Speaking the Truth in Love to Homosexuals, Muslims, Mormons, and More

About two weeks ago I reacted in a blog post to some recent comments by Kirk Cameron about homosexuality and gay marriage. I also took the opportunity to share a biblical perspective and my own beliefs about the same topics.

In that post there were two main points that I made:

  1. The Bible reveals that all homosexuality is a sin in God’s sight.
  2. Christians who believe such are entitled to that free opinion just as much as those who are pro-homosexuality or gay themselves.

I anticipated that post getting a few extra views than our normal web traffic would bring. I didn’t quite anticipate that it would be the busiest day in the history of our church’s blog. Nor did I fully anticipate all the reactions and replies it would bring.

A number of reactions were very positive and encouraging. Many replied or wrote private messages stating their support and agreement. Others were thankful for some clarifying information.

Then there were those that didn’t agree.

Some entered into some back and forth discussion/debates with me. I was glad to have some nice conversations with people and it was helpful to hear other viewpoints. But a few were very upset with the blog post and with me. And their responses showed it.

I was called everything from hurtful, to hateful, to a bigot, and more. One was angry enough to include me in her own blog post that labels me as a fool, an idolater, ignorant, a bigot, and a poor Christian all in one paragraph.

So this begs these questions: Is this our purpose as Christians? Is it our purpose to be bull-headed and thick-skulled? Are we supposed to be a bunch of bullies offending others and causing hurt? Are we good for nothing but a few hot and heavy arguments?  Do we need to print and wear a modern “scarlet letter,” one huge label that says “Hateful Bigot”?

As the apostle Paul says so often, “By no means!”

Rather, it is our duty, command, and privilege as Christians to do just the opposite. Words from Paul himself guide us in our conversations with others. First we look to Colossians 4:6 that says:

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Our goal as Christians is to always be prepared to answer anyone, but to do so with grace (meaning undeserved love) and compassion. That would of course include respect. This can remind us of Ephesians 4:14-16

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

In all of our conversations with one another, and with non-Christians especially, we are to always speak the truth in love. That is the only way that there will be any growth or building up. That is the only way respectful and productive conversations will take place. That will be the wisest way to share the Word of God with others with no obstacles in the way.

This was my only goal in my previous blog post about homosexuality. This was what I did.

Not once did I use any derogatory, condescending, or politically incorrect words–only homosexual or homosexuality. Not once did I make fun of anyone. I didn’t call homosexuals second-class citizens or people. I didn’t say I was better than homosexuals. In fact, twice I included myself in the ranks of all sinners who desperately need Christ’s forgiveness.

No, rather, calmly and carefully I shared what Scripture says, I shared what I believe (based on Scripture), and I shared that it is not right for homosexuals to have their viewpoint but not Christians who believe that it is a sin. Even when attacked with hateful and hurtful labels and words, I still replied with respect and compassion.

Christians:  This is what we are supposed to do.

When you speak with others and share God’s Word–and this could be homosexuals, Muslims, Mormons, atheists, or anything in between–speak the truth, but speak the truth in love. That includes the following guidelines:

  • Be compassionate
  • Be sympathetic
  • Be calm
  • Be respectful
  • Be patient
  • Don’t call names
  • Don’t get angry
  • Don’t argue
  • Don’t get frustrated
  • Don’t respond to hatred with hatred. Respond with more love!

What help will it be to shout at a Muslim or racially profile and assume that person is a terrorist? What good is it to make fun of Mormons because they have a different set of life rules or because some beliefs are on the stranger side of things? What benefit would it be to treat a homosexual like a half-person?

More importantly, how will it be possible to share the truth of God’s Word with anyone if you refuse to befriend them and show them love?

Look, not everyone is going to agree. Some don’t want to hear what you have to say. Or more specifically, some don’t want to hear what God has to say. Any anger or arguments come from a conscience that has been pricked by the Word of God. This is to be expected because God’s Word will not return to him empty but will always achieve a purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11)–be it for the eternal salvation or condemnation of a person’s soul.

And so, as we continue in life and have opportunities to speak with homosexuals, Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists, atheists or any one else, I have these constant and fervent prayers:

  • My prayer for all Christians is that we share our faith and God’s Word with others tactfully, carefully, and respectfully.
  • My prayer is that those we share God’s Word with will be kind enough to show respect back.
  • My prayer is that God works through his powerful Word to change hearts to know and believe the truth.
  • My prayer is that no matter whom Christians are speaking with and no matter what kind of response is received (even hateful ones), we continue to always and only speak the truth in love.

About Pastor Phil Huebner

Pastor. Missionary. Principal. Husband. Father. Serving in love as each. http://www.ctkpalmcoast.com

Posted on March 20, 2012, in Church, Preschool and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 56 Comments.

  1. Oh, pastor.

    I do not deny that I am angry with you. I stand by my words. I do not think you a true Christian. I think you a blind guide, paralysed within your inadequate Christianity which, to itself, makes complete sense, and to God and God’s creation is completely ridiculous. Your God is too small.

    And I am angry with your smug imagining that you are speaking the Truth in Love. You are telling lies about God and God’s creation. It does not matter that you imagine yourself a terrible sinner in need of God’s forgiveness standing beside me if you imagine that I need God’s forgiveness because I am lesbian, or because I act upon my God-given transsexuality. You are still condemning as sin what God does not.

    I care, because you will have parents within your congregation with gay children, and you will be demanding that those parents torture their children with falsehoods about God, and perhaps drive them from the Church. The evil in your words matters. You do harm with this post, and with your other pontifications on the subject. Your imagining that you do this harm “in Love” makes it worse.

    • Clare, thank you for proving my point and post.

      I’m sorry you are not able to put yourself in my shoes and not able to consider that I am speaking respectfully and lovingly. Because I am.

      “Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” I and God alone know what is in my heart. I simply tried to share what is there in this last post.

  2. Put myself in your shoes. OK. You know you are a sinner and in need of the forgiveness of God. You know that you are justified by belief in the sacrifice of Christ, and you seek sanctification as well, cleansing from sin. You know that this is not your own work, but that of God, and you seek as a child to help your Father with it. Good.

    You know that you should Love God’s children, and you may take seriously as a pastor the call of- which prophet was it? If God told him that someone else was a sinner, and the prophet did not confront him, and he died, then the man was condemned and that was on the prophet’s head. You will recall the reference. A heavy responsibility. You do not bear the same responsibility as that biblical prophet, but as much of it as you can bear.

    And. Gay love is not sinful. You are wrong, pastor. You are unpersuadable, you do not listen to arguments, your ears and mind are alike closed.

    And if you say I too am unpersuadeable, remember that I have the experience. It really matters to me. It is not merely theoretical, a sin you can condemn secure in the knowledge that it does not tempt you. Hypocrite, to be concerned with sins which do not tempt you rather than sins which do.

    I know that this is how God made me, and God does not condemn.

    • What if you are right and I am wrong? Well, then I guess I’m not reading the Bible correctly and the world can continue on its current path and shouldn’t be corrected. Then I guess I’m misguided.

      But . . . please do just consider this carefully for a moment . . . what if I’m right? What if your viewpoint is wrong? If that is the case, then you are leading yourself down the wrong path because you are doing something that God doesn’t want you to be doing.

      Using only reason and human logic . . . only one of us is right. We can’t both be right at the same time. I pray you at least consider that.

      Anyways, thank you for sharing all of your opinions and your personal viewpoint. They are helpful. I just have different ones though.

      • You presume to correct- not one person, but the whole World? You claim this is in love, not overweening arrogance.

