Bock

You Never Know- Discussion on Homosexuality (Updated and Revised- July 11, Sept 3, Sept 10) July 10.08

Note: The original blog in this space dealt with my trip to Taiwan. One of the comments asked to discuss Homosexuality and the Bible. The comments on this entry cover that topic. The original blog is below, but the comments discuss homosexuality, which has now gone to a page 2. So scroll to the bottom of page 1 and click the 2 to get to page 2 comments.

Note: The original blog in this space dealt with my trip to Taiwan. One of the comments asked to discuss Homosexuality and the Bible. The comments on this entry cover that topic. The original blog is below, but the comments discuss homosexuality, which has now gone to a page 2. So scroll to the bottom of page 1 and click the 2 to get to page 2 comments.

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As I noted, I am in Taiwan. One of the fun things about traveling as I do is that you meet people who are appreciative of things you have done in ways you never anticipated. So today I had lunch with Fisher Yu.

Fisher teaches English to Chinese students at a high school in the third largest city in Taiwan, Taichung. After taking me on a ride on the back of a scooter, something I had not done since I was a child (and a cultural experience I had not asked to have!), we sat at a Chinese restaurant  (I am getting adept at chopsticks on this trip). He shared with me all the work he had done years ago on the DaVinci Code (yes, even in Taiwan). He knew me from the Chinese version of my book on the Code. I never would have dreamed when I wrote that book in Texas that someone in Taiwan would read it and then study and write about the issue in Chinese (including in the local paper).He showed me the clippings and discussed some of his research. It was an example of not knowing what the impact might be of something you write. What is even more fascinating is to get the chance to meet people and converse with them years down the road. All in all, pretty satisfying.

On the ride he took me by some Buddhist temples and schools, as well as discussing some customs with me (especially the troubling for Christians ancestor rites). I am here bcasue a misionary from my church, Bill Franklin, invited me to speak to the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship at their annual meeting. Bill has been here over twenty years. Today he gave me a crash course in issues tied to ministry on the island, as well as discussing leadership development issues here. It has been interesting to see people who have been here for 60 years and less, having given their lives to serve the Lord in a foreign context. It is easy to lose sight of the great job and impact many missionaries have had around the world. This trip has been a great reminder to me. Hopefully you know a missionary who you can pray for and express appreciation to.

July 11 add on: The story continues as today I was at a teen camp in Taiwan. They introduced me at lunch (no speaking, just a visit).  The teens there knew who I was and many had read the Chinese version of the Da Vinci Code book. Even less expected than what I ran into yesterday. Simply amazing.

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76 Comments

  • Avatar

    Lynn

    Scriptural Laws
    To Dr. Bock,

    I have raised what I feel are some important questions on my blog, concerning the biblical foundation for the casual dismissal, in the church, of many laws of the Bible. In my belief, there is a biblical basis for the principle of “liberty” regarding many laws and precepts of the Bible, which is based on a use of “discernment and reason,” and principles of the “conscience.”

    While, as I said, we do see the application of liberty, regarding the many laws of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, it is curious to me that the law regarding same-sex, intimate relationships must be taken at “face-value,” to the condemnation of gay and lesbian people, with no view to a discernment on the facts of the issue, the quality of the relationship, and the conscience of the individuals involved, many of whom are believers in Jesus Christ.

    Dr. Bock, I would like to request your attention to this issue on my blog, as I am seeking the doctrinal basis for the mainstream church’s interpretation regarding the authority and applicability of biblical laws, from the perspective of a theologian. I believe you will find my blog interesting, and I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you and God bless you.

    Sincerely, Lynn
    New Covenant Truths.blogspot.com

    • Avatar

      bock

      Scriptural Laws dlb

      Lynn:

      Thank you for the note. Your blog claims too much in terms of the theme of liberty. Romans 1 is rooted in issues of divine design, not just "heart" positions. This means that Paul’s condemnation on issues of sexuality are not annulled or trumped by themes of liberty alone. In other words, heart is but one element of the theological and creational discussion. Your position reflects a reductionism in removing other key features of the biblical argument from consideration. There is a fundamental differentiation and complementarian role in the divinely rooted and intended male-female design that is in view here. This is as compelling a consideration as any claim to liberty as a moral category. Not all discussions of law apply this kind of a principle to the discussion of other areas, so that a mere equation of law and liberty may apply to certain areas (eg, food laws, worship on certain days) but not to others. 

      I do understand the query you have raised, but cannot dismiss the application of certain central elements of the discussion by an appeal to liberty and conscience alone. God bless, and I trust that this explanation helps to supply the rationale for why this is more than a "face value" argument.

      dlb

      • Avatar

        Lynn

        Laws of Scripture and Liberty
        Dr. Bock, I appreciate your response. I’m sincerely seeking what is the Bible-based answer to the questions that I have raised on my blog, and have been working with this issue for several years now, though my blog is fairly new. I hope you will be willing to address these concerns and observations, for the sake of bringing out a more complete discussion on this issue. What I have to say is somewhat lengthy, but it does come back to fundamental questions concerning these New Testament principles of liberty, reason, discernment, and conscience.

        First, you are saying that “my blog claims too much,” in terms of the theme of liberty. I don’t want to speak for you, but I just want to note that my blog speaks many verifiable truths of Scripture, so I believe you must be saying that my use of these truths and principles, in applying liberty to the issue of same-sex relationships, is claiming too much. The “foundation” of my belief is what I understand to be the “new covenant” teachings concerning a believer’s liberty in Christ, spoken of in Galatians, and in several other passages, and in several other ways throughout the New Testament.

        I want to make myself clear, that when I am speaking of the “heart and conscience” elements of the biblical doctrine of liberty, this is not simply a statement that, if someone’s conscience approves of something, it is acceptable. There are several things at work involving the conscience and these biblical doctrines, if I can just briefly show you what I am speaking about.

        One of the important verses that establish “liberty” in Scripture, is Paul’s statement that, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12) This shows a “discernment” in Paul’s thinking, it shows consideration to the “fruits of deeds,” and it shows a regard for “self-control.” So it is not merely one’s conscience freeing them to do whatever they wish to do.

        The Bible says that we are to be very careful about placing judgments on people–it is nothing short of a theme in God’s Word. I am addressing the doctrinal issues, regarding what our conscience is to be accountable to, and how the Bible is understood and used by the majority in today’s church. In light of the many references to liberty–some specifically using the term and some not–what is the biblical basis for believers placing a judgment on this particular issue, while not living by many biblical laws themselves?

        My main question for you, is a clarification of what you said in your response to me, concerning the fact that liberty would apply to some laws and not to others, which is a premise that I agree with. The passage above sums up pretty well my understanding of this, and there are others that also address it well. I see liberty applied in the church, but I see it as being used “selectively,” and not particularly elaborated upon as a doctrine, at least not that I have heard. Is it possible that it is more along the lines of “agreed-upon tradition,” and therefore a biblical basis is not necessary to establish?

        You are making a reference to the “divine design” spoken of in Romans 1, and this is why your understanding of these passages is “not a face-value” interpretation…in other words, on the simple basis that it is a written law. You are saying that I have “removed key features” from the biblical discussion. Is the…”fundamental differentiation and complementarian role in the divinely rooted and intended male-female design that is in view here.”…of greater importance than the “fulfillment of the person” in a love relationship that would be genuine for them, and not based on what is, essentially, a farce for the homosexual person, not to mention also deceptive and unfair to the heterosexual person they are marrying, who believes they are marrying someone who desires them? (realities of the issue.)

        Is the homosexual individual who does not defer to this principle, but lives their life in love and commitment, truly the type of person who was condemned to hell in Scripture?

        You seem to hold the position that Paul, in speaking about this design of God’s creation, and the severe judgment that he placed upon same-sex relations, could only have been speaking with “full knowledge” on the issue, being an apostle of Jesus Christ. Is this true and accepted regarding all that Paul spoke, with no view to the principles of reason, discernment, or liberty necessary, or is this assertion used only for judgment on this issue?

        The belief of the majority in the church, is that this (body parts fitting together heterosexually, as Paul spoke of) is of greater importance to God, than the realities that are present for the individual who was born with an innate, homosexual orientation in their makeup–which I can testify to, as it is true for myself, as can many other people, who were either born gay themselves, or they raised a child for whom this is evidenced to be true. I have heard it said by a well-known Christian leader, that “if this is true, it doesn’t matter,” as we have a “written law” addressing this, essentially.

        This is where the face-value understanding of laws comes in, while this is not how the church applies other laws for themselves, as they apply liberty to many laws. In light of the realities of both the Bible and the issue, I think it is a lot to expect that the “conscience” of the individual, who was created and born with a homosexual orientation, should defer to the “divine design” principle, while “liberty” has been prolifically established in Scripture, and employed in the sight of all by the church. I don’t believe they have concerned themselves with the ramifications of the idea, that he or she is being required to marry for “appearance” sake, and to please the tradition-based Christian church.

        There are at least five or six explicit instructions of Paul, and stated with significance, that have no place in the church today.

        I won’t detail them here, because you already know what they are, and you can read my blog to see what I am referring to. Hair lengths; covering your head or not covering your head; wearing gold, pearls or braids, which is unacceptable for woman making a claim to godliness; teachings regarding how a man may keep his daughter unmarried if he so chooses; women being forbidden from speaking in church…none of these things are teachings of the Christian church today, neither is the Law of Moses, and for good reason. Haven’t key features of Scripture been removed here as well, and isn’t that how liberty would function, by removing the explicit principles taught by Paul, and through “discernment of good and evil,” in determining that these things do not represent the essence of righteousness?

        Regarding one example of this liberty in the church: What is the reason why it is no longer a “disgrace” for a woman to pray or prophesy with her head not covered, or to wear her hair short, or for a man to pray with his head covered? Paul addressed this very explicitly. He states that “nature teaches” that it is not proper for a woman to pray without her head covered, that her long hair is a glory to her, and long hair on a man is a dishonor to him. This would be saying that a woman who wears her hair short, and the vast majority of women in our culture do, is lacking glory and has compromised her God-given covering. This is not a teaching in the Christian church today.

        Dr. Bock, I feel that this all speaks for itself…that the leaders and outspoken people in what one might consider the “mainstream” Christian church, have cited the authority of biblical laws, only to condemn those whom they wish to condemn, without giving much consideration to the realities of the issue itself, or to their own use of liberty on other laws.

        Realistically speaking, I don’t expect you to admit that a “distortion of the church” has been exposed here, on their use of the Bible regarding this particular issue, and that what they have established is “tradition” (based on popular opinion), rather than a sound and consistent, doctrinal basis for their belief, as they have presented it to be (while viewing things highly selectively). I hope you will be willing to share your thoughts on this, and your honest commentary will be appreciated. It seems to me that admitting to the complexities of the Bible, for the sake of truth and justice, does not serve popular belief in Christianity.

        This is for the sake of the glory of God and truth, and for the sake of the complete discussion on this important issue in our society and in the family of God. Thank you for your consideration Dr. Bock.

        In grace and truth,

        Lynn

        • Avatar

          bock

          Laws of Scripture and Liberty dlb

          Lynn:

          I am glad to engage in this discussion. I will try to go one key point at a time.

          You say: "In light of the many references to liberty–some specifically using the term and some not–what is the biblical basis for believers placing a judgment on this particular issue, while not living by many biblical laws themselves?"

          The place to start is here. The question is a non-sequitur. The idea that someone being disobedient in another area disqualifies making moral judgments does not follow. It means people are not consistent, but does not mean making a judgment (an act of moral discernment, as you note) is wrong in another area. As you know, the area in question is one in which the Scripture is very strong in its negative assessment. More than that, the texts that raise it do not ever make a distinction between whether the relationship is sincere or not. The assumption of those rejecting these texts that judge as relevant is that the relationship described in somehow insincere, but how do we know that?  Nothing in these texts tells us that. This means another reading other than one that sees a moral issues possesses a burden to show why that sesne of these events should be reversed when they are consistently seen so negatively.The few previous sentneces explain that the reaction against the position is more than as you raise, "Is it possible that it is more along the lines of "agreed-upon tradition," and therefore a biblical basis is not necessary to establish?" This means my appeal is not merely as you say "on the simple basis that it is a written law." I am arguing that there is a pattern to how this area is presetned in Scripture that is more than a mere "thou shalt not" law. The remarks appea in genre other than law. They make moral judgments and involve the assessments of discernment you raise as acceptable categories. 

          At this point your discussion moves is a variety of directions at once.  Key is your raising of what I might call the position of the "sincere" homosexual, the person who is honest and faithful in terms of their orientation. This is followed by an attempt to dismiss what Paul says in Romans with the following statement: "You seem to hold the position that Paul, in speaking about this design of God’s creation, and the severe judgment that he placed upon same-sex relations, could only have been speaking with "full knowledge" on the issue, being an apostle of Jesus Christ. Is this true and accepted regarding all that Paul spoke, with no view to the principles of reason, discernment, or liberty necessary, or is this assertion used only for judgment on this issue?" Now I ask, in what sense is this utterance by Paul in Romans the Word of God, if principles are at work that can undercut the argument he makes that such behavior is not merely a sign of fallenness but of a severe state of fallenness, especially when Paul adds that the problem is not only to pursue such behavior but to do so and encourage others to do so as well? What I am raising here is the point that Paul does not seem to treat this area as one up for particular discussion (This is not his call for not pressing on issues realtedto food or caledar as in Romans 14-15). The remarks suggest an outright rejection of the category. Paul’s appeal to divine created design is a transcendent kind of argument- and it is backed up in other texts moving on this topic in the same direction by other authors, showing Scripture does not present it as one writer’s opinion alone.

          Your next paragraph understates the point I am making about divine design. It reads, "The belief of the majority in the church, is that this (body parts fitting together heterosexually, as Paul spoke of) is of greater importance to God, than the realities that are present for the individual who was born with an innate, homosexual orientation in their makeup–which I can testify to, as it is true for myself, as can many other people, who were either born gay themselves, or they raised a child for whom this is evidenced to be true. I have heard it said by a well-known Christian leader, that "if this is true, it doesn’t matter," as we have a "written law" addressing this, essentially." Here you make two points together. One suggests we are only speaking physically of design when we appeal to divine design of the male and female. This is not the point of the view of an argument fordivine design. There is more to it. The argument is that there is more to this difference than the design of body parts. In general, males and females operate emotionally and spiritually differently, which is why they can complement each other emotionally. In addition, this is pictured by the fact that a child is produced by a male and female, each supplying part of the matter that makes up the new person.

          Your second point here is a more complicated one. What of people with innate homosexual orientation? I take it the implication here is: what of the divine design of this individual? This is a fair question. I would not appeal to a "written law" as a response here. I would say that there are many people in the church who can testify to this orientation being dealt with and reversed through their experience of Christ, in part because the point was made that there is something morally amiss here that needs to be brought before God, as any category of moral activity does (in this sense, homosexuality is no different a sin or inclination than is one to drink excessively, engage in gossip and slander or glottony). God is not saying this inclination is against an abstract written law, but is against a design that comes from him. I know this sounds harsh. It is not. I know as a pastor that people struggle to deal with all kinds of personal issues where they come up short before God (in fact, we all do), but the way to start is not to deny the possibility of the need to deal with the area by saying I am made this way. This is little different from arguing, "Well I sin because I am a fallen human being" (well, yes, but that does not make it right, just because we are inclined this way.) 

          This makes your next remark really telling: "In light of the realities of both the Bible and the issue, I think it is a lot to expect that the "conscience" of the individual, who was created and born with a homosexual orientation, should defer to the "divine design" principle, while "liberty" has been prolifically established in Scripture, and employed in the sight of all by the church. I don’t believe they have concerned themselves with the ramifications of the idea, that he or she is being required to marry for "appearance" sake, and to please the tradition-based Christian church."

          My response is: (1) no one is forced to marry, nor is one to do so for appearance sake." More importantly, I believe deeply in God’s power from within us to help direct us in the paths he calls righteous. If I substituted fallen for homosexual in the above paragraph, would you still subscribe to the point you are making? Then where does our effort to become better people spiritually come in? Part of my point here is that I never see liberty applied in Scripture as a rule not just in this area of sexuality but in the entire realm of sexuality.

          When it comes to hair length and other matters, I have already suggested why these kinds of "rules" do not apply in this case. First of all, most of these do not appeal to transcedent creation, but to cultural practice. The hair example you raise does appeal to nature, which still is not necessarily an appeal to the creation (Is it to "the nature of things" [in whose sense?] or to Nature [unlikely Paul would personify in this way here] or to the nature of our culture???). In addition, whatever Paul says here, the "violation" is not treated with or raised to the degree of significance that the subject of Romans 1 is treated. Paul expresses his reasons for why worship should be conducted in a certain manner in 1 Corinthians, but the material of Romans 1 shows him making emphatic moral judgments.

          Also important is your next paragraph: "Dr. Bock, I feel that this all speaks for itself…that the leaders and outspoken people in what one might consider the "mainstream" Christian church, have cited the authority of biblical laws, only to condemn those whom they wish to condemn, without giving much consideration to the realities of the issue itself, or to their own use of liberty on other laws." I know many church leaders, including myself, agnoize over having to challenge the alternative lifestyle. When I was growing up some of my best school teachers were gay folks who were very professional about how they taught me my subjects in school. These teachers were fine people in many respects and I am indebted to them for the competence with which they taught me. That does not mean I view their choice of lifestyle as neutral, nor do I underestimate the effort it takes to face up to changing direction. In other words, there is "no wishing to condemn" here, only a love that says, what I am saying in challenging this is that such a choice is destructive in the long term (as are many other choices people make in life in other areas). These same leaders will go to all kinds of lengths (monetary, counseling, emotional) to be sure a person who seeks to change direction can get the support and help they need to get there.

          It is for these reasons I do not think, as you anticipated, that there is a distortion in the way the church handles this area. I, as you do, desire to be clear about the complexitiy and depth of Scripture, but I do not think we get there when we seek to explain an emphasis in ways that denies its presence. I have tried to be clear. I have also tried to let you know that dealing with this area is like dealing with any area where we seek to grow in righteousness before God, recognizing our need for Him and the change only He can bring.

          With much appreciation for the tone and sincerity of the exchange,

          dlb

          • Avatar

            Lynn

            Laws of Scripture and Liberty (cont.)
            Dr. Bock,

            A commenter on one one of your recent posts, from June 25th, asked where the documentation can be found regarding the effects of things like pornography and homosexuality, and “who is publishing data that supports the idea that these behaviors are bad for human and societal health?”

            I have to confess, Dr. Bock, that I hadn’t read any of your other posts before I wrote to you, so it is interesting that you were already involved with this issue to some degree in recent times, as have been some of your commenters. I chose you for this discussion, based on the introduction of you on the website.

            I’ll be looking at this data on my blog, which is to be published in upcoming articles sometime in the near future. I’m sure there is also data that your commenter can look into on his or her own. I’ll leave it there for now, because I don’t have this gentleman’s explicit permission to introduce his upcoming work on this yet.

            I’ll just give you one comment on this question, and then I’ll address your points one at a time in your letter to me, Dr. Bock. The question was in regards to being “besides the sacred texts,” but I just want to say that Jesus specifically addressed pornography, when He said that “you are not to look upon a woman with lust,” which is enough for me. It is corrupting to the soul, even if one is not married, which would add “adultery” of the heart to the act in that case.

            I’m not aware of any bad fruits associated with the type of relationship between two members of the same-sex that I am speaking about, nor did Jesus address it, so I will be looking forward to this data and commentary on this issue, which he has told me a little about. I’ll be critiquing it on my blog when it is published. You may want to follow that information and commentary, as well as this one, and assess the merits of both sides of the issue for yourselves.

            I appreciate that you have agreed to discuss this issue. It is important that both sides are allowed a voice in the discussion, for the cause of seeking the truth and a better understanding. I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible, but I do have a few points to make in response to your letter.

            To address your first point: “The idea that someone being disobedient in another area disqualifies making moral judgments does not follow. It means people are not consistent, but does not mean making a judgment (an act of moral discernment, as you note) is wrong in another area.”

            I just want to note, that I’m not speaking of “disobedience”…I was raising the question about the doctrine of “liberty,” in which case, we are speaking about what the church “approves” of and permits liberty on for themselves, not what they are disobedient to, and therefore possibly disqualifying themselves from judgment on other people. My comments are regarding the biblical basis for liberty, which is used for some things, but not for understanding of the issue concerning the gay, believer in Christ, in particular. Just some thoughts for consideration and clarification. I don’t believe this doctrine has been elaborated upon in the church, as I said before.

            My premise is that it is not disobedient for a woman to wear her hair short, for example, or to pray without her head covered, based on the principles in Romans 14, for example, and all passages that address liberty. These teachings of Paul are not a teaching in the Christian church, by any stretch of the imagination. It would be incompatible with our culture, and I believe is considered to be not relevant to righteousness in the sight of God. To say that this is “disobedience,” is to employ “forgiveness” on something that has no place in your walk with God to begin with, or any attempt to correct, and in my belief, would constitute an unhealthy and farcical relationship with God. It also frees one to disregard doctrines of the New Testament, while still maintaining a belief in one’s moral qualification to judge other people (innocent people in my belief), which I believe is fundamentally incorrect, based on the words of Jesus. I believe principles have been employed here, that have not been established to be a “principle,” but are based on popular agreement.

            Next, you speak of the biblical area addressing same-sex relations as being “very strong in its negative assessment,” but Paul states that it is a “disgrace” for a woman to pray with her head uncovered, or for a man to pray with his head covered. That is also a very strong assessment, but it has been dismissed today. You are saying, concerning these aspects of Scripture, that “most of these do not appeal to transcedent creation, but to cultural practice.” I have to disagree. His words appear to speak to both of those things. Paul used the same Greek word for “nature” in both references…regarding Romans 1, saying these acts were “against nature,” and 1 Cor. 11, concerning hair lengths and covering your head, saying that “nature teaches” these principles that he is speaking about. I think this is very significant. It is part of how God established His Word, while also establishing the principles of liberty.

            Same-sex attraction is evidenced to be the natural sexual orientation for many people. True, there is more to the differentiation between male and and female than just body parts, but this is not moving to the gay person, who is not attracted to the opposite sex, in an intimate sense. There is still a complementary relationship, despite the fact that it is the same gender. So it comes back to the question of the authority and applicability of laws and liberty, and consideration to the natures of things.

            Following your statement concerning the “strong negative assessment” in the Bible on this issue, you make the statement that “the texts that raise it do not ever make a distinction between whether the relationship is sincere or not. The assumption of those rejecting these texts that judge as relevant is that the relationship described in somehow insincere, but how do we know that? Nothing in these texts tells us that.”

            I have to wholly disagree with you on this also. Paul’s description of the people about whom he was speaking in Romans 1, is a description of people that goes well beyond just a statement about same-sex intimacy. This speaks to the kind of person Paul was speaking about. It is highly relevant to me, considering the fact that it describes neither myself, nor does it describe the nature of “homosexuality” itself, as I elaborated upon on my blog. The “degrading passion” that Paul spoke of, I do not see in the type of relationship that I am speaking about, and I believe it goes back to the context and nature of what was taking place there, i.e., lust, rebellion, and idolatry. What he was speaking about does not exist here, and was rooted in something else entirely.

            The sense in which Paul’s words reflect the Word of God, would be in consideration for the “context” of his words, in understanding who he was speaking about, and precisely what God would consider to be “wickedness.” As I understand God in Scripture, wickedness violates the law of love, and “heterosexuality” does not represent the nature of love. To understand this judgment to be concerning “body parts,” rather than the character of the individuals and the relations that were spoken of, in their rebellion against God, in my view is “legalism,” and is in the same category as foods, hair lengths, days of the week, tattoos, sewing a garment with two different materials, etc., and gives no consideration to the heart of the person, or the fruits of deeds (new covenant principles).

            I want to note that I am not advocating any particular sexual activity, but harm associated with an activity, or the absence of harm, does need to be taken into consideration. The issue is regarding same-sex intimacy and relationships, and it transcends any particular activity, which is a separate issue in itself, to be addressed by the medical community, and seems to be mostly considered private in regards to heterosexual relationships.

            You are entitled to disagree with my belief on this, but I believe this goes back to this truth of God, that it is now a circumcision of the heart, not the flesh. (Rom. 2:29) It is the “heart” that He is looking upon, not the “outward appearance.” To place absolute deference to Paul’s authority and position, regarding this particular issue, without consideration to the possibility that they may have spoken with limited knowledge of the issue…I believe you must place this same deference on other areas of his teachings–in a blanket sense, regardless of your understanding–which were stated with terms of severity, though not as much so as on this issue. This is still a selective use of Paul’s authority.

            For what it is worth, I understand that your belief is not without foundation, but it does not appear to have considered the whole picture concerning God’s judgment of people. I believe you are presuming that Paul spoke with complete accuracy on this issue, while it is evidenced that he gave instructions in other areas, speaking about a certain kind of person, but not with a view to the complete picture of what he was explicitly addressing (e.g., a woman wearing gold, pearls, or expensive dresses. 1Tim. 2:9,10). He spoke based on his understanding in his culture, concerning the people he was personally aware of, and wrote extensively about. I don’t see a basis to understand Paul’s perception on certain things as absolutely authoritative across the board, given by God in His Word. It is very possible, and in fact, I know this to be true for myself, that the biblical writers did not have full knowledge on this issue, and I believe it was by God’s intention and purpose. The greater principles of God’s Word show a cause for discernment, which is rightly distinguishing one thing from another, humility in judgment, and respect for an individual’s conscience and personal relationship with God.

            There is a place for judgment, or speaking against something you believe is wrong, in my beliefs, and it would be only for the sake of love. There would have to be harm done, for it to be a “right judgment,” and not one that is based on “appearance,” as was taught by Jesus. (John 7:24) We’ll see what the data shows in regards to same-sex relationships. Based on what you have said, concerning the fact that you do not view placing a judgment on people lightly, and that it is not an easy thing for you to do to challenge their lifestyle, I think evidence of harm would be necessary. You compare this to excessive drinking, gluttony, slander, gossip…all of these things are harmful to people, and that is why liberty would obviously not apply to these kinds of things. Also, there is a big difference between encouraging wickedness in people, and bringing out principles of the new covenant for consideration of a particular issue. My belief is that we are free in Christ to live a good life, not to do whatever we wish to do, or to cause harm to anyone.

            You say that people have changed their sexual orientation, as a result of a relationship with Christ: “I would say that there are many people in the church who can testify to this orientation being dealt with and reversed through their experience of Christ, in part because the point was made that there is something morally amiss here that needs to be brought before God”…and then you make the comparison to activities which are evidenced to cause harm. (The deeds of the flesh are evident. Gal. 5:18-23). I’ll be addressing this on my blog. This is a complex area, and I’ll just say that I respect the lives of these individuals, and their understanding and their experience, but it does not reflect the whole picture for all homosexual people.

            There are other points that you have made, which I will possibly address later on my blog, but I think I have addressed your letter sufficiently for now. I’m not intolerant of the belief that homosexuality is wrong, but again, it is important to see both sides of the issue. Just one more note: Your beliefs do place pressure on the gay Christian to be heterosexual, which follows, to be heterosexually married. Unless what you are encouraging is life-long celibacy for the individual whose homosexuality is rooted in their natural makeup, whether or not you have the “gift” of celibacy spoken of in the Bible. I’ll be addressing more about your belief on my blog, respectfully of course.

            Dr. Bock, thanks for your time and attention to this issue. Please let me know if I have misunderstood anything you have said, or what you believe I am missing. God has the power to help people to overcome sin, but I don’t believe the kind of relationship that we are speaking about here reflects sin, any more than it is sin for a woman to pray without her head covered…unless she believes it is sin, and does it anyway; then it is sin. In my view, the only things that are not up for debate, is whatever causes harm, or whatever is in defiance of the teachings of Jesus. Sin, in my view, is whatever goes against the law of love. God bless.

            Lynn

  • Avatar

    bock

    Short reply for now dlb

    Lynn:

     

    Many things to treat here and, alas, I am away teaching so I do not have a great deal of time for this now. Just a couple of short points.

     

    (1) Where is their any indication in Scripture that same sex love is acceptable in any form?  We know it existed and was wide spread in the Roman world, so where is there any indication that "liberty" works to include this area (and distinguishes between the things mentioned in Romans 1 wouthout qualification)? In contrast, we know prayer is good, while Paul is addressing a type of prayer (in form and approach to God) that he sees as ignoring the distinctions in the creation when a woman does not cover her head in the context of participating in a service. So your immediate equation that same sex love or inclination is a matter of the heart and "liberty" alone and not inherently a moral issue in itself distinguished from the prayer example does not work. Another way to ask this is where is there any indication inb Scripture this act and inclination is an area to which "liberty" applies, for that category is related to things that in and of themselves are morally neutral. Is it not natrual to think that when the Bible uses the term "immorality" and this act was commonly widely associated with immorality that that is included unless otherwise specified? Or to say it another way still, without such a clarifying explanation, how could Paul’s audience have originally understood such liberty applied to such an area without specifying it to counter the common ancient view of immorality? 

     

    A second point, your insistence/argument that Paul cannot understand fully the basic dynamics of what he is discussing here understates in my view what it means for him to be making a moral pronoucement as a matter of faith and practice in terms of what inspiration of the Bible means.  For inspiration argues that God ultimately is responsible for these declarations. God inspires through the writer.

    dlb

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      my reply
      Dr. Bock,

      I’ll just give you my answer to your comments here, and then you can give your address to this, when you have the time and as you wish to do that. There isn’t any need for you and I to debate this down to the wire, as you would probably agree. I thank you again for your attention to this issue; it is much appreciated.

      In answer to your first point: I’m making no claim that there is any indication in Scripture, in specific terms, that a same-sex, intimate relationship is approved by God. By the same token, I see no indication that many of the other areas of laws and instructions, which we do not find practiced in the church, have God’s specific endorsement either.

      What I do see is an explanation of new covenant principles, which is a theme in God’s Word, that establish a basis for “discernment of good and evil,” consideration of one’s own “conscience,” which would also necessitate a view to things like “fruits of deeds” and “self-control.” It’s all there in Scripture. The Bible is not a simple set of laws; these principles are found in many passages. We have a Scriptural basis to view laws in this perspective, and we can also see that “liberty” has a profound place here, and there are many laws that have no place in the function of the church today, from both the Old and New Testaments, which were not specifically addressed with liberty in the Bible. So I don’t see a need for this to be specifically spoken of, and my application of this is related only to where an individual’s conscience is pure, and the relationship is not from lust or promiscuity, or the other things spoken of in the Bible as related to this issue.

