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Homosexuality: Can Christians agree to disagree?

Homosexuality: Can Christians agree to disagree?

Mentors are awesome!!!!

As a pastor, sometimes it’s tough to ask questions because I’m supposed to be the guy that has the answers to the questions.  That’s part of why I started this blog.  Sometimes I need the dialogue and unfortunately I sometimes have to resort to anonymity in order to get that honest dialogue.

My mentor though, is another great resource.  He lets me use him as a sounding board.  He’s somebody that I can ask questions without being judged.  Somebody that I can ask questions that other people would be offended by.

This is a conversation that he and I had last week via text message.  I tried to clean up the text language a bit but it’s still kinda rough.  You should be able to get the idea though.

Me: Okay so I’m trying to figure out where the line is.  Romans 14 says don’t judge one another, especially when it comes to Christian Freedom.  1Cor 5 Paul calls out a guy in sin and says kick him out.  Where’s the line, we are allowed to disagree on the Ten Commandments (sabbath) and on clean food but not on other things.  I’m struggling to see the difference.  Could homosexuality by a “Christian Freedom”? If not… Why?

Him: I think the line is where there is clear do’s and don’ts in the Bible.  Don’t murder is pretty clear.  But no clear teaching on smoking for instance.  Of course, some see the sexuality passages as nebulous but they really aren’t.

Me: So Christians can disagree on food and the Sabbath but can Christians disagree on hermeneutics?  Cause I think that’s what a lot of the sexuality stuff is.

Him: Hmmmm.  How is it hermeneutics?  Do you think it’s a matter of interpretation?  Or do you think that it is an issue of bibliology/authority of Scripture?  Trying to understand.

Me: I think there is a growing group within the church that holds to the authority of scripture but doesn’t see the bible condemning monogamous homosexual relationships.  They are reading the same Bible as me but they are reading it differently.

Him: Well I agree those folks are growing in number.  The issue is what is causing them to read it differently?  What commitments do u/they have that are different?  Those differences are not necessarily just hermeneutic in nature.  Could be value of scripture, theory of inspiration, etc. See what I mean?

Me:  I get what you mean but I don’t know that I see them making a different decision related to inspiration, or authority, it’s cultural context, that is debated.  Namely that orientation wasn’t a thing first century and that homosexuality then was predominantly homosexual rape.  If that’s the case, which I’m not yet convinced of, then I can see how they can argue that the Bible doesn’t condemn same sex monogamy but rather same sex rape.  At the end of the day I’m not convinced by their arguments but I’m also not convinced by Calvinism or Complementarianism.

Him: Hmmmm Interesting but nothing in the Biblical passages speaks of coercion or forced sex.  I think you have to eisegete that into the text.  The OT condemns rape and then separately condemns homosexuality.  It would then follow that prohibitions against homosexuality in the OT don’t assume non consesual sex.  First century Jews were more shaped by the OT than Greco Roman categories.  So as Paul writes he is more likely to be thinking OT than cultural practices.  Their argument requires eisegesis and special pleading and is just thin – nearly an argument from silence.

Me: I agree that the argument is thin but how do we deal with those that don’t agree.  Romans 14 principle seems to say don’t judge, let God deal with them.  1 Cor 5 principle seems to say kick them out.

Him: Well don’t judge doesn’t mean don’t condemn sin.  We are supposed to correct those who don’t repent of sin (Matt 18) even to the point of denying them fellowship (1 Cor 5).  Condemnation/judging seems to be final declaration of eternal death sentence with no intent to further encouragement to repent and return to God.

Me: Any possibility that the issue of homosexuality is the modern equivalent of first century circumcision?  I don’t want to be the foolish Galatian that adds being straight to the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone.  Matthew 18 seems to be someone who has offended and refuses to strive for unity intentionally dividing the body.  Modern homosexual Christians seem to be fighting for unity while conservatives push them away.  Maybe I’m off track but it seems different.

