Post-supersessionist Analogy between Welcoming Gentiles in Scripture and Homosexual Persons Today


During the last half century, sexual standards and behaviors in the West have changed dramatically: increased use of contraception, living together without marriage, delaying of marriage, increased divorce, childbearing absent a lasting relationship with the father, redefinition of marriage, and increased approval of casual abortion, casual sex, cross-dressing and other behaviors previously considered unacceptable. Opposition to same-sex marriage is widely considered bigotry and an assault on the personal dignity of gays, and is marginalized or punished through formal and informal channels. Not all change is bad, but sexuality seems to many people a chaotic and fearful place today.

One response has attempted to bring religion back into alignment with Western culture by finding biblical resources supportive of homoerotic behavior that meets criteria of love, commitment, and non-harm. I have argued that these efforts misinterpret Scripture.1 They mistakenly conflate sexual orientation, identity, and behavior. A second response has attempted to close off church or synagogue from sexual minorities—contrary to religious traditions of welcoming strangers—while ignoring LGBT neighbors already in our midst.

The present essay presents a third path of welcoming sexual minorities while maintaining biblical standards of behavior. It will particularly interest Kesher readers for three reasons. First, the postsupersessionist perspective is appropriate for practicing Jews to hold. I recognize—along with prominent voices in Messianic Judaism—that abolition of Jewish ceremonial laws is a form of Christian supersessionism toward Judaism and the Jewish people.2 Even so would abolition of commandments about sexual behavior (increasingly framed as obsolete ceremonial law) constitute supersessionism.

The subject of supersessionism is complicated by disagreement about what it includes.3 Supersessionism is the belief that the church in some sense replaces Israel as God’s elect people. I favor this definition: supersessionism includes any interpretation of the New Testament that, intentionally or unintentionally, would lead to the eventual disappearance of the Jewish people from within the ekkesia of Yeshua the Messiah.4 Post-supersessionist use of the Gentile/Gay analogy is guided by four assumptions: (1) God’s covenant with the Jewish people is present and future; (2) Israel has a distinctive role in God’s redemptive activity; (3) by God’s design there is a continuing distinction between Jew and Gentile in the Church today; and (4) Jewish distinction takes place fundamentally through Torah observance as an expression of covenant faithfulness to the God of Israel and the Messiah Yeshua.5

A second reason for special interest in this essay is that my use of the Gentile/Gay analogy proceeds from a Messianic Jewish understanding of what the biblical welcome of Gentiles entailed. I recognize that the early followers of Yeshua distinguished between Jews and Gentiles and I consider this normative for the practice of contemporary Yeshua-followers. This agrees with Messianic Jewish documents such as “Defining Messianic Judaism” of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations.6

Third, this essay continues a conversation within Kesher about homosexuality and includes halakhic and midrashic elements, which are traditional Jewish ways of handling Scripture. One presenter at the 2016 Hashivenu Forum on sexuality remarked that Messianic Jews are at the beginning of that conversation. New questions and challenges will emerge, especially if Messianic Jews opt for greater inclusion, but even if they do not.7

John Perry considers the analogy between how early Yeshua-followers welcomed Gentiles and how contemporary Yeshua-followers ought to welcome homosexual persons the most important line of argument for discussions of homosexuality that are not rooted in secular-liberal notions of sexual autonomy.8 He critiques prior uses of the analogy, emphasizing that none of the revisionists adequately address the prohibitions of the Jerusalem Council. In a previous article I replied to Perry that analogical use of the Jerusalem (Apostolic) Decree typically trades upon supersessionist theologies of Christianity’s relation to Judaism, but ought to supplement rather than displace the plain sense of Scripture.9 The plain sense forbade sexual immorality, which included homoeroticism, and depended upon Leviticus 17–18. I disputed arguments for not following the Decree: Paul allegedly opposed it, it expired, and Gentiles want non-kosher meat. I then developed analogies from the welcome of Gentiles to the welcome of homosexual persons. These dealt with the Decree’s safeguard against idolatry, the welcome and equality of homosexual people, selective appropriation of culture, training in discipleship, service through the use of gifts, the role of the Spirit, self-limitation so as not to cause another person to stumble, expressing one’s inclinations appropriately, vulnerability, and same-sex marriage. Perry defended himself against my criticism “while also entering into the spirit of Olson’s reimagined analogy.”10 He considered that I had helpfully opened the topics of what principles apply to analogical reasoning when drawn from an authoritative source, what pattern of change distinguishes development from corruption, and the wider subject of Gentiles and homosexual persons beyond Acts 15, to include creation, vocation, and voices that are sometimes silenced. In this essay I respond to questions that Perry posed and propose additional post-supersessionist uses of the Gentiles-to-homosexual-persons analogy.

Perry deserves further response because the Gentile analogy to homosexual persons has been used since the 1970s, is found across denominational lines, and served as the “official” scriptural basis for the Episcopal Church ordaining an openly gay bishop.11 The analogy, said Perry, has potential to open up new avenues in the increasingly stagnant conversation about sexuality. He raised five key issues regarding the analogy which had not been adequately addressed, but which I took up in my previous article. Given the movement in Western society toward greater acceptance of homosexual persons and homoerotic behavior, revisionists may consider that the analogy can be used or retired without responding to critiques, and also without withdrawing from their revisionist path. Opponents may consider the analogy too distant and unhelpful. In part, the negative judgement was due to the detachment of the apostolic conference from the decree it issued, and supersessionist use of the analogy to displace rather than supplement the plain meaning of Scripture. Both mistakes are avoided here.

Richard Hays considered the analogy richly suggestive but ultimately unsuccessful.12 The acceptance of Gentiles by the ekklesia (community of Yeshua’s followers) proved hermeneutically illuminating by showing that God’s design for variety in human ethnicity was previously revealed in Scripture. By contrast, the acceptance of homosexual persons has not led to a re-reading of Scripture that convincingly shows God’s design for human sexuality was previously revealed in Scripture to include homoeroticism. “Homosexuality is one among many tragic signs that we are a broken people, alienated from God’s loving purpose.”13

Chiefly in dispute is whether same-sex attraction is best viewed as part of God’s original creational intent prior to the fall and effects of sin. Mark Yarhouse has drawn from three lenses on gender dysphoria14 (feeling that you are of different sex from your body) and they also could be used for homosexuality. The integrity lens views cross-gender identification as a concern (here I extend the lens to homoerotic behavior) because it threatens to dishonor the creational order of male and female. Specific biblical passages bolster this view. The disability lens may also value the sacredness of male and female differences, but makes room for supportive care and interventions in a way the integrity lens does not. The diversity lens sees the transgender phenomena (substitute here homoerotic behavior) as something to be honored, celebrated, and revered. This lens answers the desire for persons to be accepted and to find purpose in their lives. It answers the questions “Who am I?” and “Of which community am I a part?” For Yarhouse, sexual minorities in the church are our people, but they often don’t feel like it.15

Only the diversity lens would make the Gentile/Gay analogy fit. I agree with Yarhouse that all three lenses are in part useful,16 so the Gentile/Gay analogy is partly successful. Moreover, my use of the analogy ought to be pragmatically supported by those who wish to welcome homosexual persons into their religious community while upholding sexual boundaries and avoiding supersessionism. Hays proposed that rightly doing ethics requires an integrative act of imagination within guidelines.17 My handling of the Gentile/Gay analogy is consistent with this approach.18

Response to Perry

I thank Perry for his charity and for pursuing topics of analogy, change in ecclesial teaching, and vocation beyond where I had left them. Some of my language and comparisons “might offend those who disagree, but causing offense is a healthy risk whenever we talk about something important.”19

Freedom and Constraint within Analogy

What possible constraints should there be on “authoritative analogies,” for which one cannot dispense with whatever details one wants to ignore?20 Hays took up the related subject of Pauline hermeneutics.21 If we learn from Paul, we will read Scripture as a narrative of election and promise, with the corporate body of Messiah in mind, in service of proclamation, as participants in an eschatological drama of redemption, and appreciating the metaphorical relation between the text and our reading of it. “Do we overthrow the canon by this hermeneutic? On the contrary, we uphold the canon.”22 Three constraints operate in Paul: (1) no reading of Scripture can deny God’s faithfulness to his covenantal promises; (2) Scripture must be read as a witness to Yeshua; (3) no reading is correct if it fails to shape readers into a community that embodies the love of God as shown in Christ.23

How Jewish Should the Ekklesia’s Moral Reasoning Be?

