Tuesday, March 15, 2016


     I’m no booster of homosexuality. It’s both life-limiting and dangerous, especially the male version. But this exhortation and its maker belong in Hell:

     The transcription, for those that refuse to play videos:

     Kevin Swanson: Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. Yes, Romans Chapter 1 verse 32 the Apostle Paul does says that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words not mine! And I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

     This casts doubt on the judgment of the one and only major-party candidate for president that I’d been willing to support. But this has been that kind of campaign season, as recent events in Chicago and New Hampshire have demonstrated.

     Though I’m a Catholic, and am serious about it, I have a number of problems with Church doctrine, the heart of which I explain in this essay. A great part of Christianity as we know it, including every bit to which I cannot assent, is attributable to the Apostle Paul, widely regarded as its doctrinal founder.

     Right there you have the heart of the matter. The Founder of Christianity is, was, and always will be Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind. He is the Authority; no one can contravene a word He said. Neither can any man, regardless of his station, impose additional requirements on what He set forth as the conditions for salvation:

     And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [Matthew 19:16-19]

     Those requirements descend organically from the two Great Commandments:

     But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
     Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. [Matthew 22:37-40]

     It could hardly be made simpler or clearer. Yet Paul, a former Pharisee who had diligently, even fanatically persecuted the followers of Christ, took unto himself an authority never granted him to speak for God: i.e., to set out additional “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” the strict observance of which (he claimed) is required for an individual’s salvation.

     Christians who regard themselves as Constitutionalists should think about this rather more than we’re accustomed to doing.

     There is never, ever, justification for a riot. “Incitement to riot” is a separate crime, punishable whether or not a riot occurs. (Yes, the existence of a crime that consists of nothing but words is a highly problematic matter. That’s for another day.) Many persons, most of them as well-meaning as you or I, have heaped abuse upon Donald Trump for his more inflamed campaign statements, especially those that appear to condone or encourage violence. I don’t approve of those statements myself...but they don’t make Trump responsible for the violence committed by leftist protestors determined to shut down his rallies.

     Yet the converse is also worthy of examination. Ted Cruz, a United States Senator, an avowed Christian, and a presidential candidate permitted himself to be associated with a bloodthirsty lunatic. It’s not just a matter of an unwanted endorsement, such as that David Duke supposedly bestowed on Donald Trump. Cruz permitted this “pastor” to introduce him to one of the most important conventions on religious freedom held last year. He did not distance himself from Swanson’s call for bloodshed, nor has he done so since the event.

     Add to this Cruz’s highly unwise statement, subsequent to the planned and organized disturbances at Trump’s Chicago rally, that:

     “In any campaign, the responsibility starts at the top. And it is not beneficial when you have a candidate like Donald Trump, who's telling his protesters, 'Punch that guy in the face.' ... I don't think you should be encouraging people to violence.”

     Donald Trump’s words are not justification for leftist violence – or any other violence. For a man as intelligent and generally sensible as Ted Cruz to imply otherwise, however indirectly, is deeply distressing. When combined with his association with “maniac pastor” Kevin Swanson as cited above, it casts doubt on his judgment sufficient to make me wonder whether I’d be willing to have him as a neighbor, much less as the President of these United States.

     (Where the devil is that planetoid?)


Avraham said...

Death penalty comes with two witnesses that see the act and give warning beforehand. The warning consists of the prohibition from what specific verse and its penalty. The basic laws are you do need a court of 23 judges. There is also דרידה וחקירה. That is the seven basic questions that have to be asked [time place, etc.] Plus extraneous questions that if gotten wrong acquit. [The seven basic questions are so that the witnesses can be subject to הזמה] That is if they say it was on 3/15/2016 two other people can come and ask how can you say it was then? Were not you with us in another place that day? Then the witnesses get the death penalty.

Francis W. Porretto said...

That's not Christianity, Avraham. In truth, I doubt a contemporary Jew would subscribe to it either.

Remember what Gandalf said to Frodo when Frodo said "I feel no pity for Gollum. He deserves death."

"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Anonymous said...

Are you arguing that someone who has earned the "death penalty", for whatever reason, can not be redeemed by Christ and receive eternal life?
I know you can't mean that.
But if you read your post, that seems to be your argument.
To put it another way, what does being "worthy of death" in this world/society have to do with salvation?

Anonymous said...

That's why I have little use for many religionists even having been raised to be religious myself. Out of one side of their mouths they preach "Love thy neighbor as thy self", out the other side they shriek "kill the fags". Disconnect?

Francis W. Porretto said...

Anon 1: No, not at all. How on Earth did you arrive at that interpretation? I don't see it.

Anon 2: It's been a problem before. Though it's less of one now, it's not completely behind us. Religious convictions are not a guarantee of goodness. Consider Torquemada, Calvin. and bin Laden.

Dystopic said...

The essence of Christ's message -- at least as I see it -- is that we all deserve death. Indeed, without him, we would all have death. The wages of sin is death, after all.

In this fallen world, we must, on occasion dispense death. To protect my son's life, I would kill. To protect my family, my friends, yes. I would deal death.

But to the homosexual, I would not deal death. It's not my business. It's not my sin, it's his sin. Since he is no threat to me, I am content to let God handle whatever punishment he does, or does not, deserve. I do not approve of his sin, I do not share in his sin, but in other ways I am sinful and also deserving of death. So it is well that I don't dispense his punishment, lest another dispense my punishment for the things I have done.

