Review of Matthew Vines, God & the Gay Christian, Part 3: Gay Sex & Leviticus

Preston Sprinkle —  May 7, 2014 — 69 Comments
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the seriesReview of God & the Gay Christian

Matthew Vines has written a very thought-provoking book, one which exemplifies sound thinking and humble research. In reading his book, I often found myself rubbing my eyes vinesthinking, “I can’t believe this guy hasn’t even graduated from college!”

Matthew, you’re a diligent student of God’s word and I appreciate the work you put into this.

In any case, while I love to eat catfish and wear poly-cotton blends, I still believe that the prohibitions of male homosexual intercourse in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are still valid today.

To argue that the laws regarding male homosexual intercourse are no longer binding on Christians, Vines cites a few outdated laws in Leviticus: sowing fields with different seeds (Lev 19:19), wearing clothes made of mixed fabric (19:19), getting tattoos (19:28), and shaving the edges of your beard (19:27). Vines also points out that laws regarding circumcision and dietary laws—bye, bye Shrimp Cocktail—are no longer binding on Christians.

So, since all of these laws are done away with in Christ, it’s probable, argues Vines, that the sexual laws about male-male intercourse are no longer binding as well.

Once again, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Matthew’s tone. It’s gracious. Cordial. Humble. And he actually addresses the “what about…” questions that conservatives will have. I often found myself thinking, “Ah ha, but what about…oh…you actually address that. But, have you considered…oh…um…you actually have.”

In any case, there are problems with Matthew’s treatment of Leviticus 18 and 20.

While Matthew highlights the laws of Leviticus that are no longer valid for Christians, he fails to make mention of all the laws that are clearly still binding. In fact, as I’m sure Matthew knows, Leviticus 18-20 is a distinct literary unit. These three chapters are like one long chapter in the book. And this section lists tons of laws that the Israelites were supposed to obey if they were to get along with each other. Now here’s the thing: while some of these laws are clearly overturned (or fulfilled) in the New Testament, most of them are not.

Most of the laws in Leviticus 18-20 are binding on believers. Matthew only cites a few that aren’t; but here are the rest: incest (Lev 18:6-18; 20:11-14, 17, 19-21), adultery (Lev 18:20; 20:10), child sacrifice (Lev 18:21; 20:1-5), bestiality (Lev 18:23; 20:15-16), theft (Lev 19:11), lying (Lev 19:11), taking the Lord’s name in vain (Lev 19:20), oppressing your neighbor (Lev 19:13), cursing the deaf (19:14), showing partiality in the court of law (Lev 19:15), slander (Lev 19:16), hating your brother (19:17), making your daughter a prostitute (Lev 19:29), turning to witches or necromancers (Lev 19:31), not taking vengeance (Lev 19:17), and loving your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18).

While Matthew correctly points out a few laws that are most probably done away with in Christ, he doesn’t even mention the large pile of commands that are clearly binding on Christians—commands that surround the prohibition of male-male intercourse.

Now, to be fair, adding up the valid and invalid laws that surround the homosexual prohibitions polycotton blendsdoesn’t seal the deal—even if the homosexual prohibitions are drowning in a sea of valid laws. (I do think it puts the burden of proof on affirming scholars, however.) Vines ends up bringing in another argument: the moral logic of homosexual prohibitions.

Discerning the “moral logic” of a command means that we dig deep underneath the actual command to find out the reason for the command. Take tattoos, for instance. The question isn’t so much if tattoos are forbidden, but why they are forbidden. And if you look closely at Leviticus 19:28, you’ll see that tattoos were forbidden because they had to do with some sort of cult of the dead. The tattoos that were forbidden for the Israelites were cultic and pagan; they symbolized allegiance to other gods. And that’s the “moral logic” for the prohibition.

But what about gay sex? What’s the moral logic underlying the prohibitions? Gay sex is clearly forbidden—but why? And are the reasons for the prohibition still valid today?

Vines argues extensively that the reason—the moral logic—for the homosexual prohibitions in Lev 18:22 and 20:13 is because of an assumed male hierarchy. That is, men were valued above women, and when men have sex with other men, they treat the passive partner as a mere woman.

One problem: Nowhere in the context of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 does the text assume some sort of gender hierarchy—that females were inferior to males and that’s why men shouldn’t assume the female role in sex. Nothing. (The phrase “as with a female” only speaks of gender boundaries, not gender hierarchy.) The two prohibitions are “unqualified and absolute” (Gagnon); that is, they simply say that men shouldn’t have sex with men. Period. There is no “moral logic” revealed in the command (just as there is no clear moral logic revealed in the incest laws, though I suspect God gave the commands for similar reasons.) The only hint of moral logic is that men shouldn’t violate their God-given gender roles in sexual intercourse; that is, men should have sex with women, and women sex with men. The command tells men not to have sex with men “as with women.” In any case, assuming some sort of hidden gender hierarchy as the reason for the prohibition is…well…an assumption. An assumption that’s not in the text.

Moreover, every single other sexual prohibition in Leviticus 18 and 20 are still valid for Christians today: adultery, incest, bestiality, etc. They are all valid. Now, Vines points out, or assumes, that the prohibition of sex during a woman’s menstrual period (Lev 19:19) is no longer valid; apparently, men can have all the sex they want during a woman’s period. But my question is: where in the New Testament is this command overturned? Is there any biblical basis—biblical basis—for assuming that men can have sex while their wives are on their period? I’m having troubling recalling a verse, and I can’t explain theologically how it is that Jesus “fulfilled” (yikes!) this prohibition.

So, the point stands: all the prohibitions surrounding sexual immorality in Leviticus 18 and 20 including incest, adultery, sex during menstruation, and male homosexual intercourse—along with a whole host of over commands in Lev 18-20—are still binding on Christians. There’s simply nothing in the context of Leviticus 18 and 20, or in the New Testament, that suggests otherwise.

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Preston Sprinkle

Preston Sprinkle

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I'm married to a beautiful wife and we have four kids (3 girls and a boy). I've been teaching college level Bible and Theology classes for a few years now (since 2007), and enjoy hanging out with my family, running, surfing, and life in SoCal. Before I became a teacher, I was in school. Lots and lots of school. I did a B.A. and M.Div here in SoCal, and then did a Ph.D. in Scotland in NT studies. Before coming to EBC, I taught at Nottingham University for a semester, and Cedarville University for a couple of years. Along with surfing, I also love to research and write, and I've written a few things on Paul, Early Judaism, and Hell.
  • Josh Manriquez

    Oh nice! I didn’t realize disqus accepted html. 🙂

    If it means “against God’s design” in one place, it means it in all other places. If it means “against the ordinary realm of experience” in one place, it means it in all other places. Do you think we get to be inconsistent with the definition because Paul uses Genesis as the foundation for his argument in Romans 1?

    The authorial intent always determines the meaning of any word or phrase. This does not mean that we can arbitrarily assign meaning to a word or phrase. As D.A. Carson says, “any individual word has a certain limited semantic range, and the context may therefore modify or shape the meaning of a word only within certain boundaries” (Exegetical Fallacies, pg. 32. Emphasis mine). I’ve already provided an example with the word φύσις (“nature”). If you want to interpret “nature” in 1 Cor. 11 as “ordinary realm of experience,” then do you also translate it that way in Rom. 2:27 and Gal. 2:15 etc. to be consistent? Determining the correct meaning of a word/phrase demands that we understand the context and authorial intent. So Paul could very well have intended 1 Cor. 11 to be referring to “ordinary realm of experience,” and he could very well have intended Romans 1 to be referring to that which is immorally against God’s natural design.

    Therefore, we know the acts result from lust…. In Romans 1 Paul puts these acts in the context of lust.

    Lust is definitely involved. We do things because we desire to do them. So sure, the shameful actions that Paul speaks about result from lust/desire. I’ve never denied that. Nevertheless, the context and the grammar of this passage—as I explained in my previous comment—supports the interpretation that Paul views homosexuality in general as excessive lust (read: burning of one’s appetite). He put the acts in the context of lust because homosexuality is nothing more than an expression of sinful lust. No matter how much love and affection I may feel toward another man, it’s an unnatural lust that exceeds the lust/desire that God originally ordained for a man to have for a woman. Yet the context is so much more than mere lust: the context is the rejection of God’s authority as clearly revealed in the created realm of nature

    Therefore, we don’t know that Paul would condemn same-sex activity within loving, committed relationship.

    I would disagree, of course. 🙂 Do you, then, believe that we can know that Paul would not condemn same-sex activity within loving, committed relationship? If you think we can’t know for certain, why support the affirming interpretation?

    It’s a mistake to advise gay men to marry women.

    I’ll accept that it may not always be the best advice to give. I’ve read about married Christian men with SSA who—although they are happily married to their wife—would not advise every “gay” Christian to marry a woman. Still, they hold to the “traditional” interpretation of marriage, so they also would not advise such a man to marry another man.

    How [did you know homosexuality was sin]?

    I imagine it was my conscience, or maybe even the Holy Spirit. The other day realized that I had forgotten about the earliest memory I have of homosexual desire. I was about 5 yrs old. Another boy and I were peeing in a bowl full of dirt. Upon seeing his “manhood,” I was excited in such a way that I “knew” was not right. “Something” in me knew it was wrong. I had a few more “encounters” with other boys until around the age of 9, and each time I “felt” it was wrong. So it wasn’t because someone told me it was wrong: it was something I inherently knew.

    All the vices in Paul’s list (where we find the vice, “arsenokoites”) cause harm, and so we can conclude that the act of arsenokoites, too, causes harm. Arsenokoites doesn’t take place within marriage, because the arsenokoites listed causes harm and same-sex acts within marriage do not. Do you see my rationale on this point now?

    Yes I see your rationale.

    It is not sinful passions to want to marry someone you’re attracted to. It is not sinful passions to engage in sexual activity with your spouse.

    I agree wholeheartedly with both sentences, unless those passions are for someone of your same sex. But your sentences don’t negate my point: the bad fruit that has been produced as a “result” of good teachings are actually borne by the sinful passions of sinful people. Would you agree?

    • Julie

      So Paul could very well have intended 1 Cor. 11 to be referring to “ordinary realm of experience,” and he could very well have intended Romans 1 to be referring to that which is immorally against God’s natural design.

      The word “nature” on its own can take on another meaning
      than a phrase using the word “nature.” I don’t see any reason to believe Paul has different meanings in mind for the phrase “against nature” in Romans 1 and Romans 11. Whether one wants to say it means “against the ordinary realm of experience” or “against God’s natural design,” there is no reason it shouldn’t be consistent if both meanings fit the context. The point is, for me, it is not immoral to do something “against God’s natural design,” as we see with Romans 11:24.

      So sure, the shameful actions that Paul speaks about result from lust/desire.

      Yes, “arsenokoites” results from lust. That is why this vice is listed among other vices that result from selfish desire or malicious intent. These vices don’t occur outside of selfish
      desire or malicious intent. Paul could not possibly have loving, committed relationship (i.e. marriage) in mind in Romans 1. Therefore, we don’t know that Paul would condemn same-sex activity within loving, committed relationship.

      Paul views homosexuality in general as excessive lust (read: burning of one’s appetite).

      Paul views arsenokoites as an act of excessive lust.

      If you think we can’t know for certain, why support the affirming interpretation?

      We should apply the Romans 14 principles of conscience to
      things we can’t know for certain. I would say that if we can’t personally support “the affirming position,” we should find a way to affirm the people (& committed couples) who have the affirming position. That affirmation, to me, would include welcoming gay couples into all church settings.

      I’ve read about married Christian men with SSA who—although they are happily married to their wife—would not advise every “gay” Christian to marry a woman.

      That sounds like a reasonable approach.

      “Something” in me knew it was wrong. I had a few more “encounters” with other boys until around the age of 9, and each time I “felt” it was wrong. So it wasn’t because someone told me it was wrong: it was something I inherently knew.

      Thank you for sharing something so personal. Interesting, indeed, that you would now think that since you “felt” it was wrong as a young boy then that must mean it was something you inherently knew was wrong. When I was a young girl, some older girls shared a magazine with naked men in it and I experienced some new feelings rising within me and I, too, felt it was wrong to feel such things.

      the bad fruit that has been produced as a “result” of good teachings are actually borne by the sinful passions of sinful people. Would you agree?

      The bad fruit from the traditional teaching I was talking about was the suffering and even suicide that occurs from feelings of isolation, self-hatred, and despair. So, no, I don’t see their suffering and suicide as a result of sinful passions.

      I just read a very good article on this subject online in Premier Christianity by a Baptist minister, Steve Chalke. He speaks of the importance of inclusion and points to some of the tragic results of the traditional teaching.

      • Josh Manriquez

        The word “nature” on its own can take on another meaning than a phrase using the word “nature.” I don’t see any reason to believe Paul has different meanings in mind for the phrase “against nature” in Romans 1 and Romans 11…. The point is, for me, it is not immoral to do something “against God’s natural design,” as we see with Romans 11:24.

        A phrase is no different than a word: an author can intend it to mean one thing in one context and another thing in another context. Yes, I agree that doing something “against God’s natural design” does not make something automatically immoral. I thought I had already made that agreement. Circumcising one’s son is “against nature,” and yet it is clearly not immoral because God commanded it (in the OT, of course). The grafting of wild branches into a cultivated tree is “against nature,” yet Paul speaks of it positively: God graciously grafts Gentiles into the tree. Yet these two examples have nothing to do with God’s wrath. As I understand it, the “immoral” aspect of Romans 1’s “against nature” is evident in view of the context of God’s wrath and His giving/delivering them up. Also, the acts that are “against nature” in Romans 1 are described as shameful and worthy of penalty. Non-immoral acts don’t merit penalty.

        Whether one wants to say it means “against the ordinary realm of experience” or “against God’s natural design,” there is no reason it shouldn’t be consistent if both meanings fit the context.

        I agree, but the contexts are completely different. One passage speaks of “against nature” in the context of God’s wrath and penalty, the other speaks of it in the context of God graciously grafting in Gentiles.

        Yes, “arsenokoites” results from lust. That is why this vice is listed among other vices that result from selfish desire or malicious intent.

        In Romans 1, the homosexual vice (which Paul says is “against nature”) is listed among other vices that are immoral. Both in verse 26 and verse 28, immoral acts follow Paul’s statement of God delivering the people up.

        Paul could not possibly have loving, committed relationship (i.e. marriage) in mind in Romans 1.

        Gagnon has written a short article in which he lists several ancient quotes proving that people in the Greco-Romans world did have a concept of loving, committed relationships. Some of these quotes, if I remember correctly, were not included in Preston’s list of quotes, so they may be new to you. The article is entitled, “Understanding and Responding to a Pro-Homosexual Interpretation of Scripture.” It’s under
        point 2 of the article. You can find it at enrichmentjournal dot ag dot org.

        When I was a young girl, some older girls shared a magazine with naked men in it and I experienced some new feelings
        rising within me and I, too, felt it was wrong to feel such things

        Yeah I recall a friend showing me a magazine with naked women around the age of 8, and I knew it was wrong to be viewing someone else’s nakedness. But my point was not that I felt it wrong to view someone else’s nakedness. My point was that I knew it was wrong to have lustful desires specifically for someone of my same sex.

        The bad fruit from the traditional teaching I was talking about was the suffering and even suicide that occurs from feelings of isolation, self-hatred, and despair. So, no, I don’t see their suffering and suicide as a result of sinful passions.

        Right, I understand that; yet even the committing of suicide and feelings of self-hatred & despair result from one’s own sinfulness. When Jesus told the rich man to sell all he had, the rich man became περίλυπος
        (very sorrowful; deeply grieved/distressed) and walked away, not wanting to give up his wealth. His own sinful passions produced such deep distress, not Jesus’ instructions. He wanted to hold on to something that Jesus commanded him to give up. Sounds awfully similar to our present discussion.

        • Julie

          A phrase is no different than a word: an author can intend it to mean one thing in one context and another thing in another context.

