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Sermon: Why we must Stand Firm

Sunday, April 20, 2008 • 6:05 pm

Homosexual behavior is considered so offensive to God that those who engage in it and do not repent will not enter his kingdom. Well, you might say, what about the other sins listed here, slander, greed, thievery, drunkenness, why do we focus exclusively on homosexuality? Trust me. I’d rather focus on anything else. The reason we focus on this particular sin is because it is the one sin that the Episcopal Church has presumed to bless. If the Episcopal Church would’ve passed a resolution blessing thievery or drunkenness or greed, then our response would have to be the very same. If, before every robbery, a thief were given the invitation to attend his or her local Episcopal parish to receive a rite of blessing for holy thievery, or before every drink an alcoholic might receive the rite of Holy Inebriation from his resident Episcopal priest, then you can bet that our focus would shift because sin, whether sexual or otherwise, is deadly to body and soul.


This Sunday is different from other Sundays. Threats and challenges to this body have arisen in recent days that are too great to simply pass over or ignore. And so I’ve set aside the Sunday lectionary in order to deal as carefully as possible with them. If you’re a guest this morning or missed out on Christian education or missed the newspaper on Friday you may not have heard, but the Diocese of Central New York has filed a lawsuit against this parish. If successful, they’ll gain control of our property, the rectory and this church building, our financial assets including: endowments, bequests, and bank accounts, and everything movable within the church building itself: the vestments, altar, lectern, organ, piano, prayerbooks, bibles, pews, computers, sound equipment, everything.

The days and months ahead promise to be difficult.

I think it vital that we step back and review what brought us to this point. Beginning this morning and continuing for the next two weeks, we’ll answer three questions: First; why we must do what we are doing. Second: what consequences do we face; third: why God allows suffering and what he accomplishes through it.

So: why we must do what we’re doing. In 2003, the Episcopal Church voted, as a body, to allow same sex blessings on a local basis, to let bishops permit blessings in their dioceses as they saw fit. That same convention gave corporate consent to the election of Canon Gene Robinson, a divorced man, living in a non-celibate same sex relationship with another man, to the office of bishop. The effect of both actions was to officially declare that homosexual behavior ought no longer to be considered sinful.

At first glance this may not seem like a big deal. If you keep up with the news, after all, then you know that “science” has proven that some people are born with internal predispositions toward homosexual behavior. This “advance” in scientific knowledge, in fact, is often cited by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church as the principle justification for the contemporary decision to bless sexual behavior that the bible condemns.

And, indeed, there is some evidence that many argue points to that conclusion.

At the same time, and we mustn’t forget this, there is also evidence that male promiscuity, alcoholism, and kleptomania among other desires and impulses may arise from genetic or biological “predispositions” as well.

And so to say that some human beings may be born with an inclination to behave in a certain way says very little about whether it is right to act on the basis of that inclination.

Christians especially must be wary of that kind of argument because the bible teaches us that human nature is fallen; that humanity as a whole has turned away from God and as a result humans are born with orientations or impulses that turn us away from God and toward ourselves. In his letter to the believers in Ephesus chapter 2 Paul writes this:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:1-4)

There is this inborn, natural pull toward sin that effects us all. For that reason we cannot uncritically embrace our natural desires and say that they are good just because they’re there.

We must measure our impulses and desires by the light of a standard that itself is not subject to our fallen weaknesses. That means the standard cannot be one that finds its origin with humanity. That’s why Paul says later in Ephesians 2, that scripture, the word of the prophets and apostles, is the foundation of the Church, Jesus Christ being her chief Cornerstone. Though written by humans, scripture originated and was inspired by God and through it God shines his light into our darkness so that we can see Truth. Otherwise we would remain blinded sin.

Well what do the scriptures say about homosexual behavior?

The first direct command is found in the book of Leviticus 18:22, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

Now, why would God care what two consenting adults choose to do? When you study Old Testament law you discover that together, if followed perfectly, the levitical laws serve to undo the effects of the fall, to restore a state of being like that which existed in the Garden of Eden prior to the first sin. The precincts of the tabernacle, in fact, recreate the Garden, the place where God and man enjoyed sweet communion and fellowship. In the garden God created man and woman and he brought them together in marriage for three purposes: 1. for the purpose of having children. When the love between a man and a woman bears fruit in children it reflects the overflow of divine love in creation. God created. Like him, we “pro” create. 2. for companionship, and 3. to reflect God’s own love for his people. Throughout the Old Testament the covenant between a man and a woman in marriage is used as an illustration of the covenant between God and the people he loves. That imagery continues in the New Testament where the Church is called the bride of Christ and Christ, the bridegroom of the Church. God intended marriage, from the beginning, to be a living vibrant reflection and witness of his own creative, unfailing love for his people.

The OT laws regarding human sexuality and you can see a whole host of them there in Leviticus 18, were given to restore that broken image. Homosexual behavior, incest, beastiality and other sexual behaviors that depart from the created norm of heterosexual marriage are proscribed and condemned.

But, some will say, that’s the Old Testament and we’re New Testament people. And, to a certain extent, they’re right. Jesus, in Matthew 5, said that not a jot or a tittle of the levitical law would pass away until it had been fulfilled and it is clear that in the New Testament some levitical laws are fulfilled; the laws having to do with the ceremonial function of the temple and ritual sacrifice for example. Christ, in the New Testament, replaces the tabernacle and temple of the Old. He becomes the location of our one true sacrifice. His blood alone cleanses and purifies. There is, therefore, no more need to stay away from things the law says are unclean. Christ’s blood makes all things clean for us.

Now, it is vital to note, that this fulfillment of the ceremonial law is not something that the church simply decided and declared on her own. The church recognized that the ceremonial law had been fulfilled because the Word of God reveals it to be so. In Mark 7:18-19, Jesus says:

“Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”

That point is reiterated to Peter in a vision recorded in Acts 9:9-15. Peter sees a vision of unclean animals and hears Jesus say,

“Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

The ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant have clearly been fulfilled by Jesus Christ in the New.

Now the question is: was the command in Leviticus 18:22 proscribing homosexual behavior among those levitical laws fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament? Does that law still apply today? There’s only one way to answer. If the New Testament repeats and reiterates the Old Testament command, we can be certain that it has not been fulfilled. Turn if you will to Romans 1:25-27. Here Paul is describing the effects of humanity’s turning away from God, the results of the fall:

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

Homosexual behavior both between men and between women is here, in the New Testament, characterized as a “perversion,” as an impulse that resulted directly from human rebellion. And it is shown here, like all sin, to be dangerous both to body and soul.

If there is any doubt you can turn to 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 where you will read the following:

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God .”

Homosexual behavior is considered so offensive to God that those who engage in it and do not repent cannot enter his kingdom. Well, you might say, what about the other sins listed here, slander, greed, thievery, drunkenness, why do we focus exclusively on homosexuality? Trust me. I’d rather focus on anything else. The reason we focus on this particular sin is because it is the one sin that the Episcopal Church has presumed to bless. If the Episcopal Church would’ve passed a resolution blessing thievery or drunkenness or greed, then our response would have to be the very same. If, before every robbery, a thief were given the invitation to attend his or her local Episcopal parish to receive a rite of blessing for holy thievery, or before every drink an alcoholic might receive the rite of Holy Inebriation from his resident Episcopal priest, then you can bet that our focus would shift because sin, whether sexual or otherwise, is deadly to body and soul.

In Roman 6:23, we’re told that the wages of sin is death. So when the church tells people who are looking for salvation, looking for forgiveness, seeking healing, seeking the love and solace of Christ, that homosexual behavior is not a sin, she blocks the way; she encourages behavior that the scriptures say leads to spiritual death.

It is not loving or tolerant to do that. The promise of God is that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:8-9)

How can we be complicit, how can we participate in the act of denying this this forgiveness and this purifying love to our friends and neighbors who are gay? Those of you here, and there are several of you, who struggle with homosexuality, imagine if you had been told that it was good and right and your way to Christ barred and shut. I can’t think of a more hateful thing to do.

When the Episcopal Church passed resolutions doing just that in 2003 and confirmed them in 2006, we were faced with a choice. Could we continue to participate in Church that actively leads people away from Jesus Christ and toward the darkness of eternal death? As long as we remained Episcopalian we were bound to continue supporting the Episcopal Church financially through assessments and, if he should choose to force the issue, permitting the bishop to come and preach from this pulpit.

It is at this point that we need to turn to 2nd John 9-11

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.”

Do you see that last line? Anyone who supports and welcomes a teacher who is leading people astray is a party, is a participant, in that teacher’s work. By maintaining our participation in and support of the Episcopal Church we were, according to this text and others, participating in the work of leading souls away from Christ.

I can’t do that. I just can’t. The message I’m responsible to preach and proclaim is not mine. It’s his. I do not have the authority to depart from it. But that responsibility is not just mine. By virtue of your baptismal vows, it is yours as well.

Your vestry recognized that. You recognized that. After a series of parish meetings, the vestry voted disassociate from the Episcopal Church.

This morning we are facing the consequences of that decision. Every time you take a stand for the gospel there will be consequences. Jesus said,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20)

Personally, I want nothing more than to go back to the days when my biggest concern was crafting an effective bible study or fitting hospital visits in around my sermon study time. I desperately wanted to preach a regular sermon about the Good Shepherd and his sheep this morning. I love this church. I love you. But if we compromise on this matter, I think we also compromise our integrity, our faith, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. These things are far more important than buildings or assets or furniture.

The call is then is to stand firm. To love our enemies; to pray for those who persecute us; but for the sake of Jesus Christ, for the sake of those he loves and died to save, to never compromise, never back down, never surrender the truth of the gospel.

Amen


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Comments:

Matt,

As you know, I’ve been praying for you and your family during what must be a time of very great stress.

I’m a bit puzzled as to why you felt a need to preach against homosexual behavior in your own congregation. Do you have parishioners in same-sex partnerships?  Or parishioners who think that same-sex partnerships that are loving, faithful, and bear fruit of the Spirit are OK?

I think sometimes gay people make a convenient “Other” on which heterosexual people can project all kinds of things that are wrong (read: sinful) in the world that don’t correspond particularly with homosexuality.

Don’t get me wrong: I think that Christians ought to oppose behaviors they believe on the basis of scripture, tradition, and reason to be sinful.  I’m just not sure that same-sex relationships are common enough in your congregation to be dealt with via sermon rather than private pastoral counseling.

For what it’s worth, of course.  I don’t imagine that you’re all that concerned about what my pastoral approach to various problems would be, and yet I hope the conversation is helpful.

[1] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 04-20-2008 at 07:59 PM • top

Sarah: but for a church bureaucracy driven by LGBT activists, waaaaaaaaaaaaay out of proportion to the LGBT presence in the general population or most any congregation of any kind, Matt and Good Shepherd would not be in this mess.
Matt and his kind “make a convenient ‘Other’ on which (interest group activists) can project all kinds of things that are wrong (read: sinful) in the world…”
And so a sermon to a congregation that is under duress because it does not bow to a particular agenda will have warnings about that hostile agenda.

[2] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 04-20-2008 at 08:15 PM • top

Sarah,

Thank you for your comment. As I noted at the beginning of the sermon, since we are in the middle of possibly having our property confiscated, I thought it important to review why we are where we are. And since why we are where we are has a great deal to do with our position on this issue, that position needs to be encouraged and reinforced at the moment. There are, moreover, a number of new people in my parish and new believers as well who have been wondering about all of this and since I do not preach on it often, are not sure what the deal is with the diocese anyway. And finally, as I mentioned, there are a few homosexual people in my congregation working to remain celibate. So the sermon was meant to encourage and affirm my people all around.

[3] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-20-2008 at 08:17 PM • top

Sarah,
Re-read the second paragraph and your question will be answered.  If you listen you will find many of your questions answered.  Just be still and hear the voice trying to talk to you.  Think input-not output.

