Posts Tagged ‘homosexuality’

A Biblical Same-sex Love Story..

July 29, 2015

The definition of marriage has changed many times throughout the ages. No one holds a monopoly on the word itself. I can certainly share Scripture however, detailing an instance where two men joined their souls together in love, becoming one flesh via a sacred union and covenants sworn before God.

The following is the love story of David and Jonathan, who were bisexual, and which thousands of Christian congregations and many denominations now use as a model for same-sex love and commitment between two men.

(Since this particular translation had to be as detailed and comprehensive as possible to withstand the disbelief of those who will attempt to deny its truth… it’s fairly long… so it’s intended only for those who have the comprehension level, interest, or patience, to read it) (‘Strong’ refers to Strong’s lexicon which is used by theologians around the world for accurate Hebrew translations.. ‘OT’ of course refers to Old Testament, ‘NKJV’ stands for New King James Version and ‘NRSV’ refers to New Revised Standard Version’)

In the early material on David (1 Sam 16-17), three times the narrator calls attention to David’s beauty – more times in the Bible than in any other case. First, the prophet Samuel notes that David “was ruddy [admoni, Strong #132], and had beautiful eyes [yapheh ‘ayinim, #3303, #5869], and was handsome [to behold, tob ro’i, #2896, #7210].” (16:12, NRSV) Then, when a young court servant recommends David to Saul, he describes him (among other things) as “a handsome [to’ar, #8389] person” (16:18, NKJV). Finally, the giant notes that David, his opponent, was “a youth, ruddy [admoni] and good-looking [yapheh mar’eh, #3303, #4758]” (17:42, NKJV).

Here, the common language used throughout the OT to describe beauty is found again, including yapheh and tob (“beautiful, handsome” in both cases), along with to’ar and mar’eh (“[in] figure or shape”). However, new words in the David descriptions include ro’i (#7210, “a … sight [to behold]) and admoni and ‘ayinim, translated as “ruddy” and “eyes” respectively in the NRSV.

Jonathan’s intense love and attraction to David: Not surprisingly, after making such an emphasis about David’s good looks, the reader begins to find responses to this in the text. For example, in 1 Sam 18:1 we read, “Now when he [David] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul [nephesh] of Jonathan was knit to the soul [nephesh] of David, and Jonathan loved [aheb, #157] him as his own soul [nephesh].” Then (v. 3), “Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he [Jonathan] loved [ahaba, #160] him as his own soul.” Later, when the two make a second covenant, we are told (20:17) that “Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he [Jonathan] loved [ahaba, #160] him; for he loved [ahaba, #160] him as he loved [aheb, #157] his own soul.” (NKJV, underlining added) In addition to this, we are told in 19:1 that Jonathan “delighted [kaphes, #2654] greatly” in David” (NKJV).

So, in response to three references to David’s beauty, there appear three references describing Jonathan’s love for him – two of them twice using the verb “love” and the third using the related verb “delights [in].” Strong’s lexicon notes that the aheb (#157) means “to have affection for (sexually or otherwise),” along with the related terms oheb (#159) and ahaba (#160), the last a feminine form. The male and female forms of “love” (verb and noun) appear to be used interchangeably in Scripture, e.g. in Song of Songs 2:4-5, the beloved [girl] says, “He [King Solomon] brought me to the banqueting house, and his intention toward me was love [#160]. Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples; for I am faint with love [#160].” (NRSV)

The Bible records three spiritual unions that Jonathan and David made together. The first covenant was made very shortly after they met. In 1 Sam 18:3-4 (NRSV), we read: “Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul [NIV: ‘as himself,’ nephesh]. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor [NIV, REB: ‘tunic’], and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” The preceding verses relate how after David had finished speaking with Saul, “the soul [nephesh] of Jonathan was bound [qashar] to the soul [nephesh] of David, and Jonathan loved [aheb] him as his own soul” (v. 1); and after this, Saul would not let David return home (v. 2). The emphasis here clearly is on the intense love Jonathan felt for David, expressed through the combined and repeated use of “loved,” “bound [to]” (this used only once), and nephesh, which indicates the extent of Jonathan’s love (as compelling as the love and interest one has toward oneself).

Jonathan’s intense attraction to David appears in the narrative like a bolt out of the blue: spontaneous, intense, and earth-shattering for him. He expresses this love then by the giving to David all of the clothes he was wearing and all of the weapons he was carrying, the significance of which represented the entire “giving away [of] one’s own self,”.. i.e. the giving of his whole heart and self to David.

The second covenant was made near the end of their time together in Gibeah and is recorded in 1 Sam 20:16-17 (NRSV): “Thus Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the Lord seek out the enemies of David.’ Jonathan made David swear again, by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own life.” (1 Sam 20:16-17, NRSV)

20:42 (NRSV) records, “Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendents and your descendents, forever.’” The repetition of aheb/ahaba (“love/loved”) and of nephesh (“as [much as] his own life”) in 20:17 is a very clear emphasis on this pact having strongly homoeroticized elements as well as political elements.

The third covenant was probably made several years later and is noted in 1 Sam 23:18 (NRSV): “Then the two of them made a covenant before the Lord…” the pact made in 23:18 is not merely “a simple extension or re-confirmation of the [earlier] pact” described in 1 Sam 20, for the later pact looks deeper into the future and “lays down the work distribution and relationship which is the center of everything.” The third pact is understood as a “fresh, bilateral covenant defining their new relationship.” In fact, each of the three pacts, while containing a common core of expressed love and commitment, seems to differ from what was pledged before, and so advances in content and adds detail to their relationship.

Just as three times our attention is directed to David’s beauty (16:12,18; 17:42), so also three times we are told that Jonathan “loved” David (18:1,3; 20:17). Even though there are different forms of the word ‘love’ in Hebrew, the exact same Hebrew word aheb (“loved/fallen in love”), used in 18:1 referring to Jonathan, appears also in 18:20 referring to the princess Michal, where it has been rendered as “Michal had fallen in love with David”, or “…fell in love with David” Such a reading is bolstered by 19:1 which relates how Jonathan continued to take “great delight [kaphes] in David” (NRSV), since kaphes almost always appears in OT passages concerned with sexual desire and erotic love.

This interpretation is further bolstered by comparing the Jonathan and David relationship to that of Shechem and Dinah in Gen 34, where the Hevite prince falls madly in love with Jacob’s daughter (underexpressed in the Hebrew, as usual, with “was drawn to,” v. 3, NRSV). Here we have exactly the same language as appears in 1 Sam 18:1,3 and 19:1, used in Hebrew to describe erotic passion which has led to sexual union – including “loved” (aheb), “heart” (nephesh) and “delighted [in]” (kephes) (34:3,8,19, NRSV), as well as the idea of “longs [for]” (kasaph, v. 8; J. Green: “bound [to]”), although 1 Sam 18:1 uses a different verb for this (qashar).

In 1 Sam 18, Jonathan and David lived together in the capital city a number of months, perhaps up to a year, as David masters the arts of sword and bow (Jonathan at his side), gains real-life experience on the battlefield, and leads Israel’s army to many glorious victories (18:16,27,30; 9:8). However, in chs. 19-20 time rapidly speeds up. As Saul’s jealousy and rage toward David intensify, he hides his murderous attempts from Jonathan, while David’s life becomes one of terror, trying to keep one step ahead of Saul and his henchmen.

Then, at a New Moon festival celebrated at court, Saul asked Jonathan why David was absent; and the prince explained that David had asked leave to join his family for an annual sacrifice in Bethlehem (20:6,27-29). “Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen [bachar] the son of Jesse to your own shame [bosheth], and to the shame [bosheth] of your mother’s nakedness [‘erwa]? For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.’” (1 Sam 20:30-31, NRSV). Then the enraged king hurled his spear straight at Jonathan, who jumped and fled in anger from the king’s table, realizing, at last, what a dangerous and deadly position David was in related to his father.

Although the first part of Saul’s insult has usually been translated like “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman!” (18:30a, NRSV, cf. NIV, NRSV), the Hebrew is quite vulgar and would be more accurately rendered as, “You son of a slu.!” or “You son of a bi…!” Interestingly, Lucian’s version of the Greek Septuagint adds gunaikotraphe (“effeminate man”) here (Driver), an idea which Chrysostom reiterates (ca. 400).

Then, the second part of this insult reads, “Do I not know that you have chosen [bachar] the son of Jesse to your own shame [bosheth]…” (18:30b, NRSV). Instead of the verb bachar (Strong, #977) in the Hebrew, meaning “to choose.”

The importance of the third part of this insult, which reads “…and to the shame [bosheth] of your mother’s nakedness [‘erwa]” (18:30c, NRSV), cannot be denied. This final phrase is loaded, in fact, with sexual terminology, including ‘erwa (“nakedness”), most often used in the OT to refer to the genitals and the repeated bosheth (“shame”), which is almost always used in a sexual context.

One really has to ask, what was Jonathan doing – nakedly, sexually and shamefully (to his father at least) – to receive such an insult as this? In fact, the language throughout 20:30 is so extremely sexually-charged it goes well beyond rationality to believe that we are not meant to interpret it in sexual ways.

So, we ask, was this merely deep friendship or a romantic relationship? In Exhibit A, upon their first meeting, Jonathan is said to have loved David as his own soul and to have given him his most precious possessions. Jonathan’s father uses language of sex and shame when he decries Jonathan and David’s relationship in a fit of rage. We see Jonathan and David’s passionate, tearful goodbye, and Jonathan reminding David of the eternal covenant they have made to each other — a covenant David still honors years later, even though honoring it is politically incorrect. But if you are still not convinced this was a romantic relationship, there is one more piece of biblical evidence — the smoking gun, so to speak. The story has one more passionate chapter.

