Don't Ask, Don't Tell - The Day We Stopped Talking

From 1950 – 1993 the Uniform Code of Military Justice forbid homosexual men and women from military service.  In 1993 President Bill Clinton offered a compromised policy that became known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  The policy forbid military recruiters from asking about an applicant’s sexual orientation.  The policy also demanded discharge for any military personnel who claimed to be homosexual or expressed intent to engage in homosexual activity.[i]   On Saturday (12/18/2010) Congress voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  On Wednesday (12/22/2010) President Obama will sign the repeal into law.
Opponents of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell cited first and foremost that the policy violated the civil rights of gay Americans.    Opponents also appealed to the changed American conscience and its opinion of homosexuality, more particularly its opinion of gays serving in the military.  According to an article posted by The Christian Science Monitor, 2/3 of active military personnel do not object to serving alongside openly homosexual men and women and 77% of Americans are in favor of the repeal.[ii]  Those against repealing the policy believe that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would disrupt military service and lower morale which could be especially dangerous during a time of war.[iii]  Others point out that using the military as a social experiment violates its fundamental purpose and poses a threat to national security.[iv] 
While Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell appeared to be a compromise in policy that the homosexual community resented, its effect was that it legislated that the moral opponents of homosexuality leave the argument.  In 1993 gays stopped telling and we stopped talking.  17 years later the conversation about homosexuality shifted from morality to military morale and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was easily repealed.  Because the voices of morality left the conversation in 1993, the homosexual community was able to easily erase the most paramount question from our conscience, is it wrong to be gay?  As we debated the issue over the last few weeks, no one even asked.
In the 1954 film “White Christmas” the word “gay” was used repeatedly to describe a quality a guy looks for in a girl.  Now the word “gay” is a complete redefinition of marriage.  For the last twenty years homosexuality has been funny.  It came out of the closet, onto the stage, onto the screen, into our sit-coms, and our songs – we sang it and laughed at it.  On Saturday we completely forgot the problem with it, it’s wrong.  Saturday’s vote had nothing to do with our military; it was a resounding statement by our nation’s leaders that morality no longer matters. 
The end of the moral conscience, especially as it pertains to homosexuality, has been coming for quite some time.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a bad idea from its beginning.  It was not a bad idea because it forced homosexual people to lie about their sexual orientation; it was a bad because it was moral compromise.  The policy was sold to America and its lawmakers as a way to end military abuse and hazing against homosexuals.  Instead of more effectively punishing those that were abusive, we ceased to question morality.  In the meantime the homosexual community took the opportunity to redefine morality.  So what is the end result?  Did stopping the conversation about homosexuality in the military end abuse and hazing?  Has the incidence of sexual abuse in the military diminished to zero since 1993?  No way!  Policies don’t fix idiots or infidels.    Furthermore, redefining morality does not discourage sin, it only enflames it.  The end result is that sexual abuse is no longer a part of the conversation.  The incidences of abuse and hazing, as horrible as they were (and remain to be) were the scapegoat.  Truth be told, abuse was not the primary issue or concern of the liberal community when it came to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell represented a strategic shift in the argument.  We will no longer say that homosexuality is wrong; in fact we won’t even talk about.  For the next 17 years during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell the homosexual community spoke.  On Saturday they won the argument that their opponents, in 1993, were legislated to leave. 
Personally, I am not as concerned about the implications of this repeal for our military as much as I am about what it says about our culture and the church.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was moral compromise grounded on moral relativism.  If we continue without a moral compass to govern us, there is no end to the evil of our imaginations.  The church needs to reengage the conversation, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is over, let’s talk!  The homosexual community is open with their agenda; let’s do the same with the gospel.  As we do so, we must also examine ourselves and ask if we, as a church, have lost a Divine sense of absolute morality?  It will be difficult for the church to accurately convey the voice of God to our culture when sexually we too are in disarray.  If we speak out against homosexual marriage, the question that will inevitably echo back our way will question what we are doing with marriage?  Is it working?  Furthermore, as we voice our opposition to homosexuality, we must not forget the full scope of the gospel.  The problem in America is not a homosexual one, it is a sinful one.  Sin is sin.  Homosexuality poses no greater degree of transgression than does violence, greed, gossip, or gluttony.  The good news is that the gospel is able to heal the repentant sinner – all of them – all of us.  As we reengage the conversation we should not do so as if we are the authorities on the subject, but as if we are healed.