[4] Posted by Elizabeth on 04-20-2008 at 08:18 PM • top

“The call is then is to stand firm. To love our enemies; to pray for those who persecute us; but for the sake of Jesus Christ, for the sake of those he loves and died to save, to never compromise, never back down, never surrender the truth of the gospel.”

Its been a while since I hve posted Sarah because I think there has been way too much talk.  The quote above is simply the essence of it all.  This is why I am done with the COE and ECUSA. I pray for and care for all of you.

Amen


   
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Smileys

Before you post, please remember Matthew 5:43-45:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”


 

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[5] Posted by Lee Parker on 04-20-2008 at 08:30 PM • top

“But for a church bureaucracy driven by LGBT activists, waaaaaaaaaaaaay out of proportion to the LGBT presence in the general population or most any congregation of any kind, Matt and Good Shepherd would not be in this mess”—-Timothy Fountain [#2]

Very good point, also worth remembering in other contexts.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sarah [#1]: Good to hear from you.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Lee [#5]: We can give up on ECUSA & Lambeth Palace without giving up on Anglican Christianity. Orthodox Anglicans in North America will get no help from Canterbury but we can, together with overseas brothers and sisters, build structures of our own.

[6] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-20-2008 at 08:49 PM • top

When I was a teenager, all my heroes were Episcopalian priest. I wanted to follow in their footsteps. Fortunately, the path of least resistance led me away from that vocation. Reading Matt+‘s sermon, in particular, this verse:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

makes me grateful that I am “just” a physician. I do not have souls in my care just bodies. It is obvious that Matt+ is being a good shepherd to his flock and that he acknowledges that great burden. It is also obvious that there are quite a few millstones waiting for the necks of Episcopal clergy.

[7] Posted by robroy on 04-20-2008 at 09:37 PM • top

As it is written:

“I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24

The measure of the commitment is the size of the stake.  By this will men see what is counted gain, and what is counted loss.  For good or ill, God will be glorified in this.

carl

[8] Posted by carl on 04-20-2008 at 10:58 PM • top

The parishes that have successfully evacuated from the Episcopal Church, with or without their property, almost never mention homosexuality from the pulpit or teaching podium after they leave. They don’t have to, since same sex blessings, etc., are not even in the ballpark for those who believe in the divinity of Christ and the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture.

One of the consequences of the national church’s rejection of the truth in this area is that it has required faithful Episcopal parishes to spend pulpit time to emphasize God’s Word in this area and to make clear their opposition.  I hope that this is the last sermon that Rev. Kennedy has to preach on this topic for a long time, that the dust will settle soon, and his newly liberated parish will be able to focus on communicating the Gospel effectively to a lost world.

[9] Posted by Going Home on 04-20-2008 at 11:09 PM • top

Matt+

It is an odd day that I kind of find myself agreeing with Sarah Dylan Breuer in post #1, but your #3 answered much of that (our sermons tend to address the egotist and friskiness of singles, but those are our issues).

I know two things. First is huge the toll fighting for property takes on people I’ve seen in this area. Second you’re a man of prayer who seems ready to do His bidding. I pray you will always hear the Lord’s voice and His only, second that you do not neglect other very important area of Scripture as I experienced in my walk in this area. So both a prayer and a warning in that sense.

I had some dark days last year. “professional neglect” on top family crisis on top of bereavement is not fun. I pray the LORD raises up some special people to walk with you through this like He did in my life. Also that you never loose the joy of your salvation, regardless of how nasty people become. In my experience, us humans generally suck, but God is faithful!

May the LORD forgive any sin on yours or the bishops part and may He resolve all things in a loving manner. In the end may His name alone be glorified.

[10] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 04-20-2008 at 11:21 PM • top

A truly excellent sermon Matt.  You are a blessing to your parish and to those of us here at StandFirm.

Pax Christi vobiscum,
Eluchil

[11] Posted by Eluchil on 04-20-2008 at 11:22 PM • top

Here’s the question d’jour on the “GLBT” issue. One Episcopal bishop recently wrote that the question of gays in orders centers around the “holiness of life” canon. Do gays in committed relationships exhibit this quality? My question here is simply this: If an aspirant for Orders were living with a woman not his wife, would he even get past his parish committee, much less be granted postulancy or ordained? Probably not. If celibacy outside of marriage is the norm for heterosexuals, why is there any discussion of a secondary norm for gays? This is where I believe TEC is missing the boat entirely. In the rush to “inclusivity” we are sacrificing our historic standards and moral authority to the idol of modern liberal culture. Shame on us!

[12] Posted by spike on 04-20-2008 at 11:33 PM • top

my favorite part was when you cried grin

oops, did i say that?

[13] Posted by micahtowery on 04-21-2008 at 01:04 AM • top

spike [#13],

I completely agree with your point about the double standard compared to an unmarried heterosexual couple. But the argument would be lost on most liberals as they would focus on the fact that homosexuals can not marry, therefore the double standard is in reaction to a greater “injustice.”

[14] Posted by texex on 04-21-2008 at 01:22 AM • top

texex {15}

My point is that promiscuity, hetero- or homo- is entirely out of bounds when we are talking about Holy Orders. Period. Yes, it is true that gays cannot marry. That does seem to be the reason for the impetus to overlook their living in “committed relationships” and crediting them with “holiness of life” vis a vis ordination.

Here’s something I would like to see discussed, and yes, it really is my position.

After every day of Creation in Genesis, God saw what he had made and pronounced it good. Creation is good. If what god created is good, then even our fallen state does not negate our original blessedness. So far, straight catholic theology. Here’s the kicker. If it is ever proven scientifically (and the jury’s still very much out on this) that genetically, gays are hard wired with their particular orientation, and that they cannot be otherwise, then we would have to conclude that God created them that way and the whole dialog in the Anglican Communion re: sexual orientation would be forced to take a new tack. Even if it is proven scientifically, it would still be wrong for TEC to act upon its more liberal instincts until the rest of the Communion was on board. Until that day dawns, it is my position that we must not ordain or consecrate openly gay or lesbian individuals. Yes, they are part of God’s creation, but did God create them gay? If the answer from science (not just anecdotal evidence—we all have friends who tell us that they simply cannot be anything else) is yes, then, IMHO, there should be no impediment to their ordination. God created them like that and if He did, it was a conscious decision on His part. Like I say, however, the jury is out and is likely to be for your lifetime and mine.

Your mileage may vary, but your response is welcome.

[15] Posted by spike on 04-21-2008 at 01:43 AM • top

One clarification on the above post. I say “If the answer from science (not just anecdotal evidence—we all have friends who tell us that they simply cannot be anything else) is yes, then, IMHO, there should be no impediment to their ordination.”. This obviously assumes that this is proven scientifically and gay marriage becomes a reality.  In its absence, celibacy outside of marriage should remain the norm. This also assumes a society open to the reality of gay marriage—something I don’t expect to see this side of Eternity.

[16] Posted by spike on 04-21-2008 at 01:51 AM • top

Hosea,

This is the third time I’ve had to directly address this topic in five years. The first time was the Sunday after Gen Con 2003. The second time was about two months ago when we were talking about fidelity to scripture, letting scripture guide the church rather than the church standing over the text and this issue was a ready illustration and the third time was just now as a response to being sued.

I’ve said far far more about heterosexual promiscuity over the years.

But this was an occasion where I thought we needed to reassess what brought us to this point starting with the content of the issue itself.

[17] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-21-2008 at 06:55 AM • top

I’ve said far far more about heterosexual promiscuity over the years.

Oh, good. I’d hate for my sin propensity to be left out! smile

[18] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 04-21-2008 at 07:06 AM • top

Dear Matt:

Matt, thanks for clarifying again where we are and how we got there. Good to remember and to reflect on.

Your church will be in our prayers as you continue to do the hard things God asks you to do.

Blessings,

Eclipse

[19] Posted by Eclipse on 04-21-2008 at 07:47 AM • top

Before anyone else gets on Matt’s case for discussing this topic at such length, look around your own parish and ask yourself if everyone there actually “gets it.”  I think you would be amazed, given the fact that this has been daily in our face for years, to find that there are still some in your parish (not the one down the street, yours) who still do not understand why this is the tip of a communion dividing iceberg.  I am in a thoroughly orthodox parish, yet we still have people who haul out the “judge not” line and are convinced that if we just “love” everyone all will be well.

[20] Posted by Ann Castro on 04-21-2008 at 07:56 AM • top

spike wrote[#16]:

If it is ever proven scientifically (and the jury’s still very much out on this) that genetically, gays are hard wired with their particular orientation, and that they cannot be otherwise, then we would have to conclude that God created them that way and the whole dialog in the Anglican Communion re: sexual orientation would be forced to take a new tack.

Your assertion would likewise legitimize all forms of sexual conduct if only each can be established by science as ‘hardwired.’  But of course this is wrong.  And in any case you must separate out the contribution of sin from the contribution of this alleged ‘hardwiring’ - a task for which science is completely incompetent.  In the case of homosexuality, the contribution of sin is total.  In the absence of sin, there would be no homosexuality.

God rested after the sixth day to show that creation was complete.  There is no ongoing creative work in the temporal universe.  So we see in the garden the prototype of all creation.  And there is no homosexual relationship in the garden.  There was no male for Adam to be paired with.  Only Eve. Therefore God did not create it, and did not call it good.  Because we know that God rested from His creative work, we also know the God did not ‘do a new thing’ after the fact.

Sexual behavior is ultimately a choice, and so subject to the will.  Per Romans 1, it is the natural result of God giving people over to their own depraved minds.  It is a judgment, not an orientation.

carl

[21] Posted by carl on 04-21-2008 at 08:06 AM • top

Carl: First of all, I’m not trying to establish that foot fetishists or s&m;devotees are “hard wired” to be no other way. I’m just pointing out that in catholic moral theology there is no imperative to do the impossible. If one is created to be one way, then there is no imperative moral or otherwise to not be how one was created. The fact is that I simply don’t know whether there is a genetic or other biological predisposition to homosexuality and am open to the notion that there might be. Until we know one way or the other, however, it is nothing short of irresponsible to presume that we (read TEC here) can act as if we have solved the problem and act independently of science, the Anglican Communion or anyone else. Yes, you are right, in the Creation narrative in Genesis it says “male and female he created them.” Yes, there was no one but Eve for Adam to partner with. It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. My point is that this is a case where science can inform theology. There need be no tension between the two, since the   mission of science is to unravel what God did in creation.

I remain adamant that until this question is answered one way or the other, the traditional stance vis a vis homosexuality is entirely appropriate and mandatory and that TEC’s “prophetic actions” are little more than precipitous actions designed to do nothing more than garner attention, and perhaps force a communion wide discussion on a topic of no small controversy.

I reiterate my point: If it can be proven that gays cannot possibly be otherwise (and that is not by any means a slam dunk), then the moral calculus changes. Until that time, however, anything less than the traditional stance is irresponsible, in my opinion. It’s not a matter of “justice,” as so many in TEC would like to say. It’s a matter of propriety, of theology and of catholicity and any attempts to do other than maintain the traditional stance is at best revisionist and at worst schismatic.

[22] Posted by spike on 04-21-2008 at 08:29 AM • top

Matt,

Most excellent teaching sermon!

[23] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 04-21-2008 at 08:36 AM • top

spike, if it is proven that there is some “hard wiring” it hardly proves that it is “created”. The fall has effected the very depths of our nature, down to the genes. It has not erased the imago dei but the fall has significantly perverted it. No Catholic would argue, in the face of Holy Scripture, that such a discovery would do anything but show the depth to which humanity is fallen. We are, post-fall, in some sense “hard wired” by nature for sin. That was Augustine’s argument against Pelagius. It is impossible for us to do good apart from divine grace.

[24] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-21-2008 at 08:39 AM • top

Here’s how I think of it. (Keep in mind that gluttony is a deadly sin.)

