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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Greg 'n Corinne Skoog on May 08, 2010
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01/23/2013

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Hi xxxxx and xxxx,No apologies necessary. I knew from the beginning the tone of this little cartoon (and it'scontent) were liable to rattle some cages. I'm thankful for your response! As I'm prone to do withthese things, I'm going to start from a ways back and work towards the particular points youraise. Bear with me.If we were to boil your comment down to its essence, the one thing you seem eager tocommunicate is that obedience to God must be a primary concern in the life of a Christian. Onthis we can agree. But it's a fairly hollow agreement, for people of nearly all faiths agree that weought to follow God passionately, yet for various reasons they disagree (just as passionately) asto what such obedience entails.From here we can go one step further. We both agree that we ought to be in obedience to God'sWord. Now we've lessened the abstraction somewhat, but perhaps not as much as it first appears,for I am not of the mind that God's Word is simply and straightforwardly "the Bible." Now thatmay sound shocking to some ears, but historically it's as ancient as the Bible itself and has beenheld by many, if not most, orthodox thinkers (Martin Luther being among the most memorablerepresentatives). One might respond that perhaps God's Word is not exhausted by the Bible, butsurely the Bible is
exhaustively
God's word. I'll admit that this is a very common view inevangelicalism, however, my own studies of scripture have lead me to question this assumption.What began my journey was an inability to reconcile verses likePs 137, Ex 21:20-21, 2 Chron15:12-13with the love I see in Christ. And as a Christian, if I am to locate God's Word anywhere,it's going to be in Christ (John 1). What to do?The usual (and appropriate) response to such difficulties is to consider them in light of theircontext, and any given text has a number of different kinds of contexts, e.g., textual, cultural,historical, and even theological. Any good interpretation of scripture engages in this practice.The more it does so, the better. The problem is, it's really' hard work and the results are far fromcertain. In many, many cases what the author was getting at has been lost to us altogether. Butthis should not surprise us for between us and scriptures there exists a
very
great distance on eachand every single point I just mentioned. In the process of doing such hard work, it becomesapparent that the "clear word of God" is not nearly so clear. Furthermore, one comes to recognizethe role one's own assumptions play (for better or worse) in the theological interpretation of scripture.To take an example you raised: Sodom and Gomorrah. I know we've always heard it explained tous that this passage demonstrates God's hatred of homosexuality, but when we go back and readthe story carefully, we may notice it is not the fact that the town is over-run by homosexuals thatleads to it's destruction (note, it was condemned before the mob attempted to rape [also note:rape] the angels), but it's unspecified "wickedness." We can add to this two further things. 1)raping someone, male or female was a commonly used tactic for utterly humiliating another (itwas done to prisoners of war all the time). And 2) Ezekial does not locate the sin of Sodom ashaving anything at all to do with sexuality. Ezekiel sees the sin being arrogance, gluttony, and alack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49).
 
From this it is worth asking if what has seemed so clear to us all along may well be more ourown assumptions than God's Word.Of course, there are other verses (5 to be exact) that seem to deal, in some sense, withhomosexuality. And as a Christian I think it's important that we look at each of them carefullyand prayerfully, always being open to the possibility that God's transcendent Word may be sayingsomething other than what we had always assumed. I won't go into any of those verses here, butI'd encourage any interested parties to have a look atthis site.In my opinion, they do a prettydecent job giving another angle on each verse in question. Who knows, they might be right. Buteven if they're not, integrity demands that we take such purportedly faithful attempts to interpretscripture seriously.A few closing remarks:I'm so sorry to hear of the painful experience of your brother. I don't presume to know enough of the context to speak into that situation. So I won't. Like Bryne, however, I do know other stories.Some are stories of young people feeling that their very humanity was in question due to themessage their religious community was sending them. Some of these same people were able tocome to peace with their sexuality and their relationship with God. Sadly, the rift between themand what ought to be their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ persists. And what is a Christianwithout community?I must stress that the theological reevaluation I'm advocating for here does NOT lead to a flippantview of marriage. Like yourself, I feel that the disintegration of marital bonds are unspeakablytragic. Who can keep from weeping over a situation that was intended for love and life, but thatends in great pain and deep wounds? Such situations stem from a complex of phenomena such aspast wounds, ignorance, confusion and other more explicit forms of outright sin. It is interestingto note, however, that those who are raised with a minimum of personal wounds, with warmth,love and a strong community tend to be (on the whole) far better equipped to avoid relationaldisintegration and, instead, to have healthy committed relationships (regardless of orientation).The same applies in the other direction.It seems plain to me that promiscuity, casual sex, abusive sex etc... are evil regardless of orientation. What is
not 
obvious to me is that homosexual persons are incapable of living out acommitted form of their sexuality along the very same lines that we recommend to ourheterosexual friends. And I think it's worth asking whether or not our theologies are causingwounds in people which are leading to the very forms of disintegrated sexual aberrations thatwounded and confused heterosexuals engage in. Might it not look different if so many did nothave to grow through (or live in) a period of questioning theirfull humanity, of being shamed foran entire dimension of themselves which they never asked to own?This is a tough issue. I've thought long and hard before beginning to raise the issue. But I thinkI've thought long enough and hard enough to be convinced that, whatever else we might say,there are significant errors in the standard arguments used to label homosexuality as essentiallysinful. At the same time, though, I'm very interested to hear any and all arguments that suggestI've got some things wrong. The very last thing I desire in all this is to be outside of God's truth.
 
And please know everything I've said here, I say with a smile on my face and with a desire fornothing but love as an outcome.Written 7 hours ago · Comment ·
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·Report NoteCommenter 1What if it is something people are born with, much like a tendency towards alcoholism orgambling addictions and the sin comes when they act upon those tendencies?7 hours ago ·FlagAlexHi Michelle,This is a good point. One could even take this further and say that the inclination towards sinitself is something we are "born with." If we do this it becomes clear that what we are reallytalking here about is "temptation," and surely we don't incur blame for being tempted to sin. Tothis I would say that if homosexuality is sin, ... See Morethen you are absolutely right. It is notthe temptation, but the action.But here's where I see a problem that's bugged me for a long time. It stems from my reflectionson the nature of sin. What is sin? To answer this we might ask what our greatest good is. Here Iturn to two places: 1) Jesus' response to the expert in the law (Matthew 22:36-40), the Shema,essentially, loving God and others. And 2) (1 John 4:7-9) where the author proclaims that God islove and that if we don't live in love, we don't know God. From this it seems reasonable to methat sin is that which works against our greatest good. Sin is essentially that which frustrates loveof God and others.If we reflect on anything we know to be sinful, it's usually fairly easy to see where the activity/thought in question does exactly this. You mention excessive alcohol use and excessive gamblingas potential candidates. How many times have each of these problems destroyed families,separated children from parents, ended in physical abuse, etc? The formula works. Try running iton other sins. It can be a good exercise.But then we have practiced homosexuality. Many cases fall into the category of sin pretty quick.Promiscuity and whatnot. But then again, the exact same thing is true of heterosexual scenarios.In heterosexual relationships there is a very narrow range of "good" sexual expression. Wegenerally saywithin the bonds of a loving and committed relationship. Here's the thing though:homosexual people are also capable of loving and committed relationships. And if if we applyour criterion to this situation I cannot for the life of me find a way to cash out "sin."Does that make sense?7 hours ago ·FlagCommenter 2Surely they had also raped women, as they apparently were bisexual, rather than strictlyhomosexual. Otherwise, would Lot have offered them his two daughters in lieu of his two house

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