The central theme to this 2016 book, is how the author wanted to feel in “alignment”. He tends to use this term to refer to the tension between how his heart felt that any exclusion of gay people was wrong, while this initially contradicted what his head told him, based on Scripture. Basically, the book records his journey, from supposed lack of alignment between his head and heart, through to reinterpreting Scripture to align with his heart. He argues that it’s healthy to be in alignment, but seems to not see that his new-found alignment with his heart, takes him out of alignment with God, as per Jeremiah 17:9.
The author (left in the picture here, with his wife) describes himself as “a straight, white, formerly conservative evangelical pastor … who now leads a progressive (sic) Christian church” (p. XVI). The book is kinda two books entwined into one, with the even numbered chapters of the book focusing on theology and the odd numbered chapters being a chronology of key points in his life when he responded to things GLBT. The even chapters are very much theological rhetoric as the author focuses on one or two verses at a time, attempting to make a case that the Bible does not oppose homosexual practice. The odd chapters, detailing his timeline, are tinged with loss much of the time, as he details how his unorthodox theology cost him his house and job as pastor at one point, only to then loose the next job as pastor, too. He opens chapter 7, by remarking that he expected that his newfound “alignment” would make him feel better, but instead he felt demoralized and like he was going to the dentist. He spent 2 months not going to church or praying. He even had a tantrum with tears. But “I’d sought integrity” he cries. Not Scriptural integrity though, sadly.
The author says he stands behind 2 Tim. 3:16-17 that all Scripture is God breathed, but he claims that it’s been misinterpreted by traditional Christians. In many ways this book is a product of its time. Martin is obviously a bit of a reader, and he indicates that he draws his doctrines from (liberal) sources such as Brian McLaren, Matthew Vines and even video productions such as For The Bible Tells Me So. The rear cover includes a review by the notorious Rob Bell.
Like Vines, Martin’s overall logic is flawed. IE he writes in chapter 10 “…Im convinced that it is impossible to argue that the Bible … divinely prohibits two people of the same sex from experiencing a loving … relationship.” And we know from elsewhere in the Book that this includes a sexual relationship between them. Yet Martin fails to substantiate that conclusion, even though he tries to. Like Vines, the formula for his logic seems to be “maybe + maybe = definitely”. He tries to undermine the readers’ confidence in popular translations of the Bible, telling them that experts dont know the meaning of particular words in the original languages, and that we cant know that certain terms refer to
homosexuality, despite popular Bible translations being translated that way. Yet he then builds on these claims of uncertainty, to argue that although we dont entirely know what the original words mean, we can conclude that they dont refer to loving forms of homosexuality. Huh? We cant be certain what they mean, yet we can be certain they dont refer to something in particular? You cant have it both ways, Mr.. Do we know what they mean, or dont we? If we partially know what they mean, how can we be certain what they dont mean? You cant build a case for certainty, from an argument of uncertainty. In chapter 8, he admits; “I invite you to read this chapter and expect that some parts of it might feel like a stretch to you. Some parts might feel uncomfortable or absurd, and you may be tempted to check out.” Yes indeed, some of his claims do sound like quite a stretch.
The author doesnt like ignoring Scripture, but he does seem comfortable with explaining certain passages away, if he doesnt like them. When envisioning establishing a new church, in chapter 9, Martin’s liberal side is revealed as he asks many (often leftist) questions, including “What would it look like to create a church that was uniquely Christian, but not exclusively? Where we … dont pretend that Christianity is the sole arbiter of truth …?” Crumbs. In reminiscing about the decision to found a church, he writes of a desire “to provide a space where people can connect in meaningful ways that will lead them to love, life and peace. This is what our life must be about, investing in relationships, in people.” Yes, investing in God, seems to be a lesser motivation for him these days.