God doesn’t create obese people, but they are all around us. 

Were obese people born that way? No.

Were they born with a genetic predisposition towards obesity? Maybe.

Did what they did contribute to their condition? Undoubtedly.

Have they lost sight of the true purpose of food? Definitely.

Feel free to argue with me, but I think the question of human appetites and society’s desire to profit by pandering to them is a factor here.

(And yes, I did just watch Super Size Me. wink

[25] Posted by PollyPrim on 04-21-2008 at 08:42 AM • top

Spike—

... If it is ever proven scientifically (and the jury’s still very much out on this) that genetically, gays are hard wired with their particular orientation, and that they cannot be otherwise, then we would have to conclude that God created them that way and the whole dialog in the Anglican Communion re: sexual orientation would be forced to take a new tack.

OK, well, so much for the Fall, sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia, and genetically-transmitted diseases generally, spina bifida and other birth defects, the inclination to violence of “extra Y” males, and so on endlessly—in fact, it would appear that nearly every human action has some genetic component in its motivation.

Thanks for clarifying that.

Notice, by the way, that any sinner who claims that he “cannot possibly do otherwise” is denying the efficacy of God’s grace, which is a very broad claim.  On the other hand, the claim that he “cannot possibly be otherwise” is obviously true; we are a fallen race, which is why the whole Jesus thing was necessary in the first place.  C’mon now.

[26] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 04-21-2008 at 08:49 AM • top

Pollyprim,

which is why if the Episcopal Church ever decided to bless gluttony and suggest that it is a good thing, we would have to respond in the same

[27] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-21-2008 at 08:49 AM • top

Matt:

I like your elenchus! The only potential fly in the ointment comes when you say: “I think the question of human appetites and society’s desire to profit by pandering to them is a factor here.”

While our society clearly panders to virtually every desire and appetite (what perversion can one not find on the Internet, for example?), these appetites are nothing new and most are as old as mankind itself. Is the desire to profit from pandering to these appetites a factor in the societal meltdown we are seeing? For sure. Does said pandering cause anyone to experiment with the gay lifestyle? Possibly, but probably very few.

Please note, however, that in all of this I have said nothing other than “I’d like to know whether there is any scientific proof of the notion that gay tendencies might be built in instead of willfully chosen.” If it is the way one is born and he or she cannot be otherwise, doesn’t that change the moral landscape? I think it does.

[28] Posted by spike on 04-21-2008 at 09:00 AM • top

spike,

are you responding to the right person? I did not say ““I think the question of human appetites and society’s desire to profit by pandering to them is a factor here.”

[29] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-21-2008 at 09:03 AM • top

Matt,

Truly a Holy Spirit inspired sermon! This should be distributed throughout every orthodox parish remaining, actually all parishes. No room for squirming, polity or listening processes here, just the truth in love.

To those that would have science excuse sins because of a supposed predisposition, please step back from the the politics and take an objective view. At one time science (of the day) held that criminal behavior could be predicted by the lumps on the subjects skull. We could never make such an error today due to our superior intellect.
Or could we?
Man’s knowledge and view of the world changes radically over time. Sin is the constant. New packaging or scientific theory does not change this or excuse it.

[30] Posted by birminghamer on 04-21-2008 at 09:19 AM • top

Ann, your point is well taken. Once out of TEC, we just found it much easier to proceed based on an acceptance of God’s Word as the baseline on issues like this, which required it to be discussed much less.

[31] Posted by Going Home on 04-21-2008 at 10:16 AM • top

I thought it was good sermon. I have passed it on to some peole of my church for I thought you laid all out very well. (I did give you credit) Our church is going through our own discernment. The biggest obstacle seems to be that people are tied to TEC, including our priest. They don’t realize that it is not the church we grew up with. Besides the whole LGBT thing, what really upsets me is how the liberals treat the conservatives. I am doing my best to get the word out and I think your sermon will help.
Thanks.

[32] Posted by martin5 on 04-21-2008 at 10:22 AM • top

Matt+,

Bravo.  A courageous and appropriate response to the new challenges you face there in Binghamton, now that Bp. Adams is attempting to confiscate your property.  I hope you’ll post the following two sermons in your three-part series too.  I’m praying for you.

But allow me to point out a clear typo in your sermon.  When you cite the famous story in Acts of Peter seeing the vision of all the animals and refusing to eat anything unclean, your sermon manuscript cites the story as being found in Acts 9, instead of Acts 10 (and 11).

FWIW, when I do the same kind of teaching, I point out that three of the four traditions or strands of the Pentatuech (J, D, and P) clearly and emphatically condemn homosexual behavior, regarding it as especially repugnant.  I know you don’t accept the usual source critical analysis, Matt+.  But here is a case where it’s actually useful in supporting the orthodox position (grin).

That is, the famous story of the destruction of wicked Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 clearly comes from the “J” or Yahwistic source.  The twin commands prohibiting homosexual behavior in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 are also clearly part of the general Priestly tradition (though in this case they are from H, the Holiness Code, within the broader P strand).  And then there are the often overlooked repeated mentions of male “temple prostitutes” (Hebrew: qedeshim) in the “D” or Deuteronomistic tradition.  That is, these men staffed pagan shrines and they serviced other men, not women. More importantly, these cult functionaries, the qedeshim,  did so not just for financial gain as “prostitutes”, but as part of an obscene religious rite of union with the pagan fertility god they represented (Baal, Asherah etc.).  The D tradition is scathingly critical of them (e.g., see Deut. 23:17-18; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12 etc.).  Only the “E” source lacks any mention of homosexuality. 

So if you assume the basic validity of the standard source analysis (as I do), then you have J, D, and P, all agreeing as independent traditions that homosexual behavior is totally contrary to the will of God and particularly repellant.

However, even if you reject the source analysis above, the additional biblical references I’ve just pointed do help to show that there are a lot more than just “seven verses” that condemn homosexual behavior in the Bible, as our liberal foes often like to claim.  I know you are aware of that, Matt+, and that a sermon like this is not the place to lay out all the relevant biblical material on homosexual behavior.  I just thought I’d point out that sometimes source analysis actually works in our favor, not against us.

Anyway, keep up the good work.  The eyes of the world are on your little church more than ever now.

David Handy+

[33] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-21-2008 at 10:40 AM • top

spike (#29 etc.),

You aren’t the only one who seems unfamiliar with the growing scientific evidence that strongly suggests that, contrary to popular opinion and conventional wisdom, homoseuxals are NOT “born gay.”  That is, it’s not really true that the “jury is till out ” on this controversial topic.  The scientific tide has turned in the last decade or so, and it’s now running strongly in favor of seeing homosexual behavior as more a matter of environmental influences than of genetic or biological ones.

Permit me a quick summary.  There were three scientific studies in the early 1990s that received a lot of publicity in the secular mass media that initailly SEEMED to indicate that there might be a genetic link or basis for a homosexual orientation.  Unfortuantely for the liberals, those three early studies have now all been basically discredited.  None has been replicated (though many attempts have been made!).

The first such study was by Simon LeVay in 1990, based on studies of dissected brains (sorry, this is a bit gross).  He had less than 20 samples to work with, but he claimed to find an enlarged portion of the hypothalmus in the gay men’s brains.  Unfortuantely, not only was his sample very small, but it’s unclear if his “straight” men samples were really straight.  Many of them had died from AIDS.  And LeVay is an open gay activist and gay man himself.  Besides, it’s unclear whether the brain differences in the few gay men were due to their homosexual behavior, or vice versa, or if both were caused by a common third factor.

Far more influential were the famous twin studies done by Michael Bailey and his various research partners in 1990-91.  Significantly, Bailey is also an out-of-the-closet gay man, making his pro-gay bias clear.  His initial study of over 100 male twins, both identical and fraternal twins, where at least one of the twins was gay, produced a stunning result.  Over half, about 52%, of the identical twins were both gay.  That was huge.  The concordance was much lower among fraternal twins, which certainly suggested some sort of genetic link.  His follow up study of just over 100 female twins produced a similar result, though the concordance rate was a little less impressive.

But these studeis soon came under lots of criticism within the scientific community itself because of the unrepresentative data samples Bailey used.  That is, in order to find such rare creatures as sets of twins where at least one twin was gay, Michael Bailey resorted to advertising in gay publications for volunteers for his study.  This almost certainly skewed his results.

A later, much more careful study by Bailey in 2000 using a much larger, truly random sample failed to replicate his earlier results.  That is, Bailey drew upon a reliable source, the Twin Registry of Australia, that lists some 25,000 twins in that relatively small nation (in terms of population).  He mailed out about 9,000 questionaires and got almost 5,000 back.  A good, representative sample.  But the result?  This time, only some 10-15% of identical twins were both gay (about 11% among male twins, 13% among females), far lower than half as before.

This is getting long.  I’ll resume shortly.

David Handy+

[34] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-21-2008 at 11:09 AM • top

My question here is simply this: If an aspirant for Orders were living with a woman not his wife, would he even get past his parish committee, much less be granted postulancy or ordained?

At the time of +VGR’s confirmation as bishop, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was asked what his position would be if +VGR was in a non-celibate relationship with a woman outside of marriage. His answer was, “That would be problematic.”

the snarkster

[35] Posted by the snarkster on 04-21-2008 at 11:18 AM • top

Continuing my #35 on scientific studies about homosexuality,

Now even 10-15% is well above the normal occurence of homosexuality in the general population (which is roughly 2-4%, see the prestigious General Social Survey done by the University of Chicago from time to time; it’s a standard reference authority in sociology).  But though I’m a NT scholar and this is not my field of expertise, my understanding is that most researchers now think that Bailey’s Australian study is represenatative (it has been replicated), but that there are good reasons for thinking that this SLIGHTLY higher rate of homosexuality among identical twins is not due to genetic factors.  That is, it’s well known that identical twins tend to bond and strongly influence each other.  They are often treated similarly by parents and teachers etc.  So this slight increase may easily be accounted for in terms of nurture, not nature.

More importantly, since identical twins by definition share exactly the same DNA and genes, IF it were true that people are “born gay,” then we’d expect the twins to be identical, ie., both gay or both straight.  But in fact, in the vast majority of cases where one twin was gay, the other wasn’t.  Only 10-15% of the time were both gay.  This actually amounts to very strong evidence AGAINST the popular notion that some people are “born gay.”

And to his credit as a scientist, Michael Bailey himself has admitted that his earlier studies were methodologically flawed and that his Australian study failed to show any sign that homosexuality is genetically linked or based.

I wont’ go into detail about the third study from the early 1990s, the DNA study by Dean Hamer in 1993, but it too has come under heavy fire within the scientific community itself, and it hasn’t been replicated.

Alas, the media hasn’t covered the refutations of these three controversial studies the way that the media trumpeted those original studies.  After all, supporting the conventional views is hardly “newsworthy.”  But there you have it.  We are left with the general public having the false impression that there is probably some eivdence that people are born gay, while the research is continuing to prove it for sure.  The opposite is closer to the truth.  There is a lot we don’t know about the murky subject of sexual orientation, but the trend is clear.  And it strongly suggests that same sex attractions are more a matter of environmental influence (life experience) than of biological destiny. 

But will liberals ever admit this?  Don’t hold your breath waiting.

David Handy+

[36] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-21-2008 at 11:27 AM • top

David,

What significance do you attach to the fact that homosexuality is not genetically determined? Why, in your view, does it matter (if it does)?

[37] Posted by Paul Stanley on 04-21-2008 at 11:35 AM • top

Thank you Matt for your sermon.  I know it would be nice if we lived in a world where we would not have to address such subjects. However, were do we get this information - perhaps TV, movies, liberal news. 
When you watch network tv and almost every sitcom and show, even HGTV, presents the gay lifestyle as good and normal - where do we go to hear the truth if not our churches. Personally, you are singing to the choir for me but this sermon will help when I am in a conversation with family and friends who do not know the truth. Thanks for the help.

