Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some Thoughts On The Change That Comes When One Truly Turns To Christ

In response to our recent article entitled "2 Christian Pastors Say Being Gay Is A Gift From God On Oprah", Siphosami left the following comment.....


2 Corinth 5:17 says "If any man be in Christ, he is a new being, the old is gone and the new has come" That simply means we cannot claim to come to Christ and not be changed to be like Him, that's the crux of Christianity, 1 John 3:2. And then verse 3 says "all who have this hope purify themselves as He is pure". True Christianity teaches that people come as they are to Christ but they leave changed. It is false religion that teaches people to stay with their sinful ways and expect God to understand. And it would not make sense for God to call homosexuality "shameful lust" and "pervesion" if He supported such a thing! So let us stop caressing peoples sins because we are trying to keep the peace yet we are allowing people to enter into eternal destruction by not helping them. And people need to understand that Jesus does not condemn people but the sin in people. So WayneJohn, Jesus did not fail us, it is us who are failing Him. Just take a look at the world around you where Jesus is denounced and you will understand why this world is like this!


We really enjoyed reading this comment. The truth is that if we truly love people, we need to warn them about sin. Sin is the major problem with humanity according to the Bible. But a large proportion of preachers and churches in America will no longer talk about sin at all. Many others try not to bring it up much because someone might get "offended". But the men of the God in the Bible were not afraid to preach the truth. In fact, Jesus was very direct about sin. Just read the gospels and see if that is not true.

Thanks again for the great comment Siphosami!


  1. The main sources for the belief that homosexuality is a sin are two mistranslated verses from Leviticus. They're basically mirrors of each other.

    "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." (Lev 18:22)

    If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (Lev 20:13)

    If you go back to the source material, in Ancient Hebrew, you'll find that the verb used for "mankind" is shakab, and the one used for "womankind" is mishkab. And shakab, in its sexual sense, is used when you are talking about forcible sex (such as, say, rape), or any sex against the will of the victim.

    For example, shakab is also the word used in Genesis 34:2, when Shechem defiles Hamor the Hivite; and in 2 Samuel 13:14 - "...but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her." And in Isaiah 13:16 - "Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished." It's even used in Exodus 22:19, "Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death."

    There are references to consensual sex in the Bible, but none of them, if you look at the source material (before the translation errors crept in) use the word shakab. So the correct translation of the passages from Leviticus is an exhortation against homosexual rape: "Thou shalt not force sexual congress on a man, as (or instead of) with a woman."

    Personally, I prefer the Word of God over the Mistranslation of God. Simply because you happen to disapprove of homosexuality, you shouldn't push your own prejudices as the teachings of the Lord.

    "But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Matthew 15:9)

  2. Nameless cynic, most Christians do not know the scriptures to which you refer. But we do know the one in Romans 1:20-32 that tells it straight out. The Apostle Paul declares that those who practice homosexuality, and other bad things, are those God has given up on and have reprobate, or unfit, minds. Jesus said He came to deliver us from our depravities and make us new creatures. Why not accept deliverance from God rather than hold onto your depravities?

  3. Keith, three things

    First, if you are going to tell me that most Christians do not know the Bible, then I will tell you frankly that this argument is going nowhere. A Christian needs to know the Bible, from Genesis 1:1 through to Revelations 22:21. If you want me to believe that the people shouldn't read the entirety of the Scripture, we have a problem here.

    Secondly, on the subject of Paul, let’s remember that he only came around after Jesus was crucified, and like many people who end up “born again,” he went a little overboard. He wrote more than any other author of the Bible. Paul’s writings have been taken out of context and twisted to punish and oppress every identifiable minority in the world: Jews, children, women, blacks, slaves, politicians, divorced people, convicts, pro choice people, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, religious reformers, the mentally ill… the list goes on and on.

    Paul is often difficult and confusing to understand. Since most of his letters were written in response to news from other people, reading Paul can be like listening to one side of a telephone conversation. We know, or think we know, what Paul is saying, but we have to guess what the other side has said. As 2 Peter 3:16-18 pointed out, we have to be on guard against using Paul’s writings in unhealthy and destructive ways.

    But thirdly, if you're going into Romans 1, you've got to start with the fact that it's preaching against idolatry, which was apparently one of the bigger problems, and much of the Scripture which has been misinterpreted goes back to that. We start with Rom 1:21-23 (and, although I prefer KJV for the language, I'll be going with NIV for clarity):

    For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    And ending with Rom 1:28-32:

    Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    So we're talking about people who know better - Christians. The people being spoken of are Christians who have turned from their beliefs and are worshipping an idol, "images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."

    What does God do in reaction?

    "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another." (Rom 1:24)

    Now, unless you're going to start reading into this, it seems like this doesn't address homosexuals (gay or lesbian), just people, straight and gay, who aren't showing any self-control. Paul was talking, we can presume, to the "average audience," who we'll assume was mostly straight.

    But that means that when straight Christians "dishonour their own bodies between themselves" that means that no one should engage in heterosexual relations — that because some heterosexual relations are ungodly, then all heterosexual relations are ungodly.

    Or, it means that some heterosexual relations are ungodly and some aren't; and you can look at it further, and realize that some homosexual relations can be ungodly, and some aren't.

    "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." (Rom 1:26-27)

    Now is where you get into tricky territory. If we assume that these verses refer to all same sex relations, then one is left to explain what is "the natural use of the woman." Is it to make babies? What of women who cannot, or do not, make babies? Have they changed their "natural use?" Is it therefore a sin for a woman not to have babies?

    Is "the natural use of women" the extinguishment of the burning lust of men? Do they exist to satiate the unfettered lust of men, whether willingly or not?

    Or do women exist to love and be loved? If this is the answer then the verses here have nothing to do with homosexuality but with the dishonoring of bodies - whether male or female, straight or gay.

  4. First of all, nameless cynic... since you sound like someone who "reads" the bible, then rather let us go to the bible to get some answers. Am glad that you have mentioned that Paul's writings are said to be difficult to understand, meaning you are also admitting that you yourself may be totally confused about these very verses you may claim to know.
    And thus on that note, let me first take you to 1 Corinth 2:13. Spiritual things are taught to us, who are Spiritual, by the Holy Spirit. Thus the Spirit knows the heart and the things of God and with Him we cannot go wrong. Christ Himself said in John 16:13 that the Spirit will teach us and reveal to us the whole truth. Unfortunately you have not made a claim that you are a Christian. So unless you tell us that you possess the Holy Spirit... we can try to scrutinize what you have said in a different light (1 John 4:1- Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirit to see whether they are from God). That said... we can then continue.

    Let us look at Romans and it's context... the verses addressing homosexuality are under the subtopic "God's wrath on unrighteousness". That on it's own is very important. Verse 18 says 'the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth'. The chapter then goes on by Paul rebuking the idolatry worship that the Romans were involved in. Through Paul, God was admonitioning the Romans for the evil acts they were involved in. And homosexuality was also one of those things. Not that it became detestable to God only because it was coupled with idolatry, it was and is detestable to God along with other ungodliness.

    The issue is not that God does not love homosexuals, or drunkards or liars. The Bible clearly says that ‘But God gives proof of his love to us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5: 8. The issue is that some of us are adamant to forcefully worship God in sin.
    Let's go back to Genesis 19 so that we can see that sin is an old regime. This chapter talks about the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah. When the angels had come to destroy the city, verse 4-5 says the 'men' of Sodom called out to Lot wanting him to hand over the angels that they may sleep with them. They were not aware that these were angels but Lot's response in verse 7 says 'I beg you my brothers, do not act so WICKEDLY'. What they wanted to do was sinful in the eyes of God. Nothing is said here about idolatry, but something is said here about wickedness of this sort.

    And maybe we are looking at vague texts for you here Nameless cynic. Rather go with me to 1 Corinthians 6:9 'Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor prostitutes nor homosexual offenders'.

    God calls sin by it's name. It is us who are so afraid to stand for what is right that we try to sugar-coat sin in order to be seen as people who 'respect' human rights. But the truth of the matter is that this has nothing to do with human rights, but everything to do with eternal life or eternal death for the whole world.

  5. "shakab" is translated in our Bibles as 'to lie with', and mankind is actually 'zakar' in the hebrew; womankind is "ishshah" and not 'mishkab'. Please check your translation again.

    Both 'shakab' and 'mishkab' are different forms with similar meaning translated 'lie with' in our common Bibles. In essence, the text (Leveticus 18:22) can be translated "And with a male thou dost not lie as one lieth with a woman; abomination it is." - Young's Literal Tranlation

    The fact that the word 'shakab' could also be used to indicate "forceful sex" takes away from your suggested translation version of "Thou shalt not force sexual congress on a man, as (or instead of) with a woman." To whatever degree, you are also suggesting that God is saying 'instead of having forceful sexual congress with a man, have it with a woman' which is self-contradiction (because you also condemn this idea in the last post) and heresy (because God does not condone rape)

    Regarding your commentary on Romans 1:

    I find it odd that you also did not take the time to research the diction used there. The assumption that you make is that homosexuality was not practiced; history does not support this, as Romans, Greeks and Caananites even in Moses's time practiced it, hence the restriction. Paul, writing to the church condemns the church for having sunk into idolatry, and thus fallen have also come to accept homosexuality 'with one another.' The greek word 'phusikos' translated "natural" could also be more emphatically translated "physical". Used in conjunction with "chresis", as in Romans 1:26 it can be rendered 'physical sexual intercourse'. Montgomery's New Testament translates the verse to "That is why God has given them up to passions of dishonor; for on the one hand their women actually changed the natural function of sex into that which is against nature;". Without being vulgar, homosexual relations are not natural by God's physical creation model…

    Romans 1, therefore, say that the church having compromised into idolatrous behavior, fell even further by turning away from the 'natural' use of sexuality.

    The issue is not that God does not love homosexuals, or drunkards or liars. The Bible clearly says that 'But God gives proof of his love to us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.' Romans 5: 8. The issue is that some of us are adamant to forcefully worship God in sin. In Sodom and Gomorah, the people practiced many sins including homosexuality they were not destroyed solely for their homosexual behavior, but for indulging in all sin. Similar to the Romans, they were being reproved not only for idolatry, but also for the homosexuality.

    Psalm 29: 2 says 'Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.' In the book of Hebrews 13: 4 the Bible says 'Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.'

  6. Siphosami:
    First of all, test away. I have been a Christian my entire life. I was raised in a military family, so we moved around, and most frequently went to Methodist or Episcopalian churches. I am currently going to the Kirtland AFB military chapel, where my wife is the choir director and my son runs sound.

    I apologize if that comes off a little curt. I was unaware that the church was going to require membership cards.

    You bring up Genesis 19. First, what you are interpreting as potential "homosexual" acts are not the worst crimes that occur that night. The fact that Lot offers his daughters to be gang-raped by a mob of violent men is abhorrent and supports the idea that people of that time considered women to be of the same worth as farm animals, definitely of less value than two strangers who have stopped by for a visit. Remember, Lot was considered a righteous man, and the offering of his daughters for gang rape should not pass without comment.

    That that you would use this passage to condemn loving, consensual same-sex relationships while you remain oblivious to the crime of offering one's daughters to be gang-raped by a violent mob speaks volumes about the your priorities.

    And this story is mirrored in Judges 19, where a woman is offered to a mob of men to be gang-raped, in lieu of the man they originally asked for, but this time the offer is taken. The woman is raped all night and later killed and dismembered by her lover, the twelve pieces sent to the twelve tribes of Israel.

