If you have a problem with homosexuality because of the bible...

Everytime I confront people with this evidence I seem to get no response, but I am curious. People who believe homosexuality is wrong because of the bible, do you also believe slavery is ok, slaves can be struck, women who have had sex should be stoned to death, and women shouldn’t talk in church?

Exodus 21: vs 2-6 ‘If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him forever.’

Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ.’ (Ephesians 6:5)

‘Slaves, obey your human masters in everything; don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.’ (Colossians 3:22)

‘Slaves are to be submissive to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back .’ (Titus 2:9)

‘Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. ‘ (1 Peter 2:18)

‘When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished; for the slave is his money.’ (Exodus 21:20-21)

‘Women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but should be submissive, as the law also says.’ (1 Corinthians 14:34)

‘But if … evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones…’ (Deuteronomy 22:20,21)

Answer #1

Wow, I wish I had found this question sooner.

I will try to answer all these very interesting and thoughtful objections in one fell swoop, but I apologize that it may take a long post.

It seems that the real issue here is the legitimacy and unity of the Holy Scriptures in the plan of God, as well as the practice and understanding of truth itself (as toadaly recently pointed out.)

In this area, I think that we must begin by turning our attention to the writings and reasoning of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologicae. He begins with the assertion “verum est ens,” which is roughly translated: truth is being/existence; I.e. truth is “that which is.”

Thus, he asserted that God, (consistent with his revelation of his name in Exodus 3:14) is “he who is.” This understanding is also consistent with Christ’s statements about himself in the Gospel of John “The Father and I are one,” and “I am…the truth” (John 10:30; 14:6).

This reasoning is crucial for understanding the Christian way of thinking. All St. Thomas’s arguments and defense for his thinking can be found in the first part of the Summa http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1.htm. (BTW, GK Chesterton wrote a very interesting commentary on the life and philosophy of St. Thomas which I found very helpful and entertaining. It is called, “St. Thomas Aquinas: the Dumb Ox”.)

Next: St. Thomas asserts that there is (eternally speaking) only one law, that is the eternal law. He further asserts that there are certain parts of the eternal law which man has the capability to reason for himself. This section of eternal law he calls “natural law.”

He says that when a people make a law for itself pursuant to its understanding of the natural law, then that law is part of the eternal law, insofar as that law is actually drawn from the natural law. The laws that human beings make for themselves, therefore, is a subset natural law, which he calls “human law.”

At the same time, he contends that it is possible for human beings to make human laws, as a result of their fallen nature, that are contrary to the natural law. He then asserts that insofar as they are contrary to the natural law, they are not legitimate laws. These are what he deems “unjust laws.”

There are also certain parts of law that cannot be known unless the author of the eternal law had revealed them. These sections are called, “revealed law.” It is important to note here that “revelation” as such is distinct from modes of revelation. “Revelation” refers to God’s revealing of himself. Scripture as a whole is a mode of Revelation.

St. Thomas (as well as the Church in an official capacity) asserts that the scriptures were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they say exactly what God wanted said at that point in history to those particular people. Furthermore, there are elements of “revelation” (God revealing himself) contained in the Scriptures; however, that does not necessarily mean that every word in scripture embodies the fullest, most perfect, and most precise representation of who God is in himself.

Furthermore, all scripture must be read and understood as a totality. If one piece seems to contradict another piece, then there is something about one or the other of those pieces that bear’s further review. Likewise, the Scriptures were not meant to stand alone. They were meant to be understood in the light of the whole Tradition that Christ taught to the Apostles (see 2 Thes. 2:15; John: 21:24-25).

Therefore, it can be properly stated that all of revealed law (revelation as a whole) does not subsist in Scripture, but rather subsists in the totality of Sacred Scripture understood within the context of Sacred Tradition interpreted by the magisterium, by virtue of the guarantee that Christ gave that the his Church would subsist throughout the ages, that Peter and the Apostles would have the authority to bind and loose on heaven and earth, and that he (Christ himself) would be with her, even to the end of time (see Mt. 16:17-19; 18:18; 28:20).

Now this does not mean that revelation consists of Scripture + Tradition + whatever the magisterium thinks. Revelation as a whole employs faith and reason working together to draw from what we know of God as he revealed himself in Scripture (particularly the NT) as well as the living Tradition that includes those things that were not written down in Scripture, but were binding nevertheless (see 2 Thes. 2:15). The task of authentically interpreting this revelation falls to the magisterium for the reasons stated above. For further reading, see “Dei Verbum: The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation” http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html.

Now, how does all this relate to the discussion at hand?

First the question of homosexuality: both Old and New Testaments specifically condemn homosexual practice. (Lv. 18:22; Rom. 1:26-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). Furthermore, Tradition has continued the understanding that the practice is illicit. Based on the passage from Romans (they exchanged natural relations for unnatural), the Church has stated on numerous occasions that the practice of homosexuality violates the natural law.

