Countercultural Methodism

Countercultural Methodism

on April 29, 2019

United Methodism is becoming countercultural after a century or more of American cultural conformity. This transition is required for its survival but it will be rocky.

When passed at February’s United Methodist General Conference, the Traditional Plan excited widespread indignation in America. A large and historically liberal Mainline Protestant denomination had not only reaffirmed historic Christian sexual teaching, it had strengthened it. History was not supposed to move in that direction, at least according to secular prophets.

Friday, the denomination’s top court again okayed most of that Traditional Plan, making it now law for the 12.5 million member global church. Some disappointed church liberals still hope for revocation at the next General Conference in 2020. But the wiser among them realize that membership trends, with growth in Africa and decline in the American church’s most liberal regions, preclude such hope.

After the General Conference, many U.S. clergy published newspaper ads in large urban areas denouncing the Traditional Plan and affirming their own more progressive views. They essentially apologized for United Methodism’s countercultural stance, in sync with historic and universal Christianity, that sex is for husband and wife.

Perhaps there should have been similar newspaper ads after the much less noticed 2016 General Conference, which revoked much of United Methodism’s longtime support for abortion rights. The church’s membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which the church helped found in 1973, was cancelled. And the church deleted its 40 year old support for Roe v. Wade. United Methodist support for abortion rights began in 1970, preceding even the Supreme Court ruling three years later.

For most of the last century United Methodism and its predecessor bodies have followed American culture on key ethical issues to the neglect of historic Christian teaching. Methodism was commonly called “America’s church” and it typically echoed what American culture declared as verities.

Methodists were not fundamentalists or holy rollers. They were mainstream and respectable, espousing no opinions that would disturb the secular culture. Church agencies, bishops and related schools were all predictable officiants for blessing conventional secular American opinion.

This marriage between Methodism and American culture endured so long as that culture accepted at least non-threatening Mainline Protestantism. But secular culture has become impatient even with emasculated religion. And Mainline Protestantism, after over 50 years of decline, no longer even offers significant political or cultural cachet.

Generations of United Methodist clergy were trained in American cultural conformity by their church’s seminaries and hierarchy. And many are now befuddled that their church, thanks to its global membership and irrepressible evangelical subculture, is moving towards nonconformity.

This adversarial stance with American secular culture is discomfiting. And these clergy were never trained to deal with it. Hence many have responded with newspaper ads and online petitions assuring the secular culture: “We are still with you!”

Many of these clergy trained in the ways of cultural conformity eventually will leave global United Methodism to create new liberal U.S. denominations that avoid countercultural adversity. These new denominations will fare as well as other declining Mainline Protestant denominations.

Shorn of these clergy, including most U.S. bishops, nearly all the official seminaries, church agencies and other institutional forces for cultural conformity, global United Methodism will have to develop new resources as a countercultural force in America. There will be new seminaries and other forms of theological training, new publishing and media outlets, new less inert agencies, new concepts of episcopal leadership, new focus on soul-winning and church planting, new understandings of Christian community that is joyfully countercultural.

There are traumatic and exciting years ahead for Methodism as it painfully detaches from American cultural conformity and relearns how to be more fully part of the universal church. Who will teach us? Who will lead us?

Some will wonder if it were not safer to have remained a dying Mainline Protestant denomination, a process with which we were at least very familiar. We will have to trust, wait and behold what dangerous greatness lies ahead.

  1. Comment by Earle Bryan Carrubba on April 29, 2019 at 2:07 am

    I retired last year. I was 71. Thought I’d get ahead of the game, besides, my wife is in failing health, and I am sick to death of charge conference and statistical data and so on and so on. Gonna think about it. May jump back into the fray. Have always loved a good fight. Twenty-three year Navy veteran(66-89. Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer). And frankly, salvation is worth fighting for.

  2. Comment by Mary on April 29, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Hope you stay in, Earle!!

  3. Comment by Licensed Local Pastor on May 1, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Get back into the fight Senior Chief!! The denomination that will come out of this coming storm will need in the words of 1 John, Fathers who have known him who is from the beginning.

  4. Comment by Wayne on April 29, 2019 at 6:34 am

    The great Bible teacher David Pawson said it best, “the church follows society downhill, 15 years behind”. That has become a pretty accurate pattern.

  5. Comment by Pudentiana on April 29, 2019 at 7:48 am

    I am convinced that the prayers of our predecessors are in concert with the prayers of faithful living saints are uniting with the Holy Spirit to pluck this brand from the burning. Hallelujah! Christ is risen and He will lead His Church into the 21st century with power, truth and grace.

  6. Comment by Mary Kidwell on May 8, 2019 at 8:06 am

    My first thought when I read this article is that someone(s) has been faithfully praying.

  7. Comment by Bradley Pope on April 29, 2019 at 9:18 am

    When will this realistically happen with our Bishops, Ministers & seminaries all chasing hard after cultural approval? Are we talking a generation or a decade from now? I don’t have a generation to wait around while my children are taught to be cultural Christians by our church leadership…what does a regular Methodist lay person do in the meantime when there are so many other good options to jump to?

  8. Comment by Chris Downey on April 29, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Jesus said, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” Luke 21:19
    We need all believing Methodists to stay the course. It’s a privilege to be even a small part of this epochal movement of God.

  9. Comment by Lawrence Kreh on April 29, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    I have asked the same question, especially in my area (California). For now I as a layperson attend, with my son and grandkids, a congregation of another denomination while remaining active in the California WCA until a viable Methodist option exists in my community. Yet I choose not to leave my Methodist roots and Wesleyan theology just at the time so much good is at stake for future generations.
    We all have some sorting out to do, don’t we?

  10. Comment by David Samuelson on April 30, 2019 at 12:26 am

    It is in fact happening already. Pay attention. Get ready. The best is yet to be.

  11. Comment by David Samuelson on April 30, 2019 at 12:33 am

    It is happening now. Look around and you will see it.

  12. Comment by Dr. Lynn D. Moore on April 29, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Your best article yet! And its prophetic tone is hopeful and encouraging to so many Methodists! To God be the glory for the things He will do among us and through us for the transformation of the world!