        Pascal’s wager, Pastor. If God really is as vile as you paint him, I would prefer the lake of fire. Really.

        You know what? I can’t be bothered any more. I am going to spend some time with Christians, rather than bigoted little evangelicals like you.

      • Again, thank you for proving my post and point.

        Thank you also for sharing your thoughts and feelings. They help us understand more.

        These are your opinions, but I have different ones.

      • Just on this note, the Christian church seem to be the only body in the world to still promote that homosexuality can be ‘cured’ (read Exodus International, NARTH et al) despite just about every recognised scientific psychological body in the world saying that this is harmful to a person and that all sexuality on the spectrum from homosexuality to heterosexuality is normal. So it really is you, the collective you, vs the world here.

      • AB, I agree with you that Exodus Ministries is destructive. But not because they don’t understand the scientific or psychological findings about homosexuality. They don’t understand the theological issues of homosexuality. Telling someone that they can be “cured” of homosexual desires is the same as telling someone who struggles with pornography that they could be “cured.” God’s inspired Word tells us that the Christian life is one of struggle and self denial because we have a sinful nature that will never leave us. For me, I will never be “cured” of my sinful desires. It doesn’t mean I should give into them. When I started to study this subject of homosexuality. I met a man, who lived the gay lifestyle for 10 years. He left that lifestyle, not because he was “cured” but because he saw what God’s Word clearly says. His continual struggle and JOY in the gospel, has been an inspiration to me to continue to repent, rejoice in the gospel, and struggle.

        What Exodus ministries doesn’t take into account is “we were sinful from birth” Psalm 51. That means we were born with sinful desires. I don’t have to teach my son to hit is sister. He does that “naturally.” When we become Christians we don’t become “cured” of sinful desires. We repent of sinful desires and trust in Jesus for his forgiveness. And we lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome those desires. But the life of a Christian is one of struggle. Paul started to struggle against sin when he became a Christian. See Romans 7. The thing he didn’t want to do, he kept on doing.

  3. Thanks PPH, The best book I’ve read on this subject is “Bearing their burden” by Tom Eckstein. I’m totally convinced that many people like Clare above is born with homosexual desires. Just like I was born with lustful desires, as well as greed, materialism. All of these are apparent in my life. And the Bible says that if I give into these sins and live in them, they will destroy my faith.

    1Corinthians 6 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Keep speaking the truth in love. And @clare Flourish, I pray that you might read what God’s Word says about homosexuality. Either the Bible is wrong and there is no God. Or the Bible is right and this is a sin, a sin that God wants us to repent of, and more importantly a sin that Jesus died for.

    • Great thoughts Pastor Sadler! I think our culture is so ingrained with the humanistic–“me first” mentality they can’t understand how their “natural” desires could possibly be sinful.

      Yet, we declare with King David, “Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

      If every whim of ours was pure and intended by God, we would have no need for a savior! Thank God that he knows better than us and sent that savior to save us from ourselves!

    • Or option 3, our human interpretation of the Bible is incorrect and we need to re-look and reflect on the whole book.

      I seem to remember your country having a civil war about slavery, which the fundamentalist church deemed as part of God’s plan. We look back now and go how could they have got it so wrong!?

      • It is unfair to compare homosexuality to slavery and our views about one as being the same about the other.

        And I’ve never condoned slavery and said anyone should.

      • I was just trying to imply that the Bible has not changed but our interpretation of the Bible does and has in the past. The Bible condones slavery in a number of places and this is what the Church of the time upheld. There are loads more passages in the Bible about slavery than homosexual acts but we no longer agree that slavery is God’s way. We love thy neighbour and treat them as our equal, God’s first and last rule – LOVE.

        So there is a human aspect to the Bible, interpretation.

      • That is partially true. And I’m thankful you agree that the Bible hasn’t changed. But we can’t say then that human interpretation is different so we just need to interpret it better now.

        Regarding slavery, it is too far to say that the Bible condones slavery. The Apostle Paul does say that whatever your lot or station in life–even if it happens to be a slave–then you should serve in love to God and your Master. But he doesn’t necessarily condone slavery, nor does he say that slavery should be like our American idea of what slavery is.

        And as I’ve said, I do treat homosexuals as equals. However, I don’t believe that activity is right in God’s sight.

        Which leads me to another thought . . . it’s interesting how these conversations often digress to talking about homosexuals as a people or culture rather than homosexuality as an activity or action. Trying to divert attention to equality issues or treating people fairly takes focus off the real issue that the Bible tells us that homosexuality is a sinful thing.

  4. Thanks for sharing the book Pastor Sadler. That is also very pertinent Bible section. And what a wonderful encouragement it contains that though we all were lost in our sins, we now have been washed and sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus!

  5. I tweeted something about the Kirk Cameron interview and got tons of hate tweets. It was crazy… Thank you for this post Pastor Phil, it’s a complicated subject to talk about and it’s really useful to know how to do it the right way 🙂
    hope you’re doing well, Say hi to Becky and the kids!

  6. Thanks for attempting to remain kind and gentle with your words. It is hard when people are passionate with what they say to remain true to the debate. Neil has been called everything, by Christian people, on his blog including the anti-Christ for opposing your viewpoint. Quite frankly, I don’t know how you all do it!

    However, I think we must careful, that sometimes when we think we are saying things out of love, we are actually come across as judging that person. For example, I have often had people when I oppose the traditional viewpoint on homosexuality say “I’ll pray for you” when they disagree with me. What they are ‘actually’ saying is “I think what you are doing is wrong”. That, my friend, is judgement. It comes across as my sins are less than yours, or even worse, I am better than you. I believe God was trying to teach us about this careful handling of this delicate situation when He told us to take the log out of our own eye.

    So, I say this with love, I am not sure if you realise but this blog post to me from the outside looking in, “Don’t try to tell me that my belief of what the Bible says is wrong, I have been kind to you despite that all I have got back from you is anger and worse yet, outright slander. You who oppose this are wrong and I will keep my cool and attempt to tell you this in the kindest way. Stop questioning me on here and go repent your sins.” I am not sure if this is how your intending to come across, but that was how I felt and it sounds like that is what Clare also felt (clarify me here Clare!).

    As I mentioned in your last blog, even by putting it in nice words, you are clearly making a statement about Clare and Guy, that their unrepentant sin makes them unworthy of redemption. You are in fact, through your nice tone, condemning them to hell if they do not repent. But worse yet, you put your beliefs before the state by opposing gay marriage and say that even for those people who do not believe in your statements about homosexuality that they should not be allowed to marry. You are saying that your way is the only way. So Clare and Guy and all homosexuals have a right to be angry here – you are silently calling them ‘unnatural’, an abomination, not normal. And, moreover, you are enforcing your view of Church on the State.

    In your last blog post I made some comments which I hoped you might reply to:

    “The term homosexuality was constructed in the late 19th century so what you are reading in your Bible is a constructed interpretation of those passages. The passages themselves are about Cybelian cult worship and are about universal idolatry (see Neil’s discourse on Romans
    http://lcamyopinion.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/romans-1-part-1-if-u-aint-got-context-u-aint-got-nothin/ ). To equate what Paul is saying about universal idolatry with loving monogamous homosexual relationships is to go against the whole point of what Paul is trying to say.”

    Do you agree that the term homosexuality used in your Bible is modern-day translation? How does Paul call homosexuality a sin if the term homosexuality did not exist?

