Christianity,  Music

What about Derek?

The following question appeared under my last blog entry.

“Has anyone noticed that Derek Webb has been touring with JNAPP? Or that she has been touring with him… Maybe you could provide a blog post about Derek. I’ve been wondering for about a year now where he stands on some things.”

The short answer is that, yes, I have noticed. But, no, I don’t know where he stands on the big question asked by Larry King—Can you be gay and Christian?

I used to be a big fan of Derek’s music, but I’ve had a tough time listening to his work ever since his “Mockingbird” album (which I wrote about here). I wrote a blog post last year about the controversial song “What Matters More” from his latest album because I thought the song wasn’t straightforward about the gospel. This song was a bridge too far for me. In short, I haven’t been following Derek or his music anymore.

Until all the publicity surrounding Jennifer Knapp last week, I didn’t even know that Webb had been touring with her. But when I heard about it, I decided to do some poking around to see what Derek has been up to since the release of his album last year. As the video above confirms, he is in fact touring with Knapp. That being said, I don’t think his touring with her tells us anything definitive about the big question.

While surfing around, I also discovered that Derek played at a conference of “The Gay Christian Network” (GCN) early this year. According to the GCN website, the GCN is “a nonprofit ministry supporting Christians worldwide who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).” The GCN’s mission is “sharing Christ’s light and love for all.” The GCN’s statement of faith says that “We believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians are full participants in God’s kingdom.” Despite this statement of faith, the GCN has members on both sides of the big question (read about it here).

I read all of that, and I was naturally curious to know if Derek was sympathetic to the views of the GCN. I found two items that spoke to this question. The first item is a podcast interview that Derek gave to the leaders of the GCN. You can listen to it below.


The second item is an interview with Here’s the relevant exchange:

What is your stance on the Gay Christian Network in Nashville, Tenn. and the work they’re doing?

Yea, I played an acoustic show as a part of their conference in Nashville. I’ll tell you the truth as an organization, I really like the idea. First of all the GCN wouldn’t have to exist if churches were doing their jobs. If Christ followers were actually following Jesus, then an organization like that wouldn’t have to exist where gay people who are on a spiritual journey, a uniquely Christian spiritual journey, would have to band together because there is no other safe place for them to go and worship and learn and study. So now it’s unfortunate that it should have to exist, and it shouldn’t. That said I like the fact that in their official documentation they leave it very open for people in their community to have very, very different opinions about the particular morality of the issue. I like that they weren’t setting themselves up to say “here’s what we are.” Instead they’re a catch-all for any disenfranchised Christians or people who are spiritually curious, who have been alienated because of their sexuality. That I was really encouraged by and being there with them I was really encouraged by that.

So what do we make of all of this? It’s difficult to say. I think most Christians will see red flags in remarks like the ones above. Nevertheless, I can’t find any instance in which Derek has stated unambiguously what his views are on the moral status of homosexuality. It looks like he’s trying not to speak definitively either way. I suppose the best case scenario is that Derek takes a traditional view on the question though his iconoclastic approach sometimes makes it appear otherwise.

I’m puzzled that Derek feels the need to rebuke the “church” for not doing its job, but then has no rebukes at all for a para-church group that does not promote the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality. The GCN says that it wishes to “educate and encourage the church.” Yet it does not affirm the church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on human sexuality. How does this serve the church? And given GCN’s refusal to support the church’s teaching, how can Derek be thankful that a group like this exists? Even saying that it’s necessary for it to exist? At the very least, Derek’s remarks about the GCN need clarifying.

The most loving way to relate to any kind of sinner—including homosexual ones—is to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). That means being forthright about their spiritual destitution apart from Christ and about the grace of God available in the gospel. It means calling sinners to repentance and telling them that Christ Jesus came to save sinners—including homosexual ones (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:15). My hope is that Derek is at least speaking more clearly about these things in private. His public statements are anything but clear.


  • Jeffery Hunt

    I don’t know about now but, and this was said in private conversation so I don’t know if its ethical to repeat it but it was several years ago and I’ve thought about it a couple of times since this news broke. At lunch with Derek once, around the time that the episcopals ordained Gene Robinson, Derek had not heard about it and saw it on the tv at the restaurant and upon hearing the news had a few remarks about it which reflected a complimentarian assumption of gender roles, the sinfulness of unrepentant homosexual acts, and the limit of the pastorate to qualified men. He sounded disappointed but in no way was he pejorative or hateful sounding. His tone was similar to that in the above statement. Now, I am not a spokesperson for Mr. Webb and hope he doesn’t get upset about me sharing this. I in no way have any insight on his current views and I guess they are none of my business because I really don’t know him. So I simply thought I’d pass along what I think is relevant information to this discussion. Like I said that was back in 04. That being said, I’m sure this is a fun tour and a good chance to hear some Stockholm tunes acoustic. Don’t pretend you don’t have Elton John in your iTunes library. But yeah, on the other hand this news certainly makes an appropriate occasion to explain to the public the biblical problem with homosexuality.

  • Denny Burk


    Thanks for that. I think that’s definitely relevant. I wonder if that’s still his view?

    I’m puzzled that he feels the need to rebuke the “church” for not doing its job, but then has no rebukes at all for a para-church group that does not promote the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality. The GCN says that it wishes to “educate and encourage the church.” Yet it does not affirm the church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on human sexuality. How does this serve the church? And given GCN’s refusal to support the church’s teaching, how can Derek be thankful that a group like this exists? Even saying that it’s necessary for it to exist? At the very least, Derek’s remarks about the GCN need clarifying.


  • Derek

    If Derek Webb were touring with an unrepentant homosexual who DID NOT declare himself to be a Christian, I would have no problem with this, assuming that he was upfront about his Christian convictions.

    However, he is touring with an unrepentant, active lesbian who DOES declare herself to be a Christian. This seems to belong in a special category. This is even more than a red flag, this is just wrong.

    Read I Corinthians 5:9-13 if you disagree. I encourage fellow believers to show me how I might be misinterpreting/misapplying this passage.

  • Brian @ voiceofthesheep

    Derek Webb contacted me directly last week because he did not like some of the things I had said via Twitter, which included a speculation that he did not see anything wrong with being a Christian and living a homosexual lifestyle. When I asked him if anything I had said was untrue, and to please correct me so the record could be set straight, he replied that nothing I had said was untrue.

    While he has not come right out and said one way or the other if he believes the homosexual lifestyle is a lifestyle of sin, his endorsement of a group like GCN is quite telling, I believe.

    I have asked him directly concerning his view of the homosexual lifestyle, and he has refused to give a direct answer. That, in and of itself, is very telling also. And to say that you really like the idea of an organization that accepts and embraces the homosexual lifestyle within the context of Christianity but without the call to repent from that lifestyle is, well, very telling also.

  • Steve Hayes

    I’m not sure what to make of this, but knowing Derek like I do, I can venture a guess as to his mindset on this issue. First of all, I believe that Derek has a firm grasp on the gospel, and I don’t think it’s a compromising grasp. What many of us love about Derek and his music is that the gospel is creatively and clearly – and often times controversially – textured throughout his work. He has never been content to play it safe, and this latest dust up is in keeping with his career as an artist.

    My guess is that Derek is purposefully keeping his views on homosexuality under wraps. I don’t think you can infer that a few song lyrics or an appearance at a conference means that Derek supports homosexuality. What I take from it is that Derek thinks that too much is made of this issue in the church. Things like anger and gluttony and dishonesty and even divorce and remarriage are dealt with on a totally different level than homosexuality. This probably seems inconsistent to someone like Derek, and just as he wouldn’t blink about touring with someone who struggles with anger who’s in his second marriage, he also won’t blink about going on tour with someone who claims to be a believer who wrestles with homosexuality. You may not like that view, but it is consistent.

    So, I can’t speak for Derek, but I think his thinking is that we in “the church” get too bothered by these kinds of “pet sins”, and we have a tendency to elevate them above all else (hence why this is called “the big question” and, say, where you stand on divorce and remarriage is not). This is definitely not Derek’s style of dealing with such things. Again, you may not like it, but it doesn’t make him any less of a Christian, and it may not make him wrong.

    Denny, I appreciate that you’ve taken great care to not speculate about Derek’s views here. I’d hate to see him labeled as something he’s not because his way of dealing with the “big question” differs from yours or mine.

  • Derek

    I’ve heard this view 100 times now and what you say makes sense… at least on the surface.

    Here’s the problem. The real issue here isn’t “big” sins and “little” sins. The issue is one of Biblical authority. Let’s suppose my particular struggles are more typical, like anger or gluttony. True, these “small” sins are more mainstream, but we don’t see a certain segment of people creating organizations or causes that justify and even celebrate our “diversity” and “uniqueness”.

    We place ourselves into a very special and dangerous category when we say, “Church, you’re just going to have to accept me the way I am. I’m not going to change, this is just who I am”.

    There is no place for that in the capital “C” Church. Not for homosexuality, not for anger, not for gluttony.

  • Denny Burk

    To follow-on Derek’s remarks (#8), I think the real issue is one of repentance. The apostle Paul recognizes that there are former homosexuals in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The key word is that they were formerly homosexuals. In other words, they were Christians and had repented of their sin.

    I cannot improve on Trevin Wax’s reflections on this topic. All of you should read it:

  • Steve Hayes


    My point wasn’t to argue for or against the issue. My point was to try to provide some insight into what I’m guessing is Derek’s mindset. Only Derek can speak for himself on this issue. In my dealings with him, I have found him to be a strident proponent of what I would consider the true gospel (Salvation by grace, through faith, and not by works), and a good friend and thoughtful brother. He is not without flaw, and I, personally, would not have handled these particular situations the same as he (although I see his point and am appreciative of his perspective).

    The homosexuality issue is difficult in the sense that it is tough to separate the sin of the lifestyle from the true difficulty of the struggle. I am compassionate toward those who wrestle with homosexuality, and part of the reason I’m compassionate toward them is because the church has been such a source of pain for many of these individuals. I’m not sure how we better balance our stance, but I believe Derek is trying in his own way to achieve a better balance. It’s not the way I would do it, but I want to be very careful to say that it’s wrong. It’s certainly no more wrong than the judgment and intolerance that continues to plague the church when it comes to this issue.

    I appreciate your thoughts.

  • Rick Brentlinger

    “the church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on human sexuality”

    Too many Christians assume that for the last 2000 years the church has taught what some 21st century anti-gay Christians currently believe.

    Such is certainly not the case, as I point out on my website and in my book, Gay Christian 101.

    I applaud your efforts to educate yourself about what gay Christians believe.

    I hope you have the courage to examine your presuppositions about Christian belief and gays without automatically assuming your presuppositions to be true.

  • Steve Hayes

    By the way, the Trevin Wax article is really good. Thanks for that, Denny. It made me take a long look at myself. Good stuff.

