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Nov 29th 2006

david kuo: homosexuality is no worse than gossip

so suggests the former bush administration official, who has combined his stunning lack of perception when it comes to religion with authoring a book on religion.

time magazine quotes kuo:

For many evangelical leaders, anything related to homosexuality is this special, dark sin. But that’s not what the Bible says,” says Kuo. “Jesus doesn’t even mention it at all.”

this all leads Kuo to deduce:

Really [homosexuality is] a sin like gossiping to your neighbor.

what standard has kuo given us? either: if jesus didn’t say it, it’s not in the bible (or) if it is not recorded as a direct quote attributed to jesus, it doesn’t count as a religious principle. never mind the many scriptural instances where homosexual behavior is addressed critically.

under the kuo standard, gossip actually would be a much more serious sin than homosexual behavior, because it is something against which jesus specifically instructs. jesus, responding to a question from the pharisees, is on record counseling against “idle speaking”. matthew 12:36.

i am glad david kuo is writing a book about religion! i expect it to be very accurate and informative.

< / sarcasm off >

15 Responses to “david kuo: homosexuality is no worse than gossip”

  1. Rob

    I wouldn’t want to defend Mr. Kuo or anyone in the Bush Administration, but isn’t the reference to homosexuality in the Old Testment, along with a lot of other stuff we don’t believe in anymore or that was outdated once Jesus arrived on the scene? Since we don’t actually know what causes homosexuality, or why a person is homosexual, it seems to me we ought to be very careful about condemning those who are.

  2. I wouldn’t want to defend Mr. Kuo or anyone in the Bush Administration

    yet you just did.

    isn’t the reference to homosexuality in the Old Testment, along with a lot of other stuff we don’t believe in anymore or that was outdated once Jesus arrived on the scene?

    ah, yes. i recall jesus saying, “the old law is done away. now frolic freely in your like-gendered orgies.” there are a slew of references in the new testament condemning homosexual acts:

    see romans 1: 26-27:

    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    1 corinthians 6: 9-10 condemns a huge swath of people, including heterosexuals, as well as “abusers,” for which the greek translation is, apparently, “male homosexuals”:

    9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
    10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    also, 1 timothy 1: 9-10, where the greek implies those who “defile” are homosexuals:

    10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

    in jude 1:7:

    7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the evengeance of eternal fire.

    and there are others. but you continue:

    Since we don’t actually know what causes homosexuality, or why a person is homosexual, it seems to me we ought to be very careful about condemning those who are.

    i’m not condemning anybody. the holy scriptures lay out the rules and describe the consequences for behavior.

    it may sound like i’m joking, but i really cherish and enjoy homosexual people (there must be a reason they are called “gay,” after all). they are very special, and have obviously been given special challenges.

    so i don’t condemn them. unless you think my highlighting some stupid comments by a former bush appointee is the same as condemning gay people to hell.

  3. John

    I am getting tired of pointing out your weak reading comprehension skills, but I continue to do so in the hopes you’ll eventually catch on and be more careful.

    “what standard has kuo given us? either: if jesus didn’t say it, it’s not in the bible (or) if it is not recorded as a direct quote attributed to jesus, it doesn’t count as a religious principle. never mind the many scriptural instances where homosexual behavior is addressed critically.”

    Actually, no, you’re greatly simplifying kuo’s position. He seems to be saying that the seriousness of a sin can be determined by how often it’s mentioned, where it’s mentioned (i.e. NT v. OT) and by whom. (Note that this is actually a principle that you don’t disagree with if you are LDS). Kuo does not say that a principle “doesn’t count” because Jesus didn’t mention it (at least not in the parts you quoted). He simply makes the very unexceptional claim that the most important Christian principles are those to which Jesus devoted the most words.

    A religious view that is so strictly limited to the actual words of the bible may differ from your own view, but it is defensible nonetheless. Your characterization of kuo’s religious view as stunningly lacking in perception, says more about the narrowness of your own views than it does about the merit of kuo’s.

  4. Actually, no, you’re greatly simplifying kuo’s position. He seems to be saying that the seriousness of a sin can be determined by how often it’s mentioned, where it’s mentioned (i.e. NT v. OT) and by whom.

    and you’re greatly expanding kuo’s position. go read the time article. he didn’t say that. that would certainly be a reasonable (though not necessarily correct) position to take. but he didn’t take it.

    what is wrong with what kuo said is this: the bible is an inherently incomplete record (how, after all, is a writer going to remember every word jesus spoke to put it in his book?). was there a record-keeper present everywhere jesus went? and even if jesus never discussed it himself (doubtful), how is it that several of the apostles after him did address the issue? did they just make it up?

