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40 Answers for Christians Now Fearing Rainbow Flags

Over at the Gospel Coalition, Kevin DeYoung came up with “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags.” These questions were prompted by feelings of persecution he has experienced since the Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality. He’s really quite upset:

It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17).

In light of this, DeYoung came up with 40 questions that he hopes LGBT*-affirming Christians will answer. DeYoung says,

If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.

Since Kevin DeYoung has asked sincere, if pointed, questions, I figured I’d give sincere, if pointed, answers:

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

Since I was 18, so about 12 years. I was attending a conservative Christian college after being homeschooled in a conservative Christian family my entire life. A friend of mine — also homeschooled in a conservative Christian family and also attending a conservative Christian college — came out as gay to me. This individual had never been abused, did not think being gay was ok, and thought that God had simply given him the cross of homosexuality to bear his entire life. I just couldn’t accept that God would do something like that to someone and none of the catch phrases about gay people I was taught were relevant to my friend. The cognitive dissonance was too great. I decided either the Bible was wrong on LGBT* people and marriage or that I was reading it wrong. I went with the latter.

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?

Bible verses did not led me to change my mind; reality itself and the facticity of my friend’s testimony and sexuality led me to change my mind. But as I re-read the Bible, letting God’s reality help me better understand God’s word, I found a few verses that stuck out to me. One was from the Genesis account, when “God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased.” God spoke to me through that verse, letting me know that God made my friend just the way he was and God was pleased with that creation. My friend was not a mistake. I also found significance in James 1, where God says we are to “face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” When I look at privileged straight Christians like Kevin DeYoung wringing their hands in faux persecution, and then I see the real, actual persecution LGBT* Christians face daily, I know God is standing with the LGBT* Christians. Thus when I read that, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world,” I understand that the pollution of the world is not the pure love between LGBT* people but the excluding rejection of straight people towards them.

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

In the same way that I would make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the opposite sex is a blessing to be celebrated. God created sexuality as a beautiful process: it is how two people become one flesh and learn to live and love as one, in the same way that God has become one with the world through the Incarnation.

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

The same verses I would use to show that a marriage between two persons of the opposite sex can adequately depict Christ and the church. These questions pre-suppose that we have solid definitions of “same sex” and “opposite sex,” and erase intersex people. If I am to believe (and I do) that intersex people can be in relationships that mirror the relationship between Christ and the church, then I do not believe that the relationship between Christ and the church involves a specific genital and chromosome combination. I am not reductionist like that.

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

Yes.

6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

The multiple Genesis accounts do not give a definition of marriage. They give a poetic description of how God blessed sexuality and that sexuality makes two people one.

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

Considering the definition of porneia is “a selling off of sexual purity,” I think Jesus was referring to the enslavement and sale of other human beings for sexual purposes.

8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

I think Saul of Tarsus is a cult leader who blunted the revolutionary nature of Jesus’s message. I’d rather stick with Jesus. **

9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

I think those passages are referring to the Kingdom of God, which is not necessarily heaven. And yes, I do believe they are saying that certain actions and behaviors prevent the Kingdom of God from being fulfilled.

10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

The abuse, enslavement, and sale of other human beings for sexual purposes. Which makes sense since we are referring to the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God, which is a kingdom opposed to the misuses, abuse, and oppression of other peoples.

11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

That LGBT* people are beautiful, wonderful, normal people who do not deserve to be demonized or marginalized. You know, the same sorts of things that I believe I understand about the Bible regarding black people, Jewish people, and female people that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp.

12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

All of the above arguments. (Nice attempt to cast yourself as an enlightened white savior sensitive to people of color, by the way.)

13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

Absolutely. (That or fear.)

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

I think children do best when they are not subject to abuse and neglect and have the opportunity to grow up in loving, nurturing, and stable environments. As long as those conditions are met, I’m not particularly concerned with the specific genital and chromosome arrangements.

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

First, the fact that your ideal does not exist, is a modern invention, and thus we need to be asking different questions. Second, here’s some research. (I could give you more but, really? Just Google it. Do your own research.)

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?

N/A

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

It depends on the marriage.

18. How would you define marriage?

A legally binding, contractual relationship between individuals interested building a life together and supporting one another that bestows significant government benefits? (Again, it depends on the marriage.)

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

Parts of the Bible seem to think so. But I’m iffy on this. There are health concerns, of course. But my main problem is that certain close family relationships would involve significant power differentials and thus could create a fertile breeding ground for abuse.

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

No.

21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

Consent, power differentials.

22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?

Yes.

23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?

Provided they are capable of and have given consent, then yes, I believe that individuals interested in building a life together and supporting one another should have the right to enter into a legally binding, contractual relationship that bestows significant government benefits.

24. If not, why not?

N/A

25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?

Yes, provided that they do not violate the rights of other people to fully and equally participate in society.

26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?

Yes, provided that they did not violate the rights of other people to fully and equally participate in society. Then I will condemn my fellow Christians for acting in un-Christian ways.

27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?

I am opposed to all forms of emotional and verbal abuse, so of course I will speak out against shaming and bullying. But calling people out for furthering the oppression of marginalized groups is not shaming or bullying, and I know that’s what you’re thinking about, Kevin.

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

You’re in church leadership and have a significant platform; I’m not and don’t. Let’s start with you and the straight marriages.

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

Every individual church should answer that in the same way they’d answer about straight couples.

