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10 Commandments of Biblical Christianity

Heart lens of the Bible

I have regularly stated and written that fundamentalists and antitheists read the Bible with the same approach. Both treat every verse as if they are of equal status, come from the same consistent author, and are all equally true in a literalistic way. Fundamentalists shred the Bible and then paste together unrelated verses to produce a scary god. Antitheists shred the Bible and paste together unrelated verses to produce a silly god.

So often, people speak and write as if they have exclusive rights to use the word “biblical” when they are using the term as a synonym for “agreeing with them”. My opinion about something may differ from theirs, but I have devoted my life to being biblical. I put years and years into laboriously learning Hebrew and Greek. I have traveled extensively to Palestine/Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and to the great museums of the world, trying to learn about biblical archaeology and history. I have a lifelong enthusiasm to try to understand the cultural context of the biblical material. My passion is to help people connect the biblical stories to our contemporary context. I preach from the Bible several times a week. This website is done as a gift – often to help people make these connections. There isn’t a day that goes by when I do not use the Bible. And it is the primary provider for my prayer life.

Many readers here will, I hope, identify with my annoyance at the hijacking of the word “biblical”. I want to reclaim the word “biblical”.

Recently, I was pointed to 16 Ways Progressive Christians Interpret the Bible. I want to take some of the ideas presented there and express them as:

10 Commandments of Biblical Christianity

1) Biblical Christianity takes the Bible too seriously to treat all the texts as if they belonged to a single genre. Some biblical texts are historical, some are parables, some are metaphorical, some are letters…

2) Biblical Christianity does not regard the Bible to have been dictated word for word. You can distinguish the style of writing of one text from another.

3) Biblical Christianity recognises that not all of the Bible has equal status – there are bleak passages, passages we wouldn’t uphold now. The Bible is not a sanitised text. Just because it is in the Bible doesn’t mean we support every point within it.

4) Biblical Christianity prays with the Bible.

5) Biblical Christianity supports critical appreciation of tradition, reason, science, and experience as sources of truth.

6) Biblical Christianity acknowledges that there can be multiple readings of the same text.

7) Biblical Christianity appreciates biblical scholarship: knowledge of the original languages, culture, and history.

8) Biblical Christianity reads the Bible in its textual context rather than simply pasting together verses from quite different contexts and times.

9) Biblical Christianity uses a hermeneutic of compassion, love, and justice – interpreting the Bible through the loving lens that we see Jesus using. Biblical Christianity acknowledges that it reads the Bible in a particular manner.

10) Biblical Christianity allows scripture to interpret scripture.

11) Biblical Christianity reads, interprets, and prays with the Bible in community.

[That’s right – in the Bible there are not actually only 10 commandments in the “10 commandments”.]

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53 Responses to 10 Commandments of Biblical Christianity

  1. A good summary of a good article. I think many (but not all) of my conservative friends would agree with most (but not all) of these points. Co-incidenrally I recently ordered a copy of “5 views on Biblical Inerrancy” and am looking forward to it. One point I fankly disagree with is the Patheos’ article’s comment on a “pecking order” for certain New Testament books. (Well, I do actually have my own pecking order, but that means “books that feel like home base” – Gospels+Acts.) Another point, the hermeneutical lens, I do agree with and is evident in Jesus’ summary of the Law and the Prophets. Jonathan.

  2. I’m wondering, Father B, how you would respond to a biblical literalist who is cutting and pasting passages when they rebut the accusation stating that they are allowing scripture to interpret scripture?

    • I think, David, that it is generally difficult to respond to biblical literalists at all – they are moving within a for-them consistent worldview. Much like there’s no real retort to those who think the world is flat; or those who think that I am actually in a computer simulation.

      I would think that interpreting a shredded verse or passage begins within its own literary context. Beyond that, other passages can help to bring light to this verse/passage set within its context.

      An example: the story of Sodom might be difficult to interpret sitting by itself. We are clearly within the Yahwist tradition of the late tenth to possibly even the eighth century BCE. Ezekiel, a couple of centuries later, clarifies the story: “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.” (Ezekiel 16:49-50).

      Easter Season Blessings.

