On Tuesday afternoon, CNN ran an article on its Belief Blog by Catholic priest (sort of) Daniel Helminiak entitled “My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality.”  The article is amazing for including so many bad arguments in so little space. A quick trip through the piece will show you what I mean. Helminiak’s writing will be in bold and then my response will follow.

President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage, like blood in the water, has conservative sharks circling for a kill. In a nation that touts separation of religion and government, religious-based arguments command this battle. Lurking beneath anti-gay forays, you inevitably find religion and, above all, the Bible.

We now face religious jingoism, the imposition of personal beliefs on the whole pluralistic society. Worse still, these beliefs are irrational, just a fiction of blind conviction. Nowhere does the Bible actually oppose homosexuality.

These two paragraphs perfectly depict how many see any Christian opposition to homosexuality or gay marriage. We are undercover (or not!) theocrats trying to impose our personal preferences on the rest of the country. But the charge of legislating our morality is not as simple as it sounds. For starters, the government legislates plenty of morality already—morality about killing, stealing, polluting and a thousand other things we’ve decided are bad for society or just plain wrong. Moreover, the arguments being made in favor of gay marriage are fundamentally about morality. That’s why you hear words like justice, love, and equality. Most gay marriage advocates are making their case based on moral categories, if not religious and biblical.

What’s more, the pro-gay marriage side would like to see the state reject a conjugal view of marriage in favor of a new, heretofore unknown, definition of marriage. And in insisting upon the state’s involvement, they want this new definition to be imposed on all. We may not all have to like gay marriage, but the government will tell us what marriage means whether we like it or not.

In the past 60 years, we have learned more about sex, by far, than in preceding millennia. Is it likely that an ancient people, who thought the male was the basic biological model and the world flat, understood homosexuality as we do today? Could they have even addressed the questions about homosexuality that we grapple with today? Of course not.

Here we have an example of progressive prejudice, the kind that assumes we have little to learn from the benighted masses who lived long ago. Whether they thought the world was flat has nothing to do with whether ancient people can teach us anything about sexuality. Such a tidbit is thrown in, it seems to me, as a rhetorical cue that these people were as dumb as doorknobs and can’t be trusted. More importantly, Helminiak distances himself from an orthodox understanding of biblical inspiration. Instead of approaching the Scriptures as the word of God, his first step is to position the Bible as a book by ancient people who don’t know all the things we know.

Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.

That, in fact, was the case among the Sodomites (Genesis 19), whose experience is frequently cited by modern anti-gay critics. The Sodomites wanted to rape the visitors whom Lot, the one just man in the city, welcomed in hospitality for the night.

The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).

But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom. That intended gang rape only expressed the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others. Hence, Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31); and “By this will they know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

How inverted these values have become! In the name of Jesus, evangelicals and Catholic bishops make sex the Christian litmus test and are willing to sacrifice the social safety net in return.

There is really only one argument in the foregoing paragraphs: the sin of Sodom was about social injustice not about sexual immorality. No doubt, there were many other sins involved, as Helminiak rightly observes. But there is no reason to think homosexuality per se wasn’t also to blame for Sodom’s judgment. For example, Jude 7 states that Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.” Even the NRSV, translation of choice for the mainline (and the version Helminiak seems to be using), says “pursued unnatural lust.” Clearly, the sins of Sodom lived in infamy not simply because of violent aggression or the lack of hospitality, but because men pursued sex with other men.

The longest biblical passage on male-male sex is Romans 1:26-27: “Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another.”

The Greek term para physin has been translated unnatural; it should read atypical or unusual. In the technical sense, yes, the Stoic philosophers did use para physin to mean unnatural, but this term also had a widespread popular meaning. It is this latter meaning that informs Paul’s writing. It carries no ethical condemnation.

Compare the passage on male-male sex to Romans 11:24. There, Paul applies the term para physin to God. God grafted the Gentiles into the Jewish people, a wild branch into a cultivated vine. Not your standard practice! An unusual thing to do — atypical, nothing more. The anti-gay “unnatural” hullabaloo rests on a mistranslation.

