This is a review of the 2018 booklet This I Know: A Simple Biblical Defense for LGBTQ Christians, by Jim Dant.
This booklet is a short collection of a little over a dozen arguments, regarding whether from a Christian perspective, things LGBTQ are good or bad. Each argument is basically presented as a chapter of the booklet, with titles such as “Leviticus says it’s an Abomination” and “Sodom and Gomorrah” and “Jesus Defined Marriage as One Woman and One Man”. The author examines each of these arguments one by one, seeking to refute them. I read the Kindle edition, which is dated 2018. It’s written by a Dr Jim Dant, who according to the Foreword, is senior minister of The First Baptist Church of Greenville, South Carolina. Google reveals that this church has been in the news a lot for being inconsistent with traditional Baptist beliefs.
The booklet is rather superficial and Dant readily concedes this. In the introduction, he proudly explains that his priority was for the reasoning to be easily accessible and quotable rather than highbrow or academic with many footnotes. He emphasises –
“If you find these words and arguments overstated and/or oversimplified, good. Mission accomplished. Again, this is not an exhaustive theological explanation.”
But the booklet’s brevity means that often his claims are unsubstantiated. And that is perhaps the booklet’s primary flaw; the fallacy of an appeal to authority. Perhaps he’s expecting the reader to simply trust him, on the basis that he’s a pastor apparently with a doctorate. EG in his first chapter, which is about Leviticus 18:22, he makes the obscure claim that “This verse refers to treating another person like property.” But how do we know whether this claim is valid? We dont. Dant simply expects us to trust him, while he makes apparently wild unsubstantiated claims.
But even before the reader gets to chapter 1, we can already see reason not to trust the author. We see him refer to discussion and debate about the topic, as a ‘fight’ where the Bible is used as a ‘weapon’. That’s not a balanced representation of the situation. Arent most Christians simply trying to follow God in a way that makes sense to them? What has that got to do with using the Bible as a ‘weapon’? Dant is using strawman rhetoric, and that’s a logical fallacy.
And the simplistic approach of the booklet is again noticeable further into the Introduction. The author writes –
“I want my LGBTQ brothers and sisters to know Jesus loves them and the Bible says no different. There is no valid, Christian, biblical argument against same-sex relationships between consenting adults”
It’s as though he feels that the first sentence means that the next sentence is a foregone conclusion. Does such thinking imply that God doesn’t love criminals, or anyone who doesnt follow God’s ways? I thought God loves everyone, but doesn’t approve of all actions. Dant’s impied idea that God doesnt love people, seems crazy.
Here the author examines Genesis 2, where Eve is created, which ends Adam’s loneliness. The author argues that –
“The creation story of Genesis refers to humanity’s need for companionship and God’s care for that need. It was never intended to establish heterosexual parameters for marriage.”
Well says who, Dr? Woud Jesus agree? I notice that Jesus said in Matthew 19 (NIV) –
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?
To me, it seems that Jesus and Dr Dent are in disagreement on that.
The author examines Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:10 all at once to challenge the notion that “Paul said that homosexuality is a sin”. He summarises that “Paul is writing about rape, pedophilia, and temple prostitution—all nonconsensual sexual relations between a lesser and a greater power. I’m against those things too. Paul is not writing about consensual, healthy relationships between adults.”
But is that what Paul was writing about? In the last example, 1 Timothy 1 (NIV), Paul says
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
How is that about homosexual “rape, pedophilia or temple prostitution”? There is no apparent reason to conclude that it is. What about one of the other verses he cited, 1 Corinthians 6 (NIV) –
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Any reason to understand that reference to homosexual practise, as being about “rape, pedophilia or temple prostitution”? Not that I can see. Dr Dant basically claims that popular Bibles such as Ive quoted from above, are not well translated, and that he knows better about how to translate the relevant original Greek words. He claims that the Greek word ‘arsenokoites’ that is often translated as ‘homosexual’ should not be translated that way. He even says –
In fact, the word appears over 70 times in Greek manuscripts outside the New Testament, and in those manuscripts it never—not once—refers to homosexuality.
Sounds like a compelling comment at first! But it’s basically contradicted by experts such as Dr Robert Gagnon, here and by others, eg here. And unlike Dant, these guys provide examples and references.
Dant is saying that if he wrote a translation of the Bible, he woudnt have used a word like ‘homosexual’. But how likely is it that this man knows better than the professional Bible translators? Unlikely, Id say. When I Google Dr Dant, I find various bio’s about him, but none claim that he’s a foremost authority on Bible translation.
The author challenges the notion that “You cannot be Christian if you are a practicing homosexual because you have not repented of your sin.” He summarises “One, I do not believe that ‘being who God created me to be’ is a sin. …”
What? Isnt it a fundamental tenet of the New Testament that Christians are supposed to resist various natural inclinations? Yes it is! The New Testament teaches that Christians should NOT live in line with the say we were created, with our natural tendencies to lust, be lazy, jealous etc!
