Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jonathan Dudley's Take on Homosexuality

Jonathan Dudley recently wrote opinion piece for CNN.com that discussed the subject of homosexuality. The title of the article leaves no doubt as to the article's conclusion: "My Take: The Bible Condemns alot, So Why Focus on Homosexuality?" He begins his article by saying,
Growing up in the evangelical community, I learned the Bible's stance on homosexuality is clear-cut. God condemns it, I was taught, and those who disagree just haven't read their Bible closely enough. Having recently graduated from Yale Divinity School, I can say that my childhood community's approach to gay rights--though well intentioned--is riddled with self-serving double standards.
He then begins to advocate for the acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual marriage by appealing to what he sees as faulty reasoning within the Christianity community and within the Bible. He writes:
I don't doubt that the one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse thought it a sin. In Romans 1, the only passage in the Bible where a reason is explicitly given for opposing same-sex relations, the Apostle Paul calls them "unnatural". Problem is, Paul's only other moral argument from nature is the following: "Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?" (1 Cor 11:14-15). Few Christians would answer that question with a 'yes'.
In short, Paul objects to two things as unnatural: one is male-male sex and the other is long hair on men and short hair on women. The community opposed to gay marriage takes one condemnation as timeless and universal and the other as culturally relative.
Dudley's factual errors in this paragraph are numerous. First, two New Testament authors mention homosexuality, though one does so rather opaquely. Jude mentions that the inhabitants of Sodom gave themselves over to "sexual immorality and perversion" (1:7).
  
Second, the New Testament speaks to the issue of homosexuality three times (4x w/ Jude), and overall Scripture speaks to this issue twelve times (13x w/ Jude). Two references refer to homosexual rape (Gen 19:5; Judges 19:22), five refer to cult homosexual prostitution (Deut 23:17-18; 1 Kings 14:23-24; 15:12-13; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:6-8), 1 refers to pederasty (1 Cor 6:9-10), and 4 refer to homosexuality in general (Lev 18:21-22; 20:13; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Tim 1:8-10).

Third, Romans 1 is not the only place in Scripture where a reason for abstaining from homosexual practice is given. Both Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 claim that homosexuality is an "abomination". This is highly significant because both chapters specifically claim to be direct revelation from God (verse 1 "The Lord said to Moses..."). But Scripture offers more reasons: 1 Timothy 1:10 claims that homosexual practice is "contrary to sound doctrine" and 1 Cor 6:9 says those who practice it "will not inherit the kingdom of God".  In summary, one should abstain from homosexuality because (a) God commands it, (b) it is unnatural, (c) God considers it an abomination, (d) it is contrary to correct doctrine, and (e) those who practice it will not enter God's kingdom.

Fourth, Dudley grabs two different arguments from two different Pauline letters irrespective of context.  One Greek scholar writing on 1 Cor 6:14 states that in Paul's day "the only surviving statues in Corinth portraying men wearing long hair, besides male deities, are those appearing in the Facade of the Captives in the forum in Roman Corinth. Their long hair is intended to send the message that these captives were weak, soft, and effeminate. Long hair for men is unnatural for Paul because in his cultural context it conveys sexual ambiguity and hints of moral perversion" (Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary, pp530-31). In Romans 1 Paul is saying that homosexuality violates nature, and in 1 Cor 6 Paul is likewise saying that gender/sexual confusion (including confusion of gender roles) is likewise unnatural. Paul witnessed first hand a Roman society that openly practiced what we would consider cross-dressing or transvestite behavior. Philo, the Jewish philosopher, railed against what he called "the disease of effemination" among men in his day. For Paul, hair-styles were simply illustrative of a larger issue of sexual/gender role confusion.

