Monday, January 16, 2012

Culturally Convenient Urban Legends of the Christian Faith

There's a ton of em. Urban legends through and through, yet we're so conditioned to accept whatever comes from the pulpit (from conditioned pastors and teachers), so used to not thinking, not examining, not discerning, that when our beliefs are challenged, we fall into reliance on cliche and urban legends.


For my readers from conservative backgrounds who may not fully understand what an "urban legend" refers to...

urban legenda modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humor, moralizing, or horror: "Are there alligators living in the New York City sewer system, or is that just an urban legend?"

...except in Christian culture there's little "humor" involved with them, but more in the way of moralizing, and in their own way, horror. My recent post about a guy I know coming out as a gay man is relevant. There are probably as many, if not more, urban legends within Christianity about homosexuality as any other subject.


The other day, a FB friend posted a video about Joel Osteen's interview with Oprah. This FB "friend" isn't necessarily a guy I know. He's probably someone who knew of me when I was on the road and made a friend request. No big deal. Lots of my FB "friends" are of the same variety, as I seldom deny a request. This guy's post caught my attention because of the EXCESS of ALL CAPS and the generous use of exclamation points!!!!!!!! When I see those kind of posts in my news feed, I know they're usually religious in nature, and I'll read them out of curiosity. There was a video clip attached (which I didn't watch) with the description saying "Joel Osteen says that homosexuality is a sin, but homosexuals will go to Heaven." To me, the guy posting this, and the people who commented, completely lost the real basis for criticism in what Osteen was saying/doing because they got all worked up into a fundamentalist frenzy.


The problem with what Osteen is/was doing there, from my perspective, is that he was being too political, trying to scratch everyone's back, trying to keep everyone happy - to the point that his point was meaningless - but, he doesn't want to interrupt the cash flow by angering any particular demographic. The fundamentalists are already down on him, so he doesn't worry about them too much, but he makes sure to appeal to the evangelical community (his personal piggybank) with the "homosexuality is a sin" angle, but softens it up with the "but they'll still go to heaven" angle for the sake of the not so evangelical community (his potential piggybank). Smart business, but when our moral compass becomes a dollar bill...ouch.


Those who commented on this guy's post, though, dear God. Some of them were practically foaming at the mouth. "Homosexuals are going to Hell!!!" "Being QUEER is a SIN! QUEER is the right word! Its the word my mama used! Repent! Repent!!! Its SIN!!! Pray Pray PRAY!!!" And of course, the old standard urban legend - "If being a QUEER ain't a sin, God has to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!"


You guys know from my recent writing that I've taken no moral position on the matter of homosexuality, neither condemning nor condoning. The only position I've taken is that it absolutely isn't a black and white issue. Most of the Christian community's views on homosexuality are based entirely on cultural preferences which are justified by urban legend and nourished by not knowing "God's Word", otherwise known as the bible. Here in my own home state, while I can't speak to current law, as of a decade or two ago, there were still "sodomy" laws on the books. If only people knew that the application and use of the term "sodomy" was the product of biblical ignorance and urban legend (an urban legend that might give fundamentalists a heart attack), it'd probably disappear from our vernacular.


Let's be clear - Sodom and Gomorrah weren't destroyed because of homosexuality. What was their sin? What reached God as a "shriek"?...


Ezekial 16:49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.


And from the Message...


The sin of your sister Sodom was this: She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury—proud, gluttonous, and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs and lived obscene lives. And you know what happened: I did away with them.


Excess. Gluttony. Becoming proud, fat, and lazy in their excess and gluttony. Uncharitable.


I dove in the comment thread on this guy's wall, which by now was populated with several Holiness ministers joining in the "SIN!!!" and "GOING to HELL!!!" and "God destroyed the QUEERS!" mentality, and I made a simple comment that brought a quickly and heavily traveled conversation to almost a complete halt for several hours. My comment was...


"Why does the bible say Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed? It wasn't homosexuality, btw. You guys should read Ezekiel 16:49."


Things went silent for a while, and then one of the Holiness pastors chimed in with the Genesis 19 account of the people of Sodom wanting to "carnally know" the men in Lot's house - therefore, THAT, not gluttony, excess, and a lack of charity, was the sin of S and G. Geez. That account isn't about homosexuality. It's about perversion. What was going on outside of Lot's house would've been perverse whether gay or straight. Gluttony and excess always leads to perversion. What went on at Lot's house was nothing more than a by-product of gluttony and excess, the same way mud is a by-product of rain.


Then, someone chimed in with "God's word says it's an abomination!" I don't deny, according to the OT, that at least at one time, God called it an abomination for man to lie with man (Leviticus 20:13). But then again, there are many things called "abomination" in the OT which are called clean in the NT, so anyone taking Levitical Law literally and applying it rigidly is handling the text irresponsibly - and probably shouldn't be pastoring. Eating pork, for instance, was an "abomination" under the OT law. When I brought this up to one of the Holiness ministers, his response was "Anything I pray over I can eat, bro. You need to read the bible." Judging by his profile pic, he prays over a lot of stuff. He was also helping me make my point.


The conversation ended when I asked, "When's the last time you preached on gluttony? Have you ever preached on that?"


*crickets*


You wanna know where much of the urban legend about Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction being due to heinous homosexuality comes from?...


The Book of Jasher 19:
  1. And by desire of their four judges the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had beds erected in the streets of the cities, and if a man came to these places they laid hold of him and brought him to one of their beds, and by force made him to lie in them.
  2. And as he lay down, three men would stand at his head and three at his feet, and measure him by the length of the bed, and if the man was less than the bed these six men would stretch him at each end, and when he cried out to them they would not answer him.
  3. And if he was longer than the bed they would draw together the two sides of the bed at each end, until the man had reached the gates of death.
  4. And if he continued to cry out to them, they would answer him, saying, Thus shall it be done to a man that cometh into our land.
  5. And when men heard all these things that the people of the cities of Sodom did, they refrained from coming there.
I've heard several ministers use some form of this story to support a message against homosexuality - obviously having no clue where it came from. OMG! Taking beliefs from something other than the infallible, inerrant, complete and finished Word of God?!!! Pfft. People do it all the time, even those who so adamantly claim they don't. They're just lying to themselves...and everyone else in the process. I used to not scrutinize this kind of thing, cause it usually supported my own cultural leanings and religious addictions. Now I do. 


Just so you know, this Book of Jasher has been proven fraudulent and a work of fiction. Any "belief" taken from it is false and is the genesis of an urban legend. Any teaching supported by it is false and is the genesis of an urban legend. There are no known surviving copies of the text of the Book of Jasher referred to in Joshua 10:13 or 2nd Samuel 1:18.


You know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that something has become a "pet sin" when urban legends are used to support it. It's why I believe we should continually examine to see if we're devoted to Christ, to Christianity, or to a particular conservative Christian culture. Those are all distinctly different things, and I think what we'll find often surprises us - but only if we look at it honestly, and most Christians aren't really willing to.


We should know why we believe what we believe - and it should have more depth than cliche or urban legend.

81 comments:

  1. THANK YOU for posting this, Lewis! you've put into words, once again, what was in my head. :)

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  2. There seems to be a contradiction within the bible itself over why Sodom was destroyed.

    Ez. 16's says that Sodom's sin was being ungracious, if not outright hostile, to strangers. However, later in Jude 1:7, we find this:

    "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." (NIV)

    So, really, what we have here is a documentation in the change of interpretation of the story from 640BCE (when Ezekial was written) to 90CE (when Jude was written.) Somewhere in between that time the moral of the story was changed from "be better to strangers among you" to "let God kill all the dirty, perverted sinners!"

    Did a cultural attitude shift (probably exposure to Greek and Roman sexual practices) in the population allow for a different interpretation of the story, which somehow made it into "God's word"?

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    1. That's entirely possible. I'd say even likely.

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    2. That brings up another point. I took a lot of grief over having recently said that we should consider that the OT writers, inspired or otherwise, didn't always "get" God...Jude was the half-brother of Jesus Christ, and grew up in the same house with him - so a lot of people would probably jump to the conclusion of "If anyone would know what Jesus thought about it, it'd be Jude", but, the gospels make it clear that Jesus' biological family seldom "got" him.

      Very thought-provoking stuff.

