Friday, April 18, 2008

My Understanding of Scripture

I almost titled this "My Theological Manifesto." But then I remembered Rory and Paris working on a project for school in "The Gilmore Girls," and Rory advising Paris, "First, lose the word 'mainfesto.'" So... 'My Understanding of Scripture' it is.

It strikes me this may well be long overdue. I have a commenter (or two... it's hard to know how many, although the most recent one seems politer than the one who was calling everyone "honey" or even "dyke"... a word I don't automatically despise... I think it has morphed, for much of the lesbian community, into a word we have reclaimed, much like African American people have reclaimed words once hurled at them like bullets). (That was a long aside, no?). Anyway, I have at least one commenter who keeps trying to convince me of the sinful nature of my relationship with Beloved by quoting scripture at me... primarily Leviticus, though I believe Romans was mentioned at a certain point.

Herewith: my approach to understanding and interpreting scripture.

1. The understanding of scripture as always "literally true and authoritative" (the doctrine of biblical inerrancy) is ultimately a bankrupt enterprise, and contrary to the intention of the Author/authors.

My daughter recently told me about a controversy in her biology class. I wondered whether she meant abortion. Of course, she did not: she meant the controversy of creationism versus the theory of evolution. The author(s) of the creations stories in Genesis (there are at least two there) had at their disposal creation myths of the ancient Near East. Their intention in telling the story of the seven days of creation was etiological: a seven day week was already in place. It was also, strongly, theological: God, Yahweh, the God of Israel, is the creator of all that is, seen and unseen. It was also liturgical: the seven days of creation unfold with the grace of a gorgeous worship service, all in balance and harmony. That it would be so miserably misunderstood by 21st century Christians that they would reject God's gift of scientific reasoning and inquiry is disheartening, to say the least.

Now, here's where the intellectual bankruptcy comes in. Theological conservatives insist on literal understandings in some places and not in others. God created the world in seven days? Check! Jesus literally gave us his body and blood in the Eucharist? Uh, not so much. Why one and not the other? The "whore of Babylon" spoken of in Revelation: a prostitute from Babylonia? Of course not! Sorry folks. You can't pick and choose which things are held to be literally true with no rhyme or reason. If you acknowledge that some things are symbolic, then you must admit that some of the things you want to be literal might be symbolic. You must admit that.

2. Scripture is inspired by God and mediated through human beings.

The Biblical witness is comprised of many, many different kinds of literature, written across a period of many centuries, much of which has its roots in oral tradition, and all written for different audiences and with various purposes. For all its diversity, it has this common thread: it is the attempt of human beings to record their experience of living in covenant with the very real, very transcendent God. However, the historical context and scientific worldview matter; they inform the authors of scripture, and they influence their pronouncements. Let's talk about Paul.

Paul, in Romans 1, is not writing a Manual of Sexual Sins for All Times and Places, but a comment on those who are engaging in idol worship, and the sin he perceives as a result of that. (All LGBTQ folks who have engaged in idol worship this week, sound off!). Furthermore, Paul has a specific understanding of nature, of what is natural. It is his understanding that same-sex behaviors fall outside the realm of nature. Safe to say he never got the memos about same-sex behavior in bison, swans, gulls, penguins, bonobos, dragonflies, or any of the rest of the approximately 1500 species that exhibit same sex attraction and pairing off. Just as in humans, this behavior is observed in a minority. But just as in humans, it is clearly natural, i.e., occurring in nature. So Paul's calling it "unnatural" is incorrect. If Paul understood it to be natural would he have condoned committed same-sex partnerships? Well, given his feeling that no one should marry (see #3), I think it unlikely.

3. Scripture is not a monolith; it does not give us one easily discernible rule of thumb about sexual matters.

To talk about "scriptural family values" is to invoke, simultaneously, Jesus' prohibition on divorce, Paul's recommendation that people not marry because Jesus is coming back right away, Leviticus' permission to stone disobedient children, and Genesis' Big Love stories involving multiple wives and concubines. There is no single "scriptural family value" that can be invoked. There just isn't. Sorry. For those who believe that Romans 1 should dictate the understanding of all relationships between persons of the same sex, show me one preacher-- just one-- who is claiming that 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 [I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am.] should be the guide for all those who understand themselves to be heterosexual.