Next, Dudley appeals to the Catholic Church's historic stance on celibacy. He writes:
But the community opposed to gay marriage has itself revised the Christian tradition in a host of ways. For the first 1,500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy. When a theologian names Jovinian challenged that hierarchy in 390 A.D., merely by suggesting that marriage and celibacy might be equally worthwhile endeavors, he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the Church. Yale New Testament professor Dale B. Martin has noted that today’s "pro-family" activism, despite its pretense to be representing traditional Christian values, would have been considered “heresy” for most of the church’s history.
Very true, but Dudley seems to be forgetting (or is conveniently ignoring) that the Reformers were adamantly opposed to the Roman Catholic view of celibacy and viewed it as unbiblical. Adolf von Harnack said a century ago that "the Evangelical parsonage, founded by Luther, became the model and blessing of the entire German nation". The Reformers maintained that the Roman Catholics had abandoned Scripture's clear teachings regarding the importance of marriage and family (note: much of the reason for the Catholic view was the infiltration of neo-platonic thought, which viewed the physical--in this case, sexuality--as "less holy" than "spiritual" activities such as the ministry of priests).

Dudley then brings up the issue of abortion, stating that "the vast majority of Christian theologians and saints throughout history have not believed that life begins at conception". He then quotes two church theologians (Augustine and Aquinas), both of whom believed that the developing fetus only became endowed with a living soul at some stage within gestation (for Augustine it was when the child was "endowed with senses" and for Aquinas when it possessed organs). From this Dudley makes this startling claim: "It won't do to oppose gay marriage because its not traditional while advocating other positions that are not traditional".


First of all, the reason Evangelicals oppose homosexuality and gay marriage has nothing to do with church tradition. We oppose it because it is condemned in Scripture. Secondly, what Dudley fails to tell his reader is that Augustine and Aquinas (and those who followed them) didn't rely upon Scripture for their view of abortion. In ancient times, the "delayed ensoulment" belief of Aristotle was widely accepted. Aristotle was so influential that Aquinas would refer to him in his writings simply as "the Philosopher". The delayed ensoulment view taught that the human embryo 'evolves' or becomes 'animated' with a human soul at some stage in the gestation process (often this was believed to be within the first 90 days). Many believers, following pagan philosophy rather than God's word, likewise maintained that life only begins when the human fetus is 'animated' with a living soul. 

But there have been other voices. The second-century Epistle of Barnabas treats the unborn child as any other human neighbor by saying, “You shall love your neighbor more than your own life. You shall not slay a child by abortion. You shall not kill that which has already been generated” (Epistle of Barnabas 19:5). The Didache, a second-century catechism for young converts, states, “Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant” (Didache 2:2). Tertullian said, “It does not matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. In both instances, the destruction is murder” (Apology 9:4). Reformer John Calvin said, “The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being and it is a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”

Throughout church history many Christians have abandoned Scripture's teachings on creation, life, and humanity because of their dependence upon non-Christian thought. Whether it be the philosophy of Aristotle, or the philosophy of modern day secular humanism, the fact remains that the delayed ensoulment view is incompatible with Scripture. Dudley, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, must certainly be aware of the philosophical source of this view. His failure to mention this (along with his attempt at making this a 'Christian' view) is alarmingly revisionist.

Dudley then switches to the issue of divorce. He states:
Although there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament, divorce is condemned throughout, both by Jesus and Paul. To quote Jesus from the Gospel of Mark, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery." A possible exception is made for unfaithfulness. 
The community opposed to gay marriage usually reads these condemnations very leniently. A 2007 issue of Christianity Today, for example featured a story on its cover about divorce that concluded that Christians should permit divorce for adultery, emotional and physical neglect, and abandonment and abuse. The author emphasizes how impractical it would be to apply a strict interpretation of Jesus on this matter: "It is difficult to believe the Bible can be as impractical as this interpretation implies." 
Indeed it is. On the other hand, it's not at all difficult for a community of Christian leaders, who are almost exclusively white, heterosexual men, to advocate interpretations that can be very impractical for a historically oppressed minority to which they do not belong--homosexuals.
Dudley appeals to the "other people ignore the Bible too" line of reasoning. To be fair, Dudley is exposing the hypocrisy of Evangelical Christians. With Paul, we would look at our fellow Evangelical brothers and sisters and say "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you" (Rom 2:24). We've ignored the Biblical commands concerning the purpose and definition of marriage with the issue of divorce. It is therefore no surprise if the homosexual movement seeks to do the same thing with the issue of sexuality. In many ways, we've lost our right to judge.