(BTW, she didn’t make that claim about homosexual practice only. She has always forbid the use of any sort of contraceptive device, since the beginning. When questions arose about the pill in the 1960s, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae which states that any practice that separates the unitive (sexual) from the procreative act is illicit because it violates the natural law.)

As Pope John Paul 2 observed in the masterwork of his early pontificate, “Theology of the Body”, this teaching is consistent with Jesus teachings about sex and sexual practice revealed in the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 19:1-15; 5:27-28, 31-32). Jesus makes a specific reference to “the beginning,” so the Holy Father takes the beginning as his starting point, and begins the “Theology of the Body with an exegesis on the creation account of man and woman.

The understanding that one takes away from the teachings in “Theology of the Body” is as follows. The place for sex is within the context of the Sacrament of Marriage, in which the partners engage in the physical act of love in imitation of the love of the Holy Trinity. The act of love (agape in Greek; caritas in Latin) consists of the complete and total donation of one’s self, so that the partners do not belong to themselves, but are the property of the other (1 Cor. 7:4). (For further reading on the authentic meaning of love, see Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”). Thus the partners self-sacrificially give themselves in imitation of Christ giving in perfect freedom for the life of his bride, the Church, and in perfect obedience to his head, the Father. And just as the love the Father pours out to the Son and the Son reciprocates to the Father is another person (“the Holy Spirit… who proceeds from the Father and the Son”), so also the love that the husband pours out to his wife and the wife to her husband becomes a third person. Thus the conjugal act is truly a participation in the life of the Trinity, and man and woman become co-creators with God.

From this perspective, it should be clear why the Church does not accept the practice of homosexuality. It is not compatible with the Sacrament of Matrimony as a full and perfect participation in the life of the Trinity. This is also why she does not accept the practice of masturbation, nor the use of artificial means of birth-control, nor the practice of invitro-fertilization.

This is the Church’s official teaching on homosexuality, which I think is worth quoting at length:

“…Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of great depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine and affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved

“The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination… constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter in their condition.

“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and the sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church” paragraphs 2357-2359).

As far as slavery is concerned, both the Old and New Testaments make provisions for the owning and sale of slaves. There are certain places, even in the New Testament, where specific instructions are given to slaves that require obedience and respect etc. But it is equally, if not more important to look at the instructions given to masters, particularly in the letters to the Ephesians and to Philemon.

Furthermore, in reading the New Testament and the Gospel message it is not inconceivable to see why the Church, in a rather official capacity condemned the practice of slavery (among many other things) at the Second Vatican Council. She declared:

“Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as and type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, of willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on the body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and other like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practice them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the creator” (Gaudium et Spes S 27).

While the Bible does make provisions for slavery in both Testaments, it does not altogether reject the possibility of its condemnation. In fact, in light of the Gospel message, this condemnation makes sense.

This does not mean however, that people, on their own, subjectively and arbitrarily decide what is right and wrong, rejecting those parts of Scripture that they do not like or do not agree with (as some people have done in the case of homosexual behavior). The Scriptures have to be read and understood as a totality in themselves, as well as within the totality of Divine Revelation as a whole. Their authentic interpretation demands the use of both faith and reason, as well as understanding of the times and traditions within which they were written. One must also draw from an authentic understanding of natural law, and draw from the whole of the human experience with particular attention to the living Tradition of the Church.

Answer #2

It is true that there is no specific mention of storing up treasures in heaven in the letter of Philemon. That is why I cited it from the Gospel of Matthew. It is part of the over-arching Gospel message, and fits in perfectly with what the text of the letter does say. As I said before, the Scriptures have to be read as a totality.

I could just as easily have said that this would be a continuation of the same Gospel of Christ which caused Paul to urge them to humble themselves and put others first just as Christ put others first (Phillipians 2) or to love one another with the perfect love of God (1 Corinthians 13). While it is true that those specific quotes are not in the letter of Philemon, their underlying purpose is there: Paul wants Philemon to live in accordance with the Gospel message of loving one’s neighbor as one’s self. It just so happens that the wording he used to indicate this intention is:

“I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that the good you do might nat be forced but voluntary. Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more to you, as a man and in the Lord.”

There is no possible way that that passage I just quoted is not a moral exhortation. As I noted before, St. Paul does employ the same type of reminders that a loving Father might use when dealing with an intelligent child (and Paul even refers to himself as a father). There is a certain level of Fatherly rebuke in this letter.

In regard to your comments about Pauls writing style, or style of exhortation: It is true that most of his letters do have a certain “in your face” style about them. The letters to the Romans, Corinthians and Galatians particularly have some phrases that some might call “brash” (YOU STUPID GALATIANS!).

That said, you must recall that those letters were written to entire communities. They were meant to “lay down the law” about that which is objectively good and objectively evil, and not refer to a specific private case (1st and 2nd Corinthians to the contrary notwithstanding; that was a case of public scandal). The letter to Philemon is of a different teaching style because it is a personal communication rather than an official Apostolic letter.

