Friday, July 31, 2015

Can we Learn Anything from History?

Some believe that history doesn’t teach us any lessons. At a round table discussion with a group of secularists, I asked:

  • Do you think we can learn from the past? Can we apply the lessons of yesterday to today and to the future? Can they instruct us to build a better world?
Almost all proclaimed that this was a new day – a New Age – and, therefore, the lessons of the past no longer applied.

Their answer was shocking. I had worked for the New York City Department of Probation for 15 years. There was an underlying assumption that the past would tell us a lot about the future. Therefore, when we wrote a report to the court, we always included a copy of the Rap Sheet, which recorded the perp’s criminal history, assuming that the past said a lot about one’s present legal entanglements and his future.

However, progressives seem to be unwilling to regard these lessons. Why? Jason Morgan calls it “the pathology of pride”:

  • Most of today’s intellectuals are still lost in this present progressive tense, deaf to the subtle tones that ought to modulate their voices from behind. They dismiss all who came before them, rejecting whatever wisdom our ancestors might have won through hard trial and costly error. They want the future now, and will not let any notes of caution dissuade them from their project. (Salvo Mag., #33, 12)
This is most apparent in the area of human sexuality. Morgan writes:

  • Gender Studies departments assure us that there are no differences in sex, only in gender indoctrination. Our bodies seem to indicate otherwise, but dual sexuality is so last century. (13)
Do these departments provide any historical justifications for their bizarre proclamations? No! In fact, they overlook all of the historic lessons, which point to the contrary. These same departments had claimed that traditional values and family had enslaved wives, depriving them of sexual fulfillment. However, studies have shown the exact opposite thing:

  • Women without religious affiliation were the least likely to report always having an orgasm with their primary partner – only one in five … Protestant women who reported always having an orgasm [had] the highest [percentage], at nearly one-third. In general, having a religious affiliation was associated with higher rates of orgasm for women. (The Social Organization of Sexuality, 115; quoted by Salvo, Spring 2013, 35)
This is consistent with previous studies. A Redbook Magazine survey of 1970 found that:

  • The more religious a woman is, the more likely she is “to be orgasmic almost every time she engages in sex.” Conversely, irreligious women tended to be the least satisfied with the quality and quantity of their intercourse. (35)
Writing for USA Today, William R. Mattox:

  • Suggested that “church ladies tend to be free from the guilt associated with violating one’s own sexual standards” – a factor that a University of Connecticut study found to hinder sexual satisfaction among unmarried college students. 
Are the gender studies people creating a better society? The evidence would not suggest so. According to Brian Fitzpatrick, the most “definitive work on the rise and fall of civilizations, was published in 1934 by Oxford anthropologist J.D. Unwin”:

  • In Sex and Culture, Unwin studied 86 human civilizations ranging from tiny South Sea island principalities to mighty Rome. He found that a society’s destiny is linked inseparably to the limits it imposes on sexual expression and that those sexual constraints correlate directly to its theological sophistication and religious commitment.
  • Unwin noted that the most primitive societies had only rudimentary spiritual beliefs and virtually no restrictions on sexual expression, whereas societies with more sophisticated theologies placed greater restrictions on sexual expression and achieved greater social development.
  • In particular, cultures that adopt what Unwin dubbed “absolute monogamy” proved to be the most vigorous, economically productive, artistically creative, scientifically innovative, and geographically expansive societies on earth. Absolute monogamy is a very strict moral code. Under absolute monogamy, sex can occur only within one-man/ one-woman marriage. Premarital and extramarital sex are not tolerated and divorce is prohibited.
Even from our limited, contemporary perspective on human thriving, we can see how Unwin had been spot-on:

  • According to the Family Research Council… more than half (54 percent of American teens 15-17 years old do not live in a home with their married mother and father. The benefits to children of being raised by their married parents are significant, including higher educational attainments levels, better emotional health, and better self-esteem. Conversely, the risks to teens of not living with a father in the home are notable. Teenage boys are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior, and girls are seven to eight times more likely to experience a teen pregnancy. (Salvo, 19)
Besides, if we regard the stats, the fallout from extramarital sex is horrendous. We can only close our eyes to history at great cost, even in terms of lives.