In the first chapter of 2 Samuel, the author tells us that after Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle, David tore his clothes and fasted, a sign of deep mourning. He wept and wrote a song, which he ordered all the people of Judah to sing. In that song, he included these words:

“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
How the mighty have fallen in the midst of battle!
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
I am distressed for you my brother Jonathan;
Greatly beloved were you to me;
your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”
(2 Samuel 1:23, 26-27, emphasis added)

Here it is in black and white. David states the love he shared with Jonathan was greater than what he had experienced with women. Have you ever heard a heterosexual man say he loved his male friend more than his wife? This goes well beyond deep friendship between two heterosexual men.

In this story, we have a direct biblical answer to our question: Can two people of the same sex live in a loving, committed relationship with God’s favor? The answer is “yes,” because Jonathan and David did, and the Bible celebrates their relationship.

For those who will bend over backwards in an attempt to say it was only a ‘friendship’, I’d like them to share how many well-known examples they can provide of heterosexual male ‘friends’ who upon meeting each other for the first time, has one making a declaration of love for the other one, making 3 sacred covenants of ‘love’, devotion and spiritual union with each other over the course of time… disrobing completely and giving their clothes, weapons, and heart to their friend in the form of a covenant… having the father of one friend insult his son in an explicitly sexual manner over their relationship, and while also having one friend state that his love for him “surpasses the love he has for any woman.”

By that reasoning… there should be hundreds of similar detailed, explicit, and well-known heterosexual examples readily available for someone to contribute… except, there aren’t any.

Source: http://epistle.us/hbarticles/jondave6.html

sergiusdavidjonathan

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God does not ask us to choose between compassion and faith in the Bible.

July 10, 2015

-By John Shore, who invites anyone to freely share his writings below. John Shore (who is a heterosexual Christian pastor) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians, and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John’s two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.

God does not ask us to choose between compassion and faith in the Bible.

Christians are increasingly divided over the issue of the acceptance and inclusion of gay persons into the church. The debate itself is usually framed as essentially pitting the Bible, on one hand, against compassion and social justice on the other. Our Christian hearts, runs the (usually impassioned) argument, compel us to grant full moral and legal equality to gay and lesbian people; our Christian faith, comes the (usually impassioned) rebuttal, compels us to cleave, above all, to the word of God.

Compassion for others is the fundamental cornerstone of Christian ethics; the Bible is the bedrock of the Christian faith. What Christian can possibly choose between the two?

The answer is that no Christian is called upon to make that choice. The text of the Bible on one hand, and full equality for gay and lesbian people on the other, is a false dichotomy. God would not ask or expect Christians to ever choose between their compassion and their faith.

Reconciling the Bible with unqualified acceptance and equality for LGBT people does not necessitate discounting, recasting, or deconstructing the Bible. All it takes is reading those passages of the Bible wherein homosexuality is mentioned with the same care that we would any other passage of the book.

We can trust God; we can trust that God is loving.

And we can trust that we can—and that we certainly should—take God, in this matter, as in all things, at his word.

If there is no clearly stated directive in the Bible to marginalize and ostracize gay people, then it is morally indefensible for Christians to continue to do so.

What cannot be denied is that Christians have caused a great deal of pain and suffering to gay persons, by:

Banning their participation in the church, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of the church.

Banning their participation in the sacrament of marriage, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of marriage.

Damaging the bonds between gays and their straight family members, thus weakening the comforts and spiritual fruits of family life for both gays and    their families.

Using their position within society as spokespersons for God to proclaim that all homosexual relations are disdained by God, thus knowingly contributing to the cruel persecution of a minority population.

Christians do not deny that they have done these things. However, they contend that they have no choice but to do these things, based on what they say is a clear directive about homosexuals delivered to them by God through the Holy Bible. They assert that the Bible defines all homosexual acts as sinful, instructs them to exclude from full participation in the church all non-repentant sinners (including gay people), and morally calls upon them to publicly (or at least resolutely) denounce homosexual acts.

Without an explicit directive from God to exclude and condemn homosexuals, the Christian community’s treatment of gay persons is in clear violation of what Jesus and the New Testament writers pointedly identified as one-half of God’s most important commandment: to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

The gay community has cried out for justice from Christians, who have a biblically mandated obligation to be just. Because the suffering imposed on gay persons by Christians is so severe, the directive from God to marginalize and ostracize gay people would have to be clear and explicit in the Bible. If there is no such clearly stated directive, then the continued Christian mistreatment of gay and lesbian people is morally indefensible, and must cease.

Heterosexual Christians are being unbiblical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are not tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.

Homosexuality is briefly mentioned in only six or seven of the Bible’s 31,173 verses. (The verses wherein homosexuality is mentioned are commonly known as the “clobber passages,” since they are typically used by Christians to “clobber” LGBT people.) The fact that homosexuality is so rarely mentioned in the Bible should be an indication to us of the lack of importance ascribed it by the authors of the Bible.

While the Bible is nearly silent on homosexuality, a great deal of its content is devoted to how a Christian should behave. Throughout, the New Testament insists upon fairness, equity, love, and the rejection of legalism over compassion. If heterosexual Christians are obligated to look to the Bible to determine the sinfulness of homosexual acts, how much greater is their obligation to look to the Bible to determine the sinfulness of their behavior toward gay persons, especially in light of the gay community’s call to them for justice?

Some Bible passages pertinent to this concern are:

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. John 8: 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the lawRomans 13:8-10

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you Colossians 3:11-13

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Matthew 23: 23-24

A fundamental tenet of Christianity is that we are all born sinners, that we have no choice but to exist in relationship to our sinful natures. And so Christians accept as inevitable that any given Christian will, for instance, on occasion drink too much, lust, or tell a lie.

As we’ll see below, in the clobber passages Paul also condemns, along with homosexuality, those three specific sins. But Christians don’t think that they are expected to never commit any degree of those sins. They understand that circumstances and normal human weaknesses must be taken into account before condemning any transgression. We all readily understand and accept the moral distinction between drinking socially and being a drunk, between a lustful thought and committing adultery, between telling a flattering white lie and chronically lying.

Even a sin as heinous as murder we do not judge without first taking into account the context in which it occurred. Self-defense, protection of the innocent, during a war—we recognize that there are times when taking the life of another is not only not a sin, but a morally justified and even heroic act.

Christians evaluate the degree of sin, or even whether or not a real sin has occurred, by looking at both the harm caused by the sin, and the intent of the sin’s perpetrator.

They do, that is, for all sins except homosexuality.

Virtually any degree of homosexual “transgression” gets treated by some Christians as an absolute sin deserving absolute punishment. Such Christians draw no moral distinction between the homosexual gang rape in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the orgies to which Paul refers in his letter to the Romans, the wild sexual abandon Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, and consensual homosexual sex between loving and committed homosexual partners.

Heterosexual Christians are being unfair and hypocritical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality (and an absolute penalty) to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are never tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality (and applying no real penalty) for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.

As there is no demonstrable harm arising from sex within a committed homosexual relationship, and there is significant demonstrable harm arising from the discrimination against and condemnation of gay persons, what possible biblical basis can there be for not recognizing the vast moral differences between sex acts done within the context of a loving committed relationship, and sex acts of any other sort?

Here are a couple of Bible passages that any Christian should bear in mind whenever he or she is called upon (or at least emotionally compelled) to render a moral judgment:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.Luke 6:41-42

The Bible isn’t a rulebook, and Christians cannot lift out of its context any passage from it, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of that passage.

The New Testament is two thousand years old, the old Testament much older. The Bible’s cultural contexts, along with the translation at hand, is always taken into consideration by any Christian serious about understanding this vast and complex work.

To excerpt any isolated short passage from the Bible, and then claim for that passage absolute authority, is to fail to take the Bible on its own terms. If we wish to follow the word of God, then we must take the entirety of God’s words into account. For example, when the Bible itself identifies some of its words as proverbs, it is bestowing upon those words less moral weight than other words that it identifies as commandments. The Bible itself tells us that some of its contents are songs, some visions, some histories, some dreams, some parables, and some commandments. The Bible itself also instructs Christians that New Testament moral directives supersede Old Testament moral directives. The Bible itself tells us that its moral principles supersede any of its moral “rules.”

The context of any Bible passage is as integral to its meaning as the passage itself. It may be appropriate to give equal weight to each clause within a business contract, each step within a set of mechanical instructions, or each rule within a game rulebook. But the Bible itself tells us that the Bible is not a uniform document, with each passage spelling out something clear and specific, and all passages having equal value. The Bible is not a rulebook for being Christian. We would be foolish to fail to understand that not everything in the Bible is a commandment, and that Christians cannot take a small section of the Bible out of its larger context, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of that section. Isolating a clobber passage from its context, and then claiming a sort of moral helplessness because “it’s in the Bible,” is failing to take the Bible either literally or seriously.

Using the four Old Testament passages to condemn all homosexual acts is not in keeping with any Christian directive from God, nor with the practices of contemporary Christians.

The Bible’s first four references to homosexuality occur in the Old Testament.

While continuing to be spiritually inspired and influenced by the Old Testament, Christians were specifically instructed by Paul not to follow the law of the Old Testament, in such passages as:

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:18-19

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. Galatians 3:23-25

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another …Romans 7:4

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14

In practice, Christians do not follow the dictates of the Old Testament. If they did, polygamy would be legal, and things like tattoos, wearing mixed fabrics, eating pork, and seeding lawns with a variety of grasses would be forbidden. If Christians followed the dictates of the Old Testament, then today if the parents of a new bride could not, upon her husband’s request, prove that she was a virgin, that bride would have to be stoned to death. Christians would also have to stone to death any Christian guilty of adultery. And the Christian day of worship would be Saturday, not Sunday.

Clearly, Christians no longer cleave to the rules of the Old Testament.

Therefore, the use of the four Old Testament passages to condemn all homosexual acts is not in keeping with any Christian directive from God, nor with the practices of contemporary Christians.

