Re-evaluating Gay Scriptures

By: Mormon Heretic
January 7, 2013

Reverend Dr. Laurence C. Keene, Disciples of Christ, “When people ask questions about homosexuality, almost always they follow with, ‘and what does the Bible really say about it?’

The preceding quote comes from an interesting documentary on Netflix called For the Bible Tells Me So.  The documentary discusses traditional and liberal Christian beliefs about homosexuality in the scriptures.  I wanted to run some excerpts from the documentary by you to see what you thought of these interpretations.

Reverend Peter Gomes, Harvard, “There are about six or seven verses in all of scripture that speak to even remotely what we might homosexual activity or homosexual conduct.”

Reverend Steven Kindle, Clergy United

Reverend Steven Kindle, Clergy United, “In this particular one is Leviticus 20:13

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.  They shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

If you read the Bible on a face value level, that reading disregards several very important things.  The first one is just a few verses before that.  Moses teaches in Leviticus that it is an abomination to eat shrimp.

Reform Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer, MAHL, “A few verses above and below it says you shouldn’t plant two different seeds in the same hole.  You shouldn’t co-mingle your crops.”

Kindle, “It is an abomination to eat a rabbit.”

Mayer, “There’s other laws that you shouldn’t wear linen and wool together.”

Gomes, “They are failing to read the Bible within the context of its authors and of its original culture.  ”

Bishop Desmond Tutu, “The Bible is the word of God through the words of human beings, speaking in the idiom of their time, and the Christian-ness of the Bible comes from the fact that we don’t take it as literally so that it was dictated by God.”

Mayer, “To just pick out that this is the one we’re gonna follow, the Bible doesn’t come that way.  It’s selective reading.”

Keene, “When the term ‘abomination’ is used in the Hebrew Bible, it is always used to address a ritual wrong.  It never is used to refer to something innately immoral.  Eating pork was not innately immoral for a Jew, but it was an abomination because it was a violation of a ritual requirement.”

Mayer, “Those biblical laws, they’re known as the holiness code.  There were laws that were supposed to help people at that time find holiness in their lives.”

Reverend Susan Sparks, American Baptist Church, “To me, that’s the important thing to recognize, the historical context and the basis for which it was written.  That particular section on a man not lying with a man goes to procreation.  It is about a nation trying to grow.  At the time, the Hebrew people understood that male seed was actually all of nascent life contained right there.  Women had nothing to do actually with the birth except for incubation.  So that particular section was about saving seed, saving seed only to procreate so the nation could grow.”

Keene, “There is no ability to procreate when you’re engaged in homosexual behavior so it was violation of a cultural norm the sin of Onan in the Old Testament where Onan is committed to death because he ejaculates out of the woman’s body so his partner doesn’t get pregnant.  As the King James Version says, ‘Onan spills his seed upon the ground and God strikes him dead.  It was ritually impure.  It was an abomination.”

[Film cuts to a scene of Martin Sheen from The West Wing where Sheen says] “I like your show.  I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.”

[woman responds] “I don’t say homosexuality is an abomination Mr. President.  The Bible does.”

[Sheen] Yes, it does.  Leviticus.”

[woman] “18:22″

[Sheen] “Chapter and verse.  I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here.  I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.  She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn.  What would a good price for her be?

While thinking about that, can I ask another?  My chief of staff insists on working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it ok to call the police?”

Reverend Dr. Mel White, Founder of Soulforce, “I can’t tell you how many radio stations I’m on where the opposition will say have you ever read Leviticus 20 and I say yeah I’ve read Leviticus 20, what does it mean to you?  And they say a man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be killed.  And I say, who should do the killing, the church people?  And this Presbyterian in Seattle said, no that’s the civil authorities job. That’s why we need to get more good men of God elected to the government.  And I said, so they can kill us?  He said, well you must find that hard to take Dr. White, but God said it first and it is our job to obey.”

The documentary then goes on to discuss former Senator Richard Gephardt’s daughter Krissy.

Right Reverend Richard  Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh (retired), “Biblical literalists are people who know the truth, absolutely and so they’re not able to engage in the conversation.  They’re only able to engage in a pronouncement.”

[film turns to a shouting fundamentalist preacher], “If I didn’t believe that the Bible was the word of God, I’d quit the ministry and I’d never preach another sermon!”