  3. Thanks Bosco, I absolutely agree and find it especially frustrating when I hear that semi-fantastical thing called ‘biblical marriage’ thrown into discussions. If anyone took time to study the many images and values of marriage apparent in scripture, they would find a wide variety, some of which are quite alien to us now. Like you, the bible has a high value in my life: I’ve studied it personally and academically over many years, I preach from it at least weekly, I pray with it. I found the video documentary recently released with thoughts from a number of wonderful biblical scholars (i.e., ‘scholars of the bible’) reflecting on the bible and same-sex attraction excellent, and I hope a wide range of people see it: http://timeforlove.co.nz

    • Thanks, Clare, especially for highlighting this video – which I hope readers here who haven’t seen it will take time for. Like you, I am irked by the oversimplified, distorted parody of “biblical marriage” which reduces it to twentieth-century suburban nuclear family images. This essentially-dishonest approach, sadly, works both ways: those following it end up not examining arguments for committed same-sex couples; and those who accept committed same-sex couples often don’t examine Christian claims as they assume that the Bible cannot be read to include their understanding. Easter Season Blessings.

      • Excellent discussion video, thanks Clare.

        ‘Christianity is risk…’ powerful statement; yes it is, always was.

          • I got up early to do so, and yes it was. Thanks Bosco.

            ‘To show kindness requires us to sacrifice without expecting reward or return, to show humility requires us to give up power, to act with meekness requires us to open up and risk hurt and to live in the service of others requires us to count them better than ourselves.’ ( Bishop Sarah )

            Timely, needed to hear this!

            Seeing Netta win Eurovision with a platform which asks a lot of questions of ‘Biblical Christianity’ it’s a big reminder that the social justice issues of 2000 years ago persist, and will demand to be addressed in every era where people are brave and motivated enough to say ‘this is not fair, this is not right, don’t ill-treat others, don’t ill-treat me…’

            ‘Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.’ Yet the wisdom within Proverbs has really been used against women down the years…prime example of hijacking of the “biblical” and using the bible to promote and uphold gender prejudice and other evils.

  4. I get annoyed when people tell me what I, as a Christian, believe. Ask me and I will tell you, don’t assume that I (and many others) hold certain beliefs because a strident minority dominate the public sphere. My God is way bigger than the literal words of the Bible. I love words and as an academic use them all the time, teasing out meaning, making sense of the world through words, but words by themselves cannot contain God. The Word is much greater.

  5. ‘Where is the leadership of the Christianity we are describing in the public sphere?’

    A hymn we grew up with in England by Unitarian American female hymnodist Love Maria Willis ( and thought to be reworked into this form by poet Longfellow ) is this:

    ‘Father, hear the prayer we offer:
    not for ease that prayer shall be,
    but for strength that we may ever
    live our lives courageously.

    Not for ever in green pastures
    do we ask our way to be;
    but the steep and rugged pathway
    may we tread rejoicingly.

    Not for ever by still waters
    would we idly rest and stay;
    but would smite the living fountains
    from the rocks along our way.

    Be our strength in hours of weakness,
    in our wanderings be our guide;
    through endeavour, failure, danger,
    Father, be thou at our side.’

    The clergy do largely live lives of privilege and ease at least in Europe, and the US, and NZ, and it would not be in their interest to jeopardize career plan, pension, salary, benefits, not to mention the cult of community, just to be on the right side of an issue spiritually. Sorry if that sounds cynical, but to be more biblical about it: ‘the spirit is ready but the flesh is weak.’

    There is only one unforgivable sin according to Jesus, even that in translation has been weakened to the point of meaningless, but it’s basically not taking seriously the spiritual. I guess that can be anything from not speaking out against injustice, not helping those in need, preaching hateful messages, or being disparaging against those who seek ethical ideals:
    ‘the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

    Thanks for your gift of Liturgy Bosco.

  6. When I was younger and struggling to move beyond fundamentalism, I read the striking claim from St. Augustine of Hippo — that any interpretation of a biblical passage is valid as long as it serves to promote charity. (I’m paraphrasing from memory, so I hope I’m remembering correctly.) I’m still moved by the sane wisdom of Augustine’s position.

    • Thanks, Duane. I’m not exactly sure of your quote, but readers might like Confessions XII.27 where Augustine teaches that we might end up with an interpretation different from what the human author intended. And in On Christian Teaching 3, Augustine proposes that we read scriptures that are consistent with the command to love literally. However, he writes that a passage that appears to be in conflict with the command to love should be interpreted figuratively. Easter Season Blessings.

