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Important Information - Read before Posting (11/06/2005)

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Vice Captain

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 12:04 am
Because we feel that the guild is suffering due to a lack of free discussion on various subjects, we have decided to create a debate sub-forum that will allow us to balance the guild's need to maintain a respectful, positive atmosphere with its need for a lively intellectual life.

To that end, we have repealed the rules about debate and negativity (with certain caveats) within the confines of said sub-forum.
We hope you enjoy the new addition to the guild.  
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 12:06 am

We should cover a few things first:
1) I am Christian. No matter what you think of my views below, I am a firm believer in the salvation of Christ and have been for almost all of my life.
2) I believe in the original inerrancy of Holy Scripture. In other words, God divinely inspired the apostles and prophets in the writing of the Bible, His chosen words written through their hand. I don't feel, however, that this also means that X translation is divinely inspired. What was promised was the original Word of God. We have since kept it as well as possible, though imperfections do occur.
3) I can, though with some difficulty, read Greek and Hebrew. Much of my commentary will use words from the original language, so be prepared for this.

Now, let me summarize this argument, because the argument itself will take pages of material even at its most basic. I will post the details of the argument in future postings if necessary, assuming that I am permitted to continue to do so.

A) The Ceremonial Law of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy no longer applies. Because of what is written in the book of Galatians and Paul's writings in the second chapter of Colossians, we have clear declarations that the ceremonial law is now in the field of Christian liberty. Paul uses a variety of examples to declare this and lists several portions of the law, following with the declaration that all of it was nailed to the Cross and has been removed. This belief is backed up further by the book of Romans and the speeches at the council of Jerusalem in Acts (Chapter 15), along with selected sayings by Christ concerning ceremonial practice. If we decide to pick and choose portions of the ceremonial law to continue in observance as God's will without clear relation of those parts to the commandments of God referenced in Romans, James and Revelations, then we place ourselves in danger of the ban of Galatians 1:8.

If this is the case, and most of you will find that your pastors will agree with this, unless you are members of the Seventh-day Adventist or similar denominations, then we have a big problem in the debate of homosexual sex as a sin. The problem is simple: The two clearest declarations of homosexual sex as a sin in the Bible are found in chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus. If the ceremonial law no longer applies, then neither do these.

B) Sodom and Gomorrah do not pertain to homosexual sex, and the same can be said of the related story in Judges. The sins of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are clearly huge. Have you ever seen a city in your lives where the whole male population tried to batter down doors so that they could gang rape guests to the city? I apologize for being so blunt and almost crude, but the point is not a pleasant one, and neither is the story. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were sinful beyond our understanding. These were foul places where such extreme forms of rape were accepted and where the closest thing to a righteous man offers up his daughters to their lusts. Further, the issue also comes up that this is a story more about the complete lack of hospitality and the brutality of the citizens. It is reading too far into the text to say that this passage says anything about homosexual sex. It is speaking of extreme cases that do not apply to homosexual sex.

(Note: Ezekiel 16 is the passage which refers to the sins of Sodom/Gomorrah)

C) The argument of creation (God created them Adam and Eve, so they are meant to be complimentary) suffers from a massive weakness. In chapter three of Genesis, we are told why a man leaves his father and mother to become one flesh with the woman that he loves. We are told similar things in chapter five of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. However, neither passage declares that this must be the only thing. Paul also speaks elsewhere of the joys of celibacy. This indicates that marriage is not required. Without proof that homosexual sex is considered a sin, there is no reason to automatically assume that "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" is actually said in Scripture. The passages only say why heterosexual marriages occur, not that they must be the only ones.

In fact, an important point must be made. Scripture speaks clearly about the need to save sex for marriage. If the Bible has not declared homosexual sex or marriage as sinful, then we have done a vast disservice in refusing homosexual couples the right to marriage. We are, in effect, trying to force them into sinful relationships out-of-wedlock.

D) There are three passages that may speak on homosexual sex in the New Testament. Two are lists of sins, found in chapter six of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians and chapter one of his first letter to Timothy. The third, and most important, passage is found in the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans.

