Sunday, May 29, 2011


Reading McLaren's blog is sometimes...informative, for lack of a better term.

It's always interesting to see emergents twist things about in the Bible that they just don't like. Here, for example, someone wrote some questions to McLaren about Romans 1 and what Paul wrote about homosexuality, and I think are pretty good questions. I was interested in reading McLaren's responses.

Well, at least in one sense, I wasn't disappointed.

Q & R: Paul, Romans 1, LBTQ

On Romans 1, if you go to any of the Christian sites that focus on lgbtq issues, you'll find a lot of resources on this. Here are three lines of interpretation that make sense to me. 1. Paul is talking about sexual orgies that characterized the Roman elite ... orgies where sex with anyone for any reason was considered OK. 2. Paul is talking about abusive sex as domination ... where one person dominates another of the same sex by requiring him/her to submit to sexual activity. 3. Paul is doing a one-two punch - in chapter 1 talking about Roman/Gentile debauchery to be followed in chapter 2 with self-righteous religious hypocrisy among his own religious tribe ... in which case, for us to use Romans 1 to shame/exclude homosexuals shows that we haven't gotten the point of chapter 2. (In other words, Paul's rhetorical purpose is not to make an eternal moral pronouncement about a whole category of behavior that is little understood now - and was even less understood then. Rather, his rhetorical purpose is to push us beyond making moral judgments about "them" and instead see our and their common need for God's grace, since we all are equally sinners.)

So, let's see...Paul was engaging in class warfare, comdemning the sexual practices of the high and mighty, and one may assume giving a pass to the sexual practices of the low and weak; Paul was talking about rape; or Paul was pulling a Nathan (remember the prophet whom God sent to deal with David concerning his adultery).

Now, shall we look at the part of Romans 1 in question here.

Romans 1 (New International Version)

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 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.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Ok, reading all that, can you see anything about class warfare or Paul condemning merely the actions of the "Roman elites"? Or anything about rape or forced sex? Or, for that matter, that we are not to make moral judgments about these kinds of actions and those who practice them?

Or, do you rather see how McLaren is merely trying to weasel his way out of a passage that clearly condemns what he says is ok? Perhaps you can see how he is saying that people should continue to do these very things, and he approves of those who practice them.

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