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Passions in Poetry

Getting sick of the homophobes

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Stephanos
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25 posted 07-17-2009 11:25 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Moonbeam,  

While there are differences among the Churches (those who hold that homosexuality is, in fact, sinful) regarding the differences (and similarities) between mental proclivity and action, and our approach to both, there are some basic things which are universally accepted.

Firstly, the belief that Biblical Marriage is the divinely determined standard against which all sexual ethics are measured.  Adultery, Fornication, Pederasty, and many other categories are deemed sinful because of their shared departure from the divine will and concerning human sexuality.  Though they may have other moral dimensions, primarily they are wrong because of denying that God's determined parameters are the best.  Failures of those attempting to stay within those parameters notwithstanding , it is still the only spiritually "live" option, biblically speaking.

In addition to this, is the shared belief that the physical makeup of men and women are complimentary by natural design ... and that this striking compatibility (including the miracle of conception as a by-product of heterosexual union) is a not-so-subtle clue to the divine will concerning sexuality.  It is the sacred reciprocity of the genders.

This doesn't mean that there won't be different approaches or ideas about the distinctions you mentioned.  Jesus said that to look upon a woman lustfully was essentially the same as adultery.  Not to doubt the existential import of Jesus' words, but, on a practical level, do they make no distinction between someone who struggles, and someone who eagerly pursues the wrong?  Does it mean that my wife should divorce me, or consider me utterly unfaithful, every time I have a stray thought?  I don't think so.  Rather, I think Jesus was reminding us of the "wellspring" from which action and thoughts flow ... the heart (in a poetic, not a medical sense).  That is the battleground where personal sanctification must be won or lost.  But regardless of distinctions between thought and open life-style, the Bishop Nazir-Ali's statement about repentence is dependent upon none of these practical or public distinctions;  It only rests upon the shared beliefs about the sacredness of marriage and gender that I mentioned above.

Don't know if that clarifies or not.  But a "sound" view should be one that doesn't deny either the similarities or differences between proclivity and open action.  Still those who believe homosexuality to be (in some way) sinful, and who would give very different answers about the issues you raise, all share the same understanding of marriage and gender.


Stephen
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26 posted 07-18-2009 03:13 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Fortunately, according to Ahmadinejad,
there are no homosexuals in Iran
which obviates the issue there entirely.


.
Essorant
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27 posted 07-18-2009 03:43 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Bob,

Sorry for missing your comment.

quote:
Neither the context nor the points are clear to me for having been unspecified.


That is because I intended on giving a general context to complement the specific one of this thread, not another specific one.  The general point is that a person and his deeds or behaviour are never the same and therefore shouldn't be treated as if they are.  This is not going to the extreme of saying there are not or shouldn't be any associations between them, nor never any thing done toward the person himself on behalf of something he might do, but it is making an important distinction that often does adjust the way we treat someone.   It is important not to treat someone indiscriminately according to how you think about his actions or behaviour, for here is a perfect example of how people in one way or another had very negative feelings about Zach's sexuality but instead assimilated Zach himself with his sexuality and acted hostile against him personally instead of just generally against the aspect of his sexuality.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (07-18-2009 04:14 PM).]

moonbeam
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28 posted 07-19-2009 05:36 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Hi Stephen and thanks for the explanation.  

Ok, you've shifted the focus (perhaps productively) onto the question of when the sexual act can take place and yet remain, as you put it, as a spiritually live option.

Paul, I think, points out (I Corinthians 7:7,8,9) that the best course is celibacy, but failing that marriage between a man and woman and procreation within that marriage is acceptable, for now, in God's sight - though whether "recreational" sex, and sex not involving any possibility of procreation is included in that option is unclear.  One would have to assume I think that as celibacy is the ideal, any form of pleasure or prolonging of the sexual act beyond the mere act of fertilisation would be discouraged as bordering on the sinful even within the marriage bond.

The options it seems are therefore narrowed considerably if one takes what you seem to be saying is the "sound" biblical view.  You have to be a man and a woman in Christian matrimony and you have to do the act quickly and expediently with the minimum of pleasure.  I'm sure Paul and God would applaud the recent developments in artificial sperm production as being as step towards the ideal of no marriage, no sex, no physical pleasure and plenty of babies.  

So now against that background let's look at what my problem was with what Rochester said.  I think he was consistently condemning all forms of "sin" in the sense that a heterosexual couple living together is a sin, a one night stand is a sin, even sexual fantasies outside marriage (and probably within it too) are sins, and of course any form of non-heterosexual behaviour is sinful.  But Rochester is part of, and a leading figure in, what can really only be described as a private club.  I suspect you'll agree that that is a fairly good analogy to cover the various religions and sects in the world, which, like clubs, hawk and advertise their various incentives, promises, carrots and sticks, and have their own particular membership qualifications.  

And in that context I have no problem at all with Rochester citing the club rule book and barring a certain segment of society from membership on the basis of whatever particular shortcoming he chooses.   But that's not what he did.  Using presumably this fallacious idea of separating the sin from the sinner (no more than a convenient device) he welcomes the defective individuals into the club premises, but calls upon them to reform themselves in order to get the full benefit of membership.  The effect of this is to seek to apply his parochial club rules in a universal manner.  Thus we get the ludicrous situation where each individual religious club in the world decrees that mankind is or is not acting according to what it deems to be the "correct" set of rules.  An analogy would be the golf club which excludes women.  No problem with that at all - it's against the rules for women to join.  Fine.  But then the same club goes further to say that no woman can ever be any good at playing golf unless she repents (has a sex change) and becomes a man.  Patently ridiculous and arrogant.  But incredibly, rather similar to what Rochester was saying I think.

But you are right.  I do draw lines.  I do try and apply a universal rule.  It's not a perfect one I know, it can be problematic in application, I know that too, but it certainly doesn't rely on a human interpretation of a so called divine rule book, and it's a rule that I feel viscerally any compassionate "god" might embrace.  It's simply to act in a way so as to try not to cause harm or unhappiness to other creatures.  Unfortunately I rarely live up to it, but I'm trying.

I think this covers your questions about my attitude to "Adultery, Fornication, Pederasty" they obviously have the potential to cause harm, and if they do I condemn them.  But it leaves the way completely clear for a loving union between two men or two women.  

It also raises the issue of whether by condemning all homosexuals as sinners the Bishop was being cruel, causing harm, causing unhappiness.  I think he was.

Now let's take a quick look at your other contention: "the physical makeup of men and women are complimentary by natural design ... and that this striking compatibility (including the miracle of conception as a by-product of heterosexual union) is a not-so-subtle clue to the divine will concerning sexuality".  Yes it could be that, but why make things difficult?  Why rely on what you call a "clue"?  Why not simply programme humans so that it is impossible for men ever to be attracted to men and women to women?  Why tempt us into sexual sin?  I don't think you can argue that God would intervene in the matter of physical make-up without accepting that he messed up by not ensuring compliance with his will.  And God doesn't mess up.  The fact is that everything in life is a "clue" to God's will if you are a Christian - the argument becomes circular and meaningless.  

And what about homosexuality in animals.  Are my hen pigeons "sinful" when they mate with each other?  You talk about what is "natural" - and sure, heterosexual sex is natural, but then most animals are also known to seek sexual pleasure with others of the same sex.  As an extract from Wikipedia recently put it "A new review made in 2009 of existing research showed that same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in the animal kingdom, common across species."  Are you sure homosexuality and bisexuality aren't natural Stephen?  Perhaps these animals are all condemned to purgatory?

The truth is imho that the labels homosexual and heterosexual, like most labels, are clumsy and bordering on the useless.  We are all sexual creatures, and, as might be expected, our drive to seek sexual pleasure is as varied as our selves.  I suspect if we want to assign any label at all the most accurate would be to say that we are all bisexual.  Sure, the level of bisexuality will vary with age, health, social and economic circumstances, etc etc, but the fact probably is, that given a particular set of conditions, there are very few of us that would not perform the sexual act with someone of the same sex.  

That statement of course, and indeed all of the last two paragraphs, assumes purely the physical act - the animal act of seeking orgasm.  Whether that constitutes true homosexuality, or whether there has to be a mental dimension involving something more than just the physical for bisexuality to tilt towards the exclusively homosexual or even for a bisexual to be a "true" bisexual,  is another discussion.
Stephanos
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29 posted 07-21-2009 12:08 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Moonbeam:
quote:
Paul, I think, points out (I Corinthians 7:7,8,9) that the best course is celibacy, but failing that marriage between a man and woman and procreation within that marriage is acceptable, for now, in God's sight - though whether "recreational" sex, and sex not involving any possibility of procreation is included in that option is unclear.  One would have to assume I think that as celibacy is the ideal, any form of pleasure or prolonging of the sexual act beyond the mere act of fertilisation would be discouraged as bordering on the sinful even within the marriage bond.

... You have to be a man and a woman in Christian matrimony and you have to do the act quickly and expediently with the minimum of pleasure.


Well, you've responded with what I would call isolated "proof-texting" to say that the Bible portrays sex as stoic and that the only reason it is recommended (or even created) is as a means to an end ... biological reproduction.  Frankly this sounds much more Darwinian than Biblical, especially if we consider that Scripture places love at the center of the Marriage union ... insisting that sex, pleasure, and even reproduction should find their purpose in this light.

In the places where Paul does talk about sexual intercourse, it is not at all suggestive that it should be done with as little as possible pleasure, or merely as a means to the end of biological reproduction.  He only says not to abstain or withhold one's body from the spouse (a principle of love and other-centeredness) except for agreed times of prayer and fasting (1 Corinthians 7:5).  

What should exegetically challenge your view (or rather, your view of the Biblical view) is 1) the fact that God created pleasure itself (including sexual pleasure) falling under the Genesis epithet of "very good".  2) The joys of romantic bliss expressed in the love poetry of the Old Testament, and 3) The unequivocal sanction of the Marriage bed expressed in both Old and New Testament Scriptures.  

So, the shortest answer to your answer that the Bible promotes an all-business-and-no-fun view of sex ... is that you are confusing anti-sex religiosity (a kind of free reinterpretation, supported by a unbalanced focus upon certain elements in scripture) with a more balanced biblical view of the subject ... a more global look at the text.  The difficulty of supporting the position (or philosophy) you describe, is evident from the fact that you say that it is "unclear".

quote:
But Rochester is part of, and a leading figure in, what can really only be described as a private club.  I suspect you'll agree that that is a fairly good analogy to cover the various religions and sects in the world, which, like clubs, hawk and advertise their various incentives, promises, carrots and sticks, and have their own particular membership qualifications.


