The Top Regret of the Dying

There’s an article circulating on Facebook titled “The Top Regrets of the Dying,” written by a nurse named Bronnie Ware, who for many years worked in palliative care.  Ware writes about her experiences working with people in the last three to twelve weeks of their lives and of their sharing with her the most pressing regrets of their life.  The number one voiced regret of her patients was:

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Living a life true to oneself is something we all grapple with at one time or another.  But for those who happen to be both Christian and gay, the struggle to live authentically can be an all encompassing one and a life-long endeavor.  The following sentiment from one Christian gay man I mentored is fairly indicative of what many gay believers experience before they come to terms with being gay and ultimately integrate their rich Christian faith with their sexuality:

 “My life had been a long and strenuous process of self-denial, a long and ultimately unrewarding pattern of placating my way through life, of going through the motions, of following somebody else’s chart to someone else’s destination, and of forgetting almost completely, or repressing the memory of, such validating life experiences as would have helped me identify myself and rejoice in my own identity.  It led me up the road to what appeared to be success — because my chosen way of fighting what I felt to be my illegitimacy was to create a life of measurable legitimacy — but what actually was a lifelong charade up to that point.  I recognized myself as a triumphantly successful, soul-sick wretch, the proverbial empty shell.  I was trying my utmost to live a life that was never mine to live to begin with.” 

GROWING UP GAY

The story of how a young man who happens to be gay becomes a mature and responsible adult male is often not like other boy-to-man stories.  Our society most often aborts or derails the gay man’s development early, either directly by oppression and ostracism, or indirectly through self-hatred and self-limitation that constant oppression and ostracism so successfully incubate and nurture.  Not all gay men even begin the journey; some live whole lives in hiding, either from themselves, from the church, from the larger society or all three.  Still others turn to suicide.

In many cases the emergence of the “different” self, is followed so closely, so immediately and so diligently by the campaign of voluntary and involuntary concealment that the identity of gay men in our society is almost by its own nature cloaked in disguises from the very beginning.  From the earliest of the closeted gay man’s experiences, his mechanisms for concealment become paramount in his arsenal for growth.

He begins by concealing parts of himself from himself.  The duplicity eventually rewards him with lowered self-esteem for his deceit.  He becomes depressed because of his low self-esteem.  The depression intensifies the need for concealment, since he associates his self-esteem with the hidden truth about himself.  Further concealment continues the cycle.

TRYING TO CHANGE

We now know that efforts to change one’s sexual orientation fail.  People who have experimented with homosexual behavior (as many heterosexual people do) can turn away from it.  Homosexuals, like heterosexuals, can become celibate.  Or they can marry against their desires and have children.  But research on efforts to help people do a 180 degree U-turn with their sexual orientation — their feelings and fantasies — reveals that no such treatment is effective.  Many a person has tried hoping upon hope to escape their culture’s contempt without succeeding.

Christian ex-gay organizations have had a go at this too offering support to those seeking to leave their orientation.  But many — including more than thirteen such organizations affiliated with Exodus International — have been abandoned by their ex ex-gay founders.  Countless former ex-gay ministry leaders, including myself, confess that they counseled hundreds of people who tried to change their sexual orientation and none of them changed.  The bottom line is it doesn’t work.

Many gay and lesbian Christians have felt “called” to heterosexuality, but after years of effort, prayer, laying on of hands, Christian counseling, and searing guilt, have found only misery and in many cases lost faith.  While there is no scientific evidence that reparative or conversion therapy is effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation, there is much evidence that this type of therapy can be destructive.

FAST FORWARD

What happens to gay Christians who continue to repress and suppress their orientation?  Many join the ranks of those who lament: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

One leader of an international Christian ministry received a touching letter from an 85 year old professor emeritus of a well-known evangelical college telling him how very much he would like to have a mate after all these years of sublimating and denying his homosexuality.  But he wrote that he knew that would now be impossible.  He wished he’d had the courage to live a life true to himself, not the life others expected of him.