          Yes, I understand, but you were attempting to come up with
          different definitions of the phrase by defining a word within the phrase in different ways.

          Also, there is no reason to believe Paul has different meanings in mind for the phrase in Romans 1 and Romans 11. We have no grounds to change the meaning if the same meaning fits the context of both passages.

          Also, the acts that are “against nature” in Romans 1 are described as shameful and worthy of penalty.

          The acts are shameful and worthy of penalty (God’s wrath) because they are immoral. The acts are against nature, but that doesn’t mean the acts are immoral. These acts that are immoral are also against nature, just as the grafting of wild branches into a cultivated tree is against nature.

          I agree, but the contexts are completely different. One passage speaks of “against nature” in the context of God’s wrath and penalty, the other speaks of it in the context of God graciously grafting in Gentiles.

          The acts receive God’s wrath NOT because they happen to be against nature but because they are immoral acts.

          In Romans 1, the homosexual vice (which Paul says is “against nature”) is listed among other vices that are immoral. Both in verse 26 and verse 28, immoral acts follow Paul’s statement of God delivering the people up.

          Arsenokoites is against nature, but the fact that it’s against nature is not the reason it’s immoral. Arsenokoites is inherently against nature because it’s immoral. All things immoral are against nature but not all things against nature are immoral.

          Gagnon has written a short article in which he lists several ancient quotes proving that people in the Greco-Romans world did have a concept of loving, committed relationships.

          Josh, think about it… So what if “they” knew of a few “loving, committed” relationships? That changes nothing. Paul COULD NOT have had those in mind when he wrote Romans 1 because arsenokoites results from lust as we see in Romans 1 (v. 24) and as we see it is listed among other vices that result from selfish desire or malicious intent.

          My point was that I knew it was wrong to have lustful desires specifically for someone of my same sex.

          Sexually lustful desires at age 5?

          Right, I understand that; yet even the committing of suicide and feelings of self-hatred & despair result from one’s own sinfulness.

          Did you ever despair unto suicidal thoughts? Even if selfish on some level, was it not facilitated by others’ thoughtlessness to some degree? It is to that degree that the traditional view should take responsibility for its bad fruit.

          • Josh Manriquez

            …you were attempting to come up with different definitions of the phrase by defining a word within the phrase in different ways

            The different definitions of “nature” show one reason why a phrase with that word can also be understood in different ways. It’s important to understand the definition of “nature” by itself in order to understand how “nature” can be understood within a phrase. I need to know what “nature” is by itself in order to know what is against it. If someone says that something is against nature, then I wanna know what “nature” means as intended by the author in a given context. Again, context and authorial intent are always the determining factor.

            There is no reason to believe Paul has different meanings in mind for the phrase in Romans 1 and Romans 11. We have no grounds to change the meaning if the same meaning fits the context of both
            passages.

            And I humbly disagree. First, I don’t believe I’m “changing” any meaning. Rather, I’m recognizing the different meanings that the author intended to communicate. No one can “change” any authorial intended meaning: it is what it is. Second, the fact that a same meaning fits both contexts doesn’t demand it to be true. Third, I see at least two other reasons/grounds for different meanings:
            1) It’s possible that Paul intended the meanings to be different
            2) It’s linguistically and contextually possible for the meanings to be different.

            The acts are shameful and worthy of penalty (God’s wrath) because they are immoral. The acts are against nature, but that doesn’t mean the acts are immoral. These acts that are immoral are also against nature…

            That is also, definitely, linguistically possible. It’s possible that is what Paul intended. If true, it doesn’t persuade me in the least to become an “affirmer.” And I know— as you’ve said before—you’re not trying to persuade me. I’m just sharing my thoughts. 🙂

            The acts receive God’s wrath NOT because they happen to be against nature but because they are immoral acts.

            At the end of the day, we both agree that the acts are immoral. So the question that everyone is ultimately seeking to answer is “what are the acts?” Some say all homosexual acts; some say non-loving homosexual acts. I look forward to Preston’s book to provide more insight.

            Paul COULD NOT have had those in mind when he wrote Romans 1 because arsenokoites results from lust as we see in Romans 1 (v. 24) and as we see it is listed among other vices that result from selfish desire or malicious intent.

            Now that you know how to italicize words, are you yelling with those caps? Just curious.

            I still believe that Paul could have had loving forms of homosexual acts in mind, because—as Preston and I have mentioned before—Paul could have believed that all homosexual acts—no matter how loving one may feel—is an act of lust/desire that exceeds God’s natural design. I’ve already demonstrated how the grammar very
            clearly, imo, supports that belief. Even the word “lust” in v. 24 comes from a word that quite simply refers to the desires of one’s heart. God gave them up in the desires of their heart. They desired to do their own thing. The women and men desired same-sex relations. This is precisely true when gay couples feel love toward one another: they desire one another. And according to Paul, that desire in and of itself is immoral because it goes against God’s original design of heterosexual desire.

            Sexually lustful desires at age 5?

            Oh yes! Absolutely. 100% without a doubt, yes, I was aroused with desire for another boy.

            Even if selfish on some level, was it not facilitated by others’ thoughtlessness to some degree? It is to that degree that the traditional view should take responsibility for its bad fruit.

            Thoughtlessness? I don’t want to make assumptions, but it sounds like you’re saying that those who hold to the traditional interpretation are thoughtless. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but when you say, “it is to that degree that the traditional view…”, it sounds like you’re identifying the traditional view with the “others’ thoughtlessness.”

            If people are thoughtless when communicating God’s Word, then indeed it is their own thoughtlessness that has “facilitated” negative emotions. Nevertheless, it is still my own choice how I respond to the
            thoughtlessness of others. Is Jesus to take responsibility for causing the rich man to become deeply sorrowful? After all, the man would not have felt sorrowful had Jesus not given him the command. In fact, Adam and Eve would not have felt fear and embarrassment had God not given the original command to them. Is God to blame? Of course not.

          • Julie

            Rather, I’m recognizing the different meanings that the author intended to communicate.

            As I mentioned, it is not immoral to do something against nature, as we see with Romans 11:24. Therefore, we can’t say the Romans 1 acts are immoral just because they are against nature.

            So the question that everyone is ultimately seeking to answer is “what are the acts?”

            Well, for the men it’s called arsenokoites, right? And, again, this vice is listed among other vices that emerge from malicious intent or selfish desire, and all of the vices cause identifiable harm. This should clue us in on what sexual acts qualify as arsenokoites and what sexual acts do not.

            I look forward to Preston’s book to provide more insight.

            He believes that by calling the acts “against nature” Paul has outlawed all forms of same-sex relations. This is one of the chief places I disagree with Preston. Just because something is “against nature” does not mean it’s immoral (Rom. 11:24).

            Now that you know how to italicize words, are you yelling with those caps? Just curious.

            No, it was just for emphasis, but good point. It’s just a combination of habit and laziness.

            Paul could have believed that all homosexual acts—no matter how loving one may feel—is an act of lust/desire that exceeds God’s natural design.

            “Could have” is not enough for me to consider excluded from the Body of Christ those who have valid reasons for adhering to and/or applying the affirming view to their lives.

            I don’t think Preston believes that same-sex activity within marriage amounts to inappropriate lust; I believe he simply thinks that since the acts are against nature, they are forbidden. I, on the other hand, acknowledge that simply because something is against nature does not mean it’s forbidden.

            that desire in and of itself is immoral because it goes against God’s original design of heterosexual desire.

            Then grafting of wild branches into a cultivated tree is immoral
            because it, too, is against God’s original design. We can’t have it both ways.

            The acts become immoral when they are driven by malicious intent or selfish desire. People who want to give themselves to another in self-sacrificial marital commitment are not driven by selfish desire.

            it sounds like you’re saying that those who hold to the traditional interpretation are thoughtless… After all, the man would not have felt sorrowful had Jesus not given him the command.

            It’s not “the command” that leads to bad fruit; it’s the entire approach in which the command is presented that leads to bad fruit. The traditional view has taken on an approach with LGBT people that goes far beyond any command. I don’t see the same treatment of remarried couples whose previous marriages ended in unbiblical divorce. They’re not looked down on, they’re not mocked, they’re not ostracized, and they’re not excluded from church and considered cut off from the Body of Christ.

          • Josh Manriquez

            As I mentioned, it is not immoral to do something against nature, as we see with Romans 11:24.

            The first two exchanges in Romans 1 describe immoral acts:

            1) They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal beings… (v. 23)
            and
            2) They exchanged the truth of God for a lie… (v. 25)

            Therefore it seems reasonable to conclude that the next exchange—the exchange of natural for the unnatural—is also immoral. In other words, the “against nature” exchange is located within an immoral-vice list.

            Perhaps “ungodly” or “unrighteous” (v. 18) are more appropriate words to use instead of “immoral,” because they are the words Paul used. When I read about the same-sex activity in Romans 1, I imagine a Venn diagram whose largest circle is “Ungodliness/Unrighteousness” (v. 18). Within that circle is a smaller circle of “the against-nature-acts.” In this context, Paul considers this act-against-nature to be ungodly/unrighteous.

            …this vice [arsenokoites] is listed among other vices that emerge from malicious intent or selfish desire, and all of the vices cause identifiable harm.

            I recognize that connection. But again I see a larger circle of “unrighteous acts.” Right at the beginning of 1 Cor. 6:9 Paul says that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God, and the vice list that follows contains a list of unrighteous acts (i.e. the smaller circles within the larger circle). It’s not necessary to see an overlap between any of those smaller circles. The list in 1 Timothy also begins with the statement, “the law is not for the righteous.” What follows is also a list of unrighteous acts.

            …Then grafting of wild branches into a cultivated tree is immoral because it, too, is against God’s original design. We can’t have it both ways.

            No, because the grafting of the wild branches into a cultivated tree isn’t a “circle” embedded within a larger “unrighteous” circle

            The acts become immoral when they are driven by malicious intent or selfish desire. People who want to give themselves to another in self-sacrificial marital commitment are not driven by selfish desire.

            When people want anything that is opposed to what God wants, it is indeed a selfish desire. As I understand Scripture, wanting a self-sacrificial marital commitment with someone of one’s own sex is a desire that is opposed to what God wants, and therefore it is selfish. It’s saying to God, “I don’t want what you want for me; I want what I want for me.”

            I don’t see the same treatment of remarried couples whose previous marriages ended in unbiblical divorce. They’re not looked down on, they’re not mocked, they’re not ostracized, and they’re not excluded from church and considered cut off from the Body of Christ.

            The pastors/elders at my church refuse to officiate the wedding of anyone who has been divorced without biblical grounds. But why would anyone mock or ostracize or exclude a remarried couple if that couple has confessed their sin and sought the forgiveness of the Lord? Unless you think their new marriage is not legitimate, and that they need to divorce from their new marriage, then God has forgiven them, so who are we to mock and ostracize them?

            Now, I wholeheartedly agree that it is
            wrong to look down upon and mock and ostracize and exclude from church anyone who is unrepentantly gay. Jesus would never have done that! He loved everyone! Nevertheless, He also called everyone to repent, and this we must do without mocking and ostracizing, etc.

          • Julie

            …The first two exchanges in Romans 1 describe immoral acts:…

            The “first two exchanges” are immoral because they are driven by selfish desire leading to harming relationship with God. They’re not immoral because they’re against nature. The “first two exchanges” cannot take place outside of selfish desire. The next exchange—the natural for the unnatural—is also immoral because it is driven by selfish desire.

            In other words, the “against nature” exchange is located within an immoral-vice list.

            Arsenokoites, which is against nature, is a vice that is immoral (ungodly/unrighteous?) because it is driven by selfish desire. The sin of arsenokoites does not take place outside of selfish desire. The sin of murder does not take place outside of malicious intent. The sin of lying does not take place outside of malicious intent or selfish gain.

            What follows is also a list of unrighteous acts.

            And all of them cause identifiable harm. So does arsenokoites. Therefore, it’s not reasonable to conclude that this act takes place within marital covenant.

            No, because the grafting of the wild branches into a cultivated tree isn’t a “circle” embedded within a larger
            “unrighteous” circle

            You’re not making any sense to me at all. Sounds like (and I could be wrong) you are trying very hard to make this more complicated than it is. If the desire is immoral because it goes against God’s original design then the grafting of wild branches into a cultivated tree is immoral because it, too, goes against God’s original design.

            When people want anything that is opposed to what God wants, it is indeed a selfish desire.

            Selfless giving of oneself to another in marital commitment is what God wants.

            it is wrong to look down upon and mock and ostracize and exclude from church anyone who is unrepentantly gay.

            Josh, you’ve repented from “being gay”?

          • Josh Manriquez

            As I’ve sought to make clear before, I want to say again that I’ve tried to have a friendly dialogue. I do hope that is how it has appeared. It’s not my interest to “win” an “argument,” but to sharpen my own understanding of Scripture via dialogue. So I’m not disagreeing just to disagree or anything like that; I have a sincere desire to grow in my understanding of Scripture, and so I very much appreciating bouncing thoughts back and forth with you.

            Josh, you’ve repented from “being gay”?

            With all the definitions going around for “gay”, I see how that was a poor choice of words on my part. Perhaps a better way to phrase my intention is, “It is wrong to ostracize and mock those who unrepentantly celebrate their same-sex desires.” There may be a better way of saying it, but I think you know what I mean. If not, I’d be glad to clarify.

            And all of them cause identifiable harm. So does arsenokoites.

            I’m not convinced that Paul’s intention and/or point is to describe actions that cause harm. What is clear from the text is that Paul is identifying unrighteous acts. We can talk all we want about motives and physical consequences of these acts, but I’m not convinced that Paul wants us to identify the similarities of these acts. The acts are acts that God has forbidden, and that makes them unrighteous. Indeed, idolatry can come in many forms, including the form of a loving, committed marriage that God has forbidden.

            I would add that my understanding of arsenokoites is not limited to these passages alone; it comes from my understanding of Paul and the rest of Scripture, including—as Preston has already mentioned—the LXX of Lev. 18:22 & 20:13, which Paul would have taught from as an apostle to Greek-speaking Gentiles.

            Sounds like (and I could be wrong) you are trying very hard to make this more complicated than it is. If the desire is immoral because it goes against God’s original design then the grafting of wild branches into a cultivated tree is immoral because it, too, goes against God’s original design.

            I’m not intentionally trying to make this more complicated. I actually thought I was being quite simple. Still, Scripture can be complicated. A former teacher of mine exhorted the students to expect to get Scripture wrong. This expectation motivates us to study hard so that we can get it right. When we approach the text expecting to get it right, we very often will get it wrong, because we didn’t take the time to study all its complexities.

            To clarify what in my mind is “simple”, we’re looking at two passages where Paul describes actions that are “against nature” in different ways.

            1) In Romans 1: This against-nature-act is ungodly/unrighteous.
            2) In Romans 11: This against-nature-act is good.

            Paul clearly views “against nature” to be immoral in Romans 1. It’s as though Paul were saying, “You should not have gone against nature in this case! Going against nature in this case is very wrong, because God originally intended man to be with woman; going against His original intention in that regard is immoral.”

            Based on the grammar in Romans 1:26 (and based on the parallel with v. 25), I understand Paul to be “meshing” the burning and the shameless acts into one
            whole against-nature-act. Therefore, rewording and simplifying v. 26 might look something like this: “The men received the penalty of their error
            because they acted against nature.”

            As I said before, I get that there are things that are “against nature” that are not inherently immoral (like Rom. 11:24). But it is a non sequitur to conclude that all things that are “against nature” are not inherently immoral. It boils down to the authorial intent. Paul intended Romans 11:24 to be considered the right thing to do. Conversely, Paul intended Romans 1:26-27 to be considered immoral.

            Selfless giving of oneself to another in marital commitment is what God wants.

            But if—as I clearly believe—it is true that God prohibits homosexuality in general, then God does not want the selfless giving of a man/woman for his/her own sex.

          • Julie

            It’s not my interest to “win” an “argument,” but to sharpen my own understanding of Scripture via dialogue.

