A Progressive Christian Blog

Part I – UnClobber: A Survey of Homosexuality in the Bible


As announced on Monday, I will be launching a new blog series called, UnClobber: A Survey of Homosexuality in the Bible.

My hope is to spend the next few weeks sharing with you some of the insights I’ve gained through my study of homosexuality in the Bible.

This could possibly be one of the most important issues of our generation, and while some may be content to ignore it or dismiss it, I feel compelled to be a voice calling out for love, for understanding, for education, for compassion.

I follow Jesus as best I can. And this, my friends, is where I believe Jesus is currently leading me. And so, as unpopular as it may be, I am following.

And I invite you to as well.

“Is homosexuality a sin?”

That question, all four words of it, are for many Christians the first four words and (sadly) the last four words in a conversation about homosexuality. There is essentially only one question to ask, and depending on how you answer it you will either find yourself on their side or against them. Furthermore, what most people mean when they ask this question is, “Is homosexual sex a sin?”

I’ve been asked this question a lot lately, and I hesitate to answer it, because I’m much more interested in elevating the conversation than I am trying to boil it down to a simple “yes” or “no.” It’s not so much that the question is not important, rather I get frustrated that it’s the only question so many Christians care about.

When I reply back with, “well, it’s not that simple… I can’t really say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” this is what I mean:

Imagine I were to ask you,  “is heterosexuality is a sin?”

How might you respond?

You certainly would not be content with just ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Neither of those answers would make sense or do justice to the question. Probably your answer would involve some version of the following: “Within the context of a loving, committed, monogamous relationship/marriage, then of course two people of the opposite sex having sex is not sinful. But if it’s heterosexual activity outside those confines, then I would say that it is a sin.”

So is heterosexuality (sexual activity between people of the opposite sex) a sin?

Sometimes yes.
Sometimes no.

Likewise, if you ask me is homosexuality (sexual activity between people of the same sex) a sin?

Sometimes yes.
Sometimes no.

Most Christians I come across would not allow any space or nuance to answer the above question like I have when it comes to homosexuality. Using the Bible as their handbook, they feel confident that homosexuality is always a sin, no matter what.

I disagree.

In this series, UnClobber: A Survey of Homosexuality in the Bible, I won’t be covering every nuance of this issue. The scope is much too great, and my knowledge is far too thin. Rather, I’m going to target my approach specifically to wrestling with the handful of passages in the Bible that are commonly used in arguing the sinfulness of homosexuality. These passages are affectionately referred to as the Clobber Passages.

And let me say this, I realize there are several ways that the Bible gets used against homosexuality. (Pause… re-read that last sentence. Don’t you just inherently feel queasy inside with the sentiment of using the Bible against something or someONE? Ugh… I do). Utilizing the Clobber Passages is just one approach to arguing for the sinfulness of homosexuality, and I believe it is the weakest approach (as this series aims to point out). There are other ways people go about it (from a covenantal perspective or from an ‘image of God’ perspective, for example) but I’m less interested in that for the time being.  I also recognize that in other traditions (i.e Catholic, Orthodox, etc) utilizing the Bible is only one of several avenues by which they argue against homosexuality. Again, that will not be the focus of this series.

I’m interested in unsettling the way that many Christians use the Clobber Passages to argue against homosexuality.

What are the Questions Being Asked?

Entertaining the above question for just a moment (“is homosexuality a sin”), what assumptions are being made by the person/institution asking such a question? I think when someone asks that question they are doing so because in their mind they have been convinced (or told) that the Bible gives an answer to that question. The Bible, it is presumed, gives a definitive answer to the question “is homosexuality a sin.”

If that were the case, then one would expect to find both a quantity and quality of passages in the Scriptures that effectively and clearly support such a proposition. One would expect that there exist enough texts, or at least enough clear and good texts. Or, perhaps if there aren’t very many texts, at least there ought be a few really clear and simple ones. And vice versa, if there aren’t any really good and clear passages, then perhaps there is at least a vast quantity of texts to gather together. Either way, the assumption is that the Bible is sufficient to provide an answer (which would be a “yes”) to the question “is homosexuality a sin.”

So then, how many texts actually speak to this issue? And of those texts, are there any that are clear and easily understood to sufficiently answer “yes” to the above question? For if we (the church) are going to assume such a position (that homosexuality is a sin) then we should probably make sure the Biblical ground we are standing on is secure. And if it is not (which I’m setting out to demonstrate), then where does that leave us? Can we still answer the above question? Should we still answer the above question? Are there other, more important questions that deserve our time, energy, and attention?

The Purpose of This Series

Over the course of the next few weeks I would like to go through each of the Clobber Passages and attempt to demonstrate that the “traditional” reading of these texts completely miss the point, and in no way present a reliable or reasonable case for the sinfulness of homosexuality.

(Timeout: It is helpful to define, when necessary, the terms that we use. When I say the “traditional position,” I’m referring to the conservative Christian viewpoint that presumes there is a Biblical position, backed by the Text, that pronounces homosexuality to be a sin. However, within this “tradition” there is admittedly a range of ways that this belief is expressed. For instance, on one extreme you have those that would say just being gay is an abomination, and that person will spend forever burning in hell (i.e. the folks of Westboro Baptist). Then, perhaps on the other end, you have folks that acknowledge that just to be gay is not an inherently sinful reality, but to act on that gay-ness in any way is a sin. A gay person’s lot in life, under this view, is to live a life of celibacy and sacrifice, never knowing or expressing love. The point being, that in any “traditional” view on homosexuality, the Bible clearly gives an answer regarding its sinfulness.)

