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Jeremy Marks and the Ex-Gay Movement

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William Crawley | 09:30 UK time, Saturday, 21 February 2009

JeremyMarks.jpgOn tomorrow's Sunday Sequence, I'll be talking to Jeremy Marks, pictured, a British evangelical Christian who founded an ex-gay ministry called Courage UK in 1988 and served as President of Exodus International Europe and on the board of Exodus International, the world's largest ex-gay ministry. Organisations like Exodus are motivated by the belief that same-sex relationships are sinful, and they encourage those with same-sex affections to seek counselling, therapy and pastoral support in order to remain celibate or begin heterosexual relationships.

Jeremy Marks's story is fascinating because, by the end of the 1990s, he became seriously concerned about the long-term effects of ex-gay ministries. "I came to understand that our approach was sowing isolation, loss of faith, broken marriages, and even attempted suicides. I knew I must change our ministry approach," he says. In 2000, in spite of opposition from the evangelical community, Marks transformed Courage UK into a gay-affirming evangelical ministry. He has issued a personal apology to "my fellow Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Trans-gendered people ... for my part in colluding with the religious right in the Western world." Today Courage UK serves gay and lesbian Christians "seeking a safe space to reconcile their faith and sexuality".

Jeremy Marks has told his personal story in his book, Exchanging the Truth of God for a Lie, which has a forward by Roy Clements. Many Will and Testament readers with an evangelical background will remember Roy Clements as the evangelical leader, pastor and prolific author who, in the 1990s, was outed in the press. He has since become a significant voice within the evangelical gay Christian movement.

I'll talk to Jeremy Marks about his personal story and about why he felt it right to change the direction of Courage in 2001. Joining us in conversation will be Michael Davidson, who recently founded CORE, an ex-gay ministry in Northern Ireland. In some ways, CORE is a fledgling version of the original Courage group: it developed out of a local church, it is seeking to create a network of partnerships with local churches and other evangelical groups, and it is motivated by a belief that same-sex relationships are unbiblical. CORE also holds that homosexuality is "a problem of attachment and gender identity rather than of sexuality". Mike Davidson writes a deeply personal blog here, in which he describes himself as "early 50s, married for 29 years; two grown children - and in conflict with unwanted homosexuality for most of it. Finally seeing the light, and learning to love myself."

Jeremy Marks and Michael Davidson will be talking to each other on tomorrow's programme about the sexuality "debate" within the church today.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Look what happened to Sarah after fleeing from the sexual immorality that enshrouded Sodom, she lagged behind Lot, looking back to what she had left behind in Sodom, looking back with desire to a sinful past is contrary to the will of God, she was mineralised into a pillar of salt by the sulphurous rain that poured down upon the immorality of Sodom in divine judgement, Sarah’s looking back is an example and a warning to all those that still crave for the unrighteous life of a sinful past after God has delivered them by the blood of the Lamb, Sodom is a picture of the punishment that awaits unrepentant sinners, “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire“.

  • Comment number 3.

    #2 - The Puritan - "...pursued unnatural desire..."

    While there is an ongoing debate about what the Bible says concerning homosexuality, one thing is abundantly clear to any objective reader of Scripture, and that is that the Bible is not "clearly" and "unequivocally" opposed to homosexuality. For example, the only passage which could be cited as being a "clear" denunciation of homosexuality is Romans 1:26-27. Other passages, such as in Leviticus cannot be unequivocally binding on Christians, unless we want to obey all the injunctions of the Old Testament law (including all the dietary laws and circumcision, for example).

    But there is still an ambiguity about Romans 1:26-27 due to the way the Apostle Paul used the word "nature". Here he says that homosexual practices are "against nature", which may suggest "against the whole natural order". But Paul also uses this same Greek word for "nature" (phusis) in 1 Corinthians 11:14 to criticise men with long hair. Yet a man having long hair is not against the natural order (otherwise a man's hair would never grow!) and also it is certainly not always against the will of God, since in the Bible we read that it was God's will for Samson to allow his hair to grow long (the vow of the Nazarite - see Judges 13:5). So this shows that it is being entirely faithful to Scripture (something evangelicals would surely rejoice in?) to state that we cannot be sure exactly what Paul meant by the word "phusis" in Romans 1:26-27. Now if an evangelical wants to dismiss my argument as wishy-washy hell-bound liberalism, you are free to do so - but not with the sanction of Scripture!

    Now some interpreters like "The Puritan" in message 2 above would read "against nature" as meaning "against the natural order". Others would question whether this is the only possible reading, as I have argued. They would perhaps suggest that "phusis" denotes a custom relevant to the historical context.

    All I am saying is that we have to be careful how we interpret the Bible. I find it tiresome that some Christians seem so sure of their particular interpretation of the Bible, and yet when I question them with reference to another passage which contradicts their pet doctrine, they suddenly become very "liberal" and explain away the difficulty in a very unsatisfactory way. For example, why is it that 1 Timothy 2:4 states absolutely unequivocally that God desires all people to be saved. And yet there are "Bible believing" evangelicals who, with their doctrine of "limited atonement", deny this! They play fast and loose with the Bible on one doctrine, and yet when it comes to an issue like homosexuality they suddenly stand six feet above contradiction!

    A bit more honesty and intellectual integrity is what is needed, methinks!

  • Comment number 4.

    interesting post!

  • Comment number 5.

    I would choke on my cornflakes if there was ever a post like this on the life of someone like Andy Comiskey;- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Comiskey

  • Comment number 6.

    Paul in 1 Cor 6:11 makes it clear that Christians had left their homosexuality behind and that this was ncessary for salvation (ie "such were some of you" he said).

  • Comment number 7.

    LSV - Yes sure, there are tensions and apparent contradictions between passages in scripture, but none of them are difficult to reconcile or live with at best, if you want to but into traditional mainstream Christianity.

    We have to be clear that for over 4000 years there has been clear consensus in judeo christian thinking that homosexuality was not aceptable to God.

  • Comment number 8.

    Even if you set aside interpretation for a moment, it is quite clear you are on a radical departure from traditional JC thought, in a stream which is only a few decades old.

    I normally find that people with your line of reasoning have simply no intention of letting the bible have authority over their life, they are in control in a new radical stream.

  • Comment number 9.

    And before I am accused of being self righteous I am beginning to wonder if it is actually any easier to live a sexually pure life as a heterosexual today compared to someone with with homosexual feelings. Is it possible that homosexual theologians are creating a victimhood/pride complex for their followers?

    Certainly heterosexual Christians leave the faith all the time to put their sexual desires first in their life too.

  • Comment number 10.

    As a heterosexual, the standard from Christ is that even thinking about lusting after a woman is a big no-no.

    (Every hear a liberal teach on this?)

    The holiness commands in scripture are much much overlooked.

  • Comment number 11.

    Also LSV I also find people from the liberal perspective usually want to major on justifying all sorts of things traditionally viewed as heresies but they never seem to have any strong views on the basics of the traditional gospel;-

    1) Every one of us has a deadly sinful nature
    2) Only faith in Christ's work can overcome this
    3) God loved us so much he sacrificed his son to give us a way out.
    3) "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord".

  • Comment number 12.

    Every hear a liberal preach on mongomay either?


    The new gospel is often accompanied by smearing any traditional believer as a fundamentalist (yes BBC NI you do it too on this very blog!)

    But in fact this is just a sneaky attempt at marginalising normal, traditional, mainstream Christian thought.

  • Comment number 13.

    To me I think that a life dominated by the thought or act of illict sex is in fact idolatry and I think it is a major challenge to every Christian today, me included, whether or not they have same sex attraction.

    The problem with this is not simply that God has forbidden such a life and he is coming to punish us for being evil.

  • Comment number 14.

    The problem is that according to Romans 1 we all know better in our conscience and we know in our heart of hearts that God has a much better life for us to live which we are turning our backs on.

    when we put thoughts about illicit sex first in our lives before our Father God it makes him angry because he has so much more for us.

  • Comment number 15.

    And doesnt God have every right to be angry with us if he sacrificed his innocent son to set us free from such sin and we trample him underfoot?

    I am not preaching as someone pretending to be pure as snow. I battle my sinful nature every day.

    But I am not going to lie down and die under this tidal wave of lies and filth.

    OT

  • Comment number 16.

    OT,
    you protesteth too loudly.........

  • Comment number 17.

    #12 - OT - "But in fact this is just a sneaky attempt at marginalising normal, traditional, mainstream Christian thought"

    What is "normal, traditional, mainstream Christian thought"?

    I'd be fascinated to know what this could be in the light of the horrific executions of "heretics" by fire and rack that so characterise our great and glorious Christian history.

    Or would it be that "normal" way of thinking that affirms belief in a God who deliberately creates some people for absolutely no other reason than to send them to everlasting hell (i.e. the predestined reprobate)? Or a God who sends little babies to hell for committing the unspeakable sin of dying having had the audacity to be born in a fallen world (not that they had any choice in the matter)? Or is this the "normal thought" that inspired Christian kings to pack off young men to be slaughtered on the battlegrounds of their self-centred religious wars?

    Or perhaps you're just talking about sexual morality? OK, let's look at the ministry of Jesus. What were his emphases? Yes, he spoke out against sexual immorality, but even more so, he denounced self-righteous and deceitful religious leaders, who exploited the things of God in order to control other people's lives. "How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" is the sobering question posed to such people. And to those who love to pick on those who struggle with sexual issues we could do worse than remind ourselves of his words: "He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone." Now, I know what the evangelical reflex reaction to that quote is: "Ah, but the Lord also said - 'Go and sin no more!'" Yes, you quote that if you like, but please, for your sake, do it with fear and trembling!

    Now concerning homosexuality, I was not advocating any practice or lifestyle associated with that. I was simply urging those who claim biblical authority for their judgments to show some understanding to others who may interpret Scripture differently. If you wish to read something into that, and suggest that I am trying to hide personal immorality behind liberal thinking, then you are mistaken. I am not gay, nor am I living in sexual sin according to the teaching of traditional Christianity, as I imagine you understand it. But as a Bible-believing Christian I believe that it is "normal, traditional, mainstream Christian thought" to show compassion, mercy and understanding, in accordance with the nature of God.

    You say: "I normally find that people with your line of reasoning have simply no intention of letting the bible have authority over their life..." This is actually a quite slovenly and serious accusation against people who simply want to understand Scripture - and who therefore wish to come under its authority through that understanding (Proverbs 4:7). Now, allow me to read between the lines, and forgive me if I have discerned incorrectly. But my feeling is that people who hide behind a cut and dried systematic theology in which the human race is neatly divided between "us and them" are actually avoiding the challenge of the love of God. Such systems are actually idols which obviate the need for a real encounter with God. I may be wrong in your case, but I am confident that I am not wrong about that in the case of many others I have met. Anybody can condemn. It is so much harder to understand other people, and to love.

