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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Jesus and same-sex union

Last Sunday the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev. James Jones, seemed to be exercising a semantic sleight of hand, when arguing on the BBC's Sunday programme, that it is right to ask for God's blessing on same sex relationships. He sought to validate the Church's blessing by saying that biblical relationships laid a doctrinal foundation, namely, Jesus' relationship to His Father (John 1:18), John the apostle's relationship to Jesus (John 13:25) , and David's affection toward his best friend Jonathan, son of King Saul (1 Samuel 18:1). In the first two cases, Jones stressed that the physical intimacy is described in Scripture as a relationship in "the bosom" (KJV), that is, 'close to the heart.'

Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. St. John 13:25`No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. St John 1:18

The relationship between John and Jesus, as well as David and Jonathan, says the Bishop, were "same-sex" relationships. However, by comparing them with Jesus' relationship to His Father, he introduces confusion. Rev. Jones ignores the fact that gender difference is peculiar to the need for human reproduction.; Fatherhood in God bears no relationship to gender as such, but is a necessary metaphor to describe God analogically. God is One who protects, provides, guides and cares for us, in the same way a father should do in the human family. Describing God as "Father" is not a sexual or gender statement at all. If angels neither marry nor are married in heaven (Matt. 22: 30), how much more true that is of God, who is totally Unique. Just as God cannot create a stone He cannot lift, so He cannot reproduce - the idea is a monstrous thought.

So far has the Bishop strayed from Scripture, that he has lost hold on the Head (Col. 2: 19). The muddled thinking consists in the use of the phrase, "same-sex relationships." A normal use of the phrase, when discussing homosexuality, includes showing the kind of physical affection which is "non-celibate" between males (or between females), where such affection includes an invasive (in my view) interference with "those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable,' and about which St Paul says: "upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness." (1 Cor. 12: 23-24). They were made by God for purposes of procreation, and the only basis on which a spouse (of the opposite sex) has a peculiar position in relationship to those parts of the body, is described by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7: 4

The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

Pauline teaching is statedly grounded in the Mosaic Law, for he authoritatively sets out relationships within the church on the assumption "the Law" has a teaching authority (1 Cor. 9:8; 14: 21, 34). But, the Mosaic Law condemns same-sex relationships:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 23Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. 24Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: . . . 25And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Lev. 18.

Also, St. Paul reasserts the norm of marriage, as being between one man and one woman, which Jesus Himself taught.

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.1 Cor 7: 1-2And he [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Mat 19: 4-6

The expression "touch" in 1 Cor. 7: 1 is euphemistic for taking advantage of a woman in a sexual way. There was no place in Paul's thinking for questioning the Law's condemnation of homosexual relationships. He says, for example:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6: 9-10

Here, the apostle uses two Greek words (as underlined), "malakos" and "arsenokoites." The first refers to the 'female' partner in the relationship, who has a more passive role, and thus takes on an effeminate, soft body language uncharacteristic of men; the second refers to the 'male' in the relationship, who takes more initiative, and who is thus is more obviously guilty of abusing his sexual appetite, through such misuse.

When the writer and historian Antonia Fraser in "The Life and Times of King James of Scotland" accused King James 1 of having a homosexual relationship, she added, 'presumably the relationship was consummated.' By this she meant to imply that same-sex union is characteristically expressed by conduct (abnormally) mirroring, as far as possible, conjugal union. The KJV uses the term "sodomy" for such behaviour. It is amazing to me that our UK Parliament has recently added its official blessing to such a corrupt relationship. The apostle Paul claims to speak to this issue with God's authority here, as elsewhere in the canon of Scripture. One example, among his many statements, is to this effect:

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 1 Cor 14: 37

Someone who makes no profession of being a believer in, and disciple of Jesus Christ will naturally consider Paul to have been self-deluded, in making claim to possessing prescriptive authority. But, for a Church bishop to implicitly deny that authority is morally indefensible. Confusion is the outcome - there's a day of reckoning ahead.