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

Any sexual activity (whether inside or outside of marriage, and whether involving LGBT* people or non-LGBT* people) that involves the abuse and misuse of human beings is a sin. So if LGBT* people can engage in sexual activity outside of marriage that is not abusive or misusing of fellow human beings, it would not be a sin.

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

Definitely not follow non-affirming churches’ models in neglecting issues talked about significantly in the Bible while obsessing with one issue barely talked about.

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

I define it according to biblical passages, such as 1 John 4:18-21:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

I also believe love put into action looks like Micah 6:8:

The Lord has told you what is good. This is what the Lord requires from you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to live humbly with your God.

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?

See above.

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

I think we find the true meaning of God’s commands in the context of actually loving our neighbor. We find God in our neighbors.

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

Absolutely.

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

N/A

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

Frankly, your lack of support for LGBT* people makes me more passionate about those things.

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?

Let me Google that for you.

39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

At this point, these questions are just getting offensive.

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

Saul of Tarsus is pretty clear about what he has in mind. The list is:

  • Unrighteousness
  • Whoredom
  • Wickedness
  • Covetousness
  • Malice
  • Full of envy
  • Murder
  • Strife
  • Deceit
  • Evil dispositions
  • Whisperers
  • Evil-speakers
  • God-haters
  • Insulting
  • Proud
  • Boasters
  • Inventors of evil things
  • Disobedient to parents
  • Unintelligent
  • Faithless
  • Without natural affection
  • Implacable
  • Unmerciful

The common theme here is acting in such a way that disrupts and destroys communion between human beings, the relationship between self and neighbor that is a mirror of the relationship between self and God. When we act in such a way that alienates and marginalizes our neighbor, we sin. Which is an important perspective to remember when many people in the Church, including Kevin DeYoung, have such difficulties with accepting their LGBT* neighbors.

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59 thoughts on “40 Answers for Christians Now Fearing Rainbow Flags”

  1. Dang…question 11 was agressive…well blatantly agressive.
    Thank you for responding.
    Your answers to Question 6 and 11 were particularly helpful to me (conservative christin in te midst of a diestic/agnostic crisis)

    I always appreciate what you share.

  2. thank you!!! I don’t know how I’d answer the questiosn, but ugh – i was soo annoyed by them when I started reading them that I GOOGLED (yes! Praise God, I did my OWN research!) to see what had already been said. Thanks for a great place for me to start!

  3. Your patience in the face of this kind of verbal body-checking is remarkable. As an 63 year old atheist, son of a Baptist preacher, I find the judgements of so-called believers so harsh and offensive that I often answer their hateful love with disdain, with sarcasm and strong words. I admire your sensible, gentle dealing with this man I sincerely feel is an asshole. The church has no business in shaming and blaming and finding ways to prevent people from being free. The use of scripture as a weapon to condemn is the equivalent of a sort of blanket-training for wee children: if they stray from the blanket, hit them for Jesus because they must learn. I understand there are more open and gentle churches out there but to me they are all flavors of a Kool-aid that never truly meets my aching thirst. I am far more content among bipeds who admit to being imperfect, who try and fail, who really live for themselves and one another and not some perfect other, especially an other as defined by a man like Kevin DeYoung.
    Thank-you for your efforts here.

  4. I’m struck by the wackiness of “These are sincere questions, which I hope will cause you to realize that I’m right and you’re wrong.” Kevin apparently is confused about what a sincere question is.

  5. Honestly wondering about something and wondering if you can help. Why do you think Paul was a cult leader? I’ve never heard that before and it’s a little disturbing :/ seriously, not trying to disagree or snark. I started a Bible reading plan recently and so this is a little troubling to hear. I thought all scripture is God-breathed?

    1. Disagreement is totally welcome! I answered about Paul in my response to April but I’ll copy it here for convenience:

      I clarified on Twitter that I don’t think Paul is a “brainwashing cult” sort of leader. More a “cult of personality” leader. So maybe that helps contextualize it a bit. I see Paul re-instituting the power structures and social hierarchies that Jesus specifically overturned. Like how Paul reasserts the Greco-Roman household codes of his era, codes that Jesus preached against. I have a real difficulty seeing Paul as being faithful to Jesus’s message but rather creating his own movement. But I do realize that’s super-controversial so I am absolutely willing to hear countering ideas.

      Regarding Scripture… I take a pretty conservative position on what it is. When Paul writes of “Scripture” being God-breathed or when Peter speaks of the divine origin of prophecy in 2 Peter, they are speaking of the Scriptures their audience knew: the Hebrew Scriptures, not their own writings. Paul and Peter’s own writings may indeed by inspired, but I don’t see those go-to verses speaking to that issue. Also, “the Bible” is an artificial construct — there is no single “Bible” universally agreed upon in history. Our current Bible is the result of many sociopolitical debates and machinations.

      I don’t say any of that to discourage you or imply that I believe God has not worked through history and people to reveal Truth. But I try to approach some of the later, post-Jesus texts more carefully and skeptically. And honestly I find that approach more freeing and inspiring. I look to see each author’s personalities and priorities and it adds an important dimension to the exegesis, in my mind. Hope that helps!