I am pleased that Perry24 adopted some arguments of Michael Wyschogrod, an orthodox Jew who argued that Jews remain obligated to the Sinai covenant even if they become followers of Yeshua. Wyschogrod contrasted Bultmann and Barth. Bultmann was thoroughly Gentile, and little humbled by the “largely Jewish Word of God.” But Barth was oriented toward obedient listening to the Bible, which results in “spiritual conversion to Israel’s mind.” It cannot be asked of Gentiles to love Israel, but it can be asked of Christians.25

If one agrees with Wyschogrod and Barth to, by listening to Scripture, adopt Israel’s mind—and is further willing to say the ekklesia’s moral reasoning should follow Jewish and halakhic paths—whose Judaism should it follow?26 Perry cited a responsum of Conservative Judaism by Dorff, Nevins, and Reisner, of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, permitting homoerotic acts within a committed relationship, with the exception of male-male anal intercourse.27 I agree that halakhic rulings in Judaism can be bold and innovative,28 but I am not convinced by any that have sanctioned homoerotic behavior.29 Thus, I agree with other Jewish authorities who forbid same-sex sexual relationships.30 The Dorff responsum argued that human dignity requires that homoerotic behavior be permitted to persons with a homosexual orientation. But the Jewish concept of dignity presumably operates in the public sphere, not the private one where sex takes place.31 Unmarried persons are not lacking in dignity. In addition, the Dorff responsum mistakenly sets aside the prohibition of acts that draw near to same-sex intercourse (Lev 18:6, 19).32

A second responsum from rabbis Geller, Fine and Fine reviews unsuccessful attempts to change homosexual orientation. They argue that science has overturned the biblical evaluation of same-sex intercourse as an abomination, through the findings that same-sex attraction is involuntary, while homosexual orientation is fixed and occurs in a substantial percentage of the population.33 Similar appeals to science have been repeatedly used as moral claims, together with unstated premises.34 Additional premises—which Yarhouse and I reject—are that persistent same-sex attraction should be consolidated into a gay identity, same-sex sexual behavior expressing gay identity is essential to human wholeness, intimacy and friendship cannot be found outside of marriage, and celibacy cannot be required of anyone unable to enter a heterosexual marriage.35

A third revisionist responsum by Rabbi Tucker asserts that the experiences of gay and lesbian Jews reveal blind spots in the Jewish legal system. Just as modern rabbis took (or lamented being unable to take) legal steps to remedy the plight of children born of adulterous unions (Deut 23:2), and women who cannot remarry, so Tucker argued, modern rabbis should remedy the plight of gay and lesbian Jews.36 He believes that with regard to sexuality we are wiser today than the biblical writers and sages.37 The Talmudic rabbis prohibited homoerotic behavior without exception, despite the fact that “they knew that there were people inclined to homosexual relations, and despite the probable fact that they also knew of people who were willing to consider lives of covenanted relationship to members of the same sex.”38 Like Dorff, Nevins, and Reisner, Tucker believes that sexual activity is so important to mental health that celibacy cannot be required of gays. He sanctions same-sex anal intercourse because it is the preferred sexual behavior of many gay men. He does not wish to eliminate legal precedent, but wants by sanctioning homoerotic behavior within same-sex marriage to contravene a direct Torah commandment without quasi-traditional arguments (such as Dorff, Nevins, and Reisner give), but without weakening the whole system of obedience. Against Tucker, it is fair to warn against opening a methodological floodgate.39 For example, the standards of monogamy and permanence would be at risk. In a representative sample, gay American men reported an average of 42.8 lifetime sexual partners, straight men 16.5, lesbians 9.4, and straight women 4.6. Gay researchers found that none of over 100 gay couples who had been together more than five years were sexually monogamous or exclusive, and they argued that sexual monogamy is a passing stage of internalized homophobia. Another study found that among 156 gay couples, the majority of partners had sex outside the relationship in the previous year, and the average number of outside sexual partners was seven.40 Chief Justice Roberts has observed that every argument used to permit same-sex marriage could be used to permit marriage to several people at the same time.41 Roberts was discussing civil law, but Tucker’s approach would mirror it in religious practice.

Change in Ecclesial Teaching

What is the nature of the change in ecclesial teachings proposed by revisionists who appeal to Acts 15? “Is it that homosexuality used to be immoral, but is now cleansed like the animals in Peter’s rooftop vision?”42 Possibly, but I challenge the assumption that the animals were cleansed in Peter’s vision, so the comparison fails.

Peter had at first believed that it was “unlawful” for a Jew to associate with a Gentile (Acts 10:28). In a vision, Peter was shown kosher and non-kosher animals, admonished to “kill and eat,” and not to call unclean anything that God had cleansed (Acts 10:9–15). When Peter reached the house of Cornelius, he interpreted his vision to mean that he was to call no person unclean (10:28–29). It is unlikely Luke the narrator means for Peter to eat non-kosher food, since in Acts, Jewish disciples of Jesus continued to observe biblical dietary laws. Also, Cornelius, who was devout and God-fearing (10:1–4) would not have served Peter non-kosher food. Rather, the issue was whether Cornelius was morally unclean through participation in the idolatrous Greco-Roman cult.43

Peter saw in his vision a mixture of clean and unclean creatures. Whalen suggests that a third category, koinos (common) food received from a Gentile and presumably offered to idols, could be defiling. Peter objected to eating ‘common’ food from the mixture of clean and unclean creatures. But he was shown that the clean was not defiled although mixed with unclean.44 Oliver instead thinks koinos could acquire the meaning of ‘impure’ and extend into kashrut.45 However, he agrees that Luke’s purpose is not to abrogate biblical food laws. He likens Luke’s perspective to the Letter of Aristeas, which teaches that Gentiles who are favorably disposed toward Judaism can be morally pure, the impurity of animals is functional rather than ontological, but Jews must observe kashrut.46 Thus we have four reasons not to read Acts 10 as abolition of biblical dietary laws: (1) Cornelius served Peter kosher food; (2) Peter interpreted the vision as having to do with people, not food; (3) the vision did not mean that unclean creatures are clean; and (4) abolition of dietary laws would contravene Luke’s account in Acts 15.