Another story involves a conversation with another older man who decided early on, based on what he had been taught by other Christians, that homosexuality was out of the question.  He consequently suppressed and denied his sexuality, got married, and fathered and raised two children.  He did everything he thought society and the Church expected of him.  His children are now grown, living lives of their own, and he has since retired.  But he recently sat down with a colleague and poured his heart out in remorse explaining that now in his senior years his homosexuality has come back to haunt him with a vengeance, and he deeply regrets that he spent his life denying and suppressing it.  He considers it the most costly mistake of his life.  Sadly these stories are not unique of the many who continue to repress and suppress their orientation.

SUMMARY

You don’t have to wait until you’re on your death bed to appreciate that aging is God’s way of telling you that you don’t have time to waste.  It’s an opportunity to ask:  What am I tethered to that’s not good for me?   What can I move past and move forward into?   Growing old is a privilege, for not everyone gets to do it.  Aging then is a gift.   I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be — though I am sometimes taken aback by that older person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my dad!).

Jesus himself taught: “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly”  (John 10:10).   Yet philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once remarked, “Christ turned water into wine, but the church has succeeded in doing something even more difficult: it has turned wine into water.”  He meant it, of course, as a critique of the church of his day for diminishing, trivializing and otherwise squandering the extraordinary gift that had been given it and pinching God into a straightjacket of exclusionary judgmentalisms.   It may be applicable as well to churches that have driven from its doors literally millions of gay men and women who would have accepted Christ.

But then, the same critique might be made of individual Christian lives as well. Isn’t abundant life a wondrous miracle?  And don’t you think it’s out there all of the time, everywhere if we only had the eyes to see it?  I think Shakespeare got it right when he said: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”  The reverse is also true:  Be false to yourself and you will be false to everyone.  “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” need not be among the regrets you grieve over toward the end of the life God has given you.  As Mark Twain rightly said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”  And those twenty years will pass by awfully fast.

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About Alex Haiken

Born to a Jewish family in New York City, I came to faith in Christ in 1982 after trying to disprove the Bible. I found so much evidence in support of the claims of Jesus and the Bible that it required more faith to reject it than to believe it. I hold a Master’s degree from Westminster Theological Seminary and among other things am a lecturer, teacher, blogger and conference speaker. I came out as gay at a young age but was taught when I came to faith that I could not be both Christian and gay. I served for a time as a leader of an ex-gay ministry but shifted my views after recognizing that when the few passages generally appealed to in this debate are examined more closely and in context, the traditional anti-gay interpretations do not hold up to scrutiny. I learned that the ex-gay route is a scripturally unsound mirage, a specious illusion that deceitfully draws people not to a life-giving oasis but to a deeper and deeper spiritual desert. Seeing the immense need for education in this area, I began to speak and write about my experience and new-found convictions. I am also passionate about helping the Church better understand her rich Jewish roots; helping other Jewish people understand Jesus as their Jewish Messiah; and helping other gay people integrate a theologically sound, committed Christian faith with their sexuality. It is my hope that the reflections in this blog will prompt you to explore the paths they suggest, leading to your own more eloquent thinking, exploration and action. If you want, visit the “Contact” page and let me know what you think.
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22 Responses to The Top Regret of the Dying

  1. Great reflection. Great blog!!!

  2. Very powerful – for all of us – Alex. I will remember this post and share it with friends.

  3. Liza Jane says:

    God doesn’t accept sin disguised as ” I was born this way”.

    I think the deepest regret of many is most likely rejecting the truth of what God says is sin, thereby making it impossible to repent, believe, and be saved.

  4. Alex Haiken says:

    Liza Jane, how often those who purport to believe in the life-changing work of the Holy Spirit are quick to usurp His role when they feel He is not doing His job according to their view of Scripture. As Paul says, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). Perhaps the warning of Jesus about the perils of trying to conduct eye-surgery when you are unwittingly the victim of poor vision yourself would be a salutary one for you to remember here.