  13. Comment by Jean Lash on April 30, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    I agree that Mark Tooley has out-done himself. Excited to be part of the new conservative Methodist movement!

  14. Comment by Andrew Hughes on April 29, 2019 at 11:06 am

    Thank you for your faithfulness and spiritual discernment Brother Tooley.

  15. Comment by Duane on April 29, 2019 at 11:18 am

    Counter Christian Methodism-no thanks.

  16. Comment by Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary (ret.) on April 29, 2019 at 11:24 am

    I don’t think I’ve read a better piece on this site.

    Someone please send a link to this article to the heads of the various UMC Boards & Agencies, the Council of Bishops, and the Deans of the UM-related Seminaries.

    “Church agencies, bishops and related schools were all predictable officiants for blessing conventional secular American opinion.”

    Standing ovation for that statement.

    “Many of these clergy trained in the ways of cultural conformity eventually will leave global United Methodism to create new liberal U.S. denominations that avoid countercultural adversity.”

    I doubt that will happen. Cranking up a “new liberal U.S. denomination” will be very difficult in an environment where there are already too many churches that fit that description seeking to attract a declining demand.

    “There are traumatic and exciting years ahead for Methodism as it painfully detaches from American cultural conformity and relearns how to be more fully part of the universal church. Who will teach us? Who will lead us?”

    Great questions. Perhaps it’s time for the laity to assume a greater leadership role. That model would, of course, threaten many among the clergy.

  17. Comment by Bill Burnette on April 30, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Yes, it is my belief that the separation between clergy and laity is a large part of the issue here. We are all called to the priesthood of believers.

  18. Comment by Richard on April 29, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    All the comments above are so very well stated, better than I could have said. Thanks to Mark and each of you. I hope N. C. Conference Pastors and lay leaders are reading this as it counters somewhat their Sacred Witness: Open letter, published after the February G.C. results.

  19. Comment by Diane on April 29, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Meanwhile nearly 100 young UMC kids in a single congregation have refused to be confirmed because of the adoption of the Traditional Plan. My UMC-raised family members, all senior citizens who live across the country from these young people, have vowed to never step inside a UMC church again.

    Your version of evangelism is creating more “nones”.

  20. Comment by MJ on April 29, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Woe to the adults who have misled God’s children. May God have mercy.

  21. Comment by An Arkansas Traditionalist on April 29, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    Yes, those children did not come to that conclusion on their own, but were influenced. Woe upon the heads of the ones who lead others down wrong paths.

  22. Comment by Patrick98 on April 29, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    I think you are using the wrong verbs. “To be confirmed” means that something is done to them. “Confirmation” is confirming for yourself the vows that were made on your behalf when one is baptized as a child. “Confirmation” is professing your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and publicly expressing your belief in Him as born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit, dying on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, being raised on the third day, and ascending to heaven to continually intercede for sinners like us. These young people are not rejecting the UMC by refusing confirmation, they are rejecting Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Universe. I pray that one day they will publicly confess his name as Lord.

  23. Comment by td on April 29, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Actually, you are both right. Confirmation is God pouring out the Holy Spirit on the person- like on the Church at pentecost- and it is the person accepting that Spirit by professing their belief in the teachings of the Church. It is both something that is done to them and something that they affirm and willingly receive.

    In this situation, it makes little sense for them to say that they are refusing confirmation; it would probably be more correct to say that they are refusing membership in the UMC. Membership in the UMC is not the same as being confirmed, so there is probably some bad catechesis going on at the Church as well.

  24. Comment by Reynolds on April 29, 2019 at 3:13 pm


    Can you provide proof of your statement?

    Thank you,

  25. Comment by William on April 29, 2019 at 3:47 pm

  26. Comment by Joan Wesley on April 29, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    And for the 50+ years before this mess came to a head the American United Methodist Church has been experiencing a consistent and uninterrupted numerical decline that has the capability to make the church disappear all on its own. Obviously the reason for this decline is that people have been deciding they want none of what the UMC has to offer.

  27. Comment by David on April 29, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Much of the decline can be attributed to demographics. The MEC/UMC reached its peak when the outsized Boomer generation was being born. Over 20% of the early Boomers are now dead and this will obviously increase in the next decade or two left to them. Meanwhile, birthrates fell to below replacement levels after the Boomers. Church numbers would fall for no other reason than the aging out of the membership with fewer children to replace them. Also northern churches had lower birthrates than southern ones. Hence the southern evangelical take over of the church would have happened even without the Africans. Then there is the steady drift to secularism and the rise of the “nones.” This happened decades ago in Western Europe and Canada and has belatedly reached the US. Population aging and decline is common in many advanced countries. It is probably most acute in Japan where interest in marriage and having children has fallen off. P.S., Japan does not have gay marriage.

  28. Comment by td on May 1, 2019 at 10:43 am

    You are both right: the church has been in decline due to both societal/demographic trends and its lack of providing and reaching out in ways that people are searching for. In the end, these are really one and the same thing.

  29. Comment by Steve on April 29, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Diane speaking approvingly of lying in a prior post: “sometimes it’s necessary that one…must conceal their identity to be God’s faithful servant…(employ) deception to serve God”. Not that her stories seemed believable in the first place.

  30. Comment by David Samuelson on April 30, 2019 at 12:41 am

    Those separating themselves are going to get cold out there in the dark.

  31. Comment by Paul W. on April 30, 2019 at 1:24 am

    By 100, I would assume Diane is actually referring to the 8 confirmands at First UMC in Omaha who decided not to join the UMC as a form of protest. This is an RMN affiliated congregation which advertises it’s LGBT youth/young adult group and participation in Pride events.

  32. Comment by Tom on April 30, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    Something something millstone around the neck…

  33. Comment by Pat Trammell on April 29, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Mark, I agree with many of our Brothers and Sisters in their comments. Your best insight yet.

    Christ has indeed “plucked us from the burning,” and leads us to a new day. For my children, and their children, I cannot wait!