I’ll be offering (for some, at least) fresh readings of the text that bring to light alternative understanding of the Clobber Passages. By pointing to historical context, textual context, and etymology, you will see that different (better?) interpretations of the Clobber Passages emerge naturally without any outside help or force.

By the end I hope to show that the burden lies on the traditionalist to show why we should still answer “yes” to the above question in light of the lack of biblical evidence. Brian McLaren, in his book “New Kind of Christianity,” refers to “fundasexualism” as a combative brand of religious fundamentalism that preoccupies itself with sexuality. Not all people who subscribe to a traditional understanding of the Clobber Passages would necessarily be fundasexualists, but my belief is that because the Bible does not provide evidence to answer “yes” to the above question, then Christians need to consider that and re-consider their stance on the issue of homosexuality. Or at the very least, cease using the Clobber Passages as proof texts to declare homosexuality a sin.

Who Will Read this Series

This series isn’t for everyone. I get it.

But some of the types of people who might be interested are:

  • Christians who have friends or family members that have come out of the closet, and maybe for the first time are looking to the Bible to really see if there’s reason to view their loved one as a “sinner,” like they’ve been told they should.
  • Christians who have grown up with the traditional perspective and never questioned it… until now. And they are thirsty for some fresh understandings that perhaps will resonate more closely with the world they live in.
  • Christians who, by nature, simply have an open mind and an open heart. They may not have spent much time thinking about homosexuality in the past, but somehow they made their way to this blog and figure, “heck, why not? I’m always open to hearing different perspectives.”
  • Christians who have had massive tension between what they feel to be true (that being gay isn’t a sin… that same-sex couples aren’t destined for hell… etc) and what they think they know to be true (the Bible, though, says it’s wrong).
  • Christians who cannot get behind the traditional perspective on this, but have never been given a way to understand the Bible differently with regards to the Clobber Passages.
  • Christians who have always believed some version of the traditional perspective on homosexuality, yet really respect other Christians who have come to different conclusions. They don’t understand how other Christians can read the same Bible and come to radically different conclusions, so they are genuinely interested in hearing someone like myself explain how I “deal” with the Clobber Passages.
  • People who are NOT Christians but are still interested in what some Christian thinkers think about homosexuality.
  • People who are gay and have never had someone affirm them. Never had someone say, “you don’t have to listen to those in your life that would seek to shame you and defeat you by throwing Bible verses at you.”
  • My mom. She’ll read it. She reads everything I write. Thanks mom.

Who Won’t Read this Series

On the flip side, I’m convinced there are many people who have no interest in a series like this. Such as:

  • Christians who have always believed the traditional perspective on the Bible and homosexuality and see no reason to question it. They rarely question anything in their Christianity. Because “questioning” something shows a lack of faith, and that displeases God.
  • Christians who have a vested interest in making sure the answer is always “yes” to the above question. Some people would be taking a huge risk in questioning the traditional position on homosexuality. Some people might lose friends, family members, their jobs, respect, belonging in a church, etc.
  • Christians who, quite frankly, are lazy. They don’t see this issue as being all that important, and don’t understand why it’s worth discussing.
  • Christians who are afraid of what they’ll find. Most people in life, if you press them, will admit that sometimes they avoid learning about certain issues because they know that once they know they won’t be able to go back. Like people who put off seeing Food Inc., because they know that if they do then they will be forced to change their eating habits. And people don’t want to change their eating habits. And Christians don’t want to have to face the possibility that perhaps they might just be wrong on this issue. Fear is HUGE in this discussion. Huge.
  • Christians who think “there couldn’t POSSIBLY be anything true to what this guy has to say. The Bible is CLEAR on this issue, and even entertaining such notions as this guy proposes is like flirting with the devil.” *shudder… scary.
  • Christians who fear the “slippery slope.” They think that an alternative reading of the Clobber Passages threatens the inerrancy of Scripture. To question the “sinfulness” of homosexuality is to question the very integrity and inerrancy of the Bible. This is to be avoided at all costs. If you’re okay with “gays” then you no longer “believe in the Bible” (whatever the hell that means). So, in an effort to avoid questioning the inerrancy of Scripture, they avoid questioning homosexuality.
  • People who can’t handle reading about sex. Especially about gay people having sex. Don’t laugh, it’s true. Some people just plain get uncomfortable with the topic, and feel icky just reading about it. So they don’t.
  • People who don’t like to read. Or, at least don’t like to read long stuff. Perhaps when I’m done, I’ll make an abridged version, “For Dummies” if you will. Maybe add some pictures.

Outline for the Series

Here’s the basic outline of what to expect in the upcoming series. Of course, as author and administrator, I reserve the right to add/change/or delete anything I want.

Part I: Introducing UnClobber: A Survey of Homosexuality in the Bible
That’s this post. Just establishing what the series will be like.

Part II: The Clobber Passages
Laying out the Clobber Passages, how they’ve been used, and.

Part III: Sodom and Gomorrah
God genocided a city because of homosexuality. Right??

Part IV: The Levitical Law
Ancient purity laws involving shrimp and sex (although preferably not together)

Part V: Paul and Homosexuality
What’s with that goofy Greek word arsenokoitai?

Part VI: Romans
Save the best for last. This is the standard go-to passage.

