Responding to IrisDawn on the topic of Homosexuality

I recently wrote an article about Jennifer Knapp coming out of the closet and revealing herself to have been engaged in a homosexual relationship with another woman for the better part of a decade. Somewhat surprisingly, I received a comment from a woman who clearly disagreed with the post, and made her feelings known in the comments section. As it were, I want to break that down a bit and make a few notes on the most salient points. Though as a disclaimer, while the post was written by our friend Irisdawm and presented as her own thoughts- It’s not. The thing was copied and pasted from several sources and are not original to her, though I don’t mind terribly, as it’s still not difficult to unpack.

Early on I talked about how homosexual acts were abominable. She countered with the fact that though Leviticus says homosexuality is an abomination, it also says that you shouldn’t plant two different seeds in the same hole, and that it is an abomination to eat a rabbit. Hopefully someone can help me out here, but I’ve never even heard of a scripture that forbids the planting of multiple seeds, and so if someone could find the reference [Irisdawn] I would be more than happy. As for the rabbit- this is part of the cacophony known as Old Testament dietary laws. You can thrown in carrion creatures, bats, mice, ostriches, cats, dogs etc in that list as well, as these were all forbidden to be consumed. In short- while were are not sure why exactly these were forbidden, we know that they were, and that God had a purpose for these. Most were used as a means of keeping the Jews separate from other people and cultures, as a way of maintaining their unique identities. They were a few dietary restrictions implemented at a particular time, for a particular length of time, for a particular people, for a particular purpose, and were repealed in the New Testament revelation as no longer binding. On the flip side you have something like homosexuality. The references to this being wicked spans the entirety of the Bible, has no restrictions,qualifiers or restraints, and is reinforced in the New Testament revelation with even stronger language than in the Old Testament.As it were, it really is a false dichotomy to try to play them off each other.

She later says, speaking about the Levitical references; “When the term abomination is used in the Hebrew bible, it is always used to address a ritual wrong. It is never used to refer to something innately immoral. That’s not true even a little bit. A simple example is found in Leviticus 18, where we are given a long list of perversions and abominations. We are told that the abominations include; having sex with a close relative,  having sex with your mother, having sex with your step mother, having sex with your sister, having sex with your step-sister, having sex with your grandchildren, having sex with your aunt, having sex with your sister in law, having sex with your daughter in law, having sex with a woman and her daughter, having sex with a person of the same sex, having sex with a rival wife, having sex with your neighbours wife, having sex with animals, sacrificing your children to other gods. The scriptures flat out say “For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people.” So that’s one thing. Are we to say that these things are not innately immoral, but rather are simply ritual issues? That these are not really abominations, but were only for that time, and that we can engage in any of those actions because we’re not bound by “Irrelevant Old Testament Ritual Morality” ? Ridiculous.  The second point is quite salient; are we to believe that all those things are wicked and vile and harmful to the soul, but that the one exception was having sex with the same sex. That that one is the exception. That everything else is terrible and immoral and sinful, but that one things squished between all the rest- that one is actually good and beautiful and glorious and pleasing to God and is part of his ideal for humanity?

The next chunk of space is dedicated to trying to explain away Romans 1. I suppose I should say that just because the translators of the NIV chose to use the word perverts as part of their dynamic translation, means very little. Every Literal and Formal translation of the Bible has some variation of “homosexual offenders.” Not only that, but the Greek “arsenokoitai” is still the same in both, so that point is really a non-issue. I find the shenanigans being played with the Greek meaning to be typical, so I won’t object on that point. Irisdawn concludes that the homosexual activity that Paul was talking about was homosexual activity between married men who had a boy on the side with which they had sex with. She also states that “there is in fact another word for homosexuality and homosexual acts, paiderasste. If Paul’s intent was to condemn committed and loving relationships, this would have been a much better choice of words. His audience was not educated, so to use a rare word like arsenokoitai when he could have used the much more commonly known paiderasste just doesn’t add up.”

Ironically enough, she has it quite backwards. It should be noted that yes, Paul indeed coined the arsenokoitai, but that shouldn’t bother us a bit. In fact, we should rejoice over it. Paul coined over 150 terms in the New Testament, and so to say that he invented a word isn’t an argument, especially when we see how he formed it. Paul used the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Greek translation of the Leviticus passages condemns a man [arseno] lying with [koitai] another man [arseno]. Paul joins these two words together into a neologism, a new word, and thus he condemns in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy what was condemned in Leviticus. It’s not remarkable at all when we see it in place. The two verses which condemn homosexual activity are as follows;

meta arsenos ou koimethese koitai gyniakos
(Lev 18:22)

hos an koimethe meta arsenos koitai gynaikos
(Lev 20:13)

When Paul adopted the term arsenokoite, he took it directly from the Levitical passages-in the Greek translation- forbidding homosexual behavior. The meaning, then, could not be clearer: Though the term is unique to Paul, it refers specifically to homosexual behavior. As for the argument about paiderastia being the better and more appropriate word, well, from what I can tell it doesn’t mean homosexual as in two adults in a same-sex relationship. Rather, it carries the meaning of  “lover of boys.” It is a particular word, with a particular meaning– “one who sodomizes boy children”. Look at the etymology. Break it down.  Paidos means child or boy and Erastes/ Erastai means love or lover. From this we get English words pederast and pedophile and pedophilia.

