'Sodomy': responding to a critic...

It's taken a while to get around to it, but here are a few responses to one reader, James', comments on the two earlier posts, "Why 'sodomite' instead of 'gay' or 'homosexual'?" and "What exactly is "unnecessary offense to the Gospel?" I realize this discussion has been drawn out over quite a bit of time, but that's the nature of this wonderful time of year called "summer." Things take longer because other things interrupt. And I've been loving the interruptions.

So now, on with the responses.

James writes: In the comments section of the first post Mr. Bayly attempts to address comments made on another blog that he "did not take Sodom's explicitly stated sins very seriously." After reading the entirety of his post and what followed, it seemed very obvious that the person who made that comment was referring to Mr. Bayly's nearly complete ignoring of the Ezekiel text and almost total exaltation of the Jude text.

James, my purpose in what I've written has never been to give an historical analysis of all the sins of Sodom for which she was judged. Rather it has been to defend the church's historic use of the word 'sodomy' to designate same-sex carnal relations, and to establish that this was one of Sodom's central sins according to the text of Holy Scripture.

Homosexualists have spent decades promoting a revisionist interpretation of the Genesis account, seeking to remove sodomy from the list of sins God judged when He destroyed Sodom. And to that end, they emphasize all the sins of Sodom that have nothing to do with sexual immorality.

But again, my purpose is not to analyze Sodom and her sins. Rather, it's to defend the church's historic usage of the terms 'sodomy,' 'sodomitic,' and 'sodomite' as being faithful to the text of Scripture. That's what's under attack.

No one has ever denied the other sins of Sodom...

Rather homosexualists have sought to destroy any linguistic connection between God's destruction of Sodom and same-sex sexual sin.

Think about it: why on earth would I spend time arguing that Sodom was also guilty of the sin of pride when, so far as I can tell, there's absolutely no one denying it? But millions are denying that Sodom was guilty of sodomy, so that's where we should focus our defense.

James writes: Repeatedly in this blog, Mr. Bayly has said he is absolutely certain that God's judgment on Sodom was because of homosexuality, just as HIV/AIDS is "absolutely" God's judgment on homosexuality today.

James' quote marks seem to settle the matter but a search in the "Sodomy" subject archive of this blog will show he made up his quote.

Still, if the actual quotation is fake, did he get the sense of it right?

Well actually, it's not me but my brother, David, who has been most explicit on this subject. Here's the most pertinent post:

David wrote:Those who deny the connection between human catastrophe and divine judgment often throw out the presence of "innocents" among the victims of catastrophe as proof the catastrophe could not be related to judgment.

As a hemophiliac who saw half the hemophiliacs of his generation die from AIDS (contracted from exposure to contaminated blood), I have little trouble making that connection.

By God's grace I was spared that illness, though I did receive another blood-born disease (HCV) often linked to illicit behaviour. Nor do I hesitate to view HCV as God's judgment on sexual profligacy and drug addiction.

But had I come down with AIDS, that would not have lessened the obvious link between AIDS and God's judgment on sodomy. Jonah's shipmates weren't running from God yet they suffered God's judgment on his sin. Nor were Lot's sons-in-law Sodomites in the transitive sense of the verb. But they died with those who were.

Few of the hemophiliacs I knew who died of AIDS would have hesitated to link AIDS to sodomy. In fact, I suspect some of their families resented sodomites for spreading the disease and selling blood which infected others with their disease. Nor would those who were Christians have blinked at understanding AIDS as divine judgment on sodomy.

Finally, had I come down with AIDS, it would have been quite possible to understand it as God's work in my life calling me away from sin. Indirectly, it could have been judgment. Indirectly, my HCV is judgment. It is the product of sin in general, and of my own sin in particular. God is chastising me as a son in accord with His promise in Hebrews 12. But it is not direct judgment of a sinful act.

When God allows the act of sin itself to carry with it the penalty of death, the man who denies any link to divine judgment is simply a fool.

Again, like my defense of the church's historic use of the words 'sodomy' and 'sodomites', David is seeking to defend the church's historic teaching that God is active in this world and our lives not only in mercy, but also in judgment. And since few are denying His mercy, it remains for us to defend the breach in the wall--namely, His judgment. And here's the most explicit statement David makes:

When God allows the act of sin itself to carry with it the penalty of death, the man who denies any link to divine judgment is simply a fool.

So James, is David right or wrong?

But James doesn't argue that David's wrong. Instead he assumes that David is wrong, assuming also that those reading his comments will be as offended as he is that such a thing is even uttered in this late day.

Arguments today are not settled by logic, but rather by sympathetic associations. The man who does the best job of manipulating his readers' sympathies gets the win.

But not here on this blog, James. This place is dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ and His timeless truth written in His Word, the Bible. And that means you can't win here simply by arousing sympathies and portraying your own angst and pain. You must demonstrate the truth of what you write from Scripture.

Does this mean that we don't care about your pain? No. We care very, very much. We have sympathy and grieve for you as we have for ourselves and many others caught in the web of Satan's deceit.

Yet it is precisely that sympathy and grief that causes us to warn you away from the sin of sodomy, and to remind you that the connection between male sodomy and AIDS is one of the clearest examples given to us today of the truthfulness of the Holy Spirit's statement:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7,8).

So repent, dear brother, before it's too late and the preliminary judgment of God resident in STDs changes into the eternal judgment of God resident in Hell.

