"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: For The Bible Tells Me So

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For The Bible Tells Me So

I just rented this extraordinary documentary and encourage you to do the same. Keep the Kleenex nearby.


  1. I have it on reserve at the library...I'll keep you posted. It sounds muy interesante.

  2. I'm surprised this thread is so quiet. Perhaps I should explain that this film features several Christian families as they react to their gay sons or daughters. The Minnesota Lutheran family will seem quite familiar to you, if not exactly Laestadian.

    Very poignant for me was Dick Gephardt (once a Republican presidential contender) saying that "we believe unconditional love is just that" in explaining his love for his lesbian daughter.

    (Idea for a Laestadian bumper sticker: "Love Your Neighbor. Conditionally!)

    One of the heartbreaking moments in the film shows a (former) strict Biblical literalist regretting her condemnation of her gay daughter, who hangs herself in her closet with her dog's collar.

    I think of our gay Laestadian friend Markus, and my desire that he is surrounded by loving family and friends. His path takes more courage than most of us are ever required to summon. Hate crimes against gays are still in the news, and no doubt most are never reported.

    (Personal note: years ago, a handsome, hetero 6'4" friend, on foot in Seattle, was shot in the neck by a BB-gun wielding idiot yelling "faggot!")

    Some of the more interesting bits in the film, for me, were the commentary on Leviticus and the insights into Paul's life.

    The Leviticus "abominations" (shellfish included) were lifestyle rules, not unlike those in Laestadianism, intended to preserve a population under threat of extinction or assimilation. Anything that would discourage fertility, including masturbation (or allergies to shrimp?) is vilified.

    Thank God the literalists don't take the "stone them to death" part literally.

    But then, the literalists never sell all they have and give it to the poor either.

    As for Paul, it is worth contemplating that this young, single man of Greece was surrounded by exploitative adult-child and owner-slave pairings of all varieties. Certainly he never saw a marriage of equals, as it didn't exist. Women and children were chattel. A girl was sold into marriage by her father, and was the physical property of her husband, to use and abuse.

    I don't think one can overestimate the radicalism of Jesus in saying there was no male or female, slave or free in the Kingdom of Heaven, which is "within you." This indicted the very foundation of hia society.

    And while most of us have no problem rejecting Biblical marriage (and there is no yearning, outside of Mormon splinter groups, for a return to child marriage or polygamy), a great number are nonetheless threatened by gay equality.

    Our culture has taken a long time to redefine marriage as a contract between two equals, both of whom have responsibility for each other and any offspring.

    We have an opportunity now to provide a respectful and egalitarian contract to homosexual unions.

    To Bishop Gene Robinson, for one.

    What could be more humane. Or Christian?

  3. I put it on my Netflix queue when I saw the post. Wont be able to watch it until the end of March though. No time right now. I just had the "nature VS nurture" discussion with my son yesterday. He is very homophobicly closed minded and prejudiced and feels it is choice while I feel it is a biological or genetic issue not to ones choosing. I have issues with premarital sex in general (hows that for sticking my neck out?)and that is the only light I view homosexuality with.

  4. Will it soon be acceptable to have unions between humans and animals? How about humans and robots? Where do you draw the line? Some may laugh at this suggestion, but it might happen. Do we accept everything? Any kind of lifestyle? No "rules". Whatever your into is OK with me attitude?

  5. Well, yes, there is good reason to laugh at your slippery slope suggestion.

    "Do we accept everything?" you ask. Apparently we do, laws or no laws.

    Exploitative sex is common in our world, from child sex slaves in the third world to the teenage streetwalkers in my own town.

    As a society, we can and should promote a nonexploitative ideal of sex between consenting adults in a loving and committed relationship.

    There are many ways to do that.

    But denying marriage to gays is completely counterproductive.

    We would be better off denying marriage to movie stars.

  6. Not everyone who opposes gay marriage is a religious fanatic or bigot. There are reasons against expanding the current legal definition of marriage that have nothing to do with the Bible. For example, one concern is expanding the definition of who qualifies as family or 'next of kin' when it comes to medical benefits, life insurance, pension benefits, etc. This increases costs for everyone, and this cost increase has been seen in countries that recognize gay marriage (sorry cant cite the source but I do recall reading about that). If a domestic partner is eligible for my pension or my employer's health plan, then why can't I also include my widowed mother, or my sister, a single mother, and her son who also live with us. My employer, in order to avoid showing "discrimination" after expanding benefits to "domestic partners" had to clarify that any live-in partner, same or opposite sex could be covered as well. My observation is that the programs are being taken advantage of, with everyone's "roommates" jumping on board. This is one of many reasons why our coverage premiums are sharply increasing along with the co-pays and out of pocket costs. This expansion of who we legally define as immediate family does benefit some, but increases costs for all. Not saying I am against "gay marriage", but this is a concern.
    There is a group in our area that works to stop child pornography. I heard one of their members discussing their planned course of action against gay marriage. Apparently they held that this had something to do with child pornography and that they needed to be activists toward 1man-1woman defined marriages. This just seemes so absurd to me. I have NO IDEA where one would conclude gay marriage has anything to do with child pornography. Perhaps a blogger could enlighten us - or perhaps such a discussion doesn't really belong here.
    But anyways, my personal opinion is that I don't care what people do behind closed doors, so long as it is between consenting adults and they are not acting promiscuously and spreading diseases. But like the other poster, I have moral conflict with any pre-marital sex, and that includes homosexual behavior, obviously. I beleive sexuality was intended by God to be between one man and one woman for the purpose of creating children, in the context of marriage, in the biological way, or otherwise through adoption. Marriage and raising children are uniquely intertwined, and should be. But I suppose that is my own Christian religion speaking, and perhaps should not be expanded to others. On the flip side I know gay families who have adopted children and they are awesome. I applaud them. Perhaps this model of a gay family I could work into my spiritual paradigm.
    But anyways, any leader, or pastor in a Christian faith should not be having pre-marital sexual relations. With same or opposite sex. That's just what Christians beleive. Nothing against gay pastors, they just shouldn't be acting on thos impulses, same goes for straight un-married pastors.
    That said, long-term partnerships, whatever the context, regardless of physical intimacy status, perhaps deserve some legal rights. Call it a civil union, domestic partnership - but I have a problem calling it "marriage."

  7. I don't see the connection between gay marriage and having to provide "domestic partner" insurance coverage for someone like a widowed mother or a sister. I fail to see how recognizing or legalizing gay marriages would promote the inclusion of people related in other ways being able to receive "partner" insurance benefits. I think they are two separate issues. Not legalizing gay marriage would not preclude the insurance piece of it anyway, because more and more insurance companies are already providing benefits for domestic partners.

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but I'm just not following anything other than the fact that you are against gay marriage. The rest of the logic seems incomplete.

  8. I see that what the Bible says is largely ignored if it is not loving, caring, and non-judgemental. The Bible has much about love, caring, and tolerance. It has many discussions of man, wife, marriage, and homosexuality. It also has very serious warnings and instructions related to those who want to ignore certain parts. It ain't all love, peace, and freedom. To me it's as basic as the fact that homosexuality cannot be "fruitful and multiply". It is not natures way. I'm not going to say I know why it happens or that it is a learned behavior or if it something you're born with. It certainly has made that lifestyle much easier to obtain with todays highly sexually oriented society and sexual tolerance. But I will say that it is wrong and it is a sin. That's my belief and opinion based on Scripture and I will not ignore it. NUFF SAID.

  9. If only it were that easy, we could all agree on everything.

    I agree that it Scripture is not "all love, peace and freedom." There are some ghastly things in it that should be kept from young children as well as the mentally unstable, who are at risk of taking them literally, and cutting off offending hands and the like.

    Since you say the Bible has "serious warnings and instructions related to those who want to ignore certain parts," how are you managing in that respect?

    Have you given all you have to the poor? Have you ever spilled your seed, or eaten shrimp, or worn mixed fibers?

    There can be moral, ethical sexuality between members of the same sex, just as there can be moral, ethical relationships between people of different races, religions and nations, whether or not the writers of scripture could envision them.