In the clobber passages Paul condemns the coercive, excessive, and predatory same-sex sexual activity practiced by the Romans—and would have condemned the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.

Because Christians’ understanding and practice of New Testament prescriptions naturally and inevitably evolve along with the society and culture of which they are a part, at any given time in history Christians have always selectively followed the dictates of the New Testament. Whenever a specific biblical injunction is found to be incongruous with contemporary mores, a reshaping of the conception of that injunction is not only widely accepted by Christians, it’s encouraged, as long as the new thinking is understood to be in keeping with overriding timeless biblical moral principles. This is why Christian women no longer feel morally constrained to follow Paul’s directives to leave their hair uncut, to keep their heads covered in church, or to always remain quiet in church. It’s also why the Bible is no longer used to justify the cruel institution of slavery, or to deny women the right to vote.

Just as those thoughts and understandings of the New Testament changed and grew, so today is it becoming increasingly clear to Christians that the three New Testament clobber passages (each of which was written by Paul in letters to or about nascent distant churches), when understood in their historical context, do not constitute a directive from God against LGBT people today.

Here are the three references to homosexuality in the New Testament:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. — 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” —1 Timothy 1:9-10

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. —Romans 1:26-27

During the time in which the New Testament was written, the Roman conquerors of the region frequently and openly engaged in homosexual acts between themselves and boys. Such acts were also common between Roman men and their male slaves. These acts of non-consensual sex were considered normal and socially acceptable. They were, however, morally repulsive to Paul, as today they would be to everyone, gay and straight.

The universally acknowledged authoritative reference on matters of antiquity is the Oxford Classical Dictionary. Here is what the OCD (third edition revised, 2003) says in its section about homosexuality as practiced in the time of Paul:

“… the sexual penetration of male prostitutes or slaves by conventionally masculine elite men, who might purchase slaves expressly for that purpose, was not considered morally problematic.”

This is the societal context in which Paul wrote of homosexual acts, and it is this context that Christians must acknowledge when seeking to understand and interpret the three New Testament clobber passages. Yes, Paul condemned the same-sex sexual activity he saw around him—because it was coercive, without constraint, and between older men and boys. As a moral man, Paul was revolted by these acts, as, certainly, he would have been by the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.

The Bible’s clobber passages were written about same-sex acts between heterosexual persons, and do not address the subject of homosexual acts between a committed gay couple, because the concept of a person being homosexual did not exist at the time the Bible was written.

It is critical to our reading of the New Testament’s three clobber passages to understand that while Paul would have known about sex acts that took place between persons of the same gender, he would have had no concept whatsoever of homosexual persons. Virtually no one in Paul’s time was “out”; no one lived, or in any way publicly self-identified, as a homosexual. Paul had no reference point for an entire group of people who, as a fundamental, unalterable condition of their existence, were sexually attracted to persons of the same gender, and not sexually attracted to persons of the opposite gender.

Here is the opening of the OCD’s article on homosexuality:

“No Greek or Latin word corresponds to the modern term ‘homosexuality,’ and ancient Mediterranean society did not in practice treat homosexuality as a socially operating category of personal or public life. Sexual relations between persons of the same sex certainly did occur (they are widely attested in ancient sources), but they were not systematically distinguished or conceptualized as such, much less were they thought to represent a single, homogeneous phenomenon in contradistinction to sexual relations between persons of different sexes. … The application of ‘homosexuality’ (and ‘heterosexuality’) in a substantive or normative sense to sexual expression in classical antiquity is not advised.”

We can be confident that Paul was not writing to, or about, gay people, because he simply could not have been, any more than he could have written about smartphones, iPads, or televisions. We do not know what Paul might write or say today about gay people. All we know is that in the New Testament he wrote about promiscuous, predatory, non-consensual same-sex acts between people whom he understood to be heterosexual.

The Bible does condemn homosexual (and heterosexual) sex that is excessive, exploitive, and outside of marriage. It does not, however, address the state of homosexuality itself, much less the subject of homosexual acts between a married gay couple. Christians, therefore, have no Bible-based moral justification to condemn such acts.

Because there was no concept of gay marriage when the Bible was written, the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts within the context of gay marriage.

The Bible routinely, clearly, and strongly classifies all sex acts outside of the bonds of marriage as sinful. But, because when the Bible was written there was no concept of gay people—let alone, then, of gay marriage—the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts within the context of marriage.

By denying marriage equality to gay people, Christians are compelling gay couples to sin, because their intimacy must happen outside of marriage, and is therefore, by biblical definition, sinful. Christians, in other words, cause gay people to sin, and then blame the gay people for that sin. By any decent standard of morality that is manifestly and egregiously unfair.

Being personally repelled by homosexual sex doesn’t make homosexual sex a sin.

In addition to the Bible, many Christians cite as evidence of the inherent sinfulness of homosexual acts their own emotional response to such acts. It is understandable that many straight people find homosexual sex repugnant (just as many gay people find heterosexual sex repugnant). It is normal for any one of us to be viscerally repelled by the idea of sex between, or with, people for whom we personally have no sexual attraction. Young people, for example, are often disgusted by the thought of senior citizens having sex. And who isn’t repulsed by the idea of their own parents having sex? (When, rationally speaking, we should rejoice in the fact that they did—at least once!) But it is much too easy for any person to mistake their instinctive reaction against something as a moral reaction to that thing. Outrage isn’t always moral outrage, though the two usually feel the same.

It may feel to a straight Christian that their instinctive negative reaction to homosexual sex arises from the Bible. But all of us necessarily view the Bible through the lens of our own experiences and prejudices, and we must be very careful to ensure that lens does not distort our reading of God’s sacrosanct word.

“The greatest of these is love”

The overriding message of Jesus was love. Jesus modeled love, Jesus preached love, Jesus was love. Christians desiring to do and live the will of Jesus are morally obligated to always err on the side of love. Taken all together, the evidence—the social context in which the Bible was written, the lack of the very concept of gay people in Paul’s time, the inability of gay people to marry, the inequity between how the clobber passages are applied between a majority and a minority population, the injustice of exclusion from God’s church on earth and from human love as the punishment for a state of being over which one has no choice—conclusively shows that choosing to condemn and exclude gay people based on the Bible is the morally incorrect choice.

That evidence should instead lead Christians to the most obvious, and most Christian of all positions, stated so beautifully by Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13:  

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Love Will Conquer Evil… One of the most beautiful videos in the world..

February 26, 2015

 

 

Ruth 1:16-17

But Ruth said (to Naomi), “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”…

These are the exact same words used at most heterosexual Christian weddings.

2 Samuel 1:26

I am heartbroken over you, my brother Jonathan. You were my great delight. Your love was more wonderful to me than the love of women.

Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.

Love Will Conquer Hatred and Bigotry..

‘Abomination’ does not mean what you think it means..

February 19, 2015

The wordabominationis found, of course, in the King James translation of Leviticus 18:22, a translation which has been falsely translated as: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is]abomination.” Yet this is a thoroughly misleading rendition of the Hebrew word ‘toevah’, which definitely does not meanabomination‘, besides the fact that it actually says 2 males shall not lay together in a bed that belongs to a woman.”

An “abomination” conjures up images of things which should not exist on the face of the earth: three-legged babies, oceans choked with oil, or Cheez-Whiz. And indeed, this is how many religious people regard gays and lesbians.

Yet a close reading of the term toevah shows an entirely different meaning: something permitted to one group, and forbidden to another.Though there is (probably) no etymological relationship, toevah means taboo.

The term toevah (and its plural, toevot) occurs 103 times in the Hebrew Bible, and almost always has the connotation of a nonIsraelite cultic practice. In the Torah, the primary toevah is avodah zara, foreign forms of worship, and most other toevot flow from it. The Israelites are instructed not to commit toevah because other nations do so. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 makes this quite clear:

“When you come into the land that YHVH your God gives you, do not learn to do the toevot of those nations. Do not find among you one who passes his son or daughter through the fire; or a magician; or a fortune teller, charmer, or witch… because all who do these things are toevah to YHVH and because of these toevot YHVH your God is driving them out before you.”

Elsewhere, Deuteronomy 7:25-26 commands:

You shall burn the statues of their gods in fire. Do not desire the silver and gold on them and take it onto yourself, else you be snared by it, for it is a toevah to YHVH your God. And you shall not bring toevah to your home

Deut. 12:31, 13:14, 17:4, 27:15, and 32:16 further identify idolatry, child sacrifice, witchcraft, and other “foreign” practices as toevah, and Deut. 20:18 says that avoiding toevah justifies the genocide of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanaites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.

So, toevah is serious, but it is serious as a particular class of cultic offense: a transgression of national boundary. It is certainly not abomination.”

‘Toevah’ is used four times in Leviticus 18—once to refer to specific male, but not ‘general’, homosexual acts, and then three times as an umbrella term. As in Deuteronomy, the signal feature of toevot is that the other nations of the Land of Israel do them: “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit these toevot… because the people who were in the land before you did these toevot and made the land impure (tameh)” (Lev. 18:26-27; see also Lev. 18:29). The term is repeated with reference to specific homosexual activity in Lev. 20:13.

Similarly, the Books of Kings and Chronicles use toevah nine times to refer to acts that other nations did in the Land of Israel:

1 Kings 14:24 (general);

2 Kings 16:3 (child sacrifice);

2 Kings 21:2 and 2 Kings 21:11 (idolatry);

2 Chron. 28:3 (child sacrifice);

2 Chron. 33:2 (idolatry);

2 Chron. 34:33, 36:8, and 36:14 (general). (Ezra 9:1, 9:11, and 9:14 use the word in exactly the same way.)

In all these cases, toevah refers to a foreign cultic behavior wrongly practiced by Israelites and Israelite kings.