    “You said “just because a person has cravings for alcohol, doesn’t mean alcohol should be abused, ” what/who are you implying is being abused? Guy mentioned he has been in a loving monogamous relationship with his husband for 21 years, where is the abuse there? Are you implying just by the fact that he is attracted to someone of the same sex that that is on of itself abusive? Or is it something in particular – holding hands, kisses, mutual masturbation, anal sex?”

    Could you please clarify what the abuse is in loving monogamous homosexual relationships and how this relates to your previous comment in the last blog?

    “The example you provided about you going out for dinner with another woman is adultery. Just as if Guy went out for dinner with another man, would be sinful. But Guy going out with his husband is still within the confined of a loving monogamous relationship, just like when you go out for dinner with your wife.”

    I agree that the example you gave is sinful for both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Do you agree? Do you know of any verses that specifically call homosexual LOVE a sin?

    “I understand that what you are trying to say is from as you see it, loving and Godly, and the people opposing your views that have made comment on this blog agree that you have been soft and gentle in your approach and I agree, but what you are saying no matter which way you put it, is actually bigotted and insulting to Guy and Clare. You do have the right to disagree, and you can believe that homosexuality is in your eyes sinful and against God’s word, but by opposing marriage equality, you are in fact trying to enforce your tenets of faith on to those that may not agree with you and that is what is discriminatory. By Guy and Clare disagreeing with your thoughts on homosexuality they are doing nothing that affects your faith.”

    Apart from the name calling, do you agree?

    Once again, I apologise Guy and Clare for using you as examples. I pray that this is alright!

    • Thanks for your response and questions. Really a lot to answer–almost worth another blog post! 🙂

      As a quick response to a few things, yes I understand that others “on the outside” might look in and not think I’m speaking in love. But so does my son when I tell him he can’t play on the iPad today because he had a rough day at school yesterday. So does the drug addict when you say that is a destructive behavior. So also does an atheist get upset when you lovingly try to explain that there is a god and who that god is.

      So in other words, just because some don’t receive a message well doesn’t make the message incorrect or the messenger unloving.

      As for the language questions and the word homosexuality, yes obviously English wasn’t around at the time (as far as I know). But the Greek words that are used for homosexuality, and the Hebrew words used in the Old Testament like in the Sodom and Gomorrah account, are obviously describing gay and lesbian activities.

      Some might argue till they are blue in the face about this, but it is really a moot argument anyways because Scripture describes marriage as being between one man and one woman. See Genesis with Adam and Eve, Ephesians 5, and a host of other passages.

  7. Hi everyone.

    I am a lutheran pastor, albeit from Australia and I really cant see how we, as Christians can defend this “speaking the truth in love” line when essentially, we are condemning people for who they are. Our sexuality, is integral to us. It goes to the core of our being. have a look at this post.


    It really isnt fair to condemn as ungodly such an important aspect of someone’s God created being, think that it is OK because we supposedly do it “in love” and then claim that our “loving” attitude is proved because someone like Claire gets really really upset by the accusation.

    How long has it been since you have done any solid exegetical work on the Romans or the Corinthians passage? Have you kept up to date with the psychological, genetic, sociological debate in the field of sexuality? Are you aware of the 70 “findings of fact” presented by Judge Vaughn Walker in the proposition 8 trial. Are you aware of how these findings relate to the Christian Argument for or against gay marriage.

    Phil, Caire is a declared Lesbian and your responses have been polite but none the less offensive. Your church is effectively calling her akin to the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, prostitutes, the sexually immoral, thieves, swindlers, murderers, slanderers, and drunkards. (from your doctrinal statements) Man! Id be upset too!

    And all of these accusations layed on her when the Bible is completely silent on lesbian relationships.


    Just imagine if for a moment you or one of your children or grandchildren are homosexual. It would seem such an injustice and a horrible God indeed who creates a gay person with all the God given sexual attractions that all of us share, all of those wonderful and intense feelings of first love and then forbid them any chance of giving full expression to that love through the life long faithful and loving bond that is expressed through marriage.

    To that person, your doctrinal statements glibly state…”all of us have our ‘pet sins’ and evil desires that we must control.

    Surely there is no comparison between “pet sins” and the basic human need for sexual expression. Cmon…Fair go here!

    If it really is homosexual desire for a life long loving and committed relationship that is condemned by the Bible then it would seem to me that God sets these poor gays up as victims here. But, I dont believe that the Bible is talking about loving and committed Homosexual relationships at all.

    the word “homosexual” ,as a definition of same sexed people who are attracted to each other in preference to people of the opposite sex , was a word invented only in the 1800’s. This very recent word and concept was undefined in ancient times and there is no Greek or Hebrew word to describe it. The use of the word “homosexual” for arseakoitais on ! Cor. is a very recent and very poor translation.

    Romans 1 is talking about universal practices of idolatry which are to always be condemned. If we take off out prejudice glasses and put the text including vs 26-27 into correct historical, sociological, structural framework we can see that he is referring to ancient cultic pagan worship practices, not lifelong loving and committed homosexual relationships.

    I have done extensive research on this topic over the last year when a dear young friend of mine came out and the response of the church (the attitude you are displaying) tore the family apart. I have recently become an ardent evangelical Bible believing conservative, pro gay activist. (Yeh…I know… seems like a strange mix hey!)

    What i am doing in this comment is responding to what i have read in your post and your comments above and challenge you to a debate on these issues. it seems to me that you have picked on Claire a little and i guess I am saying…pick on someone your own theological size. Me. What say you Phil? Start with the things i have said above…

    What about the fact that God “knit us (including homosexuals) together in the womb.

    What about the fact that sexuality is not a “pet sin” but an integral part of our being that effects every relationship we are in

    What about the fact that the Bible is completely silent on Lesbianism.

    What about the fact that the word “homosexual” is a recent and poor translation of the Bible texts.

    Perhaps that will make an adequate start. I look forward to the debate.

    • Neil, I don’t intend to get in any debates. I will say that your comments are in many ways to be accepted from the LCA. That is the trend in that fractioning church body.

      Again, I’m not going to debate, but I will just comment on a couple things . . .

      When have I done exegesis last? Every day. I’ve read pretty much every Bible verse in the original languages.

      As I mentioned in a previous reply, many of these arguments are somewhat moot points since God only describes marriage as being between man and woman.

      The fact that we are “sexual beings” as scientists and sociologists say does not mean that we should act on our inner desires. So because I am naturally “sexual” should I go and commit adultery tonight?

      And yes, we are no longer in the image of God but in the image of our parents. We are born in sin. No sinner is in the image of God. They can’t be because God is perfect.

      • I dont think that a fair translation of critical passages that YOU use in support of your arguments is a moot point. You cant use one passage to cancel out another but you aslready know that the be the case from your theological training. If the passages say what you say they do then defend them. You have used them to “speak the truth in love” to a lesbian woman, Claire, who has become very upset by what you have said. If it is truth…fine. if it isnt, then the love and you are just left with hurtful accusations.

        You mention that you have your Greek and your Hebrew so, lets discuss it on that level. The Corinthians and Timothy passage uses arsenokoitai which is a “Paulism”. It is not found outside of these 2 references. One is left struggling for an accurate translation. The Original King James has “abusers of themselves with mankind.” At Luthers time it was commonly translated as masturbation. Homosexuality is a poor translation. regardless of the possible meanings, the one thing that IS clear is that it refers to men and not women. So, I repeast my question. How is it possible to condemn Lesbain relationships when the bible is totally silent on the matter.

        Perhaps we should leave the question of original sin and imago dei to another tiem but i still say that your understanding that no one today is made in the image of God is astounding. And not supported by any Lutheran orthodox statement anywahere!

