Homosexuality and the Bible

I wrote the Old Testament section, Ed Snow the New Testament section.

Clearly, Mormon sexual doctrine is influenced by the Bible. It would therefore seem important for us to understand what the Bible says on the subject of homosexuality.

Mormons believe (see the Proclamation on the Family) that we are all subject to the first commandment given to man, to “multiply and replenish the Earth” (Gen 1: 28):

“The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”

Because homosexual behavior offers no chance to “multiply” it cannot conform to this injunction. This is a fundamental problem with homosexuality. It may be one, however, that the Church has already negated. The Church no longer teaches its gay members to comply with this commandment; currently, gays are encouraged to live lives of celibacy rather than taking the risk that a heterosexual marriage and having children will somehow “work out.”

The sin of Sodom (Gen 18-19; see also Jude 7) has become synonymous with male homosexual sex. But what exactly was the sin of Sodom? In Genesis, the sin is usually described as “great wickedness” without further elaboration. The one specific sin involves the men who crowd around Lot’s door. What do they want? To commit homosexual rape, against men — angels even, perhaps even Yahweh himself — who are under Lot’s protection. This is depravity in the extreme. That they want to do violence to these men under these circumstances may say nothing about consensual, committed homosexual relations today. In fact, according to Ezekiel 16:49 the sin of Sodom had nothing to do with sex:

This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

What of Leviticus (18: 22; 20:13)? Indeed, any homosexual sex is condemned in the Mosaic law as an “abomination” worthy of death. Note, however, that this injunction is part of the so-called Holiness Code, a corpus of laws (Lev 17-26) that concentrate on religious and cultic purity. Are Christians willing to take all of the Holiness Code as morally binding today? Do we execute those who dishonour their parents or blaspheme God? Should we still eat kosher? Can High Priests marry widows or divorcees? Must we still celebrate the Israelite festivals? Can we have slaves? This represents a fundamental issue: what rules are there for making Old Testament social views normative for contemporary believers? Why is slavery an evil today, but tolerable under Israelite law? One answer might be to go beyond the Old Testament to the New. Does the second testament guide us in our approach to the first?

Some commentators believe homosexual behavior was primarily a gentile, rather than an Israelite, practice. This may explain why Jesus never discussed homosexuality–it wasn’t an issue in his circles. For Jews dispersed outside of Palestine, however, Hellenistic society’s acceptance of homosexual love among males was more prevalent, although by the 1st century AD, it was increasingly viewed as self-indulgent, unnatural and exploitative. Even in Greco-Roman circles where this behavior was still accepted, it was thought shameful for a grown male to be the passive partner, this role being reserved for a male slave or male prostitute.[1]

With Jesus’ silence on the topic, Paul becomes the author responsible for New Testament views on homosexuality. As an inheritor of Hebrew culture and values, Paul echoed typical Old Testament teachings on this topic . Contemporary Greek and Roman ideas concerning homosexuality no doubt also influenced him as well, but the extent of that influence may be debated.

In Romans 1:20-27, Paul has a “sidebar” discussion of homosexual activity among men and women inside his primary discussion of idolatry, suggesting that same-sex erotic activity is a direct result of idol worship. Says Paul, the idol worshipper reverses the natural order by worshipping a creation rather than the creator. As a clever commentator suggested, with Paul, “the idol worshipper does not seek to do the will of God; he seeks a god to do his will.”[see Oxford Bible Commentary, 1090] Romans 1:26b–27 says:

26b: Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
27: and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

According to Paul, idolatry turned not only the cosmic order upside down, but also human relationships upside down, with idolatry being the cause and homosexuality being the effect. More progressive readings of Rom. 1:26-27 have suggested that homosexuality is not directly condemned as a sin in this letter, but rather understood culturally by Paul to be a mere by-product of idolatry, albeit, an unfortunate by-product in Paul’s eyes.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul addresses homosexuality again, this time in much stronger language:

9: Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts,
10: nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Here, the terms translated as “sexual perverts” in the RSV are the Greek terms “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai” more recently translated as “male prostitutes” and “sodomites” in the NRSV. Raymond Brown indicates “malakoi” (“soft”) could refer to the “effeminate” or the “dissolute,” while “arsenokoitai” (“those who go to bed with males”) could refer to “homosexuals.” More progressive readings of 1 Cor. 6:9 have suggested that Paul is condemning only male prostitution since “it brutalizes the active participant as well as victimizing the passive participant.” [see Raymond Brown, Introduction to the New Testament, 529]

Given Paul’s Jewish heritage, however, it is difficult to view these progressive interpretations as accurate portrayals of his original intent since Paul no doubt had Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 in mind in composing them. Such revisionist views may be useful for modern re-interpreters who have more liberal views on the binding nature of scripture and its possible cultural limitations. In any event, in the same breath in which Paul calls homosexual activity “shameless” in his letter to the Romans, he nevertheless reminds his readers: “[Y]ou have no excuse … whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” (Rom. 2:1)

When all is said and done, Nate Oman is probably right:

It seems to me that any Mormon discussion of same-sex unions should quit mucking around with Sodom and Gomorrah, the Mosiac law, or the New Testament. The real issue is what does one do with sections 131 and 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. These are the sections that link the concept of exaltation with the concept of marriage.

Mormons believe that their modern leaders are guided by God through revelation. Thus, the Mormon view of homosexuality may proceed ultimately from what Mormons consider to be modern revelation, rather than the scriptural exegesis of biblical scholars. But inasmuch as that revelation is guided by a reading of the Bible, the Bible remains relevant to the moral status of homosexuality today. We invite candid discussion, not only on biblical views of homosexuality, but also of the normative power we give (or don’t give) the Bible today. Should we live by Leviticus? Is Paul’s validation of Leviticus of import? Are all of Paul’s writings binding for modern Christians? If not, which ones do we choose?
______

1. In the Middle Assyrian laws from Mesopotamia, sodomy is only illegal if the active partner is of an equal or lower class to the passive partner.

Comments

  1. The laws of Middle Assyria sound much like the prevailing norms of Lompoc Penitentiary.

  2. Ronan & Ed: Interesting post, with many things, at least for me, to think through. First, can you point me in the direction of some source(s) for your statement:

    It may be one, however, that the Church has already negated. The Church no longer teaches its gay members to comply with this commandment; currently, gays are encouraged to live lives of celibacy rather than taking the risk that a heterosexual marriage and having children will somehow “work out.”

