My article, “Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity” provides an extensive analysis of the key biblical, religious, and social issues relating to homosexuality. That article challenges and refutes the common traditional and conservative Christian view that homosexuality is inherently evil and sinful.
However, it is a long article (over 13,000 words). For a summary of the points in that article, I had previously directed readers to my answer to a question about homosexuality on Christianity StackExchange. I am now re-editing and republishing that answer here to make a shorter version more easily available to my readers. The nine points in this summary cover in much briefer form the major points made in the main article. I recommend that you read that article to get the full picture.
1. Homosexuality is rarely mentioned in the Bible
Homosexuality is rarely mentioned in the Bible. There are only five or six clear references to it in the Old and New Testaments combined. In comparison, the sins forbidden in the Ten Commandments receive major coverage throughout the Bible. The heavy focus on homosexuality among traditional and conservative Christians despite this scant Biblical mention of it suggests that their strong opposition to it comes from a cultural opposition to homosexuality rather than from Biblical sources.
2. The OT prohibition on men having sex with men was culture-specific
In the Old Testament, the prohibition of men having sex with men in Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 was made in a specific cultural context that no longer exists in most of today’s society. Specifically, in the ancient world marital and sexual relationships were viewed as a relationship between unequal partners. The sexual act was seen as an act of a dominant partner penetrating a submissive partner. But in ancient Hebrew culture and religion all men were seen as equal under the Law and in God’s eyes. It was therefore “detestable” (meaning culturally taboo and ritually unclean) for a man to have sex with another man because it reduced the man who was penetrated to a lower social and religious status.
Because it was based on cultural conditions that no longer exist in the Christian world, the prohibition against men having sex with men in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 is one of many Old Testament laws that no longer apply to Christians.
3. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not about homosexuality
The story of the condemnation and destruction of Sodom in Genesis 18:16–19:29 is often read by traditional Christians as a condemnation of homosexuality. However, the parallel story of the heterosexual gang rape of a woman in Judges 19 is not read as a condemnation of heterosexuality. Thus the argument that the story of Sodom should be read as a condemnation of homosexuality holds no water.
Further, in Ezekiel 16:49–50 the Bible itself states quite clearly what the sin of Sodom was—and the focus is on arrogance, self-indulgence, and lack of charity. This sets the tone for how the story of Sodom should be interpreted. In short, from a Biblical perspective the story of Sodom has little or nothing to do with homosexuality. For a fuller presentation of these points about the story of Sodom, see “What is the Sin of Sodom?”
4. Jesus and the Gospels say nothing about homosexuality
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ himself never said a word about homosexuality, positive or negative. The lack of any condemnation of homosexuality in the Gospels, where the Lord Jesus himself gives the primary teachings for the Christian Church, should give pause to those Christians who believe that homosexuality is a terrible sin.
5. Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality is also culture-specific
Paul’s condemnatory references to homosexuality in Romans 1:24–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, and 1 Timothy 1:9–11 were made in a cultural and religious context similar to that of the Old Testament condemnation of homosexual acts in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. In fact, the textual evidence is that Paul drew directly on the Holiness Code in Leviticus and on other standardized ancient lists of sins in writing those verses.
Paul, like the Old Testament writers, condemned homosexual acts because he saw it as an act of one man reducing the social and religious status of another man. This took on even more poignancy in Paul’s world, which was embedded in Roman and Greek culture. Standard Greek and Roman homosexual practice was for an older, dominant male to penetrate a younger, submissive male. Basically, all homosexual sex in the ancient world was sex between unequal partners. This ran contrary to Paul’s Hebrew- and Christian-inspired view that all men are equal under the law and in the eyes of God. Therefore Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality does not apply to the present day ideal and practice of committed, monogamous homosexual relationships between equal partners—something that was practically unknown in the ancient world.
This is not the only issue on which we now see Paul as dated by his culture. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul requires women to wear veils while praying or prophesying, and in Ephesians 6:5 he requires slaves to obey their masters. These are teachings that few if any Christians still believe are in force. So the argument that every rule Paul made still applies today holds no water.
6. There is no demonstrable harm from faithful homosexual relationships
Moving beyond strictly Biblical argument to other Christian-inspired lines of reasoning, the first point is that there is no demonstrable harm to society or to homosexuals themselves from committed, faithful, monogamous homosexual relationships.
It is unfair and unjust to condemn homosexuality based on its perversions, just as it would be unfair and unjust to condemn heterosexuality based on its perversions. A fair comparison requires us to compare the highest Christian ideal for heterosexual marriages with a similar highest Christian ideal for homosexual marriages. So the only valid basis on which to condemn homosexuality would be if committed, faithful, monogamous homosexual marriages caused some sort of evil to society or to the homosexuals themselves.
However, there is no evidence and no good argument that faithful, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships and marriages cause any real personal, social, or political harm.
And to state that homosexuals will go to hell because homosexuality is a sin is to commit the logical fallacy of assuming the result. That argument would have to first establish or assume that homosexuality is evil and a sin—which is the very issue being debated.
7. Most homosexuals are acting according to their conscience
Even if homosexuality were an evil, it would not be a sin for those who practice it in good conscience. Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains” (John 9:41). And in Romans 2:14–16 Paul says that Gentiles who are not under the law will be judged by their own consciences.
Since most sexually active homosexuals do not believe that homosexuality is a sin, but believe that it is a good thing and even blessed by God, it will not be charged to them as sin because they are living according to their conscience—and in the case of Christian homosexuals, according to their understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
8. Homosexuality cannot be “repented from”
The conclusion now generally drawn from overwhelming evidence and experience is that homosexuality is a fundamental, non-changeable trait of homosexual men and women.
Many organizations, including many Christian organizations, have tried and failed to change homosexuals into heterosexuals through prayer, repentance, therapy—including Skinnerian aversion therapy—and various other methods. Studies over time and follow-ups on these efforts show that they are an almost total failure, if not a complete failure. The most commonly cited study to the contrary, published by famed psychiatrist Robert Spitzer in 2001, was retracted by its own author in 2012. Many prominent “ex-gay” organizations have disbanded or have ceased their efforts to change homosexuals into heterosexuals.
How is this relevant to Christian views of homosexuality? If homosexuality is not a “sin” that can be “repented from,” but is a fixed, permanent part of a person’s basic humanity, it is incompatible with the love and mercy of God for homosexuality to be a sin that is punishable by eternal damnation. If something is a sin, it must be possible to repent from it. But it is not possible for homosexuals to “repent” from homosexuality. It is part of their basic nature.
9. Marriage has great spiritual benefits for homosexuals just as it does for heterosexuals
God created marriage between a man and a woman as one of the deepest and most searching and effective forums for spiritual growth and Christian rebirth or regeneration. In a growing marriage, the partners must continually examine themselves for selfishness, ego, pride, and other sins, and repent from them, in order to truly love and care for their marital partner. Marriage is therefore a gift of God for our eternal spiritual growth and wellbeing.
Gays and lesbians, however, cannot participate honestly and from the heart in heterosexual relationships. If they are going to be in a loving, committed marital relationship at all, it will be with someone of the same sex. God has placed the desire to unite with another person deeply in the human spirit. For gays and lesbians, this means uniting with someone of the same sex.
Most if not all of the spiritual benefits of marriage are the same in spiritual and Christian homosexual marriages as in spiritual and Christian heterosexual marriages. Annette and I therefore believe that it is God’s will that homosexuals who desire marriage should unite with someone of their own sex who shares common faith and values. In this relationship gays and lesbians can gain the same God-given benefits of marriage as heterosexuals can.
Annette and I believe it is God’s will that all of the people God creates and loves should be able to share in the joys and spiritual benefits of marriage. Therefore in our view, Christians who would deny homosexuals marriage are working against God’s will and against God’s eternal love for all people.
This is a brief summary of a much longer article. For the full version, providing much more detailed information, explanation, and references, please read the article “Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity.”
(Note: This post is an edited version of an answer I originally wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the original question on StackExchange here, and the StackExchange version of my answer here.)
For further reading:
I’m something of an agnostic on this matter, so I won’t speak from the perspective of a definitive attitude.
However, I do admit that there are a number of angles of the issue in which homosexuality doesn’t appear to add up. You’ve described the spiritual benefits of marriage, and within the context of heterosexual marriage we can see a complimentary union of the masculine and the feminine (however those characteristic are expressed) that most importantly lends itself to the creation of new life, which seems impossible to fully actualize within homosexual unions (and yeah, I realize this would imply problems for heterosexual couples who refuse to procreate).
And if that reflects the ideal archetype of marriage, then it seems homosexual marriage would at best be a spiritually inferior union.
Also, from a Swedenborg perspective, what kind of light would correspondence shed on the matter? If we can understand heterosexual union and reproduction through a larger view of correspondence, what would that tell us about homosexuality?
I’d recommend reading the full article if you haven’t already. As I said there, I don’t claim to understand the psychological and spiritual nature of homosexual relationships. I find it confusing. So I stick to what I know: It is not a choice on the part of homosexuals, but is a fundamental and unchangeable aspect of their character; it does no discernible damage when the same morality is applied to it as is applied to heterosexual relationships; and it is not a sin for those who engage in homosexual relations according to their own conscience.
I also don’t claim to know the correspondential nature of homosexuality. However, some of my colleagues believe that there is a male/female interplay even within homosexual relationships. The idea is that we all have both love and wisdom within us, and that they can interact with one another as psychological “opposite sexes” even if the two people in the relationship are of the same sex. In other words, the feminine in one interacts with the masculine in the other, and vice versa. It is also quite common, though not universal, for one partner in a homosexual relationship to be more feminine, and the other to be more masculine in aspect and approach.
About homosexuality being an “inferior union” compared to heterosexuality, I don’t find that to be a particularly useful distinction to make or avenue to follow. The reality is that for homosexuals, homosexual relationships are the only possible type of romantic or marital relationship. It does no good to say that it is “inferior” when it is the only game in town. Besides, for the most part, my experience of gay and lesbian relationships is that their dynamics are pretty similar to straight relationships. If they are “inferior,” I don’t see any evidence of that in the practical realities of actual gay, lesbian, and straight relationships.
As for childbearing, that is a temporary aspect of marriage anyway. No children are born to the marriages that exist in the spiritual world. Instead, marriages in heaven produce “spiritual offspring,” which are new developments of love and wisdom, good and truth, that grow out of the relationship. And that sort of “spiritual offspring” can result from homosexual relationships just as it does from heterosexual relationships, in the form of new love, new understanding, new compassion for others, and so on, that grow out of the relationship.
One of the reasons I support destigamizing homosexuality is that as long as people have religious and sociological axes to grind about homosexuality, we will never be able to study and learn about it with any real objectivity, and the conclusions we draw about it are more likely to be based on our own preconceived notions than on the reality of homosexuality as it actually exists among flesh-and-blood gays and lesbians. At some point in the future I hope we’ll be able to answer all of these questions. But that will happen only when as a culture we stop trying to impose our own intellectual and religious prejudices on homosexuality and see it for what it is, objectively and without bias. And for that to happen, we must let gays and lesbians be gays and lesbians, and not try to suppress it.
Meanwhile, it is a human and compassionate issue to accord LGBT people the same respect we accord to the majority straight population, and give them the freedom to live their lives as their heart prompts them to live—subject, of course, to the same laws as everyone else. Marriage equality, in my view, is simply a matter of human freedom, respect, and decency.
This might be an immature belief of mine but I believe that all young children start off homosexual.
Not sexually homosexual but emotionally homosexual.
Young boys are programmed to look towards other boys as role models to aid their development. They naturally spend a lot of time forming emotional and physical bonds with other males in order to discover traits about their biological gender-specific character.
You will notice that boys look towards their fathers as role models and would rather play and mingle with other boys than girls. They naturally seek out people like themselves who are in different stages of development.
I had spent a lot of my childhood growing up as an expat in a middle eastern country and because single males over there were kept away from single women, the young men would engage in behaviours that the West would consider homosexual. This includes holding hands while walking or greeting each other on the cheeks. But they were not homosexual. They used other men for their emotional and physical needs in the absence of women.
So I believe that homosexuality is a ‘defective’ state of mind when the male seeks a form of fraternity that was either unavailable to them when they were younger or when the fraternity is all they will ever have.
I don’t believe that a boy would resort to homosexuality unless something upsets this ‘natural dynamic’ like an absent father.
I think the bible calls for men to be ultra-male. It takes a lot of courage and motivation to leave the fraternity and be a caretaker/provider to a woman. Only some are ‘eunuch’ out of service to God and community.
I look at the redPill/men’s right movements and I see a form of homosexuality encouraged where fraternity is encouraged instead of commitment to one woman.
There’s a difference between a friendship and a sexual relationship. “Not sexually homosexual” is a contradiction in terms. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation. It is defined as a sexual attraction between members of the same sex.
Did those single men in a Middle Eastern country engage in sexual relations with one another? Holding hands is not inherently sexual. It is common behavior for people who have an affection for each other, regardless of whether that affection is sexual. Kissing each other on the cheek as a greeting is a common non-sexual greeting in many cultures—as reflected in the Bible itself.
Heterosexual men also commonly have male friends that they hang out with and play sports, go hunting, drink at the bar, play chess with, and so on. And heterosexual women have women friends that they hang out with and do “girl things” with. There is nothing sexual about it. We humans have various emotional needs, not only sexual ones. We are a social animal. And we don’t have sex with, or sexual attraction for, all of the people we interact with socially, whether male or female.
Homosexuality is not a seeking of “fraternity” or brotherly friendship. Homosexuality is specifically a sexual and romantic attraction to someone of the same sex. It is quite distinct from same-sex friendships, which are almost universal among homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. Homosexuality is not a “defective” state of mind in which fraternity is sought with other men instead of with women, because it is not essentially a friendship at all. Of course, as with heterosexual relationships, homosexual partners are commonly friends as well as lovers. But it is the lovers part that makes them homosexual, not the friends part.
The red pill / men’s movement is composed mostly of heterosexual men. They’re not engaging in sexual liaisons with one another. The part of the men’s movement that eschews women is essentially a secular-based form of celibacy. It’s adherents avoid women because they’ve got an axe to grind against women, not because they want to switch their sexual orientation to men.
The Bible does not particularly “call for men to be ultra-male” if that means being a caretaker / provider to a woman. First of all, polygamy was common in Bible times—especially in Old Testament times. And really, the women were more caretakers of the men than the other way around. Women’s primary functions were to serve men and to produce male heirs for men. Men did not really “provide for” women in the sense of going out and earning the money that supported women. Rather, women worked the flocks, herds, and crops just as men did, and provided essential labor without which the men would have found it difficult to survive. The male-provider household is really a rather recent thing, and probably existed as a widespread norm only for a few decades in the post-war boom of the mid-20th century.
Paul is heavily criticized by many gender equality advocates today for his statements making woman subject to man. But that was just standard cultural stuff in his day. What’s more remarkable is Paul calling for men to care for women, respect them as the men respect themselves, and so on. In saying these sorts of things, Paul was moving toward a very different concept of the relationship between men and women than had existed as a rule in Old Testament times. He didn’t go as far as many go today, seeing men and women as fully equal, but he made some major strides in that direction.
In short, the very idea of a man being a “caretaker / provider to a woman” is a rather late development in the Bible, and remained a largely unrealized ideal throughout most of the history of Christianity. I would recommend to your reading Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz.
