Biblical Ethics and Sexuality

A couple of times lately I mentioned to people that I’d try to write something vaguely coherent about the Bible and sexuality – in particular about homosexual relationships. Were the Bible writers simply writing within their culture? Now that attitudes to sexuality are changing, can Christian attitudes change with it?

I’ve been putting off writing this because, to be honest, it’s a massive topic and it’s one in which there’s plenty of scope for hurt and disagreement. In order to do full justice to all the Biblical verses on homosexuality you’d need to write a book (such as this one, which someone has kindly already written…) What I’m going to do in this post is try and do a very brief, bird’s-eye-view of the Bible’s view on sexuality without going into too much detail.

Please note that I’m not trying to offer here a pastoral response to dealing with homosexuality or same-sex attraction. I’m not in any way condoning homophobic behaviour. This is simply examining the issue of what the Bible says about sexuality, not how to respond to it in a practical situation.

First things first: creation. All Christians are ‘creationist’, in the sense that all Christians believe that God created the world. Genesis 1-2 tells the story.[1] In particular, if you read Genesis 2 you see that Adam (the name literally means ‘mankind’) is lonely and God creates a suitable ‘helper’ for him – a woman. (The translation ‘helper’ may be a bit inadequate, but let’s leave that aside for this post). It culminates in v24, where the narrator says “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” 

A couple of things to note here: firstly, there is something poetic about the way that the one man, Adam, becomes two: the woman is taken from his very being. And yet, in the marriage relationship, they become one. One, becomes two, becomes one. There is something fundamental about the marriage relationship which is straight from the order of creation. The second thing is, this is an institution which begins before the Fall. How many aspects of being human can we say that about? Marriage is so fundamental that it is actually given before the Fall of Genesis 3.

I think it’s important to start off looking at creation because it’s a counter to the question of cultural context. If God’s intention was always marriage in this way, it can’t ever be a matter of cultural context.

Secondly, this view of marriage is actually affirmed by Jesus. People often point out that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, which is true – but he did mention marriage. In Matthew 19:1-11 (a passage which also has parallels in Mark and Luke) Jesus is asked whether it is permissible for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus answers them:

‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

So, here Jesus affirms the creation institution of marriage. Jesus takes the a question about the Law from the Pharisees and turns it around: they were asking whether it was permitted in the Law to divorce, whereas Jesus flips it around and looks at it from another angle: “Forget the law for a moment, what was the intention of God, from the beginning?” Which I think is a helpful approach when it comes to relationships.

Thirdly, the Bible never talks about sexual orientation. I think orientation is a fairly modern concept, I don’t know what people in Biblical times would have made of it. What matters is not who you’re attracted to, because we cannot change that – but instead, what you do with that attraction. I’ll come back to this shortly.

Finally, we come to the passages in the Bible specifically dealing with homosexuality. I don’t want to go through every passage (you can see a list and read them here), but there are a few things I’d like to say more generally.

  • With regards to the prohibition in Leviticus: many people question whether it’s right to take Leviticus as authoritative when it comes to sexuality, given that it contains so many other commands which are not relevant to us today. It’s a valid question, but a full answer would involve a whole separate blog post (or book) – but for me I think the key is in relating Leviticus to the rest of the Bible. The New Testament also prohibits homosexual conduct – the witness of Scripture is consistent on that point. It’s not that we have Leviticus saying one thing and the New Testament saying another.[2]
  • There are no examples in the Bible where a same-sex, sexual relationship is commended in any circumstances.[3]
  • It’s very important to note that the Bible never makes homosexuality a ‘red-letter’ sin. In other words, it is simply seen as a sin amongst other things which are also sinful. ALL sexual behaviour outside of a heterosexual, lifelong relationship is sinful and falls short of God’s ideal. It’s not that God is simply “picking on the gays”.
  • Homosexuality, and other sin, is seen as a consequence of the Fall – mankind’s rebellion against God. Because the Fall affected everything, because mankind are now essentially enemies of God, creation has been affected. Our own desires have been affected: all I need to do to prove this is look at myself. So much of the time, for example, I know that I care about myself more than I do about other people. My desire is not to do the right thing all the time, sometimes my desire is to do the wrong thing. This is most clearly expressed in the passage from Romans 1: people stopped worshipping God, so God gave them over to “whatever shameful things their hearts desired“. In other words, the Bible sees homosexuality – and all other sin – as a consequence of our turning away from God and worshipping ourselves instead of Him. Our own desires are fallen and can lead us astray, which is why we need God’s word to help us know what He desires.