    I also like the notion that while the Bible clearly forms a foundation for our thought on homosexual conduct, it is continuing and modern revelation that may clarify the picture.

    Thanks!

  3. Power and submission, gst, same as always.

  4. Guy,

    You are right that modern revelation is the clincher for Mormons. I am curious as to how modern revelation interacts with our perception of the “what the Bible says.”

    I don’t have the publication to hand, but I believe that the document used (still?) by Bishops, “Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems,” states that,

    “Marriage should not be viewed as a way to resolve homosexual problems. The lives of others should not be damaged by entering a marriage where such concerns exist. Encouraging members to cultivate heterosexual feelings as a way to resolve homosexual problems generally leads them to frustration and discouragement.”

    Does someone have this book (by LDS Family Services)?

  5. Murky water indeed.

    My understanding is that Mormonism casts out biblical authority when ever in conflict with modern revelation (or when ever there is not a JST to clarify). It’s only true “as far as translated correctly”, which makes for a very big and perpetual loop-hole which other Christian traditions do not enjoy. Lucky us. Just another reason why some consider us non-Christian.

    However, the subject of biblical authority rarely comes-up as definitive in the Mormon texts that I have read, including the Proclamation. I think the primary authority is one part LDS doctrine of marriage (as you mention, though I have no idea how this can be construed as a moral code, let alone binding upon non-members) and two parts conventional wisdom. The biblical accounts themselves are best used only in a supportive role, as in “see its also in the Bible — right there, in the footnote”, for all the problems that you discuss in this post. And primarily, because the Bible (and the BoM for that matter) give it the rough equivalent of an afterthought…or less, in the case of the BoM. Not exactly the stuff of cataclysmic ungodliness. Now pride and avarice on the other hand…

    Ultimately, it’s a long way from the pronouncements of scripture and the doctrines of celestial marriage to a clear condemnation of gay marriage for the masses. I suspect that most know this, including the brethren of the church. I suspect that this is part of the reason that the subject is not clearly spelled-out in the Proclamation or in this past week’s letter.

    Good work on this, Ed and Ronan. Thank you.

  6. It seems this presentation is purposefully trying to be one-sided. I guess it’s thrust is the need for revelation. That, I can understand, and agree that in most things, esp. regarding policy towards sin, politics, etc. it’s needed. However, I think some things–including homosexual unchaste acts–can be discerned by the light of Christ well enough.

    It reminds me of those trying to excuse the severity of sexual sin, based on Alma’s discourse to his son.

    “men committing shameless acts with men” –and this is supposed to mean “no shame”??

    “Not exactly the stuff of cataclysmic ungodliness.”
    Unless, of course, by pride we mean not obeying God, not respecting his laws for the bodies he grants us, treating our bodies in ways that lead to many problems, loving the sexual feeling more than God, going against one’s eternal gender, etc.

    Why do some want to use excuses (which may well be) such as genes, environment, etc. to excuse homosexuality, but not any other sins? For example, what if the same amount of influence from genes, environment, etc. cause me to hate gays, instead of be(/ whatever) gay? Why is one behavior excused on certain grounds, and one condemned, excluded to those same grounds? How come no one is pushing for fairness?

  7. 4 Apr, 1987 – First Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley tells priesthood session of general conference that “marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices…” This reverses decades-long church policy formulated by Spencer W. Kimball. (D. Michael Quinn, “The Mormon Hierarchy : Extensions of Power” )

  8. In my thinking on why homosexual relations are prohibited I don’t think about the bible at all. I think about the overall plan of salvation as taught by modern prophets, especially the doctrine of keeping of the marriage covenant as a prerequisite for exhaltation. In that paradigm, anything that leads people down a path that leads away from, or makes less likely, their making and keeping the marriage covenant inhibits their progressoin toward eternal happiness. So, because He loves us, God proscribes things like premarital and extramarital sex (hetero- and homosexual), pornography, lusting, coveting, etc.

  9. Seth R. says:

    Here’s a quote from the official LDS publication “True to the Faith” (pg. 30-31 under “Chastity”). Thought I’d throw it out as an FYI:

    “Like other violations of the Law of Chastity, homosexual activity is a serious sin. It is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality (see Rom. 1:24-32). It distorts loving relationships and prevents people from receiving the blessings that can be found in family life and the saving ordinances of the Gospel”

    Few observations:

    1. No mention that homosexual inclinations themselves are sinful per se. It only condemns “homosexual activity.” In the paragraph following this statement is the clarification that merely refraining from “activity” isn’t enough, but we must also avoid “lusting after a woman” (Jesus’ term) outside of marriage.

    I would assume that this includes a man lusting after another man, although the text never actually specifies this.

    2. The passage does not rank homosexual activity any higher on the sin-o-meter than any other violation of the Law of Chastity.

    I like to think this wording represents a deliberate rejection of “homophobia” on the LDS Church’s part. It also seems to be a call for heterosexual men and women to take their own pet crimes against the Law of Chastity more seriously and not make the mistake of thinking gay sex is somehow “more sinful” just because it may be a foreign idea to them.

    3. I think the key phrase this passage contributes in analyzing what exactly is sinful about homosexual sex is where it says it “distorts loving relationships” and runs contrary to blessings of family and saving ordinances.

    The reference to family is obviously talking about the “no children” problem. But I’m more interested in how exactly homosexual practice “distorts loving relationships.” I’d like to hear others’ thoughts on that since I don’t really know what it means (not clearly anyway).

    By the way, I’d encourage anyone who participates in the bloggernacle to get a copy of “True to the Faith.” It covers most of the controversial subjects where the Church has taken a stand and lays out the Church position in the most simple and unembellished language possible. Very readable and it avoids having to decipher the hidden meaning behind vague or contradictory language that sometimes shows up in articles or addresses by individual Apostles or Prophets.

    The book is “just the basics” and doesn’t delve into things. But I’ve found it clarifies the LDS position for me immensely. You all should keep a copy and refer to it, whether you agree with particular Church positions or not.

  10. Julie M. Smith says:

    Oddly, I was reading Milgrom, the high priest of Leviticus studies, last night. He notes that the passage in Lev 18 uses the term not for regular male-female relations but for illicit ones. Hence, it may be that homosexual sex is prohibited only when it constitutes one of the categories (i.e., incest) that would be prohibited if it involved a man and woman. However, he doesn’t seem 100% convinced by this idea. He does note that in Leviticus any prohibition doesn’t apply to non-Jews–or to women (i.e., lesbians).