Comments

chavers20 said…
Thank you for posting something. It seems like we are sitting idly by as our founding is being replaced with moral relativism. Next up, nihilism and despotism...
Anonymous said…
Maybe if we had not "sang it and laughed at it" but instead called it what it was, sin. Refused to watch plays, movies, and sitcoms; not bought the songs. If we had only stood up rather than embracing the lifestyle. We must love the sinner and hate the sin.
AP Mattox said…
Your last 5 lines spoke volumes. If WE would deal with the sin in OUR lives THEY would see something in US that would cause THEM to ask US of the hope that is in OUR hearts.
Anonymous said…
"Homosexuality poses no greater degree of transgression than does violence, greed, gossip, or gluttony." Yes. Experientially however, many Christians DO make homosexuality out to be a bigger sin than violence, greed, gossip, gluttony, etc. It's clear from the pulpit coverage homosexuality gets...

Saying "it's wrong" simply won't cut it for any intelligent conversation. It begs too many questions that real people--real Christians--are asking.

What exactly is the "it," what is homosexuality? It it a choice someone makes? Is it simply a learned behavior? Or a disposition? Does it have genetic or environmental origins? Is that a distinction we/science can even make? Can someone's sexuality be wrong? Can anyone's sexuality be right? What are the sources for answers to these questions? Are any of those sources primary (as in, have you talked to a Christian who is gay about these questions?) Is the church's condemnation of homosexuality leading to the increasing rates of suicide among homosexual teens? If so, how do we choose between a moral stance (against homosexuality) when doing so leads to more sin (violent hatred, Fred Phelps, etc)?

And, perhaps the bigger question, how do we know what is wrong? If your answer is "because the Bible says so", then you'll need to answer another set of questions that many faithful Christians are asking. What authority does the Bible have? How and when do we choose a plain reading of scripture (as many do with the homosexuality issue) over say a contextual reading (as we now do with scripture that supports slavery)? Is it OK to pick and choose? If church members want easy answers, is it faithful to ignore all these questions in favor of pithy sound-bytes-- "love the sinner, hate the sin," "the Bible is the word of God."

If the issue is really about maintaining traditional marriages and family systems (where homosexuality is simply a symptom of a larger issue), what do we with Jesus? He seemed to have a strong polemic against traditional familial loyalty. If we are to look at Scripture through the person of Jesus, how can we make homosexuality a larger issue than say money? Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, he wasn't married, he had little to no biological/familial loyalty but instead considered his followers and friends brothers and sisters (cf John).

This is not an easy issue; your post makes it out to be an easy issue. I simply want to push back a little.

PS: I too could care less about the DADT policies. But people haven't stopped talking; many faithful Christians are actually doing the hard work of sorting through these issues, not ignoring them in favor of preventing collective cognitive dissonance on the denominational level.
Anonymous said…
"Homosexuality poses no greater degree of transgression than does violence, greed, gossip, or gluttony." Yes. Experientially however, many Christians DO make homosexuality out to be a bigger sin than violence, greed, gossip, gluttony, etc. It's clear from the pulpit coverage homosexuality gets...

Saying "it's wrong" simply won't cut it for any intelligent conversation. It begs too many questions that real people--real Christians--are asking.

What exactly is the "it," what is homosexuality? It it a choice someone makes? Is it simply a learned behavior? Or a disposition? Does it have genetic or environmental origins? Is that a distinction we/science can even make? Can someone's sexuality be wrong? Can anyone's sexuality be right? What are the sources for answers to these questions? Are any of those sources primary (as in, have you talked to a Christian who is gay about these questions?) Is the church's condemnation of homosexuality leading to the increasing rates of suicide among homosexual teens? If so, how do we choose between a moral stance (against homosexuality) when doing so leads to more sin (violent hatred, Fred Phelps, etc)?

