Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Debate with a Catholic anti-gay bigot

I have been debating with some real Christianist bigots for quite a while now on a blog forum for a newspaper. A gay man had sent a letter to the editor about life in the Ozarks and living with anti-gay prejudice. Naturally this sent the bigoted bloggers into a tissy. In the ensuing discussions I made a direct request to a Christian Fundie in a newspaper blog forum: "Are the passages that Pioneer provided the only ones in the NT which you claim explicitly condemn homosexuality? Are there others? Where are they? Book, chapter, verses please....?"
Which I then followed with another post which included a cartoon that fit him all too well. To which the user 'Pioneer' proceeded to ultimately prove that this cartoon truly is an accurate depiction of him beyond a doubt!

{Begin quote, Pioneer--}
"You wrote that for Chris, but I am supplying more information for you. It is Catholic theology, so you can more readily disbelieve it, since you are such an anti-Catholic bigot (puhleeze spare me the "some of my best friends are Catholic, but you......" sort of BS which you usually give out with). Here it is:


Homosexuality and the New Testament
Romano Penna
Professor of New Testament studies
Pontifical Lateran University, Rome


The writings of the New Testament do not deal explicitly with the subject of homosexuality. There are references to it, but these are quite rare, all being limited to the Pauline Epistles. The most logical explanation for this fact lies not in a permissive attitude towards the matter, but in the fact that homosexuality had already been condemned by Jewish tradition, to which all the early Christian writers are basically indebted, and that similarly in the Greek world it was censured by the predominant Stoic philosophy as contrary to nature. Thus, in the context of the first century, Philo of Alexandria, who is the leading exponent of Hellenistic Judaism, in his treatises repeatedly criticizes sodomy and pederasty as "illicit relations" (On Abraham 135) and those that practice them as "enemies of nature" (Special Laws 3:36); in the same way the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus defines homosexuality as "against nature" (Diatribe 12), while the Roman historian Tacitus speaks openly of the "degeneration of youth" with reference to its practice during the time of Nero (Annals 14, 20, 4). The New Testament therefore did not have any particular battle to fight on this front, needing only to align itself with the positions current in the cultural world of the first century. What was new, if anything, as invariably happens in an ethical discussion, were the reasons given for urging its avoidance.


Jesus never speaks of homosexuality. A bare mention can perhaps be seen when, in referring to John the Baptist, he says to the crowd: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? ... a man clothed in soft raiment? ... those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses" (Mt 11:7, 8; Lk 7:25). The Greek word malakos, translated as "soft, tender", could also mean "effeminate". But in this case the allusion could only be very indirect, since the word is used about clothing and not people. The only real pronouncement Jesus made on human sexuality concerns the union of male and female as the expression of the order created by God (with an explicit quotation from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24) in a discussion on marriage: "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female ... and the two shall become one?" (Mt 19:4-5; Mk 10:6-7).


But, as we were saying, it is in Paul's Letters that-there are explicit references to homosexuality. There are three cases, and they are always treated with disapproval.


In the First Letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle, among other things, gives a list of vices to be avoided: "Do not be deceived: neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God" (6:9-10). In a perspective that is only slightly different but quite similar we read in the First Letter to Timothy: "...understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Tm 1: 9-10). The Greek word in question, arsenokoitai, which the RSV translates differently each time (respectively "homosexuals" and "sodomites"), is in fact a neologism that literally means "males who sleep together". It derives from the phraseology of the biblical Greek of the Septuagint where the Levitical text 20:13 is translated: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them". The linguistic and thematic reference to this passage, where no exceptions are allowed, makes it impossible to interpret the Pauline statement in the restricted sense of only male prostitution, or more specifically, of pederasty, as some would like. On the other hand, it should be noted that the extreme severity of the punishment envisaged by the Levitical legislation is not repeated by Paul, who has the greatest respect for life. He however reacts to homosexuality by pointing out its eschatological exclusion from the kingdom of God, precisely because the practice does not conform to the divine law, just like all the other infractions that he lists by way of example. A certain relativity of the Pauline assertion can be deduced from the fact that the Apostle's main intention in these passages is certainly not to impart a specific teaching on homosexuality, which would in any case be very indirect; it is however unquestionably listed in a catalogue of actions judged reprehensible. Nevertheless, it should be noted that, like the biblical passage previously quoted, he only considers male, not female, homosexuality. But, indeed, here he expresses himself in the manner of biblical tradition, as can be seen from the explicit reference to the law in the Letter to Timothy. In other places the casuistry is more complete.


