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"It was a different culture back then."

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by DontTreadOnMike, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. DontTreadOnMike

    DontTreadOnMike Eddaic Literalist

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    Often times when asked about verses in the Bible saying that women shouldn't braid their hair, wear jewelry, or speak in church and that people shouldn't get tattoos, or that it's ok to own slaves, Christians will respond with "It was a different culture back then. So in their society it was sinful." etc.

    Why doesn't the same reasoning apply to homosexuality today? Because the OT calls it an abomination? It says the same thing about a lot of things that we now consider to be fine. Because Romans calls it a sin? The NT also gives instruction on owning slaves and implies that it's better to never get married.

    So why is homosexuality so wrong? In other words, give me a Biblical argument against homosexuality that Christians don't brush off in defense of other former sins.
     
  2. eachallberg

    eachallberg Early Christian

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    This is a dead end because sadly, Christians can brush off anything.

    Lets get down to the root, its more than homosexuality. Its sexuality.
    Selfishness is so wrong.
    Its opposite of sincere love for others.

    You'r right,
    twice in the Gospel of Matthew does Jesus denounce sex/marriage.

    (Jews ask about marriage, but Jesus gets to the point; selfish sex)
    For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
    (Matthew 19:12)

    Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven."
    (Matthew 22:19,20)

    I got a NT that had instructions for slavery.
    Freedom is knowledge of love.
     
  3. GrayAngel

    GrayAngel Senior Member

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    Actually, if what I've been learning recently is true, the Bible makes no statements on homosexuality. The issue was never addressed in the Bible, but modern translations give a false impression of what the original texts had to say.

    Sexual orientation was not something discussed in Biblical times, but it's a recent phenomenon. Not that gay people haven't existed until now, but the acknowledgement of homosexual orientation is new. And when same-sex relations are called "abominable," the word used actually means "socially unacceptable" and is used also when referring to the act of a woman cutting her hair and several other things. Also, it was common at one point for a group of males to gang rape male outsiders in order to shame them, but it was not because they were sexually attracted to those men.

    Right now, I'm leaning a little more on the fence, but I'm cautious to abandon my position at the risk of giving people permission to sin. But if the Bible doesn't acknowledge homosexuality, then the question I have to ask is why. God certainly was aware that homosexuality existed, so why didn't He say anything on the subject? Was it just because the issue hadn't come up yet?

    Maybe. But what about what the Bible does say on topics like marriage? The Bible pretty clearly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And the relationship between God and the church is compared to marriage, with God as the husband and the church as the bride. How does homosexuality fit in?

    For me, since I can find no exception clause for marriage that allows for two of the same sex to be called married, then same-sex marriage does not exist. For the sake of the little sanctity that still exists in our modern understanding of marriage, I must reject it.

    The Bible also frowns upon sexual relations outside of marriage. Does this mean that homosexual Christians should live a life of celibacy? Maybe so. I can't really say for certain. Fortunately for me, though, God blessed me with a heterosexual orientation, so I don't really have to worry about it too much.
     
  4. a_ntv

    a_ntv Ens Liturgicum

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    Well, we speak of homosexuality but actually the Bible condemns lots of other behaviors such as sex with women before marriage, or adultery. All these sexual sins are against the sixth (or 7th according to the numerations) commandment, given by God to Moses as "perpetual law", and so on these commandments are not subject to the cultural changes. Some theologians call them "natural law".

    What is very unusual is that some denominations focus on homosexuality, while allow pre-marital sex or adultery. This is not coherent.

    If we look at Jesus, remember that He demanded a very high and ascetic profile: Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God
    The point is to be ready to leave everything for Him, not only the own homosexual relation, but also the family, the money, the safety of our life.
    Also here is too easy to point out homosexuality and water down the demands of Jesus as not applicable to a "respected life"

    Whether you are gay or not, Jesus asks anyway everything from you: And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Mt 10:38), or So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth(Rev 3:16). So I don't understand the focus on homosexuality, as if to be heterosexual would be enough.