4. For Christians, there is a rule that can guide us in our understanding of how to live morally. When in doubt, defer to Jesus' law of love.

He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

Can people live in committed partnerships with persons of the same sex while obeying Jesus' great commandments? I believe they can. For those who wish for further details to be fleshed out, Jesus also offers this view of salvation:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

Again, no mention of sexual behavior. Much mention of caring for the hurting of this world. This is not "my" view of "who is saved," it is Jesus'.

5. Jesus trumps Paul and Leviticus.

Self-explanatory. But I will explain nonetheless. Jesus says not one word, not one, about same-sex relationships. And it is very possible that Jesus healed the same-sex partner of a Roman soldier (Matthew 8:5-10). And where Jesus does speak of sexual behavior, he holds up covenant as the overriding value... hence, no divorce. Jesus trumps Paul and Leviticus.

So, dear Anonymous. Thank you for your concern. But I believe with all my heart that you are mistaken. I believe that God made me a woman who is affectionally and sexually drawn to be in relationship with another woman, and I have committed myself to her in love and fidelity. I believe that scripture, properly understood, offers no obstacle. Here ends the manifesto. Amen.

47 comments:

Choralgirl said...

Holy cats, C, are we similar creatures! I have had this very conversation this week...using almost exactly the same references and arguments, with Lutheran dollops of "I am baptized!" and "saved by grace through faith thrown on for good measure.

Articulately and compassionately done. Thank you.

Shalom!

Choralgirl said...

Oops--I missed a "close quote" after "faith." Theologically cool, but punctuationally challenged. :-)

Hidden in Christ said...

WOW! i dont even know where to start. but wow. that was AMAZING. me and Hope are sitting here loving every word of your blog. you basically wrote out what i've been thinking over the past few weeks. thank you for what you shared and for giving us insight into your heart and God-given intellect. i couldn't agree with you more. i'd like to see anonymous take every scripture literally and sell everything he owns to the poor. and also a handful of other verses that he would never consider following.

all in all, wow. thank you thank you thank you for your "manifesto". and thank you for pointing us back to the two greatest commandments. i still can't believe how almost effortless it is now to live the Christian life now that i've accepted who i really am. it does wonders for me loving God and loving people!

KJ said...

Unfortunately, our detractors see our brining our God-given ability to think and interact with Scripture as an abandonment of it, when in fact, it causes growth and life. Go figure!

I would agree -- Jesus trumps Paul and Leviticus. In the Anglican world, I love the fact that though we sit to hear readings from other parts of the Bible, we stand during the reading of the Gospel. But, I am far from a despiser of the writings of Paul; It is too bad that two thousand years later, the fact that Paul was "on the edge" in terms of the "faith once delivered" is lost on the "orthodox." Understanding the spirit of the Pauline Epistles helped me to to heed the Spirit's call to full authenticity.

FranIAm said...

I can't find it right now, but I have a great Alan Watts quote on Biblical idolatry if scripture is viewed in that narrow lens.

This is a beautiful post at every level Cecilia.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

One hopes that if the evidence keeps getitng put out there, eventually "they" will get it.

Wonderfully lucid and scholarly, while still being warm and personal, C. If I were a fellow-traveler walking the road of faith, I know I would appreciate your frank common sense as a traveling companion and guide. As it is, I appreciate your insight to that question I posted below, which is how intelligent and thoughtful people integrate and explain their faith.

:-)

Still looking forward to sharing a glass of wine and a long conversation some day.

IT

Cecilia said...

Thanks all... I tend to shy away from heavy duty theology, understanding myself to be a bit of a lightweight in this area. Your responses are wonderfully affirming.

KJ, there is much in the "real" Pauling corpus that I really love... I'm with you there. But, ohmy, he has been used as a bludgeon against us, hasn't he? Misunderstood, I believe.

Franiam, when you come up with that quote I'd love to read it.

Off to begin my day...

Pax, C.

Doorman-Priest said...

