Christian leader releases ‘parental guidance’ video to challenge assumption that the New Testament forbids same-sex relationships

12th July 2017
‘Ancient porn’ sheds new light on Bible verses

Gay sex is a sin.  The New Testament makes that abundantly clear.

Or does it?

According to one of the UK’s most prominent evangelicals, if Christian scholarship engages with archaeological evidence from the rediscovered ancient city of Pompeii, much of St Paul’s teaching on sexuality must be radically reinterpreted.

In a new online video for the Open Church Network, Revd. Canon Steve Chalke argues that by studying the remains of Pompeii, and understanding the ancient Roman world’s highly sexualised culture, we can find new meaning in chapters such as Romans 1, which have traditionally been misinterpreted to condemn same-sex relations.

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Revd. Canon Steve Chalke says, “For too long the remains of Pompeii have been little known to members of the general public, but when the chance to examine them is taken, it becomes abundantly clear that in ancient Rome, sex was everything. 80% of the artwork recovered from Pompeii and its sister town of Herculaneum is sexually explicit and also reveals a fascination with the image of the stiff, erect penis – a symbol of power and pleasure.  This is the context into which the New Testament was written.

If you were a man in Roman culture, so long as someone was your social inferior – a slave, a gladiator, a woman etc. – it was considered socially acceptable and respectable to penetrate them.  A married man would have a mistress for pleasure and a non-Roman boy for ecstasy.  They called these people ‘infames’; those utterly lacking in social standing and deprived of most protections accorded to citizens under Roman law. There is also much evidence that Roman women also engaged exploitative sex – typically with female slaves, gladiators or male castrated slaves – whose testicles had been removed or rendered inoperative, so that they could not produce sperm and lost their desire for sex but still had the ability to perform it. Juvenal, the poet, tells us that bored Roman women took these eunuchs as lovers.

“So engrained was this way of thinking and behaving that it became incorporated into religion.  Drug and alcohol fuelled orgies featuring men sleeping with women, men sleeping with men and women sleeping with women and men were even classed as acts of worship.

Chalke argues that against this backdrop, verses such as the often quoted Romans 1 v 27 (“In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error”) should be understood to condemn the power-driven sexual hierarchy and abuse so common to Roman life, with the rest of the chapter condemning their sex-driven approach to worship and idolatry.

Every Christian believes God to be a God of love.  It is no wonder that these abusive practises are condemned by inspired scripture.  But, it is a disingenuous misreading of the text to conclude that what Paul describes in Romans 1 can be used to prevent people forming loving, faithful and nurturing relationships with people of the same-sex.”

The video, containing graphic images that were discovered in Pompeii, which also deals with the three other passages in the New Testament that have traditionally been used to condemn any kind of homosexual activity or even orientation has been released and is available at openchurch.network.

Chalke continues, “The content of the video is so graphic that we’ve had to place a parental warning label on it – however I have not released this out of any desire to provoke or shock for the sake of it.  Because of widespread ignorance of the ancient world and Greco-Roman culture in churches across the West, we throw Bible verses around without understanding their context.  We misunderstand Paul’s criticism of rituals that exploit power and abuse people and then, out of ignorance, use them to try to prevent people of same-sex orientation from finding loving, committed and fulfilling partnerships and of entering into, what I believe is, the holy institution of same-sex marriage.  For the Church, the Bible is the corner stone of faith and practise.  It is time we took it more seriously. The Church has a duty to use every tool of modern scholarship available in this task.

The ancient city Pompeii was buried - although not, as we now know, destroyed - when the nearby, supposedly extinct, volcano Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, covering it and the nearby town of Herculaneum and their inhabitants in many tons of pumice and volcanic ash. Although the disaster remained in people's minds for many years it was eventually forgotten, until the exploration of the ancient site started in 1748.

However, work to excavate the city still continues today and it is only in relatively recent years that there has been sufficient public access to allow the findings to influence theological and cultural scholarship.