    Kuo does not say that a principle “doesn’t count” because Jesus didn’t mention it (at least not in the parts you quoted). He simply makes the very unexceptional claim that the most important Christian principles are those to which Jesus devoted the most words.

    like gossip. watch out for idle speaking, it’s a doozy.

    A religious view that is so strictly limited to the actual words of the bible may differ from your own view, but it is defensible nonetheless.

    thing is, john, my view is strictly limited to the actual words of the bible. see my comment directly above yours. see also these numerous passages which contain the actual words of the bible.

  5. […] John, Nov 2006 [link] I really do wonder why you don’t research this stuff before you ridicule things. […]

  6. […] david kuo: homosexuality is no worse than gossip (i explain david kuo’s religion to him) […]

  7. Natalie

    Well, God DOES take slander (and that’s really what gossip is, when you boil it down) very seriously. It hurts His people and divides His church. I’m not defending homosexuality, but it IS interesting what the Christian community will attach a social stigma to, and what it allows within the church.

    I think Mr. Kuo was just pointing out that attaching those stigmas to certain sins, and then allowing other sins to flourish within the community of believers, is not our job. God decides what is and what isn’t a sin, the last time I checked.

  8. travis

    Well, God DOES take slander (and that’s really what gossip is, when you boil it down) very seriously.

    idle speaking is not slander. gossip is not slander. slander is false and malicious speaking. idle speaking is truthful speaking, involving speech that, like daytime television, is completely useless, damaging, and a waste of time. but is not false, nor is it malicious.

    it IS interesting what the Christian community will attach a social stigma to, and what it allows within the church.

    I think Mr. Kuo was just pointing out that attaching those stigmas to certain sins, and then allowing other sins to flourish within the community of believers, is not our job. God decides what is and what isn’t a sin, the last time I checked.

    (emphasis added). thank you for pointing that out. let me give you a run down on what david kuo said, then what god has said. i already did this above, but apparently you didn’t read it.

    david kuo said that homosexuality and gossip are on the same plane together as sins. homosexuality is no worse than gossip. he justifies this by noting that the bible’s main guy, jesus, is never on record condemning homosexuality himself. i pointed out that, since his standard is “stuff that jesus mentions,” and we have record of jesus condemning gossip but not homosexuality, then gossip actually must be much worse than homosexuality in kuo’s view.

    but let’s count verses in the bible, shall we? in the old and new testaments, there are over a dozen verses condemning homosexuality (i quoted some of them above). there are just two condemning gossip.

    so, since god decides what is and isn’t a sin (and how serious each sin is) then let’s listen to him and his prophets, not david kuo.

  9. Jordan

    “what standard has kuo given us? either: if jesus didn’t say it, it’s not in the bible (or) if it is not recorded as a direct quote attributed to jesus, it doesn’t count as a religious principle. never mind the many scriptural instances where homosexual behavior is addressed critically.”

    But his point is addressed by the Bible, in Romans 1:26–2:1. The “sting in the tail” of this passage is often neglected because it is delivered at the start of a new chapter, but it retains its dramatic effect:

    “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.”

  10. Jordan

    “but let’s count verses in the bible, shall we?”

    That doesn’t strike me as the best way to determine how important something is! 🙂

    “in the old and new testaments, there are over a dozen verses condemning homosexuality”

    The source you give cites nine verses. Four of these relate to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, under the inaccurate presumption that the sin of Sodom is homosexuality; however, this is in direct contradiction to the Bible, which says:

    “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”—Ezekiel 16:49

    I note that one of these verses comes from the Book of Mormon. If this blog’s official theological position is LDS, I can also cite a few passages from their literature which affirms the correct interpretation.

    Also, the translation of Deuteronomy (another of the verses) provided in the KJV is incorrect, and explicitly refers to temple prostitutes. This leaves only four verses relating to homosexuality.

  11. travis

    “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.”

    i’m not sure i understand your point. are you saying i’m a homosexual? if you are LDS, surely you are aware of the JST to matthew 7:1-2:

    1 Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people.
    2 Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment.

    you continue:

    That doesn’t strike me as the best way to determine how important something is!

    then we agree. i proposed counting verses because kuo claims jesus condemned it zero times in scripture. i thought it would only be fair to count how many times other prophets condemned the behavior in scripture. i agree it is not the best way to determine religious truth. however, i doubt the way that i believe is best (listen to modern day prophets, who condemn homosexual behavior (but not gay people)) would convince mr. kuo or anyone not of my faith.