Besides, Paul used two other words to describe male-male sex: dishonorable (1:24, 26) and unseemly (1:27). But for Paul, neither carried ethical weight. In 2 Corinthians 6:8 and 11:21, Paul says that even he was held in dishonor — for preaching Christ. Clearly, these words merely indicate social disrepute, not truly unethical behavior.

This line of reasoning is also common among revisionists. There is little to say in its favor, however, and Helminiak’s argument—that para physin “carries no ethical condemnation”–is particularly weak.

1) He makes the rudimentary error of forgetting that words have a semantic range of meaning. Just because Paul used “against nature” or “dishonorable” in non-ethical settings (sort of), doesn’t mean those words and phrases cannot carry ethical weight in another context. It’s like suggesting that if FDR once said “this soup is terrible” and later said “what the Nazis are doing is terrible” that he couldn’t possibly mean anything more than “what the Nazis did was kind of strange and not my personal preference.”

2) The context in Romans 1 tells us how to understand para physin. Paul has already explained how the unrighteous suppress the truth about God seen in nature and how they exchange the glory of the immortal God for images of created things. In both cases Paul contends that people believe a lie which prevents them from seeing things as they really are (1:25). Then in the very next verse he singles out homosexuality as “contrary to nature.” He is not thinking merely of things that are unusual, but of acts that violate the divine design and the ways things ought to be. For Paul, the biological complementarity of the male-female union is the obvious order of things. A male-male or female-female sexual pairing violates the anatomical and procreative design inherent in the one flesh union of a man and a woman. That Jewish writers of the period used comparable expressions to describe same-sex intercourse only confirms that this is what Paul meant by the construction.

3) Even more obviously, we know Paul considered same-sex intercourse an ethical violation, and not simply something uncommon, because of what he says in the very next sentence. Helminiak conveniently cuts off Paul’s thought halfway through verse 27. Notice what Paul goes on to say: “Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error” (NRSV). When you read the whole verse, Helminiak’s “non-ethical” argument becomes implausible. Paul thought homosexuality not just unusual, but wrong, a sinful error deserving of a “due penalty.”

In this passage Paul is referring to the ancient Jewish Law: Leviticus 18:22, the “abomination” of a man’s lying with another man. Paul sees male-male sex as an impurity, a taboo, uncleanness — in other words, “abomination.” Introducing this discussion in 1:24, he says so outright: “God gave them up … to impurity.”

But Jesus taught lucidly that Jewish requirements for purity — varied cultural traditions — do not matter before God. What matters is purity of heart.

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles,” reads Matthew 15. “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Or again, Jesus taught, “Everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law.

In calling it unclean, Paul was not condemning male-male sex. He had terms to express condemnation. Before and after his section on sex, he used truly condemnatory terms: godless, evil, wicked or unjust, not to be done. But he never used ethical terms around that issue of sex.

Helminiak’s argument seems to be: Paul said homosexuality was an impurity; Jesus set people free from the purity requirements of the Jewish law; therefore, homosexuality is not wrong. This reasoning is so specious that it’s hard to know where to begin. Jesus did recalibrate the purity laws, but Mark 7:19 makes clear that the episode in question was about declaring all foods clean. Jesus was not saying for a second that anything previously called “unclean” or “impure” was now no big deal. Helminiak again connects words in a facile manner, suggesting that because Jesus fulfilled certain aspects of the ceremonial code, now anything described with the language of impurity cannot be condemned. Nine times in his epistles Paul references “impurity” and it is always in the context of vice and immorality (Rom. 1:24; 6:19; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:19; 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 2:3; 4:7). Besides all this, Jesus explicitly lists “sexual immorality” (in the passage Helminiak quotes) as one of the things that defiles a person. The Greek word is porneia which refers to “unlawful sexual intercourse” (BDAG), especially, for the Jew, anything condemned by the Law of Moses.

It is simply not true that Paul, or Jesus for that matter, never considered homosexuality an ethical matter. To cite just one more example: in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 Paul uses a rare Greek word, arsenokoites, which is a compound from two words found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Paul thought the prohibition against homosexuality in the Old Testament was still relevant and the sin was still serious.

As for marriage, again, the Bible is more liberal than we hear today. The Jewish patriarchs had many wives and concubines. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Daniel and the palace master were probably lovers.

