Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bock on homosexuality

Over on his blog, Darrell Bock got into a sparring match with a commenter over homosexuality. I'll reproduce his comments:


Submitted by Darrell L. Bock on Tue, 2010-08-17 21:23.
Ok, Lynn, explain this in the Bible--Gen 2 and its definition of marriage as involving a man and a woman, a text Jesus cited (and he was capable of challenging the status quo). Please note I am not talking about the government or civil rights. Just what Jesus taught. To say Jesus accepts same-sex marriage is to say something for which there is no biblical evidence (generic claims about love do not apply) and to ignore how he defined marriage and how he said God defined marriage as well in responding to the issue of the exception in Moses. You are right to raise the issue of consistency in how we let moral violations in heterosexual contexts slide, but as we discussed long ago and long and hard, to use one poorly handled moral area to open the door for another is not moral progress.

On to whomever: I suppose one day people will use the argument that people are born aggressive and thus are murderers by nature, people God cannot help to do better.

Submitted by Darrell L. Bock on Wed, 2010-08-18 21:30.
Please do not misrepresent what I said. Bad place to start. Neither did you answer the question. You tried to skate around it, taking logical missteps along the way.

1) Genesis, which he cites, only mentions a man and a woman in marriage.

(2) Problems in what can be done does not equal allowing what cannot be done (logical fallacy there), so raising 1 Cor 7 does not work. hat is a rabbit trail from my question.

3) Even worse in your reading is that Paul makes clear in 1 Cor 7 that choosing to marry is not sin right there in the context, so this is not a command in any kind of absolute sense as you try to characterize it (even though it is not relevant anyway).

(4) So you misrepresent 1 Cor 7 to try and get out of what Genesis 2 says. Genesis 2 is not a commandment when Jesus cites it but a definition of what marriage is and a description of what happened when God brought Adam and Eve together to start the helpmeet relationship that made for a marriage, a male-female design that Jesus affirms. No where does he say one must do it. In fact Jesus also notes the value of staying single. but what Jesus does say is that this is what constitutes a marriage according to God.

(5) So what Jesus says simply states what a marriage was intended to be and nowhere does he say two partners of any sex, but specifies a man and a woman.

(6) This was no "ideal". (genre mistake) It was a declaration of what marriage is and that it was intended to be permanent. Thus, Jesus' no divorce reply (at least with only adultery as an exception- but all of this detail on divorce is not relevant to my question either). So you calling it and making it ideal is a second logical equation that is not what is taking place in the passage. Each of these moves (commandment, ideal) obscures the point by trying to move away from it and ceases to see the point of why Jesus cited Genesis 2, which was to define marriage as a base for what he goes on to say.

(7) So to say Jesus approved of same sex marriage not only says too much. It says something Jesus denied by the very passage he used to define and discuss marriage.

(8) Not only is nowhere a same sex marriage in the Bible endorsed, but every time a sexual relationship between the same sex comes up, it is condemned. Jesus even referred to Sodom and Gomorrah as evidence of evil. Running to love to cover a multitude of condemnations is yet another run around the text.

For these reasons, you lack of understanding about my position on morality affirmed in the last paragraph of your response does not respond to facts about the text, but efforts to get around what it says. According to Genesis 2 and Jesus' own words we can cite, gender has everything to do with marriage and the morality of it so defined (Judge Walker's view notwithstanding).

I am not going to go around in circles with you again on this topic of same sex relationships. We did that dance already. I will leave it here.

Submitted by Darrell L. Bock on Thu, 2010-08-19 16:45.

You claim another scenario for marriage but cite no text for it. That speaks volumes. You attempt to redefine passages that address the kind of relationship present in same sex marriage. That speaks loads. I let the nature of your answers speak for themselves.

Scripture has two exceptions that permit divorce. Sexual infidelity (Matt 5) and unbeliever desertion (1 Cor 7). I am not missing what the text says there, but the point is irrelevant to the key point being made.

These passages do not stand by themselves. There are several texts on this theme. Not a one is positive. Not a one says (all bad except for this one case where love is present). Nothing. Nada. That speaks tons as well. Not one positive example. Not one.

