“Homosexuality under the Reign of Christ” – a post from J.R. Daniel Kirk

Homosexuality under the Reign of Christ: Responses and Further Reflections
by J. R. Daniel Kirk

“So I got your book. I’ve only read the chapter on homosexuality, and I’ve got a couple of questions for you.”

This, I think, has been the most common conversation-starter about my work since Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul? was published.

The responses to my work on homosexuality has ranged from a progressive reviewer throwing up his hands at what he calls yet another “love the sinner, hate the sin” traditionalist approach, to a more conservative reviewer asserting that the chapter calls for “welcoming monogamous homosexual couples into the Christian community uncritically.” One might wonder if they read the same book!

For those who have not read the chapter, the argument in brief is this: the Bible speaks with one voice. Across the eras and epochs homosexual intercourse is viewed as not only unnatural but sinful. Presumably, this is where I acquired the “hate the sin” part in the minds of my progressive reviewer.

But the chapter goes on to ask two further questions.

One of these is what it means to love our gay neighbor as oneself. The chapter argues that we advocate for civil equality and protection to secure the same freedoms and benefits for my neighbor who disagrees with me as I would want for myself.

So where did the accusation arise that I commend uncritical embrace of monogamous homosexual couples? This seems to be the author’s interpretation of my question of whether the Bible speaks the last word on same-sex sexual relationships.

There have been times in the history of the church when God decided that what was unequivocally required earlier was no longer needful. Indeed, Paul depicts as enemies of the gospel those who would require gentiles to comply with the eternal, covenantal sign of circumcision. Repeatedly in the New Testament the presence of the Spirit comes in to demonstrate to the church that the old stipulation has been overturned.

I suggested that we should be aware of the possibility that the Spirit might make such a demonstration today. We are dealing with a genuinely new moment in the history of the church: homosexual couples openly in committed relationships and striving to faithfully follow Jesus. The presence of this reality is something to be interpreted with care—neither hastily condemning due to a great confidence that we are on God’s side, nor hastily embracing due to the same.

This issue of sexual mores is one that I continue to find challenging. In the year or so since the book appeared I have been asked to speak to different groups—and, no surprise, they often want me to talk about sex. Here are a few more pieces I have been wrestling with since I finished writing:

•    Most of us need to listen more. Those of us from backgrounds that are not affirming need to listen to the stories of gay friends, especially Christian gay friends. Those from affirming positions need to listen to the stories of homosexuals who have resolved to maintain a life of celibacy in order to faithfully follow Jesus.

•    The point of listening is, in large part, to help us reimagine who “us” refers to. When speaking about sexual sin and failure, all of us are included; when talking about striving to faithfully follow Jesus, all of us are included.

•    We who are heterosexuals in predominately non-affirming social locations need to stop treating homosexuality as though it were the great sexual sin of our day. To my mind, the most pervasive and destructive expressions of sexual sin are misdirected expressions of heterosexual desire, as when men use the power of our dollars or our muscles to force sex on unwilling women.

•    We will become increasingly aware, in the years to come, that the sexual mores of the ancient world were part of a system of assessing value, and of viewing the world more generally, that we no longer hold to. If we believe in the fundamental equality of men and women as made in the image of God, and if we believe in the equality of people across all social ranks, then we disbelieve major pillars on which ancient aversion to homosexual activity leans. There are other reasons for opposing it, such as those I outline in my book, but a growing awareness of the cultural context of the Greco-Roman world will likely create additional challenges for folks wrestling over the inclusion of homosexuals with same-sex partners.

Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul? is not a book about sex, despite the chapters that some readers jump to! It is an overview of a narrative approach to reading the NT, one that puts in place the basic stories embodied and told by Jesus and Paul for the sake of the church. If I have a lingering hope for the book, it is that it will create more conversations about how to faithfully read the Bible so as to learn a narrative about the cosmic, saving work of the God of Israel, in the person of Christ crucified, that we are called to enact in our modern-day communities.

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J. R. Daniel Kirk (PhD, Duke University) is assistant professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary’s Northern California campus in Menlo Park, California. He is the author of Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of God as well as numerous articles.

For more information about Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul? click here.

Comments

  1. Excellent post. Now I really should get your book.

  2. “unequivocally”

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Noah wasn’t circumcised. Naaman wasn’t. The queen of Sheba wasn’t. etc.

