Ordinarily, I don't use names in posts such as this. However, I am positive Andrew Cornelius isn't the least bit worried about being identified. He's a very open thinker. He readily engages others on myriad subjects. He's not hiding his beliefs. (This is not to say that there aren't others who also fit that description where I've answer them via posts.)
I would append this whole post to the comment thread on Facebook but it's so long for that format and it will be more visible here. Actually I have no idea how long it will be before Facebook starts archiving old threads, etc. Can they afford the memory to keep all Facebook content forever available simply by clicking an old link in an email notification?
Here's the thread. My latest comment comes after the nested block quotes.
Tom Usher -
The post-title should be self-explanatory. In the post, I put forward an argument never made before by anyone. As they say in journalism, you heard it here first.
Some of the text deals with matters that may be out of reach for those not very well-versed in the Bible; however, it's worth reading including by those who think twisting a word here or there in the New Testament and especially concerning Paul is going to get them by.
It was something I dashed off to aid a friend who is in a debate on the matter of Paul and homosexuality. That debate has boiled down to the same points being repeated around by pro-homosexuals in their attempt to suggest that Jesus did not (or at least possibly did not) consider homosexuality a sin. Their position is utterly ridiculous, as ought to be perfectly clear from a quick reading of my short post.
WHERE WAS THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIAN COUNCIL ON THE ISSUE OF HOMOSEXUALITY? – REAL LIBERAL CHRISTIA
Paul was very specific in his language. He was well aware of legalese. He knew the Old Testament very well. He was thoroughly trained by the Pharisee, Gamaliel,...
February 9 at 11:36am · Comment · Like · Share
So if people like me and Chris Hedges are "pro-homosexuals," does that make you anti-homosexuals?
We don't know the historical Jesus' opinion on this for sure but it is, granted, likely he would not have condoned homosexual relations (the present post-Easter Jesus is another matter). That isn't surprising given his cultural context. The same thing goes for Paul, another fallible human being. What matters now (for us) is what God wills in the here and now. Such a voice has led me (and many others) down a different road than that which you promote.
When Peter was shown a vision multiple times to eat that which God had previously declared unclean and sinful, a precedent, at the very least, was established demonstrating we serve a living, unpredictable God, not a masculine being in the sky who gave us a book devoid of temporal, culture-specific ethical codes and regulations.
February 9 at 7:47pm ·
Tom Usher -
I am anti-homosexuality and anti (against) homosexuals making false statements such as that homosexuality isn't a choice (it is always a choice barring the most extremely invasive and abusive conditioning by madmen), that it is not harmful (it is on many levels, most of which has been clearly "documented"), and that Jesus condoned it (which you too appear to dispute here).
You said, "We don't know the historical Jesus' opinion on this for sure." I couldn't disagree more and for the reasons I've stated in my post. I don't see how you can disagree on that point. Of course, there are those who don't believe Jesus existed, but you aren't making that claim.
Now what you did do is say, "Paul, another fallible human being," in the same or nearly the same breath as when you were speaking of Jesus. I thought you were a Christian. Jesus fallible? How so?
What road do you see me promoting? I promote the truth. I do not coerce. I'm not advocating for mundane laws and punishments.
Regardless, what is being alleged about homosexuality is untrue. It is not a healthy alternative lifestyle. It is caving into confusion where the very acts themselves promote further degradation and societal decay. Selfish gratification is rampant. The exception is absent in homosexual activities and mind-sets.
If you don't believe Jesus to be your infallible guide to God, then you may not subscribe to his saying, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit." (Matthew 12:33 KJVR)
You actually think Jesus's truths were only for a certain time and place? Andrew, you and I are definitely not through the same strait gate and on the same narrow way. If you maintain you present course, we won't be together in Jesus' God's Heaven. If you don't want to be there, well, that's your free will to be elsewhere. I don't see how you can call yourself a Christian though.