In conclusion, my belief is that the Bible does not condone any sexual behaviour which is outside God’s design for marriage – sex within a committed, lifelong, relationship between one man and one woman. Both the Old and New Testaments witness to the sanctity of marriage, and teaching about homosexuality fits within this overarching context.

I do appreciate that in this post I’ve barely scratched the surface of the matter – there are many other things you could say (for example, looking at how marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church). There are a few books which you might appreciate for further reading; maybe start with “Is God Anti-Gay?” by Sam Allberry – it’s fairly short and very cheap! Sam is a Christian minister and someone who experiences same-sex attraction, so he should know what he’s talking about.

[1] Note: I don’t want to get sidetracked by issues around creation / evolution – suffice it to say for the purposes of this blog post I want to look at what Genesis teaches us theologically and leave it there.

[2] Understanding the purpose of the laws in Leviticus is not an easy task – there are disagreements in the Theological College I attend over the exact nature and purpose of the Law and its relevance to Christians today. However, it is important to note that the Law was given to a specific people at a specific time for a purpose – setting the Israelites apart from other nations. That does not mean that we are free to disregard the entire Law, or that we have to keep all of it. But it does mean some hard study is required to get to the bottom of it. As I said, the key for me is how those passages on sexuality fit in with the wider Biblical teaching.

[3] Some people claim that the relationship between David and Jonathan is a sexual one, which is commended. I’d say that was speculative at best – there is no real evidence for this, and it seems to me wildly inconsistent for the Bible to prohibit same-sex relationships in the Law while simultaneously commending such a relationship a bit later on.

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33 thoughts on “Biblical Ethics and Sexuality

  1. Indeed God is not picking on the gays. You are.

    A man is united to his wife, and the two become one flesh. That God-given union: what you do not acknowledge is that God joins gay people, in the same way. What God has joined together, do not you put asunder.

        • “It is not good for the man to be alone- no more for the gay man than the straight man.”

          It’s interesting. You quote a piece of Scripture which then goes on to talk about how God created Woman to be Man’s helper and companion. You also ignore every other instance in the Bible of prohibition of sexuality.

          I agree that it’s not good for anyone to be alone; I just don’t think a homosexual relationship is a Biblical way of not being alone.

          “Washed and Waiting” by Wes Hill explores this idea a bit more.

  2. Firstly, thanks for creating the post.

    ‘There are no examples in the Bible where a same-sex, sexual relationship is commended in any circumstances.[3]’ –

    How do you know? The bible is a concoction of different books, it has changed many times, to suit the morals of the day or the leaders of the time, no one is really sure what constitutes the original bible. So really your actually looking at a cut down and edited version that the Vatican has messed about with over 2000 years.

    You don’t think this is so? Just look at the fact that Christian Bibles range from the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon to the eighty-one books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon – explain that one if there is just one book?

    Am I missing something? Where has the bible actually specifically talked about being gay and homosexuality? I mean specifically. You seem to interpret a lot, but I haven’t read anything in your post specific about gays. It seems to be, if its not mentioned it must be a sin? Am I correct?

    I’m not satisfied with this response that gay people should not be together according to the bible. If this is the cream of the evidence against gay relationships, then.. wow. Rubbish.

    I know, morally, that the love between two men or two women, that brings them happiness, and affects no one else is right. How can something that only creates happiness be wrong.

    Your morals have gone wrong somewhere. Stop reading this old book and look around you. Maybe one day you may grow a mind of your own and understand real life and real people.

