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H2 Born Gay: Scientific Fact or False Idol of Bad Science?

The science of whether sexual orientation is biological is pretty sparse and full of disparate, mixed and unreplicated findings.i

I’ll get right to the point. The above line from a USA Today article challenges the simple rallying cry of the gay rights movement, born gay, that is the basis for the huge shift in both the cultural and political attitude towards the LGBTQ community,

The article goes on to elaborate that using that slogan has been “central” to moving the population to their cause, The pro-gay argument is that if people can’t be helped then denying them political rights is wrong.

Christian gay rights activists have extended the logic to how gays should be treated in the church. The Christian gay movement has grown to now include a new theological framework that revises the previous teaching on homosexuality and teaches that homosexual sex in a monogamous marriage is blessed by God. The basis of this is traced back to the born gay mantra. As one pro-gay writer put it, “It’s simply who you are” (so its wrong call the behavior wrong.) ii

The USA Today article further articulates on the born gay debate. It quotes Jane Ward, a university professor and author of Not Gay, Sex Between White Men. Regarding the being born gay issue, Ward says that anyone that supports gay rights has to believe the “born gay” mantra even while many LGBTQ don’t believe it claiming it shouldn’t be necessary for them to have their rights. Ward calls it “almost an obligatory story”. But she further explains that it really isn’t that simple and she says that over time people do take ownership of their queerness (as opposed to being born that way).

The concept that is at stake is fixed versus fluid nature in sexuality. If people are born gay then that sexual nature is fixed. But if it is not fixed then it is called fluid because it can change.

Its a great article (the link is on the endnotes). But, the article dismisses the idea that the opposite of born gay is a simple choice, rather elaborates on the history of the science of sexuality pioneered by Alfred Kinsey and goes on to explain that sexuality is not purely biological but a combination of biology, psychology, and social interaction. Gayness isn’t turned on with a simple decision, rather a complex interaction of biological, social, and psychological factors from the toys kids play with to social interactions to physiological conditions interacting behind the process. Everything points to it being a complicated process scientifically with no clear answers yet. Read the article for all the details but here are some key points.

Identical twins are great cases to show the genetic component involved in an aspect of people lives. The article points out that if one of the twins is gay it is more likely that the other is straight than gay, powerfully suggesting that DNA alone is not determinant in the process that results in a person becoming homosexual.

There are many LGBTQ who do not identify themselves as born gay, rather they say that their sexuality is fluid. They argue that their rights should not need this false slogan, but argue the legitimacy of their cause for other reasons.

Studies that show differences biologically between gay and straight don’t determine whether biology caused the difference or the difference caused the biology. There is an interesting study by Simon Levay of the size of the hypothalamus being different in the autopsies of gay vs straight men that is used to illustrate that point.

This article highlights some of the issues in of same-sex marriage and the promotion of individuals promoting LGBTQ in the church.

Remember, it’s not just Conservatives that cry that the science of “born gay” is flawed, its Pro-Gay groups that argue also that the science is not only not there but shouldn’t be needed. iii “The false belief in biological determinism does considerable damage.” iv The article with that line goes on to say that the reason that scientists and activists alike have promoted this fiction is the fear of the perception that the opposite of born gay is a simple choice. The article also argues the complexity of the process that ends in the way that sexual nature is expressed. This article, by a sociologist, argues heavily on the importance of social construction. In fact, he argues that gender, as well as race for that matter, does have some biological underpinnings, but is more due to social construction than anything else. He cites as an example the Brazilian saying that “money whitens” and enables people of color to move up the social ladder. In the article he calls the born gay argument the “false idol of bad science.”v Yes, the part of the title of this article referring to bad science doesn’t come from a conservative Christian, it refers to a pro gay article written by a sociologist.

This is a huge debate. You can see a pro and con debate side by side at borngay.procon.orgvi. This page is not a debate by average Joes, rather, everyone has a string of initials after their name. The pro side shows actual participants who swear they didn’t make the choice to be gay. They affirm the APA statements ruling homosexuality as normal as scientific proof of the legitimacy of their claim. It includes statements by people who believe that their gayness is absolutely in their DNA.

The Con challenges the scientific basis, begs for the proof of the genetic component of homosexuality and cites the counter cases: people who have changed from gay to straight, the prison phenomenon where individuals become “gay” for their term and then revert to straight when released.