      You say that, “in contrast, we know that prayer is good,” and Paul was referring to a specific type of situation regarding prayer…but we also know that the type of relationship that I am speaking about is good, that being a committed love relationship, and it is a specific aspect that is being addressed, that being the genders of the two people. Again, I am seeing legalism here, and a selective use of the authority of laws. The realities of the issue call for a more in-depth consideration of these biblical truths.

      I think you are presuming that Paul’s address of these other things was not related to “morality,” but what is considered to be proper or improper, I believe is related to morality. For a woman to wear these adornments, wear her hair short, speak in a church service, marry without deferring to her fathers permission…would have, at the very least, been the beginning of immorality in Paul’s view, if not immorality in itself. Why else would he have spoken so strongly about these things? He did not leave these things up for debate (1 Cor. 11:16), but we’ve dismissed these instructions today. I believe my comparison does reasonably work: it has to do with cultural beliefs and perceptions about things. The purpose here is for acceptance of a segment of God’s family; it is not to liberate anything that causes any harm. It is for the sake of love and understanding, which is why Paul established liberty for the church.

      To address your next point, which you summed up in this statement:…”how could Paul’s audience have originally understood such liberty applied to such an area without specifying it to counter the common ancient view of immorality?” My answer to this, is that I’m making no claim that this was to be understood in Paul’s time. My belief, as I said, is that the biblical writers spoke with only a limited knowledge of what they were addressing. This belief is based on their descriptions of who and what they were speaking about. This was demonstrated in a few other areas as well, that Paul was capable of speaking a judgment with a limited understanding, based on his cultural understanding of his time. This was associated with the godlessness that was rampant; today we understand the issue from a biological perspective, and we understand this from the perspective that God is a just Judge, who judges the character of a person, and does not judge on a legalistic basis.

      To address your last point: I agree that God is ultimately responsible for these declarations, and He inspired and governed the writings of the Scriptures. I believe He allowed a misunderstanding of His judgment on this issue, for His own reasons. The basis for my belief on this is not one or two passages, or a case that is without any substance. It is a prolific case to be made, based on many truths of the Bible and the issue. I am a gay, born-again believer myself, who has the Holy Spirit, and who has love.

      I don’t think your position has given consideration to the context of what was spoken of in these passages. If you believe that Paul spoke with full knowledge on this issue, then you believe that he was not speaking only about a certain kind of rebellious person, but he spoke correctly in condemning all homosexual people to hell, including those who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some people do not see it this way, but Scripture is clear about this (“it is not only faith…demons believe and shutter”): what he spoke of in pronouncing judgment on those who will not be entering into heaven, was a statement that these kinds of people are not true believers…not that they will be saved if they ask for forgiveness, but do not repent.

      Dr. Bock, I’ve given you some things to consider further about this issue; I’ll be interested in your assessment of this, and I welcome your honesty. Thank you very much for your time and your patience. God’s blessings to you.

      Lynn

      • Avatar

        bock

        Reply dlb

        Lynn:

        Again, a short reply. I see what you are doing in your first point as an attempt to create a category the Scripture does not give room for. You speak of love as positive, but we have nowhere in the Scripture where sexual same sex love is spoken of positively. In other words, one has to be able to establish that this category is a neutral category, not ruled out for such a consideration, before we get to the application of the kind of liberty principles to which you are appealing. I see nothing about the way Scripture handles this specific practice that takes us to such a place. (I also think that the way you try to connect discussions on hair and jewelry as equally condemned is a stretch). But let us assume you are right on those connections. A proper response is not to permit acticity in the area condemned or criticized (or treat it as permitting another area to be so handled), but to urge the church to be faithful in responding in those areas as well.

        The difficulty you have dealing with the accepted cultural backdrop for Paul’s negative remarks (Ie, alternative lifestyles are not accepted as moral) and the nature of inspiration is also a major problem for your approach (as is the appeal to biological factors). Did God not know about these biological realities in His creation as he speaks ot these topcis through Paul and others? God is NOT merely allowing a misunderstanding in such cases in his Scripture; he would be misdirecting our basic ethical instruction in the area. But Scripture is said to be able to guide us into truth in these very areas of how we live (what they church has called faith and practice). I do not have to believe that Paul spoke with full knowledge of the area (as you say), but with sufficient knowledge and with a proper sense of God’s mind on how to view the area. In sum, Paul’s tone gets his basic exhortation in these areas right.

        Now as for condemnation. The beauty of the gospel is that grace triumphs over sin. There are thousands, I am sure, saved homosexuals. Just as there are thousands of saved liers, slanderers, greedy, etc. Many of these people struggle to overcome that for which Christ died. What is disturbing about the position you are holding to is that it fails to truly face the way God spoke about this practice. You even make a point of it in stating your personal identity ("I am a gay, born again believer myself"). I can be greedy and angry as a person, but that does not make me proud to have those qualitied in my life and I pray that God continues to work on these areas. Grace is capable of reversing and is at work on these. Your position is such that you are arguing this is not necessary in an area Scripture consistently portrays negatively. That fact alone would give me pause, if I were you, about whether my view of liberty is actually correct. Please note I say this not to judge, but to observe about what Scripture says and seek to apply the Word that comes from the one who loved me enough to die for me and enter into my life to help me become the person he designed me to be.

        Lynn, I have no doubt by the tone of your interaction that your desire is to honor God and seek his will. This is why I write so directly. In everything God has revealed to us directly on this area of discussion in his Word, his remarks challenge this lifestyle as offensive to his design. He has not faked us out here. He means it. So with all the best intentions, I hope you will reconsider how you have created a "safe haven" for an alternative lifestyle. It is not a safe place to be. God desires more and better things for us that what that lifestyle offers.

        Sincerely in Him,

         dlb

  • Avatar

    Skeptimal

    Sexual Identity “reversal”
    Dr. Bock,

    You said: “I would say that there are many people in the church who can testify to this orientation being dealt with and reversed through their experience of Christ…”

    I realize this is a theological discussion, but since you raised this point, I thought I’d ask. Why is it only religious people who claim to have reversed their sexual identity, and why are these changes never confirmed with scientific study?

  • Avatar

    bock

    “reversal” dlb

    Skeptimal:

    Are you saying that people who had an experience with Christ, show it in changed behavior, and who appear to be changed really are not? Is the Holy Spirit able to change us? You are correct; this is a theological claim. But it applies to a whole series of areas of which this is just one.

    dlb

  • Avatar

    Skeptimal

    Sexual Identity “reversal”
    .”Are you saying that people who had an experience with Christ, show it in changed behavior, and who appear to be changed really are not?”

    I think there is tremendous pressure on gay people in our culture, so if some chose to ignore their sexual attraction and act as if they were straight, it would not be a surprise. If sexual attraction can be changed, we would expect to see it occurring outside of religion and to see it being scientifically proven. The fact that only the religious are claiming this change is possible (just as only the religious claim creationism is science) makes it suspect.

    “Is the Holy Spirit able to change us?”

    I doubt you and I would be able to agree on this question. People religious and otherwise do sometimes choose to make healthier decisions. Is that the Holy Spirit? We couldn’t prove it wasn’t.

    Skeptics and theologians *can* theoretically come to agreement, however, about whether or not those individuals who claim a change in sexual identity are actually now physically attracted to the opposite sex. All that would be necessary is rigorous scientific testing opened to peer review by religious and non-religious scientists alike. Since such a change would strongly bolster the Christian political view, I would expect that many reformed gays would be willing to participate in such a study.

    On a personal note, I greatly respect your participation in the creation of the Evangelical Manifesto. Although I’m not a Christian, and although you advocate positions with which I strongly disagree, I think a lot of Buddhists, liberal Christians, atheists, and skeptics would welcome it if Evangelicals would abandon attempts to enforce theocracy and return to the table as partners in democracy. I know I would.

  • Avatar

    bock

    Reversal dlb

    I find the seeming choice between science and theology you pose interesting. I do agree about your view about the existence of pressure to conform, but that does not mean will power alone gets it done. Many people cannot overcome issues in their lives by will power alone. I do not mean that will power never works, but you are suggesting when a reversal comes that is always the case. Probably we are up against a worldview difference here.

    As for the Manifesto, please know that many evangelicals have never pursued or are interestdd in a theocracy. So thanks for that note.

    dlb

  • Avatar

    Skeptimal

    “I find the seeming choice
    “I find the seeming choice between science and theology you pose interesting. I do agree about your view about the existence of pressure to conform, but that does not mean will power alone gets it done.”

    I may have been vague in how I worded things. I don’t think that you have to choose between science and theology, necessarily. A high percentage of scientists are Christian (though admittedly not the majority). I was just saying that the question of whether legitimate positive change has come from the Holy Spirit is a question of faith unanswerable by science. Nevertheless the change itself, in the question of physical attraction, could be measured and confirmed by science if it were real.

    “Many people cannot overcome issues in their lives by will power alone. I do not mean that will power never works, but you are suggesting when a reversal comes that is always the case.”

    And I didn’t mean to suggest will power alone is always enough to make any change. For legitimate areas of emotional healing, however, it does not take religion to make that change. Recovering alcoholics do not all become religious. People with psychiatric disorders can see improvement through therapy. People with depression can be treated medically. When it comes to gay conversion therapy, though, it always seems to be the religious who claim this change has taken place.

    If you are saying that physical attraction for “ex-gays” always remains for the same sex, and that they just learn to ignore it and make do with inherent limited heterosexual attraction, that’s one thing. If you’re saying that the physical attraction actually changes through religion, then that can be proven or disproven.

    “As for the Manifesto, please know that many evangelicals have never pursued or are interestdd in a theocracy. ”

    The Manifesto is proof of that. By the way, I hadn’t realized how much anger about the theocrats came through in my post. It isn’t directed at you and those who agree with you. I hope that if it were necessary, I would be willing to die to protect the rights of Christians to worship as they choose and follow where their consciences lead them. For a long time now, I’ve suspected I might be a fool for having that attitude, since Christians apparently did not feel that my rights mattered at all. The Evangelical Manifesto renews my “faith” that people of differing world views can find a way to cooperate for peace.

    The reaction to the Manifesto is fascinating, in that merely by suggesting that peace is better than war, the authors have been accused of moral relativism and weak faith (the two most serious crimes an Evangelical can be accused of).

    • Avatar

      bock

      I find dlb

      Skeptimal:

      Thanks for the helpful clairifications on your thinking. I like your tone as well.

      dlb

  • Avatar

    John

    It seems to me that a lot of
    It seems to me that a lot of the conversation about sexuality and Christianity presupposes that people are static in their sexual orientation. I am not a scientist, but I would assume that very few people are completely homosexual or heterosexual. I suspect that we are all somewhere on a spectrum in terms of our sexual desires at the moment. I also suspect that there is some ability to move oneself on this spectrum, not that such a movement is easy, but I think it is possible. So for example, although I consider myself to be currently on the heterosexual side of the spectrum I can imagine that over a period of time I could move myself to the homosexual side of the spectrum. I think such a movement is possible for most people in both directions, or in other directions towards different sexual desires. Again, I am not saying that such a move would be easy, but I suspect it is possible. I would appreciate a comment from someone who studies sexuality or might be able to speak authoritatively about this.

      • Avatar

        Lynn

        It seems to me
        It seems that John is saying that there is no such thing as being either “heterosexual by nature” or “homosexual by nature,” as a deeply rooted part of one’s being. I’m not a scientist, but I can speak from personal knowledge and experience, and I think most people would heartily agree with what I am saying.

        If you are only speaking about exploring “sexual experiences,” based on “sexual desires at the moment,” apart from any notion of a relationship with God or a conservative approach to life, this is probably true on a physical and sexual level for most people, if one is thinking about life in that way. But John is speaking of discussions about “sexual orientation and Christianity,” and the born-again Christian is not looking for different sexual experiences, but desires a wholesome and committed life, and many non-believers are also interested in a committed life-partnership. The person who deeply understands themselves to be attracted only to the opposite sex, is not likely going to ever be interested in learning how to be in an “intimate love relationship” with the same sex, and the same is true for the person who is attracted only to the same sex, in regards to a relationship with a person of the opposite sex. John is saying that he believes this is “possible but not easy” for the straight man, for example, to learn and grow into desiring an intimate relationship with another man. (I don’t believe many straight men would agree with him, but I don’t know where you would find data to this effect.) “Gender” is a very important part of attraction and intimacy. It would not be a desirable thing to try to change in oneself, and I have no doubt that most people would agree.

        Some people understand themselves to be bisexual, and can be attracted to either sex. In my understanding, there are two different kinds of “bisexual”: One kind has only to do with engaging in “sexual experiences” with both men and women, and has nothing whatsoever to do with an intimate love relationship.

        I will say, though, that the person who changes from understanding themselves as a gay person, and now feels that he or she is sexually attracted to the opposite sex, I believe was never innately homosexual in the first place, as many people feel deeply that they are, and as is evidenced for many gay people dating back to childhood. Some people are engaged in homosexuality, and it is related to other issues in their lives, and is not about being born with a homosexual orientation. I have no problem believing that this person can come out of their former feelings, and can move on the “spectrum” and become attracted to the opposite sex. This is possible especially with the help of God, as with any other addiction or issue in a person’s life. It is wholeness and fulfillment in love that God desires for all people. The genuinely gay person finds fulfillment in a relationship with a member of the same sex, and just as for the straight person, this is not something that many people would want to try to change.

  • Avatar

    John

    I appreciate the comments. I
    I appreciate the comments. I do not have any doubt that the average homophobic person would say they could never move on the spectrum towards desiring the same sex. In my mind this would only display the person’s lack of introspection. If we are making anecdotal evidence important then I might note that most research students that I have spoken to about this agree that they could concieve of themselves over time being able to move on the spectrum to desire the same sex. I think this is an important point for Christians who believe that homosexuality to be immoral. If they cannot admit that it is possible for them to move on the sexual spectrum then they cannot ask others on the homosexual side to move to the heterosexual side. To do so would be very hypocritical.

    Now, whether one believes that those on the homosexual side of the spectrum should move to the heterosexual side depends on whether or not they believe God has set standards for sexual ethics that are more comprehensive than a loving committed relationship with another person (Of course the Bible itself presents homosexuality as immoral, but then again theological reasoning does not stop with the Bible). I think that another point to be considered in this conversation is that if a loving and committed relationship is the standard then what about other sexual activities in which this is possible outside of homosexuality. I would be interested to hear what Lynn thinks about incestuous relationships with one’s sibling or parent. If the overarching principle is a loving committed relationship then I can see no reason why an incestuous relationship could not be considered moral, if of course both consenting members of the relationship are fixed not to have natural children.

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      reply to John
      In answer to the question John poses to me, the overarching principle is more than a loving, committed relationship. If this is the standard, then “adultery” would also be acceptable, which is a violation of one’s commitment of love to their spouse and is sin on this basis, which was addressed in the Ten Commandments. The question is not particularly fit to be answered, but I’ll just say that I would be just as offended by the concept of an incestuous relationship as just about anyone would be. The topic here is about people being born innately homosexual, and the type of love and commitment that I am speaking of is before God and is in the light. God will be the Judge of all people. I’ve never stated this to be the complete criteria that God, being a righteous Judge of the hearts of all people, would be looking at.

      The issue here is about “gender,” and gender issues do not constitute “immorality” in my understanding of the Bible. There is an explicitly stated context in all of the references that speak of condemnation, and this context explains that it is lust, rebellion, idolatry, and unfaithfulness that constitutes sexual immorality. “In Christ there is no male or female.” (Gal. 3:28) To condemn purely on the basis of gender is legalism, and takes nothing into consideration except the written law, which is wholly not how law functions in the church. There is more to be taken into consideration on this issue, considering that we are speaking about an individual’s “natural makeup,” not the “rebellion” that was prolifically spoken of in the Bible. Man looks upon the outward appearance; God looks upon the heart. I could give a list of examples of how disastrous it would be to cite and apply biblical passages standing alone. John states that “the Bible presents homosexuality as immoral,” but this is without any view to the context in which passages were stated, or any other principles of Scripture. This is no more true and complete, than it would be to say that to work on Saturday is worthy of death, or to eat pork or shellfish is abominable in the sight of God. God has written His law on our hearts, and this is a matter of one’s own conscience and personal relationship with God. Also important to note, if the condemnation were about a particular act, it would have been forbidden for all people. The condemnation was regarding a certain type of lawless person, who had a rebellious heart towards God. The context of the passages explicitly shows this to be true. This theological reasoning does stop with the Bible, and it is based on the Bible.

      In speaking about anecdotal evidence regarding “moving on the spectrum” in terms of our sexual orientation, I can tell you that I am not “heterophobic” and I would not be interested in an intimate relationship with a man. As a gay woman, it is not in me and would not be a possibility for me. I don’t mean to be insulting about whatever it is that John is speaking of, but there is a difference between love and intimacy, and what it seems to me that John is speaking about.

      He is saying that he could move on the spectrum, and that heterosexual people he has spoken with also believe they could desire the same sex. John, are we speaking about basically animalistic activities, or are we speaking about love and intimacy from the deepest and most complete part of one’s heart and being? If you are speaking about the former, that would be like macaroni and cheese, compared to a seven course, porterhouse steak dinner with wine…if you are speaking of the latter, I don’t believe many heterosexual or homosexual people would agree with you. Possibly, through introspection, you feel that an experience with a man would be something meaningful–I don’t feel the same way, and there is no comparison for me. Most straight men would possibly do bodily damage to you if you physically tried to explore the prospect with them. I’m sure, and I mean this sincerely, that you could find plenty of gay or bisexual men who would love to give you or your friends the chance to explore this in yourself…provided they are not walking in a close relationship with Jesus Christ, who would require much more from them than what that would be about. I think your words do reveal what you are speaking about, but perhaps you will clarify what type of sexual relationship you are speaking about for all of Dr. Bock’s readers.

      As far as the straight Christian who believes the gay Christian should be able to change…the premise there is that they believe that all people are to be heterosexual, end of story. (I suppose they would believe that “asexual” would be acceptable) “Hypocrisy” I believe, has more to do with one’s stated beliefs in an ethical sense, so I don’t see this in terms of their belief that the gay person can change, while they would have no desire or consideration of what it would be about for themselves to change. They don’t understand that the gay person’s sexual orientation is as deeply a part of them, and important to them as part of the gift of life, as their own sexual orientation is–and there are many truths of the Bible that they do not feel an obligation to process. (I believe there is a hypocrisy, but not in the sense that you are speaking of.) In my belief, many Christians are challenged in the integrity department. It is one thing to believe homosexuality is wrong…other things many of them are engaged in for their beliefs, are another thing altogether. Just some thoughts for consideration.

  • Avatar

    John

    Hmmm. Well I think the idea
    Hmmm. Well I think the idea that the New Testament does not condemn homosexuality is flatly ridiculous. I do realize that there has been an article here and there in support of the point you are making (e.g. the one by L. T. Johnson) but for the most part I understand that those supporting your stance feel that they are the prophetic voice that is taking its starting point with the Bible and are moving on from there. An outstanding scholar, John Milbank, who supports your overall position also says: “Although I favor the gay cause, I actually think the conservatives are more or less right about the Bible” (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week707/commentary.html)… I certainly agree.
    I still don’t see why you would think of incest as immoral. Why from scripture would someone being born heterosexual be prevented from having a deep and committed love relationship with their sibling which they also felt was before God and in the light? I do not think you can say they cannot have such a relationship without appealing to the dos and don’ts of scripture which you are so aggressively trying to avoid. You seem to feel that these laws which God gave (in the NT) can be tossed aside as long as you have some subjective sensation that you are “speaking before God in the light.” You appear to be randomly cutting out all things that sound like law and calling them legalism. What do you mean by legalism? Having a law does not make something legalistic. Legalism is following laws outside of empowerment from God’s Spirit. There is nothing wrong with following commands as long as you do not believe that you are somehow justifying yourself by following them (1John 5:3f).
    Also, about your opening sentence: “In answer to the question John poses to me, the overarching principle is more than a loving, committed relationship. If this is the standard, then “adultery” would also be acceptable, which is a violation of one’s commitment of love to their spouse and is sin on this basis, which was addressed in the Ten Commandments.” Obviously if one commits adultery then they are not in a committed relationship so I don’t see your point…and there you are appealing to laws when they fit your purpose.

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      To John (continued)
      John, people like you are difficult to have a dialog with, because you make statements regarding my beliefs that are unfounded, such as your statement about the complete criteria for an acceptable relationship being a “loving and committed” relationship, which is not what I have said. I speak of love and commitment, and I also speak of other components as well, such as one’s conscience, personal relationship with God, which is who we are ultimately accountable to, and that all things will be in the light. The other reason you are difficult to have a cohesive dialog with, is because you feel that your condemnation is endorsed by God, while you give no argument in response to the truths that I have pointed out from God’s Word. I’ll give my answer to you one point at a time.

      1. Your declaration that you could change your sexual orientation, based on “sexual desires of the moment” is, in my view, a statement that you do not cherish what you have felt to be your sexual orientation, as a heterosexual man. Possibly not in terms of your religious beliefs, as I see now from your condemning statements, but in terms of your sexual orientation, it is all completely interchangeable to you. You are making the statement that you don’t feel that you have a gift of nature regarding women, that is incomparable in your desire for a woman, and you could have just as intimate and romantic of a relationship with a man. I would presume this is on all levels of intimacy, based on the more complete argument you are making. You are expressing yourself to be potentially bisexual in nature, and that you believe that basically all people are, and if they do not understand or believe this, they are lacking sufficient introspection. I completely disagree with your statements, and I have no doubt that probably most people would not consider their deeply-felt sexual preference to be interchangeable. It is a very significant part of our nature. This is from my knowledge of myself, which is based on my own orientation, and is evidenced dating back to my childhood in terms of gender-related behaviors and preferences, as with I believe most people who feel that they were born with either a heterosexual or a homosexual orientation. This is also something that parents can testify to, regarding their knowledge of their children that they raised. You are entitled to your beliefs about your sexual orientation; I don’t agree with it as a principle. I’ll have to look for a study to see if many people feel the way you do.

      2. You are expressing what you believe the Bible states in a very limited manner. I don’t believe I have done that in my presentation of my beliefs. I have not stated that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, so representing my belief as being that “the Bible does not condemn homosexuality” and calling this “ridiculous” is unfounded and aimed at a shallow and limited mindset regarding the Bible. If this is how you function in your judgments of people, it is likely that you will be found to be hypocritical in your application of Scriptural laws in your own personal life. I’ve explained all of this pretty thoroughly, and you might want to address the actual discussion and give an answer for your beliefs on these complexities of the Bible. To clarify, my belief is that homosexuality being spoken of as condemned, is stated within an expressed context, and is related to the sinful qualities that I have cited from Scripture. This context, Paul’s explanation of the type of person he condemned, is all prolifically there in Scripture. I didn’t make it up.

      3. The individual that you say “supports my overall position,” and who is also saying that “the conservatives are more or less right about the Bible”…obviously does not support my overall position. There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the “conservative’s” presentation of the Bible. (I’m not seeing them carrying out the laws of Scripture…the ones they apparently consider to be not the essence of righteousness, and not reasonable to be taken and applied at face value, as the words of Christ, while requiring this of the gay believer.) There is much that has been collectively ignored, which I have written extensively about, and which you do not address to any degree at all.

      4. You don’t understand why I would consider incest to be immoral, and you don’t see why they could not have a sexual relationship that is before God and is in the light? I’ve never encountered a person for whom this is a desire or an issue ever in my life. Have you ever heard of someone saying, “This is my brother, who is also my life-partner.”? This is not an issue in the church, or anywhere else, and it is self-explanatory why it is not and never will be. This renders it not “in the light,” or before God. Other than something that might occur on the frequency of serial killing, this is not something that people want at all, and for reasons that are rooted deeply in our beings. My second answer is that God is the Judge, and this is not a concern of mine. Also, you are appealing to the Law, but I didn’t obtain my belief on this from the Mosaic Law. His law is written on our hearts now, and this is something we understand instinctively.

      5. I’m “aggressively trying to avoid the dos and don’ts of Scripture?” I don’t know on what basis you believe you can make this judgment of me. God is the Judge of my heart, and this is a false and baseless judgment. I have not tried to avoid anything; I am writing about many compelling issues of Scripture, and it is based on verifiable truths of Scripture. Again, you might want to give an answer for your beliefs, in terms of the actual dialog and biblical truths that I have raised for discussion.

      6. “You appear to be randomly cutting out all things that sound like law and calling them legalism.” If you see a “random cutting out” of things that sound like law, you haven’t read anything that I have written with any kind of thoughtfulness. I explained my understanding of “legalism,” when I said that it is a use of law that takes nothing else into consideration but the written law, and applies laws simply on the basis that it is written in Scripture. Jesus Himself spoke against this use of the Law in several ways. This is also something that is imposed on other people, and is a principle that those who do this imposing do not live by for themselves. Many laws have no place in the function of the Christian faith.

      You said, “There is nothing wrong with following commands as long as you do not believe that you are somehow justifying yourself by following them (1John 5:3f).” I haven’t seen this practiced in Christianity, to blindly follow what you do not concur with in your spirit and your heart, as a born-again believer in Christ, to be inherent to righteousness. That is a main part of the substance of this discussion. You haven’t addressed this, but perhaps you will back up your argument and address these truths and realities, for the sake of integrity.

      Also to note, His commandments are “not burdensome,” because His law is to love one another, and this is something we grow into through a relationship with Him, and in the growth of the fruits of the Spirit. We are a new creation in Him. His laws of love are found in the Ten Commandments, and the New Testament states the law of “love” to be the “fulfillment of His law.” We are to “owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.” (Romans 13:8) His law under the new covenant is not the body of Mosaic laws; it is only to place your trust in Christ, and to love your neighbor as yourself (and a couple of other things that He asked of us, e.g. water baptism, and communion). I agree that His law is not burdensome, if His spirit is in us. This is not quite the case, to say that “His laws are not burdensome,” in viewing gender statements, apart from any context, as the law of God.

      John, what is your explanation for why God set up laws in the Old Testament that had the “death penalty” and the word “abomination” attached to them, that are no longer “laws” in the faith today according to the New Testament? Does this have no meaning in our understanding of how He set up His laws, and the principles of the new covenant? Why do you believe that this particular law is in a different category, and reflects inherent truth apart from any context, unlike these other laws that I pointed out, and He would condemn a believing soul to hell based on gender issues, as Paul said in his understanding of the type of person who engaged in this? If this is how you understand God, you are welcome to your beliefs. This is not how I understand the God of Scripture, who established a complex religion in the Old Testament, and then simplified it in the New Testament to be “fulfilled in a word.” We will all stand before God. My beliefs are based on Scripture, as I understand the bigger picture to be clearly presented in His Word.

      7. As to your last point, if someone is going outside of their marriage to be with someone else, in a relationship that they are promising commitment to, then it is possible to claim a commitment of love to the second party. You said “committed,” which means they will always be together, you didn’t say “exclusive.” You should be clear on how you are claiming to represent the totality of my beliefs, which are not what I have claimed on either count.

      Also, the “laws that I appeal to” are the laws of love, as explained by Paul, when he spoke of the principles of how law functions under the new covenant. You must have missed all of these aspects of how I have presented my beliefs.

      8. As far as your statement that, those who believe God does accept His gay and lesbian children, who live for Him and have love for God and for humanity, as claiming to be “a prophetic voice that is taking its starting point with the Bible and are moving on from there”…it seems to be the case, that the people who do not live by all of the laws of the Bible, even if you only want to count the New Testament, do not bother to give a reasonable explanation for their dismissal of laws, they just simply don’t talk about it (which is approval by popular opinion). Paul stated that “women who make a claim to godliness, are not to wear gold, pearls, braids, or expensive dresses”…and he also said that we are not to “think beyond what is written.” I do believe we need to think reasonably, and seek to understand what was intended in some of these statements. There is a basis for liberty, and it seems to me to be explained well in Scripture.

      And before you say that I am picking and choosing what I am going to accept from the writings of Paul, let me address this by explaining, again, that there is a basis for concurring with the spiritual principles that he spoke of, as a born-again believer who has the spirit of Christ in them, and distinguishing this from laws given by Paul. I do believe he was capable of speaking not in complete terms, in some of the statements and requirements that he gave, and I believe I have proven this well.

      I’m pretty sure this concludes my portion of the debate here, and if I answer further any point that John or anyone else may make, I will be brief. I’ll reply to Jim soon, and I appreciate his story very much. And Dr. Bock, thank you for allowing this dialog on your blog.

  • Avatar

    Jim

    identity
    First, let me state that I appreciate the tone and the open dialogue that Lynn has used.

    This matter is very real to me. I was raised in a Christian home and put my trust in Christ at a young age. At some point in grade school, I increasingly became attracted to men. Living in a very conservative home, I had no clue or context to understand what was going on or that I was having homosexual desires. It wasn’t until middle school that I even started to understand.

    At the same time, I felt called to be a pastor. It was while attending Dallas Seminary (I had Dr. Bock for Greek class for 1 Corinthians) that the two worlds collided head on. That began a journey for me. I have wrestled through this and have come to a few firm convictions.

    First, while every part of my being wanted to become intimate with a man, I have come to realize that this is not my identity. I am not a gay man. I am a man — period. And when the biblical understanding of manhood is developed (which is very extensive), it is clear that a man was designed for a woman. This was not an ignoring of my physical desires. It was taping into an even deeper, core desire that was in my soul. This can’t be “proven” by psychology or science, but theology seems to correlate well with reality as I have experienced it and as I observe in others.

    Second, if a man at his core is a man in his very soul (and a woman the same as a woman), then I believe the most unloving thing I could ever do is suggest he get or stay involved in a sexually intimate same-sex relationship (and the same for a woman). While it would deal with the surface desires, it would actually damage the very soul of the person.

    There is no way I could explain all of this in a short comment in a blog. I can only state what has been true for me. It took 10 years of struggle and working through this, but I am now very happily married and have a son. Yes, I still am attracted to the same sex. But that is not my identity. And I can say with full conviction that my wife complements me in a soulish way that a man never could. Our relationship is not just based on my physical arousal. It is based so much deeper than that. While I have no doubt that same-sex relationships can be very deep and loving, they can’t complement each other in the same way as a man and woman do in their soul any more than they can physically match and complement each other in their body parts. In other words, without a physical bodily change, gay sex is unable to replicate heterosexual sex in how a man and woman come together and are able to reproduce. The complementing in gay sex physically and soulishly is changed and adapted from what it was meant to be. Yes, it works on one level, but I find it a pale imitation of the original.