    “Positive law” is always equivocal. And you just said there ARE things that the bible says WITH ONE VOICE (uneqivocal, literally) but then say that “with one voice” things can be changhed. Seems inconsistent.

    • Your examples don’t hold, Paul. The argument in the NT is about what it takes to be part of the people of God as that people is living as heirs of the Abraham covenants and promise. People who precede it in time, women who cannot be circumcised, and gentiles who were not brought into the people of God are no evidence against the mandate that every male be circumcised. Those examples are qualitatively different from the reversal of the univocal call that takes place in the NT with regard to circumcision.

      • and the NTs answer is if you thought it was circumcision, you were always wrong; Jesus even implies that Sheba and Naaman should be better regarded than the circumcized. And stones can be jews.

        You’re OT ‘people of God” is too small.

        Like I said, you don’t know what ‘univocal’ means. Especially when you admit rightly the bible is univocal on gay sex, it doesn’t fly to claim there is anything like a ‘univocal’ OT claim about circumcision.

        Were the people of God the peopel of God in the wilderness for 40 years, BTW?

  3. ‘I suggested that we should be aware of the possibility that the Spirit might make such a demonstration today. ‘ Did you really say that? I’m glad I haven’t reached that bit yet. The prohibition on homosexual practice as a cultic boundary marker? Gosh, never thought of it like that.

  4. Here I go doing exactly what you are wanting people not to do! :-) But I have to ask; your last point is awfully cryptic. What makes you say that we will be come increasingly aware of the sexual mores of the ancient world in the coming years? Is there some particular research or trends you’re privy to that you’d mind sharing?

    This is a particular area of interest as I’ve tried to research this on my own and I get such wildly different perspectives depending on who I’m reading that I really don’t know what to make of it. This is really frustrating when this subject is really crucial to what is becoming the defining issue of the modern church.

    • Jeremy, I think that this is the case for several reasons. One is that an increasing number of evangelicals are affirming women’s equality with men. This is cultivating an awareness that gender difference, and gender hierarchy, as understood in the ancient world has contributed to the ways that NT writers envisioned relationships functioning properly. Once people start digging around into ancient gender hierarchies, then they also on the very ground on which sexual mores regarding homosexuality were worked out in the Greco-Roman world–including among some Jews (such as Philo).

      Then there’s the fact that, in general, due to the internet and other factors such as popular books written by academics, evangelicals are increasingly aware of what, in previous generations, was highly specialized knowledge, or knowledge only disseminated in the world cordoned off from evangelicals by our intellectual gatekeepers.

      The Greco-Roman factors are not the only ones in play, as Jews were clearly attempting to articulate a sexual ethic that set them apart from their contemporaries, but I do think the general contours of Greco-Roman sexual mores are fairly clear and being weighed more in popular and pastoral assessments of the issues.

  5. Nan Kuhlman says:

    Although I’m not familiar with your book, this blog post caught my eye. I find it interesting that out of the entirety of your book, readers are focusing on one (minor?) aspect: homosexuality. While I’m not theologically schooled, I am observant about human behavior, and I’ve often found (in myself and others) that we are overly preoccupied with issues that might not directly concern us, perhaps in an effort to divert our attention from our own shortcomings. I don’t believe that the Father, Son, and Spirit intended the issue of homosexuality to be a “defining issue” of today’s church. In fact, I imagine when we all convene in heaven that we’ll find the “pressing issues” we were so preoccupied with really didn’t matter that much at all. The bigger issue, in my mind, is how we reveal the heart of God even to those with whom we disagree.

    • You issue a good word of warning, Nan. Our ruckuses rarely indicate that we are striving more diligently toward demonstrating the self-giving love of God in Christ such that all may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.