        So, about the Lesbian relationship question? Dont treat it as a debate if you dont want to. Think of m as defending the ladies honour… and you as her accuser. With respect Phil, and for the sake of all your readers, defend your accusation.

      • Romans 1:24-27 makes it pretty clear that it is talking about lesbian relationships and gay relationships. To call it just an addressing of a specific cult at that particular time in history would be to ignore A) the context of the chapter and B) everything else that was happening in the world at that time and before that in history.

        But again, God established marriage for man and woman. God established headship for man and partnership for woman. Gay or lesbian relationships also fly in the face of the order God established for marriage and relationships. God did not intend or design for two heads (men) or two partners/helpers (women) to be together.

        As for losing the image of God and original sin, that answer is easy. I’ve given that already. Countless Bible verses tell us that we are born in sin and in the image of our parents (Genesis 5).

        But since you asked for it, the Lutheran Confessions are as clear as can be! Augsburg Confession Article 2, Part 1:

        Also they teach that since the fall of Adam, all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

        If you are suggesting that the paragraph above–a description of all humans–is the image of God, then I would be very, very concerned! Our God has no sin, is perfect, and certainly has no concupiscence, vice, or disease!

        (sorry everyone else for the technical response there, but the request was specifically made for this)

      • Romans 1 makes NO MENTION of lesbian relationships. unless you read it in. ot simply says that women perform unnatural sex. Most exegetes including the church fathers, clement of alexanria for instance, understoof this to be all sex that was not procreative…ie oral or anal sex. whic was the common sex of the fertility cults. There is no reference to loving and commited lesbian relationships here. As I said… you have made accusations about a lady simply because she is a lesbian when the bible makes NO mention of Lesbian relationships. Defend the statement or aplogise.

        The original sin/ image of God question is exactly as i proposed. The quote form the confessions says that we have, through sin, lost all abilitiy to fear and love and trust god. We are unable to do anything to effect our own salvation. But the doctrine of the image of God is also about the goodness that remains in the world. All human activity that reflects the goodness of god comes from gos and is a part of the image of god implanted in all humanity. when any human does a great act of good, self sacrifice, love, compassion, whether they are christians or not, we thank God for that act. When any human displays extra ordinary musical talent through whom the whole world is blessed, then we thank God for that ability because it is a part of the nature of God implanted in them. that is the good Lutheran image of God teaching.

      • What else can this mean except woman/woman relationships?

        “women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men . . . were inflamed with lust for one another”

      • Phil, i gave you clement of Alexandria’s understanding…he said it was non procreative sex… ie …oral or anal. with a man. When you ask….what else can this mean?? This is what someone who was about 1800- 1900 years closer to the real events than we are. Clement talked about the “unnatural realtions” of hyenas who, he believed had seperate orrifices in the females that could receive the sperm without it producing a pregancy…hence… unnatural relations are those which cannot produce pregnancy between males and females. What do you think that your very recent and duboius translation, hundreds of years removed from the event is better than Clements? the fact that you appear to not even be able to see the possibility is suggesting less than an open mind on the topic. As I said… the Bible nowhere mentions Lesbian relationships.

      • This is not a super productive discussion. However…..

        The context of the paragraph is also homosexuality.

        What about the very next sentence which talks about women being “inflamed with lust for one another” ?

        That is pretty clear. Again the context of the paragraph is homosexuality or same-gender relationships.

      • I dont see how you can say this is not productive. We are examining the texts in question. I know that many pasotrs are uncomfortable looking at other possible translations that challenge their views. Perhaps that is the problem?

        Here are a couple of links to exegesis I have done on Romans 1. A new look taking seriously the culture of the day and not reading 20th century oulooks back into the text which, with respect, I believe that you are doing. Have a read.



      • as for me… midnigt now.. I gotta sleep.

        Night night. 🙂

      • arsenokoitia- Literally- Man going to bed with another man. This is a very specific term to a gentile audience. A Jewish audience would know from Genesis 1,2 that sex is a gift between a husband and wife. But because Paul is preaching to a gentile audience, he uses a very specific term to explain what God says about the issue.

      • Missed the earlier thing you said about arsenokoitai.

        “arsenokoitia- Literally- Man going to bed with another man. This is a very specific term to a gentile audience.”

        There is NO evidence that this was a specific term for anyone. The only thing that is clear is that the term is a hapax legomenon. We really DONT KNOW what it actually means. the only reason you get “man bed” is because that is a transliteration of what might have been the etymology of the word. That makes as much sense as saying that “conscience” literally means “with science” when you and I know that we use the word in a completely different way. As I said…Bible at the time of Luther translated it as masturbators. KJ Bible called it “abusers of themselves with mankind” How can you be so sure of this “very specific term” when 2000 years of translation disagrees with you?

    • Sin is an integral part of our being. When Paul was at the height of his Christian walk he said, “Nothing good lives in me.” And “I am (Right now) the chief of all sinners.” Sin is not just something we do. It is who we are. Just because homosexuality is an integral part of who a person is, doesn’t me I shouldn’t struggle against it. In that struggle I see that I have a great need. I need someone who has never given into sin, someone who took on the punishment I deserve, and someone to conquer the death I deserve. That is what I have in Jesus.

      The big question is “Is living a homosexual lifestyle sinful?” The Bible clearly says “Yes.” As Pastor Phil mentioned. Sex outside of marriage is sinful. ANY kind of sex. Homosexuality, heterosexuality, pedophilia, and anything else we might come up with. In fact, Jesus even says to look at a woman or man and lust in your heart is equal to breaking the commandments.

      “Is living a homosexual lifestyle a sin that Jesus died for?” YES. It is not the unforgivable sin. But it is a sin that demands repentance.

      The Bible speaks very clearly about sexuality. So either the Bible is all wrong. No sin. Everything is permissible. No God. No Jesus. No forgiveness. This is it.

      Or the Bible is right. Sex is a gift for marriage. It is a sin outside of marriage. Jesus is God who came to pay for that sin. And our lives are one of repentance, forgiveness, joy and struggle.

      • Ok…all sex outside of marriage is sin. So God gave me marriage so i can have good and godly sex. But, God creates the gay person with all those desires and then denies them marriage…why? so tha they burn with unfulfilled desire and frustration all their lives? You have a cruel God. 😦

      • Any sinful passion or desire that burns in us is not evidence of a cruel God, but a sinful world. Don’t you have passions and desires that you have to fight everyday? I sure do. Paul sure did. He had his “thorn in the flesh” whatever that was. And through it he learned what grace was. My friend who left the gay lifestyle. struggles against his sin and through it, he has come to know what grace is. I have struggled and often failed. but through that struggle I cry out with Paul, “What a wretched man I am, who can save me from the body of death?” Paul responds, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ my Lord.” I think many homosexuals who struggle against their desires and trust in Christ will look back and see that through this struggle is where they found a God of grace. What a wonderful God we have!

      • I hear what you are saying about knowing our sin leads us to christ and forgiveness which is the experience of all christians. I have gay friends who are also convicted of sin and lust and inappropriate sexual thoughts and temptations who fight to stand against them and repent and are forgiven when they fall. But these people are all in stable and committed and loving and God pleasing same sex relationships.

        Sin is always a perversion of the good things God gives. The good gift to all of us is our sexuality. gay or str8. The sin that infects all of us would lead us to express our sexuality selfishly, or in a way that hurts other people. The infestation of sin leads us to act sexually apart from the god given boundaries of lifelong and committed love.

        My gay friends celebrate their God created sexuality like me and express it in loving and committed relationships like me. They are also sinful and know it like me.