  • Derek

    I understand where you’re coming from. I have several friends who have gone through this struggle, at least 3 that I know of who have walked the same basic path as Jennifer Knapp. I know how painful it is for them and have had some very, very difficult conversations with them. I am very sympathetic to them and to the challenges they face. Yet I remain convinced that if we do not carry a message of repentance to our friends in the church – whatever their particular struggle is – we are not ultimately demonstrating love in the way that God defines love.

    Also bear in mind that there are Biblically sound organizations such as Exodus International that have been ministering to our brothers and sisters who are dealing with SSA. We can support and direct people to those groups, not to an organization that effectively says “go and sin some more”.

  • Brian @ voiceofthesheep

    The issue with Knapp and the Gay Christian Network is that they are not “struggling” with the homosexual lifestyle…they do not see it as sin, or so they say.

    This is why it is an issue of repentance, and it is also why people who say they know Derek and are defending him from what they know of him does not really matter. Talk is cheap, as they say, and Derek is not saying much these days…not in defense of the true gospel, anyway.

    BTW, the church’s failure to biblically handle sins like greed, gossip, gluttony, etc., does not nullify the sinfulness of unrepentant sexual immorality and our duty to adhere to Scripture when dealing with it.

  • henrybish

    An interesting aside:

    If you go to the website Denny linked to:

    and listen to Part 2 (1:50min) of the discussion between Tony Campolo and his wife (Peggy) you will notice something very interesting:

    The first reason Peggy gives for rejecting 2000 years of the church’s understanding on the issue of homosexuality is that ‘many of those years of church tradition’ interpreted 1Tim2:12 as preventing women from church leadership.

    Who says that there is no connection between an egalitarian approach to scripture and the increasing erosion of biblical authority on other issues?

    just sayin’…

  • Nathan

    I’m a member of GCN . GCN endorses two approaches to homosexuality:
    Side A. Homosexual relationships are OK with God as long as they follow the same or similar rules as the hetero side (like commitment, fidelity, etc.)
    Side B. God expects gay people to refrain from sex.

    It is up to the individual to find out what God says to them regarding their homosexuality.

  • Chris

    Hi Nathan,
    I have to respectfully disagree with you man. God’s Word is clear about ALL sin, and deals with the particular sin of homosexuality more than once throughout scripture. I’m a guy that has been struggling with homosexuality for the past several years, and I completely understand the strong emotions and views that others who deal with this issue feel. I didn’t choose same-sex attraction, but I DO CHOOSE on a continual basis to recognize those feelings, no matter how “naturally” they come as the flesh, and reject them to pursue a life of holiness. This is what the Lord calls all of us to. Yeah, it’s definitely not easy and do I ever question why I have to deal with this at all, but I have a responsibility as a Believer to take God seriously. Just because we don’t understand why something is wrong doesn’t mean that it isn’t. Homosexuality is portrayed in society as an issue of identity, when the Gospel is clear about what and in whom our identity is found.

    I’d love to dialogue some more about this.

  • Kelly

    Chris…you need to find your way to a mainline church that can teach you a better and more accurate way of approaching scripture and the Bibilical understanding of your sexuality.

    You don’t understand why being gay is wrong because it is not. Many of the best and most scholarly Bibilical teachers have come to this conclusion. I know of one, a heterosexual, who was most disturbed to find thathis study on this issue had lead him to this understanding. He was very comfortable not being comfortable with gay people as a full and welcomed part of the body of Christ.

    Identity comes in many forms, and YES, whether you chose to live a lonely and unloved live, you are a gay man. That’s your choice, but it is an unncessary and a sad one, and not one that God calls you to live. Your main identity is as a child of God and Christian. You also have identities as a son, maybe a brother to someone ( I have no way of knowing) and in many other ways. And a s a gay man. Denying you have parents does not make you less a son, and denying you have siblings (if you have them) does not make you less a brother. And being a son is a good thing. And being a brother is a good thing. And loving another person, wholly, lovingly, faithfully, in the way that God made you attracted to them, is a good thing. You can be a bad son, a bad brother, or a bad gay man. But NONE of these parts of your identity are changable, nor are they in of themselves bad. They are how God made you.

    If you want to dialogue on this, and the understandings of the many whole denominations and churches that would welcome you as God made you, and explain why you should struggle to be a good gay man, and a good gay Christian, but not to try to change something that wont change (responders, dont ever bother…I devour the ‘ex gay’ tripe/arguments up with far more examples than you can ever retort with…and scripture is not to be taken literally in all cases, so dont bother with that, or we would not be eating pork and would be stoning our kids, so no need for the “such were” veres, etc….they fall into the same catagory as these and the versese teling me how to take care of my slaves.)

    I hope I hear from you Chris.
    Where you are, I know a lot of people who used to be.

  • henrybish


    your ‘responders, don’t even bother’ attitude – not even being open to the possibility that you might be wrong does not win much trust.

    Chris – I have the utmost respect for brothers like you who are courageously fighting the good fight. You put many of us to shame.

  • Derek

    As John Piper has said, I cannot improve upon:

    To bless people in these sins, instead of offering them forgiveness and deliverance from them, is to minister damnation to them, not salvation.

  • Chris

    Hi everybody,
    I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me on this issue. Homosexuality is real – the attraction, deep-rooted emotion, and everything else. However, as Christians we are not to live by our mere feelings. Scripture tells us that our hearts can’t be trusted because we are fallen human beings. It’s hard. Following Christ requires denying what we feel, no matter how naturally it comes. Sin comes to us naturally. A life of holiness demands transformation by the Holy Spirit. We can choose to dismiss that idea and the accuracy and inerrancy of the Word, but we are mistaken o do so.

    God does love us no matter our sin, but He wants to change us and show us who we are in Him. It’s a foreign concept to human nature, but no less a fact. The beautiful thing about God is that He can change a person, no matter what sin we struggle with. No problem is too big or stain to dark. Those struggling with homosexuality are surrounded by a world that tells them this is who they are and it’s going to be ok. But it’s false. More Christians should surround those struggling with the Word of God and lovingly speak the truth, because that is the only thing that can bring change and repentance…and newness of life.

  • Denny Burk

    Chris, I’m encouraged to hear about your fighting the good fight. Thanks for speaking so clearly and candidly on this issue. I hope more people come around to your point of view.

  • ian

    does anyone know of a homosexual being changed to heterosexual by God? I hear a ton of stories of repentence and people never feeling the desire to do things again and people being healed from diseases. do we have any cases of homosexuality that comes this way?

  • Derek

    I have heard some remarkable testimonies along those lines (of desires being permanently changed) and am inclined to accept them at face value. However, it is often a very difficult process that takes an ongoing dependence upon the Lord and yes, the Body of Christ. Chris did a great job of explaining how this works and how it is really not that different than how sanctification works in any believer’s life.

  • ian

    so would we say then that God created a person homosexual (they were born this way) and than he changed them because it was not his will? so he would in fact have created them sinful or not how intended his creation?

  • Rick Brentlinger

    If genuine change from homosexual to heterosexual was possible, wouldn’t ex-gays struggle with heterosexual temptation instead of homosexual temptation?

    The fact is, folks who claim to have be ex-gay are not heterosexual and most ex-gays do not claim to be heterosexual.

    Even Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, admits that after years of opposite sex marriage and children, he still struggles with homosexual temptations.

    I’ve never heard him mention that he’s ever struggled with heterosexual temptations, i.e., struggled against lust for a woman other than his wife.

    So much of what you guys believe is just theory and opinion, with no basis in fact.

    When you deal with the clobber passages, its like you have blinders on.

    When expositing any other passage of scripture, you carefully note the context – cultural, doctrinal, historical, linguistic, literary, religious, etc.

    But when you cite the clobber passages, you ignore context and fervently hope everyone else will ignore context too. Very Strange!

    Heterosexuals don’t struggle against same sex attraction because they’re heterosexuals by nature, not by personal choice.

    Homosexuals don’t struggle against opposite sex attraction because they’re homosexuals by nature, not by choice.

    Its convenient to your presuppositions to believe that being homosexual is a choice made by the individual. But your presuppositions are factually inaccurate.

  • henrybish


    we are all born with a sinful nature due to Adam’s fall. Original sin.

    Homosexuality is just one kind of sinful inclination. Greed, jealousy, pride, envy and lust are others. We are all born with sinful inclinations. And most people have a particular sin they have to struggle against more than others.

    How you deal with your sinful nature reveals where your heart lies – whether you capitulate to it, or, by God’s grace submit to His will and fight against it.

  • Steve Hayes


    So what if I’m naturally attracted to multiple women? Is it then ok for me to cheat on my wife? What if – and this happens to many women – a mother is depressed and doesn’t want anything to do with her newborn baby? Is it ok for her to abandon the child? Your argument seems to be that there’s nothing wrong with your natural feelings because if there were something wrong with them, they wouldn’t come naturally to you. The problem with your argument is that it has no basis in scripture. The Bible says over and over again that there are ways that seem right to us, but in the end they lead to death. Whether or not something comes naturally to you is not the basis of right or wrong. As a matter of fact, if something comes naturally to you, it’s more likely to be sinful than righteous.

    The best you can do is offer that a Bible scholar that you know of has changed his viewpoint? Well, I know many more Bible scholars who haven’t changed their view at all. I know many who believe more firmly than ever that homosexuality is a sin (and I honestly can’t find any way around that. I’ve tried!).

    Look, I can’t defend the spite and vitriol that some churches lob at homosexuality, but I can defend that the Bible is more than clear on this issue, and even the law of nature screams that heterosexuality is the only natural option. That doesn’t give me the right to judge anyone, because I am sinner extraordinaire, but it does give me the basis for an opinion on the matter that is not muddled in interpretative gymnastics and feelings, but instead on the plain Word of God.

    This is a tough issue that I’ve done a lot of reading on, and I’m just amazed at how confident some can be that homosexuality is not a sin when stacked up against the vast instances in Scripture where it is clearly referred to as such (and I’m not talking about eating pork or shellfish or stoning our kids. I’m talking about New Testament words of Jesus). I wish I could get around it, because I don’t like painting people with a broad brush and condemning their lifestyle as sinful. I don’t like alienating homosexuals, and I don’t ever mean to do so, but I just can’t get around what the Bible says. How do you do it? Please enlighten me.

  • Derek

    We’re all products of our genetics and environment.
    We’re all born into a sinful world (environment) and in a condition that theologians refer to as “original sin” (genetics).

    So we’re all in the same boat, even though there is infinite variety of ways this reality expresses itself.

    Another good reminder that we are ALL terminally sick, spiritually speaking, and in need of a Savior.

  • ian

    thanks for the insight everyone. i find this topic very interesting, and find myself siding more and more with Mrs. Campolo. -in short-primarily because, and maybe you all can offer some more insight, in that when i look at the “sins” of man i see a selfish degrading nature at the core. I don’t see it in homosexuality. maybe im missing something, but when i look at murdering, hating, greed, gluttony, lazyness etc. i see the harm that befalls all of God’s creation. I just don’t see the adversity to all mankind of homosexuality in this matter.

