A MATTER OF INTEGRITY: The Church, sexuality, inclusion and an open conversation

In January 2013, Steve Chalke, founder of Christian charity Oasis and leader of Oasis Church Waterloo published an article entitled ‘A Matter of Integrity’.  In this article, Steve raised asked honest questions about how we interpret the bible, particularly in relation to same-sex relationships.  However, the main purpose of the article was to call the Church to an open and honest conversation on these issues.

This blog seeks to help facilitate that conversation.  We invite you to read Steve’s article and leave your own thought, comments and questions below.

NB While all views are welcome we ask that all comments are expressed with compassion, respect and tolerance to those that might disagree with us.

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296 thoughts on “A MATTER OF INTEGRITY: The Church, sexuality, inclusion and an open conversation

  1. Pinson

    I would like to add a few points to the discussion. Reference was made in this discussion re: Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel 16:49 however states that the sin of Sodom was that they ” arrogant, overfed and unconcerned, they did not help the poor and needy.”
    There are only six verses in the Bible that make reference to the gay issue, whilst there are over 2300 verses in the Bible that discuss how we deal with the poor and the oppressed. Even though the Bible does make reference to ‘sexual immorality and perversion’ in the context of Sodom and Gomorrah, there is no direct reference to homosexuality. The real reason was their arrogance, the fact that they were overfed and unconcerned and did not help the poor and the needy.
    It seems to me that today’s evangelical Western church has totally mixed up the priorities of the Kingdom of God. It seems to me that issues of sexuality have become the defining factor, and in particular our stance on homosexuality?
    But do we really take issues of arrogance, gluttony or the way we treat the poor as serious? I am afraid not.

    I find it remarkable that throughout the four Gospels Jesus makes no mention of homosexuality. As the life of Jesus is the defining factor through which I read and interpret the Bible, I come to the conclusion that Jesus had other priorities.
    Finally, in his article Steve seems to avoid the issue of how we need to regard homosexuality in a Biblical context. My personal conviction at this moment is that homosexuality is not what God originally intended things to be, and as such a consequence of the Fall. I believe a lot of gay and lesbian people would prefer to be heterosexual if they had the opportunity to change. If this is the case, I believe it is the obligation to pursue what is right within that context of brokeness. This brokenness is something every human has to deal within one form or another, whether that expresses itself in our sexuality, mentally or fysically or in the world we live in. It certainly can’t be a basis for superiorit or division.
    I think there are a number of options that sincere gay or lesbian christians have chosen between through the years, that range from abstinence and celibacy to marriage. Steve’s choice to advocate for gay marriage as a legit option seems legit, yet may not feel very inclusive to sincere gay or lesbian christians who have made other choices.

    Reply
    1. Questionner

      I disagree totally that ‘a lot of gay and lesbian people would prefer to be heterosexual if they had the opportunity to change. If this is the case, I believe it is the obligation to pursue what is right within that context of brokeness.’ – it is often as a church (and society) pushing onto people our attitudes that as heterosexuals we are ‘right’ and that all those who don’t share those attitudes must be changed to conform. I know a number of people who have fought with their homosexuality, been dreadfully unhappy and finally found happiness in a fulfilled, monogamous relationship.

      We are all broken, all in different ways. But I don’t believe that casting homosexuality as sin is correct. As Steve said, promiscuity is wrong and of course we should preach and teach against that. But loving, faithful, monogamous relationships are not. And we should celebrate those in whatever way they manifest themselves.

      Reply
      1. Pinson

        I did not use the word sin, I used the term brokeness! I have mentioned marriage as one of the options – so I don’t think we really disagree….

      2. Phil Groom

        Call it sin, call it brokeness, Pinson: you’re still saying being gay is somehow not right; and it’s that approach that excludes and pushes LGBT people to the margins and over the edge…

      3. Phil Groom

        I’m with Questionner on this: to echo Steve, why should we see this as any different to being left-handed or right-handed? Right-handed is the norm; that doesn’t mean left-handed is wrong; likewise hetero v/s homo.

      4. Fiona Wilson

        Most of the gay/lesbian people I know say that they do not feel broken and (especially when they have found the right person to love) that they would not choose to be heterosexual. They do however feel frustrated at having to constantly defend themselves and being made to feel that they are second class citizens in the Kingdom of God. Why can we not accept that love is love and that God made us all in His image to glorify him?

    2. Eric James Beach

      I was interested in your thoughts on Sodom and Gomorrah and how we interpret this controversial story in modern society. What follows is a short piece that I posted on my Facebook page a while back as I was interested to see what others thought about it. That wasn’t a very successful discussion starter – maybe I’ll have more success here.

      I hope this is useful / interesting / helpful [and doesn’t appear twice as I’m not sure whether I managed to post it successfully the first time!!]

      “Without a good understanding of the cultural background of the time, are we in great danger of misreading the Bible?

      “Over the summer I’ve been quite challenged by some of the reading I’ve been doing – challenged especially by learning more about the first century context of Jesus teaching and gaining a deeper understanding of how radical his message was and how the gospel writers and Paul put their message together to demonstrate this.

      “This took a new twist recently as I’ve started reading again the book of Genesis. I read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah while also reading about some of the atrocities carried out in wars in modern Africa. One of the most harrowing war crimes is that of rape, used often as a mechanism to break the spirit of those on the loosing side. And no one is spared women children and men.

      “So look at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The context of this story is the wars that the local war lords / kings were fighting; wars where whole families or clans were kidnapped, robbed of everything they own and forced into slavery. Even one of Abraham’s relatives was caught up in this and Lot and his family – the key players in this story – had to be released by force of arms.

      “So this begs the question – have we read a modern obsession with sexuality into this story when really this has nothing to do with a modern phenomenon, male homosexuality? These men were outsiders in the city, possibly from another clan, possibly considered to be ‘enemies’ of the town. I wonder whether the attempt to rape these men may have been in effect a ‘war crime’ – an attempt to humiliate them and send a message to the enemies of the state, “Don’t mess with us!!”

      “If that it the case then it would probably explain why there is so little other comment about homosexuality in the Bible and why Jesus is NEVER recorded as talking about it.

      “But if I am correct, what powerful implications it would have!! Instead of people thinking of God as someone who hates gays, we have a God who is seriously concerned about the injustices and atrocities perpetrated in wars around the world. This means that EVERYONE is acceptable within God’s family. And it fits with the rest of the Bible’s concerns about dealing with injustice!”

      Your thoughts?

      Reply
    3. David Shepherd

      You admit that the Bible does make reference to ‘sexual immorality and perversion’ in the context of Sodom and Gomorrah, but explain that there is with no direct reference to homosexuality.

      So what? The Genesis account is the source material for Jude’s warning, so the mention therein of the Lot’s neighbours, who demand that he relinquish the angelic visitors, who appeared as men, to fulfil their homosexual lusts frames his condemnation. Jude’s stern warning targets false teachers who are permissive of same-sex relations.

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  2. Phil Fox Rose

    Thank you Steve Chalke! What’s most exciting is for this to be coming from a prominent and respected evangelical voice in such a careful thoughtful way, asking from those who disagree not for surrender but for the beginning of a respectful conversation. I’m saddened but not surprised to see so many of the comments here retreading tired ground, but this is a process. I was delighted to call attention to this news and point to the long video and the full article in my blog on Patheos — not sure if a link will work here, but if so it’s here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philfoxrose/2013/01/britains-leading-evangelical-steve-chalke-endorses-same-sex-unions-and-more-video/

    Reply
    1. David Walsh

      Being a sodomite is wrong on soooo many levels, just accept it and move on. If people want to behave in that way, as a consenting adult with free will, that is up to them. But from a church point of view it is wrong and ultimately people will find out when they stand before God. In the meantime it is our responsibility as God’s people to warn the sodomites they are in danger of hell if they do not submit to God through Christ, repent of sin and begin to live for Him.

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  3. James

    This should had been said in the 80’s. Completely support all that has been said by Steve. Let us support and love our Homosexual brothers and sisters to allow them the freedom they deserve.

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  4. Shannon

    As a Christian, I too believe it is imperative that we live out the principles of justice, reconciliation and inclusion. The Church, which should be radically inclusive, has excluded LGBT people and left them vulnerable and isolated. It is good to remorsefully take responsibility for this and take steps to right our wrongs. I also agree that the Church should have addressed its attitude and actions toward the LGBT community a long time ago, and it is unfortunate that this important topic has been avoided up until now, when it is nearly impossible to separate what are already complex issues from the overlap with what is happening in the political arena.

    There must be a place for LGBT people in the church. However, I believe that the “real question facing the Church” is not “the nature of inclusion” but rather “how can the Church best love the LGBT community?” In order for churches to decide how they will move forward, an atmosphere of “generous spaciousness” would be most helpful. Unfortunately, churches are usually denied the collective space in which it is safe to wrestle and ask questions. We must find a way to extend the same space we allow ourselves when grappling with difficult topics to the larger church community.

    In direct response to the question regarding the application of the same principle to women, slavery, and committed gay relationships: the problem is that although these three categories seem to be analogous, there is very little evidence pointing to a scriptural trajectory for gay people that is similar to the trajectories scripture provides for slaves and women. This is explained well in the book Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals by William J. Webb.

    I agree that God “beckons each one of us out of isolation into the joy of faithful relationship,” but these do not need to be romantic/sexual relationships. For example, the Church community acts as a source of platonic intimacy and connection for those with the gift of celibacy. [I note that not all LGBT people have the gift of celibacy, and I haven’t fully worked out my position here – I’m still learning and growing]. It is not the church’s refusal to grant same-sex marriages that drives those in the LGBT community to loneliness, secrecy, fear and deceit but rather the historical hostility of the Church and the lack of a safe environment.

    In the sentence including the phrase, “when we blame them for who they are…” there is an assumption that one’s sexual orientation equals one’s identity. While this is a reality within the LGBT community, as Christians we believe that our identity is in Christ and all other identifiers are secondary to that core identity. This distinction is key because it has significant implications as we continue to grow and revise our theology.

    Even though we are far from a consensus, conversations like these give me hope that we are moving in the right direction. Progress, however one defines it, can only occur if churches are willing (or greatly pressured as the case may be) to engage in the discussion. I pray that the LGBT community will not be deterred from encountering the extravagant love of Christ.

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  5. Rodney Evan Jones

    I read Mr Chalke’s article having seen a report in my newspaper yesterday (which seemed to focus on the “furore” it caused). His arguments are very well put and references to the current issue of the place of women in the church and to the anti-slavery movement two centuries ago are most interesting and relevant. I am a member of the Church of England and can see no problem in offering inclusion to fellow members of the Church who wish to enter into faithful same-sex unions. It is unkind and against the teachings of Jesus to deny the joys that most of us have experienced in traditional marriage to those who feel that they can only live happily with a member of the same gender. However, we should abhor promiscuity in any form.

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  6. Richard Shearwood aka mistersaxon on Twitter

    Do we actually need to refer to more than the Greatest commandment and that “like unto it”? Any judging, exclusion, dismissal or hatred is really incompatible with loving God, our neighbours and ourselves – and if we aren’t doing those things first then all the laws and all the prophets have no underpinning, howsoever we quote them.
    There will be a debate on whether acknowledging homosexual relationships with a marriage ceremony shows them love, perhaps (I would say it does but I accept that I have no authority for that), but, honestly, we all know heterosexual couples who have had a “big church wedding” and offered vows without knowledge of or belief in Jesus as saviour. I didn’t know God or Jesus when I got married and many of what were then my wife’s and are now our friends urged my wife not to marry me – which would have shown no love or faith and would have hurt me hugely. I ask you this: which action brings the institution of marriage into more disrepute: Britney Spear’s 10-day marriage or a loving, exclusive, supportive union between two people of the same gender? (Note: I am sure that I am using the G-word incorrectly as viewed by members of the LGBT community but I am going to have to crave indulgence and ask for understanding).
    Steve – hear hear! This should have been said a long time ago although I imagine it would have been harder to say then and cost even more than it did.

    Reply
    1. David Shepherd

      ‘I ask you this: which action brings the institution of marriage into more disrepute: Britney Spear’s 10-day marriage or a loving, exclusive, supportive union between two people of the same gender?’

      A false dichotomy? Both are equally unrepresentative of permanent kinship formation. Neither actually involve a permanent reunion (one flesh) of physically parted by God into opposite genders by design in creation.

      As much as Christ said of divorce can be said of same-sex copulation: ‘It was not so from the beginning’.

      Reply
  7. Eric

    And also, what about hermaphrodite and intersex? I have friends who were borned as hermaphrodites and I have friends who are intersex. The bible do not talk about it but yet many churches judge them on the cover but not the book. Anyway, thanks Steve. You are utterly amazing. Thank you for being the voice and not away.

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  8. Mygoatybeard

    I salute Steve’s bravery and compassion, and his servanthood. Yet I am torn between the heartfelt cry for love and inclusion, and the sense that the bible continues to see homosexuality as (at the very least) less than ideal.

    At first sight this seemed a cut-and-dried argument of the OT law being overturned: “…none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God” quotes Steve.

    But then is Steve making it sound like it is OK to be disabled? Whilst it is no barrier to coming to God, it is not something any church I know celebrates. In fact I’ve heard many prayers for healing of those who are sick or disabled which have to be done carefully to affirm the individual (often we fail here) whilst recognising the disability is outside God’s ideal.

    Likewise, there can be no barrier to homosexuals coming to God. But that doesn’t make it something to celebrate.

    We continue to have an OT view of perfection being desirable don’t we? And that should include physical, spiritual and sexual perfection. That should mean no sex outside marriage (do we still all think that?). I don’t ‘celebrate’ masturbation. I don’t ‘affirm’ those lustful glances. I want purity and perfection. I might not collapse in misery when there is a lapse of purity, but I ask for strength to do better, and certainly don’t celebrate it. Steve hasn’t given an argument that would allow homosexual behaviour to be described as perfection – something for a Christian to aspire towards.

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  9. Liberty Church (@libertychurchbp)

    Thank you Steve for your courageous statement.

    I am one of the pastors of an evangelical charismatic church in Blackpool reaching out to the gay community. Gay people make up the majority in our congregation. We see gay people come to know Jesus and we then see them minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have conducted many services of Blessings for Civil Partnerships.

    When Peter reported back to Jerusalem that he had ministered in a Gentile household he was criticised by the Apostles. Their opposition was due to their belief that the Gentile were inferior to Jews and unclean. However when Peter reported that the Gentiles had been baptised in the Holy Spirit the Apostles changed their theology and Gentiles were accepted as equals in the churches ( Acts 11.17).

    We would love evangelical and charismatic Christians to come among us, see what God is doing in gay Christians, and take the risk that their experience may impact their theology. A courageous few have done so.

    Thank you again Steve.

    Nina Parker http://www.libertychurchblackpool.org.uk

    Reply
    1. Iain Strachan

      That’s amazing! As someone disillusioned with evangelicals over this very issue of the way homosexuals are treated, you have given me some hope. I’ll share something from my own journey that prompted me to change my views. I also attend an evangelical charismatic (Anglican) church. The leadership are not pro-homosexual. One evening in worship, we were encouraged to share “pictures” we had received during the worship. I had been putting some thought into the issue of homosexuality and how one should respond as a “straight” Christian. An image popped into my mind during this time of sharing pictures that I didn’t have the courage to speak out. The image was of a man wrapped in a cocoon, but the cocoon wasn’t protecting him, it was suffocating him, and there was a desperation to get out. That picture prompted me to really look into the issue of being gay and a Christian. I read the testimonies of gay Christians & could not deny that their experience of God in their lives was just as authentic as mine. And so I changed my position and made an effort to speak out on this issue. I’ve had a lot of stick for it, but that’s to be expected from those who are controlled by fear. So good to see someone as prominent as Steve Chalk making the same stand, and taking a lot more stick than I did!

      Reply
      1. Amanda

        Iain I’ve left Christianity for a number of reasons one of them being to me completely irrational position that Gods truth (absolute truth) is only to be found in Scripture. To me it is totally irrational for the real God, the possessor of all power all truth to condense all that truth into a book. When we accept that, then we are open to speak to God heart to heart and hear what he has to say now. Rather than that being a liberal approach it is the most humble approach. Yes some will say Gods truth is unchanging so all truth can only be found in scripture but I ask you to consider how loving is that scripture, does it adhere to the golden rule, would you like to be treated in that way and does it have wisdom and if still in doubt keep keep keep praying for answers to come to you from wherever they will.

      2. Iain Strachan

        Amanda, I would say that God’s truth is unchanging, but the problem is that Scripture is only a window into that truth, that is mediated by words. Words and language are ambiguous and always have to be interpreted. Interpretation requires taking into account the context of the text, and also the cultural context. A silly example: “All this I will give you if you bow down and worship me”. Out of context perhaps it sounds reasonable, but the speaker is Satan – given the context, our interpretation is quite different.

        Likewise I quoted I Cor 14:34-35 (used by Steve as well) about women remaining silent in church and seeking instruction from their husbands at home, as an example of cultural context. Someone corrected me – in his view the textural context indicated that it was addressing a specific situation in a specific church ( uninformed use of spiritual gifts). I actually don’t agree here – it’s about women not even speaking, let alone exercising spiritual gifts, but it’s interesting that he was willing to cite context in this case, but folks are unwilling to cite context in passages about homosexuality, but simply assert that it means a universal prohibition. Equally there are a number of times I’ve seen on this thread the phrase “cultural nonsense” as if that’s an argument.

        So you can argue back and forth this way and that about the meaning of Scripture, and it comes down to an unproductive mutual “my interpretation is right and yours is wrong” kind of battle. Instead, as you have said, humility is the best approach.

        I believe the reason for all the opposition is fear: fear of change, fear the whole thing will fall apart if we change, etc. And a by-product of fear is the desire to control, which in turn leads to narrow mindedness.

      3. David Shepherd

        ‘it’s about women not even speaking, let alone exercising spiritual gifts, but it’s interesting that he was willing to cite context in this case, but folks are unwilling to cite context in passages about homosexuality,’

        It’s unfortunate that while you preferred to ‘agree to disagree’ on interpretation without further exchanges (that you viewed as unproductive), you have chosen to go beyond citing your misgivings to further claim that ‘the reason for all the opposition is fear: fear of change, fear the whole thing will fall apart if we change, etc.’ This is as much of a caricature of our motivation as those who oppose your view claiming that proponents of church approved gay monogamy are obsessed with theological novelty.

        If Steve Chalke’s goal is for Christians to engage in a mature reflective debate, then let’s do that. Whatever view that you hold, attempts here to caricature the opposing view as either driven by fear or pursuit of novelty will not help any side of this debate.

        I set the tone by constructively responding in a manner that eschewed the oft cited pick’n’mix approach. You could at least give some credit to the motivation of those who hold a different view.

        Concerning your statement, if Paul’s prohibition on women speaking meant absolute silence, he would not have claimed: ‘And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head—it is just as though her head were shaved.’ (1 Cor. 11:5). Synagogue worship (upon which the early church liturgy was based) consisted of the reading of the Law and the Prophets, an initial explanation of key points by a well-schooled elder and then the opportunity for open discussion ‘After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.” Given that women were at that time unschooled, it explains why Paul limited participation in this part of the ministry.

        Please have a look at the following in respect of the order of early church and synagogue instruction:
        http://www.academia.edu/194853/_Torah_Instruction_Discussion_and_Prophecy_in_First-Century_Synagogues_

      4. Iain Strachan

        To David Shepherd: you wrote “It’s unfortunate that while you preferred to ‘agree to disagree’ on interpretation without further exchanges (that you viewed as unproductive), you have chosen to go beyond citing your misgivings to further claim that ‘the reason for all the opposition is fear: fear of change, fear the whole thing will fall apart if we change, etc.’ This is as much of a caricature of our motivation as those who oppose your view claiming that proponents of church approved gay monogamy are obsessed with theological novelty.”

        I am very sorry if my opinion caused you offence – that was not my intention. Please note that I qualified it by saying “I believe the reason …”. It was an opinion, not an assertion, nor a “claim” as you put it. I accept that you say it’s a caricature of your position, and yet it remains my opinion. Perhaps that is unduly much due to my own experience in the past of clinging on to cherished beliefs for fear that my faith would collapse without them. (I was for a while hoodwinked by the whole Young Earth Creationism thing and felt that the Christian faith would be untenable if death occurred before the Fall. So I clung on to the pseudo-science put out by YECs even at a time when I realised that the science was untenable.)

        I am prepared to concede that your arguments concerning 1 Cor 14:34-35 may have some merit – evidently you have studied the context, and perhaps that may explain why the verse is there without having to resort to the old “Paul was a misogynist” line. Maybe you’re right. But my substantive point remains the same – in order to explain the verse and why it is not followed in practice today you had to use lots of cultural justification (women being unschooled at the time etc). Given that you seem quite at ease in using cultural explanations concerning this verse, it is surprising (to me) that more people aren’t prepared to explore cultural explanations when it comes to homosexual behaviours condemned in the Bible.

        For example, I have just looked up the venerable Matthew Henry commentary on the Bible (available online), and looked at what he said about Leviticus 18:21-22. Here is what he says, which I think is most interesting:

        II. A law against that which was the most unnatural idolatry, causing their children to pass through the fire to Moloch, Leviticus 18:21. Moloch (as some think) was the idol in and by which they worshipped the sun, that great fire of the world and therefore in the worship of it they made their own children either sacrifices to this idol, burning them to death before it, or devotees to it, causing them to pass between two fires, as some think, or to be thrown through one, to the honour of this pretended deity, imagining that the consecrating of but one of their children in this manner to Moloch would procure good fortune for all the rest of their children. Did idolaters thus give their own children to false gods, and shall we think any thing too dear to be dedicated to, or to be parted with for, the true God? See how this sin of Israel (which they were afterwards guilty of, notwithstanding this law) is aggravated by the relation which they and their children stood in to God. Ezekiel 16:20, Thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these thou hast sacrificed. Therefore it is here called profaning the name of their God for it looked as if they thought they were under greater obligations to Moloch than to Jehovah for to him they offered their cattle only, but to Moloch their children.