            I believe you. 🙂

            Perhaps a better way to phrase my intention is, “It is wrong to ostracize and mock those who unrepentantly celebrate their same-sex desires.”

            Okay, I think I see what you mean. “Celebrate” as in those who have made peace with their sexual orientation before God and openly pursue same-sex life partners? Is that more accurate? That’s what needs to be repented of?

            I’m not convinced that Paul’s intention and/or point is to describe actions that cause harm…The acts are acts that God has forbidden, and that makes them unrighteous.

            Paul’s point was to address issues that related to problems of his day.

            I don’t perceive God to be arbitrary. Every unrighteous act listed causes identifiable harm. I see that as very relevant.

            which Paul would have taught from as an apostle to Greek-speaking Gentiles.

            And knowing a little more about how Paul used the word in context gives clarity as to why it was prohibited for Israel by the Law.

            Paul clearly views “against nature” to be immoral in Romans 1.

            Paul views the act, which is against nature, to be immoral.

            Going against nature in this case is very wrong,

            True. It’s not wrong because it’s against nature, though.

            because God originally intended man to be with woman;

            It’s immoral because the act causes serious harm.

            “The men received the penalty of their error because they acted against nature.”

            “The men received the penalty of their error because of their immoral act, which was against nature.”

            Paul intended Romans 11:24 to be considered the right thing to do.

            This statement doesn’t make sense to me. Being turned over to the lusts of your heart to impurity is not a right thing to do.

            When we talk about “against nature” acts, we’re describing the acts with that phrase. We’re categorizing the acts into a group described as “against nature.” Some of the “against nature” acts are moral and some are immoral. Therefore, the description “against nature” is not the thing that describes it as moral or immoral. The descriptive phrase “against nature” can’t carry both a negative and positive connotation (i.e. it can’t mean both healthy and unhealthy, both good and bad, both moral and immoral).

          • Josh Manriquez

            “Celebrate” as in those who have made peace with their sexual orientation before God and openly pursue same-sex life partners? Is that more accurate?

            Correct. Love does not rejoice in
            unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). I know the “affirming” position does not consider “loving, committed” same-sex relations to be unrighteous. I get that, and I empathize 100% with their disdain for my disagreement.

            I don’t perceive God to be arbitrary. Every unrighteous act listed causes identifiable harm. I see that as very relevant.

            I too don’t believe God is arbitrary, and I agree that harm results. I just don’t agree that arsenokoites necessarily has to involve some sort of “identifiable” harm other than the harm of incurring God’s wrath and being excluded from His kingdom. Even idolaters and the greedy don’t necessarily have to involve some sort of identifiable harm.

            And knowing a little more about how Paul used the word in context gives clarity as to why it was prohibited for Israel by the Law.

            That’s one way of looking at it. But I believe Paul used it in accordance to it’s context in Leviticus, and I believe that fits the vice-list contexts just fine.

            It’s not wrong because it’s against nature, though…. It’s immoral because the act causes serious harm.

            Whether or not the acts of Romans 1 cause harm Paul does not say. Paul, in fact, calls the acts “shameful” and “against nature,” but he does not call them “harmful.” We can speculate about these acts being harmful, but that is not what Paul says about them. The text itself (Paul) speaks of God’s wrath because (greek = γαρ) they went against nature:

            Verse 25: “…For/Because (γαρ) the women acted against nature” (my paraphrase).
            Verse. 26: “…likewise the men acted against nature” (my paraphrase).

            This statement doesn’t make sense to me. Being turned over to the lusts of your heart to impurity is not a right thing to do.

            Re-read my comment that you quoted. Just as you quoted me, I wrote “Romans 11:24,” not Romans 1:24. 🙂

            The descriptive phrase “against nature” can’t carry both a negative and positive connotation (i.e. it can’t mean both healthy and unhealthy, both good and bad, both moral and immoral).

            I agree! In Romans 1, “against nature” does not carry both a negative and positive connotation: it carries one, negative connotation.

          • Julie

            Greed is simply a form of idolatry—placing things before Jesus. Idolatry harms relationship with Jesus. All the vices, including arsenokoites, cause identifiable harm to relationship with others. There is no such thing as arsenokoites in marriage since sex within marriage doesn’t cause harm to relationship with others. For those to whom I’ve spoken, the covenant of the two only strengthened their relationship with Jesus.

            Romans 1:24 reveals that the dishonoring of their bodies followed the lust that began in the heart. The physical exchange was a reflection of what was already within their
            hearts. The suppression of the truth (v. 18) is within the heart and God’s wrath is against this unrighteousness. God’s wrath is because of their suppression of truth in their hearts and the “turning over” (v. 26) was in the form of a physical exchange (vv. 26-27) which is described as “against nature.”

            Acts against nature are not bad (cf. Rom. 11:24). But some acts against nature are immoral. Moral acts against nature are good and immoral acts against nature are bad. Acts are not immoral because they’re against nature. If that were true then the act in Romans 11:24 was immoral.

  • Christine

    God’s original & perfect plan for marriage is in Genesis 2:24 “for a man shall leave his father & mother & cleave to his wife & they shall become one flesh”
    When a person wants to justify sin he/she can manipulate scriptures in a way to validate the sins. People also intentionally sin because they know God will still forgive. So I can fornicate or commit adultery get pregnant & abort the baby because God will forgive me! BUT there comes a point in which choosing to continually intentionally sin that a person can develop a reprobate mind in which they want to stop but can’t.
    After Jesus Christ resurrection & before His ascension He stated He is leaving the Comforter (the Holy Spirit of God). The Holy Spirit dwells within the believer teaching us & guiding us in our Christian walk. Whenever we sin or act inappropriately the Holy Spirit gently correct us. It is up to each of us to heed to urgings of God’s spirit & not to ignore & quench it.

  • Michael

    I’m beginning to rethink everything.

    I’ve been reading this blog / responses along with others online for a while. I watched Matthew Vines Youtube video a few weeks ago. After reading the back and forth on this topic, my confusion persists. Who can I trust? The vast diversity of opinions is not a faith builder. Conversations are great, but I ultimately long for clarity. Should I question everything now? If I can’t identify truth when it comes to sexual morality, how can I know that my understanding of anything in the Bible is correct? To be sure, the topic at hand is not a minor issue. It’s enormously significant. When looking for answers, science and philosophy can only take us so far. We need God’s voice (if he has one).

    With my evolving view comes discomfort. The high esteem that I’ve held for certain
    aspects of my faith is sliding downward. The Bible seems to teach something about homosexual behavior, but I guess in reality, it isn’t saying what I thought it was at all. This is not a simple misjudgment. To make matters worse, it seems that all of our Holy Spirit filled Christian forefathers – the giants of the faith – made the
    same devastating error. Sure, history’s greatest Christian leaders have proven to be flawed, but this takes it to a new level. Where the heck has the guidance
    of the Holy Spirit been for the last 2000 years? Where’s God’s special providence? It looks as though the God-given gifts of wisdom and discernment have been napping for a long, long time. (…or have they) Has the Holy Spirit finally arrived at this party?

    As for “Scripture,” is it really profitable for teaching and correction, even though we tend to get it so wrong? It seems like the longer we stare at certain
    passages, like Romans 1, the blurrier they become. I guess when this happens, we have the freedom to redraw the lines in order to make sense of the image. I now employ a method that I used to frustratingly call hermeneutical gymnastics. With a twist, a twirl, a back flip and a triple axel dismount — we can have the real
    meaning of a chosen passage. I should feel enlightened. Instead, a seed of
    despair is beginning to flourish in me.

    Maybe I should rethink my rethinking.

    • Phyte_On

      The Bible is very explicit as to family structure. There is zero ambiguity. The Bible and 10 commandments assumes 1 truth.

      Children and Parents
      6 sChildren, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 t“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

      The modern Gay identity construct redefines reality by redefining the following:
      1) redefines gender
      2) redefines sexual morality
      3) redefines family structure
      4) redefines marriage

      The Bible assumes only 1 reality grounded in teleology, natural law.

      The modern gay construct creates a new reality based on egocentric rationalizations.

      Ultimately, we are forced to choose a world view. Biblical world view or Gay world view. The decision is costly. Children and Parents
      6 sChildren, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 t“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

    • Julie

      It’s not an easy journey. Check out Danny Cortez’s story. He’s a pastor from a Southern Baptist church in La Mirada, Calif. He had a very long journey with this (still on it) and recently told his church of his change of mind on this issue.

  • Phyte_On

    Hi Preston,

    It is practically impossible to persuade Gay Christians that homosexuality is sin based on the Bible. Here is the problem with debate over gay sexuality using the Bible – the Bible assumes, presupposes certain realities as given.

    1) The entire Bible is founded on certain realities in the universe as given (eg, teleology). Gay sexuality rejects teleological arguments. The Bible presupposes that the readers have some grounding and acceptance of teleology.

    2) The rejection of teleological arguments leads to an entire host of man-centered rationalizations. A new reality is cleverly and cunningly rationalized that the Bible does not specifically address – the Bible only reinforces teleological arguments – and is dismissed as not relevant to the modern construct (new reality) of gay sexuality.

    3) The Bible did not foresee the modern construct of Gay identity. Therefore, the Gay Christian can embrace the God of the Bible exactly as a Hetero Christian – same rules of sexual immorality apply – the ideal being that sex between two people should be reserved for marriage. The fact that both Heteros and Gays struggle, tempted, and sin in this area is just part of the condition of man. There is virtually no difference between Hetero Christians and Gay Christians.

    4) Eventually, the wall that exists between Hetero Christians (eg conservative traditionalists) and Gay Christians needs to be torn down. Both are one in Christ with equal virtue in sexuality and marriage and family structure (eg, mother & mother = mother & father). The only differences are teleological – which is the wall of separation that must be destroyed for sake of unity.

    The conflict will always be between those who choose to steadfastly hold to teleological arguments and those who see teleology as archaic and out dated thinking – especially in areas of love, relationships, marriage, and sexuality. Love is a higher virtue than some archaic teleological argument so to speak. When we dialogue with a Gay Christian you must understand the foundation from which they speak.

    This is more of a debate over a larger world-view not narrowly over sexual morality and what the Bible teaches about sexual morality – folks are getting lost in the weeds. There is something much bigger at play here than determining the boundaries of virtue and sin according to the Bible.

    • Phyte_On

      For clarity of terms in my post – I was not clear:

      Gay Christian = anyone who holds to Gay Marriage as OK for Christians – homosexuality not sin per se.

      Heteros = I should have said those who hold to Conservative Traditional view of man & woman marriage.

      “Teleology” is a theological and philosophical term referring to the purpose things were made for. Things are made with a “telos,” or an end, in view. For example, thumbs are made for grasping, eyes are made for seeing, and ears are made for hearing.

  • Sun

    Holy smokes! You’re quote that I responded to was: “all the activities in the lists are harmful to OTHERS.” Then you come back and describe some activities as being harmful to oneself. This is very different.

    I could run through each of the vices that I originally mentioned and show how they do not necessarily cause harm to OTHERS….but I’ve got little time here.

    Maybe you originally meant to say “harmful” not “harmful to others.”

    I would absolutely agree that these activities are harmful to oneself, but this is not what you stated.

    Even with this understanding though, many people, including some of my friends, can persuasively argue that consensual sex with someone you love before marriage is not only fine, it’s beneficial. They would argue that there is no harm in it at all. One couple I know is even married now and seem to be thriving in their relationship. There seems to be no obvious harm other than going against God’s plan / design at the time.

    After saying all this, I’m still confused about your “harmful” argument.

    Many people believe that male + male sex is extremely harmful physically, emotionally and spiritually. They can attempt to make a case for it like you have with the other issues above….so I guess it fits perfectly into the list of harmful vices. Right? We don’t have to redefine Paul’s view of homosexual practice after all. Right?

    I don’t have time to discuss other things you have brought up, but I wish you well. Sorry for the chippy tone. I won’t be back for a while, but I thank you and of course Preston for engaging in this topic.

    I pray that God’s Spirit will guide all of us to the truth and a deeper relationship with himself.

    • Julie

      //…Even with this understanding though, many people,
      including some of my friends, can persuasively argue that consensual sex with someone you love before marriage is not only fine, it’s beneficial…//

      It appears I’m having difficulty expressing my points to you
      clearly.

      If something is unambiguously prohibited in Scripture (even
      if it doesn’t appear to cause harm), it should be obeyed. It’s in Scripture for a reason.

      If it’s not prohibited in Scripture, but it harms, then the activity should be avoided. We mustn’t go around causing harm.

      If it’s not clear in Scripture /and/ it doesn’t cause harm, then it’s between the individual and God how to proceed.

      //Many people believe that male + male sex is extremely harmful physically, emotionally and spiritually.//

      Then they should probably avoid such activities for themselves.

      //We don’t have to redefine Paul’s view of homosexual practice after all. Right?//

      We shouldn’t but extending the prohibition to acts within marriage seems to do just that.

  • Julie

    //Your argument about bestiality is that it must be wrong because it’s harmful to animals? That’s it? Isn’t it worse for the animal to be eaten by people? (Sorry)//

    Sun:

    Sheep and horses don’t eat people. Look, you’ve evaded the points I’ve raised. One cannot arbitrarily pick and choose which Leviticus prohibitions are valid for the Christian and which are not. Preston said that it’s valid /if/ there is nothing in the context of Leviticus or in the NT that says otherwise (see his last two paragraphs). Well, there is /nothing/ in the context of Leviticus or in the NT that says we can now wear poly-cotton blends. So why do we?

    Preston didn’t say anything about it being “reiterated” in the NT, he said if it was “overturned” in the NT. Wearing poly-cotton blends was not overturned in the NT.

    As I said, my understanding of Paul’s teaching is that the entirety of the Mosaic Law is /not/ binding on Christians. “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6). There are some laws within the Mosaic Law that we should observe, not /because/ we are bound to Mosaic Law but because we should not go around causing harm.

    //I would be more inclined to say that bestiality is against God’s design in nature. (Similar in my view of gay sex) Maybe this is why both prohibitions inhabit the same geography in Leviticus.//

    It’s against nature (“God’s design”) to curse your father or mother and have sex with your neighbor’s wife? They, too, are in the “same geography.”

    It’s against nature (“God’s design”) to marry both a woman and her sister? Jacob did so, surely, this act isn’t inherently immoral; yet it, too, is in the “same geography” as
    the rest.

    Using your logic of “same geography,” either they’re all against nature or they all aren’t. And if “against nature” means “against God’s design,” then Jacob’s union with Rachel was no better than the sex between two men. Both would be “against God’s design” and therefore inherently sinful. (Personally, I think all sexual sin /is/ inherently immoral but I don’t think every action “against nature” is inherently immoral, cf. Rom. 11:24).

    But I wouldn’t rule out that they’re all “against nature,” because the phrase can mean against cultural norms / against CUSTOMS.

    “Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable CUSTOMS which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them” (Lev. 18:30).

    “Moreover, you shall not follow the CUSTOMS of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them” (Lev. 20:23).

    Was it not a practice/custom of the pagan men to have long hair? Paul said of the Christians of his day that nature taught them that long hair on a man was shameful (1 Cor. 11). Well, nature, or “God’s design,” indicates that hair grows and doesn’t stay short “naturally.” What Paul was saying is that it was against their custom for men to have long hair, as opposed to the pagans’ custom.

    In summary, all the Leviticus acts that are prohibited may be “against nature” (i.e. against custom), but not all the acts are inherently immoral.

    //Has God changed his feelings just because we are now free from the code of the law?//

    As I said, we are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law. That doesn’t mean we get to sin. We don’t rely on the Mosaic Law to guide our actions; we rely on the Law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2) to guide our actions.

    The word is not “perversion” in Lev. 20:13. The word is “tow ebah” (abominable/abomination) and all of the acts are said to be “tow ebah” (Lev. 18:29), not just same-sex acts.