    That said, I think that the OT/NT case for prohibiting homosexuality is a tough one to make. We’re better off looking elsewhere.

  11. Agreed, Julie. But would we even “look elsewhere” if we didn’t already have a notion that the Bible considers homosexuality an “abomination”? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.

  12. Seth R.
    -For me, the way that homosexuality “distorts loving relationships” is by focusing on the lustful, carnal aspect of life as opposed to the charitable aspect of life. My brother (who was raised in the church) is gay, and just by talking to him about his life, I can see that it is his pride and his selfishness that feeds his homosexuality. It’s almost like old Narcissus who fell in love with the image of himself. I believe there is a truth in that story.

    I look at the NT quite a bit, and have found scriptures like “Men shall be lovers of their own selves,” (2 Tim. 3:2) brings on a whole new meaning. I’m not fostering the idea that this is what that particular scripture means, simply that it’s connection with later, more explicit terms in that passage, like “without natural affection,” and “incontinent,” brings a different picture to my mind.

  13. Elisabeth says:

    Perhaps “elsewhere” is to social and cultural expectations of appropriate sexual conduct and family relationships.

  14. Julie M. Smith says:

    “But would we even “look elsewhere” if we didn’t already have a notion that the Bible considers homosexuality an “abomination”? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”

    Yes, because of our understanding of the plan of salvation and the importance of creating eternal families. Any sex outside of marriage is a sin, regardless of flavor.

  15. Nate J,
    Only gays act this way?

  16. MikeInWeHo says:

    Nate,

    Sorry your relationship with your brother is sub-optimal. Your mindset might play a small role in that, imo.

    Your first paragraph is untrue and slanderous. It could easily be construed as hate speech. Replace the word “homosexuality” with “Judaism” in that first sentence and see how it sounds.

    And when did Narcissus come out of the closet, anyway?

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    If anyone doubts the wisdom of the Church in moving away from encouraging gay men to marry women, he ought to read Carol Lynn Pearson, Goodby, I Love You, which is the story of her experience in such a marriage. This was a terrible idea in the first place, very unfair to the women involved (would you want your sister or daughter to enter such a marriage in the vain hope of curing her homosexual husband?), and that we’re out of that business is a very good thing, I think.

  18. It could easily be construed as hate speech.

    Why so? He’s simply giving an opinion based on conversations with his brother. He’s not inciting anyone or shouting “fire” in a theater…

  19. I don’t want to be cynical about the way Mormons deal with the Bible but I’m sure it will sound that way.
    I think we pick and choose what we believe and what we follow. I’m not sure I can blame that entirely on our belief that we can buy the Bible as far as it’s translated correctly but we are very picky, and sometimes full of agenda.

    We use the OT to say, see they wore garments associated with the Temple, so do we. We wouldn’t think of giving up pork. The OT, specifically Mosaic Law, was fulfilled by Christ but anything discernably messianic we hold onto wholeheartedly.

    From the NT, women can speak in church, we don’t have to cover our heads, we can use musical instruments in church at the same time that it validates our doctrine to baptize the dead.

    Maybe it’s human nature to use what we can and not what we don’t, but I’m surprised then at how literally we believe in the Bible. Absolutely the flood happened and the creation occurred exactly as it is described in Genesis.

    Consequently, sometimes it’s hard for me to take Mormons (maybe all zealots?)seriously when they use scripture to back up their claims, since I can’t make sense of what’s believable and what’s not from the scriptures.

    Dammit, I am cynical.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    On the sin of Sodom, I once had a lengthy online debate with my friend Richley Crapo of Utah State (on Scripture-L) on this subject. I took the view that “know” was euphemistic in that passage and that the men did indeed intend to rape the visitors. He took the view that it was not euphemistic, and that they wanted to examine the strangers in town. Neither of us succeeded in convincing the other. We did agree, however, that the sin of Sodom had to do with hospitality and protection of the guest, extremely serious matters in the ancient near east, and not with homosexuality. Even on my view, male rape does not equal homosexuality, as anyone who watches HBO’s series “Oz” would know (where it is not the homosexuals who rape other prisoners).

  21. Kevin,
    I love the Ezekiel passage. I encourage all to cross reference it for when we meet Sodom again in 4 years.

  22. Amri has a point. Certainly, we would not treat our wives according to Paul’s prescribtions. I think that your point regarding the law of purity applies to Paul as well, Ronan.

  23. Kevin Barney says:

    The word arsenokoitai is interesting. If you plug it into google, you get 17,400 (!) hits. Wow! That’s a lot for a Greek word. So obviously people are interested in this subject.

    Since I taught NT Greek one year for institute, I like to think of ways to help students remember words. The arseno element comes from arsenos “man, male,” which is also the source for the name Arsenio. And the koit- element means “to lie,” and can be seen in the English derivative “coitus.”

    Although the words come from roots suggesting “one who lies with men,” the meaning of a word is a matter of usage, not etymology (the latter is called the etymological fallacy). The problem is that we don’t have a lot of secular usage of this word.

    The elements of the word (both arsenos and koitEn) both appear in LXX Lev. 18:22 and 20:13. So some people think that an arsenokoitEs for Paul means someone who beds a male in a manner that would violate the Leviticus prohibition (as understood in the first century).

    Other people look to the Greco-Roman context and see in this word an allusion to pederasty, which was not homosexuality per se, but rather the practice of an adult man (usually married) having sex with a young adolescent boy, often a slave kept for that purpose.

    It is hard to know exactly what it is Paul was referring to in that passage.

  24. Nate J., get with the program. The only anecdotal gays allowed in these discussions are the longsuffering, saintly types.

  25. gst,
    Come on, mate. Gays are humans, good and bad in equal measure to anyone else. That’s all.

    Kevin,
    Fantastic analysis. Your Institute classes sound fab. Your comment, I think, shows why a little Greek can go a long way. I feel — strongly — that we must, must understand the original intent of the scriptures before we go for any sensus plenior readings.

  26. Here, here, Kevin. Where can I sign up for your institute class?

  27. Merrill says:

    Amri: I’m surprised then at how literally we believe in the Bible. Absolutely the flood happened and the creation occurred exactly as it is described in Genesis.