  7. ‘[Love] is no substitute for justice withheld’ is the St Augustine-attributed quote in my mind this week. We can speak out gently, privately, within our groups and causes, to our leaders- but I believe we must speak out.

    Proverbs 31 again, ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are down-trodden.’

    It’s in the timeforlove.co.nz video Clare posted above, the way the minority view is what changes history.

  8. I’ve seen very little clear biblical criticism of Israel Folau’s words from within the church. But I have heard privately spoken opinions that he is right! I don’t agree: not only is it not ours to judge (as some have already pointed out), but also the scriptures do not give us enough to go on to say that they are all going to hell. We can understand that they will not inherit the Kingdom of God and will have to face judgment one day, but final judgment must be left to the one who judges righteously, who takes all things into account – ignorance, culture and times and events, what sort of witness the church is giving them etc. We remember Jesus’ words “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.” We also remember that Jesus was at his most scathing when addressing deliberate and wilful unbelief in the face of clearly evident truth (and personally I don’t think most of the lgbt community are in this category). And we remember his continuing patience with us in our ignorance and unbelief.
    But none of this gives us the go-ahead to endorse same-sex relationships, as Motion 29 has done. This is not unloving fundamentalism speaking; it is remembering Jesus’ view of sexual chastity (from Gen 1&2) – one man, one woman, for life – and remembering his clear instruction of the things that make us unacceptable to God (including sexual unchastity); he described them as evil thoughts that come from the heart, defiling us. Did he say these things because he loved us and wanted us to find life, or because he was an unloving fundamentalist with a personal agenda?
    We should get alongside sinners and help them in their struggles, but we should never endorse sin.

    • Thank, Martin.

      Can you clarify your position on marriage being “one man, one woman, for life”, please?
      So, you do not accept that Jacob was married to Rachel (Genesis 29: 28)?
      And you think that NZ Anglicanism has been apostate since it allowed divorce and remarriage – thereby endorsing sin?

      Easter Season Blessings.

      • Jesus’ view was one man, one woman for life, because that is what the passages in Genesis clearly describe (Gen 1.27, 2.24). Same-sex relationships are excluded. In treating these passages as authoritative Jesus mandated this for all of us (Mat 19.4-6).
        Re divorce: No, I don’t think we have been apostate in allowing divorce and remarriage. We should always be ready to forgive and restore someone who repents of a marriage failure and therefore allow remarriage, but we should never endorse the practice of divorce and remarriage. Two different things. NZ Anglicanism has never endorsed divorce and remarriage.
        Re Rachel and Jacob: They were married. God allows things to happen that are not his original design and order, and takes account of cultural ignorance. But what we are seeing now in the Anglican Church is not provision for things done in cultural ignorance; we are seeing endorsement of ongoing practice that Jesus defines as a sin of the heart, defiling us. We have the teachings of Jesus; Jacob and Rachel did not. In that respect they were innocent; but how can the church claim innocence, when Jesus’ teachings are so clear? “If we live by the flesh we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the flesh, we will live.” We have totally lost our way. The passing of Motion29 proves it conclusively. I hear of many good leaders in the process of leaving the church, including the vicar in my own church. I am gutted.

        • I am sorry you are gutted, Martin. Which is the vicar who is leaving?

          When you say “we should always” have allowed marriage to someone else after divorce etc – you are describing what the Anglican Church did not allow for 2,000 years after Jesus. Your interpretation of Jesus’ teaching is, hence, a very new practice in our Church. Your claim that “NZ Anglicanism has never endorsed divorce and remarriage” is, in my reading, simply a playing with words.

          You would have God allow polygamy to heterosexuals, but do not allow committed monogamy to homosexuals.

          Please quote accurately where in the Bible polygamy is forbidden. Of course, in the Genesis story it was one man, one woman, for life – there’s no one else around in the story!!! Are you saying that Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15 are not God’s teaching?

          Easter Season Blessings.