Statements of any type including that homosexuality is not outside the realm of normal behavior by the APA and the AMA are not scientific proof. They are opinions of people with training in their field. Scientific proof requires tests that show reproducible results in a laboratory. Not too long ago both groups had very different stances on this and a host of issues. Of course, everyone believes that both medical science and psychology have advanced with the times. And I certainly go to the doctor and have talked with psychologists, both with good results, although, like a lot of people, not always. But these are organizations that in my lifetime, while I was young, performed vibrator treatments on women to cure hysteria and lobotomies to cure mental illness. My point is that these groups have always been capable of promoting policies that everyone now agrees are unsound. To use their statements now as scientific proof to revise biblical interpretation is at the very least, premature. People don’t normally go to a medical doctor or psychologist for spiritual advice, and this area is no exception.

Sexual issues are very powerful, and complicated. Consequently, they are very hard to deal with. The multiplicity of issues involved in the LGBTQ world are no exception.

The above statement does not mean they are beyond God’s power. As Christians, we say we believe that God has the power to change, to heal, and to deliver. Programs and examples that haven’t worked are not proof that God can’t work in this powerful, emotional, complicated area.

Consequently, Pro-gay Christian proponents that argue the born gay argument and say that the homosexuality as sin doctrine has to be revised because it produces the negative fruits of depression, despair, and even suicide because they were born that way are misguided. That argument only holds if it’s really true that gays are born that way. Not only is there not any proof to justify that position, but counter-proofs like the existence of ex-gays, the testimony of scientists including pro-gay scientists that teach that sexuality is fluid and the testimony of some current gays that sexuality is not fixed besides all these ex-gays professing that fact all lead to the conclusion that the born Gay slogan has been a powerful argument that is still heavily promoted, but is, in fact, fiction.

iUSA Today article “’Born that way’? It’s way more complicated than that dated June 15, 2017 and updated April 10, 2018 located at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/16/born-way-many-lgbt-community-its-way-more-complex/395035001/

iiGod and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines, Convergent Books, New York, 2014, p. 29

iiiAeon, Why Should Gay Rights Depend on Being Born This Way?, at https://aeon.co/essays/why-should-gay-rights-depend-on-being-born-this-way

ivIbid

vIbid

vihttps://borngay.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001335

August 21st, 2019 Posted by | Homosexualtiy, Koine (Biblical) Greek | no comments

LP4000 The Role of Tradition and its Old Testament Influence

It would be remiss to discuss the Old Testament and its relevance to Original Christianity without talking about the oral traditions called the Talmud in later times. In the Bible, they are just called the tradition of the elders.

In Jewish history, for as long as there has been a written law, there has been an oral law that is “ a set of teachings, interpretations, and insights that complement the written Torah.” that were part of Jewish life.i In fact, Orthodox Jews believe that Moses received this oral law, also called the oral Torah , when he received the written law. From there it was passed on orally, from elders to Prophets, to the men of the Great Assembly and on and on. Many Jews consider this oral Torah just as much the word of God as the written Torah.ii

Of course, there are factions within Judaism that don’t take things as literally as the more conservative sects just as in all other religions. And so you might encounter Jews for which the Talmud is considered a valuable book, but to them, it evolved over time and some of it is no longer relevant.

Basically, according to Jewish authority, the need for the Talmud stems from the brevity of the sections of the Law in the Torah. For example, how do you perform a wedding ceremony? What does “an eye for an eye” mean exactly? How do you handle sacrifices when the temple is destroyed and that is the only supposed place for them?iii

The Talmud is further broken down into two parts, the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Mishnah is the collection of legal rulings by noted Rabbis such as First-century Rabbis. Hillel and Shammai as well as others. The Mishnah is organized into 6 basic Sedarim (orders) relating to areas of seeds, set feasts, women, damages, Hallowed things, and Purities. Within each order are numerous tractates.

The Gemara is a book of discussions commenting on the teachings in the Mishnah. It has stories, legends, parts of sermons, and other teachings relating to the relationship between the Torah and Mishnah.

The Talmud was strictly oral until the first and second centuries when the destruction of the Temple, as well as the increasing complexity of the tradition, impressed the need for codifying the material into a written form. Judah Ha-Nasi is credited with the first edition of the oral law creating a written Mishnah at the beginning of the third century.

There is a claim that the Talmud is unchangeable and if that were true then we would know what it was in Jesus’ and the Apostle’s time but evidence shows that it is a changing document so as conditions in the world changed so did the commentary on what was appropriate in the Talmud.