1) The two lists are poorly translated in the cases of homosexuality. Three words are found in these passages that are used to relate to homosexual sex: Pornia, Arsenokoitas and Malakoi. Pornia means pervert. That's all it really means. It refers to sexual perversion, but makes no statement as to what that perversion is. It is far too general to relate to homosexual sex. Malakoi refers to softness or effeminacy, with implications of perversion. The term is used to refer to a man who is too passionate and emotional, and who acts upon these. It relates to the Grecian concepts of gender identity. The man was not to be emotional in this fashion. If one stretches the meaning of the word, examples are found where Malakoi may refer to the 'bottom' partner of pederasty. This is a relationship wherein a teenage boy traded sexual favors with an older man in return for guidance and training. It was common within Greek society and accepted in Roman society. Arsenokoitas is a compound word derived from the Greek words for man and bed. While this sounds like a clear reference to homosexuality to our modern ears, there is a problem. The word does not appear at any point prior to Paul's letters. To our knowledge, he created the term himself. Its usage in all other cases I am aware of either represents something akin to an aggressive sexual predator or, more commonly, the 'top' partner in pederasty. At most these verses could possibly have listed pederasty as a crime, but not homosexual sex alone. You cannot read into the text the fact that, because something condemned includes another thing, that other thing is automatically condemned as well. For example, a person who breaks the commandment about not bearing false testimony against one's neighbor must communicate to do so. Communication is not condemned, is it? The condemnation of pederasty cannot be clearly related, even in consideration of Jewish morals that Paul is familiar with, to a condemnation of homosexual sex. Look at http://www.clgs.org/5/5_4_3.html for further details on the specifics of Arsenokoites and Malakoi.

2) Romans 1:18-32 is the key to the argument. However, there are a series of problems with the classic interpretation of the passage.

One, we rarely take verses 26-27 in context with the rest of the passage. The lusts spoken of are the result of godlessness and the refusal of the gospel of God. The godless ones are described as being given over to their passions. This loss of control is key and important to the Greeks and Romans Paul is writing to, and was considered a very bad thing. It is important to realize that the passage is not centered on homosexual relations, no matter how you interpret it.

Two, the relationships are referred to as being unnatural. The term pushin is the Greek word for natural and refers, in general, to that which is according either to socially accepted morals or to one's innate nature. The society Paul is writing to, both Roman and Greek, considered homosexual relationships to be quite natural. What would have been considered unnatural to the Romans would specifically have been something where a citizen was 'on bottom.' Such a position degrades the citizen's status and was considered to be a horrible thing.

Three, the shameful lusts that are spoken of are not specifically described. Unlike Leviticus, where they are listed, the passage assumes that its audience knows what is being spoken of. While Paul is a born and trained Jew, familiar with the ceremonial law, he is preaching to newly converted Christians in Rome and Greece. These people, though somewhat familiar with Jewish beliefs, could not have been considered familiar enough to assume that "shameful lusts" meant what is said in Leviticus. Paul is not a man to leave explanations unclear. When necessary, he goes into great detail and repetition to make his point absolutely clear and understood. Therefore, by context it seems he is speaking to the Roman's understanding of shameful, the subjugation of a citizen for example. Further, pathos (lusts) does not necessitate a sexual connotation.

Four, the fact that we have women doing things with women instead of men and that we have men doing things with men instead of women is clear from what Paul says in verses 26-27. However, Paul does not at any point say what is being done. He lacks the clarity of Leviticus. Any number of things could be occurring, and without a clear indication that the text is specifically speaking of homosexual sex acts on any level we are familiar with today we cannot claim that Romans 1 clearly declares that the ceremonial law still applies in this case.

My arguments are quite basic. This is only an overview of them. I have far more detailed descriptions of the issues involved and will happily offer them. This argument is also not new. You can find websites offering similar interpretations themselves. I came to these conclusions, however, through prayer and consideration with friends, not a website. These positions, also, are hardly universally accepted. There is strong evidence in both directions with regards Romans 1. Some churches still make the claim that parts of the ceremonial law remain intact. There are strong arguments both for and against this.

My single greatest point is this: Can you honestly declare something a sin when you cannot clearly show without serious contention that the Bible declares it to be a sin? When we look at the Ten Commandments, we know basically what they say and don't argue over them. Christ further explains them during his life, giving us more information about what they mean. We know these things to be sins, and there is little debate. Homosexual sex is found in the ceremonial laws and what few verses speak of it outside of that set of laws are hotly contested. How can we clearly state, based upon these facts, that homosexuality is indeed a sin?

No. I don't think it's wrong, and I'll be happy to stand on Scripture to that effect.

Vice Captain

Vice Captain

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 12:09 am

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 12:15 am


Vice Captain

Vice Captain

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 12:19 am

  • Evolution vs. Creationism:
    We see the same arguments over and over in this particular debate. Most of them have been addressed in the Talk Origins FAQ. Please refer to the FAQ before starting any threads on the topic. If your particular question or argument is not addressed there, then feel free to start a thread on the subject.

  • Homosexuality and Christianity:
    Again, we see the same arguments over and over again. Most (if not all) of these have been addressed in The Thesis by Ananel. Please read over The Thesis carefully before starting any thread on the subject. If your particular argument or question is not addressed by The Thesis, then starting a thread would not be out of order.

  • Catholics (and Mormons, Adventists and other sects):
    Do not start any threads arguing for or against the correctness in interpretation and belief of one sect over another. Such threads will be locked and the OP will be warned. Subsequent violations will resulting in the violator being banned from the guild.
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