Fr. James Martin: ‘People take the Bible…out of context’ on homosexuality
February 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Bible’s condemnation of homosexual acts should be taken in “context” with Biblical times, Jesuit Father James Martin told Georgetown University students recently.
Martin said as well that Catholics who support gay “marriage” should have no problem considering themselves Catholic, despite having chosen to reject Church teaching.
Martin inferred at his January 31 appearance at the Jesuit school that the Bible’s negative pronouncements on homosexual acts – which are grounded in natural law – are like other Biblical declarations on topics such as the practice of charging interest on a loan. These pronouncements being made during a particular epoch renders them applicable in that given historical context, he said.
Catholics should be invited to “understand the Bible,” he said, and to understand the Bible’s tradition of condemning homosexual acts “within the context of history.”
A young woman had asked Martin how, given the repeated negative scriptural treatment of homosexual activity – “the act of, you know, LGBTQ people,” she called it – Catholics who support gay marriage should reconcile that support when “the Church still isn’t there yet.”
“That’s a good question,” Martin told the young woman, “What do you do with your conscience?”
“I think one of the things to remember is that is one teaching of the Church,” Martin replied, “all right? So I don’t think, for example, that you should say, ‘I cannot be Catholic because I don’t follow that.’”
It seems the Jesuit only addressed the Old Testament’s condemnation of homosexuality. It is condemned in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 6:9, which says: “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Rejecting Church teaching on sexuality not the same as rejecting Church teaching on the Resurrection?
One might be able to say they can’t be Catholic if they don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead, Martin added, contrasting this with a Catholic who is in support of homosexual “marriage.”
Martin went on to say he thought Catholics and others use scripture out of context, especially regarding homosexual acts.
“People take the Bible often out of context, you know, when they’re talking about different teachings from the Bible,” he said. “And they do that in a way that they do for almost no other group.”
Usury, touted by Martin as a teaching that needs to be taken in “context,” was defined during Old Testament times as the simple charging of interest, and the meaning of which has changed throughout history. The Church’s condemnation of usury today pertains to an unethical or immoral loan that fails to recognize the humanity of the borrower.
“I mean, it’s pretty clear the Bible’s against usury,” Martin told the Georgetown audience. “But we’re okay with that now, because we say, “Well, we have to understand that in context.”
“So I think part of it is inviting Catholics to understand the Bible, uh, and to understand that tradition within the context of history,” he added.
Martin continued his response to the young woman by citing excerpts of an open letter written decades ago to marriage and family counselor and commentator Dr. Laura Schlessinger in answer to Schlessinger having cited Leviticus as condemning homosexuality.
The premise of the letter to Schlessinger – which Martin said he frequently uses – was to poke fun at literal interpretations of the Bible by attempting to equate homosexual acts with things prohibited by old Jewish law that are considered ordinary today. Martin listed things from the letter like working on the Sabbath or wearing garments containing different types of thread, and then read on as it proposes extreme Biblical responses to these now commonplace actions, including stoning or otherwise putting someone to death.
Martin’s presentation of the letter to Schlessinger successfully yielded amusement from his Georgetown audience.
“It’s good to laugh,” Martin stated, “because people use the homosexuality texts in that way, without any historical context.”
“So that’s context,” he continued. “I think we need context.”
Fr. Martin praises ‘very, very progressive and welcoming’ pro-gay parish group
Martin's appearance at Georgetown was the subject of a video commentary by Joseph Sciambra, a Catholic who after years of being immersed in the homosexual culture, left, returned to Christ and the Catholic Church, and now ministers to others in the areas of pornography, homosexuality, and the occult.
Sciambra conducts his ministry through writing and social media, and by personally performing regular outreach in the heart of the gay culture. His message to gays is that God loves them, and that they don’t have to remain in the culture.
Sciambra covered Martin’s Georgetown University appearance in a video titled, “James Martin – The Bible is okay with gay sex.”
He has a large social media following, where he frequently communicates his backing for LGBT issues. Critics say his statements in apparent support of normalizing homosexual activity put people with same-sex attraction at risk of losing salvation.
His presentation last month at Georgetown was titled, “Building a Bridge - Welcoming the LGBT Catholic With Justice.”
The book was based upon Martin’s acceptance speech for receiving an award in November 2016 from New Ways Ministry, a pro-gay group that has been condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the U.S. Catholic bishops.
During his Georgetown, talk Martin repeated his contention that the language in the Church’s catechism defining homosexual inclinations as “objectively disordered” and intrinsically disordered should be “updated.”
He cited opposition to the catechism’s language from a mother whose 14-year-old already self-identifies as gay and was worried the language could “destroy” him.
He also cited Cardinal Christophe Schonborn for having praised same-sex unions during the 2015 Ordinary Synod on the Family, and spoke admirably of Schonborn for overruling one his priests who had prohibited a man in a same-sex union from sitting on his parish council.
Martin told his Georgetown audience that LGBT issues are pro-life issues.
“Guess what,” he said. “LGBT issues are life issues, right? They’re life issues that should matter to the Church, because the Church is pro-life.”
And, Martin commended the “flourishing” “Out at St. Paul” LGBT program at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in New York City, which he explained he lives next to, saying the parish “very, very progressive and very welcoming.”
In his video Sciambra countered Martin’s assertion regarding Biblical condemnation of homosexuality by quoting the 1986 Vatican document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:
An essential dimension of authentic pastoral care is the identification of causes of confusion regarding the Church's teaching. One is a new exegesis of Sacred Scripture which claims variously that Scripture has nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality, or that it somehow tacitly approves of it, or that all of its moral injunctions are so culture-bound that they are no longer applicable to contemporary life. These views are gravely erroneous …