  5. Liza Jane says:

    Alex, no, salvation is not of God ‘alone’. Man added that word (alone). As we know, man has the personal free-will choice to repent and believe….or not. I am not given the authority to be man’s ultimate Judge of who is saved and who is not. All I know is that it’s common for man to try to find loopholes in the Bible to excuse their particular sin so they ‘think’ they don’t need to repent of it. Where a sin in the Bible is called an abomination there is no doubt about it being a sin, and a grievous one to God. Whether or not one wants to repent (turn from his sin) and believe God (that what God says is sin ‘is’ sin) is entirely up to the individual. We can choose to accept the truth (the Word/Christ) or to deny it/him.
    God’s grace is always there for the taking, but sadly some love their sin more.

  6. Alex Haiken says:

    Liza Jane, again, you don’t get to make things up as you go. When it comes to salvation, the ultimate question is who saves? And there are only two answers: either man is capable of saving himself or God is the one who saves. Paul makes it clear that God is the one who does the saving. God “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions; it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:5).

    If it is God who saves, then how does He save? According to Scripture He sovereignty and freely works in the human heart to bring about salvation and that grace is conveyed when and where God in His good pleasure wants to convey it (see John 3). This means it is based 100% on God and 0% based on us. Sorry, as much as you might like to take some credit, you can’t.

    A marvelous OT illustration of God’s sovereign act of saving and bringing new life to those who are dead (and a parallel passage to John 3) is Ezekiel 37, the passage concerning the valley of the dry bones. Verse 11 identifies the dry bones as “the whole house of Israel.” The passage concerns the dry (i.e. dead) bones that will be brought back to life by God Himself. Verse 8 tells us that “tendons and flesh appeared on [the bones] and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.” This illustrates the house of Israel is/was dead and needed to be made alive. This parallels Genesis 2:7 where we see that God Himself breathed “the breath of life” into Adam and man became a living being. Verse 9 informs us the wind was told to blow upon the dead bodies and they were restored to life. The wind here parallels the John 3 passage and represents the Holy Spirit and His saving powers. In Verse 12 God says, “I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them,” further depicting that it is God who does the saving. In Verse 14 He says, “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live,” again referencing the Spirit as being sovereign in saving and paralleling John 3.

    In the preceding chapter (Ezekiel 36), we see more parallels to the John 3 passage. 36:25 says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.” Water again parallels John 3 where in 3:5 Jesus explains that this new birth from above is by water and Spirit. And in 36:27 God says, “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees…” As depicted in John 3, salvation is brought about from God only through the Holy Spirit. No created power or sacrament could restore human bones to life. God alone brings about the saving and causes the dry dead bones (i.e., Israel) to live again.

    When we accept God’s good gift of grace, it is only because God moved on our hearts and enabled us to so. He causes us to turn — not us. You weren’t smart enough, good enough or in the right place at the right time. It’s all God’s grace. As for your reference to “loopholes”, I’d suggest you read my post titled “Looking for Loopholes.” You can find a link for it on the “Archives” page.

  7. Liza Jane says:

    Alex, it sounds like you’re a Calvinist (one who believes God predestined each of future mankind to heaven or hell before any of them were born). Of course, I reject this theology of man (John Calvin) and it’s waaaaay off our topic.

    Getting back to the point. If you believe you were chosen by God to be saved, and yet choose to remain in your sin (an abuse of grace), is that not a contradiction?