        III. A law against unnatural lusts, sodomy and bestiality, sins not to be named nor thought of without the utmost abhorrence imaginable, Leviticus 18:22,23. Other sins level men with the beasts, but these sink them much lower. That ever there should have been occasion for the making of these laws, and that since they are published they should ever have been broken, is the perpetual reproach and scandal of human nature and the giving of men up to these vile affections was frequently the punishment of their idolatries so the apostle shows, Romans 1:24.

        Interesting that he devotes more time to 21 than to 22. 21 was to do with idolatrous worship practices, causing the children to be sacrificed through fire and presented to the Canaanite idol Moloch. There are frequent references in the books of history and in the prophets to sacrificing one’s children through fire.

        In dealing with 22 & 23, he makes the connection at the end with Romans 1:24, that the lustful acts (including bestiality) were a _punishment_ for their idolatry, pretty much as Paul indicates “god gave them over to shameful lusts…”

        Both passages, therefore, according to Henry, relate to the consequences of idolatrous worship – the punishment was a slide into debauchery – an anything goes society were sexual experimentation went on between the same sex and even with animals.

        One has to ask the question if this is applicable to loving long term relationships between the same sex – to the many gay Christians who have nothing to do with idolatrous worship and such like. To my mind, plainly it doesn’t, because the cultural context indicates a different type of behaviour is being condemned.

        Once again, I am sorry if you felt my beliefs about “fear” were offensive or a negative contribution to the discussion.

      5. David Shepherd

        Hi Iain,

        Firstly, I believe that our exchange of thoughts can hold forth a better pattern of graciousness than has often typified religious debates. However, strenuously we may contend, to me, rule one is that my own conduct towards others, including you, should leave a more lasting positive impression than my sharpness of mind. I can only meet your thoughtful apology with the reminder that since we’ve both probably run up a hefty moral overdraft with God, any sense of personal offence rates as a petty cash! Consider it forgotten.

        ‘Given that you seem quite at ease in using cultural explanations concerning this verse, it is surprising (to me) that more people aren’t prepared to explore cultural explanations when it comes to homosexual behaviours condemned in the Bible.’

        I’ll address the Levitical prohibitions. The law is a mixture of direct revelation (Ten Commandments), ritual patterns that give an ancient people a rich culture of sacrificial symbolism and Moses-mediated concessions that recognise the Israelites as a mix of faithful and fallible people, some with short-sighted purposes who are evolving from an existing civil life and culture. The Mosaic divorce concession is a good example of how parts of the law are negotiated compromise with God. Yet, Moses reminds them of a future Mediator that would make the Mosaic settlement provisional: ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.(Deut 18:15) Christ had the authority to not only end the earthly symbolism with the perpetual remembrance of the cosmic impact of His heavenly sacrifice. He could also, like Moses, broker a New Settlement on new terms though His blood. ‘The son of man is even Lord of the Sabbath’. So, our only knowledge of what remains in force as an expectation of this life empowered by God’s grace and what is now remains expressly forbidden (e.g. divorce for any cause) is the written record of His chosen witnesses. Of course, there is much of today’s world that is extra-biblical and quite permissible. However, there is much that is contra-biblical and remains prohibited.

        I don’t think that most evangelicals hold to such a fundamentalist position as to discount the importance of cultural influences. Most evangelicals do, however, recognise that any prophet in the scriptures, while addressing his own contemporary experience can be carried far beyond his immediate context and original intention to express God’s omniscient mind before another audience much further along in time: ‘for prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:21). Balaam wants to curse Israel, but finds he can only bless them.

        The Ethiopian eunuch considered that Isaiah’s lament of the Suffering Servant (Is. 53:7,8) might be no more than decrying his own future persecution at the hands of the apostate king of Judah, Manasseh: He asks Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” As Philip and all Christians accept, Isaiah realised that the unrestrained truth of God revealed in His Messiah would be ultimately reach its climax in an access of the worst of mortal enmity towards God 700-odd years later. Peter explains this teleological curiosity about their prophetic revelations: ‘trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.’ (1 Pet. 1:11) Committing their history to a written record was also for the admonition of future generations: ‘These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come’ (1 Cor. 10:11)

        As he wrote to the Romans, Paul is ‘carried along’ in same way. He begins his epistle to the Romans with customary salutations and expresses his personal and spiritual motivations for wanting to reach them in person. As with the ‘leitourgos’ who undertook a personal obligation to fund a public benefit, like a new navy fleet, from their accumulated wealth, Paul’s accumulation of God-given insight imposes a responsibility on him to reach Jews and Greeks alike with the gospel. Habakkuk promised his Jewish contemporaries, trapped in an exile devoid of temple worship, that there was a faith that did not rely on those public externalisms; one that would restore them to their promised land and to full amnesty from the past. So too, Paul reminded his converts, in this time of moral exile, of God’s ultimate amnesty towards them, if they maintained a similar dependence: ‘the just shall live by faith’!

        Paul is now ready to soar aloft. His purview is now celestial as he survey the compounded guilt of mankind against God that makes his mission universal. There is no sense of addressing a pressing practical matter of church order. This is Paul in full flight driving home the universal need for a Saviour: ‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Rom. 1:18 – 20). Paul is charting an unfolding judicial alienation, in present indicative passive tense. literally, retribution is being revealed by God against all rebellion of mankind. Paul is saying (contrary to the characteristic bolt from the sky), retribution is an active principle in human affairs, it is revealed when we start to do as we please, as pangs of guilt and inklings of a future come-uppance recede from thought. It is characterised by that descent into a sociopathic indifference in pursuit of our own interest called hardness of heart. This is the universal course of human reprobation without the intervention of grace that makes God’s mission of amnesty in Christ a universal cause. Yet, no sooner has he roused Gentile consciences in chapter 1, than, in chapter 2, he sets upon the complacency those whose ancestry and pedigree might confer a knowledge of true morality. If anything, *this* is the charge than can be levelled at the church. Paul claims that the history of those blessed with even greater light, as much as Gentiles, is equally overshadowed by the same shameless chronicle of human wickedness. ‘You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples*?’ *heirosyleis, covetous misappropriation of sacred gifts. Paul states that covetousness IS idolatry (Col. 3:5)

        All people, regardless of orientation, have participated in this failure to look beyond and through the immediate, sensory and transient to see and mirror in their lives the transcendent, ever self-giving God, . We still feel that, if we give too generously, the vast stream of divine providence towards us will dry up. So we conserve resources with meanness and at the expense of genuine need elsewhere. We too bow to worldly powers and temporal fixes that will secure our short-sighted happiness, advancement and escape from the vagaries of this unpredictable temporal world. We too vaunt and pursue the goal of an artificial idealised environment of total security and sensory comfort. We too idealise love as an environment in which we pursue the often immoral dictates of compulsive sensory fulfilment. We too prize physical well-being and beauty as much as the Greeks did, and more so than character development and self-denial. We too worship and serve the creature more than the creator, who is to be thanked forever.

        Same-sex acts are the final concomitant symptom of a world relinquished to promote its goal of sensory fulfilment above congruence with the divine order revealed in our originating nature. Romans 1 is not just about temple prostitutes, it is a detailed pathology of our moral decline apart from the intervention of grace.

      6. Iain Strachan

        To David Shepherd:

        Thank you for your lengthy exposition of Romans. I do accept that you have a deep knowledge of scripture, and indeed, as you say Chapter 1 has relevance beyond the culture of its time. In modern times, as I’m sure we both agree, there is a focus on materialism, and also a modern form of idol worship – the cult of celebrity etc, as you have pointed out the obsession with beauty and body image and so forth. And this to does lead to seeking after sensory pleasures, and indeed homosexual acts – often out of a sense of sexual experimentation ( hence the modern term “bi-curious”).

        In all of these things, Romans 1 is as relevant to us today as it was in Paul’s time.

        However, is this relevant to what I’m saying, to what Steve is saying? I’m not sure it is. Steve strongly condemns promiscuity and one-night stands in his video presentation – saying they are “always wrong”. My understanding of the Romans passage is that the homosexuality (and the rest of the debauched behaviours described in the passage) are a punishment from God for the idolatrous worship (and could be seen in the same light today with modern society’s obsession with celebrity, beauty, body image etc). If we put such things before God, we descend into a lawless, promiscuous, pleasure seeking society.

        But when I was trying to make up my own mind about these issues, I read the testimonies of gay Christians on the internet, and it seemed clear to me that what they were like is not what I have described above. Many were involved in church activities and wanted more than anything to serve Christ. Many cried out and prayed to be released and changed from the unwanted same-sex attractions that they considered to be immoral. These, it seems to me were not idol-worshipping ( in the modern sense) pleasure seekers. Many have sought cures through “ex-gay therapy”. While it is true that some have managed, apparently, to make the transition to straighness, many more have failed, and been driven to despair and suicidal thoughts at their failure to change (some having forked out tens of thousands of dollars to get a cure!)

        That is why I do not consider the Paul passage in Romans to be applicable to loving, monogamous, same-sex relationships. The passage IS still relevant to our society today, and to a lot of what is going on. Looking at the culture of the time helps us to see what was meant by the passage, and how it applies in modern culture.

        In the mean time, we, the church, are causing terrible hurt and despair – read Tamzin’s post elsewhere on this thread to read of the isolation that is caused by our attitude; the fear to say who she is because of the consequences. I cannot, in all conscience, continue to have that attitude, though I once did – as I have said elsewhere about 25 years ago in witnessing to a gay man I told him that the bible said homosexuality was a sin and that he’d have to repent of it if he became a Christian. His subsequent “conversion” and renouncing of homosexuality was short lived – he realised he could not change, and hence rejected Christianity. I “shut the door of heaven in his face”, and I’m very sorry that I did not know what I know now of the thinking of such people as Steve Chalke and Benny Hazlehurst, because I would have approached it very differently. That way the man might have ended up a gay Christian instead of a gay atheist.

        Whilst I respect your devotion to scripture and to uphold what you see as the true interpretation of it, I cannot agree in this case that the passages in Romans and Leviticus apply to ALL homosexuality.

    2. David Shepherd

      Hi Iain,

      Thanks for your reply. Your last post maintained a distinction between those whom you describe as ‘involved in church activities and wanted more than anything to serve Christ’ and those who follow the behaviour described in Romans. It somewhat ‘begs the question’ to assume a conclusive distinction when Paul only describes the final effects on society. Within even Roman society, pederasty towards a late adolescent could be romantic, protective and committed. It had no relation to orgiastic behaviour.

      So, I don’t doubt the sincerity of those who struggled with their propensity towards homosexual attraction in the least. Christians struggle daily with all kinds of desires. In that struggle, the church’s role is to reassure, not reject. If Paul can encourage the Corinthians to rally around a penitent perpetrator of incest, we should do a lot more to reassure those who struggle to turn their backs on homosexual behaviour.

      If anything, this issue has raised an abiding concern about how church authorities focus unfairly those who struggle with the more overt sins. As an example, how many people do you think would turn up to a workshop aimed at ridding the participants of spiritual pride? Not many, I fear, unless certificates were presented at the end (and copied to the rest of the church) as proof that they had achieved genuine humility!

      In Hebrews 11, we read the roll call of faith, but included in that honour list of prophets are Samson and David. As you know,their sexual histories were far from exemplary, but they made it to the finish line. Perhaps, there’s hope for all of us.

      In the next chapter, we are then exhorted: ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’

      The sin which entangles (kai euperistaton) has an ease of overwhelming the believer. It’s our Achilles heel of temptation. Those whom you describe as having ‘cried out and prayed to be released and changed from the unwanted same-sex attractions that they considered to be immoral’ are facing the same sort of attacks on their susceptibilities. The trigger may be a remnant of their former lives. A photo, or sound that prompts an involuntary response. While Christians are encouraged to reject the call of these trigger experiences, the pattern is often a cycle of enlightenment, trial, failure and despair of ourselves before God. Yet, we are promised ultimate victory. Paul alludes to this in Romans:
      ‘We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
      So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ (Rom. 7:14 – 25)

      Each besetting temptation will be almost tailored to expose the susceptibilities of our former lives. However much failure may make us despair our ourselves, we should never despair of God. While church leaders often pinpoint overt propensities, I’m sure that there are churchmen who have never struggled with sexual sin, but who constantly wrestle with a sense of invincible pride.

      A worthwhile church endeavour would be for us all to learn something of this common struggle from each other, even though we may wrestle against vastly differing personal susceptibilities. I hope and pray that this will be the beginning of it.

      Reply
    3. David Walsh

      You are a poor and deluded fool. Come out from among them and be separate. God loves people irrespective of their sexual orientation, but we must leave our sin at the cross so we can experience resurrection life. We must help people out of sin not confirm them in it.

      Reply
  10. Imogen

    Thank you Steve for a thoughtful and detailed argument. I am an evangelical Christian and I have for a long time been very unsure of my views. I am looking forward to really studying your article to come to a clear understanding of the relevant scriptures. I am very sympathetic to your argument and I am shocked that as an evangelical woman I have cheerfully accepted the way scripture is interpreted to allow me to speak and yet I have not extended the same interpretation to Gay people. Thank you for challenging us all to really think about this, I pray that you will be honoured for this contribution to the debate rather than denigrated.

    Reply
  11. Andrew M

    OK – Steve Chalke (correctly) identifies that the church has not dealt well with people who are actively homosexual. We should repent of that.

    BUT then he makes a monumental error in rejecting scripture (I think his convoluted interpretation of some very plain speaking verses is equivalent to rejecting God’s truth) rather than exhorting believers to be more gracious.

    A lack of grace towards sinners is not godly but that does not mean that the sin is any less a sin. Men having intimacy with Men and Women with women is wrong according to the bible. Let’s preach that with an understanding that we are all sinners, but we cant drop some parts of the ible just because it suits us or some people are hurting.

    Reply
    1. Fiona Wilson

      But what you and everyone else who insists on sticking rigidly to a handful of verses is that we ignore or reinterpret a lot of scripture in light of more knowledge and greater understanding-and cultural practises. Why is this so different? Most reputable scientists/psychiatrists now agree that there is at least some credence in the “born this way” theory and that homosexuality is not an illness. Why not accept that love is love and that what 2 consenting adults do is between them and God?

      Reply
      1. Mygoatybeard

        Fiona. ‘Most reputable scientists/psychiatrists now agree that there is at least some credence in the “born this way” theory and that homosexuality is not an illness.’

        I don’t want to be difficult or unpleasant, but I really don’t understand this view. Surely it is also true to say, ‘Most reputable scientists/psychiatrists now agree that there is at least some credence in the “born this way” theory and that telling lies is not an illness.’

        Or we could substitute ‘looking at things lustfully’, or ‘cheating’, or simply, ‘laughing when somebody else has a misfortune’.

        We cannot base our understanding of morality purely on what is natural can we?

    2. Phil Groom

      Indeed not: just drop the B as you have done and lo: the iBle. Love it.

      Sorry mate, but you’re making the same mistake that so many do: taking your interpretation of what the Bible says as what the Bible says, and the two are not necessarily the same…

      Reply
  12. Jude Pearse

    I think Steve has shown himself to have an extremely caring heart towards including others. Some of the things he said reminded me of the story that Nancy Alcorn (founder of Mercy Ministries) tells in her book ‘Echoes of Mercy’. Nancy worked at a state correctional facility for delinquent girls. Lori was one of the girls Nancy met at the facility. This young woman had experienced rejection throughout her life and had been abused as a child. Lori tried to find fulfilment in lesbian relationships and hid behind a masculine appearance. When it was time for the girl to be released Nancy had encouraged her to find a church in her hometown. She assured Lori that any church would help her if she would seek help from them. A few days later Lori committed suicide. She had left a note saying that she had gone to church for help, but they wanted nothing to do with her. This is a true story and shows the reality of what churches are often like towards people who come from alternative lifestyles and backgrounds. Acceptance must come first before people’s lifestyles can begin to change. It cannot work the other way round, because people can only thrive in an atmosphere of acceptance.

    I don’t believe that same-sex sexual activity is right behaviour because of the damage it can cause to the individuals themselves, as well as society as a whole. But I don’t believe that it’s something that people can be expected to overcome overnight. One of the most helpful researchers on this topic is Dr Andre Van Mol. Some of his main findings are that children need a mum and a dad, not two mums, or two dads, homosexuality is not fixed, or unmodifiable, and same-sex sexual activity is associated with extensive and varying medical, psychological and mental health issues. More information regarding Andre Van Mol’s findings can be found on the following web pages:
    http://www.gotruth.com/breaux/new%20monica%20root%20files/new%20monica%20root%20pdf/Politics%20of%20Homosexuality.pdf
    http://www.redding.com/news/2008/jul/10/same-sex-marriages-effects-are-everyones/
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:srBNARQhr4AJ:www.cmda.org/WCM/CMDownload.aspx?ContentKey%3Dae3bde2f-e651-41c4-b192-d36583c07714%26ContentItemKey%3D039b49e3-fe3d4c4f94ee0c29234bd06d+andre+van+mol+homosexuality&hl=en&gl=uk

    From my own personal experience wrong behaviours like these are rooted in much deeper issues such as abuse, neglect, abandonment, and rejection. Sy Rogers (a renowned preacher) is just one of many examples of people who have struggled in this area because of past abuse. His story can be found at: http://vimeo.com/3273904. As his story suggests freedom is not an easy journey- it is a fight. But in order to find freedom people need a caring, supportive environment in order to overcome the difficulties they face.

    I think it is important to distinguish between disagreeing with what others do, and rejecting them. I think you can accept a person for who they are as a child of God without agreeing with everything they do. Including others is one of the most important things we can do in our lives. That’s why I’m glad that Steve has had the courage to bring this subject out into the open.

    Reply
  13. Jude Pearse

    Hi, please can you remove the recent comment I wrote? as there’s a couple of things I want to alter on this, and there doesn’t seem to be a way of editing my comment myself. Then I will re-send it. Thanks so much

    Reply
  14. Summerwhiner

    In common with many Christians, I have lived all my Christian life trying to walk the tightrope between the church’s teaching and my deep love for a close family member who has been in a faithful gay relationship for many years now. The only way through has been never to mention Chrisianity, and although that means denying who I am in order to respect who he is, I felt it was important so as to maintain a good relationship with him in the hope that someday, somehow, something might change.

    I do now believe that precious day may be dawning, and what you have said is courageous, timely and will eventually prove to be pivotal.

    I prayed at the turn of the year for God to give me an insight as to what was on his agenda for the coming year, both for me personally and for the church. I felt that he said:- ‘The church is coming home.Jesus said that with power from the Holy Spirit we would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), and geographically, that has largely been accomplished. However, there are sections within our own communities for whom the
    gospel has remained largely a closed book, in particular the LGBT community.’ I couldn’t imagine how it might happen, but I felt that God’s heart was for the church to address this during the coming year. When my attention was drawn to your article through Rev Ruth Scott’s Pause for Thought on Radio 2, I knew I had to read it, and it has just blown me away!

    I appreciate your reasons for side-stepping the issue of gay marriage, but I do wonder whether this debate has arisen because God is using it as a way to shake the church from its complacency and put it higher on the church’s list of priorities than it has ever been. It may be fanciful, but it does seem that David Cameron is as puzzled as anyone else as to why this is on the parliamentary agenda when it never featured in any manifesto!

    I do pray that, after prayerful consideration, the voices of some other prominent Christian leaders might be heard in unity.

    Reply
  15. Paul

    Congratulations Steve Chalke for your COURAGE, yes courage. As Christians we often complain that the secular world doesn’t allow us to “speak out” on the subjects we wish to for fear of derision by the community. Well,within the Christian community many of us also feel a deep fear of derision and rejection by the church community if we “speak out” on issues such as same sex relationships that Steve so excellently describes in his paper.

    Reply
  16. David

    Although I admire Steve’s candour and unambiguity, he is quite clearly wrong with his statement on “gay relationships”. The logic he applies to justifying homosexual relationships and how God responds to homosexual behaviour is crooked. If we apply the same logic to any other sin it just does not work. A liar is a liar a thief is a thief, a cheat is a cheat, an adulterer is an adulterer and a homosexual is a homosexual. We all understand that under those terms that sin is sin. So I guess Steve is not trying to re define marriage, but he is trying to re define what God calls sin. Just because God loves sinners does not change their sinful condition. Somehow Steve has made God to have only one aspect of His nature which is Love. But God is completely balanced in aspects of His nature and not one part of His nature can be preeminent at the detriment of another. This is basic Christian theology.

    Men and women became separated from God when Adam and Eve disobeyed, sinned and rebelled against God. They became sinners and as a result dissimilar to God. Having Adam as our ancestor means we inherit his sinful nature. However, Jesus came to offer the human race a way of coming back to God and becoming like their Heavenly Father again, but…………….God’s law demands death for sinners. Jesus Christ died for sinners. The New Testament teaches that if we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, (I.e the Son of God, God in a human body) and that He lived a perfect life, and died a vicarious death (in other words, satisfied the demands of God’s law which was the death penalty for sinners) then we would be spared from God’s judgment, have our sins removed and be given a new heart with new desires, not living any longer to please ourselves, but living to please God. In other words we have given ourselves to a new Master and we have become servants of God, in fact more than that we have become sons of the Living God. We receive this Salvation in the person of Jesus when we are prepared to give all of our life to Him. This means leaving our old sinful lifestyle in the past and pressing on for the new relationship with God. This is not exclusive to, but includes a homosexual life style. We are then encouraged to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit daily.