    Bottom line, my identity has nothing to do with my desires. It has everything to do with my soul, and as a Christian under the New Covenant, my soul has already been transformed. So at this point, to live a gay lifestyle would be a violation of the very foundation of who I am. So while it is still a temptation at times, it is never an option that holds any appeal in the light of day.

    Let me just add, knowing how hard the struggle can be, I definitely do not judge those who embrace the gay lifestyle. But at the same time, it would be unloving for me to accept it as the best choice for him or her to make.

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      To Jim
      Jim, I very much appreciate your thoughtful letter and your personal story. I am not one to be threatened or feel a need to insult those who believe as you do, and who hold the deep convictions that you do. I do not believe as you do, but I respect your beliefs. God is the only One who can give honor to His children as being obedient to Him, and I have no doubt that you will be rewarded for your obedience to your conviction and your understanding of God’s Word and His will for you. In my understanding of the bigger picture of His Word, as I have explained, and in what I have experienced profoundly in my relationship with Him, I am being obedient to my deepest convictions regarding His Word and His will for me. I’ll just give you a few thoughts on how I understand what you are speaking about, and my understanding of these things.

      I see what you are saying about your “identity” not being found in your desires, but in your soul. I understand my identity as being who I am in my soul as well. My sexual orientation is not how I define my identity, any more than my hair color, eye color, or any other aspect of my natural makeup. It is an aspect of who I am, and who God made me to be. It is not “who I am,” but it is certainly part of who I am in this life, and I would say that it is an important part of who I am. It is on the same lines as the “heterosexual” aspect of a person, and is part of the gift of life. But as far as my identity, this is found in who I am as a person, and as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. If all were lost tomorrow, including any of my senses, physical mobility, ability to think rationally, or my life itself…I would still be who I am in Christ, which is eternal. You are separating your “natural sexual orientation” from “who you are,” but at the same time, understanding that who you are is a “man.” In my belief, this is part of who I am as a woman, and that appears to be where you disagree on this aspect. I am a woman…I’m not a man trapped in a woman’s body, but I am a gay woman in my natural, God-given makeup. My “desires” are in the same category as the natural-born heterosexual’s desires. You have chosen to deny your homosexual desires, but I don’t believe that to permit this aspect of a relationship establishes it to be your identity itself, though I believe I understand what you are saying.

      You seem to understand your sexual orientation as a “disorder”…I do not understand my natural sexual orientation as a disorder. If it could be shown to cause harm, through evidence or even compelling reasoning, I would agree that it should be denied of oneself, if we are to place God first. If something were to come into a person from some adverse experience in their life, as opposed to from birth, I would agree that “wholeness” would be found through healing from this experience. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in the womb by God. (Psalm 139) An accident of birth, a true disorder, has a definable, adverse consequence involved. (They are who they are eternally in Christ as well, and God is a God of hidden blessings sometimes.) Jim, you spoke of this as being “surface desires,” but I don’t see it this way. In the deepest “core” of my being, not in terms of the eternal soul that I am in Christ, but the person I was created to be in this life (viewing this in the same category as for the heterosexual person), I am still very much a gay woman.

      To address very briefly the biblical “hierarchy” and what is said about marriage…let me just say that there are exceptions to this model: in the life of the single person, the Christian marriage where this does not play out, due to a desire for a more equal partnership, and yes, the same-sex relationship. The man may be the head of the household, but Paul seems to be speaking about much more than that, saying that “Christ is the head of the man, and the man is the head of the woman.” To not strictly adhere to this model, I believe does not constitute something that is immoral. We all have our own relationship with God personally, and as I understand God’s plan, He works through all of us as we avail ourselves, and as He pleases.

      As to the complementary balance of the soul of the male and female that you are speaking of…it is evident in God’s creation that all men and all women are not the created the same. There can be vast differences between men and between women. Some men are much more sensitive and emotional than other men, and some women are much more dominant, or even emotionally private, as you might associate with many men. As I see this, there could be a much better match between two men or two women, than between many male/female partnerships (as the divorce rate might suggest, but I would agree that there are also other issues involved there). A complementary experience does not simply fall along gender lines, and we do not have to be opposites in every way to compliment each other in many ways. We are all people, and we are all different. What you are saying is probably true “as a rule,” but not “as a principle” across the board, which is why I believe we need to be flexible in our thinking about these things. Some people are created gay, or one might prefer to say with a homosexual orientation. I don’t believe we are in too much disagreement on this point, and though I don’t want to presume to speak for whatever your complete understanding of this may be, I believe you are a testament to this fact.

      I might add that you seem to be very satisfied in your heterosexual relationship; you obviously have an adequate supply of an intimate, physical attraction to your wife, considering that she is staying married to you, and this is obviously how God has led you…but it could not be that way for me. I have no attraction to men at all. They are fine as friends and individuals to talk to, but the concept of intimacy with a man has no appeal for me whatsoever. If I were married to a man, this would be a serious injustice to both him and to myself. Any notion of how much better heterosexual sex might be is not important to me, because it is incomparable. More personal information…there are no abuse or neglect issues for me either. I was raised in a very healthy home, and never had any abuse experience in my life. In my understanding, what God calls “ideal” and what He calls “moral” is not going to be rendered along the lines of gender on that day, but will be rendered in a different way. You are obedient to what you believe to be true, as am I, and God will be the Judge of all people.

      One thing I want to say, in defense of myself against many accusers (one not being Jim)…my understanding of this issue was not born out of any fleshly desire for sexual activities. I have always known that I was attracted to females, as of age twelve, but I never saw this as being something that would be fulfilled. I assumed that I would do what everyone else does, as a girl growing up in a small town in the 1970s. When I was 18, I felt deeply that I was called to serve God in a life of ministry. I later understood that I would not be getting married, and that there was no place for a husband in how I now saw my future, and I was very happy to realize this truth the year after I gave my life to God. I took the Bible in the same way that most people do, and this was not even a remote issue for me, or something I thought much about. I was very contented in how I understood my life and my calling from God, and the eternal rewards that would follow. I absorbed myself in His Word, and His music, and the ministries of all the great teachers.

      It was not until my early twenties that I began to listen to a lot of talk in the media about the issue and all other issues, when I heard many untruths being spoken by Christians about the issue, and sometimes what I would consider disregard and even hate for people for whom this is a reality. Being in Denver Colorado, it is a very prominent issue here, which opened my eyes to this reality as it exists for many people (though still very much a minority of course). I began to see many truths of Scripture that are not spoken of in the church, and listened to many distortions from Christians, in the media and personally, and this is where my understanding of the issue began to be formed.

      The point that I want to make here, is that I never looked at the Bible from the perspective of looking for how I might justify my desire or attraction to women. It happened quite from above, and this is what God has led me to do, to write about these truths of His Word, and His love and acceptance for His gay and lesbian children. This is a biblical explanation for how and why He will not be condemning these individuals as immoral, disobedient, and destined for hell. In answer to Sean, I’m sure many, many people would agree together that “Lynn has misinterpreted the Bible.” But the fact is that God will be the One to say who understood and who didn’t. I’ll address his post briefly in a while.

      I am writing this book and blog, for the sake of bringing out these much unanswered and ignored truths of Scripture, and I am genuinely open to being shown what anyone believes I have misstated about God’s Word. I wrote a slightly revised version of why I ended the “comments” section in my post, “A Better Method…” but I maintain my openness to the whole picture on the issue, and I will write about all that I might see in this regard. Jim, I may post your letter on my blog, with your permission of course, because I believe people who were born with a homosexual orientation should see all that can be said truthfully about the issue, in the sense of how this is to you and has worked for you, and I will work to promote the whole picture for as many people as I can reach…including reaching people for the truth of Jesus Christ and His glorious gospel, which is incomparably the most important truth of all. This presentation of the issue is the subject of many insults, and God will sort out and judge the hearts of all people. Again, biology is not rebellion, lust, or idolatry, and God loves all of His children with an infinite abundance and promise.

      Jim, please contact me through my blog if you would like, and let me know if I can use your well-written letter in my book and blog, or you can write a more complete version if you would like to contribute that way. I understand if you would rather not, but I find your story compelling and important for this study. It’s possible you’ve written something more extensive that I could read. All that may be necessary is a link to your letter on my blog, so we’ll see, but I hope to hear from you. God bless you and thank you.

      Lynn

      • Avatar

        Jim

        short reply
        Lynn,

        I could not read your whole post right now but will do so later. (I did a very quick read / scan.)

        One new thought: How exactly do you define the term “New Covenant”? I did not see that right away on your blog and feel it is crucial in your argument. What exactly did Christ do at the cross for us? I see us having a new purity and a new identity as a result of the New Covenant. How does this make something that is clearly sin acceptable? When you look at other issues the church has “changed” on over the years (such as slavery or the role of women), it does not come out of nowhere. There are some pretty strong suggestions of another option. I just don’t see that in regards to issues dealing with sexual morality. That is one topic the Bible consistently and overwhelmingly treats as wrong and harmful. To suddenly say that a same sex relationship is ok when there is not even a valid hint of this in the Bible seems questionable to me. Other than reinterpreting Romans 1, where else would you see the Bible as allowing for this exception?

        I went to your blog but didn’t see how to comment. I will look again. I would rather write something with more thought and conciseness if you want to post it or use it somewhere else. If I come up with something I will be glad to post it there.

  • Avatar

    Sean

    The Bible isn’t true?
    Lynn,

    I went into this while searching for something else entirely, but I needed a break from research so I read. I purposely went into this to try and understand your point of view and how, as a follower of Christ, that you would find it in the Bible a place where any type of a homosexual relationship would be justified, because our actions do have to be justified. But when I read down to the end of one of your posts that stated “I agree that God is ultimately responsible for these declarations, and He inspired and governed the writings of the Scriptures. I believe He allowed a misunderstanding of His judgment on this issue, for His own reasons.” So no matter what the Bible states, if you believe in something you can find justification in the matter (according to you) that God meant for there to be a misunderstanding of his Word. This is one of the most intellectually dishonest views of the Bible and God that I have ever heard. As someone else posted, you have indeed nitpicked and misinterpreted scripture, but when they were all addressed as being false you fall back on a position of saying that what God said isn’t really what He meant. If that is the case, then why choose to be religious? If your position is that of “interpretation”, then there is no point in following anything in the Bible.

  • Avatar

    John

    Lynn, thanks for the
    Lynn, thanks for the exchange. I am sorry you feel I have made unfounded statements about your beliefs. I understand that to be the nature of a back-and-forth dialogue, with both sides trying to come to an understanding but falling short in some ways each time they respond to one another. As for your disappointment in my limiting your criteria to a loving and committed relationship, I would be comfortable including the other things you list (i.e. conscience, existential relationship with God, etc.) and still made the same points. I don’t know why you wish to characterize what I have said as “condemnation,” except perhaps to victimize yourself. I disagree with you, and at the moment I would even say that I think you are wrong, though I am open to correction (I, like everyone else, has thought things to be wrong in the past that I now think to be ok). I certainly do not condemn you. I would even be willing to say that we would get along quite well in person. As for your other comments, I will give a response below to some of the points, and other than some brief future comments this will be my final extended post on the whole matter.

    1. I am not a geneticist so I can’t speak to how much we are wired at birth for certain orientations. I do believe that we are all born sinful and that there is something innately wrong with our orientations to all aspects of our future lives. As to your other comments on your first point, I think it comes down to that I think all people have the potential to change in their sexuality (in all areas, not just in terms of homo/hetero sexuality) and you do not. You feel that we all have an unchanging orientation and I do not. You feel that most people would agree with you I think the same about the opposite. I appreciate your looking for several studies as, if you recall, this was the point of my initial post on the matter.

    2-3, 5. I agree with Darrell’s comments on the specifics regarding the fuller “presentation of your beliefs” about the Bible, which he sums up saying: “Now as for condemnation. The beauty of the gospel is that grace triumphs over sin. There are thousands, I am sure, saved homosexuals. Just as there are thousands of saved liers, slanderers, greedy, etc. Many of these people struggle to overcome that for which Christ died. What is disturbing about the position you are holding to is that it fails to truly face the way God spoke about this practice. You even make a point of it in stating your personal identity (“I am a gay, born again believer myself”). I can be greedy and angry as a person, but that does not make me proud to have those qualitied in my life and I pray that God continues to work on these areas. Grace is capable of reversing and is at work on these. Your position is such that you are arguing this is not necessary in an area Scripture consistently portrays negatively. That fact alone would give me pause, if I were you, about whether my view of liberty is actually correct.” If you wish to rehash your overall arguments I will let you do that with him.

    I would only add to his statement that it is not just a practice which “Scripture consistently portrays negatively” but it is also a practice that those in the 2000 year history of Christianity have not questioned as being incorrect, and even now, your beliefs are an extremely small minority of worldwide ecumenical Christianity. I realize that you are sincere in what you think, as am I, but sincerity in the context of a relationship with God does not make one’s position correct. Clearly, one of us is sincerely wrong and only time will tell if your position is adopted by the rest of Christianity (in which case I would also adopt it) or if it will, as so many other past notions held by sincere Christians, be judged to be incorrect and outside of Christian teaching.

    4. Just because neither of us have encountered incestuous relationships in the church does not mean they do not exist. I have not doubt that a long time ago you could have made all the statements that you have never heard of someone in a homosexual relationship that also believed themselves to be Christian, and that something like that “might occur on the frequency of a serial killing.” Since homosexuality is only recently a real issue in the church you cannot say that because incest is not currently an issue that it is illegitimate to make it one. You have not really engaged this issue, and perhaps you could explain why it is so “self-explanatory.” I only bring it up because I think your same method for justifying homosexuality could be used to justify incest. Obviously, sincere Christians disagree on a number of issues and so I do not give much weight to your “instinctive” understanding.

    6. There are laws established in the Hebrew scriptures that Christians no longer follow. It is important to realize though that Christians would still want to follow the spirit of those laws even though they do not follow the laws in their wooden sense. I think you have to say this or else you will make God’s revelation in the NT in disagreement with his revelation in the OT, which then would be Marcionism. Darrell is a dispensational scholar so perhaps he has fuller thoughts on this then what I can present. However, I don’t even see this as an issue with homosexuality since it is presented as sinful in both the Old and New Testaments.

    Finally, those who believe homosexuality to be sinful do not believe it haphazardly. It is born out of a deep desire to obey God, perhaps even against some of their own sexual tendencies, which they would also believe to be rooted in their sinful nature. Again such sexual tendencies need not be limited to homo/hetero sexuality but all areas of sexuality. Also, love is not absent from those who believe homosexuality is sinful. There is a desire to love God by obeying what they believe he has told them and there is a love for neighbor in the belief that their relationship with their neighbor is best when they are obeying God.

  • Avatar

    Sean

    John:
    May I also add to

    John:
    May I also add to your response to Lynn, that in an earlier post she condemned a situation that involved adultery. For Lynn, homosexuality is ok as well as pre-marital sex…but adultery is somehow out of bounds. This is the faulty logic that I brought up with her assessment about God making the Bible to be intentionally misunderstood. with that theory, you can justify anything you want to at all and there is nothing that anyone can say contrary. When you believe in a theory that allows you to change the rules at any time for any reason, there is no sense trying to make a point to someone if they have no intention of 1)being honest 2)entering a conversation about something with an open mind, which is needed if you are looking for the truth, because life changes will have to be made. But that is not what she wants to do. She doesn’t want to do the right thing, hence her continued faulty arguments which have been dispelled by each person who has responded to her, and yet she just takes something else out of context (because the bible was meant to be misunderstood, right?) to try to defend her lifestyle which she has absolutely no intention of changing. What she wants is some kind of justification for her lifestyle and someone to say “Hey, you’re right, God didn’t really mean it. Times have changed and God wouldn’t have know that way back then.” …and other excuses that have been or will be brought up. None of it will be truth, however.
    The other problem I have with her is that of her being a false teacher because she knows that homosexuality is wrong, which is why she is trying to get someone to agree with her….validation. But the problem I have is that she is using what she thinks thinks the Bible says, which is text taken out of context, flat out wrong, or simply made up when she needs it to be…and she has put herself in a position of being a false teacher. So not only is she bringing herself down, but others as well, and that is not acceptable. I would normally be much more respectfull in others beliefs, but this person is not looking for the truth…she’s looking for someone to agree with her so she feels validated/justified with her actions.

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      To Sean
      Sean,

      Your comments about my beliefs are far from anything that I have said, so you would’ve done well to be careful before God in what you are doing, if you are going to claim to be the one speaking the truth in this conversation, because God condemns all liars. I have spoken nothing falsely about the Bible. Addressing liars is a waste of my time, but I am going to defend myself and be done with the hatefest that you are embracing for your God. To lie about people is to hate people, and what awaits liars is wrath. I’ll address your lies and your irrational statements one at a time, starting with your first letter.

      1. You have no ability to distinguish the concept of a “principle” in Scripture. The principle that I am speaking of, is that the law of God under the new covenant, in its entirety, is love. Paul explained that all that defines love is the law of God, and we are accountable to each other for nothing more. Laws are subject to new covenant principles. This is verifiable several times over. This biblical fact renders your statements about me to be false. Nothing about what I am saying places all of Scripture in a state of being dismissible. I don’t expect you to understand this, because your false statements are devoid of any spiritual understanding, reason, or discernment.

      2. Based on your statements, unless you live by all laws stated by Paul, and speak out to defend all of his laws, you will be found to be the worst of all hypocrites, because of your severe judgments which are based on many false statements. You have not engaged in the debate here, you have merely launched an attack on me. If you have a shred of integrity, explain why it is no longer a disgrace in the church today, for women to attend church and pray without their heads covered, in obedience to the explicit teachings of Paul. Explain why this is no longer a teaching in the church. This is just one example of several, but I am keeping my time spent addressing you to a minimum.

      3. For me to believe that God inspired and governed the writings of Scripture, and to believe that He allowed Paul and others to misunderstand what precisely was condemned by Him, in regards to same-sex relations, is not intellectually dishonest. It is not unreasonable to believe that His purpose was to nail down the predominance of heterosexuality for societies, and for “judgment” to fall along the lines of condemning the heart of rebellion only, which is explicitly laid out in the context of the statements. There are many compelling facts of how He purposely established His Word, which leads me to be convinced of this. This issue involves clear complexities, and God is a righteous Judge who looks upon the heart.

      4. You are claiming that I have “nitpicked” Scripture. I assume you are referring to the many laws that have no place in Christianity today. Is this what you are going to say to God about these facts that I have brought up for discussion? “She nitpicked Lord; why should I be accountable for my judgments on her, and my dismissal of laws for us?” This is concerning what your judgments would suggest you believe to be God-breathed commandments for all time. If you do not believe they are, you are speaking hypocritically. If you do believe they are, no address of commandments of God, which have been wholly dismissed by the church, should be considered nitpicking.

      5. …”but when they were all addressed as being false you fall back on a position of saying that what God said isn’t really what He meant.” I don’t believe you can show me one example where I was shown to have stated something that was false, much less “all.” If you have a shred of integrity in you, show me where what I said was shown to be false.

      Question: When God condemned a person to being stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, did He mean what He said for all time? Is this His law today? Even without the death penalty, is this His commandment today, that not one stitch of work is to be done on the Sabbath (yes, the Sabbath), and that this is disobedience to His law and of the severest of violations? When He stated the consuming of certain foods to be an “abomination,” did He mean what He said for all time? These things were explicitly stated in the New Testament to be a matter of one’s own conscience and personal relationship with God, and not subject to man’s judgment. Quite a contrast from the OT, especially considering the severity of what was stated there. You’ve placed yourself in the position of judge…I’ll be waiting for your answer.

      6. “If that is the case, then why choose to be religious? If your position is that of “interpretation”, then there is no point in following anything in the Bible.” So wisdom says, unless you embrace all of the laws of the Bible, why embrace the gospel of the one who died to save your soul? Great logic there. Truth: “Pure and undefiled religion” is to serve the vulnerable and those who are in need. It is not the commandment of Christ to live by the entirety of the Mosaic Law and the laws of Paul. As to “interpretation”…I’ll be waiting for your answers to these questions concerning God’s Word.

      Second letter.

      1. As to your first point, of course I condemn adultery. The law of God is love; adultery is a violation of love. You are saying that if you liberate anything in Scripture, something that Paul himself did, “you throw out all laws,” including the laws of love. (I’m sure you will be found to be the one with the sound logic. You reflect no spiritual understanding in your statements, or honesty.)

      2. “For Lynn, homosexuality is ok as well as pre-marital sex…but adultery is somehow out of bounds.” Not only do you not see why I would understand adultery to be sin, as if you’ve read nothing that I have written, or can’t think intelligently at all, you lie and slander boldly for your God. All liars will be condemned. I would suggest you repent of this before seeing Him.

      3. “Changing the rules at any time for any reason”…You have no sense of reason, or any concept of this from Scripture, so I won’t take the time to answer this.

      …”there is no sense trying to make a point to someone if they have no intention of 1)being honest 2)entering a conversation about something with an open mind, which is needed if you are looking for the truth” Honesty? A conversation with an open mind? I’ll be waiting for your answers to my questions.

      4. Your next statements are an ignorant judgment of my heart, my intentions, and my relationship with God. You don’t know me, and God will put you in your place before all. I look forward to it.

      5. “She doesn’t want to do the right thing, hence her continued faulty arguments which have been dispelled by each person who has responded to her” Unless you are going to run away whining…please detail for the readers where I have been shown to be presenting a patently false argument.

      6. The statements that follow this, are statements to the effect that I am “looking for someone to agree with me.” Another false and ignorant assessment, for which you will answer to God one day, where He will ask you for the foundation of your judgment. This is a study on the written Word of God. Truthfully, what I am doing is quite the opposite of what you are saying, which says a lot about where you are coming from. I’ll be surprised if you spend some time and give an answer for your beliefs and your judgments. We’ll see.

      • Avatar

        bock

        To Sean and Lynn–and to Richard dlb

        Sean and Lynn: You are both close to crossing the line of respect to each other in treating motives and invoking God’s judgment as if you each know what is taking place. I may not approve future posts on this topic if it continues. Keep the argument on topic and the biblical texts and let God handle motives and judgments.

        To Richard, simply thank you for your honesty.

        dlb

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          Lynn

          To the readers and Bock
          Dr. Bock,

          You’re right, and I apologize to you for answering Sean’s accusations against me in such a direct manner. His letter contains no biblical argument, but is nothing more than an attack on me, and a false and baseless one at that. I stand by what I have said about his words…but it serves no purpose to have actually said it. It does more to place me in the category of what you are speaking of here, at least in how it comes across, than it does any good for this truth that I have every reason to believe God has led me to write about. There is a big difference between where I am coming from in my letter, and where he is coming from, because I am defending myself against false accusations. He is also stating that I have been “shown” to be speaking falsely about the Bible, as if to say it makes it true. What I am speaking about is biblical truths, and an interpretation on what I believe was intended in the statements regarding same-sex relations, which is exactly how I have presented myself.

          I’ll write a little more about my beliefs about the writings of Scripture on your blog, if you allow me to, but it will not be in a personal dialog with any individual who speaks hatred through false and baseless allegations about my heart, my intentions, and my personal relationship with God. I will, however, still be interested in whatever Sean has to say in regards to where I have been shown to be speaking falsely in any way, and the other questions that I asked of him.

          To Richard…I do not disagree that the Bible presents homosexuality as sinful, but there is more to all that God presented in His Word, than to take this in what I believe to be a manner that looks at passages standing by themselves. The Bible that God gave to us is not Dick and Jane, for lack of a better comparison, and many gay and lesbian believers, who love God with all their hearts, do not share your conviction about the Bible’s meaning on the issue. Indoctrination is likely the difference in regards to our consciences, and I do not find that this law is written on my heart, nor are many other laws of Scripture. When God said, “I will make a new covenant, and I will write My laws on their hearts.” (Hebrews 8:9-11)…He clearly did not write the body of the Mosaic laws on our hearts. What is written on my heart, though, is a confirmation from the living God on how I have understood His Word, regardless of anyone else’s belief about me. He is first in my life. You speak your own conviction, and you are entitled to that; I don’t believe it is a proven truth, any more than it is a fact that people who eat pork are committing an abomination, or people who work on the Sabbath are worthy of death in God’s eyes. True, these specific things were addressed in the New Testament as having liberty applied to them, but it is quite a contrast from the severity that God spoke of in the Old Testament, to have this liberated. This and many other biblical truths are compelling to me…only God can decide what people are accountable to have understood in regards to these truths and this issue, but He will never endorse anyone who lies.

          Dr. Bock, again, I profoundly apologize to you and to your readers. I ask that you try to understand why I answered the way I did. I came here for a Bible-based discussion, and nothing is more difficult to listen to than lies about oneself. Thank you again for hosting a discussion here, and I appreciate your requirements. Anything more that I write will be kept brief, and will not be an attempt to present my entire argument. I feel that I’m almost finished here. Jim, I’ll be writing a new edition of my book, and I would like your perspective and experience to be present in it, if you will allow it. Please contact me by email through my blog, if you want to and if you’re reading this, although I no longer allow comments there, and it is now only an examination of writings from the Web. Sorry, I don’t seem to know how to be real brie

          Lynn

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            Lynn

            last note to John
            John, I’ll give you my response to your comments, and this will wrap up my side of our dialog here on Bock’s blog.

            1. I suppose it is easy to misunderstand people’s beliefs that you do not agree with…but personally, I do think you could try a little harder to accurately represent the beliefs of the person you are disagreeing with. Saying things like “you appear to be cutting out all things that sound like law”…I don’t believe is trying very hard to be accurate or fair in the dialog. This teaching is not about “anarchy.” The law of God is all that defines “love,” which encompasses quite a few laws. Read again Romans 13:8, and there are several other passages that also speak of this truth. This is not a “subjective sensation of speaking before God in the light,” this is a principle of Scripture, and is the foundation of this teaching.

            Saying that I claim that “the Bible does not condemn homosexuality” is also something that is an unjustified statement, if you are making an effort to understand my beliefs with some depth and honesty. This is something that I have addressed in my ebook in regards to people who make this statement, which I do not agree with, and it is a misconstrual of what I have spoken about here. (1) The Bible condemns many things that are not laws in the New Testament or in the church today. (2) Paul showed himself to be capable of associating certain activities with a godless character, in ways that would not prove to be true when viewing the bigger picture. Also, his words do not have the type of witness that the words of Jesus have from God, and we do need to be discerning about some of his statements, in my belief.

            2. In regards to your argument about incest…you started out speaking about my belief as reflecting a criteria of “loving and committed,” and when I tell you that there is more to the criteria than that, you seem to be saying that you would have the same problem with this teaching, basically no matter what I present the criteria to be.

            Let me just bring out this element: One of the important aspects of the foundation for this liberty, is the principle of “reason.” Much to the disagreement of many people, this is a principle of Scripture. We see it in Mathew 12 for example. We also see the necessity for reason in some of the statements of Paul, in my view. “Reason and discernment” would not permit what you are speaking about. John, in answer to your statements about the unreliability of “instinct” and “differences in beliefs”…this is not an area of disagreement in the church! If you are still concerned that this teaching could be used that way, my answer to that is that I am no more responsible for a misuse of this teaching, than God would be for a misuse of His words in the Bible (e.g. killing for sin), which could be misused very easily. He expects something more from people. His law is written on the heart, and it would be between God and the individual. If an individual sears their conscience (the law written on the heart), this does not constitute escaping judgment.

            3. My reference to “condemning statements” was merely a statement of fact. You started out speaking about your abundantly open mind to all things related to sexuality, and then it later became clear that you condemn homosexuality. Clarifying that is all that I was intending. The definition of “condemning” is “to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; indicate strong disapproval of; censure.” I don’t know why people have trouble embracing this as a simple statement of truth. You condemn homosexuality, plain and simple. So, no, I was not trying to “victimize” myself. Dr. Bock condemns homosexuality also. This is not a statement that he is a harsh judge of people; it is simply a factual statement of his heart-felt conviction. I wouldn’t have written to his blog if I felt victimized by this belief.

            4. As to your statements regarding changing your sexual orientation: I believe, frankly speaking, you have made arrogant statements, claiming that you know more about people than they know about themselves. Gender is a strong part of desire, and this is not something that many people would want to change. I am speaking about how I know it is for myself, and I know it is this way for very many people. You claim that all people can change, and the very few who believe they couldn’t, lack introspection, so they really could in your view.

            Also, you misstate my beliefs here again. I haven’t said or even suggested that “no one can change their sexual orientation.” If you want to read back on the dialog, you will see that I said the opposite for people for whom it is not rooted in their makeup. I also believe many people could discover themselves to be bisexual, depending on how they view societal or religious expectations, which I wrote about in my book. I’m not one of those people.

            You have either discovered yourself to be potentially able to be with a man, and enjoy it as much as being with a woman, or you are speaking untruthfully in trying to make a point based on your religious beliefs. Only you know the answer to that. The fact that you say you could change in “all ways” sexually, I’m not going to address in detail. I don’t think, whether you are a born-again Christian or not, that is a healthy way of thinking. You are alluding to all kinds of wickedness as a possibility in your being. I think you are merely trying to assert your belief that the gay person can change. Regardless, descending into debauchery and wickedness is not and could not be in me, because of love for God and people.

            5. As far as reiterating Dr. Bock’s statement about grace and condemnation…I don’t disagree that people who repent of sin are acceptable to God. It’s a little off any point that I am making. Also, I disagree that it is a very small minority of Christians who accept homosexuality, and who feel that it has been misunderstood. I can’t recall the figures right now, but it is not a “very small minority.” I find it strange that you would accept it, if the rest of Christianity accepts it.

            As far as speaking about how “facing the way God has spoken about the practice”: Basic logic tells me that, if God has addressed several things with severity, and changed the very nature of how these things are understood and applied in the church, this places laws subject to consideration of the intention and applicability of laws. This involves a meaningful set of criteria, as to His intentions for His people, and I believe it is not the open-and-shut issue that people claim that it is. With the law being restricted to all that defines love, as expressed by Paul, and many other compelling facts of the Bible and the issue, I do believe many people have not considered the potential for liberty on this issue, in relationship to the realities of how God has established His Word and the principles of the new covenant. He is a God of the heart.