    • “You don’t think this is so? Just look at the fact that Christian Bibles range from the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon to the eighty-one books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon – explain that one if there is just one book?”

      I don’t want to write an essay on the Canon of Scripture, but I think it’s safe to say the Bible has not been a concoction of a lot of different people over the years.

      The earliest complete New Testament we have dates from around the 4th Century (Codex Sinaiticus is around 330-360AD, according to Wikipedia), but there are lots of fragments that come before that. So we know that, at the very least, the New Testament hasn’t really changed since then.

      It’s true that some churches do have additional books in their Canon, but these books are generally in addition to the standard 66 Canonical books many denominations accept. Also, for example, the books which the Roman Catholics include – the Apocrypha – were never considered by the early church. (As I understand it, when Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, he included those extra books but made a note saying that they were of doubtful or uncertain origin with respect to Canonicity).

      “Am I missing something? Where has the bible actually specifically talked about being gay and homosexuality? I mean specifically. You seem to interpret a lot, but I haven’t read anything in your post specific about gays. It seems to be, if its not mentioned it must be a sin? Am I correct?”

      I linked through to the passages which specifically mention homosexuality. This is the page.

      “I know, morally, that the love between two men or two women, that brings them happiness, and affects no one else is right. How can something that only creates happiness be wrong.”

      I’m not convinced that a homosexual relationship ‘only’ creates happiness. There are high rates of depression and suicide amongst gay people, and of course various other health risks.

      I also think the morality of something is not dependent on whether it makes us happy or not (shouting racist abuse might make some people happy, for example, but that doesn’t make it morally right). And with something as complex as human relationships it’s very difficult to tell in the long term.

      There is a tradition which isn’t very popular in our culture of celibate same-sex friendships; I wonder whether that may be worth resurrecting.

      “Your morals have gone wrong somewhere. Stop reading this old book and look around you. Maybe one day you may grow a mind of your own and understand real life and real people.”

      I’d rather trust God’s word which I and countless other people have found time and again to be trustworthy and true.

  3. I don’t want to write an essay on the Canon of Scripture, but I think it’s safe to say the Bible has not been a concoction of a lot of different people over the years.

    erm… so you think only 1 person wrote the bible and it never changed?… erm… not safe to say, at all.

    The earliest complete New Testament we have dates from around the 4th Century (Codex Sinaiticus is around 330-360AD, according to Wikipedia), but there are lots of fragments that come before that. So we know that, at the very least, the New Testament hasn’t really changed since then.

    Erm… nope, we don’t know that it hasn’t really changed – were you about to check it hasnt changed? No… well then…

    Yes some bibles have additions and what does that tell you, – that they put in and take away as they like, depending on what they want. – ‘saying that they were of doubtful or uncertain origin with respect to Canonicity’ – hmmm how many times has that happened maybe under different guises.

    Your right I did miss it sorry:

    Love it…

    Genesis 19:1-11 – Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection.”

    Errrrrrrrmmmmmmmm…… So don’t have sex with a man. Rape my daughters instead… Great example there.

    Leviticus 20:13
    “If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.” (NLT)

    Wow super forgiving there… really living up to your christian morals.

    Judges 19:16-24 – again rape my virgin daughter that’s fine.

    Yes it says it in the bible, sorry thought you would quote a few bits. Probably wanted to leave out the hate and the virgin raping bits though ehi…

    So anyway should the gay guys go about raping virgins, is that ok then? Seems to be. World would be such a better place if gay men raped virgins rather than live fulfilled quiet lives being happy according to the great quotes you have provided.

    Also, seems like the other comments, are don’t do it its bad… no other reason. Brill, cheers bible, great tip there…

    Don’t you also think its fishy for a man (Jesus) to be living alone with no one his whole life… If it was modern day you would label him a loner, gay (in the closet) or worst.

    ‘I’m not convinced that a homosexual relationship ‘only’ creates happiness. There are high rates of depression and suicide amongst gay people, and of course various other health risks.;’

    Obviously depression, because they are not accepted in society and I imagine its a horrible thing to have to go through. Why else. What a ridiculous point. Health reasons… not if they are safe. Silly point.