  8. Alex Haiken says:

    Liza Jane, for the record I would not consider myself a Calvinist. But back to the point at hand, wherein lies the contradiction? With regard to your certainty about who is in sin and who is not, you may point your finger of judgment at others till you’re blue in the face, but we’re still stuck with the internal interpretation of the text as the primary meaning. I’ll remind you again that we don’t get to make up who is in sin and who is not to fit our pet doctrinal prejudices and/or personal aversions. Responsible biblical exegesis still requires that we seek to “draw out” from the text what it originally meant to the author and to the original intended audience, without reading into it the many traditional interpretations that may have grown up around it. Where is your exegesis of the passages you so confidently use to condemn others? The answer is you offer none at all! In your repeated comments here you simply presuppose that any expression of homosexuality is sin without any exegesis whatsoever to back it up and you expect everyone else to do the same. That’s not exegesis; that’s eisegesis, i.e., reading things into the text that were never intended by the author. Eisegesis is precisely what we’re to avoid if we wish to responsibly interpret the Bible.

    Those of us with respect for Bible interpretation and biblical authority do not look for “loopholes”. What we seek is harder and infinitely more important to find than easy outs. We search for the intention of the original writers. Who was the writer and to whom was he writing? What was the occasion of his writing? What was the cultural and historical setting of the writer and the text? What were the meaning of the words in the writer’s day? Exegesis is an investigation. The question we always have to be asking is, “What’s going on here?” To an extent, careful study can open those meanings to us if we’re humble enough not to presume we already know. We try hard to get past what we think we already know to find out what we’re looking at. If you bothered to invest the time and effort to apply these established rules of biblical exegesis to the texts that you so violate, you’d discover that when the few passages of Scripture that generally get appealed to in this debate are examined more closely and in context, the standard or traditional interpretations of these passage simply do not hold up to scrutiny. Or phrased differently, your presupposition that all gay people are in sin and all homosexual relationships are sinful is exegetically unsupportable unless you rip the passages from their context and replace them in another age for the sake of convenience. Sorry my dear, but we don’t get to do that.

    • Raymond Beck says:

      It’s impossible to read of David & Jonathon’s love for each other, and not see same sex “friendship” as close to agape. Jesus & the “beloved disciple” are too close. If you’re a red letter person, Jesus never spoke against gays. When he explained “eunuchs” he seems to be referring to gays. Paul passed by & visited the capital of Lesbos, on his journeys, but never saying anything anti-gay. Paul did say there is no difference between Jew & Greek. At the time Greeks were known for homosexuality. Still, Jesus was more than prophetic when he was more than pro women, at a time when everyone was male supremacist.

      • Alex Haiken says:

        Raymond,

        I think you need to be careful about reading things into the biblical text that simply are not there. You said: “When he explained ‘eunuchs’ he seems to be referring to gays.”

        Responsible exegesis is about drawing out from the Bible what the text meant to the original author and the original intended audience. We know there were three kinds of eunuchs known in the Ancient world and Jesus mentions all three. These were:

        (1) “Those made eunuchs by God.” These were those born without sexual organs or with some physical imperfection or deformity, such as undescended testicles.
        (2) “Those made eunuchs by people.” Frequently in royal palaces servants, especially those who had to do with the royal harem, were deliberately castrated. Priests who served in temples were also frequently castrated. We know this was true of the priests who served in the Temple of Diana in Ephesus.
        (3) Then Jesus talks about “those who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of God.” These are those who willingly renounced marriage as a free choice for purposes of ministry and/or better serving the Kingdom. Jesus freely concedes that for those to whom this has been given “it is better not to marry” and “the one who can accept this should accept it.”

        If you want to apply any of these to gay people you’re free to do so, but that hardly constitutes responsible exegesis (i.e., drawing out from the text what it meant to the original author and original intended audience). On the contrary, that is “eisegesis” or what some theologians refer to as “frontloading” (i.e., reading one’s own personal, political, ideological or prejudicial beliefs back into the text). The former is about getting out of the text what is truly there in the first place; the latter is about putting into the text something never intended by the author.

