LGBT Theology: What does the Bible say?

181204557

It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged. Almost eight weeks in fact. Why? Because this series has proven far harder than I imagined.

The emails and messages are still pouring in after my initial post, telling me that I’m a “disgrace” for supporting same-sex relationships and equal marriage, and that I’m “no longer welcome” within the evangelical Christian community for expressing that view. The resulting boycott on my music continues, which has knock-on effects on my income and keeping a roof over my head.

Right after launching this series my Grandmother died. That required me taking some time out from engaging with the aggressive messages/comments as I need to let my heart grieve that loss.

Also in the past few weeks the Evangelical Alliance discontinued the membership of The Oasis Trust due to (what the EA describe as) the Trust’s campaign to change the Church’s historic view on human sexuality”.  See Oasis’ response here. This has been a huge blow for those of us who still want to be accepted as ‘evangelical’ yet support same-sex marriage.

Due to all that it’s taken me eight weeks to get myself in a place where I feel able to blog again, as no doubt this new post will unleash yet more messages and emails. But I’m back – mainly spurred on by the inspiring people who’ve written to me and said these posts are helpful. Many of you are living out this theology day by day in bold, courageous ways at great personal cost to you – I’m moved by the brave, beautiful stories you’ve shared.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Having read the comments thread (750+ of them across the two posts so far) it’s been enlightening.

As I’ve read them I’ve been chewing over thoughts on how best to approach blogging around this topic. I purposefully never specified how I’d approach this blog series – there are clearly many ways to approach any subject and this especially requires great care and consideration. One idea, among many, I considered was to go through each of the key Bible passages about sexuality, then opening the comments up and debating the interpretations together. But I’ve come to terms with the fact my optimism about the abilities of a blogging format were too hopeful.

My readership is now so polarised – with a huge audience from the American Bible belt, and now a large proportion of LGBT readers, many of whom are not religious. I’m deeply grateful for this diverse readership and I love it. It’s my hope to bridge the two.

Yet due to the vast chasm of difference between these polarities, it can lead to talking past each other rather than to each other – and it can quickly get very unpleasant and damaging for people. If I were writing to just one demographic, a blog-based discussion might be productive. But my readership is extremely broad. As a result, many of the comments have been too offensive to publish. Many I have allowed up on the site still make me very uncomfortable.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Other approaches I considered were less combative, and more focused on pointing people to great, existing resources that already go verse-by-verse through the Bible. I’ve decided that approach is the best and healthiest for my site, as my commenters can get so heated. I’m not comfortable providing a forum for people to bully one another.

Other bloggers may take a different approach – their readership demographic may be better suited to that. For me, providing a space where very polarised people fire weapon-like-words back and forth, with little sign of genuine listening, isn’t something I’m willing to do.

This will hopefully weed out those who aren’t willing to actually put work into this! If you just want to fire off a preconceived argument about ‘God hating gays’, then please do that elsewhere. What I’m wanting to encourage is thoughtful reading, prayerful pondering and an openness to thinking first and speaking second. So I’ll share books that go through the Bible verse-by-verse, and recommend a real variety so there’s hopefully something suitable for everyone.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As well as pointing out resources, I’ll be providing one of my own: I’m writing a book on this topic.

Short blog posts aren’t really suited to the nuance, detail and well-roundedness of theology on this inflammatory and controversial subject. So I’m already working on that book and will keep you updated on its progress. It will lay out my detailed thoughts on what the Bible says, so you’ll get plenty of opportunity to read them there.

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on LGBT theology in the following places:

- There’ll be a panel at Greenbelt Festival this August on equal marriage, chaired by myself with some fantastic panellists who are LGBT and LGBT allies.

- Accepting Evangelicals asked me to become a Patron/Ambassador of their organisation, which I gladly accepted. Other Patrons include Steve Chalke. He and I will be keynote speakers at the Accepting Evangelicals conference this October in London.

- I’ll be a keynote speaker at the Gay Christian Network’s annual conference in Portland Oregon. They exist to encourage & equip LGBT Christians and allies. The event will be held on January 8-11, 2015. Last year the keynote was by the brilliant Rachel Held-Evans and it was a fantastic event.

- Next April there’ll be a conference about LGBT Theology called “Open Church”, hosted by Oasis Trust. Speakers include Steve Chalke, Andrew Marin, Cameron Trimble, myself & others.

- As I do these events, where possible I’ll post the links of the audio/video of the talks on this blog.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So… WHAT DOES the Bible say about sexuality?

This is something that requires time, thought and prayer.

The Bible is a complex book. A beautiful, holy and authoritative one. But one requiring illumination from both mindful study and the Holy Spirit (our God-given guide as we read it). There is no such thing as one ‘plain, obvious reading of the Bible’. Everyone reads through a lens. Everyone interprets.

Many people argued that the Bible supported slavery until they put time into prayerful study and realised they were wrong.

Many used to (and some still do) argue the Bible says women should have no place within the priesthood, and should never preach or teach in church. Lots of people have realised from prayerful study that this is not what the Bible actually says.

Superficial readings of texts should never be the foundation of our arguments. Nor should parroting off the things we’ve simply been told by others in church.

What’s the Bible’s model for figuring out truth? To study, pray and question! Just look at the Book of Acts where it describes the Christians who lived in the city of Berea: “Now the Berean people were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:110).

That’s right – even the teaching that came from Paul himself was something they put to the test. They questioned it. They studied the Scriptures “to see if it was true”. And as a result the Book of Acts says that behaviour made them “of more noble character“. It didn’t make them ‘less spiritual’ as they questioned and studied. It didn’t make them less full of faith. It was an approach that is praised by the New Testament itself! So we have that model as our guide. We should never be afraid to question what we are taught in church. Follow the example of the Bereans and dig into this topic and re-examine it.

It takes work to assess the historical context of verses – like when Paul said ‘women should be silent in Church’. When we look at their historical context, and assess the original language they were written in, some of these verses they make sense in a completely different way than they do from a first scan.

The deeply entrenched views of the church on any topic are unlikely to change overnight. They have changed regarding slavery. They have changed, in many places, regarding the role of women. But it requires work to get there; to prayerfully examine the Bible. If you’re willing to do that, I’m going to recommend great places to start reading.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As a quick intro to this kind of theology, here’s a 5 minute video to start with. Made by Matthew Vines, it’s a good whistlestop tour:

(Mobile users, try this Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmp6lLct-fQ&list=UUg_AAlIDrZ6ymrPYAlT3-lA)

If you’re willing to invest more time, this version by Matthew is 1 hour long and it goes verse-by-verse through the main Bible passages on sexuality:

(Mobile users, try this Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezQjNJUSraY )

 

  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For those willing to put time and effort into this, here’s a list of books I’d recommend. Hopefully this is a useful list you can point others to if they are interested in this topic. Many of them go verse-by-verse through the Bible.

These writers take slightly different approaches in both style and their theological nuance. But all are well worth reading. I’m doing my PhD on this topic (originally I was researching technology and ethics, but the topic of Christianity and sexuality became my main PhD focus earlier this year). Some of the books below are more academic, but I’ve included others that are more story-based and a lighter, quick read.

Brownson

Bible, Gender and Sexuality by James Brownson. This book is a brilliant, substantial read. It’s an academic book – so no walk in the park – but it’s accessible too. Start by reading the Conclusion first if your time is limited. Then work front-to-back through the book when you have time.

God-and-Gay-Christian

An excellent new book is out: “God And The Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines. It’s very readable. It tells Matthew’s own journey with his sexuality, and it goes verse by verse through the key texts. He and I have a similar approach. If you are only going to get two of the books I recommend, I’d suggest Brownson’s book and Matthew’s book as the two places to start.

 

book5_13

Justin Lee’s book “Torn” (called “Unconditional” in the European version). Justin runs the ‘Gay Christian Network’ for LGBT Christians and allies. (I’ll be joining him at their 2015 conference in Portland this January as a speaker). This book tells his own personal story in detail, including his experiences with ‘ex-gay’ ministry/therapy. It touches on the Bible texts too. A lively and emotional read.

 

9780232529579

This book, written by gay priest Jeffrey John, is a very concise read. Only 62 pages long, it condenses a lot into a small space. Absolutely worth getting hold of. It addresses the Bible passages as well as outlining the Church of England’s history on LGBT issues and has a great bibliography to guide you to even more resources.

 

sexuality-christian-body

Sexuality and the Christian Body by Eugene F. Rogers is an academic book that’s highly respected by even very traditional thinkers as it’s a genuinely thoughtful approach to sexuality. He argues in favour of equal marriage, based on some really interesting & insightful approaches to the Biblical text. Excellent stuff.

 

41dTxHDq8LL

Sex and The Single Saviour is written by Yale Professor Dale B. Martin. It’s an academically well respected, yet accessibly written book.  Martin goes through the major flaws in many of the more traditionally-held-to readings of the Bible. I like his style a lot.

51PQldHgdHL._SY445_

“Love Is An Orientation” by Andrew Marin: Andrew was hosting this kind of conversation long before many people got involved. His book does not promote one theology or another – it presents different views and allows the reader to make their own conclusions. It also tells of Andrew’s journey as a self-confessed “former homophobe and Bible-basher” to someone leading an inspiring organisation that reconciles the Church and the LGBT community.

 

41pwPcRFYaL._SL500_AA300_1

The Body’s Grace is a lecture delivered by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. It’s over 20 years old now, but is a fascinating read. He takes a different approach to same-sex relationships than some of the writers in this list, but his insights are well worth exploring. It’s available online to read for free and can be accessed here.
417QHZ691WL._SY445_

Strangers and Friends is written by Michael Vasey, who taught at the same Durham college that I am doing my PhD at. I wish I ‘d had the chance to meet him. For anyone wanting to hear some thoughts on evangelical theology and sexuality from one of the real pioneers in this, try and get a copy of this (c) 1995 book.

51GuytFmUCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

If you’ve already read all of the above books, or are deeply into theology and want something else challenging and fascinating on sexuality, check out Sarah Coakley’s “God, Sexuality and the Self: An Essay on the Trinity.” She draws on the thinking of Church Fathers like Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, etc.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I don’t claim to be presenting a balanced list of resources here at all – the above books are all ones that explore LGBT Theology from certain standpoints that I’m keen for you to ponder.

It’s also worth reading a few books that uphold the traditionalist view, just to see where others are coming from and how their arguments can seem strong until they are reassessed. A classic text is Robert Gagnon’s “The Bible and Homosexual Practice”. I disagree with his conclusions, but I see great value in reading opposing views to know how and why others see things differently.

(As a side note, I’m not registered as an Amazon affiliate so I get no money from the sale of any of those books – this enables me to recommend books without any self-interest).

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In closing….

To the conservative Christians who are still very angry at me using my platform to speak up for LGBT equality, please remember that I am a person with feelings. Your messages reach me, not a robotic machine. Words can deeply damage. So please at least ponder if you, or one of your loved ones, would like to receive the kind of abusive communications many of you have been sending me. I don’t ask you to agree with my thinking, simply to dialogue respectfully.

Finally…to those of you who identify as LGBT and wonder if there’s a place for you in the church – the answer is absolutely yes. I hope the above resources will show you that the Bible welcomes rather than excludes you. You are loved by God, by me, and by many, many others.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.

We love because he first loved us”

(1 John 4: 7, 19, The New Testament)

  • Mark Heybourne

    Brilliant stuff Vicky.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    “So I’ve decided my site is not the place to host a verse-by-verse approach to LGBT Theology”

    Disappointing, because actually that feels like you’re running away from a discussion, not towards it. If you are *really* serious about developing an evangelical theology that supports a revision of the position on sex outside of the marriage of a man and a woman, exploring the verses should be the very thing you want to do. And if you don’t think the definitive answer can be found in Scripture, then I’m confused as to why you still want to be called an Evangelical.

    I guess what I’m trying to say (in a non-abusive or aggressive manner), is you can’t have your cake and eat it Vicky. If you want to be an Evangelical, argue the case on the Evangelical playing field (the Bible). There are plenty of us who are *way* beyond “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” who can do an in depth conversation on the meaning and the hermeneutic context of nouns like physis or pais, let alone arsenokoites and the like. You know what, I would be more than happy to choose just one of the verses and have a you and me conversation on the issue. We’re both respected by our constituencies and we both (should) know what we’re talking about.

    But if you’re not willing to work through the verses like a good evangelical would and could, please don’t get upset when some of us question whether that label is no longer appropriate for you. Evangelicals are Bible people, not those who run away from engaging with it (especially in public).

  • Zoe Pimentel

    Thank you Vicky. It absolutely disgusts and saddens me how some people (“Christians”?!) have been treating you, whatever we each believe. You are such a pioneer on this issue and it really means so much to me that someone ‘with a voice’ is using it for good, for compassion, for inclusion, and for the gospel to be truly preached. Thank you and may God continue to bless and protect you.

  • Robson

    You know, I don’t agree with homosexuality and was I disappointed in your what your saying.. yes, BUT… thats ok :-)… because we all don’t always see eye to eye.. and we can’t point at “homosexuality” as “God hates Gays” or “you sinner”.. because God hates sin… and we all are sinners, and we all have fallen short.. seems we forget that alot of times…

    I think the most important thing we should be doing is Love God.. and Love People.. because I’m not going to change anyone and no one will change me.. but God can change a heart… and we need to lead people to the Cross.. not to our judgment of them…

    anyways, I love your honesty and realness in your blogs!… Be Blessed

  • Cristen

    Hi Peter

    You’re being unfair. I don’t believe Vicky is running away from anything.

    What she’s doing is saying that this isn’t the right forum, because there are too many people (on all sides of the debate) who won’t consider the nuances in between their polarised views. And so it turns into an unproductive shouting match below the line.

    We’ve all seen it happen, and no-one comes out covered in glory. It’s a waste of time.

    And re. the Evangelical ‘label’, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I don’t think Vicky would mind being stripped of that particular terminology if that’s what it takes to move forward in love. I know I wouldn’t.

    Best
    Cristen

  • Wayne

    She will be discussing it in depth…in her new book. In the meantime she’s left us plenty of resources that go through it verse by verse. Maybe you should watch the video she linked to or read some of the books.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    “What she’s doing is saying that this isn’t the right forum, because there are too many people (on all sides of the debate) who won’t consider the nuances in between their polarised views.”

    Excellent point. So that’s why Vicky will obviously be happy to have a public conversation with me on the topic, because obviously we will both be dealing with the matter in depth and looking at the nuances.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    It’s not the same is it? I would happily dissect Vine’s poor exegesis if I had the time to do it. But I’d only do that here if Vicky promised to respond to the points I made.

  • http://vickybeeching.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Peter – I’ve clearly stated above that I will lay out my verse-by-verse interpretation in the book I am writing. I have also provided numerous resources in my post that do go verse-by-verse. On that basis, I have literally no idea why you are claiming I am “running away from engaging with it”. You say “if you’re not willing to work through the verses like a good evangelical would and could..” – which is a totally unfounded comment. I’ve made it clear that the Biblical texts are hugely important to me, hence why I am doing a PhD in this area, recommending a long reading list for people, and committing to writing a book that goes through these passages, as well as taking public speaking dates. Simply because I’m not willing to host that kind of discussion in the context of a blog series does not mean I don’t take the verses seriously. It’s simply that I don’t think my blog is a constructive place for that conversation. So I have no idea how you can conclude from this post that I am in any way running away from debating the Bible. Quite the opposite – I value the Bible, and people, so much that I want to ensure any debate I host happens in the healthiest and best format possible. And while I love blogging, I’m not convinced it is the best vehicle for that for the reasons that this post clearly explains.

  • http://philgroom.wordpress.com/ Phil Groom

    Vicky — solidarity! May the Lord bless you and keep you, may his light shine upon you, and may his love illuminate all that you are doing. Stay strong.

  • ed77

    And yet Vicky you seem unwilling to discuss or debate with Peter the conclusions you make or the basis on which you make them.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    But once again, I’m afraid that’s just ducking the issue. If you want to support these books you reference as being good reading on the subject, then be prepared to defend them. At the moment all you’re doing is saying “The traditional position is wrong” without providing any explanation why. And pointing to these books doesn’t do that, because if I choose one argument from Vine and post a response here to show how it is wrong, are you going to engage with it?

    So as far as I can see, your position at the moment is “You’re wrong, but I’m not going to tell you why you’re wrong, and if you try and ask me to engage with some of these other arguments that I’m pointing to to explain why you’re wrong I’m still not going to discuss it with you even if you show how those arguments I’m relying on are incorrect”.

    Can I suggest if you want to write a book as part of your PhD, that you take a rest from advocating on this issue in public until your book is out? Because the longer you maintain this position of not *actually* engaging with the material in public whilst still insisting it’s the correct interpretation, the more people are going to become frustrated with what seems a fairly obvious attempt to dodge actually discussing this in any public environment where your position might actually be seriously challenged.

    Sorry, but got to say it.

  • eωαη τμε ]οηες

    Thanks for carrying this discussion on Vicky – sorry to read that you’re still receiving abuse from certain quarters. While I think quite differently from you on some aspects of this issue your last paragraph is one that I wholeheartedly agree with.

    I’m saddened that some feel unable to express themselves without cruelty. Please don’t fall into the opposite trap of characterising *all* conservative evangelicals as angry and spiteful.

    I understand your decision not to engage in-depth with the bible passages in the blog format but hope that between the PhD and the book your interpretation of some of the key biblical texts will become clearer. Thanks also for the links to the books above. As you’ve pointed out, it’s an intentionally biased list and the conferences that you’re involved in are with Christians of a similar mindset.

    Given that, it would be fascinating to see or read a discussion between yourself and some of the men and women associated with livingout.org – have you had much opportunity to talk indepth with gay Christians who think more conservatively theologically? How does their willing decision to live celibate lives impact the debate? Are they deluded? or obedient? Ho do we account for the fact that they too will have approached the texts with the prayerful study you rightly commend. So much to consider! These are rhetorical questions as I think and type at the same time!

    I applaud your desire to bridge the gap between your polarised readership. In the end, it’s only the gospel of the God’s gracious love for a fallen world shown in Christ crucified, resurrected and ascended that will truly bridge these gaps. May God grant your wisdom and grace as you keep researching this issue.

    PS. 2 more thoughts:
    a) How helpful – genuinely and academically – do you think it is to equate the biblical texts on slavery with those on homosexuality? Where does the bible explicitly *endorse* slavery as morally acceptable? Is this comparable to the texts were the Bible appears to to explicitly condemn homosexual activity as morally wrong?

    b) Your consideration of the Berean community – you suggest that they came to the conclusion that Paul’s teaching was true. Is it ignoble of us then to examine Paul and find him to be wrong? Are we saying the Bereans were noble in their efforts but came to the wrong conclusions? If so, what discernable value is there in simply examining and trying to discern what is right? There must be a foundation, solid ground from which to begin exploring.

    Sorry to hear of the loss of your grandmother, God bless you as you bash on with this!!

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    I am with Peter on this one as many were led to believe a discussion will happen on this blog site. A discussion not based in emotionalism but simply discussing your (Vicky’s) interpretation of the typical parts of Scripture which led the broad church throughout history to consider male-female union in marriage as the purposed ideal for human relationships and flourishing. Or, highlighting passages of Scripture which you believe was never considered and which ought to be considered. It is sad that you suffer the abuse you do but all who enter these type of debates suffer that abuse from both camps – it would be best not to make them the foundation of the argument but keep the focus on the issue at hand. I have also spoken to a New Testament professor recently on a book he co-published on the new Testament reading of the scriptures and the church’s view on sexuality throughout history and they barely could find a publisher because their conclusions are contrary to yours – I’m sure you will find many mainstream publishers who gladly publish your book, so the income-effect also goes both ways.

    I would rather wait for your book to come out then as I prefer to not be part of either the mud slinging or emotionalism currently at play. The essence of these blog posts in the comments sections tend to become “aah, I can’t believe Christians are so unloving!” which is drawing away from the discussion as much as silly remarks thrown at you are.

    I would encourage others to also read reviews both in support and criticism of books like that of Vines’, such as this one by another same-sex attracted Christian: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1yndyePH4Ck8iv5WPy8u1yyh3pqXVMP5nTjAzEI6LqdU/viewform?c=0&w=1

  • Steve Holmes

    Hi Vicky, so sorry to hear of the loss of your grandmother; I know she meant a lot to you. A few random comments:

    1. I was surprised by the line ‘the above books are all ones that I think support the kind of LGBT Theology that I embrace’; they don’t all, of course; I assume this was a slip in editing (adding a couple of books late on and not revisiting that claim?); you might want to revise it.

    2. Gagnon’s book is the best on detailed exegesis, but ought to come with a health warning; the tone is often unpleasant (& when he strays off exegesis into other fields he is often badly wrong). We really need something as detailed but written with more grace…

    3. Vines and John – really? Two of the poorest books on that side of the debate, surely? (better than Robinson’s God Believes in Love, but that is hardly saying much…)

    3. The slavery/women comparisons. These are often made, and really interesting. As you know, I’m sure, slavery was more-or-less eliminated from the Roman empire quite quickly as a result of Christian ethical reflection; come the ‘European discovery of the world’ (the world knew it was there all along, as far as I can see…), there was a huge economic compulsion to engage in slavery, and as a result a series of (well-studied) exegetical gymnastics to try to get around what seemed to many to be a clear prohibition. To cast the history as a uniformly pro-slavery hermeneutic one day being overcome is to badly misunderstand it. (The history could, if one was being provocative, actually be read the other way up: in the West (only) we currently face a huge cultural pressure to revise classical Christian understandings of sexuality, and the exegetical gymnastics engaged in by some – only some – of the books on your list might be compared to those offered by the pro-slavery writers of five and two centuries ago…)

    4. On gender, again as I’m sure you know, the lasting Christian opposition to female priests came from an adoption of Aristotelian biology, which saw being female as being defectively human; once we, thankfully, got over that misbegotten idea, things changed fairly quickly in some places, and a whole variety of, often rapidly shifting, arguments got made in others to try to shore up the tradition. The first application of this is to note that we never read Biblical texts outside of our cultural context, and our interpretations are always coloured by our assumptions (we probably shouldn’t condemn earlier theologians too harshly for accepting the best science of their day…). Drawing an analogy to our present debate over sexuality, we might suggest a parallel argument to the effect that we didn’t used to understand sexual orientation, but now do, and so our readings need to be revised. Apart from the exegetical problems with the analogy (see Webb for the still-standard treatment, of course), this places huge weight on our understanding of sexual orientation, which anthropologists of sexuality would tell us is very locally culturally constructed, and post-Foucauldian queer theorists would want to deconstruct thoroughly as oppressive. So there’s an entire argument to be had about what we mean by ‘sexuality’ before we turn to the texts, and which will seriously affect our reading of the texts.

    5. Which leads me to think not treating texts one-by-one is actually the right way to go here; we need a Biblical theology of sexuality – which is to say a Biblical theology of marriage and celibacy – which is responsible to our best (not ‘our preferred’) understandings of gender and sexuality, and alert to our cultural locatedness. Once we have that, I suspect the interpretation of individual texts will be a trivial task.

    Anyway, looking forward to the book!

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Great stuff, and frankly the kind of thing Vicky should be doing here rather than palming off the debate.

  • http://vickybeeching.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Peter – baffled by your comments. I’ve said very clearly that I will outline my views, and have specified when, where and how. I’ve also provided numerous books that explain my view – the above list does so very adequately. All I’m saying is that a blogging format is very limited, and I’m not willing to let people damage one another through cavalier commenting. So I’m choosing not to do a verse-by-verse blog series. I have committed to explaining my approach to the Bible elsewhere, so I have no clue why you are claiming I am ducking out of anything. Like I said, baffled by your comments. Anyway, each to their own…have a good day.

  • Sally

    I’m sad that the verse by verse discussion won’t be taking place in this forum. I will no doubt read the book. I am however even more sad that the state of our ability to engage with each other as Christians is so poor, that it’s not possible to facilitate this conversation in an public forum and safeguard one’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. “Welcome with open arms fellow Christians who don’t see things the way you do” – seems to me we are all pretty rubbish at times at adhering to what the Bible teaches

  • Martin Blank

    I have to agree with Peter; it’s disappointing, and hard to see this as anything other than a ducking of the issue.

    I was looking forward to seeing how you personally came to a position of support for SSM from an evangelical, biblical perspective, but it seems we aren’t going to get that (or not until your book anyway!).

    It’s a shame, because I think there is a need for a ‘popular’ (as opposed to purely academic style) discussion on the issue. Most churchgoers are not about to read extensive academic studies on the topic; so you will not be convincing the average joe of your position via that route. I think blog posts and online discussion are a pretty ideal medium to address such issues in an easily understandable way.

    Having said all that I can understand that if you were receiving constant abuse and attacks for writing about this then you would not feel inclined to continue. I’m sorry if that is the case.

  • Anne Peat

    Since you, Peter, have announced you are going to stop blogging on this subject and may even take down your blog altogether because of the stress on you amongst other things, don’t you think it’s a bit rich of you to criticise Vicky for deciding to engage with the topic in a different way?

  • Robert Edwards

    That’s what I was wondering – Peter you claim to ‘not have enough time’ to engage with Matthew Vine in another comment, and yet you taunt Vicky about not being evangelical because she is not hurrying on this issue.

  • Gary Smith

    I am disappointed that you have concluded that this is not the best place to conduct the biblical basis for the place you have arrived at. By that I am NOT suggesting you are wrong or have ducked the issue. I am simply saying that I was looking forward to reading your thoughts. It is sad that the debate cannot be held with civility. I think a healthy debate will be that you will have people with strongly held opposing views. The sadness is that the discussion degrades so quickly into personal attacks.

    It is limiting that leaders and congregations stop singing your songs based on disagreements on secondary matters. If they appreciated the songs before the knew your views on the LGBT, feminist or role of women issues what has changed about the song?

    As a leader who is trying to discover how to pastor my city, with a diverse group of people many of whom do not share my faith, I spend much of my time with people who have views or lifestyles that I do not necessarily agree with. It is the role and calling of anyone who wants to be missional. Shame on the church that we cannot extend this grace to fellow disciples.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    So just to be clear, you will continue to advocate for a position in public that you refuse to debate on or engage with the other side on when they challenge you as to whether it’s a Biblical position? Or are you going to do a public debate before your book comes out?

    Explain to me why I should take you seriously? For eight years I have been willing to discuss *in public* the position I take and in doing so have let myself by challenged by others *in public* so that where I have a weak argument I can be corrected and grow in my understanding. all along trying to cultivate a more reasoned discussion on this issue within the Evangelical world. And you now waltz into this debate and say everything the likes of I and others argue is wrong, but you’re not going to discuss it in public and we all have to wait for this wonderful tome of yours and how bullying are we to insist you actually defend in public your position?

    Explain to us all exactly what credentials you have to engage in this debate *beyond* simply having a good PR company to get you onto TV and raise your profile? Because from this position (which has not only been being the hard work on the ground on discussing and debating this in the Evangelical world for a decade but has actually *lived* the hard decisions people make in this area), your sudden appearance as some kind of Evangelical authority on this issue who gets invited to speak at conference after conference *despite* the fact you won’t discuss any of the basic exegetical issues in public (or at those conferences) is just utterly unfathomable. And it’s not as if you have an academic or blogging background in this field. You have exactly the same level of degree from Oxford as I do and I did *far* more work in my undergraduate time on this issue than you did, and beyond that I have written and engaged on the actual exegesis and hermeneutic context of this issue in the Bible for much longer than you have.

    And once again, I say all of these things not purposefully aggressively but rather (I hope) as a brother in Christ who really wants to challenge you (iron sharpens iron) as to why you are doing this and why you are so keen to hold onto the label of “Evangelical” but won’t do any of the things Evangelicals actually do.

  • ed77

    Anne, think you need to re-read Peter’s comments.

  • Steve Holmes

    ‘Palming off’? Not sure I understand that. I’m afraid if the question is one of not following through on promised blog posts, I have a full year’s production of the sawmill to get out of my eye before I go looking for any specks in Vicky’s, or anyone else’s…

  • ed77

    Same point to you Robert, seriously I think everyone (including Vicky) needs to re-read what Peter has said, and engage with that rather than some knock down straw man version of what he has said!

  • ed77

    Steve, rejection of female priests does not come from Aristotelian biology.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Vicky, I am sorry to hear about the continued abuse that you have received and of your grandmother’s passing. I hope that the next few months will be considerably easier ones for you.

    Like Peter and others here, I am disappointed by the direction in which you have taken this series. Whatever your intentions may be, it feels like a somewhat cynical attempt to punt the debate into the academic long grass. While some of us would be quite happy and able to have such a debate—I suspect that I am not the only one here who has read and is familiar with most of the books mentioned above—it does feel like a bait and switch from the more open conversation this series originally seemed to promise.

    Most people don’t have access to a university library and would have to pay a lot of money to buy the books that you mention. Most people don’t have the time to devote to such intense reading on a single issue. Most people lack the theological background to pick up books like Coakley’s and be able to engage with it critically. While it is good to have books to recommend for further reading, this approach seems to render the conversation inaccessible to most people, rather than bringing the informed positions and voices of the academic conversation to the ears and understanding of a more popular level audience.

    I agree with others that a narrow focus upon the ‘six verses’ is an extremely unhelpful way to approach this question, which really requires a detailed theology of marriage and sexuality. However, one way or another, it is disappointing to be three instalments in without much substantive theological or biblical engagement.

    Can I suggest Oliver O’Donovan’s superb A Conversation Waiting to Begin as an addition to your list of recommendations? It isn’t a straightforward advocacy of one or other ‘side’ of the debate, but highlights some of the deeper dynamics that shape the conversation. An earlier version of the book was published as web sermons and Douglas Knight’s summary of them can be found here (the titles of the sections of the article link to the original sermons, which are really worth reading).

  • Stephen Youngs

    I think even more relevant than the point on slavery is the acceptance of divorce by many Christian churches (in my context, specifically the C of E). As far as I can see that was the only matter of personal relationships Jesus actually addressed himself, and yet the Holy Spirit has guided (some of ) us to an acceptance that some vows before God can be broken where not to do so would be harmful to the realisation of His Kingdom (i.e a greater sin than continuing in marriage). Love always trumps hate, in personal relationships as in all else.

    If we believe God is still at work in the world today, and didn’t down tools ‘job done’ some time in the fourth century, then the development of scripture and our understanding of it continues. As stated in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God”. Thanks to the coming of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, God continues to inspire the revelation of the path to His Kingdom through both historical scripture, and yes, even blogs!

    I look forward to your book Vicki, and really hope I can get to Greenbelt for the first time in my life!

  • ed77

    Stephen, Divorce per se is not the problem, at issue is divorce then re-marriage.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Indeed. Many may have presented an influential Aristotelian rationale for their opposition, but the primary and lasting impulse to resist female priests has come from readings of the Christian scriptures.

  • Stephen Youngs

    Debate on Matthew 5:31-32 could go on some time! That wasn’t really my point. However the Church of England agreed in 2002 that divorced people could remarry in church under certain circumstances, and frequently do. Sometimes a love-less and even abusive marriage is replaced by one blessed by lifelong fidelity and love. I don’t have any problem seeing God at work in that, but it is a significant development from a strict and literal interpretation of Scripture by a mainstream Christian Church. As such, and especially in the context of human relationships, it is a relevant precedent when considering how the same Church should respond to recent secular developments in the sacrament of marriage.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Good stuff. I have personally moved from a “divorce is always wrong” mentality to a “divorce is sometimes the right and Godly thing” view, NOT because I met happy loving couples who were previously divorced but rather because I read some brilliant stuff on how Jesus’s words on divorce are actually part of a wider Rabbinical debate on the issue. None of us who remarry (some but not all) divorcees are simply ignoring Scripture, we’re trying to get to the heart of what Scripture actually says and then apply it in our and others’ lives. I read the Greek, I read the contemporaneous debate and that shaped my view.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Agreed. And even to the extent that an ‘Aristotelian’ rationale has been offered, it is not just simply biological but one based in Aristotle’s complementarian idea of men and women’s relationship in the Ethics and the Politics. That has its objectionable features (eg the claim that women’s reasoning needs to be guided by men) but the fundamental idea that men and women reach their natural end as complementary parts of a couple and, a fortiori, a household surely requires more than a superficial reference to Aristotelian embryology. (And if that generally Aristotelian idea of complementarity hadn’t been thought consistent with Scripture, it wouldn’t have been taken up by (eg) Aquinas in STh Ia q92 a1 et ff where the predominant authority of Scripture is clear.)

    There is clearly a lot more to be said here, but it’s that sort of airy superficiality in Biblical and theological/philosophical scholarship that is so irritating to those of us who would hold fast to traditional positions in these areas.

  • Ian Paul

    Steve, thanks for your comments here. But I think your observations actually support Peter’s point. Vicky has been saying for some time that she is supportive of a change to the traditional understanding of marriage and sex, long before giving any substantial theological reasons.

    As you point out, the books she cites as giving support to this idea are very poor, and particularly unconvincing in their handling of the Scriptural texts. If these really are the basis of Vicky’s change of view, then it is hard to see how she convincingly identifies herself as an evangelical still.

    I am not sure I quite agree with you though about needing a theology of sexuality *before* doing exegesis of individual texts. To get our theology right, then our doctrine needs to flow from our right reading of the biblical text, and not the other way around. And in this debate (particular in Brownson and Vines, the two people Vicky cites) the real problem is not just poor exegesis, but shockingly bad reading which really does not do much more the read their presuppositions into the text. So the issue here really is what the texts mean; this then must build into a theology of sexuality—which I think must be rooted in the binary gendered nature of humanity, something the texts consistently reinforce, though which Brownson and Vines try to paint out.

    Vicky, I am slightly surprised to hear you say you are researching this issue for your PhD. Have you changed from internet ethics?

  • Heather Pitt

    Vicky thank you for doing this. I did wonder why it was taking so long for the next post to be published and I can only imagine the hatred you must have received through your inbox. I have a couple of these books on my Amazon wishlist already and have read Walter Wink’s Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for Churches in between books on feminism and gender equality and Mandela’s biography – I am having a brief respite reading novels for the sake of my sanity. I will be praying for you, for strength and courage and maintenance of your emotional energy. x

  • Ian Paul

    Wayne, the Vines material has been analysed very well in a number of places across the web, and found to be wanting in the extreme.

  • Jeannie Armstrong

    There be big money in books and speeches and cultivating a pc reputation…there be none in being shown to be in error in a blog…

  • Ian Paul

    Vicky, a really easy way to a. give folk something to be going on b. strengthen your argument and c. promote your book would be to post some extracts on the key texts as you go along.

    That way people can see where you are coming from, and you can also reshape your writing in the light of responses.

    How does that sound as an idea?

  • ElizD

    For Christians, marriage has a purpose and its unitive and procreative aspects cannot be wllfully separated. Samesex relationships are a different thing than marriage, which has to do with having children through one another (“matrimony”, making a mother) and raising a family. The Bible is clearly supportive of chastity, and clearly against same sex behavior. Revisionist “theology” is self serving and does not fool God. It just makes a break away from traditional Christianity and faithfulness to the natural moral law and to Scripture. The Bible begins and ends with marriage… from the creation of Adam and Eve, a married couple and first parents to all the living, to the heavenly Wedding Feast of the Lamb to his bride the Church.

  • ianjmatt

    Just because someone wants to debate doesn’t mean a blog author has to. Vicky is under no obligation to do anything other than what see believes is the right approach. Demanding that she debates here has a certain arrogance to it.

  • ianjmatt

    Vicky – in my prayers as you work through the material for your PHD. I look forward to reading the finished product.

    To come to Vicky’s defence from those insisting she should do a line-by-line exegesis here: just because someone wants to debate doesn’t mean a blog author has to. Vicky is under no obligation to do anything other than what see believes is the right approach. Demanding that she debates here has a certain arrogance to it.

  • Jo Macdonald

    Vicky , thank you so much for being brave enough to keep going even when you have been under so much attack. I would also repeat Vicky’s request for respectful comment from those who disagree with Vicky. Christ call us to love one another and Paul warns to beware of the small but lethal tongue, I think if he had known about computer keyboards he would have warned us about finger tips too!

  • Sharon Eldergill

    Thank you Vicky. You have made it perfectly clear that you consider this such an important subject that you are prepared to give it considerable time and scholarship in writing a prayerfully considered book, which will examine biblical passages and their context and meaning. This promises to be a thorough engagement and contribution to ongoing discussion in a far richer format than a blog alone. Far from running away from discussion, you are digging in deeper in an attempt to unearth and provoke meaningful debate and understanding. My prayers are with you in this venture.

  • PastorB

    Another good book to add to your list on this subject – Slaves, Women and Homosexuals, by William J. Webb

    Yes, homosexuals are loved by God, by you, by me, and by many others, but true love speaks the truth to those we love. The truth of the Word is unmistakable.

    “Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (HCSB)

    Why is that? Because He is holy. We are all born with strong inclinations to sin, yet we too can be made holy, if we accept Christ’s sacrifice & repent of our sin, not endorse it or accept it. To excuse/endorse sin is to not only disregard the cross, but to lead people away from true freedom.

    You are asking people not to be verbally abusive, but isn’t that just your “interpretation” of Scripture that determines it is wrong to verbally abuse someone or maybe you don’t understand that those people were just born verbally abusive? I encourage you to write some follow-up blogs on why it is okay to steal, commit adultery, hold things of this world in higher regard than God (a.k.a. idolatry) because our interpretations have been wrong all this time & the Bible is obviously only talking about actual wooden or golden statue idols in 1 Corinthians 6.

    This popular line of re-thinking the interpretation of God’s Word should not be a shock to anyone who has studied Scripture. Satan used it first, “Did God really say?” + God told us this was coming (2 Peter 2:17-3:3 & Isaiah 5:18-24). May God grant you mercy & repentance.

  • Ian Paul

    Sure–but that is the same Paul who warns that continuing in same-sex relations is a kingdom issue.

    Some people are just angry and rude and have a problem. But others are genuinely concerned when people (like Vicky) in a place of real influence, especially amongst younger and newer Christians, might be seriously misleading them without giving good reason—and are cross about it, quite possibly rightly so.

    ‘Of those to whom much has been given, much will be demanded.’ (Luke 12.48). ‘Not many of you should desire to be teachers…’ (James 3.1)

    (You might be thinking of James in relation to the tongue…)

  • Ty Sullivan

    Vicky I have just recently met you through Twitter and Amanda Hite as is we share the same ideals and thoughts and hopes for this world. I can tell you that everything you have said here, stood by and dared to challenge is some of the most inspiring work I have seen in a long time.
    I support you and anything I can do to help spread your TRUE outlook at Christianity I will do so. True Christianity, I believe, as will many theologians I am friends with here in NYC, feel that God’s love knows no bounds and prejudice and should a person choose to love someone of the same sex then that is what shall be. God taught us to love. God taught all creatures to love. No matter race, culture, sexuality.
    Keep doing what you are doing my friend. The words maybe hurtful. The backlash may cause those how can not see to back away but for every ONE that does step away from you Two or THREE more will join and the sheer amount in volume will fill your world with positive and like thinking people.
    Go get ‘em pal!
    Ty

  • Shells

    “Samesex relationships are a different thing than marriage, which has to do with having children through one another (“matrimony”, making a mother)” So if there is a Christian marriage and the wfe is unable to have children, are they now in a different kind of marriage? Especially, if the argument of “matrimony” is the making of a mother and raising a family. I don’t think you have a strong argument if that is what you are basing it on.

  • Anne Peat

    Thank you ed77 but I have read and reread Peter’s comments and Vicky’s answers several times, and my question to Peter remains (and remains unanswered.) “Ducking the issue” can apply both ways.

  • Tony Whittaker

    Vicky, may add a few varied thoughts:

    1) So sorry that you are having to cope with negative posts. Hope that you have people who can perhaps help you not have to handle them alone, not leave you to be the lightning conductor that has comments ‘going to ground’ through you, and rolling round your mind at 2 in the morning.

    2) You observe that your readership is very broad, and doubtless there are some very conservative people who only wish to read your stuff in order to comment – indeed to ‘defend the truth’ as they see it. As is the right of all of us, to comment on anything online that requests comment.

    3) I think there must be a big middle ground, certainly here in UK, of people who are not particularly conservative, but feel conflicted, and this will surely only increase as we all have gay friends and relatives who are out, starting to marry, and in some cases (by whatever means) be also bringing up children. The very conservative people, who consider this a matter of utmost principle, indeed apostasy, are unlikely to move significantly.

    The conflicted people will feel a tension between an open and warm response to LGBT people, while not seeing a biblical justification. They need to see ways to handle this.

    4) It always helps anyone holding any position they have arrived at (on anything) – to remember how and why they felt on it 5 or 10 years ago.

    5) A very big issue we all need to face is church splits. These are always tragic, and will increase. The UMC in US is teetering on disintegration. In UK, our wonderful CoE manages to hold disparate people with all sorts of views on many things, within the umbrella. Vicky, how can advocates on any side of this one hold their positions sufficiently lightly, and maybe move sufficiently slowly, that entire individual churches, groupings and denominations don’t split where this can be avoided? I think the church desperately needs healers to help them with this. It’s a rare gift. Maybe a book on this is needed too?

    6) Vicky, I hope you won’t let yourself be redefined, by everyone else, from ‘theologian and social media commentator’ into purely ‘LGBT activist’ because that probably diminishes your voice on anything. And for your own wellbeing, I hope you will be able to maintain your focus and thought on a range of issues, rather than just one.

  • lisa

    I concur, Sharon. In addition I have always deeply appreciated your emphasis on listening, and not taking past. This is actually what keeps me coming back to you. And Vicky – so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. Bless you in this time and grief.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Another alternative would be to carry out the conversation above the line. Vicky could invite someone like you or Peter to discuss the issues with her, as spokespersons for a more traditional position.

    One of my disappointments about the series so far is that it promised to be a ‘conversation’, but hasn’t really been at all. While much has been said about angry and abusive conservative responses to Vicky’s position within her posts, someone who merely read her posts could be forgiven for being unaware of the calm, informed, and respectful criticisms of her position that were also being voiced by conservatives, many of them in the comments.

    We all have a degree of choice when it comes to our opponents. Consistently focusing upon mean and abusive opponents is a great way of marginalizing more intelligent and respectful critics. It can subtly discredit opposing viewpoints, without the need for any close and challenging engagement with them at all. If Vicky wants a high quality conversation on the subject—as many of us on the conservative side of this issue also do—why doesn’t she choose some high quality interlocutors, and marginalize the trolls instead?

