Nicolyn I was curious what the gnostic interpretation of the gospel was? I was talking about this with some friends last night, the fact that most churches, among protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, etc believe the same core things about Jesus, I would say there are slight nuances and minor differences but the core beliefs are the same. What does gnostics believe that is different. It might be more appropriate to start another thread, so I might do that in order to keep this one from going in another direction...
Orientation isn't the same as lustful thinking. Desire isn't the same thing as wallowing in that desire. It's a sin to covet your neighbor's wife, or indeed your neighbor, not to feel an involuntary attraction towards that person (which is really outside anyone's control, short of castrating oneself... presumably... although I'm not really up on the psychological effects of castration). I doubt any conservative Christian teachers mean to imply that it's OK for people to deliberately fantasise about illicit partners (of either sex).
Having read this thread, I'll add a few thoughts of my own...
1. I'm honestly not sure what I think about gay marriage, because I'm not sure what I think about the state's role in marriage in general. I do think there should be protections in place to ensure kids get cared for, and partners don't end up financially taken advantage of, but it's possible those things could be legislated for in a way that was totally separate from marriage. I can also see a benefit to the government by cohabiting couples, simply due to it being more ecologically sound (like carpooling), but there need be no sexual component to the relationship for that... so! It's a knotty question.
2. I object to a belief I often see in this debate (which may have been implied in this thread, I'm not sure) that Christians should leave their Christian beliefs out of their voting habits. If a Christian feels homosexual sex is sin and the legalisation of gay marriage would mean his tax dollars were funding sin, which would presumably make him uncomfortable, then he should be able to vote against gay marriage. Separation of church and state does not mean that religious people should be bullied into adopting a fundamental disconnect within their worldviews and "vote like an atheist" (or more precisely a secular humanist, which seems to be the worldview du jour). The idea that the USA is a Christian nation is tendentious, but it's certainly not officially a secular humanist nation either; so it's absurd to imply that citizens ought to put aside their beliefs and vote according to someone else's. And yes, this does mean that some religiously-motivated policies might influence law. That's what happens in a democracy comprised largely of religious people.
On a related note, Christians - at least ones with a decent grasp of philosophy - don't just use their Christianity when it comes to voting on contentious issues like abortion and gay marriage. They use that same worldview to shape their views on the legality of murder, tax fraud, food adulterants... and because most non-religious people agree with them, that's not seen as a problem. It seems to me that that's inconsistent. If Christians should "leave the Bible out" of their politics on gay marriage, they should leave the Bible out of their opinion on the morality of rape as well. Which, for certain Christians, is philosophically problematic, to say the least.
3. I agree wholeheartedly with PPs that thinking something is a sin does not equate to hating or ill-treating those who perform that sin. I happen to think Christians should be the last people to sneer at gay people, use derogatory terms and so on. (Also, people who lambast Christians for being "bigots" for thinking homosexuality is a sin, and yet routinely use "You're gay" as an insult, mock gay people and make limp-wrist signs at people who annoy them in traffic... yeah, not cool. On many levels.)
4. I also agree with PPs that the gay issue is usually taken way out of context - by both sides of the debate - of the whole Biblical picture of sexuality. Let's face it, Biblically speaking, most sexual acts are sinful! Even sex between a husband and wife (even in a Protestant non-quiver-full rubric, in which contraception is generally permitted) runs the risk of being sinful if the parties are being selfish/manipulative/secretly fantasising about someone else, which probably happens a lot more than we'd like to admit. I don't think demonising homosexual sex and being more or less OK with, say, an engaged Christian couple living together, is reflective of Biblical morality so much as social mores. Most Christians know people who have gotten divorced on unbiblical grounds, slept around, withheld sex from a partner out of spite, etc, and we can generally wrap our minds around the concept that those people don't have horns and a tail - possibly because we've done those things ourselves. Just because we may not have been tempted to sleep with a woman doesn't mean the woman who has is any more sinister than the woman who's been tempted to sleep with her married handyman or Harrison Ford.
5. WRT a previous post... Paul did not say "slavery is OK". Also, lesbianism is mentioned in Romans 1 - I know there are those who say it refers to heterosexual women sleeping with women, but I don't think that's very good exegesis.
If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.
I know the OP was back in June (and hopefully the conversation with your MIL has progressed beyond impasse). but I found this article on homosexuality & the Bible to be helpful, clear, and non-confrontational. maybe another poster will, also.
(About the source website: "Soulforce is committed to relentless nonviolent resistance to bring freedom to lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender, and queer people from religious & political oppression.")
Um, I wouldn't recommend that article. His exegesis is at times appalling. For instance...