    Amri, many Mormons have those literal beliefs (as does much of Christian America), but many don’t (probably 1/4 of the active Mormons I hang out with socially have that view, though my ward is probably made up of 75% literalists), and it’s not too hard to come up with general authorities who fall in the latter group (though most of the sources that come to mind are from deceased GAs like Widtsoe, BY, B.H. Roberts, Talmage, etc.)

  28. Ronan-
    Of course only gays don’t act this way. I’m just disturbed when carnality defines identity. Many of the homosexuals I’ve met (not all, but many) do not define themselves by what they believe in (religiously, philosophically) but rather what they do (have sex). It’s not enough to be Christian, you have to be a gay Christian. Maybe I need to get out of my British Columbia, Southern California, Front Range Colorado axis, but my experience has been like this.

    MikeInWeHo-
    Relationship with bro is not sub-optimal. I love my brother. I’m not out on a crusade to “change” him. We both admit our weaknesses, (varied as those may be) and that has created strength between us.

  29. Nate J.

    It’s interesting that most minorities define themselves, not by who they are, but what they are. Blacks and Hispanics call themselves, African Americans and Latino Americans. I think that homosexuals who define themselves as ‘gay Christians’ do so because society has stigmatized them with the label of ‘gay’.

    I think if homosexuality were openly accepted, this type of self-labeling would disappear.

  30. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 18 Ben, it was the first sentence in post 12 that troubled me. Again, try removing the word “homosexuality” and inserting “Judaism” or “Black culture” into that sentence and give it a re-read.

    Beyond that, he’s free to call his brother a prideful, selfish narcissist if he wants. Would be curious as to what his brother has to say about him!

    Additionally, to read something about homosexuality into 2 Timothy 3:2 is slanderous to gays (not to mention ironic!).

  31. Merrill,
    I’m with you. Most of my friends don’t take the Bible literally (though that didn’t happen til their mid 20s maybe?) In my ward, probably 75% believe it literally.

    I think it curious that we believe the Bible literally (generally as a culture/church) and then pick and choose what we believe is meant for us today in the text.

  32. I also think that it is interesting how people, President Kimball included, refer to homosexuality as ‘un-natural’. This is interesting for two reasons:

    1: Homosexuality is actually very natural and quite common in nature,

    and 2: Since when were Latter-Day Saints encouraged to be ‘natural’ by their leaders. I thought putting off the natural man was the goal…

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    Re: 2 Tim. 3:2, the expression “men shall be lovers of their own selves” does not allude to homosexuality. This introduces a list, a catalog, if you will, of qualities. These Pauline catalogs are almost always difficult to understand in the KJV, and are examples where reference to a more modern translation would be useful.

    In the language at issue, first of all rather than the specific “men,” better would be “people” (anthrOpoi is not meant here to be gender specific).

    The word rendered “lovers of their own selves” is a single word in Greek, philautoi. The phil- element means “lover of” (there are lots of English derivates that use this element; cf. Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love” from phil- + adelphos “brother”). The auto element means “self,” as in something that is automatic (it works by itself) or an automobile (it drives itself).

    The word doesn’t mean lovers of their own selves as a class (e.g., men loving men), but individuals loving themselves too much. A clearer rendering would be “self-centered; selfish.”

    This catalog in 3:2 begins with two words beginning with the phil- element “lovers of” and ends with two words beginning with that element in 3:4. This forms an inclusio and brackets the items in the catalog. Represented graphically,

    lovers of themselves
    lovers of money

    [bulk of catalog]

    loving pleasure rather than
    loving God

    (The inclusio is obscured a little bit in English, but it is there in Greek.)

  34. Amri,

    Really, any group of scriptural literalists picks and chooses the foci of its literalism. Ideological biases inform our interpretation of texts, after all, and sometimes that leads people to ignore bits of a book that don’t fit preexisting ideas. I believe there’s been some interesting sociological work on how this plays out in US Christian Fundamentalists, though I can’t site it off the top of my head. (Any help, anyone?)

  35. I think there are two quite opposed senses of natural. There is natural in the sense of natural law or the sense that entities in the world have a telos or purpose ordained by God. Then there is the sense of natural as fallen which by implication entails that they don’t achieve this telos. Unfortunately both are used in the scriptures and folks aren’t very careful about both uses.

    Certainly it is the case that homosexuality is very natural in the sense of being part of the natural order of biology. It’s found in most mammals, so far as I know. However it seems fair to say that this natural order of biology is not the ideal.

    The sense of natural as tied to the ideal is more common in the NT due to Hellenistic influences. Contrast this with say King Benjamin who uses natural in a very negative sense (although almost certainly in opposition to what we mean by natural in science.)

  36. Clark,

    I see your second definition represented in the scriptures fairly well, can you give me an example of where I might find the first?

  37. Kevin,

    Is it possible that those who translate anthrOpoi as men do so because it is preceded by oi, the masculine article? Obviously this is wrong, but maybe that is the genesis.

  38. BCC needs more posts about gays.

  39. Ed Snow says:

    Goofus–how about a post on concubinage? There’s an interesting Wilford Woodruf quote on that I’ve been dying to use somewhere and further develop.

    Now that Ronan has handled all of the difficult questions, I’ll handle any remaining items.

  40. Jared,

    To play devil’s advocate,

    1. Your second point refutes your first. We are encouraged to rise above many of the base, natural feelings and cravings

    which leads to:

    2. President Kimball’s reference was, I’m sure, in reference to the “natural” purpose for sex – to procreate.

    This is, ultimately, what the issue of homosexuality boils down to for me. When sex is stripped of its ultimate purpose of creating life, it loses a good portion of its meaning. Having sex for pleasure or to consumate a relationship is not bad. In fact, it is necessary. But only when done in conjunction with its other purpose – to multiply and replenish the earth. Without it, it moves closer in the arena of carnal fulfillment.

  41. I agree with Karl Popper that sacrificing other people’s happiness in the service of a transcendent ideal is immoral.

  42. I’d like to apologize for secularizing the discussion (among other things). Seem to get carried away when I’m looking at right wing political blogs in addition to these ones.

    What it really does come down to is what modern revelation has to say. Is D&C 132 a mandate for marriages of all types, or does the weight of the matter rest on the idea of eternal increase?

    Enough could be said about sealing, and how conception doesn’t matter, but rather that we are sealed one to another. I would agree.

    However, the idea of creating, and creating with God, as preparatory work for the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, carries with it the connotation of responsibility. Obviously there are going to be those who do not want that responsibility. Does that mean that they are sons of perdition? Of course not. Mormon theology would never allow it.