        And yes, Paul did say there is neither Jew nor Greek. It should be noted though that in the same breath, he also said there is neither male nor female, but we all know there’s a difference. What he’s referring to here is our equal standing in Christ. He is saying that neither Jews nor Greeks have greater or higher standing in Christ and neither males nor females have greater or higher standing in Christ. This was quite a revolutionary teaching at a time When gentiles were considered as “unclean dogs” and women in the patriarchal biblical world had little status. But Paul is certainly not saying that you and I ceased to be “male” anymore when we became Christians.

  9. Liza Jane says:

    Alex, many texts in the Scriptures, including all those relating to homosexuality, simply need no exegesis as they stand all too clear on their own. We should not try to make what is simple, complex or confused, especially when it’s so obviously done in an attempt to justify sin, which by the way does not fool the God who is not mocked.

    As for the judgment of individuals to heaven or hell, we must leave that up to God, the ultimate Judge of all mankind. But as for sin, we are to judge what God calls sin, evil, not good. The Bible says, “Woe unto them that call evil good….” (Isa 5:20) That’s what I see happening when men exegete the truth to make it a lie (and God a liar).

    Would you really need to ‘exegete’ the following passage to determine whether or not God calls the behavior of homosexuality….evil?

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;……25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Rom 1:18….27)

    By the way, isn’t it more loving to show and tell the truth to folks before they die than it is to confirm and comfort them in their sin.

  10. Alex Haiken says:

    Liza Jane, you have got to be joking!!! Do you really think “all texts relating to homosexuality simply need no exegesis as they stand all too clear on their own” is actually going to fly here? Appeals to what is “all too clear” often go no deeper into the Bible’s complexities than the “common sense” that knows the earth is flat. Need I remind you that over the years well-meaning Christians have found it “all too clear” that the world is only 6,000 years old, that slavery is God-ordained, that women and blacks should not be allowed to vote, that interracial marriage is wrong, that women should neither preach, teach or wear lipstick, and the list goes on and on.

    With each successive comment you make, you increasingly demonstrate your inability and unwillingness to exegetically substantiate your own position. If your doctrine is not exegetically supportable, (which it clearly is not and this blog was specifically developed to provide exegetical treatments of the very passages you so brutally violate), you’re not only chasing wind, but also wasting my time and everyone else’s.

    Exegesis prevents people like you from playing fast and loose with the biblical text. Exegesis prevents people from reading their own personal doctrinal prejudices into the text. Exegesis separates the dreamers from those who respect the biblical text enough to do their homework so they don’t violate it so. Exegesis shines light on those who allow their personal agendas, ambitions and other pressures to be sparing with biblical truth when it comes to steering their Christian ministries, reputations, careers, sustaining their income, and in other areas of life.

    Truth is not always comfortable. Sometimes truth is costly. Sometimes truth will put us at odds with our communities and with the people we most care about. But we have a responsibility to be a discerning people. We cannot afford to be naïve and simply follow ideas and teachings for the sake of tradition, our personal comfort, or because of our cultural backgrounds and learned distastes.

    What happens when we ignore the historical context of Scripture? As the old time radio teacher, Dr. J. Vernon Magee, used to say, “A text without a context is a pretext.” The dictionary defines a pretext as, “An effort or strategy intended to conceal something.” In other words, unless you consider the context of Scripture — the entire context including the historical setting — you are, purposely or not, engaging in a strategy to conceal the teachings of the Bible.

    You ask: Does one really need to ‘exegete’ Romans 1:18-27? You better believe one needs to! And such exegesis has been provided here in the post tiled “Romans 1: What Was Paul Ranting About?” After you’ve read that one, I’d suggest you also read the follow up titled “Romans 2: Paul’s Bait and Switch.” Links to both may be found on the “Archives” page. Either substantiate your position exegetically or have the integrity to come clean and admit that you cannot.

  11. Jeannie says:

    Getting back to the Word of God, will you exegete this Romans 1 passage for me, letting us know:

    (1) if you believe verses 26 and 27 addresses homosexual behavior?