    This leaves only four verses relating to homosexuality.

    no, there are over a dozen in the bible alone. nine in the old testament and four in the new testament. additionally, there are two more references in the book of mormon. they are all listed on the page, but some are obscured by being co-listed with other verses, or by being grouped under the heading “see also.” some of the verses under “see also” (from the link i provided) refer to sexual immorality generally, and i have excluded them from my tally or the list below:

    Gen. 19: 5
    Lev. 18: 22
    Lev. 20: 13
    Deut. 23: 17
    Isa. 3: 9
    2 Ne. 13: 9
    Rom. 1: 27
    1 Cor. 6: 9
    1 Tim. 1: 10
    Jude 1: 7
    2 Ne. 13: 9
    Gen. 13: 13
    Gen. 18: 20
    Isa. 3: 9
    Ezek. 16: 50

    even if you throw out the references to sodom, then there are still several more verses in the bible that condem homosexuality than those that condemn gossip. on a related note, thanks for pointing me to the true sin of sodom, and the reason the lord destroyed that city: the people were “overfed.” i’m glad we’ve finally cleared up the mystery. what a loving a merciful god we have who destroys whole villages of fat people.

    but seriously, i would love to see the LDS writings that share this interpretation of sodom and gomorrah.

  12. Jordan

    I’ll respond to your last point first:

    on a related note, thanks for pointing me to the true sin of sodom, and the reason the lord destroyed that city: the people were “overfed.” i’m glad we’ve finally cleared up the mystery. what a loving a merciful god we have who destroys whole villages of fat people.

    First, please be less sarcastic. 🙂

    I would like to remind you that the author of those verses is the prophet Ezekiel, not me. Also, you have not interpreted him faithfully; you focus on the word “overfed,” but ignore the explanation that they were uncharitable, lacking compassion, arrogant and disrespectful—ungodly through and through. I don’t see how homosexuality is imagined to be worse than these grave sins. The extent of their inhospitality is clearly illustrated by the story of Sodom, and is further supported by the prevailing views of Jewish scholars and by the Book of Jasher. Jesus also agrees with Ezekiel that the sins of Sodom were related to inhospitality:

    “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town.”—Matthew 10:14–15

    He intimates that even Lot’s wife had not escaped the avaricious nature of Sodom’s inhabitants:

    “On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”—Luke 17:31–33

    Lot’s sons-in-law lived in the city, and were contracted to marry his daughters; they were destroyed along with the city (Genesis 19:14). It seems unlikely that they would take a woman in marriage if they were openly homosexual, nor that Lot would give his daughters to such people. In fact, simple logic should be enough to encourage scepticism on this front: if most of the inhabitants were destroyed because they were gay, surely the population would dwindle in short order, and it would not be nearly so affluent?

    Finally, I’ll invite you to investigate another passage which is remarkably similar to the story of Lot in Sodom. Read Judges 19, and pay particular attention to verses 23 and 24:

    “The owner of the house went outside and said to them, ‘No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But to this man, don’t do such a disgraceful thing.'”

    Why did he offer his virgin daughter or the concubines? “Since this man is my guest”—not “since homosexual rape is innately more sinful than heterosexual rape”. There is no evidence anywhere in the Bible for such an unusual distortion.

    In summary, there is very little support for the notion that the most significant sin of Sodom was homosexuality, and plenty that it was to do with their cruelty and meanness.

    but seriously, i would love to see the LDS writings that share this interpretation of sodom and gomorrah.

    In fact, the non-sexual sins of Sodom are taught in Gospel Doctrine classes.

  13. Jordan

    I seem to remember a few other writings which were largely devoted to exposing the sins of Sodom, but for now you may consult what Parry had to say, and Nibley’s observations concerning Sodom’s wealth and greed.

    God bless!

  14. travis

    jordan, i appreciate your thoughtful comments. my response follows. please feel welcome to weigh in on this and other posts in the future.

    you have not interpreted him faithfully; you focus on the word “overfed,” but ignore the explanation that they were uncharitable, lacking compassion, arrogant and disrespectful—ungodly through and through.

    good catch. and, if i was being honest, i would have probably admitted that “overfed” was ezekiel’s euphemism for greed or selfishness. i didn’t and i ignored those because i thought it would be funny to imagine god destroying a village of people just because they are overweight. i will try to refrain from light mindedness in this discussion henceforth.