The Bible’s Song of Songs is a paean to romantic love with no mention of children or a married couple. Jesus never mentioned same-sex behaviors, although he did heal the “servant” — pais, a Greek term for male lover — of the Roman Centurion.

These are wild assertions without any corroborating evidence. Whatever one thinks of Leviticus 18 and 20 for today, it’s obvious that the Torah considered homosexual activity an abomination. It’s absurd to think that any ancient Israelite would have any celebrated David or Jonathan or Ruth or Naomi or Daniel if they were homosexual. It is the worst kind of special pleading and reader response to conclude against all exegetical, theological, and historical evidence that any of these Old Testament heroes were gay.

Likewise, there is no evidence to suggest that the centurion’s servant was his lover. The leading New Testament lexicon (BDAG) gives three definitions of pais: a young person, one’s own offspring, one who is in total obedience to another. If the word somehow means “male lover” in the Gospels, we need evidence greater than Helminiak’s bald assertion.

Paul discouraged marriage because he believed the world would soon end. Still, he encouraged people with sexual needs to marry, and he never linked sex and procreation.

Were God-given reason to prevail, rather than knee-jerk religion, we would not be having a heated debate over gay marriage. “Liberty and justice for all,” marvel at the diversity of creation, welcome for one another: these, alas, are true biblical values.

The link between sex and procreation did not have to be articulated by Paul because it was already assumed. God’s design from the beginning had been one man and one woman coming together as one flesh. This design is reaffirmed throughout Scripture, not least of all by Jesus (Matt. 19:4-6) and by Paul (Eph. 5:31). An important aspect of this union is the potential blessing of children. The prophet Malachi made clear that procreation is one of the aims of marriage when he said about a husband and wife, “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring” (Mal. 2:15).

None of this proves the case against gay marriage as a government injunction (though that case can be made as well). What careful attention to the Bible does show is that the revisionists do not have a Scriptural leg to stand on. From the first chapter of the Bible to the Law of Moses to the New Testament, there is no hint that homosexuality is acceptable behavior for God’s people and every indication that it is a serious sin.

This is why I appreciate the candor of honest pro-gay advocates like Luke Timothy Johnson:

The task demands intellectual honesty. I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says…I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality-namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order.

Of course, I disagree with Johnson’s approach to the authority of Scripture and his liberal deference to experience. But I commend him for acknowledging what should be plain: the Bible really really calls homosexuality a sin. A sin that can be forgiven in Christ like a million other sins, and a sin that can be fought against by the power of the Holy Spirit, but still a sin. That’s what the Bible says. And as the CNN article demonstrates, it takes a lot of contorted creativity to make it say something else.

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Comments:


288 thoughts on “What the Bible Really Still Says About Homosexuality”

  1. DRT says:

    Heather, thanks for interacting, but I pretty much disagree with everything you said in your last response. I think we got down to the gist of it. You believe that your interpretation of the bible is the truth and there are no arguments than can convince you otherwise. You believe that those who do not agree with the truth you see in the bible are in error and are likely in sin. You believe that your version of the gospel is the truth and no other version is true. You believe that the bible covers everything in all times per your interpretation.

    I agree with none of that.

  2. @DRT: You’re welcome, but you incorrectly summarized my views.

    It’s not “my interpretation of the bible.” And it’s not “my version of the gospel.” It’s just God’s truth. It can be known, and it will make you free. John 8:32 I hope you find that freedom.

  3. DRT says:

    Heather, good talking to you but you really need to come to grips with the fact that your interpretation of the bible is your interpretation of the bible, not god’s actual words. If we each think our interpretation is god’s actual words then that never really works, now does it? Seriously Heather, it is very very bad to think that you are channeling god in your interpretation and everyone else is wrong.

  4. @DRT: Thanks! But I’m sorry you keep understanding. It’s not my interpretation. There is only one interpretation of the bible. God gave us His word in order to reveal Himself to us. IF I was the only person who thought that I’d worry. I’m part of a long tradition (back to Jesus Christ really…and if He thought that I feel fairly comfortable) who believe the bible is the word of God.