    When the Bible speaks of sins, the Bible refers always to acts. Not to attitudes or orientations.

    Homosexual orientation is known in the Bible: David mourned Jonathan saying: your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. The orientation is not a sin.

    The sins are only acts. The homosexual Christians should live a life of celibacy (or marry with a women who explicitly accepts not be loved): God is high demanding to these Christians (but in truth God is high demanding to all Christians)

    There is nothing of new in the history.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
  5. Publius

    Publius Guest

    You're assuming that "it's a different culture back then is a valid answer". While the difference in culture helps to explain some of the things in the Bible and helps us to understand things about their society, God's commands were not culture-based.

    The only prohibition against tatoos is in the context of not engaging in pagan behavior. As for slavery, a much better explanation is to point out the difference between the types of slavery depicted in the Bible and the type of slavery most often referred to by those who object.

    Those who accuse the Bible most often commit a logical fallacy commonly called a categorization fallacy. Most often, they're referring to "man-stealing", which is not only prohibited in scripture, but is punishable by death in scripture, when what they really mean is indenture, a type of servitude in which a person or family agrees to work for a master and be under his authority until a debt is paid or a given time or condition has passed.

    Because the prohibition against homosexuality is not culture based.

    Again, this would be a categorization fallacy. There are different kinds of laws in the OT. Some still apply, some do not.

    That some no longer apply does not mean that those that do, do not.

    Yes, the New Testament does give instructions for slave owners but, again, it's talking about indenture, not man-stealing. And the Bible never commands people not to get married, only gives the pros and cons of marriage and singleness.

    Because it perverts God's purpose for marriage, which is to be an illustraton of the relationship between Christ and the Church.
     
  6. GrayAngel

    GrayAngel Senior Member

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    Actually, God considers the heart to be of more importance than outward action. This is why looking lustfully at a woman is called equal to adultery. The act is in looking. The sin is in looking lustfully, which is a heart issue.

    Also, it was considered a sin to work on the Sabbath day, but the Bible said that it was forgivable if the person had forgotten it was the Sabbath, while someone who was fully aware of what they were doing were to be punished.

    Additionally, if a man was found sleeping with another man's wife, both would be sentenced to death. Unless the woman screamed or made a struggle to get away, because while they were together her heart wanted no part in it.

    Was Jonathan a homosexual? No. He loved David more than he loved women, not as he loved women. The two appreciated one another very much and enjoyed one another's company more than anyone else's, including even the company of their wives and mistresses.
     
  7. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis De profundis clamavi et exaudisti me.

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    I think there are some essential things we need to get out of the way, because I think a lot is being tangled together here that shouldn't.

    The Bible is not all proscriptive--that is, telling us what or what not to do. Often, perhaps even more often, the Bible is descriptive--describing things as they are, without necessitating moral qualifier one way or another.

    That's really important first off.

    Further, it's not that there were things that were forbidden at one point but are okay now, or were acceptable at one point but forbidden now. Usually when discussing cultural context the issue at hand is not that something like "wearing jewelry" was wrong at one point but acceptable now; rather the cultural context is understanding what internal, ethical issues were of concern. Why would the same Apostle who so often speaks of the triviality of "holiness codes" ("don't touch!" "don't taste!" etc) speak against something as trivial as, say, jewelry? Understanding the underlying cultural consciousness in which a localized and highly specific statement is being made is crucial in order to make any meaningful application from the text.

    That's sort of the point really, when we take (for example) the New Testament we are by and large dealing with texts written to a very specific group of people, at a very specific time, living in a very specific place, in the midst of a very specific set of circumstances. In order to draw out (exegete) anything meaningful and universally applicable requires that we look deeply at this sort of context. Otherwise we are left with rather unreasonable "holiness codes" which are otherwise rejected in the New Testament as trivial and contrary to the Christian's liberty of conscience.

