What does the Bible really (really!) say...?

In the on-line magazine “Charisma”, Michael L. Brown writes an article called What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality (27.10.14). He makes five points, but they are wrong, all of them. Let’s look at them one by one.
1) The testimony of Scripture remains unchanged: The Bible forbids homosexual practice.
…no new textual, archeological, sociological, anthropological or philological discoveries have been made in the last 50 years that would cause us to read any of these biblical texts differently.
Put another way, it is not that we have gained some new insights into what the biblical text means based on the study of the Hebrew and Greek texts.
Well, in a way that’s true. We have, however, gained insights into what kind of authority different biblical passages have on us Christians. For instance, the passages in Leviticus that speak about “not lying with a man as with a woman” are part of a larger whole that forbid many practices that the Israelites’ heathen neighbours had – the idea being that God’s people should remain faithful to God, instead of being lured into worshiping their neighbours’ gods.
2) The Bible is a heterosexual book.
There are a few, very strong, very clear, references to homosexual practice—every one of them decidedly negative—and then not a single reference to homosexual practice throughout the rest of the Bible. It is not part of God's "recipe" for humanity.
This is not so. There are several biblical examples of love between people of the same sex – David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi and (arguably) Martha and Mary. They are soft-pedalled, since the Bible is largely a heteronormative book, reflecting the standards of the societies in which it came into being – but they are there. The Bible is not an exclusively heterosexual book!
3) Gender complementarity is of foundational importance.
Despite recent attempts to downplay this truth, male-female complementarity is part of God's foundational design.
Of course it is. Biologically. And the majority of humanity is heterosexual, so there is no question about the human race becoming extinct.
However, when God created Man (the species), He created us with a wish for “twosomeness” as opposed to lonesomeness. Most people find that “twosomeness” in a heterosexual relationship, as Adam and Eve did in Genesis, but many find it in same-sex relations. The Genesis passage does not specifically state that heterosexuality is the only option, only that it is the usual option, for human beings to find “twosomeness”.
4) Jesus knew exactly what was inside people, including their "sexual orientation."
“Are gay theologians willing to say that the Lord Himself didn't understand modern-day, still-evolving concepts like "sexual orientation"?
And are they willing to say that the Lord Jesus, who literally looked into the hearts and souls of human beings—John 2:25 says that He knew what was in man—didn't understand that certain people were "gay"? We're not talking about the writers of Scripture understanding modern science. We're talking about them—including Jesus Himself—understanding human nature.”
I have no problem affirming that Jesus knew that some people were homosexual. I don’t see him mentioning that fact anywhere in the Gospels, however, and I certainly don’t see him condemning it!
5) The gospel brings good news to homosexual men and women.
It certainly does. Jesus died for our sins, and in Him we can all – gay and straight, man and woman, young and old, black and white, rich and poor – find forgiveness, peace, hope, and purpose.
Is the gospel of Jesus hard to follow? Yes. Love for God and for our fellow humans is not something that comes easily to us. We need to change and grow to be more like Jesus. But that regards us all, not only homosexuals. In fact, one of the first things we need to change is our tendency to judge others by our own standards. Especially if we imagine them to be God’s standards.
We must open ourselves to God and let Him teach us the standards He expects us to stand up to. We must NOT let ourselves be deluded into thinking that our own interpretation of God, His will, or His Word is the correct one.
I am never sure that my interpretation is correct. If I find that I’m wrong, I will change my opinion. There is only one interpretation that I KNOW is incorrect, and that is the literal one.

If you are interested in more
of my biblical interpretations,
and can read Swedish,
please visit Hbt-bibeln!


Word play: Cashtration

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. One of the winners is:
Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time. 
The English language needs this...
Thanks to the Episcopal Padre!

Intellectual joke

What does a dyslexic agnostic insomniac spend most of his time doing?
Staying up all night wondering whether there really is a dog.

