At the South I was a member of the Methodist Church. When I came north, I thought one Sunday I would attend communion, at one of the churches of my denomination, in the town I was staying. The white people gathered round the altar, the blacks clustered by the door. After the good minister had served out the bread and wine to one portion of those near him, he said, "These may withdraw, and others come forward;" thus he proceeded till all the white members had been served. Then he took a long breath, and looking out towards the door, exclaimed, "Come up, colored friends, come up! for you know God is no respecter of persons!" I haven't been there to see the sacraments taken since.
It goes on from there and is well worth the read.

I'm not highly sceptical, it turns my stomach. 'Y'all gay people, why so upset? We're all broken.' Except we're supposed to be broken in the way we show love. What's for others a beautiful sacrament and God's ideal 'in the beginning' is the place where where the Fall hit us. They're quite able to comply with the greatest commandment in their coupled relationships, but we fail right there, from the start. No thanks. It's enough to drive me away from Christianity altogether. And I think I'll stop debating.
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
That is the best objection to the line of thinking I have presented that I can see (I thought of it independently during the time between when I posted and you did!), but I'm still not sure it's entirely persuasive.

I'm not sure any detailed theological exposition is entirely persuasive. Which is why I would not wish to base condemnation of same sex marriage on any of them. I'd want to be really sure of my ground before I did that. Are you so very sure on this passage?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
I'm not sure any detailed theological exposition is entirely persuasive. Which is why I would not wish to base condemnation of same sex marriage on any of them. I'd want to be really sure of my ground before I did that. Are you so very sure on this passage?

As far as I'm concerned, I don't condemn same-sex marriage, but that hasn't stopped my thinking being represented as doing so.

As to the passage and the line of thinking I've put forward, I'm not personally wholly sure, but neither am I wholly convinced by the alternative explanations.

From where I'm sitting and as already explained, in pastoral terms this issue is an area for compromises to be worked out. Some feel compromise and mutual concessions are possible and acceptable, some clearly don't; some have stories to tell explaining why they don't.

From experience I have learned that even when one takes the greatest care in wording posts here, they can be misinterpreted or sometimes misrepresented, as well as legitimately challenged.

For now, I feel as though I've got as far on thrashing out my ideas as I can in this context.

When I have something more to say, and the appropriate time and energy to devote to saying it, I'll do my best to do so.
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
OK, not condemn, but you do think SSM is wrong and you are prepared to say and teach that publicly.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
You may not condemn outright but you describe a state of affairs where some mythical original 'plan' pretty much describes a ordinary family, married mum, dad (and kids? be fruitful and multiply is a commandment from the beginning) with everything else referred to as ‘complex’, ‘imperfect’ or the result of ‘human weakness’.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
OK, not condemn, but you do think SSM is wrong and you are prepared to say and teach that publicly.

That's news to me.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
You may not condemn outright but you describe a state of affairs where some mythical original 'plan' pretty much describes a ordinary family, married mum, dad (and kids? be fruitful and multiply is a commandment from the beginning) with everything else referred to as ‘complex’, ‘imperfect’ or the result of ‘human weakness’.

I can really tell you've been to a few weddings I've conducted too [Roll Eyes]

I'm not going to be drawn into restating my position right now, but I and those close to me IRL (I've checked) completely fail to recognise this description.

[ 13. April 2016, 20:48: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
Eutychus, I've reread your posts on this thread and I can honestly say that I'm now confused as to what you do think.

A lot of the discussion is predicated on the assumption that you don't think SSM is right or should be encouraged from Christian point of view. You site misrepresentation on a number of occasions but I don't really get a sense of what your view actually is.

I'm now at the point where I if you think SSM is actually OK for a Christian after all then I wonder what the argument is about.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
At this point I'm still resisting being drawn into a longer explanation beyond what I've already posted.

The most concise explanation of my position I can find on this thread is here, followed just afterwards by here.

You can take it that what I mean by "accommodation" here may include blessing a SSM* (all marriages here being civil, and re-iterating what I have already said, contra Joesaphat, that I do not believe marriage to be a sacrament).

I note that while differences between he and I remain, orfeo says immediately after this post that he "can live with" this stance of accommodation; I recorded my happiness that he and I had reached a position we could both at least live with.

quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
I'm now at the point where I if you think SSM is actually OK for a Christian after all then I wonder what the argument is about.

Discussions of Genesis and its implications aside, I think the argument is, essentially, about whether any form of "accommodation" is liveable-with.

==

* "may include" because
a) it includes and is not limited to
b) it does not entail automatic blessing of any SSM. Any more than I would consider the automatic church blessing of any different-sex marriage.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
At this point I'm still resisting being drawn into a longer explanation beyond what I've already posted.

The most concise explanation of my position I can find on this thread is here, followed just afterwards by here.

You can take it that what I mean by "accommodation" here may include blessing a SSM* (all marriages here being civil, and re-iterating what I have already said, contra Joesaphat, that I do not believe marriage to be a sacrament).

I note that while differences between he and I remain, orfeo says immediately after this post that he "can live with" this stance of accommodation; I recorded my happiness that he and I had reached a position we could both at least live with.

quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
I'm now at the point where I if you think SSM is actually OK for a Christian after all then I wonder what the argument is about.

Discussions of Genesis and its implications aside, I think the argument is, essentially, about whether any form of "accommodation" is liveable-with.

==

* "may include" because
a) it includes and is not limited to
b) it does not entail automatic blessing of any SSM. Any more than I would consider the automatic church blessing of any different-sex marriage.

So yea, you do not condemn outright, I'll grant you that, but I cannot, for the life of me, see where I went wrong when I wrote that you describe an archetypal 'plan' for marriage in Eden, which is dad and mum becoming one flesh with everything else referred to as, ok not as imperfect, my memory failed me, but as an accommodation, due to life in a fallen world as you said a few commentaries later.

Still, no thanks. Most of the people I've met who read the Bible like that envisage 'real marriage' (TM) as therefore mirroring the love that Christ has for his church, as Paul said, for in its pristine form it is willed so by God and instituted as such, man and woman are literally 'created', made for each other

and the rests a pale copy, which may at best be allowed in a broken society this side of Eden... So: on the one side, an image of divine love, on the other an accommodation for some among fallen humankind. No thanks.
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
Also, Eutychus, does it not necessarily follow from what you say that straight, undiluted marriage is 'God's plan' as revealed in Scripture, and the rest a consequence of fallenness, that is to say, something God tries to heal, something he died to remedy on the cross?

Your words are much kinder, but (and do feel free to explain), I cannot see how different your view is from the pope's, who recently wrote: 'there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.'

[ 14. April 2016, 07:10: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
and the rests a pale copy, which may at best be allowed in a broken society this side of Eden...

As far as I'm concerned, everything this side of Eden is a pale copy, and will be until the eschaton (at which point the whole issue of marriage will be moot whether you're gay or straight).

Insinuating that I see (Joesaphat's term) Real Marriage™ as somewhow exempt from this, bringing Eden and divine perfection into the present day, such that hetero couples can legitimately be all smug, happily and self-righteously mirroring God while occasionally magnanimously throwing a few crumbs to the pale copy Canaanite gays to make sure they stay, not just firmly below the salt but away from the table altogether, is typical, mdijon, of what I mean by being misrepresented.

[x-post]

[ 14. April 2016, 07:13: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Your words are much kinder, but (and do feel free to explain), I cannot see how different your view is from the pope's, who recently wrote: 'there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.'

In view of your kinder words, I'll allow myself a brief answer to this.

I don't agree there are "absolutely no grounds". Pastorally, I think it's a mistake to think in terms of absolutes. The pope might have some theological arguments, but pastorally, his words are a slap in the face to many. I think the biggest problem for catholics is their sacramental view of marriage. (Although this doesn't stop a catholic church of my acquaintance blessing same-sex marriages).

I might conceivably consider thinking in terms of "God's plan for marriage and family", but I think life today is largely about making a best approximation to that, whether one is gay or straight, and I don't rule out SSM being a best approximation in some cases.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
Well, Eutychus is a pastor. I am as sure as sure can be that he has seen marriages between a man and a woman which started off as a very cracked reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church - and then got worse. Indeed, in the absence of a real commitment to leaving and cleaving, and because like him I do not think marriage is a sacrament (it is a covenant) I'm not sure what is going on. In the Catholic context, for example, I think the present Pope recognises that a very high proportion of apparently Real Marriages are not real at all because of insincerity and/or ignorance. Marriage is a journey which tests the sincerity of the professed love. Is there agape or merely eros? Will the selfishness of one partner or another or both eventually hollow out the best intentions?

Where I may differ from Eutychus now (and it might have been different a few years ago) is simply in the use of the word 'marriage'. It no longer bothers me if the hopeful journey of a couple engaging in a lifetime commitment is called a marriage, regardless of gender. The journey from eros to agape is a difficult one in any case and I do think couples should be encouraged to recognise that at the outset. The old words 'not lightly or ill-advisedly' ring true whatever the gender of the participants. When a marriage is faithful, committed and expresses unselfish love, it does in some way reflect the love Christ has for the church. I think it can do that. Or fall short of doing that. Regardless of the gender of the participants. So I don't see why we shouldn't describe these hopeful, far from flawless, journeys, these reverent 'experiments in commitment', using the same word.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
An obvious cross-post!
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
Eutychus I won't quote specific portions because I don't want to appear to be (or even to in fact to be) taking words out of context.

I still struggle to see what the point you draw from Genesis is then. If you may bless SSM on the same conditionality that you would HSM, then is there any practical or other importance of the argument based on Genesis or any other theological point of distinction between SSM and HSM?
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
I suppose it is whether you regard the gender as just as important as the aloneness, the leaving and the cleaving. Or whether you can see that aloneness, the leaving and the cleaving can and do apply, regardless of the gender. Is it not good for man (the males of the species) to be alone, or is "man" simply representative of all of humanity, regardless of gender?

I'm not an expert in the philosophical field, but maybe the arguments relating to substance and accidents have something to say?

As you can also see, I'm trying to keep this as an argument, and steer at least some of you away from pejorative arguments about motives and intentions. If there is ever to be any sensible move away from doleful and sterile polarisation on this issue, it is important to avoid insinuation and rancour. And that is not easy, if you have been hurt.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
I still struggle to see what the point you draw from Genesis is then.

In brief, what I draw from Genesis, as a minimum, is that God is recorded as creating mankind male and female in the beginning, with the added detail that male and female become "one flesh"; this appears to me to be both significant and enduringly true.

I'm honestly not entirely sure what conclusions should be drawn from that* (I'm not sure precisely how it is significant, for one thing), but I don't think that state of affairs can be dismissed as entirely irrelevant†.

quote:
If you may bless SSM on the same conditionality that you would HSM, then is there any practical or other importance of the argument based on Genesis or any other theological point of distinction between SSM and HSM?
Theologically:

Heterosexual union is (to my mind) in the story of our orgins. More specifically, it's in Genesis 1 & 2, a passage which, regardless of considerations of chronology, literalism, or anything else, is I think pretty widely recongised as uniquely foundational in Christian belief.

Note this is an observation and not a value judgement.

Practically:

The Genesis archetype of man and woman becoming one flesh is still hugely and predominantly the case today.

On that basis, I think SSM is always going to be a minority case. It might combat discrimination, but it will not erase minority status. I think this point is at best largely overlooked and at worst deliberately obfuscated, and pastorally speaking it is my biggest concern.

Consequently, the related expectations and motivations need to be taken carefully into consideration from a pastoral point of view.

==

* I have been careful not to assert this line of thinking as mine. I'm thrashing out ideas here, not pushing a line, and I haven't come to what I regard as a satisfactory conclusion.