  10. I've been meaning to comment on this thread, but haven't had a chance until now.

    I've seen Phelps' hate group masquerading as a church (featured in the Youtube above) firsthand. I used to attend a church that they picketed, and I also attended the Episcopal Church's General Convention in 2003, where Gene Robinson's call to bishop was allowed to proceed unhindered.

    There was also a counter demonstration at the Convention, which was quite moving. As I approached the convention center I first encountered the counter demonstration, some lovely ladies handing out flowers to everyone as they passed by, telling us that Jesus loves us.

    This beautiful gesture provided a much needed innoculation against Phelps' picketers, which were positioned near the entrance of the building. As I passed by them, I was told that I was going to hell, and also called an "arrogant @$$hole" by one of the picketers even though I was merely entering the building and not provoking them in any way. I was surprised that a group that supposedly stands for godly values would feel free to use such profanity, but then if you do any research on their group and its theology you quickly realize that they hold anyone who disagrees with them in complete contempt and practically less than human.

  11. Well if you saw Elton John being interviewed by Larry King tonight. He recently "tied the knot" with his partner. He said what they have is not a marriage, its not even "like" a marriage, it is a civil union that allows the relationship to have legal status. The example he gave is that he has seen friends die and leave something to their domestic partner only to have the will challenged and overturned by immediate family because the partner had no legal rights. His comment was that any two people who want to make a long term committment to each other should be able to have that legally recognized as a civil union.
    - So I know I will be criticized for what I said earlier, but if Elton John agrees with me I can't be that far off.

  12. I don't think gay marriage is right. I think being gay is a sin, but I don't treat gay people any diferent than anyone else..and I'm not going to "look down" at their life stye. If thats what they want to do, then that is their decision. I don't agree with it, but thats not for me to judge.
    I agree that marriage is only between 1 man and 1 woman, and that men and women shouldn't be allowed to "marry" eachother. Call it something different, a union...but marriage is between man and woman! Even thought I don't agree with same sex marriage I think they should be able to have a "union" between the couple. The way everything is so "politically correct" now days I don't think we'd be able to get away with denying anyone equal rights. Personally, I think all this "politically correct" stuff is BS, where do you draw the line?

    ...hope that all made sense...

  13. Bunless,
    I wonder if you would eliminate a certain race in order to have cheaper benefits. (i.e. our healthcare costs would go down if no Asian partners got benefits).
    Just food for thought... regardless of a biblical opinion either way, people whose lives are committed to each other and share community property and sometimes children should have some type of legal protection either when they pass on or something happpens to one partner.
    It is not about legislating someone else's morality; it's about doing the right thing, unconditionally loving and letting God do the rest. Even when it's awkward and uncomfortable and involves a topic that makes you squirm.

  14. Anon 9:36, I agree with you, what makes you think I dont? Civil unions do open up some opportunities to abuse the systemS out there. I was just pointing out some non-Biblical cons. I dont even get the Asian comment. Does the same logic apply to smokers? I could care less about gay marriage or civil unions in mainstream society. Go for it. Its like religions that are vegetarian - most of them are not active trying to pass laws banning meat. I am not interested in applying EVERY aspect of my own faith on everyone else. However, I don't see how a Christian church would sanction a gay marriage within their walls. I just dont see where you get to any "ethical sexuality" outside of male-female marriage if you are looking at the same Bible. Unconditional love is a separate issue than sex outside of marriage, not sure why you had to bring that up either. But heck, we all know theres more than one way to interpret Biblical teachings.
    -Bunless, slammed again!

  15. Hey why am I getting all the bashing.. what about all those clearly homophobic anon posters! Cant't you all rant on them? -Bunless

  16. Bunless,
    I really wasn't trying to slam on you, honest.
    As someone who deals professionally with benefit programs and the issues that can come up if there is no protection in place when something happens to people, I simply wanted to point out the inconsistency in the argument that certain people should be denied benefits so it can make ours cheaper. It simply doesn't hold water that we should deny one group something so that it can be less expensive for the rest of us.
    Smoking is a decision one makes knowing that it raises their health risk. If someone, gay or straight, engages in risky sexual behavior that may affect underwriting for insurance. Is that what you were referring to? If so, we can't make a blanket statement to deny them coverage. If so, perhaps we should make underwriting smoother for lesbians since they are less at risk for certain diseases than gay men or heterosexuals.
    But really, not bashing. I've been there before and really didn't enjoy it. Have a nice day:)

  17. RWB says:

    Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

    How many interpretations can this be given?


  18. Hey RWB, glad youre still around!

  19. Leviticus 18 and 20 say a man who lies with a man as with a woman is an abomination and both shall be put to death. If you're going to cite that, you should read all of Leviticus. It also says if you talk back to your parents, you should be put to death. If you cuss, don't observe the Sabbath, or worship false gods, you should be put to death. Even people in the right wing like the Jerry Falwells and Jim Dobsons, they can be pretty vicious, but I don't know anybody who would call for an execution of homosexuals.

    Would you go to a doctor who practiced medicine between 1000 B.C. and A.D. 135? The Bible believed that epilepsy is caused by demon possession and a deaf mute has a devil tying his tongue. The Bible assumed the whole life of a person existed in a sperm of a man and the woman contributed nothing but nutrients. The Bible assumed Earth was the center of the universe and the sun rotated around it. We almost put Galileo to death for that, and today we engage in space travel. The use of the Bible as something you can quote with final authority on something about which the Bible knows nothing is ridiculous.

  20. To NUFF SAID: I was hiking down the coast some time ago with a friend, when we encountered this llama out loose. There were a couple of other llamas in a fenced pasture. I couln't get why this llama was allowed to run loose and my friend said that he could not be kept in the pasture because he was a "gay llama" and kept trying to mount the male. So what do you call this? Against nature? Better explain that to the llama. Or is he sinning? Is there a hell for gay llamas?
    As for "be fruitful and multiply:" give me a frickin break. At over 6 billion people, I think we have been fruitful and multiplied until we are like the deer in a forest that has no predators, deer who reproduce until they overpopulate and starve to death in the winter. I'm going to speak like an old-testament prophet: winter is coming, folks. Many Trails Home

  21. Trails, you crack me up. Gay llamas yet. Shucks, back on the farm you'd see all sorts of shenanigans out in the barnyard between cows, bulls, steers, in any combination.

    I was driving with a friend down in Georgia one day and he pointed and said "Llama." I asked "Mama llama?" He nodded and said "Mama llama, ding dong, shebop shebop."

    I am really bored today.

  22. RWB here,

    Anon 11:22 I have read all of Leviticus just for the record.

    So are we to assume that because it says "put to death" after all these things that these things (talking back to parents, non-observance,idolatry, homosexuality, bestiality etc.) are OK? No I think this means that these things are a sin before God and need to be repented of.


    I don't think the Bible was intended to apply to animals...not sure if that's what you are saying, but you kind of wrote it that way. But even so I would say a gay Llama (did he say he was gay?...maybe he was thinking Leapfrog looked like fun) is not a "normal" thing....hence the seperation. Maybe they purposely left him in sight of the other two Llamas so he could be re-educated.

    As far as being fruitful and multiplying goes....do you mean we should stop multiplying? How do we know when enough is enough? How do we know that "winter" won't come before there are to many? I don't think you or I have that answer.


  23. I believe acts of sexual nature only should take place in a committed relationship between a man and a woman that is open to procreation. Anything else is contradictory to the nature and God's creation, and a rebellion against God. Same-sex attractions are a distortion of human sexuality (how can they even call it 'sexuality' if there's only one sex involved?). But I don't believe in imposing my convictions on others by force. If someone doesn't share my beliefs and convictions in this or some other issue, let them have their opinions and let them live their lives as they wish. My conviction that same-sex relationships of sexual nature are a distortion of human sexuality neither prevents me from having people who think or act differently in this or some other regard as my friends.