But, Scripture has not lost its right to judge. Dudley has offered two basic arguments for the acceptance of homosexuality, both of which side-step the authority of Scripture. One intentionally ignores (at least certain) biblical commands. The other abandons Scripture in favor of pagan philosophy. His article show no attempt to understand or submit to scriptural teaching.

Dudley ends his article with the following advice:
So let's stop the charade and be honest. Opponents of gay marriage aren't defending the Bible's values. They're using the Bible to defend their own. How does that sit with "family values" activism today 
I agree, let's stop the charade. Let's stop pretending the Scripture doesn't speak to these issues. Let's stop pretending that God isn't serious about divorce, marriage, the protection of life, and human sexuality. Let's stop pretending that He hasn't been crystal clear. Let's stop listening to voices like Dudley's who are urging the Christian community to abandon yet another biblical command.

Let's start obeying what the Bible says, in all areas to which it speaks

21 comments:

  1. The argument that our lack of faithfulness in certain area (like divorce) gives us license to ignore all of the rest of Scripture is ridiculous. Do we tell our kids when they ignore a house rule that they might as well ignore others? Are we inconsistent in some places? Sure but the response should not be to be consistently wrong everywhere else, it should be to renew our obedience in all matters.

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  2. I don't think you read Dudley's article very carefully. You say he's arguing for gay marriage, but this is his thesis statement: "my childhood community’s approach to gay rights—though well intentioned—is riddled with self-serving double standards." He may support gay marriage, but all he's trying to argue for in this column is that evangelicals are disingenuous when they portray themselves as the ones defending the Bible and tradition in this debate.

    And incidentally, Thomas Aquinas is not a "Church Father." He was a mediaeval theologian that lived 800 years after the church fathers. Talk about factual inaccuracies.
    That a few early Christians, and John Calvin, thought abortion was wrong from conception doesn't negate Dudley's point. He says the "vast majority" of Christian theologians haven't believed this, not that "all" haven't. He actually acknowledges those you mention as exceptions in his book, Broken Words, also noting that Tertullian's views were condemned as heresy and John Calvin's were mentioned only in passing and abandoned by the Protestants who immediately followed him. I'd recommend you read his book.

    You suggest that Dudley says there is only one condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible. Here's what he actually says: "there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament." Note the words "uncontested" and "New Testament." The other references you mention are either not in the New Testament or are controversial among biblical scholars. To accuse him of factual errors just highlights the fact that you didn't read his Op-Ed very carefully.

    The Reformers may indeed have thought their change in position was better supported by the Bible, but that doesn't change the fact that they departed from a traditional position. All Dudley points out is that the position in untraditional, not that it's wrong.

    And I think your wrong to portray Dudley as making "the other people ignore the Bible too" argument on divorce. Again, he's not arguing for gay marriage in the op-ed, just for the disingenuousness (or hypocrisy) of its opponents. But on the other hand, there may be very good reasons to read biblical condemnations of divorce more loosely that may also apply to condemnations of same-sex intercourse.

    And incidentally, Thomas Aquinas is not a "Church Father." He was a mediaeval theologian that lived 800 years after the church fathers.

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  3. Stephen,

    1. You are right about Aquinas. I am very familiar with him, and have read and re-read most of his translated works. I find his Latin tedious. As for your point, feel free to change the word "Fathers" to "Theologians", as that was my intent.

    2. Actually, I think you have midread Dudley. He is not merely pointing out hypocrisy within Evangelicalism. He is using that to suggest homosexuality (and gay marriage, which he specifically mentions) should be accepted. His title even suggests this.

    3. I didn't misquote him. I do understand that later in the article he mentioned the term "uncontested". But that raises another issue, are we going to dismiss a biblical passage because some scholars "contest" it? But, to my knowledge Jude 1:7 usually isn't contested by scholars, yet Dudley ignores it (regardless of one's view of what happened at Sodom, Jude clearly views the events there as sexual perversion). As for the other factual errors I mentioned, am I to assume by your silence that you concede my points?