In fact, in the Letter to the Romans, with regard to the moral perversion of the pagans Paul writes: "God gave them up to dishonourable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error" (Rom 1:26-27). This is one of the very rare texts in ancient times in which male homosexuality and female homosexuality are condemned together as practices against nature: two other cases can be found in Plato (Laws I, 636c) and in a Jewish-Hellenistic poetic composition of the first century attributed to a Pseudo-Phocilides (Sentences 191-192). But the Pauline passage has a certain originality, because of its context. The Apostle is in fact discussing the moral disorder resulting from the lack of knowledge of God in the pagan world, so that homosexuality together with a series of other vices (cf. Rom 1:29: "all manner of wickedness") is seen as the consequence of man's fatal "exchange" of the Creator with his creatures.


Some authors have tried to minimize the radical importance of this condemnation, claiming that Paul is thinking either of a depravation connected with idolatry, or of homosexuality that is contrary to the proper nature of heterosexuals, or again thinking that the expression "unnatural" is equivalent to "against the common patterns of social convention" or, lastly, that is not a true sin but merely one of the less pleasant aspects of pagan society. Interpretations of this kind are basically artificial, because they lose sight of the fact that the Apostle bases his argument on a view that is not cultural but rooted in creation; in fact the theme of the whole section of Romans 1:18-32 consists in the succession and mutual integration of three closely connected arguments: (1) the real possibility of a natural knowledge of God by all men (2) in fact clashes with the human perversion of idolatry that tragically reverses the roles of creature and Creator, and (3) therefore God consigns and almost abandons men to every sort of wickedness which inevitably follows. It may be interesting to observe that the penalty foreseen by Paul in these cases, in our text of the Letter to the Romans, is not the Jewish-eschatological type (as in the previous passage from the First Letter to the Corinthians), but the Stoic-immanent type. He in fact adopts here the classic ethical principle of Stoic philosophy that, if virtue rewards itself, vice is likewise its own punishment. Well, we can say that homosexuality is thus considered from the standpoint of self-corruption, so that it is at the same time the sign and consequence of a subversion of God's created order. However we should not exaggerate Paul's stand in the matter. In fact it is important to realize that the real criticism he develops in this context does not directly concern homosexuality, but rather idolatry as a religious aberration: it is this that he sees as the pagans' real problem, and homosexuality is only one indication together with many others.


At the source of all these biblical and non-biblical passages, we must remember that in antiquity the discussion of homosexuality always considers the phenomenon either as a moral choice, and thus its practice is condemned, or as a conventional choice, and as such can be accepted, as happens in some cases (especially in classic Hellenism because of its presumed pedagogical values, as H. I. Marrou, for example shows in his Storia dell'educazione nell'antichita, Ed. Studium, Rome 1978, pp. 53-64). Absent however were the hereditary, physiological and psychological connotations that today are appropriately used for better judging the phenomenon.


Apart from this observation, there remains the fact, as Professor D. F. Wright of Edinburgh University, who has dedicated some specific publications to the matter, notes, that whatever may be said about individual tendencies and attitudes, Paul could only have considered all erotic homosexual behaviour as contrary to the Creator's plan for human life, and so to be abandoned at the moment of conversion (cf. "Homosexuality", in Dictionary on Paul and His Letters, edited by G.F. Hawthorne and R. P. Martin, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove-Leicester 1993, p. 414). It is certain that nobody could honestly refer to the texts of the New Testament to justify a sexual practice which is constantly considered as deviating from God's created order.