† When my musings from that are simultaneously dismissed as being both too traditional and too innovative to be taken seriously, it kind of suggests to me that there's something in there worth considering!
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
On a personal note I would just like to add that the above post took me the best part of an hour to write and resulted in me nearly missing a work deadline. Which is to say that I plead other stuff in life being a reason for not responding more fully, rather than an unwillingness to engage.
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
Appreciated, and I won't press for a speedy reply. I wonder if the time taken to respond reflects a) the complexity of the area for you and b) that you are to some extent formulating this position as we discuss and therefore there is formulation time as well as drafting time in your response.

Or perhaps both.

Had we not had the recent discussion I would interpret "uniquely foundational" to imply some degree of privileged status of the alternative (SSM). Of course it is technically true, but taking the trouble to make the statement usually means something more than the technical sense.

In the same way that me saying "There may be a God" means something more than the technical sense that even Richard Dawkins might agree to. Technically it is correct that there is some possibility of there being a God but an unqualified "may be" means some more substantial probability.

Likewise "uniquely foundational" applied to HSM usually would mean that there is something more important, more worth, more Christian, closer to the ideal for HSM compare with SSM. I now understand you don't mean it like that. However despite now knowing what you don't mean, I'm not quite sure what the theological meaning actually is.

Your practical implications seem to me not really drawn from the passage. It is an inescapable conclusion that in societies across the world HSM is the majority choice and there doesn't seem a trajectory towards minorityhood anytime soon. Nevertheless I don't think we can conclude that because a thing is in the bible it is going to be a sustained state for most of humankind. The practical implications can be worked through in an entirely secular context in any case. By practical implications I was thinking of some Christian practice that would differ as a result. I think you are saying that there are none? Which is fine of course. Good even, as far as I'm concerned.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

† When my musings from that are simultaneously dismissed as being both too traditional and too innovative to be taken seriously, it kind of suggests to me that there's something in there worth considering!

Either that or a lack of clarity. [Razz]

[ 14. April 2016, 12:18: Message edited by: mdijon ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
a) the complexity of the area for you and b) that you are to some extent formulating this position as we discuss and therefore there is formulation time as well as drafting time in your response.

Or perhaps both.

Yes, plus the ease with which one can type one thing and be interpreted as saying another.
quote:
despite now knowing what you don't mean, I'm not quite sure what the theological meaning actually is.
I don't fully know either, but my intuition says there might be something there, which I don't want to jettison, at least not before I've clarified my thinking further.

The charge has been made that this indefinable something is simply latent homophobia, but I refuse to be boxed in like that. I'd rather have space to think it through than succumb to shaming attempts that preclude dispassionate thinking.
quote:
By practical implications I was thinking of some Christian practice that would differ as a result. I think you are saying that there are none?
Not quite. For one thing, there is the conundrum of widely differing views on SSM, both within the Church and more generally.

SSM is pretty new here in France, virtually without precedent in churches, and currently threatening to split the historic protestant federation right down the middle (more for reasons of political opportunism than for reasons of deeply-held and carefully reasoned convictions on the subject in my view, but the fact remains).

It would be ridiculous to pretend that the practical implications of blessing a HSM next week are exactly the same as those of blessing a SSM.

I mentioned upthread that I have a Christian friend who is in a gay relationship, convinced (having worked through the issues with no input at all from me) that it's sinful, and reluctant to go to any church in case his partner becomes a Christian and splits with him. Just citing him as an exemple of why SSM is a live issue in which any precedent, insensitively handled, could trigger major decompensation.

Even if such views are held to be erroneous, I don't believe they should be tossed aside with no consideration of the pastoral implications. That to me is just as inhumane as pretending the church has never stigmatised gays or made them suffer wrongly and unjustly.

I think that in a local church context, Paul's teaching on matters of conscience offers a way forward on both sides for this kind of issue, but that proposal got pretty short shrift here.

I also think catering for minority constituencies (not thinking just about homosexuality here) requires careful pastoral discernment.

I think some (not all!) people are drawn to minority causes, not because the causes in question are profound identity issues for them to start with, but because they are attracted for other reasons to the attributes of a minority culture.

In their quest to resolve some other ill-identified issue within themselves they find in such groups acceptance and a form of militancy that gives them a sense of solidarity, justice and purpose - but the cause in question may not in fact be the root issue for them.

There are already plenty of reasons for people to seek HSM misguidedly. I think SSM's minority status means there are even more potentially misguided reasons for people seeking SSM, and there needs to be an awareness of that.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

I think some (not all!) people are drawn to minority causes, not because the causes in question are profound identity issues for them to start with, but because they are attracted for other reasons to the attributes of a minority culture.

In their quest to resolve some other ill-identified issue within themselves they find in such groups acceptance and a form of militancy that gives them a sense of solidarity, justice and purpose - but the cause in question may not in fact be the root issue for them.

There are already plenty of reasons for people to seek HSM misguidedly. I think SSM's minority status means there are even more potentially misguided reasons for people seeking SSM, and there needs to be an awareness of that.

To clarify, do you mean that some LGBT will wish to enter into marriage because the reasons above, rather than because they truly wish to commit? This is a not a separate argument to HSM. People enter HSM for a lot of reasons that they shouldn't, including political statements. The argument is to properly evaluate one's motivations regardless of orientation, not separate HSM and SSM because of the potentially different poor reasoning.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I have said everything I want to say about that, including why I think HSM and SSM are different, practically, in this respect, especially in a church context, in my previous post.
 
Posted by mdijon (# 8520) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I'd rather have space to think it through than succumb to shaming attempts that preclude dispassionate thinking.

Fair enough. But until you state what you actually do think about this after your dispassionate thinking it is difficult to have a discussion - I get the impression that on this thread you have tried some things out on the theology that you maybe don't hold all that strongly to. Until you settle on an interpretation it is going to be a challenge to engage without misinterpretation.


quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
It would be ridiculous to pretend that the practical implications of blessing a HSM next week are exactly the same as those of blessing a SSM.

For sure. But my question was about the practical implications of your interpretation of the Genesis passage. I think that given your uncertainty of the theology as a "work in progress" it would be fair to say that a practical implication would therefore have to wait as well.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
For now, I feel as though I've got as far on thrashing out my ideas as I can in this context.

When I have something more to say, and the appropriate time and energy to devote to saying it, I'll do my best to do so.


 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
All that said, and reiterating that we are no longer "in the beginning" and have to live in the light of that, I still find it difficult not to see 'male and female' in the context of sexual union as being part of God's ideal as it was 'in the beginning'; an ideal which recognises equal worth all the more so in that it is amid an essential difference.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Insinuating that I see (Joesaphat's term) Real Marriage™ as somehow exempt from this, bringing Eden and divine perfection into the present day, such that hetero couples can legitimately be all smug, happily and self-righteously mirroring God while occasionally magnanimously throwing a few crumbs to the pale copy Canaanite gays to make sure they stay, not just firmly below the salt but away from the table altogether, is typical, mdijon, of what I mean by being misrepresented.

I don't see how it's a misrepresentation. Your reasoning, as I understand it, is that same-sex marriages are outside God's plan and therefore can't/shouldn't be blessed/approved of/whatever by proper religious organizations. Opposite-sex couples, on the other hand, can be so blessed/approved of/whatever, which would indicate that they are, if not Edenic, at least close enough that they don't suffer the same deficiencies in God's eyes as same-sex couples do.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
On that basis, I think SSM is always going to be a minority case. It might combat discrimination, but it will not erase minority status. I think this point is at best largely overlooked and at worst deliberately obfuscated, and pastorally speaking it is my biggest concern.

Could you expand on this a bit? In what sense is the Church's treatment of people majoritarian in nature and how small does a minority have to be before its treatment is not really important? And why isn't combating discrimination an important thing in its own right? And is there anyone who thinks same-sex marriage will "erase minority status" or that this is what people entering in to a same-sex union are looking for?

"It worked! I married a same-sex partner and now I'm straight!" . . . said no one ever.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
It would be ridiculous to pretend that the practical implications of blessing a HSM next week are exactly the same as those of blessing a SSM.

I'm not sure what you mean by "practical" here. Most religious organizations that bless same-sex unions have found that the practicalities involved (officiant, space, ritual, etc.) are pretty much the same as for opposite-sex couples. There may be social and theological implications, but I can't think of practical difficulties/variations unless a the "blessing" involves the couple actively using their genitals.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Your reasoning, as I understand it, is that same-sex marriages are outside God's plan

I wouldn't say all SSMs are "outside God's plan" any more than I see all opposite-sex marriages as being "in God's plan". I don't think it's up to me to dictate what God's Plan™ might or might not be for other people. I put my energy into giving people the tools to make up their own minds on that kind of thing.
quote:
and therefore can't/shouldn't be blessed/approved of/whatever by proper religious organizations.
I haven't said that anywhere here. Frankly, I wouldn't be putting so much time and energy into this discussion if I didn't think that was an option.
quote:
Opposite-sex couples, on the other hand, can be so blessed/approved of/whatever, which would indicate that they are, if not Edenic, at least close enough that they don't suffer the same deficiencies in God's eyes as same-sex couples do.
In my view there is no de facto right of an opposite-sex couple to have their civil [the only official type of marriage here] marriage blessed in a church. A pastoral interview of some kind would be a minimum, just as it would for any SSM couple.

quote:
Could you expand on this a bit? In what sense is the Church's treatment of people majoritarian in nature and how small does a minority have to be before its treatment is not really important?
SSM accounts for a minority of marriages in society and while the proportion might grow, I don't see it being more than marginal any time soon (I could be wrong). Does that make society "majoritarian in nature"? Does the minority occupy the moral high ground simply by virtue of being a minority?

I also never said that addressing minority concerns was unimportant, nor did I say, as you imply, that combating discrimination wasn't important in its own right.

The fact remains that minority cases involve different pastoral considerations precisely because they are minority cases. Dealing with issues such as discrimination might well be part of those considerations.

quote:
"It worked! I married a same-sex partner and now I'm straight!" . . . said no one ever.
Including me.

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
It would be ridiculous to pretend that the practical implications of blessing a HSM next week are exactly the same as those of blessing a SSM.

I'm not sure what you mean by "practical" here. Most religious organizations that bless same-sex unions have found that the practicalities involved (officiant, space, ritual, etc.) are pretty much the same as for opposite-sex couples. There may be social and theological implications, but I can't think of practical difficulties/variations unless a the "blessing" involves the couple actively using their genitals.
How couples of any orientation use their genitals is the last thing on my mind.

Mdijon first used the word "practical" here, I think you can probably substitute "social" if you prefer in terms of the concerns I'm addressing. I'm thinking mostly in terms of the immediate outworking on a community of believers whose consciences tell them different things about homosexuality.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Your reasoning, as I understand it, is that same-sex marriages are outside God's plan

I wouldn't say all SSMs are "outside God's plan" any more than I see all opposite-sex marriages as being "in God's plan". I don't think it's up to me to dictate what God's Plan™ might or might not be for other people.
Then why all the repetitive references to Genesis reiterating how opposite-sex relationships are God's plan? If that's an irrelevancy, why spend so much time on it?

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Could you expand on this a bit? In what sense is the Church's treatment of people majoritarian in nature and how small does a minority have to be before its treatment is not really important? And why isn't combating discrimination an important thing in its own right? And is there anyone who thinks same-sex marriage will "erase minority status" or that this is what people entering in to a same-sex union are looking for?

"It worked! I married a same-sex partner and now I'm straight!" . . . said no one ever.