      1. First, thanks for the thorough and thoughtful replies to Kevin DeYoung’s list!

        Also nice that you responded in some depth to the Paul question. I agree with your general approach… and am a former Evangelical to about age 45, twenty years ago (Biola/Talbot educated first, later Claremont Sch. of Theol). Now very progressive, still a follower of Jesus, under the basic paradigm of Process theology. To me, it best makes sense of the Bible and the nature of things (respecting both revelation and the scientific process relatively equally). With this and a lot of time into direct biblical study and “higher critical” research, I’d encourage you to look deeper at authorship and dating issues of the Pauline corpus.

        For example, it’s likely Paul did not endorse the household codes as in Eph., as it was probably a follower of his who wrote this book and Col. (tho I admit the case is not entirely conclusive). I don’t believe you find such endorsement in the “7 genuine” letters.

        On the other hand, the case for later (non-Pauline) authorship of the Pastoral Epistles, it seems to me IS a conclusive one…. If not, it is at least a major stretch to believe that Paul actually wrote them, based upon little reason other than tradition that CANNOT be traced back very close to Paul himself (which began to attribute them to him), along with the internal claims of his authorship in the earliest texts we have. They probably reflect the originals on this…. And the whole point of the author seems to have been to latch onto Paul’s personal authority because writing in his own name, about issues of his time well after Paul’s death, would have been far less authoritative. Ehrman’s “Forged” is a good source with some original research on NT era forgeries and some material directly on the Pastorals, 2 Thess., etc.

        Dating and authorship claims are indeed a complex subject, but one which all serious students of the Bible, of whatever theology, much face and take on.

      2. We’re out of reply spots, so this properly belongs lower, under where you say, ” It sounds like I need to do some reading on Paul! :)” I’m sure you have already done a good bit, but let me add one special resource that is fairly new and you may not have run across… because it gets very specific on a critical issue that is often nearly overlooked: Paul’s years-long “collection for the saints”, at Jerusalem, what that was really about and what became of it on his final journey to the city.

        This is pivotal stuff, both on Paul and on the nature of the original disciple/Apostle group in Jerusalem and their relation to Paul and gentile Christianity. It is “Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe”, in both book and film forms. I have reviews of both on my site and one can find more on the author/producer’s site at http://www.APoliteBribe.com and on Amazon. Full disclosure: I AM helping Orlando promote the film and book on a very small and informal basis. Aside from that, both ARE highly critically acclaimed, and not only from the “higher critical” community. For example, theologians Larry Hurtado and Ben Witherington are in the film and appear in a video with Orlando recorded fall of 2015 in a discussion following a screening at the AAR/SBL convention… this is also on the A Polite Bribe website.

    2. I highly recommend reading Zealot by Reza Aslan. Very accessible and gives some context on James and Paul and how the gospels were developed and eventually codified by the Roman Empire.

  6. Your statement concerning Paul in #8 put my jaw on the floor. I…don’t know what to think. I know Paul says some inconsistent things at times, but…a cult leader? That’s a pretty bold assertion.

    1. Haha, yeah, now I’m wondering if I should’ve kept that to myself. 😛

      I clarified on Twitter that I don’t think Paul is a “brainwashing cult” sort of leader. More a “cult of personality” leader. So maybe that helps contextualize it a bit. I see Paul re-instituting the power structures and social hierarchies that Jesus specifically overturned. Like how Paul reasserts the Greco-Roman household codes of his era, codes that Jesus preached against. I have a real difficulty seeing Paul as being faithful to Jesus’s message but rather creating his own movement. But I do realize that’s super-controversial so I am absolutely willing to hear countering ideas.

      1. I see Paul’s statements as sort of tiptoe-ing around a government that was seeking to string him up at any moment. On the surface, it looks like he’s preserving the old power structures, but then he renders them toothless by admonishing those believers in the highest positions to love the most sacraficially.

        Yes, Paul had some celebrity status. But it was a status he appeared to reject (in 1 Cor. 3:4 anyway).

        But I can see it your way, too. I’ll have to read and study further. Thanks.

      2. Interesting. I can see that. I’m studying the role of children in the Bible and where I see the biggest change from Jesus to Paul is in the household codes and I have difficulty seeing Paul rendering those toothless (at least with regards to children). But good food for thought. Do you have any favorite sources or books that give a good explanation of this reading of Paul?

      3. Most of the books I’m currently reading are very critical of Paul so that’s probably why I was riled up about him and let my bias slip. 🙂

      4. In a later comment you indicated that you are reading a number of books about Paul. I urge you to include the Borg/Crossan book “The First Paul”. The well written book points out that Paul is not a conservative icon as so many think…he is a radical. Biblical historians and scholars have found that Paul wrote only about half of the letters bearing his name. The ones that most people cite–the conservative, restrictive, conflicting passages–were written about a century AFTER Paul was executed. Here is the list given in the Borg book…

        Real Paul
        • Romans
        • Corinthians 1
        • Corinthians 2
        • Thessalonians 1
        • Galatians
        • Philippians
        • Philemon
        Non-Paul
        • Timothy 1
        • Timothy 2
        • Titus
        Probably not Paul…
        • Ephesians
        • Colossians
        • Thessalonians 2

        Within the book, I see Paul as a unifier…especially working very hard to further The Rabbi’s messages of love and inclusion…consider the great circumcision issue that he had to resolve. He also dealt with the grace and faith issue.

        My point is that with a reading of Paul through the lens of “which letters did Paul really write” we would find that Paul’s intents would have been inclusion.