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  3. Lewis,

    If you read the entire chapter, you'll find that "Sodom" is identified. It also starts out by God telling Ezekiel to identify the sins of Jerusalem.

    In verse 46, "Sodom" is identified as "Jerusalem's "sister", Samaria. So, the mention of "Sodom" in verse 49 (which you quote above) is referring to Samaria.

    Ezekiel then proceeds in verse 51 to tell Jerusalem that Samaria (Sodom) has not committed half the sins of Jerusalem. Therefore, the judgment of Jerusalem will be far greater because of her greater whoredoms and harlotry.

    Also, Jesus warns of the same thing as Ezekiel, judgment in various cities of Israel being greater than that of Sodom (Matt. 10:15, 11:24 - Mark 6:11 - Luke 10:12, 17:29)

    Then, in Revelation, Jerusalem is referred to as "Sodom".

    I say this, because the urban legends you speak of can be started by various people using various sources, including Scripture.

    And in this case, a little in context reading and study will reveal exactly who God is referring to by the term "Sodom" as well as their particular sins, thus preventing the genesis of another urban legend.

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    1. I'm pretty sure Samaria wasn't "done away with" as was Sodom. Sodom and Samaria are being compared there, not substituted.

      Samaria was called the "older sister". Sodom the "younger".

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    2. Just for clarification...

      Ezekiel 16:46 “Your elder sister is Samaria, who dwells with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who dwells to the south of you, is Sodom and her daughters."

      Samaria the elder sister. Sodom the younger sister. Sodom wasn't being substituted for Samaria.

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    3. Oh, and Samaria, in verse 51, isn't Sodom. 48, 49, and 50 deal with the younger sister, Sodom, and 51 and 52 deal with the elder sister, Samaria.

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  4. Wow. Thank you so much for your thoughtful examination of this extremely relavant issue. You have definitely given me pause to consider the issue in a new light, and I will continue to search the scriptures for fyrther light on the matter. I have a question though: in Acts 10, it seems contextually that Peter is referring to the switch from associating with and evangelizing only with the Jews to also Gentiles as well. Do you think it is a bit of a hermeneutical stretch to include homosexuals in that group? If not, why? I would suppose it might boil down whether a person is "born gay" or not, which then if they are leads to the question of whether God predestines sexual orientation in the womb. Which also raises the question of whether being born with certain predispositions exempts them being sin.... I mean David said he was conceived in sin, but I'm not sure whether he was referring to his sin nature or that his father was involved in a sinful relationship with his mother. But I know we are all born with a sinful nature before we are born again as Christians (observing a two-year old can make this humorously clear). Sorry for the boatload of questions, I would be super-interested to hear your thoughts though. I have several gay friends who know what I feel the Bible says about homosexuality, and it's a common topic of discussion for us since they can't seem to separate the concepts of "hate the sin, love the sinner" as far as God is concerned. Either God must love their homosexuality, or He doesn't love them, etc.

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    1. "in Acts 10, it seems contextually that Peter is referring to the switch from associating with and evangelizing only with the Jews to also Gentiles as well. Do you think it is a bit of a hermeneutical stretch to include homosexuals in that group? If not, why?"

      As far as it being a stretch, I don't necessarily think it is. Others may disagree. I think it's important for ALL of the OT teachings to be evaluated and re-evaluated in light of the veil being torn and the new covenant coming into place. I think man's relationship to God then became personal, and while there are and ever will be some givens (murder, adultery, gluttony, excess as examples), a lot of sacred cows are no longer sacred for every man, but only for those to whom they're sacred - if that makes sense.

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  5. Maybe with Jude, it's like you said "You don't get rain without mud".

    Jude chose the judgment of S&G as a result of the false teaching of license. Teachers telling believers, "Hey man, you want to go hook up at an orgy? Go for it! Want to sleep with your mother-in-law (vis. Corinthians)? You're free baby!". That's making a mockery of the Sacrifice of the cross and denying Jesus as the King by refusing His commands.

    The fact that the people of Sodom were able to form a mob and chill outside Lot's house to gang rape some male visitors is the epitome of gluttony. They didn't have anything else to do?

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    1. "The fact that the people of Sodom were able to form a mob and chill outside Lot's house to gang rape some male visitors is the epitome of gluttony."

      Indeed.

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    2. what do you call Lot's offer for the mob to rape his 2 virgin daughters, if only they'd leave his male [illegal] visitor alone?

      dude, *NOT* saying that it's okay to rape ANYONE as punishment - but, given the city and it's laws, it WAS illegal for the "man" to be in Lot's house when he was there, and given that he was an Angel, there was no freaking reason at ALL for it to be that way.

      and then again, there was Lot, offering his 2 virgin daughters up to a mob a rapists. because it was required by Biblical law at the time for women to be killed if they were raped... because an Angel isn't capable of defending himself or escaping. hell, are Angels even physically rapable?!

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    3. "what do you call Lot's offer for the mob to rape his 2 virgin daughters, if only they'd leave his male [illegal] visitor alone?"

      Just another example of misogyny on the part of cowardly men- all too common in the world, then and now. In a word, sin, but that's such a small word for such a heinous action. After that question, I can't make heads nor tails of what you've written.


      Actually it's not Biblical law to kill women who are raped- it's Biblical law to stone people having sex outside of marriage and it is assumed that if a woman didn't scream she was a willing participant. If the woman screamed, or if said assault occurred out in the country, she was not guilty of adultery; only her assailant was guilty. OTOH, that's still hugely misogynist because it means as long as a rapist puts a knife to your throat he can get away with rape. And of course, if the unmarried woman wound up pregnant from such an assault, she would be guilty as an adulteress, while all the father had to do was deny the incident and he was free.

      The OT law was/is very misogynist. But how does that affect the anti-homosexual reading of this incident? Sorry that I can't follow your point, but I am trying to figure it out. Can you help me out?

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    4. belated response - in my understanding, the crime lay in the treatment of "aliens" or visitors to the town (Exodus 23:9), so it was better for Lot to offer his daughters, who were not aliens, rather than allow his guests to be harmed. Doesn't make it any less a horrible misogynistic episode (and I don't think the passage condones Lot's action - note that the angels save the whole family by pulling Lot back into the house and barring the door; they don't say "okay" and toss the daughters out), but that is the answer to the homosexuality issue. It's not gay sex (or even rape) that's the issue, it's the violation of a guest.

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  6. I am not a bible scholar, nor am I from the hyper-fundamentalist camp. I'm just a regular christian guy raising a family of 3 in the midwest. I didn't see your reference to Romans 1 in your post. I've always felt like any sin starts when people (even us today) "did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful" (Rom 1:21). Then in Romans 1:26-27, it talks about God giving them up to vile passions, where men and women both gave up the "natural use" of their bodies to that which is "against nature". Just wondering about your thoughts on that passage in Romans.

    BTW, I may not always agree, but I really enjoy your blog. I believe it will be helpful to many people who find themselves under "the law" rather than under "grace". We are all trying to work through the scriptures to find the truth.

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    1. It could be symbolic or representative of the gluttony and excess of S and G leading to various perversions. It'd be interesting to know exactly what Paul meant by "against nature" - especially in light of the discoveries of modern science concerning sexuality. If by "against nature" what's really being said is "the nature of God", I could see that in the sense that the nature of God is love, and sex generally becomes sexual perversion when love exits the equation.

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  7. You can't stop in Romans 1:27 and understand the whole discourse. You MUST keep going:

    Romans 2 (King James Version)

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    Romans 2
    King James Version (KJV)
    Romans 2

    1Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

    2But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

    3And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

    4Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

    5But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

    6Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

    7To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

    8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

    9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

    10But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

    11For there is no respect of persons with God.

    Really, you can't stop of Romans 2:9 either, or you get the idea that salvation is based on your deeds and motivations. Nope, you need to read the whole book to catch the point of the letter. Modern Christianity with its cherry-picking of verses seems to always end up "straining at gnats while swallowing camels."

    Thanks for the post Lewis. The vile and violent gang rape/torture of the stranger that the men of Sodom had planned would be no less vile if their proposed victim had been female. The fact that Christian pastors preach as though the big sin is here is that they were going to rape a man instead of a woman disgusts and frightens me.

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  8. If one looks at Romans, it is rather clear that the sin is something completely different:
    21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

    And, 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another

    Note the 'Therefore'. I always figured that in this case, any depraved practices (note that I don't consider loving same-sex reltionships to be depraved or sinful) followed from the fact that they were forgetting God - their idolatry leads to other sins (and probably to temple prostitution and other things Paul was generally against).