    Still, (without stepping on sensitive toes) the idea that this life prepares us for the next necessitates us getting used to the concepts and laws that govern God and His creations (If we still want to be gods someday).

  43. Nate,

    I totally agree that that’s what’s at stake. Still, gays are left in a theological limbo. They cannot, by nature, participate honestly in the act of eternal increase here on earth, and as we have discussed, nor does the Church expect this of them.

  44. Jared, good point. I’ll backtrack on my NT comment somewhat. Paul does appeal in many places to the Stoic notion of nature but he doesn’t use the word “nature” in that sense that I can see.

    The Stoics held that what was natural was what was appropriate in terms of the natural order. (This would be God although God is the living spirit of the entire universe and nothing like what we think of as God)

    Now I do recall that some of the uses of nature by Paul may be informed by the Stoic use. But I’d want to check my sources at home before explicitly saying that. (i.e. I’m not sure I trust my memory there) But I do seem to distinctly recall that the early chapters of Romans have a distinct Stoic flare. How much that relates to nature I’ll leave in abeyance for now. But I believe that Ronan’s discussion of Romans 1 and nature may be more the Stoic notion of nature.

  45. Rosalynde says:

    How about this: I think Mormonism’s principal theological problem with homosexuality is our embodied God, with his parts and passions—male parts, as it happens, and heterosexual passions. Inasmuch as homosexuals’ passions differ from God’s, they are disordered–not shaped in God’s image—but morally neutral, like a baby born with a single kidney. Inasmuch as this difference is cultivated rather than endured, however—that is, to the extent that one purposefully rejects God’s image—the morally neutral disordering becomes sinful.

    As it happens, I was not born in God’s exact image, either, and thus do not participate in certain Godlike functions: I was born a woman, and thus don’t hold the priesthood.

  46. Whoops. Typo. That first paragraph should have “he doesn’t use the word ‘nature’ explicitly in that sense.” That’s not a contradiction with the third paragraph simply because my point is that it’s not obvious but there are indirect arguments for the Greek influence.

    Hellmut, that’s simply because Popper denied the knowability of any world but this one. It’s a difficult position for any religious person to take.

  47. Rosalynde, you were however born in the image of mother-in-heaven who is fully God as much as Jesus or the Holy Ghost are fully God. So that’s a very difficult position to take.

  48. Kevin Barney says:

    Jared E. #37, you may be right about the origin of the “men” rendering and the definite article. I don’t know.

    The only translations that render “men” are the kind that try to be extra literal (such as YLT), those that are historically archaic (such as Wycliffe), and those in the Authorized Version tradition. In this latter category are:

    KJV
    ASV
    RSV
    NKJV

    But note that the most recent in the series, NRSV, uses “people,” not “men.”

    In contrast, almost every other modern translation uses “people.” The ones I was able to check at the Bible Gateway include:

    NIV
    NASB
    NET
    NLT
    ESV
    CEV
    NLV
    NIRV
    WE

    Of course, the problem is that the definite article does not work exactly the same way in Greek and English. For example, in Greek proper names often take an article, but they do not in English. (We do not, for instance, say “the Jared,” but we represent definiteness in our language by capitalization, which only helps in the printed word.)

    I suspect that the reason the article is present in the verse is that is is the “generic” article, indicating that the following noun represents a class; i.e., people in general. But I don’t know, being at work without any resources.

    My typical reaction when I see anthrOpoi in the plural, unless there is some limiting context, is to render generically “people” rather than “men.” An anEr is a man in contradistinction to a woman, whereas an anthrOpos is a man in contradistinction to plants, animals, things (i.e., a human). Thus, the word is naturally gender inclusive, and we can see this in its English derivative anthropology, which is not the study of men but the study of human beings.

  49. Kevin Barney says:

    Rosalynde, interesting that you should use the word “disordered.” While poking around the net I found the following book:

    Donald J. Wold, Out of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998).

    I’m guessing that the book may convey something of the concept you articulated.

  50. Leviticus 18:22 and the two others like it are really difficult. If you know Hebrew, you’ll know that the word for “man” appears only once in that verse. The other word is archaic and its meaning unknown, although, since Hebrew like many other languages requires nouns to have a gender, it definitely refers to something male-oriented. Many rabbinic scholars have used the verses prohibiting sex outside marriage to condemn homosexuality (and pre- or extra-marital sex), and ignore this Levitical verse for that purpose. Many think the unclear word refers to male temple prostitutes. In some of the smaller cultic religions of the time, a man would enter a temple (for that religion) and, as their way of achieving closeness to their gods, would have sex with the temple prostitute. Clearly, the idea of having sexual relations with anyone, male or female, outside of the bonds of marriage and to basically have sex with a god, would have been (and, to me at least, still is) abhorrent and blasphemous on the highest possible level. While no one is entirely sure if this is the correct interpretation of the verse, it is not clear what the verse really does mean because the word used there is used nowhere else and the meaning is not clear. Also, it is part of the Holiness Code, which is considered by many biblical scholars to have been written and kept separately from the rest of the Five Books of Moses, and then added in later. Of course, here I am only addressing a few verses of the Holiness Code, and not anything in the NT or D&C.

    Nate — I’m sorry about your brother. However, as a gay man, I can tell you that you just can’t group all of anything together. Yes, there are lots of gay men, usually over 35 or 40, who “came out” at a time when the only thing that defined who they were was who they had sex with, and many had lots of sex. But not everyone did. And those who are under 40 tend to be almost exactly the same as the general population when it comes to wanting to spend their life with just one person. Many are like me: Tired of being reduced to a three-letter word. I love my husband not because he is a man, I love him because of his heart, soul and mind. To us, it’s a marriage, not a gay marriage. We are two people who married because we love each other, not because of our appendages or lack thereof. Your brother is no more representative of all gay men than I am — or, for that matter, than you are.

  51. JamesP,

    I think to state that my #2 refutes #1 is hasty, and misses my point.

    First #2: Pres. Kimball refers to homosexuality as ‘crimes against nature’ but of course never explicitly defines what ‘nature’ is. Clark in post #35 begins to distinguish between uses of the word ‘nature’, but I don’t think Pres. Kimball had any of these hairsplitting ideas in mind when he wrote ‘The Miracle of Forgiveness’. When Pres. Kimball speaks of ‘nature’, he does so in the context of how men are to act ‘naturally’, i.e. sexual relations only with women. He quotes someone (who he does not identify) from the time of Henry VIII who refers to homosexuality as “the abominable and detestable crime against nature.” He ends his discussion on homosexuality by discussing how a person may come to be cured of the affliction. In other words, Pres. Kimball believes that there is no basis for homosexuality in the natural world. I am simply disagreeing with him.

