Robert A. J. Gagnon Home
Articles Available Online
Response to Book Reviews
Material for "Two Views"
Material for "Christian Sexuality"
Answers to Emails
College Materials Robert Gagnon.htm






E-Mail Correspondence regarding My Response to Prof. Jennifer Knust on the CNN Belief Blog

by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.

March 9, 2011


On March 3, 2011 the Religion Editor at CNN posted a response by me to a previous article by Assistant Professor Jennifer Wright Knust. Her article, entitled “The Bible’s surprisingly mixed messages on sexuality” (Feb. 9, 2011), promoted the view that the Bible did not have a clear and consistent message against homosexual practice and that the Bible could not be used as a guide for sexual ethics. My response, entitled by the CNN Religion editor, “The Bible really does condemn homosexuality," rebutted these contentions (my own title for my response had been the more positively stated, "The Bible's surprisingly consistent message on sexuality"). I also posted on my own website an additional rebuttal of Knust's article that, owing to word-count limitations, could not be included in the CNN article: "More on Knust's Blunders about the Bible and Homosexuality."


Examples of Positive Responses to My CNN Article

My CNN article generated enough hits that for a day or two it was the most checked item on the entire CNN site. I also received a significant amount of email correspondence from the article. Most of the emails were very positive. I wrote back to each of these expressing my gratitude for their encouragement but I have not included those responses below. Here is a small sample:


From: Abby _________________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 4:57 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: praise the Lord for actual Biblical scholars

Dr. Gagnon,


I was so incredibly thrilled to see that you wrote a “follow-up” of sorts to Jennifer Wright Knust’s article. My dad has his Masters of Biblical Studies from _________________ and was nothing less than appalled by her article. My husband was just as shocked, and we were both deeply saddened by the dilution of Biblical principles as America continues on its path of watered-down morals.


It truly is disheartening to be in the minority of people who still hold fast to Jesus’ teachings, and to maintain those beliefs among people calling us “old-fashioned” and “outdated.” I wanted to sincerely thank you for writing the follow up that you did for CNN. The beliefs we hold aren’t popular ones, but Jesus said that the path of righteousness is a narrow one.


Praise the Lord that there are still people who are willing to go up to bat for what is right, despite living in a culture that not only screams on your intolerance and homophobia, but that rejects most everything moral, true, good and holy.  

I’m sure you’ll receive many an angry e-mail from Lady Gaga and the sorts, but know that there are several million more people standing behind you. Thank you for responding to the Lord’s calling to write what you did. It was really encouraging in a time when I’m afraid to speak my mind on the matter, for fear of being deemed prejudiced and a gay-hater. 


Abby ___________________


From: Darrel ___________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 4:09 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Your Article

Dr. Gagnon,

Thank you from your article on, “My Take: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality”.  I really appreciated your clear and direct response to Jennifer Wright Knust’s earlier article.  I know you will get a lot of negative comments on the CNN website, but I want  you to know that I appreciate your willingness to state the truth in love and to avoid the inflammatory rhetoric and dogma that so often mark the discussions of topics like these.

God Bless,

Darrel _____________


From: Angelica _________________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 4:24 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: My Take: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality

I want to thank you for writing such a well-versed and coherent response to Ms. Knust's ill-written article. I assume you do not get a lot of 'fan mail', because the topic you discuss about is such a hot button issue in America. But I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking to Scripture and for doing so unabashedly and with biblical facts on your side.

God bless you, Mr. Gagnon. You are in my prayers.

Angelica __________________


From: John ___________________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 4:21 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Your response to Knust

I'm a clinical psychologist trained at _______________.  Just so you know something about the person who says here to you, God bless you, brother, for a wise response that would impress Solomon, Paul and Peter.  I'm so glad CNN had "ears to hear" (or at least enough integrity to print) a worthy alternate viewpoint.  Press on!

John ___________________ 


From: Nathan ________________
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 5:22 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Thank you for your article on CNN

Dr. Gagnon, 

Thank you for your well reasoned article on CNN.  I had read with disgust the Knust article and knew that it needed a rebuttal.  I'm glad that it received one that was well founded in the actual words of scripture.  From what I saw, it also touched off a nerve on the comment board.  Yet no one could attack your arguments, they only attacked religion in general - signs that there was no counter argument that could be made.  I appreciate your standing up for the truth and being willing to be public about it. 

Nathan ________________


From: Randall ______________
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 3:08 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Opinion article on

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

Thank you for your clear response to the article by Jennifer Knust claiming the Bible is not clear about homosexuality.  I'm continually astounded by articles and op-ed pieces with claims that openly contradict the Bible, then state the Bible supports their positions by pulling small phrases or sentences out of context.  I've read the Bible several times and know these authors are wrong, but have trouble sometimes finding the specific chapters and verses to show my children where these writers err.  Nor do I have the depth of theological knowledge (or credentials) to craft an excellent counterpoint article.

Occasionally has the gumption to publish what they would consider a "right-leaning" piece.  I'm encouraged by finding your essay on their website as the Christian voice is all too often missing from world news.

Best regards,

Randall ______________


From: Mark ______________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 9:46 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Response to Knust


I thoroughly enjoyed reading your response to Knust's CNN article.  My favourite statement was "The fact that Knust chooses a distant analogue (slavery) over more proximate analogues (incest, polyamory) shows that her analogical reasoning is driven more by ideological biases than by fair use of analogies".   Thank you for stepping up.



From: Jim _________________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 9:34 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Article

Dr Gagnon,

Read your article on CNN.  Thank you for speaking the truth in love.  The astonishing thing about it is CNN published it!  May the Holy Spirit anoint your words as you no doubt come under attack for speaking out.

Just a sinner saved by grace,

Jimmy _________________


From: Jason _____________________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 7:13 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Thank you for your CNN article

Mr. Gagnon

I recently read your article, linked on CNN's front page regarding the Bible's position on homosexuality.  I had earlier read Jennifer Knust's article, the subject of your refutation.  I found myself thoroughly disgusted and aggravated with her article.   

I wish you had been given more space to write, because a true refutation would have torn her article to shreds.  I am a Roman Catholic and have been studying apologetics for a few years now, and I realize that for every sentence of blasphemous non-sense that our secular world touts as unvarnished truth, it usually takes pages and pages of research and work to refute it clearly and most importantly, honestly.  So i certainly appreciate your well thought out response. 

Honesty.  That virtue was certainly lacking from Knust's article.  I went into the old testament and read up on her references to David and Jonathon's supposed affair.  She quoted a verse if i remember correctly.  The verse said *nothing* of the sort.   

Anyways, I'll get off my soap box, but needless to say I was thrilled to see your rebuttal.  I've been seeing more and more CNN articles bashing Christianity, bashing Jesus, bashing the Bible and its about time someone started setting things straight.  Keep up the good work! 

God Bless you!

Jason _______________


From: paul _______________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 7:05 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Awesome Article on CNN - Please Sign me up for your mailing list

Hi Dr Gagnon,

You may or may not realize it but you are doing a lot of great good.  It was good to read such an article on CNN.  I hope you keep writing on CNN. 

For me the Article was very informative and will be a great help to me in my ministry as a Pastor since I have had to preach on this issue quite a bit.

God Richly Bless and Keep You

In Christ,

Pastor Paul _______________


From: Andrew ____________________
Sent: Fri 3/4/2011 9:36 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: thanks for your article on CNN

Hi Dr. Gagnon,

Thanks for your article the Bible condemning homosexuality.  I'm passing the article on to my children so that they will be able to understand and articulate the truth of God's Word on this subject as clearly as you did.


-- Andrew


From: David ____________________
Sent: Fri 3/4/2011 9:24 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Many Thanks

Dear Dr. Gagnon: 

I’m writing simply to express my thanks for your scholarly, clear, and convincing writings concerning homosexual practice and Scripture.  I recently read your book entitled The Bible and Homosexual Practice and found it very enlightening and helpful. 

I am among a group of Elders in our large _______________ church associated with the PC-USA who have been asked to help our congregation explore whether to maintain this affiliation or seek some other sort of arrangement. Those of us in leadership roles view support within the PC-USA for gay ordination and homosexual practice as symptoms of an even more troubling position:  Viewing Scripture as culturally conditioned and no longer authoritative or normative in our time.  Your work, along with that of scholars like Richard Hayes and Kenneth Bailey, has been particularly helpful to me. 

