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Friday, September 8, 2017

The Scriptural and Philosophical Basis for the Bloomington Statement

In an effort to precisely mirror the Nashville Statement, I did not provide any justifications for the affirmations and denials contained in my Bloomington Statement. However, a person whose opinion I hold in high regard suggested that it would accrue to the benefit of both my readers and myself if I would provide them. After some consideration, I agree.

Hence, what follows should be considered my offering of the scriptural and philosophical underpinnings of each article:

Article I:  Genesis 2:24 makes plain that sexual intercourse was intended to be an integral part of the marriage covenant between two people. Christ makes it very clear in Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:3-9 that God originally intended that a marital commitment be for life, that it is a Divine institution and that the contract is not subject to human nullification. Hebrews 13:4 makes plain that marriage is an honorable estate that is available to everyone. Moreover, Genesis 2:18 establishes the principle that it is NOT good for a man to be alone - that the help and support of another HUMAN was anticipated by God as a basic need of each individual (see Genesis 2:19-20).

Article II:  Exodus 20:14, one of God's great fundamental laws (known popularly as The Ten Commandments), clearly states that God ordained fidelity/faithfulness as "His" standard for human relationships (and marriage in particular). As sexual desire is an integral part of the way we are biologically hardwired to function as humans, it must be a part of the creation that God described as being "very good" in Genesis 1:31. Moreover, when we take a close look at the scripture which is most often used to denigrate sexual attraction (Matthew 5:28), we see that Christ was speaking about the commandment related to fidelity. Hence, it is clear that Christ was referring to sexual lust for someone other than one's wife/husband. In other words, this is not the blanket condemnation of all sexual desire which some Christians have attempted to make it. Indeed, in Genesis 2:25, we are informed that Adam and Eve were not created with sexual shame about their bodies.

Article III:  Genesis 1:27 makes plain that both genders were created in the image of God. Galatians 3:28 makes clear that both genders are considered equal before God through Jesus Christ. Galatians 5:22-23 strongly implies that things like love, kindness, goodness and gentleness are universal values that can and should be attributable to both genders. Likewise, things like anger, selfish ambition, jealousy, hostility and drunkenness are not the exclusive purview of men (see Galatians 5:20-21).

Article IV:  Once again, Galatians 3:28 makes it very clear that both genders are equal before God. Romans 2:11 also makes it very plain that God does not show favoritism when it comes to who is given an opportunity to be in "His" Kingdom. Moreover, to further underscore this point, we know that Christ indicated that marriage would not be a part of our experience in the Kingdom (Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25 and Luke 20:35). Since Jesus Christ is responsible for reconciling everything to God (including humankind), it follows that any and all consequences of the fall are removed by that reconciliation.

Article V:  Since both genders reflect God's persona (see again Genesis 1:27), it follows that all of the traits which WE normally associate with one or the other gender are not exclusive to either. As it is theoretically possible to enter the Kingdom without some of our body parts (see Matthew 5:29-30), we must conclude that being physically or emotionally whole is not a prerequisite of entering that Kingdom.

Article VI:  As the Bible is silent on the question of sexual orientation, we must conclude that it is inconsequential to any of the great issues addressed therein. And, before anyone starts quoting Leviticus 18:22 or Romans 1:26-27, we should all be able to agree that those passages refer to BEHAVIOR. They have absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation - a concept that was wholly unfamiliar to the ancients. In fact, Scripture indicates that it would be wrong for someone to go against their own nature (Romans 1:26-27) or conscience (Romans 14:23).

Article VII:  Paul told the saints at Rome that we should measure ourselves in accordance with the faith which God has given to each one of us (Romans 12:1-3). Likewise, he told the saints at Corinth that if they would judge themselves, they would not be judged (I Corinthians 11:31). The standard is God's, but it is the responsibility of each and every one of us as individuals to interpret that standard and apply it to ourselves by employing the light which God has given/placed within us.

Article VIII:  We read in John 3:16 that Christ told Nicodemus that God loved humankind so much that "he gave us his one and only Son, so that EVERYONE who <whosoever -KJV> believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." It is logical to assume that EVERYONE/WHOSOEVER is inclusive of EVERYONE or ANYBODY who believes in him (including homosexuals and transgender people). Later, when Christ was explaining that he was the only way into the sheepfold, we read that he told his audience that his purpose was to give everyone an abundant life (John 10:10). Later still, the author of the gospel tells us that his purpose in writing the book was to facilitate a belief in Jesus as the Christ, and that that belief will lead to life (John 20:31). In many places, Paul admonished ALL Christians to walk in holiness (see Romans 6:4, 8:1, I Corinthians 7:17, Galatians 5:25, Ephesians 2:10, 4:1, 5:2, 8, etc.). Finally, if we observe same sex attraction in both humankind and the animal kingdom, it cannot be unnatural (contrary to nature) and calling it an anomaly does not negate or remove its existence in nature (e.g. we could say that tornadoes and hurricanes are anomalies, but that does not alter the fact that they occur in nature from time to time).

Article IX:  Any sexual desire/ behavior that supersedes or comes before our duty to God could be said to be idolatrous (see Exodus 20:3-5). Likewise, any sexual desire/behavior that violates our commitment to another person is an expression of infidelity (see Exodus 20:14). Any desire/behavior that violates our own conscience or doesn't originate in faith is sinful (see James 4:17 and Romans 14:23). Any sexual desire/behavior that violates our obligation to treat others the way in which we would like to be treated is a violation of Christ's Golden Rule (see Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). And sexual desire/behavior that results in some hurt or injury to another does not fulfill God's law and should be labeled as sinful (see Romans 13:10). In other words, there are broad spiritual principles outlined in Scripture that define whether a desire/behavior is wrong/sinful. Finally, there is no explicit statement anywhere in Scripture that forbids sexual intercourse before marriage. The best argument that anyone has been able to muster for the understanding that premarital sex is contrary to God's purposes, is based on the assumption that a collection of certain scriptures implies it.

Article X:  Christ did not place any qualifications on our obligation as Christians to love each other (see John 13:34 and 15:12, 17). Likewise, his apostles affirmed this obligation of Christians to love each other (see Romans 13:8, I Thessalonians 4:9, I Peter 1:22, I John 3:11, 23, 4:7, 11-12, etc.). Paul also told the saints at Corinth that love NEVER fails (see I Corinthians 13:8). Moreover, to treat homosexuals and transgender people in ways which we would not appreciate being treated is a direct violation of Christ's Golden Rule (see again Matthew 7:12). Finally, we cannot find ANY instruction or Divine directive to disparage these people in Scripture (there is NONE, and don't bother offering up an instruction to Old Testament prophets to show God's people their sins - that was not addressed to you, and the folks to whom it was addressed were instructed to concentrate on sins, not to disparage people).

Article XI:  The instruction to Christians to edify/build up each other is repeated several times in Scripture (see Romans 14:9, Ephesians 4:1-11, I Thessalonians 5:11 and Hebrews 3:13). Paul told the saints at Rome to "be kindly affectioned one to another" (Romans 12:10, KJV). Christ instructed his followers not to judge each other or be focused on spotting and correcting each other's sins (see Matthew 7:1-5).

