Sunday, October 03, 2010

LiLo & Lance

Dear Ms. Lohan,

You seem to be digging a hole to bury yourself in, with your use of drugs (illegal & legal), plus reckless driving. About a week ago, you ended up in jail again, & people all over the place continue making fun of you for being a typical dumb, beautiful young woman. Look at these result counts from

"lindsay lohan" jokes OR humor: 3,050,000

"lindsay lohan" dumb: 1,320,000

"lindsay lohan" dumb beautiful: 289,000

You should be ashamed of yourself, but let's look on the bright side: at least you're not a scholar, scientist, or academician. There are thousands of those who are equally irresponsible in their own way. Most of your flings only hurt you. On rare occasions, like when you're driving, you greatly endanger others, but even then, it would only be a few people involved. However, when the aforementioned class of people say or do something stupid, they can hurt others intellectually. That's because less-educated/less-informed people tend to rely on what those "smart" people teach them. And they often end up being just as stupid. Garbage in, garbage out.

Last month I exposed the logical fallacies of Dr. Robert Cargill, a highly educated & well-respected man among his peers, who not only doesn't believe there ever was a global flood on Earth, but felt compelled earlier this year to attempt to prove it. His failure reminded me of your recent drug-test failure! I thought, "Surely he can't believe he's going to get away with those flimsy arguments; surely she can't believe she can do drugs & pass her drug test."

This month, in a roundabout way while researching the ancient site of Gezer, I saw another example of someone-who-should-know-better doing something flagrantly stupid.

H. Darrell Lance, currently Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Interpretation at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, has authored several prominent articles on a subject I study, LMLK jar-handle stamps. In Biblical Archaeologist vol. 30 #2 (May 1967) he wrote:

"Now from the biblical and archaeological evidence we know that Gezer was part of the kingdom of Israel and later part of the Assyrian Empire. What then are these handles doing at Gezer? There is at least a partial explanation. We know that in the latter part of the 7th century which saw the collapse of Assyrian power, King Josiah of Judah took control of much of what had been the northern kingdom of Israel, including Gezer and its surrounding territory."

[Note: The final reference to Gezer in the Bible occurs in 1Kings 9:17 during the reign of Solomon, a couple of centuries prior to Josiah's reign. Gezer was a city assigned to the Levites (Joshua 21:21 & 1Chronicles 6:67), so it's no big surprise to find copious quantities of LMLK handles there, if, as I believe, they were tithe-containers.]

Lance's best-known contribution was "Royal Stamps & the Kingdom of Josiah" in The Harvard Theological Review vol. 64 #2-3 (April-July 1971). Here are some excerpts:

"[T]he script of the class 3 [LMLK] stamps, although basically a conservative lapidary, shows at more than one point a development beyond the Siloam script. The late-seventh-century date traditionally ascribed to these forms is fully justified. ... With the hardness of heart peculiar to archaeologists, we may say that we are most fortunate that [Lachish] Level III was violently destroyed. ... Anyone who wishes to date Level III to 701 B.C. must push the entire lmlk series before that date, an alternative which is clearly unacceptable. ... Clearly, then, the presence of the lmlk stamps at Gezer cannot be explained if they are dated in the early seventh century. ... [A.D. TUSHINGHAM's] interpretation of the meaning of the stamps as proclaiming the reunited monarchy is not possible, it seems to me, in view of the total absence of the impressions from the north."

Less than a decade later, he was proven wrong on several counts, first by renewed excavations at Lachish. He was correct in believing both types of icons (all 3 of Diringer's classes) dated to the same period; he was simply wrong on the period (Josiah's instead of Hezekiah's). What he eloquently argued as being "clearly unacceptable" in 1971, has now been accepted by all mainstream scholars in this field (including Lance himself in the prestigious 1992 Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 6 under "Stamps, Royal Jar Handle")!

Furthermore, it is easy to explain all classes of LMLK seals at Gezer in light of King Hezekiah's worship reformation, coupled with Sennacherib's failure to conquer Jerusalem, thereby allowing Judeans to resettle Shephelah sites like Gezer.

Last but not least, as of today more than 12 handles have been found at 4 sites in northern Israel (with more on the way that haven't been published yet). A reunited monarchy, for at least a brief period of time in a limited way (worship), is possible!

