Justification By Faith; Not Works

“…when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction.” (Galatians 2:11-12)

Hmmm. A church leader who used to be sympathetic to the outcast, to the last and the least, caves in to pressure from conservatives and begins once again to rely on purity codes rather than the grace of his Savior, Jesus Christ!

Sound familar to anyone? 

I’d love to hear from you…

39 Responses to “Justification By Faith; Not Works”

  1. isaac Says:

    wow, it always amazes me that the same issues seem to come up in church history over and over again…

  2. ecubishop Says:

    Absolutely, Isaac. As a wise person once said, “Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it!”

  3. Brad Drell Says:

    But, how does one reconcile this with the words of Jesus regarding marriage? I’d be interested to hear how you, Bishop, would reconcile Jesus teaching regarding marriage, Paul’s words in Romans 1, and the Letter of Jude with the idea you are postulating that gays and lesbians are to be included into the church as the new gentiles but exempting them from the moral rules regarding sex and marriage, which in the biblical context is limited to heterosexual marriage.

  4. My Two Cents Says:

    In Galatians Paul does say that if we are in Christ we no longer have need of the Law. However, in chapter 5 he tells us that if you live by the Spirit you will not want to live a sinful life. So what does Paul consider a sinful life for those that are now living in the Spirit? Read below for the answer…

    16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    So even though we are “free” of the Law – the Spirit does still require or leads us to live in a life that has boundaries. It is just that those living in the Spirit do not perceive them as boundaries because we have no desire to go there. So perhaps it would be good to determine what Paul considers to be “sexual immorality, impurity and the like…

    Romans 1 provides the answer.

    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

    It seems pretty straight forward to me what Paul is saying, but then I am not a trained theologian.

  5. Phil Snyder Says:

    Bishop Epting,

    You must know that the restrictions against men having sex with men or women with women is not only in the Levitical “Holiness Code”. Here are three passages from the New Testament that discuss what I am talking about:

    “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel – not that there is another gospel, but here are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, shoul dpreach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:6-8)

    “Now the works for the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jeaolousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you , as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21)

    As an aside, the worde for “fornication” is porneia and includes all illicit sexual acts including homosexual acts (http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/words.pl?word=4202&page=1)

    “Therefore my (James’s) judgement is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is strangled and from blood. (Acts 15:19-20)”

    Again, the word “unchastity” is porneia in Greek.

    The question is really one of authority and morality. What is our authority for moral behavior/teaching and is moral behavior/teaching part of the essence of the Faith or is it only an issue of good order? If moral teaching is an issue of good order, then what other “moral teaching” can be changed (along with the change in homosexual sex)? Do I need a vote in General Convention to change moral teaching or will diocesan convention do? How about a parish annual meeting or even my small accountability group? Perhaps I don’t need anyone else to change moral teaching.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

  6. formerly susan Says:

    Brad Drell asks:

    But, how does one reconcile this with the words of Jesus regarding marriage?

    Well, let’s see what He said in the Sermon on the Mount…

    Matthew 5:27-28

    “You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    He goes us one better here, doesn’t he? And if what Jesus says applies for women and gays as well, then it’s clear that NONE of us is free of “sexual sin,” so what do we have left, but, as ecubishop so kindly reminded us, the grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ?

    I think Jesus must have anticipated you, Brad. 🙂

  7. Phil Snyder Says:

    Formerly Susan,

    Sin is still sin. The “conservatives/traditionalists/reasserters/whatever” (CTRW) do not claim to be without sin or even without sexual sin. However, they are not asking for their sin to be blessed. It is not a question of “You are sinners and we are not.” It is a question of “We acknowledge our sin and repent and you ask the Church to bless your sin.”

    We all need to repent of our sins – all sins.

    Yes, jesus made the mark impossible to hit. But we are still called on to aim at the target. We can’t shoot at another person’s target or just resolved to not shoot.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

  8. Jason Miller Says:

    In addition to Phil’s fine comment about blessing sin, there is also the issue of being transformed and, crazy thought here, sin less. I am a theological conservative who confesses every Sunday that I have sinned and require God’s grace and forgiveness. But I sin less than I did when I first met Jesus, because his Holy Spirit has been sanctifying my fallenness.