        One final thought–John Boswell authored a seminal book, “Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Medieval Europe. The Church had a number of marriage ceremonies to solemnize same gender partnerships. As you point out in several of you answers…once one starts digging and applies some serious scholarship, the nuggets of both fact AND truth one finds is amazing.

        As Jeff Smith used to end his program.–I bid you peace…

      5. I agree with “Cult” in the classic sense of the word: each ancient God had his or her own cult, whose job it was to promote the teachings and worship of their chosen deity, effectively turning the initial spiritual phenomenon into a religious institution. Judaism had a temple cult. So did every single Roman and Greek god or goddess, as well as many of the deities of the people who Rome subjugated. There’s no negative implication in the term.

        In most movements, the people who institutionalize the movement tend to be less radical than the person/people who founded it. Paul and the other Apostles had to figure out how to take the radical message of Jesus and repackage it for a broader audience who wished to apply it in their daily lives. Most of what we have in the Greek Scriptures after the Gospel accounts are a set of various attempts at doing just that, and they’re all examples of ways temple cults had been run in the past. I think Paul’s became the most popular because he figured out how to straddle the line between being a distinct people and not being entirely cut off from society. In order to do that, though, he had to affirm much of what society was, and the best way to do that while remaining “true” to the message of Jesus was to affirm the things in society Jesus had not explicitly condemned. Since we don’t have any record of Jesus addressing sexuality (and Paul, who was probably relying on some combination of Q and Mark, likely did not either…), one of the areas of potential syncretism was with the common Jewish sexual ethic (early Christians wanted to pass as Jews so they could inherit the religious freedom afforded them).

  7. I initially meant to post this in the comment section of the original article, but comments are closed. I don’t want to post it on FB or on my blog so I’m putting it here. Hope you don’t mind.

    1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

    Not very long – a year or more I think – but I’ve been moving in that direction for some time. You see, when I was 17, I joined an online, international community of Christians – intellectual Christians, educated Christians, Christians representing many different denominations and traditions. Having been raised in a rather insular Evangelical environment, this was the first time I was exposed to the doctrines of other churches – indeed, the first time I became aware that there were other doctrines within Christendom. I found that some of them had better answers to my questions about faith and the Bible than my parents or my church did. I finally started that process youth pastors always talk about of “making my faith my own.” Since then, my faith has been in a continual state of refinement – as I learn more about God, the Bible, church history, and the world in which we live, my beliefs become more sharply defined. Sometimes they change. My conclusion that homosexuality is not contrary to God’s nature or plan followed an earlier conviction that the role of government is to protect the rights of its citizens, rather than to enforce the values of any group. This, I believe, is in everyone’s best interests. If the government enforces the value system of the majority population, it will almost certainly oppress minorities – be they LGBT, Christian, or black – or any other demographic. However, if laws are “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” and designed to protect their “certain unalienable rights – that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” then it can create a system in which everyone’s rights are equally protected. Last week, our government came one step closer to making that happen.

    2.What Bible verses led you to change your mind?

    Ironically, it was the verses that are traditionally used to condemn homosexuality. A friend of mine, an amateur Bible scholar if you will, wrote an essay expounding on these verses and digging into the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek and on the historical, cultural, and religious context in which they were written. I believe God does not make arbitrary laws – that is, I believe (as I’m sure you do) that God’s laws are intended for our good. However, God doesn’t always explain himself (in fact, he rarely does), which means that sometimes his intentions for making a rule or giving a command are not clearly understood. For example, the prohibitions about “unclean” foods – it’s not that shrimp are evil creatures or that it is morally wrong to consume pork, but that in ancient times, preparing these foods safely was very difficult. Prohibiting those foods, which God called “abominations” in Leviticus, was a way to keep people healthy. I believe the prohibition in Leviticus against male homosexual intercourse was partly about that. My friend Morgan Guyton has a different perspective on this issue that is also worth reading. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice/2015/06/26/are-you-open-to-an-lgbt-affirming-biblical-perspective/

    This is only one verse and one point. The original essay expounded on the six most commonly used verses used to condemn homosexuality. I imagine her arguments are similar to those in Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian.

    However, I have to say here that I’m a little troubled by the wording of your question – “what Bible verses.” This phrasing seems (to me) to imply that we can use the Bible as an encyclopedia of systematic theology – look up a topic, find a few verses that talk about it, and BAM! You have a doctrine. I don’t think this is good theology or even good scholarship. The Bible is many things – a record of God’s dealings with man, a witness to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, the story of God’s redemption of the world, and so much more – but it is not systematic theology. I think we have to look at the whole picture, study the verses in their broader context, study the context in which we were reading, in order to come to conclusions that are sound. I also believe we must look at everything, if we can, through the eyes of Christ. Jesus was a gamechanger – he came into a culture that thought they knew everything about God – thought they were the only ones who did – and he changed everything. He was not a prophet who spoke for God, nor an angel sent from God – he was and is God. This means we must interpret everything we know about God through the person of Jesus Christ.

    3.How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

    First of all by examining the Scriptures that are generally used against homosexuality and making the case that they have been misapplied or misunderstood (see above, see also question 8).

    Secondly, I believe it is equally challenging to make the case that marriage must be between one man and one woman. Many, many key people in Scripture practiced polygamy, and God didn’t seem to have a problem with it. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Elkanah, David, Solomon, and others had multiple wives and the only time it’s ever mentioned in a negative light is in Solomon’s case – and here it wasn’t because he had a lot of wives, but because his wives were foreign and therefore led him away from God.