And likewise, the prophet Ezekiel uses the term toevah a record-setting 39 times to refer to idolatry (Ez. 5:11, 6:9, 6:11, 7:20, 14:6, 20:7-8, 22:2, 44:6-7, 44:13), usury (Ez. 18:13), haughtiness and pride (Ez. 16:47-50; the “Sin of Sodom”—more on that in a future article), heterosexual adultery (Ez. 22:11, 33:26), and violence (Ez. 33:26), as well as a general term for foreign acts (Ez. 16:51) or transgression, often in a cultic context (Ez. 5:9, 7:3-4, 7:8-9, 9:4, 11:18, 11:21, 12:16, 16:2, 16:43, 18:24, 20:4, 33:29, 36:31).

In one extended passage (Ez. 8:1-18), Ezekiel is taken on a visionary tour of toevot, all of which have to do with idolatry and each, Ezekiel says, is worse than the previous one, beginning with an image on the door of the gate of Jerusalem, to idols and imagery in a house of worship, to women weeping for the god Tammuz,* to men worshipping the sun within the Temple itself. This extended passage, with six mentions of toevah, links the term in every instance with avodah zara, or idolatry.

In five instances, Ezekiel mentions toevah together with both idolatry and zimah or znut, “whoredom” (Ez. 16:22, 16:36, 16:58, 23:26, 43:8), strongly showing that the nature of sexual toevah is not mere lewdness,and certainly not loving intimate expression, but rather sexuality in a pagan cultic context.

Now, so far, it is unclear whether a toevah is detestable because it is foreign, or foreign because it is detestable. This question is resolved elsewhere in the Bible, because Israelites are not the only ones with toevot. There are several examples of things which are toevah for Egyptians but perfectly acceptable for Israelites.

Genesis 43:32 states that eating with Israelites is toevah for Egyptians. Gen. 43:34 states that shepherds are toevah to Egyptians—the sons of Israel are themselves shepherds. In Exodus 8:22, Moses describes Israelite sacrifices as being toevat mitzrayim (toevah of Egypt), although obviously Israelite ritual is not an objective “abomination.” If toevah means abomination, then eating with shepherds, eating with Israelites, and Israelite sacrifices themselves must be abominable! Since this clearly is not the case, toevah cannot mean “abomination” in any ontological sense—it must be a relative quality.

Toevah can also mean other things. It can refer to ritual imperfection: Deut. 17:1 uses it to refer to the sacrifice of a blemished animal, and Deut. 19:19 bans as toevah sacrifices bought through prostitution or “the price of a dog.” Deut. 22:5 calls crossdressing a toevah (incidentally, in Orthodox Jewish law, this includes women wearing pants). Remarriage (i.e. of the same two parties) is toevah according to Deut. 24:4. The sole ethical use of the term in the Torah is in Deut. 25:16, in which the use of unequal weights and measures is called toevah.

In the Book of Proverbs (which comes late in the Bible but which scholars believe to have been composed prior to the Deuteronomic and Levitical material), toevah is used twenty-one times to refer to various ethical failings, including the ways, thoughts, prayers and sacrifices of the wicked (Prov. 3:32, 15:8-9, 15:26, 16:12, 21:27, 28:9), pride (Prov. 6:16, 16:5), evil speech (Prov. 8:7), false weights (Prov. 11:1, 20:10, 20:23), devious heartedness (Prov. 11:20), lying (Prov. 12:22, 26:25), scoffing (Prov. 24:9), justifying the wicked and defaming the righteous (Prov. 17:15). Interestingly, Proverbs 13:19 says that “to turn from evil is toevah to fools,” again suggesting that toevah is something relative in nature. Similarly, Prov. 29:27 says poetically: “An unjust man is toevah to the righteous, and the straightforward man is toevah to the wicked.”

Finally, other books of the Bible adapt the meaning of toevah in accord with their overall literary agendas.Isaiah uses it to refer to the sacrifices of hypocrites (1:13, 44:19), as a taunt against earthly power (41:14), and idolatry (66:3). Jeremiah associates toevah with idolatry (Jer. 2:7, 7:10, 32:35) and unspecified transgression (Jer. 6:15, 8:12, 44:22). Malachi (2:11) uses it to refer to the Israelites’ having “married the daughter of a foreign god.” And Psalm 88:9 poetically uses the term to refer to being alienated from one’s friend: “You have taken me far from my acquaintance; made me a toevah to him, put away, and I cannot come out.”

Even these variant uses, in most cases, point to the nature of toevah as something foreign or, more generally, something which is or ought to be far away from oneself. Proverbs’ use of toevah is the exception, rather than the rule; in the overwhelming majority of cases, toevah has nothing to do with ethics, and everything to do with cultic behavior, idolatry, and foreign ritual.

However we may understand this type of transgression, it is certainly notabominationin the modern sense of the term.

Indeed, “abomination” itself is an inexact and extremely poor translation, used by the King James and other biblical translations as a blanket word for multiple terms and meanings.

The KJV uses the word twenty-six times to refer to sheketz, an analogous term to toevah which refers usually to idolatry and occasionally to other taboos such as forbidden animals (Lev. 11:10-13). Likewise, Leviticus 7:18 describes leftover sacrificial meat as pigul—but King James again says “abomination.” And 1 Samuel 13:4, speaking of King Saul and the Philistines, uses the term nivash, yet again rendered as “abomination.” And so on, including 1 Kings 11:5-7, 2 Kings 23:13, Isaiah 66:17, Daniel 11:31, Daniel 12:11 (sheketz), and many more.

The KJV even usesabominationsix times in translation of New Testament texts (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14, Luke 16:15, and Revelation 17:4-5, 21:27). All these biblical terms refer to different violations, yet the umbrella term abominationeludes any distinction between them.

As a result, the KJV lists exactly 150 occurrences of the term “abomination,” though only 103 of them actually translate as toevah.

Now, if by “abomination,” the King James means a cultural prohibition—something which a particular culture abhors but another culture enjoys—then the term makes sense. But in common parlance, the term has come to mean much more than that. Today, it connotes something horrible, something contrary to the order of nature itself, or God’s plan, or the institution of the family, or whatever. It is this malleability of meaning, and its close association with disgust, that makes “abomination” a particularly abominable word to use. The term implies that homosexuality has no place under the sun (despite its presence in over 1,500 animal species), and that it is an abomination against the Divine order itself.

Christians who want to be true to the original spoken Word should stop using the word abominationto refer to toevah. The word plays into the hands of fundamentalists on the one hand, and antireligious zealots on the other, both of whom want to depict the Bible as virulently and centrally concerned with theunnaturalacts of gays and lesbians. In fact, toevah is mostly about idolatry, and male homosexual behavior is only as abominable as remarriage or not keeping kosher, and only within specific situations.

Source: http://religiondispatches.org/does-the-bible-really-call-homosexuality-an-abomination/

Silver Torah pointer lying on a jewish prayer book

torah2

How anti-gay Christians evangelize hate abroad..

February 5, 2015

 

Strangely enough, you don’t see the teachings on adultery leading to people being beaten, imprisoned, or murdered over, and yet we can see that happening all around the world over the ‘teachings’ they spread about homosexuality.

Op-Ed- ‘How anti-gay Christians evangelize hate abroad’, by Kapya Kaoma. Rev. Kaoma is an Anglican priest and the senior religion and sexuality researcher at Political Research Associates in Boston. He wrote the reports “Colonizing African Values” and “Globalizing the Culture Wars.”

If you live in the United States, it’s easy to be lulled into thinking that the battle for broader civil rights for gay people is nearly over. The last few years have brought important victories in courts, legislatures and at the ballot box, and momentum is firmly on the side of increased equality.

That’s not true, however, in other parts of the world. The hateful vitriol that has fueled U.S. culture wars for so long is now being exported, and some of our most ardent culture warriors are finding a far more receptive audience abroad.

The people of Uganda, Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere are leading their own struggles for human rights. Their fight is difficult enough without campaigns of vilification designed by American preachers who distort the meaning of the Gospels to justify the criminalization , and even murder, of innocents.

In nations such as these, an insidious homophobia engineered in America is taking root. I have seen this hate being spread with my own eyes.

People who are gay, or suspected of being gay are being rounded up, beaten, murdered, and even burned to death by ‘Christian’ mobs who have learned such hatred from preachers and pastors in the U.S., who have exported such teachings abroad.

In a country where 85 percent of the population identifies as Christian, Ugandan pastors have been the most vocal supporters of the new bill that mandates life-imprisonment for gay people. As a result, homophobia has become almost universal. Several prominent American evangelical pastors, including Scott Lively, a minister and self-proclaimed expert on ‘the gays’, traveled to Uganda and were the main reason for the creation of this horrific legislation.

In March 2009, while in Kampala, Uganda, researching reports of U.S. right-wing evangelical involvement in attacks on LGBTQ equality and reproductive justice, I was invited to a three-day conference on homosexuality hosted by the Family Life Network, which is based in New York. The keynote speaker was Scott Lively from Springfield, Mass., who introduced himself as a leading expert on the “international homosexual agenda.” I filmed Lively over the course of two days as he instructed religious and political leaders about how gays were coming to Uganda from the West to “recruit children into homosexuality.”

Some of his assertions would have been laughable had he not been so deadly serious. He claimed that a gay clique that included Adolf Hitler was behind the Holocaust, and he insinuated that gay people fueled the Rwandan genocide.

In the United States, Lively is widely dismissed as an anti-gay firebrand and Holocaust revisionist. But in Uganda, he was presented — and accepted — as a leading international authority.

The public persecution of LGBTQ people escalated after Lively’s conference, with one particularly high-profile incident, a Kampala tabloid, Rolling Stone, outing several gays and lesbians under the headline “Hang Them” after passage of the bill. Among those pictured were an Ugandan bishop supportive of the gay and lesbian community and a lesbian who was later stoned to death by her neighbors.