  9. Jimmy DuPre Says:

    I see in formerly Susan’s post a possible point of unity that I have wished we could latch on to. If the Reappraisers acknowledge as Susan does that homosexuality is sinful; and reasserteres could say; there is no hierarchy of sin, and I am the worst offender, then we would all something to agree on; a point of unity; that is that we all rely on the grace of God through Jesus Christ on the cross.
    Unfortunately, I have seen a quote from Gene Robinson saying that his relationship with a man is not sinful, so I presume he has no need of Grace. And , also unfortunately, I have heard many reeasserters seemingly position homosexuality as a sin worse than their own; as long as those views predominate, there will be no unity.

  10. Phil Snyder Says:

    Jimmy

    I will be glad to say (and have often said) that homosexual sex is not worse than any other sin. It is a carnal sin and not as damaging to the soul as Pride or Envy. Actually, I believe that the worse sin to commit is for one to say “Your sin is worse than my sin and, so, my sin doesn’t really count.”

    I am a sinner – saved and redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I, too, find myself saddled with carnal sins such as gluttony and sloth. May God forgive me and heal me.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

  11. formerly susan Says:

    Actually, Jimmy, I wasn’t saying that homosexuality is sinful. I was quoting Jesus, who said that “lust in the heart” is identical to adultery, but that, of course, implies that the one who is lusting is married. Close to that passage, he said that our anger is as serious as murder. Do you get the point? Do you have “ears to hear?” None of us is sinless, so we might as well get off our high horse on that issue.

    As for Gene Robinson, he didn’t say that he had no need of Grace. I’m sure he sees his need of Grace, only, unlike the wilflully blind, he can see a universe of “sin” that is not circumscribed by the width and breadth of his genitals. Is that so hard to understand? Have you no ears to hear, eyes to see?

    When we understand that none of us is above the other, that none of us is sinless, THEN we will have the framework for unity. It’s all about humility, Jimmy. That’s hard, isn’t it?

  12. Rocks Says:

    “but that, of course, implies that the one who is lusting is married.”
    It does???? How?
    Jesus said Everyone, not just married people. Everyone.
    Tell me, should a person who says”You know I lust after people everyday but it’s okay because it makes me happy and is loving which is what Jesus wanted so there is no need to repent” be ordained a priest or bishop?

    “When we understand that none of us is above the other, that none of us is sinless, THEN we will have the framework for unity. It’s all about humility, Jimmy. That’s hard, isn’t it?”
    Apparently it is hard or you wouldn’t be so condescending.
    It’s not a question of whether sinners should be welcome in church, they are, but whether sinners who see no need to repent of their sins and get their house in order should be the type of people who take care of the Lord’s House.

  13. formerly susan Says:

    Rocks asks,

    “but that, of course, implies that the one who is lusting is married.”
    It does???? How?

    Adultery, Rocks, adultery.

    Not condescending, Rocks, just annoyed.

    Jesus didn’t come here to talk about sex. He had very little to say on the subject of sex, but lots to say about passing judgment and loving our neighbors. Why can’t his priorities be ours?

  14. Rocks Says:

    Formerly susan:
    The emphasis is on lust, not adultery. Are you suggesting that Jesus meant it’s okay to go around lusting after people as long as neither the luster or the lustee is married? Fornication and adultery pretty much go hand in hand whenever they are mentioned in the Bible.

    No, Jesus didn’t come here to talk about sex. The few things he said, like what you quoted, seem to be things which clarify what was already understood at the time. In other words what was believed and taught then was basically right so why bother going on about it when there was so much that was wrong. Jesus didn’t have a lot to say about human sacrifice either but I don’t think that should suggest a depiction of Baal should be setup in the church.

  15. Nowell Says:

    You may well be annoyed Susan, but you are also condescending. Your scriptural arguement has no legs, but your pride runs like the wind.

  16. writeone Says:

    Unless one is a eunuch, I’d venture to say that if we are honest with ourselves everyone must acknowledge that they have lusted in their heart. Isn’t it a natural part of human sexuality? Otherwise how would we know to whom we are attracted? Morality — our sense of right and wrong — keeps us from acting inappropriately on our lust, perhaps, but it doesn’t prevent us from lusting in our hearts. If we don’t act on it, who knows we do it?

    But the point is this: Jesus says lusting in the heart is the same as adultery. And, as Formerly Susan says, that means everyone has sinned and “broken the law.” And therefore homosexual lusting in the heart is no better or worse that heterosexual lusting in the heart, is it?