    4. I actually conceded the point that most theologians in church history (especially from the 5th-17th centuries) didn't believe that life begins at conception. But claiming this was the "traditional" position, in light of Early Church evidence, is revisionist to the extreme. Also, Dudley's refusal to source this to Aristotle (or his ignorance of it) is alarming. That belief has clear and historically verified ties to Aristotle's philosophy. Furthermore, we must define what we mean by "traditional". For example, what role does Scripture itself play in determining whether something is "traditional". Clearly his comments were intended to convey that since modern Evangelicalism is in disagreement with a large section of church history on the issue of abortion that somehow makes Evangelicalism's position less strong. That is disingenuous and using a (partial) truth to mislead.

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  4. Steven, as a practicing Catholic as well as a professor of history Josh's usage of "church father" for Aquinas is not necessarily wrong. True, from the perspective of historical scholarship the "Fathers" properly belong to the Early Church period. But often those in the Catholic faith use the term much more loosely. Several of my friends in the clergy regularly refer to many Church theologians of history this way, regardless of time period.

    Your response comes across as snippety, and strains to find the gnat in what is otherwise an excellent rebuttal to Jonathan Dudley's woefully flawed article.

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  5. Incidentally, your argument that there are additional reasons given in the Bible for why homosexual is wrong (in addition to it being unnatural) is very weak. To say the fact that God commands it or it is an abomination is a reason for the condemning homosexuality is like saying is wrong because it's bad because it's a no-no. Those are not reasons for the rule, just different ways of stating the rule. Even scholars like Robert Gagnon, who's probably the most sophisticated biblical opponent of gay marriage, argue exactly what Dudley does: that the entire biblical argument against homosexuality rests on it being unnatural. God condemns it because it's unnatural, it's an abomination because it's unnatural, and it's contrary to correct doctrine because it's unnatural. Again, Dudley is right and you are wrong.

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  6. Steven, your zeal to defend Dudley is commendable. But I do protest your logic. Certainly Paul's appeal to nature is a major scriptural argument, but where is your logical or biblical justification for reducing all other reasons given to Paul's nature argument? You say "it is an abomination because it is unnatural", yet Scripture speaks of many things as abomination: prideful hearts, lying tongues, sowing discord, cheating, stealing, and having feet that are quick to sin. Yet Scripture never claims these are abominations because they are "unnatural", but rather the implication is because they violate the character of God. The most common Hebrew term for abomination refers to a grave & detestable offense. The behavior offends God (He is the offended party).

    You say God condemns it because it is unnatural? Does nature determines if something is right or wrong and not God? That is radical thinking, and all Christian traditions would reject that logic. Christianity would believe the reverse, actually (that right and wrong is rooted in the character of God, which is then expressed in His ordering of the universe).

    And what about the reason given that those who practice homosexuality will not enter God's Kingdom? Is the threat of Hell not a reason?

    Perhaps you agree with the overall direction and position of Dudley's article. Fair enough. But I do wonder why you wish to sport a condescending tone. I've read through (and deleted) your other comment which you submitted, since each sentence seems to be dripping in condescension. I do hope that you re-write it, because I think you bring some valuable information to the table that I would love to interact with (as well as what I believe are some serious misunderstandings of history that you seem to hold). I do not wish, however, to engage with someone who insists on making "snippety" comments (to quote Alan). Change your tone, and this can be fruitful. If not, well...that is what comment moderation is for.

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  7. Steven - PART 1 RESPONSE

    I've decided to interact a bit with your other comment (I'll do my best to remove the rudeness):

    You write: "Nothing he says in the body of the op-ed indicates that it is a direct argument for gay marriage. Not his thesis statement, not any specific argument, and not his concluding summary, so for you to read it that way is tendentious at best."

    His article in many ways covers material from his book and other writings (blog, etc). His blog offers this following description (caps mine): "He lays the groundwork for a new generation of post-Religious Right evangelical political activists, who believe in evolution, rally behind the environmental movement, are moderate on abortion, AND SUPPORT OF GAY MARRIAGE—and who are more faithful to orthodox Christianity than their counterparts." So, to say that he did not write this with a wish to advocate for the acceptance of homosexuality is naive and runs counter to his own mission statement.

