Pastors and Today’s Most Controversial Social Issues: Who’s Getting It Right and Wrong?

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Dr. Brown looks at some of the toughest questions facing pastors today and samples some of their responses, looking at right and wrong approaches based on the Scriptures. The stakes are high and leaders will give account to God for their decisions. Listen live here 2-4 pm EST, and call into the show at (866) 348 7884 with your questions and comments.

 

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: It is one thing to get caught up in partisan politics. It is another thing to stand for righteousness. Every pastor, teacher, and leader, you are called to be an example. You are called to stand for righteousness.

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: The words of Jesus have not changed. The standards of Jesus have not changed. If we love father or mother, son or daughter more than Him, we’re not worthy of Him!

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Other Resources:

What’s the Best Way to Study God’s Word?

Dr. Brown Opens up the Scriptures Verse by Verse

A Call for Moral Backbone; the Meaning of Romans 2:4; and Is Christianity Truly Under Attack in America?

31 Comments
  1. Dr. Brown, you mentioned the word “journey” today. The first time I heard it, I was like, what??? A few years ago, someone who reads and admires Brian McLaren asked me about my “faith journey” and I’d never heard that expression before. It sounded so weird to me. Then I started reading about the emergent movement and put two and two together.

  2. How do we know Jesus never publicly addressed the matter of homosexuality specifically? We really don’t know. No one can prove using the Bible that Jesus never did so, for the Bible tells us that he did many things that were not written about.

    Obviously homosexuality has it’s roots in the flesh, in the desires thereof, and the gospel which Jesus gave to his apostles speaks of the evil nature of homosexuality, speaking of the affections of it as being as it is, vile.

    So what we do have is a public speaking against the matter of homosexuality, in a specific sense, in the gospel writings which were given by Jesus Christ. He didn’t ascend into heaven to stay there without giving us specific information on this matter.

    A man might own an automobile or a motorcycle and talk about how he always thought about how it should be different, maybe entirely different, and he might customize it in many ways, thus changing the very nature of the machine, to suit his own wishes, but in it’s original design it started out as something completely different.

    As far as what each of us are supposed to look like and act like, though each of us is unique, well, are to be transformed by the grace of God into the image of Christ, and there is nothing vile, corrupt, or perverted in him. He doesn’t wear lipstick or wear dresses. He’s always what he is supposed to be, the Son of God in the likeness of the Father himself.

    So let’s not be taken in by people who think they should do their own thing to their own bodies, in whatever way they wish to, as they try to explain how it is that they are right in what they have done, when it is contrary to Christ.

    As we look unto Jesus more and more, we should see more clearly that there are many things in this world that are clearly wrong, and that so many have taken the wrong path.

    First, lets be sure of these things, and then we can be used by God to help people go the right way in life by the grace of God which he has given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, who is able to save and to transform those who sincerely come to him in faith.

    And let’s be patient with people because sometimes restoration can take awhile, even though God can also do amazing things in a single day.

  3. I have a question for pastors today. Did you ever read Matt 21:13, and notice the similarity between it and Jer 7:11? (I’m using KJV here)

    Now if you are a pastor and you are here, What is the first thing you notice in Jer chapter 7 that is mentioned in a specific sense, about amending ways?

  4. I only heard a brief part of today’s show — but it occurred to me that there is a point where Dr. Brown and I agree on the gay issue.

    I appreciate that he consistently says that homosexuality, in itself, is not sinful.

    It’s point of agreement that is worth dwelling on.

    Sexual attraction is so complex and so primal that it’s not a choice. It’s acting on that attraction which can be sinful.

    (I think Dr. Brown usually calls this “homosexual practice” which is an odd term to me. Is there “heterosexual practice”? I usually call it behavior.)

    Anyway, we both agree that the moral issue lies in the “practice” not the impulse.

    But this is where our disagreement starts. I don’t believe that the homosexual practice condemned in the bible is modern, monogamous gay marriage.

    But, it’s worth noting that Dr. Brown and I start at the same moral calculation.

  5. Ray,

    I think I followed your post. It was interesting to me because I just got home on a bible study about Paul’s theology of flesh. vs. spirit.

    Paul seems to think that all things “fleshly” are corrupt and sinful.

    Do you really believe that?

    When you desire our wife, sexually, is this sinful? Clearly, that’s a fleshly desire.

    But “fleshly desire” motivates just every aspects of our lives from smelling a rose, to eating a cheeseburger, to taking a nap.

    I can’t imagine that you honestly believe that all fleshly desire is sinful.