Regardless of the club analogy ... I have shown that his words may more reasonably flow from spiritual conviction based upon the scripture's views of marriage, sex, and gender.  And thus far, your observation that religious people have villified the fullness (including the pleasurable aspect) of sex within marriage, does not have much to do with these basic convictions.  One may reasonably deny any stoic (nearly Gnostic) view of the sexual nature of the body, while still holding the sanctity of marriage and gender communicated in scripture, with little ambiguity. In other words, there's no evidence that the Bishop, or someone who shares his view about homosexuality, must also share the view that sex is best as an insipid mechanism for making babies.  

quote:
Using presumably this fallacious idea of separating the sin from the sinner (no more than a convenient device)


No more than a convenient device?  And I thought you were pretty keen on treating all people with respect, even those who do things you consider to be wrong.  The fact that you don't call it "sin", doesn't make it any different, really.  Why should I believe such a distinction to be a mere "device" with someone like the Bishop who disagrees with you Theologically, but a virtue with you?

quote:
he welcomes the defective individuals into the club premises, but calls upon them to reform themselves in order to get the full benefit of membership.  The effect of this is to seek to apply his parochial club rules in a universal manner.  Thus we get the ludicrous situation where each individual religious club in the world decrees that mankind is or is not acting according to what it deems to be the "correct" set of rules.


From a Theological perspective, repentance is not exactly self-reform.  And it doesn't mean that someone must be morally perfect and "fixed" to have fellowship with a Christian community.  It does mean, however, that open sin and open denial that such behavior is even sin (in fact, in many cases a vocal insistence that the behavior be publically honored), requires that boundaries be drawn.  Of course, this is not unique to homosexuality, but to many other sins as well.

But aside from the Theology, I would ask you whether the vocal Bishop would be accepted into your "Moonbeam" club?   Though you might shed the label 'religious', you still hold that the Bishop is a sinner of sorts, in an Athenian humanist kind of way.  How is this so different?

quote:
An analogy would be the golf club which excludes women.  No problem with that at all - it's against the rules for women to join.  Fine.  But then the same club goes further to say that no woman can ever be any good at playing golf unless she repents (has a sex change) and becomes a man.  Patently ridiculous and arrogant.  But incredibly, rather similar to what Rochester was saying I think.


The analogy breaks over the crux I mentioned earlier.  If you deny that homosexuality is sinful, and assert that it is a phenomenon no different than something like gender itself or skin color, then of course any line drawn would seem to you unjust.  If homosexuality is sinful, and not something cogently explained by genetic pre-determination, the analogy of female golf players is a lost ball.

quote:
you are right.  I do draw lines.  I do try and apply a universal rule.  It's not a perfect one I know, it can be problematic in application ... it's a rule that I feel viscerally any compassionate "god" might embrace.  It's simply to act in a way so as to try not to cause harm or unhappiness to other creatures. ...

I think this covers your questions about my attitude to "Adultery, Fornication, Pederasty" they obviously have the potential to cause harm, and if they do I condemn them.

...

It also raises the issue of whether by condemning all homosexuals as sinners the Bishop was being cruel, causing harm, causing unhappiness.  I think he was.


Again, those who are against homosexuality feel that it is not harmless.  Obviously sin impedes our relationship with God.  If (and this again is the crux) homosexuality is sin, it cannot be harmless to those who willing participate.  Also, to attempt to find satisfaction and happiness in ways that are, by design, contrary to human nature, are bound to be harmful spiritually, psychologically, and socially.  

It's always a catch-22 in discussing these issues however, I'm aware.  What I would call evidence of harm, you would say are phenomenon spawned by backward homophobic views ... and that if everyone else accepted homosexuals freely openly, they would not struggle with issues of their own sexuality as much.  We are somewhat bound (given our present views) to interpret the data differently, I'm afraid.

quote:
Now let's take a quick look at your other contention: "the physical makeup of men and women are complimentary by natural design ... and that this striking compatibility (including the miracle of conception as a by-product of heterosexual union) is a not-so-subtle clue to the divine will concerning sexuality".  Yes it could be that, but why make things difficult?  Why rely on what you call a "clue"?  Why not simply programme humans so that it is impossible for men ever to be attracted to men and women to women?  Why tempt us into sexual sin?  I don't think you can argue that God would intervene in the matter of physical make-up without accepting that he messed up by not ensuring compliance with his will.  And God doesn't mess up.  The fact is that everything in life is a "clue" to God's will if you are a Christian - the argument becomes circular and meaningless.


Why didn't God make us automata?  Is that what you're asking?  

Whatever your views on the difficult question of freewill (difficult both for Theist and atheist), this can be no argument for the acceptability or unacceptability of any particular behavior.  You would surely say that pederasty is wrong.  And yet I could retort that nature produced this phenomenon just as surely as nature produced breast-feeding and friendship.

The Christian answer, of course, is that much goes on in this world that is not positively God's desire, but was a result of sin entering humanity through Adam.  Difficulties notwithstanding, this is an answer which does not undermine the moral standard we both hold, and gives us hope for some kind of resolution.  For the naturalist (though I'm not certain that you are a naturalist), everything is the product of an impersonal nature with which we can have no recourse, and invalidates our deepest convictions as much as we invalidate immoral behaviors.

Of these two difficult answers, one remains merely difficult, while the other makes morality itself absurd.

quote:
And what about homosexuality in animals.


And what about cannibalism in animals?  Are you recommending animal behavior is an ever-trusty guide to what is morally acceptable in human beings?  

If not, are you suggesting that Christian Theology says that non-human nature is a perfect standard, and that only humanity (in a kind of vacuum) took the fall?

quote:
I suspect if we want to assign any label at all the most accurate would be to say that we are all bisexual.  Sure, the level of bisexuality will vary with age, health, social and economic circumstances, etc etc, but the fact probably is, that given a particular set of conditions, there are very few of us that would not perform the sexual act with someone of the same sex.


Can you validate this "fact", with other than suspicion?  

From my theological standpoint, I don't put the possibility of any behavior outside my mere humanity.  Thankfully I don't think that the "mere" is intractable.  But the admittance of a tendency either in the animal world, or within the human psyche, is no argument for its "rightness".  


Stephen
moonbeam
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30 posted 07-21-2009 11:54 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Hi Stephen, me again  
quote:
Moonbeam:

    quote:Paul, I think, points out (I Corinthians 7:7,8,9) that the best course is celibacy, but failing that marriage between a man and woman and procreation within that marriage is acceptable, for now, in God's sight - though whether "recreational" sex, and sex not involving any possibility of procreation is included in that option is unclear.  One would have to assume I think that as celibacy is the ideal, any form of pleasure or prolonging of the sexual act beyond the mere act of fertilisation would be discouraged as bordering on the sinful even within the marriage bond.

    ... You have to be a man and a woman in Christian matrimony and you have to do the act quickly and expediently with the minimum of pleasure.
Well, you've responded with what I would call isolated "proof-texting" to say that the Bible portrays sex as stoic and that the only reason it is recommended (or even created) is as a means to an end ... biological reproduction.  Frankly this sounds much more Darwinian than Biblical, especially if we consider that Scripture places love at the center of the Marriage union ... insisting that sex, pleasure, and even reproduction should find their purpose in this light.

In the places where Paul does talk about sexual intercourse, it is not at all suggestive that it should be done with as little as possible pleasure, or merely as a means to the end of biological reproduction.  He only says not to abstain or withhold one's body from the spouse (a principle of love and other-centeredness) except for agreed times of prayer and fasting (1 Corinthians 7:5).  

What should exegetically challenge your view (or rather, your view of the Biblical view) is 1) the fact that God created pleasure itself (including sexual pleasure) falling under the Genesis epithet of "very good".  2) The joys of romantic bliss expressed in the love poetry of the Old Testament, and 3) The unequivocal sanction of the Marriage bed expressed in both Old and New Testament Scriptures.  

So, the shortest answer to your answer that the Bible promotes an all-business-and-no-fun view of sex ... is that you are confusing anti-sex religiosity (a kind of free reinterpretation, supported by a unbalanced focus upon certain elements in scripture) with a more balanced biblical view of the subject ... a more global look at the text.  The difficulty of supporting the position (or philosophy) you describe, is evident from the fact that you say that it is "unclear".

    quote:But Rochester is part of, and a leading figure in, what can really only be described as a private club.  I suspect you'll agree that that is a fairly good analogy to cover the various religions and sects in the world, which, like clubs, hawk and advertise their various incentives, promises, carrots and sticks, and have their own particular membership qualifications.
Regardless of the club analogy ... I have shown that his words may more reasonably flow from spiritual conviction based upon the scripture's views of marriage, sex, and gender.  And thus far, your observation that religious people have villified the fullness (including the pleasurable aspect) of sex within marriage, does not have much to do with these basic convictions.  One may reasonably deny any stoic (nearly Gnostic) view of the sexual nature of the body, while still holding the sanctity of marriage and gender communicated in scripture, with little ambiguity. In other words, there's no evidence that the Bishop, or someone who shares his view about homosexuality, must also share the view that sex is best as an insipid mechanism for making babies.  

quote:
I have shown that his words may more reasonably flow from spiritual conviction based upon the scripture's views of marriage, sex, and gender.

Yes Stephen perhaps you have shown that, but you've also demonstrated what I was trying to say in my opening post to you, that given sufficient time, resources and energy (in this case centuries of revision, manipulation and interpretation of the texts) you can develop pretty much any argument or position about "spiritual conviction" from the pages of the bible.  The current mainstream christian viewpoint (if there is such a thing) is no more really than selective "proof-texting" as you call it, collation and amalgamation over a long period of time arguably commencing with the First Council of Nicea and then progressing through a series of revisions sponsored by kings, executed by old men and fuelled by wars and murder.  Ok, maybe that's inflammatory, but the fact is that what we see today as mainstream, is here purely by chance and vested interest.  Gnosticism might have been adopted at Nicea, and any one of countless other "faiths" and interpretations of scripture since.  Even in my lifetime what you see as the mainstream Anglican position has shifted in significant ways, so goodness knows what it will look like in 200 years time in its ongoing game of catch up to
meet the expectations of modern secular society.

So why, given all these entirely chance happenings, variations, different interpretations and ongoing revisions, anyone in any religious communion should have the audacity to claim they, and they alone, are "right" about anything, let alone the rightness or wrongness of someone's sexuality, baffles me.

But then I guess that's what you would call "faith"?   It's mystical, it's illogical, but it's true.  
quote:
quote:Using presumably this fallacious idea of separating the sin from the sinner (no more than a convenient device)
No more than a convenient device?  And I thought you were pretty keen on treating all people with respect, even those who do things you consider to be wrong.  The fact that you don't call it "sin", doesn't make it any different, really.  Why should I believe such a distinction to be a mere "device" with someone like the Bishop who disagrees with you Theologically, but a virtue with you?


