The following homosexuality debate began from an Atheist responding to the explanation of a Christian regarding loving sinners, but being unable to accept or agree with their actions. This is a real conversation between these two people, over the course of a couple of hours.
(This debate is copyrighted and is published with permission).
Note: All verses on this page are quoted from
the World English Bible (WEB), which is a modern, public domain, English translation.
Homosexuality Debate – Response of
So I really don't agree with some of what you said. Especially how one can't pick and choose from the Bible. Specifically, my issue is that this seems to be exactly what you're doing.
To my knowledge you don't have an issue with people who eat bacon or throw a football:
Leviticus 11:8 "Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean to you."
I've also never heard you advocate for slavery:
Titus 2:9-10 "Exhort servants to be in subjection to their own masters, and to be well-pleasing in all things; not contradicting; not stealing, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God, our Savior, in all things."
And I haven't seen you calling for women to be stoned:
Deuteronomy 22:21 "Then they shall bring out the young lady to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done folly in Israel, to play the prostitute in her father's house: so shall you put away the evil from the midst of you."
So it seems either you forget many sections of the Bible every day. Or you weigh what you perceive as sins unequally and use the Bible to judge those sins.
Also, while all of these are parts of the Bible, the message of Christ is overwhelmingly one of acceptance and love, without judgment.
Romans 14:1-4 "But receive him who is weak in faith, not for judging thoughts. One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats herbs. Don't let him who eats despise him who doesn't eat. Don't let him who doesn't eat judge him who eats, for God has received him. Who are you who judge the servant of another? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand."
To not support someone who lives in sin is to love conditionally, and conditional love is not love. To pass judgment on that sin is to place your judgment in place of God's, and is a sin in and of itself.
Luke 6:42 "Or how can you tell your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck of chaff that is in your eye,' when you yourself don't see the beam that is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck of chaff that is in your brother's eye."
So, from where I see it, it seems like you pass an awful lot of judgment against gay people, but don't mention the other sins that fall around us everyday, or recognize the hypocrisy in judging the sins of another. From my personal experience of many wonderful devout people I've met in my life, that seems mighty UN-Christian!
Homosexuality Debate – Response of Christian
I will respond by answering your questions individually, beginning with the first one.
As Paul explains in Romans, when Jesus established the new covenant (which it discusses in Jeremiah 31:30-35), he revealed that everything was a shadow of the heavenly realities. He also made it clear in various ways that the regulations of the old covenant had been abolished, but that the sin-related commandments had been reinforced as the important thing. Here are some verses:
Regarding Physical Regulations:
Romans 2:28-29 "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter."
Regarding Food Regulations, such as Pork and Unclean Animals:
Acts 10:12-14 "In which were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the sky. A voice came to him, 'Rise, Peter, kill and eat!' But Peter said, 'Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.'"
But Regarding Sin:
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 "Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God."
Regarding the Old Covenant:
Hebrews 10:1 "For the law, having a shadow of the good to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near."
Paul Does Not Advocate Slavery - He Advocates for Order
In Titus 2:9-10, Paul is not advocating for slavery. As seen in the book of Philemon, Paul actually opposes slavery. However, what Paul does advocate is order. He does not want Christians to be perceived as wrongdoers, because it is a bad witness for Christ. Because of these reasons, Paul gave instructions to a slavery-accepting culture on how to behave appropriately.
1 Corinthians 7:20-21 "Let each man stay in that calling in which he was called. Were you called being a bondservant? Don't let that bother you, but if you get an opportunity to become free, use it."
Note that Paul encourages slaves to obey their masters for the sake of being a good witness, but he makes it clear in Philemon and here that he doesn't approve of slavery "but if you get an opportunity to become free, use it."
Regarding the Woman Being Stoned
As far as woman being stoned goes, there were a lot of laws in the old covenant where death was appropriate for sins. This is because sin is VERY serious. It deserves death. These judgments are appropriate. This is why Christ had to die for our sins. So that we don't have to be punished for our sins.
Consider how Jesus responds to the woman caught in adultery:
John 8:7 "But when they continued asking him, he lifted himself up, and said to them, 'He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.'"
Now you might think "EXACTLY!" as far as him saying, "He who is without sin..." However, what is Jesus' call to salvation? It is a call to repentance. A call to stop sinning.
A Call to Repentance and Obedience
Paul says in Romans 2:4 "Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
According to Paul, Christians are expected to obey the don't-sin/commandment part of the law (Romans 3:31) "Do we then make the law of no effect through faith? May it never be! No, we establish the law."