    ‘I also think the morality of something is not dependent on whether it makes us happy or not (shouting racist abuse might make some people happy, for example, but that doesn’t make it morally right). And with something as complex as human relationships it’s very difficult to tell in the long term.’

    Correct, but when it doesn’t hurt anyone (gay couples don’t unless you count being offended, which really doesn’t count, its the same as saying the fact millions of people believe in jesus offends me, still have to live with it) or far outweighs the pros than the cons, then its morally correct.

    ‘There is a tradition which isn’t very popular in our culture of celibate same-sex friendships; I wonder whether that may be worth resurrecting.’ – What planet are you on, if you meet some of those couples and they tell you they are not having sex… they are lying. lol.

    ‘I’d rather trust God’s word which I and countless other people have found time and again to be trustworthy and true.’

    Please, learn to think for yourself. Being religious is the easy lazy option. Question it Phill, always question it! Don’t you think god would want you to?

    • “erm… so you think only 1 person wrote the bible and it never changed?… erm… not safe to say, at all.”

      Obviously the Bible was written by more than one person (unless you count being inspired by God). In fact, I think it’s pretty amazing that a book written over a couple of thousand years can be so consistent.

      I have been learning New Testament Greek this year, and if I wanted to I could go and read the Codex Sinaiticus and verify that it is, in fact, pretty much the same as the modern New Testament. in fact, modern Bible software can show you the original manuscript sources for each passage.

      One of the things I’ve learned this year is that the people who make up our New Testament are massive geeks (not being disparaging here, it takes one to know one) who take their work incredibly seriously to try and get as close as possible to the New Testament original as possible.

      There is not one shred of hard evidence for saying that the Bible has been substantially edited over the years in the way that people claim it has.

      “Errrrrrrrmmmmmmmm…… So don’t have sex with a man. Rape my daughters instead… Great example there.”

      The Bible often just states what someone *did*, without making comment. That’s not to say the actions are commended. This goes for the example in Judges as well. But I think it’s telling that the men considered homosexual rape such that they would rather sacrifice their own daughters than let it happen.

      “Also, seems like the other comments, are don’t do it its bad… no other reason. Brill, cheers bible, great tip there…”

      As I said, the Bible sets what it teaches on homosexuality within the context of heterosexual marriage. Everything else is, by definition, bad.

      “Don’t you also think its fishy for a man (Jesus) to be living alone with no one his whole life… If it was modern day you would label him a loner, gay (in the closet) or worst.”

      Er, what? I hope you don’t treat all single people like that. I know a few single people who are single for various reasons. Being single is not a bad thing in itself. Although our society puts such a store in sex and relationships you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

      “Obviously depression, because they are not accepted in society and I imagine its a horrible thing to have to go through. Why else. What a ridiculous point. Health reasons… not if they are safe. Silly point.”

      I don’t think it’s as simple as saying that “gay people aren’t accepted in society, therefore they are at higher risk of depression etc”. There have been quite a few scientific studies on this, including some in the Netherlands where same-sex marriage has been legal for some time now. And even with ‘safe’ sex there is still risk – the fact is that the human body has not evolved to be sexual in that way. [Question: if our morals come from evolution, and we are simply gene reproduction machines, where does homosexuality stand?]

      “when it doesn’t hurt anyone…it’s morally correct”

      When it comes to relationships I’m not sure it’s easy to tell what does or doesn’t hurt anyone in the short term.

      “Please, learn to think for yourself. Being religious is the easy lazy option. Question it Phill, always question it! Don’t you think god would want you to?”

      Actually, for me, believing what I understand the Bible to say is the hard option. It would be much easier for me if I thought that gay relationships were perfectly fine. It would get you off my back (and apparently just about everyone else on the internet) for a start.

      And I’m definitely not saying that believing in the Bible is a get-out clause to avoid thinking. I’ve grappled long and hard with this and other issues. But in the end I’ve just come back to the conclusion that the Bible is true and trustworthy.