    If a single homosexual person “lusts in his heart” for another single homosexual person and acts on it in a consensual, loving, committed adult relationship, how can we say that behavior is more sinful that a heterosexual person who “lusts in his heart” for another heterosexual person and acts on it a consensual, loving, committed adult relationship?

    To me, lust is part of man’s sinful nature. But with God’s grace each of us comes to understand how it must be appropriately expressed in a relationship with another person.

  17. My Two Cents Says:

    Writeone you said:

    To me, lust is part of man’s sinful nature. But with God’s grace each of us comes to understand how it must be appropriately expressed in a relationship with another person.

    I agree with the first part, however, the second part I question. We are told in the Bible how to have appropriately expressed relationships with others. It is spelled out very clearly. Homosexuality is not one of the approved ways. I agree with the other posters above who say that the sin of homosexual relations does not trump other sins. The issue is that when those in authority tell us that homosexual relations are not sinful they do a great harm to those that believe them and act on what they are told. The sin is clearly identified in the Bible in at least seven different locations. We cannot make it sinless just by saying it is not longer a sin. We do not have that authority.

  18. ecubishop Says:

    Friends:

    One of the issues for us is: Is the kind of homosexual behavior being condemned in the Purity Codes and even in Romans the same thing as two adult gay or lesbian persons living together in a committed lifelong relationship. What this what the biblical writers were talking about?

    There are clearly lustful, promiscuous, or abusive sexual relationships (both heterosexual and homosexual) we would all agree are sinful and for which repentence is required. But are there not other kinds of relationships which can be “blessed.”

  19. Phil Snyder Says:

    Bishop,

    By what authority do we bless these relationships? You will have to admit that, in the past, all homosexual sexual relationship have been considered sinful. We are now debating if that is still true. The problem is that we have not persuaded The Church that our reasoning is good. By the Church, I mean the Anglican Communion and our Ecumenical partners. As the Bishop whose portfolio encompasses dealing with our ecumenical partners, I think you will admit that discussions with Rome and Constantinople have been strained over our decisions to bless same sex unions and ordain a man living in a sexual relationship outside marriage to the Episcopate.

    When we are dicussing changing the teaching of the Church on morality or theology or praxis, then we should, first, present our case to the whoel Church and ask for their opinions and reasoning and critique of our reasoning. This was done with women’s ordination, but it was not done with blessing same sex unions or ordaining practicing homosexuals. If the Church finds our reasoning wanting, then we should be very careful about moving forward on that reasoning.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

  20. Formerly Susan Says:

    Phil Snyder, I would suggest that the authority by which we bless these serious, committed, responsible homosexual relationships is the authority of Jesus, who taught, unequivocally, love over judgment.

    When confronted with the two, choose love. Let God do the judging.

    Frankly, I’d trust His judgment over yours, mine, or the highest placed human being on the planet, any day.

    Our job is to love.

  21. Linda in Iowa Says:

    The committed, faithful and lifelong relationship I share with my same-gender partner is very much a gift from God. It is grounded in and wholly depends on the grace of God, and the gifts of the Spirit. It is a daily “school” for me in which I learn ever more deeply how amazing a thing it is to be truly known, and truly loved. This can only come from God. And – though I tremble to say this – I believe that living in this grace-filled relationship day after day, helps me sin less. And I rejoice daily in the extravagance of God’s gifts to me!

    I hope that every marriage, every partnership, would be such a gift. (Sadly, we know that this is not always the case.) I am humbled by the blessing that has been poured out on me.

    If anyone genuinely wants to learn whether same-gender partnership can be ‘blessed,’ I would suggest that he/she seek out faithful Christians living in such relationships, and ask them about their lived experience of God’s grace in their shared lives.

  22. ecubishop Says:

    Phil:

    I don’t think, as a church, we have the authority to bless same sex relationships yet. The Episcopal Church has never authorized such rites. Clearly, some priests are responding pastorally to individual couples. This happens in every denomination, in every province of the Anglican communion, all around the world.

    Typically Americans are loathe to continue to do these things under the cover of darkness, so we are more public about it. My “rule” when Bishop in Iowa was, we cannot bless same gender unions, but how you pray with your people is up to you.

