Love and the Mind
We are wired for love. We are created in the image of a God who is love (Genesis 1, 2; 1 John 4:8). Our brain and body respond to love; when we think and act with tenderness, compassion, caring, grace, patience, self-control, we change our brains in a positive direction, which impacts our health the health of the world around us (Philippians 4:8). When we choose to love our neighbours as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31), we truly bring heaven to earth (Matthew 6:10), reflecting the glory of God into the world.
The bible emphasises love above all things. The way you treat the people in your life is a reflection of the way you view God’s precious creation, and hence the way you view the Creator. Love should always be our first, and last, response to every single person we come into contact with—this kind of love is the key to peak happiness, thinking and health.
Homosexuality is, in comparison, spoken of sparingly in the bible. In both the Old and New Testaments, for instance, same-sex relationships are discussed within specific scenarios, within the context of their respective socio-cultural environments. As it is a sign of respect for the word of God to take each verse in context, we read scripture, as far as possible, according to the intentions of the author. These intentions cannot just be transplanted into life in the 21st century. Indeed, such judgements are not only unfair, but also against Jesus’ admonition to “judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1-3). As former president Jimmy Carter said, “I never knew of any word or action of Jesus Christ that discriminated against anyone.” We do not believe in commenting on the state of someone’s soul based off the sex of their partner, since the bible does not comment on loving relationships between people of the same sex.
Neuroscience, moreover, does not offer a black and white solution to religious questions concerning sexuality. Our minds change our brains—every thought we have impacts the structure of our brains, bodies and lives. Sexuality, like the way we think and process information, is unique to each individual, even though we have the same hormones and organs. As Oxford philosopher, theologian and priest Keith Ward notes, sexuality “covers a wide range of possibilities.” There is no “gay love” or “straight love.” There is just love, or the lack of love, in a relationship, whether it is between people of the same sex or people of different sexes.
Likewise, homosexual conversion therapies are not only ineffective and unscientific, but inhumane, just as it is inhumane to demand that individuals who are homosexual should deny themselves the satisfaction and joy of a loving relationship. One thing can be said for certain: when we act and react in love, we step into our perfect selves, and allow others to be who they were created to be as well.
We as an organization think, from both personal and professional experience, that healthy same-sex relationships are possible, and capable of reflecting the love of God into the world. The key to a healthy relationship is not whether one person is a male or one person is a female, but how two people in a relationship treat each other and the world around them (Dr. Leaf discusses more about relationships in her books The Perfect You: A Blueprint for Identity and Who Switched off Your Brain: the Mystery of He Said/She Said).
As followers of the Messiah we believe that all relationships should be “governed by the principle of Christian personalism, the use of the body in all its activities to be an expression of the distinctively human excellences of mind and spirit,” not the misappropriation of ancient notions of gender, sexuality and procreation. If both the mind and spirit are directed by unconditional love for one’s partner, the relationship will reflect God’s glory into the world—it will be an example of “human excellence.”
We wholeheartedly believe that love is the answer to all questions. We should never stop reminding ourselves that we are wired for love. We are created to share our personhood with those we are in relationship with and the world around us. Any relationship that consumes another person (whether it is homosexual, heterosexual or asexual), or when one person desires the other person simply for their own satisfaction, is toxic and will damage the mental and physical health of both individuals in this relationship. Like Jesus said many times, it comes down to what is in our hearts: why do we do what we do?
If you or a loved one is struggling with the notion of sexuality or your sexual identity, please see the following resources:
 William Loader, The New Testament on Sexuality (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012), 22-32, 37-53, 83-108, 293-338; William Loader, Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes Towards Sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2013); William Loader, “Homosexuality and the Bible,” in Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church, eds Preston Sprinkle and Stanley N. Gundry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 17-48; Megan DeFranza, “Journeying from the Bible to Christian Ethics in Search of Common Ground,” in Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church, eds Preston Sprinkle and Stanley N. Gundry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 69-101; Megan DeFranza, Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015).