    So, how do you determine which fleshly desires are sinful?

    For me, it’s a case-by-case moral calculation. Is anyone being hurt? It is honest? Is it respectful? Is is peaceful? Is it healthy? etc.

    But, I admit, this has a hermeneutic problem because the calculation has very little to do with “the flesh.”

    How do you decide which “fleshly desires” are sinful and which are not?

    Or do you never stop and smell the roses?

  6. Ray,

    Re: your second post.

    I have been a pastor, so I assume your post is directed at me.

    >> Now if you are a pastor and you are here, What is the first thing you notice in Jer chapter 7 that is mentioned in a specific sense, about amending ways?

    Well, the first thing I notice is that Jeremiah uses Shiloh to show that God will change his favor from from one people to another, if the first are wicked. (in this case, from Shilohites to Jerusalemites.)

    What is the moral lesson you take from that?

    (Since you are hanging out here, I can’t imagine that you believe that God moved his favor from Jews to Gentiles.)

  7. Ray,

    Jesus specifically said that we are to take everything he said in context with what has came before him:

    Matthew 5:17-19 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    In fact, in first century Judaica, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to mention homosexuality, because the consensus of the Jews of the time was that it was wrong. So, all he really needed to do is to confirm the scriptures that came before him, which he did in this passage.

  8. Greg, return to the cross and gospel. Do you really believe that homosexual behavior is wrong only if it is between un “married” homosexual couple?

    If so you’ve strayed so far away from God you don’t know the simplest things concerning righteousness.

    Do you think it’s something people can simply decide for themselves, as if it’s something that can change simply by a vote of the people? Do you believe that God is to comply with the newest thing people imagine, that he is to bow to their wishes concerning what is sin and what is not?

    How long have you been a Christian? …Been traveling this way since you first surveyed the cross, I’ll bet.

    If something you saw in verse 12 and following is the first thing you saw in Jer 7, about what the people should do to amend their ways, you sure missed a lot.

    What’s the first thing that appears after these words from Jer 7:5? “For if ye thoroughly amend your ways, and your doings; if you thoroughly ? (KJV)

    Now how can a man execute judgment if he doesn’t even know what sin is?

  9. Ray,

    >>Greg, return to the cross and gospel. Do you really believe that homosexual behavior is wrong only if it is between un “married” homosexual couple?

    Clearly, you have added being anti-gay to salvation.

    I would encourage you to return to the true cross and the true gospel.

  10. Adam,

    >>In fact, in first century Judaica, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to mention homosexuality, because the consensus of the Jews of the time was that it was wrong

    Homosexuality or homosexual practice?

    Even Dr. Brown makes that distinction.

    As for your theory of why Jesus didn’t directly condemn same-sex affairs:

    Some scholars believe that Jesus didn’t condemn homosexual behavior because it was so unremarkable as to not deserve comment. For example — the centurion and his “boy.” (aka pederasty)

    I know that Dr. Brown dismisses this example out-of-hand but other scholars make a strong argument otherwise.

  11. Greg,

    Both. Both the desire and the actual act itself were considered sinful, as even the apostle Paul says:

    Romans 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

    The difference Dr. Brown has brought up [and he can correct me if I am wrong on this] is that there can be a person who has genuinely repented of his homosexuality, and is actively fighting against those desires. That is simply the description of a Christian. We all have what Christians have called “besetting sins” or “indwelling sins” against which we must constantly be in battle. I totally agree with Dr. Brown that homosexuality can be one of those sins. For others it is pornography, for others it is lying, etc. However, the key is the *disposition* towards our sin. We are to fight those desires, and seek to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. If a person refuses to do that, and even *identifies* himself with those sinful desires, then he cannot be called a Christian.

    Finally, I don’t know what scholars you are reading, but the argument from the Centurion is so ridiculous that most NT scholars laugh at it. Rob Gagnon, for example, didn’t even mention it in his book on the Bible and homosexuality, and only mentioned it because it became more popular on the internet. However, when you read his critique, you can see that it is total nonsense, which should never have been brought up in the first place!:

    http://www.robgagnon.net/HomosexCenturionStory.htm

    While there may have been pederasty and other forms of homosexuality going on in the first century, to say it was common place in orthodox Jewish thinking is laughable beyond laughable. *That* is what I was talking about. Jesus clearly identified as a Jew, and given the first century *Jewish* understanding of homosexuality, his position would have gone without saying.