    Thirdly, marriage in the Bible – marriage in pretty much all cultures before the 17th century or so – was primarily a financial agreement between parents. Women were considered property to be sold by their fathers, and while I’m sure there were some couples who loved or grew to love each other (Abraham and first-of-three-wives Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and second-of-four-wives Rachel, Elkanah and one-of-two-wives Hannah, etc.), that was not considered to be very important by the people who made decisions about who should marry whom. We have already redefined marriage outside what is, strictly speaking, biblical. If marriage now is based on mutual respect, affection, esteem, and commitment – all godly virtues – why do a person’s genitals make some of those virtues vice? I thought that “in Christ there is no male or female.”

    4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

    First, there’s already a precedent for “gender-correcting” the Bible, if you will. Where the original text says “men” we read (and some translations say) “men and women” or “people”; where the original says “brothers” we read “brothers and sisters.” It is not a stretch to read “spouses” instead of gender-specific words.

    Secondly, I think the question as you mean to ask it only applies to people who accept complementarianism (a word my spell check still doesn’t recognize) as the only correct model of marriage. However, I believe that the relationship between Christ and the Church can be mirrored in any couple and any intimate relationship, romantic or not. When we lay down our lives for each other, when we serve and submit to each other, when we put each other first and truly love each other, are we not being as Christ to one another? Remember, Paul admitted that this relationship as embodied in marriage was a “mystery.” That means, I think, that we shouldn’t attempt to put too many restraints on what kinds of relationships are able or allowed to reflect Christ.

    5.Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

    Yep. Keep in mind, what you just said was not understood to exist in Jesus’ time. Sexual orientation is a concept that emerged in maybe the 19th century. Before that, homosexual activity – in fact, any sexual activity outside a heterosexual marriage – was considered to be the result of a voracious sexual appetite. If you had sex with someone you weren’t married to, it was because you just couldn’t control your libido. Combine that with the association with temple prostitutes, which often involved acts of violence and abuse; and the Roman practice of catamites; and you can see why the New Testament authors did not condone homosexual acts. Nobody considered sexual attraction to be an “orientation” in the way we now understand it; they could not have imagined a consenting, committed relationship existing between two adults of the same sex. They could barely have imagined a consensual relationship between two adults of the opposite sex, since female consent was not considered a relevant factor.

    6.If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

    Because he wasn’t talking about homosexuality, he was talking about divorce. The point of Jesus’ teaching was – well, let me just quote it:
    “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law [about divorce],” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:5-12 NIV)

    By the way, do you yourself condone remarriage after divorce? I know denominations disagree on this. Why is it okay to disagree about that, and not about gay marriage?

    7.When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

    This is where I’m a little out of my depth as a non-scholar. However, I understand porneia to denote sexual acts in connection with selling property – in other words, sex trafficking. Nothing about the word suggests a loving, committed, consensual relationship of any kind.

    8.If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

    I understand him to be referring to the kinds of homosexual acts that were common in that time, as mentioned before: sex slaves and prostitution. There are many different thoughts on this passage; my friend Morgan addressed this as well in his article.

    9.Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

    All sin separates us from God in some way, but what keeps us out of heaven (to use the common expression) is not having a relationship with Jesus Christ, right?

    10.What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

    Do I think they were referring to homosexual sex acts? Yes, because they believed those acts to be inherently violent sexual excesses stemming from unbridled lust rather than the result of a loving, committed, consensual relationship within the paradigm of a permanent orientation of attraction to members of the same sex. I think the same principle can apply to any sexual act that harms, victimizes, abuses, or objectifies another person. Homosexuality does not inherently do this any more than hetereosexuality does.

    11.As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

    This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit. Normally I’m disposed to place greater weight on tradition and the church fathers than do most Evangelicals, probably because the church fathers would disagree with a lot of Evangelical doctrine. But then I think about how our beliefs regarding slavery, women, and even the nature of the world have evolved over time, and I think that yes, we do understand more than those men did, and it’s largely because of them and others like them that we do. “We see farther because we stand on the shoulders of giants.” While God is unchanging and truth is absolute, our knowledge is limited and ever growing. We are always learning new ways to understand Scripture and how it impacts our lives – I’m sure you agree, otherwise the Gospel Coalition website and its many articles seem a little pointless.

    12.What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

    I don’t understand the question. Why can’t they figure this out for themselves?

    13.Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

    As I am not omniscient, I don’t know what they were motivated by. I imagine they were motivated strongly by what they perceived would get them elected. But I don’t know that.

    14.Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

    This is a loaded question. The concept of the “nuclear family” (mother and father being solely responsible for raising their children) is actually a fairly modern one, being highly publicized in post-WWII America. Prior to that, many family structures were common in America and elsewhere, from governesses and nannies being almost entirely responsible for children, to the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child” being literally true (as it still is many places in the world). I think children do best when they are raised in a loving and stable home, when they are educated and encouraged to learn and be creative.

    15.If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

    https://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Same-sex_Parents_and_Their_Children.aspx

    http://qz.com/438469/the-science-is-clear-children-raised-by-same-sex-parents-are-at-no-disadvantage/

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/07/children-of-same-sex-couples-are-happier-and-healthier-than-peers-research-shows/

    It took me less than 30 seconds to Google search “children in same-sex parent homes,” select a few links, copy, and paste them. You could have done that yourself. Are you aware of any research suggesting children in same-sex homes are at a disadvantage? Oh, and your questions didn’t even consider single parents.