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Vicky, I really hope that I’m surprised and that you surprise yourself with the conclusions reached in your new book.

  • http://www.twofriarsandafool.com/ Douglas Underhill

    I support what you’re doing here, and I’m glad you’re doing it.

    One thing I worry about is the safety of my friends and family who are LGTBQ in churches, since I imagine that a majority of churches in the US are not going to be open and affirming. Can we perhaps share resources people can use to find open and affirming churches in their own neighborhood? Because I can imagine the harm it would do if a LGBTQ person was encouraged by this deeper reading of the Bible and theological reflection on sexuality, and walked into a church where they were not welcome and accepted.

  • http://www.twofriarsandafool.com/ Douglas Underhill

    Nothing Vines says is new, though he does say what he says well. Any person intent on remaining biased against equality will find reasons to justify that bias, whether the bias is based in gender, or race, or sexual orientation. American colonists used the Bible to justify genocide, for goodness’ sake. I have had multiple debates on the issue, have thoroughly refuted points raised in defense of bias, and it hasn’t mattered very much, except perhaps to whoever the audience was. But no matter what is brought forward, anyone intent on not being convinced will not be convinced.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Have you considered the possibility that Vines’ arguments aren’t particularly convincing for most people not already persuaded of his conclusions, not simply because people are biased, but because his arguments aren’t especially strong ones?

  • http://www.twofriarsandafool.com/ Douglas Underhill

    I have indeed. My observation is that making strong, reasonable arguments only has an impact on people who are already prepared to change their minds. One reason for this is that human beings are not only, or maybe even primarily, rational creatures. If there is a high cost for someone changing their mind – a conservative Christian leader, say, who would lose status, income, identity, friendships and so on – it seems to require some kind of crisis to bring change.

    The Bible was written by people who had no idea what sexual orientation is, and who did not share any of our assumptions about biology, the mind, gender, relationships, law and so on. In trying to apply these texts in a 1:1 way, we are going to keep finding inescapable ambiguity. In most cases, there is no “the Bible clearly says X” on a given question.

    The thing I’ve seen that truly changes opinions is relationships. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to who has changed the opinion to support equality cites a relationship as a primary reason.

  • Anna

    Eek! Clearly someone’s got a touch of the green-eyed monster! “Explain to us all exactly what credentials you have to engage in this debate *beyond* simply having a good PR company to get you onto TV and raise your profile?”

  • Anna

    Interesting, so what you’re saying is that because you are a divorcee who has since remarried, you have come to the conclusion that being divorced is ‘ok’ in your situation. So if you hadn’t decided to get divorced, would you see divorce as wrong?

  • http://lorismusic.com Lori Grace

    Vicky, I used to lead worship for a youth group at a Vineyard church. I then led worship for other smaller Calvary Chapel and nondenominational churches. I have since transitioned as I am a trans woman. I remain married to my wife and we have two beautiful children. Most of those who I thought were life long friends in the church have since abandoned me and cast me out as less than a Christian for the “lifestyle” I’ve chosen. Yet God has remained faithful and carries me through on a daily basis. I can’t quit God because he never gave up on me.

    Your music has always been an inspiration to me and I am sorry to hear that you becoming an ally to LGBT people has brought you so much heartache. Just know that I’ve always admired your passion for Christ and it continues to inspire me today. I’m still singing and occasionally get opportunities to lead worship. I always think back to Brain Doerksen’s song, “Will You Worship?” and know that whether I’m singing in front of 500 or in my own bedroom, it’s the audience of One who I’m worshiping.
    I do bow down before my Lord and King, and I’m forever grateful I’ll be his child of grace.

  • Eaglet2

    I don’t believe Peter is divorced and remarried, or his wife – he’s ‘remarrying’ in the sense of sense of officating at weddings of divorcees.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Dear, oh dear. Not every fits the ‘pret-a-pergatory’ self-excusing hypocrite mold.

  • Georgie Curtin

    Hi Vicky, I hope you’re well. Thank you for the strength you’ve shown in continuing with this series. I very much look forward to reading the book you are writing and to reading the books you’ve shared with us all in your latest blog. As I’ve said before, thank you for all your doing. All the best, Georgie!

  • http://www.jamesprescott.co.uk/ James Prescott

    Hey Vicky, great to have you back blogging again, and truly sorry for both the loss of your Grandma & the abuse you’ve had to put up with. Definitely praying.

    In relation to the post, although mildly disappointed you won’t be going through the verses here, contrary to some others who’ve commented, I think writing a book on the subject is a far bolder, more courageous step. Blog posts don’t have to go into as much detail, they don’t have as much depth, even the best ones. Writing a book means tackling the subject head on and going deep – and I admire your courage in going for it. I’m looking forward to the book.

    I’m currently in the midst of doing the Building Bridges course from the Marin Foundation, which our church is running. It’s been wonderful. We’re on the theology part, and I’ve been doing my own research. I’m really looking forward to reading your theological take on this subject. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Ad hominem.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    ‘So if there is a Christian marriage and the wife is unable to have children, are they now in a different kind of marriage?’

    This comparison with childless straight marriages is trotted out time and time again to represent SSM objectors as homophobic. The issue here is the prioritization of parental claims through marriage.

    Marriage is specifically meant to found a legally resilient family unit via the a presumption of paternity: that if a husband could be the natural parent and wants to be the legal parent, he will be the parent. The burden of proving paternity of the wife’s children is shifted away from him as soon as the marriage is made.

    Yes, a childless couple can declare that they also enjoy a presumption of parenthood too, but to no avail, if they have no children.

    The presumption is based on a prima facie acceptance that the couple might be able to have their own children. The registrar doesn’t test for fertility.

    A presumption is not a routinely conclusive legal fiction. Nevertheless, for this to have legal force in this case of same-sex couples, the law would have to give greater priority to their parental intentions via marriage than even unrenounced biological parenthood, as happened in California (In re: M.C.).

    No wonder that, in California, Senator Leno’s remedy was three-parent families in order to recognise the rights of the biological father who produces a child with a same-sex married couple.
    It’s the logical outcome of intentionally ignoring prima facie incapacity for shared biological parenthood in order to recognise the parental claims of both the same-sex couple and the child’s biological parent.

  • Ian Paul

    It’s not about jealousy. It’s about the notion that anyone’s view is as good as anyone else’s, which means the end of learning.

    Have a read of this http://thefederalist.com/2014/01/17/the-death-of-expertise/

  • Ian Paul

    Yes, I would be very happy to discuss with you Vicky above the line, taking the issues in turn.

  • Ian Paul

    James, it does not have to be either/or. Vicky is well known online, and there is no reason why she could not post extracts from the book as a work in progress—which would also promote the book and help shape thinking.

    I am unclear why this couldn’t happen and be very effective.

  • http://www.jamesprescott.co.uk/ James Prescott

    Ian, I am sure it could – and I hope it does. Just making the point that doing a book (and then doing posts linked from the book possibly) is more courageous, and better, than simply doing a blog series (which is courageous in its own right). No problems :-)

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Peter has a point. We’ve already seen Vicky’s rather crude comparisons of the traditional position on homosexuality with support for slavery and subjugation of women.

    To then claim: ‘All I’m saying is that a blogging format is very limited, and I’m not willing to let people damage one another through cavalier commenting.’
    That’s right, folks. Limited enough to use a cavalier comparison with slavery as a damaging analogy and then claim that it’s not the right format to debate such an aspersion.
    Rich!

  • MisterDavid

    Hi Vicky,

    In the vein of Chesterton – that morality, like art, requires the drawing of a line somewhere – where do you believe that the Bible draws the line on sexual relationships? I ask because most advocates of same-sex marriage that I have read do not draw a line, only erase the one that has traditionally existed, and I think that this is a real weakness of the argument. Do you think that the line should be redrawn to define marriage as ‘between two people’ (a la PCUSA), or elsewhere?

    My motive in asking: I think that, if you are looking at a ‘plain reading’ of the Bible, polygamous marriage is FAR more easy to justify than same-sex marriage, yet none of the ‘accepting evangelicals’ (please forgive the scare quotes!) I have read advocate for this.

    Thanks for your work, and do forgive the Christiantrolls. As ever, we are the least graceful bunch around….

  • Ian Paul

    Just that it looks like that’s not going to happen…

  • http://phillsacre.me.uk/ Phill Sacre

    Hi Vicky,

    Can I second having an above the line debate on this? I think if you were to host something a bit more football, with maybe one or more guests presenting the opposite point of view that would work well. A knee of debate.

    Part of the problem is that if you just point at a few books and say, “go and read those” – it ends thx discussion. A lot of those books have, in my opinion, serious flaws which can’t really be addressed unless we look at since of the details.

    Also, I agree with some other comments – I think it is somewhat ducking the issue. I read an interesting review of Matthew Vines’ book recently, which said for the church to accept LGBT relationships, all he had to do was create sufficient doubt in the readers’ mind. It’s not about getting to the truth, it’s about creating a question mark. I think that’s a bit like what you’re doing here: by simply linking to books with no rejoinder, it makes it look like all those books make a knock-down case. Which, in my opinion, they do not.

    I feel like the biblical case for the traditional position on sexuality is very strong, and by not engaging with it you make it sound like there are many valid options.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as an ‘angry conservative’ – I just desire more truth and light.

    Phill

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    The Bible was written by people who had no idea what sexual orientation is, and who did not share any of our assumptions about biology, the mind, gender, relationships, law and so on.

    Yep. You could also say that it was naïve for Christ to hark back to a principle recorded in Genesis and apply a deduction in respect of divorce, especially when the Genesis has so little in common with first-century ‘assumptions about biology, the mind, gender, relationships, law and so on.’

    Perhaps, John the Baptist would have been more accepting of Herodias’ marriage to Herod Antipas had he spent some time engaging with their ‘lived experience’.

  • that story girl

    Vicky, thank you so much for this series – and looking forward to both reading more of the series online and your ensuing book.

    I too felt sadness when I read the comments in both of the last posts and some here (though the vehemence seems somewhat subdued here – perhaps it’s too early to say) and understand your decision to change tack with regards to the direction of the series. I find it sad to say the least that folks who claim to be disciples of Jesus can be so indiscriminate with their words – and I’ve seen it from both sides. But amongst it all you have remained a model of graciousness, honesty and patience – a role-model for us all. Thank you

  • danonbass

    Yes, I was disappointed to have to wait to hear Vicky’s research into this. But after several years of seeing this issue debated online, I agree with her conclusion that a Blog is not the best place to present a complex argument, theological or otherwise.

    I do think Vicky’s decision is most upsetting to those people who have zero interest in actually understanding her arguments. They are upset that they have been denied an opportunity to ‘defend the faith’ and they are taking their negative emotions out on her in the comments section. It’s fairly transparent because as we can see here, those same people are preaching their own message in the comments without having heard Vicky’s arguments.

  • http://imgettingthere.com Valery Owen

    The good news is, this is your blog, your future book and your opinion. If you don’t want to host the discussion or do a full analysis of verses regarding homosexuality here…you don’t have to. I’m not sure why so many people feel like it’s your duty to do what they want. Thanks for the insight, can’t wait to read your book and most importantly, thanks for (attempting to) maintain some peace here and in your own life.

  • Paul Robinson

    Pete, Just because she is approaching this topic in a way that is different than how you might, does not mean it is wrong. Why does she need to engage in a debate with you? If she ever chose to do a debate I am pretty sure that it would be more worthwhile for her and everyone on both sides to do so with someone who has a similar sized voice in Evangelicalism as Vicky. I don’t think you fit that bill.

    She is writing a PHD and a book so I’m pretty sure you will have more than a chance to engage with where Vicky stands on this.

  • Lancelot

    Great work!! Thank you!! Blessings from South Africa! :)

  • Paul Robinson

    I’ve never written a PHD but I have friends who have. It took over pretty much all of their life. So…I’m not sure how anyone can accuse Vicky of ducking the issue when she is prepared to go through the difficult, long, and laborious work for researching, writing, editing and thinking through this issue.

    If she was truly ducking the issue, she wouldn’t bother with a pHD AND a book.

  • Ian Paul

    That’s a bit bizarre! you criticise people for making comments without hearing Vicky…when she has said she isn’t going to express her view?

    She has pointed people to Vines and Brownson—whom people (including me) have engaged with quite fully. There are plenty of folks out there willing to have a reasonable discussion—but dismissing the ‘traditional’ view without saying why does look like a great encouragement…!

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Okay, I’m sure that liberals have their gripes, but here are the Ten commandments of comment cordiality with Con-Evos:

    1. Thou shalt not compare any traditional position on marriage to support for slavery or subjugation of women.
    2.Thou shalt not resort to flimsy ‘knock-down’ proof-of-homophobia arguments (like ‘How come you’d let infertile couples marry?)
    3. Thou shalt not portray any Christian who opposes homosexuality as a Christological heretic.
    4. Thou shalt not contradict a previously agreed principle of interpretation half-way into a thread.
    5. Thou shalt not resort to the ‘lived experience’ argument as an alternative to scriptural enquiry.
    6. Thou shalt not invoke ‘mixed fibres and shellfish’ arguments against any OT quote about homosexuality.
    7. Thou shalt not interpret the absence of a written quote from our Lord on homosexuality, or any other sexual behaviour as affirmation of either.
    8. Thou shalt not declare traditional position to be guilty by invoking the Far right panic button.
    9. Thou shalt not assume that most who hold the traditionalist position are ill-informed regarding peer-reviewed scientific studies about human sexuality.
    10. Thou shalt not use the power of the moderator to lord it over thoughtful, carefully expressed differences between commenters.

  • Paul Robinson

    And what about before blogs and the internet? Did those who questioned slavery and discussed and worked through it not do thoroughly enough because they didn’t blog about it?

    Were they ducking the issue?

    No. of course not. How much time do you have to blog and then write a book and then a PHD on one topic?

    If I disagreed with Vicky I would rather she took the time to really put together a substantial argument before I would engage with her.

    Blogging doesn’t really allow that same thoroughness.

    A book does.

  • http://www.twofriarsandafool.com/ Douglas Underhill

    Sarcasm. Almost as much fun as straw men. Enjoy yourself, and let me know if there is anything you would like to actually discuss.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    I’m actually making a serious comparison. Many first-century Jewish minds were as far removed from the Genesis model as we are from first-century assumptions.

    Why should Christ deduce anything from such a primitive model (even by Jewish standards)? Why should any of it hold any sway over even the first-century church’s position on divorce. ‘Cos Jesus said so?

    Also, why does the church laud JTB and denigrate Herodias. Okay, she divorced one brother to marry another, but why was that wrong? What if Herod Philip had an intolerable temper and, by comparison, Herod Antipas was kind and generous towards her? What person wouldn’t fight to keep a good marriage?

    All that JTB bluntly tenders is that their marriage (approved by Rome) was not lawful (exestin). By whose standard? The much maligned Levitical code?

  • danonbass

    You along with others seem to be missing that point that she’s is not declining to comment on this. She is unwilling to engage in this discussion on this forum because she feels that it is unproductive. However, she has stated that she is currently writing a book about why she has dismissed the ‘traditional’ view. Patience is a virtue. You want it now and in this forum. But you can’t have that. So you poke and prod. Or at least, that is how it appears.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    ‘I am pretty sure that it would be more worthwhile for her and everyone on both sides to do so with someone who has a similar sized voice in Evangelicalism as Vicky.’
    I disagree. While Vicky might be the poster-child of evangelicalism for traditional mass media, but that’s all the more reason why she should accede to his request. It gives space for unedited informal dialogue.
    Otherwise, we’ll get an over-moderated and rigorously over-edited ‘debate’ casting the liberal ‘goody’ vs. conservative ‘baddy’.
    If that happens, no prizes for guessing who’ll be the only one wearing the media-polished halo of gay-friendly virtue!

  • danonbass

    These appear to be random guidelines that you have pulled out of thin air. Also, The “liberals” huh? Keep using labels in a pejorative fashion.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Danonbass, you may have a point. It’s Vicky’s bog and as you say, ‘she is unwilling to engage in this discussion on this forum because she feels that it is unproductive.’

    Nevertheless, what was Vicky Beeching willing to do apart from supply reading resources? She compared the traditional position on marriage to past wrongful support for slavery and gender subjugation.

    Let’s say N.T. Wright did a similar thing. Let’s say he declared his support of traditional marriage, but made a unflattering comparison of the revisionist position to those who approve of incest and polygamy.

    Would you really expect those of your side to quietly acquiesce on the basis of patience until he produced a book about why he dismisses the revisionist view? Surely, you can see how such comparisons are unnecessarily inflammatory.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Lighten up. Oh, yes, I know lives are at stake, but why pejorative? I’m open to a similar list of debating faux-pas to which Con-evos (another pejorative?) might adhere.

    I actually think that most churchgoers’ opinions are neither; sitting somewhere between the most radical and reactionary arguments that find their way into the blogosphere.

  • Gunesh

    Hi Vicky, I live in Istanbul and born gay Muslim and I became Christian 3 years ago! one of the reason I changed my religion is that I found God’s love in Christianity. I found tolerance with God, not judging anybody and forgiving all. For me the best way of living our lives is trying to be like Jesus. Trying to live our lives like him. Loving one another liked he loved us.
    So I don’t understand when people are so judging the others even though God loves everybody. I don’t understand people’s object trying to put you down when you are talking about God’s love. You are doing good, you are helping me at least! Far from there and not many Christians here where I live but I feel so good when I read your blog. God loves me even though I am gay! I know that I am not a bad person, and I believe in him, why shouldn’t he love me? If I think being gay is something what God forbids, I can’t believe ı
    In him anymore so Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Gunesh

  • http://www.twofriarsandafool.com/ Douglas Underhill

    I don’t think it is reasonable to equate the difference between late Bronze Age Mediterranean culture and early Iron Age Mediterranean culture with the difference between either and our own culture. This is all speculation, but in my view our understanding of how our world works, how we understand ourselves, is drastically different. We live in the aftermath of Aquinas, the Rennaissance(s), Luther, Hume, Nietzche, Marx, Freud, the modern nation-state, market capitalism, post-modernism, the industrial revolution and the digital revolution. Comparatively, the distance between Jesus and Genesis is infinitesimal.

    So Jesus drawing on his own tradition to illustrate a point about divorce and hardheartedness makes perfect sense to me. Us trying for a 1:1 correlation between the ancient world and our own world does not.

    Presumably, JTB was referring to his understanding of his own tradition, rather than the Roman legal code, and Jesus regularly reinterpreted that same legal code, in some cases making it more stringent (re: violence, coveting) and some cases making it less so (re: stoning, Gentiles). I imagine the Church lauds JTB because he was Jesus’ precursor, and his movement fed into Jesus’ movement, and I imagine the church denigrates Herodias based on the story of her demanding JTB’s head.

  • ashley collishaw

    It would seem to me that there is a clash of expectation here between popular engagement and academic engagement.

    Many of those comments here that appear to be browbeating Vicky into a debate are actually academically minded individuals who are used to the process of presenting an argument which is then peer reviewed and critiqued (as opposed to being criticized). For those not used to the academy model, this cut and thrust may seem aggressive, but Vicky repeatedly speaks of her PhD studies and this brings certain academic assumptions about methods and willingness to engage with respected peers (which I do not claim to be).

    The frustration for those academic peers is that Vicky is not engaging academically (which is her absolute right). Her latest blog is the academic equivalent of presenting the conclusion of a paper along with a rather thin bibliography but refusing to publish the argument from the body of the paper.

    As I said, Vicky has an absolute right to present her thoughts in a non-academic fashion. The fact that she is intending to make her argument not first in a published thesis but rather in a published book, should set the tone for our engagement (or not).

    Personally I would be really interested to engage in a deep, academically rigorous
    presentation of Vicky’s arguments but, with huge respect to her, I have already read enough popular material on this issue and was hoping for something more original. I am no expert in this but I have been seriously and openly engaged in this area of study for over two decades. It matters to me.

    Perhaps Vicky is right and a blog is not the place for the academic testing of ideas, but neither is a bestselling paperback, or speaking on panels of the like-minded to conferences of the already convinced. In fairness I can understand the reticence to present her arguments in this forum, the comments do so often sink into the fog of war. But a thoughtful, ordered presentation with the possibility of considered response from someone like Peter Ould, would perhaps offer something of the depth of study that Vicky
    argues for, with the academic testing that all original thinking must expect.

  • Paul Robinson

    But none of that is her fault.

  • Ian Paul

    Gunesh, I think your experience is the reason why many here are so frustrated that Vicky says she is rejecting the well-established teaching of the church over generations, based on the Scriptures, but is not giving a reason for doing so.

    There are a good many gay men who also know God loves them, but have good reasons to believe that God calls them to be fulfilled without engaging in a same-sex sexual union. I am not one of them, but you can find out more at http://www.livingout.org.

    Many of us feel that Vicky’s position, and her comments aligning the traditional view with e.g. defence of slavery is really closing down the discussion and not allowing the truth to be explored.

  • Eaglet2

    I think that’s an excellent summary of the issues – and yes, if Vicky seeks academic peer respect she needs to be open to academic peer review.

  • Ian Paul

    Ashley, blogs are great places for academic issues to be explored. It happens all the time amongst professional Bible scholars, and if people will engage with the issues, then it is a really good forum for exploring issues.

    But I think most people here are not looking for academic engagement—but just some engagement.

    One commentator below suggests Vicky is not campaigning—but the appointments she mentions really are powerful campaigning positions. I think some of us feel that to compare our position with the defence of slavery, not to follow that up with some good reasons, but on the other hand to be actively campaigning for the church to change its position—all without offering a coherent reason, even in lay terms, rather lacks integrity.

    Several of us would be very happy to have a good, fair discussion of the issues here or on our own blog sites, and I think I am unclear as to why Vicky is not interested in this. It would promote her work, and could offer a persuasive presentation of her position.

  • Eaglet2

    But it’s one thing to start a PhD, quite another to finish it. And then quite another to launch a respected academic career – and Vicky hasn’t done those yet.

  • Stephen

    I am surprised you identify as an evangelical when you are, I think, an Anglican and heading towards a PhD. You must be way too smart really to be an evangelical, and surely admitting that would free yourself from the bible-folk here demanding a verse-by-verse explanation of your view. All the best with your cause.

  • http://www.letterstomychurch.com Gabe Stoutimore

    Before I make my own point, I’d like to briefly address a theme that seems to be developing throughout this comment section. I’m not sure what some of you are expecting out of this: A chance to debate the issue? An opportunity to go tit-for-tat with Vicky, Bible verse by Bible verse, to see whose perspective is the right one? There are lots of phrases like “you can’t have your cake & eat it too” or “you’re ducking the issue” or (my personal favourite) “Limited enough for her to use a cavalier comparison with slavery and misogyny as a damaging analogy, only to declare that it’s not the right format to debate such an aspersion.”

    Let’s be very clear here, folks. THIS. IS. A. BLOG!

    This isn’t a CNN (or BBC) debate. It’s not a live chat. This is not a Facebook message. It’s not a google hangout. It’s not even a twitter conversation thread. This is a blog. Vicky has put forward her thoughts on the issue, and it seems like she has a lot more to share, so either tune in and agree or disagree as you so choose – or tune out. Don’t pretend that this is a kind of debate forum. It’s not. There are literally hundreds of comments here, and some of you are writing small novels with the expectation that you are (somehow) owed answers here. Where do you find the time? Some of us – and I expect Vicky falls into this group – are not so lucky.

    Now, for my point.

    I think the discussion on the theology around gay & lesbian relationships is incredibly interesting. Certainly, all sorts of holes could be punched into any NT passages condemning “homosexuality” (a word that only appeared in translations in the mid 1900s) and the arguments against the upholding of Mosaic and OT law are reinforced by all the other laws and prohibitions that Evangelical theology completely negates and ignored. That said, I have questions about the importance of an “Evangelical” identity.

    I would like to hear thoughts from all of you on what makes someone “Evangelical” at all. Obviously Vicky has lots of responses to write if she chooses to write any at all, but I do wonder if the evolution of an Evangelical interpretation (and thereby an Evangelical identity) is healthy. If some of us find Evangelical positions – or at least the ones that are traditionally accepted and affirmed – antiquated, bigoted, or biblically uninformed, why is it so important to preserve the Evangelical moniker upon the face of a changed body of identity. Surely, when “saved,” Evangelicals identify themselves as Christians first and Evangelicals second. If the issue here is evolving views on scripture, social practices, etc. should we not just leave Evangelical identity in antiquity and move on to another identification group within Christianity that is perhaps less-associated with what many might call bigoted and/or obscure views and beliefs? Why is it important to remain “Evangelical” when I am sure you believe that all Christians are united under Jesus? I’m quite curious to know, and I feel that perhaps it is due to not wanting to “leave the tribe” per say. Thoughts?

  • Ian Paul

    Here is my exploration of ‘What is an evangelical?’ http://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/what-is-an-evangelical/

  • Ian Paul

    Sarcasm…?? (Hard to tell online)

  • Suzanne Vernon-Yorke

    I just wanted to say thank you so much Vicky for putting the time into helping some of us to learn/unpack/engage. I’m so very sorry for you and for all of us that you have been on the receiving end of personal attacks. So painful. I think God is big enough to take us using our minds and trying to work out how we love God and each other better in this broken world. I don’t know you, but I’m sending love anyway, from one sister to another :) xxx <

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    In comparing the cultural divides, we would do well to remember just how radical Christ’s resort to citing the Genesis archetype was. Both Shammai and Hillel held to differing interpretations of the later Mosaic code.

    With what we now know of the human temperament, we might further declare that for Christ to make such a general pronouncement against divorce with the barest of exceptions (sexual immorality) was naive by worldly standards.

    Christ’s use of Genesis is an appeal to higher divine precedent, reducing Moses’ allowance for divorce to no more than a provisional accommodation, as you say, for hardheartedness.

    It’s still deduction that reasons from the Genesis principle of marriage (‘what God has joined together’) to the case of divorce for any cause (‘let not man divide’).

    His is an uncompromising line that allows so little wiggle room that it made the apostles probe his position further. So, I don’t buy the idea that we can make no further deduction from the Genesis archetype apart from its relevance to divorce. Yet, we dan happily make moral deductions about modern environmental pollution from the same book of Genesis.

    However, speculative that it might appear, Josephus corroborates the reason that Herodias’ marriage caused offence: ‘Herodias was married to Herod, the son of Herod the Great by Mariamme the daughter of Simon the high priest. They had a daughter Salome, after whose birth Herodias, taking it into her head to flout the way of our fathers, married Herod the Tetrarch, her husband’s brother by the same father, who was tetrarch of Galilee; to do this she parted from a living husband.’ (Antiquities)

    It was this flouting of the law of Moses that JTB described as unlawful.

  • Paul Robinson

    Not sure of your point.

  • Unbelievable!

    It’d be a bit much to expect a fully fledged argument right here and now, but it would be useful to at least have an outline of the line of argument…
    Hopefully its not just going to be the usual liberal line that: we can’t be sure what scripture references really meant; and anyway they aren’t talking about faithful stable committed homosexual relationships; and love is the basis of the law and prophets,so how can there be anything wrong with a relationship between two people who love each other; and anyone who disagrees is in effect continuing the oppression of gay people.
    That line of argument is what I keep hearing… yet no liberal would use it for sexual relationships that they disagree with – even though it could be used. Of that argument what would be wrong with for eg adult siblings of the same or opposite sexes, polygamy/polygyny, promiscuity, or divorcing to marry someone you love more?
    The reason that those loves are wrong is that healthy, righteous sexual relationships are not just a matter of human psychology (“love and cimitment”) but also of the physiological, sociological and generational realities/nature of being human.

  • Ian Paul

    Yes, well put. Vicky, is that an unfair summary of your position?

  • Emma

    Hi Vicky, I find this really interesting. As someone who sits on neither side of the metaphorical fence, I just find it an interesting subject to discuss. Many of my friends are LGBT and it’s always helpful to have a fresh perspective and encourage them at whatever stage of their journey they’re at with God. I’d really like to read your paper when you’ve completed your PhD as it will be interesting to see through your ‘prayerful ponderings’ how your views mature and develop and what conclusions you draw out through the process. Please publish it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on what’s clearly a divisive and an explosive topic you’re really brave. God’s clearly given you a gift and an audience and the grace to handle both. Many blessings to you. Ex

  • http://www.twofriarsandafool.com/ Douglas Underhill

    So we seem to mostly agree. I’m not claiming that we can deduce nothing, only that a simplistic 1:1 correlation makes no sense, and that 1:1 is the basis for use of every “clobber passage” used as justification for bias. Marriage doesn’t now mean what it did then. Neither does gender. We can thoughtfully derive ideas and values pertaining to the environment from Genesis, but we can’t proof-text as if the authors of Genesis were ecologists.

  • Andrews5

    Thank you Vicky for an interesting blog and a very careful and thoughtful approach to some very real issues. I am saddened to read the predictable academic wrangling and spoiling for an argument from people who have done ‘ far more work than you’ on this at undergraduate level. Such arrogance from self-proclaimed experts only demeans and undermines the seriousness of this debate which touches so many lives. This is about so much more than point-scoring and sparring. Humility rules ok !

  • RevTechnoHubby

    Vicky – I take a very different view on this issue to you but can I say how saddened I am that you had such vitriol and abuse as a result of sharing what you believe. I would hope that the Church would be a place where everyone can find a welcome – even those with whom I disagree on certain issues – too often it is not. Please do not be tempted to dismiss evangelicals from your discussions because some behave badly – and even if at the end of the conversation both sides retain their views, then we will at least have spent time understanding one another, which is in my experience sometimes a better starting point than agreement!

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Vicky comes across as all successful media personalities do. Ethically, Teflon-coated and savvy enough to ensure that her stance will earn the contempt of her public.

    I’m just a bit bored with the toasting of her immense bravery, while she avoids any explanation or retraction of her comparison of the traditional marriage position with advocacy on behalf of slavery.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Please RTH. Can you clarify what counts as abuse? Is it merely to voice strong disagreement. Or is it to solicit discussion on what is ostensibly a discussion thread.

    As far as I can tell there have been calls for Vicky to explain the unfortunate comparison of the traditional position on marriage with support for slavery. There has also been a heartening groundswell of support for Vicky’s post.

    Perhaps, if you feel that ‘abuse’ is not too strong a word, you should report it to the Police as cyberbullying, it would help to support this with hard evidence.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Peter, to whom you allude, is highly qualified to speak to this issue. The sheer scope of the material covered in his blog over many years testifies to this fact. He has done his due diligence and much more. Also, as he points out, he has lived these debates, unlike many others. I doubt that there are many people more qualified to speak to the issues than Peter.

    Ian Paul and Steve Holmes, both of whom give some degree of push-back in the comments here (Paul’s comments being the more critical), not only both have PhDs, but have both lectured in theology at UK academic institutions for many years. I am at least at the same level of formal theological education as Vicky. So I don’t think that this is a matter of ‘self-proclaimed experts’ at all.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    I agree that we can’t, but please be aware that most evangelical theologians (even conservative) are way beyond ‘clobber verses’. The caricatures of either side are unhelpful, so let’s hope each side gives the other some credit for intelligent theological exploration.

  • http://www.twofriarsandafool.com/ Douglas Underhill

    Sure. Could you point me in the direction of the best conservative evangelical treatment of sexual orientation you’re aware of? (If any – just asking because, honestly, I almost always encounter more clobbering, but my sample size is small)

  • ashley collishaw

    Thanks for the reply Ian. I think we actually largely agree. My point really (as Eaglet2 said) was that Vicky needs to take seriously critical engagement with her peers if she wants to be taken seriously. I would also say that if she isn’t prepared to lay out her arguments then we are wasting our time here. To be honest, I was quite sad to see the hackneyed slavery argument popped out as if it were something new or substantive. If Vicky is engaging with this issue in the depth that she suggests then she must already have known the weakness of the point she was making (but not admitting that weakness).

    I agree about there being great academic blogs, but they tend to attract mainly academically minded folk which means everyone is working with the same assumptions about engagement. My point was less that we need to engage at an academic level but more of an explanation about the critical assumptions around academic method. This blog has quite a mixed audience and for some they perceive critique as criticism or attack (and sometimes it is). That means a lot of constructive discussion gets side lined by well meaning people wanting to protect Vicky from those they think are being aggressive.

    Ultimately, I think we would agree that much of this is well trampled ground and unless Vicky is bringing some genuinely original thinking to the discussion then I have more productive places to be. The difficulty, as you rightly point out, is that if Vicky won’t even provide her working assumptions (let alone engage in dialogue with responses to them) then we have no idea whether there is anything new being said here or not.

  • Paul Robinson

    That’s a very cynical way of thinking.

  • Mike

    People turn away now while you can. None of these comments are worth reading.

  • http://thought-quotient.tumblr.com/ ThoughtQuotient

    This passage in Matthew is helpful here.

    Matthew 12:22-30

    God is delivering homosexuals from the lifestyle and He’s not doing it arbitrarily. He’s bringing people out of sin and slavery, and if He were to deliver just one person, it’s enough to show us where God stands and what His will is. For God does not deliver from righteousness unto righteousness, and He doesn’t work against Himself (house divided against itself will not stand; If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself, etc)

    “by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

    “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”

    God is doing great things for our good and His glory (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Are we seeing Him working and giving Him praise and glory or working against Him?

    God, open our eyes to see your glory…

    - to see glory in the way you created our physical bodies, for when we use them in the manner for which they were designed, it brings you glory. (Psalm 139)

    - to see glory in an all-powerful, faithful, good, creator God whose word is timeless, trustworthy, and true, for when we see you for who you are, we will see our idols are worthless (Jeremiah 18)

    - to see glory in our obedience to your word, for when we sin, we fall short of your glory (Romans 3)

    - to see glory in your miraculous works, for when we deny them, we rob you of your glory (Matthew 12, Luke 17)

    Open our eyes so that we will not misuse ourselves, not fall in love with idols, not disobey, and not set ourselves against You…

    - for your glory, and our good.

  • Stephen

    Entirely serious. I don’t see how any thoughtful person can stay an evangelical for long. I suspect most do so out of some sort of misplaced loyalty to the tribe (or pay packet). It is more understandable that there are intelligent evangelicals in the Bible Belt Vicky mentions, where there is a lack of alternative views, but it is inexcusable for someone nurtured in the riches of the Anglican tradition.

  • Stephen

    Some people here seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that serious academics spend their time debating on blogs. In fact most are are far more likely, as Vicky has, to recommend a few good books and get on with writing their own. Good on her.

  • Ian Paul

    Well you need to get out more. Or read my blog.

  • Ian Paul

    Some leading global academics blog all the time, because it is a good way to connect, do research and promote their ideas.

  • Stephen

    Great advice (that was sarcasm, btw).

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    (And don’t forget to mention your supercilious sneer! Priceless!

  • Ian Paul

    well I don’t know how you can insult evangelicals for being stupid, and then not read intelligent comment from them. (that was not sarcasm, but an observation)

  • Eaglet2

    My point is Vicky’s credibility to be a spokesperson for the Evangelical constituency . Some of the people here are serious academic players, with a track record of academic success and publication – the fact that Vicky is ‘working on a PhD’ is not impressive to them. They have not only earned their PhD’s (including the serious peer review which goes into them), they’ve supervised other students, will have seen them come and go – they’ll have seen some students work incredibly hard but sadly their work sometimes won’t have come up to scratch, and they’ll have to have turned them down.

    So when Vicky’s level of engagement is to put up a list of ‘books wot I’ve read’ without engaging in the cut and thrust of argument is very unimpressive.

  • Mark

    “Many people argued that the Bible supported slavery until they put time into prayerful study and realised they were wrong.”

    Were they? Like the bits about how hard to beat your slave?

    I’m stumped as to what “Thoughtful prayer” or “Prayerful study” actually is in figuring out what the bible says. I would have thought it would take objective study and analysis, and perhaps even better, not to have a vested, biased interest in the first place, which will quite obviously colour views and have the student try hard to find what they think they are looking for.

    It makes me wonder on what level of intellectualism the book will be.

  • Malome William

    Always it is the ‘other’ you accuse of “ad hominem”. Your lack of self-insight, Peter, is, quite simply, egregious.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    If you want to point out where I’ve engaged in ad hominem on this thread then please go ahead. I might have been quite robust in my comments, but ad hominem is an attack on the person, not an attack on the person’s qualifications or their argument.

  • Jo Macdonald

    She ‘could’ be misleading others but then again she might not be, to ask these searching questions is good. God is able to allow wheat and weeds to exist together and he can judge which is which, our job is to stay listening to the spirit within us and to do as we are called, knowing the truth will set us free. Yes I was thinking of James

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Ephraim Radner is probably the most articulate and widely respected conservative scholar on the subject. Try reading his book on Leviticus. It shows careful attention to context and criticism. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jdFFyoU1Y5UC&lpg=PA202&dq=ephraim%20radner%20marriage&pg=PA186#v=onepage&q=ephraim%20radner%20marriage&f=false

  • Paul Robinson

    But she’s not trying to impress anyone. That’s not her goal. There are plenty of easier ways. Which is precisely my point. She cares deeply about this issue and regardless of how good her work will be, she is willing to do it.

    It’s like if I wanted to run a marathon. I train, I eat well, I do the work but I might get an injury or my time might not be as good as I had hoped. That would be a lot of work to go through just to look impressive to other marathon runners.

    The reason I would run is because I want to do something worthwhile.

    She’s not trying to impress you.

  • Keren

    I’m really saddened by so many of the comments and replies to your latest blog Vicky. I think they have illustrated your reasoning for not doing an in-depth biblical discussion here. Please hold on to the positive comments, such as Gunesh, who lives in Turkey – who was a muslim who became a christian because he saw the love of God within Christianity – he says you’re helping him….

  • Ian Paul

    (I dislike talking about ‘she’ and it would be great if Vicky could step in and offer comment and explanation on some parts of this discussion.)

    She is in one sense not trying to ‘impress’ us. But in another important sense she is, and by her own testimony. She has now joined groups which are actively arguing and campaigning for a change in the church’s teaching—and doing so whilst arguing that she still stands within the evangelical tradition—and in fact arguing that others in that tradition are both backward and damaging (see on slavery above).

    To put this all in the public sphere needs some justification.

  • Malome William

    Er. Are you implying I *didn’t* know the definition of “ad hominem”? You’re a piece of work, Peter.

  • Malome William

    “If I am to err in interpreting the Bible,
    which I probably will since I’m a human being, I would rather
    intentionally err on the side of more inclusion, acceptance, and
    generosity. I really can’t imagine Jesus saying to me, ‘You were too
    kind and loving and you didn’t put your foot down enough,’ but I could
    definitely see him saying, ‘You didn’t take care of those around you and
    you alienated those that I love.’” (Candace Datz)

  • Ian Paul

    Sorry—comments that agree with Vicky are ok, but comments which, politely but firmly, point out major problems with her position are not ok?

    What a strange world this is!

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    No. He’s not implying that you didn’t know its meaning.

    He’s merely said that if you can’t show where he did engage in ‘ad hominems’, your reference on that account to his lack of self-insight is unwarranted.

    In spite of any obvious theological bias, I wouldn’t think that was grossly offensive and demeaning towards you.

  • Malome William

    Thanks David. But beware. In the words of Peter Ould, “you are now waltz[ing] into this debate.” Best you don’t put yourself between a rock and a hard place.

  • Sean M

    I am a gay Christian. I was born gay and thus created in the image of God. Christ died for me. I love myself, my fellow man, and my God, and have never had a hard time reconciling who I am with my spirituality.

    I think this debate comes down to three things… The first is the acceptance of the fact that people are just born gay and it is not a choice. It’s honestly that simple. If you dont accept that fact, you will never be able to move on from this.

    The second is the fact that the bible is a translation of scriptures that are thousands of years old. The word ‘homosexuality’ means something different today than it did in Paul’s time period, or in the time of the patriarchs of the Old Testament. We have to be careful how we translate certain words from biblical passages, if we are to use those words as a basis of our faith. (From studying the bible academically, and understanding spiritually that god loves us and wants the best for us, I personally believe that the ‘homosexuality’ in the bible actually refers to sexual abuses: male-on-male rape, boyhood prostitution, etc.) To see evidence of this, look to the 1611 KJV of the bible and you will not find the word “homosexual” anywhere in the text, because we change how we translate those words based on current social trends.

    The third is familiarity. There are elements in our society that have waged a pretty effective PR campaign against gays and presented us all as immoral. It is easy to maintain that belief if you do not know anyone who is gay. But once someone becomes personally familiar with a gay person, they tend to see things more realistically. I think the positive change in American opinion on gays over the last decade comes as more Americans become familiar with the people in their everyday lives who are gay.

    I hope one day soon we can all move past this debate, and move on to truly following God by being loving, forgiving, and compassionate towards our human brothers and sisters. “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” Mark 5:36

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    No, but what you are exhibiting now is a classic behaviour where you impute a deeper intent to my words than I actually wrote. This is very common amongst those who can’t actually engage with the substance of a debate and instead want to make the discussion emotive rather than rational.

    And yes, I am looking at you Malome. Rather than engage with what I wrote you instead engaged with what you think I was thinking when I wrote what I wrote.

    Words mean what they say ,nothing more, nothing less.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Poetic I know. It’s a gift….

    Pray, what is this rock and what is this hard place David is now putting himself inbetween?

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    At 792 Disqus comments, it’s a bit late for that. Talk to Peter, or better still visit his blog.

    In debate, I take no prisoners.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Problem is, most liberals DON’T err on the side of inclusion, acceptance and generosity. Most liberals exclude those in polyamorous relationships, those in consensual PSF incestuous relationships and those in “fluid and open” relationships. Most “inclusive, acceptive” liberals are nothing of the sort – they arbitrarily decide which relationships they will or won’t support, mainly based on their personal prejudices and “ick” factors, and then demand that we adhere to their boundary of acceptable love, whilst at the same time condemning others for having a boundary of acceptabl love.

  • Ian Paul

    Sean, thanks for your comment—though it highlights why Vicky really needs to offer some reasons for her position.

    Accepting someone is born a particular way does not lead to accepting certain behaviours or affirming certain theologies of sexuality. And very few ‘traditionalists’ argue that someone like you has ‘chosen’ to ‘be’ gay.