    I don’t think my interpretation is God’s actual word. I think the bible is God’s actual word. That’s the difference.

  5. Anthony says:

    This discussion has convinced me to leave Christianity. Thanks!

  6. @Anthony: No it hasn’t.

  7. Adam Borsay says:

    I have enjoyed the Kevin/Heather/DRT debate over the last few days, and while I know I am late to the party, I had a few thoughts. Something that I think Kevin(maybe) said I found interesting. Basically, that everyone brings their own biases into interpretation of scripture. In response; Either scripture is alive and active and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to rightfully discern truth, or, it is nothing. You can’t have it both ways. Either there is an absolute and possible to be known answer, or their are no answers to be found, and we can believe whatever it is we want to believe.

    Once we have created the template for distrusting orthodox(not purposely using a word to cause more argument) and historically consistent views of the testimony of scripture, then all of it is subject to distrust. While it may be politically and personally beneficial to say “no, the bible really isn’t clear about homosexuality, and therefore we have to reinterpret it in light of “new” discoveries in “linguistics, archaelogy, etc”, it pulls out the logical foundation for anything else to be trustworthy.

    If the bible can be interpreted through a new lense to no longer mean what it has always been understand to mean, then there is no logical scripturally based reason to assume that Christ really died on the cross to save us from our sins. Whether accepted or not, the template of denying the reliable clarity and consistency of scripture in any area necessarily sets the stage for rejection of any and all of it.

    One of the issues in the modern theological debates I have had in the last 20 or so years is that for 2000 years Christians apparently got very serious issues wrong, but, thanks be to God that you great modern thinkers and philosophers have finally compiled enough training and education to set us straight. As if God was just waiting for you modern acadamians to arrive on the scene to save us all from ourselves and our simplistic plain reading of scripture.

    Either scripture means what it says it means, or it means nothing at all.

  8. DRT says:

    Adam Borsay, thanks for your thoughts.

    I find that there is a thought that makes absolutely no sense to me and I am not sure others see it.

    Let me frame it up like this. Suppose that I have an employee stealing from the company. Now, suppose that I don’t know that the employee is stealing from the company but someone comes to me and says, I think Stan is stealing from the company. I ask if he has evidence and he gives it to me. I then say, you know, I don’t think that I want to investigate Stan because if I don’t trust him then I will have to fire him. So I will continue to trust him anyway. But remember, Stan is indeed stealing from the company.

    The bible debate on inerrancy strikes me exactly as that. The inerrantists seems to say, “you know, if I were to believe that the bible is inerrent, then I may have to change my views on other matters”. The problem is that this thought is irrelevant to whether the bible is actually inerrant or not.

    Thanks for talking, have a great weekend.

  9. Barry says:

    Adam & DRT,

    I just checked this out today. I think Adam’s point about “for 2000 years Christians got it wrong” is an important one. It’s that line of thinking that Protestantism rejected though. Councils, popes, saints, tradition, and corporate agreement on biblical interpretation all err. What did Luther posit instead? the Bible and reason/conscience

    So relatedly, I’d ask Adam if he knows of anyone who teaches sola fide or sola scriptura before the Reformation– or if you have ever even had a pastor suggest that you read an entire work by a pre-Reformation Christian. How do they resolve the tension between James and Paul? How do they decide what books are in the canon?

    I started looking at early interpretations of the NT and saw that no one (that I could find– and I looked diligently!) espoused Luther’s doctrine of sola fide or sola scriptura. Luther didn’t even claim that anyone did as far as I know (not even Augustine– Luther liked his high view of grace, but not his view of of the church or of tradition).

    My thought would be, take your reasoning to its consistent end. Either you will cease to be so dogmatic in your Christianity (which I think is a good thing), you will become Eastern Orthodox or Catholic, or you will become non-dogmatic in general.

    My two cents!