    For Steve to teach people that the written Word of God is not trustworthy and it is has be understood through the lens of a progressive knowledge of our age or culture or personal relationship with Jesus, the Word of God is, for the most part, a fallacy. The Bible, above all other books, is God’s perfect pure revelation of who He is and who we are and is fit for re proof, correction and instruction in righteousness. Using the smoke and mirrors of God’s love cannot bend the light of God’s already revealed truth. Along with, other sinners and rebels who refuse to submit themselves to God and His principals, no homosexual will enter into God’s kingdom. The gay community will not thank Steve on the day of judgment or appreciate his points of view for condoning their condition and telling them that their behaviour is acceptable to God. Steve has quite simply twisted the nature of God and conformed God to having only a human love, without considering that God is also completely equal and balanced with His other attributes, that He is Holy and Faithful to His written Word.

    Steve appears to have said all this in defence of gays so a they can feel comfortable about their sin and sinful nature and help them to feel included and loved. But this is not the way forward. They way forward for all sinners, including gay people, is If we confess our sins to God He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and wash from all unrighteousness and not continue to live a sinful life. Steve is wrong on so many levels but the fact is, that his statement is probably greater sin than the sin of homosexuality.

    Reply
    1. Iain Strachan

      “The Bible, above all other books, is God’s perfect pure revelation of who He is and who we are and is fit for re proof, correction and instruction in righteousness.”

      Where does the Bible actually say this? I know the second part of your sentence is the second part II Tim 3:16, but the first part does not say it is “God’s perfect pure revelation”. It says it was “inspired by God”, and you have interpreted that to mean “perfect pure revelation”.

      But that is an interpretation. How do you know it is the true interpretation? Some have said “inspired” means “God-breathed” , but since INspriration means “breathing IN” (as opposed to EXPiration), then this doesn’t seem to capture the proper meaning. To say that the (human) authors were “inspired by God” seems better – that they drew inspiration from God. But that is not the same as saying it is “God’s perfect pure revelation”. And what did Paul mean by “all scripture”, at the time of writing? The Bible as such didn’t exist at the time, because the letter to Timothy would later be included in it. And what about references to works that are not part of scripture, such as when Jude (14-15) quotes from the 1st Jewish book of Enoch? Was that considered “scripture” by Jude?

      And what does it mean to say “perfect, pure revelation”? Does it mean we also must accept a literal six-day Creation a few thousand years ago?

      Reply
      1. David Shepherd

        Hi Iain,

        You’re right. Despite of Paul’s insights into the gospel. He declared:’We see through a mirror darkly, but then face to face’. The perfect, pure revelation of God is Christ Himself, whom Paul describes as the ‘outshining of his glory’. We know the sun by its radiance. We cannot bypass its radiance to discover what lies beneath the photosphere. We cannot approach anywhere near the photosphere without being consumed by its power. Christ is indeed all that can be discerned of the transcendent Father. There is one sun: he radiance is the sun,
        the mass is the sun, the invisible agency empowering its planetary system is the sun.

        If we still claim that our faith is apostolic, the record of the chosen witnesses of Christ’s life, ministry, death, resurrection becomes the only basis for insight into what He actually said.

        So, what does God-breathed mean? Pneuma was used to describe an inscrutable agency. The real question is what sort of purpose does the divine empowerment accomplish. For instance, Paul refers to a very different world of the Exodus several millennia before his contemporaries and reminds first-century Christians: ‘These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.’ 1 Cor. 10:11).

        So when Paul says: ‘Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.’, he means that there is enough similarity between human behaviour, then and now, for Christians to discern what would and would not please Him. In this way, the God-breathed scripture accomplished its purpose in providing: ‘doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness’ .

        The claim that 21st century monogamous homosexuality is such a world apart from committed, pederastic homosexuality in Ancient Rome is no better than claiming that first-century Greek idolatry was a world apart from the Golden calf worship of the Israelites in Exodus. As far as Paul is concerned, to claim, in either case, that the writer didn’t have the exact future situation in mind, or that the original meaning of specific words was lost is a flimsy attempt at exonerating the guilty.

      2. Iain Strachan

        David, Thank you again for a well-considered response, and for taking the time to compose it. However, again I have a problem with your last paragraph. I think there IS a world of difference between pederastic homosexuality ( which I understand – correct me if I’m wrong – was carried out by married men) and a faithful monogamous same sex relationship. One involves infidelity, the other does not. It’s not clear to me that there is a similar discrimination to be made between calf worship and first-century Greek idolatory.

        I think, going on from the other David’s evocation of II Tim 3:16, that one is in some danger using this verse to justify one’s own interpretation of other verses. Let’s suppose that this verse really does refer to absolutely every verse in the 66 book Canon of scripture; that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, made these prophetic words about the whole of what would eventually become known as “Scripture” about three centuries later. So any verse is absolutely true and can’t be contradicted. So let’s look at the literal truth of John 3:16: “ALL who believe in him shall
        not perish but have everlasting life”. It sounds pretty inclusive, doesn’t it? The ALL is the same Greek word (pas) as in II Tim 3:16.

        So if you believe in Jesus you have everlasting life and you shall not perish. But what about homosexuals who believe in Jesus? I know plenty. The other David in this thread wants to argue that homosexuals shall NOT enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So what are we to make of the literal truth of John 3:16? There are two possibilities:

        (1) It isn’t literally true. The “ALL” of the verse comes with some exceptions, and is not universal.
        (2) Homosexuals who profess to believe in Jesus don’t _truly_ believe.

        The latter is an example of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy, of moving the goal posts. It goes like this: the assertion is that no Scotsman has sugar in his porridge. But, you say, my friend Angus likes sugar in his porridge. The answer is that Angus isn’t a “true Scotsman” ( by analogy homosexuals aren’t true believers). So all those talks I saw Roy Clements give at the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union in the late 70s were hypocritical. Or maybe he stopped believing in Jesus when he “came out” in 1999? I think the whole idea of that is absurd – clearly Roy’s beliefs about Jesus didn’t change.

      3. David

        Hi Iain, your God & world view appears to be determined by your interpretation of the Bible. I take the written Word of God literally in every sense and I suspect you do not. Hence we worship a different God and read a different Bible. I cannot see any point in arguing as there is no common ground. Have a great day 🙂

      4. Phil Groom

        “your God & world view appears to be determined by your interpretation of the Bible” — what a bizarre statement to come out with as a criticism of a fellow Christian! Upon what else is a Christian’s concept of God and world view supposed to be based? And your claim, David, that you “take the written Word of God literally in every sense” is complete balderdash: no one does. Consider: “the fool says in his heart that there is no God” — do you take that literally, believing that words are formed and expressed in the organ that pumps blood around a fool’s body?

        You know as well as anyone else that scripture is filled with metaphor and that there is almost always more than one way to read any given text. We all come to the Bible with our own presuppositions, and part of our growth in faith involves the willingness to revisit those suppositions: our duty as Christ’s disciples is not to swallow scripture wholesale but to wrestle with it, to discern what is “the good, pleasing and perfect will of God”. Scripture cannot be read except by interpretation, and it is the height of arrogance to presume that your interpretation is the only legitimate interpretation.

      5. Iain Strachan

        David: you wrote “Hi Iain, your God & world view appears to be determined by your interpretation of the Bible. I take the written Word of God literally in every sense and I suspect you do not.”

        No, you don’t take it literally in every sense. I’ll bet you don’t believe the sky is a solid hemispherical dome – which is exactly what the Hebrew word “raquia” – translated “firmament” in Genesis 1 means. Words are ALWAYS subject to interpretation. And – as in my post above, how about taking John 3:16 literally, which says “ALL who believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”? If you say that homosexuals who believe in Jesus shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, then you are not taking John 3:16 literally.

        And please don’t presume that I don’t worship the same God as you. That really sounds pretty arrogant.

      6. David Shepherd

        The meaning of Genesis 1:6 – 8 has always seemed very specific and yet obscure: ‘And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day’

        Actually the Hebrew word for firmament means to beat or ‘spreading outwards’. From the frame of reference of the observer, the sky is a canopy. Claiming that’s false is like insisting that to say, ‘the sun rises in the East and sets in the West’ is false because we know the sun doesn’t move. The language is true from the standpoint of the observer.

        As the earth cools, water collects forming oceans, on one hand and on the other, *spreading outwards*, i.e.evaporating as vapour and clouds in the sky. A dense atmosphere now surrounds the earth. Evaporation continues as dry land appears, separating the oceans:

        ‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good’ (Gen. 1: 9 – 10)

        I can’t see any of this being inconsistent with modern science.

      7. David Shepherd

        Pederastic relationships did not particularly involve married men. They were educative and might be platonic. In Sparta, it was an expected transition before marriage.

        In contrast, the church pastors set a pattern of blameless living for the flock, being ‘mias gynaikos andra’: the husband of one wife. It was the rise of Christianity and its incorporation into law that emphasized marriage as a joining of differentiated partners, fashioned on the archetype of Christ and His church, and as a framework for ordering the potential for procreative responsibility. This led to the eventual criminalisation of all homosexuality in Rome.

        In respect of all scripture, Paul would be referring to the Hebrew scriptures: the Torah (Pentateuch) and the Nevi’im (the Prophets) which formed a Jewish canon by 200 BCE. The phrase ‘All scripture’ is qualified by what Paul wrote just before: ‘how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 3:15). Timothy If I wrote ‘from a child, you’ve known the Tyne and Wear football league. All teams have attended the annual meeting in South Shield.’ You wouldn’t isolate the last sentence and think I also meant Chelsea, would you?

        Peter gives Paul’s letters canonical status: ‘He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.’ For Christians, as in the synagogue, the Law and Prophets were read first, after which an elder would deliver a framework for unlocking the key ideas. This would be followed by a lengthy discussion and exhortation. The apostolic letters were read in the churches to which they were sent as a means of exhorting the faithful.

        Your last reference to the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy is countered by the reality that true faith finds expression in behaviour. For example, all swimmers personally rely on the buoyancy of water. If a person can’t swim, they may say they believe that water has buoyancy and I don’t doubt tht they do, but they are yet to demonstrate that they rely on it as a swimmer does. Faith (pistis) is personal reliance. rather than mere assent to Jesus’ authority: ‘Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.’ (James 2:17 – 19)

      8. Iain Strachan

        David Shepherd: you wrote:
        As the earth cools, water collects forming oceans, on one hand and on the other, *spreading outwards*, i.e.evaporating as vapour and clouds in the sky. A dense atmosphere now surrounds the earth. Evaporation continues as dry land appears, separating the oceans:

        ‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good’ (Gen. 1: 9 – 10)

        I can’t see any of this being inconsistent with modern science.
        ———————————–

        Sorry, but this is not how the ancient Hebrews viewed the firmament – their view was consistent with Ancient Near Eastern cosmology, NOT with modern science. Here is an excerpt from the “Jewish Encyclopedia”:

        The Hebrews regarded the earth as a plain or a hill figured like a hemisphere, swimming on water. Over this is arched the solid vault of heaven. To this vault are fastened the lights, the stars. So slight is this elevation that birds may rise to it and fly along its expanse.

        [ see http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4684-cosmogony#2736 ]

        They believed the sky was solid, consistent with the understood meaning of raquia, and the Latin firmamentum.

        Any attempt to make the meaning to make it fit with modern science is distorting the intended meaning of the text. The text describes the cosmos as it was understood to be at the time, and the important message is that God created it. Moreover, the order of creation of the different species in Gen 1 is inconsistent with the observed order of their evolution – hence “day age” theories are not valid either.

        If anyone wants to tell me here that evolution isn’t true, or whatever, please don’t waste your time. I’ve seen all the arguments many times before. I’ve been called all sorts of names in the past over this & have given up responding.

      9. David Shepherd

        Iain Strachan said: ‘Any attempt to make the meaning to make it fit with modern science is distorting the intended meaning of the text. The text describes the cosmos as it was understood to be at the time, and the important message is that God created it. Moreover, the order of creation of the different species in Gen 1 is inconsistent with the observed order of their evolution – hence “day age” theories are not valid either.’

        The cosmogony is valid. As Paul said: ‘when I was a child, I spoke as a child’. The revelation communicates within the context of a primitive mind-set, but the essential elements are there. For instance, divine power is mediated by creation itself: ‘Let the earth bring forth…’ does not preclude evolution at all.

        We read: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep’ (Gen. 1:1,2)

        We have no idea of the time span between verses 1 and 2, nor a complete description of the process. Paul states, ‘Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.’ (Heb. 11:3) Paul explains the context of ‘framed’ (Gk. katērtisthai, meaning prepared or fitted, i.e. ordered); that simply the chaos of the universe required a non-physical unified intervention of supreme power to bring it into an order that could sustain life and promote man’s well-being. The physical universe came into existence and order out of nothing less than the will of God.

        Consistent with this idea of initial chaos, physicist Adilson Motter has used rigorous mathematics to prove that this was indeed the state of the early universe. Specifically, the earth, in its infancy, is described by scientists as a rotating cloud of dust, rock and gas. So ‘without form and void’ is an apt description.

        Genesis 1: 3 establishes transition of the universe’s energy into the visible spectrum: ‘And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.’ My initial assumption was that surely this is a problem: since light has always existed. However, physicists refer to a specific primordial epoch as the Dark Ages of the Universe.

        When the Universe cooled down after the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago, electrons and protons combined to form neutral hydrogen gas. This cool dark gas was the main constituent of the Universe during the so-called Dark Ages, when there were no luminous objects. This phase eventually ended when the first stars formed and their intense ultraviolet radiation slowly made the hydrogen fog transparent again by splitting the hydrogen atoms back into electrons and protons, a process known as reionisation. This epoch in the Universe’s early history lasted from about 150 million to 800 million years after the Big Bang. (Galaxies during the era of reionisation: http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1041a/)

        So, ‘Let there be light’ refers to the later period of star formation and intense UV radiation that ends this phase of dark gas by splitting it into positive and negative particles. The sun and solar system eventually form and the rotation of that early accretion of material called Earth gives rise to the first terrestrial day and night:

        ‘And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.’ Obviously, a sceptical reader would take issue with this idea that at some point light did not exist in the universe. Yet, scientists explain the Dark Ages of the universe.

        ‘When the Universe cooled down after the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago, electrons and protons combined to form neutral hydrogen gas. This cool dark gas was the main constituent of the Universe during the so-called Dark Ages, when there were no luminous objects. This phase eventually ended when the first stars formed and their intense ultraviolet radiation slowly made the hydrogen fog transparent again by splitting the hydrogen atoms back into electrons and protons, a process known as reionisation. This epoch in the Universe’s early history lasted from about 150 million to 800 million years after the Big Bang. (Galaxies during the era of reionisation: http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1041a/ )

      10. David Shepherd

        Iain Strachan said: ‘Any attempt to make the meaning to make it fit with modern science is distorting the intended meaning of the text. The text describes the cosmos as it was understood to be at the time, and the important message is that God created it. Moreover, the order of creation of the different species in Gen 1 is inconsistent with the observed order of their evolution – hence “day age” theories are not valid either.’

        The cosmogony is valid. As Paul said: ‘when I was a child, I spoke as a child’. The revelation communicates within the context of a primitive mind-set, but the essential elements are there. For instance, divine power is mediated by creation itself: ‘Let the earth bring forth…’ does not preclude evolution at all.

        We read: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep’ (Gen. 1:1,2)

        We have no idea of the time span between verses 1 and 2, nor a complete description of the process. Paul states, ‘Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.’ (Heb. 11:3) Paul explains the context of ‘framed’ (Gk. katērtisthai, meaning prepared or fitted, i.e. ordered); that simply the chaos of the universe required a non-physical unified intervention of supreme power to bring it into an order that could sustain life and promote man’s well-being. The physical universe came into existence and order out of nothing less than the will of God.

        Consistent with this idea of initial chaos, physicist Adilson Motter has used rigorous mathematics to prove that this was indeed the state of the early universe. Specifically, the earth, in its infancy, is described by scientists as a rotating cloud of dust, rock and gas. So ‘without form and void’ is an apt description.

        Genesis 1: 3 establishes transition of the universe’s energy into the visible spectrum: ‘And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.’ My initial assumption was that surely this is a problem: since light has always existed. However, physicists refer to a specific primordial epoch as the Dark Ages of the Universe.

        ‘When the Universe cooled down after the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago, electrons and protons combined to form neutral hydrogen gas. This cool dark gas was the main constituent of the Universe during the so-called Dark Ages, when there were no luminous objects. This phase eventually ended when the first stars formed and their intense ultraviolet radiation slowly made the hydrogen fog transparent again by splitting the hydrogen atoms back into electrons and protons, a process known as reionisation. This epoch in the Universe’s early history lasted from about 150 million to 800 million years after the Big Bang. (Galaxies during the era of reionisation: http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1041a/ )’

      11. David Shepherd

        Iain Strachan said: ‘Any attempt to make the meaning to make it fit with modern science is distorting the intended meaning of the text. The text describes the cosmos as it was understood to be at the time, and the important message is that God created it. Moreover, the order of creation of the different species in Gen 1 is inconsistent with the observed order of their evolution – hence “day age” theories are not valid either.’

        The cosmogony is valid. As Paul said: ‘when I was a child, I spoke as a child’. The revelation communicates within the context of a primitive mind-set, but the essential elements are there. For instance, divine power is mediated by creation itself: ‘Let the earth bring forth…’ does not preclude evolution at all.

        We read: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep’ (Gen. 1:1,2)

        Consistent with this idea of initial chaos, physicist Adilson Motter has used rigorous mathematics to prove that this was indeed the state of the early universe. Specifically, the earth, in its infancy, is described by scientists as a rotating cloud of dust, rock and gas. So ‘without form and void’ is an apt description.

        Genesis 1: 3 establishes transition of the universe’s energy into the visible spectrum: ‘And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.’ My initial assumption was that surely this is a problem: since light has always existed. However, physicists refer to a specific primordial epoch as the Dark Ages of the Universe.

        When the Universe cooled down after the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago, electrons and protons combined to form neutral hydrogen gas. This cool dark gas was the main constituent of the Universe during the so-called Dark Ages, when there were no luminous objects. This phase eventually ended when the first stars formed and their intense ultraviolet radiation slowly made the hydrogen fog transparent again by splitting the hydrogen atoms back into electrons and protons, a process known as reionisation. This epoch in the Universe’s early history lasted from about 150 million to 800 million years after the Big Bang. (Galaxies during the era of reionisation: http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1041a/ )

      12. David

        Sorry missed this Iain
        1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
        The Word was with God,
        and the Word was God.
        2 He existed in the beginning with God.
        3 God created everything through him,
        and nothing was created except through him.
        4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,*
        and his life brought light to everyone.
        5 The light shines in the darkness,
        and the darkness can never extinguish it.*
        6 God sent a man, John the Baptist,* 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
        10 He came into. John 1:1-10; Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

        And yes exodus clearly states a liberal 6 day creation, that is if take God at His Word?

      13. Iain Strachan

        “And yes exodus clearly states a liberal 6 day creation, that is if take God at His Word?”

        A “liberal” [sic] 6 day creation? I like that 🙂 That would allow some room for evolution, I take it.

        David as someone who said, if I recall that you take every word of the bible literally, I would like to ask you if you take Matthew 5:29 literally? Coming right after the verse about looking at a woman in lust, it says that if your right eye causes you to stumble, you should gouge it out.

        Have you ever knowingly looked at something you shouldn’t have?

        Do you still have two eyes?

      14. David

        Hehelol of all the typo’s to make. I am sure you took it to mean literal 🙂 For a scientist Iain you are a funny guy. Firstly, I do understand that Bible text to have many layers and so more than one interpretation can apply. A good example of this is the letters of Jesus in the book of Reveleation. They have a personal, then a pastoral (speaking to the church) and then a prophetic (historic contextual) application. But we should always in the first instance take the plain text at face value, look then at the immediate context, other outside factors and then proceed to derive your sysnopsis from there. Does that sound like good logic and hermaneutics Iain? Having also studied law, hermeneutics and logic are applied in a similar fashion.

        With regards to taking the Bible literally. You have fallen into the same misunderstanding as others before you Iain. To take the Bible literally does not mean I take every word completely at face value without any human intelligence applied, especially as God appears to use every tool in the bag to get His message over, including language. For example, when Elijah took on the prophets of Ba-al there is the use of sarcasm from the prophet. Ezekiel made models of Jerusalem and pulled hair from His head, placed a third on the model, a third he set on fire and a third he let go in the wind. Isaiah walked around naked for 3 years in order for God to make His point. Jeremiah found himself at the bottom of a well, again for the express purpose for God to reveal His will. The use of songs, poems, prophecy, stories and indeed the whole lives of men, whether good or bad are used to reveal God’s will. Jesus Himself told parables to explain the Kingdom of God to some, but those same parables were meant to hide it from others. So, the Bible does employ the full use of language, such as figures of speech, metaphors, hyperboles, oxymorons, similes, under statements, plurals, singles, e.t.c to make a point. The simple reason is that the Bible was written for Human beings with the intention of stretching the full gamut of their intelligence, whilst at the same time keeping it simple enough so that even the dull witted (like me) and those searching with aching hearts can understand and know God and His revealed plan of salvation without having to understand all the complexities of language, history, geography, and theology at prima facia.

        With regards to Matthew 5:29, Jesus is clearly using a hyperbole to make a point as in the camel and the eye of a needle. The context of Jesus’ teaching is adultery and rather than lowering the bar, just like Jesus, He raises the bar. Adultery is a matter of the heart not just a physical sex act. Jesus uses the natural appetite for sex and shows the result of perverting God’s original intention for it. I.e. one man, one woman creating a family and replenishing the earth. Jesus is demonstrating the need for a change of heart. He is not advocating behaviour modification through physical torture. Quite the opposite. Jesus is establishing a wider point, that human beings have a sinful, depraved nature and as a result lack the moral fortitude to follows the whole Law of Moses and its commands. (Paul teaches and builds on the same doctrine in Romans, Galatians and Hebrews) His audience the Pharisee’s, were proud of their external appearance. Jesus is pointing out the need for an internal change, a new heart, with new desires to be given and uses a grotesque hyperbole to make this very good point, referencing His earlier statement of verse 20. To understand the plain text Jesus is saying that adultery is not acceptable to God and that divorce is only acceptable on the grounds of marital infidelity. From other sources we find that within Jewish society & culture a marriage certificate was not required, but a certificate of divorce was. This was to establish that a divorcee had the legal right to re marry if her ex partner was an adulterer. A proven adulterer was meant to be stoned to punish, to be an example, but also as a necessity to free the offended party to re marry.