            6. “Following the ‘spirit’ of the Mosaic Laws”…is very far removed from the letter of those laws. This is not how we follow Christ, with any kind of practicality in the least. If it were, I would be following all of them. Also, the church does not follow all that is presented as the law, on the basis that it is in both the Old and New Testaments, or it would be forbidden for women to speak in a church service. (1 Cor. 14:34,35) The principles that I have brought out still establish liberty for the gay person in my view.

            7. Your last point addresses the fact that, people who believe homosexuality is wrong, do so out of love for God and a desire to obey Him. For very many people, I have no doubt that this is true. And His commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. That is the law that Christ gave. It is not based on the entirety of the Law. His law is written on our hearts. My beliefs are not born out of something less than a desire to obey Him.

            I am speaking the truth before God and people, of my love for God and desire to not fall short in any way: All of these truths make it difficult for me to simply accept that the issue is as it may appear at face-value in the Bible. In the way that God has established His Word, it does not work to take passages standing by themselves. It is not about simply dismissing things; it is about looking at and considering the whole picture, and considering all principles of Scripture. I have every reason to believe that Paul did not fully understand the issue. If someone says there is no element of “interpretation” in how we understand God’s Word, I believe they are either not honest, or they haven’t actually read the Bible. That is why I have explored why it seems so abundantly clear to many other people, and what exactly is their answer to what I see as these compelling truths of both the Bible and the issue itself. People will speak against my beliefs, and some will judge me in a manner that is accusatory against my heart and intentions, but it is God that I live for, and it is for Him that we seek to understand what His will is for our lives.

            I’ve taken up more than my share of space here, which I didn’t intend, but I felt that some things needed to be answered. I’ll be writing only a few more things and be finished here. Thank you for the dialog, John, and take care.

            Lynn

  • Avatar

    John

    Lynn, I will try and briefly
    Lynn, I will try and briefly address your points

    1. I do the best I can to understand where you are coming from. Ultimately I am not you and so I try and understand you from my frame of reference. I am sure you feel misunderstood at times, as do I, and I assure you that it is not malicious on my part. I do not pour over your comments for hours but read it once and write a response. I am a very busy person, as I am sure you are as well, and so I will probably never try and set your blog posts in the greater context of your thoughts that are laid out in your e-book. I think this is how blogging works, being a rather informal dialogue, and so I think you have to expect not to always be understood quite in the way you would like to be. As to your points about Paul and Jesus, (1) given the fact that Jesus was a traditional first century Jew I have little doubt that he would have thought the very act of homosexual behavior to be immoral in that it violates God’s purpose for his creation. (2) Certainly within Christian belief you cannot draw a line between Paul and Jesus. I know this sort of thing happens in academic circles all the time, but it has never held a place in Christian confession.

    2. Why is homosexual activity so much more reasonable than incestuous activity? I agree with you that the church believes incest to be immoral. However, the vast majority of worldwide ecumenical Christianity also believes homosexuality to be immoral. It seems to me that most of Christianity feels both incest and homosexuality to be immoral and thus unreasonable.

    3. Having an open mind does not mean you have no opinions about anything. I only means that you are willing to change those opinions. It means that you are willing to be convinced you are wrong. I do think that the act of homosexuality is immoral, but I am open for correction. I feel that not making yourself vulnerable to another point of view is a bad ethic of listening and thus sin. I often feel that the word “condemn” is used in these sorts of discussions about the person rather than the activity. Of course I would condemn the act of homosexuality as I would any other sin, but since I am a sinner I would never condemn the person committing the sin. Thus, I believe I can separate you from your homosexuality…I know you disagree with this, but I think it is important for you to know that in my mind I do not condemn you.

    4. Again I, like you, can only speak from their own perspective. I only developed a stronger opinion that people can change in their sexual desires (over a very long period of time) after having the conversation with many of my peers and them agreeing. Perhaps unlike yourself, I do believe that I am capable of almost any sin, which I why I, like everyone else needs the assistance of God’s Spirit to stay where I should be sexually in all ways. I could never make your statement: “descending into debauchery and wickedness is not and could not be in me.” I believe that even now as a Christian it is possible for me to sin against God, and I think I would be a fool to underestimate the extent of that sin.

    5. Truth in Christianity has always been based on ecumenical agreement guided by God’s Spirit. That is how we even have the ecumenical canon, creeds, etc. So of course, hypothetically speaking, if worldwide Christianity believed something to be true, I would also hope I would believe it. As for your other comments, God is a God of the heart, but God knows our hearts. We all have hearts which deceive us in various ways. Very well intentioned people sometimes believe and do very bad things. As a Western person, I would like to accept homosexuality as correct because then I would fit in with the rest of my Western culture, but I feel inhibited from doing so by the Christian tradition. In other words, my thoughts about homosexuality have not been made without thought.

    6. Well I think you should follow the “spirit” of the Mosaic law. It is the same God. As far as women go, this is another discussion because Biblical trajectories for women are much more liberating than those for homosexuality, which tends to be addressed as statically immoral. On another note, I might add that most Christians still do not condone women taking certain positions (all Roman Catholics, Easter Orthodox, and most Protestants outside the Western world).

    7. I realize you have a confirming feeling in your heart about your position on homosexuality. However, for me the overwhelming weight of biblical evidence and Christian tradition (which has interpreted the Biblical evidence as you are trying to do) is against your position. Almost 2000 years of Spirit filled interpreters of the Bible have come down against you and the majority still do today. I am sure we will be in heaven together and I would love to be on the same side of other arguments with you (perhaps against people who discredit the resurrection or something like that), but on this one I have to remain as I am.

  • Avatar

    Sean

    Lynn:
    I am completely

    Lynn:

    I am completely capable of having a Biblical discussion. However when the person I am going to discuss it with believes that God intended the Bible to be misunderstood, then there really is not point since every passage can be made to say what you want. If you can get past that dishonest approach to studying the Bible, let me know.
    When I study the Bible, I don’t look for excuses or loopholes to try and justify any sinful actions. I study and pray and make an effort to be aware and avoid those actions. If it is an environment that spurs an action, then I would remove myself from that environment. What I don’t do is say that this is just who I am or this is how I was made, and then try to study the Bible from that perspective. I study to understand what I am and am not supposed to be doing, not by what I want to believe, but by what the Bible actually says. Part of that include studying and understanding the context of the time and the culture.

    You do not have to spout book chapter and verse to have a basic understanding of the Bible. For example, if I were to believe that God meant for the Bible to be misunderstood, how am I supposed to know what parts are true and which are false? Because for someone to make a statement that is meant to be misunderstood is essentially a lie. No need to look that up in the Bible…Webster perhaps. Do you understand where I am coming from?

    Let me put it another way. Suppose you are studying the Law and you are studying the Rules of Evidence. But your professor tell you there are rules that don’t really mean what they say, but nobody knows which ones. How is a courtroom to conduct itself then? The prosecution will say that a particular rule means one thing, but then the defense can claim that it means something else entirely. In that instance you have taken a set of well thought out rules and made them meaningless because they are now open to interpretation. At that point, it would be imossible to carry out court proceedings and criminals can do as they choose because the system is now meaningless and there is no fear of punishment.

    God wants us to go to Heaven. God is perfect. God would not make the rules that he gave to us not understandable. You cannot have a discussion with Biblical content if the person believes that Word is deceiving.

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      To John and Sean
      A few more comments for John, out of the necessity for clarity and the pursuit of truth.

      It may be an informal dialog, but it is an important discussion, so every effort should be made for not only accuracy in what you are disputing, but an actual address of the issues raised here. On several counts, the way you represent my position is contrary to what I have specifically said. What an involved science it would be, to lay out all of the ways various components of my belief can be misrepresented, which is why I ended the comments section of my blog…but I am willing to carry out the discussion here until some clarity has been reached. I consider misrepresentations of my statements and my beliefs sufficiently addressed.

      I will be looking for specific answers from both yourself and Sean, in order to bring some clarity to my actual position, which you have both avoided. Maybe you don’t have a position on the complexities of Scripture. I’ll get to Sean’s comments in a minute, and address John a little further first.

      It seems to me that Jesus spoke beyond the parameters of traditional Jewish thinking. This a significant truth about His teachings, which is seen in several ways. I won’t elaborate on this, other than to say that He raised eyebrows on several occasions in speaking the pure truth of God. The law that Jesus promoted was limited to the Ten Commandments, and the Two Commandments concerning loving God first and loving your neighbor as yourself, not the entire body of Mosaic laws. I see Jesus as being compassionate and loving people, also as speaking things that people would not expect. He did say that not a stroke or letter of the Law will be removed, until a particular event had been accomplished, and this event has now been accomplished. The law of God is now explicitly stated to be love, in its entirety. Here are a few biblical truths and reinforcements for my belief:

      (1) We are not under the Law; (2) The law forbidding same-sex relations is not part of the T.C. and it could easily have been; (3) Jesus did not speak against same-sex relations, which He could’ve done, in light of the realities of the issue and the future controversy; (4) There is no importance stated in the Book of Revelation, regarding the concept of “the order of the genders.” None of this matters to the ecumenical, traditional Christian belief, but it speaks a great deal to this complex issue in the family of God.

      You are saying that there is no line to be drawn between Paul and Jesus? My question to you–aside from mentioning the fact that Jesus is the Lord, and Paul is a mere man–where do you find this substantiated in Scripture, as borne witness to by God? I see God bearing witness to His Son in many ways. I see a witness upon Paul, but not in the manner that you are speaking of. So I don’t see a biblical basis for taking Paul’s words as the words of Jesus Christ, with no reason or discernment needed, nor do I see this supposed belief of ecumenical Christianity carried out in the church. Based on this truth, his culturally-based teachings are subject to these principles that I mentioned, which we also do see in the practice of the Christian faith, but not talked about much or established as being based on principles of liberty.

      In answer to your question about incest: There is no compelling reason for the acceptance of relations between family members. The issue of homosexuality does have compelling truths, that have evolved in humanity and emerged at some point in history. That is why there is disagreement amongst good-hearted believers in the Lord about the issue. That is why it is considered unreasonable by many, to require gay people to be straight or to be celibate, and to believe that these truths of the issue mean nothing to a kind, compassionate, and reasonable God.

      I guess we’ll have to disagree on this next point…there is much wicked behavior that I could never engage in. I’m quite capable of failing, but not in all ways. I live in Christ, have love and empathy for other people, and I fear God. Jesus was tempted in all ways, as we are, and the ways that we are tempted are not in all things. He was not and could not be tempted in all things, only the things that He could be tempted in was He tempted in, having to do with weakness of the flesh. This is how I personally understand our good Lord.

      Next point: “Truth in Christianity has always been based on ecumenical agreement guided by God’s Spirit.” It’s easy to state a simplistic version of what we believe in. The core of our beliefs is the same, regarding who Jesus Christ is, and our need for Him. When it comes down to specific laws of the Bible and the practice of the faith…we don’t practice what we claim to be true, if we are stating Paul’s words to be the words of Christ. What is God’s Spirit on these things? It’s probably best that we don’t talk about it, thus “agreement” in the church does not necessarily establish “truth.” And agreement is not going to grant an individual a place of honor in God’s kingdom.

      I agree that our hearts can deceive us in many ways. This has been brought before God well, and examined thoroughly in light of the whole picture of God’s Word. So, no, it is not about a “confirming feeling.” It is all well-reasoned, and based on many truths. You don’t have to believe this. You are entitled to believe that God despises all intimate, same-sex relationships. The point is that our accountability is to God, and to do no harm to our neighbor. Beyond this…I believe we are to mind our own households and our own relationships with God. People are entitled to voice their beliefs, but there is much that they have ignored, and their position does not have nearly the strength that they believe it has in my view.

      The Mosaic Law established an “image” of holiness, largely speaking, in my understanding, and I do follow the spirit of the Law. “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

      As far as your statement about “Biblical trajectories for women”…I’m not following your point. Paul was very clear about the limitations to be placed on women, and how he expected them to conduct themselves in regards to the things that I’ve mentioned.

      “However, for me the overwhelming weight of biblical evidence and Christian tradition (which has interpreted the Biblical evidence as you are trying to do) is against your position. Almost 2000 years of Spirit filled interpreters of the Bible have come down against you and the majority still do today.” And it has been very easy for them to do this on the subject of same-sex relationships. It doesn’t prove that they represent the heart of God on the matter. The way He established His Word provides for this understanding of the issue. He is a God of the heart, meaning that it is the heart that He looks upon, which man cannot see.

      Sean: I’ll be giving my final comments at some point in this discussion, and this will address your statements: “The Bible is not true?” and my supposed “dishonest approach” of how it seems to me that God will be addressing this issue, which I am also addressing in this letter.

      In the mean time, I’ll address your comparison between the Bible and how we must view the laws of the land, and then I’ll ask you a question about your understanding of the Bible.

      Simply put…the laws of the Bible, and the law of the land, are two very different concepts. Is this an opinion that I have derived for my own purposes, or is this abundantly, undeniably provable in Scripture? It is provable, and it is the Bible that God has given to humanity. This will be a time-consuming task, but I will have to in time, for the sake of this study, count how many laws in the Bible we do not find in the function of the Christian faith. The law of the land functions in a much different way.

      In claiming that this is very clear and not subject to discussion, on the basis that God would not allow something to be, in truth, not as it appears in the Bible (which He did even within the context of the Bible itself, regarding foods and days of the week)…I believe you are working to maintain what is a patently false belief, that the Bible is or contains a simple set of laws, which represent inherent truth, and will remain authoritative until the end of time. In doing so, you believe that it is you who is speaking the truth about the Bible. You also believe it is you who is speaking the truth, while putting yourself in the place of God, though judging my heart falsely, and speaking falsely about me in other ways. So, because it is you who speaks truthfully, and not me, you will not simply state where you claim that I have been shown to have spoken falsely.

      Questions for both John and Sean: (1) Why is it no longer a “disgrace” for women to attend church, and pray without their heads covered? Is this not the command of Christ, being spoken by Paul? (2) Why is it not a compromise of her glory and her covering to wear her hair short? Does not nature teach that it is? (3) Why is it not a teaching of Christianity today, that women are not to speak in church? I’ve never seen this carried out in a church, or taught as the truth of God. (4) Why is it not taught that a man may keep his virgin daughter unmarried if he so chooses? (5) Why is it not a teaching of Christianity that a woman may not wear gold, pearls, braids in her hair, or expensive dresses? Is this not what the ungodly women do? (6) Why is it not a teaching of Christianity that tattoos are forbidden? (7) Why is it not taught that a farmer is to leave his entire crop for the poor every seventh year? (8) And lastly, the fact that God set up laws in the Old Testament that had the “death penalty” and the word “abomination” attached to them, and in the New Testament, these things are explicitly stated to be not a law of God, and required of His believers…does this make God a liar? He is the same God, but laws have changed, and do not necessarily represent inherent truth. John 1:17.

      As to the idea that “it is all very clear,” and God did not intend for one person to understand things one way, while another person understands things another way…what is the meaning of all that is spoken of in Romans 14? It may not be a thing of grace, but we are having a fact-based debate about the Bible…I believe I’ve proven you wrong here again. Differences of interpretation are clearly part of the plan of God, based on the realities of how He established some complexities in His Word. It does not subject everything to interpretation by any means. It does subject some things to interpretation, and there is much to be said about the context of the passages that address this issue, the question of the blanket authority of laws, and the truth that some laws did not represent inherent truth, but were stated within a particular context, and for a particular purpose to be fulfilled.

      Sean, your own words: “I study to understand what I am and am not supposed to be doing, not by what I want to believe, but by what the Bible actually says. Part of that include studying and understanding the context of the time and the culture.” I’ll leave that alone, but I just wanted to repeat your words here.

      This understanding did not come about from what I wanted to believe, and it is based on many verifiable truths. These truths are the focus of this discussion. It is somewhat intense, but it is important to scrutinize the truths of the Bible and the issue, because of the judgment of people who see and use the Bible in a very selective manner. Many people see these truths, and will have no part of condemning the innocent, because some people were born gay and this is evident in God’s creation of humanity. “Rebellion of heart,” which is clear in the context of the biblical statements, is not the same as an individual’s “biological and psychological makeup.” How a person lives is what constitutes their “lifestyle.” The gender of one’s partner does not speak to lifestyle, but is simply a component of their relationship.

      I will be very interested in your answers to my questions. If you can make a judgment on a person or their beliefs, you should be willing to explain why their beliefs do not hold water in your view, in response to the basis for their beliefs. I’m open to being shown where I have misstated anything about the Bible or the issue, as I have said.

      • Avatar

        John

        Lynn,
        Unfortunately I do not

        Lynn,

        Unfortunately I do not have time to continue this conversation. If you want something of my own take on women’s issues, I would largely agree with Webb’s work, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals. On the point between Jesus and Paul, Christian belief is that God has equally inspired the words of the gospels as well as the epistles. The earliest Gospel (Mark) was written at least 30 years after Jesus and there is much theological reflection that has gone into the writing, which has then effected how Jesus is presented. In other words the gospels are not some video recording of Jesus but are edited according to the theology of the writer. That Jesus is not listed in the gospels speaking about homosexuality is more reflective of the community of the gospel writer than of Jesus himself. Paul is also influenced by Jesus traditions (and his writings are earlier than Mark so you could even say that he is closer to Jesus), but he is not as explicit about them. Bottom line, both the gospels and the epistles are influenced by the impact left by the historical Jesus. Christian belief is that God has equally inspired both of them.

        John

        • Avatar

          Lynn

          last answer to John
          John, I don’t know why you’re speaking of “women’s issues,” this is about the Word of God, which is all of our issue, and that seems to be making the debate something other than about the Word of God.

          I believe God inspired the writings of Paul, but some things appear to be only to the people of his time, and need to be viewed discerningly. Some of Paul’s writings also show that he was capable of speaking in a limited manner on some things, while applying significant words of judgment, which could not be said to be complete and true in all settings. You seem to be in disagreement with this, but it is hard to tell because you declined to touch on answering the questions. (Your statement about the absence of a reference to Jesus’ words on the subject is purely an opinion, and God governed how His Word was established.) It is still a fact that Paul was a mere man, though anointed by God for the work of his calling, and my accountability is much more to the words of Jesus Christ, about whom God said: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased…listen to Him! My accountability is also for what is written on my heart. It is easy for you to say that the words of Paul have the same authority as Jesus to the church today, but I don’t see this belief practiced in Christianity, so it would fall into the category of “You honor Me with your lips and not your hearts.” (Matt. 15:7-9)

          If I believe something is a commandment of God, which is God-breathed and is for all time, it is His will for my life. This is how our consciences work in our accountability to God. I am honest about liberty in my life. If the mainstream church doesn’t want to admit to having applied “reason” to some of these statements of Paul, and that they are “discerning” the meanings of things, and the true essence of righteousness and the will of God in their understanding, and that Paul may have spoken on some occasions from his experience and knowledge of his culture…there is an inconsistency between what they say and what they do, and we all know what that means. And they maintain their claim, to the condemnation of good people who love the Lord.

          This is simply an honest and reasonable approach to understanding God’s Word and His will for our lives (though it is easier to simply agree upon a claim and not live by it). The greater principles of Scripture speak much more to His will for my life, and I won’t have any part of lip service to God.

          Maybe the church has fallen short in not teaching all that Paul taught as the commands of Christ today, based on the blanket authority you believe Paul was given by God, which your beliefs suggest is to be carried out regardless of our understanding or any other facts for consideration…but for some inexplicable reason, this hasn’t been done.

          I accept the teachings of Paul as God-breathed, and there are many treasures of wisdom and knowledge…but what appear to be culturally-based instructions, or acceptable based on the cultural beliefs of his time, or something that is heavily steeped in an explicit context (or lightly), I believe is subject to question and discernment, plain and simple. I live by what I claim to believe. Thanks John.

          Lynn

  • Avatar

    John A

    Experience of Christ
    I’m interested in hearing more from people like Jim who said he is attracted to men but has married a woman. I value his honesty, because the people I have known who were strongly inclined towards same-sex relationships and are now married tend to claim that their same-sex attractions are gone or greatly diminished.

    Don’t bisexual people feel sexual urgings for men and for women? Given the choice, I can see why many would choose to marry a woman: among non-Christians it’s a more conventional and acceptable lifestyle and many Christians view marriage as the only moral life-relationship.

    Like Jim, I was raised in a Christian home. When at puberty I discovered my attractions to be exclusively homosexual and contrary to my beliefs, I simply went into hiding until finally revealing this truth about myself to friends and parents at age 18.

    At age 20 I entered therapy with a Christian counsellor, and continued weekly sessions with only Christian counselors for about five years. One, who was head of counseling at a prominent Bible church with strong links to Dallas Theological Seminary, ended our sessions — saying, if I can interpret him correctly, that he felt I was healthy enough to make my own decisions regarding my sexual behavior.

    During at least three of those years I faithfully attended a Christian group for men seeking to reverse their homosexual feelings or avoid homosexual behavior. I had never had any sexual contact with a person of the same sex but hoped to eliminate or control what I felt to be a strongly homosexual orientation.

    As you might imagine, this orientation never changed. My assurance of Christ’s love for me also remained intact through some very dark times when I felt my faith and my sexuality to be irreconcilable. Still not sexually active but seeking a group of believers where I would feel less crushing pressure, I started attending an Episcopal church.

    At first I was very uncomfortable with the kneeling, weekly communion, and women preaching: all the trappings, I believed, of error and idolatry. But I found believers who removed from me any pressure to change. That alone has eliminated — for the last 15 years — any serious depression and battles with suicidal feelings that I had faced before when I adamantly believed that my homosexual feelings were wrong. Further sadness was caused by believing that my problems had their genesis in weak parenting.

    It forced me to question the goodness of people I loved. My mother had never seemed domineering or my father distant. But a non-Christian theory had me convinced that they somehow had been — and had in reality caused me no end of suffering, when I could have been happily married by that time.

    Even worse, it seemed my parents had done this completely by mistake. Could you mar someone’s life just by carelessness? This didn’t ring true.

    I spent a good deal of time grappling with the Scriptures. Let me say now that if Lynn has indeed stated that she believes that the NT does not condemn faithful same-sex relationships, I agree with her (I only read enough to discover that it was claimed she said that; I did not read her actual words). With all respect, it doesn’t matter what other people think. I am the one who has to answer to God for my life.

    Starting in the OT, I don’t accept the story of Sodom as condemning faithful same-sex relationships because the men of Sodom threatened homosexual rape. Further, Lot offered them his daughters as if heterosexual activity might satisfy homosexual desires. Clearly, something else was going on.

    What used to be translated “sodomite” in the King James Version is in newer translations made out as “temple prostitute” or “male prostitute.” I can accept that sexualized worship is immoral. Perhaps Dr Bock can explain more about other OT references to homosexuality and proper translations.

    Homosexuality was an abomination to God. My Bible also calls lobster an abomination. So the forceful words alone don’t mean God rejects it for all time. He wanted to build a nation of His chosen people. Homosexuality does not increase population.

    Skipping over Romans, I struggled with I Cor 6:9 where both malakos and arsenokoites are mentioned in the list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Malakos is translated “soft,” “effeminate,” etc. Arsenokoites is translated “homosexuals,” “offenders of themselves with mankind,” among others. A transliteration is “male bed offender.” If I’m not mistaken, the word is never repeated in the NT or any other known writing.

    If Paul intended to make it clear that all homosexual behavior was wrong, why did he specify two sorts of homosexuals? Instead, isn’t he condemning a specific behavior? To us, it might not be clear exactly what it is because we aren’t even sure how to accurately translate the words. Dr Bock may say otherwise.

    It’s easy to simply conculde that Paul is condemning both the passive and the dominant partner in homosexual activity. But why on earth would he go into such lurid detail? No one who condemns the sex trade specifies that prostitutes *and* their customers are both wrong. If you think abortion is a sin, there’s no need to point out that both the women who receive them and the doctors who perform them are both committing murder.

    I’ve always concluded (and I am sure that that Dr Bock has heard this many times) that the Apostle Paul was only condemning the prevalent and extreme homosexual activities of the Roman Empire, namely pederasty, the practice of men taking boys as lovers as an alternative to their wives. This, for me, could explain what Paul calls “exchanging the truth of God for a lie.” Men left their wives to spend time sexually abusing young boys. Their wives, perhaps out of frustration or sheer boredom, found girlfriends. I can agree with anyone who condemns this.

    Another question has bothered me. Why did Paul mention homosexuality so rarely? Why didn’t he cover it in every letter to close off any debate? Were no Philippians involved in homosexual relationships, or did Paul, by not mentioning it in his letter to them, just assume they knew it was wrong? Surely not every Christian could read all of Paul’s letters as they circulated among the early churches.

    Weren’ t there *any* gay Philippians who needed condemning? There seem to be many gays who need condemning by followers of Paul today.

    If the NT does condemn homosexuality without exception, then I’ve made a mistake. My male partner of seven years and I still go to church every Sunday. I see my faith as an indispensable part of my life and Christ as my savior. If others think I’m wrong, I must disagree. It is God and not other people who will finally and fully confirm who is right and wrong. I have made my choice in faith and will answer for it. I trust God.

    The idea of this discussion is good, but some of the responses remind me why Evangelical groups are no place for a person who has trouble maintaining an Evangelical view of what it means to live rightly. How wonderful it would be if we could leave it at the question: “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your savior from sin?” I could answer yes. But in the Evangelical tradition, more questions and seeming demands inevitably come if you want to stay in the club.

    We can debate head covering and adultery: but if participants in this discussion want to condemn homosexuality while attending churches where women’s heads go uncovered, and while they fraternize with those who are divorced and remarried who are arguably adulterers, I will find it all too easy to dismiss the hypocrisy in it.

    Dr Bock, it is true that it is a non sequiter to say that a person who is wrong in one area is wrong in all, but I believe that the spirit of dealing with homosexuals in the Evangelical church is what Lynn was trying to plead for. And I do find it hard to listen to people who dicontinue following some teachings, while with utmost strictness they uphold others.

    What is worse, no one who pays attention will listen until Evangelical believers stop debating things like headcovering and adultery and simply obey — just like they expect homosexuals to.

    In my Ryrie study Bible, the notes pointed out that the reasons for headcovering are not cultural. Christian women should do it for three powerful reasons: the order of creation, Christ’s headship and the presence of angels. This seems hard to talk your way out of, but virtually every Evangelical I know has found a way to do it.

    Likewise, thirty years ago, divorced and remarried people were considered adulterers and excluded from fellowship by all but the most liberal. Now they are part of the fellowship of all but the most conservative.

    Do you find it surprsing then that people like me want the same kindness from our fellow believers? I think that is what this debate is about. Few Evangelicals offer this.

    John A

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      What the Bible says
      I just want to clarify what my belief is about the New Testament statements on the subject.

      John A, you said: “Let me say now that if Lynn has indeed stated that she believes that the NT does not condemn faithful same-sex relationships, I agree with her.”

      I’ll quote from one of my letters: “To clarify, my belief is that homosexuality being spoken of as condemned, is stated within an expressed context, and is related to the sinful qualities that I have cited from Scripture. This context, Paul’s explanation of the type of person he condemned, is all prolifically there in Scripture. I didn’t make it up.”

      It would definitely be accurate to say that I do believe the Bible does not condemn the faithful, same-sex relationship, which is a broader understanding of the issue than what the Bible addresses.

      My clarification was in response to John’s statement: “Hmmm. Well I think the idea that the New Testament does not condemn homosexuality is flatly ridiculous.”

      People who speak against the belief that God does accept the faithful, same-sex relationship, tend to speak in simplistic terms about the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality, in order to make it an open-and-shut case for condemnation, and make it seem ridiculous to dispute this. People who think with a little more depth–and I’m not saying this to be insulting, because the simple version is not entirely without foundation–sometimes will say that “the Bible does not condemn homosexuality.”

      In my view, both of these portrayals of the Bible are extremes. One of my goals in how I have presented my beliefs, is to see and address the Bible for what it is actually saying. I hear what is stated about “pederasty,” the sexual abuse of young boys by heterosexual men, but I don’t see this described in the Bible. (I’m open to correction on anything I’ve said, by the way.) What I see spoken of is “sexual acts” between men and between women:

      “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Rom.1:26,27)

      Based on these words, speaking specifically about acts themselves, I don’t agree with the statement “the Bible does not condemn homosexuality.” It clearly is condemning same-sex acts. What I do say is that the bigger picture shows something much more to be considered, as is also seen in all other references to same-sex relations in Scripture. The bigger picture of the issue is also seen in viewing other biblical principles, such as the law being “fulfilled in a word” and limited to all that defines “love,” in the truest sense of the word. (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14) There are also other passages which establish liberty from adherence to the letter of the Law, in favor of the true essence of righteousness, which was spoken of by Paul on several occasions, and by Jesus.

      There is a richly described context, in and surrounding these words in Romans 1, none of which speak of pederasty, which I am not doubting was a prevalent practice of the time. What the context does speak about is “lust,” “rebellion of heart,” and “idolatry.” These three concepts are stated explicitly in this passage, and in the larger text dealing with this in Romans 1. This is a specific type of spirit, which Paul went to great lengths to describe, and does not describe all gay people or their relationships.

      In my belief, the bigger picture proves the opposite of what those who cite the simple version claim is proven, but as John A rightly noted, “With all respect, it doesn’t matter what other people think. I am the one who has to answer to God for my life.” People will feel strongly on both sides of the issue, and we will all be accountable to God as individuals.

      One clarification of a comment John A made: “Dr Bock, it is true that it is a non sequiter to say that a person who is wrong in one area is wrong in all, but I believe that the spirit of dealing with homosexuals in the Evangelical church is what Lynn was trying to plead for.”

      I apparently have issues with wanting my words and beliefs to be represented accurately. You’re correct in one sense, but I wasn’t saying that “if you are wrong in one area, you are wrong in all.”

      What was being spoken of here is the question of citing laws to speak against the beliefs of others, while it is somehow not necessary to take Scriptures in this same manner for yourselves, that speak against something that you find unreasonable to apply as it appears by the letter. What is being required of the gay believer in Christ, is that we accept these statements of Scripture, simply as it appears at face-value, with no “reason or discernment” needed. These principles are not spoken of, at least not that I have heard in all my years in Christianity, but seem to be embraced regarding several explicit instructions of Scripture in the mainstream church.

      Let me clarify that my original point was not so much about disqualifying someone from making a judgment, but to provoke thought regarding considering Scripture with a little more depth and reason, as you do for yourselves. His answer was not completely off the point, but it was a broader sense of considering how we take laws of Scripture that I was aiming at. He made the statement that, “being disobedient in one area does not disqualify a person from making a judgment in another area.”

