Not Again !

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  • "The Christian view...."

    Put simply, if you think I've got it wrong, tell me what you think it should be and supply the reasoning/evidence on which your own view is based. I will listen and consider.

    What is rather useless is just to say something like "there are other views" without either specifying the views or producing any evidence or reasoning that can be discussed. Or even any clue how widespread belief in any alternative view might be....

    I recall a previous occasion when Jesus' views in Mark 10 were being discussed on the Ship and a Shipmate - call them 'A' because it was a while back and I'm not sure they're still around on the 'new' Ship - came at me very aggressively with the statement "There are other interpretations".

    I said basically fine, tell me what your alternative is and what evidence proves I'm interpreting Jesus wrongly.... and I'm still waiting. 'A' has still not produced any evidence that I interpreted Jesus incorrectly.

    What 'A' did come up with, some time later, was a declaration that "Jesus was mistaken". Which is difficult to interpret any other way than that she was in fact unable to come up with a credible alternative interpretation of Jesus' words that supported what she wanted, and that she was basically conceding that my interpretation was correct. But of course she didn't want to concede that that was actually right so she preferred to say Jesus himself got it wrong.

    Now from an atheist or any other kind of in relation to Christianity 'un-believer/other-believer', that's fine. But 'A' was very determined that she had to be considered a Christian. She even said she actually believed Jesus to be God incarnate - but propounded a somewhat unorthodox version of Incarnation which meant Jesus could be fallible.

    I have to say that I find it a bit difficult to accept as even 'a' Christian view a position that starts off by declaring the actual Christ himself to be mistaken, and of course by rather necessary implication that 'A' herself thought she knew better than Jesus....

    And I also see this leading to a bit of a problem in evangelism. If I were a non-Christian being invited to put my faith in Jesus - to trust him with both my life and my eternal destiny - that call to faith seems not-too-credible when it comes from someone who believes Jesus, despite being God Incarnate, can be mega-mistaken about something so important, while the person calling me to faith apparently thinks they know better than this Jesus they're asking me to trust.....

    Essentially, especially as I know it to be very widespread and traditional anyway, I'm taking my understanding of Jesus as 'the Christian view' till somebody actually shows me I've got it wrong. Some of our difficulty here is that I grew up in a rather different attitude where we simply accepted a kind of understood 'unless you can show me otherwise' and didn't feel any great need to keep stating the obvious about the possible existence of other views .

    And what we would not have done back then was just make a blanket declaration that "there are other interpretations" as if that was somehow an answer in itself and just saying there might be other views somehow in itself discredited the view we were challenging. In itself without further information about the other views and the evidence for them such a statement is essentially empty.
  • Well it's nice that that's all clear now.
  • But didn't someone once say 'Judge not, that ye be not judged?' I, for one, am with Pope Francis on this: 'Who am I to judge?'
  • Essentially, especially as I know it to be very widespread and traditional anyway, I'm taking my understanding of Jesus as 'the Christian view' till somebody actually shows me I've got it wrong

    You can do that. But you need to understand that you're saying is "I will never be proved wrong", not because you're not wrong, but because you've got too much invested in this particular standpoint to change your mind, no matter how much evidence and interpretation anyone brings to the table.

    Meanwhile, many of us are doing exactly the same thing, just with our standpoint. It's fair, but personally I wouldn't indulge in the hubris associated with 'the Christian view'.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    Well it's nice that that's all clear now.

    Maybe we could go over it one more time.
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Thank you for getting back to me Steve. As I said above, I don't agree with your interpretation of Mark 10, and my experience of being gay has nothing to do with anal sex, so I think I'll keep on as I am. :smiley:
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    Essentially, especially as I know it to be very widespread and traditional anyway, I'm taking my understanding of Jesus as 'the Christian view' till somebody actually shows me I've got it wrong

    You can do that. But you need to understand that you're saying is "I will never be proved wrong", not because you're not wrong, but because you've got too much invested in this particular standpoint to change your mind, no matter how much evidence and interpretation anyone brings to the table.

    Meanwhile, many of us are doing exactly the same thing, just with our standpoint. It's fair, but personally I wouldn't indulge in the hubris associated with 'the Christian view'.

    See where you're coming from there.

    But - I can and do change my mind in response to logic and experience. One of the bigger of such changes was my shift to Anabaptism. I'm not sure it's true for everybody but in my case autism carries a quite heavy charge/investment of wanting to actually be right about things, not just to justify my own or anybody else's existing views. It is part of that 'absent minded professor' thing to not be taking things for granted but to be checking things out and worrying at anomalies.

    Also in many cases you'd find me working with and allowing for many alternatives. Bear in mind that Anabaptism involves a different balance of individual, Bible and Church compared to more authoritative churches. It also very much involves an understanding that I do ultimately need to persuade others - 'my' authority is very much in terms of "It's not just me, check it out in Scripture for yourself".

    I tend always to be working on two levels, one of which is "What is the truth about Christianity?" while the other is asking "Is that also true in terms of the wider world?"
  • It also very much involves an understanding that I do ultimately need to persuade others - 'my' authority is very much in terms of "It's not just me, check it out in Scripture for yourself".

    I think you'd have to admit, though, that there are other people who are trying to be good Christians, and there are entire Christian churches, who don't agree with all your interpretations.

    I accept that you think your interpretations are correct, and am happy to believe that if you thought they were wrong, you would change your opinions, but you do neither yourself or the discussion any favours by labelling all the conclusions that you have drawn from scripture as "The Christian View".
  • Actually I don't so label "all the conclusions that (I) have drawn from scripture".