When I was an adult and wasn't a Christian, I knew I hadn't yet accepted Jesus's teachings. Why are you doing something else, or have I been mistaken that you've claimed Christianity?
As for Chris Hedges, I absolutely do not agree with him about homosexuality and Christianity. That doesn't mean I disagree with him on every issue. I agree with plenty that he says and writes. You and I have agreed on a number of things, have we not?
The end of the narrow way though is Christ-mindedness. At that point, how can there be disagreement?
February 10 at 3:22am ·
Please also explain specifically what you have in mind when you say, "the present post-Easter Jesus."
February 10 at 3:37am ·
I'll try to respond to all your questions when I have adequate time. As for Jesus, I am a Christian but I am unitarian. I thus believe Jesus was a human being and reject the virgin birth (its alleged historicity, that is). The distinction regarding "post-Easter" Jesus is made in the same vein as Marcus Borg's general understanding. And concerning human sexuality, no, I do not believe all persons choose their orientation. Those ex-gay ministries hardly "change" anyone. The stats are blatant and overwhelming. Like the late Kinsey, I do not believe all perons fall within two distinct camps— men and women. I believe things are far more complicated, and the latest science lends credence to this. Those who change from gay to straight are most likely either bisexual, pretending to be attracted to women for various social and theological reasons (gay men have married women throughout history and many have become Catholic priests), or pretty close to*only* heterosexual on the "scale" Kinsey spoke of as he researched and studied the issue.
February 14 at 1:35pm ·
What I mean by drawing a distinction between the present/living post-Easter Jesus and the historical Jesus is that the latter is only partially accessible to us. What exactly Jesus said and did aren't clear (unless one subscribes to the inerrancy of canonical scriptures). As a result, we're dealing with probabilities and so forth. We can't, in my opinion, act as if we know precisely what Jesus did, let alone what he would do within a different cultural context (such as our own).
I believe in a risen lord, a Jesus who was raised from the dead by God. He speaks to us today. Yet, just like Christians debate over what the historical Jesus said and how to best interpret his words and actions, this present witness is also somewhat ambiguous and subjective. Not all Quakers in a meeting, for example, will agree on everything. Accordingly, I believe it's possible for people to sincerely pursue God and nonetheless hold different perspectives. I'm not claiming objective truth doesn't exist. Rather, knowing with certainty that one has it is wrought with difficulties. Convictions and feeling as if there is no doubt in one's mind doesn't necessarily equate to grasping Truth/objective reality.
I used to hold a similar position to yours, Tom, but I came to believe the God and Jesus who address me in the here and now were asking for a change of heart and of mind. I could be wrong; it is possible. But regardless we're dealing with people, not just an impersonal issue. Some have committed suicide and lived lies because they could not accept who they were and that God might love them and even desire they find intimacy in this life that doesn't fit the norm.
February 14 at 4:00pm ·
Tom Usher -
Hey Andrew, I did read your reply comments. I'm just swamped with projects to pay the bills. When I come up for air and am not too tired to do the topic justice (too blurry right now), I'll reply. Thanks.
February 16 at 3:45pm ·
Now here's my most recent reply:
I've had it in mind to come back to this for some time. I've been allowing it to work through.
First, it's interesting that you say that you used to think the way I do, since I used to think as you do now. I'm not sure if you used to think as I do now. I think probably that you did not, not because you don't believe what you're saying but because you haven't got it right as to what I think. Hence, I'll attempt to flesh it out without becoming too long-winded.
Let me say that I understand you take care not to rule out that which you do not understand. I have no problem with that approach. I sincerely believe that you want to do what is fair, right, just, good, and all the rest that is consistent with it. I don't believe you set out to run from anything. I like that about you, and I'm not saying it to butter you up. I'm just being as plain, clear, open, honest, and direct about it as I can.