    Greg, if you study this issue long enough, you find that the gay movement really is nothing more than a movement of propaganda. As someone who has studied Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Near Eastern languages at the graduate level, and someone who is now getting involved in neurolinguistics and cognitive linguistics, the more I find about the homosexual movement in relationship to the Bible and neuroscience, the more I am amazed at the propaganda nature of this movement. There is no attempt at critical historical, Biblical, or biological research. It is all a bunch of rhetoric designed to demonize the other side, and push their agenda through.

    Also, I think it is important to respond to something you said to Ray:

    “Clearly, you have added being anti-gay to salvation.
    I would encourage you to return to the true cross and the true gospel.”

    First of all, the ambiguity of this phrase “anti-gay” needs to be called down. Does that mean that we are “anti-homosexuals” or “anti-homosexuality?” If the former, no. If the latter, yes. The fact of the matter is we not the former precisely because we are so much the latter.

    Secondly, the reason this is a gospel issue is because it goes to the ability of God to both define sin, and to cleanse from that sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is a clear example of this:

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

    This entire passage must be contradicted by anyone advocating homosexuality. Not only must they deny that those who are both the active and passive male partners in homosexuality will inherit the kingdom of God, but they also must deny that the gospel can change such a person, namely, that they can be “washed,” “sanctified,” or “justified” from the sin of homosexuality. You can see that it runs into a direct conflict with the gospel itself. BTW, that would be true if someone tried to argue that it you didn’t have to be “anti-theft,” “anti-fornication,” “anti-idolatry,” or “anti-drunkenness” in order to believe the gospel. Basically, such would destroy the power of Christ over sin, and, worst of all, destroy the only hope that sinners [including homosexuals] have of breaking free of their sin [including homosexuality]. Yes, such is a radical destruction of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  12. Greg,

    You wrote:
    “But, in obedience to the bible’s call for Christian unity, give our brothers and sisters the respect to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in this peripheral and highly disputed matter.”

    You are so wrong. Homosex is not a Biblically disputed matter. It is settled. It is sin. It is abomination. It deserves the wrath of YHWH. It is not honest disagreement. It is blindly serving culture on your part instead of accepting YHWH’s word. Christian unity is never at the expense of truth and holiness. Paul says to kick out those that practices homosex and other forms of fornication.

    John 17
    17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
    18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
    19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
    20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
    21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

    The only unity that can be right is in truth and holiness. Homosex is not holy or walking in truth.

    Greg wrote:
    “Can we just accept that this is a matter of honest disagreement, in good faith, within the body of Christ?

    If you think homosexuality is a sin for all times, under any circumstance– then don’t get gay married! I respect your right to not be gay.

    But, in obedience to the bible’s call for Christian unity, give our brothers and sisters the respect to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in this peripheral and highly disputed matter.”

    NO! We cannot accept this as honest disagreement in the body of Messiah. It is a false gospel. There is no unity between a false gospel and the real one. The real gospel starts with, “Repent.”

    Mark 1
    14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
    15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

    “Repent” means to change ones mind and start acting on it. It means to turn back to YHWH. It does not mean to remain in homosex or consider yourself not a sinner. It does not mean that one is off the hook if they have some kind of “orientation.”

    Homosexuality is a highly disputed matter, not because it is hard to decide what is right, but because people refuse to repent. It is a dividing line between those that actually receive the gospel that Messiah, Peter, and Paul preached and the false liberal gospel of “God does not want you to feel bad or guilty.”

    This matter is not “peripheral.” It is part of what must be repented of. We do not tell the drunkard that it is fine to continue in drunkenness because, “It is a peripheral matter.” We do not tell the adulterer or the thief or the liar that his sins and “orientations” are not important and do not need to be repented of. The kleptomaniac and the alcoholic and womanizer have “orientations” that need to be squelched, not celebrated. These “orientations” need to be abhorred and dealt with and forsaken. It is a lot of work to repent sometimes. Drunkenness is not all of sudden fine just because two consenting adults agree to the buying and selling of alcohol. It does not matter if they enter a covenant to get drunk together and with no one else…they are still sinning.

    The only thing that committed homosex relationships does is make it a continuous sin instead of a singular sin. The lifestyle of homosex is one of the things that Paul says will exempt one from inheriting the kingdom of YHWH.

    “Repent! For the Kingdom of YHWH is at hand.” is the message. It goes for drunkards and adulterers and homosexuals and the covetous. It is the same gospel. And every sin that we hang onto because of “orientation” is a sign of an unregenerate and deceitful heart.