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It's never a good idea to allow 'relatively recent' discoveries to influence theological scholarship that's been widely accepted by the Church for centuries. Also, it's not just in the New Testament that homosexual practice is ruled out. And the Lord Jesus Christ Himself endorsed 'one man, one woman' practise of Genesis; 'a man shall leave his parents and be united with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'.

Unfortunately the church generally has a reputation of ignoring scientific discoveries even when the evidence was there for all to see. Remember the persecution of Galileo for his discoveries. 

Theology should be arrived at not only by Bible and text study but also tempered by, and put into context, by proper understanding of the history and culture of the time these things were written.

 

 

Can you honestly show me in the Bible where Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John condemn homosexuality openly and without question? If you can, then you are quoting from a Bible different from the one I have been reading all my life. BTW: I am a pastor. Love is love - and love is NOT a sin.

What do you do with Matthew 19:1-12? It isn't merely law based, it's a creation based order. 

What do you do with Matthew 19:1-12?
Start by working out what it is about.  Most bibles give a clue by the big heading saying DIVORCE.
The question Jesus answers is '“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
If the question had been 'a man to divorce his husband' it would have taught us something about same-sex marriage. But it isn't.
There were 2 schools of thought at the time, 1. A man could divorce his wife for any reason - she was just property and 2. You can only divorce for adultery.
Jesus reminds them that women too were created by God, they have equal value to the man.  He goes on to say that God wants married people to stay together.
Later, the disciples panic, its not worth the risk of getting married in case we mess up and end up getting rejected by God.  In v 11-12 Jesus softens the rule (because we are hard harted and weak) and says that not everyone can accept this teaching.  Some of us will fail and be unable to stay married and will get divorced.

This combination of a strict teaching and a softened application actually makes good sense. No loving parent wants to see a beloved child go through the pain of a divorce. I fervently hope and pray that my children's marriages will be happy, fulfilling and lasting. This is the strict part of my own feelings about divorce — I care about my children deeply, and this means I absolutely despise the thought that they would have to go through a divorce one day. But if disaster were to strike and one of their marriages should fail, that same deep caring means I would continue to love and support my children. The “application” of my fervent desire that they not have to experience a divorce is softened by my love for them, which continues through good times and bad. So it is with God’s love for us.

To read into this a condemnation for same-sex marirage is a logical fallacy.  Jesus without question speaks approvingly of heterosexual marriage. But does that mean he automatically condemns same-sex relationships? If I go to a restaurant with a group of friends and speak approvingly of the triple-chocolate layer cake, does that mean I automatically condemn anyone who orders the cherry cheesecake for dessert instead? Of course it doesn’t! 

It makes no sense to say that because Jesus approves of heterosexual marriage, he necessarily condemns alternative patterns of life. If that logic were true, we would also have to say that Jesus condemns people who choose to remain single, which is yet another alternative to heterosexual marriage. But in that case Jesus would be condemning himself, because Jesus chose to remain unmarried!

As a pastor, do you only preach from the four gospels?  Do you completely disregard the Bible beyond Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?
There are numerous fallable arguments in this presentation.  It's important to understand that God is not defined by any culture or civilization.  Archaealogical evidence exists that some people returning to Pompeii saw the eruption as God's wrath akin to Sodom and Gomorrah... which would reinforce modern-day assertions of Biblical condemnation of homosexuality, not affirmation of it.  
The presentation became semi-laughable when it was brought out that "homosexuality" was never mentioned in the Bible... which it wouldn't since the word wasn't even invented until the 1800s.  
It would be quite convenient for this presentation to have any substance, but I can't even comprehend God, much less define Him.  If you're going to take the intellectual high road, you must first ensure you have the intellect to do so.  Galations 6:7-8 immediately comes to mind.

By your metric of fallable arguments, we ought not beleive the Bible either since it is also chocked full of fallable arguments and contradictions.