James writes: (I'm) not trying to attack Christians (but) to examine whether or not they truly are living as Christ would toward homosexuals.

If you, James, have chosen sodomy over Jesus and if all your friends are sodomites, as you report to us, it seems crazy for you to undertake educating those who do call themselves Christians concerning what approach our Lord would take towards sodomites.

When we find out that you think Jesus would be more gentle and helpful and considerate and non-judgmental than you falsely report concerning His followers, should any of us be shocked?

It's not a seminary-trained unrepentant sodomite that I want teaching me how to approach sodomites evangelistically, but rather a non-seminary trained and repentant former sodomite who now loves and obeys Jesus.

James writes: There is a subtle arrogance ...where we ...assume we know what God's motives are or were in a particular situation. Mr. Bayly assumes that God's primary ...motivation for destroying Sodom was because of same-gender male sex. However, nowhere does Scripture indicate that God's motivation was homosexuality (neither primarily nor exclusively).

"Nowhere does Scripture indicate" God judged Sodom for its sodomy? Get real, James. There's a good reason no one in church history agrees with you--that is, until sodomites started repeating such sophistry in the past twenty years or so. Scripture is absolutely clear that sodomy is at the center of the Sodomites' wickedness:

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. ...Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them."

But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly." (Genesis 19:1a, 4-7)

To engage in male sexual relations is to "act wickedly." Yes, by pursuing this perversion in the way they did, they were also acting in an arrogant and inhospitable way, but it's the perversion of same-sex carnal relations that the Church has always recognized as the center of the Sodomites' sin. And in case we missed it in Genesis 19, the Holy Spirit clarifies it at the end of Scripture:

...just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 7)

The Sodomites "acted wickedly" by "indulging in gross immorality" and going "after strange flesh." Man with woman equals normal flesh; man with man equals "strange flesh" and "gross immorality."

James writes: We are taught, when interpreting the Bible, that clear passages should assist us in determining those that are less clear. So, let us suppose we are approaching the Bible and asking, "What was the sin of Sodom? Why did God destroy that city?" Wonderfully (or inconveniently, depending on your perspective), God has given us one of the most clear, direct answers to that He possibly could have given.

I agree, and here is that silver bullet text James is looking for:

...Sodom and Gomorrah ...indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh (and) are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 7)
James writes: ...we should not use the term 'Sodomite' to refer to homosexuals (because) it is an extra-biblical term used when biblical terms are quite sufficient and more precise.

The word 'Sodom' appears in both the Old and New Testaments, forty-seven times in all. And you say it's "extra-biblical"?

The name of the city most notorious in world history for same-sex carnal relations, and also most notorious in world history as an example of God's wrath and judgment, becomes the name of those who act and do as the Sodomites acted and did. City named in Scripture; sinful behavior described in Scripture; God's wrath and judgment of this city and her behavior recorded in Scripture; name and behavior clomped together and used throughout church history.

Adding a 'y' or 'ite' to 'Sodom' doesn't make the words 'sodomy' and 'sodomite' "extra-biblical." Each of these words comes straight from the Bible.

James writes: According to Mr. Bayly, these translators (of 1Corinthians 6:9 in the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, the New Living Translation, and the New King James Version) by using the term "homosexuals," have not been "faithful witnesses to our Lord and His Truth."

I've never written or said anything remotely like what James here claims since I've never given any thought to whether 'homosexual' is a good translation of the Greek word 'arsenokoites' in 1Corinthians 6:9. But since he's raised the question, let's look at the meaning of this word as defined by the most respected lexicons used by Bible scholars today:

The Greek 'arsenokoites' translated by 'homosexual offenders' in 1Corinthians 9 and 'perverts' in 1Timothy 10 is defined in Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon as "one who lies with a male as with a female, a sodomite." Further, in Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich define 'arsenokoites' as: "a male who practices homosexuality, pederast, sodomite."

Note well that both lexicons of biblical Greek use the term 'sodomite' to define the Greek word 'arsenokoites'.

Honestly, what more can I say?

James writes: If Christ were here today, it is likely he would receive criticism on this blog for being a "friend of homosexuals." I understand that my saying that will undoubtedly cause offense, but please know I don't say it with a critical nor condescending attitude. But I do sincerely believe it to be true. For, just as the Pharisees in Christ's day criticized Him for being a friend of prostitutes and sinners and would never have dreamed of having such close and consistent contact with those folks, most fundamentalists today have little or no contact with those in homosexual lifestyles. And I'm not talking about the token counselees or work associates. I'm asking, have you or anyone like-minded you know, ever been so involved in showing the love of Christ to homosexuals that the hypocrites piously looked down their noses and assigned you that label which, while intended to be disparaging, was exalted to honor by the One who wore it first: "friend of homosexuals." Would you allow yourself to get that close? I'm afraid that, from what I have seen on this blog, that would be very unlikely.
Then too, James also writes: (With Bayly) almost no emphasis is given to exhort, challenge, and encourage Christians to reach out to the hurting ones.

Before James made this accusation, I preached a sermon that directly bears on this matter. So may I encourage readers to please go to our church web site and download the July 23, 2006 sermon titled, "He Deceives Himself."

For three decades, now, I've worked with people tempted by same-sex intimacy, both male and female. Some are now happily married with children; some still single. Some have been given victory over this temptation by the Holy Spirit; some still struggle daily; and others are falling--right now. All of us at Church of the Good Shepherd love these brothers and sisters, and we'll continue to love them. In fact, when we had a man in town who worked full time with the sodomite community calling them out of their sin, he sent them to our church because he knew we would love and accept them with open arms.
But should this be a surprise to James? Absolutely not.

He claimed to have read the pieces on sodomy on this blog. But those pieces make it clear that it is love for sodomites and a heart-felt desire to see them repent that is the basis of all we've written on the subject.

If James hasn't seen this love, it's because he's more interested in justifying his sin and his hardened heart than in repentance returning to the Shepherd of his soul. Well, like Paul Simon put it, "a man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest."

But for the record, here is the end of a piece I posted to this blog on April 4, 2006. The piece is titled, "Sodomy and Pastoral Care," and I'm hopeful it will communicate what is the heart of my concern in this matter.

But it must be remembered that the modern morass of sexual immorality didn't happen overnight; it was in the making for decades as Christian leaders chose personal job security over church discipline. Those of us who are pastors bear a large portion of responsibility for the horrible mess Christians find themselves in today for we have failed to "preach the Word, in season and out of season." We have failed to "correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience..." (II Timothy 4:2)

After years of overlooking fornication, followed by years of remarrying adulterers, is it any wonder the church is now filled with sodomites crying out for equal time? How can we deny them when we have refused to exercise God's judgment against sins such as divorce, fornication, abortion, and the love of money within the church?

No, we must return to God's way, to God's Word, and proclaim the wickedness of all sin, not just the sin that is still disliked by our flock. We must condemn the sins of our evangelical flocks or we will have no integrity.

Finally, it must be remembered that although "the wages of sin (are) death" the "gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." There is no sin beyond the power of the blood of Jesus. No sin. None.

Therefore it follows that we should love sinners, caring for them tenderly. If Jesus came "to seek and to save that which was lost," surely today He would sit down to eat with intravenous drug users, sodomites, and other notorious sinners. And surely we should, too.

If conservatives expect the church to listen to Scriptural arguments against the endorsement of sodomitic relations, then as we proclaim God's Word on these matters we must have good works that are evident and commend our leadership to all.

Let a call go out from evangelicals within the PC(USA) to raise up churches, pastors, and individual families who are ready and willing to serve the AIDS patients, in death as well as in life, before repentance as well as after repentance. And let's follow St. Augustine's charge: "With love for mankind and hatred for sins." Sodomy is sin, but it's forgivable.

All of us live by grace.

Comments

> James' quote marks seem to settle the matter
> but a search in the "Sodomy" subject archive
> of this blog will show he made up his quote.

In all fairness to James, it is possible he remembered David's post but (human memory being faulty) had thought you were the one who wrote it. I think you're jumping a little too quick to accuse him of making things up.

As to David's point, I agree. Yes, God judges for sin directly. I have a weak stomach. I also have a problem with anger. When I allow myself to wallow in my anger over something (whether mundane or serious) I get sick. I have to turn away from anger, bitterness and hate because God commands it and also for my own physical health. I don't think God's commandment and the consequenses for my sin are unrelated.

Maybe, Scott, but I take quote marks to mean either irony or direct quotation, and James isn't even quoting David.

Again, it could be a memory issue - James thought he remembered the word "absoutely" being used, but was wrong. That means he is sloppy in double-checking his facts, not that he's making things up.

Wow, I guess I really jumped in with both feet on this one. I hope I can clarify a few things here.

I will try to answer most of your points in order as you address them, but I think I had better begin with two items in particular:

a. I will be the first person to admit that there are some very sensitive spots in my mind and heart concerning believers' (particularly fundamentalists) treatment of homosexuals and homosexuality. Obviously nobody here would argue with me that it was wrong for my former pastor to make the statement that America would be better off if we just rounded up all the queers (his term used from the pulpit) and put them on an island somewhere. It is coming from a church of that ilk that has probably contributed to my tendency to be hyper-vigilant (or plain-old uptight) against any sort of un-Christlike attitude towards those struggling with homosexual attractions, and I know I fail more than I want to admit by finding fault where little or none exists, and where grace would certainly overlook what I perceive to be a personal slight. So, to the extent that I have overstated my points or used inflammatory or inaccurate language directed toward those involved with this blog, I apologize and ask for your forgiveness and your patience.

But having said that, I hope you will recognize that nowhere in any comment I have made have I sought to justify homosexual activity. In fact, repeatedly I attempted to clarify that very point, (a) stating that I was not trying to "support anything that is Biblically indefensible", (b) explicitly calling homosexuality a sin - "Certainly homosexuality was among the sins mentioned in that city, and certainly the judgment of the city included judgment on that sin", (c) agreeing that homosexuality is implicit in the Ezekiel passage - "You could legitimately (and likely should) include homosexuality in the mention of 'detestable things'", (d) speaking of "[standing] with Scripture on the teaching of the sin of homosexuality", and so on over and over again.