And, perhaps the bigger question, how do we know what is wrong? If your answer is "because the Bible says so", then you'll need to answer another set of questions that many faithful Christians are asking. What authority does the Bible have? How and when do we choose a plain reading of scripture (as many do with the homosexuality issue) over say a contextual reading (as we now do with scripture that supports slavery)? Is it OK to pick and choose? If church members want easy answers, is it faithful to ignore all these questions in favor of pithy sound-bytes-- "love the sinner, hate the sin," "the Bible is the word of God."

If the issue is really about maintaining traditional marriages and family systems (where homosexuality is simply a symptom of a larger issue), what do we with Jesus? He seemed to have a strong polemic against traditional familial loyalty. If we are to look at Scripture through the person of Jesus, how can we make homosexuality a larger issue than say money? Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, he wasn't married, he had little to no biological/familial loyalty but instead considered his followers and friends brothers and sisters (cf John).

This is not an easy issue; your post makes it out to be an easy issue. I simply want to push back a little.

PS: I too could care less about the DADT policies. But people haven't stopped talking; many faithful Christians are actually doing the hard work of sorting through these issues, not ignoring them in favor of preventing collective cognitive dissonance on the denominational level.
Brian Branam said…
Anonymous, I have only a few minutes to reply today, I hope in time to comment more fully on your post, but for now allow me to address the first few issues.

1) Although I cannot speak for everyone, I am not sure that in a pulpit where the full council of Scripture is proclaimed that homosexuality gets more focus. I can safely say that when I do cover texts that address homosexuality I am always careful to call attention to the fact that homosexuality is only one expression of sexual sin. I think the real issue is that for those who support the homosexual agenda, media, and press - comments against homosexuality from the church seem to get the most attention. The church covers a wide variety of topics week to week, but there is not a lot of public response or attention on those subjects. I would contend that the church does not focus on homosexuality as much as the media and press portrays.

2) Saying something is wrong does cut it for intelligent conversation. Simple things are not ignorant things. Sometimes making issues more complicated is not intelligent.

3) Whether homosexuality is a phenomenon of biology, culture, or ethics it is still wrong. The Bible is clear that the human conscience, body, and spirit has been thoroughly ruined by sin. All of us have biological, emotional,and physical propensities toward certain vices - strong desire does not disqualify the Bible's simple statements about sin.

(More to come)
Anonymous said…
Thank you for your response. You've already been a better apologist than others I have interacted with. I'll grant you that

1) may be true. Though I'm confident that churches rarely teach about the positive aspects of sexuality, something that needs to be addressed, but thats another topic entirely.

2) I'm trying to hear you out, and I don't expect answers to every single question posed (like I said the point of my comment was to highlight the complexities of the issue). But when you suggest that this issue is simple, the burden of proof is yours, especially when lives are at risk, and when Christians (who say its not simple) are your conversation partners. The issue is only simple if we refuse to engage its complexities...

3) Totally agree about the nature of humanity post-Fall. Nothing we do is free of sin, even in heterosexual acts of love. That's why we need a Savior. But you have only restated your position "Homosexuality is wrong" and given what I presume
is a claim about authority: that "the Bible's simple statements about sin" are authoritative for you in this issue, and perhaps beyond.

I don't think your position is ignorant; I apologize if it came across that way. Neither am I saying that you cannot take the stance that homosexuality is a sin or wrong or immoral; the Church is all about taking stances.

But I do want to suggest that Sin can abide in "simple truths" passed down by our forefathers and foremothers in the faith, for they were sinful too. There are a lot of "simple" statements in the Bible that have been used to terrorize those on the margins of society.

Please let me know if I have misunderstood, or caricaturized, you or your position. I don't want to misunderstand or misrepresent what you've said.
Brian Branam said…
I am enjoying the dialogue, this is the sort of thing I had hoped the blog would become.

I think it is critical to distinguish between an issue that is truly "complicated" as it is full of "complexities" and an attempt to justify something because it is difficult. An issue may be difficult to deal with, control, etc., but that does not make it complicated. Complicating it, may actually be our vain attempts to justify ourselves in it. Allow me to demonstrate.