Do you ever get backlash from the congregation when you say "Love is love - and love is NOT a sin."?

It's never a good idea to allow 'relatively recent' discoveries to influence medical scholarship that's been widely accepted by doctors for centuries.

A little perspective.

the Génesis marriage model was actually polygamous

Yeah, far better to depend on a book for which no original copies exist, that has been translated & retranslated, modified at the whims of kings, emperors, princes, & popes, reinterpreted umpteen times, and taken so far away from its original context that no one really knows what it originally said or meant that what a bunch of "elite theologians" believe based on empirical evidence, right?

Snark aside, these are not "relatively recent discoveries."  It's LONG been believed & discussed by objective theologians (those not blinded by fundamentalist preconceptions or "gays are icky" prejudices) that the same-sex practices that Paul tirades about were NOT the partnerships between equals of the same gender that we know today as gay relationships.  He was almost certainly referring, as this article mentions, to the abusive, often pederastic, sexual practices of the Romans, as well as to the hedonistic temple orgies performed as worship acts to the Roman pantheon.  Regardless, why should what's been "accepted by the church of centuries" be the end-all-be-all of what we believe & live by?  The church sanctioned slavery for literally millenia.  The church has sanctioned & practiced torture & inquisition.  The church propped up feudalism and justified colonialism & genocide. The church has supported segregation, misogyny, xenophobia, and warfare.  The church hardly has a great historical track record when it comes to leading on issues of morality.

The problem is, though, that that scholarship isn't really that old.  The more we learn from archeology, the more we have insight into the culture and the actual history.  Joshua didn't break down the walls of Jericho, for example; there's no archeological evidence.  So, we have to filter the verse/s about him doing so through that lens, and consider that what was written was figurative and not literal, like bringing down the house in reference to a really good musical performance.  There is one school of thought that men who were born 'eunuchs' were actually gay, and trusted with women because they had no interest in them.  There's also a suggestion that the young man healed in the Roman centurian's household was his younger male lover because the text can be interpretted that way, and Jesus didn't hesitate to heal the man.  If we can look at these passages more objectively and without the baggage of 'homosexuality is a sin, hate the sin', allowing, for example, textual analysis, archeology and history to better inform us, we get a more nuanced, and I think, a truer view. 

Not to argue, but this was a dialogue with the Pharisees specifically relating to the legality of divorce. Though you didn't include your source, one must infer that you are referencing Matthew 19:3-6. Rereading that passage in the Greek, I think you may be (literally) putting words in Jesus' mouth to defend your own interpretation of scripture. Particularly likely if you're reading one of those "recent" translations that so many non-scholars rely upon. 

So what do these words of Jesus mean for men who do not marry and/or continue to live with their parents?

If "relevatively recent' discoveries had not influenced theological scholarship, we would still have church endorsed racism and slavery as we once did centuries ago. We would still have people being persecuted for saying the earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around. Human understanding can be flawed, and theology is human understanding. By becoming a traditionalist that never alters past human understnading of certain matters, you can remain stuck in flawed and false narratives. 

When Jesus mentioned 'a man shall leave his parents and be united with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh', he did so to a response on a challenge he was issued about divorce. It is in Matthew 19. He was asked whether it was okay for a man to divorce his wife for any reason. The full response includes "what God has put together let no man rend asunder". That is what that passage was about. It was not about homosexuality or heterosexuality. It is dishonest biblical scholarship to quote mine a verse out of context and claim a false intent of its use. If this is difficult to grasp, let me put it this way. If someone was asked about whether or not it was wrong to use green apples for apple cobbler and they said, "Let the apple be full of juice whether red or green for a cobbler that is supreme!" Is it honest for someone to take this quote and say that the person was speaking against making peach cobbler because the only kind of cobbler they endorsed was apple cobbler? Get it? 