Of course, the letters to Timothy and Titus were also personal letters, and they are also unequivocal in the style of their moral exhortation. However, it must be noted that the Letter to Philemon is distinct from them, because Titus and Timothy were both teachers, and Paul was trying to show them exactly what was right and what was wrong, so that they would be infomed enough to preach accordingly.

The letter to Philemon must be put in a class by itself, because it is a letter to a specific individual regarding a specific matter. Paul has the authority to preach and instruct, and he even says, “I full right in Christ to order you to do what is proper.” He makes a point to remind Philemon about his authority, and he takes it for granted that Philemon knows what it proper. If this were a letter to a whole community or to a teacher, I agree that Paul would have really laid into them, but because this a letter to a single lay-person, he changes his style, speaking with gentleness and reverance.

FInally, “the good that you do” does not refer to services that Onesimus will provide to Paul. Although Paul does say that he would have liked Onesimus to stay with him, he is sending him back so “that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more to you, as a man and in the Lord.”

This approach takes into account the text of the letter (the full text of the letter, not just parts) and reads the sciptures as a totality, both within themsleves, and within the context of Tradition as interpreted by the magisterium. It may be apologetic, but that doesn’t make it horse hockey. If anything, it makes its claim stronger, because I know that I’m not the first one to think of it (and they have a guarantee from the Holy Spirit not to err.).

Answer #3

Okay, to put in context, as we should also keep in the correct context for women not speaking in churches… lol that would so not work in our era…

When Jesus or the apostles speak of things they are speaking to the people of their own time. Certainly we should take to heart the lessons that can be learned on our own time as well. Basically it means do your work steadfastly as for the Lord. If we say that we still have to have slaves today in order for those verses to mean anything to us it is just being hypocritical. I feel that a lot of issues people have with the bible is when Christians, who generally know the background, or context, take a verse out of context to use in an argument.

As for same sex marriage, well I think all of us are given a choice as to what to do with our own lives. We can try liviong up to standards, but it is always hard. I personally think it’s ewie, but that is my personal opinion. I also personally feel it is a sin to act upon it, but I’m not going to go off spouting that it should not be legal, because then I would have a huge problem after that, I’d have to go after drinking, tobacco, strippers, caffine, etc. I’m not willing to take the choice away from others. There are ony a few issues I feel strongly enough about to make it into a crusade. The word of God, in contect, Abortion, and Abuse(in any form)

There, I’ve said my peice, probably with a fair share of spelling errors, because I’m in a bit of a rush, but there you have it.

Answer #4

* “As a matter of fact, he did tell them to repent and sin no more.”

…except that he did not mention or imply in any way, that there was anything wrong with slavery, but instead did exactly the opposite of that. Jesus is as guilty of using master/slave language as anyone else, which is an implicit affirmation that slavery is not sinful.

Hey if you want to worship a guy who promoted the idea of slavery, that’s up to you. But at least be honest with yourself.

Answer #5

toadaly, Christians and Christianity are two different things. Christians practice Christianity and recognize that they are not perfect in this present time. So, shifting from what Christianity is to what Christians say it is is just some sleight of hand.

Directly on the topic that you chose to illustrate, the Bible is clear that the practice of homosexuality is wrong– all the way from Levitical law put into place for a Jewish State to Paul’s condemnation in Romans 1. Slavery in the Jewish state was permitted to repay debts in much the way that you are a slave to your credit card company– forced to work to repay money that isn’t yours (unless you’re out of debt, for which I say “good job!”)– and every seven years all slaves were to be freed from their debt (unless they wanted to stay under the master).

So, in an agrarian society like ancient Israel this was much more like going to work for a given employer for up to 7 years before going back to the family farm rather than importing people of color from a far away place to be put into servitude for the rest of their lives.

If you will recall your American History, many Christians also believed that slavery was wrong, and helped create the Underground Railroad and other means to get them out.

And in keeping with the topic, Paul’s conversation about slavery never mentions keeping slaves or getting slaves, but how to behave yourself if you found that you were one. In the one case where Paul interacts with a slave (Philemon/Onesimus) he encourages the master not to kill the slave that left, and to free his as a brother in Christ.

Hardly any cognitive dissonance at all.

ty, all people are prone to point the finger at the problem they don’t have. I’m convinced that we watch reality shows sometimes because we want to think that we’re better than the poor slob eating the bug or whatever. Since it’s easy for us to claim superiority by comparison, Christians (being as human and flawed as the next) tend to choose those sins which they do not struggle with to declare holy war on.

So, you have more people up in arms about homosexuality (a sin) than you have about gossip (a sin). You have more people against abortion (a sin) than you do about gluttony (a sin). It’s imbalanced because we’re flawed.

Again, at the root of this is comparison. Instead of looking at one another, the Christian should be looking at Christ, seeing how the fall short, and calling all sin sin. Meaning, not having pet sins.

silverwings, Lot is the typical example of a man of faith being influenced by his surroundings. I’ve thought this man quite corrupt– to be willing to give his virgin daughters to the crowd of homosexuals in the street. It was only a “good thing” compared to the morals of the city. However, I’m not sure we can blame the incest 100% on Lot. His daughters got him drunk, and so are part partakers in the incest.