Yes, I do believe the Bible hold supreme authority for several reasons, the highest of which are that it is the Word of God and we are in need of revelation in order to rightly hold to truth. As such, the Bible teaches simply that sex is reserved for a man and a woman in covenant marriage. As a heterosexual male, I, as all heterosexual males do, have been strongly tempted by my own lusts, passions, and desires to transgress God's simple plan for marriage. Puberty and adulthood are not kind! While that may seem to me, at times, to be a very complicated issue because I was created with such strong sexual desire, there is no justification for sin.

In the same way, I do not deny that people may have strong homosexual desires, but these desires are not complicated - but they may be difficult to deny. Heterosexuals deal with the same issues - we are all fallen in sin.

Therefore, we must be careful not to justify our desires by complicating the issue and clouding the simplicity of the Word of God.

I look forward to your response. By the way, it is Christmas week - if I am a bit slow this week, please understand. Merry Christmas!
Anonymous said…
Sorry for the late response, Christmas comes every year, regardless of how ready you are!

I see the point about distinguishing truly complicated issues from those we try to justify BY complicating...but I don't think that shoe fits here. I think it is a complicated issue..especially if you use the Bible as the grounds.

I don't know if you have studied biblical languages, but if you have, surely you are aware of the many technical ambiguities with the "simple" texts so commonly used to close conversation on this issue. And for the ones that are grammatically/technically clear, it still remains unclear whether the problem is HOMOsexuality or HYPERsexuality (which is an exponentially larger issue for modernity).

What I'm saying is this: if you're gonna go to the Bible for authority, a faithful reading is going to complicate the issue rather than simplify it. You can't say the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong when the context for which and in which the bible was written has absolutely no concept of what is now meant by homosexuality. Paul knew about pederasty for sure, but to say he was writing against the idea of a committed, monogamous, same-gender relationship (and for some gays, one they believe is covenanted with God) is either exegetically suspect or an anachronism, and probably both.

The question for me becomes this: on which texts is the church willing to do the hard work of exegesis? If my denomination is unwilling to even explore this, what does that say to the world? Is my particular church willing to go to a place of ambiguity if that's where the Bible leads us?

If my denomination said to me "There's no wiggle room on this issue," I'm not sure what my response would be. Jesus did a lot of work trying to get the religious leaders of his day to re-evaluate their long-held practices. The Pharisees knew, without a doubt, what was "right" and "wrong"--then Jesus enters the scene and explodes those notions with some crazy idea that love is a good thing.

Likewise, the Bible has exploded the idea that homosexuality is wrong for me;it did that because I take it seriously. It is something I never thought I would be OK with.
Brian Branam said…
I have studied both Greek and Hebrew. Could you be more specific about which texts you interpret to have "technical ambiguities?"

(I have been out of pocket the last few weeks, sorry for the slow response).
Anonymous said…
I was thinking foremost of 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10. The two terms of interest are μαλακοὶ and ἀρσενοκοῖται in the first reference, and only the latter in the Timothy. (malachoi and arsenokoitai, not sure if the greek comes through right).

It would take some exegetical gymnastics to say that both words absolutely mean "homosexual."

Most scholars agree that "malachoi" literally means "soft," a modern analogue would be "effeminate." The idea is that these were younger (soft=hairless) men who sold themselves for the pleasure of older clients. The prohibition is against male prostitutes: certainly not committed, monogamous, homosexual adults.

The other word, arsenokoitai, is very unclear. It is a hapax legomenon in both letters. Some scholars claim the word clearly is referring to homosexual activity: arsen (male) + koite (mat or bed). But the technique of deciphering a word by separating its parts is suspect, as any linguist would readily admit. Example: "jackpot" has nothing to do with either "Jack" or "pot."

Again, the larger issue is that our modern concept of homosexuality should not be read into Paul's text or time. It's an anachronism.
Anonymous said…
I think the blog overhaul is causing some problems with comments (looks great though). I've posted my reply (below) twice, and the comment will show up for a while, and then it will disappear.
------
I was thinking foremost of 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10. The two terms of interest are μαλακοὶ and ἀρσενοκοῖται in the first reference, and only the latter in the Timothy. (malachoi and arsenokoitai, not sure if the greek comes through right).

