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Robert Gagnon's Answers to Emails on the Bible and Homosexuality

 

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Index

I get a lot of email correspondence. I can only provide a small sample here. Here is a list of the email subjects with dates. For text, scroll down below. They are in order of date, most recent first.

        For email correspondence regarding my CNN Belief Blog article rebutting Prof. Jennifer Wright go here.

11/4/11: Does the longevity of some homosexual unions validate the whole?

9/29/11: The Fossil Canard

9/8/11: The "God made me this way" argument and Peter's vision in Acts

9/2/11: Resources to counter Jack Rogers' book

8/31/11: Are homosexual advocates in the church as "committed to Scripture"?

8/19/11: Who is causing the weak to stumble?

6/16/11: What resource(s) would I recommend

12/14/10: On Marin and ministry to homosexually active persons

6/18/10: From parents with a homosexual son

3/31/10: On Biology, Analogies, Jesus, and Love

12/11/09: Debate with a self-affirming "secular humanist"

12/3/09: A note of thanks

11/18/09: Questions from a student regarding the issue's importance and the authority of Scripture

11/6/09: A Response to my "Back to the Oppressive Future" article

11/5-6/09: Questions about the inconsistency of opposing "gay marriage" while supporting homosexual "domestic partnership" and "sexual orientation" laws

10/28/09: Problems with Andrew Marin's Love Is an Orientation

8/4/09: To a self-identified Christian who thinks that I am being hypocritical if I do not equally strongly oppose "hate crime" protections for religion

7/8/09: To a self-identified "gay Christian" who is unhappy with my work

4/1/09: To someone who uses my work to explain why we shouldn't listen to Scripture

2/24/09: On Stacy Johnson and John Stott

2/4/09: Responding to Spong's arguments

1/25/09: Did Jesus violate Gen 1:27 and 2:24?

1/23/09: Question about conducting remarriages

1/23/09: Correspondence with an evangelical scholar at an evangelical seminary about Obama's homosexualist political agenda

1/20/09: Lost on my website?

1/13/09: Response to an evangelical leader supportive of "gay rights" on the Crystal Dixon case

1/08/09: On Sin, salvation, and human merit

1/2/09: Response to a critic about the focus of my work

12/13/08: Material on women's ordination and homosexuality

12/9/08: Should the government support homosexual unions?

5/9/08: Response to a skeptical evangelical leader who wants to know whom I have "'delivered' from homosexual orientations"

4/18/08: What about no reproduction in heaven and the existence of "complementary" homosexual unions?

4/16/08: A question from a seminary student about the exploitation argument

2/12/08: A disgruntled supporter of "inclusivity" who wants me removed from PTS

9/5/07: A testimony from a pastor who has dealt with bisexual urges

9/5/07: Is heterosexual cohabitation grounds for denying church membership?

6/15/07: Did Jesus Change the Law's Stance on Capital Sentencing?

5/8/07: Hate Mail from an Angry Left-of-Center Pastor with a "Wonderful" Pastoral Manner

4/26/07: A question about eternal security and sexual immorality

4/25/07: Do you think I would still go to heaven when I die if I am in a lesbian relationship?

4/8/07: Jack Rogers and Analogies

3/31/07: A person with homosexual desire asks: How does one decide which commands of God in Scripture to follow?

3/10/07: Where have I spoken about why women's ordination is a bad analogy for accepting homosexual practice?

3/10/07: Email from a father whose teenage son has "come out," on my "Two Views" book

2/2/07: Why Meeting Nice "Gay" and Lesbian Persons Should Not Lead to Approval of Homosexual Practice

1/18/07: Jesus, eunuchs, and the allegation of a 'gay Jesus'

10/17/03 (revisited 12/26/06): A heartfelt email from a woman with same-sex attractions

12/20/06: Where do I stand on registered homosexual partnerships?

12/04/06: Do I operate with a notion of mind/body dualism or "physicalism"?

12/04/06: How did I get so involved in the topic of homosexuality?

12/04/06: What's a Layperson to Do?

11/17-25/06: Correspondence with a student at Eastern University promoting a "noncontextual perspective and "trusting my own judgment"

11/22/06: Response to a person who thinks that my non-biblical arguments are not strong

11/14/06: Question about books or resources for counseling persons with same-sex attractions

11/14/06: Differences of opinion about the relevance of menstrual law and whether the Law is abrogated in Christ

11/2/06: Questions about Jack Rogers's claim that 1 Cor 6:9 does not speak against committed homosexual unions

10/27/06: Can one make a reasoned case against homosexual practice without citing Scripture?

10/16/06: Requests for clarifications on my positions regarding Gen 2, the meaning of unnatural, and the relevance of Dutch gay marriage

10/16/06: Questions about genetic influence and moral relevance

 __________________________________________________________

 

Text

From: B. [an Episcopal chaplain]
Sent: Monday, November 07, 2011 4:19 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: presumptions
 

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

I have read w/ interest your articles and email correspondences.  I say "with interest" because most anti-homosexual theology is not particularly scholarly (and that's being generous) whereas yours clearly is.

I was hoping to see my concerns addressed in the emails, but I did not.  Thus, I am writing to you.  Hopefully, you will have time to respond.

 I was also struck by your tone and therefore trust we can have a respectful dialogue.

To that end, I disagree with your "poor analogy" criticism.  The "closer analogies" you suggest are actually not analogies at all, because they are based on the correct assumption that incest and polyamory are in most cases not going to be mutual, loving, or healthy relationships.  That is the same today as it was then.

So, the reason we use the analogies we do is because what they have in common is that they are based on incorrect scientific and no-longer-held cultural presumptions that the earth was flat and that wives were the property of their husbands.  I have in the past used slavery as an example as well, but appreciate your insights regarding the misuse of slavery as an analogy.

One concern I didn't see addressed was the distinction between cultural abominations (where the same-sex prohibitions in Lev. are found), none of which we follow today, and moral abominations (arrogance, haughty eyes, lying tongue....found in Proverbs and elsewhere) all of which are still just as relevant today.  This distinction would seem to weaken your argument that the same-sex prohibitions should be enforced today.

Further, I didn't see, in your discussions about incest, an acknowledgment that while the Bible goes to extreme lengths to prohibit all sorts of possible incestuous unions, it is all done from the male perspective and fails ultimately to prohibit or mention the most destructive (and prevalent) form of incest (father-daughter) as it would have been an infringement of the father's property rights.  This would seem to make incest an even worse analogy than the ones you criticize.

So, this is why I disagree that the modern understanding of orientation doesn't change things: because the prohibitions of male same-gender sexual activity are based not only on the incorrect presumption that everyone was heterosexual, but also (and just as importantly) the incorrect presumption that women were inferior (hence the "as with a woman").

I think you discredit yourself when you try to argue that orientation may have been understood at the time and/or that if it had been, it wouldn't have made a difference to Paul.  That's like saying the author of Job, had s/he known the earth wasn't flat, wouldn't have described the creation of the earth in chapter 38 differently.  And that's the reason these are good analogies: because they are based on the incorrect scientific and no-longer-held cultural presumptions of their authors (though I understand of course that the cultural presumptions accurately reflected their societal context).

The difference between them, however, is that flat-earth creationist types are not (for the most part) hurting other people, whereas those who insist that people who engage in same-gender sexual activity are acting in a way contrary to God's will for them actually leads to all sorts of ungodly prejudice, bullying, spiritual abuse by families and faith communities, and is counter to the advancement of God's kingdom.

Respectfully,

B.

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Monday, November 07, 2011 2:24 PM
To: 'Berkeley Johnson'
Subject: RE: presumptions
 

Dear B., 

Thanks for your civil tone. 

You say: “I disagree with your "poor analogy" criticism.  The "closer analogies" you suggest are actually not analogies at all, because they are based on the correct assumption that incest and polyamory are in most cases not going to be mutual, loving, or healthy relationships.  That is the same today as it was then.  So, the reason we use the analogies we do is because what they have in common is that they are based on incorrect scientific and no-longer-held cultural presumptions that the earth was flat and that wives were the property of their husbands.  I have in the past used slavery as an example as well, but appreciate your insights regarding the misuse of slavery as an analogy.” 

I disagree that incest and polyamory is any less mutual, loving, or healthy as a relationship. I think that the negative harms associated with homosexual practice are greater than those associated with polyamorous bonds (STIs, shorter term unions, paradoxically more lifetime sex partners on average than traditional polygamous bonds, higher mental health issues). I think you make your remark simply because you haven’t been exposed to enough examples of “good polygamy.” See my discussion on pp. 5-8 and 18-19 (also for some adult incest cases) at: 

“Weak Case: A Critical Review of Stacy Johnson’s “Law and Politics” Section in His Book A Time to Embrace” (written 2008; posted online 7/13/10; 48 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonLaw&Politics.pdf).  

There is certainly nothing inherent in either adult-consensual incest (other than the procreation issues, but procreation is not an essential feature of incest) or polyamory that would support an absolute prohibition. You say “in most cases” such relationships are not mutual, loving, or healthy. I agree that there is a disproportionately high rate of measurable harm for such unions, but the same is true of homosexual practice, which you want to allow. No one knows the exact statistics on incest and polygamy for such harm, but we do know that adult-consensual and loving polygamous binds do occur and even incestuous bonds.  

Consider too: Even when polyamorous and incestuous unions do not exhibit measurable harm they are still wrong because they violate the natural twoness (i.e. the two primary sexes) and complementary otherness of appropriate sexual bonds. The same too applies to homosexual unions. The disproportionately high rate of measurable harm characterized by all three types of sexual activity is the symptom of a deeper root harm that may or may not manifest itself in measurable ways. 

You say: “One concern I didn't see addressed was the distinction between cultural abominations (where the same-sex prohibitions in Lev. are found), none of which we follow today, and moral abominations (arrogance, haughty eyes, lying tongue....found in Proverbs and elsewhere) all of which are still just as relevant today.  This distinction would seem to weaken your argument that the same-sex prohibitions should be enforced today.” 

You err in characterizing the sexual laws in Lev 18 and 22 as mere “cultural” (as opposed to “moral”) abominations. The offenses do not bear the marks of merely ritual impurity offenses. See pp. 50-54 of http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf

You say: “Further, I didn't see, in your discussions about incest, an acknowledgment that while the Bible goes to extreme lengths to prohibit all sorts of possible incestuous unions, it is all done from the male perspective and fails ultimately to prohibit or mention the most destructive (and prevalent) form of incest (father-daughter) as it would have been an infringement of the father's property rights.  This would seem to make incest an even worse analogy than the ones you criticize.” 

You are wrong about the rationale for the omission of an explicit father-daughter prohibition, I believe: see my comments on p. 3 of http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonMoreReasonsCritique.pdf . “Man-daughter and man-sister prohibitions are subsumed in the prohibition of intercourse with one’s nearest kin in Lev 18:6: “no man shall approach any flesh of his flesh to uncover nakedness.” A main point of the incest laws, apart from the concern about an unnatural union with someone who is already of the same “flesh” or kin, is to limit the rights of men. 

You say: “I think you discredit yourself when you try to argue that orientation may have been understood at the time and/or that if it had been, it wouldn't have made a difference to Paul.” 

I think rather you show that you don’t know the evidence that a number of even homosexualist scholars acknowledge. See pp. 77-80 of http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf . As Thomas K. Hubbard notes, “homosexuality in this era [viz., of the early imperial age of Rome] may have ceased to be merely another practice of personal pleasure and began to be viewed as an essential and central category of personal identity, exclusive of and antithetical to heterosexual orientation” (Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003], 386). He also points to a series of later texts from the second to fourth centuries that “reflect the perception that sexual orientation is something fixed and incurable” (446). Bernadette Brooten, a lesbian NT scholar (Harvard, Brandeis), concluded: “Paul could have believed that tribades [the active female partners in a female homosexual bond], the ancient kinaidoi [the passive male partners in a male homosexual bond], and other sexually unorthodox persons were born that way and yet still condemn them as unnatural and shameful. . . . I believe that Paul used the word “exchanged” to indicate that people knew the natural sexual order of the universe and left it behind. . . . I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism as the unnatural acts of people who had turned away from God. (Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996], 244; emphasis added). William Schoedel (classics, early Christianity, emeritus University of Illinois) believes that “some support” exists in Philo, Abraham 135 for thinking that Paul might be speaking in Rom 1:26-27 “only of same-sex acts performed by those who are by nature heterosexual.” But he then dismisses the suggestion: “But such a phenomenon does not excuse some other form of same-sex eros in the mind of a person like Philo. Moreover, we would expect Paul to make that form of the argument more explicit if he intended it. . . . Paul’s wholesale attack on Greco-Roman culture makes better sense if, like Josephus and Philo, he lumps all forms of same-sex eros together as a mark of Gentile decadence”  (“Same-Sex Eros: Paul and the Greco-Roman Tradition,” in Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture [ed. D. Balch; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000], 67-68; emphasis added). Schoedel also acknowledges that a “conception of a psychological disorder socially engendered or reinforced and genetically transmitted may be presupposed” for Philo (“Same-Sex Eros: Paul and the Greco-Roman Tradition,” in Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture [ed. D. Balch; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000], 56, emphasis added). Martti Nissinen acknowledges in a candid moment: “Paul does not mention tribades or kinaidoi, that is, female and male persons who were habitually involved in homoerotic relationships, but if he knew about them (and there is every reason to believe that he did), it is difficult to think that, because of their apparent ‘orientation,’ he would not have included them in Romans 1:24-27. . . . For him, there is no individual inversion or inclination that would make this conduct less culpable. . . . Presumably nothing would have made Paul approve homoerotic behavior. (Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998], 109-12). 

So your whole “flat earth” comparison is misguided, in my view. 

You say: “those who insist that people who engage in same-gender sexual activity are acting in a way contrary to God's will for them actually leads to all sorts of ungodly prejudice, bullying, spiritual abuse by families and faith communities, and is counter to the advancement of God's kingdom.” 

The consequences of your promotion of homosexual activity are an unnatural dishonoring of the integrity of maleness and femaleness by treating these as only half intact for one’s own sex; an increase in the negative side-effects that accompany homosexual activity (including STIs but also no decrease in rates of suicide ideation), and (if one believes the united witness of Scripture) endangering the eternal destiny of those engaged in such behavior. It can hardly be “an ungodly prejudice,” “spiritual abuse,” and “counter to the advancement of God’s kingdom” if Jesus and the united witness of Scripture view a male-female prerequisite for valid sexual unions a foundational principle of sexual ethics. It is rather the reverse, isn’t it? 

Blessings, 

Rob  

 

Does the longevity of some homosexual unions validate the whole?

From: David
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2011 10:35 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Try to control yourself

"So in the case of male homosexual unions, you have a higher incidence of sexually transmitted infections, much lower rate of monogamy, because basically what you have is male sexuality ratcheted up without a taming influence of a woman in the
process."

Where do you get this stuff? Surely not from published and peer reviewed research.

I am a retired CEO. My late partner and I were together for over 30 years. Most of our gay friends had similarly long, monogamous relationships. Most of our straight friends were on their second marriage. Should I observe that gay unions are more stable than
straight unions? Seriously. The proudest father of a gay man that I know is a friend of mine who is a rabbi. His son is now at Yale law. Your problem is that you are wed to stereotypes as representative.

The stereotypes exist because 50 years ago, the only gays who were "out" were hair dressers and interior decorators. Things have changed. We are doctors, lawyers, members of SEAL Team 6, business executives, cops, firemen, school principals and even US Congressmen. Steve Jobs' successor at Apple is gay. You need to find a way to cope.

While sexual orientation is not contagious, I am inclined to think that contact with Mr. LaBarbera just might be. You have become comparably irresponsible. You are making the same kind of arguments that people (mostly Christian conservatives) made during the last throes of the Jim Crow south. I would think that you would want to be on the right side of history this time.
 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2011 12:41 AM
To: David
Subject: RE: Try to control yourself

Hey David,

Regarding your Jim Crow attempted analogy, I find it to be a lame attempt at analogical reasoning to compare the 100% heritable, immutable, and nonbehavioral feature of race to a behaviorally oriented sexual desire that is not 100% heritable and, at least within a limited sense (so Kinsey Institute) is susceptible to fluctuation along the Kinsey spectrum in the course of life, an impulse incidentally to engage in a behavior that is incompatible with embodied existence, anatomically and physiologically.

Probably the subject heading for your email is more aptly suited to your reaction to me. Really, you have to be kidding.... I'm not talking about studies 50 years ago. All the studies indicate this. Even the chapter on homosexuality in Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook on Psychiatry, which is written by a self-identified "gay" man Terry Stein, cites information that (despite the author's best efforts to spin otherwise) acknowledges this fact (go here, pp. 6-13 [pdf file]). Not that these results are surprising. Men naturally find monogamy more difficult than do women. Put two men together in a sexual union without the moderating influence of a woman and what do you think you are going to get? Usually something other than a recipe for monogamy.

Apparently you also could be a more careful reader of material you don't like to hear. I didn't say that male homosexual unions could never achieve monogamy over long periods of time. That would be a ridiculous statement. I'm talking here of disproportionately high rates of nonmonogamous behavior, higher incidences, not ironclad absolutes. The higher rates of polyamorous behavior and STIs are not the primary wrong about homosexual behavior but rather the symptom of the root harm, which is imaging another man as your sexual counterpart or complement, as though you were only half a male needing to be supplemented by intercourse with another man. You are too much of a like or same to the person you are attempting to unite sexually with, not enough of a complementary other.

It is the equivalent on the level of kinship with incest: too much formal, structural, or embodied identity on the part of partners in the sexual union. Even when incest is done as "well" as it can be done, in a consensual adult relationship of mutual love and taking precautions against procreation, it is still incest, is still problematic behavior. You are a man and yet you are sexually aroused by what you are in your essence: a man for maleness. You probably had a developed sense of gender nonconformity growing up, a sense of difference in relation to other males, which made you feel a longing for gender identity completion through union with another male. But attempting union with what you already are as a gendered being simply regularizes the misperception on your part that you are not fully male. That's a dishonoring of the stamp on masculinity placed on you by God. You may be in need of structural affirmation as a male but you are not in need of structural supplementation. You are not sexually completed by another male.

I'm saying this out of love for you. You do yourself a disservice by relating to other males as though you were their sexual complement. The fact that you had a long-lasting relationship is like congratulating an incestuous union between consenting adults for lasting 30 years. It's not a triumph but a long-lasting enterprise of sin and mutual dishonor. This is not to say that same-sex friendships are not a good thing. They are something wonderful. But when you introduce sex into the equation then you dishonor yourself by acting as if you are a half male.

As regards the right side of history, it is precisely because I want to be in that place that I maintain the position that I do. I'll give you a clue in 4 words: the kingdom of God.

Dr. Gagnon
 

 

The Fossil Canard

From: L
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 11:47 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: countering

We who struggle with the UCC often encounter this premise, basically that we are fossils, I would like to know the most effective way to counter the framing of the Biblical argument against homosexuality when it is presented in such a manner.
Thank you for your time.

L

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 2:02 PM
To: L
Subject: RE: countering


Hi L,

There are two main ways of countering this argument, in my view.

First, appealing to core values in Scripture's sexual ethics hardly makes one a fossil; it rather makes one faithful. The lifeless spiritual fossil is the one who disregards a foundational value of Scripture's ethics, one established at creation (i.e. a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations; the differentiation of the adam or human into two distinct sexes, suitable for sexual pairing, each part of the self-contained whole of the sexual spectrum), with Jesus appealing to that creation paradigm in Gen 1:27 and 2:24 in his divorce/remarriage remarks as the foundation or basis for limiting the number of persons in a sexual union to two persons (whether serially or concurrently [i.e. no polygamy]), and Paul echoing it in his explicit indictments of homosexual practice in Rom 1:23-27 (8 points of correspondence with Gen 1:26-27) and 1 Cor 6:9 (in 6:16 citing Gen 2:24). What Jesus defines as a foundational norm that has prescriptive and proscriptive implications for behavior and what the apostolic witness to Jesus confirms after his death as essential is binding for believers of all ages.

Every text in Scripture that has anything to do with sex presupposes the validity of a male-female prerequisite. This is true of narratives, laws, proverbs, poetry, and similes. One can find exceptions for polygamy and even some forms of incest in the Old Testament that are subsequently disallowed (incest already in Levitical law, polygamy by Jesus). But there are never in the pages of Scripture any exceptions for homosexual practice (and the relation of David and Jonathan or Ruth and Naomi are emphatically not homosexual in character). Jesus' outreach to outcasts is no argument to the contrary, since his outreach to economic exploiters (tax collectors) and sexual sinners is in tandem with his teaching that intensifies God's demands for economic justice and sexual purity. In other words, he reaches out to such persons precisely because they are at greatest risk of not inheriting the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.

Second, neither reason nor science, properly understood, point us in the direction of discarding this core value in the sexual ethics of Scripture. Neither the idea of committed homosexual relationships between adults nor the idea of congenital influences in homosexual development is a "new knowledge" discovered only in "modern" or "postmodern" times. The Greco-Roman milieu that Jesus and Paul inhabited already had such notions circulating widely. Moreover, neither notion has any bearing on why Jesus or Paul maintained a male-female requirement. For them God had ordained a male-female prerequisite for sexual unions (i.e. marriage) in creation and the material structures of maleness and femaleness confirm it. At all levels -- anatomically, physiologically, psychologically -- it is self-evident that the appropriate counterpart or complement to a male is a female and to a female a male.

There are two primary sexes in the sexual spectrum (even the rare phenomenon of a truly ambiguous "intersexed" person is only an amalgam of the two primary sexes, not a distinct "third sex"). What is lacking in essential maleness is not more maleness but essential femaleness (and vice versa), i.e., the "other half" of the sexual spectrum. Homosexual practice is a dishonoring of the sexual self because the implicit logic of a sexual union is that two halves of the sexual spectrum unite to create a single sexual whole. To be in a sexual union with someone of the same sex is to treat one's own maleness (if male) or femaleness (if female) as only half intact in relation to one's own sex (two half-males make a whole male or two half females make a whole female) rather than, as it really as, half intact in relation to the only other sex or gender that exists (a whole male and a whole female, each half of the sexual spectrum, unite to create a single sexual whole).

Yes, there likely are some congenital influences on homosexual development for many (though probably indirect for the most part and certainly not deterministic, creating risk factors for homosexual development, not a fait accompli), as well as a fairly exclusive attraction to the same sex for many persons with at least some same-sex attraction. But the existence of such an "orientation" is not a valid nature argument since people can have "unnatural" (though innate) attractions ("orientations") that are inconsistent with their embodied existence (such as polyamorous desires, which violate the natural twoness of the sexes; or pedophila, which violate the natural congruity of persons who have matured sexually). We are all born with an array of innate urges (e.g., polyamorous urges, jealousy, greed, pride) that are not moral simply because they are innate.

A biological basis for homosexuality cannot be a moral basis for validating homosexual practice inasmuch as all human behavior (good and bad) is attributable at some level to differences in brain structure and process. What we do see in homosexual activity is disproportionately high levels of negative measurable harm that correspond to gender types: numbers of sex partners over life and sexually transmitted infections (esp. for homosexual males) and shorter term unions on average and mental health complications (esp. for homosexual females). The differences between homosexual males and homosexual females in the rates of these harms is obviously due to basic male-female differences, ratcheted up in homosexual unions because they lack a true sexual complement (someone of the other sex). In homosexual unions the extremes of a given sex are not moderated and the gaps in the sexual self are not filled because there is no "other sex" in the union to be that moderating, complementary influence.

The closest analogies to the Bible's opposition to homosexual practice are not its alleged endorsement of slavery (Scripture undercuts the institution at numerous points), alleged suppression of women (there is much in Scripture that validates women and their ministerial roles, certainly relative to the cultures of the day), prohibition of divorce/remarriage (we don't ordain persons who want to continue a revolving door of divorce and remarriage with the fewest negative side effects, plus Scripture gives some limited options for divorce/remarriage and none for the more severe infraction of homosexual practice), or the Gentile inclusion analogy in Acts 10-15 (being a Gentile, which is a nonbehavioral condition and thus intrinsically benign, is not like carrying out a sexual impulse to do what God expressly forbids). The closest analogies to adult-committed forms of homosexual practice are adult-committed forms of incest (sex with someone who is too much of a "like" or "same" on the level of kinship, not enough of a complementary other) and polyamory (a violation of the inherent twoness of a sexual bond implicit in the twoness or binary character of the sexes, male and female). Since these are the closest analogues, and since too we continue to find these behaviors wrong today, there is little reason for changing our views on homosexual practice.

In conclusion, the weight of Scripture comes down ovewhelmingly in support of a male-female requirement for sexual relations and the arguments from reason and science that have been used to overturn this core value of Scripture turn out to be bad and misinformed arguments. To call someone a "fossil" simply because they support a moral position that has been the moral position of God's people for thousands of years says something about the mindless nature of the one making the charge. Incidentally, homosexual practice has had its proponents throughout history, by those who lie outside the Judeo-Christian matrix for Scripture. So on the basis of age of view proponents of homosexual practice are nearly as much "fossils" as proponents of a male-female prerequisite, if being a fossil means supporting an old view.

For the first and second arguments that I use above you can check out two longer (but still relatively short) pieces on my website:

“What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues” (Mar. 14, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexScripReallySays.doc.pdf).

“Why Homosexual Behavior Is More like Consensual Incest and Polyamory than Race or Gender: A Reasoned and Reasonable Case for Secular Society” (May 22, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexIncestPolyAnalogy.pdf).


Hope this helps.

Blessings,

Dr. Gagnon

 

 

The "God made me this way" argument and Peter's vision in Acts

From: Andre
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 10:25 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: question re Christian homosexual
 

Hello Dr. Gagnon,

Thanks so much for your website, your work and your publications and for sharing them so freely with so many. I have a friend in my church who recently declared that he is gay. Our church federation has taken a strong stance against the practice of homosexuality and he is currently under discipline. When I meet with him, he uses many of the arguments that you debunk. One additional argument that he uses though, that I didn't see posed on your website, is "God made me this way", the implication being that therefore he is supposed to be this way and why would we try to change God's design. How should I respond? He also refers often to the vision of Peter in Acts where the unclean animals appear on a sheet, and the phrase "Do not call unclean what I have called clean" and he suggests that this refers as much to homosexuality as it does to animals. Is there a succinct argument against this suggestion? 

Thanks so much for your time! 

Yours,

André

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2011 2:00 PM
To: Andre
Subject: RE: question re Christian homosexual
 

Hi Andre, 

The argument that “God made me this way” is a bad one. Quite apart from the fact that no scientific study has demonstrated that homosexual desire works along deterministic lines independent of any other influences (influences from family, peer, society, personal psychology, and incremental choices), everyone has lots of innate urges to do what God expressly forbids (greed, pride, sexual desires for more than one person concurrently, etc.). Most men have a polysexual orientation; that is, their sexual urges are not limited to one person lifetime. Should we conclude that therefore men are supposed to be this way and that we should not interfere with God’s “design”? Christians do believe that sin has entered into the world and mucked things up, including innate urges. The innateness of an urge is no moral argument since all behavior, good and bad, is attributable to differences in brain structure and process. Paul defines sin as an innate urge, passed on by an ancestor, running thru the members of the human body and never entirely within human control. If our innate urges were essentially good, Jesus wouldn’t have made it a hallmark of discipleship to “take up your cross, deny yourself, and lose your life”; and Paul wouldn’t have talked repeatedly about the necessity of dying with Christ and being a new creation. Homosexual attractions are desires to unite sexually with someone who is not a true sexual counterpart to oneself but a sexual same. In seeking union with a sexual same as though a sexual complement, a person acting on homosexual impulses dishonors him- or herself by treating oneself, in effect, as only half a male or only half a female. 

The attempt to see an analogy in Peter’s dream about unclean animals is also a bad argument. Jesus is explicitly in his statement about what defiles a human being that while the food that one ingests does not defile a person, gratifying sexual desires to do what God forbids (various sexually immoral behaviors, widely known in early Judaism and early Christianity: incest, adultery, homosexual practice, bestiality, sex with prostitutes, fornication) is body defiling in a holistic sense. Paul reiterated the same point in his discussion in 1 Cor 6 (continuing the case of the incestuous man): whatever relevance the slogan “all things are permitted me” has for eating food, it has no relevance for sexual ethics since sexual sin in a  distinctive sense is a sin against the body. A believer who engages in sexual immorality brings the indwelling Christ into the act, which is as repugnant as having immoral sex on top of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies. Remember that the Apostolic Decree that Luke says emerged out of Peter’s vision, though not requiring Gentile believers to circumcise and permitting them a freedom from most food laws, explicitly rejects admission of Gentiles who continue in porneia (sexual immorality). So the witness of the NT repeatedly indicates that one ought not to draw an analogy between circumcision and diet on the one hand and sexual immorality and homosexuality in particular on the other hand; yet your friend is doing precisely what Jesus and Paul declared not to be done.

Consider further: The Bible does not ground circumcision in creation; it does ground a male-female prerequisite for sex in creation. Circumcision is a Jewish ritual prescription enjoined only on proselytes, affecting the body superficially; homosexual practice is a universal moral proscription enjoined on all Gentiles, sex affecting  the body holistically. Gentile inclusion in Acts 11-15 is about welcoming persons; the affirmation of homosexual practice is about accepting behaviors that Scripture consistently and categorically declares to be immoral.  For the early church Gentiles were only incidentally linked to sin (they recognized the existence of God-fearing Gentiles); but in Scripture homosexual practice is intrinsically linked to sin. In the pages of Scripture there is significant OT precedent for Gentile inclusion and uniform NT support; as regards homosexual practice one finds total rejection in both Testaments. Finally, being a Gentile is about ethnicity, which is 100% heritable, absolutely immutable, primarily non-behavioral, and inherently benign; a homosexual orientation is an impulse that, while not usually freely chosen, is still not 100% heritable, is open to some change (certainly in terms of intensity of impulse over a lifetime), is primarily behavioral (that is, it is a desire to do something), and thus is not benign (indeed, it treats one’s gender as only half intact in relation to the gender that one is, thus dishonoring it). So the analogy put forward by your friend and most homosexualist interpreters doesn’t (so to speak) cut the mustard. 

I recommend for further detail that you look over a publication that I did for Reformed Review, a copy of which can be obtained online at http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf). [Table of Contents at: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoReformedReviewTableCont.pdf

Hope this helps. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon

 

From: Andre
Sent: Monday, September 12, 2011 1:34 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: question re Christian homosexual
 

Hello Dr. Gagnon,

Thanks for this info and the time you took to put it together - it's very helpful.  

Blessings,

André 

 


 

Resources to counter Jack Rogers' book

From: Mike
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2011 4:49 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: thank you...
 

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

Thanks for your time on the telephone today in talking with me about Biblical interpretation and homosexuality. I am thrilled that you can recommend resources to me and my congregation that will show the "other side" of Dr. Jack Rogers book and argument.
I know what I would say to you about Dr. Rogers, but my congregation would fail to appreciate that kind of theological frankness. 
 
I so appreciate the work you have done in this area. May the Lord bless and keep you and yours,

Sincerely,

Mike
Pastor [of a Presbyterian Church]
 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2011 8:52 PM
To: Mike
Subject: RE: thank you...
 

Hi Mike, 

I’ll make a number of suggestions. You can look over the material and determine what is suitable for your congregation. 

I’m guessing that my 500-page book on the subject, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Abingdon, 2001), will be too much for them. I do have a 50-page discussion of the subject in my second book, Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views (with Dan O. Via supplying the wrong perspective; Fortress, 2003). That may be helpful to you. 

Online, there are a number of resources: 

For a short treatment:  

“What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues” (Mar. 14, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexScripReallySays.doc.pdf ).  

For a 110-page treatment, the closest thing to a complete presentation online, with material on Scripture, science, and reasoning:  

“Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice? A Response to Myers and Scanzoni, What God Has Joined Together?” Reformed Review 59 (2005): 19-130 (online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf ). [Table of Contents at: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoReformedReviewTableCont.pdf

For critiques of Jack Rogers’ book: 

“Does Jack Rogers’s Book ‘Explode the Myths’ about the Bible and Homosexuality and ‘Heal the Church’? Installment 1” [Rogers’ Cover-Up of Homosex-Affirming Bible Scholars and Historians Who Admit That the Bible Rejects All Homosexual Practice] (June 8, 2006; 5 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/RogersBookReviewed.pdf ).  

Ibid., “Installment 2” [Rogers’ Inadequate Knowledge of the Historical Context for the Biblical Texts] (June 9, 2006; 8 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/RogersBookReviewed2.pdf ).  

Ibid., “Installment 3” [Rogers’ False Claim That I Provide ‘No Supporting Evidence’ that Paul Indicts All Homosexual Practice] (June 10, 2006; 16 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/RogersBookReviewed3.pdf ).  

Ibid., “Installment 4” [Rogers’ Distortion of the Scientific Evidence and of My Views on Orientation] (June 12, 2006; 16 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/RogersBookReviewed4.pdf ).  

“How Jack Rogers Continues to Distort Scripture and My Work” (June 20, 2006; 5 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/RogersBookRespToRogersReply1.pdf ).

“Jack Rogers’s Flawed Use of Analogical Reasoning in Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality” (Nov. 2, 2006; 12 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/RogersUseAnalogies.pdf ).  

 

An article critiquing another Presbyterian professor’s work, Stacy Johnson of Princeton, that has sections on committed homosexual relationships in the ancient world and on the Genesis texts: 

“A Book Not to Be Embraced: A Critical Review Essay on Stacy Johnson’s A Time to Embrace” [Part 1: the Scottish Journal of Theology article [Scottish Journal of Theology 62.1 (Feb. 2009): 61-80] (Mar. 2008; 16 pgs.; online: http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonSJT2.pdf ).

html: http://robgagnon.net/Critical%20Review%20of%20Stacy%20Johnson's%20Time%20to%20Embrace.htm   

 

An article on the case not from Scripture so much as philosophic reasoning: 

“Why Homosexual Behavior Is More like Consensual Incest and Polyamory than Race or Gender: A Reasoned and Reasonable Case for Secular Society” (May 22, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexIncestPolyAnalogy.pdf ). 

Hope this helps.

Blessings, 

Rob 

 


Are homosexualist advocates in the church as "committed to Scripture"?

From: C
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 11:34 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: PC USA

 

Hi Dr. Gagnon, 

I just returned from the Fellowship of Presbyterians and I heard something, which I wanted to ask you about:

Some of the leaders were saying that progressives and conservatives are both committed to Scripture, but arrive at different conclusions about homosexuality and other issues because of different interpretive methods. 

I listened to one of your talks and my understanding is that you use the progressive historical critical method/hermeneunetic and demonstrate that even using such a method one cannot conclude that the Scriptures teach the normalization of homosexuality. I'm probably confusing literary analysis and interpretation, but if you could illuminate (or point me to something that illuminates) the various threads that constitute progressive thought I would appreciate it...is my understanding accurate or am I missing something? Are the conservative PCUSA leaders well aware of your work? 

Thanks! 

In Jesus,

C

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 10:51 AM
To: C
Subject: RE: PC USA
 

Dear C

If some of the leaders stated that [and I have since had it confirmed by a number of independent sources], they would be in error in my opinion. That is the line given by homosexualist interpreters of Scripture but it ought not to be taken up by faithful readers of Scripture.  

The scriptural case against homosexual practice is so overwhelming that it takes a concerted effort to ignore the mountain of evidence and/or to twist it into unreasonable meanings. There are ambiguous issues in Scripture. This doesn’t happen to be one of them. 

The assertion that those who advocate for (the extreme, anti-scriptural offense of) homosexual practice are just as committed to Scripture as those who support the foundational male-female model of sexuality but only hold different interpretive methods makes about as much sense as saying that persons who believe that adult-committed incest and polyamory (immoralities, incidentally, that Scripture regards as less severe than homosexual practice) are just as committed to Scripture as those who regard such behavior as immoral; they differ only in interpretive methods.  That, of course, would be absurd. To accept such an argument would lead to no end of absurdities and would effectively eliminate categories of heresy and immorality. Paul did not state in 1 Cor 5-6, nor would he ever have stated, that those who approve of (or, worse, engage in) adult-consensual incest are as committed to Scripture but differ only in interpretation. Likewise, the Church Fathers in the second to sixth centuries did not adopt the view that the Gnostics were as committed to Scripture as they were but only used different interpretive methods. 

Now we can concede that those who espouse “adult-committed” homosexual relationships as a moral good may perceive themselves as committed to Scripture in adopting such a view. We may also grant that holding one extreme anti-scriptural view does not necessarily entail that all one’s views are extreme and antiscriptural. But we should never state that those who espouse homosexual practice (even of an “adult-committed” sort) are, on that issue, as committed to Scripture as those who espouse a male-female requirement. On the contrary, the homosexualist stance is so extreme that it makes it impossible to refer thereafter to its holders as “orthodox” or “faithful” in a general sense even if on other issues they are.

I imagine that those speakers are simply saying what is politically (but not theologically) correct to say, in order to avoid angering the leadership at Louisville or presbytery officials, either because they want to leave the church with as much of their church property as they can or because they want to stay and continue to have influence in the denomination. They don't want to have their ordination revoked for "schismatic" actions. Whatever the motive for making such statements, the statements themselves are false, even if those making them don't recognize them to be so.

As regards labels I never use the term “progressive” to describe the homosexualist or other hard-left agendas. It implies that those who differ from them are not for “progress” and, moreover, tacitly gives a positive spin on what are really old heresies and immoralities. I know that you did not intend this sense, of course.

 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon

 


 

Who is causing the weak to stumble?

From: Dallas CPA
Sent: Friday, August 19, 2011 11:53 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Jennifer Wright's CNN article
 

Mr. Gagnon,

I recently read your response to Jennifer Wright's CNN article on homosexuality. I hope you realize how people perceive biblicaly based arguments against homosexuality, especially people who are wishy-washy Christian (which is a great many people). Your article reminded me of the "strong Christians" Paul disputes in 1 Corinthians, who may (or may not) have been right in principle but were causing far worse damage putting the "weak Christians" in a situation where they might slip back into paganism. Whatever your arguments on homosexuality, many good arguments can be used to argue the opposite. The larger point is that articles like yours scare people away from Christianity, and it is hard to see this as something Jesus or Paul would have approved of.

