July 30, 2014

My Dream of Equality

I awoke and remembered a dream in July 2013. I rarely remembered dreams during the past fifteen or so years, but I strongly remembered this dream.

In the dream, I became a world-class philosopher and theologian. I convinced all churches that marriage in the church is only for heterosexual couples. After a brief reflection on my accomplishment, I suddenly transported to another planet. On this planet, I learned that every inhabitant loved God. Some inhabitants lacked the ability for heterosexual romance and inherited the ability for strong homosexual romance while enjoying a monogamous same-sex marriage. Also, the people on this planet existed far better off than the people on Earth. The dream ended.

My first impression was to dismiss the dream. I understood that the Bible teaches that the normal pattern for marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman while typical human anatomy suggests the normalcy of heterosexual marriage. I also understood that every biblical reference to homosexual sex was a condemnation. I saw these facts as main points in a powerful argument against the legitimacy of same-sex marital covenants in the church. For a couple decades, I asserted that all Christians who long for a marital covenant and lack capability for a heterosexual romance need to limit themselves to celibacy or a heterosexual marriage. If heterosexual passions never develop despite prayer and devotionals, then Christian life for a devout believer with a homosexual orientation should include celibacy and strong chaste friendships. However, for the last several years, I supported same-sex marriage laws while I never wanted to impose all of my Christian ethics on the general population.

I also understood that Romans 1:18–32 describe a pattern of paganism-induced hyper-sinfulness including shameful sexuality. For example, this passage contains negative references to homosexual sex including the only biblical reference to lesbian sex. However, Romans 1 and the rest of New Testament never describe how a minority of chaste Christian teens develops homosexual passions during puberty while fervently praying to change those passions. Most Christian teens develop romantic passions and most develop normal heterosexual passions, but a small percentage of teens in strong Christian homes develop homosexual passions without any pagan or criminal influences in their lives.

In the spring 2012, I wrote a Theoperspectives blog series titled "Sacred Sex, Celibacy and the New Testament." When I began the series, I believed that one of my essays would unequivocally support that same-sex marriage is prohibited in the New Testament. To my surprise, I saw condemnations of various homosexual activities but no unambiguous condemnation of same-sex marriage. Despite the inexhaustive evidence, I felt no compulsion to change my view while I felt compassion for Christians with same-sex attraction who were not at least bisexual and capable of a heterosexual romance.

I believed for decades that many modern ethical issues are not directly spelled out in the Bible. For example, should a Christian heroin addict nurture or break their addiction? The answer is common sense to most people, but an exhaustive biblical concordance of any translation shows no entry for the word heroin. Likewise, Christians need to make conclusions about heroin addiction based on general biblical principles.

I believe that the Old Testament and the New Testament are the canon of God's Word. I believe that God's Word teaches that the normal pattern for marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. For decades, I assumed the New Testament prohibited exception to the normal pattern, but the apostolic church never directly addressed genuine same-sex marriages. I prayerfully and rigorously examined the Bible and my dream from July 2013. The biblical commandments to express love and compassion, the hormonal chemistry of many LGBT Christians that makes them incapable of heterosexual romance while yearning for marriage, the lack of explicit biblical condemnation of same-sex marriage, and finally my dream eventually led me to the endorsement of same-sex marriages in Christian churches. I signed up with Accepting Evangelicals http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/. I felt shocked that I changed my mind after almost three decades.

I end with one final point. Some may feel that mention of exceptions is derogatory, but that completely misses the importance of exceptions. For example, geniuses such as Einstein are exceptions.

P.S. This post continued my September 3, 2013, post http://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-dream-from-june-or-july-2013.html.

Copyright © 2014 James Edward Goetz

May 12, 2014

Romans 1:26 and Bestiality?

[Parental Warning For PG13 Content]
I always interpreted that Romans 1:26 described various lesbian activity. But Patristics indicates that some church fathers thought that the passage describes something else. This brief essay considers if the verse refers to the Old Testament prohibition of bestiality.

Consider Romans 1:24–27 NRSV:

[24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
[26] For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, [27] and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
These verses refer to pagans who worshiped creatures instead of God and consequently became dominated by degrading passions that resulted in the pagans degrading their bodies with sexual immorality. Romans 1:26 refers to women who "exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural. Then 1:27 refers to men who "committed shameless acts with men," which clearly implies promiscuous anal sex among men.

Parallelism might indicate that Romans 1:26 referred to illicit female homosexual activity because 1:27 clearly indicated illicit male homosexual activity. However, patristics never agreed on the interpretation of 1:26.

Bernadette J. Brooten in "Patristic Interpretations of Romans 1.26" documents that the church fathers rarely commented about the degrading female activity in Romans 1:26 while the few who commented were divided between two interpretations. For example, Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom said that the degrading female activity was lesbian sex while Pope Anastasius and Augustine said that the degrading female activity was some type of illicit heterosexual sex.

I propose a third possible interpretation. Romans 1.26 referred to a type of degrading sexual activity explicitely prohibited in the Old Testament. For example, the Old Testament never prohibited or mentioned any type of lesbian activity while Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 specifically prohibited illicit practices of anal sex among men. Also, 18:23 and 20:15–16 specifically prohibits both males and females from bestiality, which is unnatural intercourse with animals. If Paul in Romans 1:26–27 referred to Old Testament prohibitions, then 1:26 could not have been a reference to lesbianism but possibly a reference to bestiality.

Does anybody agree or disagree?

Bernadette J. Brooten "Patristic Interpretations of Romans 1.26," Ninth International Conference on Patristic Studies, Oxford, September 1983 (published in Studia Patristica XVIII: Papers of the 1983 Patristics Conference. Vol. I: Historica-Theologica-Gnostica-Biblica, ed. Elizabeth A. Livingstone, Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1985, 287–291), http://people.brandeis.edu/~brooten/Articles/Patrisitc_Interpretations_of_Romans_1_26.pdf.

Copyright © 2014 James Edward Goetz

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

May 8, 2014

My Links On General Partnerships

In 1990, I read about the paradoxical authority of a general partnership and saw that it was the best analogy for the the three-in-one paradox of the Trinity. I then started to informally teach this analogy. In 2010, I wrote a blog article about it and followed up with a couple brief essays. This year, I published a legal philosophy essay in THE JOURNAL JURISPRUDENCE 21 on the metaphysics of legal persons that include general partnerships. More to come....

"Natural Unity and Paradoxes of Legal Persons" (2014)

"Simple Divine Partnership and Functional Limits of the Incarnation" (2011) http://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2011/03/simple-divine-partnership-and.html

"Weak Relative Identity and the General Partnership Model of the Trinity" (2011) http://philpapers.org/archive/GOEWRI.pdf

"The Partnership Law Model of the Trinity" (2010) http://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2010/03/partnership-law-model-trinity.html