It would take some exegetical gymnastics to say that both words absolutely mean "homosexual."

Most scholars agree that "malachoi" literally means "soft," a modern analogue would be "effeminate." The idea is that these were younger (soft=hairless) men who sold themselves for the pleasure of older clients. The prohibition is against male prostitutes: certainly not committed, monogamous, homosexual adults.

The other word, arsenokoitai, is very unclear. It is a hapax legomenon in both letters. Some scholars claim the word clearly is referring to homosexual activity: arsen (male) + koite (mat or bed). But the technique of deciphering a word by separating its parts is suspect, as any linguist would readily admit. Example: "jackpot" has nothing to do with either "Jack" or "pot."

Again, the larger issue is that our modern concept of homosexuality should not be read into Paul's text or time. It's an anachronism.
Anonymous said…
I was thinking foremost of 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10. The two terms of interest are "malachoi" and "arsenokoitai" in the first reference, and only the latter in Timothy.

It would take some exegetical gymnastics to say that both words absolutely mean "homosexual."

Most scholars agree that "malachoi" literally means "soft," a modern analogue would be "effeminate." The idea is that these were younger (soft=hairless) men who sold themselves for the pleasure of older clients. The prohibition is against male prostitutes: certainly not committed, monogamous, homosexual adults.

The other word, "arsenokoitai," is very unclear. It is a hapax legomenon in both letters. Some scholars claim the word clearly is referring to homosexual activity: arsen (male) + koite (mat or bed). But the technique of deciphering a word by separating its parts is suspect, as any linguist would readily admit. English example: "jackpot" has nothing to do with either "Jack" or "pot."

Again, the larger issue is that our modern concept of homosexuality should not be read into Paul's text or time. It's an anachronism.
Brian Branam said…
I want to publish the entries here for everyone reading our responses to see so they can see the nuances you are talking about. The entries are from a dictionary entitled Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains (I hope this posts well). The semantic domain gives us the range of meanings. In these cases context usually determines meaning:

780 ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs), ου (ou), ὁ (ho): n.masc.; ≡ Str 733—LN 88.280 male homosexual, one who takes the active male role in homosexual intercourse (1Co 6:9), specifically interpreted as male homosexual paedophilia (NAB footnote); possibly a more generic term in first Timothy; sodomites (RSV, NRSV, NKJV), perverts (NIV, NEB, REB), practicing homosexuals (NAB), homosexual (NJB), (1Ti 1:10+), note: translations possibly use certain specific terms to infer or allow certain theologies

While the translations you mentioned are possible, they are not primary. More importantly these nuances still do not justify the church to withdraw its Biblical condemnation of homosexuality, monogamous, committed or otherwise. Even without the two texts you mentioned, the Biblical teaching that homosexuality, in all expressions, is a sin. I could go further to say that any sex outside of covenant marriage by a man and a woman is sin. There are numerous texts that condemn homosexuality in syntax (word choice) and context.
While these nuances may be true, they still do not validate your argument.
Anonymous said…
First of all, the site looks great. Love the simplicity and clean lines. Can't stand cluttered web-pages.

You've done the first level of research, but not the second. I would challenge you to question the validity of the definitions given in the dictionary, especially when (part of) your argument is grounded entirely upon the meanings of these words. I'll point you to one of Dale Martin's articles, "Arsenokoites and Malakos : Meanings and Consequences." He is one of many scholars who might say that the condemnation of homosexuality is the ecclesial (and social) result of a (wait for it..) translator's bias; a bias which has found its way into Bible dictionaries, various theologies, various ethics, congregations, etc.

I am fully aware that most dictionaries/language resources will give the meanings you cited. But just 'cause its in the paper doesn't mean its true. Unless of course you are willing to extend the Bible's "inerrancy" to this dictionary.