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  9. Well, also we could address the fact that just as in the heterosexual community there are well adjusted people who are able to truly love and care for another person of the opposite sex,and who are able to express some of that depth of feeling through sex-there are gross, vile and immoral "hetero sexual" persons who only want to use and abuse the partner they are with.... So, the example of the perverse guys ganging up outside Lot's house probably does not represent "homosexuality" to many homosexuals, but violence and perversion.

    This is lawlessness... total " let's act like animals here" type of stuff. As Shadowspring mentioned, how vile that preachers would only preach against the gay part of the story. Let's throw the girl out to the wolves...

    I remember reading that some conservative gay couples, particularly those with children, are boycotting some of the Gaypride parades because of the outright pornographic and S $ M performances that some participants are taking part in . These kind of things would be equally repugnant in a "Heteropride" parade.

    I am not getting into my opinion on what to think about the homosexual in light of God's word. I just think that to teach about God's view of homosexuality using this story as a model would be like using a hard core pornographic magazine to teach about God's view on marriage.

    Let's at least be as consistent as is humanly possible!

    One more thing-why do Christians (who believe that being gay is a sin) teach that we are ALL born with sin nature, but that it's not possible to be born gay? Do they think that homosexuality is a sin SO supreme over all other sins that it is in a class by itself?Not part of original sin? Kind of a "Super Sin"?

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    1. "why do Christians (who believe that being gay is a sin) teach that we are ALL born with sin nature, but that it's not possible to be born gay? Do they think that homosexuality is a sin SO supreme over all other sins that it is in a class by itself?Not part of original sin? Kind of a "Super Sin"?"

      I think they do actually classify it as something of a "Super Sin". To consider that someone might actually be born gay would take away their ability to point out this Super Sin and feel comfortable in their own belief system, so they reject science in favor of culture. To many insecurities would have to be dealt with.

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  10. Since Jude is using the word in the active sense _and_ with the prefix "ex", I would submit that a more accurate translation than "committing fornication" (KJV) would be "pimping out". But that opens a whole other bag of "Christian urban legends" worms -- the way the Bible is translated according to theology.

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  11. A friend in ChristJanuary 16, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Hi Lewis,
    I read down to Ezekiel 16:50 where God continues speaking. Don't you think that this verse covers homosexuality too?

    I think all sins are the same whether it is lying, adultery, swearing, or homosexuality. It's not specific sins that keep people out of heaven, but it is lack of trusting in Jesus for salvation.

    So, Christians who really want to be as Jesus was should not be angry against a homosexual for his deeds, any more than they would be angry at their own young chidren for being disobedient occasionally.

    Sin is sin whether a person is 5 or 105. The only difference is that as we age, the consequences of our sins tend to get more complicated.

    So, we just need to speak about salvation to everyone regardless of what they are doing or have done in the past. We also need to be gracious and loving to all so that they would want to seek Jesus for His healing from their sins whatever they may be.

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  12. "Don't you think that this verse covers homosexuality too?"

    It could, if you've already arrived at the conclusion that homosexuality is a sin - but, it doesn't mention homosexuality. That has to be "read in".

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  13. My favorite right-wing Urban Myth is that this country was started by 21-st Century-ish Right Wing Patriarchs who envisioned this country as a Christian theocracy......Right. That explains that bit about no state religion.........

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  14. I have read more than once that there was no word for "homosexual"...in fact, the word was essentially created in English to describe a disease (though the American Psychological Association eventually decided that it is not a disease) or a crime ("homosexual" rape in jail--an act about violent domination, in which what we now call sexual orientation is not particularly relevant).

    There was not, if I understand correctly, any concept of "sexual orientation". So what gives with various Bible translations mentioning homosexuality? And isn't it difficult to condemn that which you are unaware exists? (That could also explain why Paul might describe certain acts, even when they occur between 2 consenting adults, as "unnatural"--it was presumed that every man was attracted to women, and every woman was attracted to men as the natural order of things.)

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    1. The words usually translated as "homosexual" are more literally understood as (variously) "men who go to bed (or have coitus with or lie down with) men" and "effeminate men." There are also phrases that describe the actions ("men who forsake the natural use of women and lust after each other" or "[men who] lie with a man as a woman." Outside of the Bible there were certainly plenty of specific words (see Catullus 16 for some eyepopping) for homosexual acts as well.

      The concept of sexual orientation as an identity or fixed part of your personality did not exist in the ancient world, although certainly the idea that, say, a man might prefer men or boys to women or girls as sexual partners was well-known and more or less accepted (in the Greco-Roman culture--I suspect it was different in the Jewish ethos), especially if the man had the (public) role of the penetrating participant--being a male receptive was seen as feminizing, at least to the Romans. Female homosexuality, as in the Bible, and in most of today's "Christian" discussion of the subject, was more or less ignored.

      This is why I am very careful about what I say the Bible says. The Bible does not say that "homosexuality" is a sin. "Homosexuality" is an abstraction (and you are correct that the term originates in the 19th century writing on human psychology) that includes in it much more than the Bible specifically talks about--which is certain acts between men or men who engage in certain acts, acts which may or may not have involved prostitution, slavery, pederasty, and other nasty stuff. Certainly the acts described in Rom. 1 have a clear context of pre-existing idolatry.

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    2. Interesting...makes sense with Ancient Greek culture.......not sure

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  15. Lewis,
    I hurriedly read chapter 16 this morning before leaving the house. You were right in what you said about Samaria and Sodom. I was wrong and a bit hasty.

    As far as the sin of Sodom in verse 50, the word abomination covers only specific sins and are, relatively speaking, very few. Sexual sins between heterosexuals are mentioned as well as sexual acts between the same sex and are called "abominations".

    Though, as you say, they are not specifically mentioned in verse 50, neither can they be specifically eliminated, because they are by Scriptural use of the term "abomination," broadly included.

    The "reading in" you mentioned is not really reading in. It is the use of other Scripture to tell us what is included in the term "abomination". And it's not limited to Sexual activity.

    "Reading in" would be limiting the term "abomination" to only homosexual activity. Scripture doesn't do that.

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    1. You know, you were asked to leave the conversation here some time ago, acknowledged as much - yet continued to submit personal comments directed at me.

      I published your comment this time to demonstrate your little game of "gotcha". You got in just a little too big of a hurry to disprove my post.

      Stop. Submitting. Comments.

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  16. i read several references to science in this blog which taken in prospictive dont hold alot of weight they change all the time and mostly to a certain view which is a joke science says we come from monkeys and yet we still have them and nothing else evoles but the way we live which certainly not the best thing i have seen just saying maybe we need to think before believe

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    1. If you've written off science, and see it as a threat to your faith, maybe you aren't the appropriate person to be encouraging others to think.

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    2. *sigh*

      Science does not say we come from monkeys. We share a primate ancestor with them, but we do not come from them. As to nothing else evolving...this is false. Other than that, I really wish you would make sure of your spelling, punctuation, and grammar before bashing science because you come off as really silly.

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  17. Michelle, the word so translated is found only in Paul (and in Greek Fathers who discuss him) and would seem to have been an invention of his. I would translate it "man-penetrators" (although literally it is more of a euphemism than that). The existing Greek words we could interpret as having anything to do with homesexuality revolved around someone's not being a tough enough man or someone's being a male prostitute, neither of which is exactly what we mean by "homosexual". It's been pointed out to me by a scholar of ancient cultures that Paul's world (the Roman world) considered immaterial what a man's sexual _object_ was; only if he himself were to _become_ the sexual object of another man did social, moral, or legal approbation come into play. Paul invented his own term possibly in order to be at pains to overcome that unfair presumption.

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  18. P. of Heaven: To make "abomination" be about sorts of sin, instead of about whatever it is about seafood that offended Yahweh's tastebuds, is the "reading in".

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  19. Wasn't Sodom destroyed not because of sin, but rather the lack of enough righteous people? He would have spared the whole city if but 10 righteous people were found.
    K

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    1. To my thinking, the two (sinfulness and a lack of righteous people) would go hand in hand. Think about it this way - the most righteous man in the city offered his daughters out to the crowd to have them gang-raped.