I read your recent blog entry on CNN as you responded to a piece written by Jennifer Knust.  Thanks for your excellent scholarship and for standing in the breach at this critical time.  I can only imagine the verbal assaults you’ve had to endure and pray the Lord will continue to protect and strengthen you. 

Very truly yours, 



From: Edward _________________
Sent: Fri 3/4/2011 9:24 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: thank you CNN

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

Thank you for the excellent CNN Belief Blog article.  You are a gift to Christ's church.  Keep working hard on this issue.  The church around the world needs your scholarship as we seek to follow Christ faithfully.

I have seen the declension of previously faithful brothers and sisters in Christ  in my previous denomination, the Reformed Church in America, over the last five years on this issue.  Your work of scholarship is needed now more than ever.

Rev. Edward ___________________


From: Rev. ____________
Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 9:08 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: CNN Belief Blog Article 

Dr. Gagnon,

I appreciated your recent response to Knust's article in the CNN blog. However, what I found most interesting were the comments on your article. Although there were many more responses than I wanted to read, it didn't take long to recognize the general patterns. For one thing virtually no one used any scholarly resources to disagree with you, in fact, none of the comments I read were a response to any of the work in your article. I was quite surprised by how many of them simply expressed their disagreement and then denied the authority of either Jesus or the scripture. None (that I saw) denied or even argued against the authority of your information or arguments.

A number of the comments seemed to come from people who were probably quite intelligent, but they were not using much in the way of thinking processes to respond to  you. Is it just that the kind of people who comment on the CNN blog are ding-a-lings, intellectually lazy or pseudo-intellectuals?  I could only think of one reason for the intellectually low quality comments to your article. They are people who have made a decision that does not depend much upon thinking. Public debates appear to be based on different criteria than they were during the Reformation. But then, the article you responded to seemed intellectually porous and of weak scholarship when read next to yours.

So, what is the criterion by which so many people are taking their positions? A couple of years ago I invited a pastor to one of your lectures. This pastor was sympathetic to the homosexual agenda, but reversed her opinion after your lecture. However, as time has gone by she has gradually returned to her previous position; but not because she has found your research and information flawed. She cannot tell me why except to fall back on the familiar arguments that you completely demolished in the lecture. I am beginning to realize that intellectual rigor and logic such as yours is more important to the Christianity of our time than ever before. It is important that all of us respond with such whenever possible.

Rev. _________________




Examples of Negative Emails and My Responses

Not surprisingly I also received some very negative emails. Though these were in the minority of the emails that I received (I would guess about 20% of the total number), I give a much larger sampling of them here than I do the positive emails. The reason for that is that readers may find my critiques of these emails helpful. Most of the negative emails were ad hominem (i.e. personal) attacks against me by persons who apparently had no convincing arguments to offer for their position. A few, however, were intelligently written. Some were so verbally abusive I simply didn't respond (gotta love the tolerance!). Here is a sample of the thoughtful and the thoughtless:


From: Johnson ___________________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 6:26 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Your views on the use of analogies

Dear Professor Gagnon,

I have been following your writings and letters posted on your website with great interest, and your grounding in Biblical text and hermeneutics is quite stimulating. I should enter this email with full disclosure that I disagree somewhat with your views on homosexuality (you would have figured that out within a sentence or two, regardless).

My specific question relates to your determination that many analogies to the Bible's view on homosexuality used in publications and letters to you are bad. More specifically, your criticism is often that the authors use "remote" analogies, which is dishonest and is a "cherrypicking" of analogies that support the author's view rather than a closer analogy that would contradict that view. I'll get concrete: people defending homosexuality often use slavery, diet, gender-based issues, or methods of punishment cited in the Bible to explain that those are, by general consensus, obsolete. It follows from the analogy, then, that someday intolerance of homosexuality will take the same path to obsolescence that slavery and the other analogies did. You counter that none of these examples are close analogies to homosexuality, but instead incest and polyamory are closer --- which certainly Christianity and much of society at large do not and should not condone.

My question to you is this: Do your arguments fall back on what is actually a subjective judgment which analogs are "closer" to homosexuality, when what's really going on is one person believes homosexuality itself is moral and you think that it is immoral? For instance, I believe slavery is a closer analogy for homosexuality than incest, because (1) incest has indisputably bad consequences (e.g. deformities in offspring) and we should not as a society come to accept it. In contrast, both slaves and homosexuals were/are unfairly persecuted or done unjust harm, and homosexuality and freed slaves (unlike incest) do not cause harm to society. Within that framework of reasoning, slavery is closer to homosexuality than incest is.

You may counter that I have it wrong, homosexuality _does_ bring harm to society. But isn't that a subjective judgment rather than objective scholarly reasoning? And in this context of the debate over which analogies are closer, aren't your declarations that some analogies are bad actually based on your belief that homosexuality is "just wrong" --- while people writing in to you with other analogies just believe differently? In other words, aren't we simply at a point in this debate where you believe one thing, others believe another thing, and this close analysis is a pretense of objective, scholarly reasoning when we all just have subjective disagreements about fundamental morals?

I appreciate your time and look forward to your thoughts.

Thank you,


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 11:57 AM
To: Johnson _________________
Subject: RE: Your views on the use of analogies

Dear Johnson, 

This is a very civil and intelligent email. Thank you for it. 

Pardon my briefness but I am having to go through a ton of email from the editorial.  

I don't think slavery can be made a closer analogue than incest and polyamory. 

The Bible has no vested interest in promoting slavery. Indeed, it is significantly critical of it. It does show a vested interest in rejecting homosexual practice, incest, and (in the NT) polyamory (already in the OT for women), all of which are sexual offenses that can be conducted in the context of consent and commitment. The rejection of both incest and polyamory is ultimately predicated on a male-female prerequisite. Slavery is not.  

Homosexual practice does issue in disproportionately high rates of measurable harm in terms of STI's, mental health problems, and in the numbers of sex partners and low relational longevity of unions. Many would like to attribute these harms exclusively to societal "homophobia." But male and female homosexuals experience these harms at different rates and in ways that correspond to expected gender types. The main problem is sex with someone who is not a true complement or counterpart. The extremes of a given sex are not moderated and the gaps not filled. It is not accidental, for example, that monogamy is a far greater problem for male homosexual relationships than even for female homosexual relationships. I trust you know the reason why as a male yourself. 

Incest does not produce intrinsic measurable harm as you suggest. Only disproportionately high rates, like homosexual practice. You can imagine a adult-committed incestuous union where no progeny would arise (e.g., a same-sex one; or where one or both partners are infertile; or where strong birth-control precautions are taken). But that wouldn't make an incestuous union between consenting adults morally acceptable. The birth difficulties are merely the symptom of the root harm: too much structural or embodied identity on the part of the participants, here on the level of kinship. There's so much uber-identity on the part of same-sex erotic unions that procreation isn't even possible, let alone given to corruption of the genetic pool. 


Dr. Gagnon



From: Jason P. Myerson
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 3:00 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: commentary

Good Afternoon Robert,  

   I read your substantiating texts regarding the bible's interpretation that homosexuality is completely against GODs rules. I guess sacrificing your son is also GODs rule as well as slavery. If you go strictly by Jesus's teachings he mentions nothing of the sort, and in one of the four gospels, brushes across the topic, but really doesn't want to answer the question of marriage due to its unimportance to his teachings. I find the most repetitive teaching Jesus's teaches is that be kind to thy neighbor and treat him/her with respect as you would want to be treated. The most reiterated teaching played out again and again in the bible that is paramount I find interesting that most Christians and bible followers forget. Meaning if someone is a homosexual you should treat him with respect as he is your neighbor and not meant for your judgement as this is Gods. The reason the new testament came out was that it was after Gods frustration with the prior people and prophets that could not control the imature and lost people of that time. Jesus was revolutionary as with other prophets that God had in close quarters. Genesis 22:1-19. "Here the Lord asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son through ...." I always love how people pick and choose what quotes to substantiate their point and it's always these texts that are found in old testament and they ignore the sacrifices and other archaic, absurd teachings that are in there. So, please when you quote the bible quote all of it for validity. Please don't pick and choose to substantiate your own biasnesses. It's 2011, I think we have caused enough sufferings and killing due to bigotry in history. Let's for once really follow Jesus's supreme teachings and create maybe the eutopia he years ago visioned.  