Don't get me wrong, Ms. Lohan; I don't fault Dr. Lance for any of these premature speculations, but you'd think that as years went by, he would've become less rigid in his opinion, & more thorough in his research. Not so! Last week I found an MP3 of a "Christian Faith and the LGBT Experience" lecture he delivered earlier this year (2010-3-14) demonstrating the contrary. Several flaws in logic leaped out at me. He relied on a book by Daniel A. Helminiak, but I'm holding him responsible for his lecture, speaking as an authority figure to people seeking (as Dennis Prager would say) "clarity".

According to the promotional abstract for his lecture, "Dr. Lance skillfully provided an overview of homosexuality, setting the context; then proceeded to debunk the 'clobber text' [sic] from the Old and New Testaments. Dr. Lance reviewed the forty or so years of scholarship with these text [sic]; thus providing those gathered with a clear understanding of the use and abuse of the Bible to limit the voice and leadership of LGBT person [sic] in society and faith community."

Clear understanding? We'll see about that. It's disturbing to find so many grammatical problems on an educational institution's website in a single paragraph, but not nearly as disturbing as the lecture itself! The MP3 spans 85:28, but the first 8 minutes contain the introduction, & the last 12 include the closing plus background noise (someone forgot to turn the recording off). His lecture lasted about 57 minutes, with another 9 minutes of Q&A. My quotations below will show the approximate point in minutes:seconds relative to the MP3's beginning.

During the introduction, John Wilkinson, the pastor of
3rd Presbyterian Church
, said that the needs of the Church & our community are different now than they were decades ago. So right away you can see that the lecture's context is how we should interpret the Bible to accommodate ourselves, rather than to learn about God & God's ways.

Perspective makes a big difference.

For you, Ms. Lohan, an analogy would be, "What can these drugs & parties do for me?" rather than "What can I do to use my popular influence to help people, lead them to a better relationship with God, & make society better overall?" Our judicial system is probably going to point you in that direction with community service, but it can never force you to want to (as Laura Schlessinger would say) "do the right thing."

True change-for-the-better must come from within, & Jesus Christ is the only way to a permanent solution. All other routes will be short-term, & ultimately fail. But a rational defense of that declaration may be a bit much for you to absorb at this point, so let's move on to Lance's lecture since sexuality is a subject you have extensive experience with.

[11:55] "What does the Bible say about Homosexuality? Well, a strong case can be made for the argument that it says nothing at all. ... Because the concept of sexual orientation as a distinctive part of a person's inner identity, is a modern discovery. There is no word in Greek or Hebrew that meant what we mean by the word 'homosexuality'. [It] was invented in the late 19th century..."

I'm going to accept his point that we know of no Hebrew or Greek equivalents in ancient literature for "homosexuality", & also bypass his later discussion of the words "malakoi" & "arsenokoitai" in Paul's New Testament epistles. I can safely do that because Lance's main argument rests on logical fallacies.

First he demonstrates one known as a strawman argument. His subject concerns what the Bible says about Homosexuality, & instead of focusing exclusively on the act between 2 persons of the same gender, he parses the meaning to a modern psychological definition, so he can figuratively tear down this weak "man of straw" with ease.

[12:40] "The ideas of Heterosexual & Homosexual didn't exist before then, much less in Biblical times. In ancient times the distinction was not between Homosexual & Heterosexual, but between those who penetrate (the male), & who is penetrated (usually, but not always, the female)."

Then he explained 4 aspects of sexuality that operate independently:

  1. Sexual Identity: What am I, a male or a female?

  2. Sexual Roles: As a male or female, what do I do?

  3. Sexual Orientation: To whom am I physically attracted, a male or a female?

  4. Sexual Behavior: With whom do I copulate, a male or a female?

[19:45] "The best medical science says [Orientation] is determined very early, & is something over which we have no control. ... It's not a choice, it's not a preference, any more than being right- or left-handed is a choice."

I understand his point that we are born with innate orientations, but anybody with 2 functional hands can choose to use either one despite their orientation or natural disposition. This is known as self-control, a concept foreign to many wealthy, good-looking, spoiled brats who were not properly disciplined by their parents during their developmental years.

Bad parenting notwithstanding, you, Ms. Lohan, are still fully accountable to the judge in your case. If you did not have self-control, you would never have been able to obtain a driver's license. Likewise, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/TransWhatever people are fully accountable to God for their behavior irrespective of their biological orientation, just as Heterosexual people are. It's known as "choosing to act wisely". God gave us the right to live, but not the right to an obstacle-free life.