  23. My Two Cents Says:

    Bishop – I point again to Romans 1

    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

    Notice that this passage states: “exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones”, “abandoned natural relations”, “committed indecent acts”, and then refers to these acts as perversion. Despite the reason for committing these acts and regardless of the context that these acts were committed in (monogamous relationships, etc.) it is the acts that are listed as being unnatural, indecent, etc. We all struggle with desires to commit sins. Some of us have stronger desires than others, but each of us is called to rise about our desires and strive to live a sinless life. Redefining sin as not a sin because it seems unfair in our current societal context does not change the fact that it is still a sin. And we have done a terrible disservice to a person struggling with this sin by telling them it is okay to ignore what the Bible says. As a parent I am responsible for the safety and welfare of my children. My child may cry and beg for me to let them do something and like most parents the first inclination is to indulge the child. However, if I know that what they are asking permission to do is harmful to them, it is my responsibility to deny them their request. It is often hard to do, but necessary. As a Bishop you are required to do the same for your charges. It is not always easy and your heart may break when you tell someone that what they are doing is harmful, but you still must do it because you recognize that there is a better way. The Bible is clear on this way. It has been so for many years. Why the confusion now?

  24. My Two Cents Says:

    I should add that, yes we are called upon to love one another. But love does not mean a blanket affirmation of a person’s lifestyle. Using the analogy of the parent and the demanding child above. Who would be the more loving parent, the one that lets their child have whatever they want, or the parent that can say “no” when it is necessary. I submit that it is easier in the short term to say “yes”, but in the long term it is the worst thing that a parent could do for a child. Even though a parent may think they are giving their child love by being permissive, in fact they are doing a greater harm to their child. Loving someone does not always mean you have to say “yes.” In fact, truly loving someone means being willing to say “no.”

  25. writeone Says:

    Dear My Two Cents,
    Does your faith permit you to explore context in which the Biblical writers were living and writing, or must “literal meaning” in today’s context always apply? For instance, would it permit you to believe that Paul possibly was describing ritualistic orgy practices in Rome in which people who might otherwise be in committed, consensual, monogamous relationships would get drunk and do “whatever feels good” — especially if that was encouraged by their pagan beliefs? My faith permits me to believe that. My faith also permits me to believe that Paul was not writing about and could not contemplate a loving, committed, lifelong, monogamous homosexual relationship between two people for whom heterosexual relationships aren’t an option. That could not exist in his day; it does today — thanks be to God. My faith also permits me to believe that the God I worship would never insist that men who lie with men should be stoned to death in the town square.

  26. My Two Cents Says:

    Writeone,
    Why do you insist that monogamous homosexual relationships are a modern day phenomenon? Were people back then so different from people today?

    My faith permits me to explore a lot of different contexts as they might pertain to the Bible, however, it is hard to ignore the direct meaning of scripture when it is so blunt and explicit.

  27. ecubishop Says:

    Well, here we go:

    Is it possible that, like the impossibility of ancient, biblical writers having access to our scientifically verifiable knowledge of nuclear physics, genetics, and astronomy, they might also be somewhat challenged in their understanding of human sexuality?

    I am not saying that science trumps revelation or that the Holy Spirit did not inspire the writing of the Holy Scriptures, but that — as our Catechism clearly states — God inspired their “human” authors. God works with us as we are at a given point in time and history — not as we will one day be.

    The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. Eventually.

  28. My Two Cents Says:

    I think now we are getting to the crux of the problem/question. There are those that would say that the Holy Spirit is doing a “new thing” and leading us into a new direction. However, there is concern that this guiding force is not the work of the Holy Spirit. The conundrum is how do we determine whether these revelations are truly from the Holy Spirit.

    One answer is found in the BCP on page 853

    “Question- How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy Spirit?

    Answer- We recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit when they are
    in accord with the Scriptures.

    Again, we are brought back to scripture. This current manifestation of the “Holy Spirit” is contradicting explicitly, direct statements in scripture. So therefore it must be questioned as to whether this truly is the work of the Holy Spirit. And that is what has the rest of the Anglican Communion at odds with the TEC. We are making assertions that cannot be supported by any theological standard and we expect the rest of the world Church to follow us based on our assertion that it is the Holy Spirit leading us, when in fact that claim cannot be supported by even our own BCP.
    So, now in addition to revising scripture do we go back and take another crack at revising the BCP as well? At what point do we end up with a meaningless jumble of words on a page?