        I am surprised you chose this text Iain in the light of our subject matter.

      15. David Shepherd

        The war of words on this comment thread is descending into absurdity. The ostensible purpose of the blog was to facilitate a conversation about how we interpret the bible, particularly in relation to same-sex relationships. This is now a thinly-veiled slanging match. All we need is a headmaster and one of you saying, ‘He started it!’

        Here we see two intelligent men resorting to, on one hand, cut-and-paste Bible missiles with little accompanying explanation and, on the other, advancing Christ’s use of hyperbole as rhetoric to discount an overstated dependence on everything in the Bible being literal. This kind of ‘assert-the-opposite’ exchange demands little thought. It requires nothing in the way of adding nuance to the reply. These arguments, if they can be called that, are repetitive posts: facile shout-grenades shaped to repay each other for earlier hurt and humiliation.

        I’ll bet that in a few days, if not sooner, everyone else will switch off because they know this is a two-man grudge match that no longer has anything to do with other viewpoints. It’s an on-line duel of attrition. Stay here alone long enough and both of you might need each other’s company and become firm friends.

        Alternatively, the ‘bigger’ man would the first to say, ‘I stand behind what I’ve said. You have no answer to many of my probing questions. At times, you’ve made some thought-provoking comments yourself. However, I’m now even keener to listen to what those other than you have to say’ and move on.

      16. Iain Strachan

        Dear David S.

        David S: Perhaps you should try and keep your hair on! I really don’t think my serious question concerning Matthew 5:29 merited the magnitude of the angry and judgemental response you have just given.

        You are correct that it is hyperbole – and hence not intended to be taken literally. That was my point – if (the other David) is going to take the “days” of Genesis 1, referenced later in Exodus as literal 24 hour periods, then why not take Matthew 5:29 (or the principle behind it) literally as well? And conversely – if you say it is a figure of speech not intended literally, then why insist that the 6 days are not similarly a figure of speech? This is relevant to the whole debate about how you interpret scripture, in my opinion.

        Here’s an example of where the principle of Matthew 5:29 could be seen to have been applied. Alan Turing, the famous mathematician behind the cracking of the Enigma code in the war, was convicted of a homosexual offence at a time when it was deemed a criminal activity in this country. He submitted to hormone treatments that were in effect a “chemical castration” in order to curb his homosexual desires (the alternative was to go to prison). Some have it that it resulted in his subsequent suicide, though I think recently it has emerged that his death may not have been suicide after all so I wouldn’t make that particular point.

        However, would you not agree that this would be a totally unacceptable way to treat homosexuals who happen to be Christians today? And yet it appears to be faithful to what Jesus was talking about. Better to lose a part of your body than be thrown into hell.

      17. David

        Thanks for the response Iain, as I have attempted to explain, but obviously failed, that at prima facia the plain text of the Bible must interpreted at face value. Is there anything to indicate that further understnding is needed other than the plan text from what Moses wrote in Exodus? I don’t think so. In Matthew 5 it is clearly stirring you in the face.

        What ever we think about the creation of or the evolving of the universe, do we agree it has a beginning (past) it has a now (present) and it has an (end) Yes? Did not Einstiens theory of relativity prove that time was a physical property and subsequent to change? Just like the speed of light? And has his theory not been built on by subsequent physicist? Giving us a greater understanding of the expanding universe? If God made the universe and in particular planet earth for human beings and if God wrote the Bible in particular for human beings, am I not to understand an evening to be a part of a day, as a 24 hour period, and am I not to understand a morning to be a part of a 24 hour period. Why would I assume that God would mean anything other than what He has stated? Evening then morning? But I guess the big question then is whose clock are we working from? Is it possible that God could have squeezed billions years into a day, yeah of course. Is it possible that God could have created life and allowed it life to take its own course and evolve? Yes. But why then, is none of this indicated anywhere in scripture? A thousand years is as a day with the Lord, is used as a figure of speech. But even so, if taken literally only gives thouasnd years for a day. No time at all in evolutionary terms. The is more than enough evidence to prove that the earth is still young, approximately 12,000 years? And please explain how something can come from nothing? An explosion, Big Bang, needs something to make it happen? There is no evidence at all to indicate that anything in world and universe comes from nothing, the evidence is quite the contrary. All life comes from another life. It has something to start with. Again my understanding is that universe is comprised of matter, space and energy. (Some include time as a physical property) where did they come from?

        The notion is left to presumptition and conjecture with no real scientific evidence (across all fields of science) to the contrary. this is not a stable basis for truth. Why is it so difficult to believe that Almighty God could create the known universe, the earth and all that is in it in six literal days? Do we have full knowledge of that? No! God has decided to leave sme things un said at this point, possibly in order that we operate at a level of faith in Him and in His Word.

        In regards to human evolution, Darwin in all honesty, giving a measure of honour to his committment and dilligence to scientific study, was an idiot by comparison to today’s univeristy biology students in what he understood. Did his understanding go beyond proving that a cell is simple? And that was his basis for evolution? Today we know that a cell is far more complex than we could have ever imagined and that it is subject to a period of 20 minutes to reproduce itself, if it does not complete it dies. We dont have millions of years in which to wait for something to happen. Which came first the heart or the lungs? Because humans cannot exist without either at the same time? Consider the complexity of the human body and how it is formed, created to have a symbyotic relationship with other life forms on this planet, but at the same cannot exist without the sun, which is 93,000,000 million miles away. A man and woman are perfect biologicl match for each other and have all the necessary parts to reproduce and fulfill God’s will to replenish the earth. Darwin did not have a clue or offer a credible view on how things evolved biologically on this planet, or even a credible theory that anyone could build upon. Yes there is some evolving in species, but no evidence for across species. This is a massive flaw again in his theory. In fact most credible scientist in all fields have thrown his theory in the scientific waste paper basket. However, recent studies of the macro world and micro world we see plethora of scientific evidence for complex intelligent design, indicating a designer, a manufacturer and an engineer to put it all together. Advances studies of physics, to my knowledge, confirm to the concept of a creator God doing what He said he did in Genesis 1 and 2.

        Apologies for speaking in wide general terms Iain, but I am sure ht you have heard the arguments before and do not need me to leave an appendix of who, what, why and where 🙂

      18. Iain Strachan

        This is going to be my last contribution, I hope. Like Phil Groom, I have grown weary of hitting my head against a brick wall. Moreover, I find this blog/comment medium very difficult for discussion because it is hard to keep track of the different threads. Maybe a proper online forum will be set up in future.

        David, David S et al. We’ll just have to accept that we have different interpretations of scripture. I’ve learnt one or two things by engaging with you both, and had one or two insights, but I don’t think any further progress is possible.

      19. David

        And no we should to treat homosexuals in the same way as Alan Turing, but we should be ever seeking to win people with the non compromising gospel of Jesus Christ.

      20. David

        Hi David, thanks for your comments. The text were a direct response to Iain’s request for where does it say in the Bible that God’s Word is the perfect pure revelation of who He is. And rather than give my own thoughts I was letting the Bible speak for itself. They were not aimed as missiles, no more than others quoting the Bible, philosophers and the like, but merely to add weight to my argument that the plan text, in nearly all instances, says what it means and means what it says. As in English law the contentious, fractious points are where there is complexity. But in this instance the complexity of the argument, for me, is contrived from the plain speaking text, bending the rules of hermneutics and logic, in order to re define their subject matter so they appear to give licence for a particular lifestyle.

        I am not at war with Iain and no headmaster required 🙂 I appreciate that my words and wit are a blunt instrument at times and probably do not match your sharpness of mind and wit, David. I like your style of writing David, however, you appear to lack the ability for plain speech and straight talking to help those intellectually and academically less fortunate than yourself, leaving a sense of ambiguity. I would prefer to leave people knowing exactly what I think and then they can know and decide exactly what they are agreeing or disagreeing with. At that I shut up 🙂

      21. David Shepherd

        ‘David S: Perhaps you should try and keep your hair on! I really don’t think my serious question concerning Matthew 5:29 merited the magnitude of the angry and judgemental response you have just given.’

        Not sure why you assume any magnitude of anger. My metaphors may be graphic, but it beats bland prose. You appear to think that to render a carefully substantiated opinion is judgemental. I have no passed final sentence on you (which is what Christ meant by ‘judge not, that ye be not judged’, otherwise His insistence that his hearers, ‘judge righteous judgement’, would make no sense). If I had, I would simply disengage completely.

        The question that you posed about Matt. 5:29 was rhetorical. If not, did you really expect David to claim, in defence of his literalism, that he had gouged his eyes out? Of course, not.

        To recap, you claimed at first that specifc biblical prohibitions, we’re restricted to the human author’s contemporaries. Yet, you eventually conceded that Romans 1 has applicability to today’s materialist and sensualised society. You view homosexual monogamy as a moral stance, that accommodates a matter that was beyond the purview of the scriptures.

        You’ve previously told me the only basis upon which you will see the matter differently. You want proof of a therapy that will provide a majority success rate, long-term respite of homosexual attraction. Of course, the reality is that no humanly devised therapy will seal off any sexual proclivity completely, once the Pandora’s box has been opened. Neither does God promise this. It is the indulgence of the attraction in the realm of mental fantasy and ‘acting out’ that grace alleviates. Grace is not a therapy. Reparative therapy is not grace. The bible substantiates this.

        So, I can’t see how arguing for a non-literal interpretation of the Genesis (apart from trying to nullfy the validity of sexual differentiation as a God-given archetype for marriage partners) will alter anything. I presume that wht remain of the archetype after you’ve excluded orientation, i.e, binary monogamy, is a universally valid ideal to you, just not the model of sexual differentiation.

        I’m more interested in the accommodations that David would expect the church to provide for homosexuals who decide that they should remain celibate. Many evangelical churches simply quarantine them from the rest of the church, expect the person to keep it secret, until they are ‘straightened out’. What sort of pastoral support groups does his church provide for gays who decide to follow Christ. Or is the conversion bogus until they announce themselves to be free from homosexual desires?

        Wouldn’t it be better for us to mirror Christ, even when a person is overwhelmed by temptation, drawing alongside in their darkest hour, as the AA buddy system does and saying: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith fail not, and when you are restored, strengthen your brothers.’ ?

        Wouldn’t it be callous to just read out the law and recite its promise of punishment? If the church is to become holy, it is by mirroring the 70 x 7 moral generosity of Christ.

  17. David

    Thinking Biblically About Homosexuality (1 COR 6:9-10) Sermon – John MacArthur [CC]
    John MacArthur gives a well balanced argument to Steve’s paper.

    Reply
    1. derekac

      Thomas Macarthur sermon is anything but well balanced. First, he adduces as an exegetical principle that ‘homosexuality is a perverse sexual act’. He gives no justification for this assumption. It is his a priori assumption which he then applies to the text. Such a good example of ‘sola scriptura’, one which characterises much fundamentalist exegesis.

      Secondly he chooses a translation of the Bible which translates words in v( as ‘homosexual’. Many translations recognise that this is at least a highly contentious translation of the passage. There are two very obscure words which are used in the passage., one of which Paul seems to ha`ve invented himself. – the one which Macarthur’s Bible seems to have translated as homosexual. We simply have no idea what the word means and therefore no idea what Paul was referring to. It is therefore at the very least disingenuous for Macarthur to assume that Paul is talking about faithful homosexual relationships and at the very worst hateful and homophobic.

      If you’re going to adduce sermons to justify your homophobia, please find something that faithfully argues from scripture and is not based on homophobic assumptions. Thank you.

      Reply
  18. Tanya

    As a gay ‘evangelical’ Christian in a civil partnership, I have eagerly anticipated a leading evangelical ‘coming out’ in support of monogamous homosexual relationships, and finally here we are. Steve Chalke has articulated an understanding of scripture which is my experience of God; and so now, the debate!

    The debate scares me!

    It scares me because it’s more than a debate on a theological issue, it’s about my life, and more than that, it’s about my life with God.

    People who do not know me, argue with great passion that God is not the centre of my life, that I am not walking Him, that I am not listening to Him, and that I do not know Him. Because of what they perceive to be ‘my lifestyle’, they consider I am detached from hearing God and therefore cannot speak with any claim of God. They will not listen to my voice, as they consider me deceived and fear in accepting me they accept my deceit, and thus deceive themselves.

    But I will shout with the loudest voice I can muster, that God is central to my life and I claim Him as my God, and He claims me as His child. My testimony to this is as valid as any other child of God and is weighed by the fruit that it bears.

    This is more than a debate, it is a journey, a life journey; and I (along with many other gay Christians living God centred lives) ask that you travel with us a while; for you are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Reply
    1. David Shepherd

      While you’ve read Steve Chalke’s piece on the comparison of church attitudes towards homosexuality with biblical ‘acceptance’ of slavery, I suppose that he could equally claim (with the Pharisees) that there was a biblical ‘acceptance’ of divorce under by Moses. As Christ said of divorce, so we can say of slavery, there was no positive revelation from God instructing men to enslave other men, or for men to divorce their wives for any cause.

      Slavery and divorce were permitted as provisional concessions under Moses: ‘”Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.’ (Matt. 19:8) So, as Moses negotiated the terms of the Old Covenant, Christ established the terms of the life under grace. He and His hand-picked apostles declared the pattern of behaviour that would befit saints. Jesus himself said that marriage re-united that which was sexually differentiated by design in creation. The bishops, elders and even deacons were instructed to be ‘husband of one wife’ and they were to be a pattern for the Christian flock.

      Here’s where we are the same. I don’t doubt that you experience the joy of the Lord as much as I do, we simply have besetting temptations of differing types. I may fail a hundred times, feel depressed and think that for all that I write and know, I am the Kingdom of God’s biggest screw-up. Christ doesn’t see me (or you) that way. I am reassured that one day, if I continue to persevere in asking for His power to overcome my natural tendencies, I will have victory over my weaknesses. It is a lifelong process.

      St. Peter, the unreliable apostle, denied Christ three times, then boldly confronted the Sanhedrin after Pentecost, Yet again, he lacked the courage to be associated with Gentile converts when the Jews insisted that they were spiritually contaminating (Galatians 2:11 – 16)

      Bouts of cowardice were his besetting sins. Yet, he was eventually empowered to overcome his cowardice when it mattered. After many long years of perseverance, he found the courage to face execution as the leader of the Christian faith in Rome. So, there’s hope for anyone faced with the enormity of transformation into the full stature of Christ: the pattern set by our Master.

      Like him and all Christians, I may fail a thousand times over.to live up to the high calling of God expressed in scripture. I’ll wrestle with its meaning. I’ll cry out in prayer and know his forgiveness. Others may give up on me and demote me from visible church ministry for my lapses. That doesn’t matter. However, what I’ll never do is discount, or dilute the transformative reproof of scripture by claiming that specific texts are not applicable to modern lives and make glib comparisons to the supposed biblical approval of slavery.

      Shame on Steve Chalke!

      Reply
      1. Iain Strachan

        To David Shepherd: you wrote: “However, what I’ll never do is discount, or dilute the transformative reproof of scripture by claiming that specific texts are not applicable to modern lives and make glib comparisons to the supposed biblical approval of slavery.

        Shame on Steve Chalke!”

        Might I suggest that your “besetting sin” is being too willing to judge others? Your biblical knowledge and your ability to argue cogently from that knowledge is impressive. But when you make emotional judgements by describing what Steve has arrived at by wrestling with Scripture as “glib comparisons” and then make plain nasty comments like “Shame on Steve Chalke”, you let yourself down. A little more humility would be more appropriate.

        I’m disappointed, because I had thought it might be possible to have a reasoned discussion with you. It looks like I was incorrect in that assumption.

        For the record, I support Steve Chalke, and what Tanya has written. Do you want to call “shame” on me too?

      2. David

        Listening to all the fine sounding arguments, using Greek, Hebrew, quoting bible commentaries and philosophers, history and culture, it appears to me the crux of the argument has been lost in the melee. Steve Chalke is quite simply encouraging people to tempt God, to presume on His grace and push God to the limits of His patience. One thing seems apparent, that we all agree on one point and that is that scriptures condemn same sex relationships. Is God gracious? YES! Is God merciful? YES!! Is God patient and long suffering and kind?ABSOLUTELY YES!!! Will God tolerate sin for a season? YES!!! God wants all to repent and none to perish. If a person has truly been Born Again, then all things have become new. They will have a desire to love and serve God, to live as close to Him as they possibly can. They will have a desire to be transformed, to be made more like Him, not to live as they please, but live to please Him. To put away the sin that so easily besets and live a life of devotion to Him. The journey of their life would be exactly that, a life of conformity not contridiction. They would not want to keep old ways, but look for new ways to live for God. We cannot re write scripture to fit our life style, whoever we are and whatever our besetting sin. We must endeavour to live for God on the basis of our love for Him and His already revealed Word, anything less is not love of God but love of self.

      3. Phil Groom

        No, David, we do not all agree “that scriptures condemn same sex relationships”: what the scriptures abhor is sexual immorality, licentiousness and promiscuity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, as well as many, many other areas in which we fail to show love towards God and neighbour. You may contend that homosexuality is immoral, and you are, of course, entitled to that interpretation; but many of us disagree. Please do not make such sweeping claims.

      4. David Shepherd

        Hi Iain,

        Jesus said this to Nicodemus of the new birth prophesied by Ezekiel (36:26):
        ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from
        you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. “You are Israel’s teacher, and do you not understand these things?’ (John 3:10). Steve Chalke holds himself forth as an ordained teacher of God’s people. His position is not equivocal. He wants to equate any who oppose the church’s approval of same-sex relations to those who fought to keep slavery on biblical grounds. That’s shameful.

        You don’t promote yourself as a minister to the church. So, no, I don’t put you in the same boat.

      5. Iain Strachan

        David,

        I won’t continue to argue with you – it’s not as if “winning the argument” is important to me. I am saddened to see your continued condemnation of Steve Chalke’s stand. I realise you feel are very very certain that you are right. I don’t have the same degree of certainty of my position, which is diametrically opposed to yours. I don’t find your biblical arguments, impressive though they are in their knowledge, to be convincing – I think one can make a convincing sounding biblical argument for either side, (I too have wrestled with the scriptures on this matter and have come to the opposite conclusion to you). But in the end if it comes down to “my interpretation is correct and yours in incorrect”, then nothing further useful can be said. I would like to encourage you to have a little more humility, and stop and consider that maybe you could be wrong and Steve Chalke could be right. Don’t imagine I don’t at times think “what if I’m wrong about this?” because I do.

        What it comes down to is that in the end I have to listen to what my conscience tells me. C.S. Lewis argued that the “moral law” – our innate sense of right and wrong aka our conscience was a strong pointer towards God. Having thought and prayed about all this, I cannot ignore what my conscience tells me – that the way homosexuals are treated (even down to the “hate the sin and love the sinner” justification), is profoundly unjust. I have no doubt that Steve has also followed his conscience on this matter (having previously been on the same side as you and having written articles about Roy Clements’s “Fall”).

        Is there anything that might convince me that I am wrong and you are right after all? What I’d want to see is convincing evidence that change is possible for the overwhelming majority of homosexuals. If I were convinced that by some prayer of spiritual discipline I could help gay people to be straight, then I’d unhesitatingly offer my support. But at present the evidence seems heavily against that idea, and indeed the scientific evidence suggests that it is psychologically damaging to try and “cure” homosexuality. So with the present state of the evidence, if a gay Christian came to me and asked for spiritual help to become straight, I’d be most reluctant to attempt to do so, but I would support and accept them as they are and try to help them to accept their sexuality. And in doing so, I would be following my conscience, and the evidence as it stands.

      6. David

        Hi Iain, for me it is not a question of right and wrong, but it is a question of truth. I am a nobody and my opinions do not matter and my influence, in this debate, is very small. One thing is for certain, I am sure we can all agree on, there is a day coming when we all stand before God as individuals and give an account to God for our lives and what we have done with His Truth. For those that teach there is an increased responsibility to ensure that what we teach is the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.

        For those with a liberal view of scripture, may I be as bold as to ask were does The Truth originate? God has communicated His Truth through His written Word and through His spoken Word, Jesus. It appears to me that your Truth originates from your, very human, interpretation of the Word of God as opposed to allowing the Word of God to be interpreted by itself. Are you trying to convince yourselves and others that an act God clearly calls an abomination, an act that deserves to be hated, is ok with Him. The scriptures, as God’s revelation to us, cannot be any more clear than to state that no homosexual will inherit or enter the kingdom of God. That is a man or woman who is living in and having sex with someone of the same gender, monogamous, married or in civil partnership. You can talk all you like and live how you want but please bear in mind one day we will all be held accountable for every thought, word and deed.

        Meanwhile here on earth, whilst we are on the journey we can look at one another and clearly tell if people are bearing the fruit Jesus promised to those who are His disciples. Steve Chalke is clearly become apostate (veered away from the truth) that much is clearly visible. Not because he disagree’s with my point of view but because He disagree’s with God, and what God has written in the Black and the white. For those not in the faith it is not my role to judge them, because like all other sinners, they have already been judged.

        Being gay is a lifestyle choice. It is something that is chosen. Admittedly, it is a part of a persons sin nature and they feel a compunction, an attraction as a normal man would with a women and so are slaves to it. So the question is can people be delivered from this compunction? Absolutely, through faith in Christ. This is the power of the cross and the message of the book of Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. Do I trust scientist, philosophers, theologians or human wisdom to tell me otherwise? No God’s Word is sufficient.