Dishonest and hypocritical Christians practice a fraudulent thing called "proof-texting" where they pull a verse completely out of its storyline and cultural and historical background and quote it for how it read on the surface in the English translation and seems to endorse whatever stance they are trying to claim as God's  stance on an issue. This is wrong. It is dishonest. It is easily refuted and will result in increased disrespect for the bible when people see how easily it can be manipulated. Especially when the same Christians do not apply this "proof-texting" manipulation with verses that will indict or inconvenience them, yet do it only to load up heavy burdens and judgement and endorsement of inequality on others to whom they already have a prejudice. Keep doing that and watch as more and more people call you out on it and begin distrusting religion entirely. 

The quotes in the url make this very difficult to share on facebook

You give a very flimsy argument in my opinion, that Paul may have been addressing abuse in the Roman culture when he rote Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1Timothy 1:10, but you gave no evidence to secure your argument that he wasn't talking about homosexuality. In fact in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy Paul treats sexual abuse and homosexuality as separate sins. Romans goes further in saying in verse 27 "In the same way the men also abandoned natural relationships with women and were inflamed with lust for one another." Paul is making it very clear what he's talking about. I don't believe that verse can be inturpreted in any other way other then homosexuality is wrong. 

The Bible does not talk about homosexuality. This is easy to understand because the word “homosexual” did not exist and was not used until after 1860. The concept of sexual orientation did not appear, at the earliest, until near the end of the 1600s. This means that the reason there is no reference in the Bible to homosexuality or heterosexuality or bisexuality or asexuality and no general reference to sexual orientation is because at the time the Bible was written neither the vocabulary nor the concept existed. Consequently, translating any Biblical text as “homosexuality” is scholastically irresponsible and an abuse of the scripture.

Perhaps you know the interpretational nuance of ancient Greek far better than the biblical scholars who've written extensively about these passages (particularly in Corinthians) - As such, please discuss the historical context of μαλακοί vs. ἀρσενοκοῖται vs. πόρνοι vs.  κίναιδοι. Until such a time as you can converse intelligently regarding those points of translation and historical context, I'm afraid this it is you who have the "flimsy argument." 

Can you post a version with subtitles or a transcript please?

I'm not sure how God expected humans to go forth and multiply if homosexuality was to be considered commonplace and acceptable? Paul also made great efforts to dissuade the early church from following the sexual practices of the Romans. Chrstians were to be distinct from the culture that surrounded them to a larger extent. 

How many children did Paul have? Jesus? So everyone wasn't being fruitful and multiplying!

Great article.  Though the statue shown in the picture is a modern day creation standing in Pompeii temporarily. 

'We invent a God in our image because it legitimises the way we want to live. Our God becomes our little hero. We invent a God who is fine with consumerism.'  So please let us not invent a God not of the Bible to legitimise our fractured lifestyle. When we truly commit ourselves to Him He will surely transform us to His image. God loves you Steve, and He will forgive if you submit to Him.

Steve? Using Falwell's quote, giving the name Steve to all gay men, signals to us how far removed you are from any gay men or women in your personal life. Jesus loved EVERYONE, and passed judgement only on the hypocrites. Are you a hypocrite, or a Jesus follower?

Beautiful and insightful message! Thanks for your ministry in the U.K. 

As posted on FaceBook

Steve is of course right about Roman culture, unfortunately as "Rev Dr Ian Paul the Dean of Studies at St John's College, Nottingham, told Christian Today: 'Everyone in scholarship has known this for years. And so what? The question is what Paul's texts are criticising...and they include same-sex sexual relations, not just sexualisation as a whole.'

Dr Paul, who is editor of the religious affairs publisher Grove Books, dismissed Chalke's claims as 'a heap of nonsense'." from the CT link: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/should.ancient.pornography.mean.we.re.interpret.st.pauls.teachings.on.gay.sex/110703.htm

 

This is an intellectually weak claim, made worse by claiming intellectuality, that is unnecessary, fails the dialectic, projects our liberalism backwards and ignores the tacit, integral homophobia of classical Jewish including Christian culture, like the claim that Jesus sanctioned the fullest possible loving relationship between the centurion and his servant. Christianity is on the trajectory of the arc of the moral universe, even in Jesus, even in its, His divine transcendence by NATURE above culture at the time. That trajectory has continued for two thousand years of social evolution which has accelerated in the last few decades with regard to other than narrow heterosexual behaviour.