    I think many things can also become sin for some people and not others. like drinking alcohol. not a sin of mine, but for some it leads to many other things and it is in itself a replacement for God. i see sexual desire this way as well. so i guess the response to that would be, you can be attracted to a man, but not build a sexually loving relationship with that person or make a commitment to be with that person for the rest of your life.

    I also don’t know how to rectify the idea against putting God fist with everything i have and loving my neighbor as myself. How does same sex relationship, inhibit a person from putting God first? i think it could cause you to sin, but the act in and of itself hardly seems anymore sinful that having a wife. maybe that is why paul suggest we all be seperate unless we can’t help ourselves. thoughts?

  • Derek

    Rick Brentlinger,
    I might have missed something, but did anyone here on this blog discussion say that same sex attraction is a choice?
    If someone did suggest that, then I think you have a fair point here, friend.

  • Rick Brentlinger


    The premise of your anti-gay belief is that everyone is born heterosexual (innate orientation) and NO ONE is born homosexual (innate orientation).

    Am I wrong or is that your belief?

    You then conclude that if someone regards himself as homosexual, that person has made a choice which is against the will of God and the teaching of the Bible.

    Am I wrong or is that your belief?

  • Derek

    Likewise, I appreciate the thoughtful dialogue with you and others here.

    In reference to your post #32, I really like what Chris said in #17, about how our feelings and sentiments aren’t a reliable guide for us. Maybe it isn’t the total answer to your question, but Chris is really on to something there.

  • Derek

    No, I won’t speak for others, but that is not my belief.
    I do believe that environment is often ignored as a contributing factor, but I do not deny the reality that genetics may play a major, if not dominant role in many cases.

  • henrybish


    I think the bottom line is that God makes his will on homosexuality clear in Scripture, and that takes higher place than what you or I ‘feel’ is right. Sin is not only about harming others but also about honoring our Creator.

    Given that Scripture teaches that we are all fallen and corrupt, I wouldn’t be so trusting of your subjective feeling of what you think is right. Rather be transformed in your thinking according the the light of God’s Word.


  • Rick Brentlinger


    Okay, I apologize for misunderstanding what you believe.

    Then am I correct to think that you believe some people are born not with an innate heterosexual orientation BUT with an innate homosexual orientation?

  • henrybish


    I think post #27 will help you see where we are coming from.

    The choice we are responsible for is not that of being born a homosexual (if that is the case), but of choosing to live according to that inclination rather than fight it as the sin God says it is.


  • Rick Brentlinger


    That’s true I suppose IF we ignore the context of the clobber passages and force 21st century anti-gay viewpoints onto the scriptures.

    Are you aware that ancient Jews including some of the human authors of the Bible did NOT agree with your understanding of the clobber passages?

    Are you aware that early Christians within 100 years of the time Paul wrote Romans, understood him to be decrying shrine prostitution in Romans 1:26-27?

  • Rick Brentlinger


    Thanks for the heads up on #27. The problem I see with that line of thought is that it simply isn’t accurate or factually correct.

    Incest is now regarded as sin but was not regarded as sin when Abram married Sarai, Genesis 20:2, 12, or prior to that in Genesis 5, when brothers and sisters and first cousins intermarried.

    The point isn’t to argue for incest but to demonstrate that sometimes, sexual activity which is illicit in some dispensations is not illicit in others.

    And again, we have the issue of context. You have not one verse of scripture to lob at gay Christians which, in context, is addressing faithful committed same sex partnerships.

    So you are forced by your presuppositions to wrest verses from their context so you can apply them to gays and lesbians apart from their context.

    I believe God is not pleased with you for doing that.

  • Kelly

    In response to Henrybish, I dont bother talking with those who support racism, misogony, who deny the holocost (more out there than you would think) OR homophobes.

    The debate is over. If you dont realize this, that is your problem.

    The debate on racism is over…the fact that a racist I knows thinks it’s not and quotes the Bible to me to support his positions does not change that. The problems with adjusting to reality are his…and yours. Not mine.

    Steve, I never said a thing about multiple women, and attempts at trying to conflate being gay with being promiscous, (or any other behavior I never said was acceptable) wont fly, and wont work.

    And There are whole DENOMINATIONS that have come to better and fuller understandings of human sexualtiy and faith, and they are not Literalists, and thus have a far better, more intellectually sound, and more logical understanding of this (and all) issues than a “God said it, I believe it, that settles” fundamentalist approach.

    In short, Chris, painful as this might sound, like yourself, needs to look at not just this issue, but his full approach to theology.
    Chris, you dont have to buy into the idea that you will live a unholy life as a gay man. You may, but, just being gay will not in of itself lead to that.

    If I sound blunt and strident to any here, it’s because I deal with many “ex gays” on a regular basis, some of whom are see as “success stories” by their conservative (and trying to be loving, as they understand it) families. They come to me to weep, tell me of what liars that they feel like, and express the bitterness that Chris will feel in 20 years if he waits that long to admit to himself who he is, find a denomination and church that will welcome him as he is and God made him, and, hopefully, find love, after years without it, or in a marriage with a woman whom they love, but, cannot truly adore and desire as she deserves.
    Thats plenty of reason to be upset, and plenty of reason to be WAY past the point of trying to explain thats God loves us as we are if we are gay. Just because someone does not believe in gravity does not mean I have to debate it with him. Thanks

  • Darius


    You are awesome, man! Keep it up; don’t listen to the liars and heretics who would want you to embrace the “freedom” of sexual perversion. I appreciate all those men and women who don’t fall for the idol of pleasure. I know a few that are in your shoes, Chris, and I can’t imagine the difficulty it must be. God is stronger though than anyone’s temptations!

  • ian Heikel

    and yes chris, denying yourself for the sake of God is a great and nobel thing and i really respect your devotion to him.

  • Kelly

    He’s righg Chris. Avoid heretics, and avoud liars. Find a good denomination…one of the historic ones with centuries of scholarship, and see the lives that the gay men and women who worship among their hetersexual brothers and sisters the God who loves them, and died to save them.

    God gave us pleasure, and responsibilty, as parts of our lives. Darius implies that I am urging you to live some decadent, wayward life. Far from it. The implication that finding a good man, and loving him all your life, having a family, joining a good church, and being who you are in a good, moral and decent way LIKE A LOT OF GAY CHRISTIANS DO, is not an option.

    There are many, many gay Christians, partnered, in relationships blessed by their pastors in the eyes of God and their fellow congregants and families, who have proven this assumption wrong, time and again. They are not “perverts”. They are couples, with families, who love God, and live decent lives, loving the way God made them to.

    Steve, you ask for the arguments, but, I must ask; they have been made, time and again,in public, in the General Assemblies of the Presbyterians, the Episcopalians, the Lutherans, the UCC, and others who are still debating the issue, from the Methodists to the American Baptists. The works of Many ministers/seminary professors/theologians are easily available in books and online. Have you honestly not seen/read them? I am willing to discuss it with you. But, I admit I wonder about this. Thanks.
    Struggle to be a good man. A good Christian.

  • Darius T

    “There are many, many gay Christians, partnered, in relationships blessed by their pastors in the eyes of God and their fellow congregants and families, who have proven this assumption wrong, time and again.”

    Yet on the day of wrath, you will be proven to be the forked tongue speaker that you are. Satan, begone!

  • Denny Burk


    Yes, this issue has been debated in the mainlines, and time and again it was a debate over biblical authority and the church’s historic teaching. The mainlines gave up on the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture, and thus they gave up on what the Bible teaches about human sexuality. Chris is doing the right thing in trying to conform his life to what Scripture teaches.


  • ian Heikel

    why was my comment not accepted and posted? it was pending approval at the same time the other was. i think it is quite possible our answer may be found in the bible’s definition of sin.

  • Nathan

    Remain in a single oasis versus live alone in the desert. I don’t see how the holy heterosexual option is “the same as” the holy homosexual option.

    I think that is a big mistake that hets make about homosexuality. The sacrifices asked of each of the two are completely different. IF you have never been able to fathom yourself a homosexual, you don’t get to PRESUME what the costs are to either embrace it or reject it.

    You truly have no clue — you even say that the most loving thing you can do for a homosexual is tell them the 5 to10 Bible verses regarding homosexuality instead of LIVING ALL of the Bible.

  • Lucas Knisely

    Romans 1:32 puts those who approve of homosexuality in the same boat as those who practice homosexuality. Given the benefit of the doubt, those who approve are attempting to be loving and accepting. But in the process are condemning themselves and rebelling against God and His decree. I’d rather have man judge me for being too exclusive than God judge me for being too inclusive.

  • Kelly

    It is, your quite correct Dr. Burke, a question of how to approach scripture.

    I would ask the simple questions, which makes the most sense from a scholarly standpoint, which has lead to the most pain an suffering of gay people, their families, the heterosexuals they marry in an attempt to be someone other than who God made them to be? And their is the proof of real worl people; pastors and secretaries and farmers I know who are in gay relationships and marriages, with healthy, happy familes, living a life of work, worship and love of God and citizenship. They are not, as one poster put it, perverts. Some of them are my blood family. And Dr. Burke, they are good Christian people, and happy. Their engergies go into the lives of their congregations, missions (yes, some do mission work)and families. They live Godly lives, and I have seen people brought to Christ after seeing their examples. Bad trees don’t produce good fruit.

    I work with some of the “ex gay” people, and happy, they are not.

    As an afterthought, every denomination is accused of “dismissing Biblical authority” by someone. I have heard HARD core fundamentalists accuse the SBC of it. You simply understand that not every thing is to be taken literally. I have never heard of a Southern Baptist make the call for stoning, or snake handling or other such nonsense, and I am sure I never will.

    Some Christians see the Gospel as one of love, inclusion, and inspired by God yet written by the hands of men…and the men put their own influences into it. I want for us all. Myself, you, and yes Chris, to see the faith where the love of God dominates, and the ancient prejudices of men, do not.

    We disagree on many things. But, I have seen this struggle up close and personal, time and again. And, while I would bet my very life that you would never hurt anyone on purpose, I have seen the results of what you counsel to Chris, so I hope he will reconsider. And while I hold out little hope for it, you also.
    Thank you for the opportunity to write on something so close to my heart. It is appreciated.

  • ian

    i also think we are approaching this idea from an uncommon ground, which will never lead us to a place of mutual understanding.

  • henrybish


    The reason we don’t handle snakes is because nowhere are we commanded to – Mark 16:18 does not command Christians to do it, it just says it is one of the signs that will accompany believers – which it has – for example see Paul in Acts 28:3-6.

    And the reason we do not stone adulterers today is because we are not under the Old Covenant or in a Jewish theocracy. We are in the New Covenant and nowhere are Gentiles (or Jews) commanded or expected to live by Old Covenant Jewish civil or ceremonial laws.

    Also, you seem to assume that if we are disobeying one Scripture then this gives us legitimate permission to disobey others as well.