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  20. Michelle,

    That is a big can of worms. This is as much as I know...Lewis, I'm hoping you'll catch anything I say that's blatantly wrong....

    Obviously in the Roman world, same-sex intercourse was indeed happening, particularly (though not always) between older men and younger boys, in part because women were seen as being disgusting and inferior. Though whether the Romans/other cultures had, at that time, a word that means broadly "homosexuality," I don't think they did. (Lewis??) What they did have were words to describe the active partner in a sex act (in homosexual encounters, this was usually the older man) and the passive partner in a sex act (usually the male prostitute or young boy).

    The Romans didn't see sex in terms of "hetero OR homo." They saw it in terms of "active OR passive." Your sexual identity did not consist of whether you liked "same OR opposite"....your sexual identity was "are you the aggressor OR passive recipient?" And any combination of guy/girl, guy/guy could fit those descriptions. Being dominant was good. Being passive was bad. Male prostitutes and women = passive = bad. Manly men = dominant with boys and women = good.

    From what I understand, these two words--meaning the dominant male sex partner and the passive male sex partner--are the words that show up in that Romans verse. Unfortunately, it's often translated as just "homosexuals" in general, losing some of the nuance, and that has led to confusion.

    Some people see that verse as being ONLY a condemnation of the practice of exploiting young boys/exploiting sex (in other words, healthy homosexual relationships are still okay). Some translations, however, interpret it as "No guy who is sleeping with another guy is without sin...the active and the passive partner, both are in sin." (This is my ridiculously inaccurate paraphrase). Because they didn't have a word for "homosexuality" Paul was using all the descriptors he had available for it at the time. So goes that side of the argument.

    Personally, I hope that the Holy Spirit brings the church as a whole real clarity on the truth of this issue. I don't care about being "right." I can see the arguments on both sides....I just want to know what's true. Anyway. That's what I know about the ancient words for homosexuality, though admittedly I am NOT an expert.

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  21. Hopewell, right? I don't understand why the myth of the founding of this country is so prevalent when the slightest bit of research would show that the US was most certainly NOT founded as a Christian nation! Out of the major Founding Fathers, only John Jay was an orthodox Christian. In fact, Christianity didn't even make up the majority of the US until the 1800s - up until then, the European Enlightenment was still the primary influence. There are countless quotes from Adams/Madison/Jefferson/etc that are so obviously derisive of religion and Christianity in particular, but even that's not enough to persuade many Christians that their theocracy of America is a fabrication.

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    1. Well, I read a biography of John Adams and he was definitely a Christian, but he was also very clear about the intentions of the Founding Fathers to create a secular nation-- that the government not be tied to any religion whatsoever.

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    2. Adams DID attend a Unitarian church, but the Unitarians were not exactly Christian in the Protestant sense- they were much like deists in that they didn't belive that Jesus was God or subscribe to the idea of a Trinity; they believed in works-based salvation. Many of his quotes would most definatley scandalize orthodox Christians of today, and yet they claim him as one of theirs: "The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity" is but one.

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  22. to lewis , not just writting off science but it is theroys that are maniputled for an outcome just like the manipulation of mens minds as you have stated many times and do agree with that .you stated the only part of reason why sodom was destoried in the passage you used ezk 16 thers is a big AND abominations we guess what they are just saying dont just believe sceience look in tp it may not be viable

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    1. Science isn't presuppositional in nature. If it were, it wouldn't be science. Scientific theory and science are two different things. Scientific theory may be presuppositional, but science, in and of itself, isn't.

      The bottom line with Sodom and Gomorrah, whatever sexual perversions were there were just by-products of the gluttony, excess, laziness, and lack of charity. To say that homosexuality was the cause of their destruction is at worst bigoted, and at best ignorant.

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    2. but the on homosexuality science identifies a part of the brain which also the part of the brain that is stimulated when a person is musicly incline so is that all musicians are homo i think not a man is nomore born a homo than is one born a murder its their choice or yours or mine thanks for conversation very interesting

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    3. "but the on homosexuality science identifies a part of the brain which also the part of the brain that is stimulated when a person is musicly incline"

      Regardless of whether or not what you're saying is accurate, I have to ask...Do you know this because you've researched it? Or do you know this because someone in your church told you it's so?

      If you'll think about what you're saying, you're almost arguing against your own viewpoint. Musically inclined people don't choose to be musically inclined, so, if that's your point of reference - do the math.

      When the brain reacts to pheromones, there's no bias, no presupposition. Pheromones are odorless, colorless, tasteless, invisible. Just as the sexual response areas of the brains of straight people are stimulated by the pheromones of the opposite sex, in gay people it happens with pheromones of the same sex.

      "a man is nomore born a homo than is one born a murder its their choice or yours or mine"

      You know this how, exactly? So you're saying that you, as a heterosexual, could "choose" to be aroused by a member of the same sex? Think about it.

      How do you feel about people born with both male AND female parts? What would your sexual advice, from a spiritual perspective, be to them?

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    4. just made it up to laugh at response its killing me its almost like you have your on little cult koolaid drinkers evrywhere

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    5. You do realize that I have your IP address marked, right? And have since the first time you visited, right? It's not like I don't know who you are.

      I'm trying to be gracious here.

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  23. Great post. Growing up gay in a homeschooling Christian fundamentalist household, I got the message loud and clear that God forgives all - except homosexuality. I was told God hated gay people, it's a choice made only by those who are so far beyond God's reach that they are already effectively dead. I knew that I had not chosen to be gay. I would've given absolutely anything to be 'healed.' And it struck me as grossly unfair that a supposedly loving God would create me wrong just to torment me for eternity. It destroyed my faith, in addition to causing depression that I still struggle with a decade later. Now I'm trying to slowly sort out who God is and separate that from what I was taught. I hope that some day those who so cruelly and casually damn gay people will realize the lasting harm they are doing. If you believe that being gay is a sin that is completely okay. But let's leave the judgment and condemnation to God.

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    1. (((Anonymous 12:22))) Thank you for sharing your heart with us. It was the courageous brothers and sisters in Christ who told their stories on the DVD 'Through My Eyes' available from
      http://www.gaychristian.net/
      that finally helped me understand. No way homosexual attraction is a sin, because it's not a choice. No way homosexual attraction is demonic, because believers can't be possessed by the devil, and Jesus promises to heal all who are oppressed of the devil. If after years of prayer and fasting, God doesn't change you, it's because He loves you just the way you are. I am proud of the ELCA and other churches that celebrate holy commitments for life of homosexual couples. I pray that the misguided discrimination will stop in my lifetime. I must love my brother as Christ loves me, and that means just the way God made you, Anonymous. Love and good will, SS

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    2. Shadowspring, thank you for your kind words. I am still wrestling with the concept of God loving me as I am. I only stopped trying desperately to change out of exhaustion. It was miserable, leading a life constantly in conflict. I put the people who love me through a lot of pain before I finally gave up on hating myself. I started my relationship with my partner with the idea that I was accepting a life without God, but it was stunning how much of a difference it made just letting go, loving who I love and finally really living. I am much more useful this way.

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  24. Well there is a refreshing point of view.

    Anonymous, I am so sorry for the condemnation that came your way.

    Is there any way that people can believe that there is a sin issue involved here, but affirm that the gay person is fully human, worthwhile as a person, and has a relationship of their own with God? I pray so, because I think that is where I am with the issue.

    I don't think there is choice involved, at least not typically. Why would there be? I didn't choose my sin nature, either. I think I was born with it, if my theology is right. I guess the muddy water appears where we start talking about how to live it out, but I know that I have sinful thoughts and inclinations that I entertain, so I can't judge anyone else.

    And, I know it is hurtful and must seem stunningly arrogant for one person to tell another that loving another human being is "indulging in sin" . For that, I apologize and ask your understanding that I am simply trying to use a very flawed and limited mind to understand what God really thinks.(a lofty task)

    I will tell you that I have been a homeschool mom for 20 + years and a Christian just slightly longer, and the 2 things that always seemed awful to me in church and among other Christians were the Ezzo type method of babycare, and the hateful lack of compassion toward homosexuals. None of my kids were EVER taught to feel this way, and in fact most of my older kids think that being gay is just how some of us are wired.

