Long term readers of this blog may recall the scandal that involved feedback repeatedly disappearing from Baptist News Global some years ago.
Today I found that the same has happened at the Miami Herald. I’d posted a facebook comment below this article, adding feedback that had been left by others. My full message and wording were, as best I can recall;
Im surprised to see Matthew Vines cited as an authority. He’s been widely refuted.
24 hours or so later, Facebook notified me that someone had replied to my comment –
So I clicked to see what Luis had written. But the page reported –
As was the case at Baptist News, not only was my comment gone, but all comments were gone. USA used to be the land of the free. Free press, free speech. Not any more. It’s now the land of deleted speech.
Plato’s Symposium is notable for it’s ancient references to sexual and romantic relations between males, including the practice of pederasty. But towards the end, you get the impression that some of the seduction is basically between male equals. As such, it dispels some urban myths about sexuality around 400 BC. Here is my summary of Symposium, based on my reading of a translation by ‘Benardete’.
Symposium is a piece of fiction, written by the famous Plato. Or is it fiction? A central character within it, is ‘Socrates’ who is portrayed as a mighty philosopher. Sounds like non-fiction there, since Plato knew the famous Socrates. It’s written in the voice of one Appollodous, and centers around him reminiscing about a party that he didnt actually attend himself, but which he heard about from others. At the party, attendees decide to speak odes to the god Eros, and this is basically the theme of Symposium. These lengthy, poetic, meandering and sometimes cryptic screeds are described in the text as being “erotic speeches” (though not using the definitions of ‘erotic’ tham Im accustomed to), and long sections of these are recounted apparently verbatum. Elements of Symposium relevant to homoerotic and homo-romantic relations are as follows.
The sentiments expressed (eg p. 265), seem quite different from what you would read in Scripture – this work is clearly not from a devoted follower of Yahweh, yet there is evidence of monotheism at (p. 274) and polytheism at other points (p. 278) and even nature worship (p. 283).
The dating of Symposium puts the author in his mid 40s to late 50s. Appollodous and other characters in the text refer to their contemporaries at the party, at times as boys (p. 234, 275), and at other times as men (p. 276, 277, 283), and they are easily interpreted to be mature men. At the latter part of the party, they consume alcohol. At another point a distinction is made between men and lads (p. 278). On p. 281, it’s said that there are “house servants” present, which might complicate our understanding, if those servants were boys.
On p. 240, it’s suggested that warriors who are also lovers, are better at their job. The speaker doesnt specify whether he’s referring to gay or straight lovers. Then on p. 241, a specific reference is made to homosexuality, with one partner being described as “far younger” than the other. This section also has a reference to the Lliad. Also notable is the use of the term ‘uranian’ (p. 242), which translates to queer in my understanding, but not necessarily so at the time. Also on p. 242, there is seemingly a specific reference to pederasty along with a comment about only being concerned with the act, irrespective of whether it’s noble. This page also refers to a kinda bisexual orientation, under the banner of the ‘Pandemus’ god and then this is contrasted on the next page, with an orientation towards pederasty only, under the banner of the ‘Uranian’ god. Questions about whether ‘pederasty’ is a reasonable translation, are put to rest, when on P. 243, they talk of boys who begin to grow beards. However, such relationships are presented as possibly life-long, and presented in contrast to fleeting ‘Pandemus’ relationships (also p. 245).
Thought is expressed about whether pederastic relationships are improper or not, and whether they should be bound by laws to discourage impropriety. Then they note on p 243 that pederasty is shameful in some locations but not in others such as Athens. It seems that those present at the party, are all inclined to pederasty, given that at times, the term ‘lover’ is simply used to denote a boy as a lover for the males present.
P. 246 says a relationship undertaken for the sake of acquiring riches is not noble. IE prostitution would not be noble. But a relationship undertaken for the sake of virtue, is portrayed as good. On p, 247 it says “it is a fine thing to gratify those who are good among human beings and disgraceful to gratify the intemperate”. Then on p. 249 “the love of the decent must be preserved. And this love is the beautiful one, the Uranian”.
