Should the Christian Brethren be tolerated?

The Sunday Age reported yesterday that the small religious group the Christian Brethren (not, apparently, to be confused with the Exclusive Brethren), is refusing to permit a gay support group, Way Out, to use its camp ground (the pun cannot be avoided).

Way Out is likely to lose its anti-discrimination case before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but I expect that they will be one of the last groups to do so.

Exemptions for religious bodies under anti-discrimination law, which the Brethren will use as their defence in this case, are under sustained attack from human rights advocates, with a review of the Victorian legislation under way, and the federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner also calling for religious and other exemptions to be removed.

Though I doubt the exemptions will long survive, as with The Peel case last year I prefer a tolerance to a rights-based approach to these issues.

A tolerance-based approach does not exempt groups like the Brethren from criticism. I am happy for negative newspaper articles to be published about them, and would be sympathetic to boycotting Brethren businesses if they refuse to deal with groups like Way Out.

But if the Brethren believe that homosexuality is immoral, as Christians have believed for centuries, should the state be forcing them to act against their conscience and permit a gay camp? Should this now near-deviant view on homosexuality be banned as a guide to action?

A rights-based approach that removes anti-discrimination exemptions for religious organisations goes much further than what is required to allow gay people to go about their business. It’s not as if the Brethren have a monopoly on camping grounds (and indeed Way Out found another one). I doubt there is a single service other than religious services themselves where religious groups are the major providers.

It’s not at all clear to me that religious conscience should be valued at zero when there are workable alternatives. That’s the trouble with ‘rights’ – they tend to award complete victory to one group, rather than fostering compromises that allow everyone space to live according to their beliefs.

The young gay men of Way Out are not old enough to remember the time when homosexuality was illegal, but gay men of all people should be reluctant to support state-enforced moral codes rather than an ethos of toleration.

53 Responses to “Should the Christian Brethren be tolerated?

  • 1
    alanc
    September 8th, 2008 08:57

    Tolerance is a paradoxical virtue. You can only really tolerate something if you disapprove of it, but if you genuinely think that something is wrong or evil, then why would you put up with it?

    So in politics it is not too surprising that cries for tolerance sometimes turn out to be tactical rhetoric rather than sincere expressions of principle, i.e. a minority demands to be tolerated as a way of disabling its opposition, until such time as it can get the numbers to impose its own preferred arrangements.

    But I think the inflexibility and lack of respect for individual consciences that you highlight is not intrinsic to a “rights-based” approach. The reason — the USA surely has a legal system in which “rights” play a central role, but the history of its legal decisions on separation of church and state shows a great deal of flexibility (perhaps more so in the past than in recent years, when doctrinaire separationism seems to have gained the numbers

  • 2
    charles
    September 8th, 2008 09:59

    Why should a belief in fairies or whatever your chose to call your spirit exempt you come treating your fellow humans with a bit of respect?

    Remove the exemption and while your at it tax their little service businesses ( fairy tales make you fell good) just as you would tax any other.

  • 3
    Spiros
    September 8th, 2008 11:21

    On the other hand, there is the public interest in making life as annoying as possible for the various species of Brethren.

  • 4
    davidp
    September 8th, 2008 11:26

    I was surprised to see the Christian Brethren described as a conservative sect. My experience with them in the 1970s and 1980s (probably went to that camp!) was that although there were conservative and evangelical individuals (e.g. those believing in a literal interpretation on creation and probably other stuff) amongst them they stood out rather than seeming typical – and there were certainly those that didn’t believe in a literal interpretation. Most of the time it was pretty low key and not obviously particularly conservative compared with other Christian groups I knew of. It is possible they have shrunk (as they were small even then) and become more so over time.

  • 5
    davidp
    September 8th, 2008 11:35

    P.S. To be more concrete they ran a non-denominational Sunday School in our area and were involved in non-denominational youth groups – which doesn’t seem like a conservative sect. I also can’t remember seeing speaking in tongues (and would have remembered this if I had!) They did not discourage members from interacting with people outside of the church (which is not true for at least one or more Christian groups I knew people that belonged to)

    It was also certainly not conservative in the sense of being ritualistic, hierarchical or particularly formal at all compared with some of the large mainstream churches (though I appreciate that could also be said of some conservative sects)

  • 6
    Winton Bates
    September 8th, 2008 12:24

    The pun was delicious – even if it was unavoidable.

    I agree that people should not be forced to act against their consciences just because they are selling services to the public.

  • 7
    Pedro S
    September 8th, 2008 12:55

    Assuming that the CB are made to provide services without regard to their intolerance of homosexuality and that in the future gay marriage is allowed could the precedent be used to force any religion to perform homosexual marriages?

