Christians fighting with each other is a “dog bites man” kind of day, but I couldn’t help but notice today’s tactic: use gays to destroy a female teacher speaking on women’s issues.
Beth Moore is out discussing women in the church, and unable to attack effectively on that issue, traditional Christian women hope the gays will do the trick. Since Moore doesn’t comment on that issue, with some suspicion she’s soft on it . . . maybe they can use gays to destroy her!
So their vile “Open Letter” was born.
With these factors in mind, and knowing that millions of people follow your teachings, we would like to ask you:
Do you believe homosexuality is inherently sinful?
Do you believe that the practice of the homosexual lifestyle is compatible with holy Christian living?
Do you believe a person who dies as a practicing homosexual but professes to be a Christian will inherit eternal life?
Do you believe same sex attraction is, in and of itself, an inherently sinful, unnatural, and disordered desire that must be mortified?
Why have you been so silent on this subject in light of your desire to “teach the word of God?”
Moore has mostly avoided replying, which sets the flock atwitter.
But I’d like to suggest a Christian response: Don’t use gays to destroy people? Or how about you don’t destroy anyone?
Here’s Jesus in John 13:35: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
That’s Christian witness.
The ‘love commandment’ is affirmed again and again in every imaginable Christian situation. The 1 John letter, an introduction to Christian teachings, has no talk about sex at all, just ‘love one another’ — five times (3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11, 4:12; cf. 2 Jn 6).
Paul affirms, in Galatians 5:6: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Does gender count? It doesn’t in Galatians 3:28: “nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
So stop making “count” what doesn’t count.
What counts in Christianity is learning to love.
These sexual issues that tear Christians apart and make a grotesque spectacle before the world are all grossly overstated, and not Biblical. Let’s deal with it very quickly.
The word arsenokoitês, translated ‘homosexual’ in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, doesn’t mean anything of the kind. As Ann Nyland notes, “the word does not appear in any of the extensive ancient Greek writings on homosexuality, and the ancient Greek culture was very comfortably homosexual.”
Paul is not condemning people to hell using an extremely rare word that nobody knows.
In a few later usages, as Dale B. Martin details in Sex and the Single Savior, the arsenokoitês has some association with stealing or kidnapping. No ancient source confirms the theory that the word is reinvigorating Leviticus 18:22 (as if we even know what that verse means).
Then as hard as we try to pretend Paul uses Romans 1:27 to send people to hell who have same-sexual interest, this is a story—told in the past tense!—about an important Old Testament narrative that Christians just happen to not know much about.
But Christians, so often flagellating themselves over “biblical illiteracy,” can’t be expected to know much about their own book, or about the extensive secondary literature on which the Bible draws. The Dead Sea Scrolls, illuminating many New Testament references, were a bit of a shock.
Let’s look at Romans 1:27.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
As scholars often note, Paul is glossing the Wisdom of Solomon, another book that is key to early Christian practice that later Christians don’t even know about. But it illuminates Paul’s references. The story of Romans 1 is tidying up the narration beginning in Genesis 6, about the creation of a second race, the Nephilim, or giants.
These beings are deeply important to Old Testament narrative—noted in Numbers 13:32–33, when the Israelite spies see “a land that devours its inhabitants,” so large the humans were like “grasshoppers” next to them. The giant Goliath is also part of this storyline.
You can be puzzled by this narration, or disbelieve it. But you can’t deny that Paul and the other Christians were invested in it . The Qumran community was obsessed with it (cf. 1 Enoch 7:3–5).
As befits creatures of large size, the giants were known for eating everything, and everyone in sight. As Matthew Goff notes: “Their crimes, which include murder, cannibalism and the consumption of blood, are driven by their insatiable appetites.”
The word Paul uses in Romans 1:27 is not “lust.” It’s the Greek orexei — used nowhere else in the New Testament — but used in the Wisdom of Solomon 16:2 where it means ‘appetite’, as in hunger, for food.
Instead of which punishment you benefited your people
and prepared quails for food,
a delicacy to satisfy the desire of appetite . . .
The giants ate, and ate. The Israelites are never said to have killed them off, leaving their disappearance a bit of a mystery.
Paul is explaining: To “abandon natural relations” means they don’t have sex. The giants disrespect the natural processes of the earth, and extinguish themselves.
Your species needs to be able to get along with women, if it wants to continue reproducing. Who knew?
Romans 1 is framed by the warning against judgement in Romans 2:1. The lesson is to let evil hang itself. Be patient, as God is patient.
All the other sexual issues that Christians fight over are easily resolved. There is no struggle over what gender of person should be a leader, since Jesus, in Matthew 23:8–12, prohibits leadership hierarchies. Those who try to ‘exalt’ themselves, he says, will be disciplined. A central spiritual teacher isn’t allowed (cf. Col 3:16; 1 Cor 14:26; Rom 15:14).
A pastor or poimenas, in the Bible, is simply a shepherd, a role that is often done by women. Note Rachael (Gen 29:9), Zipporah (Exo 2:16–21), and the Shulamite in the Song of Songs (1:5–8).
And note to Beth . . . great hair.