Let's get right to it. My view is that while different people are truly born different and raised differently and are subjected to all sorts of different environments, temptations, etc., and while it is not proper not to take all of that into consideration, there is such a thing as the perfection at which Jesus aims us. That perfection is an end. It is objective. I seek it. I believe you do also.
You appear much more inclined though to believe that the canon has been adulterated or something to that effect, since I don't mean to be putting words in your mouth — changed or inaccurate or whatever. I do not subscribe to the King James Only mentality mind you. I just sense that the difference between what Jesus actually said and meant and what is recorded in the texts going back as far as we can is not very different at all. I don't doubt for a moment that we can get the feeling within that Jesus wants us to have within if we will do as he asked as written.
Are there those who are about the business of rewriting with an agenda other than Jesus's in mind? I say there are. The more people there are and the more time that goes by and with the doubters multiplying exponentially as of late, of course the blatant Satanists will get around to issuing their own "version."
Getting back to "perfection" though, homosexuality is not perfect. I assume you'll agree. Even the unperfected flesh is just that, less than the perfect who is God the Holy Spirit. The resurrected Christ is flesh perfected. That is my belief. He was being made strait, as he said. I take him at his word. I trust him. This raises the emendation, etc., issue again a bit.
The reason I trust the scriptures is not because I'm a fundamentalist/literalist but because I have found nowhere else the mind that calls higher. I find zero credibility in the contention that the scripture was conjured up by elitists bent upon the rest of us being sheeple, to use the ridiculous term of the libertarians. Jesus wasn't crucified for being a sheeple-maker, quite the contrary, as I'm sure you will agree. What Jesus calls us to do is turn the existing world upside down and then level it, far from what the elitists and those of a sinful mind want.
Back to perfection again, if we accept and affirm homosexuality as not being a choice but rather as some immutable, God-given, whatever, then what are we saying about changing any behavior where all behavior is first allowed of DNA unless one is purely spirit and without DNA. I hope you follow that point.
If on the other hand we say to those who are engaging in homosexual behavior that they can and should stop forever, are we speaking against God? I don't see how.
You mentioned suicide, as if to say that no one should speak truth for fear of someone else becoming so depressed by it that he or she ends his or her own life. People have committed suicide over all sorts of issues. Some have done so out of being depressed at being persecuted through no initial failing on their part. Others have committed suicide upon the realization at how utterly wicked they've been. Are we to believe it that Judas took his own life in just such a moment? I believe so. Does that mean that no one should ever had said anything to Judas that would come back to haunt him for his failure to live up to the higher standard?
Is homosexuality harmful and selfish, or should it be affirmed as wholesome and promoted?
I say that it is always harmful and selfish and never wholesome and should never be sanctified. The harm ranges depending upon a number of factors of course. The arguments raised by the homosexuals concerning heterosexuality don't work in the end. A bad heterosexual relationship is not proof that all heterosexual relationships are harmful. There is not one example of a truly unlimited homosexual (sodomizing) relationship that is not though harmful. Harm is done the first time and always. As for the mystery of natural procreation, Jesus said they don't marry in Heaven. Are we to take it from that, that natural procreation is less than the perfection of God? God incarnate would suggest otherwise. I'm not a Gnostic who believes that all flesh is inherently evil and the product of the Demiurge. The spirit of the man and woman, husband and wife, is what matters. Faithfulness is loved by God. God wants us faithful to God. It's consistent. Homosexuality though is how far removed from natural procreative sex? It couldn't be further removed, could it?
More to the point though is the spirit that argues for homosexuality not just as you are doing out of a sense of compassion (if that's your starting place) but as I said, wholesomeness. Wholesomeness is oneness. It is via being one in spirit with God the spirit that we are healed and made whole, as it were. Homosex is a fracturing of that. It is caving into selfish, confused satisfaction. It is mixed in with other emotions, hence homosexuals with some "plausible deniability" and self-deception, claim "love" in the sense Jesus means the term and heterosexuals mean it in exclusive, monogamous, lifelong relationships. This selfishness unleashed leads down the same path as the other forms of selfishness such as violence and greed. Each form opens the door to the other forms — confusion and fracturing of the individual soul and the one soul of humanity.
