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Thread: Answering Thom Stark on the Bible and Homosexuality.

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    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Answering Thom Stark on the Bible and Homosexuality.

    A response to Thom Stark.

    The link can be found here.

    The text is as follows:

    What do I think of what Thom Stark has to say on the Bible and homosexuality? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    It's not a shock that Thom Stark has jumped on the bandwagon with wanting to support homosexual behavior. Now he thinks he has hard questions for Christians. Really? Let's see what he has.

    If you're a Christian who condemns homosexuality because the Bible condemns it, there are at least five things you must also do before you can condemn it consistently:
    Well I guess we're off to a bad start since I have other grounds for my condemnation, but of course, Stark has this idea that all Christians are the same. But hey, let's leap into the text.

    1) You must also condemn sex between a husband and his menstruating wife (an act condemned on equal footing with adultery, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, witchcraft, and child sacrifice in both Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20).
    On equal footing? Well no. Leviticus 18 doesn't mention the punishments for certain crimes, but Leviticus 20 does. Leviticus 20 gives incest, homosexuality, bestiality, child sacrifice as leading to death. Witchcraft involves expulsion from the community. The same follows for sleeping with a woman while she's menstruating since that involves blood and the punishment is being cut off. Homosexuality is right there with the ones that end in death and is thus treated differently. So sorry, point #1 doesn't really work.

    2) You must also acknowledge that, according to God's laws, polygamy is morally acceptable to God, and is a standard type of "biblical marriage." It is given tacit approval in the laws of Moses, in Deut 21:15-17, where a man with more than one wife is told that he must treat the children of unfavored wives equally to the children of favored wives. There is 2 Sam 12:8, where Yahweh reminds David that he gave Saul's wives to him as a gift, and would have given David even more if he had asked. Then in the New Testament, only church elders are told they cannot marry more than one wife (ostensibly because more than one wife is a distraction from caring for the church family), a prohibition that does not apply to any other Christian.
    Or being a good Christian, you could remember that this was a practice allowed because of the hardness of the hearts of people, much like divorce was. The NT has several indications about a time where God let some people have a little bit more leeway. But what about 2 Samuel 12:8?

    And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.
    Does this mean more wives? No. It refers to wealth period. Would God have given David other houses besides Israel and Judah? Israel was told to not expand their borders. It refers to increasing wealth entirely. It's a way of saying "Look what all I gave you! Isn't that enough?!"

    3) You must also acknowledge that, according to God's laws, it is morally acceptable to capture the women of your defeated political enemies and force them to marry you. "When you go out to war against your enemies, and Yahweh your God hands them over to you and you take them captive, suppose you see among the captives a beautiful woman whom you desire and want to marry, and so you bring her home to your house: she shall shave her head, pare her nails, discard her captive’s garb, and shall remain in your house a full month, mourning for her father and mother; after that you may go into her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife" (Deut 21:10-13). That is biblical marriage.
    I suppose Thom would have preferred that the women be either killed or left to fend for themselves alone in the ANE. That they were allowed to marry was a way to protect the woman. Is that a different kind of marriage? No. It is still a man-woman marriage. It is a different way to enter into marriage but the reality of marriage as the union of man and a woman is the same.

    4) You must also acknowledge that, according to God's laws, it is morally acceptable to force a rape victim to marry her rapist. "If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and forcibly seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives" (Deut 22:28-29). This is biblical marriage.
    And Thom again doesn't realize that this was set in place to protect the woman. In the culture, she would have been shamed and seen as undesirable for marriage by being raped. Forcing her rapist to provide for her for the rest of his life would make him think twice about the activity. The woman would have welcomed the arrangement wanting the man to be punished and making him pay the price for her.

    5) You must also acknowledge that, according to God's laws, it is morally acceptable as a matter of course to own slaves. "As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness" (Lev 25:44-46). You must acknowledge that the New Testament orders slaves to obey their masters, even while it tells their masters to treat them kindly. Nowhere does the Bible condemn slavery, and thus, if you wish to continue to condemn homosexuality simply because the Bible says so, you must never condemn slavery again.
    Or we could try understanding the way slavery worked in the ANE. Sorry Thom, but you couldn't just go to Wal-Mart and get a job. You had to work for someone else and the system set up for that was slavery, a way to actually care for the poor. It was nothing like the slavery that we saw in Civil War Times.