    One other little point: God is sovereign and can use whom he will. He used Alan Turing - a homosexual and an atheist - to be a pioneer in developing the very technology both of us have been so blessed in using today. He also used him to save possibly millions of people's lives through his intelligence work at Bletchley Park during the last war. After the war he was rewarded for this great work by being persecuted as a homosexual and chemically castrated, which possibly led to his suicide. Was this treatment a wonderful example of Christian morality, I wonder??!!! As a Christian, and having read his life story, I cannot in all conscience feel anything other than compassion and gratitude to that man, whom God loves and for whom Christ died. Call me a heretic if you will. I prefer the love of God.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hello pastor Orthodox-tradition,

    "Even if you set aside interpretation for a moment, it is quite clear you are on a radical departure from traditional JC thought, in a stream which is only a few decades old.Even if you set aside interpretation for a moment, it is quite clear you are on a radical departure from traditional JC thought, in a stream which is only a few decades old."

    I know that the 'only recently been challenged' line is one of your pet peeves, read it several times on this blog before. Apart from not taking your word for the accuracy of the statement (your history on this blog gives no reason to do so), what's the point of it? It seems like you're trying to make the folly point that long-held ideas have credibility because they have long been held? That is nonsense of course, as much as the long-held idea that Jerusalem is the center of the world (see world maps up to the end of the Dark Ages) persisted for more than a millennium, but was still rather ill-founded.

    Kindest regards to you and Monica,
    Peter

  • Comment number 19.


    And the award for most consecutive comments in a single thread goes to:

    ORTHODOX TRADITION!

    *Applause*

    13 in a row, on the subject of homosexuality, the first subject on which we disagreed. Ah, nostalgia!


  • Comment number 20.

    Hi John,

    I'm not sure if the prize belongs to Orthodox-tradition. Slightly moronic, double-digit strings of posts does appear to be the hallmark of christians losing it bigtime on this blog. But OT may have been outdone by Graham Veale in the past. In response to one of my posts on an earlier thread, he also posted a string of at least >10 posts, ranting on about someone stealing his coffee, a gender-confused doll (huh?!), doing all-capitols yelling, and more. It may actually have outdone OT. And that's saying something, isn't it!

  • Comment number 21.

    Well done to Jeremy! He sees that Christianity is irrelevant if it ties itself slavishly to 'the Book'.

    At least, he sees the folly of a position like that of OT - totally obsessed with an anti-gay prejudice and with preserving the literalism of 2000-3000 year-old Middle East desert writings, which also inform us that God likes the smell and taste of animal sacrifice, like that of a bull:

    (Leviticus 1:9)
    "But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour to the LORD".

    And why doesn't OT make multiple postings about the evils of shaving?
    "Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard" (Leviticus 19:27).

    Or the eating of pork?
    "...and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you." (Leviticus 11:7)

    Or farmers that plant more than one kind of crop? Or people who wear cotton and polyester?
    "...do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear material woven of two kinds of material." (Leviticus 19:19).

    Or people who eat shrimp and lobster?
    "But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you" (Leviticus 11:10).

    "They (shellfish) shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination" (Leviticus 11:11).

    Or people who curse their mother and father?
    "For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him" (Leviticus 20:9).

    OT:

    The Bible says that many of the above 'shall surely be put to death'? Would you advocate the same punishment, and if not why not?

    OT:
    Have you eaten any ham sandwiches lately? Or had shellfish in a restaurant? Did you shave this morning? Have you had a haircut recently? Are you wearing any clothes with blended fibres?

    OT:

    If you say yes to any of the above, then your behaviour is 'an abomination'. On the other hand, if you have been to the temple to make a burnt offering, that's OK.

    OT:

    BTW:
    The 'traditional' Gospel is a myth. The Bible is a collection of books chosen by churchmen, who put some writings in and left some out. And their opinions on the matter varied somewhat. So the idea of a pure and pristine collection of divinely inspired books is bogus (just like any other 'holy book').

    Take the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. It opens with a story about five-year-old Jesus making twelve sparrows out of mud. He claps his hands; they come to life and fly away. In the next story, child Jesus curses a boy and makes him wither up. Later Jesus is angered when another child bumps into his shoulder and strikes him dead!

    Well, we can't have that, can we?








  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Brian,

    "And why doesn't OT make multiple postings about the evils of shaving?

    Or the eating of pork?

    Or farmers that plant more than one kind of crop? Or people who wear cotton and polyester?

    Or people who eat shrimp and lobster?"

    He has others to do that for him:

    http://www.godhatesshrimp.com/

    Unlike OT, they are fortunately just joking. Which seems to be the best thing for it, as far as much of the old testament is concerned.

  • Comment number 23.

    LSV

    Just for the record, my ire was not directed at ordinary people with homosexual feelings. I usually find them particularly likeable.

    I was challenging those that pretend they represent mainstream historical Christianity by using the bible to affirm homosexual practise.


    I was impressed by Jeremy Marks frankness today. He made a number of important points;-

    1) He recognised he was departing from "traditional" Christianity

    2) He made this decision on his experience independent of any hermeneutic understanding of scripture.

    3) He had no theological framework which would give an objection to intergenerational sex or sex between species.

    4) He also said he knew some people who had changed from homosexual to heterosexual (he said this was a small minority in his experience.)


    In contrast Michael Davidson said there was increasing evidence of this happening. Irvine Bieber and Masters and Johnston had lots of hard evidence decades ago, as did many others.

    I don't doubt Jeremy's views that many the counselling his group gave many gay people didnt work and left them troubled.

    But it still seemed quite a leap from that to conclude that people could not choose to change and that counselling is wrong.

    Paul made it clear people can;- 1 Cor 6.

    Perhaps the fault lay with the programme he was running??

    Or was Paul so wrong in 1 Cor 6?

    An important question is, if we respect the right of self determination of clients in counselling who wish to become heterosexual, is there not benefit in studying how those that change do it?


    It was also intriguing to hear William press in with his point - what about men who experience homosexul feelings for the first time in later life?

    I am puzzled by this question.

    Are all feelings which middle aged men have to be freely acted upon? What is the standard to measure them by?

    That would essentially mean the end to all traditional wedding vows (till death do us part) and also mean that no children can ever again think it normal that their parents will be monogomous for life.


    But I thought the key point was from Michael Davidson - a sex centred faith is not a real faith at all.

    The key point is not whether homosexuality is right at all.

    The key point is that the sexuality of every single person is fallen and only the living saviour can rescue us from that.

    We see the light shiningg through LSV's argument when in the thread immediately following this one, where he denies the existence of a sinful nature in mankind from original sin.

    Thus he proves my point that he is not really interested in finding the true interpretation of scripture on homosexuality but rather wants to supplant traditional Christianity altogether to replace it with whatever is going in the zeitgeist.


    That is as far from traditional Christianity as it is possible to go.


    Ultimately we cannot be fulfilled by another person but by the grace, peace and infinite love of Christ.


    OT

    ref questions on OT law; google,
    new covenant
    Galatians (in particular this book)
    Hebrews
    Romans

    Old Testament law is not binding on the church guys, as you have been advised many times before.

    ;-)


  • Comment number 24.

    #23 - OT - "Thus he proves my point that he is not really interested in finding the true interpretation of scripture on homosexuality but rather wants to supplant traditional Christianity altogether to replace it with whatever is going in the zeitgeist."

    If, OT, you actually bothered to think about what I had written, you would see that I was making a point about God condemning people to the fires of everlasting hell on the basis of original sin. Do you believe that God throws people into a pit of burning sulphur - or whatever - as punishment for the sins of previous generations (contrary to Ezekiel 18)? Do you believe that "traditional Christianity" upholds a concept of justice in which people are tortured mercilessly and sadistically for being what they could not help being? Would you personally throw a little baby (or anyone for that matter) into a fire?

    Let me mention something from a book about Christian missions in Nigeria. The author relates the following about a certain pagan tribe in Nigeria. He says that he will never forget the story told him by a missionary working among the Ado tribe. Apparently a woman gave birth to a child and the tribal priest, known as the juju priest, told her that the child was not fit to live. The priest could not give any reason why this was so, but the parents had no choice but to surrender the child to him, whereupon he then placed the child in a fire and roasted it to death. The Christian author of this book rightly concludes that this practice was dispicable and cruel.

    After reading this the thought suddenly hit me: what is the difference between the act of that pagan juju priest and the Christian God according to the beliefs of many Christians? In fact the Christian God is infinitely more cruel than ever the juju priest could be, since at least the child who was murdered eventually lost consciousness and died. But that is not the case with the fire of hell.

    So again, I ask you the question: do you believe that God roasts little babies in the fire of hell because they were sinners, born in original sin? If you deny that he does that, then are agreeing with my point!!

    And then you have the nerve to talk about morality. But the doctrine of original sin (or more accurately: "original guilt", which is what I am talking about) undermines moral responsibility. So anyone can say: "I couldn't help what I did - I was born that way!" So you are actually denying moral responsibility and not upholding it. Therefore your belief in original sin is in accordance with the secular morality of our age in which people often blame their parents or upbringing for their faults. It is certainly not Christian thinking.

    By the way ... let me add that I do certainly believe in the justice of God, and the reality of eternal judgment (and I do have an understanding of what the Bible says concerning "hell") - but this judgment has nothing to do with original sin.

  • Comment number 25.


    LSV

    Please do explain what you believe about sin, the need for salvation and the means of salvation.

    To be frank, you provide a catalogue of conentious and marginal views on so many issues that it appears that you are simply raising them for the sake of stirring contoversy.

    I mean, you are projecting so many contentious viewpoints as being associated with a traditional JC view of homosexuality that it is hard to take you seriously.

    I dont think I know anyone who holds the controversial viewpoints you cite on such a wide range of issues.

    It appears like one very long straw man argument, but please do explain so we can make a fair assessment of where you are coming from...

    The views you cite are so ridiculous to my mind, and have so little to do with this discussion that I just dont have the time to go after them.

    God burning little babies in hell????? please LSV.....

    OT

  • Comment number 26.

    LSV

    I read your post again there - you say that original sin absolves man of moral responsibility.....

    "This is certainly not Christian thinking..."

    I certainly agree that I have never heard this viewpoint put forward in any church or from any author of respect.

    Where did you get it from?

    The obvious authority on all of this is Romans - what is your view of this book LSV?

    Out of time

    regards
    OT

  • Comment number 27.

    ps I recognise that the first line of my last post was not your personal view but a hypothetical argument you made...

  • Comment number 28.

    #25 - OT - "...but please do explain so we can make a fair assessment of where you are coming from..."

    No, I am not deliberately trying to be contentious - I am trying to be honest and serious about Christian theology.

    I made a point about Bible interpretation and the interpretation of Romans 1:26-27 - is that being contentious? Is it contentious to discuss the contents of the Bible?

    The very fact that you accuse me of being contentious is a worrying sign of the censoriousness prevalent in the church, a trend that mocks and stifles any serious questioning, or seeking after truth. It's no wonder people run a mile from the church!

    I made a point about the judgment of God based on original sin - is that a marginal issue? Anyone who has any understanding or knowledge at all of Christian theology would know that that is NOT a marginal issue. Go ahead and read many booklets and tracts thrust in the faces of unsuspecting ordinary people in the street and you will see that I have a point. So this is not marginal at all. These issues are actually matters which concern a great many people, and are stumbling blocks to faith for many.

    I made a point about predestination - is that a marginal issue in church history? Hardly!! It impinges directly on what we believe about the character of God - which should be, for the Christian, the most important doctrine and truth of them all!

