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H EARING THE S CRIPTURES & S AME S EX R ELATIONSHIPS : B OUND T OGETHER IN C HRIST L IVING WITH D IVERSITY.

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Presentation on theme: "H EARING THE S CRIPTURES & S AME S EX R ELATIONSHIPS : B OUND T OGETHER IN C HRIST L IVING WITH D IVERSITY."— Presentation transcript:

1 H EARING THE S CRIPTURES & S AME S EX R ELATIONSHIPS : B OUND T OGETHER IN C HRIST L IVING WITH D IVERSITY

2 What is the Bible for? Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31

3 Martin Luther and Reformation Insights I believe that it has now become clear that it is not enough or in any sense Christian to preach the works, life, and words of Christ as historical facts, as if the knowledge of these would suffice for the conduct of life. … Far less is it sufficient or Christian to say nothing at all about Christ and to teach instead the laws of men and the decrees of the fathers. … Rather ought Christ to be preached to the end that faith in him may be established and that he may not only be Christ, but be Christ for you and me, and that what is said of him and is denoted in his name may be effectual in us. Such faith is produced and preserved in us by preaching why Christ came, what he brought and bestowed, what benefit it is to us to accept him. This is done when that Christian liberty which he bestows is rightly taught and we are told in what way we Christians are kings and priests and therefore lords of all and may firmly believe that whatever we have done is pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God. (Martin Luther, Freedom of the Christian, 1520)

4 ELCA Constitution -- Word of God This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. a)Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation. b)The proclamation of God's message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ. c)The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God's revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.

5 How Do We Read? 1. The Bible is our Norm because of what it does. 2. God uses Human means of Grace to Create & Nurture Faith 4. Through Hearing God’s Promises we recognize: ● Our Unity in Christ ● Diversity and Differences in Secondary Matters Our Reading is Dynamic–Communal–Personal Guided by Tradition / Reason / Experience 5. We read Theologically: What is God about?

6 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD…. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:8, 10-11

7 Hearing God’s Word: Assumptions We all interpret when we read The church has from the beginning and still regularly differs in its interpretation of Scripture Debates over proper interpretation include careful Reading, changing Experience, and new consensus about how we read the Bible (cf. Reformation) Experience and Knowledge matter Bible is not first about ethics. Ethics are conditioned by context as we are drawn into the story of God’s people, and our stories are shaped in faithful hearing and experience

8 The Reformation Tradition: How Lutherans Read Scripture Interprets Scripture Unclear passages in light of clear ones Interpret texts in their literary context Texts must be read in wider context Interpret texts in their historical context How is historical and cultural context like or unlike our own Recognize the varieties of biblical literature narrative, poetry, parables, prayer, history, laws, etc. Read in terms of Law and Gospel Law accuses and shows need for Christ; the Gospel proclaims forgiveness and salvation in Christ Christ is at the Center All scripture interpreted in ways consistent with the witness to salvation in Jesus Christ as understood through the lens of Law and Gospel

9 7. Two Kingdoms In the “left”hand kingdom, God works in the structures of creation to promote justice and care of the neighbor; In the “right” hand kingdom, God works through the gospel of grace to give “forgiveness, life, and salvation.” Our decisions and actions on social issues, including matters of sexual ethics, belong to the kingdom on the left in which we are guided by reason in concern and care for our neighbor’s good. They are not a matter of the gospel and are matters on which responsible Christians will and do disagree.

10 The Bible & Issues of Sexuality Factors affecting Attitudes & Actions Attending to biblical texts about homosexuality Hearing these texts within the broader biblical witness Range of Christian tradition on these matters Role of experience and the types of experiences we bring to the conversation

11 Biblical Texts on Same-Sex Intercourse A word of caution about translation and interpretation: Term “homosexuality” first appears Earliest OED entries for both “homosexuality” and “homosexual” are from 1892

12 Two Old Testament Stories (1) Genesis 19:1-11, Sodom and Gomorrah (2) Judges 19:16-30, Gibeah Event Relevance? Stories refer to actions of humiliation, violence, and domination rather than to same-sex activity per se

13 Two Old Testament Legal Texts Leviticus 18:22: You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 20:13: If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.

