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

Presenting the Clobber Passages

Last week I launched a new blog series wherein I will embark on finally addressing my understanding of what the Bible says (and does not say) about homosexuality. I’m already thrilled at the response… most of it has been very positive.

I know you are itching to jump in to the Bible already, but I do want to lay just a bit more groundwork and provide an overview of the Clobber Passages.

Because the Bible Says So

So you want to find out what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, because just recently you read an article about gay marriage, or about a church hiring a gay pastor, or because one of your childhood friends recently came out of the closet. Whatever the context may be, many of us have been there. Somewhere in the confines of our brain we know that homosexuality is wrong, but we admit to ourselves that we can’t immediately point to which verse in Scripture says so. In fact, if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll usually discover that we don’t recall ever actually coming to this conclusion on our own, because of our own study of the Text. Rather, we probably just picked up this belief somewhere along the way: parents, youth pastor, a sermon here or a book there.

Like all good Christians we feel obligated to be prepared in season and out of season to give a defense for what we believe. And so we pull out our Bible app on our iPhone and type in “homosexuality.”

Depending on which translation we are searching, we discover (disappointingly so) only two verses come up.

“Surely there’s more than that,” we mutter.

So we get more creative and turn to Google (or Bing, if you’re the type of person that likes to try and get ahead of the curve so that you can tell your friends, “oh I’ve been using Bing for years.” Newsflash: Bing will never surpass Google. Give it up). In the search field we type, “homosexuality in the Bible,” or “why is gay a sin,” or “gay verses in the Bible.” And this looks a little more promising, for now we find a myriad of articles and websites that list all the verses in Scripture that address the sinfulness of homosexuality.

Excitedly we start clicking around, preparing to formulate the arguments in our minds and prepping to memorize the Bible verses in anticipation of our next conversation with our gay aunt, Becky, who shows up at Thanksgiving with her partner.

To our dismay, our list has grown from only two, to a paltry six (or seven, or even eight, depending on who is making the list).

Nonetheless, we press on. Determined to find in our Bible the support for what we’ve always known to be true: homosexuality is a sin. Because the Bible says so.

Underwater Basket-Weaving

Some interesting Bible facts:

There are 66 books in the Bible.
1,189 chapters, and
31,173 verses

Of those 66 books, only 5 books mention (or appear to mention) the issue of homosexuality.

No big deal. That’s decent. Lots of biblical stuff gets less coverage than 5 books.

But to take it further, of the 1,189 chapters, only 5 chapters in the Bible mention (or appear to mention) homosexuality. That’s only one chapter out of each book that’s referenced.

Even more interesting is that, of the 31,173 verses in the Bible, only 6(!) mention (or appear to mention) the issue of homosexuality! That’s 0.0002% of the verses in the Bible!

Okay. You’re not impressed.

Let me illustrate anyways what that might be like.

I’ll use the example of San Jose State University. They have an enrollment of 31,280 (similar to the number of verses in the Bible). Of the graduating seniors last year, the most popular fields of study were Business Administration and Management (2,930 students), Library Science (874 students), Education (852 students), Computer Software (802 students), and Electronics and Communications (622 students).

Using the stats of how many “homosexual verses” are in the Bible, this would be equivalent to having 6 students studying, let’s say, underwater basket-weaving at the University of San Jose State. Six students, out of 31,280. With only one (perhaps two?) of those students graduating last year. 1 student with a degree in underwater basket-weaving.

The way you hear some Christians talk about homosexuality, as though it is of significant importance to God, and by implication, greatly dealt with in the Bible, it would be like saying: “If you really want to study underwater basket-weaving, the place you need to attend is San Jose State University. That is THE PLACE to go.”

(Okay, okay, before you head straight to the comment section to complain, I realize this analogy is silly, and it breaks down eventually, and it doesn’t really compare. But I still find it amusing to think about, in real terms, how absurd it is that homosexuality is treated by many Christians as though it is this significant issue when, by contrast, it is barely mentioned in the Bible. So I kind of like my analogy.)

“Quantity doesn’t matter,” you might retort, even though you’re slightly deflated at the sheer lack of interest the Bible shows on the subject. “Quality is what matters. The point is, these verses clearly say that homosexuality is a sin. So what if it isn’t mentioned much, because when it is, it is clear.

But is it?

Really?

I don’t think it is. And I believe, if you read this series with an open mind, at the end of it you’ll discover it is much less clear than how you currently believe it is.

To Clobber or Not to Clobber

So what ARE these six verses/passages? In order, they are:

Traditionally, these are the passages of Scripture that people reference when defending their position that homosexuality is a sin.

Six passages.

One is a story. Two are part of an ancient law established for a people group thousands of years ago. And three are within the context of Paul’s writings to early churches.

And when church going folk want to clobber gays with “proof” that they are abominations to God and God’s creation, it is to these passages that they turn. For somehow, in their minds, these verses are an affirmation that gays are sinners and/or the homosexual lifestyle is an abomination.