Part VII: For Your Consideration
A look at a few other passages worth considering

Part VIII: Learning to UnClobber
If the Clobber Passages can no longer clobber, what do we do?

Before We Begin

I will be taking a few things for granted in this series. As I stated above, this will be a specifically targeted series, and I can’t (nor do I want to) try and address everything about the issues related to homosexuality.

Homosexuality is real – I am coming from the position that gay people exist. I will be taking for granted that some people really truly are gay, and it’s not because they “choose” to be gay. This understanding is becoming less and less disputed in the Christian world, and not at all in the secular world. It is just understood that some people are gay (most estimates are as low as 2% of the population or as high as 10%). Rare nowadays is the person who still thinks that every human ever born is heterosexual, and that some just choose to be attracted towards the same-sex. And if you are that person, who doesn’t believe that gay people actually exist, then just be aware that I won’t be using this series to convince you otherwise. There are plenty of sites and resources out there that prove that homosexuality is a real thing, and that people who are gay are gay because that’s how they were born and, in part, raised (by nature and nurture).

It also should be noted that the Bible ought not be expected to give us evidence for whether or not there really are homosexual people. The Bible cannot answer this question for us. The Bible doesn’t even try. Gender identity and sexual orientation are fairly recent categorical dimensions, but they describe and help frame for us an ancient reality. There have always been gay people, throughout all of history, and in all cultures (even within the animal kingdom). So the Bible should not be expected to help answer the question, “are people truly homosexual, or are they just heterosexuals who are attracted to the same-sex?” Nor can it be expected to help answer “how are people gay? What makes them that way?”

The best we can hope for (if anything at all) from the Bible, on this issue, is to try and ascertain what God expects for those born with same-sex attraction. That is generally the position most Christians assume: the Bible doesn’t tell us why people are gay, or what exactly that means, but it does tell us what God’s view towards such people/actions are.

High View of Scripture – There are basic fundamentals to interpreting Scripture. And I will try to implement those in this series. When digging in to Scripture, it’s important that we follow some boundaries and guidelines, otherwise we end up just “proof texting” (a method where you search the Bible for a specific verse/word/etc to support a specific belief or idea). Unfortunately, when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, it’s popular to proof text. Search Google for “homosexuality,” find a Bible verse, and declare the matter settled. I will be taking for granted the fact that this approach is simply naïve, ignorant, and insufficient.

I have a high view of Scripture. I believe the Bible is inspired by God, and has great profit for teaching, admonishing, correction and training women and men in the ways of right living. I believe the Bible is authoritative for the believer, and reveals to us the Word of God, Jesus. (I tell you this, because I’ve run in to more than one person who assumes that anyone who thinks like I do about homosexuality clearly has a low view of Scripture, doesn’t think it’s the Word of God, and doesn’t know how to read it and know the Truth).

So moving forward we will be assuming that there are some people who are truly gay, and that the Bible is not a source that seeks to affirm or deny this reality. And I will be working within a framework that has the highest view of Scripture and seeks to utilize generally agreed upon fundamentals of interpretation.

This Works Best With You

Hopefully you’ll accept my invitation to engage with this series.

Leave your comments, questions and concerns in the comment section.
I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can.

Share the blog posts with your friends and family.
Even if it’s to say, “hey everyone, check out this wacko!”

Because you never know who might be desperate for the things I’ll be discussing.

And as we engage with this potentially divisive topic, I encourage you to keep an open mind and an open heart. And to keep love and kindness and respect as driving motivators should you choose to interact.

This will all be much more meaningful, interesting, and fun if you choose to join the conversation or share it with others who might be interested.

Thanks for reading.

28 Responses to “Part I – UnClobber: A Survey of Homosexuality in the Bible”

  1. Micah

    Colby, I usually don’t post much on facebook or anything really on most websites as i usually like to digest information. I do feel this will be an interesting topic to discuss as i have 2 family members who are gay, BUT i completely disagree with you on this topic so far. That doesn’t mean i won’t read or listen to the information posted, and will be open to think and discuss this topic.
    As you know as someone that was/is in a position of leadership shepherding God’s people i do feel that teachers have to be careful not to lead people off track or justify topics to fit their idea of God just becuase it “feels” like God wouldn’t do that ie Rob Bell and hell.
    I actually don’t believe the school of thought that people are born gay (apparently i’m a very small minority) and would like you to post your information on the topic of how you think people are born gay if you will.
    One of those issues i’m sure will be brought up are people that were gay but now lead a heterosexual “life”? Either way an interesting topic and look forward to the discussion.

    • colbymartin

      Hey Micah, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for being willing to “digest information” that will likely be something you strongly disagree with. That’s rad.

      I hope it’s obvious that I don’t believe I am leading people off track. I have pretty strong convictions about this topic, and believe in what I’m saying/doing. And I hope you can trust me when I say that it is based off of more than mere “feelings.” (Sidenote: I think “feelings” get a bad wrap, sometimes. Yes, they can be misleading at times. Yes, they can’t always be trusted. But I hardly think they should be dismissed altogether. Don’t you believe the Spirit of God works often through our feelings?)

      As I stated above, I’m not currently interested in arguing for how/why people are gay/straight. Perhaps in a later series, but not this one. (I would, however, suggest you could start with the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So.” You can stream it on Netflix. It probably won’t convince you, but it would certainly help bring about understanding.)