    And both stories, horrific as they are, better reflect the theory that homosexual rape was looked upon as a terrible crime and a sin. Strengthening, in fact, my point.

    But then there's 1 Corinthians 6:9. The word used there (and NIV actually specifies male prostitute - you left that out) is also translated originally as "effeminate" in KJV. But the Greek term is malakos. It's a word used only twice in the Gospels: in parallel stories, by Jesus (Matthew 11 and Luke 7). After a long day of healing and preaching, John the Baptist is looking a little rough, and Jesus asks "If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine (malakos) clothes? No, those who wear expensive (malakos) clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces.

    In both instances the term malakos is used in a disdainful manner to describe the soft and delicate existence of those in the royal court. Does it make any sense for Jesus to ask is they expected him to be in homosexual clothes? Asking if he should be dressed as a male prostitute barely makes more sense (although I suppose you could stretch the point, but you're going out on a limb).

    As for "homosexual offenders" (KJV "abusers of themselves with mankind"), the word is arsenokoites, I'll borrow from a seminarian's blog:

    The translation of the word arsenokoites is more difficult. The term is a notorious problem because no occurrence of term before Paul has been discovered (Freickson 220). The two parts “arsen” and “koites” literally means “male bed” (“Arsenokoites”) (Willam F. Orr and James Arthur Walther 202). This has led modern interpreters to claim it means “men who have sex with men” (Martin 39). Dale Martin points out that this approach makes the error of defining a word by its assumed etymology and the etymology of a word is its history, not its meaning (Martin 39). There is also an err to assume that only males would be in a male bed, where a variety of people would be found in a male’s bed in the 1st century from his wife, to a slave, to a prostitute. To understand the term we must at how the term was used post-Paul but pre-1946, as this is the first instance the term homosexuality was used in the Bible (Gomes 148).

    From this approach we learn that arsenokoites is treated as an example of unjust, violent behavior of a person lacking self control (Freickson 221).Here Paul is pick up on the thread of Greek and Jewish cultures and weaving them together not only to condemn pederasty but on all other unjust acts (Crompton). Vice lists like Paul’s often included violent, exploitive love of boys in association with other unjust acts such as adultery, theft, slander and avarice (Freickson 221).

    With the translations of malakoi and arsenokoites as “excess” and “exploitation”, we now have a fuller understanding on the moral flaws Paul was trying to get at. These flaws are not specifically homosexual activity nor are they sexual activity in general, but a bigger blanket statement on the shortcomings of the church in Corinth.

    As I said, I prefer the Word of God over the Mistranslation of God.

  7. Visionary:
    I apologize if I wasn't clear. Let me try again.

    If you go back to the source material, in Ancient Hebrew, you'll find that the verb used in conjunction with (or along with) "mankind" is shakab, and the one used with "womankind" is mishkab.

    Old Testament Hebrew is a primitive language, the first step above picture writing (some historians think that it might be the first alphabetic language). Like Egyptian, it originally had only consonants (no vowels). It had about a 30,000-word vocabulary (modern English has over 300,000 words). One Hebrew word could be used in dozens of different ways, with the meaning determined by the context. Each word was made up of 3 letters of the alphabet and usually expressed some form of activity or action. It is impossible to translate most Hebrew words exactly into modern English. Linguists and translators end up having to guess a lot.

    Now, with that small of a vocabulary, please tell me what sense it would make for them to use two words with the same meaning. (Or to put it another way, "Man shall not apple with a man, as he would orange with a woman.") They had multiple meanings for individual words (as I described), they did not have two words which meant the same. Hence, shakab does not mean the same action as mishkab. It's "rape" vs. "sex" and the two concepts are, after all, distinctly different.

    The Greek of the New Testament was more complex than Hebrew, with a 250,000-word vocabulary and several words for “soft” concepts (feelings, philosophical concepts, and so on) which were somewhat beyond the Hebrew language. For example, Greek had four different words for “love.” However, the Greek word for romantic love (eros) is never used in the New Testament, though it was the most common word for love in the Greek-speaking world.

    The Greek used in the New Testament is different from classical or modern Greek. For many years, some scholars thought that New Testament Greek was a special language created by the Holy Spirit. Then, in the late nineteenth century, documents from the time of the New Testament (letters, bills of sale, and news reports) were discovered written in exactly the same kind of Greek (called koine) that the Bible used. The King James Version, on the other hand, was translated in 1611, long before these manuscripts were discovered.

    The reason that there are so many different Bible translations (about 30 major ones) today is because the exact meaning of many words is still in question, and even what should be included as original material is hotly debated by Biblical scholars. To read bits and pieces of biblical material into present-day culture is to misrepresent the Bible and to distort its message of God’s love in Christ for all people in today’s world.

    As regards your commentary for my commentary for Romans 1, I find it odd that you misread that so completely. My point was not that homosexuality is not practiced, but that the words were addressed to both gay and straight people who are "dishonoring their bodies among themselves" (I don't believe that we need to get more graphic than that - modern society has cheerfully educated everyone on ways that heterosexuals can "dishonor their bodies").

    Of course homosexuality was practiced. But without the mistranslations I've mentioned, the Old Testament really says very little about what we today describe as "homosexuality." It does, however, describe loving relationships between members of the same sex. The author seems to respect the privacy of the subjects of these stories by describing the loving relationships and not the blow-by-blow accounts of hot male-on-male action. Even "heterosexual" relationships aren't described this way: sex is always alluded to in terms of the marriage contract, the births of children, and various rapes.

    "If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers…" (Deuteronomy 13:6 KJV)
    This verse lists a man's relations in order of closeness, descending to ascending: brother, son or daughter, wife, friend which is as thine own soul. This suggests that the man in this society maintains a relationship with another man that is closer than that of his wife, a relationship which is as close "as thine own soul."

    "And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." (1 Samuel 18:1 KJV)

    Anyone who can read "homosexuality" into the key passages of Leviticus and NOT see the homosexual relationship mentioned, in a positive way, in Deuteronomy and 1 Samuel, selective literalism has been elevated to a high art form. This art form, however, remains art, though, and not a valid argument that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

  8. Unfortunately nameless cynic, you make it sound as if Lot's bad actions make homosexuality right!! How wrong! One wrong doesn't make a right. So you cannot support homosexuality just because what Lot did was wrong! Anyway, it is not anyone's position to convict of sin, but God Himself. Undoubtedly, God nowhere condones homosexuality and personally that's undebatable for me. And in my closing....2 Timothy 2:23 "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." If God could change a murderer like Paul into an apostle, homosexuality is not impossible for God to change either. When people meet Jesus, they shall never be the same again. And that's exactly what we want the world to know! God bless!

  9. And again, you misrepresent what I said. Lot's actions can't be justified, but they can, to an extent, be understood in light of the prohibition against homosexual rape, and the prevailing cultural attitude that women are little more than property. Nor did I say that I "support homosexuality just because what Lot did was wrong."

    What I said was, perhaps you shouldn't condemn homosexuality, based on the mistranslation of misunderstood terms from a dead language. The Scripture is the unalterable Word of God, breathed out by God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16), but that same Scripture has been translated (numerous times) by fallible men. That, as I have said, is why there are upwards of 30 different translations of the Bible, from King James through to the current day.

    As an example, go to 2 Kings 8:26, where we find that Ahaziah was twenty-two when he began to reign in Jerusalem. But until relatively recently, 2 Chronicles 22:2 told us that he was forty-two when he began to rule, based on earlier manuscripts.

    It must be nice to live in your world, where you know that all of the errors have been found, and mankind has achieved perfection (at least in this regard). But I wonder if the old Church would have listed this attitude as an example of the Sin of Pride.

    Remember Deuteronomy 29:4, and may God bless your endeavors.