Thursday, December 20, 2007

Minnesota Monitor and OutFront Minnesota seek to reinterpret the Bible on homosexual behavior

The liberal news blog Minnesota Monitor in a post last weekend highlights efforts of homosexual activists who want to set the record straight on "The Biblical Roots of GLBT Oppression." The article and the activists say biblical texts addressing homosexual behavior don't really mean what they say and the consistent interpretation of those texts for thousands of years have gotten it all wrong.

This concern with the biblical arguments is inspired by incoming Archbishop Nienstedt's recent public statements of Catholic teaching on homosexual behavior.

Who's pushing this respond to traditional biblical teaching on homosexual behavior? None other than OutFront Minnesota. The author of the story says:
I provide very brief interpretations as presented at a Bible Self-Defense Course organized by OutFront Minnesota; the Faith, Family, Fairness Alliance; and Soulforce, as well as information from progressive religious websites. These are not the only interpretations, and are simply my understanding of the progressive arguments presented.
The material includes the usual revisionist work on the Apostle Paul, Leviticus passage and the Sodom and Gomorrah account.

An excellent resource for the orthodox, biblical view of homosexual behavior is Professor Robert Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Society. His webpage and links provides a treasure trove of information on the topic.

Frankly, I welcome a debate on the biblical views of homosexual behavior. Discussing the topic on the moral, philosophical and theological level will only heighten and deepen the debate. While OutFront Minnesota wants to arm their activists with quick rejoinders to biblical arguments, I think it will only serve to more clearly reveal the fundamental flaws in the arguments and thinking of homosexual activists.

I believe the Bible articulates fundamental truth about human existence, truth, and justice. The more the Bible is discussed the better.


OutFront Minnesota Blog said...

OutFront Minnesota is honored to be named in your post, as an organization trying to open up the dialogue about our society’s most cherished values. For too long, only a narrow set of voices has been heard on issues of family, morality, truth, and what it means to be a good American.

Our Public Policy Director Monica Meyer recently posted an online op-ed on about organizing communities of faith for the GLBT movement, and our Executive Director Ann DeGroot had a commentary published just yesterday in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on the incoming archbishop’s anti-gay remarks.

OutFront Minnesota joins with many thousands of voices across the state – including the many welcoming and affirming religious congregations – who believe that inclusion will trump exclusion, equality will trump inequality, and justice will trump discrimination any day. We also believe that whatever informs your particular personal beliefs (be that religion, upbringing, or other experiences), we can all agree that our society has only ever been made better by opening up its arms to all groups who’ve been historically disenfranchised.

Jo Marsicano
Communications Director
OutFront Minnesota

Tom Prichard said...

I appreciate Jo's responsive though it merely points to OutFront Minnesota's goal: provide contentless, quick rejoinders rather than engage in substantive discussion. Inclusion, inequality, discrimination are the usual buzz words of the cultural left. Once you dig deeper, there's nothing there. For instance, equality. Regarding marriage, people who engage in homosexual conduct aren't excluded from marriage. They just must marry someone of the opposite sex like everyone else. They want more than equal access to marriage; they want to fundamentally redefine it.

Or take discrimination. It's viewed as a pejorative. When in fact being a "discriminating person" is a good thing when choosing between right and wrong, good and bad.

I don't expect OutFront Minnesota to entertain a discussion of what Jesus thinks of same sex marriage but it would be interesting.

Anonymous said...

I also appreciate this discussion as a religious person from a very devout family. In my own past, I hurt and estranged gay friends by trying to act out Christian "tough love."

I also tried not to be gay myself for decades. After finally being honest with myself and others, I have suffered rejections from religious people I love--not even for acting on my orientation, simply for admitting how I am. My friends and acquaintances have suffered far worse hurts at the hands of religious loved ones.

This issue is about far more than same sex marriage. It's about how we as Christians carry the love of Christ and his call for righteousness into the world. And how we fail. And about the consequences. Sometimes they are eternal.

I too hope that an honest conversation WILL ask what "Jesus thinks of same sex marriage."

But this is a difficult question as He never discussed it--nor did any other writer in the Bible. Such a concept did not exist at the time of Christ. Homosexual temple prostitution, promiscuity, and rape, yes. (And I think all of us can roundly reject these.) Monogamous life-long homosexual relationships, no.

If such contextualizing seems like a "quick rejoinder" from the left, then I ask us to consider the necessity of cultural context.