I totally agree that context usually determines the meaning. So what do we do when both words seem to appear in vice lists? There is no narrative context which helps us decipher the meaning. In fact, Martin and others will readily note that sometimes these ancient lists are organized by the "type" of sin, with groups of interrelated sins next to each other. Well in other writings, arsenokoites, interestingly isn't found in the "sex" category, but rather the "economic injustice" category because part of its true meaning has something to do with exploitation and power. So if the sin is about economic exploitation, the sin would NOT extend to homosexual couples who mutually consent to the relationship.

I guess the question becomes, where does the exegete go when context doesn't help much (as in a list). And as long as we're talking context, I still pose the overarching contextual question: how can we say these writings condemn homosexuality when there is no ancient concept of homosexuality (as an ontological category). I look forward to your response to this.

"Sodomite," by the way, has no place in any proper translation (and I'm usually an NRSVer!). That word isn't even used in the Hebrew to describe a resident of Sodom. So, where does it come from? And how did it get into your Bible dictionary? Those are the questions you have to start asking. "Sodomite" was introduced into the Scriptures in the KJV in 1611, a far cry from the Greek and Hebrew texts we love to study. The point is that we can't simply rely on the printed English words before us, Bible or otherwise.

I understand there are more texts used to condemn homosexuality; I was just answering your question about some with technical ambiguities.
Brian Branam said…
If I can't trust the bulk of Greek scholars and their study of the language in the Biblical and cultural context - why should I trust Dale Martin?
Anonymous said…
You don't have to trust him. But he is a Christian whose voice is no less important than our own.

The way I see it, trust is part of the problem. I think that we share the idea of humanity's deep propensity toward sin. Why, then, is it such a ridiculous claim that a sinful interpretation has found its way into our Scripture/theology? I am fully aware that this probably rubs against your theology of Scripture, especially if it contains the word, "innerrant." But Jesus didn't seem to be a literalist; he said, "you have heard it said….but I say to you..."

If your previous statement is trying to discount Martin because he is a dissenting voice (among a majority of greek scholars), I find it providential that our conversation has lead us to the Sunday before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Day.

While I would never absolutely equate these two movements, I am thankful that Dr. King's dissenting voice among a majority (who also had their Biblical justifications) was finally heard.

Mark Twain wrote: "whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."
casual_observer said…
http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/cathleen-falsani-gets-it-right.html
Brian Branam said…
I am sorry for the slow response, but I have been incredibly busy lately dealing with other issues. We could go on and on about this, so allow me to sum up my response in light of our discussion:

1. It is very difficult to prove with syntax, grammar, or any linguistic method that we have misinterpreted the Bible when it comes to homosexuality. The syntax not only suggests that homosexuality in every expression is sin, but the context does as well. You may isolate words, but it is very difficult to isolate cultures, stories, etc. that are all contained with the story of Scripture.

2. The theology of sex is simple. Men and women are to enjoy sex and its power to not only produce pleasure but life within the covenant bonds of marriage – a male to a female. This is not only Scripturally sound but biologically reasonable. Sex outside of marriage, in any expression, is not allowed by Scripture.

3. If we believe that the Scriptures have been corrupted in part, we may as well say it is in the whole. This is the agenda of many, to say that the Scriptures have been corrupted, but with decent scholarship very hard to justify. Sidenote: it is amazing to me how much we blame on Constantine!

I have enjoyed the discussion and appreciate the points you have made, yet I still disagree with your conclusions. The issue is simple, most of the wrangling we do to complicate the issues linguistically, contextually, biologically or otherwise are simply to justify our sin.
Anonymous said…
No problem about the time of responses, I understand you are a pastor. I was a little disheartened when I read that you want to sum things up...but I will do the same if that's your wish. (though I wish we could continue...)

1. Agreed, we can't prove anything with Scripture, on either side of the issue, all we can do it engage it, or not. Many Christian scholars think your conclusion is a misinterpretation. Though you keep summoning context, you have yet to respond to the fact that ancients had no concept of what is now meant by homosexuality. If we take context seriously, like you suggest, we must realize that contextually, the Bible can't say anything about consensual, mutual, dedicated same gender relationships. Sexual misconduct in the ancient world is always about power, never about orientation. I am hopeful that you will keep thinking about this point seriously...