Paul says we are to be slaves to righteousness, not to sin. (Romans 6:15-16) "What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? May it never be! Don't you know that to whom you present yourselves as servants to obedience, his servants you are whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?"
Romans 6:22 "But now, being made free from sin, and having become servants of God, you have your fruit of sanctification, and the result of eternal life." We are to be slaves of righteousness. If we are sinners, as seen by our actions, then we won't be saved.
James 2:15-17 "And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you tells them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled;' and yet you didn't give them the things the body needs, what good is it? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. "
Jesus too said we are slaves to whomever we obey (John 8:34), "Jesus answered them, 'Most assuredly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin.'"
You Misunderstand the Bible
It's not that I have forgotten those sections you listed, it's that you misunderstand what the New Testament teaches about the Old covenant and New covenant. Also, most people do not understand the seriousness of sin. Yes, they get that Jesus died for our sins, because our sins deserve death, but then when we look at the Old Testament and see how harsh the punishments were, we are surprised.
Death is death. If Jesus died on the cross for our sins, then that means that the more appropriate punishment for all those stonings should have been everyone being crucified for all their wrongdoing.
Again, sin is serious. This is why Jesus died for our sins. And we are told that our sins are forgiven if we repent and that we are called to live righteously trying not to mess up at all costs.
According to Peter, 2 Peter 1:9, "For he who lacks these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins."
According to Paul, Romans 3:25 "To show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done before, in the forbearance of God..."
Judging Others: Food Issues are Non-Sinful Issues
In Romans 14:1-4, Paul speaks of issues relating to food. Note that Paul makes these statements about judgments when speaking about NON-SINFUL issues like what we eat or drink.
Judging Others: Sinful Issues
However, what does Paul say about sinful issues? Speaking of someone sexually immoral, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:3, "For I most assuredly, as being absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as though I were present, judged him who has done this thing."
And what does Paul say about how we should react to those who are sexually immoral and refuse to stop being sexually immoral? 1 Corinthians 5:11 "But as it is, I wrote to you not to keep company, if any man who is named a brother is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don't even eat with such a person."
Really what Paul teaches in Romans 1-2 is that it is wrong to judge others when we ourselves are doing those sins (essentially he is opposing hypocrisy), and he is advocating for these hypocrites to repent.
Jesus Speaks About Judging Evil as Evil
Even Jesus, who says to not judge, gives instance of when judgment is appropriate. He says in Matthew 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?"
And Jesus says in Matthew 7:6 "Don't give that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."
Certainly you would have to make a judgment on who was a dog/pig (this is a metaphor obviously, but still you have to make a judgment of who is a dog/pig/wolf etc.)
God Does Not Support Sinners
God does not support those who live in sin, yet he loves them unconditionally.
Romans 5:8,10 "But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us...For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son..."
"Christians" Who Sin - Name Removed from Book of Life
Jesus even tells Christians in Revelation that if they do not stop sinning, then Jesus will remove their names from the book of life. Revelation 3:3,5 "Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If therefore you won't watch, I will come as a thief, and you won't know what hour I will come on you...He who overcomes will be arrayed like this in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life..."
The passage in Luke 6:42 IS speaking about not being a hypocrite. It says we shouldn't be hypocritical.
But a sin is a sin, and in fact Christians ARE instructed to pass judgment by identifying what is evil and avoiding it because, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 "Don't be deceived! 'Evil companionship corrupt good morals.'"
You Misunderstand the Bible
While it is clear that you have investigated the Bible enough to be able to find scriptures to support what you want to believe, it is also clear that you have not actually studied it.
You pick out the verses that many people, who don't know or understand the Bible, pick out to try to support their biased belief. However, the Bible is clear on these subjects, which is why the position of the Church has not changed for the last 2000 years.
Sin is serious. Those verse about death are appropriate. It's WHY Jesus died for us. That's the whole theology of the Church.
God does love sinners. But he does not approve. We are to love sinners. But we are to not approve, and in fact we are instructed to avoid them if they refuse to repent, since "bad company ruins good morals."
As you can see from the above verses, this is not just some theology I came up with. This is based on an "understanding" of scripture, and it is what the Church as a whole believes and why their position cannot change.
There's No Room for Opinions
It's because it's not just an opinion. It's because it's what the Bible says.