In view of Douglas Campbells treatise of Rom 1-3 we now see a far clearer and structured reading of the text when considering that Paul is rendering a rhetorical argument against a Jewish teacher, writing the book of Romans in order to defend his gospel from hostile Jewish-Christian opponents.  If this is the case Rom 1:26-28 is not even Paul speaking, but he is quoting the teacher. Paul’s gospel starts with the revelation of God’s righteousness in the Christ-event, the Teacher begins his sermon with the problem, namely, the unveiling of God’s wrath against injustice and judges homosexuallity. This does not present Pauls theology in the least, which positions itself against a theology based on economies of exchange or works of the law.  Homosexuality is irrelevant in this context as it doesn't represent Paul's ideas.  In Romans 2, Paul then turns against the Teacher as he seeks to reduce the Teacher’s gospel to absurdity through applying the Teacher’s own principles to Jewish privilege. So in 2:1–3 Paul claims that this Teacher also deserves God’s judgment since his actions violate his own teaching.  (Rom 1:1-17/Paul, Rom 1:18-32 /Teacher, Rom 2:1-3:1/Paul, Rom 3:2/Teacher, Rom 3:3/Paul, Rom 3:4/Teacher, Rom 3:5/Paul  etc.)

In view of Douglas Campbells treatise of Rom 1-3 we now see a far clearer and structured reading of the text when considering that Paul is rendering a rhetorical argument against a Jewish teacher, writing the book of Romans in order to defend his gospel from hostile Jewish-Christian opponents.  If this is the case Rom 1:26-28 is not even Paul speaking, but he is quoting the teacher. Paul’s gospel starts with the revelation of God’s righteousness in the Christ-event, the Teacher begins his sermon with the problem, namely, the unveiling of God’s wrath against injustice and judges homosexuallity. This does not present Pauls theology in the least, which positions itself against a theology based on economies of exchange or works of the law.  Homosexuality is irrelevant in this context as it doesn't represent Paul's ideas.  In Romans 2, Paul then turns against the Teacher as he seeks to reduce the Teacher’s gospel to absurdity through applying the Teacher’s own principles to Jewish privilege. So in 2:1–3 Paul claims that this Teacher also deserves God’s judgment since his actions violate his own teaching.  (Rom 1:1-17/Paul, Rom 1:18-32 /Teacher, Rom 2:1-3:1/Paul, Rom 3:2/Teacher, Rom 3:3/Paul, Rom 3:4/Teacher, Rom 3:5/Paul  etc.)

Why should people's right to decide how to live THEIR OWN LIVES in a present day society be in any way connected to the rants and raves of ancient madmen??? (in long lost languages repatedly translated, altered, "corrected" and forged for mundane reasons)

 

Can't "god" do anything?

 

Well, he can then simply talk people into doing "his" sacred will, can't he?

 

 

Gareth's picture

Thank you for your post.  This has been slightly edited in order to accord with our community guidelines.

Please do check out our guidelines ahead of posting.  Thank you :-)

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I thought you might like to see, Unicorn Booty wrote an article about this: https://unicornbooty.com/new-testament-homosexuality/

It is time for the evangelicals to grow up  Word and quit having pastors and other leaders feed them pablum.  If someone is going to understand and eat the mature meat of the Word, you look at the verses before, the versees after, and the societal context it was written in.  Also, you add a dash of salt simply because no matter how 'inspired' one believers a writer of the gospels and the letters are, they were written by men - human souls living in dirt and water mud suits and prone to mess up and misunderstand just like rest of us.  Once you have done all that, you let it nourish you soul and feed that fiame that lights the fire that shines through our eyes and actions expressing Christs' love, compassion, and no judgment. 