I’m not concerned with his whole “culture argument” that she’s bringing to the table-easily enough understood, but I am intrigued by this statement “You have to admit that there are at least some passages that either a) don’t apply today; b) still apply but don’t mean what they seem to mean on the surface; or c) are overruled by other passages or biblical themes.” Through a proper reading of scripture, employing proper foundational hermeneutics and the historical, grammatical method, this is not especially hard to do. Are there some things which don’t apply to us today? sure- the need for circumcision being one of them. Some passages we can have legitimate disagreements on [such as eschatological meanderings] but there are no passages that are overruled or rendered false by other passages and verses. That’s not how it works. We reconcile the Word to itself, not to our own subjectivity.

The example with Tom and Sam is a bit laughable to me and breaks down easy enough. The problem isn’t with the perception, but with the act itself. If homosexuality is indeed a sin [and absent hermeneutical gymnastics and desperate arguments to the contrary it indeed is sinful] then that make all the difference if such a sexual practice is in play. If you reverse it and plug “fornicating with my sister” instead of the gay angle, saying ” she’s not my sister, but my sister in Christ”, do we say that just because we misunderstood the first part, that the latter of having sex with one’s sister was not wicked? That it was just a matter of perceptions? I hope not.

Lastly, she missed the point of the “know them by their fruits”. Right now the end result of heterosexual marriages is a devastatingly high divorce rate, but do we say that heterosexual marriages are bearing bad fruit? No. I don’t know any Christ-centred gay couple, as I do not believe such a thing exists. Any such union is the result of a terrible turning away from God and a wilful disobedience to the word of God. These people are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. And because God gave people feelings and emotions and intellect, they may love each other, insomuch as they can understand it.  They may enjoy each other’s company and laugh a lot and adopt a child and raise him as best as they can and grow old together and help the community and be roles models and finally die and be eulogized and beloved by thousands. You can look at the life of a gay couple and see genuine care and affection and joy present there,  but they will die absent Christ and they will die in their defiant, unrepentant sins. The same arguments you make for the gay couple having a wonderful relationship in Christ can be made for the polygamous,  or for the couple who have left their spouse and are now shacking up. You can’t. God does not reward idolatry, open rebellion and cosmic treason with blessings.

I don’t know why we’re playing this game where what the Bible says doesn’t matter, and where subjective feelings are the plumbline by which we measure if something is good and holy. Because I don’t base my views on that, but on the revealed word of God. We can mess around with Paul a bit, but let’s not be ignorant here. You can say “Oh, it wasn’t loving homosexuality that Paul was condemning, it was the typical, common, every-day pedophile relationship” but that won’t explain why we read in Romans 1 “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” If it was just your typical Greek gay romps, then why would he include the women? Are we to believe that it was common for older women to be having sex with young girls and taking them as lovers? Try finding that anywhere in ancient literature. As well, are we to believe that Paul was unfamiliar with Leviticus 18 and 20, which are clearly not just ritualized sins? Are we to believe that Paul was not in agreement with Jesus, who said  “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” [Matt. 5] which indicated His agreement with all moral laws of the Mosaic Law including the laws prohibiting homosexuality. Or how about his statements on marriage and divorce in Matthew 5 and 19 which  revealed His agreement with the definition of marriage as a lawful bond between a man and woman for life, and affirming that that was God’s plan for creation?

Not just the bible, but how about the witness of the early church fathers? You have comments and writings from men like Justin Martyr, Clement of Rome, Aristides, Theophilus, Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Novation, Cyprian of Carthage, Eusebius, John Chrysostom, Basil the great, Augustine, Clearly condemning it. Pick your poison- And that’s just in the first 400n years. Look, there really isn’t any question about what the Bible and 1900 years of Historical Judeo-Christian orthodoxy has taught and believed concerning homosexuality. The only question to answer is “Do I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, or do I reject those teaching with which I disagree with?” Do I acquiesce to the authority of the word, written plainly, or do I treat it as toilet paper to be discarded when it makes me uncomfortable?  That’s it. That’s what it comes down to. I’m not some raging homophobic who wants all gays to go to hell. Not at all. I love homosexuals, and my heart goes out to anyone trapped in sexual sin. I want them to come to church, and be washed and sanctified and justified. I want them to be delivered from their bondage to this, trusting and having faith in the Father even through this trial and burden that they must bear- so that God might be glorified and praised.