"The Bible is not only man’s word, but God’s also; not merely a record of revelation, but a written revelation in its own right, God’s own witness to Himself in the form of human witness to Him. Accordingly, the authority of the Scriptures rests, not simply on their worth as an historical source, a testament of religion, and a means of uplift, real though this is, but primarily and essentially on the fact that they come to us from the mouth of God. Therefore the real task for reason in this connection is not to try to censure and correct the Scriptures, but rather, with God’s help, to try to understand and apply them, so that God may effectively censure and correct us."

I. Packer

barbarah07 said...

How long O Lord ? Your post is entirely sane and true, but it makes me sad. How long will our energies have to keep being put into this sort of theologising ? When will the day come that we can all get on with enjoying life in all its fullness ?

Jan said...

Cecilia, this is so profound and beautiful that I don't know what to say. In fact, I sent it as a link to my daughter.Thank you.

more cows than people said...

well said, cecilia. well said.

FranIAm said...

Hi Cecelia - I found it the quote-

""A Christianity which is not basically mystical must become either a political ideology or a mindless fundamentalism....for lack of the mystical element, both trends fall back on the Bible as their basic inspiration - and it has always struck me that Biblical idolatry is one of the most depressing and sterile fixation of the religious mind?"
-Alan Watts

jadedjabber said...

Goodness, this is a fabulously articulated post, C. I agree with Barbarah07. I have had the running script in my head, similar to the one you have just written, though I am afraid far less articulate, that has developed because of the constant attacks by others. It is sad that I would have to develop such a script. (I use the word script because it was always the same questions-or statements-which elicited the same answers.) Amen, C. Thank you. I am going to link this to my blog if you don't mind.

pastor to be said...

This was great, so very well articulated!!! It would be nice if we would simply listen to Jesus!

SpookyRach said...

This is wonderful. Found your post through the link on jadedjabber's blog.

Doorman-Priest said...

Oops: thought I'd posted something else. Salvation and Faith: the Place of Scripture/

I posted this a while back. I hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

You are still being grossly deceived.


And to so glibly dismiss inerrancy and the conservative/orthodoxy that argues for it simply shows that you have little clue about the arguments behind literalism. Your ignorance is showing.


But, blather on. You remind me of the child who just likes to hear the sound of her own voice, no matter how much foolishness is accompanying it.

Cecilia said...

Anonymous, you haven't addressed the real issue: the bankruptcy and intellectual dishonesty of literalism. If you think you have a case to make, get your own blog. I will keep you and your hard little heart in my prayers. And so, good night.

Pax, C.

Anonymous said...

Pastor-To-Be said: "It would be nice if we would simply listen to Jesus!"

I agree, so let's do that, since folks here have decided that "Jesus trumps the Old Testament".

Jesus said: "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven...." (Matthew 5:17,18)

Guess what you're in danger of being called?

Furthermore, Jesus several times affirmed the authenticity of the Law and Prophets as GOD'S REVEALED WILL for man. Never once did He "correct" it, as you try to do -- but HE CONSTANTLY AFFIRMED the Old Testament as God's holy, authoritative Word. He referred to it again and again in His battles with those, like yourself, who would like to water it down and soften its impact -- ALWAYS AFFIRMING ITS AUTHENTICITY as well as the orthodox understanding of it which His contemporaries (like yourselves) were trying to reconstruct.

No, Jesus never trumped the Law and the Prophets -- HE AFFIRMED THEM, and FULFILLED THEM!

So let's stop the deception here, girls.

Julie said...

It does seem Anonymous has a hard little heart and also protest too much. I wonder why Anonymous finds this issue so threatening? Also, his/her reduction to name-calling demonstrates his/her argument is falling apart.

Cecilia said...

Anonymous, I agree that, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus states that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets.

Where does Paul, who came after Jesus fit into that picture?

And do you then call upon Christians to abive by the entire holiness code of Leviticus?

If you do not, then you are selectively enforcing the law and the prophets.

I'm just sayin...

Pax, C.

Cecilia said...

Of course, I meant "abide".

Cecilia said...

Doorman-Priest, that link doesn't work... can you help me find it?

And Franiam... wonderful, wonderful quote. Thanks so much!

Pax, C.