Some of Martin’s arguments are the standard ones promoted by gay activists, such as taking an approach of obfuscation for Greek terms used in the New Testament. But other arguments that Martin employs, seem to me to be fairly obscure, for example his examination of Hebrew phrasing in Leviticus. Although Martin seeks to explain his reasoning, in some cases the reader lacks sufficient detail from Martin, or lacks the resources to judge the validity of argument. And so in those cases, ultimately the reader has little choice but to choose whether to trust Martin, in terms of believing whether his argument is sound. At other points, Martin makes claims that seem somewhat unsubstantiated, such as in chapter 10, when he claims that St Paul wrote of “activities like keeping young boys as sex slaves …” (p. 165).
At several points, it seemed to me that he simply omitted key arguments that run counter to his preferred conclusions. EG I didnt notice him raise the heteronormativity of Genesis 2. And when discussing Sodom & Gomorrah, I didnt notice him reference Jude 7. If you are going to write an entire book about this subject, I think it’s poor form to exclude such relevant scriptures. In chapter 6, Martin writes that “Some scholars maintain that Leviticus applied only to men of the priestly tribe of Levi. Other scholars maintain that these Clobber Passages applied only to Jewish men living in the Holy Land.” But Martin fails to point out that other scholars believe that Leviticus applied to all.
At times, Martin employs exaggeration and rhetoric rather than sound reasoning, to make his case. When discussing Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, he writes “I cannot, in good conscience (or in good scholarship), see how these two verses, which were written to help a liberated group of slaves understand how they were to be a uniquely called-out nation in the world, can offer any words of condemnation against the GLBTQ community.” Maybe his interpretation is part of the problem. Condemnation was probably not the point. The main point was probably to dissuade people from engaging in homosexual relations. But notice how he frames the point of the laws, as being to help people understand. Really, Colby? The laws were to help people understand? No, even he doesnt really believe that is what Leviticus was all about. We know this because later in the chapter, he writes “Sure, Levitical Law did much to help humanity move forward in terms of raising human consciousness and creating a more just and generous world, …” In chapter 7, he writes of people who are considering that “they have misused the Bible to condemn an entire people-group, denying them access to the grace of God.” Denying them access? Yea, silly. But he footnotes this comment, writing “I use this phrase provocatively. I dont think its possible to “deny access to the grace of God.””. Oh so he writes things he doesnt mean? I see…
Another key flaw in the reasoning, in my opinion, is Martin’s claim that it’s anachronistic to use the term ‘homosexual’ in Scripture, because Martin says it’s a modern term based on modern understanding. His attitude on this is adamant, and he writes in chapter 10; “The words homosexuals and homosexuality have zero business being in the Bible.” This too is a common claim from gay activists. But it’s an overstatement. Logically, homosexual attraction has existed throughout history, as historical records attest, and a basic grasp of homosexual attraction is not beyond the average uneducated person. And to be consistent, given that modern marriage differs from Biblical times, is it anachronistic to use the word ‘marriage’ in Scripture? And what about the confusion between early American slavery, and slavery in Biblical times – does this mean the word ‘slavery’ shouldnt be in the Bible? My point is that yes there are nuances of difference in understanding between Biblical times and now, but contemporary words are still adequate to attempt to communicate what the Bible says, especially if footnotes are used. I think that to discard the term ‘homosexual’ is to obfuscate rather than clarify. Martin is right, when he points out that to say “homosexuality is sinful” is a claim that is open to various interpretations, and that some Bible translations have been sloppy in this regard. But it seems to me, that to follow his advice and to conclude that homosexual relationships are not sinful, is sloppy too – just in the opposite direction.
Additional material that illustrates Martin’s theology can be found at:
Are you tired of the homosexual propaganda that claims that it’s only “recently” that the church has regarded homosexual practice as sinful? EG
Me too. What about the line that it’s only “recently” (since the around 20th century) that humankind have a been able to grasp the concept of homosexuality, and that when the Bible was written they simply didnt understand it? Yep Im tired of that one too!