        Tell me, do you believe that your sexuality is God given and is to be celebrated? Do you believe that sin infects that sexuality but that the sexuality itself remains a good gift from God?

        THAT, my friend, is the big difference between how you understand your own sexuality and sin and the impossible situation you place gay people in.

        BTW..that gay person you mentioned…the one who is struggling to fight who he is to the core…if he is under 30 and if he doesn’t get some REAL professional help, his current path of denying his identity gives him a 4 fold greater chance that he will suicide.

        Have a look here at some religious leaders from Exodus International who encouraged people to fight against their fundamental, God created sexuality just as you are with your gay friend… listen as they apologise for killing some of them.


  8. Scott Barefoot

    Hello- My name is Scott Barefoot – I’m “the guy” Pastor Ben has been speaking about in abstract previsously. Just wanted to “chime-in” here for a second and share that I’m nearly 40yrs old, and have never contemplated suicide.
    Without spending pages and pages of time here sharing / re-sharing my experiences, you can read them online at: http://www.wels.net. If you type my name in the Search Block there, the two recent articles I’ve written about my experiences will come-up: “My Cross To Bear” 1/08, and “Desperate for God” 5/10.
    As others can attest to, I have made no qualms about my general dislike for The Exodus International Group. I think they set “the bar” too high for most by promoting the folks that have not only left the gay lifestyle, but have been “cured” and now in heterosexual relationships. Leaving the Gay Lifestyle – resisting the temptations is all that God expects. In my brief experiences with my local Exodus Chapter, I became extremely discouraged with their message and tactics, after meeting several guys that had been through their “program” multiple times, and felt as if they were “failures”, because they continued to struggle with homosexual temptations. I tried to share with them that they were already HUGE WINNERS in God’s eyes, because they had made the choice (with the help of The Holy Spirit) to leave the gay lifestyle and fight against the temptations.
    I was getting a bit of a headache trying to read through all the above posts & comments… Greek, Hebrew, etc. As a lay person, I’ll tell you though we know from scripture that God’s Laws are written on our hearts. And, looking back now, during the time I was embracing the gay lifestyle, I can see that I was never 100% settled that what I was doing was “God Pleasing”.
    The whole “Gay Marriage” – “committed” Gay Relationship movement thing, I know for a fact, is a bit misrepresented most times. As a former “card carrying member” of the gay community for over a decade, I can tell you that those that were really “beating the drum” to legalize gay marriage were always a very vocal minority. The majority of gay folks I knew, that I encountered, really didn’t want anything to do with it – they considered “marriage” to be a heterosexual institution that they wanted no part of. Did I have friends / know folks that were in long-term relationships… absolutely… I knew a gay couple that had been “partners” for nearly 30yrs. However, they were the first to freely admit that only about 10 years of that was monogamous… the other 20yrs were their having an “open relationship” (more-or-less “roomates” – that called themselves “partners), which you find to be much more the “norm” in the gay community.
    I have to agree with Pastor Phil and Pastor Ben…. I think you have to go back to the beginning… to Genesis to see what God, Himself, has said that marriage should be.
    I really find the “Pro-Gay Christian Movement” to be more “attack, attack, vilify” than most evangelical christians are. A case-in-point, is this absurd movie produced a couple years back entitled: “For the Bible tells me so”. Besides the fact, that the actual “theology” of the movie is extremely weak… they put all these “well-spoken” folks with impressive earthly credentials on the screen to share their arguments for homosexuality, while conservative – bible believing christians are depicted as ignorant “hill billies”, or they pick-out the most extreme radicals to focus upon… implying they speak on behalf of us all.
    While the above back and forth “sparring” (I’ll call it) about this subject might be newer for some here, I’ve been exposed to it frequently over the years (both before and since I left the gay lifestyle) in different settings / blogs / websites. Most of what I hear in these settings by folks defending or embracing homosexuality can be boiled-down to another passage from scripture: “Itching Ears Hear What They Want To Hear”.
    God’s Blessings!

    • Scott, AWESOME feedback and comments. Thank you so much!

    • Thanks for sharing Scott.

      Your voice, the voice of the Gay community is REALLY the only voice that matters in this. I would love to be reading the discussion from gay christian people who have had all sorts of different experiences and have different approaches to the Bible and different convictions written on their hearts. Unfortunately, there are so few left in the church that

      Friends of my wife and I are 2 lesbian couples who have children and grandchildren. Their experience isn’t, and has never been a part of what you call, the “lifestyle”. As I understand from the gay commentators on my blog and elsewhere, the “lifestyle” is a term supplied to people in the gay “scene” who act with sexual promiscuity which is damaging to themselves, their spirituality and their partners. For heterosexual people who are involved in this kind of “scene” and “lifestyle” it would just be called promiscuity. I had a bit too much of that lifestyle in my youth. I would have to stand along side of you Scott in rejecting it. But just as I would not want those years to determine what true healthy Godly sexual expression could be for me, so I would not take your “lifestyle” experiences as determinative or an example of the healthy loving lifelong committed sexuality that my friends enjoy. They would say that from their experience, the gay people they mix with are mainly like them ie. in committed relationships.

      I am no sociologist but my google search of statistics regarding the separation rates among gay couples range enormously depending on who is reporting the figures and what type of argument they are trying to prove with those figures. 2 things that I read seem to make a lot of sense. Id one were to compare the longevity of gay relationships with that of straight relationships, we shouldn’t be comparing gay relationships with MARRIED heterosexual couples. One would hope that couples who have sincerely promised lifelong bonds of faithfulness and love (for better or worse, richer or poorer..etc.) before God and the community would have a far stronger bond that a couple who casually decide to “shack up” for a while as long as it feels good. Its a little sad that the church extols the virtues of marriage and then denies that blessing and those benefits to Christian gay couples.

      2. The availability of gay marriage is so recent and is available in so few places that no real statistics comparing apples for apples (gay marriage longevity/ faithfulness vs Straight marriage/ longevity) are available. The sample group remains too small. Some early indicators quoted in Wiki say that gay “civil Unions” break down at a slightly higher rate for males and a significantly higher rate for females than the divorce rates for heterosexual couples. However, once again, we are not comparing apples with apples. it would be interesting to see a comparison between Christian gay couples who are married in the site of God and their Christian community and Christian Straight couples who do the same.

      For now, however, the best indicator might be the Danish experience. they have allowed Gay marriage since 1989. Their experience is that the heterosexual divorce rate is at 46% and the Gay divorce rate is at 17%.


      Although…once again…there are so many competing sociological factors here… who knows how slippery any of the figures are. I think that the main point is… we shouldnt generalise and make disparaging remarks or suggestions about any other group without a very sound basis. Even if our beliefs and convictions about that group come from opur own experiences.

      The main thing is Surely what God’s word said about this. So lets keep discussing that. As well as the valuable contributions about people’s personal experiences.

      Thankyou for sharing Scott.

    • Thanks Scott. You have been an inspiration to me. Since I had a chance to talk with you, I have seen more clearly my personal crosses, and the struggle and joy of a life of repentance and grace. More than anything I think you have heightened our awareness to our church body concerning the real and “natural” temptation of same-sex desires.

      I think many of us were too comfortable painting same-sex attractions as a cause of some childhood experience or by being influenced by a secular culture. You have enabled many to say openly, “I struggle with same-sex attractions, and its not because I’m weird. Its because I’m human!” Nevertheless, you trust in what the Bible says about our sin/saint situation, and a life long need for every Christian to struggle against his particular cross, whatever that is, same-sex attraction, sexual immorality, pride, etc.