    Now #1: I was simply pointing out the irony of the different uses of the word nature.

    The ‘natural man’ is a hedonistic man, who yields to his every passion. We are to bridle our natural passions, not completely suppress them. If homosexuality is a ‘natural passion’, why completely suppress it instead of bridling it as heterosexuals do through the institution of marriage?

  52. Kevin,

    I agree with most of what you say in #48, ‘gender’ of nouns doesn’t connote the same thing in Greek as in English, i.e. a masculine noun isn’t necessarily a male noun. but have a question about

    I suspect that the reason the article is present in the verse is that is the “generic” article, indicating that the following noun represents a class; i.e., people in general. But I don’t know, being at work without any resources.

    In Greek titles are usually preceded by the article, is the normally true of groups or classes also? Also, Oi is the masculine nominative plural, meaning it’s referring to a plural subject. What do you mean by ‘generic’ article?

  53. Kevin Barney says:

    Jared E.,

    When I’m at work and these kinds of things come up, I often look in the archives of the b-greek listserv, which I get in digest form. I didn’t find anything specific on the article in the passage under discussion, but I did find some stuff on this idea of a “generic” article. The specific example was the parable of the sower, which in English translations starts out “a sower,” but the Greek has a definite article, ho speirOn. We don’t render “the sower,” because the article is simply indicating that the sower is a member of a class (that of sowers). Apparently this is a well recognized use of the Greek definite article. I trust the guy who wrote about this; he was a long time professor at a theological seminary here in Chicago and a solid expert in NT Greek.

  54. “I don’t think Pres. Kimball had any of these hairsplitting ideas in mind when he wrote ‘The Miracle of Forgiveness’.”

    The Stoic idea of natural law was a pretty dispersed and important idea. So Pres. Kimball wasn’t likely aware of the ideas he was making use of (few of us are) but he was appealing to the Stoic idea that was especially revived in the Renaissance.

    That doesn’t mean those underlying ideas or structures which Pres. Kimball was using to convey an important view were right. But they are an important basis for the thinking of these issues in the West.

  55. Kevin Barney says:

    Here’s a little more on generic articles (I think it is safe to say this won’t end up being a threadjack!)

    In English when a noun is used to indicate class we use bare plurals:

    Dinosaurs are extinct

    Dogs are intelligent

    But in romance languages, Greek and Hungarian definite plurals are used in these contexts.

    Here are some NT examples. I’ve highlighted the words that have definite articles in Greek:

    foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests (Mt. 8:20)

    husbands, love your wives (Eph. 5:25)

    children, opey your parents (Eph. 6:1.

    Other examples in Ephesians appear at 5:22, 6:5 and 6:9.

    So that is why the definite article preceding anthrOpoi in 2 Timothy 3:2 is left untranslated in every English version I checked.

  56. Is this the appropriate place for this? Nightline is doing a segment on gays and the Mormon Church tonight. It’s on ABC, check on local times. Some of my friends/their parents got interviewed for it. They said the interviewer was friendly, complimentary, and very nice and then suddenly she would turn on you and say how do you feel about your children not being able to go to heaven? Doesn’t that make you hate the Mormon church?

    It should be high quality TV, fo sho.

  57. Elisabeth says:

    Hold on, who said anything about homosexuals not going to heaven? Even among Mormons who believe homosexuality is a serious sin, I think Mormons still believe in the atonement covering all sins. No?

  58. Thanks for the info Kevin, that really makes a lot of sense. I’m still fairly new at the whole greek thing. Where do you access the b-greek listserv?

  59. Mike, I get the impression you’re paraphrasing something.

    I’m not sure what other two references your referring to besides Lev. 18:22 (20:13 perhaps?), but I know Hebrew fairly well. Neither passage in Leviticus has any archaic or unusual terms, and are fairly clear, explicit even, that homosexual intercourse constitutes a to’evah, or abomination. You are apparently thinking of the qedoshim, who used to be thought of as “temple prostitutes” but this word does not figure in either of the Leviticus passages.

    (In any case, the whole idea of ritualized intercourse carried out in Israelite or Canaanite shrines has been put severely into doubt. See my lengthy comment on the nice Sodom and Gomorrah thread at T&S.)

    The dating of the Holiness Code, while demonstrably edited late, is highly debated. The date of editing doesn’t bear on whether it is “original” or not.

  60. Steve H says:

    Marriage should not be viewed as a way to resolve homosexual problems.

    This is different from saying that homesxual problems can’t be dealt with, and that those who deal with them properly can’t be married and involved in increase in this life. The issue, an unpopular one right now, is whether someone can get over being gay. The essentialist argument says that gays can’t change: They’re just that way and they need to learn to deal with it. Others would argue that change can happen–that homsexuality, whether hereditary to some degree or not, is also related to life experience, and in dealing with that life experience one who is homosexual can deal with the situation. This doesn’t simply mean that you ask someone to “cultivate” heterosexual feelings. It does mean that thereare ways to help people realize why they feel the way they do, and that can help them to realize that they can have fulfilling heterosexual relationships. We might then ask how a woman can feel safe marrying such a man (or the other way around). We might also, however, ask how one could feel safe marrying someone who had a pornography addiction, or who was a car thief, or had an alchohol or drug addiction. At what point are we willing to cut folks off as unmarriageable?

  61. MikeInWeHo says:

    So much of this discussion gets distorted because both sides typically come into it with an either-or mindset. You’re either homosexual or heterosexual.

    My first boyfriend back in college almost two decades ago is clearly bisexual. He’s dated men and women. We’re best friends now and he’s a very successful MD. He just got engaged to a woman. I (the ex-boyfriend) will be the Best Man. Best of all, everybody including his fiancee is fine with it. Fortunately we’re all basically secular so in the end we get some laughs and move on with life. His fiancee is a brilliant woman and seems to have no trouble embracing his past. I think certain ex-girlfriends worry her a lot more than I do.

    My point here is this: In a highly religious context, my bisexual ex- could easily be held up as someone who had overcome homosexuality. Sometimes he teases me and says he’s going to join the Church and do just that!