Now if someone does not want to believe the Bible, then that's a different subject. But because Christians base their beliefs on what the Bible tells them to believe, then they cannot change their beliefs without changing the Bible. Which would make the whole point of an absolute truth meaningless, because if people can change their religion based on the ebb-and-flow of culture, then what purpose does it have?
And if people can just change religion based on the ebb-and-flow of culture, then there is no absolute truth, which is also a foundational belief not only to Christian but most old/stable religions.
Only Words Supported by Actions Matter
Have people done evil in the name of Christ? Yes, but note that the Bible does not define a Christian based on what they say. The Bible defines a Christian based on WHAT THEY DO. (Caps just for emphasis)
Anyone can say they're a Christian. But according to the Bible, they are a liar unless they SHOW they are a Christian.
1 John 2:6 "He who says he remains in him (Jesus) ought himself also to walk just like he (Jesus) walked."
1 John 3:7-10 "Little children, let no one lead you astray. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. To this end the Son of God was revealed, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever is born of God doesn't commit sin, because his seed remains in him; and he can't sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the devil. Whoever doesn't do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn't love his brother."
Jesus explains that the separation of the righteous and evil are based on actions in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats.
Even though you are not a Christian, I hope you were able to read this and understand why Christians take the stance they do, even if you don't agree with that stance.
It's fine if you don't agree with the stance, but please be honest enough to understand why we are not being hypocritical, and why we believe what we believe, and why we cannot change those beliefs just because of the surrounding cultural changes.
We believe what we believe because the Bible tells us what to believe, and we understand those parts that would seem hypocritical to someone on the outside looking in.
Thank you for taking the time to read this response.
Homosexuality Debate – Response of Atheist
I understand that I cherry-picked verses and took them out of context. It was to make the very point I did.
I still see you cherry-picking values and qualifying sins. Where are your comments about covetousness, adultery, murder and false idolatry? Where is your moral indignation about avarice and sloth?
If you put stock in verses downplaying dietary restrictions, why not put stock in not judging lest ye be judged?
Also, with all due respect, you don't speak for all Christians, and nor do all Christians share your view.
Like anything in life, it is a matter of interpretation. Some interpret the Bible literally, some figuratively. Some try to reconcile conflicting passages, some try to see the forest for the trees.
If you interpret the Bible such a way as to qualify and rank sin then so be it. But don't fail to recognize the point of view and position you are viewing it from. I can't speak for how other people perceive the Bible, but I have had others speak to me on what they perceive the Bible to say and mean. Some agree with you, some don't.
As to 'the church' not changing, which church? They don't all agree on the meaning of the Bible or on the tenants of faith. Even the Catholic Church, infamous for not changing its position, has made many changes in the past few years alone.
My point in all this is that maybe some of this rigid interpretation is coming from you, and not from the 'absolute truth'.
Homosexuality Debate – Response of Christian
I feel like a lot of these questions have essentially already been answered.
Why are we not talking about those other things? It's not about a moral obligation, it's because the culture is trying to push Christians into accepting homosexuality as okay.
If society was trying to force Christians to accept murder as okay, then it would be the same response.
And as far as other legal sins like adultery and divorce, our culture is not trying to make Pastors/Priests perform divorces. If they were being forced to do divorces, then there would be a similar response, but our society is trying to make them perform gay-marriages even though it opposes their religion.
As of currently, all those "other sins" you mentioned are things that most people agree are not okay.
And clearly you did not really understand what I just said about the judging thing, if you really are asking that question. I already explained that. The Bible makes it clear there are two classifications of judgment – and the Bible makes it clear in the verses I listed that judgment is necessary in certain circumstances.
There's No Room for Opinions
You say, "Also, with all due respect, you don't speak for all Christians, and nor do all Christians share your view." But again you misunderstand, what is Christianity founded on?
This is not a "everyone has their own opinion" kind of issue. Our foundations is the Bible. I am speaking for all true Christians, because I am telling you what the Bible says, and Christianity is completely founded on the Bible.
And as far as those interpretations go, according to the Bible, Christians are not Christians because they say so, they are only Christians if their words are supported by their actions. Words are meaningless without actions, which means that the Church is based on actions.
A Person Is Not a Christian Just Because They Claim It
Every single denomination has people in it who say they are Christian but are not Christian, based on the Bible's definition.
It doesn't matter if some agree and some don't. It doesn't even matter if I agree. This isn't an opinion, which you fail to understand. I did not present to you an opinion just now, I presented to you the Bible. I presented scripture. The scripture speaks for itself.