    The second key thing is that the Bible actually has no word for ‘homosexuality.’ It is widely recognised (by scholars on all sides of the debate) that Scripture does not recognised ‘orientation’ as a defining category of human identity, and in fact it is a highly problematic idea even in contemporary discussion. Scripture is concerned not with orientations, but with actions.

    All the evidence is that Jesus, as a first century Jew, accepted Judaism’s complete prohibition on same-sex activity, and invites us to live by this. “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” Mark 5:36

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    “I was born gay”

    Really? Which academic paper demonstrates this? You’ll be wanting to link to the *actual* paper, not just a second hand account of it by the way.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    I’d love to know!

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Oh-oh. Peter’s back! ;-)

  • Sean M

    Your comment is a great example of my first point. For any paper I could show you, you could counter with an opposing viewpoint and we will get lost.

    If you don’t accept modern psychology, and accept that people are inherently gay from birth, you cannot really move on to even discuss how we as Christians can all move on from this debate into a more inclusive future. We’ll get stuck on debating modern psychology.

    It’s like evolution, or the big bang. These are all scientific theories that fit well with the Christian faith, IMHO. God creates, and we perceive that creation is many ways. Science is one. But if you don’t believe that people are born gay, and if you don’t believe in the big bang or evolution, then I think we are each coming from such a vastly different point of view that we will never be able to even agree on our disagreements ;)

    Peace of the lord be always with you!

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    “If you don’t accept modern psychology, and accept that people are inherently gay from birth”

    This is the logical fallacy of argument by assertion (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_by_assertion). These things are not so simply because you say they are. Give us the scientific evidence that you were born gay.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    ‘If you don’t accept modern psychology, and accept that people are inherently gay from birth, you cannot really move on to even discuss how we as Christians can all move on from this debate into a more inclusive future.

    It’s like evolution, or the big bang

    Whoa, I missed that chunk peer-reviewed scientific research, so please point me to it.

    No matter, I hope that APA know of this because they too are infidels who claim that:
    http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf

    ‘Same-sex sexual attractions and behavior occur in the context of a variety of sexual orientations and sexual orientation identities, and for some, sexual orientation identity (i.e., individual or group membership and affiliation, self-labeling) is fluid or has an indefinite outcome.’

    ‘Some individuals choose to live their lives in accordance with personal or religious values (e.g., telic congruence).’

    ‘The available evidence, from both early and recent studies, suggests that although sexual orientation is unlikely to change, some individuals modified their sexual orientation identity (i.e., individual or group membership and affiliation, self-labeling) and other aspects of sexuality (i.e., values and behavior). They did so in a variety of ways and with varied and unpredictable outcomes, some of which were temporary.’

  • Ian Paul

    ‘For any paper I could show you, you could counter with an opposing viewpoint and we will get lost.’

    But Sean, this is true of any area of debate. What you then do is critically examine each other’s arguments and see which stand up to scrutiny.

    These means being vulnerable to the scrutiny of others…and the difficulty is that Vicky seems to have lobbed a position in and then withdrawn from this process. The rest of us are continuing with it…my on my blog http://www.psephizo.com

  • Sean M

    ^ From the abstract of that paper, on page V.

    “The American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates.”

    But again, we are getting lost here. On both sides of this debate there are fundamental worldview differences that are often irreconcilable. At the end of the day, we each must cultivate a personal relationship with God, and see where that road will lead us…

  • Sean M

    In a discussion about faith it isn’t always important to debate critically… because there might not be a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. I think it is important to simply share, and listen. I appreciate all of these point of view because they help me to understand the world that I live in. I just wanted to add my voice to the mix, as flawed and human as it might be :)

    Peace to you!

  • Ian Paul

    ‘At the end of the day, we each must cultivate a personal relationship with God, and see where that road will lead us…’ And that is why this discussion is so important.

    I just don’t recognise this personal, inner, individualised pursuit as ‘Christianity.’

    The Jesus of the Scriptures appears to believe in a community, bound to each other, and bound to God’s revelation in the Scriptures Pursuing a ‘personal relationship with God’ was the invention of 19thC liberals who thought the Bible to hard for their contemporaries to stomach.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    No we’re not getting lost. We’re not even talking past each other, Sean. I’m engaging directly with your quote from the APA, I see that the excerpt refers to sexual orientation and not, sexual orientation identity (the latter being more fluid).

    These are not worldview differences and I can hardly dismiss the APA. However, in the face of someone thoughtfully engaging with the science and not lobbing ‘clobber verses’ at you, you simply disengage.

    I accept that your argument might prove me wrong, or at least, lacking in nuances. Either way, I’d benefit, since there’s little to lose, but a bit of intellectual pride.

    In contrast, I suspect because there too much to lose if it went the other way.

  • Ian Paul

    Hmmm…except that Jesus, Paul and other church leaders seemed to put great store by getting our understanding of God right…and what that means for people.

    And one of the primary roles of the Spirit is ‘judgement’ in the sense of discerning truth from falsehood.

    It’s really odd, on such a crucial issue of sexual ethics, with so many serious consequences, to suggest there might not be ‘right and wrong’ answers…

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    “If you don’t accept modern psychology, and accept that people are inherently gay from birth”

    Argument by assertion. You have not demonstrated this position with any scientific evidence, rather you have simply asserted it.

  • ALBS82

    Hi Ian,
    I have been reading your posts and I have to be honest, some of the words and phrases being used by you are incredibly direct and rude.
    Starting with someone’s name and a comma and then your argument is an aggressive way of writing. All this does is get someone’s back up, it doesn’t encourage discussion.
    Saying she ‘lobbed’ a position implies she didn’t think first or didn’t care. Is that what you meant?
    ‘You need to get out more’ Is this appropriate in a discussion? Would you say this to someone face to face?
    I think you need to read your comments before you post them. Commenting on blogs can seem very detatched, but people are reading your posts and it is not necessarily the content which is making people angry, but the way you are putting across your arguments and responding to others. Carefully chosen words would go a long way in this highly divisive and emotional subject.
    Finally, let me say I am an evangelical who finds this discussion challenging and is still deciding which position to hold. So please don’t see this as coming from a liberal lefty.

  • Ian Paul

    ALB (I don’t know your name), thanks for the comment—and I am really surprised. Do please elucidate.

    I have offered some direct critique of views put here, but I have never suggested anyone is stupid, or that their view is not worth considering. I think I have carefully looked at and responded to both arguments and personal statements.

    My comment ‘You need to get out more’ was a slightly terse, but light-hearted, response to someone who suggest that, as an evangelical, I was an idiot. Given I have four degrees, including a PhD on biblical interpretation, I thought that was a pretty mild respond.

    And I am interested that you don’t comment on his insulting assertion!

    Please point out anywhere that I have been rude or insulting?

  • Alastair J Roberts

    I don’t believe that Ian’s ‘tone’ is as easy to read as this. One could read his comments in several different tones. Some may indeed seem objectionable, but by no means all.

    The ‘need to get out more’ remark was a perfectly appropriate response to the ignorant and condescending comment to which it was addressed.

  • ALBS82

    I’m curious to know why you think a person wouldn’t be born gay.
    I once heard Desmond Tutu speak, and this is what he said when asked whether he thought gay people chose to be so.
    “Imagine being in the womb and god gives you the choice to be white or black. Which would you choose? White represents an easy life, being black would be a life full of prejudice and persecution. Desmond said he would choose white of course, nobody would choose the more difficult life. He said its the same for being gay, a person wouldn’t choose the more difficult life.” At this point I should say he didn’t say whether he thought being gay was ok or not, he just put forward the point that this is not a choice for people.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    The question of whether one is ‘born gay’ is a rather different question from that of whether being gay (in the sense of experiencing same-sex attraction) is a ‘choice’. One can deny that being gay is a choice without believing that one is born gay.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    “I’m curious to know why you think a person wouldn’t be born gay.”

    This is the logical fallacy of Argument from Incredulity (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_incredulity). You’re not addressing the question at hand which is to provide evidence to support the conjecture that people are born gay.

    “whether he thought gay people chose to be so”

    This is the logical fallacy of Non Sequitur (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Non_sequitur). Even if one was not born gay that does not necessarily mean that one “chooses” to be gay. For example (and I give this example not to argue that it is true but rather to demonstrate the non sequitur) homosexuality might be caused by post-natal environmental conditions over which the individual has no control. In this scenario the person is not born gay but neither do they choose to be gay.

    BTW, am I the only person seeing comments vanish on this particular thread? What’s going on?

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    The issue of whether SOCE do or don’t work has no bearing on whether people are born gay. People might become gay through post-natal environmental factors and yet still find that SOCE are ineffective in changing sexual orientation.

    Stick to the topic you raised. Show us some scientific evidence that people are born gay like you claim.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Well, from a less illustrious black man like myself: if god gave me a choice, I’d always opt for being just the race that I am.

    That’s not to suggest other races are inferior, but simply that I like who I am. No-one chooses prejudice and persecution, but being black does not connote universal victimhood. It may have been for blacks growing up in apartheid South Africa.

    Instead, I grew up in a predominantly black community in Barbados enjoying a fairly privileged upbringing.

    Apart from the false similarity implied by using a racial analogy with respect to sexual orientation, the human identity is the result of far more diverse influences than just hardship avoidance.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    And I thought I could be blunt.

  • Malome William

    Yes he is. The Grinch meter twitched noticeably.

  • Eaglet2

    I’m not sure the anti-slave trade movement works well as an example of what you’re trying to prove, Paul.

    William Wilberforce MP certainly wasn’t shy of debate – from memory he tabled upwards of a dozen motions in parliament against the slave trade in his lifetime, with all the campaigning, debate, heartbreak and joy that involved.

    Yes there were books and pamphlets as well from the movement (not sure about PhD’s !) but I’m pretty sure Wilberforce would have been able to give a blog-sized explanation from the Bible as to why slavery is wrong.

  • Steve Foster

    I don’t really want to join in this debate but I want to support you discussing it and to be once of those balancing the abusive and nasty comments … if I see you in a coffee queue at Greenbelt I will pay for your coffee

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    I suppose that makes me Max. sigh!

  • Stephen

    Not an idiot nor stupid, but probably wilfully ignorant. I like your banter with me, but I do find your insistence that Vicky do something she plainly doesn’t want to do deeply unpleasant.

  • Stephen

    Fair enough, but if he has in mind getting out to evangelical bible get togethers, it’s not my idea of a good time.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Steve,

    This is not written to engage you in debate, but I’ve looked through the threads to the last three posts to locate what would amount to abusive or nasty comments.

    Occasionally, there are impassioned ‘say it ain’t so’ speeches and a few stern admonitions, but the general tone is exemplified by the following comment:

    Vicky, I disagree with you on this and I keep following you on twitter (though with a different id). I hope I don’t come across as angry. Because I’m not. But I’m still looking for a good bible-based argument for SSM? I travelled a long way on the creation/evolution debate and what a complete waste of time that was. But SSM is a far bigger issue for people and for the church (also people!!)
    In some cases, there has been blatant hostile exchanges between opponents, but for such a hotly debated topic, I think that most here have made their remarks with respect and clarity.
    By comparison with Guardian and Telegraph comment threads, it’s mostly been a model of how to handle difference in the Church. I just don’t think that taking a bit of flack on such a controversial subject counts as abuse.

  • Malome William

    At least you don’t come in packs!

  • Steve Foster

    David I was referring to all the comments that Vicky had been subjected to over recent times … a mutual friend alerted me to the fact that a few opinions were flying about … I was just being supportive … just you know to ensure it wasn’t all negative responses … and me not wanting to join the debate was because I am tired of all the opinions on the subject and recently decided I would no longer be polite about it … so best to stay out of it :)

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    By comparison, though. While I’m not suggesting that we’ll ever be your favourite people, but some thick-skinned resilience, a little effort engaging in discussion interspersed with a bit of banter has humanised this debate far more than waiting for Vicky’s weighty tome next year.

    While she works hard to represent Accepting Evangelicals as their new Patron/Ambassador, she could have side-stepped the more hostile remarks and seen this as a perfect opportunity to bridge and humanise the moral division.

    From a standpoint of instilling confidence in traditionalists, she blew it. Just more unhelpful racism analogies.

  • Ian Paul

    Your comments demonstrate a really significant dynamic in this (and many other) discussion.

    Vicky has labelled the traditional view, so my view and others like me, as equivalent to the ignorant enforcement of slavery—but without offering an explanation for this. And when Steve Holmes pointed out the basic flaw in this logic, there is no response.

    You have first called me stupid, then qualified this as ‘wilful ignorance’. I guess that also applies to my evangelical colleagues who are theology professors in a Russell-group university.

    by contrast I have not labelled anyone stupid, but have asked questions about assumptions and methods.

    Yet it is me, not you, who is accused of being rude and insulting.

    I have experienced this kind of dynamic in many conversations. It feels as though the ‘liberal’ position is anything but—and is the kind of thing which signals the end of meaningful engagement.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Ad hominem (again). Please try harder.

  • Stephen

    Hold on. I never called you stupid. Vicky Beeching never said your or traditional views were equivalent to the enforcement of slavery. I think you are being unduly sensitive. As for assumptions, why assume my position is liberal? I never claimed that.

  • Malome William

    Not interested. Sorry.

  • daniellestrickland

    So proud to know you. Loads of love your way.

  • Guest

    Many who label themselves “conservative evangelical” reject the label “gay” for their sexual orientation because they believe that to adopt it would be limiting or unhelpful in some way. Do you think that adopting the label “liberal” or “conservative” can be similarly unhelpful and limiting?

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    A thoughtful observation.

    1. I think that there are those who would self-identify with those categories and from that standpoint, the categories exist. To those who do so, they are not pejoratives, but positive affirmations.

    2. A person may decide that the scope of their identity is such that the gay, liberal or conservative identity is limiting and unhelpful to them. They can drop the term.

    3. I may refer to liberal responses generally without labelling specific individuals who have publicly chosen to self-identify otherwise. That doesn’t mean that there should be a general moratorium on using the ‘L’ word in debate, does it?

  • kate

    Agreed keren! Keep going Vicky, many are with you!!! God, please drive us to action, break our hearts for injustice and show us how to be your soldiers in this fight.. xxx

  • kate

    That’s right so please keep those comments to yourself. We are discussing people!!! Not an academic argument. Friends, family and loved ones….

  • kate

    Gunesh, glad God found you and you were open to his love. Eyes up, focus on that love!!! Xxx

  • David George

    You are naive, Vicky, if you think you can set the conditions for debate on this blog. Peter Ould has ordered you to respond to him here, and you have disobeyed! There is only ONE evangelical opinion on homosexuality – that of world expert, Peter Ould. You waltz in here, trying to steal his glory, and expect us to listen to a woman! Peter Ould is having to close his blog. No other evangelical is allowed an opinion on gay sex from now on. Please answer Peter Ould or shut up!

  • Ian Paul

    Yes, they are friends and family of mine too. And so I don’t want them misled by arguments that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

  • Ian Paul

    If I suggested anyone here was ‘wilfully ignorant’ then I think I should be called to apologise. If I suggested that Vicky’s argument was parallel to justifying slavery, I think I should apologise. My offence, apparently, is using people’s name with a comma after it.

  • Keren

    Gunesh, thank you for sharing your experience – I pray you’ll continue to know God’s love and acceptance.

  • Keren

    Ian Paul, please lets not crush people who may have a fragile faith and who will be struggling to even live as a christian let alone as a gay Christian in a muslim country.

  • Ian Paul

    What did I say that was crushing?

  • Keren

    You basically told him that his identity does not fit with Christianity. For someone who has become a christian from Islam and lives in a difficult situation, I think that is crushing.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Okay, here are links to some ‘real world’ family and loved ones cases:

    1. A partner in lesbian couple conceived via intercourse with biological father. http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed1625
    2. A partner in lesbian couple conceives by intercourse with biological father (her partner’s brother) http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed999
    3. A lesbian couple used DIY assisted reproduction to conceive child with known biological father. http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed96467

    In each case, the same-sex couple sought to prioritise their relationship as founding an intact family, thereby displacing the child’s relationship to its willing biological father. Same-sex marriage serves to legitimize routinely this displacement of the natural father.

    Well, this doesn’t just affect the same-sex couples concerned, this affects the rights of every biological parent and child. It means that instead of the presumption of paternity being rebuttable, marriage will become the invincible basis for legal parental recognition. Any discovery of DNA evidence that contradict this will be routinely disregarded by law. It has happened in California already.
    Why? Because you can’t have one system of parental recognition through gay marriages and another through straight marriages. That would be discrimination.

    The purpose of marriage was never to undermine the natural parenthood of any child born out of wedlock. This new system will eventually do just that.
    So, in all of this focus on adult marriage rights, what is forgotten is the right of the child’s to enjoy the parenthood of its natural father, even if out of wedlock.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Okay, here are links to some ‘real world’ family and loved ones cases:

    1. A partner in lesbian couple conceived via intercourse with biological father. http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed1625
    2. A partner in lesbian couple conceives by intercourse with biological father (her partner’s brother) http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed999
    3. A lesbian couple used DIY assisted reproduction to conceive child with known biological father. http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed96467

    In each case, the same-sex couple sought to prioritise their relationship as founding an intact two-parent family, thereby displacing the child’s relationship to its willing biological father. When the couple want to have a child, same-sex marriage routinely legitimises this displacement of the natural father involved.

    Well, this doesn’t just affect the same-sex couples concerned, this affects the rights of every biological parent and child born out of wedlock. It means that, instead of the presumption of paternity being rebuttable, marriage will become the invincible basis for legal parental recognition. Any discovery of DNA evidence that contradicts this will be routinely disregarded by law. It has happened in California already.

    Why? Because you can’t have one system that recognizes joint parenthood through straight marriages, but not through gay marriages. That would be discrimination.

    Yet, the purpose of marriage was never to undermine the natural parent of any child born out of wedlock. This new system is geared to do just that.

    So, in all of this focus on adult marriage rights, what is forgotten is the right of the child to enjoy the parenthood of its natural father, even when it results from an adulterous, or assisted parenthood relationship.

  • David George

    Show me scientific evidence there’s someone as rude as Peter Ould. Who on earth is he?

  • Ian Paul

    No I didn’t. I mentioned other men, gay like him, who find their identity as gay fits with knowing God’s love through Jesus, and that they believe it calls them to a particular style of life. But I am not in this situation, so I need to defer to their experience and cannot presume to say anything from mine.

  • Keren

    Ok fair comment. I understood your original comment differently. Thanks for clarifying.

  • Mark

    How about a debate on grace?

  • bfbh

    this is trolling.

  • Servaas Hofmeyr
  • Sean M

    I agree Alastair and this is a fair point.

    To state that someone is “born gay” in conversation implies that it is predestination in a worldview where we are created by god, in his image. I had not intended on defending genetics or modern psychology, because I think when we go that route in this (religious) debate, we lose sight of the individual in front of us.

    I believe we are created by god, and any unchangeable quality that we possess is a gift of our creator. I can’t change the fact that I am gay.

    We all accept God the father, son and holy spirit as the one true God, and the path to salvation. We are one body in Christ. The devil is truly in the details….

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Here are a few starters comparing grace with belief that it ensures impunity:

    ‘What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? (Rom. 6:1)

    ‘It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Heb. 6:4 – 8)

    If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26 – 29)

  • Sean M

    No one wins or loses here. The best we can do is share our experiences, and hope that we receive respect and compassion from our Christian brothers and sisters.

    I think we are each intelligent enough to do research on human sexuality and come to our own conclusions. My original point was that different conclusions on the topic is one of the primary factors contributing to frustration in the broader conversation about the place that gay people have within Christianity.

    There is plenty of room for us all within the body of Christ. For 2000 years we have debated issues such as this, beginning with the question of the role of Gentiles within the new Jewish cult. We can see that debate rage within the New Testament itself.

    Christianity will endure. Christ is much bigger than any one of us.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Sean, the only respect that I ask is that you follow through on your process of reasoning. We can agree that if a logical contradiction is exposed on either side, we can ditch that line of argument as mistaken.

    If, as you say, you believe that no one wins or loses here. You can say as much as any of us will: ‘Look, that particular line of reasoning was mistaken.’ and see where that leads.

    We can all promise to do the same, rather than having to respect a mistaken notion on either side that doesn’t hold water. What say you?

  • Eaglet2

    Actually, many would say that Peter *IS* a world expert. And there lies the difference between him and Vicky.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Yeah, we could debate that as well. Do you want to do that?

  • David George

    Show me the scientific paper that shows Peter Ould is male.

  • Matt Atkins

    It is fairly clear that anyone who would write the things Stephen wrote here is at best of middling intelligence and poor understanding (or more likely is too young to have seen much of how the world really works). An inability to comprehend how someone can take a position that opposes yours proves nothing except that you are too stupid to follow their argument properly. A wise person should recognise there is no position on Earth that is not advanced by someone more intelligent than himself (for whatever reason), and treat it accordingly. Everyone with half a brain who takes a moment to think about it understands that longstanding disagreement is virtually never about the intellect of the respective sides, because if it was the disagreement would be long over. Even the (sometime racist and holocaust denying) leader of the BNP party in the UK has a degree from Cambridge. Grow up Stephen.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Ad hominem.

    Someone needs to teach some of you folks how to debate properly.

  • Matt Atkins

    I can see exactly where David gets this list from and it is good. It is a piece of advice for those with ‘liberal’ theology on why they struggle to communicate effectively with ‘conservatives’. It is a list of argument which everyone has heard a thousand times and none of which hold water to someone whose belief is based on the real, hard-line truth that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and not the invention of mortal man. We are smart enough to see through these ‘arguments’. 1, 3, 8 and 9 or ad hominem attacks with no factual basis, 2, 4, 6 and 10 are distraction tactics based on flawed logic or bare assertion of the correctness of your own reasoning (resort to one’s own authority), 5 is emotive but to a ‘conservative’ elevates a worldly value above the Word, nothing is above the Word except God himself and he is the Word, 7 carries a little weight and could be discussed further but just leads round in circles as Jesus takes a strong position on sexual morality in general and affirms the authority of the law in matters of morality.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    “To state that someone is “born gay” in conversation implies that it is predestination in a worldview where we are created by god, in his image.”

    Non sequitur.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    No it’s not. I’m asking genuine questions and prepared to undertake a genuine discussion. Trolling is batting out three word replies to a substantive argument.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    You’re not a happy man are you David?

    For the record, this comment contains:

    Equivocation – “Peter Ould has ordered you to respond to him here, and you have disobeyed!”
    Straw man – “There is only ONE evangelical opinion on homosexuality – that of world expert, Peter Ould”
    Straw man – “You waltz in here, trying to steal his glory, and expect us to listen to a woman!”
    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc- “Peter Ould is having to close his blog. No other evangelical is allowed an opinion on gay sex from now on.”

    I can’t actually find a proper line of argument anywhere….

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    I wouldn’t, but then the world minus me does still constitute “many”.

  • Matt Atkins

    I agree that actually born or not born gay doesn’t tell us a great deal. Just as not being born gay doesn’t make it a choice to be same-sex attracted, being born gay in Christian theology doesn’t mean one cannot chose not to be. If a man accepts homosexual sexual acts are sinful, he is able to chose not to commit that sin, regardless of his desires, because of his freedom in Christ. Not everything we are born with is good, nor are all of the worldly characteristics we have that WE cannot change. It does have to be accepted that to a Christian there is nothing God cannot change or indeed no temptation he cannot ask us to resist. The question and the debate is whether homosexuality is something God wants to change or not. The worldly argument about inherency or genetics should actually be fairly banal to a Christian. Homosexuality being inherent comes down slightly on the ‘liberal’ theology side but not strongly, suggesting slightly it may not be something God wants us to change, but it is light-years away from proven scientific fact (It has become more prevalent in the scientific community but the actual evidence for it hasn’t changed in decades, only our culture has). Other cultures and historical cultures have and had a whole spectrum of different approaches to sexuality, some of which recognised homosexuality as a fixed sexual orientation, but many of which did not. None of this really changes the basic Biblical Christian theology that there are many sources of sexual desire in the world but only one morally acceptable outlet, man and wife in marriage. In my view the other sexual outlets we might desire in our flesh are irrelevant to that teaching, even if we exclusively desire other outlets.

  • Stephanie B.

    Vicky, you still haven’t given the Bible verse that supports gay marriage. I believe in loving ALL people. Along with that, I believe in the Bible and everything it says. There are no biblical examples of gay marriage. If God approved of it, there would be some mention of it in the Bible. Since it only speaks of husband and wives as a holy union, I have no choice but to stand on that. When you can give me a clear example, then and only then, will I agree with you. Until then, I stand on the word of God. I pray you will too.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Vicki,

    I’m not a Christian, I do support Gay Marriage, sorry it has been a rough time for you. I look forward to reading the book. Perhaps you could ‘serialise’ or provide drafts or extracts here from time to time. In among the detractors, there will be those who can give honest and critical feedback. This may help the end result of the book and for that matter the PhD.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Stephanie

    “I believe in the Bible and everything it says”

    OK, fab! This means -

    G-d has feathers (Psalm 91, vs 4)

    The Trinity doesn’t exist as it isn’t mentioned as a concept in the Christian Bible

    How are you typing this? You’ve obviously sinned as some point in your life (or according to some, you’re born in sin) . So why haven’t you cut off your hands? How are you feet doing? What about those eyeballs? (Mark 9, 43 to 47).

    I’m sure you see the point I’m making here….

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    You require a scientific comparison of rudeness.

    Your assertion of rudeness is subjective and not scientifically falsifiable. Ergo, Argumentum ad ignorantiam

    Getting the hang on this!

  • David George

    Peter Ould: “Someone needs to teach some of you folks how to debate properly”
    Vicky doesn’t want a debate with you, Peter. Be told!.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Let’s see the point that you’re making. Mark didn’t say, ‘I believe in the Bible and everything it says is expressed literally’. So, you can still believe in the Bible and accept where Christ himself is recorded to distinguish literal from rhetorical.

    Psalm 91: wings are a metaphor used rhetorically; Mark 9:43 – 47: self-amputation is hyperbole used rhetorically to reinforce the eternal value of major earthly self-deprivations to avoid sin;

    So, in Genesis, the word wife is used literally or rhetorically? Christ applied wife literally to the female spouse literally Mark 10:7. And that’s what Mark believes.

    So, you just came up with a flimsy argument and thought it would make you sound far superior intellectually. It didn’t.

  • Dr Sheldon Alton-Cooper

    Ah…gosh…call me cynical but that wouldn’t help with book sales per chance?

  • Dr Sheldon Alton-Cooper

    Peter, I’m afraid it looks like it’s a good way to sell books…no point selling them if everything has been said before hand.

  • David George

    Not as unhappy as you Peter Ould, whoever you are.
    You can’t come on someone else’s blog and insult them for not agreeing to a debate on your terms.
    Vicky “waltzes in” and dares to cover a subject in which you seem to claim some kind of expertise. Tell us the professional qualifications you have in human sexuality. Are you a doctor? A psychologist, perhaps. Or psychiatrist?
    You rudely ask a gay man to provide scientific evidence for his sexual attractions! Who do you think you are? Tell us the scientific paper you have produced to show he wasn’t born gay.
    Try to find a different response to critics than the tiresome “ad hominem” Yawn!
    You obviously have too much time on your hands to write so many insults on someone else’s blog. Perhaps you are unemployed and can’t find a proper job other than a rude, amateur sexologist who fears Vicky might produce a sensible book.

  • David George

    You are an extremely silly man!
    Try to prove me wrong. Scientifically.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi David,

    I never said anything about Mark telling us what to take literally or not. The blogger Stephanie however did say “I believe in the Bible and everything it says”. So everything means everything. There isn’t much wriggle room. The point I’m making as you have just done for me, is that not everything can be taken literally in religion and of course one can infer matters from a holy book. e.g. the Christian concept of the Trinity. Likewise just as there isn’t a bit in the New Testament where Jesus says ‘guys I’m in favour of SSM’ does mean to say SSM is in itself wrong.

  • David George

    How do you find the time? Haven’t you got a job to go to? Perhaps you should open your own blog.

  • David George

    Re-marrying divorcees is unbiblical. Therefore Ould is a revisionist.

  • David George

    When I called you an “expert” I was joking! And yet you fall for daft Eaglet’s flattery. Speaks volumes. But the world without you would be much more polite!

  • David George

    Now come on, Vicky. It’s time to respond to “he who must be obeyed”. How DARE you “palm off” Mr Ould’s debate. If he had the courage he’d start his own blog instead of insulting you on yours!!

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    “Not as unhappy as you Peter Ould, whoever you are.”

    Ad hominem.

    “You can’t come on someone else’s blog and insult them for not agreeing to a debate on your terms.”

    Argumentum ad baculum.

    ” Tell us the scientific paper you have produced to show he wasn’t born gay.”

    This is known as the negative proof logical fallacy.

    “Try to find a different response to critics than the tiresome “ad hominem” Yawn!”

    Argumentum ad lapidem

    “Perhaps you are unemployed and can’t find a proper job other than a rude, amateur sexologist who fears Vicky might produce a sensible book.”

    A brilliant combination of ad hominem AND Bulverism. Bravo!

    I can do this all night if you want.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Actually, all we want to do is give honest and critical feedback.

  • Susan Irene Fox

    Vicky, after reading this and many of the comments, I’m becoming a follower. I’ve been troubled by this issue ever since I’ve come to the Lord (eight years ago), and doubly troubled by the vitriol from both sides. As Christians, we are called to love one another, and your mission to seek the truth, to love people on both sides of this discussion, and to build a bridge is an honorable one.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful, honest, graceful and dignified approach.

  • David George

    Some of us have better things to do than be obsessed with homosexuality. Are you gay? Shouldn’t you be spending all night with your boyfriend? It’s unbiblical to neglect your loved ones.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Oh someone tell him please. I haven’t the heart.

  • David George

    What’s the point of closing your own boring blog and coming on here and writing as much drivel as you did over there? Give it a rest and find a proper job!

  • David George

    At least everyone can see you NEVER answer questions!

  • David George

    When you say “serious academic players” you don’t mean Peter Ould, do you? He’s become a laughing stock. Especially among bishops!

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Stephanie, not Mark. Got it.

    If you are making deductions from scripture, you should follow Christ’s pattern.

    Qu. Why did Christ criticise divorce?
    Answer: He deduced literally from the Genesis explanation of how sexual differentiation was meant to effect permanent sexual union in marriage as designed by God. He criticised divorce because ‘it was not so from the beginning’

    All we need to do is make a similar deduction from Genesis. When we then look at same-sex relationships and at how God established marriage in Genesis, we can use the same principle: whether ‘it was (or was not) so from the beginning’.

    To claim that because Christ was silent, we cannot apply the same line of reasoning as He plainly did is a smoke-screen.

  • David George

    You addiction to writing about gay sex on the internet can’t have gone unnoticed by the upper echelons of the Church. Google cache will ensure your extreme views and insults are held for years throughout the blogs upon which you have propagated your obsession. Where is your parish? Oh, I forgot. Bishops don’t like men obsessed with men.

  • David George

    Don’t be silly, Malome. Peter Ould insults everyone. And then denies it.

  • David George

    Vicky should engage in debate because Peter Ould TOLD her to! Surely you know that those who disobey Ould are accused of Ad Hominem.

  • David George

    Don’t be silly, Anne. Peter Ould NEVER answers questions. He is answerable only to himself and reserves the biblical right to be rude to everybody.

  • Bernard

    The following is purely my personal perspective on these discussions, and I apologise if I have misinterpreted any aspects. I can assure you that if that has occurred it has been unintentional.

    It seems to me that in conversations like this there are inevitably a number of perspectives present. I would suggest some of these could be expressed, in very broad terms, as follows:-

    A. Same sex attraction should not be acted upon; everyone needs to be told very forcefully that this is the case, especially those who take an opposing view; there is little point in engaging in dialogue and debate, as the debate has already been decided.

    B. Same sex attraction should not be acted upon; this perspective has been reached after an in-depth study of the issues, and not just from a solely theoretical approach.

    C. It is unclear whether same sex attraction should be acted upon or not; but in any event there is a strong desire to show acceptance and love to all LGBT people.

    D. Same sex attraction can be acted upon; this perspective has been reached after an in-depth study of the issues, and not just from a solely theoretical approach.

    E. Same sex attraction can be acted upon; everyone needs to be told very forcefully that this is the case, especially those who take an opposing view; there is little point in engaging in dialogue and debate, as the debate has already been decided.

    These perspectives are not necessarily distinct in all aspects. For example, I would suggest that the strong desire to show acceptance and love to all LGBT people seen in perspective C, should be, and hopefully is true whatever our perspective (though we may of course differ on what we mean by showing acceptance and love). Also, only perspectives A and E would dismiss the value of dialogue and debate.

    Positions A and E are more likely to come across as aggressive, though that may or may not be the intent of the commenter. Positions B, C and D are perhaps less likely to come across as aggressive, though it is always possible for any one of us to overstep the mark in the way that we express our comments, and maybe we all do so at some time or another. These are very sensitive issues, and the to and fro of the nature of blog debates does not always help us to say the right thing in the right way to the right person. This is not to say of course, that comments should never be expressed in a forthright manner. It is certainly right at times to be forthright and even forceful in the cause of truth, as long as respect is maintained.

    It seems to me that Vicky is somewhere in perspective D. There are a number of other commenters I would place somewhere in perspective B, and though at times they are forthright, I would not say they are being intentionally aggressive, but strongly desire to interact with Vicky’s reasonings, which they feel may be faulty. It seems that though Vicky may have wanted originally to reach out to all perspectives, due to the very real personal issues she has shared, she now hesitates doing so via the blog. I may be wrong of course, but I would also wonder whether if, on the one hand she may feel something of the weight of the reasonings of those in perspective B, yet on the other, due in part to her very genuine love and compassion for LGBT people, she may feel it would be wrong for her to amend her current view. Whether I am right or wrong in this, Vicky appears at the moment to be allowing the discussion to take its own course, and our challenge is to continue to conduct it with integrity and respect.

  • David George

    REVISIONIST!

  • David George

    Anna. Peter Ould is not Bishop Gene Robinson. He’s not that distinguished!

  • Leigh Ann

    “Scripture is concerned not with orientations, but with actions.”

    Not necessarily true. Consider the fact that when Jesus broaches the topic of adultery, he says that if you harbor a thought in your heart, you have already committed the act itself. This comes from the Hebraic idea that you cannot divorce what you truly believe in your heart and your actions. They go hand in hand. You are a whole person, not a divided one. So what you believe and think will come out in your actions. I would make the next step to say then that scripture is concerned with what you believe and think-your orientation-your heart. These inform your actions.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Great stuff, I’m sure you have and will do x (:

  • Leigh Ann

    I’d like to point out that as Vicky tried to communicate, she didn’t just get comments that politely and firmly disagree with her-she got comments that were mean, threatening, discouraging, hateful, and just nasty. There are people out there who do respond to this subject in that way in which you can at times feel like you shouldn’t give them more fuel for the fire to keep responding to you rudely. I can understand where she is coming from and know that I have received comments like that in the past as well. Just from observing Vicky in debate, I highly doubt that she would shy away from a discussion if her only opposing arguments were just stated politely and/or firmly. I admire her for not only not wanting to give bullies another chance, but also her wanting to protect others from these vile comments that do appear when discussing this topic. She wanted this dialogue to be a safe place for everyone-I think she tried to state that as clearly as she could.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi David,

    That’s cool by me. Except I’m a Jew, so I’m not bound by the words of actions of Jesus; I’ve only got to tackle Leviticus (!). I simply made the point that you cannot take all parts of a holy book literally as a starting point for looking at this or any other topic. This is a point we both agree on, I think.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Technically I’m not a vicar, but I can do the black shirt if it will make you happy.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    If you think discussions are won by insulting your opponent, then let’s just crown you the winner right now and move on.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    I’m lost for words now.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Peter ,

    Sorry, forgot the whole Priest/Curate/Vicar/Rector stuff! Oh, Peter, U don’t have to do anything to please me, as that would mean you going against all of your own beliefs, which isn’t something I’d be prepared to do myself, so have no right to ask of anyone else, just be yourself as you see fit. Sounds weird, but I have more respect for people who hold a belief no matter what.

  • David George

    I knew I was right!

  • David George

    You should know, Vicky, that Peter Ould is “far” more intelligent than you and has spent his every waking minute blogging about gay sex. You have the audacity to come late onto the gay scene like some “Vicky come lately” and expect to be taken as seriously as someone who says “no one is really gay”. Ould doesn’t want to be aggressive. He wants simply to know “Why are you doing this?” when you have no gay credentials. You are not even “post-gay”! How DARE you speak at Conferences when people should invite Peter Ould instead of a woman who knows nothing? You are trying to replace Evangelicalism’s chief spokesperson on the naughtiness of anal activities. You won’t do any of the things Evangelicals actually do, you naughty lady!

  • David George

    Yawn!

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    I wear a clerical shirt very rarely these days. It tends to be just to frighten people!

  • David George

    Quotes from Ould to Vicky:
    Explain to me why I should take you seriously?
    You now waltz into this debate and say everything the likes of I and others argue is wrong.
    It’s not as if you have an academic or blogging background in this field.
    I did *far* more work in my undergraduate time on this issue than you did,
    We all have to wait for this wonderful tome of yours

    All the above are insults.
    Ad hominem, Ould

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    I’ve just worked out who you are.

  • David George

    Yawn!

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    I’m not descending to trading insults with you, so please stop it.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Peter,

    Heh. Well my eldest brother wears tzizit, a big black Fedora, a black suit , has a beard and Payot, but he has a heart of gold & speaks with a Northern accent. Not sure if he does this to frighten people, though!

    Now… back to theology & the intelligent, erudite discussion of why gays should be able to marry (:

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Well I’m glad someone here thinks I’m being erudite.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    We do. Nothing of Jesus’ teachings on marriage would have contradicted the great rabbi, Shammai. Hillel’s divorce for almost any trivial cause (even a bad meal) gave licence for desertion with men leaving wife and children destitute.

    We all here share a common belief in the only true God who shepherded your ancestors; before whom no ulterior motives are hidden or escape justice. We may disagree on how His eternal promises to them were fulfilled.

  • Ian Paul

    Thanks…though my comment was in relation to the specific question of same-sex activity. I agree entirely with what you say…and that perhaps makes it even more striking that on this issue, Scripture appears simply not to recognise ‘orientation’ as a category. I think we all need to take that seriously: Scripture recognises neither heterosexuality nor homosexuality as categories.

  • Ian Paul

    That’s difficult…but it is part of what comes as a media figure. I have similarly had hate-filled comments on my blog.

    But it is *really* easy to manage these. As the blog author, you can delete comments and ban individuals. Or you can debate on someone else’s blog. Or turn comments off. Or have a constructive dialogue with someone of a different view.

    All these are possible, and I think the problem is that by not taking any of these up, to the sceptics Vicky seems to be saying that she is not willing to put her reasons out there…though is happy to criticise the reasons of others.

  • David George

    This sounds like the voice of desperation and self-doubt. No one is listening any more. Gay people, including clergy, will continue to marry and lead happy and fulfilled lives. Why should Evangelical gays be so miserable because of a fundamentalist view of scriptures? Get on with your chosen lifestyle. Others will continue with theirs and the sexuality God has given them.

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    Well done Vicky. Be encouraged, you are not alone. A couple of books I would add to your list are “Living it Out” by Rachel and Sarah Hagger-Holt and the one I’m reading at the moment, following a recommendation by Andrew Goddard at Fulcrum, “Generous Spaciousness” by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter. This is a brilliant, mature book by an ex, ex-gay ministry leader, which offers hope for a way forward for people on all sides of this crisis.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    So, I think that those here who oppose same-sex marriage on scriptural grounds have explained their position clearly. Peter Ould, Ian Paul and I have dealt with the objections without resorting to demeaning name-calling.

    So what’s left, especially once we have examined and presented unanswered scriptural arguments against same-sex marriage? Why won’t those in favour of SSM be persuaded? Well, here are the reasons:

    1. They begin with themselves. Since they are mostly helpful, cheering, community-engaged and supportive of others (like Jesus was), they believe that, whatever specific verses may say, Jesus would have generally affirmed the most cherished and long-standing personal qualities, including homosexuality, despite scripture declaring the sin of acting upon it, and the call to repent.

    2. They consider it an act of heroism for an accomplished Christian public figure to spearhead advocacy for SSM. If some declare that ‘hero’ to be apostate, heretical or
    confused by opponents, that is termed abuse and rough treatment. Their supporters believe that the only appropriate response is an outpouring of encouragement and
    sympathy. In contrast, they see no problem in cheering on those who heaping
    scorn on the intelligence of even fully qualified academics who oppose SSM.

    3. While they consider a minority of those who oppose SSM to be relatively well-informed, our multi-faceted arguments from scientific studies, law and scripture are interpreted as aggressive, lacking a sponsor of sufficient public recognition and incompatible with progress in human rights.

    4. Their underlying belief is that whatever the scripture might appear to say, the true meanings of specific verses is shrouded in relative obscurity, until someone supportive of their position explains it (e.g. Matthew Vine).

    5. They believe that any person opposed to SSM is either a naïve literalist, or an avowed bigot who would have probably supported racism.

    6. Given the public support and that even some respected theologians are arguing from
    scripture in favour of SSM and given the religious error in supporting England’s practice of slavery, their belief is that opposition to SSM based on that sort of bigoted argument.

    7. They believe that evangelical is a code word for anti-scientific literalism.

    8. To them, literalism doesn’t mean inability to recognise metaphorical language. It means
    being unable to re-fashion the tools of interpreting to fit more modern and generally
    accepted notions of morality.

    9. The most visible public aspect of marriage is the wedding. Having personally seen
    the commitment of same-sex couples they know, they see no reason to deny the societal
    affirmation, regardless of unwarranted automatic parental prioritization that will be conferred. They consider comparisons to any other form of sexual attraction that remains prohibited is to be just more homophobia. They consider the societal affirmation of mutual homosexual devotion to be part of the cure for homophobia. They consider as secondary the undermining of biological parenthood by a same-sex marriage partner who is not blood-related to the child.

    10. Most importantly, when a choice has to be made over which parts of scripture are valid, those that sound closest to self-help affirmation mantras are considered by them to be genuinely inspired. Others which sound inimical to modern society are rejected as no more than the expression of primitive minds unable to grasp the complexities and discoveries of our modern world.

  • kate

    You would rather they never found happiness??? Watch the young man’s video in the blog.