  62. Elisabeth says:

    Mike – this is off topic (and hopefully not rude), but how does the gay community (such as it is) generally view bisexuals? One of my gay acquaintances told me once that he was probably bi, but he didn’t want to tell his gay friends for fear that they wouldn’t take him seriously once they found out that he was interested in women as well. His comment struck me because there doesn’t seem to be much of a bisexual “community” – so even if people are attracted to both men and women, it’s difficult for them to find acceptance with either group. (I think the bisexual identity is easier for women, but that’s just my opinion).

  63. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 62 I can’t speak for the gay subculture, which spans the entire socio/political/economic spectrum. My little corner of the world is populated with over-educated egghead yuppies who have no problem with the idea of bisexuality.

    I have heard others express what your friend mentioned, though. In such a polarized social climate, there isn’t much room for bisexuality. Also, a lot of gays start calling themselves bisexual en route to just coming out as gay. Maybe that is one reason why bisexuals get so little credibility. I’ve heard the expression: “Bisexual today, gay six months from now.” That’s hardly a supportive stance toward someone who might genuinely be attracted to both genders.

    Here’s a Gay Joke that GAYS tell:

    What’s the difference between a straight man and a bisexual?

    A six-pack.

    (Hope that doesn’t get me ex-d from BCC!)

  64. Kevin Barney says:

    Jared E., go to this link for b-greek:

    http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/

    Ben, I looked the verses up on the blue letter bible when I was still at the office, and I had the same question you do. I didn’t see what the archaic word was.

    Mike, this is the reason that I always look askance at claims of cure. They don’t take into account where they were in the first place along the Kinsey scale. “Curing” a bisexual is a totally different kettle of fish that curing someone from the end of the scale, not the middle.

  65. Elisabeth says:

    Maybe bisexuals aren’t credible because they seem to be “choosing” their sexual orientation, while homosexuals prefer to think of sexuality as an immutable characteristic (or at least a strong genetic disposition)? Or not? I’m just wondering.

    And it’s going to take a lot more than a joke to get you banned from BCC!

  66. Matt Thurston says:

    Literal, end-all-be-all appeals to the Bible don’t impress me much. Not only are we dealing with words written hundreds, if not thousands of years after the fact, words that have further been diluted and/or wholly rewritten via endless translations, but we are also talking about words that are so crystal clear as to have spawned tens of thousands different religions all with varying degrees of interpretation of said words.

    I’m not saying we throw out the Bible, I’m just saying its track record as an end-all-be-all final word on a host of other issues is pretty poor. Its power to spiritual transform is as evident as its power to divide and prejudice.

    As for Nate Oman’s real issue, “…what does one do with sections 131 and 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. These are the sections that link the concept of exaltation with the concept of marriage.”

    Yawn. We can incoporate (or rationalize, accept, etc.) polygamy, polyandry, (and any other poly) into the concept of exaltation but we can’t incorporate homosexuality? I can think of a host of things to say re Oman’s “real issue”, but the one that is most palatable to faithful mormons is the concept of “continuing revelation”. DOM, JFS, HBL, MEP, BRM, ETB, etc. opinions on Blacks/Priesthood ran the gamut from “concern” to “over my dead body”, but SWK reversed their varying opinion (or at least those who had not become “dead bodies”, that is) with one (not so) well-timed, but appropriate revelation. I’m sure many Mormons bucked the party line pre-1978 and prayed for such a revelation; can we faithfully dissent and not support the current First Presidency party line on Gay Marriage and pray for a new revelation?

    In my opinion, Robert Rees’s appeals to the Bible on Homosexual issues are more relevant and they also confirm my statement that the Bible, though often muddled and vague, still has the power to spiritually transform:

    See:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~ldsresources/leaders/no_more_strangers.html

    And:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~ldsresources/leaders/rejoice.html

  67. #46 Clark, Popper’s political theory postulates intellectual humility. Religious people are well advised to embrace that attitude.

    Certainty legitimizes coercion. Doubt requires tolerance.

    One only needs to read McConkie, for example, to realize how many things we do not believe any longer that our forbears considered certain truth. The Journal of Discourses provides an even more impressive example of the same effect.

    The most important benefit of faith in God is the realization of our own limitations. In spite of its practical relevance, revelation does not essentially change that.

  68. In discussions of whether we should live by Leviticus, one thing that is not often mentioned is that Letiticus was originally written to apply only to the priests, not the whole of Israel. Rabbi Gershon Caudill explains:

    The text of the Book of Leviticus was originally written as instructions for the priestly tribe, and refered to PRIESTLY prohibitions only, and not to the everyday rank and file Israelite sexual practices.

    During Ezra’s time period (5th century BCE) this text of Leviticus was then edited to apply to all Jews, who were now to be a “nation of kings and priests.” The original name of the Book of Leviticus (which name comes from the Greek Septuagint) was in Hebrew “SEFER TORAT KOHANIM” (The Instructions of the Priestly Officiants).

    At the link above Rabbi Gershon also discusses the Hebrew Bible texts often used to condemn homosexuality.

  69. Ronan- thanks for the post, I find this discussion to be very benefiscial. I have learned a lot.

    #66- thanks for bringing Nate’s point back into the discussion. I think LDS theology has more riding on the homosexual issue than other Christian traditions. Since Mormons believe that God is married, the symbol of a Father and Mother in heaven has become a staple metaphor in our current understanding of the plan of salvation. I am not taking a stand on the issue right now, but I am pointing out that this issue cuts very deep into most people’s theological framework.

    If gay marriage is acceptable then patriarchy is not necessary, the ‘mother in heaven’ doctrine comes under a new understanding, and the idea of “increase” as sexual reproduction is challenged. I am not saying that any of these views are correct, but what I do want to say is that the contemporary Mormon has a lot at stake.

    I think this issue forces us to examine, not only the biblical foundations for this view, but also the symbols we use in understanding God’s role in the human family.

  70. Steve H says:

    69 and responses along its lines seem to posit that most members of the church, including, and especially, the brethren, have fundamentally misunderstood most of the important doctrines of the restoration. No way am I jumping on that train. It seems to me that Nate’s “issue” is that he assumes the prophets have been somewhere close to correct doctrine–not much of an issue for me.

  71. Appealing to procreation to determine what type of sex is moral is problematic because church leaders (at least recently) have strayed from the sex-only-for-procreation idea and have encouraged sex in marriage for the sake of love and pleasure.