Ok here you are, quite rightly, pulling me up on my too general statement.  I'll try and explain more precisely what I mean.  

I believe in the necessity of people understanding that they will be help accountable for their actions.  The idea of "the person" somehow being absolved from any connection with "the action" is not an idea I am happy with.  On the other hand I also believe that the person committing a crime on day 1 and being a sinful person who I don't respect, can also be the person saving a child from drowning on day 2 and be the angel who I do respect.  We can be both bad and good and a mixture of both, and there is no need for this artificial device of separating deed and person.  

The reason I said it's a "device" is because, having set up the artifice, the church often use it to be incredibly patronising imv.  "O my son, I condemn your sinfulness as a gay, you must repent or be doomed - but by the way don't worry I'm not condemning you personally, just your sin".  Small comfort to a vulnerable young man I think.
quote:
quote:he welcomes the defective individuals into the club premises, but calls upon them to reform themselves in order to get the full benefit of membership.  The effect of this is to seek to apply his parochial club rules in a universal manner.  Thus we get the ludicrous situation where each individual religious club in the world decrees that mankind is or is not acting according to what it deems to be the "correct" set of rules.
From a Theological perspective, repentance is not exactly self-reform.  And it doesn't mean that someone must be morally perfect and "fixed" to have fellowship with a Christian community.  It does mean, however, that open sin and open denial that such behavior is even sin (in fact, in many cases a vocal insistence that the behavior be publically honored), requires that boundaries be drawn.  Of course, this is not unique to homosexuality, but to many other sins as well.

But aside from the Theology, I would ask you whether the vocal Bishop would be accepted into your "Moonbeam" club?   Though you might shed the label 'religious', you still hold that the Bishop is a sinner of sorts, in an Athenian humanist kind of way.  How is this so different?

Glad you asked that Stephen.  It shows you haven't really grasped where I'm coming from.  Probably my bad explanation again.

I don't know whether I would  welcome the Bishop into my "Moonbeam" club.  In some respects he doesn't meet my entry rules; he sometimes comes over as an arrogant, uncompassionate bigot.  

But in any event you are absolutely right that if Rochester was merely banning homosexuals from his club then he and I would be adopting very much the same approach.  But he's not doing that, he's proclaiming that his particular club rules are universal, he's not satisfied with merely running his little parochial golf club and banning women.  He is actually saying that women are an abomination in the sight of god and shouldn't exist, either in or out of his club.  

In contrast to him I am quite happy for him to hold the views he does and not condemn him as a sinner or in need of repentance.  He can go about his business in the world hold the views he holds, I'm happy to chat to him, have dinner with him, respect him even for his better qualities; he can exist as a bishop in the C of E without me proclaiming to the world that all bishops are evil and in need of repentance.  

My rule book might say that bishops who are against homosexuality are not welcome in my personal club, but what it does not say is that is that my rule book has a valid universal application.  Unlike his, apparently.



quote:
    It also raises the issue of whether by condemning all homosexuals as sinners the Bishop was being cruel, causing harm, causing unhappiness.  I think he was.
Again, those who are against homosexuality feel that it is not harmless.  Obviously sin impedes our relationship with God.  If (and this again is the crux) homosexuality is sin, it cannot be harmless to those who willing participate.  Also, to attempt to find satisfaction and happiness in ways that are, by design, contrary to human nature, are bound to be harmful spiritually, psychologically, and socially.  

It's always a catch-22 in discussing these issues however, I'm aware.  What I would call evidence of harm, you would say are phenomenon spawned by backward homophobic views ... and that if everyone else accepted homosexuals freely openly, they would not struggle with issues of their own sexuality as much.  We are somewhat bound (given our present views) to interpret the data differently, I'm afraid.


So, let me get this clear Stephen, what you are saying is that the bishop feels that two men who love each other are harming themselves because they are sinning and therefore impeding a relationship with god?  

The Bishop might feel he is like a doctor who advises a patient that he must stop drinking alcohol because otherwise he can never climb Everest.  

The difference is that the patient can see and feel deleterious effects of the alcohol on his body, and he sees and believes in Mount Everest.

The two men by contrast feel only love and affection and happiness in each other's company, and are being advised that they risk forgoing a god who they can neither see nor believe in.  

And it seems extremely odd to me that you would presumably accept the argument that an African man in a predominantly white society would feel much more comfortable if he was accepted and welcomed as a human being rather than vilified as a sinner because of his blackness, yet you can't accept the parallel argument in respect of homosexuality.  

quote:
Why didn't God make us automata?  Is that what you're asking?  

Whatever your views on the difficult question of freewill (difficult both for Theist and atheist), this can be no argument for the acceptability or unacceptability of any particular behavior.  You would surely say that pederasty is wrong.  And yet I could retort that nature produced this phenomenon just as surely as nature produced breast-feeding and friendship.

The Christian answer, of course, is that much goes on in this world that is not positively God's desire, but was a result of sin entering humanity through Adam.  Difficulties notwithstanding, this is an answer which does not undermine the moral standard we both hold, and gives us hope for some kind of resolution.  For the naturalist (though I'm not certain that you are a naturalist), everything is the product of an impersonal nature with which we can have no recourse, and invalidates our deepest convictions as much as we invalidate immoral behaviors.

Of these two difficult answers, one remains merely difficult, while the other makes morality itself absurd.

I don't think I'm a naturalist or a theist, or an atheist, if that helps   - I guess I'm still just a rather aimless explorer.  Still, I find the gymnastics that theists indulge in to justify their varies positions utterly fantastic  - rather akin to the man on the train who decides the landscape is in motion rather than he himself: adopting the most unlikely explanation for a given set of observable phenomena.  

The complicated answer is that the all-powerful, all-good god suddenly decided not to ensure man behaved as he wanted him to behave, and to set little tests all over the shop; to give him freewill to see if he'd fall.  The simple answer is that the god mainstream Christianity portrays doesn't exist.

The boundary between behaviours that are "natural" (occur in nature) and the set of those behaviours within that group that are considered immoral by humans, of course varies significantly over time, place, culture, circumstance etc.  What you vilify as pederasty now was at one time, and in some cultures, considered acceptable.  I think you are on a hiding-to-nothing if you try to justify your christian beliefs today by appealing to what I may or may not consider morally right or wrong.  

For this is again an over-complication.  It's quite simply that today, the general societal feeling, and I am with society on this, is that pederasty causes harm and should therefore not be encouraged.  Why do we have to burden everything with the weight of some grand universal law according to God?  Why not simply attribute it to the changing conditions in the world, our increasing comfort and knowledge of ourselves and accordingly more time and sensitivity to the needs and desires of others rather than simply to our own selfish desires and survival.
quote:
    quote:And what about homosexuality in animals.
And what about cannibalism in animals?  Are you recommending animal behavior is an ever-trusty guide to what is morally acceptable in human beings?  

If not, are you suggesting that Christian Theology says that non-human nature is a perfect standard, and that only humanity (in a kind of vacuum) took the fall?

Neither, I was simply answering your suggestion that the shape of the male and female genitals are a trusty guide to God's intentions as to sexuality.  You introduced the biological dimension, not me, and I am merely pointing out that the whole animal kingdom behaves in a perfectly consistent and logical way.  It seeks orgasmic pleasure wherever and whenever it can, it eats (its own species if necessary) to live.   Both are perfect "natural" by definition  - they happen in nature - just as the act of male/female union is natural.  You insist in picking out certain features of natural behaviour which don't accord with your club rules and then condemning them as universally bad and sinful.      
quote:
quote:I suspect if we want to assign any label at all the most accurate would be to say that we are all bisexual.  Sure, the level of bisexuality will vary with age, health, social and economic circumstances, etc etc, but the fact probably is, that given a particular set of conditions, there are very few of us that would not perform the sexual act with someone of the same sex.
Can you validate this "fact", with other than suspicion?  

From my theological standpoint, I don't put the possibility of any behavior outside my mere humanity.  Thankfully I don't think that the "mere" is intractable.  But the admittance of a tendency either in the animal world, or within the human psyche, is no argument for its "rightness".  

If you're talking about needing evidence I doubt I can validate it.  I base my "suspicions" upon the fact that the vital "animal" passions are very strong, and amongst the strongest is the desire for sexual pleasure and orgasm.  This makes complete sense in view of the critical importance of procreation in a species.  It just seems likely to me that all animals will seek this pleasure from whatever source they can obtain it.  

But we are broadening the discussion here, or at least losing sight of the reason I  made the contention, and to a large extent you admit all that needs to be admitted when you say, very candidly and honestly, "I don't put the possibility of any behavior outside my mere humanity".  If you recall I was specifically answering your suggestion that there "is the shared belief that the physical makeup of men and women are complimentary by natural design ... and that this striking compatibility (including the miracle of conception as a by-product of heterosexual union) is a not-so-subtle clue to the divine will concerning sexuality".  My contention is that this statement does not sit very well with the observed behaviour of the animal kingdom as a whole, and for a particular religion, sect, or bishop to decree that because the observed behaviour of the world doesn't fit its or his particular set of rules therefore that behaviour is sinful and wrong, strikes me as at the least arrogant and at worst potentially divisive and harmful.

And finally I suppose that as my ex-racing pigeons have "fallen" with man, they will go to hell for not repenting of their lesbianism?  

Rob
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31 posted 07-22-2009 12:47 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

MB:
quote:
Yes Stephen perhaps you have shown that, but you've also demonstrated what I was trying to say in my opening post to you, that given sufficient time, resources and energy (in this case centuries of revision, manipulation and interpretation of the texts) you can develop pretty much any argument or position about "spiritual conviction" from the pages of the bible.


Only you're not exactly arguing from the Bible, other than piecemeal, which tells me that the text is harder to manipulate than you think.  If you're going to say what Paul believes about sex, you should take him globally.  Not doing so, is what proof-texting means.  And if you're going to bring up all the mountains of "revision, manipulation, and interpretation" (though I'll grant you there's a plethora of interpretation, while denying that all interpretations are therefore equal), you really should be more specific than such a sweeping allegation.  The idea that the Biblical texts have been revised countless times, I don't believe to be a sustainable argument ... at least when one is willing to discuss particulars and details.

If you're willing for such an exploration, start another thread, and I'll join you.

quote:
The current mainstream christian viewpoint (if there is such a thing) is no more really than selective "proof-texting" as you call it, collation and amalgamation over a long period of time arguably commencing with the First Council of Nicea and then progressing through a series of revisions sponsored by kings, executed by old men and fuelled by wars and murder.  Ok, maybe that's inflammatory, but the fact is that what we see today as mainstream, is here purely by chance and vested interest.