      Though this was not a fuller address of my original point, because I don’t believe liberty in good conscience is disobedience, my answer was that Jesus spoke directly to his statement, so I’ll cite this here:

      “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:3-5)

      It is a principle of God’s Word that if you are disobedient in one area, you need to get this taken care of before speaking against someone else. My appeal is simply to consider the complexities of the Bible and its laws, and to try to strike a little more consistency in how we understand and apply the laws of Scripture. Christianity is not a religion of many laws, when it comes down to it, although the Bible is. The Bible also clarifies, with respect to this fact, that love is the entirety of God’s law. But so many find this particular law very special, and we must maintain the definition of Christianity as being “heterosexuality only,” regardless of the fact that a segment of the family of God is clearly not heterosexual in their nature. We are a new creation in Christ, and this is described well in the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:21-23)

      On another note…I appreciated the story of Jim, and yours as well. Ideally, people who were born with a homosexual orientation should have all views and life-experiences available to them.

  • Avatar

    Matt Gumm

    1 Cor 6-7
    I’m glad to see this conversation is still going on. I found myself reading in 1 Corinthians last night, and it prompted two questions I was hoping to ask you.

    1) Regarding 1 Cor 6, Lynn quoted vs. 12 to Dr. Bock. But immediately prior to that, Paul says something rather straightforward about unrighteousness. “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11; all quotations will be from the TNIV).

    Paul provides a list of things that the unrighteous do, and then he says that these things have been set aside once the Corinthians were washed, sanctified, and justified. In other words, those things are no longer the case.

    Smack dab in the middle of that is “practicing homosexuals.” Obviously, there is more than one exegetical possibility here. But if you want to argue that a person remains a homosexual, but simply stops practicing homosexuality, how does that fit with the context here? Can someone be a non-practicing drunkard or thief? Can someone remain sexually immoral, and just stop acting on the immoral thoughts? Or does his use of the word “were,” along with the statements about washing, signify that a change has taken place, and that the old is replaced by something new?

    2) Paul proceeds in chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians to provide pastoral advice regarding marriage and sexuality. He addresses several aspects here. I don’t have time to cover them all, but I do think it is important to get the thrust of his argument. Verse 2 says “But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.” He then winds his way through various issues, but his primary theme is this: it would be better to remain single, but if you cannot control your passions, you should marry. Abstinence is for single people, and marriage is the answer for those who cannot abstain. There don’t seem to be any other categories.

    My question is this: If homosexual relationships are honored by God, as has been asserted elsewhere in this thread, then where are Paul’s instructions concerning proper homosexual conduct and partner fidelity? This whole section of the letter is an outpouring of pastoral concern, trying to get people to live morally upright lives and forsake sexual immorality, yet the chapter ends without a single admonition or even a mention of the homosexual. Why is that?

  • Avatar

    John A

    One Little Word
    Lynn, thank you for the reply. We seem to be approaching the same conclusion from different angles. I would like to hear from others as well. You do definitely seem to want to have your beliefs and views represented accurately, as anyone should.

    Abiding by the law of love, many churches embrace some fellow believers who arguably in error. It’s only reasonable to hope that the embrace now extended to divorced and remarried people should be extended to people in faithful same-sex relationships. I believe they eventually will.

    Churches who notice that the congregations they now support do not fully represent a cross-section of their community because they exclude gay people will realize they are mostly reaching the converted, and start reaching the many others are interested in the faith but do not fit the Christian mold.

    Some might argue that they already accept gays, in fact they have all kinds of programs for helping them to change their orientation. But do they have groups for rebellious women who need to learn to cover their heads? Where are there repentance gatherings for people who are divorced and remarried who need to learn that their relationship is not marriage in God’s eyes?

    Lynn, Christ urges you not to throw our pearls to pigs, “because they might trample them and turn on you and tear you to pieces.” Some who are listening to your words are inclined to dimsiss you, even hurt you. Dr Bock is obviously interested and qualified to discuss these issues: but not everyone who reads his blog seems equally objective and fair.

    This is, nonetheless, an intersting discussion. Several contributors have declared no stance in their faith or sexuality, though we can read between the lines. James has made it clear he is a Christian believer who has same-sex attractions but is faithful to his wife. Richard feels called to celibacy.

    Many times I was prepared to adopt Richard’s way of life, but I could not accept his deprecating view of his sexuality. I believe, as he does, that we are all born sinners. But I have come to to the conclusion that I that not all who are in same-sex relationships, as Richard says, “idolize [them]selves and rebel against God with a most depraved sexual sin.”

    Richard pointed out that “There are thousands of Christians who struggle with this sin. How is it that most Christians do not know even one?” The answer is clear. Homosexuals are hardly seen in the Evangelical church because they are not welcome there.

    After all, why should you stay if your pastor, who is divorced and remarried and a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary tells you that a faithful same-sex relationship can in no way be part of a Christian life? Should you follow his hermeneutic to a perpetually self-condemning view that he, presumably by God’s grace, has escaped or overcome? I can only say that I didn’t approach the pastor to have this intensely personal conversation. In his church, his kind were welcome; my kind were not.

    Lynn cuts to the quick with Christ’s question about the speck in your brother’s eye. Sadly, many people don’t get it, believing that if they dont’ have a “log in their own eye” this truth doesn’t apply to them, thus, hunting for specks is a solemn duty. But isn’t the log a blinding intolerance?

    Much that is wrong in the church is built on the phrase “Love this sinner; hate the sin.”

    I would like to simply strike the second half of the phrase to align it more with the message of Christ, who said “Love thy neighbor.” Or did he say, “Love thy neighbor and hate thy neighbor’s sin”? No, something quite different: “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.” Heap burning coals on their heads.

    I’ve heard that more people have been sung into heresy than preached into it, but if I can trust the theology of Luther’s great hymn, “A Mighty Fortess Is Our God,” I’ve been curious – ever since childhood – what “little word” is referred to in this stanza:

    The prince of darkness grim
    We tremble not for him
    His rage we can endure
    For lo his doom is sure
    One little word shall fell him.

    Is “love” that little word?

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      To Matt and John A
      I’ll look upon this as an opportunity to sum up my understanding of the Bible and this issue, and leave the issue for the rest of you to discuss.

      Matt, in reference to what is stated prior to 1 Cor. 6:12, my belief is that Paul associated homosexual acts with the ungodly people he was aware of, which he described in detail in Romans 1. The only example he had to work with in his understanding of the issue were the people who were in rebellion against God. It is easy to see why he would have understood it this way, because that is all he knew about or saw, including from references in the O.T. regarding violence, promiscuity, and temple prostitution. My belief is that he did not have full knowledge of the issue as it would come to be known in the future, and as we see evidenced in the very physical and emotional makeup of many homosexual people. A person’s inherent makeup (whether it is very apparent or not) is in a different category from a heart of rebellion, lust, and idolatry, and it is the heart that God looks upon.

      The belief of “conservatives” is that this doesn’t matter, if it is even true, and these individuals are to live by the written law, regardless of their personal understanding or any other facts to be considered. Their belief is that homosexual acts are rebellion, because they go against this law of the Bible, and they cite this as proof of their belief.

      The truth is, this approach to interpreting the believer’s obligation to the laws of the Bible is not consistent with the way the Christian church understands or lives by the many Scriptural laws for themselves. It is also not consistent with the New Testament teachings regarding the believer’s obligation to the laws of Moses, as a body of laws. Laws of “morality” are not subject to liberty, because they are based on love for your fellow humanity. They are also based on “order” in society, and many of Paul’s laws that have been dismissed in the church, are adapted to our cultural beliefs and ways, and do not cause disorder in society. Same-sex relationships are absent of any evidence of harm, and therefore do not violate the law of love for your neighbor, which in my view is the only law that applies (Rom. 13:8-10), and this gender-based law is subject to the new covenant principle of “liberty” in Christ. (It is a question of what truly is moral, and what is not essential to the faith. Self-denial is a good thing, but there is a truth to be realized here.) Liberty is a component in the function of the Christian faith, but not spoken about as a doctrine that I have heard. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free…” (Gal. 5:1-3) This was regarding freedom from laws that were not the essence of truth and righteousness in themselves.

      As to verse 6:12, I believe Paul was clearly speaking of the principle of liberty, which was not a license to do whatever one wishes, but required a view to fruits of deeds and self-control. Based on what I believe is evidenced in several compelling ways, Paul had only partial understanding of the issue, and had no way of knowing that same-sex relationships could be completely absent of the sinful qualities that he saw and described, and therefore he had no way of perceiving that liberty may apply to God’s gay and lesbian children, in His great love for them. Many people will never see the issue this way, and they are entitled to their view. This is how I understand the issue, and it is God that I answer to. I believe God is testing the hearts of all people on this issue today.

      I would make the point that the homosexual person does not have their sexual orientation changed through the washing and renewal in Christ, and it is because it is not from a sinful spirit. If something is embraced in the heart, the person is guilty of the sin according to the teachings of Jesus, so they are essentially “practicing” in their hearts. (Some things this would have no application to, as you said.) I’ve heard it said that “it is acceptable to be gay, as long as one is not practicing,” but this is the only so-called sin that anyone would say this about. It doesn’t work according to the teachings of Jesus, and the gay believer would be obligated to completely renounce any identification with being gay, if you believe it is wrong.

      I’ll leave chapter 7 for someone else to address if they want to, except to say that much of this chapter of the Bible is not a teaching of the Christian church today, nor do we even encourage singleness today, much less say that you should remain in the marital status you were in at the time you were called. Marriage is the desire of the hearts of virtually all Christian people. It is a spiritual union before God in my view, and does not exclude same-sex couples.

      Sexual sins are of the most serious of all sins, because they are born out of a heart of complete indifference to God, they compromise the spiritual quality of an individual in their body, and they pose a threat to the health and well-being of the people involved.

      I would be interested in hearing from anyone who can address what I am saying thoughtfully and intelligently, in terms of the biblical doctrines and the health of society, which should be accepting and inclusive of all of its citizens (of course with the exception of criminals), as to why what I am saying is unsound in your view. Also, is “the family” strengthened, as we hear from certain politicians, by excluding its gay and lesbian members, or pretending that they are somehow not part of the families you are speaking of?

      A note to John A, the things you are speaking about concerning the church are interesting. There is sometimes a claim of “acceptance” of gay people, but the thing is you must change your sexual orientation eventually. Some have changed their behavior, therefore “gay people can become heterosexual.” There is also the false theology of “grace covering unrepentance,” which renders you acceptable, and which I don’t accept as correct theology or even close to honoring God. Grace is for a relationship with God. Another point is that there is an issue in the church with offending the majority, who are heterosexual and conservative, so it is difficult for many churches to think of pioneering this acceptance for practical reasons, as they see it I believe. I do believe the church will grow more into acceptance. It is a difficult issue, and many people are doing their best to understand, and to also embrace what they believe to be honoring God. He knows who is who, and He knows who genuinely loves truth.

      About casting pearls before swine…this was on my heart heavily the other night before reading your letter yesterday, and with thoughts about persecution. I believe I concluded by morning that this was a worthwhile debate, because the truth will shine for the faithful in Christ, when its time is due. My original intention was to discuss this only with Dr. Bock, who was indeed a respectful and phenomenal person about this, and I only hope he feels that I treated him fairly in my post on my blog. I naively thought that was the end of the discussion, but I felt that something was left sitting there that was quite bogus and needed to be addressed, and that drew me into a full-blown debate. If you check back where I reentered the discussion, you’ll see what I’m talking about. John is entitled to his beliefs, but it needed to be addressed. The rest was not good in some ways, but good in other ways, and many truths were brought out.

      John A, I believe our approaches on the issue are in a lot of agreement. The biblical addresses were regarding what the evidence shows to be something other than what we are talking about. To disregard the heart and spirit of the person, and facts of the issue, is legalism in my view. God loves His people and is a just Judge. John A, I would like to see the complete words to this hymn; you can sent it to my email through my blog if you want to. I appreciate your comments very much. I’ll be concluding my part here very soon.

      • Avatar

        bock

        To Lynn dlb

        Thanks for participating. One closing observation: Your take on Paul and his understanding is seriously flawed. Christians believe Paul writes under the inspiration of the Spirit.  So your claim Paul does not understand the realities tied to the choice of gender actually indicts God of a lack of understanding through inspiration. Chrsitians have argued inspirtation especially applies to issues of faith and pratice (and this is an area of practice). This is a major reason why people react to your view, not because they do not discuss the issue intelligently (which is a way of saying that if they do not agree with you they are not seriously engaging you- not exactly a respectful way to engage on a disagreement of how to read the text). They are addresing intelligently how Scripture is seen to function in the church. The result of the approach you take is to pick and choose within the Word what is to be responded to and what is not, reserving the right to continue to do so because there are other areas Christians do this (You may be right here about Christian inconsistency, but the way to address it is not to extend the error by handling other areas inconsistently by adding yet another area to the list). The same Paul who preached the pronciple of love you affirm also authored Romans 1. So I will hitch my wagon to the apostle and the Spirit who wrote through him.

        dlb

  • Avatar

    Matt Gumm

    Reply to Lynn
    Lynn: it appears that you are leaving soon. Dr. Bock has provided some parting thoughts; I’ll add a couple things that I hope you will consider. I urge you to pray about them, to read the Bible, and to seek godly counsel from people who are committed to the Bible being the infallible Word of God.

    The concern many here have for you is that your beliefs are not grounded in a right understanding of the Bible.

    For instance: your belief about homosexuality ignores the order of creation. God made mankind male and female. Even the body parts and reproduction testify to his plan. Further, He instituted marriage in Genesis 2 in this way: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen 2:24, TNIV). Nowhere in Scripture is there ever an indication that God’s definition of marriage is anything different that the one He instituted back in the Garden. So your idea of marriage as “a spiritual union before God that does not exclude same-sex couples” may appeal to many, but it has zero basis in Scripture.

    When we trust our beliefs over what God has revealed explicitly in Scripture, we put our own beliefs ahead of God’s revelation. In effect, we become our own god, because we ignore God’s standard and adopt our own. When this happens, we risk being in rebellion to God without even knowing about it. Sincere people can be sincerely wrong in their beliefs.

    You also said that “the homosexual person does not have their sexual orientation changed through the washing and renewal in Christ.” Unless you choose to do violence to Romans 1 with your interpretation, there is clear evidence that natural relations are with women for a man, and with men for a woman. If you accept that Scripture is sufficient, then homosexuality deviates from God’s intended pattern. All of this is consistent with the teachings in Leviticus, where God forbids relations with animals and other things, and consistent with the Bible’s teachings on marriage.

    From Jesus as well, by the way. In Matthew 19, Jesus says “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” And his disciples reply,”If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus’ reply to them is instructive, and sheds light on the 1 Corinthians 7 passage I referenced: “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others have been made eunuchs; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Mat 19:9-12, TNIV). Jesus knew it would be the minority.

    Your take-away is this: as Dr. Bock said, several folks have tried to interact with you, but apparently haven’t met your “thoughtfully and intelligently” criterion. Irrespective, I think several have done it Biblically, and that should be your main concern as well, particularly as someone who claims to be committed to God. Since you will answer to God, as we all will, I urge you to make sure that the God you believe in and worship is the God who has actually revealed Himself in the Bible, and not one you have fashioned out of your own beliefs.

    One final note: your statements consistently address “liberty” of believers. I briefly perused your blog, and saw much more of the same. The problem with your view is that Christian liberty doesn’t apply to sin. Christians have liberty, but not where sin is involved.

    It all boils down to this: in many places, the Bible says that sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin. And marriage is defined (again by Scripture) as one man and one woman. There is no liberty to go outside this plan, because it is how God designed it. That is where your argument is faulty.

    You may feel free to disagree with me, but please, don’t stop there. Go back and read Genesis. Read Leviticus. Read Romans again. Read the Gospels. When Jesus calls sinners, he asks them to change. He tells them to stop sinning.

    On one side, there is everything in Scripture, which says that homosexuality is a sin. On the other, there is your notion of liberty. Please consider whether this idea you’ve come up with is based on what God has said in His Word, or how you think God works based on “your beliefs.” And whether your beliefs match up with God’s Word.

      • Avatar

        Lynn

        Clarity
        Dr. Bock, once again, I very much appreciate the opportunity to hear your understanding of this issue, and what you have to say about the teaching that I believe God has laid upon me to write. The one thing that I hoped to not hear you say, is that I have been disrespectful or unfair in any way. God led me to engage in this dialog, and I believe I have been respectful of your belief, and the beliefs of those who hold the same belief. So I want to look at what you are referencing in saying this. In part, it is based on something I said where I possibly misspoke, when I said:

        “I would be interested in hearing from anyone who can address what I am saying thoughtfully and intelligently, in terms of the biblical doctrines and the health of society, which should be accepting and inclusive of all of its citizens (of course with the exception of criminals), as to why what I am saying is unsound in your view. Also, is “the family” strengthened, as we hear from certain politicians, by excluding its gay and lesbian members, or pretending that they are somehow not part of the families you are speaking of?”

        The part where I possibly misspoke is contained in six words in this entire paragraph: …”in terms of the biblical doctrines”…If you take out these six words, what is left is something that hasn’t been addressed in this entire dialog. So to be looking for an address of this all-important aspect of the issue–how society is impacted by the acceptance of same-sex relationships–and to be doing so by seeking a “thoughtful and intelligent” address, I don’t see where I have been disrespectful of anyone in this dialog.

        As far as the six words…I am in no way, shape, or form, saying that “if anyone disagrees with me, it is not a thoughtful or intelligent address.”! I consider your address thoughtful and intelligent; I consider Matt’s address thoughtful and intelligent; and with the exception of Sean, the other comments were thoughtful and intelligent. I do see why you would say that I was not respectful on this part, but the reason I referred to “doctrines” in this paragraph, is because I’m not sure what I’ve brought out here has been fully addressed. I didn’t mean for it to come across the way it did.

        The reason I even used those particular words is because of Sean, and I am still looking for clearer answers to what I have raised here, but not from anyone approaching this with his arrogant and falsely judgmental attitude.

        But in reference to a sincere approach, in regards to John: I consider much of John’s commenting a thoughtful and intelligent address of the Bible, even though I disagree…but on other parts, it is hard to tell if he has been honest. “Honesty” is obviously the question for all people, because we do have the ability often to hide from the light in our hearts and deceive ourselves, and God knows who has been completely honest, and who has not regarded truths that He considers that they should have regarded (including individuals in the non-participating audience). I will explain what I believe has possibly been blatantly dishonest in John’s address. It is not any kind of cheaply stated allegation of this, which anyone can do on anything they disagree with, and I don’t believe it is disrespectful towards him for this reason.

        I believe he has possibly been dishonest, because he doesn’t elaborate on what he believes he could accomplish in changing his sexual orientation, and until he elaborates on what type of relationship he is speaking about, this would be hard to tell. Love, romance, intimacy, desire on all levels, being in love and the excitement that goes with that, tenderness…these things are not part of what goes on in bisexuality, for not all, but for many people. I find it impossible to believe that basically all people could make this change, which is John’s argument, using himself as an example, which he did not convince me was an honest belief.

        I also personally don’t believe him to be honest in regards to something he questioned me on repeatedly, which is, in my view, in the category of child rape, bestiality, violent sex, group sex, and polygamy…because I don’t believe he doesn’t see how something that cannot and will not ever be spoken of “in the light,” would be the same as this issue, which has and can very well come into the light, and is a very legitimate and well-founded cause in society. There is acceptance of these things amongst some people, of course, but none of these things will ever possess even a remotely significant movement towards acceptance in society, which places “incest,” which no one would claim publicly, in a category that is not at all the same as this issue, which is based on the realities of gender issues in God’s creation. So those are the reasons why I am questioning the complete honesty of John in this dialog.

        I might add that this could be seen to be a minor address of societal issues, but it is based on extremely unfounded concerns. It seemed to be presented as a doctrinal flaw regarding the soundness of my belief, on the basis that to liberate one thing would have to liberate all things (although he continued to dismiss what he believed to be the criteria, until there wasn’t a criteria left, which dismissed his original argument). “All things” are not liberated in my belief, and it falls well outside the criteria of “the law of love,” which would be hiding nothing in the darkness of shame. And I speak about this with a view to the basis for why this need not remain in the darkness, as it was before. It is a gender issue, which is very clearly evidenced in God’s creation, and nothing more.

        As far as honesty in the doctrinal debate…we can continue the debate until clearer answers have been reached, if you are willing. I respect you Dr. Bock, and I feel a little uncomfortable intensely questioning you, because I try to be a person of grace in how I treat people in life. But this is a debate, and I would be interested and willing to question both you and Matt further on the doctrinal issues. I’ll have to think about your views a little further for summary purposes, but I would like to question you further on your beliefs. It’s possible that I just need to sum up your beliefs, and I’ll conclude that your beliefs are honest and complete (in my humble view), but I do believe there are still unanswered questions here. Nothing is about getting you into a choke-hold until you agree with me, and I’ve been clear that simply believing that homosexuality is wrong is not where my biggest issues are in the church, and I would not say that this is a dishonest belief in itself, but right now I’m not sure the issue has been explored. I would like to address statements in both of your letters, and sum up what your beliefs are as I see them, and I will at least do that before I leave here. I would like for you to tell me if I have misstated your beliefs.

        To Matt: your letter is possibly the best address of my beliefs that I’ve received in five years of dealing with this issue online, and there’s been extensive dialog, not just a note or two here and there. It is the best address. (I’ve been clear that that is what I’m looking for.) Dr. Bock has also addressed this with a view to the various areas to be addressed, possibly more than others have. I am still looking for clarity, and I have some questions for you. I’ll admit if I’ve said anything regarding the biblical foundation of my belief that I’ll have to agree is not completely sound, honest, and verifiably true in Scripture, but I see a sound, biblical foundation for my belief. I’m committed to the truth of God, and I am hiding nothing in my beliefs, which are based on the whole picture of Scripture, as you believe that yours are. I’ll get back to you soon.

  • Avatar

    bock

    Clarity dlb

    Lynn:

    My response to you about thoughtfully and intelligently was not so much about where you started as in responses that followed appealing back to this claim. I hope this clarifies matters. I suspect the "liberty" example we might discuss with value is adultery. How does your "liberty" principle differ from it or does it? To me both of these categories are equally challenged in Scripture with little positive said about either — and both identified as sin. So how does that work?

    dlb

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      not respectful Dr. Bock?
      Actually, this doesn’t clarify matters. Now you are the one saying that if I don’t agree with something, I have not been respectful. I am arguing my understanding of Scripture, and my argument is based on Scripture. If I asked for an example of disrespect for anyone’s understanding of the Bible, I can’t imagine what that example would be, but since you are placing this allegation upon me, please explain to me where I have disrespected anyone for their beliefs and statements on the Bible. Careful scrutiny of beliefs and disagreement is not disrespect in my view.

      I was just finishing what may be my final letter to your blog, when I came here to see if you had posted the last one yet, so I’ll answer your question there and I’ll be sending that later today.

      • Avatar

        bock

        Lynn, Lynn dlb

        Throughout your responses you have sometimes suggested that challenging your view is not to speak with respect, not to speak thoughtfully or not to really hear you. I think people have heard you and not bought what you have claimed. Even your claim to argue using biblical arguments actually is not based ultimately on Scripture and what it says on the topic at hand, but the claim ultimately rests on your experience arguing that what Scripture says no longer applies because of what you know to be true or through an appeal to other texts on other topics to undercut (not always clearly) what several texts on this topic do say. I did not seek in my clarification to say you were not being respectful (except where you and Sean got into it with each other- and you agreed with me there). All I was saying is that my response to you was not directed at your original post. I am NOT saying you are not being respectful. I AM saying that to go this way is not really to take on their argument. It is to dodge the issue by making a charicature of a counter position.

         dlb

  • Avatar

    John

    Lynn,
    I assure that I have

    Lynn,

    I assure that I have always been very honest. If you choose not to believe me…well, what further can I say. If you recall my original comments on the issue of changing sexual orientations was put forward as what I “suspected” to be case. I was tossing it out for conversation. I think it would be an important point for those who argue homosexuality is immoral to admit that sexual orientation is somewhat fluid for all people, including themselves and others.

    About the incest remarks, I think that methodologically you could justify incest in the same way you seek to justify homosexuality. I am not persuaded by your remarks: “here is acceptance of these things amongst some people, of course, but none of these things will ever possess even a remotely significant movement towards acceptance in society.” I am not persuaded because this same statement could have been made about homosexuality for most of Christianity’s existence.

    John

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      Dr. Bock…
      Dr. Bock,

      Paul wrote through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that is why I pay heed to the context of his words. You are taking the middle part of his statement by itself, and not regarding the words, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, which explicitly describe who he is speaking about. This is how God established this reference. He did not make it simply a statement regarding any type of spirit of person who engages in same-sex intimacy. In fact, this was done in an extensive and prolific manner…through the Holy Spirit. I believe Paul made a broad statement regarding the acts, in understanding these things as inextricably woven. He taught that whoever engages in these acts is not a true believer and will not enter heaven. Considering that the type of person he is describing does not describe the type of person who loves God, as many gay people do as much as anyone does, there is a sound basis to understand that he is not intending to be condemning the believer in Christ as disobedient and immoral (individuals who will not enter heaven), though he had reason to understand the issue this way, based on the information he had to work with. He had no knowledge of the homosexual orientation, in the innocent context of an individual’s makeup, which would be completely apart from the context that he saw and described.

      Is Paul capable of speaking some things in an incomplete manner, while the essential purpose and meaning of his words are by inspiration? Yes, he proved that this is possible, when he taught that women who make a claim of godliness are not to wear gold, pearls, braids in their hair, or expensive dresses. Does this describe ungodliness in an inherent sense? I can’t imagine that you would believe it does. Therefore a principle of interpretation has been established. This is how God established His Word. Some statements do require thought, reason, and discernment, as to what is being spoken of in a complete sense. This is a very well-proven point in my view. Your belief is between you and God, and I have been abundantly clear about my belief on that.

      You are saying that I “pick and choose within the Word what is to be responded to and what is not, reserving the right to continue to do so because there are other areas Christians do this.”

      Dr. Bock, respectfully I am saying to you that I have responded to all that is written in the Word. The context and all principles of God’s Word cannot be ignored. I am not dismissing the rigid version of what Paul is saying on the basis that the mainstream church has dismissed laws; what I am saying is that people who believe as you do, should apply the same reason and discernment that you apply for yourself, while writing it off to “disobedience to insignificant laws of Scripture.” These laws that have been dismissed are not stated with insignificance, but the truth is that we find these things unreasonable to apply in our culture, and not to be considered the essence of truth and righteousness. (Liberty.) That is the truth of what has been done here.

      The Bible teaches plainly that it is a “disgrace” for women to pray without their heads covered, and it is a compromise of her glory and her covering to wear her hair short. If you believe this is a law of the Christian faith, which is simply an area of disobedience in the church, then you are accepting ongoing sin in the church. To me, that is a highly unreasonable belief.

      What has also been done here is the collective ignoring of a fact of Scripture: God set up laws in the Old Testament, applying the utmost of seriousness to them–then in the New Testament, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has established that these things are not even laws of the Christian faith, they are not the essence of righteousness in themselves, and are subject to each person’s conscience and personal relationship with God. You don’t see a precedent here, but I believe it is significant regarding God’s intentions, especially combined with the theme of the law “fulfilled in a word.”

      Matt wrote a concise letter addressing the issue, and it refines your position well, but I don’t believe it squares with the whole of Scripture. These things that God established in the O.T. were “sin” in the context of which they were given, and have now had “liberty” applied to them, which is contrary to what Matt is contending about liberty. You cannot say that to violate strict Sabbath laws, which carried the death penalty, did not represent sin for those who were under the Law, and you cannot say that laws that had the word “abomination” attached to them did not represent sin for those who disobeyed them, in the setting of the theocracy of the time, or if you believe these things to be the law of God today. Clearly, what was specifically given liberty in the N.T., was sin in the O.T. and is sin for those who believe so today.

      “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) For one person it is sin to eat forbidden foods or to work on the Sabbath, and for another it is not. (Romans 14)

      What was formerly stated to be sin, has now been given liberty, in favor of the truth of righteousness…by faith in Jesus Christ, and through the law of love for all people. This is how I understand the principles of Scripture.

      This is something that I want to address to Sean, in light of his words of condemnation and false statements about me: if you don’t condemn the divorced and remarried person as an adulterer, in the same way that you condemn the homosexual person, there is something going on there that has nothing to do with simply supporting what you believe about the Bible. It is more along the lines of bigotry and possibly even idolatry. Neither John nor Sean is willing to give an explanation of their beliefs about the truths of the Bible that I questioned them about, possibly because it may require a use of discernment and interpretation.

      The beliefs of John are completely unrealistic in my view, although he is entitled to them. What he is speaking of is not something that will likely occur on an individual basis, particularly for a born-again believer in Christ, much less become a movement as a cause in society. Regardless of how far in the shadows this issue was before, the reasons for this coming into the light are largely based on a physiological change in the natural makeup of a segment of humanity, and the kindness and understanding of many people.

      Dr. Bock, I’ve proven many things here, and to take you to task on them is not how I wish to conclude here. I would like to address one concept that has been brought up twice now. I was already going to address this in response to Sean, and you have now also brought this up, in saying that my beliefs regarding the Bible’s teachings on law and liberty “indict” God.

      Does this fact of Scripture that I have described constitute God having lied? Some Jews in Paul’s time did not want to hear anything about the liberty that Paul spoke of. (Galatians) They possibly made the same argument that you are making. If these things are acceptable to dismiss, this would make God a liar. Some individuals today make the argument that Sabbath laws and dietary laws are still in place, and the common Christian is in disobedience to them, and they make the argument that God would have lied if these laws are not still in place today and representing righteousness.

      To make this statement portrays the Bible as a simple set of laws, end of story, which it provably is not. What has been highlighted here in God’s Word is the essence of “truth and righteousness,” which is found in Christ, not in strict adherence to a set of laws and regulations. It is based on the law of love, as explained in Romans 13:8-10 and elsewhere. I see nowhere in the most significant places in Scripture–the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Jesus Christ, or the Book of Revelation–where gender laws constitute the essence of the law of love. It is the heart that God looks upon, and it was a heart of rebellion that was described and condemned in those passages.