      I pray that I might be a help to you some day in your walk of faith as you have been to me and so many others. To God be the glory!

  9. What really matters here IS what God’s word says.

    My challenge remains unanswered.

    How do we deal with fact that the very recent translations of the Bible using the word “homosexual” is very misleading. Particularly arsenokoitai in 1 Cor. and 1 Tim. Ben…how can you say “this is a very specific term to a gentile audience” when the only 2 uses of the word are in these 2 passages. To say something is a “specific term” you seem to be suggesting that it is something that is clearly understood by the greek audience.

    There is a specific term “chook” in Australia. All Aussies know that the word means “chicken”. But most of your readers would not. It is specific to Australia. We understand it because we USE IT MOST OF THE TIME. The meaning is very clear to us.

    How can you assume that arsenokoitai iis a specific mord meaning homosexual when the usage is so rare that any translation is an approximation at best and total guess work at its worst. Assumed certainty where none exists does not help this argument.

    Just to confirm again in my own mind that arsenokoitai IS a rare undefined word I dragged out my old surefire 11 volume TDNT. (And it SURE SMALLS GOOD off the shelf.: lovers of books, I’m sure you know what i mean). Unfortunately, the usage must be so undefined that they didn’t even include it in its index…??? I’ve never had that happen before! OK Back to the internet.

    It seems that there are only 2 other uses of ARSENOKOITAI apart from Paul in all ancient greek literature. and they 1200 years apart! Doesn’t lend much for textual certainty.

    1. In the Sybelline Oracles, dating 6th Century BC, it says, “The ARSENOKOITAI from the north will abduct our children.”

    2. St. Paul’s use in 1 Cor and 1 Tim.

    3. In the writings of St. John the Faster of Constantinople, 6th Century CE, where it appear to be related to men activities with their wives??

    But… as I said, they are VERY uncertain texts. Perhaps we better stick with Luther who translated the word “masturbator” (Except that now put me in a whole heap of trouble! )

    Anyway guys…I appreciate the debate. But i also know that you are busy people with parishes to run and people to care for. i see that you also have a school. GREAT! I helped set up the first Lutheran College in Western Australia in 1997. I was its first pastor/ chaplain. It grew to 1200 students in a matter of a few years…and all that in a state that doesn’t even know what a Lutheran Is! They were busy but great years.

    Point is, i know how busy you are and do not expect answers to every question i put immediately. I do this almost full time now so i have all the time in the world. but I do appreciate any time you can devote to the topic. i think that it is crucial for your readers and for us as christian leaders, theologians and pastors.

    From experience in these discussions i have also found that devoting the discussion to one subject at a time is the most profitable… otherwise nothing is gained. I also think that the Bible texts are critical. if we are not faithful to them, then we have nothing. Id really like to stick with the 1 Cor and 1 Tom texts since that is where our discussion is at.

    I look forward to your reply whenever you are able.

    Pastor Neil.

    • I think the argument has been exhausted by now. You think one thing. Fine. We and the entirety of the Wisconsin and Missouri Lutheran Synods believe something different. Our beliefs are based on overwhelming biblical evidence already given:

      -The institution of marriage in Genesis 2
      -The roles of men and women all over Scripture, particularly in Ephesians 5
      -The Levitical laws
      -Sodom and Gomorrah
      -Jesus never approving of a same gender relationship
      -Jesus only addressing hetero relationships
      -The context of Romans 1

      There’s more but I won’t repeat or get into it much further with science or reason (like for example, isn’t it even obvious by biology that a “plug” goes with a “socket” and two “plugs” or two “sockets” don’t belong together?).

      What it comes down to is that you will seek out every bit of evidence to prove your point, and we believe otherwise. We are entitled to that Scripture-based belief. We will hold to that Scripture-based belief.

      • Thanks Phil.

        I appreciate the time already taken. But if we had a year together maybe we could discuss each one of the things you have listed here. I too have looked carefully at all those points. I have a different conclusion than you and i have good scriptural reasons for those beliefs. Not reason, not science…scripture. Thats why i would like to continue to discuss the question of homosexuality on scripture alone. Sola Scritura yeh? I have raised the absolutely fundamental question about the words used in 1 Cor. and 1 Tim. that have been recently and inaccurately translated as “homosexual” . I have given sound basic arguments that shine a strong light on the dubious nature of the recent translations. I have shown how the tradition and history of the church including Luther has a different understanding of those verses and, more importantly, that word.

        You mention the Wisconsin and Missouri Synod and i guess assume that the LCA has a different public stand than these churches. That is not the case. The LCA…my church…have held the same views as your church. The views I express here are my own… not the public teaching of the LCA. But… i don’t think it matters. Wisconsin…Missouri…LCA Canadian Lutheran or the Wartburg Castle. The issue is SCRIPTURAL TRUTH.

        The things I speak, the views I hold come from my own firm conviction on the scriptural evidence. You would agree I’m sure that you are a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran because you believe that they have an accurate understanding of scripture. If it can be shown that your church’s understanding of scripture was incorrect, you would want to try to put that right. You don’t slavishly follow a tradition just because the tradition itself dictates a certain thing. You test it in the light of Scripture.

        Your church’s teachings are the norma normata: The measure that has been measured.

        But is it scripture alone that is the norma normans: The measure that measures.

        I implore you. Have a good look at what i have said in regard to the translation in these passages. if i am in error, if there is fault…let me know where. If there is value in what i say…admit it. But please don’t just cut off discussion when things get awkward and appeal to your tradition. That honours neither your tradition nor yourself.

        Respectfully yours…

        Pastor Neil Hart.

  10. Just one other thing. You said…

    “What it comes down to is that you will seek out every bit of evidence to prove your point, and we believe otherwise. We are entitled to that Scripture-based belief. We will hold to that Scripture-based belief.”

    You are so right. I HAVE, for some months now, been seeking out every bit of evidence i can find. not to prove my point, because when i started looking i didnt have a point to prove. I sort out every bit of scriptural evidence i could t find the truth. Come search with me Phil! Its kinda scary but its the only way you will ever be sure of something.

    Sola Scriptura,

    • Well, the point is what you mentioned before. I have another calling and providing devotions and discussion points is a service for our extended church family (or other believers who might read). It is not really supposed to be a forum to voice my own personal opinions, though I am happy to answer questions and comments. So I have suggested that this isn’t going very far because I have other things to do and we will not agree.

      But quickly, to be clear, the ELCA has formally approved of homosexuality for a long time. To make matters worse, in synod convention in 2010 they formally approved of homosexual pastors. (To be expected I suppose since they already approve of female pastors) But LC-MS and WELS do not formally approve of any of these. I agree not because of tradition but because I have studied Scripture and find it to say the same.

      Finally, you keep coming back to the one word arsenokoites as if that is the be all and end all or hanging point of the discussion. It’s not. However, any other good grammar like Louw Nida or BDAG can be found with a contrary opinion that it does mean homosexuality. In fact, I think BDAG says that to render it sexual pervert instead of homosexual is “lexically unacceptable”.

      • ok. if you haven’t got time… fair enough. perhaps you should jut apologise to clare then and we can all move on. or else, of course, you could continue and explain to me why you disagree with Luther’s interpretation of arsenokoitai. remember, his was “masturbators”.

        you quote BAGD. a wonderful but dated resource. Bauer’s original work was, by all accounts an astonishing masterpiece. But it was the work of one man and therefore was incomplete and had surprisingly few but significant errors. Still, not bad for a bloke who was born in 1877. Arndt and Gingrich and then Danker worked together on the second edition. published 1975. Thats the one i have. Mine doesn’t have the reference that yours has that “sexual pervert” is not acceptable. no argument from me there. But then again, i dont see anyone arguing for a translation of “sexual pervert”. there are other options which, i believe, are more faithful to the literature and the context.

