Sunday, July 23, 2006

Homosexuality And "Delusions Of Grandeur"

In another thread, an anonymous writer comments:

"Last I checked, YOU don’t speak for all Christians. But I’m not surprised at your delusions of grandeur. Perhaps Bishop Robinson and Bishop Spong speak for ALL Christians on this matter?"

There are too many bad arguments and misleading claims in his post to respond to all of them, and he doesn't seem to have much interest in the truth. But some of the other readers might benefit from knowing more about the history of the Christian view of homosexuality.

Apparently, support of homosexuality among professing Christians, at least among more than the smallest percentage of the population, is of recent origin:

"it is only in recent times that some writers have argued that the quality of a relationship, be it homosexual or heterosexual, is what determines its moral value" (F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, editors, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church [New York: Oxford University Press, 1997], p. 786)

Condemnations of homosexual behavior are found in a variety of Jewish and Christian sources for thousands of years prior to the modern arguments from professing Christians supporting homosexuality:

"Homosexuality was largely unknown in Judaism, but Christianity inherited unqualified condemnations of male homosexual practices in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13….Postbiblical Judaism stressed the homosexual element in the Sodomites’ attempted rape of Lot’s male guests (Gen. 19:4-5; cf. Judg. 19:22), and Hellenistic Jewish writers denounced homosexuality as frequently as any sin….The Greek word arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, denoting literally (males) 'who lie [sleep] with males,' was almost certainly formed under the influence of the Septuagint text of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Although first attested in Paul, the term also occurs in Hellenistic Jewish texts (Sibyll. Or. 2.73, influenced by Pseudo-Phocylides’s Sentences). The church fathers universally condemned male homosexual behavior….They [the church fathers] clearly regarded it [homosexual behavior] as contrary to the created constitution and function of men and women, and not merely to the dispositions of particular individuals." (David Wright, in Everett Ferguson, editor, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity [New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1999], pp. 542-543)

Aristides, for example, a Christian writing in the early second century, criticizes homosexuality along with adultery and incest (Apology, 9). He refers to "lying with males", so it doesn’t seem that he was only criticizing sex outside of marriage. If he meant to criticize fornication without criticizing homosexuality, why specify that the sex is occurring with males? If the issue is the timing of the sex (before marriage), why refer to the gender of the sexual partner? The most natural way to read Aristides is to read him as criticizing homosexuality. Athenagoras, writing later in the second century, makes similar comments (A Plea for the Christians, 34). Many other patristic passages could be cited. Tertullian sums it up well with the comment:

"The Christian confines himself to the female sex." (Apology, 46)

And:

"I should suppose the coupling of two males to be a very shameful thing" (Against the Valentinians, 11)

Were all of these Christians misunderstanding what scripture, Jesus, and the apostles taught? The reason why men like Gene Robinson and John Spong are treated as if they're advocating implausible reinterpretations of scripture and church tradition is because they're advocating implausible reinterpretations of scripture and church tradition.

8 comments:

  1. Here...let me say it more S-L-O-W-L-Y so you can catch it this time.

    Last I checked, neither you or any of the authors you quoted in your tripe, speak for all Christians.

    If you want to play that game, I'll just say that Bishop Spong speaks for all Christians on this topic:

    http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/whitepaper.html

    Now pay attention dimwit. It turns out that Christians and Jews had no problem with SLAVERY for thousands of years.

    Things change dimwit. Just like the ever changing, imaginary, personal gods invented by Christians in their own images.

    Better be ready.

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  2. Anonymous,

    If you knew much about Christianity, you would know that it's a historical religion, in the sense that it claims to have received a historical revelation from God. Thus, if the historical figures who gave us the revelation were opposed to homosexuality, while some men living in more recent times support homosexuality, the two groups aren't speaking with equal credibility.

    The historical nature of Christianity is also relevant to some of your other arguments. Since we have historical evidence for the Christian revelation, such as historical evidence for Jesus' resurrection and Jesus' fulfillment of prophecy, your claim that Christianity's God is "imaginary" doesn't have much significance if you can't answer those historical arguments (and the non-historical arguments for Christianity). And if you want to use slavery as an objection to Christianity, then you need to explain to us how you know that Biblical slavery is wrong. For example, if you're an atheist, tell us how you arrive at objective moral standards. And explain to us how Biblical slavery, which isn't the same as the slavery of recent American history, is something that can't be acceptable under any circumstances.