Let me be clear for a moment. I wholeheartedly believe that these passages of Scripture have something to say to us today. I believe that there is inherent value, truth, guidance and applicable realities to be found in these six passages. And throughout this series I hope that I can share precisely what we do find when we wrestle with and interpret these passages. They DO SAY SOMETHING. So don’t misunderstand me and think that I am setting out to dismiss these six passages. Remember, I’m moving forward with a high view of Scripture (as discussed in last weeks post). I’m not interested in the argument, “well so what if that’s what it says… we don’t have to listen to it.”

No, no. These verses say something. Absolutely.

I’m just convinced they don’t say what traditionalists want them to say. Or assume they say. Or misleadingly teach that they say.

I Say “Homosexuality,” You Probably Think “Gay Man Sex”

For whatever reason (and I’m sure there are reasons), the majority of people seem to associate the word “homosexuality” with “two men having sex.” Meaning, if you were to drop “homosexuality” in conversation with someone, chances are that person’s mind goes straight towards the association of two men having sex.

In contrast, should I say “heterosexuality,” there’s a good chance that what comes to your mind is something akin to: the word that describes the fact that people are attracted to the opposite sex.

I think we do something with the word “homosexuality” that we do not do with “heterosexuality,” and that is that we debase the concept and overly simplify it to one type of situational (sexual) activity. We think bigger about “heterosexuality,” and I’d like to challenge the reader to begin to try and do that with the word “homosexuality.”

Let’s elevate the conversation to consider aspects of a relationship beyond just the sex between partners.

I say all this because I think an important question as we move forward in our diving in to the Clobber Passages is, “does the author of this text have in mind a loving, committed, monogamous relationship between two consenting adults?” Because that is what I argue is a starting point for what a good, pure, holy relationship is. And if the biblical authors aren’t addressing that, then what exactly are they talking about? Can we, as reasonable thinking people, separate the concepts of “two gay people having sex” with “two consenting adults in a loving, committed, monogamous relationship.” We do it with heterosexuality, and I encourage you to at least try and do it with homosexuality as well. It will help in our study.

The Plan

As we delve in to each of the Clobber Passages, some of the questions we’ll be asking are:

  •             Who was writing this story/passage
  •             To whom were they writing
  •             When were they writing
  •             What is the context of this passage within the whole chapter/book
  •             Do these passages address the issue of homosexuality, and if so, how
  •             Do they talk about a loving, committed relationship, or something else
  •             How is this applicable to us today

If you place yourself somewhere within the traditional camp then you would expect to find in these six passages a clear message that homosexuality is a sin. Perhaps not as your only reasoning for your position, but certainly a significant aspect of it.

But if we refuse to start with the presupposition that homosexuality is a sin, and allow the text to speak for itself, I firmly believe that what will emerge is most certainly not a clear statement on the sinfulness of two people of the same gender partaking in a loving, committed, monogamous, God-honoring relationship.

We will find statements that speak to sinful behavior. But if we let the meaning emerge from the text, rather than putting meaning in to the text, I promise you that we won’t find support for the traditionalist perspective.

If the Winds of Change Start Blowin’

I fully acknowledge that Christians throughout history have developed arguments against homosexuality using more than just the Clobber Passages (most specifically, the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions). However, I won’t have the time or space to reach in to those areas.

I say this because I know that, even if I do succeed for some people in opening their eyes to a fresh (for them) understanding of the Clobber Passages, it very well may not be enough to change their theological position. And that’s okay.

But what it may do, is that it may begin to cast a sneaky shadow on their old beliefs about this issue. It may cause a chink in the armor, allowing light and air to breathe in to recesses of their mind and heart that previously were shut tight with the Truth. It may be a catalyst for further prayer, investigation, and questions.

For others, however, their position on homosexuality lives and dies with the Bible. They have all their chips placed in the basket labeled, “The Bible says it, so God says it, so I believe it.” And I wonder what is at stake for that person? If you are reading this, and you would describe your sole reason for believing homosexuality to be a sin “because the Bible says so,” then how might you respond if you learn the Bible might, in fact, not say so?

Are you prepared to do the hard, and probably painful, work necessary to allow your heart, soul and mind to be transformed? Will you see the Clobber Passages in a new light and, as a result, see gay people in a new light? Or will you insist on holding on to your truth that homosexuality is a sin? Will you make the conscious choice to, in light of new and compelling evidence, continue to maintain that even if the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality in all its manifestations, I still will.

Basically, I’m asking this: if you currently find your reasoning for your position on homosexuality from the Bible, what will you do if the Bible presents an entirely different reasoning?

I think that is a fair and genuine question to ask yourself.

I’m not saying you’ll be convinced. I’m not elevating myself to some awesome status whereby I’ll be able to change your mind with brilliant exegesis and reasoning.

I have no idea how you’ll think or feel at the end of this series.

But, I encourage you to start by asking

What will I do with my beliefs if I become challenged that the Bible doesn’t say what I always thought it said? 