        Should I apologise for not accepting their lifestyle? Absolutely not. Do I have an obligation to love someone because they are homosexual? Absolutely not! Do I have a an obligation to love all men and women as sinners irrespective of their sin? Yes, because God loves sinners, in that why they were yet sinful Christ died for the ungodly. Are homosexuals a special case? Absolutely not! Can a man or a women be a practicing Christian and homosexual? Yes! Can a man or a woman be a follower of Christ and be a homosexual? Absolutely not!!!

        Does Jesus accept a man or a woman as his disciple if they are not prepared to leave everything to follow Him? Absolutely not!!! So the Truth will out, if I am wrong it does not matter, but if you are wrong it would be better for you if you had to been born.

        I trust and pray Iain that you and others of the same conviction will have an experience of God that draws you closer to Him, so close that nothing else matters but living for Him, loving Him and pleasing Him and following after Him.

      7. Phil Groom

        Oh David, how little you understand of the vastness of God’s grace… and such arrogance in those bold assertions, assertions that are not based upon scripture but upon your interpretation of scripture. Truly, there are none so blind as those who will not see…

        Now, over to my friend, Emma Jayne:

        Being gay is not a lifestyle option.

        I didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “Now I shall be gay.” Nor is it about something that I do or how I behave in bed. Being gay is a part of who I am, and when you tell me — in your condescending way — that you hate the sin but love the sinner, you’ve completely missed the point.

        Do you tell a black woman that you hate her skin but love the person within? How then can you tell me that you hate my being gay but love me?

        But you say that’s different, that she was born that way, whilst I was born — well, what do you know about how I was born? You look at the outside: only God can see the heart.

        You say it’s OK to be gay as long as I don’t do gay: that I must remain celibate. You say that sex is for marriage, but you deny me that privilege. You put fences around me — for my protection, you say. But that’s not true, is it? The fences are for your protection, to keep you safe from me, from the threat that I and my friends supposedly present to your nice, clean-cut clearly defined community…

        Notes from a Gay Christian Woman, August 2009

        I invite you to read the rest and heed the challenge in Emma’s encounter with Jesus.

      8. David

        Hi Phil, I am a fundamentalist (and happy to be one) because I follow Jesus and Jesus Himself was a fundamentalist. Especially when it came to following and interpreting scripture. Jesus said that not one dot of the I or cross of the T would pass away from God’s Word, the written Word of God Stands for ever. It is the one constant of true knowledge we have about God, that the human race posses. There is no other book or religion that has a book like the Bible. The Bible is God’s living Word, full stop. (for me anyway) This is the Old and New Testament (excluding the Apocrypha and the book of Enoch and other early church writings) So if the Bible says that God made the world in six days I believe it. If the Bible says God made Adam and Eve and all other life on the planet during those six days I believe it. If the Bible tells me God created our known universe, i believe it. If the Bible tells me Eve was tempted by the Serpent I believe it. If the Bible tells me there was a worldwide flood and only 8 escaped, i believe it. I think you get the picture. There is no other credible alternative to the Bible or the Truths it contains. So all human beings must make a choice. Firstly, whether to accept the Bible as God’s Word or not and then secondly, whether they take God to say what He means and mean what He says.

        But we must bear in mind that the Bible has been written expressly for human beings by God. So by applying simple logic, it must mean that since God has written the Bible for human beings, it must written in a way that those who search for Him can find Him, it must by needs have be understandable to the simplest and the most intelligent. Otherwise this would make the Bible unfair, exclusive and not inclusive or leave the simple at the mercy of the intelligent. If Adams sin was rejecting God and His rule, surely, logic demands, that human beings must demonstrate a love and desire to find God, as test of their love for Him. As I understand it we receive this hunger for God through His prevenient grace, which is a gift from God. Now if I believe, and I do, that God loves human beings, simple logic means that He will do everything in His power to express the message, ensure they get this written message and protect the integrity of the message. I believe that God has and we have a full revelation of His plan for human beings as given to us in the Bible. Now the message is simply this that sin entered the world through the one man Adam and his act of disobedience, but through the one man, Jesus Christ, and His obedience, all can be saved through faith in Him. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (both Jews and Gentiles) but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. All scripture points to this Messiah.

        Now if choose not to trust the first few chapters of Genesis, the beginning of God’s revelation to man, and consider them to allegorical or just a story as opposed to being the Living Word of God, please tell me what else is there in the Bible that I can trust? Should I believe in Angels? The Devil? Sin? Israel? Abraham? Isaac? Jacob? Joseph? Jesus? Who He said He was and the power of His sacrifice for us? Our deliverance from sin, the devil and hell? Or His promise of eternal life? Or should I place myself at the mercy of mere men to interpret what they think God is saying through the stories and fables He told me in a book, that are not any different or more potent than the Koran or the writings of Buddha. For me, an emphatic no. Should I read the Bible for myself and allow the Holy Spirit to teach and guide along with proven and credible Bible teachers in the church? Absolutely, this was the Paul, John, Peter and the Apostles taught. I believe in the complete integrity of God’s Word.

        A few people have called me arrogant and they maybe right Phil, but I have not taken a stronger stance than anyone else has taken with their viewpoint. For me what must be understand is not all opinions are of the same value and I guess it is down to individuals to choose what value they place on an opinion and who they trust. But if it is a choice of choosing to trust God’s Word or Iain or Phil or Tanya or David (i distinguish myself from the other David) you have lost as far as I am concerned. God’s Word wins the day.

        I have said this to show that when I read Romans 1:24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. How else am I meant to interpret that? If I can trust God on Genesis 1 I can trust Him with what He says in Romans 1. God says that homosexuality is unnatural, degrading, wicked and is a sin. So, Steve Chalke is not attempting to re define marriage he is trying to re define what God calls sin. Now if it is a sin followers of Christ have an obligation to warn, seek repentance, then restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, so that we will not fall into the same temptation. If no repentance then they should be put firmly out of the church and handed over to satan. This sin and any other sin should not be tolerated by any believer or church or denomination. I would like to make a distinction between a person claiming to be a Christian and a follower of Christ. By Christian I mean someone who has subscribed to a set of beliefs or joined an organisation. And by follower of Christ I mean exactly that.

        With regards to personal testimony it must be in line with God’s already revealed will in the Bible. Again this is simple logic. Why would God contradict Himself. So it is either Emma who is mistaken or God? Again I choose God’s Word and His side. If Emma is of the opinion that its ok to be gay and she wants to follow Christ, she must learn that as a follower of Christ her opinion does to count, but doing God’s will is what matters. Just because she feels that way does not make it right, especially when you look at what God has already said in His Word.

        So what about grace? I agree Phil I do not understand or know the vastness of His grace. But what I do know is this that any man or woman choosing to live in sin makes grace a disgrace, a disgrace of Jesus and His work. After that where can any one go for the forgiveness of sins if they have trampled under foot the blood of Jesus? Grace is not a licence to live how you want it is a power that gives you strength to live for God in the way He prescribes. Can we continue in sin? Absolutely not! Do you not know that if we have died to sin we cannot live there any longer.

        My final point is this Phil, (you will be pleased to know:) we seem to be forgetting two thousand years of church history, do we honestly think that any of the great men in church history, across nations and continents, would subscribe to this? Jesus is coming soon, if we don’t repent of our sin, judgement follows.

      9. Phil Groom

        A fundamentalist indeed, David, and no one can question your credentials in that respect or your zealous commitment to the truth as you see it: commendable indeed. You know the scriptures and none can question your eloquence or erudition.

        Indeed, you may even speak in the tongues of men and of angels; you may have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; you may have all faith, to remove mountains; you may be willing to bestow all your goods to feed the poor, and be willing to give your body to be burned … but one thing your comments here lack, and without that they are…

        Not only that, however, you repeatedly make the same error, over and over: you conflate your interpretation of the Bible with what the biblical writers say, forcing them into your mould rather than allowing them to speak with their own voices… and so you close the door on the possibility of allowing God’s voice through. Worse still, you take your interpretation and attribute it to God, so that Paul’s condemnation of idol worshippers and their sexual license becomes your assertion that “God says that homosexuality is unnatural, degrading, wicked and is a sin” when the passage itself says no such thing.

        You ask, drawing your line at v.27, “How else am I meant to interpret that?” The answer: read a little further; and go back to Steve’s article, beginning at the paragraph that starts, “A growing number of scholars, including evangelicals, argue that what the New Testament writers have in mind when they refer to homosexual practice could not have been the loving and stable same-sex unions of the sort that exist today, of which they knew nothing.” You need to read on for five paragraphs — if, that is, your question was a genuine enquiry and not merely rhetorical? And please, I urge you, read it with a mind open to God…

      10. David

        Hi Phil, thanks for your response. I also read Greek and Hebrew. There is no other way to interpret what is written in Romans. The rule of Hermenutics is to read the text in its context. For example, in Romans 1 Paul address’ the Gentiles, Romans 2 he address’ the Jews and in Romans 3:23 he concludes that “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God”. With further examination the first four chapters of Romans deal with sins we commit, the next four chapters deal with the sin nature. That is the context. So in Romans 1 Paul is clearly stating the sins of the Gentiles and the judgment of God in abandoning (which Paul says 3 times) them to their own shameful desires, because they have worshipped the creation and not the True Living God. As a result women had sex with women and men had sex with men. The logic Paul uses is clear and unambiguous.

        This is against the further backdrop that Paul lived as a Jew, in a Jewish society, was a Jewish and Greek Scholar, and that in the order of the pharisee’s, a Rabbi and would have followed the Levitical understanding on homosexuality. There is nothing to suggest in the Old Testament scriptures that homosexuality is an acceptable practice, even if it between to parties that love each other. No more than if two adulterers left their partners and set up home is OK, just as long as they love each other. The same is with other sins such as, lying, blasphemy and murder. These words are narrow by definition and their use is meant to be understood without equivocation. For Steve Chalke and others, scholars or otherwise, to attempt to contrive meaning from the text that is clearly not there (especially as the text clearly states in black and white that Homosexuality is a sin) based on supposition and presumption or some cultural discoveries of the first century is clearly bad Hermaneutics and bad science. I genuinely feel for people who are slaves to homosexual passions, it must be incredibly difficult to live with. My best friend was a Christian and suffered with the dilemma of having homosexual feelings. He was married with children. I loved him and accepted him as my best friend and prayed regularly with him and for him. Without going over old ground please see my other post on the scriptural solution of a person being delivered from the power of a sin nature. This is the message of the Good News, to enter into the rest God promised. If anyone wants re define sin by changing the plain meaning of scripture, they do at the risk of incurring the wrath of God. Finally, again a point I have previously made, if it comes down to trusting the Word of God and Steve “the Judas” Chalke or any other believing un believers the plain speaking Word of God wins every time.

      11. Phil Groom

        Sorry, David, but the text absolutely does not state — in black, white or any other colour that you care to attribute to it — that “Homosexuality is a sin”. That is, emphatically, your interpretation of the text. Homosexuality as we have come to understand it today — and the possibility of faithful, monogamous same-sex relations — simply isn’t within the scope of Paul’s writings, let alone the Hebrew scriptures.

        Scripture knows nothing of faithful same-sex relationships: what it addresses is an idealised heterosexual world, and in that world, the sex acts it condemns are those which betray faithfulness in that imaginary world. The problem with your approach, David, is that you too are are still living in that idealised heterosexual world and reading the texts through a heterosexual lens, from a perspective in which homosexual behaviour can only exist as an aberration: any engagement in same-sex activity can only constitute unfaithfulness, betrayal of what was regarded as normative behaviour. That idealised heterosexual society never existed, however, any more than the society in which all debts were to be cancelled in the year of jubilee existed … indeed, any more than the idealised covenant community, wholly compliant with all the statutes of Leviticus, ever existed…

        We do not live in that society; it didn’t exist then, it doesn’t exist now. We live in a society that has learnt — or rather, is still learning — what is for many an uncomfortable and painful lesson that same-sex attraction is a normal part of being human: whether people are born that way or develop that way is a moot point; but an approach that forces gay people to live outside the covenant community — when God has quite clearly welcomed them in — repeats the error of the older brother in the tale of the prodigal son.

        What is sin? Is it not that which harms another or harms oneself by driving a wedge between the self and God? Same-sex activity in the context of a loving, faithful relationship quite clearly does neither: it is sexual activity outside of such a relationship that does harm; that is the behaviour that scripture consistently condemns. The whole trajectory of scripture — from Adam & Eve’s betrayal of God’s trust in the Garden of Eden to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; in the Commandments; in the Prophets as Israel is lambasted for her unfaithfulness to God; in the New Testament as the church is called to remain faithful to God — is a call to faithfulness. Again and again, God cries out to his people to be faithful, to God and to one another.

        There’s a sad irony in your description of Steve as ‘Steve “the Judas” Chalke’ for it is this very call that Steve has heard: God’s call to faithfulness. It is, as Steve has said, a matter of integrity, and Steve, in reaching out to the LGBT community, is no more apostate than Peter was in reaching out to the Gentiles.

        No, David: homosexuality is not a sin. Unfaithfulness is. And the wonder of grace is that God reaches out to all us, gay, straight or somewhere in between, for none of us is faithful, not one, except the crucified one; and I will not despise the price he paid by turning away my LGBT brothers and sisters at the door.

      12. Jane

        I just can’t believe what I’ve just read!!!! ‘Being Gay is a lifestyle choice’ – it is NO MORE a lifestyle choice than my gender or the colour of my skin!!!! I’ve tried and tried for many years to ‘avoid’ being gay and if it were a choice I would be definitely have chosen not to be gay!!! How dare you!! I agree with Tanya on this – that this is about my life and my relationship with God!!!

      13. David

        Thank you for agreeing with me Jane, please keep seeking for God to help you avoid this lifestyle choice..

      14. derekac

        It appears that David reads English and understands it in a completely different way to the rest of the world. The thinks Jane was agreeing with him when she quite plainly states she does not He wilfully misinterprets Ian. He appears nonplussed by my application of logic.. It is not possible to argue with this man..

      15. Jane

        Agreeing with you??!!! I did NO such thing!!!! I can’t believe your arrogance! Sorry that this may be perceived as aggressive – but I am very angry!!!

      16. David

        Hi Jane, you agreed with me when you stated that you had tried for years not to be gay. When I explained that fallen human nature has no power in itself to be free from its slavish compunctions, not excluding all sexual sin, but including homosexual passions, we need the power of the cross to work effectively in us. For most Christians are experience has been one of constant battle with our flesh nature. We need the power of the cross to work effectively. this is activated when we completely give our lives to Jesus, and submit to His will. This is what brings a deliverance from all sin, Jane. I appreciate Jane that you may not have been taught this? But this is my experience as someone who for 25 years of my Christian life was constantly hampered by sinful passions and lust, that is until deliverance happened. Was it easy? No! Did it happen over night? No. Is the process still working through me? Yes. But I am free, gloriously free. I want that for all those who want to follow Christ more closely and love Him better.

      17. Jane

        I still don’t agree with you that my being gay is a choice! I find your opinion arrogant and will not be responding again!

      18. David

        No worries Jane, I am glad you are angry and you should be. But not with me, with the whoever it is that has convinced you that gay is ok with God. I was attempting to give you God’s way out. I apologise if I have not expressed it that well. But you can be free from the power of sin. Please read Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. Thanks for your points of view and for listening.

      19. derekac

        And David, who was it convinced you that being gay was NOT OK with God.? The Scriptures are simply not as clear on this as you would like them to be, unless you use very dodgy exegesis like Macarthur’s. I suggest that you should be very angry with the people who have taught you to hate in this way.

      20. David

        Romans 1:24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

        Derek you do not have to be a fundamentalist to interpret what is being said here. Paul was Jewish and came from a culture that referred to homosexuality as a sin. Please let me know your thoughts on this text as it is one of many. This quote is from the NLT.

      21. Iain Strachan

        Dear Jane,

        I’m sorry you had to listen to David’s rant and subsequent misrepresentation of you. FWIW the rant was aimed at me. I had decided it didn’t even merit a response, but as you’ve been offended by it I wanted to at least say that I understand totally why you are angry. I am straight – I can’t do anything about it, and it is not a “lifestyle choice” for me and I don’t see why the same shouldn’t apply for gay people. Those who say otherwise could do with a little more humility, or perhaps try LISTENING to gay people and understanding what it’s like to be gay, rather than rushing in with judgemental comments.

      22. David Shepherd

        For the record, let me clearly distinguish myself from ‘David’. One comment stood out in my mind: ‘Does Jesus accept a man or a woman as his disciple if they are not prepared to leave everything to follow Him? Absolutely not!!!’

        We may claim that we’re prepared to leave everything, but it’s clear that, when Christ was arrested, the apostles’ protestations of loyalty were flimsy. Although David may have been prepared to leave his desires behind as soon as he felt the call of Christ, he does claim that he struggled for 25 years. Others may struggle for longer, but the importance of a struggle is identified in the beatitudes: ‘blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness’. We continue to hunger and thirst for every chance to demonstrate our gratitude for the eternal amnesty we have in Christ. We are called to discipleship, yet we often, like Peter, lay claim to more devotion than we are immediately capable of reciprocating towards Him. As Christ said of those apostles who called on Him to incinerate the Samaritans: ‘Ye know not what spirit you are of’.

      23. David Shepherd

        Phil,

        ‘What is sin? Is it not that which harms another or harms oneself by driving a wedge between the self and God? Same-sex activity in the context of a loving, faithful relationship quite clearly does neither: it is sexual activity outside of such a relationship that does harm; that is the behaviour that scripture consistently condemns. ‘

        Your view of sin is utilitarian: the morality of behaviour is determined by overt, intentional harm. The Greek word for sin, ‘hamartia’ simply means ‘missing the mark’. It includes ignorant, mistaken, or accidental wrongdoing. It is used elsewhere in Greek literature to define a tragic, fatal flaw in an otherwise admirable character.

        The standard that Christ established for marriage in the New Covenant is built on the Genesis pattern. Divorce misses the mark because ‘it was not so from the beginning’. Polygamy misses the mark because: ‘it was not so from the beginning’. Therefore, you could also claim that Jesus viewed marriage through the lens of the idealised Garden of Eden.

        You agree on the implied binary and permanent qualities that God established for marriage and then dismiss the purpose of sexual differentiation that is the explicit cause of sexual union: the divinely instigated reunion of what was parted by design in creation. Same-sex acts misappropriate the use of our sex organs and completely reject the Genesis model of reuniting opposite genders in marriage, These genders that were differentiated for that very purpose. You could say, ‘where’s the harm in how you use your own body, as long as it’s with a permanent partner?’ Paul says that the price of releasing the Christian’s body from mortality and eternal destruction to receive life as God has it was for Him to permit the unmitigated butchery of Calvary. That means the body now belongs to God. Every indulgence of sexual desire outside of the Genesis model is a desecration of the New Testament temple: the God’s power emanates from His supreme authority over each believer’s body.

        Finally, let’s turn to your comparison of homosexuals with Gentiles. When we read of Gentiles being accepted into the fold, we should be clear that they were, for the most part, God-fearers, such as Cornelius, who shared religious ideas with the Jews. Their views of sex were shaped by exposure to the OT scriptures. The apostles were very careful to ensure that the life under grace did not gain the reputation for being a pretext for indulging scripturally prohibited desires. The pronouncements against same-sex acts are as stern as the pronouncements against extra-marital sex.

        I can see no broaching of the impasse, while you hold to a special exception for homosexual acts; an exception that filters out a specific significant part of the Genesis ideal: an ideal that Christ referenced as the model for marriage.

      24. Phil Groom

        David S — thanks for taking the time to reply. As for me, alas, I weary of this conversation, which seems to be going round and round in circles: those who regard homosexuality/homosexual activity (and it’s good to see you noting the distinction, something which seems to have bypassed t’other David) as aberrant/sinful simply keep rehearsing the same old arguments, whilst those of us who have moved on — well I can really only speak for myself, but to me it feels like banging my head against a brick wall of intransigence, a deep-seated anti-gay prejudice that stubbornly refuses to recognise LGBT orientation as part of the normal spectrum of human sexuality, reinforced by a near neolithic approach to scripture.

        A point of clarification: you say that I “agree on the implied binary and permanent qualities that God established for marriage”. I don’t. Nor do I regard marriage as a “divinely instigated reunion of what was parted by design in creation” — I don’t read Genesis in those terms: to me, it is primordial myth, ancient Israel’s polemical response to other Ancient Near Eastern creation stories; but your explanation certainly helps me to understand where you’re coming from, bizarre as such a position seems to me. Sadly, however, it just makes the brick wall appear even more impenetrable as it means that we have to go back even further to examine the nature of biblical literature.

        We do indeed appear to have reached an impasse. I wish you well and leave you and others here to whatever remains of what seems to be an increasingly futile discussion. Out in the real world, God is as much at work amongst LGBT people as amongst those who are straight. I suggest that you spend some time amongst them, the principle of incarnation that I mentioned earlier: perhaps then your light will dawn.

    2. Phil Groom

      Amen, Tanya! You might also find this post interesting — written some time before Steve ‘came out’ by another evangelical, albeit less well known: An Evangelical Apology.

      May the Lord continue to bless you and your partner and may your light shine as a beacon of hope to all!

      Reply
  19. Imogen

    To Tanya:
    My heart goes out to you as you are reading this debate ( which is one of the politest debates I have seen), it must be very distressing for you, thank you for contributing to it.
    To All:
    I wish the church would be as prominent in condemning poverty and violence as it is in commenting on sexual behaviour.
    On the comment that there is no situation which permits divorce, I cannot interpret the scriptures to mean that a woman must stay with her husband even when he is violent and her life is in danger. God permitted divorce even though it was not His ideal in order to avoid worse behaviour such as cruelty.

    Reply
    1. David Shepherd

      Hi Imogen,

      It would help for you to quote, as others have, the actual comment on divorce to which you refer.

      As Christ said, we should tell the church, if grievous behaviour (including violence) continues. Paul insisted that an unconverted spouse must be ‘pleased to remain’.

      Otherwise, the rule is to segregate ourselves from those who persist in offensive, violent behaviour. ‘If he hears not the church, let him be to thee as a heathen and a publican’. The scripture endorses the separation on those grounds quite clearly.