With Utmost Sincerity and Love,  

Jason P. Myerson 


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 8:08 PM
Jason P. Myerson
Subject: RE: commentary


Thanks for your email. Where do I begin? To argue that marriage was unimportant to Jesus when he tightened the requirement for sexual purity beyond anything known in the ancient world and stated that the sexually impure could be thrown into hell misses the mark by a wide margin. He didn’t have to talk overly much about marriage because the Judaism of his day mostly got that right. Jesus reached out in love to the economically exploitative tax collectors but that outreach certainly didn’t connote acceptance of their exploitation. The same applies to his outreach to sexual sinners, as indicated by his comment to the adulterous woman: Go and no longer be sinning (lest something worse happen to you).” It would have been unreasonable for Jesus to talk at length about homosexual practice since the extant historical evidence indicates that no Jew was advocating such behavior, let alone engaging in it. 

The Abraham story to which you refer establishes that God will not require sacrifice of Israelite children and subsequent Old Testament legislation condemns child sacrifice vehemently. 

There are certainly teachings in the Bible that we don’t follow today. If you read my article carefully you will see that I talk about that point. But there’s plenty of good evidence for recognizing that a male-female requirement for sexual intercourse is a core value in Scripture’s sexual ethics.  

You might find some further responses to the kinds of views that you express in my online addendum to the article at .  


Dr. Gagnon


From: Hal _________________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 6:22 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: some thoughts

Dr. Gagnon,

I recently read your opinion essay on I also visited your website and read a couple of your essays on homosexuality and Christianity. I also spent some time on your answers to e-mails section and found those to be quite fascinating.

Let me start out by telling you that I am a heterosexual christian. I believe that homosexuals were born with a sexual attraction to the same sex. I was very interested particularly with your argument that even though they may be born with that feeling, it is still their duty to God not to act upon it. I happen to know someone who is a homosexual who has no attraction at all to the opposite gender, this person has never acted upon their homosexual urges. This person I am speaking of is a very devout Christian, but he is a miserable person. You can see how miserable he is in everything that he does. What are your thoughts on this? Should homosexuals who are born with a biological attraction to the same sex really live their lives in complete misery and depression. Whose place is it of any living person to tell them that they shouldn't fall in love with someone who they have an attraction to on all levels?


Hal ________________


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 12:10 PM
To: Hal _______________
Subject: RE: some thoughts


Thanks for your comments.

You ask about your miserable friend. There's lots of misery in the homosexual life too, and multiple health dangers even for those with the best of intentions. How do you think Paul felt being called to a ministry that caused him to be regularly beaten, stoned, poorly fed-clothed-sheltered, etc.? How do you think Jesus felt being crucified? Jesus called us to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and lose our lives (one of the best attested Gospel sayings). All of us in life have struggles. Persons with homosexual attractions are not the only ones. Many believers stay in difficult marriages out of obedience to the gospel where singleness (they feel) would have been far to be preferred. The bottom line: None of us gets a pass to violate the will of God. Ultimately, I believe, God can use even the most difficult moments of life, life's deprivations, to shape Christ in us. That's what Paul thought, at any rate, and as someone who suffered as much as any Christian in history he knew what he was talking about. 


Dr. Gagnon



From: Justin _______________
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 4:09 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality

Dr. Gagnon,

After reading your recent blog on CNN i can't help but be struck by a single glaring flaw in your opinion.  While you do a very proficient job of showing the Bible does not explicitly condone homosexuality, no where do you show that it explicitly prohibits it either.  You state that the bible exclusively references relations as those between a man and a woman, yet the implication that anything outside of that is automatically condemned is making a fairly large assumption.

 I would also like to respectfully disagree with your opinion that interpretations made in the second century are somehow more relevant than interpreations made in modern times.  I'd suggest the breadth of knowledge by those making modern day interpretations trumps the scholars that were doing the same centuries ago.




From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 8:53 PM
To: 'Justin _______________
Subject: RE: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality

Hi Justin, 

Please see my articles at and you’ll find plenty of evidence of the Bible’s strong and specific opposition to homosexual practice. 

I was given extremely limited space (word count) for this article. I could only address the points that Knust made and only a couple of the key ones. I originally had a section on the Romans 1:24-27, specifically how we know that the indictment was absolute, but it had to be cut because of word-count limitations. However you can see it, in brief, in my addendum to the Knust piece at BTW, if Jesus extrapolated the essential twoness of a sexual bond from the 2-ness of the sexes, male and female, as I argue, then there can be no doubt that he saw a male-female prerequisite as foundational for all sexual activity. 

I cite interpretations from the second century simply to confirm that all the earliest interpretations read “no ‘male and female’” as meaning “no sex” when applied to sexual relations; that makes it more likely than not that this is how the originally authors understood it. Certainly that’s how Paul interpreted his own words, given his remarks about homosexual practice in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 (1 Timothy 1:10). 

Thanks for the civility of your response. 


Dr. Gagnon


From: Matthew Gordon
Sent: Fri 3/4/2011 12:10 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Question about Bible and priests.

Dear Robert, 

I just read your opinion piece on whether the Bible is for or against homosexuality. I'm curious, does the Bible state any opinion on priests having sex with children? Perhaps the church should do an in-house cleaning before passing too much judgement on what consenting adults behind closed doors. With the church's track record of protecting their clergy so that pedophile priests can continue to damage the lives of more innocent children, you'd think that it would be more realistic about it's own self righteousness. Then again, I should not make the mistake of assuming that people who take the bible as literal truth are the least  bit realistic. Perhaps that's a flaw that I need to work on. 


Matt Gordon


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 7:29 AM
To: Matthew Gordon
Subject: RE: Question about Bible and priests.

Dear Matt, 

I don't see the relevance since I believe that pedophilic priests are liable to criminal prosecution. 

By your rationale since some persons who profess to be Christians engage in immoral activity that the church does not sanction the Church should sanction every and any immoral act (which, then, would have to include things like murder, incest, and exploitation of the poor). 

Dr. Gagnon


From: Matthew Gordon
Sent: Tuesday, March 08, 2011 1:53 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: RE: Question about Bible and priests.  

Dear Robert, 

The church, in effect, sanctioned pedophilia by sweeping it under the rug until recently and not effectively taking action to stop what they knew was going on. 

My point is, the church has been guilty of great wrongs throughout history. Has Christianity done more harm than good? I hardly have the evidence to prove that point conclusively one way or the other. But I feel that religion, when in the wrong hands, is dangerous and can be used as a weapon by those who have a motive of their own. I suspect that your article stating that you believe that the bible condemns homosexuality was a thinly veiled attempt to publish what is, in effect, hate speech. After all, to use your words, homosexuality is "immoral". 

According to the bible, there are all kinds of sins. I find it curious that you focus on the words written about homosexuality vs. any other "sin" in the bible. Perhaps you have homosexual leanings of your own that you're ashamed of? Or perhaps you feel that the bible entitles you to sit in judgement of other people and it makes you feel good about yourself. Only you know the answer. But I do know one thing, when a person goes out of his way to put down another human being or group of human beings, it is often with the intention of deflecting attention from their own flaws. 

Anyway, I look forward on reading your opinion about Jews. 



From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Tuesday, March 08, 2011 9:10 AM
To: Matthew Gordon
Subject: RE: Question about Bible and priests. 


The canard about "hate speech" is as unreasonable as the claim that calling immoral, or opposing civil status to, sexual relationships involving three or more sexual partners concurrently or involving close kin is "hate speech." I think what you have just written to me is far closer to hate speech than anything that I write. Note the repeated ad hominem on your part. I always find it odd that the people who speak loudest in condemning opposition to homosexual practice as "hate speech" exhibit so much blind hate. 

The reason for my attention to the issue is that acceptance of homosexual practice is being foisted on the church and on society when, I believe, the witness of Scripture, reason, and science strongly indicates that such behavior should not be accepted. If there were a full-court press in the church and in society to condone polyamorous or incestuous behavior of an adult-committed sort I would give these matters significantly more attention too. To my knowledge I never have experienced homosexual urges. But then the notion that to oppose homosexual practice makes one a "closet homosexual" is about as absurd as me claiming that your vigorous opposition to pedophilia makes you a "closet pedophile." 

For someone who wants to argue against judgmental attitudes, you present yourself as very judgmental of anyone who disagrees with you. Indeed, if we apply your principle that to write against something or someone is to expose one's own problems in the same area, then you, in criticizing me so harshly for "hate speech," must suffer much from hating others. For that you have my sincere sympathy. 