Cecilia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I surfed in from elsewhere, and I read many posts. I will say that I am on the "conservative" side of the theological spectrum, and if my "superiors" know I was pondering the issue of homosexuality and scripture I'd be in serious hot water.

I do not know what, exactly, I believe on this issue. That was not always the case, but for the last two or three years I've been considering, reading, and so on.

Whether or not my opinion ultimately changes, and it hasn't yet, I must applaud this post. It gave me much to chew on.

And I also must say that the other "Anonymous" reaveals him/her self as a hard-earhted little snob, seems to me. Disagreeing on this issue--ah--that I do understand, unlike most (I would guess) of your readers. But calling you "girls" and other little jabs just reveals a heart that is afraid.

Poor person.

Just know that not everyone who might disagree with you on this issue is so hard, so absolute, or so curt. I'd rather hang out with you, I am quite sure.

KJ said...

And Anon proves the veracity of Fran's Alan Watt's quote.

Anon, Jesus himself was many times charged with being in violation of the Law, and proved himself the Lord of it. The Apostles continued the trajectory into the New Covenant as their understanding of what it meant to love God and others grew.

If this is lost upon you, you must then be prepared to keep the Law in its entirety, not only the parts that serve you or that you find convenient. If you believe that one earns righteousness as measured by the Law, then you might find yourself more comfortable in a faith that is not grace-based since you are likely to always be frustrated by the proverbial attempt to keep new wine in an old wineskin. You will likely also become more bitter at the sight of celebration and freedom (No, not license to sin.) in the faith as others are reconciled to God in a way you do not see fit (e.g., see the brother of the "Prodigal Son.").

Peace of Christ

Cecilia said...

Well, Hello, "NewAnonymous" (as I will call you for now). I appreciate your note. I will be honest. Most of my friends believe as I do on this issue. But I have beloved colleagues whom I know would disagree vehemently, and yet who seem more like you... interested in the dialogue, at least, and not prone to judge.

I almost said something about the "girls" crack. I also note that other Anonymous speaks of God's will for "man." Maybe we "girls" are off the hook, in that case??? Of course, I don't believe that... I believe that each of us needs to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that we might be mistaken, but seeking the gracious Lord who mends all, even our minds and hearts, if we seek diligently.

Welcome.

Pax, C.

Anonymous said...

Cecilia,

You said, "And do you then call upon Christians to abide by the entire holiness code of Leviticus?"

Well, the Bible says: "but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct" (1 Peter 1:15)

"because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16-17)


"But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light....." (Eph 5:3-8)


".....finding out what is acceptable to the Lord." (Eph 5:10)


"Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Cor 7:1)

SO LET'S LOOK AT THAT HOLINESS CODE FOR A MINUTE ......particularly the context surrounding Leviticus 20:13 which you like to dispute.


Lev 20:9
"For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death."

Are you suggesting, Cecilia, that God's now okay with us cursing our father and mother, since this was part of the extinct OT Holiness Code? I'm guessing "no".

Should we put this person to death today? Of course not, for reasons I'll show you right below.

And neither should we put this mandate to death either. As Christians we are still to respect and honor our parents.

Let's look at another:


Lev 20:10
"The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death."

Are you suggesting, Cecilia, that God is somehow now okay with us committing adultery, since this was part of the OT Holiness Code which no longer applies? I'm guessing "no". I think you'd be just as upset with your partner if she did that to you as God is when we do this. So the spirit of the law is still there, isn't it? Just not the regulation of it, since as Christians it's now supposed to be written upon our hearts: "And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ezek 36:27)

Now should we put the adulterer to death today? Of course not. The Law is fulfilled by Christ. Christ was put to death for this sin, but that makes it no less of a sin. Jesus still said to the woman caught in adultery, "go and sin no more" (John 8:11). He offered her forgiveness, but He didn't give an official "okee dokee" to her sin. Instead He commanded her to repent of it!


And we could go all the way through this list in Leviticus: INCEST, HOMOSEXUALITY, BESTIALITY, WIFE-SWAPPING....it's all there. And I'm guessing that you would tell us that we Christians should not participate in these things....with the exception of homosexuality, of course, which you are trying to justify.