Paul’s view that Gentiles can come to the God of Israel without becoming Jews is a difference with most other Jews about the times they were living in.47 Paul believed that with the resurrection of Yeshua, the end times spoken of by Israel’s prophets had begun. James’ quotation from the prophets in Acts 15:15–18 would have been read by early Christ-followers as strong evidence that Gentiles do not have to become Jews to belong to the messianic people of God.48 Comparable attestation for homoerotic behavior is lacking from Scripture and makes all revisionist arguments for homoeroticism non-comparable to James’ and Paul’s arguments for Gentile inclusion.

Sexual Orientation and Desire

Andrew Sullivan suggested that homosexuality might be akin to a disability.49 Special virtues can emerge among disabled people, but God’s ultimate creative intent may be that people be heterosexual. This need not imply any moral judgment, but the vocation of a disabled person would be a conditional one, not one to be pursued for its own sake. Glancing back to our analogy, Paul stated that, although God makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile, there is great advantage in circumcision (Rom 3:2). So, being a Gentile is like a disability. Moreover, most people will be disabled at some time in their lives.

The disability perspective has limitations, but so do others. As I noted earlier, Yarhouse has drawn from three lenses on gender dysphoria50 and they also could be used for homosexuality. The integrity lens views homoerotic behavior with concern because it threatens to dishonor the creational order of male and female presented in Scripture. The disability lens may not disagree, but makes room for more supportive care and interventions. The diversity lens sees homosexual orientation, identity, and behavior as honorable, and allows sexual minorities to be included in the community on an equal basis with everyone else.

Why do people experience desires that should not be fulfilled, or not in the way they come to us? Followers of Yeshua are

summoned to a difficult, costly obedience, while “groaning” for the “redemption of our bodies(Rom. 8:23). Anyone who does not recognize this as a description of authentic Christian existence has never struggled seriously with the imperatives of the gospel, which challenge and frustrate our “natural” impulses in countless ways.51

For example, the average man is attracted to having sex with many women. Since this desire will never be satisfied, men confront the further “disability” of chronic sexual frustration. Stackhouse, in discussing theodicy, says that the world we live in is the right sort of world for our actual condition: a world that shows us our need and provides opportunities to grow up into personal maturity.52 Aquinas believed that each of us has an unlimited desire for what is infinitely good, and which only God can satisfy. The love of God made possible by charity reaches out to right love of other things.53 The Jewish tradition speaks of the good inclination, which seeks the good of others, or intellectual pleasures, versus the evil inclination, which seeks the good of self, but is also identified with lower, animal pleasures.54 A story is told that the sages were able to capture the evil inclination, but they were forced to release it when a sick person needed a fresh chicken egg. No eggs could be procured without the help of the evil inclination (B.T. Yoma 69b). So both inclinations are needed for the world to function, and a person should serve God with both inclinations.

Vocation within a Homosexual Orientation

A narrow calling for a person who “innocently” entered a same-sex marriage could include obligation to one’s partner. Perry pursued my discussion of a disagreement between Hillel and Shammai, in which Hillel did not require Gentiles in a biblically but not civilly incestuous marriage to divorce when they converted to Judaism.55 Hillel allowed the marriage to continue for the sake of children who were being raised. In a contemporary setting, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia allows divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, people living together outside of marriage, and same-sex couples to receive Communion on the condition that they refrain from sexual intimacy. They cannot hold positions of authority in the parish or perform liturgical functions. For opposite-sex couples, the guidance notes that they need to care for their children, which may require them to remain under the same roof. Pastors must judge prudently how to address the situation.56 For the sake of raising children together, might same-sex couples continue living under one roof, on condition that they remain celibate? Yes, in the view of an Anglican who lectures in Christian ethics at St. Mellitus College, London.57 Likewise, my advice is to combine the values of purity (Shammai) and child welfare (Hillel) because the teaching and examples of Jesus and Paul make celibacy plausible.

Chastity is for all, but for those not called to marriage, might there be a marriage-like state of friendship? Or, might there be a vocation to embody the full joy and delight of the gospel as Eros and not merely as Agape?58 O’Donovan encourages discussion among homosexual persons about sexual ethics,59 so it is to them that I turn. Hill, a celibate gay Christian, argues that friendship should be understood as a vowed or committed relationship much like marriage or kinship. He explores the intersection of erotic love and friendship, and offers suggestions for nurturing friendships in the church. As his basic erotic orientation to the world is bound up with how he finds and keeps friends, Hill believes that he can harness and guide his sexual energy for sexually abstinent yet intimate friendship.60 O’Donovan, in turn, advises that good friends can help gay Christ-followers reach answers to their questions.61

In 2015, with the permission of the archbishop of Canterbury, an Anglican priest in a long-term celibate committed relationship with another gay man was consecrated a bishop. The relationship met House of Bishops’ guidelines on sexuality. Hill wishes that the gay bishop had said that God intends sexual relations to bind a husband and wife together. When we misuse the Creator’s gifts, we don’t gain more intimacy. We’re celibate in the hope that we will be able to love each other more deeply, more in line with how God created and redeemed us to be.62 I, not Hill, add that the ekklesia ought to require that the gay couple either not reside together, or have other persons sharing any domicile with them. That is my expectation for an unmarried man and woman who are sexually attracted to one another.

Shaw, another celibate same-sex attracted Christian, agrees with Hill that intimate friendships make his life possible.63 Further, Yeshua’s call to follow him is a vocation to potentially suffer as Messiah suffered. Resisting the temptation to homoeroticism makes Shaw more like Yeshua than anything else. It is the best thing God has used to equip him as a pastor to help others become more like Yeshua too.64 He suggests that the controversy over homosexuality is a divine gift, because it helps the church to see a series of missteps that the church has taken.65 Shaw thinks that if you are single, you have the gift of celibacy: you are free to serve God without competing loyalties to a spouse (1 Cor 7:32–35).66 As an example of upholding the traditional Christian sexual ethic while elevating the dignity of sexual minorities, Shaw states that people of all sexual orientations share desires for beauty, intimacy, and family. Yeshua offers these in infinite degree.67

Creation and Levitical Sexual Prohibitions

The question of why Leviticus 18:22 forbids a man to lie with a man as with a woman68 leads to Genesis. One reason for the prohibition is that such behavior conflicts with the created complementarity of man and woman.69 Humans are created in God’s image, male and female, given dominion over other living creatures, and told to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:26–28). A man cleaves to and becomes one flesh with his wife (2:24).

Israel is to divide between clean and unclean animals (Lev 11:47), just as God separates between light and darkness (Gen 1:4).70 Moskala proposes ten points of agreement between Genesis 1 and Leviticus 11.71 First, key terminology: earth, water, seas, animals, birds, kind, these, all, God, eat, separate, be holy. Second, universal taxonomy: all, everything, everyone. Third, three habitats for the living creatures in the same sequence. Fourth, four categories of creatures: animals, fish, birds, and ‘swarmers.’ Fifth, reproduction “according to its kind,” a phrase which occurs ten times in Genesis 1.72 Sixth, separation or division. Seventh, locomotion. Eighth, what is proper for human diet. Ninth, God is the Creator and the giver of dietary laws. Tenth, the concept of holiness and imitation of God. The creation story builds toward the appearance of humans on the sixth day and culminates in the establishment of the holy seventh day of rest (Gen 2:3).

