Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Peaceful Debate

A gentleman named Gary Baker had commented on Enemy of the Republic’s blog regarding the issue of whether or not homosexuality is a sin. If you've never visited Enemy of the Republic's blog--do so! She's thought provoking, spiritual with a sense of awareness that's amazing. She's an incredible writer with a huge heart for others. She's one of my favorite bloggers out there.

Gary’s quite different in his approach on this matter. He questions me, instead of belittling me. He brings the issues up on the table, without judgment; without anger. His tactful ways of telling me his beliefs were so wonderful, that I wanted to share this with you all. It’s people like him that give me hope. He’s real, he’s claiming he’s human (a sinner like all of us) and he speaks boldly. So, thank you Gary, for showing me your human side!
Here's Gary's note to me:

Deb,

Okay, here is where I am coming from: I don't hate sinners. That would be stupid and self defeating. I am one! And the Bible teaches that God doesn't play favorites. I don't encourage anyone to hate. What I do get very nervous about is when people claim that homosexuality is not a sin under scripture. Here is my reasoning:You bring up the verses in Leviticus. I agree and disagree with your points. According to your blog, you say that Christ did away with the old law. I agree that Christ did away with the sacrificial system (animals) for sin, because that was his purpose, but there were a number of Old Testament laws and traditions that remain in force. For example, the Jewish feasts were proclaimed to be observed always. None of this is relevant to the issue at hand, though. The other examples you mention in your blog (shellfish, for example) are part of Jewish ceremonial law. Gentiles, believer or not, were never commanded to follow ceremonial law. Nevertheless, there is a significant part of Leviticus in the area that you quote.

You quote Lev 18:22 - “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin." You also parenthetically mention the entire chapter. Along with the single line referencing homosexual activity, it gives a list of other things. There is a long list about incest, in great detail as to what is considered bad. It also includes sleeping with your neighbor's wife, child sacrifice, and bestiality. I find it hard to accept that God would be "okay" with any of the other things. So, considering the company it keeps, I have a hard time believing that God is "okay" with homosexuality. Now many, Christian and otherwise, claim that the entire chapter only applies to Jews. There is a flaw with that logic. The flaw is revealed in Lev. 18:24 - "Do not make yourself unclean in any of these ways; for so have those nations whom I am driving out from before you made themselves unclean."Those that God was referring to were the inhabitants of the promised land before the Jews showed up. God said that because of these types of sin, he was "driving them out." That's a very polite term. Today we would call it genocide, because God decreed that every man, woman, and child was to be killed. Again, these were not Jews. They were not believers. These were people that God had no relationship with.
Despite that, He judged them, and the judgment was pretty harsh.

Now you make two other points on your blog that I would like to question. You say at one point that the scriptures in the New Testament refer to orgies or promiscuity, not a committed relationship. You also point out that Jesus said nothing condemning homosexuality. Here are my points:

Jesus did not condemn homosexuality explicitly.
Jesus did not condemn promiscuity explicitly.
Jesus did not condemn prostitution explicitly.
Jesus did not condemn slavery explicitly. (A blast from the past!)

Jesus did not address many things explicitly. Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, addressing a Jewish crowd. Most of them knew the basics of the law (and if you think Jesus ever came to tell people to disregard the law, look how many times he quoted it and told others to refer to it). He came to clarify the points that people were unclear or misapplying. If there was not any confusion or ambiguity, there would have been no need to address every point. Interestingly, in the cases where he did address the law, at the same time he was promoting mercy, he was also calling for a higher standard. (Lust = adultery, hate = murder). Considering that he was urging us to give our best in other areas, I don't think he was advocating lowered standards for sexual purity. As I've said before this is not about hatred of anyone for me. I have sin in my life that God is still working on me about. I pray daily for guidance in all things. I have no desire to stir up people against anyone and I really have no desire to get into people's sex lives. At the same time, if people are promoting something as "good" that God says is "bad" I feel compelled to make it clear that there is another viewpoint.

I don't think homosexual believers are going to hell any more than any other believer is, but I do think that there is always a penalty for going against God's word. For those unbelievers, still under judgment, the scriptures promise that judgment will be severe. For believers, any sin breaks fellowship and results in lost blessings. And when believers teach what is unholy as being holy, the matter gets worse. Mat 5:19 Whoever then goes against the smallest of these laws, teaching men to do the same, will be named least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who keeps the laws, teaching others to keep them, will be named great in the kingdom of heaven. And that's my piece on the subject. I am more than ready to listen to you.

My response to Gary:

Gary,

As I also believe that incest, child sacrifice, and bestiality harm the body and spirit. It’s all in Leviticus, but what I’m trying to point out is, the promiscuity and ‘lusts’ of the homosexuals who were just as immorally sexual as the heterosexuals who took part in this. I’m referring to homosexuality in the terms of the romantic/loving way. I do see your point though! I won’t say that I don’t understand why you believe that—because it’s evident and your points are really interesting! So thank you for showing me more than what most people have shown me. If my faith was weak, I’d probably sway my thoughts a bit and say, “Hmmm.” But, here’s where I come to believing so strongly that homosexuality is not a sin, or any other ‘human nature’ type of action isn’t- due to the law passing away.