      What you are saying is that God should not look upon these individuals with a view to distinguishing between one kind of character and another in His judgment. You are saying that if He does do this on that day, and He does establish many gay and lesbian people as having been faithful and obedient to His true law, as was explained in the fuller picture of His Word, and this more so than many heterosexual believers (who would believe otherwise), as I was going to say to Sean, are you going to say that He has “deceived” you? Providing that an individual does not lie or hate for their belief, they should have no problem seeing God draw this distinction between the different hearts of people before Him, and loving and accepting them, as much as any heterosexual child of His who will inherit His eternal kingdom. If a believer does fall into the sin of lying and hating for their belief, which will be brought out into the light and addressed by God unfavorably, they would possibly be likely to blame God and say that He deceived them.

      Dr. Bock, I thought I was going to address your beliefs in a questioning manner, but I believe I have done what God has led me to do here. There are many realities of the issue, the Scriptures, and the function of the Christian faith that have been collectively ignored. I am simply asking Christians to think a little more about the full picture of the issue and the Bible, and to be careful in how you represent God and the issue to the world. I personally don’t often see the spirit of Christ in the church on this issue, nor do many other people.

      I have no doubt that bold statements will be made about me on your blog…it doesn’t prove that they represent the truth and the heart of God, and to take a verse standing by itself is not a sound use of God’s Word. That will suffice for my defense of myself here, and it is God that I answer to. If I comment any further about the doctrines for clarity, as I understand them, I’ll be brief. I honestly did not intend to engage in an extensive debate and challenge anyone to a great degree, but I explained why I did challenge people to some degree. I want to note that the study on liberty is much too prolific and extensive to state on your blog, and there are too many passages that support it to cite here.

      I also want to note that a lot hasn’t yet been addressed…one example is the impact of the acceptance of same-sex relationships on society, and the impact of non-acceptance, but I’ll leave the rest of the dialog for your other readers. I also want to note that “marriage” is not decided by man’s laws, which are clearly not in keeping with the Bible’s laws, and there is much to say about that, and about the collective movement of many Christians to establish “hypocrisy” in the highest law of the land, and in the name of God. I stand by my belief that it is a spiritual union before God, and not for man to judge in the least. God did not establish legalism in His Word. I believe you have made “heterosexuality” more important than people are to God.

      One more comment for Matt: You diminish what I am speaking of as if it doesn’t exist in the Bible, but liberty is a very real theme of Scripture. If three percent or so of biblical laws are part of the Christian faith, liberty is much more part of the faith than people want to acknowledge. The law of God is clearly love, in its entirety. Also, the basis of my beliefs is not “sincerity,” it is many truths of the Bible. A component of my claim is that God has created some people with an innate, homosexual orientation, and this is not an insignificant aspect of understanding God’s heart towards the issue.

      Regarding the infallibility of the Bible: If this issue will be as it was presented in the Bible in a rigid manner, homosexual believers who have engaged in a life-partnership with a member of the same sex will not enter heaven. Unless you see an amended version of what God will do on this, in which case, you have departed from what you claim about the words of the Bible. Again, as I understand a clear principle of Scripture, grace does not cover unrepentance forever, and it states that the type of character that Paul was speaking about will not be saved.

      If there is more to the Bible than to take verses apart from their clear context (and all of these references do have a defining context surrounding or preceding them), apart from proven realities of how some things did not represent the totality of truth, and apart from the greater principles of God’s Word, and His justice and His love for people, then there is more to the issue than what many people have considered.

      Dr. Bock, as to the answer to your question…I’ve addressed this well, but I’ll give you my answer again: (1) Adultery is a violation of the love professed to one’s spouse, and therefore a violation of the law of God, which is love. (2) Adultery is one of the Ten Commandments, which are the only laws that Jesus reiterated, along with the Two Commandments, regarding love. (3) Adultery was also singled out as a law, spoken about extensively and condemned by Jesus, unlike same-sex relationships. Liberty does not free anyone to sin.

      Dr. Bock, even with your clarification, I don’t see where you see disrespect in any way. To point out statements that were contrary to what I have stated my beliefs to be is not disrespect, and you’ve given no examples of how I disrespected anyone’s beliefs in the doctrinal discussion. If I did, I didn’t intend to and I’m not aware of it. (In the situation with Sean, what I acknowledged had only to do with the readers’ experience, by the way.) I believe I have been more than respectful, but I do have strong beliefs about all that the Bible says, when looking at the whole picture, which I believe is necessary to arrive at truth, and which has been confirmed by the God of truth.

      I’ll talk to you again I’m sure. Thank you Dr. Bock.

      Lynn

      • Avatar

        bock

        Lynn dlb

        First, thank you for diving in and sharing your heart. It is appreciated as it your intention to clearly communicate where you are, be clear, and be heard.

        We agree to disagree on how you read Paul. Romans 1 could not be clearer in calling homosexuality sin– and doing so throughout the whole of the passage that itself is rooted in a theme we also seen in the OT. So we have a series of texts that consistently stress this point. You argue that other texts on jewelry and head covering are equal in their moral weight and the church responds to them against what they say–so it can be in this area (and suggest there is a distinction in types of homosexuality as a result- monogamous homosexuality is OK, reflecting a genuine love which is what really matters to God). I will let readers assess that argument. Paul’s rooting his argument that Romans 1 text by appealing to the way man and women are made makes the point quite likely that Paul is not distinguishing between types of homosexuality (one acceptable, others not). His argument is about how gender was created as a complement, not to suggest that physical love when wedded to a genuine feeling of exclusive love is all that matters. There are many other ways he could have made that point [and God could have made it through him], if that were the real, central truth. You create a distinction and assert principles in a manner we have no evidence for anywhere in Scripture when it comes to this specific topic. Nowhere do we see love affirmed in Scripture in a way that has an open door for such desire. So we each can restate our views- and we have.

        Now sin is never beyond the reach of Jesus and His Spirit– and we all sin often in one way or another. What is hard to deal with is your claim that there is nothing wrong here (or even a refusal to consider that there may be). These passages as a whole would at the least give me pause. If liberty does not free anyone to sin, as you say, then I would be slow to think there may be a category that creates an immunity God himself has not affirmed for an act God rebukes. However it is the following principle of yours that is the most problematic: "A component of my claim is that God has created some people with an innate, homosexual orientation, and this is not an insignificant aspect of understanding God’s heart towards the issue." My question is, then why was God so silent about this point- not explicitly affirming it in the specific form you present it anywhere? God will not only evaluate our hearts but our responsiveness to His Word. We all need His mercy on that count. His mercy and forgiveness covers much, fortunately. We share that hope.

        In saying this, I want to distinguish between challenging the sin and seeking to communicate a love that honors you as made in God’s image. That is part of the reason for being frank about this and to be concerned that in defending this you are defending something Scripture speaks very strongly against (just see how Romans 1 ends in speaking about those who promote such ideas). 

        However, I want to end this post on a different note.  It is with a prayer for all of us that God will work in our hearts to reflect His glory and honor better.

  • Avatar

    John A

    Still in the Room
    Up and up goes everyone’s view of their own correctness. Down and down goes consistency and obedience.

    If divorced and remarried couples are in the church, the church allows adultery. If women’s heads go uncovered, the order of creation and the headship of Christ go unheeded among God’s people.

    It reminds me of a story…

    A friend told me that when his father was dying in the hospital, the family would occoasionally find themselves all gathered around his bed in the evening. My friend’s dad was a big man, weak, but still alert and very fiesty, always ordering both family and hospital staff around.

    If he was sleeping when his wife and children arrived, words were exchanged in a whisper: “How is he feeling today?” And “What did the doctor say?” The ailing man would occasionally open his eyes and demand, “Why is everyone talking about me as if I’m not in the room?”

    My friend, the oldest son, replied, “I don’t know Dad. Wishful thinking?”

    This is how I feel. Practicing gay people are still in the room, not matter how much you wish we weren’t.

    We practicing homosexuals are already even in the evangelical church, which makes Dr Bock’s other discussion about the Emerging Church very relevant. Those in the Emerging Chruch who don’t draw a hard line on homosexuality are finding that gay people come to theirs. Is that a bad thing? What was a museum of saints has become a school for sinners, hopefully because everyone there realizes their own need.

    Where gay men and women are not present in the church, it’s because they are made to feel unwelcome or because it is suggested that they need to or can reform in some way.

    But this is odd, considering the unreformed people who swell the ranks in the same churches: adulterers, who divorce and remarry. Women who enter with uncovered heads, hiding a contempt for the order of creation and the headship of Christ (I Cor 11) under the veil of supposed cultural relevance.

    I’m a gay man. I go to church. You may wish I were not still in the room, but I am.

    Incest does not come into the debate. In fact it’s almost funny that it has. People who don’t apply the truths delivered on divorce and headcovering shouldn’t be surprised when other seekers of sexual liberty want a slice of the pie.

    If couples engaged in incest want to have the same discussion with you, let them. It is not to them that any of our current comments are addressed.

    • Avatar

      bock

      Still in the Room: Trying to moderate the conversation dlb

      John:

      Thanks for this. This is precisely where I wanted to go with our discussion. In terms of how the church handles issues, how should the church handle homosexuality issues in relationship to how issues like adultery get handled? Even more specifically how does one have this discussion face to face with people who are in our churches (and not just on principle) ? Is there a difference in these two areas or should the nature and quality of the discussion/interaction be similar?

      I am going back to the role as moderator with this entry. I am going to rule out of bounds going into this discussion both head coverings and incest as a way into this discussion. Here is why. Headcoverings do have cultural elements to this discussion (virtually everyone who discusses this passage regardless of their view recognizes this) and the key exhortation in 1 Cor 11:10 does not mention head coverings specifically but a sign of authoirty (whatever that is supposed to be). Incest is out of bounds because although it is an argument appealing to analogy (and the slippery slope), it comes at the discussion from the other end of the spectrum in a hard edged emotional level and raises additional elements that cloud this discussion. So respond but do so with these two angles ruled out of bounds as ways in. Other rules about respect mentioned earlier still apply.

      dlb

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        Lynn

        more on doctrines
        Dr. Bock,

        I’m sure the readers can assess this for themselves, but it is important to me that I not be misrepresented, so please allow me to clarify. This speaks to an important element of the very foundation of my belief.

        There is a big difference between looking at what I see the church doing with several explicit laws of Scripture in dismissing them, and then concluding that I will now do the same, and looking at the truth of how God has established His Word in a realistic manner. In referencing these practices of the church, I am merely showing that this assessment has been viewed realistically by the church, while they are unwilling to speak honestly about the necessity of viewing these passages realistically. The fact that it is seen reasonably in the church is merely a fact of observation.

        The difference has to do with where my focus is, and how my understanding on this was formed. Your misinterpretation of my words diminishes my integrity. Everything that I am talking about has to do with How God actually established His Word–it has absolutely nothing to do with following suit with the church.

        When Paul stated his instructions about jewelry and clothing, he was speaking from the perspective of seeing the practice of ungodly women, and saying that godly women are not to do as the ungodly do, as they are to be set apart for God. His statement does not reflect “truth” in an inherent sense, but strongly appears to have been stated in a relative sense. My point is that God established His Word with this necessity for reason and discernment built into it, and He did so intentionally. We are born-again in Him, and He desires for us to have understanding, not be led as a horse with a bit in his mouth.

        “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.” (Psalm 32:8,9)

        The point that you are making is that women have been commanded in the Scriptures to not wear these adornments, and that one cannot take this disobedience in the church, and use it to establish disobedience in another area. Let’s look at the passage:

        “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” (1 Tim. 2:9,10 NASB)

        “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (King James Version)

        Is Paul not clearly stating that to adorn oneself this way is not modest and discreet, and that a woman is not to adorn herself this way? Is he not implying that this is the practice of the ungodly women?

        It seems to me that you are dodging the truth of what I am speaking about, and I feel that too much has been left unaddressed here. For clarity of your position, Dr. Bock, please explain why this explicit statement of Paul is not the teaching of the church. And please address the fact that, if taken in a rigid and non-discerning manner (as I believe you take Paul’s statements on this issue), this places a judgment of ungodliness and disobedience upon Christian women who do adorn themselves this way today, and upon those who approve of this. Do you believe this is a commandment of God, just as it appears in Scripture?

        One more thing Dr. Bock. In saying that I view these two areas of Scripture as reflecting equality in their moral weight, this makes me out to be someone who has no discernment on the weight of things that were spoken of in Scripture. I’ve been clear that I do not see these things as reflecting equality in the weight of how they were addressed in Scripture. My point has to do with the principle of how Paul was capable of speaking about some things in an incomplete manner, in a way that cannot be seen as accurate and complete in any setting.

        What matters to God is the heart of the person. If deeds are arising out of rebellion, which is what Paul described in Romans 1, this would obviously have the judgment of God upon it. I do see why you believe as you do on these passages, because it seems clear to you, and we will have to agree to disagree on that. In my relationship with God, as a born-again person who is filled with His Spirit, it is not clear to me that it is simply the gender aspect of a relationship that would constitute a heart that is amiss before God, simply on the basis that it is not in keeping with the heterosexual design, which is not fulfillment to all people. Your answer is to revert back to the Law, and to Paul’s understanding of the issue, but you have not really addressed the church’s relationship to the Law. I would appreciate your more complete address of the church’s relationship to the many laws of Scripture, and specifically the one I have brought up in this example.

        I also want to note that it is “wickedness” being promoted that Paul is condemning, and very clearly speaking about the type of person who loves and encourages sin. That is what is being examined here. It is a question of whether wickedness in the sight of God is rebellion in one’s heart against Him, or is it any intimate, same-sex relationship. I have considered the issue fully and prayerfully, Dr. Bock, and it is many substantiated truths that my belief is based on. I’ll take your exhortation in a good spirit though.

        A note to John A: You make a good point, but I’m a little surprised to hear you mention something about “consistency.” My belief on a sound understanding of God’s Word is all about consistency. It is about consideration to relevant truths and other principles of Scripture, seeing in context the explicit words written in the text, and using “reason and discernment” on their meaning and value, with a view to inherent truth and righteousness. I believe this understanding is explicitly taught in God’s Word.

        Dr. Bock’s beliefs, as he states them, I believe are consistent. He appears to believe the laws of Scripture are the explicit and expressed laws of God, and there are many areas of disobedience to these laws in the church. I’m not sure of his understanding of the believer’s relationship to the Mosaic Law, but particularly in the New Testament, he makes the claim that there are only two areas of liberty on O.T. laws, and the church is in disobedience to laws of the N.T. If this is what he believes, I see something less than honoring the will of God, but I see no particular inconsistency in his beliefs. Possibly in his expectations, but not in his actual beliefs. Your beliefs on the other hand…

        I personally would like you to explain your beliefs a little better. You speak of disobedience to these particular laws of Paul, but you don’t seem to take words that he spoke explicitly in the area of homosexuality by the letter. I’ve made my beliefs clear, and I have the witness of God in my conscience and profound experience with His Spirit, who loves me as a faithful gay woman, even though Paul saw the issue differently. What is your philosophy on why you don’t feel an obligation to these words that Paul spoke, if not adhering to other explicit words of Paul is disobedience?

  • Avatar

    bock

    Beyond Doctrine dlb

    Let me be clear. I think I have said consistently in your query about jewelry and women that IF this were disobedience then it should be followed. That woudl take it out of play for this discussion. But you asked how I look at this text. That is a fair question, I’d love to answer. Now this text is laid out in a common Semitic "not x but y format". That is a common idiom (I love Isaac, and hate Esau; If He is called Lord, then how is he [David’s] son; I desire mercy, not sacrifice). This IS a relativizing type of rhetoric. The point is that the key is not so much x as y. So I agree with how you read 1 Timothy.

    But there is nothing even close to this relativizing expression in Romans 1. Romans 1 does not have such a rhetorical form. So to suggest it does is to import it into the context. Becasue of this, 1 Timothy then is a rabbit trial and cul de sac for this discussion; it takes us nowhere relevant.

    I find it interesting that you call my view on Romans 1 "law" because I never use that word. Romans 1 is an ethical exhortation and rebuke from God through Paul on morality. Revealing is how you speak about Paul speaking incompletely in these texts but God is doing other things. I believe God is speaking through Paul in these texts. This difference touches directly on the issue I raised a few posts ago about what I perceive to be a serious flaw in your view on inspiration. So we read these texts very differently as a result. You correctly query about Romans 1, "It is a question of whether wickedness in the sight of God is rebellion in one’s heart against Him, or is it any intimate, same-sex relationship." This you leave as an either/or. I think it should be read as a both-and. The contextual explanation I gave in the last post is why I think a both-and is precisely what this exhoration-rebuke entails. Behind this rebuke is a consistent portrayal in the rest of God’s word, not just on wickedness, but defining this act as such– just like adultery is sin, even if the two people participating love each other (and even if one of them were single). This combination of factors is why I have pled with you on this, not because I doubt your desire to pursue God or the sincerity of your prayers past or future, but because I do sense you do wish to honor Him. It is a plea to consider a serious inconsistency I think exists in your approach to this– and more than that especially to reconsider the sense you have to promote this before and to others on any blog (either mine or yours).

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      Clarification on Doctrines
      Dr. Bock,

      You are saying that you agree with how I read 1 Timothy, but it is still unclear. How I read 1 Timothy, is that Paul is clearly and explicitly stating that women are not to wear these adornments. I apply my personal understanding of correct biblical interpretation in discerning that, while he is making this statement on the subject, it would be quite unreasonable to apply this as it is written. I use this as an example, and it is one of several, as to how we must read Scripture reasonably, as the church does quite well in this area. In my explanation of this example of liberty, your answer was that I am taking one area of disobedience, and trying to establish more areas of disobedience on this basis. Did I misunderstand you on this? I would not disagree that “if” something is a disobedience in the church it should be corrected.

      I may have misunderstood your position, so I hope you will clarify, but you are now agreeing that Paul is speaking in a “relative” sense, and you are therefore using “discernment,” which is rightly distinguishing one thing from another, on the authority and meaning of this clear commandment of Paul, and stating that it is not as it appears as written by Paul. Also important to note, we don’t see this spoken of positively anywhere in Scripture.

      When I said that your beliefs appear to be consistent, my understanding was that you take the commands of Scripture as they are written, and anything in the church that is not consistent with what was written is “disobedience.” This concept has been the substance of much of my dialog with you, and this has been your answer. I am showing a principle of how Scripture was written in some places, and saying that thought, reason, and a view to all principles of Scripture was established by God to be necessary in understanding His heart and His Word. My beliefs are not consistent with your beliefs, but they are consistent with my beliefs. The Bible was inspired by God, and some things are plainly subject to question and discernment.

      Dr. Bock, because so much has been said here, I am simply trying to determine the principles of how your beliefs work. I think it is important for clarification. As I said, I understand your take on this issue and the words of Paul–it seems very clear to you, and you must embrace what seems right to you before your God. I don’t agree that there is no context that brings this into a clearer light, as to who Paul (by inspiration of God) was addressing in this passage, but I respect the right of individuals to see this as a condemnation of homosexuality in an inherent sense.

      I may have to conclude that I don’t understand how your beliefs work, in which case I will have to take back my statement on “consistency.” Other people may not understand your beliefs either at this point. By the way, I would never have applied the term to your beliefs, if I thought you made it your mission in life to condemn homosexuality, but not divorce and remarriage as adultery, for example. I see you as holding a belief on the issue, and simply speaking about your belief in a way that is not particularly over-bearing, and you are also concerned with trying to reach a better understanding of how to establish consistency in how the church handles these things.

      I would definitely call what I see as a forceful mission from some individuals “hypocrisy,” and they are so blinded by human approval, that they actually make the statement that “our laws are based on the Bible.” Quite amazing. In the case with you, I don’t know much about you, but I am trying to understand how your beliefs work.

      “Revealing is how you speak about Paul speaking incompletely in these texts but God is doing other things. I believe God is speaking through Paul in these texts. This difference touches directly on the issue I raised a few posts ago about what I perceive to be a serious flaw in your view on inspiration.”

      God established this issue Himself. He created some people with a homosexual orientation, and He made it clear, if understood with depth, consistency, and reason, what type of person is condemned. We’ll agree to disagree. The question for you: is God speaking through Paul in the “adornments” area, inspired word for word, and intended to be taken just as written? Or is there another understanding to be realized on the subject?

      Speaking in terms of “principles of interpretation,” there are some things in the Scriptures that need to be viewed with “reason” and “discernment.” I’ll leave it up to you if you want to clarify your beliefs, but I just want to say that I don’t think it was very clear, and I don’t believe you identified x and y, or explained why you don’t take this passage at face-value. Both of these areas of Scripture contain very direct and explicit statements of Paul, though not with the same weight in rendering the immorality of it. You see no relativizing in Romans 1, but Paul is describing a type of character in very much detail, and it is far from a description of myself. He did not speak on the subject of wearing these adornments with completeness, nor was it something that would be a true statement in any setting. You seem to agree with this, but you speak of the notion that he may not have spoken with completeness on the subject of homosexuality, as being some kind of obvious heresy and statement against inspiration. I just wanted to point this out. In my view, it shows us how God clearly established His Word, and I have no doubt that it was for a purpose.

      On the adultery note, I completely agree that even if they love each other, it is still a violation of the commitment that would render it to be adultery in the first place. Dr. Bock, I am only bringing out facts for consideration, and I am promoting understanding, love and honesty. It is with a view to seeking the heart of God. People can decide for themselves what they believe to be true. God bless.

  • Avatar

    bock

    On Clarification dlb

    Lynn: My understanding of 1 Timothy is not a matter of "reason" and "discernment". One does not look at the text and think about it and then challenge the wording or argue it does not bear the meaning it seems to have; rather one recognizes the idiom, understands what it intends to express and reads it accordingly. It is a literary matter. Any comprehensive book on the Bible and literary expression would discuss this idiom.The form not x but y is a standard way to express something in Hebrew. So we have not x (braided hair) but y (good works). The point is to say good works are more important than braided hair. Such a reading is consistent with other texts that lay out this way and so are not to be read in absolute terms but with the meaning the idiom points to. This is why I noted several examples in the earlier post.  What we agree about here is the resultant reading of this text (apparently not how we get to that reading). I do not "think" or "reason" my way to this reading. It is a matter of literary expression as shown in numerous texts where this kind of expression takes place. So the wording intends to be understood this way, and is inspired with this sense.

    As for the reading for the context of Romans 1, answer one question for me. Where is there a positive or descriptive text that shows that monogamous same sex relationships are affirmed and that types of homosexuailty (one approved, the other rebuked) exist? The principle you believe that I do not accept is: "God established this issue Himself. He created some people with a homosexual orientation, and He made it clear, if understood with depth, consistency, and reason, what type of person is condemned." God says in Romans 1 he did not create people male and female with that intent. On this, as we each have said, we agree to disagree.

    dlb

  • Avatar

    Matt Gumm

    A Question for Lynn
    Lynn: I’m going to come back to Romans 1, but Dr. Bock has hit upon the ideal starting point.

    Several times you’ve affirmed homosexuality, including the one he referenced above, as well as in your reply to me, where you said A component of my claim is that God has created some people with an innate, homosexual orientation, and this is not an insignificant aspect of understanding God’s heart towards the issue.

    What is your Scriptural basis for this?

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      Dr. Bock,
      I believe it is

      Dr. Bock,

      I believe it is undeniable that this is an explicit command regarding what is appropriate for women in the church. Paul is explaining that women are to “adorn themselves modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works….” He is contrasting modest and discreet dress, which would be appropriate, with these costly adornments. He is very clearly saying that adorning oneself in this way is not modest and discreet. Peter also speaks of not adorning oneself externally, but in the character of the woman, so this is a continuing theme regarding adornments.

      You claim to not be using reason in your view of this, but I have to wonder what leads you to call this an idiom, and not simply understand this as a clear command regarding what is godly and appropriate. It doesn’t seem to be simply an expressive use of words, stated in a way that is clearly not reflecting the literal meaning of the words. On the examples you gave, I do see the comparison in the extremes of how things can be stated in Scripture, and the not so much x as y thing, but you would arrive at the conclusion that these things are not to be taken in an extreme sense on the basis of other truths of Scripture, which would not necessarily apply here. This is my understanding of what I see written here.

      If it can be taken the way you are saying, and it is entirely possible that your take on this is correct, what this means is that some things in Scripture are not to be taken in a rigid manner, and other principles must be taken into consideration. The Bible was given by God to all people’s of the world, and the words clearly do make the statement that these adornments are not modest and discreet for the believing woman. It is not a language situation in Romans, but it is a situation that needs to be taken with some depth and discernment.

      Wearing these adornments does not necessarily reflect a rebellious heart, particularly where other examples of ungodliness are not present. My take on this is based on reason. Jesus taught the principle of “reason,” much to the chagrin of His hearers, who were trying to use the Mosaic Law to accuse and condemn “the innocent.” (Matt. 12)

      As to understanding this with a view other truths of Scripture, I see two other references to the wearing of adornments. One is in the Song of Solomon. This is in the setting of romance, which would not liberate a woman wearing adornments for all to see and have their eyes upon her. It is a fact that Paul was extremely conservative in regards to what was appropriate for women. The other example that I see is in the Book of Revelation, and it is not a pretty picture, because she has the wrath of God upon her. Even still, I believe everyone would agree that this is something that can be done in a manner that is modest, pleasant on the eyes, and not offensive in the least. It is not the essence of rebellion in itself. This statement is based on reason.

      As to the answer to your question, nothing in my beliefs requires there to be an example of an acceptable same-sex, intimate relationship in Scripture. If we had this, the rigid view of the issue would not even be present in Scripture. On the other hand, we do have “abomination” and “death penalty” commands also clearly stated in an acceptable framework, having to do with the New Testament teachings regarding the conscience and one’s personal relationship with God, and with a view to true righteousness, which is actually an astonishing aspect of God’s Word, and undeniably so. So theoretically it could’ve existed this way, but it simply didn’t. Scripture teaches that He is a God of the heart, and not a rigid use of the Law. It is about respecting an individual’s relationship with God, and leaving judgment to God, and working only to prevent harm done to people and serve people. This paragraph also answers Matt’s question, and if I’ve stated anything incorrectly I’m open to hearing that or being questioned about my understanding of Scripture. I’ve done my best to understand Scripture as it is written.

      I see a meaningful purpose for establishing the predominance of heterosexuality for the perpetuation of the human race, so I can see why God allowed this aspect of His plan for His family to be more on the obscure side, to be considered at the appropriate time. It is an issue that tests the hearts of all people. Many truths have been swept under the carpet by many people, and many would agree that much of what has been done has nothing to do with the spirit of Jesus Christ or love of truth, as many untruths are spoken on this issue. Many people have also forsaken God for their desires, gay and straight. God sees the heart and will judge the hearts and lives of people. In my life, God is first.

      Dr. Bock, the fact still remains that you are invoking the authority of Paul, as though he did not ever speak in a manner that was relative to his cultural experience, and as though his writings were always speaking inherent truths which would be true in all contexts. This is a false premise in my reading of Scripture. There are at least four or five other examples, besides the jewelry and the head coverings, that we do not find in the church. And I’m not even counting small things like “greet each other with a holy kiss,” which would not fly well in our culture between men. I want to also reiterate that the head coverings teaching was not simply stated as what would be “appropriate” or “proper,” which could be understood as a culturally-based statement, but was spoken as a “spiritual truth,” as I pointed out. Also, in speaking about hair lengths and saying that “nature teaches” these truths, the Greek word for “nature” is the same as the word for “nature” in the Romans passage. I assign “culture” to this teaching, on the basis that it was appropriate to place this upon women in his culture, but it would not be in our culture. My belief is based on the principles that I have spoken of, and I don’t believe these teachings to be the essence of truth and righteousness, but given only to the people of his time. I don’t know on what basis your beliefs render this to be not a spiritual truth, but related only to culture.

      You claim to not be using “reason” or “discernment” in your understand of Scripture, as though God did not establish His Word with this as a necessity, and all things are abundantly clear and applicable as stated.

      Please try to understand the ultimate focus of what I am speaking about–it is about God’s love for all of His children, and justice in His judgment of people. The Bible states that homosexual people will not enter heaven. The only way to depart from this, is to look upon “grace” as perpetually covering what was stated to be a sin that renders a person condemnable to hell. In my view, that is a dangerous and false theology, and I see it as common in the church. People are combining sin with Christianity, and I see it around me often. The belief that a person will be condemned to hell on the basis of a gender issue, rather than a rebellious heart, is legalism and does not reflect the truth of God in my understanding. In my view, Scripture does not condemn the born-again believer, who has a heart of praise, love, thanksgiving, faith, and all of these things which show the spirit of Christ to be present. What was condemned was the prideful person who does not love or need God.

      Is it possible to be a believer who has seared your conscience and forsaken God, while believing that you love God? Absolutely. It happens all the time, as I noted above. That is why fear of God is still relevant, and every individual needs to fall on their face before God and seek His heart, before it is too late. There will be loss suffered for any unrepentant sin on that day, even for believers, and if the sin is serious enough, the person may not be a believer at all and may be deceived. The person who is filled with the Holy Spirit knows this, wants His will in their life, and love for God and humanity is the guiding force in their life, which is the “royal law” of God (James 2:8). I recommend reading this whole chapter, because it speaks about showing partiality and other important things. It speaks about the law of liberty.

      This Bible-based teaching does not liberate any abomination, though many disagree with that. It lifts up a high standard of righteousness for the believer, though many disagree with that also. The way I see it, if someone says that this teaching undermines the Word, I believe it is that person who is undermining the Word. The Word of God is faith in Him and love for all, and it is abundantly, clearly not about adherence to the letter of the Law, including the instructions of Paul, where I see no witness from God to that effect. This is one person’s view of course, and everyone needs to follow their own conscience. It is God that I look to in my faith, not myself, and good suggested reading would be Proverbs 3, and other passages to be sure that it is Him that we look to. I have every reason to believe that the issue has been taken in a legalistic manner, and there is much that has been ignored, such as Paul’s description of people. He also said that it is “evident within them,” and what is evident is that some people were born with a homosexual orientation. Also, “due penalties” happen to heterosexual people as well, and a conservative lifestyle is the answer for health and fulfillment. I know that I am accepted by God as the faithful, gay, born-again believer in Jesus Christ that He made me to be, and God values the relationship that is based on love.

      In Christ,

      Lynn

      • Avatar

        bock

        I Believe dlb

        I should not have to repeat myself, but I will. You asked why I take this as an idiom, even though I gave you the reason twice. I have noted in two posts that this is an idiom because it is a common construction that reads this way (and I even supplied other examples to make the point). That is precisely how you identify an idiom. Your denial that this is at work in other cases does not make that denial the case. I am noting something scholars regularly note about these texts (Just check The Language of the Bible by George Caird where he discusses this example when he prsents his chapter on Semitic constructions). This is how the idiom works–and how to identify idioms. The history of this discussion about this as an idiom is why I cited the fact that a good discussion of Semitic idiom would make the same point. 