The call to holiness is a summons to live in God’s image. Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:7, and 20:26 command Israel to be holy as God is holy. Leviticus 20:10–21 lists prohibited sexual conduct, 20:22–24 commands separation from the Canaanites and their ways, 20:25 instructs to distinguish clean and unclean animals for food, and 20:26 relates holiness to separation. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 likely therefore share with Leviticus 11 an appeal to the Genesis creation story for their logic.73

In describing the connection of the Holiness Code to the creation account, I have mostly advanced an argument about prohibitions. The positive understanding of how creation provides the purposes of human sexuality was developed in Christian tradition among such figures as Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth, and John Paul II.74 Resnik, Dauermann, and Goldsmith elaborated creation-based Messianic Jewish marriage theologies with Jewish and Christian sources.75 Former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom Sacks spoke on “The Love that Brings New Life into the World,” at the 2014 Vatican-sponsored colloquium on “The Complementarity of Man and Woman.”76

Changing My Mind

Two of my points in “The Jerusalem Decree, Paul, and the Gentile Analogy to Homosexual Persons” need revision. There, I observed that Matthew is stricter in making halakha for followers of Yeshua than other gospels. I suggested that the Matthean exception to the absolute divorce prohibition in Mark and Luke may have been added to deal with Gentiles who were in marriages considered incestuous by biblical standards, when they entered the ekklesia. Matthew would then have permitted or required divorce from an incestuous marriage.77 But I have since been impressed by the argument that Matthew clarifies rather than relaxes a ruling of Yeshua. Yeshua was replying to the argument between Hillel and Shammai whether any-cause divorce was allowed. Yeshua disallowed any-cause divorce, but did not disturb the view that there were other grounds for divorce than adultery.78 Bringing Yeshua into his Jewish context in this way debunks the argument that because Matthew relaxes a ruling of Jesus about divorce, the ekklesia today is authorized to annul the prohibition of same-sex intercourse.

In 2012 I cited the consensus view that Luke was a Gentile. But Oliver has shown that the gospel of Luke is fully as Jewish as that of Matthew, implying that its author was also a Jew.79 Whether as a Jew or Gentile, Luke is a fine example for gay and lesbian Christ-followers to emulate.

Exposition of the Analogy

Supersessionism and Schism

Proper analogy between accepting Gentiles and welcoming homosexual person into the ekklesia today must avoid supersessionism.80 But the issues have not been fully addressed. In structural supersessionism the shape of the Christian canon is seen in creation, fall, redemption, and consummation, skipping over the Old Testament after Genesis 3. Economic supersessionism holds that carnal Israel was destined to become obsolete with the coming of Christ, and that everything characteristic of Israel’s life under the old covenant was fulfilled and rendered obsolete. The teaching that carnal Israel lost the covenant as punishment for its sins, chiefly rejecting Christ, is punitive supersessionism.81 The Roman Catholic Church and several other churches have disavowed supersessionism, but many theologians consider that means only punitive supersessionism.

Perry examines revisionist uses of the Gentile-Gay analogy for possible supersessionism and anti-Semitism. How clearly did the characters in Acts believe that Gentile inclusion was anticipated in their scriptures? Would welcoming homosexuals today be a continuation of the inclusion begun in Acts, or a new change over against earlier forms of the ekklesia? “Not all those who approve of homosexuality on the basis of the Gentile Analogy walk this line with caution sufficient enough to avoid traces of, perhaps unintentional, anti-Semitism.”82 Perry considers the demeaning of Torah observance to be wrong, but progressive revelation that abrogates Torah observance to be acceptable. His is a narrower definition of supersessionism than I use, but some revisionists are guilty of it. The Episcopal Church document, To Set Our Hope on Christ, written to defend the consecration as bishop of a gay man in a homosexual relationship, “greatly distorts how the Christians of Acts saw their relationship to Israel.”83

The Jerusalem Decree marks the welcoming of Gentiles into a Jewish ekklesia. Later, Christianity and Judaism separated, such that a Jew could not remain in the church and observe Jewish practices (economic supersessionism), and a Jew could not remain in the synagogue and believe that Yeshua was the Son of God.

The separation of the church and the Jewish people had both good and bad aspects. Do changes constitute development, corruption, or subversion?84 Flusser saw an ambivalence in Christianity between wanting to be the true Israel, but not wanting to identify with Judaism and Jews. Therefore it was necessary for an independent religion to be born that would free Gentiles tending toward Judaism from the yoke of the law, and would not make them Jews. However, Christianity can renew itself out of Judaism and with the help of Judaism.85 In The Star of Redemption, Rosenzweig conceived of the Jews as a star’s core and the Christians as its rays; the one preserving revelation and the other spreading it. Both vocations are necessary for redemption. Greenberg considered the tragedy of the Christian-Jewish split to be the parting in the ways, not of the ways. Christianity wrongly eliminated practices that distinguished Jews from non-Jews and devalued the material compared to the spiritual.86 Yoder thought that the Christian-Jewish schism did not have to happen.87 Kinzer considered both parties wounded by the split.88

At the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, the question of Torah observance for Gentiles arose within the consensus that Jewish followers of Yeshua were obligated to observe the Torah. After the church became largely Gentile and Jews had become deeply unpopular on account of the Jewish War against Rome, this consensus reversed. Some Gentile Christians thought that the Scripture of the Jews was given by a different deity than the Father of Yeshua. The God of the Jews was the creator of this evil world, and Yeshua did not come in the flesh. Justin Martyr agreed with gnostics that the high God was too spiritual to have created the world, but Justin asserted that the second person of the Trinity, being lower, was the Creator. He argued that Scripture is holy, but is rightly interpreted non-literally with respect to practices of the body.89

Augustine’s thought developed. He first said that sexual difference had allegorical significance, without resolving whether it was corporeal prior to the fall. Later he affirmed sexual difference as having a procreative purpose from the beginning, and sexuality as an arena in which God works for redemption.90 Augustine perceived that his early views about Jews were vulnerable to the arguments of opponents. As long as the church condemned Jews for being carnal, it undermined the goodness of creation. Augustine came to reason that the Old Testament laws were rightly observed in the flesh by Jews, including Yeshua, the apostles, and Paul. However, with Yeshua’s resurrection, the law became dead, while the apostles could observe it in order to show the faithfulness of God. After a time, observance of the law became a sin for Jewish followers of Yeshua.91 Augustine’s mature theology was accepted by the Latin Church. Thomas Aquinas built upon this foundation. While an improvement over Justin and gnostics, it is still economic supersessionism.92

The standard canonical reading model of the church fathers fostered a forgetfulness of Israel, first, because the vast bulk of the Old Testament is indecisive for theological reflection on God’s redemptive and consummating purposes. Second, it reduced the many themes of God’s history with the people Israel to the catastrophe of sin and the goal of redemption. Third, the story of carnal Israel was supposed to come to an end with the appearance of spiritual Israel (the church), resulting in a latent gnosticism of history.93

Kant and Schleiermacher kept what portion of the standard canonical model seemed relevant while jettisoning the background. Both denied the identification of the Christian deity with the God of Israel. Their theologies resulted in lack of contact not only with the Old Testament, but increasingly even with the New. Simultaneously, God’s enduring purposes for creation drifted more and more into the sphere of individual consciousness and inwardness.94 Soulen astutely identified this modern, human-centered theology as an exacerbation of supersessionism that brought features of the standard model to their logical conclusion.95 However, Soulen’s insights have not been widely accepted into the definition of supersessionism. I will denote the modern deformations as neo-supersessionism.96

Operating with supersessionist premises, the church declared that membership in the covenant frees one from membership in a natural human family. The “only thing that matters before God is one’s inward spiritual identity as one who believes, not one’s corporeal identity as either Jew or Gentile.”97 Christian theologians before the Enlightenment had made the existence of the Jewish people within the church a matter of theological indifference. Kant and Schleiermacher made Jewish existence outside the church also theologically meaningless.

