Looking Back on Pride Month—Imago Gei

Editor’s note: Throughout Pride Month, the Imago Gei podcast has addressed different topics about the LGBTQ+ experience—especially in the Adventist context. Now, as the month of June has come to a close, below are all the Pride Month episodes, including an interview with Floyd Poenitz, president of SDA Kinship International.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11872

Thanks, @bness.

"Rooted" is not a scientific word. It is a metaphor. Nor is it a term of art in the practice of genetics.

I’m not a geneticist, but I’m reasonably adept at using the English language, and, additionally, can confidently follow a logical chain.

That same-sex attraction has a genetic basis may be a hypothesis, in certain circles. The assertion it has a genetic basis, however, will require a gene.

Clearly, the tide is turning, as it pertains to the equanimity of your responses, @bness. This is unfortunate.

I have no interest in your merriment, but I also have no interest in offending or demeaning you.

Snark is not a counter-argument. Since we appear to be on opposing sides of this topic, why not merely falsify my statement?

Actually, that’s not all you can say: You can, if you have one and are willing, run a refutation up the flagpole, and see if it flies.

Further, I’ve always thought “Do a little more detailed Bible study” to be the passive-aggressive, famous last words of people who’ve run out of effective things to say.

You’re not credible on my “study,” because “study” is cognitive — mental — and thus not subject to 2nd party verification. I could have a Ph.D. in this subject, and be just waiting to uncoil it when you name a specific Bible verse.

Is that a direct command? I may read Unclobber, but I’m not likely to do so and “get back” to you, for the reasons, below.

We agree. Nor is it equal to reading the book.

However, because of the meticulous way Sean McDowell approached the conversation, it was an excellent explicator of Colby Martin’s views, and the level, or quality, of his arguments.

I found both woefully lacking. I didn’t come away from watching the conversation thinking, “This is a guy whose ideas I want to hear more about!” I thought exactly what he said: This is a guy who “drives people nuts…because [he] really [doesn’t] answer questions as directly as people” want.

I’m guessing, if nothing else, even you may detect I’m a person who seeks direct answers, if only because I tend to give them.

• “Impervious” is another word about cognition. You’re not credible on my cognition.

I’d love a really strong, biblical, pro-same-sex attraction, pro-same-sex “marriage” argument. I’d welcome it, because it would give me something to think about, and something with which to wrestle.

When Alicia Johnston came out with her book, I was hoping it would be devastating, because I really wanted to see what the best arguments against the biblical position would be.

However, after she laid it out, on the edition of Advent Next which helped get Kendra Arsenault fired, what I most recalled were a) my dissatisfaction with the quality of her argument, and b) a brief microexpression she made, at the end of her outline, which, to me, registered as a flash of an internal call for help; almost as though she was silently saying, “Please believe me.”

• Despite this, I may still buy Johnston’s book. I may do so, just so I have, and can consider, what is purportedly the best argument for same-sex parity in the SDA church.

I don’t know, @bness: It sounds like you’re asking me about this specific issue because I’m classified as “Black.”

Are you? (morrcahn raised this subject, as well, during one of our delightful exchanges on same-sex politics.) Maybe this is a same-sex talking point?

Actually – and this demonstrates the value of not guessing at another’s thinking — I’ve never gotten the opinion the Bible supports slavery. I think a fair amount of what it discusses is what we would today call indentured servitude, though not necessarily always, and not necessarily absent of local and/or ancient flourishes that repulse modern sensibilities.

Chattel slavery — the half-millennium-long process Europeans developed and began rudely applying in the 14th century, and which created the modern world — was a novel social development which does not appear in the Bible.

Both are called slavery, but they are, in fact, differing in their degrees of enslavement.

Chattel slavery is a crime against humanity. It’s been deemed so, and I would no more wish a crime against humanity than I would a global famine, meteor strike, or nuclear war.

Indentured servitude, on the other hand — the act of lending one’s self as a laborer — seems workable within just terms, and, unless I’m wildly ignorant on the nature of indentured servitude — and I may be — just terms seem feasible within such an arrangement.

However, going back to your original point, while I’ve never felt the Bible “justified” slavery, I’ve always thought the Bible condemns sexual relationships between people of the same sex.

In a way, I don’t have any more dog in this fight than that. It’s a technical matter, to me, in other words, and neither I, nor the church are the final arbiter on this.

I did ponder it: I said it reads as though you don’t think the things we are discussing are sins.

Why be so supercilious? This is a forum for conversation; it’s right there in the tagline.

If you don’t want to converse, especially if you don’t want to converse with people who respectfully disagree with you, why post in Spectrum?


What’s so odd about this response is that you didn’t name anything.

We’re talking about the central moral and philosophical document for a third of the human species, and a revered text for billions more; one that often trades in minutiae — e.g., discussions of thoughts and feelings, deeming certain kinds contraband and against its tenets — one that embodies a wide-ranging, all-involving code of behavior, that is both far-reaching and culture-transversing.