The Clobber Passages, long thought to hold the key to defending the sinfulness of homosexuality, long used to beat down gay people with a message of shame, long assumed to give a clear biblical position on homosexuality, have been used in these ways long enough.

It is time to unClobber our gay brothers and sisters.

Coming Up

We’ve laid the groundwork for where we will be going.
I’ve stated my purpose for this series and why I’m doing it.
The foundation for the Clobber Passages has been laid, and we are ready to start getting in to the meat of it.

Next post we’ll begin our survey with Genesis 19. The story of God smiting Sodom and Gomorrah.

I invite you to spend some time reading in advance.

Read through the story several times. And do your best to come at it as though you’ve never read it (or heard it) before.

Pay attention to what is going on in the story. Who is there, and what do they do? What happens in the story? What is the conflict, and what is the resolution? Why might God have rained sulfur and fire on these cities?

Is Genesis 19 a legitimate source for decrying homosexuality?

29 Responses to “Part II – UnClobber: A Survey of Homosexuality in the Bible”

  1. Micah

    Colby, I think you should add Genesis 2: 18-24 on that list of passages. I just wanted to mention that even if passages may seem tough/harsh/doesn’t fit in with society today/ doesn’t mean that’s not what God was communicating in the Bible. Take Care

    Reply
    • colbymartin

      I don’t plan on adding Gen 2:18-24 because it is not traditionally a Clobber Passage. Reason being, that story could certainly be an affirmation of the argument for woman being created for man, but it is not a statement AGAINST homosexuality. You may see them as related (and maybe they are), but it is categorically different than a Clobber Passage. A Clobber Passage specifically addresses (or is assumed to address) the issue of homosexuality, and speaks negatively towards it. Gen 2 does not do that.

      To your second point, I totally agree! I say similar things to people who want to support the death penalty, or who support war.

      But you seem to be assuming that the “correct” interpretation of the Clobber Passages leads to a condemnation of any sort of homosexuality. And from THAT place, you say “just because it seems tough/harsh/doesn’t fit” does not mean it wasn’t what God was communicating. However, if the interpretations of those texts reveal something different, then your argument becomes moot.

      Reply
  2. bob fabey

    Colby-
    As usual, well written and entertaining. I know that is not your only aim, but you always seem to do both!
    I am curious if your survey is going to include passages about Covenants. I believe they can’t be separated from the discussion as they point to a much bigger picture.
    Looking forward to reading more as you are able!
    Blessings to you and your family brother!
    Bob+

    Reply
    • colbymartin

      Thanks Bob! Heck, if ALL I can be is “well written and entertaining,” then I suppose that’s not HALF bad!? ;)
      My survey does not intend to include passages about Covenants. I’m trying to be very specific, and focusing on JUST the Clobber Passages. Those parts of the bible that seem to specifically address homosexuality in a negative light. I respect (and probably don’t disagree) with you, that “they can’t be separated from the discussion,” but that’s not currently my primary concern. My primary concern is with those people who insist on using the Clobber Passages to clobber gays, or to “put an end to the discussion, because BAM, the Bible says it, and it’s clear!”
      Generally, that type of person has no concept of covenantal language or theology.
      Perhaps after this series I will consider such a move.
      (Also, thanks for acknowledging that I post these “as I am able.” They are hard work!)
      Love ya Bob.

      Reply
  3. Amy

    Thanks for exploring this topic here on your blog. I have gay friends who love God. I know that the God I love and follow would never abandon them because of their sexuality. As you explained…I just know what I was taught growing up and hear interpretations from the Bible that Homosexuality is not accepted. I have chosen to ignore that part….I am hoping by reading your thoughts and reading more on my own I will be even more at peace with the what I believe.

    Reply
    • colbymartin

      Hopefully you will be able to move from a place of “just ignoring those parts” to, “having a conviction that those parts say something else, NOT that which the traditionalist would have me believe.”
      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  4. rich

    Dear Colby,

    I became a Christian in college with no christian background or bias. When I began reading the Bible, it seemed very clear that God considers homosexuality wrong. Rather, that God considers “man and woman”, to be RIGHT.

    I’m eager to see how you interpret Romans 1 to say that homosexuality is NOT a result of sin. My gay sister dated boys in H.S. I’m straight and had gay temptations. (maybe i”m really gay!) how do we explain this?

    So because the clobber verses are so obvious, you say, “Thats not fair, they’re bullying me” and come up with an interpretation that suits your perspective?
    “0002% of the verses say that homosexuality is wrong” this is bad logic.
    Using that same logic, where could we go with this next statement?
    there are only 2 verses that say that having sex with animals is wrong.

    Paul equips Timothy in 1Tim with sound doctrine to battle bad doctrine. He does not go into great detail as to what the bad doctrine is exactly, he just trains him with really good doctrine (yet he is very descriptive in how dangerous the bad doctrine is). 2 Tim 4:3 says that men will forsake good doctrine to pursue their own desires.