  10. sensible christian says:

    Homosexulaity is as much a sin as wearing clothes of mixed fiber, which is also stated in the bible as sinful. Give it up people! Sex in biblical times was primarily a way to exert power over another person – men and women. The Abomination that is meant is just that, random copulation of a powerful indiviual over another. Julius Ceasar held girls and boys as sex slaves. Cleopatra used sex to further her empire as was the custom (she married her brother, then killed him when he tried to usurp power) – and that was OK. The Hebrews valued relationships but still recognized sex as primarily a way to increase numbers of the Tribe. Jesus certainly didn’t condem gay people and his was the next step in the evolution of how people treated each other- and accepted gay people as having the ablity to have normal, loving relationships is another step on our journey. And besides, the science bears it out. The Bible was also used to defend slavery and epilepsey as demonic possession. It’s a living document, not meant to be taken literally.

  11. And yet here I thought you said your handle was “sensible Christian.” Silly me.

  12. Phil Brown says:

    I don’t think you have read enough of the Bible or history “Sensible One.” The New Testament also condemns it. As far as the mixed fiber laws, they were part of the Mosaic Law system for the nation of Israel. Those laws were for the nation to function in the world that they lived. There were foundational principles that drove the placement of those laws and it was the laws of righteousness and faith. Jesus and the Apostles spoke about These certain principles concerning sin and righteousness. They mostly hinged on the Greatest Commandments (Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor), and the Ten Commandments as a foundation. They stated and illustrated that those sins and deeds were a result of what comes from the heart. Jesus did condemn Adultery and fornication. Which covers “all” sexual impurity. Paul stated that homosexuality was also a sin, which falls under the category of sexual immorality with adultery. This has been proven. I have left a lot out, but to make such a statement is very short sided. The document is “living” but unchangeable like God. Men try to distort it and change it to fit their fancy like the people you mentioned who used it to hold people against their will in slavery. However, it never condemned voluntary servants who committed their lives to a person usually for reasons of poverty. It always condemned the type of slavery that was used in the early years of our country. The people who supported slavery in those days were trying to take the Bible out of context as you are now. We need to understand and clearly define what is there. It is true that we all are born with a “sin nature,” but by the power of God and the Holy Spirit, we can overcome the power of sin so that we can be free to serve God. Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you. Have a good day.

  13. Jeanie S says:

    Sensible Christian you stated that you do not take the bible literally however, Jesus said himself when tricked by the Pharisee in regards to divorce. Jesus brought them back to beginning what God meant for marriage. Between man and woman. He said that men’s hearts were hardened and divorce was allowed because during those times when a woman were left by their husbands, they were left with nothing. God designed marriage to bring forth life. That is what the gospel is about. That is why abortion and marriage is a big deal to christians because it is all about the Gospel.

  14. Kevin Nickoson says:

    I cannot believe this thread is still going. Jeanie- people like you are why this world is still a complete mess. Because you think abortion and marriage have anything to do with the gospel. You disgust me. You do not represent love. You do not represent God. You are a selfish person basking in their own self righteousness- and not that it is necessarily the core of your problem, but you are also quite dense. Does God desire overpopulation to condemn the human race to misery and suffering? Should our reproductive ethics really never change?

    Homosexuality is not sin. I’m not even sure the notion(s) of sin that have survived to modern language are identical to the original notions- but I am 100% confident that the term that is designated “homosexuality” in both the New and Old Testament writings by modern translators is NOT the same as the modern term homosexuality. Biblical concepts of homosexuality included the idea of gang rape, criminal deviance, etc. The words are not the same. This planet would be best served by replacing every language teacher on the planet, because they are clearly all doing terrible jobs.

    I am really just extraordinarily angry about this. I commented on this thread years ago, and here the conversation continues in circles. Because no one is capable of reason. This world is doomed because humans are by and large just barely more intelligent than chimps.

  15. Phil Brown says:

    There is no need to get angry Kevin. I am sorry that you are disgusted with us. I think that we all will have to “agree to disagree” for now. I understand why you are angry with “language teachers.” They haven’t re-defined the meaning to fit your preferences. However, if we are honest (as we should be according to the Bible), I don’t think you can argue with the evidence. A good article on this fact is at (http://carm.org/word-homosexual-english-bible-1946), I hope you will read it. As far as the overpopulation thing, your perspective really concerns me. So I suppose you are saying that unborn children are a class of people that deserve to die? Or, do you think that maybe there should be some additional classes of people? Did you know that we could fit the entire world’s population into the state of Texas? There is a lot of land that isn’t inhabited now even with our large population. I do agree that poor stewardship of the environment can lead to some short term consequences, but some of the long-term chaos that is described by scientific theory and politicians I find highly doubtful. The Bible promotes good stewardship of the environment such as taking care of the land, and even animals. It has been proven that where these principles of management have been used, the environment has been in good condition considering the fact we live in a cursed world. Does God desire that we shed innocent blood because we are afraid of overpopulation? Since the Gospel teaches “self-denial” and “self-sacrifice” I find your logic severely flawed. Check out the following link when you have the chance (http://www.caseforlife.com/). Abortion is murder.