    I would never vote for recognition of same-sex unions as "marriages", but I wouldn't participate in any protests against such a recognition either. However, if the freedom of religion is restricted in any way, for example by requiring churches to marry same-sex couples, who knows what I would do... The freedom of religion is one of the few things I might be ready to kill for. I would not kill for my country or for my flag, but freedom of religion might be important enough.


    Cheap attacks of the type "what about youself, have you ever done X or Y, you know it's also prohibeted in the Bible?" when trying to whitewash some behavior condemned in the Bible tend to make me furious. What someone does or doesn't do is no-one else's business, it's only between that person and God. Moral and ethical issues should be discussed only in general without accusing or interrogating others. It should be about defining what is pure and what is the ideal, not who's been most successful in achieving the ideal.


    The occurrence of distorted sexual behavior among animals doesn't mean that it's natural. According to the belief of the Orthodox church, the nature itself, including animals, is suffering from the fall of mankind, which means that many things we see in the nature are not really natural, i.e. as it was meant to be by God in the creation, but a distortion of the original glory of the creation. Besides, animals don't have free will as humans have, which means that they are not responsible for their actions. If animals do something bad, only man can be accused because the evil entered the world through man.


  24. RWB - I am so glad you are back! Thanks for your perspective here. Hibernatus - great post. I want to make it clear to viewers - just because you leave the OALC (or any LLL community) doesnt mean you have to abandon your core values or your Christianity. You don't have to go out and embrace secular culture. You don't have to agree with gay marriage, abortion, birth control, capital punishment, embryonic research or WHATEVER the hot topic for debate may be. It is an interesting journey to learn how other Christian groups (or any other religious groups) interpret and apply the scriptures. There is obviously some wiggle room - God perhaps intended us to exercise our brains and hearts in deciphering such matters. There are intelligent, educated, rational, critically thinking, kind hearted and normal people who disagree with gay marriage, legal abortion, birth control, embryo destruction, etc. It is not completely far-fetched or un-loving to hold these perspectives and values. These things may or may not be values we feel we have the right to impose on others. For example, I dont feel right banning gay civil unions or euthanasia, but I draw the line at abortion. My beleif is I dont care who you are or what your faith is abortion is wrong and should be avoided at all costs, and I will fight for babies in jeopardy. But gay marriage - it's not life or death, it's a lifestyle and behavior choice (no you dont choose to be gay but you do choose to act on it). And quite frankly, gay marriage is really not affecting me or my family in any kind of significantly negative way. There is a Catholic priest in our area who is gay. But he, like other priests, has vowed a life of celibacy. In the Catholic faith, all single people, gay or straight are called to celibacy. And Catholics are fairly normal people. This is not such a far-fetched concept. -Bunless

  25. This is a good argument. Hibernatus and Bunless, I appreciate your
    candor even though I disagree with you.

    If using logic to support a conclusion, consistency matters. When people cherry-pick holy books to justify their attitudes, it is worth asking if the ENTIRE work is trusted in this regard, and if not, why not.

    Who gets to do the cherry-picking?

    Outside of religion, can we agree on a least-harm policy for social legislation?

    I am reading the journal of Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself" (in 1845 when Laestadius was writing Postillas), and am shocked anew by the Christians who defended their actions with the Bible. They literally ripped babies away from their mothers to prevent bonding. Douglass was prevented from seeing his mother, on a neighboring farm, even as she fell ill and died.

    Slaveowners were so blinded by self-interest they didn't see these "policies" as perversions of nature and love. They too had ideals of love and tolerance, but they practiced them with people who were LIKE THEM, and they fought abolition by saying it would ruin society. The very concept of blacks marrying whites was treated with the same horror that gay marriage is today.

    But what does it threaten "traditional" marriage to have two people of any color or gender pledge to love each other?

    What about the unintended consequences of those who are asked to remain celibate, to NOT love, as if (like the children of slaves) they were not worthy of it. Or unlike "normal" people, didn't need it!

    If consistency has any value, those who say sex is only for procreation should also decry masturbation, sex during menses, and sex after menopause. Shouldn't celibacy be required, in fact, for anyone over 50?

    Whether my own children are straight or gay is irrelevant to me: I want them to be in committed and loving relationships, to respect eros as a divine gift, and to honor the differences they will find in others.

    And I will work toward a society that gives all people the freedom to love each other.

  26. You make some good arguments here. Yes, least-harm policies are the ideal. But sex is not love. It is a gift associated with the willingness to commit to marriage and procreation. There is a Catholic perspective on the menopause/ menses/ masturbation/ sex during pregnancy or during any non-fertile time or circumstances, but I dont have the energy to enumerate on it here. In a nutshell, if its remotely possible to procreate, or better yet - if nothing "artificial" is preventing it, and more importantly, if the desire for new life and openness is still present, then you have ethical sexuality in the Biblical context. Menopause, natural fertility cycles, pregnancy, lactation - all the effects of nature versus intentionally circumventing or blocking new life. Yes the church used to come down hard on masturbation, which they technically define as sin, but less so in recent years. Perhaps they realized hell didn't have enough capacity to house all the transgressors.

  27. "If using logic to support a conclusion, consistency matters. When people cherry-pick holy books to justify their attitudes, it is worth asking if the ENTIRE work is trusted in this regard, and if not, why not. Who gets to do the cherry-picking?" (Free2beme)

    The Church wrote the Bible so the Church is the one to interpret it. However, the Church has bound itself to the Bible, which means that nothing of it can be abolished or changed to the opposite. There are things that have been believed always and by all, and there are things that have been believed sometimes by some. The latter are not as binding as the first mentioned. For example, there is a big difference between things prohibited only in the OT and things prohibited also in the NT.

    If you are referring to the comment in the youtube movie trailer above about shrimps being an "abomination", one should remember that the apostles at their Jerusalem meeting decided that the only OT dietary rules to be followed in the new covenant were to be abstaining from blood as well as from meat of animals that have died by themselves (which would mean that the blood was still in the meat). For example shrimp and pork have always been eaten by the Christians although prohibited by the OT dietary laws.

    "If consistency has any value, those who say sex is only for procreation should also decry masturbation, sex during menses, and sex after menopause. Shouldn't celibacy be required, in fact, for anyone over 50?" (Free2beme)

    Sex is not only for procreation, but it should be open to procreation, i.e. children should be desired and theoretically possible to get, if so by a minor miracle. A same-sex couple cannot conceive children even by a miracle -> never open to procreation.

    As for masturbation, it is self-directed instead of being directed to another person, which makes it a destructive behavior and a distortion of human sexuality. It should be avoided.

    As for sex after menopause, the Orthodox church considers it normal that the sexual activity gradually decreases as the couple ages, the marriage reaches a more mature state. The tendency of the modern western society to make older people believe that they are not living a worthy life without being sexually active is a degradation of humal life. People should be allowed to age in peace. By the way, the canons of the church also prohibit anyone older than 60 to get married.

    "I am reading the journal of Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself" (in 1845 when Laestadius was writing Postillas), and am shocked anew by the Christians who defended their actions with the Bible." (Free2beme)

    The Bible nowhere declares slavery to be good, but it says that same-sex intercourse is wrong. If slavery exists in some society, it can be tolerated as the way the things are, but it cannot be defended by the Bible, as such. If it was used to defend slavery by some pro-slavery Americans in the 19th century, it certainly isn't something that has been taught always, everywhere and by all. It also should be noted that the Israelite slavery never was as bad as the American slavery, the Israelite slavery is better compared with the servants of the British aristocracy.

    "Yes the church used to come down hard on masturbation, which they technically define as sin, but less so in recent years. Perhaps they realized hell didn't have enough capacity to house all the transgressors." (Bunless)

    The Orthodox church doesn't believe that all transgressors automatically end up in hell. Transgression/sin means missing the mark/ideal, and everyone does this every day in different ways. However, even if we miss the mark, we shouldn't fall into the temptation to move the mark closer to what we are able to achieve. Rather we should admit missing the mark, regret, repent and promise to try to do better in the future.