Those with a good appreciation for history are already aware of statements from church fathers such as Augustine (EG), which indicate that even in the early centuries AD, homosexual practice was still regarded as sinful. But details from that era, often amount to snippets and inferences , so when gay activists question even the definitions of words used, it can be easy to loose a sense of certainty.
So we are very lucky to have the following record available. That’s right; not just a sentence or two about homosexuality in centuries past, but numerous chapters written by a committed Christian, where homosexuality is a central theme.
It was written in the middle of the 11th century, by a senior Italian monk, as a letter to the pope. He wrote it in Latin, and it eventually came to be known by the Latin name Liber Gomorrhianus, which translates to English as the Book of Gomorrah. Others refer to it as “Letter 31” based on an index of the author’s various letters. The author came to be known as St. Peter Damian, though that name also varies in spelling and form, and is a variation of the name he had as a child. My source is the English translation by Matthew C. Hoffman, which was published as a 165 page-numbered book, copyrighted at 2015. Approximately half of Hoffman’s book is his introduction, bio of Damien and a translator’s preface and the latter half of Hoffman’s book is his English translation of Damien’s 27 chapters of Letter 31. Hoffman’s book is available here.
Hoffman indicates that he wrote such a big introduction partly in an effort to refute those who seek to downplay Damian’s writings (see pp 56-71). Hoffman states that Damien was well educated and notes on p. 37 “So great was [Damian’s] importance to Pope Alexander II that he declared that, after himself, Damian was “the highest authority within the Roman Church,”…
What I found interesting and valuable, are the indications that St Peter Damien in the 11th century, understood a fair amount about homosexuality. He perhaps understood it better than some today, who pride themselves on their modern (yet incorrect) understanding of homosexuality as being simply heterosexuality but between members of the same sex. Below is a listing of what I found to be interesting mentions by Damian (as translated by Hoffman) indexed using the page numbering in Hoffman’s book. NB the book frequently refers to ‘sodomy’, but as per pp. 7, 17-18, 48, note that this word is used with a broad definition that is not limited to anal copulation. NB also that the chapter delineations below appear to be Hoffman’s delineations.
So what was Damian’s understanding of sodomy? He writes –
– That its shameful to speak of it (p. 82)
– people “being soiled by fondling each others male parts , others fornicate between the thighs or in the rear…” (p. 83. Interestingly no mention of oral sex)
– of it being relevant to Sodom & Gomorrah (p. 86)
– of it being “not unworthily believed to be the worst of all offenses (p. 86)
– That Leviticus prescribed death for sex between males (p. 87)
– That a man having sex with another man between the thighs is regarded as feminine copulation (p. 88. More on p. 129)
– That those “having lain between masculine thighs in fornication” are guilty of a mortal sin (p. 88)
– That 1 Tim. 1:10 refers to males lying with males as against religious law (p. 90)
– That those who are top offenders should be expelled from the clergy (pp. 89-91)
– That the story of Sodom has links to Romans 1 (pp 92-93)
– That St Paul said that some dishonor their own bodies amongst themselves (p.92)
– That priests are obligated to pull their subjects into line in this area (p.96)
– That it seems to him to be more tolerable to have fallen into the disgrace of lust with an animal than with a man (p. 98)
– That the problem is perpetuated by sinners affirming (or perhaps just lacking condemnation of) others who commit the same sins, rather than the sinners confessing to “spiritual men” (pp 99-101)
– That for a man to lie with a monk, is comparable to a monk “making an attempt” on a nun (pp 101-102)
– NB he also uses vague language when talking of heterosexual sex (pp 101, 102, 103, 107)
– That sex between males is contrary to nature (p. 101, 117)
– That homosexuality may be regarded as an ‘excess’ (p. 101) More on p. 128.