Yet, despite the preoccupation of human beings with sexual activity — one currently exploding in unexpected, new ways within Western societies — even despite the fact, in the biblical narrative, sex is the very first thing God addresses with human beings, your take is this: Determining what the Bible deems sexually sinful is, at best, “complicated,” not “cut-and-dried,” and the kind of thing which requires a lot of time to uncover.

I mean, to my question, you could have tossed off “adultery.” It’s right there in the commandments, with its own slot, even.

However, were you to do that, this would, based on the way the Bible is structured, lead to critiques of other behaviors.


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Thanks, @David1.

To your second point, I agree.

By my response, I am saying, in so many words, “I have done this, and, having done so, my conclusion is the Bible forbids homosexual acts.”

However, as I also stated, what I generously allow is I may have failed in my review, and my conclusion may be incorrect.

So, then, I said, given such a failure, there are only two options left:

• The Bible approves of homosexual acts.


• The Bible does not address homosexual acts.

I then asked you, which, of these two, would you say is true, since you have certainly read the Bible in the way you heartily suggest?

You replied, dismissively:

To this, your first point:

a) Non sequitur is a noun, not an adjective. Perhaps you meant to say, “The reply you make is a non sequitur.”

b) It would be a work of some capability to write a six-paragraph non sequitur. It almost seems as though you are using the term, but are unaware of its actual meaning.

Where, in my response, is the non sequitur located, what does it not follow, and how does it not follow?


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You haven’t proven this, Bryan, or offered any evidence for it. You’ve merely asserted it.

If you’re saying this prohibition remains clearer than, perhaps, any other because its traditional interpretation has meshed so very well with people’s repugnance for same-sex sexual relations, you may very well be correct.

But you haven’t shown it is only for this reason, which is what you assert.

It may be the edict was so clear, it then formed, what you call, a “mesh…with people’s repugnance for same-sex sexual relations”; i.e., it may have created it.

But, as well, the edict may be clear for other reasons which have not entered this exchange.

For example, the biblical prohibition may be true, and people may recognize this innately, whether they are repulsed by same-sex activities or attracted to them.

Not every person who believes the Bible is clear on this matter hates gay sex. Some people who feel this way love it.

This is absolutely true, and its converse may be even more true: Just because something has recently been interpreted a certain way does not make this recent interpretation the correct interpretation.

Again, you’re not reasoning through this matter.

Tradition may do so. But it does not necessarily do so. There are other alternatives.

I responded to David1 on this contention: I said I feel I’ve done what you both suggest. But I may have been mistaken: My conclusion — “The Bible forbids homosexual acts” — may be incorrect.

I then noted only one of two remaining alternatives can possibly describe the Bible, accurately:

• The Bible approves of homosexual acts.

• The Bible does not address homosexual acts.

I then asked David1 which he deems an accurate description of the Bible’s content.

He said my statement was a non sequitur…which I found to be a non sequitur. (I’ve asked him to clarify his response.)

How would you answer the same question, Bryan, given you cite @David1’s approach as paradigmatic and exemplary?

I’m actually saying something a bit more subtle: I’m saying the language the Bible uses to describe heterosexual relations cannot be imported, wholesale, over to homosexual relations, because the Bible does not approve of homosexual relations.

This is somewhat analogous to what I said last June about the neologism, “same-sex marriage”:

Or, using a legal analogy, discussing a biblically “committed, monogamous relationship” in the context of homosexuality is like calling the police, and asking them to help you recover your stolen brick of cocaine.

I suspect you’re going to hate the fact what prohibits this is called the clean hands doctrine. In so many words, it roughly means you cannot ask the court to help you break the law, or benefit from doing so.

My point being: If the Bible prohibits homosexual relations, one can’t say, “Well, it’s OK as long as they’re monogamous and committed.”

To do so is to discard the biblical prohibition, under the illusion doing so is improving it. There may be no terser definition of sin.


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Thank you for illustrating both my own points as well as others so verbosely.

Well, yes and no.

It’s true that, generally, when New Testament actors spoke of “the Scriptures,” they were talking about what we now call the Old Testament.

However, what’s clear is the period after Christ’s ascension was one of tremendous restlessness and vibrancy. Not only were the Apostles drafting biographies of Christ, and methodically documenting early church history, but Paul was organizing and explaining the meaning, the theology, of what believers had just witnessed in the person of Jesus Christ, doing so with scholarly aplomb and insight.

This led Peter, in his second general letter, to say this of Paul’s written work:

He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. — 2 Peter 3:16 (NIV)

Peter refers to Paul’s writing as scriptures a qualification that has lasted until the present time.

This tells us many things about Paul, and that era. However, one thing it definitively tells us is how, in this formative period, Paul’s writings, ideas, and authority were seen.

So, back to 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. I say there are a couple of ways to look at these verses:

• They are only talking about the OT…even though they are part of the NT, but because they are, we should disregard them, since the NT was not yet scripture, even though this would cause us to also disregard what they say about the OT.