      But I could say the same to you. Why do you believe what you believe? What right do you have to define good and evil, right and wrong? How do you *know* you’re right and I’m wrong? I’ve said this before here. If God doesn’t exist, as I think you believe, then surely we are all equally right? Love, justice, kindness – all meaningless concepts which our society happens to value. Who’s to say that the Russians are wrong?

  4. To pick up on just one thing you said: “I’m not convinced that a homosexual relationship ‘only’ creates happiness. There are high rates of depression and suicide amongst gay people, and of course various other health risks.”

    So. The man who oppresses gay people and denies us our rights points to our rates of depression and suicide. That would be the “Muppet” half of you, perhaps? The suicide and depression is caused by bigotry and oppression, Steve.

    What I want to get over to you is that, as a Christian, I find your views shameful and disgusting. I don’t know that you are capable of change: most people are, but some are so set in their vileness that they cannot. God help you.

    • “So. The man who oppresses gay people and denies us our rights points to our rates of depression and suicide. That would be the “Muppet” half of you, perhaps? The suicide and depression is caused by bigotry and oppression, Steve.”

      Steve? I assume that was a typo. As I said to Darren, I don’t think it’s that simple. See studies in the Netherlands where GLB relationships have been more socially accepted, for example.

      “What I want to get over to you is that, as a Christian, I find your views shameful and disgusting. I don’t know that you are capable of change: most people are, but some are so set in their vileness that they cannot. God help you.”

      I appreciate that you think my views are vile and disgusting. But until you can provide a valid Scriptural argument in favour of same-sex relationships I cannot but help think that they are not Biblical.

      By the way, at no point have I ever called gay relationships ‘vile’ or ‘disgusting’ or called gay people less than human or anything like that. We are simply all sinners who need to repent and desperately in need of God’s grace, myself very much included. I feel like the apostle Paul: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” (1 Tim 1:15).

      If that makes me appear less than human to you… that is somewhat ironic.

      • Muppet was your word, not mine. I don’t think you are less than human, just stupid and wrong: about people, God, the Bible, everything. Your wrongness about homosexuality is a symptom, not a single bad aspect of you which could be isolated. Repent!

        “Biblical”. What do you imagine you will achieve, by being “Biblical”? What good does it do? Does it help people in any way? Does it keep people out of some afterlife Hell, perhaps- if so, will all gay people in loving monogamous relationships go to Hell, Phill?

        Depression: even in a comparatively bigot-free society, we are the minority.. As you say, it is not that simple- not fitting in is unpleasant, even if there are no bigots to point it out- but clearly the less bigotry, the more mental health.

        • “Muppet was your word, not mine.”

          Yes, in my blog title. But I didn’t have a question about that, I was just wondering who you were calling Steve.

          Are you a Christian? I get the impression that you are from previous posts. If so, what basis do you have for that? Why do you believe? I believe because I think that God has acted in history, he has stepped into our world – his full and final revelation was God incarnate, Jesus Christ. And I believe that the Bible is God’s word written. And I believe what it teaches about Jesus, in the same way as I believe it teaches that homosexual practice is wrong. You can’t just pick and choose the bits you like and leave the rest.

          I don’t know what will happen to people in monogamous gay relationships. It depends on whether they trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.

          • I am a Christian, with an immediate experience of God.

            Of course you can pick the bits you like! You can pick

            I have been young, and now am old,
            yet never have I seen the righteous forsaken,
            or his children begging their bread

            or you can choose Job.

            You can choose one of two incompatible creation stories, or you can choose both, as myths, which may have multiple meanings.

            You choose to believe homosexual behaviour is condemned. Christianity, Christ, the Bible- don’t blame them, it is not their fault.

            Sorry about calling you Steve- I confused you momentarily with another hater.

          • So… you’re saying that because there are bits of the Bible that you can’t fit together, you have to choose either / or?

            Most of the so-called contradictions in the Bible I’ve seen are resolvable with a touch of common sense and an appreciation of context. Some require more study, but I’d say it was probably the most consistent and coherent book ever written over two thousand years.

