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 Open with Prayer  What current GA decisions mean and do not mean.  Session’s desire: Allow generous space for differing points of view amidst choices.

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Presentation on theme: " Open with Prayer  What current GA decisions mean and do not mean.  Session’s desire: Allow generous space for differing points of view amidst choices."— Presentation transcript:

1  Open with Prayer  What current GA decisions mean and do not mean.  Session’s desire: Allow generous space for differing points of view amidst choices.  A personal journey of discernment on these questions.  A word about terms:  The Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture  The Thoughtful Christian Study: Biblical passages that explicitly mention same-gender sexual practice. Two other sets of passages:  “One Man, One Woman”  Not Alone  Embracing the Outcast Non-biblical evidence from science, tradition, and contemporary experience  Constructive responses to disagreement among Christian brothers and sisters.  Close with prayer

2  Authoritative Interpretation (current): “… when a couple requests the involvement of the church in solemnizing their marriage as permitted by the laws, teaching elders have the pastoral responsibility to assess the capabilities, intentions, and readiness of the couple to be married (W-4.9002), …Exercising such discretion and freedom of conscience under the prayerful guidance of Scripture, teaching elders may conduct a marriage service for any such couple in the place where the community gathers for worship, so long as it is approved by the session; or in such other place as may be suitable for a service of Christian worship. In no case shall any teaching elder’s conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her understanding of the Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. …”

3  Constitutional Amendment (possible): “…Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. … If they meet the requirements of the civil jurisdiction in which they intend to marry, a couple may request that a service of Christian marriage be conducted by a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who is authorized, though not required, to act as an agent of the civil jurisdiction in recording the marriage contract. … Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s or the session’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God.

4  Here I spoke about my own exposure to these issues in the course of my lifetime.

5 SLAVERYSAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS  Biblically assumed as part of society and in some cases affirmed  Societal and ecclesial perception shifted  It became inconsistent with Gospel message  Generally prohibited  Biblically prohibited & associated with unbridled passion and coercion  Societal and ecclesial perception shifted  Some perceive the desire for covenant relationship as consistent with faithfulness  Possibly affirmed

6 For purposes of language in our conversations, here is an understanding this terminology:  L - A girl or woman who has significant (to oneself) sexual or romantic attractions primarily to members of the same gender or sex, or who identifies as a member of the lesbian community.  G - One who has significant (to oneself) sexual or romantic attractions primarily to members of the same gender or sex, or who identifies as a member of the gay community. May be of any gender identity, but is often used to refer to gay males.  B - One who has significant (to oneself) sexual or romantic attractions to members of both the same gender and/or sex and another gender and/or sex, or who identifies as a member of the bisexual community.  T – Transgender person will self identify and describes a person who transgresses gender norms. Transsexual refers to one who changes one's sex to align with one's gender identity.  Q - One who is in the process of questioning their sexual identity/orientation/preference.  I – Intersex refers to one whose external genitalia at birth do not match the standards for male or female, or one whose sex glands do not totally match the sex assigned at birth, or one whose sexual development does not match the sex assigned at birth.  A – Asexual refers to a person who is not sexually attracted to any gender.

7 PROHIBITIONISTSAFFIRMERS Because this position holds that the Bible prohibits all same-sex relations Because this position holds that LGBT identity is an aspect of some persons’ overall, God-given selfhood and should therefore be affirmed.

8  The Centrality of Christ  The Priority of the Plain Sense of Scripture  The Interpretation of Scripture by Scripture  The Rule of Faith  The Rule of Love

9  The Centrality of Christ Leading to Christ Witnessing to Christ  The Priority of the Plain Sense of Scripture Avoid Metaphor when not Intended Place in Context:  Literary  Linguistic  Historic  Cultural 

10  The Interpretation of Scripture by Scripture Scripture relates to the Whole The Role of the Holy Spirit in Community  The Rule of Faith The Tradition of the Church The Discernment of the Church  The Rule of Love Love of God Love of Neighbor

11  J. C. Beker proposed a helpful model using the terms “coherence and contingency.”  Ask of the text, what is the kind of passage we reference regarding the issue at hand?  Coherent portions of scripture may be considered normative elements of the gospel, that strengthen our knowing God’s meaning in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  Contingent portions of scripture comprise the time-bound, culturally specific situations into and for which the gospel is addressed.  These two dynamics are necessarily interrelated because it is in the character of our eternal Gospel to engage the particulars of the world in which we live.  Conversation in the Church often leans toward passages that are either more contingent or more coherent, depending on perspective or inclination. If you make use of this two part distinction, it is important to remember these dynamics must be interrelated. For this reason, it is important to make use of the full Presbyterian method of interpretation. Beker, J C. ‘The Authority of Scripture: Normative or Incidental?’ Theology Today 49.3 (1992), pp.376-382.

