Hi xxxxx and xxxx, No apologies necessary.

I knew from the beginning the tone of this little cartoon (and it's content) were liable to rattle some cages. I'm thankful for your response! As I'm prone to do with these things, I'm going to start from a ways back and work towards the particular points you raise. Bear with me. If we were to boil your comment down to its essence, the one thing you seem eager to communicate is that obedience to God must be a primary concern in the life of a Christian. On this we can agree. But it's a fairly hollow agreement, for people of nearly all faiths agree that we ought to follow God passionately, yet for various reasons they disagree (just as passionately) as to what such obedience entails. From here we can go one step further. We both agree that we ought to be in obedience to God's Word. 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 that may sound shocking to some ears, but historically it's as ancient as the Bible itself and has been held by many, if not most, orthodox thinkers (Martin Luther being among the most memorable representatives). One might respond that perhaps God's Word is not exhausted by the Bible, but surely the Bible is exhaustively God's word. I'll admit that this is a very common view in evangelicalism, however, my own studies of scripture have lead me to question this assumption. What began my journey was an inability to reconcile verses like Ps 137, Ex 21:20-21, 2 Chron 15:12-13 with 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 their context, 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 from certain. In many, many cases what the author was getting at has been lost to us altogether. But this should not surprise us for between us and scriptures there exists a very great distance on each and every single point I just mentioned. In the process of doing such hard work, it becomes apparent that the "clear word of God" is not nearly so clear. Furthermore, one comes to recognize the 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 to us that this passage demonstrates God's hatred of homosexuality, but when we go back and read the story carefully, we may notice it is not the fact that the town is over-run by homosexuals that leads 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 (it was done to prisoners of war all the time). And 2) Ezekial does not locate the sin of Sodom as having anything at all to do with sexuality. Ezekiel sees the sin being arrogance, gluttony, and a lack 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 our own assumptions than God's Word. Of course, there are other verses (5 to be exact) that seem to deal, in some sense, with homosexuality. And as a Christian I think it's important that we look at each of them carefully and prayerfully, always being open to the possibility that God's transcendent Word may be saying something other than what we had always assumed. I won't go into any of those verses here, but I'd encourage any interested parties to have a look at this site. In my opinion, they do a pretty decent job giving another angle on each verse in question. Who knows, they might be right. But even if they're not, integrity demands that we take such purportedly faithful attempts to interpret scripture 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 the message their religious community was sending them. Some of these same people were able to come to peace with their sexuality and their relationship with God. Sadly, the rift between them and what ought to be their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ persists. And what is a Christian without community? I must stress that the theological reevaluation I'm advocating for here does NOT lead to a flippant view of marriage. Like yourself, I feel that the disintegration of marital bonds are unspeakably tragic. Who can keep from weeping over a situation that was intended for love and life, but that ends in great pain and deep wounds? Such situations stem from a complex of phenomena such as past wounds, ignorance, confusion and other more explicit forms of outright sin. It is interesting to 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 relational disintegration 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 a committed form of their sexuality along the very same lines that we recommend to our heterosexual friends. And I think it's worth asking whether or not our theologies are causing wounds in people which are leading to the very forms of disintegrated sexual aberrations that wounded and confused heterosexuals engage in. Might it not look different if so many did not have to grow through (or live in) a period of questioning their full humanity, of being shamed for an 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 think I'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 essentially sinful. At the same time, though, I'm very interested to hear any and all arguments that suggest I'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 for nothing but love as an outcome. Written 7 hours ago · Comment · LikeUnlike · Report Note Commenter 1 What if it is something people are born with, much like a tendency towards alcoholism or gambling addictions and the sin comes when they act upon those tendencies? 7 hours ago · Flag Alex Hi Michelle, This is a good point. One could even take this further and say that the inclination towards sin itself is something we are "born with." If we do this it becomes clear that what we are really talking here about is "temptation," and surely we don't incur blame for being tempted to sin. To this I would say that if homosexuality is sin, ... See Morethen you are absolutely right. It is not the temptation, but the action. But here's where I see a problem that's bugged me for a long time. It stems from my reflections on the nature of sin. What is sin? To answer this we might ask what our greatest good is. Here I turn 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 is love and that if we don't live in love, we don't know God. From this it seems reasonable to me that sin is that which works against our greatest good. Sin is essentially that which frustrates love of 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 gambling as 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 it on 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. We generally say within 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 apply our 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 · Flag Commenter 2 Surely they had also raped women, as they apparently were bisexual, rather than strictly homosexual. Otherwise, would Lot have offered them his two daughters in lieu of his two house