Sexuality and the Bible
Homosexuality is perhaps one of the most debated issues among Christians today. But what does the bible say about same-sex relationships? Below is a list of several of the main scriptures concerning homosexuality, alongside several interpretations to discuss with your friends and loved ones. These interpretations are by no means exclusive, or the only meaning of the verse. The bible, like Shakespeare, is a profound piece of literature made up of many books, many authors and written over many years. It would take a number of lifetimes to explore the significance of every verse, passage, book and story.
Indeed, it is important to remember that we all see the world differently, hence the word “interpretations”. The bible does not just offer us a black and white picture of the world. We read and understand the bible through the lens of our worldview: who we are and what we have experienced. That is not to say that we can just take each verse and say what we want to say about us. As far as possible, we need read the various books of the bible within the socio-cultural and theological frameworks of the historical period they were written in, paying close attention to the linguistic nuances of the authors. Like any scholar, the more we read about the history of the bible, the more we can understand and apply what the bible is saying. If we do not understand the context of each verse, it is too easy to take these verses and make it say what we want to hear, much like Hitler and the Nazis did during the Second World War.
Nevertheless, as any good historian will acknowledge, the past requires a good dose of “exact imagination.” With thorough scholarship, respect for the text and civility, we can navigate the often-perilous road between the “exact” (what happened) and “imagination” (what is said to have happened). It is not easy, but it certainly is rewarding.
Most importantly, we ought to remember than the bible is all about relationships. It is often easy to discuss verses on paper, but real life is always more complicated…a.k.a. messy. And the bible is, first and foremost, a book about real life. Its emphasis on love should always be honoured, regardless of our personal feelings or opinions. God, after all, is love (1 John 4:8).
1. The Creation Account
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1: 27, NRSV
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the manthere was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. – Genesis 2:18-24, NRSV
The creation account is a story that explains the origin of mankind. Consequently, the author of the account emphasized the procreative power of humanity (“be fruitful and multiply”) through the union between Adam and Eve, man and woman. This union does not necessarily preclude loving, monogamous relationships between two people of the same sex in today’s world. It is a story of how the world began, not a list of what human beings should and shouldn’t do.
Moreover, the creation account leaves out a number of living things that do not fit into two neat categories. For instance, Genesis 1 and 2 do not mention rivers or dams, which are on land yet separated from the oceans, or dusk and dawn, which blur the boundaries between night and day, or amphibians, which inhabit both land and the sea. Few Christians would argue that rivers, dawn or frogs are the result of Adam and Eve’s choice to eat the forbidden fruit. Similarly, human beings that do not fit into the neat categories of male or female are not a “sin” or the result of a world gone awry. They just do not have a place in the overarching poetic structure of the creation account—Genesis 1 or 2 is not a literalistic, “exhaustive catalogue” of the beginning of time.
Indeed, Adam and Eve, as man and woman, do not necessarily represent God’s “best” creation, but the “beginning” of creation. They are the “parents,” not inevitably the “prototypes.” There is a significant difference between these two interpretations: the way we view the creation account can have a profound effect on the way we regard creation.
2. Sodom and Gomorrah
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and bowed down with his face to the ground. He said, “Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you can rise early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the square.” But he urged them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.” Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they replied, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and he would play the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near the door to break it down. But the men inside reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the door of the house, both small and great, so that they were unable to find the door. - Genesis 19: 1-11, NRSV
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is often quoted as “proof” that same-sex relationships are a sin, period. But the actual story is far more complicated, and thought-provoking, than a ban on one type of physical relationship. It is a story about the consequences of breaking the sacred bond of hospitality—in a world of strangers, this bond was often the difference between life and death.
Sodom and Gomorrah is also, notably, a story about greed: the consumption of living things for the sake of one’s pleasure, regardless of the consequences. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to use the angels for their own sexual pleasure; their desire to rape was, without question, “wicked.” Yet, as Jeffrey S. Silker noted, “David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba does not make all heterosexual expressions sinful.” Likewise, the desire to rape in Genesis 19 does not mean that all types of same-sex relationships are evil—to make such an argument is both illogical and inhumane.