            If it is full of contradictions and problems as such, I wonder how we can be sure of anything about faith. What even is the point of faith, if we don’t know that we know anything at all? If, for example, we can’t believe what the Bible says about the resurrection of Christ, how can we be sure of our own resurrection? 1 Cor 15 “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

            And even if it were true that you could pick and choose, it’s not as if there are bits of the Bible which are pro-gay and bits which anti. You have to both ignore bits of Scripture as well as insert bits of your own to give the Bible a pro-gay slant.

            I’m sorry you think I’m a hater. I don’t hate gay people. Like I said, we’re all sinners, all immoral – even sexually. I can’t be a hater unless I hate everyone.

          • No, I would say that you have to relate to the Bible, as you would relate to a human being.

            I call you a “hater” because I presume you intend the consequences of your acts, and your acts (and similar acts of others) cause pain and suffering.

            You are the one ignoring the Love of God. You are also clinging to ridiculous, outdated interpretations of particular verses. You choose that. You choose to be a hater. It is culpable of you.

          • “No, I would say that you have to relate to the Bible, as you would relate to a human being.”

            I don’t even know what that means. I think God’s word is trustworthy and true, because God cannot lie and is fully reliable and trustworthy. I think if he had blessed same-sex relationships he would have told us.

            What do you mean, I intend the consequences of my acts? If you mean I only take the position I do because of its consequences, that is false. I take the position I do because I believe I am following God’s word.

            You have yet to show me why my interpretation of those verses is ridiculous and outdated. The only type of sexual relationship commended in Scripture is the one Jesus commended: a lifelong, heterosexual relationship between one man and one woman.

            And I still dispute your label of a ‘hater’. A hater does more than label something as immoral. There is plenty of hate out there against gay people; that’s not me. If it comes across that I’m hating gay people, then I need to do better at communicating. Or they need to do better at listening. Either way, the message is not getting through.

          • You don’t know why it is ridiculous and outdated? Google for five minutes, and you will find out.

            You will also find nasty little sites explaining that every gay sex act, in a monogamous loving couple, is deserving of Hell. That is the point. You get to choose: hate or love.

            You have communicated well. You read the Bible, and take the (simple, false) interpretation that you do. It is not complex. I understand perfectly. It is not a matter of communication.

            What is the result of your acts? Bigots and bullies are encouraged, gay people are hurt, we get depressed and suicidal: and that is your fault, Phill.

          • “Google for five minutes, and you will find out.”

            You assume that I have no knowledge of alternative interpretations or theories. I’ve read a lot of them, and I find them unpersuasive.

            “What is the result of your acts? Bigots and bullies are encouraged, gay people are hurt, we get depressed and suicidal: and that is your fault, Phill”

            If bigots and bullies are encouraged then that is my fault, and theirs. It’s not a problem with the message though.

          • If you think I assume you have no knowledge of alternative interpretations, you did not understand what I said about your choosing. It makes you more culpable.

            Why do you bother spewing the hate you spew? Why not just shut up about homosexuality?

          • So… because I have knowledge of alternative, inferior explanations but reject them I’m more culpable?

            At the end of the day our understanding of something as fundamental as even God are different. Can God command something I don’t like? I sure as heck wish he hadn’t included the adultery commandment, and coveting – would have made my life that much easier.

            I’m sorry that someone made you come to my personal blog and read my personal opinions on homosexuality.

            I hope you realise that in telling me to shut up, in telling me that I am hateful, you are simply stooping to your perception of my level.

            Anyway I think our discussion is at an end. Thanks for commenting, genuinely. It’s good to know how I am perceived and understood.

          • Well- at least coveting and adultery are better than the usual comparisons, paedophilia and bestiality. Oh well. You are wrong about “inferior”. I hope you come to knowledge of the truth.

    • I’m sorry for any lack of graciousness on my part.

      I’ve been considering turning off comments for a while now. If I’m honest, I think every single time someone has commented here on such a contentious issue (religion, sexuality…) commenters have left with their own opinions reinforced. Every. Single. Time.