    This is what a person acting on gay urges is doing, and someone encouraging them to do it is a “teacher of bad doctrine” (you) (rom 1:32)

    What about where it says its better to be single? If you dont like women, maybe you have the gift of singleness, be happy. Mat 19:12, 1 Cor. 7. (notice in this chapter how male-male and female-female relationships are conveniently left out) (and everywhere else in the Bible for that matter)

    My point in saying this is not to convince you (though I wish I could) but to warn those who are reading this looking to ease their guilty conscience. (hey, the Holy Spirit put that guilty conscience there for a reason)

    love, (really)
    Rich

    Reply
    • colbymartin

      Hey Rich,

      Glad you stopped by. Thanks for your thoughts.

      If, after the series concludes, you still believe that I am “coming up with an interpretation that suits my perspective,” then let’s talk then. But right now, you’re still arguing from the place that says “the Bible is CLEAR/OBVIOUS with regards to what it says about homosexuality, and it says it is WRONG/a SIN/etc.” And I reject that position, as I’ve stated. So your statement begs the question.

      I recognize that I was not as clear in my post as I could have been. My point was NOT that because the Bible only mentions something a couple times that it therefore is somehow unimportant, or easily ignored, or whatever. My point is that, when you weight on one hand the amount of energy, emphasis, and attention that much of the Christian community gives the issue of homosexuality against the amount of energy, emphasis, and attention the Bible gives is, there is a serious disconnect. The Bible, one would come to assume (based on how much energy, emphasis and attention much of Christianity gives homosexuality), is a document rife with evidence and support against homosexuality. My point is, it isn’t. I just feel that compared to how much the bible actually DOES (or doesn’t) say about it, that many Christians make waaaaay to big a deal of it.

      Regarding the Holy Spirit “putting guilty consciences on people for a reason,” I think you may fundamentally misunderstand the role of the Spirit. There is a big difference between “guilt” and “conviction.” God does not do guilt and shame. The Spirit convicts people, and when they act on that conviction, the feeling go aways. But guilt? Nope. Just because a person feels guilty about something does NOT automatically mean that the Spirit is PUTTING that on them. That just isn’t true, as far as I see it. But, then again, I am a “teacher of bad doctrine.” ;)

      Thanks for sharing, (really)

      Reply
  5. Dale Brown (@DaleBrownPDX)

    Hello Colby Martin and forum. There are many more passages than those six that work to establish God’s plan for sexuality. How can we have a proper teaching on something so broad without surveying all of the passages on the subject (sexuality) that we can find?

    Also, since you are implying that 6 passages is not enough to establish sound doctrine, then your argument for a new doctrine based on zero supporting passages (that teach that homosexual musings or activity is OK) is hard to get on board with, since you claim even 6 is not enough. Maybe you have Scripture supporting your views, though if you had, I would have expected it by now.

    I agree that nobody should be beating gay people over the head with Bible verses. We don’t need to legitimize that one bit. But really, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Reply
    • colbymartin

      You are 100% correct, my friend. There ARE many more passages than the Clobber Passages that “work to establish God’s plan for sexuality.” Completely agree. And it is a conversation like THAT that I think is missing in much of the church’s thinking. Meaning, what does it look like to have a healthy, good and right view of sexuality? Let’s take the conversation BEYOND just gay/straight, let’s talk about sexuality in general, and how we can honor ourselves and each other (and in so doing, honor God) with our sexuality. And Scripture has much more than six verses to say on THAT!

      But again, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For there ARE only six verses that address (or appear to address) the issue of homosexuality. And another reminder may now be due: THAT is the focus of THIS series.

      If I have implied that six passages is “not enough to establish sound doctrine,” then I’ve miscommunicated. As I tried to clarify in my response above to Rich, my primary point is that WHEN COMPARED to how you hear much of Christianity talk about it, you would expect the Bible to say much more than it actually does. There is an out-of-balance-ness to this issue. We (the church) have placed/are placing huge emphasis on homosexuality. The Bible? Not so much…

      Reply
  6. Dale Brown (@DaleBrownPDX)

    Also, I think that the amount of energy, emphasis and attention much of Christianity gives homosexuality is based upon how prevalent this issue is in our culture. Not based upon how often it is mentioned in the Bible. I’m not even sure that “the amount of attention Christianity gives homosexuality” is relevant to your argument, except as an ad hominem.

    Reply
  7. Dale Brown (@DaleBrownPDX)

    Let me say this in a different way that I think might be more your style– It appears you are suggesting “Nurturing homosexual desires and establishing gay relationships is OK with God, because the Bible doesn’t say it’s not.” It is pretty easy to argue that point by limiting the scope to “What does the Bible NOT say?” Although your argument has the initial appearance of being reasonable (and is cognitively biased towards relevance by some people because of current societal pressure), I believe that we could postulate many imaginable things as being permissible if the argument is predicated on “What does the Bible NOT say about X?” This doesn’t necessarily invalidate your argument, but it keeps the burden of proof squarely on you, because your primary underpinning (what does the Bible NOT say) is subject to fallacy in so many ways.