[unknown man], “God wrote it so even a simple guy like me could understand it, and if he said it, that settles it.”

Keene, “I have a soft spot in my heart for literalists because I used to be one.  However, when someone says to me, ‘this is what the Bible says’, my response to them is ‘no, that’s what the Bible reads.’  It is the struggle to understand context and language and culture and custom that helps us to understand the meaning or what it is saying.”

Reverend Irene Monroe, Harvard Divinity School

Reverend Irene Monroe, Harvard Divinity School, “There are many readings to any passage.  You and I can read the same passage and get a different interpretation, and the reason for that, it has to do with our social location.  I’m going to read the passage very differently than someone who might be white male and straight and upper middle class.  I’m going to read it as an African-American who has had a history of how the Bible has been used to denigrate black people.  I’m going to read it as a woman.  The Bible has been used to subordinate women.  I’m going to read it as a lesbian, another [ok] use of the Bible to denigrate another group of people.”

[young version of Billy Graham] “The Bible teaches that we  have a spiritual disease.”

Holloway, “Biblical literalism, far from being a classic Christian approach is in fact very modern.  It belongs in part to the early part of the 20th century.  So we had almost 2000 years of Christian history without biblical literalism.  It’s a modern invention.”

Reverend Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Chautauqua Institution, “One of my favorite example against biblical literalism is there is a text that says you must take all you have and give it to the poor.    I don’t know anyone who says ‘I believe that to be God’s word and therefore I will close my bank accounts, I will give all my money away, and I will give it to the poor.”

Holloway, “To me the most monstrous gulf to claim to literally following the Bible lies in the fact that most of the literalists in America are also capitalists.  [Graphic on screen shows Jerry Falwell annual revenue was $8.9 million]  You know they’re making money.  [James Dobson annual revenue $138 million] Being a biblical literalist you don’t take interest.  [Pat Robertson annual revenue $459 million] You couldn’t possibly have investments, because usually it is condemned in the Bible.”

The video turns to a few families that discuss how they dealt with gay children, and then goes into a somewhat hokey cartoon video that discusses some interesting science, claiming without sourcing that same sex activities occur in the animal world, including zebras, baboons, dolphins, sheep, buffalo, ducks, foxes, elephants, horses, gorillas, moose, house cats, pigs, mice, rabbits, swans and lions.

The study discusses twin studies and sexual orientation.  If one twin is gay, there is a 70% chance the other is gay, so genes seem to play a role.  Having older brothers increases the odds of younger being homosexual.  There is a belief that for a woman with multiple sons, subsequent pregnancies view the male as foreign, and the woman feminizes the fetus, resulting in more gay boys.  The video then discusses more scriptures.

[man shouting] “In Genesis 19 God burned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality.”

Keene, “Well that’s the passage in Genesis the 19th chapter that everybody even if they don’t read the Bible know about whether they are a part of a church or a temple, they know about Sodom and Gomorrah.  It’s a part of our secular wisdom, or lack of wisdom such as the case might be.”

[film clip from old television series,] “Tonight on Greatest Heroes of the Bible, the struggle of a man against the forces of evil, and the awesome destruction wrought by an angry god against Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Keene, “In the 18th chapter, God says that he’s going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because he has heard they are exceedingly wicked…

[from film clip] “…angels of the Lord appeared unto Abraham…”

Keene, “and he brings with him two messengers, angels in the form of men.  The next morning Abraham accompanies the two angels to Sodom and Gomorrah and he takes them to Lot’s house, and Lot entertains them and feeds them and allows them to have lodging.  It was required of the Hebrew people that if someone came to your door, you were obligated to take them in.  One of the most serious social breaches was to no entertain a stranger.”

Steven Greenberg, Orthodox Rabbi, “Sodom was an incredibly wealthy community and they didn’t want to share their wealth.  They thought that if travelers passed through and were welcome, well they might want to come and take our wealth, so they canceled the law of the welcoming of travelers.  Having violated the rule of Sodom, they threatened Lot and his guests with violence.”

Keene, “The Bible says in one translation, ‘let these men come out so we can have sex with them’, and another translation says ‘let these men come out so that we can know them.’  So we’re not clear as to which translation is correct.  My understanding is that these men wanted to gang rape these two males, these two strangers as an act of humiliation.”