    • It seems to me that the right for individuals to make their own choices in life, is the issue of the day. If we believe that God created us as free moral agents, then why is the religious right so concerned about usurping everyone’s right to decide for themselves? I belong to a conservation Christian Church, I’m not an unbeliever. The religious right in the USA scares the willies out of me! They’re off the rails. This is disconcerting for me, to say the least.
      Dr. Beale, I have your book(Revelation). I love it, but disagree with Rome as the anti-Christ emblem. The anti-Christ is within the body of Christ and will arise within the Church and really has been here for some time already.
      I’ve been giving this homosexuality matter some thought recently. It appears to me the Church has things wrong. Your insight into mores of the ancient Church intrigues me. How do we deal with the issue of nature with regards to homosexuality? Can people who are born gay be condemned for doing what seems natural to them? Do we expect God to perform a miracle every time a gay person comes to Christ? and suddenly they no longer have the same sexual preference! Don’t see that happening on a grand scale. I’m unnerved by this situation and am seeking a thoughtful discourse with someone who isn’t frothing at the mouth at the subject, but could cogently reply with something that makes sense. Before I came to Christ I knew many gay people, even growing up my siblings knew many. I found them strange to say the least, when I was young. Then in my twenties I worked with a few. They were like anyone else I dealt with, some good some bad. That’s life. If they aren’t responsible for their sexuality,if it’s more a problem of our sinful nature, then how can the Church deal with them equitably, realistically, rationally? The Church seems to have so many problems and irrational behaviors of its’ own, do we really need to spend so much time dealing with the gay issue? The Church seems plagued to imploding in upon itself, if it doesn’t stop being so bent about minor issues! The beam in the eye is still there! Can we talk? lol

  6. Maybe I’m mistaken, but here’s how I’m understanding what you’re saying: Because the authors of the Old and New Testaments held certain social biases, and those biases are no longer socially acceptable today, then modern Christians are free to disregard what is written. In simpler terms, the Bible is not the last word on social issues.

    Is this what they teach in seminary? Yeesh.

    • Beau Quilter says:

      If the Bible were the last word on social issues, what are all these women doing in seminaries?

    • Hi, Tyson,

      The question of cultural influence and our living in a different culture is thorny. I hear your hesitation about leaving behind biblical commands or precedents simply due to cultural difference.

      But at the same time, I wonder: do you fast? do you forbid women from braiding their hair or wearing fine jewels or clothes [to church]? does your church require head coverings for women? do you greet brothers and sisters in Christ with a kiss? do you demand that women be held in the custody of their fathers until the father consents to release the woman to a husband?

      Cultural context isn’t everything, but it’s a significant factor in determining not only how, but whether, we’ll implement biblical injunctions.

  7. Dopderbeck says:

    Good post Daniel. Two thoughts: One: “speaks with one voice” makes me balk. Yes, it does, in its particular reference to this practice. But OTOH it’s in the Bible that the principle of extending grace and listening to the Spirit is expressed and modeled. So, in that sense, the Bible is less monolithic. Two: what is the norming principle for determining what the Spirit is saying? That is the elephant in the room. The issue of Gentile inclusion required an Apostolic council. In a tragically divided Church, how does that happen today?

    • Well, Daniel has related the way we might need to change the univocal call of the bible against homosexual acts the way Paul had to change the (Daniel claims this was univocal, but it wasn’t) call of the bible for all males everywhere to be circumcised to one that denied this alleged univocal call..

      Paul did this, BTW, by declaring that being for cicumcision was “another gospel” and anathema to all true christianity.

      So I suppose it happens today by people who believe as Daniel does calling opposition in any way to homosexual acts as followers of “another gospel” and anathematizing them.

      • I don’t know what this means, Paul. Couldn’t quite follow.

        • People who say get circumcised in the NT are anathema.

          If you’re right, why not say that people who oppose gay sex (now that the Spirit is telling everyone its ok now) in the church today are anathema.

          It would seem to be a logical inference.

      • I don’t think Paul was against circumcision, as much as he was against using it to require believers to keep all the commandments of God, in order to be saved. I believe the Church is obligated to keep all 10 today, including the 7th day, but it won’t save me. The Judaizers felt it was required as a covenant sign or seal and necessary for salvation. Baptism superseded circumcision and is now the sign or seal of our covenant with God today. It has a two-fold effect, It distanced the Christians from Judaism and focused people to the Cross as the only means of salvation, which was really the original intention of OT sacrifices anyways

    • David, I’m not sure how your OTOH stands against the point I made in the post and/or the book?

      As for making the judgment about the work of the Spirit, you’re right that we don’t have a council to decide that everyone would listen to. On the other hand, both Peter and Paul made their judgments before the councils ratified their experience. What sort of experience of the Spirit would count as divine affirmation? Do we need to see speaking in tongues and works of power? Or might love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control suffice?