    With such a weak argument, you simply must shore it up by using passages from the Bible that actually support homosexuality, or, to recognize that the argument is fatally flawed because it is predicated, not upon material or observation, but upon a “lack of material or observation”. Or as support can you point to any other accepted doctrine that has been established through an agreement about “what the Bible does not say”?

    Reply
    • colbymartin

      Dale, I am going to make an assumption here: you and I probably view the Scriptures differently. We probably have a fundamentally different understanding of what they are, why they are, and how they are to be used (and not used). As such, it can be very problematic to have a discussion such as the one you’re drawing out, because we are operating on very different presuppositions.

      I am not interested in approaching the Bible as a text-book, full of answers, designed to provide a list of dos and don’ts.

      You sir, are correct. We would be playing a foolish game if we decided to begin an argument with, “well, what does the Bible NOT say about ____________”

      That line of reasoning doesn’t interest me. And contrary to what you may believe thus far, I don’t intend on using it in my survey of homosexuality in the Bible.

      There are plenty of things the Bible says we OUGHT do, that we don’t do.
      Plenty of things the Bible says we ought NOT do, but we do them.
      Plenty of things the Bible says NOTHING about, yet we make objective moral/ethical judgments about them anyways.

      This could also be chalked up to a difference in how you and I prioritize the general over the specific, with regards to interpreting/applying the Bible.

      To your final question, I feel like you threw that in there to try and make your point without really thinking through it first. I can’t imagine any doctrinal position ever came about as a result of people sitting around thinking, “what DOESN’T the Bible talk about… and let’s come up with a position about THAT.” However, there are plenty of doctrinal positions that many Christians hold to that have no specific mention or support in the Bible. That’s pretty normal. Coming to mind is such doctrines/positions as the Trinity, the Immaculate Conception, and Abortion. You won’t find specific statements/verses in the Bible about these things. I realize that’s not precisely the point you were making, but at the same time, it must be at least acknowledged that not all doctrinal/theological positions that Christians have are rooted in “what the Bible says.”

      Reply
  8. Greg

    @Dale:

    While I think you raise some intriguing questions and points, I think that your tone doesn’t help your argument. Understandably, this is an issue that people have significant feelings toward, and being passionate about one’s viewpoint is understandable.

    Phrases like “with such a weak argument,” “if you had…I would have expected it by now,” and “although your argument has the initial appearance…” end up sounding like you’re making an ad hominem attack. I don’t know if this tone was your intention or not, but that’s how it came across to me.

    It might be wise to let the author take some time and reply to your comment, versus leaving multiple comments. While the author has made his opinions public on this blog, and (graciously) invited us to participate along with him, I think that we should remember we’re on his turf.

    Reply
  9. Dale Brown (@DaleBrownPDX)

    Apologies about things such as “weak argument”, I did not mean that personally or emotionally, I meant it as a logical or almost mathematical term.

    Our COMMUNITIES are placing a huge emphasis on homosexuality. The church needs to respond one way or another. If our response is proportional to the amount of emphasis that culture is placing on this issue, then our response would appear to be unproportional to the amount of emphasis that the Bible spends on this issue. This seems acceptable and hardly worth using against “the church”.

    I’m wondering, do you claim that you are approaching this subject objectively, or do you have strongly-held prejudices? Do you claim an unbiased approach, or are you proof texting with these clobber passages?

    Immaculate conception: a belief not widely held by common evangelical believers.

    Trinity: this is well-described throughout the Bible, both implicitly and explicitly, by authors and by God as he describes himself through the authors (only reason I wouldn’t go into it is because it’s not the current subject)

    Abortion: you got me there. The Bible encourages people to get abortions to about the same extent that it encourages people to be gay. This is where to find a Godly perspective, we can back ourselves out of individual Bible verses, and look at Biblical themes, characteristics of God, and situations in the Bible that have similar or relevant teaching. A much wider view than 6 verses provides, but it is all from the Bible to be sure.

    I agree with you, in that a meaningful conversation about subjects such as abortion or homosexuality can really only happen outside of the context of several carefully selected Bible verses (though I am curious what your view is on Rom 1:26-27a).

    So are you going to go wider and more in depth after you’re done with these clobber passages? There are a few things I’m really interested to hear your perspectives on, that are more at the heart of the matter than these verses.

    Reply
    • colbymartin

      Yes, gay rights has been a hot topic within our “communities” (whatever that means) for years now. And yes, I get the church’s need to feel to respond (even if I vehemently disagree with most of the ways they have responded). But I still don’t think this gets “the church” off the hook. Sure, part of it is in reaction, but you’re kidding yourself (or just unaware?) if you think the church hasn’t made this a litmus test of sorts, and elevated THIS issue to something of utmost importance. All around, I still maintain, that regardless of who “started” it, the church/Christian community/etc has placed far too much energy, emphasis, attention, and I’ll add “certainty,” on this issue in relation to that of the Bible.