  • 8
    JC
    September 8th, 2008 15:26

    But if the Brethren believe that homosexuality is immoral, as Christians have believed for centuries, should the state be forcing them to act against their conscience and permit a gay camp?

    Doesn’t that actually become an example of state interference in religious affairs? What happens to the separation of church and state under this law?

  • 9
    lomlate
    September 8th, 2008 15:41

    I think the question is: do you support hate crime legislation? I personally don’t.

    If we have a law that says if you are selling a service in a market place you have to offer it to everyone… That doesn’t seem so bad: if for no other reason it fosters competition.

    It’s a tricky situation and I think it’s all about balancing rights. What about the right of the gay group to congregate where everybody else does?

  • 10
    Michael S.
    September 8th, 2008 17:05

    The Bretheren are offering a commercial service, there is no indication that the camp would interfere with the conduct of the commercial service or the Bretheren’s religious observance or practices. The owners would be well within their rights to throw the group off the campground if they violated the rules that other campers had to observe. The only right being infringed on the part of the Bretheren is some ethereal notion of conscience or ick.

    Balance this against the fact that
    -(from lomlate)the right of the gay group to congregate where everybody else does is being infringed
    -while in this case they were able to find another camp, given the nature of holiday booking or the needs of large groups it is possible that they might have been unable to host the event
    -As they chose this place first they might have to accept a less-optimal condition for the camp to proceed somewhere else (such as a less preferred location or greater expense)

    As a more extreme example many private businesses in the deep south in the Jim Crow era were as integral to segregation as governement organisations – it would have surely offended these people’s notion of conscience to allow Blacks to eat at the Lunch counter with whites.

  • 11
    JC
    September 8th, 2008 17:47

    And guess what Michael S segregation is still alive and well in the US. Whites still eat in white establishments and blacks have their own.

  • 12
    Michael S.
    September 8th, 2008 18:51

    And guess what JC, if the government decides that homophobic gob-botherers have to allow people to use their tax-free commercial operation obeying the same conditions that everyone else does there will still be plenty of homophobia in our society.

    That is not to say that the law won’t be of benefit to those who have to put up with this sort of discrimination.

  • 13
    whyisitso
    September 8th, 2008 21:38

    So why not force religious groups to provide facilities to devil worshipping cults. What about forcing Christian groups to provide facilities for infidel-hating Moslem groups. Or even Moslem mosques to provide worshipping space for Christians and other infidels. Where does this all stop.

    What about your footy club – why not force the Magpies to provide space for a BBQ for Bombers and their supporters. Where does it all stop? The answer is NOWHERE.

  • 14
    JC
    September 8th, 2008 21:40

    MichaelS:

    ” god botheres” should have a right to believe what they want to believe. Getting the leftist government to interfere is nothing less than a direct attack of the separation of the church and state.
    So go ahead, choose the path that wrecks the terrific way we have organized our affairs in the past.

  • 15
    JC
    September 8th, 2008 21:41

    ummm on the separation…

  • 16
    JC
    September 8th, 2008 21:45

    Correct W. It can’t stop which is something these separation of church and state wreckers don’t want to admit. But don’t worry it always comes back to bite them in the arse in the end.

  • 17
    Jarryd_The_Student
    September 9th, 2008 07:39

    Look this basically comes down to:

    1. The crazy church group owns the camp ground.
    2. They should have a freedom to associate with however they wish on their camp ground.

    Which naturally equals..
    3. The law should not be used to interfere with the crazy cults freedom to associate with whoever they wish.

    This is coming from a young gay man who runs similar such support groups for young people. In a perfect world dip shits like this wouldn’t be given the status to own property, but until that day I think their freedoms need to be protected with tolerance. From what I remember in the Age article as well they did discriminate fairly “politely”.

  • 18
    entropy
    September 9th, 2008 20:16

    The inevitable result of course will be that the brethren will sell their campground. If they cannot ensure its use is compatible with their beliefs, then they will feel compelled to dispose of it. End result: no campground.

  • 19
    derrida derider
    September 9th, 2008 20:23

    Either they’re running a business or they’re running a church. If the former, then they should pay their taxes and be subject to the same anti-discrimination laws their competitors face (whether those laws are a Good Thing or not is another issue). If the latter, they shouldn’t be turning a profit from their campground.

  • 20
    Jake
    September 9th, 2008 23:07

    Devision and seperation should be attacked and obliterated wherever it raises its ugly head .

  • 21
    John Greenfield
    September 10th, 2008 17:02

    While I think the Exclusive Brethren is vile, it is even viler that the state has the power to tell them who they can and cannot hire their camping ground to. There should be no need for an exemption from ADL. To the Way Out boys, Suck It Up!