Desperate opposition

In 2006, a fellow pastor and I were reported for heresy to the diocesan chapter of Porvoo. The reason eas that we had participated in an ongoing debate about sexual minorities in the Church, and since we wanted to accept them, we were labeled heretics. Well, the Chapter didn't agree and we were exonorated.

Now, an even flimsier excuse has been used to report another pastor to the Chapter of her diocese, Mikkeli in eastern Finland. Pastor Maarit Hirvi of Sammonlahti parish wrote a letter to the Editor of a local paper, saying that if the gender neutral marriage law now being prepared is passed by Parliament, and if pastors are given the right to marry same-sex couples, she would be prepared to do so. Kotimaa24 reported this on October 18.
So, if a hypothetical legal situation arises, she is willing to follow the law. That was the extent of her message, but that was enough for someone to react. This reaction is, in my opinion, desperate and ridiculous. If you are opposed to the aforementioned law, to the Church adopting its principles, and to pastors willingly following it, then there are ample political measures yet to use in your struggle. Legally persecuting individual opponents is hardly above board.

I have no doubt that pastor Hirvi will be exonorated, just as we were eight years ago. But i know how taxing the situation can be, so I wish her strength!

How many inches?

The doctor comes in and says, "Ah, I see you've regained consciousness. Now, you probably won't remember, but you were in a pile-up a month ago on the M50. You're going to be okay, you'll walk again and everything, but... something happened. I'm trying to break this gently, but the fact is, your penis was chopped off in the crash, and we were unable to find it."
The man groans, but the doctor goes on, "You've got £9000 in insurance compensation coming to you, and we have the technology now to build you a new penis that will work as well as your old one did - better in fact! But the thing is, it doesn't come cheap, it's £1000 an inch."
The man perks up at this.
"So," the doctor says, "it's for you to decide how many inches you want. But it's something you'd better discuss with your wife. I mean, if you had a five inch one before, and you decide to go for a nine incher, she might be a bit put out. But if you had a nine inch one before, and you decide only to invest in a five incher this time, she might be disappointed. So it's important that she plays a role in helping you make the decision."
The man agrees to talk with his wife.

The doctor comes back the next day.
"So," says the doctor, "have you spoken with your wife?"
"I have," says the man.
"And has she helped you in making the decision?"
"She has," says the man.
"And what is it?" asks the doctor.
"We're getting a new kitchen."

Thanks to MadPriest!

Balch on unchangable depths

Those who are rooted in the depths that are eternal and unchangeable and who rely on unshakable principles, face change full of courage, courage based on faith."

- Emily Greene Balch
as quoted on Sojourners

The newly married sailor

A newly married sailor was informed by the Navy that he was going to be stationed a long way from home on a remote island in the Pacific for a year.
A few weeks after he got there, he began to miss his new wife, so he wrote her a letter. "My love," he wrote, "we are going to be apart for a very long time. Already I'm starting to miss you and there's really not much to do here in the evenings. Besides that, we're constantly surrounded by young attractive native girls. A hobby of some sort would certainly help me resist temptation."
So his wife sent him back a harmonica, saying, "Why don't you learn to play this?"
Eventually, his tour of duty came to and end and he rushed back to his wife. "Darling," he said, "I can't wait to get you into bed so that we can make passionate love!"
She kissed him and said, "First, let's see you play that harmonica."
Thanks to MadPriest!

Einstein on God's way

God always takes the simplest way.
- Albert Einstein
as quoted on Facebook

Irons on time machines

We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they're called memories. Some take us forward, they're called dreams.
- Jeremy Irons
as quoted on Facebook

Einstein on weakness

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
- Albert Einstein
as quoted on Facebook

Punny humour

An electrician claimed that his truck was a volts wagon.
Thanks to Bailey's Buddy!

Eisenhower on weapons and theft

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
as quoted on God's Politics

Wiesel on humility

Exaggerated humility turns easily into false humility. Too much modesty can hinder one from speaking up when necessary and offering help when needed.
- Elie Wiesel
as quoted on Facebook

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

A contestant on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" had reached the final plateau. If she answered the next question correctly, she would win $1,000,000. If she answered incorrectly, she would pocket only the 32,000 milestone money. And as she suspected it would be, the million-dollar question was no pushover. It was,
"Which of the following species of birds does not build its own nest, but instead lays its eggs in the nests of other birds? Is it A) the condor; B) the buzzard; C) the cuckoo; or D) the vulture?"
The woman was on the spot. She did not know the answer. And she was doubly on the spot because she had used up her 50/50 Lifeline and her Audience Poll Lifeline. All that remained was her Phone-a-Friend! Lifeline. The woman hoped she would not have to use it because ... her friend was, well ... blond. She had no alternative. She called her friend and gave her the question and the four choices.
The blonde responded unhesitatingly: "That's easy. The answer is C: The cuckoo."
The contestant had to make a decision and make it fast. She considered employing a reverse strategy and giving Regis any answer except the one that her friend had given her. And considering that her friend was a blonde, that would seem to be the logical thing to do. On the other hand - the blonde had responded with such confidence, such certitude, that the contestant could not help but be persuaded.
"I need an answer," said Regis.
Crossing her fingers, the contestant said, "C: The cuckoo."
"Is that your final answer?" asked Regis.
"Yes, that is my final answer."
Two minutes later, Regis said, "That answer is ... absolutely correct! You are now a millionaire!"

Three days later, the contestant hosted a party for her family and friends including the blonde who had helped her win the million dollars.
"Jenny, I just do not know how to thank you! ," said the contestant. "How did you happen to know the right answer?"
"Oh, come on," said the blonde. "Everybody knows that cuckoos don't build nests. They live in clocks."

Thanks to X-Mrs. Karl!

Word play: Gargoyle

The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. One of the winners is:
Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.
The English language needs this...

Thanks to the Episcopal Padre!


Maathai on the causes of conflict

In a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources, and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy, and peace.
- Wangari Maathai
Kenyan environmentalist, political activist,
and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
as quoted on God's Politics

Tech support call

Tech support: Okay Bob, let’s press the control and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter “P” to bring up the Program Manager.
Customer: I don’t have a P.
Tech support: On your keyboard, Bob.
Customer: What do you mean?
Tech support: “P”… on your keyboard, Bob.
Customer: I’M NOT GOING TO DO THAT!
Source: funnymos.com

Six Bad Days

1. The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was $80,000. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later, in full view, they were both eaten by a killer whale.

2. A psychology student in New York rented out her spare room to a carpenter in order to nag him constantly and study his reactions. After weeks of needling, he snapped and beat her repeatedly with an axe leaving her mentally retarded.

3. In 1992, Frank Perkins of Los Angeles made an attempt on the world flagpole-sitting record. Suffering from the flu he came down eight hours short of the 400-day record, his sponsor had gone bust, his girlfriend had left him and his phone and electricity had been cut off.

4. A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen, shaking frantically with what looked like a wire running from his waist towards the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current, she whacked him with a handy plank of wood by the back door, breaking his arm in two places. Until that moment, he had been happily listening to his ipod.

5. Two animal rights protesters were protesting the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn, Germany. Suddenly the pigs, all two thousand of them, escaped through a broken fence and stampeded, trampling the two hapless protesters to death.

And finally...
6. Iraqi terrorist, Khay Rahnajet, didn't pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with "return to sender" stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb, he opened it and was blown to bits.

There now! Your day's not so bad, is it?
Thanks to X-Mrs. Karl!