guests? (verse 8). Rape is no doubt involved in God's indictment of them, but not the total case against them. Their sin is specifically the sin of homosexuality. ... See MoreVerse four emphasizes " . . . the men of the city, even the men of Sodom. . . ." Their very name of identification has today become the moniker of those who engage in this perversion, "Sodomites." Sodom was judged for their wicked practice of homosexuality. This indeed was the sin of Sodom, as the prophet declares, " . . . they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves" (Isaiah 3:9) Man exchanging the Truth of God for lies : " 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" (Romans 1:25 KJV); 3. Mankind exchanging natural sex for perverted sex: "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: 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 recompense of their error which was meet" (Romans 1:26,27 KJV)

This is the generation that invented homosexuality as a lifestyle. Other societies previously considered may or may not have engaged in the practice. But this is the society that made it the common, everyday manner of living; utterly corrupt, and under the full judgment of God. All closet doors were flung open. Ephesians 5, involves the genders of male and female. In the "union" of two of the same sex, there is a defiling of the union God blessed. Such perverted union is unnatural and forced--and unhealthy.There is not the even the remotest possibility of procreation, a purpose for which God established marriage.It is like trying to attach a screw to a screw. A screw is made to fit into a nut. The first is unnatural and forced, a perversion of the intended purpose. One must see that homosexuality does reside in every sinner, naturally, just as does the seed of every other possible sin. All sin is rooted in the sin nature of man. In the society that has rejected God; is ever nearing the bottom of the cesspool of rebellion, demons become bold in such darkness. Homosexuality, then, is the direct correlation of a society's godlessness, and Satan's sinister designs to bring the judgment of God upon it. It is the last step downward-the fullness or sin, bringing the fullness of God's wrath. 6 hours ago · Flag Commenter 3 xxxxx, For those who subscribe the compatibilist view of free will, there remains the argument that there is still choice involved in the acting upon those native tendencies. 6 hours ago · Flag Commenter 4 I think it is useful, for the sake of discussion, to focus on Gen 19 instead of drawing in the passages in Romans (this just raises additional exegetical questions). The only case for saying that the Sodomites had sinister sexual motives in the encounter with Lot is that Lot offers them

his two daughters, perhaps anticipating their interest in ... See Morethem. But, not only is this irrelevant to homosexuality, it is also unclear that this was not simply the most convenient bribe Lot had to appease a hostile group (“here are some slaves”). Sodom is frequently cited as an example of a city overrun with evil, but there is not a single case of where it is explicitly stated that a chief sin of Sodom was homosexuality. Other sins, however, are explicitly mentioned. Jesus believed that Sodom was destroyed for inhospitality (Mt. 10:14-15; Lk. 10:10-12) and Ecclesiasticus states that the Sodomites were proud (16:8). In Joshua 6, in a similar story, God annihilates Jericho for inhospitality, and spares a single person: a prostitute. As Alex correctly points out, Ezekiel takes offense at the non-sexual sins of Sodom. In fact, the sins of Sodom are compared in Ezekiel to the sexual sins of Jerusalem and are found to be less serious (16:48-49)! The ancient Hebrews did not understand their own texts the way some modern readers do. I might add, in response to your remark, Phyllis, that Sodom’s “very name of identification has today become the moniker of those who engage in this perversion” that the term ‘sodomite’ did not originate in the ancient world. It comes from around the 13th century. This is part of the anachronism I mentioned. 5 hours ago · Flag Commenter 5, cont Although frequently used, alcoholism does not work as a moral analogy to homosexuality. The problem is the alcoholism does not reach as deeply into the human personality as homosexuality does. Andrew Sullivan wrote, "If alcoholism is overcome by a renunciation of alcoholic acts, then recovery allows the human being to realize his or her full ... See Morepotential... but if homosexuality is overcome...the opposite is achieved: the human being is liberated into sacrifice and pain, barred from the matrimonial love that the Church holds to be intrinsic, for most people to the state of human flourishing." I think that many gay men and lesbian women in monogamous, committed relationships would testify to the myriad goods that such relationships provide: pleasure, communication, emotional growth, personal stability, long-term fulfillment, and intimacy. Sexual and physical affection is an important element in the cultivation of these human goods and is thus clearly a component of happiness and flourishing for gays and lesbians. For an alcoholic, renouncing alcohol leads to a more full and complete life; for a queer, as most other people, renouncing (sexual) relationships need not do this. 5 hours ago · Flag Commenter 5 amen, xxxxxxx! 5 hours ago · Flag Commenter 5 con’t and thanks for alex for starting the discussion, as well as moderating it with grace and knowledge. kudos, brother. 5 hours ago · Flag