  16. @Kevin Nickoson: I’m still wondering how you commented “years ago” on a thread that is less than one year old…

  17. Kevin Nickoson says:

    @Phil- Language is always being re-defined. ‘Literalists’ and ‘traditionalists’ are simply people who refuse to see that THEIR preferences are just like any other, in that they are interpretations as well. Language is a spiderweb of interlocking symbolic ideas, every one of the self-referential and inherently dependent upon the entire context of their language. The word apple cannot have meaning without the word red having meaning. Therefore, sense the word ‘homosexual’ (as it is REDEFINED by translators) derives its meaning from a historico-ethical context devoid of peaceful gay couples, unlike our languages modern context. In addition, the word ‘homosexual’ was connected to roving gangs of rapists. UNLIKE TODAY. So yes, according to my preference for logic, the word has been illegitimately redefined. Also, if abortion were simply made illegal, not only would black market abortion ensure much blood was still spilled (babies and mothers) but a undergraduate knowledge of sociology and poverty would suffice to understand and predict the increase in violent crime that would inevitably accompany such an influx of poverty level population. It isn’t a simple issue. In a perfect world there would be no abortion, I agree. But it is WAY down on the list of problems in this society. Lets fix murder and poverty, then we can talk about abortion. People die. Hell, fetuses don’t make it due to natural causes- and that used to happen a lot more than it does with now thanks to the evolution of human medicine. You conservatives compartmentalize your societal ethics, and it is absurdly simplistic, irresponsible, and preventing this society from having any productive dialogue on how to actually improve the state of the world.

    @Heather- Obviously I simply didn’t check the time stamp. It seems like years. I am wondering what you mean by “still” wondering. Lets perform a little thought experiment. Remove the word “still” from your sentence, and tell me how the meaning changes.

  18. Kevin Nickoson says:

    Oh, and there IS a need to get angry. Innocent people are oppressed, and forced into living a guilt that is completely unfair, because you IDIOTS think homosexuality is any kind of wrong. Not to mention we waste valuable political inertia grinding back and forth on this issue- what about starving children? What about the wrongfully imprisoned and executed? What about financial law and policy that has entire regions of the world caught in a blood bath and struggling with major food shortage and despair? GROW UP! Sex is irrelevant. There is no systematic kind of ‘literal interpretation’ that can be applied to hermeneutics, that has been demonstrated thoroughly by myself and others throughout this thread and elsewhere. There will be a special place in hell for you angels of light who hate just to hate.

  19. @Kevin Nickoson: It’s quite simple. I saw your angry irascible comment last night and wondered how you did it. This morning, I’m still wondering.

    So, reading your abortion comment…are you saying you’d rather see poor people dead? I also am amused. I’m STILL amused even that you said abortion was a low level priority, so let’s fix murder instead. I mean, you do see why someone like Phil or someone like me would find that funny, right?

    Also, you are incorrectly defining “homosexual.” So,you are actually doing what you accuse bible translators of doing. You should probably read the link that Phil provided. That is, if you actually feel like learning instead of spewing hatred.

  20. Kevin Nickoson says:

    @Heather- It is you and your ilk that go about spewing hatred while pretending that you are just good religious people. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of dense westerners thinking they have difficult philosophical questions hammered out when they clearly don’t even have the reading comprehension to understand my comments. Which makes me a little sad, because you clearly didn’t understand me when I insulted your grammar. Oh well, let me make it easier.

