Tag Archive: homosexuality

A few days ago i posted a link to an article titled, ‘Why Jesus wants you to stop spanking your kids’ followed by a link to this article, ‘When Violence hits home: “Sparing the rod”, spanking and peaceful parenting,’ which seemed to give a more cultural explanation of what the rod might be referring to [in the bible passage all the ‘hit your kids’ people rush to use in their defence].

My friend Leanne shared them on her page and the whole thing exploded with a variety of people jumping on with a diversity of strongly-held approaches to the topic of disciplining your child [with half of them advocating why that was okay to do with a stick, belt, spoon…]

Another friend, John Eliastam, agreed to take some time to share some of his thoughts which his did on his greatly named blog, The Dead Pastor’s Society, under the title, ‘More on “the rod”‘, which you can and should read over here, because it was great and super helpful. Not simply on the topic of hitting your kids [although it deals with that] but more largely on the topic of reading and understanding and knowing the bible in a way that is helpful and more true. i am hoping John will write a piece for my blog on that.

But that is not what really sparked for me in that conversation. Rather it was the amount of people responding and the time put into the responses which included a whole bunch of ‘read more’ tabs to click if you wanted to see all the many paragraphs of conversation people had for that topic. This was a topic people really were invested in.

I shared this quote as my status around the same time: ‘The poor don’t need soup or shoes. They need a place at your table for the next 20 years.’ [from my friend Portal Pete]

Two shares, couple of likes and a few comments. Did not need to ‘Read More’ on any of the comments.


In fact, if i was a being from another planet and observing the life and beliefs and attentions of people who call themselves christians, there is a huge chance i would be able to reach the conclusion that being a part of the church was mostly about defending the sanctity of spanking and hating “the gays”, or at least stopping them from committing “their agenda” or taking us over and making us all like them [or something].

And bigger and better church buildings and more expensive music equipment of course.

Is a conversation on how best to discipline your children important and worth having? Absolutely.

Is engagement with the LGBT community and seeking both God’s response [which above all, is ALWAYS going to first and foremost be love by the way] and ours an important and necessary thing? Of course.

But with a bible and christian handbook with less than ten references to disciplining your children and homosexuality and OVER TWO THOUSAND references to how we should be relating to THE POOR, is it possible that we have perhaps missed the point a little by spending so much attention and focus and strong opinion on the things that God seems to be spending less time on? And refusing to absolutely embrace and incorporate into our lifestyles the very things He seems to indicate are the most important.


i remember when i was in Americaland following some of the story of a local pastor here in Cape Town, who launched a whole campaign trying to unite the local church congregations across Cape Town to rally together against ‘the evil of the government’ trying to make it illegal for parents to hit their children. That really made me very sad. Not because it is necessarily a bad thing to get behind your beliefs and do what you can to defend them where necessary.


i’m not sure i have seen the same kind of passion and drive in action when it comes to the poor living among us, to the lines and lines of shacks you drive past on a trip to or from the airport, the homelessness issues we have in and around our city, the huge problem with children who are growing up without families.

Imagine that pastor took all his time and energy and resources and instead of campaigning for the right to hit his children, convinced his congregation to consider adoption as valid a form of parenting as raising a child who is biologically yours? Do those really seem like equal-of-importance things?


“Jesus, what is the greatest commandment?” – Love God [with all your heart, soul, strength, mind] and Love your neighbour as yourself.

“Jesus, who is my neighbour” – responds with the story of the Good Samaritan which is about a man on a journey who comes across a man in great need and helps him to the point of it being of great cost to himself [time, money, resources]

‘If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person?’ [1 John 3:17]

‘Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?’ James 2:15-16

‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’ [Isaiah 1:17]

’41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”’ [Matthew 25]

… and about 1996 more or so…

Church, it is long overdue for us to stop majoring in the minors [that doesn’t mean the minor things are not important and should not be focused on – it does mean they might be less important and require less of our time, money and engagement] and to start giving more emphasis to the things Jesus [and the whole bible] seemed to indicate were a bigger deal. Being known by the love we have for one another for starters. Looking after the least of these. Engaging with those who are not like us and who the rest of the world might not be super amped to spend time with.