This reasoning is extended in the modern position that the only thing that matters for sexual expression is one’s inward sexual identity, not one’s corporeal identity as man or woman. Neo-supersessionism appears not in physical attacks on Jews today, but in hostility toward the Jewish scriptures.98

The standard canonical reading model and the Enlightenment influence contemporary theologians who endeavor to sanction same-sex practice. While the standard model as commonly understood made most of the Old Testament indecisive for discerning God’s enduring purposes, several revisionist theologians also make the creation story and parts of the New Testament indecisive. While Kant and Schleiermacher made much of the Old Testament inessential in principle for Christian theology, several revisionist theologians use ideological criticism to make additional Old Testament passages and parts of the New Testament inessential in principle. For example, Eric Elnes argues that Yeshua and Paul contradicted their Bible when necessary. Therefore, Christ-followers today should emulate Yeshua and the apostles and contradict the Bible (especially sexual prohibitions) if it conflicts with the Rule of Love.99

The ancient interpreters held four assumptions about the Bible: (1) it does not always mean what it appears to; (2) it is a book of lessons for today; (3) it contains no contradictions; and (4) it is divinely inspired.100 Protestant fundamentalism affirms all these propositions except the first, teaching that the Bible is almost always literally true and can be easily understood by every believer.101 A difficulty with this last tenet arises when believers disagree about what the Bible says. However, the revisionists allowing same-sex practice, who frequently deride others as fundamentalist, mistakenly believe the Bible supports them.102 To maintain that view they must generate anti-Jewish contrasts within Scripture, chiefly a Paul radically estranged from the other apostles, Judaism, and the Torah. Second, they must reject fundamental teachings in Genesis 1–2 about the meaning of humans being created male and female in the image of God.

The Gentile-homosexual analogy suggests that, unless the ekklesia repents of neo-supersessionism, welcoming homosexual persons will lead to a split as large as that between church and synagogue.

A severe split today would probably involve doctrinal changes that normalize homoerotic behavior through exaggeration of supersessionist and anti-Jewish tendencies. Contemporary Christian theological arguments for affirming homoerotic behavior magnify anti-Jewish elements that were present among the proto-orthodox and gnostic Christians of antiquity.103 For example, it is routinely recognized that Christians ignore the ceremonial laws in Leviticus. Almost never is a distinction between Jewish and Gentile followers of Christ recognized. Numerous theologians further imply that for consistency, the surrounding verses, or perhaps the entire book of Leviticus, should be treated as non-scripture.104

Another issue of dispute is what constitutes marriage.105 Brownson responded to his son’s coming out as gay by re-thinking biblical teaching on sexuality. He concluded that the creation story does not teach complementarity of the sexes, which implies that the biblical writers, Yeshua, and Paul, misunderstood Genesis.106 In its proposed sacramental celebration of same-sex marriage, the Church Board of the Church of Sweden wrote, “Here the distinction between what belongs to creation and what belongs to salvation loses its significance.” O’Donovan considers the dialectic between creation and redemption, which gives shape to the creeds that differentiate Christianity from deism, thereby threatened.107

Numerous congregations have withdrawn from prior affiliations over the issue of homosexuality, and schisms have occurred in denominations. The recent statement “Gospel, Church & Marriage: Preserving Apostolic Faith and Life” from the Church of England’s Evangelical Council clearly presents the gravity of the dispute.

This area is therefore of a higher order than other divisive matters, often viewed as ‘secondary’ (for example, the ordination of women) because it calls for faithful obedience to the unambiguous and authoritative teaching of Scripture concerning godly living and human flourishing…. Such significant departure from apostolic teaching [on marriage, singleness, and sex] regrettably requires in response some visible degree of differentiation, in order to formally acknowledge and mark this distance.108

If a profound schism over homoerotic behavior were to occur, the issue would be joined to whether the exposition of Scripture according to its narrative logic is able to keep its integrity in the face of ethical and other concerns from outside Scripture. That is, whether the logic of belief or the logic of coming to belief dominates.109 The logic of belief is that the Bible’s framework and story is larger than our own. Our story fits within God’s story, the Bible. The logic of coming to believe, and of many modern readers, is that the world outside the Bible provides the categories and benchmarks for interpreting the Bible, rather than the reverse. The position supporting homoerotic behavior relies on a non-narrative reading of Scripture.

Placing No Stumbling Blocks

I argued above that people in same-sex marriages who later come to understand that homoerotic behavior is inconsistent with Scripture might nevertheless continue to live as celibates in the same household for the sake of the children they are raising. Might they spurn divorce or annulment, reasoning that a same-sex marriage is not a real marriage according to Scripture? This would be analogous to Corinthians who initially ate idol offerings in pagan temples, but later became followers of Yeshua and agreed with Paul that “an idol has no real existence.” Paul nevertheless warned them not to eat idol meat in pagan temples so as not to cause their brethren to stumble (1 Cor 8–10).110 By analogy, Yeshua-followers in a same-sex marriage who remain together as celibates should also end the marriage so as to avoid scandal.

The obligation not to put a stumbling block before anyone (Rom 14:13, 20; 1 Cor 8:9), which Paul applied to interactions between Jews and Gentiles,111 extends to sexual temptations for a heterosexual person but not a homosexual person, and vice versa.112 Take care against shaming or humiliating anyone, and be sensitive to how words and actions may be perceived by sexual minorities. It would be in the spirit of Paul’s advice for straight or married persons to include gay and lesbian persons, strangers, or singles, in their lives and their homes. Including same-sex attracted persons in the life of the congregation can be a challenge, and exclusion from leadership is appropriate if they are engaged in prohibited sexual behavior. Instructive is the story of a couple who came to faith and began attending a congregation, but did not initially recognize the incompatibility of their jobs with their commitments to God. With patient mentoring, they matured, stayed in the congregation, and found new livelihoods.

Scripture of Encouragement

The Gay/Gentile analogy can be applied to the use of Scripture. Gentiles who turn to God through Christ gain the heritage of Israel although they do not become Jews (Eph 2). Therefore, whatever was written in Scripture was written for Gentiles (and Jews) as instruction and to give hope (Rom 15:4). Biblical stories about friendship include Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, Jesus and the “beloved disciple,” and Jesus, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Hill says these stories help him as a celibate gay Christian to hope for similar friendships in the church.113 The biblical writers also encourage recognition and engagement with outsiders who are concerned to know the truth. This hospitality extends from the magi on the first page of Matthew to the last page of Revelation where the nations are healed and enter the city of God.114

Each reader is unique and brings their own circumstances into their identification with the biblical narrative. Is there anything that homosexual persons as a class would bring to their reading of Job? Relevant experiences include feeling different, being bullied, lack of offspring, or being told that one is a sinner. Job is a model of the innocent victim, and he is a Gentile.

At the other extreme, recent advances of LGBTQI rights might leave homosexual Yeshua-followers feeling contempt for religious people who resist these advances and do not recognize the place for celibate vocations within the ekklesia. The situation is analogous to the background for Romans, namely that Gentile Christ-followers were looking down upon Jewish Christ-followers (Rom 11:25a). On the whole, Jews were not responding to the Gospel as readily as Gentiles (Rom 11:25b). Paul warns Gentiles against thinking more highly of themselves than they ought. Instead make love your aim (Rom 12). By analogy, homosexual Yeshua-followers should repay no one evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.

