I almost never write a blog two days in a row. However, yesterday, a Facebook comment on my blog said
In this you said that the question he should have answered is whether or not homosexual Intercourse is a sin. And then you go on to not answer what you think either. Which irks me.I really meant that I wanted the reporters to ask that. They ask these other questions that are leading and can get different answers. "Would you perform a same-sex marriage" is different than "do you think sex between two people of the same sex is a sin," especially, as I explained in that blog, for a committed Calvinist.
Still, that's a reasonable statement. I ask others to go on record and do not myself. I think that I certainly implied that I feel that homosexual acts are sins when I said
I am 100% sure that there will be people in Heaven that struggled with their homosexual desires every single day of their Christian lives. Some days they did better than others, but maybe, on the day they died, it was a bad day.But it is just an implication I never came out and said it.. There are a lot of reasons for this.
I am not in the habit of telling other people what their sins are.
- There are things I do that I know some people think are sins and I absolutely do not. Sometimes I used to argue about this, but their exegesis and hermeneutic always seemed flimsy. Finally, I decided that those things are sins FOR THEM, but not for me. I don't want to argue someone into sin by telling them it's okay.
- There are things, cussing primarily, that I am pretty sure are sins, but lots of Christians seem to feel a freedom to engage in it. I explain to people why from scripture, but they often tell me my exegesis and hermeneutic is flimsy. Still, it is more than exegesis and hermeneutic. My conscience pricks me when I cuss. My mind goes back to when I used to cuss and the bondage I was in to cussing. So, I am pretty sure it's a sin for me.
- There are lots of things where I don't think that any reasonable reading of scripture could allow the activity, but people will still argue with me that they're okay. In those cases I have a different tact. "So you don't believe X is a sin, I disagree, but lets not talk about X. Have you ever done something that YOU'D consider to be a sin? At that point we can talk about our need for Jesus. So sometimes I think that saying some particular thing is a sin gets in the way of talking about sin generally. Kind of like when the woman at the well didn't want to deal with her own problems so she decided to argue about where to worship in John 4.
The tie to ontology.
- Somehow, the idea has gotten around that it is a sin to BE certain things. I would never tell anyone it is a sin to be gay or lesbian.
- If by that they mean attraction, no one can help to whom they are attracted. Believe me, if I could only be attracted to my wife, I would be. As it is, I am attracted to probably 2/3 of the female population. I don't lust after them. I don't flirt with them. I certainly don't have sex with them. The fact of my attraction is an annoying part of life, kind of like my need for deodorant. Another person's attraction is equally not a sin, although the hopelessness might be more difficult.
- If they mean that they see themselves as part of a subculture, even that is not a sin. I am part of a number of subcultures, some of which define themselves in important ways by doing things I won't do.
- If they mean that it is a sin to BE gay meaning a person who not only wants to engage in same sex intercourse, but who has done so, even still, past is past. It does make you who you are and action begets ontology, but it doesn't mean your continued existence is sinful. In fact, quite the opposite, it would be a sin for a person to end their existence.
- And that's the ultimate thing. People die because they think it is a sin to BE something that they can't help but be either because they have an attraction, are part of a subculture, or have done certain things in the past.
- Everyone has a right to BE, perhaps even more profoundly, everyone IS. I am many things I never should have become. I am many things I wish I weren't but I had no choice about. I am not always sure which of these are which.
I respect freewill.
- Quite different than Peterson, mentioned in my last blog, I am not a Calvinist. I don't think that grace is irresistible. I don't believe that atonement is limited; literally anybody can be saved. I don't think that election is unconditional; you have to choose to accept the election. (I don't believe that depravity is total, for that matter; believing we retain the image of God despite our fallen states. That doesn't have anything to do with our argument here).
- God gave us the right to chose to do things He doesn't want us to do. I don't think God can create a rock He can't lift, but I do think he could look at the smallest pebble and decide never to lift it. That's what he's done with our free-will.
- Evil hurts people. When people make the argument that they're "not hurting anyone" or "only hurting themselves" they are acknowledging this aspect of evil. Unless God allowed people to be hurt, innocent people to be hurt, there would be no evil.
- Unless people could choose evil, there would be no possibility of love because love is freely given.
- So, I have to let them be hurt too. I can do what I can to protect myself and my family, but even though they are hurting themselves and others by creating a wall between themselves and God, I have to let it go.
- Certainly, if people have never heard that this hurts people, I can step in, but do you honestly think there's a gay person among the 1.5 million (based on the 5% stat) of them there are in America who haven't heard that it's a sin?
- I think enough of them have been clobbered with the "it's a sin" thing and at some point we have to let people sin.
So, Yes, I am convinced that homosexual acts are sins.
I think this is the real conclusion of Plato's Phaedrus (although plenty of readers and NAMBLA would say differently): that love between men cannot become sexualized. I am pretty sure that if we take Aristotle's notions in Oikonomikos regarding the necessity of fealty to a wife and his concept of law in keeping with nature, he came to the same conclusion. Cicero certainly read Aristotle that way and agreed with him in several speeches of invective against the way Romans were living. Read especially his speeches against Verres, Cataline, Cicero's defense of Pulcher and all Cicero's Philipics. Those three men had more reason than anyone in our culture to take a fond view of homosexual activities and were certainly speaking to a culture where no one had heard it was sin. Paul was speaking to that same culture when he wrote.
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality [οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται], nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 9-11).Paul used two words, just to be clear, that neither partner was okay in these situations. My opinion is that the original readers didn't need an explanation as to "why" because they had Aristotle, Plato, and especially Cicero ringing in their ears. This could have even been citing a Ciceronean phillipic. It reads like one. I wouldn't know. Lots of Paul's audience would know though and whether or not it is a direct quote, they would recognize the similarities.
Cicero explained the destructiveness of these type of relationships that are primarily physical and not for the formulation of a household. He explained that there is an inextricable tie between physicality that destroys any possibility of true friendship between men once this potentiality exists between them. He shows how these liason's eventually crushed Marc Anthony, and other individuals and even hypothesizes that it was a major factor that destroyed Greek civilization and that was destroying Rome. It is what people mean when they talk about Roman "excesses."
Early Greco-Roman Christians were watching everything Cicero said would happen happening. That's who Paul is speaking to. They were watching the "Kingdom of Rome" end and were warned that such things would not be allowed to bring down the "Kingdom of Heaven."
Nothing has changed since that time in terms of what makes us human. Nothing has changed about what makes people do the things they do and nations rise and fall.