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    David, your comment seems a pretty ungenerous evaluation of the spirituality and motivation of people who interpret scripture differently from you. In response to your point 1, that was certainly not the starting point for me, or most of the others I know who have moved in a progressive direction on this issue. My starting point was to be brought up short by the consistently good spiritual fruit I noticed in the lives of many homosexual christians, some celibate, some partnered. This led me back to the bible where I found the case against homosexuality to be far weaker than I had been led to believe. I became convinced that what the traditional clobber verses are addressing is not the kind of faithful stable monogomous same-sex relationships which I now believe we should be supporting. We can disagree on interpretation of those verses, but please don’t question the integrity with which I and others have examined and prayed about the text. Turning away from the clobber texts let me mention two passages of scripture which encouraged me to change my mind. Firstly Acts 10 and 11. The situation Peter found himself in when he encountered evidence of God’s unconditional acceptance of gentiles seems very similar to the experiences many of us have had when encountering LGBT christians. You probably believe we are wrong to make this link or comparison, but we feel we have responded to the Holy Spirit in the same way that Peter did, in the face of very similar evidence.
    The second passage is 1 Corinthians 12 especially verses 24 to 26, where I was challenged by the teaching that when one part of the body is unhealthy, the whole body is unhealthy. It seemed to me that we were repressing some parts of our body, in particular the LGBT christians among us, allowing them no healthy way to live within the body unless they have the vocation and gift of celibacy.
    Thanks for reading this. My intention is not to be polemical but to promote mutual understanding and respect, as Vicky called for in the OP. Love and prayers, Drew.

  • kate

    Bla bla bla… How many heterosexuals mess up??? My natural biological father is gay and I’m glad, he has helped raise me to be open minded and loving. Families are never simple… It’s more that just biology! The more people who love a child the better…

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Drew,
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply.
    To clarify my ten reasons, I didn’t claim that all are held by every church member supportive of SSM.
    Nevertheless, let’s consider your response:

    1. My starting point was to be brought up short by the consistently good spiritual fruit I noticed in the lives of many homosexual christians, some celibate, some partnered.

    This agrees with my point 9: Having personally seen the commitment of same-sex couples they know, they see no reason to deny the societal affirmation, regardless of unwarranted automatic parental prioritization that will be conferred. They consider comparisons to any other form of sexual attraction that remains prohibited is to be just more homophobia. They consider the societal affirmation of mutual homosexual devotion to be part of the cure for homophobia.

    Do you disagree?

    2. This led me back to the bible where I found the case against homosexuality to be far weaker than I had been led to believe. I became convinced that what the traditional clobber verses are addressing is not the kind of faithful stable monogomous same-sex relationships which I now believe we should be supporting.

    You can call them clobber verses, if you like, but this still agrees with my point 1: ‘they believe that, whatever specific verses may say, Jesus would have generally affirmed the most cherished and long-standing personal qualities, including homosexuality, despite scripture declaring the sin of acting upon it, and the call to repent.’ and point 10: ‘Others which sound inimical to modern society are rejected as no more than the expression of primitive minds unable to grasp the complexities and discoveries of our modern world.’

    3. ‘We can disagree on interpretation of those verses, but please don’t question the integrity with which I and others have examined and prayed about the text.’
    Well, I will now question integrity when I notice that your earlier contribution made no attempt to reject Vicky’s uphelpful and unfavourable comparison of the opposing stance (held by others who have also examined and prayed) with the church’s earlier stance in support of slavery. Also, no appeal here for counter-balancing generosity in the face of aspersions cast on Peter Ould and Ian Paul’s credentials.
    Challenging the unfavourable comparison that was mentioned as offensive would have demonstrated integrity.

    4. You’ve compared the response of ‘inclusive’ churches to LGBT Christians with Peter’s response to the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Gentiles converted to faith in Christ. Nevertheless, accompanying that parallel is an a priori assumption that homosexual acts were only provisionally prohibited, just like dietary restrictions and seasonal Jewish feasts.
    Yet, even as I’ve read Haller, Vine and others, the evidence for distinguishing PSF homosexual relations from other prohibited sexual relations in a PSF context is weak. On what basis do you make that distinction? Why is it valid and others not?

    5. As Matthew Vine has explained, you also assert that the Church is repressing LGBT Christians by declaring celibacy to be the only means by which they can avoid sexual sin. Let’s be clear that the propensity for attraction is not sinful, so sexual orientation is not sinful. The APA has clearly distinguished sexual orientation from sexual orientation identity (i.e. values and behavior). They accept that the latter is more fluid and that people are capable of telic congruence, living in accordance with their religious values.
    So, people like Peter Ould can say that although he wasn’t born gay, he didn’t choose his sexual orientation either. He didn’t choose celibacy, he founded a loving family with his wife, thereby maintaining the Genesis archetype of marriage.
    So, you, at least, appear to treat the scriptural prohibitions on sexual activity as inapplicable to PSF same-sex relationships alone. Why aren’t they inapplicable to PSF relationships of every kind? Say, the medical condition of genetic sexual attraction.

    6. It may arouse another reaction mentioned in my point 9, but let’s for a moment, consider that the biblical text ‘might’ prohibit PSF homosexual relationships. Then, the nub of the debate would be whether a Christian should have to alter the behavioural priorities arising from a characteristic that was not consciously self-chosen. And why? Well, I would think because if not consciously self-chosen, it takes on the status accorded to race and biological gender.
    The distinction is that behaviour, however it arises, is not the same as race and biological gender, is it? We are under no compulsion to act on our predispositions.

    Much of the NT isn’t about bad people overcoming behaviour arising from consciously self-chosen traits. It’s all about people who consciously want to be good, but driven by behavioural choices arising from predispositions that are far from self-chosen. It’s about people, including Peter, being led in direction that they would prefer to avoid.

    And why do they go against the very grain of their make-up? The enduring, ever-optimistic, pursuing and patient love of Christ constrains them.

  • Ian Paul

    Sorry, you think my friends who follow biblical teaching never found happiness? Goodness, what an assumption! Do go and watch some of their testimonies at http://www.livingout.org

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    You might consider it a better world if the laws were founded on what you think is open-minded and loving alone. You know, the kind of love that shows contempt for biological fathers.

    Families don’t have to be simple, the law just has to be consistent in not just advancing one set of people at the expense of another person’s rights.

    I assume you’d also allow the State to take a child away from a perfectly good birth mother. That’s just biology, right?
    Or perhaps, for the State to compel a woman to carry her child to full term. That’s also just biology.

    No, the only biology that you treat as optional is the one linking heterosexuality to male parenthood. No surprise there!

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    Thanks David, Just lost my reply before posting so trying again now! Thanks for clarifying that you are not accusing all SSM supporters of all your 10 points. In reply to your 6 points to me:
    1. I do disagree. The point I’m making is completely different from your original point 9. It was not the commitment of SS individuals and couples which impressed me, it is what seemed to me to be evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit – patience, gentleness, forgiveness, self-control etc, coupled with a sustained commitment to Christ, in spite of being rejected and vilified by many christians.
    2. Its a bit rich when you accuse me of making assumptions about what Jesus would have said on the matter. That of course is the weakest aspect of the traditional view. Jesus said absolutely nothing on the subject. He did have a lot to say to the “orthodox” religious of his day, especially concerning their harsh and selective application of interpretations of an ancient legal code to oppress and exclude other, vulnerable people. I’m from an evangelical background and it took me a long time to recognise that we were open to the same critique.
    As for setting aside perfectly clear bible verses just because they don’t suit us, I don’t think that is a fair criticism when you look at the range of scholarly interpretations of the verses concerned.
    3. You are being unfair here! In my earlier post I just offered some affirmation to Vicky and suggested a couple more books. I have not read all the previous comments, but I would be firmly against demonisation or misrepresentation of anybody’s credentials or integrity, including the people I disagree with. I want a clean and respectful debate with respect for all. Posting now so I don’t lose this. Then I’ll come back on your other points.

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    (continuation of my reply to David!)
    4. I think the distinction is pretty clear. If you compare the other prohibited sexual relationships there are elements of abuse, exploitation, domination and so on. Whereas a PSF relationship can – and in numerous couples I have met does – have almost all the “goods” found in heterosexual marriage and without any element of abuse, exploitation or domination. It is also worth recognising as an aside that through much of the OT, and much of church history, some pretty unhealthy models of marriage have been promoted. I think we need to be especially careful when building doctrine on the OT, to take note of how Jesus himself related to the OT and rabinic interpretation thereof – “You have heard it said… but I say…”.
    5. I don’t feel fully qualified to answer your point but I think we need to hear the response of LGBT people to what you are saying, rather than simply impose a judgement on them. I believe scripture affirms PSF relationships and am not sure which of these I am favouring same sex relationships against.
    6. I agree of course that all of us should respond to the sanctifying work of Christ in us and that this will inevitably mean altering some of our behaviours and suppressing some of our impulses. We all need healing, correction and transformation. Nobody’s disputing that.

  • David George

    Don’t be silly, Ed. Peter Ould has demanded Vicky engage with him – on her own blog!

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    4. Sorry, but isn’t that quite a narrow view? I think that it’s quite an insult to those who experience genetic sexual attraction, or find themselves in the wrong part of the tables of kindred and affinity for you to suggest that any such relationship would exhibit abuse, exploitation and domination.
    This is the sort of response that shows why it’s false to claim that the SSM campaign is open-minded. It’s about the right to marry, they say, but just for homosexuals is the sub-text.
    Despite your concerns regarding OT marriage models, Christ seemed to add no caveats in explaining the Genesis model. In fact, that model is the startling exception, where He doesn’t abandon the paradigm. He simply elevates it to its rightful place above the Mosaic provision for hardheartedness.

    5. Okay. Let’s leave that one for now.

    6. That would suggest that the applicability of the scriptural prohibitions to PSF same-sex relationships is the hinge of this discussion. Yet, I would again ask why only PSF same-sex relationships are exempted. I’m hoping you won’t re-iterate your response to point 4.

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    4. Sorry I was unfamiliar with the term genetic sexual attraction. I’m not making any comment either way on those cases. I’m simply supporting same sex marriages as being just as valid as hetersexual ones.
    6. Yes I think that is the hinge of the discussion. I do not agree with your assertion that scripture prohibits PSF same-sex relationships.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    1. What I called ‘commitment’, you have presented in a more expanded and somewhat nuanced way as evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. You use the phrase ‘what seemed to me’.

    2. My point 1 wasn’t a criticism. We all have to make moral deductions and part of that involves assumptions. It was an observation of our differing conclusions.

    The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. To the apostles, He said, ‘If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. So, the NT apostolic witness should be consulted as a continuation of Jesus’ spiritual insight.

    One of the best examples of Christ’s deductive (rather than inductive) process is His moral reasoning about the morality of divorce for any cause (Hillel) from the story of a complete different era in Genesis. What other types of marriage situations would fall foul of logical deductions can be made from this very ancient story in the same vein as His own ‘it was not so from the beginning’? Polygamy, apparently.

    In contrast, we can oppose environmental pollution and chemical weapons stockpiling, making far less obvious deductions from biblical principles and without having to accept that it would only be true if Christ had spoken about it. Why is that?

    3. The difference is that you seem to have embedded your conclusion (PSF same-sex relationships are moral) in the exploration (are PSF same-sex relationships moral?), a.k.a. begging the question.

    For instance, St. Paul contrasted the fruit of the Holy Spirit with the works of the flesh (that his Galatian audience and any church is also capable of committing). Don’t you have to apply an a priori assumption that arsenokoites does not refer to PSF homosexual relationships? Or, put another way, if arsenokoites was applicable to PSF gay relationships, how would you then view them?

    3. So, whatever the starting point, it does seem that we should focus on the applicability of the scriptural pronouncements to PSF same-sex relationships. You can see that the main difference isn’t that those who oppose SSM haven’t seen any human goodness in the lives of PSF gay couples. The Galatians and any other church can exhibit both fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh.

    What we can’t do is to assume that, on the basis of observed commendable behaviour, that to be able to exhibit fruit must cancel any idea that a PSF same-sex relationship is a work of the flesh. Fruit and works of the flesh are not mutually exclusive qualities in the believer’s life.

    We should also look at the routine unwarranted prioritization of parental rights above biological fatherhood that same-sex marriage will eventually assign.

    ‘.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    4. Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_sexual_attraction . Without an explanation as to why prohibitions for such relationships should continue, your support for same-sex marriage is a carefully exempted special pleading.
    6. You describe my position as an assertion. You are not commenting on why the scriptural prohibition on relates to other sexual relationships. Without some sort of consistency on why other kinds of PSF relationships should remain banned, your support for SSM remains a special pleading that fits in with your personal morality, not scripture.
    The distinction that other types of sexual relationships involve abuse, exploitation and domination is an unsupported assertion. Where’s the comparative data to prove this. In the absence of data, apart from a subjective ‘ick’ factor, you are yet to present material distinction between SSM and other currently prohibited types of sexual relations.

  • Rebecca

    Peter,

    I believe her primary point is that while she desires to examine this issue in great detail, she does not wish to devolve into a “proof-texting” argument. To examine each of the six or seven verses that persons with opposing views typically use to make their arguments would cause both sides to “miss the forest for the trees”. This issue is much larger than a literal and socio-culturally decontextualized argument, based upon select verses pulled from context, is able to address.

    In addition, using the word “Evangelical” as though it is a badge of honor that may be arbitrarily rewarded, or removed, is absurd. With all due respect, I believe it is comments like yours that have caused her to hesitate to engage in “proof-texting”, choosing instead to write a book on the larger themes and universal truths, while considering those texts in their appropriate context within each chapter, book, and the Bible as a whole.

  • Rebecca

    Or perhaps Chris harkened back to the text in Genesis knowing that His listeners were familiar with it, and that it was applicable to the specific statement they made at that moment, regarding heterosexual marriage and divorce, as occurred during that day and time.

  • Rebecca

    David,

    With all due respect, first-century Jewish minds were NOT far removed from any of the Jewish texts. Any good Jew was more familiar with that material than the best scholar is today.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    With respect too, I referred specifically to the Genesis model, not familiarity with the texts themselves.

    Especially considering that Jewish minds that followed Hillel gave greater weight to Moses’ subsequent accommodation of divorce.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    I’m confused Rebecca,

    Do you want Vicky to discuss the verses or not? If you are suggesting “” “she does not wish to devolve into a “proof-texting” argument”, why are you then suggesting Vicky should be “considering those texts in their appropriate context within each chapter, book, and the Bible as a whole”?
    One of the key defining points of Evangelicals is that they take the Bible verses very seriously – it is the starting point of any theology. So to be an Evangelical *IS* to begin with an exploration of the passages in question. Any appeal to experience has to come afterwards and within the context of the Biblical record.

    And that is why this blog post is so disappointing, because Vicky doesn’t want to do that with us.

  • Anne Peat

    Oh, I know that, David. And he simply blocks people on spurious grounds when they go on asking questions he doesn’t want to answer or replies to his rudeness with politeness.

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    I see where you are coming from and will have to bow out for now. We clearly differ on some fundamentals in discerning the meaning and application of scripture. Let others join in if they wish. Best wishes.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Well, there we have it. Calmly and with mutual respect, we have clarified where the real distinctions lie.

    I hope that, instead of going over emotive old ground, facilitated discussions will focus on the real difference.

    In a nutshell, it is the relative credit that some here assign to the ‘lived experience’ of LGBT Christians in PSF same-sex relationships that, for them, makes any scriptural prohibitions inapplicable.

    To them, those pronouncements were supposed to be for bad and not good people, like those LGBT friends and family that they know.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Wrong. James Byron, Guglielmo , Martin Reynolds, Gerry Lynch are all prolific commentators on his blog. They are all vigorously in favour of same sex marriage and high profile SSM activists.

    Their comments run into hundreds. They have never been censored. The only condition is not to speak of his family members including his kids in derogatory terms.

    These same-sex marriage advocates will testify that your statement is false to the core. And that your opportunism to discredit him is contemptible.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Chin up, bro. You know they called Jesus a boozer and a Samaritan half-breed.

  • Rebecca

    Vicky,

    Let them accuse you of whatever they like. Write your book. Thank you for doing so.

    I knew this about myself when I was 12, and when I told my parents a decade later, I was cast out of my family, my church, my home, and shut out of everything that mattered to me. I then struggled for almost two decades to reconcile what I know in my heart, and feel with my deepest being in moments of quiet prayer, with what the loud and angry voices all around me continued to assert. I know I did not choose to be this way, I cannot change, God is not changing me, I am not evil, the basis of any relationship I would consider is love and God is at the center of it, and He does not condemn me, nor does the Bible. I know that, and have always known it, because the “still, small voice” has always whispered, despite the din around me. There have been many, many times, however, that the din has become so loud that I have heard nothing but that- and hated myself, and despaired as a lamb with no flock, alone in the desert.

    I suspect that this comment alone will generate a great deal of backlash. I’ve experienced it my entire life. I will tell you, however, that no matter the thickness of my skin- no matter the layers upon layers of scars and hurts, I bleed anew almost every time. People think they are rejecting your EXTERNAL ACTIONS. What they don’t understand is that the way you are able to love someone else is so intricately woven into who you are and how you experience the world, that what they are really attacking is YOUR BEING. And that those of us who disagree with them do so because our very BEING demanded that we try to understand how such as we could be on the earth, when we didn’t choose this and are told we are an abomination to God.

    They fail to understand that the six or seven verses are nearly irrelevant to this discussion, because there are much larger, more important themes at stake. The Bible never speaks about same-gender marriage- it wasn’t a part of the culture then. It never speaks of same-gender love, only same-gender lust. And, of course, all people are capable of being motivated by selfish and self-serving lust, or by selfless and other-serving love. And two actions may be the same EXTERNALLY, but become radically different when the heart and motivation of the people involved are considered. Murder while defending yourself from lethal attack, and murder because you want someone else’s money, for example. Both are murder, something clearly condemned by the Ten Commandments, and yet we, as rational and thinking people, understand that careful scrutiny of every situation, the heart and motivation of the people, and the fruits of the actions, must be considered to properly understand. This is the greatest failure, in my opinion, of those who unilaterally condemn any and all same-gender relationships. They fail to examine what is truly at stake- the heart and motivation of God’s children who are gay, rather than an external action.

    I have seen several references to the creation story. This is the account (actually, there are two, with some interesting differences) of how the world and the first people began. Of COURSE there is no accounting of same-gender relationships or marriage. Homosexual people are a minority, and have always been so. They are not unnatural, however, and they are not specifically mentioned in the Genesis story because their existence was not integral to the primary point of the story, which was that God created Adam and Eve, and in doing so, created the human race.

    There are MANY of God’s children who do not fit into the traditional male-female paradigm and therefore, do not fit neatly into the Genesis account or into arguments against same-gender marriage that are based upon procreation or the theory that because they are not mentioned, they must therefore be against God’s will. One in every 1,000 babies born is born inter-sexual in some way: differences occur genetically, chromisomally, epi-genetically, hormonally, and phenotypically. The existence of these people and the moral conflict that is thrust upon them by the dictates of their BEING and the expectation of a hetero-normative world is not evil. These people are not evil. And when they love- it is love- not an external act that may be divorced from the BEING of the person.

    The largest failure on both sides is the failure to recognize that what is truly at issue is that this is how people LOVE. It is not about sex. It never will be. When people want to commit to one another for life- to love and hold, and cherish- to be responsible for and to honor- it isn’t because they want to have sex with them. It is because they love them- in the same way all people do. And where there is love between peoples, God is present. That is made clear again, and again, and again. And this fruitless (truly spiritually fruitless) raging battle has had many casualties- among them millions upon millions of gay people who have had the doors of the church shut in their faces, their spirits broken and their self-worth slaughtered, all in the name of the interpretation of a Bible that extolls us again and again not to judge one another, but to love one another. The focus of ALL THAT WE DO should be love. And the fruits of any action, any argument, any conflict, must be carefully examined.

    Regardless of what you believe about this issue, the litmus is love. That is where we have all failed to be like our Savior.

  • Rebecca

    Peter,

    I’m sorry you’re confused. Let me try again.

    I do not wish to speak for Vicki, by my perception of what she wrote is that she does not intend to conduct a verse-by-verse proof-texting argument via this medium. To do so would be detrimental to the primary goal of examining those verses in their larger scriptural and spiritual contexts.

  • Rebecca

    As a post-script, given that you are extremely disappointed with this blog post, perhaps it would be best to wait until she has completed her book, then, after having read it, seek an open dialogue with her. That would seem the most respectful course of action.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    How would it be detrimental? I’ve found on my website the exact opposite. I explored the meaning of words and let people discuss my assertions. That allows for a proper level of academic engagement and means that my argument either is shown to be flawed (a good thing, because they I don’t hold onto a flawed argument) or robust (in which case others are challenged to adjust their preconceptions).

  • David George

    Ould is obviously angry because the Church of England hasn’t employed him. He now fears Vicky may steal his thunder which is why he wants her to debate with him. He has closed his own blog, and is now telling Vicky how to run hers. What a rude man!

  • Barbara

    Vicky- you are in a unique position to be able to help people bridge this very difficult gulf of understanding. Be strong and very courageous. I look forward to the panel at Greenbelt. I may have shared this scripture with you before, but here it is again: Esther 4 v.14. With love, Barbara.

  • David George

    Dear Rebecca
    You have attacked an ‘ironic’ comment of mine aimed, not at Vicky, but at Peter Ould who has damned her for not writing on the ‘gay’ issue on her blog.
    You have my full support as someone who shows she knows God’s Love in what you have written. Every Blessing

  • James Byron

    Ah, a namecheck! :D

    I’m happy to confirm that in the time I’ve posted on Peter’s blog, I’ve felt free to present & defend my position on equal marriage, and sexuality in general.

    Peter did ask me not to kick off a debate on abortion, but I was given due warning, and totally understood his reasons. I did as asked and let it be. I’ve no complaints with how that was handled.

    All in all he handled a very tough mod job with style and snark. Couldn’t ask for more. Even avoided a football war. ;-)

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    I’ve never contended that Jesus’ listeners were unfamiliar with the text, so proposing it as an alternative to my position is unjustified.

    The Genesis model is clearly applicable to the trivialisation of marital permanence (divorce for any cause) and not just at that time. It clearly influenced the apostles’ view of marriage.

    The Genesis model is also clearly applicable to the trivialisation of binary union in marriage. St. Peter declared that bishops and deacons were to set a pattern of good behaviour for congregations. One condition was to be ‘husband of one wife’. Polygamy was banned.

    The only issue for which you believe that the Genesis model is not applicable is to the trivialisation of gender in marriage. It’s called a special pleading. Making up an exemption from the logical deduction of the Genesis model because you want it to be so.

    A slf-serving suspension of consistent reasoning.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    What will it take for the Moderator Vicky Beeching to challenge those making remarks about Peter Ould’s sex life like David George and to warn them to desist or face ejection?

    Amazing that a public Christian commentator cares so little for those who haven’t issued a single insult or ad hominem of that sort, while telling us of how painful it is to be called a disgrace.

  • James Byron

    As someone who affirms gay relationships while also believing the clobber verses to condemn homosexuality in all circumstances, I can but wish Vicky luck. She’s walking a far harder path than those of us who can simply say that the Bible is wrong.

    This cultural revolution stirs up the passion it does because it raises much larger questions about religious authority. While I believe an affirming coalition must cut across the theological spectrum, it’d be a tragedy if this is resolved without the church asking searching questions about whether it ought to value words due to their source, not their merits.

  • David George

    Have you read how horribly rude he’s been to Vicky on her own blog? His behaviour is indefensible.

  • James Byron

    No, I haven’t, I’ve come to this via Ian Paul’s discussion, & saw the namecheck.

    Can only relay my experiences at Peter’s own blog. :-)

  • Stephen

    Calm down Mr Atkins. It’s difficult to know how to respond to such an angry tirade. You’re not really addressing what I said so it’s perhaps worth taking a bit of time to reflect on my words. All the best.

  • Stephen

    Will do my best to mention it in future. Good one, Dave.

  • Matt Atkins

    I am not angry and I directly responded to what you said. There is nothing in your post to reflect on, it is a stream of ignorant insults.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Thanks for your fairminded response earlier, JB. You’ve raised valid points here. Indeed, rather than pretending that the first-century church couldn’t possibly have meant PSF same-sex relationships, Vicky and others should explore their confidence in the moral validity of different parts of scripture.

    That would be way more intellectually honest than their constant denials whenever they’re told that they’ve obviously lost confidence in the bits of the Bible that don’t tally with modern Western ethics and sexual mores,

  • Stephen

    Well, it’s true that you responded to what I said, but you didn’t really address it. My point was about being an evangelical and an Anglican. How is that possible for a thoughtful person with the time to study when the evangelical methdology, ecclesiology, and understanding of salvation is at odds with much of the tradition and practice of Anglicanism – as well as of the other great historical traditions?

  • David George

    Don’t be so silly. Comparing Our Lord with Peter Ould is blasphemous.

  • David George

    Don’t try to argue with Peter Ould, Rebecca. He will only accuse you of “ad hominem” if he can’t get his own way. Vicky has told him she’s NOT going to debate with him but he still comes back and insists she must!

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Oh, so, by your definition, Christ’s own comparison of His rejection with human rejection must be blasphemous too:

    ‘ “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.’ (John 15:18 – )

    You’re wrong again. Why not just admit your blind hatred. It would be more honest.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Peter,

    Well you did give us all free lessons in Latin (:

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    And one or two in logic as well (I hope).

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Peter,

    Yeah, very good.

    I think the way these things get shouty is that this whole subject, i.e. one’s sexuality, is perhaps one of the most deeply personal things you can discuss. I’m not surprised by the reactions of observant Evangelicals here because I’ve seem this myself with a gay Evangelical friend. For myself, I used to get upset about people who take the view that being gay as a sin[I never do quite get the Christian position here- is it the sexual act or the sexuality], but now I just don’t care. I figured, like the concept of hell and knowing Jesus, why should I be offended by something which I don’t believe in? Evangelicals should be free to say whatever they want and I’m free to push back at these ideas.

    FWITW -I agree with you and Ian (below) that sharing abstracts or parts of this book here would be a good thing, as critical feedback can only strengthen an argument . Besides which you can choose to respond to comments, ignore them, deride them or delete them. I think the issue might be because Vicki did not quite see, as she has noted herself above, the strong pushback that would entail to her support of SSM.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Thank you.

    Yes, I found this exact approach (sharing and getting critical feedback) incredibly useful on my own site. It has actually forced me to change my position on a number of issues in this topic over the years.

    And I got some *horrendous* comments. I just deleted them and blocked the commenter. One or two emails got sent to the Police who were actually very good at dealing with abuse (and threats of assault).

  • Hannah

    Hi Vicky, I’m sorry to hear of your grandmother’s death. I hope you are finding the space and time to continue to grieve.
    Thanks for writing about this topic. I love that you’re deliberately choosing to do it in the way that enables as much thought, engagement and listening as possible whilst also limiting the amount of hurt and offensive comments that can be thrown. It’s disappointing that that approach has to be taken, but is totally understandable.
    For myself, I will be really interested in where you go with it and will be following up some of those resources you pointed to. This discussion is really timely, as I have begun to hear more honest accounts from LGBT friends and realised that the traditional line I’d heard through the church for most of my life just doesn’t convince me in the face of their very real, personal experiences.
    As much as their lives, sexuality, choices and ultimately, their relationship to God, are not for me to judge, I am really interested in learning more and hearing more from both sides, if only to be able to listen, understand and support them better.
    Thank you.

  • ed77

    Ian, I’m afraid that’s a straw man. No one has demanded that she debate here, or ‘demanded’ that she debate anywhere. I am also amazed that the ten people who voted for your comment also seem oblivious to this.

  • ed77

    nope not as far as I can see.

  • Anne Peat

    Not my experience I am afraid, David, as you may remember. I never spoke of his family in derogatory terms, yet he insulted me, then blocked me, and did the same to others who had also not done so.

  • Guest

    Sorry for my tardy response. No, I don’t think there should
    be a general moratorium.

    However, I have noticed that many people who label themselves “conservative” or “liberal” are very reluctant to criticise the views of others who adopt the same label, even when their views are actually very different. In that sense, it seems to be limiting many people’s ability to behave objectively and I think that’s a big problem.

    It’s a big problem because it creates a suspicion between decent “liberals” and “conservatives” that perhaps their reasonable sounding opponents just sound reasonable but actually hold views quite similar to those at the extremes.

  • James Byron

    We’re generally reluctant to criticize our own group. I much prefer commenting on evangelical blogs than I do disagreeing with fellow liberals over at Thinking Anglicans, although I do it some.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Good point. The polarisation of views is a big problem. Instead of the full spectrum of nuanced differences, the two juggernauts of orthodoxy destroying any chance of a fair hearing with pejorative labelling.

    Nicodemus wanted the other Pharisees (incensed as they were by Jesus’ patent disregard for their revered externalisms) to give Christ a fair hearing: ‘“Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” (John 7:51)

    The Pharisees resort to parochial labelling: ‘“Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” (John 7:52)

    We know that many Pharisees eventually came to believe that Jesus was the messiah

  • Greg Webb

    Great work Vicky. The important is rarely easy, and I’m sorry you’re getting attacked for it. Keep up the studies, follow where the texts and the Lord lead you and keep sharing conclusions that are better informed than at least 99% of your critics. Illegitimi non carborundum ;-)

  • Guest

    Dear Guest, please be very careful with the words you choose to use when discussing these issues. There are real people, with real wounds, real sorrows, real struggles, and real scars- at the center of this issue. Although many would like to treat the topic as an academic discourse, the reality is that there are millions of people across the face of the earth who did not choose to be homosexual, who have been bruised and battered by the Church and its response, and they are caught in the crossfire. Please be aware that using language like “anal activities” has only one purpose- to dehumanize and demean the people about whom you are speaking. I am certain that if I were to reduce YOU to a category described only by a private sexual activity (and then describe that activity in crude terms), the effect upon you and our discourse would be incredibly negative. It is not only unkind and unloving, and therefore very far beneath the standard that we Christians should hold ourselves to, but it serves to reduce communication and empathy, rather than building bridges between God’s people.

    I ask you to please consider what you say, and how you say it. I shudder to think of a gay teenager, the most at-risk group for teen suicide, coming across comments like the above. Please consider the potential impact of your words, and temper them with love in all contexts.

  • Guest

    It’s natural for some people to see themselves as being on one
    side or the other, but something seems odd to me in this debate. For example, in UK politics, the Conservatives and Labour will generally put aside their ideological differences to unite in
    condemning those at the political extremes. A peculiarity of this debate is that a similar statement cannot be made about the “liberals” and “conservatives”. The labels seem to be so strong for many people that they override all other considerations.

    In fact, if we take the “conservatives”, those at the far edge of “conservatism” seem to have a higher profile than the decent
    “conservatives”. In the UK, during the debate over same-sex marriage, it was Anglican “Mainstream” who regularly appeared on TV as the “conservative” voice. How has this situation come about?

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Vicky

    My background’s in New Testament.

    I also think that the supposed ‘infallibility’ of any passage whatsoever needs to be measured against the research and the available facts. If what is said is true in the real world we should accept it. If not, not.

    I also think that the present case is a relatively clear one: Paul is correct to classify homosexual behaviour as harmful and as not a good thing as the very many up-to-date statistics on comparative life expectancy, rates of STIs, of promiscuity, incidence of medically harmful sexual practices, drug-use etc. very amply demonstrate. They have been assembled numerous times by different authors (of whom the only one you mention is Prof. Gagnon) – because people refuse to debate about them or immediately change the subject when they are brought up. I am imagining that you’re a better person than to do that. Please prove me right on that!!

    He is also right to classify it as non-natural. The same secondary authors who assemble the primary secular statistics (secondaries: ML Brown, KL Schmidt, Gagnon, the Whiteheads, RR Reilly, Muehlenberg, Satinover, Dallas and others) go in some detail into the ‘born gay?’ question. Most people do not remember the first (say) 4 years of their life anyway, and several years after that, which they do remember, are non-sexual. So why are they saying they are ‘born gay’? Stats on average rates of early abuse, on the extreme fluidity of self-designation as homosexual or otherwise, on identical twins, on massive purely-cultural influences on such designation (e.g. the recent large rise in self-designated bisexual women) etc. etc. need to be addressed. I and many others see people ignoring these statistics, we think ‘Aha, I know why you are ignoring them’, and after that it is so difficult for us to take their scholarly (as opposed to selective or cherry-picking) credentials seriously.

    I am so sorry that you suffered from bad and unrepeatable comments. I have also as has Michael Brown (and others). Brown’s book repeats many of these. In my experience Christians who swear or blaspheme are pretty rare.

    Last, I wonder if you’d reconsider your approach of classifying books by their conclusions. That is (you’ll agree) precisely the wrong way to classify them, since it prejudges the issue. And if the issues really are so finely balanced, it’s not likely to be possible to classify conclusions in a polar way anyway. Books should surely be classified by how thorough they are, and how evidence-based they are. Worst: you cite all the revisionist books first, and then mention Gagnon and (as an apparent afterthought) say that one should also read books with which one disagrees. Surely it is only through the reading process that one discovers with what one does agree, and the last approach which could ever be scholarly here is the privileging of books which agree with one’s predispositions.

    Predispositions are a matter of ideology. Ideology is anti-scholarship, the very reverse of scholarship.

    All the best, Chris.

  • Peter K

    The crude comparisons being made to the issues of women’s ministry and slavery demonstrate a very poor engagement with the New Testament’s teaching on these particular matters. I have myself, for instance, written a lengthy thesis on the issue of slavery in the Pauline writings, and (in line with the majority of renowned NT scholars) it was difficult to conclude anything other than that the NT was moving very clearly against the concept of slavery – something which would eventually lead to its demise amongst Christians. Moreover, the Clapham Sect and the Wesleys were all evangelical, Bible-believing Anglicans who nonetheless saw in the Scriptures a support for their strong anti-slavery position. By contrast, those who claimed to be Christians and upheld slavery were conveniently adopting a superficial reading of Scripture in order to justify the institution for their own economic gain.
    Sadly, Ms Beeching and the other revisionists have taken pastoral concerns as their starting point and have chosen to read Scripture in the light of these, rather than the other way round. There are many prominent liberals who admit that the Scriptural teaching on the homosexual lifestyle is very clear. They, of course, don’t accept the supreme authority of the Bible anyway. But those who claim to be Evangelical do, and so there is simply no possibility that those of a revisionist viewpoint can continue to call themselves Evangelical – Scripture is clear on this issue, and there is simply no way around it.
    Wherever churches have liberalised their teaching on the matter of sexuality (most notably the Episcopal Church USA), churches have been in rapid decline. My hope and prayer is that the Church of England, for one, will stand firm in the Faith delivered once for all to the saints.

  • Rebecca

    Chris,

    I must take umbrage with much of the above, and would very much like to discuss with you.

    To begin with, the social stigmatization and shunning from family, society and church that homosexual people face is what drives negative things like drug use, suicide rates, depression, and the like. My partner and I (together faithfully for 15 years) were not allowed in either of our families’ homes for a holiday for 13 years. My mother told me Satan had me, and my father told me I am perverted. I have experienced more exclusion and pain than you could possibly imagine. The heartache and sorrow I have suffered has been at the hands of my family and church- not because of my relationship with a precious woman of God who loves Him as much as I do.

    If you want to be completely accurate, lesbians are the group LEAST LIKELY to contract or transmit AIDS. Sexual promiscuity and lust-driven behaviors are just that- behaviors- that all people are capable of committing. A colleague of mine and his partner have been married and committed to one another for twenty-one years, however, and they are not promiscuous or driven by lust. To characterize all same-gender relationships in sexual terms, and therefore characterize all people in same-gender relationships as lust-driven sexual beings in “harmful” relationships, is character slander of the highest order, and also patently ridiculous. As I’m sure you know, marriage and long-term commitment has very LITTLE to do with sex and EVERYTHING to do with deep and abiding love for another.

    To the “not natural” question, I must ask you to use some common sense. We can talk about statistics later . . . let’s start with what your eyes can see. Let’s use some common sense. Evidence that this is indeed quite “natural” includes same-gender pairings in almost all documented mammalian species, particularly the great apes who share much of our genetic makeup. Much more persuasive, however, is the fact that homosexual people exist in every culture across the face of the earth, even those in which the penalty for loving someone of the same gender is DEATH, the fact that homosexual people spend years and thousands of dollars trying to change and that many resort to suicide when they fail (I encourage you to research the closing of Exodus International) . . . please use your common sense. NO ONE would choose this and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

    I realized this about myself when I first began to fall in love with other people, and that was at age 12. It was as “natural” for me as breathing. I was 12 years old, loved the Lord with all of my heart, and woke up one day and began to have crushes on others, the way all of my friends did. Only in my case, it was always with women. I am not capable of feeling attraction to, or romantic love for a man. I never have been.

    Oh, and for the record, I was raised in a Christian home, had a wonderful relationship with both of my parents, and was never abused. Also for the record, I am extremely feminine and am not gender confused. As I’ve spoken with more people and widened my circles, I’ve realized that there are indeed people who were abused in some way and may have issues that are resolvable with counseling. I’ve also realized that there are more (many, many more) whose stories are like mine: idealistic childhood with two still-married and loving parents, who simply go through puberty and begin to have crushes and fall in love, as all people do. No one chooses that. Did you choose which gender you are capable of loving in that way? Of course not. You just fell in love with people. The choice you had (that we all have) is how we are going to behave externally- not how we feel internally. We have a choice to either behave in lustful abandon (as were the people Paul described in the first chapter of Romans) or to behave with careful and committed fidelity to only one person. That is the path I have chosen.

    I began my life believing that homosexual people were damned to hell and that they were choosing to do something terrible, something so far outside of God’s will that He destroyed a city for it. When I realized this about myself, I didn’t have a word for it. BECAUSE it was so “natural” and happened without conscious thought or choice, I didn’t know that other people weren’t like me until I listened to my friends. As I grew older, and they began to speak about boys, I was utterly confused- I couldn’t understand what in the world they were attracted to. I also believed that I was the only woman who fell in love with other women on the face of the earth- because I walked in incredibly small Christian circles, I didn’t know another gay person (at least I wasn’t aware that I did) until I was 21 years old. No one influenced me. I was not recruited. I didn’t have any negative experiences. This is just how I was. Because of what I had been taught about homosexuals, I hated myself. There were times I thought it would be better to be dead than to have to be this thing that God hates.

    I believed I was the only one on the face of the earth, and that God had abandoned me. I couldn’t understand how He could make me something that automatically cast me out of heaven. I remember driving out to a field when I first got my license, falling to my knees and sobbing and screaming “Why???” at the sky until my vocal folds couldn’t make any more sounds. I prayed, and went on the road with a music a missions ministry for a year, believing that if I gave more of my life to the Lord, if I spent more hours in prayer, if I surrendered more, He would take this from me. He answered many other prayers in a truly miraculous way during those years- but not this one.

    I can tell you as only one who has walked this path can tell you, I have never had a choice about the way I feel inside. My choice is to live alone for the rest of my life, never loving another in the way that most people need to, or allow myself to love in the way that is “natural” to me. If I felt called to celibacy- if I felt that was something God required of me, I would do it. But I do not feel that call. I very much feel the need to love, and be loved by another in committed union.

    And all of the scholarly debate in the world cannot speak to the personal experience of a human being in their most silent moments of prayer, when the Holy Spirit comforts. I can tell you, as someone who is speaking about this from an external perspective cannot, that God made me exactly as I am, and that He does not condemn me for loving my partner. To the contrary, He has continued to bless me miraculously, despite the condemnation from my family and church.

    Please try to remember that there are real people about whom you are speaking. We’re not evil, we’re not lust-driven, we’re not any more “unnatural” than any other variant of humanity. We’re just a minority. And God loves us exactly as we are.

    To the “fluidity” and “bi-sexual” comments above, I should add that when I was younger, I thought people who said they were bi-sexual were lying. It was so far outside of my own experience that I thought it couldn’t possibly be true. I have since learned that I am wrong, and that there is more likely a very broad spectrum. I am almost 40 years old and have NEVER experienced attraction or romantic love for a man. As such, I suspect that I am very far to the left of that spectrum and that there are people very far to the right of that spectrum. There are also, however, people on various points of the spectrum- and I believe that this clouds the issue a great deal.

    Someone who is CAPABLE of feeling attraction for the opposite sex can choose to behave heterosexually and marry the opposite gender. They haven’t been “cured” of homosexuality, however, they have simply chosen to marry and behave externally in a specific way, and to ignore same-gender attraction. Someone like me, however, cannot do that- the idea is repugnant to me (as repugnant as same-gender relationships would be to someone on the far right of the spectrum). For me to choose to marry a man would be a great dishonesty and a terrible experience (imagine marrying someone you are not truly capable of loving in that way, and sharing yourself physically with someone you are not capable of feeling attraction for). It would be unfair to that man, and to me.

    I’ve spoken with people a great deal because this is an area of great personal concern, and in my entire life, I’ve never encountered someone who believed their sexual orientation (though Peter believes there is no such thing- I’m going to use the term loosely) was fluid. I’ve met people who say they are bi-sexual and have had periods of their lives in which they felt more attracted to men and periods in which they felt more attracted to women- but the bi-sexuality was constant. Every single gay person I have ever spoken to, who identifies themselves as attracted solely to the same gender, has said they knew this around the time they went through puberty and that it has been constant, despite their best efforts to ignore it or change.

    There are also gay people for whom the stigma, the rejection and exclusion, the lack of legal recognition of family, the pain, and the cognitive dissonance as a result of religious teachings, are too great- and they have chosen to marry someone of the opposite gender despite the fact that they are unable to feel attraction or romantic feelings for them. They have chosen to do this and built a relationship around very deep friendship love, and I cannot judge them, although I can tell you that was never a choice I was willing to make. I would choose celibacy (to be alone and never have a spouse) before I would choose to do that. For me personally, that would not be an acceptable option.

    I have studiously avoided discussing the six Bible verses in contention here, choosing instead to speak about personal experience. Remember that the Bible is full of personal experience narratives, and that the Holy Spirit still speaks to people today. Please don’t immediately discount the personal experiences of people like me- everything I have written to you here is from a place of complete honesty.

    In Peace and with the love of our Lord,

    Rebecca

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Rebecca

    Thanks for that. A few points:

    (1) Lesbians cannot contract STIs with one another because they cannot have sex (or even insertive quasi-sex) by definition.

