Getting a Sermon Right

This afternoon, Susan Russell preached at that Eucharist and used the following line:

In John 8:32, Jesus promised that “the truth will set you free.

You really do just hand this to us on a plate don’t you Suse? Go back one verse (John 8:31) and Jesus says this:

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples."

And what is Jesus’ teaching I hear you ask? Let’s turn to Matthew 15:19.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; 

That phrase "sexual immorality" is the Greek "porneia". What would they Jews have understood that encompassed? Well BDAG (the leading Greek lexicon) is quite clear that porneia covers every single form of sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. So that would include sex between two people of the same sex – permanent, stable, faithful or otherwise.

Now, I’m prepared to concede this point on the following condition. I would like a revisionist to cite us one Rabbinical or Patristic  scholar, text or commentary, 500 years either side of Jesus (so that gives us a 1000 years to play with) that explicitaly argues that porneia does *not* cover faithful, monogamous same-sex relationships. Otherwise I think we’re pretty clear that Jesus’ audience would have understood what he said and the argument is pretty well closed.

(By the way, if you bring up the "those writers of the Bible weren’t aware of loving, monogamous gay relationships" argument, I’ll raise you with the "loving, monogamous, consensual relationship between a 12yo and a 30yo that the same Bible writers weren’t aware of either" one, let alone the "so what you’re arguing is that Jesus was the Divine and unique Son of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, but at the same time a bit of a thicko and dullard ‘cos his Father let him down by allowing him to say something that 2000 years later we’d think was just stupid and wrong" one.)

So let’s sum up Susan’s sermon:

  1. The truth will set you free
  2. I’d like to conveniently ignore the bits of truth that Jesus taught about sin which don’t suit my libido

QED? Freedom or Bondage? John 8:34 (just another two verses later Susan) has the answer…

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