Say what? I can only assume the "seeing one's parents nude" thing comes from the story of Noah, in which one of his sons was punished for laughing at his father's nakedness. No prohibitions on seeing parents nude in general; it's not mentioned. Birth control? Well, a minority of Christians oppose it based on texts like "children are a blessing from the Lord", but I'd hardly call that a "strict prohibition" again, it's not mentioned. "Discussing or even naming a sexual organ"? OK, I have no idea where that comes from. The Bible mentions sexual organs. Polygamy is never condoned by God; it's mentioned as a historical fact, along with the negative consequences that almost invariably came from it. And to say "The Bible said Solomon was wise - the Bible says Solomon had many wives - therefore the Bible considers Solomon's many wives to be acceptable" is just illogical, especially when it's explicitly stated that Solomon's love for idol-worshipping women led him astray.
What else? Sex with prostitutes is condemned for both men and women, so that's just plain wrong. "Marriage of girls aged 11-13" - well, as far as I know the Bible doesn't actually name the ages of women married, but yes, it was a lot younger than people marry today. Back then, girls typically married at puberty - which would probably have been more like 13-15, surely? Isn't puberty at 11 a fairly recent phenomenon? It was a totally different cultural context, and not at all the same as marrying an 11-year-old would be today. So if he's trying to imply that the Bible is somehow pro-child molesting..? I don't know. It's an ignorant thing to say, anyway. "Treatment of women as property" is debatable, again; he doesn't back up his statements, so it's hard to know what he means. Same with "slavery and sex with slaves" - is he familiar with what slavery entailed in biblical times? On what are his objections based?
And so on. I don't have time to go through the whole article, unless anyone desperately wants me to; but this guy, despite his "I'm honestly approaching the Scriptures and everyone else is blinded by bias" line, is either NOT knowledgeable about the Bible, or not honest about it. He's being a polemicist, but not a Biblical scholar.
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....and so long as gays who join in civil unions are afforded the same rights under the law as married couples enjoy.
yeah that! This is where we are currently at in Canada, with gay marriage being legal and provided by justice of the peace, etc, and I hope this doesn't change. Our own church (Anglican) currently allows for the church to bless the marriage of gays married in a civil service, which is a step in the right direction, in my opinion. However, I think the most important thing is the civil, legal support of gay marriage. Individual religions should feel free to respectfully practice their religion as they see fit, and should not have to provide gay marriages, as belonging to the religion and its tenets is the choice of the individual. The onus is on the government to protect the civil liberties of gays and afford them the same rights as everyone else.
lilyka, in response to your post. I don't know enough about American law to know what the differences in treatment to common law partners are. In Canada, common law partners have very similar rights. In fact, DH and I lived years common law before legal marriage, and before I had a legal divorce to my ex husband (I could have forced the issue earlier, but I allowed him time to be willing to have the divorce, himself), and still my husband and I had very similar rights to a married couple in terms of entitlement to property, what would happen if one of us died, pensions, benefits, etc. That being said, what was a civil union at the time made a big difference to us. It felt good to recognize and celebrate our union and commitment to each other. I think with all the struggles of gay couples, it must feel very special for them to be legally married. And while I wouldn't want to see "penalties" for single or child free couples, their needs may be different at times. Recognizing a common law or civil union provides for things like bereavement leave if a partner dies, or allowing a division of worldly goods if there is a dissolution of the partnership. If unions were left entirely to churches, those wanting to celebrate their union would both have to conform to the values of the church. I am Christian but my husband is pretty much Agnostic, despite spending his formative years in a German Catholic school and currently working in a religious hospital, he is not a believer in a way that he could stand before people of faith and pronounce his dedication to it in good conscience. He still felt that getting legally married was pretty special even thought he didn't have a religious requirement for it.
And as to Biblical interpretation of this issue: It's important to realize that the translation affects reading, and some things don't even translate. This year, I just figured out that in Greek there are three words for love and they tell you context, but in English we have the one. Simple matters like that. There are also historical and cultural contexts to take into consideration. For example, child prostitution by young boys (or forced on young boys) was more overt. Even correctly translated, some practices may have had connections to other issues we are not considering with a modern mind. And, there was an ever evolving Jewish law at play, too, with early Christians being in a no-mans land where they were frequently both Jewish (by birth) and Christian by choice. Very learned scholars in history and theology have trouble sorting this stuff out, so I think using a Bible reading as a blanket condemnation of a whole section of the population is a very dangerous thing. How much kinder, more just, and safer to follow Jesus' commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves and leave out the judgement.
Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!
I don't understand why the same people who have a huge issue with the government allowing gay marriage don't picket the courthouse when Justices of the Peace perform other types of secular marriage. If marriage is "a sacred thing given by God that must be 'protected' from the sinful abuses of homosexuality," shouldn't they be just as mad that my husband and I are living together under pretense of marriage without the blessing of a clergyman? Our JP asked if we wanted the God stuff or not, which is funny, because really she's not sanctioned by any church to put it in...