    I hope that you can reconnect with God and let Him comfort you. You are of great value to Him . It has been fairly recently that I have really, truly understood that I am loved by God and that I deeply love Him. Alot of formulas and laws and presuppositions had to be dismantled before this could happen. Thank you for your understanding of those of us who are struggling with this.










    I have many thoughts and inclinations that I think are sinful also

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    1. Laura, I think that it is possible to believe homosexuality is a sin, whether you mean the attraction or the sex act, and also believe that gay people are completely redeemable. I think the key is to put the same emphasis on homosexuality as you would put on any other sin. As long as it doesn't become a pet sin, an unforgivable sin, the thing that unites all right believing Christians against those other, pretend Christians and assorted hellbounds.

      If being gay is a sin, if loving my partner is wrong in God's eyes, then I'll trust in His mercy and grace, as I must on every other issue.

      I think the answer is more love. That may sound glib, but I know that where I am now, it's the best answer I can think of. Coming back to God after feeling for years that I was irredeemable, I've had to deconstruct everything I was raised to believe and start from a foundation of love. God loves us, we ought to love each other. Everything else is details and subject to evolution.

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  25. I am baffled at the way your post suddenly started retelling the old Greek myth of the evil innkeeper Procrustes and his Procrustean bed. Procrustes had an iron bed and invited/coerced any passing stranger into sleeping on it. If the stranger was too short, he stretched him ( like on a torture rack) and if the stranger was too long he chopped the stranger's legs off ( not the entire legs, just enough to make the stranger the right length). Did this fraudulent Bible book you're talking about have other retellings of Greek myths?

    I don't actually see any homosexual subtext either in the Greek myth I heard or in the version you've recounted here. There seems to be much more homosexuality in the story of the calling out of the angels, and it's interesting to hear your interpretation that the story is about gluttony and excess more than it is about homosexuality. That seems plausible.

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  26. "Did this fraudulent Bible book you're talking about have other retellings of Greek myths?"

    I'm probably the wrong person to ask, but based on this, I'd say probably so. Here's a link to it if you want to check it out...

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/apo/jasher/index.htm

    "I don't actually see any homosexual subtext either in the Greek myth I heard or in the version you've recounted here."

    I don't either, but, you mix this story with fundamentalist fury and the factual license that comes with it, and they were "doing this to rape people" or something similar. The speakers I've heard use some form of this story would know nothing of Greek mythology or of the Book of Jasher. They just heard someone else use the story, it fit their cultural/religious bias, and they ran with it.

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  27. One thing , in response to Shadowspring's kind message to Anonymous...do you think we sin because we choose to, or because we are born with a sin nature? If we only sin by choice, could we become sinless by choice? I don't think that the fact that we think some people are born gay is an effective argument in light of original sin. There are lots of other arguments but I don't think that one is very consistent if you think it through.

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    1. I guess that just depends on our own personal belief regarding original sin. Original sin isn't a belief I hold (I don't believe we're born totally depraved, otherwise Christ would've been born totally depraved, too), so for me, it doesn't weigh into the equation.

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    2. Jesus calls us to love so many times and in so many ways. A same-sex attraction is not lust, as fundamentalists have taught. It is the same affection, admiration, appreciation for and yes, ultimately romantic/sexual attraction to a same gender person that we heterosexuals feel for persons of the opposite gender. Is the Song of Solomon a record of a sinful proclivity? I have never heard it presented as such. Why would it be good for me to love my husband but not good for my gay neighbor to love his husband? Would you approve if their relationship were not physical in any way? Is that righteous and loving your neighbor as yourself to say you can feel love for whomever the Lord leads, but you may not ever fully express that relationship in physical affection?

      Do you really believe that a person loving the Lord with all their heart, seeking him in steadfast prayer, Bible study and obedience can be depraved? I don't. I trust the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Jesus said if you ask for the Holy Spirit, that's what you get. There is no way that something as foundational to a person's being as faliing in love is depraved. I just don't see how you can continue to maintain that stance. I know I couldn't.

      Order the DVD or just visit GayChristian.net and hear what your gay brothers and sisters in Christ have to say. We know people by their fruit, according to Jesus. The gay Christians I know personally have good fruit (better than many heterosexual Christians, including so called "men of God" aka preachers). It is plain that they love Jesus and live holy lives of piety and service to their fellow man.

      Remember, with Jesus it was always people over doctrine. Gentiles were also unclean (Roman soldiers, Syro-Phoenician mom, Samaritan women), as were women on their period (issue of blood), people implicated or caught in sexual dalliances outside of marriage (adulterous women, prostitute) and according to Paul in Romans 1-2, pretty much all of us. Jesus welcomes us into his presence and kingdom. While the adulterous woman was told to go and sin no more, other "unclean" identifiers were not called out as sin- nationality, gender, physical symptoms. And homosexuality was not unknown at the time of Christ, yet Jesus never calls it out. Why does the church who professes to follow him then neglect the things Jesus focused on and focus on things Jesus did not call us to confront?

      The final straw for me was the translations of the word porneo, called fornication in some texts and prostitute and male prostitute in others. The proper translation is WHOREMONGER, i.e. PIMP or SEX TRAFFICKER. Forcing and/or coercing others into the sex trade and imprisoning them there is probably the most heinous crime a person can commit against another , and we (Christianity) turn a blind eye to the real criminal and instead choose to make it out as if people in consenting relationships are the real problem. Straining at gnats while swallowing camels. May God have mercy on the American church, because the truth is that as a whole we are just a bunch of goats.

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  28. But I thought Jesus was born of a virgin and that was why he was not depraved at birth?

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    1. Even so, he was "just like us", completely able to sin.

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  29. Lewis, that is one of the problems (among many) that I have with the mentality of the Pearls and much of the Christian homeschool movement...that they somehow have a notion that if you shelter and punish and indoctrinate enough, you will somehow end up with a perfect sinless person. They seem to also discount original sin?

    I am surprised at your belief(lack of) in original sin. What is your take on salvation? Do you think we are all sinners, but not due to original sin but rather due to the inevitable nature of it all?

    Perhaps my thoughts about homosexuality seems inconsistent to some when taken alongside my belief in the sin nature of man.(What kind of God would wire a sin into a person and then judge them for it?) But if we abandon dogmatic and formula based thinking, we may find lots of paradoxes, don't you think?

    I would like to say to Shadowspring that I do grasp the concept of people above doctrine. In fact, one of my older kids who is in the mental health field, always tells me that it was pretty much my mantra when they were growing up. That does not, however, mean that I must automatically hold a particular point of view on this or any other issue. Only God can successfully combine justice and mercy...

    For the person who has escaped fundamentalist thinking to reconfigure their belief system with what is simply a new set of standards and formulas can lead to the same smug, "I've got it all figured out based on my rules about what God can and cannot think" kind of mind set that we have all run screaming from. Let me ask this- I have posed the same type of question to my young earth creationist friends. Let's pretend that suddenly Christ Himself appeared in front of you and stated that yes, the gay lifestyle is sin? Would you stop believing? Would you no longer love Him? Would He not be the God that you have hoped Him to be? I remember a very powerful thing that I read in the book "Tortured for Christ".The author said how he loved Christ so deeply and personally, that even if He turned out to be not the only God, he would never stop loving Him. Pure fantasy, of course (and very paraphrased)...but do we love HIM, or do we love what we think He has to be for us? Every believer (myself at the head of the line) should consider this question.

    Notice I have never said anything about thinking that this sin (if it is ) or any other sin keeping someone from being a saved child of God. Given my own grasp on my own failings, I don't believe that. I don't think that there is anything that can remove us from His grasp.( Just in case some of you think that I am running around proclaiming who will go to hell...this all or nothing mentality about the gay issue really bugs me, as though if we don't totally take the pro side, without even a passing thought, we are hateful and judgemental....hmmmm...reminds me of fundamentalist thinking!)

    Well, Lewis, here is a good test case of your theory that no one can be meaner than one Christian to another in the event of a disagreement. I will prepare my shield!!!

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    1. "Let's pretend that suddenly Christ Himself appeared in front of you and stated that yes, the gay lifestyle is sin? Would you stop believing? Would you no longer love Him? Would He not be the God that you have hoped Him to be?"

      If he said "Your thoughts about modern science and homosexuality are wrong. People aren't born that way. They choose to be that way", it'd be kinda hard to argue with that. I hope that I'll always adapt to truth, rather than expect truth to adapt to me. On the other hand, if he said "Yes, people ARE born that way, but it's sin", he'd be making himself not quite so appealing, and he'd have some explaining to do. That would be an awful thing for a "good" God to do to his creation.