– That homosexuality involves an “insanity of unrestrained lust” (p. 102)
– That sodomites of the day, spoke collaboratively, in their own defense (p. 108)
– He seems to say that sodomites claim that classic sodomy is anal (p, 109)
– He makes reference to “those who violate males in the rear” (p. 115)
– He seems to say that sodomy is to “be polluted either with animals or with males”. He talks of a “man being polluted with another man through the ardor of lust” (p. 117)
– He talks of sodomy as to “live irrationally”, against the order of human reason (pp 117-118)
– He says sodomites are explained as being “possessed by evil spirits (p. 118) and of a “diabolical impulse” being the cause for “when a man thrusts himself upon another man to commit impure acts …” (p. 118)
– Sadly, he does seem to conflate gender-agnostic pedophilia with more gay acts (p. 120)
– He indicates that those who corrupt in the rear or copulate between the thighs may also want to kiss etc, and that they may regard kissing as a lesser sin (the end of p. 121 suggests he was referring to homosexuals, despite the chapter beginning with a context of pedophilia)(p. 120)
– That this sin “violates sobriety, kills modesty, slays chastity.” (p. 122)
– That this sin “pollutes everything, and for itself permits nothing pure, nothing foreign to filth, nothing clean.” Woah!!! (p. 122)
– That “In order to sow impious wars against God, [sodomy] requires a militancy of the most wretched spirit” (p. 123)
– That “His flesh burns with the fury of lust, … while his is vexed by as many worries as his is tortured …” (the context also talks of punishment though) (p. 123)
– That “memory is removed, the sharpness of mind is obscured” (huh? p. 124)
– That it “… undermines fortitude, banishes temperance, and blunts the sharpness of prudence.” (p. 124)
– That it “expels every cornerstone of the virtues from the court of the human heart, it also … introduces every barbarity of the vices.” Woah! (P. 124) See more on p. 126.
– That “Whenever anyone falls into this abyss … he is exiled from the heavenly homeland … rejected from the fellowship of heavenly citizenry … forced now to bear … the torment of eternal damnation.” (pp 124-125. More on p. 144-145).
– Seemingly that the source of the problem is “lust” (p. 127).
– That turning to the “masculine sex” might be due to “the fury of lust” (p. 128)
– That turning to the “masculine sex” might be due to “the madness of excess” (p. 128)
– That (specified) 4-legged animals are not seen engaging in homosexual behaviour (p. 128)
– That those who engage in homosexuality are “emasculated” and “effeminate” (p. 129)
– That “the handling of masculine flesh delights” those who engage in homosexuality, though it shouldnt (p. 129)
– That homosexuals tend to not be mournful of their situation, but rather are ‘arrogant’ (p. 130) This is perhaps an ongoing theme across to p. 132, where Damian complains that the guilty priests do not seek to exit from priesthood, as they should (p. 132)
– That the problem involves a flow or semen (p. 132)
– That sodomites are displeasing to God, and held bound by “terrestrial desires” (p. 134)
– That people are angry with him and refuse to listen (p. 136).
– That people reject his words about “the nature of this mortal vice”, though it’s aligned with Scripture (p. 137)
– That sodomitic acts include “polluting only himself, or another by fondling him with his hands, or copulating between the thighs, or even violating him in the rear, ” (pp 141-142). NB Damien precedes this by saying that sodomy has 4 heads, so if these are the 4 heads, this implies that to him, ‘sodomy’ does not include other forms or combinations of sex/partners, eg anal sex with women.