Yes, a bit inflammatory, and absolutely wrong.  I assert that the pronouncements of scripture on the subject of homosexuality (most notably the Pauline texts) predate the council of Nicea significantly.  Could you explain what the council of Nicea has to do with the Biblical references to homosexuality, and explain in specifics?

And the deconstructionist observation that all writers of texts have agendas (giving rise to your reference to 'vested interest' of those who write differently than you), is an argument that is too strong, in that it cuts in all directions, not just those who disagree with you.

quote:
Gnosticism might have been adopted at Nicea, and any one of countless other "faiths" and interpretations of scripture since.


Gnosticism wasn't adopted at Nicea.  Though what did happen at Nicea was a formalized Canonization of texts already universally circulated and accepted as authoritative among the early Christian Church.  It was more of an acknowledgement and confirmation, than an arbitrary determination.  

quote:
So why, given all these entirely chance happenings, variations, different interpretations and ongoing revisions, anyone in any religious communion should have the audacity to claim they, and they alone, are "right" about anything, let alone the rightness or wrongness of someone's sexuality, baffles me.


Obscurantism amounts to throwing many allegations out, wide, far reaching, condemning, none too specific.  As far as all the "revision" of the Biblical texts, concerning homosexuality, can you specify?

I never heard the Bishop say that no one else was "right about anything", or even that he is always right.  But aside from that, aren't you claiming that your treatment of homosexuals is more "right" than that of the Bishop?

quote:
I believe in the necessity of people understanding that they will be help accountable for their actions.  The idea of "the person" somehow being absolved from any connection with "the action" is not an idea I am happy with.  On the other hand I also believe that the person committing a crime on day 1 and being a sinful person who I don't respect, can also be the person saving a child from drowning on day 2 and be the angel who I do respect.  We can be both bad and good and a mixture of both, and there is no need for this artificial device of separating deed and person.


You've all but restated the doctrine in different words.  "Hate the sin, love the sinner" is (in simplest form) an affirmation that all human beings have virtue by being made in the image of God, and are not wholly ruined.  That's hardly different that you saying that a person is a mixture of good and bad.  

Separating deed and person, in this context, is in relation to love and respect, not always in relation to drawing boundaries.  I may love and respect someone who loses their temper ... but I still draw lines and don't let their temper rule the day.  

I think you need to explore the meaning of the phrase a bit more, before rejecting it out of hand.  There are qualifications about the statement, and, as far as I see it, it is little different than what you try to describe as an alternative.  You remind me a bit of Chesterton when he wrote about unwittingly rediscovering England.  

quote:
"O my son, I condemn your sinfulness as a gay, you must repent or be doomed - but by the way don't worry I'm not condemning you personally, just your sin".  Small comfort to a vulnerable young man I think.


The Church, at her best, has never been about making people comfortable in their sin, nor about taking delight in exposing sin, regardless of the particular sin in question.  If there is any "doom" the church speaks of, it is self-chosen, resistance of God to the very end, who is more than reluctant to let them have their way in such departure.  And the Church's doctrine of perdition is certainly not moored to any one particular sin.

The Church also feels that all young men are vulnerable in quite a different way, to their own lusts, to various temptations and rationalizations of others, false comforts etc ...

quote:
My rule book might say that bishops who are against homosexuality are not welcome in my personal club, but what it does not say is that is that my rule book has a valid universal application.  Unlike his, apparently.


Your language and tone is not that of someone droning private club rules of small consequence, but that of someone morally offended.  Don't pretend that you're not saying you are really right about this while the Bishop is really wrong, and so exuding the same assumption of universality.  Even if debate is not to be always thought of in terms of "win/lose" (since I think all sides learn), to seriously court relativism removes you from reasonable debate altogether.

quote:
The Bishop might feel he is like a doctor who advises a patient that he must stop drinking alcohol because otherwise he can never climb Everest.  

The difference is that the patient can see and feel deleterious effects of the alcohol on his body, and he sees and believes in Mount Everest.

The two men by contrast feel only love and affection and happiness in each other's company, and are being advised that they risk forgoing a god who they can neither see nor believe in.


I have never known a homosexual (and I've known a few) who didn't struggle with their homosexuality ... feelings of guilt, low self esteem, emotional turmoil.  You would say this is only due to a larger non-acceptance of homosexuality as normal.  I would say that at least some of it is due to nature of homosexuality.  I'm not saying that a person may not persist in a chosen path despite difficulties. Aren't there people who commit adultery who are "fine with it", as well?  

As I said, we're bound to interpret the data differently, as long as we disagree about whether such, in fact, involves sin.  

quote:
And it seems extremely odd to me that you would presumably accept the argument that an African man in a predominantly white society would feel much more comfortable if he was accepted and welcomed as a human being rather than vilified as a sinner because of his blackness, yet you can't accept the parallel argument in respect of homosexuality.


I certainly don't think homosexuals should have less legal rights than others.  But as of yet, I don't think you've said why you think it is a parallel.  I know black people who are somewhat offended that homosexuality has been made into a "civil rights" issue comparable to that of physically inhereted racial traits.  I too see significant differences, and don't think the one can be thrown up as a quick-win argument for the other.  The laurels of one argument don't always belong to another that is only superficially similar.

quote:
The complicated answer is that the all-powerful, all-good god suddenly decided not to ensure man behaved as he wanted him to behave, and to set little tests all over the shop; to give him freewill to see if he'd fall.  The simple answer is that the god mainstream Christianity portrays doesn't exist.


If you want to explain human morality, which even your complaint about God "setting little tests" hinges upon, apart from God, then do so.  We may end up disagreeing, but I would hope you might retract your claim of simplicity.

quote:
What you vilify as pederasty now was at one time, and in some cultures, considered acceptable.  I think you are on a hiding-to-nothing if you try to justify your christian beliefs today by appealing to what I may or may not consider morally right or wrong.


Two questions:


1) Do you not think that cultures, despite their many wonderful beauties, can be really wrong?  Do you not think the Jew-exterminating culture of the Third Reich was wrong?


2) Are you really willing to suggest that child molestation is not abhorrently wrong?

quote:
It's quite simply that today, the general societal feeling, and I am with society on this, is that pederasty causes harm and should therefore not be encouraged.


Do you only believe so because of a general societal feeling?  

quote:
Why do we have to burden everything with the weight of some grand universal law according to God?  Why not simply attribute it to the changing conditions in the world, our increasing comfort and knowledge of ourselves and accordingly more time and sensitivity to the needs and desires of others rather than simply to our own selfish desires and survival.


1) There is more to God than just law, and the simple answer is, We don't have to "burden everything".

2) Because if you attribute it simply to the changing conditions of the world, then it is nothing more than flux.

3) Whose comfort?

4) Is retaining sensitivity to the needs and desires of others a kind of overarching moral precept, or is it something that too may pass away with "changing conditions"?

quote:
I am merely pointing out that the whole animal kingdom behaves in a perfectly consistent and logical way.  It seeks orgasmic pleasure wherever and whenever it can, it eats (its own species if necessary) to live.  Both are perfect "natural" by definition  - they happen in nature - just as the act of male/female union is natural.  You insist in picking out certain features of natural behaviour which don't accord with your club rules and then condemning them as universally bad and sinful.


And unless you're okay with your neighbor eating their own human children, then you too are picking out certain features of natural behavior that are appropriate to human morality.  

The Christian view holds that nature is fallen but not totally ruined, somewhat a guide but not totally trustworthy ... providing a philosophy that is at least consistent with the picking and choosing we all do.  It is hard for you to deny this view, while affirming and picking just as passionately yourself.  A complimentary match of nature that produces children, cannot easily be tossed aside as little different than cannibalism or parasitism.

"... Then I dreamed that one day there was nothing but milk for them, and the jailer said as he put down the pipkin: "Our relations with the cow are not delicate -- as you can easily see if you imagine eating any of her other secretions." ...at these words something seemed to snap in [John's] head and he gave a great sigh and suddenly spoke out in a loud, clear voice: "Thank heaven! Now at last I know that you are talking nonsense... you are trying to pretend that unlike things are like. You are trying to make us think that milk is the same sort of thing as sweat or dung." "And pray, what difference is there except by custom?" "Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no difference between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores up as food?" (From 'The Pilgrim's Regress' by C.S. Lewis)

quote:
It just seems likely to me that all animals will seek this pleasure from whatever source they can obtain it.  


Should we always seek this pleasure from "whatever source we can obtain it"?  

quote:
If you recall I was specifically answering your suggestion that there "is the shared belief that the physical makeup of men and women are complimentary by natural design ... and that this striking compatibility (including the miracle of conception as a by-product of heterosexual union) is a not-so-subtle clue to the divine will concerning sexuality".  My contention is that this statement does not sit very well with the observed behaviour of the animal kingdom as a whole, and for a particular religion, sect, or bishop to decree that because the observed behaviour of the world doesn't fit its or his particular set of rules therefore that behaviour is sinful and wrong, strikes me as at the least arrogant and at worst potentially divisive and harmful.


And much of what you believe is morally acceptable in humans also "does not sit very well with the observed behavior of the animal kingdom as a whole".  If a moral pronouncement strikes you as arrogant simply because it doesn't fit nature "as a whole", then you should apply the same standard whether the moral pronouncement comes from a religious tongue, or a non-religious tongue ... from a Parrish Priest, or a Pip pontiff like yourself.  Quit being so arrogant, potentially divisive and harmful.     Actually I would say none of those things about you, except that you happen to be mistaken about this one.

quote:
And finally I suppose that as my ex-racing pigeons have "fallen" with man, they will go to hell for not repenting of their lesbianism?


I don't know that animals should be expected to act other than they do, and it is never a moral issue (though we sometimes train them to behave differently).  We certainly know that people are quite different in this regard, if we can deduce anything from what you've said about the behavior of the Bishop.  Otherwise, why not just say its his very valid nature to do what he does?  

Stephen
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Bonjour Stephen, another gay day dawns


quote:
MB:

    quote:Yes Stephen perhaps you have shown that, but you've also demonstrated what I was trying to say in my opening post to you, that given sufficient time, resources and energy (in this case centuries of revision, manipulation and interpretation of the texts) you can develop pretty much any argument or position about "spiritual conviction" from the pages of the bible.
Only you're not exactly arguing from the Bible, other than piecemeal, which tells me that the text is harder to manipulate than you think.  If you're going to say what Paul believes about sex, you should take him globally.  Not doing so, is what proof-texting means.  And if you're going to bring up all the mountains of "revision, manipulation, and interpretation" (though I'll grant you there's a plethora of interpretation, while denying that all interpretations are therefore equal), you really should be more specific than such a sweeping allegation.  The idea that the Biblical texts have been revised countless times, I don't believe to be a sustainable argument ... at least when one is willing to discuss particulars and details.