    • I’ve waited a sufficient number of days to see if someone besides Bosco would respond here.

      not only is it not ours to judge

      I don’t think that is true. I think that we have been given a qualification regarding judging others, mainly that we need to worry that we ourselves measure up to the standard by which we judge long before thinking that we are in a place to judge someone else.

      the scriptures do not give us enough to go on to say that they are all going to hell. We can understand that they will not inherit the Kingdom of God and will have to face judgment one day

      First I would like to ask where you think someone ends up if they don’t inherit the Kingdom of God? What would be the difference in that place and Hell? Why would LGBTQ folks not inherit the Kingdom of God? How in your opinion will?

      • Whoinherits the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’? That’s easy David, and thanks for drawing attention:

        ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’

  9. A commandment about the impact of different translations into English of some key words in some key passages would be good.

    • I’m sure Ralph, that you meant to say comment and not commandment. Likely your comment fell victim to the folly of a spelling checker!

      Here is a website that offers alternative understandings of the 6 clobber passages that are thrown at LGBTQ folks by biblical literalists.
      http://hoperemainsonline.com

      Here is a truly unique insight to what may be occurring in Romans chapter 1 of the clobber passages.
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2013/10/romans-126-27-a-clobber-passage-that-should-lose-its-wallop/

      I can’t find the website where I first read this, but an alternative translation to that offered at Hope Remains to the Levitical passages is not that they refer to a woman’s bed, but that they refer to the “layings of a woman.” Meaning a woman’s role in sexual intercourse. In essence, the argument is that Leviticus is not forbidding a relationship with another man, but stating that the male head of household is not to take the passive/receptive part in such a relationship.
      “A man is not to lie the layings of a woman with another male.”
      Anthropologists confirm that this was infact the law for the male head of household in most all of the Near Eastern cultures around Israel of ancient times. We would understand in today’s vernacular that the master of the house wasn’t forbidden sexual relationships with other males, he just couldn’t be the bottom.

  10. ‘We have also a more sure word of prophecy; where unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any personal interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
    But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.’ ( 2 Peter 1 and 2 )

    Jesus: ‘He that loves me not keeps not my sayings: but the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.’ ( John 14 )

    That speaks to me.

  11. Biblical Christianity acknowledges that the English words used to translate Hebrew or Greek original words can affect the social and ethical impact of some verses often quoted; “nor men who practice homosexuality” 1 Corinthians 6:9 in the English Standard Version.

  12. If refusal to remarry in any circumstance has been the practice of the church for 2000 years, we seem to have forgotten key teachings on forgiveness! (Lord’s Prayer, Parable of merciless servant, etc). I’m not playing with words: I’m saying there is a difference between allowing remarriage to a penitent divorcee, and endorsing the practice of divorce and remarriage. One we should always be ready to do (because that is what Jesus tells us to do) the other we should never do, for that would be to say that sin doesn’t matter. It matters: understanding of this is vital for maintaining life in Christ.
    And I am against endorsing homosexual practice, not against allowing such people to have a place in our churches. Just as God made a place for all of us. None of us became sinless overnight; the bible allows sin in our ignorance and hardness of heart, and God is patient as we learn to live by the Spirit; still, we are expected to grow. We are expected to learn what defiles us, makes us unacceptable to God, and change according to what we have learned. But the bible never endorses sin, never says that the practice of sin is ok.
    Re Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15: these are surely verses of allowance, not verses of endorsement. It would be perverse to say that these verses show that God wants us to have multiple wives. They rather say that the customs of the times allowed polygamy, and God was allowing for it in the laws of Moses and putting boundaries around it. The problem for us who call ourselves Christian, is that Jesus pointed to Gen1-2 as our authority, so polygamy is out of bounds for us. The fact that there were only two people alive at the time of Gen 1-2 is irrelevant: the passages clearly cover us all: for instance, Adam did not have a Mother and Father, so the verses have to apply to future generations, the rest of us who do have a mother and father.

    • Thanks, Martin. Your logic may satisfy you and some others. Please accept it does not satisfy all of us.

      Divorcees could not marry in NZ Anglicanism until the canon was changed in 1970.

      Jesus’ quote of Gen 2:24 was in response to the question of divorce – if you want to stretch it to be about homosexuals and polygamy, that, again, may satisfy your own and some others’ logic. Again: I am not convinced.

      I see no explicit condemnation of polygamy in the Bible. That doesn’t mean I am arguing in favour of it – I’m simply being honest about the texts before us.