 

Sent: Friday, August 19, 2011 4:20 PM
To: 'Dallas CPA'
Subject: RE: Jennifer Wright's CNN article
 

Dear “Dallas CPA” (why didn’t you supply me with a name?), 

The analogy you made to the strong at Corinth makes the exact opposite point from the one that you were making. The “strong” believed that they had knowledge that allowed them to engage in behaviors (go to idols’ temples, eat idol meat, approve of a case of adult-consensual incest) that put the “weak” at high risk of being excluded from the kingdom of God when they engaged in similar behaviors. In some cases it was a matter of doing things that were not wrong per se but only wrong in the minds of the weak and so wrong for the weak when the weak participated out of pressure (eating idol meat sold in the meat market or served at a private residence). In other cases, the strong themselves were at risk (and the weak, by implication) when they engaged in behavior that was indeed idolatrous or immoral. Paul lambasted the strong for tolerating a case of sexual immorality in their midst, specifically incest (1 Cor 5), though Paul alludes to other forms of porneia (sexual immorality) in the vice list in 1 Cor 6:9 and then later in 6:15ff. and ch. 7, namely, homosexual practice, adultery, sex with prostitutes, and sex outside of marriage (fornication). 

By definition, the weak would slip back into paganism if they participated in serial unrepentant acts of incest, same-sex intercourse, adultery, sex with prostitutes, fornication, or bestiality. You say the opposite: They slip back into paganism if warned that homosexual practice violates the will of God and puts a professed believer at high risk of not inheriting the kingdom of God. How, then, you could cite Paul as support for your own position is something that I cannot make sense of. 

As for Jesus, you seem to forget that Jesus said some very hard things about sexual ethics (i.e. his divorce-remarriage utterances and his adultery of the heart saying) which, according to your reasoning, he ought not to have said because such statements scare people away. Jesus’ call to discipleship may sound too scary for you: take up you cross, deny yourself, and lose your life. What you don’t grasp, it seems to me, is that Jesus simultaneously ratcheted up God’s ethical demand, including in the area of sexual ethics, while reaching out aggressively in love to the biggest violators of those demands in order to save them from destruction. I don’t see how you can say that Jesus would not have approved of maintaining a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations since Jesus’ argument about the essential “twoness” of the sexual bond is predicated on just such a prerequisite (the twoness of the sexes in a complementary sexual union as the basis for limiting the number of partners in a sexual union to two). 

If persons are “scared away” from Christianity because Christians rightfully maintain the importance of sexual purity as part of the transformed Christian life, then they weren’t really interested in acknowledging Jesus as Lord in the first place. To argue that maintaining standards against homosexual practice, incest, adultery, prostitution, fornication, and bestiality is improper because it scares people away from the Christian faith misses the point of grace entirely, which is not merely to forgive sins but also to empower to a life of holiness. 

Dr. Robert Gagnon

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, August 19, 2011 5:14 PM
To: 'Dallas CPA'
Subject: RE: Jennifer Wright's CNN article
 

You sound like the same person as “consulscipio236” who posted on Ben Witherington’s posting of my article at http://www.patheos.com/community/bibleandculture/2011/08/19/rob-gagnons-response-to-jennifer-knust-on-the-bible-and-homosexuality/ Same problematic argument there and in the same harsh terms and on the same day (Aug. 19):

  1. consulscipio236

    Reading this is infuriating, and makes it all too clear why Christians have a bad name in parts of the western world.

    The author’s arrogance is extreme. I love how he dismisses the writings on slavery was merely part of the culture, yet told the writings on homosexuality was timeless (they are both specific to their culture). What of divorce? Few things are more thoroughly condemned in the entire bible.

    Certainly many arguments could (easily) be used against this author’s claims, but instead he should reread the first half of 1 Corinthians. The fight had emerged over certain “strong Christians” arrogantly asserting that they knew better than the “weak Christians”. The issue was over meat sacrificed to pagan gods, and the “strong Christians” said they could eat it because those god’s didn’t exist. Paul clearly agrees with them in principle but berates them for their arrogance, certainty that they are right about something they may well not be, and the fact that their actions might lead the “weak Christians” to slip back into paganism.

    The author is the same as those “strong Christians” Paul berates. He really doesn’t know what he is talking about, and is doing Satan’s work for him by scarying people away from Christianity.
     

  1. consulscipio236

    Cunnudda-
    Divorce is condemned more by Jesus than anywhere else in the bible, true, although that would seem to reenforce my point. Jesus says nothing about homosexuality, and the claim here that you can infer a position from silence is a bit amusing.

    The point on divorce illlustrates how selective Gagnon (and everyone else who uses the bible to criticize gays or gay marriage) is on using the bible as a guide on ethics. I need not even get into all of the behaviors and consequences mandated in the OT (like killing your kid if he disrespects you).

    The simple fact is that if you are going to use the bible to criticize gays, you can use it to criticize just about everyone else. But the greater evil is that this kind of talk scares marginal Christians away by making them think Christians are intolerant, bigoted, and hypocritical.

    Presumably Jesus and Paul would be bothered more by people turning away from Jesus than by people holding certain doctrinal views.

     

Is this you? And are you afraid to disclose your identity?

Dr. Gagnon

 

From: Dallas CPA

Sent: Saturday, August 20, 2011 2:47 AM

To: Robert Gagnon

Subject: Re: Jennifer Wright's CNN article 

Mr. Gagnon,

My name is Will, and yes I am "consulscipio236". You miss my point on Paul's argument, which is also the common view among the commentaries. In the various commentaries on 1 Corinthians I have gone through (in particular Fee, Fitzmyer and the quite conservative Garland), none make the argument that you do below. First, the pagan rites and "bad behavior" are two separate issues. The first is harmless, unless it legitimizes paganism in the eyes of the "weak Christians". The second has little to do with paganism and is instead the consequence of bad theology (and a source of division within the church). Immorality is the effect, not the cause, of the problem. 

On the issue of the idol foods, the threat posed was that, by legitimizing pagan behavior, the "strong Christians" would cause the "weak Christians" to start believing again in those pagan gods. Paul agrees that pagan practice alone is harmless; and it is the rites, not sexual immorality, that Paul thinks might lead to renewed pagan belief among the "weak Christians". It is this loss of faith, not bad behavior per se, that Paul is concerned with, though behavior is certainly important. Theories on whether behavior alone could "cause" a loss of salvation, and if so what behavior could lead to that, are nothing more than speculation. Paul's knowledge of this certainly had real limits. Mere knowledge of sins (though homosexual practice doesn't "violate the will of God") can certainly not led to the loss of salvation. I notice that you commonly use arguments from silence. We can't know what Jesus or Paul thought about things they didn't address. You can come up with a line of reasoning showing why you think they must have thought a certain way (about homosexuality or anything else), but it is all speculation and easy to refute. 

Actually, throughout 1 Corinthians, that is the threat Paul is most concerned with: that the Corinthians are going turn away from Jesus, whether it is to themselves, their esoteric knowledge, or the pagan gods. The ethical behavior is a secondary concern, because to Paul good ethics flows from good theology, not the reverse. The commentaries all agree that the overarching problem in 1 Corinthians isn't sexual immorality but their fixation on dubious knowledge, which was thus leading to the bad theology. The bad theology was the cause of the bad ethical behavior. The bad theology was not just leading to bad ethics but a divided church, probably including an anti-Pauline party that Paul seeks to counter, most notably in 1 Corinthians 9, 15:8-9. Paul tells us outright the purpose of his epistle in 1 Corinthians 1:10, 17: to heal the divisions fracturing the church, and to preach the gospel of "Christ crucified". Sexual immorality is, at most, a side issue. Again, this isn't just my view. 

On the issue of incest (as throughout the epistle), Paul's larger concern is not the sin per se but its causes (bad theology) and the impact it was having on the church. As for the vice lists, in Paul they are always ad hoc and tailored for the specific issue at hand. They are (inspired) rhetorical devices, nothing more. They sure aren't timeless theological decrees. Again, not just my opinion. If one where to draw from this that homosexual practice is sufficient for the loss of salvation, then one would have to conclude that greed, drunkenness, along with the other common sins Paul mentions on his various vice lists would also lose one their salvation. Certainly "sexual immortality" includes adultery, and Jesus tells us that remarriage (in most cases) after divorce is adultery. So why stop at homosexuality? We could criticize just about everyone on earth by this logic.

What scares people away from Christianity isn't high ethical standards. It is the fixation on gays in particular (though not, oddly, divorcees nor people guilty of numerous other sins), and doing so in a hateful way supposedly in the name of a loving God. Thus, the issue is hypocrisy. Throw in naked support for right wing politicians, war, creationism, and "pro life" causes that oddly don't apply to people on death row, and you get quite a bit of anti-Christian hostility. We should hope people become Christians and sort through their ethical issues, not assume that we know what exact ethical behavior God requires, when we don't, and berate people who don't abide by our view. This is precisely what Paul berates the "strong Christians" for. The simple fact of the matter is that, despite your certainty, you don't know what God's view on homosexuality is (nor even that he has one). Nor do you have a reason, based on anything more than mere speculation, to think that gays are any more guilty of sin than anyone else. That you are right is questionable at best. That you are turning possible Christians away from Christ is a certainty.

 

Will

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Sunday, August 21, 2011 12:38 AM
To: Dallas CPA
Subject: RE: Jennifer Wright's CNN article 

Will, 

Sorry but you are wrong about the commentators on 1 Corinthians. I teach a course on 1 Corinthians at the seminary, have used the commentaries you cite as textbooks, and have more familiarity with the literature generally than you do. Let’s take your arguments in order. 

1.            Neither the commentators nor the text of 1 Cor support your contention that the “pagan rites” were “harmless.” While ch. 8 focuses on the pressure that the strong might put on the weak and cause the latter to violate false scruples, ch. 10 focuses on the real danger of idolatry that comes with the strong visiting an idol’s temple and becoming partners with the demons behind the idols through partaking of a covenant meal with a false god. In short, the strong could get “too close to the fire” and end up burnt. Partaking of a covenant meal at an idol’s temple, Paul argues, puts God to the test, leading Paul to ask rhetorically, “You are not stronger than God, are you?” You need to go back and reread what the commentators have to say about ch. 10, to say nothing of reading ch. 10 itself. 

2.            Partaking in sexual immorality most certainly does have to do with paganism. It has to do, at least in part, with a return to the immoral lifestyles out of which they emerged, though Paul admits in the case of incest they are even outdoing the pagans in immorality. Paul repeatedly warns Gentile converts in all his letters not to live as they once lived as Gentiles who did not know God. 

3.            Of course (!) immorality can trace back to bad theology (though one can engage in immorality by ignoring one’s good theology). But immorality is not merely an “effect” of the problem and not a problem itself, as if Paul might have said: “I’m not so much concerned about your incestuous behavior (or your acts of adultery, or your acts of bestiality, or your sex with prostitutes, or your sex with members of the same sex) as your bad theology.” To claim, as you do, that Paul did not believe that serial unrepentant behaviors of an egregious sort put persons at high risk of not inheriting kingdom of God is a blatant ignoring of multiple texts across the Pauline corpus. In 1 Thess 4, Gal 5, 1 Cor 5-6, 2 Cor 12, Romans (1, 6, 8, 13), not to mention texts in Col (3), Eph (4-5), and the Pastoral Epistles, Paul repeatedly states that if believers adopt again their old Gentile practices, especially sexually immoral practices, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. The argument of silence comes entirely from you, not me; although in your case it is more an ignoring of multiple texts.  

4.            Nor is it possible to ignore these texts simply because they include vice or offender lists, because in most of the cases cited above Paul buttresses the list with his own theological elaboration to make the same point. For example, the vice list in 1 Cor 6:9-10 is designed to support the point that the incestuous man, like any participant in egregious sexual immorality (Christian or not), runs the risk of not being “saved on the Day of the Lord” (ch. 5). The reason why the community is to put him temporarily out of the community until he comes to his senses is that this is a last-ditch measure to wake the offender up, lest he be excluded from the kingdom. Only those at such high eternal risk are to be put out of the community (the reason why the  two sets of vice lists, those in ch. 5 and the one in 6:9-10 are essentially the same lists, one supporting community expulsion, the other stressing loss of the kingdom). Paul goes on to reiterate the point of the vice list of 6:9-10 in 6:12-20, where he argues that believers must flee porneia inasmuch as they join the Christ in them to an immoral “one body” union; that they are temples of the Holy Spirit in them; and that they were bought with a price, are not their own, and therefore must glorify God in and with their bodies. Similar issues arise in 1 Thess 4 where Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers that he warned them before and now warns them again that if they return to their old Gentile sexual behaviors they will have rejected God who will be an avenging force against them. To say that we can’t know what Paul would have thought about such things, that it is all “speculation” on my part, simply ignores multiple texts to multiple communities that all state precisely this point. What is really going on here is that you don’t want to hear in the text what is incongruent with your own preconceived ideological views. You claim that my argument here is “easy to refute” but you have produced no counterargument against it. You can’t say that Paul didn’t warn the Corinthians, Thessalonians, Galatians, and Romans against such things because the texts clearly exist where he does this.  

5.            It is not necessary for a Christian to renounce Christ in order to engage in such behaviors and thereby put himself or herself at risk of losing eternal life. The incestuous man claimed to be a believer. Paul wasn’t sure whether that claim was true (he refers to him as one who calls himself a brother) but he seems to give him the benefit of the doubt in his analogy about a Christian man who has sex with a prostitute in the second half of ch. 6. Regardless of whether he was or wasn’t, if he engages in serial unrepentant incest, Paul says, he will be excluded from the kingdom. When introducing the offender list in 6:9-10 Paul says (as elsewhere), “Stop deceiving yourselves,” meaning “Don’t think that just because you acknowledge the name of Christ that you can engage in such immoral behavior and get away with it.” As Paul similarly warns the Galatians in Gal 6, “God will not be mocked”: if you sow seed into the (sinful desires of the) flesh you will reap destruction rather than eternal life. 

6.            Contrary to what you say, the commentators do not state that knowledge, not sexual immorality, is a problem. Bad use of knowledge is certainly a key problem. But the fact that Paul spends chs. 5-7 of the letter focusing on sex indicates that it is one of the main issues, along with issues of unity (1-4), idolatry (8-10), abuses around worship and spiritual gifts (chs. 11-14), and a denial of a resurrection from the dead (ch. 15). The only place in the letter where he explicitly recommends removal of a member from the community (in a letter that you rightly note often focuses on unity) is over a question of sexual immorality (ch. 5; to be sure, Paul makes a similar but implicit point in his discussion of those who deny the resurrection in ch. 15). That is telling indeed, in terms of indicating the strength of Paul’s thoughts on the matter. There are two “flee” statements in the letter: one having to do with idolatry (ch. 10), the other sexual immorality (ch. 6). These were typically Paul’s two main warnings when dealing with Gentile converts. Ethical behavior is not a “secondary concern,” neither in this letter nor in any of Paul’s other letters. To make the claim you make is to indicate an inadequate knowledge of Pauline thought. I’m not saying that sexual immorality was the only or main problem at Corinth. I’m saying that it was a significant enough concern on Paul’s part to (1) devote a major chunk of his letter to it; (2) warn the Corinthians that engaging in such behavior would put them at high risk of being excluded from God’s kingdom; and (3) urge them to put out of the church a sexual offender, despite his insistence nearly everywhere else on unity. 

7.            To claim, as you do, that Paul wasn’t so much concerned with incest as with “its causes (bad theology) and the impact it was having on the church” is simply wrong. Read the opening lines of 1 Cor 5 and you’ll get a sense about how upset Paul is with the actual sin of incest. He’s shocked, he’s mortified; he tells the Corinthians that they should have mourned (as in a funeral) the offender rather than boast in their tolerance (your position, apparently). Paul says next to nothing about bad theology in chs. 5-6, except to note the bad theology is thinking that what one does sexually doesn’t matter that much, much like what one does with food (i.e., Paul is rebutting the kind of bad theology that you appear to hold). He is concerned about its impact on the community but the impact he is concerned about is sending the message that sexual offense is no big deal (i.e. the kind of impact your views apparently have). 

8.            You have also ignored my point in the previous correspondence that comparing what I’m doing to "the strong" at Corinth completely misses the point that Paul never criticized the strong for imposing on the weak standards of sexual purity. On the contrary, Paul was the one who imposed such standards on all his communities. The strong were wrong for insisting to the weak that they should live out their freedom in Christ even if it meant violating their consciences by getting them to do something that the weak still thought was wrong (i.e. eating idol meat even when bought at the meat market). 

9.            You claim: “If one where to draw from this that homosexual practice is sufficient for the loss of salvation, then one would have to conclude that greed, drunkenness, along with the other common sins Paul mentions on his various vice lists would also lose one their salvation. Certainly ‘sexual immortality’ includes adultery, and Jesus tells us that remarriage (in most cases) after divorce is adultery. So why stop at homosexuality? We could criticize just about everyone on earth by this logic.” This is a bad argument. First, you simply ignore the fact that Paul does indeed say that men having sex with males, adulterers, and other sexually immoral persons (like the incestuous man and those having sex with prostitutes) will not inherit the kingdom of God. Second, Paul is highlighting in 1 Cor 6:9-10 examples of egregious immorality and not isolated acts but serial unrepentant behaviors. The sexual offenses he cites are high sexual offenses. Similarly, the “greed” is not merely a greedy thought that all experience but actual cases of severe economic exploitation of others (a modern day example would be a person who ripped the elderly out of their life savings through some Ponzi scheme). Constant drunkenness, which precludes acting in the power of the Spirit, is another, but again Paul isn’t referring here merely to isolated acts. Any sin can be forgiven but a serial unrepentant life indicates that one is not in fact under Christ’s lordship. Third, Jesus’ statement about remarriage as adultery was designed to indicate the importance of sexual purity, not to be used (as you do) to devalue all sexual prohibitions. In Matt 5 he precedes this utterance with the precise kind of warning that you deny exists: If your hand, eye, or foot threatens your downfall, cut it off because it is better to go into heaven maimed than to go into hell full-bodied. Jesus was trying to dissuade remarriage after divorce but it is highly unlikely that he would have required all remarried-after-divorce listeners to dissolve their remarriages (he undoubtedly would have called on all adulterers to cease adulterous relationships: go and sin no longer). Rather, the remarried person must live out their current marriage without divorce and in fidelity.  

10.          Homosexual practice is certainly not the only sin for the church to criticize. But it is a foundational violation of the principle of “male and female” on which Jesus extrapolated other principles in sexual ethics: the twoness of the sexual bond, eliminating a revolving door of divorce and remarriage and, by implications, polygamy. We should indeed be concerned about divorce in the church; but not even Jesus regarded divorce as great a violation as homosexual activity. The male-female prerequisite for sexual relations was for Jesus the foundation; the limitation to two sex partners (whether serial or concurrent) and the indissolubility of the union are points extrapolated from this foundation, i.e. corollaries to the main point. By definition homosexual practice is more serious than divorce because it is a direct violation of a male-female prerequisite on which the divorce prohibition is based. There are many indications in Scripture and in the context of early Judaism that homosexual practice is the most severe consensual sexual offense among humans (bestiality is worse but that involves a cross-species act): its treatment in Lev 18 and 20, the implications of Genesis 1-2, Paul’s description of it in Rom 1, the discussions of it in early Judaism, etc. Not only is homosexual practice a foundational violation, it is the only immorality being foisted on the church as a positive good, with the larger society moving toward persecuting and ostracizing anyone who disagrees that is a good. So like any endangered species, the church has a duty to give the matter special attention. 

11.          Paul never, as you put it, simply hoped that people would become Christians and sort out for themselves what ethical behavior God requires. Why do you think Paul devoted so much of his letters to moral exhortations, including specific exhortations and prohibitions? Paul doesn’t say: Determine for yourselves whether homosexual practice, incest, adultery, sex with prostitutes, and fornication is wrong but one way or the other it won’t affect your salvation. That’s your message. But Paul says the exact opposite, as does the entire New Testament witness. Open the Bible and read it without your heavy ideological grid blocking its message. 

12.          You like to throw around accusations of hate. Read your own posts and look in the mirror. It is possible to hate not just the sin but the sinner and such is certainly to be avoided. But hate has nothing to do per se with warning a person against engaging in behavior that can put them at risk of being excluded from an eternal union with God. Hate is the kind of thing that you practice toward those who disagree with you and in telling others to engage in behavior that, despite your assurances otherwise, put them in danger. To tell a person to go out and skate on thin ice, assuring them that nothing bad will happen when sign after sign is posted warning of the danger, is functional hate. After having written more than a thousand pages on the Bible and homosexual practice (and you have published what … zero?) your claim to me that the position that I espouse is based on “mere speculation” when you are aware of only a small fraction of the arguments that can be raised against your unsubstantiated claims is hardly to be taken as a serious comment. 

13.          By your rationale, if society ever pushes for adult-committed incestuous unions or adult-committed polyamorous unions (or, worse still, pedophilia and bestiality), the church should back off in its opposition to these practices lest it turn away possible Christians. I hope you will see that such an argument is nonsense. It is persons such as you who turn people away from a genuine devotion to Jesus Christ by advocating a position on homosexual practice that God and Christ find abhorrent, if the pages of Scripture are to be believed. But you are not beyond the reach of God. Your mind can yet be renewed. But it will require you to give up what you want to get all that God has in Christ.

 

Dr. Gagnon

 


 

        For other email correspondence regarding my CNN Belief Blog article rebutting Prof. Jennifer Wright go here.

 


 

What resource(s) would I recommend

 

From: R

Sent: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 2:33 PM

To: Robert Gagnon

Subject: A question

 

Dr. Gagnon, 

Could you kindly tell me what one resource you would recommend for a precious, beautiful young lady. She is sweet and gentle and dearly loves people.  She was raised in a  pastor and missionary's home....  During her college years she regularly attended Campus Crusade for Christ... She recently revealed to her parents that she has been living with a lesbian (though she says she is bisexual) for a year.  She agrees with Mel White of Soul Force in his interpretation of Scripture.  Her parents are so broken they  can hardly function.

She says that she never felt God was a personal God and that the Christian life was nothing but guilt--that she could never witness enough, read her Bible enough, pray enough etc.  She says it is only important that you look at a person's heart, not  their anatomy, and that she is happier and more at peace than she has ever been in her life.  

Please help! 

Thank you, and may the Lord richly bless you in your ministry. 

R

 


From: Robert Gagnon

Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2011 1:46 PM
To: R
Subject: RE: A question
 

Hi R___________, 

Her reasoning is flawed when she says that God only looks at a person's heart and not a person's anatomy, and not just because male-female differences involve more than anatomy (physiology, psychology). We are embodied beings and what we do with these bodies matters to God. A person can insist that his or her heart is "in the right place" when engaging in an adult-committed sexual relationship involving a near kin or more than one partner concurrently; but such insistence will not absolve him or her of violating God's will for sexual expression.

My expertise is primarily on the biblical side, so not surprisingly I would recommend my work. Mel White is not a biblical scholar and knows very little about biblical texts in their historical and literary context. But if she wants a book from a person that has come out of the homosexual life I would recommend a recent book by Christopher Yuan, Out of a Far Country (just published; go to http://www.amazon.com/Out-Far-Country-Journey-Mothers/dp/0307729354/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1308247447&sr=1-1 ). Or for a book on coming out of lesbianism, see Jeanette Howard, Out of Egypt (go to http://www.amazon.com/Out-Egypt-Jeanette-Howard/dp/0825460018/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308247533&sr=1-5 ) or Anne Paulk, Restoring Sexual Identity (go to http://www.amazon.com/Restoring-Sexual-Identity-Struggle-Attraction/dp/0736911790/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b).

As to a single work from my own material, it's hard to say since the answer to that question depends on the size of the article/book that she wants to read. Size ranges from my first book (The Bible and Homosexual Practice, Abingdon, 2001; 500 pgs.) to my 50-page article in my second book (Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, Fortress, 2003; with Dan Via who represents the other side) to a shorter online treatment like this article http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonSJT2.pdf (a critique of a book written by theologian Stacy Johnson, published in Scottish Journal of Theology, where I discuss, among other things, committed homosexual relationships in antiquity in relation to New Testament texts; and the use of Genesis); or this one http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexScripReallySays.doc.pdf (a short online article critiquing 5 bad arguments that attempt to neutralize Scripture's stance against homosexual practice); or this one http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexNewsweekMillerResp.pdf (a critique of a Lisa Miller Newsweek article propagandizing for homosexual practice), or this one  http://robgagnon.net/articles/HomosexHowBadIsIt.pdf (a brief argument assessing how bad homosexual practice is according to Scripture).  

For a mid-range option online, which treats Scripture, philosophy, and science have her go to:

http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf (a wide-ranging critique of a book by David Myers and Letha Scanzoni).

 

If she wants to go the video route she can check out a short half-hour video at:

http://www.vimeo.com/2126309 

For longer, topically focused videos see below:

For a video on Jesus and Sex go to: http://sugarplum.clickstreamtv.net/sp/0.9.13/cst/_/6ff33915/?p=103101  and click on my picture at bottom right.

For a video on the witness of Paul against homosexual practice go to:

http://www.xpmedia.com/ead9sYAtf8sO  

For a video on why the church disagrees about homosexual practice, the true meaning of love, what is at stake, the proper use of analogies, and what the Bible finds wrong about homosexual practice, go to

http://www.xpmedia.com/pBJuL9BY88hw  

For a 76-minute video on Paul and sexual orientation theory in antiquity; Jesus on sex and love; and the Old Testament witness on homosexual practice, go to:

http://www.xpmedia.com/iHC1f9KN2IYG 

Hope this helps. 

Blessings,

 

Rob Gagnon

 


 

On Marin and ministry to homosexually active persons

 

From: Karen
Sent: Monday, December 13, 2010 6:40 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: building bridges between the lgbt and christian community
 

Hi Professor Gagnon, 

I'm a Christian, straight student at ______________ University who wants to build bridges between the LGBT and Christian community. I've read Andrew Marin's book "Love is an Orientation," and also your book, "The Bible and Homosexual Practice" over the summer before I saw your exchanges on each of your website. 

I found your book scholastically satisfying in thoroughly addressing the social, culture, and theological contexts for homosexuality in Ancient Judaic time. While Marin's book does not similarly address homosexuality in a thorough manner, I found "Love is an Orientation" as a call to think about the undeniable pain of being gay and marginalized not just by Christian communities but majority culture as a whole.

I'm not here to take sides. You both have contributed substantial discussions to the ongoing conversation about the church and the LGBT community. 

I was very interested in your opinion on how to build bridges with the LGBT community in a way that is loving, compassionate, and similar to Jesus' ministry as He met prostitutes and lepers where they were without judgment or condemnation but also not compromising His identity as the Son of God. 

I would appreciate anything you'd have to contribute. This is a very new and precarious foray into pressing into a ministry of reconciliation. I don't have a language to discuss these issues or any precedent to follow, so any information or insight you could contribute would be most helpful. 

Thank you for your time. 

Best,

Karen

 

On Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 5:36 PM, Robert Gagnon wrote:

Dear Karen, 

The story of the woman caught in adultery provides probably the best short entrée. Jesus opposes the woman being physically harmed but also tells the woman to “Go, and no longer be sinning.” A similar line occurs in John 5 where it is followed by “lest something worse happen to you,” which in context means not inheriting eternal life. Jesus both ratcheted up God’s demand as regards matters of sexual ethics and use of material possessions while reaching out aggressively in love to the biggest violators of this demand. It is not quite true to say that Jesus met those engaged in gross violation of God’s law “without judgment,” if by “without judgment” you mean holding in abeyance or remaining silent about God’s ethical demands. If the woman caught in adultery had continued in adulterous behavior in a serial, unrepentant manner, she would have continued to endanger her inheritance in God’s kingdom. 

So my advice if you want to reach out to persons who engage in homosexual practice is not to do what Marin does; that is, don’t try to gloss over what the united witness of Scripture believes about homosexual practice or about the dangers that persist for someone engaged in homosexual practice. This buys friendship at the cost of failing to disclose what is necessary for another’s salvation. Eat with homosexually active persons, sit next to them, tell them that you love them and that you don’t agree with an approach that seems to rejoice that homosexually active persons are at risk of losing entrance to God’s kingdom. Most importantly, tell them what you should tell anyone who doesn’t see Christ as Savior and Lord: that God expended the ultimate cost in the death of his own Son, who paid the ultimate price that we might be delivered from a life controlled by sin. 

Don’t make it your ultimate goal to be accepted by the “LGBT” community. The rich young ruler went away saddened by Jesus’ stiff demand. Often the disciples had to shake the dust off their feet when they exited a town that refused to receive the good news about Christ. Make it your ultimate goal to deliver to others (“whosoever”) the undiluted gospel about Christ in a spirit of truth and love. Wed truth and love; don’t uphold one at the expense of the other, like Marin unfortunately does. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon

From: Karen
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 6:48 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: building bridges between the lgbt and christian community
 

hi dr. gagnon, 

thank you for your prompt response. i appreciate your theological insight and reminder about God's holiness. 

i wish there someone who encompassed andrew marin's evangelistic approach in meeting the lgbt community where it is and serving them, while maintaining your biblical insight and solidity. it would be the best wedding that illustrates being part of the world but not of the world. 

thanks again. 

-k

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 6:56 PM
To: Karen
Subject: RE: building bridges between the lgbt and christian community
 

Karen, 

There are many such persons who do. They can be found in Exodus International and various transformation ministries. Popularity among the LGBT community is not a measure that anyone should value. Speaking the truth in love is often not enough to garner support. Jesus was crucified and many of the early leaders of the church (Paul, Peter, James, etc.) were martyred. The point, as Paul often repeated (e.g., Galatians), is not to please people but to please God. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon 

 

From parents with a homosexual son

From: Richard ___________
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2010 9:31 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: a new 50-minute video presentation

Thank you so much for e-mailing [news of this online] video [at http://sugarplum.clickstreamtv.net/sp/0.9.13/cst/_/6ff33915/?p=103101]. Is there any way to purchase a copy of it? Friends of our would like very much to see it too. We really are grateful for all you study and work on this subject. Our son is living in a homosexual relationship and it just breaks our hearts. He attends a [mainline] church that has a lesbian pastor. and of course he thinks that's ok. He knows how we feel about it but refuses to have any conversation about it. We covet your prayers. We have your books around and Christian articles too. We trust God will get through to him. He is [over 40] yrs. old--calls several times a day and keeps close contact with us, for which we are very thankful. Thank you again--we learn a lot from you. God continue to bless you. Rev. Richard and _________ __________

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2010 10:24 PM
To: Richard _____________
Subject: RE: a new 50-minute video presentation
 

Dear Richard and ________,  

I appreciate your kind words. I’m not sure if the video can be purchased; but the person who could either answer your question or direct you to someone that could is: 

Miss Jamie Gruber [jgruber.ruthinstitute@gmail.com]

Executive Director
Ruth Institute (a project of The National Organization for Marriage)
O/F: 760-295-9278
 

My heart goes out to you regarding your son. He is only a year younger than I am. It sounds like you are doing everything that you can to love your son, including pointing him in the right direction, praying for him, and maintaining contact with him. 

Blessings, 

Rob


 

 

On Biology, Analogies, Jesus, and Love

From: Dianna M Leamy, Louisville

Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 5:13 PM

To: Robert Gagnon

Subject:  

Greetings Dr. Agnon [sic], 

I just read your 2004 article about homosexuality being a contradiction of terms. I felt compelled to write to you because I am stunned by the predjudice you displayed in your article. I do hope that since the article was written in 2004 your views have changed. There has been so much research done to indicate the biological components of homosexuality that I can't see how that can be ignored. Of course, there are so many passages in the bible regarding so many things that we as Christians now consider to be obselete (diet, women as servants, slavery, etc.). I think that within the next 100 years the bigotry against homosexuals will be viewed in the same negative light as slavery in America. 

I pray everyday that all Christians will embrace homosexuals and treat them with the same deserved dignity and respect as any other human. I sincerely believe that Jesus, in all his glory would stand hand in hand with gays as he did with the outcasts of his day.  

If your views haven't changed since 2004, I urge you to reconsider your position, and instead of preaching prejudice, preach love and acceptance. My husband and I work very hard to teach our children the importance of acceptance, and I can't help but think you would do the same. 

Peace, 

Dianna

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 2:31 PM
To: 'Dianna M Leamy'
Subject: RE:  

Hi Dianna, 

The problem lies in your premise or rather in several of your premises.  

Regardless of the biological component to homosexual development (and I certainly do believe there are congenital contributing factors to some homosexual development) it is morally indefensible to argue for acceptance on the basis of biology. All behavior can be attributed at some level to differences in brain structures and processes, i.e., biologically caused. Your premise (if homosexuality is biologically wired--by the way the mechanism is not deterministic--homosexual behavior must be accepted) is just bad logic. By your argument society should sanction committed polyamorous behavior on the part of men because men are wired for polysexual expression (having 8-10 times the main sex hormone testosterone than do women). But, obviously, biology does not equate with morality. Most human impulses are for things that God expressly forbids us to do. That's why Jesus defines discipleship as taking up your cross, denying yourself, and losing your life. That's why Paul talks about being crucified with Christ and no longer living but rather having Christ live in one instead. That's why he defines sin as an innate impulse, passed on by an ancestor, working through the members of the human body, and never entirely within human control. Another thing: No commandment of God is predicated on the eradication of innate desires to do otherwise. 

Your analogies to the Bible's view on homosexual practice (slavery, diet, women's roles) are all bad analogies, for various reasons. One thing about analogical reasoning: It's done irresponsibly if one prefers remote analogies over distant analogies. The best analogies are those that have the most substantive points of correspondence with the thing being compared. Your choices of analogies have far fewer points of correspondence to the Bible's stance on homosexual practice than the analogies to adult-committed forms of incest and polyamory. 

A third bad premise on your part is that Jesus would adopt a positive view of homosexual unions were he here in the flesh today. Jesus clearly regarded God's creation of "male and female" as a complementary sexual pair as the foundation for limiting the number of persons in a sexual bond to two persons whether at any one time (no polygamy) or serially (no revolving door of divorce and remarriage), as it was for the Qumran Essenes (at least as regards polygamy). There are half a dozen other arguments that one could make to underscore that, historically speaking, the premise that Jesus ever had even the slightest openness to committed homosexual unions is untenable. And your argument about reaching out to outcasts doesn't work because Jesus reached out to tax collectors in order to recover them for the kingdom of God, not to have them continue in the exploitative economic practices that led to Jesus' outreach to them in the first place. The same thing applies to his outreach to sexual sinners, whose behavior put them at high risk of exclusion from God's coming kingdom. Jesus reached out to both groups in a concerted effort to redirect their behavior, not to confirm their behavior. By analogy to your reasoning, polygamists and adult-consensual participants are even bigger outcasts so we should be accepting their relationships. Indeed, anyone who did anything that society didn't approve of, even things which society should continue to reject, would fall within the domain of your argument since you fail to factor in whether a person's outcast status is a product of bad behavior or good behavior. 

Love is not the same thing as tolerance. Love sometimes includes discipline and rebuke (something with which you apparently must believe since you attempt here to rebuke me, I presume out of love). Love includes saying no to things that injure one's relationship to God and to others. You have a very truncated view of love, from what I can see, when you apply it to the issue of homosexual practice. 

Although your correspondence has the tenor of a rebuke of me ("I am stunned by the prejudice you displayed in your article") you should really direct your rebuke to your unreflective response to the issue of homosexual practice. Let me recommend that you read my work more widely and carefully than you apparently have to date. I recommend for starters the following: 

“What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues” (Mar. 14, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexScripReallySays.doc.pdf).  

“Why Homosexual Behavior Is More like Consensual Incest and Polyamory than Race or Gender: A Reasoned and Reasonable Case for Secular Society” (May 22, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexIncestPolyAnalogy.pdf).  

“How Bad Is Homosexual Practice According to Scripture and Does Scripture’s Indictment Apply to Committed Homosexual Unions?” (Jan. 2007, Dec. 2007; 11 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/HomosexHowBadIsIt.pdf; html: http://www.robgagnon.net/HowBadIsHomosexualPractice.htm

And a longer piece:

“Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice? A Response to Myers and Scanzoni, What God Has Joined Together?” Reformed Review 59 (2005): 19-130 (online: http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/gagnon_autm05_0.pdf). [Table of Contents at: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoReformedReviewTableCont.pdf

From these you can move on to my first book, or start with my shorter 50-page essay in my second book. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Robert Gagnon


Debate with a self-affirming "secular humanist"

From: W O'Donnell
Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 12:01 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Flawed premise

Dr Gannon [sic],
 
I was a New Testment student at the Jesuit University at St. Louis - Saint Louis University.  After finishing my work there, I did my graduate studies at the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago, and was an
exchange student at the Harvard Divinity School, as a student of Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, focusing my studies on the hermenutics of suspician.
 
After finishing my studies there, I returned to Saint Louis University to study science in biology and molecular virology.  I am now an agnostic, secular humanist who holds an M.A. in Bblical Theology and a Ph.D in molecular virology.
 
I did my work in the ancient languages, under the auspices of Donald Senior, Carolyn Osiek, Barbara Bowe, Carrol Stulhmeuller, and Leslie Hoppe.
 
I have read your book on homosexuality, which is to dipute such notable scholars as Dr. Robins Scroggs, Walter Wink, Elizabeth Fiorenza, along with their academic and philosophical discursives.
 
The Old Testament and the New Testment are dead documents.  They only hold a theological and ancient cultural context which no longer applies to the modern world.
 
You realize, of couse, that at that period in time Everthing was God.  If the ground shook,  if someone woke up with a sore throat, they did not realize that they were under siege of a virus or a bacteria.  They thought that they were being punished by a vengeful god.
 
The context of the Old Testament, and Robin Scrogg's genious knowlege of the Apostle Paul, along with his knowlege of the Pederastic Model, the arsenokoati and the pornoi is brilliantly extolled in his book.  The man was a scholar of excellence.
 
You can not apply the Old Testament to the modern world.  We are smarter now, and we even know how the universe works.
 
I can not believe that some one such as you, who calls himself a scholar, allows 2000 years of cultural evolution to make other human beings feel justifed in precipitating hate.
 
To use Elizabeth Fiorenza's word in her book "In Memory of Her" "This success cannot be justified theologically, since it cannot claim the authority of Jesus for its Christian praxis."
 
William O'Donnell

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 11:40 AM
To: 'W O'Donnell'
Subject: RE: Flawed premise
 

William, 

The name is Gagnon, not Gannon. 

The credentials do not impress. I did my academic work at Dartmouth College, Harvard Div School, and Princeton Seminary. So what? The question is one of strength of argument, which I see little of here. 

Scroggs’s work is now obsolete. I debated him at Centre College in 2002 and had no trouble showing the unsustainable character of his argument. I have shown in my work that committed homoerotic relationships were known in antiquity (as most classicists can tell you). Moreover, Paul’s clear appeal to the creation texts, his use of a nature argument based on male-female complementarity, his emphasis on the mutuality of the acts, and his indictment of lesbianism also indicate that a non-exploitative homosexual unions would (of course) have been rejected by him, and by Jesus who predicated his view on the essential ‘twoness’ of a sexual union on the essential twoness of the sexes, “male and female” (Gen 1:27) or “man” and “woman” (Gen 2:24). There are more than a half dozen other arguments that show, historically, that Jesus would have categorically opposed homoerotic behavior, as did all other Jews of the period. Thus, to claim that maintaining a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations (like a non-incest requirement or a limitation to two persons concurrently) “cannot claim the authority of Jesus for its Christian praxis“ is illogical. 