        As for the rest of your exegesis, I will simply say you have not been able to give a single simple positive text for your distinction as both my request and that of Matt have asked you to do. You and I know it does not exist. You cannot have this both ways (what God calls an abomination is such, but we have liberty in an area he does not specifically mention, when the category is discussed and the distinction is not). Again you say my appeal is to Paul’s authority, when it is God who is ultimately responsible for these words through inspiration, a point you consistently ignore. You say there is no witness from God in this case, yet the words of Romans 1 are the witness in this case (along with other passages on this theme) and you can supply no clear counter example about this specific category. So you make a claim for a category, but cannot really cite specific support for it. Now in your last post you make a new argument and twist Paul’s words in Romans 1 by saying this thing is "evident within them" as an attempt to get to conscience. That appeal will not work. That idea refers to God’s presence being evident in the creation yet rejected despite its obvious presence.

        So I think there is little more that can be said. We are repeating ourselves. You deny Romans 1 deals with this topic and ignore the thrust of numerous other texts on this topic that are negative. You lack of a clear counter example that could lclear the way for your reading (or at least make it far easier to embrace). Your appeal is a hermeneutical one, one step beyond the literary appeal to idiom I made on the jewelry passage (for in a literary example, one can appeal to parallel constructions on other topics that yield a similar structure of meaning). We have already agreed, I think, that the moral weight of these other topic texts (holy kiss, jewelry, head coverings) is not the same as this issue. (By the way, your counter example on jewelry from Song is precisely the kind of counter example I am looking for on our topic that is lacking. We agree on the relevance of that passage to that discussion). Surely dealing with something of this moral weight  one would think God would be clear about the point to be made. If the exceptional category existed as you claim, it is hard to explain why something about it is not said. Now I believe hermenutical arguments are possible and can be made. This is why I have stayed engaged on this thread of posts. But there is nothing you have put forward that leads me to think that this is one of those cases. In fact, the reasons I have listed above make me seriously doubt it applies in this case on this topic.

        So we are left to how to love well in this circumstance of disagreement. We have shared our thoughts and warrants for reading the text as we do, as honestly as we can. God will make the call one day. I, for one, believe He has spoken clearly on the issue throughout the Bible in several texts on the topic, not as a matter of rigid law, but as a commentary on His design His creatures should embrace. You are left to appeal to a hermeneutical approach that to be true has seriously to qualify what appears in many other passages (without any clear exceptions able to be noted). This significant difference is why I am not persuaded you are right (or even could be right) and also explains why I have appealed to you as sincerely as I can to reconsider.  I find it unlikely you will. We are all in God’s good hands. His reading of our hearts will be true (and far better than anything we can do). It will follow His Word.  

        • Avatar

          Lynn

          I believe
          Dr. Bock,

          One thing that I wanted to achieve in this discussion, in fact over almost five years of this discussion with several people, is the best answer to my beliefs and assertions about the Bible that I could find. I do feel at this point that I’ve done my best to accomplish this, and I don’t want to debate the issue further. I’m not speaking about my discussion with you, because this has obviously been exhausted, and I do appreciate your attention to this subject, but I mean in general. I will likely go on and promote this truth as I see it evidenced, and that will be up to God’s leading in my life. I’m glad the debate did continue further with you. I’m done preaching here, and thank you for allowing me to make my overall case, but please allow me to make some final points. You have your own understanding of these things, and I’m making no claim to be the voice of God; it is merely a discussion.

          1. As far as repeating yourself, it seems to go with the territory, because I’ve done plenty of repeating myself where I believed I had made myself clear, which is why we would agree that our discussion has been exhausted, even though there is much more that could be discussed. It is a difficult discussion to take part in when it is difficult to recognize the other’s belief structure. I think we’ve done our best to bring out what we believe and why.

          I am making the point that I believe you employ “reason” to get to the identification to begin with, because Paul’s words appear to be very clear. I don’t see how this is an automatic idiom situation, when he seems to be making the statement, not only that one should be favored over the other, but that these adornments are not modest and discreet dress. The other examples you gave reflect a cause to consider these passages further, as idioms and not to be taken in the extreme, and this consideration is based on other truths of the Bible. I don’t believe I denied that these other examples work this way. I believe I showed how this is not necessarily the case with this particular example. I’m not entirely sure how Paul would make the case to you that these things are not proper and godly, if the wording “do this and not that” is automatically not as it appears. I also recognized this identification as an idiom being very possibly accurate, and it speaks to what is required in understanding God’s heart and His Word. It requires more than to simply take passages standing by themselves.

          2. As to not having given you positive examples of same-sex, sexually intimate relationships in Scripture, I see no positive examples of many other things liberated by believers in the church in good conscience. Where do we see a positive example of a woman marrying without her father’s permission? And by the way, Scripture gives a father the right to keep his daughter unmarried if he so chooses. Where do we see positive examples of women praying with heads uncovered? Where do we see positive examples of women speaking in church? We see it in the church today. The jewelry example is very clearly in a private setting, and there are negative examples of wearing jewelry to compare this area with also. Where do we see positive examples of tattoos? A tattoo is not inherently a bad thing, and you would have to appeal to a body of laws that we are not under to condemn this practice, which was all about forbidding a pagan identification in that context. etc. We have liberty in categories that are discussed when a distinction is not. Are we not to do anything that we do not see in Scripture? I see a call from God to be honest, reasonable, thinking people. This doesn’t simply leave truth resting in our hands, but it is necessary and valid. It is how He established His Word as I see it, in many ways.

          3. I don’t ignore that God is responsible for the establishing of His Word. I see Him as having established this area in a very explicitly stated context. As to Paul’s authority, again, we do not live by all that he taught, as though his words are the words of Christ. I don’t recognize Paul as something more than a man who was anointed and used greatly by God. God used a mere man, and I believe He expects us to recognize that some of Paul’s teachings are not reasonable to apply as stated, nor do we. That is why I look at Scripture with respect to this fact. Paul is not Jesus Christ Himself. There is no witness from God that we are to follow all of Paul’s instructions, as we have with the witness upon the words of Jesus…I didn’t say we don’t have the witness of God “in this case.” I believe in using reason and thought in what I understand to be God’s will, and I believe this is biblically substantiated in many ways. You deny the necessity of this, as a matter of a biblical principle, and the precedents we see given by Jesus.

          4. As to the reference in Romans to what is “evident within them”…the words speak for themselves. This statement does speak to conscience, as related to what we see in God’s creation. It is one of many aspects that show that this was stated within a clear context, as intended by God. The point is that heterosexuality is not evident within the homosexual person, and there is nothing within us that we have defied, even though it is evident to us that it is how procreation works. You believe God did not create anyone with an inherent homosexual orientation, but this is also evident in God’s creation. To ignore this, I believe is to not consider how God will be viewing the issue in His family. These realities present a compelling case, and show that the design of His creation is not only heterosexual–I believe the only answer to this must revert back to the Mosaic Law, and there is much that can be said about how God established this Law, as related to the new covenant. You don’t find it compelling, but many people of good conscience and character do find these truths compelling, and are accepting of gay people on the basis of all that is available to be seen by all people, in His creation and in these realities of His Word.

          5. You say that you are not persuaded that I could possibly be right, even though I made many arguments that are not without merit, and are based on truths of Scripture. It says nothing to you that former abominations became innocent, and you don’t see this as a principle to be considered regarding inherent truth, and what is stated in John 1:17. Apart from seeing an example of this in Scripture, you will not consider all that I brought out here. And I cannot consider that “gender issues” are something that will condemn a person before a just and loving God. Part of the reason that I cannot consider that any further than I have at times over the years, is God’s witness upon my soul. This is not part of my argument for obvious reasons, but it is relevant to be noted regarding my certainty on this. He loves and accepts His faithful gay and lesbian children. It is part of His design. You are entitled to disagree. I do still appreciate your time with this, and you as a person, but we are in serious disagreement on this issue.

          6. Viewing the two most pertinent issues comparatively: If you take Scripture as you claim, based on the letter and with no use of reason, then I believe it follows that you must believe that all people who divorce and remarry, apart from biblical parameters, are adulterers. If the law–and I believe Paul’s statements and assessment are ultimately founded upon the Mosaic Law, and his nature-based expounding on the issue was speaking about a situation of clear rebellion–cannot be rigid and unreasonable at times, then there is only one valid reason for divorce, and that is infidelity. Long term addiction, physical or emotional abuse, and abandonment (which Paul addressed, but stated that it was from him and not the Lord) are not a valid basis for divorce, based on the letter of the laws, and this would constitute adultery if remarriage takes place. The Bible states that adulterers will also not enter the kingdom of heaven. God is a reasonable God, and He established His Word with the necessity for thought and reason. If someone divorces for selfish reasons and remarries, that will be for God to judge of course, but if the reasons are not unfounded, then there is a consideration to be had here, which is a departure from the letter of the law for the sake of love. This speaks to law, reason, and liberty in my view.

          Dr. Bock, our discussion has been exhausted, as you suggested and I agree. Feelings are too strong on both sides for us to go any further into how we understand God’s Word and this important issue. Complexities also make it difficult to discuss in complete terms. I’ll use self-restraint and let it go on to other commenters, including if you want to address other points that I made here (and thank you to Matt also). God’s glory and His love for us reigns. I agree with you as to God’s infinite goodness, and that His judgment will be found to be according to His Word. I’ll see you later. God bless you Darrell.

          Lynn

          • Avatar

            bock

            Wrap Up on I Believe dlb

            Lynn:

            First, thanks again for hanging in and working through all of this. I plan to respond, I hope, ever so briefly to your points.

            1. I think we are on the same page on this one. Some repetition is inevitable in a give and take like this. Both of us recognize that texts need context and simply reading them for a surface reading may not always reveal the meaning of that text.  Such discussions go one context and topic at a time. 

            2. It is here we have one of our biggest differences. You are consistently appealing to only one half of the argument being made here. You say there are many things permitted that lack specific positive examples (and you list several such credible examples). This misses the point being made. There is a juxtaposition here that is the point of the argument that you only discuss the half of. It is that we have no specific positive example AND several negative texts. These two things are juxtaposed in the queries and argument we make hermeneutically. You pick up the points by discussing them separately. (1) There are examples of texts not meaning what they appear to say on the surface and (2) there are other examples on other topics where we permit things the Bible does not directly address. Both halves of these options are the case, but they do not match what is being asked for here. We are asking for another example where a theme handled so consistently negatively in many texts has an area of permission (i.e. acceptance) attached to it, when there is no positive text on that theme. That makes for a big difference between our readings.

            3. This response shows that the view you have of inspiration is less than what it has historically been where the majority position has been either that all Scripture is inspired in regard to what it intends to say (2 Tim 3:16-17) or that at the least it is inspired in regards to intention in matters of faith and practice (a slightly less comprehensive standard but one that still applies here). This is so regardless of who is doing writing. Your explanation of how you view God using Paul in these texts fits neither of these options on inspiration, being a lesser standard than either of them. The result is that God issues a word He is not ultimately responsible for in terms of content. This seems to place us in a position where we pick and choose what is true beyond appeals to what the text intends to say (so this excludes legitimate literary appeals for assessing what the meaning might be). Your appeal here to reason, inner conviction (God’s witness) and other examples to get there is the door used to get there in this case.

            4. Your sense of God’s witness is revealed and affirmed here. Your appeal to what God has done in creation is rooted in your inner sense of what God has designed, not in the words that are uttered on that topic in many texts. That is the move I think is, frankly, a mistake. Your experience here is placed as a ruler over Scripture. Now you will not like this following comparison, but it will make my point clearly. Men often are "made to possess a predelection to lust," but that does not make it right or righteous. I could simply say, "Well, that is the way God made me. That is creative design. I will just manage it the best I can, or worse, give up trying." That predilection is there for many (most?), but that does not mean God designed it and wishes we ignored it. I place your desire in a similar category. Please note I am not denying it is there, even in a core of your being (as you suggest I do). What I am challenging is whether God is accepting of it being there.

            5. Here you simply restate your inner witness argument as key for you. Believe me I have considered the issues you raise. I am not convinced for the reasons I stated in the last post.

            6. Here you characterized my view. I did not say there is no use of reason in reading Scripture. What I said is that in the case of the text where we have not y but x I am not using reason, but literary structure. I cannot let that description be unaddressed. But your larger point here is God’s reasonableness. I agree God is reasonable; more importantly, He is merciful and speaks about what He calls for us to be and believe primarily through His revelation. I would never figure out by reason or inner witness what He has done through Jesus had he not revealed it first. More importantly, sin does not triumph in Jesus; forgiveness does. Forgiveness is what we all need to pursue. He will give it to those who seek it. For that we can all be grateful. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. That is the hope I hold most dear, for all of us who will enter into His presence will have only one plea in the end, His grace. It is His generosity that makes me sensitive to honor His revealed call to be righteous and I deeply believe His Spirit always pulls us in this direction. May we both keep listening.

            dlb

  • Avatar

    Matt Gumm

    Final Thoughts for Lynn
    Lynn: I read a book one time where the author made the following argument. You’ll never get to what I believe by reading the Bible literally; instead, you need to weight certain passages, learn to discern what is being said, and above all, you have to “trust in God’s character.”

    That particular author was arguing for universal salvation. But the same line of reasoning could be used to argue for pretty much anything. Its fatal flaw is always the same: ignoring God’s clear revelation – Scripture – for something less clear and open to interpretation – feelings.

    This is clearly a part of your worldview, and has been inherent throughout your posts, even though you haven’t explicitly said it until now. That’s why I asked where your Scriptural basis was; because without a Scriptural basis, what you are saying is that you have some sort of revelation that is more authoritative than Scripture. In your case, it appears to be your idea that you have “God’s witness upon your soul.” You even go so far as to say that it is “part of His design.”

    Only there’s no Scriptural evidence that homosexuality is part of God’s design. Let me reiterate what I’ve said previously: God created humans male and female; God instituted marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman; and sexual relations are only proper within marriage, precluding fornication and adultery, as well as incest, homosexual relations, and beastiality.

    All of this is in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, you have Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount; you have Paul giving instructions to the Corinthians, telling them to flee sexual immorality, and later he gives practical, pastoral instructions on how people in various situations can indeed successfully flee sexual immorality.

    You also have in the New Testament homosexual and heterosexual sin universally condemned. You have God’s definition of marriage reaffirmed in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5 also clearly speaks to God’s created order of things. The husband/wife relationship is even a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church – something that is completely lost if you make the relationship as two of the same kind.

    The testimony to this point is consistent and abundant. Then we arrive at Romans 1, and it becomes explicit. “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 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 themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27, ESV).

    Paul says here that the ungodly reject God so completely that they even reject His perfectly obvious created order of things, and exchange natural relations for unnatural ones: women with women, and men with men. There is no ambiguity here.

    You said before that I “diminished what you were speaking of (the law of liberty) as if it didn’t exist in the Bible.” What I was trying to say before, and what I am reiterating now, is that there is a mountain of testimony regarding God’s creation of mankind, of His intentions and boundaries for sexuality, and how He regards sexual immorality, as well as a specific discussion and condemnation of homosexuality.

    All of it stands on one side. And you stand on the other.

    The reason I asked you to look at and to consider the order of creation was that you have missed the fundamental truth of creation. God created them male and female. Even if Jesus fulfilled every Old Testament law, and we are liberated in the way that you have argued, the order of creation is not repealed; the institution of marriage has not been revoked. It is affirmed everywhere you look, while deviant sexual behavior of all types is condemned everywhere you look.

    The problem with your law of love, as you’ve described it, is that it has to do solely with interactions with other people. The centerpiece of your positive arguments for monogomous homosexuality against other forms of deviant sexuality are that they don’t hurt the other person. In fact, you’ve even said “sin, in my view, is whatever goes against the law of love.”

    But sin is first and foremost against God, and only after that is it against another human being. So the law of love (or the law of liberty) is misplaced when it relates only to other people, and ignores what God has said.

    Paul told the Galatians that even if he or an angel from heaven came preaching a different gospel, they should be accursed (Gal. 1:8). Peter says in 2 Peter 1 and the Word of God is more sure even than his experience on the mount of transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-19).

    As Dr. Bock said, “your appeal to what God has done in creation is rooted in your inner sense of what God has designed, not in the words that are uttered on that topic in many texts. That is the move I think is, frankly, a mistake. Your experience here is placed as a ruler over Scripture.” I urge you to reconsider the basis for your beliefs, and to start basing those beliefs on Scripture itself, including getting your view of God from there. If not, you are doing what the author I mentioned earlier was doing: trusting in God’s “character,” but ignoring His self-revelation.

    • Avatar

      Lynn

      Further thoughts
      Dr. Bock,

      I believe I will achieve briefness at this point, but I do have to address one thing that you said concerning lust. I want to be abundantly clear that there is a big difference between what is in a person in their natural, God-given desires, and how one lives their life. Self-control is of utmost importance, including in one’s thought-life, and is one of the fruits of the Spirit. What is in me is the same as what is in any healthy person who desires love and intimacy. It is not in some other category; it is part of the gay person’s natural makeup. You don’t seem to necessarily be in disagreement with this. The person who opens themselves up to the forces of darkness (or who was possibly subjected to it through abuse, both of whom need deliverance by the power of the Holy Spirit), has feelings that are in a different category, be it uncontrollable desire or abuse. Sin places one in bondage. To view this issue in that category is completely inaccurate, regardless of how you understand what He expects from us. It is evidenced in the makeup of a segment of humanity.

      Your answer to the person who feels that they were born with a homosexual orientation, is to abide by the Scriptural references to the order of creation, and the fact that God made people male and female. Your belief is fair and I accept that. I believe there is more to the issue than to understand God this way, because I believe His love, understanding, and compassion towards the person for whom this is not fulfillment, due to how they were created and born, matters to God. I understand Him this way from the love that He revealed in His Word, and that I have received in my heart. I don’t think you are recognizing the profoundness of sexual orientation, and the undesirability of conformity to what is undesirable in terms of the gender of your partner, or living your life without a companion, but I accept your view and do not consider you dishonest for holding that view. Truly. (some things that people say and do in His name…that is another story)

      (I could’ve been brief if it were not for your other guest here, so I’ll address him.)

      Matt, I just want to say to you that the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the question of God’s expectations for how people are to understand this issue, are not at all the same to me. It is my wholehearted belief, and I am convinced in my spirit of this, that no one will enter into heaven apart from His grace. Man’s reasoning does not comprehend the gift of what He has done for us, or apply here in the least. The identity of Jesus Christ is revealed in Scripture. An issue pertaining to His law is subject to reason, particularly where there are complexities, in my view, and this is not baseless in Scripture, due to the truths of law and liberty.

      As to what you call “my idea” of God’s witness upon my soul…this is not some subjective feeling of what seems right to me, it is a revelation of His Spirit. Many years of walking with God, having given myself to Him fully, and His presence in my life for 26 years at least, have made it not a consideration that I have been deceived by the devil, and I have fully brought this to God. There is still plenty of work to be done in me–there are areas to be more fully given to Him, but this area is not one of them, as I understand God in my life, and self-control pertaining to sexual relationships is a guiding force in my life.

      Matt, I appreciate your words…but unless you believe that God is heterosexual, we are not talking about His “self-revelation.” We are talking about His creation, of which gay people are part. Romans 1:18-20 is regarding His power and divine nature, and is speaking to what is “evident.” This is evident, even though you are focused on the evidence of heterosexuality. This is speaking about people who reject God. That is a very distinct kind of spirit, it is not only about this issue, but we will probably differ on this until the second coming. Reading your letter, why do I feel that the debate has only just begun. Your presentation on the topic is well-substantiated, and the desire of my heart is to seek and to honor God. So I will bring this before God again. I did get my understanding of God from Scripture. He is not a God of a rigid use of the Law. This is evidenced in many ways.

      The “law of love” absolutely is love for God, first and foremost. You don’t see this in my writings, because you are expecting me to align myself with something that I don’t see as you do. It is not unambiguous to me–Paul’s statement is surrounded with a vivid context, including within the statement, which speaks of a different kind of character, one who clearly has no regard for God or people. This described character is not present in all gay people.

      Here I am a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, who has poured out His love and His Spirit in my heart, and I was also born a gay woman, and I am not under God’s condemnation. He didn’t create me to have no self-restraint, as individuals who do not love Him, but He did create me gay. This is evidenced dating back to my childhood. If it is an “imperfection,” we are not under the Old Testament Law, and God loves and accepts all of His children. I see it as a perfect part of His plan. Very much so. Love is what is moral and what is perfect. It is what will triumph and will reign supreme. It is spiritual. We are not charged by God to abide by all of the instructions of Paul…nor do we. You see emphasis…I see that Paul was capable of speaking in ways that are not always relevant to our lives. What is serious is spiritual rebellion–gender is in another category. There is not a mountain of evidence on one side, and me on the other side. I have a mountain of evidence on this side with me. This issue has complexities, and I believe you have misunderstood the heart of God.

      This being said…I will completely open up my heart to God, and do so all over again, on the issue of His acceptance of me as a gay person, a person who is in Him, and a person who is not disobedient to Him. His will will be revealed to me, just as He said it would be. It is not based on the letter of the laws of Scripture, as I understand His Word. I’ll prayerfully look again at these very compelling issue of Scripture, and look to the heart of the One who loves me.

      I’m done here, but I wonder if I can get your take on what I said about divorce and remarriage in my last post. It is an interesting element of Scripture, and the understanding of the Christian faith.

      Thank you guys for bending your ear a little more, and for expressing your heart-felt understanding of God to me.

      • Avatar

        bock

        Further Thoughts dlb

        Lynn:

        This will sound cynical, but it is not. You had to answer the lust question the way you did. I see nothing in your reply about what is natural inside a person that could not be said about lust. The difference is that you accept the call of Scripture for self control, but question its call in the area you have inner certainty that is how God made you. There are ways God has designed the love and intimacy you desire that follow what He has said and affirms what He has written without having to work hard to make the point. Your what is "evidenced in a segment of humanity" standard is certainly true of lust. Your "created and born" argument also fits there. All sin and fall short of God’s glory but that does not make sin right. So the "many are there and reflects God’s creation" argument does not work.

        dlb

        • Avatar

          Lynn

          Discussion continued
          I answered the way I did because it is the truth as I see it evidenced. You seem to be suggesting that I am conforming my beliefs to my presumed conclusion, even if I have to be dishonest to reach that conclusion, but I am answering honestly and objectively.

          Here is my understanding of this aspect of the discussion: What is natural inside a person is placed there by God, and it is part of the gift of life. It would’ve been there even if sin never came into the human race, and I have no doubt quite passionately. It is part of His creation. He created people with a desire for closeness and intimacy, and for sexual fulfillment. I explained the scenario where it can become excessive and outside of His will, even out of control, which goes with the territory of “sin.” “Lust” is described in Scripture to be a sinful desire. How you live your life is separate from the feelings you have. That is where “self-control” comes in.

          You wrote: “Now you will not like this following comparison, but it will make my point clearly. Men often are “made to possess a predelection to lust,” but that does not make it right or righteous. I could simply say, “Well, that is the way God made me. That is creative design. I will just manage it the best I can, or worse, give up trying.” That predilection is there for many (most?), but that does not mean God designed it and wishes we ignored it. I place your desire in a similar category. Please note I am not denying it is there, even in a core of your being (as you suggest I do). What I am challenging is whether God is accepting of it being there.”

          It all goes back to which part of yourself you feed most, the spirit or the flesh. Desire is part of God’s creation and is not sin–unless you become too absorbed in it, in your mind or in carrying it out, then it becomes sin. There is a right way and a wrong way to handle these feelings. Do you deny that this is true…because I’m not sure where you are coming from.

          I’m not sure where the “gender” aspect of your argument comes into play here. My point has to do with the quality and the origin of the feelings. Just because it is for a woman and not a man, doesn’t render feelings to be any different in quality than if it were for a man. Your comparison is not a direct one.

          You are characterizing my feelings as inherently lustful, just as you seem to be saying that a man’s feelings are inherently lustful, or excessive and sinful, which doesn’t seem to be drawing a distinction between right feelings and wrong feelings, or the wrong way to handle them. If a man goes around lusting after what he sees, or spending time with porn, or committing fornication or adultery, he is sinning. If he has a sin problem, we know what the answer is, and he will have to learn to give that to God and walk in the Spirit, and find freedom in Christ and keep his desires in check. The same is true for women. Maybe there is a fine line between what you would characterize as what God did create, and an “excessive” desire, but it still comes back to how you think and live your life. I don’t know what I have I said here that you disagree with. It may be a difference in the definition of lust. I’ve made obedience a commitment, and for good reasons. God is first.

          To address your points further:

          “I see nothing in your reply about what is natural inside a person that could not be said about lust. The difference is that you accept the call of Scripture for self control, but question its call in the area you have inner certainty that is how God made you.”

          I addressed the first part in the above paragraph. There is a difference in the quality of the feelings and the life. As to the second: “Self-control” is a character quality. It is one of the “fruits of the spirit” (Gal. 5:22,23) and reflects the nature of God Himself. The “heterosexual design,” and the profound desire that goes with that, is not a character quality. It is not present in the homosexual person, who feels the same kind of desire, but for the same sex. Therefore, it is legalism in my view to believe that heterosexuality is paramount to God, rather than fulfillment, joy, and peace in the lives of people.

          By the way, this chapter in Galatians speaks about the fact that the law does not necessarily represent inherent truth, as in John 1:17 and other passages, and that “it is for freedom that you were set free,” speaking about the believer’s relationship to law, which is why it leads into the “essence of truth”…the fruits of the Spirit.

          “There are ways God has designed the love and intimacy you desire that follow what He has said and affirms what He has written without having to work hard to make the point.”

          I thought we already established that God did not specifically say that same-sex relationships are acceptable to Him. And you are suggesting some sort of acrobatics here, but what I am saying is clear and well-founded.

          “Your what is “evidenced in a segment of humanity” standard is certainly true of lust. Your “created and born” argument also fits there. All sin and fall short of God’s glory but that does not make sin right. So the “many are there and reflects God’s creation” argument does not work.”

          Actually there is a very distinct and profound qualitative difference here, in your life and in your thoughts. Sin is never right. I believe you have confused the natures of things. Disregard for God or people, rebellion, unthankfulness, unwillingness to be patient and faithful, living for the flesh…these things are sin. A person’s biological and psychological makeup, and the decision to fulfill your true, God-given sexual orientation, in a faithful relationship, is not sin as I understand the concept, and is a matter of one’s own conscience and personal relationship with God (much like the valid reasons for divorce, that were not part of the biblical criteria for acceptable divorce).

          Heterosexuality is not God–it is His creation. You seem to want to divorce gay people from His creation, but we are part of His creation and His family, just as heterosexual people are.

          • Avatar

            bock

            cont dlb

            This is the most confused response you have given yet. I am not accusing you of dishonesty, but of a consistency that had to be there or else your position had to change. This is why I raised the matter of possible cynicism in reading what I was saying. I was trying to preclude that very reaction.

            Now in this past post you elevate a certain kind of desire as part of a gift of life from God.  It is almost sounding sacred. Who would want to challenge it? Nice rhetorically —- and dead wrong. Now let me press the point because it is important to this continued discussion. In Genesis 1-2 when God is creating humanity He makes them male and female. Why? A male alone was not enough. Creating a second male was not the answer. Creating a woman was. This IS the divine design. The completion of creation required a male and a female. Nothing in your second paragraph of the last post touches this narrative in its theological emphasis or its theological core.  In fact, it ignores or dismisses it completely. This is why I absolutely reject your attempt to call this reading or my apporach to the issue legalism. Every point you make to contrast law and freedom here ignores that those texts are dealing with the Jewish system of law (both John 1:17 and Galatians), not the idea that God has said things He means to govern human life. We are dealing with a core creation narrative here in which the female element (and the complementary relationship it creates) serves as the high point of the narrative. It is the strategic and significant location of this narrative and its statement about male and female that generates so much of the emotion we see on this subject. 

            We do agree on one thing. Desire versus absorbed desire. But that missed the point of the example and explanation in the lust example. Every justification you gave for your inner feeling applies to lust.  So what if I replied, well, I control my lust, so it is OK in that limited sense. The answer is that lust is wrong in part because God has said that such desire is an offense to the way people should regard each other. It objectifies people in ways that are not reflective of love. (By the way, in making the point I was NOT accusing you of lust as the post also suggests. This was a comparison, not an identification). I made the comparison to lust to show how the arguments you make for "the evidenced desire you have within" could be applied easily in another area we both accept as wrong. That same argument could be made to attempt to justify it, despite reasons you and I give and share to say lust is wrong. What it shows is the danger of making the kind of an argument you have for where you are.

            Now I called the response confused especially because of this paragraph from you: "I thought we already established that God did not specifically say that same-sex relationships are acceptable to Him. And you are suggesting some sort of acrobatics here, but what I am saying is clear and well-founded."

            My response: If we have established this point- that there is no such clear text to make this affirmation- and we have, then any attempt to defend such behavior has to work to get there. And we have spent several posts showing the hermeneutical work you have to do to try and get a positive out of several texts that rebuke plus positive silence (the combination of these two was the point of my past post to you). 

            The final confusion (or overreaction) came at the end. You say, "Heterosexuality is not God–it is His creation. You seem to want to divorce gay people from His creation, but we are part of His creation and His family, just as heterosexual people are."

            I have NEVER denied your humanity or that you are His creature. In fact, I have gone out of my way to affirm you as a person apart from the practice, partly by contending that your obvious commitment to God in much of what you say means it is worth having a serious give and take on this topic. Now if "Heterosexuality is… His creation" as you claim in the above statement, then the question becomes, why not honor it as the way He made the world as Gen 1-2 argue? You are a part of His creation and even His family, but that does not mean that what you are advocating honors God (and it is especially this advocacy part of your activity I find most troublesome). No one is claiming that choice of sexuality is God (another rhetorical, emotive seeking move). They are contending that what God rebukes demands our serious attention to correct.