But finally it should be stated clearly that St. Paul, when he speaks of it more fully, as occurs in the passage from the Letter to the Romans, subordinates this matter to the more general and decisive theme of man's universal sinfulness and of the merciful answer that God gives it in the Gospel. In fact, on the one hand the objective and, in a certain sense, inevitable situation of sin, in which all humanity outside Christ finds itself, leads to attitudes of wisdom and magnanimity that shrink from moralistic fanaticism. On the other, the revelation of God's saving justice in the Cross of Christ offers every sinner not only the hope but the certainty of a redemption that affects the whole person of the believer. Professor M. L. Soards of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of Louisville rightly notes in a very recent publication that we should never pronounce disagreement or disapproval regarding homosexuality, without giving voice to and expressing God's word of grace in Jesus Christ which is even stronger (cf. Scripture and Homosexuality: Biblical Authority and the Church Today, Westminster, John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1995, p. 75).


Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano;-Weekly Edition in English;-2 April 1997, p.6"

{--- end quote}


To which, I responded at length:
Rebuttal: Catholic article on homosexuality (3 posts)
"I’ve read the article provided by Pioneer, our resident 'expert' on Catholic affairs, and now I'll address it ---:

First, I found it interesting that Romano Penna, Professor of New Testament studies, Pontifical Lateran University, Rome writes "that the New Testament do not deal explicitly with the subject of homosexuality. There are references to it, but these are quite rare, all being limited to the Pauline Epistles." That's an important statement, as to hear some talk you'd think homosexuality was demonized through the entire bible in numerous places. Given his statement, it would seem that reliance on passages outside of the "Pauline Epistles" for evidence against homosexuality are not actually valid. Yet, in spite of this there are several instances in which the professor does in fact attempt to do so.

In his first few paragraphs there are mentions of Philo of Alexandria, Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus, and Tacitus. To which I’m left to wonder, Why is the professor already relying on secular or non-Christian writings? And I must say I find it very interesting that for someone {Pioneer} who was disparaging Greek philosophers a while back in a discussion with me, he has provided here an argument, from a Catholic perspective no less, which cites Greek philosophers as "evidence" that homosexuality is or was believed to be "illicit" and "against nature”.

Of course this also gives the false impression that same-sex relations were widely forbidden in Greek culture, which is definitely not so. [this is also confirmed by the author, “we must remember that in antiquity the discussion of homosexuality always considers the phenomenon either as a moral choice, and thus its practice is condemned, or as a conventional choice, and as such can be accepted, as happens in some cases”]


I also find it telling that while the condemning language is used in the first series of quotes, the author did not provide context. We don't see whole paragraphs or understand the full passages so we are left to take the man at his word that his interpretation of these writings are not biased at all.

Speaking of context, there is much to be said about the context of what references to "sexual immorality", "sodomy", or "homosexuality" are actually referring to. There has been much debate associated with this, which will be covered more later.
The author lists his examples of Paul's "explicit" references to homosexuality as follows:
#1. "Do not be deceived: neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9-10).

These labels are of course very broad to define, but I find it noteworthy that among the many differing translations of the bible, the "explicit" mention of homosexuality becomes something much more vague. Thus, there are many translations which use different words or phrases:
NASB “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
KJV “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
NOAB “Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.”
WE “There are some people who will not have part in that place. They are those who commit adultery of any kind, those who have idols, or steal, or are always wanting more, or talk wrong things about people, or drink plenty of strong drink, or take things by force, or curse.”
So which is it? Are they “homosexuals”, those who “abuse themselves with mankind”, “sodomites”? The first implies all gay people, the second implies those who abuse themselves with men {or people}, the third implies the inhabitants of Sodom or those that engage in the “sin of Sodom”, whatever that entails.
#2. "...understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Tm 1: 9-10).