Rather than using this story as a call to ban or prevent gay marriage, we should use this story to teach our children what marriage, or any type of relationship, should look like: love should be at the center of every one of our thoughts, words and interactions, because we are wired for love. Indeed, both the significance of hospitality and danger of greed highlight the importance of a society centred around Jesus’ command to “love thy neighbor”—a message we, as a global community, should take to heart. We should teach our children what it means to love one another, not what it means to condemn or hate.
3. The Holiness Code [purity laws]
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. -Leviticus 18:22, NRSV
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. -Leviticus 20:13, NRSV
Leviticus does call homosexuality an “abomination.” These particular verses, however, should not be taken at face-value, since the same is said of people who eat pork (Leviticus 11:7) or shellfish (Leviticus 11:9-12), or charge interest on loans (Leviticus 25:36), for instance. Similarly, Deuteronomy does not allow a man with deformed or damaged genitals to worship God amongst his peers (23:1). Should we call every person who works in a bank, likes Thai curry or wants a bacon and egg sandwich an abomination? Should we ban men with “crushed” genitals from worshipping God in church (notwithstanding the logistics of trying to figure out whether or not their genitals are actually deformed)?
As the apostle Paul noted, the laws were given for a specific reason, at a specific time, in Israel’s history (Galatians 3:23-26). With the Messiah, the “training wheels” of the law were no longer needed; things had changed. Now, for instance, divorce was no longer allowed under Jesus (Matthew 19: 3-12), whereas the law allowed men to divorce their wives (Deuteronomy 24). Thus, we cannot simply “copy and paste” the Israelite laws into the New Testament, let alone our own times.
It is also important to remember that the Israelite nation was, at this time, in its infancy—things just got started with Lot’s uncle, Abraham. The Israelites had to develop their own unique identity vis-à-vis their neighbors; the laws that governed every aspect of their life set them apart as a people.
Indeed, procreation was incredibly important for the sake of the nation’s survival. In this context, it would make sense to emphasize the ability of a couple to procreate. i.e. a man and woman. When Moses died, for example, he was said to still have his “moisture.” In effect, he could still “get it up” and make healthy Israelite babies. The author’s emphasis on Moses’ virility highlights the importance of procreation for a nation that was trying to make its mark on the world, which was no easy task when the Israelites were surrounded by their enemies.
Moreover, the actual translation of 18:22 is tricky. “Lie with” in the Hebrew can mean also mean “lie in”; the meaning of the verse is unclear. Nevertheless, if we do take it to mean a same-sex relationship, this law needs to be understood within the context of gender relations in both the Old and New Testament. Women were, by and large, seen as inferior at the time. Thus many rabbis and famous Jewish authors like Philo of Alexandria decried same-sex relationships because a man made himself “like a woman,” which was shameful and socially disruptive. Needless to say, we no longer think women are inferior to men, and cannot use these types of gendered arguments to outright condemn homosexuality.
Rather just prohibiting specific behaviors, we should focus on why behind the how. Our brains, after all, are made to think critically! Instead of obsessing over specific behaviours, we should ask ourselves what the purpose of behaving in this or that way was. Throughout the Old Testament laws we see a strong emphasis on people who love their neighbors, care for all living things, and treat their own person with respect.
4. Jesus on Marriage
Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” – Matthew 19: 3-12, NRSV
In recent years, a number of non-affirming Christians have used Matthew 19 as “proof” that gay marriage is a sin and should not be legalized, since marriage is only between a man and a woman. Of course, they tend to skim over the part about divorce, since such a severe stance would open more than one can of worms in the Church, so to speak. If the modern Church accepts divorced people into the congregation with grace and love, remarrying them notwithstanding Jesus’ admonitions, it certainly is hypocritical to deny members of the LGTBQI (lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, queer or questioning and intersex individuals) community a place in the Church. After all, even Jesus said “not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given.”
And Jesus wasn’t talking about same-sex relationships. He was talking about Genesis, referencing the creation account while quoting “therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” As mentioned above, the creation account of man and woman does not automatically mean that same-sex relationships are a result of the fall, since the creation account is not necessarily a scientific document on the sexuality of mankind.