    I tried to get people to see the logical implications of the belief that God condemns people on the basis of original sin - that is why I gave the harrowing example of the baby who dies. As Christians we need to frankly face up to the logical implications of what we claim to believe. If we run away from that, are we not being dishonest before the watching world?!

    Don't you think that it is wrong and unchristian to say one thing in church on a Sunday and act on Monday as if those doctrines were not true! If you believe that the whole human race deserves hell because of the fall, then it is logical to say that a baby who dies will go to hell. What is so wrong, contentious, heretical or evil in wanting to make that point??? What are you afraid of discussing?

    Concerning salvation: the starting point is the nature of God. The Bible clearly states that "God is love". Christ died for all - not just potentially but actually - and yes, there is a response to that in accordance with the call of God. People can reject the love of God, and there are eternal consequences to that free-will choice, but, as I say, the starting point of our reasoning should be the love of God, and not some misguided notion of original sin, which suggests that the starting point of God's dealings with man is one of hatred and animosity and not love. And this love is the basis of morality as Jesus made clear in Matthew 22:40.

    Finally, I will admit that I recognise that this blog relates to NI, and I confess that I am an English gate-crasher. So if you really do find me terribly obnoxious and contentious at least feel relieved that I am not in your neck of the woods, as they say.

  • Comment number 29.

    OT I have to say that Jeremy Marks has made me think and I am not sure what to do with the ideas at the minute. He is an evangelical Christian and he is so very obviously a gentle, spiritual man. He has changed his mind about what the Bible says about homosexuals and that change he has made public. I think he is very courageous for standing up for what he believes. Would that more people had the courage to say what they believe is right. I applaud Jeremy Marks as a fellow Christian even if I can't agree with everything he says. He makes a strong case for taking a good look at those traditional Bible passages again.

    i was also interested to hear about Roy Clements. I heard him preach a few times in the early 90s and he was just about the best preacher I'd ever heard in the UK. Dr Clements is no fool, his commentaries on many of the books of the Bible are extremely impressive.

  • Comment number 30.

    #26 - OT - "I read your post again there - you say that original sin absolves man of moral responsibility....."This is certainly not Christian thinking..." I certainly agree that I have never heard this viewpoint put forward in any church or from any author of respect. Where did you get it from? The obvious authority on all of this is Romans - what is your view of this book LSV?"

    Let's try Isaiah 5:1-6 - this is a parable about God's vineyard, which God had planted in such a way that he expected it to bring forth good grapes, but instead it brought forth sour grapes. On the basis of that God was justified in judging his vineyard: "Judge, please, between me and my vineyard. What more could I have done to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then when I expected it to bring forth good grapes did it bring forth sour grapes?" (vv 3-4)

    This is clearly teaching that the "vineyard" (representing the House of Israel) had a moral responsibility on the basis of what God had already done for it - not potentially, but actually. God had given the vineyard all the ability to bring forth what was good, and yet it "chose" (as the vineyard represents people) to do evil. The judgment of God then fell on the vineyard as a result.

    But the vineyard was not evil from the beginning of its existence, so it could not claim that the sour grapes were the result of that (i.e. the idea of original sin). It was good to begin with and "the vineyard" rejected that goodness. Its responsibility was based on its original goodness, not its original sin.

    So there we have it from the Bible.
    Am I being contentious?

  • Comment number 31.

    #26 - OT - "The obvious authority on all of this is Romans - what is your view of this book LSV?"

    Sorry, I missed part of your question concerning Romans (although my point about the nature of God's judgment in Isaiah 5 is just as valid as anything in Romans, since all Scripture has authority).

    Since a great many volumes have been written about Paul's epistle, I am sure you are not expecting me to give a complete commentary on it. However, here are a couple of points, which call into question the dogma of original sin (or as I have said, "original guilt", which is more my concern):

    Romans 1:21 - "... although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but BECAME futile in their thoughts..."

    Now how is it that if people start life in a state of original sin (or "total depravity" as the Calvinists would say), separated from God, then what sense does this verse have? These people "knew God" and as a result of their choice they BECAME futile. In other words, as a result of their free-will choice they suffered moral and spiritual degeneration. But how is this possible if they were already degenerate from the start, as the doctrine of original sin would suggest?

    Now I would agree that all righteousness is dependent on the grace of God, since God is the source of all that is good. But, as I do not tire of emphasising, my problem is not with the idea that there are immoral influences on each person as a result of the fall, but that God judges people on the basis of original sin.

    Let's look at Romans 11:32 - "For God has committed them all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all." So any concept of original sin simply qualifies a person for God's mercy. They are not judged on the basis of original sin, but, as the parable in Isaiah 5 makes clear which I quoted in my previous post, people are only judged on the basis of having rejected the love and grace of God, which was first made real to them.

    I agree that there are verses in Romans which may call into question my point of view, but all these can easily be explained in context (e.g. the doctrine of the two Adams in Romans 5, where the influence of the one is nullified by the influence of the other).

    I imagine my explanation will not satisfy you, but at least I have attempted to answer your question.

  • Comment number 32.

    #25 - OT - "The views you cite are so ridiculous to my mind, and have so little to do with this discussion that I just dont have the time to go after them. God burning little babies in hell????? please LSV....."

    OT, you express surprise at the point I made about some Christians believing God sends babies to hell. Well, I have just visited a typical evangelical website, which has a little ticker totting up the number of people throughout the world who have apparently died today.

    http://karens-blog-karen.blogspot.com/

    This is what it says:

    "150,000 People Will Die Today The counter to the side is ticking off the number of people who have died since you opened this webpage. The vast majority of those people are entering Hell."

    I repeat what it says: "The VAST MAJORITY of those people are entering Hell". (Quite how anyone can make such a perversely presumptuous comment is beyond me - has this person met each one of these unfortunate souls? How do they arrive at this statistical conclusion?)

    Now according to statistics I have seen, betwen 18,000 and 26,000 children die each day. Therefore I assume that the owner of this website believes that the majority of these children "are entering Hell". I am simply quoting the website, as you can see.

    Here, therefore, is evidence that the idea of God sending children to the fires of hell is not so foreign to the thinking of certain (in my view, extremely misguided) Christians.

    So my objection to this theology is not so irrelevant after all!! And if you think I have made a ridiculous comment, perhaps you would like to get in touch with whomever runs the above-mentioned website and tell them what you think.

  • Comment number 33.

    LSV, you're comments draw my understanding. from what i've read, you seem to have meditated a lot on the Word.. i sort of just stumbled upon this site and started reading and you got my attention as someone who actually studys the Bible, instead of most "christians" who, sadly, merely hear a man's view of it for about 30 minutes, once a week.

    anyways... i would like to discuss and hear more of your views, if that is okay. if you would send me a message sometime, it would be appreciated you can write to: fiveironfreak777@msn.com. being this is my first time on this site, i dont know how deliberately i will keep up in here.

    thank you.

  • Comment number 34.

    #33 - bradentonjared -

    Thanks. I will be in touch soon - got to go to work now!

    In message #3 the only point I was making was that different people interpret Bible passages in different ways, and I gave internal biblical evidence that this is possible concerning the main passage about homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27. This simple point seemed to provoke a stream of accusations, which I admit took me aback a bit! Hence my lengthy attempts to defend myself!

  • Comment number 35.

    Lets take the Old Testament as a seperate entity from the New. It is often poetic, at times inspired wisdom and in places beautiful. But the basic question is - is it divinely inspired? Those who believe that God actually penned the ten commandments, well, no point in even entering a discussion with them. The OT is largely mythology, human thinking, story telling put down on parchment. It simply cannot be used as proof text for anything. You cannot "snatch at biblical texts and errect them into the sole criterion for good and evil." (OT take note!!)
    The New Testament - Form and text criticism etc.. has made it obvious to most 'thinking' people that, for example, Paul's writing has at the very least, two authors. The person who penned the beautiful 'Love is...' text is not the same scribe responsible for the culturally conditioned passages which refer to the place of slaves and women.
    This said, how can any intelligent person use Paul as the basis for any argument, without at least a basic knowledge of who is actually the author of which text?
    The gospels are written at different times for different specific audiences. Matthew for the Jews, Luke for the Gentiles. There are common sources and there are sources which are specific to each author. The E source, the Q source to name but two. Each evangelist uses Christ's words for his own purposes to deal with issues facing specific communities. You can blow a hole through most of the arguments set out above and in other places on this blogg site with a simple reference to a Greek dictionary.
    It is argued, and I think rightly and demonstrably, that theologians and Hierarchs have deliberately mis translated texts through the ages in order to suit their own purposes. For example, Matthew always refers to 'the kingdom of Heaven' where other evangelists refer to 'the kingdom of God.' (Matthew's audience is a Jewish audience where to say the word God is blasphemous. So he changes it to heaven.) Theologians and Hierarchs then take this Kingdom of Heaven (which is actually more accurately, the kingdom of God) and place it in the hereafter, some idyllic place where we will all live happily ever after. Jesus at times clearly refers to the kingdom as a presently reality which is among us now - not in the hereafter - we are to be builders of that kingdom among us. If we eject that kingdom from this world and place it in the hereafter, we are conveniently relieved of any urgent responsibility to do anything about it here in this life. Poverty, injustice and oppression can be seen as unfortunate but necessary evils which we dont have to really bother too much about because in the end we will all be happy in Heaven when we die.
    By the way, before someone comes back at me with - But Jesus said the poor you will have with you always - check your Aramaic. The word used for always is used thirteen times in the gospels. On every other occasion it is translated to English using the word 'still.' Only on this occasion is it translated as 'always.' i.e Jesus did not intend poverty to be an ever present, but sad, reality.
    Five minutes in a half decent scripture study class would hopefully expose many of the comments on this thread for the bunkum they clearly are.
    What has Jesus to say about homosexuality? Or rather, what do the authors of the four gospels (who ever they actually were) have Jesus saying about homosexuality? Zilch, zero, nada, nothing. He does have rather a lot to say though about religious zealots who persecute and judge others.

  • Comment number 36.

    #35 - romejellybean - "He does have rather a lot to say though about religious zealots who persecute and judge others."

    Thank you for the last few sentences of your post, with which I thoroughly agree, even though much of the rest of what you say seems to be high in personal opinion and supposition and low in objective evidence. However, as a firm believer in freedom of speech I applaud your right to express your point of view.

    However, I do see something of an inconsistency between your concern about religious zealots who persecute and judge others and the following comment in your analysis: "Five minutes in a half decent scripture study class would hopefully expose many of the comments on this thread for the bunkum they clearly are."

    Perhaps you yourself are not as free from zealotry as you would like to believe you are!

  • Comment number 37.

    HSV
    I'd disagree with your comment about most of my stuff being my personal opinion. Have a read at authors such as Jose Miranda, Jon Sobrino, Leonardo Boff, Gutierrez etc.. You'll find much of what I'm saying there, although much more eloquently written than by myself.