[38] Posted by friend on 04-21-2008 at 11:35 AM • top

# 28
Exactly, Matt. (Although ++VGR is an alcoholic, so maybe that’s next. wink )

# 29

Spike, that was me, not Matt. And I disagree that said pandering doesn’t encourage people to experiment with a gay lifestyle. Whether it’s straight or gay, I think the constant bombardment of erotic imagery in the modern media encourages experimentation and causes all kinds of collateral damage. Of course, I don’t have any statistics to back up this belief; it’s just my woman’s intuition.

[39] Posted by PollyPrim on 04-21-2008 at 11:55 AM • top

Matt+, my REC parish is praying for you and for Good Shepherd.

mark

[40] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 04-21-2008 at 12:12 PM • top

Matt+,

Very well written and effectively put! I wish that all self-proclaimed “orthodox” or “conservatives” or “traditionalists” still trying to maintain administrative, jurisdictional and eucharistic fellowship with the apostates would read, mark, and inwardly digest the clear Biblical exegesis you’ve presented!

If you do edit/expand this for circulation or publication, I hope you’ll be able to work in 2 Cor 6:14-17 in as well, as it helps make explicit that the New Testament commands the faithful not to be in fellowship or communion with either apostates or heretics… and helps show how the courageous stand you and your parish have made is the stand mandated by Scripture.

pax Christi,
LP

[41] Posted by LP on 04-21-2008 at 12:30 PM • top

Matt, your last two articles have been fantastic, especially in the balance that they struck.  Thanks very much for your great writing with this sermon and the middle way article.

[42] Posted by Sarah on 04-21-2008 at 12:33 PM • top

#38 Paul Stanley -
It matters in regards to refuting the argument that “God made me this way, so it must be okay” or “God created me as a homosexual, and all of creation is good”.

[43] Posted by CarolynP on 04-21-2008 at 01:54 PM • top

“But if we compromise on this matter, I think we also compromise our integrity, our faith, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. These things are far more important than buildings or assets or furniture.”

May God bless you mightily, Father Matthew!

[44] Posted by Alice Linsley on 04-21-2008 at 02:01 PM • top

It seems to me that the “All creation is good” argument cuts it only if you’re discussing the time before the Fall. 

Fr. Handy and co., Dr. Jackie Keenan’s review of the literature regarding homosexual behavior is, in my view, a good one outlining studies discussing the nature/nurture(or both) causality of homosexuality.  Based on the studies she describes, it seems inaccurate to ever describe homosexual behavior as “genetic”, “inborn”, or “hardwired”.  The jury is truly still out on this, despite revisionists’ grumping to the contrary.  Plus, as someone else described above, to blame behavior on genetics is largely a fools’ game; it undermines the concept of choosing behaviors and human free will, as evidenced by the fact that not all men with an XYY genotype are murderers or “obligated” to act out violently.

http://anglicancommunioninstitute.com/content/view/108/2/

Interesting how revisionists like to bust Dr. Keenan as a veterinarian; “she studies animals, not people” but don’t hesitate also to explain human homosexual behavior by saying the animals do it, too.  If I remember correctly from a chapter of Deborah Blum’s book “Sex on the Brain”, there are truly only about two animal species that engage in homosexual behaviors, compared to the millions that don’t.  Any person with a graduate science degree(including Dr. Keenan and for that matter, me) is perfectly capable of doing an accurate paper and review of the literature, and that is what Dr. Keenan did for our Anglican community.

As far as attempting to argue with Scripture’s true treatment of homosexual behaviors(committed or not), I challenge any revisionist to get around Dr. Robert Gagnon’s Biblical arguments.  “Becuz we love everybody” or “Becuz we feel like it” or “All creation is good” just doesn’t cut it as to why the sacrament of marriage should be redefined on demand, or a “blessing” placed on said relationships.

http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/HomosexHowBadIsIt.pdf

Fr. Kennedy’s pulpit is his own and he is permitted to bring any subject up in it he wants—nothing wrong with explaining to his church how “it” all got where it is.  And he’s right—gay sex, and by extension “marriage” is something the Episcopal church has decided to “bless” or lift up, so, based on the Scriptural instruction we already have on the subject(which is in total conflict with TEC’s position, contrary to popular belief), any priest worth his salt has the right to question the National church’s position, in the pulpit or otherwise. 

Just so everyone knows as well that I’m an equal opportunity employer, were I clergy I would not put a blessing on a gay relationship, committed or not, or expect to be ordained to the priesthood or consecrated bishop, any more than I would expect a “blessing” on my own heterosexual adultery.

[45] Posted by Passing By on 04-21-2008 at 02:48 PM • top

Paul Stanley (#38),

Sorry to be slow in responding to your question “Why does it matter?,” but others have basically done it for me.  I would just add that the issue isn’t merely whether or not a certain minority of people are genetically predisposed to be attracted to the same sex.  The broader or underlying question is this: Was St. Paul right in assuming that homosexual behavior is “contrary to nature” (“para physin” in Greek, see Rom. 1:24-27)?  That is, there are other possible biological or psychological explanations for the origins of same sex attractions that would render them supposedly “natural” or morally neutral.  However, none of them have stood up to scrutiny.

And though I’m in danger of the Commenatrix censoring the following paragraph, I’ll just add that if the evidence from the field of modern genetics seems highly complex and dauntingly obscure, the crucial evidence from human anatomy is the opposite.  Fortunately, it is clear to any unbiased person.

That is, since the vast majority of homosexuals are men, and the main way they engage in sex is via anal intercourse, it doesn’t take a medical degree to realize that frequent anal intercourse is highly unnatural.  In fact it poses quite severe health risks.  If you’ll all pardon the graphic detail for a moment, this is because of the simple anatomical fact that the anal canal is thinly lined, unlike the vagina.  As a result, gay men suffer from an enormously high risk of serious infections since the anal passage is so easily bruised and torn, admitting many nasty toxic elements into the blood stream.  And unfortunately, condoms don’t suffice to protect against this bruising and tearing.

Any doctor who treats large numbers of gay men can confirm that it’s a well-known fact that gay men suffer from infectious diseases at a far higher rate than straight men.  Thus, even apart from AIDS or STD’s, engaging in anal intercourse is very risky sexual behavior.  And this is why the life expectancy of gay men is FAR below that of the general population.  In blunt language, the vagina was designed by our Maker for sex, the anal passageway wasn’t.

Bottom line: Paul was right.  Homosexual behavior is indeed “contrary to nature.”  And even apart from the evidence from Scripture and Tradition, which is unanimously and overwhelmingly negative of course, the evidence from Reason, properly understood, is also emphatically opposed to the “gay is OK” delusion. That is why condoning such an unhealthy and risky lifestyle, as TEC has done, is actually the most unloving thing you can do.

David Handy+

[46] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-21-2008 at 04:19 PM • top

Geek in Dallas (#46),

I’m glad you mentioned the important evidence marshalled by Dr.Jackie Keenan (the vet who is now a seminary student at VTS) and by Dr. Robert Gagnon (the distinguished NT professor at Pittsburgh Seminary [Presbyterian]).  Thank you for providing helpful links for both of them.

Prof. Gagnon is my hero in this fight.  His biblical scholarship is absolutely impeccable.  I just wish we had someone on the Anglican side who compared with him and who was equally committed to upholding the orthodox position in this church civil war.

FWIW, I’ll just add that two essential studies have been done by a dynamic duo of evangelical experts in psychology: Stanton Jones (Provost at my alma mater, Wheaton College) and Mark Yarhouse (connected with Regent University in VA Beach).  A few years ago, Jones and Yarhouse published an admirable guide to the scientific evidence about homosexuality in their valuable book,  “Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Contemporary Debate” (or something like that, I’m going by memory).  It reviews the scientfic literature fairly, comprehensively, and in a very readable, accessible manner for non-specialists.

But now, this pair of experts in psychological research have outdone themselves with their blockbuster sequel called, “Ex-Gays?”  This much longer and somewhat more technical book provides the most thorough documentation to date that yes, a homosexual orientation CAN be changed through Christ, i.e., religious therapy.  I’m no expert in their field, but it seems to me that they’ve presented a slam-dunk case that’s rock solid scientifically.  For anyone wanting the latest in up-to-date research on homosexuality from a well-informed evangelical perspective, these two guys have done it.

But will the secular media, or the popular culture pay any attention to such solid research?  Probably not.  The public believes what it WANTS to believe, whether it’s supported by the evidence or not.  The dominant relativist worldview militates against accepting an alternative viewpoint like the traditional Christian view.

David Handy+

[47] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-21-2008 at 04:42 PM • top

- I don’t know what causes “same sex attraction” or what causes some people to want multiple sexual partners in one night, or what initiates the idea to commit any sin in the Book. Theologians have wrestled with that for centuries, and I have nothing to add. If scientists wish to say (without proof) that such behaviors are “hard-wired” in humanity, let them say it. It only undermines their authority and respectability. Perhaps, though, they’ve discovered a biological basis for original sin. We shall see.

- I’m no expert on sex. I’m male. My wife is the only person I’ve ever “known” and we’ve been married for more than 30 years. I think that having sex with somebody is ALWAYS a decision on the part of at least one partner.

- Having daytime and nocturnal fantasies about sin, and not taking time-honored steps to eradicate them is also a decision.

= Divorcing one’s wife and taking on a same-sex partner is a decision.

- I also know with utter and absolute certainty that under certain circumstances, sex between man and woman can have a mystical, sacramental, and mutually sanctifying nature.

- I can think of many examples in which heterosexual sex does not appear to be mutually sanctifying.

- My limited understanding of the classic scriptures and traditions of the world’s religions (to the extent that I’ve discussed them) unite to say that same sex is always mutually defiling. I’m not aware of loopholes. In the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, there are absolutely no examples of a sanctifying sexual relationship between two men or two women.

- Is this sin so bad that it can lead to quenching of the Holy Spirit, removal of the Holy Spirit, and eternity separate from God? Speculative exegesis, some would say! Perhaps, so.

- The more advanced black magic initiation rituals involve…GUESS WHAT!!!

Enough. I suspect that if I’d been at Matt’s church on Sunday, I might have cried over the fact that the actions of his former bishop had led him to preach on this topic, rather than the wonderful BCP lectionary texts assigned for the day. I would only hope that the children’s sermon had a lighter touch.

[48] Posted by Ralph on 04-21-2008 at 07:18 PM • top

Expanding the remark about black magic rituals, it is characteristic of black magic to attempt to “unmake” the created order, to turn nature upside down.  It is not surprising, therefore, that black magic rituals would include something which is “contrary to nature.”

[49] Posted by Ann Castro on 04-21-2008 at 07:30 PM • top

May God bless you mightily, Fr. Kennedy, in the days and months ahead. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”

[50] Posted by Bob K. on 04-21-2008 at 08:20 PM • top

David:

Thank you for your thoughtful and helpful post. I really mean this. The simple fact is that when it comes to the question of sexual orientation, while I am a broadcast engineer, I am not a genetic or biological scientist. I tend to trust what is emperically verifiable, and in fact, that is the foundational philosophical orientation of my theology. The folks at the Athenaeum of Ohio (an RC seminary) spent years trying to make a good existentialist out of me. My problems were finally resolved when I went back to Atlanta for a meeting with my bishop and I met up with my college philosophy professor. I said something like “can you give me the short course on existentialism? My graduate professors are trying to convert me.” His response? “I don’t know nothing about no existentialism. I was trained in the analytic tradition.” If a professional philosopher didn’t understand it, I didn’t feel so bad.