Including me.
Gay people know they're a numerical minority. If you claim that they get married to "erase minority status", that means they think that getting married will either turn themselves straight or turn enough other people gay that they're no longer a minority. Neither of these makes sense or lines up with the motivations of the people of my acquaintance who have entered into legal same-sex unions, so I'm still confused as to how you think they're trying to erase their minority status by marrying. Explanation please?
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
If you claim that they get married to "erase minority status", that means they think that getting married will either turn themselves straight or turn enough other people gay that they're no longer a minority. Neither of these makes sense or lines up with the motivations of the people of my acquaintance who have entered into legal same-sex unions, so I'm still confused as to how you think they're trying to erase their minority status by marrying. Explanation please?

This is not how I interpreted Eutychus, I see two interpretations.
Either that LGBT people will enter into marriages despite their relationships might not be ideal because they are swept up in the cause or that "confused" straight people will do so for that reason.
I could be wrong, but this is what I see.

To be honest, I do think you are seeing him a little more harshly than is accurate. I think some of his issue is how to deal with his flock, not his personal feelings.
That said, I do not think he completely understands how some of his phrasing can be read as less than accepting. And is a bit confusing and appears contradictory.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
why all the repetitive references to Genesis reiterating how opposite-sex relationships are God's plan? If that's an irrelevancy, why spend so much time on it?

I don't think I can improve (at least for now) on what I said in the first half of my post here.

I think talking in terms of God's Plan (a phrase I have only used to respond to Joesaphat's introduction of it) is potentially confusing. You can read about how I qualified any use I might make of the term, here.
quote:
I'm still confused as to how you think they're trying to erase their minority status by marrying. Explanation please?
I was thinking much along the lines lilbuddha has understood in her post above.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I was thinking much along the lines lilbuddha has understood in her post above.

OK, then let me address that.
Regarding the impulsive LGBT: straight people have been getting married into bad relationships for bad reasons for as long as there has been marriage. A slightly different bad reason is not a cause for special caution. The takeaway is counseling everyone to properly consider their relationships before making that commitment.
Regarding "confused" straight people, I think there are are two problems here.
One is that whilst a possibility it would be a massive rarity. And gay folk have been in OSM for centuries and people haven't been too bothered about it.
Two is a misunderstanding of the sexual preference spectrum. Most people tend to think of S, L, G or B as if they were detentes on a dial. Even many in the gay community have difficulties with bisexuality and fluid sexuality.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Regarding "confused" straight people, I think there are are two problems here.
One is that whilst a possibility it would be a massive rarity.

No it's not.

Within my prison chaplaincy remit there is a women's prison. While some of the inmates are resolutely homosexual, others are very definitely "gay for the stay". I know people in both categories.

A significant proportion of inmates enter into civil partnerships (which are much easier to arrange in jail here than a marriage, for which the authorities foot-drag whether it's gay or straight).

A significant proportion of those partnerships break up within months of one of the partners being released - and invariably going back to being straight.

You can argue that prison is an extreme environment, but what this evidence tells me is that vulnerable people - wherever they are - can be influenced into a supposed change in sexual orientation by a prospect of emotional stability, with both the change in orientation and the emotional stability being deceptive.

I accept that some gay people similarly enter OSM misguidedly (indeed I think the friend I referred to a while back may well be one such person) but that is hardly a reason to dismiss similar things happening for SSM, and I persist in my notion that as things stand socially at present (at least here), there is a stronger possibility for someone to misguidedly enter SSM than OSM (in terms of confusion relating to orientation).

quote:
Two is a misunderstanding of the sexual preference spectrum. Most people tend to think of S, L, G or B as if they were detentes on a dial. Even many in the gay community have difficulties with bisexuality and fluid sexuality.
If sexual preference is fluid and lifelong faithfulness in a couple is of value, then that's all the more reason to look very carefully before you leap into a long-term commitment.

[ 16. April 2016, 16:16: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Gay people know they're a numerical minority. If you claim that they get married to "erase minority status", that means they think that getting married will either turn themselves straight or turn enough other people gay that they're no longer a minority. Neither of these makes sense or lines up with the motivations of the people of my acquaintance who have entered into legal same-sex unions, so I'm still confused as to how you think they're trying to erase their minority status by marrying. Explanation please?

This is not how I interpreted Eutychus, I see two interpretations.
Either that LGBT people will enter into marriages despite their relationships might not be ideal because they are swept up in the cause or that "confused" straight people will do so for that reason.

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I was thinking much along the lines lilbuddha has understood in her post above.

Nope. I still don't really get what's being "erased" by entering into a same-sex marriage that's supposed to change the couple's status from a numerical minority to a majority. Are you arguing that people will be "swept up in the cause" to such a degree that they think their marriage will inspire everyone else to turn gay? [Confused] I really don't get what you're trying to say about how gay people think they won't be a numerical minority any more if they get married. Neither of lilBuddha's explanations seems like they would even theoretically "erase minority status".

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I accept that some gay people similarly enter OSM misguidedly (indeed I think the friend I referred to a while back may well be one such person) but that is hardly a reason to dismiss similar things happening for SSM, and I persist in my notion that as things stand socially at present (at least here), there is a stronger possibility for someone to misguidedly enter SSM than OSM (in terms of confusion relating to orientation).

Not surprisingly I disagree. The amount of social stigma associated with homosexuality (which is still considerable, though less than in previous times) puts a lot more pressure on a gay person to try going straight than for a straight person to mistakenly conclude that they're homosexual. We even had a couple of threads on organizations that claimed to be able to "straighten out" gay people, and they regarded the hallmark of their success as 'formerly' gay people entering in to opposite sex marriages.

It's possible that looking at raw numbers there may be numerically more straight-inclined people who have gotten married to same-sex partners due to confusion about their orientation, but that's likely only an artifact of their numerical majority. On a per capita basis I'm pretty sure the numbers would go the other way. After all, how many people are told their heterosexuality is "just a phase" or that they just haven't met the right same-sex partner yet?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
I still don't really get what's being "erased" by entering into a same-sex marriage that's supposed to change the couple's status from a numerical minority to a majority. Are you arguing that people will be "swept up in the cause" to such a degree that they think their marriage will inspire everyone else to turn gay?

No, I'm saying that some people may think that equal marriage will deliver as much social acceptance and fulfilment for them as they may perceive the straight majority to enjoy by virtue of its being a majority. I'm not saying this state of affairs is desirable, but I think it's realistic.

quote:
Not surprisingly I disagree. The amount of social stigma associated with homosexuality (which is still considerable, though less than in previous times) puts a lot more pressure on a gay person to try going straight than for a straight person to mistakenly conclude that they're homosexual.
I think it depends. The pressure you describe is certainly there, but I think for some people with identity issues, a minority sexual identity can look like an answer when it isn't the right one, by virtue of its minority status.
quote:
We even had a couple of threads on organizations that claimed to be able to "straighten out" gay people, and they regarded the hallmark of their success as 'formerly' gay people entering in to opposite sex marriages.
And I have fended off a gay organisation supposedly dedicated to supporting gays in prison, because I think it highly likely that they would overstep that remit and encourage those of uncertain sexuality to go gay at a vulnerable period of their lives. Both sides can exert abusive pressure.

[ 16. April 2016, 19:07: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

Within my prison chaplaincy remit there is a women's prison. While some of the inmates are resolutely homosexual, others are very definitely "gay for the stay". I know people in both categories.

A significant proportion of inmates enter into civil partnerships (which are much easier to arrange in jail here than a marriage, for which the authorities foot-drag whether it's gay or straight).

A significant proportion of those partnerships break up within months of one of the partners being released - and invariably going back to being straight.

You can argue that prison is an extreme environment,

Prison IS an extreme environment. Behaviour within =/= behaviour without.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

If sexual preference is fluid and lifelong faithfulness in a couple is of value, then that's all the more reason to look very carefully before you leap into a long-term commitment.

This would be true for everyone in every marriage. ISTM, most people who are "fluid" are not so much straight or gay, but other.* And, hetero-normative behaviour is so ingrained in our society that it is possible for gay people to not consider the possibility that they are gay.
We have at least one lesbian and one bisexual on the Ship who fit this.
If anything, you should be counseling people who think they are straight to do soul searching before committing. Real world examples seem to go more in that direction than the way you posit.

*bisexual or pansexual
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Prison IS an extreme environment. Behaviour within =/= behaviour without.

After plenty of experience, I'd say that for many things, behaviour within essentially magnifies behaviour without.

I think my observation about people in vulnerable situations being deceived into thinking that a change in orientation is the solution to their emotional suffering holds true in general, it's just less pronounced in less confined environments.
quote:
This would be true for everyone in every marriage. ISTM, most people who are "fluid" are not so much straight or gay, but other.
You certainly weren't suggesting a third category earlier.
quote:
And, hetero-normative behaviour is so ingrained in our society that it is possible for gay people to not consider the possibility that they are gay.
Granted, but I think the vexed question here is why hetero-normative behaviour is so ingrained and whether that state of affairs is something to be acknowledged, whilst seeking appropriate accommodation of other behaviours, or overturned altogether as redundant.

Could it not just be that part of the reason for its ingrainedness is that most people have a settled heterosexual orientation and are quite happy that way?
quote:
If anything, you should be counseling people who think they are straight to do soul searching before committing
One of the first things I learned in counselling was the applicability of the Hippocratic Oath: first do no harm. If asked (in the context of a prospective committed relationship), I'd encourage people to do soul-searching for a broad range of reasons, but unless they gave me reason to doubt their orientation, I wouldn't create problems where there didn't appear to be any by suggesting they examine it.

Creating a sense of insecurity where there was none to start with falls into the category of abuse as far as I'm concerned.

(If they did raise the question, I would pursue it, and I would probably be as leery of a avowedly gay person suddenly opting for a committed opposite-sex relationship as of a straight person suddenly opting for a committed same-sex one).
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
After plenty of experience, I'd say that for many things, behaviour within essentially magnifies behaviour without.

So, if behaviour is magnified, then perhaps your "gay for the stay" are actually not as straight as they think? Sarcasm aside, I do not like seafood. However, facing starvation I've no doubt I'd eat it. This does not mean that I like it to any degree.

quote:


I think my observation about people in vulnerable situations being deceived into thinking that a change in orientation is the solution to their emotional suffering holds true in general, it's just less pronounced in less confined environments.

trying not to be rude here, but this is rubbish. More LGBT people will feel the pressure to act straight than the reverse. Gay isn't Goth. And prison gay is often more about power. Much more akin to sexual abuse than anything else and not analogous to all behaviours outside.

quote:
You certainly weren't suggesting a third category earlier.
um, LGBT?

quote:
Granted, but I think the vexed question here is why hetero-normative behaviour is so ingrained and whether that state of affairs is something to be acknowledged,
The majority of the population is straight or close enough. I'm not sure anyone here is challenging this. This is not a sociology lecture, but there are numerous reasons why the majority impinges upon the minority in conscious and unconscious ways.

quote:
One of the first things I learned in counselling was the applicability of the Hippocratic Oath: first do no harm. If asked (in the context of a prospective committed relationship), I'd encourage people to do soul-searching for a broad range of reasons, but unless they gave me reason to doubt their orientation, I wouldn't create problems where there didn't appear to be any by suggesting they examine it.
OK, when I said you should have OSM candidates question whether they were actually hetero, it was to make the point that many more people who are gay do OSM than the opposite.
But how would you know if a person was questioning or suppressing their true nature? Hell, many straight people get into straight marriages that are bad for them, but have no clue or easily apparent signs prior to the commitment.
But I'm not saying that you need to apply the third degree to anyone, but that your position of caution regarding LGBT marriages is unfounded.
In regards to vulnerable people, ISTM you should be treating them as vulnerable regardless of orientation and not applying that standard to the general population.
That vulnerable people will do things against their nature does not justify suppressing the rights of everyone else. And ignores that LGBT will have a higher degree of vulnerability than the general population.
 