If you're willing for such an exploration, start another thread, and I'll join you.


I've already accepted that it's hard to interpret the Bible text in a way that is convincing and doesn't open up easy paths to challenge.  People have spent lifetimes trying to do it, and of course the mainstream churches have, as I said before, spent centuries doing it.  Yet even they shift their ground and mysteriously decide that theological interpretation can change to suit the needs of the day - women priests is one of the latest that springs to mind.  

You've granted me the only thing I was asking for: " I'll grant you there's a plethora of interpretation".  Yet despite shifts within your own church, and despite all the competing interpretations, you and the Bishop insist that yours is the correct one, on it seems to be little more foundation than the fact that your club has been around longer than anyone else's, is more powerful and has more members.  All I'm asking for is a little humility, just the teeniest little acknowledgement that you might just be wrong about some things, same sex love being one of them.

quote:The current mainstream christian viewpoint (if there is such a thing) is no more really than selective "proof-texting" as you call it, collation and amalgamation over a long period of time arguably commencing with the First Council of Nicea and then progressing through a series of revisions sponsored by kings, executed by old men and fuelled by wars and murder.  Ok, maybe that's inflammatory, but the fact is that what we see today as mainstream, is here purely by chance and vested interest.
Yes, a bit inflammatory, and absolutely wrong.  I assert that the pronouncements of scripture on the subject of homosexuality (most notably the Pauline texts) predate the council of Nicea significantly.  Could you explain what the council of Nicea has to do with the Biblical references to homosexuality, and explain in specifics?

And the deconstructionist observation that all writers of texts have agendas (giving rise to your reference to 'vested interest' of those who write differently than you), is an argument that is too strong, in that it cuts in all directions, not just those who disagree with you.

Misunderstanding here Stephen, I wasn't talking about homosexuality specifically, but merely a continuation of my effort to try and get you to acknowledge the essential man-made and man-changed nature of any theology and therefore it's fallibility.  
quote:
    quote:Gnosticism might have been adopted at Nicea, and any one of countless other "faiths" and interpretations of scripture since.


Gnosticism wasn't adopted at Nicea.  Though what did happen at Nicea was a formalized Canonization of texts already universally circulated and accepted as authoritative among the early Christian Church.  It was more of an acknowledgement and confirmation, than an arbitrary determination.  

No it wasn't, but it could have been.  Moreover, again, the various tenets that were adopted were decided by men, and by some accounts, by a very limited number of men.  So from very early we already see the disenfranchisement of large elements of interested parties who disagreed with the interpretation sponsored by Constantine.  That's not a criticism of what happened - I am not stupid enough to think that everyone could be pleased - it's simply a fact which means that there were and are other interpretations, and which logically means there must be some doubt about the infallibility of the one adopted.
quote:
quote:So why, given all these entirely chance happenings, variations, different interpretations and ongoing revisions, anyone in any religious communion should have the audacity to claim they, and they alone, are "right" about anything, let alone the rightness or wrongness of someone's sexuality, baffles me.


Obscurantism amounts to throwing many allegations out, wide, far reaching, condemning, none too specific.  As far as all the "revision" of the Biblical texts, concerning homosexuality, can you specify?

I never heard the Bishop say that no one else was "right about anything", or even that he is always right.  But aside from that, aren't you claiming that your treatment of homosexuals is more "right" than that of the Bishop?


Again, I wasn't talking about homosexuality specifically, but merely trying to point out again that claims to absolute rightness are difficult to sustain.  As far as arguing specific points are concerned, having spent an entire evening listening to a debate between two supposedly competent theologians who were also both C of E clergy about homosexuality I wouldn't dream of trying to venture into specifics.  A plethora of biblical references and arguments left me, and most other people I think, totally confused.  All that was clear was that the protagonists vehemently disagreed about the rightness of homosexuality in God's sight and that they were both equally convincing.  

So by all means Stephen argue back and forth within your own church club with the "tools" (biblical words) you have at your disposal and which you believe in, but don't seek to use those tools that most of the rest of use don't view as useful, or maybe even real, to persuade us of our sinfulness.

The Bishop is sometimes wrong?  Is that what you're saying?  If so that's one of the first times I've ever heard any serious Anglican (if that's what you are) say something like that.  Very refreshing.  In fact if Bishops would simply preface all their pronouncements with words to effect that what they were about to say was merely their interpretation of scripture which might be erroneous I would be halfway to being happy.  The other half would be an admission that scripture itself might not be the only valid interpretation of our spiritual existence.

My "treatment of homosexuals"?  More "right" than the Bishop?  Are you being serious?

Ok,  let's see:

The Bishop is saying that they are sinners and need to repent.

I am saying they are human beings (or members of the mammalian community of Earth if you prefer).
quote:
quote:I believe in the necessity of people understanding that they will be help accountable for their actions.  The idea of "the person" somehow being absolved from any connection with "the action" is not an idea I am happy with.  On the other hand I also believe that the person committing a crime on day 1 and being a sinful person who I don't respect, can also be the person saving a child from drowning on day 2 and be the angel who I do respect.  We can be both bad and good and a mixture of both, and there is no need for this artificial device of separating deed and person.
You've all but restated the doctrine in different words.  "Hate the sin, love the sinner" is (in simplest form) an affirmation that all human beings have virtue by being made in the image of God, and are not wholly ruined.  That's hardly different that you saying that a person is a mixture of good and bad.  

Separating deed and person, in this context, is in relation to love and respect, not always in relation to drawing boundaries.  I may love and respect someone who loses their temper ... but I still draw lines and don't let their temper rule the day.  

I think you need to explore the meaning of the phrase a bit more, before rejecting it out of hand.  There are qualifications about the statement, and, as far as I see it, it is little different than what you try to describe as an alternative.  You remind me a bit of Chesterton when he wrote about unwittingly rediscovering England.  


Yes I am a little like Chesterton in his most pompous personification I think, but without his redeeming wit and intelligence regrettably  

You are right of course in saying that the good and true import of the phrase "Hate the sin, love the sinner" is more or less as I stated, but the point I was trying to make was that the phrase, or more specifically the idea, can be used artificially in a kind of politically correct way.  For instance it's not fashionable for people to fail at anything these days, so we no longer have winners and losers in school sports days but merely competitors competing to reach their own personal targets.  Similarly it's out of the question to castigate an actual person for a crime, so this idea of separation is sometimes appropriated to avoid doing so.  Anyway I'm drifting from the point which is that I find the idea of someone genuinely thinking that they can call a homosexual act committed by someone a sin without that person feeling personally hurt and personally denigrated rather far fetched.
quote:
quote:My rule book might say that bishops who are against homosexuality are not welcome in my personal club, but what it does not say is that is that my rule book has a valid universal application.  Unlike his, apparently.

Your language and tone is not that of someone droning private club rules of small consequence, but that of someone morally offended.  Don't pretend that you're not saying you are really right about this while the Bishop is really wrong, and so exuding the same assumption of universality.  Even if debate is not to be always thought of in terms of "win/lose" (since I think all sides learn), to seriously court relativism removes you from reasonable debate altogether.

My tone it seems is what you would like it to be.  

You are trying to compare apples with pears Stephen.  I'm not the one with the detailed rule book claiming it has universal application.  I'm not telling the Bishop he's a sinner and must repent for going to Communion each Sunday.  I'm not even saying he is wrong in what he says necessarily.  What I am saying however is that he is wrong to try and impose what he thinks on other people in a manner that may cause them hurt or harm when he cannot possibly be certain that he is right.  There's no relativism here.  I impose the same strictures on myself: I would be equally wrong to impose my views which are necessarily subjective and may, by some grand objective standard, be wrong on other people.

I'm going to leave it there because I know you will have lots to say about that last sentence.  I'm ready for you   .  


quote:
quote:The Bishop might feel he is like a doctor who advises a patient that he must stop drinking alcohol because otherwise he can never climb Everest.  

    The difference is that the patient can see and feel deleterious effects of the alcohol on his body, and he sees and believes in Mount Everest.

    The two men by contrast feel only love and affection and happiness in each other's company, and are being advised that they risk forgoing a god who they can neither see nor believe in.
I have never known a homosexual (and I've known a few) who didn't struggle with their homosexuality ... feelings of guilt, low self esteem, emotional turmoil.  You would say this is only due to a larger non-acceptance of homosexuality as normal.  I would say that at least some of it is due to nature of homosexuality.  I'm not saying that a person may not persist in a chosen path despite difficulties. Aren't there people who commit adultery who are "fine with it", as well?  

As I said, we're bound to interpret the data differently, as long as we disagree about whether such, in fact, involves sin.  

Yes, I think we should leave it there.

I'm interested though to hear about your experience of homosexuals "struggling" with their sexuality.  Given your obvious involvement with church that doesn't entirely surprise me.  My friend from Durham I mentioned earlier because an Anglican minister and now works in an inner city environment, doing amongst lots of other kind things, counselling work with minority groups of all kinds.  He made a similar comment to yours about gay people, but I pointed out to him that most of the gay people he comes into contact with are in contact with him precisely because they do have problems.  His sample is therefore biassed.  Moreover he himself will admit that when a gay person joins his church he makes no effort to condone the "sin" or accept it.  So here we have a gay person who dearly wants to be a church member but is being made to feel like he or she is a sinner and therefore inadequate.  Under those circumstances it's hardly surprising that such a person is going to "struggle" - the attitude of the church has created a deep and difficult conflict in that person.

Looking at the people I know who are atheist in their views, or at least neutral or disinterested in the church, the closest gay person I know is my sister.  In her case the "struggle" was exactly the opposite of your suggestion.  She struggled for many years trying to fit in with what was expected by society and parents, by entering a heterosexual marriage, having children etc etc.  She was never truly happy, she had a deep friendship with her husband, but nothing more.  Only in the last 5 years has she had the courage to change her life to something that conforms more closely to her deepest feelings.  I have never seen her so happy or relaxed.  The struggle it seems is over at last.
quote:
    quote:What you vilify as pederasty now was at one time, and in some cultures, considered acceptable.  I think you are on a hiding-to-nothing if you try to justify your christian beliefs today by appealing to what I may or may not consider morally right or wrong.