  • 22
    tomd
    September 11th, 2008 05:25

    derrida derider beat me to it. What’s the difference between this and a bar proprietor disallowing service to a gay person? There was no suggestion that allowing the camp would have interfered with the running of the CB’s usual religious services, no suggestion that the campers would have been forcing their beliefs down the throats of the CB.

    If they rent the camp out commercially then they lose the right to discriminate in violation of anti-discrimination laws just as the aforementioned hypothetical bar owner can’t refuse to serve a gay patron just because he’s in a homophobic religion. What’s the difference?

  • 23
    Hermit
    October 10th, 2008 21:50

    As a member of the Christian Brethren (not Exclusives), may I say that we do not hate homosexual people. Our God is a God of love and grace, and we are called to love not only our neighbours, but even our enemies.

    The Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is sin. It also teaches that much heterosexuality is also sin (adulery, fornication, lust, etc.). We all have sin problems that we struggle with.

    Man’s law is superceded by God’s law. Whilst we will do all that we can to live within the laws of this country, we must first and foremost seek to obey God’s law. We would not want to rent campsites to swingers or other groups that might engage in sinful sexual activities.

    Was the law to try to enforce evangelical Christian groups to rent camp premises to homosexual or other sinful-sex groups, I think it would be most likely that our premises would simply be no longer available for hire to anyone. They are owned by the churches, and would be kept for the use of the owners only.

    Think about it, would you really like us to sue homosexuals for the right to conduct our religious services in homosexual bars and businesses?

    I think Christians need to tolerate (and value) homosexual people, and we would like non-Christians to tolerate us also.

    (Note: I am in a Christian Brethren fellowship, but speak only for myself – I have no authority to speak for Brethren churches at all. These are only my own views.)

  • 24
    Brian Ward / Fitzroyalty
    October 14th, 2008 10:34

    Tolerated yes, taxpayer subsidised NO. If they refuse to educate their children to their potential in their schools (such as teaching them that university attendance is wrong) then all taxpayer funds should be removed.

  • 25
    sam
    October 14th, 2008 19:23

    being one of the young people who attened the camp I felt very hurt and confused by the actions of the Brethren it felt like a personal attack on who I am as a person (altho that may not have been there intentions) th whole point of the camp was to work together to fight homophobia and to be faced with it befor we even pulled out of the drive way was deverstating and shows all the more need for the camp and altho we did still have the camp (which was evidently held at YMCA camp grounds a christian organisation) its about the principal if an organisation is providing a service to the general community the they have to comply withing the rules of the discrimination act there religouse beliefs which they are entitled to should have no impact in the running of a bussness
    it was blaintent discrimination! and it needs to be addressed if they are aloud to do this to us what is to stop them from doing it to other minority groups like single parents other religions or races there needs to be clear distinctions between religion and buisness!

  • 26
    Hermit
    October 14th, 2008 23:00

    The Brethren do educate their kids quite well, thanks. Many (including two of my own children) do have university degrees.

    The Brethren own campsites as a part of their evangelisation ministry. They do not run them as a business. They do not make a profit from them. They make them available sometimes, usually to other church groups who do not have such facilities of their own.

    I do not have any phobias. I am not afraid of homosexuals. I believe their sexual behaviour is sinful. I think men wanting to poke their penises up other men’s anuses is depraved. According to the Bible, God DOES discriminate against homosexuals, and His law is higher than mans.

    You are committing hate crimes of your own, trying to force Christian people to pander to the wants of depraved unbelievers. Perhaps I can learn how to better tolerate homosexuals by paying attention to the way homosexuals tolerate Christians.

    Homosexuals might just have to get used to the fact that not everyone is going to approve of them. Get over it.

  • 27
    Shem Bennett
    October 15th, 2008 14:54

    Sam, I’m a gay man so while I understand the hurt and confusion, I think I support the right of the Brethren to make their own decisions regarding their own land. But I do think Christian groups should really look at how they treat same-sex attracted groups compared to other groups. I think a Christian group should be allowed to set whatever rules it likes, but I also think “no gays” is an unfair rule and that the rule should be “no unmarried sexual conduct”. If it’s a bunch of teenagers just worried about their sexual orientation can you really call them sinful if all they have is feelings? Yet the same camp-site would probably allow a group of young, unmarried adults to sleep in mixed-sex sleeping arrangements…

    Sexuality should not be important in running a business. Sexual behaviour should. I believe this decision was made on the basis of sexuality rather than sexual behaviour. I think it was a bad decision. I think the decision was wrong, and immoral.

    HOWEVER, I don’t think the government should try and force people to be good or moral people. Because people have different beliefs. I wouldn’t like Christians forcing me to be “moral” so why should I force them to be “moral”? If we don’t want people telling us what we should do, then we can’t tell them what they should do, Sam. That’s hypocrisy.

    But I daresay I agree with Brian Ward’s statements. I believe that organisations that want to claim themselves a “public good or service” (by receiving tax exempt status) need to prove they are providing that good or service to the public. If they only provide the service to a limited number of people in the community their tax exempt status should be looked at seriously…

    Hermit- there is no point citing Biblical references here (of which there are precious few condemning homosexuality broadly), the law of the land needs to be based on reason and sound judgement. You may think God discriminates against homosexuals, I think you are very wrong. Since we disagree, we need a law based on things we can agree on. Like the freedom to believe in different things.

    I’ll happily condemn your inane beliefs as nonsensical and closed-minded. You, in return, call call my behaviour sinful and depraved. You can keep your “holier than thou” camp sites. And I’ll have a fun, exclusive night on the town at The Peel. Sam is hurt by your decision, but he’s not committing a “hate crime”, he is trying to force a certain belief on you, however, which I don’t agree with.

    So learn tolerance from me, not from him. I hope he’ll learn it from me, too.

  • 28
    Hermit
    October 15th, 2008 15:16

    Shem, I can agree with much of what you say. As I understand the rules, they are “no sexual sin as determined in the Holy Bible”. This includes no homosexuality and no unmarried sexual conduct. I do not believe the Brethren would ever make their campsite available if they knew that the group would allow a group of young, unmarried adults to sleep in mixed-sex sleeping arrangements. The Brethren are just as much as against unmarried sex and extra-marital sex as they are against homosexual sex.

    As far as tax exemption goes, if that were to be the lever by which Brethren belief and practice were to be determined by Courts or authorities, then I think we would pretty quickly drop any claim to tax exemption. We’re not a business, we’re not at all interested in making profits.

    I don’t know what tax exemption has to do with Camps – they are not a service we provide to anyone and everyone, they are not a part of why we exist as churches. We could sell every camp ground tomorrow and continue on as before. They are not a service to the public, they are a ministry we conduct and help others conduct where their goals and ours are similar.

    If we have tax exempt status, it is because we are a Christian church, not because we provide services to the public.

    The Bible makes some very strong statements against homosexuality in both Old and New Testaments, and we need only one text that tells us clearly that it is wrong for us to believe that it is wrong. (We are actually Bible believers, you see.)

    As I said in my first post, we do not hate homosexuals, we believe we are called to love them, however in loving them we must warn them that the Bible condemns them and they are in danger of eternal damnation.

    I do not mean to spread hate against homosexuals, I do have homosexual friends myself (and they know my religious convictions).

  • 29
    Hermit
    October 15th, 2008 15:39

    Brian, I know of no Christian Brethren church which is in any way taxpayer-subsidised. Do you? The only money the churches have is the money we, the members, put in, and we have all paid taxes on that already.

    People just wander in making all sorts of unhelpful claims which are entirely without basis.

  • 30
    Shem Bennett
    October 15th, 2008 15:55

    Getting slightly off-topic, Hermit, do the Brethren follow all the restrictions outlined in the Old Testament?

    What about Leviticus 19:27 “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.” (I’m using the King James Version as it’s acknowledged as being the most accurate translation)

    I find a lot of Christian, eager to condemn homosexuality cite Leviticus 18:22, but most seem to miss Leviticus 19:27.

    Romans 1:27 says “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another…” but this is hardly a clear condemnation of homosexual practices- it seems to be a condemnation of lust and sexual depravity. A lot of homosexual behaviour, especially what appears in mainstream media, is lustful and not loving. But I really don’t believe you can take the statement in Romans as applying to a loving committed and (in some nations) married gay couple.

    Leviticus, on the other hand is black and white. But it is as relevant as the laws against beard-trimming. If the Brethen DO practice the law as Leviticus outlined, then I humble submit that there is a Biblical foundation for your views on homosexual activity. But if you do not follow Leviticus entirely, then I honestly think you should take another look at what the Bible really does say.

    Unless- like the Mormons (and some others)- you believe that God speaks through modern-day prophets and that modern-day revelation is as canonical as the Bible. Then there is a case for saying God doesn’t like homosexual behaviour.

    I challenge you (and all Christians) to read the Bible, Hermit and to find the consistencies within. While personally I’m not a fan of the Bible, I really do appreciate Christians and religions that take a consistent stance compared to those that pick and choose the parts of the Bible they believe in.

    You believe you are called to warn of the condemnation told of in the Bible. I believe I’ve been blessed with a strong, logical mind so that I can tell others of the wonder of humanity and the joys that a strong spiritual, but secular society can bring. I’ll also warn of the failings of organised and even unorganised religion and ideology.

    On that front we are totally opposed, even “enemies” if you care to use such a strong term. But I’m glad that when it comes to politics we are united.

  • 31
    Mitchell
    October 15th, 2008 16:14

    Good points Shem – there is some serious cherry picking when using biblical quotation in argument. The bible also condemns those who work on the sabbath, in fact they should be stoned to death, and allows for daughters to be sold into sexual servitude. Do you agree with this Hermit?

    It is impossible to have a meaningful debate based on quoting from a book that is terribly inconsistent and open to innumerable interpretations.

  • 32
    Hermit
    October 15th, 2008 16:19

    Thank you, Shem, for that challenge to read the Bible. I assure you that we do, and we also try to apply it consistently. It is, however, very difficult to adequately discuss a topic such as this in the limited space permitted. I could only give a very broad overview of our beliefs here.

    Let me say first that the Brethren are “Dispensationalists”. We believe that the Bible is completely consistent with itself when understood correctly.

    For example, was Adam permitted to work on the Sabbath (Saturday)? Yes, because the prohibition against working on the Sabbath had not yet been given. All Adam had to do (before he sinned) was to tend the garden, not eat the fruit of one tree, and be fruitful and multiply. Those were the only “laws” given to him by God.

    However, Moses and the generations after him WERE required to rest on the Sabbath, not eat pork, circumcise their male children, and were subject to all the other rules given in Leviticus.

    Later, however, in the New Testament, we find God telling Peter that he could eat pork. Paul says we don’t have to circumcise boys. Why the differences? Because God has required different things from different people groups at different stages of history (different dispensations). There is a reason for this – God has been showing in numerous ways (gradual revelation) that man could not correct his defects or make himself acceptable to God – through using his own conscience, or keeping holy Laws. Only once that was understood, could we see that we needed a Saviour other than ourselves.

    This isn’t made up – it is all there in the Bible. The Levitical law was not intended to create the perfect society, but to prove that such a thing was impossible for men to create by their own efforts. The Levitical Law contains commands that are concerned with physical health, some which are concerned with ceremonial religious practice, and some which are about right and wrong (what is sin and what isn’t).

    Sorry, I’ll have to post again, haven’t touched on Romans yet.

  • 33
    Hermit
    October 15th, 2008 16:50

    God himself doesn’t change. What is moral sin and what isn’t doesn’t change, either. What God has required of men has changed. Once the Jews had shown conclusively that they could not keep the Levitical Law, Christ came, kept it fully, and then released us from it. Although we can’t keep that Law, there is a way for us to be reckoned by God to be “in Christ”. Because He kept the Law, we can be considered to have been set free from it.

    However, sin has always been condemned, and still is. Homosexuality is condemned in both old and new testaments. Now, the passage in Romans, firstly, condemns “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men”, not just homosexuality. However, it very clearly does include homosexuality. You didn’t quote the whole bit …
    “the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due”.
    It clearly says that men stopped engaging in what is the natural use of a woman’s body, instead “men with men committing what is shameful”. If you don’t read homosexuality there, you’re just not being honest. This is after the lesbian mention. The fact that it clearly specifies “the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men” If it were just a statement about lust, there would be no need to mention the genders at all. I am satisfied that this is very clearly a condemnation of homosexuality from the New Testament scriptures, and therefore, my behaviour and practices will be accordingly.

    The Bible is completely consistent if we take the trouble to determine who God is talking to when statements are made. I am not a part of Israel, and I am not under the Jewish Law. This is not “cherry-picking”, but a well-established and honest biblical framework. Read the Bible understanding that the Law didn’t exist until Moses, and then was set aside by Christ for the Christian Church, and you will see everything fall into place.

  • 34
    Brian Ward / Fitzroyalty
    October 15th, 2008 16:57

    The Brethren receive public money for their schools yet fail to provide the kind of education the public expects their money to be spent on, such as encouraging students to achieve their best and making them ready for further study or employment. By banning or discouraging university education (a belief taught in Brethren schools) they should be ineligible for public school funding.

    BTW Hermit, if anal sex is bad why did god give men prostate glands that provide pleasurable feelings from anal stimulation? LOL!

  • 35
    Hermit
    October 15th, 2008 17:49

    The Brethren don’t ban or discourage university education. Brethren schools teach to a very high standard. Many Brethren are doctors, scientists, even university professors. Many of the missionaries we send out have University degrees in medicine. I think you might be talking about one group called Taylorites which many do not even consider Christian. The Open or Christian Brethren have no affiliation with them at all.

  • 36
    Brian Ward / Fitzroyalty
    October 15th, 2008 18:06

    I’m talking about the Exclusive Brethren. See: here and here.

  • 37
    Shem Bennett
    October 15th, 2008 18:41

    So you agree that Leviticus is only binding where it is confirmed by New Testament? I understand the teaching of dispensations, but such a teaching means that the Old Testament Law (like Leviticus 18:22) is only valid when it is “backed up” by the New Testament, in particular the Gospels.

    So really, the entire argument against homosexual sex acts relies on your interpretation of Romans.

    It is speaking out against homosexual acts, I admit, but it is specifically speaking out against unnatural, lustful homosexual acts. In context it was speaking out against the sexual practices that took place in Roman temples dedicated to Roman gods- orgies of wine, sex and gluttony.

    I disagree that this one verse, in isolation, warrants the strong condemnation of homosexuality that we see from the Christian community. If something is only mentioned a few times in the Bible, surely it can’t be that important? God may prefer men with women than with other men, but surely God would rather men being committed with other men than men being promiscuous with other men? I dunno, I’m just not seeing that one verse as justification for putting homosexuality alongside rape and murder as some Christians do.

  • 38
    Hermit
    October 15th, 2008 22:17

    Brian Ward – Yes, you’re talking about one small part of the Exclusive Brethren (the Taylorites). The rest of us are talking about the Open or Christian Brethren. You will see the first couple of lines of the blog say …

    “The Sunday Age reported yesterday that the small religious group Christian Brethren (not, apparently, to be confused with the Exclusive Brethren) …”

    Remove the tax subsidies of their schools all you like, .. the Christian Brethren have no affiliation with them, and this blog post is not about them.

    Shem, I’ll get back onto the Bible’s homosexual references soon.

  • 39
    Brian Ward / Fitzroyalty
    October 15th, 2008 22:34

    Frankly, it gets confusing. All these christians sound the same to me – terrified that someone is having more fun than them and determined to stamp it out…

  • 40
    Hermit
    October 15th, 2008 22:47

    The confusion is understandable. I’d disagree with the “having fun” comment, though. I ride a harley, enjoy sailing, get a complete rush skydiving (but can’t afford it) … I think I’m into fun.

    The thing is, Satan likes to take the good things that God has made for us to enjoy, and distort and twist them into something quite different. Then he tells us that his way is more fun. At the end, though, his promises are empty. Generally, what he promised would be fun just ends up making us sick in our souls.

  • 41
    Hermit
    October 16th, 2008 08:52

    Shem, we don’t throw Leviticus out – we just try to understand it within its dispensational context. We can still learn from it. For example, Paul, in the NT, says physical circumcision is not requried of Christians, but then goes on to talk about a spiritual circumcision. We can perhaps understand what Paul is talking about better by understanding what the OT says about physical circumcision.
    Remember, we said God doesn’t change, and neither does sin. If homosexuality was only prohibited in Leviticus, then the argument could be made that it does not apply to us today. However, because it is also taught in the NT Epistles, then we know that what God says about it in the OT still applies. It is a sin that is prohibited for every dispensation.
    By the way, we believe the dispensation of Law didn’t give way to the “day (dispensation) of Grace” until after Jesus returned to His father in Heaven. Most see the church, and the Day of Grace, starting in Acts 2. Some think it didn’t happen until Acts 9 or even later. Jesus lived and taught during the time of Law, and Himself taught the Law in and outside of the Synagogue.
    Homosexuality is also condemned in 1 Corinthians 6:9 (the NIV puts it more plainly than the KJV). There are probably other passages, too, but I won’t go looking for them just at the moment.

  • 42
    Hermit
    October 16th, 2008 09:15

    With regard to whether homosexuality is as bad as rape or murder, I don’t think it matters. We might like to rate sins according to a scale of “badness”, (usually to perpetuate our own theory that we’re not as bad as others), but to God, ALL sins are horrible. God isn’t going to take good people to heaven, and send bad people to hell. According to the Bible, there are no good people. We are all corrupted by sin. Any sin is a problem. No sin can be allowed in Heaven.
    Here’s your problem, as I see it … you can argue with God your whole life, if you want, as to whether homosexuality is a sin or not. The bad news is, I don’t think you’re going to change His mind, and ultimately He is the One that is going to judge you.
    Or, you can take God’s offered “way of escape”, and become a (born-again) Christian.
    To be “saved”, you have to stop arguing and agree with God that you are a sinner. You have to repent. Basically, that’s saying to God “Ok, I’m a sinner. Most of what I do is sin. In my very being I am corrupted by sin. With your help, I want to turn away from sin and live in a way that pleases you. I want you to work in me, to produce righteousness in me. I give my life to you. Please save me by your grace. I accept and put my faith in what the Lord Jesus Christ did for me on the cross at Calvary.”
    And if you really mean it, then you will be saved from all your sin.
    However, you will continue to struggle with sin, including sexual sin, throughout your life. We all do. Sometimes we will please God, and sometimes we will fall. God will always forgive us when we turn back to Him.