The French Revolution, which promised freedom, brought a Reign of Terror through their “enlightened” reason. However, the communists were unwilling to learn from this horrible experiment. Morgan writes:

  • Communism, which promised the ultimate in a rationally based society, found, much to their embarrassment, that in order to liberate humanity it was necessary to put tens of millions of its members into an early grave. A clearer view of history might have reminded man of his record of depravity and of the inadvisability of relying on his fallen nature to achieve perfection.
Morgan is not simply concerned about the disregard of history, but he claims that the “pathology of pride” is actively involved in tearing down or revising history to coincide with their narrative:

  • The problem, beyond bad scholarship, is that young people flock to these madhouses every year, told by cynical university bureaucrats that they need to learn contempt for their own tradition if they want to get a well-paying job. Professors are being paid to take battle-axes to the roots of Western civilization.
In such a repressive climate, even conservative professors are afraid to come to the defense of Western Civilization. Oddly, commendation for the Christian West is more likely to come from Muslims turned atheists. Pakistani former-Muslim, Ibn Warraq, has written:

  • The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy—are superior to any others devised by humankind. It was the West that took steps to abolish slavery; the calls for abolition did not resonate even in Africa, where rival tribes sold black prisoners into slavery. The West has secured freedoms for women and racial and other minorities to an extent unimaginable 60 years ago. The West recognizes and defends the rights of the individual: we are free to think what we want, to read what we want, to practice our religion, to live lives of our choosing.
  • In short, the glory of the West, as philosopher Roger Scruton puts it, is that life here is an open book. Under Islam, the book is closed. In many non-Western countries, especially Islamic ones, citizens are not free to read what they wish. In Saudi Arabia, Muslims are not free to convert to Christianity, and Christians are not free to practice their faith—clear violations of Article 18 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • The edifice of modern science and scientific method is one of Western man’s greatest gifts to the world. The West has given us not only nearly every scientific discovery of the last 500 years—from electricity to computers—but also, thanks to its humanitarian impulses, the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. The West provides the bulk of aid to beleaguered Darfur; Islamic countries are conspicuous by their lack of assistance.
  • Moreover, other parts of the world recognize Western superiority. When other societies such as South Korea and Japan have adopted Western political principles, their citizens have flourished. It is to the West, not to Saudi Arabia or Iran, that millions of refugees from theocratic or other totalitarian regimes flee, seeking tolerance and political freedom. Nor would any Western politician be able to get away with the anti-Semitic remarks that former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad made in 2003. Our excusing Mahathir’s diatribe indicates not only a double standard but also a tacit acknowledgment that we apply higher ethical standards to Western leaders.
  • Nor does the West need lectures on the superior virtue of societies in which women are kept in subjection under sharia, endure genital mutilation, are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and are married off against their will at the age of nine; societies that deny the rights of supposedly lower castes; societies that execute homosexuals and apostates. The West has no use for sanctimonious homilies from societies that cannot provide clean drinking water or sewage systems, that make no provisions for the handicapped, and that leave 40 to 50 percent of their citizens illiterate.
Another Muslim-turned-atheist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, also speaks highly of the Christian West, in a way the Western scholars would not dare to:

  • The Christianity of love and tolerance remains one of the West’s most powerful antidotes to the Islam of hate and intolerance. Ex-Muslims find Jesus Christ to be a more attractive and humane figure than Muhammad, the founder of Islam. 
These are willing to listen to history, as any rational person would. A good farmer once told me:

  • If you want to grow corn, find the farmer who always has a good stand of corn, and ask him how he does it. 
His advice was unimpeachable. However, I had asked my secular associates a similar question - if we could learn anything from the principles that had made the USA wildly successful. They were even appalled at my question.