Yet again I'm struck by how vague all of these terms are, "lawless, "disobedient", "the ungodly", "sinners", "the unholy and profane", "immoral persons"... A great many things and a great many people easily fall into any one of those categories and for a very wide variety of reason. In fact, according to Christians we're all "sinners." But it does manage to get a little less ambiguous about who the law is "laid down for" when it mentions "kidnappers" {people who abduct others}, "manslayers" {people who murder}, "liars & perjurers" {people who lie}, and of course "sodomites". But what is a sodomite? To some it is a homosexual. Of course it is also an inhabitant of one of the cities which the biblical god destroyed, Sodom, for the "wickedness" of it's inhabitants.

If it does mean someone who has homosexual relations, then why? Some argue that the "sin of Sodom" was either exclusively or chiefly homosexuality. They base this belief on Genesis 19:4-8
"Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them." But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. "Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof."

As I've stated before, while there is some debate as to what was meant by the "relations" the men {young and old} wanted to have with the angels -- to verbally accost them, interrogate them, humiliate them, beat or kill them, rape them -- it is clear nonetheless that this was a mob who sought to bring harm to the angels. What does all that have to do with homosexual relations? Apparently some see violent rape as synonymous with homosexual relations, this is of course false argumentation, a logical fallacy. The two do not actually correlate; one does not have anything to do with the other. Homosexuality does not equate violent rape, violent homosexual rape does not equate homosexuality. It makes no more sense to condemn homosexuals for this violent behavior than it would to condemn men for it.

One thing can be more definitively be said about this though, the Sodomites -- the inhabitants of Sodom -- other than Lot and his family, were condemned for this violent and egregious behavior. Of course it should also be noted that the "sin" committed here is likely not merely the sexual violence of it, but the inhospitality they were showing guests to their community. Hospitality is something that is taken very seriously in the middle-east still today and has biblical origins.

Deuteronomy 10:19 "Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Leviticus Chapter 19:34 "The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God."

One other question about the reasoning of the angry mob having anything directly to do with homosexuality is to ponder this: If those angels which visited Lot had been female in appearence, and angry men surrounded Lot's house to demand "relations" with them, would the "sin of Sodom" be heterosexual relations or sexual violence?

For more on the sins of Sodom, in Ezekiel 16:49-50 - "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen."

Odd that there is no mention of homosexuality, or even anything specific to sexual immorality. This doesn't prove that the 'sin of sodom' didn't include sexual immorality, afterall, it was pointed out that in Jude 1:5-7 "Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."

But none of this makes the case for the "sin of Sodom" being homosexuality. In fact, it makes it more clear that the 'sin of Sodom' was a number of things, which did include a threat of violence and/or rape.
#3 "God gave them up to dishonourable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error" (Rom 1:26-27).

Take note that Paul says, "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts." In other words, God punished them with "shameful lusts" because of something. Because of what? If we look closer at this chapter we can discern the context of what Paul is referring to:

~Romans 1:21 "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

And so we start to see what their chief transgression actually was, idolatry or the worshipping of God's creation rather than God himself. Reading on we find long list of other transgressions:

~Romans Chapter 1:28 "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."













Further along in the article the argument is made that the Greek word "arsenokoitai" was a neologism {a newly invented word or phrase} that literally means "males who sleep together". And how does he come to this conclusion? He claims that it can be derived from Leviticus 20:13 "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination". He doesn't explain, however, just how Paul's word "arsenokoitai" is defined by this passage. As this is a new word, {after all it is Greek and was apparently used by Paul}, it certainly isn't the word that would be found in Leviticus. And so, it's not clear just how the author was able to conclude so definitively that by using "arsenokoitai" Paul meant "males who sleep together".


Furthermore, while the text in Leviticus 20:13 seems to make it clear that homosexual relations are abomination {again, this was addressed to the Israelites}, it also made very clear that a manner of other types of behaviors were also abominations, and that certain laws must be followed. Yet, as many Christians claim, this old covenant was replaced with a new one, as interpreted by some of the apostles. Since there was no reference made by the author of Paul's statements, the terms in question appear to be the those found in Acts 15:29 where Paul says of "sexual immorality" and others, that “You will do well to avoid these things”.