I am convinced that your call to simplicity is something that needs to be searched. The only reason you can say the theology of sex is simple, is because you are a heterosexual male. Ask a woman who has been abused by her father if her theology of sex is simple. Ask a gay teenager who thinks about suicide every single day if his theology of sex is simple. Saying the theology of sex is simple is a dangerous claim.

I hope I have raised areas where this issue is NOT scripturally sound, and (just for kicks) I would argue that homosexuality might be biologically reasonable today. Again, contextually, the small band of Israelites couldn't spare to lose even one potential child (this is why all the crazy laws about seed spilling are in there). Times have changed, there are more people on this planet than the earth is able to sustain. Maybe homosexuality is nature (God's?) way of balancing out humanity's hyper-sexuality which has resulted in magnanimous populations. Could homosexuality, as an orientation, be a blessing from God?

Scripture is the hinge on which this issue( and most other divisive issues) rests. Decent scholarship runs head first into any claim that this wonderful, beautiful text is somehow ahistorical and free of error (whatever that means). If Matthew says Joseph and Mary lived in Bethlehem, moving to Nazareth after their flight into Egypt, but Luke says Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth all along; its clear that both of those cannot be simultaneously true. There are thousands of more examples...I'm sure you heard many of them.

Inerrancy will be the Achilles heel of conservative denominations; modernity and post modernity simply will not submit to such an internally flawed claim. The better part of wisdom is to admit that the Bible is in fact a very complicated document, with an expansive history of editing, stitching, redaction, censorship, translation (which is always game to be mistranslation), interpretation (same), etc. If you've studied the languages and the history of canonization, you know this is true. Why pretend that the thing is simple? It doesn't do anyone any favors.

I too have appreciated your comments and engagement with the issue. I hope this was mutually edifying. And, even though we disagree, the church needs more pastors like you who are willing to do the messy work of apologetics without slipping into name-calling or salvation-questioning. Thank you and may God bless your family, ministry, and congregation to God's glory.
Brian Branam said…
I am not trying to dodge this or end it, but it has been hectic on the blog and in my office with the “Investigating Islam” series. It has garnered far more attention than I bargained for. I do not want to stop talking about this - what an unfortunate and ironic end to an article entitled “The day we stopped talking”, how funny!

I am not sure where you think I agreed with you that we can’t prove anything from Scripture. I believe the Bible to be reliable and authoritative for all of life. I do not think you can prove everything, but I do think it is full of evidential proof.


Again, I think you misrepresent my understanding of “simple” and take to far the meaning of “complicated” and I think it is fallacious to the argument to submit that the only reason I feel this way is because I am a heterosexual male. If your line of reasoning here is followed, then all heterosexual males have very little to offer to this dialogue. If I conjectured that the only reason a person interprets the Bible as they do is because they are “gay,” I would receive all sorts of criticism. 

As a pastor I have counseled with people who have dealt with a variety of sexual tragedies, all of them complicated to unravel, but again, I do not think the ultimate ends or answers are complicated. The people need healing and in no way is homosexuality a justifiable end to recovering from abuse, suicide, etc. I know this is not exactly what you are saying, but if anything your point demonstrates is that homosexuality is just another sinful expression of the sin these people have suffered. Honestly, I think the biological argument is valid, but overblown. Most cases of homosexuality can be traced back to experiences that blur the sexual norms for people.


Inerrancy is not an Achilles heel and if anything postmodernity needs is a sense of the absolute. It is interesting you raise this point, because your arguments are very post-modern - historical and grammatical reconstructionism. As far as addressing “context” the argument that the ancients had no conceptual knowledge of homosexuality is impossible to sustain. I think you need to do a cursory search of history on this. The ancients represented in Scripture had an understanding of homosexuality, certainly the Greeks did, and almost every ancient culture that can be traced back to the opening chapters of recorded history. To say that it was “about power, not orientation” is the judgment of motive, and in the end, with Scripture, it does not matter what it was about, it is sin - again, the simple answer here. Furthermore, I think that your thesis here would be very difficult to support.

Good discussion.

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