    I don’t see how homosexuality is imagined to be worse than these grave sins.

    homosexual acts are deemed to be acts of sexual immorality. the seriousness of sexual immorality is described in the book of mormon. please see alma 39, especially verses 3-5.

    3 And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.
    4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.
    5 Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent bblood or denying the Holy Ghost?

    in LDS doctrine, sexual sin is an “abomination” and less grievous only than murder or denying the holy ghost. in fact, david kuo’s argument that homosexual acts and gossip are on par with each other reflects the confused teachings of many protestant sects, generally.

    while in high school, i attended a religious youth group with a friend from another church. there, we were taught that all sins are the same: if you commit one “minor” sin, you have distanced yourself from god just as much as if you had committed a “major” sin (at least, that’s how it was explained to me). in my view now, that is a doctrine that humans have read into the bible improperly. it is just as mistaken as the doctrine that one can confess jesus’ name and, hallelujah, he’s saved, without more.

    It seems unlikely that they would take a woman in marriage if they were openly homosexual…..there is very little support for the notion that the most significant sin of Sodom was homosexuality, and plenty that it was to do with their cruelty and meanness.

    i have never argued that homosexual relations were the only sin of sodom and gomorrah. nor have i argued that every single person in these cities practiced homosexuality. i don’t know what percentage of people were involved with that particular activity. like san francisco, california, for whatever reason, sodom and gomorrah have ever been associated with homosexuality. certainly not everyone in SF is gay. and certainly other sins occur there besides gay sexual immorality (like straight sexual immorality, illicit drug use, cruelty, and even meanness). but if the lord destroyed san francisco tonight, it would be hard to say that homosexual immorality is not the banner sin of that city, and the one that all the prophets would talk about for years to come. those same prophets might try to get future sunday school classes to focus on the “small sins” as well as the “large” ones (as the church does in the lesson to which you linked).

    presumably this is the language you were talking about from the gospel doctrine classes?:

    As suggested in Genesis 19:4–11 and in the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 19:9–15, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah engaged in grievous sexual sins. But these sins, while severe, were not the only sins for which the cities were destroyed. Have a class member read Ezekiel 16:49–50 aloud, and discuss with the class the other sins of which people in Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty. Help class members understand that we can be destroyed by seemingly small sins as well as by large ones. [source]

    notice that the lesson, while acknowledging (like i do) that the people of S&G engaged in other sins, it reaffirms my basic point: sexual immorality (whether gay or straight, but in this case gay) is a much more serious sin than gossip. indeed, according to the correlation people, it is “large.” other sins are “small.”

    simple logic should be enough to encourage scepticism on this front: if most of the inhabitants….were gay, surely the population would dwindle in short order, and it would not be nearly so affluent?

    yes, the population would dwindle. but i’m not educated enough on the topic. how long were sodom and gomorrah’s sins going on? did they occur over several generations, or in a short period of time?

    i’m not so convinced of your non-affluence claim. today, homosexuals are among our most highly educated, accomplished, and (thus) wealthiest members of society. it certainly could have been different back then. but i wouldn’t call this question one of “simple logic.”

    “homosexual rape is innately more sinful than heterosexual rape”. There is no evidence anywhere in the Bible for such an unusual distortion.

    and i’m not making it. i made no distinction between heterosexual and homosexual sexual immorality. you’ll recall, david kuo started me down this path by comparing homosexual acts to gossip in their sinfulness.

    donald parry:

    The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by God is well known. The sins of Sodom were enumerated by Ezekiel: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good” (Ezek. 16:49-50). Jude added that Sodom and Gomorrah committed “fornication” and went “after strange flesh” (Jude 1:7).

    although not “strengthen[ing] the hand of the poor and needy” is certainly despicable, that sin of omission hardly deserves to be characterized as an “abomination.” my guess is that ezekiel is referring to a more insidious sin of commission, such as sexual immorality of the gay variety. parry confirms this in the next sentence with the second witness (see 2 corinthians 13:1), jude, who refers more explicitly to S&G’s “fornication” and “going after strange flesh.”

    even in hugh nibley’s article, which specifies wealth and political corruption as S&G’s sins, he does not say we have been misinterpreting the S&G story all along. (that is kind of what i was expecting when you said there were writings with “the correct interpretation”).

    in any case (whether you or i have the S&G analysis correct), my point was never to argue the particular reason (or reasons) why god destroyed two ancient cities, but rather to point out that homosexual immorality is not a minor sin like gossip (as david kuo claims). i think there is ample evidence of that.

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