Noah was a virgin above all virgins, said Luther, because he waited 500 years to have children (Gen 5:32).115 Noah was too busy preaching repentance to marry, but he did not reject the goods of creation. Eventually God called Noah to marry. By analogy, homosexual persons might receive a vocation that is more pressing than marriage, without rejecting creation. Luke 7:5 presents a centurion who loves the Jewish nation and built a synagogue. A childless gay person could show esteem for raising children by building a school.

Surprised by God’s Fruitful Faithfulness

Abraham is celebrated as the father of faith/faithfulness. All nations will be blessed through him (Gen 12:2–3; 18:18). When called by God, Abraham was not yet circumcised, allowing Paul to create Gentile kinship with Abraham (Gal 3; Rom 4). The analogy between Gentiles and gays suggests that homosexual persons may be called to be a means of blessing others. God uses Israel and the nations to have mercy upon all (Rom 11:30–32), the freeman is a slave to Christ while the slave is free in the Lord (1 Cor 7:22), and woman is not independent of man, nor man independent of woman (1 Cor 11:11). There are many members, yet one body (Rom 12:4–7; 1 Cor 12). However, like Abram, those who respond to God may be changed.

Abram has his name changed and enters the covenant through circumcision, but God’s promise of descendants is delayed in its fulfillment, and for a time appears impossible. Analogously, homosexual persons who come to Messiah may accept the loss of prospects of having children. But, to their surprise they may later receive the capacity to love an opposite sex spouse, marry, and have children, with or without continuing to experience same-sex attraction. However, the ekklesia’s vision of human flourishing cannot be conditional upon extinguishing same-sex attraction or entering heterosexual marriage.

Identity in Messiah and Other Identities

Paul calls Gentiles who turn to God in Messiah: beloved, holy ones, faithful ones, brothers and sisters, and a new creation. They undergo transformations (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15) and resist fixed identification.116 Gentiles are the main audience of Paul’s letters (Rom 1:5–6, 13; 11:13; Gal 4:8), yet he also speaks to them as formerly Gentiles (1 Cor 12:2), and admonishes them not to act like Gentiles (1 Cor 5:1; 1 Thes 4:3). The just requirement of the law is fulfilled in them (Rom 8:4), but they are not to undergo circumcision. Wrongdoers “is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Messiah Yeshua and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11). Gentiles and Jews are unified through Christ (Gal 3:28). Yet Gentiles in Messiah have a more complex identity than Jews. To be in Christ, Gentiles give up their gods and ancestral religious practices, and profess loyalty to Israel’s God, messiah, Scripture, and ancestry. They are adopted into the household of God (Eph 2:19). This gives them a hybrid identity.117

By analogy, homosexual persons who turn to God in Christ are beloved, holy ones, faithful ones, brother and sisters, and a new creation, but not heterosexual persons. Followers of Jesus who experience persistent same-sex attraction might, in general, have more complex processes of identity formation than those who do not.118 We have scripts around much of human experience, including sexuality, marriage, and raising children. Yarhouse uses “gay script” to refer to one way that we come to understand ourselves and our lives. The gay script usually includes five elements: (1) sexual attraction signals a natural distinction between homosexuality, heterosexuality, and bisexuality; (2) same-sex attractions are the way to discover who you really are; (3) same-sex attractions are the core of who you are; (4) same-sex behavior is an extension of that core; (5) behavior that matches who you “really are” is crucial for your fulfillment. The gay script relies on the metaphor of discovery. But the ekklesia can offer another script: “Identity in Christ” (Messiah). Its basic points are (1) same-sex attraction is one of many human experiences that are not the original intention of creation; (2) same-sex attractions may be part of your experience, but do not have to define your identity; (3) you can choose to integrate your experiences of same-sex attractions into a gay identity, or (4) you can choose to center your identity on other aspects of your experience, including biological sex and gender identity; (5) the most compelling aspect of personhood for the follower of Yeshua is identity in Christ.119 This script relies on the metaphor of integration.

Some celibate Christians (such as Hill) describe themselves as gay to convey that they have a homosexual orientation. Other celibate Christians (such as Shaw) resist the gay label and identify themselves as same-sex attracted. Doherty describes himself as post-gay. All are in a sense gay but not gay, analogously to how Paul describes his converts as Gentile but not Gentile.

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul asserts that humans, implicitly Gentiles, can learn their identities as creatures under a Creator by observing the Creation. By analogy, and as the chapter continues, homosexual persons can learn from their created bodies that their identities as male and female under a Creator are more significant than gay or lesbian identities.

In the Gospels, the resurrected body of Jesus retains the wounds of his crucifixion, and he eats food, but he is also able to pass through locked doors and to disappear. Paul taught that the body which is sown is perishable, but the raised body is imperishable (1 Cor 15: 42). In Revelation, Israel and the nations are reconciled but continue to be distinct from one another in the renewed creation. The church fathers developed concepts about the World to Come from passages such as these. There will be no marrying (Matt 22:30), other than the marriage of the bride, the ekklesia, to the Messiah (Rev 21:2). Augustine thought that our spiritual bodies would continue to be male and female, for the sake of continuity with our mortal identities in God’s good creation.120 We will be healed, which must include right ordering of our desires. But, to state the obvious, there is no positive biblical vision of homosexuality in the eschaton, nor does it appear in Genesis 1–2.

While in this life, identity in Messiah is complex both for Gentiles and for homosexual people, the analogy faces limits. Gentiles must remain Gentiles to fulfill Scripture which gives Jews and Gentiles roles in the redemption. But homosexual people who are converted to the mind of Israel, and who retain a same-sex sexual orientation, should not choose a gay identity. Perhaps no one should adopt a heterosexual identity either. Perhaps in Messiah, sexual identity should end.121

In the “gay script,” beliefs and values are made to line up with gay identity and homoerotic behavior. By contrast, “identity in Messiah” envisions changed behavior following from a renewed mind.122 To be part of the body of the Jewish Messiah is to be separated to God and a living temple (1 Cor 3:16–7; 6:15–19). Paul echoes the Levitical priestly sexual prescriptions (Lev 21:6–7, 14) for Gentile Yeshua-followers.123 It is inconceivable that any member of Christ would be joined to a prostitute. “You were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor 6:20). Analogously, being joined to Christ is contradicted when a male attempts to be joined sexually to another male.

Identity in Messiah destabilizes other identities. In worship, we are encountered by the God of Israel, whose particularity places not only our own “God-consciousness” but even our own sense of self into question. By calling ourselves sinners we acknowledge that apart from God we cannot know who we are.124 The identity struggles of gay Christ-followers can bless the ekklesia if they highlight the common need for identity in Messiah. Bonhoeffer wrote the poem “Who Am I?” during his imprisonment. It ends, “Whoever I am, You know, O God, I am Yours!”

In Paul’s vision of the gospel, Gentiles and Jews together praise God. The root of Jesse is the one in whom the Gentiles shall hope (Rom 15:12; Isa 11:10 LXX). Gentiles are no longer strangers and aliens, but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph 2:19). Analogously, homosexual followers of Yeshua can be strengthened to comprehend the love of Christ which is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).