    We could go on with things you ought to support: genocide, patriarchy, etc. But these five are a good jumping-off point. When you can honestly say 1) that you do not have sex during menstruation and that you excommunicate any fellow Christians who do, 2) that you support a man's right to marry multiple women, 3) that you support a man's right to invade a country, kill a woman's husband or father, and take her as his wife, 4) that you support a rapist's right to forcibly marry his victim and deny her right to divorce him, and 5) that you support a man's right to purchase and own human beings as slaves and bequeath them to his children, then you may come to me and tell me that you believe homosexuality is immoral because the Bible tells you so. Until that time, suffer your own hatred in silence.
    Ah yes. The hatred card at the end. You see, I took the time to write this post in the middle of stomping around my house talking about how much I hate homosexuals. When I meet other Christians, all we do is gather around and share stories of mean things we did to homosexuals that week. Please excuse me because after this post I have to go to a meeting where we will hold up our Christian flag and continue our prolonged hate of homosexuals.

    Yeah Thom. That kind of drivel about hate means I just don't take you seriously there. You see, believe it or not, hate can be a very good thing.

    What?

    You see, I take it you don't support genocide, slavery, or patriarchy. I would wager you hate those things. Do you think that's a problem? I don't. I think if something is evil, you should hate it. Even if it isn't evil, if you think it is, you should hate it.

    Meanwhile, it would have been nice of you to explain what these passages mean that you think we should just throw out. It would have also been nice to have seen you touch a passage like Romans 1 and deal with what Paul said. Oh. Maybe next time you can look at the work of Robert Gagnon and comment.

    But until then, it's this kind of handling of the text that I just find completely unpersuasive and banks on people not understanding the historical context.

    By the way, telling people to suffer it in silence is a way of saying "Shut up."

    How tolerant of you.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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    tWebber Starlight's Avatar
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    I was very pleasantly surprised to read this article by Thom Stark. Often when people take a swipe at the OT on homosexuality it's along the lines of "It also condemns shellfish, and ~handwave~..." because that tends to be about the limit of their own knowledge of the OT. By contrast, Stark makes nuanced points that are accurate.

    Your response Nick, seems rather confused though...

    On equal footing? Well no. Leviticus 18 doesn't mention the punishments for certain crimes, but Leviticus 20 does. Leviticus 20 gives incest, homosexuality, bestiality, child sacrifice as leading to death. Witchcraft involves expulsion from the community. The same follows for sleeping with a woman while she's menstruating since that involves blood and the punishment is being cut off. Homosexuality is right there with the ones that end in death and is thus treated differently.
    At one and the same time you appear to be trying to deny that Stark was right, while admitting that he in fact is mostly right. And your own listing here of the punishments doesn't match Lev 20. Vs 27 gives the death penalty for witchcraft, for example.

    Does this mean more wives?
    That does seem to be within the scope of what it's referring to.

    I suppose Thom would have preferred that the women be either killed or left to fend for themselves alone in the ANE.
    Presumably he would prefer war captives to be ransomed back to their people as was standard in the ancient world. Funnily enough he doesn't particularly like the idea of warriors taking wives by force.

    And Thom again doesn't realize that this was set in place to protect the woman. In the culture, she would have been shamed and seen as undesirable for marriage by being raped. Forcing her rapist to provide for her for the rest of his life would make him think twice about the activity. The woman would have welcomed the arrangement wanting the man to be punished and making him pay the price for her.
    It's pretty disturbing that you write the words "The woman would have welcomed the arrangement" of perpetual bondage to her rapist. I would urge you to seriously consider seeking counselling for yourself regarding your lack of empathy.

    Stark would presumably prefer that God gave laws that taught the Israelites to treat women decently and with respect, and thus changed their culture regarding women being "shamed" and "undesirable".

    Or we could try understanding the way slavery worked in the ANE. Sorry Thom, but you couldn't just go to Wal-Mart and get a job. You had to work for someone else and the system set up for that was slavery, a way to actually care for the poor. It was nothing like the slavery that we saw in Civil War Times.
    You did not have to work for someone else. Slavery was not a way to care for the poor. And it was pretty similar to Civil War slavery. A lot of slavery in the ancient world was race-based, as captives from wars with foreign nations provided the bulk of the slaves.

    You see, I took the time to write this post in the middle of stomping around my house talking about how much I hate homosexuals. When I meet other Christians, all we do is gather around and share stories of mean things we did to homosexuals that week.
    You do, however, spend a reasonable amount of time on the internet opposing their rights and opposing Christian support for their 'lifestyle'.