14 a)Is concern religious? Reference to “homosexual” activity or about cultic religious practice? b)Cultural concerns? Issues of procreation for a nomadic people concerned for survival? c)Are Christians bound by these Levitical codes? What to Make of Laws in Leviticus?

15 Does the Holiness Code Apply Today? Death penalty for: Idolatry (20:2-5) Cursing one’s parents (20:9) Adultery (20:10) Being a medium or wizard (20:27) Blasphemy (24:13-16) There is only one law in Leviticus that we take seriously: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18) Repeated by Jesus, Paul, and the Letter of James in the New Testament (Mark 12:31; Matt 19:19; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; James 2:8).

16 The farmer must not reap the entire crop but leave a portion for the poor (Lev 19:9-10). Mixing two kinds of cloth in a garment is forbidden (Lev 19:19). Tattoos are forbidden (Lev 19:28). The Sabbath (seventh day, Saturday) must be observed as a day of rest (Lev 23:3). The Sabbatical Year (seventh year) must be observed: “in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land…you shall not sow your field or prune your land” (Lev 25:3-4). Every fiftieth year is to be a Jubilee: debts must be canceled, and there is no sowing and harvesting (Lev 25:8-24).

17 New Testament Texts Romans 1:26-27 For this reason [worship of false gods] God gave them [the Gentiles] up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

18 Comments: 1.Context: A diatribe in which Paul accuses same- sex conduct as a manifestation of sinful, violent & abusive behavior that is the result of idolatry. 2.Paul is talking about ALL Gentiles, not just a few 3.What is precise meaning of “natural” and “unnatural”? 4.What is addressed: consensual practice; cultic prostitution; pederasty (adult males with younger boys)? 5.Wider context? All are sinners and need God’s grace and forgiveness (Romans

19 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 (NRSV and Greek) Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, malakoi,, avrsenokoi/tai, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers―none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, sexually immoral people, avrsenokoi,taij, kidnappers, liars, perjurers―in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

20 Who Are the “ malakoi, ”? Literal Meaning: “soft ones.” Extended Meanings in Translations or Suggestions: -King James Bible: “the effeminate.” -Luther (1522): “Weichlinge” (= weaklings). - NIV (1973): “male prostitutes.” -NRSV (1989): “male prostitutes.”

21 Who Are the “ avrsenokoi/tai ”? Literal Meaning ? The word does not exist in Greek literature prior to Paul. Paul may have coined it. Etymology: a;rsen = “male” + koi,th = “bed” Extended Meanings or Suggestions: Luther’s NT (1522): Knabenschänder (= “pederasts” in English). KJV (1611): “abusers of themselves with mankind.” NIV (1973): “homosexual offenders.” NRSV (1989): “sodomites.” Bauer, Danker, Arndt, & Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon (2000), page 135: “pederasts.”

22 Translations of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 KJV 1(611): 9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. NIV, 1973: 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. NRSV, 1989: 9 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.

23 Summary: A Diverse Community Response Four Views 1) The passages in question refer to homosexual practice in all times and cultures and so universally prohibit such practice. 2) The passages do not refer to homosexuality as we know it and so cannot be seen as prohibiting it. Other passages therefore need to inform our discussions about homosexual relationships. 3) The passages may or may not refer to homosexuality as we know it, but they - and the larger witness of Scripture - imply a view of nature and creation that only support and allows sexual relationship and union between and man and woman, and so homosexual practice is prohibited. 4) The passages may or may not refer to homosexuality as we know it, but they - and all of Scripture - are conditioned by the cultural and historical realities of the authors and so offer an incomplete and insufficient understanding of creation and nature as so cannot be used to prohibit homosexual practice.

24 Remaining Questions 1) Do the passages refer to anything like the phenomena of life-long, monogamous same-gendered relationships that we know of today? (our word “homosexual” and the notion of “homosexual orientation” not present in the ancient world; first appears in the nineteenth century) 2) In any case, are we bound to ethical determinations made by persons living in vastly different cultures and times and whose understanding of the world and of God’s activity was shaped and limited by their own cultural viewpoints?

25 Hearing the Broader Witness of Scriptures Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" 27 He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live." 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:25-37


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