  29. ecubishop Says:

    Two cents:

    You make some good points. I would agree with some of what you say above except that “we expect the rest of the world Church to follow us…”
    We have never asked that — only that they remain in communion with us while we sort this out in our context as we have remained in communion with some with whom we disagree.

    And…I don’t believe we “revise” Scripture; only translate and try to interpret it. Finally, I don’t think now is the time to revise the BCP! Please!!

  30. My Two Cents Says:

    Bishop thank you for your response.

    Remaining in communion with TEC is problematical. We are espousing a new theology that is different from the “faith once delivered”. We are proposing a new interpretation to Scripture that is radical, to say the least, and barely recognizable by other Churches. We have been told by the Catholic Church that we cannot move forward with our efforts to become more ecumenical. The majority of primates in our own communion listened to our presentation of “To Set Our Hope On Christ” and found it wanting. To be in communion with another requires that there is some commonality in belief. TEC is moving away from our traditional belief and has reached a point where it has placed itself outside the boundaries that would comprise a communion.

    I understand the need for people to attempt to interpret Scripture in a way that makes it more relevant to their personal situation. However, there is a risk that instead of divining the true meaning of scripture and applying it to a set of circumstances, a person may inadvertently, misinterpret Scripture to support a position that he wants to maintain. There is a difference. When one decides to depart from the traditional interpretation of Scripture one must be very careful and transparent, so that it is clear that no prejudice has been introduced into the interpretation. There is plenty of concern that TEC’s new interpretations have been tainted by prejudice when it adopts a position that is 180 degrees out of phase with traditional beliefs. As you mentioned in an earlier post, many in TEC feel that this interpretation is justified because it is of the Holy Spirit. However, as I also mentioned earlier, this claim is unsubstantiated because it fails a basic test of determining if it is truly of the Holy Spirit. Thus we come to an impasse between traditional beliefs and innovative interpretations.

    I also understand that there is a great desire to minister to those of us that are in homosexual relations. My own Bishop Lee stated at one time that he viewed this as akin to the civil rights movement of the ’60s, many others share his view. But let’s consider for a moment that perhaps this is not a civil rights issue, but instead a moral issue, as the Bible states. Maybe it is like two lovers that are so inflamed with emotion for each other that they ignore the effects that their actions may have on their respective spouses and children. Oftentimes the human heart is blinded, or refuses to see things clearly. Again, that is why interpreting the Bible is such a tricky proposition, especially when re-interpretations of so many passages are required to justify a position. There are many times in our lives when we are convinced that what we are doing is the best choice. Unfortunately, our choices are usually made in the context of this world/society, not in the context of the Bible, and we confuse the two perspectives thinking that the Bible must have been misquoted. Unfortunately, we learn after awhile that we were blinded by our own desires and have strayed from the true teachings.

    To move so far from traditional teachings must be done cautiously.

    The warning signs are flashing all around TEC, but it is refusing to acknowledge them, and continues on its course.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and listening to mine.

  31. Phil Snyder Says:

    Two Cents & Bishop Epting,

    There is room to say that both are right. This is both a civil rights and a moral issue. There is no question that the Church, in the past and even today, has mistreated homosexual men and women. That needs to be repented of and corrected.

    However, this is also a moral issue. As +Rowan Williams has said, this is not just a question of the worth of homosexual men and women. It is also a question of what life styles that a church can bless and what life styles it should warn against.

    If we had waited until we “sorted this out” as Bishop Epting said, then we would not have consented to the ordination of Bishop Robinson. We would not have allowed local option on blessing same sex unions and we would have made a more full response to the Windsor Report and the request of the Primates at Dromantine.

    There are those who claim to be “acting prophetically” in this issue. I submit that to act before consensus is reached or is close is not prophetic; it is schismatic.

    In my reading and studying of the Prophets in the Old Testament, they did not call Israel “forward.” Rather, they called Israel back to their covenant with God. In our baptismal covenant with God, we promise to “continue in the Apostles teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers.” By casting itself outside the Anglican Communion (or coming so close that its membership in the communion is in question), the ECUSA is in sore danger of abandoning the Apostle’s teaching and fellowship.