My point here is that while we can all agree that both Testaments condemn homosexuality, we can also agree that the books of the Bible are not tape transcripts. They were written to specific audiences with particular “spins” on the facts. This is Intro to NT 101. What is needed (and what you in part provided) is the hard data to prove or disprove that there is a “hard wired” disposition to sexual preference. If what you cite turns out to be accurate (and I believe that it very well might), then my misgivings will be satisfied. I just don’t expect to have a definitive answer this side of Eternity. Failing that, I don’t see much choice other than to accept the traditional stance, but be open to the possibility that it may be proven wrong. A parallel might be “I accept that the planet might be warmer today than in 1776, but I’m not so sure that humans are responsible.”
Show me the evidence.

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

[51] Posted by spike on 04-21-2008 at 09:33 PM • top

To #47—I totally agree!

[52] Posted by helpmelord on 04-21-2008 at 09:42 PM • top

Okay. I have a problem of epistemology here. These days, even believers in the Gospels tend to take scientific evidence as conclusive, and scriptural evidence must be accommodated to that. How do we know what we know? That’s what epistemology is about. Science is but one among many paths to knowing, and in many views (my own included) not the ultimate one. Further, science works by narrowing its focus to a very small dimension. This necessarily excludes ethical, moral, or social concerns, much less spiritual ones—even when attempts are made to apply scientific methodology to areas outside its purview. There are areas of concern where the application of the scientific method is more a matter of having made a philosophical decision (science is the arbiter of all truth) rather than an appropriate use of that method. The Lord stands ready to receive our gifts, including our surrender to Him of our own fallen inclinations. I fail to see where the scientific studies described above enter into that relationship.

[53] Posted by ears2hear on 04-21-2008 at 10:21 PM • top

ears2hear:
Here’s the thing. Epistemology is in fact the theory of knowledge. How do we know? I for one, come down on the side of empiricism, i. e., we know through experience. This is also one of the surest foundations for theology, in my never humble opinion. We know God because we have experienced Him. Revelation continues, in other words. If it didn’t how could we ever come to a knowledge of God? We couldn’t.

Scriptural evidence doesn’t necessarily need to be subject to scientific method, but there is no necessary tension between the two, either. Let’s be clear here. Video tape wasn’t invented until 1967. Audio tape about 40 years prior. The biblical authors weren’t historians in any recognizable modern sense of the word. Does that mean that they aren’t reliable? Absolutely not! What it means is that what they wrote was written for a specific audience with particular emphases. It’s the concept of kerygma—the core message of the NT. The book of Job, for example, doesn’t have to be word for word true (it’s a work of fiction, actually, as is Jonah, but I digress) in order for it to convey the message that it does. Bad things happen to good people ,and even when it does, it can be a sanctifying experience and draw one closer to God. Does the fact that the OT contains works of fiction mean that the message is diluted? Of course not! If works of fiction did not convey important, even crucial insights into the human condition, the “reading lists” every college loves to send out to high school students would be devoid of works of Shakespeare, Goethe, Faulkner and the like. Of course fiction can edify, even fiction written with an avowedly pious purpose. Lest anyone accuse me of it, I am not trying to equate Goethe or Faulkner with any of the biblical authors.

The bottom line here is that scientific method is in fact appropriate in biblical studies, in fact, for over 100 years, biblical scholarship has relied on it. There is, after all, a difference between a simple faith and an easy faith. A simple faith says “I believe, God, help me understand.” An easy faith says “The Bible says it. I believe it.  That ends it.” I choose the former.

[54] Posted by spike on 04-22-2008 at 01:15 AM • top

Scripture isn’t a collection of biographies, history books, or science texts. If a Rationalist wants to study Scripture that way (the way a biologist might dissect a squid rather than watch its beautiful underwater movements), he might start with Jefferson’s bible, which excludes the things that Thomas Jefferson couldn’t explain or didn’t believe.

Scripture is a series of practical instruction manuals and commentaries, leading those who are interested towards ultimate union with God. The Gospels presuppose a working knowledge of (and experience with) the Hebrew Scriptures, and the other Christian Scriptures are further elaborations.

It would seem that there are also those who are not at all interested in union with God in heaven.

[55] Posted by Ralph on 04-22-2008 at 08:06 AM • top

spike (#52),

You are welcome.  I’m glad you found my posts helpful.  Of course, I only scratched the surface of some difficult and complex issues.  And there are others who are better qualified to speak to the scientific side of this great debate.  I was just passing along some highlights from what I’ve read by some of the experts on our side.

And thanks for the encouragement in #53, helpmelord.  I appreciate it.

David Handy+

[56] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-22-2008 at 08:36 AM • top

Ralph (#56),

Ah, the nature of the Bible, its purpose and authority.  That really is the hidden question that everything depends on, isn’t it?

And while I’d agree that the Holy Scriptures have a thoroughly pragmatic nature, and their ultimate purpose is indeed to lead us to salvation and eternal life, which climaxes in the beatific vision of God and perfect union with Him in the age to come (e.g., 2 Tim. 3:15; John 20:31), I would reframe your claim somewhat differently.  That is, instead of saying, “Scripture is a series of practical instruction manuals and commentaries,” (which seems to suggest a rule book or book of laws), I’d prefer to say that the Holy Scriptures are more of a collection of stories and other types of literature that together tell us the Great Story.  That is, the Bible is basically the story of God’s redeeming love for his lost and rebellious creation.  More fully, it’s the story of how that redemption was prepared and foreshadowed under the Old Covenant with Israel, accomplished in Christ under the New Covenant through his saving death and resurrection, and how it will ultimately be consummated in the age to come.

Lutherans love to speak of the Law and Gospel dialectic or tension.  And for Jews, the Bible is indeed fundamentally a practical manual of instructions on how to live in covenant with God (Torah).  But we Christians have generally stressed the narrative nature of Scripture as a whole and it’s promissory character.  And though there are many ways of describing just what it is that God promises us in Christ (forgiveness, salvation, deliverance from the power of sin and death etc.), the most common way of putting it is simply that God’s offer is LIFE.  Life eternal and life abundant and overflowing, now and forever.

And our Anglican liturgical tradtion affirms this central Christian tradition of how to interpret the whole point of Scripture.  In the well-known and much-loved words of Archbishop Cranmer’s collect about the Bible (that we pray in November), we are reminded that God “caused all holy Scripture to be written for our learning,” and we pray for the grace to so “hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the message of the Scriptures that we might in the end be able to “embrace and ever hold fast the promise of everlasting life” given us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I think you probably agree with all that, Ralph.  I hope you might accept it as a “friendly amendment,” so to speak, of your #59.

David handy+

[57] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-22-2008 at 10:05 AM • top

And my reply to spike #56 is simply to refer him to the far more adequate and elegant discussions of issues of modernity, empiricism and biblical criticism by the estimable C.S. Lewis, with my additional thanks to Fr. Handy (#58) for his contribution.

[58] Posted by ears2hear on 04-22-2008 at 11:51 AM • top

There is sooooo much misinformation in both Fr. Kennedys sermon and in the comments above, and I really need to prep for this evenings Bible study session, but a few random thoughts…FWIW

NRA #47: the main way they engage in sex…
Whoa, dude, I dont know (sorry, folks, my apostrophe key is stuck) where you get this insider info, but, well, Id be a bit concerned about your source…  David Virtue and his commentors??

Ralph #49: - I also know with utter and absolute certainty that under certain circumstances, sex between man and woman can have a mystical, sacramental, and mutually sanctifying nature.

- I can think of many examples in which heterosexual sex does not appear to be mutually sanctifying.

The same could be said of homosexual relationships. You may not believe it, but perhaps you simply do not have the experience…

Ralph again: I would only hope that the children’s sermon had a lighter touch.
Yes, one would hope so. I found it actually quite disturbing that Fr. Kennedy felt compelled to expound on homosexuality, of which (I assume?) he has no direct experience. (Yes, one can certainly preach about murder without having been a murderer or victim, but…) And surprising, as well: As an openly gay man I have never felt compelled to preach on sexuality at all! It might be a topic for a pastoral conversation, a book group or adult forum, but a sermon? Good grief…

[59] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-22-2008 at 11:53 AM • top

A complete lack of sermons on sexuality, PW, is one of the reasons I’m not an Episcopalian anymore.  I don’t recall anyone at my old joint ever preaching that adultery was a bad thing.  Probably since it would have cost them many a pledge check.

[60] Posted by Christopher Johnson on 04-22-2008 at 12:08 PM • top

As an openly gay man I have never felt compelled to preach on sexuality at all! It might be a topic for a pastoral conversation, a book group or adult forum, but a sermon? Good grief…

1) Why does that not surprise me?

2) While there was concern that this sermon focus on a minority of sexual sins (I have a different timescale to the current crisis and if you watch me get on my soap box any here, when a majority of HoB who voted to accept NH choice is on their second or more marriages, I see another type of pornea).

3) It’s in the Scripture, I’d say it’s fair game for a sermon. In an expository style series in Genesis, not only did cover it Gen. 19 but my priest did not take the easy way out and preached Gen 34 when that came in rotation. I believe the term St. Paul gave us is all Scripture is profitable for teaching. Judges 11 would probably be about as suicidal as Gen 34, but I’ve not seen anyone do an series in Judges (we’re doing it in small groups).

[61] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 04-22-2008 at 12:45 PM • top

#60. PadreWayne. It would seem that you might know much more about these things than I do.

To help us understand what you mean, please cite one example in Scripture, or in tradition (Rabbinic, Patristic, mystical), when two or more people of the same sex are in a mutually sanctifying, physical sexual relationship. One example will suffice, but more than one might be more edifying.

Can there be ever bona fide “moments of consolation” in such encounters, or are these inevitably feelings of false consolation that ultimately lead to utter desolation?

After all, discernment of God’s will is a dicey matter. Sin profoundly distorts our perceptions of a mystical experience. The devil’s great power is that of deception. He’s very good at that.

Thus, tradition teaches that a mystical experience, no matter how magnificent it was, has to meet certain criteria to be considered valid.

1. The experience leaves no sense of despair or hopelessness. It might have been confusing, but it is not irrational.
2. The experience must be consistent with God’s revelation in Christ, as revealed by Scripture.
3. The experience should give a sense of inner peace, without attachment to a certain human agenda or outcome.
4. We should be left with a sense that our actions please God.
5. The test of time.

A “false consolation” seems like a good thing at the time, but in perspective there is actually severe anxiety, spiritual restlessness, and cold feelings of emptiness as one draws further away from God.

Once we have accepted his authority over us, the devil continues to comfort us with false revelations and consolations. The denials of Truth continue, much in the way that an unrepentant murderer kicks and screams on the way to the scaffold.

I think Matt was spot-on in what he said. But, that’s just my opinion.

[62] Posted by Ralph on 04-22-2008 at 12:54 PM • top

Fr. Kennedy’s sermon has stimulated a good discussion of the Bible. I’ll toss in another view: 
Scripture is the testament of the working out of God’s faithfulness.

Spike, I think you’d enjoying reading some of the entries here: http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com

[63] Posted by Alice Linsley on 04-22-2008 at 12:54 PM • top

RE: ” . . . I have never felt compelled to preach on sexuality at all”

Sad.  Not surprising, of course, but sad. 

I wonder if PW has ever preached on any of the other seven deadly sins: Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride.

[64] Posted by Sarah on 04-22-2008 at 01:33 PM • top

In Wayne’s World sermons are preached about “LUV”. Failing that, it is MDG’s.

[65] Posted by via orthodoxy on 04-22-2008 at 01:43 PM • top

Actually, via orthodoxy, I do preach about love. God’s love. The overarching message of Holy Scripture, found again and again and again. And your problem with that is…?

Sarah, I have preached more than once about Pride and Greed. I wasn’t aware that sexuality per se was a deadly sin, though. In your Gospel? Yikes, that sure puts a LOT of us in trouble!

Alice: Spot on. Scripture, the human response to the sacred, is the testament of the working out of God’s faithfulness.  One of our Eucharistic prayers says, “But you never ceased to care for us.” How profoundly true.