12 Purpose – (p. 1, Session 1) “The chief aim of this study, therefore, is to explore how the Bible is used to support different beliefs about the(un)acceptability for Christians of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) identity and same- gender sexual practice.”

13  He taught at Westminster College, Pennsylvania, at Fuller Theological Seminary, and at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He also served as moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

14  Mark Achtemeier: Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He holds the B.A. degree from Harvard University, the D.Min. from Union Seminary in Virginia, and the Ph.D. from Duke University. A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he served five years as the pastor of the Windermere Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, North Carolina before coming to Iowa. He is married to the Rev. Katherine Morton Achtemeier, and they have three children: Rachel, Sarah and Joshua. His mother was Dr. Elizabeth R. Achtemeier, OT scholar. Father was Dr. Paul Achtemeier, NT scholar.

15  The Bible's Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical's Change of Heart, Mark Achtemeier (Westminster John Knox Press 2014)  Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church, Jack Rogers (Westminster John Knox Press 2009)

16  Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’ - Genesis 19:6-8  While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, a depraved lot, surrounded the house, and started pounding on the door. They said to the old man, the master of the house, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house, so that we may have intercourse with him.’ And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, ‘No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Since this man is my guest, do not do this vile thing. – Judges. 19:22-23

17  Prohibitionist: The men of Sodom were judged by God for their wickedness.  Affirmers: The Sodomites’ intention was not to seek sexual gratification but to inflict violent humiliation on the visitors. “It references male-male sexual activity with gang rape.” (Achtemeier)

18  You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. – Lev. 18:22  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. – Lev. 20:13

19  Prohibitionist: The passages identify same gender sexual relations (between men) as an “abomination.”  Affirmers: The passages presume that “men lying with men” is wrong because it violates an assumed gender hierarchy, damaging the honor of the passive male partner by feminizing him.

20  The prohibitions in Leviticus were designed to prevent the Israelites from falling into very specific idolatrous activities practiced by the pagan people who had previously occupied the land.  The world of biblical writers had nothing that remotely resembles the loving, egalitarian, committed gay marriages and partnerships that we know today.  (Regarding Sodom stories, of course,) neither gang rape nor cultic prostitutions furthers God’s purposes for marriage and sexuality. - (Achtemeier, 82-83)

21  Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. - 1 Cor. 6:9-10  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, fornicators, sodomites, slave- traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching … - 1 Tim. 1:0-10

22  Prohibitionist: 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 use a term (arsenokoitai) that is a compound of two words found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, suggesting that the Leviticus texts were viewed as still relevant for Christians when those epistles were written.  Affirmers: Prohibitions of same-gender sexual relations in the Holiness Code found in Leviticus cannot be deemed automatically binding on Christians today, since many other regulations from this part of Leviticus are not viewed as obligatory for Christians. - Also, the three terms “fornicator,” “sodomites,” and “slave traders” may constitute a collective reference to the sex trade that developed in the Roman Empire, using young boys who were captured and subsequently castrated by the military in conquered territories. (Achtemeier, 101)

23  Dale Martin concludes, after analyzing Greek writings both secular and Christian, that arsenokoites probably refers to “some kind of economic exploitation, probably by sexual means: rape or sex by economic coercion, prostitution, pimping, or something of the sort.” (Martin, “Arsenokoites and Malakos,” 121.) - Rogers, Jack (2010-11-05). Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality (pp. 70-71). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

24  For this reason God gave them 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. – Rom. 1:26-27

25  Prohibitionist: Same-gender sexual relations are expressions of “shameless” and “degrading” passions and as “against nature.” It is distorted desire.  Affirmers: Wary of passions, Paul considers sex for procreation (“use”) only. Yet his foundational move here is that grace is for idolatrous Gentiles & prideful Jews alike.