    • Gary

      Micah – another possible to Colby’s suggestion of watching the documentary is to have a open and frank discussion with your 2 family members on the subject of nature vs. nurture. They might be able to give you insight as to how they feel and if they think they were born gay or not. Not that I think it will change your opinion but just provide you with another perspective and additional things to consider as you read through this blog series.

  2. Tim

    Can’t wait to hear what you have to say. And Micah-if you don’t think people are born gay…ask a few. Why would they lie about it? What is there to gain?

  3. Leon Quan

    Mr. Colby,
    You know Dude I have to apologize. Lori and I havent been attending The Grove for a while and that isnt really because we had anything wrong with what was taking place there but Colby, you were a really massive appeal to enjoying a time of corporate worship……BUT

    Ok, here it goes- I just typed in capitals and you know what that means right? It means I gotta really big but as it pertains to going there ever again…….oh unless they do that free coffee thing again cuz that was so cool!….j/k.

    Colby, they fired you? WTF!!!…..(deep breath)…. Sorry.

    They identified a little incongruence in the harmony of your inclusive belief in all consuming love that covers a multitude of…… disagreeable theological stances and their staunch belief that same sex love is just a nasty sin stain that the blood of Christ can’t seem to get down deep enough to clean….you know you gotta really scrub but the fabric is ruined and Jesus is allergic to homo-allergenics…..(ah ah, hold on I gotta sneeze…..AAAhhhBULLSHITCHOO!!)

    Ahh excuse me. that one just snuck up on me….what? God Bless Me? No Colby we’re your Grove fam Dawg…GOD BLESS YOU!!

    I mean that just seems like someone got their frequency jammed and missed how God was trying to get everyone’s attention when they were seeking God’s will back at hiring time……and huh? That Damn Ray Boltz annointing clouded everyone’s spiritual gadar so much they didn’t realize that although the Lord was having a powerful time in those heathen Quan’s hearts through your music and personality, secretly there was some questionable moving of some other spirit having a Hay Day of tolerance for some sodomites right there in the sanctuary/basketball court/gay pride fest…….pardon me, I meant a “Hey Hey Day”

    Colby, please just let me state for your BLOGs sake and my own soap box as well as my deeply offended sensibilities regarding the leadership of the Grove (of whom I’ve really sadly and I mean true sadness, lost a shit ton of respect for them on this issue). Here’s why this just drives me further and further away from fundamentalist Christianity.

    Because there resides within your Brilliance musically a self evident presence of that thing thats ineffable, the indescribable, the connection to that which wasn’t born, the eternal, what the ancients called I AM……and for some crazy and ultimately cool, wildly nonsensical reason you emerged in this time and place with an ability to call people to that thing we call God when you pick up a guitar and open your self as a channel, and sing.

    I know this because when I’d thought that I’d never feel or experience that connection again due to my own disillusionment, cynacism, and repulsion for everything church, that thing we call Abba, that reveals life in moments of reflection while we’re alone but in expression when we’re all together used you to remind me that there was good reason to explore Christ further.

    Colby, youre like my rotund black woman meeting me at a remote shack to explain the truth is that all roads do not neccasarily lead to God but that God will exhaust any avenue to find us when were chasing a healing, a high, or we’re hopelessly lost and feel we’ve been abandoned by our higher power. My friend, there’s nothing in terms of a doctrinal explanation that I need to thank you for allowing yourself to be a tool…….that didnt really come out right.

    Thank you for that knowing that you’re gifted with. For working to reconcile publically the sensations we ascribe to faith with the logic that love dictates in the story of Christ and our chapter in time and how it will read for those hurting because they had homosexual tendencies, or they were abused and they were mentally damaged by sexual trauma, or they headed the National Evangelical Association or were Roman Catholic during their childhood, there will be a part of the story that spoke to love and acceptance and a call to believers who had been what Spong calls “Believers in Exhile” to be whole by the power that brought the Christ to us when we were in need in the form of a traveling goateed minstrel with an acoustic guitar….and a kapo….and a grande mocha w/ whip and a double shot extra hot……Colby, what youre doing is right.

    That’s all. It’s right. And you will always be my Pastor or Horse shit and farts…..

    • colbymartin

      Hey Bud,
      Yeah… didn’t know that you didn’t know. I got Don Trump’d back in September. Pretty devastating, but I’ll bounce back (eventually). We moved back to Oregon in November to be with family, take time to heal, and hit the “reset” button.

      Thank you for sharing this with me. Thanks for the encouragement and vote of confidence. I love being a “tool” for Jesus. ;)

      This is also a momentous moment for me, for I do believe I’ve never been likened to a “rotund black woman.” So, for that, I say “bless you, friend.” (nice Shack pull)

  4. Elliot Munro

    Hey Colby – I hope all is well with you and your beautiful family. As you already know, I am in line with bullet-point six under “Who will read this series?” God bless brother (aka-great hair guy . . .)

  5. Debbie Hibbert

    Hi Colby … Wanted to let you know that I will be following your series, and I DO plan to follow along with an open heart, and an open mind. Not sure how much I will comment or contribute … but I’m very interested in what you will teach in this series. Debbie

  6. Gary

    Colby –

    A friend of mine pointed me to your blog. I am 48yrs old and have been with my partner, who just turned 60, for the last 27yrs. Did I mention, that also we’re gay?!? Oh, thought it was implied, “been with partner”!

    At any rate, he, my friend, has told me about what happened to you at your former church. I was very disappointed to hear about this and it very much plays into the “if they don’t like what they hear and disagree with the view, then your out”. I really look forward to following this series, happy teaching!

