Are homosexual relations sinful?

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Mithrae
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Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #1

Post by Mithrae »

In Australia we're currently enduring a postal vote about gay marriage, and the Christian rhetoric which has inevitably been cropping up has reminded me of some thoughts I'd initially had back in 2006.
  • Tuesday, 9 May 2006
    It occurs to me that Christianity may very well have the wrong end of the stick in their view of God. If nothing else, surely what the old testament and the gospels teach us is that God is a covenant God. Jesus said that his blood was the blood of the new covenant; looking back, the Mosaic law is described as the old covenant; he made covenants also with Abraham and David. Perhaps we should not think of God as one who simply sits in the clouds handing out laws. Rather, he is a God who makes covenants with his people; fellowship in return for blessing. . . .

    With the people of Israel God made two covenants. The first was at Sinai, beginning with the ten commandments covering chapters 20 to 23 of Exodus. These are almost exclusively commandments of worship for God and social justice amongst the Israelites, with very little about sacrifical specifications or ritual purity. Chapter 24 describes the confirmation of this covenant and the people's agreement to abide by the terms written within the 'book of the covenant.' The second covenant was made in the lands east of the Jordan River, before Moses died and the people crossed over (Deuteronomy 29:1), and covers chapters 5 to 28 of Deuteronomy (with the earlier chapters being the preamble). Laws concerning such things as legal cases, the king, cities of refuge and warfare regulations (chapters 17 to 20) make it clear that this is essentially the constitution of the new nation of Israel.
The bible does not say that God gave any rules or commandments at all to Adam and Eve, except the bit about the tree; and similarly, Jeremiah clearly states that the new covenant to come would be "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt" (Jer. 31:31). In commenting on that passage the author of Hebrews writes "In that he says, “A new covenant,� he has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13).

How can it be that at one time it was "sinful" to sow a field with two kinds of seed, or wear a garment made of two kinds of cloth (Leviticus 19:19), yet Christians now would almost universally consider these to be silly and outdated concepts? Why did commands like that exist in the first place? I believe they were intended to ingrain into the Israelite people the concept of their separateness from the nations around them, to reinforce and strengthen their own national identity. But then, that same kind of practical purpose seems to obviously underlie the prohibition against same-sex relations too (or the exclusion of anyone who'd suffered genital injuries in Deut. 23:1): A small nation surrounded by enemies would likely need all its people breeding to maintain its strength. Crude and even cruel though those laws may have been, at least we might be able to glean a worthy intention behind them.

But the Christian concept of "sin" as it is usually expressed seems to be utterly blind to the fact that these were part of a covenant - an agreement - between God and Israel, one which the author of Hebrews declared to be obsolete. And according to Jeremiah the new covenant is not to be found in letters of stone or ink in a book; instead "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor or a man his brother, saying 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest" (Jer. 31:31-34). (See also my earlier thread Did apostles think they were writing the 'word of God'?)

Likewise Paul - though he himself remained hung up on homosexuality - captures the more individual nature of the New Agreement perfectly, even as he downplays the everlasting covenant of circumcision:
  • Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. . . .
    13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.� 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.


    Romans 14:10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’�
    12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.
Have Christians got the wrong idea of "sin"?

And if the essence of God's will is simply that "You shall love your neighbour as yourself," as Paul says, isn't homosexuality one of the most obvious examples in which freedom in Christ replaces the situational rules of Israel?

An example in fact where Christian attitudes often seem to be almost the opposite of love?

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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #201

Post by Mithrae »

JehovahsWitness wrote: Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:13 am
Mithrae wrote: Tue Nov 17, 2020 8:13 am "Seems to me that it's more sensible to accept a fairly coherent and consistent teaching about the new covenant and then be guilty of merely picking and choosing from the things which well-intentioned men wrote about their religious experience, than to adopt a dubious if not largely unbiblical veneration of the canon itself and in consequence be guilty of picking and choosing from divine instructions!"
Insulting members is against forum guidelines, if you feel you have been insulted feel free to take the issue up with a moderator. I have addressed the issue "cherry picking" by pointing the difference between how you use the word in your post and the accepted meaning of the expression.
You did excellent work, it was a very pretty picture as I said... with just the small problems that I never mentioned "cherry picking" and you haven't even remotely addressed what I did write. Obviously you're under no obligation to do so :)

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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #202

Post by JehovahsWitness »

Mithrae wrote: Wed Nov 18, 2020 6:54 am.... you haven't even remotely addressed what I did write.
Okay fair enough. You may wish to address the points I made my post HERE ....
viewtopic.php?p=1024793#p1024793

....and HERE
viewtopic.php?p=1024981#p1024981

....and HERE
JehovahsWitness wrote: Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:13 am ...That said, you yourself admit the subjectivity of one's worldview and that would include what one sees as "sensible" or not.
You might also like to take NOTE of the following ....
JehovahsWitness wrote: Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:13 amI have addressed the issues you have raised many times over and may consider doing so again here if I see the central terms (new covenant, abrahamic covenent, etc ) have been clearly defined and a reasonable argument has been presented. I have no interest in engaging with a wannabe mindreader as what Paul did or did not like, and instead favor an analysis of what he did or did not did not write.
If I see anything of further interest in your posts I will be sure to let you know. In the meantime please try and have a most excellent day,