    You write: "That Jude 1:7 refers to same-sex intercourse is indeed highly controversial (for example, read the belief blog op-ed by Jennifer Knust) so yes, Dudley is right that there is only one reference to same-sex intercourse in the NT that is not controversial and you are wrong in saying there is more than one."

    You are confusing my comments, and Dudley's. The Jude 1:7 comment was in reference to Dudley's comment that Paul was (and I quote) the "one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse." In that part of the article he is not dealing with the contested/uncontested number of New Testament passages, but rather the number of authors who speak to the issue of homosexual behavior (regardless of specific behavior: rape, etc). Two New Testament authors speak to this behavior: Paul and Jude.

    You write: "Dudley never claimed, regarding when life begins, that the position of Aquinas (which, incidentally was the official view of the Catholic Church until the mid-1800s, meaning that again you are wrong on your facts when you state it persisted only to the 17th century) is "the traditional position.""

    I never said it "persisted only to the 17th century." I said "especially from the 5th-17th centuries". Interesting that you inserted the word "only" into my statement. In the 1600s we see it beginning to crack. It wouldn't change officially in the Catholic world until the 1800s.

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  8. Steve, PART 2 RESPONSE:

    You write: "And incidentally, it wasn't just because of Aristotle. The Greek translation of Exodus 21 distinguishes between a formed and unformed fetus and the evangelicals who supported repealing abortion lays prior to Roe v. Wade explicitly appealed to the Bible, especially the Hebrew translation of Exodus 21, to argue that life does not begin at conception."

    Really, you are denying the connection Aristotle? As for the Septuagint, I assume you are familiar with its history and that of the Hellenistic Jews (of which Philo is typical). Contemporary scholars such as Gerleman, Hengel, Sandelin, etc. found indications of Greek philosophical thought in specific passages of the LXX, of which Ex 21:22-25 is a classic example.

    You write: "On the other hand, the early Christians you point out that did think life begins at conception thought so because of their acceptance of Plato's philosophy, a fact you conveniently neglect to mention."

    Eh? At most Plato would have argued that the fetus (like a human of any other age) represents the ideal form of "humanness", but Plato was less interested in the thing that he was in the form. Aristotle, though keeping within Plato's overall system, significantly modified it as was more interesting in the inherent potential of something to "realize" a specific form. But to claim that the Early Church relied on Plato is a serious misreading of both Plato and the early church writers.

    You write: In short, (A) you have not demonstrated factual error in Dudley's op-ed. Your response to it, on the other hand, is filled with factual errors, (B) whether they involve giving an incorrect title to Aquinas or (C) an incorrect date for the end of the delayed ensoulment theory or (D) incorrectly saying that past theologians didn't justify their position on delayed ensoulment using the Bible.

    A - You just ignoring my points, or rewording them in order to dismiss them. B - Really, your still on the Aquinas "church father" thing? C - Actually, you gave the end date, not me. I was just referring to a time period where that theory flourished. D - Granted, theologians influenced by pagan philosophy used a translation influenced by pagan philosophy, as made a conscious and intentional choice to not use the Hebrew version (with some exceptions). This supports my point.

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  9. Steven, PART 3 RESPONSE

    You write: "You read Dudley's argument in the most ungenerous way possible to make it easier for you to critique. That you think pointing out evangelical thought on divorce in the context of the debate over homosexuality reduces to a "we ignore this, let's ignore that" argument is telling. The argument is actually far more challenging and sophisticated that you acknowledge."