But Lee I am not saying that friendship and homosexuality are equal. Rather many men resort to fraternity/friendship-based relationships in lieu of a relationship with a woman.
I don’t want to use the word ‘inferior’ like Rami does but it is a lower form of relationship which they settle on. One that is not an as fulfilling as that with a woman. I hope you can at least agree on that.
Often men who use fraternity as their relationship-base settle for less and remain unfulfilled.
They submit to another man. They share their deep emotions/feelings to them and they physically comfort each other by pats on the back, etc. All which should be reserved for their wives.
I remember reading that Swedenborg said that wives are like psychologists to men; helping arrange their thoughts.
How could a man ‘naturally’ want to love another man otherwise. There is a functional nature to love and in this case the fraternity fulfils it in some way.
You look at Sodom and Gomorra and they were a fraternity.
Sodom and Gomorrah were not a fraternity. They were cities full of horrible people who thought it would be a good time to gang rape a couple of visitors staying in their town. These were not Shriners. Nor were Sodom and Gomorrah male-only towns, nor did the men of Sodom and Gomorrah eschew relationships with women. The story mentions Lot’s “sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters” (Genesis 19:14).
But to your main point, when heterosexual men decide to avoid women and hang out with male friends instead, I agree that that’s a lesser relationship than a good and loving marriage with a woman. However, that’s a totally different thing than gay men forming marriages with one another. Marriage is not the same as friendship, whether it is an opposite-sex marriage or a same-sex marriage.
Friendship and marriage are two very different things.
Lee, I accept your point that friendship and marriage are different.
It’s just that from my study of the bible, there seems to be a difference between a biological male and a Christian man.
Traditionally the Christian man is defined in contrast to the Christian woman. The Christian man is one who matches a set of gender roles laid down functionally. The most important of which is to lead the family.
Now I know from previous conversations that you do not accept hierarchy but do accept gender roles and I respect that.
It’s just that according to this traditional perspective, the gay man who submits to another man cannot fall into the Christian man category.
My question to you is can the full spectrum of natural masculinity and femininity be explored in a homosexual relationship? Or is it important that such a spectrum is explored for a good marriage?
Because the traditional Christian view seems to want the ultra masculine character to ideally pair up with the ultra feminine character so that both could complete each other.
You seem to indicate that vaginal sex is similar chemically, biologically and mentally to other forms of sex such as anal in that there are all a form of subjugation of a partner to another. Similarly on the surface, child bearing seems superior to adoption/artificial means.
The “traditional Christian” view of man, woman, and gender roles is based on the same 2,000+ year old view of gender roles described in the main article on homosexuality, which is the basis for the rejection not only of homosexual relationships, but also heterosexual relationships based on equality between the sexes rather than domination (by the man) and submission (by the woman). As such, I believe it represents a much lesser ideal of marriage than God’s ultimate ideal of marriage. For more on this, please see these two articles:
Traditional and conservative Christians will admit that many of the laws given in the Old Testament are no longer binding on Christians. However, they generally maintain that any law given in the New Testament, and especially in the letters of Paul, remains in force. And such Christians generally get their view of gender roles in marriage and in society as a whole primarily from Paul’s letters.
However, it is a fallacy to think that everything Paul said in his letters is still binding today, and that nothing he said was given for the particular culture, and cultural situation, in which he lived. There are many things in Paul’s letters that were specific to the culture and gender roles that existed in his society. Paul was, after all, the product of a culture that existed 2,000 years ago, not of today’s culture. And in order to teach the people he was addressing, he had to address them in terms of the culture and practice of his day.
The reality is that no Christian church or group today follows even Paul 100%. Traditional and conservative Christians pick and choose which statements of Paul they will emphasize and enforce, and which statements they will de-emphasize and not enforce, or not follow at all.
Although some Christian groups follow some of these rules, the reality is that no Christian group today follows all of the rules that Paul laid down. If you look at the various traditional Christian groups and denominations, you will find that there is a miscellaneous hodgepodge of which rules they follow and which rules they don’t. And that’s just the rules given in Paul’s letters. If you widen it to include the entire New Testament, the reality that no Christian group follows every rule given in the New Testament becomes even more stark.
So the idea that the gender roles articulated in Paul’s letters represent some undeniable and eternal rule of how men and women must interact with each other cannot be sustained. Paul, like the other human authors of the Bible, had to speak to the culture of his day, according to the existing cultural realities of his day. Attempting to make his statements binding on all people in all cultures throughout all time is a fine example of adhering to the letter, which kills, and ignoring the spirit behind the letter, which gives life (2 Corinthians 3:5–6)
In Paul’s day and age, the rules he gave about men, women, and gender roles were a major step forward from what had existed before. He taught that men should love, honor, and respect their wives, not mistreat them, and so on—all things that were rather uncommon in that day and age, in which men were commonly considered to be absolute rulers of their wives, and could do almost anything they wanted to their wives, including beat them, divorce them, take additional wives, and so on, at will.
However, society has made significant progress since Paul’s times 2,000 years ago. And in particular, society has taken major strides forward in the last few centuries, and especially in the last century. Society has now progressed far beyond the culture that existed in Paul’s day when it comes to respect for women and a belief that women are equal to men in God’s eyes and in the eyes of society and the law. We have traveled in the direction that Paul was moving toward, beyond anything even Paul himself could have understood—since he, too, was a product of his times.
In short, although Paul represented a step forward in gender roles compared to the culture of his day, following everything Paul said in today’s culture would represent a major step backwards. And I believe that’s precisely what traditional and conservative Christians are doing when they attempt to assert the gender roles that existed in Bible times, and are articulated in Paul’s letters, as binding upon men and women today.
Specifically, as I cover much more fully in the two articles linked at the beginning of this comment, I believe that man being the “head” of or ruler over woman represents a lesser ideal of marriage and gender roles than the currently emerging ideal of man and woman being fully equal in society and in relationship to one another. I believe this emerging ideal is a return to the original equality between male and female represented in the first creation story, when God created humans male and female together, both in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26–27). For a much fuller presentation of this, once again, see the two articles about man and woman linked at the beginning of this comment.
In general, homosexual relationships today do not fit into the old, lesser (in my view) standard where one partner must submit to the other. Yes, some do. But most people involved in same-sex marriage see themselves as equal partners with one another rather than being in the “traditional Christian” mode of one partner being the dominant partner and the other being the submissive partner. So most gay marriages don’t follow the pattern you have indicated of one man submitting himself to another man.
This issue, and the lack of gender equality in the marriages of both Old and New Testament times, is precisely why homosexuality was rejected in the Bible: because its writers could not even conceive of heterosexual marriage as a relationship between equals. So they necessarily saw same-sex sexual relations as inherently unequal, which was unacceptable both in ancient Jewish culture and in the emerging Christian culture of the New Testament, which saw all men as equal legally, socially, and in the eyes of God. And in point of fact, homosexuality as it was practiced in ancient times was overwhelmingly, if not universally, an unequal relationship. All of this is covered in much more detail in the main article on homosexuality.
Today’s mainstream Western views of marriage and of gender roles are very different than they were 2,000 and more years ago. Today, men and women are increasingly seen as equal legally, socially, and in the eyes of God. So all of the rules designed to ensure that one partner is the dominant one and the other is the submissive one are rapidly fading away—as they should. And all of your concerns about a man submitting himself to another man are moot, because that’s not the predominant ideal of same-sex marriage today. Two men, or two women, in a same-sex marriage are not commonly seen as dominant and submissive, but rather as equal partners in the relationship.
As for the physical sex acts, I won’t go into that in detail here (this is already getting long) except to say that these days a number of conservative Christian churches and leaders are saying that any sex act that the man wants, the woman should agree to because he is the head and she must submit herself and her body to him. In doing so, they expose the hypocrisy of saying that homosexuality is evil because gay men can’t engage in vaginal sex.
And as for natural childbearing being superior to adoption and artificial insemination, just try to tell that to hundreds of thousands of couples who are unable to have biological children and long to be parents. Just try to tell that to the hundreds of thousands of orphans whose dearest wish is to have parents who will love them and raise them as their own. To put it bluntly, the idea that natural childbearing is “superior” to adoption and artificial insemination is heartless and cruel.
Lee I completely accept your theological view that we are all equal in marriage. I no longer believe that hierarchy must be enforced to live and love the biblical way.
Regarding Paul, I recall reading the quran and they have a different perspective of the same biblical events of the OT such as that of Moses, Abraham and Adam. What was a common amongst these perspectives was that ‘all divine instruction were concessions given to bring about agreement from disagreement’. That man was originally a community of one and eventually because of fatal disagreements, divine instruction was given to bring about agreement either willingly (good people) or through the sword (bad).
I can see Paul in a similar light offering insurrection to a divided Corinthian church that had no sense of common direction. They were being pulled into the same direction of other lifestyle choices such as Jewish or Gentile. They needed a sense of direction. A right and wrong.
Regarding submission, I have been studying the red pill and men’s rights movements recently. They seem to make a lot of non-religious observations of the female character. They often note that females still want to pair with a mate who they can submit to. That irrespective of who they are, they all want a male who could ‘clothe’ them. So they had observed natural submission and hence have come up with many strategies including pick up artistry and the encouragement of an ultra male character to woo women. Surprisingly there are many Christians on these forums who comment and agree with the submission bits but not the promiscuity part of the red pill. Could these groups know natural submission without any theological training? I have observed that men from eastern matriarchal societies struggle to woo women of western patriarchal societies. So there seems to be a natural submission in line with the animal world.
I am also weary of where Swedenborg’s equality theology could lead us down to. You say that patriarchy is no longer needed because our societies have progressed. But what about a 100 years from now when we outsource the role of women like we already have with men using artificial intelligence and robots.
We can and will produce robots that can parent children, provide better sex and offer platonic relationships. Will you then say that children should no longer respect their parents because that was an old biblical concept for rugged societies of the past?
Equality somehow leads to a lack of dependency on others. The upside is that it makes life easier but kills relationships. You think how many a son would love his mother for spending three hours cooking his favourite meal vs a mother that prepares his favourite meal in an oven in minutes.
Submission and hierarchy somehow makes people depend on each other. Life is harder but at the end of it, you have more involved relationships.
You look at western society today and they barely produce kids, they have cut down on who is family and have a lot of open promiscuity. Is something wrong here because they did not follow the traditional biblical principles?
There’s a lot here to respond to.
The need for hierarchies, dominance, submission, and government in general is the result of the Fall of Humankind, and our continuing in a fallen state for many thousands of years. It is only when selfishness, greed, and lust for power rules in the human heart, and in human society, that we need governments, hierarchies, laws enforced by police, military forces for protection (though they’re used more often for aggression), and so on.
Similarly, as detailed in my article, “Man, Woman, and the Two Creation Stories of Genesis,” it was when humans fell away from God’s original plan that first inequality, then dominance and submission, entered into human marriage relationships.
This means that inequality in marriage need last only as long as our fallen state lasts.
Some cynics would say that humans will always be driven by greed and the desire for power and pleasure. But I think that we can be better than that. And I believe that what we see in the world today is a mix of people who are driven by greed, power, and pleasure and people who are driven by a love of God, a love of their fellow human beings, and a desire to make the world a better place for everyone in it. Of course, no one is perfect. We all have our blind and selfish spots. But I believe that in today’s world many people are traveling the path out of humanity’s fallen state, and are seeking, whether consciously or not, to move toward God’s original plan for humanity, which was a human community driven, not by greed, power, and pleasure, but by love for God and for the neighbor.
This, I believe, is because we are now entering into the spiritual era of the New Jerusalem predicted symbolically in the final chapters of the Book of Revelation. See “Is the World Coming to an End? What about the Second Coming?”
And this is why, I believe, we are now seeing a return in human marriage to something like the equality between man and woman for which God originally created us male and female.
However, as I just said, we are living in a mixed world, in which some parts of human society, and some individuals within society are moving into the New Jerusalem, while others are still firmly embedded in the various earlier, fallen states of humanity. That is why I wrote my earlier article on gender roles, “What are the Roles of Men and Women toward Each Other and in Society?” with a recognition that even today various marriages will reflect the various spiritual levels of humanity, from the very low state in which man rules and woman submits, through an intermediate state in which the woman revolves her life around the man, to the highest state in which man and woman are fully equal participants in the marriage relationship.
So yes, there are still many women who want a man who will be the boss. And there are still many women who want a man who will be the primary breadwinner while she has her part-time job so that they can afford some enjoyable extras. And these women will indeed look for the types of traditional men who will fulfill those roles in the marriage.
What’s different now is that there are also many women who do not want to submit to a man, nor even revolve around a man, but who want to stand on their own two feet with a man who also stands on his own two feet, each being equal to the other in the relationship.
This, however, is a relatively new development in human society—at least, in recorded history. And it is harder to achieve because we are only gradually developing a social structure that supports it, and there aren’t many examples or role models to look to for those who are ready and willing to enter into that sort of fully equal relationship. We’re traveling new ground socially and interpersonally, and that requires time, effort, trial, and error.
In the meantime, it may seem like a destabilizing development to many who are still stuck in one of the older paradigms, and who believe that society will disintegrate if there aren’t strict hierarchies, and if man doesn’t lead and woman follow in marriage relationships. That is to be expected. Every major paradigm shift, every major change in anything, has its earthquakes and dislocations. There is often a very messy chaos before things settle into a new and better order.
And that, I believe, is where we are right now: in the midst of the dislocation and chaos that always accompanies the transition from an old paradigm to a new one.
A few more thoughts in response to your comment:
I’m contemplating writing a post or two on the men’s movement, and especially the MGTOW and “red pill” end of it, which I see as a mirror image of, and a reaction to, the more radical end of the feminist movement. There’s a lot of black and white thinking on both ends of that spectrum.
You mention “eastern matriarchal societies” and “western patriarchal societies.” I don’t see any evidence for such a polarity. If anything, eastern societies today are more patriarchal than western societies. It is the West that is making the greatest strides toward equality between men and women. And despite the popular mythology, to my knowledge there is no actual evidence for any matriarchal society in the past or in the present. Essentially, the entire world for as far back as we can look has been somewhere along the scale of near equality between the sexes to heavy patriarchy, with nothing on the other, matriarchal end of the scale.
About promiscuity, that has been a problem from time immemorial. And though it may seem like there is an increase in promiscuity in today’s society, much of that is the result of the aforementioned chaos in the transition to a better paradigm. Promiscuous sex is unsatisfying by nature. I believe that as time passes it will be increasingly rejected in favor of faithful, monogamous relationships. There are many people who are fully aware of this and who value and strive for that ideal. Ironically, that is what the gay and lesbian community is also striving for when it demands the right to same-sex marriage, while being opposed by the very forces that claim to value marriage, faithfulness, and monogamy.
And it is true that Western society, especially the more financially comfortable part of it, produces fewer children. This, I believe, is not so much a factor of Western society as it is a factor of prosperity. People who are financially secure tend to have fewer children. Strange but true. It is the poorer segments of humanity that commonly have large families. (This, of course, is a generalization, not a hard and fast rule.) And though there are many physical, social, and psychological factors at work, one very basic one is that when people are insecure, life is uncertain, and infant and child mortality is high, people will have many children to ensure that at least some of them survive to adulthood to continue the family line and to care for them in their old age. As we are able to raise the social and financial level of societies around the world, I believe the numbers of large families will go down, and the earth’s population will stabilize at a sustainable figure.