Article XII:  Paul makes plain that grace is about acceptance before God, the forgiveness of sin and our ultimate salvation (see Ephesians 1:6-7, 2:5-8, II Timothy 1:9, Titus 2:11 and 3:7). There is nothing in Scripture that states or implies that grace is not available to homosexual and transgender people.

Article XIII:  The prophet Isaiah said that God had the unqualified ability to save (see Isaiah 59:1). Paul said that God told him that God's grace was sufficient to save him and that God's power was perfected in Paul's weakness (II Corinthians 12:9, KJV). He also told the saints at Philippi that he was confident that God had the ability to finish what he had started in them (Philippians 1:6). He told the Romans that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13). A little later, in the same epistle, he said that God alone makes the determination as to who will stand or fall, and that with God's help "they will stand and receive his approval" (Romans 14:4). There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that God's power/ability to save anyone is limited by any circumstance or other power.

Article XIV:  Paul told Timothy that Christ came into the world to save sinners (I Timothy 1:15). There is no indication anywhere in Scripture to suggest that any individuals or groups are excluded from this general category of "sinners." When John saw Jesus approaching him, he is reported to have said: "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) That sure sounds like all sins to me. Paul stated over and over again that we are reconciled to God by the death of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:10, II Corinthians 5:18 and Colossians 1:21). Christ himself is reported to have told his followers that "God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17).

All of the above referenced scriptures were taken from the New Living Translation, except those where I have specifically stated that they were derived from the King James Version of the Bible. Hence, as you can see, the Bloomington Statement was not some flight of fancy based on thin air or a slight of hand. On the contrary, each of the affirmations and denials that comprise the fourteen articles are founded in Scripture and philosophical premises that are both logical and sustainable. Moreover, any scriptural foundation which can be supplied by the proponents of the Nashville Statement must be seen as contradicting the scriptures referenced here (which I would think creates quite a dilemma for fundamentalists). What do you think?

35 comments:

  1. I hope to respond to this, but it may take a few days or longer to do so. The next two weeks may be very busy for me.

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  2. There is a lot of stuff here, and I want to address it one Article at a time. So, for this post, I will only be concerned with the first article. If you choose to engage me on this, then I can move on to the next once we have done with the first.

    "Genesis 2:24 makes plain that sexual intercourse was intended to be an integral part of the marriage covenant between two people." WHICH two people?

    "Hebrews 13:4 makes plain that marriage is an honorable estate that is available to everyone." Which part of that verse says its for everyone? Do you think that one implication of Mt 19:10-12 is that not everyone should marry?

    "Moreover, Genesis 2:18 establishes the principle that it is NOT good for a man to be alone - that the help and support of another HUMAN was anticipated by God as a basic need of each individual (see Genesis 2:19-20)." I think you should have extended your citation to verse 22. WHAT was the human that God gave as support to the man? I agree with the principle that a man should not be alone and that God made another human to meet this need, but do you think that his choice of what human to manufacture reflects another principle?

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    1. I am happy to answer you or anyone else who wishes to challenge my thesis on the Divine perspective on human sexuality point by point. However, before I proceed, I believe a word of caution is in order. As the Bloomington Statement was originally generated as a response to the Nashville Statement, any arguments offered against it must be seen as supportive of the Nashville Statement and/or the more traditional Christian perspective on human sexuality. Before proceeding, we should all be willing to ask ourselves a few questions about that Nashville/traditional approach:
      What has been the fruit of that approach down through the centuries of human history?
      Given what we now know about the human psyche, does that approach make sense? In other words, can it reasonably be expected for us to follow it and/or for it to result in a positive, healthy or "good" outcome for those of us who attempt to live by its tenets?
      Given the history of Christianity in other areas of doctrine/dogma, is it reasonable to assume that Christianity got this one (human sexuality) right? And, if Satan truly has deceived the whole world, is it reasonable to conclude that he missed an area as fundamental/important as the Divine perspective on human sexuality?
      Now I'm ready to proceed:
      Genesis 2:24 - We could say that the focus of this verse is on the male (if we take it in a literal sense, that wouldn't be unreasonable). Nevertheless, I think that most of us would be willing to acknowledge that this is meant to apply to both genders, and that the underlying principle suggests that leaving one's parents' household and cohabiting (in a clearly sexual sense) with someone are essential components of the marriage covenant between two people. Are you suggesting that this only applies to Adam, to Adam and Eve or to the male gender or to a generic male and female? I guess this boils down to just how narrowly or broadly one wishes to define the principle?
      In Hebrews 13:4, we read: "Marriage is an honorable estate in ALL, AND THE BED UNDEFILED: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Does ALL mean ALL? If homosexuals are understood to be excluded from this "ALL," then any sexual activity which they engage in must fall into the whoremonger/adulterer category and be subject to damnation? If you are suggesting that Matthew 19:10-12 implies that marriage is not for everyone, aren't you clearly contradicting this statement in Hebrews that it is appropriate for ALL?
      As for Genesis 2:18-22, once again, are you suggesting that the broader spiritual principle (that it is not good to be alone) is applicable only to Adam or the male of the species? Is it OK for women to be alone? Is it OK for gay people to be alone? Do you think that Genesis 2:18-22 reflects the literal/actual way in which men and women were created? If so, doesn't that necessarily contradict the account in Genesis 1:26-30? Do you honestly believe the Eve (woman) was an afterthought? Did God design humans to be male and female to facilitate reproduction (as implied in both accounts - Genesis 1 and 2)? OR Did God create Eve (the female) as the only appropriate "help meet" for the man? Don't you think that the human/animal contrast in the story was intended to be significant?
      Traditionalists love to point out that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. This argument, however, is not credible - it is not rational. Weren't Adam and Eve representative of the origins of the entire human race? Aren't they portrayed as the ancestors of everyone else - the primordial parents? Isn't it appropriate to suggest that all of humanity was in their loins? In other words, didn't God also create Steve? Didn't God also create you and me?

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  3. Your preamble seems to say that we should decide what is right and then interpret the bible against that backdrop. I agree with you that certain attitudes seem to produce better fruit than some others, but where scripture is not clear to us, then I think we ought to do whatever seems to be the best to do, and where scripture seems clear, then I think it has to trump our opinions of what is best.

    Gn 2:18-24: There is a principle here, which you identified: it is not good for a man to be alone and consequently God made someone for the man. I am suggesting that this isn't the only principle at work in what God did. He chose to make a woman, not another man. And he did that after Adam had noticed that the animals were male and female (in answer to your question about whether the human/animal contrast was intended to be significant.) We could say that God made a woman so that the earth could be replenished and that since the earth is now replenished, this principle is not so relevant today, and maybe we'd be right, or maybe we'd be wrong. What I am trying to convey though is that we must not assume that the only issue here is that man needs another person. We should admit that on the face of it, it appears that this text is saying that man needs a woman. As I said, the woman may be explained by something else, but we mustn't read that into the text.

    And No, I am not suggesting that it is good for a woman to be alone or for gay people to be alone. It is also not good for a person to go mad, but things do happen sometimes.

    Hb 13:4: I see no reason to assume that "all" refers to all relationships. It seems to me to be saying that whatever is done sexually inside a marriage is alright: the marriage bed remains undefiled. But what is done outside of that marriage is subject to judgment. Writing this has prompted me to revisit the text, and it now seems to me that it is a statement that all should hold marriage in high regard and that on the marriage bed, anything goes, but on another bed there is judgement. In any case, I don't think it can be read as saying that marriage is for any two people that decide to be connected that way.

