tml> Is Homosexuality a Gift of God?
  [Contents] [About the Participants] [Opening Statement by Steven Kindle] [Opening Statement by John Rankin][Dialog] [Questions from the Audience] [Closing Statements]
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Is Homosexuality a Gift of God?
 
Dialog

Steven:
I guess I get the honor of going first. I felt that John was setting me up at breakfast that day when he asked me if I thought that it was possible that Adam could have married a goat. Now there’s sexual diversity for you. [audience laughter] I didn’t tell him the rest of my response because I figured it would come out tonight and I’d rather do it here. Which is this. If you take the story as story, if you take it as it is told, it is no less absurd for Adam to choose a creature than it is for Eve to have an intellectual, philosophical, theological discussion with a snake. What we’re faced with here is a story. It’s when you try to turn it literal that you get bogged down in issues, could Adam have really married a goat? The point is that what is going on here is what I think is an implicit use of Genesis to show that heterosexuality was not what God had on his mind first. It ultimately came to that yes. Now I’m sorry I’m taking time away from our question and answering, but I felt like I needed to respond because, believe me, that goat thing does not win this conversation.

John:
I need to give a quick response to your response. No, I didn’t set you up. I was incredulous from what you said the night before. The logic of what you said led to that question, so I just wanted to know.

Steven:
I hope you’re less incredulous now.

John:
Equally so.

Steven:
There’s one thing that I’m not clear about with you because I think you’ve contradicted yourself, but knowing you that’s not something you do. So I want you to clarify this. What is the image of God in the sense of complementarity? Is a woman created in the image of God separate and apart from man? Is a man created in the image of God separate and apart from a woman? How is it that for Adam to be complete as a human being he had to marry?

John:
I think the answer goes back to the issue of giving and receiving. Once again it’s the exegetical question. You made an observation with which I would disagree on academic terms when you said that Genesis 2 is written before Genesis 1. I can argue that on one threshold. On the second threshold that we take the Bible on its own terms as it comes to us, Genesis 1 is written first with the grand overview and design, and Genesis 2 takes place within that. So the conclusion of man and woman in God’s image, is Genesis 1, the conclusion of them in marriage is Genesis chapter 2. Now you said something interesting that I will reference as I answer your question. You said that according to your understanding of scripture, that Adam was made as a standalone and woman was an afterthought. Well to me that’s a phenomenally male-chauvinistic understanding. So if we have an interpretation of scripture that makes woman an afterthought then it has condescended to a level of Babylonian and other pagan mythologies.

Steven:
May I respond?

John:
Oh please.

Steven:
Thank you.

John:
And then I’ll answer your question.

Steven:
Actually man was not created first, ha-adam was. As a standalone being this was not a man. This was an earthling. Not until the rabbis discussed this at length and they’ve had 2000-year discussion about this. Not until the separation of Eve out of ha-adam was there sexuality. The issue is not, was man first and therefore I’m misogynistic. But rather, what was first? What was first was an earth creature that was sexless that was to be God’s companion.

John:
And see, the problem with that interpretation is that ha-adam, where Adam gets his name from, ha-adam is lonely and ha-adam is given a woman. So ha-adam is lonely and is given a woman, then ha-adam is a man from the beginning and that’s where Adam takes his name.

Steven:
Ha-adam was first offered creatures. That’s where it falls apart.

John:
No the ha-adam of Genesis 2:7 and following is the one declared to be lonely and in need of his complement.

Steven:
That’s right. And ha-adam is the one who is offered and therefore...

John:
And therefore if ha-adam is a sexless creature then the story makes no sense at that point.

Steven:
Then it doesn’t have to be sexual.

John:
Well, but the conclusion of the story is.

Steven:
Yes, it is.

