The Sheep and the Goats

This week the Kellogg West Conference Center located in Pomona, California, will host the 32nd annual Kinship Kampmeeting.    The web site, Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, gives details about the gathering including a daily schedule, topics and presenters.   It also posts this disclaimer.   

Due to confidentiality issues we are not be able to advertise the names of some of our speakers. We so appreciate their willingness to speak to us and we will show our respect by protecting their identities. We thank you for understanding!

The necessity of anonymity required at the Kampmeeting also exists for the most part in our local churches.    As long as a homosexual person is single, celibate and keeps his/her mouth shut they may be accepted.    He/she can lead out in Pathfinders, teach Sabbath school, lead the choir and fully participate in church life.   He/she can be looked up to and respected.   But watch the atmosphere change should they be 'outed'.  Suddenly they cease to be “one of us” and become “one of them.”

It is human nature to fear and condemn that which is different from us.  Since it is difficult for some to understand how an individual can be emotionally and physically attracted to someone of the same sex,   the typical response is to label them strange, weird and/or queer.   Having thus “labeled” them (i.e. treated them as an object) it is then easy to assume moral superiority and correctness.  It also helps if one can use scripture to justify one’s self-righteous position.  

After all, the bible seems perfectly clear.*   Neither the “effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” shall inherit the kingdom of God.   Likewise there are countless biblical references to the “sin of Sodom” and the wrath of God toward sodomites.  

Sometimes words can get in the way of our understanding.  Take, for example, the word eternal, as in “eternal” burning hell.   Those of Adventist indoctrination know that before making a generalized judgment as to the duration of hell fire, one should take into account other uses of the word “eternal”.  Just taking words literally is not necessarily a safe bible study method.  Such has been the case with the word, sodomy.       

When women are sexually assaulted the word used is “rape”.   Rape is an act of violence; it has nothing to do with sexual love.   When men are sexually assaulted the word used is “sodomy”.   Sodomy does not require a penis.  Men can be sodomized by broomsticks.  When one is sodomized it is a violent act that has nothing with sexual love.   The ubiquitous middle finger salute is universally recognized sign of disrespect.  Sodomites are individuals who use and abuse individuals for fun and sport.   They are not making love. 

Homosexual men are not normally sexually aroused by females, and yet in the biblical town of Sodom, from which we get the word, sodomy, and in the parallel story of Gibeah in the book of Judges, the sexual abuse of women was a large part of the stories.   In Gibeah, the men of the city surrounded the house and said, “Bring out the man who came into your house, so that we may… “ do what?  Make love to him?    No, the men desired to sodomize the stranger - to rape him.   The householder replied, “No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly, since this man is my guest.” 

However to placate the mob, the guest’s concubine was seized and thrown out to the men.  “They wantonly raped her and abused her throughout the night until morning, then let her go.”  This is hardly descriptive of the actions of homosexual men.   In Sodom “all the men of the city, young and old to the last man” came to Lot’s house and called for access to the strangers.   I seriously doubt if the entire city was populated by homosexual men.    

Both of these stories appear to describe rape and sodomy being done by heterosexual males.     The “sin” of these towns was not anal intercourse, but their failure to extend expected hospitality to travelers and their desire to humiliate and abuse them instead. (Ezekiel 16:49)    The story of Sodom is told in direct contrast with the hospitality extended to the same strangers by Abraham, who “entertained angels unaware”.   In the city of Sodom and the Judean town of Gibeah the citizens sought to violate and abuse the stranger within their gates.    So when the Bible speaks of sodomy as an abomination to the Lord, it is correct.  God does not countenance rape or sexual abuse of either males or females. 

The sexual act itself is neutral, it is nether good or bad – it is how sexuality is used that determines its morality.  The human body has been intelligently designed to allow sexual pleasure to be experienced in many and varied ways.  Fortunately for couples, who by virtue of accident, disability, medication side effects, age or illness cannot engage in coitus or assume the missionary position, there are alternatives.  Far be it from anyone to dictate the nature of a mutual and satisfactory sexual experience between committed sexual partners. 