    (2) Twice you say you will dwell on experience rather than on scholarly analysis. Since when has this been an either/or? You probably know as well as I do that this is not an either/or situation at all. This is precisely what I was talking about – one so often gets people saying ‘putting scholarly analysis to one side’ and we just yawn and say ‘Yeah, I know why you said that, and your sidestepping it does not reflect well on your honesty’.
    I’m speaking as someone who does not even remotely believe that things are true because ‘the BIble’ says them. I am just wanting people to be honest that in their heart of hearts they know very well that the New Testament (and the Old for that matter) is uniformly strongly negative against such acts in the same way as it is against lying, stealing, killing, adultery, etc.. The cultural specifics will always be different in different times and places. They will be different for lying and stealing etc as well. But the core is the same.

    (3) On other mammals, bear in mind that we know about morality whereas they generally do not, we are not creatures of instinct whereas they are. So we copy them, and they are our role models? If a teacher says that a pupil is behaving like an animal or taking his/her cue from animals, that’s not a compliment.
    What you don’t say: Anal intercourse is very rare among mammals (giraffes are an example). Preferring same sex to other sex when both are available is also rare. (Remember the not-so-’gay’ zoo penguins?) Bonding (and nurture) are not the same as sex (cf. emperor penguins). If they were, every guy who enjoyed time with his mates down the pub would be homosexual!! Some animals when on heat (dogs) do not care about the gender of the ‘other’ – even if the gender is ‘table-leg’. So the issue there is clearly not homo-/hetero- orientation at all, simply the physical need of the animal and its need for an object.

    (4) We need to define what we mean by ‘love’. You’re clearly not buying into the idea that one can love only one individual. We all love our mums, daughters etc.. The kind of love you speak of is desire coupled with a degree of need, perhaps – nothing wrong with that. But there’s no guarantee that a need will be a healthy or mature need. Your experience of same-gender crushes in early secondary years is very common. So why should not the analysis be that others matured out of this and you have so far not done so and that there comes an age where it becomes difficult to do so?

    (5) On promiscuity what you say is strongly inaccurate because you stick to a vague statement of a theory. Who needs theory when we have actual facts and statistics? The studies of Bell/Weinberg (1978), Kaslow (1987), Lever (1994), and den Ven et al. (1997), Mercer (2009) and the American Center for Disease Control (2011-) show that men who have sex with men on average have far, far more ‘sexual’ partners than the average. This avoidance of the actual scientific studies in favour of vague generalisations and anecdotal experience about one’s own life (which can only cover a minuscule and less representative sample of people that one knows) is something one finds time and again, and it is what will prevent people taking what you say seriously. This is easily remedied. Only analyse the studies up-front, then everyone will engage in debate with you.

    Very best wishes. I am glad you are up for debating (unlike so many who shy away at precisely the point when the facts seem to be turning against them).

    Chris.

  • Guest

    I’m not sure if you saw my comment above. I wanted to reply
    to yourself and James but didn’t know how to.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Hi,
    Yes, I saw and ‘liked’ it. I hope that my bit on the polarization of views indicates that I concur.

  • Christopher Shell

    ‘Modern psychology’ does not even remotely demonstrate that people are born gay. In fact, all sorts of things (evidence for fluidity of sexuality; different rates of it in different cultures; identical twin statistics; no-one having sexual memories before about the age of 8 anyway; vastly greater rates of abuse when young among those now identifying as homosexual) militate against such a view.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Chris,

    I don’t have time to fully frisk all of your arguments. I’ll stick with point 1 : “Lesbians cannot contract STIs with one another because they cannot have sex (or even insertive quasi-sex) by definition”

    Really? I didn’t realise we can’t have sex ( oh never mind I don’t want this discussion to get embroiled down in the love life of a lesbian). But if lesbians cannot have sex and if the bible apparently condemns gay sex as a sin & not the orientation, I guess that makes being lesbians OK then as there isn’t any sin going on, as we are unable to have the sex that causes the sin in the first place. It is true that Leviticus apparently condemns male gay sex and not lesbian sex, so that would be a literal view of the text (although there are cultural and historical reasons, so I’m told, for not taking those verses to condemn male gay sex either). So I like the logic. Cool!

    Also, you doubtless already know that STD’s are rampant among heterosexual people as is promiscuity. What needs to be encouraged and taught is that committed relationships between 2 people, gay or straight is what is best for society; if we call this marriage and it is done via the state, then so be it, I’m happy for religions to decide for themselves who they do and do no wan to marry. Perhaps then, this would cut down promiscuity for all sexualities.

  • Rebecca

    Hannah, thank you for this comment. :)

  • Rebecca

    Chris,

    Thank you for your reply, and intelligent discussion. I only have a moment to respond here, so can’t do anything more than what I did above- stream of consciousness- but I would like to respond to something generally, and then a few things specifically.

    Generally, most of what you’ve written above “misses the forest for the trees”, as is the problem with most arguments against same-gender relationships and same-gender marriage. These arguments focus on an external sex act, rather than what is truly at issue, which is human love for another. It isolates an external act from what clearly matters- the internal heart and motivation of the individual. I am quite sure that you wouldn’t argue that an external sex act is what matters between married couples- that is a secondary result of their love for (romantic attraction and emotional love for) one another. To decontextualize the place of physical relations to another human from the relationship itself more closely approximates our discussions of lust- a purely physical behavior, devoid of the context of mutual love and fidelity, and it ignores what is at issue, which is someone’s internal (innate and unchosen) attraction to another human being. As I wrote somewhere in an earlier post, you cannot simply isolate an external behavior and judge that behavior unilaterally without examining the heart and motivation of the person executing the behavior, because to do so will cause you to misdiagnose the behavior. (In my personal opinion, I believe this is why we are warned not to judge others over and over and over again- because only God is capable of seeing the heart and motivation of our brother’s and sisters.) A good analogy is murder while defending yourself from lethal attack and murder because you want someone else’s money. The external act is murder- something clearly defined as sin by the Ten Commandments, but the heart and motivation of the person committing the external act matter significantly in evaluating the act itself. That is why, although people object to the term “orientation”, I feel that it is a valuable label. That term, along with “sexuality” does not refer to an isolated external act, but to the internal motivation of the individual (i.e. one can be homosexually oriented but never engage in an external sex act).

    Specifically:

    1) I hesitate to respond to this because it accomplishes the above. However, I said the above tongue-in-cheek because of all groups of people (both heterosexual and homosexual) lesbians are the least promiscuous and the least likely to transmit STDs. I made the comment because of the focus on sexual behaviors that are non-hetero-normative and the description of these behaviors as “harmful”.

    2) I wrote from personal experience and not scholarly research because personal experience is what I can offer to this conversation that scholarly research cannot. There is plenty of scholarly research above in Vicky’s list of books, and a host of others I could suggest. I am not setting aside research.

    I agree with you that the authors of the Old and New Testaments spoke uniformly negatively about some same-gender behaviors they witnessed and believed were negative. All are clearly negative about male-male sex acts, with the exception of Romans, the one verse that mentions female-female sex acts in any context. However, the same principal is true now that was true when those verses were written: the sex act cannot be isolated from the people committing the act, their hearts and motivations. The Bible never mentions loving same-gender relationships- those motivated by love. It does however, describe some of the motivations of the people committing those acts, either by context or by directly describing them as “passions” (uncontrolled lust). I believe that all of us here agree that a committed union between two people is not synonymous with lustful behavior.

    3) I agree with you. We are not animals. I mentioned that to point out the fact that the “unnatural” argument is ridiculous. (Unless you meant to discuss what Paul likely meant in his day, which was more along the lines of “that which is unexpected, unusual, not ordinary”). In that context, homosexuality is indeed unusual for most people, as we seem to be a constant minority in any population.

    I’m not going to respond to anal intercourse in mammals. I’m not talking about anal intercourse. I am talking about the full spectrum of sexual behaviors in animals, including grooming and bonding behaviors. And I must disagree with you. As in animal species, the majority of the external behaviors that two people in love with each other engage in have nothing to do with the sex act. Kissing, for example, is something that people do when they are in couples- and we would clearly consider a man kissing a man to be a homosexual act, but it has nothing to do with penetrative sex and everything to do with the internal motivation of the individual.

    To make the argument that it is “unnatural” when it is part of the natural world everywhere is absurd. It is also inconsistent with the experiences of people like me. Most of this point dealt with the externalized sex act and “physical need”, which again, misses the forest for the trees by neglecting to examine the true issue at hand- sexuality and orientation are not the same as an external sex act.

    4) “But there’s no guarantee that a need will be a healthy or mature need. Your experience of same-gender crushes in early secondary years is very common. So why should not the analysis be that others matured out of this and you have so far not done so and that there comes an age where it becomes difficult to do so?”

    I would venture to say that many, many heterosexual couplings (and homosexual couplings) and marriages are not based upon healthy or mature need. I believe that they should be, however. And the need to love and be loved by one other in committed union is a need that I have, and that I share with everyone two whom I’ve ever spoken. I’ve met one individual who said that they wanted to live a celibate and un-wed life forever. But that was one individual across my entire lifespan. Most people desire to have a spouse and have that kind of love in their lives. In fact, most people marry again even if the first (or second) marriages fail. It seems to be a fairly consistent and persistent need for people.

    To same-gender crushes being common, I agree, but this seems to be a case of our looking at two different objects behind hidden screens (mine is an orange and yours is a banana), talking about those objects as if they are the same, but accomplishing no true communication. I had non-adult crushes on boys before I went through puberty (people usually call these kinds of things puppy love) but that stopped when I matured. I believe the same is true for most people. As to growing out of it, I most certainly haven’t. And none of my heterosexual friends have grown out of their heterosexual sexuality. But I believe that is probably because we’re talking about internal orientation, not an external behavior that one can simply “choose” to grow or mature out of. As to that being difficult at a given point, that may be true- I’ve given that one some thought. After having spoken at length with some people who are truly bisexual, however, I decided that I don’t think it would be- they say that falling in love with someone is about the individual, and because they are capable of being attracted to either gender, they simply fall in love with the person- not the gender. Personally, I wouldn’t know. I’ve never experienced that.

    5) Promiscuity. Sigh. There is so much I could say about this. Among them, the fact that society and the church deny to homosexuals all of the stabilizing elements, and actually DISCOURAGE relationships and recognition of love between people. That might contribute to male promiscuity (it’s hard to believe that it wouldn’t.) When all of the ENCOURAGEMENT to get married and be faithful that heterosexual people experience is missing, what happens?

    It is males who are more promiscuous, in general. That isn’t particularly surprising, given that men, as a whole, are much more sexually driven than women (a look down the “porn” isle at any seedy video store will show you rows and rows of stuff marketed primarily to men). It may also be because women tend to be nest-makers and more emotionally driven (a favorite joke of mine is “what does a lesbian bring on the first date? A U-haul.)

    What we SHOULD be doing, as someone mentioned above, is teaching and encouraging ALL people, no matter their gender or sexuality, to live lives that are motivated by love for others and by restraint, so that they seek out, and are committed to, long-term relationships.

    My comment was not theory. I have a partner of 15 years. My colleague and his partner have been together for 21 years. I don’t know very many gay people, but all of the couples I have known are stable and long-term. Real experience is not theory.

    Very best wishes to you, as well. I don’t mind engaging in dialogue or debate at all, as long as it is mutually respectful between people.

  • Save the trees

    Well done Vicky! Finally something I like to hear! Don’t worry about the haters and the people who are just looking to pick at your viewpoint. They are only fighting as losing battle and they will be looked at in history as were the people who disagreed with segregation and abolishing slavery as people who manipulated the bible and cherry picked so it would agree with them.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks! Your reply was good as well! (:

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Hannah

    It’s a basic rule of debate that one does not put words in another person’s mouth. Please quote what I have actually said.

    Secondly, the thing you supposed I said is actually something I do not believe at all, which makes your supposition even more irresponsible.

    On STDs and promiscuity, can you please address the point I made, which was that (according to the studies I cited – in fact, according to all the several studies known to me) they are several *times* higher (we are talking multiplication not addition here) among men who have sex with men. I am well aware that most times one makes this point, people change the subject. I know exactly why they change the subject, and the good things about threads like this is that one can easily scroll back and see who has avoided questions and who has addressed them.

    There is no need to make plans that will ‘perhaps’ cut down promiscuity, since many societies at many points in history have cut down promiscuity quite nicely, and they weren’t all shoving everyone off to monasteries. So what one needs to do is replicate the conditions in question. Well within living memory, the figures in our own country, the UK, were astronomically better, and people claimed to be happier as well. (Not surprising in an age when their families were so much more likely to be intact and when they were much more likely to be part of a supportive church community and therefore know more people and have more friends.) So we don’t need to theorise about it – the facts are already there.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Rebecca

    There’s never any need to rush your reply. In a sense it could be better to wait, if it means more points get addressed. There’s no deadline.

    On your general point, you are fairly clearly wrong. External sex acts and love are not alternatives! – as though one was only allowed to consider one or the other (‘answer only one of the above’). They are both important topics, so it is imperative that each one individually is treated with the attention it requires.

    Supposing you were at a job interview – or in a conversation with a friend – and you were asked a question. Can’t you see how inadequate (and questionably honest) it would be to say ‘Well, I know you asked question A, but the question I prefer to address is question B’. They will immediately (if you’re not careful) pigeon-hole you, whether accurately or inaccurately, as someone who avoids the awkward questions, and steers conversations to cosier territory. But if your theory cannot cope with the awkward questions, then your theory falls flat. The correct theory is always going to be the one that can address all questions fired at it. That is why I always commit to answer directly any questions put to me. If I fail to live up to that, please point this out and I will respond. I also (not unnaturally, and not unfairly) expect the same from those with whom I am talking.

    If particular sexual or quasi-sexual acts have a record of causing disease, we should absolutely be talking about them in a big way.

    I agree that the external and internal are related. If the external is high-risk, as in this case (on average), then no way can the internal be motivated by love.

    (1) Can you suggest a reason why the vast majority of societies have not needed such cumbersome expressions as ‘non-hetero-normative’, and why those societies who do use such expressions are invariably part of the ‘sexual revolution’ post-1960s which has broken up so many families and deprived so many children of dads?

    (2) You say the Bible never mentions loving same-gender relationships. No statement could be more incorrect. It does so all the time throughout both Testaments. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, Paul and Timothy, Peter and John….
    What is my point? That the way you are using the word ‘relationships’ is deplorably inaccurate. You clearly don’t think all ‘relationships’ are sexual or quasi-sexual, so why use the word ‘relationship’ in such a way?
    Add more-than-averagely-medically-dangerous sexual practices without biological raison d’etre to any of the above relationships, and would they have been better or worse?
    Jesus lays down principles that rule out such things. ‘From the beginning God made them male and female’ (Mark 10.6-8) is a saying that is actually not directly relevant (and, further, would not have been denied by anyone), yet Jesus believes it so strongly, and so strongly feels it needs to be said, that he says it both in a context where it is not directly relevant and even when it would not have been denied by anyone. Why? Because of the logic of ‘one flesh’. Male-female complementarity is not just a theory but is proven a trillion times by the process of sex and reproduction (and here we are talking actual sexual intercourse only: no imitations seem to work). Such things are obvious to the most amateur biologist.

    (3) You’re correct that I used the word ‘natural’ loosely. It has two very common meanings. One: ‘natural and healthy’; two: ‘natural in the sense that it is found within nature’. The two are (you’ll agree) quite different. Trillions of things are found in nature – it is harder to find things that are not. Of those things found in nature, some are beneficial and some are harmful, Selfishness, for example, is everywhere in nature, and tends to be harmful not beneficial. So fact that something is found within nature says ab-so-lutely nothing about whether that thing is beneficial or harmful. That needs to be determined on other grounds – hence my emphasis on statistics.

    (4) The kind of love you are talking about is no revelation to anyone: we all already know it is possible to love various peopole strongly. The only way one can have an exclusive love is if one promises never to love anyone else. Which is a jolly bad idea. Therefore marriage is not about exclusive love (after all, Christians are supposed to love everyone). It is certainly about exclusive sex, since anything else is utterly hurtful and destroys the central one-flesh bond. Unless one can mention even one way in which two (or more) people of the same gender can actually have biologically unitive sex (as opposed to engaging in (a) medically harmful acts, (b) acts so unnatural that they cannot be undertaken without contraception and therefore would have been impossible to undertake healthily for 99% of human history, and/or (c) acts with no biological raison d’etre) then there can be no comparison with married couples.

    (5) Males are more promiscuous, yes, although they cannot compete with the rate that pairs of women get through one-to-one exclusive ‘relationships’. The teaching you suggest will not work – it has been tried repeatedly since the rather fateful 1960s. People will follow their animal instincts if allowed to do so. The only way is a society that exalts beneficial habit above instinct, and does not allow occasions for impurity. Such societies are very frequent in history and many of them are still around today. They tend to be the higher-achieving, and the happier, certainly the more stable.

    I am soooo disappointed that you have not yet addressed the vastly different rates of promiscuity between men who have sex with men, lesbians, and the rest. There is a whole history of people simply avoiding this inconvenient point.

    Thanks for writing at length. What I have not addressed, please highlight.

    Thanks – Chris.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Chris,

    I didn’t put any words into your mouth. I quoted you word for word and then followed the logic of what you were saying, however absurd it may sound.

    As for STD’s as an example of homosexuality as ‘being harmful’, I think Rebecca above has gone into a lot detail about this, so I can only add a small amount here.

    The problem is that you are ignoring the fact that being gay or having gay sex, doesn’t automatically mean you are going to get an STD, because heterosexuals can get them as well. Why do both groups get them? Because of the way sex is advertised & the lack of ideals about how relationships- gay or straight- should work in society; plus the fact it would seem people didn’t listen or pay attention to sex -ed classes in schools or perhaps because we are British we find it difficult to be open about these matters.

    To me, relationships are more than just a sex act, but are also about companionship, love and being soul mates, for the long term. The love making is a expression of all of this between you and that person & not just some kind of stimulus or drug.

    I would also suggest that the the generally negative treatment toward gay people in the past, has led many to go off the rails, into promiscuity, drug use and sadly sometimes suicide. That is where the problem lies. The solution ? Treat gay people as part of the wider community, include them and help them realise that society has no issue with their sexuality and that can expressed in a loving relationship and you will find STD’s among gay people dropping, although this has I believe been going on for many years now since the social stigma in wider society of being gay has decreased.

    To conclude my thoughts, to say that homosexuality is in itself ‘harmful’ is utter rubbish. What is harmful is how the sex act is treated and seen in current society. That is a heterosexual problem as much as a gay one.

  • John Pike

    The comments that Vicky has already received on this latest post demonstrate why she was wise not to attempt a verse-by-verse analysis in a blog. Besides, one’s attitude to this issue should be based on the whole Bible, and not just the 6 verses commonly cited.
    I am married and heterosexual and I have long been troubled by the way LGBT people have been treated by the church and I have already read many of the books Vicky recommends, and plenty of others. There are two that I feel should be included in any reading list, even though they are not by evangelicals: Bernadette J. Brooten, “Love Between Women”, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1996, ISBN 0-226-07591-5, and Martti Nissinen, (trans. Kirsi Sjerna), “Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective”, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1998, ISBN: 0-8006-3645-7. Brooten is a lesbian and both these authors take a revisionist view of the issue. Nevertheless, their scholarship has been praised by Gagnon from the traditionalist side.

    Watching Matthew Vine’s short video demonstrated how dangerous it is to attempt to cover this issue in such a format and some of the things he says can be very easily criticised. For example, his mention of pederasty, with the suggestion that Paul was referring to such behaviour in Romans 1:26-27. Robin Scroggs’ suggestions about this have already been comprehensively and persuasively dismissed by Mark D. Smith, Brooten and others.
    Despite all this, I am a strong supporter of equal marriage and of loving same-sex relationships.
    Many thanks for your hard work in this area, Vicky, and best wishes for your book.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Hannah

    Yes, the part where you followed the logic (as you saw the logic) was the part where you did start putting words in my mouth.

    Being gay does not mean you will get an STD? Where on earth did I or anyone say it did mean that?
    (a) You have therefore committed the straw man fallacy here.
    (b) Are we therefore supposed to applaud because not every single person gets an STD? That would be setting the bar very low.

    Of course heterosexuals get them as well. Did you honestly think people were unaware of that? If not: straw man no.2
    The point is that they get them at much reduced rates by comparison with men who have sex with men. The percentages who get them are far lower. You are speaking in terms of 0% (you say: it’s not true that 0% of heterosexuals have STIs) and 100% (you say: it’s not true that 100% of homosexuals have STIs), which are precisely the two least relevant and least likely percentages. There is an entire world of percentages between 0 and 100. And the question therefore is: is the homosexuals-with-STIs percentage close to or far away from the heterosexuals-with-STIs percentage. You have therefore misstated the issue.
    And the discrepancy remains even when ‘heterosexual’ STDs have mushroomed in the present permissive society. Homosexual men *still* far outflank them in this regard.

    To you, relationships are more than a sex act.
    Straw man no.3. Is there anyone to whom this is not the case. Maybe there is. But on present evidence do I strike you as someone who does not believe that? How (as a straight down the line Christian) could I possibly?
    You also fail to realise that the term ‘relationships’ is very gvague. It makes all the difference in the world whether you are speaking about sexual or nonsexual relationships, and therefore you need to specify what you mean by the word. I have a ‘relationship’ of some sort with thousands of people, and probably so do you.

    You separate ‘relationships’ from sexual acts and thereby do the sleight of hand of practically refusing to discuss sexual acts altogether. They are, however, the topic for discussion that I raised. If you do not discuss them, you are not in that discussion, but are effectively saying, ‘I know you asked question A, but I will answer question B’. So people will think ‘Aha, suspicious – why did she avoid question A?’. I am committed to answering all questions and avoiding none. If you see me not addressing any, highlight them and I will address them specifically. The correct theory – the one that wins an argument – is the one that can cope with all questions.

    Finally, you can assert that drugs, depression and suicide are the result of sidelining by society, and you may be right and you may be wrong, and you may be partly right/wrong – but your words are worth nothing without evidential back-up. The most recent study of all suggest that relationship problems are the main cause. There being something intrinsically harmful about such behaviour could also be a cause, since if this were the case it could mess people up inside. But no theory on this is right unless backed up by statistics.

    All the very best

    Chris.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Chris,

    I’m busy tonight doing other stuff (gym and swim) and on other blogs. I will respond later tomorrow, if time permits; as of now I haven’t read your responses. If I can’t respond due to time, I will let you know.

    H (:

  • Rebecca

    Chris,

    I must disagree with you again. I believe that sex and love should never be separated, and that the former should always be motivated by the latter. It is when that is not true that the sex itself becomes something bad (as in the case of non-concentual sex, abuse, self-abuse (promiscuity), etc.) It is because these two constructs should not be separated, that to consider one without the other, in the case of loving and committed unions, is to arrive upon a fallacious conclusion about the nature of both.

    1) “I agree that the external and internal are related. If the external is high-risk, as in this case (on average), then no way can the internal be motivated by love.”

    That is an absurd statement. There selfless and loving sharing of bodies that is high-risk between heterosexual partners, regardless of whether they are married, or not, in many situations. I will name two that jump to mind: 1) When one partner carries a sexually transmitted disease, 2) If one partner has a heart condition that could result in stroke with increase in blood pressure. Both of these scenarios may occur in sexual contact between loving, monogamous heterosexual adults- but both carry “high risk” of negative consequences, despite the fact that both may be motivated by the same thing that should always motivate sexual behavior: love for one other.

    Second, lesbian sex is the “lowest risk”, in the sense you mean, of all sex. Literally, they are the category of people least likely to suffer negative effects. Your above statement applies primarily to heterosexual partners and male homosexual partners. And, as I’m sure you know, male sexual behavior is not limited to penetrative sex- there are many acts we would consider sexual that run the gamut of physical expression of love from one person to another that are in no way “high risk”, and even the penetrative sex act need not be “high risk” for either heterosexuals or homosexuals.

    The idea that if a sexual behavior is “high-risk”, it cannot be motivated by love, is fallacious.

    I had a friend who got to this point. He was so virulently against any consideration of same-gender relationships, that he got to the point of calling my relationship with my partner “the myth of homosexual love”. He got to the point at which he refused to acknowledge that what is between us emotionally is the same that is between he and his spouse- deep, abiding, “I-would-lay-down-my-life-for-her-without-thinking” LOVE. He was incapable of accepting that we love each other, and continually reduced the discussion to the external sex act.

    Your first statement sounds very much like that.

    2) “Can you suggest a reason why the vast majority of societies have not needed such cumbersome expressions as ‘non-hetero-normative’, and why those societies who do use such expressions are invariably part of the ‘sexual revolution’ post-1960s which has broken up so many families and deprived so many children of dads?”

    I’m sure they didn’t need, or use, those terms because the constructs were not at the forefront of public discourse. Most new terms that have been coined are a result of necessity. The same is true of the above. If you object to that term, I can say “anything that is beyond the expectations of the heterosexual majority”.

    I would agree with you that it is the sexual revolution (heterosexual) that has resulted in the breaking up of families (the heterosexual divorce rate is now over 50%) and “deprived children of dads”. In fact, there are cultural minorities in American for whom the “single mother” trend is alarmingly high, and the norm, rather than the exception. These are very sad situations, but they have nothing to do with my use of the term “non-hetero-normative”, or to do with homosexual people. We are, and always have been, a small minority. The majority have driven the divorce rate.

    I will say that within the homosexual minority, however, because this issue was not discussed and people were encouraged to conform and to hide, homosexual people in the past used to marry heterosexual partners at much higher rates- usually in an attempt to be “hetero-normative”. The web is full of stories of broken lives and broken homes when homosexual people who cannot change, eventually divorce their opposite-gender spouses. These, too, are very sad stories. Society would be much better served by encouraging people who identify as homosexual to be honest about themselves.

    (3) “You’re correct that I used the word ‘natural’ loosely. It has two very common meanings. One: ‘natural and healthy’; two: ‘natural in the sense that it is found within nature’. The two are (you’ll agree) quite different. Trillions of things are found in nature – it is harder to find things that are not. Of those things found in nature, some are beneficial and some are harmful, Selfishness, for example, is everywhere in nature, and tends to be harmful not beneficial. So fact that something is found within nature says ab-so-lutely nothing about whether that thing is beneficial or harmful. That needs to be determined on other grounds – hence my emphasis on statistics.”

    Chris, these are not the only two definitions of the word “natural”. In fact, the first you provide, is not at all a definition: healthy. Healthy is not even a synonym of the word “natural”. The two most common definitions are 1) “within the natural order of the world”, “part of nature”, and 2) “normal”, “usual”, “regular”. Homosexuality is not “unnatural” as in not found in the natural order of the world, although it is not what is normal, usual, or regular for heterosexual people who do not possess a proclivity to romantic love with the same gender.

    I agree with you that finding something in nature does not provide commentary on its worthiness, or benefit. I provided that analogy only to show that homosexuality is not “against the natural order of the world”. It is BECAUSE we, as human beings and Christians, limit our sexual behaviors to those expressed in committed love, rather than running around behaving with pure instinct that we behave differently from animals, although the biological urges are the same.

    I appreciate your emphasis on statistics regarding promiscuity and the inherent risks therein, but I responded to those in my previous post. They apply primarily to heterosexual men and homosexual men, the two groups who are statistically most promiscuous, and I additionally posited that a likely reason homosexual men are, on average, more promiscuous is (1) because they are men, and men tend to be more sexually driven than women and (2) because all of the commitment-affirming parts of society (marriage, family, approval of family, approval of church, approval of society) are withheld from them. These two factors contribute greatly to promiscuous behavior, which frankly, has nothing whatsoever to do with homosexuality, and everything to do with the individual and their choices.

    4) “The kind of love you are talking about is no revelation to anyone: we all already know it is possible to love various peopole strongly. The only way one can have an exclusive love is if one promises never to love anyone else. Which is a jolly bad idea. Therefore marriage is not about exclusive love (after all, Christians are supposed to love everyone). It is certainly about exclusive sex, since anything else is utterly hurtful and destroys the central one-flesh bond.

    I must disagree with you. Marriage is about exclusive love (a special kind of love that you withhold from others and share only with one person, not the general love you feel for all people, or that you feel for your parents, etc.) and exclusive sex. But marriage is not solely about sex, and it is not solely about love. It is about both.

    “Unless one can mention even one way in which two (or more) people of the same gender can actually have biologically unitive sex (as opposed to engaging in (a) medically harmful acts, (b) acts so unnatural that they cannot be undertaken without contraception and therefore would have been impossible to undertake healthily for 99% of human history, and/or (c) acts with no biological raison d’etre) then there can be no comparison with married couples.

    Chris, this is ridiculous. Sexual love between two people is not limited to what you are suggesting- penetrative “biologically unitive” sex. I have a good friend whose uterus and cervix are misplaced because of a congenital birth defect. It is incredibly difficult (and painful for her) for she and her husband to have “biologically unitive” sex. They did that to attempt to get pregnant, but the rest of their sexual activities exclude that particular sex act. They love each other, they share their bodies in a sexual way, but their sharing is not “biologically unitive” any more than mine is with my partner. It is, however, emotionally and physically unitive, and it is those things that provide the loving foundation for any relationship. Limiting the discussion to penetrative sex is ridiculous. I have never spoken to anyone who suggested that the sole sexual contact they had was penetrative sex.

    To continue with the above:

    (a) I’ve already addressed this.

    (b) “acts so unnatural that they cannot be undertaken without contraception” – what???? I must assume that you are again focused on male homosexual penetrative sex (and have again reduced the real issue- how people love one another- to nothing but an external sex act, again dehumanizing your subjects and distracting from the larger issue). I hate to burst your bubble here, but male homosexual penetrative sex CAN happen safely without contraception. It depends upon the individuals and the circumstances, as it does with heterosexuals. (I’m sure you can’t be unaware that heterosexual partners engage in anal sex as well, and that they do not use contraception).

    © “acts with no biological raison d’être”. Chris, the overwhelming evidence from all areas of human study- biological, chromosomal, genetic, epigenetic, hormonal, pre-natal, psychological, neurological . . . points to a very physical (biological) basis for homosexuality. Although there has not yet been one single “magic bullet” (and there isn’t likely to be- the issue is complex, and likely an interaction of multiple influences) taken together, the evidence is extremely persuasive. I don’t need to read all of it (though I keep an eye on it from time to time) to know what my common-sense and real-life experiences have shown me: no one chooses this, it emerges early in life, it is stable and persistent for a minority of the population, and there are often physical differences, as well. I encourage you to look up CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia) as just one instance of the vast biological possibilities among people.

    5) “People will follow their animal instincts if allowed to do so. The only way is a society that exalts beneficial habit above instinct, and does not allow occasions for impurity. Such societies are very frequent in history and many of them are still around today. They tend to be the higher-achieving, and the happier, certainly the more stable.”

    Chris! I agree with you wholeheartedly. I agree with everything you have written above. We should definitely exalt beneficial habitat above instinct and restrict impurity. I believe we will all benefit if heterosexual marriages can begin to again strive for that, and if homosexual people will be encouraged to marry and live in committed union. I, for one, know what it is to be in a long-term, loving relationship, and there is truly nothing more beautiful. I could not be more thankful for the love that is in my life.

    (6) I am soooo disappointed that you have not yet addressed the vastly different rates of promiscuity between men who have sex with men, lesbians, and the rest. There is a whole history of people simply avoiding this inconvenient point.

    I haven’t avoided this point at all. I’ve discussed it at some length. I’m not an expert in these statistics, but I don’t have to be an expert to discuss what my real-life and common sense suggest. Please go back and read some of what I have written about promiscuity. And please respond to it. In brief again:

    (a) women are least likely to behave promiscuously

    (b) men are more promiscuous than women

    © homosexual men are more promiscuous than homosexual women

    (d) all people are less likely to be promiscuous if society, the church, and their families encourage stable, long-term commitment and celebrate their relationships

    The above issue has to do with a behavior (promiscuity), not with homosexuality. Please understand that the two are not synonymous.

    Thank you again, for reasoned dialogue. I appreciate the conversation.

    Rebecca

  • Rebecca

    PS – Let’s get ourselves back on track and discuss homosexuality, or a person’s internal orientation towards one gender or another, not the external penetrative sex act. We have begun to stare at the bark of a tree rather than seeing the vastness of the forest.

  • Rebecca

    Hannah, I agree.

  • Rebecca

    Chris,

    Please be careful. Be very, very careful. I hope there are no young and impressionable gay teenagers reading this. The evidence regarding what drives gay teen suicide is EXTREMELY clear. You may find these statistics many, many places on the web- run a Google search. It is clear that what drives self-damaging behaviors (drugs, alcohol, self-abuse sexually, and suicide) is the larger societal and religious stigma that young people (who did not choose this and do not wish to be this) suffer.

    I will tell you some of my personal experience: my father told me that God destroyed Sodom for this, and that he would never come to my home again. He made good on that for years. He let my birthday go by without acknowledging it. My mother told me Satan had me, and that I would go to hell. I wrote a letter to seven different churches seeking a place I could go with my partner- we were rejected by seven churches. I stopped going to church. Our families barred us from holidays for thirteen years. I had to hide from my colleagues for fear I would lose my job. My partner’s sister kept her children away from us. She wouldn’t see us. Her family shut her out completely. The year I moved, I watched large pockets of the nation mobilize to put into place bans so that I could never legally tie my life to my partner. I had to go to my grandfather’s funeral, my grandmother’s funeral, and my brother’s wedding alone- because my partner was not welcome. I stood alone while everyone else stood with the person they love most. I had to listen to language like “recruiting your children” and “destroying the pillars of society” and “perverted” about people like ME. I wept. I hated myself. I wanted to die at times. I thought about suicide. I lost everything by just being honest about something I can’t change and didn’t choose. t didn’t believe it would ever get any better.

    If you bothered to read that paragraph at all, you may have a tiny, tiny impression of what it is like to grow up gay in a Christian home and an unsupportive society. It tears you down inside- you can’t help but hear the nastiness and feel it. We’re human. We feel it.

    That, my friend, does not need statistical backing. The statistics are there. But please just put yourself in our shoes for a moment, and you won’t need them.

    Rebecca

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks !

    Btw – I can identify with your earlier remarks about hurt with family members as whilst my family have been very supportive, my girlfriend’s family, who are Ultra Orthodox or Haredi, have shunned and cut her off, since she said she was gay and was with me. We’ve had a few tears over that.

  • David George

    Don’t be so silly, Guest. You are obviously American as you don’t ‘get’ irony. I was not mocking gay people, but laughing at the demands of Peter Ould for Vicky to debate with him.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    OK read what you had to say. Hmmm, what did Disraeli say about statistics? It seems we have straw men flying all over the place, Note I never said no gay people get STD’s, I simply noted that this is true of straight people as well. Therefore the claim that being gay is harmful because some gay people get STD’s is as stupid as saying being heterosexual is harmful because some heterosexuals get STD’s Paragraphs 4 and 5 are gibberish to me, in that I just cannot make sense of them, I cannot grasp what your argument is at all, so I can’t respond to it. What are you on about? I can’t tell. What questions do you want to know? As for the bit about suicide, take note of what Rebecca has written below. It is worth reading in full.

  • http://www.exclusivechurch.com/ Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente

    I guess that’s why we’ve had a prayer for those ‘past the age of child-bearing’ in the Prayer Book since the sixteenth century.

  • Rebecca

    PS – In addition to everything I’ve written about the painful and difficult aspects of ostracism and condemnation from family, church and society that gay people experience (which are the primary cause of depression and suicide among gay teenagers), and the LACK of celebration and support of love and relationship, it would be silly to suppose that there is no inter-relationship impact of these things on gay couples. My partner and I have often commented that it is a miracle that we have managed to weather not only all of that, but the usual relationship difficulties that any couple experiences- particularly given that we have NO family support, and that both families actively wish (and worked for 15 years) to see us separate. We cling to each other, but have shed more tears and experienced more heartache than you could possibly imagine.

    You don’t need statistics to understand the above- only open ears (talk to anyone who grew up gay and Christian) and empathy.

  • Rebecca

    David,

    How do you reconcile the existence of inter-sexual people (those who are neither clearly male nor female, but some combination of both, either by chromosome, external genitalia, or other) with your line of argumentation above (and in other writing), which seems to presume a clear juxtaposition of male and female? Forgive me if you’ve addressed this before- I haven’t come across it.

    Rebecca

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Rebecca,

    This is a good thoughtful question.

    First, let’s be clear that with respect to inter-sex, we are talking about a very small minority of people (less than 1 per cent of live births). We are not talking about a discord between an unambiguous physical gender and how a person might self-identify otherwise.

    If we can permit the surgical removal of a person’s sexual characteristics to agree with their psychological gender, it’s not necessarily unethical for inter-sex individuals to undergo gender assignment and marry a person of opposite gender.

    The issue is that the classification of common characteristics is a necessity of all laws. including marriage. As it was until last year in civil law, the scriptural prohibitions only apply to the prima facie evidence of gender. What person cannot do is to rely on a few instances of indeterminate sex as licence for same-sex couples to treat as irrelevant the gender requirement in marriage.

    Nevertheless, Christ’s statement about ‘eunuchs from birth’ in Matt. 19:12 also identifies that for those born with indeterminate sex, celibacy is another valid option.

    In response to his unyielding stance that the marital bond was well-nigh irreversible in the sight of God, the apostles declared: ‘“If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matt. 19:10)

    ‘Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 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.” (Matt. 19:11.12)

    What is clear is that, in the apostles thinking, celibacy was a better option than finding oneself unable to opt out of a very difficult marriage that could only be ended by proof of sexual immorality.

    Whatever our pre-dispositions are, celibacy is a valid pre-emptive option for those who could not fulfill God’s irreversible expectations of marriage.

    In today’s thinking, we have abandoned the idea of choosing celibacy as a pre-emptive option for those who cannot fulfill God’s high and irreversible expectations of marriage. Yet, according to Christ, celibacy can be a choice for conforming one’s life to Kingdom of God, rather than worldly standards.
    .

  • Guest

    Stephanie, you still haven’t given the Bible verse that supports female athletes. I believe in loving ALL people. Along with that, I believe in the Bible and everything it says. There are no biblical examples of female athletes. If God approved of it, there would be some mention of it in the Bible. Since it only speaks of female home-making and being a wife, I have no choice but to stand on that. when you can give me a clear example, only then, will I agree with you. Until then, I stand on the word of God. I pray you will too.

  • Guest

    David, please see what I wrote above in response to Stephanie’s comment.

    “Stephanie, you still haven’t given the Bible verse that supports female athletes. I believe in loving ALL people. Along with that, I believe in the Bible and everything it says. There are no biblical examples of female athletes. If God approved of it, there would be some mention of it in the Bible. Since it only speaks of female home-making and being a wife, I have no choice but to stand on that. when you can give me a clear example, only then, will I agree with you. Until then, I stand on the word of God. I pray you will too.”

  • Guest

    David,

    That just made me laugh out loud.

    “He deduced literally from the ancient Genesis explanation of how sexual differentiation was meant to effect permanent sexual union in marriage as designed by God.”

    Your suggestion of what Christ deduced, based not upon what He said, but upon your belief of what motivated his words, is insupportable. You cannot tell us what Christ deduced, because He himself did not tell us.

    In addition, neither of the two original humans were inter-sexual. It is not mentioned in the Genesis account. It was not so from the beginning. But because it is not mentioned, and was not so from the beginning, does not mean that it is morally evil today.

    Your line of argumentation applied to this issue would go as follows: (a) because neither the Genesis account, the Biblical authors, or Christ is recorded has having addressed this issue, inter-sexual people who marry a person whose gender does not “in complementary fashion” match their external genitalia is wrong; (b) because the Genesis account speaks favorably of procreation, an intersexual person who marries (and is infertile) is wrong.

    If I’m incorrect about your reasoning here, please correct me.

    Beyond what I’ve written, I believe the spirit of the law and not the letter, the “weightier matters of the law”, call us to do better than applying a literalistic view to this topic.

  • Guest

    I am positive that they do not wish to debate with you, but discuss with you. I am equally positive that labeling their arguments each time, rather than engaging with them, serves no purpose but to decrease receptivity of anything you write.

  • Guest

    You’re probably right. You’re so right that’s why you had the courage to put your name to your comment.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Paragraphs 4 and 5 actually make a lot of sense.

    You said: ‘To me, relationships are more than just a sex act’ and then proceed only discuss relationships in terms of anything but the inordinately higher risk of infection that is routinely incurred by men who have sex with men.

    In fact, you then phrased your response: ‘The love making is a expression of all of this between you and that person & not just some kind of stimulus or drug.’

    This issue here is once you said ‘not just..’ (sex act or stimulus, you don’t engage with the fact that it is at least partially those things.

    Chris’s point about the higher incidence of STDs is about the proportion of risk incurred. Even the medical profession agree with this.

    In the face of this comparatively more reckless sexual behaviour and poorer mental health among LGBT people, you claim that the onus is upon the rest of society to cure this by ending all social stigma.

    Yet, why should we, when even preventative measures are not being adopted? Look at the Gay Men’s Sex Survey in which interviewees continue to report staggeringly higher levels of casual sex involving higher risk forms of unprotected intercourse than among straight people.

    There hasn’t been a massive uptake of civil partnerships since 2005, so your notion that gay suicide would be reduced by the provision of a ‘commitment device’ is groundless.

    Christians don’t have to berate people any more than Christ did the Rich Young Ruler, who was little more than a product of his upbringing. He asked a short straight question and got a short straight answer. The young man had to take as much responsibility for what he did with that answer as young people do today.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Rebecca,

    I’d be interested in your views regarding cases in which lesbian couples have gone to court relying on the two-parent family models and insisting that the continued involvement of the child’s biological father is an intrusion upon their family life.

    What’s your position on the rights of committed and responsible biological fathers in that situation?

    I’d also be interested in your explanation of the fairly low uptake of civil partnerships, given that it’s supposed provide the social affirmation that you claim is so sorely need by LGBT individuals.

  • Rebecca

    David,

    If you are asking about the rights of a “committed and responsible” biological father who wishes to retain those rights, and for whom the initial agreement was that they would be retained, I believe that should occur. In the circumstance I believe you are referring to above, the complexities are similar to complexities that arise when birth parents put their children up for adoption and have the option of either requesting contact and involvement (differing degrees of open adoption) or no contact and involvement (closed adoption). Because I am not familiar with the specific details of the case, I cannot comment further than that.