    There would be many occasions I would recognise significant disagreement among Christians by using labels such as the 'Anabaptist view' or the 'Protestant view'. Or indeed on occasions 'my view' when I know I'm saying something a bit unusual, though again I wouldn't be expecting people to believe just because I said it, I would positively want them to check the issue out. I would tend to use "the Christian view" when I'm dealing with views widely believed in Christianity in general and across most major denominations. The kind of thing that CS Lewis described variously as "Mere Christianity" or "Deep Church", the broadly common ground of the faith which is pretty massive compared to the differences. In my interpretation of Mark 10 I feel for various reasons I'm on pretty strong ground in asserting a rather straightforward interpretation of Jesus' words as "the Christian view".
  • by Chorister
    “And anyway, arguing that the Bishops are acting as upholders of Biblical principles doesn't hold much water when you realise how long ago the Bible was written, and how much medical understanding has developed since then. For example, the idea that genuine sexual attraction / love towards someone of the same sex is now understood as part of the normal variety of human relationships, rather than deliberately wilful, going against nature, and therefore sinful.

    The law recognises this, and allows same sex partnerships (marriage or civil), but the Anglican Church has a long way to catch up. Meanwhile, individual churches of other denominations (eg. URC) go ahead and allow marriages and blessings to all types of relationships.”


    1) The trouble with the Bishops is that they do a mix of seeking to uphold biblical principles and at the same time upholding the very unbiblical principle of having an established/national church instead of the universal/international ‘kingdom not of this world’ that Jesus actually taught. By still hanging on to the rags of what establishment used to be, they compromise and distort even the biblical stuff they do state, and they state it with inappropriate and annoying attitudes as this thread shows.

    Thing is, obviously in principle Christian standards of conduct are applicable and appropriate to everybody, and it is part of Christian teaching to say so. However, the original establishment ideal was that the religious state actually coercively imposed both Christian beliefs and Christian standards on all citizens (and beyond the state in a pseudo-Christian version of ‘Jihad’). That is much diluted these days, of course, but the CofE still has much of the residual attitudes that went with that. The actual Christian ideal is to lead people to voluntary faith, voluntary acceptance of the standards. And to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, not the worldly power of the state.

    2) I’m not sure the development of medical understanding is actually relevant.

    As of right now I’m trying to get this answer up before going to bed (with the third section already done), so I will cut this a bit short. But broadly the Christian position as outlined particularly in Romans 1 is that human sinfulness in general has caused disruption in human relations with God, with the physical world we live in, with each other, and also internally. Sexuality is one of the many things disrupted; and you need to grasp that bigger picture of the human condition, not just concentrate on the bit about sex.

    3) It is implicit in the broadly Anabaptist view that society should be plural. Basically just in the sense that if Christian faith is to be voluntary then there will be at least two beliefs/philosophies accepted, Christian and some other; but obviously wider variation of beliefs would be seen as fine. At the same time originally Christianity with that “kingdom not of this world” idea sees itself as a counterculture not meant to coerce others into conformity. Significantly involved in the UK Anabaptist Network, I think the current deal is that we’re still working out the implications of democracy as opposed to the typical more absolutist states when Anabaptism started.

    But on the current point it is fairly straightforward. Christianity in general has a particular world-view or set of presuppositions – you know, things like “There is a God and of the kind revealed in our Scriptures”. Other religions and philosophies have other presuppositions/worldviews. Different presuppositions lead to different consequences in terms of moral rules etc. In the current case, different views of sexuality and how it works.

    What is supposed to happen is that in a plural society there is maximum practical toleration of different worldviews. In Christianity there is a view that sexuality is created for male with female; in the presuppositions of other views there is no such idea and it can be seen as just not mattering what is done sexually. The two views should be able to co-exist albeit with some forceful arguments – but only arguments/persuasion, not fights, persecution, legal coercion or one criminalising the other.

    The law should allow the marriages or equivalents of both groups who also while not happy with the other’s practice should fully respect the legal property rights so created. Christians will not enter into same-sex marriages or various other relationships regarded as wrong in Christian terms.
  • Snip

    I tend always to be working on two levels, one of which is "What is the truth about Christianity?" while the other is asking "Is that also true in terms of the wider world?"

    I think that approach is something of a hiding to nothing. Belief and holy texts cannot be analysed and tested in the way that physical phenomena are testable by science and therefore one cannot arrive at objective truths about them. It would like trying to arrive at the objective truth of The Odyssey or the objective experience of listening to Mozart.

    You can, however, certainly arrive at what is true for you about Christ, Christianity and Christian faith and ask others to respect your interpretation. Though you ought to reciprocate that respect and allow that other people will hold different interpretations.
  • by Chorister
    “And anyway, arguing that the Bishops are acting as upholders of Biblical principles doesn't hold much water when you realise how long ago the Bible was written, and how much medical understanding has developed since then. For example, the idea that genuine sexual attraction / love towards someone of the same sex is now understood as part of the normal variety of human relationships, rather than deliberately wilful, going against nature, and therefore sinful.

    The law recognises this, and allows same sex partnerships (marriage or civil), but the Anglican Church has a long way to catch up. Meanwhile, individual churches of other denominations (eg. URC) go ahead and allow marriages and blessings to all types of relationships.”


    1) The trouble with the Bishops is that they do a mix of seeking to uphold biblical principles and at the same time upholding the very unbiblical principle of having an established/national church instead of the universal/international ‘kingdom not of this world’ that Jesus actually taught. By still hanging on to the rags of what establishment used to be, they compromise and distort even the biblical stuff they do state, and they state it with inappropriate and annoying attitudes as this thread shows.

