No Takei Gene (Sorry George)

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Two distinguished scholars at Johns Hopkins University have released a lengthy, three-part report concluding that there’s not sufficient evidence to prove homosexuals and transgenders are born in that condition – in other words, there is no “gay gene.”

“The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings – the idea that people are ‘born that way’ – is not supported by scientific evidence,” states the executive summary.

“The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex – that a person might be ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ – is not supported by scientific evidence,” it adds. (One News Now)

The report in its entirety can be downloaded here:  “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences”.  I recommend doing so before the shrieking left manage to convince The New Atlantis to suppress it. Here are just a couple of passages to consider:

Compared to heterosexuals, non-heterosexuals are about two to three times as likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse. . . In a 2001 study, psychologist Marie E. Tomeo and colleagues noted that the previous literature had consistently found increased rates of reported childhood molestation in the homosexual population, with somewhere between 10% and 46% reporting that they had experienced childhood sexual abuse.112 The authors found that 46% of homosexual men and 22% of homosexual women reported that they had been molested by a person of the same gender, as compared with 7% of heterosexual men and 1% of heterosexual women. Moreover, 68% of homosexual men and 38% of homosexual women interviewed did not identify as homosexual until after the abuse. (pp. 7, 43)

The authors also note that sexuality is not fixed at birth:

“There is now considerable scientific evidence that sexual desires, attractions, behaviors, and even identities can, and sometimes do, change over time” (p. 50).

So what does this leave us?

First, I’m not a fan of real homophobia in the Ekklesia, that “Ew, gross!” feeling that leads many to treat homosexuality as the ultimate sin. (Hey, it’s the one that most believers have never had to deal with, so it must be really bad, right?) As the above quotes show, many gays and lesbians are acting in reaction to being victimized. Heck, have a few drinks with a gay man, and more likely than not you’ll hear a whole history of abuse, culminating in being kicked out of their family when they came out of the closet. The victims surely deserve our grace and love!

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God meant this as a symbol of both his judgment of sin and his grace to humankind. I look forward to the day when it has that meaning again.

Even those who were never sexually abused deserve and need our love. Can a person be brought to the Messiah if not through love? “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us” (Rom. 5:8).”

Of course, the Left wants to pervert the idea of “love” into one of telling everyone that their sins are wonderful and should be celebrated. Real love speaks the truth–in a loving way (Eph. 4:5). By the same token, we need to remember that as a rule, gays and lesbians are outside of God’s camp–and it is not our job to attack, punish, or drive away those outside the camp (1Co. 5:9-13).

Israel was not able to keep God’s commandments until after he had freed us from slavery. Neither can we expect someone whose whole identity for decades has been enslaved to homosexuality to turn away from their sin before Yeshua personally takes them out of the world.

So download the report, read it, understand it, and share it. But remember that the Gospel is not “give up your sin, and then you can be saved” (I’m pretty sure that’s called legalism), but rather, “Come to Yeshua, be cleansed in his blood, receive his Spirit, and he will transform your life from the inside out.”

Shalom.

Guarding the Name

One reader of this blog, Andy Doerksin, asked a question in the “About the Author” page that I thought deserved it’s own post:

Hmm, why do you say “G-d” and “L-RD” when Yahweh has clearly invited us to call Him by name? Why do you cut off intimacy with Him when that’s specifically what He’s called us to?

There are actually two elements to this question that I need to handle separately.

The practice of deliberately misspelling references to God comes from an interpretation of Deuteronomy 12:2-4 (here in the ESV):

You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place.

You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way.

The last verse, rendered literally, is, “You shall not do like to the LORD your God.” Since the preceding passage is focused on the destruction of the names of the pagan gods from the land of Israel, the rabbis understand this to mean that one should not do anything to cause the Name of God to be destroyed. Therefore, the practice developed of using deliberate substitutions for writing not only the Tetragrammaton, but the other Hebrew names of God as well. For example, if you look at the blessing on the back of a talit, you will find it reads ד’ אלקינו, the dalet and apostrophe (‘ד) indicating the number 4 for the Tetragrammaton (lit. the “four letter name”) and eloqeinu instead of the proper spelling of Eloheinu (“our God”). This is so that if the talit were marred or destroyed, the Name would not be.

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It is common in Orthodox Judaism, though far from universal and not actually required by Jewish law, to extend the practice to writing the English equivalents by leaving out the vowels, e.g., “G-d” and “L-rd.” This became the practice of my former synagogue in order to avoid the possibility of an unnecessary offence to anyone in the broader Jewish community, and I adopted it in my own writings. I’ve since come to the conclusion that this is going too far and leads to more confusion, so I’ve stopped. I’ve not, however, attempted to go back and edit all of my old posts.

RL-Allan-WM-010The second part of the question is whether it is appropriate to speak aloud or write down in a non-Hebrew alphabet the Tetragrammaton, God’s Holiest Name. Very obviously, I do not think that it is, and my reasoning is very simple and has nothing to do with the rulings of the rabbis:

I cannot find a single instance of anyone speaking or writing God’s Holiest Name in the New Testament. Not one.