      I would never be so foolish as to claim that I am “approaching this subject objectively.” Of course not. Does anyone? CAN anyone?
      I think one of the biggest lies that average-Joe-Christian falls prey to is that they can just open the Bible and, via a plain reading of Scripture, understand, interpret and apply it objectively. That we can actually come to the Bible with an unbiased approach. Not a chance!

      If we don’t understand that we all approach the Bible with pre-conditioned glasses on, glasses that are shaped by things like our upbringing, our experiences, where we live, HOW we live, when in time/history we live, etc, then we are deceiving ourselves (or are being deceived).

      That’s not to say all is hopeless. That we can’t come closer and closer to an objective reading of the Text, but that takes A TON of work, of self-awareness, of study, of questioning and reasoning… Most people don’t even KNOW they are wearing glasses, let alone HOW those glasses affect their readings.

      But I reject your “either/or” question. I am not claiming an unbiased approach NOR am I proof texting. In fact, I have done ANY interpretive work yet. So what in the world am I proof-texting? Sorry Dale, but sometimes I wonder if you’re actually reading what you’re typing. (Or, I’m totally misunderstanding you).

      Sorry, I didn’t understand this sentence: “I agree with you, in that a meaningful conversation about subjects such as abortion or homosexuality can really only happen outside of the context of several carefully selected Bible verses (though I am curious what your view is on Rom 1:26-27a).”

      I’m not sure what is next, yet, after this series. I’m kicking around engaging with other arguments AGAINST homosexuality as used by other traditions (Catholic, Orthodox, etc). We’ll see if something emerges naturally out of this series.

      Reply
      • Dale Brown (@DaleBrownPDX)

        I live in Portland, one of the “most gay cities in the U.S.” (words from an article I read not long ago, I think from “The Advocate”), and in fact none of the churches I’ve been to or know about in the area I live have made this issue a litmus test or elevated it to something of utmost importance. It seems instead that you’re the one doing that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But when you say “the church”, I wonder who you’re actually talking about? A specific church? Radicals? There have been no media reports here locally in the past few years about the local churches doing any such thing.

        In my opinion, that’s too bad that you think no one can open the Bible, read it plainly and interpret it objectively. I believe there are a lot of things in there that are applicable to everyone everywhere in the same way, in fact that seems like one of the best, most beautiful things about the Bible. I see, though, how establishing a framework of complete reliance on point-of-view around all of the scriptures would make it easier to draw out a theme of Biblical support for homosexuality.

        To address another one of your points, I think that actually most reasonable people do know that they are “wearing glasses”, and they take that into account when studying the Bible. Your suggestion about most people not being self-aware and not being able to properly interpret Scripture is kind of obviously self-serving.

        You say your approach has bias (you already have your conclusion), and so, let’s lay out what this study will be about: In this study you will be using 6 passages from the Bible to support your conclusion, along the way by proxy systematically beginning to dismantle the opposing belief (homosexuality as a sin). Proof texting. Again, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but proof texting can allow support for both sides of an argument so why do it?

        You seem to think that people who disagree with you should not lean on these passages for support, and so why not just say that instead of trying to prove it? It seems you’re going to maintain the clobberiness of these passages by using them to clobber into submission other points of view and the overall witness of scripture regarding certain sins including homosexuality.

        I know that your stated goal for this series is to show that, in your opinion, these specific passages do not prohibit homosexuality. But you are fighting against what even you said is the weakest of several teachings that show homosexuality is sinful. I’m curious, why not go after the more sound teachings?

      • colbymartin

        My approach is bias because I’m white, male, grew up in middle class America, grew up in Oregon, lived in Arizona for the past five years, was raised in the church, went to a conservative Baptist college, read a lot on this subject, study the scriptures often, and was fired from my church over this issue.
        All of these things (and much more) cause my approach to be different, than, say, someone who is hispanic, female, grew up in poverty in Georgia, lived in South Carolina for 5 years, wasn’t raised in the church, found Christ at an Episcopal Church, never went to college, hasn’t ever read anything on this subject, reads the Bible for devotion only, and never worked in a church.
        I could go on and on.
        YOu probably give people too much credit, and I probably don’t give them enough credit. But my experience has taught me that your average Christian does NOT consider how influences (such as those listed above) alters the way they read and understand the Bible. They seem to think that a plain reading is a plain reading, and the meaning is simple to understand. But they fail to take in to account how the glasses they view through DO in fact alter what may appear to be very plain and obvious.

        My approach has bias, yes. But NOT because I already have a conclusion. That’s preposterous. My conclusions (if I have them) are a result of years of study, prayer, reflection, and a slooooooow change of heart via God’s Spirit. I don’t “already have a conviction” that biases my approach. But that is a real scenario, one that I would apply to a great many people on this issue.