Just remove all my comments and read the scripture posted. I don't have to say anything. There is not room for interpretation. And when there is differences in theology, the issue isn't even interpretation.
Context and Genre are Everything in Determining Meaning
The issue is CONTEXT, because many "Christians" look into the Bible to find verses that support what they want to believe, and then they take them out of context.
In context, these verses speak for themselves all on their own.
Just in the last 30-50 years, especially the last 20 years, people have began developing this perception (which is completely our culture) that religion is all opinion and it's all based on each person's interpretation.
It's not. Christianity has remained fairly consistent for the last 2000 years because it has one foundation – the Bible and Christ. Again, read those scriptures without my words. IN CONTEXT, those scriptures speak for themselves. There is not room for confusion or interpretation. It is what it is.
In fact, Peter speaks of this: 2 Peter 1:20 "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation."
This verse alone completely opposes your entire understanding of religion and Christianity. Scripture is not a matter of one's own personal interpretation. It never has been, and never will be. You would have to go OUT OF YOUR WAY to manipulate an understanding of scripture.
The reason why people DO get confused is because they take scripture out of it's context to mean what it doesn't mean.
Example of Taking Scripture Out of Context: Nothing Impossible for God
For example, I'm sure you've heard the whole argument that 'For God all things are possible.' But can God sin? Can God stop loving people? Can God stop being Holy? Can God make a burrito so hot he can't eat it or make a rock so heavy that he can't lift it? The answer is NO. People take this kind of verse out of context.
What DOES the Bible say? In context, in one situation when this verse is used, Jesus says in Matthew 19:25-26 "When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, 'Who then can be saved?' Looking at them, Jesus said, 'With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.'"
In context, Jesus is speaking of salvation. For humans it is impossible, but for God it is possible. And in reality all things are possible, except for the obvious impossibilities.
God Cannot Sin
God can't sin. The Bible flat out says this.
James 1:13-16 "Let no man say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God,' for God can't be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. Don't be deceived, my beloved brothers."
So then here's a question for those who say they are gay because they were made that way. Who made them? To a Christian, God made them. And according to the Bible, we shouldn't blame God for our being tempted. It is because of our own evil desires that we are tempted.
You think this is a rigid interpretation, but you and many others in our current society have been influenced by our "opinion" culture, misunderstanding that there is not room for all these opinions. It is what it is.
And you accuse me of cherry-picking. At what point do I show you enough scripture to make it clear what the Bible says? Until I show you all of it?
I Accept All Scripture: Not Just the Parts I Like
And actually, I am including all of it. How can I be cherry-picking when I accept the verses I post AND the ones that you post. And in addition, I explained to you why I accept those verses. On the contrary, if I was cherry-picking then I would reject those verses that you want to cherry-pick. The issue appears to be that you don't want to accept what these verses say.
Again, if you don't agree with the Bible, that's fine. That's your choice, but understand that it's the Bible you are disagreeing with, not me personally. Again, take out my words and let the Bible speak for itself. Those authors who wrote the Bible, Paul, Peter, James, Matthew, Luke, etc., they are able to write clearly enough to speak for themselves. They are not writing to be cryptic. They are writing to be understood.
Is what I'm telling you a matter of interpretation? Or am I being clear?
It's the same with the Bible. Is what they wrote a matter of interpretation or are they clear?
Homosexuality Debate – Response of
Like I said above, you are weighing these sins and not finding them equal. Your latest statement is that we all pretty much are against these sins except for homosexuality. But that's not true.
Adultery is legal. To hoard wealth is legal, and even celebrated in this culture.
It is not the verses you are cherry-picking, it is the values. I understand your point about taking scripture out of context. I completely disagree that you speak for all true Christians.
What you have done is quoted scripture, then tried to explain said scripture. The problem is you and I take two different things away from the Bible as a whole.
I don't disagree that certain things are written in the Bible; I DO disagree that there is only one way to take them.
I get Peter 1:20. The problem is that everything is what we perceive, including what we bring to the table when we read something
Even if the Bible is an immutable truth, it is at best naive and at worst willfully arrogant to think that we as mere people can fully comprehend and take in an immutable truth written by an incomparable being.
I think we're going nowhere here because we disagree with core values. I appreciate you perception, but I disagree with you.
Homosexuality Debate – Response of Christian
Of course you're going to disagree. The whole reason you responded is because you disagree. I never asked you to agree. What I asked is that you understand where...how about this..."traditional" Christians are coming from.