    I am not saying that you are wrong in the notion of marriage between two of the same gender; I am saying that the scriptures upon which you rely are not suggestive of that stance.

    You probably have a rebuttal, and I'll wait for it. If you don't, then I can proceed to the next Article.

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  4. No, I believe that the Bible, the world around us and our own observations and experiences should inform our views about what is acceptable to God and what is not. As far as Scripture is concerned, I believe that context and the weight of the evidence should prevail (one or two passages, no matter how clear they may seem to be, are not enough).
    You are certainly not alone in your assessment of the principles at play in Genesis 2:18-24. And, while I am more than willing to acknowledge the obvious reproductive component in telling this story of the primordial parents, it is apparent to me that the human/animal contrast is paramount. My interpretation of this passage of Scripture is more figurative/symbolic in nature (yours is more literal). I see Adam and Eve as representative of the beginnings of humanity, as representative of humankind; and as reflections of the Divine kind. In this context, Adam is sometimes representative of humankind, sometimes of the male gender and other times as the primordial parent. Likewise, Eve is sometimes depicted as a reflection/helper/companion of Adam, sometimes as the female gender and other times as the mother of humankind. I'm not sure about your last point about this passage. Are you saying that it may not be good for women and gay people to be alone, but that it's OK?
    I don't think that the "all" in Hebrews 13:4 refers to relationships either. I think that "all" refers to people, and that it means everyone. I certainly understand and respect your perspective on these verses, but your way of looking at them is NOT the only way to view them. For me, all/everyone means all/everyone - without qualification.

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    1. "Are you saying that it may not be good for women and gay people to be alone, but that it's OK?" Not sure what you mean by "OK"....morally acceptable? healthy? permissible? I'm not distinguishing women or gay people from hetero men. All need to be in a loving relationship with a companion.

      I now see your point about Hb 13:4 ("all")....when I get time, I want to study that word usage a bit more.

      I have no comments about Articles II and III except that i agree with you. I take exception to the last statement at Article IV: men do not bear children, but then that role is not the result of "the fall", so maybe I don't take exception after all.

      Article VI: "God-given orientation": let's tackle this one. I will start by asking you if alcoholism is a God-given orientation....?

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    2. Can we agree that sexual orientation is very different from a predisposition to have an addictive personality? Heterosexual folks don't choose to be heterosexual - they just are. If they were honest, I think that most heterosexual folks would tell you that they never had to choose a gender to stimulate their libido. I've never heard a heterosexual male say, "Jennifer's breasts sure are great, but Chuck's pecs look much better!" Whether it's part of the individual's DNA or it was the result of exposure to hormones in utero is immaterial to this discussion - it doesn't change the fact that it is a natural process (which kinda puts it in God's lap).

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    3. This exercise is a learning one for me. It is encouraging me to think about what I should believe and why.

      I agree with Article VI, but I think we need to clarify the notion of God-given orientation. You seem to be saying that if someone is oriented a certain way, it is from God. While it is true that everything is from God, even the mass murders that have accompanied some of our wars, because he set in motion the universe and the processes and circumstances that gave rise to these events, and even more directly he at times has made them happen such as in the case where he asked for a lying spirit to go forth an deceive a king (I K 22:20-23; cf. I Sm 16:14; 18:10; Jdg 9:23), yet I think that a natural reading of Genesis is that he made humans male and female with the intention marriage between males and females, and that homosexuality is a malfunctioning of this system.

      The question is how to deal with it so as to minimize the damages. I do not think that insisting a gay person be without intimacy is minimizing the damage, but I do not want to stretch the meaning of scriptures just to make them fit what I think. I try to be open to the notion that I may be completely wrong and may need correction. The only way I can get that is by being willing to follow scripture even when it hurts and when I don't like what it's saying. At the same time, this does not mean that if it does not hurt it must be wrong. Objectivity is primary here, and I know I don't always have it.

      Maybe alcoholism was a bad comparison. I could ask if you think that the person who is oriented to bestiality has that as a "God-given orientation". I don't think I can properly respond to Article VI until I understand your belief on how a person derives orientation.

      I agree with Article VII, and with all of Article VIII except for the last phrase ("inconsistent with God's original design"), as you can tell from the foregoing, UNLESS it was his original design that the system break down sometimes, and maybe it was, but IF it was, then we can also say that it was his design that there should occur all sorts of events that we usually think of as bad. And I think that it WAS his design that unhappy things should occur (Rm 8:20-21). I could go on, but I think I should wait for your response.

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    4. Gordon, I appreciate your comments. I'm learning too (If we stop learning and growing, we are either stagnating or declining.
      As you know, we approach the Bible from slightly different perspectives. I no longer feel the need to reconcile/harmonize all of the contradictions.
      Having said that, I think that we have both arrived at some preliminary conclusions about God which are not generally/widely accepted in traditional Christian circles. I think that you and I would both agree that humankind's notions about good/bad and right/wrong are not necessarily in harmony with the Divine perspective on those things. And, just because something doesn't behave in the same way that other similar things behave, doesn't automatically qualify that thing as aberrant or perverse.
      In conjunction with the biblical principles which I've outlined in Article IX above and the two articles on human sexuality which were published in The Journal, I would say that bestiality qualifies as a perversion. One of the two organisms in this sexual equation (the animal) is not the equal of the human. How can an animal be said to be giving informed consent to the activity? And, if the animal is hurt in any way, the act violates the principle that love does no harm. Also, we could say that this practice clearly violates the principle outlined in Genesis that each organism reproduce after its own kind. And, I don't think that anyone has ever proposed that humans are born with desire to have sex with animals (if they have, I'm not aware of it - and I haven't seen any scientific evidence to support such a conclusion).
      I don't view homosexuality as "a malfunctioning of this system." I look at it as a natural occurrence which happens with less frequency than heterosexuality.
      However, for the sake of argument, if we did look at it as a malfunction, I agree with you that our objective should be how best to ameliorate any negative consequences of it. If someone is born deaf, we teach them how to use sign language - We don't leave them isolated and without any means to communicate with others. If someone is born blind, we teach them how to read braille - We don't tell them that books are off-limits to them. If someone is born without their hands, we give them a prosthesis or teach them to use their toes!
      I would say that following Scripture even when it hurts means that I've probably either misinterpreted the Scripture, or the human author failed to communicate God's will in the matter (or offered his own thoughts on the subject). God has designed a world where hurts happen, but I don't think that God wants us to lie down in the road and just accept everything that comes our way. If there's a flood and God sends a boat, you'd better accept the offer of a ride! What do you think?

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    5. OK, instead of bestiality, how about incest? A brother and a sister. Two equals. Or how about two brothers falling in love with each other?

      I agree that God doesn't want us to needlessly subject ourselves to hurt, but there are times when the hurt is from us not wanting to let go of what he says to abandon.