Now, Ralph—a thorough and thought provoking set of comments. I don’t have time to address all, but here’s a bit.

You asked: “...please cite one example in Scripture, or in tradition (Rabbinic, Patristic, mystical), when two or more people of the same sex are in a mutually sanctifying, physical sexual relationship.” and I cannot, unless one includes the possibility of Jonathan and David (and I don’t find the argument for that particularly compelling). Omission in Scripture doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, though. Omission in Scripture doesn’t mean that it cannot happen, either. We must remember that all Scripture is interpretation; all writers had their own theology, their own agenda. Same-sex attraction and the fulfillment of that attraction in a faithful and other-honoring way quite possibly just wasn’t on the radar. Or was so rare or so unusual and not understood that it didn’t warrant inclusion.

“Can there be ever bona fide “moments of consolation” in such encounters…”
Absolutely.

“After all, discernment of God’s will is a dicey matter.”
It certainly is. Prayer, meditation, Scripture, conversation, lectio divina, reflection—they’re all involved. Along with a healthy dose of humility.

I’m with you on your 5-point test. You would deny that I agree with #2, but my reading of Scripture (see top of this entry) leads me to a conclusion that yes, my relationship is holy and blessed and full of grace.

[66] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-22-2008 at 02:31 PM • top

but my reading of Scripture

PadreWayne,

OK, the line, sinker, hook, and bait are in the water, so I’ll give it a go.  What are your thoughts on the Church’s (one, holy, catholic, apostolic - and historic) reading of Holy Scripture?

[67] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 04-22-2008 at 02:43 PM • top

Padre Wayne, God’s love is not a mushy affection, akin to the response many of us have to kittens, puppies, and babies.  God’s love is strong and true—and God’s wrath is a measure of his love.  Just as a mother or father vehemently fights against those things that will injure her or his child, so too God resists sin and evil.  Furthermore, he is the one who defines what is good and evil, and we do not have the right (or the capacity) to redefine good and evil, so that we can bless what he has condemned.

When we reasserters call for sexual morality (briefly—celibacy for the unmarried and faithfulness for the married [heterosexual, the only option God gives]), we are speaking for God’s love.  He loves us enough to tell us what is the right way to handle our sexual emotions and drives, rather than allowing us to do whatever we please.  Doing whatever one thinks pleasant at the moment may be fun for a time, but it leads to captivity soon enough.  God, in his love, wants to spare us misery.  Will he accept a person enmeshed in sexual—or other—sin?  Certainly. Does he leave them enmeshed?  Never!

The same is true for the other areas of sin - coveting, theft, lying, laziness, and so on.  God tells us what he wants, and tells us what will harm us.  We defy him at our peril—for to do so means that we have chosen to insult our Father, we have disobeyed our King, and we have opened ourselves to events that will hurt us unless God spares us in his mercy.

God’s mercy is huge, beyond our capacity to imagine.  At the same time, his justice is real.  Those who think that God’s love means that he will be unjust and merely overlook our sins do not know what the love of God means.  God’s love is so great that he sent Jesus to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  If he takes sin that seriously, we must do so as well, and flee from what he forbids, trusting him to transform our hearts and lives and to enable our obedience.

[68] Posted by AnglicanXn on 04-22-2008 at 03:01 PM • top

AnglicanXn #69: “Padre Wayne, God’s love is not a mushy affection, akin to the response many of us have to kittens, puppies, and babies. “
I never said that.
I never have said that.
I don’t believe it.

God’s love is fierce, radical, abundantly generous.

Athanasius Returns #68 asks, “What are your thoughts on the Church’s (one, holy, catholic, apostolic - and historic) reading of Holy Scripture?”
Good grief. Which verse? :-D

[69] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-22-2008 at 03:11 PM • top

PadreWayne,

My comment’s context is your statement about your reading of Scripture.  Hope that helps.  Your now have the spotlight…

[70] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 04-22-2008 at 03:20 PM • top

“Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
  “But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’
  “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

[71] Posted by Bob K. on 04-22-2008 at 03:23 PM • top

I never said that.
I never have said that.
I don’t believe it.

God’s love is fierce, radical, abundantly generous.

Sorry - most people who speak only about God’s love seem to be speaking of some sort of mush that ignores wrongdoing and bad attitudes,  simply accepting people just as they are and leaving them the same as before.

I also believe that God’s love is “fierce, radical, and abundantly generous.”  It is for that reason that I am convinced that God seeks us to obey his revealed will and has not, and never will, countenance disobedience.  He will, as 1 John 1:8 & 9 say, “forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
In the particular issue that has set off all this pain in the Anglican Communion, he will not, because of his “fierce, radical, and abundantly generous love,” allow a same-sex couple to say “Our actions are acceptable to God” when all things come before him at his throne.

What is your basis for saying, “God’s love is fierce, radical, abundantly generous”?  And what do you mean by those phrases?  Is God fickle or foolish, that he, in “love,” changes his mind from one millennium to the next?  Or does he require that we conform our lives to Jesus Christ and follow his commands?

Love that allows us to ignore the commands of Scripture simply makes no sense to me.  Such is not love, but indulgence.

[72] Posted by AnglicanXn on 04-22-2008 at 03:34 PM • top

Back to Padre Wayne’s passing comment in #60, questioning my source for my #47,

I have no personal experience with same sex behavior.  But I did know my brother-in-law quite well, and he was in the gay lifestyle for many years, then radically converted and healed.  His name was Joseph Hallett, and he founded the Exodus ministry in Minneapolis, called “Outpost,” one of the earliest and most influential ex-gay ministries in the country.  I also have some friends who are ex-gays.

But let me turn the question around.  On what basis do you question my statement that the main way gay men engage in sex is via anal intercourse?  Inquiring minds would like to know how you know about such things…

David Handy+

[73] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-22-2008 at 03:57 PM • top

I struggle for loving and thoughtful ways to responding to this posting.  So far I fail, except to say only this.

[74] Posted by nashvilleepiscopalian on 04-22-2008 at 04:29 PM • top

Padre Wayne said, “Scripture, the human response to the sacred, is the testament of the working out of God’s faithfulness. One of our Eucharistic prayers says, ‘But you never ceased to care for us.’ How profoundly true.”

I disagree that Scripture is “the human response to the sacred.”  And the Eucharistic prayer that states “You never ceased to care for us” is problematic if interpreted materially. God’s faithfulness may involve no material provision and still be faithful.

[75] Posted by Alice Linsley on 04-22-2008 at 04:38 PM • top

A fine sermon, Fr. Kennedy. I wish you strength and courage for the days to come.

[76] Posted by Chazzy on 04-22-2008 at 05:01 PM • top

God’s love is fierce, radical, abundantly generous.

That reminds me of a cartoon, sported by a Reformed tract (yes, there really are such things!). 

The focal point was a bumper-sticker that read, “Smile, God loves you!”

The sticker was affixed to Noah’s Ark.

[77] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-22-2008 at 05:11 PM • top

#67. David and Jonathan? Oy, oy, oy. We both know that old dog died years ago. We who didn’t have Hebrew in seminary (or if it’s gotten rusty), might go find a rabbi who can translate it maybe several different ways. David had other matters of sin (as do we all, in different ways), and these are spelled out rather clearly.

Omission in Scripture doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, though. Omission in Scripture doesn’t mean that it cannot happen, either. We must remember that all Scripture is interpretation; all writers had their own theology, their own agenda. Same-sex attraction and the fulfillment of that attraction in a faithful and other-honoring way quite possibly just wasn’t on the radar. Or was so rare or so unusual and not understood that it didn’t warrant inclusion.

Uhhh…I feel like a fish being baited…we who didn’t study Scripture in seminary (or if it’s gotten rusty), well…it’s just not omitted. Some people wish it were omitted, but it’s right on the gaydar in fairly clear language. Again, a rabbi might help with the Hebrew, though Rob Gagnon seems to have a good command of Hebrew and Greek.

There would be no need for the explicit Levitical ban, the many negative examples, and the other prohibitions, if same sex attraction had not been known of.

The only argument that holds any water, in my opinion, is that Scripture clearly says what tradition says it does, and that those who feel otherwise have the Free Will to simply declare that “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” Of course, being a Paleo-orthodox Mystical Evangelical Anglo-Catholic Free Will Episcopalian, I might opine that this is a spiritually dangerous idea. (Excuse me while I go find some holy water.)

OK I’m back.

I’m with you on your 5-point test. You would deny that I agree with #2, but my reading of Scripture (see top of this entry) leads me to a conclusion that yes, my relationship is holy and blessed and full of grace.

#67. Be very careful, and keep praying for continued discernment even though you’re certain that you’re correct. God will come to you in a dream, and will help you. Meditate on the word, “my” in the quote above, and compare “my” to the readings of centuries of Jews and Christians. “I” have to be very careful when “I” read Scripture because “I” see only what the devil wants “me” to see. We have to pray for the ability to see past that.

This 5-point test is from St. Ignatius, probably completely mangled. Apologies to those who know these writings better than I do.

#72. Spot-on.

#74. Amen. Your brother-in-law is most blessed to have had this conversion experience. Most people in the “lifestyle” don’t hear the still, small voice calling them to metanoia. Stand beside him, and pray for his continued strength. Getting rid of this affliction in his physical life, his daytime fantasies, and in his dreams may well be the most difficult test he will ever have to pass.

I think it’s time to sign off on this thread.

Solid work, Matt. May you never have to preach that sermon again!

[78] Posted by Ralph on 04-22-2008 at 05:37 PM • top

Moot (#78),

LOL.  What a delightful cartoon idea.

You deserve a free trip to the Laffin’ Place.  I hope Br_er Rabbit takes note of your comment and offers you one.

David Handy+

[79] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-22-2008 at 05:44 PM • top

“Omission in Scripture
doesn’t mean that it cannot happen, either. We must remember that all
Scripture is interpretation; all writers had their own theology, their own
agenda. Same-sex attraction and the fulfillment of that attraction in a
faithful and other-honoring way quite possibly just wasn’t on the radar.
Or was so rare or so unusual and not understood that it didn’t warrant
inclusion”.

Oh, they understood it, all right, they just chose to preach against it, and copiously, too. 

Wayne, “marrying” a gay couple, especially men, and assuming they are not going to engage in anal sex is really a stretch for me, just like assuming that you’re marrying a straight couple and they’re not going to have sex either.  Rather a complete Non Sequitur—and, for the record, I don’t, both for theological AND medical reasons, condone straight sodomy any more than I condone gay sodomy—bottom line is that said passage is anatomically designed to be an exit, not an entrance.  And, sorry, no pun intended, those that force the issue usually end up in bad shape, for many and various medical reasons.

Modern science, so far, has not come up with much of anything conclusive by way of the origins of orientation.  And, “orientation” does not automatically excuse action, free will/choice, and decision-making.  Get me around this Judeo-Christian Scriptural argument, for men or women, and then maybe I would consider a same-sex “blessing” or “marriage”: 

http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/HomosexHowBadIsIt.pdf

Otherwise, I wish those who feel they should toss at will the theological definitions of our sacraments would get it over with and simply go join the Unitarian church.

And, call me another intellectually-underdeveloped traditional, but the Scriptures are the timeless, inspired word of God, and not just an optional rulebook written for the authors’ culture-du-jour. 

God bless,

GiD

[80] Posted by Passing By on 04-22-2008 at 06:32 PM • top

An excellent sermon. I am glad to see a Rector who has courage to stand firm in his faith and tell the truth about homosexual behaviour.
#1 Dylan’s comment about homosexual relationships being “fruit of the spirit” and private consultation about homosexuality being more appropiate! We have heard that nonsense far too long. Matt is telling the truth from his pulpit my dear, something that has been missing from most episcopal pulpits for decades.