    Actually, Dudley appeals to an article written by David Instone-Brewer back in 2007 at Christianity Today. Sadly, Dudley seriously and almost maliciously misrepresents both Brewer's argument and overall point. Brewer DID NOT conclude that the bible's teachings on divorce are impractical and thus should be set aside. While I disagree with the conclusion he did come to, he vigorously maintains the belief that we dare not set aside any of the Bible's teachings on divorce. In fact, Brewer concludes that the Bible "gives us a clear and consistent set of rules for divorce and remarriage. Divorce is only allowed for a limited number of grounds that are found in the Old Testament and affirmed in the New Testament". He may disagree with Brewer's interpretation of Scripture, but his article suggested that Brewer set aside Scripture because the Bible is "impractical". It makes one wonder if he actually even read the article, the entirety of which was exegesis of biblical texts.

    However, Dudley makes this unwarranted deduction (e.g. one Evangelical says the bible's view on divorce are impractical) and adds "indeed it is". He further adds that interpretations of Scripture against homosexuality also "can be very impractical for a historically oppressed minority (homosexuals), as if that is justification for setting them aside. His whole point was that some Evangelicals set aside divorce because "it is too impractical" and then applies that argument to homosexuality. I would suggest that you seem to have misread Dudley.

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  10. Just a personal note because I know you won't post this:

    You've proven with your censorship that this blog is not about serious discussion but about defending right-wing idealogy. I'm sorry you didn't like my tone. But you should be responded to the facts and arguments I present, regardless of the tone in which I present them, not hiding them from your readers. It's convenient that you neglect to accept a post that points out several factual errors in your post. It must be nice to shield yourself from criticism in this manner. I'm not going to re-write my post so that it portrays you in a positive light. It was incredibly ungenerous of you to delete it, given the time it took to write it.

    That's unfortunate, but no matter; I'll take my desire for serious conversation and go elsewhere.

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  11. Ummm, did you read my above comments? I copied & pasted every point you made. I only deleted your over-the-top jabs. If you feel the personal insults were essential to your argument let me know and I will include them.

    But, for the record, I have no moral obligation to include comments that are rude in tone or engage in name-calling.

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  12. Dudley's article is like his book. He builds an Evangelical straw man and then, while declaring his own intellectual superiority, demonstrates why his position is wiser than that of the anti-intellectual Evangelicals. He sidesteps the fact that there are serious, scholarly, "grown-up" answers by Evangelicals to the issues he raises. He is so adapt at seeing the "self serving" arguments of evangelicals (thanks to the enlightenment he received at Yale), but seems unable to see the self serving arguments of liberalism. Dudley's article breaks no new ground. It is just a rehash of the same old tired arguments of Left-wing ideology. Throughout the book and article there is no attempt to strive to come to understand biblical teaching. For Dudley, scripture is not the ultimate authority. That presupposition gives birth to his conclusion.

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  13. Josh, I also noticed his twisting of Instone-Brewer's article. I remember reading through that article with great care back in 2007, and I have followed his scholarly work on the subject. I was stunned by this author's analysis of it. It is hard to take Dudley seriously when he commits such obvious revisionism to suit his purposes. Talk about charades!

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  14. I don't see how direct quotes on the article constitute revisionism. Dudley has obviously read the article too, given that he linked to it. I think his point was clearly that evangelicals have been wiling to "find nuances and complicating considerations," as Instone-Brewer does, when it comes to passages that inconvenience themselves (and Instone-Brewer does explicitly state that a main motivation for his scholarship is the seeming impracticality of a strict reading of the Bible on divorce) but not when it comes to issues of homosexuality. Far better scholars that Instone-Brewer have made a stronger case than he does that the Bible shouldn't be read in a was that precludes gay marriage, yet evangelicals have been unwilling to listen.

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  15. Anonymous, what makes these other scholars "far better"? Are they "better" because you happen to agree with them? That is very biased thinking.

    As for the quote Dudley gave, that statement appears no where in Instone-Brewer's article. It actually comes from his book ("Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible", p273). His point is that Scripture is broader on that issue. For example, both the Old Testament and the apostle Paul affirm (in different contexts) that divorce due to abandonment was always allowed. Paul was speaking specifically to literal abandonment (e.g. a spouse leaving the marriage) whereas Deut 21:10-11 include material/financial/relational abandonment. His thesis is that Jesus wasn't overturning this teaching, but rather reacting to the intentional setting aside of Scripture by the Pharisees.