    • colbymartin

      So glad you stopped by! Thank your friend for me.
      Thanks for your sympathy. It was an incredibly difficult time in me and my family’s life (well, still is!). But the positive side is that it frees me up to write about such things like this!

    • colbymartin

      “don’t have netflix,”
      What!? Now you are REALLY in the minority!! ;)

      Thanks for the link. I read it and found it interesting. Although, I’ve never advocated for the defense of homosexuality because of “genes.” I’m aware that the quest for the gay-gene was, by all accounts, a failure. (Curious, did they find a straight-gene? j/k… sort of…)

  7. Brent Fahsholz

    “…perhaps on the other end, you have folks that acknowledge that just to be gay is not an inherently sinful reality, but to act on that gay-ness in any way is a sin. A gay person’s lot in life, under this view, is to live a life of celibacy and sacrifice, NEVER KNOWING OR EXPRESSING LOVE”(CAPS my own).

    Colby, could you elaborate on how a life of celibacy and sacrifice prevents someone from expressing love? Was this your thought on what a life of celibacy must be like or were you trying to articulate what the traditionalists thought the life of a gay (or celibate) is or would be like? Either way, I think you mis-represent the position. Or maybe you just mis-typed?

    • colbymartin

      Brent, I’ll gladly elaborate. I didn’t mis-type, nor do I feel I mis-represented the position. But for brevity sake (something I’m NOT naturally good at!), I only mentioned that position in its simplest form, rather than expound on it. (The scope of this series will be specific. There is SO much that COULD be said, but won’t be. As such, I may make a comment here or there, and not expound on it, but just move right on. This was one of those cases)

      I’ll first respond with a question: did you sincerely believe that what I was saying was that people who live a life of celibacy are prevented from expressing love? I mean, I know those are the WORDS I used, but I guess it just seems so obvious to me that that wasn’t the SPIRIT of what I was saying.. the MEANING. (Okay, so I am the “author,” hence it being obvious… but still…)

      I guess the reason I ask you that is because most of the people I’ve interacted with on this issue are not as much interested in dialogue/understanding as they are in trying to make a point, or win an argument. So when I read your question, what it feels to like to me is you are trying to trip me up in my words, point out an obvious “error” in my position, and win an easy point. If this ISN’T your intent, than I apologize. But it does feel like that (because, like I said, that’s what I’m used to, AND because the meaning seems so obvious to me that your question doesn’t feel sincere).

      Moving on…

      Assuming it is a sincere question, I’ll respond with this: knowing love and experiencing love and giving love is a multi-dimensioned reality, and it happens in many different ways, in many different degrees, in many different “qualities.” To think that celibate people cannot know love, or express love, or give love, is absurd. Of course they can. Of course priests/nuns know love, express love, give love, etc. Of course celibate singles (like Apostle Paul) know love, express love, give love, etc. Of course gay people who choose to suppress their orientation for spiritual/societal reasons can still know love, express love, give love, etc. Of course. Is this really debatable?

      But just as “of course” is the fact that the above mentioned people can clearly NOT know/express/give the type of love that occurs in the type of relationship such as marriage or a committed, monogamous relationship. That is categorically a different TYPE of love. Again, not really debatable.

      Don’t know if your married or not, but if you are then you certainly know that your love for your wife, and the way you know your wife’s love, and the way you express that, is all COMPLETELY different from the love you show the homeless guy at the shelter you feed a hot dinner to, than the orphan in Haiti you send shoes to, than the nephew who’s basketball game you attend, than the grandparent you visit in the nursing home… and so on.

      Because this distinction is so obvious and universally accepted, this is why I felt it was okay to be so brief with my original statement. I assumed the readers would use the context to discern meaning.

      If you’re further interested in how “forcing gay people to live celibate lives” ultimately denies them the human need/want to know love, express love, give love and receive love (of this specific type), then I invite you to read my buddy John’s blog here.

      Hope that helped?

  8. Lisa

    Good read, Colby, you’ve got me hungry for more. Looking forward to it. Didn’t have time to read all the comments, maybe another time. Thanks for being bold.

  9. Sharon Benson

    @Brent: Great question, and one that instantly popped into my head upon reading that line. Equating the idea that being able to have sex is the way to know and express love really fundamentally misses the point.
    Colby, seems your list of those who won’t be reading throws down a gauntlet; read MY thoughts or you’re fearful and narrow minded.
    Neither of those traits have I ever classified myself with, that said, I might very well read to be able to counter what YOU believe is truth.
    @Leon Quan; your response seems rather contrary to what you say Colby taught you in worshipping the Lord our God. Perhaps it was actually Colby you were worshipping????

  10. Mona

    Thanks, P, for leading this study. I am eager to dive in, admittedly with the intention to reaffirm and strengthen my belief that love and/or sex between consenting adults is, well, Love. I’ll be sharing links with friends and family, as well.

  11. Brent


    After reading your response I felt just a little like the mosquito in a nudist colony who said, “I don’t know where to begin.”

    You will see I am not one for brevity either. Maybe I should first say I’m sorry so many of your conversations on this topic have been tainted by combativeness and power mongering. It’s no way to argue. I was certainly not trying to win points. And as much as you might think I am by the end of this response – I am not writing to win points. What am I winning? I simply agree with you that this is a very important subject for us to understand and I am thrilled you are opening it up for discussion, and simply want to ask my questions without being judged from the start. And lastly, like Dr. Dericksen of Corban College says, “Arguing is fun!” It is fun, and my intentions were and are none other than to have fun proving my ideas are better than yours, that is, unless you prove they aren’t, in which case I come out the winner by gaining both knowledge and humility. So you see you are in a lose-lose situation!