  34. Comment by Evangeline Howard on April 29, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    As one who escaped the apostasy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, because a faithful shepherd led us in the right way (NALC), I now attend a country UMC because of location. I have watched this unfold, with angst and prayerful trembling. Yes, the seminaries are the problem! Sound theology can be found online, the Institute of Lutheran Theology.

  35. Comment by Mike on April 29, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    Evangeline: and at Asbury Theological Seminary, which has wisely stayed independent of the UMC since its beginning. I graduated from there with my M. Div. (thankfully), and believe it is another reason for the ongoing, faithful renewal movement within United Methodism over these past 50 years. Many pastors who graduated from Asbury have been faithful biblical ministers across our denomination.

  36. Comment by Loren Golden on April 30, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    “Many pastors who graduated from Asbury have been faithful biblical ministers across our denomination.”
    Many, perhaps, but not all.  According to the bio of the current pastor of the UMC congregation where I grew up (in a small town just southeast of Wichita, KS), this gentleman graduated from Asbury.  However, that did not stop him from writing in his blog, “For many years I have stood with and spoken out with the many wonderful people who are LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendering, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual). I continue to do so. I affirm all people whether you are heterosexual or LGBTQIA. You are loved. All of you. Every one of you.”

  37. Comment by Dr. Jeffery Neufeld on April 29, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    There is, of course a disconnect that you are ignoring. It took a whole lot of help from non-U.S. delegates to help you win the “culture war” or “counter culture war” or whatever you want to call it. It also took a lot of non-UM money from the foundations that have supported you in this battle which has been much more about politics than it has about religion—but I digress

  38. Comment by Judith Diehl Bucher on April 29, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Perhaps those young people chose not to be confirmed by an officiant who ranks the amount of a person’s sacred worth by whether or not they reflect scripture taken out of historical context. Perhaps they will move to a church where the words of Jesus Christ offer salvation, love and acceptance to all. Thank goodness that a loving Father reigns and that His is only judgement we face!

  39. Comment by Leon M. Green on April 29, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    And remember to still pray for those who lost their way. Judge not; gloat not; offering grace and mercy.

  40. Comment by Barry Sharp on April 29, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Last time I checked, Methodist and Wesley were always counterculture from theology to practice. Wesley wasn’t to welcome in the Church of England’s houses of worship, both Wesley and Asbury supported the crown during the American Revolution and Asbury was against slavery. Circuit riders wasn’t a very traditional model for church. Seems to me that going ultra conservative to the point of punishing those who think different goes against Wesley who taught us to live and let live as the things that join us are greater than the things that seperate us.

  41. Comment by James Bortell on April 29, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Dear friend,
    As a UMC minister and leader for more than 50 years I don’t feel the movement you favor is countercultural. Many in it are supportive of a president whose views and ways are rooted in the worst expressions of greed and self service. Many deny what is happening to our planet by our greed and ignorance. Many are anti-science. Many who favor abolishing Roe want to do nothing for infants and children that cost money–they are pro birth not pro life. Many see American nationalism as “Christian.” Many see nothing wrong with what is being done to children and refugee parents on our southern border. I could go on and on.

    The Institute is not a UM organization but a secular organization with a secular agenda.

    I feel like the church I have loved and served has been hijacked.

  42. Comment by Dan W on April 30, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    Pastor Bortell you seem to be confusing the UMC with a political party or political action committee. I have been a Methodist for 50+ years and I do not know these “many” Methodists you describe (slander) in your comment. I don’t need a “minister” like yourself preaching the political “cause of the week.”

  43. Comment by Ben U on April 30, 2019 at 12:57 am

    Your version of the UMC is anything but loving and Christ-like.

  44. Comment by Tony Heine on April 30, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Well said, Mark. Stay faithful and obedient. God will sort out the rest. The Church is the body of believers, not the roster of members in a particular denomination or institution. God has as much respect for these institutions as He does for persons. It is His Church that will live in eternal glory with Him.
    May God turn the hearts of those who have gone astray towards Himself. They are lost and delusional like the people of Nineveh in Jonah’s day who could not tell their right hand from their left. These lost souls cannot tell if someone needs to use the boys’ room or the girls’ room.

  45. Comment by Paul Cooper on April 30, 2019 at 10:15 am

    If there is a split into two or more new denominations, I believe “United” should not be in the name of any of them. As we know, it came from the EUB name in the 1968 merger. The current language in the BOD that’s causing all the turmoil began appearing later. We are neither United nor united now and, from all indications, won’t be in the future.

  46. Comment by Diane on May 1, 2019 at 2:36 am

    Amen! However, others use the term “United” and maintain diversity. The United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are free-church denominations. Congregations are autonomous and may choose to cooperate with or covenant with the wider expressions of church, whether denominational, ecumenical, or in interfaith contexts. These denominations have for decades been in an official partnership with each other and share a common Global Missions office. Several UCC conferences and Disciples’ regions have joint camping facilities. There’s a huge diversity of belief and practice in regard to human sexuality (and other issues as well) – no one and no church is “out of line” if they disagree with the majority. Many clergy in these two denominations have dual standing.

    I have been a part of both denominations, with a preference for the UCC because it’s churches tend to be more risk-taking in tackling issues requiring serious education, reflection and discernment – with a confession of “if we err, we do so on the side of love”.

  47. Comment by Dean Snyder on May 1, 2019 at 11:14 am

    In the 1970s, as a pastor, I began listening to parishioners who were gay. After studying Scripture, psychology, and ethics, and doing lots of self-reflection about my own homophobic feelings, I became convinced that homosexuality is a variety of human affection, rather than a “perversion.” Writings by Carlyle Marley, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, and others were helpful. Those of us advocating a change of mind were hardly reflective of the culture at the time, either within or without the church. Some of us paid a price. So I can only conclude that culture-friendly or counter-culture are not very good criteria for evaluating theological and ethical reflection. I am amused that the same people who were scorning our thinking in previous decades because it was counter to what everyone knew to be true are now condemning it because it supposedly reflects the larger culture.