So if you believe that God is still against incest, wife-swapping, and bestiality, you are being very selective in excluding homosexuality from this list. You are like the serpent in the garden who said to Eve: "Did God really say that? Did He really mean THAT? Go ahead. Gnaw on the forbidden fruit. It won't hurt you."

Anonymous said...

((If you believe that one earns righteousness as measured by the Law, then you might find yourself more comfortable in a faith that is not grace-based since you are likely to always be frustrated by the proverbial attempt to keep new wine in an old wineskin.))

I don't for one second believe in a righteousness that comes from the Law. What I do believe is that Christ came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17), offer us forgiveness for our transgressions, command us to recognise our sins and repent of them (Mark 1:15), and walk in holiness before our God (Luke 1:75).

Do we do that by our own righteousness? Not at all. Not for one second. It's Christ living in us and through us (Galatians 2:20). "For it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."

So what does this mean then, practically? This: that I no longer continue to practice my sin (of which God has already said that homosexuality is one among many).

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Rom 6:1-5)

This "newness of life" is not the "freedom to be me" as some of you are arguing, but the freedom to be "Christ in me" as Paul argues. In fact, I put the real me to death: "our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin." Rom 6:6-8

1 John 1:10
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.


1 John 2:4-6
He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.


So how do I know that I truly know Christ?

1. I've recognised my sin (in your case homosexuality, in mine, many other things).

2. I've confessed it, and repented of it (that means turn away, not embrace).

3. The evidence that Christ is in me and I'm in Christ (Gal 2:20) is that I have put off the old man/woman, and am
crucifying those old desires of my flesh and corrupted heart: "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Gal 5:24

God doesn't call you to embrace and celebrate your homosexuality....He calls you to repent of it, and throw it away -- to CRUCIFY THOSE OLD PASSIONS AND DESIRES, and allow Christ to live in you and through you with His rich holiness and love.

Yes, IT IS LICENTIOUSNESS, KJ, if you are refusing to repent of what God calls sin, and are celebrating it instead as some sort of gift from God.

And that's where the deception comes in.


1 Cor 6:9-11
"Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."


Titus 3:3-5
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,


2 Tim 3:13
But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.


2 Cor 11:3-4
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

KJ said...

My comments, of course, were in response to "Old Anon" and not "NewAnonymous."

NewAnon, who clearly lives in peace, we'd love to hang out with you, if I can be so bold to speak for Cecelia! What Old Anon does not appear to understand is that acknowledging paradox, ambiguity, and just plain not knowing as part of our faith journey allows us to know the joy of relying completely on the creator of our faith.

Anonymous said...

((Anonymous, I agree that, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus states that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets.

Where does Paul, who came after Jesus fit into that picture?))

Okay, good. So we agree that Jesus AFFIRMED rather than trumped the Old Testament, making the spirit of the law in Leviticus perpetually valid. Glad to hear you agree with that.

Next....Paul. Where does he fit in, you ask?

As "the least of the apostles", but an apostle nevertheless. Jesus prayed for His disciples (soon to be apostles) in John 17:17 thanking God that He had chosen these men to represent Him when He left. He also prayed that God would sanctify them, and the Word He was placing in them. He had also previously promised them that the Holy Spirit would give them the words they needed when He was gone.

So let's look at that prayer for a minute (John 17), because it affirms that all of His Apostles are to be believed in whatever they say about Him and His Kingdom:

"I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You."

Jesus is affirming that all the words His disciples had received from Him are sanctified and true. He is entrusting them to "carry on" speaking them without Him.


"and I am glorified in them."

Jesus is trusting His disciples to bring Him much glory in their ministries of apostleship.

"I have given them Your word.......they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth."

Jesus is saying that His disciples are "other-worldly", just as He is other-worldly, and that they will be the keepers of His holy Word, and that He is sending them out into the world with His truth. "And even greater things than these shall you do", He promised them in John 14.

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me THROUGH THEIR WORD......that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them...."

Jesus is saying that THEIR WORD, as apostles, shall be believed by believers, and that their word is sanctified and true. This, of course, is why their writings have been canonised and accepted as the Word of God down through the years.

NOW, PAUL.