Discuss. [but first GYHOOYA].

“the Bible says so!”

end to an argument for a lot of people [who won’t necessarily give you a book, chapter and verse to make it easier on you but are pretty convinced in their heads that because they think something is true then surely the Bible must say so]

about a week ago i got involved in a ‘discussion’ on the ‘book [the less quotable one] where a pastor had posted a statement made by Bishop Tutu that had something to do with homosexuality and he was disagreeing with the statement… in the comments section i asked for clarification on one point because i was not sure what comment he was making on it and that’s where the fun began…

because a number of his followers jumped in to defend him and the sum total of some of their defense was “the bible says so!”

ah, so it must be true then, if it’s in the bible [which contains stories of polygamy, revenge, smashing tent pegs through peoples heads and so on, so maybe the mere fact that something is mentioned in the bible is not enough for starters – we may need a little more in terms of understanding context, intention of writer, original language it was written in, the story as a whole, the intended audience etc] or maybe not.

when Jesus encourages us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” [Matthew 22.37] perhaps He included the bit about the mind because He wanted us to use it?

the homosexuality argument is a case in point because too often people who have used the bible to back up their stance have used ridiculous out-of-context passages to do so – like picking a verse in deuteronomy that suggests homosexuality is wrong but choosing to ignore all the verses around it that say things like ‘A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.’ [verse 5], ‘Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.’ [verse 11] and of course, ‘If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die.’ [verse 22] which clearly they do not fight as vocally for.

another is the ‘prayer of Jabez’ theology where someone took a couple of verses in Chronicles, relating to one specific man’s specific prayer and God’s response to him:

‘Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.’ [1 Chronicles 4.9-10]

this prayer is given in narrative form rather than teaching form and it rides on the back of ‘Jabez was more honorable than his brothers’ which is not the heavily focused on part, and dwell even more on the ‘enlarge my territory’ bit than the ‘keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain’ phrase. and so people started praying this prayer religiously [superstitiously?] and expecting great things from God.

what is interesting is how we can do that to a short prayer one guy prays and yet no-one has come up with a best-selling ‘The Prayer of Job’ much longer prayers] with such winning phrases as, “May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’ That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it. May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm it.’ [Job 3.3-5]

you can add some of Isaiah and Jeremiah’s prayers into the mix as well. what may look like it works for a whole bunch of western christians in relative wealth and comfort [the prayer of Jabez] does not look the same at all if you put it into the mouths of Christ followers in countries where if you are caught following or converting to Jesus you are stoned to death or maybe those living in some of the poorer nations of the world. and it doesn’t work if you hold it up against the teachings of Jesus and Paul and the Bible story as a whole.

that would be like reading that King David slept with another man’s wife and that he was ‘a man after God’s own heart’ and so therefore we can sleep with other men’s wives. absolutely crazy. context is important, how it fits into the bible narrative as a whole, who the intended audience was and what the writer was trying to say.

the bible is written in a variety of different styles of writing and you cannot approach poetry the same way as narrative, or prophecy in the same way as teaching – we would never do that in english class and yet people do it with the bible all the time, because, say it with me, “the Bible says so”

this coupled with the fact that one of the biggest blights in the church today is that people do not know their bibles [largely because they do not read their bibles] and so it has become an even worse understood ‘i think the bible says so’ often coupled with a secret ‘because my pastor/favorite author/blogger said so’ and so our definitive declarative statement of ‘the Bible told me so’ has really been watered down to a sense of ‘this is my guess as to what God thinks about this one and i’m too lazy to really check it out for sure.’

it’s time for the church to love Jesus, and grow a brain! oh wait, God already gave us one of those… just start using it then.

in 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul writes, ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is god’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil.’ [vs. 16-22]

now it does seem to be referring specifically to prophecies in that example, but i would suggest that principle needs to be true of any handling of God’s word – that of your pastor says it or if you read it in a book or if you feel like that would be God’s stance on a thing, then you need to go and test it – hold on to the good, avoid every kind of evil. test it by taking it back to the bible and seeing if it falls in line with Jesus teaching and with the overarching theme of the biblical narrative. test it by discussing it with people you know who you respect as people who generally love God and understand His Word. test it by inviting the Holy Spirit in your own heart to bear testimony.