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    6. According to Scripture, God is not as squeamish about incest as we are. Remember, Sarah was apparently Abraham's half-sister (Genesis 20:12). And, while we could do all kinds of mental gymnastics and say that God didn't necessarily approve of this, we would still be faced with the fact that he chose to bless this relationship with a son who would be Abraham's ONLY legitimate heir in God's eyes - the heir of the very promises which God had made to him.
      Nevertheless, I would say that incest also violates some of the underlying biblical principles which I think govern such things. Incest has the potential to physically/mentally harm any offspring that would result from such a relationship. It also carries the potential of doing harm to other relationships within the family unit (the parents and other siblings of the pair).
      I believe that God only tells us to abandon things which can hurt ourselves or others. I don't believe that God decided to arbitrarily issues a list of dos and don'ts simply to exert "his" right to do so.
      Is it "good" for someone to be alone or not? I know that you don't believe that God intended for someone to suffer isolation and loneliness because of an accident of birth.
      Yes, I can see why God would tell us to abandon behaviors which inflict harm on ourselves or others, but I cannot accept that God would do that simply because it is "his" prerogative to do so. One can see the rationale behind a prohibition against exploitation, callousness and infidelity: but it is almost impossible to imagine a prohibition against anything grounded in love and mutual benefit.

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  5. When I was a young kid I took the position that both God and nature could not produce homosexuals since it is contrary to the laws of procreation.

    Now being "older and wiser" I know that nature has in the past and is at present producing homosexuals through chemical processes.

    I also have a theory that there is "evolutionary use" for this minority. This "use" may not perse lie in the individual sexuality of such humans but moreso in the role they may play in larger society. One obvious role is that of entertainer being able to glue a society and ensure the survival of a group.


    The entertainer remark is somewhat tongue in cheek although based on obervance of major practitioners of this trade also.


    There are more roles in society that homosexuals more effectively execute. For instance "creative roles" also for the benefit of larger society ensuring the survival of groups.

    As military or religious leaders they seem to have been particularly cruel and precise. Perhaps also thereby ensuring the survival of their group.

    Also cave dweller man must have instinctively felt their female companions and little off spring to be more safe with "certain men" if they went out hunting for several weeks. Since these man had not shown many signs of being interested in these female specimens other than of service in their making choices that benefitted society in general and ensuring the group survival during the long winter nights again with entertainment.

    nck




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  6. Oh and of course the British have exploited that sexual orientation by conquering the entire world and having many men dedicated to science by men dedicating their energies toward progress instead of turning inward to families or dedicating their attention to female species usurping many useless hours of idle chitchat. (by not having provided proper education for said species in the past)

    nck

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    1. nck, although it is dangerous to generalize about any group of people, I think that your point about there being many artistically gifted folks in the LGBTQ community is a valid one. And, thanks to the movie "The Imitation Game," the world now knows about the contributions of Alan Turing to science and history. Thank you for pointing out that these folks have meaningful contributions to make to human society. Many LGBTQ folks have also served (and are currently serving) in the ranks of the United States military and have filled posts in the State Department. Likewise, a good many LGBTQ folks have adopted and/or provided a loving home for unwanted children.

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  7. My apologies for the tardy reply. I see that you amended Article VIII. This is gratifying because it shows that our discussion is fruitful. I do not believe I have an issue with the subsequent articles.

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  8. Article VI: As the Bible is silent on the question of sexual orientation, we must conclude that it is inconsequential to any of the great issues addressed therein. And, before anyone starts quoting Leviticus 18:22 or Romans 1:26-27, we should all be able to agree that those passages refer to BEHAVIOR. They have absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation - a concept that was wholly unfamiliar to the ancients. In fact, Scripture indicates that it would be wrong for someone to go against their own nature (Romans 1:26-27) or conscience (Romans 14:23).

    It's wrong for someone to go against their conscience if they're correct in their judgment or invincibly ignorant, but how do you get from that to homosexual acts are approved. (Moreover, that doesn't make the acts objective right.) To abstain from them one need only fail to do what they erroneously think is right, not fail to do what they think is required.

    If sexual orientation is irrelevant to what the Bible says about great issues - I assume on sexual morality - then doesn't that mean that the prohibitions against same-sex acts, which are described as unnatural, stand for a person regardless if they are disposed to commit them?

    The basis of Natural Law Theory is that one shouldn't go against their nature - defined as the "what kind of being one is", since goodness (moral and natural) is the fulfillment of one's nature, since it involves the perfection of the person. (the same is true of plants and animals, only they don't have a moral dimension to their goodness). Natural Law Theory rightly notes, as does Scripture that homosexual acts are unnatural. I hardly see how saying 'one should not go against their nature' is an argument for the permissibly of such acts? What do you have in mind when you write "nature"?

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    1. Jensen, I appreciate both your public and private comments on this post. You obviously have the ability to recognize goodness/worthiness in individuals who are gay, or there wouldn't be any folks with that orientation who are accepted and loved by you. Doesn't this suggest that you have judged these individuals to be capable of good moral behavior (at the very least, love and friendship)? Doesn't that suggest that you have found the qualities which these individuals possess to be more positive (good) than negative (bad)?
      If we attempt to isolate that part of our nature as humans which deals with the sexual orientation of the individual (which I would say is almost impossible to do - as there are so many different components/factors which contribute to this), we must judge this trait by the same criteria which we apply to all others: Is it something that I have created or somehow generated? If not, then it is natural. In other words, if our orientation is something that we are either born with or is somehow generated by our environment (external influences) at an early age, then it is natural or part of our nature. Did you have to choose to be attracted to a certain gender, or did that come naturally to you? And let's not confuse gender with orientation. It is illogical to equate/conflate gender with orientation - don't the plant and animal kingdoms teach us this truth? It appears to me to be self-evident that males are not necessarily always attracted to females and vice versa.
      Finally, are you contending that the concept of sexual orientation was known to the ancients? If so, please provide scriptural proof specifically related to orientation (not gender or behavior).

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    2. Hi Miller,
      I don't know if their good outweighs their bad, even as I doubt that my good outweighs my bad. How thankful I am, then, to be justified by faith! But they are certainly capable, at least with God's grace, to live good lives, and to some extent, like us all, do. Of course, I think, this means abstaining from homosexual acts.

      As to what is natural, I think you're definition of natural is lacking. Perhaps you can clarify it for me by answering these questions.

      By your standard, wouldn't all sin be natural, since sin is, in our fallen state, we are inclined to do, and that continually? You rightly condemn promiscuity, saying that fidelity is what humans ought to abide by. But promiscuity is something that, in a sense, comes naturally to many, particularly men. It's not natural in the sense I think we should be using, but is, I think, by the standard your using.

      If so, then by your logic, you must approve of promiscuity, fornication and adultery. Or rather, since you condemn those things, recognize that what is "natural" is not always good to act upon. But then, homosexual acts might be morally wrong and homosexual desire wrong (though, not in a morally culpable way - but wrong / bad in the same way it is wrong for a cat to only have three legs).

      I'll say more about what I think Paul means by natural later, perhaps in a future comment.

      I don't know if the ancient world thought about sexual activity in terms of subjective, felt sexual orientation. But if that's so, and as you say that 'we must conclude that it is inconsequential to any of the great issues addressed therein', then the prohibitions against homosexual sexual acts stands regardless of a person's orientation toward them or lack thereof.