[81] Posted by bradhutt on 04-22-2008 at 07:28 PM • top

RE: “Sarah, I have preached more than once about Pride and Greed. I wasn’t aware that sexuality per se was a deadly sin, though.”

PW—lust is one of the seven deadly sins.

How interesting.

You’re willing to preach about pride and greed—but not lust.

Do ya’ think it might be easier for yout to preach against the sins you don’t struggle with?

Thank you Matt—for being willing to consistently preach about lust, whether heterosexual or homosexual, as you indicate you have done.  As we see even from this thread—and as we certainly have experienced—Episcopal priests in general ignore the sins that make them uncomfortable.

[82] Posted by Sarah on 04-22-2008 at 09:17 PM • top

#75 Nashvilleepiscopalian—Welcome back!

[83] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 04-22-2008 at 09:27 PM • top

Sarah, if you read my comment, you’d see that I said I hadn’t preached about “sexuality,” not “lust.” I have, actually, preached about lust (which is, of course, one of the seven deadly sins). Lust and sexuality are not the same, are they? So don’t put words into my mouth, thank you very much.

As for your question: I struggle particularly with the sin of pride, and find preaching about it helpful to me as well as to others.

I don’t think Fr. Matthew actually preached about lust. He preached about homosexuality. Which is not the same thing.

I’m not going to argue with those above whose fantasies about gay sex are… their own. I don’t assume anything about the sexual tastes of people I marry (or whose relationships I bless) except that they be honorable, life-enhancing, spiritually enhancing, faithful, and mutually pleasurable.

#79 Ralph, Good grief, I said in my post that I do not find arguments that D&J;had a sexual relationship compelling! Read the comment, please, before arguing. And nope, the sort of homosexual relationship we are talking about (I think) is not mentioned in Scripture. But so many of us have been down this road it’s probably pointless for you and me to argue about it. Too bad, ‘cause I do find your engagement interesting and thought-provoking. And I also appreciate your modesty. I certainly make a mash of things from time to time, as well.

I am not, never have been, a Unitarian. I am totally Trinitarian in belief and worship. (Why people throw out Unitarianism so frequently in accusing the Episcopal Church is beyond me—Universalist, perhaps, Universalism, perhaps, but Unitarian? Not bloody likely.) And I do not think you are an intellectually underdeveloped traditional.

Scriptures are timeless how? Since the NT was written after the life of Jesus and only collated into canon in, I believe, 267, timeless? The inspired word of God, yes—the human response to the sacred, I said above (and I’ll not respond to Alice—I have no idea what her beef is with that statement…).

[84] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-22-2008 at 09:45 PM • top

Padre Wayne,

I do not see an omission at all in scripture concerning homosexual behavior. 

In Matthew and Mark, Jesus discusses marriage and divorce.  He refers back to Genesis 2:24 before the fall of man in Genesis 3.  Now I feel that we would all agree that Jesus is God and therefore omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient and could have made allowances for homosexual relationships but according to scripture He did not.  Surely, He knew that these relationships were occurring during this time but did not advocate any form of relationship other than that between a man and a woman.

Also, Paul in his writings in Romans 1: 18-27 again refers back to creation in Romans 1: 20, and discusses that God’s Divine Nature is clearly seen being understood from what has been made and that men are without excuse.  This is very important since Paul goes on in verses 26-27 to describe natural verses unnatural relations between men and women.

Thirdly, Jesus not only reaffirmed the Decalogue but added more to it with reference to adultery and lust committed in the heart.  It makes no sense that he would add to the Decalogue concerning sins of the heart but through “omission” tacitly approve of a same-sex relationships.

[85] Posted by ThinkAgain on 04-22-2008 at 09:46 PM • top

ThinkAgain #86, Your argument is unclear and not persuasive. No, I do not believe that any of the Scripture references you refer to apply to the type of homosexual relationship I am talking about (i.e., mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, non-coercive, etc.). Your third point is particularly difficult in that you refer to adultery and lust as being inclusive of a homosexual relationship. While it is possible for gay people to mimic adulterous straight people, it is not necessary that a homosexual relationship be adulterous nor sinfully lustful. I know of many that are not. And I know of some that are. Just like straight people. We’re people, too. Sinful, broken people—but no more and no less than heterosexuals.

I fear we’re at an impasse on this.

[86] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-22-2008 at 09:57 PM • top

NRA+ (#80)

Thank you, but unfortunately it wasn’t mine.  I wish it was though.  So far, I’ve only earned one beribboned Bottom Feeder award, for my impersonation of ++RW’s impersonation of Dirty Harry.

[87] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-22-2008 at 10:20 PM • top

PadreWayne, I guess that I’m bewildered by the reply that you wrote #87 to ThinkAgain. Most notably, you wrote: “No, I do not believe that any of the Scripture references you refer to apply to the type of homosexual relationship I am talking about (i.e., mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, non-coercive, etc.).”
If I am to understand you correctly, then this line of reasoning should be applicable to all Scriptural prohibitions of homosexuality. I would be quite amenable to your “parenthetical exception clause” as recorded above, if the following scriptures read thus:

“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable - unless it takes place within a mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, non-coercive relationship.”  (Lev. 18:22

“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads - unless, of course, the act took place within the confines of a mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, & non-coercive relationship.” (Leviticus 20:13)

  For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
  and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error - unless, of course, these sexual acts were committed within the confines of a mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, and non-coercive relationship. THEN, its A-OK.” (Romans 1:26-27)

“just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire - oh, not because they went after strange flesh, mind you. Its just that not ONE instance of homosexual behavior took place within the confines of a mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, non-coercive relationship - not one! Can ya’ believe it?” (Jude 7).

If these scripture were written along with your “parenthetical exception clause”, I would say that you are right in that which you have tried to affirm on this thread. But the bottom line is - they don’t. These four scriptures which I have quoted here -two from the OT (Lev. 18:22 & 20:13), and two from the NT (Romans 1:26-27 & Jude 7) are written as blanket condemnations of homosexual acts; there are simply no qualifiers or exceptions given to these prohibitions.

Putting aside any other consideration for now, unless you and I are reading very different Bibles, there is no way that you can explain or finesse away the very clear prohibitions against homosexual activity as found in Scripture.

[88] Posted by Bob K. on 04-23-2008 at 12:49 AM • top

#89 Bob K.
Same Bible, but Revisionists rip out the pages they don’t agree with.

[89] Posted by bradhutt on 04-23-2008 at 04:45 AM • top

Unfortunately for PW, biblical condemnations of homosexuality are unqualified. This might be a heterosexual using PW’s logic - “Thou shalt not commit adultery…Well, the Bible isn’t talking about me because my wife is really a shrew and she’s getting really overweight and my secretary is totally hot and her husband is a no-good bum and we like each other a lot…”

Biblical injunctions against homosexuality are against promiscuous gay bath house flings AND “loving, monogamous” relationships. There aren’t exceptions. Liberal Biblical scholars with integrity have come to the conclusion - the Bible simply condemns homosexuality.

In reference to the discussion of the health hazards of homosexual sex. This country spends a lot of money on decreasing the rate of smoking. But smoking only decreases life span by approximately seven years while active homosexuality decreases it by 10-20 years. Hmmm.

[90] Posted by robroy on 04-23-2008 at 06:40 AM • top

Padre Wayne,

Thanks for your reply.  If you read what Jesus said in Matthew 19: 4-6 it is clear that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

Matthew 19: 4-6 (KJV)  “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

If you read the line, not above or below it, you see that Jesus refers back to creation.  He adds no stipulation for a “mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, and non-coercive” same-sex relationship.  It is just not there. 

The idea that the “modern” homosexual relationship is vastly different from those in ancient times is very disingenuous.  There are many examples of long-term homosexual relationships in Ancient Greek writings.  Here are a few from this link.  http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/gkcouples.html
Orestes and Pylades, Damon and Pythias, Aristogeiton and Harmodius, Pausanias and Agathon, Philolaus and Diocles, Epaminondas and Pelopidas, Alexander the Great and Hephasteion
You failed to address my question that if Jesus is God and thus all-knowing, why didn’t he allow for a “mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, and non-coercive” same-sex relationship?  There were already examples of this type of relationship occurring in ancient Greece.
You focus on my third point and perhaps I didn’t make myself as clear as I should have.  The point I was trying to make is that Jesus reaffirms marriage in Matthew and Mark as being between one man and one woman.  Any form sexual relationships outside of these bounds whether they are thoughts or actions is sinful.  Jesus did not do away with the seventh commandment he only strengthened it which also strengthened the marriage convenant.

[91] Posted by ThinkAgain on 04-23-2008 at 07:16 AM • top

RE: “Sarah, if you read my comment, you’d see that I said I hadn’t preached about “sexuality,” not “lust.””

Right—and neither did Matt preach about “sexuality”—he preached about sexual activity which is sin.  You just threw in the word “sexuality” about Matt’s sermon because you don’t like what he believes—and preaches—about some sins.  The person who put words in people’s mouths was you - -when you claimed that Matt’s sermon was about “sexuality”—something that makes you feel better to say.

RE: “I fear we’re at an impasse on this.”

That’s what happens when people who have opposing foundational worldviews have exchanges on blogs.

Two gospels.  One organization.  Many long years ahead for all in TEC, including me.  Hopefully it’ll be as fun as the last four!  ; > )

[92] Posted by Sarah on 04-23-2008 at 07:16 AM • top

I have no idea what her beef is with that statement

Scripture, the human response to the sacred, is the testament of the working out of God’s faithfulness.

I can’t speak for Alice, but I can speak for my own objections to that statement. Scripture, for all Christians down the centuries, is not just “a human response.” It is more than that. It contains “the testament of the working out of God’s faithfulness,” but is also part of the works of God’s faithfulness as well. Scripture is both a record of God’s revelation and revelation in itself.  For example,  as Paul said in acts 28,  ‘25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:  “‘Go to this people, and say,
You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.’”’ So words of Isaiah came from his mouth or pen, but were of divine origin. As Christians, we extend Paul’s statement to the rest of scripture as well. Scripture has two sources, both human and divine, and they cannot be separated. “the human response to the sacred,” only tells half the story. “The divine record of God’s actions revealed to his people written through the instrument of human responses,” would perhaps be closer, though is far from perfect.

[93] Posted by Boring Bloke on 04-23-2008 at 07:48 AM • top

Praise God, Sarah, that you’re hanging in with TEC. I can totally affirm with you the gospel of Jesus Christ, although we don’t agree concerning this sexuality issue.

Fr. Matt, do you feel this is the best interpretation of 2nd. John? I would interpret this to be speaking of heretical teachers coming into the church who have denied the person and work of Jesus. I don’t think it’s speaking of faithful Christians who might disagree in Scripture interpretation relating to same-sex relationships.

I mean following this line of reasoning we could all argue that Scripture commands us to seperate from faithful believers relating to differing convictions concerning divorce, and remarriage which Jesus spoke about at length.

I think if the leadership of TEC officially repudiated the person and work of Jesus Christ, renounced the Nicene Creed, then I would be able to understand your postion…But, right now, brother, I just can’t see it.

Praying for you Matt+, and Anne+, and for your church. I know this is a very difficult time.

[94] Posted by Grace2000 on 04-23-2008 at 08:15 AM • top

I mean following this line of reasoning we could all argue that Scripture commands us to seperate from faithful believers relating to differing convictions concerning divorce, and remarriage which Jesus spoke about at length

Grace, it’s not nice to tempt a brother like that, my soap box is just a few feet away ....

FYI—The official position of Rome is exactly as you say. If we upheld Biblical teaching back in the seventies then there would not be a divisions now, but ‘Mainline denominations’ accepted the world’s view instead of being the salt to preserve it, they became followers of the world not leaders and thus dwindle in attendance and effectiveness. Rome dwarfs the rest with nearly the numbers in the US as the whole Anglican Communion, but then the Baptist, Assemblies of God, Church of Christ and the Orthodox out represent most ‘mainline’ even if added together.