Again, just what qualifies as "sexual immorality" is not made clear. Most agree prostitution, pagan sexual rites, bestiality, rape, adultery would make the list, but would sex outside of marriage? Divorce? Masturbation? Contraception? Interracial marriage? Homosexuality? Depends on who you ask. The bible seems unclear as in the OT a great many things were condemned, and later in the NT most of these "abominations" are no longer considered so and a condensed list offered, Acts 15:29 “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."

Still one is left to wonder what is meant by "sexual immorality". It could be a very long list indeed. It may be very short. We don't know, but how you answer seems to have a lot to do with your personal beliefs about various things. There are Christians who stand around on occasion downtown with large signs reading 'Divorce is adultery'. A lot of Christians would disagree with this statement, but since the bible isn't very clear about this, we don't really know. And so people assume, and whatever it is they assume, it is the "word of God".

For more on this, I found something of interesting from wikipedia:
"While this reference specifically mentions "sexual immorality" it is not clear whether or not it is condemning homosexuality as such. It is agreed by some interpreters on all sides of the debate that while the sins of Sodom may include sexual sins, the ambiguity means that it cannot be used to condemn homosexual relationships (Hilborn 2002, p.3; Compton 2003). Hilborn (ibid.) also argues that the men's actions are "a manifestation of much deeper-seated sins of idolatry, pride and rebellion". It has also been argued that, especially given the near parallel in Judges 19 (especially verse 22), that the wickedness of Sodom was homosexual rape (Issues in human sexuality, para 2.12). This same report (ibid.) also argues that the other references in both the Old and New Testament are general and that while Sodom became "a stock image for extreme sinfulness" it was not "a symbol for one particular sin". Other interpreters see the context of Genesis 19:4-8 as a clear indication that homosexuality is at least one specific sin responsible for the destruction of Sodom (Homosexuality: The Christian Perspective, Q. 3; White-Neill 2002; Bahnsen 1978)."
As was pointed out in the wikipedia section, we see yet another story all too similar to Lot's but slightly different. {apparently lynch mobs were a big problem back then}
Judges 19:22-24 "While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, "Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him.” 23Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly. 24Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man."
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges%2019:22-;&version=49;

There are two things I note about this story, {other than how it seems an obvious adaptation of the story of Lot in Sodom} is that again it is an angry mob, in this case seemingly demanding to have sex with the guest. And two, how protecting the guest is the old man’s paramount concern, he even offers up his daughter and concubine to be raped. The concubine is raped all through the night, then apparently she perishes and the next day the man cuts her into pieces. Again, what is the chief sin being committed here? It is homosexuality in general, or an angry mob demanding sex from this man’s guest?








Further into the article we see the good professor really grasping at straws here: "Jesus never speaks of homosexuality. A bare mention can perhaps be seen when, in referring to John the Baptist, he says to the crowd: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? ... a man clothed in soft raiment? ... those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses" (Mt 11:7, 8; Lk 7:25). The Greek word malakos, translated as "soft, tender", could also mean "effeminate"."

So since the "soft" or "tender" remark by Jesus ~could~ mean effeminate, and since we are to assume that "effeminate" is synonymous with homosexual, therefore it is possible perhaps that Jesus might have in some way insinuated something negative about homosexuality. Maybe… Even the professor goes on to say, "in this case the allusion could only be very indirect, since the word is used about clothing and not people." I'm not sure why such a thing is even worth a mention in a serious essay about homosexuality and the bible but... Apparently it was good enough for the professor.
~From the [Catholic] article: "This is one of the very rare texts in ancient times in which male homosexuality and female homosexuality are condemned together as practices against nature: two other cases can be found in Plato (Laws I, 636c) and in a Jewish-Hellenistic poetic composition of the first century attributed to a Pseudo-Phocilides (Sentences 191-192)."~

Again, what relevance does non-biblical writings have to do with biblical law? Again we see the professor relying on non-Christian, even secular texts to make a religious argument about Christianity. Tsk, tsk…
~[more] From the [Catholic] article: “But the Pauline passage has a certain originality, because of its context. The Apostle is in fact discussing the moral disorder resulting from the lack of knowledge of God in the pagan world, so that homosexuality together with a series of other vices (cf. Rom 1:29: "all manner of wickedness") is seen as the consequence of man's fatal "exchange" of the Creator with his creatures.”~