Dr. Robert Gagnon


Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 5:05 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: My Take: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality

Yeah. The Bible condemns killing, too. "Thou shalt not kill". Soldiers are trained to kill, but they still get equality under the law. Another scriptural / law discrepancy which is conveniently ignored in the grand scheme of the conservative political agenda. So sad.


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 12:17 PM
Subject: RE: My Take: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality

The Bible condemns murder. That's what the Decalogue is talking about in its historical context. It does not condemn the state taking action against murderers in its midst, including capital sentencing. 

Given your absolutist stance on no killing, I guess you think that the United States should have done nothing after the attack on Pearl Harbor in Dec. 7, 1941. And we should have let Hitler go on and continue to gas the entire European Jewish population?


Sent: Fri 3/4/2011 1:01 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: My Take: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality

You're wrong. The Bible does not put conditions on killing.

It doesn't say "Thou Shalt Not Kill (except during wartime)." It does not say "Thou Shalt Not Kill (except in self-defense)." It doesn't say "Thou shalt not kill" (except in cases of capital punishment)." 

It says "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Period. 

To do so is immoral and against the word of God. But people who kill (i.e. Presidents, Popes, Soldiers, Law Enforcement Officials) are not denied equality as a result of their violation of "The word of God.".  

The point is that when religion and morality start to dictate law, government, and the allocation of human rights, you can't just "pick and choose" which parts of the bible to take literally. Otherwise, anybody who violates the multiple crazy abominations listed in Leviticus (eating shellfish, etc.) would be given second-class citizen status, too. 

We were right to go after the Japanese and Hitler. But those actions have consequences.

Own it.


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 1:30 PM
Subject: RE: My Take: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality

You say "We were right...." Well, that's justified killing, isn't it? 

The Decalogue command doesn't have to add those limitations because it is well understood in the historical context. The very trajectories of tradition that record the Decalogue do so while at the same time telling stories of justified killing. A similar case can be made from ancient Near Eastern law generally.  

As for "picking and choosing," there certainly are laws in the OT that don't carry over in the age of Jesus. Jesus himself stated as much when he overrode Mosaic allowance for polygamy due, he said, to human (here male) "hardness of heart." I assume that you don't know better than Jesus.  



From: Albert ____________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 11:02 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: CNN article: The Bible bans homosexuality

Good evening, Dr. Gagnon.  

I just read your article.  I would suggest you reacquaint yourself with some of the teachings of the late Dr. William Orr [who taught at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary decades ago].  One of the one's I like best is his view on evil and forgiveness and the inevitable shriveling of evil in the presence of forgiveness.  To me, those teachings are much more important to humanity than the rather needless discourse you and Ms. Knust have embarked on. 

Why not let all of us try to treat those we interact with in the way we would like to be treated in return.  The "Lord" certainly knows how hard that is for me, and, I suspect for many of the rest of us. 


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 7:49 AM
To: Albert ____________
Subject: RE: CNN article: The Bible bans homosexuality

Dear Al, 

Thank you for your email. I am acquainted somewhat with Dr. Orr, one of my predecessors. I am glad to hear of your positive memories of him. And I am well acquainted with teaching on forgiveness in the New Testament. But may I reacquaint you with repentance? Jesus teaches in Luke 17:3: If your brother sins rebuke him and if he repents forgive him. That's an echo to Leviticus 19:17-18: You shall not hate or take revenge on your neighbor; and if your neighbor does wrong you shall reprove your neighbor (lest you incur guilt for failing to warn him) and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus warned the woman caught in adultery: Go and no longer be sinning (lest something worse happen to you, loss of eternal life). 

Writing an essay that rebuts a scholar's claim that the Bible cannot substantiate a opposition to homosexual practice is not a waste of time, unless you consider the promotion of immoral behavior in the church to be fruitful. 

Love rejoices in the truth, not in the promotion of immorality (1 Cor 13). 

Nothing that I have written about diminishes the significance of love and forgiveness. On the contrary it establishes it. If I were engaged in immoral activity that could threaten my inheritance of God's kingdom I would want someone to warn me (in a gentle way of course) before it was too late. You wouldn't say nothing if your children were about to touch a hot stove, would you? Well, why would you say nothing if they were endangering their eternal relationship with God? 

You may be interested in my follow-up at  


Dr. Gagnon


From: Michael Mauzey
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 10:43 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: You godly enough to read this through?

Do you bible-thumpers ever publically admit that what you claim that Jesus said about this and that was at the very least written down over 200 years after Jesus died, so who really knows what Jesus said?   And what about all the other Gospels that Constantine and his flunkies at the Council of Nicaea chose to leave out of their holy bible ?  Why is there no Gospel of Mary Magdalene ... clearly Jesus' favorite and most trusted disciple?  or of the Essenes or of Judas (who many believe ... including myself ... that Judas was doing what Jesus instructed him to do and that if Judas had not done it, there would be no such thing as christianity today ... there could be no resurrection without Jesus' death , so Jesus would have faded into oblivion, just like Mr. Magoo. 

So isn't Judas one of the true heroes of history and one of the main founders of Christianity? 

And Mary Magdalene was a prostitute?  Come on ... even the antichrist pope doesn't spout that ridiculous propaganda anymore.  Yea ... how holy were those christian catholics when thet slaughtered the Incas and Aztecs or lest we forget the glorious Spanish Inquisition and all of Jesus' love that was shown there by Jesus' christian devotees? 

How can you trust what X tells Y who then tells Z who in turn tells A who shares it with his child B and thus over 200 years have passed ... so NONE of the writers of the bible actually spoke to Jesus or even heard Jesus speak? 

I admit that I am not a christian (christians scare me a lot more than muslims do), but I have a deep belief in and love for God.  I do believe that Jesus was a prophet sent by God to help humanity become more humane as have many other prophets that God has sent. 

But you christians distort Jesus' teachings of love into hate and arrogance.  I hope I'm not standing next to you when I meet my Maker cuz' I don't think He's gonna be very happy with you. 

And my last point ... have you ever heard the adage, "Methinks thou doth protest too much"?  It sure seems to me that you write an awful lot about homosexuality, kinda like most homophobes are really closet homosexuals themselves. 

I'll pray for you cuz' I think you're really gonna need the prayers of someone who believes in a LOVING God, 

Michael Mauzey


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 8:36 AM
To: Michael Mauzey
Subject: RE: You godly enough to read this through?


Where should I begin in responding to this? 

Let's take just one example: Judas was used in God's plan but that doesn't make him morally innocent, anymore than the fact that God used Babylon to bring Israel into exile in the 6th century B.C. absolved Babylon for their excesses against Israel.  

And I fail to see how citing actions by Christians in the past against the very teachings of the gospel are a criticism of that gospel. 

As for not being able to determine anything about what Jesus believed, that will be news to thousands of New Testament scholars in this country alone. Establishing the historicity of Jesus' views is the divorce-remarriage text is fairly simple: multiple attestation by independent sources, a teaching dissimilar from the prevailing cultural environment, a teaching that caused even the church that preserved these sayings problems, etc. 

There is nothing hateful or arrogant about opposing cultural incentives for homosexual practice, just like there would be nothing hateful or arrogant about opposing the promotion of adult-committed incest or polyamory or adultery. 

Open the New Testament sometime and read the whole thing for comprehension. You might be enlightened by its teachings and especially by the true figure of Jesus Christ, not your misperceived notions of who Jesus was. I know I was helped by doing so decades ago and continue to draw inspiration from the New Testament. 

Dr. Gagnon


From: Trautwein, Richard C
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 9:42 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Disgrace

I pray, with every bone in my body, that you someone very close to you
is gay. And I wish even more that you get to experience first-hand, how
much hurt & pain people like you cause the gay community. Your research
is pointless, homosexuals aren't going anywhere, we didn't choose this.
Leave us alone. Find something else to do with your free time.

In the future, when gay marriage is legal, our history books people
like you will be the 'bad guys', just like during every other civil
rights movement.

So who do you want to be? Abraham Lincoln or John Wilkes Booth?

Believe what you want, but stop thinking that your beliefs get to
control my life.


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 9:52 AM
To: Trautwein, Richard C
Subject: RE: Disgrace

Dear Richard, 

What matters to me is what God says about me on the day of judgment, not what future textbooks say. I don't want to be someone who wilts under cultural pressure and ends up endorsing immoral behavior as a result. 