      "I remember a very powerful thing that I read in the book "Tortured for Christ".The author said how he loved Christ so deeply and personally, that even if He turned out to be not the only God, he would never stop loving Him. Pure fantasy, of course (and very paraphrased)...but do we love HIM, or do we love what we think He has to be for us? Every believer (myself at the head of the line) should consider this question."

      I can't speak for everyone, of course, but in my case, there certainly ARE qualifiers to my love of Him. In other words, I don't simply love God because he's God - that's religious addiction. He has to be lovable. I liken it to my ex - I still love her, but due to some obvious occurrences, I don't want anything to do with her. She isn't nearly the same woman I initially fell in love with.

      "that is one of the problems (among many) that I have with the mentality of the Pearls and much of the Christian homeschool movement...that they somehow have a notion that if you shelter and punish and indoctrinate enough, you will somehow end up with a perfect sinless person. They seem to also discount original sin?"

      To me, the problem with their approach isn't whatever view they hold concerning original sin, but it's in their reliance on works and formula.

      "I am surprised at your belief(lack of) in original sin. What is your take on salvation? Do you think we are all sinners, but not due to original sin but rather due to the inevitable nature of it all?"

      I think we're sinners because we make the choice to sin. I wouldn't be comfortable worshiping a God who created me spiritually faulty and then judges me for what, in essence, amounts to being created spiritually faulty. That would be HIS shortcoming, not mine. It'd be like God creating me with purple elbows and then judging me for having purple elbows.

      Also, I'm not a supporter of professing Christians calling themselves sinners, undeserving, wretched, et cetera. If we're in Christ, he speaks for us - and none of those things are true any longer. That isn't to say that I'm above sinful choices. I'm not. But if I'm caught in a cycle of "undeserving, wretched sinner" thinking, I'd have to start asking myself "Has Christ really done anything for me?", because it would seem to be becoming pointless.


      Speaking generally here (not at you)...a lot of these ideas are symptomatic of religious addiction.

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    2. I met Richard Wurmbrand in person, and volunteered for his ministry back when it was still called Christian Mission to the Communist World. He is a beloved brother, whom I actually think would surprise us all were he here in the mix today. He was extolled by some when he hid Jews from the invading Nazis, yet those very same people despised him when he hid Nazi soldiers from the advancing Russians. He was a strong believer in person over doctrine, and showed the same love to all, regardless of their politics, religion or nationality.

      Your argument "if Jesus appeared before you" is pretty specious. If Jesus ever appears before me (again, because I have had a life-changing personal mystical experience with Jesus though I would not go so far as to claim that He appeared before me in bodily form) I know from experience that it will not be to call out any sin. Jesus is holy, and that holiness is a pure good will and love that supercedes any human attempt at holiness. No, I am quite sure if He appeared before me it would not be to tell me that I was soft on some sin that he abhored. I am quite sure that I'm safe in that respect, and that He will (again) welcome me with love and affection.

      I think it's interesting that you think I am guilty of being a person that has "reconfigure(d) their belief system with what is simply a new set of standards and formulas can lead to the same smug, "I've got it all figured out based on my rules about what God can and cannot think" kind of mind set that we have all run screaming from" because I no longer believe that homosexuality is a sin. How did I come off as smug? As I was merely answering your questions.

      I came to my beliefs honestly, through prayer, research, study and experience. Listening to the other side is promoted as wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and in the life of Jesus we see that he was always asking questions of everyone. It is good to listen to others with an open heart. It is good to study with a desire to know truth, like the truth about the word "porneo" (plain to all who look; even original KJV folks will find the word "whoremonger"- like the word "fishmonger" it means one who sells the root noun, in this case "one who sells whores") and the blatant truth that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah at the angel's visit was gang violence/torture including intended kidnapping and rape that would probably have resulted in murder. How blind do you have to be to overlook that heinous crime and focus on the gender of the victim? Is it smug of me to point that out? Do you have a better suggestion of how to phrase that (to me obvious) truth that you would not consider smug?

      The doctrine of original sin was proposed by Saint Augustine of Hippo in his book The Confessions of Saint Augustine. If you read the book (and I have, studiously, cover to cover), you'll find that at the time this great truth occurred to him, he had a mistress and child that he later abandoned to join a monastery. What a man, huh? If we are to know people by their fruits, and show caution, how on earth did this immoral, irresponsible, deadbeat dad become a church father? It would be one thing if it was after he became a committed believer that he proposed the doctrine of original sin, but he was an adulterer at the time. Judging a man by his fruit, I categorically reject his teaching.

      I am not sure how you found anything mean in any of the words I have written to you on this post. I have merely stated my conclusions, based on my study of the Word (now throwing in some church history too =), my experience as a human being beloved by God and a sister in Christ led by His Spirit for many years now. If you can show me anywhere I have been mean to you, I will gladly apologize. I answered your question as humbly and as honestly as I could.

      Best wishes, SS

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    3. Laura wrote:

      "this all or nothing mentality about the gay issue really bugs me, as though if we don't totally take the pro side, without even a passing thought, we are hateful and judgemental....hmmmm...reminds me of fundamentalist thinking!)"

      What are you talking about? I shared my beliefs and how I came to them. No one called you hateful or judgemental. Where did you get that idea?!?

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    4. I guess I'm a little confused (not judging, just genuinely confused) by the idea that a "sin nature" would mean that God was creating someone sinful on purpose and then punishing them.

      Just a little background here, but I was born in a very loving family that always portrayed a loving view of God, so I definitely see him as a loving father and not, as some have so hilariously put it, Old Smites-A-Lot. :)

      But I've never had problems reconciling that with the idea that all humans WILL sin, and that God wants to pull us out of that inevitable sin. From the way that I understand the sin nature (and I think Paul would agree with me on this? I hope?), everyone does have a pull towards sin. Everyone. We have it because we live in a fallen world, and not because God made us that way "on purpose." But if we are born, we will grow up with sin tendencies. Some people's tendencies will be different than others. That doesn't mean God put them there; they are a product of the fallen world.

      If you read the story of the Garden of Eden (whether you read it literally or figuratively, btw) you get the idea that God did not originally "intend" the human body to grow old and die. Yet we know this happens to all of us, despite it not being God's perfect plan. Does that mean God's inconsistent? No, it means that is one result of the fallen world. It's one of the things that God intends to fix in the future kingdom.

      In fact, there are a lot of bad things in this world which are beyond our control, like earthquakes and tsunamis and being born into an abusive family. Some of these things are with us from the time we leave the womb, like the genetic predisposition to alcoholism, anxiety, depression, or even Sickle Cell Anemia. That doesn't have to mean that God is putting each one of those things there on purpose and then turning around and pointing his finger at us for being that way. It's like death; we inherited it by being born into a fallen world. Yes, it stinks. Happily, God loves us anyway!

      Because of that, I'm not sure why it's a big problem to believe in a sin nature.

      And SS, I may have read Laura's post wrong, but I thought the quote you referenced was her comment on the church atmosphere in general, rather than specific comments on the blog?

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    5. If Jesus told me to my face, Laura, that the gay lifestyle is wrong ... then, yes, I would stop believing. I am convinced that homosexuality is NOT a choice, and I wouldn't want to love a God who would create gay people that way only to thrust them in hell for being who he made them to be. Would you, Laura? I'd never be able to live with myself.

      When I started taking steps back towards Christianity after years of spiritual crises, I knew that I would have to find a way to reconcile my convictions with God. I chose to believe the Bible is not inerrant. And I decided that a loving God could never condemn homosexuals, whatever verses the Christians claim from the Bible as their arguments that being gay is a choice and a sin. I have read good arguments about the verses supposedly condemning homosexuality in the NT only being cultural, applicable to that time, on the Gay Christian Network, but even should that be false, I don't care. So I burn in hell. I want nothing to do with a fickle, evil God. I know I could be accused as "creating a God in my image," but this is what I have to believe in order to even think about returning to Christianity.

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    6. I've been think about this discussion since i was in the hospital...

      AnonymousJan 18, 2012 02:58 PM said "you get the idea that God did not originally "intend" the human body to grow old and die"

      like many non-Christians, I've studied the Bible a lot, and like many pagans, have struggled to fit the Bible into my belief system.