Him: Different categories.  Jesus and Paul base their sexual ethics on creation order.  That is the standard and basis they continually go back to.  This isn’t a unity issue.  My citation of Matt 18 was simply to show that sin is to be confronted.  There is no doubt in my mind that homosexual behavior is sin based upon my exegesis and consideration of the other interpretations as well.  You know me.  I am always open to revisit positions. I have on this issue and I have just not been convinced by the new understanding.

Me:  That’s why I process with you and not somebody else.  1st century Jews were pretty convinced that circumcision was significant.  Also pretty passionate about their view of the Sabbath.  Paul said that neither issue was as important as they thought.

Him:  Because they had been fulfilled by Jesus – not because they weren’t initially important.  Jesus met the requirement of the ritual law.  All believers were still called to recognize the morality of God’s values.  Plus in the circumcision debate at the Jerusalem council gentiles were still asked to abstain from sexual immorality (according to Jewish preconceptions of that category) in acts 15.

Me: Okay that makes sense, so what do I do with someone like Rachel Evans.  Evangelical, holds to biblical authority but is convinced by the new pro homosexual arguments.  Is she still a Christian, is she still evangelical, can I treat her and those that agree with her as brothers and sisters or do I call out sin and then distance myself from those who refuse to repent?

Him: Well her interpretation is wrong and you can recognize that as such.  Is she a Christian?  I would think so.  She is just in error.  And we are called to reprove, rebuke and admonish etc.. (2 Tim 3:16-17).  But here’s reality, she is probably not going to agree with you.  I read lots of authors I disagree with.  But honestly with her I think her doctrine of inspiration might not be just like mine so I recognize that when I read and spit out the bones as I digest what she wants me to hear.

Me: Cause for break of fellowship if it’s somebody in my church?

Him: I need to ponder that.  I would probably preclude them from teaching and sit down and study the issue with them.

So here are my takeaways.

The categorical stuff makes sense to me now but hadn’t been explained before.

Homosexuality is in a different category than circumcision or Sabbath rules because it falls under sexual ethics rather than OT law.  If we put it in the OT law category, then maybe we can throw it out when we throw out the no bacon rule.  But if we put it in the sexual ethics category, which both Paul and Jesus link to the creation order, it’s something that sticks around.

What I loved most about my mentors responses is something that I’ve always respected about him.  When I asked if this issue was a cause for break of fellowship his response was not yes or no.  It was let’s sit down and talk about it.  I think that’s the thing that is missing most in this debate.  There are lots of people talking AT each other or worse hurling insults, but there are very few people that are publicly discussing it and in love, working through the issues.  I’m not saying that it will be easy but I think hearts on both sides need to soften a bit and fight for unity in an attempt to understand and support one another.

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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Bible, church, Religion, Sex

 

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Straight Christians for Gay Rights?

This weeks post is brought to you via our newest GodDam blogger.  Check back soon to hear more from Arayl and feel free to comment with your questions.

             Recently I had an interesting discussion about a new popular Sunday School curriculum known as “The Truth Project.” One of the sections in the curriculum deals with politics and poses the question, “Would you rather have a Mormon or an Atheist as the President?” Because the topic this week is Atheism I thought that my issue with this question might add to the conversation.

It seems that the question assumes someone’s political views and leadership abilities are strictly based on the religion that they claim. But is this really the case?  Plenty of people that would claim Christianity as their religion might also vote pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and pro-plenty of other more liberal views. Likewise, though we could find many stereotypical atheists who uphold liberal views, we could also find plenty who hold one or two conservative views.

Aside from the differences in political views within religious sects, there are plenty of people who hold my same religious and political views, who I would never put in office based on their inability to be strong leaders. One example of this is George W. Bush. As much as I can identify with him as a southern-raised-christian-conservative I would never have voted for him because of his inability to speak with confidence and be a strong leader. This standard for voting goes both ways. Though Bill Clinton claimed Christianity and had strong leadership and public speaking skills, his actions disagreed with traditional Christian morals.