    Now in regards to my question; we’re dealing with human individuals here and not mere lumps/percentages of human minorities. That said; I find it important to be as clear in our premises as possible. And that was the whole point of my question. My question was a means of clarification because while yes, it was obvious you didn’t mean it literally, it begged a whole host of questions and it antagonized the opposing side. I think we can both agree that in dialogue the best of both sides should be presented and even though you think most people would read the line I brought up and just assume what you really meant, at least one person, thankfully, did not; and I think other careful readers would catch it to. The link you sent me is actually very helpful in proving my point, namely, that the one sentence, “A gay person’s lot in life, under this view, is to live a life of celibacy and sacrifice, never knowing or expressing love.” is a foundational premise of yours (and Shore’s) and that it is faulty (let me interject here and say, I’m not yet giving my opinion of the subject at hand, but simply laying the ground rules for what I feel is fair and decent discussion – I will state this again later).

    First Shore says this; and if he would have written nothing more before or after this I think his audience would have risen with applause,
    When you tell a gay person to “resist” being gay, what you are really telling them — what you really mean — is for them to be celibate.
    True as true can be and a good statement on the Traditionalist stance. But then he says this,
    “What you are truly and actually saying is that you want them to condemn themselves to a life devoid of the kind of enduring, romantic, partner-to-partner love that all people, Christians included, understand as just about the best part of being alive.”
    I will give him this; here he is right – ignoring other parts of this sentence – to say traditionalists do not want gays to practice romantic love in the category of sex with each other; men with men, women with women, etc. (Obviously, as I’m sure you know, a gay man could marry a woman and have sex with her and not be wrong to do so). But let’s be clear, while a traditionalist is trying to stop gays from having sex, the traditionalist is not trying to get gays to stop giving or receiving love – or experiencing romance (as I will point out below). Read what he says next.
    “Be alone, you’re demanding. Live alone. Don’t hold anyone’s hand. Don’t snuggle on your couch with anyone. Don’t cuddle up with anyone at night before you fall asleep. Don’t have anyone to chat with over coffee in the morning.
    Do not bind your life to that of another. Live your whole life without knowing that joy, that sharing, that peace.
    Just say “no” to love.
    Be alone. Live alone. Die alone.
    The “sinful temptation” that Christians are forever urging LGBT people to resist is love.
    Being, of course, the one thing Jesus was most clear about wanting his followers to extend to others.”
    It’s all very dramatic. If this were all true it would be a tragedy indeed. But again, let’s be clear, traditional Christians are trying to stop gays from having sex. So far as I know this still leaves the door open for living with other people, and having a cup of coffee in the morning with the person you live with – I can even conceive of some traditionalists being open to cuddling!
    I was intrigued by Shore’s use of the word Romance. I agree, romance is one of the best parts of life. But Colby, you were right to point out there are many ways of expressing love. Marriage, giving to the poor, baseball games, etc…There are also many ways of experiencing romance. Here’s a link for you from the authoritative Free Dictionary Website:
    Existence itself is a romance because it is an adventure.(please, please, please, please read Orthodoxy by Chesterton). It could be argued that the LGBT’s in not having sex could have a powerful experience of romance the straight ones can’t. Wait, we can by being celibate – but maybe that’s a too overly optimistic statement to make so I’ll stick with this; Existence on this earth is one great romance because it is about love and it is about adventure. Sex happens to be one way of experiencing both (and what a gift!) But thank God, says the traditionalist, that He gave us a world in which gay people can experience it even if they can’t experience sex in a loving marriage. Again, I have not shared my opinion yet about the subject of your blog series – but the most important part of any argument, yours or mine, is also the most boring – defining words and stating premises. It’s a tough work I don’t claim to have done justice to in my response, but if you’re not willing to do it then you will be confined to having a wildly popular blog and maybe someday a book series and speaking tour because you talk about highly combative subjects, but you won’t have the dialogue/understanding that you say you so desperately want. Well, maybe you didn’t say, “desperately.” I would be the last person to put words in your mouth!
    That’s my response – what say you?!

    • colbymartin

      Did you just drop some Derickson!? Ha! Love it… And he is right, “arguing IS fun.” I’m just not accustomed to the “fun” kind of arguing on this subject. But clearly your spirit/approach is different, so, thank you.

      (I read the end of your opening paragraph using the voice of Vizzini from Princess Bride… it works really well! “in which I case, I come out the winner by gaining both knowledge AND humility! So you see, you are in a lose-lose situation!”)

      You actually have done me a great service. I have, for a while now, been seriously wondering if “traditionalists” would be “ok” with two gay people being in a loving, committed relationship as long as they don’t have sex? Would you (or someone else, who thinks gay people must remain celibate) bless two gay people if they wanted to live together, laugh together, create a life together, etc, but commit to never having sex? And if so, what about kissing? Or hand-holding? Or looking into each other’s eyes? I’m 100% honest when I ask, is there a line, and if so, where is it?