      God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent. yes? could such a being NOT KNOW what he was creating and what would happen?

      this is just *MY* take, granted - but this: God created the world. for whatever reason - and, as a side note, how MANY worlds has He created? we were created in His image; how MANY images does he have? i think that we'll find people who are trilateral who were made in It's image [as I'm hoping in a trisexual race, the Neuters would be the "top" sex...] - he created Man, then Woman [joke: God created Adam, then created Eve as the upgrade :D ]. he set them down WITH the Trees - and you don't think THAT was deliberate? a SNAKE - a thing that has no Will, as a human does [i.e. Free Will] tempts Eve with the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. think THAT'S an "accident"?

      no - i think it was, is, in a metaphorical sense, a CHOICE that God offered, knowing the penalty either way. had they eaten of the Tree of Life first, sure, they'd be immortal - and ALONE. no children.
      they - as vaguely as they understood anything - were given a choice: literal immortality, or figurative immortality but also the ability to REASON. i can't believe that beings without the ability to know Good from Evil made the choice to KNOW blindly - that God, whatever name we call Her, ALLOWED that choice to be made blindly. i believe the snake was the instrument She used to lead her children into being PEOPLE.

      knowledge is NEVER free. THAT is the REAL moral of the Creation story - knowledge is the most precious gem in universe, and God, awesome [in the true sense of the word] as He is, knew that knowledge without price is the truest folly - and so He allowed his children to choose knowledge, and extracted the necessary payment.

      it's the creation story that leads to the idea of "Original Sin" - i.e. that we are ALL born with the "sin" of eating of the Fruit, since [according to the story] we are all BORN because of that "sin". without the "sin", Adam and Eve would still be alive, hanging in the Garden, "happy" as only a pet can be.

      God/dess doesn't want PETS! S/He wants children who will one day grow up enough to give Him/Her real conversations, help in His/Her work.



      that's my take. some of that is, obviously, from my own life - my parents are [now] my friends as much as they are my parents [and I'm as much their friend as i am their daughter. hell, on some things, *I* am the only person they can talk to. which is honestly the coolest thing ever, it's one of the few things in my life right now that I'm really proud of] because to a LARGE extent, one tends to model God after their parents. granted, that's the childish view of God that we all [in theory] eventually outgrow - but it starts there. [i remember looking at my mom one day, when i was 12 or so, and thinking "No wonder i always expect Her to heal me - that's what my mom does all the time, heals people." it shook my world a lot, to realize so much of what i THOUGHT Goddess was, was the stuff about my mom that i most respected. not WRONG to think that, but it made me feel very... unstudied? uneducated? anyway]

      [cont]

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    7. [cont]

      we grow through adversity - ask any high school coach :) but that's a cliché for a reason, because it's true. we are all given adversity, however big or small, because the POINT of life is to GROW, to grow up mostly, but also to learn and to love - to become people that are worthy, in a particular sense, of God. not "worthy" in the sense of "sinless" - we CAN'T be sinless, it's not possible, not because we're inherently sinful, but because A) the world isn't that way but really B) without sin, there is no adversity [whether the sin is ours or someone else's, to cause the adversity, doesn't matter - we all sin, to create adversity] and without adversity, we aren't tested and we don't GROW - and if we don't grow, what use could we be?



      i think God, though She has billions of faces [at least one for every person, ever] must be very, *very* lonely sometimes. or was, once, before She gave birth to us and all the other people, and let us grow up. WE, humanity, hasn't grown up [though SOME of us were OBVIOUSLY in accelerated learning while here!] but i think, over all, we're slowly getting closer. on my best days, i see the evil and hate happening now as something akin to "teen angst and rebellion" - so we ARE getting closer.

      of course, some people don't want to grow up at ALL *coughFUNDIEScough*. God may have to drag THEM kicking and screaming into adulthood...

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  30. With regards to original sin, I don't follow Augustine's notion that God holds us all guilty for Adam's sin. I do think there's something to the idea that we are born with a tendency to choose sin, but I believe we are also still born in the image of God, and therefore we are not "totally depraved." I think this is the balanced view of human beauty and weakness that the whole of the Scriptures, taken together, sets forth.

    With regards to why we love God, 1 John says we love Him because He first loved us. I think ideas of God that turn Him into someone unjust or hateful are mistaken images, or idols. Also, in the Psalms we read, "worship Him because He is good." A god who is not good is not worthy of worship, and thus is not the real God, but a false idea of God that we humans have laid hold of.

    The reason this issue of homosexuality is so difficult is that it's hard to understand how a loving, committed couple, fully capable of entering into a mutually beneficial companionship, are hurting themselves, the creation, God or anyone else; and sin, as we commonly understand it, is defined as sin because it causes harm. So defining it as sin, particularly if a person is born with same-sex attractions that they cannot change, is problematic. And if God calls it a sin unjustly, His goodness and love are called into question.

    I think that to love God just because He is God, regardless of whether He's good or loving or just, is just worship of raw power, and God Himself would disapprove of that, based on His own goodness.

    I would also say that for me, loving Christ even if He turned out not to be who He said He was, would be loving a liar. Though I can love humans even though they are liars, I cannot follow or worship them. So I could not follow Christ in that event.

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    1. Total Depravity is not saying (unlike pop-evangelicalism) that man is totally evil in everything we do (in a moral sense), but everything we do is not perfectly pure (tainted by sin).

      The total in total depravity is scope not in completion.

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  31. To anonymous: Thank you for your kind and understanding reply. You show obvious humility and generosity in accepting that my struggle with all this is not judgemental in nature. I agree that what is really needed is more love. I certainly believe that there is no sin that keeps a believer out of heaven-yours or mine.

    Lewis: I am not challenging your belief on original sin. I guess I am being a bit dense about it.I would like to understand a point of view that is quite different from my own. If you say that we are born without sin, but we all inevitably do sin, isn't that kind of the same concept with different timing? Or, do you think there are some that never sin? I believe that both the free will and predestination crowds are out of whack,and that both concepts have elements of truth. I'm the last one who could explain how it all works out, though.

    I agree that my "what if Jesus appeared" thing is kind of goofy and sounds like the title of a book on the bargain table at the Christian bookstore. I was just trying to make the kind of argument that I have debated with folks I know who are into the whole Young Earth thing. I say "What if you got irrefutable proof tomorrow that the earth was a billion years old? Does that make God less"? In other words, I am leery of us saying that we believe God is God because He believes such and such. What if He doesn't? We can't fir him to our beliefs, that's all.If we do, it's our beliefs that we worship.

    Shadowspring:
    That brings me to the anecdote about Richard Wurmbrand (and I envy you terribly for having been able to meet him). Without a doubt, he must have loved and ministered to countless gay people in his prison ministry. Interestingly, though, he refers to homosexuality in a list of behaviors including lying and adultery in one of his books. I don't think that it is appropriate to imagine what people would think or say unless it is based on a careful study of their words and teachings. Would he have loved and ministered to gay people? Certainly.Would he have judged them? No. Did he think homosexual behavior is a sin? I don't know how he would explain this.Do you?

    There is yet another story about loving Jesus based on nothing more that His being Jesus, where Wurmbrand meets a lady on the street who he said "was in love with Jesus", yet knows nothing more about Him than His name.That's the kind of love I am talking about..we love Him not because He meets our concept of fairness or rightness, but because He first loved us?

    Lastly, I was not saying you were "mean" in your reply, I was really just preparing for adversarial replies and Lewis had mentioned that no one is meaner to a Christian than another Christian who disagrees with him or her.I did think that your reminder to me that "people come before doctrine" was professorial at best and insulting at worst...I will not take it as such, though, since you probably find my stubborn orthodoxy quite small minded and primitive! Let's just all thank God that He loves us and let him deal with us in His own way!

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    1. I don't find anyone's orthodoxy small-minded or primitive. Nor was I small minded or primitive when I agreed with the teachings you embrace.

      I was in no wise being insulting when I explained that for me, a major change in my thinking was deciding to put person above doctrine. Once I stopped segregating myself from my gay brothers and sisters in Christ and asked them to share their experiences, and listened with an open mind and heart, I had to return to the Bible to reconcile the dichotomy between what I had commonly understood the Bible to teach and the reality of holy, chaste, devoted gay Christians. I have shared most of that journey with you already.