      Although the Pharisees questioned Jesus on divorce, their real question was on what grounds God would authorise them to re-marry. It wasn’t really about getting out of a marriage, as it was about justifying their commencement of a new one.

      Reply
  20. Iain Strachan

    I just wanted to make some sort of summary of what I have thought/learned/decided in taking part of this debate, so it isn’t a response to anyone in particular.

    Firstly, it’s understood that there are six or seven verses in the Bible that condemn homosexual behaviour.

    The discussion centres around how you interpret those verses. Those of a fundamentalist persuasion appear to think that these verses need no interpretation at all – that their plain meaning is obvious: all homosexual acts are sinful. Such people give the impression that they KNOW the truth of this, and that anyone who disagrees with this is departing from the truth. (Someone, can’t remember who, here said I had “departed from the truth”. Whoever that was must be very very certain that they know the truth).

    Those of us who are not fundamentalists realise that words – wherever they come from, require interpretation, and that interpretations may differ. Moreover, it is possible to construct totally opposite conclusions by different means, quoting different Biblical texts and so forth. There are those who interpret those verses as condemning all homosexuality, and there are those (myself included) who interpret them as only condemning promiscuous behaviour and as not applicable to long term faithful relationships.

    But whichever interpretation we opt for, it appears views are still entrenched. “My interpretation is right and yours is wrong!”

    May I suggest, that if we are going on interpretations, that neither side can KNOW the truth. We have what we BELIEVE to be the truth. But doubt is always the flip side of the coin to belief & you can’t have a one-sided coin. The actual truth is out there, but, in my opinion, is unknowable – all we can do is decide what we think is more likely to be the truth and go with that.

    How do you decide, if you’ve seen both sides of the hermeneutical discussion and both seem plausible?

    Well, there’s prayer and your relationship with God. You shouldn’t go into prayer trying to make God do something: “Lord, please silence Steve Chalke because he is preaching a false gospel.” You should go into prayer with true humility – “what if I’ve understood you wrong, Lord?” I’ve prayed that many times since looking into this. Be prepared for God to change you.

    At the end of all that, if you still can’t make up your mind, think about this: if there are significant doubts in your mind, you should err on the side of inclusivity. Better a gay Christian than a gay atheist, surely?

    Reply
      1. Iain Strachan

        Thanks, Phil – I was thinking about adding that you could perhaps have a one-sided coin if you were a Zen Buddhist, but that would be flippant….

        (Ouch! Terrible pun!)

        In any case Buddhism (and just about any other spiritual tradition) are very much about NOT having a one-sided coin. All the great mysteries always seem to involve paradox. Take the Incarnation, for instance. Wholly human and wholly Divine. If you simply worship Jesus as God you deny his human nature. If you just say he was a great teacher, you deny his Divine nature. T.S. Eliot described the Incarnation as where “The impossible union of spheres of existence is actual”. That, at the heart of Christianity lies the great paradox of the Incarnation, is surely an indication that we should not be dogmatic about how we interpret scripture – instead we should continue to learn from it all the time.

        LIkewise the communion service is rich in paradox. e.g “Brokenness vs wholeness” the broken bread/body of Christ joining us all as one as the body of Christ. “Many vs one” (Though we are many we are one body because we all share in the one bread).

        Sorry if the above was a little “off topic” – but I think it’s relevant to know that many things related to spirituality are connected to the interplay of apparent opposites, rather than plumping for one or the other.

    1. Peter Ould ☩ (@PeterOuld)

      “I think it’s more subtle. Whilst some “fundamentalists” (a pejorative if ever I heard one) might just take a modern English translation and say “that’s what it says, so the matter is settled”, others of us who take a conservative position understand the complicated hermeneutics of each of the verses and *still* take a traditional position.

      Ultimately one side is right and one side is wrong and *if* persistent sinful behaviour is a salvation issue then getting the answer right is a serious matter.

      The audio of my conversation with Steve Chalke on this, from Sunday, is now available online – http://www.peter-ould.net/2013/01/21/yesterdays-conversation/

      Reply
      1. Iain Strachan

        Peter – it’s clear I wasn’t thinking of you as a “fundamentalist” and in my post I indicated (I hope it was clear) that it was possible to come up with a traditional position by going into the hermeneutics. However, I do see fundamentalism as a major problem – it is a well-recognised term and wasn’t intended as a perjorative per se. But I do think there are too many people who KNOW they are right. I maintain it’s not possible to know this and one’s conscience/relationship with God etc must also come into play.

        You stated: “Ultimately one side is right and one side is wrong and *if* persistent sinful behaviour is a salvation issue then getting the answer right is a serious matter.”

        But since you have made it conditional “if persistent sinful behaviour …” then the converse also becomes possible:

        “Ultimately one side is right and one side is wrong and *if* homosexual behaviour is NOT a salvation issue, but accepting Jesus as your Saviour is, then getting the answer right is a serious matter”.

        Thirty or so years ago I shared the gospel with a gay man and also told him clearly that he needed to repent of his homosexuality as part of the process of becoming a Christian. He ended up rejecting it all quite forcibly. IF homosexual behaviour is NOT a salvation issue, then my actions meant he didn’t get saved.

        If you call your version A and my converse version B, then if you are a scientist (I am a scientist), then you’d attempt to assign probabilities to A and B and go for the one with the greater probability – the one more likely to be true. But there is no way to assign a probability to either, so, again it comes down to “I’m right and you’re wrong”.

        So here’s my position. Is my version right, or is yours? I don’t know. I don’t even know how you go about knowing. Is God going to judge me (or a gay Christian) for something that is unknowable?

        One thing one can say for certain – a gay Christian is more likely to be saved than a gay atheist.

        BTW – I was present when you spoke at Christchurch Abingdon over the Jeffrey John business. At the time, I would have agreed with you, and was very pleased to see that it was possible (at least for you) to walk away from homosexuality. There are too many others I have met for whom that has not, apparently, been possible. I wish you well.

        I’ve since changed my views, due to a variety of circumstances & now mostly attend the local Quaker meeting, though remaining a member of Christchurch.

        I’ll try and have a listen to the audio link.

    2. David Shepherd

      Iain,

      Perhaps, (again) agreeing to disagree really wasn’t on. In spite of both sides taking pains to discuss the underlying interpretation, you emphasise those who disagree as ‘those who appear to think that these verses need no interpretation at all’. This merely polarises, rather than accurately summarising the debate.

      Objectively, there have been points made on both sides that have helped to clarify how each side could arrive with integrity at its interpretation. Yes, some here who oppose the church affirmation of homosexual acts may have articulated their points poorly. Equally, some in favour have simply characterised the opposition as the modern equivalent of those who held to biblical verses in support of slavery. Yet, In between those extremes, there were completely reasonable arguments on both sides that were open to discussion.

      Yes, in the end, your summary commendably tries to point a prayerful way forward, but, unsurprisingly, it presents those here who favour the affirmation of homosexual acts as fair, open to discussion and engaging with the reasoning process, You don’t suggest that opposers here have delved beyond the plain meaning of scripture. That is not a fair evaluation of the quality of arguments on both sides. Could it be too much for your summary to give credit to the merit of thoughtful arguments, both for and against?

      Our discussion did respect the integrity and diligence shown in arriving at divergent viewpoints. You made no reference to this. Just to clarify, I didn’t descend into emotionalism. I simply maintained that it is one thing to advance one’s position vigorously and cogently, it’s quite another to resort to insinuating that opposing views resembling the immoral cause of Victorian slave-owners. The latter is merely a disingenuous tactic.

      If the summary caricatures continue to sit well with you, perhaps it’s because you *know* you’re right…which is a bit more fundamentalist on this issue than you’d probably care to admit.

      Reply
      1. Iain Strachan

        David Shepherd: you wrote:

        Yes, in the end, your summary commendably tries to point a prayerful way forward, but, unsurprisingly, it presents those here who favour the affirmation of homosexual acts as fair, open to discussion and engaging with the reasoning process, You don’t suggest that opposers here have delved beyond the plain meaning of scripture.

        In which case I don’t think you really read what I wrote. I have several times commended you on your knowledge of scripture and the your ability to argue cogently from it. In my summary I suggested that it was feasible to come to opposite viewpoints from scripture. In both cases I was implying that both sides had gone beyond the plain meaning of scripture.

        So I really don’t find your accusation here is justified. I was doing my level best to be even-handed and to give both sides some credit. I was trying to be fair to all sides. It’s a pity you don’t seem to be able to see this.

      2. David Shepherd

        My comments were in reference to the summary, rather than your previous responses. The quotes that I took from the summary make that clear.

        I’m happy discuss how phrases like ‘those who appear to think that these verses need no interpretation at all’ summarise the broad range of views that oppose the liberal stance.

      3. Iain Strachan

        David Shepherd – you are still misinterpreting what I said. Let me spell it out again. I wrote:

        Those of us who are not fundamentalists realise that words – wherever they come from, require interpretation, and that interpretations may differ. Moreover, it is possible to construct totally opposite conclusions by different means, quoting different Biblical texts and so forth.

        From this it is clear that it is possible to *interpret* the scriptures and still come out with a “Traditional” position. It was not my intention to suggest that the phrase “those who think these verses need no interpretation at all” summarises the broad range of views who oppose what you call the “liberal stance”.

        It does not. Those who think the verses need no interpretation would be Biblical literalists. It is perfectly possible for someone to hold a “Traditional” view on this and not be a Biblical literalist. That should have been obvious from the summary I wrote & if you didn’t pick that up I suggest you didn’t read it carefully enough.

        If you and I can’t agree on a simple sentence that I wrote about twelve hours ago, and you want to draw a different inference from what I know was my meaning, then it is absolutely clear that there is no further point in trying to reason with you. The hours in the past I have spent on the internet trying to get people to retract when they have twisted the meaning of my words have shown me this is a fruitless task. It has happened time and time over, and in this case it is possible to know the meaning, simply because the person who wrote the words (me) is still alive.

        I shall not make further attempts to correct you on this. If you wish to persist in misrepresenting/misunderstanding me, that’s up to you.

  21. Ange

    After 41 years of a happy marrriage I fell in love with a woman. In geat pain I sought the advice of a local woman anglican priest who counselled me sitting in ou local church in which I was a new member after years of atheist socialism.. She encouraged me to pusue the tuth of my new relationship. I left my husband and have been living with the woman now for three years.She is a lifelong committed christian. With her I have joined a weekly bible study as well as attending church regularly Our local vicar considers our relationship to be sinful. I have been astonished by the bigoted views of the church. My career was concerned with equalities..and I have pursued this belief and actively worked fo lack of discrimination of all kinds and for diversity at work, in schools and in legislation throughout my working life. Making great personal changes at a late stage in my life has nevertheless been vey hard, but one thing I am cetain of is that I cannot feel any guilt about my sexuality or any doubt of its truth.We are currrently planning a civil partneship and would dearly like a blessing…that this is unacceptable to so many within the church is nothing short of astonishing to me and incompehensible. it saddens me to find out that so many committed christians have far less humanity, respect and far less drive fo justice and peace than many committed agnostic or atheist socialists.

    Reply
    1. Peter Ould ☩ (@PeterOuld)

      Sorry, can I be clear what you’re telling us? You walked out on your husband to pursue a sexual relationship with someone else just because you fancied them (you give us no other facts) and you want our sympathy? That has nothing to do with your sexuality.

      Reply
      1. Dani

        Do you really think Ange is going to want to go into more detail of her life story after you gave such a sarcastic, flippant response? I couldn’t believe it when I clicked on your name and read that you are a priest. Is that how you would talk to a member of your congregation when asking if they would give a bit more detail about their life in order for you to pass judgement?

      2. Peter Ould ☩ (@PeterOuld)

        I quote:

        “After 41 years of a happy marrriage I fell in love with a woman. In geat pain I sought the advice of a local woman anglican priest who counselled me sitting in ou local church in which I was a new member after years of atheist socialism.. She encouraged me to pusue the tuth of my new relationship. I left my husband and have been living with the woman now for three years.”

        So the facts are, as presented:

        i) She was married for 41 years, happily by her own account
        ii) She met someone else she was sexually attracted to
        iii) ***A priest*** counselled her to break her marriage vows and leave her husband for this other person
        iv) She broke her marriage vows and left her husband for this other person

        Do you dispute any of these facts?

        If not, what has this case got to do with sexuality?

        If not, why are you not criticising the priest who counselled this lady to break her marriage vows?

        Look, I’m very happy to change my comment if Ange wants to share more facts with us, but please let’s not pretend this matter is simply a case of “I am now being true to my sexuality and no-one is any worse off for that” on the basis of what Ange has told us.

      3. Iain Strachan

        Well, Peter, as the first person to cast the metaphorical stone, you must be without sin!

        I am not going to condone leaving one’s husband for someone else either, and I agree it’s not to do with sexuality, but I prefer to look on Ange as a real person who has been through a difficult and painful time. Yes, she does have my sympathy, because of the pain and because of being treated like a pariah, but that’s not saying I condone what she did – but at least I would be prepared to listen to what led up to this and try and understand her feelings.

        Peter, when you gave your talk at Christchurch Abingdon, you described how you first felt an attraction to a man. I think, if I recall correctly, you said you were looking at a pop-star on a
        TV and thought to yourself “I could really snog him” (I think those are your words). So suppose you had come to me and confessed this, and I said “So, can I be clear about this – you looked at another man in lust? And you want my sympathy? Don’t you know the Bible says that this is an abomination?” How do you think you’d have felt if I had done this?

        I would never have done that. I would have recognized the pain you were suffering, and, as one flawed human being, would have reached out to another flawed human being (you). That last sentence of mine was actually a description of the listening work done by the Samaritans by a friend of mine. She is an atheist, which rather proves Ange’s point.

        Also – I watched the video of the discussion between yourself and Steve Chalke – in which you very strongly suggested that we should give space so that homosexuals are able to talk about their orientation. I don’t see your putting that into practice in the above.

      4. Peter Ould ☩ (@PeterOuld)

        Completely different situation Iain,

        In the case you describe we have someone who comes to their pastor sharing their fallenness and temptations and asking for help in working through what that means for them. This is the honest environment that we need to foster, where people can be open about their brokenness and temptations and find the support necessary to live a Biblically faithful life and not have to hide what they are thinking and feeling.

        Indeed, you present us with a strawman because the position you layout – “So, can I be clear about this – you looked at another man in lust? And you want my sympathy? Don’t you know the Bible says that this is an abomination?” – is completely unbiblical. We know that it is our actions, not our temptations that are the issue, and *all* of us look on people with lust, demonstrating our universal brokenness.

        But that is different isn’t it to presenting us with a series of sinful actions and then asking us to be not only be sympathetic but to endorse it? Can you not see the distinction? Are you suggesting that if someone comes to us and says “I was happily married but decided one day to abandon my spouse and start living with this other person I was sexually attracted to” that we simply shrug our shoulders and say “OK, you make whatever choices you want, that’s fine with God”?

        I thought long and hard about writing my original reply to Ange. I was really interested in what the responses would be. How many people would jump to her defence when, on her own admittance, she broke her marriage vows and walked on her husband who had done no wrong? Her post displayed no contrition for that fact. Are you comfortable with that?

      5. Iain Strachan

        Peter – I didn’t jump to her defence, nor did I say it was fine with God. I specifically said I didn’t condone it. I was questioning your pastoral practices. Do you really think she’s going to open up to you after that? In the absence of further information you’re assuming a lot. For all I know she could have mistyped “happy” for “unhappy”. How about instead – “I don’t quite understand – you say your marriage was happy, but you left your husband. Can you tell me what you felt went wrong?” Instead, you condemned her and complain about the lack of information. Well pardon me for saying so, but I don’t quite understand why you did that in such a sarcastic manner. I could understand better if you just dashed if off in haste and hit “Post Comment” before considering it, but you claim to have thought long and hard about it!

      6. David Shepherd

        Peter asked on a blog, rather than within a counselling session, ‘Sorry, can I be clear what you’re telling us?’

        The interrogative tense demonstrates that his position was tentative. that’s not rendering a final judgment, at all. He wanted to clarify the purpose of declaring a prima facie situation that did not tally with the purpose of this blog.

        Christ Himself didn’t extend the expected level of pastoral sensitivity towards St-Peter’s ‘crucifixion issues’, declaring, ‘Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’.

        As the body of Christ, we may find ourselves echoing his sentiments. Perfectly acceptable to all but those resorting to censoriousness as a strategy for denigrating opponents in debate.

    2. amelia

      Ange not only are you defending the Biblically indefencable “Homosexuality” by your own admission you are now in an adulterous relationship.

      Reply
  22. Dani

    Peter: No, I do not dispute any of the facts you outline above. But who am I to judge whether this story has anything to do with sexuality? I know barely anything about this person, which is why I am not jumping to conclusions. That is also why I am not criticising the priest who counselled Ange – we do not know the mental anguish Ange may have been going through, how are we to know what she told the priest, and why the priest responded in the way she did?

    What I DO know is that you, a priest, responded to Ange in a very cold and impolite way, which to me is not consistent with how a priest should treat his fellow people. Could you not simply have asked politely if she minded elaborating on her story so you had more of the facts?

    Reply
      1. Dani

        Ah, but Christians such as yourself (I have read this entire discussion) remind us that there are Christians who are thoughtful, non-judgemental and very caring.

      2. David

        For this cause Iain, I am happy to be in dispute. Anyone who accepts this teaching has become apostate from the true faith. It makes no sense, reason or logic. Asking followers of Christ to accept homosexuality as normal, in contradiction with what the Bible teaches, is like asking a Jewish businessman during the second world war to invest in a new business called the Final Solution. These people’s souls are at stake, their eternal destiny Iain, patting people on the back and saying awwww didums, those nasty Christians who don’t agree with me, yeah they are the bad ones. It’s called tough love. Danni if you really want to be follower of Christ please read the scriptures, Genesis to revelation, for yourself and see what they teach.

      3. David Shepherd

        Let me say first that I understand the side of the restorative process that you’ve described: that there is a need to delve beyond what people say at first in order to get at their true story. Yet, Jude varies the pastoral approach: ‘Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.’ (Jude 1:22 – 23)

        Yet, I’m sure you must have come across those who abuse the Samaritans system, realising the sympathetic attention that is lavished on anyone who calls in. It must be difficult to resist the co-dependency feelings that some callers might engender. Yet, I suppose that on a Samaritans helpline, you must err on the side of caution.

        Nevertheless, we can’t assume that everyone who jumps in on this comment thread is ready to jump off a bridgr and deserving of only an unmitigated outpouring of sympathy. It may be abrupt, but even psychiatrists allow tough words to challenge self-deceiving victimhood. We’ve seen that Jesus Himself could be quite blunt about a spiritual obstacle (skandalon – the root of which means the trigger of collapse and entrapment). He didn’t mince his words.

        You could speculate endlessly about the harmful temporal outcomes of Christ’s and the apostolic ministry. For example, what if the rich young ruler fell into depression and began to self-harm? What about the rejection of Judas’ late remorse? Why was there no sacred assurance of forgiveness?

        What of Judas’ poor bereaved relatives? What about Ananias and Sapphira’s children: orphaned by a sudden act of divine judgement? Couldn’t they have been spared? Did Jesus have to humiliate the Sadducees and Pharisees with a very public dressing-down? What about his home town of Nazareth? Christ preached in the synagogue and made unflattering comparisons with Israel missing out on God’s favour while random heathens were healed and blessed.

        I see that Christ appears to have given each person the right to make profound choices, once the facts were explained and after fairly brief encounters. Neither He, nor His apostles berated themselves for the reactions triggered by their decisive insights.

        At some point, the endless hand-wringing self-reproach must stop. For instance, whatever guilt you may feel about the past, you may have been naive, but you did not aid and abet a Christian defection to atheism. You chose to challenge someone on their tenor of life and he chose a different path. You were only one of many influences. You were probably never more than a short phone call away. He might even be happy with his path, however misguided. In contrast, you continue to hold yourself responsible, when you shouldn’t.

      4. Iain Strachan

        Hi, David – thanks for your reply – there is a lot to address in it but I don’t have the time and it would make a post too long. Maybe I’ll address some of the points when I get round to responding to Peter. I just wanted to say something about the last paragraph in which you said:

        At some point, the endless hand-wringing self-reproach must stop. For instance, whatever guilt you may feel about the past, you may have been naive, but you did not aid and abet a Christian defection to atheism.

        Actually, I don’t hold myself responsible or feel guilt about what I did (I believe I said that somewhere else). I strongly think you should be true to yourself, and to what you believe is right at the time, but have the humility to accept you may in the future have to admit you were wrong. So it was with homosexuality. At the time, I strongly believed, as you do now, that it was a sinful practice & it was essential to repent of it, as part of the process of becoming a Christian. If I had hidden this from Richard, I would have been totally dishonest. I am just saying that I would have approached it differently now, had someone like Steve Chalke come forward at the time, or had my life experience led me to change what I believed.

        There is a difference between a lie and a falsehood. A falsehood is simply a false statement – but if you make that statement, and earnestly believe it to be true, then, in my opinion, you are being honest and not telling a lie. If you deliberately make a statement that you believe to be false, and pass it off as true, with the intent to deceive, then you are telling a lie. The statement itself may even be true – the difference is you believe it to be false. Suppose you want the last slice of the apple pie, but someone else at the table looks like they want it. So you tell them there’s a maggot in the last slice. They don’t eat it, and you later steal it yourself, and you find that there IS a maggot in it. What you said to the other person was a lie, because although you made a true statement, you believed it was false, and you were intending to deceive them. By the same analogy, if I’d told Richard that his homosexuality was OK with God, just to get him to be a Christian, I would have been lying, because I believed at the time it was NOT ok with God. So, no, I don’t feel guilt about what I did – I was true to what I believed. Would I tell him it’s OK with God now? I’m not sure I would – I would try to give both sides of the picture – some say it is, when in a faithful relationship, others say it is not. There is honest disagreement about it – you have to decide what you want to do about this. I might say that I now believe that in a faithful relationship it’s OK, but point out that I should not necessarily be treated as some sort of authority on this just because I’m the one talking to you.