    Hebrews 12
    1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
    2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
    3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
    4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

    Sometimes it hurts to repent and do the right thing according to the scriptures. Greg would rob thousands and thousands of the kingdom of YHWH in the name of being nice and of being accepting of “commitment” and “orientation.”

    Ultimately homosex is a choice, not within the body of Messiah, but whether or not one wants to partake of sin now and be left out of the kingdom of YHWH or vice versa. It is a not a choice of the body of Messiah about whether homosexuals are allowed to be in the assembly, it is choice to either be an assembly of YHWH or of the god of culture.

    The Holy Spirit already lead everyone, via the scripture that He inspired, to not participate in any homosex action. It is not about trusting people to hear from the Holy Spirit about this “peripheral matter.” It is preaching the gospel of repentance to those that have listened to the leading of the spirit of this world that says the opposite of what the Holy Spirit already said in scripture.

  13. Or, rather than such complications, one might say that Jesus addressed homosexuality directly when he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” It doesn’t matter if homosexuality is right or wrong, it is wrong for another sinner to condemn those who practice it.

  14. Hi Adam,

    You wrote

    “Jesus clearly identified as a Jew, and given the first century *Jewish* understanding of homosexuality, his position would have gone without saying.”

    I’ve heard this argument before many times, but I find it very unconvincing. This exact same kind of reasoning would exclude or make impossible Jesus having had made radical claims to divinity, or claiming to be the Messiah, or challenging certain Old Testament laws if judged solely by the “Jewish” positions of his day. If we look at Jesus from a purely historical point of view (without any assumptions about his deity or Messiahship), then we’d certainly have to conclude that he was at odds in many ways with the Jewish beliefs of his day, some of them to the extreme (ie. his implicit claims to be God). It shouldn’t be so inconceivable then that he might have held radical positions on other matters as well, including homosexuality. But since Jesus never really addressed the topic at all, I don’t think we can say with confidence either way what his position ultimately would have been simply by looking at the gospels.

    You wrote

    “There is no attempt at critical historical, Biblical, or biological research. It is all a bunch of rhetoric designed to demonize the other side, and push their agenda through.”

    There’s plenty of good, genuine, critical research in those areas. That some or most of it might not favor or agree with your side is no excuse for you to dismiss all of that research outright as a failure to do proper research. Honestly, this statement here comes across as rather desperate.

    Moreover, I would add that the rhetoric and demonization here has really been on your side. In actuality gay people have been demonized, condemned, attacked, disowned, and shamed (very often by religious people) for hundreds and hundreds of years. But now, when people aggressively fight back and push hard for the acceptance of gay people it’s somehow our side that is demonizing you guys? Your side can’t ever win with this kind of thinking, because more and more people nowadays are seeing it essentially for what it is: anti-gay people complaining about the fact that their intolerance and/or bigotry towards gay people is being less and less respected and tolerated in society.

  15. The whole issue boils down to fornication. Whether it’s male/female, male/male, female/female. Its wrong in any situation outside of the marriage bed.

    What does the marriage bed consist of? Since the dawn of recorded history it has been male/female. Our God, Jesus tells us this is true in Mark 10:6-9 when He says:

    6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

    7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

    8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

    9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    It is a very gender specific passage. There is no neutrality in the specifications of God’s purpose from the beginning. He could have easily said “Two shall marry and become one flesh” etc, but He doesn’t. Male and Female is spoken of. And these are the words of God who you can be sure knew we, today, would be discussing such issues.

    But getting back to fornication. Only in the last couple decades has there been any notion of “gay marriage”. It’s a very new concept. Man created concept. What does the Messiah have to say about fornication and adultery?

    Matthew 5:27-32
    27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

    28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman [male/female a given] to lust after her [man lusting after a woman not his own] hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

    31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife [male and female a given, see Mark 10:6], let him give her a writing of divorcement: [He could have said “Let the one give the other”, this is God after-all]

    32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife [a wife cannot put away a wife], saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

    All this to say that you must be married to avoid being guilty of fornication and adultery. Two single people, male and female, male and male, female and female, who engage in sexual activity commit fornication, and in fact by Jesus’ standards commits adultery. My father told me when I was a teenager, “Ben, if you have sex with a girl before you are married and you end up not marrying her, you have caused her to cheat on whomever she one day does marry. And you have also cheated on the woman you one day marry.”

    Homosexual activities for thousands of years now have been fornicatious (coined a new word?) since there was never previously any notion of marriage for it between male/male, female/female.