I’m not trying to tell people how to vote here but what I am getting at is something much more universal. This basic principle is summarized simply by saying, “Because of the differences within religions, we can not judge people’s moral or political views strictly based on the religion that they claim.”

What I mean by this is that it is absurd to jump to the conclusion that some one is some sort of free-sex, pro-choice, hippy simply because they don’t believe in God. Rather than jumping to these conclusions we should sit down and talk to people about their views. When they say Atheist, what do they actually mean? When we say Christian, what do we mean?

So do you have any non-stereotypical views? Are you a conservative Christian who advocates gay rights or a liberal atheist who dislikes gun control?  Maybe you’re an Evangelical that doesn’t believe in innerancy, or the trinity.  That’s fine, the GodDam Blog was designed to ask those questions and struggle with those answers.  Comment below with your non-stereotyped views. We’d love to talk to you about them.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our email list over on the right hand side of the page.

-Arayl

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Atheism, Politics, Religion

 

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Is God Logical?

Lets get straight to the point.  All of us cling to traditions that were part of our lives growing up and now some of us are challenging those traditions.  Whether these traditions are religious or just other ways to live out life.  I’m going to attempt to add to what James was saying about looking at the Bible and reality.  I’m going to add culture to the equation (which is part of biblical interpretation) and try to help us all understand this difficult cluster of life’s crap we are all trying to balance out.

First, let me make clear that I believe all of God’s decisions are logical.  Lets not forget that we are merely human and God created logic and reason (if you believe in a God).  In life we all experience moments that seem so illogical to us that it must be certain that God forgot what he was doing.  This brings us to ask questions about religion, God, the Bible, eternity, or whatever we put our faith in.  God wants us to ask question and use the brain he gave us to grow in our faith and challenge ourselves as well as others. If we just go through life never questioning our own beliefs than shame on us.

Now that we have gotten to the point of questioning our belief system, as Christians we look to the Bible first.  We look to the Bible to find answers. Guess what? Most of the time we find the answers we are looking for.  The problem is that we find answers that we want to hear and stop there. Again shame on all of us for doing this (I’m including myself).  This is where bad traditions in the church and the “Christian life” come from and start to screw everything up.  We misinterpret the Bible and create a belief based on false foundations.

As Christians we distort reality or distort the Bible to fit our liking.  I became a writer of this blog to stop this from happening.  I’m sick of the “Christian life” and living the way the church tells me to live.  These ways of living are distorted and have created so much turmoil among the Christian community it makes me beyond angry.

Now this is where culture needs to get added to the equation.  The reality is that culture changes and since the Bible was written culture has changed a lot (that is an understatement).  I will use slavery for an example since it was used in previous comments on the last post.  Slavery in the Bible never seems to be a problem or a sin but we choose as American Christians that slavery is wrong. I totally agree with the previous statement and I’m sure most people do.  This is a great example of Christians using their own brains and questioning their beliefs.  The problem is that we stop using our brains when defining the correct way to live out our lives as believers in Christ.

I want to challenge Christians to reevaluate their traditions, church culture, and walk with Jesus.  Actually read the Bible for what it is and keep it in context.  See how the Bible can work in today’s reality and culture.  Talk to people with a different belief system and learn more about life outside the church and Christianity.  Question ideas, thoughts, and beliefs.  I also want to challenge people of others beliefs to share your ideas, thoughts, and beliefs.  Share with us how you perceive Christians and dialog with us.  The GodDamblog Team wants to here everyone’s thoughts.