Posted by Gracie (# 3870) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
And prison gay is often more about power. Much more akin to sexual abuse than anything else and not analogous to all behaviours outside.

That may be the case in men's prison, I don't know, I don't have any experience there. But it certainly isn't the case in women's prisons.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gracie:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
And prison gay is often more about power. Much more akin to sexual abuse than anything else and not analogous to all behaviours outside.

That may be the case in men's prison, I don't know, I don't have any experience there. But it certainly isn't the case in women's prisons.
I've never been sentenced to or an employee of any prison, but what I have heard and read agrees that the overall dynamics are different, at least to an extent. Eutychus is male, so I assumed his experience is in male prison.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Eutychus is male, so I assumed his experience is in male prison.

As I posted above, my remit includes a women's prison, and what I said was based on that and the inmates I know there.
 
Posted by Gracie (# 3870) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
I've never been sentenced to or an employee of any prison, but what I have heard and read agrees that the overall dynamics are different, at least to an extent. Eutychus is male, so I assumed his experience is in male prison.

I work in a women's prison and the overall dynamics of gay relationships are not at all what you described as being about power and sexual abuse.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Eutychus is male, so I assumed his experience is in male prison.

As I posted above, my remit includes a women's prison, and what I said was based on that and the inmates I know there.
Apologies, I missed that. But it still doesn't change that prison behaviour =/= outside behaviour. If you are correct about prison relationships not generally lasting outside of prison, this enforces my point rather than contradicts it. ISTM you are making an unjustified special case against SS relationships.
quote:
Originally posted by Gracie:
I work in a women's prison and the overall dynamics of gay relationships are not at all what you described as being about power and sexual abuse.

Once again, I made an incorrect assumption that Eutychus was speaking of a male prison.
Regardless, my main contention is that his case for being "cautious" with SS relationships in greater degree than opposite sex relationships is unfounded.

[ 17. April 2016, 08:02: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Apologies, I missed that. But it still doesn't change that prison behaviour =/= outside behaviour. If you are correct about prison relationships not generally lasting outside of prison, this enforces my point rather than contradicts it. ISTM you are making an unjustified special case against SS relationships.

I have drawn the conclusions about people in vulnerable circumstances wherever they are.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I have drawn the conclusions about people in vulnerable circumstances wherever they are.

And I still contend this is a not valid reason to draw a distinction between OSM and SSM.
It is valid and commendable to wish to protect the vulnerable.
However, restricting SSM creates more vulnerability than it prevents.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
No, I'm saying that some people may think that equal marriage will deliver as much social acceptance and fulfilment for them as they may perceive the straight majority to enjoy by virtue of its being a majority. I'm not saying this state of affairs is desirable, but I think it's realistic.

It doesn't sound particularly realistic. Most gay people know there's a sizable minority that bears them nothing but ill will and are fairly clear-eyed about the fact that nothing they do is likely to change that. Very few, if any, people would think "I'm sure that the parents who threw me out of the house when I came out to them and left me to fend for myself when I was 15 will come around and welcome me back if I get married to a same-sex partner!" And this is something you consider "realistic"?

How about the notion that same-sex couples get married because they want to live their lives together, not in some ill-considered effort to curry favor with people who bear them a tremendous amount of malicious ill will? I know it's a radical idea, but how about the possibility that not everything gay people do is part of some complicated Machiavellian scheme to manipulate straight people?
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:

I know it's a radical idea, but how about the possibility that not everything gay people do is part of some complicated Machiavellian scheme to manipulate straight people?

Where did that come from?
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
I know it's a radical idea, but how about the possibility that not everything gay people do is part of some complicated Machiavellian scheme to manipulate straight people?

Where did that come from?
It follows from the idea that "some people may think that equal marriage will deliver as much social acceptance and fulfilment for them as they may perceive the straight majority to enjoy". Put more bluntly, it seems to be a suggestion that same-sex marriage (at least by "some people") is an attempt to trick everyone else into socially accepting them.

Quite frankly, the possibility of using marriage to gain social acceptability is much more likely to be a factor in opposite-sex marriages than in same-sex ones. Suddenly the stigma of unwed parenthood is removed, your friends and family now accept your relationship as "serious", and you start being treated like a grown-up. Same-sex couples, on the other hand, mostly know that the people who disliked/hated them before they got married will almost certainly dislike/hate them just as much (if not more) after they get married. There may be a few starry-eyed exceptions, but I'd expect their number to be vanishingly small.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Put more bluntly, it seems to be a suggestion that same-sex marriage (at least by "some people") is an attempt to trick everyone else into socially accepting them.

no tricks, IMO, just the same mechanism that draws people to Goth, Punk, Cosplay or stamp collecting: a sense of belonging. However, on steroids because it is a cause célèbre.
I find this bit
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus And I have fended off a gay organisation supposedly dedicated to supporting gays in prison, because I think it highly likely that they would overstep that remit and encourage those of uncertain sexuality to go gay at a vulnerable period of their lives. Both sides can exert abusive pressure.
a little more troubling. Especially as the pressure is much more likely to be in the opposite direction.
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
The idea that there is some kind of stage (long post birth) during which it's possible to go either way, and just a little nudge can cause you to "go gay," has no place in anything I've ever heard or read about human sexuality. It strikes me as a homophobic fantasy -- oh my god, teh gayz are trying to recruit our children. FFS.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
I know it's a radical idea, but how about the possibility that not everything gay people do is part of some complicated Machiavellian scheme to manipulate straight people?

Where did that come from?
It follows from the idea that "some people may think that equal marriage will deliver as much social acceptance and fulfilment for them as they may perceive the straight majority to enjoy". Put more bluntly, it seems to be a suggestion that same-sex marriage (at least by "some people") is an attempt to trick everyone else into socially accepting them.


"It seems to be a suggestion" is reading between the lines again. Rightly or wrongly, I read this as Eutychus' summary of his position, from the end of the post.

quote:
Both sides can exert abusive pressure.
Not sure about the assertion of sides, but it seems quite reasonable to assert that anyone, or any group, can exert abusive pressure on others for whatever reasons satisfy them. And that applies to minorities, whether or not they have been abused. Abuse in retaliation to abuse may be understandable on a kind of "what's sauce for the goose" basis. But that doesn't invalidate a summary that the tendency to abuse is not confined to particular individuals or groups. I suppose we can argue the toss over "who is most likely", but that is probably an argument about who has the most power and influence in any particular situation, rather than being associated with a global majority i.e folks who self-identify as heterosexual. Abuse of power is simply dependent on the potential abusers having some power and influence somewhere.

[ 19. April 2016, 09:05: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
A good friend of mine likes to tell a story about when he worked for an IT company. He needed to fetch something in the basement, and while going down there he hit his head on a wooden beam. He actually spent a couple of days in hospital with a concussion, but he tells me that the moment he hit his head, he realised he was gay.

Granted, he usually tells this story after a couple of beers, but it does make me more careful every time I go down a staircase [Smile]
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Originally posted by Barnabas62:

quote:
Abuse of power is simply dependent on the potential abusers having some power and influence somewhere.

This is true. But this is not the argument Eutychus has been making. Reading only what he has written, his arguments are that SSM might be pushed on straight but vulnerable people and that this should be a caution against SSM in general. And so negatively affecting the actual many for the sake of the potential few.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I'll venture back to formulate my position regarding religious blessing of marriages thus.

A common Christian wedding text says
quote:
Marriage is ... not to be entered into lightly, but reverently, soberly and in the fear of God.
That definitely includes OSM and anticipates the notion that people can be wrongly pressured into it.

If one accepts the blessing of SSM, this provision also extends to SSM. SSM's minority status does not call for that provision to be mitigated purely on minority grounds. And at a time when it's early days for SSM, which is certainly the case in my country and even more the case in my country's churches, I think extra care needs to be taken to ensure it is entered into in line with that provision or similar.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I'll venture back to formulate my position regarding religious blessing of marriages thus.

A common Christian wedding text says
quote:
Marriage is ... not to be entered into lightly, but reverently, soberly and in the fear of God.
That definitely includes OSM and anticipates the notion that people can be wrongly pressured into it.

If one accepts the blessing of SSM, this provision also extends to SSM. SSM's minority status does not call for that provision to be mitigated purely on minority grounds. And at a time when it's early days for SSM, which is certainly the case in my country and even more the case in my country's churches, I think extra care needs to be taken to ensure it is entered into in line with that provision or similar.

Why? So far all you've offered for this idea that same-sex couples should be subjected to extra scrutiny far beyond what opposite-sex couples are expected to endure is a bare assertion that gay people are predators looking to recruit the vulnerable. Why exactly are you so sure that same-sex couples need to be monitored, assessed, and analyzed far beyond the scrutiny applied to opposite-sex couples? Are gay people really that much more manipulative and predatory than straight people?
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Why? So far all you've offered for this idea that same-sex couples should be subjected to extra scrutiny far beyond what opposite-sex couples are expected to endure is a bare assertion that gay people are predators looking to recruit the vulnerable.

I said that I had that concern about a particular association. I did not say that I thought that about all gay people and you know it. (I would be just as suspicious of any association coming in seeking to uphold heterosexuality having an agenda to de-gayify gays, and have said as much, too).

I also said nothing about "extra scrutiny" of same-sex couples, I talked in terms of "caution".

I am reasonably confident that out of all the churches I know in my city, the one I lead is the most likely, by quite a wide margin, to be the first to bless a same-sex marriage*. If that happens on my watch, I intend to be able to justify any such decision responsibly and be seen to be acting in good conscience and with integrity, just as I would for any other marriage blessing. Make of that what you will.

quote:
Why exactly are you so sure that same-sex couples need to be monitored, assessed, and analyzed far beyond the scrutiny applied to opposite-sex couples? Are gay people really that much more manipulative and predatory than straight people?
In view of assertions like this, and despite my best efforts, given how smart you obviously are, I cannot escape the conclusion that your incessant misrepresentation of my comments cannot simply be attributed to miscommunication or majoritarian insensitivity on my part, but is rather a deliberate tactic of yours to paint those you perceive to be opposed to your views in as negative and extreme a light as possible.

You may find this not to be a waste of your time, but I'm finding it to be a waste of mine unpicking such responses, and I'm done with it. I'm here looking for dialogue and, on a practical level, ways of reaching accommodation. You're clearly not looking for either, at least not when you post like that.

As far as I'm concerned that approach does your cause far more harm than good, because irrespective of any considerations about sexuality whatsoever, the values it conveys to me are so bereft of goodwill as to be entirely repulsive.

==

*It wouldn't be the first time we have pioneered something controversial, been vilified for it, only to see it become common practice years or decades down the line.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Why? So far all you've offered for this idea that same-sex couples should be subjected to extra scrutiny far beyond what opposite-sex couples are expected to endure is a bare assertion that gay people are predators looking to recruit the vulnerable.


I said that I had that concern about a particular association. I did not say that I thought that about all gay people and you know it. (I would be just as suspicious of any association coming in seeking to uphold heterosexuality having an agenda to de-gayify gays, and have said as much, too).

I also said nothing about "extra scrutiny" of same-sex couples, I talked in terms of "caution".