    16.If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?

    N/A

    17.Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

    I love the ending scene of BBC’s Price and Prejudice, the wedding scene, where the minister says that marriage “was ordained for the procreation of children, as a remedy against sin and to prevent fornication, and for the mutual welfare, help, and comfort that the one ought to provide the other both in prosperity and adversity.” I don’t think that’s a complete list of the purposes of marriage, but it does well for a start.

    Procreation of children: of course this refers to having children in the traditional way, but it can also refer to other methods of bringing children into the world, such as through adoption. Adoption is hugely important, and gay couples are more likely to adopt than straight couples, providing homes for thousands of children who otherwise would have no one. If you want to keep gay people from adopting, try getting more straight people to do it.

    18.How would you define marriage?

    I think marriage is both a social contract and a spiritual covenant. In the social sense, it is a binding contract between consenting adults which establishes them as a family unit. In the spiritual sense, it is a pledge to live together, to love and serve each other, to put each other first, and to remain committed to one another. It is, in a Christian sense, a tiny picture of our relationship to God because it is intimacy with another person on the deepest level.

    19.Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

    This was a common practice until the 19th century, and I don’t know if it continues to be common in other countries. If you have any European royalty or American pioneers in your family, chances are there is at least mild incest. I believe the laws against incest are designed to protect against genetic mutations which can be incredibly problematic.

    20.Should marriage be limited to only two people?

    Legally, no, provided all spouses are aware of and consent to the relationship. I personally don’t know exactly what I think about polygamy or polyamory. It can and has been used to oppress and control women – but then, so has heterosexual marriage.

    21.On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

    I think the government should not be able to prevent consenting adults who meet the legal requirements for marriage from obtaining a marriage license. However, I believe religious leaders should be able to say no to any persons wishing to marry for whatever matter of conscience or religious law applies to them.

    22.Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?

    Yes.

    23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?

    Provided both/all persons meet the legal requirements and are consenting (some relationships are by definition not consensual, such as pedophilia).

    24.If not, why not?

    N/A

    25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?

    Absolutely. What religious beliefs might you be prevented from exercising in a world with gay marriage? I’m not too clear on that.

    26.Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?

    If they didn’t do anything that harmed or marginalized another person, sure. Does this go both ways? Will you speak up for your fellow Christians who are LGBT-affirming when they lose their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?

    27.Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?

    I have and I do and I will continue to do so. Will you?

    28.Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

    Well, I’m not a minister or a Christian leader of any kind, so I don’t know what power I have over other people’s marriages. I encourage all churches, evangelical or not, affirming or not, to do the things evangelical churches have so far failed to do: hold leaders accountable, deal with abuse and infidelity in a legally appropriate way instead of sweeping it under the rug, performing background checks on clergy and people who have access to children, encouraging struggling couples to seek help from certified counselors and not merely church staff. That sort of thing.

    29.Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

    Everyone who is a member of a church should be subject to church discipline while they are a member of that church. Is there any reason why you think someone would answer no to this question?
    30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

    Remove “LGBT” from the sentence. The answer is the same.

    31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

    What do evangelical churches do?

    32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

    “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
     
    “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
     
    “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
    (1 Corinthians 13 NIV)

    33.What verses would you use to establish that definition?

    See above. Plus the book of 1 John and Jesus’ words in John 13. And Romans 5. Again, though, I’m troubled by your use of the word “verses.”

    34.How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

    I’m not completely sure what you mean by this question, so if my answer is off-topic I apologize for misunderstanding. I believe that as I obey God’s command to love my neighbor, I learn more and more what love is. My experience of being married, of learning to love my husband as he is and not as I would like to be, how to lay down my life for him and submit to him, how to let him love me and submit to me, how to let myself be vulnerable, how to put somebody else first. These things have deepened my understanding of God’s love so much. Have you read The Brothers Karamazov? I’m reading it now. I was struck by this passage:

    “Strive to love your neighbour actively and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbour, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain.” (Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Book 1 Ch. 4)

    35.Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

    Sure.

    36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

    Yes, although this was the most recent new development for me.

    37.As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

    I’m not sure I’m 100% Evangelical. But I’ve come to believe that it is more important to retain faith in God’s goodness, to maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ, than it is to hold any particular doctrinal belief. Millennials are walking away from the church in droves because they cannot reconcile what they’ve been told about God with their sexuality. Sexuality is a big deal, but it is not worth losing your family, your faith, and in many cases, your life. LGBT kids are far more likely to be homeless, and it is most often due to being disowned by their parents for coming out. They are more likely to commit suicide because of the self-torture they experience from being told all their lives that who they are is an abomination. They are even more likely to be victims of violence, even murder, than their straight brethren. If homosexuality is wrong, aren’t those other things worse? Given the choice between accepting homosexuality and keeping one’s faith and family intact, and rejecting God because of the emotional and spiritual turmoil necessarily tied to accepting the conservative church’s view of him, which would you rather see happen? I’m not saying we should accept homosexuality as a concession, to prevent people from leaving the church – that it really is wrong and we should just pretend it isn’t. I’m saying we don’t need to make it such a polarizing issue that people are willing to abandon their faith entirely because of it. Churches disagree on all sorts of doctrines and remain friends; why not this?