    1. Peter Ould ☩ (@PeterOuld)

      I’ve dealt pastorally with plenty of people who have divorced, with and without adultery (on their behalf or their spouse’s). I am aware of the pain that is involved all round on this issue.

      I’m also aware of how some people tell their stories and how we often use the victim mentality to avoid our culpability. In this respect CS Lewis’ “Till We Have Faces” is a remarkably good read.

      I would welcome Ange sharing more of her story, but I worked with what she had decided to (and not decided to share). She is as responsible for her words as I am for mine.

      Reply
      1. Iain Strachan

        Dear Peter,
        It’s been suggested that I offer you an “olive branch” as things have become a bit heated over the past few days. I hope you will take this in the spirit it is intended, as an encouragement (to both of us) to be more Christ-like (as I see it) and not as a judgement on you.

        I felt that you were being too judgemental of Ange in the way you jumped in on her post. I recognise that when I say “you’re being judgemental” I could be accused of being judgemental myself. (Matthew 7:2 – if you point the finger, it points straight back at you). I’ll freely admit that I was judging you. In fact it went worse than that – my thoughts were MUCH worse than what I wrote, so, as it’s good to admit your errors, I’ll say what I thought:

        What I thought to myself was “That Peter Ould person has gone right down in my estimation. What a self-righteous prig!” I imagined myself saying those words to you, along with expressions like “Shame on you!” Now if the principle of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 can be generalised, I could also say that having those malicious thoughts about you was as bad as actually saying them. I may not have said them, but in my heart I’d already judged you. I hope (no I believe) that God will forgive me, and that you can too. I have been called a “self righteous prig” and “St. Iain” directly on some evolution/creation discussion lists – by a bad tempered Anglican Vicar no less! That is probably a weakness in me.

        Now concerning the issue of “looking at a man in lust” – I hope I didn’t embarrass you too much by revealing this, but you did, after all say it publicly in front of about half my church, so I guess it’s no secret. You say that I’m being unbiblical and that it was a temptation, not an action.

        Maybe I am wrong, but my understanding of Matthew 5:28 is that the thought and the action are the same thing: “Whoever so much as looks at a woman in lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. Now I suppose there is some uncertainty as to where the temptation turns into the thought/action equivalent. I would suggest that if I see a woman and find her attractive (I’m a sucker for a female face with a friendly smile!) then there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s to do with my sexuality. If a thought comes to me “I wonder what it would be like to kiss that woman?”, that would be temptation, which I should resist – I should let the thought go. But if that thought progresses to “Wow! I could *really* kiss that woman” – then I would say that is succumbing to temptation – one has had the thought – imagined what it would be like to kiss her … the start of a sexual fantasy, and Jesus says that is the same as committing adultery with her in your heart. I doubt if any of us can truthfully say we haven’t done this at one time or another. I can only hope that Matthew 5:29 (about gouging your right eye out if it causes you to stumble) is not intended literally or else we’d all only have a left eye! (Doesn’t say you should pluck the left one out, so I guess we’re spared)! Sorry about my mischievous sense of humour!
        .
        So what that means, it seems to me is, that I have no right to judge someone for admitted adultery, because, in Jesus’ view, I’m no better than she is. And the same applies to you, Peter, or to any of us.

        When you justified your intervention, you quoted all the “bad” facts, which is what you saw when you read it. And I can’t dispute that as given, they don’t look good. But what I saw was that she was in deep pain when she went to that priest. I’d like to know more about the nature of that pain, how she felt, before I rushed in with a sarcastic and judgemental comment.
        Maybe, it the end, a sharp rebuke is required. Maybe the “deep pain” is a victim mentality. But we don’t know, and unless Ange feels like continuing (I personally wouldn’t!) we’ll probably never know. But to take your point about Jesus and the woman at the well, taking that bit out of context doesn’t (in my opinion) justify you rushing in with a harsh rebuke before you know the full facts. Remember that Jesus DID know the full facts of the case. I guess you could say it was a “word of knowledge” – a spiritual gift. But they weren’t the first words he said to her. The first thing he said was: “Can I have a drink?”. Then he offered her something much better than water. She thought she was beneath him as a Samaritan, and he treated her as an equal. It was only later that made the comment that you cited & this showed her amazing things about him – she then said he was a prophet. And, moreover, many of the Samaritans believed because of the woman’s testimony about him and his knowledge of her.

        So, with respect, Peter, I can’t say I find the two equivalent. Dare I say it, I find your example of the woman at the well to be a “straw man” (Straw woman?).

        I very much hope this can be continued in the spirit of respectful dialogue.

      2. Peter Ould ☩ (@PeterOuld)

        Hi Iain,

        Yes, let’s continue to talk.I always want to talk. Too much in fact.

        Was what I said a rebuke? Well I guess you could read it as such, but I was phrasing it more as a question (are these facts correct?) and a statement (if they are then what you wrote has little to do with sexuality per se). I chose to do that deliberately in that way. You could quite rightly perceive the questions as judgements but they weren’t meant to be (or at least that wasn’t the purpose of them).

        This is the problem you know – Ange’s story (and yes, I would love to know more) highlights one major problem in this area – far too often we conflate the testimony of one’s personal journey of discovery of self (as a positive) with the actions that one might undertake in such a journey (often negative) and then ask, nay demand, that the listener affirm the journey because of the positive steps and ignore the negatives. Our pastoral mission is then made to be about making people feel good about themselves when in fact far too often correct pastoral practice is to make someone feel bad about themselves (or more precisely, to help them understand that the Holy Spirit convicting them of their sins and making them aware of their guilt) because this is the very means of repentance. Guiltless people don’t repent.

        That’s why I brought up the story of the woman at the well. Jesus lays her sin and guilt in front of her and uses it to help her see her need for dealing with it and therefore who he is and how that fits into that dealing with sin. He outlines the truth to help people recognise the greater truth.

        As for the issue of lust in the heart, we are probably saying the same thing. Sin is our action and thought and the point Jesus is making is that it doesn’t matter how much you control your actions, your fallen heart will still desire sin. Only by that heart being transformed by an external power will you ever deal with that issue. That means that I am a self-righteous prig and that others here are self-righteous prigs. Even if I managed to avoid ever commenting on anybody’s personal story ever again I would *still* be a self-righteous prig because I’d read the story and think “Oh that is ridiculous, but to avoid anybody knowing that I’m a self-righteous prig I won’t say that so everyone can instead think I’m a wonderfully humble man”. I’m still a self-righteous prig.

        And you know what, we’re all sinners and we all have malicious hearts to some degree. Pretending we don’t and telling people that we shouldn’t point out to them when they seem to have done something incredibly wrong doesn’t help either. If we *never* judged others in the right way then this whole thread would never have started.

        I apologise for judging Ange.

      3. Iain Strachan

        Dear Peter, Thanks for your reply, and especially the last line! Love to talk more, but I’ve only limited time as am on a Samaritans shift tonight. However, I’d just respond to one thing for now, maybe more tomorrow.

        I accept that you didn’t intend it to be a rebuke. However I think I was not the only person who thought your response was sarcastic. I think it was also inaccurate & I hope you take this in the spirit of constructive criticism. Perhaps I am sensitive to this sort of thing after 15 years as a Samaritan volunteer, and in the techniques of listening. This not only applies to on-the-phone but in textual responses (we do email and SMS support at Sams now as well). As I’ve said on other posts here, one of the things that irritates me beyond measure is when people misrepresent what you say. The reason that irritates me is that it means they haven’t LISTENED properly to what I said & I have to go back and say “no I didn’t say that, I said this and it is quite different”. I have found that people who oppose my ideas are more likely to do this than people who agree with me, though ironically the same happened to David Shepherd from folks who were on the same side of the argument. I find that Creationists and ID advocates are always doing this to me on Evolution-Creation discussions, because they can’t accept my scientific views about evolution.

        Two principals of listening we are taught in the training for Samaritans are “Reflection” and “Summarising”. Reflection might be in a spoken conversation, where you simply repeat back a word of phrase from the last sentence to get them to talk more. Summarising is when you make a longer summary – “So as I understand it, what you’ve told me is …” This is what you were attempting to do in your response. But I felt your summary was inaccurate, and an indication of not listening properly, because it put a spin on what was said. What she SAID was that she fell in love with a woman and in deep pain went to a priest etc etc.

        What you summarised this as was that she walked out on her husband to pursue a sexual relationship with someone because she fancied them. (Have I got that right? I hope so!)

        I would say there is a world of difference between “fancying” someone and “falling in love with someone”. The former might imply it was casual sex, or in modern parlance a “friends with benefits” arrangement. The latter implies a much deeper emotional attachment.

        I’m not saying either of them is right, but the pain and guilt associated with falling in love with someone, breaking someone else’s heart, etc, are likely to be much greater than a quick one-night stand with someone you fancied, and then tried to cover it up.

        Do you see the difference? If you’re going to summarise (as you were) to establish the facts, perhaps you should attempt to be a little more faithful to the original.

      4. Iain Strachan

        Dear Peter,

        I’ve now unsubscribed from email updates to this thread, for various reasons. As you indicated the desire to talk more, you can find me as @igdstrachan on Twitter. PM me if you were interested in talking further.

  23. Dani

    David: Yet another Christian making sweeping generalisations about someone based on a few comments they have made on a blog.
    Did I say anywhere that I have not read the entire Bible several time through from Genesis to Revelation? No. Did I give you any indication that I am not a true ‘follower of Christ’ other than thanking Iain for being kind? No. Did I say I agree with every single thing Iain has said? No.
    Did I even state my opinion on homosexuality? No.

    All I have done is pointed out that a comment made by Peter was not done in a very polite way. And from this, you feel that you have enough information to declare that not only have I not read the Bible in its entirety, but that I am not even a ‘true’ Christian.

    (I would use the reply button but it seems to have disappeared!)

    Reply
    1. David

      Hi Dani my reply was to Iain and comments about previous postings. My points are are specific and and not generic. That said surely you cannot be upset at someone, although mistakingly, encouraging them to read the Bible and make their own mind up? In my opinion Dani this issue will not be resolved by cuddling up to people and telling them it is ok to be Gay. Would I accept gay people in my church? Yes. Would I look to support and help without bias? Absolutely. Would I accept the fact they wanted to live an openly gay life and profess Christ? No, they would be put out of the church in the same way, and in consistent with, others that want to live in sin in open contradiction to the Bible. This is scriptural principal, is it not?

      Reply
      1. Dani

        Apologies if I am mistaken, but you said ‘Danni if you really want to be follower of Christ please read the scriptures, Genesis to revelation, for yourself and see what they teach.’

        I assumed the sentence was directed at me because you used my name, followed by your instructions – I realised the rest was direct at Iain.

        I found your sentence condescending because it seemed you were not suggesting I simply read the Bible in order to gain knowledge (which I agree can only be a good thing), you were suggesting I read the Bible in order to be a follower of Christ; this of course, implies you think I am not one already. If you didn’t mean it in that way then that is fine.

      2. David Shepherd

        Hi David,

        Although I’m clearly not a liberal, let me clarify the liberal mindset. Take, for instance, 1 Cor. 5:1-2: ‘1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?’

        .There is a condition affecting siblings who have been reunited after long separation called Genetic Sexual Attraction. Those who experience it struggle with feeling of attraction towards the previously estranged sibling. Some desire to marry each other. They are willing to go through genetic screening to prevent inbreeding harm.

        Fast forward twenty years from now and here are the likely parallel liberal arguments in favour of inclusive sibling marriage.
        1. The prohibitions against incest are Levitical and probably more focused on the impact on offspring, rather than the relationship per se. Do those opposed to it eat Leviticus-prohibited shrimp?
        2. Christ nowhere highlighted incest, therefore it’s not a salvation issue.
        3. There are clear biological factors at work in GSA that are probably not amenable to change.
        4. The church should take a primary role in treating the relationship as morally neutral.
        5. Shouldn’t we be encouraging them to express their sibling attraction in a monogamous relationship?
        5. Paul lacked the pastoral engagement needed to help the couple move forward. He judged them on hearsay from elders, rather than adding further inquiry to his letter.
        6. Paul was not speaking of near-kin attraction, as it should be understood in 2023.

      3. David

        Hi David, firstly, If a may point out the reference you made from Corinthians is not case of incest, the man slept with his fathers wife not his genetic mother. But that said
        1. Eating food prohibited in Leviticus s dealt with in the New Testament. This is in Acts when Peter has the vision of the unclean foods. As well as its prophetic meaning it also had a contextual meaning that all foods are now clean. I personally don’t like prawns, but would not feel guilty if I did.
        2. I genuinely do not understand your reasoning or logic on this one David? Just because Jesus did not mention something does not mean it is not relevant, obsolete or inconclusive and that the only things He mentioned are relevant to salvation. When Jesus arrived on the scene Israel was an established nation with its own government (under Roman rule), with an established culture and with established laws, which were given to them by Moses through angels. Alongside this an established Bible translated into Greek in about 320 BC. It would appear for the most Jesus had agreement with the laws they followed. Obviously because they were His. The work Jesus came to do was building upon these establishments so when we read the Old Testament (and apocryphal books) they help us to fill in the gaps. Incest was a no no in Jewish culture.
        3. The only biological problem human beings suffer from is our depraved nature. Which gives human beings a propensity towards the dark side. That does not mean we cannot be sympathetic without bias and understanding of persons in this or any other predicament, but the truth is the truth and it is the truth that sets people free. Psychology can offer some help, but it is an unchecked science and offers little or no help.
        4. There is a place for the church to take this neutral stance, but this is not it. The issues of how the church pastors homosexuals is a different question to the one that Steve Chalke has raised. How we deal with people who profess Christ and live in open sin is clearly prescribed in scripture. If people, ministers or denominations want to re define sin, I would exhort to do so with great caution.
        5. To assume that it was Paul himself who wrote Corinthians (without the exhale of God’s breath in Him) and that he lacked pastoral clarity is to come to the wrong conclusion, David. Firstly, Paul was a gifted pastor and secondly I think he read the issue perfectly as we can see from 2 Corinthians with the man coming back to the place of repentance and restoration. Secondly, as to who it was the wrote the scriptures? Paul did it under the inspiration of God.
        6. If the Holy Spirit did inspire the scriptures as I understand it, then everything that is in there can be used for today’s church issue’s. To be honest nothing that happened in the New Testament that looks unfamiliar to the world we live in today.
        Look forward to your reply

      4. David Shepherd

        David,

        How can you have read any of my previous arguments in opposition to the church approval of homosexuality and decided that I now approve of those liberal arguments? Do you not understand that I am showing the *possible* arguments that liberals might use in respect of a future situation? I AM NOT AGREEING WITH THEM.

        Yet, you decide that God wants you to refute them point by point, when I clearly distanced myself from the points by saying, ‘although I’m clearly not a liberal, let me clarify the mindset’. Please. Think before you write!

      5. David

        Apologies David, I heard what you said and read your previous comments. I was responding for the sake of other people reading as opposed to arguing against your standpoint. 🙂 trust you understand.

      6. Iain Strachan

        Ah .. the number of times I’ve had to say on a discussion thread “No I didn’t say that, I said quite the opposite!” to someone eager to rush in and condemn me. Glad it’s not just me. Pretty annoying isn’t it? Forgive my amusement.

        I didn’t misunderstand what you wrote, but didn’t think it worthwhile responding to the typical “slippery slope” type of argument you’re putting forward. Quite a tired ploy if I may say.

      7. David Shepherd

        Iain,

        I thought you had broken off all response, which actually suited me fine. So, I wasn”t expecting further comment..

        The record shows that while I may have taken issue with your summary and challenged your notions regarding the biblical position on homosexual acts, I have never found amusement in the process. I even took issue with David when his responses eventually overstepped the mark. That’s because I don’t approach this debate with polarised ‘tag-team’ loyalties.

        I applied rigour in challenging your lack of balanced summary and you now find amusement (your choice of word) at a calumnous insinuation of defending paedophilia. Any empathy in your last post was clearly window-dressing for poorly-veiled scorn at paedophile sympathising insinuations against me. My responses to you were not on that scale. Yet, you remember to chide others on this blog, like Peter Ould, for a supposed lack of sensitivity.

        Full marks on a Pyrrhic victory of moral contradiction between what you demand of others and how you behave! If that’s what you think Christ teaches, don’t bother with further response or engaging with my arguments here again. ‘Forgive my amusement’ is something you should ask of Christ himself!

      8. Iain Strachan

        David, my amusement was because of the irony. You have twisted some of the things I have said on this blog (especially in my summary post) and I tried to correct you in a gentlemanly fashion. Now someone else has misrepresented you and you go off at the deep end, with comments like:

        This is one occasion where I’ll tell you like it is. Others can damn my pastoral approach and zero in on taking it personally. Think first or you’ll end up in a cult that doesn’t! Thoughtless commenters like you give Christianity and Christ a bad name!

        I have been putting up with this sort of nonsense and misrepresentation for years on evolution/creation discussion lists from fundamentalists who want to shoot me down. But I’ve never blown up like that. That’s why I found it funny. I still do. If you can’t see the irony of the situation … well, I don’t know what to say.

      9. David Shepherd

        The comment was ‘I wonder if you are as liberal and accepting of adult/child sexual relationships and beastiality, those who practice them’ oh, of course, my over-reaction is astounding and the irony is that what I may have misconstrued in relation to your summary (and not before) is completely comparable to the foregoing remark and merited your display of vindictive contempt.

        Pity you’re the only person on this blog that found it funny. Find sympathetic hearers who will respect and respond to your arguments in future, but do not engage with me in further discussion or remarks. Your feigned morality is pointless.

      10. Iain Strachan

        All right David – let’s call a truce. I apologise for not keeping my amusement to myself. My sense of humour occasionally gets me in trouble, and I’m sorry you feel offended. I wish you well. Shake hands?

      11. David Shepherd

        I have re-read your summary and further responses. I admit that I misconstrued certain phrases as evidence of a biased conclusion.

        I hope you can also extend an olive branch to Peter Ould. I think the radical thought here is that there are thoughtful evangelicals who want to engage better in these discussions without abandoning their theological underpinnings completely. There are Christian liberals who want to establish stronger support for their views among a broader church-going majority. Neither will happen, if this kind of dialogue ends.

        I’m a Christian, Iain. My backlog of forgiven sins means I can do no less than make peace. 489 (70 x 7 -1) offences later and we may be beyond reconciliation. I’m counting down, aren’t you. 😉

      12. Iain Strachan

        Thank you David. I’m glad you took the chance to re-read the summary, and now understand it better.

        As far as Peter Ould is concerned: if Peter feels that I have offended him, I’ll gladly offer the olive branch. But I would like to explain at some length where I was coming from.

        I want to see if Ange responds with further information of her situation, if she hasn’t been scared off completely by the rush to condemn her. Something about the story doesn’t add up: you leave what is described as a happy marriage for a relationship with another woman, and that is condoned by a priest. That all seems somewhat unlikely to me and I wonder if there is much more to this than meets the eye – a far deeper sadness that hasn’t been revealed yet.

        As a Samaritan volunteer I can attest to the fact that people’s stories often take a long time to come out in full & one shouldn’t make assumptions based on what you hear first of all. But one of the key principles on which Samaritans works is that you don’t judge the caller under any circumstances – whatever they do, be it adultery, homosexuality, paedophilia, domestic abuser, or anything else. I’ve a friend whose wife went through bad depression & became difficult to live with. They were both Christians. One day, my friend snapped under the strain and hit his wife round the head. After that, he rang the Samaritans, appalled at what he’d done. They didn’t judge him, even though what he’d done was a terrible thing to do. They didn’t say “You just hit your wife – and you want my sympathy?” Instead they supported him, and helped him to come through a difficult time.

        Because if you do judge someone, you are ceasing to listen to them. You are viewing them through a lens that says “Domestic abuser” ,”homosexual”, “kleptomaniac”, rather than a lens of “human being”. Everyone is a human being with feelings and conflicts, and often the best way to resolve those feelings, especially ones that lead to suicidal inclinations, is just to be able to talk to someone who isn’t going to judge you. And it’s incredibly liberating to stop judging and allow the other person space to talk. The approach works. Many times when we do street tin-shake collections we get folks coming up saying “if it weren’t for you guys, we wouldn’t be here”.

        Also, just because you don’t judge does NOT mean to say you are condoning their wrong behaviour. You are not saying it’s ok what they are doing. You neither condemn nor condone.

        That’s where I was coming from when I chided Peter Ould for his attitude. I hope very much that Ange contacts again and gives us some more of her story.

        489 and counting, right? 🙂

  24. amelia

    Hi David Shepherd – I wonder if you are as liberal and accepting of adult/child sexual relationships and beastiality, those who practice them ALSO claim they were born that way, and Jesus never mentioned either! So that’s all right then too. And what about the kleptmaniac, born that way, and a congenital liar?

    Reply
    1. David Shepherd

      Amelia,

      I published my post to show that the position that liberals take on homosexuality is just as easily (and mistakenly) applied to sibling attraction. So, no, I DO NOT SUBSCRIBE to the ‘born this way’ theory. You simply jumped in, read the bullet point and decided that I was justifying incest, when I was demonstrating the opposite.

      So, you’ve rhetorically questioned whether I approve of paedophilia and bestiality. Did you actually read my earlier posts opposing Steve Chalke’s position? You will see that I’ve opposed the liberal stance on sexual orientation on this and other blogs. My view is that we cannot condone sexual relationships outside of the bond of marriage,

      You’ve completely misread my argument, which as against the liberal mind-set. You should retract your accusation, since the points were merely showing how liberals would view them, not myself,

      This is one occasion where I’ll tell you like it is. Others can damn my pastoral approach and zero in on taking it personally. Think first or you’ll end up in a cult that doesn’t! Thoughtless commenters like you give Christianity and Christ a bad name!