Then on p. 251, Aristophanes describes androgynous human beings which he refers to as a ‘race’ where each body was basically 2 people, seemingly a male and a female. He says this ‘race’ has ceased to exist, and are now only remembered as a term of ill repute. But he says manipulation by the gods resulted in this ‘race’ being transformed into other beings including women who “hardly pay attention to men but are rather turned towards women, and lesbians arise from this genus.” I wish I could quote p. 253 basically in full, for what it says about love between men. It says that boys that go after men, do it not out of shamelessness, but out of boldness. I think the same can be said today. The author says that such boys mature into the only men who enter politics. And says that they become pederasts who pay no attention to marriage and procreation, other than as per the law forces them to. He says they would be content to live unmarried with one another. He portrays pederasts as being “wondrously struck with friendship, attachment, and love, and are just about unwilling to be apart from one another even for a short time. And here you have those who continue through life with one another …”
Interestingly, on p. 257, Agathon goes to lengths to describe Eros as moderate. This contradicts sources outside of Symposium which refer to homosexuality as an excess. In fact on this page, Agathon attributes to Eros justice, moderation and being courageous, and then on the next page, fairness, peace, goodness and much more. In fact Agathon’s report of Eros is so glowing that he says that since Eros arose, “all good things have resulted … from loving the beautiful things.” Though there is perhaps a cold Darwinian-type streak evident when he also says that there is no Eros present in ugliness (p. 258 etc). Agathon finishes his speech by saying it was spoken partially in playfulness, but the others applaud it enthusiastically (p. 259).
Socrates then contrasts this by citing someone who claims that Eros is not a god but rather his nature is part way between god and mortal; a being that they refer to as a daemon rather than a god (p. 264). There is mention of boys again on p. 273, in the midst of Socretes speech that argues that the beauty of the soul is more honourable than the beauty of the body. His speech also makes reference to those who come to such a perspective “through the correct practice of pederasty”! Then on p. 274 he talks of the beauty of boys; “… not to be compared to gold and garments and beautiful boys and youths at whose sight you are now thunderstruck”! (that last word is repeated on p. 278, associated with great emotion). And soon after on p. 274 he talks of a desire to simply ‘behold’ a loved male; “And you and many others are prepared in seeing the beloved and always being with him, neither to eat nor drink, if it were somehow possible, but only to behold him and be with him.” This contradicts those who say that male-male relationships at the time were only abusive.
Then on p. 275, Alcibiades exclaims that Heracles has positioned himself “beside the most beautiful of those in this room.” An interesting comment given that it seems that there are only males in the room. And later (p. 285/6) we again see conflict about lying next to males. Socrates replies, saying that he loves him (though he speaks of lovers plural) and seems to accuse him of jealousy. On p. 279/280, Alcibiades talks of his own youthful beauty and indicates he thinks that Socrates appreciates that beauty and would speak to him like a lover. But Socrates didnt. So Alcibiades stripped, and convinced Socrates to do likewise, and they wrestled (p. 280), but he says it came to nothing. Then Alcibiades invited Socrates to dine with him, and then sleep in the bed next to his. It’s all sounding like an attempt at seduction. Then on p. 281 he tells Socrates that he is “the only deserving lover” of his, and recommends that he ‘gratify’ Socrates. Alcibiades even climbs in Socrates’ bed. But he says this too came to nothing, as if sleeping with a close relative. He writes with great admiration of Socrates, noting that Socrates is very self-controlled and moderate (p. 282) and lists several other males (their gender identified by his reference to them as sons of others) who misperceived Socrates as a potential lover for themselves. On p. 285 the narrator says “… it was thought that he [Alcibiades] was still erotically inclined toward Socrates.”
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 –