  28. ". . . many of us would clearly reject biblical attitudes and practices regarding nudity, intercourse during menstruation, prudery about speaking of the sexual organs and act, the “uncleanness” of semen and menstrual blood, endogamy, levirate marriage, and social regulations based on the assumption that women are sexual properties subject to men. Obviously many of our choices in these matters are arbitrary. Mormon polygamy was outlawed in this country, despite the constitutional protection of freedom of religion, because it violated the sensibilities of the dominant Christian culture, even though no explicit biblical prohibition against polygamy exists . . . "

    "The crux of the matter . . . is simply that the Bible has no sexual ethic. There is no biblical sex ethic. The Bible knows only a love ethic, which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores are dominant in any given country, or culture, or period."

    Approached from the point of view of love, rather than that of law, the issue is at once transformed. Now the question is not “What is permitted?” but rather “What does it mean to love my homosexual neighbor?”

    "Approached from the point of view of faith rather than of works, the question ceases to be “What constitutes a breach of divine law in the sexual realm?” and becomes instead “What constitutes obedience to the God revealed in the cosmic lover, Jesus Christ?” Approached from the point of view of the Spirit rather than of the letter, the question ceases to be “What does Scripture command?” and becomes “What is the Word that the Spirit speaks to the churches now, in the light of Scripture, tradition, theology, psychology, genetics, anthropology and biology?”

    "In a little-remembered statement, Jesus said, “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” (Luke 12:57). Such sovereign freedom strikes terror in the hearts of many Christians; they would rather be under law and be told what is right. Yet Paul himself echoes Jesus’ sentiment immediately preceding one of his possible references to homosexuality: “Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!” (I Cor. 6:3). The last thing Paul would want is for people to respond to his ethical advice as a new law engraved on tablets of stone. He is himself trying to “judge for himself what is right.”

    "If now new evidence is in on the phenomenon of homosexuality, are we not obligated -- no, free -- to re-evaluate the whole issue in the light of all available data and decide, under God, for ourselves? Is this not the radical freedom for obedience which the gospel establishes?"

    Read more here.

  29. Good post - apparently no one got my joke. Of course transgressors don't all go to hell; I was humorously attempting to point out the widespread nature of the sin in question... ok bad joke! Perhaps CVOW or another Catholic can correct me - The Catholic Church allows couples over 60 to marry but they do not allow men who have had vasectomies to be married in the Church.

  30. I have never heard of either restriction (certainly not the 60 year rule), and find it equally hard to believe that the second exists in the RC church either. I'll ask our priest when I get a chance.

  31. Free, thank you for writing what you have written! You discuss so intelligently, its obvious you have studied of what you speak.

    I agree with Free. And I cant believe we would tell people who are gay they cant have sex. We dont have the right. It is twisting the biological theory of homosexuality .i.e., Yes, God made you that way- you are attracted to the same sex- but now you are NOT to love another person, and NOT to share all that is good in human life.

    Think of this on a personal level. What if you were gay? Can you imagine being told you were never to love? Without the joy of sharing your life with another person? Yes, many hetero people dont get married, but they have the choice!

    Except for some in Laestadianism, where there just isnt enough to go around :) Which is also a sentance of sorts that single people pray very hard to "accept".

    Thats my rant. Im sure others dont agree, but I just can not STAND when people deny others basic human rights! And this holier than thou attitude is one of the main reasons I left the church in the first place.

  32. I follow Frees logic but I still side with Hibernatus on this one. People are continuing to confuse love and sex. In a culture that is obsessed with sex (for lack of a better term) I am not surprised. Love, true love, can be experienced in the absence of sex. Think of the Virgin Mary. Your statement "Imagine being gay and being told you are never allowed to love" - this is preposterous. Of course gay people can and do experience love. What you meant to say is, "Imagine being gay and told you are to never have sex" - entirely different. That is what Christianity calls all single people to do, gay or straight. Notice that I said Christianity. Other faiths and beleifs have different opinions on this issue. I'll go ahead and say, if you don't like gay marriage, then dont enter into a gay marriage. To each his own. But I will go ahead and maintain that within Christianity, if thats what you beleive, sex is intended for a man and woman who commit to marriage with the intent, openness and desire to create new life. That is the Catholic Christian perspective and if you dont like it, then simply dont become a Catholic (Not to dissuade you from Catholicism ;)) And most denominations of Christianity share more or less the same perspective. Speaking of the Virgin Mary, Catholics beleive she maintained her viginity throughout her life. She is the most incredible example of human love and obedience to God. Again demonstrating that sex is not directly interchangeable with love.

  33. But didnt Jesus have siblings? Just curios.

  34. "Good post - apparently no one got my joke." (Bunless)

    Don't feel bad. No-one ever gets my jokes either... ;)

    "Now the question is not “What is permitted?” but rather “What does it mean to love my homosexual neighbor?”" (free2beme)

    True love includes trying to lead others forward on the path to God, i.e. towards perfection. God has not created any imperfection, nor should we bind anyone to imperfection, if we really love them. Assuring that same-sex attractions and same-sex relationships of sexual nature are good means bringing people who struggle with that kind of things into a standstill on their path towards God, rather than supporting them in their battle against all kinds of enemies.

    "It is twisting the biological theory of homosexuality .i.e., Yes, God made you that way- you are attracted to the same sex- but now you are NOT to love another person, and NOT to share all that is good in human life." (Anonymous)

    There is no unanimously approved "biological theory of homosexuality". There are different theories, and some of those theories do claim that some if not all people with same-sex attractions are born that way, but there are also other theories. However, even if there was a unanimously approved theory that same-sex attractions are something people are born with, it wouldn't have any significance for the Christian attitude towards same-sex attractions. If I was born with genes that make me become easily angry, does it give me any right to be angry "because I was made that way"? God didn't create me that way because God creates only perfect things, but the creation got corrupted and distorted because of man's rebellion against God, resulting in many defects that we are born with and that make the life difficult for us, more so for some, less so for some others.

    "But didnt Jesus have siblings?" (hp3)

    Mary didn't have any other children, but Jesus did have some brothers and sisters, the most well-known of them being St. James the brother of Lord, who was the first bishop of Jerusalem. Joseph was a lot older than Mary, and he had already been married once andf had children from his previous marriage with Salome.


  35. "God didn't create me that way because God creates only perfect things, but the creation got corrupted and distorted because of man's rebellion against God, resulting in many defects that we are born with and that make the life difficult for us, more so for some, less so for some others." Hibernatus

    I can not argue with people that believe homosexuality is a defect. I disagree on the most basic level. We will never find common ground.

    Anon 4:35

  36. Being gay is not a defect. The research is in. Don't be like those who refused to believe Galileo.

    To say it may be natural, but flawed (like anger) seems intellectually dishonest. It is a refusal to see the complex phenomenon of sexuality for what it is, and insist on a narrow patriarchal view despite all evidence to the contrary.

    As with the bonobos (our closest relatives), human marital sex can be procreative but it is certainly much richer and more nuanced than that. Just as food can be fuel or something much, much more.

    Never experiencing the symphony of sex is like never hearing music, or never swimming in the ocean. To me, it is tragic, not admirable. Words fail.

    And I don't see how it is godly to ask gay people to view their bodies and minds as defected, something to be cut off.

    We don't cut out our tongues, as they are not strictly needed for survival or communication, and can (especially among us supertasters) lead to gluttony. Oddly, the church is rather quite about appetites that aren't sexual.

    If the human race manages to survive another hundred years, we will find the church apologizing for its shameful treatment of gays, just as it finally apologized for its shameful treatment of Galileo.

    And if there was ever a time to look critically at the unintended effects of celibacy on gay priests, it is now.

    Bunless, you seem to be saying "that is the way it is; like it or leave it" but you know yourself that devoted Catholics disagree about church teachings and so it should be.

    Criticism of a church may be uncomfortable for those who put their faith in the church.

    But Jesus didn't ask people to become Christians. He had something more radical in mind.

  37. Again I follow Free's logic but disagree that we all have a right to experience sex and without it life is tragic. To say so is demeaning to those who choose celibacy, including the Blessed Mother. And we just had a Mass service specifically about Gluttony at which our priest urged us to examine our appetites for food, in particular during this season of Lent and in recognition of the billions who do not constantly have food readily available like we do. Yes I don't like calling homosexuality a defect. I don't like calling my own obesity a defect either. And I was born that way.
    Anyways. I emailed my priest about the Catholic Church sanctioning marriage among elderly or sterilized. Here was his response:
    "The church sees marriage as a natural right. So age is not a determining factor, except of course for minors. The “goods” or purposes of marriage are three fold: fidelity, permanence and openness to life. When a couple is wed in the Church these are the three things they are consenting to. If they have an intention against any one of these then the marriage would be considered null and void as their consent would not be full and free. So for instance if someone believes it ok to cheat at some point then they would have an intention against fidelity.

    One of the purposes of marriage is the begetting and rearing of children. This of course does not apply to couples beyond child bearing years. Couples of child bearing age are asked: “to the best of your knowledge are you and your intended spouse physically capable of having children?” Obviously a vasectomy makes it physically impossible or at least almost so, to conceive. Also a vasectomy would be a sign that there is an intention against children. In most cases, (there may be rare exceptions) a vasectomy, especially if it is done to prevent children, (I’m not sure if there is any other valid medical reason for it, as would be a hysterectomy, would be an impediment to marriage in the Church. If the impediment can be removed then the marriage could proceed. If the sterilization has been forced or done without the consent of the person then you might make a case that the person does not have an intention against children. FJ"

  38. Also Free I see you are going down the path of "Celibacy is Unhealthy" and even perhaps implying that the Celibacy requirements caused pedophilia among Catholic priests. Oh boy. Well. There is a higher rate of exposed pedophiles among celibate Catholic priests compared to other church clergy. This is because people with serious phychosexual problems are attracted to the celibate priesthood for a number of reasons - perhaps they know they have a problem and see a celibacy vow as a way to hide it and not directly deal with it. Perhaps they are evil people who see a sick opportunity to exploit children in a spiritually powerful role. But the pedophilia was there first, long before the vow to celibacy, not the other way around. Celibacy does not cause pedophilia or other sexually exploitative behavior. You are confusing causality with association if you even go down that path.
    Secondly, Catholicism is one faith that celebrates celibacy. We see nothing tragic about it. You can die a virgin and thats ok. Many people do. Suppose we were to turn your statement into "Never experiencing the symphony of celibate life...is tragic…” The Mary-always-a-virgin belief is a difference between Catholic/Orthodox and Protestant Christianity. Catholics maintain this belief, most protestants do not. In fact the Church has recognized the concept of “Josephite” marriages – when a married couple chooses to be celibate and give up having children in order to serve God. One such couple (don’t recall who) have since been canonized as Saints. Our priest would tell you there is great joy in being able to turn otherwise sexual/procreative energy into serving God. It is a rewarding commitment to make. You could perhaps say it is “tragic” do deny this opportunity to for celibate life to be extended to those experiencing same-sex attraction?
    What about people who never experience sexuality for whatever reason – a disability, for example. Or to be delicate, some are just not “marriage material” perhaps because of personality and/or appearance. Is this also tragic? I have heard this as justification for prostitution: some people have to pay for it, they have no other options. This whole concept of everyone has a right to engage in sex is a figment of the last 60 years with the invention of birth control. Until then and throughout human history sex and having children were uniquely intertwined. Some of us think that is the way things should be, and that so many complications of modern relationships (i.e. skyrocketing divorce) is at least in part a direct result of the separation of marriage, procreation, and sexuality.

  39. Also the claim that "devoted Catholics disagree about church teachings" - This is not my observation. Catholics tend to be more open to admitting when they are choosing to not follow church teaching, but it's not that we disagree with the church. We just feel we can't live up to the standard and aren't too ashamed to admit it to ourselves and others. In the Catholic church I have observed a high rate of agreement, but admittedly low compliance on some issues. Mostly surrounding birth control and sexuality issues. The Church sets a high standard there. High standards aren't wrong just because they are high and difficult to attain.

  40. Good heavens, RWB, you are going to lose most of us with posts this long. I personally can't read anything with a zillion Bible quotes.
    At least you generally refrain from OALC-speak, except for the expression: "even as according to" in response to hp3, earlier. Cvow, is this some literal translation of a Finnish linguistic construction? Obviously, one would never say to one's boss, "We are going to do this wiring even as according to code regulations." MTH

  41. Hmmmm, MTH, you think that overposter was RWB? No signature. Looks like a cut and paste job from somebody else's website.

    Whether or not there is Biblical justification for her perpetual virginity, I appreciate the
    Catholic vision of Santa Maria because it provides sorely-needed counterweight to the masculine divine.

    I used to envy my Catholic schoolmates for having a SHE in their religion. All we had was Lapp Mary in an all-too-brief encounter, then a lot of whores in the misogynistic rhetoric of LLL.

    As for whether a life without sex is tragic, that is obviously in the eye of the beholder. This beholder finds it tragic, like being born blind or deaf. Now if celibacy it is chosen, that makes a difference, but I wouldn't wish it on my loved ones, no more than I would want them to live without music or fresh fruit, or travel.

    It is worth noting that birth control (from herbs to infanticide) has always existed and people have always practiced it. The commodification and vulgarization of sex in our culture is more a reflection of market values than access to safe and effective birth control.

    The antidote to commercialized sex is not female disempowerment, or chastity, or procreative-only sex. It is sacred sex, as celebrated beautifully in the Song of Solomon: sex as union with the beloved, as the ultimate intimacy with another.

    This can be had past 60, by the way :-)

    Let me add that I am so grateful for birth control, as it enables me to have a rich and varied life, to enjoy my husband and children and work in ways that were not possible for my foremothers.

    In a way, I'm like a monastic, except what I'm giving up is not sex, but new little babies every year, giving me so much energy for other things.

  42. "Diaphragms" of sorts have also been used since the beginning of recorded history, or at least since the time of Troy and what's-her-name. They improvised with halves of lemons, etc. So to pretend that, prior to the modern era, women joyously partook of intercourse for the sole purpose of procreation - or even welcomed the consequences - is purely projection. Naive thinking, to my mind. With not a little righteous mis-placed judgment involved. Sometimes I can barely abide what "Christianity" has become. Guess that's why I'm a Quaker. MTH

  43. Here's the link where our anonymous plagiarist got his content.

    I'm not Catholic, nor do I believe in Mary's perpetual virginity (except in the spiritual sense which is the only sense that really matters), yet it's worth noting that the church that would later call itself Catholic was around before the Bible as we now know it was assembled.

    Christianity was around for nearly 300 years before it had a Bible. That's longer than the United States has been a nation. That's not to say the Bible isn't indispensable --but for those who think the Bible just dropped out of the sky in perfection it's a fact worth remembering.

    I'm prepared to acknowledge that God calls some people to celibacy --but I'm also ready to acknowledge that God calls others to marriage, and still others to loving, monogamous same-sex relationships.

  44. I find it amusing that someone would copy a long article, write one opening paragraph, and try to pass it off as original thought!

    Free, you were correct in that the long post was simply a cut and paste from Tony Warren's post "Did Jesus Have Brothers and Sisters?" on "The Mountain Retreat" website. It's a website for "Reformation Christianity", whatever that is -- other than as "reformationists" they get a kick out of Catholic bashing. On the other hand, I get a kick out of people like this poster who apparently have no original thoughts, so they just parrot what someone else has said, I guess thinking that makes them knowledgable. What is really does is make them plagiarists. Unless Mr. Warren himself has graced us with his presence (doubtful), it seems there's this thing called copyright law of which this poster is obviously painfully unaware. There are penalties under law for this sort of thing...especially since Mr. Warren has carefully and clearly stated "Copyright 1995 Tony Warren" at the bottom of the page! (He actually didn't even have to have that to enjoy full copyright protection, but that's for another time and post.)

    The gleanings from scripture that were quoted aren't really as clearcut as Mr. Warren (see how easy it is to give proper credit?) makes it seem as he tries to build his case. Just a couple of examples without getting into the thing ad nauseum:

    "For neither did his brethren believe in him."
    Again, we can see clearly that at first even Jesus's brothers did not believe on Him. This again clearly illustrates that these were his flesh brothers, not brothers in the sense of brothers in Christ."

    How in the world can you make a definitive statement that this "clearly illustrates that these were his flesh brothers"? If I were to make an admittedly old fashioned statement that my brethren do not believe me, you could in no way infer that I had blood brothers, but would understand it to mean my peers, or people with whom I associate.

    Another one...""Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him HIS WIFE:
    And knew her not Until she had brought forth her firstborn Son: and he called His name, Jesus!"
    He 'Knew her' not (didn't have physical sexual union with her) until she had brought forth her Firstborn, Jesus. From this statement, it is clear that He knew her (in the biblical sense) AFTER the birth of Jesus."

    How is it "clear that he knew her"? It's not stated, but that's apparently ok, since Mr. Warren seems to have divine knowledge or something about what the biblical author left unsaid. Inferential logic is a slippery slope upon which to rest your laurels (or anything else you want to rest on it...)

    OK, I'll stop, since Mr. Warren isn't here to defend his writings. If the poster wants to make a point of his own, I might get interested again.

    Oh, by the way, if folks don't choose to believe in the virginity of Mary, they don't have to! If others of us choose to do so, we certainly can do so! Either way, I won't accuse you of believing in fairy tales.

  45. Even if he hadn't heard of copyright law you'd think he'd have heard of the Ten Commandments.

    "Thou shalt not steal," baby!

  46. I left the long post with Mr. Warren's article. I had some difficulty posting it, and had to keep writing and re-cutting and pasting it, and inadvertently left out the end giving him credit for the article. I was trying to get just a link in, but could not get that to work. I just came on to add to it and saw all of your comments. I apologize for the misunderstanding. I was at work and by the time I saw that it was cut off, I was already late for my next appointment at the hairdressers.

    What I don't understand, is in the Catholic religion, is why Bible "knowing" your wife or your husband, for example, means sexual congress in every case EXCEPT in the case of Joseph knowing Mary? Literally, if knowing meant becoming aquainted with her, it would not ring true since he had met her before? What else could "knowing" mean? I am a Laestadian but I am NOT in the camp of exclusivity. Many of the things I hear about the OALC horrify me, but if I had to choose between the OALC and the Catholic Church I'm pretty certain I'd join with the OALC. I'm glad I don't have to make that choice, but I dislike how bunless comes off here in her judgement of the OALC when she embraces a faith that inherently has many flaws as well. I feel like she has chosen one form of bondage for another. I was raised in a family that taught me to always be respectful of other religions, so some of the comments against the OALC are not as respectful as they could be. I am not RWB, by the way, but I am not signing in with my usual moniker. Sorry if I was being lazy and/or careless.

  47. Dear anonymous,

    You hooked me with your comment, "I am a Laestadian but I am NOT in the camp of exclusivity."

    I'm curious: Have you gone public with this opinion, and do your fellow church members share your views?

    You're obviously not in the OALC because of your comment about them. Which group are you a part of? This is such an interesting development.

  48. Bunless here. I can take the hit. Yes I have reasearched nearly all of the anonymous posters plagiarized-then-apologized post. Although I do see some new ones I will have to check out. Lacking the energy for an exhaustive retort, I shall say this: yes, Catholics do not rest faith solely on the Bible, we rest it solely on Christ. The Bible is just one avenue of information we have, albeit the only "inspired" one. Catholic Church doctrine indeed comes from many sources: historians, traditions, writings of Saints (yes, men and women) even historical art. How is this so different from Laestadianism which by definition defines doctrine, theology and culture from the writings of a man (Laestadius)? Catholics seek to understand Christ using all information available including and especially the Bible.
    Secondly, and again unlike the Protestant churches, the Catholic Church does not teach, and even avoids literal interpretation of scripture. We see first the historical context, authors' intentions, audience and culture. We see this as an appropriate way to read any historical document. For example, Catholics are free to study and accept science and evolution as we feel it is not appropriate to give Genesis a strict literal interpretation. The last thing I want is to start a discussion here about evolution. Finally, yes "Mariolatry" does exist, but is not sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Catholics do hold the beleif in Mary as a Mediatrix and intercessor (along with all other Saints) but the co-Redemptrix claim is bogus and not taught, even informally in the Catholic Church. There is one redeemer, Christ, and the Church is absolutely clear on that.
    Free- I totally appreciate your post. Despite my faith I struggle with the concept of celibacy. Despite the positive twist I am always giving my sons about the priesthood, part of me cringes at the thought of celibacy. Perhaps I am selfishly drawn to grandchildren. But you know, some are called to it, God bless 'em.

  49. I really don't want to say anything that would identify me, but yes, I have shared with other people that I don't believe in exclusivity and although some have been horrified and worried about me, others have shared that they feel the same as I. Like RWB, I believe there is salvation in my church and I do not feel comfortable in saying that there is or there is not salvation elsewhere. These judgments are up to God. I don't necessarily do theological comparisons and say, for example, that the Catholics will all burn in hell but the Baptists won't. There are manifestations of their faiths I cannot agree with, but does that really mean they don't believe? The Bible says there are sheep in many folds. Although I like attending church with so many family and friends, I try my best to separate what is cultural from what is Biblical. I'm afraid that there are many believers who are not so aware of these differences. I'm a strong woman and I have always stood up to my convictions even when others who may disagree with me. It's not an easy road to take but it is one I have chosen. However, I have never had a single person refuse to greet me because of my opinions on these matters. If they did, I'd keep coming anyway as I refuse to have anyone chase me out. This does not mean that I believe everyone is saved, I'm just saying that I will leave these decisions in the Lord's hands and hope and pray he finds me acceptable.

  50. Just to clarify, the branch of the LLL church I am in does not study Laestadius nor his sermons. I was a grown woman in college before I'd ever even HEARD of Laestadius. Having heard of him now, I'd say his sermons were for that time and place, and I definitely do not believe he was the 7th angel of the revelations. He was, however, a believer. I find it very misguided that the OALC actually has sermons based on his postillas. I do not know when the idea of exclusivity became prevalent amongst Laestadians, but I think it may have happened around WWII.

  51. "Being gay is not a defect. The research is in. Don't be like those who refused to believe Galileo." (Frre2beme)

    It is a defect. There's absolutely no evidence to the contrary, and the Church will never consider it anything else than a defect.

    I've heard rumors the Roman Catholic church had some problems with Galileo, but I don't know if the rumors are true. Should ask my Catholic friends. However, my church never took any stance against him or any other scientist.

    "What I don't understand, is in the Catholic religion, is why Bible "knowing" your wife or your husband, for example, means sexual congress in every case EXCEPT in the case of Joseph knowing Mary? Literally, if knowing meant becoming aquainted with her, it would not ring true since he had met her before? What else could "knowing" mean?" (Anonymous)

    In the passage you are referring to knowing means sexual intercourse. However, if you read that passage in Greek, it does NOT say Joseph knew her after she had given birth. It only states that Joseph didn't have intercourse with her before Jesus was born so there wouldn't be any doubts about who the father was. The New Testament was written in Greek. Almost all Greeks belong to the Orthodox church (at least nominally), which teaches that Mary didn't have any other children. Wouldn't you expect Greeks to be able to understand Greek?


  52. I recently received a humorous forward that was acutally worth reading. It address the homosexuality issue and the bible. I managed to find it from http://www.humanistsofutah.org/2002/WhyCantIOwnACanadian_10-02.html

    Why Can't I Own a Canadian?

    October 2002

    Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

    Dear Dr. Laura:

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

    When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

    I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

    A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

    Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

    Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

    Your devoted fan,


  53. RWB here....

    Glad somebody came forward to claim the post that was being attributed to me.

    Anon 10:43:

    You stated: "Just to clarify, the branch of the LLL church I am in does not study Laestadius nor his sermons." What is the basis for the Laestadian name if the church does not study Laestadius?