    That being said, I believe that the most important variable in the health and well-being of any child, is that the child is raised by loving parents. I feel no differently about a child that is conceived via in vitro fertilization techniques by a heterosexual couple, for whom one of the parents is not the child’s biological parent, than I do for a child conceived by the same means by a homosexual couple. In fact, I have friends who were unable to conceive because the husband was infertile, and they utilized a sperm sample and went through in vitro- that biological father will not have contact with the child.

    I live in the United States, and am unfamiliar with the “fairly low uptake of civil partnerships” in the UK. However, in the U.S., as individual states have overturned their bans on gay marriage, multiple hundreds of couples have rushed to courthouses to get legally married in the days before a higher court could stay the ruling for consideration on appeal. This has happened in every single state in which the ban was overturned.

    When DOMA was struck down by our Supreme Court in June of 2013, the Pew Research Center estimated that there were “at least” 71,165 gay marriages in the 9 states in which it was legal. That was before any of the rushes to marry that I reference above. The number is significantly higher now.

    To clarify, it’s not “social affirmation” that LGBT people sorely need. That would be nice, but in truth, it is cessation of exclusion and dehumanization that is sorely needed.

    I’m interested in your views regarding people who do not fit into a male-female paradigm, but whom we would not consider homosexual (i.e. persons who are inter-sexual in some way). How do you reconcile those persons with arguments against homosexual relationships and gay marriage?

  • Guest

    Do you have any idea why the debate has become so polarised?
    I would usually expect organisations with moderate views to have the highest profile, but as I said above, that’s doesn’t seem to be the case in this debate.

    The prominence of organisations like Anglican “Mainstream”
    on the “conservative” side totally puts many people off attending a
    “conservative” church. It would really help if reasonable “conservatives” stopped being blind to the homophobes on
    their “side” and dissociated from them much more clearly.

  • Shaun Purchase

    “So… WHAT DOES the Bible say about sexuality?”

    Here’s what the Bible has to say about same sex sexual relations:

    Lev. 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination…”

    Matt. 19:4-6 “He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    Rom. 1:26-28 “ For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

    1 Cor. 6:9,10 “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    1 Timothy 1 :9,10 “ We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine…”

    Wherever the Holy Bible speaks of same sex sexual relations, it is emphatically condemned. Any argument which says God condones same sex sexual relations is a denial of the authority and ‘God-breathed’ revelation of Scripture. Anyone who can argue that God in any way condones same sex sexual relations despite the categoric plain teaching of Scripture, will find a way of disputing any other clear teaching of Scripture if it didn’t agree with there desires.

  • Rebecca

    Shaun,

    Quoting scripture removed from its literary context (translations of scripture) will not be helpful here. Most readers (both Christian and non-Christian) are well-familiar with the existence of the above verses. It is not their existence about which we disagree, nor what they seem to say in a literal reading. It is the true meaning of these texts about which we disagree, as a result of scholarship that considers not only the original language in context, but the socio-historical and cultural contexts within which the original authors were writing. We believe these things matter a great deal in any consideration of what the authors intended to communicate. We then consider all of these things in a larger spiritual context, with the Gospel message and the doctrine of salvation by faith at the forefront of our minds. We carefully consider these things and disagree about what the Biblical authors intended to condemn.

    The biggest problem is that many of us believe that the Biblical authors did not intend to discuss two persons with an internal same-gender orientation who are attempting to live out the implications of that orientation with as much fidelity to their Christian faith, and as much love for another, as a person with an opposite-gender orientation. We believe that same-gender orientation itself is morally neutral, as is opposite-gender orientation, and that the internal motivation of the individual matters as much as the external action. As such, all opposite-gender sex acts are not “good” because they are opposite-gender acts. Heterosexual acts may be either morally good (within a mutually loving and committed union, motivated by love) or morally bad (outside of that context, motivated by pure physical desire (lust) or a desire to harm (rape). It is the context and the heart and motivation of the individuals that determine whether or not a sex act is beautiful, or ugly, not the gender of the individual. We believe the same is true of same-gender unions, and that same-gender sex acts may be either morally good, or morally bad, depending upon the context and the heart and motivation of the individual.

    Many people suggest that because the Biblical authors are seemingly silent about positive examples of same-gender committed relationships (we have no clear and obvious examples), they must have been entirely against all same-gender relationships, and that God must be, as well. There are many things about which the Bible is entirely silent, however, that are a very real and persistent part of our world today, and we do not consider those things inherently evil because they are not mentioned. The type of loving and committed same-gender relationships we see today (entered into by persons with exclusive same-gender orientation who are not otherwise heterosexually married) were not a part of the culture of the Biblical authors. Same-gender erotic (lustful) acts were common among surrounding cultures, usually committed by otherwise heterosexually married individuals, or as a part of cultic pagan worship, however. And although there is limited evidence that there may have been a few committed same-gender relationships in surrounding cultures during the time of the NT (I believe this point is in dispute by academic scholars), these were not a part of the culture of the NT Christian authors. Those of us who disagree with a literal and de-contextualized reading of the verses you quote above, believe that the Biblical authors were silent because these things were not a regular part of their culture.

    I read on this blog recently an argument that went something like: “If it were okay, the Biblical authors would certainly have said so.” I tend to take the opposite view: “If it were not okay, the Biblical authors would certainly have said so.” And yet, despite 6 verses that reference same-gender sexual behavior minus a context of love and commitment, none of them address what is at issue here: homosexual orientation and the implications of that orientation in a mutually loving and monogamous relationship. Because we believe that the heart, motivation and circumstances of any action must be part of the evaluation of that action, we believe that loving relationships are not what the Biblical authors intended to condemn.

    Others suggest (and you seem to, with the reference to Matthew 19:4-6) that because the two Genesis accounts mention only the original creation and opposite-gender union and procreation, and because Jesus is recorded as having referenced that account in response to religious scholars who asked him about the legality of divorce in their time and culture, that the Bible must be unequivocally against opposite-gender unions. This however, is an argument from a position of silence, and we believe that Jesus responded by referencing the Genesis accounts because He was speaking to disciples who asked specifically about divorce in their time. Additionally, we believe that there are many unions about which the Genesis account is silent (between infertile couples, between genetically inter-sexual couples who do not fit a male-female paradigm, between couples who are fertile but do not wish to conceive, and between persons to whom legal marriage is denied) but we do not believe that these unions are inherently evil because they are not mentioned in the Genesis account. From our perspective, the Genesis account’s primary purpose was to show God’s greatness in creation, to provide an account of the original people, and to describe how we, as a species, came to be on the earth. We believe that it was indeed God’s plan for those two people to go forth and populate the earth, but that that does not mean that any unions that will not, or do not result in children are inherently immoral as a result of the “go forth” command. And again, as in the above paragraph, though some say: “If it were okay, Jesus would certainly have said so!”, I tend to think: “If it were not okay, Jesus would certainly have said so!”

    Given the enormous issue that equal marriage is in our current culture, I believe that our omniscient and omnipotent God knew well that there would be people for whom this is an incredibly important issue. For those of us who are Christian and have always been, and who did not make an active choice about an internal orientation that God is not choosing to change, the question of whether or not the way we love another human being in committed union may be morally acceptable to God is an incredibly important issue. We are not running around in lustful abandon. We want to legally marry our spouses (many of us have been together for decades) and limit our romantic love to one person. I tend to believe that our omniscient God would certainly have directed the Biblical authors to speak to same-gender marriage and the love that motivates the desire to participate in said marriage, even if that love is misplaced, if He wished us to know that all such marriages are against His will.

    Instead, we have 6 verses that speak to same-gender sexual acts either directly described as lust (devoid of a context of love and commitment) or by implication (because of the surrounding description) described as outside of a committed union, or motivated by something negative. We believe the Biblical authors were correct in condemning these things that they saw, and we would condemn the same things (and the Biblical authors do) when committed by heterosexuals.

    In addition, our spiritual experiences and real-life encounters with God do not teach us that the way we love each other is wrong. Although many discount “real life” experiences, choosing instead to focus solely on scripture, we believe that the Holy Spirit continues to teach new things and to give us insight. Our encounters teach us that the Lord loves us as we are, where we are, and desires fidelity to the spirit of the law in addition to the letter. We believe that God does not demand that we change same-gender attractions, or marry opposite-gender partners simply to conform to the male-female model of marriage, or remain alone for life, in order to be Holy. We believe that He blesses our committed unions and walks with us, as well as with you.

    My brother, we disagree. But we are all Christians, and we all love the Lord. Given the enormous schism in the church and in society over this issue, true dialogue is much more helpful than quoting verses. In addition, empathy and a desire to truly understand the alternative perspective is needed on both sides.

    At the end of the day, we are brothers and sisters, and we love the same God. Love should be the litmus of all that we do.

    In peace,

    Rebecca

  • Shaun Purchase

    A considerable amount of intellectual gymnastics there Rebecca. No amount of ‘reason’ however can change the fact that God has shown to us through His word that He is vehemently against same sex sexual relations.

    “Quoting scripture removed from its literary context (translations of
    scripture) will not be helpful here.”
    Whatever version you read, there is absolutely no provision in Scripture for same sex sexual relations.

    “…as a result of scholarship…”

    Scholarship? A 5 year old child who accepts the teaching of the Holy Bible will know more of God than any ‘scholar’ who rejects it. For well over 3000 years, scholars of the Scriptures didn’t even hint that the Scriptures needed to be re-interpreted to accommodate homosexual behaviour. Fortunately, the overwhelming consensus of scholarly opinion today is in complete agreement with God.

    “It is the context and the heart and motivation of the individuals that
    determine whether or not a sex act is beautiful, or ugly, not the gender of the individual.”

    What makes you think that the heart and motivation of the individual(s) was anything different during the 1500 years when same sex activity was punishable by death (Lev. 20:13). Heart and motivation, however beautiful it may appear to those who reject God’s law, will not make it acceptable to God. Sexual preferences are determined by the individual and if those sexual preferences are wrong then help needs to be sought if the individual wants to be right with God. I’m firmly convinced that the Holy Spirit WILL help any individual to overcome as He has proved in many of cases where gays who have sought God’s
    help are now firmly and happily straight.

    “Many people suggest that because the Biblical authors are seemingly
    silent about positive examples of same-gender committed relationships (we have no clear and obvious examples), they must have been entirely against all same-gender relationships, and that God must be, as well.”

    There is no such thing as a positive example of a same-gender relationship. Show me where in the Scripture that God approves of same sex sexual activity. You can’t. Do you suppose God would hand down a capital offense without providing a circumstance, ie love & commitment, where the life of the accused could be saved. Sorry but you are deluding yourself. (I don’t believe gays should be put to death now, I’m talking about Judaic law ie before Christ).

    “The type of loving and committed same-gender relationships we
    see today (entered into by persons with exclusive same-gender orientation who are not otherwise heterosexually married) were not a part of the culture of the Biblical authors. “

    Any loving and committed same-gender relationships would not be documented would it, so you cannot maintain they didn’t exist. Such relationships were kept under wraps so to speak because everyone knew God didn’t tolerate it. Today’s culture has no real regard for God – anything goes.

    “Those of us who disagree with a literal and de-contextualized reading of the verses you quote above, believe that the Biblical authors were silent because these things were not a regular part of their culture.”

    So what you’re saying is God doesn’t have the capacity to give us a book which would cater for all cultures, for all people, for all times. Even if some allowances are made for today’s culture (women priests for example) no allowance can be made for same sex activity because the Scripture time and time again warns of the terrible consequences of it both in the Old and New Testaments. If there was a condition whereby, if fulfilled, would excuse such behaviour then undoubtedly God would have ensured such a proviso was written down. You need to ask yourself why He CHOSE not to do that.

    ” “If it were not okay, the Biblical authors would certainly have
    said so.” And they did – categorically.

    “And yet, despite 6 verses that reference same-gender sexual behaviour minus a context of love and commitment…”

    Again, if love and commitment could negate what was a capital offense and labelled damnable even in the New Testament, God would have ensured this be written down. He didn’t.

    “…we believe that loving relationships are not what the Biblical authors
    intended to condemn.”

    Again, you assume that all homosexual relations from Genesis onwards were not loving. Do you not know that something or someone can be loved wrongly?? If homosexuality was acceptable to God if loving and committed then without doubt God would have said so in His word. Again, you need to ask yourself why He CHOSE not to do that.

    “This however, is an argument from a position of silence…”

    It isn’t. That homosexual behaviour was strictly forbidden was a given. Everyone understood this from the Scriptures which Jesus endorsed in John 10:35: “..the Scripture cannot be broken”.

    “I tend to think: “If it were not okay, Jesus would certainly have
    said so!””

    Jesus claims that He and God are One (John 10:30). If His claim is true then it follows that He certainly DID say so, namely in the verses of my original post. Or is this yet another Scripture you reject??

    “Given the enormous issue that equal marriage is in our current culture, I believe that our omniscient and omnipotent God knew well that there would be people for whom this is an incredibly important issue.”

    You say well. Yet He made NO provision for same sex union.

    “For those of us who are Christian and have always been, and who did not make an active choice about an internal orientation…”

    There is no gay gene as you imply. It is an active choice brought about by wrong thinking which can be amended especially with help from the Holy Spirit. Some people can easily justify stealing from the state for example.

    “…we believe that the Holy Spirit continues to teach new things and to give us insight”

    Then you and your fellow believers are greatly mistaken. The Holy Spirit will NEVER lead anyone to reject the New Testament Scriptures especially in so fundamental matter as sexuality. The Holy Scriptures do not need updating to accommodate everyone’s desires and wishes. If one wants to do God’s will he/she reads the Scriptures. If one wants to be politically correct then he/she reads books Vicky Beeching recommends. If the Holy Bible’s plain, unmistakable, categorical
    teaching on this fundamental subject is out of date and not fit for today’s world then you might as well throw the entire volume out, in other words, where do you stop! The passage of time does not alter how God feels toward same sex sexual relations, adultery, robbery, deception nor anything else contrary to holiness.

    “Our encounters teach us that the Lord loves us as we are, where we are, and desires fidelity to the spirit of the law in addition to the letter”

    The Lord indeed loves us as we but He does wants us to change! This is what repentance is all about!

    “We believe that God does not demand that we change same-gender
    attractions…”

    Then you do so against the strongest possible teaching of Scripture.

    “…or marry opposite-gender partners simply to conform to the male-female model of marriage, or remain alone for life, in order to be Holy.”

    Anyone wishing to do what is right in God’s eyes who desires a life long
    partner will be given help by the Holy Spirit to overcome same sex attraction just as He has given help to untold numbers of people who have had other addictions which are unholy.

    “We believe that He blesses our committed unions…”

    You may believe that but Scripture will prove you wrong. You will have to read another book to find a viewpoint that will endorse your delusion.

    “…true dialogue is much more helpful than quoting verses.”

    Dialogue on this issue without referring to our guide – the Scripture, is
    meaningless. And that’s your great problem because Scripture emphatically rejects your viewpoint and if the Scripture does then so does God. In essence you are saying ‘Don’t talk to me about what God says about sexuality’.

    “In addition, empathy and a desire to truly understand the alternative perspective is needed on both sides.”

    I have great empathy for anyone who wants to come to Christ
    and do what is right in God’s eyes. God will not condemn anyone who comes to Him in sincerity but will instead work with them to overcome addictions which are sinful in His eyes. But don’t pretend that same sex sexual behaviour is anything but sinful.

    “Love should be the litmus of all that we do.”

    No – God should be the
    litmus of all that we do for God is love (1 John 4:8)

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    The problem is that many such arrangements are made without formal agreements and even where some form of agreement exists, couples tend to rely upon the fairly well established two-parent model of parenthood to exclude the biological father.

    Here are a few examples of lesbian couples (some civil partnered) seeking parental recognition. Not everyone will subscribe to £3000 a cycle IVF treatment, so they used alternative arrangements.

    Partner within lesbian couple conceived via intercourse with biological father.
    http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed1625

    Lesbian partner conceives by intercourse with biological father (her partner’s brother)
    http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed999

    Lesbian couple used informal ART to conceive child with known biological father.
    http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed96467

    Lesbian couple used IVF to conceive two children by known gay couple. They then fought over custody arrangements:
    http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed93904
    http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed88312

    That being said, I believe that the most important variable in the health and well-being of any child, is that the child is raised by loving parents.

    I agree. Yet, whatever love a couple may wish to lavish on a child, we must also establish that their parenthood is rightful and that the child is not routinely denied the right to its ‘committed and responsible’ natural father.

    Adoption differs considerably from these cases, In adoption, primary parenthood is either absent, surrendered by parental misconduct, or relinquished. In these cases, the couples are claiming that the involvement of the biological father is intrusive to a two-parent nuclear family, while their arrangements with him were anything but that..

    This means that by comparison to the rebuttable marital presumption of paternity, the conclusive marital presumption of parenthood is actually a legal fiction.

    For instance, the California Family Code 7540 declares:
    ‘Except as provided in Section 7541, the child of a wife cohabiting with her husband, who is not impotent or sterile, is conclusively presumed to be a child of the marriage.

    The reasoning is that, if the birth mother’s spouse is incapable of impregnating her, the presumption cannot be conclusive. Of course, in straight marriage, this means that the husband’s presumed paternity might be rebutted by evidence that he is not the biological father.

    In the case of same-sex marriage, if this presumption could always be rebutted by anyone at any time on the basis of a lack of genetic connection between a woman’s female spouse/partner and her child, then the presumption would be meaningless for a lesbian couple. Either spouse could disestablish the nonbiological mother’s parentage on that basis, as could a biological father.

    This is the issue that I have with same-sex marriage. Marriage is an estate. It confers all of its properties, entitlements and obligations on those married. Yet, in the case of same-sex couples, it’s clear that the entitlement by marriage to be presumed the parent of the wife’s children is unwarranted.

    I accept that for licensed IVF and assisted reproduction, the donor formally signs away his/her parental claims.

    Outside of this framework you cannot justly apply the age-old marital presumption of Roman law: ‘pater est, quem nuptiae demonstrant” (“father is to whom marriage points”) to the lesbian spouse of the birth mother without routinely denying the parental rights of the biological father. He too could be a loving parent, if treated justly by the law.

    In response to your statement about the uptake of gay marriage in June 2013, I should note that the UK had a similar *initial* response to the Civil Partnership Act 2005.

    It peaked at 4,869 in Q1 2006 (perhaps due to pent-up demand). This has steadily fallen to 1,759 per quarter in 2012.

    You speak of this as a cessation of exclusion and dehumanization. Yet, beyond the initial rush to be a part of history, there is a marginal number of homosexuals who want marriage. It’s now the biological fathers who are experiencing routine exclusion and dehumanization, as the cases above amply demonstrate.

    PS I responded to your question about the inter-sex situation below.

  • Rebecca

    Shaun,

    I appreciate your comments and the perspective from which you wrote them, but we firmly disagree- and our disagreement seems to be spiritual in nature. I wish that you could see my heart, rather than an “argument” when you encounter me through writing. If you could, I believe that you might reconsider some of what you have written.

    In response to some of your points:

    1) “Scholarship? A 5 year old child who accepts the teaching of the Holy Bible will know more of God than any ‘scholar’ who rejects it. For well over 3000 years, scholars of the Scriptures didn’t even hint that the Scriptures needed to be re-interpreted to accommodate homosexual behavior.”

    Yes, scholarship which helps to elucidate errors in translation as a result of misunderstanding the original meaning and context of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Even with modern languages, translation is a difficult process and errors are inherent. For a quick example, I am working with two Chinese colleagues this summer as part of an exchange program, and they speak very broken English. We have a digital translation program in addition to another colleague who has spoken English for years, although it is not his original language. In very simple conversations about topics that are very common in my own culture, there is great difficulty in translating- particularly when the construct about which I am speaking does not exist, or is very different in their culture. Direct and “literal” translations have led us to more than one serious misunderstanding, and we are dealing with two living, modern languages.

    Anytime a human being reads scripture, they are interpreting the meaning represented by the symbols on the page. Each new reading is a “reinterpretation”. In an even more literal sense, translations are very much a “reinterpretation”. Although I am not “reinterpreting” in the way you suggest, but “interpreting”, I do understand why you made the above statement. Please be aware, however, that Christians can, and often do, arrive at very different conclusions about the meaning of a particular passage- even when both are motivated by a right spirit. That is why we must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us.

    2) Sexual preferences are determined by the individual and if those sexual preferences are wrong then help needs to be sought if the individual wants to be right with God.

    My brother, you are incorrect about this. No one chooses their “sexual preferences” (by this I assume you mean same-gender orientation, because it is not a “preference”, or what one prefers). They are unchosen, and it takes little reading or listening to a person with same-gender orientation to determine this. No one would choose something that causes so much pain, condemnation, and exclusion from family, church and society. The teen suicide rate among gay and lesbian teenagers is alarmingly high. People would not resort to suicide about an orientation that they could simply change- as though they could simply decide to “prefer” something else. Although I do believe it is possible for some, the reality for the extraordinary majority, regardless of motivation, faith tradition, or resources, is that this is something that does not change in people. Our experiences, regardless of the cause (pre-natal, hormonal, chromosomal, epi-genetic) is that is is unwanted, unchosen, and unchanging across the course of a lifetime- so what we are left with is a choice about how to BEHAVE, not about our same-gender orientation.

    3) Again, you assume that all homosexual relations from Genesis onwards were not loving. Do you not know that something or someone can be loved wrongly?? If homosexuality was acceptable to God if loving and committed then without doubt God would have said so in His word. Again, you need to ask yourself why He CHOSE not to do that.

    I did not make that assumption. I said that we believe that the 6 verses that reference same-gender behavior are not referencing relationships motivated by an internal orientation and a spirit of love. If you look at the surrounding context of each of the verses, this becomes clear- the most strikingly clear example of this is Paul’s discussion of a group of former Christians that he describes in Romans. He clearly says that these people knew God, but turned their backs on Him and began to worship idols. As a result of idol worship, He turned them over to behave in wanton, lustful abandon- our translations describe the motivation as “passions”, or lusts. Modern-day homosexuals have not turned their backs on God, and their same-gender orientation (mine emerged at age 12) is not a result of having turned their backs on God. In addition, those of us who are Christians are not engaging in wanton lasciviousness or lust. We are not motivated by lust. We simply fall in love like all people do, and want to live in fidelity and monogamy with one person for life.

    God did not say anything in His word. The Biblical authors did not say anything. They wrote things. They were inspired by God, but they wrote. And again, I must flip that. If God wanted us to know that loving and monogamous relationships between people with an unchosen and internal orientation (not just an external lustful act) were prohibited, I believe He would have directed the Biblical authors to write about that.

    4) Or is this yet another Scripture you reject??

    Shaun, you are my brother. Please try to see me as your sister, and as someone that our God loves and cherishes. As such, please listen to me when I tell you that I love the scriptures as much as you do, and that I walk with the Lord and seek Him daily. I am not rejecting scripture. Please do not place a judgment upon my heart and motivation where God’s word is concerned. We are warned, either indirectly or directly, not to judge others over 1,000 times. I believe the reason for this is that we are UNABLE to truly judge the heart and motivation of another. Please listen to me. I am not rejecting scripture. I disagree with you about what the Biblical authors intended to condemn.

    5) There is no gay gene as you imply. It is an active choice brought about by wrong thinking which can be amended especially with help from the Holy Spirit. Some people can easily justify stealing from the state for example.

    I did not imply there is a gay gene. So far, all of the published research has made it clear that it is probably a much more complex interaction of factors, although it overwhelmingly points in the direction of biological differences. However, this is not the point.

    You are incorrect. Same-gender orientation is not an active choice. I was 12 years old, loved the Lord with all of my heart, and was horrified when I began falling in love with people (just like my friends), but for me, it was always with other women. I spent a decade praying for God to take this from me, hating myself because I could not change, and considered suicide at one point. I went on the road with a missions ministry for a year, believing that if I gave EVERYTHING- even my home, my belongings, my time, EVERYTHING to God, He would take this from me and change me. He did not choose to do that. He answered many, many other prayers in a completely miraculous way, and His hand has been on my life from the day I was born, but He has not changed this.

    To imply that homosexual people are as such because they make a choice to be so, is one of the most terribly damaging things you can suggest. It is not true, but the implications are what cause people with same-gender orientation to despair and to hate themselves. Please understand that you are incorrect, and that many, many gay Christians ACTIVELY walk with the Holy Spirit. I am not this way because I made a choice, and I am not this way because I do not seek Him. Please be careful in what you suggest. To suggest that I am this way because I do not walk with the Lord and seek the Holy Spirit is indeed the type of judgment of a sister that we are vehemently warned against in scripture.

    5) “Then you and your fellow believers are greatly mistaken. The Holy Spirit will NEVER lead anyone to reject the New Testament Scriptures especially in so fundamental matter as sexuality.

    “The passage of time does not alter how God feels toward same sex sexual relations, adultery, robbery, deception nor anything else contrary to holiness.”

    Shaun, you are mistaken. We are not rejecting scripture. We are reading more deeply and we come to a different conclusion than you. In addition, as I said, the heart and motivation of the individual and the circumstances must be considered to come to a right conclusion about any action. Comparing same-gender unions in love and fidelity to adultery (harming the marriage union and the person being cheated on), robbery (harming another by taking from them), deception (harming another by misleading them) will give us a false impression of what we are speaking about. My heart and motivation for loving my partner of 15 years is not to do harm to another, and the effect is not harm of another. The above three things are violations of the second greatest commandment, which directs us to love others.

    6) “The Lord indeed loves us as we but He does wants us to change! This is what repentance is all about!

    I agree with you! There are so many sins each day about which I have to call myself to task and repent. The Holy Spirit convicts me, even though I regularly fail. But having a same-gender orientation and living in fidelity with my spouse is not something about which He calls me to repent.

    7) “just as He has given help to untold numbers of people who have had other addictions which are unholy”

    Homosexuality is not an addiction. An addition is a repetitive behavior about which one has a compulsion, after one has engaged in an activity that triggers the compulsion. Alcoholics only become addicted after consuming alcohol. From the time I was 12 until I was 22 I had no physical contact with another female, but I fell in love solely with other females and am incapable of falling in love with a male. At 22 I met my spouse, and we fell in love, prayed, waited, and eventually decided to make a life-long commitment to one another. I did not become homosexual because I engaged in an “activity” that I became addicted to. In fact, I restrained myself because of my Christian beliefs, until I was in a monogamous union with one other person that I gave my heart to. I am not “addicted” now. This is simply how I am internally and how I am able to experience the same kind of mutually selfless and serving love between spouses that most people seem to have a need for in life.

    8) “Dialogue on this issue without referring to our guide – the Scripture, ismeaningless. And that’s your great problem because Scripture emphatically rejects your viewpoint and if the Scripture does then so does God. In essence you are saying ‘Don’t talk to me about what God says about sexuality’.

    Shaun, you are incorrect. I never begin a dialogue by quoting verses to people- I begin, first, by listening to them, and second by talking to them about what we believe the scriptures mean. I am not asking you not to talk to me about what God says about sexuality. In fact, I am happy to talk about that. That would be much more useful than quoting verses and neglecting to engage in dialogue.

    9) “I have great empathy for anyone who wants to come to Christand do what is right in God’s eyes. God will not condemn anyone who comes to Him in sincerity but will instead work with them to overcome addictions which are sinful in His eyes. But don’t pretend that same sex sexual behaviour is anything but sinful.”

    Good- then you have empathy for me. Because I seek God every day and fall upon Him for mercy and direction. Again, homosexuality is not an addiction- that comparison is harmful to our discussion. I understand that YOU believe my relationship is sinful. But I do not. At this point, we must agree to disagree- and do so with respect and love- and you must try to refrain from judging me and my relationship with the Lord. That alone- the judgment- does harm to this discussion and to any possibility of true communication.

    10) “Love should be the litmus of all that we do.”

    No – God should be the
    litmus of all that we do for God is love (1 John 4:8)

    I don’t think we disagree about the spirit of the above, but we disagree in perspective. I believe LOVE must be the litmus of all that we do because Christ told us that the greatest two commandments are to love God and to love one another. I believe we are told that those two commandments are most important because they are the two that are the most difficult to uphold. And I believe that Paul directs us that all other laws are fulfilled through the law of love, because IF love is truly our motivation- we will not hurt or wound others. Yes. God is love. That is why we must temper all that we do with love- to be more like Him.

    Go in peace, brother. We disagree.

    Rebecca

  • Rebecca

    David,

    I think you’ve made some really good points, and I want to read this in more detail and respond, but I’ve got to finish some work. I will try to come back to this tomorrow or the next day. Thanks for the good thoughts and interesting perspective.

    Fundamentally, I agree that no parent who wishes contact should be denied. That is a horrible thought!

    In Christ,

    Rebecca

    PS – Is there any way to find these responses without having to fish for them each time?

  • Rebecca

    David,

    PPS- I can’t find your response to inter-sexual people. Can you just copy it here? It seems the only means of finding things I have is to filter by “newest” post . . . and then scroll down. But I don’t see that one.

    I will get back to you about the above soon.

    Rebecca

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Rebecca,
    This is a good thoughtful question.
    First, let’s be clear that with respect to inter-sex, we are talking about a very small minority of people (less than 1 per cent of live births). We are not talking about a discord between an unambiguous physical gender and how a person might self-identify otherwise.
    If we can permit the surgical removal of a person’s sexual characteristics to agree with their psychological gender, it’s not necessarily unethical for inter-sex individuals to undergo gender assignment and marry a person of opposite gender.
    The issue is that the classification of common characteristics is a necessity of all laws. including marriage. As it was until last year in civil law, the scriptural prohibitions only apply to the prima facie evidence of gender. What person cannot do is to rely on a few instances of indeterminate sex as licence for same-sex couples to treat as irrelevant the gender requirement in marriage.
    Nevertheless, Christ’s statement about ‘eunuchs from birth’ in Matt. 19:12 also identifies that for those born with indeterminate sex, celibacy is another valid option.
    In response to his unyielding stance that the marital bond was well-nigh irreversible in the sight of God, the apostles declared: ‘“If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matt. 19:10)
    ‘Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 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.” (Matt. 19:11.12)
    What is clear is that, in the apostles thinking, celibacy was a better option than finding oneself unable to opt out of a very difficult marriage that could only be ended by proof of sexual immorality.
    Whatever our pre-dispositions are, celibacy is a valid pre-emptive option for those who cannot fulfill God’s irreversible expectations of marriage. However, the capacity for celibacy is either imposed by incapacity for organic sexual union (congenital or otherwise), or granted to those who truly decide to conform to the Kingdom of God
    In today’s thinking, we have abandoned the idea of celibacy as a pre-emptive option or divine calling and gift those who cannot fulfill God’s high and irreversible expectations of marriage. Yet, according to Christ, celibacy can be a choice for conforming one’s life to the Kingdom of God, rather than worldly standards.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    http://www.disqus.com/home

    You can login and view your own comment and reply history.

    In Christ,

    Dave

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Firstly, while others may comfortably accept the conservative moniker, I have a real distaste for that label, so your point about labelling a person a liberal (unless they self-identify in this way) is well taken.

    There’s a nexus of factors propelling organisations like Anglican Mainstream and Changing Attitude into the public eye.

    The thin line between activism and alarmism is broached when efforts to garner interest run aground. It’s only then that each group has to form a broader coalition making allies of those with far more extreme views than they would have espoused.

    Even a cursory reading of these organisations’ blog posts reveal how they seek to arouse outrage among their respective followings.

    A report on the Methodist Church allowing ordained or lay church members to

  • Shaun Purchase

    Not much time so here’s my last comment:

    “But having a same-gender orientation and living in fidelity with my spouse is
    not something about which He calls me to repent.”
    He does call you to repent Rebecca and I can prove it with Scripture. God resists the proud, and those who presume to know more than God and prefer their own wisdom over ‘God-breathed’ Scripture will be seen as proud by God. If you want to hear God’s voice then you will have to humble yourself and come into agreement with God. Do this then you will be truly blessed.

    Take care sister.

  • Bernard

    Hi Rebecca. David has mentioned below about logging in, but if you want to continue commenting as a guest, if you scroll to the bottom of this screen you will see on the left hand side an email icon and the word ‘Subscribe’ which if you click on it will give you the option to enter your email address and then receive all comments directly to your email in-box. When you receive email notification of a comment, if you click on the ‘reply to’ icon, this will take you directly from the email notification back to the blog page and the actual comment. Trust this is clear and of some help. Regards. Bernard.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Rebecca

    I always take the side of the most random-sample, largest-scale, representative-of-research, peer-reviewed papers. If therefore the study or studies you are relying on fall into that category, then I am (and everyone else is) bound to agree with them. Which study or studies are you relying on re suicide?

    I always ‘bother’ to read all paragraphs.

    The awful truth is that political correctness has hidden an extremely large amount of the science from gay teens, and has indeed given them a skewed impression. (For example, how many of them could quote the heterosexual-homosexaul discrepancy on STIs or promiscuity or medically risky sexual practices? Vanishingly few.) Had honest people and academics been in charge of what they were told, we would have told them the facts. Any subsequent blame lies, obviously, with those who withheld the facts from them. Least of all does it lie with those who are only interested in disseminating the facts.

    The ‘problem’ is: sometimes the truth is not what we want it to be. That doesn’t make it any less true. Since when did the truth have to be exactly as we wish it to be? Since when could we dictate what is true, rather than discover it through the reading of scientific papers? With maturity, people grow out of thinking the world owes them a favour, and ought to conform to their wishes.

    All the best

    Chris.

  • Guest

    I wasn’t suggesting that you in particular were blind to the hidden homophobes. Sorry if it appeared like that. I was just talking with you about the general situation. None of my comments are aimed at you. I presume you know that, but were just making your own position clear. In any case, I hope I’ve clarified that now.

    Thanks for your explanation of why you think things are so
    polarised (alarmism help raise funds).

    I’m interested in Christianity, have attended church in the past, but don’t currently go to church. I don’t know Ancient Greek or have enough biblical expertise to determine the correctness or otherwise of others’ interpretations of the Bible. For outsiders like myself, it tends to be those on the conservative (I’m going to drop the inverted commas now; I think the point is made) extreme that cause most offence. I think those at the far edge of liberal Christianity tend to offend conservatives with their interpretation
    of the Bible. That isn’t generally going to offend outsiders. Whereas those at the far edge of conservative Christianity tend to offend with homophobia, or an agenda that seeks to gloss over or belittle the maltreatment that gay people have experienced and do experience.

    I think that many reasonable conservatives (but not all) could do more to distance themselves from the extremes. Otherwise, many people will perceive that the reasonable conservative churches are sending out a mixed message of “we welcome people who are same-sex attracted” but at the same time “we remain strongly connected with the homophobes”.

    Does a high-profile group for reasonable conservatives exist
    in the UK that does not send out a mixed message? Anglican Mainstream are not reasonable. I don’t think Christian Concern are either (Andrea’s trip to Jamaica). Then there is Reform. Their
    website says that they maintain a strong connection with Anglican Mainstream. I can’t recall having seen any other UK conservative groups being mentioned much in the national press. A Google search brings up Fulcrum, but they are much less visible than the other three.

  • Steve Hancock

    The way some people have responded to this post really proves that Vicky was right in her conclusion that this blog is not the best place for this Biblical discussion to be had. A lot of the comments on here are an embarrassment, especially when there are Christians who have a view point but don’t want their faith to wrongly come across as aggressive and unloving.

  • Rebecca

    David,

    You are using observed behavior from a group of people (gay men) who are not in equal circumstances with a comparison group (heterosexual men).

    To the “massive uptake of civil partnerships” comment: There were 150,000 gay marriages according to a US census in 2009. At that time, it was only legal in a few states. 18,000 couples married in California during the brief period of time it was legal, before the institution of Proposition 8 (which was later overturned). In each state in which it has become legal, long-term, monogamous and committed couples have flocked to marry in order to receive basic recognition and legal protection of their relationships. Gay and lesbian people are a small minority of the human population. Of all gay people who exist, many form long-term and committed relationships. Of the people who form long-term and committed relationships, many choose to marry where it is legal. But, as with the heterosexual population, not all people form long-term and committed relationships, and many do not choose to marry. The number of people who wish to marry, in comparison to the heterosexual majority, is not in any way relevant to the question of equal legal treatment for gay and lesbian people beneath the law.

    In addition, as I have mentioned many times on this blog: as a result of the fact that the encouraging influences (family in support of your relationship, church in support of your relationship, friends in support of your relationship, society in support of your relationship, active messages of encouragement for homosexual love in movies and television, and therefore, cultural support, legal opportunity to marry, and therefore, legal support) are absent, homosexual people feel excluded from the things that often motivate heterosexual people to marry, and to stay married. The emotional effect of the above on homosexual people is devastating. If you live in an environment that does not respect the nature of your relationship in any way, and if you feel constantly devalued and dehumanized by what you see, read, and hear about people like you, the environment itself does not encourage relationship stability. In my case, we actively FOUGHT to stay together for 15 years despite the fact that our families, church and society do not support us in any way, and despite the fact that legal marriage is still not an option.

    Rather than viewing the sometimes promiscuous behavior of homosexual men (and again, as I’ve mentioned previously, it is men in general who are more promiscuous than women. Obviously having two men in a relationship significantly statistically increases the odds of observing the behavior you observe in the male heterosexual population in greater proportions) as a justification for withholding of marriage, it would be most loving (and therefore Christlike) to view promiscuity as a negative external behavior that should be addressed by a welcoming church. If we welcomed homosexual men into our churches and gave them the same positive modeling and the same positive teaching that we give heterosexual persons, perhaps the promiscuous behavior would decrease. As it is, gay people leave the church in droves, and many never return.

    “Yet, why should we, when even preventative measures are not being adopted? Look at the Gay Men’s Sex Survey in which interviewees continue to report staggeringly higher levels of casual sex involving higher risk forms of unprotected intercourse than among straight people.” Because the social stigma (which is not rejection of bad behavior, but rejection of these people as human beings) causes great emotional, psychological and sometimes, physical harm to homosexuals; because exclusion and unkind behavior is not motivated by love, our litmus as Christians.

    And, rather than looking at the promiscuous behavior of SOME, and therefore labeling ALL as bad, we should be looking at the individuals and comparing the fruits of individual circumstances and relationships. Grotesquely obese people continue to eat at fast food restaurants and fill their bodies full of things that cause their condition to be worse. Instead of looking at ALL fat people and deciding that they are all gluttons, however, we should look at individual people and their circumstances and refrain from making broad and sweeping generalities that are not bourn out in all cases. In addition, rather than condemning all fat people, we should attempt to EDUCATE them in love, especially given the fact that obesity is correlated to poverty. We would not, however, say that all poor people are bad because poverty is correlated to obesity.

  • Rebecca

    David,

    I apologize for my delay in response. I have been tied up with work. In response to the numbers who marry, please see my above post. You are incorrect about it being a “marginal number”, and the number of people wishing to marry is not relevant to discussion of equal legal treatment beneath the law. Prior to the abolishment of anti-miscegenation laws, an exceptionally small number of people wished to obtain the legal right to marry someone of a different race. The number of people wishing to gain that right is not relevant to discussions of equal legal treatment, however.

    In response to the legal complications that arise in cases of in-vitro fertilization, I sincerely believe that they are the same, regardless of whether the couple is heterosexual or homosexual, and that for this reason, legal contracts are necessary before conception. In addition, adoption cases are not always different, as you suggest above. In some cases, parenthood is not relinquished willingly, and legal complications arise.

    In cases in which parenthood is not relinquished in advance of conception or adoption (as in some of the cases above), obviously the parent who wishes continued contact should have it.

    I will respond to the inter-sexual question as I can.

    Best,

    Rebecca

  • Rebecca

    David,

    To begin with, there are no scriptural prohibitions of gay marriage. There are passages describing the original creation, and passages in which Jesus references those passages in Genesis. There are, additionally, many examples of various forms of heterosexual marriage, which were a reflection of the time and place of the authors. The Bible does not anyplace, however, prohibit same-gender marriage. It is not discussed.

    In regard to inter-sexual people, there is a broad diversity of conditions that regularly appear in the human population. The number of people that this spectrum of conditions affects, however, is not relevant to discussions of how we should treat them, and to discussions of the morality of the relationships they choose.

    In many of these cases, the external physical genitalia (that which people can see) do not match the internal gonads, or the psychological wiring of the individual. In some cases, as in women with CAH, the external and internal (gonad) structure can appear to be normal, although hormone production is not. An overwhelmingly large proportion (statistically significant) of these women become lesbian at point of puberty and romantic attractions.

    You mention surgically correcting inter-sexual people. Because of the overwhelmingly high reports of “incorrect” gender assignment, that is no longer considered ethical. Regardless of whether an individual appears externally to male or female, it is not until puberty and romantic attractions emerge that they know which to gender they are able to experience attraction. It is the person’s internal sexual orientation that determines to whom they experience physical and emotional attraction, not their external genitalia.

    “What person cannot do is to rely on a few instances of indeterminate sex as licence for same-sex couples to treat as irrelevant the gender requirement in marriage.” I disagree with you. I believe the existence of people like this demand that we consider that a persons orientation to one gender or another is of equal importance to their external genitalia. In addition, I firmly believe that God is much bigger than limiting consideration to a person’s genitals, and that His evaluations of our hearts and motivations are of primary concern. Further, “Because all of you are one in the Messiah Jesus, a person is no longer a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female.” (International Standard, Galatians 3:28) I think we should consider that perhaps a person’s external genitalia is not the litmus for whether or not their love and desire to marry is moral and good, but that their internal heart, spirit with the Lord, and motivation should be the standard for evaluating the external.

    It is interesting that you bring up the passage about Eunuchs. Matt. 19:12 was given in response to the suggestion that if a man cannot divorce (it was heterosexual divorce that was in question), then it would be better not to marry. Rather than address that statement directly, Jesus responded that there are three groups of people for whom it is better not to marry: Eunuchs from birth, Eunuchs who have been made so by others, and Eunuchs who choose to be that way for the kingdom of heaven.

    In the ancient mind, from contemporary writings, we know that Eunuchs were not all castrated men. Some Eunuchs, simply had no sexual interest in women, were more effeminate, were capable of having sex, and resemble our discussions of homosexual men. They were frequently given positions of power over harems of wives because they posed no threat to the husband. (A physically castrated male does not lose his sex drive, and will pursue women. A homosexual male will not pursue a woman.) What Jesus literally says is that it is better for these people not to enter into heterosexual marriage.