    Judging from your posts here so far, it seems unlikely that you're prepared to sufficiently address these issues. But you are prepared to make more unsubstantiated arguments, call your opponents "dimwits", appeal to people's emotions, etc.

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  3. Anonymous,

    If you knew much about Christianity, you would know that it's a historical religion, in the sense that it claims to have received a historical revelation from God.

    Hey Jason,

    If YOU knew anything about the actual history of the myriad Jewish messianic cults of the first and second centuries, you would know they were a dime a dozen. And there were countless claims and counter claims about the “messiah” and the various things he “revealed” to all these cult leaders. From the gnostics, to the essenes, to the Marcionites.

    Sorry, there was no single agreed upon “historical revelation”, till a 4th century, murderous Roman emperor, and his mom, decided they wanted to franchise one version of Christianity for the Roman empire. So they picked the one they liked and persecuted the rest. And it's been going on ever since. Christians trying to claim they are "orthodox", that THEY or their ancient cult leaders speak for the one true god.

    Thanks for amusing me with your lack of perspective.
    They probably don't teach this stuff in your Sunday School class.

    So please, spare me your wholesale ignorance of your "revealed" religion’s real history and the countless conflicting “revelations” of all it’s god-struck, egomaniacal, cult leaders from Saul of Tarsus to David Koresh of Waco, to Reverend Moon of Korea.


    Thus, if the historical figures who gave us the revelation were opposed to homosexuality, while some men living in more recent times support homosexuality, the two groups aren't speaking with equal credibility.

    Hey…”history and bible buff”…if you knew your bible, you’d also know that Paul was AGAINST men getting married.

    Perhaps that’s why you’re still living at home with your mom?


    The historical nature of Christianity is also relevant to some of your other arguments. Since we have historical evidence for the Christian revelation, such as historical evidence for Jesus' resurrection and Jesus' fulfillment of prophecy, your claim that Christianity's God is "imaginary" doesn't have much significance if you can't answer those historical arguments (and the non-historical arguments for Christianity).

    LOL…

    Your “historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection” is a late first century fairytale written by some anonymous author known as “mark”.

    Wow! That’s some serious evidence!

    So overwhelming is your evidence, that countless other Christians felt a need to forge other gospels, epistles and the history of Josephus.

    So spare me your “evidence”.

    The Christian church was at one time in favor of political tyranny and monarchy, slavery, burning heretics, stoning adulterers, anti-semitism, and for treating woman and non Christians as second class citizens.

    Sh!t happens…better be ready.

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  4. Anonymous said:

    "If YOU knew anything about the actual history of the myriad Jewish messianic cults of the first and second centuries, you would know they were a dime a dozen. And there were countless claims and counter claims about the 'messiah' and the various things he 'revealed' to all these cult leaders. From the gnostics, to the essenes, to the Marcionites."

    You've named three groups, and three groups don't qualify as "myriad" and "a dime a dozen". The Gnostics and Marcionites were professing Christians, and their historical claims can be falsified. The existence of such groups doesn't refute Christianity. If the existence of contrary worldviews refuted all worldviews, then your worldview would be refuted by the existence of other worldviews that contradict it. Mentioning that groups like the Gnostics and Essenes existed doesn't give us any reason to reject Christianity.

    You wrote:

    "Sorry, there was no single agreed upon 'historical revelation', till a 4th century, murderous Roman emperor, and his mom, decided they wanted to franchise one version of Christianity for the Roman empire."

    People continued to disagree about Christian doctrine after the time of Constantine. Similarly, atheists disagree with each other, Buddhists disagree with each other, etc. The fact that professing Christians have disagreed with each other doesn't change the fact that we have evidence for the teachings of Jesus and the apostles that we don't have for the teachings of Gene Robinson and John Spong. The evidence suggests that Jesus and the apostles considered homosexuality a sin, so arguing that Christians disagreed about other issues until the time of Constantine is irrelevant.