And he writes that even if practising homosexuality “was a sin, my present relationship with God and my future with God are a product of my faith in the grace of God. My relationship with God is not dependent upon my works.” Then he expands on this, writing “the idea that anything must be done—some work or act—in order to earn a relationship with God is completely contrary to the New Testament. Protestant Christianity overwhelmingly affirms this. Almost every Christian preacher proclaims this. We are saved by grace through faith, not works!” And “The evangelical Christian community has consistently preached salvation by grace alone, but they seem to have found an exception for the LGBTQ community.”
But although it’s true that the Bible and Christianity teach that salvation comes by faith and not by actions, the Bible and Christianity also teach that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17). IE simply mentally believing in God, isnt enough. Someone who doesnt accompany their mental faith, with actions, including going to church, and acting in love, isnt really a true Christian. Dr Dant shows that he knows this, when he contradicts himself later in the booklet, in Part II of it, when he cites 1 John and writes –
“The merciless rejection of LGBTQ persons may impede access to our heavenly abode.”!!
Huh? Didnt he write earlier in the booklet that “My relationship with God is not dependent upon my works”? Yes he did. So contradictory.
Grace Billings United Methodist Church of Montana, hit the news in February after fliers were found there that portrayed LGBT people in an unfavorable light, and when the church was defaced with graffitti.
Spraying graffitti on a church is clearly an unchristian thing to do, and the wording on the fliers was also unchristian. But the reponse of this church to me, has been unchristian too.
They posted a photo of the fliers, on their facebook page –
As you can see, the fliers offered some statistics about the sexually tansmitted diseases etc that are experienced by homosexuals. Many people replied with commented on the page, in response, and a few of those comments suggested that the statistics were wildly false. EG
So I googled some of the statistics and replied citing authorities that agreed with some of the numbers on the fliers.
I posted a link to this CDC page, about Syphilis; https://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/default.htm
You might notice that the CDC page states that –
And a link to this page about anal cancer; http://news.ufl.edu/articles/2017/09/how-the-anal-cancer-epidemic-in-gay-and-bi-hiv-positive-men-can-be-prevented.php
That link shows the following graph-
But all but one of my comments with links were removed. I discovered this when I recieved the following notifications.
The comments that suggest the stats are lies, and that anal cancer is a myth, are still there though. Isnt the church supposed to support truth?
Certain key people repeatedly pop up in the news in relation to gay issues, and they are often presented as largely unbiased. Im thinking of people such as…
- Stan Mitchell, as per here: http://time.com/3687368/gracepointe-church-nashville-marriage-equality/ (contrasted with the image below from approx new year, 2018) –
- David Gushee, who has a lesbian sister, though journalists and David dont often mention that.
- James Brownson, who has a gay son
Recently the Australian government ran a national survey, asking citizens whether they wanted the law changed to recognize same-sex marriage. Britain’s BBC used the occasion to publish an article commemorating an earlier change of Australian law, when homosexual practise was decriminalized in the 1970s and 80s. This is the article, here.
Something that caught my attention in this article, was how it refers to an Australian riverside area which in the 1970s, was “a well-known meeting spot for gay people.” It was a spot where 2 men, reputed to be gay, were beaten up around 11pm one night, resulting in the death of one of them. The article further describes the spot as “out of sight from homes north of the river and riverside paths were deserted at night.”
“a well-known meeting spot for gay people”, it says. “out of sight” it says. Where you would even find men hanging around at 11pm at night? Anyone who knows gay culture, knows that such a spot would be a place where gay men would have sex. After dark, sex would be a primary activity. We know this in part, from the reports of others in Australia, eg here and here and here and in particular, here. But the BBC, that world-recognized leading light of journalism, wanted to sanitize their report by not raising this. I wonder why.
A video continues to circulate, featuring Pastor Stan Mitchell, of the Nashville’s GracePointe Church, where talks of deciding that engaging in homosexual relations is not inherently sinful.
What the video does not reveal, is that after his change of heart from an orthodox understanding of sexual sin, and the publicity at the time, his church crumbled dramatically. Details can be found here –
In recent times several high-profile Christian women in the UK have announced that they were simply unable to continue denying their lesbian temptations. They have said that resisting the temptations, was leading to their own destruction, via poor mental health. And they have claimed that their eventual decision to surrender to lesbian temptation, was essentially a choice to live, rather than follow a path to death.
So I found it interesting when I found the case of a man who basically said he felt the same way, when trying to be monogamous. His name is Andrew Mashiko and his story is detailed here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-25/open-relationships-is-one-romantic-partner-enough-for-you/9034330
How many others claim that that they cant cope with living a sexual lifestyle that’s compatible with New Testament scripture?