        After the publication of the first edition they asked for notification of corrections updates and errors. They received “many”, said Danker, from all over the world for which they were grateful. The same invitation was then issued with the second edition and i have no doubt that these changes were included in the 3rd edition. Danker worked alone to complete the 3rd edition for about 6 years, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. A monumental effort. for which we should be thankful. It was , or is, however, largely one mans reworking of another mans work. And that work is not a fixed thing.. It was never meant to be. Others will work on and improve it. The important factor to remember here is that lexicons are only ever a guide at best. Most Biblical scholars will actually call them just a starting point. When i say that BAGD is a dated resource I am not being disparaging. I think that Danker would have agreed with me even in 2000 or whenever it was published. Lexicons are out of date as soon as they are published.

        I had not used louw/ nida. i had heard that it was not as extensive as the BAGD. This sales write up on it seems to confirm this.

        “This is the easiest lexicon to use for general translation work, and the fastest one to look things up in. Most lexicons try to give you a feeling for the different kinds of meanings that a word might have, then point you to examples which illustrate each meaning. To really understand them, you have to digest the examples carefully. This lexicon gives fewer examples and more complete definitions, which makes it much easier to grasp the meaning quickly.”

        Fr Voelz from Concordia Seminary (is that one of the missouri synod seminaries?) in his Post Graduate Biblical Hermeneutics course describes word studies that come from lexicons as a “one way trip to oblivion” when it comes to serious linguistic analysis. He says that words mean nothing without context and a one off dictionary meaning will always limit our view. Look at Romans 7:21-23 where the word “law” is used 5 times and each time with a different meaning, 3 of which will not appear in any lexicon. The meaning of these uses of “law” is made known only through context. So, lexicons might form a useful starting point for the newcomer to biblical studies. But, as Dr Voelz states, its a shame too many pastors stay as “newcomers”.

        You know from your own linguistic studies that no greek or hebrew word exactly matches any one english word. Words have circles of meanings. When we translate we are looking for the two different language circles that have the greatest overlap. This imprecision of translation is why it is almost impossible to translate jokes because they rely on the subtleties of language which translations will never adequately pick up.

        Well, that was a LOT OF WORDS from me. Sorry, But i am trying to say that a simple, quick look in a bible dictionary just wont cut it. Especially if you are dealing with a word that is so rarely as to be almost completely unique. Much more work needs to be done. I have done a lot of that work and personally believe that the word arsenokoitai refers to “traders of man flesh” or slave traders who sold male sex slaves. The arguments that i could give for this would run way too long but i can give them if you like. All that i want you to acknowledge is that the translation of arsenokoitai as homosexual is weak to say the least. it has no supporting argumentation and quickly fails under interrogation.

        I am not fixated on the word BTW. nor do i believe that the whole argument hangs on this word. But, this is where our discussion is at and it should stay here until it is resolved. So, I repeat my question, Do you disagree with Luther’s translation of “masturbators?” If so why? Would you agree that a word that has so little historical use and context cannot be translated with any real confidence

        I respect that you are busy and I don’t expect a reply straight away. Perhaps someone else from your blog would like to enter the debate. I notice that there are the names of at least 4 pastors in the comments on this and the earlier post. Maybe one of them?

        I also notice that you found the time in your argument with Clare to respond 23 times. I will feel jealous if you don’t pay me as much attention 🙂

        By the way, I didnt realise that Danker Died in Jan this year, End of an era hey! RIP.

  11. First, thanks to Scott Barefoot for linking to this blog from Facebook. I was glad to go through this and Pastor Huebner’s reaction to Kirk Cameron’s comments.

    Though I’m certainly a little late to the discussion, I wanted to raise a point that I feel is extremely important (not to mention in direct relation to the blog topic at hand, rather than the exegetical evaluation of homosexuality that followed).

    The topic at hand is “Speaking the Truth in Love…” Here is a question to ask: Why do Christians speak out against sin? Because God says so? Maybe… But if that’s the only reason we speak out against sin, then it’s no wonder why our Biblical viewpoints are labeled heretical, bigoted, etc. Because God says lots of things that others interpret differently (as we see in the blog responses). But when it says “speak the truth in love”, what does “love” mean? Love for God? Certainly, because Jesus tells us himself that the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” [Matt 22:37]. But let’s not forget the second part of Jesus’ response to the “greatest commandment.”

    “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself;” [Matt 22:39].

    You usually see this idea of “love your neighbor as yourself” equated with Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” But is this as far as we can go with “love your neighbor?” Let me ask you this – what do you ultimately and most deeply want for yourself – for your family? Is it not to share eternal life with the Savior who took our sins away? Is this not what we want for everyone that we rub shoulders with? Isn’t this the foundation of what is meant when Jesus tells us to “love our enemies?”

    Ultimately, this is why we share God’s Word with people – not to change their lifestyle, but to change their hearts. We care enough about someone – even those we don’t know – that we want them to be in heaven with us. We do not tell someone that homosexuality is a sin because we want to torture them, we tell them because want them to be in heaven with us one day. This is showing love. If we can’t look a person in the eye and say, “I am telling you this because I care about you and want you to share in the riches of eternal life with me one day,” then a we should re-evaluate why we’re talking at them with God’s Word at all.

    Thanks to Pastor Huebner and the others who are faithfully speaking the truth – in love.

  12. Neil, I do need to break from this current discussion. It does feel like we have entered into the “merry-go-round” phase. I think both Scott Barefoot and Phil Huebner have summarized God’s position very clearly, as well as the arsenokoites debate. I don’t think you are convinced by Phil’s explanation. But even if we disagree of the usage of one word in the Bible we should look at the whole counsel of God. Genesis to Revelation speaks of sex as a gift that God has given to marriage. Outside of marriage it is sin. The Lord himself, the Creator of marriage, never gives a prescriptive direction otherwise, neither is there a descriptive example of same-sex marriage.

    Sex is a gift inside of marriage. But he has very strong words about sex outside of a marriage of one man and one woman:Hebrews 13:4
    “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

    My heart breaks for those who are plagued with same-sex attractions through no fault of their own. We need to show love for such people. As I mentioned to Scott in the above post, our church has all too often marginalized people who have such desires. We need to create an atmosphere where such people can openly confess their temptations, that we might build them up and stand by them in their continual, lifelong struggle. Anything less, will lead them to bitterness, despair, sinful rebellion, depression, or something even worse.

    Neil, I would be happy to pick up this discussion after Easter time. As for now, it seems that we are walking down two very different roads of Biblical interpretation.

    • Ben.

      Thanks for the debate so far. I appreciate the work involved leading p to easter although it has been some 5 years now since i have faced that pressure myself.

      God bless your preparations and services.

      I would like to pick up the discussion after easter…or any time really. But i have found that, to avoid confusion and to try to actually head somewhere with the discussion, one needs to stick with the one topic until it is concluded. With respect, I don’t think that has happened yet with the 1 cor and 1 Tim passages. I have posed some questions that haven’t yet been answered, Have a read of the las response I just gave to Phil’s comment. What do we make of the fact that Luther translated this word “masturbators”? Can we ever confidently translate a word that has such little contextual support. Cant we just admit that the very recent translation “homosexual” is on shaky ground? If not, why not? A simple repetition of a dictionary definition hardly answers the textual challenges involved here. anyway…hope we can pick this up later.