  • 43
    Hermit
    October 16th, 2008 11:59

    Mitchell, Please provide the reference to where the Bible permits daughters to be sold into sexual servitude. Until you do, I will contend that it simply isn’t there. Scripture has to be understood within its textual context (the other verses around it), what other scriptural passages say on the same subject, and of course within its dispensational context too.

    The Bible records many bad things that have happened. The fact they’re in the Bible doesn’t mean God approves of them. The Law given to Moses was not setting a perfect standard of righteousness. They were simply a set of laws for men to measure themselves against, so that we would recognise that we can’t make ourselves acceptable to God by keeping a set of Laws.

    Further, many of the OT Laws were simply putting a cap on some of mankind’s worst excesses.

    When God establishes His perfect world, there will be no slavery. What is sometimes referred to as slavery in the OT was nothing like the slavery that existed from Africa in recent centuries. It was more like a contracted employment. A defined period during which person A would work for person B for a stated wage.

    There was never any suggestion in the Bible that this was a “sexual servitude”. The Bible clearly states that sexual immorality is always wrong. Therefore, we can’t read between the lines to infer that verses about servitude include sexual activity.

  • 44
    Mitchell
    October 16th, 2008 18:56

    KJ Exodus 21:7 “And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.”

    Hermit – I don’t think you have adequately addressed Shem’s point.
    To hold such strident views against homosexuality, which appears inconsistent with the notions of tolerance apparently preached by Jesus, I would expect a relatively high level of certainty as justification.
    You haven’t been able to adequately demonstrate this in the new testament, and so have suggested that it is sometimes OK to look back to the old testament for guidance. But this is my point about cherry picking – I think the decision on when to invoke the old testament is more based on the outcome you wish to achieve than a supposed consistent reading of the text.

  • 45
    Hermit
    October 17th, 2008 03:44

    Mitchell,

    Are you looking at the same web page as me?

    I would have thought it was your side that was cherry-picking. In Genesis 2, long before the Law was given, God says His design from the outset was for a man to be joined to a woman, and they are to become one flesh. In Leviticus, God says to those who were under the Law, that homosexuality is sin. In Romans, God says to those under Grace, that homosexuality is sin. I Corinthians 6:9.10 weighs in with this: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” Now if you want to tell God when you are being judged that homosexuality is ok, good luck with that. Myself, I believe there’s enough there to determine that homosexuality is wrong no matter what dispensation you live in.

    I simply fail to see how you can think the text in Romans 1 is not a definite statement of God’s hatred for the sin of homosexuality. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness … For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful”.

    And 1 Corinthians 6 seems quite plain to me – if you are a homosexual, you are not going to inherit the Kingdom of God. You won’t be in heaven. This is a pretty good indication that homosexuality is sin.

    To me, it is a no-brainer. It is obvious to me that the penis was designed by God to work with the vagina, to produce pleasure, intimacy, and offspring. That is the “natural use” of the male and female organs. Abandoning the natural use is perverting what God intended for us. To do so is condemned in both the Dispensation of Law and the Dispensation of Grace.

    That it is God’s design is apparent from Genesis 2: “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him … Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. This passage was written long before the Law was given to Moses.

    This isn’t cherry-picking. This is reading the Bible and accepting what it says. Once again, Romans is quite clear. I don’t see how any honest person can read Romans 1 and truthfully conclude that homosexuality is alright with God. If you do, I think you are making a very grave mistake, and I think its consequences will be devastating. I’m sorry for you.

    I think you over-state Jesus’ tolerance. Jesus loves sinners. He hates sin. He never, not once, ever, says to a sinner “That’s ok, keep sinning, I don’t mind.” Not once. In fact, He very blunty warns many of hellfire. And why would He tolerate sin? He was on His way to the cross, to die for those sins.

    If homosexuals want to twist the Bible texts into saying something quite different to what the words on the paper actually say, they may do so. I know they are being dishonest, and God knows they are being dishonest.

  • 46
    Shem Bennett
    October 17th, 2008 09:02

    There are plenty of straight Christian ministers that share my interpretation, Hermit. But I don’t even believe in God or hell, so I don’t really care if a mythological character says I’m going to a mythological place.

    It’s like me worrying about Hades sending me to Tartarus. It’d be an irrational fear for me to have.

  • 47
    sam
    October 17th, 2008 10:08

    the bible is a fairytale book writen by man if god didnt want homosexuals to exisit the he shouldnt of created us. We are HIS creation. as for the matter at hand they do run the grounds as a comercial busness they hire it out to other groups all the time for example they hired it out to 300 police men and women so they could attent the gran prix just as as social event! and there is no indication on there website that they have anything to do with The CYC camps or the Christian Brethren and as for all you bible bashing homophobes out there grow up and get a life where going to be here wether you like it or not and its people like you that make life for young gay people all the more harder did you know that the suicide rate amongst gay youth is 4 to 6 times higher and the rate of risky behavior like substance abuse is higher and and the mian factor in youth homlesness is sexualtiy… you all preach about love and acceptance well its time to stop preaching and start doing!