    Before we go any further, perhaps we should ask our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion and among our Ecumenical Partners if this innovation conforms to the Apostles’ teaching, lest we lose their fellowship.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

  32. ecubishop Says:

    These last two posts (“Two Cents” and “Phil”) are very thoughtful and helpful. I cannot say that I disagree. I hope the Anglican Communion will give us some time…and the Episcopal Church will use that time wisely…to explore those very questions.

    We are a very young “communion” and the Anglican experiment of decentralized and “dispersed” authority is being tested. I hope we can stay together long enough to see the process through.

    A world, perishing because it knows not the power and reconciling love of God, deserves nothing less.

  33. rwk Says:

    Should the Anglican Communion treat TEC with a great deal of forebearance in Tanzania, would it not be incumbent upon TEC to treat its own dissenters with a similar degree of charity?

  34. Phil Snyder Says:

    Bishop,

    We did not want time to “sort this out.” Asking for time to “sort this out” is similar to asking your wife for time to “sort this out” after you have purchased a new sports car without consulting her – and by “sort this out” you actually mean to drive and have fun with the sports car.

    The time to sort this out was before we started doing it.

    From the reasserter point of view, the ECUSA is committing adultery. We are forsaking our covenant with God through Jesus Christ. Perhaps a separation is in order while TEC sorts this out and decides if they still want to be in the marriage or if they want a divorce. Meanwhile, those in TEC who still want to remain in the AC should be given a way to do so while retaining their property and identity. After all, they are not the ones “moving out” if TEC and the WWAC separate.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

  35. writeone Says:

    Frankly, I have never asked for, nor do I need, a church blessing on my 31-year monogamous relationship with my partner. I do not seek, nor do I require, the approval of others for my relationship. Our love is our truth before God, not any one else’s. I do not judge the partners my Bishop or Priest or fellow communicants choose. I do, however, expect that my place of worship will accept us without judgment, that we will not be “warned” against our relationship, that we will not be lectured that people like us “should surely be put to death” and are an abomination. If my church were to turn in that direction, I would surely be forced to seek another rather than be despised and accept scorn. And that would be a tragedy indeed . . . the body broken.

    P.S. to Two Cents: There have indeed be a few recorded incidents of same-sex loving relationships that lasted . . . Jonathan and David, Ruth and Naomi, and the Centurion and his slave come to mind. But they are very few and far between, compared to the recorded incidents of death, banishment and destruction at the hands of puritans that continue to this day.

  36. rwk Says:

    writeone,

    As for Jonathan and David, Ruth and Naomi and the Centurion and his slave, I think it would be fair to say that some scholars believe these are representations of “same-sex loving” relationships, but there is by no means a consensus on that particular understanding. Neither is there a consensus that no negative comment in those cases makes the practice normative. Because a passage can be interpreted in a certain way does not necessarily mean that it is the correct interpretation. I fully realize that sword cuts both ways. You are free to use those examples to make your case by all means but you cannot assume that all would concur.

    Respectfully, rwk

  37. Phil Snyder Says:

    writeone,

    I dismiss the rather common (among reappraiser) reading that puts homoerotic relationship where they cannot plainly be read in Scripture. There is nothing to say that David and Jonathon were anything but close friends who had shared a lot in very stressful situations, such as combat or that the Centurion’s servant/slave was anything but a servant or slave or that Naiomi and Ruth were anything but mother-in-law/daughter-in-law. I think you are (and those who claim such reading) are stretching.

    However, let’s assume, for the sake of argument that you are right and Jonathon&David as well as the Centurion & his slave are homoerotic relationship. Are you then positing that David should be our exemplar of sexual ethics or that a master/slave relationship is what homoerotic relationships should look for? This seems to be what your are saying.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

  38. My Two Cents Says:

    Sorry Writeone – The traditional Biblical interpretations of these relationships do not construe them as homosexual in nature. This is a modern day contrivance and one not supported in Scripture. Just as reappraisers are quick to say, that because Jesus did not specifically declare homosexual relationships as sinful, they must therefore be okay. You cannot turn around and declare that these relationships were homosexual, when the Bible does not specifically say so. You can’t have it both ways.

    If feelings were the measure of how closely we follow God’s commands, then you would be on course. However, I would suggest that the Bible is full of examples of people that have done things that they had no desire to do simply because it was Gods command. Don’t be misled by feelings, they are not always in tune with God will.

  39. my blog Says:

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