    Furthermore, appealing to divine mother and fatherhood seems just as problematic unless one is willing to believe that human spirits are conceived through sexual intercourse, using some sort of spiritual DNA, and requiring gestatation and maybe vaginal birth. Imagine being a divine mother propped up in a birthing chair giving birth to children without number.

  72. Elizabeth #62 — Bisexuals are, unfortunately, often looked down upon by many gays. I guess no one is immune from black and white, either-or thinking. A couple of years ago there was a wonderful cover story in Newsweek on bisexuality. I’ll always remember what one person said: “I don’t love a gender, I love a person.” Common views on sexuality have changed dramatically throughout history, and we’re now at a point where we’re enamored of the terms “heterosexual” and “homosexual” (or straight and gay or whatever). Many of the straight Muslim men I work with who are from the Middle East hold hands as they walk down the street here in Washington because that’s what friends do where they are from. It was not terribly uncommon up until Freud for two men or two women to share a bed together, and to hold each other, without thinking that it was anything more than friendship. Some people think of sexuality (as in heterosexuality and homosexuality) purely in terms of sex, but most people know that there is an emotional essence to their sexuality, that heterosexual men don’t just desire women sexually, they desire them romantically and emotionally. And homosexual men desire men romantically and emotionally, too. We also know pretty well that, for instance, if you are a heterosexual, odds are that you have no clue how anyone could feel sexually, romantically and emotionally drawn to a person of the same sex — and most gays don’t understand how straights can be drawn to the opposite sex — because it’s not who they are and beyond the capacity of most people to understand. The same holds true for bisexuals: “Pure” straights and gays can rarely fathom how someone can love people differently than we do ourselves, so the idea that someone can love another person because of who they are and not what their sex is is a difficult concept to accept, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t as real a love as our own.

  73. #69 That’s a fascinating post, Johnny. I especially enjoyed how elegantly you formulated the connections of ideas.

    Anyways, I was wondering how you relate these concepts to the fact that we actually talk very little of mother in heaven these days? Isn’t the doctrine of mother in heaven an asset that eases transitions beyond patriarchy?

  74. Elisabeth says:

    #72 – Thanks for your response. I think sexuality isn’t necessarily an either/or proposition for many people, but people really are forced into one camp or the other because there seems to be no acceptable “middle ground.” However, as Mike in #63 says, perhaps we are moving towards appreciating different levels of sexual interest between (among?) the genders.

    I loved what you said about sexuality here:

    Some people think of sexuality (as in heterosexuality and homosexuality) purely in terms of sex, but most people know that there is an emotional essence to their sexuality, that heterosexual men don’t just desire women sexually, they desire them romantically and emotionally.

    I think our society has destroyed an integral and very special part of human relationships by sexualizing even the most casual romantic/emotional feelings for another person.

  75. Matt Thurston says:

    Hellmut (#67): Well said: “The most important benefit of faith in God is the realization of our own limitations. In spite of its practical relevance, revelation does not essentially change that.”

    This is why, like Steve H. (#70), the Bible, D&C 131 and 132 just isn’t much of an issue for me. Such scriptures have spiritual value as a means of drawing closer to God, as historical value as a means of lessons learned (both in terms of what to do and what NOT to do), but not as a final-word blue print for the present and future.

  76. Steve H- I don’t think that my comment presupposed that members have a fundamental misunderstanding of important doctrines. I was merely trying to investigate how fundamental and important the ideas I listed are. I think these ideas are implicit in our discussion and I was trying to bring them to the fore to see if they really do have a necessary connection to our opinion on gay marriage. For example, if someone is skeptical that eternal increase requires sexual reproduction does that really destroy the concept of eternal marriage? If these connections are contingent then they may not play the fundamental role we think. If they are necessary then they serve as important premises in the justification of the official position. Either way it is important to make these ideas explicit so we can discuss them.

    Hellmut- I think the concept of mother in heaven can serve to ease the transition beyond patriarchy. However, I think it can also be used just as strongly to reinforce patriarchy. I find that one’s understanding of the Mother in Heaven doctrine has a lot more to do with other theological/philosophical commitments one has, since there is not a common discourse about Her. Although I think that if a discourse was developed it would probably not bode well for patriarchy.

    I do think though, that the gay marriage issue does raise some questions about Mother in Heaven. If gay marriage is legitimate in the fullest sense then it raises the question of whether or not we really do have or need a Mother in Heaven. I find this interesting because some of the more “liberally” minded people who see the need for Mother in Heaven also have more liberal views of gay marriage. I definitely see a tension there. I know these questions are way off the mainstream discussion, I just find that it has an interesting relationship to the debate.

  77. Julie M. Smith says:

    re #68–not true. Various sections are clearly labelled as to whether they apply just to priests, just the high priest, or everyone. Ch 18 is clearly for everyone.

  78. Are Christians willing to take all of the Holiness Code as morally binding today?

    Gee, they had that discussion in Acts, about what to keep and what to reject. Most people who revisit the question seem to assume that we need to ignore what happened when they went over the issues and got guidance.

    loving pleasure rather than
    loving God

    Many of the issues in our society involve seeking fulfillment. I’ve an ex-brother-in-law who felt he needed to have a big busted blond in his life, so he left his wife (and their six children) for one. He is still with her (unlike his wife, her hair bleaches out well). I won’t get into Albert Walles who is another ex-brother-in-law in my extended family.

    But when you look at all the men who discard their wives for younger editions, you are capturing that focus.

    I’m not drawing direct conclusions because I’m not sure they are correct, but the factors influence Church leaders who deal with issues like this over and over again.

    you just can’t group all of anything together

    Very, very true.

    BTW, there is a lot of semantic contamination going on, which creates all sorts of problems.

  79. “1: Homosexuality is actually very natural and quite common in nature,”

    Not quite “quite common”. And the reasons for it? Unknown. For exampmle, with all the dumping of chemicals into the rivers/ oceans, and dolphins so often close to shore, is it any wonder sometimes that it might be thought an aberration? Also, is it possible that “nature” sins?

    I don’t think the Church will ever change on homosexuality. It’s thinking might, and it has.

    But what differentiates homosexuality from any other sin? Is it possible that ALL sin (or even some) is equally grounded in genes, environment, etc.? I would like to hear arguments that homosexuality is somehow different and nonrelated, and needs to be understood and treated differently than other sins.

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