    Secondly, I have spent twenty years pandering to the right wing zealots, trying to explain, to coax, to convince. I've gradually learned that, as with all Pharisees, its a complete waste of time. I've beem appalled at the tactics they have employed to silence their critics. The trouble with extreme selfrighteousness is that no matter what you say, no matter what you do, you always end up just proving them right. Damned if you do, damned if you dont. So rather than try and convince them that it would be good for them to climb down from their tree... I'd rather just shake the tree and let them fall out.
    Christ could be accused of lacking Christianity when he pulled out a whip and overturned the tables. Calling people a brood of vipers, whitened sepulchres etc.. was hardly pious language in its day. It was shocking stuff.
    And, while I'm at it, I'd also say that he was not crucified for wandering around Palestine helping senior citizens across the road and patting children on the head. He was a threat, a political transgressor. (The prescribed punishment for blasphemy was stoning - not crucifixion.) The manner of his death tells you much about how he was perceived in his day.
    So, forgive my bluntness, HSV, and sorry if I dont sugarcoat my views to avoid offending sensibilities. But frankly, I'm tired of people using the scriptures, whether it be the Qu'uran, the Bible or anything else to disguise their basic hatred of people who happen not to conform to their narrow minded prejudices.
    I write plainly and to the point in the hope that people who read these bloggs will not be taken in by the "bunkum", disguised as serious intellectual commentary on the scriptures.
    Much of what I read above - and you know to whom I'm referring - is uninformed, fundamentalist clap trap. I think its important to state that clearly.

  • Comment number 38.

    #37 - romejellybean

    Thanks for your response, and in fact I sympathise with much of what you are saying here.

    You may possibly have discerned from some of my earlier comments that I too am appalled by much that goes by the name of Christianity. I will not actually express frankly (at the deepest level of honesty) what I feel about some forms of evangelical fundamentalism, as it might seriously break the rules of BBC moderation. I too have had disputes with right-wing fundamentalists and have been dismissed as contentious as a result - and you have seen it here on this thread.

    Any questioning of the dogmas (the "sacred cows", as it were) of reformed evangelicalism is not responded to with reason or any modicum of sympathy, and the questioner's personal motives are regarded as suspect. This was the case when I simply pointed out that some people - with a certain validity - read Romans 1:26-27 differently from probably most evangelicals. My argument was not addressed by the person who took umbrage at my comments, but I was simply accused of not being prepared to come under the authority of the Bible. In other words, anyone who dares to question the views of these people is simply dismissed as dishonest, and is accused of all sorts of things.

    However, at times I also feel like I am between a rock and hard place. Because no amount of bigotry on the part of self-righteous religious people justifies the tendency on the part of certain atheists, for example, to tar all "religious" people with the same brush (whatever "religious" is supposed to mean - I suppose anyone who is not an atheist or an agnostic). And then to subject all honest objections to atheistic thinking to sustained and unremitting mockery gets quite boring after a while, especially since there seems to be a singular lack of logic to many of the arguments. What such people (such as, e.g., Prof. Dawkins) probably fail to understand is that there are Christians (such as myself, and I can only speak for myself) who, although opposed to atheism, actually have more sympathy with atheism than with certain forms of Christianity, even though I am a convinced and committed Christian, and unashamedly so.

    I disagree with your general view of the Bible, but don't imagine for one minute that I have any sympathy with religious bigots.

    Cheers, Al (aka LSV).

  • Comment number 39.

    Al
    try and make the distinction between atheists and those on the left wing of the church.

    You seem to be tarring both with the same brush. Yes unremitting criticism, rolling out the same old tired arguments becomes tedious.

    However, the deeply committed left wing of the church (now very much on its back foot) I have found to be inspiring. Look at what the Bishops of Medelin and Puebla came up with. Their critique of rampant Capitalism and its effects for the poor, their foresight in how to courageously challenge what they called structuralized evil, their preferential option for the poor and so on, all based on Christ's teachings. It is brilliant stuff, heartening and motivating (totally rejected by Rome, by the way - which probably adds to its credibility lol)

    They were so strong on recognising evil, naming it publicly and setting themselves up against it.

    This was not the same old tired arguments. This was new and refreshingly different.

    Atheism mocks the stupidity of thematized religion and, when you look around at what is going on in the name of the Bible, do you blame them?




  • Comment number 40.


    Why am I always away when the good debates start? Back in time, nonetheless, to sit in on Jeremy Marks' talk tonight.

    Writing as an extreme and unapologetic liberal who regards the Bible as being of great interest but possessed of absolutely no authority whatsoever, what fascinated me most was the shift I can see happening in Evangelicalism, or at least in some shades of it. One saw the same thing at David Wilkinson's talks last week: people ducking and diving, turning the most agile mental somersaults to make an evangelical reading of scripture square with the simple facts of science or the plain decency which infects anyone who ventures to make contact with civilisation and civility.

    I honestly don't know why or indeed how they do it. I consider myself a Christian but there is no requirement at all to believe even one impossible thing before breakfast or indeed at any other time of the day or night!

  • Comment number 41.


    OT

    Have to take you up on your challenge in post # 11.

    As a liberal of liberals here are my strong views on your four basics of the "traditional" gospel.

    1. I do not find sin a helpful concept but consider we all have a selfish nature against which we may strive.

    2. The life and teachings of Christ are a powerful source on which we may draw in our struggles against innate selfishness. Faith in the sense of belief in any doctrine or dogma is likely to be more of a hindrance than a help in that struggle.

    3. God does not love us but we may consider love to one of the media in which we experience Him. He neither made nor requires any sacrifice.

    4. The only barriers which prevent us accessing the love of God are those we erect ourselves.



  • Comment number 42.

    LSV

    That's a really good way to find out what evangelicals believe. Tune into a random blogspot.

    It's a bit like researching Buddhism by reading a Richard Gere interview, or researching the best arguments for atheism by reading "The God Delusion" (-;

    Over on the "Hate" thread you seem to attribute views to reformed evangelicals that just aren't essential to that viewpoint. (Granted, many "punters" will say things that sound odd, but they are often repeating cliches that they do not understand).

    Specifically you confuse Original Sin with Inherited Guilt, you assume that Hell's primary function is punishment, that a strong view of Providence precludes indeterministic free-will, and that Predestination necessarily includes predestination to damnation.
    Not one of these ideas is essential to Confessing/Reformed Evangelicalism.

    On the issue of interpretation (a) there may be several coherent interpretations of a text. That does not mean that one interpretation is clearly the best (b) the plain points are the main points. That is, whilst we may debate Jesus exact teaching on divorce, we can be clear that he is generally against. Or whilst the purpose and interpretation of Genesis One is debateable, it is clear that the author was teaching monotheism and rejecting polytheism. In the same way it is impossible to avoid the view that overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that God's "creative intent" is for heterosexual intercourse and emphatically against homosexual intercourse. Portwyne is entirely correct on this point.

    I'm more than happy to discuss this in more detail over on the "Hate" thread.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 43.

    #42 - gveale - "...you assume that Hell's primary function is punishment, that a strong view of Providence precludes indeterministic free-will, and that Predestination necessarily includes predestination to damnation. Not one of these ideas is essential to Confessing/Reformed Evangelicalism."

    I hope to reply to your message more fully later, but here is a quote from Calvin's Institutes concerning predestination - (Book 3, Chapter 21):

    "By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he has decided in his own mind what he wishes to happen in the case of each individual. For all men are not created on an equal footing, but for some eternal life is pre-ordained, for others eternal damnation."

    This supports my view concerning reformed theology. It is true, according to this theology, which looks to Calvin as its "spiritual father" (do you dispute that?), that God has deliberately created some people for absolutely no other reason than to send them to the place of eternal torture and torment.

    I'll post again later.

  • Comment number 44.

    #42 - gveale -

    I have continued my response on the other thread:"British Christians Challenge Hate Church".

  • Comment number 45.


    Graham - your post # 42.

    May I ask on precisely what point you think I am "entirely correct"? (Some mistake, I am sure)!

    It can not have been the point immediately preceding your reference to me as:

    1. I do not believe that God created the universe, man, or indeed anything else in it.

    2. I do not believe God is possessed of "intent".

    3. I do not think God has any views whatsoever on the relative merits of homo- or hetero-sexual intercourse.

  • Comment number 46.


    Portwyne, appreciate your frankness is post 41!


    I am also curious to know whether the people involved in this blog play an active and committed part in a local church and whether the views they present here reflect those of the church they serve.

    I have a theory that broadly speaking those people with a mainstream traditional view will be active and committed to their local church while those that are, say, radical/liberal/non-traditional will tend not to be committed members of a local church.

    The reason I think this is because traditional biblical values make a church distinctive ie give it a unique selling point. Churches which grow generally have this flavour.

    However churches which shrink tend to water down all traditional mainstream views and simply reflect the values of the zeitgeist = no unique selling point = no motivation to purchase = shrinking congregation.

    Any volunteers?

    I know GV's position already...

    Portwyne?
    LSV?
    Rome Jelly Bean?

    Many thanks
    OT

  • Comment number 47.


    ARE THERE OTHER CHRISTIANS ASIDE FROM FUNDAMENTALISTS WHO OPPOSE HOMOSEXUAL PRACTISE WHILE EMBRACING HOMOSEXUAL PEOPLE?



    Guys I notice several claims above-

    1) That Christ had little to say about sexual sin and was more concerned about oppression of the weak.

    2) That a traditional Christian viewpoint on sexuality is allegedly "fundamentalism" ie in effect a marginal fringe viewpoint.


    Dealing with the second point first, I note that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), for example, maintains a traditional viewpoint on sexuality. Is this a fundamentalist denomination?

    Fundamentalism was a particular American development of the 20th century and has a very distinct flavour which you will not find in the PCI. Fundamentalism generally opposes advanced education as "modernist" and strongly opposes the differing doctrinal nuances of different mainstream denominations.

    Fundamentalism has a very strong line on seperation from such denominations and also strongly opposes social intervention by the church in favour of the poor.

    This contrasts strongly with PCI on all countes and indeed this is a fine case study in how the perjorative smear of "fundamentalist" does not stick to most mainstream denominations today which hold to traditional views on sexuality.


    Furthermore your quarrel on this matter is primarily with the gracious Jeremy Marks not me. Jer said in his SS interview that he was leaving a "traditional" Christian viewpoint on sexuality with his new views. Is Jeremy also a fundamentalist? To attempt to smear traditional mainstream Christian views on sexuality as "fundamentalist" is therefore clearly a breathtaking attempt at revisionism of church history.

    Following are some points from respected British church leader John Stott, who has been widely castigated by fundamentalists for his views on many matters. Incidentally he helped found international charity Tearfund which specialises in helping the poor and oppressed. But obviously he did not think that his achivement in helping the poor relieved him of responsibility to teach traditional scriptural truth to the church on sexuality;-

    Stott notes that the traditional biblical understanding of homosexuality was reevaluted for the first time in 1955 by theologian Derrick Sherwin. Stott makes it quite clear that such a challenge had never been raised before Sherwin.

    It is time for the revisionists to prove Jeremey Marks and John Stott wrong and to provide some evidence that homosexuality was previously consistently affirmed in the teaching of mainstream churches and leading Christian figures throughout history.

  • Comment number 48.

    Anyway, I have been particularly challenged by Stott's criticisms of the mainstream church on this matter;-

    Stott says;-

    * "At the heart of the homosexual condition is a deep loneliness, the natural human hunger for mutual love, a search for identity and a longing for completeness. If a homosexual cannot find these things in the local 'church family' we have no business to go on using the expression. The alternative is not between the warm physical relationship of homosexual intercourse and the pain of isolation in the cold. There is a third option, namely a Christian environment of love, understanding, acceptance and support."