What I desire to be is faithful to the scriptures, and if that means that I have to take a stand against this and dismantle silly arguments about abominations and neologisms and everything else, then I’m more than game.

8 thoughts on “Responding to IrisDawn on the topic of Homosexuality

  1. Well put Dustin.

    It is good for us to be reminded that the Bible still applies today. The whole of the Word of God still stands and will stand for all of History until the end comes. The problem a lot of people have is they do not understand the purpose of the Bible. So instead of seeing the Truth of the Word and following after it, they see rules and line items. They struggle then with the Word because the details of the rules and line items can be rationalized away as not required today for a variety of reasons.

    So sad that people would rationalized away the word of God, when all that is needed is to embrace that Word. Then seek to have God help you live in the understanding of His Word. The reality is that there is a Creation ordinance at play here. God made them “male and female” He created the animals and people with 2 genders for a reason. God’s intent was for a male and a female to be together, if God had of thought otherwise he would of made an allowance for it right then and there. He did not, this is supported by the various teachings throughout the bible against same sex relationships.

    Part of the problem that a lot of people who embrace a theology that says that God is ok with Homosexual behavior, is that they do not embrace a literal Genesis 1 creation.

    Anyway …. here I go getting preachy …. good article … nice response Dustin .. keep up the good work.

  2. I like it. Almost all of it, and you covered my little Greek lesson. I’m going to look up some more Greek stuff perhaps this weekend, but I’m pretty sure you covered it.

    I do have a concern about the language you used when talking about Gay people not being saved. Well, you didn’t say that exactly, but that’s the feeling I got. I disagree that all gay people will be thrown into Hell, because I do not believer it’s impossible for them to have a relationship with Christ. Yes they have unrepentant sin in their lives, yes they have a barrier in their spiritual lives… but don’t we all? I mean, how often are we begging for forgiveness of the same sin over and over again? Couldn’t it be said that we all live a lifestyle of sin? I just think it’s difficult to play God and judge them. I honestly think we can’t really know what God is going to do with gay people, but I’m not entirely convinced that he will simply condemn them. Just like I don’t think he’s going to condemn adulterers, murderers, child molesters, or abusers. Those things are all really bad, but can it really separate them from the love of Christ? Now, don’t hear me say I think every one is going to heaven; I am not a universalist. But I do think it isn’t impossible for a gay person to have a relationship with Christ.

    I recommend that you read the book “Love is an Orientation” by Andrew Marin. He isn’t out to change your theology, but rather to provoke the church into rethinking how we view the GLBT community.

  3. Liz … I agree that not all homosexuals will go to hell. I do not feel that is the real issue that Dustin is covering here. Rather the issue is the recognition that homosexual behavior and lifestyle is sinful. Just like a heterosexual who sleeps with his or her “partner” is living a sinful lifestyle.

    It is not “ok” to live a lifestyle that is in opposition to God’s word. As a follower of Christ we should be seeking to repent of our sinful ways and to seek to live in a manner that honors God. We will never become perfect here in this life, but we do not have to remain in opposition to God either.

    Churches need to love homosexuals, because they are people and all people need Jesus. But we do not need to embrace their lifestyle choice. And we certainly do not need to candy coat the message of the Bible for them. I believe Mark Driscoll says it this way … “Soft words = hard hearts, Hard words = soft hearts” and I would agree. Love the people and as sin is exposed, walk with them through repentance, through the valleys struggle and into victory.

    Time to be who we are called to be.

  4. I know that wasn’t the issue he was tackling, but it’s the feeling I got from his post. I’m sorry if I went off on a tangent, but I have a soft spot for this issue. I just hate how the Church, whether or not they think they are, seems to communicate “Oh you’re Gay? then there is no possible way that Jesus could love you.” As if homosexuality is some special unforgivable sin. The stereo type says that Christians hate homosexuals and will do anything to demean them. It’s not fair that its the stereotype, but that’s what a lot of people think. Going on and on about the evils of homosexuality isn’t really doing much to change that stereotype. We can be who God has called us to be, without communicating hate.

  5. “Hopefully someone can help me out here, but I’ve never even heard of a scripture that forbids the planting of multiple seeds, and so if someone could find the reference [IrisDawn] I would be more than happy.”

    Leviticus 19:19 You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your domestic animals breed with a different kind [of animal]; you shall not sow your field with mixed seed, neither wear a garment of linen mixed with wool.
    Deuteronomy 22:9 You shall not plant your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole crop be forfeited [under this ban], the seed which you have sown and the yield of the vineyard forfeited to the sanctuary.