(Sorry to be a little off topic/sideways of topic from your original post Koalamom!)
I do think it's weird that your MIL chose that particular story as her proof that the bible is against homosexuality. I think it's a common thing though. It seems wild to me the number of people who are willing to base their opinions and life choices on a book they aren't actually that familiar with. I'm well studied in the Bible, I thought of several of the previous posters' examples right away, it's not like it isn't in there, just not really where she's citing it. I've also recently read somewhere that a number of sayings/proverbs that are secular in origin or lines from sermons or hymns are held up as biblical quotes in general. I'm sure Benjamin Franklin would be mortified to know that he's constantly having his byline stolen by God...
I also agree with a pp--
The Bible says a lot of things. People seem perfectly happy to pick on Gay Marriage without storming the garment district to demand an end to multi-fiber fabrics, staging boycotts to keep grocery stores from stocking unclean foods, or insisting that their neighbors be punished for having a field with more than one type of crop growing in it. I for one am a firm believer in companion crops, AND gay marriage.
That strawman has already been addressed in this thread.
If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.
I don't understand why the same people who have a huge issue with the government allowing gay marriage don't picket the courthouse when Justices of the Peace perform other types of secular marriage. If marriage is "a sacred thing given by God that must be 'protected' from the sinful abuses of homosexuality," shouldn't they be just as mad that my husband and I are living together under pretense of marriage without the blessing of a clergyman?
Nope. Because their issue is not who does the marrying or where it takes place. Plenty of Christians go the JP route. AFAIK, there are no Biblical instructions for Christians about the mode or methodology of a wedding, though there's plenty of instruction about behavior before and after marriage. It is the participants in the marriage that is an issue for those who oppose gay marriage. And the issue of homosexuality itself. Anything outside of male+female in marriage is a problem.
I will give you that the focus is inordinately on homosexuality, and that Christian churches often excuse or brush under the rug other expressions of sexuality that are technically illegitimate in their beliefs. However, were that hypocrisy to be resolved, I doubt it would make the anti-gay marriage opinion any more acceptable to those who are pro. It's existence just provides ammunition, and rightfully so, against those who are perceived as hypocritical and self-righteous.
I was lead to believe, well at least through my own translations of reading the bible, that it was soddemy not homosexuality which is the sin. The reason being reproduction is unattainable through this method of intimacy. If Christians actually lived by the word of Jesus, I may like them little more lol, the dude had some not bad suggestions for living life.
However, the bible may lead some to believe that gayness (no offence intended) is wrong, but that incest (no offence intended) is right...so...it is a scary f*cki*ng book that should be well avoided by all...
My view...put what you want where you want as long as where you are putting it wants it there too :D lol
I promise not to set your words in stone as I realise change is the key to our throne.
This is one problem with every discussion on the subject. In the broadest sense, it is always fornication which is the sin where any sexual act is forbidden. Neither Scripture nor Christian tradition contain the concept that "gayness" or homosexuality (as a character trait) is a sin. At most, it is a characteristic which might make it more of a burden for a person to remain chaste.
The reason being reproduction is unattainable through this method of intimacy.
Christians in some denominations may disagree, but I see absolutely no basis for that. If that were the case, sterile or post-menopausal married people would be sinning by sleeping together, while fertile adulterous couples would be less guilty than those using contraception. The likelihood of reproduction does not effect the sinfulness of a given sex act. The central, almost the only guideline for Christians is that people can have sex only with their own spouses.
I am very much in the learning phase of trying to understand about how homosexuals are viewed by the church. I attend a church where 50% of the congregation believe that homosexuality is wrong period and that there should be no gay clergy or gay marriage. The other 50% think that we're all sinners and God loves us all, and frankly they are angered that homosexuals have been marginalized for so long.
Is is possible that Christians don't like gays because it's an "easy" sin to focus on? Most people aren't gay (90%?) and so don't feel the personal pinch of the sin the same way that they do for other sins (like not honoring your mother and father or coveting your neighbors wife). Do you see how it is easier to persecute someone who struggles with something you've never struggled with? Christians can't wage a war against lying, it is too widespread! Homosexuality is a sin only a small number have to cope with.
I was told in Sunday school certain sexual acts are sinful and because gay/lesbians generally participate in those "certain" acts then that is what makes them sinful. Don't worry I was also told that numerous times in numerous different churches. I think because it doesn't actually say GAY is SIN, interpretations are all they have to go by. Though I have had a pastor tell me that it does say it. When he read the passages... it didn't actually say it. It could be interpreted many different ways.
I really don't care though, I was also taught that every sin is the same sin in the eyes of god. You can't get me on what is MORE of a sin. We all sin, we just like to feel better about ourselves and if someone continuously sins... lie, fornicate, ogle the neighbors wife... then there you go! We're all rotten we just don't want to admit it.