Like I think you implied, there is a historical record here showing what happened because of sin– not always something that we should emulate. The sons of the incestuous relationships with Lot end up being two peoples that torment Abraham’s children in years to come.

As for when to interpret what in what way, it does depend on the context- what is being said to whom under what. Just like any other law that we abide by in our Constitution.

Answer #6

You say that my argument is a “hand waving hollistic argument that amounts to nothing at all.” If my logic is faulty, point out its faults. I have not waved my hands once, and I am not convinced that a holistic approach is invalid. As the coucils teach, Scripture must be read as a totality both between the Testaments and within the context of Sacred Tradition, as interpreted throught the magesterium.

I assert that Jesus instructed his followers that in order to be the greatest, they must take the place of the slave. I contend that rather than merely preach one thing and do another, he practiced what he preached, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, and gave himself over to a slave’s torture and death. He encourages each and every one of his followers to take up their cross and follow him.

The Gospel message is radical. It seems counterintuitive (particularly Matthew 5:38-48). It flies in the face of the commonly held belief “Might makes right.” Jesus claims that might does not make right, but rather, what’s right is right no matter what mighty person says otherwise.

In commenting on the passage of “turn the other cheek” Mohandas Ghandi is reported to have said this: I think that it was meant to say that you should be stong, and show him that you will not back down, nor will you strike back. There’s is something about being willing to take a blow from another man and not responding in anger that makes his anger with you decrease and his respect for you increase.

In taking the position of the slave, and encouraging his followers to do the same, Jesus made a profound statment: that all people are equal in dignity. In willingly embracing the indignity of his oppressors, Christ demonstrated the inhumanity of their practices. He demonstrated that slavery was wrong by becoming a slave.

It is true that he never added slaveholders to the list of those who would not enter the kingdom of heaven, but he did say that you follow the commandments: ALL the commandments. He even listed them: do not kill… LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF (Matthew 19:17-19). It would have been as clear to those in ancient times, as well as now, that holding someone as a slave against his will would be contrary to the commandment to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

In reference to the letter of Phileom: I don’t see how you arrived at the concusions that you did about your interpretation. The following is the “meat” of the letter as it is translated in my bible. Maybe you can show me exactly which portions led you to draw the concusion that you did.

“Although I have full right in Christ to order you to do what is proper, I rather urge you out of love, being as I am, Paul, an old man, and now a prisoner for Christ Jesus. I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose Father I have become in my imprisonment, who was once useless to you but is now useful to you and me. I am sending him, that is, my own heart back to you. I should have liked to retain him for myself, so that he might serve me on your behalf in my imprisonment for the Gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that the good you do might nat be forced but voluntary.

“Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more to you, as a man and in the Lord. So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me. And if he has done you any injustice or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this in my own hand: I will pay. May I not tell you that you owe me your very self. Yes, brother, may I profit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.” (Letter of Paul to Philemon verses 7-20)

Answer #7

I must have missed something when you “pointed out references that prove the hollistic approach doesn’t work.” If you could copy and paste them from your arguments above I would appreciate it.

In speaking of the letter of Philemon, you left out the important part of the first phrase. The end of the sentence at the end reads, “I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that the good you do might nat be forced but voluntary.”

Paul is trying to get Philemon to follow the law of Christ (which must have been implicit, otherwise he would have had to state explicitly “what is right”). Just like God the Father, he gives us the free choice to do the right thing or not. He has to leave open the possibility to say “no” to him, otherwise our “yes” would be meaningless.

Based on this understanding, the good that Philemon may do would be meritorious. He would store up for himself “treasure’s in heaven” (Mt. 6:19-21). Therefore, Onesimus is useful to Philemon, because his case allows Philemon the opportunity to be virtuous. Therefore it is a moral argument from cost/benefit perspective. Paul is acting like a father giving a child the chance to do the right thing, without being told, because its the right thing, and helping the child recognize that it will be better for everyone in the long-run. Continuing along that same analogy, the letter also contains the veiled threats and understandings that a father has with his children:

‘Although I have full right in Christ to order you to do what is proper, I rather urge you out of love… So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me… May I not tell you that you owe me your very self. Yes, brother, may I profit from you in the Lord.”

I contend that the letter to Philemon is first and foremost a moral argument. I see no way that it can be interpreted as anything else when it is read in context.

Answer #8

minthegap, thank you for your post. It’s very lucid and given my past experience with religious people on this board, it’s very refreshing to discuss these issues with someone like yourself.

Anyway, on the issue of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you read Ezekiel 16:49-50, the author specifies that it was social injustice which caused those cities to be destroyed: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

In addition, Lot offers his daughters to an angry mob to be gang raped, and then he sleeps with them later. Also, his wife is turned into a pillar of salt simply for looking behind at the destruction of the cities. I have a hard time seeing how Lot is righteous in this story, or how the moral of the story is “God doesn’t like homosexuality”.