And robots will never replace flesh-and-blood human beings when it comes to building meaningful and satisfying relationships. Robots lack heart, and they lack soul—and they always will.
Lee I really look forward to your future post on the MRA/redPill movement. I am keen to hear what the community will say of your post.
From my extensive reading of the the redPill, they seem to be a loose group of self-improvement theologians.
Women and relationships make up a sizeable portion of their theology but it extends on to fitness, career and overall attitude.
Regarding women, they essentially see men as either blue pill or red pill. Blue pill being who they were originally.
Many of them have gone through rejections from women for being ‘Christian’ i.e. Being mr. Nice guy, forgiving of bad behaviour, providing money and validation to women and providing proof of commitment to their women. They see blue pillers as people who are insecure and incompetent.
They all seem to have been burned at some point or the other as the women they dated tended to upgrade them for ‘bad boys’ or ‘Chads’. Men who were physically fit, showed no commitment, put their women through a rollercoaster of drama and thrills and treated them like cattle.
So blue pill ‘mr. Nice’ guys have realised that in order for them to gain the respect and commitment, they had to become like ‘Chad’.
Their strategy seems to have many followers and I cannot help notice myself that it does provide results.
I don’t like to share this with non-Christians, I have observed that sometimes a woman has to be subjugated in order to gain her commitment. In the OT, the rapist often had to marry their victim and we see even with Muhammad in the Quran, he forcefully ‘consummated’ his marriage to a 9 year old. This is similar to what at you wrote about homosexuality of the past where one victorious king would sodomize a defeated king to gain a dominance over him. Somehow this strategy produces submission.
I know this is in opposite to Swedenborg theology where servanthood is valued over submission.
That a man must be opened to being abused for being ‘blue pill’ in order to gain long term results.
Red pillers essentially see that a man must earn his masculinity. This is uplifting for many young men.
It is hard to explain to the red Pill communtiy who value short term gains (hence their hatred for marriage and long term relationships).
My experience so far of the Red Pill and MGTOW end of the men’s movement is not particularly positive, to say the least. It seems to consist mostly of insecure, self-centered, and immature young men who for some strange reason haven’t had good experiences with women, and who, instead of recognizing the flaws within their own character that got them into those unhealthy relationships, blame it all on women, whom they demonize into a caricature.
I don’t think a single one of ’em knows what being a man really means. And that’s why they spend so much time in an echo chamber of other young men who are also insecure in their masculinity, and take it all out on women.
What you’ve outlined above is their mythology. But I don’t think it’s the reality. And if by “providing results” you mean that some of these men manage to have more one-night stands with women than they previously did, then I suppose you could call them “successful.” However, I suspect even that is more brag than reality. Mostly they strike me as selfish jerks that no self-respecting woman would go anywhere near. Which is probably why they’ve never experienced a real, healthy, loving, mutual relationship with a woman.
As for “a woman [having] to be subjugated in order to gain her commitment,” this, too, is more myth than reality. Yes, there are some women who want to be dominated by a man. But for the most part they’re not mature, psychologically healthy women. And neither are the men who dominate them. That is not a recipe for a good and stable relationship. As I’ve covered in the other articles here on man, woman, and gender roles that I’ve linked you to, this dominance and submission arrangement is what happens when humanity hits its spiritual low point.
I don’t know when I’ll get around to writing about the Red Pill and MGTOW thing. Meanwhile, you might be interested in this post, which is an edited version of a sermon I preached 18 years ago, in 1999: “A New Model of Manhood.”
Men do need to develop their own sense of self and masculinity. But that’s not something that happens by hating on women all day in the Red Pill locker room and then going out at night and trying to manipulate them into having sex with you. It’s something that happens by developing one’s own character, resolve, and goals in life. Being a man does not depend on “success with women.” It is an internal matter of developing character and maturity, which is then expressed in work and accomplishments in the world. That, and not some false macho braggadocio, is what “high-quality women” want to see in men.
A man who is mature and secure in his masculinity doesn’t worry about whether he’s dominant (“alpha,” in red-pill-speak) and women (and everyone else) are submissive to him. He’s too busy getting things done. And he values a partner who also gets things done.
Yes I agree with you that most of these groups are made up of arrogant and hateful individuals.
I wouldn’t outright say that all of their theology is rubbish but they recycle many old ideas. As the book of Ecclesiastes states, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’.
You take the concept of submission. One can either beat their child into submission or love their child into submission. The Red Pill will boast of the former with women (e.g. You can hold a woman by her neck, be a bit rough, make her feel small, etc.).
Most of their ideas comes from ‘evolutionary psychology’. A study of the human character that identifies that we are still all cavemen in behaviour.
I know you have said that this all originated from the fall but it just seems very apparent today that almost all of us are driven by carnal cavemen traits though we have substituted caves for houses and sheep skins for suits.
I get what you are saying that we are moving away from a physically driven existence into a new spiritual driven existence.
But yes I really want to be a part of the community of God that you have written about.
The focus of my future article on the red pill movement came to me this morning where all good ideas originate: in the shower. 😉 But I think it was probably prompted by this comment of yours. The red pill movement doesn’t really have a “theology” because the movement has nothing to do with God. Rather, it focuses on our animal nature. It seeks to build the life of a human animal. Hence its (rather faulty) appeal to evolution and to our “carnal caveman traits.”
I have just thought over it again. It seems like man wants to love perfectly but grows weary of being returned a ‘less than perfect’. love. E.g. You may give 100% of yourself to someone but you keep getting back 50% of someone else to you.
Man when he is young is trusting and full of love but then grows weary of it and devises evil schemes.
I look at all these groups like the red pill and the Christian fundamentalists. They have all come up with less than perfect strategies to get the other side to love them back 100%.
What does Swedenborg say of consistently giving love and only being returned scraps of love. Must this continue for long periods of time before the other side turns from their ways and responds with 100% or do we just go about our entire lives giving and not expecting back like Jesus?
250 years ago Swedenborg wrote, “There is a real marriage love that is so rare today that people do not know what it is, and they hardly even know that it exists” (Marriage Love #58). Though I think it is somewhat less rare today, it still seems to be quite rare. Achieving real, spiritual marriage remains an unusual accomplishment on this earth.
Specifically to your question, a marriage in which one gives 100% and the other gives only 50% is not a real marriage. Unless something changes radically in the one that’s giving 50% or less, that marriage will inevitably end in breakup, either here on earth or in the spiritual world after death. Real, spiritual marriage is by nature a fully mutual relationship. It cannot exist where the love and commitment of one greatly exceeds the love and commitment of the other.
However, here on this earth we may stay in such marriages for various reasons, such as not believing that anything better exists, or for the sake of raising the children that came from the marriage, or for business, financial, and social reasons, or even for easy access to sex. And though some spiritual growth is possible even within these non-marriage “marriages,” since we must still face and overcome the challenges and struggles of life and of faulty human relationships, such “marriages” do not have the deeper potential for spiritual growth that a real, spiritual marriage, in which both partners are in 100%, has.
I want to emphasize that at no point have I concluded homosexual relationships to be inferior, nor have I have I characterized homosexuality in any way as inferior to heterosexuality- as I said, I have no definitive attitude on the matter as a whole, so when I refer to idea of inferiority it is entirely within the context of honestly exploring different ways of looking at the issue in order to make sense of something we both admittedly find confusing.
That said, I know from one of our pervious discussions that you don’t believe conscience to be something that is infallibly connected to a larger seat of wisdom and truth, but is rather informed by our upbringing, experiences, and who knows whatever other earthly influences. At the same time, I don’t believe the human conscience to be *disconnected* from the wellspring of truth, and is something that God communicates through so as to guide us onto the correct path.
It’s for that reason that I think what we view of as following our conscience can often be a resisting of our conscience, so I think we need to discern between listening to our inner voice, and self-deludedly rationalizing our behavior as though we were following its guidance. Where does homosexuality fall here? I honestly don’t know. But I think we might need to have a more nuanced conversation on the idea of a conscience before we rely on it as a standard for our behavior, especially since, for Christians, there’s already a standard for *all* behavior: The Scriptures.
Hi again Lee.
I just realized I mistakenly submitted a standalone reply to your article with my last post, instead of one that responded directly to your last response to me, and so I apologize for how broken up this is. In any case, I wanted to come back with some additional thoughts following some reflection I had done since your reply.
Forgive me if I’m misrepresenting your viewpoint here, but I wonder if your remarks about childbearing simply being a temporary aspect of marriage comes across as too materialistic an attitude- that the *physical* reproduction of physical children is almost an incidental facet of marriage (from a spiritual perspective). If no children are produced in the spirit world, and reproduction exists as a kind if spiritual offspring, then might we liken that to children in terms of an outer/inner relationship? That children are the outer expression of- or earthly correspondence to- Heavenly spiritual activity? If so, then it would seem to me that physical childbearing is, spiritually speaking, far more than just a temporary aspect of marriage, but rather an essential node of correspondence. If that’s correct, then it would again spell problems for homosexual unions that have no possibility of producing children, but, again, also problems for heterosexual couples who are unable to have children, so that’s something that would have to be worked out.
Changing subjects a bit, I feel as though maybe your articles on contentious topics rest too much on spelling out negative truth statements- what the Bible does *not* say- and perhaps not enough on positive truth statements of what the Bible *does* say. Even if the Bible says very little about homosexuality, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have far more to say about *human* sexuality and human relationships, and from that we can draw inferences about homosexuality by seeing how it lines up. Outside of explicit condemnations, I think those positive statements of what is *good* and *best* for us are more helpful in evaluating right and wrong when it comes to human behavior than by emphasizing that the Bible does not explicitly condemn such and such. I hope I’m not mischaracterizing your efforts, or overlooking the positive moral affirmations you make in your articles, and if so I do apologize.
All that said, does this summary you posted reflect a shift in tone from the article you’re summarizing? You remarked in your first that you ultimately didn’t know whether homosexuality was evil, but your concluding remarks here appear (to me) that you’re at the very least further away from believing it to be than you were when you wrote your article.
Conversations in these comment sections inevitably get a bit fractured. Reply chains follow a nested order under the comments to which the particular reply is being made rather than a strictly chronological order. It’s just the nature of the beast.
About physical childbearing, yes, it is a correspondence of spiritual childbearing—and a very important one, since it is the basis for the existence of a heaven of angels, which is God’s primary purpose in creating the universe. Without new children being born, there are no potential new angels.
However, spiritual childbearing is still primary, and physical childbearing is still secondary in the overall scheme of things, because spiritual childbearing is part of our spiritual rebirth, which is our primary purpose for living out a lifetime here on earth.
As you suggest, if we made homosexual relationships inferior because they do not produce any physical births biologically, then we would also have to consider childless heterosexual couples to be in relationships that are inferior to those of heterosexual couples who do have children. And though even this is a common attitude in conservative religious circles, it is really a rather cruel attitude. Many heterosexual couples would dearly love to have children, but are unable to do so through no fault of their own. Telling them that their marriage is “inferior” because they have no children is insensitive, heartless, and cruel.
Besides, it’s just not true.
As I said, spiritual childbirth is primary, and physical childbirth is secondary. Spiritual marriage is, first of all, a union of hearts, minds, and souls. And as I said in my earlier comment, that union produces spiritual children in the form of new developments of love, understanding, compassion, and kindness to one another and to our fellow human beings. This is the core and essence of spiritual rebirth, and of becoming angels. And it can take place within a childless marriage just as it can within a marriage that produces physical offspring.
Having physical children and raising them to be angels in heaven is certainly a good and excellent thing. And yes, raising children does also contribute greatly to the spiritual growth of parents, if they are willing to grow spiritually.
However, our primary purpose here on earth is to be spiritually reborn and grow into angels. And that can and does happen for people who are married with children, for people who are married without children, and for people who are single for their entire lifetime on earth. None of these is “superior” or “inferior” to the others in an ultimate sense, because all of these human situations can lead to our becoming angels in heaven—which is God’s ultimate purpose for putting us here on earth in the first place.
About focusing more on “negative truth statements” than positive ones, consider this: Most of the Ten Commandments, which form the core of the practical teachings of both Judaism and Christianity, are in the form of negative statements. Most of them start with, “Thou shalt not.”
Because until we root out the evil and falsity that current occupy ourselves and our society, we cannot live a life based on what is good and true. The very first chapter of Isaiah states this principle very clearly:
And in the New Testament, the first thing that John the Baptist, Jesus, and Jesus’ disciples all preach to the people is “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (see, for example, Mark 1:4; Luke 17:1–4; 24:44–48; Acts 2:38; 5:29–32).
Rooting out what is false and evil must always come first. Only then will there be room in our mind and heart for what is good and true. That is why I spend a great deal of time here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life breaking down false beliefs and assailing evil and destructive attitudes and practices. But I do also provide better and truer beliefs, attitudes, and practices to replace the evil and false ones that I attack and seek to eliminate from human minds, hearts, and society.
And finally, yes, the current summary does go a little farther than the original article in its ninth and final point. It brings to its logical conclusion many of the things I said in the main article.
What I said in the main article was that in an abstract, philosophical sense I don’t know whether homosexuality is evil. But then I went on to say that in a practical sense it is not, as far as I can tell, evil because it does no demonstrable harm to gays and lesbians themselves or to society.
Yes, of course, the perversions of homosexuality do harm, just as the perversions of heterosexuality do harm. Adultery, promiscuity, sexual predation, and so on are highly destructive whether they are heterosexual or homosexual in nature. But so far I have not seen any convincing evidence—or really, any evidence at all—that faithful, monogamous homosexual relationships and marriages do any harm to anyone. On the contrary, they seem to bring about a great deal of good in the lives of gays and lesbians themselves and in society as a whole.
Not the least of that good is that societies that accept same-sex marriage don’t push gays and lesbians into sham heterosexual marriages that cause all sorts of heartbreak and harm. But more than that, when gays and lesbians are free to form same-sex marriages, they can have a much happier life, and can become full participants in and contributors to the wellbeing of their community than they can if they are forbidden this closest and most basic of relationships.
So yes, this summary does go farther than the original article on that key ninth and final point. And though I’ve contemplated revising the original article, that one is aimed at moving the minds of people away from the traditional religious condemnation of homosexuality and toward an acceptance of it. So my current thought is to leave it as is, and let it do its job. I am, however, happy to have this summary of the original here not only because it gives a shorter version of the original article, but also because it extents the original article on that critical point, bringing it to its logical and heart-based conclusion.
I would simply be careful about throwing around such terms as “inferior” in relation to homosexuality. It’s a very short step from that to prejudice and bigotry against gays and lesbians. Even if you may be able to intellectually avoid such bigotry while holding such views, it reinforces the bigotry of those who are prejudiced against gays and lesbians by supporting their justifications for their bigotry against and abuse of LGBT people. And even intellectually thinking of gays and lesbians as in some way “inferior” will inevitably pull your own mind in the direction of valuing them less as human beings, even if that’s not your intention.
LGBT people are children of God just like everyone else. No one is “inferior” in God’s eyes. God loves us all equally, and exactly as we are.
About conscience, I think you’ve picked up on its general dynamics. It is, indeed, developed individually, and is not infallible. And yet it is also developed within the context of family and cultural standards of right and wrong, which are heavily influenced by religion, and in Christian cultures, by the Bible. So conscience is not purely arbitrary. In most people it conforms to religious standards of right and wrong because religion is a major influence in its formation.