Actually you said you thought "extra care needs to be taken to ensure [same-sex marriage] is entered into in line with [reverence, sobriety, and the fear of God] or similar". How does one make sure the couples' motives are proper without scrutiny? And apparently same-sex couples require a level of care/attention/scrutiny/whatever beyond that which applies to opposite-sex couples. All this was posited in a context "that people can be wrongly pressured into [marriage]". Your suggestion was that opposite-sex couples should be examined for such "wrong pressure" prior to marriage but that same-sex couples required "extra care" to guard against this same "wrong pressure". That would make sense only if you thought people entering into same-sex marriages were either more likely to engage in that sort of behavior or more likely to be successful at it.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I can give what I think is a valid explanation, but I'm not going sit here for hours trying to ensure it's immune to you deconstructing it and turning it into further misrepresentation and/or accusation. As I said, I'm done with that.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
SSM's minority status does not call for that provision to be mitigated purely on minority grounds.

No one here is saying this> I've never heard anyone imply this.
The closest I've heard is the reverse: SSM should be treated differently because it is a minority.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

And at a time when it's early days for SSM, which is certainly the case in my country and even more the case in my country's churches, I think extra care needs to be taken to ensure it is entered into in line with that provision or similar.

What you are protecting is the prejudice of the haves against the well-being of the have-nots with the justification of safeguarding the nearly non-existent. And shoring it up with the contradictory.
You have ventured towards the concrete with one example that most sociologists would classify as misleading at best.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:

quote:
Abuse of power is simply dependent on the potential abusers having some power and influence somewhere.

This is true. But this is not the argument Eutychus has been making. Reading only what he has written, his arguments are that SSM might be pushed on straight but vulnerable people and that this should be a caution against SSM in general. And so negatively affecting the actual many for the sake of the potential few.
Actually, I thought it was at least part of the argument he was making. Otherwise why summarise as he did? But I think you and I agree about the danger of extending the findings from the prison into wider and different contexts. I see Eutychus' argument about vulnerability, but it seems to me that special circumstances apply when there is loss of liberty. I've never been a prison chaplain, but I have been a prison visitor and learned a few things about the dangers of "reading across" to circumstances outside. Enough to make me cautious, anyway.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
The hosts have expressed concerns backstage about the temperature on this thread and ongoing excessively personal exchanges. And, since they have also been participating in recent discussion they have asked for an admin to review things in order to avoid any impression of bias. I have therefore read the last 5 pages of this thread, and have the following comments to make:

In the light of that I am going to make some suggestions.
  1. take more time to carefully read what people have written, and to question it before jumping to conclusions about what was written,
  2. take more time to carefully write posts to minimise misunderstanding, and
  3. take the frustration to Hell, or at the very least don't put it into posts here.
Don't make me have to read much more of this thread.

Alan
Ship of Fools Admin
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Actually, I thought it was at least part of the argument he was making. Otherwise why summarise as he did?

I believe he is honest in his intent, so it is natural for him to include all vulnerable in his remit. However, his argument does not stop there and its i]effect[/i] is biased and unduly so.
So, it is part of his construct, but the question is how much load does that part bear? In my mind, it is not a pillar as much as a secondary support, at least in regards to this topic.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
Well, bias is normal. But I think analysis of ideas can move far too close to character-stripping if we read too much into the words written here. At this point I'm going to stop and reflect on Alan Cresswell's observations. They affect both my postings as a Shipmate and as a Host.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Well, bias is normal.

Bias is normal and not, IMO, inherently bad. It is in how we let it affect our reasoning and argument that it takes on positive or negative connotation. This is something I think I shall reflect on in Purg.
 
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
 
Posted 29 July, 2016 14:04

by PDA:

Does anybody know why Jesus may have felt it unnecessary to mention homosexuals at all?
Or why any comments he did make about them be considered not relevant enough to make it into the bible ?

I have been having this debate elsewhere and thought it a good topic to raise here.

My response:

Why would He? In provincial and even urban ancient Jewish culture it would have had no visibility at all. It would have been unthinkingly, unexaminably repressed from two millennia before. What Greeks and Romans got up to was their business (Paul got a bit slitty-eyed about it 25 years later): Jesus came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and initiated the trajectory of inclusive universal transcendence from it. We continue in that.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
That's nicely put Martin.

The other issue, of course, is the idea that we can simply read across concepts from one era to another without any complications. We wouldn't do this with democracy. Every forward schoolboy in England, oh all right, every politics undergraduate in England knows that democracy in ancient Athens meant something quite different to the modern UK or US and, when discussing the criticisms of democracy in the works of Aristotle or Plato need to bear this in mind if they are going to apply it to their own society. We don't have ostracism, we don't have slavery, we do have votes for women, we do have representative rather than direct democracy.

Something similar applies to homosexuality. Homosexual relations in antiquity, generally, fell into one of three categories. A slave owner could take his pleasure with a slave, who had no choice in the matter. Someone could take their pleasure in a brothel, where the 'employees' would, most likely, be slaves. Or there was the relationship between a 'virtuous' older man who had befriended a 'virtuous' and handsome youth. One text from the period suggests that the relationship ought to be cut away with the razor with which the youth shaves his beard for the first time. Now any of these relationships would, if they existed today, result in the interest of the fuzz in the details of what was going on. There were, I imagine, almost certainly gay people who loved one another, as we think of it today but they existed sub rosa they were no more tolerated in the classical tradition than in the Christian. We have probably been ill served by popular culture which has tended to valorise antiquity as a period when homosexuality was respected. The two most famous affairs, that we know happened, during the period were between Alexander and Bagoas and Hadrian and Antinous and social services would have been all over them if they had happened in the 21st century.

Basically, what happens in the 19th Century is that homosexuality, a condition where one is attracted to people of one's own sex, is regarded first as a pathology and then, by the end of the 20th century, increasingly as a natural occurrence. The love between two people of the same sex is increasingly regarded as being no different as the love between two people of different sexes. I think that this is a welcome development. Others may differ. But there isn't, I think, much point adverting to Paul at this point because he has an entirely different aetiology of same-sex relationships which makes sense in his context, but not in ours.
 
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
 
Nicer put Callan.
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
Yes. Two very helpful posts.
 
Posted by Doone (# 18470) on :
 
Ditto for me [Smile]
 
Posted by Joesaphat (# 18493) on :
 
and from me, belatedly
 
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
 
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.

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?

Dah, Barnabas62, you said it all 3 comments in nearly a year ago.
 
Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
bumping up for housekeeping reasons
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
Hi Louise and thanks for pointing out the thread.

What I have yet to see and I don't know if it is in the thread, perhaps it is, is a clear cut look into the Hebrew or Greek texts in question. There seems to be a lot of blathering and humming about general viewpoints and not a lot of true textual criticism. I can clearly see a lot of background knowledge, but was even one specific text actually analyzed so the community could come to some sort of minimum moral conclusion. Is that useless? Is there not a nugget of concrete moral truth about sexuality to be found? Marriage survives? I mean why marriage? Why not marry two men at the same time? Why can't three men marry? (we all know the answer is just about taxes, it's not a moral question of importance now)

A lot of deep thinkers here, and a lot of real head scrunching in the middle of the pack.

May I inject a little of my version of common sense here? Is it not without merit that God specifically calls for regulations on human behavior because these bags of flesh are his intellectual property?

Some don't seem to think it dignifying to think of themselves as a created being and God as a Creator. But those barbarians of the Bible did seem to think of God in a very awe-inspired way (whether those miracles were real or exaggerated, they did).

Have we totally lost our awe of God as a creator? Why? because so many of the Bible stories are filled with crime? I think we have lost the awe. Just a randomly "guided" evolution of molecules bumping into one another.... of course it ends up in same sex acts if that's all we are, and what could be more right that what feels good at the moment! HOW SHORT SIGHTED. I don't think that anyone actually FEELS the magisterial nature of what it means to be human being in God's image.

If there is ANY objective truth to be found in Genesis, no matter how abstract it might be, I think that structure and order of the human being in a two fold male-female "nuclear" family is a very smart and very GOOD way of making things.

"apparently anti-gay passages"
If we cannot conclude anything out of the Scriptures from what is apparent, then what is there left? Not much.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
Is it not without merit that God specifically calls for regulations on human behavior because these bags of flesh are his intellectual property?

[...]

Have we totally lost our awe of God as a creator? [...] I think we have lost the awe.

I'm not going to concede that I have lost the sense of awe of God as creator, but I will assert that I am ADDING to that awe a respect for God as a moral authority.

By which I mean, that while I do acknowledge an obligation simply to obey God because he is God, I also trust that God is in the right, that he has good and wise reasons for what he commands, and that because he has invited me to relate to him as a son and not merely a servant who does not know his master's business, he expects me not only to obey but also to try to understand.

Hence the dilemma. We know that same-sex relationships can be good in exactly the same ways in which that opposite-sex relationships are good. We also know that there are no ways in which they can be bad that do not apply just as much to opposite-sex relationships. These are facts that are no longer open to serious debate.

My argument is therefore that it is right to ask why same sex relationships are prohibited - and if we cannot see any good reason at all for the prohibition, but still view the bible as authoritative, it is also right to entertain alternative interpretations that might textually be less plausible, but which are morally far superior. After all, believers in God ought to have more confidence that God is good than that we have correctly understood a particular text.
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
no longer open to serious debate, are you... serious?
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
Entirely.

A man and a woman marry. We celebrate their love and their commitment. And it is obviously true that everything about their relationship that is good and worthy can also enrich a gay relationship, and everything about their relationship that might go tragically or sinfully wrong might also go wrong in a gay relationship. Are you going to suggest that this is in some way open to doubt?
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
I mean why marriage? Why not marry two men at the same time? Why can't three men marry?

<snip>

If there is ANY objective truth to be found in Genesis, no matter how abstract it might be, I think that structure and order of the human being in a two fold male-female "nuclear" family is a very smart and very GOOD way of making things.

It's been pointed out that there is nothing in the Bible prohibiting plural marriages, and several examples of such unions apparently meeting with God's approval. The reason we don't practice this marital custom today has little to do with the Bible and is largely an artifact of Christianity developing within the Roman Empire.
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
I mean why marriage? Why not marry two men at the same time? Why can't three men marry?

<snip>

If there is ANY objective truth to be found in Genesis, no matter how abstract it might be, I think that structure and order of the human being in a two fold male-female "nuclear" family is a very smart and very GOOD way of making things.

It's been pointed out that there is nothing in the Bible prohibiting plural marriages, and several examples of such unions apparently meeting with God's approval. The reason we don't practice this marital custom today has little to do with the Bible and is largely an artifact of Christianity developing within the Roman Empire.
I don't think it's possible to discuss plural marriage as a thing without resolving the question of slavery and God's apparent approval of that also.

So we're close to the point where I ask for curiousity sake, where we should go for moral guidance if we hold the Bible as irrelevant.

It seems to me that while 90% of posts here dogmatically accept homosexuality as acceptable to God, there is a great deal of divergence on how to justify that position using the Bible as most of the time the Bible's/God's acceptance of said activities are based on the omission of something and therefore the assumed approval.


So in the end, morally, three men can or could marry, in the Biblical sense God is good with that? Is that what you're saying?
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
I mean why marriage? Why not marry two men at the same time? Why can't three men marry?

<snip>

If there is ANY objective truth to be found in Genesis, no matter how abstract it might be, I think that structure and order of the human being in a two fold male-female "nuclear" family is a very smart and very GOOD way of making things.

It's been pointed out that there is nothing in the Bible prohibiting plural marriages, and several examples of such unions apparently meeting with God's approval. The reason we don't practice this marital custom today has little to do with the Bible and is largely an artifact of Christianity developing within the Roman Empire.
I don't think it's possible to discuss plural marriage as a thing without resolving the question of slavery and God's apparent approval of that also.
Nope, that's a dodge. You can discuss marriage and slavery separately, unless you want to argue that the Biblical form of marriage was a type of slavery. I can see this as a plausible argument if you want to continue in that vein, but it seems a side issue.