A couple thoughts on homosexuality in the Bible: never once do we find Jesus condemn it. That’s interesting to me, because he spends a lot of time condemning the most chaste and righteous people of his day, the Pharisee sect. They follow the law of Moses to the letter, and yet they infuriate Jesus because all they do is judge and criticize other people.

Second, the only obvious mention of homosexuality anywhere in the New Testament is in Romans 1, as you mention. In all other writings thought to be about homosexuality, Paul uses ambiguous terms that don’t actually mean homosexual. But in Romans , the point of his writing is NOT to criticize those who engage in homosexual behavior. He is writing to admonish those who are supposedly law-abiding (the Pharisee types). He’s basically saying, ‘if you judge other people for sinful behavior, you’re basically judging yourself because you’re also guilty of sin’.

So I think he’s bringing up the homosexual behavior of other people so he can get the reader thinking about the types of people he or she would judge, and then say, ‘you shouldn’t judge them’.

Taking a look at it all, it seems to me that God is less concerned with homosexuality than he is with judging other people or refusing to help them. Which leaves me wondering, why do modern Christians seem to have their priorities so mixed up?

Answer #9

You’re not going to get a justification because the reality is that slavery was an accepted practice throughout most of human history, including all of the cultures in which Biblical authors lived. Slavery in the southern US, of course, was based exclusively on race, and the slave class was made up of people who were taken into captivity, removed from their homes, and sold in a market against their will. Ancient slavery sometimes took that form, but not always. In Paul’s day, people who were in debt or living in squalor would sometimes sell themselves into slavery to improve their situation. This type of “servitude” described in the Pauline epistles is no different than hiring help around the house, like farm hands and maids. Of course, you also have cases where slaves were taken as spoils of war, like when the Hebrews invaded and conquered Canaan (that is, if they didn’t anihilate the inhabitants first).

Anyway, for me it’s not a problem to read about slavery in the Bible because I’m agnostic, but for Christians who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, they have no choice but to accept that God apparently doesn’t have problems with war and slavery, if they’re done the proper way.

As for the issue of homosexuality, I frequently point out to Christians that in the story Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for a variety of reasons, but sexual “immorality” wasn’t the main one, it was because the people of those cities were living in luxury and deliberately allowing their poor to starve to death by refusing to sell them food or give them money.

Answer #10

ty, it’s not fair to use the “did Jesus mention it” test to try to argue from absence. Jesus did not say “obey the speed limit” or other specific things that were not a prevalent problem at the time. He did talk about fornication and lust, and fornication includes having sex with one that you are not married to. Granted, he specifically said that if a man looks at a woman to lust after her then he has committed sin in his heart, but I would surmise that you could replace woman with man and still have sin.

Since Jesus recognized the two shall become one (Matt 19:6) and did not recognize another form of union, then we can easily extrapolate that any sex outside of this marriage covenant is sin.

As to Romans, the graphic detail he goes into describing not only the unnatural lust that a man has for another or a woman for another as well as the punishment they would get in their body goes beyond simple illustration.

It definitely has two lines of progressive thought there, but we cannot ignore the sexual sin and the punishment thereof. Otherwise, why mention it at all? Surely there are other things Paul could talk about.

As far as Christians and priorities, I believe it’s a human thing rather than a specifically Christian thing. I think that every person ever born considers what someone else does wrong and misses what they do wrong. Their pride wants to puff them up and look down on others.

Look at New York’s ex-Governor. He both prosecuted and participated in prostitution. It was ok for him, but not for someone else in his mind.

It’s easy for Christians to get upset at homosexuality and abortion because they’re typically not the ones doing this kind of sin. However, many a person has left the church because the pastor dare tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do with their money, how they may be gluttonous or gossiping.

In God’s eyes, sin is sin, but we’ve come up with levels of sin, and we tend to apply them, like humans, on things that we personally do not do.

That’s why Jesus’ message is so radical. He basically said “I’m taken care of all of your sin– now live for me.” So it’s not something I have to earn, I shouldn’t be doing any comparing, and though I can state what He believes is right and wrong it’s ultimately for Him to judge.

Answer #11

It is incorrect to say that he didn’t imply in any way that there was anything wrong with slavery.

If you examine the Gospel message, with all its statments and implications, it is not hard to see the implications that the institution of slavery, as it was practiced, has significant moral problems. If the people who heard his message put into practice the things that he taught, slavery as they knew it would have ceased to exist. That same logic applies to the letters from St. Paul. If everyone in Ephesus would have listened to the advice he gave to masters, slavery, as the Romans understood it, would not exist in Ephesus. If Philemon treated Onesimus as St. Paul told him to, he would not have been a slave any longer. That implication would have been clear to any person who actually thought about what Christ and his followers were preaching. You have said that he did exactly the opposite of that, but I don’t see a basis for that claim.

You say that Jesus uses the master/slave language as much as anyone, and that that usage is implicit affirmation of the fact that slavery is licit. I agree that he used the language, but I do not think that it is as affirmation that the practice is not sinful. Allow me to explain.