The conscience of homosexuals is for the most part indistinguishable from the conscience of heterosexuals. The same societal and religious influences are at work in the formation of homosexuals’ consciences as heterosexuals’ consciences. And today, in Western society especially, the trend is strongly toward heterosexuals not seeing homosexuality as an evil either. The younger the generation, the more likely it is that homosexuality is accepted as equal to heterosexuality—as simply a variation in the overall human condition. There is no separate “homosexual conscience.” Just people developing their sense of right and wrong in the context of the unfolding culture and its moral, ethical, and religious viewpoint.
I feel inclined to believe that your conception of the human conscience might need to be a bit more expansive, as the way you’ve described it here makes it sounds like a mere function of our intellect- which is too materialistic, as far as I’m concerned.
I don’t deny that it’s molded from the earthly influences we both mentioned, but why doesn’t it appear that you’re allowing for a connective spiritual component to something outside of those material moldings? This matters, because it determines to a large extent whether we are culpable for our erroneous beliefs and for the destructive actions that follow.
It would seem rather cruel if God left it up to us and our flawed intellect in order to figure things out for ourselves, at least when it comes to that which is essential for our salvation. Either we have no intuitive way by which to connect with and live out essential truths, in which case we’re doomed to stumble around innocently blind, or we’re accountable for being led astray by the unreliability of a conscience that’s only as good as the experiences that shape it. That’s why I would argue for an idea of conscience that, yes, takes shape through our experiences, but also is an avenue through which God reaches out to us, even if it’s not a direct portal to absolute truth about right and wrong. If this conception stands, then it brings me back to my original point: that it’s not enough to just assume that any old voice inside us is that of our conscience, and that we need to discern between our conscience *urging*, and *resisting* the urge of our conscience. And again, when it comes to homosexuality, I just can’t say which of the two it is.
On that note, I wish to repeat that I have not called homosexuality or anything related thereof inferior. It is neither a spiritual or intellectual position of mine. I meant it when I said I was an agnostic on this issue. The context in which I used the word was in a hypothetical scenario in which it would be true. That if the only appropriate relationship existed between a man and a woman, and was one that lent itself to children, than any relationship that was deliberately closed off to these requirements would thereby be an inferior one. And that would logically follow, if it were true. And I’m not saying it is. It’s just a necessary turn to take as you explore this issue from all relevant sides.
Excuse my bluntness, but you’re really treading on dangerous ground in continuing to throw around the word “inferior” in relation to homosexuality. You protest that you have not called homosexuality inferior, but you keep talking about it, and you keep using the word inferior in connection with homosexuality. I would encourage you to examine your own thoughts on this subject, because it certainly appears to me that you are suggesting that homosexuality is inferior to heterosexuality, and that childless marriages are inferior to ones that produce children, even while protesting that that’s not necessarily what you’re saying.
And you’re treading on even more dangerous ground when you throw around the word “deliberately” in relation to these things. Homosexuals are not deliberately homosexual. They do not choose to be homosexual. It’s just a fact about themselves. Using the word “deliberate” in relation to homosexual relationships is a perpetuation of the false notion among conservative Christians (and presumably conservatives in other religions as well) that homosexuality is a “lifestyle” that gays and lesbians choose. But long experience shows that this is simply not true.
It’s all well and good to talk about “exploring this issue from all relevant sides.” But the words we use do reveal the particular side from which we are “exploring the issue.” And the words you are using here, and your general treatment of the subject, suggest very strongly to me that you are not just objectively exploring the issue, but that you come from a pre-existing viewpoint that homosexuality is inferior to heterosexuality, and that it is a choice and a “lifestyle” on the part of gays and lesbians.
If that’s the case, and you’re moving away from that viewpoint, I do understand. But I hope you understand that any gay or lesbian person reading your comments will see your continued use of “inferior” in relation to homosexuality, even theoretically, and your use of such words as “deliberate” as major red flags marking you as someone who is internally prejudiced and anti-gay even while orally protesting and professing not to be.
You, of course, will ultimately have to make up your own mind what you think and believe about homosexuality, and what your attitude will be toward it. But words can hurt. And some of the words you are using are very hurtful to LGBT people, even if that’s not your intention.
With respect (as always) Lee, I’m not sure where and how I’m so badly misrepresenting myself, but my choice of words is *only* intended articulate a *possible* conclusion if one set of facts is true. This discussion began with me coming forward with an objection to gay marriage- and homosexuality in general- in which I, myself, was hung up: namely that relationships without the features I mentioned were inferior to ones that had them. That’s the objection. And if all relationships needed those features, then such a conclusion would be true
That is *only* context in which I’ve used the term. It’s unavoidable that I would use the word ‘inferior’ when laying out an argument that calls gay marriages inferior that I, myself, have not been able to adequately answer. And I’m here as part of seeing if that’s an argument that *can* be answered, for as far as I can tell, it’s part of the traditional religious objection to gay marriage (they would probably call those relationships ‘evil,’ but they’re in the orocess calling them ‘inferior’ to heterosexual relationships).
I hope I’ve clarified why that word has gotten so much use from me, and I admit that I’m most *familiar* with this line of reasoning against gay marriage than I am with lines of reasoning for it (after all, I’m not coming to you with being stumped by pro gay marriage arguments).
As for ‘deliberate,’ I admit that was careless on my part, as I was only attempting to describe a relationship that is unconducive to reproduction. For instance, birth control and infertility both preclude reproduction, but birth control is mechanically at odds with reproduction, whereas one can be unable to conceive yet sexually behave in a way that is open to reproduction.
Looking at it more closely, it seems I’m putting forward my own more optimistic theoretical spin on the a traditional line of reasoning that would just call gay marriage flat out evil. Whereas the traditional objection would look at gay marriage as being closed off to a certain relational dynamic and to childbearing and call it evil, it could also just be a relationship that, at best, can never be as full as heterosexual ones (though that opens up a whole other can of worms).
Like I said, most of my exposure has been to arguments against gay marriage, arguments that I admit are very difficult to answer. But far from allowing that to cultivate prejudicial attitudes within me, I’ve just set them asyde until such time that I would one day address those objections in light of any counter-objections. I didn’t expect to get any closer to one side or the other than I already am following a discussion like this, but I’m still very interested in what you have to say.
Once again, I don’t think it’s helpful or useful to analyze heterosexual vs. homosexual relationships in terms of “better” and “worse,” “superior” and “inferior.” Practically speaking, neither heterosexuals nor homosexuals have any choice in the matter. If heterosexuals are going to be in a marriage, it is going to be a heterosexual marriage. If homosexuals are going to be in a marriage, it’s going to be a homosexual marriage. So what’s the point in saying that one is “better” or “worse” than the other? There is no practical usefulness in making such judgments, because none of the people involved can actually use those value judgments to make any actual choices in life.
About the only group that such value judgments could have any usefulness at all to would be bisexuals, who actually can go one way or the other. However, in my experience and judgment, most bisexuals aren’t going to make their choice based on whether it is “better” or “worse” for them to have a same-sex or opposite-sex partner. Yes, some may do so for reasons of social pressure and acceptance. But in this day and age, when there is less such social pressure, they are most likely to make their choice based on a sense of the quality of the person, whether male or female, that they may be attracted to. If they have to choose between a potential opposite-sex partner who is less sympathetic and less congruent with their own character and values, and a same-sex partner that is more sympathetic and more congruent with their own character and values, they’re likely to—and really, should—choose the one who is closer to them in mind and spirit. In short, their choice is going to be based more on the quality of the person’s character than on the person’s gender. So even with this group where value judgments of “better” or “worse” regarding opposite sex vs. same sex relationships theoretically might have some actual bearing, in practice it is less useful than it might seem.
So once again, I think it is best just to drop the whole “superior” vs. “inferior” line of thinking, because practically speaking it has little or no value in the real world.
The more intellectual among us like to think about and spin abstract theories about the essential nature of things. And while that may not be totally useless, much of that sort of thinking is just building castles in the air, with no real foundation underneath it. In other words, it has little or no basis on or usefulness in the actual world as we actually experience it around ourselves.
That is why although, as I said in the main article, I don’t know whether homosexuality is, philosophically or in an abstract sense, good or evil, I no longer bother myself with those speculations. Instead, I pay attention to the experience and realities of actual gays and lesbians, and learn from how things work out in real life. Eventually, if we learn from external reality without applying heavy filters of philosophical notions about how things are “supposed” to be in an abstract sense, we’ll learn something solid about the actual nature of things.
As I said in my immediately previous comment about conscience (which appears below this one), we humans, for the most part, no longer have the ability to directly perceive, by internal intuition and direct communication with God and heaven, what is true and what is false. Instead, we must learn by an external way, through religious texts and teachings, but also through experience in the world around us. Swedenborg speaks also of our conscience developing as we apply it in our life. Everything here on earth expresses something spiritual by way of correspondence. So learning about the physical and human world here on earth on the basis of actual experience can form a basis for correct thinking about spiritual things.
No, correspondences and a knowledge of physical and social reality doesn’t actually teach us spiritual truth. Rather, it provides a foundation on which God can build a superstructure of spiritual truth. And as with conscience, that superstructure of spiritual truth will be only as good and true as the foundation on which it is built.
All of this is why, when it comes to homosexuality, I no longer try to figure it out in a direct philosophical and abstract way. Rather, I learn from the realities on the ground, attempting to see what homosexuality is actually like in practice, without imposing a lot of preconceived notions of what homosexuality is “supposed” to be.
And what I have found so far is that in general homosexual relationships closely parallel heterosexual ones. Faithful, monogamous, loving homosexual relationships look very much like faithful, monogamous, loving heterosexual relationships. And the corruptions of homosexual relationships are very similar to the corruptions of heterosexual relationships. Based on these practical realities, I have no basis on which to pronounce homosexual relationships “evil” or even “inferior.” Not from a spiritual standpoint. They seem to have all the spiritual benefits of heterosexual relationships, and all the potential pitfalls and negatives too.
And these days, many gays and lesbians are parents, sometimes of their own biological children conceived from heterosexual sex—and for women, also by in-vitro fertilization—and sometimes through adoption. So even the spiritual benefits of child-raising are not closed to gay and lesbian couples.
In practical reality, same-sex marriages are marriage for homosexuals, just as opposite-sex marriages are marriage for heterosexuals.
Beyond that, I would simply recommend that you carefully read and contemplate on the three primary articles on the subject that I have written and published here so far:
Most of my thoughts on the subject of homosexuality are contained in these three articles, and in their comment sections.
Among the earliest humans, before the events symbolized by the Fall of humankind in Genesis 3 took place, there wasn’t a “conscience” as such. Rather, there was a direct intuition and inner perception of what is good and true based on open communication with the spiritual world and with God.
However, after the Fall the human mind changed. The earlier direct communication with the spiritual world was mostly closed off due to humans focusing their attention more on external, physical things than on internal, spiritual things. This is the symbolism of being tempted by the serpent, or snake, which represents the outer, physical, sensory aspect of a human being and human mind.
With the inner route of direct perception and intuition of what is good and evil, true and false, largely closed off, God provided another, external route. Instead of engaging the heart or will first, as had the earlier route, this new mode of spiritual guidance engages the head, or intellect first. This new mode is conscience.
Conscience is not formed by a direct perception or intuition of what is good and true, because that was corrupted and closed off in us when we turned away from God’s presence from within and toward the presence of the external, physical world, and our own reasoning based on it, instead.
At that point, God began providing us with “external” revelation, first in the form of stories and myths passed down orally from ancient times—from the time in which humans had direct communication with heaven—and later in the form of written revelation, which Christians know as the Bible. Other religions also have their sacred books and their oral stories, myths, and legends that connect them to the ancient wisdom that originally came from God through heaven in the earliest days of humanity.
Now, instead of being taught and led directly by God, we are taught and led indirectly, by a more external and intellectual route, which is a conscience formed from the things we learn from our religion and our sacred texts. And yes, God is present within the person, building a coherent conscience for the person to follow, and guiding the person by means of that conscience.
However, the conscience is only as good as the religious teachings of the church or religion in which the person grows up. The more there is of genuine truth in that church or religion, the more true and sound is the conscience. The less there is of genuine truth in that church or religion, the less true and sound is the conscience. So, for example, it was common for Christians of a century or two ago to believe that such harmless things as dancing and playing cards were evil and sinful. So for those Christians, dancing and playing cards was contrary to their conscience, even though there is actually no harm in either one—and in fact, dancing is fairly common in the Bible.
Those two examples are of relatively trivial things. But some false teachings of the church are more serious, and lead to greater corruption of conscience. For example, believing that all people who don’t believe as our church does are damned to hell can easily lead to persecution, conflict, and war between different religious groups. And that has actually been quite common not only in the past, but right up to the present. Even though people who have been taught this believe that they are acting according to divine truth, they are in fact acting from falsity. But since that falsity has become a part of their conscience, it is very difficult to root out.
That is why it’s important to break down false religion and false teaching, and replace it with true religion and true teaching. I say more about this in the article, “Does Doctrine Matter? Why is it Important to Believe the Right Thing?”
So yes, the Lord is present in conscience, and also builds conscience in us. But ever since the Fall, it has been necessary for the Lord to build our conscience out of things we are taught by an external and intellectual route, through our religious leaders and sacred texts. The better the materials the Lord has to work with in building a conscience, the better will be the quality of the conscience. The worse the materials, the worse will be the conscience, and the farther away from genuine truth.
correct, the sodom story is more about tehe concept of xenia as it is called in greek
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.
For those unfamiliar with that Greek term, see the Wikipedia article on “Xenia (Greek).” Short version: it is the practice of providing generous hospitality to guests and travelers.
I think a “Xenia practiced here” plaque would look rather spiffy in my kitchen or dining room!
You saw it first here! 😀
I’ll proudly display it if you can get it inscribed as “With love and appreciation, The Woofenden’s”!
Annette and I can certainly vouch for your fine and generous hospitality!
Well Lee, to balance things out here, Swedenborg clearly condemns homosexuality as a form of adultery. The Biblical commandments that forbid it still stand, they have not been abrogated, the only thing that has been abrogated is the severe penalty of death. We should not try to condone what western American culture accepts as permissable in order to be popular with mass opinion. If you dont understand it at least stay agnostic.
There are a good summary of New Church articles here: Homosexuality From A New Church Perspective http://www.newchurchthought.org/2009/05/homosexuality-from-new-church.html
The severe penalty of death, in the spiritual sense, signifies spiritual death, and unfortunately Swedenborg confirms that the outcome of such a life is not good. There is a good article by Rev. Jeremy Simons on this on that web site (as well as Grant Odhner), and he offers several quotes, here are a couple:
“It was said to me that (those who share wives and husbands) were not far from being Sodomites, wherefore let those who are conscious to themselves of such a course of life beware, for they are not spared in the other life.” (Swedenborg, Spiritual Experiences, n. 1977).
““CONCERNING SODOMY: There are those in the other life who have committed the sin of Sodom during life. In the other life they are treated most miserably. They are punished with infernal torments, which are so terrible that they can scarcely be described. Moreover they inhabit the region of the tail, where the feces are, because they are manure, and dwell in outhouses.” (Swedenborg, Spiritual Experiences, n. 2675)
There are others, all negative.
The only way out of this, is MAYBE a monogamous homosexual relationship can offer a “similitude” of a marriage. I think the real spiritual danger here is if it is done just for pleasure, and I have noticed a habit of switching or desiring new partners (as is the habit with adulterers). This particular sexual relationship in the natural sense corresponds with self love in the spiritual sense. Those who have such a desire often try to pull someone innocent into this relationship, whereas if they refused they would have a chance to experience true marriage love in a heterosexual relationship. So the warnings still stand.