In the years since Perry and I discussed the Jerusalem Decree and the analogy from welcoming Gentiles to welcoming homosexual persons into the ekklesia, the acceptance of same-sex marriage and LGBTQI rights has increased in Western societies and the churches and synagogues within them. The present essay presumes that the analogy can be fruitful and that welcome of sexual minorities in the ekklesia is consonant with but constrained by the prohibition of homoerotic behavior.

My response here to Perry includes several issues. I commend Hays’ treatment of Pauline hermeneutics, and think analogy cannot contradict Scripture’s plain meaning. Aspects of discipleship that gain shape through the experience of living with same-sex attraction include friendship and suffering. I view homosexuality through multiple lenses with the aim of upholding the creational order of male and female, making room for supportive care, enhancing acceptance, and finding purpose in life. I ground the Levitical prohibition of homoeroticism in the creation account. Peter’s vision and visit to Cornelius affirm that God accepts righteous Gentiles, but do not overturn biblical dietary laws. Hillel and Shammai disagreed whether Gentile converts in incestuous marriages need separate. The Gentile/homosexual analogy today would allow homosexual couples to remain together if they were already raising children, and were celibate, but they must end their same-sex marriage. Being single or celibate does not offend human dignity.

Acts 15 describes the welcome of Gentiles into a Jewish entity, the ekkesia, which later became separate from and antagonistic toward the Jewish people and Jewish practice. The Gentile/homosexual analogy suggests that, absent repentance, changes in doctrine and practice to sanction homoeroticism will exacerbate supersessionism and neo-supersessionism and produce a schism as deep as that between church and synagogue. Among uses of the analogy, I suggest that both Gentiles and homosexual people face identity questions. If Paul taught his Gentile readers to form their primary identity in Messiah, same-sex attracted followers of Yeshua should also hold their primary identity in Messiah. Lastly I propose that followers of Messiah of various orientations should praise God together.

Jon Olson (DPM in Podiatry, DrPH in Epidemiology) lives with his wife, Susan, near Hartford, Connecticut. They participate in congregations affiliated with the UMJC, OU, and Evangelical Presbyterian Church. In good weather Jon and Susan bicycle to worship services.

1 Jon C. Olson, “Idol Food, Same-Sex Intercourse, and Tolerable Diversity Within the Church,” Anglican Theological Review 95:4 (2013): 627–47; Jon C. Olson, “Paul Employing Leviticus: Same-Sex Intercourse Considered Amongst Torah Commandments,” Kesher 27 (2012);; Jon C. Olson, Review of James V. Brownson, Bible Gender Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships, Kesher 30 (2016): 105–14; Jon C. Olson, “Intertextuality, Paul within Judaism, and the Biblical Witness against Same-Sex Practice,” Evangelical Quarterly, (July 2018) 222–239.

2 This expansive definition of supersessionism is argued by Michael Wyschogrod, R. Kendall Soulen, Matthew Tapie, and Mark Kinzer, but is uncommon among Christians and church organizations that decry supersessionism.

3 R. Kendall, Soulen, “The Standard Canonical Narrative and the Problem of Supersessionism,” in David Rudolph and Joel Willitts, eds., Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 2013), 282–91, here 284.

4 Joel Willitts, “Jewish Fish (ΙΧΘΥΣ) in Post-Supersessionist Water: Messianic Judaism within a Post-Supersessionist Paradigm,” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 72.4 (2016): a3331, here 3.

5 Ibid, 4.

6 By contrast, most Christians who make analogy from Acts 15 to the acceptance of gays today begin without operative notions that the early ekklesia presumed continuing Torah observance of Yeshua-following Jews and distinction of Jews and Gentiles, or that the Apostolic Decree has any force today.

7 Paul Saal, “Queer for Jesus: A Messianic Jewish Perspective,” Kesher 30 (2016): 49–71.

8 John Perry, “Gentiles and Homosexuals: A Brief History of an Analogy,” Journal of Religious Ethics 38/2 (2010): 321–47; here 323. Perry was McDonald Fellow for Christian Ethics and Public Life at the University of Oxford.

9 Jon C. Olson, “The Jerusalem Decree, Paul, and the Gentile Analogy to Homosexual Persons,” Journal of Religious Ethics 40/2 (2012): 361–85.

10 John Perry, “Vocation and Creation: Beyond the Gentile-Homosexual Analogy.” Journal of Religious Ethics 40/2 (2012): 385–400; here, abstract.

11 Perry, “Gentiles and Homosexuals,” 323.

12 Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament (San Francisco: Harper, 1996), 399.

13 Ibid, 400.

14 Mark A. Yarhouse, “Understanding the Transgender Phenomenon,” Christianity Today, June 8, 2015.

15 Mark A. Yarhouse, Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2010), 157.

16 Yarhouse, “Transgender Phenomenon.”

17 Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven: Yale, 1989), 183–86; Hays, Moral Vision, 310.

18 Olson, “Jerusalem Decree,” 361.

19 Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 393.

20 Ibid, 389.

21 Hays, Echoes, 178–91.

22 Ibid, 188.

23 Ibid, 191.

24 Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 393.

25 Michael Wyschogrod, Abraham’s Promise: Judaism and Jewish-Christian Relations (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 211–24.

26 Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 391. He writes “church” where I substitute “ekklesia.”

27 Elliot N. Dorff, Daniel S. Nevins, and Avram I. Reisner, “Homosexuality, Human Dignity, and Halakha,” (2006),

28 Asher Lopatin, “What Makes a Book Orthodox? Wrestling with God and Men by Steven Greenberg,” Edah Journal 4:2 (2004).

29 For critiques of Christian revisionist arguments see Olson, “Jerusalem Decree”; “Paul Employing Leviticus;” “Idol Food;” review of Brownson, Bible Gender Sexuality.

30 Chaim Rapoport, Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2004); Joel Roth, “Homosexuality Revisited.” (2006); Leonard Levy, “Same-Sex Attraction and Halakha.” (2006); Baruch Frydman-Kohl, “You have wrestled with God and Human and have prevailed: Homosexuality and Halakha.” (2006),

31 Joshua Yuter, “Conservative Judaism and Homosexuality: Understanding the New Debate” (M.A. Thesis, University of Chicago, 2008).

32 Ibid.

33 Myron S. Geller, Robert E. Fine, and David J. Fine, “A New Context: The Halakha of Same-Sex Relations.” (2006),

34 Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse, Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2000).

35 Yarhouse, Homosexuality and the Christian, 37–55.

36 Gordon Tucker, “Halakhic and Metahalakhic Arguments Concerning Judaism and Homosexuality.” (2006)

37 A similar argument has been made by Christians, says Oliver O’Donovan, A Conversation Waiting to Begin: The Churches and the Gay Controversy (London: SCM Press, 2009), 61.

38 Tucker, “Metahalakhic,” 8

39 Frydman-Kol, “You Have Wrestled.”

40 Cited in Jones and Yarhouse, Homosexuality: Scientific Research, 110.

41 Cited in Ryan Anderson, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2015), 43–45.

42 Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 391.

43 Magnus Zetterholm, “Purity and Anger: Gentiles and Idolatry in Antioch,” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 1 (2005): 1–24; Richard Bauckham, “James and the Jerusalem Council Decision,” in Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations, David Rudolph and Joel Willitts, eds. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 178–86; here 179.