I have had lots of close associations with persons who experience same-sex attractions. So what? All of us are loaded up with innate urges to do what God expressly forbids, sexual or otherwise. We are not the sum total of our biological urges but rather who God intends us to be as a new creation in Christ. Jesus tells us to take up our cross, deny ourselves, lose our life, and come follow him. You don't get an exemption from that demand just because your particular innate urge is a same-sex attraction. 

When it comes to the civil sphere I don't make religious arguments but rather a philosophical and scientific case. When it comes to imposing views, I think that is exactly what you are trying to do. The only difference is: You don't offer much of an argument. 

Dr. Gagnon



From: Joe _____________________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 8:47 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: re: my gay son: can I get your opinion on another view?

Hello, my name is Joe and I wanted to get your opinion on something thats been troubling me. 

I know my boy is not the "same sex" as me , and the reason for that lies in the fact that he was born with the sexual brain of a woman, and we know from the number of people that suffer from similar impairment that sexual attraction -a function of brain activity-  does not always align with the person's gender.  And that results from a breakdown in the gestation process, nature does not always get it right. 

It follows that gay people experience gayness as a given, and not as a matter of choice. 

To this extent my son and those like him, are not homogenous with me, as I was born with the"normal" sexual desire, which means I harbour no sexual desire at all towards persons of the same gender. 

I am considered normal, but there are historical precedents for the practice of sex as a lifestyle of choice between normal men, particularly in the armies of ancient cultures including the Romans.  Could it be that the Bible was referring to the latter in its condemnation, and not the former? 

In other words, gay persons were not the object of the biblical injunctions, but normal, heterosexual persons who engaged in sodomy? 

There is a difference, and that difference may not have been understood by Leviticus, but today I think this difference is being recognised and understood.    

In the interests of fairness I would ask if you would be prepared to put that view out on CNN as well as your own respected view? 

I look forward to a possible reply from you 

Joe _____________________


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 10:31 AM
To: Joe __________________
Subject: RE: my gay son: can I get your opinion on another view?

Hi Joe, 

I sympathize with your concern for your son.

The Greco-Roman world posits a number of theories of congenital or early-childhood factors for one or more forms of homosexual development. New Testament writers were doubtless aware of these theories, as were many Greco-Roman moralists. It wouldn't have made a difference to their indictment, as I have argued in many places. Sin itself is an innate urge, passed on by an ancestor, running through the members of the human body, and never entirely within human control. All behavior is, on some level, attributable to differences in brain structure and process. If innateness were an argument for morality, then one would have to condone all behaviors, which is a moral absurdity. 


Dr. Gagnon


From: Joe _____________________
Sent: Fri 3/4/2011 2:10 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: my gay son: can I get your opinion on another view?

Hi Robert, and thanks indeed for taking the time to reply.

A note about innateness:  Those whose gender is perfectly aligned with their
sexual attraction and those whose gender is not so aligned, both experience
their respective alignments as a given.

Indeed, the U.S.Convocation of Catholic Bishops noted in their Pastoral
Message to Parents of Homosexual Children entitled 'Always our children"
( observed as follows:

"Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as
something freely chosen. By itself, therefore, a homosexual orientation
cannot be considered sinful, for morality presumes the freedom to choose".



From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 2:26 PM
To: Joe ____________________
Subject: RE: my gay son: can I get your opinion on another view?

Hi Joe, 

The Catholic statement could be better worded at a certain point, from the standpoint of what Scripture says. 

I agree that much same-sex attraction is experienced apart from conscious choice, though I would add that incremental, often blind, choices that a person makes in life can impact the incidence of homosexuality. And the larger culture can also impact incidence. It's not a completely deterministic mechanism, a fait accompli that takes place at birth and irrespective of any and every macrocultural and microcultural influence. 

But my main concern is with this statement: "By itself, therefore, a homosexual orientation
cannot be considered sinful, for morality presumes the freedom to choose". 

It would be better to say that the impulse to have sex with persons of the same sex is intrinsically a sinful impulse but that one is not held culpable merely for the experience of the impulse but only if one acquiesces to that impulse by entertaining it in one's thought life or engaging in behavior consonant with that impulse. 

If the impulse were not sinful, there would be no reason not to gratify it. 

By analogy, a sexual attraction to prepubescent children is a sinful impulse, which is why the person experiencing it should refrain from gratifying the impulse. But a person experiencing such an impulse would not be liable for it if he or she did not act on it in thought or deed. 



From: Roger Gonzalez
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 7:46 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: So?

Who cares if the Bible condemns homosexuality or not? This is a country of laws, not Christian or Biblical values? Nowhere are the 10 commandments in any federal or state law.  

So what's your point? Who cares what the Left or the Right think? What counts is that we treat all humans with compassion instead of hate which your CNN diatribe alludes to.  

Practice your religion the way YOU want, but don't force others to believe how YOU want. Nothing wrong with Christians being Christians; what's wrong is you trying to force others to restrict their thinking and actions according to your interpretations of the Bible...This goes for all religions...


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 11:28 AM
To: Roger Gonzalez
Subject: RE: So?


Okay ... so what should we do instead? Have you impose your views on us, to wit, that homosexual practice is wonderful, and forcibly indoctrinate children in the schools not to believe otherwise, penalize persons in the workplace who don't get all happy over GLBT groups imposing their views on others, have counseling degrees withheld from those who don't think homosexual practice is moral behavior, etc.? Should we promote a form of behavior that has higher risks for STIs, high numbers of sex partners over life, more mental health problems, higher relational turnover? 

My editorial responded to an editorial that claimed that the Bible did not present a clear consistent witness to homosexual practice. If I were making a case for why the state should not endorse homosexual practice I would make a nonscriptural argument like the one here: 

Not a single thing that I said promotes hate. What is hateful is pushing for the acceptance of a behavior that produces high rates of measurable harm and dishonors the sexual integrity of persons made in God's image. 

Dr. Gagnon



From: Brent Fulton
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 10:36 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: CNN article on Bible and Homosexuality

Dear Professor Gagnon, 

I enjoyed reading your CNN article "My Take: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality." I agree that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But I think peoples'--including believers’--consciences, not the Bible, define moral versus immoral behavior. 

Most believers have determined that a few Biblical passages are immoral, including those that call for children who curse their parents to be put to death, forbid women from having authority over a man or from speaking in Church, permit fathers to sell their daughters into slavery, and permit the severe beatings of slaves. Although these immoral passages only represent a tiny fraction of the 31,000 verses in the Bible, most of which are moral, the tiny fraction musters a fortress against the claim that only the Bible defines moral versus immoral behavior. In these cases, believers’ consciences, not the Bible, have defined moral versus immoral behavior.  

So believers' may use their consciences and decide that homosexuality is moral. I would appreciate your opinion on this. The full version of this argument is presented here: "Is the Bible or Your Conscience the Source of Moral Authority? An Application to California’s Proposition 8." 


Brent Fulton


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 8:55 AM
To: Brent Fulton
Subject: RE: CNN article on Bible and Homosexuality

Dear Brent, 

It's not all random as you present it to be. There is certainly teaching in the Bible that was permitted owing to human hardness of heart but does not represent God's creation will, as Jesus himself noted in his discussion of "any matter" divorce allowed men (not women) in the law of Moses. And perhaps you didn't read my discussion of the problems with the slavery analogy? 

But there are also core values in the text of Scripture, values that are held pervasively, that is, throughout the two Testaments of Scripture; held strongly, that is, the violation of which is consistently treated as a severe offense; held absolutely, that is, no exceptions ever allowed; and/or held counterculturally, that is, against prevailing cultural trends and so something that did not come about merely from imbibing at the cultural well. I would say that it is safe bet that a view that Jesus believed to be foundational for the church's sexual ethics, reaching back into creation itself, and treated by the combined apostolic witness to Christ as such, should probably be treated for followers of Christ as important. As for how important the issue of homosexual practice is, see my article at for starters. 

To be sure, opposition to homosexual practice can also be grounded well in moral reasoning and in scientific evidence. See my discussion here for example as a beginning point: . Of course one can't simply say, "The Bible says it," without any recourse to considering whether the value is a core value within Scripture, or without any recourse to reason and science. 

I looked at the link that you sent to me. I'm sorry to say that I wasn't impressed with your argument. I think that you could read more widely on the matter of Scripture and homosexuality, as well as generally on the question of hermeneutics. 


