March 14, 2007
by: jovial_cynic
After calling homosexual acts immoral, Marine Gen. Peter Pace stopped short of retraction, and said that his statement reflected a personal position, and not a policy position, and that he should have focused more on the policy and less on his personal views.

His statement:

"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace told the Tribune editorial board. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.

I was involved in a debate, recently, about the nature of absolute statements and values, and how when somebody says "Nissan cars are better than Toyota cars," what they're really saying is that they prefer the first over the second. Based on their particular values, Nissan cars meet their needs or goals, while Toyota cars do not. While their statement, literally, is an objective and universal claim, the implication is actually subjective.

However, when it comes to issues of morality, you rarely find a religious person willing to admit to their subjective views. For Pace and others like him, homosexuality is objectively wrong for everybody, and that the world would somehow be better if homosexual acts weren't committed.

Christians who hold this view base their view on their understanding of biblical principles. They're comfortable stating that "the Bible says so," and leave it at that. However, in the words of The Princess Bride's Indigo Montoya, "I do not think it means what you think it means."

The Audience

The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, have a particular audience in mind. For the OT, the audience was Israel, God's chosen people. To them was deliverance from Egypt, to them was given the Law, to them was given the Promised Land, and to them was given the Messiah. It's a story for them, about them. The NT's audience is the Jesus-following community, again chosen by God, this time to carry the message of the Messiah to the rest of the world, to bring into the flock those that have been called out by God for His purpose.

With that in mind, instructions on morality and proper behavior apply specifically to those that are believers. In the OT, the Law of God was meant for Israel to obey -- there was no instruction for Israel to impose that Law onto the surrounding nations. Likewise, there is no instruction for NT believers to impose a moral code into the non-believing community as they deliver the message of the Messiah. None.

Yes, homosexuality is addressed in the OT Law. And when the NT refers to "sexually immoral behavior," that statement is made against the established backdrop of the OT. However, as the text is meant for the believing community, it is only the believing community that has the expectation to obey. There is no indication in the text that believers should try to affect the the choices and behavior of the nonbelieving community. If folks don't believe, they don't believe, and the call to biblical obedience isn't meant for them.

Is homosexuality "immoral?" It is for believers, who are called to abstain from such acts. But regarding the non-believing community, the question doesn't even make sense. If a person, unmoved by the Holy Spirit, chooses to arbitrarily obey one law or another, what does it matter? It might make certain Christians more comfortable (since so many Christians seem unable to tolerate non-believers), but aside from that, it's meaningless.

And really... why are so many Christians interested in the sex lives of non-believers anyway?
np category: religion


The Conservative Manifesto said:
Where in the Bible does it say that morality is subjective and that God's law only applies to believers?
March 16, 2007

The Conservative Manifesto said:

"...why are so many Christians interested in the sex lives of non-believers anyway?"

Haha. I haven't heard that argument from the left since high school.

(well, not really, but come on, how juvenile.)

March 16, 2007

jovial_cynic said:
I think your first question was answered in the post itself. Even the 10 commandments identifies the intended audience in the first commandment. Furthermore, the Old Testament specifically speaks to non-Jews who convert later, stating that they must obey the law after converting. Obedience is required only after conversion.

Additionally, conviction of sin happens only by way of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit only dwells in believers. No one repents except for conviction by the Holy Spirit, so it stands to reason that repentence is not an act meant for non-believers. Repentence does not cause salvation, but rather is the act of one particularly called to repent.

March 16, 2007

jovial_cynic said:
(That second paragraph is meant with a NT context)
March 16, 2007

The Conservative Manifesto said:
By your logic, God's law only applies to those who believe.

God's law is absolute - regardless of what humans choose to believe.

Relativism is a disease and sadly I think you (and most on the left) have been infected.

March 17, 2007

jovial_cynic said:
You misunderstand.

First, this isn't an issue of "my logic." If we need to go verse by verse, we can do that, but I'm making an assumption that we're both familiar with the texts we're discussing.

Second, sure, "God's law is absolute." Define that. Is it still a biblical mandate to follow all of God's OT law? What is the purpose of that law? Your statement begs a lot of questions, and I think that such a statement is a cop out.

In any event, let's say that we agree on a definition of God's "absolute" law. Fine. But that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about.

I didn't say that the law only applies to those that believe. You're missing my point. Yes - a sin is a sin is a sin. But believers are held accountable for particular sinful acts and are confronted by the Holy Spirit for those particular acts; unbelievers, on the other hand, are already judged for their sinful nature (the text states that the wrath of God is already being poured out upon them), such that pointing out a specific sin (in this case, homosexuality) is irrelevant, because for them to stop a particular sin changes nothing about their sin nature.

February 25, 2008

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