    You also stated: "I find it very misguided that the OALC actually has sermons based on his postillas." This is not true. The OALC format is to read a sermon of Laestadius. A spoken sermon is next in which a familiar Bible text is spoken along side of. This spoken sermon is based on memory, experience, and revelation. There are often references to the Bible passage taken as it relates to the teachings of: Jesus, Laestadius, Luther, the Apostles, other places in the Bible, and other preachers and Elders. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive, but to show that Laestadius is not the basis of the spoken sermon.


  54. Hi RWB - I agree Anon 10:43 does seem oddly unfamiliar with his/her own denomination.
    Not that anyone cares, but after reading RWB's post I am compelled to mention this about the Catholic Church - even though we draw on history, tradition, and writings by Saints and past Popes in understanding Christ, there is only ONE such document that gets formally read in Church: The Bible. Following the scripture readings the priest does a "homily" or "sermon" that relates to that day's Bible readings. Catholic Churches hold services (Mass) EVERY day of the year, even weekdays. If you were to attend service every day that it was offered, over the course of the year, you would cover very nearly the entire Bible. So for those that claim Catholics do not read, understand or follow the Word of God - this is a false claim. -Bunless

  55. I first didn't want to bother answering the Laura Schlessinger post because I've seen it posted about thousand times in different forums, and I'm sick of the stupidity of that letter, but I hope the person who posted it realizes there's difference between the Judaism and Christianity and I also hope (s)he realizes there's difference between the ancient Israelite law and the US law (or EU law or whatever modern law)?

    Only prohibitions reinforced by the NT apply to the Christians (for example NOT the prohibition against eating shrimp or pork) and none of the punishments stipulated by the Israelite law apply to us because we are not Israelites living in 1000 BC. You should understand that they were living in a theocracy and the Bible was also their law codex. We have our own laws that have been passed by our own legislative institutions. Of course, many of the OT laws as such give us good advice and guidelines about a godly and happy life, but the laws and especially the punishments cannot be applied to us or our neighbors because we obey different laws and the Israelite law is no longer in force in our societies (who knows, maybe we would be happier if it was?).

    That letter really doesn't have anything to do with us Christians, and thus it has no place in a discussion between Christians. It's a letter from a Jew to another Jew, i.e. it's entirely about discussion within Judaism. I can't see why we as outsiders even would take stand on their internal discussion and disputes (although it may be interesting to follow what's going on there).


  56. I will side with RWB here, in that I do not recall sermons that were based on a Laestadius sermon. I'm sure there were times when a preacher drew a parallel to something that was also pointed out in the Postilla, but not as source.

    I recently had a conversation with some older folks who were raised in what we knew as the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church (which has at least some link to the current IALC) and was surprised when they said they never had heard a sermon of Laestadius' read in church, so I don't know the tie either.

    Did you know that the sermons contained in the Postilla used in OALC services is only a portion of his writings? I have a copy of a small book that I recall is entitled a "House Postilla" (for the life of me, I can't find it right now) which contains more of his writings, and there are other booklets of sermons floating around as well.

  57. No, I am not misguided about the branch of Laestadianism I belong to. I know exactly where I am.
    Although my church (IALC) would be considered a form of Laestadianism by theologists, we do not use Laestadius' name in our title nor do we make a study of him. The IALC (Independent) branch split from the FALC in the 1920's. A co-worker of mine is former FALC, and neither did they make study of Laestadius' sermons either, to the best of her knowledge.

    I don't know how to describe my church but to sall it "Laestadian-Light." There are not nearly as many of the complex rules as the OALC, we base our religion on the Bible and not on Laestadius. His words were not important because he was not a prophet, just a believer and a minister of his time.

    I didn't mean to start a "thing" here I just got very irritated by Bunlesses' assertion that Mary was a perpetual virgin and didn't have children after Jesus when its so plainly recorded in the Bible (at least to me) got me into a tizzy. I'm not a Catholic-basher, I was on my last nerve when Bunless stepped on it.

  58. RWB here....

    CVOW said: "Did you know that the sermons contained in the Postilla used in OALC services is only a portion of his writings?"

    You seem to imply that we use only one Postilla in our services. There are several different Postillas used (House Postilla, New Postilla, Third and Fourth Postillas, Fathers Voice, and the Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness, etc.) in services and read at home along with the Bible and many of Luthers Sermons and writings.


  59. Anon 8:02. Thanks for clarifying on your denomination it makes more sense to me now. Catholics beleive in the ever-Virgin Mary, other Chirstian denominations do not. I dont see how I am stepping on nerves when I explain Catholic doctrine. Unless you just don't like Catholics - many don't :)- The question of Mary's virginity is not as clear-cut as your article would have it. Catholics interpret that Jesus had siblings no doubt, but they were from Joseph's first wife. And the other "clearly obvious" scriptures are not so obvious when the greek words are examined. It makes little sense to rely strictly on the English words, as the Bible was not written in English. Hibernatus is correct on the Greek translation of the word "until" or "before" in Matthew 1. If I say "I didnt get to go skiing before Spring came," does that mean I went skiing in the Spring? No. But I will agree with you that the Bible doesnt come out and clearly define the ever-virgin doctrine. The Catholic Church has found other evidence that early Christians held this beleif, probably before the Bible was written. I will dig up some literature I have on this topic when I have more time. Perhaps a better Church historian like CVOW can tell us when the Church clarified the ever-virgin doctrine - it must have been before the great Schism, since our Orthodox brothers share the same beleif - therefore it must have been well established long before Martin Luther split... Bunless

  60. RWB, I only pointed out the other Laestadius writings, because I did not ever see the books such as the House Postilla ever used in church. There it seemed only the latest version of the Postilla was used -- for example now I guess that's the 4th Postilla. I had not heard of the last two you mention, so they must be more recent "releases".

  61. As a matter of fact, even Luther and the other early Lutherans believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Also the Lutheran Confessions (the books the early Lutherans wrote in order to define the Lutheran doctrine) express a belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Many contemporary Lutherans are unaware of this and surprised when they find out.

    At least the church fathers Origen (AD 248), Athanasius (AD 293 - 373), Epiphanius (AD 315? - 403),
    Jerome (AD 345? - 419), Augustine (AD 354 - 430), Ambrose (AD 388),and Cyril (AD 376 - 444) expressed belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary in their writings. The earliest document that specifically states that Mary remained virgin through her entire life is the protoevangelium of James, written approximately AD 120.

    The Second Council of Constantinople AD 553 attributed the word "ever-virgin" to Mary when defining the dogma about Christ. It should be noted that the council wasn't about the ever virginity of Mary, but the word "ever-virgin" was included in the dogma as if it was taken for granted and considered an uncontested part of the Christian doctrine.


    The English postillas of Laestadius published by the American OALC have a pretty good coverage of Laestadius's sermons, I'd guess at least 90 %, maybe even more. All the sermons are available in Finnish in the new postillas that were published by the OALC in Finland in the 1990s, including some sermons that were found only recently (minus one sermon that was published in earlier postillas but was proved to be a falsification, I don't know if that one's in the American postillas).

    His other major writings are "Ens ropandes röst i öknen", which is available in English ("The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness") and Dårhushjonet, which I don't think has been translated into English. In addition to the books, there are also some letters and other shorter texts written by Laestadius. I think they are in the Elder's letter book.


  62. Hibernatus, thanks for that info! The ever-virgin beleif is older than both Luther and Laestadius, apparently even older than parts of the Bible if I am reading this correctly. But yes, if one were to strictly rely on an English translation of the Bible (i.e. KJV) in absence of all other available information: the ever-virgin doctrine doesn't just jump out at you.