    You won’t accept it from me, and you may deny it until you die. But you are very, very stupid, and your actions and opinions are negatively affecting the world. We would all be much better off if you just shut your mouth. I am angry. I am very angry. It is a righteous anger and perhaps you’ll face it from God one day. Until then, you’ll just have to settle for getting yelled at on the internet.

  21. @Kevin Nickson: Ok, come clean…troll or serious? I mean, you’ve literally left me nothing to respond to. Who was it who said, insults are the last refuge of the out-argued?

    I would have faced righteous anger coming from God, but thankfully Jesus was righteous when I couldn’t be. That gospel is for me, you, and homosexuals. But the problem is, I have to stop letting my sins rule me. You have to stop letting your hatred rule you. And homosexuals have to stop letting sexual sins rule them. Don’t worry, though, Jesus is really powerful.

  22. Kevin Nickoson says:

    @Heather- You haven’t addressed a single argument I’ve made, today or at the beginning of this god forsaken thread. I am completely serious when I said there is a special place in hell for you self-righteous fools. Your cliches will not save you. Reread my comments, and my suggestion is that you pay someone with better reading comprehension to help you. Because you haven’t understood a thing. And it’s been, how long did you say, almost a year? That should have been long enough.

  23. Kevin Nickoson says:

    You could have responded to,
    “Language is a spiderweb of interlocking symbolic ideas, every one of the self-referential and inherently dependent upon the entire context of their language. The word apple cannot have meaning without the word red having meaning. Therefore, sense the word ‘homosexual’ (as it is REDEFINED by translators) derives its meaning from a historico-ethical context devoid of peaceful gay couples, unlike our languages modern context. In addition, the word ‘homosexual’ was connected to roving gangs of rapists. UNLIKE TODAY. So yes, according to my preference for logic, the word has been illegitimately redefined.”
    Or,
    “Also, if abortion were simply made illegal, not only would black market abortion ensure much blood was still spilled (babies and mothers) but a undergraduate knowledge of sociology and poverty would suffice to understand and predict the increase in violent crime that would inevitably accompany such an influx of poverty level population.”

    Those are not insults. They are serious arguments. And that is just what I’ve posted today- would you like me to go back to the beginning of this thread and copy over the volumes of arguments I made that were met with the reasoning of a chimp? Insults are for flavor. Try reading the Old Testament prophets sometime- they were quite insulting. The last refuge of the out-argued is throwing up a wall and ignoring the argument they should be dealing with. Otherwise known as the straw-man fallacy.

  24. Kevin Nickoson says:

    Oh, and are you saying you have no sexual sins? Why don’t you outline every detail of your sex life and let society judge that for itself? Just because gay and lesbian couples have the disadvantage of that one simple fact being obvious from outside the bedroom, they are the only ones capable of sexual sin? Let’s hear it then! Every sexual encounter you’ve had, and we’ll decide if you let sexual sin rule you!

  25. @Kevin Nickoson: You pointedly didn’t answer the troll or serious question. So, I’m going to go off the troll assumption. So, you may go ahead and say something angry and nonsensical, but I think this will be my last post. Unless you come up with something rational. In that case, I’d be happy to respond. I read your comments enough. Throughout them you do the very thing to Christians, that you accuse Christians of doing to homosexuals. It’s very silly, but nothing real to respond to. Just sort of, reheated liberal propaganda, complete with buzzwords like “overpopulation” and “dense westerners.”

    The gospel is not a cliche, my dear. I mean, you do assume there is a God who punishes sins, and you seem to quite seriously be gleeful over that. I am highly saddened by the fate of people who never quite understand the gospel. That is the difference between us.

    You put up two previously posted comments (more regurgitated nonsense) that were slightly worth responding to I suppose. I mean, Phil really did respond to the first with the article he put up. Did you read it? (Note: this is the second time I asked) But apple is not dependent on the word red, so I have trouble with your links there. And I love your chronological snobbery implied in that first argument: (Back in the savage days those homosexuals were practically raving lunatics out for sex. Today in our more enlightened times we have peaceful homosexuals) There is absolutely nothing to base this claim on. Don’t worry, it’s something many historians struggle with as well, so you aren’t alone. As Phil says, you are angry because biblical scholars have studied the word and as it turns out, the bible really does just mean “homosexuality” and not “roving rapists” or whatever you choose to believe.