As a panelist at a conference on racism, Shelby Steele was asked what an ideal America would look like. He writes:

  • I said that what I wanted most for America was an end to white guilt... the terror of being seen as racist— [the] terror that has caused whites to act guiltily toward minorities even when they feel no actual guilt. My point was that this terror— and the lust it has inspired in whites to show themselves innocent of racism— has spawned a new white paternalism toward minorities since the 1960s that, among other things, has damaged the black family more profoundly than segregation ever did. I also pleaded especially for an end to the condescension of affirmative action... the benevolent paternalism of white guilt, I said, had injured the self- esteem, if not the souls, of minorities in ways that the malevolent paternalism of white racism never had. Post- 1960s welfare policies, the proliferation of “identity politics” and group preferences, and all the grandiose social interventions of the War on Poverty and the Great Society— all this was meant to redeem the nation from its bigoted past, but paradoxically, it also invited minorities to make an identity and a politics out of grievance and inferiority... their entitlement and that protest politics was the best way to cash in on that entitlement. (Shame: How America's Past Sins have Polarized the Country)
Steele believes that white guilt is now more destructive to the Black community than white racism. He argues that the very programs intended to help Blacks were not simply ineffective but actually damaged the Black community:

  • White guilt was a smothering and distracting kindness that enmeshed minorities more in the struggle for white redemption than in their own struggle to develop as individuals capable of competing with all others.
White guilt expresses itself in many destructive ways. It places all of the guilt for the present-day Black problems on white racism. Consequently, the Blacks are given a free moral pass. But this freedom from blame and conscience is a bondage that perpetuates a blame mentality, dependency, and the resulting criminality. Instead of bringing the races together, it has further polarized them. It also disdains those whites who want to treat their Black brethren as equals.

According to Steele, white guilt and the “benevolent paternalism” of “affirmative action… has injured the self- esteem, if not the souls, of minorities.”

Surprisingly, pastors are now recommending a form of affirmative action for the church. One stated that if we want to achieve racial reconciliation, it is not enough to simply embrace other races. Rather, the white church should be installing people of color into positions of leadership.

Although race should never bar anyone from leadership, it also should not promote anyone into church leadership. This is no more than a continuation of racial politics, which has never brought healing. Instead of promoting in a color-blind manner, racial quotas are the answer, a failed answer. However, the ideal of M.L. King and even the Bible is different. It depends on brotherhood and not race, on dealing with the present and not the past. Jesus had prayed:

  • "That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23)  
Let this be our prayer also! The unity we so desire will not be brought about by racial quotas but by Christian love.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Is it Possible to be Theologically Certain?

Uncertainty has become a reigning virtue. Sandy Ikeda is a professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY. Understandably, he is troubled by the religious and sectarian violence perpetrated by those who are certain that they are right:

  • Today in the Ukraine, in Gaza and Israel, in Syria, in South Sudan, and in far too many other places around the world, deadly violence ruins lives and sickens the heart.
And the violence should sicken the heart. However, he identifies certainty as one of the contributing problems:

  • For what it’s worth, in my religious tradition there’s a saying:  Nothing is what you think it is. Because of the narrowness and limits of our perceptions, there’s an inevitable disconnect between what we think we know about the world and the way things actually are, between what we see and what is actually the case. That, of course, causes problems. But it gets much worse if we refuse even to acknowledge that the disjunction exists, and if we cling to the belief that in at least some part of our belief system we are absolutely, unshakably right. The more certain we feel about what we know, and the more we think we’re certain about, the worse it gets. 
Certainly, certainty about things that don't warrant our certainty - certainty about falsehoods, for example - is a problem. However, we should not make the mistake of rejecting all forms of certainty because of the dangers of only some kinds of certainty. In fact, only by having certainty can we reject the dangerous varieties of certainty. (We must be certain to reject ISIS and “racial cleansing.”) For example, without the certainty about the goodness of truth, love, and justice, we cannot say that genocide is absolutely wrong. Nor will we be able to take meaningful action against it!