When he used the language of the slave and master, he was exalting the postion of slave, saying that the person who occupies the lowest position is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He asserted to his followers that slaves were equal in dignity to their masters. Nowhere is this assertion more evident than in the last supper discourses: John chapters 13-16. He begins by washing the Apostles’ feet (the task of a slave) and then tells them that he is the master doing the work of a slave, and they are to do the same. He calls all his followers, “not to be served, but to serve.”

He calls the faithful to freely give themselves over for the sake of others. He wants us to follow his example. As St. Paul reminds us, even though he was God, he took on human flesh, and took the place of slave, suffering a torturous death on the cross, and he asks us to freely choose to do the same (see Phil. 2:3-9; Mt 16:24-25). If anything, it turns the entire system of slavery on its head. One could deduce, then, that anything contrary to the Gospel message, including slavery as the Romans practiced it, would be inherently sinful.

I do indeed worship Jesus of Nazareth as the Lord, and I am entirely honest with myself when I assert that he did not then, nor does now promote the legal institution of slavery. (However, I am also equally honest with both myself and you in saying that he wishes each and every one of us to participate in his Kingly mission, by emptying oursleves, and embracing our own slaveship as he embraced his, so that by sharing in his passion, we might also share in his resurrection and encourage others to do the same.)

Answer #12

The first thing that you need to understand is the context of when things were said– who they were said to, the time that they were said, etc.

So, let’s start with slavery and work our way from there… Like was previously mentioned, slavery is/was different then and now. Slavery could be equivalent to working for an employer now. The big difference between slavery that we’re accustomed to and the Mosiac Code is that slaves had to be released every 7 years unless they chose to stay. Big difference– one that recognized that even slaves were people.

And keep in mind that as early as the 1600s people sold themselves into slavery to get to America…

Now, as for Paul’s statements in the New Testament about slavery and the Old Testament slavery, keep in mind the audience. The Old Testament law was given specifically to the Jewish people. The New Testament was for all peoples. Paul said that if you find yourself as a slave, then do the best you can as unto the Lord.

In fact, the book of Philemon addresses a slave and slave owner, where Paul actually encourages the owner to release the slave as a brother in Christ.

Next, women be silent in church… I don’t have a problem with this. In fact, I think that unless they’re singing and praying it’s disruptive for men or women to be speaking out in church. :)

God did take sexual immorality a lot more serious in the Bible times than we do today. As early as a century or so ago there were much more admiration in this country for chastity. Do I advocate stoning? No, but I do believe that this is very serious– much more serious than we want to think.

Lastly, although Sodom and Gomorrah were chastened primarily for their sin of pride, etc., it was evidenced in their sexual sin.

Take a look at Romans 1– take a look at the progression of both the spiritual sin and sexual sin goes together. Then look a little further at Paul’s writings at who– or more importantly what– will and will not be in heaven. Fornication, Homosexuality, etc. will not be there.

Answer #13

I believe the entire statement that you were trying to quote reads:

“If you examine the Gospel message, with all its statments and implications, it is not hard to see the implications that the institution of slavery, as it was practiced, has significant moral problems.”

I made that statement in direct response to your assertion:

“…except that he did not mention or imply in any way, that there was anything wrong with slavery, but instead did exactly the opposite of that.”

I state quite clearly that his teachings do in fact imply that there were then (and would be now) significant problems with the practices of the institution of slavery. This statement does not contradict any portion of the Gospels (expressed or implied), nor does it reflect my own mere interpretation of the Scriptures. I must assert, (as Christ did) that “my teaching is not my own, but belongs to the one who sent me.”

I did not come up with anything that I have said on my own. It has all come from prayerful contemplation of the Scriptures (as a totality), and study of the Tradition and practice of the Church (the body of Christ) throughout the ages.

You claim that his use of master/slave language proves his awareness of slavery. I completely agree. It is one of the oldest and most resilient forms of social stratification. He absolutely knew about it, and would have been a fool if he didn’t know that it was there. You note that he used language that acknowledges the institution, but you fail to recognize what he said about it.

I say again, he exalted the posistion of the slave, and embraced it himself, even allowing himself to suffer a slave’s torment and execution. At the same time, he condemns actions that would have been common-place on the part of masters, so much so that, if the masters would faithfully follow his teachings, the term “slavery” as such would be a misnomer. I suggest that the mere use of the language does not imply an implicit affirmation of the institution, but rather, one must look at the content of the language used.

Can you provide me with any statement of Jesus of Nazareth, from the canonical Gospels, taken in context, that affirms the existence of the institution of slavery as it existed?

You are absolutely right in noting St. Paul’s self-reference as a slave of Christ Jesus, (and St. James does the same). I submit that that use of the language is, in fact, a piece of the denounciation of the institution as it existed. In keeping with the radically counterintuitive implications of the Gospel, Sts. Paul and James FREELY embraced the lowest place in the social order, refusing to live for their own sake, and living for Christ. (Whoever wishes to call himself my disciple, must deny himself, take up his cross and follow after me.)