    (2) and if so, do you believe that God is teaching that these ‘vile affections’ are a sin?

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;……25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

  12. Alex Haiken says:

    Jeannie, I addressed these questions in detail in the posts “Romans 1: What Was Paul Ranting About?” and “Romans 2: Paul’s Bait and Switch.” You can find links to both of these posts on the “Archives” page.

  13. Jeannie says:

    Alex, all I want is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to those two questions. Instead of leaving the question as an unknown forever on this thread, can you do that much for the benefit of all the readers here? Then, tell us how to get to the archives, I don’t see a way.

  14. Alex Haiken says:

    Jeannie, you didn’t ask for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. What you explicitly asked was: “Will you exegete this Romans 1 passage for me?” That was a good start. But now you’re seemingly looking for shortcuts to circumvent, neglect or ignore responsible biblical exegesis. Had you read the suggested post(s), you would already have answers to your questions and discovered what Paul is actually addressing in Romans 1.

    Exegesis is not for the faint in heart or the lazy. Like most things of value in life, it requires some investment of time and effort. It requires that we begin with the question: What did this text originally mean to the author and to the original intended audience? If we haven’t the slightest idea what the text meant THEN, we are left to only guess at or presume what it might mean to us NOW. If you are sincerely seeking answers to your questions, click and read the posts. Then let’s talk. You can find links to the “Archives” page on the top of every page on this blog: one on the top left of each page under the blog header and another on top right side of each page directly under the heading “Pages.” They are each clearly labeled “Archives”.

  15. Jeannie says:

    Alex, I just read what you call your “exegesis” of the Rom 1 passages. I see no correlation between the homosexual behavior described in Rom 1 and the meaning you attribute to it of cross-dressing and self-mutilation. Hear this…. “…men lying with men….” get it? Is it really that difficult to just take God at his Word and ‘believe” in Him?

    I’ve never seen such a twisting perversion of God’s Word. Seriously….do you really believe that the words……”also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet”……speaks of cross-dressers castrating themselves while worshiping pagan idols?

    Your ‘exegesis’ reveals impressive unparalleled denial.

    Then you “add to” the Word of God (another act strictly forbidden in the Word) by inserting the word “castration” after ‘”due penalty (or ‘recompence’ in the translation above) of their error which was meet”. Castration a due penalty? How would castration penalize a male homosexual? Wouldn’t AIDS be a better application? …’receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet’? And what about all the intestinal devastation?

    You then led us to Rom 2, where God accuses all mankind of sin. Then you talk of His grace. And all this you ‘exegete’ to mean that these men that lie with men needn’t repent, they can just grab the grace and run, never turning from their sin to Christ instead. That is a dangerous teaching.

    But I have the sneaking suspicion that you know exactly what God says about homosexuality and just cannot bring yourself to believe it. That’s not uncommon. After all, in some cases it’s a lot easier to make God a liar than to turn from sin. But that makes for a very sad ending to the story.

    After reading your ‘exegesis’, I would recommend that you might study less of the false gods and more about the true One.

    And pray like you’ve never prayed before.

  16. Alex Haiken says:

    Jeannie, with all due respect it would appear that you’re the one in denial. You continue to insist homosexuality, as we know it today, is actually addressed in Scripture. Fact is increasing numbers of evangelical Bible scholars, who have closely examined Romans 1 and the few other passages that get appealed to in this discussion, conclude that it’s not. As they rightly say, if we could stand Moses and Paul before us — the only two biblical authors who have been attributed as having said anything pertaining to or about homosexuality — and applaud or ridicule them for their condemnation of homosexuality, they would almost certainly stare at us in blank incomprehension. Why? Because homosexuality per se simply isn’t anything they’d ever been aware of. No kidding!