To lack any degree of certainty narrows and degrades our lives. It condemns our necessary decision-making to a matter of merely how we feel.

To illustrate this - if you are mugged, should you go to the police? It depends upon what you believe about justice and human culpability. If you do not known what to believe about justice and objective moral guilt, you will have no certainty about what action to take. Instead, your uncertainty will leave you in a confused state and your neighbors in a vulnerable condition with a mugger running free.

Of course, there are many areas of legitimate uncertainty - what will happen to me and how others will respond to me - but this shouldn't mean that the entirety of our lives must be buried in uncertainty!

Although I had been plagued for years by doubts about the existence of God and whether He really loved, I am glad that I never resigned myself to the belief that certainty about these questions was not possible. When we aren’t confident that we are loved by God, we crave the love and approval of others, even to the point of resenting them when we don’t receive their unqualified approval.

Instead, certainty about the Gospel of Christ is of the highest importance. In fact, this was the central issue of John's letter to the church:

  • We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: (1 John 2:3-5)
One way that we can KNOW that we are in Him is by whether or not we endeavor to keep His commandments.

Meanwhile, many of the Emergent or Postmodern Church insist that certainty about God – theological certainty - is not possible. Pastor Brian McLaren reflects this skepticism He claims that, among other things, we cannot ever be certain about our interpretation of Scripture:

  • How do “I” know the Bible is always right? And if “I” am sophisticated enough to realize that I know nothing of the Bible without my own involvement via interpretation, I’ll also ask how I know which school, method, or technique of biblical interpretation is right. What makes a “good” interpretation good? And if an appeal is made to a written standard (book, doctrinal statement, etc.) or to common sense or to “scholarly principles of interpretation,” the same pesky “I” who liberated us from the authority of the church will ask, “Who sets the standard? Whose common sense? Which scholars and why? Don’t all these appeals to authorities and principles outside the Bible actually undermine the claim of ultimate biblical authority? Aren’t they just the new pope
McLaren inflates the problems of interpretation, claiming that he is certain that we can’t really interpret Scripture with any degree of certainty without first having a proven method of interpretation. (While he denies that we cannot be certain, his many books declare that he is certain about a number of things!)

However, a little common sense plus a handful of experience might shed some light on this “problem” of acquiring certainty.  We engage in easy-to-understand conversations all the time, without a proven system of interpretation. When I ask the attendant to pump me $20 of “regular,” he knows exactly what to do. No confusion; no need for a proven method of interpretation! Why should it be any different when interpreting the Bible?

When I read the “50 mph hour” speed limit sign on the highway, I’d like to believe that it means “65 mph.” However, I know what it means. In fact, this interpretation is further corroborated when the highway patrol tickets me for doing “65.” Interpretation doesn’t pose any significant problems, except for those who are trying to derive an interpretation which the text cannot support.

Likewise, we have numerous ways to corroborate our interpretation of Scripture. Any one verse has many corroborating verses. We call this “Scripture interpreting Scripture.” Of course, some passages can be difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:15), but this doesn’t mean that much of it isn’t quite plain. Besides, we have many aids – pastors, teachers, commentaries, concordances - to help us understand.

Scripture was also written to be understood. Therefore, Paul instructed that his epistles be taken to many churches to be read. Never did Paul insist that a Doctor of Theology be present to provide the definitive interpretation.

There was never any indication that any of the Apostles ever suggested that their listeners first required a proven system of interpretation before they could understand the teachings of the Apostles. Had McLaren instead written that much of Scripture presents us with interpretative difficulties, many of us would agree. However, he is skeptical about all interpretations of Scripture. If only he was equally skeptical about his own conclusions!

