Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, November 20, 2006

Judge Not, Lest You Be Flat-Out Wrong

Buzz Thomas is a Baptist minister (not for long, I'll venture) who worries in USA Today that the church is losing its credibility over the homosexuality issue. He writes:
What if Christian leaders are wrong about homosexuality? I suppose, much as a newspaper maintains its credibility by setting the record straight, church leaders would need to do the same:

Correction: Despite what you might have read, heard or been taught throughout your churchgoing life, homosexuality is, in fact, determined at birth and is not to be condemned by God's followers.
I don't know about Buzz, but I have this nagging little voice inside me that says that corrections ought to be correct before you publish them, you know? So let's look at his arguments. (He keeps his focus strictly on the Bible, not on the scientific arguments du jour about the basis of homosexuality, so this post follows in his footsteps.)

Argument 1 -- The church has been wrong before, as when "we dug in our heels over Galileo's challenge to the biblical view that the Earth, rather than the sun, was at the center of our solar system." As a result, the Church lost all it has -- moral authority -- and for many scientists, it never gained it back.

I've read the Bible several times, and I find nothing in it that says the Earth is the center of the solar system. In fact, the very first line of the Bible states,
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
Heaven first, earth second. Thomas confuses the belief of the religious leadership with the word in the Bible. He overlooks the many other evils of the church leadership in the time of Galileo, the consequential reformation, the far-too-late statement by the church that it was, in fact, wrong to condemn Galileo.* And finally, he ignores the fact that scientists often look for reasons to flee the moral authority of the church; this does not make the church wrong.

Update: There are verses that appear to defy heliocentrism: Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, which implies that it is moving and was long assumed to mean "moving around the earth." Of course, now we know the sun is moving, and besides, it does move across the sky, and if the earth were to stop spinning on its axis, it would appear to be fixed.

There's also Psalms 92 (“He has made the world firm, not to be moved.”) and 103 (“You fixed the earth upon its foundation, not to be moved forever.”), but these can easily be interpreted to mean the earth part of the planed is fixed on the planet, not floating about willy-nilly.

Argument 2 -- The case against homosexuality is made in Leviticus, which calls out lots of sins that are now appparently acceptable. We eat rare beef nowadays and it's not a sin, so why not bugger a few guys?

Leviticus 18 spells out lots of nasty sins having to do with undressing various people who shouldn't be undressed by you -- other's wives, sisters, father's sisters, and so on -- and all are sins. Only laying with mankind is termed an "abomination" in this chapter of sins. Of course, there are many abominations in the Bible, some to man, some to God, so we can't make this argument an absolute. But hold on; we're not done with this yet.

Buzz' next argument jumps to the New Testament, and remember, between the Old and the New, Christ laid down a new Covenant. Everything changes.

Argument 3 -- Christ never spoke out against homosexuality.

True. Not one verse recorded in the Bible -- which is only a fraction of what He said, but if you are a fundamentalist, you believe each word was placed there or not placed there by God with a purpose -- has Jesus addressing homosexuality. Of course, Paul discusses it at length and finds it to be, guess what, an abomination.

Why should we believe Paul? He was just a man, not the Son of God. Yes, that's true, but he was taught by the Risen Jesus, and is generally regarded as the God-sanctioned rule-writer for the Christian church.

Argument 4 -- Jesus said "Judge not, let you be judged," and he said, "Love you neighbor as yourself," and "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," so he would accept homosexuality.

Except he didn't. There are records throughout the Gospels of his association with sinners, but homosexuals are never listed among them. If he was so hot on them, why weren't they part of his crew?

Interestingly, in recent years "judge not lest you be judged" has become the most popular verse in the Bible, replacing John 3:16. It's perfect for our time, isn't it? But these jolly quoters of Matthew 7:1 tend to forget Mathhew 7:2:
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
We are taught, then, not to judge because it's a bad thing to do, but because it will measure how we are judged. So if we choose not to judge someone who's sinning in order to justify our own sin, God will use our sin as a measure of our life. If we choose to judge someone who's sinning in order to try to lead them to a less sinful life, that too will be measured, with better results for us in the end.

I went through this exercise for a simple purpose: To question why Thomas' simplistic and incorrect arguments were provided the prominent display afforded by USA Today. Not because he argues well. Not because he captures biblical teachings well. But because he writes what MSM wants to read: Not tough questions about morality, but easy outs for immorality.

I read yesterday about members of a Baptist church in Texas who raked the yard of an aging gay couple who could no longer tend to yardwork. They did it because there was a need and they did it with love. No one preached to the two old gays about the sins of their lifestyle. They just said a "God bless you," and went on their way, their pick up trucks full of bags of leaves.

That's the reality of the Christian faith, but people like Buzz Thomas obscure it.

* Thanks to Patrick and a link to this article, I now know that I've been duped by the MSM interpretation of the Galileo affair:
In 1979, [Pope John Paul] expressed the wish that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences conduct an in-depth study of the celebrated case. A commission of scholars was convened, and they presented their report to the Pope on October 31, 1992. Contrary to reports in The New York Times and other conduits of misinformation about the Church, the Holy See was not on this occasion finally throwing in the towel and admitting that the earth revolves around the sun. That particular debate, so far as the Church was concerned, had been closed since at least 1741 when Benedict XIV bid the Holy Office grant an imprimatur to the first edition of the Complete Works of Galileo. (Emphasis added)
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