Lively was also invited to private briefings with political and religious leaders, and to address the Ugandan parliament during his 2009 visit. The next month, Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati unveiled his Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which in its original form called for the death penalty as punishment for a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality.”

Kampala, Uganda – Auf Usaam Mukwaya is a 26-year-old gay man and human rights activist. Because of that, he has been arrested, jailed, abducted and tortured. He endured constant homophobic taunts from his neighbors since he was outed in one of the local papers and his face was shown on television following creation of the anti-gay bill that was created at the request of American pastors. It became impossible for him to fight back, so he had to flee the country for his own safety. In June 2010 he arrived in France, where he received political asylum.

In recent years, millions of dollars have been funneled from anti-LGBTQ evangelical conservatives to Uganda, funding local pastors and training them to adopt and mirror the culture-war language of the U.S. Christian right. Bahati and a notorious anti-gay pastor, Martin Ssempa, were personally mentored by U.S. conservatives. And powerful Christian right organizations such as the Family Research Council lobbied Congress to change a resolution denouncing the Uganda legislation.

Other prominent right-wing evangelicals have also made Uganda appearances, including California’s Rick Warren and Lou Engle, who founded TheCall ministry. They met with politicians, hosted rallies and public meetings, and used their influence and credibility to contribute to a culture war in Uganda much more intense and explosive than anything seen in the United States; Lively himself described the work as a “nuclear bomb” in Uganda.

In December, the Ugandan parliament finally passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and last month President Yoweri Museveni signed it into law. The death penalty provision was removed, but the law includes life sentences for homosexual “repeat offenders” and criminalizes advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ Ugandans.

Uganda has deservedly received widespread attention, but it’s not the only country with a culture war that carries the fingerprints of U.S. campaigners. Nigeria has passed a bill almost identical to Uganda’s, and Cameroon and Zambia are enthusiastically imprisoning LGBTQ people.

And let’s not forget Russia. In 2007, Lively traveled throughout Russia to, as he put it, bring a warning about the “homosexual political movement.” He urged Russians, among other things, “to criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality.”

Last year, President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that criminalizes distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors, including any material that “equates the social value of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations.” In Russia, because of this law, gay people are being beaten and even murdered now, with no response from the authorities.

Later this year, the World Congress of Families — an Illinois-based conservative umbrella organization — will convene in Russia. As the group’s leader, Larry Jenkins, put it: “We’re convinced that Russia does and should play a very significant role in defense of the family and moral values worldwide. Russia has become a leader of promoting these values in the international arena.” U.S. religious culture warriors have strategically focused on countries already suspicious of America, often ones with authoritarian leaders eager to turn public attention away from issues of corruption or economic inequality.

As to churches here in the U.S., here’s just one example: Pastor Steven Anderson, a Baptist pastor from Tempe, Arizona; is going viral for a sermon he preached 2 months ago. No, the sermon isn’t going viral because of him preaching the good news of scripture. It’s going viral because the pastor called for the murder of every LGBT person as a solution to end HIV and AIDS, even though HIV infections among women are primarily attributed to heterosexual contact (84% in 2010) or injection drug use (16% in 2010).

His sermon titled “AIDS: The Judgement of God,” which was given the day before World AIDS day, evoked Levitical law saying “gays should be killed.” And soon in order to have an “AIDS-free Christmas.”

Turn to Leviticus 20:13 (which is completely mistranslated in most English bibles) because I actually discovered the cure for AIDS,” he said as his congregation laughed. “This is the cure for AIDS. Everyone is talking about let’s have an AIDS free world by 2020.’ Look, we can have an AIDS free world by Christmas,” which evoked more laughter from the congregation.

The following is a list of U.S. Christian-based organizations and churches who have either called for death, destruction, condemnation, and/or rejection of gay people and which have been classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as anti-LGBT hate groups. The SPLC defines hate groups as those that “… have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” The SPLC states that hate group activities include speeches, marches, rallies, meetings, publishing, leafleting—and criminal acts such as violence. The SPLC classifies organizations that propagate known falsehoods – claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities – and repeated, groundless name-calling” as anti-gay hate groups.

The SPLC clearly states that “viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.” President of the SPLC Richard Cohen clarified “By ‘known falsehoods,’ we mean such things as asserting that gays and lesbians are more disposed to molesting children than heterosexuals – which the overwhelming weight of credible scientific research has determined is patently untrue.Nowhere in our report do we equate taking a position against same-sex marriage with hate speech.”

Abiding Truth Ministries

Bethesda Christian Institute

Chalcedon Foundation

Dove World Outreach Center

Faithful Word Baptist Church

Family Research Council

Family Research Institute

Illinois Family Institute

Sons of Thundr (Faith Baptist Church)

Tom Brown Ministries

Traditional Values Coalition

True Light Pentecost Church

United Families International

Westboro Baptist Church

Windsor Hills Baptist Church

World Congress of Families

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International

As you can see, there are many ‘Christian’ organizations and churches that daily spread teachings of condemnation, hatred, rejection, persecution and violence towards an entire naturally and eternally reoccurring variant of our fellow Humanity.. merely over how God created them, and who they love.

End result of murder gayhoax gayrights

Does the Bible really call homosexuality an ‘abomination’? – No, it does not..

February 3, 2015

 

How does the Bible address homosexualitywhen the word itself didn’t even exist until 1869

The word first appeared in Germany to describe the fact that from birth some people are predisposed toward persons of the same sex. Since the biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek) had no words for heterosexual or homosexual, it is anachronistic and misleading when ‘homosexual’ is used to translate a biblical text. 

It is wrong to proclaim the biblical view of homosexuality since there is none. This violates the integrity of the individual texts and the biblical witness as a whole. Each reference to what is today homosexuality must be read in the light of the particular literary, cultural, and historic contexts of any particular passage.

For example, I Cor 6:9, in no way refers to homosexuality in generality. The original Greek word often quoted as “sexual immorality” Paul used was “porneia”, which means “idolatrous intercourse”. In Corinth in the temples of Venus, the principal deity of Corinth, where Christians went to worship, a thousand public prostitutes of both gender were kept at public expense to glorify and act as surrogates for the fertility Gods. 

This sex with the pagan Gods is what Paul was talking aboutfornication is an admitted mistranslation and has nothing to do with gays or singles sex. This rendering reflected the bias of the translators rather than an accurate translation of Pauls words to a culture of 2000 years ago worshiping pagan sex gods.

Romans 1:26-27 mentions homosexual acts performed by people who are clearly described as heterosexual. The men in the NT patriarchal culture exerted dominance not only over women, but over younger males as well. The nature of homosexual acts in the Bible are so very different from what we know as homosexuality today that the passages have no application to today’s homosexuality. Such practices as in NT times simply no longer exist. Alleged references to homosexuality in I Corinthians and I Timothy are the inventions of anti-gay translators. They are not in the original Greek texts.

The word “abomination” is found, of course, in the King James translation of Leviticus 18:22, a translation which reads, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.” Yet this is a thoroughly misleading rendition of the Hebrew word ‘toevah’, which definitely does not mean “abomination, besides the fact that it actually says 2 males shall not lay together in a woman’s bed.” An “abomination” conjures up images of things which should not exist on the face of the earth: three-legged babies, oceans choked with oil, or Cheez-Whiz. And indeed, this is how many religious people regard gays and lesbians. 

Yet a close reading of the term toevah shows an entirely different meaning: something permitted to one group, and forbidden to another.Though there is (probably) no etymological relationship, toevah means taboo.

The term toevah (and its plural, toevot) occurs 103 times in the Hebrew Bible, and almost always has the connotation of a non-Israelite cultic practice. In the Torah, the primary toevah is avodah zara, foreign forms of worship, and most other toevot flow from it. The Israelites are instructed not to commit toevah because other nations do so. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 makes this quite clear:

“When you come into the land that YHVH your God gives you, do not learn to do the toevot of those nations. Do not find among you one who passes his son or daughter through the fire; or a magician; or a fortune teller, charmer, or witch… because all who do these things are toevah to YHVH and because of these toevot YHVH your God is driving them out before you.”

Elsewhere, Deuteronomy 7:25-26 commands:

You shall burn the statues of their gods in fire. Do not desire the silver and gold on them and take it onto yourself, else you be snared by it, for it is a toevah to YHVH your God. And you shall not bring toevah to your home.
Deut. 12:31, 13:14, 17:4, 27:15, and 32:16 further identify idolatry, child sacrifice, witchcraft, and other “foreign” practices as toevah, and Deut. 20:18 says that avoiding toevah justifies the genocide of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanaites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.

So, toevah is serious, but it is serious as a particular class of cultic offense: a transgression of national boundary. It is certainly notabomination.”

Toevah is used four times in Leviticus 18—once to refer to specific male, but not ‘general’, homosexual acts, and then three times as an umbrella term. As in Deuteronomy, the signal feature of toevot is that the other nations of the Land of Israel do them: “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit these toevot… because the people who were in the land before you did these toevot and made the land impure (tameh)” (Lev. 18:26-27; see also Lev. 18:29). The term is repeated with reference to specific homosexual activity in Lev. 20:13.

Similarly, the Books of Kings and Chronicles use toevah nine times to refer to acts that other nations did in the Land of Israel:

1 Kings 14:24 (general);
2 Kings 16:3 (child sacrifice);
2 Kings 21:2 and 2 Kings 21:11 (idolatry);
2 Chron. 28:3 (child sacrifice);
2 Chron. 33:2 (idolatry);
2 Chron. 34:33, 36:8, and 36:14 (general). (Ezra 9:1, 9:11, and 9:14 use the word in exactly the same way.)

In all these cases, toevah refers to a foreign cultic behavior wrongly practiced by Israelites and Israelite kings.