The meat of the Word was meant to nourish us, make us strong, make our lights so bright that opening our mouths was unnecessary. Most evangelicals have lost their way and become frightened little mice.  If you are strong in faith, strong in love, you do not need to fear science such as archeology.  As an AG mission head once told us when evolution was just starting to be really talked about, 'if science and evvolution prove out to be true, then all it means is that we got it wrong and we just need to take a bigger, more God-like view iinstead of man-size point of view.'  I have held that in my heart all these years and I believe it more now than ever.Bring on the studies and the learning.  It is time the evangelicals quit being fightened and suck it up, find their courage, and become open hearted students once again.

 

Appreciated the thoughts expressed in the article.  Much foot for thought.  As I read many of the comments, I had to chuckle.  There seems to be so much relevance given to Paul and so few people realize what Paul was about.  He was made an apostle and quickly turned all the early Christians against him to the point the church leaders, Peter, James, and John sent him on perpetual exile.  Keep in mind during those years there was not a Christian religion, there was another Jewish sect that called themselves Christians.  During Paul's exile he supposedly wrote many letters or epistles.  To date there is no proof whatsoever that the early church ever canonized Paul's writings, no proof that the early church leaders, Peter, James, and John ever read them, knew of them, or approved them.  In reality, 300 years later as part of the Council of Nicea these letters and other documents were presented and only at that point made 'scripture'.  For a person to take a hard stance on homosexuality really suggests that they are either believers in Moses or Paul and certainly not Christ.  In the writings of Christ (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John) there is not one mention condemning homosexuality and in fact there are a fair number of instances where there is support given (i.e. the Roman centurion and his male slave/lover.  The author of the article makes some very valid points that too many 'believers' have closed eyes and hearts preferring the confort of having interpretations given them by others not thinking for themselves.  

"In reality" the Council of Niceo had absolutely ZERO discussion about early Christian documents. The council was *all about* discussing the nature of Christ. Fact check it.

While I'm no Christian or Roman scholar, I have some serious questions about this interpretation. One nitpick - I can find no references showing Cybele as the mother of Attis. They appear to have originated in different areas and have a variety of myths about them. But more seriously - whenever a religious writer is trying to convince others of the superiority of his/her religion and its practitioners over others, they are often not above exaggeration or even lies. They sometimes literally demonize them and this has happened around the world (e.g in Hinduism). So I do not think the letters of Paul are good evidence, from a scholarly point of view, for just how "bad" things were. According to other of his writings, Paul clearly retains the misogyny and patriarchy particularly within marriage, and said that it was actually better to just be celibate, and marriage was only if you couldn't keep it in your pants, so to speak. So I am having a hard time accepting that the reality of the Roman cultural milieu completely upends the plain meaning of the text. As another commenter pointed out, there are other passages elsewhere which condemn same-sex sexual relations. While it can be argued from a scholarly standpoint that at least a couple of these might actually be forbidding fertility rites or temple prostitution, there is plenty of written record elsewhere showing that this is precisely what Paul meant or even if it isn't, it was very quickly interpreted this way, and the formal prohibition of same-sex sexual relations has gone on more or less uninterrupted in all of the Abrahamic religions. All it takes to realize this is to look at letters, laws, and fictional writing from then until now.

Didn't you answer your own question with the description, "ancient porn"?! In what re-interpretation would porn be considered "holy" and "of God"?  Pornography is not love, it's exploitation (precisely as you've described), and it certainly isn't pure. In context, wasn't Paul teaching *against* the sexual immorality commonly practiced, even as part of religious rites??  Why wouldn't God consider that an abomination of worship?  Scripture calls us to purity. We're to be set apart, so the Holy Spirit can use the beauty of the ways of Christ to draw others to the satisfaction only found in Him.  One last point: I have a very different understanding of "love" than the gauntlet you've thrown here.  The love of Christ does not judge or condemn others.  Neither does it condone acts that God calls sin.  We love the person but reject the sin (parents do this all the time).  If Christians, following Scripture, don't point out the line, wouldn't we all be justified in thinking there isn't one?  And so, who then needs Salvation??     