  63. Perhaps the source of my irritation, Bunless, was not so much you, but just the idea that Mary somehow NEEDED to remain a virgin her whole entire life. She was in fact married to Joseph as Joseph was instructed by God to do so. How many of us ever got that personal kind of blessing from God before we married our spouse, and they got a direct edict, no less! So if God wanted Joseph to marry her, it would follow the marriage was holy and blessed. I'm sure that God wanted his son Jesus to be raised in a kind and loving marriage, and those of us who are or who have been married know that sexual intimacy between a husband and wife is a wonderful and blessed thing and only adds closeness and warmth to a marriage, and that it is indeed healthy. Poor Joseph if he could not even have his own wife! So yes, despite what Catholics believe (and I do not) I can't help but wonder if God really intended all this celibacy in the first place in the RC church, and when you look at all the trouble its created, there is no wonder. God made man and woman to be attracted to one another, and though I don't believe we're all supposed to fulfill our desires randomly and without discrimination, I just can't imagine God wanting all these nuns and monks and priests to be without a mate, when so many would have liked to have had both, like the Orthodox priests (or Lutheran clergy, for that matter). Personally, I believe that Mary was made a perpetual virgin in order to convert pagan people who had a strong tradition of a female goddess. Elevating her to the rank that the Catholics have, by praying through her and creating graven images of her helped the RC church convert nearly the world.

    So yes, Bunless, my nerves were missplaced on you (I think they call that projection) when I got irritated. No, I do not dislike RC any more than you dislike all OALC'ers--I dislike parts of the religion itself, mostly the gaudy and showy parts and all the hoopla and ceremony. I prefer a plain church. What God prefers who could know, as he does not answer my repeated e-mails and phone calls.

  64. Well Anon 12:14, you can certainly choose to believe or not believe whatever you wish! However, I wonder if you've ever been to a Catholic Mass, or read at all what the beliefs of the church are. Your comment about "graven images" and "gaudy and showy parts" sounds like you're still pretty stuck in the word of mouth anti-RC propaganda that goes around, especially in the OALC -- about how we worship idols, and drink and gamble and dance in the church aisles! (pssst...we really don't!)

    I don't think we can safely assume anything that might be in the mind of God. He has certainly worked in mysterious ways over the centuries, even as we humans try to second guess him at every turn. Goodness knows that for every problem you can bring up due to celibacy, there are thousands that can be brought up due to failed marriages. Celibacy or marriage does not dictate success or failure in life. I tried to follow your logic as you described Joseph and Mary's marriage, and how sure this and sure that and poor Joseph if he couldn't... I've said it before, inferential logic is a dangerous thing.

    If you don't believe celibacy is a good thing, or the virginity of Mary is not true, that's fine -- just don't presume you have the right to tell me that I am wrong in my belief. You prefer a plain church, and I prefer tradition, and that's ok too!

  65. Cvow, I think you should go into politics! Really!

    Whatever the topic, you always make a good case.

    I agree with you on this point: Believe what you will, but don't tell me what to believe!

  66. Yes, I have been to a Catholic church on several occasions and have studied RC beliefs. When I was at the University, I took a course in Cultural Anthropology, and a required assignment was for me to visit a church or religious service (it could have been anything, including a Pow-Wow or an AA meeting) different from the religion of your upbringing. I chose the Roman Catholic Church because I had never been to one, though I had been to several other Lutheran churches and other Protestant churches with friends or for weddings, baptisms, etc.) I had also been to a couple of Pow-Wows by that point, too. So yes, Bunless I did learn about Catholicm. My father went to a Catholic University and my grandfather was Catholic. When you say you prefer tradition, I'm not really getting what you mean. I consider my religious beliefs traditional as well.

    I'm not sure if either one of us understand anything about Joseph and Mary's marriage, just like we don't really know about the marriages of our next-door neighbors. But what could possibly have been dirty about a man having his wife if God had indeed blessed that marriage and personally told Joseph to marry Mary? It was MAN who tried to make Mary a perpetual virgin, because MAN could not be satisfied by the work that was done by Jesus Christ Himself when he died on the cross for our sins. Shouldn't that have been enough?

  67. Anon 7:54. You are going way overboard in your criticism of this ever-virgin issue. The Catholic Church does not teach that anything about sexuality is "dirty", and the reason that Mary and Joseph did not have a sexual relationship was not that it would have been "dirty" to do so. The purpose was to forego having additional children in order to focus their lives solely on raising the Son of God and to support Him in fulfilling His destiny. This was their 100% God-given mission in life. Abstinence was their birth control, thats one way to look at it. That is whole point of any celibacy in the Church - priests, nuns, monks and Josephite marriages - is to forego raising children in order to better serve God. It has nothing to do with purity or dirtiness. In the Catholic Church sexuality and procreation are seen as one. We dont beleive in artificial birth control. You are completely missing the boat on this whole issue.-Bunless

  68. When I'm asked why it is so important for us to hold fast to the perpetual virginity of Mary, I usually start by asking why it is some important for some others to claim she wasn't? That being said, it's time to look closer to the reasons.

    For the first, if you are the only daughter in your family, live a long life, and when you are 100 years old you hear a grand child of your nephew telling you: "hey, I found this place in my grandfathers diary in which he says that his sister came to visit with "her girls", so this must mean you must also have a sister". You of course know you didn't have a sister, but the other "girl" in the diary is some neighbor girl who was staying at your parents for some time because of bad circumstances at home. Wouldn't you be eager to correct the grand child of your nephew? It's the same also with the perpetual virginity of Mary. The main reason we protest claims that Mary had other children is that it isn't true. The tradition tells us she didn't have any other children.

    For the second, the perpetual virginity is seen as part of her faithfulness to God, which is her example to us. The tradition tells that she was promised to God already by her parents, because they were so thankful to God he granted them a child at an old age having been childless for a long time. They took Mary to the temple, where she lived until she reached puberty (due to the OT ritual laws she wouldn't have been able to reside in the temple after that). I don't remember if her parents had died already (they might have because they were old), but anyway they found this older widow Joseph to take care of her. She wanted to remain faithful to the promise of her parents, and the marriage was never even meant to be a "normal" marriage. This is reflected in Mary's surprise when Gabriel comes to her with the good tidings: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34) If she was a "normal" young girl engaged to a young man, planning to get married in the near future, would she have been surprised when she is told she will have a child soon? As Bunless wrote above, the marriage of Mary and Joseph was a very special relationship, and was never even meant to be an ordinary marriage.

    Mary is an example to us in faithfulness to God, as she wanted to remain faithful to the promise of her parents, and she is also an example to us in obedience to God, as she accepted the will of God to become the mother of Lord and gave the positive answer: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38) According to the example of Mary, every human being should accept to receive Christ and should remain faithful to God until end.

    For the third, it would have been inappropriate for anyone to enter the world through a woman that had given birth to God himself. No-one would ever open the gate through which the Lord had entered the world.


  69. I don't really have a horse in this race, since Mary's virginity does not play a large role in my own personal theology.

    However, doesn't it feel like some folks here are straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel?

    If you're already willing to believe in the miracle that Mary was able to conceive Jesus while still being a virgin, the idea that she remained a virgin her whole life doesn't seem that far-fetched. It doesn't even require another miracle!

  70. I really like Hibernatus' explanation and the excellent point by Tomte. Another thing I was pondering last night... God gave his only begotten Son to save us. Doesn't it logically follow that Mary gave up her only begotten son as well? Also, a marriage can have healthy physical intimacy, warmth, passion and affection without having sexual intercourse. If you are practicing Natural Family Planning then you are doing this 1 or 2 weeks every month. Here we see consistency in the Catholic Church teachings - that sex and procreation are uniquely intertwined. In whatever context, those not having the desire to conceive a child are expected to abstain. The Catholic Church strongly supports sexual intimacy and enjoyment. Just read anything written by JP2. But those participaing in the enjoyment should have the desire for another child on their hearts. That's the Catholic teaching, take it or leave it. But dont tell me celibacy or abstinence is unhealthy, causes pedophilia, or repressed attitudes about sex. Please! This is just more evidence of the gotta-have-it commercialized sex culture we live in.

  71. Great discussion, everyone! I think we've all learned a lot here.

    Hibernatus, I especially wanted to thank you for your historical evidence that you posted a ways up the page. You're the one who comes up with the interesting stuff!

  72. Cvow, I thought you were the one who comes up with the interesting stuff. ;) Anyways, I'm glad someone enjoys reading what I write, I was worried it might be boring for most. :)


  73. Hibernatus, I always enjoy your posts also. Very informative and fact based, I've learned a lot from you!