    So, back to valid your point. The prohibition /is/ reiterated in the NT. Although the Law is not binding on us and we don’t use Leviticus prohibitions to guide us, practicing “arsenokoites” /is/ prohibited in the NT. It is reasonable to assume Paul created this word out of the words in the LXX, but that doesn’t mean we get to jump to the conclusion that this means Paul is prohibiting same-sex acts in every situation just because there’s nothing in the context of Leviticus that says otherwise. Paul /gave/ us a context when he wrote Romans 1. If anything, Paul sheds some light as to /why/ these acts were prohibited in Leviticus. These sinful sexual acts were practiced (i.e. customs of) among the pagans (Rom. 1:23) as a result of excessive lust and desire (Rom. 1:27). I’m not saying the acts are okay without excessive lust; I’m saying the sinful acts of which Leviticus and Paul speak don’t occur outside of excessive lust. Just as sinful stealing doesn’t occur outside of greed and sinful murder doesn’t occur outside of hate and sinful lying doesn’t occur outside of malicious intent or selfish gain. The sinful activities Paul prohibits are sinful because of intent of the heart. Stealing can occur outside of greed when it’s to feed your starving child some bread, and many would not call that sinful. Murder can occur outside of hate. It’s called killing in self-defense or in protection of the innocent, and most would not call that sinful. Lying can occur outside of malicious intent (i.e. during Holocaust), and the majority would not call that sinful. Most sexual sin is a result of excessive lust. Same-sex acts can occur outside of excessive lust such as when it takes place within loving, covenantal union. Obviously, none of this means that if the act is not motivated by lustful or malicious intentions, then the act is okay. Clearly, it is wrong to cause harm to an innocent person whether or not one’s intentions are “good.”

    Other than the context of Romans 1, we see the word “arsenokoites” listed among other vices that emerge from excessive lust/desires/wants (not only all the sexual sins but thievery, greed, drunkenness, swindling, slave-trading, jealousy, envy). Paul says that sexual immorality (as well as lustful living, passions & greed) amounts to idolatry (Col. 3:5). This aligns with Romans 1. Lustful same-sex acts = idolatry. Also, all the sexual sins harm others and/or relationship with others. Certainly, men having random sex with other men is harmful. These harmful acts were practiced (i.e. customs of) among the pagans (Lev. 18:30; Rom. 1:23) as a result of excessive lust (Rom. 1:27), which harmonizes with the excessive disposition often leading to the other vices listed by Paul.

    • Sun

      Sheep and goats don’t eat people? What? Where did this come from? You said that bestiality is wrong because it harms animals. I was just making a point that with this logic, then eating animal meat must be called into question. Wouldn’t that be more harmful to the cow than having sex with it.
      The apparent harm and consequences of an activity is not how we determine whether or not something is morally wrong. This is very post-moderny.

      I’ve evaded nothing in my posts. It’s just that your logic evades me…..and I’m super busy with life. It’s time for me to move on from this discussion.

      I can’t respond any more because I’m headed to the mountains to do some camping with the family.

      Enjoy

      • Julie

        //Sheep and goats don’t eat people? What? Where did this come from? You said that bestiality is wrong because it harms animals. I was just making a point that with this logic, then eating animal meat must be called into question.//

        Oh my goodness! I’m literally laughing out loud! I totally misread your comment. I thought you were basically saying that any guy that ties to get frisky with an animal should worry about being eaten. LOL! Oh, man, that is too funny!

        Okay, let me compose myself here… Well, yes, you have a point—we shouldn’t be eating animals. That’s kind of harmful, eh?

        //The apparent harm and consequences of an activity is not how we determine whether or not something is morally wrong.//

        Well, I certainly think it’s appropriate to take that into consideration.

        //I’ve evaded nothing in my posts. It’s just that your logic evades me…//

        Never mind. The specific point I was making wasn’t originally for /you/ but for Preston. And it’s not like it was going to make any significant difference in answering this question anyway.

        //I can’t respond any more because I’m headed to the mountains to do some camping with the family.//

        Nice. Have a lovely time.

        Peace.

  • Sun

    Can you read my comment again? I think you are missing the point. I’m definitely missing your over-all point (sorry, I’m not too bright).

    It seems like you are advocating that no prohibitions in the Old Testament are binding today. If this is not what you’re saying, then how do you personally determine which one’s are still binding?

    If you want to throw out context, principles and other pointers, then okay. However, wouldn’t you agree that one way we can be certain a prohibition is binding today, is if it has a negative view in the NT?

    Are poly-cotton blends a no no in the NT? Where?

    Peace

    • Julie

      Wearing poly-cotton blends is not okay in the OT. Nothing is said in the NT. But we wear poly-cotton blends. Why? Why do we ignore the OT? Because the Mosaic Law is not binding on Christians. None of it. Christians are dead to the Law of Moses and alive to the Law of Christ.

      Bestiality is not okay in the OT. Nothing is said in the NT. But we don’t engage in bestiality. Why? Why do we obey the OT? We aren’t. We don’t engage in bestiality, because harming another creature is clearly wrong.

      Your argument is that if it’s reiterated in the NT, then it’s prohibited. Well, clearly if something is prohibited in the NT it’s prohibited whether not it’s also prohibited in the OT.

      Homosexuality in context of marriage is /not/ mentioned in the NT. Homosexuality in the context of excess lust is mentioned in the NT. If anything, Paul brings some light to the subject as to /why/ it was prohibited in the OT.

      • Sun

        Your argument about bestiality is that it must be wrong because it’s harmful to animals? That’s it? Isn’t it worse for the animal to be eaten by people? (Sorry)

        This kind of approach get’s into some very subjective territory.

        I would be more inclined to say that bestiality is against God’s design in nature. (Similar in my view of gay sex) Maybe this is why both prohibitions inhabit the same geography in Leviticus.

        Both prohibitions also have negative descriptions attached to them in Leviticus (like detestable and perversion; NIV). Has God changed his feelings just because we are now free from the code of the law?

  • Phyte_On

    I remember 40 years ago that the idea of homosexuality as virtuous was very foreign idea.

    I remember 50 years ago when divorce was shameful.

    I remember when a teen got pregnant it was shameful.

    I remember the day when killing fetuses was shameful.

    I remember when blended families were rare. Today they are the norm.

    I remember when Obama evolved on the definition of marriage.

    Evolution. Social entropy. As long as love is consensual among adults then any structure, arrangement is OK

    • Julie

      I remember a time when women were considered property and
      slavery was sanctioned. Doesn’t sound like social entropy to me.

      Many were accepting of divorce in Jesus’ day, too. That’s why the Jewish leaders questioned him about it. Many approved of the “any matter” divorce.

      • Phyte_On

        I agree there are examples of progress. Not sure we are seeing progress in our culture as to the boundaries of sexuality, the unborn, child well being (eg. the extent of psych medication for children), marital fidelity (everything from co-habitation to open promiscuity to porn addiction), and family structure (fatherhood is practically rendered irrelevant today).

        I think we have data that supports the social entropy that I describe.

        All one has to do is watch entertainment and pop-culture today vs. 50 years ago. Or talk to a school teacher today vs. 50 years ago. Social entropy is observable and palpable.

    • Michael Snow

      So much sin is excused in the name of ‘love’

      • Julie

        Which Christians believe it’s not a sin to divorce for reasons outside of biblical reasons?

        Which Christians believe it’s not a sin for a teen to get pregnant?

        Which Christians believe it’s not a sin to kill unborn babies? I realize some believe in “pro-choice” but that doesn’t mean they believe it’s okay to kill unborn babies.

        And since when is it a sin to have a blended family?

        Nothing is being excused in the name of love.

  • Phyte_On

    However, the NT is not silent on homosexuality.

    • Julie

      It’s silent is on homosexual marriage, though. We don’t know what Paul thinks of same-sex acts in the context of marriage. We only know what Paul thinks of same-sex acts in the context of excess lust. In Romans 1, Paul describes the lust of the men as burning–these guys are “on fire” for one another and /that/ is what is motivating their urge to act against nature. In the two vice lists, Paul places the activity among many other activities that emerge from excess desire/wants, and all the activities in the lists are harmful to others. Acting against nature is not always sinful (Rom. 11:24). Sometimes, it’s shameful to act against nature (1 Cor. 11:14), and when it’s excess lust that drives one to act against nature, it’s sinful. What makes an act a sin is the intent of the heart and/or the harm that results from the actions.

      • Phyte_On

        Thanks for the clarity. Obviously, this is a matter of opinion among those who teach the Bible. Appreciate your response, helpful to my understanding.

      • Josh Manriquez

        I wholeheartedly agree that Paul writes about homosexuality within the context of excess lust. But this truth—along with all the evidence and lines of reasoning that Preston has already mentioned—leads me to conclude that Paul believes homosexuality *does not exist* outside of the context of excess lust; when homosexuality is present, excess lust is present. Therefore, I believe we do know what he thinks of homosexuality within the context of marriage: he thinks it is a sin.

        If Paul permitted homosexual marriage, I fail to understand why he wouldn’t have made that qualification. For example, in 1 Cor. 6 Paul does not say “…neither men who practice homosexuality *outside of marriage*…” And in 1 Tim. 1 Paul does not say “the law is for those homosexuals—and only those homosexuals—who act according to excess lust.” No. Those who don’t enter into the kingdom of God, he says, are men who practice homosexuality *period*, and the law is for men who practice homosexuality *period*.

        Thus, Paul is able to say that some of the Corinthians *were* men who practiced homosexuality. He’s not saying that they were men who practiced homosexuality *outside of marriage* and now they practice homosexuality *within marriage*. No. He’s simply saying that they were men who put a complete stop to their homosexual practices.

        Is this an argument from silence? Well, I believe it is more reasonable to argue *this* than to argue the *other* argument from silence, namely, that gay marriage is ok because Paul doesn’t explicitly say anything about it. Yes, Paul does not explicitly say anything about homosexuality within the context of marriage, but he *does* condemn homosexuality *period*.

        Well, one may ask, what about all those men and women who are lovingly committed to someone of their same sex? Do they not exist outside the context of excess lust? My answer: Truth has been suppressed. Human thinking has become futile. The human heart has been darkened. Humans have become fools. Humans have been given up by God to a debased mind. So they may think that excess lust is absent from their hearts, but it is there. They, just as I was at one time, are blinded.

        • Julie

          //…Paul believes homosexuality *does not exist* outside of
          the context of excess lust; when homosexuality is present, excess lust is present.//

          Gee, I guess I never responded to this. I’m probably missing posts—I don’t get alerts to new posts in my email like I do for other things. Not sure why.

          I agree that Paul is saying that these sinful acts don’t occur outside of excessive lust. But I don’t perceive him as saying that all homosexual acts emerge from excessive lust (although he may have mistakenly believed that) rather homosexual acts emerging from excessive lust are sinful. Just as sinful stealing doesn’t occur outside of greed and sinful murder doesn’t occur outside of hate and sinful lying doesn’t occur outside of malicious intent or selfish gain. The sinful activities Paul prohibits are sinful because of intent of the heart. Stealing can occur outside of greed when it’s to feed your starving child some bread, and many would not call that sinful. Murder can occur outside of hate. It’s called killing in self-defense or in protection of the innocent, and most would not call that sinful. Lying can occur outside of malicious intent (i.e. during Holocaust), and the majority would not call that sinful. Most sexual sin is a result of excessive lust. Same-sex acts can occur outside of excessive lust such as when it takes place within loving, covenantal union. Obviously, none of this means that if the act is not motivated by lustful or malicious intentions, then the act is okay. Clearly, it is wrong to cause harm to an innocent person whether or not one’s intentions are “good.”

          //If Paul permitted homosexual marriage, I fail to understand why he wouldn’t have made that qualification.//

          Why qualify something inherently understood? I’m not saying it was inherently understood that homosexual marriage was permitted. I’m saying that it was inherently understood that actions are sinful based on intent of the heart.

          //…that gay marriage is ok because Paul doesn’t explicitly say anything about it.//

          Gay marriage isn’t okay /because/ Paul doesn’t say anything
          about it, but it seems relevant to note that Paul doesn’t say anything about gay marriage.

          //…So they may think that excess lust is absent from their
          hearts, but it is there. They, just as I was at one time, are blinded./

          Well, good luck with telling that to the many, many “Ford1968s”
          out there (assuming you know his story). Many are born again Christians filled with the Spirit and THEN much later they realize they’re gay. How is it that one born of God can suppress the truth (that verse speaks of those who’ve /rejected/ God), can go from being filled with the light of Christ to suddenly darkened, and can, after being in the hand of God and called his child, be “given up by God to a debased mind”? Your “answer” that you’ve given is about unbelievers who’ve rejected God and you’re applying it to blood bought, born again, spirit-filled Christians. Sigh…anyway, I prefer allowing God to make those kinds of calls.

          • Josh Manriquez

            I like your use of forward-slashes to identify emphasis as well as my quotes; I’m gonna use that in this comment. 🙂

            There really is much more I would like to respond to, but this post is already long as it is, so I’ve refrained from commenting on other things that I really would like to comment on. I’m just enjoying this discussion very much that I want to continue it. I believe it’s been edifying. As always, I appreciate your thoughts. They cause me to think more.

            // Your “answer” that you’ve given is about unbelievers who’ve rejected God and you’re applying it to blood bought, born again, spirit-filled Christians …. Sigh…anyway, I prefer allowing God to make those kinds of calls. //

            I recognize that my answer is offensive. That wasn’t my /intent/. It’s so easy to become detached from the emotions of /real people/ when communicating online, which makes it easy to say insensitive things (plus, I can be more of a Spock than a McCoy). I hope anyone offended would accept my sincere request for forgiveness. I recant my answer as I consider the question more (although I do still believe that homosexual desires always stem from excess lust, even if not consciously “intended”).

            The answer I provided stems from a much deeper question that I’ve wrestled with. The thing is, I have a hard time understanding how the /Holy/ Spirit—who is grieved by our sin—could reside within one who
            unrepentantly practices and approves of sin (cf. Rom. 1:32). So when one practices homosexuality, which I obviously believe is a sin, then I /question/ that one’s salvation. I definitely would never claim with certainty that such a one is /not/ saved! I only /question/ it.

            Similarly, How do we know who are blood-bought, born-again, spirit-filled Christians? Good fruit? A profession of faith? Good deeds? Sheep’s clothing? Crying out “Lord, Lord!”? What about fruit worthy of repentance? I get that we’re all sinners. There’s no doubt in my mind that I sin everyday. But I grieve over my sin and seek to mortify the deeds of the flesh by the power of the Spirit. So when someone claims to be a spirit-filled Christian yet lives in and approves of unrepentant sin, then I /question/ the validity of their salvation, just as I would expect one to question my own if I were living in unrepentant sin.

            // Gay marriage isn’t okay /because/ Paul doesn’t say anything about it, but it seems relevant to note that Paul doesn’t say anything about gay marriage. //

            Thank you for that clarification. That is definitely a relevant note. I agree.

            But if I may use your own terminology, I would say that—imo—it seems more relevant to note that whenever Paul /does/ speak about marriage, it is always between a wife and a husband. He does not use the gender-neutral term
            ανθρωπος (anthropos) when speaking of marriage. Actually, in Romans 7:1 Paul /does/ use the gender-neutral ανθρωπος when speaking of a /person/ (whether male or female) who is bound to the law in life only. Having begun with this gender-neutral noun, it seems
            relevant to note that in the very next verse Paul uses gender-/specific/ terms in his example of marriage. If Paul—a chosen instrument of Jesus (Acts 9:15)—had permitted gay marriage or if he had considered it a valid “alternative” to heterosexual marriage, I imagine that he would have used gender-neutral
            terminology when speaking of marriage, especially after using gender-neutral terminology verse 1.