        I wish you’d not put words in my mouth, or decide for me what the series will be about. I’ve already stated that several times. I don’t know where you get the idea that I plan to “use 6 passages from the Bible to support my conclusion.” What? No offense Dale, but you’re creating things for me! I am not using 6 passages to support a conclusion. I am surveying 6 passages that have traditionally been used to clobber LGBTs. And I am setting out to show that those six passages do not support the traditional perspective assigned to them. That is not the same thing as using 6 passages to support a conclusion. Your accusation of proof texting is ironic, because my belief is that is precisely what the Clobber Passages are: proof texts that people refer to in order to support the idea that the Bible declares all forms of homosexuality a sin.
        Now, if I had in mind 6 passages that I think support the idea that homosexuality is acceptable to God, THEN you could say what you’ve said. But clearly I have made no such suggestion.

        Again, why don’t you withhold judgment until I actually start posting my interactions with the Clobber Passages. And THEN, if you still feel like I’m “using them to clobber in to submission other points of view,” I will welcome that critique. But don’t go jumping the gun on me.

        My stated goal is not what you have said. I’m sorry if I have not been clear. I don’t plan to show that these passages “do not prohibit homosexuality.” That statement doesn’t make sense to me, and I would not make it. in fact, you’ll discover quite the opposite. You’ll find that the Bible does have something to say about sexual sin, both of the opposite-gender variety AND the same-gender variety. BTW: Here are two statements from Part I that outline the purpose of the series, just as a reminder:

        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.

        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.

        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.

        I certainly appreciate your interaction, Dale. Sorry if I’ve gotten frustrated with you and if that’s come across in my replies. I would ask that you try and interact with what I’ve written, not what you THINK I’ve written. ANd that you wouldn’t make assumptions about what I will be saying when I haven’t even said it yet. I think that would be helpful in our discussions.

        Peace.

    • Reginald Fireball

      Dale, I live in Portland as well and I completely disagree with your assertion that “none of the churches I’ve been to or know about in the area I live have made this issue a litmus test or elevated it to something of utmost importance.” I went to a church for many years that, toward the end of my time there, preached an entire Sunday about defeating the “Gay Agenda.” This was a non-denominational church that had for the most part abstained from most divisive topics until that point. I have traveled this country and been to many, many churches and this topic has been a huge one at many of them. I don’t know how it’s possible that you cannot see that. Are you familiar with the American Family Association? Seems to me these “church leaders” seem to think this and awfully big deal and of utmost importance.

      Also, when you say there’s nothing wrong with proof-texting and follow that with why it’s wrong, I think you mean to say there is something wrong with it, and I think that’s exactly what Colby is setting out to undo; to look at the scriptures with as little bias and as much context and information as possible. I think an informed conclusion is what we should all aim for.

      Reply
      • Dale Brown (@DaleBrownPDX)

        Well, I have also been to many churches as part of a traveling ministry and I just don’t see it. Almost everywhere I’ve been, mostly non-denom, hold their beliefs about this issue lovingly and gracefully.

        However, I will gladly submit to yours and Colby’s viewpoint on this part of it, because I agree that this is a very relevant and current conversation in general.

        Colby, I’ll admit I am making pre-suppositions about how you intend to unpack these passages. Most of them quite obviously do not say that it is a sin for someone to be sexually attracted to the same gender. Most of them do talk about homosexual acts. I am interested in what you’re going to make of all this.

      • colbymartin

        Oh, I just read this again (after finishing my previous response), and I see that you “admitted to making pre-suppositions about my intended unpacking” of the passages. Thanks for that, appreciate it. :)

  10. J to the Z

    2 things:

    1. Christians aren’t making this a big issue, our culture is making it a big issue and it would be irresponsible for Christians not to give as much attention to the subject as the rest of our world does.

    2. I am still waiting for you to “clobber” the “clobber passages”. It is for that reason that I will hold off on any use or comment of the verses myself, and others should do the same. As a side note, I wonder how God feels about people giving a negative title (Clobber passages) to His Word? By no means am i saying you created the name but you seem to use it passionately and i therefore assume you wholeheartedly agree with the tittle.

    and a 3rd thing:

    3. I wish i had the ability to write the way you do. It is so colorful (no pun intended) and entertaining in a good way. Thanks again for attempting to get your thoughts out there for us in as fast a way possible. :)

    Reply
    • colbymartin

      I like that you didn’t go back and edit your original “2 things.”
      Instead, you just added “and a 3rd thing” at the end. You’re funny.

      1) I disagree with you. As I said to Dale, I DO agree that much of the agenda is being pushed by the greater culture, and so the church is playing a reactionary role. BUT, it is ALSO true (in my opinion) that this issue has become a litmus test for Christians. A hot-topic issue that is used to determine if people are “true” Christians or not. I’ve felt this for years, and ironically what happened to me only help to confirm this reality. Plus, I think you’re being way too generous in assuming that “Christians” are giving attention to this issue. Rather, my experience is that your average Christian gives is little to no attention EXCEPT as it relates to making sure they “know” what the correct/Biblical answer is. Or what their pastor says. Or what their favorite author/blogger says. Rare is the person who takes time and energy of their own accord to “give attention” to this subject.