    * He echoes calls for a double repentance, where the church renounces hostility towards homosexuals and homosexuals renounce the active lifestyle. He also echoes a call that the church has no right to make such calls unless it is providing real and practical love and support for people in this position.

    * He says the very existence of the Gay Christian Movement and the evangelical section of it "is a vote of censure on the church".

    * He notes we are all fallen beings with fallen sexualities.

  • Comment number 49.

    Stott does go on to affirm traditional scriptural understandings of the matter;-

    * He says the Christian attitude to homosexuality must begin with Genesis 1&2 which clearly show that marriage was created and designed for man and woman. Three references to common "flesh" denote "reunion" rather than "union" of physical, emotional and spiritual "complementarity" as woman was created from male and for male. He adds: "Thus scripture defines the marriage that God instituted in terms of heterosexual monogamy... and scripture envisages no other kind of marriage or sexual intercourse, for God provided no alternative".

    * He also rejected the argument that love is the only standard by which relationships should be measured, as this could justify, for example, cases such as men leaving their families for women they have supposedly fallen in love with. "For love needs law to guide it" he says. (My comment- this reminds me of of Jeremy's answers on Sunday Sequence that he could "draw no lines" which would forbid bestiality or paedophilia and that love was his main focus. BTW I agree with JPTL's comments that Jer seemed a gent on the show.)

    * Citing Christ as an example, Stott says: "Sexual experience is not essential to human fulfillment".

    * He also notes that complete chastity is also required of millions of unmarried heterosexual Christians.

    * He cites an expert who says that "...the homosexual - whether man or woman - has suffered some sort of deficit in their relationship with the parent of the same sex and that there is a corresponding drive to make good this deficit through the medium of same sex or homosexual relationships... the homosexual condition does not involve abnormal needs, but normal needs which have been left unmet in the ordinary proces of growth." Stott says what is needed is "deep loving, lasting same sex but non-sexual relationships, especially in the church."

  • Comment number 50.

    Stott ctd

    * He does not believe complete healing of our sinful conditions will take place in this life, but will upon meeting Christ face to face. (-applies to all addictive conditions? However I have heard a number of men who had been gay saying they are now happily married eg Andy Comiskey).

    * In refuting claims that Sodom's sin in Gen 19 was inhospitality, Stott notes the men of the city said they wanted to "know" the two angels but Lot offered instead his two daughters who had not "known" man. Stott points out that the Hebrew verb "to know" here is commonly used in Gensis to denote sexual intercourse.

    * Stott also points out that Lot's offer of his "virgin" daughters to the gang to distract them from his guests meant he clearly understood the men of the city intended sexual violence.

    * Stott notes that the book of Jude explicitly states that serious sexual sin was one of the reasons Sodom was destroyed;- Jude1:7 "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

    * In 1Cor6:9 Stott notes the two greek words describing homosexual practice translate literally as (i)"soft to the touch" and (ii)"male in a bed" which when placed together contextually mean the passive and active partners in homosexual sex;- "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor (i)effeminate, nor (ii)abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

  • Comment number 51.

    SCRIPTURAL PASSAGES ON HOMOSEXUALITY;-


    * In Paul's condemnation of homosexual practise in Romans 1 there is no qualification to say that his extreme adjectives only apply to the practise if done in a pagan religious context or if committed by heterosexuals. Paul's use of extreme adjectives is typical of every biblical passage dealing with this subject and the new modern interpretation of this passage gives no sound reason as to why his adjectives should be purely limited to homosexual conduct by heterosexuals or if done in a pagan cultic context;-
    Romans1
    22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
    23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
    24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
    25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.


    * Paul here affirms his condemnation of homosexual practise without any qualification for the relationship context, previous sexuality or religious context of the act;-
    1Timothy1
    9 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,
    10 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;


    * The same point is upheld by Paul again in 1 Cor 6, ie condemning condemning homosexual practise, independent of relationship, religion or previous sexuality context;-
    "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [passive partner], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [active male partner], 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."



    * Some modern radicals claim that Sodom was destroyed for lack of hospitality to two angels. But in fact the record shows that the Lord (ie Christ) intended to destroy Sodom before the angels even reached the city; In Genesis 18 Abraham intercedes at length face to face with the Lord not to destroy Sodom, but the angels dont reach the city until the next chapter.

  • Comment number 52.

    CHRIST'S VIEW OF HOMOSEXUALITY

    The first point to make is that Christ loved/loves people. ordinary people. ordinary sinners. Like me. Like you. Gay, straight, from his race, from other races, wealthy, poor, in good health, incapacited, promiscous, religious, non religious, self righteous, repentant. Read the Gospel of Luke!

    I believe he gave himself for all these types of people. But as CS Lewis said, Aslan is a good lion, but not a tame one. This is scary stuff for me too. God is not an indulgent Santa Claus, he is a consuming fire of holiness too.

    But his character from the start of the bible to the end does display immense patience with people and every support to lift them to the standards he expects. This is the battle of discipleship. A good father son relationship is a good starting analogy...

  • Comment number 53.

    * It was Christ, ie "the Lord" who told Abraham he planned to destroy Sodom in Gen 18. The gospels time and again name Christ as "The Lord" ie part of the Trinity. And in John 8 Christ confirms that he was a personal friend of Abraham's long before Jesus had been born of woman. This is traditional mainstream Christianity.


    * Did Christ have nothing to say about homosexuality? Six times in the gospels he holds up Sodom as a very real example of extreme sin and judgement. Scripture records many of Sodom's sins, but Genesis and Jude (both inspired by Christ, 2 Tim3:6) confirm that sexual sin was a major one of them.

    In Luke 17:29 Christ says;- "But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all."


    * Furthermore Christ repeatedly condemns all sexual activity which deviates from the purpose for which he designed and created sex. (ie he created everything Col 1:16).

    When Christ condemns fornication it would appear that he condemns all sex outside of heterosexual marrige;-
    Christ condems "fornication" in Matt chapters 5, 15, 19, Mark 7, for

    example;-
    Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
    Mark 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,


    The greek feminine noun for fornication, here is translated 26 times as "fornication" in the New Testament (BBC house rules forbid non English words fyi).

    The equivalent verb is used 8 times, the female noun is used 12 times and the male noun is used 10 times. That is 46 times variations of this term are used in the Greek New Testament. The greek term has a much broader meaning than adultery.

    The greek term appears to be an umbrella term covering all types of sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage.

    The Online Bible Greek Lexicon says the greek word translated as fornication in the New Testament means;-

    1) illicit sexual intercourse
    1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
    1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev 18
    1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; #Mr 10:11,12
    2) metaph. the worship of idols
    2a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

  • Comment number 54.



    Here is a full study on the greek term for the word translated as "fornication" in the New Testament and as used by Christ.

    It is a very broad term different to adultery and which takes in all sex outside heterosexual marriage, including homosexuality;-

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4202&t=KJV#

  • Comment number 55.



    In "Homosexuality and the politics of truth" Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and academic Jeffrey Satinover says;-

    "...homosexuality has long been recognised as treatable". His book then includes a table which "includes a selection of reports dating from 1930 to 1986 that discuss a variety of treatment methods."

    He continues;-
    "These tables are but a representative cross section of the entire sixty-year literature that activists condemn as wholesale 'lies'. Recall that in the eight years between 1966 and 1974 alone, just the Medline database - which excludes many psychotherapy journals- listed over a thousand articles on the treatment of homosexuality."

  • Comment number 56.


    Satinover says a critical analysis of most of these studies can be seen in R Goetz's "Homosexuality and the possibility of change" 1998;-

    http://www.peoplecanchange.com/Is_Change_Possible.htm


    "Note that the composite of these results gives an overall success rate of over 50 per cent- where success is defined as 'considerable' to 'complete' change. These reports clearly contradict claims that change is flatly impossible. Indeed, it would be more accurate to say that all the existing evidence suggests strongly that homosexuality is quite changeable. Most psychotherapists will allow that in the treatment of any condition, a 30 per cent success rate may be anticipated. An implicit precondition of all such change, not just with regard to regard homosexuality, is committment to change on the part of both patient and therapist."

    "One of the last articles on homosexual change in a major journal was published in 1976......the researcher examined carefully not only the immediate results of combined behavioural and psychotherapeutic interventions, but long-term follow up. The author found:

    'Of 49 patients... 63 per cent were contracted for follow-up. The average period since the end of treatment was 4 years...61 per cent remained exclusively heterosexual whereas 29 per cent have had homosexual intercourse. Heterosexual intercourse was reported in 90 per cent...'

    "In 1984 the Masters and Johnson progam similarly reported a five-year follow-up success rate of 65 per cent."

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.


    FAQ - why do you bother OT?

    A. There are so many people struggling desperately in this situation I passionately believe the word of God and the God of the word holds out hope and grace for them.


    I have met a fair few in such circumstances and have liked them all.

    If I were in their shoes I would like to be given the dignity to read ALL the facts so I could be empowered to make informed decisions about my future.

    Furthermore, this issue is perhaps THE defining issue of this time in the west. It is the hinge on which we are swinging back into a neo-pagan era.

    ie no absolute morals, everyone makes up their own rules, worship of nature, life is cheap for those who cant defend themselves (ie the unborn and the elderly), might is right, if it feels good do it, do what thou wilt be the whole of the law....

    At least we will not swing into such an era kidding ourselves it is progress.

    OT

  • Comment number 59.


    OT - your post # 46.

    I am also curious to know whether the people involved in this blog play an active and committed part in a local church and whether the views they present here reflect those of the church they serve.

    In response to your request:

    I am a regular attender at my local church, I have been a member of the Select Vestry, a Parish Reader, I have served as both Rector's and People's Churchwarden, and I was for many years a member of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland. I am a member of the Anglican group Affirming Catholicism. My views, as expressed on this blog, would once have been very comfortably accepted in my local parish but the creeping tide of evangelicalism has encroached so, I fear, the current rector and I would agree on very little and the curate and I on even less!

  • Comment number 60.

    portwyne, you interrupted OTs record posting run!

  • Comment number 61.


    Peter, I am truly contrite, please try to forgive me...

  • Comment number 62.

    once again portwyne, appreciate your honesty...

    many thanks

    intriguing to hear your view that evangelical views are taking over the COI, if that is what you are indeed saying.

    What are your views on my theory generally? does church growth have a correlation with strength of belief in a broadly plain reading of the bible?

    I suspect the most radical liberals who express personal views here tend to have little to do with churches.

    I think the pattern I am suggesting may be more noticeable on a national and international level, because church attendance in NI has been such a habit for generations that many still do it for cultural reasons even when they don't really believe the superatural side of it anymore. Our own helio might be one such example! I think he calls himself an athiest Christian and Dylan Dog says he is a cultural Christian!

    In contrast, in cultures where church attendance is not traditional I think people need a very good reason to get involved and perhaps that ultimately tends to be the risen Christ at the centre of things....


    Thanks v much for your input anyway Portwyne.

    anyone else?

    OT

  • Comment number 63.


    Portwyne

    ref post 41 am I to understand that you were or are an ordained minister in the COI?