            I think the same is true for 1 Corinthians 7: he uses gender-/specific/ terminology. But there’s something more significant in this passage. Paul’s counsel—as a
            chosen instrument of Jesus—regarding sexual immorality (πορνεία/porneia) is /very specific/. In
            fact, it seems relevant to note that Paul offers two—/not just one/—options regarding sexual immorality: 1) Each man must have his own wife, and 2) each woman
            must have her own husband. In my finite mind, I think either option 1 or option 2 would have been sufficient. Paul, however, as led by the Spirit, included /both/ options. Why? I can’t say for sure, but it seems that Paul wanted his counsel to be clear and complete (I think there’s a hermeneutical term for this). I imagine that he could have included the following two additional options: 3) If you’re so inclined, a man may have his own husband, and 4) a woman may have her own wife, because, after all, not everyone has the gift of
            celibacy. Instead, however, he offers only two options. It seems to me, then, that Paul regarded marriage to be between a man and a woman. There are no alternatives.

          • Julie

            //…so I’ve refrained from commenting on other things that I
            really would like to comment on.//

            I’m open to hearing more of your comments. 🙂

            //I’m just enjoying this discussion very much that I want to
            continue it. I believe it’s been edifying. //

            Well, that’s refreshing to know. I’m delighted it’s been a fruitful
            conversation for you. It has been for me as well.

            //I hope anyone offended would accept my sincere request for
            forgiveness.//

            You are readily forgiven by me. (hug!)

            //The thing is, I have a hard time understanding how the /Holy/ Spirit—who is grieved by our sin—could reside within one who unrepentantly practices and approves of sin (cf. Rom. 1:32).//

            Even if your interpretation is right and theirs is wrong, do you honestly think that Ford1968 or Matthew Vines (well, he’s not married yet), who are both Christians and there is no reason to believe otherwise, are “consciously” unrepentantly practicing and “consciously” approving of sin? Do you honestly believe their hearts have malicious intent to do harm? These are guys who have painstakingly worked through Scripture, among other things, to come to their current conclusions. They didn’t flippantly come to their conclusions and they know what’s at stake, so I feel the least one should do is respect that, step back, and trust that the Spirit who brought life to their souls is capable of taking them through the journey He has them on. That doesn’t mean disengage from fruitful conversation but simply take a breath and find freedom in knowing that Life doesn’t depend on you, your arguments, and your discernment.

            //So when one practices homosexuality, which I obviously
            believe is a sin, then I /question/ that one’s salvation. I definitely would never claim with certainty that such a one is /not/ saved! I only /question/ it.
            Similarly, How do we know who are blood-bought, born-again,
            spirit-filled Christians?//

            Why is that your concern? Maybe you should work toward liberating yourself from the bondage of discerning others’ salvation and simply demonstrate Christ through words and
            deed and trust Him alone with their souls.

            //whenever Paul /does/ speak about marriage, it is always between a wife and a husband.//

            Well, sure. Why wouldn’t he? That was the norm.

            //I think the same is true for 1 Corinthians 7: he uses gender-/specific/ terminology…//

            Paul writes that it is /because/ of immoralities that each
            must have his own “such and such.” This is in line with his comment that if one lacks [sexual] self-control, let them
            marry (1 Cor. 7:9). Just how does this apply to you (considering that you are attracted exclusively to men)? Paul is telling YOU to marry so that you don’t “burn with passion.” Just how are you to do that? Marry a woman for whom you have no sexual desire? And, yet, it may be you have not been given the gift of celibacy either. Then what?

          • Josh Manriquez

            As always, I appreciate very much your insight Julie. They’re helping me to refine my own understanding of this topic. For this I am grateful.

            Might I briefly say that as a man who has SSA, I would be pleased to be convinced that gay marriage is approved by God. My /desires/ would love that very much. Yet when confronted with Scripture, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that gay marriage is absolutely prohibited.

            //Even if your interpretation is right and theirs is wrong, do you honestly think that Ford1968 or Matthew Vines (well, he’s not married yet), who are both Christians and there is no reason to believe otherwise, are “consciously” unrepentantly practicing and “consciously” approving of sin? Do you honestly believe their hearts have malicious intent to do harm?//

            They may in fact /not/ be consciously unrepentant. They may in fact be sincerely believing that they’re living obediently to God. I in fact do not believe their hearts have malicious intent to do harm. It does not follow from these facts, however, that they’re /not/ sinning against God. It is possible to sin unintentionally. The Law speaks of /unintentional/ sins that render the ignorant offender guilty, requiring atoning sacrifice (cf. Lev. 4; Num. 15:22). The fact that these unintentional sins required /atoning sacrifice/ shows just has serious it is to sin unintentionally. True, such sins are not “as bad” as defiant rebellion; they nevertheless render one guilty and in need of atonement. I believe it is equally true at the present hour for people to sin unintentionally.

            //…take a breath and find freedom in knowing that Life doesn’t depend on you, your arguments, and your discernment…. Maybe you should work toward liberating yourself from the bondage of discerning others’ salvation and simply demonstrate Christ through words and deed and trust Him alone with their souls.//

            Oh I am definitely free from the mistaken notion that Life depends on me, my arguments, and my discernment. The Holy Spirit gives life; He calls me (and others) to simply proclaim and live the Word of Life.

            Hebrews 13:7 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

            I do trust Christ alone with the souls of His people. This does not negate the fact that as a leader within my local church—as Hebrews 13:7 indicates—Christ has given me (and Christian leaders everywhere) the responsibility to keep watch over the souls of those whom I lead. Thankfully, I /do/ get to do this with joy and not with groaning. Keeping watch over the souls of others is not a bondage from which to be liberated. It is definitely a huge responsibility, hence the clause “…as those who will have to give an account.”

            Granted, I don’t lead all the Fords1968s and Vineses in this world, and so I’m sure I’m not going to be required to give an account of how I kept watch over their souls. Nevertheless, the prophets of the Old Testament called upon people to repent from their sin. John the Baptist called upon people to repent from their sin. Jesus called upon people to repent from the sin. So when I see people who claim to be Christians living in sin, my desire is to call them to repent. Consider also 1 Cor. 5; Galatians 6; et al. It is not a bondage to do so! It is a joy to call upon people to turn from that which displeases God.

            //Well, sure. Why wouldn’t he [always speak of marriage as between a husband and wife]? That was the norm.//

            It was indeed the norm: a norm that Paul believed—under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—to be the God-intended norm. His view of marriage was /heterosexual/. He never spoke of gay marriage because in his mind such a marriage was not an option for followers of Christ.

            //Paul writes that it is /because/ of immoralities that each must have his own “such and such.” This is in line with his comment that if one lacks [sexual] self-control, let them marry (1 Cor. 7:9). Just how does this apply to you (considering that you are attracted exclusively to men)? Paul is telling YOU to marry so that you don’t “burn with passion.” Just how are you to do that? Marry a woman for whom you have no sexual desire? And, yet, it may be you have not been given the gift of celibacy either. Then what?//

            If I (or any other man) lack self-control and burn with passion, I (and any other man) am to marry a woman, for this is what Paul—under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—commands men to do. The God who created the stars and who raises people from the dead can /easily/ empower a man with SSA to delightfully love a wife just as Christ loved/loves His Bride: the church.

            Since you’re open to hearing more of my comments, the following come from a previous post of yours.

            //Stealing can occur outside of greed when it’s to feed your starving child some bread, and many would not call that sinful. Murder can occur outside of hate. It’s called killing in self-defense or in protection of the innocent, and most would not call that sinful.//

            The solution to hunger, though, is not “ungreedy” stealing. The solution is for godly people to feed the hungry, because even so-called “ungreedy” stealing is wrong (cf. Pr. 6:30f; Pr. 30:9).

            Killing in self-defense and/or for “justice” was clearly advocated in the OT. Whether or not it is right according to the NT is still debated (cf. Preston’s book “Fight”). But it was commanded as the right thing to do in the OT. Homosexuality, on the other hand, has always been condemned in Scripture. Unlike your examples of stealing, killing, and lying, the Bible contains not one hint that homosexuality can ever be considered “acceptable” within certain contexts.

            // Why qualify something inherently understood? I’m not saying it was inherently understood that homosexual marriage was permitted. I’m saying that it was inherently understood that actions are sinful based on intent of the heart.//

            I’m not sure if it would have been inherently understood that actions are sinful based on intent of the heart. Paul was a Hebrew of Hebrews, educated under Gamaliel with accuracy (ἀκρίβεια) in the Law (cf. Phil. 3:5; Acts 22:3). Accordingly, as I mentioned above, Paul would have known that the Law speaks of /unintentional/ sins that render the ignorant offender guilty, requiring atoning sacrifice (cf. Lev. 4; Num. 15:22). I don’t believe, then, that Paul “inherently understood that actions are sinful based on intent of the heart.” On the contrary, I believe that Paul understood that actions can be sinful whether or not one intends it to be.

            Thank you for taking the time to read these thoughts of mine.

          • Julie

            //As always, I appreciate very much your insight Julie. They’re helping me to refine my own understanding of this topic. For this I am grateful.//

            My pleasure. It often helps me, too, to have discussion with others who have opposing views. I appreciate your pleasant approach with me.

            //Yet when confronted with Scripture, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that gay marriage is absolutely prohibited.//

            I wouldn’t dream of trying to persuade you otherwise and I hope that’s not what you perceive me to be doing. My intentions are to share where I’m currently at with this and find where my views are strong and where they’re weak. I’ve been wrong way too many times to assume I’m right about this. I understand that, considering this is very personal to you, you don’t have the same luxury of being wrong that I do. If I were in your position…I don’t know…I think I’d err on the side of caution and remain celibate. I tell you, though, knowing what I know now, it’s the relational aspect of marriage I’d miss the most rather than the sexual aspect of marriage. Of course, the sexual aspect is often the very thing that deepens the relational aspect, so…

            //…I in fact do not believe their hearts have malicious intent to do harm. It does not follow from these facts, however, that they’re /not/ sinning against God….//

            Okay. Thanks for the clarification.

            What do you make of Hebrews 9:7ff? Wouldn’t those who put their faith in Christ but unintentionally sin against God have atonement for their unintentional sins? In other words, won’t they, too, be raised along with the rest of the righteous based on Christ’s sufficient sacrifice?

            //Oh I am definitely free from the mistaken notion that Life depends on me,…//

            Again, thanks for the clarification. It had appeared you were, perhaps, struggling with this.

            //…Keeping watch over the souls of others is not a bondage
            from which to be liberated. It is definitely a huge responsibility, hence the clause “…as those who will have to give an account.”//

            I understand, but with the added pressure (“must give an account”), it wouldn’t surprise me that one might feel a burden leading to the false need to discern another’s position in Christ. I don’t know how such discernment could possibly add to one’s ability to keep watch over souls by leading them through correct teaching and exhortation.

            //…So when I see people who claim to be Christians living in sin, my desire is to call them to repent…//

            Absolutely. I didn’t mean to suggest you should do otherwise. My suggestion was related to what appeared to be a burden on you that led you to feel obligated to question another’s salvation. We can still call others to repent while not questioning (or worry over) their position in Christ.

            /It was indeed the norm: a norm that Paul believed—under the
            inspiration of the Holy Spirit—to be the God-intended norm….//

            God-intended norm? Paul also thought short hair on men was the norm (or according to nature) and based this view on the Genesis account. Does that mean it was a God-intended norm? I don’t think so. I think it was a cultural norm.

            //…He never spoke of gay marriage because in his mind such a marriage was not an option for followers of Christ.//

            I don’t see it that way. It’s not that he didn’t see it as an option (that he knew about it and intentionally excluded it as an option); it’s that it simply wasn’t relevant at the time (iow, it wasn’t even on his radar at all because it wasn’t necessary to be on his radar).

            //If I (or any other man) lack self-control and burn with passion, I (and any other man) am to marry a woman, for this is what Paul—under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—commands men to do.//

            And many Christian gay men have married women.

            //The God who created the stars and who raises people from the dead can /easily/ …//

            If it’s so darn “easy” then why doesn’t God simply do that for all the gays who were willing to kill themselves over this?

            //…empower a man with SSA to delightfully love a wife just as Christ loved/loves His Bride: the church.//

            And many Christian gay men have been able to love their wives. And many of those marriages resulted in children. And many of those marriages ended up in divorce with the gay spouse admitting they were never really changed within. Behavior changed but not the orientation. And guess what this has led to? 1) Children as the victims. 2) More judgment by the extreme right saying, “See, God can change orientation, but they just wanted self over God.” 3) More judgment by the extreme right saying, “Look at the studies that show children of gays are worse off than children of straights. Clearly, gays don’t know how to parent.” Well, sure, it looks this way because children of gays are from broken homes. Why? Because we have forced them to get married to the opposite sex when they were never meant to be married to the opposite sex. Sexual orientation doesn’t change. Those who appeared to change are bisexual and their sexuality is more flexible. We need to stop telling gay people to get married to “control their lust for the same-sex” when that just brings children into the mix who will end up in dysfunctional situations, and then when this happens, we’ll just blame it on the gays. Unbelievable.

            //The solution to hunger, though, is not “ungreedy” stealing.//

            Yes, clearly.

            //The solution is for godly people to feed the hungry,…//

            And when that doesn’t happen and someone does steal, many
            would not call that “sinful.” My point was to show that things labeled “sinful” can occur outside of that which qualifies that thing as sinful.

            //because even so-called “ungreedy” stealing is wrong (cf. Pr. 6:30f;…//

            And exactly how is he to “repay sevenfold” and “give all the substance of his house” if he doesn’t have “pay” or any such “substance of house”? This proverb speaks of some guy who wants to “satisfy his own hunger”; it’s not a guy who seeks to feed his starving child near death. And perhaps the proverb speaks of guy not willing to work for his food.

            //…Unlike your examples of stealing, killing, and lying, the Bible contains not one hint that homosexuality can ever be considered “acceptable” within certain contexts.//

            That’s true. Again, my point was to simply point out that even though a prohibition may be written, it doesn’t mean that it’s absolute in that the action is a sin in any and all cases. All of the vices are prohibited because they cause harm (as far as I can tell), and most times the harm in question is caused by an action motivated out of malicious or lustful intentions.

            //I don’t believe, then, that Paul “inherently understood that actions are sinful based on intent of the heart.” On the contrary, I believe that Paul understood that actions can be sinful whether or not one intends it to be.//

            I don’t think Paul believed any of the vices in his lists were unintentional sins, though. He thought them quite intentionally practiced.

            //Thank you for taking the time to read these thoughts of mine.//

            Sure! 🙂

            Peace.

          • Josh Manriquez

            //I tell you, though, knowing what I know now, it’s the relational aspect of marriage I’d miss the most rather than the sexual aspect of marriage. Of course, the sexual aspect is often the very thing that deepens the relational aspect, so…//

            I have more to say on this down below. 🙂

            //What do you make of Hebrews 9:7ff? Wouldn’t those who put their faith in Christ but unintentionally sin against God have atonement for their unintentional sins? In other words, won’t they, too, be raised along with the rest of the righteous based on Christ’s sufficient sacrifice?//

            This has definitely made me think. Thanks! I definitely agree that Christ has atoned even for our unintentional sins. I am definitely humbled and amazed at such amazing grace of our Lord! Yet I see in Titus 2:11ff that grace trains/instructs/disciplines us to deny worldly desires, and to live
            self-controlled, godly lives. I also see in those same OT passages that the
            people eventually /realized/ their unintentional sins. So, I’m inclined to believe that the Holy Spirit leads His people to repent of their unintentional sins.

            //…with the added pressure (“must give an account”), it wouldn’t surprise me that one might feel a burden leading to the false need to discern another’s position in Christ…//

            I agree. I didn’t mean to communicate that I /need/ to discern another’s salvation. I do, however, want to do my best—as empowered by the Spirit—to /ensure/ the salvation of others (cf. 1 Tim. 4:16–NASB).

            //I didn’t mean to suggest you should do otherwise. My suggestion was related to what appeared to be a burden on you that led you to feel obligated to question another’s salvation. We can still call others to
            repent while not questioning (or worry over) their position in Christ.//

            I think 2 Corinthians 12:21 corresponds perfectly to how I feel when confront with unrepentance. Paul speaks of /mourning/ over those who have not repented of their sin. Whether a professing Christian refuses to repent from their lying or from their porn addiction or from any other sin, I mourn over it, because I desire to see them growing in holiness and sanctification. So it’s not that I feel obligated to question another’s salvation; it’s just that when I see fruit of habitual unrepentance in one’s life, I just “end up” questioning whether or not the tree is good.