    You may think, “That is why we are trying to legalize it, so that we no longer have to commit fornication between gay partners.” -but a very important question must get raised and answered, does God allow marriage to be redefined in this way? No =/

    6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

    7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

    Jesus does not give a cultural reason, but a reason that transcends culture, meaning a reason culture cannot change. Creation.

    And when we step back and consider that God loves us so much that he sacrificed His own Son’s life because of His unfathomable love for mankind…. wow… His prohibitions, commands, and intentions toward us must also be based on that same eternal love He has for you and me.

    Man today is redefining marriage. God is not. So whether countries legalize it or not, it will still be fornication in the site of our Holy God.

  16. I don’t see the issue as anti-gay but as pro-Bible. I have no feelings towards gays one way or another. Of those I do know I love them like any other person. I’m professing what it is I believe without bias to anyone. I’m also not in agreement with thieves, that doesn’t mean I hate them or am bigoted towards them. I believe stealing is wrong therefore I align myself with those beliefs. To do anything else would be utter confusion of my personal convictions.

  17. Benjamin,

    You wrote,

    “The whole issue boils down to fornication…Its wrong in any situation outside of the marriage bed.”

    “All this to say that you must be married to avoid being guilty of fornication and adultery”

    That’s not how it was defined or put in practice by early Jews. In ancient Israelite society, adultery was defined in terms of the wife’s infidelity, but not the husband’s (as long as his sexual partner was unmarried). Thus, a married man who had sex with another unmarried woman was not considered to have committed adultery.

    Similarly, the typical understanding of Jewish households of that time was that the man had sexual access to all women in his household, except those forbidden by incest laws. Thus female slaves were fair game for the male head of household IN ADDITION to any wives he may have had.

    “What does the marriage bed consist of? Since the dawn of recorded history it has been male/female. Our God, Jesus tells us this is true in Mark 10:6-9…”

    One doesn’t have to see his discourse on divorce in Mark 10 (or Matt 19) as a necessary exclusion of arrangements other than that described. Jesus is talking to a very specific group of people, in a very specific historical context. Same-sex marriage in Jesus’day wasn’t even remotely on his radar in discussions with his fellow Jews. Therefore, it shouldn’t at all be surprising if the only marriage types he expounds upon are those of the male-female kind, which was the only kind to which his audience would have been familiar with.

    To argue from these passages that Jesus would have been against homosexuality I think puts you on shaky ground. One could offer up similar type arguments for other issues, but with results that are morally problematic. For example, whenever Jesus spoke on slavery he never spoke against it or opposed it. He readily used slavery concepts in his parables and interacted with those who had slaves. Should we conclude from this that Jesus would have been perfectly fine with slavery and favored it as an institution? No, of course not. We can’t look at such passages in this way. Rather, we look at what Jesus was primarily trying to communicate in them to his audience. In these passages we can see that slavery, and the whole issue of whether it is moral or immoral, good or bad for society, just isn’t the point at all. It’s something else entirely. In Luke 12:47-49, for example, the focus isn’t on disobedient slaves or slavery as a concept. Slavery examples are used only because they provide readily available examples from society that help to drive home his primary point on the seriousness of negligent church officials and the responsibility they have toward those they lead. He uses slavery here because that is what his audience is familiar with. It’s what everyone in that culture knew and could relate to.

    In the very same way, Jesus’ explications on marriage (or more accurately divorce) aren’t about the definitions of marriage or what exactly constitutes an invalid marriage. His main concern here is divorce in the context of what his questioners knew (male-female marriages), and he uses what is readily familiar and known to his Jewish audience to drive home his opposition to divorce within that whole framework.

  18. Sheila,

    I don’t doubt your sincerity in your personal convictions, or your love towards your gay friends. But surely you can’t deny that religious beliefs have been a very strong motivator for anti-gay attitudes in society can you? Do you honestly think the issue is solely a pro-Bible stance?

    To me it seems undeniable that strongly held religious beliefs on this subject have resulted in much of the prejudice and negative social stigmatization that has been directed toward gay people. And such attitudes have invariably resulted in the opposition to gay rights we often see from those claiming to be religious.

    One can certainly have an honest, sincere disagreement on this issue based on the Bible and not be hateful or bigoted. But so too can one hold to the traditional view on this subject and have animus toward homosexuals that makes them anti-gay in a bigoted or hateful type of manner. There’s certainly much of the latter in my opinion.