    Then we get into another issue altogether, which is when we start talking about the Torah: the set of instructions which God gave to Israel through Moses at Sinai which are found in the first five books of the Bible--Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. A set of instructions given exclusively to the Jewish people as part of their unique Covenant with God. Commandments such as involving kashrut (dietary requirements), ritual sacrifice, the observance of holy days (such as Pesach/Passover), Sabbath observances, the whole gamut. The issue here is not what was required then is not required now; but rather the issue is that these instructions were given to a very specific group of people: The Jews. The New Testament is actually quite clear that Torah-observance is not a requirement of being a Christian, that uncircumcised Gentiles who were being brought into the Church through Baptism were under no compunction to convert to Judaism and thus commit to the observance of Torah.

    The Jewish people still very much observe Torah, it is an intrinsic part of their religious views and their relationship with the Divine. It's just not that in Christianity, Christianity is about what we perceive as a new and universal Covenant which God has and is establishing with all of mankind through Jesus the Christ, whereby He is renewing the whole of creation and bringing together people of every background into a new people which He calls His Church.

    It is therefore not a single issue which you bring up, but rather multiple issues involving an appropriate method of exegesis. Involving hermeneutics and theology.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  8. drich0150

    drich0150 Regular Member

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    Here is a very simple one.

    All sexual activity (even lust) outside of a santified marriage is a sin.

    A Santified marriage is only defined as between man and woman.

    Homosexuality is a sin simply because there is not a santified pretext in which one can rightfully (Meaning without sinning) consumate their relationship in any way shape or form.
     
  9. food4thought

    food4thought Loving truth

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    There are many different ways that believers interpret the Bible, but in essence ViaCrusis is right.

    For example: how does one understand the relationship of the Christian to the Law? Much confusion about this has caused alot of misunderstandings, I think. I believe my view of this to be right, but others would disagre... I see the OT covenant as having been COMPLETELY REPLACED by the NT covenant for the believer. Thus, anything in the OT Law that is not affirmed in the NT is not applicable to the Christian, but whatever is affirmed in the NT is binding to the believer. At times, something from the OT is affirmed in the NT, but some changes are made. So we see that the OT Law is no longer binding on the Christian (feasts, dietary laws, etc), yet some of it has been affirmed and carried into the New Covenant (lying, stealing, murder, etc), and some of it has been carried over and modified (adultery, and all sin really, begins in the heart, etc).

    Thus, when the the Apostle Paul (and others) speaks of "sexual immorality", we have to look at what this means in the context of the OT, and see if anything has been modified in the NT. One of the primary passages in the OT Law that speaks of sexual immorality is Leviticus 17... and I believe that the prohibition on sexual acts described in that passage (and others) are binding on Christians today, but not the penalties since Jesus has taken the penalty for all our sins upon Himself. Among these laws in Leviticus 17 is a prohibition against "man lying with man as they would with a woman"... and I see nothing in the NT to significantly modify that prohibition.

    Thus, homosexual acts are still considered sin... and as lustfull leering at a woman is sinfull for heterosexual men, so it would be the same in a homosexual context.

    Bottom line: as Christians, we are called to love sinners and despise sin. So as we are called to act in love towards all sinners, the same should apply to homosexuals (THIS ONE IS DIRECTED AT YOU, IF ANY OF YOU HAPPEN TO BE HERE, WESTBOROUGH BAPTIST!!!). For those outside the faith, we are called to act in love and proclaim the truth of repentance from sin and salvation in Jesus Christ... but we CANNOT expect them to change their behavior to suit God's commands if they do not accept Jesus as their Lord.