      If no-one is willing to change their opinions (and I include myself in that), then dialogue is useless and comments pointless. And heated exchanges on the internet rarely change anyone’s opinion, it’s been like that since the net was first used for this kind of thing.

  5. Interesting you think the commenter points are reinforced… whys that?… 🙂

    I can understand why you would want to turn comments off, I think its great to debate, but sometimes its a bit much. I had to step back because I disagreed with your points, but also disagree with the tone of Clares comments, and I disagree with outright insults, however deserved you or me may sometimes feel them to be, better beat the point with facts and knowledge than with names. (even though sometimes I have called you names… ) I also think that like you said no-one is willing to change their opinions – how ever on the other side I still think its good to debate.

    If we don’t then we risk being stuck in a bubble of our own world.

    Do whats right for you and your state of mind. Its your blog after all and you have a lot on your plate!

    Although I thoroughly disagree with many of your points, I still enjoy reading you blog. (I know sounds mental).

    Anyway, good luck with it.

    • Thanks for being understanding Darren. I think I was feeling a bit low yesterday afternoon.

      “Interesting you think the commenter points are reinforced… whys that?… :)”

      Thinking about the conversation with Claire – if someone comes here thinking I’m an unloving, vile and disgusting homophobic bigot, then nothing is going to change that. It’s not debate or dialogue, it’s a thinly veiled personal attack.

      As you say I’d be loath to turn comments off because I do genuinely value what people have to say and I appreciate that debate is healthy. The times I’ve learned the most are times when people have really challenged me about what I believe. Even if I end up believing the same thing, it helps to form my own views. Your comment about a bubble is spot on.

      I’m glad you enjoy reading my blog, even if you disagree.

      I think what I may do is leave comments on but (1) be more explicit at the bottom of potentially contentious posts about a comment policy; (2) be strict with what comments I approve or don’t approve; (3) try to leave a bit more time for the dust to settle before replying to certain comments. It’s too easy to respond in the heat of the moment, and an emotionally charged comment never helped anyone.

  6. Interesting. I can see that you do not think you are an “unloving, vile and disgusting homophobic bigot”.

    Equal marriage is a wonderful prism for someone’s morality, right now, because it is contentious. There are people who out of fear, or an inability to change, or a failure to think, or misplaced loyalty to discredited ideas, imagine that equal marriage is incompatible with Christianity; whereas respect for the Bible and God’s will enjoin support for equal marriage.

    There are some angry people who do not sense their anger, or cannot admit it, or are frightened to express it at its cause, who resent gay people attaining freedom. If they cannot find freedom themselves, our freedom is particularly upsetting to them, and they really hate us. It is not absolutely clear, from your post, that you are one of those. I hope that helps.

    • “Interesting. I can see that you do not think you are an ‘unloving, vile and disgusting homophobic bigot’.”

      I don’t, although if I’m honest – who does think that of themselves?

      “Equal marriage is a wonderful prism for someone’s morality, right now, because it is contentious. There are people who out of fear, or an inability to change, or a failure to think, or misplaced loyalty to discredited ideas, imagine that equal marriage is incompatible with Christianity; whereas respect for the Bible and God’s will enjoin support for equal marriage.”

      What do you make of a totally secular case against same-sex marriage? I find it interesting in the media that any time someone makes a case against same-sex marriage, they are assumed to be religious. This is not the case. For example, the website Spiked is from a politically liberal, secular perspective and yet still have made a case against gay marriage (see here, for example).

      When I’ve written about same-sex marriage here, I haven’t once mentioned my religious beliefs about marriage (the posts I’m referring to are here – Part 1 and Part 2).

      “It is not absolutely clear, from your post, that you are one of those. I hope that helps.”

      I think you’re right – that there are two different types of “anti-gay” people, if you will. I think there are haters out there – however I would not call myself one of them for the reasons I’ve gone into before. Part of the problem seems to be that from your perspective, they look one and the same.

      If you will, indulge me in a little thought experiment. Imagine, just for a moment, that I am right. Imagine that the Bible really does not condone homosexual practice, and that God is not pleased with them. Surely it would be best, and even most loving, to do the same and not condone it?