    Thing is, obviously in principle Christian standards of conduct are applicable and appropriate to everybody, and it is part of Christian teaching to say so. However, the original establishment ideal was that the religious state actually coercively imposed both Christian beliefs and Christian standards on all citizens (and beyond the state in a pseudo-Christian version of ‘Jihad’). That is much diluted these days, of course, but the CofE still has much of the residual attitudes that went with that. The actual Christian ideal is to lead people to voluntary faith, voluntary acceptance of the standards. And to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, not the worldly power of the state.

    2) I’m not sure the development of medical understanding is actually relevant.

    As of right now I’m trying to get this answer up before going to bed (with the third section already done), so I will cut this a bit short. But broadly the Christian position as outlined particularly in Romans 1 is that human sinfulness in general has caused disruption in human relations with God, with the physical world we live in, with each other, and also internally. Sexuality is one of the many things disrupted; and you need to grasp that bigger picture of the human condition, not just concentrate on the bit about sex.

    3) It is implicit in the broadly Anabaptist view that society should be plural. Basically just in the sense that if Christian faith is to be voluntary then there will be at least two beliefs/philosophies accepted, Christian and some other; but obviously wider variation of beliefs would be seen as fine. At the same time originally Christianity with that “kingdom not of this world” idea sees itself as a counterculture not meant to coerce others into conformity. Significantly involved in the UK Anabaptist Network, I think the current deal is that we’re still working out the implications of democracy as opposed to the typical more absolutist states when Anabaptism started.

    But on the current point it is fairly straightforward. Christianity in general has a particular world-view or set of presuppositions – you know, things like “There is a God and of the kind revealed in our Scriptures”. Other religions and philosophies have other presuppositions/worldviews. Different presuppositions lead to different consequences in terms of moral rules etc. In the current case, different views of sexuality and how it works.

    What is supposed to happen is that in a plural society there is maximum practical toleration of different worldviews. In Christianity there is a view that sexuality is created for male with female; in the presuppositions of other views there is no such idea and it can be seen as just not mattering what is done sexually. The two views should be able to co-exist albeit with some forceful arguments – but only arguments/persuasion, not fights, persecution, legal coercion or one criminalising the other.

    The law should allow the marriages or equivalents of both groups who also while not happy with the other’s practice should fully respect the legal property rights so created. Christians will not enter into same-sex marriages or various other relationships regarded as wrong in Christian terms.

    Yes, but ... There are Christians who disagree with those rather sweeping statements. Christians enter into same-sex marriages. They get divorced. They re-marry. They do not see these things as wrong "in Christian terms".

    The danger with this whole line of argument is that you are deciding who is and isn't a Christian. And that isn't your call. Unless God is secretly moonlighting as a poster on these Boards, no one here gets to decide who's name gets written in the Book of Life and why.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    A
    Snip

    I tend always to be working on two levels, one of which is "What is the truth about Christianity?" while the other is asking "Is that also true in terms of the wider world?"

    I think that approach is something of a hiding to nothing. Belief and holy texts cannot be analysed and tested in the way that physical phenomena are testable by science and therefore one cannot arrive at objective truths about them. It would like trying to arrive at the objective truth of The Odyssey or the objective experience of listening to Mozart.

    You can, however, certainly arrive at what is true for you about Christ, Christianity and Christian faith and ask others to respect your interpretation. Though you ought to reciprocate that respect and allow that other people will hold different interpretations.

    This.
  • by Tubbs
    The danger with this whole line of argument is that you are deciding who is and isn't a Christian. And that isn't your call. Unless God is secretly moonlighting as a poster on these Boards, no one here gets to decide who's name gets written in the Book of Life and why.

    NO I am not! What I am doing is registering that God has revealed a great deal about what it means to be a Christian, and essentially 'being a Christian' is about trusting that revelation. Which in turn means taking the effort to understand it so we can positively follow it. And there will be right and wrong interpretations and that will matter to how people live in this world. And the danger in what you and Colin Smith and others seem to be arguing is that it's as if all the interpretations are equal and it doesn't matter.

    If I was claiming the kind of 'infallibility' that the old RCC 'Magisterium claimed, you'd have a point. As I made quite clear earlier I'm not making that kind of claim of personal authority at all. I'm simply doing my best to work out what the Bible says in terms of quite ordinary use of language and offering it to others to check out for themselves, and I expect them to do that.

    And as I said earlier, just saying "There are other interpretations" is really a completely empty and useless response. I'm perfectly well aware that there can be other interpretations. The issue is

    1) What actually are the other interpretations so that we can evaluate them?

    2) What is the reasoning and evidence for the other interpretations? Do they actually have any reasoning or evidence or are they in fact just producing what they want to believe rather than what is actually there?
  • Snip

    I tend always to be working on two levels, one of which is "What is the truth about Christianity?" while the other is asking "Is that also true in terms of the wider world?"

    I think that approach is something of a hiding to nothing. Belief and holy texts cannot be analysed and tested in the way that physical phenomena are testable by science and therefore one cannot arrive at objective truths about them. It would like trying to arrive at the objective truth of The Odyssey or the objective experience of listening to Mozart.

    You can, however, certainly arrive at what is true for you about Christ, Christianity and Christian faith and ask others to respect your interpretation. Though you ought to reciprocate that respect and allow that other people will hold different interpretations.

    Yes, "true in terms of the wider world" makes no sense in relation to the supernatural. Well, I can't figure a way of assessing it. As you say, the supernatural is not commensurate with accepted methods of investigation. Of course, you can water it down, and talk about what you believe. The old phrase "Not even wrong" comes to mind.
  • TubbsTubbs Admin
    edited February 2020
    by Tubbs
    The danger with this whole line of argument is that you are deciding who is and isn't a Christian. And that isn't your call. Unless God is secretly moonlighting as a poster on these Boards, no one here gets to decide who's name gets written in the Book of Life and why.