The fact that the written version wasn’t written down until the third century and has been updated since leaves us uncertain about some of what was the oral tradition in the time of Jesus and the Apostles but there are New testament references that talk directly about some issues.

Let’s look at a Talmud example relating to the mixing of seeds

“You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material. (Lev 19:19)

Here in the law is a law on mixing species, seeds and materials. We will look at seeds for our example.

The same laws are in Deuteronomy chapter twenty-two. Look at verse nine:

“You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. (Deu 22:9)

So we see that mixing seeds in a field is strictly forbidden. Now let’s see what the Talmud says?

There is a discussion on chabad.org about the Talmud on these verses.iv They explain that mixing seeds or species is called kilayim. They note that there are 77 Mishnah related to this topic with “elaborate analysis”. That is a lot of discussions!

Looking at Kiddushin 39a we see Gemara comments asking whether the field is part of the Land of Israel, and then the Gemara answering that the prohibition of diverse seeds doesn’t apply outside Israel.

Another comment in the same Kiddushin 39a relates that Rav Hanan and Rav Anan saw a man planting wheat and barley between grapevines. So one says the Master should ostracize him but the other says that since Rabbi Yoshiya said one is not wrong unless he sows these three seeds with one hand motion he is not to be ostracized.v

So, in this case, these three different plants growing near each other is not an example of mixed seeds in a field. Notice that this is not the strictest interpretation of the law. It is an example that sometimes the strictest interpretation isn’t chosen, at least by some Rabbis.

The point apparently here is that it is not as simple as it looks. In this example there are different plants planted near each other which some might say is mixing seeds. But looking at the Talmud we see guidance that this example does not constitute sowing mixed seeds as the seeds are not sown together in one hand motion.

As far as seed mixing goes there are many other references to consider if those circumstances don’t match yours. And this has not been an exhaustive study by any means, just an illustration of researching the Talmud for answers. The source referenced above lists 77 Mishnahs involved.

Because of this level of inspection and review the Talmud is approximately 10 times the size of the Torah. The Babylonian Talmud is listed as 2711 pages. It is very complicated and its sheer size requires much study to know what it truly says. The sheer size of the information involved can make it confusing. In order to avoid breaking the law, it appears that the Talmud is the final authority to at least some children of God although many appear adamant that the Torah is the Word of God and the Talmud is only advice.

Remember that the Talmud was in oral form during Original Christianity but it was painstakingly handed down from generation to generation just as it was painstakingly adhered to by some Jewish leaders.

iJudaism for Dummies, Rabbi Ted Falcon and David Blatner, Wiley and Sons, Hoboken NJ, 2013, p.39

iiIbid

iiiIbid

ivhttps://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3570273/jewish/What-Is-Kilayim.htm

vhttps://www.sefaria.org/Kiddushin.39a.12?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

July 30th, 2019 Posted by | The Law and The Prophets | no comments

1.2 The Synagogue Became a Substitute For The Temple

We have looked at how the liturgy developed in the old Testament from simple sacrifices held by heads of households to the giving of the Law and God-given instructions for a much more elaborate liturgy. We also have looked at how the Israelites started their own traditions that accompanied some of these rituals in books like the Haggadah where additional details were added to the Seder meal.

Next, we are going to look at the development of the synagogue which was in full swing by the time of original Christianity. While the Temple was major in Judaism at that time and others, the synagogue became more of a center of everyday Jewish life.

The origins of the synagogue are uncertain, but we do know a few things. When the law was given the Tabernacle was the center of worship. Once the Temple was built the Temple became the center of worship. The temple was unavailable, however, during periods of Exile or when it was destroyed. So it is believed that the synagogue became a replacement for the Temple at that time.

The Babylonian captivity started in 597 BCi. The general opinion is that that is when synagogues started. By the time of Jesus, synagogues appeared wherever Jews lived together.ii

Similar to the Greek word for church, ekklesia, meaning called out or assembly the greek word for synagogue is sunagoge, also meaning assembly. While both words later came to also mean the buildings where people assembled, both words actually refer to the gathering of people together.

A synagogue, then, is a gathering of God’s chosen people. There is a record in Ezekiel of a gathering of elders that some think is a reference to a synagogue:

In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me. (Eze 20:1)

Ezekiel was a prophet at the time of the Babylonian captivity and lived in exile in Babylon and this verse looks like him meeting with the leadership of a Babylonian synagogue, but that is not certain.