~K.R. Morris

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog. Lets start learning from each other, so leave a comment.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Bible, church, Logic, Religion

 

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Pointing Fingers in the Right Place

Does anybody have the courage to ask themselves the hard questions in life?  Presently I have gone back and forth in my own mind if I am even asking myself the hard questions that would truly improve my walk with the Lord. For example, all people have issues with different areas of their life and can choose certain ways to handle these issues.  One issue that many individuals are having when it comes to the Christian culture is the church.  Instead of church being a place of community, fellowship, and worship it has become a place that individuals make themselves feel better for being a Christian at least one day a week.  All of a sudden church has become a check on our to-do list instead of a group of people coming together to love one another and live life together, which Jesus has called us to do.

I was recently involved in a debate between friends and new acquaintances. It really got me thinking about the real truth behind people seeing what church is to them. A few of the people around the table were bible college students, pastors, and people hurt by the church growing up that lead them elsewhere in their beliefs.  Of course the topic of religion and Christianity came up and the conversation was heated.  From this debate I learned more about the church and the different ways church has made an impact on people.  Anytime people are involved in a church, individuals are going to get hurt, it’s just inevitable.  I found myself stuck in-between two sides of the debate.  There was the “on fire” Christians who are highly involved in the church and the non-churchgoers who have been hurt by the church early on in life.  I am familiar with both side of the debate (not just knowledgeable about both sides but experienced both sides) but really listening to the context of the conversation I came to a conclusion.

Nobody is asking the hard questions!  The debate was continually going in circles because nobody wanted to offend anyone on a personal level.  The only personal question that sparked a thought in my mind was asked by the individuals who were hurt by the church, “Do you really live the way Jesus wants you to live?”  Now to the Christians at the table the answer was textbook.  It sounded something like this; “I strive everyday to glorify God but will never be perfect because of the presence of sin in our lives”.  Good answer, but it really doesn’t help our cause as Christians.  The people who are hurt by the church or dislike the church still think we are hypocrites. This brings me to the question that should have been asked by the “on fire” Christians. Instead of turning away from the church, why didn’t you take on the challenge of showing others in the church that the life they are living is not honouring to God? Instead of turning away from the church, why join all the people who live to the world’s standards?  If you are hurt so badly by a group of people than why did you let them win?

There is a passage in the Bible that comes to mind when I need to get my thoughts back on track.  Proverbs 4:4-5: “Then he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth’”. Sometimes we come up with our own opinions and understanding about the way we should live our life, instead of focusing on the true understanding and wisdom of God.  The hard question that I need to ask is “Have I been in a daily walk with the Lord, or am I foolishly leaning on my own understanding?”

No matter where you are at in your life, please take a step back and ask the hard questions.  Even if it has nothing to do with religion, we always take the easy way out in life and just blame others for things that happened to us.  Who cares if others hurt you or me, if you truly want to take the next step in life, do something about it!  Stop pointing fingers at others and point it at you first.  You may find the answer you are looking for and it might just change your life.

~K.R.Morris

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Bible, church, Doubt, Failure, Religion

 

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Is Our Future President Part of a Cult?

Well everyone, welcome to the end of the world.  Ya, I said it.  All of you who have held on tight to your eschatological views and fought the pre, post, or a millennial fight.  It’s time to find out who is right!  And for the others of you who couldn’t care less about eschatology but loved Tim Lahayes, Left Behind series, it’s all starting now.  That’s right, we have a Mormon pursuing the Republican vote in order to run for Presidential office!!! *GASP*

I hope you are all hearing the ridiculousness of my introduction but in recent blog news many have not found these statements so off base.  The pastor of First Baptist Church – Dallas went public about a week ago with his assertion that Mormonism is a cult.  Many others have been encouraging their congregants not to vote Romney because a vote for Him is a vote supporting a cult.  In response, Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, wrote an article for CNN defending Romney and explaining that many Mormons are in fact Christian.  (and the fundamentalists shudder)  He states that, “While I am not prepared to reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology, I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior.”