Without it, we must still believe that slavery is condoned by Paul. That all wives are essentially the property of their husbands (10 commandments). That women are unworthy to speak in the church (Paul). That marriage is not desirable--merely a reluctant necessity if we cannot control our own heterosexual passions (Paul).

And that adulterers and homosexuals should be stoned (Lev).

We either believe the Bible or we don't, right?

Or should we discriminate between cultural context and the true spirit of the gospel? Might there be room for some of us to interpret verses differently?

Jesus tells us to give away everything we own. We either believe the Bible or we don't, right?

Jesus says we must hate our own families and reject them in order to come and follow him. We believe the Bible or we don't, right? I can therefore be rude to my parents if they interfere with my faith. I can cut them off in order to begin my ministry, and do so with scriptural support, right?

But that doesn't seem Christlike... any more than stoning an adulteress does.

Of course this example seems absurd, but many in my position have experienced painful rejections from otherwise loving religious families and friends, people who quoted scriptures at them and claimed to be acting out of Christian love.

Let us be very careful and discriminating (to use Prichard's word) as we look at the scriptures. Let us recognize that when "THEY" on "the left" discriminate between the teachings of Christ and dehumanizing rhetoric, they themselves ARE discriminating in the positive way that you (Prichard) have described.

Such interpretations are not "quick rejoinders" (any more than this posting is brief :-) ). Often, they are beliefs achieved after agonized years of searching the scriptures. I can testify to that. If I follow your interpretation, I have two choices: reject myself, or leave my faith. I either believe the Bible (exactly in the way you do), or I don't, right? I am in the fellowship, or out. Literally.

While I welcome a deep look into the scriptures, let us not forget that people have misused the scriptures to justify the emotional and physical abuse of wives (under the submission verse). We have used it to preach justification of slavery and of racial segregation and hatred.

The scripture is a very powerful thing. We have been wrong before. We might be wrong again. Which is not to say that the Scriptures are wrong. But which is to say, that before we rise up in righteous indignation, perhaps we ought to examine ourselves first (beginning with anything in our eye)...and the outcome of our actions.

Please, PLEASE remember the faces of the people you are discussing as you look to explore this issue in the scriptures. Christ always sees the person.

When it is your own child hurting over this issue, often the tone of the rhetoric immediately shifts. Why? Because you suddenly see the face, see the child at the knee of Jesus. This does not imply relativism. But how did Christ treat the woman at the well? He spoke with her, not AT her. He invited her to new life, he did not reject her publicly in the square. And he also did not approve of her lifestyle. How different his response than that of so many public Christians today.

Defending righteousness and healthy families IS so important.

Putting a millstone around even one child's neck? Unforgivable. And you may remember what Christ said about that.

Be careful lest you slam the door of heaven in any child's face as you "fight the homosexual agenda."

Is this too harsh? I don't think so. This is exactly what much of the church has done over this issue.

Homosexuality is NOT an essential issue of salvation any more than divorce or greed is. And yet we act like this is the only thing that matters in the public sphere. What message does this send to the world? They cannot see our love, our many acts of charity, because of our shouting and abuse over this issue.

We drive homosexuals from our churches, and from salvation, because we make this out to be THE greatest sin. Children first realizing they are attracted to the same gender learn very young that they themselves are an abomination. They can lie and stay in the fold, or be honest and leave.

We shut the door of heaven in their faces.

And we do this in the name of family and Christ.

We've never even tried to fight the real violators of family: sexual and domestic abuse. Where is the Christian outcry in the newspapers and on the street corners against incest? Against family violence? Perhaps because too many of us are guilty, we prefer silence.

Homosexuality is not a crime against innocents. Molestation, emotional battering, physical abuse IS. Shame on us for turning a blind eye to our most vulnerable family members, while ostracizing others who may not have even had a sexual experience yet.

We DO turn gays away from heaven. And we ignore the suffering of those who need us to be their champions most.

Forgive the passion in my tone. It springs directly from my own pain, and from listing to those who were abused and ignored by religious families and communities. It comes from watching gay friends wounded far worse than I have been by loving followers of Christ seeking "healthy" families. I have also been a source of such hurt as a Chistian formerly condemnatory against homosexuality--and so I judge my own past actions in this missive.

But you must know:

Some of those hurt gay children have left the church for good. But some have taken the condemnation of this "Christian" rhetoric to heart. They have ended their own lives.

I ask you to look these lost ones in the face. I ask you to respond as Christ would.

Now: Let the conversation on same-sex marriage continue.


"Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."