The only other exception I can think of is Klinefelter syndrome, of males born with an extra X chromosome. They may have a tendency toward this, but it is not well studied. In New Church doctrine, one is not judged based on the genetics of what one has inherited from the parents, only for what personal choices one makes. Including consent of the will in regarding what is sinful or not. So I would not be willing to give a “go home free” pass on this.
The priority for the New Church, IMO, is to guard marriage love against the things that can destroy it. And there is just too much free permissiveness in American society on this, which overall does not see the value in true marriage. Hate to rain on the parade, but sometimes a bucket of cold water helps if the parade is headed off a cliff.
Thanks for your thoughts, and for the link.
I did read every article linked on that page, plus many others, while I was researching my articles on homosexuality here. And in my opinion, the scholarship behind most of them is very sloppy and very poor. That is specifically what prompted me to write the article, “What does Emanuel Swedenborg Say about Homosexuality?” That article takes up all of the major arguments made by conservative Swedenborgians against acceptance of homosexuality. Of course, there’s always more, and the comments section of that article takes up a few more common Swedenborg-based arguments about homosexuality.
Unfortunately, the New Church Thought blog that you linked to lasted only three or four years as an active blog, from 2008 to 2011. It has since been inactive, though it is still possible to post comments there. I added links to my previous articles about homosexuality to the comments section of that post so that they’d be available to anyone who comes across that post—which regularly shows as the most popular post on that blog in its right sidebar. I’ve had a number of clicks over from it to my blog even though my articles are linked only at the end of the comment section, so I know that people are still reading it.
Though I don’t attempt in my own article about Swedenborg and homosexuality to deal with every single passage in Swedenborg’s writings that has any bearing on homosexuality, the general principles are all there.
And in reference to the two you quote, there is nowhere in Swedenborg’s writings that he equates “sodomy” with homosexuality. And though it might seem natural that that’s what he means by the word, since the term “sodomy” was commonly used that way in his time, we must keep in mind that Swedenborg drew primarily on the Bible itself, and only secondarily on his culture in his interpretation of various biblical terms and events. And it is by no means clear that he used the term “sodomy” as his culture did.
It is more likely that he used the term as a general reference to what went on in Sodom as described in Genesis 19:1–29. And that (as is covered fully in my article, “What is the Sin of Sodom?”) really had very little to do with homosexuality, and everything to do with horribly evil treatment of honored guests in their city. The crime, or sin, of Sodom was not homosexuality any more than the crime, or sin, of the men of Gibeah in Judges 19 was heterosexuality. In both cases, the crime, or attempted crime, was gang rape, in today’s terms; and in ancient Middle Eastern terms, a shocking violation of the sacred law of hospitality. All of this is covered in my article on the sin of Sodom.
Swedenborg was drawing much more on the biblical meaning of the sin of Sodom than on the interpretation of his culture. That’s why he wrote what he did in the two passages in Spiritual Experiences that you quoted.
In Spiritual Experiences #1976–1977, he talks about women who reject faithfulness and monogamy, and instead engage in a promiscuous sharing of partners for heterosexual sex. That is the context in which he says that they are “not far from the Sodomites.” “Sodomites” here does not mean “one who practices sodomy” (Chadwick is wrong about this in his lexicon), but rather “a resident of Sodom.” So Swedenborg is comparing women who practice promiscuous heterosexual sex with residents of Sodom who wished to practice promiscuous (non-monogamous) homosexual sex with Lot’s male visitors as their victims.
What should be clearly understood is that the men of Sodom were not homosexuals.
The men of Sodom were married, with children. They wanted to have sex with Lot’s visitors, not because they were gay, but because they wanted to abuse and humiliate the two visitors in their town. In ancient cultures this was a common way to humiliate conquered or “lesser” peoples: by raping their men. It had nothing to do with homosexuality, and everything to do with dominating, violating, and humiliating other people, usually foreigners, whether they were male or female. This is covered in my linked article about the sin of Sodom, and also in my main article about homosexuality: “Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity.”
Neither the Bible nor Swedenborg saw “the sin of Sodom” as homosexuality, but rather as promiscuous polygamous brutality and flagrant violation of the wellbeing of others, especially foreigners and visitors. So Swedenborg’s comparison in Spiritual Experiences #1977 of promiscuous heterosexual women who sleep around with multiple partners with the practices of the residents of Sodom has little to do with homosexuality, and everything to do with promiscuity and polygamy as opposed to monogamy.
In general in Swedenborg’s writings, he puts monogamous heterosexual marriage in opposition to polygamy, not in opposition to homosexuality. Read the context of his statements about how true marriage love can exist only with one man and one woman and you will see that he then goes on to argue, not that it can’t exist with one man and another man, or one woman and another woman, but rather with one man and many women. So it is the polygamous nature, and the violent domineering nature, of the actions of the residents of Sodom that Swedenborg is referring to in that passage.
The fact that Swedenborg is not focusing on the homosexual nature of the crime of Sodom, but on the general wicked and animalistic nature of it, becomes even clearer in the other passage you quote from Spiritual Experiences, #2675. Unfortunately, in his article on homosexuality Jeremy Simons does not quote the entire section, nor does he indicate that he has left part of it out. And the part that he left out is critical. Here is the entire passage, in Durban Odhner’s translation, with the parts Mr. Simons left out italicized:
The parts Mr. Simons left out are critical to understanding what Swedenborg is saying. They specify the particular wicked nature of these “sinners of sodomy”: They did not believe in any afterlife, but believed that they were merely wild animals like the other animals—and behaved accordingly.
That nicely sums up how the men of Sodom behaved. They had a flagrant disregard for their gods, and for any social, moral, or cultural rules, but surrounded Lot’s house with the intent of breaking down his door and forcing sex upon his two visitors. So they behaved like wild animals, and even worse than wild animals. That was their sin, as described in the Bible itself and as described by Swedenborg here in Spiritual Experiences #2675.
Unfortunately, in his anti-homosexual zeal Mr. Simons passed right over the critical part of Swedenborg’s statement, and therefore completely missed Swedenborg’s point. This is common in conservative “scholarship” based on Swedenborg’s writings and, in traditional Christianity, in conservative “scholarship” based on the Bible. Quote the parts that seem to support your pre-existing beliefs; ignore the parts that don’t.
Certainly even today there are homosexuals who act like wild animals in their sexuality, just as there are heterosexuals who act like wild animals in their sexuality. (I have an upcoming article planned on just that subject: heterosexual men who think they are mere animals, and act accordingly.) If so, then they are “sinners of sodomy,” whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. And remember, the men of Sodom were not homosexuals. They were heterosexuals. Lot’s daughters were engaged to be married to two of them.
All of this has nothing to do with the many homosexuals today who want to be in, and are in, loving, faithful, monogamous same-sex marriages. Many of them are Christians, or believers in other faiths. They do believe in an afterlife. And they do not think they are mere animals. They do not behave in an animalistic way, but truly love one another just as tenderly as loving, faithful, monogamous heterosexuals do. So they cannot possibly be the people Swedenborg is talking about in Spiritual Experiences #2675.
Of all that you said in your comment, what I would focus on is your statement that “MAYBE a monogamous homosexual relationship can offer a ‘similitude’ of a marriage.” Whether it is a “real” marriage or a “similitude” of marriage really isn’t for us to decide from the outside. That’s for God, and for the couples themselves, to decide. In fact, Swedenborg’s final statement in the expositional part of his book on marriage love is this:
For thousands of years in most cultures around the world homosexuality has been suppressed, and gays and lesbians have been denied marriage. In many cultures they were put to death if it became known that they were homosexual. Is it any wonder that their sexuality has tended to be furtive, illicit, and promiscuous under that societal treatment?
Now, at last, in many countries same-sex marriage is being legalized and becoming culturally accepted. And lo and behold, many thousands of gay and lesbian couples are coming forward and taking advantage of the same social institution that heterosexuals have enjoyed for thousands of years: socially and legally recognized monogamous marriage.
Will all homosexuals be perfectly faithful and monogamous? Obviously not. That’s a standard that heterosexuals as a body do not meet in any way, shape, or form. There will be homosexual unfaithfulness and divorce just as there is heterosexual unfaithfulness and divorce. Real marriage love, Swedenborg says, is “so rare today that people do not know what it is like, and scarcely that it exists” (Marriage Love #58). And though I think we’ve made some progress in the 250 years since he wrote those words, real, loving, faithful, monogamous marriages that last a lifetime are still the exception rather than the rule even in today’s world. It is unfair to hold gays and lesbians to a standard that straights still cannot meet themselves.
But what we find is that there are same-sex couples who remain together for life, who do not cheat on each other, but who love one another and are faithful to one another right through to death. And now many of these same-sex couples who were formerly not allowed to marry are at last able to get married and have their relationship recognized legally and socially.
It’s not our job to say whether those same-sex marriages are mere “similitudes” of marriage. We’re not in the minds and hearts of those couples. We can’t say what is the nature of their love. Only they know, and only God knows.
What I do know is that Swedenborg said nothing at all in his entire book on marriage love about homosexual relationships, good or bad.
And I do know that he said nothing at all anywhere else in his writings that deals with the type of faithful, loving, monogamous same-sex marriages that many gays and lesbians today are engaged in.
Such relationships were socially and legally suppressed in 18th century Europe. There’s no way Swedenborg could have known anything about same-sex marriage, good or bad.
But really, as he says, genuine marriage of any sort was so rare in his day that it was effectively unknown. This is also dealt with in my main article on homosexuality. So it is not surprising that Swedenborg says nothing at all in his writings about loving, faithful, monogamous same-sex marriage. Such a thing had no chance of existing in his culture. Even real, loving, faithful, monogamous heterosexual marriage had little chance of existing in his culture, as he himself says.
So yes, Doug, I read all of the anti-homosexual articles by General Church ministers listed on the blog post you linked to. And I found most of them to be very shoddy in their scholarship, and only a few to have any scholarly merit at all. They struck me as papers written by people who had already made up their minds what they believed, and who then went to Swedenborg’s writings to prove that they were right. That is a bad way to engage in scholarship of any sort. As a result, these Swedenborgian “scholars” have badly misread and misinterpreted even the passages in Swedenborg that they do quote, to the point of leaving out critical parts of those very passages. They simply do not know nor do they understand what Swedenborg said and did not say on the subject of homosexuality.
My comments above, along with the various articles I linked to above, will, I hope, help to clear up and correct some of that bad, sloppy, prejudicial scholarship.
Lee, the emphasis of the New Church is to protect and elevate marriage love in a monogamous relationship between a man and woman. In Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love, it is revealed that this relationship is above all others, because monogamous marriage love corresponds to the union between love and truth. All other sexual unions move away from this, and to the degree one moves away from marriage love that is the degree lower one will be in heaven.
Now the distinction you are trying to make may be true, but we simply have no support for it in the Bible and the warnings are even more severe in Swedenborg’s own writings. The distinction you are putting on the word “sodomy” is not an “either-or” kind of problem. In the revelations given to Swedenborg, it is revealed that all natural whoredoms (physical sexual unions) correspond with spiritual whoredoms. Thus homosexual relationships correspond to the sin of self-love. Can you separate the two? Of course we cannot judge, but the angels told Swedenborg that this is a good measure where one can self-examine themselves to see what their spiritual state is. There will be a correspondence between one’s natural love and one’s spiritual state. This pertains to all sexual relationships, not just homosexuality. Thus one particular incestuous sexual relationship corresponds to those who separate faith from charity.
No matter what you believe, your thoughts are eventually going to correspond to how you live your life. Any belief or thought that does not correspond to how you life your life will not remain in the spiritual world after we die.
There is an interesting passage concerning priestly celibates. They could not go to the highest heaven, as it did not correspond to their celibate nature, but neither were they condemned to hell. They were in some “in between” state. So you have to start from true marriage love between one man and one woman, why that is the highest goal everyone should strive for. Everything is downhill from there.
Another interesting insight is that Swedenborg said somewhere: “God is order” (forget where). According to order, we are made male and female according to spiritual order, and anything that goes against that is against order.
I would say that Swedenborg’s emphasis is on monogamous, faithful, loving, and spiritual marriage. And that, for him, meant marriage between one man and one woman, because heterosexual marriage was the only kind of marriage recognized as marriage in his day and age, and throughout most of human history. As I said previously, whenever Swedenborg contrasts the marriage of one man with one woman with its corruptions, it is not with same-sex marriage, but with polygamy and adultery. So what Swedenborg is really focused on is monogamy and faithfulness within marriage.
The irony is that gays and lesbians actually want the social and legal right to be in faithful, loving, monogamous marriages. That is a move toward the sanctity of marriage, not a move away from it.
The distinction between “Sodom” and “sodomy” is by no means trivial. In fact, it is critical to understanding the story of Sodom. But that has already been covered in these two articles, which I recommend to your reading or re-reading, because I won’t repeat here everything I said there:
Further, it is one of the enduring fictions among conservative Swedenborgians that homosexuality corresponds to self-love.
Swedenborg says no such thing.
This is what he does say:
Notice that he uses the word “Sodom” here. Not “sodomy.” And that’s crucial. Because he’s talking about the sin of Sodom. And to reduce the sin of Sodom down to homosexuality is just plain idiotic.
Sorry for the strong language, but as I’ve said many times before, the sin committed in Genesis 19 has just as much to do with homosexuality as the sin committed in Judges 19 has to do with heterosexuality. In both cases, the sin is not the particular sexual orientation of the crime. Rather, it is the crime itself, which is gang rape—and in the context of ancient Middle Eastern culture, a flagrant violation of the sacred law of hospitality.
Conservative Swedenborgians who say that homosexuality corresponds to self-love are, if you will again excuse my language, being prejudicial idiots.
No one would read a story in the paper of a woman being gang-raped by a group of men and say, “Their sin is heterosexuality.” Everyone would instantly recognize that this would be an idiotic conclusion.
So why do conservative Swedenborgians, along with conservative Christians generally, look at the story of Sodom and say, “Their sin is homosexuality”? It is beyond ludicrous.
Let me be plain:
Homosexuality does not correspond to self-love.
Swedenborg never says any such thing. That idea among conservative Swedenborgians is based on the worst sort of shallow, bigoted “scholarship” that imposes on the Bible story a preconceived notion that has no basis in reality.
But all of this is covered in the two articles linked above, and also in this one:
And as also covered in these articles, it is fruitless to say that gays and lesbians “should strive for” monogamous heterosexual marriage. That is not possible for them. Their sexual orientation is not something they can change. It would be about like saying that a man should strive to be a woman, or a woman should strive to be a man. It’s impossible. Whatever your view of same-sex marriage may be, it is the highest marriage relationship that a gay or lesbian person can engage in.
If you want to believe that heterosexual marriage is better than homosexual marriage, that’s certainly your prerogative. But in the real world, such a belief has no usefulness whatsoever. Gays and lesbians cannot engage in real (and not sham) heterosexual relationships. So what practical good does it do for anyone to say the heterosexual marriage is “better” than homosexual marriage? It serves no purpose whatsoever.
It would really be no different than saying that being white is better than being black. Considering that a white person can’t change into a black person, nor can a black person change into a white person, what possible usefulness would there be in saying that one of them is better than the other?
