A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Bible Says...

The trial of Jane Spahr commences soon for her blessing of two same sex unions. Blessing love between two committed people is in some cases to much to handle for the church. I have to think the church's mission has seriously run a ground when this becomes the case.

I've had some comments critical of my stance of inclusion because it doesn't fit biblical standards. I admit, I question whether such a standard exists. The vision of relationships change over time, once allowing for multiple wives that we no longer consider normative.

And I question whether two middle aged lesbians married at city hall are ever addressed in the Bible. The passages frequently quoted on this subject appear to deal with abusive and exploitative situations, pedastry in 1 Cor., gang rape in Sodom, idolatry in Romans.

I don't think the point is to relativize the Bible, though an argument can be made for such a move. It is to seek to identify what the authors are, in fact, addressing. There's an ahistoricism that assumes our debates and controversies are invariably found in the Bible.

I think a better model would be to look at Paul's description of the fruits of the spirit and his description of love in 1 Corinthians and when we find such things in a relationship, regardless of gender, the church needs to bless and support and be there for such couples.

I apologize for my poor rate of postings. I'm headed to a political shindig in Philadelphia this weekend and hope to visit the church of Beth Stroud's partner as well as a student based and successful liberal protestant campus ministry at the University of Pennsylvania. I'll follow up with a post when I get back.


At 8:51 AM , Blogger Alan said...

This case will likely get thrown out like most of the others in the PCUSA.

There is no Biblical Standard that condemns committed same-sex relationships. But that's an argument that can't be won. This debate will continue until younger, more inclusive minds start running the church. Or until the old, closed-minded set runs it into the ground.

At 9:54 AM , Blogger Neil said...

Love between two people of any type is a great thing. What you are implying, though, is that adding sex to the equation makes the relationship better. I reject that.

Romans 1, for example, is not just about idolatry. It is one of the most clear and unassailable condemnations of homosexual behavior in the Bible. Check out the original Greek. It condemns the behavior of those who abandoned their original function (not desire, as some twist it).

It is sadly ironic that those who are in deep rebellion against God will miss the point of Romans 1, which is that being in deep rebellion to God is bad place to be.

100% of the verses in the Bible referring to God's ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman. Jesus is quoted on this several times in the Gospel. Your reasoning that the Bible didn't specifically condemn "committed" homosexual relationships is a poor argument from silence.

At 1:39 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

"adding sex to the equation makes the relationship better. I reject that."

I don't think it must make it better nor must it make it worse. It depends on the nature of the particular relationship, in terms of love, committment, building each other up.

Given the multiple wives which are implicit and explicit in the OT law, I'm not sure how you came up with that 100% figure?

I'm not arguing that the Bible is pro-gay, I'm saying that it doesn't address the issue of healthy, loving relations which are same gendered. Romans 1's list of vices pretty much defines what is being addressed in the particular.

I suppose the general problem of idolatry addressed in the section fits us all, treating the finite as the infinite, treating our values as something representing more than that, if anything folks on both sides of the debate can follow under judgment of the first chapter.

At 3:01 PM , Blogger Neil said...

Dwight, the Bible records many things that God didn't necessarily approve of. It does not show God wanting people to have multiple wives. It does show the consequence of multiple wives. Look at the verses specifically related to God's ideals for marriage - the beginning of Genesis, Jesus' words, Paul's writings (leaders should be "the husband of but one wife"). It is pretty clear that 100% of the verses relating to God's ideal for marriage is one man-one woman, 100% of the verses referencing any homosexual behavior denounce it in the strongest terms, and 0% of verses (zero!) address homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way. That is pretty compelling in my book.

Again, the notion that the Bible doesn't specifically address "committed" glbt relationships is the worst kind of argument from silence. I think we would agree that gay-bashing is sinful, but using your logic it must be ok since the Bible didn't specifically condemn it.

I encourage to really study Romans 1 in context - this link has a good outline - http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5301

At 4:13 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

I'm not arguing that because there is silence on the issue there is consent for it. I'm saying that because there is silence on it, we have to do the best we can in working out an appropriate Christian sexual ethic.

At 6:02 PM , Blogger Neil said...

When the Bible says over and over that marriage is to be between one man and one woman, and no exceptions are given, then it is also saying what marriage is not . . . it is not between a man and a dog, or two women, or 2 men and a woman, etc. This is really not that complicated. Do you really think God is in heaven regretting that He forgot to say gay unions were wrong? P.S. here is a good link on debunking pro-GLBTX theology - http://www.leaderu.com/jhs/dallas.html

At 6:23 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

I'm not sure how the multiple wives, held up in Jewish law (presumably God's law, if I'm reading you right), fits your claim?

Today's society is focused on marriage and family in a way which is almost baffling in comparison to the NT in particular, where Paul advises against marriage.

We're the ones with this focus, not the Bible. And that's not a problem per se, maybe it's more of an issue now, but to try to piece together a Christian vision of marriage saying what the Bible says won't yield much.

Like any ethical work, any reflective act, it's going to take piecing together what we have out of the tradition, what resources we have in the sciences, experience, and the like and seeing what ethic can come of it.

At 8:38 PM , Blogger Neil said...

Wow, you crank out smokescreens pretty quickly. Please show me in the Bible where God says his ideal is having multiple wives.

Paul merely points out the pros and cons in 1 Cor. 7 and gives his PERSONAL opinion.

By your logic, you could marry your dog because while Leviticus labels it as a gross sin alongside homosexual behavior, it never specifically addresses a "committed" relationship with your dog.

"Like any ethical work, any reflective act, it's going to take piecing together what we have out of the tradition, what resources we have in the sciences, experience, and the like and seeing what ethic can come of it."

Spoken like a true pagan. Please stop claiming to be a Christian. It is intellectually dishonest.

At 12:43 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

I'm not saying that abscence of a subject matter in the Bible means therefore we ought to do the thing in question. It's a leap you insist on making for some reason.

I am saying that when there is such an abscence, we need to draw from what we can in the Bible, in the tradition, and other resources and try to work out a proper ethic in such a situation.

That's not pagan, it's the key components of reflective thought. When reflective thought is put into opposition to Christianity, our faith loses out. A good number of folks never make it through the church doors because they actually believe that such things must be in opposition. Christian faith is not built up with such a view.

At 5:35 AM , Blogger Neil said...

Your rebellion shines through when you claim the Bible doesn't address this. The Bible couldn't be more clear. Homosexual behavior is condemned in the strongest possible terms 100% of the time it is mentioned. 100% of the verses relating to God's desires for marriage specifically involve one man and one woman. 0% of verses refer to homosexuality in a positive or even benign way. I think that 100%, 100% and 0% are as clear cut as you could get.

At 10:46 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

I'm still wondering what passages you have which speak of God's "ideal vision" because that category apparently is able to invalidate multiple wives. Jacob has them, there's no indication that this is a problem, appears to be a blessing for him.

If you can ignore that to ride on your 100% figure, if you can picture that the Sodom story means two middle aged lesbians in love cannot marry at city hall, we've just got such vastly different ways of reading scripture that I'm not sure if we are in a position to argue over the Bible.


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