This is the man’s interpretation. What evidence has confirmed this? How can it be a fact that “discussing the moral disorder resulting from the lack of knowledge of God in the pagan world” also means that “homosexuality” is combined with “a series of other vices” by the phrase "all manner of wickedness"? If “all manner of wickedness” means all sins, then for this to also include homosexuality it must rely on other sources in which homosexuality has been established as a sin. Thus, this passages does not add anything to substantiate the claim that homosexuality IS a sin.

This portion did bring up a very good point, however, “The Apostle is in fact discussing the moral disorder resulting from the lack of knowledge of God in the pagan world”, as a frequent argument made about the motivations for the early Church against homosexuality would include condemning paganism, pagan ritual, and anything associated with it. Many of those would include various sexual acts, including homosexual relations which were a part of ritual and Graeco/Roman society.

The author himself offers some confirmation of this point: “However we should not exaggerate Paul's stand in the matter. In fact it is important to realize that the real criticism he develops in this context does not directly concern homosexuality, but rather idolatry as a religious aberration: it is this that he sees as the pagans' real problem, and homosexuality is only one indication together with many others.”

And so, homosexuality isn’t “the pagans’ real problem”, rather “idolatry as a religious aberration” is. Furthermore, homosexuality isn’t the cause of idolatry, it is a sign of it.

More from the article: “At the source of all these biblical and non-biblical passages, we must remember that in antiquity the discussion of homosexuality always considers the phenomenon either as a moral choice, and thus its practice is condemned, or as a conventional choice, and as such can be accepted, as happens in some cases…”~

A confirmation that homosexuality was seen in some ancient cultures as a “conventional choice, and as such can be accepted”. Just as I pointed out previously.

He goes on to say, “Absent however were the hereditary, physiological and psychological connotations that today are appropriately used for better judging the phenomenon.”

An excellent point. The growing consensus among the psychological community is that homosexuality is not a disease, not a dysfunction, and the attraction is not a conscious choice. When looking at homosexuality “today”, the “judgment” of the “phenomenon” of homosexuality and same-sex relations is increasingly positive, not negative. Much of the negative connotations about homosexuality are archaic, not modern. And so, the professor helped to argue that regardless what was believed about homosexuality in the past, we are better suited to gauge its causes & effects today.

One also has to keep in mind that homosexuality and homosexual relations did not exist in the context in ancient times that they do today. Whereas homosexuality had more to do with pagan ritual, bisexual customs, and “pedagogical values”, homosexual relations in more modern times include committed couples who engage in enduring relationships and co-habitation similar in seemingly all ways, with the exception of gender coupling of course.
From there the professor gives more of his opinions, no biblical sources which confirm them, and then breaks into philosophy. Again, what this has to do with biblical law and Christian doctrine remains to be seen…

I don't dispute that some people interpret the bible as has been portrayed in this article. Bob Jones university refused to admit blacks to the school until the early 1970’s, and then only married blacks until the mid 70’s. Until a few years back, the university would not allow mixed students to date, marry, or for students to even advocate interracial marriage. There was, of course, a biblical rationalization for this, “God intended segregation of the races and that the Scriptures forbid interracial marriage.” [Bob Jones v. United States]

While I know they believed very strongly in these things and that the bible makes this clear, nonetheless I think they were dead wrong, and so did most folks at the time. Needless to say they finally changed their policy. Now, I know the bible didn't rewrite itself, so it seems that their interpretation of it matured. I hope the Catholic church will do the same some day in regards to homosexuals just as it did with anti-Semitic notions, and the need for inquisitions and so forth.