    NO I am not! What I am doing is registering that God has revealed a great deal about what it means to be a Christian, and essentially 'being a Christian' is about trusting that revelation. Which in turn means taking the effort to understand it so we can positively follow it. And there will be right and wrong interpretations and that will matter to how people live in this world. And the danger in what you and Colin Smith and others seem to be arguing is that it's as if all the interpretations are equal and it doesn't matter.

    If I was claiming the kind of 'infallibility' that the old RCC 'Magisterium claimed, you'd have a point. As I made quite clear earlier I'm not making that kind of claim of personal authority at all. I'm simply doing my best to work out what the Bible says in terms of quite ordinary use of language and offering it to others to check out for themselves, and I expect them to do that.

    And as I said earlier, just saying "There are other interpretations" is really a completely empty and useless response. I'm perfectly well aware that there can be other interpretations. The issue is

    1) What actually are the other interpretations so that we can evaluate them?

    2) What is the reasoning and evidence for the other interpretations? Do they actually have any reasoning or evidence or are they in fact just producing what they want to believe rather than what is actually there?

    What you think you're doing and what I think you're doing seems mutually exclusive. When you speak about "the Christian view", the implication is that any other view isn't Christian.

    So, first up, you're talking pastoral issues not academic theories so there needs to be some sensitivity around language and a smattering of compassion. Second up, Google gives me ton of articles that provide alternative readings to your one of Mark 10. Sticking with sound conservative evangelical sources, I'm going with this one from Christianity Today.

    Scripture consistently communicates that marriage is a lifelong commitment. Jesus described the relationship between husband and wife this way in Matthew 19:6: “They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” So far, a win for you. Jesus permits divorce in cases of adultery. Paul adds a second exception - where an unbelieving spouse abandons the marriage.

    Most commentators apply those two statements to a wider context than a simple, "It says here ..."

    So, for example, if one spouse regularly beats another, then the whole one flesh union has broken down. And they aren't loving their spouse as Christ loved the church either. The Bible also teaches about justice, the need to protect the vulnerable and to love your neighbour as yourself etc. In those kind of situations, then divorce would be permitted by the kind of Christian commentators that CT has on speed dial.
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    @Tubbs: "Unless God is secretly moonlighting as a poster on these Boards".

    I've always assumed this was @Ruth.
  • The quick version would be that people in general are meant to love people in general. And because we are physical beings in a physical universe there is and should be a considerable element of physical attraction and physical expression of those feelings. But sex as such is, as per Jesus' statement in Mark 10, emphatically for male with female and same-sex sex is in Christian terms never appropriate.

    I think you're missing a few steps between "Christians should never divorce" (or "Christians should never divorce except for sexual immorality" in the parallel verse) and "no sex is permitted except penis-in-vagina intercourse". This rule seems inadequately and selectively enforced as well. If we take your assumption that Christians should be the Sex Police (at least among members of their own congregations), it seems like there is very little effort devoted to keeping married couples from engaging in the kind of sex acts that you argue are prohibited by this stricture against divorce. Since there are no sex acts that a same-sex couple can do that an opposite-sex couple can't also do this seems a strange omission.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    The quick version would be that people in general are meant to love people in general. And because we are physical beings in a physical universe there is and should be a considerable element of physical attraction and physical expression of those feelings. But sex as such is, as per Jesus' statement in Mark 10, emphatically for male with female and same-sex sex is in Christian terms never appropriate.

    I think you're missing a few steps between "Christians should never divorce" (or "Christians should never divorce except for sexual immorality" in the parallel verse) and "no sex is permitted except penis-in-vagina intercourse". This rule seems inadequately and selectively enforced as well. If we take your assumption that Christians should be the Sex Police (at least among members of their own congregations), it seems like there is very little effort devoted to keeping married couples from engaging in the kind of sex acts that you argue are prohibited by this stricture against divorce. Since there are no sex acts that a same-sex couple can do that an opposite-sex couple can't also do this seems a strange omission.

    There's nothing in Mark 10 about same sex relationships. Because Jesus never said anything about same sex relationships ever. Attempting to use that verse to make your case just doesn't work.

    There is stuff in the OT and in the writings of Paul. But that's it. And a few of Paul's verses are open to interpretation as the kind of same sex relationships the church is losing its collective mind over now aren't the same as some of the ones Paul was condemning.
  • Tubbs wrote: »
    There's nothing in Mark 10 about same sex relationships. Because Jesus never said anything about same sex relationships ever.

    Well yeah, but @Steve Langton is arguing from silence that same-sex relationships are therefore prohibited. Anything not explicitly approved is forbidden, apparently. Mark 10 (or Matthew 19, if you prefer) is hard to track in its reasoning since Jesus juxtaposes two different sections of Genesis and comes up with what to us seems like a non-sequitur (God created humans with binary gender, therefore divorce is wrong), which is further stretched by @Steve Langton to include " . . . and also there is only one permissible sex act". It doesn't help that the conclusion of what is right is derived from factually incorrect premises. Neither the unnumbered people created in Genesis 1 or the male-female pair created in Genesis 2 ever left their father and mother, because they had neither father nor mother so it's unclear why the matings of parentless people dictates the way people with parents should leave home upon marriage.
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Interesting points @Crœsos. I've often wondered why, when the Genesis passage says "a man shall leave his parents," all the marriages we hear of have the woman as the one who leaves.
  • Interesting points @Crœsos. I've often wondered why, when the Genesis passage says "a man shall leave his parents," all the marriages we hear of have the woman as the one who leaves.

    Patrilineal inheritance: if the property goes to the son, then he has a reason to stick with his family, or close by, whereas she isn't going to benefit from staying with hers in the same way. The expectation then arose that the wife would help her mother in law with running the home, so any other way would get one looked at askance.