Two questions:


1) Do you not think that cultures, despite their many wonderful beauties, can be really wrong?  Do you not think the Jew-exterminating culture of the Third Reich was wrong?


2) Are you really willing to suggest that child molestation is not abhorrently wrong?


1 Yes.  Yes.
2  No.

They all cause harm, and you bolster my point.

All I was trying to do was point out to you that you cannot assume that what you, Stephen, and the Anglian communion do and say today is necessarily right.

In two centuries Rochester's speech may be held up as an example of an arrogant institution imposing strictures that caused harm and misery.  I repeat:   I think you are on a hiding-to-nothing if you try to justify your christian beliefs today by appealing to what I (or you) may or may not consider morally right or wrong.
quote:
    quote:It's quite simply that today, the general societal feeling, and I am with society on this, is that pederasty causes harm and should therefore not be encouraged.
Do you only believe so because of a general societal feeling?  


I believe it because I believe it, society seems to agree with me.
quote:
    quote:Why do we have to burden everything with the weight of some grand universal law according to God?  Why not simply attribute it to the changing conditions in the world, our increasing comfort and knowledge of ourselves and accordingly more time and sensitivity to the needs and desires of others rather than simply to our own selfish desires and survival.
1) There is more to God than just law, and the simple answer is, We don't have to "burden everything".

2) Because if you attribute it simply to the changing conditions of the world, then it is nothing more than flux.

3) Whose comfort?

4) Is retaining sensitivity to the needs and desires of others a kind of overarching moral precept, or is it something that too may pass away with "changing conditions"?


1) If you say so.
2) The world is flux.  Is that so bad?
3) Ours, yours, mine, humanity's generally.  Or don't you think that, materially speaking, we have advanced from the cave?
4) It may change yes, as indeed it has.  As it will in the future no doubt.  And yes, if humanity is subjected to some event that brings personal survival to the point of criticality on a regular basis then it may well reduce.  I don't think it will ever pass away entirely incidentally - but that's a long and complicated discussion.
quote:
    quote:I am merely pointing out that the whole animal kingdom behaves in a perfectly consistent and logical way.  It seeks orgasmic pleasure wherever and whenever it can, it eats (its own species if necessary) to live.  Both are perfect "natural" by definition  - they happen in nature - just as the act of male/female union is natural.  You insist in picking out certain features of natural behaviour which don't accord with your club rules and then condemning them as universally bad and sinful.
And unless you're okay with your neighbor eating their own human children, then you too are picking out certain features of natural behavior that are appropriate to human morality.  

The Christian view holds that nature is fallen but not totally ruined, somewhat a guide but not totally trustworthy ... providing a philosophy that is at least consistent with the picking and choosing we all do.  It is hard for you to deny this view, while affirming and picking just as passionately yourself.  A complimentary match of nature that produces children, cannot easily be tossed aside as little different than cannibalism or parasitism.

"... Then I dreamed that one day there was nothing but milk for them, and the jailer said as he put down the pipkin: "Our relations with the cow are not delicate -- as you can easily see if you imagine eating any of her other secretions." ...at these words something seemed to snap in [John's] head and he gave a great sigh and suddenly spoke out in a loud, clear voice: "Thank heaven! Now at last I know that you are talking nonsense... you are trying to pretend that unlike things are like. You are trying to make us think that milk is the same sort of thing as sweat or dung." "And pray, what difference is there except by custom?" "Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no difference between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores up as food?" (From 'The Pilgrim's Regress' by C.S. Lewis)


Mixing human morality and the behaviour of nature is always problematic as Lewis finds in that passage.  And why do we have to mix or compare them?  It's fallacious.  Of course to some elements of nature, dung flies for instance, cow dung is food.

That is not to say that in what we consider to be our enlightened state we shouldn't seek to modify our own particular animal behaviour to make us feel better about ourselves.  This concept of trying not to cause harm to others is part of that of course.

I say again that I only raised this whole issue of how nature behaves in the context of your contention that nature provided man and woman with body parts which fit, and therefore this is an overt indication of "god's will".  Nature also provides that on occasion male pigeon mates with male pigeon and female with female so why isn't this god's will?  And simply writing with ever increasing velocity, as Lewis and Chesterton tend to do, "that's foolish!!", isn't going to weight against the point.

Nobody's "tossing anything aside" either.  I'm not saying that, in nature, cannibalism or parasitism is any more or less desirable than conception and birth - it just happens.  For all you know the mouse may have a very good and, by mouse morals, acceptable reason for eating her young.  I won't speculate too much, but who knows what weird and wonderful rituals the mouse ministers in the church of the great mouse might have dreamt up as being a moral compulsion for all good churchgoing mice.  Or it may simply be that nature for some reason judges that in the long run the well being of mice generally is best served by the action.  

I don't cite homosexuality in animals as something that we should copy or indeed cannibalism.  I merely cite it as evidence that it is not some special corrupt moral peculiar to our species that compels humans to behave in such a way, we just do it because it's natural.  
quote:

    quote: It just seems likely to me that all animals will seek this pleasure from whatever source they can obtain it.  
Should we always seek this pleasure from "whatever source we can obtain it"?  


That's irrelevant.  Whether we "should" or not is a purely moral question.  You're mixing again.  
quote:
    quote:If you recall I was specifically answering your suggestion that there "is the shared belief that the physical makeup of men and women are complimentary by natural design ... and that this striking compatibility (including the miracle of conception as a by-product of heterosexual union) is a not-so-subtle clue to the divine will concerning sexuality".  My contention is that this statement does not sit very well with the observed behaviour of the animal kingdom as a whole, and for a particular religion, sect, or bishop to decree that because the observed behaviour of the world doesn't fit its or his particular set of rules therefore that behaviour is sinful and wrong, strikes me as at the least arrogant and at worst potentially divisive and harmful.
And much of what you believe is morally acceptable in humans also "does not sit very well with the observed behavior of the animal kingdom as a whole".  If a moral pronouncement strikes you as arrogant simply because it doesn't fit nature "as a whole", then you should apply the same standard whether the moral pronouncement comes from a religious tongue, or a non-religious tongue ... from a Parrish Priest, or a Pip pontiff like yourself.  Quit being so arrogant, potentially divisive and harmful.     Actually I would say none of those things about you, except that you happen to be mistaken about this one.


Ok let's calm down here!   And step back a bit.

First off you didn't make a "moral pronouncement" - you took a physical attribute of men and women and said that because x therefore y; where x is the shape of genitals and y god's will.  That's how I originally came to point out that what happens in nature isn't a good guide to your god's will if you are consistent in your approach.

Second, and separately, the bishop did make a moral pronouncement about the observed behaviour of the animal world (or maybe he means that homosexuality in humans is wrong but in animals it's ok?), which takes us right back to the problem noted in the section above about making moral pronouncements about the whole animal kingdom.  

You say I am making such pronouncements?
You say I apply a different standard to religious people from that I apply to secular?

Where?  How?
quote:
We certainly know that people are quite different in this regard, if we can deduce anything from what you've said about the behavior of the Bishop.  Otherwise, why not just say its his very valid nature to do what he does?  


It may be that the bishop can validly take refuge in the contention that he is merely expressing his animal nature, but as you say yourself morals aren't relevant where animals are concerned, an accordingly he would find it hard to invoke that defence while pronouncing "god's will" I think.

A pleasure as always to talk to you.

Rob
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MB:
quote:
Yet despite shifts within your own church, and despite all the competing interpretations, you and the Bishop insist that yours is the correct one, on it seems to be little more foundation than the fact that your club has been around longer than anyone else's, is more powerful and has more members.  All I'm asking for is a little humility, just the teeniest little acknowledgement that you might just be wrong about some things, same sex love being one of them.


Your position, it seems to me, would make it impossible to come to any certainty about anything in scripture (or any other text for that matter, since your deconstruction shouldn't be partial).  I wouldn't mind so much a plea for humility where you feel its lacking, followed by an exegetical analysis of the scriptures which have led many people to believe that homosexuality is sinful.  But you haven't.  You haven't admitted that not all doctrines have the same degree of textual support.  You're shying away from the texts, by pointing out that the church has not agreed on everything, ignoring huge swarths of commonality and agreement that surround the skirmishes.  I am contending that the particular view of marriage and gender, of which I've been speaking, is one of these commonalities, and that those who disagree do so by doing violence to exegesis.  That assertion of mine can't be confirmed or denied by repeating your philosophy that the presence of disagreement means that all ecclesiastical beliefs are therefore equally valid (or invalid).  I might be wrong.  But we have to go to the texts, don't we?  If you deem that unnecessary, we have no common ground, since most Christians believe that God has revealed truth through the Biblical texts.

quote:
Misunderstanding here Stephen, I wasn't talking about homosexuality specifically, but merely a continuation of my effort to try and get you to acknowledge the essential man-made and man-changed nature of any theology and therefore it's fallibility.


I'm not at all misunderstanding you.  I am asking you to move from a nebulous statement about the alleged mountains of revision of texts and beliefs, and to present something specific to me.  You mentioned the Council of Nicea, though didn't elaborate, and so I thought it would be a good place to start.  There was no wholesale revision of anything (textwise) at the council of Nicea.  And if that is the case (regardless of extra-biblical theological discussions and pronouncments that took place) then we should still look at the biblical texts, for questions of Biblical interpretation.

quote:
Me: Gnosticism wasn't adopted at Nicea

MB: No it wasn't, but it could have been.


No, it couldn't have been.  The doctrines of Gnosticism cannot be reasonably derived from the actual texts that were accepted from the earliest Christains onward.  That's why other, later texts, were written by Gnostics in order to teach Gnosticism.  

This shows that the Biblical texts are not as "elastic" as one might think.  Since these accepted texts were enough, for those who from earliest times accepted them as authoritative, to teach something essentially different than Gnosticism.  And this is statement offers no valuation on Gnosticism.  It is simply a statement that Gnosticism cannot be sustained from the Christian texts.  

    

quote:
Moreover, again, the various tenets that were adopted were decided by men, and by some accounts, by a very limited number of men.  So from very early we already see the disenfranchisement of large elements of interested parties who disagreed with the interpretation sponsored by Constantine.  That's not a criticism of what happened - I am not stupid enough to think that everyone could be pleased - it's simply a fact which means that there were and are other interpretations, and which logically means there must be some doubt about the infallibility of the one adopted.


The only major "interpretation" discussed at Nicea was Trinitarian doctrine, though there were other, lesser things.  Arius and his follows, who held that Christ wasn't divine, and didn't even claim to be, were already marginal in numbers.  This council was an "official" refutation of that doctrine.  But we don't have to depend upon such official statements for interpretations.  All we have to do is read and study the texts.  Most atheists I know wouldn't hesitate to say that Jesus claimed divinity.