Galatians 3

Faith Is the Only Way


1You stupid Galatians! I told you exactly how Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross. Has someone now put an evil spell on you? 2I want to know only one thing. How were you given God's Spirit? Was it by obeying the Law of Moses or by hearing about Christ and having faith in him? 3How can you be so stupid? Do you think that by yourself you can complete what God's Spirit started in you? 4Have you gone through all of this for nothing? Is it all really for nothing? 5God gives you his Spirit and works miracles in you. But does he do this because you obey the Law of Moses or because you have heard about Christ and have faith in him?

6The Scriptures say that God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith. 7And so, you should understand that everyone who has faith is a child of Abraham. [a] 8Long ago the Scriptures said that God would accept the Gentiles because of their faith. That's why God told Abraham the good news that all nations would be blessed because of him. 9This means that everyone who has faith will share in the blessings that were given to Abraham because of his faith. 10Anyone who tries to please God by obeying the Law is under a curse. The Scriptures say, "Everyone who doesn't obey everything in the Law is under a curse." 11No one can please God by obeying the Law. The Scriptures also say, "The people God accepts because of their faith will live." [b] 12The Law isn't based on faith. It promises life only to people who obey its commands. 13But Christ rescued us from the Law's curse, when he became a curse in our place. This is because the Scriptures say that anyone who is nailed to a tree is under a curse. 14And because of what Jesus Christ has done, the blessing that was promised to Abraham was taken to the Gentiles. This happened so that by faith we would be given the promised Holy Spirit.


Then I have the story about the immoral woman who was accepted by Jesus only due to faith alone.

Reference to Luke 7:36-50---the full story is in my previous post.

So, with faith and love, she was saved. Jesus didn’t tell her anything other than she was saved---due to her faith alone.

Here’s another reason why my belief system is so strong. See, years ago, I struggled through an intense moment in my life. I came to God and prayed and prayed…and prayed some more. He poured His spirit upon me and I have never been the same ever. The weird part about this was, I was vacationing in Provincetown, MA (a gay mecca) where it’s full of the GLBT community. My girlfriend and I were in our suite getting ready to go out, when I started feeling something INTENSE. I kept seeing visions of rainbows (and no – not the gay pride flags hung around each corner of the streets! ha) , but it shook me to the core and I fell to my knees, shaking and crying-----out of pure euphoria. I cannot explain how I exactly felt, because it was just out of this world. I knew it was God. From there, my relationship with God kept getting stronger and stronger. Every time- and I mean every single time I pray to God, He answers me, whether it be through the bible, a message from something I’ve heard on the radio or just the television set. Lately, He’s been sending doves to my deck when I pray. Now, call me crazy, and I will admit, I’m a bit off my rocker at times, but these miracles are just so amazing to me, that I cannot believe one word a “human” says, regarding if I’m “right” with God. So, with all due respect, my beliefs will never, ever change, because for me………..Jesus told me I was ‘okay’, that He loves me, and to spread the message of love to other people like myself, and those who are opposed to it.

I’m not saying I’m some sort of prophet or anything, however, I speak to Him on a daily basis and the answers are just incredible!!! I’m so excited about this, because each answer comes with a strong and more evident response. It used to be just a message through my senses, but now He’s revealed Himself to me!

“You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.” ~John 20:29

I believed before "seeing", and now I have seen, and my faith “to me” is now knowledge. But, I will not force my beliefs upon anyone, I can only share.

Thank you for taking the time out to address your beliefs and show me what you mean so articulately with the scriptures you referenced and how you brought it across with such tact!
I hope you can see why my faith is so strong. It’s not out of stubborness, it’s just out of experience and pure love I have for God.

God bless!

~Deb
If you're interested in hearing more about what happened to me, regarding my spiritual experiences, please check out my book on Amazon. I tell the story in complete detail. It's not only a book for the GLBT, but it's also geared towards heterosexuals and those who believe in God, and even more so for those who lack faith.

18 comments:

Amy said...

Ahhhh.

What a nice exchange between two people.

No yelling, no name calling, no accusations. Just a pure theological discussion.

Thank you both Deb and Gary.

Deb's readers can breath a sigh of relief today.

Thanks!

piktor said...

Deb, I'm with you, whatever you say. The world needs voices like yours to banish fear and ignorance. Yesterday I looked up some of the stories of the people mentioned in the youtube video.

You speak for them and for all crimes commited in the name of heterosexuality. Murder is the gravest of crimes but moral and cultural violence are as serious because they lead to extremes like homicide, verbal violence, psychological violence, moral violence, cultural violence. All in the name of heterosexuality!

Some are grand enough and will wrap their bigotry around God's Word.