Paul was ACCEPTED BY THE DISCIPLES (whose word we are to believe, Jesus said) as an apostle of God's truth: "Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:16). NOTICE: Peter and his readers VALUE Paul's writings as SCRIPTURE, the very Word and Revelation of God. Also note, some of what he says is hard to understand (or accept), so those who are ignorant and unstable DISTORT THEM to their own advantage (as your friends do here with the homosexuality issue).

So, THE JESUS SAYS THAT HIS DISCIPLES ARE TO BE BELIEVED!

And THE DISCIPLES SAY THAT PAUL IS TO BE BELIEVED!

Thus, there is a continuity between the Old Testament and the spirit of God's Law, Christ, His Apostles, and PAUL who was accepted by the early church as an apostle and revealer of the mind and will of Christ.

And why is that important? Because the Old Testament condemns homosexuality (among many other sins) as abominable, Christ upheld and affirmed the OT Law (which includes the dreaded Leviticus passages), and Paul, a sanctified and anointed apostle of Christ, continues to tell us that this sin is simply not acceptable to God. "Repent of it, don't embrace it" he tells us, "or you will not be a part of God's wonderful Kingdom."

Cecilia said...

Anonymous. Clearly you don't have a day job. (I mean that as a gentle jest... if I'm mistaken I apologize). And clearly, you can find every reference of the word "holy" in both Old and New Testaments.

Rather than go point by point through your exhaustive (and exhausting) survey, I will state this:

The laws of Leviticus are time- and place-bound. Jesus himself flouted them (eating with tax collectors and sinners, allowing women to whom he was not married touch him). He fulfilled the law by distilling it to its essence: love of God and neighbor, keeping of covenants, caring for the least of these. He spoke not of "homosexuality" (a concept that did not even exist; all the references in scripture are to acts, not orientation... perhaps I should have said that in my original post). Sexual orientation is an understanding that has evolved among the medical community, and, subsequently, among the population at large. Scripture cannot and does not address it, as the concept did not exist. Scripture addressed same-sex behaviors as "unnatural" (Paul) and as rendering one "unclean" because seed was poured in "barren ground" (for men's acts; women's acts are not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament; Leviticus). The context of Leviticus is also one in which a tiny tribe is struggling to survive; all seed must be preserved so as to see God's promise to Abraham and Sarah fulfilled.

These items were not addressed by Jesus. He said nothing about them. You have still not addressed this. I disagree with your interpretation of scripture. I can live with you being, as I see it, mistaken. What I cannot live with is that you are mistaken in a way that harms people who are GLBTQ. People who shout across the internet in all caps because they can't change someone's mind help to set up a violence against LGBTQ people that HAS TO STOP. (There; I've done it myself.). I don't know if you are a minister or pastor. But whatever your work, if you are a Christian who seeks to persuade I strongly suggest you lose the caps; shouting never softened one heart or changed one mind. I also beg you to find some room in your heart to recognize that it is positions like yours that lead to gay kids killing themselves and gay people being killed by others every single day.

Peace be with you. I will pray for you. I welcome your sincere prayers for me.

Pax, C.

Anonymous said...

(a concept that did not even exist; all the references in scripture are to acts, not orientation... perhaps I should have said that in my original post)

Ahhh. So now you also agree that the "acts" referred to in Scripture are at least an authentic condemnation of this sin. Good. That's three admissions you've now made, in spite of your post that we're addressing here.

Sadly, though, your statement above shows you making the exact same mistake that the Pharisees made, whom Jesus corrected. They argued that only THE ACTS of sin were sin, and so if you didn't "act" it out, you weren't sinning.

But Jesus addressed that pretty quickly: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean. "

What's Jesus saying here? That it's the sin-factor inside of us that expresses itself in acts. There is no dichotomy between acts and the heart. "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart." (Luke 6:45)

So....if, as you acknowledge, the acts of homosexuality are in fact addressed by God as sinful, then it follows, according to Jesus (and James, and many other writers) that
the problem is deeper....it is the heart that is corrupted with this sin. The inner you. Your "orientation".

And it is that "inner you" that can be changed, transformed, and cleansed by the blood of Christ (Romans 12:1,2, and a whole assortment of other promises in God's Word).