But you were the one who cited Genesis as the source of God's ideal family structure, and most of the families portrayed in Genesis don't resemble "a two fold male-female "nuclear" family" at all.

quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
So in the end, morally, three men can or could marry, in the Biblical sense God is good with that? Is that what you're saying?

Of course not. In the Biblical sense God wants everyone else to form a mob and stone them to death. That's the moral way to do things, Biblically.
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
[Axe murder]
.............moved here from the other thread. And will merger my responses as I can.
http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=edit_post;f=7;t=000623;reply_num=000332;u=00000238

quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
If detesting male homosexuals is wired in to humanity we wouldn't need an instruction book telling us to detest them.

I'm not saying that the wiring part has to do with detesting anything. Wiring-wise, we don't get wired with much at all! We are born little balls of snot and would stay that way if not for mom. The Bible simply shows that we were wired to be like Adam/Eve, we're wired for communicating with God, and to be in a male-female union. The idea here is that the pinnacle of the human form is the marital union of "one flesh". The male and female becoming one flesh is explicitly - a sexual union. THAT is part of the image of God if indeed the male and female TOGETHER make the image of God as I believe the Bible shows. Sex cults are/were of particular importance because they may may be focused on the key to blocking communicating with God. Doing so by by capitalizing on the simple urges of the body, at the expense of our relationship to God. How does it damage our relationship? The reason I believe is that any misplaced sex acts for the sake of lust alone devalue the human being as a display of God's image.

if someone does not believe in God at all, they may not be interested in Glorifying God. Some might find it detestable to view themselves as mere banner bearer of someone elses magnificence. But I would argue that human magnificence gets its source for elsewhere, not from intrinsically inside each of us, but beyond us.

Homosexuality is regarded as an arch-enemy to Christianity in this kind of sense, it is at the core of how to fundamentally rewire a person to serve material lusts, and not honor God's main reason for creating mankind, which is to spread his glory in creation of beautiful creatures like himself.


quote:

That's a non-Biblical standard, but at least it's a standard. As near as I can tell you're claiming that anything associated with what we'd call the Weberian state doesn't count anymore. Feel free to correct me if I'm interpreting you wrong. What I'm curious about is how you arrived at that conclusion. As far as I'm aware there's nowhere in the Bible where that standard is laid out.

I'm not sure, I'll have to think about the monopoly angle a bit more. As far as the national purpose.... The New Testament seems to indicate that whatever government comes along, Christians should in general work with it, that's for starters. Since the Hebrew Government was nullified with its kings all dead.... we no longer need to follow the rules of that government for legal sake. We follow an immortal king now, different rules. Also don't forget that Israel had a few Geopolitical objectives which, in short, deal with fundamental changes to human DNA. The DNA is the intellectual property of God, and I believe it was part of the objective to strictly enforce the integrity of human DNA at a spiritually sustainable level. It mainly started with the flood story, and wiping out the impurity in the geneological record of man. The mission continued under Abraham.


quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
I'm not sure I buy that interpretation. Both sections deal with human actions, not feelings. The first sentence was your typical Biblical 'thou shalt not . . . ', something that deals with behavior, and the second was a 'thou shalt . . . ', also behavior.

I guess we could parse the verse some more, but I interpret the word there to mean "repugnant/abhorrent/disgusting". It is a viewpoint, not an action. Hence, I would say that without the second statement condoning death, it would be common sense that anything detestable is prohibited, or, undesirable (don't do it).

I don't believe that with the expiration of the Jewish state we can afford to simply behave as if it never existed, didn't happen, and was never said. It wasn't a mission failure, nor was it an excercise in doing things the wrong way. Looking back at these laws I think it is natural and reasonable to see these things as instructive, they are worth consideration and deserve to be explored for the intrinsic things that they represent.

The virtue that prevails, and in light of Jesus and the New Testament, is that the lusts of the flesh are to be controlled (self control being evidence of God's spirit in you). IOW - sexuality is in our human nature and it is a basic human "lust" or "passion" that is to be controlled and regulated in within the confines and natural order of both gender, and


quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
In those verses was God telling man that he was personally repulsed? I don't think that was the intent. Are we to think he desires humans to avoid this activity. Yes, I think that was the intent.

Well, avoid the activity and kill anyone found engaging in it.
Ok, weberian state and all that..........tryin to be concise here..... my point of view, the penalties were justifiable on grounds of the necessary socio-cultural order for Israel.
* execution of a mortal person is not necessarily the end of the immortal person, or their "damnation". As his intellectual property, social and sexual order are part of God's intent for man. So yes, God has a weberian monopoly of a sort, if he chooses to implement a material government.



quote:
Given your argument about capital punishment for male homosexuality it would be expected (at least in terms of consistency) for you to argue that using fair weights and measures is no longer a moral imperative and shouldn't be enforced by the government, but I seriously doubt you'd actually advance that argument.
Strawman angle. As I have been saying, the sexuality of man is tied to the social aspect of man to God in a way that money is not. God's kingdom in heaven doesn't need money to operate, but it does need sexual order to operate. Money is an object that facilitates business, the only way to tie money to spirituality is through greed - another lust. Greed ties money to the object in question - the object being the human body.


quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
Killing sinners wasn't a principle to live by. It was an ordinance for them, not us.
Even "detesting" homosexuality is not a rule to live by. But avoiding homosexuality is a pretty safe assumption.

I'm always suspicious when someone tells me that God just coincidentally happens to detest all the same people they do. Especially if it's justified by some highly selective parsing of a religious text that (again, completely by coincidence) just happens to accept the parts they like and excludes the parts they don't.

Avoiding sin, that's the principle. I'd like to hear your version of how we should derive and/or enforce if needed, any particular moral imperatives with respect to sexuality. Oral tradition and society of the time framed a lot of that in Bible times that wasn't written down, and I don't act as if we can extract it all from the Bible. It's missing, it's obscure. So in the absence of a reliable written or oral tradition, where do you go for solid moral guidance? Can I frolic with my sister as long as we're careful not to create a child? Or if I regard learning disabilities as just another human challenge, perhaps I should celebrate and advocate brother-sister marriages? I could easily acquire help from the Bible if I chose.....

give me something objective to go by. I just don't think that moral imperatives just popped up from nothing, or that it is practical or reasonable to operate in a sexual-moral vacuum where we can justify any sexual action as long as we can show that science proves it "generally safe" for an individual or couple.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Aijalon:

I find it not worth to formulate a polite reply, so please join
this thread, already in progress.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
Homosexuality is regarded as an arch-enemy to Christianity in this kind of sense, it is at the core of how to fundamentally rewire a person to serve material lusts, and not honor God's main reason for creating mankind, which is to spread his glory in creation of beautiful creatures like himself.

To clarify, to some Christians homosexuality is seen as an arch-enemy. For most of us, if we think of an arch enemy at all, we'd look elsewhere - to a personified Satan, or the oppressive economic and political structures that keep billions in abject poverty, the pride that says we can do what we like with what we have been entrusted with.

Yes, there are issues with material lusts - but, the Gospels only tell us of the dangers of men looking at women with lust. And, if procreation is central to the Christian life then many would be failing - unable to have children, or having chosen a celibate life.

It would be appreciated if you didn't take your narrow understanding as universal.
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
[qb]Homosexuality is regarded as an arch-enemy to Christianity in this kind of sense, it is at the core of how to fundamentally rewire a person to serve material lusts, and not honor God's main reason for creating mankind, which is to spread his glory in creation of beautiful creatures like himself.

To clarify, to some Christians homosexuality is seen as an arch-enemy. For most of us, if we think of an arch enemy at all, we'd look elsewhere - to a personified Satan, or the oppressive economic and political structures that keep billions in abject poverty, the pride that says we can do what we like with what we have been entrusted with.
Lust of the eye and pride of life are equal enemies. I'm not saying we should pick an "arch" enemy, but as this come over from the other thread on demonization, the thrust of what I'm saying is that sexuality is really at the core of who we are, so it's very important.

Making "arch enemies" out of people for the sake of the issue is not what I'm advocating. I was simply explaining the rational, and importance of, defending conservative sexual morality as a backdrop for how people have made arch enemies out of this issue in general.

It's worth arguing about.

quote:
Yes, there are issues with material lusts - but, the Gospels only tell us of the dangers of men looking at women with lust.
That's not a defense of men lusting for men. In the simplest sense the arousal of a man for a woman is intended for the marriage relationship, and nothing else.


quote:
And, if procreation is central to the Christian life then many would be failing - unable to have children, or having chosen a celibate life.
Yes, it's a central issue. It's not just failing to procreate but desiring to procreate.... that's the heart of it. Being infertile is red herring here. That's a disease. Being sick is certainly a failure of the human form, it is a malfunction. God desires to heal the sick.

Some Christians feel being homosexual is like a mental disorder. I do not feel that way, though of course there are sexual-mental disorders....

quote:
It would be appreciated if you didn't take your narrow understanding as universal.
never was universal, just generalizing about Christians who hold different values than you do. There is no monopoly on the views of "Christians"

[ 12. June 2017, 20:33: Message edited by: Aijalon ]
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Aijalon:

I find it not worth to formulate a polite reply, so please join
this thread, already in progress.

You are such a gem, oh you little sweetheart.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
Homosexuality is regarded as an arch-enemy to Christianity in this kind of sense, it is at the core of how to fundamentally rewire a person to serve material lusts, and not honor God's main reason for creating mankind, which is to spread his glory in creation of beautiful creatures like himself.

Wait - is God creating us because we're beautiful creatures like God or is the beauty of no intrinisic importance unless we create more of ourselves who also have no intrinsic importance.

Either someone has an intrinsic reason to exist regardless of whether they make more of themselves or there is no value in making more of them.

In any case, Jesus said that some people are eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. So I don't think he agreed with you that the highest point of human existence is procreation. He says there will be no marriage in the afterlife. You might think there will still be procreation even if there's no marriage?

By the way, how do you know homosexuality is merely a matter of material lusts, more than heterosexuality is? Do you know a lot of homosexual couples? Surely you wouldn't make such a sweeping condemnation of other people's relationships without knowing what you're talking about.

quote:
If we cannot conclude anything out of the Scriptures from what is apparent, then what is there left? Not much.
You are elsewhere on these boards maintaining that we cannot conclude that Jesus wasn't the Father from what is apparent. So you're happy to abandon the apparent meaning of the Bible in favour of a less apparent meaning when you think the evidence warrants it.

quote:
So we're close to the point where I ask for curiousity sake, where we should go for moral guidance if we hold the Bible as irrelevant.
How about we read the Bible in the light of Jesus? It seems to me that Jesus' ethical principles are summarised as love not as self-control.
It seems to me that Jesus is rather hard on people who stick to the letter of the law in order to condemn other people.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
the thrust of what I'm saying is that sexuality is really at the core of who we are, so it's very important.

Yes, you're right. Sexuality is at the core of who we are. We agree on that.

But, that seems to be the big inconsistency of your argument. I don't see how anyone could accept that and then describe people as "wired to serve material lusts", and not honouring God (to choose just two of the phrases you have used to describe other people, and not the worst). Which is it? Sexuality the core of who we are, or something that is an expression of material lusts?
 
Posted by Ohher (# 18607) on :
 
Coming late to this, erm, discussion (because I've been hoping for the last decade or two -- apparently in vain -- that this set of issues might dwindle into the background noise of simple societal acceptance), I find myself puzzled about Aijilon's sig.

"All free wills go to hell."

Since that pesky "all" appears, that seems to include the "free wills" who, er, freely choose to "obey Jesus."

Or am I missing something here?