No More Shopping

My wife can be a little demanding at times. For example, she insists that I accompany her when she wants to do some shopping at Target. Unfortunately, like most men, I find shopping to be more than a little boring and I prefer to get in and get the stuff I want and go. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women - she loves to browse and look at everything. Well, yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Target store.
Dear Mrs Karl,
Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.
1. June 15: He took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people's carts when they weren't looking.
2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. July 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the woman's restroom.
4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, "Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away". This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money.
5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.
6. August 14: Moved a "CAUTION - WET FLOOR" sign to a carpeted area.
7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told the children shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department to which twenty children obliged.
8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?" EMTs were called.
9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.
10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.
11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.
12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his "Madonna look" by using different sizes of funnels.
13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled PICK ME! PICK ME!"
14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed "OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!"
And last, but not least:
15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, "Hey! There's no toilet paper in here". One of the clerks passed out.
Thanks to X-Mrs. Karl!

Sign at a camping site in Germany's Black Forest

It is forbidden for people of different sex, for instance men and women, to sleep in the same tent unless married to each other for that purpose. 

The archbishop apologizes to the LGBT community

The archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF), Kari Mäkinen, has apologized on behalf of the ELCF to homosexuals and other sexual minorities for the cruelty with which both church and society has treated them.
According to Mäkinen, homosexuals have during the years been repulsed in the society and in the church, with references to illness, crime or a special sinfulness. “It is a cruel part of the Finnish story, and also of the story of the church,” he said in a speech on July 14, 2014.
He estimates that the cruelty is subtler that before, but has not been erased. It exists e.g. in the forms of silence, repulsion and looking past a person. And cruelty is always the same, even if it is invisible, motivated by religious or "natural" arguments, or covered with a tolerance that is looking from above.

Religious job prospects

A Catholic priest and a Rabbi are talking about job prospects.
"Well," says the priest, "there's a good chance that I'll be the next bishop, maybe within the next couple of years."
"Bishop!" marvels the Rabbi, "very nice. And after that?"
"Oh, I don't know, I suppose it's possible I could become Archbishop, given luck and God's blessing."
"Very nice, very nice; and after Archbishop?"
"Ha! Well, you know, it's Cardinal after that, but it's really very unlikely. But in theory, I could become a Cardinal."
"Lovely!" enthuses the Rabbi, "the scarlet would suit your complexion. So what's after Cardinal?"
The priest smiles. "After Cardinal? Well, it's Pope. But I'm hardly likely to become . . . hmmm, oh I suppose it's just possible. If a Pole can, why not an Englishman again? Yes, I could just become Pope."
"Splendid! I would take personal pride in your becoming the Pope. And after Pope what?"
The priest looks at him in surprise, "After Pope? There's nothing after Pope! I mean, there's just God above the Pope. I can't become God."
"So why not?" the Rabbi said, "one of our boys made it."
Thanks to MadPriest!

A cure for constipation

It's a slow night at a local pub in Ireland, and the owner is polishing some glasses and thinking of closing up early, when he hears a knock at the back door.
He opens it, and there in the alley are two nuns, Sister Mary and Sister Kate, both are looking up and down the alley, as if they don't want to be seen. They ask to be invited in, and the owner brings them into the kitchen.
"We've a favor to ask," explains Sister Kate. "It's not for us, you understand, but for poor Father Tim."
"He's been struck with an awful case of constipation," continues Sister Mary. "And they only thing that seems to help is a bit of whisky. Now we'd buy it ourselves, but this town being as full of gossips as it is, we don't want to start tongues to wagging."
"Now as a good, church-going man, we've come to ask if you might spare a little something for poor Father Tim, and to use your discretion in the doing of it," finishes Sister Kate.
"Of course, Sisters," replies the barman, and he returns with a full bottle of the best whisky. "Give this to Father Tim with my compliments, and my best wishes for a speedy recovery."

An hour or two passes, and the barman closes shop and drives home. As he's driving, he sees Sister Mary and Sister Kate arm-in-arm, walking down the road, and singing at the top of their lungs. Sister Mary is carrying the bottle, which has perhaps an inch left in it. He slows and rolls down the window as he brakes to a stop.
"Sisters," he says' "I'm ashamed of you. You told me the whisky was for Father Tim's constipation."
"Ah, but it is," replies Sister Mary. "We're headed that way now, and when Father Tim sees us in this condition, the man is likely to shit himself."
Thanks to MadPriest!

