If homosexuals are “sodomites” what does that make the rest of us?

Posted on 01/24/13 32 Comments

Our story begins this past Saturday when I published an article called “Why do conservative Christians think everything is getting worse?” In the article I pointed out that the data is, at best, ambiguous and that much of it indicates broad societal improvement over the last two centuries and more. Alan Kurschner took issue with this claim, and part of his argument consisted of asking a simple question:

“is Canada more or less tolerant of sodomy today than it was in 1800? I’d like an answer from you.”

My initial answer was “wow”. There is a popular stereotype that conservative Christians are disproportionately concerned with sexual ethics over-against other important ethical issues. And now Alan was confirming that stereotype by suggesting that an assessment of the moral status of Canadian society c. 2000 over-against Canadian society c. 1800 could be settled simply by considering the legislation and social mores in each period on the issue of “sodomy”.

I wondered at the time whether Alan was aware that one of the stars in the conservative Reformed firmament, Mark Driscoll, provides a spirited defense of anal intercourse between husband and wife in his book Real Marriage (p. 187 ff.). This is significant. You see, according to the English Buggery Act of 1533, buggery or sodomy included anal intercourse between a man and a woman. And since Canadian laws against sodomy were based on this act, had Mark Driscoll published his racy marital guide in 1800 in Canada he could have faced prison … or worse.

I didn’t bother to pursue that point since I took Alan to be using the term “sodomy” more or less equivalent to “homosexuality”. (Though one can surely pause to marvel at the irony here.) So I provided a reply to him in “Sodomy and the Kingdom of God” in which I asked him whether he thought homosexuals should be killed in accord with Canadian law c. 1800. Neither he nor Steve Hays (to whom I also posed the question) had the courage to provide a reply. This, in itself, is extremely disturbing. What is one to think when the question “Should this person be killed for their actions?” is met with silence?

I closed that essay by asking Alan a series of questions in an attempt to identify the indefensible narrow scope of his moral vision:

“If you do think homosexuals should be killed, then what should be done with the fornicators? And what about the remarried divorcees that fill our church pews and are, by the very words of our Lord, committing adultery? And what would you like done to the banker that forcloses on a widow for failing to pay her mortgage? Or the CEO that approves dumping toxic waste in a river where children swim? Or the music pastor that fails to pay his CCLI license for the songs the congregation sings every Sunday?”

Not surprisingly, these questions were also met with silence. Why? I presume because it is easier to judge the actions of others at a distance rather than the sins that are going on in your midst.

In a subsequent discussion with Steve Hays I then pointed out that Alan was crassly attributing to me statements I never made. I wrote:

“By the way Alan Kurschner wrote an article titled “Randal Rauser Asserts Premillennialism is Pessimistic, Therefore, it is Against Social Justice and the Environment”. I never said any such thing. I trust that you’ll set Alan straight.”

Here was Steve’s reply:

“I have no doubt that Alan is straight. You’re the one who’s defending sodomites.”

Note what Steve does here. In response to my point that Alan has attributed blatantly false claims to me, Steve replies by making a play on words to suggest that I am homosexual. And then he charges me with “defending sodomites.”

Count me guilty on that one. I’ll defend homosexuals against religious hypocrites any day of the week. After all, if there is one group Jesus did single out for special moral censure, it was religious hypocrites.

So then I asked Steve:

“Steve, we all know you hate homosexuals. But the real question is: what should be done with the remarried divorcees that fill the pews of churches, the very ones Jesus called adulterers? Why don’t you field that question since Alan refused to?”

Steve replied:

“Randal, we all know you hate Yahweh.”

Huh? Ignoring that strange non sequitur, I persisted:

“Please answer the direct question. What should be done with the remarried divorcees that fill the pews of churches, the very ones Jesus called adulterers?”

Not surprisingly, Steve refused to answer. Like his friend Alan, he prefers to focus his moral outrage on the sins of a select group rather than focus on the moral failings in his midst, even when the issue is one Jesus specifically addressed.

Of course Jesus didn’t just address divorce. In the Sermon on the Mount he drops an atom bomb on the “sinner vs. the rest of us” mentality. Jesus offers us a moral universe that is breathtakingly egalitarian: we’re all sinners, we’re all in need of redemption. It’s a world in which we recognize ourselves as the chief of all sinners and in which there’s no hatred left for others because it is all directed at stamping out the sin nature in our own decaying souls. Nobody sang it better than Lost Dogs:

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  • Alan Kurschner

    Randal,

    If you do not expunge the slanderous comments on your posts indicating that I believe homosexuals should be killed, I will take immediate action against you.

    • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

      Hi Alan,

      Were you referring to this statement:

      I didn’t bother to pursue that point since I took Alan to be using the term “sodomy” more or less equivalent to “homosexuality”. (Though one can surely pause to marvel at the irony here.) So I provided a reply to him in “Sodomy and the Kingdom of God” in which I asked him whether he thought homosexuals should be killed in accord with Canadian law c. 1800. Neither he nor Steve Hays (to whom I also posed the question) had the courage to provide a reply. This, in itself, is extremely disturbing. What is one to think when the question “Should this person be killed for their actions?” is met with silence?

    • R0c1

      Grow up.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      Alan, I’m not trying to misrepresent your views. I’ve repeatedly asked you to clarify them. In the quote Bilbo provides I noted that you were silent in response to my request for clarification. I also noted your silence to my request for clarification in the article “How societies improve”. In that thread you commented as follows:

      “I never saw your question about whether homosexuals should be subjected to capital punishment. a. How is this even relevant? How long have you been beating your wife? As Hays said, you are using a decoy. b. And why would you suggest that I believe in capital punishment for homosexuals? (“In some ways silence is the most disconcerting response of all.).” Because I disagree with that sinful activity? Do you believe homosexuality is sinful?”

      You ask why would I think you might take endorse capital punishment for those who engage in homosexual action? One could have thought that a possibility based on your original question regarding attitudes toward sodomy in 19th century Canada in contrast to today. Note that in this earlier response I just quoted you did not answer the question by denouncing legal statutes calling for the capital punishment of homosexuality.

      Based on your most recent comment I take it that you do reject the idea of legislating capital punishment for homosexuality. Based on that clarification I will happily include a disclaimer in these earlier blog posts specifying your position. You can email me if you want to discuss wording of the disclaimer and where in the text you’d like it positioned.

      • Alan Kurschner

        Randall, stop playing dumb. I am taking action.

        • J_Riv

          Is that what Jesus would do?

          • Kerk

            I’m scared! Might get bloody!

          • Paul D.

            He has a cunning plan!

        • Craptacular

          Too bad you weren’t this fired up to take action when Randall asked you the questions…all this posturing could have been avoided.

        • Tony Jiang

          well Canada in the 1800s was also alot less tolerent of Chinese people, Natives, Blacks so i guess according to you Alan things must be getting worse!

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      By the way would you be so kind as to include a disclaimer to your article “Randal Rauser Asserts Premillennialism is Pessimistic, Therefore, it is Against Social Justice and the Environment” in which you note that in fact I never said any such thing?

    • Cop Lover

      What “immediate action”? Violence? Is that a threat of some kind?

      Clairfy immeditately or I am going to file a report…just for the record.

      You have one hour.

  • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

    I’m debating whether to listen to the music video. Is there any of that demon-possessed screeching in it? We hates it, we does. “Thou shalt stone the demon-possessed screecher.” (Hezekiah 12:45)

    • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

      Okay, I held my breath and listened…and then breathed deeply. Great song…only, they showed a picture of C.S. Lewis when they said “creationist.” Have they any idea to what great lengths BioLogos has gone to show that Lewis was no such thing? A lesson in futility, to say the least.

      • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

        I missed that one. My favorite was the juxtaposition of “sadist” with a dentist at work! Ha!

        Surely you should know I wouldn’t trick people with dueling electric guitars and double bass! :)

  • Paul D.

    This reminds me of a recent Reddit argument I had with a Christian who claimed homosexuality was sinful and deviant behaviour.

    I asked him several times, point blank, whether he thought God created hermaphodites and intersex individuals, and under what conditions it would be an abomination for such people to pursue romantic relations and marriage. He outright refused to answer me, aside from some non-sequitur handwaving about a “fallen” world.

    Homophobia is not about dealing with real individuals and the human condition. It’s about defending bigotry and a naive view of the Bible.

    • Kerk

      Actually, no, for intersex individuals the situation is pretty simple – figure out which nature is more prevalent in you and act in accordance with it. There is no intersex equilibrium.

      • postoergopostum

        Do you know what a pendulum is?

        • Kerk

          I do, though I don’t know what it has to do with my statement.