Your argument about “hate” makes as much sense as arguing that not allowing a person with a polysexual orientation to get a marriage license for 3 or more sexual partners concurrently is hateful; or contending that refusal to grant a marriage license to an adult-committed incestuous bond is hateful. As regards the science, the disproportionately high rates of harm associated with homosexual practice (harm that, incidentally, differs for male homosexuality and female homosexuality in ways that correspond to male-female differences) are in large measure attributable to the extremes of a given sex not being moderated, nor gaps filled, in same-sex erotic pairings, not in the first instance due to societal "homophobia." 

For further discussion of these and other points please start with the literature cited below. 

Blessings, 

Robert Gagnon 

“Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice? A Response to Myers and Scanzoni, What God Has Joined Together? Reformed Review 59 (2005): 19-130 (online: http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/gagnon_autm05_0.pdf). [Table of Contents at: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoReformedReviewTableCont.pdf]  

 “How Bad Is Homosexual Practice According to Scripture and Does Scripture’s Indictment Apply to Committed Homosexual Unions?” (Jan. 2007, Dec. 2007; 11 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/HomosexHowBadIsIt.pdf).  html: http://www.robgagnon.net/HowBadIsHomosexualPractice.htm  

“A Book Not to Be Embraced: A Critical Review Essay on Stacy Johnson’s A Time to Embrace” [Part 1: the Scottish Journal of Theology article [Scottish Journal of Theology 62.1 (Feb. 2009): 61-80] (Mar. 2008; 16 pgs.; online: http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonSJT2.pdf). html: http://robgagnon.net/Critical%20Review%20of%20Stacy%20Johnson's%20Time%20to%20Embrace.htm . Also: “Part II: Sodom, Leviticus, and More on Jesus and Paul” (March 2008; 19 pgs.; online: http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonMoreReasonsCritique.pdf). html: http://robgagnon.net/homosexStacyJohnsonMoreReasonsCritique.htm . Also: “Part III: Science, Nature, History, and Logic” (Mar. 2008; 16 pgs.; online: http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonMoreReasons3.pdf). html: http://robgagnon.net/homosexStacyJohnsonMoreReasons3.htm  

“More than ‘Mutual Joy’: Lisa Miller of Newsweek against Scripture and Jesus” (Dec. 2008; 26 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexNewsweekMillerResp.pdf). html: http://www.robgagnon.net/NewsweekMillerHomosexResp.htm  

“What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues” (Mar. 14, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexScripReallySays.doc.pdf).  

“Why Homosexual Behavior Is More like Consensual Incest and Polyamory than Race or Gender: A Reasoned and Reasonable Case for Secular Society” (May 22, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexIncestPolyAnalogy.pdf).

 

From: W O'Donnell
Sent: Fri 12/11/2009 9:40 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: Flawed premise

Forgive me, Dr. Gagnon - it was a typo.
 
I found your opening statement amusing, as it was not truly my intention to outdo you academically in Theology - I am a now a scientist, who happens to hold a large theological and scriptural background, critical historical methodology (I adore Helmut Koester).  
 
Although I do not have the Ivy League background such as you, I am still quite proud of my Jesuit education, and to have able to study with some of the most renowned scripture scholars in the U.S.  Many of my teachers hold Th.Ds from the Ivy League Tradition. You comment, however it was motivated, seems like it was meant to show that my education is lesser than yours.  I hope your classroom students do not suffer from your arrogance.
 
After reviewing several articles on the internet, your critical response of Robin Scroggs work (with whom I did study for a semester in Chicago0, and your critical rebuttal to Walter Winks disagreement of your academic scholarship in scripture, I believe that I have discovered the motivation behind your scholarship.  You are a fundamentalist.
 
I know that you are correct about the Jewish tradition finding homosexuality an abomination - why would two women or two men hold a loving, sexual relationship when they could be no children?  Nationalistic pride and religious pride and arrogance must mean the Jewish people to go on!  Long live the race!  We must increase our numbers to continue our narrow minded nationalism!
 
At the same time you brought forth perfect "unity" of the male/female relationship.   All the parts fit!  The sex cannot be any other way.  I have news for your - heterosexual relationships perform all the the same "unatural," kinky" acts that your seem to think homosexuals consistantly engage in.  There is a lot more to sexuality than your books discuss.  Have you rented a homosexual porn lately?
 
I have no interest in denying your academic premise that homoerotic behavior was not a repulsive idea to the Jews, but there is more to human sexuality than you think or are willing to admit. Some of them may have been self-hating homosexuals.  Christianity, however, developed with the Greco-Roman influence, each culture desparately clinging to the past and unwilling to get rid of their ancient cultures.
 
It is believed by Christians that Jesus know exactly who he was and how he expected the world to behave.  It this issue were truly important he had no reason not to voice everything that he needed to say.  Perhaps he understood the human condition more than any man alive, and this was just simply not an issue.
 
Your statement as follows is absurd: "
Paul’s clear appeal to the creation texts, his use of a nature argument based on male-female complementarity, his emphasis on the mutuality of the acts, and his indictment of lesbianism also indicate that a non-exploitative homosexual unions would (of course) have been rejected by him, and by Jesus who predicated his view on the essential ‘twoness’ of a sexual union on the essential twoness of the sexes, “male and female” (Gen 1:27) or “man” and “woman” (Gen 2:24).
 
Perhaps your are not giving Jesus his academic credentials. Do you think Jesus never considered that gay people have no choice.  Or this must be another flawed premise of yours.  However, I am an atheist, so I do not know how your work would benefit a loving Christian.
 
I am glad that I don't need to concern myself with it, but this correspondence has been fun!   Thank you!
 
William 
 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Saturday, December 12, 2009 12:10 PM
To: W O'Donnell
Subject: RE: Flawed premise
 

William, 

Owing to time considerations I will keep this brief. 

1. Your "suffer from your arrogance" comment is a clear case of projection, since arrogance saturates your two correspondences to me. My mention of my own credentials was only to show you that your lengthy description of your credentials was of no importance to me. What mattered, I noted, was what arguments you had, which were very little. To paraphrase the apostle Paul, if you want to boast of your credentials (as you say: "I am quite proud") I can boast more, but that would be absurd since what counts is the case that one can make. 

2. As for my motivation being that of a fundamentalist, you are confused. Since I use the full array of historical-critical tools and am not an inerrantist, as anyone who has read my work carefully knows, I would not come under the banner of a fundamentalist, though you appear to have the makings of a fundamentalist atheist of sorts in your unreasoned convictions. A male-female prerequisite for sexual relations is by every measure a core value of biblical ethics (pervasive, absolute, strongly held, counter-culturally held, the basis for other ethical standards like monogamy and anti-incest laws).

3. To restrict ancient Israel's opposition to homosexual practice to an inability to procreate is like restricting opposition to adult-consensual incest only in cases where procreation is a possibility. Procreation issues are the symptom of the root problem: too much formal or structural identity between the participants, not enough complementary otherness. The high birth-defects that arise in incestuous procreation arises from the fact that there is too much kinship identity among the parents; the latter is the real problem, the former the symptom. Even when procreation does not occur, the problem with the incest (even of an adult-consensual sort) remains. Likewise, the inability of two persons of the same sex to procreate is the symptom of the root problem of too much formal identity, here on the level of gender. 

4. Whatever sex acts heterosexuals or homosexuals perform, the fact remains that a man's sexual "other half," complement, or counterpart is a woman and vice versa. You seem to miss this point. It is partly anatomy, but also physiology and psychology. Man and woman differ in ways that moderate the extremes of, and fill in the gaps of, the other sex. Homoerotic pairings, lacking a true sexual complement, do not generally produce the same result. In addition, there is something problematic about being erotically aroused by the very body parts and gender essence of one's own sex; in effect, sexual narcissism. But it is also a case of sexual self-deception and self-dishonor because it treats one's gender or sex as only half intact: two half-males uniting to form a single whole male, two half-females uniting to form a single whole female. The logic of a heterosexual union makes sense, for what is lacking in essential maleness (so far as gender is concerned) is essential femaleness and vice versa. The two halves of the sexual spectrum unite to form a single sexual whole, where each party desires what one is not in terms of sex or gender rather than what one already is and has. 

5. You have missed my point about Jesus. Please reread what I said and the material I referred you to. The issue of choice as regards the mere feeling of impulses is irrelevant to the question of ascertaining morality since all behavior, at some level, can be traced to differences in brain structure and process. Most men are "polysexual" but that doesn't validate polyamory for society (at least we don't yet issue marriage licenses for 3 or more persons). Pedophiles have as little choice as homosexual persons in their impulses but that doesn't validate the behavior in question. People may not be responsible for what they feel but they are responsible for what they do with what they feel. Same-sex erotic unions are structurally incompatible irrespective of choice as regards the mere experience of an impulse. Most sinful impulses, in fact, are innate; the innateness doesn't make it any less sinful. That is why Jesus demanded of disciples that they take up their cross, deny themselves, and lose their lives. That's why he could compare men who renounce sexual relations for the sake of the kingdom of God to "born eunuchs." 

Much more could be said but I have to gauge the value of spending the extra time, given the law of diminishing returns.

Blessings, 

Robert Gagnon

 

From: W O'Donnell
Sent: Saturday, December 12, 2009 1:01 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: Flawed premise

Your science is incorrect.  Incest can produce correct individuals who are fully capable of loving and being loved. The damage to these humans come from the projected images of people like you!

There is no such thing as evil, and no one is beset by sin.  Human failure is a philosophy that has beset thinkers for the better part of 10 centuries. Sin is a construct of humans.
 
There is nothing about you that is academic.  You are a hack. 
 
William

[Note to readers: William's endorsement of incest, denial of the existence of evil and sin, and angry ad hominem attacks unaccompanied by reasoned argumentation need no response.]

From: W O'Donnell [mailto:wjodonnell@hotmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, March 21, 2010 10:25 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: Flawed premise
 

It would be fun to download your laptop files. 
 
You are a total fag - and spend your life thinking about male penetration.
 
Log that, B____. [expletive] 


 

A note of thanks

From: K.
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 1:16 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Thank you for writing the Book "The Bible and Homosexual Practice"
 

Shalom Dr. Gagnon: 

I just want to write and tell you how grateful I am for the book you wrote.  

1. It told me the truth of God.

2. It conveyed the love, mercy, grace, and hope of God to restore me to the true me that God intended.

3. It sets me free from the lies of the media and false scientific reports.

4. Most importantly, it strengthened me to leave forever my lesbian life behind. 

I am currently studying _________________ at _______________ Seminary at _________________.

I pray that one day I will be able to glorify God also in sexual redemption ministry in Asia.  

God bless you and your family. 

Sincerely,
K.

 


 

Questions from a student regarding the issue's importance and the authority of Scripture

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 11:08 AM
To: Patrick
Subject: RE: Questions from a college student concerning homosexuality and the Bible.
 

Dear Patrick, 

I am going to refer you to material that I have in print or on the web. See comments below. Blessings on your research. 

Dr. Gagnon 

 

From: Patrick
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 8:38 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Questions from a college student concerning homosexuality and the Bible.
 

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

I am a senior at ____________, a small __________ liberal arts college just south of __________. I am currently taking a class entitled "___________________". I am in the process now of writing a research essay on the topic of homosexuality and the Bible. I just recently finished your book Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views. I find both your and Dan Via's analysis and interpretation of the Bible to be quite fascinating. One question I cannot help but ask my self is why homosexuality is such a "hot topic" in Biblical debate?

RG: In addition to the articles that I cite below see:

“More than ‘Mutual Joy’: Lisa Miller of Newsweek against Scripture and Jesus” (Dec. 2008; 26 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexNewsweekMillerResp.pdf).

html: http://www.robgagnon.net/NewsweekMillerHomosexResp.htm

 

Another question that we have been addressing through out the course of the semester is the authority of the Bible in today's world. If possible, I was wondering - given your scholarship in the area, if you would be able to answer a few questions of mine to aid me in the writing of my essay.

1. Why, in your opinion, do you believe homosexuality and the Bible is such a popular topic? What makes it stand out against other prohibitions in the Bible?

See:

How Bad Is Homosexual Practice According to Scripture and Does Scripture’s Indictment Apply to Committed Homosexual Unions?” (Jan. 2007, Dec. 2007; 11 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/HomosexHowBadIsIt.pdf). 

html: http://www.robgagnon.net/HowBadIsHomosexualPractice.htm  

 “Why Homosexual Behavior Is More like Consensual Incest and Polyamory than Race or Gender: A Reasoned and Reasonable Case for Secular Society” (May 22, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexIncestPolyAnalogy.pdf).  


2. Why does it seem that some texts have more authority than others? Why is it that same sex relationships are prohibited so strongly but others like mixing garments are not?

See:

“Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice? A Response to Myers and Scanzoni, What God Has Joined Together?Reformed Review 59 (2005): 19-130 (online: http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/gagnon_autm05_0.pdf), 41-45, 53-54. [Table of Contents at: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoReformedReviewTableCont.pdf]  

Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, 41-42. 

Robert A. J. Gagnon, “Case Not Made: A Response to Prof. John Thorp’s ‘Making the Case’ for Blessing Homosexual Unions in the Anglican Church of Canada” (June 2007; 30 pgs.; online: http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexThorpCanadaResp.pdf; reprinted as “A Faithful Church: The Bible and Same-Sex Sex” in God, Gays and the Church (eds. L. Nolland, C. Sugden, and S. Finch; London: Latimer Trust, 2008), 107-38. See pp. 4-7 in the online article. 

“What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues” (Mar. 14, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexScripReallySays.doc.pdf).  


3. What sparked your interest in the study of homosexuality and the Bible? Why do you feel the need to write on the topic?

See my first book:

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, 31-37.

4. What authority does/should the Bible have today? How do we deal with the context in which it was written and bring it into today's society? Is the Bible a complete authoritative power?

See:

“The Authority of Scripture in the ‘Homosex’ Debate” (June 2002, 12 pgs.; online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoAuthorityScripture.pdf).

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or responses on the questions above. I am the first to say I am by no means a Biblical scholar, thus if some of my questions are not phrased correctly please excuse any mistakes I may have made.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Patrick
__________________, Class of 2010

 


 

A Response to My "Back to the Oppressive Future" Article

From: [Bowdoin Female Student]
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 9:20 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Reply from a Bowdoin Student
 

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

I was not able to attend your recent talk at Bowdoin, but have seen the reflections piece you wrote about the experience, and I just had a few things to say in response.  First of all let me say that I identify as a Christian, and attended [a Christian high school], where I recieved a lot of theological education; I definitely understand where you are coming from in the piece you read.  That being said, I just wanted to present a more positive image of the place of gender and sexuality education at Bowdoin College, and express what I have learend as a Christian woman for being there.   

Before I went to Bowdoin, I didn't have a whole lot of contact with people identifying as homosexuals, being in a relatively conservative environment.  Once I choose to go to Bowdoin, a New England liberal arts college, that certainly changed.  At first I was somewhat conflicted in how to respond to homosexuality in such a liberal environment, but the impression I did get from Bowdoin was not that I couldn't express my moral ambiguity (which I had held before entering Bowdoin, being somewhat liberal by nature), I actually did express this on a few occasions, it was that to say something hurtful offensive, such as using offensive slurs relating to homosexuality, was unacceptable.  I feel that this does fall within the strictures of Free Speech, as I was able to express my views as long as my language was not offensive or threatening (and I do believe that using slurs as insults can be threatening) was unacceptable.  I think this kind of language is unacceptable for Christians anyways, regardless of what the law or campus policies say, and from reading your article I am confident you agree with me here. 

I was also soon to have my own experience with hateful language.  [She then goes to relate an incident where she called students to account for homosexual slurs and classist rhetoric, and was verbally attacked for doing so.]  I was deeply shocked and hurt by all of the backlash, and the support I recieved from Allen DeLong, Kate Stern (director of the Queer Trans Resource Center) and David Collings (Professor of Gay and Lesbians Studies) was an incredible source of comfort for me in that situation, honestly words can't even express what it meant to me.  [... This was] an encouragement to respect fellow students, which for me does not conflict with Christian values. 

So I will finish off my long-winded email by answering the question "How does being at Bowdoin affect my beliefs about the morality of sexuality?"  I don't identify as homosexual, so I don't think I am an authoritative voice; after all  I have plenty of my own sins.  What I have learned at Bowdoin is that there are many wonderful, loving people who identify as homosexuals and it is my job to love and respect them, and God's job to judge them.  Thank you for your time, and I hope I have been able to present a more positive picture of Bowdoin than your initial impressions.

Sincerely,

[Bowdoin student]  

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 5:27 PM
To: [Bowdoin Student]
Subject: RE: Reply from a Bowdoin Student
 

Dear __________, 

Thank you for your informative note. I appreciate what you went through. 

I can see why you would receive support from DeLong et al.; you were criticizing homosexual slurs and they would certainly want to support that criticism. 

However, this example does not show how DeLong et al. would react in an exemplary way to persons who state that homosexual practice per se is immoral and make the statement in loving concern for the fate of those who engage in such behavior. I have seen firsthand how DeLong et al. would react to such statements and it is not pretty. 

You say: “What I have learned at Bowdoin is that there are many wonderful, loving people who identify as homosexuals and it is my job to love and respect them, and God's job to judge them.” 

I don’t doubt that there are persons who engage in homosexual acts who in other respects are nice. We all compartmentalize our lives. [I know someone who] counseled pedophiles in a maximum security male prison for years and she said that, apart from prison garb, you couldn’t tell them from any other nice person. They included Sunday School teachers, etc. Now I’m not saying that homosexual practice is as bad as pedophilia. I’m just pointing out if even pedophiles can, in other respects, be nice people, why would I think that there are no nice persons who engage in homosexual practice? I don’t believe that persons who live out of same-sex attractions howl at the moon as though “moral werewolves.” But neither do I think that niceness in other areas validates the homosexual behavior. The same would apply to nice persons who engage in adult-committed polyamory or incest. 

When you say that it is your job to love and respect persons who engage in homosexual practice and God’s job to judge them, you overlook several points. First, love includes reproof, as Jesus himself established and as the context for the “love your neighbor as yourself” command in Lev 19:18 makes clear. One can’t reprove without making moral judgments. Second, you yourself make judgments on all sorts of issues. When you criticized those who uttered homosexual slurs and classist language you made moral judgments. You didn’t just say: It’s my job to love them and God’s job to judge them, as if you had to live in a world of moral relativism. Third, God (and his emissaries, including Jesus) has declared, quite clearly throughout the pages of Scripture that homosexual practice is wrong, as is incest and (in the NT) polygyny (multiple wives) and adultery and many other offenses. So we can’t pretend that God has withheld revealing this judgment until the Day of Judgment. Remember Paul’s frustrated comment when dealing with the Corinthian church’s tolerance of the incestuous man? “Is it not those inside the church that you are to judge?” The answer to that question is not “no,” but “yes.” Fourth, one of the “jobs” of God’s people is to warn people not to engage in behavior that puts them at risk of not inheriting an eternal relationship with God. If you had a child (I don’t know whether you do or don’t) and your child was about to touch a hot stove, you wouldn’t as a parent say, “It’s not up to me to tell my child that touching a hot stove is harmful; it is up to me to love and respect my child.” If you did, state social services would take your child away from you. By the same token, it is our obligation as believers to expose the lie perpetrated by those promoting homosexual behavior that this is all in God’s will and that those who oppose this view are a bunch of hateful, ignorant bigots. 

These are some reflections that I have about your email, which I appreciate receiving from you. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon


 

Questions about the inconsistency of opposing "gay marriage" while supporting homosexual "domestic partnership" and "sexual orientation" laws

The next two sets of correspondence deal with my online article, "An Open Letter to the Leaders of Stand for Marriage Maine" (Nov. 4, 2009).

From: N_______________
Sent: Thursday, November 05, 2009 8:26 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: Comment on the Maine Gay Marriage Vote

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

   Thank you for the updates on your efforts in Maine and the controversies at Bowdoin.  We praise the Lord that, at least for now, the forces of morality and order seemed to have prevailed over the movement for sexual anarchy.  I admire your courage in taking your arguments to any forum, no matter how hostile.  

   I had a couple of questions for you, that I have been pondering since your visit here to ____________.  

   1.  The first has to do with your post below, about giving up the long-term battle by allowing for civil unions and other same-sex benefits short of marriage.  I have long pondered this question, and have wondered whether this might be akin to the Bible having rules regulating slavery as an institution.  You and I would agree that the Bible in no way endorsed slavery, or viewed it as a positive institution.  Rather, God through the Bible apparently saw that slavery was one of those institutions that, due to sin and fallen human nature, would persist for long periods of human history.  In his mercy, he passed laws mitigating and minimizing the suffering caused by this institution.
    Similarly, I have wondered if we should not allow for laws that minimize the human suffering and difficulties posed by same-sex relationships.  Whatever the state of the law, there will be people who choose to live together in same-sex unions, some in committed, long-term relationships.  Should we really opposed the notion that these “couples” should not be able to visit each other in hospital, or be able to pass their property under the law, or perhaps even share health insurance and benefits?  It seems that allowing this would minimize the suffering caused by an otherwise wrong institution, much as in the case of slavery.  I would draw the line at allowing adoption by such couples, as a primary civil reason for me in not allowing gay marriage is the impact on children by not having male and female role models, and being raised in seriously compromised moral environments.  But other benefits, such as health-care, insurance, hospital visitation, and testamentary benefits seem to me not to threaten others, and neither does it seem to create the same kind of moral endorsement of the behavior as would extending the recognition of marriage.   Any thoughts on this?  Even God himself gave laws to regulate polyamory, in passing laws regulating polygamy, e.g., cannot marry sisters, etc.

  2.  I found your presentations truly Biblically-based and grace-filled, and was deeply blessed by them.  Your presentation about the “re-union” of the male and the female to rejoin the original, undifferentiated Adam, which was both male and female, was a unique and original thought that I had not previously encountered.  I think you make a compelling case that the “two-ness” principle is absolutely limited to male and female.  I was somewhat surprised, though, that you did not take the next step and talk about the basing of this twoness not merely in the undifferentiated Adam, but one step further back to the image of God itself.  This seems to me to be the ultimate foundation of the importance of the complementary twoness, not something inherent in humanity, but inherent in God, the full image of God being expressed in the combination of male and female.  As Gen. 1:27 says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  The text teaches that the image of God is made up of the male and female.  Thus, for us to combine the male and the male, or the female and female, is to deface the image of God, to create an image of God in purely feminine or masculine, which is incomplete, and ultimately idolatrous and blasphemous, as we are creating God in our incomplete image, rather than in the complementary image that He has revealed Himself to be.  Thus, the homosexual claims do not just undercut God’s plan for man, but undercut God’s own revelations about who He is, and the main image that He uses (apart from Christ, I suppose) to reveal His makeup and characteristics to the world. Perhaps these ideas are more fully developed in your 4 hour presentation, as I know we gave you very limited time here at ___________, but I do view this as quite fundamental to the theological side of the discussion, and wanted to get your thoughts on it.

Blessings in your continued efforts and ministries.  You made a truly significant and positive impact on our campus.

Your friend,

N_______________

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 2:30 PM
To: N______________
Subject: RE: Comment on the Maine Gay Marriage Vote
 

Hi N_________, 

On your questions: 

  1. I don’t think that we can pass the kinds of laws that you mention without making gay marriage a fait accompli. You would like to stop shy of adoption; I don’t think that in practice it works that way. Note too that domestic partnership laws do not allow for multiple, concurrent domestic partners (polyamory) or close-kin partners (incest). Why should homosexual domestic partnerships be privileged over adult-committed polyamorous or incestuous unions? It should rather be the reverse since homosexual practice is a more foundational violation of the male-female prerequisite. And yet I meet few proponents of domestic partner benefits for same-sex unions that would like to expand the law to include polyamory and incest. Why the reluctance? Because they know that such laws send a clear signal that the sexual relationship in question has at least a second-tier validity. I don’t think the analogy of OT accommodation to polygamy works well inasmuch as the analogy goes in the opposite direction from the point of comparison: Scripture moves from some allowance as regards polygamy to (in the NT) no allowance (to a lesser, but similar, extent the same point can be made about slavery). You are suggesting we move, as regards homosexual practice, in the opposite direction: from no allowance to some limited allowance or at least accommodation. Moreover, the supposition of extending some benefits to homosexual relationships underestimates the degree to which such relationships are offensive to God and are repulsively contrary to nature. Homosexual relationships are far worse than polyamory, worse even than adultery (isn’t it unfair not to allow health benefits and inheritance laws to extend to one’s mistress?), and comparable to, or more likely worse than, the worst forms of adult-incest (e.g., a man and his mother). The state should not in any way want to be accommodating to homosexual unions. It should do everything it can in terms of persuasion (short of violence and incarceration, of course) to discourage such unions. Accommodation as regards property rights and health-care legislation sends a highly mixed message on the question of societal endorsement. It is also unfair to other relationships. After all, I have a couple of very close male friends. Why shouldn’t my health insurance extend to them, or to an unemployed adult sibling? As regards hospital visits, I think hospitals should allow every patient the right to a designate any persons of his or her choosing, up to a maximum number, to receive full visitation rights. But when same-sex “domestic partners” alone are singled out for marriage-like benefits it again sends the wrong message. As regards property rights, a person, I believe, can will their property to anyone. The only question is whether special tax breaks given to family members will apply. The state gives certain special inheritance rights to families because it wants to encourage the institutions of marriage and family. Opening up such benefits to homosexual relationships sends the bad message that we want to encourage such sexual unions. The bottom line: every vote for domestic partnership benefits for homosexual unions is a vote for gay marriage to come within 10-20 years. To underscore this point see the following article: Thomas M. Messner, "ENDA and the Path to Same-Sex Marriage" at http://www.heritage.org/Research/religion/bg2317.cfm.

 

  1. Here is what I have written about Gen 1:27 in a recent piece:

Genesis 1:27 brings into close connection “the image of God” and creation of humans as “male and female”: “in the image of God he (God) created [the human]; male and female he created them.” The language of Gen 1:27 suggests two points of importance. First, though animals too participate in sexual differentiation and pairing, human sexual differentiation and pairing is uniquely integrated into God’s image. This makes it possible for humans to enhance or to efface that image through their sexual behavior. The alternative is to argue, falsely, that one’s sexuality is wholly disconnected from God’s image, thereby making it possible for one to engage in every kind of sexual misbehavior, including adultery, bestiality, and pedophilia, without doing any harm to the imprint of God’s image. Secondly, a male-female sexual pairing manifests the fullness of the imprint of God’s image on the sexual dimension of human life. While male and female each bear the stamp of God’s image on their sexuality and have independent integrity as such, they do so as “angular” and complementary expressions of that image. Since male and female combined constitute the totality of the sexual spectrum it is axiomatic that the union of male and female establishes a sexual whole. This wholeness exists even in the absence of procreation. It is certainly the case that the narrator of Genesis 1 in his historical context did not regard an infertile male-female union as the equivalent of a same-sex sexual union. [bold added]      

I think that this is at least similar to the position that you put forward. Please see also what I have to say in The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 57-59.

Blessings, 

Rob 

 


From: Tim
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 11:19 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: Comment on the Maine Gay Marriage Vote
 

Excuse me, I don't understand.  Are you saying that those who led and helped in the effort to overturn the gay marriage bill somehow surrendered the foundation of their own position?  I have friends in Portland who certainly did everything they could in this effort, and I cannot imagine them compromising the Biblical foundation of their position. 

Tim

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 2:58 PM
To: Tim
Subject: RE: Comment on the Maine Gay Marriage Vote
 

Hi Tim, 

I am not questioning anyone’s intent or effort. I am saying that any Christian who, in the course of working to defeat the “gay marriage” bill, provided endorsement for homosexual “domestic partnership” benefits and “sexual orientation” laws, sowed the seeds of ultimate defeat for efforts to get rid of “gay marriage.” Imagine if I worked tirelessly to stop state endorsement of polygamy or incestuous marriage but then expressed support for “domestic partnership” benefits for sexual unions involving 3 or more persons concurrently or involving close kin and, further, promoted laws that established such unions as “civil rights” and opposition to such unions as “prejudice.” Would I not have undermined my position against polygamy and incestuous marriage? Of course. The same thing happened as regards homosexual unions when Stand for Marriage Maine put out a commercial and took public positions supporting homosexual domestic partnerships and “sexual orientation” “civil rights” laws. One cannot say simultaneously, at least not in a consistent manner, both that “gay marriage” is wrong and that homosexual unions should be treated as marriages are treated. 

Blessings, 

Rob 

From: Tim
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 4:05 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: Comment on the Maine Gay Marriage Vote


Thank you for replying.

I was not aware that "Stand for Marriage Maine put out a commercial and took public positions supporting homosexual domestic partnerships and “sexual orientation” “civil rights” laws."

Not knowing that, I did not understand your comment.  Now I do.  Again, thank you for the explanation.

Tim

 


 

Problems with Andrew Marin's Love Is an Orientation

From: GH
Sent: Wed 10/28/2009 1:10 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Love is an Orientation

Dear Dr. Gagnon, 

I was at the Exodus conference and heard you at the general session. Because of other commitments, I was unable to attend one of your workshops. But I’m intrigued by the idea that you can prove the Bible says homosexuality is always wrong. I believe that myself, but I’m in the process of reading the book, Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin. Marin moved into the Boystown district of Chicago and ministers to the gay community. His stance is that if they’re gay and monogamous and Christian, they’re going to heaven. That wasn’t his original premise, but he seems to have adapted to their way of thinking. Some have told him that God had brought them out of a gay lifestyle, and he agrees with that as well. His main theme is if a person is growing in their relationship with Christ – let Him tell them what to do with their sexuality. 

Then he goes into pro-gay theology in chapter 7. He’s trying to build a bridge between conservative Christianity and the gay community, but he adapts their theology. So, I think he’s perhaps confused. He makes points about Genesis, Leviticus, Romans, I Corinthians and I Timothy that I haven’t heard before, and I can see how convincing they became to him in his understanding of this community. 

If you review this book (or, perhaps you already have), I’d like to see your rebuttal to his arguments. One big reason I’m asking is because my son, who came out of a gay lifestyle some years ago, is a proponent of this way of thinking, and I’m concerned he’s be deceived. He sent me this book to read, and I want to have some solid answers when I respond to what it’s all about. 

Thanks for considering this possibility. If you’re at the next Exodus conference, I’ll be sure to attend your sessions. By the way, I would like to be included on your mailing list. 

God bless you, 

GH

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 2:24 PM
To: GH
Subject: RE: Love is an Orientation
 

Dear G________, 

I have not read Marin's book but have heard enough to indicate to me that he is not a reliable guide. At some point I will need to respond [see now this] but at present I have other obligations. 

You may want to start by reading this online piece by me:

“What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues” (Mar. 14, 2009; 7 pgs.; online: http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexScripReallySays.doc.pdf).  

"Let God tell them what to do with their sexuality"? If this is Marin's position he is way off. There is no other form of egregious sexual immorality that the Church has pledged not to bring up to church members engaged in it. Homosexual practice is viewed in Scripture, early Judaism, and Christianity as severe as, or more so, adult-consensual incest and adultery. Should we say nothing to believers engaged in such behavior. That certainly wasn't Paul's approach. Read 1 Cor 5 on the case of the incestuous man. 

Marin says that a person who is in a committed monogamous homosexual union and is "growing in Christ" will go to heaven? By definition, if they are in such a union they are not, in the main, growing in Christ. Again, by Marin's rationale, Paul should have assured the Corinthians that the incestuous man would be going to heaven as long as he kept the relationship with his stepmother committed and monogamous and kept growing in other areas of his life. Instead, he indicated that such person, along with "men who lie with a male" and "adulterers," will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9). Why should I believe Marin, who obviously doesn't know his Scripture well, and not Paul the apostle to the Gentiles who has the lion's share of texts within the canon of New Testament Scripture?  

Remember that John the Baptist got beheaded for criticizing Herod Antipas for violating incest law by having his brother's wife. So John must have really been laying on the criticism. 

Paul's remarks in Rom 1:24-27 certainly do include committed homosexual relationships. This is clear enough from the echo to Gen 1:26-27, the nature argument based on male-female complementarity that he uses, the indictment of lesbianism in 1:26, the reference to reciprocal affections in 1:27, the fact that committed homosexual relationships were known in the ancient world (even semi-official marriages and yet some Greco-Roman moralists as well as the rabbis and the Church Fathers could condemn even these as contrary to nature and indecent), and the fact that the offender group "men who lie with a male" is a term formulated from the absolute Levitical prohibitions (i.e., which were interpreted absolutely in early Judaism). 

Hope this helps for now. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon 

 


 

To a self-identified Christian who thinks that I am being hypocritical if I do not equally strongly oppose "hate crime" protections for religion

From: Todd O'Bryan
Sent: Sat 8/1/2009 1:16 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Your quote

Professor Gagnon,

"The attempt of recent "hate crime" legislation to place "sexual
orientation" and "gender identity" alongside race and gender is
logically misguided and dangerous. A much closer analogy is one
between homosexual practice on the one hand and consensual
(adult-committed) incest and polyamory on the other."   -Robert Gagnon

I'm not going to attempt to address the meat of your quote, since our
assumptions about sexual orientation and gender identity are so
distinct as to make any conversation almost incomprehensible on both
sides.

However, I would like to point out that, in addition to race and
gender, most hate crime legislation also protects people from being
singled out based on the religion they practice. Based on your beliefs
about homosexuality, this long-standing aspect of hate crime
legislation would seem to be the closest analogue to sexual
orientation and gender identity.

There is no one anywhere who would argue that "religious orientation"
or "religious identity" is anything other than a choice, and most
people are absolutely convinced that people who choose different
religions are in error, both morally and ethically. I suppose one
could argue that religious choice is a matter of pre-destination, but
then any arguments you might make as a theologian have no power to
move the unelected into the category of the elect or vice versa, so
you could spend your time more profitably feeding the poor or at least
not wasting so many trees on useless rhetoric.

In spite of the complete absence of any evidence that there's a
genetic predisposition for a particular denomination, we as a society
believe that one should have the right to practice one's religion
without fear of discrimination. In addition, when people commit crimes
that exhibit religious antipathy, we hold them to a higher level of
accountability.

Surely, based on your assumptions, you can't believe that hate crime
protections for Muslims, Hindus, or practitioners of Voodoo are more
logical or compelling than those for gays, lesbians, or transgendered
persons. You seem to argue that homosexual behavior represents
rebellion against the natural order ordained by the Creator, but
surely the worshiping of other gods is just as offensive to the
jealous God we both affirm.

So, I urge you to pursue the eradication of hate crime protections for
practitioners of false religions just as adamantly as you pursue its
eradication for sexual minorities. Not to do so would be to brand
yourself an opportunist and a hypocrite. It would be like arguing
vociferously against same-sex marriage without as vociferously
condemning divorce and remarriage in the heterosexual world.

Yours in Christ,
Todd O'Bryan

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Tuesday, August 04, 2009 2:19 AM
To: Todd O'Bryan
Subject: RE: Your quote
 

Todd, 

I don't agree with the case you made, and neither would you if you used proper analogical reasoning. 

By your own logic, persons should find hate-crime legislation regarding religious beliefs as (or more) offensive than hate-crime legislation for persons who engage in incest, polyamory, adultery, bestiality, and pedophilia because "surely the worshiping of other gods is just as offensive to the jealous God we both affirm." Is that really what you want to argue? Think about it. Do you see some merit in civil society distinguishing between beliefs that people have about who the true God is on the one hand and forms of behavior on the other hand?  

Take the situation with Mormons in the late 19th century. Christians strongly disagreed with the Mormon view of God and dozens of God-related beliefs; but recognized the necessity of tolerance of religious beliefs in the sphere of civil society while drawing the line on not allowing polygamy. Having "sexual orientation" legislation that would provide special state protections of those engaged in polygamy, protections that would lead down the road to eradicating state endorsement of the twoness of a marital bond, is far more problematic in a civil or state context than special protection for Mormon beliefs.  

Another example: Should employers be able to take into consideration, negatively, a man's marriage to two or more wives concurrently or a man's marriage to his mother or sister or a man's repetitive infidelity to his wife, when considering "white collar" promotion for at least some types of jobs? I think "yes" (and I presume you, if reasonable, would think the same). Yet I don't think that a Mormon who is monogamous (and, of course, the LDS Mormon church has officially rejected polygamy for over a century) but holds beliefs about Christ and God and eschatology that I find highly problematic should have career advancement inhibited on the grounds of such belief. The state has more of a stake in not providing incentives for immoral behaviors as opposed to wrong religious beliefs. 

Equally unconvincing is your attempt to compare "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" with religion rather than race, ethnicity, and sex. I have made the case as to why adult-committed homosexual unions have their closest analogues in adult-committed incest and polyamory. See  http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexIncestPolyAnalogy.pdf. You certainly have provided no reasoned basis for thinking otherwise (nor has anyone else). Five of the six protected categories of the bill have to do with innate conditions; religion is the only category that does not. In addition, it is supporters of homosexual practice and transgenderism who are all the time making comparisons with race and sex, not religion. Why is that important? Because these are the persons that are going to implement enforcement of this bill and others like it. When they start comparing "homophobia" (a bad term: is there an incest-phobia? or a polyphobia?) to racism, then the measures taken to stamp out the negative attitudes toward homosexual practice become more aggressive. I think that reasonable people tend to regard racist views as more virulent for the governance of society than strong disagreements about religious beliefs.  

Your statement that "Based on your beliefs about homosexuality, this long-standing aspect of hate crime legislation [i.e. the protection of religion] would seem to be the closest analogue to sexual orientation and gender identity" doesn't hold. First, it presumes falsely that I believe that same-sex attraction itself, not just the construction of a "gay" identity, is something freely chosen (another indication that you know very little about my views). Second, it ignores the main point of my comparison with incest and polyamory: sexual desire and intercourse with persons who are structurally or bodily discordant in relation to oneself, a consideration that transcends the question of choice and sexual desires. As I have argued in the article cited above and many other places, absolute opposition to incest and polyamory is itself derivative of absolute opposition to homosexual practice (or, positively put, a two-sexes prerequisite for sexual relations). An adult-committed sexual relationship with someone who is too much of an embodied "same" on the level of kinship is a much closer analogue to an adult-committed sexual relationship with someone who is too much of an embodied "same" on the level of sex or gender than is an alleged analogy to religious beliefs. Likewise the fact that the essential twoness of the sexual bond (i.e. that there should be no more than two persons in a sexual union at any one time) is based on the duality or twoness of the sexes, "male and female" as a complementary sexual pair (so Jesus), makes polyamory a much closer analogue to homosexual practice than religious beliefs (which are not a sexual impulse for discordant sexual activity, or even an impulse at all). 