• They are perhaps talking immediately about the OT…but the subject is scripture, meaning future texts which would be so deemed — as Paul’s were starting to — would also embody these qualities: They would be “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

In other words, to take your “No” position would mean Christians, against their common sense, their lived experience, and, even more, against the testimony of the indwelling Holy Spirit, should disregard the New Testament as authoritative in these ways — including the words and example of Christ — because, when these words were written, there wasn’t yet a “New Testament scripture.”

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is probably not a strong enough idiom to describe such an absurd idea. Neither is Just flushing the Ukrainian ones.


Well, that’s fine, @timteichman. Also, thank you for the links.

So, another question:

Which of these three statements do you think describes the Bible’s content, and why?:

• The Bible disapproves of homosexual acts.

• The Bible approves of homosexual acts.

• The Bible does not address homosexual acts.


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Thank you for doing the same, in kind.


this may be a bit simplistic…it’s not like everything about us is the result of a single gene…orientation appears to be the result of hundreds of thousands of genes, each contributing a tiny amount:

Science | AAAS.

at this point, and according to the above article, gene factors associated with same-sex behavior account for between 8% and 25% of that behavior, the rest being explained through environmental influences ranging from pre-natal hormone exposure to social influences later in life…but obviously as more is discovered, the percentage of gene factor linkage to same-sex behavior can be expected to increase, not decrease…

keep in mind that genetics is a vast, complicated and ever-expanding field…we know that genetic expression doesn’t only depend on the presence of a gene, or even a cluster of genes…regulation of gene expression at the DNA transcription level itself is, at best, complicated: in addition to structural genes coding for specific proteins, there are not only promoter genes that bind RNA polymerase that facilitates this structural gene coding, but operator genes that bind repressor molecules that block RNA polymerase, with these repressor molecules themselves requiring regulating genes for synthesis, as well…each of these factors are affected by many different, sometimes competing, processes…

there is also the growing field of epigenetics, where we can see that genes don’t have to be physically altered in order to affect their expression…for instance we know that methylation, typically greater in younger persons, tends to inhibit gene expression, whereas demethylation, typically greater in older persons, tends to accelerate gene expression…there is also the concept of histone binding by DNA strands that can affect whether enzymes and other proteins needed for transcription can even attach to these DNA strands, not to mention non-coding RNA production that can inhibit coding RNA needed for transcription to mRNA, and transport to ribosomes in cellular cytoplasm…

of particular interest is so-called social genomics, the branch of epigenetics that has correlated gene expression and repression to emotional factors like loneliness, and the dread of the loss of a loved one experiencing serious illness…even the pressure of low socioeconomic status has been identified as a gene expression stressor…of course this is all in addition to the known role that environment factors like nutrition, pollution and physical activity can play…

the biological, genetic contribution to sexual orientation is really beyond dispute…you cannot hold the concept hostage to the likelihood of the discovery of a single gene responsible for its expression…while we don’t have all the answers, we already know that it’s vastly more complicated than this…


Thanks, @vandieman.

I may not have been clear: My petition is not for “a single gene,” nor have I said this. Instead, I am saying that there will need to be at least one.

Nothing in the essay you’ve linked affirms a genetic basis for homosexuality, aka same-sex attraction. The researchers in it are all, appropriately, talking in the tentative language of scientists. They are hypothesizing about how affirming a genetic basis for homosexuality may, ultimately, proceed along multiple vectors, resulting in discoveries which may, or may not, establish a rudiment for the behavior.

This all seems credible to me. I am not against the idea that a genetic basis for homosexuality may ultimately be produced. Whether one exists or not is not actually my concern. The issue, to me, in these fora, is primarily one of fact-checking.

As I’ve said, I’m not a geneticist, or any kind of scientist. However, I am familiar with the scientific method, at least as a constraint on certain kinds of pronouncements. If I do have any expertise, it’s mostly that I know a) how to ask questions, b) when my questions have been answered or not, and c) how to convey the same.

In fact, if you’ve noticed, the majority of my debates in this area, here, on Spectrum, have to do with the question of homosexual practice in light of biblical standards and SDA conventions. These precede any ultimate confirmation of homosexuality’s genetic basis, should the same eventually occur, and, if so, I suspect they will not be modified by it.


i disagree…researchers are saying the 5 genetic markers identified are showing a correlation with same-sex behaviour…they’re not saying these 5 genetic markers are not showing that correlation, or showing no correlation…the “tentative language” you’re referencing is standard scientific speak…it doesn’t indicate the kind of uncertainty normally associated with that language outside of a scientific study…

here’s a discussion on peer-reviewed scientific evidence for a genetic component to orientation from a theological and ethical standpoint:

here’s a report of a twin study that’s quite interesting:


here’s a report of a study on gay brothers, which is also interesting:

i don’t think one can look at these kinds of studies and conclude there’s no genetic component to orientation…whether a confirmed biological basis lifts LGBT out of moral considerations is a separate question, but i don’t think that confirmed biological basis can be credibly questioned now…

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