Greenberg, “Anal rape was a great way in the ancient mind to humiliate, demean, and punish.  Armies that would defeat other forces would not uncommonly rape the defeated members of its army.  The Sodom story is not about license or promiscuity, or even perversity.  Sodom, according to the rabbis, is about cruelty.  It’s about in-hospitality.”

Keene, “So the angels strike the men with blindness and then usher the family out to safety.  ”

Gomes, “It’s not about homosexuality.  The city was doomed to destruction before the strangers arrived at the door.  There has been 500 years of reputable, critical scholarship in the English language on these texts.  This is not something that someone has come up with in the last three or four years, an apologist for a ‘liberal reading’ of scripture.

Monroe, “I know a lot of towns that are like Sodom and Gomorrah, that you can walk into these towns and they don’t show any sign of hospitality simply because you’re black or simply because you’re gay or lesbian, or just because you are an outsider.  We have many towns here in New England that are like that.  That’s the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, and when I walk through those towns because I’m a black woman, or a lesbian woman, that’s when I think of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Richard Muow, Fuller Theological Seminary, “I really do think that Sodom and Gomorrah is about homosexuality.  A lot of people today want to say it was really about hospitality.  But if all we have is the Sodom and Gomorrah story, there’s not a lot in the Old Testament that settles the question.  We have to turn to the New Testament.  The one that’s very clear is Romans 1, the first chapter of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans.”

Keene, “In the first chapter of  Romans, the apostle Paul writes these words:

God gave them over to shameful lusts.  Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way as the men also abandoned natural relationships with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  (Romans 1:26)

Muow, “It seems to me the clear meaning of that is, whatever the other stuff in the Old Testament, one thing that carries over as an enduring theme is that God disapproves of same sex genital intimacy.  He does not want men lying with men and women lying with women, denying the natural use.”

Reverend Jimmy Creech, Faith in America, “When Paul uses the term ‘natural and unnatural’ he is really meaning what is customary or uncustomary.  It wasn’t customary for men to have sex with men in a Jewish context, but he saw it in the Greek world so he saw that as evidence of worshiping the wrong god of idolatry.  ”

Gomes, “His reference is to same sex relationships among pagan Romans and Greeks.  Paul certainly never contemplated the kind of monogamous, long-term relationships that are very much normal among homosexual people today.”

Creech, “The Bible really doesn’t deal with homosexuality because it has no concept of it.  There were no Greek words, there were no Aramaic words, no Hebrew words for these concepts of human sexuality and therefore the few references that have been lifted out of the Bible to be used in religious teachings to condemn homosexuality really are inappropriate.”

The film goes on to discuss other personal stories of gay families.  Finally, I want to end with some interesting final quotes.

Bishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa

Desmond Tutu, “We have very perversely used difference to justify cruelty of the most vicious sort.  I equate homophobia to the injustice of apartheid and that’s so contrary to the heart of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Gomes, “The sin with which we should be concerned is not homosexuality, because I don’t believe that is a sin.  The sin however is homophobia, fear and loathing of homosexuals.  That is a sin, and it’s a more egregious sin because it’s often in the name of scripture by religious people.”

Are you persuaded by these interpretations?

  • No, I still think homosexual relations are a sin (45%, 25 Votes)
  • No, I already felt that homosexual relations are sanctioned by God (29%, 16 Votes)
  • I need to consider this more before I give an answer (20%, 11 Votes)
  • Yes, these interpretations have changed my mind (6%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 56

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Which answer best fits your feelings concerning Sodom and Gomorrah?

  • The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah dealt with hospitality. (43%, 26 Votes)
  • The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is a combination of homosexuality and hospitality. (25%, 15 Votes)
  • I don't know. (23%, 14 Votes)
  • The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah dealt with homosexuality. (9%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 61

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What answer best answers your feelings concerning the word "abomination"?

  • Many things that were considered abominations are not really sinful (linen and wool, shrimp, etc.) (72%, 43 Votes)
  • An abomination is something that God hates. (17%, 10 Votes)
  • I don't know. (11%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 60

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Do you consider yourself a biblical literalist?

  • No (82%, 50 Votes)
  • It depends on the topic being discussed. (18%, 11 Votes)
  • Yes (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 61

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34 Responses to Re-evaluating Gay Scriptures

  1. ji on January 7, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    One can believe that homosexual actions are sinful without having homophobia. It is hateful (but so very common) to label those who honestly believe homosexual actions are sinful as homophobic, where those persons do not hate the sinners.