Today, it has become fashionable to believe that we cannot be sure of anything regarding the biblical faith, perhaps apart from the requirement to love. McLaren rhetorically asks, “How do ‘I’ know the Bible is always right?” suggesting that none of us can know. One noted theologian wrote:

  • Any worldview—atheist, Islamic, Jewish, Christian or whatever—ultimately depends on assumptions that cannot be proved. Every house is built on foundations, and the foundations of worldviews are not ultimately capable of being proved in every respect. Everyone who believes anything significant or worthwhile about the meaning of life does so as a matter of faith. We’re all in the same boat.
However, such a stance is logically self-defeating. If it is true that we believe as we do simply based on blind and baseless faith, then this above statement is also a matter of blind faith, and therefore it disqualifies itself.

More importantly, the Bible disqualifies uncertainty! Many verses contend that the evidence serves as an incontestable basis for an assured faith:

  • Then the LORD said to Moses: "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them (Numbers 14:11)?
According to God, there was no excuse for Israel’s uncertainty and unbelief. He made certain truths, like the resurrection, abundantly certain:

  • After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
God does not tell His people to “just believe.” Instead He has provided many unassailable proofs for the faith. This doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle with doubts and uncertainties. Nor does it mean that these struggles are opposed to the faith and must be suppressed. Nor does it mean that God cannot bring great good out of such struggles. He certainty does!

However, the Emergent, Postmodern skeptical Church places too much emphasis on the journey and the search and minimal emphasis on the object or the goal of the search – certainty and assurance regarding biblical truths. Emergents normalize and idealize the journey at the expense of the cognitive rest and assurance at the end of the journey. They even claim that assurance is only possible for those who do not think deeply about things.

Faith had been such a struggle for me – someone weak in faith and rich in skepticism. It tormented me that I couldn’t find peace in believing, which others seemed to have found. I therefore would have welcomed the Emergent message that certainty isn’t possible. It would have given me a sense of peace in knowing that I was okay and not a “Christian” misfit. Fortunately, I found little encouragement that skepticism would be my ultimate resting place, the goal of my searching.

Instead, I learned that joyously living the Christian life is not possible without a high degree of certainty. I needed to know that God loved me with a love that transcended understanding (Eph. 3:16-19) and that He had forgiven and cleansed me from all of my sins. I needed the God-confidence often mentioned in Scripture:

  • Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22) 
We require confidence in order to draw close to our Savior and to know that He has drawn close to us. As long as I doubted His love, I could not feel grateful towards Him. Instead, I felt contempt for Him, not knowing with certainty that He truly loved me.  And whenever I felt condemned by my feelings, I felt that God was also condemning me. I needed to know that He wasn’t condemning me and that my feelings were only that –feelings. And that is the very place where Scripture comforted me:

  • Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1)
I needed to be confident about this, since overwhelming feelings were telling me that I was under condemnation. I therefore can totally embrace Paul’s prayer for the church:

  • I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17-19)
Having the knowledge of God and His love for us isn’t an option. Without this knowledge, we will not be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Without this confidence, we will not be able to persevere:

  • So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Heb. 10:35-36; Jer. 7:7)
Without confidence in the promises of God, I wasn’t able to persevere. Even having this confidence, I struggle. However, without it, I couldn’t even begin to struggle.

Paul associated rejoicing with knowing:

  • We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance. (Rom. 5:3)
Without this knowledge - this confidence - we cannot glory in suffering. We can only glory in the midst of suffering because we are confident that God has a glorious purpose for it (Rom. 8:28). Lacking this confidence, I suffered additionally from obsessive and crippling ruminations.

Doubting Thomas would have told the skeptics something about certainty. He doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead until Jesus visited him and showed him the wounds in His hands and side John 20). Then, he worshipped Christ with all the certainty in the world.

This lesson is very simple - Our Lord can easily remove doubt and provide certainty. This lesson about the need for theological certainty is also vital to our lives. It was only with this certainty that Thomas was enabled to carry the Gospel to far-off India and to his eventual martyrdom.


In a New York Times editorial, Push Within Religions for Gay Marriage Gets Little Attention, Samuel Freedman cites several who attempt to biblically defend SSM.