  48. Comment by Joan Wesley on May 2, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    I lean towards the belief that overall the progressive movement is a cultural one for several reasons. First, because this did not become an issue until there was a cultural sexual revolution. Also, it is not unusual for the verbiage used inside the church and outside the church are identical. Furthermore, I believe it is these cultural inspired voices that have kept stirring the pot on this issue, making it impossible to have a rational conversation about anything. My feelings about many very verbal progressives is that their stance on sexuality does not bother me near as much as their verbiage and tactics do; they exhibit a type of harsh fundamentalist Christianity that I do not want any part of. There is also the reality that just like the culture, the question is no longer just about same gender relationships it is expanding into all manner of sexuality and there is no end in sight as to where this will end.

  49. Comment by Richard S Bell on May 1, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    I have offered Mr Tooley proof from Scripture, in accordance with traditional methods of interpretation, that God wills the Church marry homosexuals just as it marries heterosexuals. If Mr Tooley had accepted my offer and had read my essay with an open mind, he would no longer assume that Christians who advocate same-sex marriage are just courting approval of secularists. He would understand that Christians who advocate same-sex marriage are courting approval of God.
    I offer you my essay, which has been critiqued by many learned and mature conservative Christians, including eminent seminary professors. They have caused me to enlarge and improve the essay, but not one has impugned any of its important arguments. Ask for a copy of the latest version by email:

  50. Comment by Paul W. on May 2, 2019 at 12:57 am

    Untrue. I read your document. It’s just mind-numbingly long special-pleading wrapped in a weird easily debunked eisegetical framework.

    Worse, you state that by reading it, the reader is not allowed to reveal any details of your essay! From what i could tell, your real goal is to attempt to sway a subset of readers who are fairly Biblically illiterate to hopefully be swayed by your academic-sounding essay while keeping knowledgable folks from critiquing your specious arguments.

    Perhaps you might think this harsh? Then give me and others permission to post your essay online so that your “proof” will be open to examination and critique. Otherwise, your continued posting needs to be treated as disingenuous spam.

  51. Comment by Richard Bell on May 4, 2019 at 12:32 am

    It is a work in progress, though it has progressed pretty far. I keep finding conservative works related to the subject and keep enlarging or improving the essay because of them. That is the only reason — yes, the only reason! — I give it limited distribution. Thinking I limit distribution in order to seduce fools is foolish, without reasonable grounds. Actually, I seek readers who are knowledgeable folks able not only to critique but to refute my specious arguments. I have sent drafts of my essay unsolicited to the most eminent Christian scholars opposed to same-sex marriage, asking for their severest criticism. I am a conservative alienated from my fellows by advocacy of same-sex marriage. That makes me and them sad, but I will continue to propound the truth as my Lord is the Truth.
    Nothing you say is harsh, provided that it is reasonable. But that leads me to pose some questions.
    1. Are you knowledgeable and able to refute my specious arguments?
    2. If your answer to Q1 is yes, did you send me the refutation I asked you for?
    3. If you got as far as Q2, you understood it as rhetorical; why did you not send me the refutation?
    4. Where do you suggest I post my essay on line?

  52. Comment by Loren Golden on May 5, 2019 at 12:21 am

    “Where do you suggest I post my essay on line?”
    If you really want people to read and critique your essay, sir, then get a blog, post it there, and then link to it here. BlogSpot and WordPress both offer blog space for free.
    Few readers on this site want to give you their contact information. And besides, it is most unwise, in this age of identity theft and programs that troll the web looking for personal e-mail addresses, to post yours in such an insecure manner.
    “Are you knowledgeable and able to refute my specious arguments?”
    Go to the article, “Will the LGBTQ Progressive Agenda Capture the UMC in February 2019?”, posted January 9, 2019, on this website ( ), scroll to near the end of the comments section, and you will find my refutation of the specious arguments you posted in several comments there.

  53. Comment by Richard S Bell on May 5, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    I took your advice and read your comments. Having done so, I am even more strongly motivated to urge that you read my essay. (Please, overcome your fear of giving another your email address. I assure you that my real name and my email address are known to many hundreds of people, relatively few of them friends, and that it has not put me in danger.) Below are my responses to five things you say that seem most important to you. These responses are a very small part of the case for God’s will that I make in my essay.

    1. “Leviticus 18.22, which proscribes male homosexuality, is part of the Moral Law, which unlike the Ceremonial and Judicial Law, never passes away (WCF §19.5). This same proscription is further reiterated in the New Testament under Apostolic Authority (Rom. 1.24-27, I Cor. 6.9-11, I Tim. 1.8-11, Jude 7).”
    Leviticus 18:22 proscribed not homosexuality but homosexual conduct. Likewise, the condemnations in NT are condemnations of homosexual conduct, and these are prophetic judgments of conduct that violated the Seventh Commandment rather than statements of Moral Law.