– He implies that St Paul saw a link between the judgement of Sodom & Gomorrah, and judgement against sodomites in later times (p. 144)
– That Christ can return the sinner to the pinnacle from which unchaste flesh caused him to fall (p. 147)
– That it’s a “constant struggle against the flesh” that keeps you from surrendering to lust (p. 149)
– That a key motivator for those who fall, is the pleasure of ejaculation of semen (p. 149)
– He seemed to say that fasting can discipline the flesh, and that prayer helps too (p. 149)
– He refers to eunuchs as “soldiers of chastity”, and writes that “Indeed eunuchs are those who repress the insolent impulses of the flesh and cut away from themselves the performance of perverse acts.” (p. 150)
– That (as per Ezek. 3) he fears the wrath of God as punishment for silence, more than he fears his colleagues’ anger for ratting on them this way. (p. 154)
– That those who engage in the sin, are “enslaved” (p.158)
– That when a single person makes statements such as this, he can be regarded as prejudiced (p. 159)
– As per the early stages of the presentation (IE chapter 2) he closes the presentation by pointing to 4 types of vice; IE “Some pollute themselves, others are soiled by fondling each other’s male parts, others fornicate between the thighs or in the rear …” Thus we can conclude that those 4 are the overall theme of the presentation (p. 160)
Yep. As reported by several sources, including;
In 2013, Psychology Today published an article titled;
The author of the article, one Deborah Schurman-Kauflin Ph.D., claimed to have undertaken a study which backed the headline. The article has subsequently been cited by others (EG1, EG2) and used misleadingly by some (EG).
The title is not much of a revelation, to those who have heard of the classic 24-hour Vegas marriages of some straight couples. Yes there are gay relationships that last longer than that. So the headline itself is not news. What would be news is if the average gay relationship was found to be more stable than that average straight relationship.
The author does state some impressive numbers though, portraying gay relationships as better quality than straight relationships on a few levels. These are uncommon findings, as far as Im aware, and might be regarded as propaganda, in light of a broad picture that takes into consideration the contrasting data that exists (EG).
I wanted to find out more, and so I googled. I noticed that I cant find the study in the usual scholarly databases like http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov or university websites. And I get the impression that it hasnt been peer-reviewed. So I assume it’s not regarded as a scholarly study by those who specialise in this area. The author even concedes that “Since this was a convenience sample, the results could be affected by who was willing to respond.” IE the results could quite likely not be representative. I guess that’s why as far as I could see, the study is not mentioned in scholarly realms.
But were the data gathering and analysis otherwise balanced ? Unlike some studies, we are given little insight into this. Even the author’s own blog site doesnt share further details from the study, which seems to have happened 2 years prior to the magazine article. Age ranges or gender representation in her sample, are not provided. She just expects the reader to trust her. She says she interviewed a group that “consisted of gays and lesbians.” But if 90% of that group were lesbians, she will get a different outcome than if it’s 50/50. Details matter.
It’s not even easy to find out where she obtained her qualifications – her blog sites are silent on that mystery too (https://profiler1.wordpress.com/about/ ). And at the end of the article she makes statements that indicate bias, suggesting that her desire isnt simply to explore, but she appears to push an ideological barrow.
And is someone who writes articles such as “Ghosts and Spirits are Beneficial to Your Mental Health” (https://profiler1.wordpress.com/…/ghosts-spirits-can…/ ), going to use suitable scientific methodologies in her studies? Others have cast doubt on her analytical approach. Is this also why scholarly circles seem to have turned a blind eye to her findings ?
Certainly her findings warrant attention. But are her findings reliable? I dont know, but given the above problems, I have some doubts.
Christianity has always regarded elements of homosexuality to be sinful. But increasingly, people are asking what this actually means. This re-evaluation arises particularly given the increasingly popular recognition that those who experience same-sex attraction, tend not to actively seek to deviate from the norm of heterosexuality, but rather are driven by innate desires that they did not choose to begin with. In this line of thinking, the question arises of whether the Bible teaches that same-sex attracted people are simply born to be condemned by God.
In the 20th century, common Christian thinking on the issue, was that homosexuals should seek with God’s help to become heterosexuals, and that this change was indeed quite possible for any homosexual. IE that God would remove homosexual attraction and replace it with heterosexual attraction. But in now in the 21st century, knowledgable Christians recognise that most male homosexuals who seek to follow Christ, find that they never loose their same-sex attractions, no matter how much they implore God to help. But many English translations of the Bible state that homosexuals “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). So the question of whether the Bible teaches that same-sex attracted people are simply born to be condemned, is particularly important.