  8. Astute — and pastoral — thoughts, Daniel — thank you.

    I’ve wondered if committed, monogamous same-sex relationships might be likened to polygamy in the ANE (just hear me out here)? Less-than-ideal, one could even come down in a black-and-white way and say it’s “just sinful.” And yet, God was willing and able (I’d assume in a concessionary, meeting-people-where-they-are kind of way) to not only allow but actually work within, and sometimes even seemingly further (cf. 2 Sam. 5:13 and 2 Sam. 12:8) the practice as “the best that could be expected given the context” (?) at that time? . . .

    What do you think?

    • I’ve only wrestled with that analogy a little bit, Todd. I think it has some potential for helping us think through how to love the homosexual couples and/or persons who cross our path and/or join our communities. I’d need to think a bit more about how far it could or couldn’t get us in framing a theological position as such.

  9. FWIW Paul disregarded the ruling of the Jerusalem Council. They retained the prohibition on sacrificial meat; he canned it and only kept the prohibition on porneia. So he was the first Protestant flipping the bird at the whole idea of a magisterium that was any greater than his own individual discernment; God was his only judge (1 Cor 4:4). If we canonize Paul’s discernment process and not just his words, then it becomes a different conversation.

    The thing that is so aggravating about conversation around this issue is it becomes so obvious that suburban Christians have a ferocious need for their sexual normalcy to be virtuous instead of just a default. I really think Foucault was onto something in the History of Sexuality about how sexual purity is the self-justification of the bourgeoisie (we aren’t poor because we didn’t get knocked up). I’m reading all over these women ex-evangelical blogs about the idolatry of virginity they experienced. The obsessiveness that so many women experienced in so many different places is very interesting.

    The investment in the self-justification that I see exemplified in suburbianity impacts my discernment of whether Roman 1’s “against nature” means “Thou shalt not” and whether arsenokotai and malakoi mean monogamous homosexual male and are not inherently connected to temple prostitution. There is too great a need among white middle-upper-class suburbanites for homosexuality to be wrong independent of genuine spiritual discernment. If it could be established that a manuscript scribe were this zealous about a particular issue, that would be reason enough to reject that particular variant. If we step back and consider our hermeneutical process in general, doing scholarship with this kind of zeal in the background about anything would definitely be reason to mistrust the results of our research.

    It’s interesting how Paul talks about spiritual discernment in the Corinthian community: “For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it. Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine” (1 Cor 11:18-19). To Paul, what needs to be made clear is not who is technically in conformity with the letter of the law, but who is genuine, or dokimoi (approved/pleasing), which I interpret to mean the presence of the Galatians 5:22-23 fruit.

    It would be interesting if we could somehow view the character qualities of 5 gay Christians and 5 of their most zealous opponents side by side without knowing which was which to see who indeed exudes a spirit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

    • Wouldn’t that being an interesting debate or meeting! I’ve seen fire in some peoples’ eyes, (and I mean in the Church), when discussing the nature of Christ and it would burn a hole thru concrete! I wonder what would happen there? Wow.

  10. Tom Bailey says:

    I have read all of the above comments and each one has thoughts and points well worth considering; each theological sound with a bit of love attempting to understand this particular issue with compassion. And I don’t have anything to add to those thoughts, but would like to say….I am a living, breathing and practicing homosexual 67 years of age.
    I was born in the Bible belt and my family attended a conservative Southern Baptist Church. As soon as my senses became aware of the difference between boys and girls, I knew something was different. Because my feelings were different from what was being said from the pulpit….guilt became my guiding muse. My first memory of church is leaving the front door wondering what it would feel like to burn in Hell forever. That is no way for a little boy of seven or eight to leave church! By my 30th birthday my options were, accept my life as a gay man, have a complete mental breakdown or open a vein. I was tired of praying to die, tired of praying John 14:14 and tired of listening to people tell me how sinful my life was.
    Because of my wonderful family the best decision was to accept my life and stop asking “Why.” In passing years when someone ask how I could be gay and claim to be a Christian my standard reply has been, “Didn’t Jesus say something about ‘ whosoever?’ Debating has its place, but the Gospel ain’t that difficult!!!
    I feel quite certain that my first memory of church is shared by thousands of others who don’t understand the ‘why’ question. The real purpose of the pulpit is to tell of the love of God and the acceptance of all people into the kingdom.