    I would agree that some inter-sexual people may fit the category of Eunuch from birth, but this does not mean that all people who are physically incapable of marriage should not marry. In addition, Eunuchs who were made so by others does not necessarily have to mean only castrated males. It could also mean males who have been sexually abused and are no longer capable of intimacy of any kind. It could also be those to whom heterosexual marriage is denied. Finally, what Jesus said is that it is better for these people not to enter into heterosexual marriage, not that marriage is prohibited.

    The final category pertains to persons who choose to refrain from heterosexual marriage for the kingdom of heaven. The most common interpretation of this that I have heard is that these are people who remain celibate for religious purposes. While this is indeed a high calling, Jesus makes it clear that these people “choose” to be celibate. Most Christians today believe that it is something to which people feel compelled, or called. A person who has celibacy forced upon them by the dictates of their society or religion does not conform to this category, as they haven’t “chosen” to remain that way. Paul made it clear that very few people are capable of such a thing (being alone and without a spouse forever), and that as a result, if it is too hard, they should marry. But with homosexual people, marriage is denied.

    I’m not an expert on these passages. These are musings that I pose to you for free rebuttal.

    And, as with all things, I maintain that a person’s heart, spirit and motivation for any action must be considered in totality to arrive at a right conclusion about the action.

    In Christ,

    Rebecca

    PS – The site would not allow me to sign in with a password. As such, I have to keep signing in as a guest and scrolling.

  • Bernard

    Hi Rebecca. I’m not sure if you’ve seen my note below about another way in which you can receive notification of responses to your comments. I’ve copied it for your convenience. Bernard.

    ‘Hi Rebecca. David has mentioned below about logging in, but if you want to continue commenting as a guest, if you scroll to the bottom of this screen you will see on the left hand side an email icon and the word ‘Subscribe’ which if you click on it will give you the option to enter your email address and then receive all comments directly to your email in-box. When you receive email notification of a comment, if you click on the ‘reply to’ icon, this will take you directly from the email notification back to the blog page and the actual comment. Trust this is clear and of some help. Regards. Bernard.’

  • anon

    Thoroughly disappointed by some of the comments on this blog. There are young Christians committing suicide because they can’t figure out whether they are accepted and loved by God or not, meanwhile you resort to childish name calling and ‘my brain is bigger than yours’ arguments, on a topic that doesn’t affect many of you personally at all. Have some respect for us younger Christians, who struggle with same sex attraction, and are not looking for the easy way out, but the truth, regardless of how awkward and lonely our lives may end up.

  • Rebecca

    Bernard,

    Thank you. Unfortunately, it still isn’t working from over here. It won’t allow me to enter a password. Ah, well.

    Rebecca

  • Rebecca

    Chris,

    We’ve been around the Mulberry bush more than once in regard to the issue of sexually promiscuous behavior, and the inherent risks therein. There are promiscuous heterosexuals. But not all heterosexuals are promiscuous. There are promiscuous homosexuals. But not all homosexuals are promiscuous. There are heterosexual people in long-term and committed unions. But not all are. There are homosexuals in long-term and committed unions. But not all are. We should discourage lust-driven and promiscuous behavior that is beyond the confines of a monogamous and committed union wherever it occurs.

    Promiscuity seems to be correlated to the gay male population, but there is not a causative relationship. And, as I have discussed other places in great detail, there are a host of confounding variables that would have to be explored in great detail, and controlled for, for results from any quantitative study to be statistically meaningful (in addition to a wider sample and, for comparative reasons, assumptions of equal conditions). That is why I commune with human beings BEFORE trotting out the most recent quantitative study. What we really want to know would be best addressed by an objective qualitative study.

    Beyond this, I do not believe it is helpful to continue to converse about promiscuity in the gay male population. Not all homosexual males are promiscuous. Those who are need loving and welcoming influences and positive affirmation of long-term commitment- they need family, and they need a church. Rather than seeking ways to categorize, ostracize, and negatively paint the gay male population (as justification for a belief that their relationships are inherently immoral), it seems to me that Christ’s purpose on earth (to reconcile us all to God, show us that salvation is through faith, and teach us how to love one another so that we may spread His amazing love throughout the world) would be much better served by your sitting down with some gay males and listening to their stories. You cannot hear the heart of a peoples through statistics, and you certainly can’t understand the heart of an individual. At the end of the day, this isn’t about some great “other”- it is about homosexual individuals, each of whom is as precious to our Heavenly Father as you are.

    How do you believe God would want you to speak about these brothers and sisters, and engage with them?

    In peace,

    Rebecca

    PS- For information about the rate of gay teen suicide and the emotional and psychological pressures that homosexual people face, try Google. (As I suggested above, however, actually LISTENING to some gay people would be a much better place to start.)

  • Bernard

    Hi Rebecca. Sorry it’s not working for you. I may be wrong, but I thought when I did the email icon ‘Subscribe’ route, I didn’t need a password, only my email address. Just to clarify, this is done as a separate action to making a comment. Once done, you then receive all comments direct to your inbox. Anyway, trust you find a way forward. Regards. Bernard.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Hi Rachel,

    I’ve had a chance to peruse your reply and here are my reflections on it. You’ll notice that I endeavour to collate arguments and then engage with them.

    1. To begin with, there are no scriptural prohibitions of gay marriage.

    For this to be valid, you would have to apply inductive reasoning alone (i.e. only reasoning from particular scriptural instances to establish a general rule). By the same induction, you could also argue that the scripture is silent on industrial pollution. As you say, ‘it is not discussed’.

    When Christ answered the question about divorce, he harked back to humsn innocence when divorce did not exist. He imposed an precedent of life-long matrimony that reflected the time and place of ancient authors on the society of His contemporaries thousands of years later.

    Christ’s reasoning from the Genesis archetype is deduction, not induction. He reasons from the general principle (what God has joined together) to the particular issue of divorce for any cause (let not man put asunder).

    Christ also applied deduction to His rhetorical question about the Messiah’s sonship. So, it is strange that we can deduce from the Genesis God’s intention for marriage to be permanent and monogamous. Yet, you balk at any deduction about gender. Some might say that’s disingenuous.

    2. In your discussion about inter-sex, you are conflating inter-sexuality with sexual orientation. The fact that of a statistically insignificant proportion of the human race (those with inter-sex characteristics) there is a statistically significant proportion who are lesbian tells us nothing about the wider population.

    The proportion of those with inter-sex cannot undermine the normative congruence between gender and orientation. Anyway, the scriptural prohibitions in the Old and New Testament are focused on the indulgence of predispositions and the behaviour that ensues. Christians are not to be slaves to predisposition.

    3. Much of St.Paul’s letter to the Galatians is about their participation in God’s amnesty through the gospel. He insists that the Law does nothing to improve their status before God. He gives them the model of Abraham whose life exhibited a journey of reliance upon God’s merciful promises, rather than self-directed attempts to keep the Law. None of the distinctions mentioned in Gal. 3:28 are behavioural. Paul is citing these as non-behavioural distinctions that do not affect our status before God.

    He is not claiming that behavioural distinctions are irrelevant. In fact, he takes pains to explain the spiritual impact of how we use our external genitalia. His explanation of divine retribution in Romans 1 starts with heathen societies abandoning what was self-evident about God through nature (the proof being in the writings of their poets, like Cleanthes), only for God to relinquish them to their inclination to abandon what was self-evident about their originating nature. It is a description of society (rather then individuals) that turns from the self-evident conjugation of genitalia ‘against nature’.

    According to St. Paul, the gospel is the remedy of mercy by which this principle of retributive relinquishment is thwarted. It explains his eagerness to preach the gospel everywhere.

    4. It’s telling that when it advances your case, you infer that Matt. 19:12 is a catch-all for anyone who is not heterosexual. Yet, I should also insist that the verse was a reflection of the time and place of the author. You cannot deny a deduction from Genesis, only to invoke your own from this verse. We cannot infer any reference to sexual orientation whatsoever.

    5. Your last point with reference to motivation and not action as the arbiter of morality is virtue ethics derived from Greek philosophy. In contrast, the scripture highlights that our actions will be judged, rather than how well we can explain them away with claims that we were motivated by benevolence.

    In Christ,

    Dave

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    What is the cost to the State (and, in turn, to you and me) for having to subsidise the feeding, housing, clothing and nurturing of children of a delinquent father or mother for whom joint responsibility for any kids resulting from their sexual activities finishes at the end of the bed? Even tracking down such a person is a costly exercise.

    The main goal and design of marriage law is to establish contractual support and societal deference to a couple’s agreement to life-long front-line care not only for each other, but also for the natural outcome of their publicly agreed union. This is the basis for the legal deference to the privacy of the autonomous family unit.

    Marriage legally holds the couple to promises of permanent mutual fidelity and more especially assigns that commitment, barring incapacity, to the primary role of providing for their natural joint offspring.

    Marriage does not confer automatic parental recognition for children conceived or born in conjunction with non-spouses. This is accomplished through laws affecting subsidiary arrangements (such as adoption, gamete donation, surrogacy, and orders for parental recognition and child support).

    Marriage law per se neither enforces nor intrudes upon how people love each other. The reason for marriage is the public interest in establishing a couple’s mutual responsibility for the social impact of that love, particularly in respect of the provision for their young.

    The parental duty is not only imposed by nature (for it is an immense wrong for children to be abandoned by the couple who took pleasure in the act by which they were conceived); parental duty is also inferred by the voluntary nature of the sexual act by which kids are conceived. Couples choose to have sex. Thereby, they both choose the risk of conception and childbirth.

    Assigning a married couple’s primary parental responsibility to those children born into the marriage requires no more than the birth certificate and the rebuttable presumption that the husband is the father of his wife’s children.

    This is a far easier regime for assigning joint parenthood and far less intrusive of family privacy than implementing mandatory universal DNA testing.

    By marriage, those types of relationships presumed to have the capacity to engage in responsible reproduction voluntarily accept the obligation to provide joint primary parental care for the outcome of their reproductive acts. Thereby the State is relieved of such a duty.

    The law simply presumes that a couple might be able to reproduce together; it does not presume that they will, nor that they must. Hence, it cannot legitimately prevent elderly or infertile couples from marrying.

    To paraphrase Sir William Blackstone, the great expositor of English law, on marriage: ‘the possibility of offspring is always presumed to exist in law, even though those bequeathing be each of them a hundred years old’

    If this possibility of joint offspring cannot even be presumed at first sight (as in the case of same-sex couples), then the law cannot justly infer them to be the legal co-parents of any children born to the mother, since this would usurp the rights of the natural father.

    The institution would be perpetuating an injustice towards the natural father by presuming that, instead of him, the female spouse of his child’s mother is the legal co-parent of his child. Yet, this is exactly what marriage effects in the case of same-sex couples.

    As a result of this injustice, marriage can automatically prevent a natural father from primary involvement in the care of his children.

    In fact, same-sex marriage authorises a legal fiction and a travesty by consistently relegating the committed and responsible natural father to a secondary or non-existent role in his child’s life.

    The parental role of spouses who are not biologically related to their partner’s children should always be considered, at best, subsidiary to responsible and capable natural parents.

    For marriage to do otherwise undermines the rights of natural parenthood.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Rebecca,

    No worries. Few of us here are full-time theologians.

    1. My arguments have not sought to link homosexuality with other sexual prohibitions from scripture. Why? Because you’d find that comparison offensive. I also find it offensive to hear oppositions to behaviour compared to opposition to race. If there was a part of the world in which the moral equality of all behaviour was accepted, there would be lawlessness.

    2. The issue of number was in relation to your claim about need, rather than ethics. If marriage is so sorely needed to end exclusion, there’s little proof of that in numerical terms.

    3. My point about legal complications specifically relate to unlicensed methods by which, for instance, a lesbian couple might obtain a child by involving a third party. Saying, ‘obviously the parent who wishes contact should have it’ glosses over:
    The fact that a committed and responsible natural parent wants legal parenthood. wanting contact is useless to the natural father when’s gender-neutral reading of marriage law endows the birth mother and her spouse with the right to function as an autonomous unit apart from him and move to Nebraska.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    I have pachydermic oblivion to offence. However, I just thought it wise to distance myself from the conservative label.

    As an organisation, I’ve found Fulcrum to be the most balanced (indirect pun intended, collective ‘don’t give up your day job’ unintended). You’ll also find that those commenting on their posts are not heavily moderated for signs of agreement with the articles that they post. They also post articles on a broad range of theological topics, not just ‘here’s more news on the homosexuality debate’.

    While Fulcrum are less visible, they do work through the arguments carefully.

    Finally, I should stress that, while the original Greek and Hebrew texts can bring out the richness of scriptural meaning, they are akin to condiments enhancing the understanding.

    To grasp one text In English and make it a principle of life will reap far more reward than mere comprehension of A thousand Greek inflections without lasting personal change.

    I wish you divine blessing in your search for a church.

  • http://www.terapibioquantum.com Ary ‘asray’ Ashary

    wew… obat perangsang wanita ini sangat cocok buat Anda semua

  • Rebecca

    David,

    I’m not sure what your first point is addressing. As a result, I’m not sure how to respond.

    To your second point, I understand your perspective, but disagree wholeheartedly. The number of people receiving unequal treatment beneath the law does not determine whether measures to correct the inequality are needed. The number of people desiring to marry someone of another race were startlingly few- and yet, correction of the inequality was necessary.

    To the third point, I agree with your conclusion about that individual case. As a result, I believe there should not be any non-contracted conception, or adoption. I do not intend to gloss over anything. In the circumstance above, I believe both lesbian parents should be legal parents (the second via marriage as an adoptive parent), and if the biological father, for whom there was no pre-existing contract of closed conception or adoption, wishes to be a legal parent, that should be granted, as well.

    A heterosexual couple who remarries so that the step-father or step-mother becomes legal parent via marriage, but the original biological parent remains a legal parent is a parallel situation. I do not believe that a gender- neutral reading of marriage law in any way changes the situation. As you have posited elsewhere, marriage is a legal contract between two persons.

    None of this speaks to the fundamental issue of the need for equal treatment beneath the law for same-gender couples.

  • Rebecca

    Hi David,

    I enjoy conversing with you. Your responses are always well-thought and written. Thank you for dialoguing here in a respectful way. I will respond to each point in kind:

    1. I disagree. There are no scriptural prohibitions of same-gender marriage. It is not discussed. Because one thing is discussed in a positive light does not mean that another thing is inherently bad. There are many things our Bible does not discuss that we have to make modern-day judgments about. The scripture is silent about industrial pollution (which we judge as bad), but it is also silent about open-heart surgery (which we judge as good). To the rest of the point, see my discussions in earlier posts.

    2. “In your discussion about inter-sex, you are conflating inter-sexuality with sexual orientation. The fact that of a statistically insignificant proportion of the human race (those with inter-sex characteristics) there is a statistically significant proportion who are lesbian tells us nothing about the wider population.”

    David, I’m not sure what to make of this. While I am indeed conflating inter-sexuality and homosexuality from the position of individuals whose phenotypical gender expression does not match their sexual orientation, I’m not sure what to make of: “The fact that of a statistically insignificant proportion of the human race . . . there is a statistically significant proportion who are lesbian tells us nothing about the wider population.” What do you mean?

    Why on earth would it matter how MANY inter-sexual people are placed in this kind of moral conundrum? The fact that ANY exist, and that these things are well beyond their control, demands that we reconsider a male-female paradigm into which they do not fit.

    I’m also not sure what to make of the first sentence of the next paragraph: “The proportion of those with inter-sex cannot undermine the normative congruence between gender and orientation.” What?

    “Anyway, the scriptural prohibitions in the Old and New Testament are focused on the indulgence of predispositions and the behaviour that ensues. Christians are not to be slaves to predisposition.”

    Behaving homosexually if you are homosexual is not “indulging in a predisposition” unless behaving heterosexually if you are heterosexual is “indulging in a predisposition”. If we establish that both are indulging in a predisposition, than it is the conditions of that indulgence that determine whether or not behaviors are morally good or morally bad. If falling in love with one person and making a life-long commitment to them is being a slave to predisposition, then all humans who are married are slaves to predisposition, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. Perhaps that is why Paul suggested celibacy is better than marriage, but if celibacy is too difficult, one should marry.

    3. “Much of St.Paul’s letter to the Galatians is about their participation in God’s amnesty through the gospel. He insists that the Law does nothing to improve their status before God. He gives them the model of Abraham whose life exhibited a journey of reliance upon God’s merciful promises, rather than self-directed attempts to keep the Law.”

    Indeed!

    “None of the distinctions mentioned in Gal. 3:28 are behavioural. Paul is citing these as non-behavioural distinctions that do not affect our status before God.” Hmm. I don’t think I agree. The distinction between Jew and Gentile was very much behavioral, and it was the behaviors of the non-Jewish Gentiles that was at issue throughout the arguments about whether or not they could truly be Christian without first conforming to all of the Jewish behavioral laws.

    “In fact, he takes pains to explain the spiritual impact of how we use our external genitalia. His explanation of divine retribution in Romans 1 starts with heathen societies abandoning what was self-evident about God through nature (the proof being in the writings of their poets, like Cleanthes), only for God to relinquish them to their inclination to abandon what was self-evident about their originating nature. It is a description of society (rather then individuals) that turns from the self-evident conjugation of genitalia ‘against nature’.

    I don’t believe so. I believe that is an interesting reading of the text, but the reference to their having known what is self-evident about God (His nature and being) is about the fact that they knew him, but turned from him and began to worship idols. It is not about external genitalia, or the use of their genitalia in lustful abandon. This passage speaks first of intentional turning from God, God turning from them as a result, lustful behavior (“passions”), along with a long list of other sins that result, and then a rather brilliant rhetorical appeal not to judge because the contemporary reader is just as guilty as the idol-worshippers. This isn’t about genitalia. It isn’t even primarily about lustful sex. And it certainly isn’t about two people with an unchosen and internal orientation who love the Lord and love each other, and are in committed union.

    “According to St. Paul, the gospel is the remedy of mercy by which this principle of retributive relinquishment is thwarted. It explains his eagerness to preach the gospel everywhere.” David, I’m not sure what to make of this. Can you expound?

    4. It’s telling that when it advances your case, you infer that Matt. 19:12 is a catch-all for anyone who is not heterosexual. Yet, I should also insist that the verse was a reflection of the time and place of the author. You cannot deny a deduction from Genesis, only to invoke your own from this verse. We cannot infer any reference to sexual orientation whatsoever.

    David, I didn’t infer that it is a “catch all” for anyone who is not heterosexual. I propose some situations that seem to me, on the surface, to be similar to the categories Jesus proposes. Unless I am mistaken, that passage is still very much in debate among scholars in the field. You were the one who referenced that passage, and I thought your reference was strange. I was responding to your use of the passage.

    What I CAN say without any doubt is that what Jesus literally says is that there are some people for whom it is better not to enter into the marriage contract that the disciples ask about, which in their time, referred to a man and a woman.

    “We cannot infer any reference to sexual orientation whatsoever.” I do not agree with you about that, if by sexual orientation we mean males whom are physically in tact and capable of procreation with a female, but who do not experience attraction to women and do experience attraction to other males. If the word that has been translated as “eunuch” meant more than one thing at that time, it means more than one thing now. If that word did not refer solely to physically castrated males then, it does not refer solely to physically castrated males now. It is important to take that into consideration when trying to interpret the meaning of the verse. (Again, however, I freely admit that it is a poorly understood passage, about which there is much debate. I don’t know anything for certain, other than what I said in the paragraph immediately above.)

    5. Your last point with reference to motivation and not action as the arbiter of morality is virtue ethics derived from Greek philosophy. In contrast, the scripture highlights that our actions will be judged, rather than how well we can explain them away with claims that we were motivated by benevolence.

    David, your “rather than” is not an appropriate response to my suggestion that the internal heart and motivation of the individual are judged as part of any action. The scriptures provide examples of following the letter of the law without a right spirit (these examples are viewed negatively) and examples of not following the letter of the law with a right spirit, and these things are not viewed negatively. It is clear that God sees, and judges all in totality, and that He desires fidelity to the spirit of the law rather than adherence to the letter to the exclusion of the spirit.

    Thank you for thought-provoking dialogue.

    In peace,

    Rebecca

  • Guest

    Steve,

    You are loved immeasurably, at all times, no matter what. You are a brilliant and beautiful creation, and every single part of you is wonderful. God cherishes you. No matter what conclusion you arrive upon regarding whether or not you may enter into a faithful and monogamous relationship, remember that you are a beloved child of God. Do not allow voices of condemnation to destroy your spirit- that is exactly what Satan would want. God loves you infinitely. Cling to Him.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Rebecca.

    That is something I will never do, for obvious reasons. As you know, it is quite obvious that all Christians are in favour of love – so when it comes to the topic of love there is nothing there to be discussed, apart from what actually counts as being ‘love’ (for example: love is not the same as need, or as desire, or as indulgence; you can’t accept the principle ‘God is love’ while also rejecting sayings of the same writer).

    Christian objections generally begin and end with the sexual dimension. And those objections are strong and scientifically grounded. So for a Christian there is nothing else to talk about here other than the sexual element.

    That is not because Christians are obsessed with sex. They have never been talking about the same topics as these (gay marriage etc.) throughout history. But they are now, because of the logical and scientific errors they see. It is the secularists and revisionists that have put such matters on the agenda (not the Christians, who are merely responding) by trying to move the goalposts.

    I will talk about love. I will talk about sexual matters. But I will noit confuse the two, since you know as well as I do that they are distinct from one another. Are you trying to make people take up the position ‘I approve of love therefore I approve of the attached sex as well, because they are inseparable’? Because you know as well as I do that that ‘argument’ does not follow.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Rebecca

    I will go round the mulberry bush many more times if I need to, but what will prevent my needing to doing so is you admitting that homosexual men are very considerably more promiscuous, on average, than the average ‘heterosexual’ – (even when heterosexual promiscuity is mushrooming). Five times more so in the UK according to CH Mercer (International Journal of STD and AIDS 2009). The American Center for Diseases Control concluded in 2011 from their sample of 2011 ‘gay’ men that of those with a primary ‘sexual’ partner, 68% had at least two others a year.

    If there is not a causative relationship for the correlation of promiscuity with being gay male, that lack of causation is a fat lot of good if one is never able to remove the correlation. Where you get one, you get the other. How will lack of causation ever heal that? In fact, the constant correlation casts doubt on the dubious claim of lack of causation.

    Since, as you say, ‘not all homosexual males are promiscuous’ those that are not must be driving the average down. In which case, the track record of the others must be even worse in order to produce the 400% average increase on heterosexual rates.

  • Christopher Shell

    So you would rather go with a pithy generalisation form Disraeli rather than respect the labours of thousands of researchers who have put in millions of hours of research, in the hope of getting accurate conclusions? If so, that is lazy.

    How else to get accurate conclusions apart from through large-scale science and statistics? Should we listen to the small-scale personal observations of one person instead? And if so, who decides who that one person should be?

    I didn’t say that ‘some gay people’ or ‘some heterosexual people’ get STDs. I said that, even in an age when heterosexual STIs are becoming ever more rife because of the false normalities that are being promulgated and the disastrous anti-Christian ‘sexual revolusion’, the rates of infection are massively different. Please respond to this point about different rates, because if you avoid it, all participants will be able to see that you are avoiding it. For example, two different mathematicians independently confirmed to Dr Peter May (Debunking the Myths Conference, June 2014, Westminster) that a homosexual man is around 1088 times

    more likely to catch HIV than the average person. Your whole message is that there is equality in these matters. You are therefore preaching that 1088 is the same number as 1. Would you as a parent or teacher teach your children that 1088 is the same number as 1?

    The difference is massive, stratrospheric, enormous. Please respond to this precise point, not to some vaguely related point. Many thanks.

    As for paragraphs 4-5 – if they are hard to understand, the thing to do is to ask me or to make a greater effort. I made two main points: (1) that intelligent people would not use the word ‘relationships’ in such a vague way, but would define whether they were talking ‘sexual’ or ‘non-sexual’, since that factor is key to determining whether or not there is anything objectionable or harmful involved; (2) that when asked question A in a debate, one should not answer question B instead, otherwise people will think you are avoiding question A and will think ‘aha – I know why s/he is avoiding that particular one’.

  • Christopher Shell

    So open ears and empathy are an *alternative* to accurate scientific information. It is an either/or, is it?

    If you were in a science exam, would you begin your answer, ‘I know you have asked me a scientific question, but let me instead tell you my life story’.

    We are very happy to hear your life story when that is the topic under discussion. You are not at liberty to change the subject away from science when science is the topic under discussion. Not only is it irrelevant but it is avoiding the question, and the only reason for avoiding the question (which, by the way, is not something done by honest people) is that one knows that the weakness of one’s position is going to be exposed.

  • Christopher Shell

    (2) This commits the cardinal error of somehow assuming that personal experience and scholarly research are alternatives. That is so clearly an error. Wee need to learn all we can from both of these things: both research and experience. The last way we are going to learn is by *excluding * one of them – particularly the very one which is the source of our objective information. Surely you can see that.

    (3) You say that gay acts among animals make my unnaturalness argument ridiculous – yet I have, as you mentioned, already distinguished between at least two separate meanings of ‘natural’.

    You should respond to the point about anal intercourse in mammals, for several reasons. (a) I have rarely met a homosexual person who will admit that AI is medially damaging without changing the subject. But that is dishonest and is a cop-out, effectively conceding the debate. (b) It is anal intercourse which has traditionally been what Christians object to, and if it is rare in nature that just makes it all the less able to be called ‘natural’ in *any* of the several senses of the word ‘natural’.

    I think what you call the sex-act is biologically the natural fulfilment of the other behaviours you describe.

    (4) One can, and frequently will, have passionate feelings about people separate from marriage or intended marriage. There are societies where sexual expression of these is not a norm or really an option, and in these societies people learn restraint and maturity.
    Acting on every feeling is a sign of more-animal, less-civilised. With all the fallout that will later bring on all sides.

    (5) Well, of course there are relationships that one encourages and those one does not. Discouraged relationships include sexual ones between close relatives, between teacher and pupil – there are many examples.

    People are promiscuous because they expect (not always correctly) that it will be fun, and because they have animal urges.
    Homosexuals are mostly not longing to get married, since if they were a far, far higher proportion would have leapt at the chance. It is extremely common for them to suppose that they have more freedom without formal ties.

    On sexual promiscuity being a more male thing: I agree, and so do the statistics. Relationship instability is higher among lesbians, though.

    Long-term ‘relationships’ – why do ‘relationships’ (ambiguous word) have to involve precisely two people? (Clue: they don’t.) For spouses and parents there is a biological answer. What answer is there for you, though?

    Just one person’s real experience is far, far too small-scale to draw any conclusions from. That is why one has to go to large-scale random-sample studies. Surely you know that?
    In any case, the large-scale studies will be drawing their data from large numbers of people’s real experience anyway. Large-scale incorporates small-scale – so it is completely illogical and contrary to think small-scale is better or more conclusive than large-scale.

  • Rebecca

    Chris,

    Oddly, because I can’t sign in, I am missing some replies to messages. If I don’t respond, it is because I haven’t seen what you’ve written. Should that happen in the future, please accept my apologies.

    2) I’m extremely confused by this response. I did not suggest that we should discount scholarly research. I stated that for my purposes above, I was not going to focus on it, because Vicky has provided a long list of resources. In addition, I can suggest to you many other resources which may be helpful to you.

    I am a researcher in my field, and rely heavily upon quantitative studies as I investigate areas of inquiry. It is because I am well aware of the potential short-comings of any quantitative investigation, particularly when examining a subject that would lend itself much better to the nuances of qualitative queries, that I know we cannot rely upon statistical measures unless a host of conditions are met. I discuss these things in a response on this site.

    It is you who have made the rather cardinal error of assuming that scholarly research should be the sole basis of serious consideration of this matter, while simultaneously disregarding the real experiences of your lesbian brothers and sisters as somehow irrelevant to the conversation. These are very serious matters of individual spirituality, and fundamentally for those of us who are gay or lesbian, fundamental matters of the heart. You cannot meet us through quantitative data, and you cannot hear our hearts through scholarly research alone. As I have suggested elsewhere on this blog, I highly encourage you to sit down and have dinner with some gay and lesbian people- listen to their stories, and show God’s love to them in a real and personal way. If you do that, perhaps some real communication between you could take place. You may never agree. But at least you will have accomplished more bridge-building than division.

    3) You have an exceptionally strange hyper-focus on external male same-gender penetrative sex acts. It’s incredibly odd. It is almost as though you have no true understanding of all of the physical behaviors that human beings utilize with one another to physically express love. In marriage, the physical expression is a manifestation of internal love- not just a sex act removed from that context. When a sex act is removed from that context, it is what we call “lustful”, and results in negative things- promiscuity or rape. To look at anyone’s relationship- heterosexual or homosexual- in purely sexual terms “misses the forest for the trees”. Additionally, you seem to be unable to address this idea in any of your responses. I would be interested in hearing a response.

    Because you seem determined, I will respond to the above, but this is it. I do not wish to discuss external sex acts with you again. That is not what is at issue here, and your insistence that I do so suggests that you do not have a true understanding of the way sexuality functions in loving relationships.

    3) “You say that gay acts among animals make my unnaturalness argument ridiculous – yet I have, as you mentioned, already distinguished between at least two separate meanings of ‘natural’.”

    Chris, did you read my response? I brought up the “unnaturalness” argument tongue-in-cheek to rebut the idea that same-gender sexual behavior is somehow “against nature” in the sense of not naturally occurring in the world. To the rest of it, your provided definition, “healthy”, is not even a synonym of the word “natural”. I’m not sure how to respond to a some of the rest of this, because you don’t seem to have understood my response.

    “You should respond to the point about anal intercourse in mammals, for several reasons. (a) I have rarely met a homosexual person who will admit that AI is medially damaging without changing the subject. But that is dishonest and is a cop-out, effectively conceding the debate. (b) It is anal intercourse which has traditionally been what Christians object to, and if it is rare in nature that just makes it all the less able to be called ‘natural’ in *any* of the several senses of the word ‘natural’.”

    Again, I find your hyper-focus on the anal sex act extremely odd. In addition, you skipped right over my actual argument and have again re-focused this discussion on something that is irrelevant to the spiritual and emotional aspects of homosexual persons lives. Nevertheless, because you insist, here goes:

    (a) Anal intercourse does not have to be damaging. Both heterosexual and homosexual people engage in anal intercourse. I absolutely will not explain to you in this context how it may be both safe and fulfilling for various persons- you may utilize Google for that.

    (b) I understand that it is anal intercourse among males that Christians have traditionally objected to. It is, actually, quite a fascinating aspect of this entire discussion that female same-gender sexual behavior is mentioned only once in the entire Bible!

    “if it is rare in nature that just makes it all the less able to be called ‘natural’ in *any* of the several senses of the word ‘natural’.

    Chris, “healthy” is not a synonym. There are two uses of the words that have been translated as “nature” in our scripture: 1) part of the naturally occurring world; of nature, and 2) that which is usual, ordinary, expected. Your above statement is a fallacy for more than one reason.

    (4) One can, and frequently will, have passionate feelings about people separate from marriage or intended marriage. There are societies where sexual expression of these is not a norm or really an option, and in these societies people learn restraint and maturity.Acting on every feeling is a sign of more-animal, less-civilised. With all the fallout that will later bring on all sides.

    Indeed, my brother! No argument from me here. That is why those of us with unchosen, enduring and morally neutral same-gender orientation wish to limit ourselves to one mutually loving and monogamous partner. That is why all persons should strive to do the same.

    5) Homosexuals are mostly not longing to get married, since if they were a far, far higher proportion would have leapt at the chance. It is extremely common for them to suppose that they have more freedom without formal ties.

    Chris, this is a completely false statement made by someone who obviously has not had personal contact with loving and long-term couples. In fact, this is so dehumanizing as to be personally offensive to me, and I believe after this response, my communication with you will be finished.

    You are wrong. Gay people do not want freedom. They are not different from you. They are human beings who fall in love, make commitments and want the same things in life that you want. I have been waiting my entire life for the right to marry the person I love, and to be able to legally tie ourselves together and be recognized as family beneath the law. I have been waiting seventeen years for that right, and I wait, still. The numbers of persons flocking to get married in each state in the U.S. in which bans are slowly being overturned are astronomical, given the fact that the windows have only been open a few days until they are put on hold while under appeal. In fact, 18,000 (that’s 36,000 individuals in long-term and committed relationships) married during the short window of time until Proposition 8 was instituted and same-gender marriage again became illegal in California. And surely your common sense will tell you that, as with heterosexuals, not all individuals are in long-term relationships, and not all of them choose to marry. And they CERTAINLY are not all running around in wild promiscuity. It is the very false perception that they are, that allows continued negative attitudes towards same-gender relationships.

    My dear brother, I wish you could open your eyes and your heart to the human beings around you who love their spouses with all of their hearts- and very much wish to get married, but to whom marriage is denied. And truly, truly- as I have mentioned many other times on this blog, we need to encourage stability and monogamy for gay people the same way we do for straight people- because it is what is best for people. I am rather shocked by your inability to see these people as human beings just like you.

    5) Long-term ‘relationships’ – why do ‘relationships’ (ambiguous word) have to involve precisely two people? (Clue: they don’t.) For spouses and parents there is a biological answer. What answer is there for you, though?
    My brother, they don’t. What is at issue here is whether or not homosexuals may enter into long-term and covenanted marriage with each other. What word would you like me to use? Relationship seems fairly appropriate, given that, thus-far, marriage is denied to me. Praise the Lord, it won’t be denied much longer, however! And I truly cannot wait for the day that I am able to legally tie myself to the person I love most. I am more thankful for her presence in my life than for any other beautiful blessing God has bestowed upon me. Thank you, Lord, for love, even for such as me.

    6) “Just one person’s real experience is far, far too small-scale to draw any conclusions from. That is why one has to go to large-scale random-sample studies. Surely you know that?
    In any case, the large-scale studies will be drawing their data from large numbers of people’s real experience anyway. Large-scale incorporates small-scale – so it is completely illogical and contrary to think small-scale is better or more conclusive than large-scale.”
    Chris, you need to go do some investigation regarding the nature of quantitative research, and compare it with qualitative research. Then you need to read about why researchers choose to utilize one method or the other, or a combination of both, to best address areas of inquiry. You need to understand concepts like “confounding variables” and “similar conditions”. Perhaps these things will help you to better understand what you are reading.
    With that, my friend, our conversation is over. I wish you well in everything that you do, I wish you the peace of our Lord, and I wish you a life of being able to show His amazing and miraculous love to others. I hope your life will provide you many opportunities to get to know, and to love, some homosexual people- particularly those with partners or legal spouses. I think you will be surprised at what you learn.
    In Chris,
    Rebecca

  • Rebecca

    Chris,
    See my above reply. I am not going to respond to this. I believe my views have been covered rather extensively elsewhere.
    Blessings to you.
    In Christ,
    Rebecca

  • Rebecca

    Chris,
    Please see replies in other areas. I believe I’ve explained my views extremely clearly.
    In Christ,
    Rebecca

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Science isn’t the topic, gay marriage is the topic and specifically the blog author’s statement of her support for it. We’re not in a science exam and I think that Rebecca has been extremely patient and courteous with you. More than I feel I have and that is to her credit as a Christian. Presumably as a Christian you can believe a lot of unscientific things ( e.g original sin, virgin births, angels, miracles), which are believed in not via ‘proof’, but by faith & belief, so I wouldn’t go pinning all of my argument on science alone. I say that as someone with a scientific background.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    I haven’t avoided any of the points you are making toward me and they’ve been answered as far as I’m concerned, you simply don’t like the conclusions drawn and I don’t like the ones you have made, such is the nature of discussion and debate. The only thing I’d add is that this debate cannot be had on scientific and rational grounds because we are dealing with human beings who have feelings and emotions. I’m going to leave our discussion here, though, so take care.

    Hannah

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Thanks for the reply David. I’ve been on holiday, but back now in time for the fast of the 17th. I’ll consider what you have written in my own space, as I said to Chris(above) I’m bowing out of this part of the discussion thread.

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    Thanks for your kind words. Perhaps, our dialogue will encourage those who think that all such conversations are a bad mistake because they inevitably descend into ugly exchanges of condemnation.

    1. Let me clarify this further. In the OT, apart from Job’s defiant belief in his vindication (‘I know that my redeemer lives’), the resurrection is only implied. OT passages could easily be interpreted as poetic licence, and not as a declaration of the author’s belief in eternal life.

    Yet, from the divine declaration that YHWH is simultaneously the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Christ simply deduces from its present tense phrasing of the divine revelation that the three patriarchs must be alive beyond the grave in the divine dimension of existence. ‘He is not the God of the dead, but of the living’ (Mark 12:27). Quite right too, as Isaiah put it: ‘For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise.’ (Is. 38:18, cf. Ps. 115:17)

    So, let’s apply your inductive (and not deductive) reasoning to the question of divorce for any cause. By logical induction, you could say (as the Pharisees and Hillel did) that, far from silent, the Law of Moses was clear that divorce was permissible with the only qualification being for the husband to ensure that he gave his wife a certificate of divorce:

    They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” (Mark 10:4)

    At this point, Christ deduced from the Genesis archetype that divorce might have been permitted, but was never God’s intention for marriage.

    So, please explain why you can’t apply the process of deduction from Genesis to the issue of a couple’s gender, but you can apply it to other issues from divorce to even what is not explicitly declared about eunuchs.

    2. Why on earth would it matter how MANY inter-sexual people are placed in this kind of moral conundrum? The fact that ANY exist, and that these things are well beyond their control, demands that we reconsider a male-female paradigm into which they do not fit.

    First, in response to your: ‘I’m not sure what to make of…’ question, I meant that a statistically significant proportion of the tiny inter-sex minority cannot determine that gender should be removed from law of marriage for the whole society. By comparison, there’s a minority of people who experience genetic sexual attraction to a family member . It’s a unchosen and internal attraction. That doesn’t justify changing the law of marriage against adult incest because OT writers could not possibly have had that type of attraction in mind.

    In terms of the logical fallacy, you are destroying the exception (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accident_(fallacy). Based on no more than the *existence* of a minority of gender exceptions (inter-sexuality), you are arguing that gender should be irrelevant to marriage. In fact, if inter-sexuals don’t fit into the male-female paradigm, it only makes the case for inter-sexuals to have a different commitment institution; one that does not confer joint legal parenthood on couples who could never be joint natural parents of each other’s children.

    A small proportion of those with inter-sex characteristics does not make the case for marriage’s male-female paradigm of marriage to be altered. This is what I meant when I said of marriage: ‘”The proportion of those with inter-sex cannot undermine the normative congruence between gender and orientation.”

    The law of marriage is based on the normative alignment (if that’s a better word than congruence) between gender and sexual orientation. In particular, that alignment explains why marriage bestows the husband with the rebuttable presumption that he is the father of his wife’s children. This is part of the estate or entitlement of marriage.

    If that presumption is applied to a same-sex relationship, it is always open to rebuttal by any party whom the couple involve in producing a child. I mean, imagine what would happen if a lesbian spouse’s co-parenthood could always be rebutted by biological paternity.

    For the parental presumption (a key entitlement of marriage) to be applicable to same-sex couples and grant them family recognition, that law would have to change (and, in some states, has changed) to ensure that it could never be rebutted by contrary evidence of the child’s biological parenthood.

    This would change marriage for everyone. You would have to base the presumption of parenthood solely on the intention of the couple as demonstrated by their marriage.

    Behaving homosexually if you are homosexual is not “indulging in a predisposition” unless behaving heterosexually if you are heterosexual is “indulging in a predisposition”. I disagree because we can deduce which sexual predispositions were created and endorsed by God (heterosexual monogamy),since they preceded mankind’s Fall from innocence.

    Also, this understanding of the Genesis archetype is consonant with the Levitical prohibition: ‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.’ (Leviticus 18:22). You really can’t explain away NT condemnation of homosexuality as solely referring to temple prostitution. You would have to say that the Bible is silent on homosexual temple prostitution. Alternatively, you could selectively begin to apply deduction. But if you can do that here, why not with gender in Genesis?

    3. ‘This passage speaks first of intentional turning from God, God turning from them as a result, lustful behavior (“passions”), along with a long list of other sins that result. ‘
    Yes, it speaks firstly of that, but in that list of other sins is the final concomitant of the Gentile rejection of the God who is self-evident through nature: ‘Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.’ Within Gentile societies, there was a rejection of what was self-evident and consonant with nature. There was an acceptance of behavior that was against nature (para phusis).

    The fact that the scripture is not primarily about this does not matter. It charts full-blown moral descent of Gentile society. It is preceded by St. Paul’s explanation of his unabashed eagerness to preach the gospel everywhere. ‘That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

    He continues to explain why the gospel is the only means by which Gentile and Jew can become right with God. The reason is the universal guilt of mankind: ‘For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness’ The ensuing verses simply explain what man has done and how divine wrath works. What matters is that not one Jew, nor a single Gentile can avoid the finger of inescapable guilt before God. That still doesn’t mean that same-sex relationships are not depicted as the final concomitant of the Gentile rejection of the self-evident ordering for human relationships. Paul’s point is that, despite the revealed will of God, the Jews are no better for it.

    The distinction between Jew and Gentile was very much behavioral That’s your position, but St. Paul claims that the difference is the privilege of explicit divine revelation: ‘What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar.’ (Rom:3:1 – 3)

    St,. Paul sees no substantial behavioural differences between faithful Jews and Greeks in Christ. He targets the ritual distinction of circumcision (that might not typify the person’s behavioural devotion) when he says: ‘A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.’ (Rom. 2:28, 29)

    So, exempting ‘two people with an unchosen and internal orientation who love the Lord and love each other, and are in committed union.’ from the scope of Romans 1:18 – 25 is somewhat begging the question. It doesn’t prove your argument to merely assert the spiritual virtues of same-sex couples (‘love the Lord and love each other’) without proving that the nature of that relationship can be deduced as consistent with the Genesis archetype.

    The traditional position also tallies with the reasoning behind Leviticus 18 prohibitions. For instance, other divine prohibitions are explained as one of the many external marks of ritual separation signifying God’s redemptive ownership of Israel (‘For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves).