Also in the Book of Ezekiel is a reference that Jewish leadership interpreted as meaning that the synagogue would be a substitute for the Temple for Jews that lived in other nations:iii

Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ (Eze 11:16)

Synagogues did not have defined dimensions and specifications from the Torah like the Temple so the edifice itself depended on the wealth and abilities of the participants although there are specifications given in the Talmud.

There is a description in Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah of an ancient synagogue that describes various beautiful ornamentations on the doors and moldings, two colonnades forming a passageway east and west separating the gallery of men from the pulpit and chief seats, the structure including a supposed women’s gallery, the floor being a slab white limestone and the walls impressively two to seven feet thick. There was an area for the movable ark, the Bima (elevated stand) that held the luach or desk where the scrolls were read, and a chair for the speaker to sit. (The law is read standing, the sermon is given seated.)iv

These were a few of the guidelines that the Jews themselves apparently enacted. Other guidelines include the participants seated facing Jerusalem, the building should be conspicuous, preferably on the highest ground around with the roof above surrounding buildings.v

Synagogues were segregated, men alone in the main chamber with women and children separated from the men to avoid distractions. The ruler of the synagogue was elected by the elders. The order of service was a creed, prayers, readings from the scrolls, a sermon, and a question and answer period for men to question the minister. There was the movable ark of sacred scrolls in a curtained alcove behind the pulpit, only to be opened by doctors of the law. Between the alcove and the pulpit were the chief seats, also known as Moses seats where the chief teachers and readers sat.vi

The purpose of the synagogue was not sacrificing as in the Temple, but rather instruction. Teachers of the Law taught and expounded. There was also praying and singing. Priests weren’t in charge of synagogues, but they would be honored guests. Also, tithes were not used to finance the synagogue, they were dependent on free will offerings. Persons known to be knowledgeable would be allowed to speak, especially people who were good at explaining the law.vii

The main difference between the Temple and the synagogue besides the Temple being in Jerusalem and synagogues being built everywhere is that in the synagogue the reading of the Torah took the place of sacrifice in the Temple.viii

The synagogue was a community center besides being a place of worship. It housed the local school, the local government including the local court, as well as being a public meeting place. The elders of the synagogue were magistrates and local authorities.ix

The synagogue appears to have become the place where God was brought to the people in substitution for the Temple. I don’t know how this became okay in light of God’s declaration that he would name the place for worship and sacrifice (Deut 12:5) but it is clear that there was no sacrifice at synagogue so all the details of this verse are not being violated.

The Gospels talk about the courts and disciplining that happened in the synagogue:

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, (Mat 10:17)

In an adjunct room to the assembly hall, the synagogue housed the local court system where the law was strictly interpreted, and the punishment was often severe. Punishments included excommunication, scourging, and death. Scourging was limited to 40 stripes, but to avoid mistakes (a punishable mistake itself) stripes were limited to 39. There were 168 faults for which the punishment was scourging.x There is also more than one form of excommunication.

The Talmud does have specifics on synagogues. I could not find any ancient Talmud references about the synagogue but there are some online for the current times.xi There are specifications there for both the structure and what needs to be in the building. Many details are given including the building direction, the windows, The Ark, the bimah (table), the Amud (lecturn), the Mechitzah (partition between men and women), and a number of other things.

We are at the end of the development of liturgy in the Old Testament and we are discussing a topic, synagogues, from which there is no, or hardly any reference in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms while there are guidelines that were set up both in the Talmud and from other Jewish authorities. That is very interesting. And that is the setting upon which Jesus arrived.

ihttp://timeline.biblehistory.com/period/the-exile

iiThe New Bible Dictionary, Eerdman’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan, J.D. Douglas Editor, 1962 p. 1227

iiiIbid, p. 1227

ivLife and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Eerdman’s, Grand Rapids, Alfred Edersheim, 1953, p. 787 available at http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/The%20Life%20and%20Times%20of%20Jesus%20the%20Messiah.pdf

vManners and Customs of the Bible, Logos International, Plainfield, New Jersey, James M Freeman, 1972 p. 334-335

viHandbook to the Bible, Eerdman’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan, David Alexander and Patricia Alexander, 1973, p. 96

vii Manners and Customs of the Bible, Logos International, Plainfield, New Jersey, James M Freeman, 1972 p. 334-335

viiiNew Bible Dictionary, p. 1227

ixHandbook to the Bible, p.494

xIbid, p 347

xihttps://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1144404/jewish/Building-a-Synagogue.htm

July 22nd, 2019 Posted by | Liturgy | no comments