And btw, are you, Aijilon, suggesting that sexual orientation is a choice, that is, an expression of free will?
 
Posted by Golden Key (# 1468) on :
 
Aijalon--

quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
Some Christians feel being homosexual is like a mental disorder. I do not feel that way, though of course there are sexual-mental disorders....

And *some* of those Christians are working from a place of compassion, whether or not they're right about it being a disorder. (I don't think it is.)

Yet *you*, Aijalon, show no compassion whatsoever.

What's up with that?
 
Posted by Soror Magna (# 9881) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:

... * execution of a mortal person is not necessarily the end of the immortal person, or their "damnation". ...

I'm sure that will be a great comfort to the executee.


quote:
... As I have been saying, the sexuality of man is tied to the social aspect of man to God in a way that money is not. God's kingdom in heaven doesn't need money to operate, but it does need sexual order to operate. ...

Baloney. Money is a symbol of interactions between human beings. How we use / earn / save / waste money demonstrates the quality of our relationships with our fellow humans. Money is most definitely a social aspect of man - each of us has financial relationships with tens of thousands of people we've never even met. Money connects us to many, many more people than sex does. I'm happy to concede that there's no money in heaven, but how much sex is going on up there? (And why was nothing said before?!)


quote:
... I'd like to hear your version of how we should derive and/or enforce if needed, any particular moral imperatives with respect to sexuality. ... give me something objective to go by. I just don't think that moral imperatives just popped up from nothing, or that it is practical or reasonable to operate in a sexual-moral vacuum where we can justify any sexual action as long as we can show that science proves it "generally safe" for an individual or couple.
Every society has sexual mores, and just because you don't like them doesn't mean that society is a moral vacuum. People who disagree with your morals are not necessarily immoral; they just have different morals.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
The Bible simply shows that we were wired to be like Adam/Eve, we're wired for communicating with God, and to be in a male-female union. The idea here is that the pinnacle of the human form is the marital union of "one flesh".

So you're saying that the only proper Biblical relationship is between a man and his double-X clone? That seems a little limiting. On the other hand it could also be argued that Adam and Eve were in a sexual relationship with every other person in the world.

quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
Also don't forget that Israel had a few Geopolitical objectives which, in short, deal with fundamental changes to human DNA. The DNA is the intellectual property of God, and I believe it was part of the objective to strictly enforce the integrity of human DNA at a spiritually sustainable level. It mainly started with the flood story, and wiping out the impurity in the geneological record of man. The mission continued under Abraham.

I'm pretty sure that deoxyribonucleic acid is mentioned exactly zero times in the Bible. Can you explain your theory of Biblical eugenics a little more clearly? I mean, if God is omnipotent where do these mutations come from that he feels obliged to correct via genocide? Why not just "strictly enforce the integrity of human DNA" by simply not permitting the mutations He finds objectionable.

Historical note: the descendants of Abraham have typically not fared particularly well under programs obsessed with genetic purity.

quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
I'm not sure I buy that interpretation. Both sections deal with human actions, not feelings. The first sentence was your typical Biblical 'thou shalt not . . . ', something that deals with behavior, and the second was a 'thou shalt . . . ', also behavior.

I guess we could parse the verse some more, but I interpret the word there to mean "repugnant/abhorrent/disgusting".
Which word out of "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman" do you interpret that way? It seems to be a pretty clear "thou shalt not".

quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
quote:
Given your argument about capital punishment for male homosexuality it would be expected (at least in terms of consistency) for you to argue that using fair weights and measures is no longer a moral imperative and shouldn't be enforced by the government, but I seriously doubt you'd actually advance that argument.
Strawman angle. As I have been saying, the sexuality of man is tied to the social aspect of man to God in a way that money is not. God's kingdom in heaven doesn't need money to operate, but it does need sexual order to operate. Money is an object that facilitates business, the only way to tie money to spirituality is through greed - another lust. Greed ties money to the object in question - the object being the human body.
Apparently I wasn't giving you enough credit for consistency. It's a fairly unique position to claim that God is really upset about (male) homosexuality but doesn't really care about people cheating each other, given that the former is out in the wilderness of Leviticus and the former is given a prominent place in the Ten Commandments. Kudos for that, at least.

quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
I could easily acquire help from the Bible.....

give me something objective to go by.

I'm pretty sure that ship sailed when you claimed it was okay for Christians to cheat people with crooked weights. Yes, you "could easily acquire help from the Bible", but you've decided to abandon that standard. At least selectively.

[ 13. June 2017, 03:24: Message edited by: Crœsos ]
 
Posted by mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
As I have been saying, the sexuality of man is tied to the social aspect of man to God in a way that money is not.

Let's play Find the Biblical Quote! Which of these sayings is in the Bible?

A. It is very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
B. It is very difficult for a man who lies with another man as with a woman to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
C. The love of money is the root of every evil.
D. Men lying with other men as a man lies with a woman is the root of all evil.

If you picked B and D, you are a fucking moron!

[ 13. June 2017, 05:20: Message edited by: mousethief ]
 
Posted by wabale (# 18715) on :
 
Originally posted by Aijalon:
Homosexuality is regarded as an arch-enemy to Christianity in this kind of sense, it is at the core of how to fundamentally rewire a person to serve material lusts, and not honor God's main reason for creating mankind, which is to spread his glory in creation of beautiful creatures like himself.


Biblical interpretation of apparently anti-gay passages is complicated by the fact that the Greek text itself is not crystal clear. While Paul gives the impression of knowing exactly what he is writing about, it is disputed by experts, leaving the rest of us to get highly creative. It occured to me that it would be very interesting if we could find out how people nearer to the time and to the nuances of language interpreted these passages. If homosexuality was regarded as the “arch-enemy” I would expect it to be represented in any writings by Church Fathers in the 1st century, and especially in any literature designed for the education of new Christians, if such things existed. It turns out, I have discovered, that there are two documents which most (?) scholars think are 1st century, and can be described in the way indicated above, namely 1 Clement and the Didache.

So Aijalon - and this may be a trick question - what do you think, judging from these two documents, the first generation after the apostles thought about ‘homosexuality’?
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:

If you picked B and D, you are a fucking moron!

(Sigh)

You know you can't, mousethief. If you'd replaced "you are a fucking moron" with "you would be making a fucking moronic choice", you'd have stayed the right side of the Commandment 3 line i.e. that statement is stupid (OK), you are stupid (not OK).

You are free to make use of the Hell thread, but not here again

Barnabas62
Dead Horses Host
 
Posted by Barnabas62 (# 9110) on :
 
Aijalon

For the time being only, I am giving you some benefit of the doubt; you seem to me to be posting provocatively, but this may be inexperience, rather than deliberate. I am alerting Admin to the contents of this threat and asking them to monitor that issue.

Meanwhile, I urge you to read the earlier posts in this thread within which many different viewpoints are argued respectfully and without provocation. There have been many serious and well thought out contributions to this thread that have been expressed respectfully and without provocation. You may learn something from them, both in terms of content and means of expression. One of our Commandments, Commandment 5, has a wise title. "Don't offend easily, don't be easily offended."

That is a part of getting to know other Shipmates. There can be a fine line between acceptable unrest on the one hand, and provocation just for the sake of it. Watch it.

Barnabas62
Dead Horses Host

[ 13. June 2017, 11:01: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]
 
Posted by romanesque (# 18785) on :
 
Links make some people apoplectic, but for those who don't swallow their own tongue at the prospect of losing a few minutes they'll never get back, here's an exposition of one Christian perspective in a discussion between a gay TV presenter and a Catholic bishop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYWBNMOCrlo

Spoiler warning: no cups were thrown.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
Links make some people apoplectic

My personal rules on links:
Textual links are ok. I can skim those until I get to the important bit, and then I can quickly assess whether it's as important as the poster thinks it is. Also, if I want to take issue with it with the original poster I can copy and paste the passage in the thread.
I never follow links to videos, because I can't assess it quickly and I can't copy and paste.

Another problem with all links is that this is a discussion and debate board. It's not a listing of resources board. If you post a link, I can't debate with the person on the other side of the link: I can only debate with you. Fairly often we see someone post a link, and then when challenged on some of the material in the link, they say that it doesn't reflect their opinion, they were only posting it as an example of an opinion. That doesn't help debate.
If you post a link you should make clear to what extent you're prepared to own the contents.
 
Posted by romanesque (# 18785) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
Links make some people apoplectic

My personal rules on links:
Textual links are ok. I can skim those until I get to the important bit, and then I can quickly assess whether it's as important as the poster thinks it is. Also, if I want to take issue with it with the original poster I can copy and paste the passage in the thread.
I never follow links to videos, because I can't assess it quickly and I can't copy and paste.

Another problem with all links is that this is a discussion and debate board. It's not a listing of resources board. If you post a link, I can't debate with the person on the other side of the link: I can only debate with you. Fairly often we see someone post a link, and then when challenged on some of the material in the link, they say that it doesn't reflect their opinion, they were only posting it as an example of an opinion. That doesn't help debate.
If you post a link you should make clear to what extent you're prepared to own the contents.

I made the content explicit. The issue here is people can evade each others position almost indefinitely by calling them apostates, heretics, pinheads, medievalists and moral delinquents, without ever once engaging in what the other person is saying. This link is worth a look IMO, because it explores hot button topics between two people who should have nothing to say to one another according to popular opinion, but who air their differences without once showing any desire to kill one another.

You can agree with the terms of the debate or call it Jesuitical bullshit, but it may be a lightning conductor away from knee jerk fear and loathing. You'll only know by looking.
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
Links make some people apoplectic, but for those who don't swallow their own tongue at the prospect of losing a few minutes they'll never get back, here's an exposition of one Christian perspective in a discussion between a gay TV presenter and a Catholic bishop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYWBNMOCrlo

Spoiler warning: no cups were thrown.

quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
I made the content explicit.

Saying something represents "one Christian perspective" isn't "explicit", it's vague and clickbaitish. It seems a bit off to expect multiple other people to take a half an hour out of their day to watch a video you aren't willing to take five minutes out of yours to summarize what you think are the key points. If you think the arguments are convincing, state them! Maybe even with time indexed references to your video if you feel the need to cite your sources.
 
Posted by romanesque (# 18785) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
Links make some people apoplectic, but for those who don't swallow their own tongue at the prospect of losing a few minutes they'll never get back, here's an exposition of one Christian perspective in a discussion between a gay TV presenter and a Catholic bishop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYWBNMOCrlo

Spoiler warning: no cups were thrown.

quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
I made the content explicit.

Saying something represents "one Christian perspective" isn't "explicit", it's vague and clickbaitish. It seems a bit off to expect multiple other people to take a half an hour out of their day to watch a video you aren't willing to take five minutes out of yours to summarize what you think are the key points. If you think the arguments are convincing, state them! Maybe even with time indexed references to your video if you feel the need to cite your sources.

Seriously, I can't be fucked. If people need time fucking indexing as bait to watch video between a gay guy and a bishop, no sweeteners from me will tempt them. Absolutely no fucking way to that. Ever. But thanks for asking.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
Seriously, I can't be fucked. If people need time fucking indexing as bait to watch video between a gay guy and a bishop, no sweeteners from me will tempt them. Absolutely no fucking way to that. Ever. But thanks for asking.

Way to go. Impressive bit of missing the point.
 
Posted by romanesque (# 18785) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
Seriously, I can't be fucked. If people need time fucking indexing as bait to watch video between a gay guy and a bishop, no sweeteners from me will tempt them. Absolutely no fucking way to that. Ever. But thanks for asking.

Way to go. Impressive bit of missing the point.
A stalker. Cute.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
A stalker. Cute.

Excuse me?
 