Moreover, the fact that men and women complement each other and are able to procreate does not necessarily mean that same-sex unions are outside of God’s plan for creation. Are heterosexual couples who decide not to have children, or cannot have children, an example of the fall of mankind, since God commanded that we “be fruitful and multiply”? Are homosexual couples outside of God’s will for the world, if most couples are heterosexual? The “argument from majority” alone is specious. Just because most people do something or act in a certain way, does not necessarily mean that this is “the way things should be.”
It is also important to note that Jesus goes on to discuss eunuchs in the following verses. “Eunuchs from birth” references the Jewish laws regarding intersex individuals (born as neither fully male nor female), known as “eunuchs of the sun” (saris khama), since they were that way from the day the sun first shone on them. “Eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others” in all likelihood refers to castrated individuals who were often slaves or servants of important families and rulers, and “eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” likely refers to individuals who gave up sexual relationships and marital bonds in order to follow Jesus as they saw fit. Jesus’ teaching, referencing the prophet Isaiah on eunuchs (Isaiah 56:3-7), positively transformed the way these individuals were seen and treated, notwithstanding the ambiguity of their social position. The question is, if ancient (and modern) Jews, many ancient Christians and the Messiah could accept individuals who did not neatly fit into a heterosexual framework, then why can’t we?
5. Paul’s letter to the Romans
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. -Romans 1:18-27, NRSV
This passage is the most detailed account of homosexuality in the New Testament. The larger context of the passage is what happens when men sin, or “miss the mark” or target of a human being made in the image of a loving God. It is important to remember that idolatry is the root of all sin.  When we love something and think about something more than we love and think about God; we become “futile in our thinking”. Sin, after all, “is about relationships, not rules.” For example, if someone loves power more than anything (or has a relationship about power), this power will become their idol, darkening the loving image of God they were meant to reflect into the world. These kinds of people consume the world around them for their own pleasure; they bring hell, not heaven, to earth. Their “degrading passions” devour and destroy them.
Like the Holiness Code in Leviticus, Paul lumps in homosexuality among a number of different categories of pagan (“the other”) behavior—the immoral conduct of people who serve the created (such as sex, power or money) instead of the Creator. Drawing his audience in through familiar categories, he then accuses them of the same behavior in the next chapter (Romans 2:1), highlighting their need for God’s grace and mercy through Jesus. This passage is not about homosexuality; it is a description of sin and the need to redirect our thinking towards Jesus, i.e. to “renew the mind” (see Romans 12:2) and repent (which, in the Greek, means to change one’s mind).
Not only is it hypocritical to use a passage condemning judgment to judge the LGBTQI community, but it is also a misinterpretation of the context of the passage. Paul was condemning Greco-Roman sexual norms such as male prostitution and pederasty, which excluded loving, monogamous same-sex relationships. Like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, it is incredibly important to understand the specific framework of the verse and its socio-cultural background. Exploitative relationships, whether between people of the same sex or of different sexes, are wrong, period. Yet that does not mean loving relationships between two people of the same-sex are also a “sin.”
Furthermore, the passage refers to a number of people who “gave up” relations with the opposite sex, not individuals who have never experienced any attraction for the opposite sex. In fact, within the context of the verse, the plural indicates that both men and women were engaging in some kind of orgy, sleeping with anyone and everyone without constraint and in the absence of a relationship. The verse does not comment on loving same-sex relationships. Once again, it is about people who consume other living things for their own pleasure (whether or not Paul was talking about actual orgies, or the idea of orgies). This is the essence of any exploitative relationship and the opposite of true love, which is at its heart selfless.
6. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Timothy
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. -1 Corinthians 6: 9-11, NRSV
This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. -1 Timothy 1: 9-11, NRSV
Like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the vice lists in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Timothy need to be understood within both their historical and biblical contexts. The Greek word arsenokoitai, literally “male-bedder” or “man-bed,” is found in both 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians. It is used rarely in Greco-Roman texts; as a result, its actual meaning is unclear.