      Take care,
      Jensen

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    3. Jensen,
      I share your thankfulness that we are justified by faith in the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice. Of course, we are ALL sinners (heterosexuals and homosexuals) and saved only by the grace of God. We know that anyone who claims to be without sin (including Christians) is a liar and that the truth does not reside in such a person.
      However, as you suggest in your comments, some folks are more inclined to the good while others are more inclined to the bad. And, while I believe that God expects us to show mercy and kindness toward everyone, I would also hope that anyone who claimed to be a Christian would be closest (in love and friendship) to those who are more inclined to the good.
      As for my explanation of what is natural, perhaps you have misunderstood my position? I certainly do not believe that sin is natural. Why? Because sin is something that we create - it is BEHAVING in a way that is contrary to God's Law and the principles which underpin it (Love for each other and love for God). I would say that sin is not imposed on us - it is a choice that we make.
      I did not choose to be a homosexual. Why would anyone choose to subject themselves to condemnation and ridicule? If I could have chosen my sexual orientation, like water, I would have chosen the path of least resistance. And, since I did not choose to be a homosexual, I don't believe that it is unnatural or a sin.
      It is your nature to be attracted to members of the opposite sex. It is my nature to be attracted to members of the same sex. Like you, my sexual orientation has the potential to be used by me in a sinful way - based on the CHOICES that we make.
      If we choose to use sex in a flippant way, we risk hurting others (and ourselves). If we are not faithful to the person with whom we have made a commitment of love, than we will almost certainly hurt him/her. In other words, these choices clearly violate the commandments and the principles behind them.
      How does my loving and remaining faithful to another person (male or female) hurt you or anyone else? And, if I am attracted to men and choose to marry a woman, please explain to me how I haven't gone against my nature?
      There are a lot of dos and don'ts in the Torah. During his earthly ministry, Jesus Christ made clear that not all of them were of Divine origin (e.g. Moses permitted a form of divorce which was inconsistent with God's original intent for the institution of marriage). Scripture is a joint venture between human and Divine, and the human part is not infallible (that's God's nature, not ours).
      We are told, however, that God personally wrote the ten commandments. And, as I've already mentioned, Jesus Christ said that those precepts were based on LOVE (for neighbor and God). Hence, as Christians, I believe we should be asking ourselves: Are my choices consistent with that law and those precepts? The other stuff may or may not apply - there are eternal and universal principles, and there are those which were temporary and expedient.

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    4. Hi Miller,
      I still think it is wrong to say that what is natural, strictly speaking (that is, in the relevant sense) is not our unchosen characteristics, proclivities or desires. The pedophile didn’t choose to have a sexual attraction to the prepubescent, as can be seen, I think, by the fact that many who are so disposed want to kill themselves. Is this sexual orientation natural, then? No. Nor is a polyamorous sexual orientation, even though a person might have a strong, unchosen attraction to multiple people, who in turn have attraction to them and another, and so on.

      But by your definition of natural, these attractions are natural, or so it would seem. And I see no reason to think that marriage should only be between two people, nor lifelong. These marital norms make sense only if marriage is essentially heterosexual. (I think that Robert George, Ryan Anderson, and Sherif Girgis in “What is Marriage?” make this point well.) But we’re not talking about marriage; though the issue of whether there is such a thing as gay marriage is related, its being coherent doesn’t follow, I think, even if gay sexual acts are permissible. But I digress.

      What defines nature is not our subjective experience of ourselves – not that such is wholly irrelevant. Rather, what is natural is what is proper to us given our nature / essence, that is, of rational animality. The heart of natural law theory, which I think is consonant and implicit in Scripture, is this notion. Goodness is defined in reference to the kind of thing a being is. The goodness of a triangle is one thing, that of a square another, that of a tree still another, a dog another, and a human still a different kind (with a moral dimension).

      A triangle that has squiggly sides is to that extent a bad triangle. We make this qualitative judgement about it because its really is bad; it isn’t bad because we say it is. To be a triangle is to have a certain essence, and we grasp that and so judge the triangle by the concept of “what it is to be a triangle”. Or consider vegetative life. Now we have powers like reproduction and nutrition at play. A tree that is unable to develop roots as it should, say, because of suffering some blight or other, is to that extent a bad tree. It’s not bad because we say it is, but we say it’s bad because it objectively is. It’s roots, which ought to develop so as to draw in water to sustain the tree fail at this function. Healthy roots would fulfill this purpose, would actualize a power they have by nature.

      Each way of the step up, from inanimate, vegetative, animal and then rational life, the goodness of the thing varies, growing more complex. With humans, since we have intellect and will, and can so be intellectually and morally responsible for what we do, our flourishing, or shortcomings, have a moral dimension to them. But the principle applied in the other cases still applies here – what is good for a human is defined by his essence. Good health is obvious: a heart exists for the sake of pumping blood to the whole body to help sustain it. A heart that does so poorly, irregularly or in some way deficiently is to that extent a bad heart. The heart has a purpose / end / telos the fulfillment of perfects it, as it actualizes what it potentially is. The same rule holds for the intellect – its purpose is to perceive what is true and good – and the will – it is aimed toward pursuing what is true and good. The same also holds for our reproductive organs.

      And, in short, they exist for the sake of procreation, of producing children, of creating families naturally apt for producing and raising children. They have a procreative end. They also have a unitive end insofar as one cannot fulfill this reproductive by oneself, rather a man and a woman are needed. In this they act in concert toward the same end, the same biologic good; in doing so, their organs act toward the same end, even as their own body’s organs act toward the same biologic good of heath. In a very real way, they become one flesh.

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    5. Given that this is what they exist for, a good use of the sexual organs would be unitive and open to procreation. A bad use would miss this mark – for example, masturbation, contracepted sex, and homosexual acts.

      I think that Romans 1:26,27 – “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 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.” – expresses this idea. Of course, I’ve not fully fleshed it out. I’ll reference some articles that do so in greater detail.

      I think that Timothy Hsaio does a good job discussing this in some of his essays – see: http://timhsiao.org/ - as does Edward Feser – see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rynlfggqAcU – and concerning homosexuality and Scripture, Robert Gagnon seems pretty solid; I suspect you’ve heard of him, though.

      I find commenting somewhat constraining. I read your “Bloomington Statement” (and all I could think of was Outback steakhouse’s blooming onions) and its philosophic and scriptural defense, and was planning to write a post commenting on it at my secondary blog. I’ve been somewhat busy, and failed to save it, so Word deleted all of my progress. But when I finish it, I’ll post a link to it here; that way, if you want to check it out, you can.