And likewise, the prophet Ezekiel uses the term toevah a record-setting 39 times to refer to idolatry (Ez. 5:11, 6:9, 6:11, 7:20, 14:6, 20:7-8, 22:2, 44:6-7, 44:13), usury (Ez. 18:13), haughtiness and pride (Ez. 16:47-50; the “Sin of Sodom”—more on that in a future article), heterosexual adultery (Ez. 22:11, 33:26), and violence (Ez. 33:26), as well as a general term for foreign acts (Ez. 16:51) or transgression, often in a cultic context (Ez. 5:9, 7:3-4, 7:8-9, 9:4, 11:18, 11:21, 12:16, 16:2, 16:43, 18:24, 20:4, 33:29, 36:31).
In one extended passage (Ez. 8:1-18), Ezekiel is taken on a visionary tour of toevot, all of which have to do with idolatry and each, Ezekiel says, is worse than the previous one, beginning with an image on the door of the gate of Jerusalem, to idols and imagery in a house of worship, to women weeping for the god Tammuz,* to men worshipping the sun within the Temple itself. This extended passage, with six mentions of toevah, links the term in every instance with avodah zara, or idolatry.

In five instances, Ezekiel mentions toevah together with both idolatry and zimah or znut, “whoredom” (Ez. 16:22, 16:36, 16:58, 23:26, 43:8), strongly showing that the nature of sexual toevah is not mere lewdness, and certainly not loving intimate expression, but sexuality in a pagan cultic context.
Now, so far, it is unclear whether a toevah is detestable because it is foreign, or foreign because it is detestable. This question is resolved elsewhere in the Bible, because Israelites are not the only ones with toevot. There are several examples of things which are toevah for Egyptians but perfectly acceptable for Israelites.

Genesis 43:32 states that eating with Israelites is toevah for Egyptians. Gen. 43:34 states that shepherds are toevah to Egyptians—the sons of Israel are themselves shepherds. In Exodus 8:22, Moses describes Israelite sacrifices as being toevat mitzrayim (toevah of Egypt), although obviously Israelite ritual is not an objective “abomination.” If toevah means abomination, then eating with shepherds, eating with Israelites, and Israelite sacrifices themselves must be abominable! Since this clearly is not the case, toevah cannot mean “abomination” in any ontological sense—it must be a relative quality.

Toevah can also mean other things. It can refer to ritual imperfection: Deut. 17:1 uses it to refer to the sacrifice of a blemished animal, and Deut. 19:19 bans as toevah sacrifices bought through prostitution or “the price of a dog.” Deut. 22:5 calls crossdressing a toevah (incidentally, in Orthodox Jewish law, this includes women wearing pants). Remarriage (i.e. of the same two parties) is toevah according to Deut. 24:4.

The sole ethical use of the term in the Torah is in Deut. 25:16, in which the use of unequal weights and measures is called toevah.

In the Book of Proverbs (which comes late in the Bible but which scholars believe to have been composed prior to the Deuteronomic and Levitical material), toevah is used twenty-one times to refer to various ethical failings, including the ways, thoughts, prayers and sacrifices of the wicked (Prov. 3:32, 15:8-9, 15:26, 16:12, 21:27, 28:9), pride (Prov. 6:16, 16:5), evil speech (Prov. 8:7), false weights (Prov. 11:1, 20:10, 20:23), devious heartedness (Prov. 11:20), lying (Prov. 12:22, 26:25), scoffing (Prov. 24:9), justifying the wicked and defaming the righteous (Prov. 17:15). Interestingly, Proverbs 13:19 says that “to turn from evil is toevah to fools,” again suggesting that toevah is something relative in nature. Similarly, Prov. 29:27 says poetically: “An unjust man is toevah to the righteous, and the straightforward man is toevah to the wicked.”

Finally, other books of the Bible adapt the meaning of toevah in accord with their overall literary agendas. Isaiah uses it to refer to the sacrifices of hypocrites (1:13, 44:19), as a taunt against earthly power (41:14), and idolatry (66:3). Jeremiah associates toevah with idolatry (Jer. 2:7, 7:10, 32:35) and unspecified transgression (Jer. 6:15, 8:12, 44:22). Malachi (2:11) uses it to refer to the Israelites’ having “married the daughter of a foreign god.” And Psalm 88:9 poetically uses the term to refer to being alienated from one’s friend: “You have taken me far from my acquaintance; made me a toevah to him, put away, and I cannot come out.”

Even these variant uses, in most cases, point to the nature of toevah as something foreign or, more generally, something which is or ought to be far away from oneself. Proverbs’ use of toevah is the exception, rather than the rule; in the overwhelming majority of cases, toevah has nothing to do with ethics, and everything to do with cultic behavior, idolatry, and foreign ritual. 

However we may understand this type of transgression, it is certainly notabominationin the modern sense.

Indeed, “abomination” itself is an inexact and extremely poor translation, used by the King James and other biblical translations for multiple terms. The KJV uses the word twenty-six times to refer to sheketz, an analogous term to toevah which refers usually to idolatry and occasionally to other taboos such as forbidden animals (Lev. 11:10-13). Likewise, Leviticus 7:18 describes leftover sacrificial meat as pigul—but King James again says “abomination.” And 1 Samuel 13:4, speaking of King Saul and the Philistines, uses the term nivash, yet again rendered as “abomination.” And so on, including 1 Kings 11:5-7, 2 Kings 23:13, Isaiah 66:17, Daniel 11:31, Daniel 12:11 (sheketz), and many more.

The KJV even uses “abomination” six times in translation of New Testament texts (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14, Luke 16:15, and Revelation 17:4-5, 21:27). All these biblical terms refer to different violations, yet the umbrella term “abomination” eludes any distinction between them. 

As a result, the KJV lists exactly 150 occurrences of the term “abomination,” though only 103 of them translate toevah.

Now, if by “abomination,” the King James means a cultural prohibition—something which a particular culture abhors but another culture enjoys—then the term makes sense. But in common parlance, the term has come to mean much more than that. Today, it connotes something horrible, something contrary to the order of nature itself, or God’s plan, or the institution of the family, or whatever. It is this malleability of meaning, and its close association with disgust, that makes “abomination” a particularly abominable word to use. The term implies that homosexuality has no place under the sun (despite its presence in over 1,500 animal species), and that it is an abomination against the Divine order itself

Christians who want to be true to the original spoken Word should stop using the word “abomination” to refer to toevah.

The word plays into the hands of fundamentalists on the one hand, and anti-religious zealots on the other, both of whom want to depict the Bible as virulently and centrally concerned with the “unnatural” acts of gays and lesbians. In fact, toevah is mostly about idolatry, and male homosexual behavior is only as abominable as remarriage or not keeping kosher, and only within specific situations. Whenever we use the word “abomination” we are perpetuating the misunderstanding of biblical text and the religious persecution of LGBT people.

 

For further research, please go here: http://religiondispa…an-abomination/

The love story of Naomi and Ruth..

February 3, 2015

 

In the entire Bible, there are only two books named after women. 

One is Esther, which tells the story of a Jewish woman who becomes Queen of Persia and saves her people from destruction by “coming out” as Jewish to her husband, the king. The other is Ruth, which tells the story of two women who love and support one another through difficult times. Both books contain powerful messages for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, but it is the story of Ruth that addresses the question we raised in chapter one: Can two people of the same sex live in committed, loving relationship with the blessing of God?

At the beginning of the book of Ruth, we’re introduced to Naomi and her husband Elimelech. They are from Bethlehem, where a terrible famine has made it impossible to find food. So, they take their two sons and move to Moab, a foreign land where they believe they’ll be able to survive. Unfortunately, Elimelech dies shortly after arriving in Moab. Several years pass, and Naomi’s sons marry Ruth and Orpah, two women from the surrounding country. 

But before they can have children, the sons also die. Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah are left alone with no husbands and no sons.

NoteFor examples, see the stories of widows who came to Elijah and Elisha for help (1 Kings 17:10-24 and 2 Kings 4:1-37), and the story of the woman from Tekoa who confronted David (2 Samuel 14:4-12). Also, in Genesis 38, Judah tells his daughter-in-law Tamar to return to her father’s house, because her husband has died, illustrating the two possibilities available to a woman.

To understand the full impact of what happened, we need to put ourselves in the mindset of the time. When this story was written, women had only two acceptable places in society: They could be a daughter in their father’s household or a wife in their husband’s household. A woman without a man had no social standing.

There are several stories in the Old Testament about widows who almost starved to death, because they had no man to take care of them. (See note 1.) The constant biblical command to “look after widows and orphans” stems from the understanding that widows were among the most vulnerable people in society.

This context makes the next scene almost unbelievable. Naomi, grieving and recognizing her fate as a widow, decides to return to Bethlehem where her father’s family is, and where she hopes to find food. She counsels her daughters-in-law to do the same — to return to their own families. She knows she can’t offer them any support as a woman, and she fears she’ll only be a burden. Orpah, sensibly, returns home.

But Ruth cannot bear to do so. Her feelings run too deep. The Hebrew word used in Ruth 1:14 to describe those feelings is quite telling. The text says, “Ruth clung to [Naomi].” The Hebrew word for “clung” is “dabaq.” This is precisely the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:24 to describe how Adam felt toward Eve.

You probably remember the story of Adam and Eve, as recorded in Genesis 2. After God creates Adam, he is terribly lonely. None of the animals God has created — magnificent as they are — can meet Adam’s deep need for companionship. So God puts Adam into a deep sleep, takes a rib from his side, and creates Eve. When Eve is presented to Adam, he exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh . . . !” Finally, Adam had a human companion.

The next verse in the text then draws an important theological conclusion from Adam’s experience. It says that, for this reason (i.e., the need for companionship), a man should leave his father and mother when he grows up and “cling” (“dabaq”) to his wife. (Genesis 2:24) And, of course, for the vast majority of human beings, that is God’s will for them — for a man and woman to leave their parents’ home and form a relationship with each other that is so close, so intimate, that they can be described as “clinging” to one another.