    I did respond to your abortion comments. I said, “are you saying you’d rather see poor people dead?” Because you said there would be a bunch of poor people if we didn’t have abortion.

    Of course homosexuals are not the only people who have sexual sins. I think nearly everyone has had some form of struggle with a sexual sin, be it adultery, or sex outside of marriage, or pornography, or pedophilia, or what have you. I’m just saying Jesus can overcome that, and it doesn’t have to define you. And honestly, asking someone to recount any sexual sins is a little bit gross and creepy.

  26. Kevin Nickoson says:

    Good God you simply have no reading comprehension. I answered the troll question. I said I was deadly serious and I meant it. I’m done with you. You are a hopeless fool.

  27. Hieronymus Illinensis says:

    Mr. Nickoson, your reading comprehension doesn’t look so great, or perhaps you simply did not read the text, if you think the Bible uses a word translated as “homosexual” that actually implies roving gangs of rapists.

    The Old Testament doesn’t use a word translated “homosexual” at all. What it does say, Lev. 18:22, is “With a male (in Hebrew, _et-zakhar_) you [addressed to a male] shall not lie down (_lo tishkav_) the ways one would lie down with (_mishkevei_) a woman (_ishshah_).” No roving gangs of rapists involved. Just two people of the same sex having sex, however consensual or mutually enjoyable.

    We could suppose we could leave that prohibition safely behind as nobody’s business but the Jews’, if St. Paul hadn’t written, 1 Cor 6:9, that people he called _arsenokoitai_ in Greek would not enter the kingdom of heaven. This is a brand-new word, probably coined by Paul himself, composed of _arsen_ “male” and _koite_ “act of lying down.” In the Greek translation of the Old Testament made at Alexandria a couple of centuries before Paul, with which Greek-speaking Jews and Christians in Paul’s time would all be familiar, _arsen_ translates Hebrew _zakhar_ and _koite_ translates _mishkevei_ in Lev 18:22 above. An _arsenokoites_ is a man who violates Lev. 18:22. Paul could have used one of several existing Greek words that referred to homosexual behavior, but they all were tied to specific circumstances, such as _paidophthoria_ “despoilment of a boy” by an adult male. Instead, he coined a word that simply means two people of the same sex having sex. No roving gangs of rapists here either.

  28. Hieronymus Illinensis says:

    If you believe that God creates individual persons, and if you believe that God is concerned with persons’ behavior, and if you believe that God is all about calling us out of ourselves to love others, then it is by no means obvious that “sex is irrelevant.” Rather, the opposite is likely.

    God could have created us to reproduce by fission or budding. Or, God could have created us to reproduce by females laying eggs, males ejecting sperm over them, and both wander off to live their separate lives and leave the fry to fend for themselves. Instead, we are so made that two individuals are drawn to each other (thus being drawn out of themselves, the first step). Then, at the very moment when they are most intensely celebrating their love for each other, whom they have chosen, God challenges them to extend their love still further, to a wholly new person, whom they have not chosen. It is a beautiful design, even though marred by sin, like everything else as it appears on earth.

    It makes sense that, having given us this design, God would not favor the various ways we have come up with to claim the pleasure of the sex act while avoiding the work and the risk of bringing forth new human life and taking lasting responsibility for it (and in some cases avoiding even reaching out to another person as a person). That includes masturbation and contraception along with rape, fornication, and adultery. It also includes same-sex sex acts. (Logically, it would also include choosing an opposite-sex sex partner with the requirement that the person be infertile.)

    A fact also to be noted is that not everyone is going to get to be in a sexual relationship on earth. Biblically speaking, that’s stated in Matthew 19:12.

  29. Kevin Nickoson says:

    These childish attempts at theology are infuriating to read through. I’m seriously done with this it’s jacking up my blood pressure. My final statement- the fundamental linguistic problem precedes composition of text, in composition of thought itself. Paul wrote in a socio-historical context that as such constrained the very possibility of truth. The times have changed, and it’s about time you all caught up or shut up.

  30. Phil Brown says:

    So Kevin, what is truth in your opinion? I think you are saying that truth is relative. Do you believe that to be a true statement?

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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