Australian High Court Judge and "Anglican" Michael Kirby recounted to the Parliament of World's Religions,
... how an Anglican priest last year told him he must abandon his gay partner of 40 years, live alone and renounce the devil."I'm not going to do it - apart from anything else, it would cost me a few quid," he joked. Mr Kirby spoke of the cruelty of being considered an "abomination" for being gay as a young man but said he now felt comfortable as an Anglican and gay.
He urged religious people to read biblical texts in the context in which they were written, saying his 35 years as a judge had taught him the importance of analysing words."You cannot take words out of context. You cannot take words in isolation ... especially holy books that are written in terms of parables and in terms that are often poetic," he said.Mr Kirby said Leviticus 20:13 was usually cited by Christians who condemned homosexuality, yet other passages of Leviticus that condemned men and women to death for adultery were no longer taken literally."
There are many theologians now who say we have to re-read this, we have to read it in context. You've got to read it in the context of adultery being a death sentence for straight people," he said."Why don't all those people who are being nasty in religions to gays ever quote verse 10 [condemning adulterers to death]? If we are going back to the rules in Leviticus, we've got to be neutral and we've got to raise them all."
The article, published in Melbourne's, The Age, goes on to include a Muslim academic's support for a rethink on the homosexual issue (for Islam as well). However, let us take Mr Kirby's advice and check the context of the verses he cites, as well as others, and note what exactly Mr Kirby is saying ... let us analyse his words.
Note that an Anglican priest told Mr Kirby "he must abandon his gay partner of 40 years, live alone and renounce the devil" and yet Mr Kirby implies (by his use of Leviticus 20:13) that the Anglican priest wanted to have him stoned to death. And note also that Mr Kirby ignores the obvious, that TRUE ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ still condemn adultery and fornication despite their apparent "acceptance" by most of western society. Mr Kirby is correct in saying that the condemning of "men and women to death for adultery" is "no longer taken literally" - but his implication that it is acceptable is outrageously false.
In like manner, just as adulterers, today, are no longer given a death sentence (in the traditionally-Christian West), homosexuals are NOT given a death sentence either. And where adultery is condemned in the Bible and its practitioners rebuked in Bible believing churches, the same is true of homosexuality.Admittedly, when reading the Bible cultural context needs to be regarded - in some instances - to understand what exactly is being said and the implications involved.
And even though some PORTIONS of the Bible are written in terms of parables and/or are written poetically, NOT all of it is. Leviticus chapter 20, for example, is neither poetry nor parable, and Mr Kirby's implication, suggesting it might be, is a straight out lie. Nevertheless, let us look at some cultural and societal contexts.In the days of Moses, when the Ten Commandments were given, Israel was NOT settled in the Promised Land, but rather, the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites were still there.
Acceptable culture and religion for these groups included the worship of fertility gods and the inclusion of temple prostitutes, whose duties included depraved activities with the statues of their gods. Likewise there was child sacrifice to the pagan god Molech. These were acceptable practices at that time in the middle-east. Of this society corrupted by such ACCEPTABLE cultural norms, the Bible records...While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. The LORD said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel." So Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor."
Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand, and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked. Those who died by the plague were 24,000- Numbers 25:1-9
This incident is not a parable. It is not poetry. It shows the biblical standard of what is and is not acceptable to God. Fornication - as seen in this example - is NOT acceptable, irrespective of what society says.The same chapter that Mr Kirby cites, Leviticus 20, also includes a condemnation for incest.
And even today, societal norms condemn its practice.If there is a man who lies with his father's wife, he has uncovered his father's nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death, their bloodguiltiness is upon them. - Leviticus 20:11
Interestingly, the apostle Paul writes concerning a reported case of incest.
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good.
Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.
Remove the Wicked Man from Among Yourselves
- 1 Corinthians 5:1-13In like manner Paul goes on to condemn homosexuality ... this IN SPITE OF THE FACT that homosexuality was not an uncommon thing, but was an accepted choice, in Roman society 2000 years ago.Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11Analyse Paul's words, "such were some of you". Some, who are now Christians, WERE previously these things, but are now NO LONGER. It's an either/or scenario. Either you are washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God, or you are NOT!Cultural context shows that:1. Society may have its standards and context for understanding acceptable standards. 2. The Christian church has its own standards (given by God) which it is to meet and adhere to - irrespective of what non-Christian society accepts.There is no parable here, there is no poetry.
If the Anglican church is truly a Christian church then it CORRECTLY condemns homosexuality and should excom- municate its practitioners.If Mr Kirby wants to be a Christian and an Anglican then he MUST renounce his beliefs and practices of homosexuality.If he wants to remain a homosexual then he automatically rejects God, rejects Jesus' sacrifice, rejects the authority of Scripture.
If he wants a religion then he should go and make up his own and stop trying to hijack biblical Christianity.
By B Michael Bigg