  • And as I said earlier, just saying "There are other interpretations" is really a completely empty and useless response. I'm perfectly well aware that there can be other interpretations. The issue is

    1) What actually are the other interpretations so that we can evaluate them?

    2) What is the reasoning and evidence for the other interpretations? Do they actually have any reasoning or evidence or are they in fact just producing what they want to believe rather than what is actually there?

    Always a bit risky, as a lay person without a theology degree, to stick one’s neck out on the ship and give a theological opinion, and Tubbs has already given an interpretation far better than I could, but since you ask....

    I don’t think Jesus was describing how sex ought to be done and by whom within or without marriage in Mark 10. He doesn’t say “For this reason a man leaves his family and gets married and then the man and his wife has this type of sex.” He’s asked a question about divorce, the background being that some men were keen to divorce their wives at the drop of a hat, leaving the women very badly off, and Jesus sticks up for the women. My reasoning for this interpretation is that it’s consistent with what I understand to be the character of Jesus. He harks back to the Genesis passage and adds a bit to it, interpreting the passage for those around him.

    Genesis was (I think) compiled / edited / whatever during the Babylonian exile, when there would have been a great deal of concern about marrying foreign women, and thus bringing the worship of foreign gods among the Jewish people. So the writer is musing on the powerful force of needing to be with someone, (could be love, could be plain old lust) which might lead a man to leave his father and mother (and by implication, his religion) and join a woman. It’s a description of what happens, not a prescription for what should happen.

    My reasoning for that is an interest in who wrote which bits of the Bible when, and what was going on around them at the time.

    So, really all I’ve done is to take scripture and interpret it. Much like you’re doing.
  • by Tubbs
    There's nothing in Mark 10 about same sex relationships.

    Exactly. Absolutely. Precisely my point.

    Also by Tubbs
    Because Jesus never said anything about same sex relationships ever.

    Exactly. Absolutely. Precisely my point.

    And that is why Mark 10 definitely works to make my point.

    The logic is simple; Jesus is asked about divorce, he answers by going back to the fundamental point of what marriage is. It is certainly the end result of what he says that marriages should be committed and divorce either not at all or only in very limited circumstances. But it's also the point that he describes what marriage is, and his description is entirely in terms of "God made (humans) male and female". And really that is the end of the argument.
  • And that is why Mark 10 definitely works to make my point.

    The logic is simple; Jesus is asked about divorce, he answers by going back to the fundamental point of what marriage is. It is certainly the end result of what he says that marriages should be committed and divorce either not at all or only in very limited circumstances. But it's also the point that he describes what marriage is, and his description is entirely in terms of "God made (humans) male and female". And really that is the end of the argument.
    Mark 10 doesn’t make your point. It simply doesn’t. What is happening is that you are imposing assumptions on it to confirm what you’ve already decided the point is.

  • The logic is simple; Jesus is asked about divorce, he answers by going back to the fundamental point of what marriage is. It is certainly the end result of what he says that marriages should be committed and divorce either not at all or only in very limited circumstances. But it's also the point that he describes what marriage is, and his description is entirely in terms of "God made (humans) male and female". And really that is the end of the argument.

    And your contention is that anyone in a same-sex marriage is neither male nor female? How do you figure that?
  • He also doesn’t say “God made them Male and female and that’s your lot, folks”. It’s not intended to be all encompassing*. Or do intersex people not feature on your radar? I’m reasonably sure they feature on God’s, and they would have been known about at the time the gospels were written.

    *Interesting comparison might be made with the Genesis creation account of varying types of animals. There are animals which don’t fit into the categories given, but they definitely exist.
    The logic is simple; Jesus is asked about divorce, he answers by going back to the fundamental point of what marriage is. It is certainly the end result of what he says that marriages should be committed and divorce either not at all or only in very limited circumstances. But it's also the point that he describes what marriage is, and his description is entirely in terms of "God made (humans) male and female". And really that is the end of the argument.

    It’s the end of your argument, certainly, but it’s somewhere near the middle, or even the start of mine. It is my firm belief that scripture should be interpreted through the light of reason and lived experience. Gay people get married and have relationships including a sexual element, which are as full of love, peace, gentleness, joy and self-control and all the other fruits of the spirit that I can’t remember at this hour of the morning! (or not!) as any straight married couple. This leads me to believe that their relationships are fine and dandy with God. And, even if they weren’t, it is none of my damn business to interfere if no one is getting hurt.

    I’ve been watching some of the livestream and commentary from General Synod on the Living in Love and Faith project, and I’d encourage you to try it. It’s instructive as to how LGBTI people’s relationships are scrutinised like some sort of science project to be poked and prodded, rather than a fundamentally important part of many people’s lives.
  • Steven, I agree with you that the merger of the Christian faith with the Roman state has complicated the problem we face today. But I would unravel ‘the major worldviews’ in a very different way from the one you imply. The laws enacted by the Roman state in the 4th century promoting marriage and criminalising ‘homosexual acts’ were not, to coin a phrase, ‘pastoral’. Constantine saw them as a means of preserving society. He regarded the Christian faith as a whole as having the same role.

    However, a century before this the Roman state had already begun to tackle immoral sexual behaviour. The Emperor Philip the Arabian had tried to stop male prostitution in 249 (but failed). While early Christian writers claim he was the first Christian Roman Emperor, non-Christian writers of the time don’t mention it. Christians were a small minority of the population in the 3rd century and could not have been the driving force in this policy.

    While successive Roman Emperors tried desperately to solve multiple problems of rival factions, barbarian invasions, and the collapse of the economy, people sought new gods and new ways of coping with an increasingly hostile world. Among the Roman elite the Stoics had dabbled with ascetism. Now people all over the Roman Empire adopted asceticism as a way of life.