Adam & Eve had no biological obstacles & lived in a place full of pleasure, but they listened to bad advice, did something stupid, & forfeited their VIP status. Now we, their direct descendants, have genetic mutations & live in a dangerous world. Kind of like what would happen if you were no longer beautiful & wealthy; you'd have a tough time getting into exclusive clubs that cater to the beautiful & wealthy. The people you think are friends would no longer want to share their booze & cocaine with you. I know it's hard for you to imagine, but that's analogous to the world most of us are living in compared to the one Adam & Eve originally had.

[23:10] "Now the point of all of this is that the Bible never speaks to the issue of sexual orientation, only to sexual behavior."

Is it obligated to? Does it matter whether a murderer enjoys killing his/her victim? Does it matter whether the murderer hates the victim? Well, in our modern judicial system, it may affect the sentence, but it should not dictate the verdict.

Did the judge in your case, Ms. Lohan, care about whether you felt you needed the alcohol or cocaine? It didn't matter, did it? So let's see what the Bible records as God's opinion of homosexual behavior:

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."--Leviticus 18:22

"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination."--Leviticus 20:13

In case you're on drugs again as you're reading this, I'll clarify the translation: Males shall not lie on a bed [i.e., for the purpose of copulating] as they do with women. God detests it!

Now obviously one doesn't have to "lie on a bed" to have sex, but that was the general phrase to convey the general meaning of the commandment to reasonably intelligent men, who were then responsible to communicate it to everyone in their community. Likewise, people will not be able to argue that they did not violate 18:22/20:13 if they commit the act in a bathroom or kitchen or in a standing or seated position, something other than lying on a bed! And it makes no difference whether they were physically attracted to the person or not!

Analogy: Stabbing someone doesn't necessarily kill them; they die from a loss of blood several seconds or minutes later. But you would not be able to argue in a modern court (& certainly not in God's court) that you didn't actually murder somebody if you indeed stabbed them. It's sufficient to say, "Thou shalt not murder" one time, & it's a done deal. Rational people know what that commandment means.

Leviticus 18:22/20:13 records God's perspective, not mine, not yours, not some 19th-century psychologist's! Dr. Lance trivializes God's perspective, which probably springs from an erroneous belief that 18:22/20:13 was a commandment written by men for men, instead of being the word of God spoken to & recorded by Moses, so that all of God's people might learn God's ways.

[23:10] "The Bible never speaks to the issue of sexual orientation, only to sexual behavior, in other words, what they observed in the culture of their time. ... So a fair response to the question, 'What does the Bible say about Homosexuality?' would be, 'It says nothing.' So it's better, thus, to ask 'What does the Bible say about same-sex behavior?' And it does talk about that."

I highlighted his remark about what the Israelites observed. My version would be: The Bible speaks to the issue of sexual behavior because God's law teaches us God's commandments, irrespective of our biological/psychological orientation. In short, IT DOESN'T MATTER what your orientation is! This is God's world; it doesn't revolve around you!

Doesn't this make sense? How would a judge be able to rule on what a defendant's emotions were at the time of the alleged crime? Imagine what that would be like...

  • Thou shalt not murder, unless she like totally bothers you.

  • Thou shalt not commit adultery, unless it would be way cool to brag about at a party.

  • Thou shalt not steal, unless it makes you feel so hot ... you are the bomb!

  • Thou shalt not speak deceitfully, unless you're all like, honing your acting skills or whatever.

That sort of legal system would produce more chaos than justice, right? If you have problems comprehending such an outcome, Ms. Lohan, simply imagine the victim being somebody you deeply care about, including yourself ... or maybe your stupid friends who provide you with drugs. You wouldn't want to see them become the victims of injustice, would you?

Speaking of chaos, Dr. Lance gave a strange explanation of a well-known incident recorded in Genesis 19:

[31:05] "So Sodom & Gomorrah is about violent aggression by, what we would call, heterosexual males against the guests of Lot. ... The story has no bearing on the modern discussion of a loving, mutual relationship between 2 people of the same sex who are homosexually oriented."

How could he possibly know what their sexual orientation was?!?! This is the same man who on one hand argues that the Bible "says nothing" about sexual orientation, then the first time he references a specific Bible text, he defends his position by acting as though he knows the sexual orientation of the people! That's another logical fallacy known as begging the question. In other words, his remark begs us to question how he could possibly know that, since he hasn't offered any proof.

If the residents of Sodom & Gomorrah engaged in sins God considered exceptionally great (Genesis 18:20 & 19:13), including but not limited to homosexual behavior, it has significant bearing on whether modern people should engage in similar acts, or be proud of it, or pass laws to accommodate it. Whether those people have a loving, mutual relationship, or a carefree one-night-stand is irrelevant.