      Take care,
      Jensen

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  9. Jensen,
    Once again, I appreciate the thought and attention which you have devoted to this subject, and I look forward to reading your blog post when you're finished. For now, however, I would like to address a few of the points you made in your above comments.
    Pedophilia is fundamentally different from homosexuality in a number of ways that directly relate to God's law: 1) It cannot be characterized as a consensual relationship because the parties to the behavior are physically, mentally and emotionally unequal 2) It can obviously be characterized as an exploitative relationship and is consequently harmful to the person being exploited (the child) 3) It perverts the natural nurturing role that God/nature has carved out for adults relative to children 4) Pedophilia harms the perpetrator by desensitizing them to the harm which they are inflicting on the child and 5) I am unaware of anyone who has suggested that pedophiles are born that way (After all, we are talking about an adult (or someone considerably older than the victim) who is exploiting a child for the gratification of their sexual desires.
    Marriage is much more than sexual intercourse, and sexual intercourse is about much more than procreation. And, if this statement is not true, then there are a good many heterosexual marriages that are in trouble. The fact that homosexual sex occurs is proof enough that intercourse only works between men and women.
    For humankind, our brains are our most important sexual organs. Consequently, our reproductive organs are often employed in creative ways and sexual stimulation can involve many different body parts (e.g. eyes, mouth, breasts/pecs, hands, feet, buttocks, etc.). Hence, unless you are going to limit "natural" human sexual intercourse to missionary sex between a man and a woman, you have a great deal of explaining to do about current heterosexual behaviors in the bedroom.
    I'm not sure I understand your commentary about good and bad. Are you equating this with good and evil? Are you suggesting that a triangle with squiggly sides is evil? Is someone who is missing an eye or a limb a "bad" person?
    What happens if someone falls short of the norm? If someone is born blind, don't we teach them to use a cane, seeing eye dog and/or read braille? Is it wrong to help these "imperfect" people function as "normally/naturally" as possible?
    If a man marries a woman and has five sons and his wife dies, are the six remaining men still worthy of being called a family? Can two men or two women raise a child?
    As for Paul, I think that he was a man with many flaws (just like you and me) whom God used to establish, spread and define Christianity. Unfortunately, he was also the product of the very flawed Jewish society of the First Century and was consequently subject to being influenced by the paternalistic, sexist and bigoted ideas then extant. And we should remember that Paul's hangups relative to human sexuality were not necessarily God's hangups (e.g. what the unmarried apostle perceived to be natural and unnatural relative to sex was almost certainly out of sink with some of the married heterosexual Christians of the First Century and the God which they all professed to worship and obey).

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  10. P.S. I was tired when I wrote this last night and noticed several typos this AM. The most glaring is the sentence: "The fact that homosexual sex occurs is proof enough that intercourse only works between men and women." Obviously, it should have been: The fact that homosexual sex occurs is proof enough that intercourse ISN'T SOMETHING THAT only works between men and women.

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    1. Hi Miller,
      Thanks for continuing this conversation. I find that there are several ways that conversing with those with different views is more enjoyable than talking with those who agree with us; though, that has its benefits as well.

      I agree that pedophilia is very different from homosexuality; I believe it is wrong in more ways that homosexual acts per se are. In any event, this only proves my point.

      See, your definition of natural is something like ‘that which is produced by one’s genes, or impressed by one’s environment early on’; and what is natural in this sense, you say, is permissible to act upon. Have I correctly understood your view?

      Now, pedophilic attraction meets these criteria. There is, for instance, evidence that genetics plays a role in developing pedophilic attraction, even as one’s environment during childhood can. Some pedophilias – not all of which act on their desires – report that they started having attraction to the prepubescent in their teenage years, say, 17 years old, and it never went away – though, they certainly wished it had.

      So, you’re faced with this dilemma, then. Either what is produced by genetics or influenced by one’s early environment growing up is not “natural” (in the relevant sense – my suggestion); or, if it is, then what is natural is not thereby permissible to act upon. In either event, your inference that homosexual acts are permissible because one’s orientation is unchosen, but genetically or environmentally influenced, fails. Does this mean that homosexual acts are immoral? By itself, no.

      This I think can be seen clearly in the case of polyamorists, but I’ll say more about them in the context of marriage, that is, presently.

      Marriage is much more than sexual intercourse, and sexual intercourse is about much more than procreation. And, if this statement is not true, then there are a good many heterosexual marriages that are in trouble. The fact that homosexual sex occurs is proof enough that intercourse [doesn’t] only works between men and women.

      Marriage is about more than sexual intercourse, and sexual intercourse is about more than procreation. However, marriage is essentially centered around sexual intercourse, and sexual intercourse is essentially ordered toward procreation, and thereby it unites a man and woman in ways more than emotional, that is, in it they form a bodily union. (More generally, procreation is ordered toward raising children and family building.)

      Given this, sexual intercourse, can only work between a man and a woman. Or, to put it another way, not all kinds of sexual intercourse are equal. This follows from considering the purpose of the sexual organs – or that for which they exist. I believe this is reproduction, and more generally child rearing, family building. Hence we call them reproductive organs.

      When a man and woman engage in coitus, their reproductive organs function together toward the self-same biologic good, that is procreation, and this they do much the same way one’s own organs act toward the same biologic good; for example the various parts of the digestive system functioning toward providing nutrition for the whole body. Anal sex is not like; it is more akin to putting one’s finger in another’s ear; a mere geometric union. True, unlike that, it typically is done to foster intimacy and is considerably more pleasurable than scratching one’s ear. However, in it one’s sexual organs are not functioning toward the self-same good; in fact, they are being employed and in doing so one is actively frustrating their end or purpose.

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    2. In this bodily union and its natural orientation toward procreation, and here alone, do marital norms (of sexual exclusivity, permanence and being a two person union) make sense. Because sexual intercourse (in the proper sense) is ordered toward procreation, and since one has stringent and enduring obligations to one’s children, a man should be sexually faithful to his wife and vice versa. Otherwise, a man would have ten children with five women, and his wife would have five children with four men – and the family structure could not survive. And marriage should be permanent, since raising children takes a long time. And sexual exclusivity requires that marriage consist of only one man and one woman, since only two are required for procreation.

      But if marriage is not essentially heterosexual, but can also be homosexual, why need it be permanent, or why need it be only a two-person union? I see no non-arbitrary reason. More precisely, in that case, anything can be marriage, which is just another way of saying there is really no thing as marriage.

      You rightly note that fidelity is expected in human relationships, but why think that means that in marriage this translates into sexual exclusivity? I can be a faithful friend even if I confide and am confided in by many friends, if I give gifts to them all, share various interests with many of them, and do the same things with them. Why do I have to be sexually exclusive to my wife (or husband), but I don’t have to go golfing exclusively with my old high school friend?

      “Hence, unless you are going to limit "natural" human sexual intercourse to missionary sex between a man and a woman, you have a great deal of explaining to do about current heterosexual behaviors in the bedroom.”

      To put things perhaps a bit too simplistically, the end game has to be uncontracepted coitus. Because then, one’s sexual acts will be unitive and open toward procreation, which is necessary. Additionally, it serves to unite them emotionally, too. And whatever additional acts one can find to do that don’t involve frustrating this end are potentially fine.

      “I'm not sure I understand your commentary about good and bad. Are you equating this with good and evil? Are you suggesting that a triangle with squiggly sides is evil? Is someone who is missing an eye or a limb a "bad" person?”

      Evil is, I think, fundamentally a privation. A privation of what? Of what by a things nature should be there. Given the essence of a triangle, it ought to have three straight sides. If it doesn’t have this – if the sides aren’t quite closed, or are not quite straight – it is, to that extent, a bad triangle. Not in a moral sense, of course, but in a broader sense of good and bad.