      Easter Season Blessings.

  13. I didn’t say that Jesus was talking about homosexuality or polygamy; I know he was talking about divorce. You missed the logic of my argument. My point is that the Genesis passages exclude homosexuality and polygamy, and Jesus pointed to the Genesis passages as our authority. The fact that he happened to be talking about divorce does not change the authority or the intent of the genesis passages. Therefore, Jesus’ view of sexual chastity was “one man, one woman, for life – the intent of the Genesis passages. This excludes both homosexuality and polygamy.
    He further said that anything outside of this – sexual immorality – is “evil thoughts coming out of the heart”, “defiling us”. Do you not agree that Jesus’ view counts for something here – that we should follow his teaching on the matter? Can something that Jesus describes as evil ever be anything except explicitly condemned by him?
    Where exactly do you find a fault in this logic?

    • Thanks, Martin.

      The Bible has authority – not simply the verses that Jesus quotes.
      Your connection of the Mark 7/Matthew 15 “evil intentions” verses to Jesus’ teaching against divorce is simply that – your connection. Pasting together disparate verses is explicitly censured in the post to which you are responding (Commandment 8).
      As to your assertion that the intent of Gen 2:24 is to exclude both homosexuality and polygamy – again, others might agree with your exegesis. I think you are drawing a long bow.

      Blessings.

    • I think that Jesus’ use of the Genesis passage in his teaching on divorce did rule out polygamy but I do not think the human authors of Genesis thought that.

      As far as we know, Jesus never said anything against homosexuality, and neither does the bible.

      Blessings

      • I know that others disagree with me. I’m at a loss as to the reasoning behind their disagreement.
        “A man will cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”. Not to “his wives” (if polygamy was also in mind), and not to “his partner” (if homosexuality was also in mind). Sounds pretty clear to me. What am I not seeing here? Jesus surely had the view of normal monogamous marriage for life in mind. If not, please explain why not.
        Likewise, having understood Jesus’ view of sexual chastity, why is it wrong to look at how Jesus describes sexual unchastity? I’m genuinely interested: on what grounds could you call it a disparate connection? Am I missing something here too? It seems such an obvious, reasonable connection to follow up. And they are clear-cut, unambiguous scriptures. One describes sexual chastity; the other, sexual immorality. Both mutually exclusive opposites in my mind. Again, if not, please explain why not.

        • Thanks, Martin.

          The verbs in Gen 2:24 are not commands in the sense that you are using them. It is the imperfect of עָזַב: “Therefore does a man leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they become one flesh.”

          The story simply could not describe polygamy as it only has God as having created two persons at this point. Your suggestion that the story could possibly have followed God creating a man and a woman with “Therefore does a man leave his father and his mother and cling to his wives…” would have wrecked the story.

          Blessings.

        • Martin, there is a saying – To a hammer, everything is a nail. On this topic you appear as a hammer. A hammer was created for basically pounding nails. It has been schooled in that purpose. You have grown up with a constant concept of marriage and what it is, one man & one woman, clinging to one another and no one else. And heaven help the fool that comes between them. I see you projecting that concept of marriage on everything that the Bible may say about marriage, regardless of the fact that you may be reading much more into a passage than appears at face value.

          Regarding Jesus and those trying to trip him up with their questions, I see you reading much more into that passage than is there at face value. The question was about divorce, was it OK for a man to divorce his wife for any reason. And Jesus gives and answer drawn from Hebrew Scripture, which they should have all been aware, regarding the nature of the relationship between a husband & wife.

          The issue that I have with your approach with that, or as you phrase it, your logic, is that you read a presupposition on the part of Jesus that isn’t in the passage. You have Jesus setting up his answer with something that he never said, “Hey dudes, Pharisees, you homies who have trekked all the way out here east of Jordan to try and catch me teaching something false, before I answer your question, I need to tell you my concept of the only acceptable, the only legitimate version of marriage; one man & one woman. That’s it and there is no other kosher form of intimate relationship between human beings. Now that I have taught you that, let me answer your question about divorce.”