            //Paul also thought short hair on men was the norm (or according to nature) and based this view on the Genesis account. Does that mean it was a God-intended norm? I don’t think so. I think it was a cultural norm.//

            I definitely have much more thinking, praying, and reading to do on this passage. It may indeed be true that Paul is speaking of a cultural norm in 1 Cor. 11. But why demand that interpretation back onto Romans
            1? Does Paul really ground his understanding of men’s hair length on the Genesis account, or does he /only/ ground his understanding of a woman being the glory of a man on the Gen account? Verse 10 suggests to me that Paul brings up the Genesis account specifically with regards to a woman being the glory of a man.

            //If it’s so darn “easy” then why doesn’t God simply do that for all the gays who were willing to kill themselves over this?//

            Right. I feel much empathy for those who have despaired unto death. Yet it was also very easy for God to visit all the widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, but he sent Elijah only to one of them. Moreover, it was equally easy for God to cleanse all the lepers in Elisha’s time, yet /not one of them was cleansed/ except Naaman (Lk. 4:25-27). I sure would have liked to have been visited by a prophet of the Lord if I were a widow, and I sure would have liked to have been cleansed by the Lord if I were a leper. The fact that the Lord didn’t do these things for them does not mean it’s not easy. He has His wise purposes in all things.

            //And many Christian gay men have been able to love their wives … And many of those marriages ended up in divorce with the gay spouse admitting they were never really changed within. Behavior changed but not the orientation … Sexual orientation doesn’t change. Those who appeared to change are bisexual and their sexuality is more flexible…//

            Again, I have much empathy with those who struggle with SSA within a heterosexual relationship. I’ve been there! I understand the difficulty. I /get/ that sexual attraction is a beautiful thing (the Song of Songs/Solomon is a great example of that). Nevertheless, these things don’t deny the truth that God /can/ and /does/ empower gays to love their wives like Christ loves His bride. Christ came from heaven and sought His bride. I imagine His bride
            was not very attractive to Him. She was a filthy, wretched, sinful mess! Can anything unholy be attractive to the One to whom the heavenly hosts cry “holy, holy, holy”? Yet Christ came, sought her, and loved her by giving His life for her to make her holy. Since marriage is a reflection of this, why should I listen to the world who expects me to pursue a beautiful wife who will satisfy my desires? Christ came to serve, not to be served. Beauty is vain, but a woman
            who fears the Lord is to be praised. I think it is very Christ-like when a man /chooses/—according to his own good pleasure—to set his love upon a woman who he’s not attracted to. Love isn’t about attraction. If the woman is so insecure as to be appalled at that, I think she needs her mind renewed with Scripture like Pr 31:30.

            //even though a prohibition may be written, it doesn’t mean that it’s absolute in that the action is a sin in any and all cases. All of the vices are prohibited because they cause harm (as far as I can tell), and most times the harm in question is caused by an action motivated out of malicious or
            lustful intentions.//

            And ultimately I would argue that any and all gay relations are harmful in that they prohibit one from entering into the kingdom of God.

          • Julie

            //…So, I’m inclined to believe that the Holy Spirit leads His people to repent of their unintentional sins.//

            Right. Which is why I’m even more convinced that Christian gay married couples aren’t in sin. Otherwise, the Spirit would lead them to repent rather than lead them to have exceedingly fruitful lives in their churches and communities.

            //Whether a professing Christian refuses to repent from their lying or from their porn addiction or from any other sin, I mourn over it, because I desire to see them growing in holiness and sanctification.//

            Right. And lying, porn, adultery, etc. leads to observable and definitive destructive results in the lives of people who practice such things.

            //But why demand that interpretation back onto Romans 1?//

            Because he used the same interpretation in Romans 11:24. Against nature meant unconventional or against the ordinary realm of experience rather than against a God-intended norm.

            //Right. I feel much empathy for those who have despaired unto death. Yet it was also very easy for God to visit all the widows in Israel in Elijah’s time,…//

            Wait a minute here. I reminded you that Paul said that a man who lacks sexual self-control should marry. Many gay men have heeded Paul’s advice yet God did NOT change their sexual orientation and it resulted in children and divorce. And then you tell me that men should not expect to be changed just because they obey “God’s command” to marry if he lacks sexual self-control. Sounds very inconsistent to me. It’s exactly these arbitrary assurances that get people into trouble. I urge you to rethink some of this, in particular.

            //I imagine His bride was not very attractive to Him. She was a filthy, wretched, sinful mess!//

            It’s not about beauty or attraction. I can be attracted to women (even give my life for them), but that doesn’t mean I want to have sexual intimacy with any of them. Jesus doesn’t have sexual intimacy with his bride. It’s beyond such things, so I think your comparison is defective. Being a straight woman, there is no way I could have sexual intimacy with the most attractive woman and feel the same way I do with a man. There is no way. Sure, I could fake it for God (ever hear of “fake it until you make it”)—if it’s between that and killing myself, sure, I’d give it a go. And I bet the most dedicated to God would give it go until they, at least, had a couple children.

            //And ultimately I would argue that any and all gay relations are harmful in that they prohibit one from entering into the kingdom
            of God.//

            Truth, words of life, should be anything but harmful.

            The following is something I wrote in response to listening to a video today. Some of the words are from the pastor in the video.

            The homosexual behavior that took place and was condemned in ancient times was not what it is today. The homosexual behavior in ancient times was filled with violence and abuse and rape and humiliation and oppression and slavery and temple prostitution; and THAT is the homosexuality that was condemned by the writers of Scripture.

            But even if you have no knowledge of the historical context in which Scripture was written, is truth reserved only for those who are debating scholarly research and all of us have to align ourselves by faith in one scholar over another? Did God intend for His truth to be revealed to the learned or also to the simple?

            We’re wired to recognize hatred and injustice. We don’t have to have all that scholarly knowledge in order to recognize fruit. Do you want to know how to respond to issue of homosexuality? Look at the fruit.

            Truth offers words of life. Truth bears good fruit. In speaking to those struggling with sin, Danny (the pastor) would offer truth and tell the one involved in adultery, pornography, or drugs their need to remove themselves from such a lifestyle. This truth would resonate with them as the Spirit affirmed within their being that heeding such words would bring them liberty from such bondage. But when the pastor offered the same advice to gays, it would not resonate in the same way, and the Spirit did not affirm within their being that heeding such words would bring them liberty but, instead, enslave them to a lifetime without the possibility of intimate love. The pastor began to recognize that of all the commandments that imparted life, this one was different in that it seemed to impart a feeling of dread and fear and anxiety.

            Matthew Vines says: “Good teachings, even when they are very difficult, are not destructive to human dignity. They don’t lead to emotional and spiritual devastation, and to the loss of self- esteem and self-worth. But those have been the consequences for gay people of the traditional teaching on homosexuality. It has not borne good fruit in their lives, and it’s caused them incalculable pain and suffering. If we’re taking Jesus seriously that bad fruit cannot come from a good tree, then that should cause us to question whether the traditional teaching is correct.”

          • Josh Manriquez

            // I’m even more convinced that Christian gay married couples aren’t in sin. Otherwise, the Spirit would lead them to repent rather than lead them to have exceedingly fruitful lives in their churches and communities.//

            The other alternative is that they don’t have the Spirit. But no matter how fruitful someone is, if they’re living in unrepentant sin, I’m gonna question whether or not the Spirit is truly in their lives. Please know that I don’t say this carelessly.

            //Because he used the same interpretation in Romans 11:24. Against nature meant unconventional or against the ordinary realm of experience rather than against a God-intended norm.//

            It’s truly important to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. But I’m not 100% confident that Romans 11:24 is referring to that which is unconventional or against the ordinary realm of experience. I do understand the argument in its favor; it’s definitely reasonable. Indeed, there’s at least one person I know of whom I respect and trust who hold to this belief. Nevertheless, that alone still does not demand Romans 1’s “against nature” to mean the same.

            I say I’m not confident in this understanding of Romans 11 because it is also linguistically and contextually possible for “against nature” in Romans 11:24 to be referring to the act of taking a branch from where it naturally belongs and grafting it on to where it naturally does not belong. Paul has already identified the Jews as /natural/ branches (v.21), and he has already identified the Gentile’s olive tree as being /naturally/ wild. With Paul’s emphasis on what is naturally cultivated and what is naturally wild, it seems reasonable that he would describe the grafting as /against nature/—because the Gentiles /naturally/ belong to their own tree from which they /naturally/ grew; they do not naturally belong to the cultivated tree.

            In our desire to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, it’s important to consider Paul’s other “nature” texts. I find it interesting that when Paul speaks of /humans/ (rather than horticulture), he does not speak of “nature” in reference to that which is or isn’t conventional, but in reference to a condition as determined by birth.
            For example, in Romans 2:27 he speaks of men who are by nature (“by birth”) uncircumcised; men are /naturally/ uncircumcised. In Galatians 2:15 he speaks of being Jews by nature—viz., they’re /born/ Jews—as opposed to being born Gentiles. In Ephesians 2:3 he speaks of being children of wrath by nature—we are /born/ into sin. Paul even speaks of false gods as being “by nature … not gods” (Gal.4:8).
            He’s not referring to convention or realm of experience: he’s saying that the physical “reality” or “essence” of these entities is /not/ divine. The only two exceptions are Romans 2:14 (which may actually be referring to that which is innate as opposed to convention) and 1 Cor. 11:14. How, then, do we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture with these other uses of “nature.” I would argue that these other “nature” passages add more weight to the traditional interpretation of Romans 1.

            //Μany gay men have heeded Paul’s advice yet God did NOT change their sexual orientation and it resulted in children and divorce. And then you tell me that men should not expect to be changed just because they obey “God’s command” to marry if he
            lacks sexual self-control. Sounds very inconsistent to me.//

            To clarify: I was not referring to God changing anyone’s sexual orientation. I didn’t even have that in mind. I understand that many gay men married, had children, and then divorced. But I’m honestly confused at what you’re second sentence is trying to say. I don’t understand it. The “just because” is throwing me off.

            //Jesus doesn’t have sexual intimacy with his bride. It’s beyond such things, so I think your comparison is defective.//

            Nevertheless, husbands are commanded to love their wives like Christ loved the church. Gay men /can/ love their wives like Christ loved the church. Gay men /can/ serve their wives and give up their lives for the wives just as Christ did for His bride. The Spirit of God makes this possible.

            //Truth, words of life, should be anything but harmful.//

            Is it really the words of the traditional understanding of marriage that are harmful? Or is it fallen, human flesh (read: “sinful passions”) that brings about harm (see below)?

            //Truth offers words of life. Truth bears good fruit. In speaking to those struggling with sin, Danny (the pastor) would offer truth and tell the one involved in adultery, pornography, or drugs their need to remove themselves from such a lifestyle. This truth would resonate with them as the Spirit affirmed within their being that heeding such words would bring them liberty from such bondage. But when the pastor offered the same advice to gays, it would not resonate in the same way, and the Spirit did not affirm within their being that heeding such words would bring them liberty but, instead, enslave them to a lifetime without the possibility of intimate love.//

            This seems like a fallacy of bifurcation. The other alternative that Danny misses is that the Holy Spirit /does/ affirm within the gays’ being that heeding such words would bring them liberty. This is precisely what the Holy Spirit affirms within me. The Holy Spirit affirms within my being that I need not fear enslavement to a
            lifetime without the possibility of intimate love: The Lord is my portion! The fellowship and intimacy I have with fellow Christians is wonderful! I can rejoice /at all times/ and give thanks /in all circumstances/ (1 Thess. 5:16ff), even in my circumstance of being a single SSA-male. And I’ll tell you what, I sure don’t “feel” like I have the gift of celibacy. But I live my life by faith in Jesus, not by my feelings. Therefore, I can/do rejoice and give thanks
            even amidst the struggle I have with SSA.

            //Matthew Vines says: “Good teachings, even when they are very difficult, are not destructive to human dignity. They don’t lead to emotional and spiritual devastation, and to the loss of self-esteem and self-worth. But those have been the consequences for gay people of the traditional teaching on homosexuality. It has not borne good fruit in their lives, and it’s caused them incalculable pain and suffering. If we’re taking Jesus seriously that bad fruit cannot come from a good tree, then that should cause us to question whether the traditional teaching is correct.”//

            Indeed, good teaching /cannot/ bear bad fruit. But sinful people /do/ bear bad fruit. I wonder (and I’m thinking out loud here), if Romans 7:5 &12-13 corresponds to this. (it’s clearly not a one-to-one correspondence, but it seems similar nonetheless). Paul says clearly that “the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (v. 12). But /sinful passion/ within a person bore bad fruit (v. 5). Finally in verse 13 he says clearly, “Did that which is good [the law/commandment], then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good…” Similarly, the traditional teaching on homosexuality /is/ good (because all God’s Word is good); yet our sinful passions respond negatively to that which is holy & good, thus producing bad fruit.

            It seems to me that people with low self-esteem and self-worth and spiritual devastation are too self-centered. If we’d set our minds on things above (cf. Col. 3:1ff) and
            fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1ff), then “self-esteem” and “self-worth” would be absolutely no concern for a Christian. There is no room for emotional and spiritual devastation in view of the fact that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, even as He chose us in Him
            before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before even in love having predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Him according to the good pleasure of His will to the praise of His glorious grace with which He has blessed us in the beloved (Eph. 1:4-6).” There’s no room for loss of self-esteem and self-worth in view of the fact that “we have been justified by faith … [and] we have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) and God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).

          • Julie

            //But no matter how fruitful someone is, if they’re living in unrepentant sin, I’m gonna question whether or not the Spirit is truly in their lives.//

            This Spirit is not in the lives of Christians who ignorantly sin? Who sets the timeline on when the Spirit leaves them because they keep ignorantly sinning?

            I can’t be sorry for something I don’t believe is sin. And just because you say something is a sin doesn’t make it a sin. And if I’m living out every part of my life in obedience to God for 20 years and I’m still not convicted by the Spirit of God that what you claim is a sin is a sin, who am I to believe?

            //…because it is also linguistically and contextually possible for “against nature” in Romans 11:24 to be referring to the act of
            taking a branch from where it naturally belongs and grafting it on to where it naturally does not belong…//

            Okay, but that just shows that something against a “God-intended norm” is not necessarily immoral.

            //For example, in Romans 2:27 he speaks of men who are by nature (“by birth”) uncircumcised; men are /naturally/ uncircumcised….I would argue that these other “nature” passages add more weight to the traditional interpretation of Romans 1.//

            That probably just means “physically,” but, again, this just
            shows that a “God-intended norm” can be broken without it being immoral.

            So, as we’ve seen with the unnatural acts of men wearing long hair and of grafting a wild branch into cultivated olive tree, unnatural acts are not necessarily immoral. Whether you want to say they’re out of the ordinary realm of experience or against God’s intended norm, they’re not immoral.

            Nevertheless, I do think the acts in Romans 1 are immoral
            but not because they’re against nature. As we’ve seen, just because something is against nature doesn’t mean it’s
            immoral. However, something immoral can be against nature. What define these acts as immoral are the excessively lustful desires that drive the acts. This excessive lust arose as they cast away that which was made evident within them, and acting out in excess lust was always considered against nature. Acting out in excess lust was always against God’s intended norm or God’s design or however you want to put it.

            //To clarify: I was not referring to God changing anyone’s
            sexual orientation.//

            So you advise men with same-sex orientation to marry women
            for their lust issues (cf. 1 Cor. 7:8)? If so, I think that’s a huge mistake.

            //…The Spirit of God makes this possible.//

            I’m sure a gay man can love his wife like Christ loved the church, but it does nothing for his sexual desires. And she’ll know he’s faking his sexual interest which would most likely have a devastating effect on her. Paul says they should marry if they burn with desire but here you have them in a marriage with someone they have no sexual desire for.