    2. “In the first five verses, the Lord through Moses commands the Israelites, ‘You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you.’ (v. 3) Then He proscribes twelve forms of incest (vv. 6-18), knowingly and deliberately engaging in sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period (v. 19; compare Ezek. 18.6, 22.10; this is distinct from a man who happens to be engaged in sexual intercourse with his wife when her menstrual period begins [Lev. 15.24], which is part of the Ceremonial Law).”
    The Lord through Moses gave commandments that we call the Holiness Code, which distinguished the Hebrews as belonging to the Lord – as holy. How were they distinguished? By not doing as they did in the land of Egypt or in the land of Canaan. The Ten Commandments are Moral Law. The Holiness Code was not Moral Law, although some moral laws were mixed in here and there. You think the incest taboos, for example, were moral law? To the contrary, it is clear that the Moral Law does not forbid consanguineous sexual relations. Consanguineous sexual relations were consistent with the order of God’s creation before and after the Fall. Eve was Adam’s clone, yet God commanded her and Adam to produce children in the natural way. The grandchildren of Adam and Eve were issue of sexual relations between brothers and sisters, who must have married one another, having no alternatives. Also, consanguineous sexual relations were within God’s providence much later, as the children of Noah’s sons were almost certainly in the same kind of society as the children of Adam and so were married to siblings. Most significant is God’s blessing the marriage of Abraham and Sarah, who were brother and sister; Genesis 20:12. Nowhere in Scripture except in Leviticus 18 and 20 and in the Deuteronomic code are any of these marriages even implicitly impugned, and it is obvious that marriage taboos in the Old Testament are not Moral Law. Christians (and non-Christians) agree that it is right to deny marriage to siblings because of custom and good social policy. Even primitive people know that issue of consanguineous sexual relations are at great risk and social scientists agree that exogamy is important in extending and strengthening social relations; national interest opposes consanguineous marriage and it has been forbidden more or less in nearly every organized society that is known. God had good nation-building reasons for giving the ancient Hebrews legal restrictions on marriage of consanguines (and affines), just as God had good nation-building reasons for giving them all other Additional Commandments. According to Robert Gagnon,
    Each of the laws [in Leviticus 18:6-23 and 20:2-21] has as its intent the channeling of male sexual impulses into a particular pattern of behavior, a pattern conducive to the healthy functioning of a people set apart to serve God’s holy purposes. Within that general intent, though, the reasons for banning specific forms of sexual behavior vary.
    The laws against incest (18:6-18) may have had as many as four aims: (1) protecting females (both blood relations and in-laws), including girls, in the intimate context of an extended family from the predatory sexual habits of male family members; (2) reducing sexual temptations within the family and preventing infidelity, which breeds alienation and distrust in one’s spouse and could result in the dissolution of a family; (3) reducing intergenerational conflict, disorder, and dishonor that would arise through sexual rivalry within the family; and (4) ensuring healthy offspring by limiting inbreeding.
    Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, p. 137.
    This is so obvious that I need not even raise the question how to reconcile various statements of marriage taboos in Leviticus 18:7-11 and 20:11-21 and in Deuteronomy 20:30 and 27:20-23. I only observe that those taboos are irreconcilably different for men and women, which implies that they are not moral rules but political rules.

    3. “’Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.’ (vv. 24-25).”
    On the basis of this passage, you may reasonably say that these prohibitions were Purity Law and that the ancient Hebrews’ violating Purity Law would have had consequences as dire as dispossession of their land. This passage does not justify an inference that these prohibitions are Moral Law, binding on us.

    4. “Homosexuality is a sin against God, because it utterly divorces sexual intercourse from His intent for it in procreation. God created the first two members of our race as male and female, brought them together in covenantal marriage, and commanded them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’ (Gen. 1.27-28) ‘Did he not make them one with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.’ (Mal. 2.15) To dress homosexuality in a veneer of ‘marriage’ does not thereby make it holy and acceptable in the sight of God, because it is plainly obvious that the production of Godly offspring is impossible for two people of the same gender.”
    Against your inference from God’s command to procreate, there stand the teachings of Jesus and Paul, who made plain that the command is no longer normative. Christian tradition – at least, Protestant tradition – has understood this. The Church does not understand procreation to be an essential purpose of marriage and so it has not required procreational ability as a condition of marriage. The Church marries people who do not even have all necessary reproductive organs, and it marries them without scruple. The Church’s practice and conscience are right in this respect. An important purpose of marriage in the Bible was at first procreation, because God intended that sexual intercourse and protections afforded by the family cause eventually the earth to be populated with human beings, but Jesus and Paul taught that procreation is no longer an important purpose of marriage because God’s intention has been realized. Jesus and Paul taught that God now prefers his people be celibate, so that they give all to him instead of giving some of themselves to a spouse. Indeed, celibacy is a better anticipation of our future lives in heaven, all of us unmarried. God provides marriage to accommodate those of us who cannot now be as he prefers.

    5. “Furthermore, marriage in the Bible is used by the Prophets and Apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to point to the union of God with His People, of Christ with His Church, wherein the husband represents God or Christ, and the wife represents the Church or the Old Testament People of God (Is. 54.5-8, Hos. 1-3, II Cor. 11.2, Eph. 5.22-33, Rev. 19.7-9, 21.2,9-11), and this economy is nowhere in Scripture reversed. . . . Conversely, there is no revelatory or redeeming significance in same-gender ‘marriage’.”
    Marriage is an apt metaphor for God’s relations with his people not because it is in essence a relationship of male and female; marriage is an apt metaphor because its ideal is mutual commitment and self-sacrifice. Mutual commitment and self-sacrifice do not presuppose the difference between the sexes. The ultimate purpose of Christian marriage is not legitimizing the satisfaction of uncontainable sexual desire (though Paul said this is a purpose of marriage). Nor is it companionship (though God gave Adam his Eve so he would not be alone). Rather, it is as Paul stated: the ultimate purpose of marriage is to serve as a context for expressing mutual submission and love of another as Christ loved his Bride. Is this purpose served by marriage of homosexuals as it is served by marriage of heterosexuals? Yes. It has not been proven that homosexuals as such suffer any special disability in mutual submission or Christ-like love. Homosexuals, as readily as heterosexuals, can approach the ideals of Christian marriage.