  14. David: As I said before, the fact that Jesus was talking about divorce does not change the intent of the Genesis 1 and 2 passages, nor the authority that Jesus assigned those passages. The passages are clear in their intent: God intended man and woman to have a life-long monogamous relationship. There is no other reasonable interpretation. “A man will cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. Polygamy or homosexuality? No reasonable reading can construe that. Jesus made it clear that other biblical teachings about marriage are secondary to Genesis. Provisos for divorce in the Laws of Moses are specifically mentioned, but other teachings like laws around polygamy are by implication secondary also.
    Bosco: “Gen 2:24 are not commands in the sense that you are using them”. The meaning is Spiritual, an act of God. Jesus was pretty emphatic about their meaning. God made them male and female; He joins the two together, and they become one flesh.
    You haven’t answered my question about “pasting together disparate verses”. The point of being a Christian is belief in Christ; that is the path to eternal life. We believe in his death for our sins and resurrection for our life, AND his teaching (“Why call me ‘Lord, Lord’ …”). We are sanctified by the truth. He taught us things so that we might learn how to life by His Spirit and turn away from a life of following the flesh. To do this, we have to be clear about what is Spirit and what is flesh. Therefore it makes absolute sense to check out his view of sexual unchastity alongside his view of chastity. This is not “pasting together disparate verses”: it is getting a clear picture of Jesus’ teachings. We can turn around his plain teachings if we like, but we harm ourselves by doing so. The truth is clear: Jesus’ view was life-long monogamous relationship between a man and a woman, and things outside of this are evil, coming from inside and defile a person. One is in line with the Spirit, the other is flesh. The importance of this cannot be over-stressed: as Paul said, “If you live by the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the flesh, you will live.” If we mix flesh and Spirit, we cannot find life.
    As I said before, Jesus taught us such things, not because he was an unloving fundamentalist, but because he loved us and wanted us to find life.

    • Thanks, Martin.

      1) I know nothing about you, your context or circumstances. In Real Life, I minister to one of the largest communities in our Church. In the midst of an extremely busy life and ministry, I snatch minutes to voluntarily run this website. I am not obliged to answer questions. No one is obliged to answer another’s questions here. You are welcome to ask questions – of me or someone commenting here; but there is no expectation that you will have your questions answered.

      2) This is now your sixth comment on this post. The post made no mention of committed same-sex couples. That committed same-sex couples are a keen interest of yours is fine, of course. But you talk about being genuinely interested – if you are: there are plenty of books that would inform your interest; and plenty of websites that have a more focused preoccupation with committed same-sex couples.

      3) Your response about pasting together disparate verses reads as being ironic: your justification for pasting together Bible verses pastes ideas from the Synoptics to the Fourth Gospel to Paul’s letter to the Galatians and to the Romans.

      4) You justify your own acceptance of marriage of divorcees by having other things trump the teaching of Jesus on marriage that you keep repeating. Please accept that for others of us, that same methodology leads us to accept that committed same-sex couples do not fit into the picture you paint.

      Blessings.

  15. I’ve read the arguments. For me it was time to talk to someone who might be able to answer my objections (or, if I am right, bring them to agreement). If you don’t want to answer them, that is up to you.
    The trump for “let no man put asunder” is Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness of penitents. Hardly unreasonable: of Jesus’ commands to us, there is little that is higher-ranking than forgiveness.
    The arguments given to justify blessing same-sex relationships don’t withstand critical examination: “Jesus never talked about homosexuality” (he didn’t need to; he assigned authority to the Genesis passages which exclude it); similarity of blessing same-sex relationships to remarriage of divorcees (but there’s a difference between forgiving a penitent divorcee, and blessing serial divorce – the true analogy); same-sex relationships belong in Romans 14 (disputable matters, eating pork etc; but sins of the heart are not disputable: they defile us); “christian love” (but true love helps others, through the truth, gain the kingdom of Heaven, not shut them out). Have I missed anything?
    You imply my reference to Rom8.13 is another example of my pasting together disparate verses. But there is a glaringly obvious connection between Jesus’ sins of the heart that defile us, and Paul’s misdeeds of the body that will shut us out of the kingdom of heaven. Likewise the reference to being sanctified by the truth (John17.7): sins of the heart defile us, and knowledge of this will sanctify us – if we believe the teaching.
    If you do not wish to reply, that is up to you. But your answers don’t begin to show any error in my position. Perhaps you could suggest someone who is able to show where my position contradicts the bible? Or more to the point (and I am not being hostile), shouldn’t you re-validate your own position against scripture? Supporting something that will rob the gospel of its power to save is not, after all, a recommended course of action. Or am I making a disparate connection again?

