Part Two: The Flawed Introduction.
Part Three: But Jesus Wasn't That Important Anyway
Part Four: Missing the Point
You can still find the article here.
Finally, we've come to the final argument. Mr. Dallas attempts to refute the idea that, quote:
"I attend a gay church where the gifts of the Spirit and the presence of God are manifest. How can that be, if homosexuality is wrong?"
And skipping ahead...
The argument, than, is that if God's presence and gifts are manifest in a gay church, it is evidence that God accepts and blesses homosexuality.
His response floored me because it has nothing to do with the argument he's supposed to be refuting. Quote:
Response: The argument is misleading in that it assumes love sanctifies a relationship.
I checked and re-checked this, thinking I had skipped a section, because this is such a total change of subject! At first, I wondered why would avoid answering the question, and then I realized, he has no biblical basis on which to do so. Mr. Dallas is so utterly wrong that he can't even distort enough scripture to make a counter argument.
But you know what? I did have some scripture handy that I'd like to share, even if Mr. Dallas would like to avoid this issue entirely.
1 Corinthians 12:1-6
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Seems pretty clear to me. If the Gifts of the Spirit (and I'm not going to get too in-depth into what that means, as everyone has a different opinion and there's not enough clear biblical evidence) are given by God, and for God, than why would God give them to people He/She despised? The argument is proven true: if God's presence and gifts are manifest in a gay church, it is evidence that God accepts and blesses homosexuality.
But it doesn't stop there. In the next passage, the bold emphasis is mine. It's rather long, but I wanted to present the entire thing.
The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only human myself."
While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with Gentiles or visit them. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?"
Cornelius answered: "Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, 'Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.' So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."
Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, "Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Wow. Look at that. I've talked a little about this before, but to refresh: during this time, there was large faction of Jewish Christians who belived that Christians must follow both the Jewish law and Christian teachings. Gentile converts to Christianity, who hadn't lived with a law that permeated everything they did, were understandably upset by this. Most notable of the laws, and the example used throughout Acts and Galatians, was the act of circumcision that Jewish Christian leaders demanded of converts.
In Acts 10, Christianity is just getting started. There is no New Testament, there are no established traditions. The leaders at that time (Peter, in this passage) still believed that Christianity was meant for the Jews, and you had to become Jewish in order to be a Christ follower. The idea that God's love is for everyone was radical and considered blasphemous.
Yet look what happens. God gifts the Gentiles present with His/Her Sprit. This prompts Peter to declare, "Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."
In the same way, modern church leaders believe that the gospel is not for gay people. Gay people must "convert" to heterosexuality before they can be Christians. The message is the same, however: "God does not show favoritism."
No wonder Mr. Dallas didn't want to address this.
But let's look at what he did say, namely that love does not sanctify a relationship.
It is hard these days to say love is not the final standard for right and wrong. Love is nice.
Love is not just nice, Mr. Dallas, love is the biblical standard for everything. Do we need to review the greatest commandment?
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Mr. Dallas goes on to say, Love can, according to Jesus, interfere with God's plan for an individual. He warns His followers that love for anyone, no matter how legitimate the relationship, becomes sin when it surpasses our love for Him (Matthew 10:37).
How interesting that he chooses to use this example. Let's look at the scripture in question.
"Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Jesus is not saying, of course, that you shouldn't love your father, mother, son, or daughter. Jesus is saying that such love becomes bad when it surpasses our love for him. This takes us directly back to Matthew 22:37-40. Mr. Dallas then talks about King Solomon, and how his foreign wives turned his heart away from God. Again, what is the issue? It's not that King Solomon loved his wives, it's that King Solomon loved them more than God.
For some reason, anti-gay theologians love to take the scripture literally when it suits them (Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. Leviticus 18:22), yet somehow skip over discussions about love. I, however, follow a doctrine of love. So to close this series, I would like to quote some of my favorite verses.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not covet," and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body [to hardship] that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 16:14
Do everything in love.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," a you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 John 2:9-11
Those who claim to be in the light but hate a fellow believer are still in the darkness. Those who love their fellow believers live in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But those who hate a fellow believer are in the darkness and walk around in the darkness; they do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
2 John 1:5-6
And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.