    A battered and terrified and militarised society was the background to the enactment of anti-homosexual laws that have been a feature of Western society ever since.
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Pendragon wrote: »
    Interesting points @Crœsos. I've often wondered why, when the Genesis passage says "a man shall leave his parents," all the marriages we hear of have the woman as the one who leaves.

    Patrilineal inheritance: if the property goes to the son, then he has a reason to stick with his family, or close by, whereas she isn't going to benefit from staying with hers in the same way. The expectation then arose that the wife would help her mother in law with running the home, so any other way would get one looked at askance.

    All of that makes sense, and certainly seems to be the way marriage worked in Biblical times. So why doesn't the quote say, "Therefore a woman shall leave her parents"? Why does it describe something that didn't happen?
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Getting back to the OP, the clergy in my Diocese have had a letter saying that Sentamu has taken personal responsibility for the offending item, and apologised.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    edited February 2020
    I see the logic of Mark 10 being like this. First Jesus tackles an attitude about women inherent in the question he is asked. He reminds his hearers that women are equally with men created by God. They are not mere chattels in this discussion but fully human beings like the men and deserving equality of consideration: “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’“, and he refers them to Genesis 1.27.

    Then he goes on (quoting the second Genesis narrative) to say that in order to marry (ἕνεκεν τούτου = for this reason) a man will leave his mother and father and be united with his wife. (In relation to the Genesis account, it is suggested that ‘forsake’ is a better translation than leave. In any event the ‘leave’ doesn’t have to be read as a literal moving away.) The fact that some manuscripts omit ‘and be united with his wife’ suggests that the logical and rhetorical weight is on the ‘leaving’. Jesus is using the Genesis reference to stress what a big deal marriage is. It involves creating a new household, a new family.

    Finally he continues the quotation with ‘the two shall become one flesh’. In the context of the Genesis narrative the statement is first to make it clear that woman and man are the same kind of being and the same kind of flesh (by contrast with the other creatures brought to the man, none of which was found to be a suitable companion for him); and secondly it alludes to the fact that the woman was made from the man’s body. In the context of Jesus’ use of the text he is again stressing to his questioners both the unity of the couple in marriage, and the fact that women are of the same kind as men, and deserving of equal consideration as persons.

    The passage has nothing to say one way or another about marriages between people of the same sex. Jesus was asked about divorce in a context where the woman in question was being treated as an object or a chattel rather than a person. His response insists that women must be treated as persons in the question just as men are, and that marriage is a big deal - not just a matter of legal bits of paper.
  • Getting back to the OP, the clergy in my Diocese have had a letter saying that Sentamu has taken personal responsibility for the offending item, and apologised.

    Well, sort of. The Archbishops released a second statement talking about jeopardising trust and pre-empting discussions on Living in Love and Faith, but they didn't row back at all on the original theme that sex is only for married straight people.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    And that is why Mark 10 definitely works to make my point.

    The logic is simple; Jesus is asked about divorce, he answers by going back to the fundamental point of what marriage is. It is certainly the end result of what he says that marriages should be committed and divorce either not at all or only in very limited circumstances. But it's also the point that he describes what marriage is, and his description is entirely in terms of "God made (humans) male and female". And really that is the end of the argument.
    Mark 10 doesn’t make your point. It simply doesn’t. What is happening is that you are imposing assumptions on it to confirm what you’ve already decided the point is.

    So very much this. Jesus never explicitly said any of the things @Steve Langton claims. And arguing that Jesus' silence means "wot he actually meant was" is a just ... Well, mind blown. It's the kind of behaviour that according to many of Steve's previous posts just isn't on.

    @BroJames interpretation of Jesus challenging the view of marriage and of women as property given his treatment of women elsewhere in the Bible makes total sense. Thank you.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    The logic is simple; Jesus is asked about divorce, he answers by going back to the fundamental point of what marriage is. It is certainly the end result of what he says that marriages should be committed and divorce either not at all or only in very limited circumstances. But it's also the point that he describes what marriage is, and his description is entirely in terms of "God made (humans) male and female". And really that is the end of the argument.

    And your contention is that anyone in a same-sex marriage is neither male nor female? How do you figure that?

    No, that is not my contention at all (though I know some people who would say something like that).

    My contention is the much simpler point that, needing to say what marriage is in order to say what (if anything) divorce should be, Jesus very clearly bases his whole argument on the "male + female" nature of marriage and of the rather obvious that only male-with-female can do the 'becoming one flesh' thing. What people of the same sex can do together is absolutely not the same thing at all.

    Have to stop there for now.


  • orfeoorfeo Suspended
    edited February 2020
    by Tubbs
    There's nothing in Mark 10 about same sex relationships.

    Exactly. Absolutely. Precisely my point.

    Also by Tubbs
    Because Jesus never said anything about same sex relationships ever.

    Exactly. Absolutely. Precisely my point.

    And that is why Mark 10 definitely works to make my point.

    The logic is simple; Jesus is asked about divorce, he answers by going back to the fundamental point of what marriage is. It is certainly the end result of what he says that marriages should be committed and divorce either not at all or only in very limited circumstances. But it's also the point that he describes what marriage is, and his description is entirely in terms of "God made (humans) male and female". And really that is the end of the argument.

    That allegedly simple logic has several inbuilt assumptions in it which you simply do not see.

    You continue to jump from the fact that God made male and female to the assumption that the only allowable combination of humans is one of each type. And the text simply does not tell you that, not least because that isn't the topic that Jesus is addressing.

    The topic is commitment, not gender, and you're trying to turn it into a text on gender. It's not "also the point". It isn't the point because the question Jesus was answering wasn't the question you're now trying to claim has been conclusively answered.

    You also continue to assert, without a rational basis, that "becoming one flesh" is solely based on inserting a penis into a vagina. An action which a couple of drunk young things are capable of doing on the night that they meet without even finding out each other's names. You're claiming this is a text about marriage, and yet your argument is solely about a sex act.

  • No, that is not my contention at all (though I know some people who would say something like that).

    My contention is the much simpler point that, needing to say what marriage is in order to say what (if anything) divorce should be, Jesus very clearly bases his whole argument on the "male + female" nature of marriage and of the rather obvious that only male-with-female can do the 'becoming one flesh' thing. What people of the same sex can do together is absolutely not the same thing at all.

    Have to stop there for now.

    A marriage is whatever a married couple choose it to be, regardless of what ethical, spiritual, or religious beliefs they happen to hold.

    Oh, and you might want to reread that judge not less you are judged line because you are majorly failing to live up to it.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    edited February 2020
    Jesus very clearly bases his whole argument on the "male + female" nature of marriage and of the rather obvious that only male-with-female can do the 'becoming one flesh' thing.
    As Freud observed, many words have two opposite meanings. For example, here 'very clearly' means 'not clearly' and 'rather obvious' means 'not obvious at all'.

    (I note that Paul thinks the wrongness of sleeping with a prostitute depends on the becoming one flesh; if oral sex or non-penetrative sex or anal sex with prostitutes aren't becoming one flesh then that means they are morally ok.)

    It seems to me "obvious" that Jesus is alluding to the old Rabbinic* story that Adam was a hermaphrodite from Genesis 1 until the creation of Eve: homosexuality in this myth is accounted for as descent from humans who were never hermaphrodites.

    *strictly speaking, pre-Rabbinic, if Jesus is alluding to it.
  • Jesus, (and by that of course, I mean me), says ...
  • I'm also slightly bemused by this 'one man, one woman' idea, when Jewish scripture seems to be okay with 'one man, many women'. I know that polygamy seemed to have drifted off the menu by Jesus' time, but still: 'Biblical marriage' is a very flexible concept.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    edited February 2020
    <snip>My contention is the much simpler point that, needing to say what marriage is in order to say what (if anything) divorce should be, Jesus very clearly bases his whole argument on the "male + female" nature of marriage and of the rather obvious that only male-with-female can do the 'becoming one flesh' thing. What people of the same sex can do together is absolutely not the same thing at all. <snip>

    And my contention is that your 'much simpler point' fails to understand what Jesus says in its proper context both textual and historical, and therefore draws conclusions which are unwarranted from the text in Mark 10.

    The question Jesus is asked is, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10.2)

    In the background (as is evident from the parallel passage in Matthew 19) is the position held by the rabbinic House of Hillel that allowed divorce even for trivial offences such as burning a meal. The question betrays an entirely male-centred point of view which treats the wife purely as an object. This is emphasised by the Pharisees' response (Mark 10.4) to Jesus' question about what Moses said. Indeed the House of Hillel's view treats the wife as little more than a chattel or at best a servant.

    Jesus responds first by asserting the full humanity of the wife. He references the first creation narrative which makes no distinction between male and female. In other words the wife in the question must be given as much status as a person created in God's image as the husband is. The point of the 'male and female' bit is not focussed on gender complementarity in marriage, but that both men and women are fully persons made in the image of God. The argument is not based 'on the "male + female" nature of marriage' but on the equal personhood of women with men.

    When he moves onto the question of marriage, Jesus makes two points (citing the second creation narrative). The first point is that marriage is a big deal. It's not some minor contract of ownership or employment, but in the God given order of things, it is a reason why someone 'leaves' mother and father and clings to/sticks to/unites with his wife and forms a new household. This is a big deal which can't just be undone without very good reason. The second point is not primarily focussed on sexual union between marriage partners, but primarily on the creation of a new kinship relationship between the marriage partners. In the context of the Genesis story it also harks back to 2.20 where when every living creature has been brought to the man to be named, "for the man there was not found a helper as his partner". When the woman is brought to him, however, this one "at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh". The point again being that such a person cannot lightly be separated from by simply writing a certificate of dismissal.

    (BTW arguably it is not until Genesis 4.1 that there is any sexual relationship between Adam and Eve.)
  • ... and now ++Justin has decided to make a statement that the CofE is institutionally racist. Maybe he should just have done with it and change his surname by Deedpoll to Woke - ah, but then he'd have to forego the privilege of being institutionally homophobic.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    <snip>My contention is the much simpler point that, needing to say what marriage is in order to say what (if anything) divorce should be, Jesus very clearly bases his whole argument on the "male + female" nature of marriage and of the rather obvious that only male-with-female can do the 'becoming one flesh' thing. What people of the same sex can do together is absolutely not the same thing at all. <snip>

    And my contention is that your 'much simpler point' fails to understand what Jesus says in its proper context both textual and historical, and therefore draws conclusions which are unwarranted from the text in Mark 10.

    The question Jesus is asked is, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10.2)

    In the background (as is evident from the parallel passage in Matthew 19) is the position held by the rabbinic House of Hillel that allowed divorce even for trivial offences such as burning a meal. The question betrays an entirely male-centred point of view which treats the wife purely as an object. This is emphasised by the Pharisees' response (Mark 10.4) to Jesus' question about what Moses said. Indeed the House of Hillel's view treats the wife as little more than a chattel or at best a servant.

    Jesus responds first by asserting the full humanity of the wife. He references the first creation narrative which makes no distinction between male and female. In other words the wife in the question must be given as much status as a person created in God's image as the husband is. The point of the 'male and female' bit is not focussed on gender complementarity in marriage, but that both men and women are fully persons made in the image of God. The argument is not based 'on the "male + female" nature of marriage' but on the equal personhood of women with men.