    Love to all, Tom

  11. I think it’s becoming more and more difficult to make a case against homosexuality from within a Protestant framework. Here’s why:

    (1) Natural Law is denied, particularly in light of Total Depravity.

    (2) There is no magisterium, so no pastoral body can rule definitively on moral issues.

    (3) The Biblical testimony against homosexuality can be argued around or at least heavily attenuated given:
    (a) a breakdown in sexual morality in general regarding divorce, contraception, and unnatural acts within marriage,
    (b) an ignoring or regarding as obsolete certain NT teachings on, e.g., slavery, male only clergy, no wearing of veils, male headship,
    (c) pointing to situations which have been overturned, e.g., circumcision, dietary laws,
    (d) no method of distinguishing essential from non-essential doctrines

    (4) A go-it alone denominational mentality of joining whatever “church” fits your tastes, which in turn leads to theological indifferentism

    (5) A no-sin-can-separate us mentality in which no sin is grave enough to cause you to lose salvation.

    I’d say a Protestant who affirms at least 3 of these, and all pretty do, then there really is no case “against” homosexuality.

    • Tom Bailey says:

      Well spoken Nick, may I join your fellowship?

      • Tom,
        I don’t affirm any of those 5-points because I’m Catholic
        +;-)

        • Tom Bailey says:

          Well Nick, my last offical fellowship was the Catholic church and I remember my last Mass. It was one Sunday after saying— just before communion, “Lord, I’m not worthy to receive you…..” If I am not worthy, then Jesus went through a lot of trouble for nothing. I was born gay, just as your were born straight. Neither of us had a choice in our orientation. It just is.

          Many gays don’t have the support of family that I did and if their lives are not ended by suicide, then drugs and other addictions (and guilt can be an addiction) rule their day-to-day existence.

          Jesus came that we may have life, and his life is ruled by love. I pray the St. Francis prayer every morning.

          Namaste

          • she always knew. Somehow mtoehrs of homosexual men usually do and are far better about it than fathers.Nobody knows exactly what causes some of us to be homosexual or bisexual but I’m sure it’s a combination of things. All I do know is that people who say homosexuality is a choice have not a clue what they’re talking about.References :

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    • Sorry, but no to eternal security. Cherished sin negates that. I can walk away any time I choose. God didn’ t handcuff me. But I do agree with your overall assessment of things. No ruling council makes matters hard to control. I like that though. The Pope doesn’t control or speak for me, sorry no disrespect intended. I’m a bit of a loose canon in my Church anyways. Spiritual yes, but hung up on molehill issues- nahh.

  12. Daniel, you make a case for there (possibly) being an analogous situation today with homosexuality to that of the changes from the Old Covenant to the New. But the later changes in God’s dealings with his people came as the result of the appearance of the Messiah, the Resurrection, the impartation of the Spirit, and the dawning of the eschaton. I am utterly sympathetic with how carefully we should consider the place of homosexual believers in our congregations in light of the changes in our culture, but I don’t see this as in any way parallel to what the apostles had to reconsider after the revelation of Christ.

  13. I think that when we remove all cultural arguments (because they aren’t really needed,) and take the overview of scripture rather than verse by verse alone (where is the trajectory of scripture taking us,) when we take the issue back to two genders united reflecting something vital about God – the answer comes down to still not being able to go where you are going with this post. The trajectory of scripture takes us to equality, to breaking down heirarchies, but it never takes us to the place where God lifts his portrayal of man and woman together (but only as they are supposed to be, in the best sense) as accurately reflecting the fruitful, creative, life-giving nature of God. Anything that is an inaccurate reflection of God would be considered an abomination (in ancient syntax.)

    I have much compassion, I care for all people, I applaud many of the ways Christians are beginning to move forward from old ways of thinking. And yet….I can’t go with you on this one.