They are full of hatred. You are full of God's Grace.

Rant on!

just me said...

You are a brave woman. These conversations are important but just make my head hurt. In spite of the fact I have a master's in theology and should be able to get in there and dialogue with the best of them...

QUASAR9 said...

He came to clarify the points that people were unclear or misapplying. If there was not any confusion or ambiguity, there would have been no need to address every point. Interestingly, in the cases where he did address the law, at the same time he was promoting mercy, he was also calling for a higher standard. (Lust = adultery, hate = murder). Considering that he was urging us to give our best in other areas, I don't think he was advocating lowered standards for sexual purity.

Powerful points from Gary.

Deb, "not all those who call my name, shall be saved - away from me!"

I think you should quote that to anyone who preaches hate or war
whether Gentile Christian or Christian Jew.

Incidentally the same applies to Muslims, - it is often stressed how Mohammed repeatedly avoided conflict or war with his persecutors - until his followers decided to proclaim war as a legitimate to expand their view of the 'true faith' across north Africa, to Constantinople and as far as India

Mind you so called christian kings were doing the same in Europe.

And the whole thing reached a head during the Crusades, when there was no clearly defined victor or Faith - in the battles for control of Jerusalem.

What Bush & previous US Presidents proclaim worldwide is not the christian faith, but capitalism and the hegemony of the US dollar

Which is no different to Roman or any other Imperialism - where the main gods are power & money. There being many other Roman gods - the god of commerce, the god of love, and Mars - The God of War.

Because it is good for the US economy?

The God of Christ is supposed
to be the God of Peace & Love


Unfortunately, It is often said that the survival instinct makes us kill rather than be killed.

Alas,
most people love to hate
most people love to cheat
most people love to lie
most people love to die
most people love to kill

Fortunately the rest of the time we are making love not war.

Jessie said...

Oh wow, see there is a way to have an intelligent debate without calling eachother "fag haters" and whatever else people shout and write on signs, and this guy proves it. These are the kind of christians that I respect the most, the ones who are open to learning and experiencing what others have to say. Fascinating, really.

Justice MH said...

I talk about homosexuality all the time and the bible too! I know there is nothing wrong with same-sex relationships!

I find argruing over what ancient people work a waste of time! God is love, and love is love!

Sandalina said...

Bravo to Gary!

This is how CHRISTIANS should talk to each other. :)

Anonymously Saying said...

Men and women who are comfortably heterosexual aren't obsessed with stamping out homosexuality. Normal, non-neurotic people don't care what other people do in the privacy of their own homes. Normal heterosexual men don't spend their Saturday nights responding to blogs to rile up the homosexuals--they're out with women. It is by no means coincidental that so many homophobes are also misogynists.

This guy Gary sounds too wishy-washy for me. He speaks with a soft tongue, but it's definitely forked and hypocritical.

Just beware, Deb.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Deb, Thanks for the plug and please know that I think you are a fantastic human being with a great blog. I admire your courage.

I agree with Anonymously Speaking: The people I know, be they male or female, who are comfortable in their heterosexual identity don't get all hot about homosexuals. I have seen this in my own husband. He is super macho and you know he is ex-military, a drill sergeant. He always told me that he avoided the homophobes because he wondered what they were really fighting. Most soldiers don't give a damn what goes on behind closed doors: they worry whether you have their back during combat. And that is all that matters.

ann said...

an interesting post and refreshing to see two intelligent points of view with no mudslinging.

Sandalina said...

This guy Gary sounds too wishy-washy for me. He speaks with a soft tongue, but it's definitely forked and hypocritical.

I don't agree. Wow. Sometimes there's no happy medium. LOL Either someone is too agressive, or too wishy washy.

A better word is that he is non-confrontational!

Lisa said...

How refreshing, enlightening, intelligent, compassionate, and respectful.

Funny.. although I've only read this post from Gary, it has really stuck in my mind. Yet for all the bluster Mark leaves around here, I can't remember a thing he says other than his insults. Something to take note of, Mark.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Deb and Gary - thank you for an intelligent and faithful (on both sides of the question) discussion. To quote Paul, "We all see through a glass darkly" and have plenty of "beams" on our own eyes - Whether we agree or disagree with each other, to discuss our points of view intelligently and with respect for the other side helps each of us grow. And I firmly believe that Christ is present in the exchange.
Blessings to you both!

Gary Baker said...

Deb,

Thanks for thinking and linking. Perhaps we shall discuss again sometime. If not, I shall give you a hug when I see you in heaven.

Bossy♥'s YOU said...

hope u had a great weekend..
:)

Dr. Deb said...

Love is love.
I don't believe it is a sin.

Matt-Man said...

To heck with this Gary dude, I miss Maniacal Mark...Wow, now there's a case study for the ages. Cheers Deb!!

Natalia said...

Wouldn't things be so much easier if we just did away with religion and the only valid religion were to love yourself, love others, respect other people's choices, etc.

That's the only valid religion to me.

-N