For the record I don't think there should be "hate crime" laws for anything, including race and religion (and I say this as someone who is in a racially mixed marriage and has racially mixed children). I think that there should be laws that prosecute people for engaging in violent acts against others, not laws that add additional criminal penalties for what people believe. We see some problems that have already developed in Europe and Canada over hate-crime statutes for religion. I certainly do not approve of the notion that my view of Jesus as the Way is a "prejudice." On the whole, though, hate-crime religious statutes haven't proved as problematic in the civil sphere (there are various reasons for this) as hate-crime laws for "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."  

As regards your divorce analogy, you might as well say that it is hypocritical to allow some divorce-remarriage while having absolute strictures against adult-committed incest or polyamory. Put simply, divorce-remarriage has always been considered in the Christian tradition (and logically so) as a lesser offense than incest, polyamory, and adultery, with homosexual practice worse than all of these. You can't move logically from permissiveness in a lesser offense to permissiveness in a greater offense. 

Sincerely, 

Rob

 


 

To a self-identified "gay Christian" who is unhappy with my work

[A person by the name of Stephen Worthington wrote me, expressing disagreement with my stance. I spliced into his remarks my own comments, prefaced with "RG."]

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wed 7/8/2009 6:08 PM
To: Stephen Worthington
Subject: RE: A few notes on your views.

Dear Stephen, 

Comments interspersed below. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon

 

From: Stephen Worthington
Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2009 2:51 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: A few notes on your views.

Hello, 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, as I have taken the time to read your views. 

I am a gay Christian myself, or rather I am a Christian who is gay as my relationship with Jesus Christ is first and foremost in my life. I have, as yet, not had a relationship with anyone, and I am still a virgin, and wish to remain that way until I am in a committed, lifetime relationship. I am not alone in this, and there are many, many gay Christians who are also waiting for the right person to come along before they make bigger choices about their sex lives.  

I am not going to mention any of the theology that you have been debating; not because I am not familiar with it (because I am), but because, from the nature of your responses to those who have written to you previously, I can see that any theological debate would be entirely useless. I have reached my own conclusions about my sexuality, through praying deeply to God, and listening many sides of a complex argument, before reaching an informed decision. What disturbs me most, is the vast number of people that have written polite, friendly e-mails to you, only to have you aggressively attack them with your response. That is not the nature of a loving Christian, and that point most certainly IS biblical!  

RG: Please cite specific examples where I have responded to polite, friendly emails with unchristian responses. I am not aware of any. A rigorous critique of an argument does not count as an unchristian response. Indeed, my responses are rather mild compared to some of the responses that I read that Jesus, Paul, or others in the pages of Scripture gave.

 

Also, every time you go on the counter-attack, you continually bring the words “incest” and “multiple-partner” relationships into practically every discussion you have about why homosexual relationships are not justified.  

RG: The analogies to adult-committed incest and polyamory are very pertinent because, for various reasons that I have pointed out, they bear the most points of close correspondence with adult-committed homosexual unions of any analogy of which I am aware. 

 

This clearly shows how few homosexuals you have actually met. I know of countless gay men and women who want nothing except a committed, monogamous relationship with someone they love and can grow old with. I count myself among their number.  

RG: I have, of course, met homosexual persons in “committed” sexual relationships. My point is: So what? Homosexual intercourse is not indicted in Scripture in the first instance because it cannot be conducted in the context of mutual commitment between adults. It is indicted on formal grounds that the participants are not appropriate sexual complements. Moreover, the analogy that I am making is not with adult-child incest or with promiscuous sexual behavior. I am making an analogy with incestuous relationships between consensual and caring monogamous adults and with polyamorous relationships that similarly are conducted by consenting, caring adults in lifelong (non-promiscuous) bonds. To apply your argument, your problem with analogies from incest and polyamory is that you simply haven’t met enough persons engaged in committed relationships of these sorts. Presumably, if you could meet some adults in committed incestuous or polyamorous relationships you would change your view that these are such bad behaviors. I, on the other hand, would not change my views about incest and polyamory and homosexual practice even if I knew of persons in adult-committed relationships for each group (and I do know of such persons) because the formal, structural, or embodied prerequisites for appropriate sexual unions have not been met. 

 

Also, why do you use the word incest? Again, this alludes to some sort of extreme perversion. I think perhaps it might be an idea for you to go out and actually meet some gay people, because you clearly have only statistics to go by, and going entirely by qualitative data is a flawed approach for any kind of study, if it is not backed up by a good body of quantative data. 

RG: Why do you regard incest as “some sort of extreme perversion” but not homosexual practice? There is nothing intrinsic about incest that precludes it being engaged in by loving, committed, and consenting adults. But incest is an “extreme perversion” irrespective of whether it can be conducted in the context of love and commitment because it is sexual intercourse between persons who, on a structural level, are too alike, here on the level of kinship. Is this not the same problem with homosexual practice? Too much structural or embodied sameness on the part of the participants, not enough complementary otherness? You will say: But incestuous and polyamorous relationships are always harmful. Not true. Disproportionately high rates of measurable harm, to be sure. But not intrinsic measurable harm. It’s the same with homosexual practice. You just need to meet people in adult-committed incestuous and polyamorous unions to wipe away your incest-phobia and polyphobia. 

 

You say that statistics show that homosexuals generally have more sexual partners than heterosexuals. Yes, ok, that is true. However, it is also true to say that children brought up in rough, crime-riddled neighbourhoods are more likely to fall into a life of crime themselves. It does not mean that these children are inherently more wicked, but that they are simply responding to the environment in which they have been brought up in. Similarly, the vast majority of representations of gay people by the media show the “culture” that has grown up in and around the gay scene, which is generally full of promiscuous gay people, who are out for a “good” time. I find this as equally distressing as you do, but what alternative is ever shown to them? From an early age, education, both at home, and academically, conditions every child to be heterosexual, so that when a child grows up and realises that they are gay, they suddenly have nothing that they feel applies to them. They don’t fit in. So what do they naturally do? They go out on the scene, as this is the only representation of their community that they have ever heard about. Nobody has taught them that, just because they are attracted to the same sex, doesn’t mean they can’t still have the stable relationship that they are encouraged to work towards. 

RG: You attribute the significantly higher instances of promiscuity among homosexual males to cultural homophobia. And yet you don’t explain why it is that homosexual females fare far better in the department of monogamy than do homosexual males. Are you not aware that men have much higher rates of testosterone than do women and that this has a significant impact on male sexuality such that, if you put two men together in a sexual union, you don’t exactly get a recipe for monogamy? Yes, there are male homosexual unions that “beat the odds.” But that no more validates a homosexual union than does monogamy, commitment, and precautions against procreation validate an incestuous union. High rates of nonmonogamous behavior among homosexual males is not itself the root problem but merely the symptom of the root problem. The root problem is too much structural identity or sameness between the participants. The beauty of a two-sexes union is that the extremes of a given sex are moderated and gaps filled because the union is between two true sexual complements or counterparts. Sexually speaking, the true sexual complement or counterpart to a male is not another male but a female. A man erotically attracted to other males and not to women is sexually aroused by intrinsic maleness, that is, but what he already is in essence. It is as if he regards his maleness as only half-intact, needing structural supplementation by joining with another male: two half-males uniting to form a single full male. Such acts dishonor the man that God has made him to be, a whole male who lacks on the sexual spectrum essential femaleness not essential maleness. The same points can, of course, be made about lesbianism. This is why Paul specifically uses the language of "dishonoring" in his critique of homosexual practice in Rom 1:24-27. 

 

I will give you a fact. I did not choose to be gay. No doubt you believe that it is society that has pressured me into being the way I am, or an over-bearing mother or some other such nonsense. I can tell you categorically however, whether you choose to believe me or not, that I was born this way and can’t do a thing about it. As I have already told you, I have never had a relationship of any kind with anyone, so the idea that I “chose” to be gay to satisfy some perversion also does not hold water.  

RG: I believe causation factors for homosexuality are multi-factoral. These may include indirect congenital influences, postnatal biological influences, macro- and microcultural influences from one’s environment, and personal psychological predispositions. Incremental choices can be part of it but these choices are often indirect, blind choices that involve responses to socio-cultural stimuli that may, down the end of a long road, lead to greater or lesser likelihood of homosexual identification. In general, choice appears to be a bit more significant for homosexual females than homosexual males. But obviously many people with same-sex attractions, perhaps the majority, do not “manufacture” homosexual desire. They didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “Gee, I think that I will be homosexual.” But that is not the same as saying that culture exerts absolutely no influence on any homosexual development. Moreover, whether an individual chooses an impulse or not is not a moral argument. All of us are loaded are sinful impulses that we did not ask to experience. The fact that an impulse is involuntary does not disqualify the impulse from being sinful or immoral. Indeed, Paul defines sin in Romans 7 as an innate impulse passed on by an ancestor, running through the members of the human body, and never entirely within human control.  

Persons with polysexual urges (almost all men) and even persons with pedosexual desires do not generally manufacture these desires. So what? A person may not be responsible for the mere experience of impulses to do what God proscribes. They are, however, responsible for what they do with what they feel. A man has a polysexual orientation, that is, experiences sexual desires for more than one woman (or man) concurrently. He didn’t ask to have that impulse; he simply does. What then? Should he identify himself as a “polysexual” and then seek to live out of that orientation with the fewest negative side-effects, engaging in concurrent sexual unions but only in the context of long-term, adult-committed relationships? According to your logic, apparently, the answer would be yes. After all, he didn’t choose to be polysexual. And as long as you cannot prove intrinsic measurable harm to all polyamorous relationships (and you can’t) you could have no rational objection. But Jesus would have an objection. For he reasoned in Mark 10 (par. Matt 19) that the number of persons in a sexual union, whether serial or concurrent, should be limited to two. And he arrived at the number two not from thin air but from the fact that God made us “male and female” (Gen 1:27); that is, he derived the essential twoness of a sexual bond from the twoness of the sexes that comprise the bond. That means, in turn, that for him a male-female, two-sexes prerequisite for a sexual union was foundational for limiting the number of persons in a sexual union to two. And yet you, contrary to Jesus’ teaching, have gotten rid of that foundation.

 

God created me this way, and he also loves me.  

RG: God certainly loves you but it by no means follows that God “created you this way,” i.e. to have same-sex attractions as his perfect will, any more than that he created men to be (and identify themselves as) polysexuals. All of us are born with numerous impulses that God wants us to deny (I’m sure that if you take a moment you can think of dozens). That’s why Jesus tells us to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and lose our lives—not because we are born basically good but because we are born basically evil. This may scandalize you but it happens to be core Christian teaching. 

 

God loves everyone; that is one of the basic fundamental absolutes about God that no true Christian can deny. Now, the question would therefore arise that if God created me gay, and if God is a loving God, how do these two match up? Quite simply, they can’t. Why would God create me to only be able to fall in love with those who it would be a sin for me to enter into a relationship with? That doesn’t seem a very loving thing to do. Of course, you are no doubt now arguing that I have got the wrong end of the stick, and that my argument holds water up to a point, except that it actually proves that God therefore didn’t create me gay. Well, here I have to refer to science, which has proved time and time again over the last few decades that sexuality is not chosen. Yes, there are people who “dabble” with something that is against their nature, be it straight people “trying out” gay sex, or vice versa, and I believe that this is indeed damaging. But for those of us who have are genuinely, naturally, and God-created homosexuals, I can only say that the only reason many of us are still lost and unable to commit to a long-term relationship (again, I stress that this is not the case for me personally), it is because we haven’t been given any support by those who should be loving us as we are; most particularly the church. I am certain that, given the “correct” information, many gay people would come to follow Christ and change their views entirely on what constitutes a good relationship, but while the church continues to condemn and ignore, the gay community will continue to act recklessly as if nobody cares about it, because essentially that is the case. 

RG: My arguments above address your faulty premises in this paragraph. As even two homosex-affirming scientists have acknowledged: “no clear conclusions about the morality of a behavior can be made from the mere fact of biological causation, because all behavior is biologically caused…. A client who…expends considerable mental energy contemplating the origins of sexual orientation is focusing on the wrong issue, in our opinion” (Brian Mustanski [Indiana University] and J. Michael Bailey [Northwestern University], “A therapist’s guide to the genetics of human sexual orientation,” Sexual and Relationship Therapy 18:4 [Nov. 2003]). Nature is not merely whatever biological urges someone feels but involves something broader; namely, whether these impulses are consistent with a more holistic picture of embodied structures. To give an example that I'm sure even you would agree with, a pedophile's urges are not "natural" even if the impulses are involuntary and have a biological component, because an adult-child union violates certain formal or structural correspondences that go into making a sexual union natural.  

By the way, no command of God in Scripture is predicated on people first being able to lose all innate urges to violate the command in question. You seem to believe that if a person has strong innate urges to do something Scripture strongly, pervasively, absolutely, and counterculturally forbids then the prohibition must be rejected. Your reasoning is backwards: the prohibition is needed precisely because there exists a body of persons who experience strong urges to do otherwise than God wills. I don't tell my young daughters not to take illegal drugs because, at present, they have absolutely no desire to do so. Were they ever to acquire such a desire, then a prohibition would be needed. The existence of the desire, however innate or involuntary, is not a grounds for removing the prohibition but rather a grounds for formulating it explicitly. 

 

Lastly, in response to your criticism of the excellent, and well thought-out book by Jack Rogers 

RG: If you think that Rogers’ book is “excellent” and “well thought-out” then you have not examined the issue with any reasonable care. Rogers’ work is loaded with logical fallacies, inaccuracies about the ancient world and, most importantly, inaccuracies about Scripture. I have laid this out at length in online articles. Start at http://www.robgagnon.net/JackRogersBookReviewed.htm and read the next three instalments.  

 

may I say that actually, the points he makes about the bible being used to justify other forms of oppression in times past is entirely valid, and in fact it is evident from the ferocious way you respond to your critics that the only reason you see a difference between these examples and homosexuality, is that it is so engrained in your being that you must condemn homosexual relationships that you simply do not want to accept us.  

RG: The analogies that Rogers’ draws to slavery and women’s roles, common to other homosexualist interpreters, are poorly conceived. I have already dealt with this at length in an online article (http://www.robgagnon.net/RogersUseAnalogies.htm). Your ad hominem conclusion about my motives are reflective of the biases in your own reasoning (i.e. mere projections on your part). The arguments from Rogers that you adopt are simply very bad arguments. Rogers (and you) eschews closer analogues in favour of more distant analogues because the close analogues won’t get him to where he wants to go. If someone argued that Jesus or Paul was in favour of polyamory, incest, or pedophilia, I would make equally strong (you use the word “ferocious”) arguments. Would that mean that I had simply decided to condemn polyamory, incest, or pedophilia a priori without any serious consideration of the arguments, as you seem to do? Obviously not. 

 

I myself have wrestled with both sides of the argument and have had times of believing both as well, so I can genuinely say that my views now are not one-sided and that I have never considered that I might be wrong. Forgive me if this is not the case, but it appears you are yet to do this. Perhaps a little less stubbornness and a bit more love would not go amiss. 

RG: Do you not catch the irony of your remarks? You start the email by accusing me of unchristian rhetoric and then proceed to engage in just such rhetoric yourself by making these types of ad hominem charges. So you have thought more deeply about the pros and cons of the issue than I have? So if I had less stubbornness and more love (like you, I suppose) I would come to a different conclusion? Amazing stuff. I think that it is an empirical fact, based on the amount of research that I have had published and the poor quality of your argumentation, that I have thought more deeply about virtually every aspect of the issue of homosexual practice, pro and con, than you have. I have always been willing to change any of my views if an analysis of Scripture (in its historical context, I might add), philosophic reasoning, or science leads in other directions. I just haven’t heard a good case to believe otherwise. That includes what little argument you have put forward. To compare the degree of thought that you have put into this issue with the amount that I have put into it and then use that allegedly unfavourable comparison as a basis for dismissing out of hand my arguments is, frankly, about as silly as silly can be. It’s convenient for you, I suppose, to attribute my positions to a bad disposition rather than to the evidence at hand. But unless you have strong arguments to refute the arguments that I make, you are simply underscoring your own biases and inadequate reasoning and projecting these things onto me.  

 

I pray that God will show you more compassion and love towards your gay brothers and sisters in the future, 

RG: Your prayers are self-serving and based on your own flawed logic and poor reading of Scripture. The remark is, frankly, arrogant on your part. I do have love and compassion for persons with same-sex attractions. It is precisely for that reason that I oppose the kind of homosexualist agenda that you, Rogers, and others espouse. You have simply made up your mind, with little rational basis for doing so, that God wants you to live out of your same-sex attractions and that thereby anyone who speaks out against that agenda must by definition be unloving. If you think love necessitates support for biological urges that run up against the clear and consistent witness of Jesus and the Scriptures (not to mention nature and science, properly understood), you have a very distorted understanding of love. Let Augustine be your guide here: “Do not imagine that . . . you then love your neighbor when you do not rebuke him. This is not love, but mere feebleness. Let love be fervent to correct, to amend. . . . Love not in the person his error, but the person; for the person God made, the error the person himself made.”  Or read Lev 19:17-18.  

RG: You want to engage in behavior that puts you at high risk of not inheriting the kingdom of God. This is the clear and unanimous witness of Scripture. I would have to hate you to want to promote to you that behavior. You are acting like a misguided teenager who screams to a parent: “You don’t love me unless you let me do what I want to do.” In saying these things, obviously, I do not hate you but rather love you. Let’s be honest with ourselves shall we? You have done a great deal to model smug arrogance and precious little to model Christian love. Again, I say this not out of hate for you but rather in earnest love to wake you up from your obvious self-deceptions. God loves you and for that reason you need to “sober up” morally and come to your senses, as Paul told the Corinthians, part of whose problem had to do with tolerating a case of adult consensual incest in their midst. God's message to you is that you do not have a live a life controlled by this sinful sexual attraction to members of the same sex. God doesn't promise to rid you completely of these impulses (or any sinful impulses). But God does promise to empower you not to succumb to these impulses if you put your heart's desire in him. It requires a death to self for the one who died for you. It isn't easy but the payoff (looking like Jesus, inheriting eternal life) is huge.  

In Christ OUR Lord, 

Stephen Worthington

 

RG: If Christ is truly your Lord, then value the male-female prerequisite for marriage that he valued so highly (Mark 10; Matt 19). Otherwise it is empty rhetoric. You have got a big gap in your sexual thinking that is not under Christ’s lordship. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Robert Gagnon

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2009 10:24 PM
To: Stephen Worthington
Subject: RE: A few notes on your views.
 

Stephen, 

An addendum.

Please read carefully at least the following two short pieces: 

http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexIncestPolyAnalogy.pdf 

http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexScripReallySays.doc.pdf 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon

 

From: Stephen Worthington
Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2009 5:52 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: A few notes on your views. 

Dear Dr Gagnon, 

My apologies for my 'outburst' e-mail. I have recently been feeling unwell and this certainly inflamed my temper. 

It appears, as you correctly pointed out, that I was not as familiar with your writing as you state, so again, my apologies. I have read the information that you sent me with interest, as of course no debate can be fair if we are unwilling to listen to other points of view, as I am afraid I may well have been guilty of with my previous e-mail. 

I am not going to write a lengthy e-mail, largely due to time constraints placed upon me. I think it will probably be best to terminate our lines of communication here, as I would not wish us to get into a debate that is clearly not going to sway either of us to a different way of thinking. This would only cause anger and resentment and I do not wish that upon either of us as Christian brothers. 

I sincerely wish you joy and happiness as you continue your walk with the Lord, 

All the best, 

Stephen Worthington

 


 

To someone who uses my work to explain why we shouldn't listen to Scripture

From: Elizabeth R
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 10:47 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: scriptural authority
 

Hello Dr. Gagnon,

After hearing you speak last year I’ve come to read your work and I think your exegesis is solid and I draw the same conclusions. I am a seminarian and Christian educator in a PC(USA) congregation and I have become so frustrated with professors and authors trying to make Paul conform to their presuppositions. However, I and many others utilize your work for an entirely different project: while you and I agree about what the bible says, we disagree about why it matters. The fact remains that, and I imagine you acknowledge this at least to some extent, your work is alienating and functions in a manner completely counter productive to evangelism. I want homosexuals and straight supporters to be a part of the church. So in an effort to keep the church I care so deeply for alive I try to teach lay people that it is okay to disagree with the bible’s claims, and to engage the idea that Paul could be just wrong. Your work aids me in an effort to work towards teaching a anti-foundationalist perspective in the church, because I think this whole project of trying to make scripture agree with us just doesn't hold water and I think your exegesis proves that. Promoting a post-foundationalist church has been helpful in growing healthy congregations which attract people who are comfortable to rely on the uncertainty of faith rather than the absolute authority of scripture. So, I am very curious to know how you would respond to the fact that your work aids in this project.

Peace be with you,
Liz

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 2:09 PM
To: 'Elizabeth R'
Subject: RE: scriptural authority
 

Dear Liz, 

This ranks as one of the most bizarre emails that I have ever received. 

It is nice to hear that you agree that Scripture cannot be made serviceable to homosexualist views. That is at least something, I suppose. 

But you want to grow “healthy” congregations that ignore core values in Scripture’s sexual ethics. How is this possible? It is not just Paul that you have to deal with; it’s Jesus too, who clearly regarded a male-female requirement in marriage as foundational for all sexual ethics (see, for starters, my recent article at http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexScripReallySays.doc.pdf). 

So you think that you are going to grow a healthy church, under the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, by endorsing what Christ himself would have regarded (and does regard) as a foundational violation of sexual ethics? Why don’t you just come right out and say that you would like to grow a church of Jesus Christ in which “Jesus Christ” is nothing more than a cipher for whatever it is that you want to believe and do, irrespective of what the real Jesus wants you to say and do? Better yet, just dispense with the name of Jesus Christ entirely since it is evident that it is not his assembly that you are creating but rather the assembly made in Liz’s image. Why don’t you just call it, “The Church of Liz”?  

Given your reasoning, you would stand with the Corinthians who tolerated a case of adult-consensual incest since you wouldn’t want to alienate someone who has fallen in love with a blood-related or affine close kin, would you? Apparently you would be willing to dispense with a monogamy requirement if a person who claimed to have a polysexual orientation wanted to join the church but wouldn’t join unless you said that you were willing to embrace him as a “sexual minority” who had a valid desire for multiple, concurrent sexual partners in a committed relationship. Or on these issues, adult-committed incest and polyamory, have you decided that to “rely on the uncertainty of faith rather than the absolute authority of Scripture” is not such a good policy after all? And are you unaware that Scripture’s opposition to each of these is predicated on, or analogically connected to, a two-sexes prerequisite for valid sexual activity? So how can “uncertainty of faith” be good for the foundation but not for the behaviors predicated on the foundation? Just where does your “uncertainty of faith” end and your “certainty of faith” kick in? At the lordship of Jesus Christ? And how do you know who this Lord is apart from the revealed word in Scripture? 

The fact that you admit that Scripture is clearly and strongly affirming of a male-female requirement for sexual relations only makes you doubly accountable before God for knowingly violating the witness not only of nature but also of the revealed word of God. “Promoting a post-foundational church” is an absurdity for anyone who confesses Christ as Savior and Lord since it is in the pages of Scripture that you are going to find out what Jesus wants and doesn’t want, an image that often conflicts with your desires and preconceived notions (mine too). 

If you know my work at all, you know that I make the case not on the basis of some inerrancy stance (I am not an inerrantist) but rather on the basis of core values in Scripture, values that are pervasively held, absolutely held, strongly held, and counterculturally held. Your support of homosexual unions is a violation of one such core value within sexual ethics, as bad or worse than affirming consensual and committed sexual relationships between a man and his mother or a woman and her brother. Or, again, are you unwilling to have “uncertainty of faith” in these areas of adult-committed incest? 

The issue isn’t how I feel about this bizarre use of my work but rather how you are going to explain to your Creator and Redeemer why you thought it advisable to dishonor him. You are like an ice skating instructor telling your young pupils that it is okay to go out and skate on thin ice because nothing bad will happen and, anyway, it is better to live with “the uncertainty of faith” than the certainty of absolute rules. I don’t think the parents of these children would appreciate such instruction; and I don’t think God will have any greater appreciation for your disregard of a value that is foundational to the revealed text of Scripture. But then I can only advise you as to a proper course of conduct. You think you know better than Jesus; that is your choice. I advise you to pull back from such nonsense. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Robert Gagnon

[Note to readers: the email from Liz is genuine; I think that she is sincere but the date (April Fool's Day) does give pause.]


 

On Stacy Johnson and John Stott

From: Charles ______________
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 1:05 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: John Stott

Dear Dr. Gagnon: 

Thank you very much for your scholarly work on the subject of biblical Christianity and homosexual practice.  A retired minister I know has changed his opposition to homosexual union based on Stacy Johnson’s treatment of the pertinent biblical texts.  His error has been bolstered the claim that John Stott has changed his opposition to modern homosexual practice. I have been unsuccessful in finding an article or news story that mentions Stott’s defection.  Are you aware of this change?  Even if Stott has changed his position, I am unmoved because of what Scripture plainly teaches. Thank you in advance for your reply. 

Yours with Christ, 

Charles

Rev. Charles _____________

Senior Pastor

 

From: Robert Gagnon [mailto:rgagnon@pts.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 2:23 PM
To: Charles ____________
Subject: RE: John Stott

Dear Charles, 

The retired minister in question is badly informed on several counts. 

Johnson does cite ‘even John R. W. Stott, the conservative British evangelical preacher’ as acknowledging that ‘the biblical prohibitions by themselves say nothing about such partnerships’ (p. 50, 264 n. 17). 

Stott is simply wrong on this point. However, even Stott goes on to argue that the creation texts do imply an absolute opposition to homosexual practice. So unless Stott has changed his position since he wrote his little book on the subject he does believe that Scripture opposes homosexual practice absolutely. 

Second, Johnson has little awareness of the ancient evidence on committed homosexual relationships. We do in fact know that committed homosexual relationships could be conceptualized in the Greco-Roman world and were known to exist. In fact, some Greco-Roman moralists concede the point while still condemning the behavior as unnatural. So it is absurd to argue that Paul, coming from a cultural milieu that is more strongly and consistently opposed to homosexual practice, would not have maintained a similar view. 

Third, Johnson, while zealous to quote an evangelical preacher on the subject of committed relationships allegedly being unknown, is assiduous in avoiding the numerous acknowledgements by scholars (not just preachers) in the field who, though supportive of homosexual unions, admit that Scripture’s prohibitions take in all forms of homosexual relationships, both exploitative and “committed.”

If this retired minister is interested in really investigating the matter carefully, he should read my rebuttals of Johnson’s work starting with: 

“A Book Not to Be Embraced: A Critical Review Essay on Stacy Johnson’s A Time to Embrace” [Part 1: the Scottish Journal of Theology article] (Mar. 2008; 16 pgs.; online: http://robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonSJT2.pdf).

html: http://robgagnon.net/Critical%20Review%20of%20Stacy%20Johnson's%20Time%20to%20Embrace.htm

This review shows just how poorly done Johnson’s book is. 

Blessings, 

Rob 

 

From: Charles _______________
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:35 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: John Stott
 

Dear Rob: 

Bless you for your prompt and very helpful response.  I believe the gentleman I mentioned is open to instruction. I hope that with God’s help and clear thinking from scholars like you, he can be won back to historic orthodox Christianity on this matter.  Thank you very much for your response. 

Yours with Christ, 

Charles

 


 

Responding to Spong's arguments

From: Jeff
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 7:09 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: The Church and Homosexuality
 

Dr. Gagnon – I was at the Presbytery meeting in ____________ and heard your talk and the Q/A after dinner.  Your words challenged me and for that I am thankful.  Although we clearly do not share the same views on homosexuality, I am interested in understanding those whose positions vary from mine particularly on this subject because  it seems to be one that is once again driving the church apart – as did slavery, ordination of women, divinity of Christ, et. al.  I believe that God wants us to be one and that as we are – in constant debate while seeming to ignore Jesus’ command to love God, love one another and follow Him – is not part of the plan for furthering the Kingdom.  But, there again, maybe it is and this is part of the pain of growth and ongoing deepening toward that oneness that God seeks for us.  I just do not know. 

The article below from - Bishop Spong - speaks to me in ways that you did not.  Because he is starting with a different hierarchy  - experience not scripture seems to be #1 with him – the two of you will probably not have much if any common ground.  I would, however, be pleased if you could comment on it so I could continue my quest to understand those of you who share different opinions and experiences from myself.  Thank you and blessings to you – Jeff

Spong:

"It is not fair to expect secular journalists to be biblical scholars, nor should it be anticipated that they would spend the necessary time to research the issue. It is for that reason that they tend to accept uncritically the oft-repeated Evangelical Protestant and Conservative Roman Catholic definitions that the Bible is anti-gay. If these people were honest, they would have to admit that the Bible is also pro-slavery and anti-women.

"There is also a widely accepted mentality that if the Bible is opposed, the idea must be wrong. That is little more than nonsensical fundamentalism. The rise of democracy was contrary to the "clear teaching of the Bible," as the debate over the forced signing of the Magna Carta by King John of England in 1215 revealed. The Bible was quoted to prove that Galileo was wrong; that Darwin was wrong; that Freud was wrong; that allowing women to be educated, to vote, to enter the professions and to be ordained was wrong. So the fact that the Bible is quoted to prove that homosexuality is evil and to be condemned is hardly a strong argument, given the history of how many times the Bible has been wrong. I believe that most bishops know this but the Episcopal Church has some fundamentalist bishops and a few who are "fellow travelers" with fundamentalists.

"The Bible was written between the years 1000 B.C.E. and 135 C.E. Our knowledge of almost everything has increased exponentially since that time. It is the height of ignorance to continue using the Bible as an encyclopedia of knowledge to keep dying prejudices intact. The media seems to cooperate in perpetuating that long ago abandoned biblical attitude.

"That is not surprising since the religious people keep quoting it to justify their continued state of unenlightenment. That attitude is hardly worthy of the time it takes to engage it. I do not debate with members of the flat earth society either. Prejudices all die. The first sign that death is imminent comes when the prejudice is debated publicly. The tragedy is that church leaders back the wrong side of the conflict, which is happening today from the Pope to the Archbishop of Canterbury to the current crop of Evangelical leaders. That too will pass and the debate on homosexuality will be just one more embarrassment in Christian history."

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 6:04 PM
To: Jeff
Subject: RE: The Church and Homosexuality
 

Dear Jeff, 

Sorry for the delay in responding. Things have been busy. 

On the unity of the church I would recommend that you view it more as a christological phenomenon than a sociological one. True unity cannot be established on the basis of condoning sexual behavior that Jesus and the entire apostolic witness regarded as abhorrent, for that would result in the church severing itself from the Christ in whom alone unity may be found (see Ephesians 4-5 for this; note my comments at http://www.robgagnon.net/TaskForcePrelimReport.htm). Love of God and neighbor requires that the church clearly reject such behavior, inasmuch as the position that endorses homosexual practice deceives persons who are engaged in the practice into thinking that nothing bad will happen as a result of their behavior (when Scripture indicates otherwise). You wouldn’t think that parents encouraging their children to touch a hot stove are loving them, would you? Why, then, would you think that promoting a form of sexual behavior that, according to Scripture, puts people at risk of not inheriting God’s kingdom is loving? 

The proper analogues are not the issues of slavery and women in ministry, as you mention, by adult-committed incest and adult-committed multiple-partner unions, as I noted in my talk. Presumably you wouldn’t think that the church shouldn’t hold the line on non-incestuous and monogamous bonds. This issue is even more foundational since the degree of too much non-complementary structural sameness is more keenly felt in same-sex partnerships than it is in close kin relationships and since too Jesus predicated his view on marital twoness on the foundational twoness of the sexual pair, male and female. 

I find the remarks by Spong below not well thought through. I already made the case before your presbytery as to why the Bible’s stance on homosexual practice is different from its stance on slavery and women’s roles (remember how I noted the Bible’s critical edge toward slavery and its affirming texts toward women and how the countercultural dynamic leaned in the direction of liberation of slaves and women but decidedly in favor of a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations?). There are certainly democratic elements in Paul’s understanding of the church in 1 Cor 12 and elsewhere (per Spong’s democracy remarks), that is, a democratizing effect in pouring out of the Spirit on all who believe. 

We have advanced in some knowledge but I have already addressed at your presbytery that, as regards claims to new knowledge about homosexuality that would radically alter the position of the writers of Scripture on the subject, neither the concept of committed homosexual unions nor a recognition of congenital factors in some homosexual development constitutes radical new knowledge in relation to some ancient worldviews. I noted in my discussion how the scriptural indictment (certainly in Paul) is clearly not limited to exploitative homoerotic relationships or applicable only to those without an orientation. So what is this new revelatory knowledge that would justify a 180 degree about-face on this issue in relation to the view of Jesus and apostolic witness to him? 

Does not the fact that Jesus predicated marital twoness on the fact that God “made us male and female,” a complementary sexual pair, not concern you? Have we come to the point in the PCUSA where, no matter how strongly Jesus and the united witness of Scripture’s authors hold to a moral view, we think that we are entitled to do otherwise? And why stint yourself and not go further and accept adult-committed, non-exploitative versions of polyamory and incest, since your view on homosexual practice is predicated entirely on whether the participants are adults who love each other and cares little for their formal or embodied compatibility?  

I recommend to you to read a fuller presentation of my views at http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/gagnon_autm05_0.pdf (which includes discussion not only of Scripture but also philosophy and science) and http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonSJT2.pdf (with parts 2 and 3 as well).  Then contact me again with your further questions after you have read these. 

Blessings to you, 

Rob

 

From: Jeff
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 7:21 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: The Church and Homosexuality
 

Rob – thanks for your very complete and challenging response.  I will read the suggested articles – thanks again - Jeff

 

__________________________________________________________

Did Jesus violate Genesis 1:27 and 2:24?

From: Harry _______
Sent: Sat 1/24/2009 6:22 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Homophobia

Dr Gagnon:

I found your presentation last Wednesday night in ______ far from convincing.

You built your work on a false and faltering foundation. The same party in Babyon wrote "man and woman he created them" who also had sponsored "if a man lay with another man, they should both be killed," namely the priests who survived the destruction of Jerusalem. They were hardly neutral observers of the sexual situation.

Besides, the climax of the of the creation story was not the marriage of man and woman. It was the sabbath rest that was henceforth enjoined on the Jewish people. If you were a Jew in Babylon, you did four things: circumcised your children, kept the sabbath, performed sacrifices even though the temple had been destroyed, and obeyed the food laws. Who practiced those was a Jew. These four rituals defined Judaism in the exile and well into time of Jesus.

Your lavish illustrations only supported the idea that widespread ancient cultures as well as our current one were and are basically homophobic.

Even your illustration of Jesus on heterosexuality as the norm for sexual relations is spurious. Jesus goes on to say, "A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife." This proscription goes back to those days in Israel when this actually happened, But Jesus' own family did not obey that command: Mary left her own family and went with Joseph to enroll in his. Not even Jesus kept this commandment: to the best of our knowledge, he was never "joined to (a)
wife."

The only real foundation for biblical interpetation is the love of God in creation, later incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ.

In his love, committed heterosexual love is anchored. No committed heterosexual couple perfectly fulfills it but all try to model it.


In his love, committed homosexual love is anchored. No committed homosexual couple perfectly fulfills it but all try to model it.

The Rev Dr Harry ______________

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2009 11:20 PM
To: Harry _______
Subject: RE: Homophobia
 

Rev. __________, 

Thank you for your comments. Here is my response. 

You appear to reject the authority of Gen 1:27 even though Jesus lifted up this statement as central for defining acceptable sexual ethics and yet you call Jesus Lord. Jesus regards it as foundational, and thus its violation as abhorrent. Surely you do not want to claim that you know better, do you, dismissing it as the product of some "homophobic" Jewish priests in exile in Babylon?  

Jesus qualified over-reads of the Sabbath and Paul did not regard observance of a particular holy day as essential. They did, however, both regard sexual purity, including a male-female requirement for sexual relations, as absolutely vital. In fact, few Jews in the Second Temple period believed that Gentile failure to observe the Sabbath was as immoral an act as engaging in homosexual practice (or incest, for that matter). 

Your argument that Jesus himself did not keep Gen 1:27 and 2:24, the very texts that Jesus lifted up as normative (with proscriptive implications) for sexual ethics, is misguided. Why would Jesus lift them up and draw a rigorous sexual ethic from them if he didn't regard them as valid? First, the statement about "leaving one's father and mother and being joined to one's woman/wife" is not a statement about literal leaving; it's a statement about transferring primary allegiances from one's parent to one's own household and making one's wife more of a kin than even one's own parents. It matters little whether the husband goes to the wife's house/family or the wife to the husband's house/family (as examples in Yahwistic narrative make clear). 

Second, Jesus' rightly recognized that Gen 1:27 and 2:24 were not commands that compelled every last Jewish man to marry; there is absolutely no indication that he viewed himself as in violation of these commands (contra your presumption). When he spoke about some making themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, that is, abstaining from marriage and thus from any sexual relations so as to give undivided attention to the proclamation of the kingdom in dangerous situations, he did so with the understanding that Gen 1:27 and 2:24 were not absolute commands to get married but general commands. However, he did understand these texts as giving absolute prerequisites for acceptable sexual relations (i.e. marriage) if sexual relations were to be had. And he clearly predicated the twoness of a sexual bond on the two primary sexes that God created for sexual pairing, a fact that I noted was demonstrated by a parallel use of Gen 1:27 in the Qumran community. Jesus understood (and Paul followed him in this) that there is a big difference between not entering into a sexual union, which is no sin, and entering into an inherently unnatural (i.e. structurally incongruous) sexual union, which is a sin. 

Your argument that only commitment is needed to justify a sexual union, as if there were no embodied formal prerequisites, is not a scriptural notion and is logically untenable. Why stint yourself and limit yourself to homosexual unions? Since the prohibition of faithful polyamorous unions is, according to Jesus, predicated on the twoness of the sexes, and you don't give any significance to the duality of the sexes for sexual relations, why not go on and accept a committed polyamorous union of 3 or more sexual partners? And since homosexual practice and incest of adult-committed sorts are both rejected on the grounds of not enough complementary otherness and too much formal sameness on the part of the participants (one most keenly felt at the level of sex or gender, the other derivatively felt at the level of kinship), and you don't think too much structural likeness matters in the case of same-sex pairing, why not go on and accept an adult-committed incestuous union?  