    I find that a rather strange idea – surely if we are not obeying certain scriptures that we should be obeying then the proper response is to start obeying them rather than using it as justification for disobeying more scriptures!

  • Kelly

    Henry, my point is that, to some, you are guilty of what some are accusing those who see the Biblical interpretations against gay relationships as being guilty of. I agree with you about the snakes, of course, but, more than a tiny number of people would say you are “interpreting you way to where you want to be on that”. Etc.

    And I did not say you were disobeying scripture. I said that you have made a logical and sensible understanding that some thigns written in the Bible do not apply to you anymore.

    Just as those of us who have come to the same conclusion about gay people and their role in the life of the church have likewise done.

    There is not “open call” to stop obeying any scripture. But rather to look at them all, as you have done (correctly) with some, and said “that does not apply now”.

    And as I said in my post to Dr. Burke, how we approach the scripture matters here. Just as we have grown to reject centuries of orthodox ( little o) at the time understandings on everyting from slavery to the role of women to science, so we have done with committed, loving and faithful same gender relationships.

    I know, as I stated before, to many good Christian men and women, in same gender marriages where allowed, or in committed church blessed unions where not state sanctioned, who lead lives of Christian love, humility and service, raise their families well, and do the work of the Church. Bad trees don’t bear good fruit.

    Chris, I hope I hear from you. If you wish, I would be willing to speak privately. It’s your call. But, I have known a lot of men like you, and while I respect the strength it takes to do what you are trying to do, I respectfully disagree with Dr, Burke. I have seen where it leads. For what it’s worth I have no doubt that he, and all those who disagree with me, love you and want what they think is best for you. Once upon a time, long ago, I would have agreed with them. I just believe deeply from all I have seen, that they are incorrect.

  • henrybish


    How am I interpreting my way to where I want to be on Mark 16:18? It plainly does *not* command believers to go out and grab the nearest snake! Read the verse! So I do accept and believe that scripture today – it is true! We do not reject it.

    And I am not saying that some things ‘do not apply anymore’ unless scripture indicates so like it does with regards to Gentiles obeying OT laws etc. We are now in the New Covenant not the Old. That was not my choice – read Hebrews 8:6-13.

    However, the New Covenant retains the prohibition against homosexuality (Romans 1; 1Cor 6, 1Tim etc..). There is no reason to disobey it – they are written to New Covenant Christians – us. To reject that is to reject God’s command.

    And I have not rejected the Bibles teaching on the role of women (Eph 5:22-24 and 1Tim2:12), we have no right to disobey those verses today under modern notions of ‘equality’. Those that do are on a slippery slope to rejecting other parts of the Bible that they find unpalatable.

    Likewise, if slavery was legal today and I was a slave I would obey the Apostles command in Ephesians 6:5-8. Likewise, I have not rejected the Bibles teaching where it bears on science – evolution is facing increasing scientific trouble these days even from non-theists. Let God be true and every man a liar.

    You seem to use the fact that some liberal denominations don’t accept these verses as a reason for rejecting other verses. If you take that approach then why even bother with the Bible as your standard of truth when it is plainly not?

  • Carey Womack

    I think a very key component to this discussion is the importance we give to “what comes naturally.”

    I believe that the Fall has changed many things from God’s original intent of “what comes naturally.” The baby born in my small community this week without a brain. The storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes that devastate lives and even nations. Genetic diseases and conditions that affect untold billions.

    There are many of us who are “born that way” who are not born according to God’s original intent for his creation. This does not make us better or worse than anyone else, but it does mean that the struggle for some is immensely more difficult in certain areas than it is for others. And our God of grace is still able to supply our needs in even the darkest, most confusing, and most challenging of circumstances.

    While I am not convinced that there is a universal “gay gene,” even if it were proven to be so, I believe our responsibility is to do our best to follow the specific revelation of scripture rather than the apparent general revelation of the natural (but let us not forget fallen) world.

  • Donald Johnson

    Rather, you have chosen to interpret some verses to believe that the Bible teaches a role for women. There are others that decline to make that choice.

  • Derek

    Kelly’s dogmatic, vindictive and angry tone is a bit of an irony isn’t it? If we were to accept her cartoonish narrative, 90% of evangelicals are basically Fred Phelps and walk around angrily denouncing and cursing homosexuals every chance they have (I wish to state for the record that Fred Phelps doesn’t represent Christians at all – in the extremely unlikely circumstance that he is a Christian, this is a man in desperate need of repentance and psychiatric treatment).

    Kelly, we did not take this fight to you. You and your activist cohorts dressed up in sheep’s clothing and relentlessly seek to undermine clear teaching in Scripture. Then we defend teachings and interpretations that have been totally uncontroversial for 2,000 years, somehow we are the bigots? Beg your pardon????

    Your narrative won’t pass the test of time because it is riddled with exaggerations, kooky interpretations of Scripture, straw man arguments and revisionist history. Finally, when you’re forced to acknowledge that Scripture actually does condemn homosexuality in both the Old and New Testament, what do you revert to? You use the failings of OTHERS to justify your own sin, as if that is going to work for any of us at the judgment seat (much less any human court, for that matter).

    Kelly, I’m not going to accept your accusations that Christians are the aggressors. You are the bully in this fight, not us.

    And by the way, I appreciate the healthy dialogue we have here with some of those that are trying to process this subject in a productive, courteous manner. So thank you for that, Chris, Rick, Steve, Ian, Nathan and others who have demonstrated a listening ear and have not mischaracterized or wildly exaggerated our perspectives here. I really mean it guys. We know this is a tough subject and we appreciate your perspectives as well, even when we don’t totally agree.

  • Donald Johnson

    1 Tim 2:12 has huge interpretive challenges and this is implicitly proved by every paper that CBMW publishes on it. As Payne and others have shown, there is NO requirement to interpret it as restricting all women, it can be understood to apply to a specific situation at Ephesus. That is, it is a choice how to interpret it.

    On Eph 5:22-24, Eph 5:22 is not even a complete sentence in the Greek, the sentence starts in Eph 5:18. Anyone can make a hash of ANY text by extracting sentence fragments. The verb in v. 22 is the same as in v. 21 according to Greek grammar and v. 21 applies to all believers, ergo a husband is to submit to his wife. Unless of course, one makes other interpretive choices, which was my point. He is making choices.

  • Rick Brentlinger


    In support of Kelly, whose forthrightness I admire and respect, I see the tone as frustrated.

    Christians who have never troubled themselves to study the clobber passages feel so confident in their ignorance that they behave as if their viewpoint is the only possible truth to be derived from those passages.

    Their ignorance of the context of the clobber passages then segues to their ancillary false belief that their 21st century view of human sexuality is what Christians have believed for 2000 years.

    Anyone familiar with church history knows that is not true yet you also make the same erroneous assertion when you write:

    “Then we defend teachings and interpretations that have been totally uncontroversial for 2,000 years, somehow we are the bigots? Beg your pardon????” -Derek

    The fact is, early Christians like Aristides and Justin Martyr, understood Paul in Romans 1 to be referring to shrine prostitution, employing sex to worship Cybele, the Protectress of Rome and Mater Deum (mother of the gods) and so denominated on Roman coinage circulating when Paul wrote Romans.

    The 1 Corinthians 6:9 passage has never been understood by most Christians for the last two thousand years to be addressing what we know as homosexuality.

    In fact, the Greek word, arsenokoites, is never used to describe two men or two women in committed partnership in any extant Greek literature from the first century AD to AD 1450.

    The Jude 6-7 is another example. Many anti-gay Christians today assume that Jude was slamming what we now refer to as homosexuality. Yet that was not the view of early Christians. Early Christians understood Jude as referring to humans having sex with angels.

    Further, the Greek words Jude uses, sarkos heteras, same flesh, do not point us toward homosexuality. Heteras is a Greek word from which we get our English word heterosexual. Had Jude intended us to believe that the problem was homosexuality, he would have used the Greek word, homoios, from which we get our English word homosexual.

    In fact Jude did use the Greek word, homoios once in the passage but not to point out homosexual sin. He uses it to compare the sin of earthly women cohabiting with the fallen ‘sons of God’ in Genesis 6 with the sin of the people of Sodom, Genesis 19, in also lusting after angels.

    So contrary to your assertion, what so many anti-gay Christians believe today about the clobber passages has NOT been the view of most Christians about those verses for 2000 years.

  • henrybish

    Hi Donald,

    I didn’t intend to start this discussion! But since you throw it out there let me say the following.

    Regarding 1 TIm 2:12, I do not see any grounds for restricting it to a particular situation. That approach seems to nullify the authority of scripture – effectively saying “if we don’t like a verse just speculate a reason why it was situation-specific.” We could do that with all the verses we don’t like including the homosexual ones. I think it is a subtle way of evading the authority of scripture.

    Plus, there are good reasons against it being situation-specific:

    1) It is rooted in creation – a transcultural principle (Adam created first not Eve etc…). I have read various egalitarian arguments trying to get round this but they strike me as rather desperate.

    2) I do not think there are any persuasive situation-specific arguments. The usual suspects – false teaching/lack of education etc… do not convince – if you know of someone who has refuted Grudems arguments here please let me know. (I have already waded though the entire 500+ pages of DBE to see if they had a good answer.) Plus there is no need to even speculate a reason, Paul already gave the reason in verses 13-14.

    3) 1Cor14:33-35 confirms this and it applies to ‘all the churches’. If a women must remain quiet in church she certainly can’t teach the congregation. I know this may sound offensive to many, but I think Grudem/Carson give a very unnatural interpretation of this passage. I think It plainly prohibits women from addressing the congregation with respect to at least everything in verse 26. 1Cor11 is not necessarily referring to the assembled church and people like Calvin, Luther, Knox, and B.B. Warfield took 1Cor14:34 at face value. John MacArthur does as well apparently. For a good response to Grudem/Carson on this issue and the historic understanding of the church see

    4) 1Tim2:12 is consistent with Jesus only choosing 12 male apostles. Given that he was unafraid to challenge the customs of his time, all he had to do was choose some female apostles and he would have settled this debate once and for all.

    5) This is consistent with the OT pattern of a male priesthood who were responsible for teaching. God gave this command and given that the people were frightened to death of Him at Sinai I don’t think it is plausible to say that he merely accommodated to their patriarchal culture. That is mere speculation anyway.

    More to follow on Eph 5.

  • Denny Burk

    Kelly (#54),

    You say that we should understand what God would have us to do by answering this question:

    “Which [position on this question] has lead to the most pain and suffering of gay people, their families, the heterosexuals they marry in an attempt to be someone other than who God made them to be?”

    When you frame the question that way, you set people up for a fall. Jesus very clearly spoke of “suffering” as the only legitimate way of discipleship. In fact, he said that you cannot be a Christian unless you are willing to suffer to the point of death (Matthew 16:24-26). And you are saying that the starting point of understanding human sexuality is choosing the way that causes the least suffering. You are not thinking biblically. I warn readers against Kelly’s teaching and logic. It is the very kind of false teaching that the apostles and Jesus warned us about and that will lead people astray into judgment (Matthew 7:15-21; 2 Peter 2:1-3; Jude 4). Readers, please beware.