Since all of humanity is sinful, to properly punish everyone we would have to exterminate the entire species. I am sure God is not desiring of this, or else he would not have made the covenant with Noah.

Avraham said...

I was trying to give some background. The idea there are penalties in the Torah which are hard to give in practice. However the threat of the penalty tends to slow down the motion towards something bad.

1LLoyd said...

Romans 1 lists many things that are worthy of death -- fornication, wickedness, proud -- why are they left out. Of course he might be convicting his own heart. One of the things list is "without understanding." ;)

Seriously, too many people look at the Bible for permission, not instruction. In doing so, they twist it.

Amy Bowersox said...

I share your feelings about Swanson, as well as Cruz, who Swanson endorses. If they call for the death penalty for homosexuals, you can rest assured that I and my sisters and brothers won't be long behind...if they don't decide to wipe out the transgendered first.

Where I differ from many (perhaps most) of my sisters and brothers is, I think that Mr. Trump has at least the potential to be reasonable. He's donated to LGBT causes in the past, and the Miss USA Pageant, that he owns, is the first beauty pageant in this country to allow transwomen to compete, so I have some justification for my opinion. Were I to have the chance to talk to him, I would probably approach him by saying, "You're a businessman, first and foremost. Hatred is bad for business."

(Don't misinterpret that to think that I'm in favor of forcing businesses to do business with people they personally disapprove of, for whatever reason. If a business wants to shoot itself in the foot by turning away customers and revenue, who am I to stop them?)

Anonymous said...

"He is the Authority; no one can contravene a word He said. Neither can any man, regardless of his station, impose additional requirements on what He set forth as the conditions for salvation"
With the above statement you are implying that Paul "imposed additional requirements...for salvation". He did not, unless you interpret Paul's use of the phrase "worthy of death" to mean more than physical death. I, for one, do not. Not only that, in context, Paul actually said: " 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." So what Paul ACTUALLY said does not even indicate to me that he thinks physical death is the proper punishment in his own day. Especially when you read in context that "such things" included a long list, as noted elsewhere, including gossip and disobeying parents.
Paul pointing out that God hates many human behaviors is very different from adding a requirement for salvation.
Anon 1

Francis W. Porretto said...

Amy: Well said. Very well said.

Anon 1: Facile, but ultimately unconvincing. Paul, a former Pharisee, surely knew both the power of words and the natural behavior of those swayed by them.

RichJ said...

You hit it out of the park today, Francis!

I too try to fathom why there are apparent disconnects between what Jesus' explanation of some matter is and what comes later from the apostles and those that formed the first century congregation. Part of it is as Matthew 19 records, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God" Even Jesus, generally considered to be the only perfect one to walk on the planet, knows he is not good like his father. Think about what this means for the Christian congregation here on earth. This means that those taking the lead are imperfect. To the extent they are successful, it is because they throw their problems on God, seeking his instruction in their prayers. God is building his congregation with this in mind. He even illustrates it in the first few verses of Matthew 25.

Indeed, we are all imperfect. We are all sinners (Eccl 7:20, Rom 3:23-24). It is only through the undeserved kindness and the ransom sacrifice of his son that we even have a shot. And with regard to sin, there are many kinds. The Bible is quite clear that homosexuality is one of them, but it hardly the most prevalent. Afaict, Eve's sin (Gen 3:5) is the winner in this regard. It is everywhere and everyone of us suffers from it.

Note that the Bible is the inspired word of God as well (2 Peter 1:19-21). So to the point that apostles are mere metal mirrors (1 Corr 13:12) when compared to what Jesus has to say... it's kind of a head scratcher. The begged question is, "Why did God inspire these others to offer something that was apparently not quite as good?"

Despite at times appearing to even offer contradictory advice, the short answer is that this is not the case. A trivial example. In Galatians 6:5 it suggests we each "will carry his own load." Yet if you look at James 5:16, it encourages us to "openly confess your sins to one another". How does one unify this apparent disconnect? I think the key is what Paul says in Hebrews 5:13-14 where he contrasts spiritual food from spiritual milk and then says this:

"For everyone who continues to feed on milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a young child. 14 But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong."

In other words, one must train their powers of discernment to know when to apply one understanding/course of action versus another. That problem is NP-Complete, friends. My suggestion is to ask for an extra cup of spirit in your next prayer.

Anonymous said...

Fran -- I've been enjoying your posts for several years. I haven't yet located the entire speech online, but according to comments from site you linked, it appears you may have been mislead by selective editing and a less-than-accurate portrayal:

"...A moment later (you know, in the section that the propaganda clip edits out), Swanson explicitly says he is NOT calling for the execution of homosexuals and goes on to say that their sins are not that much different than the sins of a large majority of heterosexuals."

Perhaps even a Certified Galactic Intellect is occasionally subject to lapses in vigilance?

Francis W. Porretto said...

"Perhaps even a Certified Galactic Intellect is occasionally subject to lapses in vigilance?"

Occasionally? Anon -- you know, that's getting to be the most popular name around here. Mothers must have had an attack of uncreativity a few years back -- I'm wrong so often I could hang out a shingle for it, make it into a specialty. (If only there were money in it....)

Nevertheless, this pastor has openly provided those who take him seriously with a justification for the lowest imaginable behavior toward persons who, in the main, only want to be left alone. Worse, he's linked the abuse of homosexuals to the Gospels. That's a tough thing for me to forgive -- and it's damned near inexcusable for Ted Cruz to have associated himself with such sentiments.