    Those who do receive the gospel are accepting Jesus as their Lord, and the commands of the NT Covenant become binding on them. In their case, their should be an acknowledgement that homosexual behavior is a sin, and at the very least some effort to repent from it. All Christians struggle to overcome sin in their lives, and often fail, so grace should be extended in these situations. Yet if there is no acknowledgement of their sin, and/or no attempt to repent from it, it is clear from the New Testament that the body should LOVINGLY rebuke that person, and if repentance is not forthcoming, they should be put out of fellowship (1st Corintians 5). Should repentance occur, we are called to receive that person back into fellowship (2nd Corinthians 2). In no circumstance should any unrepentant sinner be involved in the leadership of a church, let alone as a pastor (1st Timothy 3; Titus 1). Sadly, this has been largely ignored by the church, as many pastors have blatant unrepentant sin of many types, and so we are hypocrites for making such a big deal out of homosexual pastors when we are not willing to deal with other sins like pride, heterosexual sin, and others amongst our leaders. I pray for this to change.

    Hope this was helpful, Mike;

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
  10. DontTreadOnMike

    DontTreadOnMike Eddaic Literalist

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    This is wrong. So very wrong. Int he OT, the rules for the indentured servitude type of slavery only applied to Jews "owning" other Jews.

    But the rules for owning non-jews are as follows...

    “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”
    -Leviticus 25:44-46



    Exodus 21:20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. 21:21 But, if he lives a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his property.”

    So you can beat your slave as severely as you want as long as he lives at least for a few days. But if he dies after a few days, then you are off the hook because, as the Bible says “he is your property.”


    I think you're mixing up the OT rules for Jewish indentured servants and what the Romans did in the NT. A Jew could only own a Jewish slave for something like 7 years (can't remember the exact time period) unless you give him a wife, then he's yours forever. Roman slavery, the type talked about in the NT, could last a lifetime. Sure there were ways to get relative freedom (although you'd then still be attached to your master's household as a lower class citizen) but the master never HAS to let you go after a certain time period. Slavery in the new testament wasn't about paying debts, it was slavery.


    EDIT: I found the verses about Hebrew slaves:

    " If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)"

    "When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. [WHY NOT?!] If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)"
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
  11. DontTreadOnMike

    DontTreadOnMike Eddaic Literalist

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    I see that you're married. Are you saying you didn't lust after your future wife before you married her? Or at least that you thought it was wrong?

    Lusting after and desiring your potential wife (even before you know she might become your wife someday) is natural and healthy. It's part of falling in love and of courtship. Our brains are specifically wired to look at people and decide whether we would want to mate with them. There's nothing wrong with that, it's part of being human. And if God exists, he specifically made us that way.
     
  12. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis De profundis clamavi et exaudisti me.

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    When it comes to the conversation of Christianity and Slavery, the simple fact is that there has, until recently, never been an official consensus in regards to the practice. And one can find proponents and opponents of institutionalized slavery throughout the course of the past two millennia.

    It wasn't until the advent of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade that the issue really and fully bubbled to the surface and the deep moral and ethical questions of slavery had to be dealt with in a full and final way. I absolutely do believe that abolition is the only legitimate Christian response to slavery; but I also recognize that this is a sentiment spoken in a world that remembers the sort of slavery that took place in the New World.

    The Christian Church has not always been the best at allowing the ramifications of the Gospel truly permeate its social teaching, often it taking great injustices and systematic evils to percolate before the issue is truly dealt with in a meaningful way. For example, it wasn't until the Holocaust that the Church was finally confronted with the grand evil that the fruits of anti-Semitism had wrought. Fortunately, there are men and women in these times that are there willing to confront the rest of us and preach the Word radically and faithfully in such ways that we can no longer avoid such evil or remain morally neutral. This prophetic voice is godly: The St. Francises, Bonhoeffers, and Martin Luther Kings among us ready to speak and act, even if it means being the unpopular voice in the Church--even if it means dying for it.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  13. drich0150

    drich0150 Regular Member

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  14. food4thought

    food4thought Loving truth

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    This article offers a pretty good answer to your objections here... please take some time and read through it, it's long but not overly so:

    Slavery In The Bible (2/5) « Bible Apologetics

    Hope this helps;

    Mike
     
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