I am sorry Lynn but as sincerely as you believe this, it is at the expense of the emphasis on this topic in the Word. People who engage in this practice sin (as do others in other areas-- on this we are all agreed). It is sad that it cannot be identified as the sin the Scripture calls it to be. There are different kinds of disobedience-- denial is one kind. That has consequences God will one day sort out for all of us. But Paul warns at the end of Romans 1 that encouraging people to do this is even worse. That is part of what makes your responses so tragic.

What the nation ends up doing probably will have little to do with God's word because we no longer care about that consideration as a society. That is what I most lament. The law permits lots of things that are not moral. It is a low common denominator in part because we love freedom of choice (read no accountability to God) so much. I do not expect good moral judgment (or much of a moral reflection from many in the world who do not care about God) on topics like this. We love our autonomy from God too much. That also is sin.

The only truth you defend is the one you see about this topic while ignoring several counter signs in the text.

Despite all I have said about how I read your view, I also wish you all the best.

Submitted by Darrell L. Bock on Fri, 2010-08-20 17:18.
Still have not answered the core question about same sex relationships in Scripture, running instead to discernment of spirits. You ignore the Hebrews 13 text to continue to discuss many wives. All irrelevant to the direct topic because that is the best you can do. There is no evidence for your category. It is what you have discerned because it is what you want to believe. God speaks but we discern in a direction that has no clear single text. Simply dangerous.

Submitted by Darrell L. Bock on Mon, 2010-08-23 05:40.
When we are not dealing with a text only, but a theme consistently handled negatively with no hint otherwise. The only discernment one needs is to recognize the theme for what it is: teaching. In this scenario, there are no underlying principles to seek out. The text has them in its consistency. That is part of what this topic different than others you raise to try and move around what is explicitly present in the text again and again. Everything you say about principles or dealing with texts where there are a variety of angles being presented (as with polygamy or divorce) and that do ask us to think through qualifications that apply to those topics do not apply in this case. This key difference in how the texts are handled render the examples of these other categories irrelevant to the particulars of this discussion.

The issue is "not to blindly follow Paul's instruction" but to hear the heartbeat of God in a consistently set forth rebuke of a specific sin so serious it is the example of a deep fall of a culture. Your "personally" section states your credal priorities. Sadly, it ignores all of the above. God's creation of male and female and their interaction within marriage are obliterated by what you argue for as acceptable to God. His definition of marriage, affirmed by Jesus, as involving male and female is ignored, set aside as an irrelevancy. If people find affirming that repulsive, then so be it. No one said that calling sin a sin would be popular, not even Jesus had that success in his life. But he screams through his shed blood that forgiveness and transformation (please note this last category) are possible for those who seek him. It is not where we start as people that matters (because we all start in the pit); it is where we turn to get out. That is what makes forgiveness and enablement that comes through him and the work of the cross so beautiful.

Submitted by Darrell L. Bock on Tue, 2010-08-24 05:13.
Our differences are well summarized in your last post. Thank you for that. Just one point. We are not talking about relationships in general here where all the points you make about how people should treat one another apply and where gender does not matter. We are discussing marriage, where gender is a central part of the issue as Genesis 2 presents it. The gospel is not gender-related, but marriage is. The failure to note this biblical distinction in categories is precisely where I think your confusion lies. All the best, Lynn.



  1. Since polygamy often comes up in this context, and Bock mentioned it in passing, here's a Triablogue thread on the subject from a few years ago. I interacted with some defenders of polygamy in the comments section of the thread.

  2. I think Dr. Bock needs to take lessons from the Triablogue team on how to be more irenic and gentle with those who disagree with him.

    I found him too contentious and insulting in his remarks to the pro-gay commenter.

    One can disagree and still do so in a gentle, affirming way.

  3. I will be a little controversial here, in that I don't believe the Christian Church has a mandate to oppose same sex union / marriage on a state / societal level.

    While indeed I do believe that marriage is ordained by God to be between man and women, this is a issue of faith for us as believers within the fellowship of community.

    Paul taught the church to be married to one person...while society was allowing multiple marriages..he never spoke against society.

    Also historically the church has never been involved in marrying people...nor was the Mosiac priesthood involved in marrying people.

    The RC church ratified that it must be performed by a priest in 1550...with a tax alongside with it ooops I mean donation..

    Martin Luther said it was a worldy / private / state thing and the church should not be involved in the marrying business.

    In England in 1753 the marriage act was re written for a priest to be involved...again though the RC church was behind it...another tax...