Next he looks at Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13, which he relegates to a mere cultural purity code rather than a commandment of God. How could he do that? Simple: he ignored the context because he presumed the Bible was written by men who didn't know the 4 aspects of sexuality. Here's the opening & closing of chapter 18 that he omitted from his lecture:

"Ye shall do my judgments, and keep my ordinances, to walk therein; I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them; I am the LORD."--Leviticus 18:4-5

"Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you, & the land is defiled; therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, & the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you (for all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled); that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein; I am the LORD your God."--Leviticus 18:24-30

Even if you don't believe those words came from God, they're in the Bible, & the purpose of the lecture was to examine the Bible's perspective on the subject. If those verses seemed rather long & repetitious, contrast them with this terse statement by Dr. Lance:

[24:20] "[Same-sex behavior] is not a burning issue as far as the Bible is concerned."

What a shame! I can't imagine a better qualification for being "a burning issue" than prompting God to rain fire & brimstone from Heaven upon those cities! But as incredible as his remark seems, he embarrasses himself even further:

[39:05] "It's never mentioned in the Gospels."

There were probably people in the audience who've never studied the Bible in depth, & Dr. Lance actually stood before them in a position of authority, & either lied to them deliberately, or unwittingly misled them (I don't know if he's "attracted" to deceitfulness, or if it's just his "behavior"). True, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality explicitly, but you're obligated to use your brain & rationally infer His position from statements He made about heterosexuality:

"Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female..."--Matthew 19:4

"But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female."--Mark 10:6

Both verses record the same conversation about Genesis 1:27, with the context being Divorce granted by Moses:

"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes ... then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife..."--Deuteronomy 24:1-4

Notice how unambiguous this passage is on marriage involving one man & one woman at a time. There is not the slightest hint of it involving 2 men or 2 women, because it follows God's earlier commandment against homosexual behavior in Leviticus, & the even-earlier commandment in Genesis 1:28 for us to "[b]e fruitful, & multiply", which is impossible to fulfill through homosexual behavior. Jesus emphasizes God's opinion by referencing Genesis 2:24 & elaborating on it:

"'For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his [one] wife; & they two shall be one flesh.' So then they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."--Matthew 19:5-6; Mark 10:6-9

And if that's not enough, Jesus mentions Sodom 6 times (on at least 2 occasions) in the Gospels. The context emphasizes that those citizens are going to be in big trouble on Judgment Day, though not necessarily the biggest trouble: people who reject Jesus.

If Jesus were indifferent toward sexual behavior, He had ample opportunity to say, "Oh, it doesn't matter if a man divorces his wife, or if a man marries a man, or a woman marries a donkey. It's not a burning issue. Just be nice, pretend you're a Christian & do whatever you want. You're all just a bunch of evolved apelike animals anyway!"

Isn't it amazing how Dr. Lance can know that the men of Sodom were heterosexuals, but ignore Jesus explicitly defending heterosexuality as God-ordained behavior, & using Sodomites as an example of people in serious trouble with God?

I'd expect that kind of lecture from a drugged-up actress, but not from a professor emeritus.

Homosexuality is absolutely bad. No exceptions. It's impossible to justify doing what God detests. But I can't conclude this letter to you, Ms. Lohan, leaving the impression that homosexuals (in behavior or orientation) are bad, sinful people, while heterosexuals are good, sinless people. We're all sinners, & all deserve eternal punishment for a multitude of offenses against God. If you get nothing else out of this message, please know that the Bible records God being against things like homosexuality & adultery, but forgiving repentant homosexuals & adulterers.

Christianity is about mercy & grace: not getting something we do deserve (eternal damnation), & getting something we don't deserve (eternal life). Those are gifts from Jesus Christ to us in exchange for our voluntary faithfulness to Him. God wants that really bad, because it's the one thing that God can't create.

You have a golden opportunity to use your fame, acting talent, & popularity for better or for worse. There will never be another Lindsay Dee Lohan (biologically & spiritually). The next time one of your false friends invites you to a party, please think on these things. I'm not going to advise you to avoid parties; actually, I'm going to encourage you to go, have a great time, & set a standard for people to admire by thinking on these things from the Bible, talking about them, & acting on them.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ... Wisdom crieth aloud; she uttereth her voice in the streets: ... '[W]hoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be secure from fear of evil.'"--Proverbs 1:7,20,33

"For the LORD shall rise up ... and bring to pass His act, His strange act. Now therefore be ye not mockers..."--Isaiah 28:21-22

G.M. Grena