          • postoergopostum

            Did you ever notice how your wife/girlfriend can swing over the course of a month from a submissive sexual kitten to a demanding sexual desert?
            It’s very easy to say that intersexuality can be dealt with simply, if you just assume that you know what you’re talking about.
            But really, what is the basis for your supposed expertise on the subject? The subject,, like so many other truly complex and challenging issues is not dealt with at all in the bible.
            You haven’t even thought about this at all. I’m sure that you are perfectly aware of the confusion and behavioural issues perfectly normal sexually dimorphic teenagers have to deal with as their hormone laden systems pass through puberty. Just take a breath, demonstrate some true empathy and contemplate what that transition would be like for a child awash in conflicting hormones confronted by an intolerant and ignorant society.
            Just figure out which nature is prevalent???
            For future reference the prevalent nature of an intersex teen is confused, conflicted, sexually ambiguous, highly variable (even hourly at times), often depressed, isolated, and periodically suicidal.
            I’m sorry that the world is more complicated than you would like to believe.

            • Kerk

              Hm. so much pathos…Guess I am to blame for creating a wrong impression. Gotta proofread myself more often.

              Let me clarify things. First, I don’t care much about what the Bible says and doesn’t say, as I’m not a Christian. Second, I’m simply dealing with the theoretical side of the issue and providing a simple theoretical answer. That helps to stay focused. Third, I am fully aware how much suffering sexual confusions can bring upon teenagers and I feel for them. Forth, I would never propose that a practical solution would be easy. Fifth, If I understand all of the above, I guarantee that God does too.

              • postoergopostum

                Thanks for the clarification, though I don’t see the point in any theoretical answer that doesn’t clarify the practical.
                I’m impressed that you are prepared to guarantee god’s perspective. Audacious.

              • Iggy Fan

                Thats OK. I don’t care much about what you say and don’t say.

                I mean, who cares?

    • Crude

      I asked him several times, point blank, whether he thought God created hermaphodites and intersex individuals, and under what conditions it would be an abomination for such people to pursue romantic relations and marriage.

      Good question – but one that can be reasonably answered depending on the particulars of the case in question. Sometimes it’s better for people – including heterosexuals – to simply live chaste lives.

      Also, ‘romantic relations’? You mean sex, right? Why dance around such things.

      Homophobia is not about dealing with real individuals and the human condition.

      It’s a good thing that rejecting various sexual acts, whether same-sex or otherwise, is not a phobia then. Really dodged a bullet with that one.

  • postoergopostum

    Absolutely hopeless with soft furnishings.

  • http://twitter.com/birch2u Michael B

    Interesting blog post Randal. I came across it via a tweet from someone I follow on Twitter. I think it a shame that the string of questions you asked of Alan Kurschner and the other guy went unanswered because I think we should have the courage to take our convictions to their logical end-or shut up about them.

    As for someone answering those questions, what forum should those answers appear? Because I do have the courage to answer the questions you posed, albeit my answers would be outside what is considered PC today, either from within the evangelical church or outside it. Let me know if you want to engage.
    Surely there can be honest dialogue somewhere in the blogsphere….:)

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      This is the place. Open discussion.

  • steve hays
    • http://www.facebook.com/erroll.treslan Erroll Treslan

      “Anatomy of a scoundrel “. I wonder if Randal needs to seek permission to reproduce that quote on the back of his next book?

      • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

        Better than “Vivisection of a scoundrel”.

  • Crude

    I wondered at the time whether Alan was aware that one of the stars in the conservative Reformed firmament, Mark Driscoll, provides a spirited defense of anal intercourse between husband and wife in his book Real Marriage (p. 187 ff.). This is significant. You see, according to the English Buggery Act of 1533, buggery or sodomy included anal intercourse between a man and a woman. And since Canadian laws against sodomy were based on this act, had Mark Driscoll published his racy marital guide in 1800 in Canada he could have faced prison … or worse.

    Great – Mark Driscoll is wrong. I wonder if you are aware, Randal, of the many Christians and natural law theorists who regard anal sex as sodomy and sinful regardless of the sex of the people involved?

    What is one to think when the question “Should this person be killed for their actions?” is met with silence?

    I seem to recall that someone else replied to you about that very question.

    Count me guilty on that one. I’ll defend homosexuals against religious hypocrites any day of the week. After all, if there is one group Jesus did single out for special moral censure, it was religious hypocrites.

    So will I. I have my sins – don’t we all – but on this point I and many others are intellectually consistent. In fact, you just made the argument that things are now even worse in terms of sexual morality than your commenter was intending to show.

    Of course Jesus didn’t just address divorce. In the Sermon on the Mount he drops an atom bomb on the “sinner vs. the rest of us” mentality.

    Did His words have any application on the ‘liberals versus conservatives’ divide? Or is it that self-described liberals are excluded from that one, being the particular kind of praiseworthy pharisee?

  • http://twitter.com/birch2u Michael B

    From a strict 1800’s law perspective, that makes anyone who commits sodomy a ‘sodomite’. No brainer there, for sure.