JW
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http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 81#p826681


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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #203

Post by Mithrae »

JehovahsWitness wrote: Wed Nov 18, 2020 7:06 am
Mithrae wrote: Wed Nov 18, 2020 6:54 am.... you haven't even remotely addressed what I did write.
Okay fair enough. You may wish to address the points I made my post HERE ....
viewtopic.php?p=1024793#p1024793
As I said, you're under no obligation to address the substance of my posts. In that case, you raised a somewhat trivial distinction (did Jesus intentionally "wait for" the guests to be drunk or was that just when the wine ran out and he miracled some more for them?) regarding an utterly trivial point (some banter over one out of six other 'sins' RWJ raised in tangent to our discussion).

As I've noted in the past - for example in the thread in which we discussed the "everlasting covenant" of circumcision in the flesh which was made with the patriarch when he was declared the "father of many nations" - a tendency to obfuscate and/or distract a discussion from its main points is best avoided, if and when it happens to crop up.
Again, you chose to quibble with a point (which had been raised earlier in the thread) which I mentioned for the sake of completeness but explicitly opined to be "a little silly." You made a claim about "Paul's argument" but - despite your later insistence that you are interested in what Paul actually wrote - in that case had failed to even cite a verse reference let alone quote his words. Obviously I'm no more obligated to answer every tangent of yours than you are mine; I try to focus on the main points of a discussion as I see it, as I did for your post #195 above that. In this case even if I conceded the claim that according to a strict literal 'letter of the law' view Paul condemned any and all homosexual activity, it still wouldn't in the slightest change my argument against using that approach to begin with.
....and HERE
JehovahsWitness wrote: Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:13 am ...That said, you yourself admit the subjectivity of one's worldview and that would include what one sees as "sensible" or not.
Even if I had said that (which I didn't), your comment would be irrelevant unless you were claiming to have a demonstrably more objective worldview. What I did say was that all perspectives, when encountering information, require that we "evaluate its merit and choose whether and how to incorporate that information into our view of the world." If that's what you regard as merely subjective I suppose it wouldn't be surprising if you considered any hermeneutic approach as sensible as the next. I imagine you don't of course, but despite all these posts about minutiae and tangents, you don't seem to have much to say in favour of the approach I've argued against or against the biblical alternative I've suggested.
You might also like to take NOTE of the following ....
JehovahsWitness wrote: Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:13 amI have addressed the issues you have raised many times over and may consider doing so again here if I see the central terms (new covenant, abrahamic covenent, etc ) have been clearly defined and a reasonable argument has been presented. I have no interest in engaging with a wannabe mindreader as what Paul did or did not like, and instead favor an analysis of what he did or did not did not write.
I had already taken note of it, but maybe boasting about how often you've addressed a topic at other times and in other places is important enough that we should all note it twice! For someone who professes no interest in engaging with me, you seem rather keen for me read all of your many responses (twice) and leave not a single sentence unanswered :lol: Far be it from me to suggest that perhaps it is something besides interest which is lacking here.

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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #204

Post by JehovahsWitness »

Miles wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:19 am So you take the parts of the Bible you like and ignore those you don't. IOW, you cherry pick your faith. Okay, to each his own.

I wouldn't ay this is unheard of and as you say, "to each his own", that said a wholistic approach means harmonising all the contents of the bible. This involved "allowing the bible to nterpret the bible" ie letting one passage to shed light on how a related passage should be understood.


That has always been the Jehovah's Witness approach



JW


To learn more please see other posts related to...

THE BIBLE , HERMENEUTICS* and ... BEST TRANSLATION
* bible interpretation
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http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 81#p826681


"For if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah" -
Romans 14:8

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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #205

Post by nobspeople »

JehovahsWitness wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:24 am
Miles wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:19 am So you take the parts of the Bible you like and ignore those you don't. IOW, you cherry pick your faith. Okay, to each his own.

I wouldn't ay this is unheard of and as you say, "to each his own", that said a wholistic approach means harmonising all the contents of the bible. This involved "allowing the bible to nterpret the bible" ie letting one passage to shed light on how a related passage should be understood.


That has always been the Jehovah's Witness approach



JW


To learn more please see other posts related to...

THE BIBLE , HERMENEUTICS* and ... BEST TRANSLATION
* bible interpretation

Letting the bible in interpret the bible?!? While I understand that concept, it doesn't make logical sense to me. Would this be the same for any religious book, or just the bible?
Maybe this would be better served in another thread, as to not dilute this one? But that concept fascinates me!
Have a great, potentially godless, day!

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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #206

Post by JehovahsWitness »

nobspeople wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 12:30 pm
JehovahsWitness wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:24 am
Miles wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:19 am So you take the parts of the Bible you like and ignore those you don't. IOW, you cherry pick your faith. Okay, to each his own.