      Reply
      1. Iain Strachan

        David – now you know what it feels like to be misrepresented by people not reading your posts properly. You have my sympathy – it happens to me all the time, including several times here.

  25. David

    Sorry Phil, the bias appears to all yours. Would you like us to look at the Bible through christian gay rose tinted glasses? Romans 1:27 Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. (nlt) To attempt to make this say anything other than or contrive that homosexual relationships were different back in the day sounds like codswallop to me. There is nothing to indicate it means anything other than what the plain text says in English or Greek. Do you think that the Apostle Paul did not have the forethought or God given revelation to imagine that sin in the 21st century would be different than that in the first century. If he had I am sure he would have penned it. Is sin not sin in any generation? Or a sin nature a sin nature in any generation? Does the Immutable Word of God change to fit in with each passing generation? Phil do you think that the church is being progressive, inclusive and caring by adopting this teaching? If so Jude reminds us what happened to the angels when the left the first state they were created for, to have sex with women (a sexual perversion), Jude clearly gives this warning to those teachers who say that right is wrong and wrong is right. Would they not suffer a similar fate of being chained in the deepest darkest dungeon? Was not the judgment of fire and brimstone to those at Sodom and Gomorrah a warning to those who engage in sexual perversion and refusal to become subject to God’s authority, and in fact usurp Godly authority with their own dreams, bring judgment on themselves? You say Phil that Homosexuality is not a sin, therefore re defining what God, The Almighty has declared is sin and you have the temerity to say that I am arrogant? If God’s Word is His Word, leave well alone and accept the plain understanding, it is good hermaneutics and good logic. Trust in the Lord with all your might and lean not on your own understanding, ask God for wisdom and He will grant it liberally.

    This teaching is all about self, love of me, myself and I. It demonstrates a hate for the Law of of God, a hate for God’s Word, a hate for The nature of God and contempt, utter contempt for the Grace of God. Tempting the providence of God and abusing His Grace. The Eternal Creator, made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. This is God’s voice on the matter. If it had been in the original plan of God for same sex relationships, do you not think that the Almighty would have had the foresight to make it clear and save homosexuals this problem? If it was not God’s original intention then Paul is right along with Moses, Jude and Peter in calling it a perversion, a twisting of what God original wanted for the human race. Why would God command, go and replenish the earth if it included same sex relationships?

    We bring human nature to its most base point and reach for the lowest common denominator when say, we all sin, so no one can point the finger at anyone. We all wallow like pigs in the mud and as we are all covered in mud no one can say to anyone else “you are dirty”. But that it is not the standard.!!! Jesus is our standard and as a follower of Christ I measure myself against Him as the Living Word and against His Written Word. If we stretch this point further, we could assume, if this logic dictates, that it was possible for Jesus in His human nature to have a homosexual relationship and His Father would have been ok with it. This is blasphemy. This teaching may sound good when judge ourselves against each other, but God has a far higher standard and the whole point of the cross and the work of Jesus was to lift people from the miry clay and set their feet upon the rock. To wash them and clean them and get them ready to live in glory with Him. We should climbing from glory to glory not sliding down the slippery slop.

    A homosexual relationship makes no logical sense at all. It is completely unproductive and completely self indulgent. Even If I did not believe in God and believed in the theory of evolution homosexuality makes no logical sense whatsoever. There is no logic for it to exist in either a God world or a none God world.

    Now I accept that people are subject to these desires and they cause them great anguish. One because, on the whole, they feel unaccepted and ostracised. Two because they want to fit in and be accepted as normal. All human beings have these desires. But if a person wants to follow Christ they must conform to His pattern of Living and this excludes clinging to any sinful desires and passions, removing the old garment and being clothed with Christ.

    Reply
    1. Phil Groom

      An encouraging response, David: thank you; and a good suggestion, we should indeed try looking at the Bible through Christian gay rose tinted glasses. This is, of course, the very core of the Christian message: the incarnation, that God in Christ became one of us and has experienced first hand what it is to be human. When we learn to see from another’s perspective, our eyes are truly opened: the transforming power of grace, of God’s radical action changing everything, turning the world upside down and inside out.

      You’re quite right: it’s unlikely that Paul foresaw the ways in which society would change over the course of 2,000+ years: he expected the imminent return of Jesus, and the idea that we’d still be discussing his writings after all this time would have been inconceivable to him. You’re also right that sin is sin is sin in any generation; and the sin of unfaithfulness, which places self at the centre, which leads to all those terrible things Paul describes, which exchanges the truth about God for a lie and so on and so forth, undermines everything: faith, hope and love are torn apart, lives destroyed, children estranged from their parents and those to whom God reaches out estranged from the church.

      Yet the Word of God remains, dynamic, alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, judging the attitudes of our hearts, God’s truth setting us free. You are again right: there is no logic to love; love reaches out to the other in unexpected, impossible ways, just as the whole of creation is filled with delightful, illogical things: the flight of the bumble bee, to name but one. Utterly absurd, isn’t it? And God is love: mercy triumphs over judgement just as perfect love drives out all fear.

      You have chosen the heterosexual lifestyle and declared it the only way, and so you fear the judgement to come against those whom you declare to be sinners, those who have come to terms with who they are, who have chosen to live with integrity rather than live a lie. Which, I wonder, does God prefer: the hypocrisy of pretending to be something that you are not, or the integrity of being true to who you are?

      Peter struggled to accept Gentiles just as you now struggle to accept LGBT people: everything in his upbringing and reading of scripture told him that this could not be; but God showed him otherwise. It’s a difficult journey, having your prejudices stripped away — but many have walked this road before you: it’s good to see you taking these tentative steps. May your eyes soon be opened as fully as his were; grace and peace to you.

      Reply
      1. David

        Hehelol Phil, you are a funny guy. Please answer a straight question, if you pardon the pun, with a straight answer. Stop with your own agenda and apply proper scriptural logic and hermeneutics to the problem. Your template does not fit with the template of scripture. You are out of sync. That said, like all of us you are free to make of it what you will, so interpret scripture how you want, for we will all reap what we sow. Happy living Phil, live long and prosper.

      2. Phil Groom

        Pot, kettle, black?

        As you say, we shall indeed reap what we sow. What then shall we sow? Love, reaching out to the marginalised: bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind — to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

        That’s what it’s about, David, and it’s a good enough template for me; and if there’s a problem, that lies in the hearts of those who refuse to see. May light perpetual shine upon you.

      3. David Shepherd

        Phil,

        Your parting shot was gratuitously condescending. At least, Iain accepted that an intelligent Christian could arrive at either position with genuine inquiry and integrity.

        You still can’t explain why Christ would invoke what you call ‘a primordial myth, ancient Israel’s polemical response to other Ancient Near Eastern creation stories’ in support of the permanence of marriage. I suspect that liberals would claim that He had little else to work with for such a primitive people. If so, it does make you wonder why Gentiles couldn’t simply resort to merging the relevant insights of their enlightened philosophers, rather than relying on a bunch of books that you view as myths.

        You can only hope and pray those souls benighted by mere disagreement with liberals, who, to you, are clearly ‘the chosen’.

  26. Iain Strachan

    Dear David (“the one with out the S”) – gets quite confusing doesn’t it?

    Glad you saw the funny side of your typo! 🙂

    I’m glad we agree that you can’t take every word literally – I believe that is what you said earlier – though I can’t quite remember the exact words, and the thread is so long that it’s hard to find it. – Perhaps Oasis should set up a bulletin board type discussion?

    You’re surprised I chose Matthew 5:29, but examine my response to the other David and it seems quite relevant to me. Alan Turing’s “chemical castration” to curb his homosexual desires could well be seen as an application of it. It is not the only instance I can think of. I once saw a TV documentary where they interviewed in prison a repeat-offender paedophile. The man concerned said that he had pleaded with the prison authorities to castrate him, as it was the only way he could see that would prevent him from re-offending when he was released. The authorities did not consent to this. Should they have done so, given this was what the man wanted? Should it be offered to homosexual Christians who want to be part of the church? One can only imagine the uproar if that were ever proposed. But it would appear to be faithful to the principle that if something in your body causes to stumble then remove it.

    Reply
      1. Matthew

        Thanks David, also appreciated your posts. Ultimately this is a battle, but it is not a battle against people, it is a battle for truth. Ultimately, Steve Chalke’s teaching on this issue will prove to be extremely unloving, however good his intentions may have been. If sin is redefined, then repentance becomes impossible. Thus your arguments on here are genuinely loving, because you are trying to restore to people the opportunity to repent and receive mercy from a merciful God. You make many salient points in your posts: Sin is indeed sin in any generation. This is a battle for the authority of the scriptures, over an issue which is fairly clear and straightforward, if we have ears to hear.Of course, there is always a voice whispering “did God really say?”

      2. David

        This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.
        I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ.*
        2 May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.
        The Danger of False Teachers
        3 Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. 4 I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Thanks Matthew sums it up for me.

    1. David

      Good point Iain, but do not know if I would subscribe to it myself. Sorry to see you go bro, thanks for all your contributions, challenging and appreciated. God Bless.

      Reply
  27. Matthew

    Firstly, let me say that I have read many, but not all of these contributions. All I have read have been interesting, and, as it is an open conversation, I will now chip in with my two penneth worth.
    I would like to say quite openly that I am one of many who strongly disagree with Steve on this issue.
    Where do I think he is going wrong?
    I think it needs to be acknowledged that there is much about christian doctrine that is very unpalatable indeed. Christ did not just give us good news, he gave us some very bad news indeed, if we go by his clear words in scripture, as I do. “Enter through the narrow gate.For wide is the gate and broad the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” That doesn’t sound very inclusive does it? The call to repentance, to salvation, is inclusive, but the outcome, when all is said and done, is not, according to Christ, inclusive at all. Most people are not saved. And almost everything we know about hell comes from Christ:There is litttle material elsewhere in the bible. “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “there worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”.Everyone one will be salted with fire.”
    I will offend people, sadly, by putting those verses up as part of the disscussion, but they are not from me, they are the words of Christ as recorded in the bible. What would Jesus do? Well, among lots of other things, warn people about the terrible danger of going to hell and that they should do anything they can to avoid that.
    So, where do I think Steve is going wrong? By trying to make the gospel nice. Inclusive. Palatable. Acceptable. But it has never been any of those things, and it never will be. What is is, though, is true. Let me state clearly, as an evangelical christian, that evangelical christianity contains truth that is very disagreeable in many ways. Do I wish that Christ had never mentioned hell? You bet I do! But the truth is truth whether or not we like it.
    None of this means, in any way whatsoever, that gay people are worse than anyone else. George Whitefield, perhaps the best and most effective preacher this country ever had says, in a letter, that “I have sinned enough in one day to deserve to go to hell for ever, were the rest of my life faultless.” That is true for all, I believe:We have all messed this up and need a saviour. We have all sinned and fallen short. We all need to repent of our sins. To seek to justify them so that we do not need to repent is very dangerous inedeed.For any of us.
    Steve is a nice bloke. His church, in terms of its compassion and social care, puts most of our church to shame. I do not attribute bad motives to him. Indeed, I think it is his very niceness and desire to invite everyone to the party that has let him down a wrong path. There simply isn’t any party.At least, not this side of heaven.
    I am fifty, and will be marrying this year, for the first and last time. I will be a virgin on my wedding day. Why? Because, I believe, as Christians have for thousands of years, that fornication is wrong. If someone had managed to convince me that the bible said something different, would that have made my life easier. Yup…in many ways. But not ultimately….not if they were wrong. If they had persauded me sex outside of marriage was ok, and they were wrong, though would ultimately be doing me no favours at all.

    Reply
    1. Amanda

      Matthew

      You say “I believe:We have all messed this up and need a saviour. We have all sinned and fallen short. We all need to repent of our sins.” Can you explain why we need to repent and have a saviour? Just to explain my position – I cannot logically marry the two ideas – if I repent I am then forgiven but I still need a saviour? What is the purpose of the saviour if I have repented?

      Amanda
      i

      Reply
      1. matthew

        Hi Amanda, only just noticed your reply, sorry not to have clarified what I was saying sooner.
        I would say that Jesus remains our only source of righteousness, even after our sins have been forgiven. So while we can receive forgiveness of our sins, and be fully accepted by God, that acceptance is always based on what Jesus Christ has done. My repentance cannot give me any standing before God independent of what God has done through the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone has paid the just penalty for my sin.
        Repentance opens the door for my sins to be forgiven through the only Saviour, Jesus Christ, but it does not earn forgiveness. I expect to be praising Christ as my Saviour throughout eternity.
        David Shepherd has written about this well in his post below. Sorry again for the slow response.
        All the best, Matthew

    2. David Shepherd

      Any remorse that I express to God over my past sins is not what motivates God to exempt me from retribution. The supreme greatness of God requires a act of reconciliation on our behalf far beyond the Old Testament sacrifices that had to be repeated.

      Before Christ, our lives are characterised by self-will and falling in line with a society that is largely dismissive of God. Our own guilt obstructs the path to the divine blessing of repentance and faith. God must send a Saviour to clear the obstruction. This is why we need a Saviour: the One whom God has appointed to not only judge, but also to spare those who recognise His unique authority as the full discernible radiance of the Father.

      Repentance is not a means of repaying our debt towards God. It is simply the channel of response to God: ‘For it is by grace are ye saved through faith. And that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8)

      Reply
  28. Iain Wight

    Dear Steve
    I am always interested when you tread boldly into areas of controversy! You have been in my house and shared my food, so I feel I know you as a person in some measure, and I have the highest respect and honour for you as a crusading and effective believer in Jesus. Your insights have given significant influences on the direction and values of the church I lead. I fully support Faithworks (we started Rochdale Foodbank last year and it is an amazing opportunity for Kingdom work).
    However, on this occasion, I must agree with those who take a different view to you on this issue. You sought to broaden the argument for inclusivity of gay marriages using women in leadership and slavery. This misses the point – women’s roles in the church are not an issue of sin, nor is the employer/employee relationship (slaves). However all sexual immorality is! You would not bless a heterosexual couple who had a one night stand as being married, would you? Would you bless someone who committed incest or rape or what used to be called, buggary? You try to distract us by quoting the ‘tricky’ scriptures about women – shame, Steve!! Quote the scriptures concerning homosexual behaviour and justify them, if you must use scripture at all!!
    However, I do think your debate is valid on a much wider issue – which is about inclusion generally. Where Jesus ‘dined with sinners’, the church has earned a reputation for judging sinners, and excluding people who are ‘ not in the club’. Most Christians are afraid of GRACE, because it looks as if, by showing kindness and acceptance of people, whose lifestyle is contrary to Christian values, they are condoning sin. So they turn away. I believe there is a need for the church to rediscover GRACE, which is where I believe your true heart is on this issue,and give guidance on ‘acceptance without condoning’ – grace is such a hard journey to travel, because it offends our desire for justice and righteousness, even though we are all ‘sinners saved only by grace through faith’.
    So, I urge you, Steve, not to get caught up in a battle over gay marriages in the church, but step back, and consider the churches response to all those who prefer another lifestyle, but are seekers and followers of Jesus. I am not as eloquent as many of your correspondents, but I hope you understand my thoughts. God bless you.

    Reply
    1. Matthew

      Hi Iian, good post, and a perfectly eloquent one. I note it is addressed to Steve Chalke, who, unlike me you have known personally to some extent, but as it is a public debate please excuse me butting in with a repsonse. I agree with your views, but I think the problem is how much people can “prefer another lifestyle” and still be “seekers and followers of Jesus”. While the welcome to those who are seeking the truth must be inclusive, and the gospel is to go out to all, Jesus emphasised the cost of following him, and being his disciple. That leaves plenty of room for different lifestyles and callings, but it is a narrow road, not a broad one, in terms of obedience and personal morality.Not because we choose to make it that, but because Jesus Christ did. “Those who love me will obey my commands.” We live in a generation that has largely sentimentalised the love of God, and also, sentimentalised what it means to love him. But it is difficult to get that from the bible: it owes far more to the society we happen to be living in.

      Reply
  29. Michael Clifton

    I am writing as a member of David & Jonathan, a French association for Christian homosexuals. We very much appreciated your video and want to know if it would be possible to produce a version sub-titled in French that we could show in public meetings.

    Reply
  30. Nick Whitley

    Steve,
    Thank you for publishing your thoughts – and for the care you have taken to explain how you have arrived at your understanding. I have long shared your perspective, but have not been able to substantiate it in the clear way you have done. Yesterday I heard about the reaction of someone in their second Alpha session, having been inspired and enthused at the first session, who was disenchanted because she felt she was being asked – nay required – to take a negative, judgmental approach to everybody who had a different view. That is not my understanding of Jesus, but it is how the Church is too often seen.

    Reply
    1. David Shepherd

      ‘ I have long shared your perspective, but have not been able to substantiate it in the clear way you have done.’

      Guess what, Steve Chalke has simply dismissed Bible verses out of hand and associated those who oppose him with slavery and male chauvinism in order to sound appealing to those who want to be spared from giving up their darling sins. It’s SPIN, SPIN, SPIN! As if the scripture’s only job is to psychologically affirm our predispositions.

      Read the carefully explained arguments here against his view. They demonstrate that his case is far from proven!

      Reply
      1. Sally mann

        Goodness. What a lot of hot air and angry men. It’s my first visit…rather put off returning!
        Come back women’s voices! Come back honest testimonies! Maybe they’ve all been frightened away by so much testosterone-hyped posturing. I can’t get over the post about someone Deciding who serves THEIR God? You were being ironic right?!

        Can I suggest those wanting a row meet in a pub car-park. It’s getting tiring scrolling through the exegetical hoo ha to get to the best bits, where those who really know something share their life stories and faith journeys and can teach us what it means to be gay and a follower of Jesus, and how the rest of us, angry, idolatrous, proud, greedy followers of Jesus can learn how to journey with them.

      2. David Shepherd

        Okay, let’s give the liberal voice a try. Deep breath and action:
        ‘And, of course, in the spirit of warm and fluffy cordiality, I can’t help but agree with all liberal contributors to this great exchange of insight. What a wonderful epiphany this is (gasp) For, are we not all saying the same thing? (cringing with shame now) Yet, it is our fallen humanity in diversity prevents us from recognising that all views form yet another great paradox. (Double-speak is killing me) One as great as the unity of all religions leading to one and the same…..’ CUT!!!

        Nope, I just can’t play up to this liberal nonsense anymore. What can I say? I TRIED!!

      3. Fiona Wilson

        Am so glad that you are both slapping yourselves on the back for your ready wit and feeling smug that you have somehow “won” an argument. To be honest you make me feel sick-these are real people with real lives and neither of you appear to have the slightest bit of compassion or empathy.

    2. Iain Strachan

      I agree. They’re trolls, nothing more. I had thought it was possible to have an intelligent conversation with David S and David without the S. But this kind of puerile gesturing deserves nothing but contempt. The standard has fallen even below what it was when I left in disgust.

      Reply
      1. Fiona Wilson

        1 Corinthians 13
        New International Version (NIV)
        13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

        4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

        8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

        13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

  31. matthew

    Dear Steve Chalke, I would like to take this opportunity to hope and pray that you consider these words, from someone I believe is a friend of yours, Malcolm Duncan, very seriously. “My greatest fear is that Steve is speaking into a culture with which he has become so enmeshed that he is unable to see the distinction between our society’s definition of truth, goodness and inclusion and that of scripture.”

    Reply
      1. David

        I think that the debate has become far too personal. Please grow up and offer something more than sticks and stones, please 🙂

      2. Mygoatybeard

        Yet he absolutely does. All of us: trolls, bigots, gays, heteros, priests, atheists, MPs (for), MPs (against), celibates, mere readers, commenters, Steve Chalke, Pete Ould, Iain Strachan, David Shepherd. Absolutely all of us.

        You’re right. Amazing.

  32. Bennett Jones

    Steve,
    Thank you for taking on this important and enormously challenging topic. It has been a great help to me. I am a conservative/evangelical Episcopal cleric in the U.S. – who is still a priest and intends to stay a priest in The Episcopal Church. How to be concise here….? I think the heart of your paper “Matter of Integrity” is where you point out the inconsistent approach to hermeneutics the Church has regarding important socio/cultural issues of the last two hundred year: women and slavery. To that I would add divorce. For me, if there is to be a way forward toward full inclusion and even one day a complete overturning of the notion intrinsic sinfulness of homosexuality, it is in the arena of hermeneutics. I disagree with your interpretation of Romans 1. There is no credible argument to be made in trying to narrowly focus what Paul is coming down on as cultic prostitution or Roman promiscuity. Paul clearly has Genesis in mind and his argument is that all of humanity is out of wack and the evidence is plainly visible when we see human beings using their bodies in ways they were not designed to be used. Trying to suggest something else about Romans 1 ends up being a nothing but a display of biblical acrobatics.

    However, does accepting the “plain sense” of Romans 1 then shut down the conversation? I don’t see why it should. If we accept the plain sense of Romans 1 does it mean that the best hermeneutic we can come up with is that life long homosexual monogamy is, “Not God’s best but as good as it gets?” I don’t see why that has to be the case either. Why? Because, maybe, like with women, slavery and divorce, there are broader Biblical principles at stake and those can illumine the way forward.

    My congregation is fast approaching the day when the pressure to bless a homosexual union will come, not from the Denomination or our Diocese but from within and from the people we have known and loved for decades.

    Reply
  33. Paul

    My question is not one of biblical interpretation but of design. God created man and woman and designed each for sex. For the sex act, the female receptacle is well designed for the purpose (nerve endings, sensory perception etc) and stimulation causes a ‘satisfactory outcome’. The homosexual act has no such receptacle and the area used as a ‘receiver’ is not remotely designed for sex. If God accepts same sex marriages does he expect there to be no sexual intercourse in such unions? If he does expect same sex marriage to involve homosexual intercourse, did he make a design mistake ?

    Reply

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