  • “Dignity, the high value of each individual person, their immeasurable value, their sacred value, is in its roots a Christian value,” said the Rev. David P. Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. “Dignity language is a widely used cognate for the idea that every person is made in God’s image and is sacred for that reason."
Does the fact that we all have an inherent dignity and worth, having been created in the image of God, justify SSM? If it does, then this image can also be appealed to to justify any number of behaviors and institutions like adultery, pedophilia, polyamory, incest, bestiality and even murder. Instead, it is because we have inherent dignity that we shouldn't defile it by sinning.

While bearing the image of God dignifies all human beings, it certainly does not dignify all behaviors.

Freedman then cites Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig's argumentation in support of SSM:

  • "Religious arguments in support of marriage equality matter because religious arguments have long been used against not only marriage equality but also against gay people’s very right to love and even to live.”
If gays have a right to marry, from where does it come. Certainly not from God! There is not a single verse in the Bible or in the writings of any major religion giving even the slightest support for SSM.

While a nation may grant SSM - and some Western nations have done so - this doesn't address the issue of whether gays have an intrinsic right to SSM or whether nations have a moral obligation to legally provide SSM.

Can SSM be justified pragmatically? Certainly not in terms of the welfare of children! Countless studies have demonstrated that children fare best with two biological parents.

Besides, in view of the high incidence of STDs, substance abuse, mental health issues, suicide, and greatly abbreviated lifespans among gays, pragmatism should argue against gay adoption and even SSM.

Wenig mentions, "gay people’s very right to love" who they want. Should society stand in judgment over this by regulating our relationships? Perhaps not, but this is not the issue. Even before the Supreme Court decision, gays could freely affiliate with whomever.

Instead, SSM is about coercing the nation to endorse the gay lifestyle and is not about who they can live with. Instead, SSM has been about:

1. Training children that this highly destructive lifestyle is a reasonable option.
2. Penalizing any who disagree, even to the point of losing their business, employment or even their freedom if they refuse to pay highly exorbitant fines.
3. Undermining First Amendment guaranteed rights.
4. Placing children in jeopardy.

Freedman then cites a Dr. Hendricks:

  • "The virulent opposition [against SSM] can’t be sustained by an informed reading of the [biblical] text,” said Dr. Hendricks, who is now a visiting scholar in the religion department at Columbia University. “The opposition to homosexuality has a basis in culture that’s masquerading as religion. The textual evidence is ambiguous, at best. So the role of Bible scholars who support marriage equality is to show that there’s no biblical reason to oppress gay people. They are children of God.”
It is not a matter of "oppressing gay people," as this inflammatory language claims. Rather, it's a matter of legalizing a lifestyle and an institution that has repeatedly been shown to be highly self-destructive.

More importantly, is the biblical text "ambiguous" in regards to homosexuality? Hardly! Kevin DeYoung has written:

  • Even many revisionist scholars acknowledge that the Bible is uniformly negative toward same-sex activity. The gay Dutch scholar Pim Pronk, after admitting that many Christians are eager to see homosexuality supported by the Bible, states plainly, “In this case that support is lacking.”[2] Although he doesn’t think moral positions must be dependent on the Bible (which is why he can support homosexual behavior), as a scholar he recognizes that “wherever homosexual intercourse is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned. … Rejection is a foregone conclusion; the assessment of it nowhere constitutes a problem.”[3] Pronk recognizes that wherever the Bible speaks on this issue, it speaks with one voice. Likewise, Dan O. Via, in arguing for the revisionist view opposite Robert Gagnon, acknowledges, “Professor Gagnon and I are in substantial agreement that the biblical texts that deal specifically with homosexual practice condemn it unconditionally.”[4] No positive argument for homosexuality can be made from the Bible, only arguments that texts don’t mean what they seem to mean, and that specific texts can be overridden by other considerations.
If the Bible had been ambiguous on the subject of homosexuality, these pro-gay scholars would have also claimed that the Bible is ambiguous, but honesty prevented them from resorting to such an unsupportable argument.