The reality is that sex is not just "more intimacy" and that generic love, though necessary, is not a sufficient criterion for having sex. If it were, then since we are called to love everyone with whom we come into contact it ought to be acceptable to have sex with everyone. And, by your reasoning, since parents love and are committed to their children, they ought to be able to have sex with them, or with their parents or siblings, since apparently you believe love and commitment are sufficient for justifying a sexual union. What your argument doesn't acknowledge is that there are a host of additional considerations beyond love and commitment that have to be taken into account when the issue is sexual relations, including the number of partners, degree of blood relatedness, gender or sex, and age. 

You appeal to the love of God in Christ but patently ignore the fact that Jesus himself, the man of love, viewed a male-female prerequisite for valid sexual unions as absolutely essential. Now we have here two alternatives. We could go with the moral view of our Lord, whom I can safely say is infinitely wiser spiritually and more loving than you or I, or we could go with your anti-Jesus view and conclude that you are wiser and more loving than Jesus in this area that Jesus regarded as foundational. Your charge of "homophobia" has to be laid at the feet of Jesus our Lord, given his views on a male-female requirement, and makes about as much sense as "polyphobia" or "incest-phobia" when adult-committed relationships are in view. 

Please pardon me for not finding your response to my presentation convincing. I have laid out a few reasons why I am not persuaded by you. I have spent the time to respond to you in the hope that you will lower your ideological grid a bit and give serious consideration to these things. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon 

 

From: Harry _______
Sent:
Thursday, January 29, 2009 2:06 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Homophobia

Two questions: 

Show me any place in the gospels that Jesus turned away a person who was gay or lesbian?  

Did Jesus on the cross say, I am dying for everyone but the gays and lesbians?  Another: How can you convert a question that deals with divorce into one that deals with gays and lesbians? Let's stay on the subject, here. 

By the way. When Jesus quoted Leviticus, he did not quote 18:22. He quoted 19:18. I stand with him. 

Dr. __________

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 6:26 PM
To: 'Harry ________
Subject: RE: Homophobia 

Harry, 

"Show me any place in the gospels that Jesus turned away a person who was gay or lesbian?" 

We don't have a text where Jesus meets a Jew who is engaged in homosexual practice because no Jew in the first century would have participated in such activity (or, if engaging in it, would have let anyone know it since such acknowledgment would have meant instant death). What we do have is stories of Jesus who reaches out to sexual sinners but not to affirm their sin; rather to reclaim them for the kingdom of God by turning them from their sin. "Go and no longer be sinning" carries with it the implicit motive clause (explicit in John 5) "lest something worse happen to you." I wasn't advocating "turning away" persons with same-sex attractions but calling them to a life where they do not, by their behavior, put themselves at risk of not inheriting the very kingdom that Jesus proclaimed. You might as well say: Show me any place in the Gospels where Jesus turned away adulterers or participants in incest or bestiality. You are not suggesting we should promote these behaviors too, are you?  

"Did Jesus on the cross say, I am dying for everyone but the gays and lesbians?"  

No, he died for all people, including mass murderers, rapists, pedophiles, racists, etc. but I trust that you do not deduce from this that he condoned their behaviors or proclaimed that they would all inherit God's kingdom irrespective of whether they continued in such behaviors. (If you do deduce this, then your theology has very serious problems indeed.) Why do you think Jesus warned people to cut off their hand, eye, or foot if it should threaten their spiritual downfall because it is better to go into heaven maimed than to go into hell full-bodied? Moreover, Paul, from whom we get most of our theology of grace, made clear that there is no sin transfer to Christ apart from a self transfer to Christ; no Christ living in us apart from our dying to self. Paul believed that the person who continued to live under the primary sway of sin would perish irrespective of any claim to know Jesus. And you might check out the triplicate of warnings that Jesus issued at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 7. 

" How can you convert a question that deals with divorce into one that deals with gays and lesbians? Let's stay on the subject, here." 

I am staying on the subject but you appear not to have grasped my point. Jesus predicated his view of marital twoness (rejecting both concurrent and serial polygamy) on the fact that God made us "male and female," two primary complementary sexes whose sexual unions permits no third party. In other words, Jesus arrived at his view on divorce and remarriage (and, implicitly, polygamy which is the easier case) through the view that the foundation of marriage is that God made two and only two complementary sexes. That is very much staying on the subject. I showed how the Qumran community made a similar use of Gen 1:27 to prohibit polygamy. 

" By the way. When Jesus quoted Leviticus, he did not quote 18:22. He quoted 19:18. I stand with him." 

So what if Jesus didn't cite Lev 18:22 directly? He didn't cite directly the prohibitions of incest and bestiality in Lev 18 either; do you think that this means that he was okay with such behavior? Jesus didn't have to cite Lev 18:22; he cited the flipside, the male-female prerequisite in Gen 1:27 and 2:24, as foundational for all sexual ethics. Certainly Lev 19:18 is not in contradiction to the sex laws in Lev 18 and 20 (recorded by the same legislators) and certainly too Jesus and early Christians did not treat the commandments regarding incest, adultery, man-male intercourse, and bestiality as expendable, merely symbolic commands. Anyone who knows anything about first-century Judaism and Christianity knows this, don't you think? 

You can read a fuller presentation of my views at http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/gagnon_autm05_0.pdf (which includes discussion not only of Scripture but also philosophy and science) and http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexStacyJohnsonSJT2.pdf (with parts 2 and 3 as well).

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon

 

 


Question about conducting remarriages

From: H.
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 11:11 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Thursday talk
 

Dr. Gagnon --

I wanted to drop a note to let you know how much I enjoyed your presentation. I found your presentation very persuasive. I had noticed that most of the arguments being made by proponents of gay ordination were based more on American civil values than on the scriptures, and I came away from Jack Rogers' presentation thinking I must have missed something.

By the way, I heard a talk by Barbara Wheeler a couple of years ago when she and Jack Haberer conducted a dialogue at the national gathering of presbytery moderators, and she admitted that her own view in favor of gay ordination were formed by non-biblical influences. I'll try to make a point to read one of your books on the topic in the next few weeks.

I was also hoping to ask a questions about a topic you touched on briefly, which is divorce. How do you think pastors should deal with the question of divorce and remarriage? Obviously, most of us are called on sometimes to perform weddings for people who have been divorced. My general practice has been to approach the subject in pre-wedding consultations in terms of divorce being the result of human sinfulness, and to stress the importance of repenting of the lack of commitment which has resulted in the previous marriage(s). What's your view?

And how about remarried clergy? Our presbytery, like most, has a number of pastors who have been remarried. What's your advice on this issue?

Again, thanks for your guidance.

In Jesus' service,
H.

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 8:27 PM
To: H.
Subject: RE: Thursday talk
 

Hi H., 

It was nice meeting you. 

The divorce-remarriage thing is difficult. While a serious issue it is not as serious as (even adult-committed) incest or homosexual practice. There are special problems such as: Was the person who is remarrying an initiator or victim of the previous divorce? If initiator, on what grounds? (The only acceptable grounds for divorce would be adultery and, presumably, desertion and serious physical endangerment.) As a pastor I would have to know these things before any consideration of participating in the service. I’m not even sure that Jesus would have allowed remarriage under any circumstances so long as the first spouse is still alive. His remarks in Matt 5 suggest that even a wife who has been divorced on invalid grounds, becomes an adulteress if she remarries. 

See my article at http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoWinkHBTResp.pdf pp. 110-22

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon

 


Correspondence with an evangelical scholar at an evangelical seminary about Obama's homosexualist political agenda

From: B
Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 1:36 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
 

Thanks for [alerting me to Obama's political program for gay rights at the official White House webpage. What I find there is the following--- 

Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect." -- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

  • Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

  • Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

  • Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

  • Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

  • Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

  • Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

  • Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.

  • Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

Some of this I would clearly disagree with, however I don't oppose civil unions or civil rights for gays, nor do I think 'don't ask, don't tell' works, nor am I in favor of hate crimes against gays. 
 
I do however think some of those hate crimes laws however go much too far, in calling any sort of criticism of gay lifestyle as hate speech.   I do also oppose redefining the term marriage.  What Pres. Obama has said is that he thinks that the issue of the definition of marriage should be left in the hands of the states. In other words, he doesn't favor the Constitutional Amendment ban idea.  He does agree, and personally does define, marriage as an act between an man and woman as the Bible says, as do the vast majority of African-Americans. 
 
The sum and substance of this is that it looks like you are right to be concerned about some of this,  but not by any means all of it.  America is a secular society and equality under the law is a primary goal of course.  I have never seen much promise in trying to
impose strictly Christian values on a pluralistic society like we have, without the consent of the governed.  My point is this--- Obama has repealed various of Bush's executive orders.   I don't have a problem with that. I think that if we cannot persuade society to agree with us and our Christian views, then it is not fair play to bring them in through the back door with executive orders of whatever sort.
 
Good to hear from you as always,   

Dr. B

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 4:40 PM
To: B.

B.,  

Thanks for your comments. 

One doesn’t have to be in favor of “hate crimes” against homosexuals to be opposed to a “hate crime” bill. Laws are already in place protecting everyone against violence and threats. “Sexual orientation” laws inevitably treat any who oppose homosexual practice as bigots to be excluded from white-collar jobs and polite society; lead to enforced indoctrination of school children; and mandate compliance in goods and services despite conscience objections (see, for example, the New Mexico female photographer fined thousands of dollars for declining to photograph a lesbian wedding). These are inevitable developments. “Sexual orientation” “employment discrimination” laws lead to GLBT organizations in the workplace, coming out workstation celebrations, affirmative action programs for “sexual minorities,” etc. Any recognition of “sexual orientation” as a specially protected class alongside of race and gender leads to a civil insistence that “sexual orientation” diversity is as prized as race or gender diversity and opponents of such as comparable to racists and misogynists. You are concerned about “hate crime” laws going too far but do not appear to realize that the implementation of any “sexual orientation” law leads inevitably to these abuses, as numerous examples from Canada, Europe, and even the US make clear. 

I’m surprised that you are for homosexual “civil unions.” Are you for “civil unions” for 3 or more concurrent adult-committed sexual partners or for adult-committed incestuous bonds as well? Don’t you know that the granting of “civil unions” compels employers and taxpayers to subsidize the immorality of homosexual relationships, promotes state characterization of opponents of homosexual practice as bigots, and leads inevitably to “gay marriage” (when every right and benefit of marriage is granted but only the name “marriage” is withheld, it is a very short and inevitable step to marriage, as you should know from the reasoning of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which noted the hypocrisy of granting all but name and then mandated gay marriage)? If you are supportive of civil unions, where the state expresses as much of an interest in furthering homosexual unions as it does heterosexual families, then you have no reasonable case for being opposed to withholding the mere word “marriage,” for in all other respects you support what appears to be a homosexual marriage. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck and has the body of a duck, it’s a duck. 

If you believe that Obama thinks in his heart that homosexuals should not have the right of marriage then you have not been paying close attention to what Obama has done and said. It has now been revealed that already in 1996 he publicly expressed his commitment to support the institution of gay marriage. This past year, before the homosexual organization known as the “Human Rights Campaign,” he compared the withholding of marriage to homosexuals to miscegenation laws in the South. See further my online article here: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/ObamaWarOnChristiansRespToBritScholar.pdf. Obama hasn’t just rejected any federal marriage amendment; he has also consistently rejected any state attempt to restrict the word “marriage” to a male-female union, including California’s Prop 8. Moreover he is determined to get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act whose only purpose is to prevent gay marriage in one state from being foisted on other states. 

Opposition to homosexual practice is no more restricted to Christian revelation than is opposition to sanctioning adult-committed incest and polyamory. Indeed a prohibition of both derives from the foundation of, or in analogy to, the reasons for adopting a male-female prerequisite.  

Blessings, 

Rob

 


Lost on my website?

From: Cesar
Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2009 10:57 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Please, do me a favour.

 Dear Gagnon,

My name is Cesar ______, I'm Brazilian and Christian

I have known your web site and I have sought biblical serious texts about homosexuality.

Well, I noticed that in your site there are too many texts about the matter and unfortunately this has been a problem for me begin some read.

In fact, I was looking serious commentaries with base on Hebrew and Greek interpretation about the classical verses that mention homosexuality in the books of Leviticus, Romans, Corinthians and Timothy.

Well, I would like your help to lead me to these texts or books because I'm lost in your web site.

God bless you,

Cesar

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 2:22 PM
To: Cesar
Subject: RE: Please, do me a favour.
 

Dear Cesar, 

There is a lot of material on my website but here are four places to start: 

“More than Mutual Joy: Lisa Miller of Newsweek against Scripture and Jesus” (http://robgagnon.net/NewsweekMillerHomosexResp.htm)  

A half hour video on “What the Bible Says about Homosexuality” at http://www.vimeo.com/2126309 

 “How Bad Is Homosexual Practice According to Scripture and Does Scripture’s Indictment Apply to Committed Homosexual Unions?” (http://robgagnon.net/HowBadIsHomosexualPractice.htm)  

 “Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice?” (http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/gagnon_autm05_0.pdf)  

Blessings, 

Rob


Response to an evangelical leader supportive of "gay rights" on the Crystal Dixon case

For information on the Crystal Dixon case go here

From: T.
Sent: Tue 1/13/2009 9:54 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
 

Dear Rob, 

I just thought you would like to have this letter that was sent to me by the president of the University of Toledo in response to my concerns about the dismissal of Ms. Crystal Dixon for making statements that he felt were contrary to the values of the institution.

It is interesting the way this game can be played in academia, because at the University of Colorado a very outspoken professor made some horrendous statements about people who died on 9/11 being deserving of their deaths.  His message was filled with all kinds of anti-Semitic comments, yet the university said that beliefs about free speech would not allow the university to dismiss that professor.  It seems to me that Ms. Crystal Dixon, expressing her personal convictions on gays and lesbians, was far less offensive than anything that was uttered by that professor in Colorado. 

You know that there is much that we disagree on when it comes to gays and lesbians.  I am on the side that champions their rights, but having said that I am also for the rights of those who want to express themselves in ways that are contrary to my beliefs and convictions.  A free society, and certainly an open university, demands this.  I think that Dr. Roy A. Jacobs made a mistake and I am surprised that there wasn’t more of an outcry against him.  I especially feel this way after reading Ms. Dixon’s comments, which I felt were very even-tempered. 

I suppose that, in spite of our severe differences, there are places where we can agree. 

Sincerely,

T.

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 11:41 AM
To: T.
Subject: T.
 

Dear T., 

Thank you for sharing this letter with me. The obvious flaw in Jacobs' rationale is that he had no actual evidence that Ms. Dixon had not carried out her duties and yet still removed her from the position; therefore, despite his denial, he has abridged her free speech. 

I am grateful that we agree that Jacobs did the wrong thing. I further agree that we are in very different places on other matters involving homosexual practice.  

Of course, I would not characterize our differences as you would; namely, that you are "on the side that champions their rights" while I am not. That description severely prejudices the matter, does it not? I don't believe that I am denying any "rights." For example, it is no more a "right" for two persons in a homosexual relationship to have their sexual union subsidized by their employer through domestic partnership benefits than it is a "right" for three or more persons, or close blood relations, to have their adult-committed sexual union so subsidized. Homosexual persons, like all persons, have a right not to be subject to violent acts; yet this right is already protected through anti-violence laws that protect all persons; a special "hate-crime" law enshrining "sexual orientation" as a special protection category could not add to this right but rather only deter free-speech rights of other by establishing "sexual orientation" as comparable to race or ethnicity. Persons engaged in adult-committed homosexual practice should have as many employment rights, but no more, than persons engaged in adult-committed incestuous or polyamorous unions (the latter two I do not think should be subject to criminal prosecution or arrest).  

You "champion" "sexual orientation" employment "nondiscrimination" laws and yet you are surprised by the outcome at the University of Toledo. You should not be surprised. When Obama (whom you strongly supported in spite of his radical pro-abortion positions and perhaps because of his radical homosexualist stance; see now his invitation to Gene Robinson to speak at his inauguration) pushes through national "sexual orientation" laws you will see much more of this discrimination against Christians. For some reason you think it is possible to pass "sexual orientation" legislation and not abridge the rights of Christians to speak against homosexual practice and to opt out of acts that coerce them to promote homosexual activity in society. This, I would suggest to you, is not a rational position given things that have already transpired in Europe, Canada, and even parts of the United States. 

Blessings, 

Rob

 


 On Sex, Salvation, and Human Merit

From: Redvan6
Sent: Thu 1/8/2009 2:51 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Sex and Salvation

Dr. Gagnon:  We aren't saved or unsaved by avoiding this or that type of sexual experience.  Practicing Christian homosexuals aren't saved by keeping "morally clean"-whatever that might mean or holding on for dear life for fear that they might catch a fornicating glimpse of another man's you-know-what.  All of which could set the stage for a descent into the very fires of Hell itself if not checked and throttled at all costs.  Begs the questions:   How Are We Saved???  How Are We Kept???  Is Sexual "Morality" Required For Salvation???  I would have thought that the doctrinally mature Christian would have clarified these issues in Bible 101.  Settle once and for all by thorough Biblical study what it means to be saved...God's awesome grace to us in Christ apart from the works of the Law-apart from good behavior-apart from self effort/good works.  Christ justifies the UNGODLY.  Christ justifies the UNRIGHTEOUS.  HOW?  Simply by calling on His name in faith believing in and receiving His cleansing blood to wash away all sin.  Gay or straight it makes no difference.  We are saved/sealed by genuine faith in Jesus not by avoiding sexual temptation or any other sin for that matter.  Christ came to save sinners not people who try to blunt their own personal sinful expression through self effort, self denial, and other legalistic attempts to "appear not need the sacrifice of Calvary" quite so much.  Having been purchased by His blood, we will exhibit the new nature through good works that glorify Jesus Christ.  The indwelling Spirit will manifest Himself in the gay or straight believer's heart by Christ honoring behavior.

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Thursday, January 08, 2009 5:25 PM
To: Redvan6
Subject: RE: Sex and Salvation
 

I think you have misunderstood Pauline (or Christian) soteriology. Nothing an individual does can merit salvation; but one does appropriate it by faith, trust in Christ's saving work on the cross; and the person who lives by faith is the person who, in the main, lets Christ live in him (or her); and Christ is not producing sin. Not that Paul (or Jesus) expected perfection but he did expect a transformation, a life lived in the main in conformity to the indwelling Spirit rather than in conformity to sin operating in the human body. The person who lives in the latter way does not believe or have faith in Christ in anything like a life reorientation toward the gospel. Such a person, Paul repeatedly declared, will not inherit the kingdom of God, not because he (or she) has failed to merit God's salvation but because he (or she) has not truly trusted in Christ. So Paul's approach to the case of the incestuous man in 1 Cor 5-6, his discussion of "why not sin?" in Rom 6:1-8:17, and many other places. The person who engages in a serial unrepentant manner in homosexual practice is, like the incestuous man, at high risk to not inherit eternal life, irrespectively of whatever confession he (or she) makes. Paul states emphatically in Rom 6:14 that sin must not exercise lordship over the believer's life precisely because the believer is not under law but under grace. Those who do not live a transformed life in the Spirit are still under the law's jurisdiction (compare Gal 5:18) and will perish (Rom 8:12-14). Grace empowers a transformed life because it is accompanied by the gift of the Spirit of Christ as an indwelling force. Any other view constitutes a misunderstanding of grace.  

Robert Gagnon

 


Response to a critic about the focus of my work

From: John G. Ayres
Sent: Fri 1/2/2009 9:41 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: The Focus of your "ministry"

Dr. Gagnon: 

I read with some interest your response(s) when asked about your ministry’s effectiveness in “curing” homosexuality.  I particularly found it interesting that you claim that your ministry isn’t about “healing” or “reorienting” homosexual persons, as this would take significant time and resources away from your “ministry.” 

Considering that I find precious little on your website regarding anything other than homosexuality, I am compelled to ask you: 

1) Why your obsession with LGBT persons, if you do not consider your ministry to be “focused” on this one particular “sin”?  Can’t you find something else in this sinful world to write and talk about?  It leads one to wonder if your obsession isn’t rooted in internalized homophobia and perhaps a disownership of homosexual feelings you find inside yourself?

2) If homosexuality and its resulting inability to be redeemed is so worthy of the majority of your attention, how could gay “reparative” ministry be so not a part of your ministry?  Is it your position that all that is required of you with regard to homosexuality and Christianity is to beat people over the head with the Bible?  Faith without works is dead.  I might find you to be more credible if you spent your time actually ministering to others instead of using the platform of your professorship as a sort of pedestal to wag your finger and thump a lot of “thou shalt nots.”

Like most Christians I’ve ever met, it seems to be so much more convenient for you to glorify the Messenger than it is to actually live his message.  People like you and Bishop Duncan make Pittsburgh the hillbilly backwater that it has always been and will always be.

Hey, I’m just saying... 

John Ayres

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Gagnon [mailto:rgagnon@pts.edu]
Sent: Friday, January 02, 2009 1:45 PM
To: John G. Ayres
Subject: RE: The Focus of your "ministry"

John, 

A prominent area of my research is on what Scripture has to say about homosexual practice. Such attention needs little justification beyond the obvious: first, this issue has dominated church discussions and controversies for the past 30 years; second, a male-female prerequisite is treated in Scripture as a foundational element of human sexual relations, and this foundation has turned into the moral and religious equivalent in our day of an endangered species which, if not defended now, will be lost forever; third, few have had the courage to defend this foundational element in the face of vicious attacks from power-sectors of society supporting homosexual practice, making the need for such a defense great indeed. 

The "internalized homophobia" argument is absurd. So, if the culture began pressing for acceptance of polyamorous, incestuous, or pedophilic unions and I devoted considerable attention in my writings to showing why such cultural acceptance would be morally wrong, would you say that my primary motivation would be internalized polyphobia, incest-phobia, or pedophobia respectively? For the record, I have no memory of ever experiencing same-sex attractions. But those who do have such attractions while affirming God's limitation of sexual unions to male and female are courageous, not hypocritical, since it requires a view of discipleship toward Christ consistent with Jesus' own call to take up one's cross, deny oneself, and lose one's life. 

I minister to persons, including persons with same-sex attractions, as God leads me to do so. But my primary job is not as a therapist but as a scholar of Scripture, which is a noble occupation in its own right and more than a full-time job. Your premise that a person with homosexual attractions is not helped unless these attractions can be removed is completely misguided, inasmuch as most persons never rid themselves entirely of desires to do what God expressly forbids, whatever the desire. No commandment of God is predicated on people first losing all desires to violate the command in question.  

Your argument is also premised on the position that affirming same-sex attractions is inherently loving so that writing against homosexual practice is inherently hateful and abusive. I reject that premise completely (as did Jesus and every author of Scripture). If, as Scripture indicates, homosexual practice is an inherently self-dishonoring act that treats one's maleness (if male) as only half intact or femaleness (if female) as only half intact--two half males uniting to form a whole male, two half-females uniting to form a whole female--then clearing away the misunderstandings that Scripture is somehow supportive of homosexual practice is not an act of hate but an act of love. When Jesus declared in the midst of talking about sexual ethics that one should cut off a body part that threatens one's spiritual downfall because it is better to go into heaven maimed then to go into hell full-bodied, he was not being hateful but loving. 

Given the intellectual thinness of the "logic" in your email to me, I wouldn't go around abusively referring to others as "hillbillies" if I were you. Your first priority ought to be to educate yourself more on this issue since it is apparent that you have not thought through a number of matters clearly.  

Dr. Gagnon

From: John G. Ayres
Sent: Fri 1/2/2009 1:58 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: The Focus of your "ministry"

You prolific and verbose response still doesn't answer the question:  why homosexuality, specifically?  Methinx the lady doth protest too much. 

The tremendous increase in divorces, extramarital relations, children growing up in single-parent heterosexual households, 1 in 4 teenage girls under 14 testing positive for HPV, etc ad nauseum don't qualify as weakening the foundations of moral sexual and family behavior?  Heterosexuals in no small number have denigrated and eroded the institution of marriage.  Homosexuals, meanwhile, have yet to even be given the opportunity to do nearly as badly. 

I am tempted to laugh at your characterization of gay men and women as being "half" of their gender.  Such knee-jerk reactionary homophobia can be called nothing else than the neurosis that it is.  By your own assertion, those who choose celibacy are less than "half" their gender, as they choose not to express their sexuality whatsoever.  What does that make them, in your system of accounting....1/4 male or female? 

Your obsession with all things queer says much more about you than it does anyone else.  Those of us with a mind, who actually use it, aren't fooled a bit.  You'll do well in Pittsburgh; that is, if you can get the uneducated masses to stay awake long enough to listen to (let alone understand) your diatribes. 

John Ayres

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, January 02, 2009 3:12 PM
To: John G. Ayres
Subject: RE: The Focus of your "ministry" 

John, 

On your 1st paragr. below. Didn't answer the question? Please reread my first paragraph where I answer it with three points. 

On your 2nd paragr. below: Of course there are heterosexual sins. I just don't see a lobbyist group in the church for such things. I do see it for homosexual practice. As regards promiscuity, homosexuals, particularly males, do far worse on average than heterosexuals; this is also true as regards sexually transmitted disease, relational longevity, and mental health. And homosexual practice, like incest, has the added dimension of sexual intercourse with another who is already too much of a formal (structural, embodied) same; here males aroused by the very maleness that they possess (anatomical, physiological, and psychological) and females by the very femaleness that they possess. A man having sex with his own grown sister is the closest analogue. Your observation is analogous to, and makes as little sense as, the claim that fighting against cultural support for polyamory or incest, even of adult-committed sorts, would be wrong because it would ignore the ills of monogamist or non-incestuous persons. 

On your 3rd paragr.: "By your own assertion, those who choose celibacy are less than "half" their gender, as they choose not to express their sexuality whatsoever." Your statement does not logically follow. A man who chooses not to have sex remains a full male sexually. It would be the attempt to merge sexually with what he already is as a sexual being that would compromise the integrity of his maleness since male and female are obviously the only complementary sexual beings; one merges with their sexual other-half. This is a fairly obvious point. 

The uninformed character of your remarks, as well as their arrogance ("Those of us with a mind, who actually use it, aren't fooled a bit"), underscores the problematic nature of continuing this discussion.   

Dr. Gagnon

 


Material on women's ordination and homosexuality

From: pastord
Sent: Sat 12/13/2008 10:46 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: women's ordination and homosexuality

Dr. Gagnon,

    Can you tell me where in your book The Bible and Homosexual Practice you explain why the argument for women's ordination is not comparable to the arguments for homosexuality? Or any other articles where the distinction is made?

    Thanks. I appreciate your tireless participation in the debate to show how sloppy our logic and reasoning is sometimes. So many seem to be working with tunnel vision and self-love, or fear of rejection by others. We hate conflict, sometimes, and we hate judging others, sometimes. 

Rev. D.

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2008 11:29 PM
To: pastord
Subject: RE: women's ordination and homosexuality 

D., 

Thanks for your note. I deal with the issue at http://robgagnon.net/RogersUseAnalogies.htm and http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/gagnon_autm05_0.pdf (pp. 93-94). See also: William J. Webb, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals (Intervarsity Press). My colleague Edith Humphrey has an article on the issue in God, Gays and the Church: Human Sexuality and Experience in Christian Thinking (eds. Lisa Nolland, Chris Sugden & Sarah Finch;London: Latimer Trust, 2008). 

Blessings, 

Rob

 


Should the government support homosexual unions?

From: C.

Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 12:43 PM

To: Robert Gagnon

Subject: marriage amendment 

Hello Mr. Gagnon.

I am teaching Sunday school at church in which we are discussing this same sex marriage debate.  We are agreed concerning the bible's prohibition of homosexuality as well as same sex marriage.  the issue we struggle with the most is whether or not our government ought to be involved in an issue we see as a religious issue and not a civil one.  I was reading your articles and wanted to ask if you had any insights concerning this dilemma?

C.

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 1:02 PM
To: C.
Subject: RE: marriage amendment 

Dear C., 

It is as much a civil issue as society's prohibition of incest (even of an adult, consensual sort) and polygamy (again, even of an adult, consensual sort). In fact, as Jesus noted, it is the twoness of the sexes that is the foundation for the limitation of the number of partners in a sexual union to two (bringing together the two primary sexes makes a third party both unnecessary and undesirable). And incest is prohibited by analogy to the principle that too much structural (embodied, formal) sameness among the participants, a principle established by the prohibition of sexual relations between persons too much alike in gender or sex. Both Jews and Christians in antiquity viewed the prohibitions of same-sex intercourse, incest, adultery, and bestiality as applicable beyond the sphere of God's people. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon

 


 

Response to a skeptical evangelical leader who wants to know whom I have "'delivered' from homosexual orientations"

[The following is from an evangelical leader whom I have reason to believe supports some degree of acceptance of homosexual unions and is seeking ways to support the homosexualist agenda without alienating the audience for the leader's message. I understood the request based on this broader context (which I cannot disclose here); that is, as a way of undermining my scriptural arguments through questioning whether my teaching converts homosexual persons into heterosexual persons.]

From: T
Sent: Fri 5/9/2008 4:35 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
 

Dear Robert, 

It would be most helpful to me if you could give me the names and addresses of people who have been “delivered” from homosexual orientations as an outgrowth of your ministry.  Could you give me the names and addresses of people whom you have led to Christ because of your particular approach and teachings on this subject?  Being a ___________, I am very interested in case studies and I approach the whole subject from that perspective, even as you approach the subject by an analysis of the biblical text.  If you can help me, it would be most appreciated. 

Sincerely,

T

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Saturday, May 10, 2008 6:03 PM
To: T.

Dear T, 

My ministry is not one of "delivering people from homosexual orientations." I have received many thanks in my speaking engagements, and occasionally through emails, from people who say that my teaching has helped them to recognize what God's will is for their lives and to be encouraged that God is able to empower them to obedience in their behavior whether or not they are "delivered from same-sex attractions." I do not keep track of these. Working with people to manage and sometimes diminish same-sex attractions would require an "Alcoholics Anonymous" approach, i.e. long-term therapeutic help and group networking. This in itself would be a full-time ministry and it is not what I do, given the demands made on me in teaching and publishing. 

A bit troubling (though I acknowledge that I could be reading too much into your request) is the apparent presumption that "deliverance" must take the form of losing a homosexual orientation. When did God ever predicate a single one of his commands on people first losing all desire to violate the command in question? Isn't the reason why God gives commands and prohibitions because there are people with innate urges to violate them? Is the monogamy principle applicable only to people with no polysexual orientation? Is the principle of no intercourse with prepubescent children (and for our culture the whole of adolescence) applicable only to persons not so "oriented" with a pedosexual orientation? (Incidentally, do you keep track of persons who have been delivered from polysexual and pedosexual orientations or alcoholic predispositions? And, if not, why not?)  

Isn't the whole of the Christian life a struggle against the warring passions of the flesh, which God requires us not to succumb to and, when we do succumb, to repent, however many times for the rest of our life this takes (Gal 5:16-18)? Is it the case that when Paul says in 1 Cor 6:11, "and these things some of you were," he means that the offenders in the offender list in 6:9-10 no longer experience innate urges to commit offenses when they become washed, sanctified, and justified by believing in Christ and receiving the Spirit of God? And if it doesn't mean that (and it doesn't) what then does Paul mean by "and these things some of you were"? Does he not mean that they have "reoriented" themselves to be crucified with Christ, to die to selves, and to live for God by having Christ live in them through their gratitude for Christ's redemption (Gal 2:19-20)? 

And what is the shape of God's grace here? According to 2 Cor 12:7-10 grace is most profoundly experienced when, in answer to our fervent entreaties to be delivered from some distressing circumstance, God says "no" and explains "My grace is sufficient for you; my power will be brought to completion in and through your weakness." Is the "no" a cause for depression and defeatism or the realization that this is a formative moment for being shaped more vigorously into the image of Christ?  

Do you, as a ___________, keep track of these stories? Perhaps you should. These are the real success stories. Anybody can obey God when no particular stressful circumstances arise from the obedience. But to obey God in a manner that requires one to take up one's cross, deny oneself, and lose one's life, is to know what it means when Paul says "for me to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21) and "may it not happen that I boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world" (Gal 6:14). Do we, with Paul, bear the marks or scars of Jesus on our body that comes with being crucified in relation to the world and our own fleshly passions and desires (Gal 6:17; 5:24)? The message of the cross is the message of life. The message of "gratify your urges that violate God's will but do so with the fewest negative side-effects" is the message of death (cf. 2 Cor 2:14-17). If I were to preach the latter message, I would have easily removed a great deal of stress in my life that has come for defending the male-female character of sexual relations over the past decade (cf. Gal 5:11). 

As you might note from my open letter to the President of Toledo (here) I focused on socio-environmental influences on homosexual development combined with congenital influences and the role of incremental, often blind and indirect, choice. I didn't say that, once acquired and deeply imbedded, same-sex attractions are easy to diminish in intensity, much less get rid of. But a culture that provides a full-court press for affirming homosexual practice to children from (in some areas of the country) first grade on up will have a significant impact, I believe, in increasing the incidence of homosexuality (and I don't mean just an increase in the number of people who, already having same-sex attractions, come "out of the closet"). In that sense, as well as in its attraction for behavior incompatible with embodied existence, a homosexual orientation is most definitely not like race and biological sex. 

I hope this response is helpful to you.  

Blessings, 

Rob

 __________________________________________________________

 

What about no reproduction in heaven and the existence of "complementary" homosexual unions?

From: Judy
Sent: Fri 4/18/2008 9:36 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Your views on homosexuality

Dear Dr. Gagnon,
I've read with interest your well-documented views on homosexuality...

However, is it not true that people are not to be defined solely by their physical appearance?  Is not the physical, the earthly body, a temporary body, given its outline and desires produced by hormones for the general purposes of reproduction of the race?  Will our spiritual bodies, given to us someday in the realm of eternal life, be defined likewise as "male and female"?.   We don't really know, but I think not, as there is no need for reproduction in Heaven. 

Here in San Francisco, I have as friends a couple who are most certainly heterosexual, yet she is very "dominant, butch, assertive" while he is more "feminine, diminuitive, responsive".  You've probably experienced the same things in some couples that you are acquainted with.   In other words, emotionally they are not the so-called "norm", but certainly they are emotionally "complimentary" and compatible. 

Likewise, I've met many homosexual couples here in San Francisco who are likewise complimentary in the realm of emotional/spiritual: one may be somewhat "dominant, assertive, initiating" while the other is "gentle, passive, receiving" in their entire self.  In other words, they DO "fit" together", as companions and soul-mates and (perhaps) partners, despite their physical sameness.  In my 17 years of living in SF, I have really not seen many long term same-sex relationships which are based on "sameness" - in fact, those seem to be very, very few-- and frankly yes, narcissistic.  Most couples  I've met are  very different -like salt and pepper -and  refreshing to  experience as a  "couple".  This, despite their same sex. 

As you are already aware, the earthly body is temporary, but our relationships will continue on into eternal life.  Could it be that you are deceiving yourself about the true complexity of the situation, just because physical parts (man/woman) "fit" for reproductive purposes?  This is perhaps a mystery, and perhaps too big for us to comprehend  with our human minds.  The angels, are, apparently, sexless.  What will it be like for us then, to relate with one another in heaven, without bodies that address the gender issue?  Hmmm.

Sincerely,
Judy
San Francisco, CA
 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 11:48 PM
To: Judy
Subject: RE: Your views on homosexuality
 

Dear Judy, 

Thank you for your thoughts on the matter. In response, I offer two observations. 

First, you are right that "there is no 'male and female" (Gal 3:28), along with other texts in Scripture (e.g., Jesus' saying about no marriage in heaven), suggest a limitation on the ongoing validity of male/female differentiation. But to argue for the validity of homosexual unions misses the point that the end of the significance of sexual differentiation for mate selection spells the end of all sexual relations. So long as sexual relations are permitted, a male-female prerequisite is in place. We won't be having sex in heaven--Jesus' statement about no marriage in heaven is clear about this. What we will have is unmediated access to God which will make sexual relations look dull by comparison. 

Second, the fact that some persons in homosexual relationships show some complementarity  features (you note dominance and passivity) does not make them complementary in the truest or deepest sense. Those who are in such relationships confirm this when they claim exclusive attraction to members of the same sex, do they not? If maleness or femaleness did not have significant reality, in a holistic sense, beyond certain typical social constructions, there would be no such thing as exclusive homosexuality. If all a dominant male sought was a passive partner, then either a passive male or a passive female would do. If a passive male sought a dominant partner, either a dominant male or a dominant female would do (etc.). Yet the persistence in claiming that only a person of the same sex will do is tacit acknowledgement of a multi-level reality to maleness and to femaleness.  

Same-sex attraction is attraction for, well, the same sex. A homosexual man who had a gender nonconforming childhood may seek another man as a means of compensating for his (the former male's) perceived deficiencies in maleness. Yet the lie and self-deception is that he was and remains a male. A homoerotic union regularizes the self-deception. 

I hope that this makes sense to you. 

Blessings, 

Rob 

 

From: Judy
Sent: Thu 4/24/2008 8:37 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: Your views on homosexuality

Dear Dr. Gagnon,
Well, not exactly.  People are at all different places on the Kinsey Scale. Some profess only attraction to one sex or another, but others are in the middle of the scale, and can have loving (and sexual) relationships with either sex (as long as it is with someone who they are attracted to and are compatible with).  The problems arise not on the individual level, but at the societal level, where those who are uncomfortable with those of a different sexual persuasion than their own have to be "running the show", so to speak.  But it's not "our show" it is the Lord's.  We are all a part of the play...

Sex is not just for pro-creation.  It is also for bonding purposes as well.  You apparently have some very black and white views on sexuality.  Unfortunately, the world has a lot of grey areas which we aren't necessarily capable of understanding the reason for existing.  It's not always important that the "female" and "male" ends of the pipe fit perfectly.  Instead, its about relationships - loving, caring and growth-oriented.  

I would like to invite you to "come and see" for yourself.  Come experience the San Francisco that I know, with same sex couples who are faithful, monogamous, Christian, raising children successfully, loving and caring people, not narcissistic in any sense.  Challenge yourself to see what is out there, and then ask yourself if this isn't from God.   So when can you come and visit?

Sincerely,
Judy

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 12:12 AM
To: Judy
Subject: RE: Your views on homosexuality
 

Dear Judy, 

Thank you for your second email. With all respect, I think it demonstrates that you need to read my remarks more carefully; even more, that you need to begin reading my main works. 