Here at this blog we do not believe that same-sex attracted people are simply born to be condemned. This is because we believe that when the Bible refers to homosexuals, it’s not referring to orientation, but rather to those who engage in sex between members of the same sex. IE a celibate person who is attracted to members of the same sex, is not necessarily sinning. But anyone (gay or straight) who has sex with someone of the same sex, is sinning.
This is further explored here: http://www.dtl.org/ethics/article/homosexuals.htm
A few months ago, I watched the multi-award-winning movie Spotlight. It’s a movie based on real events – basically how the Boston Globe, a newspaper, uncovered legal claims of pedophilia by over 70 priests in the Catholic Church in Boston, New York. When I first heard of the movie, I thought it would basically be an exercise in Catholiphobia. But after watching it, I decided it seemed like a reasonably balanced presentation, though I didnt really know enough background, to know for sure. Here’s the trailer –
Some have pointed out that the levels of pedophilia discovered, actually match those of the general population, and that the key horror was how the church covered up the abuse. A sad story, not matter how you look at it.
But more recently, Ive become aware of much frustration by some, about how “middle management”in the Catholic Church in the USA, also turns a blind eye to the sin of homosexual practise. By “middle management”, I mean priests and bishops. Because while official Catholic teaching from the Vatican, says that homosexual practise (IE basically having gay sex) is sinful, many priests and lay-members in USA, dont respect that teaching.
But here’s the bite. Has this permissive attitude in many Catholic churches towards homosexuality, related to the problems of pedophilia?
Some will shake their heads in disbelief at such a suggestion, and cry out that pedophilia is not the same thing as homosexuality. But I suggest that such a response points to a superficial understanding of sexuality. Because while it’s true that many homosexuals seek out partners of their own age, many a gay man is attracted to younger gay men. Males in their late teens and early 20s feature strongly in gay pornography that is consumed by gay men of all ages. Pornography that features males younger than that, is illegal, and is rarer, but still exists. The point at which a sexual partner is deemed as a child, meaning pedophile territory, is legal decision, that doesnt necessarily match a lower age limit of homosexual attraction.
While some people see the world in simple terms, EG comprised of heterosexuals and homosexuals, others point out that it’s not that simple, because some are in-between, IE bisexuals. And likewise, while it’s true that there are distinct groups of homosexuals and pedophiles, there are some in-between, which we might call pederasts. Yes folks, it’s not always a clear-cut world and the distinctions we see, are sometimes arbitrary.
But society does present distinctions. These days, society tends to group some sexual and gender identities together. Im thinking the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) grouping. Some like to include a Q, for queer, in that group. And queer people sometimes like to include prostitutes in their group too, though you basically never see a P in the acronym. And apparently in decades past, the group also included pedophiles, though that is basically never the case these days. Google Harry Hay, NAMBLA and the early gay faerie culture, for details on how pedophiles and homosexuals were more united last century.
But anyway, back to the question – Did the permissive attitude in many Catholic churches towards homosexuality, contribute to the problems of pedophilia? Perhaps it did. There is interesting insight from a 1982 book named The Homosexual Network: Private Lives and Public Policy, by Enrique Rueda, a Catholic priest.
I dont have the book, and I havent read it, but according to this EWTN.com review of the book, in the 1970s, when the idea of “gay rights” was called “gay liberation”, –
…every type of sexual activity was considered equally deserving of “liberation.” As pederast theoretician David Thorstad proclaimed it in the pages of Boston’s Gay Community News in January, 1979: “We should present ourselves not merely as defenders of our own personal rights to privacy and sexual expression, but as the champions of the right of all persons — regardless of age — to engage in the sexuality of their choice. We must recognize homosexual behavior for what it is — a natural potential of the human animal.”
Note the “all persons – regardless of age” bit. Yikes.
According to a 2016 study by Enrique Gracia and Juan Merlo, discussed here: