General

Homesexuality in the Old Testament

by Dave on December 20, 2013

in General

I wrote the following draft almost a year and a half ago, and cannot see getting to clean it up anytime soon.  So I thought I would publish it as it is.  Enjoy.

Note:The following is a
draft of a study I did examining the perceived prohibition in the
Bible against homosexual relations. It is not in its final form, but
since it has been 1.5 years since I wrote this draft I thought I
should get it out there now or it may never be seen.

Homosexuality in the
Old Testament

Now I believe that most of the problems concerning the plain meaning of scripture is present in the references to Leviticus. So I will deal with those directly by using the arguments put forth by Friedman and Dolansky in their wonderful book, “The Bible Now”.

Here are the passages in Leviticus that most people base their prejudice on.

You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is a detestable act.

and

If a man has sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, the two of them have committed an abomination.

Seems pretty clear, right? The thing that most people point to as the real force of the law is when they read the phrases at the end, “a detestable act” and “an abomination”. I have several points that I want to make about this. If this said, “is OK for other by not you”, then even conservatives might think differently about this. Please note that in no way does the OT bible say anything bad about female homosexuality.

Somehow people gloss over this. Now if the OT really thought that girl on girl was bad, don’t you think it would have said so? There is every opportunity to simply say that homosexuality is bad, but the bible goes out of its way to say male homosexuality. So for the rest of this I will just discuss male relationships, recognizing that female likely has a much lower bar.

Next, note that the bible tends to be very specific in the nature of the offense when it is laying down the law in the Old Testament. For example:

Deut 22:5 A
woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor should a man dress up in women’s clothing, for anyone who does this is offensive to the YHWH your God.

Here it is quite clear that the offense is an offense against YHWH. I can see it being set up that way because on the surface it seems that cross dressing is
probably not all that bad of a thing to do. But then again, it is inherently deceptive. So YHWH is the one offended. This certainly comes into play when applying the rule of love, is it loving to god and loving to others.

But that is not how the Leviticus laws about male homosexuality are laid out. There it is simply said that they are “a detestable act” and “an abomination”, but not to YHWH.

So what is it that makes these things bad? Both of these are from the same Hebrew word, tow`ebah. If you look at the other occurrences of tow`ebah you will see that many of the patriarchs of the bible engaged in acts that were seen as tow`ebah. Abraham marries his half sister yet Leviticus again has this act in the section of things that are tow`ebah. So the law changed. So one of the characteristics of tow`ebah that something that is tow`ebah is subject to change.

In Jeremiah, he says:

2:7 I brought you into a fertile land so you could enjoy its fruits and its rich bounty. But when you entered my land, you defiled it; you made the land I call my own tow`ebah to me.

Again, tow`ebah is not something intrinsic of the thing itself, it has more to do with the relationship between the thing and the culture. There are many places where tow`ebah is used. It is used when Joseph tells his brothers to not say they are shepherds because it is tow`ebah to the Egyptians. The Egyptians do not eat with the Israelites because it would be tow`ebah to them.

It seems that the bible treats things as tow`ebah specifically when it is a culturally based thing that is subject to change based on when and where people find themselves.

So, in reality, Leviticus is actually saying that male homosexuality (it says nothing about female) is tow`ebah for cultural reasons. NOT A SIN AGAINST GOD.

I will quote directly from Friedman and Dolansky in their book, “The Bible Now”, page #38.

So, whatever position one takes on this matter, Left or Right,
conservative or liberal, one should acknowledge that the law really
does forbid homosexual sex, between males but not between females.
And one should recognize that the biblical prohibition is not one
that is eternal and unchanging. The prohibition in the Bible applies
only so long as male homosexual acts are perceived to be offensive.
This will depend on further presentation of evidence and arguments
about whether it is inborn or not, whether is is properly regarded as
psychologically healthy or unhealthy, and whether most people in a
community are or are not in fact offended by it. Those arguments are
for specialists in biology, psychology and culture. They are beyond
our range of expertise as Bible scholars.”

I believe this is a very serious subject. There is no victim, no harm done in same sex relations and it seems that the only reason people give is because it is a sin against god. Well, IT IS NOT A SIN AGAINST GOD. God is not up there being offended every time there is a same sex act. What he did do is prohibit for Israel as a marker for them as a people.

Usage in Leviticus

In Leviticus, tow ‘ehbah is used 6 times. The first and last times are relating to male homosexuality, but the remaining 4 times are all used in the paragraph immediately following the first paragraphs describing all sexual impurity and therefore refer to the general topic of all of the things represented in that paragraph on sexual immorality.
Therefore, each of the things in that preceding paragraph can be said to be tow ‘ehbah in one form or another. Note that one of the prohibitions in that paragraph is 18:19 “‘You must not approach a woman in her menstrual impurity 28 to have sexual intercourse with her. This is clearly a law that we have not enforced and no longer consider it to be tow’ehbah.

I contend that indeed the bible does say that we should not have homosexual relations. But a detailed study of the prohibition creates an environment were it becomes obvious that we are interpreting what it does say incorrectly.

 Here are all the occurrences in the Old Testament

Book Relates to: Passage
Genesis Egyptians say this of Hebrews  Gen 43:32 They set a place for
him, a separate place for his brothers, and another for the Egyptians who
were eating with him. (The Egyptians are not able to eat with Hebrews, for
the Egyptians think it is disgusting to do so.)
Genesis Egyptians say this of Hebrews  Gen 46:34 Tell him, ‘Your
servants have taken care of cattle from our youth until now, both we and our
fathers,’ so that you may live in the land of Goshen, for everyone who takes
care of sheep is disgusting to the Egyptians.”
Exodus Egyptians say this of Hebrews  Exo 8:26 But Moses said, “That
would not be the right thing to do, for the sacrifices we make to the Lord
our God would be an abomination to the Egyptians. If we make sacrifices that
are an abomination to the Egyptians right before their eyes, will they not
stone us?
Leviticus Male Homosexuality Lev 18:22 You must not have
sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it
is a detestable act.
Leviticus Male Homosexuality Lev 20:13 If a man has sexual
intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, the two
of them have committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood
guilt is on themselves.
Leviticus Various outlawed practices Lev 18:26 You yourselves must
obey my statutes and my regulations and must not do any of these
abominations, both the native citizen and the resident foreigner in your
midst,
Leviticus Various outlawed practices Lev 18:27 for the people who
were in the land before you have done all these abominations, and the land
has become unclean.
Leviticus Various outlawed practices Lev 18:29 For if anyone does any
of these abominations, the persons who do them will be cut off from the midst
of their people.
Leviticus Various outlawed practices Lev 18:30 You must obey my
charge to not practice any of the abominable statutes that have been done
before you, so that you do not defile yourselves by them. I am the Lord your
God.’”
Deuteronomy Animals not eaten by law Deu 14:3 You must not eat any
forbidden thing.
Deuteronomy Cross dressing (male/female) Deu 22:5 A woman must not wear
men’s clothing, nor should a man dress up in women’s clothing, for anyone who
does this is offensive to the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy Dishonest units of measure Deu 25:16 For anyone who acts
dishonestly in these ways is abhorrent to the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy Foriegn religious practices Deu 12:31 You must not worship
the Lord your God the way they do! For everything that is abhorrent to him,
everything he hates, they have done when worshiping their gods. They even
burn up their sons and daughters before their gods!
Deuteronomy Foriegn religious practices Deu 13:14 You must investigate
thoroughly and inquire carefully. If it is indeed true that such a
disgraceful thing is being done among you,
Deuteronomy Foriegn religious practices Deu 17:4 When it is reported to
you and you hear about it, you must investigate carefully. If it is indeed
true that such a disgraceful thing is being done in Israel,
Deuteronomy Foriegn religious practices Deu 18:9 When you enter the land
the Lord your God is giving you, you must not learn the abhorrent practices
of those nations.
Deuteronomy Foriegn religious practices Deu 18:12 Whoever does these
things is abhorrent to the Lord and because of these detestable things the
Lord your God is about to drive them out from before you.
Deuteronomy Foriegn religious practices Deu 20:18 so that they cannot
teach you all the abhorrent ways they worship their gods, causing you to sin
against the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy Idols of other gods Deu 7:25 You must burn the
images of their gods, but do not covet the silver and gold that covers them
so much that you take it for yourself and thus become ensnared by it; for it
is abhorrent to the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy Idols of other gods Deu 7:26 You must not bring any
abhorrent thing into your house and thereby become an object of divine wrath
along with it. You must absolutely detest and abhor it, for it is an object
of divine wrath.
Deuteronomy Idols of other gods Deu 27:15 ‘Cursed is the one who
makes a carved or metal image – something abhorrent to the Lord, the work of
the craftsman – and sets it up in a secret place.’ Then all the people will
say, ‘Amen!’
Deuteronomy Idols of other gods Deu 32:16 They made him jealous
with other gods, they enraged him with abhorrent idols.
Deuteronomy Imperfect Animals Deu 17:1 You must not sacrifice
to him a bull or sheep that has a blemish or any other defect, because that
is considered offensive to the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy Money from prostitution Deu 23:18 You must never bring
the pay of a female prostitute or the wage of a male prostitute into the
temple of the Lord your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both of these are
abhorrent to the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy Remarriage (overtly said to be
ritually impure)
Deu 24:4 her first husband who
divorced her is not permitted to remarry her after she has become ritually
impure, for that is offensive to the Lord. You must not bring guilt on the
land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
1 Kings Foriegn religious practices 1Ki 14:24 There were also male
cultic prostitutes in the land. They committed the same horrible sins as the
nations that the Lord had driven out from before the Israelites.
2 Kings Foriegn religious practices 2Ki 16:3 He followed in the
footsteps of the kings of Israel. He passed his son through the fire, a
horrible sin practiced by the nations whom the Lord drove out from before the
Israelites.
2 Kings Foriegn religious practices 2Ki 21:2 He did evil in the
sight of the Lord and committed the same horrible sins practiced by the
nations whom the Lord drove out from before the Israelites.
2 Kings Foriegn religious practices 2Ki 21:11 “King Manasseh of
Judah has committed horrible sins. He has sinned more than the Amorites
before him and has encouraged Judah to sin by worshiping his disgusting
idols.
2 Kings Foriegn religious practices 2Ki 23:13 The king ruined the
high places east of Jerusalem, south of the Mount of Destruction, that King
Solomon of Israel had built for the detestable Sidonian goddess Astarte, the
detestable Moabite god Chemosh, and the horrible Ammonite god Milcom.
2 Chronicles Foriegn religious practices 2Ch 28:3 He offered sacrifices
in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom and passed his sons through the fire, a horrible
sin practiced by the nations whom the Lord drove out before the Israelites.
2 Chronicles Foriegn religious practices 2Ch 33:2 He did evil in the
sight of the Lord and committed the same horrible sins practiced by the
nations whom the Lord drove out ahead of the Israelites.
2 Chronicles Foriegn religious practices 2Ch 36:14 All the leaders of the
priests and people became more unfaithful and committed the same horrible
sins practiced by the nations. They defiled the Lord’s temple which he had
consecrated in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles Generalized Sin 2Ch 36:8 The rest of the events
of Jehoiakim’s reign, including the horrible sins he committed and his
shortcomings, are recorded in the Scroll of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
His son Jehoiachin replaced him as king.
2 Chronicles Idols of other gods 2Ch 34:33 Josiah removed all the
detestable idols from all the areas belonging to the Israelites and
encouraged all who were in Israel to worship the Lord their God. Throughout
the rest of his reign they did not turn aside from following the Lord God of their
ancestors.
Ezra Foriegn religious practices Ezr 9:1 Now when these things
had been completed, the leaders approached me and said, “The people of
Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the
local residents who practice detestable things similar to those of the Canaanites,
the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the
Egyptians, and the Amorites.
Ezra Foriegn religious practices Ezr 9:11 which you commanded us
through your servants the prophets with these words: ‘The land that you are
entering to possess is a land defiled by the impurities of the local
residents! With their abominations they have filled it from one end to the other
with their filthiness.
Ezra Foriegn religious practices Ezr 9:14 Shall we once again
break your commandments and intermarry with these abominable peoples? Would
you not be so angered by us that you would wipe us out, with no survivor or
remnant?
Psalms Distasteful person (non
specific)
Psa 88:8 You cause those who
know me to keep their distance; you make me an appalling sight to them. I am
trapped and cannot get free.
Proverbs Dishonest units of measure Pro 11:1 The Lord abhors
dishonest scales, but an accurate weight is his delight.
Proverbs Dishonest units of measure Pro 20:10 Diverse weights and
diverse measures – the Lord abhors both of them.
Proverbs Dishonest units of measure Pro 20:23 The Lord abhors
differing weights, and dishonest scales are wicked.
Proverbs Distasteful person (non
specific)
Pro 3:32 for one who goes astray
is an abomination to the Lord, but he reveals his intimate counsel to the
upright.
Proverbs Foriegn religious practices Pro 15:8 The Lord abhors the
sacrifices of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
Proverbs Generalized Sin Pro 6:16 There are six things
that the Lord hates, even seven things that are an abomination to him:
Proverbs People who are arrogant Pro 16:5 The Lord abhors every
arrogant person; rest assured that they will not go unpunished.
Proverbs People who are scornful Pro 24:9 A foolish scheme is
sin, and the scorner is an abomination to people.
Proverbs People who are unjust Pro 29:27 An unjust person is an
abomination to the righteous, and the one who lives an upright life is an
abomination to the wicked.
Proverbs People who judge wrongly Pro 17:15 The one who acquits
the guilty and the one who condemns the innocent – both of them are an
abomination to the Lord.
Proverbs People who like evil Pro 13:19 A desire fulfilled is
sweet to the soul, but fools abhor turning away from evil.
Proverbs People who like evil Pro 15:9 The Lord abhors the way
of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
Proverbs People who like evil Pro 15:26 The Lord abhors the
plans of the wicked, but pleasant words are pure.
Proverbs People who like evil Pro 16:12 Doing wickedness is an
abomination to kings, because a throne is established in righteousness.
Proverbs People who tell lies Pro 12:22 The Lord abhors a
person who lies, but those who deal truthfully are his delight.
Proverbs People who will not follow the
law
Pro 28:9 The one who turns away
his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
Proverbs Peoples thoughts who hate others Pro 26:25 When he speaks
graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations within him.
Proverbs Ritual acts of worship Pro 21:27 The wicked person’s
sacrifice is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil
intent!
Proverbs Twisted mind Pro 11:20 The Lord abhors those
who are perverse in heart, but those who are blameless in their ways are his
delight.
Proverbs Untruth Pro 8:7 For my mouth speaks
truth, and my lips hate wickedness.
Isaiah Foriegn religious practices Isa 1:13 Do not bring any more
meaningless offerings; I consider your incense detestable! You observe new
moon festivals, Sabbaths, and convocations, but I cannot tolerate sin-stained
celebrations!
Isaiah Idols of other gods Isa 44:19 No one thinks to
himself, nor do they comprehend or understand and say to themselves: ‘I
burned half of it in the fire – yes, I baked bread over the coals; I roasted
meat and ate it. With the rest of it should I make a disgusting idol? Should
I bow down to dry wood?’
Isaiah People worshiping foreign gods Isa 41:24 Look, you are nothing,
and your accomplishments are nonexistent; the one who chooses to worship you
is disgusting.
Jeremiah Foriegn religious practices Jer 7:10 Then you come and stand
in my presence in this temple I have claimed as my own and say, “We are
safe!” You think you are so safe that you go on doing all those hateful sins!
Jeremiah Foriegn religious practices Jer 44:4 I sent my servants the
prophets to you people over and over again warning you not to do this
disgusting thing I hate.
Jeremiah Foriegn religious practices Jer 44:22 Finally the Lord could
no longer endure your wicked deeds and the disgusting things you did. That is
why your land has become the desolate, uninhabited ruin that it is today.
That is why it has become a proverbial example used in curses.
Jeremiah Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Jer 32:35 They built places of
worship for the god Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that they could
sacrifice their sons and daughters to the god Molech. Such a disgusting
practice was not something I commanded them to do! It never even entered my
mind to command them to do such a thing! So Judah is certainly liable for
punishment.’
Jeremiah Idols of other gods Jer 2:7 I brought you into a
fertile land so you could enjoy its fruits and its rich bounty. But when you
entered my land, you defiled it; you made the land I call my own loathsome to
me.
Jeremiah Idols of other gods Jer 16:18 Before I restore them
I will punish them in full for their sins and the wrongs they have done. For
they have polluted my land with the lifeless statues of their disgusting
idols. They have filled the land I have claimed as my own with their detestable
idols.”
Jeremiah People who are greedy Jer 6:15 Are they ashamed
because they have done such shameful things? No, they are not at all ashamed.
They do not even know how to blush! So they will die, just like others have
died. They will be brought to ruin when I punish them,” says the Lord.
Jeremiah People who are greedy Jer 8:12 Are they ashamed
because they have done such disgusting things? No, they are not at all
ashamed! They do not even know how to blush! So they will die just like
others have died. They will be brought to ruin when I punish them, says the
Lord.
Ezekiel Adultery Eze 22:11 One commits an
abominable act with his neighbor’s wife; another obscenely defiles his
daughter-in-law; another violates his sister – his father’s daughter – within
you.
Ezekiel Adultery Eze 33:26 You rely on your
swords and commit abominable deeds; each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife.
Will you possess the land?’
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 7:3 The end is now upon you,
and I will release my anger against you; I will judge you according to your
behavior, I will hold you accountable for all your abominable practices.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 7:4 My eye will not pity
you; I will not spare you. For I will hold you responsible for your behavior,
and you will suffer the consequences of your abominable practices. Then you
will know that I am the Lord!
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 7:8 Soon now I will pour out
my rage on you; I will fully vent my anger against you. I will judge you
according to your behavior. I will hold you accountable for all your
abominable practices.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 7:9 My eye will not pity
you; I will not spare you. For your behavior I will hold you accountable, and
you will suffer the consequences of your abominable practices. Then you will
know that it is I, the Lord, who is striking you.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 8:6 He said to me, “Son of
man, do you see what they are doing – the great abominations that the people
of Israel are practicing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you
will see greater abominations than these!”
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 8:9 He said to me, “Go in
and see the evil abominations they are practicing here.”
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 8:13 He said to me, “You
will see them practicing even greater abominations!”
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 8:15 He said to me, “Do you
see this, son of man? You will see even greater abominations than these!”
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 8:17 He said to me, “Do you
see, son of man? Is it a trivial thing that the house of Judah commits these
abominations they are practicing here? For they have filled the land with
violence and provoked me to anger still further. Look, they are putting the
branch to their nose!
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 9:4 The Lord said to him,
“Go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the
people who moan and groan over all the abominations practiced in it.”
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 11:18 “When they return to
it, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its
abominations.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 11:21 But those whose hearts
are devoted to detestable things and abominations, I hereby repay them for
what they have done, says the sovereign Lord.”
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 12:16 But I will let a small
number of them survive the sword, famine, and pestilence, so that they can
confess all their abominable practices to the nations where they go. Then
they will know that I am the Lord.”
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 14:6 “Therefore say to the
house of Israel, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Return! Turn from
your idols, and turn your faces away from your abominations.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices Eze 44:7 When you bring
foreigners, those uncircumcised in heart and in flesh, into my sanctuary, you
desecrate it – even my house – when you offer my food, the fat and the blood.
You have broken my covenant by all your abominable practices.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 16:2 “Son of man, confront
Jerusalem with her abominable practices
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 16:22 And with all your
abominable practices and prostitution you did not remember the days of your
youth when you were naked and bare, kicking around in your blood.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 16:43 “‘Because you did not
remember the days of your youth and have enraged me with all these deeds, I
hereby repay you for what you have done, declares the sovereign Lord. Have
you not engaged in prostitution on top of all your other abominable practices?
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 16:47 Have you not copied
their behavior and practiced their abominable deeds? In a short time you
became even more depraved in all your conduct than they were!
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 16:50 They were haughty and
practiced abominable deeds before me. Therefore when I saw it I removed them.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 16:51 Samaria has not
committed half the sins you have; you have done more abominable deeds than
they did. You have made your sisters appear righteous with all the abominable
things you have done.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 16:58 You must bear your
punishment for your obscene conduct and your abominable practices, declares
the Lord.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 18:12 oppresses the poor and
the needy, commits robbery, does not give back what was given in pledge,
prays to idols, performs abominable acts,
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 18:13 engages in usury and
charges interest. Will he live? He will not! Because he has done all these
abominable deeds he will certainly die. He will bear the responsibility for
his own death.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 18:24 “But if a righteous
man turns away from his righteousness and practices wrongdoing according to
all the abominable practices the wicked carry out, will he live? All his
righteous acts will not be remembered; because of the unfaithful acts he has
done and the sin he has committed, he will die.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 20:4 “Are you willing to
pronounce judgment? Are you willing to pronounce judgment, son of man? Then
confront them with the abominable practices of their fathers,
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 22:2 “As for you, son of
man, are you willing to pronounce judgment, are you willing to pronounce
judgment on the bloody city? Then confront her with all her abominable deeds!
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 23:36 The Lord said to me:
“Son of man, are you willing to pronounce judgment on Oholah and Oholibah?
Then declare to them their abominable deeds!
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 33:29 Then they will know
that I am the Lord when I turn the land into a desolate ruin because of all
the abominable deeds they have committed.’
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 36:31 Then you will remember
your evil behavior and your deeds which were not good; you will loathe
yourselves on account of your sins and your abominable deeds.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 43:8 When they placed their
threshold by my threshold and their doorpost by my doorpost, with only the
wall between me and them, they profaned my holy name by the abominable deeds
they committed. So I consumed them in my anger.
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 44:6 Say to the rebellious,
to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Enough of all
your abominable practices, O house of Israel!
Ezekiel Foriegn religious practices -
including child sacrifice
Eze 44:13 They will not come
near me to serve me as priest, nor will they come near any of my holy things,
the things which are most sacred. They will bear the shame of the abominable
deeds they have committed.
Ezekiel Idols of other gods Eze 5:11 “Therefore, as surely
as I live, says the sovereign Lord, because you defiled my sanctuary with all
your detestable idols and with all your abominable practices, I will
withdraw; my eye will not pity you, nor will I spare you.
Ezekiel Idols of other gods Eze 6:9 Then your survivors will
remember me among the nations where they are exiled. They will realize how I
was crushed by their unfaithful heart which turned from me and by their eyes
which lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves because of the
evil they have done and because of all their abominable practices.
Ezekiel Idols of other gods Eze 7:20 They rendered the
beauty of his ornaments into pride, and with it they made their abominable
images – their detestable idols. Therefore I will render it filthy to them.
Ezekiel Idols of other gods Eze 16:36 This is what the
sovereign Lord says: Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness was
uncovered in your prostitution with your lovers, and because of all your
detestable idols, and because of the blood of your children you have given to
them,
Ezekiel People not following the Law Eze 5:9 I will do to you what I
have never done before and will never do again because of all your abominable
practices.
Ezekiel People not following the Law Eze 6:11 “‘This is what the
sovereign Lord says: Clap your hands, stamp your feet, and say, “Ah!” because
of all the evil, abominable practices of the house of Israel, for they will
fall by the sword, famine, and pestilence.
Malachi Foriegn religious practices Mal 2:11 Judah has become
disloyal, and unspeakable sins have been committed in Israel and Jerusalem.
For Judah has profaned the holy things that the Lord loves and has turned to
a foreign god!

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The Secret of Success

by Dave on August 3, 2012

in General

I keep a placard on my desk with the secrets of success and thought I should share them.

The Secret of Success…

 

is that it is not the absence of failure, but the absence of envy.

Herodotus

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Albert Einstein

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.

Mark Twain

Whatever you do , or dream you can do, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage.

Robert Louis Stevenson

There is no education like adversity.

Benjamin Disraeli

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

T.S. Elliot

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Are Chickens Real?

by Dave on June 14, 2012

in General, Theology

I find myself getting into (internet) conversations rather frequently with people who believe that they can somehow know the truth about something in religion.  Generally, I find these folks who don’t like my interpretation of something in the bible, and they say something like “you have to be true to the word of god!  You are contorting god’s word! ”  or something like that.   They say that they, on the other hand, live under the authority of the bible and that I should too.

I explain to them that I do live under the bible, its just that my interpretation is different than theirs.  For instance, I don’t believe that the world was created anytime in the past 10,000 or 20,000 years or that it was in 6 days or in 6 periods of 1,000 days or anything like that.  I also don’t believe that there ever was a literal Adam or Eve or a garden of Eden, let alone a talking snake!  And guess what!  I believe that the bible supports my view and that my view is closer to the truth than theirs.

This seems to be a difficult concept for so many Christians to understand.  They think that how they interpret the bible is god’s word, yet anyone else who interprets it differently is twisting the bible and going against god’s word.

In the latest incarnation of this debate we were discussing the role of imagination in our perception of the world.  I was contending that pretty much all we do is imagine, that we really do not have direct access to truth in the world.  As an example I said that if I see a tree, what I am doing is making an imaginary picture based on electrical signals coming from my eyes.  And my eyes produced the electrical signals due to light hitting them.  So what I have access to is my interpretation, my imagination of the object that I assume light bounced from.

But of course, if someone were feeding electrical impulses to my brain just like the ones my eyes produce, then I would still see the tree, even though it is not there.

Just as you cannot directly see the tree, you also do not have access to absolute truth.  Or, there is no such thing as absolute truth to us.

My conversation partner clearly does not like that view.  He says that he can read the bible and see what it says and that the bible has absolute truths in it.  The problem is that even if the bible does contain absolute truths, he can never claim to know them.  The reason is that each of us can only see the world through our own perspective.  None of us are in a privileged position where we can know what is true and what is not.

 The best we can do is apply our reason to texts like the bible to come up with what we think is a rational notion of the truth.

Now, this brings up another rhetorical ploy of the biblicist.  They will immediately shout that you are putting your own thoughts above god’s!  What they fail to understand, and I wish I could figure out how to make them understand, is that they too are doing exactly the same thing.  The think that they know what the bible is telling them, but it is only their interpretation of what they are reading.  Or in the case of most of these folks, it is their interpretation of an interpretation made to translate multiple non-original documents written in a dead language over 2,000 years ago into our language and our society.

So, to help explain the idea to them that there is no absolute truth, I wrote the following fun reply and thought I would share it.

Are Chickens Real?  (or is there a true chicken to be known)

My daughter and I are raising a new batch of chickens this spring and they are nearly full grown now. We keep them in a coop in the back yard while they are young, and will be free range as they get older. Click the picture to see an enlarged version of what I am talking about.

Well, the dog in the picture is Freckles and she has had an interesting reaction to these new chickens. You see, we had chickens before and she never really bothered them. The chickens and her would simply ignore each other.

But when the chicks were young and we started keeping them in the coop, she would immediately throw herself against the wire on the coop and run around trying to get them and eat them. It was obvious that her brain saw these chicks and could only see them as one thing, a tasty meal that she must, absolutely must get.

My daughter and I were a bit shocked by this since she really did not do that to the other chickens. But after some research and thinking we realized that it was the peeping noise that the chicks made. The peep when they are young, and then start to cluck when they get older. That peeping noise was an obvious signal to her to eat them.

As time went on, the chicks start clucking, and now they only cluck. No more peep noises. But Freckles still attacks them in the coop and thinks they are food! Hmmmm.