    One last thing, I think the comparison of your disagreement with homosexuality to disagreement with thievery is largely unhelpful. Stealing from people can easily result in feelings of hate or dislike toward the person who is stealing, since it directly harms another person, and obviously without their consent. It’s understandable to a degree the negative feelings someone might have in this area. With homosexuality though, gay people aren’t asking to inflict some sort of unasked for harm on another person. We just want to seek out opportunities to find someone who we are able to fall in love with romantically, emotionally and physically (someone of the same-sex), and for whom that person also mutually shares those same feelings.

  19. James,

    “Therefore, it shouldn’t at all be surprising if the only marriage types he expounds upon are those of the male-female kind, which was the only kind to which his audience would have been familiar with.”

    Is there not a reason that they are only familiar with male/female marriages? Maybe the Torah told them what marriage was as Jesus expresses. Again, Jesus doesn’t appeal to Jewish culture when he answers, he appeals to creation, God’s creative intention for marriage.

  20. James,

    I’ve heard this argument before many times, but I find it very unconvincing. This exact same kind of reasoning would exclude or make impossible Jesus having had made radical claims to divinity, or claiming to be the Messiah, or challenging certain Old Testament laws if judged solely by the “Jewish” positions of his day. If we look at Jesus from a purely historical point of view (without any assumptions about his deity or Messiahship), then we’d certainly have to conclude that he was at odds in many ways with the Jewish beliefs of his day, some of them to the extreme (ie. his implicit claims to be God). It shouldn’t be so inconceivable then that he might have held radical positions on other matters as well, including homosexuality. But since Jesus never really addressed the topic at all, I don’t think we can say with confidence either way what his position ultimately would have been simply by looking at the gospels.

    Of course, the main difference is that Jesus specifically speaks of being God, and also speaks of being the Messiah. He makes it clear that he is going against certain Jewish expectations on those points. However, not only does Jesus *not* address homosexuality directly, he uses terms like “husband” and “wife, defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and reaffirms the Torah which has prohibitions against homosexuality such as Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Not only did Jesus not oppose the Jewish views of the day on homosexuality, his words also seem to be entirely consistent with that view.

    In essence, this view you have presented would utterly and completely destroy the field of sociolinguistics. Your answer here seems to assume that, if society has any influence on someone’s language and ideas, it must be a *deterministic* influence. However, such an idea is laughable. Man has a will, man has a mind, but that will and mind must interact with a society. Jesus was no different, and he had to decide which elements of the Jewish society of his day he was going to accept and assume, and which he was going to say were wrong.

    Furthermore, Dr. James White, who I listen to regularly, has pointed out that such really destroys orthodox Christology. A person who holds your view must argue that either 1. Jesus was ignorant of the pain he was causing by his stereotypes and propagation of the notion of male and female sexuality alone, or he was evil, and did it anyway, in which case Christ could no longer be considered good. One other reason this is a gospel issue.

    There’s plenty of good, genuine, critical research in those areas. That some or most of it might not favor or agree with your side is no excuse for you to dismiss all of that research outright as a failure to do proper research. Honestly, this statement here comes across as rather desperate.

    I love using the word “desperate” when I have seen nothing in scholarly research that would cause me to overturn my views, and all people who use the research engaging in a major spinning of the conclusions of the researchers. I still would like to see you address what I said a few posts back on the issue of neuroplasticity. I have seen attempts to get around the problem of plasticity proposed by Doidge, Whitehead, et al. They are laughable, and amount to “there is no evidence” when both Doige and Whitehead cite evidence of the plasticity of sexual libido, such as Hugh Heffner, clinical cases of the adding of heterosexuality to homosexuality, and yes [as much as you might hate to admit it] people who were once homosexual, became heterosexual, got married and lived a significant time afterwards as a heterosexual and even went to their graves as heterosexual.

    Worse than that, as studies come out, the are abused badly. I think of Swaab and Hofman’s study which my neuroscience textbook mentions where the suprachiasmatic nuclei of the hypothalamus were enlarged in homosexuals. People hailed it as a biological basis for homosexuality, as it suggested a biologically “feminized” brain. However, even Swaab and Hofman didn’t go that far, because they pointed out that the suprachiasmatic nuclei of males and females were about the same volume. Then, there was the whole issue of epigenetics in which some were saying that we finally found a genetic basis for homosexuality [again, a conclusion the researchers *themselves* did not come to]! Furthermore, what was conveniently not mentioned is the fact that the plasticity of the brain can affect epigenetics.