Hey, I'm willing to admit that my whole "orientation" is sinful, because my flesh and heart are poisoned by it. I'm quite willing to admit that my orientation is wrong and needs changing. It's the "humble and contrite heart that God hears" (Isaiah 66:2), not the proud and stubborn one.

I'll keep praying that you'll see that your "orientation" is also sinful, because Jesus HAS IN FACT(oops) declared it to be so, just as the logic above has shown.

P.S. the caps are for emphasis; they aren't a shout. You're being a little sensitive here.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I might add that your dichotomy between "acts by men" and "acts by women" (which you suggest are not addressed) is quite convenient for you, but morally, if not logically fallacious.

Are you suggesting that God is discriminating against male homosexuals, but accepting female homosexuals? This is a little like saying that because the law of the land uses the word "man" when it says "no man may take sexual advantage of children under the age of 16", that it's okay for a woman to do it, because the law only speaks of 'men'.

I don't think you'd accept that kind of differentiation on that issue, would you? So why are you doing it with homosexuality?

Anonymous said...

((gay people being killed by others every single day.))

This is a gross generalization. Please show me the statistics on this.

Anonymous said...

((shouting never softened one heart or changed one mind))

I beg to differ, again. Clearly the prophets in the Old Testament were "shouting" at Israel and her neighbors about their sin. Sometimes they ignored it, and stoned their prophets. Other times they listened, and repented in dust and ashes. So, yes, God has employed shouting in the past....though that is not what I'm doing with the caps. I'm just emphasizing words and phrases so they aren't missed.

(don't feel obliged to post this)

Jenny said...

((I disagree with your interpretation of scripture.))

You mean the "literal" thing he keeps talking about?

Hmmmmm. I have to say that I agree with him/her on this one. I mean, didn't Eve have an issue with taking God literally?

"I'm sorry Adam, but I disagree with your interpretation of God's Word. You seem to think it was literal....DON'T EAT....and I think that the warnings you say He gave us if we do eat this fruit are a little overstated. There are two sides to this issue, you know. You don't know everything."

Right. And what happened when Eve didn't take God's prohibition literally? Everyone got in trouble!

Oops. Maybe God did mean what he said.

I think your nemesis, Anonymous, is right on this one.

Cecilia said...

So now you also agree that the "acts" referred to in Scripture are at least an authentic condemnation of this sin. Good.

Whoa there mister. What I said in my original post was that the acts in question in Romans were the result of idol worship. Idol worship turned people from their "natural" state (presumably heterosexual) and to what Paul considered an "unnatural" state. This does not have any bearing whatsoever on acts or orientation between people whose natural inclination is same-sex love and attraction.

I agree that sin exists. Of course. And I agree that it is a matter of the heart. But Jesus spent far more time condemning the domination of the empire, the oppression of the poor, and the opulent lifestyles of the rich than he did on matters to do with sex. He seemed to think money and militarism were far greater risks to our souls than just about anything else. He talks about money, in the synoptics, six times more than he talks about any other single subject. I think your view of sin is narrow... dangerously so.

As for the different standards between gay men and lesbians... well, that was a little tongue in cheek attempt at humor. Which, obviously, failed. Of course the standards are the same for all, man, woman, gay, straight. Sadly, you do not agree, by virtue of the fact that you see one aspect of life as sinful when expressed by LGBTQ people (even those in committed lifelong partnerships) and not sinful when expressed by straight people. Who has the double standard again?

As for hate crimes because of sexual orientation, the FBI compiles these statistics every year. The latest available online seems to be for 2004. I spoke of young gay people killing themselves AND gay people being killed by others every single day... not claiming a daily LGBTQ murder. In 2004 at least there were about 3.8 hate crimes because of sexual orientation per day. (2.5 % were because of anti-heterosexual bias; I know you'll be interested in hearing about that). Hate crime against LGBTQ people is real, and self-loathing and suicidal ideation among LGBTQ people is real and well-documented.

As for the shouting prophets, well, their success stories are rather rare, aren't they? Usually the people just continued as they were until the Babylonians or the Persians or whomever God had appointed came on the scene. Even Elijah's career ended unsuccessfully, with his fatwa against Jezebel left for his successor to oversee.