    • Thanks, Martin,

      Please, would you at least do me the courtesy, on my own site, of not inventing motivations for my not responding to every question you pose here? Especially when I have explicitly explained that my reasons are actually limitations on my time and energy. Are you suggesting that I am publicly lying? There is no sense that “I do not want to answer” or “do not wish to reply”.

      No one here has suggested that your position contradicts the bible – that again is your contention.

      You simply have quite different lenses you bring to your reading of the scriptures, and, whilst I understand your lenses well, you appear to make no effort whatsoever to try on the lenses that I (and others here) are wearing.

      For you, a sexual relationship with another while the spouse to whom one is married “for life” is still alive might be adulterous, but forgiving this means one can continue this adulterous relationship, bless it, and call it a marriage. But one cannot apply this as a model for the “man and woman” part of the same teaching.

      You give no indication of what books you have actually read – so no one here can offer you any further reading.

      I am sorry you have not found here satisfaction to talk to someone who might be able to answer your objections to committed same-sex couples. It really is not the primary focus of this site – though the discussion does occur here. There are plenty of people In Real Life with whom you can have these conversations – including the vast majority of General Synod reps who voted in favour of allowing blessing of committed same-sex couples to formally proceed.

      Pentecost Day Blessings.

    • One of the challenges in reading sacred scripture is that we all bring our preconceptions to the text and read the text in the light of those preconceptions. Instead of doing good exegesis (trying to understand the text both in terms of what the original author meant to say (the literal meaning), and in what it says to us today), we too easily slide into isogesis (reading into the text what we would like it to say).

      There is nothing in the gospel or the torah against loving monogamous homosexual relationships, including sexual relationships. Jesus never taught that. That is something we have brought into the text from our own social attitudes / prejudices.

      The Catholic Church is at least honest about this, basing our teaching not on any particular biblical passages but on a theology of the meaning of marriage and sex. A theology, of course, is a man made theory with all it’s limitations, which may not accurately reflect the biblical message.

      The challenge is to stay loyal to the gospel. Let us listen to Jesus and not to our prejudices.

      Many Blessings

      • Agreed, Chris. A parallel is found in many, many other ethical debates (genetic modification, nuclear power, online privacy) – we, hopefully, can draw on our tradition (with the scriptures sitting within that and expressing that), but gluing together Bible verses to bolster my position on genetic modification as the only way to maintain the power of the Gospel, for example, seems to confuse Christianity’s solid centre and its softer edges. Pentecost Day Blessings.

  16. David Allen (May 18,4:16pm) – Sorry I missed your questions. The judgment I was talking about is the judgment that God will pronounce on individuals on the last day for their deeds. I agree with you on the judgement you are talking about. Regarding where will someone end up if they don’t inherit the Kingdom of God, my answer is that they will face judgment, but beyond that I don’t know: I see hope in scriptures like Luk12.48, which takes into account man’s ignorance. It sounds like there are places other than eternal torment in mind. So yes, in my opinion that would provide hope for the LGBTQ community. But if I’m missing something, I’m happy to be corrected.

    Bosco:
    Re: conversing with real-life people: that is what I thought I was doing. I would have loved reasoned debate on what the bible actually teaches, hoping that that would find rational agreement. Instead I’m accused of mixing disparate verses but provided with no argument to back it up. That is not rational argument. If I’d said you were pasting together disparate verses, and then said I was too busy to explain why, you’d be questioning my motives for doing so, I suspect. If I actually thought you were mixing verses inappropriately and felt the need to say so, I would certainly explain why your argument doesn’t work. That is only fair. What you do is not fair.
    Likewise, my refusing to try on someone else’s lenses. Why would I do that if the lenses do not see what the scriptures actually teach? Your view is not an alternative reading of the gospel, it is contrary to clear teaching from the gospel. There is not a shred of support for blessing same-sex relationship in the entire bible, and more than enough to condemn it: same-sex relationship is clearly outside of the boundary set by the Genesis passages which Jesus assigned authority to, so has to be included among the sins of the heart, defiling us. Such sins are not “disputable matters”, referred to in Rom 14. They are “evils” that “defile us” – jeopardising our life in Christ. Hence 1Cor6.9 etc. You can argue til the cows come home about the greek meaning of Paul’s words, but it doesn’t change anything. Paul is just giving a few examples. Making a practice of sins of the heart will shut us out of the Kingdom of God. Is this mixing disparate verses? Hardly. The scriptures align exactly.