      • Very good. We will talk later. But again, are you saying that if the word meant “masturbators” that that means we should openly support and celebrate same-sex promiscuity?

        God’s view of homosexuality is not based on a vague Greek word that Luther translated.

        Luther had very few tools when it came to his Greek translation.

        But if you still want to obsess about this word. the Septuagint uses Arenos koiten in Leviticus 20:13. And arsenos and koiten in Lev. 18:22. Many scholars believe that Paul coined his own term based on the clear teaching from Lev. 18 and 20, which by the way is part of the eternal moral law and not the ceremonial law. Which is why Jesus didn’t need to address his Jewish audience concerning homosexuality because they would have understood what God said in Leviticus. But Paul, preaching to the gentiles, would have had to explain this teaching to a non-jewish audience.

        Again, whether you agree with my exegesis of this one word, the issue of homosexuality is not based on an interpretation of one word, but on the multiple verses and teachings on marriage that we have discussed.

        But more talks after Easter. I look forward to it.

      • I will reply but leave your till after easter if you want.

        BTW I’m not obsessing over the word. I am however being careful to clarify.

        I am certainly not saying…to quote you…

        “that if the word meant “masturbators” that that means we should openly support and celebrate same-sex promiscuity?”

        All i want to do is clarify, step by step, the different rungs of the ladder that each of us use to reach the conclusions we do on the question. It takes a while and can seem pedantic but i really think its the only way to move ahead with any clarity. By the way, i’m really pleased that you might be able to afford the time to continue after easter. Respectful debate which continues to shine strong light onto the passages involved can only bring mutual benefit.

        Your next statement said..

        “God’s view of homosexuality is not based on a vague Greek word that Luther translated.”

        I’m glad you mentioned the term “vague Greek word”. thats exactly my point I think. The word, historically, has proved enormously difficult to translate accurately. Vague would be a fair rendering of what our modern translations make of it. I am just seeking recognition of exactly that point. and the agreement that, these 2 passages should not in any way be determinative in the way we understand the homosexual question.

        You also said…

        ” Luther had very few tools when it came to his Greek translation”.

        Thats right. exactly. Each of us is limited by the restrictions that our own times and cultures place on us. We have far more resources for Bible translation than Luther. We have far more knowledge of the 1st century socio-cultural background that provides the background to the scriptures than Luther did. Luther, it seemed, in the absence of any other evidence simply assumes (guesses?) that masturbation is the right word here. Luther Got things wrong just as we do. He disagreed with Copernicus on the basis of scripture and , in that case, was proved very wrong indeed.

        I certainly don’t judge Luther, I honour him. In this instance he provides a great example of some basic translation principals.

        1. We should stand humbly under the word, being willing to say…”here is what the best evidence gives me now but because of the lack of certainty on this text, I will be cautious about applying it too quickly in judgement of other people. Jesus, Paul and Luther all spoke about the offence of troubling peoples conscience with unnecessarily laws. especially if they cause people to doubt their salvation.

        2. We need to acknowledge that the church’s understanding of scripture in various areas HAS certainly changed over the millennia.

        3. We need to be ready honestly explore any new findings, linguistic, archeological, sociological, contextual…that might challenge our existing views and be willing to re-examine scripture in the light of the new evidence. Your own theological father CFF Walther would have had to do that. He stood in favour of slavery and against the abolitionists because of his conscience driven stand on the word of God. He declared those who would abolish salvery as “wicked humanist” who “put the word of god to naught”. Luther, Melanchthon and Chemnitz all said similar things about slavery.

        So, was Walther wrong? That would be to judge him too harshly i think. he simply expressed the view of scripture as he saw it as it related to his society. His only fault was that he lacked that humility to be willing to constantly examine scripture in the light of new evidence and new cultural changes and challenges.

        It is my worry that, If I am not willing to do the same on the question of homosexuality then perhaps history will remember me, as a religious leader and theologian, with some embarrassment on this issue in 150 years time.

        The point is…times and societies always change and those changes have forced the church to rethink many things in its history. I’m just suggesting we stay on, learn from and honour that time proven path.

        you said…

        “Many scholars believe that Paul coined his own term based on the clear teaching from Lev. 18 and 20”

        Nice theory, but i hope not too many scholars hold to it. They must be really embarrased if they do. As you will see by an earlier comment of mine (i think to Phil) the word was in use long before paul was born.(admittedly evidenced only by one use) We just don’t know exactly what it means.

        Your statement about the “eternal moral law” versus “ceremonial law” is interesting. Ive never heard of that argues seriously before. If you are willing to concede that the translations in 1 Cor and 1 Tim as homosexual are very recent and have very little evidence to support them, perhaps we can move on to discuss your interesting division of the OT Law.

        What say you?

        enjoy easter.

      • Whoa! I come back after a day or two away and realised that I missed the latest episode of ‘Extreme Exegesis’! 🙂

        Glad we are continuing the discussion and it is important, for the love of God, that we always be open to hear God’s word when we speak to each other. As Neil said, I think it is best we discuss this one point at a time and so I will withhold my previous discussions while we talk about arsenokoitai.

        I came across this web page which claims it has a list of all the arsenokoi* references ever used – http://www.inherit-the-kingdom.org/bible/arsenokoites.html#further_reading (the web site looks quite old and I have not looked to see if there is an updated version). They provide some translations to English but also the Greek as well (think you need to install the font to read the Greek in the browser).

        I don’t think that the translation of arsenokoitai is the be all and end all of the debate, however it is a good starting point for the rest of the discussion. Personally, from what I have read I don’t think the translation of masturbators is correct either, but I have no Greek language training and my interpretation relies on just reading the various translations to English that I have seen, so by no means an exegetical study.

        Ben – By no means are we fighting for sexual promiscuity for hetero or homosexuals. That is not celebratory of our God-given sexuality no matter who is being promiscuous, gay or straight. What we are talking about here is two people in a loving, consensual, monogamous, committed relationship entered into for life (sounds a lot like marriage to me 🙂 ). The same type of relationship that you have with you and I have with our wives, except the two of them happen to be of the same sex.

        Great to hear that other Lutheran churches have accepted that love between two people of the same sex is accepted and even celebrated as a God-given gift. I wish our church was like that. And pastors as well! Wow! From the way
        our LCA described it, the world was going to end, but it obviously didn’t! 😛

        My only point to add to the debate, is, I don’t think by any means that arsenokoitai is talking about love of any sort. Looking forward to continuing the discussion after Easter.

        I pray that your Easter preparations go smoothly and that you all have a blessed Lenten period.

      • PS Can’t wait until they build that Time Machine!

  13. It’s undeniable. The United States of America is seeing the light as more states pass gay marriage into law. (12 states now). Some right wing Christians will see this as a victory for Satan, but they are wrong. Many fighting for gay equality are Christians, but the religious right will say these Pro-Gay Christians are false prophets who are leading our country into destruction and souls into Hell. Again, they are wrong!
    What these right wing Christians do not understand is that NOWHERE in Scripture is same gender LOVE (between two consenting, committed, monogamous adults) mentioned. Take a look at all the “clobber” passages they rely on as CLEAR evidence that ALL homosexual behavior is condemned. Not one passage depicts LOVE. Yet, the right win continues to include LOVE into the picture Scripture paints.
    When will you who believe homosexual love is a sin see how you are perceiving these passages through your own eyes of prejudice and fear?

  1. Pingback: Poor christians | Clare Flourish

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