            //Is it really the words of the traditional understanding of
            marriage that are harmful? Or is it fallen, human flesh (read: “sinful passions”) that brings about harm (see below)?//

            It’s not sinful to want to be sexually attracted to the
            person you marry.

            //…The other alternative that Danny misses is that the Holy
            Spirit /does/ affirm within the gays’ being that heeding such words would bring them liberty…//

            When a man stops using drugs, he feels set free from bondage. When a man stops cheating on his wife and
            repairs his marriage, he feels set free from bondage. When a man stops looking at porn, he feels set free from bondage. All the damage that resulted from such sin clears away and he is set free.

            Are you telling me that when you stopped pursuing a lifelong
            commitment with a man you felt set free from bondage? What damage results from two men in marriage that is cleared away when the two men separate from their marriage? And please don’t say “death” because all sin brings death. I’m talking about identifiable damage.

            I don’t doubt you don’t fear living life without love because you have Christ, but some men don’t have that same confidence, and that doesn’t make them sinners.

            //…if Romans 7:5 &12-13 corresponds to this….//

            Again, this is something that the person knows within they need to be set free from (Rom. 7:24). Man senses the struggle within, because it’s wired within us (i.e. conscience) to know when we’ve transgressed the law of God. It’s something his spirit understands is wrong (Rom. 7:16, 19).

            //Similarly, the traditional teaching on homosexuality /is/
            good…//

            The teaching on stopping adultery, porn, and drugs is good. We want to do it because it feels good in the moment, but we know it’s wrong. That’s why when we heed the good teaching, we feel set free. The teaching on ending your relationship with
            your lifelong partner does not have the same “good” effects as the other teachings. It’s not like they do it because it feels good in the moment but they know it’s wrong. And when they heed the “good” teaching, it tears apart their marriage and leaves them feeling in bondage while their supposed sinful marriage never did.

          • Josh Manriquez

            //Who sets the timeline on when the Spirit leaves them because they keep ignorantly sinning?//

            I firmly believe that the Spirit never leaves anyone whom He’s entered. Either He abides in someone or He doesn’t. Evidence of spiritual fruit doesn’t prove the Spirit’s abiding presence. Many atheists evidence love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.

            //…just because you say something is a sin doesn’t make it a sin.//

            Clearly. Not sure why you felt compelled to say this. I can equally say that just because you say something is not sin doesn’t make it not sinful. These are obvious statements. We’re both looking to Scripture to make such claims. 🙂

            //I do think the acts in Romans 1 are immoral but not because they’re against nature…. just because something is against nature doesn’t mean it’s immoral. However, something immoral can be against nature.//

            I wholeheartedly agree. Context is the determining factor. And in this context—with its allusions to the creation account in Genesis—it seems to me that these acts are immoral /because/ they are against nature, viz., these acts deviate from female (θῆλυς) and male (ἄρσην) relations as established by the Creator.

            //What define these acts as immoral are the excessively lustful desires that drive the acts. This excessive lust arose as they cast away that which was made evident within them, and acting out in excess lust was always considered against nature.//

            I liked Preston’s comments on an earlier blog: “It’s not clear that Paul says that same sex intercourse is the RESULT of excessive heterosexual lust. The “desires/passions of their hearts” (v. 24), “dishonorable passions” (v. 26), and “burned with desire/passion” (v. 27) could simply be a description of same sex eroticism as such, rather than explaining the ordo-sexus (not a real phrase 🙂 of how the desire for homosexual sex comes about.” (from a comment to Ford1968 et al in his blog entry “Does Romans 1 Only Prohibit Illicit Same Sex Activity?”)

            //So you advise men with same-sex orientation to marry women for their lust issues (cf. 1 Cor. 7:8)? If so, I think that’s a huge mistake.//

            I understand with complete empathy. Nevertheless, as I’ve mentioned before, Paul clearly says, “/because of sexual immorality/, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2). I don’t think it’s a mistake to obey God.

            //I’m sure a gay man can love his wife like Christ loved the church, but it does nothing for his sexual desires. And she’ll know he’s faking his sexual interest which would most likely have a devastating effect on her.//

            Faking is truly no fun. But there is a huge difference between faking and sincerely finding pleasure in giving my body for my wife’s pleasure. I imagine such a man would say something like, “My desires may in fact be oriented toward my same sex, but I love my wife so much that I’m /pleased/ to offer her my body for her own pleasure.” If a wife has such a man who loves her like Christ loved the church and who is pleased to please her physically, I have a hard time understanding why she would be devastated. I understand the temptation to be devastated by it. But as I said in another post, I think she would need a renewed mind in that case.

            //It’s not sinful to want to be sexually attracted to the person you marry.//

            I never said it was. 🙂

            //Are you telling me that when you stopped pursuing a lifelong commitment with a man you felt set free from bondage?//

            When I was confronted with Christianity, I was confronted with a Messiah who “bids me ‘come and die’”; a messiah who calls us to a /difficult/ life of denying self; a Messiah who calls us to a /shame-filled/ and /humiliating/ life of following Him while bearing our own cross—an instrument of shame and humiliation; a Messiah who calls us to a life of persecution, etc. etc. So when I stopped pursuing a lifelong commitment with a man and began pursuing a lifelong commitment to the God-Man Jesus Christ, I felt both free from bondage /to sin/ and yet /enslaved/ to a new Master. I knew I had to “count the cost” of discipleship, which would be difficult in many ways other than experiencing SSA.

            //What damage results from two men in marriage that is cleared away when the two men separate from their marriage? And please don’t say “death” because all sin brings death. I’m talking about identifiable damage.//

            Where does Scripture define sin as an act that entails identifiable damage? There sure wasn’t anything inherently harmful about eating a fruit. There really isn’t anything inherently harmful about rejecting God all one’s life—indeed, many Atheists live quite “moral” lives and bring no harm to anyone. Oprah is clearly not a Christian, yet she does much to mitigate harm in the world. Nevertheless, she is living in sin by rejecting Jesus as the only way to the Father. I’m reminded of another analogy given by Preston: A married couple both fall out of love with each other and happily remarry other Christians. No identifiable damage done; sinful nonetheless.

            //I don’t doubt you don’t fear living life without love because you have Christ, but some men don’t have that same confidence, and that doesn’t make them sinners.//

            My point was that Danny was misleading others—unintentionally, no doubt—by committing the
            fallacy of bifurcation. Lacking confidence in and of itself surely doesn’t make one a sinner. But sin is sin no matter how one feels or doesn’t feel about it.

            //Again, this is something that the person knows within they need to be set free from (Rom. 7:24). Man senses the struggle within, because it’s wired within us (i.e. conscience) to know when we’ve transgressed the law of God. It’s something his spirit understands is wrong (Rom. 7:16, 19).//

            And again, I would argue that SSA folk like myself know homosexuality is a sin, but such truth is suppressed and/or diluted and/or confused and/or twisted. It is true that it has been wired within me (my conscience) to know that homosexuality is a transgression of the law of God and of Christ. In my spirit I understand it is wrong.

            But my point still stands: the bad fruit that resulted from the law/commandment does /not/ negate
            the goodness of it. Similarly, the bad fruit that has resulted from the traditional interpretation of marriage does not negate the goodness of it either. In fact, much good fruit has abounded as a result of the traditional interpretation of marriage, as many gay men and women have put their trust in Christ, married, etc.

            //The teaching on stopping adultery, porn, and drugs is good. We want to do it because it feels good in the moment, but we know it’s wrong. That’s why when we heed the good teaching, we feel set free. The teaching on ending your relationship with your lifelong partner does not have the same “good” effects as the other teachings. It’s not like they do it because it feels good in the moment but they know it’s wrong. And when they heed the “good” teaching, it tears apart their marriage and leaves them feeling in bondage while their supposed sinful marriage never did.//

            So the sinfulness of something is determined by our subjective feelings about it?

          • Julie

            //…Many atheists evidence love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.//

            Jesus speaks of knowing the difference between two professing Christians, not between a Christian and an unbeliever. Every good tree bears good fruit. If a professing Christian (even a gay married one) bears good fruit, he is a good tree. Jesus gives us permission to appraise these experiences. These appraisals are no less valuable than Scripture in determining whether or not we are within God’s will.

            //I wholeheartedly agree… it seems to me that these acts are immoral /because/ they are against nature…//

            That’s not what I said, though. I said they are not immoral because they are against nature but because they’re driven by lust. Excessively lustful acts were sinful, and they were also considered against nature.

            //I liked Preston’s comments on an earlier blog: “It’s not clear that Paul says that same sex intercourse is the RESULT of excessive heterosexual lust.//

            It is clear the acts result from lust. Paul says the acts resulted from the lusts of their own hearts (v. 24).

            //I don’t think it’s a mistake to obey God.//

            Paul is not saying that if a man lusts for a man, he should marry a woman. We understand Paul to be saying that if a man lusts for a woman, he should marry a woman. Why would you think Paul is giving instructions for a man lusting for a man?

            //But there is a huge difference between faking and sincerely finding pleasure in giving my body for my wife’s pleasure.//

            I get it. If I thought I was supposed to be with a woman and I came to love a woman, I could pleasure her if that’s what I thought God wanted. I’d find pleasure in pleasing someone I care about but not sexual pleasure. I find that scenario dishonest with how you were created and potentially damaging in spite of the efforts made in doing what they think is right. Over and over again we see the fruit of when we ignore how we’re created—the fruit of divorce and often with children. There’s a reason God created us to have innate sexual attraction—it gives people the capacity for a romantic love that
            leads people to fall in love and build a loving, committed relationship. This relationship is based on an intimacy that
            includes sexual attraction, and this unique intimacy between the partners drives them together and keeps them together in a way unlike the intimacy in platonic relationships.

            //So when I stopped pursuing a lifelong commitment with a man and began pursuing a lifelong commitment to the God-Man Jesus Christ,//

            So, the freedom you felt may have been in response to your new birth in Christ rather than specifically in response to leaving your dream of pursuing a relationship with a man. Had you not been aware that the pursuit was “sinful” maybe you still would have felt that freedom in Christ. As I said before, those who are in sin will know it because the sin causes damage to their lives and their relationships.

            //Where does Scripture define sin as an act that entails identifiable damage?//

            Why assume it doesn’t?

            All the items in Paul’s vice list causes harm.

            //I would argue that SSA folk like myself know homosexuality is a sin//

            I suspect that if no one had told you it was wrong, you wouldn’t have known it was wrong.

            //But my point still stands: the bad fruit that resulted from the law/commandment does /not/ negate the goodness of it.//

            The law does not bear bad fruit. The law simply points to the bad fruit that people can produce. When you steal, the law condemns you.

            When one heeds the “good teaching” of the traditional view, it leaves many enslaved to a lifetime without the possibility of intimate love. It has become so devastating that many have
            married only to later divorce and others who have taken their own lives. That is not producing good fruit like when one heeds the good teaching of the other laws.

            //So the sinfulness of something is determined by our subjective feelings about it?//

            If all the commandments hang upon love God and love others
            as Jesus has told us, then we can know how to respond in all situations without having every single thing spelled out for us.
            Jesus didn’t ask us to do something we’d have to guess to figure out how to do. Within each of us is the ability to love God and love others. Good teaching will not hinder but rather facilitate love. Facilitate love: stop adultery, stop porn, stop drugs. Put aside our momentary highs and, instead, put others (and our relationships with others) first by stopping these damaging things. But to tell someone to stop loving your spouse and terminate your covenant commitment with them because you’re the same sex is not something that facilitates love. It flies in the face of love God and love others. And obeying such a command has effects that look very different from obeying the other commands.

          • Josh Manriquez

            //Every good tree bears good fruit. If a professing Christian (even a gay married one) bears good fruit, he is a good tree.//

            If a professing Christian is unrepentantly gay, I believe that is a sufficient amount of bad fruit to conclude that he’s /either/ a bad tree, or the Spirit—according to His own sovereign wisdom—has not led that man to recognize it as sin just yet, or
            he knows it’s sin but has convinced himself that it’s not. Many believers don’t automatically recognize their sin.

            //That’s not what I said, though. I said they are not immoral because they are against nature…//

            Oops. I know what you meant. My “agreement” was unintentionally ambiguous; I see that now. I meant that I wholeheartedly agree that “against nature” doesn’t automatically make something immoral.

            //It is clear the acts result from lust. Paul says the acts resulted from the lusts of their own hearts (v. 24).//

            Yes, verse 24 speaks of “lust/desire” (ἐπιθυμία), but not /excessive/ lust. As for verse 27, the participle “committing” (κατεργαζόμενοι) is grammatically dependent upon the main verb “burned” (ἐξεκαύθησαν), and seems (for multiple reasons) to be a “participle of means”, producing the following translation: “The men … burned in their appetite /by/ committing shameless acts with other men.” A participle of means /defines/ or /explains/ the action of the main verb; so in this case, the committing of shameful [homosexual] acts *defines* and/or *explains* the main action “burned in their appetite.” The very fact that the main verb is /aorist/ and the participle is /present/ also suggests that Paul is not speaking of a sequence of events whereby the committing of shameful acts /results/ from the burning of their appetite; instead, the aorist main verb /followed by/ the present participle suggests one whole, contemporaneous shameful act that is described /as/ a burning of one’s appetite. Such an analysis of the original language reveals the truthfulness of Preston’s comment, which I’ll quote again: “It’s not clear that Paul says that same sex intercourse is the RESULT of excessive heterosexual lust. The … “dishonorable passions”
            (v. 26), and “burned with desire/passion” (v. 27) could simply be a
            description of same sex eroticism as such, rather than explaining the
            ordo-sexus (not a real phrase 🙂 of how the desire for homosexual sex
            comes about.”

            //We understand Paul to be saying that if a man lusts for a woman, he should marry a woman. Why would you think Paul is giving instructions for a man lusting for a man?//

            The text surely has in mind a man lusting for a woman. So I admit that Paul may have provided different instructions for a man who lusts for a man. He may have instructed the man to remain celibate, or to marry a woman anyway, since that was God’s
            original design. Nevertheless, since Paul (and God) makes it clear elsewhere in Scripture that homosexuality is a sin, he would not have instructed a lustful man to marry another man.

            //This relationship is based on an intimacy that includes sexual attraction, and this unique intimacy between the partners drives them together and keeps them together in a way unlike the intimacy in platonic relationships.//

            I definitely get that. I myself want to be in a relationship with someone that I’m attracted to. Very much (!) actually. Hence, I /know/ the heartache that other SSA folk feel when confronted with the traditional interpretation of marriage. Nevertheless, after 12 years of repenting from homosexuality, I also know the joy of obeying my Creator by repenting of homosexuality; I know the peace of trusting in God’s sovereign wisdom in prohibiting gay relations; I know the power of the Holy Spirit who enables me to walk by faith even in face of SSA.

            //So, the freedom you felt may have been in response to your new birth in Christ rather than specifically in response to leaving your dream of pursuing a relationship with a man. Had you not been aware that the pursuit was “sinful” maybe you still would have felt that freedom in Christ.//

            The fact is, I /did/ know it was sin, and I was pleased to repent of it in obedience to God. I felt no (and still feel no) spiritual devastation and low
            self-esteem/self-worth.

            //Why assume [Scripture] doesn’t [define sin as an act that entails identifiable damage]?… All the items in Paul’s vice list causes harm.//

            I’m not assuming it doesn’t. I’ve made my conclusion based on Scripture. You’re claiming that /because/ monogamous, committed same-sex marriage causes no harm, then it’s not
            sinful; yet there are sins recorded in Scripture that are not harmful. Thus I think the “no harm” argument should be dropped.