That is why I don’t spend any time thinking about whether same-sex marriages are a “mere simulation” of heterosexual marriages. Even if they were, what possible good could come from knowing that? It wouldn’t bring about any practical good whatsoever. Gays and lesbians are going to engage in same-sex relationships. Straights are going to engage in heterosexual relationships. That is the reality of the situation, no matter how much many people may wish the reality were different.
Lee, Swedenborg does say that it especially corresponds with the evil of self-love, just look at Apocalypse Explained 411.16: “That “whoredoms” and “adulteries” involve such things has been testified to me from much experience in the other life. The spheres from spirits who have been of such character have made these things evident; from the presence of spirits who have confirmed falsities in themselves, and have applied truths from the sense of the letter of the Word to confirm them, there exhales an abominable sphere of whoredom. Such spheres correspond to all the prohibited degrees (of which, see Lev. 20:11- 21) with a difference according to the application of truths to falsities and the conjunction of falsities with evils, especially with evils that gush out of the love of self (of which more may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell, n. 384-386).”
Also, these natural sexual unions closely correspond with spiritual profanation:
“falsification of truth is spiritual whoredom, which acts as one with natural whoredom, for they are closely connected.” (Marriage Love, n. 83)
“Where the marriage of the Lord and the church was treated of before,—at n. 116 and the following numbers,—and where the marriage of good and truth was treated of,—at n. 83 and the following,—it was shown that that marriage corresponds to marriages on earth. It follows thence that violations of that marriage correspond to whoredoms and adulteries.” (Marriage Love, n. 518)
That said, again, we should not judge from external appearances, but everyone should take note and self-examine themselves. Not everyone is capable of the highest marriage love, that is why I said they should strive to get as close as possible to it. Things are given by way of permission to offer a similitude of marriage love to those who cannot achieve it.
You should really read “What does Emanuel Swedenborg Say about Homosexuality?” That statement in Apocalypse Explained #411 about the types of adultery prohibited in Leviticus 18, and a similar statement in #434, are specifically dealt with there.
Long story short: Swedenborg says nothing in those passages specifically about the prohibition against men having sex with men in Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. Rather, he makes a general statement about a whole list of different types of adultery listed in those chapters. To take that general statement and apply it particularly to homosexuality, as if it, specifically, is what Swedenborg is talking about as corresponding to self-love, is just bad scholarship.
Further, as explained in that article, the spiritual meaning of various laws in the Old Testament are commonly based on how those laws functioned in that culture, and not based on universal meanings. Since men having sex with men was prohibited in ancient Jewish culture as being ritually unclean, it took on a negative correspondential meaning in that context. But that says nothing about whether men having sex with men is actually evil or adulterous. Only that it was considered to be evil and adulterous in that culture, and therefore has a negative correspondential meaning in those passages in Scripture.
This is a very basic principle of correspondential interpretation of the Bible. Conservative Swedenborgians who use that passage, and Swedenborg’s general statement about the types of adultery listed in those chapters, to build an argument that homosexuality is evil are being just plain sloppy.
Thank you, Lee. Just.. thank you. It’s a deeply(!!!) cutting issue, for those of us who deal with it, directly, in our own mind/heart/lives. I’ve never understood or received absolute, concrete, undeniable answers to my own lifelong “why me??” question, and I probably, apparently, never will. It’s all turned much more into a hope, at least in my current-life thinking, for answers to it all in that life-to-come. But maybe it won’t even matter then. In the meantime, this lil guy has a heart that LONGS, deeply, to know and love his Creator, to truly love people, and to just live this current life in the joy that Truth brings! Other than that, I can’t change either my own “nature” in this regard (thank you for your comments about that reality!), or change other’s (generally very uninformed, even though they most likely, without even realizing it, personally know several people who deal with this issue) “opinions” on this issue. I hate even having to call, and realize it as “an issue”. I’m just… me. And this “me” falls to his knees before his Creator, in awe, wonder, love, and thankfulness that He has chosen that I should exist, and realize the Joy of His Love! Blessings, everyone!
You are very welcome. Thanks for your good words as well. I do not believe God creates any human beings only to reject them. There is a place in God’s heart for every person of good heart. Bar none. I don’t claim to understand why some people are born one way and some people are born another. But I do know that all of us are born for heaven and eternal life, if we are only willing to love God and love our neighbor as Jesus taught. And people of all sorts and of every “nature” can do that. God’s kingdom has no other entry restrictions.
Godspeed on your spiritual journey!
I think it is pretty clear homosexual conduct is condemned in the Bible. Also there are statistics out that homosexual men have a 50 times greater HIV rate than heterosexual men. Also the fact homosexuals cannot ever reproduce on their own shows it is a perversion and oddity.. I am not hear to toss them into hell because I have the power over nothing except the ham sandwich I just ate. lol… But as we spoke before, if we are to follow JESUS and the Bible we really cannot kind of gloss over homosexual references.
Let us be honest. Homosexuality has a high rate of disease of all factors. I also find it very bizarre when homosexuals have some type of pride day or march as sexual perversion seems prevalent at all of these parades Bizarre dress codes are dominant. The sense of parading outrageous sexual expressions are the norm. It seems homosexuality is a type of Spiritual bondage.. Homosexuals take pride in having a very high amount of sexual partners and Hollywood is more than happy to promote it as the industry is filled with homosexuals. I have never witnessed the outright push of gays in various shows as I have today. Anyone who questions their lifestyle is treated like the next Stalin or Hitler or Amin. Meanwhile if it went to a vote I can assure you most of America would vote down homosexual marriage. It became the law of the land only because 5 liberal/leftists on the Supreme Court voted for it.Three of them being Jewish.
People speak of Russia being repressive in some ways and they are probably right but they do not promote homosexuality like America now does and in fact they banned the promotion of it… Who will pay the price for that more so with twisted minds, abuse of all kinds and disease? I think we will. It is not on par with heterosexuality/normal relationships.
There is no doubt we are all weak humans.. But I do not think the promotion of a lifestyle that is condemned in the Bible is good to promote. No doubt they should be loved and not tossed in the gulag but it just seems putting it on par with heterosexuality screams no! In the end our goal is Eternal Life with GOD. Do we want to promote things that seem to very strongly go against Bible teaching and the laws of nature? I do not. That being said I am not the one to think all gays are in hell.. But that is simply my opinion. Truly repentant people based on the Bible seem to be blessed.
It sounds like during your time among evangelicals you received a heavy dose of their very negative and rather inaccurate views on homosexuality. I would invite you to read the full article (of which this one is a summary) for a different point of view:
Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity
For starters, homosexuality is not a “lifestyle” any more than heterosexuality is a “lifestyle.” It is a sexual orientation. And all of our experience so far shows that it’s not something that can be changed or “repented from.”
Yes, gays and lesbians who live a promiscuous lifestyle will contract STDs just as heterosexuals who live a promiscuous lifestyle will contract STDs. But what many gays and lesbians want is legal and social acceptance for faithful, monogamous marriages of the same kind that heterosexuals have available to them. And though flamboyant clothing and public displays of sexuality (heterosexual or homosexual) aren’t my thing, nobody who doesn’t want to watch a gay pride parade is required to do so.
Further, men having sex with men (not “homosexuality,” despite some bad translations of various words used in the New Testament) is mentioned only five or six times in the entire Bible. (Women having sex with women is not clearly mentioned anywhere in the Bible, and is only once, in Paul, perhaps alluded to.) Same-sex sexual relations is not a major theme in the Bible, despite the major hullabaloo made about it by conservative Christians.
There are many culturally-based rules in the Bible that we no longer follow, such as requiring women to wear veils, requiring slaves to obey their masters, and requiring sacrifices of cows and bulls for various occasions and offenses. The main article explains in detail why men having sex with men was prohibited in Old and New Testament times based on the cultures of the times. In many cultures today those conditions no longer exist, and the Bible’s prohibition against men having sex with men therefore no longer applies, just as its requirement that women wear veils no longer applies in most present-day cultures.
Sorry Lee, but all you’re doing in this article is tickling ears.
1 Corinthians 6:9
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals
You state “In the New Testament, Jesus Christ himself never said a word about homosexuality, positive or negative”
Well, unless you deny that the all Scripture is not God breathed, then the verse above is most definately from Jesus=who is God
You also state, “If something is a sin, it must be possible to repent from it. But it is not possible for homosexuals to “repent” from homosexuality. It is part of their basic nature.”
Not true. God gave us all free will. A homosexual has the free will to either act, or not act on their homosexual desires. So they do indeed have a choice to repent.
Sex between people who are not a married man and woman is fornication. Jesus defines what marriage is in Matthew 19:4-6.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I would, however, recommend that you read the full article, which takes up all of these issues in much more detail:
Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity
As covered in that article, “homosexuals” is not an accurate translation of ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs) in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. That word occurs only in those two verses, and nowhere else in prior Greek literature. It seems to have been coined by Paul himself as a direct reference to the prohibition on men having sex with men in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.
Men having sex with men is not the same as homosexuality. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation, not a sexual act. The many English versions of the Bible that translate ἀρσενοκοίτης as “homosexuals” are confusing homosexuality with homosexual sex.
It is true, as you say, that homosexuals can refrain from having sex, just as heterosexuals can refrain from having sex. But not having sex does not change the fact that a heterosexual is a heterosexual, and a homosexual is a homosexual. A celibate monk or priest is still either heterosexual or homosexual (or perhaps bisexual) even if he never has sex.
All the evidence so far points to the reality that homosexuality, which is a sexual orientation, is not something that we can change or repent from, just as we cannot change or repent from heterosexuality. We can refrain from having sex. But we can’t change our sexual orientation.
Once again, I would recommend that you read the main article, where all of these issues and more are taken up in great detail.
You can play semantics with the meaning of the English word homosexual. But even in the Webster’s dictionary the meaning is clear.
Definition of homosexual
1 : of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex a homosexual man was involved in a homosexual relationship
2 : of, relating to, or involving sexual activity between persons of the same sex homosexual acts
The mere word Homo + Sexual cannot mean anything else not pertaining to sex between two people of the same gender. And to say that two homosexuals desire to live together, yet remain celibate, is an insult to anyone’s intelligence.
Just as you infer, the Greek translation of those Leviticus passages condemns a man (arseno) lying with (koitai) another man (arseno); these words lie side-by-side in these passages in Leviticus. Paul joins these two words together into a neologism, a new word (as we do in saying database or software), and thus he condemns in 1Corinthians and 1Timothy what was condemned in Leviticus.
It appears that only you, and homosexuals living in the sin have developed your own opinion against that of all other’s translation of the word ἀρσενοκοίτης
(lying with men, a male engaging in same-gender sexual activity; a sodomite, pederast, one who lies with a male as with a female)
And one more thing, when you said that Jesus himself never said a word against homosexual behavior in the NT. Are you saying that the words of the NT and also the OT are not from Jesus himself?
Homosexuality itself is covered in Webster’s definition 1 of the word “homosexual”: “a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex.” I.e., homosexuality is a homosexual orientation, not a homosexual action.
Definition 2 is a different usage of the word “homosexual,” in connection with the sexual act: homosexual sex.
No one would define heterosexuality as “the act of having heterosexual sex.” A heterosexual is a person who is sexually attracted to someone of the opposite sex. Heterosexual sex is the act of having sex with someone of the opposite sex.
Homosexuals can have heterosexual sex. That doesn’t make them heterosexuals. Similarly, heterosexuals can have homosexual sex. That doesn’t make them homosexuals. The act and the orientation are two different things.
The men of Sodom, for example, were presumably predominantly heterosexual. They had wives and children. Two of them were betrothed to Lot’s daughters. The men of Sodom were not interested in gang raping Lot’s visitors because they were homosexuals. They were interested in raping them to attack and humiliate them. Not understanding this brings about a complete misunderstanding of what the story of Sodom and its destruction are all about. For more on this, please see:
What is the Sin of Sodom?
Confusing and conflating homosexuality with homosexual sex is endemic among conservative Christians. That confusion and conflation vitiates nearly all of their scholarship and statements on the subject of homosexuality and the Bible.
The Bible prohibits homosexual sex. It doesn’t say anything about homosexuality as an orientation.
About your other question, Paul is not Jesus. There is a distinction between words in the Bible that the Lord himself spoke and words that a human being spoke, even if they have divine inspiration behind them. My point is that Jesus himself never spoke a word about homosexuality or homosexual sex.
Once again, I recommend that you read the main article. The above article is simply a summary. It does not provide the full background and explanation of the points it covers.
What Lee is trying to say is that you must first evaluate the ends or objectives for which a relationship is based on before you even consider biological, social, political or economical attributes of the couple.
Is the end goal upon which a relationship is begun based on a chaste, monogamous and life long commitment to love the other and wherein the devotion to God is the centre of that relationship?
Is the ultimate objective of that relationship to build each other up so that they may both better serve their neighbours and communities?
This is the most important consideration and it applies to homosexual and heterosexual relationships. The homosexual relationships that Paul describes in his writings are not of the chaste, monogamous and spiritual kind.
The kind of relationships that Paul was talking about has more of a resemblance to the hook-up culture of both current day heterosexuals and homosexuals. Wherein there is only a physical relationship without a prior coming together of the minds and souls.
I have read Swedenborg’s book and I agree with him premise that procreation of the human race is the primary goal of marriage. This is a view supported by Catholicism too. Swedenborg writes that marriage is spiritually the union of truth and love.
So I do find it odd that homosexual unions would be considered marriage but nevertheless there are many homosexuals who have a deep genuine insecurities or difficulties in engaging in procreative unions. Sometimes a union with the same sex is their only resort for them to grow and experience a chaste, monogamous and spiritual relationship.
Rohan, homosexual unions are not considered marriage in God’s eyes. Jesus defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. Your reasoning that there are many homosexuals who have deep genuine insecurities or difficulties in engaging in procreative unions, is only conforming Scripture to enable man to sin. It doesn’t work that way. I hate to put it bluntly, but the act of a man inserting his penis into another man’s rectum, that God designed to be for defecating, is Satan’s ultimate mockery of God’s design. And if you, or anybody else cannot see that, then it is a very good indication that you will be suffering in hell along with the Sodomites.
I have deleted most of your comments today because they violate our comments policy, which I ask you to read before commenting further on this blog. Unfortunately, I was away from home all afternoon and unable to reply until now.
For now I’ll respond to just one of your points. My statement that Paul’s words are not Jesus’ words is simply a recognition of a distinction Paul himself makes in 1 Corinthians 7:
And a few verses later he says:
Here Paul distinguishes between commandments he has received from the Lord and statements he makes from his own opinion and understanding as “one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.” Clearly Paul did not equate his words with the Lord’s words. To treat them as if they are the same is disrespectful both to Paul and to our Lord Jesus Christ.
You will also notice in a red letter Bible that Jesus’ words are in red letters, while Paul’s words are not.
It is unfortunate that many traditional Christians, and especially many Protestants, have given Paul an authority equal to, or even greater than, that of the Lord himself in the Gospels. Paul didn’t teach the Lord. The Lord taught Paul. The Lord’s words in the Gospels are the core teachings of Christianity. According to his own testimony, Paul expounds upon those teachings from what he learned from the Lord through revelation, and, when he didn’t have a teaching or commandment from the Lord, from his own understanding as “one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.” Erasing that distinction is, once again, disrespectful both to Paul and to Jesus Christ.
Now, if you want to make some of your other points without all of the charged language, personal attacks, and insults, you are welcome to do so, and I will be happy to respond.