Well, Nikki and I determined it was time to take the next step in chicken raising, so we put the chickens in the garden. You can see the garden behind the coop in the picture. We were a bit worried about Freckles because she was absolutely viscous toward them and the fence for the garden is not exactly bullet proof.

Much to our surprise, when we let Freckles out to see the chickens in the garden she totally ignored them! Worse yet, she would walk by them, wag her tail, then proceed to go over to the empty coop and freak out trying to find those good things to eat. She did not recognize that the chickens in the garden are the same ones that were in the coop, and the ones in the coop were food, but the ones in the garden are not.

It was an amazing experiment and we have more experiments to do on this, but I would like to relate this to this post (finally….. ;) )

First, it is clear that there is such a thing as a chicken that we all can agree to. But Freckles has two different subjective views of that chicken, and I pretty sure they both are different than my subjective view. Her view that the chickens in the chicken tractor are clearly interpreted by her as “food that I must eat”, but the same chickens in the garden are “chickens that I ignore”.

The two concepts for Freckles are just like it is for any of us. Each of us has our own contextualized version of what a chicken, or tree, or god, or bible, or sin is and they are all different. None of us is smart enough nor omniscient enough to know what the true chicken is like.

So, it is vital that we realize this when we talk to other people. Someone’s pet chicken may be a mouthwatering lunch to someone else. We need to be open to the fact that the objective truth is probably unattainable to either of us, but we can work together to try and get there.

I hope you enjoyed this, it is quite important that we all understand how we fit into the world.

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I love the article on what is wrong with the SBC here.

Here is the response I wrote that I think was censored by the site…..

This post seems to exemplify the problem more than provide a solution, in my view. Every one of the six points is sufficiently vague that only those “in the know” and the real Southern baptists will know exaclty what is being discussed.

A Calvinist will read 1-5 and think that they should be telling people how homophobic complementarian positions are founded on sound biblical doctrine and that they should now step up and go out there to let people know that the world is coming apart and we need to get past the basics here. And while they are at it, they should not reminiss about the old days where gays were not allowed and women knew they place without asking.

And the non-Calvinist will feel that it is good that we finally will allow the message of love and acceptance be the norm, and for those who do not show the love we will have to discipline them, somehow, to show that their old fashioned and non-biblically based ideas will not have a place in the SBC of the future.

The only group you chose to ourgroup explicitly was the post moderns who you totally presented a characiture that is not even close to what it means to be a post modern.

This is what is wrong with the SBC.

I live in rural Virginia and was a trustee, finance member, occasional lecturer in service etc of a church that existed (as I later learned) because of the constant fear that the Calvinists would come in and try to take over the church. They were so fearful of that, and continue to be, that they hid the actual founding documents from the members so that no one can come in and force a vote on theology.

Add to all of that the Baptist Banner rag that circulates around the state http://www.baptistbanner.org/

And there you have a culture of ingrouping some, while a subversive element of Calvinists intent on trying to take the denomination over and political publications like the Baptist Banner meant to further consolidate the position with the Republicans.

What’s wrong with the SBC? Sheesh. Open your eyes.

Afterward I also added something like the following, though I did not save the exact text I wrote.

….additionally, the SBC has had a rather public and well documented political battle for control of the the denomination over the past several decades. What makes us think that the battles would not continue? Here is a good summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Baptist_Convention_conservative_resurgence

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I have written before (A New Universalism, No One is going to Heaven) about the relationship between heaven and our life after death.  In that post I came down quite clearly on the side that heaven is not a place where we are going to go, but is the place where god lives.  I also supported that through an analysis of every verse in the New Testament where heaven is mentioned.

But, many people look at the thief on the cross and believe that Jesus is indeed referring to heaven when he says “today you will be with me in paradise”.  This says a couple of things.  First, it says that it will be today  and second that Jesus will be wherever this place is located.

N.T. Wright has discussed his view of life after life after death on many occasions and most notably (for common folks like us) in his book Surprised by Hope which I highly recommend.  In there he does refer to this life after death as being in paradise, and in being with Jesus.  I believe that Wright comes down on the side that it is still a bit of a mystery since all we have are sign posts pointing to what that future will be like, and no clear pictures of the actual location.

I also watched this video N.T. Wright – Rethinking Life After Death today.

In it Wright again discussed his view on heaven, hell, the resurrection and what the core beliefs about these subjects for Christians today.  I recommend that as the best summary I have seen on the subject.  But there is something else he discusses that I found quite useful.

Literal or Metaphor?