    Please excuse me because after this post I have to go to a meeting where we will hold up our Christian flag and continue our prolonged hate of homosexuals.
    I would be totally unsurprised if you were going to a meeting to discuss how Christians were going to continue to oppose homosexuality after the Supreme Court discussion. Plenty of Christinas in the US are currently having that sort of discussion. So your attempt at sarcasm here isn't very convincing.

    You see, believe it or not, hate can be a very good thing.
    Ah, right. You definitely don't hate homosexuals, but if you did it would potentially be "a very good thing"...

    Meanwhile, it would have been nice of you to explain what these passages mean that you think we should just throw out.
    Christians are pretty good at ignoring parts of the bible that they find inconvenient. I was constantly amazed in bible study groups how easily other people would just read past passages that countered their own theology without even blinking.

    Maybe next time you can look at the work of Robert Gagnon and comment.
    I would comment that he appears to be a truly awful person who writes books and articles filled with nothing but malicious lies about gay people. He reports scientific data in a completely factually inaccurate way. And his biblical exegesis consists of imagining the most anti-gay reading possible and then reading that into the text. Even years ago as a Christian I flatly refused to interact directly with Gagnon's work because I considered it beyond the pale of unreasonableness.

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    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    I was very pleasantly surprised to read this article by Thom Stark. Often when people take a swipe at the OT on homosexuality it's along the lines of "It also condemns shellfish, and ~handwave~..." because that tends to be about the limit of their own knowledge of the OT. By contrast, Stark makes nuanced points that are accurate.

    Your response Nick, seems rather confused though...

    At one and the same time you appear to be trying to deny that Stark was right, while admitting that he in fact is mostly right. And your own listing here of the punishments doesn't match Lev 20. Vs 27 gives the death penalty for witchcraft, for example.
    Not seeing how. I mention Leviticus condemns all of these but the penalty is different.

    That does seem to be within the scope of what it's referring to.
    Then what about more nations? All it means is that all Saul had was given to David.

    Presumably he would prefer war captives to be ransomed back to their people as was standard in the ancient world. Funnily enough he doesn't particularly like the idea of warriors taking wives by force.
    Not if the culture was destroyed.

    It's pretty disturbing that you write the words "The woman would have welcomed the arrangement" of perpetual bondage to her rapist. I would urge you to seriously consider seeking counselling for yourself regarding your lack of empathy.
    No. It's not. It would have been standard fare. We even have an example. Tamar when raped by her brother preferred to stay with him even AFTER he raped her.

    Stark would presumably prefer that God gave laws that taught the Israelites to treat women decently and with respect, and thus changed their culture regarding women being "shamed" and "undesirable".
    This isn't about women being shamed and undesirable, but about non-virgins not being desired for marriage. That still often happens today.

    You did not have to work for someone else. Slavery was not a way to care for the poor. And it was pretty similar to Civil War slavery. A lot of slavery in the ancient world was race-based, as captives from wars with foreign nations provided the bulk of the slaves.
    Actually, you did. You had to earn an income somehow and upon what basis do you want to say slavery was the same as Civil War slavery?

    You do, however, spend a reasonable amount of time on the internet opposing their rights and opposing Christian support for their 'lifestyle'.
    I have opposed giving different rights.

    I would be totally unsurprised if you were going to a meeting to discuss how Christians were going to continue to oppose homosexuality after the Supreme Court discussion. Plenty of Christinas in the US are currently having that sort of discussion. So your attempt at sarcasm here isn't very convincing.
    I am not going out to stop what people are doing alone in their own houses, but I am against their trying to change the law and the definition of marriage.

    Ah, right. You definitely don't hate homosexuals, but if you did it would potentially be "a very good thing"...
    No. It wouldn't be. Not good to hate people.

    Christians are pretty good at ignoring parts of the bible that they find inconvenient. I was constantly amazed in bible study groups how easily other people would just read past passages that countered their own theology without even blinking.
    How is this an explanation of the passages?

    I would comment that he appears to be a truly awful person who writes books and articles filled with nothing but malicious lies about gay people. He reports scientific data in a completely factually inaccurate way. And his biblical exegesis consists of imagining the most anti-gay reading possible and then reading that into the text. Even years ago as a Christian I flatly refused to interact directly with Gagnon's work because I considered it beyond the pale of unreasonableness.
    That's so cute. And you're the one complaining about people being anti someone else.

    Perhaps we can wait to see if Matthew Vines will debate him. Oh. I guess he won't....

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