    As you know, Christ ended the Levitical food restrictions by saying: ‘For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) Mark 7:19. In contrast, He maintained that sexual prohibitions continued to defile the heart because they cannot be eliminated like food. They arise from parts of the personality that can engulf our whole being.

    In contrast, Leviticus 18 proscriptions are explained as such severe violations of the intended natural order that even the natural world find them intolerable: ‘Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you. And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants’ (Lev. 18:24,25)

    4. If the word that has been translated as “eunuch” meant more than one thing at that time, it means more than one thing now. If that word did not refer solely to physically castrated males then, it does not refer solely to physically castrated males now. It is important to take that into consideration when trying to interpret the meaning of the verse.

    Even if, as you claim, Matt. 19:12 is in debate, the fact that a word was used in other ancient texts a broader ancient than physical castration does not grant licence to select a context favourable to your cause today.

    Nevertheless, let’s go with that principle of broader interpretation. It would also mean that St.Paul’s denunciation in Romans should encompass not only temple prostitution, but also all instances in which the natural sexual function is abandoned for that which is ‘para phusin’; where male desire for same-sex relations overtakes and cause complete abandonment of the natural purpose of the female in sexual relations.

    Suddenly, taking into consideration that a phrase like ‘para phusin’ could mean more than one thing becomes a ‘no-no’. It’s important to be consistent.

    5. ‘The scriptures provide examples of following the letter of the law without a right spirit (these examples are viewed negatively) and examples of not following the letter of the law with a right spirit, and these things are not viewed negatively

    In scripture, the letter refers to the excessive prioritization of ceremony and externalisms. Sexual relationships are not externalisms. Christ declared that unlike OT dietary defilement misdirected sexual desire corrupts from the inside out. If I dispense with this as the mere letter of the law, it is demonstrable proof of not being right with God.
    It has been an interesting dialogue.

  • Rebecca

    Chris,
    You have consistently avoided responding to the things I’ve said. As a result, I am no longer willing to converse with you. I wish you no ill-will, and, as I said above, I hope that your life will provide you the opportunity to get to know some loving and committed gay couples. I believe you would learn a great deal.
    In Christ,
    Rebecca

  • Rebecca

    David,
    Wow- this will take me some time to read and formulate a response. I will do that, but am heading into a busy and demanding week. It may be several days or so before I can respond. I promise that I will try to do that soon.
    Regarding your first comment, unfortunately, these things do degenerate into shouting matches. Division among God’s people is the result. While I think respectful and intelligent disagreement is a good thing, and usually inspires insight on both sides, many people are not capable of this. I believe that is why Vicky believed she should not deeply engage in this format. I tend to agree with her. My personal experience, unfortunately, has been punctuated by incredibly hateful speech and behavior- I have been accused of being anti-Christ and anti-God, a pervert, an apostate, and have been told that I am damned and God hates me. And that was by people who know me. The anonymous comments are much, much worse. I believe she was right to handle this the way that she has.
    You and I, and some others here, are capable of discussion in this way. Most people are not.
    With that, I promise that I will respond soon. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I look forward to considering it all fully.
    Rebecca

  • http://u-church.blogspot.com/ David Shepherd

    1. My first point is simply that if you’d avoid using comparing opponents of same-sex marriage to racists, I’ll continue to avoid categorising homosexual acts with incest and bestiality. Both are offensive parallels.

    2. ‘A heterosexual couple who remarries so that the step-father or step-mother becomes legal parent via marriage, but the original biological parent remains a legal parent is a parallel situation.

    Although I know the UK legal framework, I’ve also checked the US situation. Step-parents do not become legal parents of their spouse’s children via marriage. That requires an adoption procedure which means that it must involve the consent of a ‘committed and responsible’ biological parent. What if such a father does not consent to the adoption? Do you legally enforce the couple’s parenthood of his child?

    Marriage may be a legal contract between two persons, but one of its automatic legal entitlements is to prioritise the couple’s joint parentage of the birth mother’s offspring.

    In order to uphold the biological father’s rights, the law would have to divest marriage of its standard automatic presumption of joint legal parenthood and replace it with mandatory contractual conception for all possibilities of non-clinical third party involvement in reproduction. The system would involve a ‘big government’ intrusion into family privacy.

    3. In these situations, you have also alluded to idea that, in the absence of a contract, you would favour the possibility of a child having three legal parents. Imagine the impact of that on the child in a custody dispute. And if three parents, why not four, or five (i.e. recognising the infertile commissioning couple, egg and sperm donor and gestational mother)?

    And here was I thinking that proponents were insisting that the consequences of SSM proposals would not affect the laws of marriage for the rest of us.

    It’s clear that, through unjust presumption via marriage, it does just that. That’s not equality. That’s blind uniformity: like claiming that US citizenship is an unconditional human right; that any eligibility conditions are inherently prejudiced.

    Just plain wrong.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Rebecca

    I may be blind, I don’t see any place elsewhere where you address this particular point. Could you refer me to it?

    Thanks

    Chris

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Rebecca

    I am not your ‘friend’, nor do I know you, nor do you know me. But I always like to be friends with people, which is a very good thing.

    You say that I think scholarly investigation should be our sole concern. 3 points here:
    (1) I frequently say that we should discuss both scholarly research and personal experience. The more things one investigates, the truer one’s picture should be. It is simply undeniable that the one thing I am always beiong most strongly against is the either/or approach (one should also take a both/and approach). Time and again my comments are anti- the either/or approach, since the either/or approach is a logical error. You then suggest that I myselt am taking the either/or approach (scholarship alone ; forget experience). I am taking the approach which I continually criticise? No – everything including experience should be discussed. It is always more illuminating to discuss anything than to avoid discussing it, and that includes personal experience.

    (2) You present a false dichotomy, because personal experience is one of the things that can be the topic of scholarly study anyway. Many statistical studies are tabulating people’s personal experience.

    (3) If the choice is between personal experience analysed in a scholarly manner, and personal experience not analysed in a scholarly manner, everyone agrees the first is preferable.

    (4) If the choice is between the personal experience of large numbers of people analysed and averaged out and the personal experience of few people (or one person!!!) analysed and averaged out, then everyone agrees the first is preferable.

    You say that Vicky has ‘provided a long list of resources’. She has provided a very short list indeed, notable for what it leaves out. There are no New Testament scholars who deny that the NT is strongly opposed to same-gender quasi-sexual activity whenever it is clearly mentioned. One would never guess that from her booklist! Every single scholarly / critical commentary on Romans and 1 Corinthians (such as would be used in the great universities of the world) disagrees with her not only slightly but utterly. But where is her scholarly track record to compare with that of the writers in question? On Romans the most full and closely-analysed critical commentaries are (e.g.) Moo, Barrett, Cranfield, Jewett, FItzmyer, Wright. On 1 Corinthians, Thiselton, Fee, Barrett, Fitzmyer, RF Collins.

    VIcky then compounds this by implying that she already broadly knows what she is going to conclude at the end of her research which she has scarcely begin. It is axiomatic that a scholar cannot know what they are going to conclude. If they are truly scholarly they will know that their expectations may well be confounded.

    On (3) I have said before that most human relationships are not sexual at all. When they are there needs to be a justification for this. I am scarcely going to bother discussing things we all affirm, such as love. The discussion must therefore (as always) focus on the point of disagreement – namely, the sexual dimension. If acts are medically above-average harmful and/or have no biological purpose, it is unclear why we should be bullied into affirming them.
    Of course we are going to separate out the dimensions of a question where we disagree from those where we agree. The latter are not worth discussing. This applies in any discussion on any topic, and you must be aware of that.

    On (4) your familiarity with research should make you admit that monogamy of the nature you describe is practically non-existent between 2 men (and of course quasi-sexual and/or exclusive relationships between 2 women are even shorter on average). Outside families there is not the motivation for it ever to become otherwise. Discussion on this topic are meaningless unless one confronts the sorts of average exclusive-relationship-length which in the real world we are talking about here.

    I do not see ‘these people’ as human beings? Which gender then?
    Not all humans want monogamy. It is against our instincts.

    (5) The reason why you should avoid the use of the word ‘relationship’ in an absolute sense is obvious. I have a ‘relationship’ with my daughters. With my parents. With the dustman. With acquaintances on the street. With pets. So do you. The word is vague, and scholarly people always eschew vague words. Particularly since the more vague they are the more they can be used in slippery arguments. Have you ever paused to consider the totally meaningless one-word slogans people use? Choice. Equality. Diversity. Reconciliation. Change. All crying out to be unpacked and defined. All neutral things rather than being exclusively or intrinsically good or bad.

    You keep on making the irrelevant point that *all* homosexuals are not running around in promiscuity. So it is an all-or-nothing matter? I have repeated that I am insterested in those occasions where the bad stats generated by homosexuals are at a widely different level than those generated by others. In debate we should follow the rule: if people shy away from comparative percentages and try to present things as all-or-nothing, challenge them. Surely they realise that nothing in life is all-or-nothing.

    (6) I need to understand concepts like ‘similar conditions’, you say. That one really stretches my brainpower. Could it be that it refers to occasions where ‘conditions’ are ‘similar’?? (This is a wild stab in the dark, of course.)

    ‘With that, our conversation is over’, you say. My understanding of debate is that it takes place between equals, who discuss centrally-important matters like when something is ‘over’, rather than imposing it from on high (thus confirming that you consider yourself to be the superior debate-partner, the one who dictates the shots). Imposing it from on high can be jolly useful if there are tough questions one wants to avoid answering.

  • Rebecca

    Chris,

    Please see my responses in their totality. Particularly those in relation to statistical measures related to the promiscuous behaviors of some individuals, and our need to encourage stable and monogamous relationships wherever we encounter it, both among heterosexuals and homosexuals. Please see my comments about the impacts of societal, familial, religious and legal condemnation and exclusion on homosexual persons. Until a large-scale, randomized study is able to speak to the CAUSES of promiscuous behavior among homosexual men, it is not meaningful to our discussion to discuss solely the fact that many of them behave promiscuously. Please also see my comments in regard to the hundreds of thousands of homosexual people who have sought marriage as it has become legal, in addition to my own experience of living in commitment and waiting for that legal right for 17 years. Please finally see my comments about the fact that you have consistently avoided responding to what I have actually written.

    I apologize that my statement that our conversation is over sounded as though I am placing myself above you and speaking from on high. That was not my intent. I desire for our dialogue to be finished as a result of the fact that you have avoided speaking directly to the things I have written, and have done so with insinuations of my avoiding research when it is inconvenient, insinuations of dishonesty and a focus on external behaviors that, as I have mentioned many times, are not the true heart of the matter.

    Please allow me now to end our discussion in peace and a right spirit. You are correct- you are not my friend and we do not know each other. I apologize that I used that term. You are, however, my brother in Christ, and I wish you the peace and love of our Lord.

    Rebecca

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Stephen

    Evangelicals are the largest single group within Anglicahism last time I checked.

    Also, the disciples of Jesus (not to mention Jesus) were far more evangelical than anyone I can see around today.

  • Christopher Shell

    Being at odds with Anglicanism makes something wrong??

    Being traditional (as opposed to being in line with the original understanding) is a virtue?

  • Christopher Shell

    The chice – non-choice dichotomy is obviously false, because there are other alternatives. Addictions are things which people are quite obviously not born with, and in many cases they hate them and certainly would not choose them either.

    If the idea is that everything we are not born with is a choice, then anyone can see that that idea is untrue.

  • Christopher Shell

    Rebecca, seems like you are still reserving the right to stand over and outside (rather than within) the debate. This is a right I would never presume for myself, even if it made sense. Debates end when issues are solved. I don’t understand why people opt out of them, since they have their whole lives ahead of them and there is no rush.

    Causes of promiscuous behaviour? Who says that no studies have been done already on this?? Further: to anyone who knows human nature, it is clear that many men get all the sex they can – and the removal of societal taboo/disapproval means that indeed they can.

    They expect to enjoy it, even if they do not in fact (or: law of diminishing returns).
    Unless you seek to change human nature, this will go on happening and it is not clea how anyone who operates by the tenets of the sexual revolution can stop it. To Christians, it is clear how to stop it. You merely observe that it has not ever been thus, and it is not everywhere thus today. So replicate the societies where it is not thus. Those are the societies where the said disapproval and taboo still exists, to mutual benefit.

  • Rebecca

    Chris,

    It is clear how to stop it. Treat all humans with dignity. Stop telling gay people that they are all promiscuous, lust-driven beings whose most profound relationship equates to nothing more than a sex act. Recognize the love between persons, and encourage monogamy. Treat them with the dignity, respect and deference with which you would like to be treated. Provide positive and strong models, and stop dehumanizing them by describing them solely in sexual terms.

    Your refusal to do the above, and your persistence in engaging in passive-aggressive slights (“To Christians, it is clear how to stop it” – implication: you are not a Christian) while continuing to refuse to address the things I have posited has led me to believe that a constructive debate is not possible with you.

    As such, again- please. Allow me now to end our discussion in peace and a right spirit.

    In Christ,

    Rebecca

  • Christopher Shell

    If there are indeed abusive comments (and I have found these to be far more characteristic of secularists than of Christians – witness for example the mediawatchwatch blog and the responses to Michael L Brown detailed in his book ‘A Queer Thing Happened’) then please show us where and what they are, since I didn’t see any.

  • Steve Foster

    Vicky mentions in her post above that she had received negative comments and I was alerted by a mutual friend that Vicky was being subjected to quite a lot of negative comments in lots of different places … clearly I was sending a message of support to Vicky … I have worked with Greenbelt for many years and was just saying I would buy her a cup of coffee if I see her … that’s all … sometimes comments are exactly what they say they are … there is no argument to be had here scriptural or otherwise … supportive and a cup of coffee that’s it

  • Christopher Shell

    Yes, gay marriage is the topic, but how on earth can we reach accurate conclusions about it if we ignore science, which is the number-one means of reaching accurate answers.

    In any case, who are you to say that science should be ignored? Scholars should and will go on using science, because they use all possible means of arriving at the right answer, so they are scarcely going to discard the best means of all!

    You say ‘we’re not in a science exam’. If you have not strudied the science of this topic, how are your conclusions worth as much as the conclusions of those who have? That would be a bit like saying that my own conclusions on astrophysics were equally valuable to those of an astrophysics specialist. If I were to claim that, you’d rightly reject the claim, and reject it strongly.

    You speak of patience and courtesy. Can we concentrate on substance not on style. That is what debate is about, and the whole point is that we are having a debate and seeking truth (those who drop out of it are obviously not actually seeking truth at all and therefore are in the debate under false pretences). Of course we will be courteous and polite – you will never get any swearing or insults from me. But one can easily be courteous and polite and wrong. Unfortunately it is also perfectly possible to be rude and right, not that I ever plan to be rude myself. It is undeniably possible. In fact, people very very often cover up the fact that they have not studied a topic by being polite and hoping that will gain them ‘points’. It won’t.

    I never mentioned that I was a Christian.

    Not do you know which things I believe or do not believe in. The truth of the matter is very far removed from the way you (as someone who does not know me) portray it. I believe in things that there is sufficient evidence for. It is only evidence that can make me believe anything. Hence my emphasis on science and statistics, which I share with the entire scholarly community.

    You seem to think there is something called ‘faith and belief’ which is different from evidence-based belief. In the New Testament ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are not two different words but 2 ways of translating the same word. Just like today, one believes in things that there is sufficient but not 100% evidence for. 100% evidence is very rare indeed in any sphere. You seem to think that the NT speaks of belief that is *not* evidence based. There are only 2or 3 passages in the entire NT that can be cited in support of that: the passage at the start of Hebrews (faith is the evidence of things not seen), and the one in 2 Corinthians (we walk by faith and not by sight). The two passages are making the same point as each other and as is explicit in the Hebrews passage, reliance on evidence is very much the point. John 20 says that ‘blessed are those who have not seen but yet have believed’. This does not involve any redefinition of what belief is: ie belief still remains a conclusion that something is probably true. However the semantic range of pistis (the Greek word) involves trust and commitment towards someone already proven trustworthy. So if you think the New Testament advocates belief that is not based on evidence, and thinks that evidence should not be the criterion for belief, there is practically no evidence for that. This is however the uninformed (Dawkins, man in the street, tabloid) way of viewing Christian faith and belief. It is not based in actual Christianity or in the New Testament.

    Do make use of your scientific background by engaging the findings on homosexual average life-expectancy, promiscuity, susceptibility to disease, and indulgence in harmful drugs and in harmful sexual or quasi-sexual practices.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Chris

    “I never mentioned that I was a Christian.”

    What faith are you then, or are you an atheist ? I apologise if you are not a Christian. As I said below, I’m not taking the discussion any further, so won’t respond to the rest of the post.

  • Christopher Shell

    Scholars try to be accurate to the texts. They cannot come to the texts with presuppositions. If anyone comes to the texts with ‘conservative evangelical’ presuppositions or ‘radical’ presuppositions or any other kind of presuppositions they are not a proper scholar, since scholarship consists in presuppositionless analysis.

    Conclusions may end up fitting a conservative evangelical, or radical, or any other, worldview. But one never knows in advance of the discussion/analysis whether that will happen.

    The confusion here is between the way that scholars and honest people do things (on the one hand) and the way that people who are obsessed with what they *want* the answer to be (regardless of the evidence) do things (on the other hand). Do not waste even a second in discussion with the latter (is my advice).

  • Christopher Shell

    Vicky – I think some people are confused because they don;t see how that prevents you contributing now as well.

    On a related point, it’s clearly not possible to know in advance of your research what your conclusions will be – that’s right, isn’t it?

    Best

    Chris.

  • Christopher Shell

    Kate – the issue is the relative proportions and percentages of homosexuals and heterosexuals who ‘mess up’ (e.g. in promiscuity, STIs, proportion of medically dangerous ‘sexual’ acts). Come off it, it would be true that they both mess up even if this applied to 1% of one group and 100% of the other (which, of course, it does not).

    Being ‘open-minded’ means that one studies and researches the topic before coming to a so-called decision. I wish more people would do that research and speak afterwards, rather than vice-versa.

    Best

    Chris.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hannah (or anyone else), could you list the points that have not been answered? I always make a commitment to answering all points directly, especially those that the interlocutor especially wants answered.

    I ‘don’t like the conclusions drawn’? If that were true (and nothing has ever been less true), I would be neither a scholar nor an honest person. One cannot pick and choose which questions one addresses, least of all because one is frightened of the conclusions.

    The debate cannot be had on scientific grounds? So we will end up with a lot of unscientific, i.e. untrue, conclusions.

    If you say that we must leave out science and research you have no business telling anyone to do any such thing. Whoever heard of a debate that left out science and research? It is a contradiction in terms.

    All of us have feelings and emotions. Sometimes the truth itself is upsetting. That does not mean we should be shielded from it.

    Best

    Chris.

  • Christopher Shell

    I am a Christian, very much so. But if ever the evidence seemed to me to point on balance elsewhere, then I would not be one. I am only a Christian on the basis of evidence. I never take anything whatsoever on authority, whether biblical authority or church authority. If there is no evidence for something, then whatever authority says it is true that makes no difference – I will still not believe it.

    Of course being a Christian is an organic thing not just a mental thing.

  • Christopher Shell

    This is the comment I don’t understand. How can you know about the nature of my circle of acquaintances? All readers will find absurd the presupposition that you have any knowledge of that.

  • Christopher Shell

    There are a lot of points here.

    Treat all humans with dignity: yes.

    Stop telling *all* gay people that they are promiscuous? That ‘all’ is a massive misquotation – as all readers will verify. How could I or anyone else make such a massive generalisation? Gay people are promiscuous on average – very much so. And also on aggregate, since aggregate derives directly from average. What on earth does that say about any individual person chosen at random? It only says that they should not be supporting the gay movement as a whole. If they do:
    -They are saying it is fine to increase promiscuity and STIs massively.
    -They are saying it is fine to indulge in things that are very unsafe medically: oral and (especially) anal ‘intercourse’.
    -They are saying that things which could not have been indulged in with contraception in days before contraceptive technology are still somehow ‘natural’.

    People are really going to believe that these things are fine (not).

  • Christopher Shell

    As for ‘the love between persons’, I have said more than once in the sight of all readers that I believe love is good, and so does everyone

    else, so there is nothing else to discuss. You know I said that.

    ‘Encourage monogamy’ – This is a strange request, since I have never done otherwise.

    ‘-gamy’ refers to marriage, and marriage is assumed by the vast majority of cultures and historical periods to refer to the union of a man and a woman in a family normally involving childbearing. No-one can force redefinition of basic concepts. The communists tried to, however.

    ‘Describing them in sexual terms’. For at least the third time, I speak mainly about sexual matters because they are the ocntentious matters here, and it is a waste of time to talk about matters which are not contentious and which we already know we agree upon.

    ‘Passive-aggressive’? Some people psychologise everything, when all I am trying to do is speak the truth as I see it as plainly as possible. The question is whether what I am saying is true or not, not what psychological construct one person may put on it. Even if the psychological construct were 100% correct, it would still not address the central *truth* question, which is what the debate is about.

  • Christopher Shell

    Rebecca, numbers give less of a clear picture than percentages and proportions. We’re talking about well under 10%, aren’t we? Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Christopher Shell

    Kate, when people engage in thorough analysis, it is because they are seriously concerned about reaching the truth. To respond ‘bla, bla, bla’ shows that you are not (or not always) one of those people, and that therefore you are one of those whose analysis should be less listened to.

    How many heterosexuals mess up? Millions, but per head they score far less on promiscuity, STIs, medially harmful ‘sexual’ acts and low life expectancy than do homosexual men, and score far better on longevity of exclusive relationships than do homosexual women. Comparative percentages are the point.

    ‘Natural biological father’ – in other words, ‘father’.

    If you were open-minded, you would listen and try to understand. You would not say ‘bla, bla, bla’ – that’s a giveaway sign of a closed-minded person.

    Families are never simple? This varies from culture to culture. We all agree with extended families and whole villages raising children. But live-in boyfriends, stepparents etc. – no, because there the threat of bad outcomes even including abuse is greatly raised on average. It would be a bit of an unthinking generalisation to say that all family types are (precisely!!) equally as good as one another.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Drew

    You have lost me. I am a New Testament PhD, and I have never heard of anyone who denies that the Romans 1 passage is strongly against homosexual acts, albeit there are those who deny that that is the central point.

    You are confusing 2 things. (1) Is there a ‘range of scholarly interpretations’ on subsidiary interpretative issues? Yes – but no more so for the topic of homosexuality than for any other topic. (2) Is there any doubt that the New Testament is basically strongly opposed to homosexual acts? None whatever – just as there is no doubt it is opposed to stealing, lying, adultery. it is not even equivocal about any of these things. And since (2) rather than (1) is the central issue, then why are so many people wasting so much time?

    Jesus said nothing on the topic? You are serious?
    -He says ‘God made them male and female’ even when that is (a) not an OT quotation, (b) not directly relevant to the issue at hand.
    -He upholds all existing sexual ethics (Mk 7), retaining the previous classification of what is and is not sin (as in Jn 8).
    -In the case of divorce he tightens the restrictions.
    -He never loosens them as far as I can see.

  • http://www.twofriarsandafool.com/ Douglas Underhill

    I think it is telling that you think analysis without presuppositions is possible. I find it much more compelling for a scholar to identify and own their viewpoint and then interpret as they normally would. Pretending that someone is able to be objective about any text makes me suspicious. It seems to mean that either 1. they are not aware of their biases, in which case their interpretation will be compromised and they will be much more likely to make categorical claims, or 2. they know of their bias but are not being honest about it with the reader. But the idea that an interpreter can somehow bypass their conscious and unconscious interpretive framework, past experiences, ideology and so on simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    In short, I would say don’t read anything by a scholar who doesn’t think he or she has any biases as they interpret.

  • Christopher Shell

    Douglas, yours is the majority view. So I will explain why it has always seemed to me to be wrong.

    (1) Some people are more aware of their biases than others. That means different degrees of awareness are possible. Therefore potentially full awareness is possible. On this point (1) – at least on my first 2 sentences – you seem to agree.

    (2) However, by extension some people are more determined to be unbiased than others. That means that one’s possible degree of lack-of-bias is also potentially 100%. In practice it will never be 100% but it will be possible for honest people consciously to maximise it.

    (3) You underestimate how determined people may be to prove that they are proper scholars. Being utterly unbiased is a way of proving that, and therefore can become a bit of a badge of honour. And even if pride were not involved, lack of bias would still be a barometer of scholarliness.

    (4) Most tellingly: By admitting that people can be aware of their biases you must also admit that they can consciously guard against them.

    (5) As for ‘ideology’, I thought that the whole point of being a scholar was to be an enemy of ideology. Ideology is trying to get the conclusion one wants. If one does that, one has dug one’s own grave as a scholar. Yet there remain scholars in the world – plenty of them.

  • http://www.twofriarsandafool.com/ Douglas Underhill

    There are scholars still because scholars, the ones I encountered as an undergrad and graduate student at least, identified their point of view at the beginning of their interpretive work.

    1. Your logic doesn’t follow here. That there are degrees does not imply that absolute yes or absolute no are possible. There is also a ton of evidence from neuroscience that “full awareness” is not possible even of the desk I’m sitting at right now.

    2. Determination to limit one’s bias is laudable – and the way to do this is not to pretend you have none, but to acknowledge them and then work within them, and challenge them, as you interpret. This is why there is more than one scholar in a given subject – they aren’t expositing objective truth. The act of interpretation is irreducibly subjective. Otherwise, by now we would have one history text that covered everything, or the only historical work that would be done would be finding new primary sources, which is not at all the case.

    3. Well, for the four members of my family who are professional scholars working in academia, none of them would try to claim they have no biases. The badge of honor would come from acknowledging their point of view and making use of that in interpretation. In short, there is no badge of honor for pretending you are interpreting perfectly.

    4. Yes, but your contention that they can guard against these biases perfectly is false. I can guard against acting in anger, but I cannot be perfectly impervious to the effects of anger no matter what I do. I can guard against the effects of my biases to a degree, but not acknowledging them is like pretending I don’t feel anger.

    5. I don’t know where this idea of scholarship comes from. There may have been a view in the past that scholarship was the task of revealing the objective truth of a given matter through bias-free interpretation, but I don’t think that is true, nor possible on face value.

    Do you have examples of scholars who claim to have no bias whatsoever? I’m looking over my bookshelf and can’t think of any, and I’ve honestly never met one and known it.

  • lizzy_tu

    Reading the ‘best’ rated comments and responses is depressing. I wonder what the worst are like.

    But fundamentally it is a shame to start a dialogue only to cap it almost immediately. I only heard of Vicky because of this debate and now I feel like I’ve been left high and dry.

    The question I have for Vicky is to what extent she thinks this is an issue today because society measures identity by feelings, rather than objective truths? Isn’t this why it is so painful a topic and so terribly brutal to take a stance which says gay behaviour isn’t right?

  • Guest

    Thanks. I will look to see which churches are linked to Fulcrum.

    On the point from one of my previous posts about reasonable conservatives being blind to the homophobes on their “side”, I just had a look at Ian Paul’s blog and unfortunately saw an example of this in the comments section under “Vicky Beeching and the sexuality debate”.

    In part of his response to a commenter (James Byron) who questions the church’s historical behaviour with respect to gay people, Ian states that “I cannot think of a single example in the UK of evangelicals teaching hatred of the gay community.” (This is quite a narrow and defensive response to a wider question. Why not acknowledge the fact that some who label themselves “evangelical” have stoked homophobia rather than instead trying to redefine the question as being about “teaching hatred”?)

    James has provided examples to Ian. Hopefully Ian will be able to see my post here.

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    Christopher,
    I think we have a problem when the fruit of our biblical interpretation is to oppress, exclude or cause suffering in a category of people. Especially when many within that category are seeking to live as faithful, chaste and fruitful disciples of Christ. We’ve certainly been wrong before, for example on biblically justified slavery and apartheid. So couldn’t we be wrong again on sexuality? Jesus’s sustained critique of the Scribes and Pharisees of his day centred on their unmerciful application of the Law (as they interpreted it) to lay intolerable burdens on others (Matt 23:4). It was when I realised I was doing just that in discussions about sexuality that I decided I needed to think again.
    As for what you say about the NT, yes, on the rare occasions that homosexual acts are mentioned it is in a negative light – but there is a good case for saying “this is not that”. I am certainly aware of many same sex couples whose relationships are not expressions of idolatry or rebellion against God but are wholesome, exemplary and, I believe, blessed by God.

  • Richard Jacobson

    Hello, Vicky! Mike Morrell and I really appreciate your blog, and think you’d be an excellent candidate for our Speakeasy Blogger Network. Do you like to review off-the-beaten path faith, spirituality, and culture books? Speakeasy puts interesting books in your hands at no charge to you. You only get books when you request them, and it’s free to join. Sign up here, if you’d like: http://thespeakeasy.info

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    Hi Christopher,

    So are you saying “QED. We can file this and move onto more important topics”? But if it were that simple we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The fact is that many of us from an evangelical background, like Vicky, have found ourselves
    compelled to repent, to think again on this issue. Not because we have lost our Bible or decided to rebel against its clear teaching, but because we have become aware that the fruit of our traditional teaching has been to oppress, harm and exclude people – many of whom are, like us, striving to live chaste, christlike, fruitful lives. Doesn’t that open us to the sustained critique of Jesus towards the scribes and pharisees of his day, who tied up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and laid them on the shoulders of others (Matt 23:4)? Could we be wrong? We’ve
    certainly been wrong before – slavery, apartheid and the treatment of women as mere posessions – all thes were vigorously defended by appeal to scripture. The other charge we open ourselves to is that we “expound one place of Scripture,
    that it be repugnant to another” contra Article XX of the Book of Common Prayer. For example, as we cheerfully apply the Bishops’ “pastoral guidance” and enforce traditional teaching we, clearly in my view, ride roughshod over the requirements of our scriptural remit in passages like 1 Corinthians 12:18-26 to ensure the healthy functioning and flourishing of the whole body of
    Christ. You may not read that passage the way I do, but its challenge should not be dismissed lightly.
    I’m not an NT scholar but let me turn briefly to two of the passages you mention.
    In the early chapters of Romans, Paul’s purpose in writing is clearly not the condemnation of homosexual orientation or relationships for all time. The subject is idolatry and rebellion against God. Paul’s point is that all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, are deserving of judgement and in need of grace. Paul
    trots out the traditional list of sins of the Gentiles, including the kinds of same-sex immorality that was common in Graeco Roman society. Rhetorically, he does this to soften up his Jewish readers before hitting them with the fact that they are just as bad, just as guilty, just as needful of grace (Romans 2:1) (See Douglas Campbell’s The Deliverance of God and Robert Jewett’s Hermeneia commentary for more on this line of interpretation). I think it is a huge stretch to say that this
    passage is condemning all same-sex relationships for all time, even faithful relationships between committed christians. The traditional ban builds a huge tower on a matchbox!
    As for Jesus’s words in Mark 10:6, are you claiming that in saying these words he was intending to ban all same-sex relationships for all time? Again I would say you are asking far too much of this verse. Jesus’s subject is not homosexual orientation or homosexual relationships at all. He is responding to the
    hard-hearted provision of some pharisees of “any reason” divorce, and the suffering that caused vulnerable women and children. He is affirming the permanence of the marriage bond and calling for faithfulness and compassion.
    The church is almost alone in society in not seeing that the values Jesus was promoting are equally applicable and valid for same sex relationships.
    In conclusion, I think there is a clear need for respectful conversation, including the people most directly affected by the decisions churches make. None of us has all the answers, the matter is not settled and the conversation is not a waste of time.
    Best regards, Drew

  • Christopher Shell

    Before we start, the discussion is potentially going to be vitiated by failure to distinguish between different kinds of ‘bias’:
    (a) If the issue is that we wish certain things to be true, regardless of the data, then that is an unscholarly bias or ideology, and being a scholar at all depends in large part, not on having no such wishes, but on never letting them invade one’s work. It is not as though one is unaware they exist: consequently, there is no excuse.
    (b) Unconscious biases of the Freudian type. I may want things to be true without realising that this is the case. This would need evidence before one was inclined to believe it.
    (c) The biases inherent in one’s culture and historical period – these may cause one to frame questions in a certain way rather than in another way and thereby to predetermine the answer to some extent. These biases I agree are difficult to overcome – but it is precisely those who are least bound by their culture and able to immerse themselves in other cultures (i.e. scholars, among others) who will be best able to overcome them.
    (d) One’s provisional worldview as it stands before the investigation is seen by some (not me) to constitute a ‘bias’. One never starts with a blank slate. But nor should one. One’s provisional worldview is only the sum total of one’s provisional conclusions hitherto on the basis of the evidence before one.

    1. ‘That there are degrees does not imply that an absolute yes or absolute no are possible.’
    -As I said before, I agree: I already said the same myself under 2: ‘in practice it will never be 100%’. Therefore what you call ‘your logic’ is not my logic: it is a logic I already disowned.

    -But are you saying 90% is impossible? 95%? 99%? Could anyone be dogmatic enough to say that they know for sure that these percentages of success in safeguarding against personal bias are impossible? They don’t know that.
    -Full awareness is indeed not remotely possible. But how about full knowledge of certain facts – which is a quite different thing (logical, not psychological)? For example, one can fully know which things one would *like* to be true (since one is oneself the sole repository of this information), and then factor in this inbuilt bias.

    2.

    -There is more than one scholar in every subject because our knowledge of those subjects (subjects being far larger than individual facts) is always so incomplete. Not because of the scholars’ being less than 100% honest – though of course many of them may theoretically or in practice be less 100% honest.
    -You talk a lot about ‘interpretation’. But much scholarship does not involve interpretation but analysis within closed systems. Textual scholarship does involve interpretation. Observing (within science) does. It depends what one’s subject is.
    -Again, the reason we don’t have one history text etc. is not necessarily anything to do with bias. The reasons are: (a) because life is short and the subjects in question are utterly vast, each person’s knowledge of them is accordingly very imperfect; (b) research on some matters is difficult to conduct because our data are very imperfect; (c) the same thing can be expressed in many different forms of words. If you’re using historical causation as an example, the reason there are differences between scholars here is the complexity of the reality (together with an unfortunate wish to come up with brilliant new hypotheses) – again, not necessarily anything to do with bias.

    3-4. Your use of the word ‘perfectly’ in *both* of these paras does not respond to anything I said. I explicity said perfection is impossible in this (never 100%: point 2).
    Jesus in Matthew 5.48 says ‘be perfect’. Nobody fulfils this; he knew nobody could. Yet what else could he have said? ‘Be 95% perfect?’ ‘Be perfect sometimes?’ Whatever level one achieves in this, it would be too dogmatic for anyone to assert that they *know* that no higher level is possible. They *don’t* know this.

    5. Here we need to remember the different senses of ‘bias’ above. One can and must be free from ideology (i.e. bias in sense (a)), but it is often difficult to be free from bias in my sense (d).

    On your last point (which is basically the same as your 3), I don’t know of any such scholars. I am certainly not one myself.

  • Christopher Shell

    But all Bible passages (and for that matter pleanty of passages in other books) will cause turmoil in people who are convicted by them – including each of us. That is the entire point.

    All sinners are excluded by OT law. That is everyone. All unrepentant sinners are exluded by NT principle. That is a good many. There is a massive lot of necessary exclusion going on, unless one wants to force people to be included against their will.

    If we think we can be included on our own terms, or that we ourselves can decide the principles for exclusion or inclusion, that view is obviously the quintessence of self-centredness.

    Slavery? Gagnon is one of those to prick this balloon, but in general let it be said that for thousands of years, until a certain level of economic development was reached, much less individualism was possible than is possible now. People had to work together in larger collectives for society to function. In a future age people may well see us as being oppressed because we are employees as opposed to being employers. We have progressed economically beyond the need for slavery (though there is much still around) and one day we may progress economically beyond the need for employees. But it cannot happen without a lot of progress and passage of time. Philemon is very counter-cultural on slavery. Revelation 18 sees human trafficking as the climactic worst of Rome’s 28 cargoes.

    Who is this ‘we’ who have been wrong. Intelligent people have always been independent thinkers on this and other issues. There is no undifferentiated ‘we’ en masse.

    Intolerable burdens? The perfect keeping of God’s law has always been quite impossible, but the solution to that is not to break it.

    Keeping this particular law has become more intolerable in the present age because society does not think one should keep it. That makes it very much more difficult to keep than it was when society and the church agreed on this. Hence it was scarcely an issue in other times. Why else do you think it is so much more of an issue now. Even when you look around the world now, it is an issue in precisely those places where social change (which is the instigator here) has created the church-society dichotomy regarding this matter.

    A lot of things are mentioned a lot more rarely than homosexual acts. Some things are not mentioned at all, How does frequency of mention make these things any less negative? Why in any case should they be mentioned more often? They are not the centre of the universe as they seem to be in the modern west? There are all sorts of topics in the world which demand mention.

    It is presumptuous for you to say you believe certain things are blessed by God. Each person should say for themselves what they bless, not have others imposing by claiming to speak on others’ behalf.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Drew

    Your first point is probably the least true – ‘we wouldn’t be having this conversation’. We certainly would, particularly in the present age when people can’t see why the Bible doesn’t say what they’d want it to say, a crazy attitude I see exemplified in no other period of church history. People will debate the Bible text (in this age above all ages) if it doesn’t like what it says, even what it clearly says. They will try and find some way of making it fit with the current ideology or Zeitgeist or 21st century tolerant western liberalism or something. Honestly – talk about lack of cultural awareness; and talk about making things in one’s own image, which can be a very self-centred act.

    You speak of ‘evangelical background’ – but why on earth can’t people be a bit more presuppositionless? The best scholars of all tend to defy labels because they are simply truth-seekers. What is meant by ‘background’ anyway? and is the (false) supposition that ‘background’ always affects people? My original ‘background’ was Anglo-Catholic, with which I’ve never felt affinity. My later ‘positions’ have been either original or hand-picked from a range of options (ie they are not backgrounds at all but deliberate choices because they seem better than the competing options), but (and this is the point) I have like all other truth-seekers ended up highly eclectic and unclassifiable.

    Heavy burdens, slavery etc. – these I dealt with in my previous reply.

    1 Corinthians 12 – this sounded interesting but I didn’t get your point. Would be interested to hear what it was.

    Romans 1: The very idea that this passage could be about just one thing – namely idolatry. It is about several things. Even if in a parallel universe it were about idolatry only, or centrally about only idolatry and its fruits, we would still see in passing what his attitude to homosexual behaviour is. Your argument seems a false one: Because the central issue is not homosexual practice (debatable but could be true) we can therefore leave aside what it says about homosexual practice. Eh? Everyone knows that doesn’t follow. Homosexual practice is regarded so badly herein that it can actually be singled out above *all* the other things that could have been singled out as a paradigmatically bad example of
    what disasters gentile life (he has especially Rome and Roman idolatry in mind) brings in its train. Nobody disputes the way Paul turns things on their head in Rom.2. That is a *separate* point.

    In Mark 10.6 Jesus enunciates a framework, and within that framework the present revisionist so-called ‘interpretation’ (which just so happens very concidentally to chime in perfectly with our present very specific culture) is ruled out.

    ‘Any reason’ divorce: You are going with Instone-Brewer here. His view is quite impossible because the ‘any reason’ phrase is in Matthew not Mark, and in Markan passages Matthew has very little first-hand Jesus material (he has very little overall, indeed). You can see that Matthew’s version here is manifestly based on Mark but with additions from a rabbinic or scribal point of view (doubtless Matthew’s own, reflecting discussions of the fine points and exceptions which would have characterised his own circle). This is precisely the sort of passage where we’d expect an individual like the writer of Matthew to make the kind of modifications he does make. Mark is the oldest and few dispute he’s closest to what Jesus really said.

    ‘The church is almost alone in society…’, you say. Almost the reverse is true. The vast majority of societies both geographically and through history give the lie to what you say. You are speaking as though the interrelated navel-gazing modern west is all that there is or ever has been.

  • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

    Yes, but surely it could be seen (because of the reasons you’ve highlighted) that it is terribly brutal to take a stance to say that gay behaviour is right? – If it’s more than feeling and more about objective truth, then there’s something to be said for the 2000 years of history of the church as well as exegesis which hasn’t ever encouraged same sex marriage etc… just throwing this in!

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    Hi Christopher,
    I must say I’m finding your tone pretty hostile and dismissive and my time for this is pretty limited. Anyway you did ask about 1 Corinthians 12 and my thoughts on the relevance of that passage can be found in a short sermon at this link http://www.st-georges-church.com/files/sermons/Sermon_108_487.pdf .
    With best regards from a fellow truth-seeker…
    Drew

  • Christopher Shell

    David, several of your points were correctly identified as fallacies, and those fallacies were named. You can yawn as much as you like, but yawning won’t make the point any less correct, so how exactly is the yawning relevant? Is it a diversionary tactic, or does is evince a lack of understanding about what debate involves? Debate is not about avoiding repetition or even about avoiding boringness. It is about coming to the correct answer.

  • Christopher Shell

    Douglas, Bible texts are interpreted individually, and consequently one can scarcely have a uniform reading of ‘the Bible’, as you put it. Any such would be a sweeping generalisation and probably ideological to quite a high degree.

    But as for calling it ‘deeper’…all NT scholars agree that where the NT indisputably speaks of homosexual activity it is very negative. So the scholars hold to the shallower reading and the non-scholars to the ‘deeper’?

    This use of the word ‘deeper’ is so inaccurate that it ought to be justified if it is not to be rejected.

  • Christopher Shell

    Hi Drew

    Your time’s not limited (you can pick this up next year or any other year if you like – I still get email alerts).

    Print doesn’t have a tone. I should hope I am passionate for truth and will never cease to be. But debate is about substantive issues. Please never become one of the people who changes the topic from issues to tone and never addresses the issues. Some of these (not you, I imagine) have the motive of avoiding the question.

    Thanks very much for the link. Steve Chalke is not a Bible scholar. He does not even claim to be, though of course he is many other things. So can you or anyone else explain why his views on the biblical text are being discussed at all when the world is full of actual bible scholars?

    If fame or celebrity is the criterion for being listened to on topics outside one’s expertise, then let’s all consult Beyonce on this.

  • Rev Drew Tweedy

    Christopher,
    I’m interested in your response to my biblical argument on the substantive issue as set out in the sermon I linked you to. The fact that I respect Steve Chalke and you don’t is a side issue. You are the one who seems to be avoiding the issue.
    Drew