    38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?

    I don’t live in an area with openly affirming churches. I think my pastor is affirming but she’s not really allowed to be public about it.

    39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

    Of course . . . Don’t you? I’m not really sure why you’re asking this question in this context. I am getting the impression that either you know shockingly few LGBT-affirming Christians, or know shockingly little about them, or think shockingly low of them.

    40.When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

    Behaviors that create strife in community, that harm others, that put the self first to the detriment of others, that create an empty soul. Interesting that you ended with this. Feels a little anti-climactic.

      1. I’m thinking of compiling a list of the answers people are giving to these questions and publishing them over the weekend. Do you have any objections to me linking to yours or copy/pasting them into my document with applicable references?

    1. I’m thinking of compiling a list of the answers people are giving to these questions and publishing them over the weekend. Do you have any objections to me linking to yours or copy/pasting them into my document with applicable references?

      Apologies for posting twice but felt it was best to ask both of you seperately

    2. I’ve read a number of people’s responses to these questions, including the OP, and I think your set is the best I’ve seen. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. This was great. Thanks. I wish I could share with my family, but some things are better left unsaid. However, reading things like this helps me combat the message of condemnation that still rules my head at times.

  9. Wow…so carefully thought-out. You’ve given me more than a few things to chew on. Nice handling of some really annoying and arrogant questions. 😁

  10. Where the “conservative” Christian will depart from you will be the first sentence of Question #2’s answer: “Bible verses did not led me to change my mind; reality itself and the facticity of my friend’s testimony and sexuality led me to change my mind.” As this piece (and the original post it purports to be a response to) touches upon–may, indeed, be exclusively concerned with–questions of theology and doctrine, the “conservative” Christian will reject (more than likely “out of pocket”) any response from a fellow “believer” based upon the so-called “facticity” of human experience. Atheists have long lambasted theists for attempting to prove God’s existence based upon their experience of Him for the sole reason that human experience is subjective, not objective, truth. Now, if your search here (and in life) is for subjective truth, I’m sure no one who disagrees with you will lose much sleep. If, however, you are aiming at absolute truth (as I perceive you are,) then human experience isn’t the route to take. At the very least, you can be sure DeYoung IS after absolute truth, therefore your responses (insofar as they concern truth and not morality) are operating on a different playing field.
    Also, to claim “reality” as the basis for change in belief, one must presuppose it to be causative epistemically. Imagine me saying, one day, that: “I now believe that gravity is at work in the universe because…reality.” What have I said, really? You would be right in saying to me: “It was at work regardless of your perception and claim of it.” To use reality as your basis here, you are–in a sense–saying the same thing as I’ve said about gravity.” What changed, evidently, is your perception of reality, not the reality itself. (You never claimed otherwise in your response, but track with me.) Scripture claims to critique reality, and establish reality. If, then, one attempts to claim that reality has the ability to drive revision of Scriptural meaning and intent, one must be prepared to “throw the baby out with the bath water;” since Scripture asserts itself as the revelation of the God who created reality, it is a logical fallacy to posit reality as an interpretive apparatus to the extent that it contradicts Scripture. That is like saying: “In looking at the Lego blocks, I surmised that the Creator of Lego blocks doesn’t in fact believe that matter exists, but is–rather–a pure rationalist.
    Additionally, your Scriptural basis for your change of heart may–in point of fact–be evidence of an opposing view. Regardless of one’s view of the Genesis account (metaphor, literal, allegory) the CHRONOLOGY is clear. God “saw that it was good” BEFORE the fall (and with a view of husband and wife.) Post-fall, we see judgement of aberrant deeds and practices. Also, James may not be the place to go for defense of homosexuality. James writes: “Do you not know that friendship with the world means becoming an enemy of God?” Now, “the world” and “worldly” are used throughout Scripture as a parallel for sin and sinful behaviors.
    Lastly, you argue that we should (or that you do) stick to Jesus and not Paul. Even if Paul is rejected (which I do not do for a second, but will grant YOU), the Old Testament is clear in its teaching on homosexuality. You cannot reject the Old Testament without rejecting Christ, for they are the basis of Christ’s BEING Christ; He is the fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus, if you are to “stick” with him, said in Matthew Ch. 5 verse 18: “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
    ***I would never have posted this or engaged this blog if it were not purportedly “Christian.” If you were openly non-Christian, I’d have simply prayed for you and loved on you. Anyway, there is no less love in this, it is simply tough love.

    1. You say, “You cannot reject the Old Testament without rejecting Christ, for they are the basis of Christ’s BEING Christ; He is the fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus, if you are to “stick” with him, said in Matthew Ch. 5 verse 18: “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”” Within the orthodox system, this is a valid point.

      However, you probably know that the Hebrew scriptural picture of what Messiah was to be was far, far from clear or agreed upon at the time of Jesus (or before or after!). Even in retrospect, one cannot reasonably construct what so many superimpose back onto the “OT” as a prophetic picture of Messiah… one that would be clear and specific enough to identify when the person might have arrived.

      Regardless of one’s theological “grid” or paradigm for interpretation, there are great challenges in understanding IF and HOW the actual “Jesus on the ground” (who we just cannot fully, accurately know) relates to both the OT Messiah and the universalized, abstracted Christ presented by Paul. Orthodoxy, though relatively ancient, cannot claim to have solved the problems the only or best way. Process theology, to me, is getting us a lot closer.