    The only proper way for a Christian to adjudicate this question is to go to the scriptures. If you want to know what God thinks about this matter, then you have to go to his word. So the framing question is not “What position brings about the least suffering?” The framing question is, “What does the Bible teach and how can I bring my life into conformity with that teaching?” Kelly and Rick (#64) pay lipservice to the scriptures, but Kelly and Rick are not submitting to the scriptures’ authority. Kelly admits as much, and that is the crucial difference here.

    The good news is that God loves sinners: liars, cheaters, homosexuals, adulterers, slanderers, gluttons, ad infinitum. And God calls all such sinners to repentance and to faith. I think Kelly and others miss the fact that God’s grace is for repentant sinners, not unrepentant ones (Luke 5:32; 15:7; 24:46-47; Acts 26:20).


  • henrybish

    Regarding wives submitting to husbands, the reason I think it is stretching it to use Eph5:21 as meaning husbands also must submit to their wives is that this is contrary to the rest of the NT where it repeatedly says wives submit to husbands but not the other way around. Consider the following:

    Ephesians 5:22
    Colossians 3:18
    1 Peter 3:1
    1 Peter 3:5
    Titus 2:5
    1Corinthians 11:3

    How clear can the NT writers make it? It is never the other way around.

    Eph5:21 does not actually say husbands submit to your wives. It says ‘submitting to one another’ and this is explicitly defined in the following verses as: wives to husbands (5vs22), children to parents (6vs1), slaves to masters (6vs5). George W. Knight also makes a very good argument in RBMW. I’m not sure which is best yet, but either way the text in no way requires husbands to abdicate their headship. That seems a very silly interpretation to take given all the verses I have noted above.

  • Donald Johnson

    Read Payne’s latest book, it has some fantastic insights, altho I do not agree with all of it.

    But again, you continue to make interpretive choices, ones that are not required by the text. Yes, these are ones typically made by non-egals, but there are others possible that are made by egals.

    1. It is NOT REQUIRED to see 1 Tim 2:13-14 as Paul referring to a creation principle, it might be Paul directly refuting the false teaching that was going around Ephesus and there is some evidence that this is the case. As in: Gnostics or proto-Gnostics taught that Eve came first and has special knowledge; so Paul directly refutes that. The challenge is WE ARE NOT TIMOTHY and things that Timothy knew we cannot assume we are privy to, including the things between Paul and Timothy as he was Paul’s spiritual son.

    2. Read Payne.

    3. 1 Cor 14:34-35 is repudiated by Paul in 1 Cor 14:36 if you understand the 2 eta’s there as an expletive of repudiation as I do. Furthermore, “the law says” is rabbinic terminology for what the ORAL Torah says and sure enough, we find such statements in the Mishnah but NOT in Scripture, despite claims to the contrary. And Paul opposed these Pharisaical things, so it turns out that I think non-egals are agreeing with Pharisees against Paul.

    4. We do not need to speculate why Jesus chose 12 Jewish free males as his apostles, Scripture tells us they map to the 12 patriarchs. But we do not think all leaders today need to be Jewish, or at least I do not.

    Later we do see Junia being an apostle, again except for non-egals that CHOOSE to not go with the primary meaning of the Greek text and these non-egals do so contra the teaching of some early church fathers.

    5. I agree OT priests were Aaronic males with no blemishes. Do you reject a leader in the new covenant because he has acne? All believers are priests in the new covenant, or do you not believe that?

    It is about the choices one chooses to make. As a non-egal, you make non-egal interpretive choices. As an egal, I make egal interpretive choices.

    But I also think egalism is more aligned with the rest of Scripture. For example, 1 Cor 13 says love does not insist on its own way, but non-egals teach that the husband get the final say contra 1 Cor 13 and 1 Cor 7.

  • Evan May


    Because you have several times made the accusation about taking Scripture texts out of context and reading presuppositions into the text, I would suggest obtaining a copy of Robert Gagnon’s The Bible and the Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics.

  • Donald Johnson

    If you are NOT submitting to your wife who is a believer, you are disobeying Scripture, namely Eph 5:21. You may think you have found a way to avoid it, but you are disobedient by the way you make your interpretive choices.

    If God says something once, you can ignore it? But not if he says it 5 times? What kind of exegesis is that?

    In the Greek, ALL the rest of the pericope (up to Eph 6:9) after Eph 5:21 is subordinate to it in the Greek; you can see this in the Transline NT by Magill who is no egal. All of the 6 instances following are examples of the principle of mutual submission established in Eph 5:21.

    And if you deny “one another” refers to you, you end up with something that is not even Christian with the many other veses that use it.

    And Scripture NEVER uses the word headship, this is a man-made word.

  • Denny Burk


    I think the complementarian/egalitarian debate is an important one. But I think you are getting this conversation off-track. Let’s get it back on track.


  • Rick Brentlinger


    I’ve read Dr. Gagnon’s book cover to cover and comment on it at some length in my book and on my website.

    In spite of his erudition, much of Dr. Gagnon’s book is his opinion, not what the Bible actually says, in context.

  • Donald Johnson

    The point I am trying to make to henrybish is that JUST AS he says Kelly is making interpretive choices to avoid what the Bible teaches, I can say the same for him, it is just on different verses.

    And we have no Magisterium to decide who is correct, instead we have each deciding for themselves, acting in faith and listening to their teachers.

  • henrybish

    A little note on post #65 point 3). I realise most complementarians in our day do not take 1Cor14:34 in this way and that it is unthinkable to do so which is why, if we are honest, we look for other interpretations.

    Although I was initially convinced of Grudem and Carson’s approach (limiting it to just judging prophecy) I became unconvinced of it for various reasons – it just did not seem like a natural reading of the text.

    I used to find 1Cor14:34 so offensive and wondered whether God would really mean it, but after praying one time I came to a point where I perceived the beauty of this verse – a woman who holds her peace in a public church setting.

    I think this wonderfully models Peters instruction to the women of being adorned with ‘the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.’ (1Pet 3:4). And also 1Tim2:11 which says ‘let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness… she is to remain quiet’.

    So I personally have come to see the beauty in 1Cor14:34 of a godly woman who shows her godly character by willingly keeping quiet in church so as to be in submission to the men and careful not to set herself up over them in any way.

    According to 1Cor11 she can prophesy but due to the limitations placed in 1Cor14:34 this is best done in private – so if she had a prophecy for the church she could share it with an elder in private and he could decide what to do with it – whether to make it known to the church or not. This is similar to Huldah sharing her prophecy privately in the OT. RBMW gives a wonderful example of this in early church history (p275) in the account of a Montanist woman who had visions in church and ‘after the people are dismissed at the conclusion of the sacred services’ reports her visions to the church’s leaders which illustrates how 1Cor11:5 and 1Cor14:34 coexisted back then. Also I do not think it prohibits a woman from singing in church, that is no what Paul had in mind since the context is about speaking to the congregation. I think it would prohibit being the worship leader though (see vs 26 context – bringing a ‘hymn’) although not necessarily a supporting singing role.

    I could be wrong on this, but I think I have read the strongest conservative evangelical arguments against 1Cor14:34 being a command for silence (Carson, Grudem and Ligon Duncan) and they don’t seem to do it justice like the reformers and others (e.g. Tertullian) did. (Even Gordon Fee thinks it is inescapable that it means what it appears to mean – which is probably why he takes the approach that the verse is not original to Paul).

    I think the biggest weakness in the complementarian position is how 1Cor14:34 is dealt with. I think it gives silent permission for egalitarians to do their own interpretive gymnastics.

    The bottom line for me is that I believe those verses were inspired by God for us and instead of trying to fix the Bible we should fix our understanding – after all we are the ones who are fallen and don’t see clearly. It is arrogance to assume that it can’t mean a certain thing just because it does not match up to our subjective moral standards. We need to be transformed according to the Word of God.

  • Derek

    As I said, I appreciate your own passionate input here because you are making an effort at meaningful dialogue. On the other hand, I’ve lost track of the count on Kelly’s ad hominem attacks, wreckless exaggerations and so forth. And yet, she ironically paints Christians as the ones who are itching for a fight. Kelly’s just wrong on this count – completely wrong. The vast majority of Christians are literally afraid of saying anything at all about this topic, because there is virtually nothing to be gained except to be misunderstood and/or harangued as a homophobe if there is even a hint of critique [of homosexuality]. Doubt me? Go to a church and bring this topic up in a conversation. I don’t care if you go to a SBC church, Catholic, non-denominational, etc. – after a second of awkward silence, the subject will be changed so fast it will make your head spin.

    Legitimate Christians do not and should not walk around “clobbering” gays with Scripture. Somewhere along the lines, we’ve allowed ourselves to be backed so far into a corner that if a defense is uttered and Scripture is referenced, we’re wielding “clobber” verses.

    That is why I appreciate those of us on this forum who are approaching this subject matter in an adult manner, including those with which I disagree.

  • Donald Johnson

    The bottom line for me is that I believe those verses were inspired by God for us and instead of trying to fix the Bible, we should fix our understanding – after all we are the one who are fallwn and
    don’t see clearly. It is arrogance to assume that it can’t mean a certain thing just because it does not match up to our subjective moral standards. We need to be transformed according to the word of God.

    I can agree with all of what you wrote, but totally disagree with your intepretation as I think it distorts greatly what the Bible actually does teach.

  • Rick Brentlinger


    I think I see your point but I also think you’re missing something vitally important. You say:

    “Kelly makes ad hominem attacks and paints Christians as those itching for a fight. Kelly’s just wrong on this count – completely wrong.”

    Is it possible you have misunderestimated (with apologies to GWB) the truthfulness of Kelly’s words?

    Consider the lives of gays and lesbians.

    We are told by Christians we’re going to hell – we can’t possibly be saved if we’re in a committed, faithful same sex partnership, and 1 Cor 6:9 is cited as the proof text.

    We’re told by Christians that we’ve chosen to rebel against God, that we are guilty of unrepentant sin, even though many of us are living celibate lives and Lev 18:22, 20:13 or Romans 1:26-27 are cited as proof texts.

    We’re told we already have equal rights because we can marry an opposite sex partner just like heterosexuals can marry an opposite sex partner.

    In most states though, we are not allowed to marry an orientation compatible partner yet heterosexuals in all 50 states ARE legally allowed to marry an orientation compatible partner. We do not have the same rights then.

    You say that: “Legitimate Christians do not and should not walk around “clobbering” gays with Scripture.”

    Yet most of those you consider legitimate Christians WILL vote to deny us equal rights under the law, making it legally impossible to form life-long same sex marriages, while at the same time decrying the hedonism of “the gay lifestyle.”

    I’m an very conservative gay Christian yet being theologically conservative does not blind me to the reality that the religious right cynically uses gays to raise money and win elections.