    Just curious but why do you find this blog so interesting?

    OT

  • Comment number 64.


    OT

    I would happily describe myself as a "royal priest" and perhaps even a "peculiar person" but, no, I am not (and have never been) an ordained minister of the CoI. A 'Parish Reader' is someone licensed by the Bishop to lead public prayers and assist with the distribution of Holy Communion.

    I am off to work now so I will try to answer your other points tomorrow.

  • Comment number 65.

    Hello portwyne,

    "Peter, I am truly contrite, please try to forgive me..."

    Well all right then *grumble*.

    John Wright,

    Please update your records. The maximum now stands at 13. So Graham loses another crown, this one to OT.

  • Comment number 66.

    OT -

    I am someone who is heavily involved in Christian work, and you may be surprised to know that it includes evangelism and mission both here and overseas, and has done for many years. And you may also be surprised to know that this work is not based on "liberal theology" at all, but is firmly based on a belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible. The work I am involved with is within the mainstream of the Christian church here in England - so don't imagine I am in some fringe sect or something. I am also an active member of the C of E.

    I am not divulging any more information than that about myself, as I perceive that you have a tendency to move the discussion away from objective argument and onto personal and subjective judgments.

    As I have said, in all my posts I have sought to refer to the Bible, and the only "liberal" comment I could conceivably be accused of having made is that I - almost naively - made the point that some people read Romans 1:26-27 somewhat differently than others. Perhaps it might be useful actually to address the concerns of these people, from a hermeneutical point of view?

    Why not start with a simple book on the issue like "What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality" by Daniel A Helminiak. Don't imagine for one minute that I agree with Helminiak's conclusions, but as a "Bible-believing" Christian I think it is consistent with both the love and the justice of God to listen to this point of view, and assess whether these arguments have any merit. I disagree with him on many points, and some of his interpretations of obscure Old Testament verses which he claims could advocate homosexuality are far-fetched, to say the least. However, he does make some reasonable points. What I find most challenging however, is what he says in the preface:

    "People who choose to follow the 'literal reading' of the Bible need to understand how others, in good faith, can insist the Bible does not condemn homosexuality."

    I want to understand why some people read the Bible in this way. Because I want to understand this, does that mean that I have become a liberal? And does that mean that theological conservatives then acquire the right to cast all sorts of aspersions on my Christian commitment?

    The argument from church growth, which you have used, is one of the poorest arguments to justify a theological position. Are we to believe that all the mega-churches around the world are operating faithfully to Scripture? Are we to believe that struggling churches in difficult parts of the world are wishy-washy liberals? Anyone can pull a crowd by appealing to the baser aspects of human nature (including self-righteousness and spiritual smugness) - it really doesn't mean a thing. If another religion grows, does that mean we have to believe it is true? Of course not.

    You simply cannot judge the truth of any position on the basis of how many people support it. If that were true then we should all be serious students of The Sun newspaper!!

    So please, let's not get personal, and let's stick to the arguments.

  • Comment number 67.


    OT

    Well, first of all, you will possibly be glad to hear that I think "personal and subjective judgements" (as LSV calls them) are just as necessary to the discussion of matters important to humanity as "objective arguments". I do not really think that even an Evangelical would dare suggest that the feature which most marked the teaching of Christ was its skilful use of the objective argument.

    Debate which is not rooted in the life and practice of its proponent tends to be rather too dull for my taste.

    I do think that Evangelicalism is a growing force in the Northern province of the CoI: ever more rectors, more bishops, more vociferous laity seem now to style themselves Evangelicals. However, like the old grey mare, Evangelicalism "ain't what she used to be". Possibly half the people who so label themselves are really just half-hearted liberals who like choruses and feel a need to relate to young people - from both of which afflictions I am thankfully free!

    You may well be right that Churches which offer certainty and security in an uncertain world are experiencing more growth than those which count their job well done if they merely provoke their adherents to the asking of questions and the discipline of a constantly examined life. I do not think Jesus came to save the world or to start a mass movement; he would not have judged success in terms of numbers. Jesus aimed to recruit a band of totally committed followers whose dedication would both light and savour humanity. The worth of a church is not to be judged by its size but by the extent to which it influences the community in which it exists towards a negation of selfishness and an embracing of the needy in love.

    You ask why I find this blog interesting, well, having already bored the tolerant among my friends to death on these issues, I lurked for a while before posting and finally began contributing because I saw a gap which needed filled. There are among the regular posters various shades of atheists and humanists, various shades of Evangelicals and soi-disant Evangelicals, a smattering of Roman Catholics but no unashamed, unabashed, thorough-going Christian liberals speaking clearly and unequivocally the message of God's love to the age. I am a blogger of the gap.





  • Comment number 68.

    Here is an interesting explanation from the BBC as to why my post 57 was removed......


    ///////////////////

    Dear BBC Blog contributor,

    Thank you for contributing to a BBC Blog. Unfortunately we've had to remove your content below

    Postings to BBC blogs will be removed if they advertise products or services for profit or gain.

    Posts to the BBC blogs should not contain advertising or promotion of any kind. This may include links to personal websites or forums, surveys and questionnaires, or details of charity or fund-raising events that fall outside the BBC's Editorial Guidelines.

    You can read the BBC Blog and messageboard House Rules in full here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/messageboards/newguide/popup_house_rules.html

    If you can rewrite your contribution to remove the problem, we'd be happy for you to post it again.

    Please note that anyone who seriously or repeatedly breaks the House Rules may have action taken against their account.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/messageboards/newguide/popup_breaking_rules.html

    Regards,

    BBC Blog Team





  • Comment number 69.

    Here is my post again, now self-censored.


    SOLUTIONS?

    Again we have to say, Jeremy Mark's conclusions that change is not viable is light years away from decades of solid peer reviewed mental health research and published papers;-
    http://www.CENSORED

    Andy Comiskey's book "Pursuing sexual wholeness" details his long struggle to deal with homosexual feelings. He details for himself and his charges many setbacks and failures along their journey when they would feel powerless against their desires and give in. But he also details continued grace and forgiveness of God and support of some Christians that helped and helps them along the way. He is now happily married with children. In fact it is a very instructive book for any Christian wanting victory over their sin nature as this battle is common to everyone.
    Comiskey's organisation "Desert Stream" is an international project helping people all over the world deal with homosexual feelings.

    http://www.CENSORED

  • Comment number 70.


    The link to the list of research projects which I was fobidden to use in my post 57 and which contradicts Jeremy Mark's claims that active change is not possible can be found at People can change dot com.

    The list of some historical research papers can be found under the "Is Change Possible?" heading.

    As I have never seen this rule enforced before in several years on this blog I am tempted to think that some people looking on in this blog are annoyed at the free and open discussion about ALL the facts in the public domain on this matter.


    OT

  • Comment number 71.



    ..we only have to look at the links in William's post at the top of this thread to ask how my hyperlinks could be considered any different.

    Jeremy's new book was heavily plugged on SS at the weekend!!!

  • Comment number 72.

    LSV

    In post 3 you are clearly advocating a radical new viewpoint on what the bible says about homosexuality.

    Even Jeremy Marks agrees he has a non-traditional view on this matter.

    So please define how you would describe your own view if you do not like the "liberal" description. I will be glad to comply.

    I am not intending ad hominem attacks on you but I am firmly challenging any assertion that your viewpoint on homosexuality and the bible are traditional mainstream Christianity.

    I have yet to see you offer any EVIDENCE to contradict me on this.


    I agree with you and Portwyne that church size and growth are certainly not God's main standard of success.

    Portwyne, thanks again for your comments. Intriguing insight into the COI at the moment!

    I am taken at how divergent our views are and yet the respect with which we can converse.

    OT

  • Comment number 73.

    Hello pastor Orthodox-tradition, you wrote

    "Again we have to say, Jeremy Mark's conclusions that change is not viable is light years away from decades of solid peer reviewed mental health research and published papers"

    Solid peer reviewed research and papers, eh? That would be a first for you. Given your record on this blog, I'm supremely skeptical. Tell you what, instead of providing urls to pages where the research is listed, why not list some references to the journal papers? These could not possibly be taken as advertising.

    Anyone want to place a bet that our bigoted fundie pastor Orthodox-tradition doesn't have any peer-reviewed research papers to support his views? I would bet he doesn't, and I'll give pretty good odds to anyone who wants to bet the opposite.

    My dear pastor, you also said

    "As I have never seen this rule enforced before in several years on this blog I am tempted to think that some people looking on in this blog are annoyed at the free and open discussion about ALL the facts in the public domain on this matter."

    That is humongous hypocrisy coming from you, isn't it? You've pressed the complaint button on so many of my posts for the sole reason that they contained links to information that were uncomfortable to your fundie mind. Like the link to data that shows a high degree of mutual exclusivity between people being intelligent, accomplished scientists and being religious. Or links to data on transitional fossils, something you're so scared of, as a science-denying YEC fundie.

    Come on OT, as the chief censor on this blog, it is really unfitting for you to complain.

    kindest regards to you and Monica,
    Peter

  • Comment number 74.

    Peter Klaver

    You are of course right to expose the quite stunning hypocrisy of OT about his gurn about freedom of speech when he of course is the chief gurner and denier of freedom of speech on this blog! OT has hit new depths of hypocrisy on this one.

    You are also right about the record number of posts here-OT does have homosexuality on the brain.

    And OT going on about peer-reviewed papers when he has ignored/dissed them in the past-what hypocrisy!

    However I must correct you on one issue Peter-OT and the Pastor in question have both denied being the same person-if they were that would make OT a liar and a hypocrite-and Peter what a hypocrite that would make OT? on here going on and on about the Bible yet deliberately ignoring the most basic teachings!?

    I must say that I for one do not believe that OT and the Pastor are the same-you would expect a Pastor to know a little of the Bible and OT knows sweet FA-conclusive evidence I hope you would agree Peter. May I also add that the Pastor in question seems like a really decent, upstanding chap-so obviously could not be OT.

    Further I do not know why OT should go on about his god since he/she showed us that his god doesn't exist-how silly is that!

    Kindest regards

    DD

  • Comment number 75.

    #72 - OT - "In post 3 you are clearly advocating a radical new viewpoint on what the bible says about homosexuality."

    Right, I am going to take a deep breath here and try not to react...

    Instead of assuming that I am "advocating" some viewpoint, I am simply saying that some people (not necessarily I myself) read Romans 1:26-27 differently from others, and I gave one reason why this is so - the interpretation of the Greek word "phusis".

    I am struggling to understand what it is that I have said that it so offensive. I acknowledge (and I have done so on the "Pot Kettle" thread) that I have been somewhat intemperate in my language (i.e. using the term "liberal" in an unqualified way), but I cannot see why you are pinning this "radical new viewpoint" judgment on my words.

    You say that I am CLEARLY advocating this viewpoint. I am afraid it is not "clear" to me what is so radical about asking fellow Christians to make the effort to understand (not necessarily agree with – just UNDERSTAND) why some people (who also profess to be Christians) read the Bible somewhat differently than others - and they do so on the basis of what they see as the internal evidence of the Bible.

    There are many "clear" statements in the Bible which seem to contradict each other, and therefore we can only accept what the Bible says through the process of interpretation. I think I have said more than enough elsewhere about that.