Are there genetic predispositions for violence or greed? Of course there are. Everything is connected to some degree even though there is the final separation of the iniquitous from the righteous. It's a paradox but true and reconcilable.
Love as Jesus uses the term is putting the welfare of others and the whole before the self apart from God. Homosexual "love," per se, is not that love. Elements of that love can be there mixed with it, but homosexuality itself is a pulling apart of that Christ-like love. It works at odds with it, hence the confusion and depression, etc., way beyond any feelings of not being accepted by the general public. It's my understanding that in the most "accepting and affirming" nations, the rate of homosexual depression and low self-esteem, etc., is still high. However, if the whole of society would rise to non-violent and to the giving-and-sharing-all and sexually harmless level, how would there be such depression? The only way to get to no depression is through consistency that is the absence of hypocrisy. It's part of why Jesus was and is so down on hypocrisy.
So, if the homosexual truly "loves" someone, how can he penetrate that ones anus and take his "pleasure" at humping to ejaculation? I see no love of Christ in it at all, quite the contrary. I see harm that is actually hate. I see a punishment and defilement. That's why I see it as a sinful thing. It also results in obvious physical symptoms that can only be classified as disease. ("Homosexuals: What they ignore.")
Now, you said you're a Unitarian and hence believe Jesus was a human not born of a miracle (that is without human sexual intercourse). I've studied the issue in the Greek and Hebrew and know the arguments. You do believe though in the resurrection, which is no less miraculous. There are those who've suggested that Jesus was drugged so he could only appear dead. It's the explanation of those who don't believe in miracles, period, but who want to deal with those who won't accept that the Gospels are simply a novel - a work of pure fiction.
As for Marcus Borg, he over "intellectualizes." That may offend you. Such over intellectualizing is common in the Episcopal and Unitarian churches. I put that in quotes, contrary to the dictates of Strunk and White, to make the point that I don't hold his view to be more intelligent but actually less so. This brings me back to the beginning where I said I used to think as you do. I was an Episcopalian and considered joining the Unitarians. Science was telling me all sorts of things. It was before my conversion to Christianity, strange as that may sound to you. How could I have been an Episcopalian but not a Christian? It was all too easy. That's the problem.
Biblical literalists are raised, not born. The literal bent of mind is not difficult to comprehend since so-called "science" as used commonly is literal in the same sense. It wasn't until I realized that, that science is a closed loop precluding spiritual miracles that I started awakening to real Christianity. I was then able to read both figuratively and literally at the same time for the first time. The human being, Jesus, who died in the flesh and was resurrected in the flesh and ascended did perform the miracles stated and through God as Jesus related. Is it a matter of faith on my part to believe that? Absolutely it is, even as I know it to be true.
Why can't I prove God to scientists? Why couldn't Jesus heal in certain towns? It's the same thing. Did Jesus literally feed the five thousand via the miraculously multiplied bread? Yes he did. The point is that God is not locked into the material universe. God's universe is a set that encompasses (given the proper connotations are applied) but is not confined to.
You mentioned one of the oft-cited reasons given as an argument that homosexuality is not a choice that being that "ex-gay ministries hardly "change" anyone. The stats are blatant and overwhelming." The exception though is the rule in this case. One soul changed is enough. That Jesus entered Heaven is enough to say that it is a choice. It may be paradoxical considering that he also said that it is only given to those who can accept it, but it is still true and, as I said, reconcilable. It's not irrational or anti-reason at all. It's just something some minds, such as the famous atheists, Dawkins and Hitchens, et al, can't grasp (aren't given to comprehend even though it's still their free-will choice).
