One Christian gay guy’s thoughts and experiences along this whirlwind journey called life.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Still Not Convinced
I want to thank everyone who commented on my last post. You gave me much to think about. But I'm still not convinced.
Several of you brought up the culture issue when interpreting scripture. I think you have a very valid point. But I think you fail to relate culture to all of scripture. You say that certain passages should be taken in light of the culture and society in which they were written, but you seem to fail to apply this to other passages. When the writers of the New Testament books tell us to abstain from sexual immorality, I have to question what they considered to be sexually immoral behaviors. At the time, I think they would have certainly defined sexual immorality by what is written of it in the Old Testament books. Among those things considered sexually immoral would have been gay sex, and very few people dispute the prohibition against homosexual sex as outlined in Levitical law. In applying culture, I think it can easily be reasoned that what was considered to be sexually immoral during the first century AD was based on the teachings of the Pentateuch. So when the apostle Paul or the members of the council of Jerusalem say we should abstain from all sexual immorality, I'd imagine they were talking about that which they knew as being sexually immoral at the time. Based on that, I do believe gay sex was considered a sexually immoral act to them, and that that would have been included in the list of things to abstain from.
Now is the question of love. Is it possible that love would excuse a homosexual relationship? I'll admit, I wonder seriously if it might. However, given that we are told to abstain from all sexual immorality, and given that the apostles more than likely viewed gay sex of any kind as a sexually immoral act, I find it hard to believe that engaging in gay sex, even out of love, would be okay. For if gay sex is considered sin, how are we loving God by giving into it? And even though we are told to love each other, and that that is to be our greatest commandment, I still don't think that would excuse this. For one, sex does not equal love in itself. It is an expression of love. And in the same light, love does not equal sex. Love is about so much more than sex alone. Love is about commitment, patience, kindness, and selflessness. It isn't prideful or boastful or uncaring. I have to say I find it puzzling how some people can say that two men can't love each other, even intimately, without ever having sex with each other. I'll refer to the story of David and Jonathan, which I'll say more about in a follow up post. Is it not possible that these two men actually just deeply loved each other in a Godly manner without ever having sex? I think it is. But I'll refer back to the culture issue with their story. Reading it, and applying it to today's culture and our society, yes, it seems very much so to suggest that David and Jonathan were perhaps lovers. But to see their story in light of the culture in which they lived, would it have been so shocking for two men to be affectionate toward each other and to show signs of love for each other? Such as when scripture says they kissed and wept together? Have we not seen heterosexual Frenchmen in our own time kiss each other as a sign of greeting or recognition? And aren't we told that Judas betrayed Jesus with a “kiss”? Have none of us cried along with our fellow brothers in times of distress or mourning, or had parents not approve of certain friendships?
David, from Resolving Realities, brought up one particular issue, which I hope I can give him an answer to, and that is “why does God not like homosexual sex?” I think if one seriously looks at how God created us, one can find that answer. He created us men and women. Our bodies are designed in very specific ways, and I'd imagine He meant for our bodies to only be used in specific ways. God naturally created men and women in a manner so that they could procreate. It's His design—that's all I can really say (and not to imply that procreation is the only reason for which to have sex). And so, I can see why He might find it offensive when we misuse what He created (our bodies). Think of it this way. A painter paints a beautiful landscape of people walking in a field during springtime. Now, lets say He gave life to his painting, and the men and women in that painting decided to change their colors, their clothing, their setting, until the point where the painters original intent for the painting is completely changed. No longer is it a painting of people walking in a field during springtime, but it's a painting of creatures starving to death during a cold winter. I think the same could be applied here with homosexuality. If it were not okay with God, I'd imagine it's because He didn't create us and our bodies with that in mind. And so to give into that sort of thing, we misuse our bodies—we use them in an unnatural way. That's the best answer I can think of for that question. I hope it makes sense. I'll still come back to the question though, might God be okay with homosexual sex, even though that might not have been His original intent for us, if love is involved? I'm still not sure. I will just add though, for whatever reason God may have against homosexual relations, if that is indeed how He feels, I know that His understanding is so much greater than my own. So, if God tells me that homosexual sex is wrong, I'll have to trust that it's because He knows better than I do. What I think shouldn't matter so much as what He thinks.
Now, I've heard some people mention that the Old Testament teachings no longer apply to us because of Christ. I disagree with that, in part. I think the two go hand in hand. Without the Old Testament, you don't have Christ. And even Christ affirmed many Old Testament teachings. So, I do believe the Old Testament is indeed still valid to us in many ways today. Now, of course, because of Christ, certain teachings of the Old Testament, in fact, no longer apply. I could get into describing traditional, cultural, and moral laws and such, but I'd rather not go down that road again. For those who know what I'm talking about, I would just like to ask if it's possible that the prohibition on homosexual sex could actually have fallen among the cultural laws, rather than the moral laws? If so, would we still be bound by it?
Some would suggest that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was not due to homosexuality, and I'll admit, it may not have been. But I do think the men who approached Lot's house did indeed want sex from his houseguests, and probably by force. The reason I believe this is because it doesn't make sense for Lot to have offered them his daughters as a means to appease them. Why would he make such an offer if the men weren't after sex of some manner? What I get out of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is that those two cities had become so sinful that God had to destroy them less their wickedness carry over into other places. I think there quite possibly was rampant homosexuality in those cities, but likewise there was probably rampant murder, theft, adultery, and any other sin imaginable. What I mean is I don't think the two cities were singularly destroyed because of homosexuality (if that was a cause), but because sin of all types had become so prevalent. You might be able to compare the two cities to two literal hells on earth, and God destroyed them because nothing good could any longer come from them.
What about Paul's made up word “arsenokoite”? This term is generally interpreted as meaning homosexual. Some would argue that what Paul was actually talking about though was either male prostitution, some form of idolatry, or pedastry. However, in 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul already makes mention of those who engage in male prostitution and idolatry. If that were what he meant, he'd have been repeating himself needlessly. So, I do not think he was talking about either of those two things. I do think an argument could be made that Paul was talking about pedophilia (men having sex with young boys) though. However, I've read before that when Paul created the word arsenokoite, what he did was combine two words used from the passages in the book of Leviticus referring to the prohibition on homosexual sex. Joe Dallas makes this claim in both of his books, “Desires In Conflict” and “The Gay Theology?”. The two words used were man and bed, and used in a sexual context. The idea is that Paul was referring back to the prohibition against homosexual sex. If that indeed was what he was referring to, I will admit he did so rather poorly. He could have certainly been a little clearer as to his meaning.
Lastly, I know that not all sins are fought as hard against as homosexual sins a great deal of the time. I recognize this. However, that does not mean that those other sins aren't any less bad. Just because a great number of Christians aren't raising their voices more often against divorce, pornography, premarital sex (of any kind), lying, cheating, or even smoking, doesn't mean those things are any less sinful. Nor does it mean that just because those things aren't as heavily fought against should homosexual sins be less fought against. All sins should be fought against, and in equal measure.
So, that's my thoughts. I'm still not convinced. If any of you have anything you'd like to bring up or add, or try to correct me on, I'd be glad to hear you out. Comments are welcome, but the same applies as before—I refuse to get into any arguments with anyone.