      And you sort of addressed that, which is great. I’ve never heard someone admit that they might be okay with all that relationship stuff AS LONG AS it didn’t cross over in to sex. (Actually, I couldn’t quite tell if you were saying YOU would be okay with it, or if you could just conceive that someone somewhere might be)


      I’m just guessing here, but my guess is that you might be in the minority among “traditionalists” (if you take the above position). I’d be willing to bet that many Christians would not even be “okay” with two gay people being in the type of relationship as described above. But you seem to acknowledge that that would all be good and fine, as long as they refrain from sex.

      I find that to be a cumbersome position.

      It puts too much emphasis on the physical act. As though THAT is what really matters.

      Didn’t Jesus try and defeat this dualistic mentality (that the ACT of sex is what really matters) when he said, “You have heard it said ‘you shall not commit adultery,’ but i say to you whoever looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

      Or, to insert our current argument: “You have heard it said, ‘two gay people shall not commit adultery by crossing the line and having actual sex,’ but I say to you, the gay person who looks at a his/her partner with lustful intent has already committed adultery with him/her in his/her heart.”

      So IF the traditionalist says, “I’m okay with gay people living together, and experiencing a life of love together AS LONG AS they don’t have sex,” then they essentially buy in to the false-dichotomy that Jesus was addressing. As least, as far as I see it.

      Therefore, to be consistent, the traditionalist would have to maintain a position that says, “a relationship between gay people is not okay in any form or any arrangement. Because there is no context where sexual activity in that environment is blessed by God. It is always a form of adultery and/or sexual immorality. And since Jesus likened our very thought life to be just as condemning as our physical life, gay people ought not even think lustful thoughts toward their partner. Thus, rendering any type of romantic or loving relationship life (even if physically celibate) completely improbable and unacceptable.”

      i don’t know how they (or you?) could get around this.

      (for the record, I agree with you. John Shore thrives on the dramatic! Part of why I like him, I guess. But he does tend to favor the grandiose over the detail of an argument. At least, some of the times. Other times (like in his books) he spends much more effort fleshing out his otherwise overly-dramatic statements).

      BTW: Orthodoxy is one of my all-time favorites! Read it several times. It has been a couple years since my last reading.. perhaps I’m due for some GK!

      Yes, I agree with you. Thank God that our world provides many, many ways of experiencing and knowing love, and experiencing and knowing Romance. Absolutely. And yes, sex does happen to be ONE of those ways to experience both. I just happen to think that it is a specifically UNIQUE way of accomplishing said goals, not to be attained any other way. Further, it could be argued to be the PINNACLE of methods to experiencing both (I’m sure this point is arguable. And perhaps if given more thought, even I would disagree. But at the moment, it seems right to me). And so to say to millions of people who find themselves to be oriented a certain way, “you cannot, nay, OUGHT NOT, ever know or experience the thing that the majority of us take for granted/strive to know/desperately enjoy” just seems… well… unfair. (At this point, I imagine the traditionalist might insert some comment about, “Well, God is Sovereign, and his ways aren’t our ways… and he gets to decide what’s ‘fair’…. Potter and clay… blah blah blah…)

      To your final point (defining words and stating premises… and how “I’m not wiling to do it”), I’ll state one more time: the point of this series is very specific. To address the Clobber Passages. I cannot, nor do I want to, address every nuance, side point, or other aspect of this issue. Even if they seem foundational or uber-important to someone else. I’m open to dialoging about them in the comment section if people ask questions (such as you have done), but I won’t use energy in my main posts to define every word or flesh out every premise. Call this “unwilling” if you’d like. I prefer to call it “staying focused and having a specific purpose.”

      Thanks Brent!