  • 48
    Shem Bennett
    October 17th, 2008 22:47

    Sam, did you read my first post above?

    I totally agree with you that the exclusion was stupid, but do you understand why I think they should be allowed to do stupid things like exclude you?

  • 49
    Hermit
    October 26th, 2008 00:35

    Sam, you may think the Bible is a fairytale book. This is probably due to your spiritual blindness, and the fact that the Bible is revealed to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and you do not have Him. The Bible is a wonderful book of truth, with an amazing depth of wisdom. It was “written” by some forty men who lived over several thousand years, most of whom did not meet or know each other, and yet it has an amazing unity from start to finish.

    It is a poor argument to say that if God didn’t want homosexuals He shouldn’t have created you. We ALL have a sin nature from the moment of conception. Many are born with horrible diseases and deformities. How we are born says nothing about how God wants us to be.

    I do not know about this particular camp. I have tried to explain my view that the camps are run PRIMARILY as a Christian ministry. Yes, they are made available to others, usually other churches, though probably others also. The money received would do little more than pay the costs of wages and upkeep of the premises. I believe Brethren churches do not own these camps for the purpose of making a profit, and I believe would rather cease making them available to others than be forced by the courts to allow groups who practice sinful sex to use them.

    And all you religion-bashing Christophobes out there should pull your head in with your hate speech. It’s wasn’t us that started this discussion with a headline like “Should the homosexuals be tolerated?”, now, was it.

    I don’t believe it is us who make life hard for young homosexuals, or contribute to their suicide rate, either. I think they know deep in their heart that the choice they’ve made is an abomination to God and is a wicked perversion of what God intended in his gift of sex to men and women.

    Yes, we do preach about love and acceptance. God loves you. We are trying to love you too, though no doubt imperfectly. Acceptance with God, however, depends on repentance of sin and a turning to God for salvation. God says that, not us. No exceptions.

  • 50
    Hermit
    October 26th, 2008 01:12

    Shem, with regard to straight Christian ministers who agree with your interpretation … the Bible is clear that this will happen in the last days:

    ” … there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1

    “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15

    “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

    I agree that not believing in God is your best position. Making the Bible approve of homosexuality is always going to be a stretch – no honest person would be convinced. In fact. God seems to say in the Romans passage that failure to believe in God is a precursor to becoming homosexual.

    “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, … Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves … For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” Romans 1: 20-22, 24, 26-28.

    Perhaps it means that if you believe there is a God, you will see the design evident in creation, and understand that the man and woman’s bodies are very obviously designed to work with each other. If you choose not to retain the knowledge of God, then you’re right – you exist by sheer chance, there is no order and no purpose, you might as well do whatever you want because this is all there is.

    Of course, the Bible says:

    “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Psalm 14:1
    and
    “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.” Psalm 53:1

    So you think we are stupid – the Bible says you’re a fool. This isn’t to insult you – you are taking a foolish position, and one which will lead to your own destruction.

    With regard to the exclusion of homosexuals being stupid, can I point out that we serve God, and He says:

    “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:11

    “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. ” 2 Corinthians 6:17

    “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

    Again, we must serve God, rather than conform to the wants and opinions of those who deny God and practice wicked sins.

    Finally, we don’t really mind your hating us. It assures us that we are on the right track …

    “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” Luke 6:22-23.

    and

    “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:18-19.

    I think perhaps we have exhausted this topic, but thanks for the discussion, and I hope you have been able to understand our position a little better. I also hope and pray that you might one day come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord.

  • 51
    Shem Bennett
    October 26th, 2008 19:01

    Hermit, how do you know those passages about false prophets are not speaking about you and your kind?

    All I can say is that reading in a book that the self-same book is true is not convincing.

    I’m not going to hell because no such place exists. You might believe the words the book has written in it, but I don’t think that makes me a fool…

  • 52
    Hermit
    October 26th, 2008 19:07

    I know I am not a false prophet because what I am saying is what the book says. In fact, I’m just pointing out what the book says.

    If the book is right, and there is a hell, then I suggest that in a coming day you will think you have certainly been a fool.

  • 53
    Hermit
    October 26th, 2008 19:17

    I agree with you that it is not convincing to argue that you should believe the Bible because the Bible says it is true. But I am sure you are very well aware of the dozens, if not hundreds, of logical and reasonable arguments that can be put forward to support the truth of the Bible as the true Word of God.