John:
The fact that he is treated as being incomplete. And woman is made as his complementarity demonstrates that he is not a sexless creature. Rather he is someone who is not yet a full image bearer of God, which comes back to your question. My understanding is very simply this. You’ve got the statement of man and woman in God's image in Genesis 1 as the grand design. Genesis 2 shows how it happens. What happens is Adam is given the freedom of dominion over the planet. Genesis 1 shows he’s not an animal. Every form of life is made after its own kind. Then God makes man and woman after his own kind. Therefore, if in Genesis 2 it’s possible for Adam to marry a creature, and a creature comes after some creature’s kind, it’s not made after God’s kind, and we have a debate between Genesis 1 and 2. So what I understand is God is interested in initiating the power to give. He gives nothing but blessings to man and woman in Genesis 1 and 2. We can only have trust in society if we can give to and receive from one another out of equality and complementarity. We don’t give a gift to someone who doesn’t need the gift. We don’t receive from someone a gift that we don’t need. So what’s being demonstrated in Genesis chapter 2 is the need for man for woman, and woman for man. And hence what we have, we have ha-adam, or Adam, you are not it. He goes through all the animals. He learns he’s not an animal. Then the woman is made, he then says, bone of my bones, substance of my substance. In other words, she’s made of my stuff, and the animals are not made of my stuff. And hence we have the conclusion. So therefore from the beginning, and this was part of my thesis at Harvard as well in the face of pagan religion, is Genesis 1 and 2 is the only basis in all of humanity for the equality and complementarity of man and woman. Now the final thought here is what’s so powerful about Genesis 1 and 2 is it’s a positive argument. There’s no negative it’s arguing against. Some people will dispute me on that but I’ll do the exegetical work and make my case. It’s all the positive and the good. If you look at the Babylonian or Egyptian origin stories and so forth, they all assume war and distrust and sexually charged promiscuous warfare within the godhead from the outset. Genesis stands against that. So it makes a positive argument. That being the case, what Genesis 1 and 2 has for us is the positive not to insert a different thesis or negative.

Steven:
Well, you’ve granted me the option of not having to be conclusive but just implicit and I think I’ve demonstrated that. The problem with your position on the image of God.

John:
But your implicit argument goes against the text. You have to defend that Genesis 2 was written before Genesis 1. You have to show...

Steven:
No I don’t.

John:
But you said that.

Steven:
No I don’t. I just have to be interpreted in the light of Genesis.

John:
Oh no, you said it was written beforehand.

Steven:
It is older.

John:
And therefore Genesis 1 came out of Genesis 2 and I’m saying the opposite. You need to make that chronological argument.

Steven:
No I don’t.

John:
If you don’t, then Genesis 1 is the grand design. It starts first. It says man and woman are made not after animal’s kind, but after God’s own kind, man and woman. Therefore for you to insert the possibility in Genesis 2 of Adam hooking up with another creature, goes against Genesis 1 and its conclusion.

Steven:
OK. The problem with your notion of what the image of God is in males and females makes Jesus Christ not a fulfilled human being.

John:
No. Because Jesus is the husband to the church that is the bride.

Steven:
Oh please, please John, really, no. We’re talking about human being here. We’re not talking about his role as Christ.

John:
Jesus is the God in human form. God the Father is the husband to Israel, and Israel plays the prostitute. So what happens is the whole sexual metaphor of unbroken trust, the covenant between God and his covenant community, is reflected in human community between human sexuality, to which God and Jesus are not subject

Steven:
You’re really scrambling now.

John:
I’m not scrambling.

Steven:
Jesus’ experience as a human being was incomplete because he was not married.

John:
Was he God in human flesh?

Steven:
Yes. So his fully divine side was fully divine. But his fully human, according to your idea with the image of God, was incomplete. I do not buy that.

John:
No, because he came as fully God and fully man, unique in all of human history, for a salvific purpose. His salvific purpose, because there is neither marriage nor procreation in heaven, as Jesus said to the Sadducees.

Steven:
As he walked the earth. We’re talking about him being fully human. Your notion of what the image of God is in a male, makes Jesus an incomplete human being.

John:
No.

Steven:
Sorry. That’s it.

John:
He is fully human in the Father-Son relationship to bring us back to God the Father, who is above...

Steven:
So he’s only human in that one relationship?

John:
No, that’s central to humanity where God the Father, if we look at the text, is above male and female. His very fatherhood is the power to give, and that’s what Jesus comes to do. And so once again, and see, the thing is, you can make this argument but you’re going against the scripture itself. But for example...