    One other thing... you refer to "tradition". But it is not unreasonable to say that history can often be the story of "the winners". How do we know what more authentic forms of Christianity have been suppressed over the centuries, and for which there is now no or scant historical record? Yes, this is an argument from silence, but it is not an unreasonable point.

    We assume that just because certain viewpoints have held sway over the centuries that their longevity gives them authority. I beg to differ on that point - especially in the light of the behaviour of the church over the centuries.

  • Comment number 76.

    LSV

    I am struggling to understand where you are coming from here, if you can help please. I havent found anything at all that you have written "so offensive" BTW.

    You appear to be in a position where you are asking people to suspend judgment and to examine new interpretations of scripture and this appears to be your own position at the moment. You appear reticent to give a definitive position of your own at present, which is your right of course.

    I have already engaged at length with the modern radical arguments I am aware of, in posts above, and am happy to respond to any others which I have not addressed. (Are you happy to engage with my defences?)

    I notice you dont appear to have put forward any actual arguments which support radical modern positions, you seem to be mainly arguing that radical arguments demand respect and should not lightly be dismissed without careful examination, which seems fair enough as far as it goes IMHO. I reserve the right to draw conclusions though, if I may.

    In "the pot calling" thread you mention someone close to you is gay and this is obviously an issue very close to home at the moment. I have previously had someone close to me appear to take a grave course of action contrary to scripture, which is not easy.

    Only you know the entirety of your own position at the moment but please try and understand that while you are describing yourself as Christian your arguments are proving the biggest hits with the athiests ie Helio.

    In other words, perhaps it is how you are communicating that is causing the biggest misunderstanding for you here rather than what you are communicating.

    Trying to be helpful here....!

    I am not hostile to you in any way and am happy to have a respectful two way discussion.

    OT

  • Comment number 77.


    OT / LSV-

    I'm having the worst case of deja-vu. You see, years ago, OT and I had a discussion very, VERY similar to the one you two are having right now:

    A) Here on this blog
    B) On this very subject
    C) Advocating similar positions
    D) Making similarly little progress!

    In order to try and rectify item D, might I suggest that the problem is the two of you have not understood what position the other is advocating, for whatever reason. Might I further suggest that the two of you join me in a little exercise I like to call Quoting From Your Personal Mission Statement. I'll start:

    1) I believe that, in most places, the bible does not prohibit homosexuality.

    2) I believe that in the places the bible appears to prohibit homosexuality the texts represent the views of the author, the expectations of the reader and the context of the time and place in which it was written.

    3) I believe that homosexuality is entirely compatible with Christian faith.

    4) I believe that evangelical arguments against homosexuality are among some of the worst arguments in contemporary theological discourse. :-)


    Now, OT and LSV, your turn. What are your respective positions on this topic?

  • Comment number 78.

    Hi John

    I have laid out my arguments at some lenght on the Jeremy Marks thread.

    Perhaps it would be better if you carried that discussion over there and read my posts there first?

    cheers
    OT

  • Comment number 79.


    ..sorry thought I was on the other thread.... duhh

    John, a little patronising there I fear ie the worst arguments bit.

    I already set the bar in posts above and the polite thing is for you to respond to those directly first.

    OT

  • Comment number 80.


    OT- It would communicate your position very clearly to me and to LSV and others if you were to adopt the format I did, above. Just set out three or four of your beliefs on this topic in that form; it shouldn't require much effort.

  • Comment number 81.

    OT

    "and Dylan Dog says he is a cultural Christian!"

    Taking my name in vain? well I am certainly more of a "Christian" than you..which lets face it isn't difficult. Like Jesus I dislike smug, self-righteous, dishonest hypocrite holy Joes. You should try to read the Bible sometime.

    John is right in how "debates" go with you OT

    A) Here on this blog
    B) On this very subject
    C) Advocating similar positions
    D) Making similarly little progress!

    With a few word changes this is the norm for you-a position that has been noted by other Christians on these boards.

    Ho hum!

    Kindest regards

    DD

  • Comment number 82.

    #76 - OT - "Only you know the entirety of your own position at the moment but please try and understand that while you are describing yourself as Christian your arguments are proving the biggest hits with the athiests ie Helio."

    And so that makes me a non-Christian or sub-Christian does it? I can't control what atheists think or how they respond to what I write. I have made it abundantly clear that I am NOT an atheist, so I don't quite see the relevance of your comment.

    Are you desperately trying to categorise me simply because I wish to engage with the arguments concerning the interpretation of a particular passage of the Bible?

    Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I am utterly opposed to homosexuality, and I am sorry for my error in post #3. Now you can categorise me as a conservative. Or suppose I say: actually I am not completely against homosexuality. Now you can call into question my Christian commitment. "Phew, that's LSV sorted out. Now we know where this fella's coming from" ... "So now we can pigeon-hole him, second-guess him, predict him and dismiss him."

    You also seem to give the impression that I am being negative (and therefore contentious) and don't have a positive position. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    We all need a means by which to interpret the Bible. How do we do this? What is our hermeneutical principle? On what "universal" concept is our knowledge based?

    Every philosophy has to have a fundamental starting point, an overarching principle, an "arche" as the ancient Greeks would have said. Otherwise how do we make sense of all the particulars of sense experience? How do we organise the statements we read in the Bible? How do we interpret the Bible? That starting point has to be "God". But immediately there's a problem, because "God" as a concept is like an empty box which we can fill with any idea we want. There has to be some content to "God". So it is not simply "God" we start with, but the "character of God", which can be defined conceptually (and I am not talking about the "attributes of God" - i.e. omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence etc, which are "mechanical"). The Bible summarises the character of God in the phrase "God is love".

    In my theology this is the starting point. Unfortunately this is often not the starting point of some Christian theology, which claims to be orthodox. The starting point is often the "law of God" understood without reference to "love", and then we move from that to the sinfulness of man and his guilt. So "God as the judge of man" is the starting-point of such theology, and the concept of "love" is tacked on almost as an afterthought. After people have been made thoroughly aware of their guilt before God, they are then offered a way out of the condemnation they are told they "deserve" (even though the word "deserve" is meaningless with reference to original sin, since no one chose to be born into a sinful world). This mechanistic understanding of salvation is then called "the love of God". But that is merely sleight of hand. It's a bit like forcing someone to live in the shadow of Chernobyl, telling them they deserve to die of radiation poisoning for living there and then demanding their gratitude when you heal them. It just doesn't add up in my mind.

    The law of God is fulfilled by the love of God, and as Jesus said, the two greatest commandments are to do with loving God and your neighbour and on them hang all the law and the prophets. Right at the heart of even the law of God is the love of God as the starting-point and the end-point. So all morality hangs on "love". We do not begin life as enemies of God, since "God is love". We can only become enemies of God as a result of deliberate conscious choice, and even then God still loves us.

    One of the neglected aspects of evangelical theology, in my view, is hamartiology, or the study of evil. What is "evil" and how is it defined? The word "sin", unfortunately, being very much a religious word often obscures the issue. Some Christians simply define "evil" as those attitudes and actions which are perceived to be contrary to a set of laws handed down by fiat of authority.

    So "homosexuality" is sin, because God says it is. And for some Christians that is "end of discussion" (I am not charging you with that, by the way, or anyone else on this forum!).

    But what I am interested in is what "evil" actually is as a concept in itself. After stripping away all those actions which we believe are the manifestation of evil, what is "evil" in itself? Now some would say, in vague terms, that it is simply "rebellion against God", but that only takes us back to the same position we started at.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the Bible speaks of "evil" as a spiritual reality - and by that I am not talking about demons and devils (that's a discussion for another time!). In Jesus' ministry it is clear that when he rebuked the Pharisees he was coming up against "evil", and yet the Pharisees and scribes were "righteous" according to the law! So here "evil" at a deep level could not be defined in terms of "law". Jesus was putting his finger on something far deeper and more fundamental - a deep-seated pride, which can flourish within obedience to the outward law of God.

    This is why I believe that the judgment of God will be based on the reality of people's hearts - what people really are at the deepest level - and not based simply on some cheap mechanical idea that "someone didn't say the sinner's prayer in time before they died" or "happened to have unconfessed sin in their life" or "happened to be of the wrong religion or baptism, quite irrespective of any mitigating circumstances" or "died before a priest could administer the last rites" etc. All that is the stuff of outward religion and is frankly superstition, in my view. It is not to do with reality.

    It is perfectly possible, when we have this deeper view of evil and righteousness that someone who has done all the right things "christianly" and has been squeaky clean according to the outward moral law of God may prove to be a devil on the final day. And the converse is also true (as Jesus implied in Matthew 21:28-32).

    You can call my Christianity into question as much as you like, but this is what I believe, and I cannot see that it is contrary to the Bible, and more specifically the teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ. And if you imagine that I am trying to undermine the moral law, then you have not understood.


  • Comment number 83.

    Okay, here's one example - I'll try again - to show why snatching at texts, whether they be attributed to Jesus, Paul or anyone else, and errecting them into the sole criterion for good and evil, cannot be done with any credibility, without a deeper understanding of scripture. Lets take the old tattie of DIVORCE which has caused misery to thousands of good, church people (and others) for decades. Divorcees have been discriminated against by churches for ages on the basis of scripture texts such as where the Pharisees try and corner Jesus and ask him what would HE do with people caught committing adultery. (They would stone the offender to death, especially if the offender happens to be female!!)
    Jesus says that anyone who divorces his wife and takes on another is guilty of adultery. In one sentence the church can justify its outrageous treatment of divorcees through the ages. But look closer. He is addressing a group of Pharisees who, while perfectly willing to brutally murder a woman caught committing adultery, themselves can perfectly legally write up a writ of dismissal to get rid of one wife in the morning, and take on another by tea time!!
    Jesus was not giving an across the board statement to all people of all time that divorce was wrong he was actually exposing the Pharisees for their utter hypocrasy. He was telling them - and them alone - that just because they had a little piece of paper which allowed them to dismiss their wife, it didnt make it lawful in God's eyes. He was saying that THEY were as guilty as the ones they were condemning and that they didnt need to think that a little piece of paper let them off the hook. He called them "unteachable" which, after reading some of the above, makes me think that our present day Pharisees havent really learned anything. They're still condeming, (although they've got loads of pals who are homosexual and are really nice people. Gee thanks!!)
    A woman extricates herself and her children from an abusive husband, meets a man who loves her and her children and who wants to commit himself to her and be a loving father to her children and the church says that Jesus says it is not allowed. Utter nonsense.
    If Jesus reacted with such anger - brood of vipers etc.. to the Pharisees for their heartlessness and hypocritical attitude, can we not assume that he will be just as angry with those present day heartless church leaders who "load burdens on people's shoulders and will not lift a finger to ease those burdens."?
    These are crimes committed against divorced people, homosexuals, women in general, etc...
    Please stop throwing scripture texts at us unless you have at least some knowledge of scripture study, OT.
    Alas for you, Chorazin, Alas for you Bethsiada - OT do you know what these places were? Do you know why Jesus was criticising them? Go and find out and then you might understand what it is that Jesus is ACTUALLY saying.When he said that their fate would be worse than Sodom, he wasnt criticising Sodom as such, he was criticising their perception of Sodom and their notion that they were somehow morally superior. He was telling them that their guilt was much worse than Sodom!!
    I'm not claiming that divorce and homosexuality are moral values but
    eternal damanation? Give me a break.
    Put plainly, for umpteenth time, Jesus is not harsh on those who are guilty of sexual weakness, misdemeanors etc.. He is however consistently scathing towards those who judge perceived sinners harshly and especially those who use God to do it.