      Humans who only have one limb are to that extent a bad instance of human kind – not in a moral sense, but in the sense that all that is proper to them qua animals is not present, is lacking. A person who is unable to reason well is to that extent not a good human qua rational. Now, these are not cases of moral badness, but of badness in a more general sense. Moral goodness and badness is a specific kind of goodness or badness belonging to beings with intellects and wills – we can choose what we do.

      “What happens if someone falls short of the norm? If someone is born blind, don't we teach them to use a cane, seeing eye dog and/or read braille? Is it wrong to help these "imperfect" people function as "normally/naturally" as possible?”

      We should, but not by considering blindness the same as being able to see. With those who have homosexual desires, we should encourage them to not act on those desires. In some cases marriage (understood as a heterosexual union) works out, so they might be encouraged to give that serious consideration.

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    3. “If a man marries a woman and has five sons and his wife dies, are the six remaining men still worthy of being called a family? Can two men or two women raise a child?”

      They are a family, since a family is more than a marriage, which has ended The paternal-son, and brotherly bonds still exist.

      As to your second question, it is somewhat vague - Which two men? Under what circumstances? So I’ll give general principles that can guide one’s answer. First, there children have string rights to be raised by their biologic parents; thus, there is a strong presumption that biologic parents will raise them. Also, one should keep in mind that when it comes to raising children, children come first. (Mirror image of that is that in being raised, one’s parents come first.) This is relevant since children fare best when raised by a father and mother who are in a committed relationship (i.e. marriage) with each other, best if these are their biologic parents. Therefore there is a strong presumption that one be raised by heterosexual couple.

      Should a gay couple be allowed to adopt? Morally, I’d say almost certainly not. Legally, perhaps – but this is not something adoption agencies should be required to cater to.

      “And we should remember that Paul's hangups relative to human sexuality were not necessarily God's hangups.”

      I see no reason to say that. For example, he basis his judgment on homosexual acts on the nature of the created order, specifically the creation of mankind.

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  11. My grandchildren are in house today, I'll respond tomorrow evening. Thanks for your patience.

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  12. Hello Jensen,
    The grandchildren are sleeping so I have a few minutes to write. I agree with you about the value of conversing with those with whom we disagree. While a conversation with someone who agrees with you may stroke your ego, it will most likely not offer much in the way of intellectual stimulation or growth. Even if this kind of conversation doesn’t change anyone’s mind, it still has the potential to modify views, help us to understand and respect different perspectives and/or sharpen/reinforce our existing views.
    Having said all of that, I still believe your pedophilia example is flawed. By definition, this involves sexual feelings/attraction of a mature individual for a child. Doesn’t nature itself teach us that the natural role for the mature/adult phase of most members of the animal kingdom (especially the higher forms) for the young or immature members of their species is one of nurturing? And, even if we were to allow that the development of this type of attraction fits my definition of natural, we are still left with the fact that the nature of this type of relationship excludes the possibility of mutual consent and enjoyment.
    In previous comments, you referenced the article “What Is Marriage?” by Girgis, George and Anderson. Although I find most of their arguments lacking, I agree with them about the essential nature of defining exactly what constitutes a legitimate marriage to this discussion.
    They attempt to simplify this by reducing our choices to two competing views of marriage. They describe one as the “conjugal” view (“a permanent and exclusive commitment” between a man and a woman for “bearing and rearing children together.”), and the “revisionist” view (a “union of two people…who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other” and agree to share “the burdens and benefits of domestic life.”). For the sake of argument, I understand the impulse to simplify things, but really?
    Girgis, George and Anderson go on to tell us that the traditional or “conjugal” view of marriage does not require any appeal to religious authority. They say that the almost universal nature of the institution among different cultures/religions demonstrates this fact.
    For the sake of our discussion, let us assume that they are referring to the male/female component of these marriages (after all, we all recognize a wide diversity of beliefs, forms, customs, ceremonies and laws associated with marriages around the world – indeed, I don’t think that anyone would gainsay the assertion that there is quite a diversity even within the realm of Christendom). The inevitable conclusion is still that marriage is a very human institution.
    After all, most of us are familiar with the concept of civil marriages. For whatever reasons (and there are many), each state/country has decided that they have an interest in providing for and regulating this institution. We all know that there are laws, licenses and public officials available to perform civil marriages – a church or religion need never enter the picture. And, since that is the case, these states have the ability and authority within their systems (under their charters, constitutions and laws) to define marriage in whatever way they deem appropriate. Hence, the state is free to define marriage as being between two members of the opposite sex or two members of the same sex. The state can say that polygamy is an acceptable practice (some do).

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  13. If we appeal to the Judeo-Christian Bible for our definition of marriage, the picture becomes even cloudier. After all, from Genesis to Revelation, you CANNOT find ANY instructions about how to perform a marriage. Moreover, according to those same Scriptures, two people are married when they 1) leave their parents’ and 2) decide to cohabitate with each other and 3) have sexual intercourse. And, while there is a great deal of discussion about arranged marriages and polygamy within the pages of the book, there are also a good many passages which inform us that God intended for marriage to be a lifelong and an exclusive arrangement between the two parties to the covenant. Hence, if we are appealing to Scripture, it would appear that a great many heterosexuals who think they are married ARE NOT; and a large number of individuals who think they aren’t married ARE in God’s sight married!
    Now Girgis, George and Anderson contend that a legitimate marriage involves 1) a “comprehensive” union of the spouses, 2) a “special” link to children, and 3) the norms of permanence, monogamy and exclusivity. Why is this definition not applicable to homosexuals? They say that “two men or two women cannot achieve organic bodily union since there is no bodily good or function toward which their bodies can coordinate, reproduction being the only candidate.” Really?
    Pleasure, relaxation (the release of tension), the release of bodily fluids and stimulation of the production of hormones and other substances do no bodily good? And these things don’t require any coordination of their bodies? Not to mention the psychological and emotional needs which might be fulfilled by the act! Reproduction is the only candidate? I don’t think so.
    They go on to state: “Indeed, in the common law tradition, only coitus (not anal or oral sex – even between legally wed spouses) has been recognized as consummating a marriage.” I guess Bill Clinton was right – he didn’t have sex with that woman! I say again: A good many heterosexuals engage in these intimate behaviors. Are we to regard these behaviors as inappropriate or harmless fun between friends. You can’t have it both ways! OR do they constitute legitimate components of what we call sexual intercourse?
    Moreover, who’s to say that homosexuals do not contribute to the reproduction of the species? Is it possible that homosexuals help to prevent over population? Is it possible that homosexual couples are providing loving and nurturing homes for children who would not have that kind of experience otherwise?
    Finally, if we allow that homosexuals are capable of love, commitment, fidelity and nurturing and providing for children, then what are the legitimate grounds for excluding them from participating in this institution. If society does have an interest in promoting this institution (and I think it does), then I fail to see any reasonable grounds for excluding a whole group of people from being married. And, once again, the success or failure of heterosexuals with the institution is fundamentally immaterial to the question of making it available to homosexuals.

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    1. HI Miller,
      “Having said all of that, I still believe your pedophilia example is flawed.”

      Perhaps you’re not seeing what I intend by using it. My point in bringing up this example is not that homosexuality is wrong (though, that is my larger point), but that merely because a desire or attraction is induced by one’s biology or early environment doesn’t thereby mean it is natural. To put it another way, what is “natural” (in your sense of the word) is not thereby permissible to act upon. From this fact alone it doesn’t follow that homosexual acts are wrong. They are, but that requires further argument.