  14. I very much like your narrative approach to Paul and think that it holds wonderful possibilities for homiletics in a narrative era. As for the homosexuality chapter, I detect the inclinations of your mentor in his Moral Vision of the NT. I too think that the Bible speaks with pretty much of a single voice on this issue. Church history gives little warrant for entertaining alternative views on the matter too, whether you embrace the concept of magisterium or a looser notion of the Spirit leading the church into truth. If the Spirit is doing something new today–and it is possible–it would be in apparent contrast to scripture and to the historical stream of Christian teaching on the matter. This strikes me as a difficult position to defend, and one to be entertained only with great caution. Pastorally I wish that I could see a way to be more lenient or open.

    • Tom Bailey says:

      This a reply to John’s comments . John, you have written thoughts and statements that reveal your beliefs, moral standards and I respect that. Your comments, like the others appear to be theologically sound and written from a scholarly perspective. If you will allow me to be an observer. If one were to simply ‘stand back’ and review the comments from everyone it reminds me of people sitting around a large conference table discussing some ethereal concept that will never have a constructive conclusion.

      However, what we are discussing is…real people who have real lives and I am one of them. In 1945 when I was born there were no gay roll models, no TV, no movies. I was never molested, never experimented with drugs or drink, no exposure to porn. It took me 30 years to accept that I was just born this way. With tears running down my face and my fingers over the words I prayed John 14:14 a million times. And please believe me…in the history of praying there was never a more sincere prayer.

      John, your statement, “Pastorally I wish that I could see a way to be more lenient or open.” John, there is a way to see and it begins with compassion and a willingness to attempt understanding someone who is different without condemnation.

      Without appearing to be ‘standing on the street corner in sackcloth and ashes’ in the 80’s I coordinated a small ministry directed to women and men who were trying to live with AIDS. These were people who had been disowned by their family, society and yes, their church. For 17 years we fed, clothed, bathed, went to funerals, paid for funerals, cried and prayed with those lonely people. I have seen first-hand what ‘Christianity,’ did to those who were different.

      I live on the east coast and five years ago a junior high school female told her parents she was gay. Her father told her he would rather she die that be queer. Three days later her mother found her hanging from a rafter in their garage with a note pinned to her blouse that read, “Well daddy, I hope you are happy now.” Will someone tell me where the love of Christ was in that situation.

      My apology for writing so much, but as you can see this is dear to my heart and there are so many other stories I could write about. Real people, real lives. Not a concept to be debated. There is a place for Theologians and scholars, but also a place for people who touch other with the love of Jesus. Sometimes that touch is just listening and reminding the person of John 3:16.
      My personal email is tombailey737@gmail.com if someone would like to respond personally.
      I wish you enough, Tom

  15. Not aware of any homosexuals practicing celibacy. My understanding is that active homosexuals want to be considered Christians and want their behavior considered normal.

    • Tom Bailey says:

      I haven’t visited this blog in several weeks, but would like to reply to the reply by Danallison. Question please, if you will read my last comment regarding the father who told his daughter he would rather she die than be gay, a situation she had no control over, is that normal behavior? Is it Christian behavior? Remember John 3:16 reads “whosoever will.” and in my bible it is red letters.

      • How can a father hate his own flesh and blood so easily? Is this man in touch with God? I’m grieved and perplexed and angered by this man. If one of my three sons were gay, I couldn’t stop loving or do it any differently. I’m not totally surprised by the response though. It seems to me that many people, who become Christians, check their brains at the door. I refuse. If I loose the ability to think critically, even outside the box, I feel I might as well die. I’m not suggesting to be in favor of accepting homosexuality into the Church, I’m just at odds as to what to do with people, who through not fault of their own, are excluded from the gates of heaven. If we baptize them and they go into the water gay, do they come out straight? If so, then git r dun! God, help us understand what to do! Please!

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    • Can’t be any worse than some of the stuff I see going on in most Churches is the Western world anyways. Church ain’t for the faint of heart. It will cut you to the quick very quickly if you let it. Having gay people might make us better, more tolerant and compassionate. Maybe even more thankful. God help us all!

  16. What I value most about that chapter is that you’ve done three things extremely well: 1) you’ve remained consistent with the methodology you propose in the introduction and which you carry through all the other chapters; 2) you make yourself vulnerable as you reveal much about your own personal journey of critical self-examination and listening; and 3) tou call us all (yourself included) to be honest and clear about our LIVED biblical theology, transcending the tradition of forcing a choice between one of two interpretive paths – the literal plain sense of the words or a highly contextualized, metaphorical reading. Thank you.

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