  54. Comment by Loren Golden on May 30, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    Mr. Bell, I have the following comments against your rebuttal, above (the numbers correspond to those in your rebuttal):
    1. The only issue I would take of your statement in this section is that homosexuality IS homosexual conduct, or the intent to engage in homosexual conduct if given the opportunity.  Simply having same-gender sexual attraction no more makes one a homosexual than does an inborn susceptibility to overindulge in alcohol make one an alcoholic.  When an alcoholic repents of his overindulgence in alcohol, he ceases to be an alcoholic.  Likewise, when a homosexual repents of his homosexuality, he ceases to be a homosexual.  I reject the world’s demand that those who suffer from same-gender sexual attraction must, of necessity, find their identity in that attraction, and so perpetuate the lie that God somehow made them that way and does not consider it a sin, contrary to Scripture.
    To be sure, the desire to engage in homosexual intercourse arises from same-gender sexual attraction, regardless of whether it is wanted or not, and that desire proceeds from the fallen, corrupt human heart, as do all sinful desires.  Says the Lord Jesus, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person.” (Mt. 15.18-20, Mk. 7.20-23)  Likewise says His brother James, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (Jas. 1.12-15)
    And our responsibility, as the redeemed of the Lord, is to put to death those sinful desires we find in ourselves.  So says Paul, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Col. 3.5-6; see also Romans 6)
    However, we are agreed that homosexual conduct is proscribed in Leviticus 18.22.
    2. The Holiness Code was part of the Ceremonial Law, which was intended as a tutor or guardian (Gal. 3.23), to regulate the conduct of the nation of Israel with respect to external forms of how God intended for His people to approach Him with their sacrifices, and inasmuch as the whole system of sacrifices is passed away, having served its function as a shadow and a copy pointing to the perfect Sacrifice in the atonement of the Lord Jesus on the Cross, so, too, is the Ceremonial Law passed away, and with it the Holiness Code (Westminster Confession of Faith §19.3, quoted in my previous response, above).
    However, the proscriptions of Leviticus 18, including the proscriptions against incest that you singled out, belong to the Moral Law, not the Holiness Code of the Ceremonial Law, and are subsumed under the heading of the Seventh Commandment.  Again, as we Presbyterians confess,
    “The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are: adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage, having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.” (Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 139)
    Now with respect to incest, you state, “You think the incest taboos, for example, were moral law?  To the contrary, it is clear that the Moral Law does not forbid consanguineous sexual relations.”  And to support your case, you cite the examples of the sons of Adam marrying their sisters, and the fact that Abraham claimed that Sarah his wife was also his half-sister (Gen. 20.12).  You also infer that Noah’s grandsons married their sisters, but there is no Scriptural justification for this inference, inasmuch as they had cousins of varying degrees whom could marry, and there is no Scriptural injunction against the marriage of even first cousins (either in Lev. 18.6-18 or elsewhere), much less against more distant relations.  (You also claim that Eve was Adam’s clone, but there is no Scriptural justification for this either, inasmuch as God had to have replaced the Y-chromosome in Adam’s rib with an X-chromosome, and there is nothing in the text to suggest that He did not make further modifications of the rib’s genetic structure in the process of fashioning Eve.)
    That Cain and Seth (and any other sons that Adam and Eve might have had) married their sisters may be inferred by the absence of any other women with whom to mate (and we may rightfully infer that they did not mate with their mother, also proscribed in Lev. 18.7).  Paul likewise inferred it in his sermon on Mars Hill, when he said, “And (God) made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17.26)  However, the Scripture mentions nothing about where the sons of Adam procured their wives and certainly does not emphasize it.  From the necessity underlying this inference, it may be deduced that God granted the sons of Adam (of the first generation only) an exemption from what He afterward made as a law written on every human heart (Rom. 2.15), and later still codified in Leviticus 18.9, namely, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home.”
    With respect to Abraham’s statement to Abimelech, that Sarah was his sister, you assume that: (1) he was not lying, even after having lied (or told half-truths) to both Pharaoh (Gen. 12.11-16) and Abimelech (Gen. 20.2), in effect claiming that Sarah was not his wife; and (2) he meant it in the same sense that you and I are accustomed to taking it, namely, that Terah, Abraham’s biological father, was also Sarah’s.  Further, you will note that the claim appears only here, whereas in the passage regarding Abraham’s family of origin, Sarah (Sarai) is mentioned as Abraham’s (Abram’s) wife only and not as his (half-)sister, whereas it does mention that his brother Nahor married his niece Milcah (also not proscribed in Scripture), daughter of their brother Haran.  However, Calvin offers a different interpretation, namely, that Abraham and Sarah had a common grandfather but different fathers.  In his Commentary on Genesis 20.12, he writes,
    “Some suppose Sarah to have been Abraham’s own sister, yet not by the same mother, but born from a second wife.  As, however, the name sister has a wider signification among the Hebrews, I willingly adopt a different conjecture; namely, that she was his sister in the second degree; thus it will be true that they had a common father, that is, a grandfather, from whom they had descended by brothers.  Moreover, Abraham extenuates his offense, and draws a distinction between his silence and a direct falsehood; and certainly he professed with truth, that he was the brother of Sarah.  Indeed, it appears that he feigned nothing in words which differed from the facts themselves; yet when all things have been sifted, his defense proves to be either frivolous, or, at least, too feeble.  For since he had purposely used the name of sister as a pretext, lest men should have some suspicion of his marriage; he sophistically afforded them an occasion of falling into error.  Wherefore, although he did not lie in words, yet with respect to the matter of fact, his dissimulation was a lie, by implication.  He had, however, no other intention than to declare that he had not dealt fraudulently with Abimelech; but that, in affair of great anxiety, he had caught at an indirect method of escape from death, by the pretext of his previous relationship to his wife.”
    You have here narrowed down your argument to one particular subset of one particular sin, namely, incestuous marriage to one’s sister as opposed to the sin of incest with one’s sister, which is a species of sexual immorality, regardless of whether the man committing it is married to her or not.  You have overlooked the sin of taking a woman as a rival wife to her living sister (Lev. 18.18), of which relationship the whole nation of Israel was descended (Gen. 29.16-30).  You have also overlooked the proscription of engaging in sexual intercourse with one’s stepmother (18.8, Dt. 22.30, 27.20), a sin of which a member of the Church of Corinth was guilty, and which Paul calls, “sexual immorality … of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans,” commanding the Corinthian Church to excommunicate him (I Cor. 5.1-5).
    Moreover, in your haste to dismiss the whole of Leviticus 18 to the scrap heap of the “Holiness Code” with which God does not require the New Testament Church to comply, you neglected to account for the fact that God herein condemns the sin of adultery: “And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife and so make yourself unclean with her” (Lev. 18.21), the very sin expressly prohibited in the Seventh Commandment (Ex. 20.14, Dt. 5.18).
    Throughout the New Testament, the Lord Jesus and His Apostles uniformly and frequently condemn sexual immorality (Gk. porneia; Mt. 5.32, 15.19, 19.9, Mk. 7.21, Acts 15.20,29, 21.25, I Cor. 5.1,9-11, 6.9,13,18, 7.2, II Cor. 12.21, Gal. 5.19, Eph. 5.3,5, Col. 3.5, I Thess. 4.3, I Tim. 1.10, Heb. 12.16, 13.4, Jude 7, Rev. 2.14,20-21, 9.21, 14.8, 17.2,4, 18.3,9, 19.2, 21.8, 22.15).  When they speak of it, it is primarily (but not exclusively) the sins recounted in Leviticus 18 to which they refer.
    3. No, one may not reasonably say that.  God stated that it was for violation of the sins enumerated in Leviticus 18 that He was evicting the Canaanites and the Amorites from the Promised Land (Lev. 18.24-25,27).  Why would God hold a people, to whom He had not given the Ceremonial Law, accountable to a Holiness Code that was part and parcel of it, rather than of the Moral Law written on every human heart?  Go back and reread my argument; you did not answer my objection.
    My comments are continued below.