But what about people who aren’t heterosexual? Is it possible for them, with God’s blessing, to form that type of intimate relationship with someone of their own gender?

The Holy Spirit answers that question definitively in Ruth 1:14. There the Scriptures say — without apology, embarrassment, or qualification — that Ruth felt the same way toward Naomi as spouses are supposed to feel toward each other. Far from being condemned, Ruth’s feelings are celebrated.

In fact, so as to remove any doubt about how Ruth felt toward Naomi, the Scriptures go on to record the details of the vow that Ruth made to Naomi. Here are her words:

“Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die — there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” (Ruth 1:16-17)

 

When Ruth spoke those haunting words, “Where you die, I will die — there will I be buried,” she wasn’t talking about some theoretical distant future.

She was giving voice to the very real possibility that her decision to place her life in the hands of another woman could result in death. The sensible thing would have been to allow Naomi to return to her family and for Ruth to return to hers. But Ruth didn’t do the sensible thing. She threw caution to the wind and went against every survival instinct. Only one word could explain her actions — love.

After this speech, spoken in the first chapter, the story moves on to tell of Ruth and Naomi’s life together. The focus is on the quality of their relationship. The biblical storyteller chronicles how Ruth cared for Naomi by taking the only job available to a husbandless woman, gleaning. When the author tells of Ruth’s eventual marriage to a much older man, the marriage is portrayed as one of convenience, contrived to help Ruth and Naomi survive the harsh conditions of widowhood. No mention is made of Ruth’s love for her husband. And, when Ruth finally bears a son from her marriage, the text focuses on Naomi and her reaction to the great news, not on the father. In fact, the women of the village (and the author) ignore the father entirely, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” (Ruth 4:17) They remind her that Ruth “who loves you, is more to you than seven sons.” (Ruth 4:15)

Everyone seems to understand that, for Ruth and Naomi, their most important relationship is the one they share.

Here then is the story the Bible tells: Ruth felt toward Naomi as Adam felt toward Eve; she gave up everything so she could be with Naomi; she put her own life at risk, so she could spend it caring for Naomi; and, even after she married a man, her most important relationship remained the one she shared with Naomi. These actions and emotions are difficult, almost impossible, to explain as mere friendship.

If we set aside our preconceptions of what is possible in the Bible, the book of Ruth is definitely a story of two women who are very much in love.

Instinctively, and perhaps unwittingly, Christians throughout the centuries have acknowledged the validity of this interpretation. The vow Ruth makes to Naomi (quoted above) has been read at Christian weddings for centuries because it so perfectly captures the essence of the love that should exist between spouses.

It seems more than a little inconsistent and dishonest to use these words to define and celebrate spousal love, but then adamantly insist that those who originally spoke the words did not love each other like spouses.

This text is an excerpt from The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships.

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To Fundamentalist Christians: Why can the following Bible verses be ignored while others cannot?

February 1, 2015

I would like to first state clearly that I personally believe that women should have the right to be in leadership and pastoral positions within the Faith, and that I do not believe people who have divorced will be going to Hell.  I am merely pointing out the gross moral and religious hypocrisy perpetrated by those who use a few Bible verses to reject and condemn gay people to Hell..

Matthew 7 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

The Christians who repeatedly use their measure and judgment to attack, condemn, persecute, and reject gay people with are now being measured and judged by their same standards, and are found to have fallen far short, and are shown to be full of religious hypocrisy. They have been found to be exactly as the people in Matthew 23:28 describe them.

Since such people took it upon themselves to judge and measure others in clear defiance of what the Bible teaches ‘not’ to do, they have thus brought the same judgment back upon themselves as the Bible says will happen in such situations.

Now, here are my questions to every Christian who repeatedly commits the sin listed above:

Where in the Bible does it say it’s okay to repeatedly and unrepentantly ignore and disobey the teachings from Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 as most Christians do today?

Where in the Bible does it say it’s okay to repeatedly and unrepentantly ignore and disobey the 7th Commandment, as defined by Luke 16:18 as most Christians do today?

Why is it that almost all churches openly welcome into their congregations the following people who have committed the following unrepentant sin (as defined by Biblical Scripture), while rejecting and condemning ‘unrepentant’ homosexuals? Unrepentant, because so many keep divorcing and re-marrying with no rejection or negative consequences by their congregations, such as is done to homosexual people.

Is there a place in the Bible where it says you can ignore the sin of people repeatedly committing adultery as defined by the Bible below, but the same people and churches who ignore that sin can repeatedly attack, condemn, and reject gay people for their perceived sins? For some strange reason, no one is able to answer these questions…. unless of course, it is because they are practicing utter religious hypocrisy.

Exodus 20:14 (One of the 10 Commandments)

“You shall not commit adultery.”

Luke 16:18

“Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

1 Corinthians 6:9

Do you not know that unrighteous men will not inherit the kingdom of God? Cherish no delusion here. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor any who are guilty of unnatural crime.”

So many Christians try to rationalize this away, but it is clear that if one uses literal interpretation it then means that a Chrisitan can neither divorce someone if the spouse has not committed adultery, nor marry someone who is divorced without becoming an adulterer themselves.

There is an exception to the rule, however. If a spouse commits adultery, divorce is permissible.

On the same token, the Bible also says that anyone who obtains a divorce and marries another is an adulterer. Remember that 83% of this country identifies as Christian yet we have a 50% divorce rate for first marriages, a 67% divorce rate for 2nd marriages, and a 73% divorce rate for 3rd marriages and beyond..

A majority of divorces are a result of irreconcilable differences, not adultery,which shows that such Christians are again practicing selective morality. How many Christians are working on a second, third or fourth marriage?

On the following subject of religious hypocrisy and double-standards, I’m completely aware that for most modern-day churches the following teachings are completely inconvenient and most might say, not applicable to an enlightened, modern society. Still…. why is it that almost all Churches do not obey the following New Testament teachings, and ignore them? Where in the Bible does it say it’s okay to ignore these commands?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

“Women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.…”

1 Timothy 2:11-12

“A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”

It quite clearly says that an adulterer cannot enter the Kingdom of God, and yet the majority of modern day congregations are all adulterers by the Bible’s clear definition, and the majority of modern day congregations allow their women members to speak anytime they wish to in church, even though the Bible clearly says in the New Testament that that’s forbidden. So… Please educate me on why the examples of sin, commandments, and teachings listed above can be ignored, while the sin of homosexual love and desire, cannot be.

Why do most congregations accept and welcome into their churches, people who are living in open adultery every day as defined by the following verse, while they reject gay people?  The verse is exceptionally clear in its definition.

Luke 16:18

Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adulteryand the man who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

A perfect example of the Christian moral gross hypocrisy daily committed by conservative leaders who regularly attack the dignity, and basic human and constitutional rights of homosexuals while repeatedly ignoring the sins they and their followers commit themselves such as the sin of adultery is Newt Gingrich:  

A former Southern Baptist, Gingrich converted to Catholicism in 2009 and has become a champion of conservative Catholic doctrine ever since. After losing the Republican presidential primary in 2012, he has become a champion of “religious freedoms,” which he says are being eroded by the secular state. The former front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, unloaded a detailed explanation of why he believes same-sex marriage is eroding American families and why “don’t ask, don’t tell” would have been his policy as president, while even floating a theory that U.S. military commanders were lying about whether they support its repeal.

However, the marriage rate in Massachusetts has stayed basically the same, while the divorce rate has plummeted to amongst the lowest in the nation after being the first state to legalize same-sex marriage 11 years ago, so it actually ‘strengthened’ the institution of marriage rather than weakened it.  And years later, we now can see that the repeal of DADT did nothing to weaken our military.

On top of all that, Gingrich says people choose to be gay, like priests choose to be celibate, which is patently false.

As part of his appeal to social conservatives, Gingrich  announced that he agreed to anti-gay pledges from the Iowa Family Leader and the National Organization for Marriage, which both committed him to a backing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. In the NOM pledge, Gingrich also promised to use his power as president to investigate those who support marriage equality for alleged harassment of groups like NOM.

Prominent Atlanta-based pastor and Religious Right figure Richard Lee said the nation’s evangelicals needed to support Gingrich.

Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Christian oriented Liberty University, supported him for president as well.

And yet, Newt Gingrich has divorced twice and been married three times, living in open adultery. His two previous marriages ended in divorce after he had affairs with younger women and when his wives were seriously ill.

And so again I ask: Why do most congregations who condemn and reject gay people who wish to marry each other, accept and welcome into their churches, people who are living in open adultery every day as defined by the following verse?  The verse is exceptionally clear in its definition.

Without an explicit directive from God to exclude and condemn homosexuals, the Christian community’s treatment of gay persons is in clear violation of what Jesus and the New Testament writers pointedly identified as one-half of God’s most important commandment: to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

Heterosexual Christians are being unbiblical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are not tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality for those sins listed in the exact same clobber passages that they do routinely commit.

It sounds like adulterers get an extremely convenient free pass from sin and can continue to divorce and re-marry any amount of times they wish, even though the Bible clearly says that adulterers cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Strangely enough, you don’t see the teachings on adultery leading to people being beaten, imprisoned, or murdered over, and yet we can see that happening all around the world over the ‘teachings’ they spread about homosexuality.

Some people constantly say that it is not them, but only ‘God’ or ‘the Bible’ which is the one judging gay people over how they were born, but it is not God down here speaking through a burning bush to us.. rejecting, condemning, and making other people feel like dirt or worthless, but ‘they’ themselves who are doing that, while exhorting others to do the same sinful and hateful thing; thus taking the place of God in doing so.