Pray for my hearing, Father!

A priest said, "Anyone with 'special needs' who wants to be prayed over, please come forward to the altar rail."
With that, Albert got in line, and when it was his turn, the priest asked, "Albert, what do you want me to pray about for you?"
Albert replied, "Father, I need you to pray for help with my hearing."
The priest put one finger of one hand in Albert's ear, placed his other hand on top of Albert's head, and then prayed and prayed and prayed. He prayed a "blue streak" for Albert, and the whole congregation joined in with great enthusiasm.
After a few minutes, the priest removed his hands, stood back and asked, "Albert, how is your hearing now?"
Albert answered, "I don't know. It ain't 'til next week."
Thanks to MadPriest!

Pastors and alcohol

Some months ago, on a Saturday morning, I was driving to work. I had a funeral. All of a sudden, the police stopped me. They were having a razzia to check the alcohol level in the drivers' blood stream. Many have alcohol in the gas tank, as well, but that they didn't check.
When the officer came to me and saw that I was a pastor, he said: "Oh. But in the interest of equality, we'll check you, too." And I was stone sober, of course, as I have been the last 21 years. No problem.

Sadly, the officer's assumption that a pastor would be sober behind the wheel is not self-evidently true. The latest example of the opposite comes from eastern Finland. Savon Sanomat reports (25.7.13) that a pastor, having performed a  funeral, drove off, only to be arrested by the police after having been found to have 1,89 promille alcohol on his breath (in Finland, 0,5 is the DUI limit, and 1,2 is the limit for aggravated DUI). Apparently, this is not the first time this pastor has shown signs of alcohol abuse.
The police will charge him, and his vicar has reported the case to the Diocesan Chapter, who will deal with it later in the fall.

Same-sex couple sent as missionaries

A same-sex couple in a registered partnership will be sent as missionaries to Cambodia by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM), Kotimaa reports 29.5.13. They will be blessed for their task in June, and one of them will also be ordained.
According to the article, this is probably the first time in history that a same-sex couple is sent as missionaries anywhere.
Very few details are available about the presumptive missionaries, not even their gender, but I suppose more will be forthcoming.

There is some controversy about the appropriateness of publishing news of this kind, i.e. stressing someone's ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or the like. From the point of view of journalistic ethics, there might be a problem, but it's an interesting item, all the same.

Gay marriage law celebrated with rainbow coloured communion bread

Minnesota's legalization of gay marriage has one church feeling pretty happy, the New York Daily News reports.
Revolution Church in Minneapolis served congregants rainbow-colored communion bread during its inaugural service last Sunday. Head pastor Rev. Jay Bakker thought the bread - and the state's embrace of gay rights - tasted "kind of sweet."
"So many people have been hurt by the church and by Christianity," Bakker told the News. "But this was a beautiful moment."
The colorful nod to gay rights was baked up early Sunday morning by photojournalist Courtney Perry. She thought of the idea after Minnesota's House approved a same-sex marriage bill on May 9. State leaders expected the bill to pass the Senate as well and Perry was ecstatic.

Bakker said he's received plenty of backlash from conservative social media users after news about his rainbow communion bread spread online.
"They've missed out on the higher message of the Bible and who Jesus is and what he did," Bakker said in response to those negative comments. "They've become victims of tradition."
Bakker admits that his church is "pretty liberal" when it comes to social issues. The New York branch of his Revolution Church meets at Pete's Candy Store, a bar in Brooklyn. In Minneapolis, his church launched its meetings at Bryant Lake Bowl, a theater space with a bowling alley and a restaurant.
"A bar is neutral ground," Bakker said.
He wasn't expecting the colorful communion bread to strike a chord with so many people. Bakker guesses that the bread will likely be a regular guest at his church.
"I think Christ's table is very inclusive," Bakker said.
Hmm. While I'm happy that the state of Minnesota has approved gay marriage, I'm not sure about this way to celebrate it... Seems a bit over the top...