Posted by romanesque (# 18785) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
A stalker. Cute.

Excuse me?
Two identical accusations of missing the point on two different threads without the slightest justification for either suggests obsession. I'm flattered.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
Two identical accusations of missing the point on two different threads without the slightest justification for either suggests obsession. I'm flattered.

It is quite easy to understand the culture here: we don't post links to videos unless we explain the context of why they're important.

Because anyone can post links to things.

Why are you any different? Nobody is saying you can't post the link, all that is being asked is that you have the manners to explain why it should be considered relevant.
 
Posted by romanesque (# 18785) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
Two identical accusations of missing the point on two different threads without the slightest justification for either suggests obsession. I'm flattered.

It is quite easy to understand the culture here: we don't post links to videos unless we explain the context of why they're important.

Because anyone can post links to things.

Why are you any different? Nobody is saying you can't post the link, all that is being asked is that you have the manners to explain why it should be considered relevant.

The thread is called Biblical interpretation of apparently anti-gay passages in the bible. I post a link I made clear is a discussion between a gay man and a bishop on hot button topics. If people think the content of the link has nothing to do with the thread title, or demand it's served in bite sized chunks on a baby spoon with choo-choo noises or they'll spit it right back out and squeal like a stuck pig at the offence, they can bollocks. That isn't forum parsimony, it's control freakery and politicking.
 
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by romanesque:
The thread is called Biblical interpretation of apparently anti-gay passages in the bible. I post a link I made clear is a discussion between a gay man and a bishop on hot button topics. If people think the content of the link has nothing to do with the thread title, or demand it's served in bite sized chunks on a baby spoon with choo-choo noises or they'll spit it right back out and squeal like a stuck pig at the offence, they can bollocks. That isn't forum parsimony, it's control freakery and politicking.

No it isn't. Do you realise how many relevant videos there are on youtube? Are you saying that you're going to watch the entirety of a video that everyone else posts?

It's about manners and laziness. You're basically saying "look, this is the last word on the subject, watch and learn."

If you had actually said "Father x made a good point about this and said blahdidblah in this video about 5 minutes in" then we could have a discussion about it.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
OK, I'm going to step in here. This is in my official capacity as an Admin

1. Discussion of when and how to post links is not relevant to this thread, and belongs in the Styx. In fact, I'm going to go and start just such a thread.

2. Calling someone a stalker is a personal comment, and inappropriate outside of Hell. So, cut that sort of stuff out as well or take it to Hell.

Alan
Ship of Fools Admin
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
the thrust of what I'm saying is that sexuality is really at the core of who we are, so it's very important.

Yes, you're right. Sexuality is at the core of who we are. We agree on that.

But, that seems to be the big inconsistency of your argument. I don't see how anyone could accept that and then describe people as "wired to serve material lusts", and not honouring God (to choose just two of the phrases you have used to describe other people, and not the worst). Which is it? Sexuality the core of who we are, or something that is an expression of material lusts?

Biblical heterosexuality is an impingement on basic instinctual lust for pleasure - limits pleasure into an orientation, which I have explained is directed toward a God glorifying objective.

Arousal is a material lust. Yes, gay or straight we all have said lust. I think you may have not quite connected the dots I made from the earlier thread where I have made the case that it is not simply sexual urges, but a unity between a man and woman that actually express the image of God in design, function, purpose, and magnificence.

In other words, God just wants it that way, and that's expressed pretty clearly.

Man and wife >> one flesh >> image of God >> god likeness

It really isn't that homosexual sex doesn't serve our natural instincts - it does! But that's all it does. It so happens that the instinct for sexual pleasure has a principal regulation as heterosexual only, it has a target. Love on the other hand is unrelated. You may love who you wish, and hopefully you love your wife, but sex doesn't equate to love as homosexuals often stress. Men may love, and sex is unrelated. Love is self LESS ness, simply.

to hit some other reponses at a glance....

There are of course discontinuities in the world that may cause us to be "eunichs" (celibate) for the kingdom sake, just as Jesus was celibate.

marriage and child raising is a common place concern and drain on a family.

Not having a family allows for more effective mission AGAINST the world mindset for lust.

So ... to address several posts together..

Exceptions found in the Bible that don't align to simple mongomous marriage.... might be a variety of things, none of which remove marriage as holy objective.

There is this mission God set out on called redemption, and sometimes even the plain old material procreation has to take a back seat....
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Jesus didn't say celibacy was an alternative. He said it was preferable. This hardly jibes with your interpretation of sex being a reflection of God. Wait! Sex is the image of God...Is Pornhub a place of worship, then?

Does give a whole new meaning to exclaiming "Oh, my God, I'm coming".

[ 13. June 2017, 20:58: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
Coming late to this, erm, discussion (because I've been hoping for the last decade or two -- apparently in vain -- that this set of issues might dwindle into the background noise of simple societal acceptance), I find myself puzzled about Aijilon's sig.

"All free wills go to hell."

Since that pesky "all" appears, that seems to include the "free wills" who, er, freely choose to "obey Jesus."

Or am I missing something here?

And btw, are you, Aijilon, suggesting that sexual orientation is a choice, that is, an expression of free will?

I probably could be more clear with the sig, but honestly it irks people, so I have left it. Love the question.

The notion there is not free will alone, but really "independent-free-will". Independence from God is really what most people seem to mean by free will these days, accordingly, this independence might cost them eternal life. I believe God's mission is to, in a sense, domesticate mankind to suit his especially lofty plans, whatever those might be.

I don't pretend that the Bible does't have God essentially saying this to Creation: "World - I own you".


My sig isn't intended to be related to any one topic especially, but yes, of course our sexual activity is a choice. Our orientation, instinctual urge to freek ....possibly influenced in ways that are beyond a choice, sure. I happen to believe that the social fabric of society, within a sexual laissez-faire social framework, gravitates itself to a primitive instinctual lust built in to us. I think that urge was intended to work within a guided, godly, family social framework.... etc. (presently mocked as a conservative, antiquated, or, "bigoted" framework... also refer to last post).
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Jesus didn't say celibacy was an alternative. He said it was preferable. This hardly jibes with your interpretation of sex being a reflection of God. Wait! Sex is the image of God...Is Pornhub a place of worship, then?

preferable with a certain mission in mind. Context context context.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
Some Christians conveniently ignore some bits and not others with very little evidence as to why. Or rather, with a particular logic which they then deny as valid when it supports POV with which they disagree.
I'll be back in a while to post more of a response.
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Aijalon

For the time being only, I am giving you some benefit of the doubt; you seem to me to be posting provocatively, but this may be inexperience, rather than deliberate. I am alerting Admin to the contents of this threat and asking them to monitor that issue.

Meanwhile, I urge you to read the earlier posts in this thread within which many different viewpoints are argued respectfully and without provocation. There have been many serious and well thought out contributions to this thread that have been expressed respectfully and without provocation. You may learn something from them, both in terms of content and means of expression. One of our Commandments, Commandment 5, has a wise title. "Don't offend easily, don't be easily offended."

That is a part of getting to know other Shipmates. There can be a fine line between acceptable unrest on the one hand, and provocation just for the sake of it. Watch it.

Barnabas62
Dead Horses Host

Just now catching up, and... noted. I am mincing words, but not much, provocative is probably accurate, I expect heat I guess.

Inexperienced? Maybe so!
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by wabale:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
Homosexuality is regarded as an arch-enemy to Christianity in this kind of sense, it is at the core of how to fundamentally rewire a person to serve material lusts, and not honor God's main reason for creating mankind, which is to spread his glory in creation of beautiful creatures like himself.


Biblical interpretation of apparently anti-gay passages is complicated by the fact that the Greek text itself is not crystal clear. While Paul gives the impression of knowing exactly what he is writing about, it is disputed by experts, leaving the rest of us to get highly creative. It occured to me that it would be very interesting if we could find out how people nearer to the time and to the nuances of language interpreted these passages. If homosexuality was regarded as the “arch-enemy” I would expect it to be represented in any writings by Church Fathers in the 1st century, and especially in any literature designed for the education of new Christians, if such things existed. It turns out, I have discovered, that there are two documents which most (?) scholars think are 1st century, and can be described in the way indicated above, namely 1 Clement and the Didache.

So Aijalon - and this may be a trick question - what do you think, judging from these two documents, the first generation after the apostles thought about ‘homosexuality’?

I was only talking about more recent conservative Christians, in so much as their reaction in many cases to the gay pride movement and various roll backs of church and state disapproval of homosexuality has triggered a more recent "arch enemy" political danger sense.

I will have to refrain from a more full response to your post for the sake of time and ability, but not a lack of desire. It might be soon that out of a lack of capacity I will have to stop trying to resurrect a dead horse!

But this is a dead horse discussion, so I took it as useless at the outset!

All the best with fingers flying.

A.
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
Aijalon--

quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
Some Christians feel being homosexual is like a mental disorder. I do not feel that way, though of course there are sexual-mental disorders....

And *some* of those Christians are working from a place of compassion, whether or not they're right about it being a disorder. (I don't think it is.)

Yet *you*, Aijalon, show no compassion whatsoever.

What's up with that?

want to address you there. I have not shown any compassion yet, as no one has asked for any, rather I am currently addressing the incompatibility of "gay pride" with Christianity. There is air of superiority, and a sort of "case closed" mentality by quite a few.

yes, yes, it's a dead horse. But it's more about how offended people are.

I think the titles of both threads I jumped into reflect a certain "sensitivity" to gay pride in that they say "apparently" anti gay, and in how posters say "Paul 'seemed' to oppose homosexuality".

It really is pretty simple to me, the Bible is certainly opposed, and while we don't see a perfectly clear picture of how we should deal with homosexuality, I see many arguments about various passages as dishonest.

Compassion is interesting, and certainly a higher calling. But the thread was about the interpretation of anti gay passages.

For the sake of time can you direct me to a thread [here] in which those who are still opposed to homeosexuality as disorder {it is but it isn't mental] might explore ways to be compassionate.

It would be much better, really, and probably it isn't a dead horse [Smile] If there isn't one, we can start one.
 
Posted by Aijalon (# 18777) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
As I have been saying, the sexuality of man is tied to the social aspect of man to God in a way that money is not.

Let's play Find the Biblical Quote! Which of these sayings is in the Bible?

A. It is very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
B. It is very difficult for a man who lies with another man as with a woman to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
C. The love of money is the root of every evil.
D. Men lying with other men as a man lies with a woman is the root of all evil.

If you picked B and D, you are a fucking moron!

You missed the point. Lets get real simple.

Money is an evil necessity, is NOT good, is in no way helpful for you to get closer to God.

Sex is GOOD, designed by God, and helps us connect to God.

If you feel so mad ignore my post, reread yours.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
I have made the case that it is not simply sexual urges, but a unity between a man and woman that actually express the image of God in design, function, purpose, and magnificence.

I do not think is supportable from the text.
If you take the image of God passage from Genesis there are at least two other readings which are equally likely:
Each person, whether male or female, is in the image of God;
All of humanity collectively is in the image of God.

Both of those readings are compatible with seeing Jesus as the first of the new humanity, as the image of the invisible God.
Your reading in which it is a single man and woman who are in the image of God is not compatible with seeing Jesus as the new unsullied image.

Your reading seems to imply a general moral duty to marry and have children if one can, which is nowhere stated explicitly in the Bible. (Children are presented in the Bible as a blessing not as a duty.)

I will note that as far as I know the 'image of God' has never been given the meaning that you're giving it. I can't help thinking that you're reading it that way because you already think homosexuality is bad, rather than thinking homosexuality is bad because you read that passage this way.
 
Posted by Snags (# 15351) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:
quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
Aijalon--

quote: