Hey Tim, why do you use the word 'sodomy'...

Some time back, one of my seminary professors who remains a dear friend wrote taking issue with my use of the word 'sodomy' to refer to same-sex carnal knowledge:

I find your use of the word 'sodomites' a bit inaccurate, because the sin of Sodom was not solely homosexuality, but also (maybe primarily) lack of concern for the poor.

Ezekiel 16:49-50 Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

Jude 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

I hear this objection frequently. Just yesterday, a reader commented:

Using a word like sodomite , while largely accurate , is not helpful or proper in dialog .  Here's why.  Many in the world ,especially young people are just cruel to homosexuals ,  calling them such names , showing no mercy or opportunity for God's repentance  .  So  'Gay' folk are conditioned by this verbage to see it as name calling .    And I don't see Jesus calling folk 'names', except for the religious hypocrites .     and thirdly ,  we don't like folk using names on us that we don't like -  haters ,   anti- choice , etc .     4)  Jesus was friend of such folk .    One of things I really like to do is go to a local gay pride type event .  These folk are used to Christ followers only heaping pointing fingers at them .  They really open up each year I go and just begin to friend them and dialog .   I met some deaf guys this year who still text me .     Who wants to go sometime and be 'friends of sinners '  ?

One of my closest friends agrees. He told me he thought my use of 'sodomy' and 'sodomites' made me look to our readers like I was a member of the lunatic fringe.

First, a little street cred...

Through the years, Mary Lee and I have been friends with a number of Christians, both men and women, tempted by same-sex intimacy. We've also had close contact with non-Christian sodomites and lesbians including family who have given themselves over to this sin. In our churches from the beginning of our marriage back in 1976 when we lived in Madison, there have been many souls we have loved and counseled, day and night with tears, who were in the throes of this evil bondage. Some were hardened in sin's deceit and others were repentant and seeking to escape.

Between the two of us, we've lived in Wheaton, Madison, Boulder, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Boston, and now Bloomington, so our knowledge of this particular sexual sin is up-close and personal. We've always had a number of souls in our church who (in the past and, sadly, a few in the present) had given themselves to this sin and there are several readers of this blog who fight against this temptation.

We have praised God to see some of the women who formerly lived in lesbianism begin to serve the church as Titus 2 women, and several of the men formerly "gay" are now in ministry. A few of those we've loved during their struggle for freedom in Christ have even become "breeders," and if you don't know what that means, ask your queer friends. Finally, when I was single and living in California, I used a roomate matching service who placed me in a house owned by a man who worked as a homosexual prostitute. 'Nuff said?

So I've thought carefully about how to speak of this particular sin, but I can't find another construction that is as helpful, spiritually, in referring to the practice of same-sex sexual intimacy as 'sodomy.' So if you're one of our readers who's inclined to give us a chance, maybe I'll be able to convince you that this is a usage we must not give up. Anyhow, what follows is my defense.

Growing up as a child in an editor and writer's home, I'm very sensitive to language and I want to say at the outset that my use of 'sodomy' is intentional. Until ten years ago, I never used the word. Instead, I spoke of the unrepentant sodomite as "gay" and the repentant sodomite who had put his faith in Jesus Christ as someone "tempted by same-sex intimacy"—a very long construction, that last one, but it has the merit of not identifying a man as if he were constantly doing something that is a sin. Also, it avoids labeling the man in such a way as to communicate that this form of sexual temptation is central to his personal identity.

I still refer to those "tempted by same-sex intimacy," but instead of 'gay' or 'homosexual' I now speak of 'sodomy' and 'sodomites'. Why?

First, the words 'gay' and 'homosexual' say things that aren't true. 'Gay' carries a connotation of someone taking pride in his sin and we ought not to join in the lie. Objectively speaking, the man who glories in his shame is in need of correction. To allow him to choose the language we use for his shame in such a way as to deny the shame and evil intrinsic to that sin is to join in his sin, even if we continue to condemn the practice we have allowed him to rename. So the word 'gay' must be repudiated by all Christians, even when we are in dialog with sodomites. It is impossible to use this word without implying a whole host of things that are spiritually destructive and contrary to God's revelation, both natural and special.

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. Scripture condemns sodomy over and over again, and in our libidinous and sexually anarchical culture, it's critically important that we continue to use biblical language to confess the Faith. Thus we speak of "fornication" rather than "premarital sex" or "living together"; we speak of "committing adultery" rather than "cheating on his wife" or "having an affair."

Today there is a growing movement among adulterers to call themselves "polyamorous"—literally "many-loving." These are men who take their identity from their rejection of marital fidelity, instead giving themselves to many different sexual partners. So out with 'adultery' and in with 'polyamory'. The missing element, though, should be obvious. There is no moral judgment. Rather, these men are taking pride in their sin. They are glorying in their shame. 'Polyamory' is not simply an objective clinical description but a political ideology that carries with it an entire rejection of the Seventh Commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

So it could be said that,

Gay is to homosexual is to sodomite

as

polyamorous is to polygamist is to adulterer.

To give up the historic Christian term 'sodomy' is for us to bow our knees to Baal. The Church has used this word to refer to same-sex carnal relations for most of two thousand years, now, and in the face of the evil onslaught against God's moral law so pervasive in our culture, we ought to continue to use the word simply because of its biblical witness and the shame it communicates.

Shame is helpful to those in this bondage.

Sadly, though, Christians today think the real shame belongs to those who have not updated their language and demonstrate through the use of 'sodomy,' for instance (according to the modern conceit) that they are intolerant, legalistic, censorious, homophobic, or maybe even latently homosexual.

Are we prepared to make these same accusation against our church fathers from the New Testament age on, down through the centuries? Were all of them insensitive? Homophobic? Ignorant?

Were these the reasons Jerome in the fourth century; the writers of the penitential literature of the sixth century; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus, in the eighth century; a monk of the Carolingian abbeys in the ninth century; Regino of Prum in the tenth century; Bishop Burchard in the eleventh century; Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century; and so on down to our own time all spoke of "sodomy" and "sodomites?"

Can our dead Church fathers be honored while we damn those following their usage today?

In more recent centuries, some have also used the word 'sodomy' to refer to forms of non-procreative sex, but the overwhelming usage of the Church was the more basic definition of same-sex carnal knowledge. To refer to same-sex carnal knowledge as 'sodomy' has never been an abuse of the biblical account of the men of Sodom.

Of course, many are prepared to argue this point and through their deceptive biblical scholarship they have succeeded in getting Christians to change their language.

In the past few decades a whole school of biblical interpretation has grown up around the effort to repeal the Church's biblical condemnation of sodomy and one of that school's principal tactics has been to deny the connection between God's destruction of the people of Sodom and the effort to engage in same-sex carnal knowledge by the men of Sodom just prior to their destruction. This school has used various tactics. Some have argued that the real sin of Sodom was not same-sex carnal knowledge but rape. Others have tried to turn the focus away from same-sex carnal knowledge to additional sins also mentioned in Scripture as typical of Sodom—particularly her sin of not being hospitable.

Typical of such homosexualist biblical scholarship is The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (University of Chicago) by Mark D. Jordan. Kirkus Reviews describes Jordan's work:

A scholarly critique of how the term 'sodomy' arose in the Middle Ages and came to influence Roman Catholic moral discourse. Although the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is at least as old as the book of Genesis, the view of sodomy as a form of sexual sin seems to have been invented in the eleventh century by the Italian ascetic St. Peter Damian. Jordan (Medieval Institute/Notre Dame Univ.) restates the now generally accepted view that the sin leading to Sodom's destruction was transgression of the laws of hospitality rather than same-sex intercourse per se, and he gives some very relevant philosophical warnings about using centuries-old texts to find answers to modern questions.

It's now "generally accepted... that the sin leading to Sodom's destruction was transgression of the laws of hospitality rather than same-sex intercourse"?

Well, there you have it. Two millennia of biblical scholarship and pastoral language has been thrown to the side and those of us who continue to refer to same-sex carnal knowledge as 'sodomy' are on the lunatic fringe.

Care to join up? (Here's a helpful review of Jordan's work. Also, Gagnon's always good.).

But seriously, no student of Scripture has ever denied that Sodom was guilty of greed, pride, and certainly inhospitality. Scripture condemns these sins of Sodom in no uncertain terms but it also condemns the Sodomites' sexual perversion. The Genesis narrative itself condemns them and Jude 7 makes explicit what is only implicit in Genesis 18 and 19. Sodom and Gomorrah, we are told, "indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh (and) are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire."

"Gross immorality" and going after "strange flesh" will result in "the punishment of eternal fire."

Is this one of Christ's teachings that we ought to disseminate? Teach? Preach? Should our language concerning the Sodomites "gross immorality" and going after "strange flesh" make the transfer into our discussion of same-sex carnal relations today so that God's warning will continue to live on in the consciences of men down through history, or is this something men should only learn if they choose to come inside an evangelical church where private truths are privately, and ever so tactfully, "shared."

In the letters to the seven churches at the beginning of the book of Revelation, Jesus says this to the church of Laodicea:

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. (Revelation 3:14-18)

Note that the Laodicean church was "neither hot nor cold." So across the centuries the Laodiceans have been known for being lukewarm and therefore in danger of being spit out of the mouth of our Lord. Thus the word 'Laodicean' is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "indifferent or lukewarm especially in matters of religion" and the Online Etymology Dictionary traces this usage back to 1564 (at least).

Note also that the Laodicean church was guilty of other sins—including presumption and complacency. They thought of themselves as rich and needing nothing when actually they were "wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."

So if I were to call a lukewarm individual or church "Laodicean," would I be corrected? Would men remind me that the church of Laodicea was presumptuous and complacent too, and that I ought not to use the word 'Laodicean' to refer only to those lacking spiritual zeal?

Of course not—there's no affirmative action for the lukewarm. So when it comes to Laodicea our biblical language is not under assault.

What about calling those who go after strange flesh and engage in the gross immorality of same-sex carnal knowledge "sodomites? Can "Laodicean" be right and "sodomite" wrong?

Some among us might be prepared to accuse God of cruelty in making an example of the Sodomites by the awful judgment He meted out to them for going after "strange flesh" and indulging in "gross immorality. But may all the godly acknowledge that the battle over the language of sodomy that rages today is going to determine whether we continue to love sodomites by presenting to them the warning God deposited in His Word.

We can appear reasonable and refer to those going after strange flesh and indulging in gross immorality as "gay" and "homosexual"—never "sodomite"—or we can join the lunatic fringe and continue to use the biblical language we inherited from the Early Church.

(Much of this was originally posted back in 2006.)

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Just out of curiosity, what do you think about Westboro Baptist Church? 

>>what do you think about Westboro Baptist Church? 

I think they heard that Ethiopian proverb, "If you catch a tiger by the tail, hold on" and they think they've caught a tiger by the tail and they're very intent on holding on.

More seriously, there are a host of tactics homosexualists use to gag Christians' witness against sexual perversion and pointing to Westboro is one of their favorites.

I've never bothered discussing Westboro because reasonable men know Westboro is the exception that proves the rule—the rule being that no Christian church goes around the country trying to gay-bait claiming it's an act of Christian witness. It's important we not allow evil men to gag us by accusing us of being Westboro hatemongers, and the easiest way for us to lose this battle is to talk about Westboro.

If a sodomite asked me about Westboro, I'd say "Jesus loved sinners by warning us of the coming judgment. I'm a follower of Jesus and I'd like to warn you. Can we have lunch together? Can you come over for dinner?"

There's an old saying, "Don't wrestle with a pig in mud because a pig likes mud." 

Homosexualists are perfectly happy to win the battle for truth by getting Christians so frightened of appearing unhip or dated or insensitive that they're only willing to recite poetry and do the "Confession of Sin" and "Moral Law" thing in the privacy of their own church-houses.

Love,

I think you're right that Westboro isn't worth discussing. I think the old pig saying applies to them as well! 

Most gays in our society feel hated by Christians. Some of that definitely can be attributed the "host of tactics to gag" that you mentioned; some of it can also be attributed to the reality that some Christians (are they really Christians?) really do hate gays. 

Lunch and dinner sound like good ways of showing the opposite.

I might not use the word sodomite with them, however, especially on a public blog, for the same reason why I don't tell people I'm gay when I'm feeling happy like people used to do. It would confuse people and hinder the message I'm trying to communicate - that I'm happy, not a homosexual.

Although words retain their definitions in the dictionary, their connotations change over time, and connotation is just as important as denotation when communicating a message. Calling my gay friend a sodomite would probably hinder the delivery of my message because he would feel insulted (for it is often used in an insulting manner by many), making me lose my credibility with him, thus hindering the delivery of the message.

The words moron, imbecile, and idiot are good examples of this too. They were originally harmless classifications of IQ / intelligence, and as we all know, overtime, people started to use them as insults. Because of the extreme negative connotations associated with those words, psychologists no longer use them. When a handicapped person has been laughed at his whole life and called an idiot or moron, it might be hard to listen to what a psychologist, counselor, or pastor has to say if he too were to use those words. 

It's almost funny to think about how ridiculous this scenario would be: If a pastor were addressing mentally handicapped people and telling them about their need for Jesus, repentance, etc., he wouldn't address them as morons or idiots, even though the founders of those classifications used the words that way. Ha, can you imagine a pastor saying to them, "Jesus loves all you idiots, morons, imbeciles, and retards." They and their families would feel insulted, and I would lose my credibility, thus harming the delivery of my message about Jesus.

If delivery of the Message is the most important calling a Christian has, I would think he or she would want to avoid all stumbling blocks possible. I'm not at all suggesting compromising the truth and using watered down language; I'm suggesting speaking the truth in love. And the person hearing the message should feel loved.

I'm sure many individual gay people you have met have felt very loved by you as you described. But people like me, who accidentally come across your very public blog, may misunderstand your message because of the connotations of the words you use and general tone.

I do commend you for not compromising what you believe. Like you said, not everyone has the courage to do that.

TB quote" To give up the historic Christian term 'sodomy' is for us to bow our knees to Baal."

This single sentence could have been the entirety of your post. One of the largest failures of modern (and maybe not so modern) Christianity is to constantly allow evil to frame the debate. Whether it's on abortion or sodomy or whatever else.

Hi Dan,

Happy to have your comment here.

The problem is that you haven't interacted with the primary point, and you've confused the issue with your comparison. 

Yes, "moron" and "sodomite" are both offensive today. But they differ drastically. First of all, as you state, "moron" didn't start out offensive, but "sodomite" has always been offensive. Why? Because "moron" is not a moral judgment but "sodomite" is. The real reason these two are not comparable is because it is not a sin to be unintelligent, and nobody needs to repent of it. But it is a sin to engage in sodomy, and all those who practice it must repent.

And that's the point of the post that you haven't touched on—the need to call these people to repentance. After all, the Message you speak of doesn't make sense until people see that they have need of forgiveness for their sins.

Of course, we don't want to cause unnecessary offense with our communication of the gospel, but the very place the gospel is offensive is when it points out our sin.

As far as I can tell, the word "sodomy" still always carries a connotation of shameful behavior or sin, just like the word "pervert" and nothing like "moron." If you agree that people must see their need to repent, then the words we use shouldn't say the opposite of what we are trying to communicate. We can't communicate both that they can be proud of who they are by calling them "gay" and at the same time say that they need to repent of it. Just like actions speak louder than words, sometimes words speak louder than words. 

I remember the time a friend said "Obama did repeal the 'global gag rule,' meaning organizations receiving US aid funding can now perform or promote all reproductive services (including abortion)." 

What if I said the following? "Abortion is a reproductive service that is very politically charged, and we must be careful how we speak about it so that we don't offend the hundreds of millions of people who have made use of this reproductive service. We want to make sure that people feel loved. We want to make sure that they understand that even though we don't want people to use that service, we don't personally hate them for doing so." Would anybody really understand me to be opposed to the wicked slaughter of the innocent children? Of course not. As a matter of fact, between his use of the words "global gag rule" and talking about abortion as a "reproductive service," I became convinced that my friend was pro-abortion. I responded, in part, "It deeply saddens me to see you align yourself with those who promote the slaughter of the defenseless and innocent."

You're right that the connotations of words are important. That's why using words like "gay" with the connotation that there is nothing wrong, and in fact something to be celebrated, is very revealing when Christians use it. It shows that we've bought into the lie, just like my friend calling abortion a "reproductive service" shows that he'd bought into a different lie.

In Christ,

Brothers, one more thing: please keep in mind that the word 'sodomite' is superior to the words 'gay' or 'homosexual' in that neither of the latter two have any element of moral shame or condemnation. So what's really at stake is whether or not we believe our language about sexual perversion should retain any condemnatory nuance, any testimony to God's Moral Law, any warning of the coming Judgement, any promotion of the fear of God. This in addition to the salubrious nature of shaming, which I think is as dead in Christians' minds today as it is helpful to our brothers and sisters repenting of homosexual sin.

Several times I've had such brothers write to tell me how helpful my use of 'sodomy' here on Baylyblog has been to them personally as they have fought their own particular battle. That is, they have written to express gratitude for the use of 'sodomy' and 'sodomite,' here.

Love,

We should remember that Christians also have a propensity for evil as we wage war with our flesh. Perhaps in the context of a debate, the greatest of all evils on the part of the Christian is self-righteousness. Evil (speaking of evil personified) can frame the debate just as easily through a Christian as it can an unbeliever, and the Christian is almost always oblivious of what's happening until hindsight.

I know that because I, a Christian, have recently been a perpetrator of evil in the context of a debate! :-)

Yes, of course, but there's a special kind of self-righteousness that cops the posture of humility in argument and language as a cover for cowardice, which in the context of missional coversations and Gospel witness is lovelessness. I spent decades congratulating myself on such usage before I realized the whole world was doing it, now, and it was sin. By God's grace, then, I repented and from love began to change my tone and language to be more forthright and dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit. Kinda like the Apostle Paul in the Areopagus speaking of their "ignorance."

Yeah, I had to face that all the Christians listening were cluck-clucking and tsk-tsking me, but I figured it meant more to see sodomites repent and receive the approval of God than to have church planters and other company men think I was awesome.

Love,

Tim, 

I think you make some good points here. 

About gay though. If anything, in our current time (maybe not 50 years ago) the word "gay" carries an element of shame with it just as much as it defines a person in a same-sex relationship. One only must teach in a high school one day to see how often the words gay and fag are used as synonyms for lame, stupid, or inferior. Likewise, boys who are weak or express interests outside the norm are often called gay, fags, or sissies when they display no signs of same sex desire. The word "gay" may have once been celebratory, but it's used as an insult now just as much as it is used to define someone's sexual orientation.

I see your point about relabeling immoral behaviors to make them sound less immoral, however. Each to his own I guess. I still just can't call my gay friend a sodomite. The thought of doing so almost makes me laugh. :-)

>>The word "gay" may have once been celebratory, but it's used as an insult now just as much as it is used to define someone's sexual orientation.

Yes, you're absolutely right; but this is not moral condemnation, and that's what the term needs to accomplish.

>>I still just can't call my gay friend a sodomite.

Then tell him he's given over to "perversion," that he's "wicked" or "in bondage to sin." Tell him something helpful. Don't just tell him he's your "gay friend." Tell him God says not sexually immoral man will enter Heaven—maybe that will get his attention and make you do the work you want, we all want, to avoid.

I'm done with time for today, dear brother. Maybe others will pick the work up for me. I have to write. Thanks for the good exchanges. God bless you.

Love,

Each to his own I guess. I still just can't call my gay friend a sodomite. The thought of doing so almost makes me laugh.

Dear Dan,

You've grown comfortable with your friend's sin. Warn him, brother. You're not even willing to risk the friendship, yet you risk his eternal soul?

Love,

Daniel,

I'm not comfortable or complacent about it actually. He and I have discussed it a lot. He is aware. My pastor has met with him too, and they've had some tough conversations.

When I said he is my friend but I don't call him a sodomite, I didn't mean I we never talk about it. He has struggled with same sex attraction and his faith for many, many years. It's a difficult and at times lonely battle for him. 

Oh, and he pretty much hears someone tell him he's going to hell if he doesn't change at least once a week. He knows.

I tell him what I think about sexuality and repentance, but I also let him know I don't judge or condemn him. I don't have the authority to judge or condemn anyone. And I can tell him the truth without reopening wounds by giving him labels.

Done here too - gotta work on a paper as well. This conversation is more interesting than the topic of my paper. Thanks, Tim, for the dialogue. I promise to back off on the posts. :-) Interesting blog.

I would like to see Tim call a 6'4" gay bodybuilder a "sodomite" and give him the biblical explanation to show that it's the right thing to do.

Dear "M," You need to abide by our commenting rules. Either sign your first and last names on these personal comments or don't comment any more. We've been patient with you in this regard. Did you not read the post giving the rules? If not, please do so now.

Tim

Hey, M. Karin, it sounds like you desire to see Tim be physically beat up. Is that charitable?

Either that or you are calling Tim a liar, saying that nobody tempted by or engaging in same-sex intimacy could ever find it helpful to hear the word sodomy, when, in point of fact, he has testified that some have thanked him for doing so.

I would like to see Tim call a 6'4" gay bodybuilder a "sodomite" and give him the biblical explanation to show that it's the right thing to do.

And thus we see the current evolved state of the campaign to normalize sexual corruption; the excited and slightly veiled call to violence and the hatred for truth that screams at the thought it might be expressed.

But then why not wish for a 6'10" sodomite body builder?  It is fairly certain that "M. Karin" would not be any danger to anyone unless coming from behind or in the company of a mob.

Dear "M," I reiterate that you are not to comment again without giving your real first and last names. 

Thank you.

Without disagreeing with your point; I once preached on Ezekiel 16:49-50, and found it quite an indictment of my own society. Those verses proved to be worth a sermon on their own.

A word about "gay." It used to have a particular connotation of lightheartedness. Few would claim that the typical sodomite enjoys a life of lightheartedness. But use of "gay" as a label for same-sex practitioners has robbed us of a word that really has no good replacement. I grieve for our language.

Tim, I think the line from Exodus 16:50 is clearly a reference to the sexual perversions of the Sodomites: "They were haughty and did detestable things before me."

The NASB renders this verse, "Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me."

Don’t Ever Wrestle With A Pig. You’ll Both Get Dirty, But The Pig Will Enjoy It.

We're all pigs born in the mud, washed by the One who wrestles with us every day. And that same One calls us to get our hands dirty with Him. We love because He first loved us. 

I think we were referring to our Lord's command, "Don't cast your pearls before swine," Dan. But of course our calling is to the dirty in the dirt we ourselves were pulled from by the preaching of the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Love,

When I wrote opinion columns for the student newspaper I deliberately used "gay," "homosexual," and "sodomy" interchangeably, and with approximately the same frequency. This was after some of Pr. Tim's exhortations about the word "sodomy." Maybe that was mincingly compromised, but it made the point. Certainly the sodomites at school who wrote letters to the editor complaining about what I wrote (and their friends who did the same) had no confusion or doubt about the moral weight of the words that I was using.

I still use those three interchangeably. But now I've noticed that I'll use the word "sodomy," but almost never "sodomite." I'm not sure that was a deliberate choice, it just sort of happened. I've found myself referring to "people who engage in sodomy" instead. Maybe that's mincing and cowardly, too. But it gets around the perceived "name-calling" without surrendering the moral weight of the language. I think that it also leaves more room for repentance by giving the sinner an identity that is independent of that particular sin (but maybe I'm just flattering myself).

>>I still use those three interchangeably.

So do I, Abram; as I also use 'man' and 'human being.' My goal is to keep Biblical language alive and well and convicting, but occasional use of the vernacular is not bad.

Love,

Ray ComfortWhen I speak with a homosexual, I avoid talk about his sexual orientation. This is because I don’t want him to be offended before I share the gospel. So I simply ask if he thinks he’s a good person. When he predictably says that he is, I take him through the Ten Commandments (because scripture says that the moral Law was made for homosexuals--1Timothy 1:8-10)). Has he lied or stolen? Has he blasphemed God’s name? And when I ask about looking with lust, I deliberately don’t mention any gender.

Before seeing his sin, he was proud and self-righteous (thinking he was morally good), but now he’s humble of heart. That means he is able to be reasoned with, without being defensive. So I tell him that to be saved from Hell he must repent of all sin and trust alone in Jesus. I then show him what “sin” is, by referring him to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “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.” I then lovingly tell him that if he has a problem with the list, he should take it up with God, because it’s His list, not mine.

I want to see adulterers, fornicators, thieves and others on that list avoid the terror of Hell, so why should I exclude homosexuals because I’m afraid of being accused of hatred. Love cannot do that.

Great. God bless him.

Love,

Recently I found myself using the following construction: "The behavior formerly known as sodomy." Kind of like "The artist formerly known as Prince." Is that cowardly? It seems like it gets the point across, without constantly derailing the conversation into "Don't you know that word is offensive? Then why do you keep using it?!"

Dear Abram,

Excellent. Your words prompted this post just put up. Love you much,

I think the use of the word makes you look a little bit like the ignorant hypocrit warden in Shawshank Redemption, or someone from The Apostle - a Pharisee combined with a Tent revival. So many who have used this word appear not to even be truly Christian. Having said that, I respected your reasoning...until you got to the "bow knee" to Baal thing....that too was over the top.

Keep up your good works, but I don't think use of this word is your best strategy..."be wise as serpents...."

 

>>I think the use of the word makes you look a little bit like

The preacher of righteousness is not tone deaf, but his commitment is far beyond the rhetorical tastes of postmoderns. The words of most believers today, particularly pastors, are carefully crafted to say something reasonable and commendatory about themselves, and thus no man is called to repentance. Change the goal and change the words. The Church must return to her prior duty of calling men to repent.

If we seek to proclaim the law and judgment of God, and to call men to repentance, you're absolutely—we stink like death (which in modern parlance means uneducated or southern). Yet we become useful as instruments of the Holy Spirit calling men to faith and repentance, and hearts are changed.

Thank you for your kindness. I'm sorry to say, though, that back in 1979 when I took out my earring and my wife her nose ring, we turned our back on our prior slavish adherence to the appearance thing. We had come to share a much more important zeal for the Kingdom of God and its righteousness.

Love,

PS: About the "Baal" thing, words are more important than you think.

Invite him to lunch and dinner, on the same day. Lunch, to convict him of sin, and dinner to let him know you are committed to him.

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