if you hold to a stance that violence is wrong, then you need to read through the old testament again and realise that there is a lot of violence happening there [and a lot which is encouraged, ordered by or brought about by God] and so you might need to do some wrestling with some passages and some understanding of the story and with some authors who have written on the subject to figure out what God is saying about that today.

if you hold to the opinion that monogamy is God’s way for us, then you need to struggle through stories of Abraham, Jacob, David and many others and the face that polygamy doesn’t seem to be directly condemned in the Bible and possibly the closest to teaching on the topic is role-specific where deacons/elders are to be the man of one wife.

and so on. there are many things in the bible that if we start looking at them honestly, become areas that need much wrestling, discussion and prayer to determine exactly what God is and isn’t saying and to throw out a quick and simplistic “the Bible says so” often does not do our faith or our integrity or reputation [specifically to non-believers] any good.

God has given us a brain and He wants us to use it. Reading the Bible is a start. Getting to know and understand Scripture is great. And then effectively applying it to today’s world and context is a further great step. Doing that in community so others can help in areas that might be blind spots for you is a winner. Being able to hold different ideas in tension [which may not seem to work together – can God be just and Loving at the same time?] as well as taking the time to hear someone share their explanation on a topic you might have a strongly different opinion on and really see where they are coming from [women in leadership, tattoos, vegetarianism etc] are all ways of really helping you become more sure about what you believe. as well as having the brains to leave a gap for the possibility that ‘i might be wrong on this one despite how strongly i believe it.’

see also Critique vs Criticism unless you came here from reading that and then don’t or you’ll hit this time loop and if you see yourself the whole universe will implode or something…

so this teacher of the law comes up to Jesus and says, “So what is the most important command in the law?”

it’s a trick question and yet Jesus floors the gang of them by summing up the whole law as “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength. and love your neighbour as yourself.” [paraphrase, Matthew 22.37-38]

and since then, christians through the years have been well known for hating gay people, and people who have abortions, and the Catholics, and people who drink and do drugs, and those who live together, and black people, and people who run sex shops and so on…

is it just me, or are you thinking that maybe that’s not EXACTLY what Jesus was going for?

in fact, in John 13.34-35 He repeats the command/expectation/inspiration/mission when He says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”


how is it possible that for the most part it often seems as if christians are known for what they are against, rather than what they are for? we placard, we burn down, we email petition, we march, we ban, we exclude, we look down upon and we gossip, among other things, against all the evil sin that surrounds us in the world (and retreat once more to the safety of the church bubble we have created)

and yet the mark of a Christian, our tattoo as it were, is meant to be love. be known by the love you have for each other. in fact, before we even get to the rest of the world, that’s where we stumble isn’t it? cos we can’t even love ourselves? because we all belong to different demonisations, sorry ‘denominations’, and let me tell you why my church is better than your church, or why you have it wrong, or how you should be doing baptism or communion or singing or dancing or not dancing or whatever…

[at this point i glance over my shoulder and see Jesus fashioning a whip together]

fortunately though, Jesus doesn’t give up on us. and fortunately Love, true sacrificial life-transforming redemptive love is contagious. in Corinthians it concludes the love-is-a-choice list with ‘Love never fails’ – it makes mistakes, it gets it wrong sometimes, it messes up horribly… but it never fails. and that is exciting!

so it can begin with you. and me. let’s commit to being known by the love we have one for another. for those we disagree with. for those who do things we don’t understand or even find downright offensive. for those who sin and don’t even seem to notice and care.  for those who do church differently from us. let’s wear the tattoo of God’s love. let’s be salt and light. let’s be ambassadors, and a fresh fragrance and aroma of Christ.

let’s be followers of Jesus (and not just christians!)

after all, wasn’t it Him who, while suffering a torturous agonising death, called out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”




[Love never fails!]

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