Think about it for a moment: One of the problems we face in speaking or writing the Divine Name is that we don’t actually know for certain how it was pronounced. Based on the Hebrew letters, it may have two syllables, but it could also have three. The vav could be a “v” or a “w” sound. We have no idea what the vowel sounds were.

Every single one of those problems would be resolved if any of the apostles had seen fit to write down the Divine Name in Greek letters. None of them did. What does that tell you about their practice when it came to writing down the Name?

Furthermore, we have no actual evidence that Yeshua himself actually pronounced the name! Oh, some will claim that he used it whenever he said, “I am,” but that makes no sense if you actually know Hebrew. The Name comes from a third-person verb and either means either, “He Is,” i.e., “The Self-Existent One,” or “He Causes to Be.” I’ve seen Jewish translations that render it, “The Eternal One.” I would use “The Eternal Creator” to give both meanings of the Name, but you get the point:

“Who are you looking for?”

“Yeshua of Nazareth.”

“He exists!”

That wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense of the conversation, would it.

“Ah, but Michael, Yeshua used the first person form, ehyeh, that God used in the burning bush.”

That’s possible, but unlikely. Ehyeh is indeed first-person, but it’s in the imperfect form of the word. In Hebrew, the imperfect tense usually indicates the future tense, though sometimes it can refer to past completed action. (It is also used as a narrative device, but that obviously doesn’t apply in normal conversation.) It would end up sounding like this:

“Who are you looking for?”

“Yeshua of Nazareth.”

“I will be!” (Or, “I once was!”)

The Greek phrase translated “I am he” is ego eimi, and is the usual way of referring to one’s self: “And they were sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, ‘Is it I (ego eimi), Lord?'” (Mat. 26:22). I’m pretty sure that none of them was asking, “Am I Hashem?”

The correct way to render ego eimi into Hebrew is ani hu or anokhi hu, both of which mean, simply, “I am he.”

jesus-and-disciplesNow, if I can’t find where Yeshua himself, the Unique Son of God and the Word of God made flesh, pronounced the Tetragrammaton openly, I’m sure as heck not going to!

And indeed, the evidence is that using the usual circumlocutions like “Lord” (Gr. kurios) was the nominal practice of the Ekklesia from the very beginning. Paul even notes that when he wanted to put the Nazarines to death, he “tried to make them blaspheme” (Acts 26:10-11). The only blasphemy that Jewish law nominally recognized as worthy of the death penalty was one in which one actually pronounced the Divine Name (Mishneh Sanhedrin 7:5). If the earliest disciples of the Messiah suddenly felt that they were free to use the Divine Name in common practice, they would have had to explain and defend that position. The fact that we have no record of them doing so tells us that they followed Jewish norms in this case.

(Funnily enough, even in the Dead Sea Scrolls you see a reluctance to update the spelling of the Divine Name from the old Phoenician script to the Aramaic script that Hebrew commonly uses today.)

“But Michael, don’t you realize that by not using the Name, you’re effectively destroying it? After all, Deuteronomy 32:3 tells us to ‘publish the name of the Lord!'”

While I’ve done my own study and have the way I suspect that the Tetragrammaton was pronounced, there’s no consensus on this among scholars. Even if the point of the command is to make known the correct syllables, I don’t have the ability to do so for certain. Neither do you. Supposedly the correct pronunciation is a secret passed down from rabbi to student, but even if that’s true, I can guarantee that no one in the Hebrew Roots movement has ever received it. Moreover, if that’s the point of that verse, why didn’t Yeshua instruct his disciples in the correct pronunciation and tell them to pass it on?

But that’s not really what Moses meant anyway. In Hebrew, the shem or name didn’t just mean pronouncing a bunch of syllables, but referred to the reputation, honor, and authority of the person. Ergo, our primary concern is telling the world about the reputation, honor, and authority that God has given to his Son because Yeshua redeemed us with his own blood.

I do believe that the day is soon coming when we will once again speak God’s Divine Name: Yeshua promises that the overcomer will receive “a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it” (Rev. 2:17) and that “I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name” (3:12). The word translated “new,” kainos, can also mean “renewed, made fresh” (as can its Hebrew equivalent, chadash). Therefore, I believe that Yeshua himself will restore the true Divine Name to the lips of his brethren, but that he has clearly not done so yet.

Those who insist on using the Name casually, whether in the Hebrew Roots movement or in scholarly circles, are in my opinion jumping the gun and going beyond our Master’s command and example.

Shalom

Seek4Truth Screencast

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Last night, Jake Ruchotzke from the Seek4Truth podcast / screencast was kind enough to have me join him on the show. While I failed to actually get around to explaining the tag line: “Why Israel is no longer under the gods of the nations,” we had a good time and I got to give the broad outlines of my “Law as Covenant” theology.

Here’s the vid, for those who would like to see it:

For those who want to know more about my wierd take on “the curse of the law,” here’s the 2nd (but not yet final) draft of a paper I’ve been working on explaining my position:

The Curse of the Law (2nd Draft)

Shalom!