    It may well take you time to get used to seeing this in ancient writings — none of us assimilates this notion on the first pass — but like it or not, this understanding operates in biblical interpretation and more and more Bible scholars working in good faith and out in the open find this reality necessary for grasping what the biblical writers were talking about when they were treating something “sexual”.

    Perhaps even more startling, in the biblical world and in their schema of sexual understanding, there was no such thing as “heterosexuality” either. In fact, we only had clinical words for “gay” and “straight” as of 1869, and those were only heard in German for several years. Harper’s Bible Dictionary says of homosexuality — “A word for which there is no specific equivalent in the Hebrew Old Testament or the Greek New Testament, since the concept itself as well as the English word originated only in the 19th century.”

    The human race did not divide into gender identities or orientations of “homosexual” and “heterosexual.” Readers are often misinformed and encouraged to believe something that is untrue, that the Bible condemns “homosexuality.” The truth is that the Bible cannot condemn homosexuality since no such concept as homosexuality or homosexual orientation existed at the time of the Bible’s writing.

    Now let’s stay with what that means for a moment. Why did no one in the OT, NT, classical Greece, ancient Rome, ancient Egypt, Sumer, Babylon, or anywhere else around the eastern Mediterranean have a word for homosexuality, homosexual, heterosexuality or heterosexual? They had plenty of sexual words. Whole lexica have been assembled of their “dirty” talk. And they knew a number of crimes committed with the genitalia, principally penises. But no collective word. Why not? Because there was no sense that the various activities and crimes employing penises formed a collective category. Our biblical and classical ancestors did not see homosexuality as a unitary phenomenon. To phrase it differently, they felt no pressure to represent the various misdoings a penis made possible into something called homosexuality. They simply felt no need for the term. They had words for theft, murder, adultery, lying and the like; they needed those words. But not homosexuality. “It” was not something they were aware of as a description. It was not a class of action or of persons. To the extent that you superimpose your imparted view of homosexuality or heterosexuality onto the Bible’s pages, you will almost certainly miss the point of the passages you so violate. Those passages are talking about something quite specific and you evade them by reducing them to generality.

    Therefore, when you read a passage like Romans 1 that gets wielded against our gay brothers and sisters, you must always ask the text: What is the specific crime here? It is never enough to say, “Um, its homosexual, that settles it, let’s move on.” That distances you from God, the writer and the text. It may indeed be something bad — and likely is — but it’s something other than homosexuality per se.

    Our ability to do sound exegesis has increased exponentially over the past century. This is because today we actually know more about the Bible, its people, their customs, their religious practices, their pagan rituals, etc., than at any previous time in history, including even in later biblical times. But until you’re willing to allow some of the available information inform your understanding of the biblical texts, your understanding will remain misunderstanding.

  17. Jeannie says:

    Alex, God distinguishes between “the word of God” and “the word of men” in 1 Thes 2:13, showing that it is the word of God that is ‘in truth’.  When men ‘confirm’ the Scriptures as truth they are speaking the word of God, but when they ‘contradict’ the Scriptures as lies they are speaking the word of men.  That’s how we know which men are safe to believe and follow from which men aren’t safe to believe and follow.  That’s also the lesson the passage about the Berean’s teaches….to always compare what men say with what the word of God says, to know which men are lying and which men are telling us the truth.  

    Let’s compare the word of God with what you say, so we can see whether you are speaking the word of God (‘confirming’ Him) in truth or speaking the word of men (‘contradicting’ Him) with lies.  

    The word of God says:  “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”  Lev 18:22

    Now, in your own words, do you ‘confirm’ or ‘contradict’ the word of God?

    You say in this thread:  “The truth is that the Bible cannot condemn homosexuality because since no such concept as homosexuality or homosexual orientation existed at the time of the Bible writing.”  

    So….you believe that the abomination of men lying with men as they do with women “is not” a concept of homosexuality…that it doesn’t exist in the Bible…and therefore is an act that God cannot condemn? Wow, I see three contradictions there.