I assert that the New Testament was fully aware of the institution of slavery and was, in fact, opposed to it as it existed. If you think that I am unreasonable, I would appreciate it if you would please provide specific examples from the New Testament writings and/or from my own writings that demonstrates my lack of reason.

Answer #14

Your analysis is apologetic horse hockey, reading into the text what isn’t there to support the case you want to make.

There is no mention of storing up treasures in heaven, you’re inserting that. Nor is the idea of failing to tell someone they are acting in a sinful manner, so that they can decide freely, consistent with Paul’s character.

Paul has no problem ordering people to behave morally in explicit terms, rather than in the form of a request they are free to ignore. What IS consistent with Paul’s character, is to leave up to others acts of charity rather than forcing it, so as not to be a burden on them. That’s what he’s doing in this letter. He’s asking Philemon to be charitable, rather than rebuking him for being a slaveholder which he certainly would have done if he considered slavery immoral.

The ‘good you do’ that Paul is referring to is the service Onesimus will provide to Paul, which is why Paul starts that sentence off with “I should have liked to retain him for myself, so that he might serve me on your behalf in my imprisonment for the Gospel”

When read in context, without interjecting what you wish it said, there is no moral argument being made at all.

Answer #15

* “I state quite clearly that his teachings do in fact imply that there were then (and would be now) significant problems with the practices of the institution of slavery.”

Yes, you do state it, but your argument is a hand waving hollistic argument that amounts to nothing at all, combined with a rather bizzare conclusion that since Jesus, Paul, and James referred to themselves as slaves, that this somehow is a condemnation of slavery.

You won’t find “Hi I’m Jesus, and I approve of slavery” in the New Testament, but what you will find is rampant usage of master/slave language by the major characters, without even the slightest hint that there’s anything wrong with it. You will also find lists such as “neither liars, nor theives, nor fornicators, nor…shall enter the kingdom of heaven”, and “slaveholder” is never in any of those lists.

Even when Paul pleads for Onesimus, his plea is based on the argument that Onesimus serves his master Philemon more as an apostle to Paul then he does as a slave to Philemon, and Paul leaves the final decision up to Philemon. Paul has conclusively admitted that Philemon has a right to keep Onesimus as his slave. Paul argues from a cost/benefit perspective on this rather than from a moral perspective.

Answer #16

Ah finally some christians, ok where exactly did Jesus change all that? Corinthians, Peter etc are in the NEW testament as far as I know…

And I’m looking at it way out of what it really is? Please tell me what it really is then, I just quoted directly out of the bible, I didnt even put it in my own words…

Answer #17

Yes but people use it as a legitimate excuse to oppress others. I don’t particularly care because they don’t bother me any more but I dont want to watch a 13 year old being told that because she has a girlfriend she’s going to hell…

BTW I find it hilarious no one has defended their postion on this. Usually religious questions get bombarded with answers

Answer #18

I appreciate the sincere and thoughtful answers given so far.

My question now is: if we have to judge the Bible’s teachings based on the times, how do we know which ones are still valid and which are outdated?

Answer #19

A very good question, eleni– perhaps a different question topic that we can answer so that this thread stays on topic? Otherwise I could take a stab at an answer here.

Answer #20

Jesus could have simply told them that slavery was wicked and to repent and sin no more. Sorry, but Jesus’ morals are brutish and nonsensical.

Answer #21

I mean to say that JUDGEMENT is when that should be considered, not by Christians. We are not pharisees to judge others. We are here to spread the word. I have the same issue with judgemental Christians

Answer #22

I also wonder the same.

Plus, doesn’t the bible say something about not wearing cotton or eating animals on certain days of the week? I can’t remember exactly, but it was something similar.

Answer #23


Thank you for answering the question. Based on your answer, am I correct in assuming that you wouldn’t not vote for an amendment to ban gay marriage since it isn’t relevant in this life?

Answer #24


Answer #25

* “ If my logic is faulty, point out its faults.”

I already did. I pointed out references that prove the hollistic approach doesn’t work. If there were nothing in the NT that amounted to tacit approval of slavery, your approach might work, but since that isn’t the case, it doesn’t. Instead, the tacit approval is prolific.

In regard to Philemon, How is, “ I am sending him…back to you. …I did not want to do anything without your consent …” NOT leaving the decision up to Philemon?

How is “I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus… who was once useless to you but is now useful to you and me.” NOT a cost/benefit argument rather than a moral argument?

Answer #26

* “If you examine the Gospel message, with all its statments and implications, it is not hard to see the implications that the institution of slavery”

In other words, the Gospel message is what you wish it to be, rather than what it actually says.

If Jesus was anti-slavery, he would have just said so, like he did in regard to numerous other moral failings. This isn’t a case of a ‘new sin’ that simply didn’t exist at the time. Jesus proves his awareness of slavery by utilizing master/slave language, yet never once says there’s anything wrong with the concept. Instead, Paul even refers to himself as a slave of Christ! No reasonable person could possibly read the NT and conclude that it is opposed to the institution of slavery, or that it was unaware of it.