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  2. Nick Literski on January 7, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    ji, you’re absolutely correct. The religious belief that homosexual relations are “sinful” is no more hateful in itself than the religious belief that eating pork is “sinful.”

    To engage in a multi-million dollar political crusade, with the goal of imprisoning or denying civil rights to thsoe who eat pork, however, would be exceedingly hateful—particularly when pork consumption by others has zero effect on your diet or health. :-)

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  3. Chris on January 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    The sin of Sodom was Gomorrah was not listed in the quiz. We read in Ezekeil 16:49, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

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  4. Will on January 7, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    As I have communicated in the past, I have a great appreciation for those in the church that are born with same gender attraction. It is clearly a propensity that they are born with and one of the biggest challenges one could face in this church. But, just because they are born with these tendencies doesn’t mean they should act out on them. No more than someone that is born with a tendency towards violence should act out on their pre-disposed desires; or, those that are born with a pre-disposition towards chemical dependency should live out their urges.

    Gender is eternal. Men and women are different beings. Marriage is intended for those with the ability to copulate and procreate. Procreation is impossible between same gender people. Those that are faithful to the law of chastity with same gender attraction will receive their proper identity with the proper desires. Those that violate the law of chastity, and chose not to repent, won’t be able to participate in procreation anyway so their desires will continue to be unresolved, which is the essence of hell.

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  5. Nick Literski on January 7, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Will, when were you diagnosed with your opposite gender attraction? It must be such a cross to bear for you—just like alcoholism, or drug addiction! ;-)

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  6. FireTag on January 7, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Nick:

    I was going to give you a like on 2, but I demurred. I think part of the problem is that many people DO NOT accept that giving something new the same name has no effect on the original. It’s like giving someone turkey bacon who has a taboo against pork, but insisting that they acknowledge it as bacon. They feel contaminated by the acknowledgement itself. It would be better if people could separate themselves emotionally to allow those that wish to call it bacon to do so, and those who wish to call it turkey call it turkey.

    Sometimes we should not be so quick to let others’ esteem for us determine our own self esteem.

    I don’t think the eternal realm is going to be any more two-flavor-only gender-based than the physical realm is — but then I’m a different brand of Mormon than Will is.

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  7. Mike S on January 7, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Here is my problem with these discussions. We tend to think in black and white and proof-text what we already think. A perfect example is from comment #4: Marriage is intended for those with the ability to copulate and procreate.

    Really? So someone who is sterile or had testicular cancer or who otherwise can’t procreate shouldn’t marry? Should a couple who can’t get pregnant instead get a divorce to “free up” one of the partners for a “valid marriage”?

    I’m not saying how people who are born with same-sex attraction should live, or marry, or anything else. It is a very nuanced area with no exact answer. But the black-and-white pronouncements as described in the OP (and echoed in comment #4) don’t do much to further the discussion. It’s like a missionary bashing scriptures with a Jehovah’s Witness – nothing is accomplished at the end of the day – yet on the vast majority of topics people have the same opinion.

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  8. WIll on January 7, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Mike S,

    It depends on how you view the term ability. I intended it as potential, or to be more precise eternal potential. The intended parts may not function now, but they will as celestial beings.

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  9. Henry on January 7, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    There is no re-evaluating. It’s up to us to find out what the sciptures mean. Not open to re-interpretation.

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  10. Nick Literski on January 7, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Henry, I actually agree with you. The writings of Bronze Age prophets must be understood in terms of what they actually intended to convey, rather than what entirely different cultures, centuries later, mistakenly decided that intended to convey. It would be an enormous mistake to assume that interpretations peculiar to the 20th Century reflect the actual intentions of these ancient writers.

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  11. NewlyHousewife on January 7, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    So we should all stick with our King James or move on to the current interpretations?

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  12. Nick Literski on January 8, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    The use of the KJV certainly influences interpretations of the text, but the translation doesn’t mandate any particular interpretation. Even Joseph Smith noted that different religionists interpreted the same verse of (KJV) scripture so differently as to “destroy all confidence in settling the question [in his case, of which church to join] by an appeal to the Bible.”

    The idea that the “sin of Sodom” was homosexuality is relatively recent, far newer than the KJV itself. It’s simply not accurate to suggest that understanding these passages differently than some modern churches do means abandoning the KJV translation itself.