In the video, starting at about 12:30, he discusses the use of the words metaphorical and literal as it relates to the bible and interpretation.  I find myself regularly debating the meaning of various parts of the bible and find that much of the controversy comes down to whether people think they should be interpreting a particular part as metaphor or literally.  Wright says:

“There is a problem with those words, literal and metaphoric, those are words about the way words work.  If we want to talk about the actual realities we ought to talk about concrete and abstract.  Things are either concrete, in the sense that they are actually there, solid, or they’re abstract, in which case they are ideas.”

Now that offers a bit different perspective on the debate because it gives us new vocabulary to use about the contents of particular passages.  He uses the example of Daniel 7 that has a part where 4 monsters will come out of the sea and Danial discusses what these monsters are like.  Clearly everyone would read that and recognize that there will not be 4 actual monsters coming out of the sea, those are not concrete parts of the metaphor.  But the fact that there are four of them is something that we would start to believe refers to four actual things.

People get hung up on stating that something is metaphor or literal.  This gets particularly nasty when someone refers to something like Genesis 1 as poetry.  There are many who will argue that Genesis 1 does not fit the definition of what poetry looks like in ancient Hebrew.  And I think they may be right.  But they go on to say, therefore, it cannot be metaphor and must be read literally.  At that point I disagree and Wright helps me with the language he uses in this video.

Genesis 1 is largely abstract representations of concrete happenings, in my view.  It may not be poetry, and it may be inappropriate to refer to it as only metaphor, but it seems that the concrete and abstract language applies wonderfully.

Wright does not use Genesis as the example in the video, he uses the rapture text.  He clearly feels the Thessalonians text is talking about an abstract idea, not something concrete.

I hope that this language can help.

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Garden

by Dave on March 22, 2012

in General

I am a bit late getting started on my garden, but I think I will be able to whip it into shape pretty quickly.  Here are pictures of my garden plot, my tractor and tiller.  Should whip it into shape in no time!

 

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Comments Thread 1

by Dave on March 14, 2012

in General

I have been told that it is not exactly fair to have comments on my blog blocked when I post on other people’s blogs.  I simply have the system set to shut down comments after 7 or 30 days, I forget which, because I get many more spam comments than actual blog comments.  I will try to keep one thread open for comments at all times so people can post about me here.

I welcome others to post dissenting opinions.  I certainly post dissenting opinions on other people’s blogs and would hope that people would give me the courtesy to engage me here too.  God bless.

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The Glory of God Leads Piper Astray

by Dave on February 19, 2012

in General, Theology

The younger Piper has posted about the Jeremy Lin phenomenon.  While I don’t have a problem with a basketball player being a Christian, here is an example of how the Calvinist stance in the world of seeking the “glory of god” goes astray.  I could not post a reply on his site, but was able to post this reply on Justin Taylor’s blog.

Barnabas Piper was onto something, but then he went wrong.

Yes, he was totally right that it is OK for people to compete while supporting the dignity of their opponents. He says “The truest forms of competition are not those which seek to humiliate another person or self-aggrandize.” I was on board with this.

He starts to go wrong with the attitude saying “But tension does not correlate to contradiction.” I believe Barnabas is now pushing the envelope, because a tension necessarily means that there is a tension, that there is friction, that there is a problem here or at least the warning signs of a problem. But Barnabas says no to that.

The pinnacle of the error comes at the end

“He is required to pursue excellence in the profession of basketball. Excellence is what all followers of Christ are called to pursue no matter the endeavor. God gave us talents and we are called to use them – for his glory, not our own.”

Really. Christians are supposed to be excellent no matter the endeavor? Clearly Barnabas would not support your endeavor being abortions, right? Or how about it being killing? Or, let’s say, misleading people with bad theology?

If using our talents in this world to their fullest is excellence regardless of the endeavor glorifies god then you have one sick god.

The endeavor is the thing that identifies alignment with god, not the outcome. Barnabas misses the boat.

What I see time and again is that this orientation around seeking to glorify god routinely ends up being a way to glorify the follower.  Barnabas is not right on this.

Having said all of that, I have nothing against Lin playing basketball, if he plays fair.  But to say his playing is something that promotes the glory of god misses all the things that Jesus said about who is blessed and who is not.  Barnabas Piper is wrongheaded in this.

Using our talents for to their fullest glorifies us.  Using our talents to promote god’s purposes glorifies god.

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Irreducible Complexity – Arguments Against

by Dave December 6, 2011

I’ve recently stumbled across a video series that is well done and insightful in regards to dispelling the theory that certain features of life are irreducibly complex, and therefore, must have been created.  This is an argument that I just  wish that my brothers in Christ would simply give up.  The more I see illogical [...]

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Roast Beef

by Dave November 19, 2011

I have found my beef heaven.  Between my wife and children (five of us, from college to eighth grade) I am the only one still eating beef, and that is quite unfortunate since I have finally figured out how to make roast beef the way I like it.  The way I like it is to [...]

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