      I note from the about section on your website this quote: “Humanity is moving … to a more beautiful morality in which each person is allowed to be who they are, and accepted for it.” What if this is just how I am? What if God has made me such that I am unable to have a different opinion on this. How is your love and acceptance demonstrated toward me, even though we may have different views? Or perhaps you think it doesn’t apply to me?

      • Mmm. So you would like me to accept you how you are, ignorant and pitiable. But I have more hope for you than that.

        And- which error would God want you to make? Both of us could be in error: but my error involves loving and accepting people, yours (if it be an error) involves rejecting and condemning people. Or at least that is its effect, however much you protest about loving.

        God is Love. Given that humans generally are in error about so many things, which do you think God finds most egregious?

        • “Mmm. So you would like me to accept you how you are, ignorant and pitiable. But I have more hope for you than that.”

          Calling your opponent “ignorant” and “pitiable” – surely this is ad hominem. How does this further dialogue? How does this help your cause? From a Christian perspective, how does fit with doing good to those who persecute you?

          “And- which error would God want you to make? Both of us could be in error: but my error involves loving and accepting people, yours (if it be an error) involves rejecting and condemning people. Or at least that is its effect, however much you protest about loving.”

          Your error involves loving and accepting people except for people like me, apparently. And how exactly do I reject and condemn people? Scripture itself condemns everyone “There is no-one righteous, no not one”. That is why everyone needs to turn to God in repentance and faith.

          And remember that God is not *just* love. (1) We have ideas about love which God’s love is not (our ideas of a soft, squishy, ‘kittens and rainbows’ kind of love are wrong); (2) God is also light – the two “God is…” sayings, both from 1 John.

          This is a quote from J.I. Packer from ‘Knowing God’ (see my post here)

          “The God who is love is first and foremost light, and sentimental ideas of His love as an indulgent, benevolent softness, divorced from moral standards and concerns, must therefore be ruled out from the start. God’s love is a holy love … God’s love is stern, for it expresses holiness in the lover and seeks holiness for the beloved. Scripture does not allow us to confer happiness on people who will not seek holiness, or to shield His loved ones from trouble when He knows that they need trouble to further their sanctification.”

          Like I said, if God has genuinely not permitted homosexual practice, then it is not loving for me to condone it either. It would be condoning something which God is against, and condoning sin is not a loving course of action. Of course, given my views, there are both loving and unloving ways I could go about that or expressing that, and from my perspective a pastoral response to homosexual practice must be done with gentleness and respect. That is what love looks like to me, and that is the love I believe is expressed in Scripture.

          • Gently, you condemn a person’s very nature, and that is OK because with original sin we are all sinners.

            Ignorant and pitiable- it is descriptive. It is evidenced by your opinions. Calling the description “ad hominem” does not reduce its truth.

            How does this further dialogue? That is not quite my purpose. Often in the past, preachers have preached against homosexuality, and gone unchallenged. Their arrogance, and the pain they inflict, has gone unhindered. Therefore I challenge that ignorance, now. Having heard the true Biblical Christian view, however, you may come round to it eventually.

            There is a difference between condemning your falsehoods and ignorance, and condemning the gay nature. When you condemn the gay nature, you condemn the very person him or herself. When I condemn your falsehoods, I condemn something which you could let go of, quite easily but for your pride, and be a better man.

            However you said our conversation is at an end.

          • “However you said our conversation is at an end.”

            I said our conversation was at an end, and then you continued it.

            And, as I’m going to close comments on this thread after posting this, it’s definitely at an end unless you choose to comment on something else I write in the future.

            I’m genuinely sorry that we can’t see eye to eye on this issue. I understand that much hurt has been caused by people like me and there is much hurt in the gay community.

            However, I would humbly suggest considering your goals and whether commenting against those with a conservative Christian understanding of sexuality on the Internet in the way that you do is the best way of accomplishing that.

            Too much blood has been spilled in this debate by people not listening to each other.

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