      • Brent

        Thanks for the response Colby – The voice does work! I can only hope and pray that if I surpass Vizzini in anything that it might be humility – but that remains to be seen!
        With what time I have I will respond to four parts of your response –
        1) You ask: “Would you (or someone else, who thinks gay people must remain celibate) bless two gay people if they wanted to live together, laugh together, create a life together, etc, but commit to never having sex? And if so, what about kissing? Or hand-holding? Or looking into each other’s eyes? I’m 100% honest when I ask, is there a line, and if so, where is it?” I’d say where is the line indeed, because here we are ultimately getting at what is to me a much more interesting subject: LUST. The first question which pops in my head is “Does the act incite lust?” Kissing and hand holding seem problematic within American culture, but in Italy everybody greets each other with a kiss on the cheek. But that’s different than making out. Hand holding is weird in America but straight guys do it all the time in Africa. So again, the question is, “Does the act incite lust?” If so, then you shouldn’t do it. Your friend said he’d be cool with those things so long as there wasn’t sex, but as you mention and I’ll comment on below – sexual sin is more than just a physical act (and even then we have Bill Clinton’s words ringing in our ears, “I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky). I think it would be better to ask whether or not it preserved Chastity.
        2) “So IF the traditionalist says, “I’m okay with gay people living together, and experiencing a life of love together AS LONG AS they don’t have sex,” then they essentially buy in to the false-dichotomy that Jesus was addressing.” I think that what Jesus was saying was that they both matter, while also proving the extent of the law and thus the absolute necessity of the salvation by grace Jesus came to provide individuals. As I’ve already addressed above, and I’ll say again here, we shouldn’t lust and we should teach ourselves to pray in the way Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, that we, “Not ask God to give us what we don’t have, but rather to thank God for what he gives daily.”(a very Chestertonian quote by the way – and yes, you should read that again and again and again, etc, etc…). Like I said before, true traditionalists don’t pretend that it’s easy or some sort of weird blessing, and a true traditionalists (and yes, surprise, surprise, I’m a traditionalist) will follow the words of Jesus and bear each others burdens. Marriage doesn’t end loneliness, and I think that the world has never experienced loneliness like the modern world has (as this guy showed):
        http://www.amazon.com/Bowling-Alone-Collapse-American-Community/dp/0743203046 and that not coincidentally it has not seen porn addiction like the modern world has. I don’t think what gay people are really seeking after is sex or even marriage, I think they and straight people alike are looking for a community in which they can grow and flourish as human beings. This is where I feel the whole gay marriage thing is missing the point, and that it is major distraction from the main point which is we as an American society are lonely and addicted to lust. Only after we deal with those things and can speak clearly about that would a discussion about should gays be married or not I think be fruitful. I would theorize that it would become relatively irrelevant. I’m single and maybe your marriage is just through the roof awesome and fulfilling, but of the many married people I’ve met, most tell me emphatically that marriage itself is not a cure for loneliness – and it certainly isn’t a block against porn addiction. I would be interested for your thoughts on that.
        3) “I just happen to think that it is a specifically UNIQUE way of accomplishing said goals, not to be attained any other way. Further, it could be argued to be the PINNACLE of methods to experiencing both (I’m sure this point is arguable. And perhaps if given more thought, even I would disagree. But at the moment, it seems right to me).”
        When you talk about sex as the pinnacle of things I think as a traditionalist I’m inclined to say, yes but not for the same reasons (I think) as you. If I were capable I would wax eloquent Trinitarian theology about the family being seen in the God-head, but I’m afraid that for that you will have to see this gentleman, http://www.amazon.com/Was-Jesus-God-Richard-Swinburne/dp/0199203113 Here, even if not all Christians would subscribe to his description of the Trinity (where is the perfect analogy of the Trinity?!) I think it’s helpful for the discussion as to why sex is such a powerful and sacred act. For beyond the powerful physical feelings, “Love making” between two people was by design meant to create a third life. The traditionalist view then is that even if we are wrong about gay’s having sex, and the physical, psychological, and spiritual harm we think it produces; their sex and marriage is implicitly inferior due to its inability to produce life and uphold the balance God has created within the human order of male and female(even as I say “male and female” I’m hearing another really, really controversial topic, but let’s keep that aside for now!). Sometimes when people say it isn’t natural they don’t mean gay’s are freaks, they mean they aren’t using it for what it was meant for. And here, as a Protestant, I will risk a defense of the Catholic Church. Contraceptives have recently become controversial – again – and I saw on one of the news stations a statistic saying that something like 90% of Catholics use them and so why, the news reporter asks, are the Republicans and Priests making such a fuss? This actually makes me think of Chesterton quote where he says that people often use the sins of the church as evidence against its authority, when really the sins of the church proves the church is right. That people don’t follow the rules of the church it doesn’t mean the rules are stupid or wrong – usually quite the opposite. What I’ll just say is that the Catholics are able to articulate the argument better than the Protestants for the very reason Protestants don’t like Catholics, namely, that they hold to a plethora of cold, hard dogmas you must believe in written in black and white. They hold the traditionalist view that sex is not ultimately for the physical pleasure of the moment, though it is a nice addition God added, or even primarily for the expression of love, but rather as the act which occurs after love has been expressed and produces another life. I’m not a Roman Catholic – so take with the grain of salt you undoubtedly already possessed.
        4) Lastly, I will say I didn’t say you didn’t want to state premises and definitions – you certainly do so in the way you want to or see best. The point I was making is that leaving out what I brought up seemed like a premise which shouldn’t have been left out. Certainly you shouldn’t spend all day on the premises and definitions; with what little philosophy I have studied it’s seems like you can’t say anything without going back to the beginning of time with premises and assumptions underlining your ideas; that is tiring and frustrating and mostly as you rightly say, unnecessary – we just want to get to the point. I just think my point was an important one – as we can both see from the amount of typing at this point. On the note of excessive typing – I finish my response.

    • Efrim

      This topic is very interesting and conteversiaI. I have never questioned my views on this subject and learn and reconsider. I have alwys held the view that homasexuality is a sin, but am completely open-minded to having my views changed. As far as whether or not people are born gay, I have assumed no. However, I believe enviroment, i.e. rape, disfunctional home life, trama ect, can cause someones heretosexual nature to be perverted into a homosexual one. Thoughts?

  12. Linda Uhden

    Thought I should really start at the beginning instead of the middle. I’m processing, reading, asking, listening in regards to your first response to me re: part three. Will be getting back to you. Thanks Colby.

  13. And Yet It Moves «

    […] something that can be cured or reversed. A loving, committed, monogamous same-sex relationship is not forbidden in the Bible. Gay people are not […]

  14. 100th Post! Best (and Worst) of the Blog Thus Far «

    […] Part I and Part II of Unclobber: The Bible and Homosexuality Kicking of this series (which is still underway) were two posts that generated a lot of discussion, questions, responses, and interaction. Turns out this is a controversial and slightly provocative subject… who knew? […]

  15. AmRestorative

    And who says that Christianity doesn’t evolve? You did it with slavery, you might as well do it with homosexuality.

    I don’t understand why Christians, who are so in love with a divine law, don’t find it worrying that they have a changeable moral law just like disbelievers. As Harris puts it: Christians choose what is good about the good book.

    But hey, if your teachings lead to equal rights and better treatment of gay people by Christians, then I wish you all the best of luck.


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