So Joe according to your interpretation of the scriptures, would a woman who cuts her hair to be like that of a man be sentenced to hell (with no exceptions whatsoever). Because 1 Corinthians 11 suggests that having long hair for women is God’s design. Just curious?
Despite conservative Christians’ common equating of homosexual sex with anal sex, the reality is that anal sex is not the predominant form of sex even among gay men; oral sex and mutual masturbation are more common among gay men than anal sex. And if we include lesbians (who are also homosexuals) in the figures, it is likely that the majority of homosexuals do not practice anal sex at all.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of heterosexual couples practice anal sex. As many as half of heterosexual couples have engaged in some form of anal sex at least once, and perhaps 10% to 20% engage in it regularly.
These figures are tentative, since there haven’t been many studies done. You can read what we do know at the Wikipedia page on anal sex, from which the above figures are taken.
In short, even if anal sex isn’t God’s plan, the reality is that it is not the primary form of sex among homosexuals, even among gay men, and it is fairly commonly practiced by heterosexuals as well. So the idea that homosexuality = anal sex is simply wrong.
Yes, I’ll get back to you on these issues in a few days, as I am on my way to the hospital to have surgery at 8:30 this morning and will need to recover.
And to Rohan, no the woman cutting her hair would not be an abomination against God, whereas homosexual sex would incur a multitude of condemnations from God, such as sexual immorality, dishonoring your body which is not yours, etc.
Good luck on your surgery and recovery.
From Madrid (Spain), thank you for all this amazing essay. Also most NDE gay experiencers didn’t felt judged for their sexuality AT ALL. I’m a single woman of 30 years old and raised catholic. I’m pretty much sure I’m bisexual with a much more romantic and sexual inclination to women.
3 months ago I finally come clean and told it to my parents. They said they love me… and even more knowing that. But I know my mom cannot truly accept it. She has been raised as a huge conservative catholic. She’s the person I love most (and the person she loves me most), and has a history of depression. So it’s not about myself and my relationship with her, it’s about her, I don’t want to hurt her, not a small part. If she’s gonna suffer I don’t want to be the cause. During these 3 month we’ve never talked about my bisexuality anymore so it’s like the conversation never happened. I know she doesn’t want to touch the subject anymore.
Now I’m single, but I know God has prepared me to a future life with a partner, a soulmate (probably a woman). I’m worried about how my mom is going to face that future situation. I want her truly happy since I love her.
Thanks for stopping by, and for telling your story. I’m glad you found this article so helpful!
About your mother, you’ve told her now, so she’s aware of it. But it will be mostly theoretical for her until you are actually in a relationship. In the meantime, it will be percolating in her mind. There’s no particular need keep talking to her about it unless she brings it up (which is unlikely), or you feel that it’s very important to say something to her about it at some point. Trying to convince her that being bisexual is perfectly okay is not likely to accomplish much except to create tension between you and her.
Once you’re in a relationship, that’s when it will become real for her.
That’s also when parents, siblings, and friends who are reluctant about or not accepting of non-straight relationships commonly come to acceptance and even celebration of it, if they are at all willing and able to do so.
Many straight people can’t understand how a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person could be happy with a same-sex partner until they actually see how happy their friend or loved one is in an actual same-sex relationship. (For you, that’s assuming that you do find a woman as your partner rather than a man—and, of course, that you’re happy in the relationship.)
Until you’re actually in a relationship with a woman, there will always be some uncertainty about how your mother will react, and whether she’ll accept it. That’s just one of those hard realities of life. Still, my suggestion is that you remain open to a relationship, and cross that bridge with your mother when you come to it. You can’t put your whole life on hold for fear that your mother won’t be able to accept it if you do something that she doesn’t approve of. Also, it can be a spiritual growth experience for people who were formerly not accepting of others’ differences to broaden their mind and heart to greater acceptance. Most likely, as your mother sees that the relationship makes you happy, she’ll come to accept it because she loves you and wants you see you happy and fulfilled in life.
Meanwhile, Godspeed on your spiritual journey!
Such great considerations. Also, from the religious perspective of nature: the homophobics justify their hate by saying that homosexuality “is not natural”. Well, again they are wrong in their justifications to hate, because practically in all animal species there is a certain percentage of homosexuality, from the dolphins to the parasites passing through penguins, elephants, monkeys, etcetera. Then homosexuality IS NATURAL. God has created it in almost all beings… humans or not, what is not natural is the hate of the homophobia that only occurs in humans. Hate is not natural, and I am saddened by those who seek justifications for their hate.
Even if homosexuality were not natural, it still wouldn’t be a justification for hate. Jesus taught us clearly and repeatedly, by both word and example, that we are to love, not hate, our enemies. So even if conservative Christians were right that homosexuality is not natural, it still would give them no excuse to hate homosexuals and condemn them to hell.
As you say, hate is not natural. If any Christian is hating people, he or she is not really a Christian.
More people need to read your articles. It always upsets me when someone says that homosexuality is a sin or even worse, that a pastor or counselor can “fix” it.
Maybe God never fixed any homosexuals because there was nothing wrong with them in the first place.
Much of the church is still stuck in old-fashioned thinking about homosexuality. I understand why they believe what they do, but it flies in the face of what we now know about homosexuality. In particular, as I say in this article and in the full-length version, we now know that homosexuals cannot be “fixed” and become heterosexuals. All efforts to do so, both religious and secular, have failed. In Christian terms, homosexuality is not something that can be “repented” from. Though bisexuals can, of course, go either way, homosexuals cannot. Sexual orientation is a basic, unchangeable part of a person’s character. This is the key point that originally convinced be that traditional Christianity is wrong about homosexuality.
Hello, Lee. I spent nearly over 2 hours reading on your stuff on this particular matter because I didn’t want to comment and then have you suggest me to read the above as you have already covered the issues. However, please forgive me if I appear ignorant of what have already been discussed here. It’s just that I don’t fully understand something, and I would much rather, and appreciate, if you narrow/simplify your meaning on this issue for me.
You said homosexuality is an orientation rather than an act. Certain people are born homosexually and there is no purpose of asking for forgiveness for how they were born. It’s just what it is. Reality.
While I see your reasoning on the matter and to some degree agree with you, particularly because I have seen guys at very young age, such as 3 year old, display homosexual traits and personalities ( i.e., walk and talk like girls without pretending), I am having a hard time understanding how our orientation isn’t connected with our sexual act.
If I was born homosexual, then this would mean I would be attracted to the same sex as I am. And by attracted, I am actually saying that I would have sexual interest with someone of the same sex as me.
Now, here is the question: Are you saying being homsexual isn’t a sin in itself since homosexuals were born that way, but having sexual intercourse with the same gender as oneself is?
Another thing I would like to ask. You said Chrsitians should not be hateful towards homosexuals which is what they seem to do. Instead, you call for them to do what Jesus asked of us all: to love one another.
Would I be seen as someone hateful if I told someone that what they were doing was wrong, assuming I attempt to correct the brother or sister in a loving and kind way?
For example: I walk up to a thief and say ” You know, sir, with all due respect, stealing is wrong, and I advise you to change.”
By telling the thief this, would I be seen as someone hateful?
The reason I ask is because that’s what I see a lot of Chrisitians are doing. They learn of a homosexual and advise him/her to change based on their belief that homosexual is a terrible sin.
Of course, there are those pretentious christians condemning the world around them. I often reject them as Christians.
And lastly. This is not a question but rather just a statement which you already covered up in this thread but I say it nonetheless just so you may spot a flaw and attempt to help me understand better.
Both God and Jesus spoke about a man and a woman concerning union. Jesus said a man would leave his parents and be unit with his wife. He then say they would become one flesh. God of the old testament commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. From the look of things pertaining to the bible, the Host seems to always referring to a man and a woman, and I believe this is why Christians feel uncomfortabe with homosexuals as the God they serve did not introduce them to homosexuality as part of His creation.
These are all good questions.
With regard to the last issue you raise, about the Bible speaking in terms of a marriage being between a man and a woman:
As I say in the section titled “Is homosexuality evil?” in the main article on homosexuality, in an abstract, philosophical sense, I don’t understand homosexuality, and I don’t know where it fits in with the overwhelming pattern in nature and in humanity of interaction between male and female. It doesn’t really make sense to me.
But just because it doesn’t make sense to me, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The Bible also talks in terms of woman being made from man, and woman being subservient to man—and that, ultimately, doesn’t make sense to me either. There is no scientific basis for the idea that man is superior to woman or that woman comes from man. If anything, man comes from woman, since every man is born of a woman. And in general, among mammals, both male and female are critical to the survival of the species.
Once again, if anything, the females have a greater role, because only they can bear young. The limit on the reproduction of the species is the females, not the males. That is why males commonly protect their females. Without females, males cannot pass on their genes to a new generation. And while males are capable of impregnating many females, females are capable of bearing only one litter of young at a time, and it takes considerable time to do so. This is the rather cruel biological reason why in nature, females are generally more highly prized than males. So there really isn’t any support in nature for the common conservative religious notion that males are more important than females.
Nor is there any support in nature for the idea that females came from males. I believe that the second Creation story, in Genesis 2, in which Eve is created from Adam, is meant to be read metaphorically, not literally. “Adam” prior to the creation of Eve represents humanity, both male and female. The Hebrew word adam means “humanity.” The creation of “Eve” out of “Adam” represents a division and separation of male and female that had not existed up to that time. Prior to that, male and female, while still distinct from one another, had worked together as equal partners, just as they were originally created in Genesis 1:26–27. For a related article, please see: “Man, Woman, and the Two Creation Stories of Genesis.”
In short, I don’t take everything the Bible says literally. Much of what’s in the Bible is metaphorical and spiritual in its meaning, not literal. See: “Can We Really Believe the Bible?” And much of that metaphor is expressed in terms of the particular cultural norms and practices of the times. This is covered in the main homosexuality article.
That is why, on the question of homosexuality, I fall back to the pragmatic level: does it actually do any harm? And as I cover under that same section (which I invite you to re-read for more detail), I simply don’t see anything harmful or evil in committed, faithful, monogamous same-sex relationships and marriages. That is the main reason I cannot consider homosexuality to be intrinsically evil, sinful, and contrary to God’s will.
This also throws light on your second question, about remonstrating with homosexuals in comparison with remonstrating with thieves.
One of the Ten Commandments is, “Thou shalt not steal.” Stealing is not only explicitly against God’s core commandments, but it also does real and serious harm to other people. If I steal someone’s car, they suddenly have no way to get to work, or getting to work becomes much more difficult. I have harmed them in real and definite ways. Therefore remonstrating with a thief—or more pragmatically, punishing thieves for their crimes—has a sound basis, because thieves are both breaking God’s law and doing real damage to other people.
The two Great Commandments are to love God above all, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Stealing breaks both commandments.
However, if two gay men or two lesbian women form a stable, long-term relationship with one another, it does not do any harm to anyone else. At least, not any harm that I’ve been able to see. It doesn’t take away straight people’s ability to form loving heterosexual relationships. It doesn’t deprive anyone of life, property, or rights. It doesn’t do anything to hurt anyone, as far as I can see.
So what is the basis for remonstrating with them, when, unlike the case with thieves, no harm comes to anyone as a result of their actions? And how can we even call same-sex attraction and relationships “evil” if, unlike breaking the laws in the Ten Commandments, they do not hurt anyone?
That is why I do not believe it is the same to remonstrate with homosexuals as it is to remonstrate with thieves.
Further, as also pointed out in these articles, while thieves can repent from their actions, and cease being thieves, homosexuals cannot repent from being homosexuals, and become heterosexuals. This has been so thoroughly tested and demonstrated by now that there really isn’t any doubt about it. It would be like remonstrating with a black person to stop being black, and be white instead. That is just not possible. And it would be highly insulting and prejudicial to do such a thing—implying that it is better to be white than to be black.
Therefore remonstrating with gays and lesbians to stop being gay or lesbian is worse than useless. Not only is it asking them to do something that is not possible, but it is insulting them and being prejudiced against them for something that is not subject to their will or their control. They just are gay or lesbian. That’s not going to change no matter how much we call upon them to “repent.”
This is also why I don’t accept the view that has become common among many conservative Christians that it’s not a sin to have a sexual attraction to people of the same sex, but it is a sin to actually have sex with someone of the same sex.
What heterosexual man or woman could accept that if it were said about them? Could I as a minister counsel a heterosexual man, “Yes, it’s fine for you to feel sexually attracted to women. But if you have sex with a woman, you are sinning”? That is clearly unreasonable. And if a heterosexual man actually believed me, it would cause intolerable contradictions between his natural desires and his allowable behavior. Such contradictions can tear a person apart. It’s not as though a heterosexual man or woman can stop being attracted to people of the opposite sex, and stop wanting to become one with them both physically and emotionally. Telling them they must not do so is thwarting their basic, unchangeable nature.
It would be exactly the same to say to a gay or lesbian person, “It’s fine for you to feel sexually attracted to people of the same sex, but you must not actually have sex with them.” I know that conservative Christians are trying to be “reasonable” when they say such things. But regardless of their intentions, they are putting any gay or lesbian person who believes them into an intolerable situation, in which they are not allowed to express a basic, unchangeable part of their nature. Whenever I hear a Christian gay or lesbian saying that they refrain from forming any romantic relationship because it would be a sin to do so, I feel very sad for them, and very angry at the misguided “Christians” who have inculcated this wrong and destructive idea into their minds, dooming them to a life of loneliness.
Once again, it’s not like asking thieves not to steal, or murderers not to kill, or adulterers not to commit adultery. It is possible for us human beings to repent from all of these things, and to cease being thieves, murderers, and adulterers. But it is not possible for homosexuals to cease being homosexuals and become heterosexuals. It is a basic part of their nature.
The desire to unite with another person in love, and express that love physically in sex, is also a basic and very powerful part of our nature. For the 96% or so of the population that is heterosexual, that drive is to unite with someone of the opposite sex. For the less than 4% of the population that is gay or lesbian, that drive is to unite with someone of the same sex. In either case, the drive is just as powerful. And in either case, blocking and thwarting it, and not allowing it any expression, is highly damaging to the spirit and character of the person.
We humans, with very few exceptions, want and need intimate union with another person. Saying to one group of human beings, “You are now allowed to have that,” is doing great damage to them. And saying that gays and lesbians cannot have an intimate relationship with someone of their own sex is saying that they cannot have intimate relationships at all.
To give the parallel example, what if we said to straight men and women, “You can have an intimate relationship, but only with someone of your own sex”? Practically speaking, we would be telling them that they are not allowed to have an intimate relationship at all. Straight men and women are not romantically and sexually attracted to people of their own sex. They cannot engage in a romantic and intimate relationship with someone of their own sex.
Annette and I believe that gays and lesbians should be free to form romantic and sexual relationships with people of their own sex according to their inner drive and desire not only because it is cruel to deny them this—which is the same as denying them any romantic and intimate relationship at all—but also because marriage is one of the greatest forums for spiritual growth that God has given to us humans. In a loving marriage, we help each other to become less selfish and more loving every day.
God could have made us asexual beings. But God chose to create us to be pairs, not lone individuals. And in pairing with another human being, we learn to think of the other person’s happiness and well-being just as much as, if not more than, we think about our own well-being. The practice we gain by doing this within marriage expands outward to our relationships with all of our fellow human beings, making us more thoughtful, considerate, and kind to other people than if we were loners who had to care only for our own needs.