  • Comment number 84.


    LSV

    thanks for your substantial post.

    Please understand I am not trying to pigeon hole you to dismiss you, I AM trying to understand your position. It is confusing at least three posters on the blog!

    I guess we part company on original sin because I agree with Paul that by one man, Adam, all have a sin nature.

    I actually fully agree with you that we will be judged by the content of our hearts rather than by religious observance/tick boxes.


    Rome Jelly Bean

    if you are going to accuse me of not having a clue of bible study that is a simple cheap ad hominem.

    If you can walk the walk then refute the studies on the thread above please.


    The same goes for John Wright, how laughable. He has never even once attempted a theological justification of homosexuality that I am aware of.

    The first time we discussed it, you brought it up John, JW referred me to a completely inconsistent website full of nonsense. When I pointed this out to him he got rather heated and dismissed me.

    So John, walk the walk and dismiss my arguments, not me please.

    ;-)

    OT

  • Comment number 85.


    Rome Jelly bean

    I am fully aware that Christ was primarily castigating the Chorazin and Bethsaida when he spoke of Sodom.

    That was not my point.

    I was making the point that Christ affirmed the reality of the destruction of Sodom, a judgement which he carried out personally.

    Also RJB you are entirely right that Christ was hardest on religious leaders placing heavy loads on ordinary people.

    But he also taught plainly about the dangers of sexual sin in Matthew;-

    27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'[e] 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
    Divorce

    31"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'[f] 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

    OT

  • Comment number 86.

    BTW LSV

    I think you mistook my point about church growth and literal readings of the bible.

    My real point was not that broadly literal readings automatically equal growth, but rather that broadly non-literal readings certainly mitigate against growth, as it appears to me at this point.

    OT

  • Comment number 87.

    Hello pastor Orthodox-tradition,

    I see you're dissing John Wright over a source of info he had put up earlier. But you haven't come up with what you claimed earlier. You mentioned basing your views in part on solid research, reported in peer-reviewed journals. When are you going to list the paper references for that research, pastor?

    As I am sure Monica would agree with me, talk is cheap.

    kind regards,
    Peter

  • Comment number 88.

    I have to say that is very hypocritical of OT to go on about peer-reviewed papers when on many occasions he/she dissed the whole peer-review process. However OT is a hypocrite.

    Odd that OT should quote the Bible at others but conveniently forget the parts dealing with not telling lies/bearing false witness and Christ's important teaching on the dangers of Holy Joe hypocrites.

    Odd that OT raises points like "QM undermining evolution", "few labs do radiometric dating" etc etc then runs away when asked to back these stunning statements in a pique of prevarication and bluster, then gets up himself when people seemingly don't answer his questions-what a hypocrite!(then OT says we are indulging in "ad hominens" etc).

    And Peter Klaver I wish you would refrain from these scurrilous allegations about OT and a certain Pastor BOTH have denied being the same person-if they were then that would make them hypocrites of the highest order, especially so when OT throws Bible quotes about so freely and throws the first stone at others. The Pastor you link to seems a thoroughly decent chap unlike OT.

    Regards

    DD

  • Comment number 89.


    FYI, the discussion we've been referring to took place in the infancy of this blog when Crawley had been doing it for only a few weeks and this topic came up, back before OT was PB, back when he was using his full name (as I do to this day). I can't remember what website I referred him to, but the discussion was long and frustrating (like this one, LSV - so little changes!) and my arguments didn't rely on any website at all.

    It seems, OT, that you want to start with the assumption that homosexuality is sinful and want everybody else to rally around and try to disprove that. That's called being presumptuous. The burden of proof is upon you to argue that it is sinful, and to say why you think it is. That's why I'm asking you to make a few simple statements starting with, "I believe" which set out your position clearly so that people know what you believe.

    I'm asking because I'm considering adding another statement to my own list: I believe OT is taking advantage of long, rambling posts and ambiguous language to ensure that his position is not so clear that it would be easy to challenge, a tactic which also makes it easier for him to deny having held a position he previously espoused when discussing it later.

    :-)

  • Comment number 90.


    BTW OT, I'll wait one more exchange for you to set out your position as clearly as I set out mine, before I'm forced to go ahead and write your position out for you, based upon what you say you've already said above. I'll trawl through the mire of bluster in this thread, quote you, and put together your mission statement for you. But I think it would be easier for you to write one yourself!

  • Comment number 91.

    OT

    "referred me to a completely inconsistent website full of nonsense."

    I know how you feel OT, we all feel the same with *your* constant reference to AIG, Snelling, etc websites full of the wholly dishonest practice known as quote-mining- in short sites full of incoherent, horse-manure, dishonest drivel.

    When this was pointed out to you, you became "heated" and ran away, then repeated the same tripe and when challenged ran away ad nauseum.

    What a hypocrite you are OT.

  • Comment number 92.


    John dont be "a plank" as we say with affection in NI.

    ;-)

    We all know my position is the traditional Christian viewpoint that all sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage is a misuse of the God-given-gift. That includes heterosexual mental adultery, lest anyone accuse me of letting "straights" like myself off the hook;-

    27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'[e] 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.


    I dont have to start with the "assumption" that homosexuality is sinful because I can list Jeremey Marks, Portwyne and John Stott for starters who all agree this is the traditional Christian position. There is no assumption it is a fact of history that this has always been the position of mainstream judeo Christian thought.

    Disagree? take it up with Jeremy Marks.

    My main argument is that Jeremy's new position is a radical departure from traditional Christianity.

    So while he has every right to follow that view, its has no precedent in Christian history.

    Now, John, lets see you actually MAKE a theologically argument, I have done more than my share, but I repeat, I have never seen you make a *theological* argument on this matter.

    (You do a good turn at tongue in cheek ad hominems though!)

    Really if your argument is to hold any water it should be a attempt to refute arguments put forward in posts 47 to 54, I suggest.

    later..!

    OT

    PS John, I made it quite clear to you that I was switching to OT as a username so dont pretend it was some big secret.




  • Comment number 93.

    Hello OT,

    I feel very coldly ignored. :( You were never so cold to me in the past when we were on so much closer terms. You remember the good old days, don't you?

    I note you have not addressed the issue of peer-reviewed scientific literature to back up your views. Instead, you complain about Johns non-existent ad hominems. Come on, let's have those journal paper references.

    greets,
    Peter

  • Comment number 94.


    OT-

    I agree that the traditional Christian position is that homosexuality is sinful. But because something is traditional does not mean that it is right. Both a traditional position and a nontraditional position need defended theologically, and both are equals in debate. Surely you aren't suggesting that because your position is traditional, it should be treated any differently than my position which isn't?

    (BTW I wasn't trying to suggest you made a secret of using OT as your screen name. But I confess to being interested in this whole pastor/ID thing - not that it makes a difference to what you happen to be saying about homosexuality.)

  • Comment number 95.

    I feel somehow justified by what I said in m88

    "then OT says we are indulging in "ad hominens" etc"

    And verily, so it came to pass that OT did indeed do this in m92! praise be!

    "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." Proverbs 26.11 KJV

    Peter, OT is giving us the cold shoulder because he does not like to be called to account for his many past indiscretions on this board.

    "be sure your sin will find you out."

    DD

  • Comment number 96.



    John

    I fully agree that because something is traditional it does not make it right.

    But it does give it custom and practise, precedent, credibility.

    Sin is by definition a judeo Christian term, they originate, own it and define it, just like the term marriage for example.

    Others can hi jack the terms, they are just words I suppose in one way.

    But in another they cannot claim the origin, nature and definition of them.

    In short, the onus is most certainly on you to prove your position.

    I have spent some time setting out my position above, so I think it only fair you should have a go.

    I restate my case that I dont think I have EVER seen you make a biblical argument for homosexuality John.

    As for my indentity, why not challenge "a modest proposal" or "Portwyne" or LSV to give all their personal information online?

    Surely a libertarian like you is not picking on me due to (GASP!) religious discrimination???

    ;-)

    Do you think it will help or hinder free discussion if everyone was obliged to disclose everything about their personal ID online?


    Finally, as a broadcaster, I thought you might have been a bit more cautious in jumping to the conclusions you have done, based on the evidence you have!

    good to chat, take care.

    OT

  • Comment number 97.

    Hello OT,

    "I fully agree that because something is traditional it does not make it right. But it does give it custom and practise, precedent, credibility."

    Custom, yes. Practice, yes. Precedent, yes. Credibility, not necessarily. I put the same criticism as Johns to you in post 18. Do you think that just because christians put Jerusalem in the middle of maps for ages that it is good to do so? Is it wrong to have the equator in the middle of a world map because christians have put Jerusalem at the centre for ages? Just because it was done for such a long time, does that give it any credibility?

    Seems more to me to be the stubborn persistence of a fundie mind not to ditch such a long-held idea in the face of better information becoming available. A good demonstration of what is wrong with the fundie mindset like the one you have.

  • Comment number 98.


    Come on Peter you sly old dog!

    ;-)


    It is you that is proposing a complete radical overhaul of the foundations of society - the onus is on you to sell your idea to the rest of us.


    Dood questions for John Wright and Peter Klaver;-


    1) What level of promiscuity would you allow your own children before they become adults?

    2) What leverl of promiscuity would you allow your wife?

    3) What level of promiscuity would you allow yourself?


    Please define the boundaries;-

    - what age can your children start sex?
    - can your wife have sex with people other than you?
    - what age can their partners be?
    - what sex can their partners be?
    - what species can their partners be?
    - how closely related can they be?
    - may they have sex with innanimate objects?


    Now, do you propose that those should be values just for your household or for society? why should your household be different to society?
    why have any rules at all in these matters? where do you get your rules from, which authority? why trust this authority?


    We shall see just how robust your athiesm or liberalism is.... or how many values from judeo christian thought you secretly adhere to.


    OT

  • Comment number 99.


    ps I should also have asked you both to answer yourself what limits you set on your own sexual behaviour both before and during marriage and justify same....

  • Comment number 100.

    Peter

    I see OT it up to his usual obtuse fundie tricks ie., shifting the burden of proof and asking questions of others on points they have not raised! I do not remember you ever saying anything Peter about "proposing a complete radical overhaul of the foundations of society"-then again OT as we know is dishonest and a hypocrite-unlike the lovely Pastor that you link to occasionally.

    OT would like us to forget the many lies he/she told in defence of creation "science", however since he/she is such a fundamentalist, dishonest hypocrite I think we should continually remind him/her of their many dishonesties.

    I would hazard a guess Peter that this is another pathetic attempt from OT to deflect attention from your gentle asking of OT to produce peer-reviewed evidence that he so proudly boasted of(then again it is hypocritical of OT to claim peer-reviewed evidence when he casually dissed the whole process).

    I would not hold out much hope for you getting this info Peter as we are still waiting on OT/PB to back up claims that he made over two years ago!

    DD

 

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