Tuesday 18 August 2015

OT: a response to Parnell's "homosexuality is different from other sins"

Added later:
I wanted to mention that I found Parnell's article on Facebook.as a suggested post after I clicked on a friend's post, 9 sins the Church is okay with.  The 'sins' in that post were strange and not all that connected to the Bible as far as I could tell.  Anyway, I'm writing this introduction to specify that I haven't been hunting for Christian blogs or news to attack. It was suggested to me on Facebook.

---Original ---
Jonathan Parnell, at his blog, Desiring God, wrote about the difference between homosexuality and other sins of the Bible.  His blog does not have a comments section but he does have a Twitter handle.  I wanted to discuss his post and this blog is the closest in theme I have to use.

Jonathan Parnell, "Why homosexuality is not like other sins"

"the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
"At this moment in history, contrary to the other sins listed here, homosexuality is celebrated by our larger society with pioneering excitement. It’s seen as a good thing, as the new hallmark of progress."

"To be sure, the masses increasingly make no bones about sin in general. " -the end of this paragraph does mention, "in the church" but I feel Parnell needs to emphasize the hypocritical aspect of attacking homosexuality now.

In a long paragraph, Parnell names several other sins.  I have elided details to leave the names:
"But as far as I know, none of those sins is applauded so aggressively by whole groups of people who advocate for their normalcy. Sexual immorality .... Adultery .... Accusations of greed .... There’s no such thing as a drunk agenda yet. Most aren’t proud to choose a beverage over stability, and there aren’t any petitions that the government should abolish the driving restrictions of inebriated individuals. Reviling others .... Swindling, ...conniving scammers."
To paraphrase Parnell, "None of those sins is punished or attacked in church sermons as vigorously as homosexuality". Divorce and remarriage are common among Christians - this seems to be a form of immorality accepted by church-folk.  As for Greed and swindling, the wonderful John Oliver devoted 20 minutes to discussing the greed of a large number of church leaders.

But the bigger problem with Parnell's list is that he doesn't see anything different about homosexuality compared to the rest of the listed sins. Briefly, to a non-Christian in a secular society, homosexuality is victimless.

Homosexuality, or more properly, the opportunity for homosexuals to now get married, is a sign of love and desire for a stable long-lasting relationship.  Adultery is a sin that works to break up such relationships and usually happens in a moment of weakness.  Greed is a sin requiring more deliberation and outright evil.  It is the act of desiring more money than one has earned.  Drinking alcohol, and by extension, using other drugs, is of questionable morality but driving or attempting professional work while drunk causes a threat to all around that person.

I have heard some Jews describe some of the religious laws they follow as tests.  I think it was Van Halen that required bowl of brown M&Ms in their backstage room.  They didn't particularly care about the M&Ms; they cared that someone had read their contract and had followed their rules.  In the Bible, wearing clothes of mixed fabrics is forbidden, but as my Jewish friends explained, it was there as a test, a sign of their willingness to submit to God's authority.
Many Christians eat pork and bacon.  Many eat shrimp.  Many get tattoos. These are forbidden but they are different from sins of theft and violence.
And so is homosexuality.  This is why homosexuality is not like other sins.  It is victimless or the only victim might be the perpetrator.  A man who drinks alone and heavily but does not try to drive a vehicle or perform surgery is harming himself but no one else. This is different from murder.

 Homosexuals might or might not be harming themselves - you're welcome to the opinion that they are - but they are not harming others.  Their actions are different from murder.

As an aside, I note that Parnell's list of sins is quite lightweight. There are lots of things in the Bible described as sins.  Indeed, the translations of the Bible I read for this post do not use the word 'sin' in 1 Corinthians 6-9 (where his quote comes from). A quick search of Google suggests there are 125 sins described in the Bible. Parnell isn't interested in comparing homosexuality to murder or lying, which are Commandments.   The one he and I most agree on from his list is thievery as a sin. I would describe swindling as a form of thievery.

Greed, or in other Bible translations, 'covetousness' , can be damaging but is the heart of the Capitalist system of economics.

In Parnell's list, sexual immorality and homosexuality are both mentioned.  As a non-Christian, consensual sex between or among adults is seldom immoral of itself.  Adultery, which damages marriage and breaks vows one chose to make is usually immoral to some degree.

"As Christians, we believe with deepest sincerity that the embrace of homosexual practice, along with other sins, keeps people out of the kingdom of God. And if our society celebrates it, we can’t both be caring and not say anything. "
Then also speak up against greed and swindling, especially when done by clergyfolk.  Speak up against divorce and remarriage.  Speak up against the lies of creationists.  If Christians want the moral upper-hand, they need to speak up against sins that are crimes against others with at least as much vehemence as they do against homosexuals.

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