    Not only that, but the Biblical research is just as bad. Aside from leaping off to other texts to discuss the meaning of Hebrew terms like תועבה, you have the butchering of stories like the centurion. In the case of the sin of Sodom, you have Ezekiel 16:49 quoted to say that it was mere inhospitality that was the sin of Sodom, ignoring that *the very next verse* uses the term תועבה, and the only תועבה relevant to the Sodom story is homosexuality! This is the kind of shoddy scholarship I am talking about. People keep saying that no one in the ancient world ever heard of “loving, committing homosexual relationships” when you have the symposium of Plato discussing these things. So bad is it that Rob Gagnon, who is hardly a conservative, has even come out and said that this is ridiculous. This is not the kind of stuff serious scholarship is made of, either in the biological world or in the world of Biblical scholarship. While I acknowledge that people might use bad arguments on my side of the aisle too, these things are simply endemic to your side.

    Moreover, I would add that the rhetoric and demonization here has really been on your side. In actuality gay people have been demonized, condemned, attacked, disowned, and shamed (very often by religious people) for hundreds and hundreds of years. But now, when people aggressively fight back and push hard for the acceptance of gay people it’s somehow our side that is demonizing you guys? Your side can’t ever win with this kind of thinking, because more and more people nowadays are seeing it essentially for what it is: anti-gay people complaining about the fact that their intolerance and/or bigotry towards gay people is being less and less respected and tolerated in society.

    That is called a strawman. Are you familiar with the Christian doctrine of sin? Are you aware, for example, that Christians believe that *all* are sinful? I am a sinner just like you, who is in need of the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse me from my sin. So, no, we are not “demonizing” anyone because they experience same-sex attraction. What we are demonizing is the idea that a person can *define* themselves according to that sinful desire, because such is a complete denial of the gospel. It is bad news that the person is a slave to their homosexuality, and that the blood of Jesus Christ simply is insufficient to cleanse them of that sin as 1 Corinthians 6:11 says it can. In fact, we *want* homosexuals to repent of their homosexuality, and start fighting against it. We will join them and help them against that battle, and will get them the help that they need. Why? Because we *all* have our sins against which we are fighting, and we are called to help one another in community. Does that sound like “demonizing” to you? Does that sound like “shaming” to you? What about “attacking?”

    No, the reality is, this is a result of a society of personal peace. You can’t dare even tell someone that something is sin, because that is viewed as “demonizing,” “shaming,” and “attacking.” In other words, the idea is that you are not to violate anyone’s personal peace by telling them that they need to repent of their sin. That is the recipe for moral chaos. Imagine not being able to correct your child who takes the last cookie off his brother’s plate and eats it, because it might make him feel “demonized,” “shamed,” or “attacked.” When a society feels “demonized,” “shamed,” or “attacked” by moral and ethical discourse, that society is on its last legs, because it simply has no foundation for moral obligation at all.

  21. Benjamin,

    “Is there not a reason that they are only familiar with male/female marriages?”

    Perhaps back then male and female marriages made the only sense out of the protection and passage of property, or the necessity of producing progeny in order to provide stability and support to aging elders who increasingly relied on the support of others to survive? Same-sex marriages by their very nature would be extremely problematic in that kind of historical context where these things were so important in society.

    Therefore, why then can’t it simply be the case that the man-woman marriage type served these important functions of society well for the vast majority of Jews, and that’s why it was described in terms of male and female only?

    I think the problem here is that you fail to appreciate that the concerns back then are different from ours today and that the functions of institutions then (including slavery) served functions that are no longer an issue today.

    Try to consider how marriage has changed significantly from ancient Biblical times to our own day. Back then marriages were arranged, today they aren’t (at least in the west). Back then a man literally owned his wife and had exclusive rights over her, today they don’t. Back then marriages were polygnous, now they aren’t. Back then men typically married around the age of 30 to women who were 10-15 years younger than them, some as young as 12 years of age. Now that’s not the case. And of course, as already mentioned, marriage played a huge role in property and inheritance rights, as well as in the basic stability of the wider family unit.

    I see the Torah as describing only male/female marriages is because that’s what made the most sense out of a variety of things to the vast majority of Jews at the time. But just because the Bible only describes something in one way doesn’t therefore mean that thing must necessarily be limited to that way. The Bible’s preoccupation with male/female marriage need not limit the institution any more than the Bible’s preoccupation with Kings and monarchy need not exclude democracy.

  22. James,

    “the concerns back then are different from ours today, and that the functions of institutions then served functions that are no longer an issue today.”