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  13. Llenrad on January 8, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Very interesting post. I think I will go watch the documentary.

    I’ll try to get my thoughts out coherently, but forgive me if it doesn’t make sense to you.

    As Latter-Day Saints we believe that someday we can become like God. We are told that we need to become one with each other just like Chirst and The Father are one. This leads me to a different way of looking at the Celestial Kingdom. I do not envision me with dozens or hundreds of wives (because women outnumber men there due to their righteousness) in my mansion that has been prepared for me. If I am to love everyone equally would not my love for all other males and females be the same. I would not hold my current wife above someone else because I have become one with everyone there. We are to be all sealed together as an eternal family, so would we not all in essence be married to each other? I would want to share my life with all around me, not just my current spouse.

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  14. Douglas on January 8, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Ok. First off, the OP is so full of faulty analogies and non sequitirs that’s it’s unworthy of point-by-point refutation. The entire diatribe constitutes some of what the Apostle (and Prophet) Peter must have had it mind when he mentioned “which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Peter 3:16). If you have an issue with THAT, pray for a personal ministration of Peter (he might bring James and John, his counselors in his Presidency, with him) for an explanation.
    All these viewpoints of other clergy, esp. Bishop Tutu (under Webster’s dictionary citation for brave, post his pic, how many times he’s stopped a “necklacing” in the ‘paradise’ that is Sud-Afrique cannot be counted) are well and good…but, I’ll stick with President Thomas S. Monson, his counselors, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the other General Authorities as presently constituted, thank you, as well as mine own bishop and Stake President. As well as the personal guidance of the Holy Spirit, because I don’t want to live on “borrowed light”.
    The scriptures, being the recorded word of the Lord from those times, were clear about how He feels about homosexuality. we have the counsel of a modern-day prophet. Now, I do believe in religious freedom as one of my most cherished First Amendment rights, which is why I champion the Second Amendment so I can temporally back it up. The pride and arrogance I see coming from gays and the like-minded in rejecting this wise counsel is both amazing and appalling. Since I like Star Wars analogies, I’ll give the same warning that Luke gave to Jabba: “It’s your choice..”. I am glad that I’m not the one to have to wield the lightsaber, since I can’t trust that I’d be as judicious, merciful, and wise as HE who real Priesthood authority it is. I’m content to let the issue rest in the free marketplace of ideas and let the Lord set the time and place for judgement, meantime hoping we all escape it.

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  15. Mormon Heretic on January 8, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    “so full of faulty analogies and non sequitirs that’s it’s unworthy of point-by-point refutation.”

    Doug, this seems to be a favorite tactic of yours: don’t post any specifics, and just say that you disagree with the argument. I’m getting tired of your “non-response” answers. You’re free to invoke whatever reason you want, but please provide specifics, instead of the hand wave away. My guess is that you actually don’t have a solid answer, so you actually just state the argument is invalid. Come on, I know you can do better, instead of relying on weird slang that is hard to understand, or “Luke gave to Jabba” analogies. Come on–obviously you haven’t studied like these guys you lampoon.

    I’m not asking for point-by-point refutation. I’d settle for 1 or 2. (Or, as Jim Rome says, “Have a take and don’t suck.” He would have buzzered you out on your first line.)

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  16. Douglas on January 9, 2013 at 3:29 AM

    MH, it’s more than simple disagreement, it’s pointing out serious fault in attempts to get around clear warnings from the Lord about practicing homosexuality. To say that if the Lord felt it an “abomination” to eat shellfish in 1400 BC w/o a clear explanation but nowadays in a temple recommend interview you don’t get asked if you frequent Red Lobster, that it’s proof that homosexuality MUST be acceptable today likewise in the eyes of the Lord…that’s an example of faulty analogy.
    Just admit it…either you don’t believe in the existence of God, or at least the LDS view of Him. If you want to argue against either in this forum, fine. This certainly isn’t a “preach to the choir” sort of forum. But if you’re professing to believe both, then to argue against what what the current leadership clearly teachers about homosexuality but still claim to have a testimony of the Gospel…you’d have to be suffering from severe schizophrenia or be such a liar that you couldn’t distinguish truth from error anymore. I wish it weren’t so dire, but what other explanation can there be?
    I like using easy cultural references such as Star Wars that are iconic. I also like “Dr Strangelove”…thanks to a desire to be a good example to my daughter and please the Lord, I have to go further than the fictional Gen. Ripper in “withholding my essence”…it’s implied that at least the psychotic general could still have fun, whereas in real life fun is proscribed for my own spiritual good. Enough banter. Back to the SW analogy. I see gays and those that are like-minded argue clearly to their own spiritual destruction, with the “execution” impeding. I respect their free agency to go to their doom willingly, but it amazes me that they think it “hate” for me to warn them in the free market of ideas. I need a .WAV file for the tune that Lord Cornwallis’ band played when they surrendered to Washington…”the World turned upside down.”