Then earlier this week well-known pastor Mark Driscoll entered the conversation with a very lengthy article which basically said that yes in fact Mormonism is a cult.  He does concede that there may be some Mormons who believe in Jesus and disagree with the teachings of their church, a concession that I appreciate, but he goes on to say that, “the Mormon church could never be considered orthodox unless it made some serious and massive changes to it’s theology.”

James Emery White, the author of a blog called Church and Culture, puts forth two different definitions.  He mentions first the popular definition which brings to mind things like poison cool aid and group suicide, and states that with this definition Mormonism is not a Cult.  Then he gives what he believes to be an accurate definition of a cult.  He defines a cult as, “a religious group that denies the biblical nature of God, the full divinity of Jesus Christ, and that we are only saved through His atoning death on the cross through grace.”

Come on James, with this definition the title cult now includes: many Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, and almost all Dallas Cowboy fans. While Driscoll puts forth a much more intelligent definition, I think Mouw, brings insights to the table that are both helpful and intriguing.

Mouw points out several anti-cult characteristics of Mormonism and I have to agree with his viewpoint that in fact Mormonism, as a whole is not a cult.  Sure there are sects of Mormonism that display features of cult-like behavior, but if we are honest, there are Evangelical Baptist’s that make me more uncomfortable than any Mormon I’ve ever met… Westborough anybody?

Cults do not establish cutting edge universities like BYU, staffed by PHD’s from Ivy league schools all over the world.  Cults do not enter into open theological discussions with Presidents of Evangelical Universities to discover similarities and fight for unity.  (Something that Mouw and several from BYU have been doing for quite some time)

Are their things within many Mormon churches that appear cult-like? Sure but do we need to throw the baby out with the bath water?

I am of the opinion that Mormons and Christians can in fact find enough common ground to share Jesus.  My hope and my dream is that both sides can be mature enough to intellectually discuss similarities and differences without choosing sides in an effort to destroy one another. Unfortunately the probability of these two groups finding a way to coexist peacefully is dubious at best.  Christianity has been known for being very close minded to anyone who seems to think differently, and the exclusivity and naivety of phrases like, “they don’t believe in the same Jesus as I do”, is not only condescending and arrogant but unhelpful.

I’m greatly encouraged by Mouw’s efforts to cross the bridge that has divided Mormonism from Christianity and to seek mutual respect.  I had several Mormon friends growing up and to be honest they lived out my faith better than I did.  They had a passion for the poor and needy and we dedicated to fellowship and evangelism in a way that I only dreamed of.  I hope and pray that their view of Jesus as savior is legit and if so, who cares if they ride bikes and wear special underwear.

With all that said, I’m curious to hear what you think?  There is a lot here so feel free to respond to any of it.  I usually try to keep myself out of politics but I couldn’t resist this one.  So here it is… Will you vote, or not vote for Romney based on his Religion?  Or will you do the right thing and examine his politics, his vision, and his ability to successfully lead a country?

Do you feel that there is any possibility for Mormons and Christians to unite? Should we even be seeking such an ally?

For Mouw’s Article Click Here

For Driscoll’s Article Click Here

For White’s Article Click Here

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Politics, Religion

 

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Fight Me

I continually find myself completely amazed at the ignorance and intolerable pretentiousness of modern Christians. Though judgment and criticism of other worldviews is extremely common there is also a brawl going on within the church. I wouldn’t quite call it a war because there aren’t sides. The fighting is not just occurring on a day-to-day basis but also on a conversation to conversation basis. These theological fist fights are breaking out all over the place. The issue is that, instead of arguing, people are fighting. If that doesn’t quite make sense I’ll explain myself.

Argumentation is a style of conversation and it has a purpose in life. This purpose is growth. This is a specific type of argumentation however and is not what you usually see in the world. What I’m talking about is a conversation where I sit down and try my best to understand your side of the conflict and why I disagree with it, as well as explain my side of the conflict in a way that might help you understand it more and figure out why you disagree with me? It’s interesting how, nine times out of ten, if you simply listen to what the other person is saying you will find that they usually agree with you about 90 to 95% of the time. With this type of conversation we may reach a point where we disagree on something and we must part ways. IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!!!! We will both continue to live our lives and may be better enlightened about other views or even our own.