            Lynn, this last post suggests to me things are wearing thin. This is how I will explain the confusion (and rhetorical excess) I see in your last post. It is not like the others. We are repeating ourselves on what is God-given. I only have tried one more time to wrap up because your response in this case was so off the points being made I had to correct the record. If I was unclear, that was not the intent.  I hope this explanation, though direct, was clearer.

            dlb 

      • Avatar

        Matt Gumm

        re: Further Thoughts
        Lynn: It seems like we’ve made our way back to the beginning of this discussion.

        In his first answer to you, Dr. Bock said something I want reference.

        Your blog claims too much in terms of the theme of liberty. Romans 1 is rooted in issues of divine design, not just “heart” positions. This means that Paul’s condemnation on issues of sexuality are not annulled or trumped by themes of liberty alone. In other words, heart is but one element of the theological and creational discussion. Your position reflects a reductionism in removing other key features of the biblical argument from consideration. There is a fundamental differentiation and complementarian role in the divinely rooted and intended male-female design that is in view here. This is as compelling a consideration as any claim to liberty as a moral category. Not all discussions of law apply this kind of a principle to the discussion of other areas, so that a mere equation of law and liberty may apply to certain areas (eg, food laws, worship on certain days) but not to others.

        In other words, it’s not just a simple matter of liberty, because we’re talking about more than just the law here. It’s not just the Mosaic Law. It’s not just Romans 1. God’s specific design for His creation is seen throughout creation.

        Before I go on, I want to make sure you haven’t misunderstood my point about God’s self-revelation. No, I don’t think of God is “heterosexual.” God is without gender, as best I understand, as are the angels, and as we will be when we get to heaven (Luke 22:34-36; parallels in Matthew 22 & Mark 12). God’s “self-revelation” is Scripture – a written record of what we need to know, how we need to live, but above all, a written record to show us who He is.

        Now, let’s think about God’s design as it relates to these questions. Why did He make humans male and female? Why did He institute marriage? How did He define marriage? It doesn’t matter what you or I or Dr. Bock think, or what state governments or the Constitution of the United States says. God is the creator, and He has a sovereign right to define marriage and right sexual relationships. And He has. Scripture teaches that the only right sexual relationship is one between a married man and woman. Do you see anything in Scripture that teaches something different?

        It is evident that God made humans male and female. And without trying to be graphic, the evidence goes down to the very way our reproductive organs fit together.

        Clearly, that’s not the only idea in Romans 1. Romans also references the same idea that David had in Psalm 19, writing that the heavens declared God’s glory, pouring forth speech day after day, and knowledge night after night; speaking volumes without words…they are a mute testimony to their Creator. (In that Psalm, by the way, David goes on to extol the virtues of God’s law. He knew God because He knew His Word.)

        But surely part of the testimony of creation is about God’s design of human beings. That’s why Romans 1 is relevant to the discussion.

        Let’s talk divorce and remarriage for a minute. This is a difficult question, to be sure.

        You said: If you take Scripture as you claim, based on the letter and with no use of reason, then I believe it follows that you must believe that all people who divorce and remarry, apart from biblical parameters, are adulterers.

        I find myself trying to understand just exactly where you’re going with this. Are you saying that there is now freedom to divorce and remarry? Because if you are, you’re forced to contend with Jesus as well as Paul.

        Here’s what Jesus says:

        And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:3-9, ESV).

        What Paul says later allows for some additional limited circumstances. But even though pastors and theologians disagree on some of the issues surrounding divorce, it seems clear that God’s overarching theme is no divorce. One pastor I know of has even gone so far to say that when God is unfaithful to us, then we can divorce our spouses. Ouch!

        Here’s why I think the divorce argument is a non-starter for you. There are 3 possible ways I can think of to address the issue.

        1) The Church could be simply disobedient to what God says. I think most churches are disobedient on the matter of church discipline, to take just one example. So perhaps the Church is disobedient, and all of those people are adulterers. But that doesn’t help your case. As Dr. Bock said, inconsistency isn’t solved by being inconsistent on more issues.

        2) It could be sin, but that sin like all others can be forgiven with repentance. These people could be guilty of adultery, but can receive forgiveness by their repentance. I know of people who believe and teach this. This doesn’t help your case either, though, because you don’t believe what you’re doing is sin or requires repentance.

        3) It could be something that has changed. In order to make this argument successfully, one must say that what was true in the Old Testament, what was true according to Jesus, and what was true in the pages of the New Testament no longer apply to us today. And indeed, I think that is your argument.

        The problem with that argument is obvious: even if you can successfully argue that there is discontinuity between the covenants on this point, you still have the issue that Paul is writing according to the New Covenant. So if something has changed, it must have changed since then.

        Even more damaging is that the thing you’re arguing for as having changed is something that was fundamental to God’s creation and has been present since the beginning of recorded history. Society didn’t set it up that way; God did.

        And even if all of this is true, it still doesn’t support the claim that God now approves of homosexual relationships. Throughout Scripture, God demonstrates His design for human beings as one man and one woman united together. Anything outside of this is outside His laws, yes, but also outside His design.

        Let me finish for now by saying that God loves sinners enough that He made a way for them to be reconciled to Him through faith and repentance. Thinking that something is not sin when the Bible calls it sin is the opposite of repentance. So long as you continue to call something “acceptable” that the Bible calls sin, I fear for you, as I would for anyone who refused to accept God’s testimony. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about homosexuality, lying, murder, or gossip, or any other sin. Unless we repent, we are condemned already.

        • Avatar

          Lynn

          Matt…
          Matt, I usually put more time into my posts in this discussion, but let me just give you my brief response, and sometime tomorrow I will have time to address you more fully if you have had a chance to reply. I ask that you will please read number 6 in a previous post of mine, regarding divorce and remarriage. I am speaking about valid reasons for divorce, and therefore for remarriage. Matt, are you suggesting that these are not valid reasons for divorce? This is a very relevant aspect of the discussion. It proves much as I see it. Please read carefully what I am saying there, and I’ll get back to you.

          • Avatar

            Matt Gumm

            re: Valid reasons for divorce
            I’ll wait for your longer reply.

            My short answer is this.

            1) If we’re going to use discernment, as you’ve advocated on many occasions, surely we must factor into the equation how God feels about divorce (ie., He hates it) and what Jesus says about divorce. And we must decide if Paul was changing what Jesus said, or merely refining it (clarifying)? Which brings me to…

            2) My question for you is this: are there more grounds for divorce or less as we move from the Old Testament to the New? Is the New Testament more restrictive or less restrictive? And are the grounds for divorce today different than they are in the NT?

          • Avatar

            Lynn

            To Dr. Bock
            I guess we will have to disagree again Dr. Bock. When you say that someone “has to answer the way they did,” you are strongly implying that they have not been honest and objective in their response, exactly as I explained it yesterday. This is an attempt, in my view, to speak against the credibility of my answer. I do not align my understanding to my ultimate conclusion; my answer was based on these truths of the Bible and reality.

            But first, the other statement to be dealt with made by you. For clarity, I’ll repeat the dialog in sequence. It started with your statement:

            “There are ways God has designed the love and intimacy you desire that follow what He has said and affirms what He has written without having to work hard to make the point.”

            My response, which you call confused: “I thought we already established that God did not specifically say that same-sex relationships are acceptable to Him. And you are suggesting some sort of acrobatics here, but what I am saying is clear and well-founded.”

            Dr. Bock, your statement to me is along the lines of playing games, and I know my saying that may be a conversation ender, but I have tried to speak respectfully at all times, and I merely want to you think about what you are saying to me.

            You are saying that I “can have the love and intimacy that I desire, as spoken of in Scripture.” Dr. Bock, I would rather not spend time explaining the obvious to you regarding the fundamentals of the issue that we are discussing, and I hope and trust that the readers can see that you are not dealing straight in saying this to me. It is an insult to the intelligence. (It is quite a phenomenon to me, if they would agree with you on this.)

            As far as the “trying to work hard to make my point” part…you and I are on two different pages on this, as well as on the first part of your statement.

            What we are discussing here is regarding the subtleties of the truths of the issue. It is all based on, actually, many substantial truths of Scripture. It does require some explanation, since we are not discussing something that is plain on the surface. Therefore, to say that I am “working hard” to make my point is something of a cheap shot, and is not regarding what we are discussing here. It is possible that you believe I am working hard, because there are so many truths of both Scripture and the issue itself that come into play here. There are quite a few areas to look at, in understanding that the Bible is not something that can be taken in a simplistic manner. It is also possible that you believe I am working hard, because you are making simple truths complicated, such as the “lust” aspect of the the discussion.

            In reference to this aspect of our dialog:

            To repeat the simple concept that I am working with here…there is a distinct, profound, qualitative difference between “lust” and “innate homosexuality” in a person. My point is that it is the same, qualitatively, as what is in any healthy person who desires a relationship. Lust is in a different category. The mere existence of both things does not make a point.

            You said here: “We do agree on one thing. Desire versus absorbed desire. But that missed the point of the example and explanation in the lust example. Every justification you gave for your inner feeling applies to lust. So what if I replied, well, I control my lust, so it is OK in that limited sense.” (italics added by me)

            With all due respect, Dr. Bock, in response to the highlighted part: FALSE. You are comparing the simple fact of the gender issue, in which the feelings are the same qualitatively as the feelings of the heterosexual person, to the temptation to lust after people. We agree on your definition of lust here: “The answer is that lust is wrong in part because God has said that such desire is an offense to the way people should regard each other. It objectifies people in ways that are not reflective of love.” This does describe lust. This does not describe the feelings of the gay person. You place both things in the same category, on the basis of the mere existence of both things, which is not a sound argument. You have not explained a qualitative similarity, you have only asserted your belief that it is wrong and should not be fulfilled! It is not the same. You can disagree, but I speak from the experience of what it is. The point is, your argument is lacking substantiation.

            Ultimately, where this aspect of the discussion leads, is to God’s relationship with the person who was born gay. Your contention is that the heart of God towards His gay child is essentially this: “Absolutely not. I don’t care if this is your heart’s desire for a relationship and life-partnership, and it is irrelevant to Me if it is rooted in your natural makeup, or how clearly evidenced this is dating back to your childhood…I do not accept your heart’s desire being fulfilled in this. All people are to be heterosexual or celibate.” You can say that He would say it a bit more gently, but the essential meaning is still what you contend to be the truth of God.

            You can hold this position if you want to. I know it to be untrue. I do have God’s acceptance, and His confirmation that I have correctly understood His heart, and this correctly understood from His Word.

            You are making a case based not on the Law, but based on God’s creation of Adam and Eve, and the fact of God creating people male and female. The problem is that your belief leaves out the compassion and understanding of our good and loving God. Your belief asserts the idea that there is a problem with the acceptance of a segment of God’s family being gay, and acceptance of these individuals in a relationship with someone of the same sex, with whom they are in love and committed for life. You say that this love that is experienced by people, in a life-partnership and building a home together, is not something that is sacred, and that I am making it sound like something sacred. You are entitled to your own belief. The fact is that heterosexuality will always be predominant in society, and there is no “natural law” reason why same-sex relationships cannot be acceptable to God. He is a God who works with many different kinds of situations in the lives of people. His goal is still love, for all people.

            You can call this teaching whatever you like. It was laid upon me by God, and the arguments were not made in a confused manner. In saying that “heterosexuality is not God, it is His creation”…I am only asking that you consider the level that you have placed it on. You make it essential to the very definition of Christianity, as if the nature of God is heterosexual. The nature of God is love.

            What I am speaking about is an understanding that we are not called to live by a rigid application of the laws of the Bible, and this truth is based on many passages and components of the Bible. You can disregard these truths and assert your belief as unquestionable. Your understanding of God’s heart towards the gay individual is not unquestionable. Your belief is based on the idea that there can be no exceptions, and the establishment of heterosexuality constitutes a law, which gay people are to abide by, to the loss of the same fulfillment enjoyed by the heterosexual person. You claim that I have ignored the establishment of heterosexuality in God’s creation, but gay people are not oblivious to these facts of God’s creation. We are constantly spoken to as though we are oblivious to the facts of heterosexuality. We were born gay, and this is a fact of creation. The law of God is clearly stated in His Word to be love, in its entirety. Heterosexuality is not the special law that many people have made it out to be, as standing out in the three percent or so of the laws of the Bible that we find in the practice of the Christian faith. I haven’t done the math…maybe it is five percent.

            Your statement: “The completion of creation required a male and a female. Nothing in your second paragraph of the last post touches this narrative in its theological emphasis or its theological core. In fact, it ignores or dismisses it completely. This is why I absolutely reject your attempt to call this reading or my apporach to the issue legalism. Every point you make to contrast law and freedom here ignores that those texts are dealing with the Jewish system of law (both John 1:17 and Galatians), not the idea that God has said things He means to govern human life.”

            I’m not so much contrasting law with “freedom,” as law with “truth.” It is an important distinction, because the law of God, which is love, is ultimately based on truth.

            “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

            The legalism is in believing that heterosexuality is truth for all people, and therefore required. Some people were born homosexual, and God loves them and wants them to be fulfilled in love, just as for the heterosexual person. This is not a statement that all people are to have a life-partner, as some were “called” to celibacy. (Though fulfillment in love is His goal for all people.) There is also no substantiation for a belief that all gay people were called to celibacy.

            As to your statement: “Lynn, this last post suggests to me things are wearing thin.” Dr. Bock, your statements are unfounded, and God will be the Judge of our arguments. What is wearing thin, is that the very serious and relevant issue of divorce and remarriage is not being addressed, in response to the realities of what I brought up in number 6 of my recent post, “I believe.” Does it prove too much to address specifically? Matt goes into a lengthy discourse on divorce, and portraying me as basically saying that Bible is not relevant anymore, which is far from what I have done, without addressing the realities of the Bible and this issue that I brought up for discussion. Many things curiously do not get addressed in this dialog. He is continuing that trend in his last post. (I just read his answer to the question, and he still does not address the real issues. This aspect of the discussion has not been addressed until the valid reasons for divorce have been addressed. This is about concern for the welfare and peace of people, which is not something Jesus would outlaw. And these reasons are outside the strict, biblical parameters for divorce.)

            I’m saying this in the best attitude that I can, and it is all simply brought to the table for discussion. I can’t imagine how Matt has ignored the clear concepts of what I wrote about in that paragraph, while boldly addressing the issue. I hold these beliefs strongly, that God does accept His faithful gay and lesbian children, and that He also accepts their relationships. I have worked to present my beliefs in the right attitude. It is ultimately for the glory of God and truth. He has confirmed these things again to me, as He did before, because He knew that I would not go forward on this without His approval. It is in His hands.

            You said: “The final confusion (or overreaction) came at the end. You say, “Heterosexuality is not God–it is His creation. You seem to want to divorce gay people from His creation, but we are part of His creation and His family, just as heterosexual people are.”

            “I have NEVER denied your humanity or that you are His creature. In fact, I have gone out of my way to affirm you as a person apart from the practice, partly by contending that your obvious commitment to God in much of what you say means it is worth having a serious give and take on this topic.”

            Are you not denying that homosexuality is part of His creation? That was my point here, not that you deny my humanity. I didn’t intend to imply that you do not affirm the gay individual as a person, apart from practice–you don’t divorce the “person,” and I agree that you don’t do that…only the idea that they are a “gay person,” as created by God, which would constitute further consideration by Christians on the issue. That was my intention in saying this. As I understand your beliefs, you maintain that God could only create people heterosexual, and you will not consider anything else. Maybe I have misunderstood your belief on that. And maybe you don’t believe that most people are innately heterosexual, and your belief is that people marry heterosexually to obey the order of creation. I don’t believe that. They marry because it is the desire of their hearts, and most people are heterosexual by nature.

            I’ve made my purpose for bringing out these truths clear, and it is not a matter of presenting a bold case for a call for people to adopt the belief in acceptance. That is in God’s hands, and He will do with this what He will do. It is merely a call to consider more carefully what your beliefs are, and the question of whether your assertions about the Bible are consistent, honest, and considered with depth. It is also a call to speak only what can be said truthfully, which is lacking in many ways in the church. Distortions are not truths, just because they may contain a kernel of truth. I don’t believe God accepts anything less than what can be said in complete truth.

            To Matt, I will answer your question, and I hope you will not decline to discuss the divorce and remarriage issue further.

          • Avatar

            bock

            Lynn, Conversation Ender dlb

            Lynn, you are right. Our conversation is at an end. In part, because now you can tell me what I mean when I say things to you, especially when you claim the answer is based on truth claims of the Bible when you acknowledge the specific point does not exist in the text (thus my "work hard" claim). You have continually in the last few posts charged me with making moves I am not making. I never said you were playing games. I am suggesting an inconsistency here; that is a different charge. It is next to impossible to have a good discussion when arguments are recast with motives not intended. (You did this earlier with someone else and I called you on it then)

            When I said your arguments applied to lust, I specifically said it was the  "inner evidence in many" claim that I was challenging here (In fact I said it in two posts). It helps if you get the point of comparison right in responding. Sorry to be so direct, but your responses do not engage the point being made even when it is specified; they simply try to go elsewhere to argue the comparison is not the same. I understand that claim, but am simply pointing out what you say about yourself another could apply elsewhere (even though we agreee there it is not legitimate).

            As to what God is saying to the gay, the answer actually is far simpler than the words you put in my mouth. I am saying God simply says, "This desire is wrong. It is sin. It is NOT the way I intended you to be made, no matter how deeply you feel it in your soul" (just as a person could claim they feel lust deep in their soul)

            You continue to put words in my mouth when you say I make heterosexuality equal to Christianity. I do not because of the cross which deals with all sin, which we all commit. Fortunately, forall of us, God’s mercy is great. 

            Please let me speak for myself and do not put words in my mouth. I am not denying that homosexuality exists in the creation. I am denying God is responsible for it and endorses it as a righteous way to live. Until I get a text that says so (in the face of many that do not—and make the opposite point with emphasis), I cannot go there (as easy as that might be in a culture that regularly downgrades sin’s standard and presence). Be self assured you speak truthfully. I, for my part, I am not so sure you meet that standard when so much said in God’s word on this topic is relativized in an opposite direction by your reading (monogamous, yes, I get that limitation you are making; but endorsing, even in a limited way, a life style every note in Scripture is negative about). That is why I am challenging you here. Love requires it from me. (It would be easier to just say nothing and walk away). Please take my directness being motivated by a requirement of love (just as I see your case being argued out of a heart that believes what you say is biblical).  So we agree to disagree as to who is not being fair with God here. I am not sure there is much more to be said. I still wish you all the best. 

          • Avatar

            Lynn

            I’ll agree…
            I’ll agree to end the conversation, Dr. Bock, but I hope you will allow me to state my understanding of what is being said here. Conversations can be difficult when people think very differently, which is apparent in our dialog.

            In your comment: “There are ways God has designed the love and intimacy you desire that follow what He has said and affirms what He has written without having to work hard to make the point.”

            And my answer, which you call confused: “I thought we already established that God did not specifically say that same-sex relationships are acceptable to Him. And you are suggesting some sort of acrobatics here, but what I am saying is clear and well-founded.”

            My charge here is not that you are saying that I am playing games…my charge here is that you are playing games in your statement, which is not in keeping with the discussion we are having, and the person you are speaking to. Obviously the Bible does not specifically endorse the same -sex relationship, so how can the gay person have their desire fulfilled “according to the direct words of Scripture”? I don’t know what conversation you are having in your statement.

            As far as your statement: “It is next to impossible to have a good discussion when arguments are recast with motives not intended.”

            I have been dealing with your exact words. You are making the statement that “lust” is in the same category as “inherent homosexuality,” without showing that it is the same in quality, but citing this on the basis that “both exist in humanity.”

            You are even repeating that here:

            “When I said your arguments applied to lust, I specifically said it was the “inner evidence in many” claim that I was challenging here (In fact I said it in two posts). It helps if you get the point of comparison right in responding. Sorry to be so direct, but your responses do not engage the point being made even when it is specified; they simply try to go elsewhere to argue the comparison is not the same. I understand that claim, but am simply pointing out what you say about yourself another could apply elsewhere (even though we agreee there it is not legitimate).”

            We agree on the definition of “lust,” and it is rooted in a poor character quality and attitude towards people…but you have not made a case for how it is “comparable,” other than in the fact that both exist, and someone can say that “God made me to lust, so it is okay.” The fact that someone could make this claim, does not state any quality of life or character in desiring to lust. The mere fact of the gender issue in the gay person, does not state a contrast to the quality of the character of the feelings of the straight person. That is why I said that no point was made there, and it was not a direct comparison. I trust that some people understand all that has been said here. I did not apply any motive to your words, this is the exact exchange between you and I on this subject. The two things are qualitatively very different.

            (Part of my point is that it is evidenced in the “makeup” of the person, which does not speak to evidence of their feelings, but is evidenced outwardly for not all but many gay people, hence “psychological and physical makeup,” and also seen in preferences they evidence in childhood.)

            Your words: “Every justification you gave for your inner feeling applies to lust.”

            This was the focal point of our exchange on this. This is a patently false statement about the feelings of the gay person, and all that I have said in regards to the issue, as compared to the definition of lust. But your issue is that you believe I applied a false motive to your statement. One of our arguments was wearing thin, which God will decide.

            “As to what God is saying to the gay, the answer actually is far simpler than the words you put in my mouth. I am saying God simply says, “This desire is wrong. It is sin. It is NOT the way I intended you to be made, no matter how deeply you feel it in your soul” (just as a person could claim they feel lust deep in their soul)”

            The words I supposedly put in your mouth were not different from what you are saying here. It was merely put in a different framework. The meaning was exactly the same.

            Also, a person can feel “murder” and “hate” and “greed” very deeply in their soul. “Depth” of feeling is not my argument–evil can run very deep. “Makeup” is my argument, and it is in a very different category from sin. God knows who His children are.

            “You continue to put words in my mouth when you say I make heterosexuality equal to Christianity.”

            You make it “essential” to the faith, in the sense that to understand God’s heart as accepting of the gay person is “heresy” in your view. His nature is “love.” To accept the hater, the murderer, the thief, the adulterer…as living according to His will and being an acceptable member of His family, would be heresy of the highest order, on the grounds that these things are a violation of love, which is God’s nature. Romans 13:8-10. I was making the point that you have not shown how a same-sex relationship is a violation of love, and apparently making “heterosexuality” part of the very definition of love, as the fruits of the Spirit are. I was only asking you to think about the level that you have placed heterosexuality on, as related to who God is. I see no cause to be so offended by this point, and I don’t know why you don’t simply give your answer to this.

            “Please let me speak for myself and do not put words in my mouth. I am not denying that homosexuality exists in the creation. I am denying God is responsible for it and endorses it as a righteous way to live.”

            Did we have a disagreement as to the existence of homosexuality? You are representing God as disowning it from His actual plan. That was my entire point. The existence of gay people is not an accident; it is part of His plan. I didn’t put words in your mouth in representing your belief in the way you are stating it now. In divorcing it from His plan for His family, you can deny that there may be more to the issue than what many people have considered. Even if it was an accident of nature, which I don’t believe it was, the principles all still remain the same, and God is a compassionate and understanding God. In my view, He does not require heterosexuality from His gay child. You are obviously entitled to your belief, but I did not falsely put words in your mouth.

            “Until I get a text that says so (in the face of many that do not—and make the opposite point with emphasis), I cannot go there (as easy as that might be in a culture that regularly downgrades sin’s standard and presence).”

            Did God not make the “opposite” point regarding other things stated to be sin in His Word? Whoever did not live by all words in the Law was “accursed.” Under the new covenant, it is a much different body of laws. You can disagree with my conclusion, and my use of this Scriptural truth as a “precedent,” but you make it out to be something that God would not do, or else He has spoken untruthfully. You do this as a matter of principle on this issue, but it is not inconsistent in principle with what He has in fact done. He has done this very thing, and it is with a view to righteousness, in its true essence. The Law did not always represent inherent truth, and it is contrasted with grace and truth, found in Christ.

            “Be self assured you speak truthfully. I, for my part, I am not so sure you meet that standard when so much said in God’s word on this topic is relativized in an opposite direction by your reading (monogamous, yes, I get that limitation you are making; but endorsing, even in a limited way, a life style every note in Scripture is negative about). That is why I am challenging you here.”

            It is more than monogamous. It is about the spirit of the person who was condemned in Scripture. It is not “endorsed in a limited way,” it is completely different in terms of the spirit of the person, and the relationship with God, which was heavily spoken of in the references, and implied as well in other references. Again, God knows who His children are, and the Bible cannot be taken in a simplistic manner, as per how He established it Himself. It is a matter of legalism in my view, taking a view to gender, but not the heart of the person in a complex issue (much like marriage laws).

            About the liberty in the church–every note is negative about the things that they have liberated. Yes, head coverings. It was not spoken of based on culture; it was spoken of as a spiritual truth. The church has liberated it, though it was a disgrace according to Paul’s teaching. This, among many other things, is why I have challenged you here.

            My point about the valid reasons for divorce is a strong and valid one. It shows much about the nature of law. I believe it was God’s intention in stating things is a manner that, to any reasonable, thinking person, was unduly limited. We are talking about the welfare of a person. It does not assign adultery to them, if their reasons for divorce were not unfounded. God will decide who has understood His heart.

            This area of the discussion may not be addressed on your blog, because someone may have to apply interpretation, and an understanding of the heart of our good God, that will be contrary to what was specifically stated in Scripture, and that will wreak havoc on your argument as I see it. Is this an unfair statement? It is an important issue to address, for the sake of consistency, understanding, and honesty.

            It is regrettable that things got ugly between us. I’m a little surprised by your extreme reactions, and placing things like “disrespect” on my attitude, and my supposed reading of motives that were not there, because I was dealing with the actual words that were spoken. We’ll look at all of this again in the full light one day, and I for one will be looking forward to that. I’ll leave your final assessment, if you give one, unchallenged of course. God’s best to the faithful.

          • Avatar

            bock

            Selah dlb

            I am content to let what I have said previously stand for itself. I will be short on  the points as I do think your response this time gets at the issues in a better way for the most part then the last few posts and so is helpful.

            You still respond to the lust comparison by bringing in factors we agree on rather than seeing the point was on the limited point of justification from within. (Note your citation here: I have been dealing with your exact words. You are making the statement that "lust" is in the same category as "inherent homosexuality," without showing that it is the same in quality, but citing this on the basis that "both exist in humanity." Not a word about the justification argument here in replying. Fortunately, you do address it better later. So I will leave it there) Two tries is enough. You say it is different. At the level of justification, I say it is more similar than you accept. We agree to disagree.

            No games at all on my scriptural limitation. It is precisely the point. Scripture never goes there clearly (or even with ambiguity that touches other such topics where this kind of appeal is made)  and, in fact, it goes in the opposite direction consistently. The only game I am playing is appealing to the content of Scripture on the topic, which is what theological discussion is all about.

            As for my direct reply about sin and homosexuality being in a different framework, context is everything. 

            After all you have said about not putting words in my mouth you speak of my calling homosexuality as a "heresy" when in fact I said it was sin, even a forgiveable one. I even said I accept you in your person. So your description of my view in that paragraph is charicature. You do qualifiy the sense that you mean it, and that does help. However, I do not see this as an essential of the faith, merely an important ethical conversation about what is sin and what is not.

            As to your point about love, I will simply observe that there is far more to God’s character than love. Righteousness and holiness are a part of his character as well and he is the one who defines what these are. IF he has defined what love and sin are, then that which is sin cannot be love. (This is where our disagreement cannot be mended. Because you see your feelings as love and not sin, you feel justified in going in this direction. If you are right, then you would be correct. I cannot see that position as reflecting love in a way that also honors the standards of creation and holiness God has also defined in the texts he has given us on this specific topic (sorry to go back here, but what the Bible does say here consistently is THE issue in my thinking). I certainly do not accept that God is responsible for creating the homosexual to be homosexual. This, I think we can agree is why we are at an impasse. We see this area differently. If I am reading your last post correctly, and it is a clearer post than the previous ones, I think we agree our difference at this point is the great divide we have.

            (By the way your appeal to the old covenant and law here proves nothing because there is are clear statements- more than one- in that direction in the biblical text as a whole that are lacking for you on the topic we are discussing, if I am getting your point here right). We have nowhere any hint of a reversal on this topic. In fact the same tone is reaffirmed in the new era. So I remain a legalist in your view. I think I am reading what the text says consistently in several passages. I risk having a little fun here. There is something legal and legitimate about reading these texts this way that is not simplistic but simply seeing a theme handled in numerous texts with a consistent tone. I am content to be that kind of a legalist.

            Your hermeneutical appeal to head coverings as a counter example to support the more sophisticated read you give the text again takes one text, not several. This passage and its meaning has long been discussed and denated as t its exact force, partially because at the key point of application in v 10 coverings are not even mentioned and because in v 15 a woman’s hair is said to be a covering, which woudl remove the need for some other covering. The discussion on homosexuality does not have that kind of a history or ambiguity. That is in part why your "challenge" is not at all the same in my view. Again we agree to disagree on the merit of the challenge here.

            The divorce example is also flawed in my view. The additional categories you mention are discussed and are not the kinds of acts seen in a positive light. (ie, there is no move from a negative to a positive in these actions, only whether they also qualify as the kind of destructive personal attack that justifies or permits a divorce seen as an unfortunate but tolerable response) So you are asking, correctly, how can these new categories come in when Scripture does not say anything explicitly about them. One is because they are seen as very destrucitve acts. The second is because Paul knowing what Jesus said on divorce did not understand his remarks as precluding the possibility of things Jesus did not mention, as his addition of desertion shows even as he makes it clear Jesus did not address that category specifically. Now my point is that this is an example directly on topic- as such it can raise the issue of the principle at work (We have nothing like that in the topic we have been discussing).

            I share your feelings about the turn in the discussion. Hopefully it was temporary. That is how I will view it. The disgreement we have is deep for both of us and that may explain the passion and emotion that was generated. For now I will say as I have said, All the best. May God lead us all into faithfulness. Or as you have said God’s best to the faithful.

            In Scripture when a break that ends a point comes the Hebrew word Selah is used. So Selah.

          • Avatar

            Matt Gumm

            Further on Divorce
            Lynn: You’re asking me to say that discernment has expanded the grounds for divorce, which then opens up the opportunity for other discernment issues, like homosexual relationships. I don’t buy it.

            I said I’d wait for your response, so I’m going to be a man of my word. When you’ve made your case, then I’ll be happy to discuss it further. For now, I’ll just say that I believe that any grounds for divorce must fit within Paul’s framework in order to be legitimate grounds.

            P.S. for Dr. Bock: I’m willing to invite Lynn over to my blog for further discussion if you’re ready to close out this thread. Thanks for hosting it thus far.