Of course there are people at different ends of the Kinsey scale. This is not news to me. You missed my point that the existence of some exclusive or near-exclusive homosexuality (a Kinsey 5 or 6), which incidentally is the dominant manifestation of male homosexuality, shows that there is a fundamental recognition of something identifiably male or female that transcends particular cultural affects of maleness or femaleness. Even bisexuals recognize the difference. So do the roughly 98% of the population that is exclusively or predominantly attracted to one sex. 

Again you miss my point that complementarity extends well beyond procreation and even beyond the anatomical fittedness. Arguing that opposition to homosexual practice is exclusively predicated on its nonprocreative character is like arguing that opposition to adult incest is exclusively predicated on potential procreation problems (i.e. birth defects), a problem that, incidentally, would not apply to homosexual incest. There is a holistic dimension to maleness and femaleness that extends to anatomy, physiology, and psychology. By definition persons erotically aroused by their own sex are erotically aroused by what they already are, male for maleness, female for femaleness, at every level. The attempt to merge with one's own sex is buying into the self-deception that one's own sexuality as a male or female is not intact but needs structural supplementation and not just structural affirmation. 

No, the problems in homosexual relationships don't arise simply or solely from societal "homophobia." They arise first and foremost from the fact that putting two (or more) people of the same sex in a sexual union doesn't moderate the extremes of a given sex or fill in the gaps; hence, male homosexuality experiences disproportionately high rates of problems that are different from the types of disproportionately high rates of problems in female homosexuality, differences that are typical of their respective genders. 

Now these problems are merely the symptoms of the root problem: the attempt to merge with someone who is not a true sexual complement. Of course there are some committed homosexual relationships. No consensual sexual relationship of any sort--not adult incestuous bonds or adult-committed polyamorous relationships, not even pedophilic practices--produce intrinsic, scientifically measurable harm. 

The fact that you can refer to committed homosexual relationships as something that you think I don't know about shows that you have not read, or understood, my work. Commitment in a homosexual relationship no more validates the union than would commitment validate an adult-consensual incestuous or polyamorous union. As Paul knew at Corinth, commitment in an incestuous bond does not morally improve the quality of the relationship because, having failed to meet the structural prerequisites, the relationship should have ended yesterday. You say that I am "black and white." And yet you are no less "black and white" in affirming homosexual unions and thinking that those who disagree with you are wrong. And are you "black and white" in rejecting adult-committed incest and polyamory? Or is this too a grey area for you? After all, as you say, as long as the relationships are about bonding and are loving, who could be opposed to them?

Go to www.Oprah.com, specifically http://www.oprah.com/tows/pastshows/200710/tows_past_20071026.jhtml?promocode=ssend20071026TD and see also the videos of the show at www.video.aol.com under “Oprah Winfrey & Lisa Ling interview Mormon Polygamists.” You'll see that there are some loving, caring polygamous relationships that appear to be raising children successfully. By your definition of what constitutes an acceptable sexual union, which apparently includes no formal prerequisites for structural, embodied correspondences, it satisfies all the requirements. You will have to agree with Oprah: "The best part of doing this job … [is that] I come in with one idea and then I leave a little more open about the whole idea. And what I realize … is that in every situation there are people who give things a bad name. There are difficulties and then there are people who handle those difficulties differently." 

Of course, Jesus closed the door on the permission that Moses gave to men to marry more than one woman and did so by appealing to the twoness of the sexes in creation, "male and female God created them." Completing the sexual spectrum by joining the two and only two primary sexes makes all third parties unnecessary, whether serial or concurrent. But since the binary or sexually dimorphic character of man-woman unions is not essential for you, you have no logical, scriptural, or creation-based ethic for limiting the number of partners in a sexual union to two, so long as the sexual union is loving. You "say" that it has to be monogamous but you don't explain why it must be and indeed have no legitimate basis for asserting that it must be. People are, after all, capable of loving more than one person concurrently (witness a parent's love for all his or her children, for example). A problem for your argument is that you do not recognize the special requirements placed on sexual unions that are not placed on non-sexual loving relationships.

Blessings,

Rob

 __________________________________________________________

 

A question from a seminary student about the exploitation argument

From: C
Sent: Wed 4/16/2008 6:11 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Romans 1:26 - a question from a [PCUSA] seminary student

Dr. Gagnon:

I am now a (second career) M.Div student at [a PCUSA seminary]. In conversation with one of the professors on campus here the statement was made about Romans 1:26-27 that "Paul had no idea about the kind of homosexual relationships we know today...what he was talking about was man to boy sex, with a wife at home ... the NT world knew nothing about long-term committed homosexual relationships as we know them today."

My question to you is how to refute that statement. I have heard (but cannot recall where) that there were a group of Greeks (phonetically it seems like they were described as "kenides" who did engage in what today's culture would describe as long-term, committed homosexual relationships). Is my recollection correct? If so, are you able to fill the memory gaps for me? If not, is there any semblance of argument against that statement? I have your book if you can point me to a reference there.

Many thanks for the work you do, as well as being available for questions such as mine!

C. 

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 7:50 PM
To: C.
Subject: RE: Romans 1:26-27 - a question from a [PCUSA] seminary student
 

Hi C., 

The professor making this argument doesn't know the material well.

That Paul had in view all homosexual relationships is evident from the fact that: (1) Paul had the creation texts in the background of his indictment, which had the male-female prerequisite in view; (2) Paul used a nature argument that was not limited to man-boy sex; (3) Paul indicted lesbianism in 1:26, which was not typically conducted on adult-adolescent model; (4) Paul spoke in 1:27 of the mutuality of the desire "for one another"; (5) Paul referred to "soft men" in 1 Cor 6:9 which in context could be used of adult males who feminized themselves to attract male sex partners (the kinaidoi/cinaedi); (6) caring adult homosexual relationships in antiquity were known; (7) some Greco-Roman moralists indicted homosexual relationships absolutely, including adult relationships; (8) relationships between adult males were thought to be worse than relationships between a man and a boy because adult men had, or should have, outgrown the "softness" of adolescence and so were wholly inappropriate as the receptive partners in male-male intercourse; (9) early Jewish prohibitions were absolute (one rabbinic text even specifies that the Levitical prohibitions refer to an active partner that is adult and a passive partner that is either adult or adolescent. 

See further my article at http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/gagnon_autm05_0.pdf , pp. 65-77. 

For point 6 above see my first talk at Princeton Seminary rebutting Stacy Johnson's use of the exploitation argument; go to http://robgagnon.net/ArticlesOnline.htm 

Finally, the best thing to do would be to find a group on campus that could bring me over to your institution to do a few lectures on the subject. But if that is not possible the resources above should suffice. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon

__________________________________________________________

A disgruntled supporter of "inclusivity" who would like to see me removed from PTS

From: 'Pam
Sent: Tue 2/12/2008 7:28 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: question for you

Hello Dr. Gagnon-- It is my understanding that you are involved with the Wine Skins group, but I wanted to go to the horse's mouth before I assume anything.
I am in a church that supports PTS and I am not too happy to continue that trend if this news is true.
Do you have time to explain  why a professor at a seminary of the PCUSA should be advocating leaving the denom.? I am confused but don't we help pay your salary?
Thank you for your time.  Pam


From: "Robert Gagnon"
To:
'Pam
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 2:44 PM
Subject: RE: question for you

Dear Pam,

Obviously if I were advocating that people leave the denomination I would
have already left myself. But I have not left. At the same time anyone has a
right to leave any denomination. This is not a prison. I left the American
Baptists to join the PCUSA 12 years ago. Was that wrong? Or do you regard
the PCUSA as the only true church?

If the PCUSA were to advocate racism would you feel compelled to stay? Were
it to ordain self-avowed wife-beaters would you stay? Were it to ordain
serial unrepentant adulterers, persons in loving adult incestuous unions, or
persons in a loving and faithful sexual threesome would you stay? (Scripture
clearly regards homosexual practice as equivalent in severity to, or worse
than, adultery, incest, and polyamory.) Were it to ordain persons who did
not believe in Christ as Savior and Lord would you stay?

I am trying to prevent the PCUSA from getting to the point where many will
feel compelled to leave the PCUSA. Are you doing the same?


Blessings,

Dr. Gagnon




From: 'Pam
Sent: Wed 2/13/2008 4:33 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: question for you

Dear Prof Gagnon,  Though I don't feel you answered any of my questions,  I agree with you that anyone has the right to leave the denomination.  In fact,  I think that is a better idea than those persons who I have personally come in contact with who use false statistics for example to bash the PCUSA.

No, I do not regard the PCUSA is the only true church.  I think you have missed my point.  If you are given the responsibility to teach, mentor, train young men and women for the pastorate of the PCUSA along with other like denoms and you get your support from PCUSA churches,  do you feel you owe any allegiance to them?

My understanding of the main position you object to is the ordination of homosexuals and when I read my book of order,  mine says we do not sanction that.   Do we have a couple churches who have done so?  YES.  In my presbytery we also have a couple of churches who refuse to ordain women. Where is the outrage there?

I am doing my part by teaching Bible study, being active in a very supportive PCUSA church,  and loving people. I also go to the horse's mouth to get the facts, ie,  I went to a discussion by Dr. Weaver and  a PCUSA spokesperson on leaving the church or not.
Not one of the "sins"  you mentioned will keep me from getting into heaven or by your condemning of those groups will you get a special dispensation. But,  I hope and pray that when I see God's face and he asks me why, I can say "Because I wanted to be more inclusive, not exclusive."  I'll take my chances.

Where does it say that homosexuality is worse than other sins in the Bible?
I didn't know sins were ranked.

By the way, I never brought up homosexuality in my earlier email, but EVERY
single time I speak to someone from a confessing church, Wine skins,
persons wanting to leave the church, etc, THEY always include the topic in
the discussion.  Why is that?

You have been most kind in taking time to reply.  Thanks, Pam

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 10:40 PM
To: 'Pam
Subject: RE: question for you
 

Dear Pam, 

A few comments on your remarks. 

1. Of course, I feel some loyalty to the PCUSA, though I should remind you that many non-Presbyterians are among the faculty at my institution and others. They have only a very limited loyalty to the PCUSA inasmuch as they are not members of the PCUSA, do not contribute financially to it, and do not contribute significant amount of time and energy to it apart from their teaching at the seminary. Since my devotion to the denomination well exceeds theirs (or even that of many fellow Presbyterian faculty), I trust that you can see why I regard your question about my allegiance as inappropriate. Moreover, my ultimate allegiance must always be to Christ, not to any earthly and transient denominational structure. I hope that the same is true of you. And, despite what you claim, I believe that I have answered your first email and not skirted the issue.  

2. On your observation about my apparent lack of "outrage" as regards the fact that some churches deny women's ordination (I personally am unaware of any such churches in the PCUSA), several points are in order. First, if you had read my recent article in Presbyweb on "Three Clear Indicators in the Book of Order Regarding Essentials: A Plea for Theological Sanity and Constitutional Honesty" (at http://www.presbyweb.com/2008/Viewpoint/Robert%2BGagnon-PCUSAInsanity.doc), you would see that I list affirmation of women's ordination as one of three obvious essentials for ordination in the Book of Order (owing to frequency of mention in diverse contexts). Second, having said that and though I myself affirm women's ordination, the scriptural case for women's ordination is much less clear than the case against homosexual practice so I don't think the two can be compared in terms of severity of violation. You will note that the Twelve did not include women, for example. Third, it is far more outrageous to ordain a person involved in strongly unnatural behavior (take consensual sex with one's parent or sibling as an example) than it is to have reservations, owing to Scripture, about women's ordination. 

3. You say: "Not one of the "sins"  you mentioned will keep me from getting into heaven." Unfortunately for your observation, Jesus, Paul, and the entirety of the New Testament witness would beg to differ, in my opinion as a New Testament scholar. Why do you think Paul repeatedly warned believers that to engage in certain behaviors in a serial unrepentant way would put them at risk of not inheriting the kingdom? (Go to note 31, pp. 7-9 at http://robgagnon.net/2Views/HomoViaRespNotesRev.pdf for some Pauline texts that make this point.) As regards Jesus, see my discussion at http://robgagnon.net/Reviews/homoWinkRejoinder.pdf, pp. 5-15. Your argument about wanting to be more "inclusive" won't hold up with God. Infidelity is infidelity. "Inclusion" is not the highest Christian value. Tolerance of evil is not a virtue. "Love" cannot be equated with "inclusion." There are, of course, inclusive features of Jesus' teaching/ministry and the apostolic response to it, most notably the outreach to Gentiles and women. Yet there are also many exclusive features as regarding belief (the necessity of believing in Christ to be saved, for example) and behavior. See the views of the Risen Christ in the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation (chs. 1-3). Note also Jesus' repeated warnings of judgment unless repentance were forthcoming (see the article of mine that I cite above for texts). I would not be a more "loving" parent if I encouraged my young children to embrace behaviors that could lead to their harm. In fact, state social services would take my children away from me if I embraced such a philosophy. You don't love more when you grant people assurance that "all will be well" in spite of the behaviors that they engage in, behaviors that Scripture declares puts people at risk of not inheriting God's kingdom. Indeed, that is loving less. This is why Paul repeatedly says, before issuing such warnings, "Stop deceiving yourselves." What would be "deceiving oneself"? Thinking that one go engage repeatedly and unrepentantly in certain behaviors proscribed by God and "get away with it." That is apparently the view that you subscribe to. Faith is not a mere intellectual assent to the truth. It is "yes" to God's saving work in Christ that results in a death to self, a denial of self, so that Christ can live in us and we for God. I discuss this issue in a critique of something that our moderator recently said. Go to: http://robgagnon.net/JoanGrayResponse.htm 

4. You say: "Where does it say that homosexuality is worse than other sins in the Bible? I didn't know sins were ranked." Well, now you know. I discuss this very question in an article on my website at http://robgagnon.net/HowBadIsHomosexualPractice.htm (html) / http://robgagnon.net/articles/HomosexHowBadIsIt.pdf (pdf). Please read this. You will see why it is an important topic for discussion. 

I hope you will read fully and carefully the material that I have referred to in this email. After all, you have assured me that you like to get things from "the horse's mouth." Thank you. 

Blessings, 

Rob

__________________________________________________________ 

A testimony from a pastor who has dealt with bisexual urges

[This testimony from a pastor speaks for itself. I thank the writer for his courage.]

From: R.
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2007 10:09 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Your letter to the Evangelical Leader
 

Rob, 

I appreciate your response to the Evangelical leader (here).

I think it is spot on. 

What you say leads me to share a bit about why I know you are right, and why  I too take this stuff so seriously. I ask your indulgence as I share something personal. You can use it if you find it worthy of such, although I ask that you withhold using my full name. 

The reason I know you are right, and why I take this so seriously myself is that I did struggle with homosexual/bisexual impulses when I was a teenager (starting around 16). 

I came from an immediate family where no father was present. My brother and I were not close. The only male close in proximity was the man my mother chose to sleep with (and he was an alcoholic, both abusive emotionally and physically, even asking my mother in a drunken rage to have sex with me). Clearly, male bonding in a filial or paternal sense was not something I felt was available to me. 

Further, there was a general acceptance of sexual immoral behavior in the family. My mother, her father, her sister and brother were all acting out in ways that were contrary to the Scriptures, and this was not hidden from the children's eyes.  

It is within this context that I began to have an attraction for men and women. When it occured to me that I might be homosexual or bisexual, I was horrified. I was not horrified because the family would be upset, or society would be upset. No. I lived in a very "liberated" (although really enslaved) home; and I grew up in South Florida which is almost as laid back about things sexual as San Francisco. 

I was horrified, because I knew this is not the will of God for me or anyone. I cannot tell you the number of arguments I got into with my mother and other family members because I brought out the Bible and showed them what I read about obedience, and sexual purity, and the like.  

Given this, I remember being in my room and praying. I said (and this is a paraphrase), "I know that what I feel isn't right. You have said that I must either have marriage with a woman or celibacy (Matthew 19). If I am not to be married, given my impulses; then grant me the grace of celibacy. I for my part WILL NOT ACT upon the impulses that I feel. Help me to be faithful to you." 

I did not act on the impulses. I was given the grace of the Lord to remain faithful. I was also blessed with a faithful pastor who reminded me that it was no sin to be tempted by thoughts I did not choose, but it was a sin to keep bringing them up or to act upon them. I asked the Lord to help me understand what was going on in me, for truly something wasn't ordered right in my life. 

That breakthrough happened one day when I went to visit my father. I shared with him some of what was going on with me, and he realized (before I did) that he needed to spend more time with me (listening and talking time). When this happened, I realized by God's grace that I was simply disordered in distinguishing what I truly wanted with men. I did not desire sexual bonding. I desired philial bonding. I wanted brothers...the right kind of love that God desires between men. With women, the desire was more of a sexual nature. That too had some disorder, and it took me more time to deal with that (and sometimes I still need to deal with that whenever I see a steamy beer commercial during a football game). 

The point here I want to make is that I was encouraged by the Lord himself, by the Scriptures, by the church to remain faithful to the sexual ethic found in the Scripture. If I had acted on my impulses; if I had been encouraged to act out on my disordered thinking; I would be in a damnable situation...it would be far more difficult to extricate ones self from that. 

I have spoken with young men who have had similar impulses and come out of a similar background. I have shared with them how I handled those temptations to sin. I tell them to do nothing with the impulses. Do not act upon them. Ask the Lord for the grace to be patient and live faithfully. Seek out faithful pastors who will help you stay the course. I tell them they are not abnormal, but at their stage in life when the hormones go crazy, the devil uses that moment to help disorder their thinking and their living. Be patient. Be faithful. 

To encourage civil laws or church wide mandates that would invite people to act against the law of God invites disaster...as indeed inviting people to engage in any sin brings disaster. It just isn't loving. It isn't what Jesus calls us too. I wish people would understand that. I grieve for others who have been led down the path of "sexual tolerance" because now their position is worse than before, and many don't even know it. It gets harder to bring them out, for now they hear that the "church" says its okay. 

I have a passion about this, because I know what the Lord can do. I know this disorder. I know in myself that it can be beaten, but not acting upon it is a key part of the battle! 

I can honestly say that I haven't had the impulse for sexual relations with men for 21 years. I am married to my wife and have two children (of which one is with the Lord praying on my behalf I hope...if not I'm going to have to have a talk with that boy). I do not say that I don't deal with sexual temptation and sin in my life, but I can say that the sexual temptation that I truly struggle with is not homosexual or bisexual. Further, I can say that the reason I struggle so much with the temptation I do have (pornography) is that I opened that window to my soul by engaging in a habit. I have repudiated the habit, but the temptation feels like a greater burden, because I opened myself up to it as a young man by acting on the temptation to look at it. 

Again, not acting on the temptation would have been better. I didn't give myself over to obedience as I should, and did with the other impulses. I reaped the consequences. This is why also I am not only against homosexual sexual behavior, but I know the damning nature of sexual immorality in all its forms. It is terribly important that we encourage folks to cease and desist and not act on sexual temptations that go outside the norm established by our Lord in Genesis 2 and Matthew 19. 

Well, this is long. I apologize for the length and I apologize if I have spoken in ways that give you more info than you really want about me. However, you are right on. Keep up the fight. The souls of many are at stake. 

Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ!

R.

__________________________________________________________

 

Is heterosexual cohabitation grounds for denying church membership?

From: Bill
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2007 10:44 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: e-mail question @co-habiting couples/membership

Dr. Gagnon- In over 25 years of pastoring in the PCUSA, I have consis-tently raised questions about the legitimacy of granting membership to those living in unrepentant hetrosexual sin, by reference to the arguments against unrepentant homosexual sin. (For I am assuming that in both the issue is that of discipleship and a Christian sexual ethic, and the call for God's people to live in joyful holiness.)  Though I have had to respond to requests for membership of gay couples, the issue of co-habitating couples comes to the foreground with greater frequency, and I have discovered that people are much more reluctant to raise questions about co-habiting than they are of same-sex relationships. I've read through most of your articles, and though you repeatedly refer to what you  describe as extreme sins, would sexually active, co-habiting couples fall into the same category, since in my mind, they are delaying repentance (ie, either celibacy apart or moving into marriage immediately)? 

Thanks-- Bill

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 12:45 PM
To: 'Bill'
Subject: RE: e-mail question @co-habiting couples/membership
 

Dear Bill, 

Thank you for your inquiry. My answer is: No, it is not as serious as homosexual practice but, yes, it is serious enough to connect to membership issues. 

The offense of unmarried heterosexual cohabitation is not as extreme an offense as adult incest or homosexual practice, which are unnatural acts that attempt to merge persons too much structurally alike. (Indeed, I know of no one who would argue seriously that heterosexual cohabitation is as serious an offense as, say, having sex with one’s parent.) Heterosexual cohabitation is not a grossly unnatural act. But the persons involved should recognize that by virtue of the sexual union they are “one flesh” and for all intents and purposes are held to the standard of married couples (compare 1 Cor 6:16 which treats even sex with a prostitute as creating a “one flesh” union, albeit in this instance an unholy one). Since marriage requires a commitment to a lifelong bond they should have no difficulty in expressing that commitment in a formal marriage ceremony. Reluctance to do so is likely evidence that they have not made such a commitment and, therefore, must either make such a commitment (presumably through the normal channels today for making such a public declaration, i.e. marriage) or dissolve the sexual bond. In short, refusal to marry is evidence that they are just “trying out” a sexual relationship and therefore committing sin. Since Jesus intensified God’s demand that his followers not engage in sexual activity with more than one other person of the other sex lifetime (see Matt 19), cohabitation without marriage should be treated as an offense that warrants withholding membership; or, if membership is already in place, removal from the fellowship of the church until repentance.  

From a pastoral standpoint, I recommend having a personal meeting with the offenders, going through Jesus’ teaching on marriage in Matt 19, highlighting the importance of obeying Jesus as his disciples, and explaining that membership can only be granted (or actively retained) if they marry or dissolve the sexual bond. I also recommend, if you haven’t already done so, that you regularly preach on the importance of sexual purity and marriage. I doubt that they would want to become members of a church that clearly declared their behavior to be sin, if they insisted on staying in a sexual relationship outside of marriage. 

Hope this helps, 

Rob

 

 From: Bill
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 1:54 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: e-mail question @co-habiting couples/membership
 

Rob- thanks for the quick and thoughtful reply. Struggling with the reality of this in both the context of performing ceremonies as well as in membership has been one of the more difficult areas of pastoral ministry for me. I originally began to wrestle with this in earnest back in 1993 when a p/sa homosexual desired to become a member of my former congregation. (He didn't because he wouldn't break off his relationship.) Through the firestorm that decision engendered in that entire community, I realized I also needed to think more clearly about the implications of heterosexual sin for membership. Though it seemed to me that the arguments I used against homosex behavior were appropriate for hetersex behavior as well, I did recognize that heterosexual behavior is potentially redeemable, through marriage and repentance, whereas homosexual behavior is not, so the arguments can't be sustained completely.

Anyway- thanks for the the direction and encouragement! I will keep you in prayer as you stand in the midst of the fray.

Bill

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 2:10 PM
To: 'Bill'
Subject: RE: e-mail question @co-habiting couples/membership
 

Bill, 

You're welcome. Good line about heterosexual cohabitation being potentially redeemable but homosexual relations not. 

Rob

 __________________________________________________________

 

Did Jesus Change the Law's Stance on Capital Sentencing?

From: T.K.
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2007 1:13 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: "The Witness of Jesus" Question

I appreciated the time you put into your chapter "The Witness of Jesus" in your book, "The Bible and Homosexual Practice".  I have always wondered how we can put together how Christ did not abolish the law yet we find Christ prioritizing the law differently.  Your summary has shed much light on the issue.  Yet, I do have one question that still strikes me as a theological problem.  You see Christ associating with "sinners", such as prostitutes.  Christ freely associated with these people, while he spoke out against the practices he did not push for the punishment that the Old Testament called for.  My question(s)- Why does Christ no longer approve the punishment required in Old Testament law for such offenses as adultery?  Is the Old Testament more like Christ than we realize?  For instance could repentance save one from stoning in the Old Testament?  Or is Christ changing everything?  Most people would recognize this change for the better, does this mean the New Testament is closer to God's character than the Old Testament?  I have found little to help me with these questions.  If you can't answer these maybe you could forward them to someone who could help.  Thanks, T.K.

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2007 1:31 PM
To: T.K.
Subject: RE: "The Witness of Jesus" Question
 

T., 

Good questions. Capital sentences in the OT are implemented whether or not the person repents. I see Jesus as recommending against implementation of the capital sentence, at least from non-lethal offenses such as sexual immorality, in the hopes of recovering the person through repentance. I see this as a change. It’s not that the offense is lesser in Jesus’ eyes but rather that dead people don’t repent. Something worse than a capital sentence is coming down the pike: the Day of the Lord. Jesus is giving offenders every opportunity to repent before that Day to avert personal cataclysmic disaster. 

Dr. Gagnon

 __________________________________________________________

 

Hate Mail from an Angry Left-of-Center Pastor with a 'Wonderful' Pastoral Manner

From: Robert Martin III [mailto:rmartin@fprespa.org]
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 4:38 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject:
 

Dear Robert, 

What a sad, sick man you are!  I take great pity on you as a pastor! 

Sincerely, 

The Rev. W. Robert Martin, III

[Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto, CA]

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 4:49 PM
To: 'Robert Martin III'
Subject: RE:
 

Dear Rob, 

Thanks for your piece of hate mail. Since my views are in obedience to Jesus and the entire apostolic witness I don’t feel “sad” or “sick” and therefore don’t need your “pity.” By the way you need to work a bit on your pastoral manner. 

I noticed on your church’s website that you are a so-called “More Light” church (really “Less Light” if the teaching of Jesus and the apostolic witness are our guiding lights). No great surprise there. Thanks for sharing with me your “light” and love. It’s been illuminating. 

Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.

 

__________________________________________________________ 

 

A Question about Eternal Security and Sexual Immorality

From: Mark
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 2:20 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
 

Dear Dr. Gagnon: 

     Even as one who has learned a great deal from you through your articles, as a Presbyterian minister I must take exception to one aspect of your teaching regarding whether a lady would go to hell if she is in a lesbian relationship [RG: see email below].  Your answer, as I saw it, stated that it wasn't a given but a possibility seemingly based solely on this one thing.  Homosexual activity is a sin (it's ironic that those who view that portion of Leviticus 18 as no longer relevant do see all the other teachings there on sinful relationships there as still in effect - incest and bestiality to name a couple). 

    However: Heaven is based upon what he did on the cross, and our acceptance of Him as Savior.    Fornication, Fathers Not Being Involved in the Lives of Their Children, Lying, Divorce, Not Helping Those in Need if You Can, for example, are also sins, but no one seems to suggest that those who continue to lie from time to time, who left pregnant women to raise kids on their own, or who are who are divorced and remarried are all in danger of hell.  Jesus does call them to change their ways as part of following Him and He always will, but to say that the promise of eternal life may now be null and void even if they truly believe (albeit erroneously) that God says homosexual activity based on orientation as okay seems extreme.      

    Let me be clear.  I do not excuse these activities or homosexual activity.  Having Jesus as Lord means having him as Lord in all of your life.  I know that passage in Galatians 5:19-21.  I am angered that we in the PC(USA) seem to told not just to acknowledge homosexual behavior but to celebrate it.  All are sins that I confront equally as a child of God.  When I hear the suggestion, though, that the Lord puts this one sin in a separate category regarding eternal judgment, raises concerns for me that we've gone from one sandy foundation to another another (Matthew 7).  James 2:8-13- "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it."  All Christians are called to be different.  All Christians also continue to be sinners, too. 

   Forgive me if I have misinterpreted what you stated there.   Is this what you are saying?    

Mark

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 5:50 PM
To: Mark
 

Dear Mark, 

The question you raise has to do with the larger question of eternal security, classically defined as “once saved, always saved.” I do not subscribe to it because I don’t believe that Jesus or any NT author, including Paul, subscribed to it. There are literally dozens of texts that make this point. The thought here is not that individuals must merit their salvation but rather that the absence of transformation or the presence of serial unrepentant immoral behavior of an extreme sort demonstrates a fatal deficiency in faith, i.e., in not letting Jesus live in one by grace. When Paul says in 1 Cor 6:9-10 that sexually immoral persons, including those who engage in incest, adultery, and man-male intercourse (and by extension lesbian intercourse) shall not inherit eternal life he is not making this statement only about unbelievers. Both the context of the Christian incestuous man in ch. 5 and the analogy of a Christian, a person who is really and truly joined to Jesus, having sex with a prostitute in 6:12-20 make clear, in my opinion, that he also has in view believers who live immoral lives. It is because the incestuous man’s eternal life is at risk that Paul takes the extreme measure of putting him on church discipline, in the hopes that he might be saved on the Day of the Lord. 

Thus also he could say to the Thessalonian believers, in the earliest extant New Testament document:

 

For you know what commands we gave to you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God: your holiness, that you abstain from sexual immorality (porneia) . . . [and not live] like the Gentiles who do not know God. . . . because the Lord is an avenger regarding all these things. . . . For God called us not to sexual uncleanness (akatharsia) but in holiness. Therefore the one who rejects [these commands] rejects not humans but the God who gives his Holy Spirit to us. (1 Thess 4:2-8)

And to the Galatian Christians:  

The works of the flesh are obvious, which are: sexual immorality (porneia), sexual uncleanness (akatharsia), licentiousness (aselgeia) . . . , which I am warning you about, just as I warned you before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. . . . Stop deceiving yourselves; God is not to be mocked, for whatever one sows that one will also reap. For the one who casts seed into one’s flesh will reap a harvest of destruction and decay from the flesh, but the one who casts seed into the Spirit will reap a harvest of eternal life from the Spirit. And let us not grow tired of doing what is right for in due time we will reap, if we do not relax our efforts. (Gal 5:19-21; 6:7-9)

In 2 Corinthians Paul expresses deep concern that 

I may have to mourn over many who have continued in their former sinning and did not repent of the sexual uncleanness (akatharsia), sexual immorality (porneia), and licentiousness (aselgeia) that they practiced. (12:21)

Mourning is mourning over death, the possible loss of eternal life for believers who live in this manner. Later, in Rom 6:19-22 and 8:12-14, Paul urged Roman believers to reverse the trend of the immoral life described in Rom 1:24-27, otherwise loss of eternal life would ensue: 

For just as you presented your members as slaves to sexual uncleanness (akatharsia) and to [other types of] lawlessness for the sake of lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for the sake of holiness (or: sanctification). For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with respect to [the demands of] righteousness. What fruit did you have at that time? Things of which you are now ashamed, because the end (or: outcome) of those things is death. But now, since you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your fruit for holiness (or: sanctification), and the end (or: outcome) is eternal life.

The message of Ephesians is similar: 

[N]o longer walk as the Gentiles walk, . . . who . . . have given themselves up to licentiousness (aselgeia) for the doing of every sexual uncleanness (akatharsia). . . . Sexual immorality (porneia) and sexual uncleanness (akatharsia) of any kind . . . must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. . . . Know this indeed, that every sexually immoral person (pornos) or sexually unclean person (akathartos) . . . has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming on the children of disobedience. (Eph 4:17-19; 5:3-6)

And there are many other texts. For me not to say what I said would leave out the whole counsel of God. The deception that a number of the above texts refer to is deceiving oneself into thinking that, as a Christian, who could continue in serial unrepentant sin of an egregious sort (like adultery, incest, same-sex intercourse, sex with prostitutes) and get away with it. It’s not limited to same-sex intercourse. The divorce/remarriage analogy is not a good one, both because Scripture does not treat it as serious an offense (though serious) and because it tends not to be serial behavior (unlike repeated acts of homosexual practice). I would agree, too, that regular, particular grievous non-sexual forms of behavior could also get one excluded from the kingdom of heaven even if one confesses Jesus as Lord. 

I realize that Christians have differing views on this issue. I am convinced by Scripture itself that loss of salvation is real and possible for believers. In that sense I am always reforming in the direction of Scripture, or at least trying to do so here. 

I hope this helps, 

Rob

 __________________________________________________________

 

Do you think I would still go to heaven when I die if I am in a lesbian relationship?

From: B
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 9:34 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: sexuality and heaven

 

Hello Dr. Gagnon,

   I just have a question. I am struggling with my sexuality in a very real and painful way. I have been in the process of trying to change to a heterosexual orientation for almost three years now. Let's just say I am not there. I was never out as a lesbian, only had a couple of very short term relationships, and then the work at change. My question is this: Do you think I would still go to heaven when I die if I am in a lesbian relationship? If I live as a lesbian do I have to stop my relationship with God?  I know I shouldn't be asking how close to the line can I get, but that is where I am at right now. I want to fight for the right for people to have a safe place to work at changing sexual orientation, but I can see the attraction of leading a double life.  

Just curious about your opinion. 

Thanks for your time.

~B.

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 10:26 AM
To: B.
Subject: RE: sexuality and heaven

 
Hi B.,
 
Thanks for your thoughtful question. You're right that it is asking how close to the line one can get. I only know that Scripture indicates same-sex intercourse is a more foundational violation of God's sexual standards than even adult consensual incest; that engaging in such a behavior in a repetitive, unrepentant way puts one at serious risk of being excluded from the kingdom of God and the eternal life it offers. Jesus indicated, in a context that had to do with sexual issues, that what you do sexually can get you thrown into 'Gehenna' (hell); that if your hand, eye, or foot should threaten your downfall, cut it off, because it is better to go to heaven maimed than to go to hell full-bodied (Matt 5). That's a fairly serious warning. Now I'm not saying that I know when an individual crosses the line and it's too late to return, if ever. Only God knows that. But neither can anyone assure you that you will escape God's judgment; for one as much plays God when one acquits as when one condemns. But Scripture tells us that there is high risk in provoking God, so why risk it? If a person of great wealth offered you 50 million dollars if you were able to stay away from a lesbian relationship for 5 years, would you risk losing it all by secretly entering in such a relationship and possibly getting caught? Probably not. Well, God is asking us to be faithful for a relatively short duration of time--the life of a human on earth, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the eternity ahead of us. And then there is the thought that God and Jesus love us so much that Jesus' life was given for our sakes. Would we really want to dishonor him if we could see him standing by our side, hands outstretched with the imprint of nails still there? I doubt it, And yet he lives within us.
 
It may be that God will not change your "orientation," although women are much more likely to experience significant shifts on the "Kinsey spectrum" in the course of life than are men, so there is a good chance that you will experience marked reduction in at least the intensity of the homosexual drive and possibly develop some limited heterosexual functioning. But then again, maybe not. I'm not God there either. I do know that, like Paul's "thorn in the flesh," sometimes God says "no" to a request to remove this or that circumstance that brings perceived deprivation to our lives. Not just "no" but "no" because "my grace is sufficient for you" within the experience of deprivation, that God's power will be "brought to completion" in the midst of one's weakness rather than taking one out of it. Often Christ is most formed in us when we don't get we ask for, when we have to rely on the one who raises from the dead, when we have no strength left on our own. No commandment of God is predicated on people first losing all desire to violate the command in question; on the contrary, commands are issued by God precisely because humans want to do otherwise. Your true test as a believer is not whether you will changed over to a total heterosexual but whether in your particular circumstances you will come to the conviction that knowing Jesus (Phil 3) is better than getting what you want, when you want it, and with whom you want it with. When we can look a temptation 'in the face' and say "I'd rather have Jesus," then we have made progress. In the deepest sense, in doing God's will we are not being deprived. We are getting something better, something that made Paul and other believers willing to count everything else as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ.
 
None of us get a pass from Jesus' demand that we take up our cross, deny ourselves, lose our lives, and follow him. But when we do this we also find that, in comparison to what the world asks of us, his yoke is easy and burden light. Our "flesh" will say no, but our spirit will say yes. I'd rather have Jesus.
 
Blessings,
 
Rob
 
Dr. Robert Gagnon

 

From: B. 
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 9:22 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: sexuality and heaven
 

Dr. Gagnon,

    Thank you for your thorough and gentle reply. I appreciate your time.

-B.


 

__________________________________________________________

 

Jack Rogers and Analogies

4/5/07

Dear Dr. Gagnon

I was just reading your piece on analogies in response to Jack Rogers’ book and your response to his response to you.  I suspect that he and others choose slavery and women's ordination as analogies to the interpretation of Scripture in relation to the question of homosex behavior because they deal with justice issues.  In other words the analogies are chosen not because they are close analogies or distant analogies but rather because they fit in the category in which the author sees the current issue.

Now, as to Rogers’ assertion that the justification of slavery is tied to Scottish Common Sense Realism as an interpretive technique, I suspect he is correct.  Mark Noll, in his, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, argues that it was precisely the naive method of interpreting the Bible used by American Christians prior to the Civil War that allowed many to believe that slavery was allowed according to the Bible.  The method used a propositional reading of the text.  I would suggest, but I am not quite as sure, that the arguments against the ordination of women followed a similar method, particularly when those opposed to the ordination of women argued that Paul's teaching, or maybe I should say their interpretation of Paul's teaching trumped narratives about women in leadership as direct teaching was to be held higher than narrative.

I am not quite as sure how Roger's argument about divorce fits in this same schema. 

My concern is that I do not use the methods of the Old Princeton Divines in my interpretation of Scripture.  I find not only specific passages that say that homosex behavior is sinful but also a broad theme within the Bible that supports a God created binary relationship between men and women.  I find this broad theme from Genesis to Revelation, in creation texts, in analogies between marriage and the relationship between God and Israel and Christ and the Church, as well as in particular passages about marriage and sexual behavior.  The whole of Song of Solomon is a case in point.  None of the songs portray male/male or female/female sexual attraction!

My point in all of this is to suggest that when one begins with analogies that are related to justice, as Rogers does in his book, and then declares that those who disagree with those analogies must therefore use a particular method of interpreting Scripture, one has said 1 + x = 2, but cannot prove that x=1.  One can use other methods than Old Princeton methods of interpreting the Bible and still come to the conclusion that homosex behavior is sinful.

Maybe the real problem is not only in the particular analogies chosen but also in the reason for the choice of analogies.  If one chooses a justice framework for one's analogies, as Rogers has, then one suggests that the question at hand is one of justice.  Rogers’ begins his book, not with his arguments about the proper methods one must use to interpret Scripture and not with his interpretation of relevant passages of Scripture but with his analogies.  One has to wonder then if analogies produce exegesis of vice versa.