We can see that happening on a much more violent level today in Islam by the ISIS and Al-Qaeda fanatics… who seem to believe that they are ‘Allah’ or ‘God’ themselves on this Earth, and taking it upon themselves to brutalize, condemn, reject, judge, and in many cases kill the perceived ‘sinners’ in the name of their God, ignoring all teachings to not take the place of God in judgment, and all teachings of love and acceptance toward our fellow human souls we share this Earth with.

Thus began the shameful Christian Inquisition of our past… from precisely such misguided and hypocritical people.  

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What one Christian mom wishes she knew then, that she knows now..

February 1, 2015

Sometimes gay people are subjected to what can only be viewed as spiritual and emotional torture. And when they ultimately cannot change who they are, they are often driven away, and wind up abandoning God, falsely believing that He rejected them.  

That said, here is a story to reflect upon by a Christian mother who wishes she knew then, what she knows now, regarding this subject:

On the night of November 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our twelve year old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom.

Ryan says: can i tell u something

Mom says: Yes I am listening

Ryan says: well i don’t know how to say this really but, well……, i can’t keep lying to you about myself. I have been hiding this for too long and i sorta have to tell u now. By now u probably have an idea of what i am about to say.

Ryan says: I am gay

Ryan says: i can’t believe i just told you

Mom says: Are you joking?

Ryan says: no

Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don

Mom says: of course I would

Mom says: but what makes you think you are?

Ryan says: i know i am

Ryan says: i don’t like hannah

Ryan says: it’s just a cover-up

Mom says: but that doesn’t make you gay…

Ryan says: i know

Ryan says: but u don’t understand

Ryan says: i am gay

Mom says: tell me more

Ryan says: it’s just the way i am and it’s something i know

Ryan says: u r not a lesbian and u know that. it is the same thing

Mom says: what do you mean?

Ryan says: i am just gay

Ryan says: i am that

Mom says: I love you no matter what

Ryan says: i am white not black

Ryan says: i know

Ryan says: i am a boy not a girl

Ryan says: i am attracted to boys not girls

Ryan says: u know that about yourself and i know this

Mom says: what about what God thinks about acting on these desires?

Ryan says: i know

Mom says: thank you for telling me

Ryan says: and i am very confused about that right now

Mom says: I love you more for being honest

Ryan says: i know

Ryan says: thanx

We were completely shocked. Not that we didn’t know and love gay people – my only brother had come out to us several years before, and we adored him. But Ryan? He was unafraid of anything, tough as nails, and ALL boy. We had not seen this coming, and the emotion that overwhelmed us, kept us awake at night and, sadly, influenced all of our reactions over the next six years, was FEAR.

We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible – the Word of God – should say:

We love you. We will ALWAYS love you. And this is hard. REALLY hard. But we know what God says about this, and so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.

We love you. We couldn’t love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books…you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.

We love you. We are so glad you are our son. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you ARE gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay – it is that you are a child of God.

We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is NOT an option.

We thought we understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that we – and God – were asking for. And this sacrifice, we knew, would lead to the abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards. Ryan had always felt intensely drawn to spiritual things; He desired to please God above all else. So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus.

Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture, met with his youth pastor weekly, enthusiastically participated in all the church youth group events and Bible Studies and got baptized. He read all the books that claimed to know where his gay feelings came from, dove into counseling to further discover the “why’s” of his unwanted attraction to other guys, worked through painful conflict resolution with my husband and I, and built strong friendships with other guys – straight guys – just like the reparative therapy experts advised. He even came out to his entire youth group, giving his testimony of how God had rescued him from the traps of the enemy, and sharing – by memory – verse after verse that God had used to draw Ryan to Himself.

But nothing changed. God didn’t answer his prayer – or ours – though we were all believing with faith that the God of the Universe – the God for whom NOTHING is impossible – could easily make Ryan straight. But He did not.

Though our hearts may have been good (we truly thought what we were doing was loving), we did not even give Ryan a chance to wrestle with God, to figure out what HE believed God was telling him through scripture about his sexuality. We had believed firmly in giving each of our four children the space to question Christianity, to decide for themselves if they wanted to follow Jesus, to truly OWN their own faith. But we were too afraid to give Ryan that room when it came to his sexuality, for fear that he’d make the wrong choice.

Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. He would never have the chance to fall in love, have his first kiss, hold hands, share intimacy and companionship or experience romance.

And so, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal, disillusioned and convinced that he would never be able to be loved by God, made a new choice. He decided to throw out his Bible and his faith at the same time, and to try searching for what he desperately wanted – peace – another way. And the way he chose to try first was drugs.

We had – unintentionally – taught Ryan to hate his sexuality. And since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught Ryan to hate himself. So as he began to use drugs, he did so with a recklessness and a lack of caution for his own safety that was alarming to everyone who knew him.

Suddenly our fear of Ryan someday having a boyfriend (a possibility that honestly terrified me) seemed trivial in contrast to our fear of Ryan’s death, especially in light of his recent rejection of Christianity, and his mounting anger at God.

Ryan started with weed and beer…but in six short months was using cocaine, crack and heroin. He was hooked from the beginning, and his self-loathing and rage at God only fueled his addiction. Shortly after, we lost contact with him. For the next year and a half we didn’t know where he was, or even if he was dead or alive. And during that horrific time, God had our full attention. We stopped praying for Ryan to become straight. We started praying for him to know that God loved him. We stopped praying for him never to have a boyfriend. We started praying that someday we might actually get to know his boyfriend. We even stopped praying for him to come home to us; we only wanted him to come home to God.

By the time our son called us, after 18 long months of silence, God had completely changed our perspective. Because Ryan had done some pretty terrible things while using drugs, the first thing he asked me was this:

Do you think you can ever forgive me? (I told him of course, he was already forgiven. He had ALWAYS been forgiven.)

Do you think you could ever love me again? (I told him that we had never stopped loving him, not for one second. We loved him then more than we had ever loved him.)

Do you think you could ever love me with a boyfriend? (Crying, I told him that we could love him with fifteen boyfriends. We just wanted him back in our lives. We just wanted to have a relationship with him again…AND with his boyfriend.)

And a new journey was begun. One of healing, restoration, open communication and grace. LOTS of grace. And God was present every step of the way, leading and guiding us, gently reminding us simply to love our son, and leave the rest up to Him.

Over the next ten months, we learned to truly love our son. Period. No buts. No conditions. Just because he breathes. We learned to love whoever our son loved. And it was easy. What I had been so afraid of became a blessing. The journey wasn’t without mistakes, but we had grace for each other, and the language of apology and forgiveness became a natural part of our relationship. As our son pursued recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, we pursued him. God taught us how to love him, to rejoice over him, to be proud of the man he was becoming. We were all healing…and most importantly, Ryan began to think that if WE could forgive him and love him, then maybe God could, too.

And then Ryan made the classic mistake of a recovering addict…he got back together with his old friends…his using friends. And one evening that was supposed to simply be a night at the movies turned out to be the first time he had shot up in ten months…and the last time. We got a phone call from a social worker at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle asking us to come identify our son – that he had arrived there in a coma, in critical condition. We spent 17 days at Harborview, during which time our whole family was able to surround and love on Ryan. We experienced miracle after miracle during that time, things that no doctor had any medical explanation for. God’s presence was TANGIBLE in Ryan’s room. But that is a long, sacred story that I’ll have to tell another time.

Though Ryan had suffered such severe brain damage that he had almost complete paralysis, the doctors told us that he could very well outlive us. But, unexpectedly, Ryan died on July 16, 2009. And we lost the ability to love our gay son…because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for…prayed for…hoped for…that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision.

Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, who I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by FAITH instead of by FEAR. Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan’s gravestone.

We celebrate anniversaries: the would-have-been birthdays and the unforgettable day of his death. We wear orange – his color. We hoard memories: pictures, clothing he wore, handwritten notes, lists of things he loved, tokens of his passions, recollections of the funny songs he invented, his Curious George and baseball blankey, anything, really, that reminds us of our beautiful boy…for that is all we have left, and there will be no new memories.  We rejoice in our adult children, and in our growing family as they marry…but ache for the one of our “gang of four” who is missing. We mark life by the days BC (before coma) and AD (after death), because we are different people now; our life was irrevocably changed – in a million ways – by his death. We treasure friendships with others who “get it”…because they, too, have lost a child.

We weep. We seek Heaven for grace and mercy and redemption as we try – not to get better but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe.

Source: http://justbecausehebreathes.com/

ryan and mom

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Today’s modern Pharisees..

January 31, 2015

Many Christians today are guilty of being just like the Pharisees, using scripture as a weapon to persecute and reject others over how God created them and who they love, while ignoring every teaching and command that is inconvenient for them to follow. The following teachings that they ignore every day while thinking they are condemning those who disagree or who question their actions to hell, highlights their moral hypocrisy quite well.

Matthew 5:43-48

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you only love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

Romans 13:9

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

James 2:14-17

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

1 Corinthians 13:1-2

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not show love to others, I am merely a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not show love to others, I am nothing.…

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?” He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second most important commandment is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Matthew 23-4

“They (the Pharisees both ancient and modern) crush other people with unbearable religious demands and yet themselves never lift a finger to ease the burden.”

Matthew 18:21-22

“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven!”

Matthew 23:13

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.”

Matthew 23: 15

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!”

1 Timothy 4:1-4

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.” For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.

We can see that happening today from people whose consciences have been totally seared away, and who have no care or feeling whatsoever as to the spiritual and emotional pain and torment they cause gay people with their prejudice and rejection, many times to the point of suicide, or the teachings they spread that today are being used as justification to beat, imprison, and murder gay people in Uganda and many other places around the world. We can see such people today with unholy zeal attempting to forbid marriage to gay people as well, just as was prophesied while they reject instead of receiving with gratitude the unique way that God created gay people.

It is truly horrific and goes against all teachings of Christ to Love and accept one another as God created us, but the demons are surely delighted by so much hatred, persecution, and murder engendered through their false and hateful teachings.


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