[95] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 04-23-2008 at 08:26 AM • top

Grace,

2 John 2 is not limited in scope to the early form of docetism addressed. If “anyone” comes who “runs ahead” and does not brig the message of Christ, do not welcome him. To limit “the message of Christ” as you do is unwarranted both by the text itself and by the whole body of scripture. One need look no further than Galatians 1:6-9 where Paul anathematizes “anyone” who brings “any other message” than the one delivered by the apostles.

Believers cannot participate with false teachers.

There is some room to disagree with regard to remarriage in very limited circumstances (abandonment of the unbelieving spouse)  based on speculation concerning what Paul meant by “free” in 1 Cor 7 and whether Jesus was referring specifically to those who divorce for reasons other than marital unfaithfulness. Moreover, there is also the question of whether the same restrictions apply to those who were married and divorced prior to conversion. In anycase, no one on either side of this question would suggest that divorce is “good” and to be blessed.

I tend to think that remarriage is out of the question in general but recognize there are biblically faithful arguments to the contrary.

Such is not the case with homosexual behavior. There is no legitimate argument to be made for blessing what the bible uniformly, unambiguously, and without hint of shadow or shade condemns.

[96] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-23-2008 at 08:27 AM • top

I think if the leadership of TEC officially repudiated the person and work of Jesus Christ, renounced the Nicene Creed, then I would be able to understand your postion…

Umm - Grace?
The Presiding Bishop has REPEATEDLY repudiated the person of Jesus Christ, by denying the truth of His own words - that He (and He alone) is the way to the Father.  How much more official does it have to be for you to get the fact that TEC is completely apostate at the highest levels?

[97] Posted by GillianC on 04-23-2008 at 08:38 AM • top

I think if the leadership of TEC officially repudiated the person and work of Jesus Christ, renounced the Nicene Creed, then I would be able to understand your postion…But, right now, brother, I just can’t see it.

One of the issues, and perhaps the most important one, that the GAFCON people have to sort out while rebuilding the Anglican Communion is the question of what is adiaphora and what is essential (and whether these are indeed the only two categories: I would add at least one more: not essential but good practice; but of course its a continuous scale so any attempt at simple discretization is likely to be inadequate). I frequently see “They are not renouncing the core doctrines of the creed,” as a statement why the errors of TEC can be ignored. In other words, are the creeds a sufficient statement of Christian doctrine (as per Chicago-Lambeth), in which case this argument above has merit, or are they necessary but not sufficient, in which case it does not? We need a clearly defined approach to adiaphora. The Windsor report touched on this question, but did not really address it.

(Of course, I would also claim that the chief actors in TEC have renounced the creeds and orthodox Christiology and Soteriology, but that’s a separate issue.)

[98] Posted by Boring Bloke on 04-23-2008 at 08:51 AM • top

The Galatian judiazers embraced a heresy that the Creeds do not at all address and they were anathematized all the same. It is arbitrary and superficial to limit false teaching to a rejection of the creeds alone.

[99] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-23-2008 at 08:54 AM • top

PW, Your argument seems to be that homosexual acts are not sinful if they are done within relationships that are, “mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, non-coercive, etc.”  I have heard others argue that the appropriate qualifications are “committed,” and “long term.” 

Could you please help me out by explaining how you define a “mature” relationship?  Does that word refer to the characteristics of the relationship itself, or the characteristics of those in the relationship?  If it refers to the relationship itself, does that mean that the relationship has been going on for some period of time?  Is there a difference between a faithful relationship and a monogamous relationship?

If I were single, and I met a woman in a bar and we slept together, and developed a relationship that was caring, monogamous, faithful, supportive, etc., but we simply neve bothered to get married, would our first sexual act have been sinful?  Would sexual acts after we became more serious about one another be sinful?  If I were married to a woman who developed Alzheimer’s related dementia and she had to be confined to a nursing home and she no longer even recognized me, would it be sinful for me to enter into a relationship with another woman if that relationship were, ““mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, non-coercive, etc.”?  If I were to be in a sexual relationship with two women, or two other men, or a man and a woman, and that relationship was “mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, non-coercive, etc.”, would our sexual acts be sinful? 

You can argue that being in a relationship that is, ““mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, non-coercive, etc.”, is something that we ought to support, or that being in a relationship that is, ““mature, faithful, monogamous, caring, supportive, non-coercive, etc.”, redeems sexual behavior that would otherwise be sinful,  but, to me at least, you propose something that sounds like a standard, but upon examination it turns out to be a non-standard.  How does one determine whether one’s own relationship or someone else’s relationship has those characteristics?  Your argument seems to be that nothing in the area of sexual behavior should be guided by objective norms.

[100] Posted by Rick H. on 04-23-2008 at 09:02 AM • top

Matt, I quite agree. However, the question is, what rule or series of rules can we use to decide what is essential and what is not? In other words, how do we determine what comes under “Local option,” and what has to be fixed across the communion (although I expect we both have the same answer to that as well). But, if we are to avoid these difficulties in the future over another issue this has to be fully addressed.

One thing that has been troubling me throughout all this is the statement in the quadrilateral

As inherent parts of this sacred deposit, and therefore as essential to the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom, we account the following, to wit:

  1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the revealed Word of God.

  2. The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith.

  3. The two Sacraments,—Baptism and the Supper of the Lord,—ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.

  4. The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.

The Judiazers could certainly agree with 2-4; though they might have difficulties with some of Paul’s writings. I see and happily acknowledge the three Creeds as containing a sufficient statement of the doctrine of the Trinity. I have difficulties with the Nicene Creed as a sufficient statement of the Christian faith, for precisely the reason you gave. This is, I think, probably the “official” Anglican position on adiaphora; which is why I think that the whole issue needs to be addressed.

[101] Posted by Boring Bloke on 04-23-2008 at 09:17 AM • top

Hey, guys, appreciate the comments so far. We’ve recently relocated up in the mountains, and I have tons of housekeeping things going on right now, plus looking for another job.

But, I’ll be back later this evening to talk. All prayers appreciated. smile

[102] Posted by Grace2000 on 04-23-2008 at 09:19 AM • top

Friends, Holy Scripture and the cardinal doctrines of the Church are and ever have been under attack, perhaps more so now than ever.  Please continue to guard, keep, and contend for the faith.  Prayers go with you.

[103] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 04-23-2008 at 09:45 AM • top

PW
If two people of the same gender live together, support each other, care for each other, and commit to doing so I think this is great and there is not question of sin.  If they have sex or try to equate it to the sacrament of Marriage, that is where I think were they cross the line.

It is my understanding that the sexual act is where the line is crossed.  It is your position these relationships require sex to be complete?  What if one of the people no longer wants to or is able to have sex, is the relationship over?

When God says something is bad, do you think we need to know why it is bad to obey?  Do you think if you are clever enough to find a rationalization you are excused from His rules?  The Bible (aka “The Word of the Lord”) says homosexuality is bad.  Ignoring this or finding loopholes is just being willfully disobedient. 

Is it more important to have sex or obey the Word of God?

[104] Posted by JustOneVoice on 04-23-2008 at 10:00 AM • top

Since you are not responding to my comment, Padre Wayne, I’m tempted to not respond to you. However, since Boring Bloke has spoken to this, I’ll respond to him.

I’m quite in favor of the brightest minds engaging the question of how the Bible came to be an authority. Many excellent statements can be made, but these statements are about the Bible. Ultimately what matters to people of faith is what the Bible says for itself. Looking into this question, the Church Fathers concluded that all the parts make up but one story, the story of the promise of salvation fulfilled in Messiah.

Emile Durkheim hypothesized that religion is the basis of human thought, math, science and technology, because it forced humans to think in dualistic terms: sacred-profane, good-evil, etc. This is the “human response” view in a nutshell. The Bible has no real authority if we regard it as something written by humans in response to a religious impulse. Further the dualistic view is an inaccurate representation of the binary structure observed in creation (but that’s another matter.)

The Manichees and pagans mocked the Genesis creation stories. St. Augustine met their challenge by asking a fundamental question: “Why did God create?”  The whole of the Bible addresses that question and reminds us that God created time. God, being without beginning or end, is the One who calls the shots. The Bible is God’s story, like it or not, accept it or not. Whatever one decides, it is wise to remember who the real Author is.

[105] Posted by Alice Linsley on 04-23-2008 at 10:49 AM • top

#106, Alice Linsley. Thank you for bringing up the point about St. Augustine. We moderns have a tendency to run across a concept we are not familiar with and think that it is in some way new or fresh. All too often, it’s been thought of before.

Also, the restatement of the dependency of the Church upon Scripture can not be done too often. If we are to be obedient servants, as we are called to be, then it’s important to read the manual from time to time. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to do as it says.

The Episcopal Church: all of the ritual, none of the theology

[106] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 04-23-2008 at 10:58 AM • top

Alice, I’m not sure what comment needs a comment. I’ve had two pastoral emergencies arise within the past 24 hours and must tend to our parishioners.

[107] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-23-2008 at 12:48 PM • top

Hi, again, Fr. Matt,

Is the church talking about blessing incest, though? I can see, among other things, tons of concerns relating to everything from exploitation to genetic issues.

Now about these Judaizers.. They were definitely about preaching another gospel. I agree with you that this is a serious matter. But, Matt+, it’s possible for people to totally agree concerning the gospel, and yet disagree concerning this matter of same-sex relationships. It’s a different issue, altogether, I think.

Also, when Paul talks about “Letting the unbelieving spouse depart, and the believer isn’t under bondage..” we’re not exactly sure what he means. And, what about folks where the unbelieving spouse doesn’t want to necessarily depart, but is physically or emotionally and spiritually abusive?? Is it God’s will for Christian people to stay in marital relationships where their physical safety, or emotional and spiritual health is in jeopardy, no matter what? And, if they divorce, is it always sinful to remarry??

I’m not really expecting an answer, here. Just trying to make a point. Most folks in the church aren’t ready to ditch their brothers and sisters in Christ, and head for the hills over differences in scriptural interpretation relating to divorce and remarriage. I honestly can’t see why the sexuality issue has to be church dividing, either.

Rick, I think any sexual relationship outside of a loving,life committment is less than the perfect will of God. I don’t think meeting someone in a bar, and heading straight for the sack is too honoring to the Lord.

I can emphathize with someone who has a spouse with dementia. We should love, and support folks where they’re at. Be there for them. But, I would definitely not have a peace about suggesting to someone to go ahead and find a lover.
This doesn’t sound too righteous to me.

[108] Posted by Grace2000 on 04-23-2008 at 09:03 PM • top

Is the church talking about blessing incest, though?

Give them another 30 years, or maybe 60, though I think polyamory is next on the list of things TEC is going to bless.  Madame Schori has promised that sexuality will always be at the forefront of discussion in TEC.  That doesn’t sound to me like they are building any firm walls against expanding the list of things to be blessed.  The point is that the exact same arguments applied to try to justify homosexuality can be used to justify any sexual sin.  Heck, it doesn’t take me much effort to think of some. 

Just to play devils advocate:

“Well, if polygamy was good enough for Solomon…”

“The problem with incest is that you risk inbreeding.  However if there is no reproductive sexual activity going on, all’s fair…”

“St Paul wasn’t talking about mutual loving relations between men and boys, he was talking about the abusive relations between men and their slaves or prostitutes…”

“A woman has a right to control her own finances and her own body.  As long as the prostitution is voluntary, and well regulated…”

The problem in my mind is not so much the blessing of any one sexual sin as the elemination of the foundation of all Christian sexual ethics, which is the convining sexual relations to a lifelong monogamous relations between a man and a woman united in Holy Matrimony.  Even forincation and adultry are treated as no big deal by many.  Witness, for example, the clergy woman that thought

[109] Posted by AndrewA on 04-23-2008 at 09:25 PM • top

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