And then, in the final four paragraphs of my first comment, I thought I explained rather clearly that God is beginning to do a work of repentance in my heart that has been long coming. I stated, in part, "He used a series of circumstances, one after another after another, to bring me so low that I could not lift my head again. And it was then that I saw He was there, the shepherd calling out to this one lost sheep who had wandered away." So please understand this is not a "seminary-trained unrepentant sodomite" writing these things, trying to justify the sinful actions of my recent past. It is true that I am in a place where I am surrounded by gay friends, but I am just at the very early part of this journey. That is why I read your blog in the first place, hoping to see if maybe some Christians might be an encouragement.

b. Second, concerning the word "absolutely" and all the fallout concerning that. Here I must admit inadvertent fault. I used the quotation marks there, not intending to communicate a direct quote, but rather hoping to place emphasis, since I do not know how to do italics or underlining on these comment boxes. It was not a fake, made-up quote nor a false report of God's servants, and to the extent I erred, I accept responsibility and ask your forgiveness. Please know it was not intentional, and I will attempt to be more precise in the future. Also, until your response here, I had not fully noted that the two brothers alternately wrote the various articles here. Now that you point it out, I recall seeing the picture of the two of you on the first page, but since I have never met you nor know much about you, it just didn't click in my mind that there were two different authors. So again, no misrepresentation was made intentionally, and I apologize for my ignorance there. I am glad to see that at least some did not take it that way, but hopefully this will clarify for the rest.

Now, concerning your response, which I will attempt to address concisely but thoroughly.

1. You said that your purpose in these posts has been "to defend the church's historic use of the word 'sodomy' to designate same-sex carnal relations, and to establish that this was one of Sodom's central sins according to the text of Holy Scripture."

Just to clarify again, my purpose in commenting has never been to seek acceptance of or approval for same-sex relations. Believe me, there was a time in which that was my goal. I attempted every sort of textual gymnastics I could come up with to justify the sin that so often beset me. But, although I came to the conclusion that the church throughout much of history has had a view of this sin that is out of balance with Scripture's emphasis, I simply could not be honest with Scripture and say same-sex physical intimacy is acceptable. So, my purpose for commenting has been to plead for a more helpful approach in our terminology and communication, not to seek a watered-down version of the truth. I am not trying to "to remove sodomy from the list of sins God judged when He destroyed Sodom." I actually make the point several times that homosexuality is sinful and was present in Sodom.

But, my point of disagreement comes over the terminology. By seeking to encourage Christians not to use the term "sodomy," I am hoping that we could see that it is a term that creates an unnecessary tension in our presentation of truth to unbelievers, violating the principle that we should be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt 10:16, a verse that, interestingly enough, follows a reference to Sodom). When Christ sent his disciples out in Matthew 10, He recognized that the message they were carrying would cause offense. Anytime we are told that what we are doing is wrong, our sin nature grates against that. And Christ recognized that there are many wolves out there trying to destroy the sheep, who will jump at any inconsistency in our presentation of the truth to try to undermine that truth. So, while recognizing the need to be discerning about the motivations of the wolves (being "wise as serpents"), He also addressed the importance of not giving a foothold to them by being unnecessarily offensive ("harmless as doves"). It is not an exhortation to water down the message; instead, it is a realization that the offense of the Gospel should be because of the message itself, not because of the method of presentation by the messenger. This is why, when speaking of our interaction with those who are unbelievers in Colossians 4:5-6, Paul emphasized that, beyond just a cookie-cutter presentation of the truth, it is essential that Christians make the most of every opportunity: "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." So, to the end of making the most of every opportunity, Paul emphasized the importance of choosing our words carefully, infusing them with grace, and while never compromising the truth, always seeking to make the truth as attractive and appealing as possible ("seasoned with salt"). It is not a vice to avoid a term that is (a) extra-biblical, (b) unnecessary to communicate the truth of Scripture without compromise, and (c) which, by its use, can cause the hearer to be less receptive to the core truth being presented because of its imprecision.

2. Next, in reference to my side comment about the link between HIV/AIDS and God's judgment specifically on homosexuality. As I stated earlier, my use of quotation marks unintentionally communicated attribution of the word "absolutely" to you when I intended only emphasis of the word, and I also failed to recognize that the comments made in the previous post were by your brother rather than yourself (that post that you reproduced, by the way, was the primary one I had in mind when making the comment). But unfortunately, in the ensuing paragraphs, the point I had attempted to make was nearly entirely lost in the attacks on my integrity and supposed emotional manipulation. Here is the substance of what I said:

"Is there a Scripture passage that states that HIV/AIDS is God's judgment on homosexuality specifically or exclusively? Has God revealed to us today WHY in the 1960's or 70's he allowed this disease to rise up? One may say that it makes good logical sense to assume these things, but is it ever our place as humans to assign motive to God's working in nature? Can I say a tsunami in Malaysia is God's judgment on Islam? It makes sense perhaps, but who am I to make that determination? Who am I to claim to know the mind of God?"

This is, again, an appeal for balance and precision in our discussions. In regard to HIV/AIDS, there are some things I assumed to be obvious. First, God certainly can and does use disease as a judgment upon sin. From Miriam's leprosy to Elymas' blindness, Scripture gives many examples of explicit judgment upon specific sins by means of disease. We also see disease as judgment for general unbelief and sinfulness, as in the boils on the people of Egypt. And there is no reason to think that God does not use disease today as a judgment against sins. However (and this was my argument), we do not have Spirit-inspired Scripture to tell us today which specific disease is judgment against which specific sin. Consider the following:

[i] If we appeal to Romans 1:27 for our justification for the claim that we know with certainty that HIV/AIDS is God's specific, special judgment upon homosexuality specifically or exclusively, and that that verse is proof, then what was the meaning of that verse before 1980? Paul's statement was not future tense. So what was the penalty that Paul was speaking about? I believe it must be something other than a disease that would not show up for over 1,900 years. Personally, I believe Paul speaks of something deeper and more damaging than a mere illness. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 give us a sense of this when Paul speaks of sexual sin as being against one's own body. The context of that passage speaks of the union of the physical bodies of husband and wife as representative of Christ's union with His church. To say that Paul's concern is just potential illness would be totally removed from the emphasis of the passage. Rather, I believe he spoke of that damage that one causes when he gives himself physically to that which is unholy. It is a sin against himself, against that picture that God has intended here on earth to represent the future completion in Heaven. Anytime I participated in homosexual activity, I tore a piece of myself and left it behind. I sinned against my own body, and although God has spared me from physical disease, I will carry within myself for the rest of my life the penalty for my error. This seems to be a much more true and consistent interpretation of Romans 1:27.

[ii] If we insist that HIV/AIDS is direct judgment against homosexuality, consistency in our logic would require us to say that diabetes is God's direct judgment against intemperance in eating, that skin cancer is God's direct judgment against sunbathing, and that athlete's foot is God's direct judgment against poor personal hygiene. I don't say this to be silly, but the mere fact of a disease frequently being present among a particular group of people is not sufficient for us to claim to know God's mind as to the purpose of that disease.

[iii] It is unwise not only to claim that we know God's motive for disease being judgment upon a particular sin when God has not told us that that specific disease was designed for that specific purpose, but also it is unwise for us to insist that a particular disease is intended by God as judgment at all. God does not use disease only for the purpose of judgment. Think of the man in John 9 that Jesus healed who was born blind. The disciples asked Jesus whose sin the blindness was judgment upon. But Jesus said the disease was not judgment at all, but rather was intended to bring glory to God. There we specifically have Christ saying that disease was not only not direct judgment; it was in fact not even indirect judgment against sin. Another example, though perhaps not quite as explicit, would be Paul's blindness on the road to Damascus. In the midst of one of the most beautiful demonstrations of God's mercy in all of Scripture, as He transformed the heart of one of his most ardent opponents, did he blind Paul with the intent of judging him for some sin, directly or indirectly? I think not. Instead, God just used the blindness to bring Paul together with Ananias and those who would disciple him in the early days following his conversion.

[iv] It is not homosexuality that spreads HIV/AIDS. It is promiscuous sexual activity, regardless of whether it is homosexual or heterosexual in nature. I don't want to be inappropriately blunt here, but the fact is that two homosexual men in a committed relationship will not develop nor transmit HIV due to their sexual activities. The reason HIV is associated with homosexuality is not because of the act of same-sex intimacy itself; it is because so many homosexual men live promiscuous lifestyles, sleeping with multiple partners over their lifetime. If homosexual men were each to be intimate with only one other man for life, HIV would disappear from the gay world altogether even though their homosexual activity did not stop. So, David Bayly's comment which you reproduced, "When God allows the act of sin itself to carry with it the penalty of death, the man who denies any link to divine judgment is simply a fool", is imprecise in its speaking of "the act of sin" being simply homosexual intimacy alone.

[v] Galatians 6:7-8 ("Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.") does not support the argument either. Paul is clearly contrasting opposite choices (sowing to the flesh vs. sowing to the Spirit) with opposite consequences (reaping corruption vs. reaping life everlasting). But, the opposite of "life everlasting" is not physical disease; rather, it is spiritual death. In fact, the Greek word "phthora" that is translated as "corruption" speaks of moral decay and, ultimately, eternal separation from God.

Now, having said all that, I think I need to reiterate, I am not justifying homosexual intimacy. Nor am I saying that God cannot or does not use HIV/AIDS as judgment against homosexual activity. My only purpose in my comment before was to appeal for caution in assuming that we have knowledge of God's specific motives in a particular situation (simply because it seems to us to be an "obvious link") when He has not given us explicit statement to tell us that is his motive. This was not intended to be a major point of my argument (thus the brief single paragraph in my comment specifically identified as "one small caveat"). However, your lengthy response to the paragraph necessitated this explanation.

Sadly, rather than reading my comment carefully, by which it would have been clear that I never claimed that HIV/AIDS is not God's judgment on homosexuality (but rather that it is simply not our place to make that claim on the basis of human logic), you instead now assumed you knew my motivation for the statement that you inaccurately seem to think I was making. You said, "James doesn't argue that David's wrong. Instead he assumes that David is wrong, assuming also that those reading his comments will be as offended as he is that such a thing is even uttered in this late day." Again, please read my comments. Nowhere do I say that David is wrong. Nowhere do I assume that the concept of HIV/AIDS as divine judgment against homosexuality is offensive. Instead, I believe any offense should be that we mortals feel we have the authority to make claims of Divine motives when God has not revealed to us what His motives are. You say, "Arguments today are not settled by logic, but rather by sympathetic associations. The man who does the best job of manipulating his readers' sympathies gets the win. But not here on this blog, James. This place is dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ and His timeless truth written in His Word, the Bible. And that means you can't win here simply by arousing sympathies and portraying your own angst and pain. You must demonstrate the truth of what you write from Scripture."

I trust you will agree that I have attempted to do just that in this response, to demonstrate the truth of what I am writing from Scripture (which, I am afraid, is more than what was found in David's post which simply aroused sympathies and portrayed the (very legitimate) angst and pain of hemophiliacs, but gave no Scriptural support whatsoever for HIV/AIDS specifically being God's judgment against homosexuality). I honestly do not like to spend so much time on this minor point, but since it was so foundational in your attempt to dismiss my entire comments on the basis of character deficiency, it is necessary for me to address if I am to continue with the discussion with any credibility. So, once again, I ask, let us be certain to approach these topics with the humility to admit that we do not know the mind of God in each of his specific outworkings of His will in the world today, and simply because something seems logical does not give us the right to state it dogmatically.

3. I will move past the next several paragraphs of your response, hoping that I have sufficiently shown your evaluation of my character and motivation to be a misunderstanding. The next item is something that I am rather bothered by, because it is either an intentional misrepresentation of what I said or it was just very careless reading on your part.

You quote my comment in which I said,

"There is a subtle arrogance ...where we ...assume we know what God's motives are or were in a particular situation. Mr. Bayly assumes that God's primary ...motivation for destroying Sodom was because of same-gender male sex. However, nowhere does Scripture indicate that God's motivation was homosexuality (neither primarily nor exclusively)."

You respond by saying,

"'Nowhere does Scripture indicate' God judged Sodom for its sodomy? Get real, James. There's a good reason no one in church history agrees with you--that is, until sodomites started repeating such sophistry in the past twenty years or so. Scripture is absolutely clear that sodomy is at the center of the Sodomites' wickedness." (followed by the quote of Genesis 19)

What bothers me is that you ended your quotation of my comment where you did. Because the very next thing I said was "Certainly homosexuality was among the sins mentioned in that city, and certainly the judgment of the city included judgment on that sin. But, it is indefensible to say that we know God's motivation (that thing which moved Him to the extreme action of raining fire from Heaven) was the sin of homosexuality." My statement was very straightforward. I said Scripture does not indicate that God's motivation for raining fire from Heaven was primarily nor exclusively homosexuality. But you inserted part of my quote into your sentence and made it appear I said that homosexuality was not being judged at all! No, I said 2 things...(a) Scripture does not indicate the fire rained from Heaven EXCLUSIVELY because of homosexuality [Scripture lists many other sins of that city], and (b) Scripture does not indicate the fire rained from Heaven PRIMARILY because of homosexuality [homosexuality is not mentioned with any more frequency nor emphasis than the sin of rape, for example]. I NEVER said nor hinted nor implied that "nowhere does Scripture indicate God judged Sodom for its sodomy."

4. You state, "The word 'Sodom' appears in both the Old and New Testaments, forty-seven times in all. And you say it's 'extra-biblical'?" Again, you put words in my mouth that I did not say. I did not say that "Sodom" is extra-biblical. I said "sodomy" is extra-biblical. And, contrary to your assertion that...

"adding a 'y' or 'ite' to 'Sodom' doesn't make the words 'sodomy' and 'sodomite' 'extra-biblical.' Each of these words comes straight from the Bible"

...that simply is not the case. "Sodomy" and "sodomite" do not come straight from the Bible. Perhaps you could refer to an inhabitant of Sodom as a "sodomite" simply on the basis of his residence there and hold to its being a "biblical" term. But to infuse the name of that city with a meaning that men have come up with in order to describe an activity that is among the lists of sins of that city (when Scripture never creates those terms itself), the term is indeed extra-biblical. Stating that it is extra-biblical does not prove it is wrong, of course, but it is disingenuous to claim the high ground in using a man-made term by referring to it as the "biblical" terminology for homosexuality. This is not even arguable, I believe. If you can show me a single instance in which "Sodom" or a form of that word is used in Scripture as a descriptive term for someone engaged in homosexual activity, then you can say it is a biblical term. Otherwise, it simply stands that it is "extra-biblical."

5. A bit later, you quote me again saying,

"According to Mr. Bayly, these translators (of 1 Corinthians 6:9 in the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, the New Living Translation, and the New King James Version) by using the term 'homosexuals,' have not been 'faithful witnesses to our Lord and His Truth.'"

You respond:

"I've never written or said anything remotely like what James here claims since I've never given any thought to whether 'homosexual' is a good translation of the Greek word 'arsenokoites' in 1Corinthians 6:9."

However, in your first post, you said,

"But what about the word 'homosexual'--what's wrong with that? 'Homosexual' does not carry the heavy ideological baggage 'gay' does, but it does carry some baggage that's not good. If 'gay' is political, 'homosexual' is clinical; some men have sex with the opposite sex and others with the same sex, hence hetero (different) and homo (same) sexual. To describe the practice clinically is not to speak to men's souls, nor is it to be faithful witnesses to our Lord and His Truth."

I believe that my quotation was true to the context of what you said. If it is true generally, is it not true in specific circumstances?

6. You quote the two Greek lexicons' definitions of "arsenokoites" as being "sodomite." Of course, since I am arguing that the church historically has used the term "sodomite" inappropriately, it's not a very strong argument to support the term by giving me examples from church writings. Of course "both lexicons of biblical Greek use the term 'sodomite' to define the Greek word 'arsenokoites.'" They were written by Biblical scholars who probably never had any reason to question the usage of the term because of the time and place where they lived. Obviously church history has used the term in the way you argue for. But if the church has placed an incorrect emphasis in an extra-Biblical term, we should drop the term no matter who has used it in the past. And, I'm not trying to place myself as being some theologian beyond the likes of Thayer and BAG; I honestly believe that they probably never considered it even being a problem, because this issue was not at the forefront as it is today. So, the question most likely never entered their minds.

7. Continuing, you state:

"[James] claimed to have read the pieces on sodomy on this blog. But those pieces make it clear that it is love for sodomites and a heart-felt desire to see them repent that is the basis of all we've written on the subject. If James hasn't seen this love, it's because he's more interested in justifying his sin and his hardened heart than in repentance returning to the Shepherd of his soul. Well, like Paul Simon put it, 'a man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest.' But for the record, here is the end of a piece I posted to this blog on April 4, 2006. The piece is titled, 'Sodomy and Pastoral Care,' and I'm hopeful it will communicate what is the heart of my concern in this matter." It continues with the quote from that post.

It is a true statement that I have read the posts on this topic throughout your blog. And, as I stated, "In 34 posts on 'sodomy', only one has even a slight emphasis on the need for Christians to reach out to homosexuals with the love of Christ." The quote you gave is exactly the one post I was referring to, and I am grateful for that comment. However, when taken as a whole, the emphasis of your blog posts has been much condemnation of the sin with little emphasis on love for those beset by the sin. If I am wrong, please show me another example before these exchanges that I missed.

And then once again, you speak of my desire to justify my sin. And again, please show me anywhere in my comments where I try to justify sin. Perhaps Paul Simon was right.

8. Concluding,

The entire motive for my making this argument has been to present an appeal to throw away an unhelpful term that is extra-biblical and unnecessary. The assumption of knowledge of God's motivation in judgment has caused theologians literally to create a new word, to infuse the name "Sodom" with a meaning that carries a connotation that goes beyond what Scripture presents. For, when we use "Sodomite" to refer to homosexuals, by implication we are saying that, if it was only inhospitality or rape or lack of charity, God might have been a bit vexed, but because they were homosexuals, THAT'S what brought the fire and brimstone!

The term "Sodomite" has thus contributed to a mentality that is so part of the warp and woof of the church's thinking that we don't even realize its inaccuracy, and we defend an extra-biblical word as if it were doctrine.

It is why the church passes off her responsibility of personal investment, contact, and discipleship to "specialty" organizations like Exodus International, an organization that does good work but only exists because churches are not fulfilling their God-appointed mission. Do we need a para-church organization to convince the immoral heterosexual that God's grace is sufficient for him to gain victory over his lust? Do we pass off the liars, or thiefs, or covetous to "experts" and then truly welcome them into the church only after they have made some sort of breakthrough? We often do for "sodomites."

It is why individuals in the church justify their comfortable distance kept from homosexuals and their perpetuation of foolish stereotypes. Until my parents came to visit me when I moved to a "gay" area, they thought that my life consisted of dressing as a woman and engaging in sexual activities with multiple partners. Had they not known me, they would probably also have assumed that I would be very feminine in my mannerisms. I'm not saying that church members should try to wisen up about evil, but how many church members have any idea at all what the average homosexual's view of the church is? Sure, you can say that no specialized information or understanding is needed; that our responsibility is only to preach the truth. But look at the examples of Christ and Paul and the apostles. Each presentation of the truth was crafted in such a way to make the most of every opportunity and best communicate to the specific audience present. What has your church or my church done recently to make the most of the opportunity to reach the homosexual for Christ?

But Mr. Bayly has fit into this same mentality so naturally that he didn't even realize it. As most in the church do, he found out that I struggle with homosexual attraction and immediately assumed I am a homosexual activist (in spite of nothing I said giving any hint of that and much I said going directly against that assumption). This would be akin to hearing I struggle with drunkenness and immediately assuming I run a liquor store. He assumes I am trying to justify my recent sin, even though I repeatedly recognize its sinfulness. He assumes that, by emphasizing the need for love for homosexuals, I am trying to soften the message of judgment (showing once again this improper feeling that there is some sort of tension between God's love and his justice....they are not in competition....you do not sacrifice one by emphasizing the other, for God's love is meaningless apart from His justice).

I say it one final time. Using the term "sodomy" contributes nothing to the message of Scripture, and it in fact builds an unnecessary barrier to the presentation of the truth by communicating to the homosexual person that his sin is somehow the "really bad" sin, above almost all others and deserving of greater judgment than other sins, resulting in the church not really being very comfortable around that person.

As I said previously, I suspect this tenacious commitment to an extra-biblical, non-essential, preferential term is caused by a fear that any change in the terminology of one's argument is de facto losing ground on the merits of one's argument. In other words, if we agree that "sodomite" was a bad choice from the start, we are afraid that we somehow will weaken our resolve to stand with Scripture on the teaching of the sin of homosexuality. I ask, if we drop "sodomite" today, is the argument of Scripture weakened? Obviously not....in fact, I guarantee Mr. Bayly can make his entire Biblical defense of the sinfulness of homosexuality without using the term "sodomite" a single time, and nobody would feel he has watered down or weakened the message. It is not a vice to avoid a term that is (a) extra-biblical, (b) unnecessary to communicate the truth of Scripture without compromise, and (c) which, by its use, can cause the hearer to be less receptive to the core truth being presented because of its imprecision.