    I agree, divorce and remarriage is certainly not a model for “one man, one woman”. Adultery is a sin. But forgivable, as Jesus showed us. A man’s forgiven sins are as far from him as east is from west. “Remember not the sins of my youth”. That is the nature of forgiveness. God allows us to put our sins behind us. In such circumstances, a man may remarry, his marriage blessed by God.

    • Martin,
      “In Real Life” (here and here) on the internet refers to “not on the internet” – it is regularly abbreviated as “irl” or “IRL”.
      “Pasting together disparate verses” refers to combining a quote, for example, from the Synoptics with one from the Fourth Gospel with another in Paul’s letter to the Galatians and to the Romans.
      Blessings.

      • IRL – I was not aware. Thank you.
        Re disparate verses: but to be disparate, there would need to be false reasoning or unjustifiable connection, wouldn’t you agree? Relating quotes from synoptic, fourth gospel, two letters might be perfectly reasonable – for example if you were trying to show the harmony of the Gospel message across the New Testament?

  17. “… we too easily slide into isogesis (reading into the text what we would like it to say).
    There is nothing in the gospel or the torah against loving monogamous homosexual relationships, including sexual relationships. Jesus never taught that.”
    Breath-taking. I’m interested in your isogensis of quite a few very obvious texts!

    • Any claim that the gospel is against homosexuality is, by definition, isogesis, because none of the 4 Gospel accounts say anything against homosexuality. And none of the other New Testament verses which are sometimes supposed to be against loving monogamous homosexual acts in committed relationships claim to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

      As for the Torah, Rabbi Jacob Milgrom’s masterful 3 volume work on Leviticus in the Anchor Bible establishes clearly that the verse there only applies to male Jews living in Israel in a particular historical context. It probably does not refer to loving same sex acts as the corresponding verse in Deuteronomy refers to temple prostitution.

      I used to think, like you, Martin that the bible did teach against homosexuality, but a deeper examination convinced me that is not the case.

      Many Blessings

    • What texts would those be Martin?

      If you are going to say the clobber passages, please don’t bother, we, as the LGBTQ community, have dealt with them 100s of times over the past 50 years. We don’t agree that they say what folks have traditionally said that they say. The argument is old and dead. We’ve moved on and we don’t owe anyone a waste of our time on the subject any longer.

      The clobber passages:
      Gen 19
      Lev 18:22
      Lev 20:13
      Rom 1
      1 Cor 6:9
      1 Tim 1:10

      If you know of new revelation from God that we are unaware of and you wish us to consider adding it to the canon, let’s hear about it.

      Because I find nothing in scripture to condemn same sex relationships*, I know of nothing to hinder same sex marriage. And because I believe that the bishops of the Anglican Church to which I belong (TEC), as the successors to the Apostles, hold the keys to the Commonwealth of God and what they bind & loose on earth is respected by God in Heaven, our little corner of the Church of God, officiates and blesses Holy Matrimony between two people qualified in every other manner, regardless of the sex of the individuals.

      *I also believe that Jesus fully had the opportunity to speak against same sex relationships and chose not to when he healed the Roman Centurion’s beloved “boy.”

  18. One thing I’d add. When Biblical Christians state that we don’t interpret everything in the Bible purely literally, atheists and anti-theists often respond by claiming that we cherry-pick texts. We pick out as literal, they claim, texts that are “convenient” in some way for us (they never define the word), and we ignore as metaphorical those that are inconvenient.

    If that were true, the Catholic Church wouldn’t bother with its teaching on divorce. Statements about “bless those who curse you” would be out the window. And surely the idea that looking at a woman with lust is adultery couldn’t possibly be meant literally.

    This is not what we do. Although Biblical Christians do not interpret the Bible literally in every word, neither do they interpret the Bible purely so as to be easy on us. They have a different standard.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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