In chapter one of the book of Romans, Paul describes people who exchange the truth about God for a lie.  The people about whom he writes are representative of Roman culture in general.  Before the end of the chapter Paul will list in detail the actual character traits of this reprobate society.   God, he says, has given them up to “the lusts of their hearts”, “to degrading passions” and to “a debased mind.”     His description is of those who use people for their own sexual gratification and who act outside of trust relationships with God and with each other.  They are treating other human beings as sexual objects or as playthings.  And that was their sin - not their sexual orientation.   

The kind of sexual activity I see condemned in Scripture is activity that “uses” another person, activity that demeans a person and treats another human being as an object.  Any activity of that nature can and should be condemned, whether that activity is engaged in by homosexuals, bisexuals or heterosexuals.  There is a vast difference between people who use and abuse others for their own lewd and selfish gratification and people who unselfishly give love and tender care to others.  There is a clear distinction between those who respect the humanness and dignity of others and those who merely see others as objects to be sexually exploited.

Yes, we must call sin by its right name and there are many names for sexual sin, rape, incest, pedophilia, and sexual battery for a start.  The Bible clearly spells out what activities constitute sexual sin: self-centered sexual behavior, using other people for one’s own gratification, treating people as objects, raping, sodomizing and inhuman sexual treatment of another human, abusive, manipulative and lascivious sexual behaviors, and prostitution done in the name of religious worship.

Sexual sin is no respecter of gender.  A heterosexual can use another person for their own personal sexual pleasure.  A husband can rape his wife.  Both men and women can sexually abuse children.  Both men and women can live promiscuous and licentious lives.   Both men and women can use sex for power and control and both can engage in sinful sexual behavior.  

I do not condone lewd and lascivious behaviors  in either homosexuals or heterosexuals.  I do not endorse or defend criminal or immoral behaviors.   While homosexual people deserve the same rights, privileges and respect that heterosexual people enjoy, if they exhibit bad taste, act immorally or criminally then they deserve to be judged in the same way and by the same standards by which heterosexuals are judged.   

Jesus said in the judgment there will be but two classes of people, the sheep and the goats; those who trust God and those who don’t;  those who live to bless and praise the Lord and those whose thoughts are evil continually. 

Sheep are those who feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and visit the sick and imprisoned.  These folks have genuine love and brotherly affection for the saints, they hate what is evil and hold to what is good, they are aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord, are patient in tribulation, constant in prayer, contribute to the needs of the saints and practice hospitality.  As to their characters, they demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self control.

The goats are those who ignored the hungry and thirsty, turn away from the stranger, never clothe the naked nor visit the sick & imprisoned.  They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless, covetous and full of envy.  They are dogs, sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, and those who love and practice falsehood.  They demonstrate the works for the flesh by their immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, drunkenness and carousing.

How horrible – how cruel – how barbaric -  how senseless  it is that a human being who demonstrates all the qualities and character traits of a sheep,  has to wake up every morning knowing there are good people out there who would classify them as a goat. 

It is a shame that people who are good and kind, respectful of others, honest and truthful, good neighbors and good friends, should have to wake up each morning with the thought that they are an abomination to the Lord and are pitied by their Christian brothers and sisters just because of who they are! 

It is a shame that people who love the Lord with all their heart should be told by their brothers and sisters that they are deviate, abnormal, infected with antisocial sin, unfortunate and even dangerous and encouraged to “pray the gay away!”  Just think of the damage such verbal abuse must do to a person’s psyche!  

On Friday night the congregation at the Kinship Kampmeeting will gather around the table of the Lord and celebrate communion.  This will be a time of both joy and of sadness - joy for the fellowship of like-minded believers who share the blessed hope of a soon coming Savior and sadness for the inability of many in their personal families and in their church families to openly and fully embrace them as God’s children, the sheep of His pasture.   

 

*I will not be discussing the Levitical purity laws in this column.  

 

 

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Sat, 05/10/2014 | San Diego Adventist Forum
Monique Vincent, PhD candidate, University of Chicago

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