Again, I have said it already. Go ahead and remove my comments and read the scripture on your own and ask yourself, "What is this author trying to say?" NOT "What do I want him to be saying" Rather "What is this author trying to say?"
Wasn't the Bible Written TO BE Understood?
You think that it's naive and arrogant that we could understand. Do you think the Bible was not written to be understood? What is the purpose of the Bible?
Hypothetically, at least, is it not that God communicated with people based on their language and their culture? So what do you mean that "we as mere people can fully comprehend...?"
And the Bible is not written directly by an incomparable being. It is written by people, written to be understood. So yes, we as "mere people" can understand what is written, because it was written for the purpose OF understanding.
Yes, we do disagree on core values. The current flow of our society is all opinion-based. So of course, when such values clash with the foundation of the Bible, it's going to cause disagreements on said values.
Homosexuality Debate – Response of Atheist
I think where we disagree comes down to the concept of choice: interpretation is not always a matter of choice.
Sometimes we don't even know we're doing it. This is the interpretation I was speaking of. For the record, I have read the Bible cover to cover. It's been a long time though.
I think another reason we disagree is that I view the Bible differently. I see it as a collection of parables/moral teachings to guide people in their own morality. I also view it as a historical document written for a time of turbulence, strife, domination and violence. Also a time without refrigerators, hence the dietary restrictions.
Homosexuality Debate – Response of Christian
Again, I would not consider this to be a matter of opinion, but of established truth. It's not a matter of figurative vs literal, or of interpretation, it's a matter of understanding genre and context.
The Bible has established, scholarly-recognized genres, of which follow particular rules that must be understood for the purpose of understanding the meaning.
For example, the letters of the New Testament have an introduction, body, and conclusion like modern letters. However, these letters are often misunderstood because they are read piece-by-piece. The authors have one large stream of thought throughout their letters – for example, if they make a point in one part of a letter, they assume their reader understood and that they don't need to restate it.
Example of Taking Scripture Out-of-Context: Saved by Faith Alone
A classic example of this is what Paul says in Romans 10:9-10, which is another hugely misunderstood verse, because it is not kept within the context of Paul's entire letter. Romans 10:9-10 was never meant to become an absolute theological belief made into one statement.
According to Romans 10:9-10, "that if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
When Paul makes this statement, he is talking about the fact that salvation is for everyone who believes. His point is not to tell his readers how to be saved in one simple statement, because he has already spent the first portion of his letter talking about that subject, including: sin, salvation, faith, obedience, repentance, circumcision-as-spiritual, the-laws-of-faith-and-sin, etc.
Prior to this statement in Romans 10, Paul has just made these statements:
And in Titus, Paul says, "They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny him, being abominable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work." (Titus 1:16)
So if Paul says all of this, why doesn't he mention it as part of Romans 10:9-10? It is because he has already spent the first half of his letter making it clear about the relationship between faith and obedience, and having said all that to his audience, he clearly does not feel the need to restate it.
The focus of this portion of his letter in Romans 10 is the fact that salvation is for everyone. He is done making his point about faith and obedience and salvation. He has already clarified and re-clarified and re-emphasized that point over the course of several chapters; he now focuses on a new point.
If Paul felt he had to restate the point of obedience and faith, and that we should uphold the law, then he would have gone into another several-chapter explanation of it all.
Instead, he assumes that the readers of his letter have understood by now, since he spent the first portion of his letter explaining salvation and the laws of faith and sin, and that we should uphold the law now that we have been forgiven of our previously committed sins.
Homosexuality Debate: Atheist vs. Christian
As seen, every argument made by the Atheist was explained and debunked by the Christian. However, the Atheist has never backed down from a debate and has never been willing to admit if they were wrong.
Instead of continuing to argue about points that the Christian proved were invalid, the Atheist continued to make points that reveal that the Atheist is a product of their society, which has moved towards an opinion and personal-interpretation perception of reality.
Based on these current society ideologies, since reality is viewed as being different for everyone based on their personal opinions, there is no absolute truth of reality.
On the contrary, science disproves this idea, by revealing that there are absolute truths - this is foundational to scientific study. The very pursuit of scientific discovery is based on the fact that there are absolute truths; however, unfortunately culture will almost always be more powerful than science when it comes to opinions, even for those who perceive themselves as scientific-minded.
For more information on the relationship of science and Christianity, read an Evidence-Based Faith of Christianity.
What is love? It's a call to action. Guest post by Ben Byrum.
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