    “Romans 22-25 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].And by them the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God were exchanged for and represented by images, resembling mortal man and birds and beasts and reptiles. THEREFORE God gave them up in the lusts of their [own] hearts to sexual impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], BECAUSE they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever! Amen (so be it). For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one, And the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze (burning out, consumed) with lust for one another–men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrong-doing and going astray, which was [their] fitting retribution.”

    The word that is used in verse 26 for unnatural is φύσις,n {foo’-sis}. Meaning “the sum of innate properties and powers by which one person differs from others; distinctive native peculiarities; birth, physical origin; a mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has become nature.” This refers to abandoning relationships which the culture at that time perceived as natural. Homosexual relationships were uncommon and therefore, where thought of as unnatural, or abnormal.

    Verses 26 & 27 are referring back to verses 18-25. All the sin mentioned in this passage (Men having sex with young boys, leaving their wives for other men, as well as the women abandoning their relationships with their husbands for relationships with other women) is the direct result of idolatry. The main issue here is that they were not worshiping God, and everything that results from dishonouring God is sin. Paul makes it clear that they have no excuse, because God can be seen and known in his creation. Because they exchanged the truth for a lie, God just let them do what they wanted, sinking deeper and deeper into the morass of their immoral behavior.

    So when you read verses 26-27 in context, you can see that the main issue here is the adultery, stemming from idolatry. At the end of the chapter, Paul lists sins which he calls condemned and loathsome. Yet homosexuality is not mentioned once. If it was such an abomination, why wouldn’t he include it in this list of sins about which he says “those who do such things deserve to die”?

    “Ironically enough, she has it quite backwards. It should be noted that yes, Paul indeed coined the arsenokoitai, but that shouldn’t bother us a bit. In fact, we should rejoice over it. Paul coined over 150 terms in the New Testament, and so to say that he invented a word isn’t an argument, especially when we see how he formed it.”

    This is true. We should rejoice over it, because the fact that he created a new word means that he had something very specific to communicate. We must seek to understand what it means to the original hearer or writer before we seek to understand what it means to us today. This means that it is crucial for us to understand the historical and literary context. Unfortunately, Paul doesn’t give much context, and any attempt at understanding the true meaning of the word is speculation, pure and simple. However, as you pointed out, “The Greek translation of the Leviticus passages condemns a man [arseno] lying with [koitai] another man [arseno].” It is safe to say that it has something to do with men having some form of sexual relations with each other, but Arseno is a masculine noun. It refers only to men, and therefore to translate it as “homosexuality” and use is as a blanket term to condemn both gay men and lesbian women is incorrect. In fact, up until the ‘60s, arsenokoitai was translated as masturbator.

    “Paul used the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament.”

    As Paul was Jewish, he most likely would not have used the Septuagint, but the messianic text. While there is the possibility that he used the Septuagint, we don’t really know for sure.

    “I’m not concerned with his whole “culture argument” that she’s bringing to the table”

    See, this worries me, because (as I stated previously) the cultural context, not only of the Bible, but of any form of literature, is extremely important. We cannot understand his words until we understand the intent behind them, and the context in which they were spoken.

    • @ Irisdawn

      The following is a quote from your last post

      Verses 26 & 27 are referring back to verses 18-25. All the sin mentioned in this passage (Men having sex with young boys, leaving their wives for other men, as well as the women abandoning their relationships with their husbands for relationships with other women) is the direct result of idolatry. The main issue here is that they were not worshiping God, and everything that results from dishonouring God is sin. Paul makes it clear that they have no excuse, because God can be seen and known in his creation. Because they exchanged the truth for a lie, God just let them do what they wanted, sinking deeper and deeper into the morass of their immoral behavior.

      So when you read verses 26-27 in context, you can see that the main issue here is the adultery, stemming from idolatry. At the end of the chapter, Paul lists sins which he calls condemned and loathsome. Yet homosexuality is not mentioned once. If it was such an abomination, why wouldn’t he include it in this list of sins about which he says “those who do such things deserve to die”?

      You mention the intent of this passage and the context as being about issues of adultery. I would agree with you on that issues. The failure of Paul to mention Homosexuality in the later list is not a big surprise as the Bible mentions is rarely. Why would Paul need to mention it when it falls within the definitions of adultery and fornication. God designed marriage and made sex for within that union. Marriage is well defined in the Bible and the allowance for sex within that relationship is well defined also. So every time the Bible talks about adultery or fornication homosexual behavior is included.

  6. Messianic text? No. That doesn’t exist. Do you mean the Masoretic text?

    Paul most definitely used the Septuagint. Jewish or not everyone trained in rhetoric spoke and wrote in Greek.

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