The more important thing about the council, as relating to our discussion, is that texts were formally canonized which had been recognized as authoritative since long before (not arbitrarily squeezed in as a political ploy).  

The question of whether homosexuality is sinful, for a Christian, is the question of whether the alternative interpretation can be reasonably sustained by appealing to the texts as a whole.  

Where the protestant agrees with the skeptic is in this:  there is no guarantee of infallibility of interpretation.  Still that does not mean that the polar opposite of Papal infallibility is therefore true.  It does not mean that all interpretations are leveled a priori, when there is a very robust and sanguine text to consider and encounter.

quote:
A plethora of biblical references and arguments left me, and most other people I think, totally confused.  All that was clear was that the protagonists vehemently disagreed about the rightness of homosexuality in God's sight and that they were both equally convincing.


That's why the primary thing is to encounter the text.  Sometimes the erudite help.  Sometimes the technical jargon is merely baffling.  I'm not asking you (right now) to necessarily even agree with him, or to accept divine inspiration ... but what do you think Paul meant in Romans chapter 1, and the other New Testament texts which refer to homosexuality?  I think its always a bad idea to visit the commentators first, rather than visiting the text first.  Of course, I don't mean to be presumptive.  It just seems to me, by the way you're speaking, that you're not really centering on the raw material, though you may have studied it for yourself.

quote:
So by all means Stephen argue back and forth within your own church club with the "tools" (biblical words) you have at your disposal and which you believe in, but don't seek to use those tools that most of the rest of use don't view as useful, or maybe even real, to persuade us of our sinfulness.


If you're not sick, Rob, then you don't need a physician.  I thought we were discussing the sins of the Bishop anyway.       Really I'm only telling you that the Bishop is acting consistent with what scriptures teach, not that I'm here to muscle you into believing it too.

quote:
My "treatment of homosexuals"?  More "right" than the Bishop?  Are you being serious?

Ok,  let's see:

The Bishop is saying that they are sinners and need to repent.

I am saying they are human beings (or members of the mammalian community of Earth if you prefer).


I don't understand what you mean here.  You obviously think the Bishop's stance is arrogant and dehumanizing.  You have to the right to think so.  But the reason you give; namely that he is making a moral judgment, is inconsistent with your own stance of saying he is an arrogant bigot.  

quote:
  Anyway I'm drifting from the point which is that I find the idea of someone genuinely thinking that they can call a homosexual act committed by someone a sin without that person feeling personally hurt and personally denigrated rather far fetched.


You've got a valid point here.  But I don't think the point is always missed.  Let's pretend we were talking about something else entirely, something of which there was no question in your mind about ... You would surely recognize that confronting someone, or merely being frank with them, can cause real pain.  And yet you might still deem it necesssary ... and still care very deeply about such a person.  To me, essentially, that's what "hate the sin, love the sinner" means.  

quote:
  I'm not even saying he is wrong in what he says necessarily.  What I am saying however is that he is wrong to try and impose what he thinks on other people in a manner that may cause them hurt or harm when he cannot possibly be certain that he is right.


Then you are publically saying he is wrong, "for imposing what he thinks on other people in a manner that may cause them hurt or harm when cannot possibly be certain that he is right".

Two questions:

1) How do you know that he cannot be certain that he is right?

and

2) Are you certain that you are right about this?

quote:
They all cause harm, and you bolster my point.


I feel you bolster my point for this reason:  You mentioned pederasty being acceptable at one time by a certain culture (Greco-Roman, primarily), and reproved me for trying to pin you on a morality that may not be universally right.  Then when I mention child molestation, you contradicted yourself and said that it causes harm.  But shouldn't you be in just as much doubt of your own cultural definition of harm?  And if not, how can you really say that a culture can be more right than another on any given question?  

quote:
I believe it because I believe it


Silly me, I thought a philosophy forum was for providing reasons for beliefs.  

Really, Rob, to get back to the context ... You first reproved me for bringing up pederasty as something that is really wrong, universally so, regardless of what a particular culture happened to think about it.  You replied by saying: "It's quite simply that today, the general societal feeling, and I am with society on this, is that pederasty causes harm and should therefore not be encouraged."  To which I replied "Do you only believe so because of a general societal feeling?"

So by replying to my question with "I believe it because I believe it" are you saying that you have reasons other than what society happens to now think, and you're just not sharing them?    

I'm still trying to figure out if you think anything transcends culture, or social conditioning?  Do you think you're trapped to believe what you believe merely because of some kind of socialization?

quote:
The world is flux.  Is that so bad?


It seems you and I both would have to know that the world is not entirely flux, to even use and understand the word "bad".

quote:
I say again that I only raised this whole issue of how nature behaves in the context of your contention that nature provided man and woman with body parts which fit, and therefore this is an overt indication of "god's will".  Nature also provides that on occasion male pigeon mates with male pigeon and female with female so why isn't this god's will?  And simply writing with ever increasing velocity, as Lewis and Chesterton tend to do, "that's foolish!!", isn't going to weight against the point.


As I've already said, the picking and choosing you do, as to what and what should not be emulated in human behavior (such as deftly not eating one's young, or attacking a stranger out of sheer instinct), is more consistent with my position than with yours.  Nature doesn't have to be bereft of clues to the best, or without hierarchy of beauty and propriety.  This is where the Taoists were right.  The fact that when men and women conjugate, the wonder of pregnancy and birth ensues, is a strong (but you are right in saying non-conclusive, if one doesn't want to accept it) clue that there is intendend complimentariness between the genders that is absent with same-sex-sexual relationships.

quote:
I don't cite homosexuality in animals as something that we should copy or indeed cannibalism.  I merely cite it as evidence that it is not some special corrupt moral peculiar to our species that compels humans to behave in such a way, we just do it because it's natural.


But that is no evidence for such as long as you concede that there are "natural" things that are atrocious for human beings to do.

quote:
you: It just seems likely to me that all animals will seek this pleasure from whatever source they can obtain it.  
    
Me: Should we always seek this pleasure from "whatever source we can obtain it"?

You: That's irrelevant.  Whether we "should" or not is a purely moral question.  You're mixing again.


I don't see how it's irrelevant to a discussion (between you and myself) about whether homosexuality is sinful.  That was the Bishop's statement If I recall, that you responded to, which led to our conversation.

quote:
You say I am making such pronouncements?  You say I apply a different standard to religious people from that I apply to secular?

Where?  How?


Yes, you objected to condemning homosexuality in humans, on the basis that it does not fit with "the observed behavior of the animal kingdom as a whole".  However, since you also reject things in human behavior which are prevalent in the animal kingdom, what is the difference?

quote:
Me: We certainly know that people are quite different in this regard, if we can deduce anything from what you've said about the behavior of the Bishop.  Otherwise, why not just say its his very valid nature to do what he does?  


you: It may be that the bishop can validly take refuge in the contention that he is merely expressing his animal nature, but as you say yourself morals aren't relevant where animals are concerned, an accordingly he would find it hard to invoke that defence while pronouncing "god's will" I think.


The Bishop doesn't believe he is merely expessing his animal nature, by doing what he does, and needs no such refuge.  But you, who find some degree of fault with his actions, to be consistent with your own philosophy should probably grant him such clemency.


I think we should start going with the short posts again.  Can someone say "Carpal Tunnel"?


Stephen
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Moonbeam,

I had to laugh at my own response ... I guess I spend so much time in philosophy that I forgot we were in the Alley.  Scratch what I said about having to back up your beliefs with reason.  

Stephen
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What people fail to realize is that the bible doesn't even refer to homosexuality.  It only refers (and breifly at that) to sex between people of the same gender, but without reference to any context of love and a special relationship between the people involved.  Take any line from the bible, that is supposedly about homosexuality, and you will see that it is not about homosexuality, but about sex between people of the same gender, which is a great difference, for just sex between people of the same gender is far from being an equivelant to homosexuality. There is no example of an equivlent of what we refer to as "homosexuality" something that is also love but not just brotherly love, something that is also sexual but more than just sex.  Beyond brotherly love, the bible only refers to the aspect of sex between people of the same gender.  Therefore it is very faulty for translators and interpreters to treat that as if it is equivelant to our word and concept  "homosexuality" that includes so much more than just the aspect of sex, but contexts of special relationships and love, the same things that people of different genders have between them, and that makes their relationship just as special and important between people of the same gender.  In the original bible there is no equivelant of the word "homosexuality".  But even more important is that there is no indication of anything equivelant to the concept and meaning of "homosexuality" in the bible either.
 
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     I suspect the whole disagreement, the part that I've been looking at here at least, is a failure of much of the religious community to understand and be compassionate to the legitimate needs of people while at the same time claiming near exclusivity in defining what those needs may be.
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Essorant,

I think you've misjudged the text for the following reason ...

Neither does the Bible mention adultery (sex with someone outside of monogamous marriage) within the context of 'love'.  Should it therefore be deduced that adultery is "okay" as long as this aspect of "love" is present?

That's quite a tenuous method of Biblical interpretation, when the simplest explanation would be that the Bible condemns adultury along with the too-obvious-to-mention insight that sex is often accompanied by what is called "love".  It would be more than a stretch to think that this was a mere oversight ... that the Biblical writers wouldn't think for a moment that adulterers could actually experience love for their extra-marital partners.  The drama is heightened by the fact that, if they were really writing against homosexuality in all of its emotive forms, it would still never be mentioned in the context of true love.  Care to explain how Paul could/would put homosex in the context of true love, and still condemn it?    

Therefore, with the subject of homosexuality in the Bible, as with the subject of adultery in the Bible, it would be better to ask what it is most likely that the writers of the texts meant when they wrote them, in light of the entire teaching of scripture concerning sexual ethics, marriage, and gender, and to go from there.  


Bob,

I appreciate what you're saying.  But I can't help observing that any moral stance, involves a conflict over what is a real "need", or more precisely, over what is the right way to meet it.  Someone might "need" money, but they shouldn't get it from a company that is not theirs, even if a company employee goes along and consents.  An awkward analogy, but you can understand what I'm getting at.


To an understandably difficult discussion for all ...


Stephen  
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Dear Stephen,

          Thank you for a sympathetic response to a testy interjection.  You're a kind man.

     Nevertheless, there is a bit of something to what I'm talking about here.  I know gay folk who are every bit as decent and as worthy as I am or as you are.  More so than I am, I can tell you.

     I think that we have the question backward.  It should not be, what do they need to do to be moral people or to be right people.  It should be, what should the religions of the world do to earn the devotion, the faith and understanding of such people as these.  There may be folk that you would rather leave alone in the wilderness, I don't know.  I have no particular fondness for many murderers, and those who prey on children require all my efforts even to consider at all.