    Please answer this question:

    Whom do you suppose it’s wiser for us to put our faith (belief) in, the word of God or your words as we see each written above?

    I conclude that what you say in this matter is ‘the word of men’ because it clearly contradicts the word of God, 3 times in fact. And I think I know why you need to do that.

    P.S.  Remember, homosexual behavior will be forgiven when repented of, but….the sin of blasphemy (unbelief) will not be forgiven men, either in this world or the next.  (Matt 12:31)  

    • Alex Haiken says:

      Jeannie, you referenced Leviticus 18 above and asked me if I “confirm or contradict the word of God.” If you’re asking me if I confirm the Spriptures as truth and trust in their inerrancy, the answer is yes. I believe that the Bible is uniquely the Word of God as is no other book. I believe that when the Apostle Paul said “all Scripture is breathed out by God” he was saying that the whole of the Bible is directly from God. When the Apostle Peter said, “men wrote as they were directed by the Holy Spirit,” that he was describing how the Bible was written. And when the prophets proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says,” that what they said was and is true: the Bible is God’s unique communication to us. My love for the Bible compels me to examine it, not to discredit it. However as R.C. Sproul wisely pointed out:

      “If God speaks, he must use words to do so. Words express thoughts, commands, descriptions, and the like. The problem is that words and sentences must be interpreted if they are to be understood. It is far more than a matter of translation, for while translation gets at what God says, we are still left with the question of what God means.”

      In connection with this, I remind you that as we wrestle with what God means we must do so in a way that is exegetically sound — not by simply reading our own contemporary concerns and prejudices back into the text. You will never arrive at biblical truth by asking of the Bible, “What does it mean?” The reason is that’s the wrong starting point. You’re really asking, “what does it mean to us today, individually?” And that’s why we end up with scores of different answers. Exegesis always asks, “What DID it mean?” There’s a vast difference in those questions as starting points. Unless we have some sense of what the text meant THEN, we will be left to only guess at what it might mean for us NOW.

      If you are at all interested in an exegetical treatment of the Leviticus 18 passage that you referenced above — or phrased differently, if you are at all interested in what archeological and other evidence reveals about what this text meant to the author and the original intended audience — I would encourage you to read the post: “Leviticus 18: What Was The Abomination?” You can find a link to this post on the “Archives” page. But be forewarned: as you read and do your due diligence homework on this topic, you may find as I did that some of your strongly held convictions are challenged.

  18. Jeannie says:

    Lev 18:22 – “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

    I can’t believe you had to wait for some spurious finding of some ‘texts’ in the 20th Century for the light to shine in to tell you the exact same thing that God said in the last two verses in that same chapter:

    “For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.” (Lev 18:29,30)

    So what changed substantially since the sudden reappearance of those ‘texts’?

    • Alex Haiken says:

      What has changed is that as a result of these archeological discoveries our ability to do sound exegesis has increased exponentially. Up until the early 20th century, we knew little about the Canaanites. For the most part, our only witness to the people who previously occupied the land that God had given to the Israelites, was the texts of the Old Testament. But in 1929, all of that that changed substantially with the discovery of the “Ras Shamra” texts. Ras Shamra is a place on the northern coast of Syria, where the remains of the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit have been unearthed. From 1929 to the present, literally thousands of texts and materials have been found. The real treasure was not the buildings or jewelry, but large quantities of writings showing how ancient Canaanite city-life worked and revealing a wealth of information that has been invaluable in our understanding of Canaanite religion and culture. The discovery of these texts is considered by many second only to the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls and they’ve had a profound effect on biblical studies.

      Fact is we know more about the Bible today as a result of these archeological discoveries than any previous time in history, including even in later biblical times. As conscientious students of Scripture, we have a responsibility to allow these discoveries to inform our understanding of the biblical texts — even when they challenge some of our long-held and most cherished beliefs.

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