It is exactly the same for gays and lesbians, except they will have that forum for spiritual growth in a relationship with someone of their own sex rather than with someone of the opposite sex. Denying them marriage—which for them must be same-sex marriage—is denying them the greatest forum for spiritual growth that God has given to human beings. Annette and I believe that it is very wrong and unChristian to do such a thing.
I recognize that there are many people (you being one of them) who are unable to form a marriage relationship here on earth for one reason or another. And that certainly is unfortunate for those who long to be married. There are, of course, many ways to grow spiritually outside of marriage as well. We still have relationships with parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, and so on. We can still learn how to love God and the neighbor in these other relationships. I don’t mean to say that it is necessary to be married in order to grow into a highly spiritual person. Just that marriage provides an especially effective forum for spiritual growth.
Regardless of the unfortunate reality that many people who want to get married are not able to do so, Annette and I believe that it is wrong to deny marriage to people who can get married—including people who can be honestly and really married only to someone of their own sex.
I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to continue the conversation if you wish.
Thank you for your thoroughly explained response to my questions, Lee. I highly appreciated it.
I found it ironic that you brought up the Adam and Eve theory about how they came about. Because this issue has always been on my mind and I didn’t know how to formalize the question about their existence.
One week ago, I told my friend that I was having a hard time accepting what the bible says about how Eve was created, that she was formed from a rib removed from Adam’s body while he was put to a deep sleep. Although I respect God and believe nothing is impossible for Him, I still couldn’t visualize or imagine a rib would be all was needed to form the female rather than the same soil Adam was made of. But then again, in the back of my head I was thinking if God can make man from the soil of the earth, then what is so impossible for him to make woman from a rib?
It seems like God can even make a man out of air.
But the math becomes complicated as we understand the differences between man and woman. If the woman came from a man, why is it that the woman is so different from the man? And when I say different, I am not talking about her body frame, but her intelligence is obviously distinctive. And by saying her intelligence is different, I am not saying she is smarter or dumber but instead saying she functions and thinks differently.
For example: I have spoken to many women and I realized I do not relate to them in their way of thinking. But I do relate to a lot of males.
So this is where my doubt comes in. I am uncertain of the story of Adam and Eve, and hearing from you on this issue has helped convince me that the story is indeed metaphorical rather than literal, and extensive research and study are needed to fully comprehend the problematic bible. I can’t even fathom how a snake literally spoke to a human being.
Next: I completely agreed with you about homosexuality. And like you, I don’t understand how it fits with God’s creation, either.
I have a question. You said as long as what we do does not harm anyone, then you don’t see a problem. When looking at 1. Corinthians 6:12-20, I see that Paul says our bodies aren’t ours and that our bodies were bought at a price. Therefore, we are to honor God with our bodies. From my understanding of what Paul seems to indicate here, even if I were to sleep with a prostitute where no harm would be done to anyone involved, I would end up sinning against God. Because my body is the temple of Christ. I think it is safe to compare this to a drug addict. If a drug addict keeps abusing himself with drugs where no other harm was done to anyone else, he would still be sinning against the holy Spirit. Paul goes on to say that people say food is meant for our body and our body is meant for food, but that God will destroy both. And that he advises us to not let a certain urge take over our self-control. By saying this, I am now wondering if this applies to homosexuals as well since God has never introduced homosexuality as part of His creation. And in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 it says effeminates will not inherit the Kingdom of God because of unrighteousness.
And yes, I know you have responded to someone else on these scriptures I provided here ( I think it was from the guy Joe) but I am choosing to mention them again in hopes you might provide the same answer but in a different way for me to understand clearer like you did in your previous response to me, which was very helpful and precise.
To take up the first issue you raise, about how to read the Bible:
Though the Bible is expressed in earthly stories and imagery, it is not a book of science and history. It is, rather, a book about moral and spiritual issues. It is therefore a basic mistake to read it as if it were a textbook on earthly subjects. That was never its purpose even when its original human authors wrote down these stories—most of which started out as stories passed down orally, and were only later written down. The early seers and prophets who composed the Scriptures were not scientists, nor were they philosophers. They were concerned with passing on moral and spiritual truth and understanding in a vivid and memorable form. The result was our Bible.
It is, once again, a fundamental mistake, made by fundamentalists everywhere, to read the Bible as if it were some sort of scientific and historical textbook. That’s simply not the purpose of the Bible. If, as we believe, the Bible is the Word of God, then its purpose is to convey spiritual truth of service to our spiritual life to eternity, not natural truth of use to our earthly life in the world. It is about how to be a good person, not about how the physical universe works.
For more on this, please see:
Can We Really Believe the Bible?
About those earliest chapters of Genesis, the idea that they are meant to tell the literal story of how the physical earth was made, along with its plant, animal, and human organisms, is rather silly considering that in ancient times, when these stories were originally composed, science as we know it today did not exist, and people didn’t think scientifically. The stories in the first ten or eleven chapters of Genesis are “myths,” which means, not “false” stories, but stories that contain deeper, metaphorical meanings. The ancient style of writing involved expressing human and divine realities in vivid imagery taken from the natural world around them. Even if those stories may have innocently been taken by many simple-minded people to be actual origin stories, the wiser among them knew that these were stories about God, spirit, and our moral and spiritual life.
It was only in later ages, when we humans became very physical-minded and materialistic, that we began to think that these stories were meant to be read literally and materially, as describing how God physically created the material universe. That idea is a very low-level, unenlightened view of God’s Word.
The two Creation stories contained in the first two chapters of Genesis are no different. They were never intended, even by their original human writers (who were inspired by God from within) to be about how the physical universe was literally created. They were about how God created us as spiritual beings. In other words, they are about our spiritual creation, which is our process of being “born again,” in Jesus’ words. For more on this, please see:
Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth
If we try to read the Creation stories in the Bible literally, we run into all sorts of contradictions, not only with present-day scientific knowledge, but also within the Bible itself. For example, things are created in a completely different order in the first Creation story in Genesis 1 than they are in the second Creation story in Genesis 2. For just one example of this, in Genesis 1, humans are created last, after all the other plants and animals. But in the second Creation story, humans (Hebrew adam) are created first, before all of the plants and other animals. The two stories flatly contradict one another, and cannot be reconciled, if we take them literally. But spiritually, they tell a beautiful and coherent story of our rebirth, or new creation, as spiritually wise and loving human beings.
The above-linked article on “regeneration” provides a thumbnail sketch of this process based on the seven days of Creation in the first Creation story. The second Creation story is deeper and more complex, and I do not yet have an article here explaining its specific spiritual meaning. However, Swedenborg does provide a detailed spiritual explanation of both stories in his massive work Arcana Coelestia (Secrets of Heaven), which explains the spiritual meaning of the books of Genesis and Exodus verse by verse.
In general, as I said, “Adam” (Hebrew for “humanity”), as originally created, represents humanity as a whole. The creation of Eve out of Adam is not meant to describe how woman was literally created. As you say, that really doesn’t work physiologically. Scientifically, if God took a rib out of Adam, and Adam is considered to be a male human being, that rib would have male DNA, and could not be formed into a woman. But spiritually, it is a process of male and female diverging from one another, and no longer having their early level of complete spiritual and emotional oneness, after we humans first began to move away from the original perfection in which God created us. Notice that Eve is created out of Adam’s rib only after the first thing is said to be “not good,” in Genesis 2:18. There is not time to go into this in detail here. But once again, for some inkling of what this is all about in connection with male/female relations, please see:
Man, Woman, and the Two Creation Stories of Genesis
I hope this much at least reassures you that the Bible is a perfectly Divine book, if only we understand that it is meant to tell us about our spiritual life and our relationship to God and to our fellow human beings, not about science and the origins of the physical world and the human species. I am perfectly content to let the scientists suss out how this physical universe works, and how we humans originated as a species. There is no contradiction between their conclusions and the Bible, because science is about physical reality, whereas the Bible is about spiritual reality, and about God.
In response to your second question relating to our body as a temple, and how this relates to homosexuality:
First, keep in mind that we ourselves are also human beings, and we are therefore our own neighbor, just as other people are our neighbor. If we do things that are harmful to ourselves, that is also harming our “neighbor,” and is therefore evil, whether or not it is actually sinful (intentionally evil). So it’s not as simple as saying that as long as we don’t harm anyone else, there’s nothing wrong with it. If we smoke and drink and eat bad food, it may not hurt anyone else, but it hurts our own body and mind, and is therefore evil. Under civil law we can’t stop people from harming themselves. But it is still harmful, destructive, and evil to do so.
Besides, when we harm ourselves, we are also harming other people, because we are no longer in such a good position to provide our contribution to the well-being of others. Consider parents who are drug addicts. They are doing serious harm to their children emotionally, and often physically as well, due to their addiction. We are not islands unto ourselves. What we do to ourselves affects our relationships with everyone around us.
When I say that I don’t see any harm from faithful, loving, monogamous homosexual relationships, I don’t just mean harm to other people, but harm to the gay or lesbian couple themselves.
The usual example brought up to contradict this is that anal sex is physiologically problematic, and has more potential physiological complications than vaginal sex. However, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere:
In other words, the common conservative Christian notion that homosexuality = anal sex is simply wrong.
The greatest dangers from illicit sex are from promiscuity. This applies to both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. People, whether gay or straight, who have only one lifelong sexual partner rarely if ever contract sexually transmitted diseases. But people who have multiple sexual partners fairly commonly contract STDs—and the more sexual partners, the more likely a person is to become infected.
Therefore even physiologically, prostitution is problematic. It is a form of promiscuity: prostitutes sleep with many men, and men who use the services of prostitutes commonly sleep with many different prostitutes. Yes, with today’s medical knowledge we can greatly reduce the risk of contracting STDs from prostitutes. But we can’t entirely eliminate that risk. And of course, in Bible times there was no such medical knowledge, and prostitution was a primary means of spreading STDs. The most effective way of avoiding STDs is to have only one sexual partner. This applies to homosexual relationships just as much as it does to heterosexual relationships.
In short, even if we only consider physical health and disease, prostitution has historically, and still does today, cause problems by its very nature as an inherently promiscuous relationship.
A man who uses the services of prostitutes can reduce his risk by sleeping with only one prostitute. But she, meanwhile, has to sleep with multiple men in order to make a living. So the risk is always there. Plus, prostitutes come and go. If that is a man’s regular sexual outlet, over the course of his life he is inevitably going to sleep with multiple prostitutes, even if he frequents only one during a particular period of time.
Practically speaking, though, most men who are fine with using the services of prostitutes also like variety in their women. They will jump from prostitute to prostitute in order to get that variety.
Men in their natural “unregenerate” state commonly desire sexual variety. If they do not hold themselves to a moral code, and do not aspire to an inner spiritual marriage, but are looking only for physical pleasure, then sex is all about the conquest and the pleasure of a woman’s naked body. And the more conquests, the better!
Once such a man has gotten a particular woman undressed, gotten his visuals, put his hands on her, and had sex with her in all his favorite positions and scenarios (but he’ll use the common crude four-letter word for “have sex”), he loses all interest in her. He’s on to the next conquest. The more women he sleeps with, the more masculine he feels.
For such a man, there are two kinds of women:
The women he has slept with he has no further interest in. No matter how beautiful they may be, they are not attractive to him at all. In his eyes, they are like used cars: he’s already “driven” them.
But the women he has not slept with are highly desirable prospects—assuming, of course, that they’re young and pretty. These women are the flashy new cars that he wants to buy. Such a man thinks of women as game, their bodies as meat, and their vaginas as trophies. He will go to great and elaborate lengths to achieve his goal of poking his penis into the body of whatever woman he is currently pursuing. It’s all about the hunt. And the hunt is driven entirely by his “little brain.” Once such a man has “captured” the woman he was pursuing, and fully “used” her sexually, he casts her aside like a used condom and moves on to his next pursuit and conquest. Such men are little better than animals. See: “The Red Pill Movement (PUA): Men Waking Up as Animals.”
This leads to the other, deeper reason that prostitution, and promiscuity in general, does real harm.
If a man frequents prostitutes because he has no other outlet for his natural sexual drives, that’s one thing. It’s not ideal, but it’s also not the worst possible outlet. It’s far better than seducing inexperienced and naive young women in a “pump and dump” scheme that leaves so many women emotionally shattered when they realize too late that their Prince Charming is not going to ride off with them into the sunset.
However, if a man frequents prostitutes and generally engages in promiscuous sex with as many women as he can because he is focused entirely on his own physical pleasure and on building up his (toxic) sense of “masculinity,” then it’s an entirely different thing. Such a man is progressively destroying his ability to engage in a real marriage.
Real marriage starts with an inner connection and oneness, which is then expressed in the physical oneness of sexual intercourse. It is possible only with one partner. Men and women who long for and achieve such a relationship find themselves becoming completely uninterested in anyone else besides their own partner in marriage. While they may appreciate the beauty of another woman or man aesthetically, there will be no romantic or sexual desire in that appreciation, because their hearts and minds are bound up with their own partner. She or he is the only one they find romantically and sexually attractive for themselves.
Sleeping promiscuously with multiple prostitutes and multiple other available women, by contrast, causes a man to go deeper and deeper into a purely physical, entirely unspiritual attitude and approach to relationships—one that is not much different from the mating of lower animals. It is at the opposite extreme from real, spiritual marriage. Such men may feel hypermasculine if they’ve been successful in having sex with many women. But in the end, their “masculinity” will become empty as they themselves become old and used, and are no longer able to attract women for sex as they did when they were young. If they’re rich, they may be able to attract beautiful young women much longer. But eventually, their life of sexual conquest will be over, and they will become an empty shell of a man. In the spiritual world, they may re-start their life of sexual conquest, but it will never have the level of satisfaction that it did during their younger years on earth. Eventually they will become incapable of having sex anymore, and will therefore lose all interest in women—which will be the torment of hell for them.
The opposite is true of men and women who seek real marriage, which is a union of minds and hearts between two people. For such people, the relationship grows deeper and more satisfying and joyful as the year pass. Even if one or the other becomes incapable of having sex due to age or disease, the relationship itself continues to grow. That’s because it is not based on physical pleasure, but on an inner oneness. Once they move on to the spiritual world, they will regain their youthful vigor, and will once again engage in lovemaking that goes beyond anything we are capable of experiencing here on earth. Their love is eternal, and grows stronger and deeper to eternity.
So you see, prostitution, and the promiscuity that is part and parcel of it, is not just a neutral thing that does no harm. Yes, it has some use in providing a sexual outlet for men who have no other means of satisfying their sex drive, and for whom masturbation just isn’t going to do it. That’s why it is tolerated even in most civil societies today. But its seamier side involves a cheap physical focus that leads people farther and farther away from real marriage as God intended it.
Of course, gays and lesbians who engage in promiscuity and prostitution are subject to the same principle. Their view and experience of sex will become more and more cheap and physical, until it burns itself out.
But gays and lesbians who long for a loving, faithful, monogamous relationship can experience such a relationship with someone of their own sex. Whether or not traditional heterosexuals think of it as “marriage,” for gays and lesbians who seek and achieve such a relationship, it is, and functions emotionally and spiritually as, marriage just as much as heterosexual marriage does for straight men and women.
That is why comparing prostitution to faithful, loving, monogamous same-sex marriage is a false equivalency. It is no more valid than comparing prostitution to faithful, loving, monogamous heterosexual marriage.