One last comment on an issue that is not directly related to your argument.  You say, in response to Roger’s use of ethnicity and gender as analogues to homosexual orientation and behavior: 

Second, Rogers is also once again mixing apples and oranges. Ethnicity and gender cannot be compared with specific impulses to do what Scripture pervasively, strongly, absolutely, and counterculturally forbids. Rogers does not seem to understand the distinction. Quite simply, ethnicity and gender are: 

·                     100% heritable

·                     absolutely immutable

·                     primarily non-behavioral

·                     inherently benign

Homosexual “orientation,” like many impulses, especially sexual impulses, is: 

·                     not 100% heritable

·                     not absolutely impervious to outside influences

·                     primarily behavioral

·                     thus not necessarily benign

Unfortunately the history of racism in the United States makes the question of ethnicity a political and social question as well as a question of heredity.  If one has a white father and an African American mother, or vice versa, one is still considered to be African American by the dominant culture, with all the social, political and criminal assumptions that go along with that designation.  That is part of, (and I believe falsely used), Rogers’ analogy.  The dominant culture makes unconscious assumptions about the behaviors of people who are African American.  The dominant culture also makes a variety of assumptions about people who are gay or lesbian which are not necessarily accurate, such as the assumption that a gay male uses feminine gestures and/or behavior and that some lesbians exhibit male gestures and behavior.  But these assumptions about gays and lesbians are not only false but also beside the point.  The problem is with homsex behavior, not with one’s gestures.  Thus Rogers’ analogy, based on the prejudices of the dominant culture, is false.  The problem is not prejudice, it is Biblical interpretation.  And the problem is not that all who disagree with Rogers’ on the issue of the sinfulness of homosex behavior “[get] it wrong is that they were relying on Scottish Common Sense Philosophy (including appeals to “natural law,” selective literalism, and proof-texting) and the scholastic theology of Francis Turretin instead of the teachings of Jesus Christ,” to quote Rogers.  We don’t.  I don’t and from what I read of your methods, you don’t either.  Rogers fails because he depends on outdated information on the heritability of homosexual inclinations, failed interpretations of particular passages of Scripture, and fails to note the broad theme in Scripture that supports lifelong, monogamous heterosexual marriage. 

Bob

A PC(USA) Pastor 

One final note:  I believe I have used the term, “homosex” in the same way that you have in your writings.  It is my intention to use the term to refer specifically to sexual relations between people of the same sex.

 

6/28/07

Dear Bob,

Thank you for your stimulating comments.

It is true that Rogers chooses slavery and women's ordination because they correspond to justice categories. But that does not make Rogers' choice of distant analogies over close analogues irrelevant. The proper purpose of engaging in analogical reasoning is to assess what categories best fit the issue in question through comparison-cases that share the greatest number of correspondences. To eschew the closest analogues in favor of distant analogues is to predetermine one's own results--here endorsing homosexual practice is a social justice issue--and thus to make analogical reasoning superfluous. The 'game' of analogical reasoning becomes fixed from the start. You make this point yourself midway through your comments.

As to your point about Scottish Common Sense Realism, you are quite right that the Bible's opposition to homosexual practice is not limited to specific texts and that a two-sexes prerequisite underlies every discussion of sexual relationships in the pages of Scripture. This is confirmed, as I showed in my other critiques of Rogers, by an examination of relevant scriptural texts in their literary and historical context--a context that Rogers repeatedly misunderstands and shows poor knowledge of. But I wouldn't go as far as you in discounting the relevance of appeal to specific texts. The degree to which specific texts in Scripture take a strong position about a matter is a vital part of an overall assessment of Scripture's stance on homosexual practice. In debating the merits and demerits of adult consensual incest between a man and his mother (or stepmother), one would be foolish to give little attention to the Levitical and Deuteronomic prohibitions as well as Paul's words about the incestuous man in 1 Corinthians 5. Appeal to specific texts is not only possible but desirable, so long as they are read correctly in their historical and literary context. The fact that Paul likens homosexual practice to idolatry as particularly severe instances of suppression of the truth about God transparent in material creation, sees it as a violation of male-female sexual complementarity (a point confirmed by the historical context), and makes an absolute indictment that includes every and any type of homosexual union unacceptable (another point confirmed by the historical context) is very important for an overall evaluation of homosexual practice in Scripture. But perhaps (or even probably) you would agree with this point.

On your last point I agree that society at different points may add false prejudicial characteristics to ethnicity and femaleness that would increase resemblances to homosexual practice (this is Rogers' point). But my point is that Scripture itself does not consistently share these prejudices (nor does reason) and to the extent that Scripture does not (and reason does not) is the extent to which the analogies with homosexual practice break down. For example, the New Testament rejects the notion that being a Gentile is in the first instance an intrinsic desire to do what God expressly forbids but it does not reject the same notion for homosexual desires. Nor (obviously) should it inasmuch as there are lots of innate sexual desires that violate embodied or formal realities and Scripture's strong prohibitions. I could say more on this but I think my article already does that. Again, I think we are not far apart from each other on this point, if we are apart at all.

I appreciate your thoughts,

Rob

 __________________________________________________________

 

A Person with Homosexual Desire Asks: How Does One Decide Which Commands of God in Scripture to Follow?

From: Paul
Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2007 1:17 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Basic Question on Christian Ethics
 

Dear Dr. Gagnon... 

FINALLY, I have met (or in this case read) of a scholar on this current rift of homosexuality in the church. I am so grateful that you are well-studied (my nephew is a recent graduate of Dartmouth, and I received a M.Div from [name of seminary withheld]).  

As for my background, . . . . I felt strangely called to the altar to serve my Lord. Living in [the South] in a conservative Diocese, my rector advised me to "leave the Episcopal Church" as the current row at that time (this was 1988) was not "really" about women, but about letting gays be ministers "because if we let women be ministers, then we have to let gays as well." I let my call drop, as I was indeed sexually attracted to men, and was afraid (and ashamed) that I would "be found out" in the Episcopal discernment process.  

At this stage in my life, I was attending very conservative Bible studies, getting involved in things like "Jesus Go-Fests", attending charismatic worship services....and FERVENTLY praying that Jesus bring me the right woman. Because I was ashamed of my attraction to men,  I cannot tell you how many times I prayed to the Almighty to take this burden from me. I dated something like 10 women - all wonderful, great looking Christian women - but nothing- no urge to kiss...nothing. I continued praying fervently, and dating...hoping, and praying that I would meet "the one." One day, one of the women that I was dating told me that she had been praying about Jesus' Great Commandment and had focused on the last part of the command - "as you love yourself..." Needless to say, this started the ball rolling on how I was treating (and loving) myself, and indeed, how God had created me.  

Why do I write this to you? Obviously, my theology has changed since my conservative-evangelical days as a Christian (for your information, I define Christian as one who believes that Jesus is the expected messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament.) Yes, it was the Great Commandment that brought me out of the closet (and a sermon from one of the priests, when he talked about who the Good Samaritan was...in the parable of 'the neighbor.') As an Episcopalian, in Midland Texas, every Sunday I heard the words "this is the basis of ALL the laws..." in connection to the Great Commandment. Hence, that Commandment has become the basis of my Christian ethics... IF I do something that causes any harm in my relationship with God, which causes me to love God less, and/or if I do something wrong which causes my neighbor not to Love God...it is wrong.   

My question to you: I don't understand, in all my reading of your scholarship, on how being homosexual causes me to love God any less.  For me, this is the basis of Jesus teaching...it is as simple as that.   

In my discussions of this great theological debate with my good conservative brothers and sisters in Christ, I have asked the question, which I do not get an answer: "How do you decide what Biblical precepts to follow, and how do you judge what not to follow?" Other than the Great Commandment, I have not found "a magic formula" or central ethic...other than "well, if it says it in the Bible, then that is what I do..." Of course, you know that the Bible says many things that we no longer follow (for example, there is NO mass killing of children who curse their parents (Lev 20.9)... And, my Priest from Fort Worth was right: from the New Testament verse as we DO allow women to speak in church (1 Corinthians 14.34), we do allow women to teach men (see Tim 2.12, 3.8)... these are contrary to New Testament teachings.  

So, very sincerely, how do you order your life and figure out your basic ethic on living? I have been trying to understand how evangelicals order there lives, what basis of ethics do they use, since obviously they pick and chose what to believe in the bible... I have found NO ANSWERS. 

Paul Philpy

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2007 3:41 PM
To: Paul
Subject: RE: Basic Question on Christian Ethics
 

Dear Paul, 

As you know from my work I am not an inerrantist with regard to the interpretation of Scripture. I recognize tension and sometime even disagreement within the canon of Scripture. Jesus himself overrode the Mosaic exemption given to men as regards polygyny and divorce by appealing to the inherent “twoness” of the sexes as a basis for limiting the number of persons in a sexual union (whether serially or concurrently) to two—a point, incidentally, that has enormous ramifications for your position on homosexual practice. There are indeed some gray areas in interpreting what commandments to follow and not to follow. There is no doubt, too, that philosophic reason, scientific reason, and experience assist us in the decision-making process.  

At the same time, the degree to which a given view of Scripture can be regarded as a “core value” determines the weight of the burden of proof on those who would argue for a deviation from the biblical witness. The more pervasive, absolute, strongly held, and counterculturally held a given view is in Scripture the more evident it is that this view belongs to a core value. Scripture’s witness for a two-sexes prerequisite for marriage and against homosexual practice is, in my view, a core value in Scripture’s sexual ethics—precisely because it is a value held pervasively, absolutely, strongly, and counterculturally. So claims such as yours, namely that loving homosexual bonds are within God’s will, have a huge mountain to claim to demonstrate that such a view is compatible with Scripture’s “big picture.”  

It becomes even more difficult to make the case when one realizes that alleged “new knowledge” arguments (exploitation, orientation, or misogyny arguments) are really not radically “new” pieces of information for the Greco-Roman milieu and thus, are not likely to have changed the views espoused by Scripture’s authors. Throw into this mix the basic problems of attempted merger with, and erotic desire for, sexual sames (a nature argument) and the scientific evidence for disproportionately high rates of measurable harm in homosexual unions (owing, significantly, to the absence of a true sexual complement in same-sex pairings) and the case for overriding the overwhelming evidence of Scripture fragments. 

If you really want to give careful consideration to the issues that you have raised to me then I recommend that you read two things that I have written. First, read my recent article “How Bad Is Homosexual Practice according to Scripture and Does Scripture’s View Apply to Committed Homosexual Unions?” at http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexWinterResponse.pdf (especially the two appendices that address the two questions of the title directly, pp. 12-22). Then read my “Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice” at http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf. You can get the table of contents for this article at http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoReformedReviewTableCont.pdf. You will see material on a nature argument, alleged analogies for disregarding the biblical witness, and the so-called “new knowledge” arguments. 

You say: "I don't understand, in all my reading of your scholarship, on how being homosexual causes me to love God any less." This is like saying: I don't understand how being polysexual or pedosexual (or any other orientation to do what God forbids) causes me to love God any less. One loves God less by violating his clear commandments. If you love God you will keep his commandments. Paul in Romans 1 presents homosexual practice as a dishonoring and degrading of the integrity of one's sexual self--in effect, a sacrilege. In dishonoring the person God made you to be you dishonor God.

One last point. You make two problematic moves in your theological justification for engaging in homosexual practice: (1) You assume that if you can’t get rid of homosexual passions and/or generate heterosexual passions God must accept your acting on such passions; and (2) you can’t love yourself or, for that matter, love God unless you can live out of such desires. Neither premise stands up to theological scrutiny. Jesus calls us all to take up our crosses, deny ourselves, and lose our lives as we follow him on the road to discipleship. Paul speaks at length of what it means to die with Christ to self and to live radically for God. The identity of a believer is not constructed out of homosexual desires or any other desires to do things that God expressly and strongly forbids but rather out of the person that God has created, and now recreated, us to be.  

Jesus does not call us to “love ourselves” in his interpretation of Lev 19:18, the second great commandment. He rather calls us to redirect that innate self-oriented love that we all have to an equally intense love of others. All of us struggle with deeply ingrained desires to do things that God forbids. You have sinful desires of one sort, others have sinful desires of another sort. No one gets a pass from doing the will of God (note the opening petitions of the Lord’s Prayer). What counts, Paul tells us, “is keeping the commandments of God.” We all must face the reality that the “knowledge of Christ” far surpasses the gratification of fleshly aims (Philippians 3). Until we come to grips with the fact that knowing Christ, and thus “taking every thought captive for obedience of Jesus” (2 Cor 10), is better than gratifying sinful desire, no progress in spiritual development or maturity is possible. We have to want Jesus more than the gratification of any given sinful desire, which we will only come by a greater realization of how great Jesus is. 

By the reasoning you give, men who struggle with polyamorous urges should accept such urges, as should persons sexually drawn to close blood relations or, even worse, children, for to do otherwise would be to hate oneself and violate the second great commandment. Therefore, your reasoning cannot be accurate and must be subjected to the renewal of the mind that comes with ongoing reflection on the gospel of God's great love for us in Christ. 

Thank you for your questions and the civility with which you express them. I wish I could wave away, as if with a magic wand, all your difficult circumstances. But that, apparently is not God’s way in most cases. As Paul found out with regard to his “thorn in the flesh,” God’s grace is sufficient for us—meaning that it is often in and through our experience of deprivation not in our immediate deliverance from such, much less the avoidance of hard times, that God’s power in our lives is brought to completion. Although it will often seem otherwise, your intractable, intense urges to have sex with other men are an opportunity for tremendous growth in God, not by gratifying such desires but rather but taking up your cross and denying them. God’s grace is sufficient for you, for me, and for everyone who stands at the foot of the cross. 

Blessings, 

Rob

 __________________________________________________________

 

Where have I spoken about why women's ordination is a bad analogy for the acceptance of homosexual practice?

From: F.

Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2007 10:40 AM

Dr. Gagnon, 

My name is F_________________, Sr. Pastor of ______ Church of ____________. We are a former PCA church, recently re-aligned with the RCA because our views of women in ministry were incompatible with staying in the PCA.   I have enjoyed all of your on-line resources regarding homosexuality and the Bible, and thank you for your hard work. 

I have a quick question: It seems like I read an article of yours but can't seem to find it on the question of how accepting women's ordination does not automatically lead to acceptance of homosexuality. I have my own arguments against this slippery-slope idea, but would love to find where you have addressed the differences between the two issues. Do you have a link to something you have written specifically to this issue?  I think the article I remember was one in which someone was accusing you of inconsistency since you are pro women's ordination. 

Thanks for any and all help. 

Warmly,

F.

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2007 2:20 PM 

Dear F., 

Thank you for your kind note and sorry for the delay in responding. 

Perhaps you are thinking of: 

"Jack Rogers's Flawed Use of Analogical Reasoning in Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality" (Nov. 2, 2006) at http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/RogersUseAnalogies.pdf (pdf) and http://www.robgagnon.net/RogersUseAnalogies.htm (html).  

My long rebuttal of Myers/Scanzoni (http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf) has this on pp. 93-94 as a short summary: 

An analogy to women in ministry is flawed for three reasons. First, it confuses categories. Being a woman is much more of a fixed, immutable condition than the experience of homosexual desire. Unlike impulses generally, the sex of an individual is 100% congenitally determined (i.e., by chromosomes). It cannot be elevated or lowered in ‘intensity’ in accordance with early childhood socialization, macrocultural influences, or individual life experiences. Moreover, being a woman is not a self-definition directly linked to sinful behavior. Homosexual passion, on the other hand, is a direct desire for scripturally prohibited, structurally incongruous behavior. Second, as noted in the refutation of the misogyny argument above, there are many places in Scripture that take a positive view of women in ministry, which in turn provides some degree of precedent for expanding such roles. Unlike the misguided refrain, “in Christ there is neither heterosexual orientation or homosexual orientation,” one doesn’t have to dream up an antinomy for Gal 3:28, “there is no ‘male and female.’” Third, the direction of Scripture’s countercultural witness has to be considered. Relative to the broader milieu, the New Testament witness regarding women looks fairly liberating; but, again, the only countercultural dynamic operating in Scripture as regards homosexual practice is in the direction of greater opposition.

 Hope this helps, 

Rob

__________________________________________________________

Email from a father whose teenage son has "come out," on my Two Views book

From: Mark

Sent: Friday, March 02, 2007 7:30 PM

To: Robert Gagnon

Subject: Two Views

 

Dear Robert, 

I have just finished reading "Two Views" and can say that your treatment of the subject came across as very logical, understandable (for a lay person) and treated the biblical narrative well. I found it a different story with Via and noted that his presupposition that same sex attraction is a given state rather than a chosen state influenced his treatment of the subject considerably and made it clear that he was subject to the very accusation made against your essay. I have recently read a book "Battle for Normality" by Gerard Van den Aardweg and and wondered if you had read this short work and had any opinions. I found it to be an eye opening look at the nature of the homosexual condition which he links to peer exclusion in the early years of child development (7-8 yrs) and later developing into erotic desire for the those in the excluding group in adolescence. Having recently suffered the devastation of a teenage son who has just made a claim to being homosexual this book was like looking into a mirror of my sons behaviour. This book has helped me to understand my sons choice, realize that he is not a "homosexual" in the sense of being born this way and that he has a chosen this path. It is interesting to note that my son initially claimed to have been gay from about the age of 13 but now after several months he has reduced this to 7 or 8. He will soon be in a position to claim that he was born this way when in fact, I as the always observant father can assert, this is in fact a self deception designed to legitimize his behaviour and choice.  

It is a evident that Via supports this type of self deception, due to his own blindness in this matter.  

Thank you for your stand in these issues. I recognize that as the days move forward this issue will be the one that tests the church more than any other. I am sure you have suffered and will suffer for this "stand" that you take. You have clearly taken up your cross, I thank God that Jesus abides with you in this. 

Every Blessing Mark ________, UK

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2007 12:22 PM
To: M.
Subject: RE: Two Views  

Dear Mark, 

Thank you very much for your kind note and sorry for the delay in responding. 

I haven't yet read the book you mention but will need to, as your email indicates. Your love for your son will be very important in years to come, although ultimately the decision to obey God rests with your son. Choice is a factor in some homosexual development but often it is incremental, blind, mixed with unsolicited congenital and social influences that increase risk for homosexual development. In other words, one may choose action A in ignorance of the fact that action A will increase risk for homosexual development when combined with congenital and social factors. The important issue is not the degree of choice but the issue of obedience, since sin infects us all as an innate impulse passed on by ancestors. 

I have included below some email correspondence on my website (www.robgagnon.net) that I hope will help. 

Blessings, 

Rob

 

__________________________________________________________

Why meeting nice "gay" and lesbian persons should not lead to approval of homosexual practice

From: Brien
Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 9:52 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics
 

I was raised a gay hating PCA member.  Recently something changed the way I think towards homosexuals.   

About a year ago my girlfriend invited me attended [an Episcopalian church in Connecticut].  Many of the members there happened to be homosexual.  I'd never been around Christian's who were openly gay.  Initially I thought it was blasphemous, but I was curious so I started attended services there regularly.  I've always been theologically inclined and open minded, so I rationalized this as an opportunity to observe what "Christian homosexuals" are really like. 

I assumed the sermons would be filled with homosexual comments, they weren't.  Actually the sermons were excellent but I sexuality rarely came up.  Instead of disliking the place I grew to really appreciate it.  Something was different about that church.  More then anything else I felt the presence of non-judgmental unconditional love.  Now I'm ashamed to have questioned their faith in the first place. 

For example, they had a mentally handicap person participating in their service every Sunday.  He rarely did things correctly, the Episcopalian order of worship is very ornate.  But every Sunday his imperfect participation struck me as a perfect image of our relationship with God.  I found it beautiful and very appropriate.  He was one of my favorite parts of the church. 

I ran into your page during a random Google.  I left your page five minutes ago but I felt compelled to share this...I can't say why and there's no need to reply.  I'm not in the habit of random emails, I simply couldn't shake the conviction to write this. 

Thanks and God bless, 

-Brien

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, February 02, 2007 12:32 PM
To: 'Brien
Subject: RE: The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics
 

Brien, 

Thank you for your email, which is thoughtful and not abrasive. It may be that God had you send the email to change my views—but possibly instead to have your views changed (or both). 

  1. If you grew up “gay-hating” then you were in the wrong place to start. You shouldn’t have been hating anybody, least of all those engaged in serial unrepentant sin who need your help. The point is to reclaim people for the kingdom of God, not consign them coldly to hell.

 

  1. That you would change your position over the issue of homosexual practice simply by finding out that persons with homosexual impulses are nice people underscores that (a) your views were not properly grounded in Scripture to begin with and (b) you were apparently operating with the faulty notion that persons with same-sex attractions bray at the moon, i.e. are complete moral degenerates. Then, when you found out that the latter was not the case, you switched views. But the reality is that you only switched from one erroneous position to another. People are great at bifurcating their lives, being very good in some areas and very bad in others. The fact that a person violates the commands of God in one area of life but otherwise appears to be a good person does not validate the violation. Some very nice men have extraordinary difficulty in controlling sexual urges for more than one person. Does that mean that they must not be nice people or that having sex with more than one person concurrently must be a good thing? No and no. Even pedophiles are not complete moral werewolves or subhuman beings.

 

  1. If you have acquitted in your own mind persons who engage in homosexual behavior then, contrary to what you say, you practice “judgmental conditional love.” For you have made a determination that God himself has not made. You can be just as judgmental acquitting someone of behavior that God rejects as condemning someone for behavior that God has not condemned. By your own statements the only way that you felt that you could love people was if you learned to accept what they did. But that’s not love. God’s love, manifested in sending Christ to die for us, was not the kind of “nonjudgmental unconditional love” that you talk about. Yes, God loves us unconditionally, but, no, God does not refuse to pronounce judgment on those who live their lives in serial unrepentant opposition to his will. See Romans 1-2, and 6:1-8:17: God’s wrath is manifested in allowing people to engage in self-dishonoring impulses that mar the image of God stamped on their being; God’s grace is manifested when God destroys the lordship of sin in our lives and works toward changing us into the image of Christ. God loves us enough to want to change us into the image of Christ. Moreover, the New Testament, including Jesus, is quite clear that continuance in unrepentant sin of an egregious sort puts one at risk of not inheriting the kingdom of God. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, in between the two antitheses about sex, comes this statement: If your hand, eye, or foot threatens your downfall, cut it off; it’s better to go into heaven maimed then to be sent to hell full-bodied. So when Jesus reached out to sinners, whether economic exploiters (tax collectors) or sexual sinners, he urged them to “sin no longer” lest something worse happen to them than a capital sentencing in this life. If you think or act otherwise, it is not because you have now learned to love more than Jesus or his apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, did (compare, for example, the case of the incestuous man in 1 Corinthians 5: your views resemble more those of the Corinthians than of Paul). It is because you have learned to love less. See the quote of Augustine that I make at http://www.robgagnon.net/Achtemeier-LaymanControReply.htm

 

  1. Please do not compare being mentally handicapped with acting out on homosexual urges. The analogy is badly flawed. People are not responsible for feeling any urges but they are responsible for what they do with what they feel—unless, of course, they are insane, under severe physical coercion, or are so mentally handicapped that they don’t know what they are doing. Most men, owing to significantly higher rates of the main sex hormone, testosterone, are far more prone to a polysexual orientation than are women. Does that mean that we should now embrace in the church what the Gay Men’s Issues in Religion of the American Academy of Religion referred to as “polyfidelity”? Obviously not. And yet many men are intensely wired to be so. Let me be clear about this: No command of God is predicated on people first losing all intense urges to violate the command in question. And since all behavior is at some level biologically attributable to brain structures, it is absurd to argue that behavior can be exempted from moral valuation if the impulse to engage in it is partly congenital. Of course, too, Paul defined sin as an innate impulse, running through the members of the human body, passed on by an ancestor, and never entirely within human control.

 

  1. Of course we are all imperfect. But as Paul said in Galatians 2:19-20: “I through the law died in relation to the law for the express purpose that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Or as Jesus said: If you want to become my disciple you must deny yourself, take up your cross, lose your life, and come follow me. It really doesn’t matter what pre-existing urges anyone has. No one gets an exemption from dying to self-orientation and keeping the commands of God.

 

  1. I urge you to read my work more fully. You may want to start with the following: http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf

 

Blessings to you, 

Robert Gagnon 

__________________________________________________________

Jesus, eunuchs, and the allegation of a 'gay Jesus'

From: J.
Sent: Mon 1/15/2007 1:02 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Princeton University Scholar Maliks Faris Scholarship on Eunuchs and Homosexuals

Hello, 

Malik Faris, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Princeton University, has contributed extensive research, supporting the fact that homosexuals were once known as 'eunuchs.'  Perhaps if you have time, I highly recommend that you visit his website at http://www.well.com/user/aquarius/.  In the past, you had asserted that no 'serious' Bible scholar would make the claim that Jesus was gay.  Former professor at Columbia University, Dr. Morton Smith, and Emory University graduate and Professor of theology, Dr. Theodore Jennings, are and were not serious Bible scholars to you?  I could name more individuals, but you understand my point.  Again, I hope you find time to visit Malik Faris's website. 

Peace

J.

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 9:28 AM
To: J.
Subject: RE: Princeton University Scholar Maliks Faris Scholarship on Eunuchs and Homosexuals
 

J., 

Probably "born eunuchs" in the ancient world did include people homosexually inclined, which incidentally puts to the lie the oft-repeated claim that the ancient world could not even conceive of persons that were congenitally influenced toward exclusive same-sex attractions. I have always argued that homosexual orientation is not a radically "new" concept. This undermines the "new knowledge" orientation argument put forward by pro-homosex activists. 

Jennings is not a serious biblical scholar, he's a prof. of theology (there's a difference). An example of how far wrong Jennings can be is his thesis that Jesus' response to the centurion's request that his "boy" be healed indicates Jesus' commendation of homosexual practice (see, incidentally, the rebuttal of his article in Journal of Biblical Literature made by D. B. Saddington in JBL 125:1 [Spring 2006]: 140-42). For a rebuttal of a pro-homosex reading of the centurion story see n. 59 in my online notes to my published essay in Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views at http://www.robgagnon.net/2VOnlineNotes.htm (html), http://www.robgagnon.net/2Views/HomoViaRespNotesRev.pdf (pdf). Needless to say, his views that Jesus had a homoerotic relationship with the beloved disciple and that there were homoerotic contours to his footwashing of the disciples are nonsense. ).

Morton Smith was a serious biblical scholar but he has not made a serious or reputable case for identifying Jesus as homosexual. See now the recent correction of his views by Scott G. Brown, "The Question of Motive in the Case against Morton Smith," Journal of Biblical Literature 125:2 (Summer 2006): 351-83 (esp. pp.  354-73). Brown shows that from the beginning Smith's statement that the nighttime encounter between Jesus and a "youth wearing a linen cloth over his naked body" briefly mentioned in the disputed document "Secret Mark" was nothing more than an un-argued hunch and that, with time, Smith "acknowledged that this matter [was] impossible to decide and actively corrected claims that he thought that longer (i.e. Secret) Mark proved that Jesus was gay" (p. 365). Brown then goes on to show (pp. 365-73) that the homoerotic reading of this text is highly unlikely.

Have you read my work on Jesus and homosexual practice? If not, please do so. Start with my online critique of David Myers and Letha Scanzoni, at http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf 

Jesus' comparison of men who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven with "born eunuchs" shows that Jesus categorized "born eunuchs" as persons not having any sex (Matt 19), for certainly Jesus was not giving the disciples permission to have sex outside of marriage and thereby avoid his newly enunciated standard for marriage. So, from that standpoint, any argument that is made about "born eunuchs" including homosexual persons (with which I would agree) leads to the view that Jesus did not give homosexually oriented persons the option of sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. 

Blessings, 

Rob Gagnon


 

__________________________________________________________

 

A heartfelt email from a woman with same-sex attractions

[Note: Below is a correspondence from a few years ago that I happened to come across again just the other day and checked on.]

10/17/03

Dr. Gagnon: 

You have written by far the best material I have ever read regarding homosexuality and what is wrong with it.  Certainly you have provided the most comprehensive biblical assessment I know to exist.  Thank you. 

There is not a single thing you've written with which I intellectually disagree. It might interest you to know that I am a lesbian, and as such, I have a serious question for you.  It is this:  Although I understand the biblical logic and prohibitions, how do I get my heart to let go?   

For whatever reasons, for as long as I can remember I've had an intense emotional craving to "connect" with females.  Contrary to what many people apparently think, it only culminates in sex, it does not begin there. Nevertheless, the closeness of those moments seems somehow to heal me and complete me, which is what makes something inside of me resentful of the prohibitions. It hurts to have to go backwards to aloneness and emptiness. 

And its hurt is of suicidal proportions. 

As I said, Dr. Gagnon, your material is superior.  I just don't know what to do with my heart. 

Thanks for listening.

C.

 

10/21/03

Dear C., 

Thank you for your kind and clearly heartfelt correspondence. I applaud your desire to conform your life in accordance with Scripture's standards for sexual ethics, albeit with some personal tension. 

The most important thing for you to do is to get counseling from persons working in reparative therapy to help you connect with your feminine self. You need to work on recognizing that you are complete and whole in your own femaleness. Therapy can help you identify circumstances in life, in relationships with parents, siblings, or peers, where the development of a secure sexual identity as a female was disrupted. Healing these areas of life will help you to see that another woman cannot, in fact, complete you sexually. If a sexual relationship is to be had, it should be had with a man, a complementary sexual other, because only in such relationships can one interact with a true sexual counterpart that supplies the missing (in this case, masculine) sexual element. But the first goal is to become secure in the integrity of your own true sexual identity as a woman. 

Do you know of Exodus International or of any other transformation ministry in your area? 

Blessings,

 

Robert Gagnon

 

P.S. Also, a good text in Scripture for you to begin reading is 2 Corinthians. It will help you to see the value of endurance in difficult times in shaping Christ in you. Don't give up; let God do his work in your life.

 

[Just recently I came across her original correspondence to me and wasn't sure that I had responded (I was checking office email at home where searching for earlier correspondence is not convenient). So i sent C. a note.]

 

12/25/06

Did I ever respond to this [i.e., your 2003 email]? 

Rob

 

12/26/06

Yes, you did.  Your answer was immensely helpful and encouraging. 

How thoughtful of you to have wanted to make certain.  Thank you, Dr. Gagnon. 

C.

 

__________________________________________________________

 

Where do I stand on registered homosexual partnerships?

From: D
Sent: Wed 12/20/2006 6:34 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Request for assistance

Dear Dr Gagnon,

I wonder whether you would be interested in offering a comment on a debate some of us are having over the issue of civil unions v relationship register. The Australian context is that in 2004 the federal marriage amendment act was passed defining marriage as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”. This has not pleased the homosexual lobby who have tried (are trying) to get around the legislation through State legislatures. Civil unions are marriages by another name, whilst relationship registers can be that, but they can also be little more than ways of securing transfer of property, superannuation, etc. There is a basic quarrel on the evangelical side between those who basically say we must oppose any and everything that gives credence to a homosexual relationship and those who say we must protect marriage as defined above by opposing any legislation that looks like marriage, but concede the lesser ground of securing property rights, etc, indeed, some will go further and argue this is a matter of natural justice, tat we wouldn’t want denied to ourselves.

If you had the time and interest I would be interested in your take on this issue (however I understand this may not be possible). The wider context of course is that there is general apathy in the Australian public if not support for the homosexual lobby on this issue, so that we do have our backs to the wall. The Christian Church has just fought hard and long over the human cloning issue here and achieved through their efforts a remarkable close vote in our senate, but we still lost.

I’m writing to you since I greatly appreciated reading “The Bible and Homosexual Practice” several years ago.

I enclose a paper I wrote several months ago on the subject, which sets out the views of the main protagonists.

(Rev.) D.

 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2006 11:03 PM
To: d
Subject: RE: Request for assistance
 

Dear D., 

Thank you for your email. 

I have not read all of your paper but scanned it owing to time constraints. Thank you for your kind comments about my work. 

My brief observation is that any and all attempts to provide legal recognition of homosexual unions should be rejected. The reason is simple: any such step in the law, even a relationship register, can only be a transitional step leading ultimately to gay marriage and the consequent curtailment of all liberties to speak out against homosexual activity in the public sector. Developments in parts of the United States, in Canada, and in some Scandinavian and lowland European countries have proven this point time and again. 

Moreover, it is unfair and illogical for the law to restrict such relationship registers or civil unions to only two parties (as these Australian laws do) since the limitation of sexual unions to two persons is itself predicated on the 'twoness' of the sexes, male and female: the bringing together of the two, and only two, sexes into an indivisible whole means that a third party is neither necessary nor desirable. This is exactly when Jesus understood to be the case when he based his argument on marital monogamy and indissolubility on Gen 1:27 "male and female he made them" and Gen 2:24 "for this reason a man shall . . . be joined to his woman and the two shall become one flesh." Once it is argued, as has been the case for homosexual unions, that the quality of the affective bond (love and commitment of consenting adults) is what counts, it is inconsistent to limit the parties in the sexual bond to two. Many on the homosexual side have recognized this point already in discussion about polyamory (see my article at http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf, pp. 36-43). 

The only basis on which a bond between persons of two sexes could be validated for property transfers, etc. is on the basis of friendship, not the sexual character of the bond. And friendships cannot be limited only to relationships involving two persons since three or more persons could constitute a legitimate friendship. 

A person can will his property to anyone; the issue is only the degree of tax sheltering. Hospitals now have much more liberal policies as regards unrelated "friends." There is absolutely no reason to provide special benefits to a homosexual bond that would not be given to any number of friends specially committed to each other. We wouldn't think of providing relationship registers for adult, committed incestuous unions, polyamorous unions, or pedophilic unions, would we? Why? Because doing so would clearly convey civil acceptance of (indeed, incentives for) such unions. Why would we want to send the signal, then, that homosexual bonds are to be accepted and encouraged? 

These are my thoughts on the matter. 

Blessings, 

Rob


__________________________________________________________

 

Do I operate with a notion of mind/body dualism or "physicalism"?

12/4/06

Professor Gagnon, 

I find your work helpful. I have a quick question. Do you think that persons are non-physical (a mind/body dualism) or physical (either an emergent form of physicalism or something)? I understand if you are too busy to reply. This will help me understand your writing on gender complementary and help in explanation to others.

I understand if you are too busy to reply. This will help me understand your writing on gender.

Thanks much,

B.

undergraduate religion major

_________ College

 

12/4/06

Hi B_____, 

Thanks for your question. 

The body, this body that we now are and inhabit, includes both a capacity to receive influences from the God beyond us and impulses to do what God expressly forbids. There is an identity that is possible both beyond this particular mortal body and yet never apart from some kind of bodily existence. Dualism would be too strong since it suggests an anti-body mentality or the possibility of living life apart from any bodily existence. Nor is the sum total of our existence merely the body we now are and have. 

At least this is how Paul viewed things. The result is both "what we do in the body matters, especially as regards our sexual life" and "one's identity can exist apart from specific biological urges to do what God forbids." 

Hope this helps, 

Dr. Gagnon 

 

12/4/06

Professor,

Thanks for the reply. Yes, I agree that mind/body debates tend to be too focused on the mind and not the body's relation and importance to the mind. But, just to make sure i am understanding you correctly, the person (the experiencing, conscious person) is non-physical and has real choice in how he or she interacts with the body they "now are and inhabit?"

Take Care,

B.

 

12/4/06

B_____,

I think that I will sidestep the physical/non-physical debate because the chief division in the human is not here but in the capacity to obey God (or receive God's power to do right) vs. biological urges to do what God forbids. Paul sees humans as capable of understanding the right but ultimately incapable of true lasting reform apart from the Spirit of God (Romans 7:7-23, which, in my view, is primarily about pre-Christian life, not life as a believer, though believers may succumb to a Spirit-less life).

At any given moment in an individual's life there is limited choice to say "Yes" to God's working (which includes God's capacity to enable a "yes") or "No" (which is, in effect, a "Yes" to my own self-striving and working).

For example, a pedophile who experiences deeply engrained sexual desires for children, did not ask to experience such desires; but such a one is responsible for what he does with those desires. This is true for how we deal with all innate urges.

I recommend further to you my article:

"Scriptural Perspectives on Homosexuality and Sexual Identity" in Journal of Psychology and Christianity 24:4 (Winter 2005): 293-303.

Your college library should be able to get you a copy through interlibrary loan. Actually the whole issue is a good one. You can order a copy of the particular journal issue for $10 (includes shipping and handling) by going to http://www.caps.net/jpc.html. The journal is published by the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. Among the other articles in the issue are:

Stanton L. Jones (Prof. of Psychology, Wheaton College) and Alex W. Kwee, "Scientific Research, Homosexuality, and the Church's Moral Debate: An Update," 304-16.

Heather Looy (Assoc. Prof. of Psychology, The King's University College in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), "Gender and Sexual Identity: A Critical Exploration of Gender Inversion Theories of Sexual Orientation," 317-31.

...and five other articles.

Blessings,

Dr. Gagnon

__________________________________________________________

 

What's a Layperson to Do?

12/3/06

[Dr. Gagnon,]

Today at our bible study of 2nd Timothy, I brought up the issue of my concerns about apostasy within our denomination.  The homosex issue being just one of many.

The leader suggested that Paul brings it all down to Jesus Christ resurrected and  descended from David.  The inference being that all else is secondary.

Which Jesus Christ are we talking about then?

"Patience"  was another prescription offered. 

My patience for this confederation of confusion is just about at an end.  The head office needs to be cleaned out last year, the seminaries need to be swept clean with a very large broom and perhaps as many as 70% of the pastors need to be booted out and thanked for their trouble (caused).

I just don't see it occurring.

If you have any concrete thoughts about how I a little layman can make a difference, please let me know.

R.

 

12/4/06

R_______, 

I don’t have any suggestions except that we all do our part, in love, to get others in the church to realize that a transformed life and obedience to God’s commands is a necessary outcome of the life lived in faith through God’s grace. Paul understood that the death and resurrection of Christ have no impact on persons who continue to live as if they had not died to self and Christ did not live in them. For Paul to lift up the cross is to lift up the cruciform life. To lift up Christ’s resurrection is to lift up a life lived for God. As Paul so aptly put it in Gal 2:19-20:  

“I through the law died in relation to law, in order that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself over for me.” 

This, of course, has great relevance for one’s sexual life, as Paul made clear in 1 Cor 6:12-20. We should glorify God in our bodies, specifically as regards sexual behavior (not engaging in incest, same-sex intercourse, adultery, sex with prostitutes, fornication) because we have been “bought with a price” and “are not our own.” 

In the words of Frederick Douglass, when asked what should be done now that slavery had been abolished: “Agitate, agitate, agitate”—in Christian love, of course. 

Rob

 __________________________________________________________

 

How did I get so involved in the topic of homosexuality?

12/2/06

Dr. Gagnon,

How did you get so deeply into the topic of homosexuality?

Y.

 

12/4/06

Dear Y_____,

The quick reply is see pp. 31-37 of my first book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice ("Motivation for 'Coming Out of the Closet'"). The male-female prerequisite for sexual bonds in Scripture has high importance and the cultural implications for providing ecclesiastical and cultural incentives for homosexual unions is great. See further read pp. 125-30 of my online article “Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice?” (http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf). And, as you may have noticed, there is currently a full-court press by proponents of homosexual practice in both church and society to impose it, with little let-up with very few biblical scholars or theologians offering a response.