    “Perhaps back then male and female marriages made the only sense out of the protection and passage of property”

    Your reasons laid out in the latest post appeal to culture. If God had responded in a cultural way then I would say Amen. But the reason God gave was not based on culture, but His intents from the very beginning. The institution of marriage was given to mankind 4,000 years before Jesus came to us. Surely culture 4,000 years before Christ was much different than in His day. Why would He appeal to a 4,000 year old culture for the reason they in his day have male/female marriages? If we appeal to culture it doesn’t work. We are far closer to Jesus’ culture than Adam and Eve were by 2,000 years.

    But Jesus didn’t appeal to Adam and Eve’s culture, he appealed to God’s intended plan from the beginning.

  23. Benjamin,

    “Your reasons laid out in the latest post appeal to culture. If God had responded in a cultural way then I would say Amen.”

    Yes, the reasons appeal to culture, but I gave them because I was responding to your question on why Jews of Jesus’ day were only familiar with male-female marriages with specific reference to what the Torah says. If you want to discuss Jesus’ argument against divorce and how that may or may not tie in with culture and homosexuality then that’s different.

    “But the reason God gave was not based on culture, but His intents from the very beginning.”

    Yes, that’s true, but only partly I would say. I would differ with you in that I think Jesus here is taking what is historically and culturally very familiar (man-woman marriages) and appealing to the creation texts to make a larger point about divorce specifically. In other words, Jesus takes what everyone knows and challenges them on one aspect of it, namely, divorce. That’s the “intent” part. Notice though that the intent here is specifically in reference to divorce though, not homosexuality.

  24. Sheila,

    >>I don’t see the issue as anti-gay but as pro-Bible. I have no feelings towards gays one way or another. Of those I do know I love them like any other person. I’m professing what it is I believe without bias to anyone. I’m also not in agreement with thieves, that doesn’t mean I hate them or am bigoted towards them. I believe stealing is wrong therefore I align myself with those beliefs. To do anything else would be utter confusion of my personal convictions.

    Thieves victimize people in very real ways that monogamous gay married couples don’t. Yet, you see them as morally equal.

    This is practically the definition of legalism — you turn off real-world, practical morality, even your own feelings, and rigidly follow a law.

    Worse, you demand that other people follow your disputed beliefs about peripheral issues in the bible.

    I believe this is the exact issue that Jesus fought with the Pharisees over.

    And, if the Pharisees were alive today, I have no doubt they would be “family values” conservatives fighting right along side Dr. Brown, in the “culture wars”.

  25. Greg,

    To just have read the Bible by itself, without interference from anyone, I have no idea how you could come to your ideas about things. Left to stand on it’s on the Bible seems clear to me. A lot of people now a days want to emphasize that “God is love” and that we should “live and let live” and all that feel good stuff, but, what is missing, without being melodramatic at all, is that God will also one day judge the earth and all it’s inhabitants. You don’t think He’s going to use our yardstick do you? He doesn’t change, Greg. I have to believe where God is concerned, He’s not wishy-washy like we are, He has a clear set of principles that really are black and white otherwise there’s no way He could judge righteously if the rules changed from one person to another. Here’s an example of how you believe: In one instance stealing is okay because the person was hungry and/or had no money. You’ve just qualified it by giving a “good” reason for his theft as if that makes it okay. Here’s another: Someone goes and sleeps with their neighbor’s wife because he’s secretly in love with her. Does the fact that he’s in love with her excuse the fact that he has just committed adultery? Yet that’s how you would have it. You want to qualify sin. I believe that only in Christ, Jesus, do we have complete forgiveness of our sins, but we can’t continue to walk in them or we’ll be cast out and away from Him, is what Scripture says. That’s how I read it. We have to strive everyday to enter in at the narrow gate. Matthew 7:13, “for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.”

    Do you really not understand my point of view? You can disagree but do you understand it? Some times I get the feeling that you think I have two heads even though I’ve given a firm Biblical basis for my beliefs. 🙂

  26. I think I understand your view because it is the fundamentalist view of the bible that I used to believe.

    But, I’ll see if I can briefly articulate it:

    You think that God, through the bible, gave humans a timeless, moral law which can be applied to modern society without modification.

    Am I close?

    Here is what I believe:

    I believe the bible is God’s inspired word written for a time and a place. That original message does not change. The canon is closed.

    But, when applied to a radically different time and place, adjustments have to be made in order to honor the original intentions of the bible.

    If applied without modification, the bible can be used to hurt people.

    (And certainly has been!)

  27. Pingback: Ask Dr. Brown

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