26  For Paul, “unnatural” is a synonym for “unconventional.” It means something surprisingly out of the ordinary. The most significant evidence that “natural” meant “conventional” is that God acted “contrary to nature” (Rom. 11:13–24). That is, God did something very unusual by pruning the Gentiles from a wild olive tree, where they grew in their natural state, and grafting them into the cultivated olive tree of God’s people (Rom. 11:24). Since it cannot be that God sinned, to say that God did what is “contrary to nature” or “against nature” (v. 24) means that God did something surprising and out of the ordinary. - Rogers, Jack (2010-11-05). Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality (p. 74). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

27 The term toevah (and its plural, toevot) occurs 103 times in the Hebrew Bible, and almost always has the connotation of a non-Israelite cultic practice.  And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, … any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you - KJV Lev. 11:10  Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God. - KJV Deut. 17:11  Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman … - Deut. 27:15

28 PROHIBITIONISTAFFIRMER  Gender complimentarity  Believe God has one design for the human family - Genesis 2:24  Created male & female – Gen. 1:27  One man, One woman  Bonds of family Ruth & Naomi – clings Laban & Jacob – bone & flesh  Other blessed sexualities  Best for LGBT: lifelong covenenant.

29 PROHIBITIONISTAFFIRMER  God’s steadfast love and graciousness is tied to God’s righteousness.  Living within bounds of gender complimentarity  For some, seeking to be healed of homosexuality  Demands for love and justice reframe same sex regulations  Slavery rejected by the church and society – judged inconsistent with the Bible’s more central message of just or righteous love.

30  Abolitionists appealed to the Bible as a whole and gave priority to its central themes, especially that Jesus was the central figure in Scripture and that he always displayed love, which required remedying injustice for those who were oppressed. John Rankin, a leading Presbyterian abolitionist, summarized this argument: “The whole Bible is opposed to slavery. The sacred volume is one grand scheme of benevolence. Beams of love and mercy emanate from every page, while the voice of justice denounces the oppressor, and speaks to his awful doom.” - Rogers, Jack (2010-11-05). Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality (p. 32). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

31 SLAVERYSAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS  Biblically assumed as part of society and in some cases affirmed  Societal and ecclesial perception shifted  It became inconsistent with Gospel message  Generally prohibited  Biblically prohibited & associated with unbridled passion and coercion  Societal and ecclesial perception shifted  Some perceive the desire for covenant relationship as consistent with faithfulness  Possibly affirmed

32  Sex is: For procreation Control of disordered sexual drive  Yet we honor “straight” marriages that do not or cannot create children  Favorable view of desire w/in bonds of marriage  Do we have different standards for heterosexuals and homosexuals?

33 SCIENTIFIC EXAMINATIONARGUMENTS  Prevalence  Causal or Developmental factors  Status as a mental disorder  Efficacy of change methods  Affirmers: by causes outside control - such as genetic factors or prenatal hormonal variations.  Prohibitionists: homosexual desire as a kind of addiction or compulsion

34  Prohibitionist: People have “given up the gay lifestyle”  Affirmer: Noncelibate LGBT people can live in authentic devotion to Christ

35  Prohibitionists: To endorse homosexuality would be to let our out- of-control, sexually hedonistic culture have its way—a flagrant breach of Christians’ fidelity to God, Bible, and tradition. The vision of living in holiness before God would be lost.  Affirmers: Refusing the love of Christ to a suffering segment of humanity and putting a sign over the doors of the church saying “LGBT Folk Not Welcome Here.” The situation is painfully reminiscent of the era of slavery in the United States

36  What RESONATES with your faith and spirit? Why?  What is DISSONANT for your faith and spirit? Why?  What is DOESN’T MAKE SENSE for your faith and spirit? Why?

37 The Bible and Homosexuality

38  The Bible's Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical's Change of Heart, Mark Achtemeier (Westminster John Knox Press 2014)  Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church, Jack Rogers (Westminster John Knox Press 2009)  Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate, Jeffrey S. Siker, ed. (Westminster John Knox Press, 1994)  Homosexuality and Christian Community, Choon-Leong Seow, ed. (Westminster John Knox Press 1996)


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