Steven:
I think you’re going against the scripture.

John:
I have a question for you. Show me in scripture one place where homosexuality is affirmed an iota.

Steven:
In what?

John:
All of the Bible, where homosexuality even has an iota of affirmation.

Steven:
Oh, thank you very much. Have you studied the centurion and the pais argument lately?

John:
Oh yeah.

Steven:

OK, that’s where it is.

John:
It’s not there. The pais argument, the little boy was a boy, not a sex slave. That’s bad eisegesis of the term.

Steven:
That’s what you say. I'll tell you why. I can tell you why it works.


John:
I will say that in the presence of the most competent skeptics who argue your point.

Steven:
I can tell you why it works.

John:
And not only that. I’ll send you my text where I’ve done the exegesis and we can talk about it later.

Steven:
I’ll do in one minute, I’ll tell you why the centurion was having a pederastic relationship with the pais. I can tell ya in one minute. Because all of the gentiles in Matthew’s Gospel are the worst representatives available to a Jewish mind. They were the harlot, Rahab in the genealogy. The Syro-phoenician, pagan, polytheistic, Canaanite woman.

John:
Rahab is celebrated in the Jewish text as the forerunner to Jesus.

Steven:
The magi that were sorcerers and condemned to stoning by Moses. They’re the three most disreputable Jews that Jesus could ever commend to the kingdom of God. So this one now rounds it out when you have a pederast. The language supports it. It isn’t conclusive, I admit it. Pais in itself, even the French word mewpettishew [phonetic], which is a phrase the French used in cuddling. Well the Greeks had one too. Mewi-pais [phonetic] which is my young loving boy. That’s used in that thing. It doesn’t prove it. But I’m suggesting to you that the fact that Matthew uses stereotypical, heinous gentiles to commend, lends great support to the language that could carry this as a pederastic relationship.

John:
And see, this is where you’re looking for Matthew. If you read the Gospel of Matthew he’s the most concerned of all four Gospel writers to show Jesus being the Jewish Messiah. He quotes the scripture fulfillment all the way through. And in the midst of this he affirmed gentiles that called Jesus the Son of God. He does it with the magi. He does it with every gentile. He does it with the Roman centurion. He affirmed them because he came to be a light to the gentiles to fulfill the prophecy from Isaiah. So what you’re doing, Steven, you’re taking a negative argument arguing from silence in that context. What you’re having to do at that point is you’re having to say that Jesus is violating the Old Testament. He said he came to fulfill the Old Testament. The Old Testament is explicitly clear, a man shall not lie with a man as he does a woman.

Steven:
He violated the Old Testament a lot as you well know.

John:
No, he fulfilled it and brought the religious hypocrites to the deeper reality. Because they had taken the Torah, they had taken the whole Tanakh and shaped it into their own political and religious power over the common person. That’s what he challenged.

Steven:
Not when they violated the Sabbath.

John:
He said very simply, and this goes back to Genesis, he said Sabbath is made for the man, not man to be a slave to the Sabbath. And they couldn’t answer him when he said that.

Steven:
That’s right because what he did...

John:
Because he was fulfilling what they were violating back to the reason he was giving the Sabbath to begin with. It wasn’t meant to be a taskmaster. It was meant to be a place to give everyone including the least in the culture a rest one day a week.

Steven:
You violate the Old Testament.

John:
Sure, I violate the cultural laws that are no longer there.

Steven:
No, you violate Moses' ordinance when you say you will die for a homosexual. Moses says kill ‘em.

John:
OK. So...

Steven:
So you’re going against the Old Testament.