I think I’ve addressed all the issues brought up and rather thoroughly. The readers here can take the information I’ve provided, as well as the arguments I’ve made and formulate their own opinions about it. I’m sure Pioneer will dismiss it all, of course, like he normally does. He’s certainly not going to accept any evidence or argument to the contrary of his thinking on this. That’s fine, but if he is going to dismiss it one would think he could at least give adequate arguments as to why instead of just a bunch of folksy one liners, psychobabble, and personal attacks. While he can cut & paste one article from a Catholic perspective, I put far more effort into articulating my points to explain or challenge it, and of course provided other sources as well. I have no reason to hide from this issue. And I certainly have no reason to evade the arguments made by others. The same cannot be said of some here.


In closing, I have a question for Pioneer, since he’s been in the mood for discussing this further, going on the assumption espoused in the article in question -- that the bible clearly condemns homosexuality -- how should this belief shape how we as a society deal with homosexuality, homosexuals, and these issues in regards to the law?

Afterall, the original article was about ‘bigotry in the Ozarks’ and what homosexuals have to endure.
~ James

To which I also added the following resources in subsequent posts:
The Church and the Homosexual — John J. MacNeill (Beacon Press, 1993)
Homosexuality: Not a sin, Not a sickness;What the Bible Does and Does Not Say — Rev. Elder Don Eastman (1990)
Homosexuality and the Bible.pdf — Prof. Dr. Walter Wink (“Homosexuality and the Bible” in Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1999.)
I got a few responses from the usual suspects, Pioneer and Chris 'Foolhardy' Fluharty. They were about as pathetic as usual... some experts:

"If you do not believe in heaven then why is it bothering you so much. You are wrong pioneer proved you wrong, as have I, and now you are swinging at air hoping to make contact. The Bible cannot be manipulated to fit your perversion." — Chris Fluharty

"So your article is nothing but social liberalism so homosexuals can feel better about their blatant sin. Today's seeker sensitive church will say anything to fill the pews with tithers." — Chris Fluharty
"since you are happy going to Hell I guess it really doesn't matter now does it. That is sad though Because God does not want to see that. Hope you change your mind. Is sex worth eternal damnation?" — Chris Fluharty

“I do not think “special laws” should be enacted for you, at all; because that way we, as a society, would not need to consider how “to deal with” homosexuals, in regards to the law.” — Pioneer

“Personally, I think that homosexuality is unnatural, and that those who practice it are spiritually, if not physically, ill people; but that doesn't mean that special laws or any particular laws need to be enacted because of that. It is a personal problem for you, not one you should be taking to the public sphere as if you are begging for charity.” — Pioneer

To which I responded, "There is more evidence of your lack of open-mindedness and tolerance. It’s not my problem at all, P. I’m quite happy as I am, thanks. It’s a problem to YOU, and Chris, and folks like you. You don't have any idea how I live my life. But you imagine the worst and work from there. You’re the ones that need to get over your “personal” problem, that problem is bigotry."
"I have every bit as much a right to be here as you do. And I’m going to continue to be here. You’re just going to have to get used to that. And as we've recently found out, I'm not the only gay person that participates on these forums. I'm just the most outspoken. And that clearly drives you crazy."
Pioneer's brilliant response to this was: "Yet another example of how you DO NOT READ. I did not write anything even close to calling for you to be censored. Because you interpreted whatever I did write in that manner, it proves, once again, that you create your own agenda out of thin air, with little to no regard for the facts of the matter."
That's rich, coming from the guy who said earlier in the debate, "Such ridicule IS censorship, like it or not." Just as inconsistent as he usually is...

And that brings me to the most telling part of all, Pioneer replied: "As for bigotry-hahahahahahaahaha!! YOU are calling ME a bigot? Get real. You are, quite simply put, an anti-Christian bigot- and as long as you continue to live your “lifestyle”, you will be an anti-Christian bigot. Like it or not."
To which, that just brings us back to the main point of this post, something which I pointed out several days ago just before this latest debate broke out.

This IS Pioneer, to a tee... But, unlike the cartoon, I've been hitting that hateful bigot back since the first exchange we had and he first started
in on my "lifestyle".
Me thinks he doest not approve of being "whapped" back by the queer.

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