I wouldn't ay this is unheard of and as you say, "to each his own", that said a wholistic approach means harmonising all the contents of the bible. This involved "allowing the bible to nterpret the bible" ie letting one passage to shed light on how a related passage should be understood.


That has always been the Jehovah's Witness approach



JW


To learn more please see other posts related to...

THE BIBLE , HERMENEUTICS* and ... BEST TRANSLATION
* bible interpretation

Letting the bible in interpret the bible?!? While I understand that concept, it doesn't make logical sense to me. Would this be the same for any religious book, or just the bible?

I dont know, I suppose most books have an internal harmony but I can only speak about the bible as thatnis the religious book I know the most about.



JW
INDEX: More bible based ANSWERS
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 81#p826681


"For if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah" -
Romans 14:8

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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #207

Post by nobspeople »

JehovahsWitness wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:05 pm
nobspeople wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 12:30 pm
JehovahsWitness wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:24 am
Miles wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:19 am So you take the parts of the Bible you like and ignore those you don't. IOW, you cherry pick your faith. Okay, to each his own.

I wouldn't ay this is unheard of and as you say, "to each his own", that said a wholistic approach means harmonising all the contents of the bible. This involved "allowing the bible to nterpret the bible" ie letting one passage to shed light on how a related passage should be understood.


That has always been the Jehovah's Witness approach



JW


To learn more please see other posts related to...

THE BIBLE , HERMENEUTICS* and ... BEST TRANSLATION
* bible interpretation

Letting the bible in interpret the bible?!? While I understand that concept, it doesn't make logical sense to me. Would this be the same for any religious book, or just the bible?

I dont know, I suppose most books have an internal harmony but I can only speak about the bible as thatnis the religious book I know the most about.



JW
Honestly, don't you find that suspect? Convenient? A book proving itself true is pretty literally a self fulfilling prophecy.
If you see that as legit, do you not see how many would question such a thing?

Going further, if the bible is like this, we must be willing to entertain the idea that some other religious works are like this. If not, we would seem arrogant, self righteous and self indulgent as far as I could see it anyway.

Saying 'the bible proves itself' to some isn't the best selling point I'd think could be used :D
Have a great, potentially godless, day!

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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #208

Post by Miles »

JehovahsWitness wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:24 am
Miles wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:19 am So you take the parts of the Bible you like and ignore those you don't. IOW, you cherry pick your faith. Okay, to each his own.

I wouldn't ay this is unheard of and as you say, "to each his own", that said a wholistic approach means harmonising all the contents of the bible. This involved "allowing the bible to nterpret the bible" ie letting one passage to shed light on how a related passage should be understood.


That has always been the Jehovah's Witness approach
In light of our current moral attitude toward slavery (it aint nice, and it's against the law) what related passage sheds light on (justifies, I would suppose) Exodus 21:20-21, which says:

“When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money."

.

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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #209

Post by JehovahsWitness »

Miles wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:30 pm In light of our current moral attitude toward slavery (it aint nice, and it's against the law) what related passage sheds light on (justifies, I would suppose) Exodus 21:20-21, Exodus 21:20-21, which says:

“When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money."
Are you asking me a question? There was no question mark {?} In your post so I had to read it twice to understand. If you are indeed asking my opinion I imagine you have not read my earlier posts on this passage*.



* "shed light on"/ understand =/= justify




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Does the bible say slave owners were allowed to beat their slaves to death? EXODUS 21:20
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 27#p764027







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SLAVERY, CHILD ABUSE and ...THE MOSAIC LAW
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Re: Are homosexual relations sinful?

Post #210

Post by Mithrae »

nobspeople wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:36 pm
JehovahsWitness wrote: Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:05 pm I dont know, I suppose most books have an internal harmony but I can only speak about the bible as thatnis the religious book I know the most about.
Honestly, don't you find that suspect? Convenient? A book proving itself true is pretty literally a self fulfilling prophecy.
If you see that as legit, do you not see how many would question such a thing?

Going further, if the bible is like this, we must be willing to entertain the idea that some other religious works are like this.
It would be a reasonable approach, mostly, to a book or collected works by a single author. We sometimes see critics insisting that one sentence contradicts the next for example, whereas usually in those cases I'd say one should first question one's own interpretation of one or both passages, giving the benefit of the doubt to the author's coherency. But even with a single author, people's thoughts often evolve over time and taking something written by a twenty year old and 'letting it interpret' what they wrote thirty years later would often be simplistic and misleading.

Of course rather than acknowledging that the collection of writings in their canon were penned across a thousand years by very different people, some Christians presuppose that all the bible is from a single author, God. Attempts at 'harmonization' can go a little further under that assumption, but even then there's more than a couple of discrepancies still severe enough that they'd suggest ailing mental faculties or intentional misdirection were they from the pen of a single man, unless he'd learned and changed a lot along the way!

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