    We didn’t vote to deny your civil rights.

    We didn’t vote to deny the legality of your marriage.

    We didn’t vote to deny you the privilege of adopting children.

    We didn’t vote to deny you equal protection under the law for your marriage partnership.

    Yet many of your “legitimate Christians” did vote to deny us some or all of the above (the gay marriage referendums on state ballots in 2004, for example).

    THAT in my opinion is the source of Kelly’s angst.

  • henrybish

    Hi Donald,

    I’d love to dialogue with you some more on this, maybe we can wait until the next relevant post?


  • Derek


    Again, we are not all Fred Phelps. Now if Scripture notes that lives marked by greed or idolatry or sexual immorality, etc, do in fact characterize the steps of a person who is on the wide road to destruction, even hell – then the most loving thing is to warn a friend who happens to be on that path – before it’s too late. It’s not comfortable to tell a heavy smoker, for instance, that their habit is harmful to themselves and others, but it is not unloving or hateful to warn them that choices have consequences and that bad choices can lead to death.

    I’ve had people confront me too, and it isn’t pleasant at the time – but sometimes I look back at those confrontations and I must admit that they served as the wake-up call I needed. Maybe the people willing to tell me the truth were the ones who really cared about me most? Is that possible?

    This really isn’t the discussion forum for a discussion on same-sex marriage, imho. But suffice to say that a person is not automatically a homophobe just because they don’t support same sex marriage and related legislation. Voting against same sex hater automatically makes me/us a hater? Really? It’s that simple?

    It’s immature and childish to a) assume this and b) inflammatory to accuse people accordingly.

  • Rick Brentlinger


    I just read your odd response. You seem to be of the opinion that gay Christians who live Godly moral lives should be lumped in with unsaved gays who “lives marked by greed or idolatry or sexual immorality.”

    Many of us are saved, witness for the Lord, lead people to trust Christ and we most assuredly do not live immoral lives.

    Yet the Christians who are not like Fred Phelps insist on telling us in condescending tones that we ARE going to hell, based on their opinion about what 1 Cor 6:9 means.

    Mind you, they’ve never troubled themselves to study the word arsenokoitai. They have no more idea than a three year old Eskimo how arsenokoitai was used in the first century or its meaning in any century. They condemn us out of their ignorance.

    And for the record, I never suggested folks who do not support same sex marriage are homophobes.

    I also did not equate voting against same sex marriage with you being a hater.

    I don’t view post as immature, childish, inflammatory or accusing.

    A few reasonable and lucid posts from me and suddenly you’re beginning to sound like what you accused Kelly of being:

    “Kelly’s ad hominem attacks, wreckless exaggerations… itching for a fight.”

    I’m disappointed by your response.

  • Lucas Knisely


    Your entire philosophy about this is anti-Gospel. You are offended that any sort of change be required in order to become a Christian. To come to the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a title that you must hold on to is simply anti-Gospel. If a man is in a loving relationship with a woman, and they are having sex outside of marriage, they are in sin. They cannot come to the Gospel and say “Well this is just who I am, and I can be a Christian and stay like this.” There is no Biblical context for homosexuals to engage in sexual activity because it is condemned, and marriage and sex within marriage is always spelled out between a man and a woman. To look at the Gospel in the way you are is simply anti-Gospel.

    Now, you say that “we” say you are going to hell, when clearly the Bible is what we are claiming says that. Yes, you are claiming that the Bible “doesn’t say” that, but for the sake of charity, see that our conviction is that it does condemn homosexuality and therefore we believe we are quoting God and His Word when we say homosexuals are in sin. You attempt to passively vilify us, as if a few people making claims about what Romans 1 is really about should be the end all to this debate and the rest of us are just misinformed and mean people. The irony is that you are guilty of the very thing you are complaining about. You are lumping everyone who views homosexuality as sin into a group, labeling us, and denouncing us.

    And, building your argument on Justin Martyr’s view of Romans 1 is fatally flawed for two reasons. 1. Justin Martyr is not God and could have been wrong. 2. Your source is painfully and obviously biased. I mean, seriously, could you grasp any harder for a source that backs your claim (GayChrisitan101)? I suppose it is tantamount to someone linking to Westboro Baptist for proof that God is against homosexuality. And let me say for the record, even if Justin Martyr had legitimate reasons for reading Romans 1 and associating it with shrine prostitution, that does not mean it is what Paul is talking about. If the primary venue for homosexual behavior was shrine prostitution that simply would have been where Justin’s mind went to. This is simply an association. The actual words Paul wrote say nothing about prostitution. If you continue past where Paul speaks of their homosexual behavior he says this:

    29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

    All of this makes the context more clear that Paul is creating a picture of people turned over to corruption of sin rather than sin within a shrine context. It says, in verse 24 that God gave them up to the lusts of their heart to impurity. It never even gives a hint of prostitution. If, after they were engaging in homosexual sex, they decided it could be used for prostitution just like heterosexual sex, it would only make sense for Justin Martyr to associate said prostitution with Romans 1 because Romans 1 is the starting place.

    Furthermore, when Paul describes their actions he pits it against “natural relations”. He says that, “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature”. The word “those” is important. They are making an equal trade. Natural relations exchanged for unnatural relations. This is plain and simple. They were having heterosexual sex and then they started having homosexual sex, and Paul condemns it. Now, if you want to respond with the “loving committed” argument, I’ll respond in advance. It says in verse 27 that they were consumed with passion for each other. This is clear that they were not simply having sex, but had strong feelings for each other which lead to the sex. So Paul is addressing people who had strong feelings for each other and were engaging in homosexual sex, and he condemns it as wrong.

  • Kelly

    Dr. Burke, there is suffering for the gospel and for the glory of God, and that should be bourn with grace and joy.

    There is suffering one suffers due to the ignorance and prjudice, fundamentalism and close mindedness of others, and that should not be bourn silently.

    I have made no ad hominum attacks. I have merely refused to allow those whose beliefs are oppressing abnd leading the pain of others, such as Chris and others I have loved, to mistakenly think I acknowldege they hold some high moral ground when this is far from the case Derek.

    And Derek, if you had seen the personal pain, family destruction, kids kicked out of their homes (oh yes, I have seen this to, from various denominational backgrounds) because they were “abominations”, you would understand me better. And, like a lot of people who think like you currently do, you would then have to do some serious and uncomfortable rethinking. I know. Some time ago, you and I would have been in 100 % (!) agreement. 100 %. So please, don’t claim I am on the attack. It’s hard to attack those who think as I used to myself. I think your projecting there in fact. I am playing pure defense here. I am just not letting myself be painted as the ‘bad guy’. Not my title. Won’t accept it.

    Rick, post 79 and post 83 were brilliant. Better than anything i can do. 79 in particular. If conservative Christians were treated the way they have treated the gay and lesbian community, the referendum to make sure their families and relationships are not given legal protection, the classing together with persons of low character, etc. then some empathy might exist. Not that I want any of this to happen! But, if it did, perhaps the conservative Christians would understand.

    Ricks correct Derek. You really do not understand my, or what I am trying to say, at all. I can’t blame you however, not really. You have not seen things from the other side, and you honestly do not know how your actions, interpretations of scripture, even the way you lump decent and good gay fellow Christians with. And I have not made one wreckless exaggeration. Not one. I have only spoken from the heart, and from personal experience and the experiences of those I have loved.

    Derek, I have a question. When a couple in Florida have been raising kids as foster parents, doing an excellent job by every account, and they are the only loving parents the kids have every known, and then they try to adopt them, and seal the parent child relationship far more solidly than foster parenting can do, and conservative Christians lead the way in working to prevent such adoptions from taking place…( as referenced in Ricks earlier post), just how is it that it is the gay abd lesbian community that is “itching for a fight” as you put it?

    That is the source of my ‘angst’ as you refer to it. And please, reread Ricks post, # 79, which is so much better than anything I have written, before you start getting so comfortable…or think that all who are suffering are suffering for the maintainance of the gospel. Some suffer needlessly, because of the demands of others that everyone must live as they interpret the scriptures.
    I hope and pray that you never suffer this fate, for it is very uncomfortable, and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

    Those kids waiting to be adopted by the foster parents who love them would disagree about the starting of “fights”. Who started that fight? Orange juice anyone?
    And the others for that matter.
    Food for thought Derek. I hope.

  • Derek

    I’m not going to comment on some situation that you framed from your own biased viewpoint.
    As mentioned in post #13, this issue hits close to home for me. And I do know that many people struggle with SSA because of experiences that were forced upon them at an early age. It’s heartbreaking. No, I’m not saying that this is always or even mostly the case, but it is one of the realities at play here, if we’re going to have an honest discussion. For that reason, I am opposed to having children in a home where perversion is normalized and celebrated.

    Most of us, self included, would prefer to deal with other subject matter, because anything and everything that we say is twisted and misconstrued by people like yourself. But at the same time, we cannot be silent in our little corner while you attempt to deceive well meaning Christians with flattering words and deception, while you attempt to bully many of us into complete silence with emotional blackmail, (i.e. labeling any opposition to homosexuality as hatemongering and homophobia) or whether you are pushing hate crime laws that seek to demonize even the quoting of Romans chapter 1.

    Kelly, please continue to speak your mind, though. Your histrionics are doing more than I can to harm your crusade.

  • Denny Burk

    Rick (#83),

    Your understanding of ARSENOKOITAI is flawed and is not in keeping with the best lexicographical studies of this term.

    The word ARSENOKOITAI appears nowhere in Greek literature before Paul’s use of it in 1 Corinthians 6:9. This is apparently Paul’s rendering into Greek of the standard rabbinic term for “one who lies with a male as a woman.” Paul has likely accessed the Septuagint’s wording of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, which in Greek has the same component parts as ARSENOKOITAI.

    ARSEN = Male
    KOITE = Bed

    Those are the terms used in Leviticus 18:22 to describe homosexual behavior (to bed a male), and that is what Paul is picking up on in his use of ARSENOKOITAI in 1 Corinthians 6:9. Paul assumes and thus affirms the moral assessment of homosexual acts that is given in Leviticus.

    Readers, beware of the arguments put forth by Rick. He does not represent a scholarly consensus by any means, and he certainly doesn’t represent a faithful understanding of the Bible’s teaching.


  • Derek

    I just don’t think it is fair for you or others to assert that opposition to same sex marriage or adoption = the wish or intent to deny civil rights. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m being overly defensive, but I think this is demagoguery.

  • Denny Burk

    Kelly (#85),

    Once again, you are NOT taking your stand on what the scriptures teach. Suffering for the sake of righteousness is what Christians are commanded to do (1 Peter 3:14, 17; 4:14-16). When our brothers struggle (and even suffer) to be faithful to the Bible’s teaching, they are doing what Jesus has commanded them to do. You are calling them away from this faithfulness, and thus you are calling them away from Christ. My hope and prayer is that your counsel will be exposed for the danger that it is and that you yourself will be won back to a biblical perspective.

