Iain posted some good thoughts on the subject. (Note that I changed the
subject title above).
He wrote, in part: "In context, it seems that Paul is implying that all
kinds of sexual perversion are a result of Godlessness."
I think this is correct. What it does not address, of course, is whether
a monogamous homosexual relationship is a perversion or not.
For a long time, people have tended to think of two classes of people,
heterosexual and homosexual. While admitting that perversions CAN (and
often do) occur among heterosexuals, they viewed homosexual ==
I think of two different ways of viewing people.
(1) a faithful long term domestic relationship between two persons and
(2) any relationship in which sexual gratification of one or both persons
is the only goal.
In both classes, there are both heterosexual and homosexual activities.
But in class (1) there is no sin; God sees the activity as "good," and in
class (2) there is just the opposite.
Iain also wrote: "However, just because one can be moved to hear of the
love between two human beings does not mean we can overlook the bible."
I absolutely agree. If God regards an activity as sin, I have no desire
to tell him He is mistaken.
Iain worked with the Romans 1 text. Not knowing Greek, I must rely on the
comments of scholars. It is quite evident that a number of different
interpretations of this exist, and that some scholars insist that Paul
meant ALL homosexual activity to be subsumed in his writing of Romans 1.
Others, of course, argue that the set of activities described there are a
subset of homosexual activities, and that monogamous relationships were
not included. Certainly Helmaniak takes that view, while Jerry Falwell
and Dr. Dobson take the first view.
It was on this point that I vacillated on the subject for several years.
Two arguments finally persuaded me to take the stand I did.
1. This text (Romans 1) is the only scripture which has any possibility
of covering all homosexual activity. All the others commonly cited don't
stand up to be interpreted that way. It would seem to me that if all
homosexual activity were to be proscribed, that prohibition ought to have
been more clearly stated. The silence of Jesus on the subject is no
"proof," of course, but perhaps it is an indication of the subject's
2. If one is to take a position on this, and I felt I had to do so, then
I had only two choices:
A. Say that scripture clearly proscribed ALL same-sex sexual activity
B. Say that scripture did proscribe some same-sex sexual activity, but
was silent about monogamous relationships.
If I chose A, and was wrong, then I would do grievous harm to innocent
If I chose B, and was wrong, I could be fairly accused of misreading
scripture, but that's about it. I suggest that we all are guilt of this
to some extent! < G >
Two other factors were an influence here. First, it is quite obvious that
history is filled with evidences that, on many occasions, there were
committed Christians, conscientious, Bible-believing, pious, praying,
churchgoing, devout, learned people, who have been desperately wrong on
scriptural interpretations. Not just wrong in doctrine, but wrong in that
real hurt to innocent persons resulted from their interpretations.
Second: I really believe that no interpretation of scripture can be
correct if that interpretation leads to, or supports, contempt for any
individual or group of persons either inside or outside the church. We
have seen this done in the past -- contempt for the Jews led to the
Holocaust, contempt for dark skin led to a justification of slavery,
contempt for other religions led to the crusades, contempt for persons
who saw Christianity differently led to September 15th, 1572, when my
ancestors were slaughtered on St. Bartholomew's day, contempt for gays
led to the torture and death of Matthew Shepherd.
Iain also wrote: "I have heard many Christians argue that St. Paul was a
bigot, who didn't like women. Some skeptics have argued that St. Paul
was a repressed homosexual himself, which explained his tone in this
verse - "protesting too loudly". I do not hold with this kind of
interpretation, which can lead, as I have said before to "picking and
Neither do I. I am not a great admirer of Paul, but I take him seriously,
and the arguments above (which I know exist, but I've not encountered
them myself) are rubbish as far as I'm concerned.
Thanks again for the thoughtful response, Iain.
John Burgeson (Burgy)
(science/theology, quantum mechanics, baseball, ethics,
humor, cars, God's intervention into natural causation, etc.)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Aug 11 2001 - 16:14:23 EDT