Dr. Gagnon


From: Brent Fulton
Friday, March 04, 2011 6:18 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: CNN article on Bible and Homosexuality

Dear Dr. Gagnon, 

Thank you for your reply, which leads to a follow-up question: Do you advocate for Christians to follow the directives in my List 2 "Word of Whom"? These passages seem to fall into your category "held strongly" and some even go into "held pervasively." If you don't advocate for them, the most likely reason is that your and the Church's conscience are directing you not to, because the passages are quite clear. 


Brent Fulton 


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Saturday, March 05, 2011 3:29 PM
To: Brent Fulton
Subject: RE: CNN article on Bible and Homosexuality 


You mean this list?:

A1. Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death (Ex. 21:17, Lev. 20:9, Mt. 15:4).

A2. If a son is rebellious and will not obey his father and mother, then they shall take him to the town elders and all the men of his town shall stone him to death (Dt. 21:18-21).

B1. A woman should neither teach nor have authority over a man; for Adam was formed first, then Eve (I Tim. 2:12-13)

B2. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in churches (I Cor. 14:33-34).

B3. Wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Eph. 5:24).

B4. If the wife comes to rescue her husband fighting another man, and she seizes the other man by his private parts, “you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity” (Dt. 25:11-12).

B5. If a man rapes a virgin who is not pledged to be married, the man shall pay her father and marry her because he violated her (Dt. 22:28).

C1. A father is permitted to sell his daughter into slavery (Ex. 21:7).

C2. A man may beat his slave and is not to be punished if his slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property (Ex. 21:20).

C3. Slavery is permitted and slaves should be obedient (Eph. 6:5-8, Col. 3:22-24, I Tim. 6:1-2, Tit. 2:9-10). 


First of all you have some laws that apply only to a theocratic state on earth in this age. These don't apply in the new covenant, including the capital sentencing.  Jesus' treatment of the woman caught in adultery, normally a capital offense, is a case in point. I've already noted to you that Jesus talks about allowances to human hardness of heart in the law of Moses that no longer apply. And I've also dealt with why the slavery analogy is a poor analogue to the Bible's view of a male-female prerequisite for sex.  

As for the New Testament texts about women's roles, most scholars would argue (and I would concur) that the Pastoral Epistles and Ephesians are post-Pauline, written by a Pauline school after Paul's death and represent a conservative regress a bit on women's roles in order to accommodate Christianity to prevailing cultural norms.  

The 1 Cor 14:33-34 text could be a text-critical interpolation (there is displacement of these words in some early manuscripts) but even if that is not the case (and I tend to think it's not) it still applies in context only to the issue of women evaluating the authenticity of prophecies. Paul himself defends their right to prophesy in the church so it is probably not a command to silence to be taken absolutely. There are counterbalancing texts in Paul like his salute to numerous women co-workers in the proclamation of the gospel (including one woman, Junia, who along with her husband appears to be called an apostle in a big A sense) and his reference in Philippians 4 to two women leaders of the church at Philippi, asking them to stop fighting (not to step down from leadership). There are certainly problems with the view of women in the Bible at points but there are also affirmations of women (even in the OT; for example, Judge Deborah and the prophetess Huldah). Both within the canon of Scripture and in comparison to what's going on the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman milieu, there is a strong liberating dynamic for women that justifies carrying things forward beyond the canon. But there is absolutely nothing like with regard to Scripture's view of homosexual practice, where the perspective is one of unremitting opposition from Genesis to Revelation and where a male-female prerequisite is regarded as absolutely foundational. Even the women's roles issues is a far more distant analogue to the issue of homosexual practice then the Bible's view on incest and polyamory. 

Your arguments apply only to inerrantists and, moreover, largely to inerrantists who see no difference between the two covenants. This view of things certainly doesn't apply to me. What I'm talking about are core values in the text of Scripture, elements that are regarded as foundational.  

Dr. Gagnon


From: Brent Fulton
Friday, Monday, March 07, 2011 1:34 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: CNN article on Bible and Homosexuality

Dear Dr. Gagnon, 

Thank you for your reply. I initially wrote you because I read your article, and then saw you were a professor. That's precisely why I decided to ask your opinion on what I wrote, realizing you had a deeper knowledge of the subject matter than I. 

I need to re-read some of the items you mentioned (e.g., Jesus talks about allowances to human hardness of heart in the law of Moses that no longer apply). 

One last point. I tend to evaluate how pride enters into a decision, as I think it's at the core of what separates man from God. The prideful work to glorify themselves, while the non-prideful work to glorify God. Homosexual practice doesn't really seem to center on pride, although I agree with you that it is condemned in the Bible. 


Brent Fulton


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2011 8:15 AM
To: Brent Fulton
Subject: RE: CNN article on Bible and Homosexuality 

Thanks for your note, Brent. 

I'm not sure how pride would factor in to any form of sexual gratification that violates the will of God, including adult-consensual forms of incest and polyamory. It may be reductionism to regard things as wrong only if pride is an obvious component. On the other hand one could argue that anytime a person is engaged in activity that God forbids it is by definition a refusal to glorify God, a substitution of one's own will and desire for God's. Part of the point of Rom 1:18-32 is to argue that humans sin in deliberate suppression of the truth about God and the way God made us. As regards homosexual practice that suppression involves the transparent complementarity of 'male and female," anatomically, physiologically, and psychologically, a truth in the material structures of creation unleashed in nature that anyone who engages in same-sex intercourse must override. To override it is tantamount to a refusal to glorify God as God by honoring the way God made us. 




From: Carter _____________
Sent: Thu 3/3/2011 10:47 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Regarding the Biblical importance of homosexuality as an issue for contemporary Christians

Dear Professor Gagnon, 

I'm not a Biblical scholar, and therefore not really in a very good position to evaluate the credibility of your positions or those of your critics, but it certainly appears to be true that the Bible condemns homosexual activity in various places. It also would obviously be contrary to the broader understanding of identity and sexuality put forward by your theological interpretation of Genesis (I would disagree philosophically with the conclusion, but the interpretation itself seems plausible). But in my view, the problem is not with what the Bible says, but rather the selective force with which various Christian communities apply Biblical teachings. 

Homosexuality may be condemned in the Bible. But so is adultery, lying, usury, and many other things. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians condemns homosexuals, for example, but does so in same breath that he condemns drunks, the greedy, and adulterers. There are many Biblical provisions which are weakly applied by believers or are ignored entirely. For example, we typically do not see evangelical congregations railing against fraud or corporate malfeasance, nor do we see them condemn adultery with the same furor they reserve for homosexuals. The emphasis Jesus placed on peace, compassion, and equity seems rather out of place in the large number of conservative-leaning Christian communities in America, which (I am generalizing, of course) tend to be defenders of untrammeled capitalism, gun rights, the military-industry complex, the prison industry, and the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, which -- regardless of how we view the claims of the Israelis, what they have endured as a people, or the many positive aspects of their society -- is I think an inhumane occupation. Some openly advocate violence against those who sin; others explicitly advocate for the accumulation of vast material wealth. 

As an outsider to these issues (I'm neither a Christian nor a homosexual), I find the incongruity perplexing. It appears to me that the most outspoken congregations (again, I am generalizing -- Osteen's position, for example, would likely be a notable exception) on the issue of gay marriage hold some of the more conspicuously anti-Christian views in other matters.  

In any case, I would be delighted to hear your views regarding the importance of homosexuality as an issue for Christianity. Is it really as important as contemporary debate makes it out to be? Why do Christians seem to care about it so much, while caring so little about things which seem to harm society to much greater degrees? Why is homosexuality offensive to Christians in a way that exploitation is not? 


Carter _________________


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 8:23 AM
To: Carter _____________
Subject: RE: Regarding the Biblical importance of homosexuality as an issue for contemporary Christians

Hi Carter, 

Thanks for the civil, polite, and thoughtful manner in which you expressed yourself. 

I think Panda Bears are really cute. But why should they get such massive attention relative to other species? One of the reasons, in addition to their cuteness, is that they are high on the most endangered species list. 

That's what is happening now on the issue of a male-female prerequisite for valid sexual relationships. There is a full-court press by groups to promote homosexual behavior and isolate as "bigots" any who disagree. If the same were happening over adult-committed incest, polygamy, or adultery I would have the same response. 

As for how important the issue of homosexual practice is, see my article at . See also: . 