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  17. Nick Literski on January 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    #14:
    Ok. First off, the OP is so full of faulty analogies and non sequitirs that’s it’s unworthy of point-by-point refutation.
    (snippage of lengthy diatribe against gays and lesbians, including non-LDS gays and lesbians, for not obeying Mr. Monson and his minions)
    I’m content to let the issue rest in the free marketplace of ideas and let the Lord set the time and place for judgement, meantime hoping we all escape it.

    Douglas, your comment is the very definition of a non-sequitor. To piously pretend you’re withholding judgement, after a lengthy screed against those you pretend not to judge, is the very height of non-sequitors.

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  18. Mormon Heretic on January 9, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    To say that if the Lord felt it an “abomination” to eat shellfish in 1400 BC w/o a clear explanation but nowadays in a temple recommend interview you don’t get asked if you frequent Red Lobster, that it’s proof that homosexuality MUST be acceptable today likewise in the eyes of the Lord…that’s an example of faulty analogy.

    Please forgive my stupidity, but where exactly is the faulty analogy? Clearly, the prohibition against “unclean foods” was removed via Peter’s revelation in the Book of Acts 10:15, where the Lord tells Peter, “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” So the prohibition against pork, lobster, shrimp, rabbit, etc ended 2000 years ago. Lobster is part of the Law of Moses that was fulfilled in Christ. Paul likewise argued that gentiles did not need circumcision because Christ fulfilled the law of Moses. The Book of Mormon said that Law of Moses didn’t need to continue because Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses. Why exactly should we obey this particular Law of Moses when all these other prohibitions were overturned with Peter? (To be honest, that part of the documentary really resonated with me.)

    As for following the prophet, sometimes the prophet follows the people, and I can give lots of examples. Polygamy ended because of federal persecution of the church. The priesthood ban ended because of complaints both within and outside of the church. Tobacco prohibition came as a result of Emma agitating for change. Greg Prince has said

    Trickle-up revelation is arguably the most important force of revelation shaping the day-to-day church in which we live. If you doubt that statement, consider the Relief Society, Mutual Improvement, Sunday School, Primary, Welfare, Genealogy (Family History), and Young Adult programs all began as grass-roots initiatives on the part of Church members, and were then embraced by the central Church. This means that phrases such as “magnifying one’s calling”, “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness”, and “be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a good work. And out of small things proceedeth forth that which is great”, are not platitudes, but a real call to action. I have been a first-hand witness and participant in the birth of the Young Adult program in Southern California in the mid-1970’s and a first-hand witness of Lester Bush’s landmark on blacks and the priesthood in the mid-1970s. A Church that not only allows, but expects its members to assist in continual transformation by placing their unique gifts at the altar has my vote.

    See my post for the quote.

    President Hinckley has said that women don’t hold the priesthood because “nobody is agitating for change.” Obviously our leaders do listen and evaluate what people think on various topics.

    So, Doug, to be honest, I find myself in the “I need to consider this more before I give an answer” group. I’m willing to consider thoughtful responses (such as Richard Muow above, as well as Desmond Tutu), but what you’ve written so far is not what I would consider thoughtful. Persuade me, don’t attack me or call me an atheist. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I am very much in the camp of Joseph Smith, studying it out in my mind, and asking for God’s will. I found Richard Muow’s response thoughtful, as well as many others in the OP.

