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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9 Comments on “Getting a Sermon Right

  1. And to sum up the extreme conservative position:
    1. We’ll ingore the truth that God actually seems to use and bless some actrively gay people, including some priests and bishops in the C of E 
    2. Well ignore those bits of Jesus’ teaching about casting stones, moats and beams, and just judge our fellow human beings and demonise them anyway.
    Peter, you are so quick to condemn those who don’t happen to agree with your very narrow outlook.  You are determined to make war and not seek the paths of peace. You are determined to shout rather than listen.  It is no wonder the church is in such a state…. 

  2. Sound,

    Firstly, do you not get the irony of you judging me for making this post? Surely if you *actually* believed what you’ve just written you wouldn’t have published it in the first place.

    Secondly, you entirely misunderstand what Matthew 7:1-5 is about. Verse 2 is the key, for Jesus is addressing the Pahrisees and others who think that they live perfect lives while they pour judgement on those who they think are sinners. The point Jesus is making is that we are *all* sinners and therefore the failure to recognise one’s sin and then to point out others’ sins is the dangerous activity. I for one am perfectly aware that I am a sinner in need of God’s grace like the next man. Having recognised and accepted my sin, I am now in the place where I can, as Jesus rightly points out in verse 5, help my brother with his sin.

  3. I don’t think you know what the word irony means …I’m sorry Peter, I find this version of Christianity that you are wedded too so un-Christ like. Your post about Gene Robinson tday is full of hate and full of anger.  The fundamentalist sectarian approach is one that makes me ashamed.  I very much doubt Bishop Gene will see your venom, and I suspect you feel proud of what you have written anyway, but as a brother I feel called to help you with your sin…       

  4. No, I’m not judging you Peter…I’m just in a place where I can help you, my brother, with your sin….
    It’s very easy, and cheap,  to shout at each other like this, and it gets us nowhere. You are clearly not going to change your views. I am clearly not going to change mine.  We are an example of what is going on in the Anglican Communion. If you care to e-mail me we might be able to set up some better form of communication. Neither of us is going to ‘leave’ the church we serve and love I don’t think, so we have to find ways to get along together within it don’t we?  

  5. Are you saying that I’m a sinner? Yes? But you criticise me for doing exactly the same thing that you are doing? But that’s OK because you’re on the right side of the debate?

    I think you’re tying yourself up in knots here Sound.

  6. And you seem to be missing the point….neither of us have the right to judge…neither are on the ‘right’ side of the debate….
    but if you persist in judging, there are fingers pointing back at you…

  7. Um, Peter, just one thing about your argument here. I doubt that any of us could cite “one Rabbinical or Patristic  scholar, text or commentary, 500 years either side of Jesus” which allowed the lending of money at interest. I’ll risk the assertion that Jesus’ audience would not have thought this permissible (might well have known Psalm 10 f’rinstance). But it doesn’t follow from that, that Jewish and Christian law and practice should not have been changed.
    in friendship, Blair

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