      If you sense malice or arrogance or any other negative attribute in my writing, check yourself. I neither implied nor ascribed anything negative to those who disagree with me. I do believe I have found the truth, or else I would not hold to these opinions, but there is nothing arrogant about being honest.

      Pastor Wurmbrand, and the fundamentalist successor Tom White, would not endorse my views in doctrine. But then, Pastor Wurmbrand did not consider the issue important either, not like the Communism/atheism with which his life was concerned. Neither athiesm nor Communism affect my society much, but the segregation and condemnation of homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ does affect my world. Tom White would probably condemn both homosexuality and those who are homosexual. Not that Tom White's opinion matters to me, but I concede to you that he would not accept homosexual believers as equal in the Lord. I do.

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    2. With regards to this:

      "Without a doubt, he must have loved and ministered to countless gay people in his prison ministry. Interestingly, though, he refers to homosexuality in a list of behaviors including lying and adultery in one of his books" --

      I do think it's important to make some distinction in what kind of homosexual behavior we are talking about. I am certainly of the opinion that there is a lot of homosexual practice that is sin, just as there is a lot of heterosexual practice that is sin. Wurmbrand apparently condemned adultery but not heterosexual sex within marriage. I would imagine Wurmbrand would also have condemned "playa" type heterosexual behavior that treats sex like a game and partners like toys. I think the same distinctions should be made regarding same-sex attractions: is the person seeking gratification at the expense of another, or in violation of a commitment to a faithful companion?

      Should all homosexual behavior be lumped together and treated as if it's either all good or all sinful? I'm really not at all sure Paul was saying a committed, faithful same-sex relationship was sinful, based on my understanding of the language and historical-cultural context.

      I do know that I have a lot more respect for a gay person who keeps faithfully to one partner for years, than for a heterosexual person who has a different partner every night.

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    3. Paul was against sex in genersl ["It is better to marry than to burn" is NOT a rousing endorsement, after, especially not when followed with exhortions to never marry at all...] and, taken from a historical/anthropological view of Paul's writing, when he spoke against "homosexuality", he was speaking against ROME. the culture of Rome... where most men of means - the only people allowed any power - had sex with [generally younger] men, and the ONLY way to power in Rome was to be, at SOME point, the "bottom" to a powerful man, who helped you rise to power [and wouldn't help if you didn't have sex with him - that was the system] and then you, in turn, did the same for the next generation.

      Paul HATED sex as much as he hated Rome - and much of his teaching was about "taking over" Roman culture, but changing as many as possible to Christians who were then, based on Paul's works, forbidden to work within the current system... thus, slowly, erroding that system and replacing it with one better to Paul's liking.

      erm - i'm NOT a fan of Paul, and i think most, if not all, of what he wrote shouldn't be included in the Bible. he was a POLITICIAN, trying to change the system. and while he didn't change it for "worse", he didn't actually change it for BETTER, either. sigh.

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  32. Well, here are two biggies that I totally agree with you on. First, people over doctrine. Second, I daresay that this issue wouldn't have been a very big deal to Pastor Wurmbrand, and though he was an imperfect man like the rest of us, he had his priorities a darn sight straighter than most Christians. Let's agree that we can both put people first despite differences in doctrine, if we are humble enough. Thank you for your patience and the time you have taken in explaining your views- I appreciate it!

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  33. Kristen, I agree that you can't lump all gay people together any more than anyone else. That would be like lumping hetero people in with the kind of random sex glorified in porn. I made this same point in an earlier post about the gay pride parade and how some gay couples object to some of the vulgarity found there.

    Any way, just wanted to clarify that I don't see people in these generalizations. Your last point is a good one for sure !

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  34. You learn something new every day. This post only highlights how I view Christianity: so much of what Jesus taught and advocated is lost to so many people because the focus isn't on "loving thy neighbor as thyself," but on what I consider to be ultimately irrelevant issues in the grand scheme of things. I wish that had been how I was taught what being a Christian meant growing up, as well as learning how to put theBible in its proper cultural context(s). I think it would have saved a lot of heartache down the road.

    (I found your blog last month, and it's definitely been a pleasure.)

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  35. Shadowspring;

    sorry - i'm in the hospital and a bit medicated [oh, Duladid - how i hate thee] so i know i'm not being clear.

    the thing is, it's only a MODERN interpretation that gives any thought to the mob wanting to "rape" the Angelic visitor - which it doesn't actually *SAY*, but rather that they are angry that there is this illegal visitor [yay xenophobia, yeah?] and they want to get rid of him.

    men were almost NEVER punished for adultry. they were almost never punished for rape - and gods, if a man raped a woman, the LAW said he could pay the woman's father and MARRY her.

    misogyny and homophobia go hand-in-hand; without the misogyny inherent in most readings, there wouldn't be the same level of homophobia. because half the homophobia is MODERN - especially the OT homophobia - and the rest [especially Paul's] wasn't homophobia, but again *xenophobia* and a hatred of Rome and Roman practices.


    if i'm making *ANY* sense, here...

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  36. Slightly better sense. =)

    I would have to see more proof about the only implication of rape coming in modern translations. Could you provide some links? The excuse of the sin of mob violence as (imho "mere") xenophobia is one thing that caused me to reject completely the earliest gay Christian apologetics that I came across. Very weak explanation for a grievous crime, as far as I can see. I believe I read it referred to as "inhospitality".

    OTOH, the gross (and I mean that both as "wholesale" and "repulsive") misogyny apparent in OT laws and customs is undeniable. And yes, I see how much of patriarchy's disgust with homosexuality is merely an extension of their hatred of all things they consider "womanly". The slur "effeminate" says it all.

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    1. now i feel bad - years ago, in a comparative religion class, i wrote a huge paper on this. sadly, it was years ago, i don't know where the materials are, and i'm in the hospital. when i get out, i'll look around and see what i can find. i know i have them SOMEWHERE, but wherever that "where" is, my boyfriend can't find them.

      a note, though - my first real impression of the whole thing came from a Heinlein novel - i didn't meet a person i knew was Christian til i was 9 or so [when my mom converted] and most of my knowledge of Christianity comes third-hand and/or from my own reading/interpretation of Bible. as Ghandi said - Love Christ, but some Christians... :)

      oh, and you are *SO* right about "effeminate". and "girly" and similar. *shudder* i've always thought it was a bit of rampart jealousy - men can kill, but women give LIFE, you know? [says the woman who not only can't have kids, but doesn't want them...] not to mention the culture-clash between matriarchy and patriarchy that was going on during the time the OT was written. but i really don't understand the misogyny, though i know it's there. i wish SOMEONE could explain it in a way that made sense. oh well...

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  37. I am late here, but I found the comments fascinating, including the original sin thoughts. I was raised to believe in original sin concepts, including 'sin nature' but I don't any longer. I concluded that if Adam and Eve sinned just fine without having been created with a sin nature, then why does anyone think we need a sin nature to sin? Also, as Lewis pointed out, if we were created with a sin nature, that inclines us toward sin, then that is hardly our fault and not at all something we should have to repent of. The one or ones who gave us the sin nature should be accountable. Much more could be said here, but this topic is one that has puzzled me since I began really thinking about it-the whole notion that we were born with something that makes us sin (sin nature) so we can't help but sin. There is no free will there! We 'have' to sin. So then whoever made us 'have to sin' should have to repent for our actions, not us.

    I agree with what Lewis said much earlier in this comment thread that it seems a bit off, to put it mildly, when Christians say they are still dirty wretched sinners but just saved by grace. So what good did their saving do them if they haven't changed? It truly becomes simply a ticket to heaven and that is not how I read and understand the message of the Gospel and what was taught about transforming us in this life, etc.

    A.

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  38. Great post, Lewis.

    I agree with everything here, especially with the fact that this isn't a black and white issue. It really, really bothers me when people condemn/hate homosexuals. I'm not gonna say that ACTING upon homosexual desires isn't a sin (I haven't made up my mind in the area yet), but I WILL say that casting hatred/condemnation upon someone just because of their sexual orientation IS most definitely a sin- worse than same-sex love could ever be.

    All I know is that regardless of whether homosexuality is or isn't a sin, we have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so setting aside those specific people upon this condemned pedestal is acting in precisely the opposite manner of He whom those self-appointed judges claim to emulate.

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