Oh I'm tired Anonymous. Neither of us is going to change the other's mind. I reiterate my plan to keep you in prayer. I would appreciate your doing the same.

Pax, C.

Anonymous said...

Cecilia,

I have been reading your posts for awhile now and enjoy them all. I believe you are encouraging and challenging many.

I have noticed Anon #1 on your blog for some time now and I would like to ask a few questions. I hope that is alright.

Anon #1-

I have not read everything that you have written, but I assume you call yourself a Christian.

It is my strong belief that people will know we are Christians by the fruit we bare. One of those fruits being love and all the others attributes of love.

With that said, I have to ask what is the motive in heart?

What are your intentions here?

What are you hoping to accomplish?

It is one thing to disagree with one's view on a subject and want to talk about it with that person and others. However, to take the approach that you have been taking makes me question what the motives are in your heart. You argue as if you are fighting for Christ, yet your attitude and tone is one that shows quite the opposite.

I believe Cecilia has been very generous to you even posting your comments. She has the privilege of deleting you but she doesn't, despite your attitude. Yet, you speak to her and others as if they are ignorant children.

If you need a reminder as to what I'm referring to when I talk about your attitude and your approach, I will be more than willing to review some of the things you have said to Cecilia and others here.

With that being said, I was wondering if you would answer my three questions please. Thanks.

Peace-
Stephanie

LittleMary said...

you are good to respond to this cecilia. i don't have the patience for this shit. and annoying anonymous, could you at least sign your name? i mean, come on now!

Anonymous said...

I'm done ladies. I've done all that God has asked me to do. I've been your Jonah, but unlike the Ninevites, you have simply scoffed and self-justified your sin. May God have mercy on you.

Let me leave you with this reminder from the Lord:

"Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out [THAT'S SHOUTS FOR YOU CECILIA], in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?
If you had responded to my rebuke,
I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you- when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm." (Proverbs 1)

GOOD LUCK, GIRLS. YOU'LL NEED IT.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anon. Goodbye and may God bless you richly.

Stephanie

KJ said...

Old Anon,

You reveal much more about yourself than you likely intend. You confuse "scoffing" with living in peace. You respond to discussion with derision, and your desire to be "right" seems to trump the call to love. And like Jonah, to whom you compare yourself, I rather suspect that you are sitting on a "hillside" waiting for the destruction of your enemies and will be disappointed when it does not come upon those whom have reconciled themselves with their Creator ("Good luck girls?" If one knows the peace of Christ, this is not what one prays for those one believes to be separated from God.).

I understand that you believe that God has called you to share these Bible passages and thoughts with us (Scripture and thoughts that most have known from our childhood.). But are you ready to consider that perhaps God is also calling you to hear what fellow believers believe on these matters? Are you prepared to love with a price? As Jesus pointed out, in so many words, it's easy to love those with whom you are in agreement; true love calls for us to love those with whom we are in disagreement. Do you not see the difference between your judgments, and the statements of Cecelia and New Anon?

In addition to what Cecelia has stated regarding violence, there is extensive international documentation of the imprisonment and in some cases, executions of glbt individuals. To deny this is akin to Holocaust deniers (A travesty not only perpetrated upon the Jews, but also other "undesirables", including glbt individuals.). When one denies such horrors, others have to wonder what would motivate another to do so, especially when another calls him or herself a follower of Christ.

Peace be with you, Old Anon. If you've not done so already, I would encourage you to find yourself a church home where your gifts can be used to help others in their faith journeys in the real world.

Cecilia said...

KJ, what a gracious comment. Thank you. I am grateful to you for your support and your articulate and loving style... things I could say about most of the commenters in these pages.

Pax, C.

Hidden in Christ said...

wow. i need a drink. that was a lot of reading. good work C and friends. well done.

Doorman-Priest said...

Cecelia, sorry to have returned to this so late. I am sorry the link did not work: my I.T. ineptitude. If the link below fails again here is the alternative strategy. Click on my name at the top of this comment to access my blog. the post you need is called Salvation and faith: the place of scripture - it is four or so older post pages back.

Heather W. Reichgott said...

Cecilia, you're truly a pastor and theologian. Well done.