The issue is that this type of argumentation doesn’t happen any more. Even with some of my closer friends and mentors I find it increasingly difficult to reach any sort of conclusion with them because all they do is antagonize and… well… fight. This isn’t helpful for any one and it doesn’t get us anywhere. If we could sit down and I could hear you out without being attacked and you could hear me out without attacking, we could reach enlightenment together.

This will to introduce extreme conflict, which doesn’t belong, into the daily conversations about our Lord and our Bible is destroying people’s ability to communicate. The other day I found some one who had never heard of Old Earth Creationism. Since I thought it was an interesting concept I explained to him that some people believe that the earth was created by God over a long period of time based on the fact that the Hebrew word yom means time period and not necessarily “day” as it has been translated into English. This argument doesn’t stop there. People also believe that we judge time by the rising and setting of the sun and moon however the Bible says that there was evening and morning three times before the sun and moon were even created. In fact I told him it was interesting to find that there is much more support for an older earth or some weird combination of days and years which were about the time that God created the world in.

When I was finishedtalking about it I asked him what he tho

ught and he replied rather contemptuously with, “that’s wrong.” I flinched for a second.

“Um… No it’s actually right.” I said as I showed him a few verses and researched some Greek. He refused to read the literature I had pulled up on my computer and spat out again.

“That’s wrong.” Frantically attempting to figure out why he was so opposed to hearing this interesting bit of news I asked him.

“Why do you think that?”

“Because it just is,” after a quick pause I blinked, “and you are a moron if you think that.” He finished and walked away.

First of all I’d like to point out that old earth/new earth doesn’t matter. It has nothing to do with how we live our lives or how we understand God’s creation of the world. The passages about the creation were about CREATION, not really important how long it took. The reaction to an argument is what I’m getting at here. His particular reaction might have bothered me if I didn’t know this.

We are Americans and as Americans we have certain inalienable rights. Among these rights are the right to our opinion, our right to despise intellect and enlightenment, and our right to viciously commit ad hominem if any one says something we dislike. Maybe the constitution doesn’t read that way but it’s what people in America have come to believe is correct.

~Ray

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Bible, Logic, Philosophy, Religion

 

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Welcome to the God Dam Blog


If you’re reading this blog it’s probably because you are curious and that’s totally understandable. You might be asking yourself, “Why would someone have a blog called God Dam?”  “They didn’t even spell it right?” “Plus it’s kind of tacky and it might even be a little offensive.”

Well, here’s the truth.  We didn’t spell it wrong.  What we are referring to with the term God Dam are the barriers, walls, or dams that have been set up theologically and culturally which tend to exclude people from fellowship in the church.  These dams are often built with the greatest of intentions, but are more often than not, built on tradition and pious doctrine. They are rarely, if ever, helpful in the endeavor of encouraging current Christians and/or reaching out to the lost.  The goal of the four authors and various guest authors of this blog is to break down these barriers by asking the questions that aren’t allowed to be asked, challenging the doctrines that aren’t allowed to be challenged, and creating a community where genuine fellowship and dialogue can take place in a safe, fun and stimulating environment.  We want to give Christians, ourselves included, an outlet and opportunity to vent frustrations with the church, discuss difficult theology on both a philosophical and practical level, and fellowship with other people struggling with the same, or similar questions.It might get tacky, It might get offensive, and it will probably get intense but the desired goal is authentic discussion and fellowship.  In a culture that is so focused on answers, we want to take some time to ask the questions.

Don’t forget to subscribe to receive the God Dam Blog by e-mail.  Just click the button to your right that says, “Let’s do this thing”

~The GDB Team

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Bible, Logic, Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized

 

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