44 Clinton Whalen, “Peter’s Vision and Conflicting Definitions of Purity,” New Testament Studies 51 (2005), 505–18.

45 Isaak Wilk Oliver, Torah Praxis after 70 CE: Reading Matthew and Luke-Acts as Jewish Texts (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 2012), 423. Now published by Mohr Siebeck.

46 Ibid, 433–34.

47 Pamela Eisenbaum, Paul was not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle (San Francisco: Harper, 2009).

48 Bauckham, “James,” 182, contra Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 392.

49 Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 395.

50 Yarhouse, “Transgender Phenomenon.”

51 Hays, Moral Vision, 402.

52 Mark A. Yarhouse, “At the Intersection of Religious and Sexual Identities: A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality.” (2010), 30;

53 Kent Dunnington, Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011), 146–47.

54 Moses Hayyim Luzzatto, Messillat Yesharim: The Path of the Upright, introduction and commentary by Ira F. Stone, translation and original introduction by Mordechai M. Kaplan (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2010).

55 Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 397.

56 Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia. (2016)

57 Sean Doherty, “Celibate Same-Sex Couples?” ( Accessed February 12, 2018.

58 Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 397.

59 Ibid, 394.

60 Wesley Hill, Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2015), 81.

61 O’Donovan, Conversation, 115.

62 Wesley Hill, “Another Gay Anglican,” September 3, 2016 on the spiritual friendship blog.

63 Ed Shaw, The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-Sex Attraction (Nottingham: Intervarsity, 2015), 76.

64 Ibid, 125.

65 Ibid, 134.

66 Ibid, 111.

67 “Tackling discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Severn Vineyard’s series on Social Justice in the City; Accessed February 12, 2018.

68 Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 399; Olson, “Paul Employing Leviticus,” 77–78.

69 Olson, Review of Brownson, Bible Gender Sexuality.

70 Lance Hawley, “The Agenda of Priestly Taxonomy,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 77/2 (2015): 231–49; here 247.

71 Jiri Moskala, “Considering Levitical Food Laws,” Perspective Digest 18:1 (2014),–1/considering-levitical-food-laws. Accessed 16 August 2015. See also Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007).

72 The next most frequent appearance in Scripture is nine times in Leviticus 11 (Samuel E. Balentine, Leviticus, in the series Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching [Louisville: John Knox Press, 2002], 94).

73 Robert A.J. Gagnon, “A Critique of Jacob Milgrom’s Views on Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13,” 5; www.robgagnon.ent/articles/homoMilgrom.pdf (2001). Accessed 12 February 2018.

74 Christopher C. Roberts, Creation & Covenant: The Significance of Sexual Difference in the Moral Theology of Marriage (New York: T & T Clark, 2007).

75 Russ Resnik, “The Two Shall Become One Flesh: The Beginning and End of Marriage,” Kesher 29 (2015): 3–25; Stuart Dauermann and Ellen Goldsmith, “Messianic Jewish Ethics Concerning Intimacy and Sexuality,” Kesher 30 (2016): 3–33.

76 Accessed April 10, 2018.

77 Olson, “Jerusalem Decree,” 379.

78 Vered Hillel, “A Messianic View of Divorce,” Kesher 29 (2015): 45–71; David Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002).

79 Oliver, Torah Praxis.

80 Perry, “Gentiles and Homosexuals;” “Vocation and Creation.”

81 R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996).

82 Perry, “Gentiles and Homosexuals,” 330.

83 Ibid, 332.

84 Perry, “Vocation and Creation,” 390.

85 David Flusser, “Theses on the Emergence of Christianity from Judaism,” Immanuel 5 (1975): 74–84; theses 9, 14, and 58.

86 Irving Greenberg, “Judaism and Christianity: Covenants of Redemption,” Christianity in Jewish Terms, Tikva Frymer-Kensky, David Novak, Peter Ochs, David Fox Sandmel, and Michael A. Signer, eds. (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000), 141–74; here 152.

87 John Howard Yoder, The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited, Michael G. Cartwright and Peter Ochs eds. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 43.

88 Mark S. Kinzer, Postmissionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2005), 310.

89 Paula Fredriksen, Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism (New York: Doubleday, 2008).

90 Roberts, Covenant, 39–78.

91 Fredriksen, Augustine.

92 Matthew Anthony Tapie, Aquinas on Israel and the Church: The Question of Supersessionism in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2014).

93 Soulen, God of Israel, 49–56.

94 Ibid, 20.

95 Ibid, 19.

96 Similar to Michael G. Cartwright, “The Problem of Supersessionism after Yoder,” Jewish-Christian Schism, 229, who identifies the erasure of Judaism.

97 Soulen, God of Israel, 12, citing Wyschogrod on Christianity.

98 Jews may also elaborate hostility toward their own scriptures in order to consecrate same-sex practice or for other reasons. Neo-supersessionism is the simplest term I think of.

99 Eric Elnes, The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006), 16–21.

100 James L. Kugel, How to Read the Bible (New York, The Free Press, 2007), 14–15.

101 Ibid, 672–73.

102 See footnote 1. For a survey of how Jewish sages regarded the relationship between Torah and science, see Aaron Lewis, Yair Maayan, and David S. Sassoon, “Torah Truths and the Consilience of Human Knowledge,” Conversations 30 (Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, 2018), 45–55.

103 Glynn Harrison, A Better Story: God, Sex & Human Flourishing (London: IVP, 2017), 16–19.

104 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Special Committee on Human Sexuality, Keeping Body and Soul Together: Sexuality, Spirituality, and Social Justice, (Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, 1991), 101; Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church Task Force to Study Ministries with and for Homosexual Persons, Faithful Inquiry: Exploring Christian Responses to Homosexual Persons (Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, 1992), 5. Exercise 8 of Lesson 4. For ancient arguments see Fredriksen, Augustine.

105 Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George, What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (New York: Encounter Books, 2012).

106 Olson, Review of Brownson, Bible Gender Sexuality.

107 O’Donovan, Conversation, 86–88.

109 Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Feminist Reconstructions of Christian Doctrine: Narrative Analysis and Appraisal (New York: Oxford University, 2000), 8–19.

110 Olson, “Idol Food.”

111 Mark D. Nanos, commentary to Romans, in Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brenner, The Jewish Annotated New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 282.

112 Olson, “Jerusalem Decree,” 378.

113 Hill, Spiritual Friendship.

114 Markus Bockmuehl, Seeing the Word: Refocusing New Testament Study (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 232.

115 Roberts, Covenant, 127.

116 Caroline Johnson Hodge, “The Question of Identity: Gentiles as Gentiles—but Also Not—in Pauline Communities,” Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle, Mark D. Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm, eds. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015), 153–173; here 154–55.

117 In apostolic times, the process of identity formation in Messiah was more complex for Gentiles than for Jews. During the long period when supersessionism was not perceived to be a problem, the situation was reversed.

118 Yarhouse, “Intersection,” 16, reports that in mainstream gay studies the average age of gay identity formation is 15, while for Christian sexual minorities, it is 26, and for Christian sexual minorities who dis-identify with a gay identity, they reach this point of identity synthesis at 34. See him further on how multiple aspects of identity combine in different ways.

119 Yarhouse, Homosexuality and the Christian, 49, 51.

120 Roberts, Creation and Covenant, 71.

121 See Jennell Williams Paris, The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex is Too Important to Define Who We Are (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011).

122 Yarhouse, Homosexuality and the Christian, 51.

123 Hodge, “Question of Identity,” 166.

124 Dunnington, Addiction, 180–82; Harrison, Better Story, 130.