      “They attempt to simplify this by reducing our choices to two competing views of marriage.”

      I think they’re right that there are only two kinds of views on marriage. Either it has an essential relationship to procreation and childrearing, or it is merely an emotional union that is perhaps (accidentally) associated with procreation and child-rearing in some cases. I prefer the former view, since it makes sense of Scripture and the martial norms that can be, even if not perfectly, discerned by reason alone. (More on this presently.)

      “The inevitable conclusion is still that marriage is a very human institution.”

      Agreed. But nothing of import for our conversation follows from this. Marriage is a very human institution, but it is also more than a human institution. It never exists in the abstract, but always in this or that way, with these customs with it, and these ceremonies along with it. Sometimes it is not as well instantiated, other times it is. But this doesn’t mean that marriage is not essentially heterosexual or dyadic, for example.

      “Hence, the state is free to define marriage as being between two members of the opposite sex or two members of the same sex. The state can say that polygamy is an acceptable practice (some do).”

      Schools are free to give trophies to losers as well as winners. This might superficially mask the difference between winning and losing, though, players will find other ways to acknowledge proficiency and excellence and sports or academics; it can’t dissolve the difference between the two. Likewise the state can refer to actual marriage and pseudo-marital unions by the same word – “marriage” – but that doesn’t make them on par.

      “If we appeal to the Judeo-Christian Bible for our definition of marriage, the picture becomes even cloudier. . . . Hence, if we are appealing to Scripture, it would appear that a great many heterosexuals who think they are married ARE NOT; and a large number of individuals who think they aren’t married ARE in God’s sight married!”

      There isn’t the confusion that you see in Scripture. Its essentially heterosexual character is never denied, but always affirmed (in large part as something that follows from the created order, that is, how mankind is made). Even it’s essentially dyadic character is never denied, even if the martial norm of sexual exclusivity was only partially emphasized and (for a while) demanded.

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    2. Can you specify what you mean by ‘some who think they are married . . .’ and ‘some who think they are not married . . .’?

      “Now Girgis, George and Anderson contend that a legitimate marriage involves 1) a “comprehensive” union of the spouses, 2) a “special” link to children, and 3) the norms of permanence, monogamy and exclusivity. Why is this definition not applicable to homosexuals? They say that “two men or two women cannot achieve organic bodily union since there is no bodily good or function toward which their bodies can coordinate, reproduction being the only candidate.” Really?”

      They deduce (1) from (2) and they deduce (2) from (3). As I said, these marital norms are only intelligible if marriage has an essential orientation for procreation and childrearing, which means that it is essentially heterosexual and dyadic. Now, you’ve not explained how these marital norms are intelligible on your view of marriage. In fact, you can’t, since they don’t follow if marriage is just an emotional union, which is all it will be on your view.

      As to your suggestion concerning pleasure, I think they do a good job refuting the idea that pleasure can be the good which unites man and woman (or man and man, etc.) in a comprehensive bodily union. First, pleasure is not, strictly speaking, a good. It is, at best, a proper accident of a good; that is, something which ought to flow from doing a good or being good. One can pursue pleasure in vile ways, and so, like fame, honor, or money, it is not itself a good.

      Second, there is no such thing as pleasure; there are, rather, pleasures. Bodily pleasure is one thing, emotional pleasure another, intellectual pleasure yet another. In fact, these can come in various kinds as well. So, there is not one thing toward which two men’s bodies can work toward in, say, anal sex. One might be experiencing pleasure, and the other might be as well; but they are not experiencing the self-same pleasure, even if they’re experiencing pleasure at the same time.

      Ignoring this for the moment, we also find that their bodies are at best only accidentally and extrinsically ordered toward pleasure. (For comparison’s sake, a clock’s time-telling function is only the product of an accidental (in the technical sense, that is, meaning non-essential) arrangement of the parts of the clock, and an external decision to view its actions as telling time. The same can be said of computers as well.) However, in coitus, the man and woman’s bodies are used in a way consistent with their essential and intrinsic ordering. That is, a man’s reproductive organs and a woman’s reproductive organs “point to” procreation by their nature.

      And procreation is a good. Moreover, in coitus, both partner’s sexual organs are being employed in a way so that they function toward the self-same act of procreation. (And in doing so, they function very much like the way one’s own organs function toward the good of the whole body, hence the saying “and the two become one flesh”.)

      Thus, Girgis, George and Anderson are right in saying that bodily unity is only possible between man and woman, and why Francis Beckwith is right in noting that only a kind of geometric union is possible between two men or between two women.

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    4. “Moreover, who’s to say that homosexuals do not contribute to the reproduction of the species? Is it possible that homosexuals help to prevent over population?”

      What do you mean by “contribute”; I think you’re being vague or are equivocating here. (Perhaps you can clarify what you mean here.) If you want to say that they indirectly help others to procreate and have children, since they prevent overpopulation which keeps the world running smoothly, which enables others to have children later, that is not of much significance. It doesn’t follow from this that marriage is not essentially heterosexual.

      “Is it possible that homosexual couples are providing loving and nurturing homes for children who would not have that kind of experience otherwise?”

      Sure, but statistically speaking there is good evidence that shows that heterosexual couples who are in a committed relationship do a better job raising children. One might as well say that homosexual couples who adopt are depriving children of being raised in a better environment they otherwise might have received. And even if they can raise children, there is no reason to think that they must be or can thereby be married. For example, if a woman’s husband dies, she might have her sister help her raise her children, but they are not thereby married, nor could they be.


      “Finally, if we allow that homosexuals are capable of love, commitment, fidelity and nurturing and providing for children, then what are the legitimate grounds for excluding them from participating in this institution.”

      Because homosexual unions just don’t have what it takes to be a marriage. Those features which they have are either accidental to marriage, or are necessary but not sufficient to have a marriage. None of the marital norms make sense if gay people can marry, since marriage would be removed from the only basis that makes those norms intelligible. It would be a mere emotional union, ultimately, but nothing about this entails that marriage is only dyadic, or that it should be permanent, or that one should be sexually exclusive with one’s spouse.

      I also want to note that two men are not infertile in the sense of suffering a privation. Rather they are “infertile” in the sense of a negation. By way of comparison, a cat that can’t meow is suffering from a privation. The developed capacity to meow should, by its nature, be there. A frog that can’t meow is not suffering a privation of what, by its nature, should be there. Rather meowing is something that it doesn’t possess precisely because of its nature as a frog; hence the developed ability to meow is a negation. However, a man and woman who are married and who are infertile suffer a privation, not a negation. Moreover, their sexual organs can still function toward the same biologic good as futile couple’s can, even if something ultimately prevents the realization of that good. (For comparison’s sake, even if I have some illness which prevents me from taking in much nutrients or any, when I eat and my stomach dissolve food and so on, they are still acting toward the good of the whole body, even if they are somehow unable to realize their goal of nourishing the body.)

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    5. For some reason, one of your comments appeared twice, and I had to go back and delete the duplicate after reading them. I have to work today, so I'll respond later this evening or tomorrow.

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  14. My responses are recorded in a new post on this blog:
    http://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-bloomington-statement-revisited.html

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