    The most important thing in life is to know and follow Christ, and you are not following Him in this.


  • Nate


    You have sold yourself to the position that you currently have. You will cast any shadow to secure it and to support it. Your analogy of the foster kids is the supreme example. A straw-man argument could easily be made to associate any other sinful situation in the same light. For example, a woman is a foster-parent, the only parent a child has known for the last 10 years and then it is found out that she is living in a “open relationship” with another married couple. She is then not allowed to adopt the child. Oh, the humanity!

    Furthermore, your argument that if those opposed to homosexuality only understood the anguish and pain of those who have been disowned by parents, etc. while difficult and painful goes on constantly in the Christian community. There are untold numbers who receive Christ who are disowned and abandoned by their families and friends. Yet they are suffering righteously; 1 Peter 3:13-17.

    As has been the case from the start, from both you and Rick, you cannot give any biblical evidence that even hints that homosexual relations or “marriage” has ever been given approval in the biblical text. Your arguments are based on feelings and writings of those who have similar feelings and who attempt to justify the behavior by discounting the texts forbidding said behaivor. Give some evidence of positive biblical texts. We certainly can do this for heterosexual marriage.

  • Denny Burk

    Donald (#91),

    That language is from 2 Samuel 1, and it is from a poem lamenting the death of Saul and Jonathan. The poem is filled with hyperbole, and this is one of the hyperboles in that text. It’s not referring to homosexual love. The poem also says that Saul and Jonathan were stronger than lions and swifter than eagles. It’s a poem that is making use of non-literal language.

    Ironically, it’s the pro-homosexual interpreters who are being too literalistic on this text.


  • henrybish



    1) Given that David gave in to temptation by committing adultery with Bathsheba it was probably not homosexual desires he had!

    2) Given that they were both Jews under the OT law, any homosexual actions would certainly not be approved of. Lev 18:22; 20:13 definitely applied to them.

    3) The text does not even say they had a homosexual relationship – that is wild speculation.

  • Nate


    From a guy who constantly opposes those whom you believe to take Eph 5:22 out of context, why would you then take 2 Samuel out of context just to pick. Do you really believe that David and Jonathan were in a homosexual relationship? If so, show biblical support other than David’s lament of a man whom he loved as a brother – one who had his back more than his wife (Michal).

  • henrybish


    I thought so,

    but it seems to me that you think people have a legitimate right to read the text in a homosexual framework and yet not do violence to scripture?

  • henrybish

    No offense intended but I don’t share your belief that it is all a matter of ‘interpretive choice’ – I think God expects us to be faithful to texts and not make arguments that grasp at straws.

  • Steve Hayes

    Wow! You leave for a couple of days and look what happens!

    Kelly, you have so completely missed my point that I don’t know where to begin. My point was simply to demonstrate that someone’s “natural” inclination is not a very good indicator of right or wrong. There are plenty of wrong things that come naturally to me, and just because something seems right to me doesn’t mean that it’s not totally wrong in God’s eyes. “Lean not on your own understanding…”

    And don’t you just love the way you can make the Bible say just about anything you want by simply throwing around a few Greek words? It’s really painful to see that kinds of interpretive gymnastics that many will employ just to bend the Bible to meet their needs and desires.

    Now, having said that, let me be clear about something… Just because I think homosexuality is a sin doesn’t mean that I think homosexuals are bad people who don’t have the moral capability to raise good kids or live in committed relationships. Thanks be to God that our ability to raise children or live in committed relationships doesn’t determine whether or not His grace will cover us! If it were so, I could easily be condemned. I struggle every day with my abilities (or lack thereof) as a father. I often feel like I’ve failed my children, even though I’m trying as hard as I know how to be a good Dad. I struggle daily to stay fully committed to my wife. I’ve never even come close to cheating on her, but my eyes and my heart sometimes long for others.

    So the question here has nothing to do with whether I am better as a Father or a committed partner than the homosexual. This really has no bearing. There are plenty of atheists who are good parents and spouses, but that doesn’t mean that God looks the other way when it comes to the condition of their heart as it relates to Him (and, no, I’m not comparing homosexuals to atheists!).

    Point is, God gives us clear, contextual instruction on human sexuality that is unambiguous and consistent throughout. If we choose to change what God says or amend it or allow it to hinge on our understanding of Greek, it doesn’t make us bad parents or bad partners, but it could make us unrepentant sinners in certain aspects of our lives. Can we please operate on this premise and not on the tired old “You hate us because you are denying us rights and you think we’re all moral degenerates” line? For the record, I don’t think homosexuals are bad, awful, people who are incapable of exercising faith and love and commitment. I do believe homosexuality is a sin, though, and I think those who practice this sin and are unrepentant are subject to condemnation.

    Just had to clear that up.

  • Kelly

    Rev. Burke, with all due respect to you on your own site, which you have graciously allowed me to post on, I am Presbyterian, in good standing and communion with my denomination, and saved by the grace of God alone. The pastors who teach and shepherd me, and who have dedicated their lives to Christ, His church, and His service, tell me that I am following Him in this issue.

    Unlike a Baptist, I am not a literalist, which, when it is all said and done, is the real issue here, is it not? I respect you more than you may realize, but I do not agree with you.

    Not all Christians are literalists. I am calling Chris and others to know that they can live lives as God made them, that there are those who are also good Christians who read the scriptures and do see them as inspired by God, but written by men…and by many intepretations, understandings, etc, corrupted by men with these mens prejudices. Including homophobia (among other things, from racism to misogony)

    Chris is suffering solely for your (I assume he is a Baptist)denominations interpretation of what the scriptrues say Dr. Burke. And there are other denominations and churches with millions of members, superb scholarship, and believers who are gay who lead decent, good and Christian lives, and are saved.

    And I hope and pray that someday, before he ends up one of the old men or women who are bitter towards God due to a lonely and sad life, or loses faith alltogether (I have seen both examples) finds his way to a church that will love him as he is and God made him.

    Other posters have accused me of trying to just “have it my way”, and when I ask if they have read the work of Christian giants from Burggemann to Guthrie, they don’t respond. We approach scripture differently. But I am VERY much approaching this from a Biblical perspective. Otherwise, why bother? It would be easier to just leave the faith…but, I would never dream of suggesting that. The easy path is almost never the right one.

    Nate, there are books and books of evidence of this understanding of the Bible available. Do you think so many whole denominations have become gay welcoming and affirming of commited gay relatioships and families just out of personal friendship and love? I am sure you must know better than this.
    The kids in Florida were not an “extreme” example. they are a real world, real flesh and blood example. And once again, who started that fight? Which I will point out was mentioned by another poster as a list of reasons why people like me feel..’angst’. We have reason.

    Steve, I can read and write Greek, but I have not used ONE Greek word in all my postings. And I gave the examples I did to show real world suffering. I am sure all you say about yourself is true, and I admire you posting style and your points. That said, if the instructions on this issue were so very clear and contexturally straightforward, why are so many theologians coming to a different conclusion than yours? Often starting at a conservative “place” and not happy when they find that they can no longer support their former position?

    I have Iranian Christian friends, and others, who suffer terribly for their faith Nate. I am more than aware of their suffering. Trying to conflate their suffering with the unnecessay suffering (not to be compared…although someone who is not allowed to be at their dying partners side…yes, even with the legal paperwork all in order, that happens, thankfully new laws will hopefully rectify this, is heinuos, it is not to be compared to what many Christians suffer) that gay people suffer here due to conservatives who insist that their understanding of scripture be the only legally recognized one does not work. And knowing that brothers and sisters in Christ suffer for the faith, is not the same thing as suffering as gay and lesbian families suffer here, nor does it in any way lesson the difficulties and sufferings of their lives. Two separate issues of suffering. My point was that if you had endured what some of my gay friends and family had, and been treated the way they have, you would see the issue very differently.

    Why did I post these posts? Becuase the question, can she be gay and Christian was asked. I, and millions of Christians, theologians and seminary professors and pastors say “yes”. And I want Chris to at least read the words of someone who has seen people go through what he has, and who are now in love with someone…not living decadent lives, but good Christian ones.
    I guess thats really all I have to say.

    Once again Dr. Burke, thatnk you for allowing opposing opinion. When I mentioned my posts here to several formerly SBC friends who are now members of my denomination, a few of whom are gay, they said that they suspected you would not allow it. They owe you an apology, and I will tell them so.

  • Nate


    I simply asked you to provide biblical text(s) in the affirmative to support your position. You stil have not done so. As you stated, you are not a literalist, which means the bible can be interpreted any way you desire it to be. I get that. Regardless of whether the Presbyterian denomination as a whole believes with you is simply not true. Your denomination split over how the bible was being interpreted, hence the PCA denomination. And those you speak of as giants interpret as they will also.

    Nevertheless, Dr. Burk, and the majority of those who post on this site, believe the bible to be inerrant, authoritative, and not open to personal interpretation to fit felt-needs. To that extent, your posts are deceiving to those who do not research your statements, and would lead people astray, which is sin. You obviously don’t believe this, but it must be pointed out by those of us who do.

  • Donald Johnson


    My faith can be seen as a series of rings like a bulls-eye. There is a bedrock core of faith in Christ. In the outer rings are matters of personal choice, such as my choice to eat meat while others may be vegetarians. In between are things I have various levels of certainty about. Not everything is either black or white; somethings are in shades of gray.

    In this middle ground I think I am correct, but I also might be wrong, not everything is crystal clear from where I sit. So while I might not be able to do something in faith, I am hesistant to say that another is not when they might disagree with me.

  • Denny Burk

    Kelly (#99),

    You are correct. The fundamental difference between us is on how we approach the Bible, but I think you have framed the issue incorrectly. There are two issues here related to how we read the Bible:

    (1) The nature of Scripture
    (2) The proper interpretation of Scripture

    (1) On the nature of Scripture, you and I are worlds apart. You say that Scripture is written by fallible men (a point with which I agree) and that therefore scripture has errors in it (a point with which I emphatically do not agree). The apostle Paul says “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Notice that the claim is comprehensive. It’s ALL scripture, not some scripture. It’s clear from 2 Peter 3:15-16 that Paul’s writings (and the rest of the NT) belong in the category of Scripture. So all of Paul’s writings are “God-breathed.” Your position is that God-breathes out errors in the scripture, and I think that Jesus and the apostles teach us otherwise: “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Kelly, I think you are dangerously mistaken about the nature of scripture.

    (2) On the proper interpretation of scripture, I’m not sure what you mean by a “literalist” hermeneutic. If you mean by “literal” that I interpret the scripture such that there are no figures of speech, metaphors, or other non-literal idioms, then you are incorrect. I teach hermeneutics on the college level, and I spend nearly half the semester teaching students how to interpret the various genres of scripture—including the non-literal ones. If you mean by “literal” what the reformers meant, then guilty as charged. The reformers used the term “literal,” but they meant that scripture should be interpreted according to the author’s intention. I agree with them that the scriptures mean what their authors intended them to mean. In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul MEANS that homosexuality is a sin. Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit when he wrote those words (2 Peter 1:20-21), and the words that he put on the page were “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). On what basis, therefore, do you disagree with the words that God Himself breathed-out through Paul?