Blessings,

Dr. Gagnon

__________________________________________________________

 

Correspondence with a student at Eastern University promoting a "noncontextual perspective and "trusting my own judgment"

[Note: On Nov. 16-17 I had a delightful time giving two presentations to students and faculty at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA (near Philadelphia). On the whole I found the students there (to say nothing of the faculty) to be among the most thoughtful audiences I have had the pleasure to address. All but one of the persons from Eastern emailing me after the event was very grateful for my presence. Here's the  one.]

Sent: Friday, November 17, 2006 1:40 PM

Subject: a few questions for you

Dear Dr. Gagnon:

I did go hear you speak today and I found what you have to say, to be honest, simply conservative, too contextual, and unrealistic. However, I respect the fact that you have done as much research, both internally and externally, to make your case. I can't say you haven't defended yourself well, if anything.

But...I wanted to ask you some questions that have nothing to do with the research you've done, and nothing to do with your case against homosexuality. These are more personal questions and feel free to abstain from answering them if you must.

Do you know any gay people personally? If so, what in them do you see differently and more difficulty in their spiritual walk versus a straight person?

Have you ever considered that many of your friends are gay and you may not know it?

What would you do if one of your children grew up and decided he or she was gay?

You mentioned in your lecture that gay men have a much higher rate of STD's than married/straight men. You also mentioned that their is a much higher rate of mental illness in lesbian women than in straight women. Do you not believe that there is something condemning Christians or other groups are doing to cause lesbian women confusion or unrest that would contribute to mental illness? Do you not believe that your torn-ness over the issue is contributing to their torn-ness? (This is obviously a question directly related to the lecture)

Forgive me if you find me offensive. I feel the same way.

Sincerely,

M.

 

11/18/06

Dear M.,

Thanks for your questions.

I don't understand what "too contextual" might mean (as a negative) since Scripture must always be examined in its literary and historical context.

See additional responses spliced in below.

For the questions that you raise about STDs and mental health matters, start with my online treatment at "Why the Disagreement Over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice?" http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf, specifically pp. 35-45, 126-27.

You can get a table of contents for this at: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoReformedReviewTableCont.pdf

See also an article that I have on science issues at:

http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoHeterosexismRespPart2.pdf , especially pp. 4-14.

After you read these sections, write me again.

 

Blessings,

Dr. Gagnon

 

M.: Do you know any gay people personally?

RG: Yes

M.: If so, what in them do you see differently and more difficulty in their spiritual walk versus a straight person?

RG: The fact that they have sex with members of the same sex. You might as well ask: What do I see differently in an incestuous man or a polyamorous man: chiefly, the fact of the incest and polyamory. Your assumption that homosexual practice must be good if persons engaging in it are not complete moral werewolves represents the problem with your question.

M.: Have you ever considered that many of your friends are gay and you may not know it?

RG: Yes.

M.: What would you do if one of your children grew up and decided he or she was gay?

RG: Love them, as always. Included in that love would be gently talking to them about what Scripture says about homosexual acts, as well as information from science and philosophic reason. What would you do if children that you had some day decided to enter in a sexual union with more than one other person at the same time or have sex with a close blood relation? I hope that you would love them too, without condoning the act in question. Read 1 Corinthians 5, the case of the incestuous man, and tell me who was more loving: Paul or the Corinthian believers. I have trouble with your premise that love doesn't include correction or a concern for recovering someone for God's kingdom.

M.: You mentioned in your lecture that gay men have a much higher rate of STD's than married/straight men. You also mentioned that their is a much higher rate of mental illness in lesbian women than in straight women. Do you not believe that there is something condemning Christians or other groups are doing to cause lesbian women confusion or unrest that would contribute to mental illness? Do you not believe that your torn-ness over the issue is contributing to their torn-ness? (This is obviously a question directly related to the lecture)

RG: I have no idea what my alleged "torn-ness" refers to. If societal "homophobia" were the primary cause for homosexual males having an inordinately high number of sex partners lifetime and anal contact (both of which contribute to sexually transmitted disease) then we would expect similar high numbers for lesbians. In fact, we do not. Male differences are primarily due to maleness in all-male relationships where men don't have to negotiate their sexuality in relation to women.

Mental health complications associated with relational issues is generally higher for women (heterosexual or homosexual) than for men so it is not surprising that lesbians experience significantly higher mental health problems--even relative to homosexual males and even in cultures strongly affirming of homosexual unions, like the Netherlands.

 

11/18/06

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

I have read both articles (or was the first one a book?) and see nothing in them that answers my questions to you. It seems as though you just keep repeating the same opinions that you hold in different contexts, but varying the sources that support you.

Okay, fine. I understand the research and the defense. But I want to know what YOU PERSONALLY think.

What WOULD you do if your daughter was gay? DO you have gay friends?

As for the too contextual statement I made, I do truly believe their is such a thing as a "too contextual read".

Not just with the Bible, but with many other informative sources as well. For example, as I'm sure you've heard before, in the context of the Biblical world, it is wrong to eat shellfish. Do you avoid shellfish, Dr. Gagnon, because it is Biblically unsound?

I encourage you to read things from a non-contextual perspective. Not wholly, just partially. By combining your contextual sources as well as your non-contextual sources and theories, I believe you will get a much more complete read. One could read Beowulf, for example, as an epic poem about what the Anglo-Saxons felt about heroism, and that would be contextual and fairly sound. However, if one ignored the fact that it was also, non-contextually, a poetic segue into different verse forms, then he or she would NOT be able to understand how the form relates to TODAY'S verse forms. In other words, one would not be able to create the bridge from yesterday to today. That's not complete hermeneutics.

Consider my questions from your own personal viewpoint. I do believe that answering a question without a cited defense can also be correct. Besides, who says your opinion without a backup is completely wrong? If you could trust yourself enough to make a good judgment without having to research it, people might take you more seriously.

M.

 

11/22/06

Dear M.,  

Thanks for your email, which, however, is confusing to me. I do take your concerns seriously and for that reason will not, in condescending fashion, ignore what you have said but rather will attempt to address as well as I can each of your points. If I were dismissing you, I would not spend my valuable time, as I have, addressing your concerns. 

I hope you will reach a day when you are able to critique the statement that you conclude your email with: "If you could trust yourself enough to make a good judgment without having to research it, people might take you more seriously." Good judgments are made precisely in the context of testing one's own hunches, intuitions, and prejudices in relation to the data and arguments that come from other sources. If any persons--I hope that this doesn't include you--choose not to take my work seriously and do so in the absence of any attempt to deal with the evidence and arguments that I put forward, then it is likely that they have chosen such an approach because their own position is indefensible.  

You appear to be espousing the following philosophy: "Trust me even if I don't provide a reasoned defense or data to support my conclusions." Well, why should I trust you and not, say, Jesus, the apostle Paul and the scriptural witness generally, the stance of countless saints of the church throughout history, the vast preponderance of believers in the world today, current philosophic and scientific reason (as I see it), to say nothing of my own reasoning and experiences? 

If (1) you assert, as you have, that high rates of sex partners and sexually transmitted disease especially on the part of homosexual males and high rates of mental health problems and short-term relationships especially on the part of homosexual females are due primarily to societal homophobia and not basic differences between men and women and (2) you cannot counter the strong evidence that invalidates your "personal judgment," then why should I go with your view? You say: "I have read both articles . . . and see nothing in them that answers my questions to you." Yet one of your questions raised in your first email to me is dealt with specifically in the pages of two works of mine that I pointed you to; namely,  

"You mentioned in your lecture that gay men have a much higher rate of STD's than married/straight men.... [and] that their [sic] is a much higher rate of mental illness in lesbian women than in straight women. Do you not believe that there is something condemning Christians or other groups are doing to cause lesbian women confusion or unrest that would contribute to mental illness?"

If you "see nothing in them that answers my questions to you" then you could not have read, or read well, or comprehended, what I wrote. I might start by asking you what is the evidence that I cite in these two articles that leads me to conclude that basic male-female differences, absent from homosexual unions, is the main culprit? 

You seem to think that, by reading something contextually, one cuts oneself off from the hermeneutical move from "then" to "now." You say: If one does not read "from a non-contextual perspective," "one would not be able to create the bridge from yesterday to today." Quite the contrary. Only when one reads from a contextual perspective can one recognize the distance and differences/similarities between "then" and "now" and not confuse one's own prejudices with what one is comparing one's own ideas to. By the way, you refer to a "non-contextual perspective" as if the cultural milieu that you inhabit today is not in itself a context. Everything is context. 

Paradoxically, the example that you give to prove your point--shellfish prohibitions in the Bible--actually demonstrates the point that I am making. You say: "For example, as I'm sure you've heard before, in the context of the Biblical world, it is wrong to eat shellfish. Do you avoid shellfish, Dr. Gagnon, because it is Biblically unsound?" The wording of your question appears to make the presumptions that (1) I have an inerrantist view of the biblical text or a view even that there is no change in dispensations when moving from old covenant to new; and (2) the case of shellfish is a good analogue to the case of homosexual practice. Your first presumption is incorrect--my argument is always made on the basis of scriptural core values, not inerrancy, and of course there is a change of dispensations when moving across covenants. Your second presumption can only be maintained if you ignore the literary and historical context for the prohibitions against shellfish and homosexual practice respectively. The fact that you could attempt an analogy between the two sets of prohibitions shows precisely the need for careful contextual work that I mentioned. I think that if you attempt an analogy between the shellfish prohibition in Leviticus and the Levitical prohibition of incestuous unions (whether or not adult and committed) you will begin to see the flaws in any alleged analogy between shellfish and homosexual practice.  

You reiterate two questions from your previous email: "What WOULD you do if your daughter was gay? DO you have gay friends?" I have already answered both questions.

To the first question I answered clearly:

Love them, as always. Included in that love would be gently talking to them about what Scripture says about homosexual acts, as well as information from science and philosophic reason. What would you do if children that you had some day decided to enter in a sexual union with more than one other person at the same time or have sex with a close blood relation? I hope that you would love them too, without condoning the act in question. Read 1 Corinthians 5, the case of the incestuous man, and tell me who was more loving: Paul or the Corinthian believers. I have trouble with your premise that love doesn't include correction or a concern for recovering someone for God's kingdom.

Parenthetically, when you become a parent the point that I made from my St. Augustine quotation about the meaning of love (i.e., disciplining the wayward is part of what love entails in the statement "Love, and do what you want") will be continually reinforced for you. Love does not mean acceptance of all, or even most, innate urges. This is why Jesus could call us, in love, to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and lose our lives.

To the second question I answered a clear "Yes" and, in response to your question about what I see differently in the spiritual walk of homosexual persons, I answered:

The fact that they have sex with members of the same sex. You might as well ask: What do I see differently in an incestuous man or a polyamorous man: chiefly, the fact of the incest and polyamory. Your assumption that homosexual practice must be good if persons engaging in it are not complete moral werewolves represents the problem with your question.

Help me to understand why you do not consider these to be answers to your questions. 

You "trust yourself to make a good judgment." But people who "trust themselves to make good judgments" come up with radically different judgments. On the homosexuality issue, some who trust themselves make the judgment that homosexual practice of any kind should not be approved. Others, such as yourself, who trust themselves make the opposite judgment that there is nothing wrong with committed homosexual unions. The two groups have both "trusted themselves" but have come up with antithetical judgments. So, apparently, at least one of the groups is deceiving itself.  

As Abraham Lincoln said in 1862 with regard to slavery, one group of Americans trusted its own judgment that race-based slavery was always wrong while another group of Americans trusted its own judgment that race-based slavery was an acceptable institution. He noted that it was possible that one of these groups was wrong, or both; but it was not possible that both could be right. "In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time." 

The same point holds here. Apart from the consideration of any contextual evidence, there is at least a 50% chance that your trust in your judgment is misplaced. That doesn't seem to me to be a strong basis for "trust." You have no alternative, if you are honest with yourself, but to do an honest investigation into what evidence can be culled from Scripture (first and foremost), philosophic reason, science, and (lastly) experience (which includes the experience of persons who disagree with your own trusted judgment). Do not fall into the mistake of believing that your own experiences are self-interpreting and self-validating. 

Have a joyous Thanksgiving celebrating God's goodness.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Gagnon

 

11/25/06

Dr. Gagnon,

Thank you for your most recent email. I have to say, I feel you were much more open and honest in this email than the last one and in your lecture. You repeated most of the same thing you've said before, but this time I feel they were said with love and with God's leading.

Remember your reply in your future lectures.

Often many people who give a repeated lecture forget, or just do not realize that they do not see, that God should be present in each lecture. While I can't say clearly that God was not present in your lecture, I feel as though you've listened to God more in your last reply than I have seen up to now. Again, that's not something I can pinpoint; that's just what I feel.

SO....I honor your research and the responses you have sent to me. Thank you for your time and your ability to aim to answer my questions. Though I may not agree with you, I can respect what you do and praise your work. . . .

Thanks a lot, good luck in your future work,

M.

[Follow-up note by Dr. Gagnon: I am glad that M. found my last response to be "open and honest," "said with love and with God's leading," and demonstrating a "listening to God." However, since I did not do anything fundamentally different in my last response from my first response, much less my public presentation (which, incidentally, was heard by many as compassionate), I can only conclude that M. did not have "ears to hear" in our two previous encounters. What M. presents as a difference in my presentation is really a difference in her capacity to absorb new ideas after hearing something similar, with slightly different spins, on three different occasions.]

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Response to a person who thinks that my non-biblical arguments are not strong

Sent: Sunday, November 19, 2006 8:53 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Just a thought
 

Mr Gagnon:

I was surfing the Internet and found your site; I read your essay explaining why you think gay marriage is wrong.  With all due respect, your essay illustrates an opinion, and every person is entitled to an opinion.  Here's mine.  I do not believe that any reason justified from the bible builds a sound argument.  While the bible is well respected in many religions and cultures, it is not practiced by everyone and every religion.  It would be unfair to hold someone of a different religion to standards set by the bible; the first amendment provides this freedom.  Our country is far too diverse to hold a place for religious beliefs in governmental policy.  Since we do not live in a theocratic nation, it is fine for some to follow the bible and believe that gay marriage is wrong, but law should be founded under different pretenses. 

You have made the point that homosexual couples are more likely to divorce.  This is unfortunate, but African Americans are also 25% more likely to get divorced than white couples. (
www.healthymarriageinfo.org)  Does this mean that we should consider regulating the marriage of African Americans because they are more likely to get divorced?  Sadly, divorce may be a "sin," but it is not a crime. 

Also, it may be true that only a small percentage of the homosexual community has chosen to get married where it is legal.  What is your point?  Marriage is a freedom that any couple may choose to engage in.  The fact that a fewer percentage of homosexual couples have opted for marriage than that of straight couples is not a reason to restrict all homosexual couples from marrying.    You mentioned that the institution of marriage is made to suffer through this allowance.  I do not see how.  Your marriage with your wife (I am assuming) is no less stable because two men have chosen to marry than it was when Britney Spears was married and annulled for amusement within 55 hours.  And somehow that was legal.  It is estimated that 60% of men and 40% of woman will have an affair at some point throughout their marriage.  How does infidelity play a role in the "sanctity of marriage"?  It seems to me that marriage is already suffering quite well among heterosexuals. 

You also claim that sanctioning gay marriage will end structural prerequisites for a legitimate sexual relationship and ultimately allow multiple partner, incestuous, and adult/child relationships.  A leap in logic may be an understatement; gay marriage has nothing to do with these unrealistic situations.  First of all, relationships among family members are illegal, not because of its unconventionality, but because there is scientific evidence of birth defects in the offspring.  A relationship between an adult and a child is simply out of the realm of reality, and you must have very little faith in our lawmakers.  As for a multiple partner relationship, how many people do you know that are actively seeking a marriage of this nature?  Even so, who are we to say that they shouldn't?

I do not know how the misconception started that homosexuals are determined to turn the country to be homosexual.  It is illogical to suggest that someone will choose to be gay because he/she has learned it from society.  You will, however, see in an increase in homosexuals that decide to act on their sexuality as the comfort level of society increases.  Gone will be the days when a family is ruined because someone decides to accept his/her sexuality midlife or, much worse, never at all.

Your last argument is clearly your weakest.  You say that accepting homosexuals will focus intolerance on those who oppose homosexuals.  The utter hypocrisy in that statement does your essay the justice it deserves.  When you say that a parent's right to instill morals of disapproval of gays to their children will be undermined by school systems, you really mean that bigotry has a place in family values and should be passed from generation to generation.  I regret to inform you that our country went through this once, in the 1960s.  Your statements are more clearly ignorant when applied to race.  "Allowing blacks to be equal will burden those who disapprove of blacks."  And "If I want to teach my children to hate black people, I should be able to expect that the school system will honor my wishes and allow my child to freely practice bigotry."

I hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Tim Tirrell

 

11/22/06

Dear Tim, 

Thank you for your thought, which is really many thoughts. Sorry, it doesn’t help me personally but rather shows a need on your part to read more of my work and to read more carefully. I hope I may be of help to you, however. 

  1. My biblical arguments are aimed at persons who take Scripture seriously. As for those who do not, arguments based on philosophic reason (nature arguments) and science (the disproportionately high rate of problems associated with homosexual practice) suffice. The same holds true for the case against loving incest, polyamory, and pedosexuality.

  2. Being an African American, like ethnicity generally, cannot be equated with sexual impulses generally. Ethnicity is 100% heritable, absolutely immutable, primarily non-behavioral, and therefore intrinsically benign; the same cannot be said for sexual impulses. Moreover, the disproportionate rates of harm in sexual behavior are much higher for homosexual males than for African American males. And, of course, unlike homosexual unions (which involve arousal for and merger with what one already is as a sexual being) there is nothing structurally incongruous about a heterosexual union entered into by African American persons.

  3. The point about only a small percentage of homosexual persons, particularly homosexual males, opting for marriage is a point that underscores that the agenda for “gay marriage” on the part of most homosexual advocacy groups is more about legitimizing behavior and punishing those who oppose it than it is about subjecting themselves to the chaste constraints on sexual behavior imposed by marriage. Recognizing this takes some of the steam out of the gay-marriage train.

  4. Heterosexual unions do have their own problems but what still remains the exception for them (according to representative sex surveys) is very much the rule for homosexual couples—even for those that set out to establish lifelong monogamous bonds.

  5. I do believe that there is an obvious link between rejecting the most basic structural prerequisite for sexual bonds, the male-female prerequisite, and eroding other structural prerequisites having to do with a certain degree of blood-otherness, a limitation to two persons, and age. Moreover, if a person wouldn’t endorse civil incentives for adult incestuous or polyamorous unions, then such a one has even less reason to vote for incentives to homosexual unions. For societal refusal to sanction incest and polyamory are either tied analogically to or predicated on a similar refusal to sanction homosexual unions.

  6. You say incest is wrong because it often (though not invariably) leads to birth defects. (Incidentally, your argument here is about disproportionately high rates of scientifically measurable harm—the same type of argument that you eschew when it comes to homosexual practice. There is an inconsistency here.) Does that mean you would want society to sanction man-mother or woman-brother sexual bonds so long as the couple in question was infertile or took appropriate birth-control precautions? You haven’t indicated what the problem is, if any, with two close blood relations being married when offspring are unlikely to arise (hint: the problem here, as with homosexual unions, is with too much structural sameness). Moreover, my point about formal or structural prerequisites isn’t merely that society will some day endorse incestuous unions—though the likelihood of such happening will increase with the acceptance of homosexual bonds, which entails a structural merger of two people who are too much alike on a sexual level. My larger point is that if one finds incestuous unions wrong one has even more reason to arrive at the same verdict on homosexual unions.

  7. As for multiple-partner sexual unions you first say that these are not likely to be sanctioned civilly--a remark indicating that you haven’t read pp. 35-45 of my online article “Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice?” (http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf).  Then you seem to admit that this could happen when you say “who are we to say that they shouldn’t?” Okay, then you would be an example of someone who wouldn’t have a problem with society granting full marriage benefits to multiple-partner sexual unions. I think you have demonstrated my point. As regards pedophilia, of course there will not be immediate changes in the law as regards sex with prepubescent children. But already mainstream presses are publishing works on “the sexual child” and in the short-term there will at least be efforts to lower substantially the age of consent.

  8. You reject the notion that societal support for homosexual unions can affect the incidence of homosexuality in the population. Apparently you adopt a model of complete congenital determinism for homosexual development, which no scientific study has demonstrated. Indeed, many have demonstrated that complete congenital determinism is improbable—an inevitable one-to-one correspondence between a specific feature of intrauterine development and subsequent homosexual development. I do think that a number of studies are suggestive that society can impact the incidence of homosexuality itself, not just who “comes out.” See pp. 30-34, 120-25 of my article cited above.

  9. You say: “Gone will be the days when a family is ruined because someone decides to accept his/her sexuality midlife or, much worse, never at all.” I say: Hello to the days when entrance into a homosexual union will likely lead to a much higher break-up rate. Furthermore, your statement is naïve that “gay marriage” will end such midlife changes since (1) many people who experience homosexual urges (especially women) shift one or more times on the 0-6 scale of the Kinsey spectrum in the course of life and this will continue to happen; and (2) many people, in spite of cultural affirmation of homosexual unions, will continue to intuit rightly that there is something developmentally problematic about being aroused by the essential features of one’s own sex and thus attempt to resist such impulses.

  10. Your last point simply confirms my own point: You join other proponents of homosexual unions in equating loving affirmation of a male-female prerequisite to marriage with virulent, hateful racism against African Americans. Furthermore, you welcome civil penalties against the former. Therefore, those of us who uphold a male-female prerequisite can expect persecution if we don’t resist your agenda for gay marriage. It is good for us to know this now while we can still vote our consciences and publicly warn people. Of course, it is the equation that you make between hateful racism and loving opposition to homosexual activity that I and others flatly reject and for which you have not made a substantive case.

I truly hope that what I have written will help you too.  

Blessings,

 

Dr. Robert Gagnon

 

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Question about books or resources for counseling persons with same-sex attractions

10/12/06

Dr. Gagnon-

Hope you are well.  I am emailing you to inquire of some resources regarding homosexuality.  Specifically, I am looking for material that gives wisdom on how to minister and disciple those who struggle with homosexuality.  Our session has asked to be more informed and 'trained' on how to minister/discipline/encourage etc. those who are openly gay, repentant, and wanting to change.  The majority of our congregation is unfamiliar with the homosexual lifestyle, culture, and worldview.  However, we have a few individuals who frequent our church that are homosexual.  Some are repentant, some are not, and some I can't say.  Any books or resources you could direct me to would be great! 

Thanks.   

Grace and Peace,

D______________
 

 

11/14/06

Hi D_______, 

Sorry for being so late in responding. Even now I’m swamped. There are many such books, including those by Mario Bergner, Richard Cohen, Joe Dallas, Anne Paulk, Alan Medinger, Andrew Comiskey, and Bob Davies. See http://www.regenbooks.org/regenbooks_general.asp

See also my article: 

"Scriptural Perspectives on Homosexuality and Sexual Identity" in Journal of Psychology and Christianity 24:4 (Winter 2005): 293-303. 

Indeed, the whole journal issue is interesting.

Hope this helps, 

Rob

 

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Differences of opinion about the relevance of menstrual law and whether the Law is abrogated in Christ

11/13/06

Rob,

I was reviewing parts of your major volume and found a few points of minor disagreement (no surprise, of course).

1)  Consistent exegetical logic causes me to see sexual intercourse with one’s wife during her period to be something that remains displeasing to the Lord, since Lev 18 lists it as one of the universal abominations for which God judged the foreign nations. (The penalty for this act in the Torah is consistent with this; its mention in Ezek 18 also seems to reinforce this, although in a specifically Judean, non-universal context there.) To state that this act is somehow acceptable now whereas homosex remains unacceptable seems to me to weaken the force of your argument, and I find no scriptural support for the position. I’d love to hear more from you on this.

2)  You make reference to Paul’s abrogation of the Law, a subject that I’m sure you have thought about in depth, given your interaction with Mark Nanos’s work, etc. Obviously, that represents a common Protestant position, but as a Jewish believer in Jesus, such a statement is problematic, since it seems to undermine passages such as Matt 5:17-20. Now, this is not the time to ask you for a lengthy defense of your position but rather to mention that once again, the position seems to undermine our use of Torah as a moral guide. (I’m oversimplifying the point here, but I trust you get the gist of it.) Again, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this, and I can elaborate in further detail if needed. 

Again, my great appreciation to you for all your labors.

M.

 

11/14/06

Dear M.,

I wish all the disagreements with my book were of this sort (!). 

1)  See my comments on pp. 100-103 in my article: "Are There Universally Valid Sex Precepts? A Critique of Walter Wink's Views on the Bible and Homosexuality," published in Horizons in Biblical Theology 24 (June 2002): 174-243 found online at http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoWinkHBTResp.pdf

At the very least I don’t see the united witness of Scripture (or even early Judaism) putting quite the same level of emphasis on this matter in Scripture as on a two-sex prerequisite for a sexual bond. 

2)  I think that there is tension in Scripture, certainly between Paul’s formulations and Jesus’ formulations as portrayed in Matthew, just as there is tension on the question of whether (in Matthew’s view at least) Jesus abrogated the binding character of dietary and calendar observances. I don’t think, however, that it is exegetically sustainable to argue that Paul did not think the Mosaic law to be terminated as a binding body of law. Paul saw the law as having jurisdiction over all those descended from Adam, Adamic flesh, which Christians transcend with the gift of the Spirit and consequent citizenship in heaven. It’s like moving from the U.S. to Canada, becoming a Canadian citizen and giving up American citizenship. If one murders or commits bigamy one will be prosecuted just as if one lived in the U.S. because there is considerable continuity between Canadian law and U.S. law, but the violation will nonetheless be of Canadian law. American law will have no jurisdiction. Similarly, Christians are under the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1-3) and there is considerable continuity between the two dispensations or covenants because the same God is the giver of both. But there is no getting around some discontinuity.  

Hope this helps and I understand that our agreements far outweigh any disagreements, brother. 

Rob

 

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Questions about Jack Rogers's claim that 1 Cor 6:9 does not speak against committed homosexual unions

11/2/06

[From a new acquaintance at a church in Texas that I had spoken to shortly before Jack Rogers's arrival at the same church; the writer comments on Rogers's subsequent visit and on my new (11-page) online article on Rogers's faulty analogical reasoning]

Rob,

Thanks, this [article on Rogers's use of analogies] was great.  Jack Rogers spoke last night and there were really not too many surprises.  He does refuse to engage in dialogue on any of his points.  Although he took questions after his presentation, they had to be in written form so there was no opportunity for follow up.  He said most of the things you already told us he would say so those of us that were at your presentation were well prepared, but again, no ability for dialogue. 

He did talk about the Greek words in 1 Cor 6:9.  He said the “best” scholarship defined “arsenokoites” as “male prostitute.”  While I had heard that as a possible definition, what little research I have done seems to show that the “best” scholarship shows that this word is used to describe the “active” person in male/male sex.  He then said “malakos” literally means “soft to the touch.”  I knew that, but he went on to say that the word was used as an insult to women and because of that had NO relationship to male homosexual relations.  Now that is one I NEVER heard.  I have read that “malakos” was generally accepted as the passive partner in male/male sex or as an alternative a male prostitute but one that is not doing it for monetary gain.  Do you have any insight on the “best” scholarship on these words in Greek and any good sources for me? 

He, of course, stressed the analogy of African Americans and women, but because he would permit no dialogue there was really no way for us to counter his arguments in this forum.  It’s kind of hard to writer the whole counter argument on a 3X5 card (some people even take 11 pages to do it)!!!!! 

At any rate, your presentation as well as the material you sent and your website are very helpful and I may spend some time in the adult Sunday school class I teach discussing some of this. 

Thanks for all you are doing. 

____________

 

11/2/06

Dear ___________

Thanks for filling me in on what happened. How I would have loved to have been there to provide a response to Rogers. It doesn’t surprise me that he insisted on people writing their questions; he doesn’t want to be challenged because he really doesn’t know the issues. 

On 1 Cor 6:9 see point 4 (pp. 9-13 in my pdf version) of Installment 3 of my critique of Rogers. For the html version go to http://robgagnon.net/JackRogersBookReviewed3.htm and for pdf go to http://robgagnon.net/articles/RogersBookReviewed3.pdf  

[Rogers has read this installment (or so he claims on his website) but has not rebutted a single one of the many arguments that I have put forward (not even in his book does he devote so much as a single sentence to any one of my arguments). For Rogers to continue to peddle publicly the views that the "best" scholarship holds that (1) arsenokoites is limited to male prostitutes and (2) malakoi has nothing to do with male homosexual relations, all the while refusing to address any of my arguments, is a clear instance of academic dishonesty and deception. I have written more and done more detailed work on the subject of 1 Cor 6:9 than any other scholar in the world. Even two New Testament scholars who are strongly supportive of homosexual unions, Walter Wink and Dan O. Via, have had to admit in response to my work that the two terms collectively reject all male homosexual behavior. The two strongest pro-homosex readings of 1 Cor 6:9, those done by Dale Martin and David Fredrickson (cited below), I have already rebutted--Martin in my book The Bible and Homosexual Practice and Fredrickson in an article of mine in Horizons in Biblical Theology 25.2 (Dec. 2003): 226-39 (for online copy go to http://robgagnon.net/articles/homoBalchHBTReview2.pdf). Neither have responded to my lengthy critiques, even though they are clearly aware of them.]

There is no reputable biblical scholar, on either side of the issue, who believes that malakoi has no relationship to homosexual behavior—none. Instead, people like David Fredrickson and Dale Martin will argue that the term, though including homosexual practice, is a broader concept that takes in any effeminate behavior of men (like a limp wrist or a heterosexual man giving too much attention to his personal appearance) and is motivated largely by misogyny. The term in the ancient world can be used in both senses: as a more or less direct reference to passive partners in homosexual unions and the broader reference to all effeminate males. Literary context is decisive. I argue that the context of 1 Cor 6:9 decisively points in the direction of the restrictive sense.

Rob

 

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Can one make a reasoned case against homosexual practice without citing Scripture?

10/27/06

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

I am a student at _______________ [PCUSA] Seminary.  I have attended two of your lectures and your address at New Wineskins this summer, and I have read your book The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. 

I have been assigned Religion in Politics: Constitutional and Moral Perspectives by Michael J. Perry (Oxford 1997) for a Christian ethics class.  The overarching premise of the text is that while there is room in the public square for religious argument, no coercive political choice about morality of human conduct (such as legislation against same-sex marriage) should be made on the basis of a religious argument alone, but rather solely on the basis of a correspondingly plausible secular argument. 

Half of this 104-page book dissects flaws in John Finnis' secular argument about the morality of homosexual conduct and digresses to ad hominem attacks.  Since none of my fellow students are likely to tackle your excellent 500+ pages in a course that only lasts a few more weeks, can you direct me to a concise article I could refer to for an opposing secular argument?

I understand if your own teaching duties take priority over a response, but I thought I'd ask. 

God bless your work this week. 

_________________

 

10/27/06

Hi ___________, 

Thanks for your inquiry. I am happy that my work has been of help to you. 

There are good secular arguments. Essentially the same arguments for society to oppose committed incestuous unions (even when precautions are taken against procreation or where one of the two is infertile) or committed polysexual unions ('traditional' polygamy or 'avant-garde' threesomes). 

See my entry "Homosexuality" in the new Dictionary of Christian Apologetics (description on my website at http://www.robgagnon.net/ArticlesOnline.htm, scroll down to the 6th entry). See also my online critique of Myers/Scanzoni (11th entry) where I discuss the nature argument on pp. 30-46 and why "gay marriage" is not good for society on pp. 125-30. 

These should provide you with plenty of arguments. 

Blessings, 

Dr. Gagnon


 

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Requests for clarifications on my positions regarding Gen 2, the meaning of unnatural, and the relevance of Dutch gay marriage

10/12/06

Dear Dr Gagnon, 

I have found your website resources very helpful. I do have some brief points on which I would appreciate clarification:

1) Did Adam have a penis prior to God making Eve from his side? (This is not a joke question -- it seems to me there are theological implications whichever way one answers this!).

2) I am unclear on the connection between Dutch approval of gay marriages and increasing rates of child-birth out of wedlock. (If I am missing the obvious here, please forgive me).

3) What are the implications of the Pauline 'un-natural' argument for changes brought about by humans in the natural order, for example, with transplant surgery? I have a friend who was born without thumbs, so doctors transplanted his big toes to his hands, giving him thumbs from his big toes: Intuitively I think Christians would have no problem with this, but would Paul have objected to this as un-natural? If not, why not? More broadly, where do we draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable man-made changes in the natural world or physical order -- what human interventions in the physical world count as natural or unnatural? 

Thank you very much for any reflections you may have on these questions. 

In Christ, 

The Rev. B_________________, Ph.D.

[a Canadian Anglican minister] 

 

10/16/06

Dear Rev. B____________, 

Briefly: 

1)  I have no idea, honestly. It is possible that in the ancient world this was taken literally. However, the imagery in Gen 1-3 does not have to be taken literally; transcendent truths are being conveyed by mundane images. The image of God forming woman from the human’s side, with which the human (now distinctly masculine) may now reunite—the one flesh becoming two differentiated sexes which then remerge to become one flesh—clearly illustrates that men and women are each other’s sexual counterparts or complements, “other halves” if you will. This is immediately obvious anatomically but is no less real in the physiological and psychological dimensions. 

2)  The connection is this: Approval of gay marriage is the ultimate ‘decoupling’ of marriage and procreation because two persons of the same sex are structurally incapable—even if they desired otherwise and even if all the ‘equipment’ functioned properly—of producing offspring through their sexual bond. The conclusion is: Marriage has no integral or even presumed connection to procreation. And if that is so, then why should procreation necessarily presuppose marriage? More broadly still, when the most basic structural prerequisite for marriage is ignored (the male-female dynamic) and this is justified solely by a claim to loving affect, then marriage has been cheapened to a point of meaninglessness. 

3)  No implications for transplant surgery. Transplant surgery is like grafting; it doesn’t fundamentally change the structure of the subject of the operation. People normally have the organs in question; it is simply a matter of replacing what should work but doesn’t. Merging sexually two people of the same sex attempts to bring together two things that are fundamentally and structurally discordant—like merging a man and his mother or, worse, a man and his horse. Same-sex intercourse lies somewhere between these two analogies in degree of severity, closer to the former than the latter (incest too is an attempted merger between persons formally too much alike, whether on a familial or sexual level). 

Hope this helps, 

Rob 

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Questions about genetic influence and moral relevance

10/16/06

Dear Doctor Gagnon,

I am a 24 year old male and my name is S_________. I have recently read your book "the Bible And Homosexual Practice". It is very well written, yet I have a few questions that I would like to discuss with you.

Therefore I searched for your email from the web and write this email.

In the Chapter V, section IV, you reached the conclusion that homosexual practice is not caused by any single specific gene. My question is, although the scientists have not yet been able to directly link human behavior to their genetic disposition, can one use this fact as an argument to deny that genetically related people very often have some similarities in their behavior? Of course, I would not be able to give concrete example because human behavior is extremely complex and one can never say for sure how much does any single factor (such as genes or parental influence) contribute to the formation of any specific kind of behavior. However, isn't it uncommon to see members of the same family working in the same or similar profession? Isn't it uncommon for University admission committee members to believe that offspring of alumni is somehow more prone to success in their academic life?

As the formation of the neuronal system and central nervous system is governed by genes afterall, and any kind of behavior is generated by the nervous system (brain as the major player), how could one deny that genes are not playing any role in the formation of behavior? One example is that males who have an extra y chromosomes (so called supermale) are more likely to be involved in serious crime. Although this is not a reason to excuse his action, but at least it somewhat shows that behavior is linked to genetic predisposition.

In short, even though there is no direct evidence that any behavior is caused by genes, there are still some good hints that suggest there might be some correlation between the two. At this point, I would like to ask a wild question, what if after some time, scientists were able to link human behavior to specific genes or biological reasons, and were able to identify some genes that might cause a higher tendency of homosexuality in an individual, would you think the homosexuals are somewhat "innocent" because they are more prone to such "abnormality" (regarded by some)?

Last question is, if a Christian who have been trying hard to follow GOD's word, who have been trying to love HIM, suddenly realize that he is homosexual and uncontrollably falls in love with someone of same sex (with or with sexual intercourse) , what could he do to change his sexual orientation? What could he do to help save himself? Does he essentially have to be heart-broken (because he has to cut all his emotion bonds with the same sex) in order to follow GOD's word?

Thank you so very much for your attention and sincerely hope to hear your reply. Sorry about my poor English (English is my second language)

Yours faithfully,

S.

 

10/16/06

Dear S_______,

Thank you for your letter.

I do not deny that congenital factors, including genes, may play a limited role in homosexual development. They create a risk factor for homosexual development but they are not deterministic; that is, they do not predestine an irrevocable outcome.

All behavior is at some level biologically caused. So no clear moral implications arrive from a supposition of biological causation. Sin itself is presented by Paul as an innate impulse, running through the members of the body, passed on by an ancestor, and never entirely within human control.

Most men are polysexual; that is, they do not experience great psychic discomfort from sexual attraction to multiple numbers of gorgeous woman. Should, then, we support polyamory or 'polyfidelity'? There may be biological factors in the development of pedophilia or 'pedosexuality,' according to Fred Berlin, head of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins. Does that mean that we should affirm some adult-child sex?

Jesus calls to take up our crosses, deny ourselves, lose our lives, and follow him. Paul speaks repeatedly of dying with Christ to the sinful passions of the flesh and living for God with Christ. An argument of morality based on congenital causation for any human desires carries no moral freight in the church.

A person is not morally culpable merely for experiencing a sinful impulse. We are morally culpable for consciously entertaining such desires and engaging in immoral behavior consistent with such desires.

Men are welcome to have intimate relations with other men; but sex, eroticizing the relationship, is out of the question because there are formal or structural prerequisites to sexual bonds that transcend any claim to mutual love. These prerequisites include sexual complementarity (male-female), familial otherness (no incest), age (no adult-child sex), number (according to Jesus, monogamy), and species compatibility (no bestiality).

Hope this helps. See further: http://robgagnon.net/articles/ReformedReviewArticleWhyTheDisagreement.pdf  especially pp. 30-46, 114-30.

Blessings,

Robert Gagnon, Ph.D.

 

 

 

 

Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., is a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. He can be reached at gagnon@pts.edu.

 

 

  © 2006 Robert A. J. Gagnon