I don't know anyone in high positions in the church who condones exploitation of the poor or any of the other things that you mention. But I know of no other Christian belief that I have that is as much of a danger to my civil liberties as my belief that homosexual practice is sinful. See the opening paragraphs of my article here: 

I hope this helps. 


Dr. Gagnon


From: Carter _________________
Sent: Saturday, March 05, 2011 3:50 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: Regarding the Biblical importance of homosexuality as an issue for contemporary Christians

Dear Dr. Gagnon,


Thank you for your response and the links, which were quite helpful.  

On the issue of the Biblical perspective on the sinfulness of homosexual practice, I find the arguments in your article compelling. I don’t know why some people find this threatening. Many ancient cultures, particularly in the Middle East, found homosexuality to be abhorrent; that the ancient Hebrews did so, and reflected this in their moral teachings, should not come as any surprise.

With regards to your second article (“Why Homosexual Behavior Is More like Consensual Incest and Polyamory than Race or Gender”), I found this interesting, although I must admit that I believe that some of your premises are flawed. This is not really the issue I wish to pursue here, but because I did not find it addressed in your “Responses to Counterarguments” section, it may be helpful to at least sketch it:

A central premise of your paper is that “[r]ace and gender are 100% heritable, absolutely immutable, and primarily non-behavioral conditions of life”. I think a lot of people, particularly in psychology and the social sciences, would take issue with that claim. Race in particular is problematic, as the social concept of race does not neatly refer to discete phenotypic traits in human genetics, but refers more centrally to appearance and ethnicity, both of which are fuzzy indicators that are in some sense mutable, depending on the case (e.g., “passing”, plastic surgery, etc.), having quite a lot more to do with upbringing, culture, identity, and perception than anything lurking in the human genome. The same case can (and is frequently) made for gender -- that is, that gender is as much a psychological and social role as it is a configuration of organs and hormones, which themselves have become somewhat mutable given modern medicine. I’m not at all well-versed in the literature of this field, and I’m not really certain how I’d regard their claims myself, but likely any scholarly treatment of the subject will find itself obligated to address the point.

The more interesting issue, I think, is the belief that federal protection for homosexuals represents a threat to the institution of marriage and civil liberty. I’ve read your article here (“Obama’s Coming War...”), and the first thing that strikes me about your list of persecutory actions is that many of them are a negative consequence (for a certain group) of some other right granted to gays and lesbians. For example, terminating a hiring manager for discriminating against homosexual job applicants is simultaneously an act which infringes upon the rights of the manager (to discriminate), while  protecting the rights of homosexuals (to not be discriminated against). Of course, this is rather different than the cases you cite in your article regarding workplace discrimination -- which (with the exception of the last) seem, to me, more about the fickle, over-sensitive, and above all litigation/controversy-averse climate which seems to prevail in much of academia, which I agree is unfair. The last case (Irmo High) is the only one I would defend. The principal was obligated to follow the law -- a law which, I will add, applies to all student groups meeting for lawful reasons and interests. He chose to resign rather than follow that law (which is his right). Anyway, I don’t think there’s anything particularly scary about that last case.

Now, some of what you point to here I think refers to legitimate First Amendment issues. The recent Westboro ruling in the Supreme Court, however, should be an indicator that the United States’ view of free speech is much stronger than what is found in Europe, the UK, and even Canada. It is also telling that it was an 8-1 decision, and the one dissent came from a conservative judge. This means that the “liberal”/”activist” members of the Court, including Obama’s appointee, unanimously confirmed to protect the right of anti-gay activists to protest at military funerals (a particularly mean-spirited and unsympathetic form of presenting the issue, to say the least). Of course, this doesn’t mean that Christians (as well as everyone else) won’t have to remain vigilant in protecting our First Amendment rights, only that I don’t think there is much reason to think that one’s ability to rail against sinners (or anything else) in public will ever be that limited.

I suppose what this comes down to is what one considers to be a “civil liberty”. We might understand the term in both a legal and moral sense. Legal civil liberties refer to the ones we have under the current law. Moral civil liberties refer to the rights we think we ought to have under the law. Personally, I think we should have a much greater degree of control over where our tax money goes, which is one of the issues you bring up in your article. As it stands, I am forced to subsidize unjust foreign wars, an unjust prison system, and yes, were I to be consistent with your interpretation of federal grants and tax exemptions, I’m paying for a government which subsidizes religious institutions. As far as I’m concerned, I should be permitted to withhold my portion of that funding from morally objectionable projects, and so should you -- even if we both disagree about what that means. Unfortunately, under the system we have, we are both forced to pay for things which offend the conscience. I’ll note the same is true for education. Your children may be forced to learn that homosexuality is “natural”. My children may be forced to learn that creationism is “science”. So long as public education is a one-size-fits-all affair, we’ll both have to hold our noses. For better or worse, that’s how a federalist system works.

Another issue here is whether or not we can prohibit equal protection, or the recognition of any other right, because of other reasons which may or may not be legitimately negative (e.g., a suppression of First Amendment rights). I don’t think this is really the argument you’re making, but I’m not entirely sure; so to be clear, I don’t think we can. That is to say: we can’t decline to provide equal legal protection to homosexuals because, elsewhere in the legal system, the First Amendment is being abused in their name, or because academia elects to be oversensitive to these issues, or because the President’s support of pro-gay groups. Equal protection has to be provided on the merits of justice; by the same token, it should only be declined for reasons of justice, not because we fear that it might cause abuses elsewhere.

Personally, when it comes to what we fear, I’m much more anxious about public policy being guided by Scripture than I am about allowing homosexuals the right to marry. I certainly don’t feel that my marriage is threatened by it. If anything, I’m sad that the committed homosexual couples I do know are unable to do the same thing, and that my own secular marriage has been, in some sense, hijacked by religious overtones that I don’t want anything to do with. By restricting the legal right to marry for religious reasons, secular marriages have by default become religious, and as the citizen of a supposedly secular state, I feel like I should have the right to a secular marriage. If people wish to continue to get married in churches, they should do so. They are, after all, not prohibited from adding whatever additional meaning they wish to the union, including taking pride in the fact that, at least for that domination or congregation, a similar service would be denied a homosexual couple. I can’t imagine taking pride in that myself, but I’m comfortable defending that right if someone else does. I just don’t see why those rights have to be denied to others on a public, federal level in order for marriage to be more meaningful. After all, it seems unlikely to me that Christians really find the legal act of marriage to be the meaningful part. I should think that a devout Christian ought not to be concerned with his pact with the state. He should be concerned, I would think, with his pact with God and, secondarily, to his wife, with a legal union being more of an institutionalized formality taken for prudential reasons.

            Anyway, that was a bit longer than I intended; I’m sure you’re quite busy, but as always, I’d be quite interested in hearing your views on these different matters. 


Carter _________________


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2011 3:34 PM
To: 'Carter __________________
Subject: RE: Regarding the Biblical importance of homosexuality as an issue for contemporary Christians

Dear Carter, 

Thank you again for another thoughtful and civil response. Let me see if I can take your observations point by point. 

  1. You point is well taken that the concept of “race” as it has developed over the centuries certainly merges plastic cultural forces. But I don’t think the observation affects my overall point. A person of black African ancestry or of oriental Chinese or Japanese ancestry or of Native American or Siberian ancestry or of white European ancestry will certainly pass on immutable markers of their race that are primarily non-behavioral. And even if cultural constructions of what constitutes a person of French(-Canadian) ancestry may be rather fuzzy, whatever we want to call my “racial” inheritance (the configuration of markers of ancestry) will certainly be passed on to my children and will be immutable (plastic surgery would be at best only a superficial change). My wife is a mixture of mostly African, partly Chinese, and only a smattering of white European. Our children are a combination of the “racial” inheritance of their parents: part white European, part black African, and part Oriental. It was impossible for them to be born without this combination. There is no way we could have produced (no would we have wanted to produce!) children without these racial inheritances. They are a part of our children’s lives that are 100% heritable, absolutely immutable, and primarily non-behavioral. Something similar can be said for sex or gender. Yes, “gender” is generally treated now as the social constructs placed on sex and there is a very tiny percentage of the population known as the “intersexed” (for a discussion of the relevance of these at But the fact that remains that a particular combination of chromosomes contributed by parents will result in a given sex. Surgery for “transsexuals” doesn’t change the configuration of chromosomes in the individual so that even surgically redoing the “plumbing” doesn’t really change the person’s sex. Being a chromosomal woman or man is not analogous to acting out a desire for sexual intercourse with another who is a non-complementary same in terms of sex (male for male, female for female). It is not a structurally discordant act nor even a desire to engage in structurally discordant acts. A polyamorous orientation, however, or even a sexual desire for a close kin, is a much closer analogue than a person’s sex or gender.