  11. This individual had never been abused, did not think being gay was ok, and thought that God had simply given him the cross of homosexuality to bear his entire life. I just couldn’t accept that God would do something like that to someone

    First, congratulations to LGBT and all non-bigot Americans! But why was it you could not “accept that God would do something like that to someone”? People are born with the most horrific medical conditions and disabilities; others acquire them during life. I recently read an account of a young man who realised with horror and despair that he was sexually drawn to children, and as he grew older, the objects of his desire grew younger. This young man was, of course rightly, determined not to act on his pedophilic urges – but he did not choose them, any more than straight or gay or bisexual or transgender people choose their orientation or gender identity, which they can rightly express. So “God wouldn’t do that” (give someone a sexuality they cannot rightly express) is not a valid argument for accepting LGBT people.

    1. That was 12 years ago when I was fresh out of a conservative Christian homeschool environment. I didn’t have a particularly accurate or nuanced understanding of sexuality.

  12. Thanks for the very thorough reply to Kevin DeYoung. I commented prior to this one within another comment/reply, but wanted to add this general one saying it’s very encouraging for me to see Evangelicals thinking critically and carefully and seeking to understand and follow Jesus regardless of what traditional positions or “orthodoxy” has been on this or other subjects.

    I’m just curious if you’ve had any indications if Kevin has either read or responded to you post? Or perhaps to some of the others mentioned which were posted online in response to him?

  13. R.L.
    I really appreciated your input here.
    I’ve been struggling with this debate myself for some time now; trying to be objective in my approach as I read both sides of the argument.
    I have an important question to ask pertaining to your comments to DeYoung’s Question 37:
    You write “But I’ve come to believe that it is more important to retain faith in God’s goodness, to maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ, than it is to hold any particular doctrinal belief.”
    Please elaborate on how you would describe God’s goodness and what it means for you to have a relationship with Jesus; I’m almost certain you need to use doctrinal convictions that are grounded in Scripture to make your case. You’re saying God is good and that you have a personal relationship with Christ… let’s unpack that a little bit.
    Thanks in advance.
    Sam

  14. When you say that Saul of Tarsus is a cult leader and not a true follower and apostle of Christ then I assume you believe, like many others with the same viewpoint, that Paul’s disciples wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John under the guise of the legitimate disciples. Then you base your definition of Love off of a passage from John. So your definition of love comes from an unknown author who you claim is a follower of a crooked man, using stories of false encounters to infiltrate the church?

      1. Then can you clarify more of what you believe on the subject. You think modern Christianity is based off of Paul’s version and not the Christianity that Jesus teaches?You’re therefore segmenting the Bible into parts that you believe to be true and not to be true rather than believing the Bible to be the Whole Truth and the Complete Word of God.

  15. R.L., thanks for this; I found it very thoughtful. The only small critique I have is around your answer for #2. You reference the Genesis verse, “God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased.”

    I think most of us have long since rejected the nonsensical notion that homosexuals choose to be gay, and instead we accept that they were “born that way.” But I’m not sure, one way or the other, how far this advances the discussion of whether homosexuality is a sin.

    I was recently listening to the Freakonomics podcast episode “Making Sex Offenders Pay — and Pay and Pay and Pay.” At one point one of the guests discusses how SOs are required to go through all sorts of therapy in an effort to change them. She observes that if we all now accept the notion as a given that sexuality is something we are born with, then why don’t we conclude that this includes people who are attracted to children. In other words, why would people choose to be a pedophile? This question stopped me short.

    I don’t think that God made the pedophile and “was very pleased.” I doubt you do either. (BTW, I am not making the tired moral equivalency between homosexuality and pedophilia. Actually, my comment is rooted in the opposite conclusion: that one is clearly evil and the other isn’t.) The conclusion I feel forced to draw is that the rightness or wrongness of one’s sexuality isn’t informed by whether or not one was born that way, and, in fact, it’s hollow ground to base an argument on (again, one way or the other).

    I am curious as to your thoughts. Thanks.

    1. My knowledge on treatment efforts for sex offenders isn’t very up to date. But I was doing marriage csg. and psychotherapy in the 80s and studied the issue some. From what I hear, not a whole lot of advancement has taken place, tho I think some not-yet-conventional treatment approaches may have good promise.

      To the extent they do, they probably relate more to the situations in which a compulsion (which I loosely apply to this area) is relatively less strong and/or may NOT be inborn. I imagine in many people it IS inborn, but I also can see how it is a learned or “conditioned” response in some cases. These are probably more changeable.

      I also believe that life situations and levels of stress greatly affect a person acting on their impulses or not. Thus, one of the key things friends, family and society can do either with an offender or a potential one (if he/she will admit to the temptation) is to help them with life-management. Life coaches, many who also have strong counseling backgrounds, can often help a lot with this. So it is not only drugs and/or psychotherapy which I see as potentially helpful for people who have biologically or otherwise been “given” a disadvantage.

      As to the larger theological issue of the Creator’s role, this one points out well the limitations of the orthodox view of how God created and his/her omnipotence. I find the Process theology approach to God and reality much more helpful. And not only here, but in many ways.

  16. These “answers” really could have been answered with one answer: I don’t care what the Bible says. I’m going to go with my own feelings.

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