Commenter 6 Alex, As I've got to run, I'm going to keep my few comments brief. I think... 1. Your critiques about misinterpretation/abuse of the OT by conservatives is common and tragic. ... See More 2. So best I can tell, I agree with 100% of your comments about prolegomena. 3. No matter what, I agree with your general concern that Christians need to be more discerning and compassionate on this matter lest we harm others. 4. While I agree with most critiques of the OT brought by queer hermeneutics advocates, I'm far from convinced by their use of the NT. Gotta run. Whether I ultimately agree or disagree, I commend your passionate attempt to rightly interpret the Word of God. 4 hours ago · Flag Commenter 7 Xxxxx, I'm not sure we really want to focus too heavily on Genesis 19. I mean let's face it, the whole gay thing kind of gets punted to the sidelines of biblical controversy at around about line 32, where @#$% start to get real. 3 hours ago · Flag Commenter 8 The homosexuality issue raises questions about Christian or biblical ethics more generally. How do we derive our normative ethics from the Bible? The answer, I submit, is that we do so selectively. That is, biblical considerations are not the only considerations. With the same breath, Leviticus condemns homosexuality and the eating of crayfish. ... See MoreSimilarly, Jesus both relaxes the Mosaic laws about the Sabbath and tightens the ones about divorce. Whether we appeal to the OT or the NT, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to come up with a method of deriving normative ethics from the Bible in a way that gives us the ethical beliefs of modern evangelicalism. I've never seen it done adequately. This charge – that we derive our normative ethics from the Bible selectively and inconsistently – is, I think, more powerful than any ambiguity in interpreting particular texts. While I agree that the Sodom/Gomorrah story is not clearly about homosexuality, Lev. 18 and Rom. 1 are patently anti-gay. Of course, they might be only incidentally anti-gay and the "problem" might dissolve once you consider the social and historical contexts (and different types of homosexual relationships), but such pro-gay arguments often seem weak to the anti-gay camp. This is unsurprising: such arguments rely on extra-biblical data, not just the "plain sense" of Scripture so appealing to lay evangelicals.

What does this entail, this inconsistent derivation of ethics from the Bible? I think it makes us recognize that our final appeal is much less to Scripture (or to the written text of Scripture) than to theology more broadly. Just as Luther judged the Bible's theology by the Cross, so can we judge its ethics. And not just by the Cross, but also by the Trinity. Et cetera. Of course, this isn't controversial, or it shouldn't be. The question has always been: Is homosexuality unChristian?, rather than Is homosexuality unbiblical? And of course, these are different questions. We are not people of The Book, in the way that perhaps Islam is. For the Christian, the Gospel – the revelation of God in Christ – is preeminent; it judges Scripture and interprets Scripture. So: Is homosexuality unChristian? Is it offensive in the light of the Cross and the Triune (ungendered) love between Father, Son, and Spirit? I see no reason to think it is. about an hour ago · Flag

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