  55. Comment by Loren Golden on May 30, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    My comments to Mr. Bell’s rebuttal, continued from above:
    4. The Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul “made plain” no such thing.  The Lord wanted “godly offspring” of His Old Testament people but not of His Church?  Your claim makes no sense.
    Says Paul, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6.4)  Paul here presupposes that believers will have children, and he makes clear that those children need to be raised to love and respect the Lord, for the Lord in Malachi 2.15 states that He seeks “godly offspring” from the marriages among His covenant people.
    And when he proscribes women from teaching or exercising authority over men, Paul says, “Yet (the woman) will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” (I Tim. 2.8-15)  To be sure, Paul is not here saying that a woman can be saved from sin and death by childbearing, for that salvation can be had only by the grace of God alone through faith alone in Christ alone, apart from the works of the Law.  Rather, childbearing—and child rearing—is a good work and a holy calling.  Early in this passage, Paul writes, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”  And among these “good works” is childbearing.
    Furthermore, during his sermon at Pentecost, Peter says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2.38-39)  Note that Peter says that the covenant promises are not only for believers, but for their children also, for the Lord calls them to Himself.
    And when the Lord Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven (or of God)” (Mt. 19.14, Mk. 10.14, Lk. 18.16), do you suppose that He no longer desires godly offspring from His covenant people?
    Your claim is based on a gross misreading of Matthew 19.10-12 and I Corinthians 7.7-8,26-40.  In the first of these, the Lord Jesus is answering a question from the disciples, who said, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”  In the broader context, the Lord Jesus just answered a question from the Pharisees, who had asked about just grounds for divorce, saying that He does not permit a man to divorce his wife for any reason other than sexual immorality.  To the disciples’ question, He says, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.  For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.  Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”  By “eunuchs” He means those who can dispense with the marriage estate without resorting to sexual immorality.  The first of these three classes are those who by nature do not have a strong sex drive; the second are those who have been castrated, most often to serve a ruler in an official capacity and thus have access to the ruler’s harem (e.g., Acts 8.27-39); and the third are those (most likely including the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul) who have a spiritual gift from the Lord suppressing their sex drive.  But the Lord Jesus makes clear that only those who fall into one of these three classes can dispense with the marriage estate without resorting to sexual immorality, implying that heterosexual marriage with the production of children is still a normative obligation for adult believers under the New Covenant.
    Likewise, Paul makes clear that his advice for Corinthian believers to abstain from marriage is “a concession, not a command” (I Cor. 7.6), “no command from the Lord, but…(his) judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy” (I Cor. 7.25).  On this basis, he advises Corinthian unmarried believers, “it is good for them to remain single as I am” (I Cor. 7.8), and “in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. … Are you free from a wife?  Do not seek a wife.” (I Cor. 7.26-27)  His reasoning is this: “I want you to be free from anxieties.  The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord.  But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.  And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.  But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.  I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” (I Cor. 7.32-35)  And so, “he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.” (I Cor. 7.38)
    However, Paul recognizes that such is not the case with the majority of humankind: God intends for most men and women to marry, and that includes Christians.  “I wish that all were as I myself am (that is, able to dispense with the marriage estate without resorting to sexual immorality).  But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” (I Cor. 7.7)  Moreover, “because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” (I Cor. 7.2)  And again, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry.  For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.” (I Cor. 7.9)  You will kindly note that Paul here states that, lest we fall into sexual immorality, “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband”, not that each person should have a spouse of indiscriminate gender.
    In his discussion in the Institutes of the Seventh Commandment, Calvin writes,
    “Now, since natural feeling and the passions inflamed by the fall make the marriage tie doubly necessary, save in the case of those whom God has by special grace exempted, let every individual consider how the case stands with himself.  Virginity, I admit, is a virtue not to be despised; but since it is denied to some, and to others granted only for a season, those who are assailed by incontinence, and unable to successfully war against it, should betake to themselves the remedy of marriage, and thus cultivate chastity in the way of their calling.  Those incapable of self-restraint, if they apply not to the remedy allowed and provided for intemperance, war with God and resist his ordinance.  And let no man tell me (as many in the present day do) that he can do all things, God helping!  The help of God is present with those only who walk in his ways (Ps. 91.14), that is, in his calling, from which all withdraw themselves who, omitting the remedies provided by God, vainly and presumptuously strive to struggle with and surmount their natural feelings.  That continence is a special gift from God, and of the class of those which are not bestowed indiscriminately on the whole body of the Church, but only on a few of its members, our Lord affirms (Mt. 19.12). … Let no man rashly despise matrimony as a thing useless or superfluous to him; let no man long for celibacy unless he is able to dispense with the marriage state.  Nor even here let him consult the tranquility and convenience of the flesh, save only that, freed from this tie, he may be the readier and more prepared for all the offices of piety.  And since there are many on whom this blessing is conferred only for a time, let every one, in abstaining from marriage, do it so long as he is fit to endure celibacy.  If he has not the power of subduing his passion, let him understand that the Lord has made it obligatory on him to marry.” (Institutes II.8.42,43)
    The only two options that the Lord Jesus in Matthew 19 and the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 7 give for believers with respect to the expression of human sexuality are fidelity within the confines of the covenant of lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual marriage and chastity in singleness. And if believers do engage in marriage, the expectation is that they will produce children (unless unable to do so due to barrenness or pressing medical issues that threaten the life of the mother should she become pregnant), as has been the Lord’s stated intent for the marriage estate ever since His institution of the covenant at the very beginning of our race.  Marriage is not a second-rate covenant that “God provides…to accommodate those of us who cannot now be as he prefers”, for the covenant of lifelong, monogamous marriage of one man to one woman points to the mystical union of God with His people, of Christ with His Church, wherein the husband, not the wife, represents God or Christ, and the wife, not the husband, represents the people of God or the Church of Christ, which brings us to your last point.
    5. Marriage is a metaphor established by God, in which the roles of the husband and wife have revelatory significance.  Nowhere in any of the Scriptural references wherein earthly marriage points to the mystical union does the wife represent God or Christ, or the husband the people of God or the Church.  The husband is called to love his wife as Christ loves the Church, and the wife is called to respect and submit to her husband’s authority, as the Church is called to respect and submit to Christ’s.  This is the expression by which husbands and wives are called to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5.21-33).
    To say, then, “Homosexuals, as readily as heterosexuals, can approach the ideals of Christian marriage”, is to suggest that Christ may dispense with His mystical union with the Church and be thus joined with Himself, excluding her, and that the Church may dispense with her mystical union with Christ and be joined to herself, excluding Him.  This is a horrible perversion of God’s established metaphor, for it obliterates the unique revelatory purposes for which God made us “male and female” (Gen. 1.27-28, 2.24, Mt. 19.4-6), in order to justify sin.  Far from not having “proven that homosexuals as such suffer any special disability in mutual submission or Christ-like love”, the very nature of homosexual “marriage” demonstrates that two men or two women submitting to each other sexually is done in utter spite of the commandments and covenants of God, for it points not to God and His kingdom, but to man and his, for it is of man’s device and is intended for his own pleasure.  It is, as I previously stated, a perversion of the covenant that God established at Creation, and it cannot fulfill the temporal purposes for which God established marriage in the beginning.