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  19. Douglas on January 9, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    Then, MH, just appeal to the Holy Spirit to guide you! I’m ALWAYS willing to “Come, let us reason…”, but if you’re ever wrangling about about the current Prophet says, then you’re wasting your time and mine.
    Look, methinks in lightheartedly discussing that I would make the fictional Gen. Ripper (Dr. Strangelove) delighted by “withholding my essence” (by ‘virtue’, as it were, of keeping the law of chastity), I’m pointing out that sexual frustration is not exclusively the bailywick of LGBT members that want to be part of the fold but have to deal with their desires…we all have them, and can’t, for various reasons, fulfill them on demand. In my case, it’s deliberate foreswearing, not lack of opportunity. But my “angst” is common to millions of LDS singles (or divorced, as is my case) and widows(ers), I’m nothing special in that regard. I can only relate to how a special lady friend deals with her latent lesbianism. She doesn’t WANT to have lesbian relations anymore, but the urges and attractions are still there. That AND she’s not going to just shun the company of lesbian friends, a few whom undoubtedly have been lovers at one time. Nor would I think it a requirement that she did shun her friends. But it is an issue, and attempts to “cure” her as to what she feels inside, IMO, are misguided and wrong. Like Ether wrote, she, I, perhaps yourself, and millions and millions more, have been given ‘weaknesses’ in order to find strengths. Now, is that God screwing with us? I’d hope not. Rather, I think that He allows a certain randomness that’s caused by variances in biochemistry AND myriad cultural and family influences. Nevertheless, He also gives us the means to cope with it, if we ask for it. That’s what I’m imploring you and anyone else if they struggle with this issue to do. Ask your Heavenly Father, if you believe that he is and wants the best for you.

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  20. Henry on January 10, 2013 at 5:11 AM

    Douglas:
    I think if you give up the “lifestyle”, it’s a good idea to avoid people and places that may attempt to draw you back in so a person might have to give up their LGBT friends. If one is truly repentent, they should avoid places like gay bars and pride parades.

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  21. Nick Literski on January 10, 2013 at 8:45 AM

    Henry, surely you’re aware that approximately 300 faithful LDS members marched in the most recent Salt Lake City pride parade, openly supporting their gay and lesbian fellow citizens? The same thing happened in many other cities this past year. Do you think these LDS members need to “repent” for their participation?

    Oh…and before you go to your predictable knee-jerk reaction, perhaps you should know that these individuals marched after negotiating with LDS leaders, who agreed to prevent misguided, overzealous local leaders from relaliating against them.

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  22. Douglas on January 10, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Henry – that’s what held up my lady friend getting a temple recommend. Her Stake President demanded that she cut off all contact with prior partners. She wasn’t going to “Dyke” bars or marching in gay pride parades. She wouldn’t give up contact with her former partner, who is also LDS and, believe it or not, played a significant role in her gaining a testimony. Odd as it seems, they did attend Church together and read the scriptures, and her daughters know her as “Aunty Jane” (name changed to protect the guilty). This woman respects my lady friend’s decision to go “straight”. It took nearly a year before the SP was convinced that it wasn’t necessary for her to disavow her friend in order to have confidence that she’d keep her temple covenants.

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  23. Dara on January 10, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Nick:
    It’s not possible for humans to change truth. Gay sex will do you in if you do not repent while you have the chance. I always counsel a young person struggling with this issue to never go down that road. There are no scriptures that support having gay sex, all of them condemn it as well as the prophets and apostles, ancient and modern. Satan leads people carefully down to hell and not kicking and screaming. He would have way less success. Master deceiver.

    Douglas:
    Just like an alcoholic should stay away from bars and former friends lest he begin the old habits anew, people struggling with this issue in general should not go to gay bars to gay pride parades.

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  24. Nick Literski on January 10, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Thank you, Dara, for sharing your personal, idiosyncratic religious opinion. You’re certainly entitled to believe whatever you feel brings you joy.

    Your peculiar claim that same-sex intercourse will result in my death, of course, is not bourne out by my experience. When I have questions regarding the health effects of my sexual choices, I find it more useful to seek advice from legitimate, competent medical professionals, rather than pseudonym-cloaked blog rants. I’m sure you can understand that.

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  25. Henry on January 10, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Nick:
    The goal of the church is to save souls, not destroy them. Remember that.

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  26. Bin on January 11, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Henry:

    I was unaware that an earthly entity could either save, or destroy, souls.

    I liken this to the whole blacks and the priesthood thing. For decades, even generations, members far and wide would disparage blacks because of their skin color, something they were born with. They were fence sitters in heaven, they were a lower class of individuals, they wouldn’t gain exaltation until well after all the white folk did.