Answer #27

In response to the comment immediately above:

The instructions given to the Ephesians and Philemon were in perfect keeping with the Gospel message. Paul instructs the Ephesians that own slaves to treat them as equals (“act in the same way towards them…” Eph. 6:6-9). Likewise Paul encourages Philemon to free the slave Onesimus.

So, the institution that you end up with if masters follow the New Testament instructions is not slavery at all, but rather people treating each other as brothers in Chirst. This view is in perfect harmony with the passage from “Gaudium et Spes” quoted above, which condemns the institution of slavery as traditionally understood.

Answer #28

As a matter of fact, he did tell them to repent and sin no more.

Throughout the course of his teachings, as presented in the Gospels, he affirms and exalts the dignity of all people, particulary slaves. In fact, he is reported to have said that the servant is the greatest of all. This is hardly seems “brutish and nonsensical” to me (;counterintuitve maybe, but hardly brutish).

As far as denouncing slavery as wicked, eventually it was his followers who did exactly that. I can’t name atheist abolitionists in the anti-bellum era, although I can think of several who were avowed religious.

Answer #29

*“ There are certain places, even in the New Testament, where specific instructions are given to slaves that require obedience and respect etc. But it is equally, if not more important to look at the instructions given to masters, particularly in the letters to the Ephesians and to Philemon.”

Wow! Good thing the NT gives instructions to slave masters! For a minute there, I was starting to think that the very concept of slavery was repugnant and inherently evil. Thanks for clearing that up by pointing out that slavery can be a wonderful and godly institution, as long as masters follow the Biblical instructions on how to be a slave master.

Answer #30

…as is typical, the Bible thumpers simply avoid questions like this. They prefer to break it up into two cognitively dissonant conversations:

  1. “Oh, the Bible condemns homosexuality, so we have to pass an Amendment against gay marriage. See! Isn’t the Bible fantastic! We don’t have to think about right and wrong it’s spelled out for us in a book.”

  2. “Well, when the Bible talks about slavery, it was just referring to cultural norms. See! Isn’t the Bible fantastic! It’s morals adapt to the times!”

Answer #31


Christianity is whatever Christians say it is. It is not some objective reality out there somewhere enforcing itself.

If it were, there would not be thousands of Christian sects with differing beliefs and different definitions of what it means to be a Christian.

I also noticed that you picked out 1 story about slavery in the Bible, ignoring all the others.

Answer #32

Semi… In addition, Lot offers his daughters to an angry mob to be gang raped,

He recognized the vistors as angels, and had enough respect for spiritual things, that he was willing to sacrifice his daughters, to spare the angels. This was a great sacrifice that he was willing to make. 

and then he sleeps with them later.

The bible is given as an example of who did what to whom, and why, and what happened. This was not commendable, and if you follow thru the history, brought much trouble.
Answer #33


Since angel quoted quite a bit from the New Testament, she’s obviously read it. I have to question, however, whether you’ve read Jesus’s words.

Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Luk 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

That’s Jesus talking. Now proceed with your defense.

Answer #34

No I’m not looking for a fight. I just dont get it. People will defend their views on homosexuality by claiming God says it is wrong, and the completely ignore other things God apparently has said… I just want to understand how they compromise these two things in their head. Either everything in the bible is the word of God or it isn’t. You can’t pick and choose what you want…

Answer #35

are you looking for a fight. nothing is going to change a bigots mind short of an emotional experence. (ie. they have feeling for someone of the same gender or their son brings home a guy to thanksgiving) you are not going to be able to illicit that. why try? I don’t believe people have control of their physical attractions, however, some people can’t fathom that point of view until it hits home.

Answer #36

But that is my point completely, it all has to do with context. Ofcourse I realize this is all contexual, my point is why doesn’t anyone else? And if you realize it is contextual then why attack homosexuality but not people who have sex before marriage? Women talking in church? And why condemn slavery (and you think because they’re released every 7 years it doesn’t make it slavery? You think anyone would agree with you today?)

Answer #37

Thanks eleni (Also I second the appreciating of the answers), and also it was kind of my question all along, I was waiting for someone to say that the teachings are subjective to time and place. Because I believe they are, and if they are, why choose to attack one sin vs. another. Yes it makes sense that it’s a person to person thing, but why should they be able to use the bible as proof when the bible says so many other things they ignore…

Answer #38

but people can pick and choose. and they will. try not to let hypocrasy bother you.. it’s not going anywhere…

Answer #39

Its how you look at it. you are looking at it way out of what it really is

Answer #40

it’s wednesday… church night ;) all the good ones are busy

Answer #41

Jesus Changed all that, or haven’t you read the new testament?

More Like This


Sex education, Intimacy, Relationship advice

Ask an advisor one-on-one!


Sex Clinic, Ayurvedic Clinic, Medical Clinic



Health and Wellness, Pharmaceuticals, Erectile Dysfunction Treatment


युवा आयुर्वेदिक

आयुर्वेदिक चिकित्सा, सेक्स क्लिनिक, सेक्सोलॉजिस्ट डॉक्टर्स