  2. My point in the Obama article to which I referred you is that persons who find homosexual practice to be immoral should not support so-called “gay rights” because to do so will put themselves in legal jeopardy at various points. Since you regard marriage of persons of the same sex as a “right” and appear in general to support homosexual activity these infringements of the rights of those who believe homosexual practice to be immoral will be of no concern to you. My argument is not designed to persuade persons with your viewpoint, except that you asked why Christians should be concerned about the advance of “gay rights” and I gave you multiple examples why. The case that you dismiss as “not … particularly scary” of the principal who choose to resign rather than promote GLBT clubs still makes my point. Yes, he is “obligated to follow the law” but my point is that there shouldn’t have been a law in the first place that would force principals to allow such clubs for immorality on high school campuses (any more than a principal should be forced to allow high school clubs centered around polyamory or incest, were there to be laws promoting such behavior). So my point to Christians is: Don’t support the agendas of politicians who want to promote such laws.

  3. The Westboro ruling was a helpful correct ruling guarding free speech rights. But two caveats from my perspective: First, there is certainly no guarantee that such a ruling (even though 8-1) will not be changed by a future Supreme Court. After all, sodomy laws were nearly universally upheld until the past few decades and by wide margins. But in 2003 the Supreme Court reversed a ruling that it made 17 years earlier in Lawrence v. Texas. Remember that the plaintiff against the Phelps family originally won but lost at the Appeals Court level and finally at the Supreme Court level. There are certainly legal experts in the country today who think the Supreme Court got it wrong (even among more conservative persons, Alito being just the first example). So to say that a different Supreme Court 15 years from now couldn’t arrive at a different verdict is obviously erroneous, particularly given the fact that “gay rights” will increasingly trump other civil liberties. Second, the Westboro case does not prevent other infringement of civil liberties that are already going on, from forced indoctrination of children in the public schools to forcing the providing of goods and services that promote homosexual acts to terminating the employment of people in both academia and the white collar world who express verbally their belief that homosexual practice is immoral.

  4. While it is true that we all find ourselves compelled to pay for things that we find offensive I don’t think you made a comparable case for the things that offend you. You can disagree with the US prosecution of wars or an unjust prison system or the teaching that creationism is science (which is taught almost nowhere nowadays) but your tax paying dollars don’t promote the view that you are the equivalent of a racist for holding the views that you do. They don’t put your employment in jeopardy.

  5. Your question about whether equal protection under the law can be prohibited begs the question of what constitutes equal protection under the law. I believe that I have shown (at least to my satisfaction but apparently not to yours!) that “equal protection” no more establishes “gay marriage” than it does marriage between 3 or more persons concurrently or marriage between close kin. Nor does equal protection require the support of what society regards as immoral, a point that one can make with many examples. No school can (concurrently at least) compel the official recognition of a “polyamory awareness group.” Nor can proponents of incest force a printer to print posters for a group that promotes incest. Probably too most companies could fire workers (or at least not promote to execute positions) workers known to engage actively in prostitution, polygamy, or adult-consensual incest. You may say: But that is because these sexual behaviors may violate the law. My point exactly. This is a battle over what gets protected in the law as a “civil liberty.”

  6. Obviously you and I disagree over what we fear as regards developments in law. You also misconstrue my case as solely religious. As I noted to you, when I present an argument as to why the state shouldn’t promote homosexual practice I restrict myself to arguments from philosophic reason and science. So it’s not about foisting “religious” views, any more than restricting marriage to two persons concurrently or rejecting incestuous bonds is about foisting religion. Supporting homosexual practice supports behavior that dishonors the participants, increases the behavior in question (and, I believe, even the incidence of homosexuality itself) and thus the disproportionately high rates of measurable harm that attend such behavior, and relegates opponents of such behavior to the status of bigots, with all the attenuation of civil liberties that then follow. So your point about not feeling your marriage to be threatened wouldn’t be a point that I share. By your own reasoning you could and should say the same about polygamous bonds: Why not grant marriage licenses to 3+ unions? “I certainly don’t feel that my marriage is threatened by it.”

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. 


Dr. Gagnon



From: Emily _________________
Sent: Fri 3/4/2011 1:58 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Greetings

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

  I hope you are well. I was viscerally disturbed by some of your rhetoric in your recent artilce on CNN, "The bible really does condemn homosexuality". I read this article yesterday and, although you may never read this or truly hear my message, I feel compelled to share my thoughts with you. In an attempt to demonstrate that man-woman sexual intercourse is the only natural and God-given arrangement, you unabashadly characterize women as subhuman entities: 

"It’s true that Genesis presents the first human (Hebrew adam, from adamah, ground: “earthling”) as originally sexually undifferentiated. But what Knust misses is that once something is “taken from” the human to form a woman, the human, now differentiated as a man, finds his sexual other half in that missing element, a woman."  

  You give men sole claim to humanness and define women as missing sexual "elements". This is hate speech. Rarely do I see someone make such a clear claim that women are not truly humans, but "things/elements" whose purpose is to satisfy true human's (men's) sexual needs. This attitude has, unfortunately, been co-opted by secular society and fuels pornography, rape, the sexualization of young girls, the prizing of appearance over character, etc. As a theologian and scholar of a loving religion, you can do better. 


Emily _________________


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 2:15 PM
To: Emily ________________
Subject: RE: Greetings


Hate speech? Really, with all due respect, that's a ridiculous assertion on your part. Did you catch my point: two other halves? What does "other half" connote to you? To me it connotes equality. If a man is human and a woman is his sexual "other half" how could she be subhuman? 

I phrased things the way I did because that is exactly how Genesis 2 phrases it as the whole context for my remark makes clear ("It is true that Genesis presents..."). 

My point was not that women are "things/elements whose purpose is to satisfy true human's (men's) sexual needs." My point, as I made clear in the context, was that a woman is a man's sexual counterpart or complement. Obviously, then, the reverse can be said: a man is a woman's other half, the missing sexual "element" so far as gender or sex is concerned. Or have I just made men subhuman? Neither a woman or a man has to be in a sexual relationship. But if a person it is, it must be with a true sexual complement, with someone who is the one sex or gender that one is not. 

Please don't be so quick to jump to the worst possible conclusions. Charging someone with "hate speech" is a strong charge. If you knew my work you would see that I promote an egalitarian vision of women's worth and roles. 

Dr. Gagnon


From: Emily _________________
Sent: Tuesday, March 08, 2011 1:18 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Greetings

Dear Dr. Gagnon,

   I am genuinely grateful that you chose to respond. You were easily able to pinpoint the weakness in my argument (the hate speech characterization) and I apologize for the ad hominem attack. Admittedly, I wrote that email for me and others who share my worldview. I can easily find a perspective in which labeling your words as “hate speech” is, well, “ridiculous”.

  The point of your piece was to demonstrate how God intended sexual relationships. Therefore, you were bound by the original language of the Bible. My grievance is that these original writings appear to have produced a religion that conceives of women as the second sex (to borrow de Beauvoir’s language). Despite the fact that the language could have been reversed in the quotation I submitted, the word choice was purposeful and has ontological implications. In your text, it appears that men seamlessly transitioned from sexually undifferentiated humans to humans, whereas women are a special kind, created to complement this prototypical human (Adam?). In other writings, you make your position clear that women embody qualities of God absent in men and that humans, as a group, more closely reflect God's nature than men or man.

   I do not doubt that a careful reading of the scripture for culturally relevant meaning naturally results in an egalitarian philosophy. My point is that literalism and androcentrism can result in restricted roles for women and a narrow understanding of the feminine—as evidenced by the litany of concerns I addressed in my last message. Analogously, my literal reading of your work obscured a more holistic and “true” view of you, the person.

Thank you, sincerely, for your time,



From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2011 9:55 AM
To: Emily ___________________
Subject: RE: Greetings 

Thank you for your response, Emily, which I read with interest. 

Dr. Gagnon



Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., is associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics and (with Dan Via) Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views.



  © 2011 Robert A. J. Gagnon