    You wrote:

    "Hey…'history and bible buff'…if you knew your bible, you’d also know that Paul was AGAINST men getting married."

    He said that not being married has some advantages, but that getting married is acceptable. I don't reject what Paul taught on the subject, whereas men like Gene Robinson and John Spong do reject what Paul taught about homosexuality.

    You wrote:

    "Your 'historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection' is a late first century fairytale written by some anonymous author known as 'mark'."

    Since Mark's name is in the manuscripts we have, would you explain why we should think that the document is "anonymous"? And if no name had been part of the original document, how likely is it that the document would circulate without anybody discussing who wrote it? In all likelihood, the document circulated with a name attached to it, both in writing and orally, from the start.

    Your reference to a "fairytale" assumes what you need to prove. Mark was writing in a historical genre, and the earliest Christian and non-Christian interpreters read him in a historical manner, so how do you know that he was giving us a "fairytale"?

    And what about the other sources? Were they all mistaken as well?

    You wrote:

    "So overwhelming is your evidence, that countless other Christians felt a need to forge other gospels, epistles and the history of Josephus."

    How does the existence of forgeries prove that there's a "need" for forgeries on the part of people who weren't producing them? Does the fact that some Americans forge documents that they attribute to America's founders prove that all Americans need forgeries in order to maintain their view of American history? And who forged "the history of Josephus"? One passage has some interpolations, but Josephus' work consists of more than that one passage, and those interpolations do nothing to overturn the evidence we have from the remainder of Josephus and from other sources.

    You wrote:

    "The Christian church was at one time in favor of political tyranny and monarchy, slavery, burning heretics, stoning adulterers, anti-semitism, and for treating woman and non Christians as second class citizens."

    How would what happened "at one time" refute Christianity? Some atheists have led governments that carried out the sort of behavior you're criticizing. Should we conclude, then, that atheism is thereby refuted?

    I'm still waiting for you to tell us where you get your objective moral standards.

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  5. non-George Anonymous7/23/2006 11:36 PM

    Jason,

    You are trying to reason with an angry teenager who just realized he has some hair developing in strange places. He's an idiot. Let him go bang his head on some other rock. You should ban him from your combox. His lame excuse for argumentation is boring me. At least let someone with a brain bigger than a walnut try to defend atheism. There are more articulate, mature, and civil atheists available....

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  6. Yep, according to him, we are all dimwits. No use arguing with him. All our arguments are idiotic.

    But that says something about him...that he wastes his time by picking on poor, unintelligent people.

    Sh!t happens?

    Yep. You happened.

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  7. "Homosexuality was largely unknown in Judaism, but Christianity inherited unqualified condemnations of male homosexual practices ..."

    How much of this is simply due to the fact that most people are heterosexual? Personally, fat people turn me off and I can't imagine a "fat fetish", but such things exist, ya know. If I were more closed-minded, I'd say such people are "sick", but hey, whatever floats your boat.

    Interesting there isn't much about female-on-female in the Old Testament, either. Many men are repulsed by male heterosexuality but have no issue with seeing some hot babes roll around in a pile of Jello and making out. I think there's just an "aesthetic" factor at play in much of this.

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  8. James said:

    "Many men are repulsed by male heterosexuality but have no issue with seeing some hot babes roll around in a pile of Jello and making out. I think there's just an 'aesthetic' factor at play in much of this."

    Once again, you tell us what you think without any supporting argumentation or documentation. I doubt that men in ancient Israel were watching "some hot babes roll around in a pile of Jello and making out". I haven't heard of any documentation of such a practice, much less documentation that it occurred on a large scale. And I don't expect you to offer any documentation. If these men were so motivated by "an 'aesthetic' factor", why did they also condemn immodest clothing and fornication, for example? You ignore other explanations for why male sins would be emphasized, you give us no reason to agree with your opinion on the matter, and such a view on the part of ancient Israelite men wouldn't overturn the evidence we have for the Divine inspiration of scripture. A visceral opposition to homosexuality can co-exist with other reasons for opposing homosexuality. If some or all ancient Israelite men had a visceral response to male homosexuality, it doesn't therefore follow that such a response is wrong or the only factor involved in a condemnation of homosexuality.

    ReplyDelete