      2) I’m getting there. They take time to create and write. Regarding the usage of “Clobber Passages,” I don’t know how God feels about it. My hunch is that God is MUCH MORE grieved that these passages have been USED to clobber his children, than God is that they have been described as thus. I think the title is valuable because it keeps at the forefront the reality of the situation. Each time it is written or read a piece of “their” story is told. I think continuing to use the title “clobber passages” has value because of this. So perhaps, in that light, God might feel favorably about the description. A built in lament, if you will. A built in reminder of injustice. A built in cry for peace.

      3) Thanks Jared. I know I can be long winded, so I try to at LEAST make it an INTERESTING butt-long read! ;)

      Reply
  11. Jason

    Colby,

    Thanks for tackling this. I hope you can manage to maintain the grace and humility with which you began, even as the dialog becomes more heated.

    I currently am of a largely “traditionalist” viewpoint with respect to the sinfulness of homosexual sexual activity, but am not completely comfortable with the cut & dried / litmus test position it has taken in our Church and nation. I do hope the Body of Christ will dig into the Word on this (the six passages and more) for themselves in prayer and with the help of the Holy Spirit, even if all that happens is that they confirm their current beliefs for themselves – the Bereans would be a good model for us all. More importantly, I am completely uncomfortable with the vitriol on this issue and how easy Christians seem to find it to rail against some sins more than others, and to excuse those lesser sins we hold dear.

    Gluttony and gossip don’t seem to get the level of attention that lying and drunkeness do; divorce and premarital sex raise less ire than homosexuality. Sexual sin does seem to hold a special place in the Scriptures as a particularly “intimate” sin, but I don’t feel this justifies the way we’ve handled homosexuality, particularly in light of issues of divorce, adultery, premarital sex, cohabitation, pornography, and a slew of sexual sins and societal ills the Church seems far less willing to confront, or at best chooses to confront in a different way.

    I am interested to see where you go and am excited to have you dive in to the passages (particularly 2-6 – I think I already agree with you on Genesis 19, but have a hard time envisioning anything but a ‘traditionalist’ reading of the other five passages when it comes to the practice of homosexual sexual acts being sinful.)

    I think that my take on what Scripture has to say about sex and sexual sin (homosexual or heterosexual) is based on a lot more than just these six passages, and is informed as much by what the Word has to say positively about certain sexual expressions as it is about what it has to say negatively about others. So even if you can turn these six passages on their ear, I may well not be convinced of the “unsinfulness” of certain acts. But I’m hoping to at least better understand my brothers and sisters who are convinced, and broaden my perspective.

    While I understand your blog is about more than this series, and clearly it is a time consuming endeavor for someone as verbose as you (and I), I think some of the change in tone in the comments may be that you have been slow to dig into the passages themselves.

    Finally, I want to applaud you for (I presume intentionally) choosing the ESV for your links to the Scriptures, as some of the passages seem most condemning of homosexual sex in this translation (particularly in the second footnote to 1Cor6:9, which I noticed for the first time at biblegateway just now, as I’m fairly new to the ESV). I hope it is not a straw man you choose to dismiss in favor of other translations that are harder to read clearly in the current American English idiom.

    I pray one of us comes away from the series of changed mind, though I think it unlikely, and so I also pray that we maintain a respectful Godly dialog among Christian brothers and sisters earnestly seeking to know Him, His Word, and His Will, love Him with all our heart and mind and strength, and love each other (the saved and the lost, straight, gay or otherwise) as much as we love ourselves.

    Blessings & love,

    Jason
    Holland, MI

    (temporarily in Tempe and clued in to this series by a brother in our weekly guys breakfast group who goes to your former church)

    Reply
  12. telson7

    Many people claim that Gen 19:1-25 doesn’t teach that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of homosexuality. They claim that Sodom’s sins were pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness, and they didn’t help poor and needy.

    The book of Ezekiel teach that Sodom’s sins were pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness, and they didn’t help poor and needy. Ezekiel continues saying that they were haughty and committed abomination before God, and for the reason of abomination God destroyed Sodom:

    Eze 16:
    49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
    50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination (towebah) before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

    Lev 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination (towebah).

    For the sake of sodomites’ abomination acts, God destroyed Sodom as Ezekiel 16:49,50 shows for us. Ezekiel uses 16:50 Hebrew word towebah, which is the same Hebrew word in Lev 18:22 (and Lev 20:13) that describes homosexuality as abomination. It is very clear that in Ezekiel 16:50, abomination means homosexuality acts as the reason for destroying of Sodom. Sodomites pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness and hardened hearts towards poor and needy were sins, but destruction came for the sake of homosexuality, and the New Testament confirms this:

    Jude1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

    The book of Jude confirms that in Sodom and Gomorrah practiced fornication going after strange flesh, which means homosexuality. Fornication going after strange flesh doesn’t describe natural sex between men and women, but unnatural sex where men have practiced sex to other men. For this reason, they suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.

    http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/homosexual.html

    Reply
  13. Kiel Porter

    For consideration:
    Heterosexuals: An Abomination in the Sight of God

    Reply

Enter the conversation here...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: