A friend of mine plugged the NC amendment on his Facebook wall. This triggered some hostile feedback. I’m going to evaluate on some of the comments:
Myke Floyd Yes, but once again you are picking and choosing what you believe out of the Bible as fact and what you do not. Christianity may provide you with a moral framework but if you pick only which passages out of the Bible you choose to support, how can you honestly and validly state that Christian theism's idea of morality is greater or less than those who might disagree with your interpretation of it?
Several issues here.
i) Not every Biblical injunction is a moral absolute. There’s a distinction between laws of utility and laws of morality. Likewise, some OT laws are a means to an end rather than an end in themselves.
ii) Moderate to liberal professing Christians are often guilty of cherry-picking the Bible.
iii) Some conservative Christians are inconsistent because they don’t have the time and expertise to work through the complexities of the issue. But that’s a fairly innocent inconsistency. We have different vocations.
iv) Floyd is using a simplistic all-or-nothing argument, but that’s not the position of the NT. On the one hand, the NT indicates a degree of continuity between OT law and the new covenant (e.g. (Mt 5:17-19; 1 Tim 1:9-10). On the other hand, the NT indicates a degree of discontinuity between OT law and the new covenant (e.g. Acts 15:20,29; Gal 3:23-24; Heb 7:11-19).
Therefore, Christians are not ipso facto inconsistent when they draw some distinctions. To the contrary, Christians would be inconsistent with Scripture if they ignored the witness of the NT. Christians can’t be faulted for inconsistency if they consistently follow the NT.
v) Christians don’t have to have a general position on the degree of continuity between OT law and the new covenant to have a principled position on homosexuality, for that’s a case in which the NT specifically reaffirms OT ethics (e.g. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10). Whatever else does or doesn’t carry over, that much carries over.
vi) In addition to OT law, you also have OT narrative. On the issue of divorce, Jesus grounds his position on the creation account (Mt 19:4-6). That’s normative for the nature of marriage, which precludes homosexuality.
Exodus 21:7 sanctions selling of one's daughter into slavery. Do you find that permissible??
i) This is a good example of a knee-jerk reaction to Scripture. The unbeliever makes no effort to understand why that provision exists, or the particulars.
Compare this to, say, a secular anthropologist who studies a South American Indian tribe. The anthropologist doesn’t assume this judgmental attitude. Rather, he (or she) tries to understand tribal customs in the context of survival in the Amazon basin. To what extent are tribal customs an adaptation to life in the jungle?
Likewise, even if you deny the inspiration of Scripture, it’s unintelligent to attack OT laws without bothering to understand the socioeconomic conditions to which these laws are responsive. .
ii) Under the circumstances, I do think Exod 21:7 is permissible. And that would be permissible in comparable circumstances. It’s a type of arranged marriage.
iii) The practical issue which this provision deals with is how to cope if a family has too many mouths to feed. One solution is to expose the weak, the sick, the elderly, or female children.
But in Bible ethics, that’s unacceptable.
iv) As one scholar explains:
The practice of selling minors is well attested in the ancient Near East. Parents who were in debt, or unable to support their families, sold children in the markets.
In this section of Exodus we learn that Hebrew parents could sell their daughters into conditional slavery…In the Old Testament, this girl is not a slave-girl in the usual sense that we understand the term. She is better protected, and is not to be treated as other slaves As we shall we see in the following verses, the law presupposes that she will marry either her master or his son. Therefore, she has the status of a married woman and she is to be treated kindly and with utmost respect. J. Currid, Exodus: Chapters 19-40 (EP 2001), 67-68.
v) Is that an ideal solution? No. But then, no ideal solution was available in that situation. It’s because the underlying situation was less than ideal that the solution was less than ideal. Rather, it’s realistic. And it’s far better than starvation.
The Bible isn’t a fairy tale, like Cinderella, where the prince will marries the peasant girl, and they live happily ever after in a marble palace by the sea.
vi) This is analogous to medieval apprenticeship. In the past, poorer families would often apprentice their sons. That provided him with room and board, and taught him a marketable skill.
Was that ideal? No. Young sons suffered emotional separation from their families. Living and working conditions were often harsh. They were under the authority of someone who might not have natural affection for them.
But it was an economic necessity. Better than starvation.
vii) I’ll finish with a personal anecdote. I had a great-grandmother who migrated to America during the Irish potato famine. She came over as an indentured servant.
Is that ideal? No. But life was tough back then. Still is in many parts of the Third World.
Exodus 35:2 clearly defines working on the Sabbath as punishable by death. Lots of stores are open on Sundays. Should we get out the stones??
i) We use to have blue laws in this country. Life was less hectic when stores closed on Sunday. That gave everyone a day off.
ii) One question is whether the death penalty for Sabbath-breakers reflects the heightened holiness of the ceremonial law. If so, then the death penalty doesn’t carry over into the new covenant even if Sabbath-keeping remains obligatory.
iii) Based on Rom 14:5, Gal 4:10, & Col 2:16, many Bible scholars think Sabbath-keeping is no longer obligatory. Of course, that’s disputed, but you can’t fault Christians for inconsistency if they think the NT relegates that to the defunct ceremonial law.
Leviticus 11:7 points out that that touching the skin of a dead pig is also not allowed. Should I shoot my mom which she cooks a pork roast?? Wouldn't that be allowed under your narrow canon of moral fiber??
That’s an example of ritual purity. And it’s arguable that that’s unique to Israel’s cultic holiness.
To draw that distinction is not an ad hoc distinction. For the NT itself draws that general distinction. Christians are simply taking their cue from the NT.
Leviticus 18:22 is often pointed out as the section of the Bible that Christians use to justify the belief that homosexuality is against God's law. But if you adhere to such a standard, why do you not adhere to all of the rest? I could point out other verses but I doubt you would agree that are apropo in today's society.
Paul reaffirms Lev 18:22. His wording in 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10 paraphrases that every passage. So Christians have specific NT warrant for invoking that passage.
We don’t have specific warrant for adhering to “all the rest.” Rather, the NT indicates degrees of continuity and discontinuity, with examples of each.
Myke Floyd Gabe, your presume I do not have that background. Besides, my objections to the pick & choose frame of mind regarding passages from the Bible needs no defense. & if you are have to pull authors as references to back up what you believe, then it's clear that you're working with modern interpretation to selectively believe which chapter & verses you believe in adhering to and those that you do not. Either you believe it is all verbatim or you believe it's open for interpretation. There's no passage that I'm aware of that states "here's the Bible, I've given you the word of God. Pick which parts back up what you believe and throw out the parts you don't.".
That betrays multiple confusions:
i) There’s a difference between modern interpreters and modern interpretations. The aim of modern interpreters (unless they have a liberal agenda) is to ascertain what the text would mean to the ancient author and his ancient audience.
Floyd’s objection makes no more sense than suggesting that modern interpreters of Dante or Aristotle modernize the text.
ii) In fact, the objection is contradictory. Floyd is the one in danger of modernizing the text by failing to consider the text in its original setting. As a result, he’s using his modern framework as the interpretive grid.
iii) Then there’s his false dichotomy between believing it is all verbatim or believing it’s open to interpretation. What a muddleheaded objection. For instance, one can read a verbatim transcript of a speech by Churchill, yet the speech may still be open to interpretation. For instance, a wartime speech by Churchill takes for granted a lot of topical background information which was common knowledge to contemporary listeners, but not necessarily to someone in the 21C
iv) Likewise, you can believe it’s verbatim, but still consider the best interpretation.
v) Moreover, it’s not as if conservative interpretations are self-serving. Conservatives condemn homosexuality, but they also condemn heterosexual fornication and adultery. So they’re not exempting themselves from temptations to which they themselves are prone.
Conversely, you can have candid liberals like Luke Timothy Johnson who admit the Bible condemns homosexuality, but reject the authority of Scripture.
Myke Floyd Gabe ... you not only proved my point but you contradicted your own assertions. On the one hand you state that the Bible uses different "metaphors" to answer the question of what it means to be a Christian. Yet ... on the other hand, you assert it is the absolute word of God and should be believed in it's entirety. A book full of metaphors open to interpretation (by authors such as those you were referring to) is by definition not meant to be taken literally.
i) Further confusion. The Bible should be taken figuratively when it’s speaking figuratively, and literally when it’s speaking literally. To believe it all doesn’t mean believing it’s all literal or all figurative.
And that’s hardly unique to the Bible. Nonfiction literature frequently uses metaphors.
Once again, Floyd simplistically turns this into an all-or-nothing argument.
ii) Likewise, there can be divinely-inspired metaphors.
I once again assert that though everyone has a right to his or her opinion, his or her opinion by definition is not fact. And unless you believe verbatim every passage and verse of the Bible without needing anyone to define what they mean for you, then you acquiesce to the fact that it's not literal ... which negates your belief that you're for or against anything based strictly on the words contained within that hallowed book. I've never claimed to be a theologian, but you do not have to possess a degree in theology to plainly read what is written therein.
Once again, this is nonsensical. For instance, Thomas Aquinas is a pretty literal writer. Yet many commentaries have been written on the Summa Theologica, defining key terms and concepts.
There’s a difference between believing in the divine authority of Scripture, and supposing that interpretation is confined to the words of Scripture. The Bible wasn’t written in an artificial language like Esperanto, unique to the pages of Scripture.
Natural languages are the product of a linguistic community. Meaning derives from the usage of the linguistic community. Likewise, understanding the Bible presupposing a certain amount of background knowledge about the world it talks about.
Myke Floyd Just as a follow up to your assertion in the original post that "The marriage amendment is not about bigotry or hatred. It is a question of where authority in ethics resides."
This is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-relgious nation founded on tolerance and the belief that you could believe differently.
Actually, the nation was founded by Puritans, who weren’t notably tolerant. Does he think the Colonial New England theocracies were tolerant? Perhaps he means the founding of the Republic.
At it's very foundation, your argument presumes that one specific religion ... that you personally adhere to as do many others ... but not everyone ... should be able to become law regardless of what the others believe.
According to the Northwest Ordinance:
Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
Religious theocracies have never worked, Christian based or otherwise. Your argument predisposes they do & would lead this nation down a horribly slippery slope. Secularism doesn't dismiss anyone's ability to adhere to their own personal religious beliefs. It simply means you can't force them on everyone else.
i) Even in ancient Israel, resident aliens weren’t required to practice Judaism. Indeed, they were forbidden to participate in the religious life of Israel unless they voluntarily converted to the true faith.
ii) Secularism has its own slippery slope.
Chris Hill Myke, if a group of folks lobbied and were able to propose that government approve spousal abuse, would you approve? I think not. What if the group claimed that their own "religion" ok'd such abuse? Does the government have the "authority" to rule in a manner that protects spouses BUT impedes the groups ability to exercise what they believe is their "right"? How does the government decide?
We have popular sovereignty.
Myke Floyd Bob ... I have no problem with Gabe's statements. What he believes in the core of his soul is just fine by me. He, nor anyone else, should expect everyone else to emulate such cores of belief. Again, that's why we were founded on many levels of tolerance including religious freedom ... & not just for Christians. We do not legislate religious beliefs. But we do legislate equality. Or else there would still be slaves and women would not be able to vote.
We also legislate inequality. We treat bank robbers differently than bank customers. The law distinguishes between withdrawing money you’ve deposited in your account and pointing a gun at the teller.
Myke Floyd Chris, that is a ridiculous comparison at best. & we all no religious freedom is valid ... & guaranteed but not at the expense and safety of others. Secular law overrides religious law ... or like I pointed out ... one could sell one's daughter into slavery ... IF you REALLY believe EVERY passage from the Bible VERBATIM. Which I guarantee each and every person posting here and in every pew on Sunday does not.
The relevant distinction is not between religious and secular, but between true and false, right and wrong. As long as something is true, even if it comes from a religious source, it would be bigoted to exclude it simply because a religious truth is religious. That’s the classic genetic fallacy.
Myke Floyd Whether or not I am saved is between me, my soul, and God. And again ... you're only picking and choosing which passages to throw out as fact. That sounds much nicer and easier to defend but it's part of the same book. & if you knew or know the history of how the Bible was put together ... it was put together, chapter & verse, by men. Men who decided what testaments went in & what didn't. Personally, I'd love to take a theologian and an interpreter into the Vatican archives & see what DIDN'T make it in.
Da Vinci Code conspiracy theories.
Marcus Watson It's sad to see people hide behind Christianity to shower their judgement and hate.
Marcus Watson All your theories and premises are basically hiding hatred and intolerance. I won't debate this. I have seen you do it before, but I will no longer sit around and not call you out on it.
Marcus Watson Like I said. I don't need to argue anything with you. If you can't see why denying other people the same rights you have is hateful and intolerant then I truly feel sorry for you.
Marcus Watson There are so many contradictions in that diatribe I don't know where to begin. The biggest one is that you say you wish that homosexual have the best life possible and them deny them civil rights, not religious rights....civil rights. I don't owe anyone an apology and I won't apologize for standing up for the rights of people that are not engaging in immoral activities that you compare to lying, stealing and murdering. Do you hear yourself?
Okay, let’s bracket that pernicious religious perspective and consider this from a secular standpoint. On that view, homosexuals, and humans generally, are just animals. Apes. Primates.
To my knowledge, the social structure of the Great Apes isn’t democratic or egalitarian. There’s a pecking order. Alpha males dominate beta males. Males dominate females. The secular alternative to Christian ethics is Planet of the Apes.
Kevin Daniel Dixon As much as all of you would like your personal faith to dictate the laws of our country, it does not and should not. To deny constitutional rights to a group because of their sexual orientation is no different than denying the rights of someone based on skin color, gender, etc. If the Methodist church or Catholic church would like to not recognize the unions, that is completely up to them. Ironically, the ability to not recognize these unions would be granted by the very government liberties you seek to limit.
i) Sodomite marriage is not a Constitutional right. Indeed, sodomy is not a Constitutional right. Just consider all the anti-sodomy statutes on the books at the time the Constitution was ratified:
ii) To say it’s no different that racism or sexism is an argument from analogy minus the argument. Where is Dixon’s supporting argument? All he’s done is to allege a parallel.
Christopher Jewell There is a huge difference between religious right/wrong and legislation. We live in America...of course a marriage amendment is bigoted. Church and state.
But from a secular standpoint, Jewell is just a self-important monkey. If one ape calls another ape “bigoted,” who cares? Why should Jewell’s apish opinion concern me?
Matthew McCarter Jesus died for everyone. Not just Christians. He died for murderers, prostitutes, me and you. I will leave the judgement up to him and in the mean time I will try my best to love thy neighbor and thy enemy. No matter what their sin is. Because whether someone is gay, a thief, adulterer, or even an atheist; we are ALL SINNERS.
Part of neighbor love is to protect your neighbor from sexual predators. Keep in mind that the priestly abuse scandal is fueled by homosexual priests. When we empower homosexuals, we put our children at risk.
Myke Floyd Bob ... I base my morals on what Jesus taught ... love of fellow man & not judging lest I be judged. As Mr. McCarter pointed out, Jesus died for everyone, so why must hard core evangelicals or radical islamists or purists orthodox Jews, etc. etc etc assume that it's ok for them to pass judgement on others based on their own personal morals and beliefs?? We're NOT talking about beating ones wife ... that's just silly ... why can't you believe what you believe, hold it true to your heart & soul, & let everyone else do the same?? Isn't taking judgment into your own hands against the word of God?
Kevin Daniel Dixon After spending time with the bible and reflecting upon my faith, I have decided that God's number one desire for me is to love my fellow man. It was and is his first commandment. As such, I will support proudly granting civil rights to any group of people. I applaud the decision of many of you to seek further education, but I cringe to see the conclusions that you and your peers seem to draw and accept as factual. I hope the ammendment in NC passes in a landslide, and I will pray for all of you.
i) The Bible itself condemns homosexuality,
ii) Love is not synonymous with permissiveness. Indeed, permissiveness is unloving. Homosexuals have a highly destructive lifestyle. You don’t love them by officially sanctioning their lifestyle. It’s hateful to sanction a self-destructive lifestyle. Let’s take some concrete examples:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) have been increasing among gay and bisexual men. Recent increases in syphilis cases have been documented across the country. In 2008, men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 63% of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the United States. MSM often are diagnosed with other bacterial STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.
Gay and bisexual men can be infected with HPV (Human Papillomavirus), the most common STD in the United States. Some types of HPV cause genital and anal warts and some can lead to the development of anal and oral cancer. Men who have sex with men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men. Men who are HIV-positive are even more likely than those who are uninfected to develop anal cancer. See Primary and Secondary Syphilis—Reported Cases, 2008, by Sexual Orientation.
The overall number of new HIV cases – referred to as HIV incidence – has remained relatively stable at approximately 50,000 new cases annually. However, the number of new cases among people aged 13-29 years increased by 21 percent from 2006 to 2009. The rise in HIV incidence among young adults was fueled by a 34 percent increase in HIV infections among young gay and bisexual men. For more information, see HIV Incidence.
Gay and bisexual men are at increased risk for certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including Hepatitis A, B and C, which are contagious liver diseases. Approximately 10 % of new Hepatitis A and 20% of all new Hepatitis B infections in the United States are among men who have sex with men. Many men have not been vaccinated against viral hepatitis, despite the availability of safe and effective vaccine. In addition, CDC has investigated several outbreaks of Hepatitis C among HIV positive gay men. In addition, CDC has investigated several outbreaks of Hepatitis C among HIV positive gay men.
Studies have shown that, when compared with the general population, gay and bisexual men, lesbian, and transgender individuals are more likely to:
• Use alcohol and drugs
• Have higher rates of substance abuse
• Are less likely to abstain from alcohol and drug use
• Are more likely to continue heavy drinking into later life
Substance abuse is associated with a wide-range of mental health and physical problems. It can disrupt relationships, employment, and threaten financial stability.
Alcohol and illegal drug use in some gay and bisexual men also contributes to increased risk for HIV infection and other STDs, especially methamphetamines, amyl nitrates (poppers) and drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction. Individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol may increase their risk for HIV transmission by engaging in risky sexual behaviors or through sharing needles or other injection equipment.
Men who have sex with men are at even greater risk for suicide attempts, especially before the age of 25.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) occurs between two people in a close relationship, including current and former partners. IPV can range from a single episode of violence to ongoing battering. IPV includes four types of behavior: Physical violence, sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, and emotional abuse. Studies have estimated that 11% to 44% of men who have sex with men surveyed experienced IPV in same-sex relationships.