'Paul tirades about were NOT the partnerships between equals of the same gender that we know today as gay relationships.' Nothing, nix, zilch, nada, in the cited Pompeii context or elsewhere, enables this distinction. Paul, a Roman, was well placed too be able  to make the distinction, so he would have made it if he had wanted to.  He did not. Canon Chalke's suggestion that he does is too weak to cut ice. It is also difficult to account for how Canon Chalke manages to see such a distinction. Wishful thinking, I'd say.

As a gay man, I have recently been struggling with the thought that maybe when it says that Jesus "died for our sins and rose again for our justification", it does not include me, because I belong to a section of society which is beyond the pale, and maybe also the gospel stories are slanted in favour of keeping the flock controlled by mother church. I do not apologize for being blunt. I am at peace with myself and comfortable in my own skin. I am utterly convinced in the idea that unconditional love brought this world into being, but human beings messed things up with their selfishness. Nevertheless, it may be too convenient to believe in a hermetically sealed solution, which involves the crucifixion of one man (a common enough practice in the Roman world!) and the supposed eyewitness accounts of the man coming back from the dead. I think my problem may be that in my "former life" I "came to faith" by "accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour" (both expressions I now find difficult to understand) in an atmosphere which encouraged me to hide my true identity as a gay man, because I was afraid of being condemned to hell, simply for who I was, not for what I did. 

Steve's talk has helped in terms of enabling me to "see the wood for the trees". A committed same-sex relationship, in which I am happily living, cannot be against God's plan for my life. However, if it is, I want nothing to do with that kind of a God. I go to Quaker meetings, where I find total acceptance, and a mutual respect for one another's spiritual journey. I cannot believe that Jesus is not inclusive in his love. It is absolutely vital that we do not talk about saying the Bible is the Word of God, when it really depends on your own interpretation of what you read. Also it is essential to set everything in context, however "distasteful" that context may be(according to one's own norms and culture!). The facts behind ongoing archaeological discoveries have to be considered. Only then can you understand what the Bible is saying.  It may be that you have to completely alter your original set of beliefs, and that process can be extremely painful. Steve, you are absolutely right when you say that the Bible says nothing about committed same-sex relationships, except that there are descriptions of very close relationships between same-sex partners - David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, as examples. And what about Jesus and the disciple whom he loved! Then there is the centurion and his servant, whom Jesus healed without any prior conditions being made. There was surely a close bond between the Roman officer and his slave boy. I find it so hard to understand that we are so quick to judge others  - even when we call ourselves Christian - when Jesus tells us many times not to do so. In fact, we are told to love others in the same way we love ourselves. I am convinced that those who are quick to judge others either do not love themselves or even hate themselves, and they project this hatred on to others in their prejudices and preconceptions and phobias. 

I would say to anyone: Be true to yourself. Unless that places you in a dangerous situation. I recently attended a service at a baptist church, and felt insecure and a stranger. I used to be a member of a baptist church and felt alone. Now I understand why. I think the idea of seeing the divine in everyone as Quakers do is a very powerful way of viewing the world. It colours your relationships profoundly. Hating others or bearing grudges is a complete waste of time and energy. Trying to mend fences in relationships is of far more worth. Acting in a superior manner or seeming to do so only acerbates the situation. Validating everyone also improves it. 

Thank you so much for showing this video. I am sure it will help many people - especially those from the LGBT community who feel marginalized and excluded by the church. My final point is that we need to build bridges. In my opinion, that is the way to share God's unconditional love and to experience something of who God really is. I think talking of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be shorthand for our finite minds to attempt to understand the incomprehensible. 

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