            //I suspect that if no one had told you it was wrong, you wouldn’t have known it was wrong.//

            It’s possible. Doesn’t make it right though. 🙂

            //The law does not bear bad fruit. The law simply points to the bad fruit that people can produce.//

            I did not claim the law bears bad fruit. I said bad fruit “resulted” from it. I assumed you would recall my previous comment, in which I explained that it is the “sinful passions” that bear the bad fruit when confronted with the holy/good law. The law doesn’t just point to the bad fruit that people can produce; the good/holy law is the environment through which our sinful passions bear bad fruit (Rom. 7:5). Thus, it is /sinful people/ who bear bad fruit, /not/ good teaching. It is the sinful passions of sinful people who bear bad fruit, /not/ the biblical/traditional interpretation of marriage.

            Good Law + Sinful Passion —> Bad Fruit.

            //When one heeds the “good teaching” of the traditional view, it leaves many enslaved to a lifetime without the possibility of intimate love…. That is not producing good fruit like when one heeds the good teaching of the other laws.//

            Again, Good Law + Sinful Passion —> Bad Fruit.

            Do you suppose /no one/ had a homosexual orientation in OT times, or do you suppose that such an orientation is something only “modern” people have? I would imagine that
            people did have a homosexual orientation in OT times—that people did desire intimate love with their same-sex—yet God clearly forbade them /in His good law/ from acting out on that orientation.

            //To tell someone to stop loving your spouse and terminate your covenant commitment with them because you’re the same sex is not something that facilitates love. It flies in the face of love God and love others.//

            I would not tell someone to stop loving his/her spouse. I would tell someone to start loving God by obeying His command to repent from your sin.

            It doesn’t fly in the face of “love God and love others.” One way we demonstrate our love to God and to others is through our obedience to Him. On the other hand, disobedience to God communicates not-love to God and to others.

          • Julie

            I meant that I wholeheartedly agree that “against nature” doesn’t automatically make something immoral.

            But if “against nature” ever makes something immoral, then shouldn’t it make all other things described as “against nature” immoral? If it’s immoral because it’s against God’s design or norm, then anything that’s against God’s design or norm is immoral. Shouldn’t we be consistent with the definition of the phrase? If it means “against God’s design” in one place, it means it in all other places. If it means “against the ordinary realm of experience” in one place, it means it in all other places. Do you think we get to be inconsistent with the definition because Paul uses Genesis as the foundation for his argument in Romans 1? If so, I feel that is taking liberties that go beyond the text. It’s a stretch and very well may be quite wrong. There is no way for you to be sure yet, from what I understand, that is the very thing that makes or breaks the Romans 1 argument for the traditional view.

            …suggests that Paul is not speaking of a sequence of events whereby the committing of shameful acts /results/ from the burning of their appetite;…

            Paul already told us in verse 24 that it was their own personal lust of their hearts that God turned them over to excessive lust. Therefore, we know the acts result from lust.

            In Romans 1 Paul puts these acts in the context of lust. The word “arsenokoites” in his vice lists is among other vices that emerge from selfish desire or malicious intent. These vices don’t occur outside of selfish desire or malicious intent. Arsenokoites doesn’t occur outside of selfish desire or malicious intent. When Paul speaks of this act in Romans 1 (arsenokoites), he does not have loving, committed relationship (i.e. marriage) in mind. Therefore, we don’t know that Paul would condemn same-sex activity within loving, committed relationship.

            Nevertheless, since Paul (and God) makes it clear elsewhere in Scripture that homosexuality is a sin, he would not have instructed a lustful man to marry another man.

            That may be so. But, still, you have no command from God to tell a gay man who has romantic passions for the same-sex to marry a woman. It’s a mistake to advise gay men to marry women.

            The fact is, I /did/ know it was sin

            How?

            You’re claiming that /because/ monogamous, committed same-sex marriage causes no harm, then it’s not sinful;

            All the vices in Paul’s list (where we find the vice, “arsenokoites”) cause harm, and so we can conclude that the act of arsenokoites, too, causes harm. Arsenokoites doesn’t take place within marriage, because the arsenokoites listed causes harm and same-sex acts within marriage do not. Do you see my rationale on this point now?

            It is the sinful passions of sinful people who bear bad fruit, /not/ the biblical/traditional interpretation of marriage.

            It is not sinful passions to want to marry someone you’re attracted to. It is not sinful passions to engage in sexual activity with your spouse.

            yet God clearly forbade them /in His good law/ from acting out on that orientation.

            No, God did not clearly forbid them from acting on that orientation. What is forbidden is to partake in arsenokoites which is a harmful act that emerges from selfish desire or malicious intent and causes identifiable harm.

      • Sun

        The argument from silence approach while discussing sins in the Bible is shaky, to put it mildly. Let’s not go down that road.

        Wouldn’t you say though, that marriage is defined pretty well through out scripture? In the NT alone, both Jesus and Paul are unambiguous in their discussions about what marriage should look like.

        Also, it seems like you’re busy putting a lot of words in Paul’s mouth that he never uttered or wrote.(a lot like Vines) I get it though……I find my self fighting off the urge to add words and meaning to scripture passages that are hard to swallow.

        I would agree that excess desires / wants in all these activities is a bad thing that Christians with an inheritance should not practice. However, all these activities are still missing the mark if committed just one time……wouldn’t you agree? If not, which one’s are not, and how is that determined?

        “All the activities in the lists are harmful to others”?

        You may want to reread those passages. (fornicators, idolators, drunkards, gluttons and the covetous do not necessarily harm others).

        I sense we’re getting way off track in this discussion. It was interesting though.

        God bless

        • Julie

          //The argument from silence approach while discussing sins
          in the Bible is shaky, to put it mildly. Let’s not go down that road.//

          🙂 Phyte On brought it up. Not me. He wrote, “However, the NT is not silent on homosexuality” so I responded to him on that.

          //Wouldn’t you say though, that marriage is defined pretty
          well through out scripture?//

          As I wrote to Phyte On in the other blog, Jesus doesn’t say “marriage = one man and one woman.” Jesus quoted Genesis, which was an account of something that took place—not a definition—in order to explain why “any matter” divorce was not an option.

          “Biblical marriage” is not simply “one man and one woman.” Biblical marriage is varied depending on needs of the culture. Some examples are: 1) man + woman, 2) man + woman + concubine, 3) man + woman + female slaves, 4) man + woman + woman + woman + woman…, 5) man + brother’s widow. In each biblical marriage, the arrangement took place depending on need such as: procreation, companionship, to fulfill a promise, property transfer, population control, status, social welfare, inheritance security.

          If marriage = one man and one woman, Jesus would have been saying all those thousands of years of /biblical/ marriages were never really marriages.

          One may perceive that the purpose of marriage as seen in the
          NT is to reflect the intimate bond between Christ and His Bride, the Church, that leads to the self-sacrificial giving of oneself to another. One might say that if the purpose of marriage can be potentially realized, you have yourself a biblical marriage according to the NT.

          //Also, it seems like you’re busy putting a lot of words in
          Paul’s mouth that he never uttered or wrote.//

          Which words? That would be good to know. If you can’t find the “words” I put in Paul’s mouth that he never “uttered or wrote,” I’d like you to retract that.

          Paul /never/ speaks of these acts in the context of marriage. Are you saying he does? Paul is the one who describes the men as “burning” in desire toward one another, which gives a picture of burning like fire. Are you saying he doesn’t?

          //However, all these activities are still missing the mark
          if committed just one time……wouldn’t you agree?//

          Yes, but I don’t see how that’s relevant.

          //You may want to reread those passages. (fornicators, idolators, drunkards, gluttons and the covetous do not necessarily harm others).//

          Harmful to others /or/ to self (whether physical harm or
          relational harm).

          Fornication (sex outside of marriage & promiscuity) spreads disease. It’s harmful to others physically (i.e. by spreading disease) and emotionally (i.e. such physical intimacy is not meant for flings and causes emotional damage and future relational damage).

          Idolatry is harmful to self (harms relationship with God) and leads others to do the same.

          Drunkards are harming their own bodies (i.e. liver) and often their behavior breaks up marriages and relationships.

          Gluttons are harming their health.

          Having a spirit of covetousness harms relationship with God and others. Actually, it leads to death (cf. Rom. 7:8-11). Sounds quite harmful.

      • Phyte_On

        Here’s the bottom line. Someone is a false teacher. Either homosexuality is sin (in ANY circumstances) or it is not sin (in certain circumstances).

        Sexual morality is very, very important to God. Getting this right is essential.

        False teaching over the subject of sexual morality, especially as it pertains to the sacred institution of marriage and family is an abomination. I hope Preston and other teachers know they are treading on sacred ground.

        I hope God disciplines the false teachers. The HARM of false teaching is huge. JAMES 3:1.

        • Julie

          //Here’s the bottom line. Someone is a false teacher.//

          Are you calling yourself a false teacher? Or are the majority of us students trying to discern God’s word as we hash it out with one another?

          //Sexual morality is very, very important to God. Getting this
          right is essential.//

          Then why didn’t He make this one abundantly clear? Maybe it’s more important to you than Him.

          //I hope Preston and other teachers know they are treading
          on sacred ground.

          I hope God disciplines the false teachers. The HARM of false
          teaching is huge. JAMES 3:1.//

          Perhaps your hope is focused on the wrong thing and that’s
          what is really troubling you.

          • Phyte_On

            One of us is a false teacher. For example, a Conservative Traditional point of view (if FALSE) is causing immense harm to Gay Christians who want to get married.

            What part of this logic is not clear? Sigh.

      • Christine

        If the New Testament speaks against the act of homosexuality then that would include marriage between two people of the same gender. The Holy Bible clearly states that a sexual union of a man & woman should only occur within the context of marriage. This makes fornication & adultery not only a sin but a sin against our bodies.
        So if the homosexual sexual act is sinful & God refers to it as an abomination, then this act cannot be validated nor condoned as a God-ordained marriage. Let’s not forget the God established marriage to represent Jesus Christ and the Church.

        • Julie

          Christine,

          I’m unconvinced that the homosexual behavior that was condemned in ancient times was what it is today. The homosexual behavior in ancient times was filled with violence, oppression, humiliation, and slavery emerging from malicious intent, and temple prostitution, etc. emerging from excessive
          lust. But even if you had no knowledge of the historical context in which scripture was written, is God’s truth reserved for only the scholarly who happen to have access to such information? We are capable of recognizing fruit, and we see that the traditional view has brought forth corrupt fruit. Words of truth bear the fruit of liberty. Those in bondage to pornography, adultery, drugs, etc. recognize the liberty in the words of truth
          that they need to escape such lifestyles. Those in loving same-sex lifestyles find bondage not in their loving commitment
          to one another but in heeding the advice of the traditional view that requires them to remain behind the bars of celibacy never to see the light of love found in the intimacy within covenant union. I’m concerned that we continue to insist that the “words of truth” of the traditional view bring forth liberty when, in fact, it has done just the opposite.

          • happiness1535

            That does not mean that there were not ALSO loving, committed same-sex relationships in the ancient world.

            In fact, typical lesbian behavior was not much associated with any of those things.

          • Julie

            Paul placed the acts he condemned in the context of excess burning lust (Rom. 1:27). I don’t feel comfortable assuming Paul would condemn what we’re talking about today — loving sexual acts within a loving marriage between two same-sex oriented Christians.

          • J. Inglis

            “homosexual behavior in ancient times was filled with violence, oppression, humiliation, and slavery emerging from malicious intent, and temple prostitution, etc.”

            Actually, no, it wasn’t. Even pro-homosexual historians and theologians don’t make such a contention. There are ancient writers of the time who write about mutual, loving homosexual relationships.

  • LuvsGod

    It is very helpful to read what Vines says followed directly by the related Bible passages and the results of your study. This blog was clear and informative. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  • Jean

    Preston – I, for one, am very grateful that you have taken the time and energy to interact with Vine’s arguments. Christians who affirm the authority of scripture need to be educated (I need to be educated) about what scripture says on this hot button topic. I believe you are providing an important witness, not only of the exegesis, but of the tone with which this topic should be addressed. As arguments and exegetical theories evolve and/or are proffered in favor of same-sex marriage/life style, I hope you and others like you will continue to interact with them, as responsible Christ followers attempt to discern the will of our Lord with respect to our sexuality.

    • Phyte_On

      There’s a great quote, I think (not sure though) attributed to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) along these lines:

      “Truth without love is empty; Love without truth is blind”

      “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

  • Julie

    So, the prohibitions in Leviticus are binding on Christians if there’s nothing in the context of Leviticus or in the NT that suggests otherwise? /That/ is how we determine what’s binding on Christians? Why do we wear poly-cotton blends? What’s the /biblical/ basis for assuming we can wear clothes of mixed fabric?

    • LuvsGod

      I understood this the other way. Leviticus law is not binding if it is not reiterated in the NT.

      • Julie

        Preston wrote, “There’s simply nothing in the context of Leviticus 18 and 20, or in the New Testament, that suggests otherwise.”

        There’s nothing in the context of Leviticus or in the NT that suggests we are allowed to engage in incest, adultery, same-sex sex, etc. /That/ is what Preston is saying. I am saying that there’s also nothing in the context of Leviticus or in the NT that suggests we can wear poly-cotton blends. So why do we?

        Also, LuvsGod, the prohibition against bestiality is NOT reiterated in the NT, so why do we refrain? There’s plenty not reiterated in the NT, but we know very well it’s something we should never do.

    • Sun

      Who’s suggesting this? I don’t think I know of any bible teachers who are saying that this is how we determine what’s binding? Going through the dietary / sacrificial / ethical laws in the Old Testament can be challenging, but there are plenty of good resources out there from more than adequate scholars on the issue. I would say this though when looking at the Torah…if a God-given institution (like marriage) or a God-given prohibition (like homosexual sex) are then reinforced in the NT, I think we can be pretty confident that they’re binding. Just a thought.

      Peace

      • Julie

        /Who’s suggesting this?/

        Preston suggests this:

        “So, the point stands: all the prohibitions surrounding sexual immorality in Leviticus 18 and 20 including incest, adultery, sex during menstruation, and male homosexual intercourse—along with a whole host of over commands in Lev 18-20—are still binding on Christians. There’s simply nothing in the context of Leviticus 18 and 20, or in the New Testament, that suggests otherwise.”

        All prohibitions surrounding sexual immorality in Leviticus are still binding because there’s nothing in the context of Leviticus or in the NT that suggests otherwise.

        There’s also nothing in the context of Leviticus or in the NT that suggests we should wear poly-cotton blends. So why do we?

  • Preston –

    I’m really at a loss as to why you are doing this series. These are not new arguments and ones that you have already attempted to refute in previous blog posts. My sense is that you simply don’t want people to be persuaded by Matthew Vine’s arguments. You disagree with the theology. I get it. But is it really so important to you that all Christians believe exactly as you do about the morality of gay relationships? So much so that you must make the argument again? Would it really be such a tragedy if people were indeed persuaded by this book? Certainly, the fourteen year old gay kid in the front pew will be safer if more people in his faith community hold an affirming or accomodating position.

    With that, I’ve said my peace.
    I wish you well.
    David

    • Josh Manriquez

      Hey David!

      As a man who has experienced SSA attraction since as long as he can remember—
      As a man who has been intimately involved with several other men—
      As a man who has been called “gay” pejoratively, I know the pain and suffering that gays endure as a result of homophobia. I know the frustration and sorrow that gays experience.

      The fourteen year old gay kid in the front pew was *me* at one point. In fact, I was 14 when I first became sexually involved with another guy. So trust me when I say that I can empathize 100% with the GLBT community.

      Nevertheless, as a man who repented of homosexuality 12 years ago and put his faith in Jesus, I submit to the Apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching/doctrine; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

      Accordingly, I believe it is of utmost importance for Preston and every other Christian to continue proclaiming the truth of Scripture. We must persevere in teaching Scripture, because that is what will ensure salvation.

      • Phyte_On

        Josh, thanks for this. The evangelical church has done so much harm on this issue – mostly by ignoring and not engaging. Hopefully, the Conservative Evangelical traditionalists (like myself) would have such a repentant attitude on how they have mishandled those with SSA. Truth + Grace = Jesus.