Of course you are right that human beings come in shades of grey concerning sexuality and the flesh. For the Christian though, it's not supposed to be about what you've become that's selfish and harmful and so therefore to be accepted and affirmed so as to not bruise the self-esteem of that which is not to be esteemed. It is rather what one is becoming as in one with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as one (unified, as in Unitarian in letter and spirit).
You brought up Alfred Kinsey. Have you seen the video "Secret History: Kinsey's Paedophiles"?
. If that one doesn't work, try this:
Why is that important? You wrote, "Like the late Kinsey, I do not believe all per[s]ons fall within two distinct camps— men and women. I believe things are far more complicated, and the latest science lends credence to this." Are you aware that a large number of homosexuals advocate for bestiality and pedophilia and other forms of sexual activity? Those are more extreme forms of sexual activity than say polygamy, but the truth of the slippery slope is right there. Barack Obama even celebrated a homosexual activist who said that there is nothing wrong with bestiality if the animal likes it. That's pure hedonism. Obama professes to be Christian. I can't reconcile his actions. Can you?
I've seen from your comments around Facebook and shown above that you are fond of the concept that things are "more complicated" than whatever position it is that you're suggesting is too simplistic. Don't you believe in a truth that you know when you hear it? Is homosexuality natural and fine, or is it contrived and harmful? Is there some level of homosexuality that is natural and fine and harmless? I don't see it. I don't believe it. I know it isn't true. To me, it is self-evident that homosexuality is wrong and should not be held out as otherwise under any circumstances.
I have to tell you that I've also pondered this "post-Easter Jesus" concept and don't buy it at all. I don't buy that harm is cultural. Harm is harm regardless of the time or place.
As for not knowing Jesus's position vis-a-vis homosexuality, I have no doubt that he condemned it for the reasons I've cited. He was not one for opening the floodgates but rather for closing them. He did not condone adultery when he precluded sinners stoning each other. It was still a sin. Why was it a sin? It wasn't a sin just because Moses' law forbade it. There is something in it that is intrinsically wrong - something that will keep one who is engaging in it and who is unrepentant from rising to be with God. The same stands for homosexuality and the other things. What Jesus changed was in not exercising human wrath and vengeance and coercion. Those things were left. It raises more paradoxes that are no less true and reconcilable if one is given to comprehend.
I've studied the arguments about male temple-prostitution and such. I find the arguments twisted. For one, the whole temple is to become understood to be the whole of existence (real, not false; alive, not dead of the truth). It's why Jesus said we would not be worshipping parochially at the Temple Mount. Whatever wasn't allowed in the one temple isn't to be "allowed" (condoned) anywhere. In fact, evil kills itself off, where death or being dead is understood within the semantical sense employed by Jesus in his various parables, analogies, figurative stories representing the actual and literal to come.
When you say, "...not a masculine being in the sky who gave us a book devoid of temporal, culture-specific ethical codes and regulations," I think you're inadvertently claiming that better than the commandments of Jesus are forthcoming. Perhaps it's not inadvertent but you mean to say it. I don't know if anyone has ever put it to you, but tell me one better law anywhere from any time than the specifically recorded, canonical laws handed to us from Jesus. If you can do it, you'll be my Messiah. I'll tell you now though that you won't ever be able to do it, and that's my point. You don't exceed the Master of masters.
I believe you were not addressing me specifically with the "masculine being in the sky" vision so much as directing it at those you consider the furthest from Unitarianism within Christianity, such as the evangelical Pentecostals. Let me say that God is masculine but also feminine without being a hermaphrodite. God is spirit, as Jesus said. If you don't believe that, how can you call yourself Christian? As for the sky, God is in the sky. God is in the mundane sky just as much as God wants to manifest God in that sky. Saying that does not box me in such that God can't raise children to Abraham from rocks. That doesn't make me a pantheist either, as I am not a pantheist. God's spirit and God's creation are separable. Before the creation was God. It's not a chicken or egg situation, unless you're a materialist in the Marxist sense (anti-spirit).
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