John:
When you take a passage out of context you deserve at least a contextual answer. If you look at the nature of Israel, it is a theocracy, it’s a community of choice. It is meant to be protected against the pagan nations through whom the seed of the ancient serpent, Satan, is trying to use pagan, political, religious idolatry to destroy the line of the Messiah. That’s a theological assumption. The Jews become a political entity to protect the line of the Messiah. And God surrounds them with cultural laws to protect the eternal law. But here’s the real issue. Joshua says, choose this day whom you will serve. No one came into the nation of Israel unless they believed that God was good. The entire sermon at Shechem in Joshua 24. And they were free to go elsewhere. When they come into the nation, God wants to protect family. Therefore there are capital punishments against blasphemy, against dishonoring your parents, against adultery, and against homosexual acts. Now, the reason there was a capital punishment for each one of those is that it was not only a moral sin, it was an act of treason. They were saying we will disobey God our King after he gave us the freedom to go to pagan nations. Therefore the capital punishment was based on treason. Now, once the Old Testament’s fulfilled in Jesus as the Messiah, he has fulfilled that. By the way, no homosexual has ever been put to death in all of Jewish history. And the reason was, innocence was assumed until guilt was proven. You really had to work hard to get proven guilty. But the bottom line is, that there are only two theocracies in all of human history: the law of Moses from Moses to Jeremiah, and when Jesus returns. Both of those are communities of choice. Hence, the authentic Gospel as Joshua did in Joshua 24, and as Jesus does, invites people to choose the Kingdom of Heaven. Paul alludes to this in First Corinthians 6. Therefore, you mentioned the story. If you’re going to take a passage out of the Old Testament, you conclude in a facile capacity that I conclude something, then you need to understand the thousands of years of covenant community that has honored and preserved that text and understands the story line. And what I just gave to you is the story line on its own terms with reasonable accuracy.

Steven:
Well, what you just gave to me was saying that if God had God’s way in the world, gays would be killed. That’s what you’re saying.

John:
No.

Steven:
You are saying that in God’s choice, if you choose God’s way and God’s will prevailed, that would be an effect of that.

John:
Here’s what I’m saying. And this comes back to something you said earlier about Genesis 6, and God did not intend for the evil to happen so he had the flood and changed things all over again. But he knew it was going to happen. In the very gift of freedom in Genesis 2:16, Yahweh God commanded the man, you are free to eat. In the Hebrew it’s akol tokal. The infinitive and the imperfect, in feasting you shall feast. An unlimited menu of good choices. But if you eat the forbidden fruit, which is trying to become as God himself, then in dying you shall die, moth tomuth. And what happens is, those are both parallel to active partciples. Life will always beget life, and death will always beget death. The moment they ate that fruit, death, brokenness of trust, brokenness of relationships would begin. The whole redemptive history from that point on forward is death expanding and God reaching out and allowing us to choose no to death. As he says in Ezekiel, he wills that no one will die, but he does honor our freedom to choose hell if we want to. And what is hell? Hell is broken trust. It’s those people who can’t be reconciled in forgiveness to God and one another.

Steven:
But John, that doesn’t change the reality that if God had God’s way in the world, and people chose to go with it and then did some man lying with a man as with a woman, they’re taken out and stoned. That’s the bottom line.

John:
See, you’ve wrenched that out of the story. Because the story says that that and other acts are acts of political treason. Do you know a homosexual person...

Steven:
Call it what you will, they’re still killed.

John:
A homosexual person in ancient Israel could leave any time and go to any other nation around and have social approval. Therefore, for him not to go to that nation and live the way he wants to, or she wants to, and to stay in the nation is an act of treason. And the reason that God gives the death penalty for that is to protect the messianic lineage. And it’s death that people choose, not that he forces on anyone. Which all of us...

Steven:
So God wants gays killed is the bottom line.

John:
You see, that is such a facile and dishonest response to the biblical text.

Steven:
No it is not. That is the bottom line to where you take it.

John:
No it’s not. That’s what you need me to say in order to justify your argument. When I give you an articulate, biblical paradigm of the story, you throw it out and give me a facile judgment. And that’s not true.

Steven:
You didn't give me an articulate story. What you gave me, you told me what a theodicy is.

John:
No I didn’t. No I didn’t. A theodicy says that God will force people into his kingdom and I never said that. I said a biblical theocracy, there’s only two in the Bible, Moses to Jeremiah and when Jesus returns. They are both communities of choice. Anyone who wants to come into that community is free to do so. That’s exactly what Paul says in First Corinthians 6.

Steven:
So you play by the rules and if you violate this rule you die. That’s what it always comes to.