Dear James, Thank you for your lengthy interaction with my post, and continuing to come back and give us more of your responses. I appreciate it.

A couple housekeeping things. For emphasis in comment, it's normal to use asterisks on each side of the word; like *this*. That would avoid misunderstandings.

As for AIDS and God's judgment, your argument that it's promiscuity that causes STDs, and not sodomy per se, I'd encourage you to immerse yourself in epidemiological literature related to the sodomite community. From bacterial infections to drug addiction to AIDS and other STDs, it's clear that those who engage in sodomy are committing suicide. And yes, it's clear that heterosexual promiscuity and gluttony can also be documented to lead to death, just as you said.

Yet even here, you write as if the dangers are equivalent--particularly those of both heterosexual and homosexual promiscuity. Not true. Sodomitic promiscuity is lethal in a way and to an extent that heterosxual promiscuity is not, and not to put too fine a point on it, it's because of how God made us. Men and women are made to have intercourse with one another; men and men aren't.

My criticism of the word 'homosexual' had nothing to do with the translation of Scripture, but rather the language each of us chooses to use in our everyday interaction. Note that point well, please. It should not be hard to understand why your arguments about "Godly" Bible translators is off the mark.

Your comments at the end make it clear you didn't listen to my sermon, as I asked. Had you, you would have seen your closing points are both wide of the mark and uncharitable.

Finally, people who haven't read all our correspondence might think that I have not accurately summarized your positions. In fact, I have. And this despite your claims to the contrary. Yes, there have been a couple minor points where I have misunderstood or not hit the nail on the head.

But you are opposed to the church's historic 2000 year use of the biblical words 'sodomy', 'sodomite', and 'sodomitic'. And you've never addressed the reason to use them that I've spoken of constantly--that it is imperative to remind souls far from God that both God's mercy and His judgment are close at hand. His mercy through the church witnessing to and living under our Lord's cross and the atonement He provided there for all who believe and repent.

His judgment through Hell and all those things in this life which give warning concerning Hell. And for sodomites, the reminder of Sodom is a key component that the church, out of love, has always used to remind those given to same-sex intimacy that they should not be deceived, that God will not be mocked, that whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

I am grateful to the Lord for your seeking heart, and for your acknwledgment that we must flee our besetting sins if we are to know and love God.

May He give you, me, and all of us a growing grace to love Him and turn from our sins.

Warmly,

Tim Bayly

my friend claims to be a christian and she says that it is alright in gods eyes if her and her husband has anal sex because it is between a man and a woman...i do not feel the same. i think god created the anus to get rid of toxins from our body and that it is not to be penetrated that is why there are so many complications with anal sex such as cancer scared tissue, incontenince ect... what is your views on this and can you give me any scriptual advice to give her.

>>> James writes: ...we should not use the term 'Sodomite' to refer to homosexuals (because) it is an extra-biblical term used when biblical terms are quite sufficient and more precise.

>>The word 'Sodom' appears in both the Old and New Testaments, forty-seven times in all. And you say it's "extra-biblical"?
...
>>Adding a 'y' or 'ite' to 'Sodom' doesn't make the words 'sodomy' and 'sodomite' "extra-biblical." Each of these words comes straight from the Bible.

The word 'sodomite' or 'sodomites' does appear five times in the KJV:
Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7; and once in the NASB (1 Kings 22:46).

To the Reverends who authored the defense against James... You are arrogant to say the least in your language and reproach. It doesn't really matter that you use the word "Sodomy" or "Sodomite" . Our language is changing and many find the ancient reference to be offensive. Fundamentalism have found the word "change" to be quite cumbersome too. Now is the time you chime in telling me that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, thereby moral relativism is an attack and anyone that sounds remotely like a relativist is slinking and suffering in their "sins" still like you accused James.  It was so arrogant of you to presume that because James opposed your point of few that he was living in some sort of sin.  Wow!  I hate the idea that you would even continue to use the word "sodomy" in responding to a Christian who considers it offensive as the Bible makes it clear that you shouldn't continue in an offense of some kind against a brother actively knowing it grows disparity between two Christians.   I am glad to see the tide is changing; that a softer approach (one more like Christs) is needed to help people with their issues in life. Grace has a burden of nothing as Jesus takes our load; but from the sounds of it your "love" for the homosexual community must come at some cost.  I know the type of people you are; ones that consider repentance as wearing a "scarlet letter" to bring light to someones shame.  Sure.. you help them.. you "love" the sodomite.. haha. I suspect not. What Pastor capable of such bullish language would really even see his limitations in this regard? If I sound a bit angry; its because I am. I hate to see anyone turn down the deft and clarity and love that James put into his plea to your Christian community like you have. Its sad. We are trying to offer a solution to those that struggle with their sexual misfortune.  We not only have to fight the LGBT community but we have to fight the homophobic fundamentalists like yourself that might find it weird to think that someone like James is on the right side. Its a tough battle to fight as it may not be a worse sin than anyone else's but it really causes an unearthly amount of alienation for those folks already.

Mr. Sullivan

Those are your words but the message comes straight from hell.

You can choose to indulge sin as you seem to wish to or you can choose the name Christian.  You cannot rationally do both but rationality is not a strong suit of those who wish to normalize sodomy.

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