    Then something happened and people did their research and realized the ban was wrong. Horribly, maddeningly wrong.

    Someday I have no doubt people will wake up and realize what they’ve done and all this hand wringing about “saving souls” and feeling as though you need to go against the nature of how you were born will all go away.

    From a sheer volume support… nothing – at all – is mentioned from a scriptural standpoint against homosexuality, at least from our “modern” scriptures (BoM, D&C, PoGP). It simply isn’t discussed, in any context, whatsoever. So, for anyone to say, “There are no scriptures that support having gay sex, all of them condemn it,” is misleading – at best, and potentially dishonest. True, I know of no scriptures that “support” having “gay sex”, but there are simply no LDS scriptures (BoM, D&C, PoGP) that condemn it.

    And yet, it’s become one of our “great” (and I use that term very loosely) calling cards as a modern day church.

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  27. Dara on January 11, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Bin
    It’s not possible to list every single sin in the scriptures. Not enough room. Even King Benjamin said there are diverse ways to commit sin. Leviticus does condemn gay sex. Very clearly. Skin color and sexual activity are 2 different things.

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  28. Nick Literski on January 11, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Henry,
    Assuming that by “the church” you mean the LDS church, I’m sure it’s contributed to both of those ends.

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  29. Bin on January 11, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Dara:

    Leviticus is a part of scripture that was fulfilled when Christ fulfilled the law of Moses. Am I to assume that you forbid anyone and everyone from eating lobster, crab or any other shellfish?

    Leviticus also says that anyone cursing his mother or father should be killed, or that if I have sex with my wife when she’s on her period…then we must both be cast out of society. It also forbids eating pork, of any kind, or wearing clothing made out of two different materials. And – stated specifically as a “lasting law” for generations to come – Leviticus forbids the eating of any fat, whatsoever. Or, how about the stoning of kids who don’t listen? Or how about forcing rape victims to marry their rapists? It’s all in Leviticus.

    Maybe, for you, it’s nice to pick and choose what scriptures we read and/or support to buttress modern day viewpoints… but you’ll notice that Christ fulfilled the law of Moses and, in my response to you, I specifically stated that nothing in modern scripture even touches on the subject of homosexuality or same sex unions or anything remotely similar to that topic.

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  30. Dara on January 11, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Bin:
    It doesn’t mean it isn’t sin. Sexual sin has always been warned of by the apostles and the prophets. When Christ was in the spirit world for 3 days, he could not go in person to those who had defiled themselves while in the flesh.

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  31. Nick Literski on January 11, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Dara, perhaps we can help translate what you’re trying to say. It appears that you’re attempting to convey something like the following:

    “It doesn’t mean that what my particular church considers sin isn’t considered sin by my particular church. What my particular church considers ‘sexual sin’ has always been warned of by those claiming the title of ‘apostle’ and ‘prophet’ in my particular church. In my particular church, we believe that the son of deity was in a spirit world for three days, during which he could not go in person to those who had ‘defiled themselves in the flesh.’ While the leaders of my particular church have never actually defined what ‘defiled themselves in the flesh’ means, it is my personal, idiosyncratic, and entirely speculative opinion that it means gay people.”

    You’re welcome. I’ll be happy to help others understand your communications anytime.

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  32. Bin on January 11, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Dara:

    Always been warned of?? Always implies a very long time in history. Can you point out where Joseph Smith, or Nephi, or BY, or Moroni or John Taylor or any other early church leader warned about the sexual “sin” that is homosexuality?? I trust you have the proof handy since you claim the right to use the word “always”.

    As for the rest, consider this:

    “What many call sin is not sin.” – Joseph Smith, (p. 143 of Teachings).

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  33. Ray on January 11, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Mormon led his people into battle having hope that his faith in them would be accurate.

    I feel that way about this thread, frankly. It’s a very well-considered post that had the potential to generate some really good discussion (even knowing people would disagree with each other), so I read it dutifully – but, deep down, I had no real faith that my experience with the thread would be what I hoped in my heart.

    Bluntly put, the “fault” for that fear being realized isn’t confined to one side of the arugment that left me feeling like I had escaped a war zone. When bullets fly from both directions with no attempt to avoid pulling the trigger, neither side can claim the high moral ground.

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  34. Ray on January 11, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    Mormon had NO faith in the result he wanted. Sorry for the typo.

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