John:
Do you know what the rules are back to your observation about freedom? God loves us enough not to force us into heaven. Because if he forced us into heaven that would be hell. The bottom line reality is, he makes us in his image. He gives us stewardship to make creative choices. But he tells us in Genesis 2, moth tamouth, dying forever, but prior to that, akol tokal, feasting forever for life. Both those choices are given with the information. And he says you will reap what you sow. And we reap it all the way through. He is saying if you reap it it leads to death. So what he is doing in the theocratic nation of Israel, he is giving the messianic lineage a redemptive opportunity to choose life and he sets laws around it. Anyone who doesn’t like those laws is free to go to every other nation on the planet. And that’s consistent with Genesis 2.

Steven:
Or to stay and die.

John:
They’re staying by shaking their fists at God and saying God, you’re a liar and I’ll do damn well what I want to.

Steven:
That is God’s will then. Finally we get to that.

John:
God’s will is to give us the freedom to accept or reject his goodness. After we reject it and pay the penalty for it, he sent Jesus on the cross to take all the pain to give us a chance of forgiveness. And that’s the bottom line issue. Is God good? Do we seek forgiveness? Or do we do damn well what we want to.

Steven:
John, I don’t see in Leviticus any sense that there’s a choice going on here because this comes down off the mountain not long after the Exodus and they’re all there and they’re waiting to hear what God’s word is. No one’s thinking about going to another nation so I can do gay sex.

John:
Then why? Why...

Steven:
Because they’re captive people in the desert.

John:
Why in the book of Moses do we come to the conclusion of Joshua, and he says to the whole nation...

Steven:
That’s 40 years later.

John:
And years before someone would violate and break a law.

Steven:
Not necessarily.

John:
Once they’ve taken the land as much as they would and gives the final blessing...

Steven:
So it was OK before that?

John:
No. Again it’s a facile response. What I’m saying is that the community of choice is, Moses said at the end of his life. He said, choose life. The law is your life. Don’t choose death. And Joshua reiterates that 40 years later at the end of his life. And he says choose this day. Everyone in and those who wrote the subsequent books in the law of Moses knew that it was all predicated on informed choice coming into a theocracy. Everyone knew from the outset they could leave any time they wanted to.

Steven:
They couldn’t leave. They’re in the desert, they’re stuck. Their own choice is going back to Egypt.

John:
That’s the Exodus. This is after the Exodus. No, no, no. Steven.

Steven:
I’m talking about at the moment that it was delivered.

John:
Yes. Steven, you’re historically wrong. That is when they’ve taken the land. In the valley of Shechem he gives the final sermon, they all go to their homes.

Steven:
No, you’re talking about Joshua's remarks.

John:
I’m talking about Joshua.

Steven:
I’m talking about when Moses came down from the mountain with the law. That was the first thing that happened to Israel, not the last.

John:
And he came down from the law of people being led from the Exodus into freedom. He concludes Deuteronomy by saying choose this day ...

Steven:
Forty years later which is to say that in the mean time they had no choice of going anywhere to do whatever they wanted to do.

John:
Here's my point. Joshua, when he concludes at Shechem, and this is my point of illustration, if you read the whole chapter, he rehearses for them the entire Exodus history. God is good, good, good. Your sandals didn't wear out. You had the fire by night to protect you from the bandits and from the cold. You have the cloud by day to protect you from the heat. You had the manna. You had the quail. It's all a recitation of goodness that they knew all the way through. They left Egypt on the goodness of the Passover. What I'm saying is you can not take the story apart, all the way through the law of Moses, and pick and choose as you want to. They all knew that God was good. They all knew that they could leave anytime they wanted to or they could stay in Egypt. They all knew the promise of the Promised Land. Moses and Joshua both said this is good. Joshua reiterated Moses, you're free to choose no if you want to, but you will reap what you sow.

Steven:
I think we've beat this goat to death.

John:
I could respond to that but I won't.

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  [Contents] [About the Participants] [Opening Statement by Steven Kindle] [Opening Statement by John Rankin][Dialog] [Questions from the Audience] [Closing Statements]
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