    When he moves onto the question of marriage, Jesus makes two points (citing the second creation narrative). The first point is that marriage is a big deal. It's not some minor contract of ownership or employment, but in the God given order of things, it is a reason why someone 'leaves' mother and father and clings to/sticks to/unites with his wife and forms a new household. This is a big deal which can't just be undone without very good reason. The second point is not primarily focussed on sexual union between marriage partners, but primarily on the creation of a new kinship relationship between the marriage partners. In the context of the Genesis story it also harks back to 2.20 where when every living creature has been brought to the man to be named, "for the man there was not found a helper as his partner". When the woman is brought to him, however, this one "at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh". The point again being that such a person cannot lightly be separated from by simply writing a certificate of dismissal.

    (BTW arguably it is not until Genesis 4.1 that there is any sexual relationship between Adam and Eve.)

    @Steve Langton 's interpretation also glosses over how truly revolutionary Jesus' comments about women being created in the image of God and of equal value to a man were at that time. There would have been a very sharp intake of breath on the part of his audience. Women were seen as property and not something to be taken remotely seriously.

    @BroJames your marvelous post reminds me of one of the pet sayings of a vicar at a church I attended many years back: "A text without a context is a pretext ...".
  • ... and now ++Justin has decided to make a statement that the CofE is institutionally racist.

    It probably is.
    Maybe he should just have done with it and change his surname by Deedpoll to Woke

    I don't think that means what you seem to think it does.
  • ... and now ++Justin has decided to make a statement that the CofE is institutionally racist.

    Do you think he's wrong in this particular?
  • ... and now ++Justin has decided to make a statement that the CofE is institutionally racist. Maybe he should just have done with it and change his surname by Deedpoll to Woke - ah, but then he'd have to forego the privilege of being institutionally homophobic.

    The Synod motion reads slightly differently.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Peter Cotterell, formerly principal of what is now the London School of Theology, used to say, “A text without a context is a pretext not a proof text.”
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Tubbs wrote: »
    BroJames wrote: »
    <snip>My contention is the much simpler point that, needing to say what marriage is in order to say what (if anything) divorce should be, Jesus very clearly bases his whole argument on the "male + female" nature of marriage and of the rather obvious that only male-with-female can do the 'becoming one flesh' thing. What people of the same sex can do together is absolutely not the same thing at all. <snip>

    And my contention is that your 'much simpler point' fails to understand what Jesus says in its proper context both textual and historical, and therefore draws conclusions which are unwarranted from the text in Mark 10.

    The question Jesus is asked is, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10.2)

    In the background (as is evident from the parallel passage in Matthew 19) is the position held by the rabbinic House of Hillel that allowed divorce even for trivial offences such as burning a meal. The question betrays an entirely male-centred point of view which treats the wife purely as an object. This is emphasised by the Pharisees' response (Mark 10.4) to Jesus' question about what Moses said. Indeed the House of Hillel's view treats the wife as little more than a chattel or at best a servant.

    Jesus responds first by asserting the full humanity of the wife. He references the first creation narrative which makes no distinction between male and female. In other words the wife in the question must be given as much status as a person created in God's image as the husband is. The point of the 'male and female' bit is not focussed on gender complementarity in marriage, but that both men and women are fully persons made in the image of God. The argument is not based 'on the "male + female" nature of marriage' but on the equal personhood of women with men.

    When he moves onto the question of marriage, Jesus makes two points (citing the second creation narrative). The first point is that marriage is a big deal. It's not some minor contract of ownership or employment, but in the God given order of things, it is a reason why someone 'leaves' mother and father and clings to/sticks to/unites with his wife and forms a new household. This is a big deal which can't just be undone without very good reason. The second point is not primarily focussed on sexual union between marriage partners, but primarily on the creation of a new kinship relationship between the marriage partners. In the context of the Genesis story it also harks back to 2.20 where when every living creature has been brought to the man to be named, "for the man there was not found a helper as his partner". When the woman is brought to him, however, this one "at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh". The point again being that such a person cannot lightly be separated from by simply writing a certificate of dismissal.

    (BTW arguably it is not until Genesis 4.1 that there is any sexual relationship between Adam and Eve.)

    @BroJames your marvelous post reminds me of one of the pet sayings of a vicar at a church I attended many years back: "A text without a context is a pretext ...".

    I bet that vicar had been trained by Donald Coggan, before he became ABofC. My vicar had been, and he often quoted the same phrase. (Another of his was that clergy should be people with something to say, rather than people who have to say something. I wish his successors adhered to this.)
  • BroJames wrote: »
    Peter Cotterell, formerly principal of what is now the London School of Theology, used to say, “A text without a context is a pretext not a proof text.”

    Nice! That's so true and is a better version of that quote.

    @Robert Armin, he was a baptist minister who trained at London Bible College / London School of Theology.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    I'm also slightly bemused by this 'one man, one woman' idea, when Jewish scripture seems to be okay with 'one man, many women'. I know that polygamy seemed to have drifted off the menu by Jesus' time, but still: 'Biblical marriage' is a very flexible concept.

    Not quite off the menu. Herod the Great had multiple concurrent wives and plural marriage was still common enough in Christian circles that 1 Timothy has to specify that certain positions within the church are to be held by men with only one wife. Still, basic demographic reality would mean that plural marriage was, by necessity, the exception rather than the rule.

    At any rate it's pretty hard to argue that Jacob is "one flesh" with both Rachel and Leah but that Rachel and Leah are different flesh from each other.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    It depends how you read the ‘one flesh’. We tend to assume it’s about sex, but arguably it is more about kinship.
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