  56. Comment by Richard S Bell on July 5, 2019 at 11:12 am

    My dear brother,
    You ought to read my essay. Having made arguments like these out of context, you miss points. Having made arguments like these out of context, you knock down straw men. This is no good way to arrive at understanding of Scripture.
    Traditionalists can well defend their interpretations of Scripture. I would not claim destruction of their arguments, which I myself used for many years. I claim my interpretations are better, all things considered.
    Alas, a lot of my traditionalist adversaries are public intellectuals who seem to fear that they have staked their reputations on proof that same-sex marriage is against God’s will and to be emotionally unreasonable about it.

  57. Comment by Loren J Golden on July 8, 2019 at 4:57 pm


    A “straw man argument”, as defined by Webster, is “a weak or imaginary opposition (such as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted”. My responses to your posts, in both above and “Will the LGBTQ Progressive Agenda Capture the UMC in February 2019?” ( are directly to your arguments posted both here and there, not to some paraphrase of my own devising that was intended to reduce what you have said to something that could easily be “knocked down”, as you put it.

    Your arguments on this site, on behalf of your premise, are weak and evasive. You are quite selective of the “traditional methods of interpretation” you employ in your argument, using only those that present a façade of supporting your case (such as the parallel you drew between Romans 1.26 and Romans 11.24 regarding the phrase “contrary to nature”), while ignoring the immediate context of the passage in question that has much more bearing on the interpretation of the passage, as I have already pointed out above. Likewise, when I pointed out that God explicitly told Moses in Leviticus 18.24,25,27 that He was evicting the Canaanites, Amorites, etc., from the Promised Land because they had committed all the sins proscribed in Leviticus 18, your response was, “you may reasonably say that these prohibitions were Purity Law and that the ancient Hebrews’ violating Purity Law would have had consequences as dire as dispossession of their land.” You evaded my point and did not answer my objection. Who, then, is creating “straw man arguments”?

    On the basis of what I’ve seen you publish in the Comments section of this website, I have no doubt that the arguments that you use in your highly self-promoted paper are no less weak, evasive, and ultimately unpersuasive than those you have employed here. And in case there were any doubt, “Paul W.”, who replied to one of your comments above, wrote that he actually responded to your offer and was sent a copy of your essay, that you expressly withheld permission “to reveal any details of your essay”, and that he found it to be “mind-numbingly long special-pleading wrapped in a weird easily debunked eisegetical framework.” This tells me that, despite all your puffed-up self-promotion and bravado, such as how “dozens of mature and learned Reformed Christians, including eminent seminary professors, all of whom opposed same-sex marriage as forbidden by God, (have criticized your essay,) and no one has refuted any of its main arguments”, you have no confidence that your essay will stand up to public scrutiny.

    So, until you are willing to get a blog of your own and publish your essay there, thereby subjecting it to public scrutiny, I, for one, have no interest in investing the time to read it.

  58. Comment by Tracy on May 2, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    Do the research yourself:

    It was no accident, but a very organized concerted effort to indoctrinate people. Money and funding, unfortunately, persuaded some to ignore and try to rewrite the Bible, you know, because God didn’t really mean that for 21st century people. I urge everyone to follow the timeline and you will see how we got to this impasse. Time to decide where you stand and know this cannot continue without a separation and branching into two ministries or no one will be able to effectively do ministry at all. I have certainly been guilty of not paying enough attention to what is going on in our United Methodists churches and conferences and the propaganda that is being promoted and put out there. I urge everyone to realize that there is not a way together, but we can and must stop harming each other and let the healing begin. We cannot continue to be so vicious to one another. Be silent no more, traditionalists pay attention to what is happening in the Methodist Church. Doctrinally speaking, our Methodist discipline foundation is very firm and directly from the Bible, God’s Word. (I am speaking to myself and those in my conference and church, who were led to believe that it doesn’t “really” affect us what another far liberal conference or church is doing.) Yes, it most certainly does impact our ministry! We must always show compassion and love for all, but not vitiate our beliefs and dishonor the many saints who sacrificed on our behalf, so that we may have the church today.

  59. Comment by Greg on May 7, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Mark – where can we get the pic? Did you source it somewhere and I missed it?

  60. Comment by Greg on May 7, 2019 at 11:03 am

    if this is it – I don’t find a title or author –×475.jpg

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