    Our mandate as Christians is to preach the gospel of Jesus to society in grace and love to allow the Spirit of God to bring change into society...

    It's also the role of the church to be teaching believers how then we are to live as believers within society.

    I blogged about this http://craigbenno1.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/struggling-with-the-concepts-of-banning-gay-marriage/

  4. Craig,

    One of the problems as I see it is that Americans see marriage is seen as a fundamental human right (cf. Loving v. Virginia) that the gov't is supposed to protect.

    So the question must of how we define marriage must arise right?

    In that case, how can the Christian support any definition of marriage which is not the true definition? Surely Christians cannot support a perverted pseudo-definition of marriage. Am I mistaken?

    Thus, I don't see how any Christian can support gay marriage. Any other definition of marriage that does not align with God's definition is not a legitimate definition. It seems to me that whenever the Christian has the ability to oppose a pseudo-definition of marriage (whether through personally speaking out against it or by voting against) he should do so.


    "I will be a little controversial here, in that I don't believe the Christian Church has a mandate to oppose same sex union / marriage on a state / societal level."

    i) The church has a mandate to speak out against personal and social immorality alike.

    ii) You also use the "church" in the abstract. But members of the church, such as American citizens, also have the rights andduties of citizenship. They are voters and tax-payers. So of course they should have a say in public policy. One way or the other, there will be a public policy which applies to believers and unbelievers alike.

  6. Steve.
    To a certain level yes the church is mandated to speak out to society about social justice.

    Its how and what it speaks out that I have issues with..such much money is spent against homosexuality...when the homeless are ignored.

    And yes all individuals as tax payers are called to speak about where societal decisions....what concerns me is the lack of TRUE holiness within the church regarding an outward observance to GODs laws, whilst ignoring Gods heart for the down cast within society.

    Where is the church in America speaking out for the poor, the homeless, the sick, those imprisoned, the widows and orphans and speaking out for the care of asylum seekers?

    What I see is the church in America tearing apart other churches who do pursue Gods heart for the downcast... taking the moral high ground in doing so...

    Perhaps if the church ( Christians) lived out Paul's injunction to live such good lives instead of demanding society to change whilst not plucking the log out of their own eyes.....

    Regarding marriage within homosexuality... cohabitation is what measures marriage within society and in God's eyes... and while some are Godly and some not... its still marriage

  7. Its how and what it speaks out that I have issues with..such much money is spent against homosexuality...when the homeless are ignored.

    Perhaps you're not looking closely enough at the right things. The church I go to does a lot for the homeless and financially needy. We have a food bank and many times a week help out families etc. We have other projects that we help with in the community too.

    My mom's church is the same. They regularly help those in the community. A month ago they volunteered several people to help paint rooms and do other work at Salvation Army. They sent tons of food to persons in Haiti when the earth quake struck, etc.

    I don't think my church and my mom's church is unique. I think you will find these sorts of activities normal among most evangelical churches.

    Homosexuality gets a lot of different attention because it is a different type of issue.

    There is no massive effort by some organization to hurt poor people or screw the homeless. There is, however, a massive effort made by various organizations to legitimize homosexuality.

    Homosexuality is unique in that regard (with the exception being abortion I suppose?), so naturally it calls for a unique response.

    If there were a massive effort among a group of people to, say, legitimize rape, Christians would respond in a similar manner I'm sure.

    So I think the differences in how we are handling homosexuality and how we are handling the homeless is simply due to the different nature of the problems and how they are manifesting themselves in culture at the moment.

    Perhaps "the Church" focuses on the homeless problem at the local level, because it feels it will be most effective there. And it focuses on the homosexual problem at the national level because that's where the homosexuals have taken the fight.

    Regarding marriage within homosexuality... cohabitation is what measures marriage within society and in God's eyes... and while some are Godly and some not... its still marriage

    I don't know what this means. What do you mean "measures marriage"? All homosexual "marriages" are ungodly. Homosexual unions can't even properly acquire the label "marriage."

    As Budziszewski put it, "we might decide to call same-sex liaisons '
    'marriages,' but we would not thereby succeed in turning these liaisons into marriages because they too are different kinds of realities."

    ("The Illusion of Gay Marriage." Philosophia Christi 7.1 (2005): 45)