    Your experience and feelings do not bear the same weight and authority as God’s holy word. I urge you not to give your experience, your church’s blessing, or any other human opinion an authority that trumps God’s word. All of those things must bow the knee to God’s holy word.


  • henrybish


    I agree that some things are not revealed clearly in Scripture (e.g. parts of eschatology) but there is no basis to do so with the topic of homosexual behavior.

    On what scriptural basis can you be uncertain about that?

  • Donald Johnson


    I have had the experience a few times of having all my elders teach something and it seeming to be blazingly obvious, only to find out with later study that mistakes were made due to lack of context, cultural context being the most common aspect being missed leading to mistakes. You miss a Jewish idiom or 2 or some technical terms and whamo, you can end up so far from what is really being said that it is not funny, and not have a clue that this might even be the case. It is incredibly easy in some cases to teleport 1st century text into the 21st century and not even suspect one is doing it.

  • D.J. Williams

    Denny, that was a clear, concise description of the Biblical issues undergirding this whole discussion. Kelly, as one who’s on that side of the debate, please think about what he had to say carefully and consider that perhaps the Scriptures may contain more truth than you’ve thought.

  • Donald Johnson

    I agree with authorial intent or similarly how an original reader/hearer would understand, this is the goal I strive for. But, I also accept I am limited, not actually being a member of the church at Corinth in the 1st century and not being Timothy, for example.

    For example, if the letter FROM the church at Corinth were ever found, or Paul’s other letters to Corinth, they could easily shed more light on the 2 canonical Corinthian letters. Or if we knew more details about the situation at Ephesus that caused 1 Tim to be written.

  • henrybish

    Hi Donald,

    I think if you take that approach to Scripture – that we could find other information such as another letter that could radically change our understanding etc… then there are some serious problems:

    1) This nullifies the functional authority of scripture – we can draw no firm conclusions about anything because there is always a chance that there is some key historical information we lack that would radically change the picture.

    2) This approach would make the meaning of scripture inaccessible to 99.9% of believers throughout history and today who have no access to the historical information you attach so much importance to.

    3) This approach seems to call into question the sufficiency of scripture – we cannot rely on the words of scripture itself for the true meaning of a text but must turn to other non-canonical documents to supply us with radical doctrine-changing information.

    4) Don’t you believe in God’s hand of providence in the formation of the canon? – that he has gathered together the letters of the New Testament as a sufficient source for us to derive truth from? If there is missing information that would radically alter things then I don’t see how God would repeatedly enjoin us to obey the commands of scripture (e.g. 1Cor14:37-38) since we can never be sure that it really means what it seems to mean.

    5) How can you be sure about any of what you consider ‘core’ doctrines? – they must also be susceptible to all of this.


  • Donald Johnson

    If we found some relevant letter, I do not know how radical any change would be, but I have no doubt it would shed light on some things, perhaps some things debated now.

    1. I do not see it NEGATING the functional authority of Scripture. We should always want to understand Scripture as the original readers would have and as we learn more, then we modify what we see Scripture teaching.

    For example, the Pharisees taught that a husband could only commit adultery by having sex with another husband’s wife, since polygamy was allowed in the Torah of Moses, the husband having sex with an unmarried woman was not considered adultery. Jesus corrected this in Mat 19, as well as 6 other things the Pharisees taught; he said that either gender could commit adultery and that God’s ideal was monogamy. But I would never have known Jesus was correcting this unless I had learned what the Pharisees taught; we simply do not see adultery as one-sided as they did.

    2. I do not see this, much of Scripture is clear, some is not.

    3. ANY text is a product of the culture it was produced in, otherwise it is just marks on a page. The meaning of the words is provided by the culture and the context in which they are used. Yes, the Bible gets to define and refine the words it uses, but the basic substrate is the culture in which it was produced.

    For example, it turns out that “destroy” and “fulfill” are rabbinic idioms meaning “misinterpret” and correctly interpret” but if one does not know this, then it is easy to misunderstand Jesus in “fulfilling the law/Torah”. We find this out from the Jewish Mishnah.

    4. I do believe that God controlled the formation of the canon, by which I mean the protestant canon that is usually presented as 66 books and NOT the RCC canon that includes the Apocryphal books or the EOC canon that includes even more. But I also believe it is possible for humans to misunderstand; the Bible is inspired by God, but we are sinners. I do not think Timothy misunderstood ANY of what we call 1 Tim, but it is possible that we can, since we are not Timothy. So we strive to do our best. Accepting the challenges is the way forward for me, not ignoring them.

    5. The core doctrines are repeated over and over, in different ways by different authors.

  • Donald Johnson

    As an example of 3, in the NT the word nomos, often translated as law MIGHT mean:

    1. Civil law

    2. The Torah of Moses, the Pentateuch.

    3. The Written Torah or Tanakh, what we call the OT.

    4. The so-called Oral Torah of the Pharisees.

    Once we see what the possible meanings are, we can seek contextual clues about which is intended, but if one does not know the possibilities, one can just read text without understanding.

  • Derek

    I do think that it is helpful and needful to “pan out” a bit and for the Body of Christ to do some self examination. We need to be honest and acknowledge that there are many other perversions that are flourishing in our midst. I don’t think I even need to provide detail here, because all of us have seen it. My dad deals with sex addicts and he tells me that there is little discernible difference in this category than what he sees with non-believers.

    By God’s grace, we must recover a sense of horror at sin and a genuine love for holiness as we see it expressed in Ephesians 5:3-5:

    Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

    I ask you for grace and help, Lord Jesus. Many or most of us claim to love and serve you, but we simply love our sin and idols. Open our eyes so that we can see that these same sins and idols cause death; loss of every precious relationship we have; destruction of the Eden you created us to enjoy. Sin in all of its forms is a most cruel and horrible toxin. Have mercy on us, Lord! Change our hearts! Abolish the self-justification and excuses that are rampant weeds in your Church! Help us to recover a grief over ALL of the sin in our lives, the same grief most of us had when we first realized that it was OUR SIN that nailed you to the cross. Give us a love for what you love, a hatred for what you hate.
    Help us, O God. Please give us the gift of repentance. Renew a right spirit within your Body.

  • Cain

    It’s amusing to watch “Christians” on this website argue at each other over who hates gays ‘the correct way’. “Well, I don’t think gays are all bad people, but they are still going to burn in hell!” Good grief, what kind of horrible people are all of you?

  • Amanda

    By all means, let us keep proving Derek Webb’s point by wasting our lives debating picayune theological issues with no consideration to how we treat the people around us on a day to day basis. Jesus said to “love one another” and said that all other commandments stem from that. These days, I see a lot of “Christians” pretending the greatest commandment is to “judge one another” and if you work your way back up and find someone perfect enough, go ahead and love them.

    It makes me sick. And it makes the world hate Christianity, and by association, they hate Christ, which is unfortunate, because most of what “Christians” do is such a pitiful representation of the Christ we claim to serve.

  • Brian Krieger


    And, to follow that, Christ also said if you love me you will follow my commandments. That is why this issue is such a touchstone as scripture is direct on this issue (as opposed to inferential, e.g. consuming alcohol, how to provide for the poor, etc.) and if scripture is from God, that is His command. It’s not a diminutive issue at all.


    While I assume you simply happened by, to which statement are you referring? I assume you mean implication in that if someone who claims to know him yet does not keep His commandments, he is then a liar, then I would say I am without defense there.

    I forget who it is, but there is a quote that we are more troubled by what is plain in scripture than by what is vague.

  • Donald Johnson

    Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that trouble me; it’s the parts of the Bible that I do understand.”

  • Derek

    I understand a good part of where you’re coming from – it is very true that as representatives of Christ, our actions must be under girded with love.

    However, love is sometimes demonstrated in counter-intuitive ways. I was just reminded of this when I read an outstanding post on the Gospel Coalition’s website by David Murray – this post is very much on topic and explains why we cannot afford to stand idly by or remain silent when apostasy rears its head:

  • rblake

    To Ian-

    I can think of at least a half dozen people whom God delivered off the top of my head that I know.
    And no, not a couple years delivered. Try many years and married in a Heterosexual relationship delivered.

    Truth is we should preach repentance and freedom in Christ.
    It is very possible.


  • PD

    I am all for discussion. I am curious about several things (after reading through the post and all subsequent comments).

    1. Does Chris have any more to say in response to both sides of the debate––(one side being those who are encouraging him to continue in his fight, I’m one of them; and the other being those who are encouraging him to “be reconciled” to their understandings).

    I do appreciate his feedback because he is one such person who embodies the reality we tend to discuss so abstractly. I pray neither side uses him as the hero for their cause.

    2. To Kelly and Rick, who do you say Jesus is? I only say you two, because you seem to be the most vocal for the other side of the conversation in this particular thread. I do not mean to presume that those who I agree with in this particular conversation thread are automatically correct in this question. I appreciate beforehand your response.

    As this conversation shows, this particular issue usually reveals much deeper theological presumptions. We all have them; I am curious more about yours.

    Thanks to all for the engaged debate. Third party commentators (like myself) generally shouldn’t comment on a back and forth discussion between two or more people engaged in the conversation. Just as Scripture has context, so too does each individuals comments within the threaded conversation.

  • Chris

    So it’s been quite a while. I think one thing that has really stood out was 1 Cor. 6:9. What about the rest of that chapter? Verse 11 in particular clearly displays the beauty of Christ’s gospel.

    This may not make sense to everyone here, but hear me out. I interpret scripture literally. I am speaking in terms of the New Testament when I say this. When scripture (God) says one thing, He doesn’t mean something else. The things spoken of here in chapter 6 identify virtually everyone, without exclusion. The greatest part of this passage is when Paul says, “And such were some of you.” Christ CHANGES.

    Just because someone has an orientation does not mean they should act on it. Believe me, I realize this goes against everything we think and believe as human beings. Some people are oriented to drink too much, eat in excess, or be depressed. Others, like myself, are oriented towards an attraction to the same sex. No matter how easily these feelings enter my mind, I am reminded of Scripture, which God has graciously provided for us. People that bask in the aforementioned things of 1 Cor. 6 don’t inherit God’s kingdom. Those who depend on the Lord for deliverance from all things (which, by the way is a process) do, however. Those who let the Spirit of God in to work out salvation EVEN THROUGH those contrary desires do.

    The Gospel is beautiful, and the Spirit of God is real. He has used both to change my life. I struggle, sometimes until I cry out to the Lord. BUT HE IS THERE. His promises are true. His power to change is so real.

    So, to everyone reading all of this, what matters is the Gospel. Hard truth is presented here. Truth we can’t abide by on our own. Thankfully the Spirit that changes us sticks with us to show us a deep joy and contentment found in the glory of God.

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