     But those people who have an honest love for each other, and who do their best to practice charity and compassion and decency ó I must say I'm sorry, here, but if religion cannot accept folks like this, then I think it is religion that is at fault, and not the people themselves.

     I don't mean here Christian people, I mean anybody, Jewish, Hindu, Jane, Muslim, I really don't care.  If they have so lost the primary meaning of love and compassion in their zest to parse the rules, I believe they have missed the point.

     I can't say that I wish to impose such a view on anybody, but I do believe it makes very good sense.  And I don't mean logical scientific sense, either, since I am not trying to make a scientific or logical argument here.  I am simply saying what seems most right to me.  

     I need to ask myself, is the God that I wish to be worthy of, the sort of God that would exclude honestly loving people who, near as I can tell, neither mean nor do harm to others?  Is that the loving God that I have come to, those times that I have been able to come that far?

     Without trying to force anybody to agree with me, I can and do say, I don't think so.  I hope I am forgiven my failures in compassion; but I would feel much better if I was able not to make them in the first place.

     I'd be interested in any thoughts you or anybody else might have on the matter.  Always a pleasure to speak to you again.

Sincerely yours,  Bob Kaven
    
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quote:
I don't mean here Christian people, I mean anybody, Jewish, Hindu, Jane, Muslim, I really don't care.  If they have so lost the primary meaning of love and compassion in their zest to parse the rules,

Bob

I think Stephen's point is that religious people are being loving and compassionate in the best way they know how by guiding people towards behaving as they believe the Bible says they should.  It's kind of an impasse but in my next post to Stephen I try to point out some of the pitfalls of adopting a "we know what is best for you" approach.

Ess

I think your attempt to discuss what the various passages of the Bible say about same sex relations was brave but futile and illustrates why, these days, I try to avoid getting into text specific discussions.  The mainstream religious community have had centuries to prepare defences to every possible line of specific attack on their interpretations of the texts, and in my experience, every such discussion ends in an inconclusive result at best.

Stephen

Smiling at your "reason" post.  I can assure you I'm trying to be "reasonable"!  That's why I'm taking so long to come back at you.  That and the sore wrists.
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Stephanos,


No.   I am not saying that love justifies being unfaithful, but  I am saying that love proves that homosexuality is far more and far different from the depthless and sex-centered references in the bible that people treat as referring to "homosexuality".  

Unfaithfulness such as adultry is contrary to a loving and loyal relationship, but how is loving someone of the same gender contrary to a loving and loyal relationship?  How do you treat those things as being on the same level?  

The problem I see is that the bible and you don't include the very things that make homosexuality a good thing.  Instead all you do is exclude those very things or exclude them from counting, and then treat your own representation with those things excluded as the context that makes the same gender in intimicy a bad or wrong thing.  But when you don't let such important contexts of relationship, love, and loyalty, etc count, things that give homosexuality meaningfulness and virtue (just as they do heterosexuality), but refer only to sex (as the bible does) then you yourself are manipulating the "equation" in such way that makes sure it can only add up in your mind to something that looks inferior or looks like a vice, or looks like sin, in comparison to representing a relationship between people in an enriched and meaningful state.  
 

Essorant
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41 posted 07-24-2009 10:12 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Moonbeam

That may be true.  

But discussing such things I think is very important.  For Stephanos and many others give what seems unwavering faith to using the bible for their approach and judgement about homosexuality.  But the danger in this is that I find the bible very inadequate as an authority on homosexuality for the reasons mentioned earlier.   There is more than enough evidence of homosexuality in real life that it is faulty to insist that a few brief words in the bible, and words that center only around sex between people of the same gender, should be taken as the "authority" by which ultimately to judge instead.  

I think there is a legitimate sin that the bible refers to which involves people of the same gender.  We see this in the the Book of Judges where men surround a house and demand the Levite guest to be brought out so they can rape and molest him.  They don't demand a woman, but they specially demand the man (even though the master of the house gives them two women instead, to make it less a sin?) Here is an example or suggestion of a sin which involves people of the same gender in the bible that might have been frequent in those times.  But I can't fathom how that should be treated as an equivelant of what we refer to today as "homosexuality".  How is it right to treat sex and sex crimes involving people of the same gender as the equivelant of or what defines "homosexuality"?
 


[This message has been edited by Essorant (07-25-2009 11:27 AM).]

moonbeam
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.

[This message has been edited by moonbeam (07-27-2009 06:06 AM).]

moonbeam
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And also Stephen I meant to say before that I do not aim any of my less than flattering comments about orthodox christians at you personally.  I have found you throughout all our discussions at PiP to be not only a knowledgeable and great debater, but also a kind and patient person willing to tolerate even my dogmatic and sometimes brusque tone.  I strongly suspect that had you been around 40 years ago to teach me divinity at school by now I'd be the vicar for Little Wallop instead of Rowan Atkinson.
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I hope my "tone" is not taken personally either, Stephanos.  I try to speak as correctly as possible, but unfortunately I know it may come across as rather stiff and cold sometimes.  
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.


"Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)!" (26:165-166).

"Would ye really approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, ye are a people (grossly) ignorant!" (27:55).

"For ye practise your lusts on men in preference to women : ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." (7:81). "And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!" (7:84). "He said: "O my Lord! help Thou me against people who do mischief!"" (29:30).Ē


ďQur'anic verses and hadith condemn sexual acts between members of the same sex. Islam, one of the Abrahamic religions along with versions of Judaism and Christianity, rejected homosexuality from the religion's beginning.Ē

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_issues_and_Islam


Now itís my understanding that Islam has had no First Council of Nicea and then a series of revisions.  To Moslems the Qur'an is the literal word of God and they donít get to write the
tunes He dances to.  They donít get to be buffet Moslems picking what of Islam they care for
in their personal diet.

Personally, I couldnít care less, except that this twisting and turning of a religion
to suit if not legitimize oneís own personal appetites strikes me as distasteful.

Iím probably not a Christian, (Iím certainly not my motherís Roman Catholic),
I make my own choices taking my chances. . . and  Iíll find out if that was OK
when I get there.



.


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quote:
Personally, I couldnít care less, except that this twisting and turning of a religion
to suit if not legitimize oneís own personal appetites strikes me as distasteful.


"Personal appetites" or whims, I agree are not a good ground for changing a religion.  But what about better understanding and enlightenment?  Isn't it a good thing for people to adjust their religion to what makes more sense?

moonbeam
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quote:
Now it's my understanding that Islam has had no First Council of Nicea and then a series of revisions.  To Moslems the Qur'an is the literal word of God and they don't get to write the
tunes He dances to.

Good point John, and yet some Moslems interpret the literal word of God as a message to kill infidels and others peace and love to all men.  The origin of the message does not seem to be too important, what men do with it is what matters.
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48 posted 07-26-2009 04:55 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


"better understanding and enlightenment"

By whom except those with a vested interest
in finding accommodation to their preferences?
The phrase is a mask.

If Jesus himself came back and repeated the words
in the Bibles on the subject word for word plenty
would say he was no more than a man behind the times.


.
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49 posted 07-27-2009 06:57 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob,

A very thoughtful response by you.  

Where I can agree wholeheartedly:  In being compassionate, kind, loving to all, regardless of "sins" or even disagreements.  

Christians are still bound to believe that God defines sexuality and even love.  Therefore, as far as the "Church" goes, such standards need to be there.  But the "Church" is not the only community that Christians are a part of.  They are also a part of the world and various forms of community around them.  This leaves plenty of room to hold standards, and still to not leave someone "alone in the wilderness", as you put it.

Essorant:
quote:
Unfaithfulness such as adultry is contrary to a loving and loyal relationship, but how is loving someone of the same gender contrary to a loving and loyal relationship?  How do you treat those things as being on the same level?



One is contrary to a standard:  faithful monogamy.  The other is also contrary to a stardard:  heterosexual monogamy.  One is being untrue to one's spouse.  The other is being untrue to one's gender.  If gender is equally as sacred as marriage, then you can see how both adultery and homosexuality can be "on the same level".  


quote:
The problem I see is that the bible and you don't include the very things that make homosexuality a good thing.  Instead all you do is exclude those very things or exclude them from counting, and then treat your own representation with those things excluded as the context that makes the same gender in intimicy a bad or wrong thing.  But when you don't let such important contexts of relationship, love, and loyalty, etc count, things that give homosexuality meaningfulness and virtue (just as they do heterosexuality), but refer only to sex (as the bible does) then you yourself are manipulating the "equation"


No one is "manipulating the equation".  I've already pointed out that adultery too may involve what is called "love", for the extramarital partner, to show you that love, by itself, cannot justify anything.  You counter by pointing out that adultery involves betrayal of a person.  I've responded by saying that homosexuality involves a kind of betrayal of one's own person ... one's own gender.  

Whatever you think Ess, you shouldn't keep repeating that the context of "love" makes everything different.  That is not a given.  It depends on whether anything else is afoot.  So to advance the conversation, you'll have to tell me either why you think gender isn't divinely determined, or why you think gender isn't violated by homosexuality.


quote:
I hope my "tone" is not taken personally either, Stephanos.  I try to speak as correctly as possible, but unfortunately I know it may come across as rather stiff and cold sometimes.


I've never been thin-skinned Ess.  This is a "rant" forum anyway.     You've always been respectful to me, regardless of our divergence in thought.  


John:  
quote:
Now itís my understanding that Islam has had no First Council of Nicea and then a series of revisions.  To Moslems the Qur'an is the literal word of God and they donít get to write the
tunes He dances to.  They donít get to be buffet Moslems picking what of Islam they care for
in their personal diet.

Personally, I couldnít care less, except that this twisting and turning of a religion
to suit if not legitimize oneís own personal appetites strikes me as distasteful.


John,

The usual popular-level belief about the Council of Nicea, and the actual Council of Nicea are quite different.  In this, Christianity and Islam are the same.  Both have texts which have not undergone any changes beyond what is part-and-parcel to the transmission of texts through time, via the process of translation.  

Because of the immutability of texts, most of the "suiting of one's appetites" or, at least the "suiting of one's views", involves denying clear contexts of meaning ... or either to say outright, as Essorant has done, 'I don't agree with scripture on this point'.

quote:
If Jesus himself came back and repeated the words
in the Bibles on the subject word for word plenty
would say he was no more than a man behind the times.


That's a good point John.  Which would lead me to ask how calling oneself a "Christian" could reasonably square with such a view of Jesus.  

Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (07-27-2009 11:29 PM).]

 
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