    Dudley quotes from a source different than the article, quotes it out of context, and fails to see Brewer's entire point is that Scripture alone must govern our view of divorce. Brewer's conclusions are still highly restrictive.

    As it relates to homosexuality, Scripture is likewise restrictive. The pharisees set aside scripture on divorce, and likewise proponents of homosexuality have set aside scripture on sexuality. Whereas Brewer nuanced our understanding Scripture's teachings on divorce, he didn't set aside the main principle. In similar fashion, we dare not do so with homosexuality. Sure, go ahead and nuance it but what Dudley is advocating is a complete overturning of it.

    I find it fascinating and telling that "scholars" nuance the Bible so much that they make it say the exact opposite of what it actually says. Glad that Instone-Brewer's scholarship was credible enough not to engage in that.

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  16. Walter, I didn't catch that observation (about the quote not being there). But with that said Brewer does use the word "impractical", though I agree in the context you suggest.

    What is interesting is that he does give his motivation for studying this issue, and it is NOT because the strict view was "impractical". At the very beginning of his article he says (in reference to interviewing for a pastoral position):

    "All went smoothly until they posed this question: 'What is your position on divorce and remarriage? Would you remarry a divorcée or divorced man?' I didn't know if this was a trick question or an honest one. There might have been a deep-seated pastoral need behind it, or it might have been a test of my orthodoxy. Either way, I didn't think I could summarize my view in one sentence; when I thought about it further, I couldn't decide exactly what my view was. I gave a deliberately vague reply. 'Every case should be judged on its own merits.' It worked; I got the job. But I made a mental note to study the subject of divorce, and to do it quickly."

    It was only after realizing that he wasn't clear about what the Bible taught and after having begun a serious study on the issue that he realized the importance of truly knowing what scripture says. Thus, the "impracticality" of Scripture wasn't the drive, but rather the desire to understand God's Word applied faithfully and correctly to God's people. Actually, he chides pastor's for avoiding scripture because they think it is impractical.

    I think therein lies the difference between Evangelicals and Dudley. Evangelicals desire to understand and follow God's Word (though they obviously do this with varying decrees of consistency). Dudley doesn't seem to have the same motivation (as evidenced by his willingness to caste aside Paul's teachings in Romans 1). The ultimate question is what role does Scripture play in our lives? Evangelicals would says it is the final and authoritative source for faith and live. We further believe it cannot be wrong.

    Dudley tries to set aside Romans based on Corinthians. Brewer tries to find a path where all of scripture is honored and obeyed. That is the difference. Brewer is fine with the divorce issue being impractical for those who are unwilling to follow God's teachings. Dudley wants to set aside scripture because it is impractical. The gulf between the two approaches is nearly infinite.

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  17. Jonathan Dudley is an apostate who will face God's judgement. Hell's fire is ready and waiting.

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  18. Alright, I approved that last comment only to publicly rebuke it. I've already slapped someone's hand on the left-side of the theological spectrum for getting condescending, but I'll also not condone unloving responses from the other side.

    Rules for engagement: Disagree, even forcefully. Feel free to point out discrepancies, even what you see as disingenuous statements. Certainly point out what you believe is bad logic or incorrect assumptions. But let's not question each other's intelligence or assign them to hell.

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  19. I have never heard of Dudley before reading this article, and I can't imagine why why such a poorly written article was featured on cnn online. His arguments are almost childish.

    Here is a clear example of someone forming their conclusions BEFORE approaching the biblical text. It will result in one of two things: (1) twisting scripture to suit one's purposes or (2) abandoning scripture all together. Dudley seems to do both, not to mention seriously twisting church history.

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  20. Josh, do you think it was wrong to call Dudley an apostate? From what I am reading, it sounds like an accurate description.

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  21. Arley,

    No, I think that is a fair assessment (or perhaps 'heretic' is more appropriate, since an apostate by definition is someone who has openly left Christianity, whereas a heretic is someone who twists it).

    I was objecting to the statement about hell, which almost seemed to be glad Dudley was heading in that direction.

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