However, within the context of both passages, where Paul is talking about a life that rejects love (since God is love), arsenokoitai in all likelihood means the exploitative sexual relationships that characterized much of the Greco-Roman world, which included pederasty, mentioned above, and human sex trafficking. The list of behaviors preceding and following the word refer to specific behaviors that are devoid of truth and an assault on the dignity of human life: murderers, slave traders, liars, perjurers, thieves, gluttons, drunkards, and revilers. No mention is made of loving, consensual same-sex relationships. Assuming that arsenokoitai refers to all types of homosexual relationships misappropriates the ancient letter to justify a certain worldview, which is tenuous, to say the least.
Likewise, in 1 Corinthians, Paul uses the Greek word malakoi, which literally means “soft ones.” In the NRSV it is translated as “male prostitutes,” which may have been enslaved eunuchs who had been castrated as children for the pleasure of their masters. Once again, the Greek word does not, in both the biblical and socio-cultural context of the passage as a whole, refer to loving, consensual same-sex relationships. To read this into the text is to refashion the bible in the image of a particular worldview.
Some people may accuse our organisation of picking and choosing verses that accommodate our affirming position. Yet the irony is that people who accuse affirming Christians of making the bible say what they want it to say is that they often fall prey to their own indictments. I know many Christians who, taking the above scriptures literalistically (as opposed to “literally,” which actually means examining a text according to the context of the time it was written in), ignore verses that command they give up all their possessions to follow Christ, for instance. Isn’t that as good an example of “picking and choosing” as any?
We are not, moreover, compromising our faith for the sake of being “popular.” Unlike the Corinthian church, whose members Paul was reproaching in his letter, we do not believe that “everything goes” and that people can “do whatever they want” because of God’s love and grace (1 Corinthians ). And, like the apostle Paul, we unequivocally condemn any relationship that is destructive, exploitative and abusive, and we wholeheartedly embrace any relationship that is loving, patient, kind, civil, humble, unresentful, trusting, trustworthy, honest, persevering, hopeful, and protective (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
As mentioned above, we all interpret texts through the lens of our worldview. We should acknowledge where we come from and what we see, and, with love, discuss our own findings with our neighbors. Notably, in Hebrew truth, emeth, means “faithful,” implying a relationship. As an organization we believe that, loving relationships come first—it is only when we reach out, in love, that we have any chance of discovering any sort of truth.
Indeed, in our examination of these verses one clear theme does stand out: exploitative relationships, where one person consumes another person or living thing for the sake of their own pleasure, are sinful. This kind of behavior brings hell, not heaven to earth. It is the opposite of love; it is anti-God, who is love, and anti his image, which is stamped onto the heart every human being, regardless of their race, gender, culture or sexual orientation.
*For our specific views on love and the mind, see our FAQ.
*For more information on reading the bible see:
- Rob Bell, What is the Bible?
- N.T. Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God
- Keith Ward, The Word of God?
*For more information on homosexuality and the bible, see our endnotes below.
 N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994), xii-xix
 George Steiner, review of Georges Duby, William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry (New York: Pantheon, 1987) in The New Yorker, May 26, 1986, 104 cited in James Axtell, Beyond 1492: Encounters in Colonial North America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 7.
 Rob Bell, What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2017).
 Justin R. Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality (Self-published, 2012), 27-29; Mark Achemeier, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014), 43-56.
 Megan DeFranza and Lianne Simon, “Male, Female and Intersex in the Image of God - Lianne Simon and Megan DeFranza,” YouTube, 1:34:23, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrS8rXF1OqI&t=2215s ; Megan DeFranza, Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015), 13-20.
 Ibid; John C. Lennox, Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (Grand Rapid: Zondervan, 2011).
 DeFranza and Simon, “Male, Female and Intersex in the Image of God,” 36:41.
 Patrick S. Cheng, “What Was the Real Sin of Sodom?,” HuffPost, May 25, 2011, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-patrick-s-cheng-phd/what-was-the-real-sin-of_b_543996.html; Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 11-13; Kimberly Knight, “Yo Pat, the Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was NOT About Homosexuality,” Patheos, June 28, 2013, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/2013/06/yo-pat-the-sin-of-sodom-and-gomorrah-was-not-about-homosexuality/; Mark D. Jordan, The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997); William Loader, “Homosexuality and the Bible,” in Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church, eds Preston Sprinkle and Stanley N. Gundry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 23-28; Megan DeFranza, “Journeying from the Bible to Christian Ethics in Search of Common Ground,” in Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church, eds Preston Sprinkle and Stanley N. Gundry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 74, 91-101; TEDx, “What the Bible Says About Homosexuality | Kristin Saylor & Jim O'Hanlon | TEDxEdgemontSchool,” YouTube, 18:14, August 4, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGNZQ64xiqo.
 Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 12.
 Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 29-36; Achemeier, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, 75-86; Loader, “Homosexuality and the Bible,” 21-48; DeFranza, “Journeying from the Bible to Christian Ethics,” 72-80, 91-103.
 Ibid; N.T. Wright, Galatians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2010), 28-32.
 Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 29-36; Achemeier, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, 75-86; Loader, “Homosexuality and the Bible,” 21-48; DeFranza, “Journeying from the Bible to Christian Ethics,” 72-80, 91-103.
 Bell, What is the Bible?, 8-12.
 Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 29-36.
 Ibid; Loader, “Homosexuality and the Bible,” 21-48.
 Ibid; Achemeier, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, 75-86.
 Mark Achtemeier, “Did Jesus Really Condemn Same-Sex Marriage?,” HuffPost, September 29, 2014, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-dr-mark-achtemeier/jesus-and-same-sex-marriage_b_5634659.html; Jay Parini, “Would Jesus OK Same-Sex Marriage?,” CNN Opinion, October 3, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/03/opinion/parini-would-jesus-be-ok-with-gay-marriage/index.html.
 Achemeier, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, 17-26, 57-74.
 DeFranza, Sex Difference in Christian Theology, 70-83.
 Ibid; William Loader, “Response to Megan K. DeFranza,” in Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church, eds Preston Sprinkle and Stanley N. Gundry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 102.
 Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 24-27; Achemeier, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, 87-102.
 N.T. Wright, Lent for Everyone: Matthew, Year A: A Daily Devotional (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 12-13.
 Ibid; Wright, The New Testament, 475.
 Ibid; Chris Seay, The Gospel According to Jesus: A Faith that Restores All Things (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 37.
 Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 24-27; Achemeier, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, 87-102.
 Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 24-27; Achemeier, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, 87-102.
 Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 24-27.
 Achemeier, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, 87-102; Cannon, The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality, 15-22.
 Ibid; Loader, “Homosexuality and the Bible,” 34; DeFranza, “Journeying from the Bible to Christian Ethics,” 73-80.
 NT Wright, “Understanding Ancient Texts with N.T. Wright,” BioLogos, http://biologos.org/resources/audio-visual/nt-wright-on-understanding-ancient-texts-video.
 TEDx, “What the Bible Says About Homosexuality.”
 Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmaat, Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 45.
What we believe about the mind
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Tim 1:7)
Commentary: Spirit-Filled Life Bible, NKJV:
"Possibly because of his youth or natural temperament, Timothy was prone to timidity (fear) and may have been reluctant to accept heavy responsibilities. In the verses (1 Tim 1:6-7) Paul is reminding him that the Holy Spirit's fullness and gifts provide enabling power to exercise one's ministry."
The words sound mind come from the Greek 'sophronismos' a combination of 'sos,' (safe), and 'phren,' (the mind), hence, safe-thinking. The word denotes good judgment, disciplined thought patterns, and the ability to understand and make right decisions. It includes the qualities of self-control and self-discipline.
Link this to Romans 8:27, "Now he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is...." and again to 1 Chronicles 28:9, "As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intents of the thoughts..."
"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." This is the first commandment. See also Deut 10:12; 30:6; Luke 10:27.
Here the word mind comes from the Greek 'dianoia,' literally, "a thinking through." Dianoia combines nous, "mind," and dia, "through." The word suggests understanding, insight, meditation, reflection, perception, the gift of apprehension, the faculty of thought. When this faculty is renewed by the Holy Spirit, the whole mind-set changes from the fearful negativism of the carnal mind to the vibrant, positive thinking of the quickened spiritual mind.
"Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid." (Mark 5:15)
The words 'right mind' come from the Greek 'sophroneo.' To be of sound mind, sane, self-controlled, serious, moderate, sober-minded, restrained, disciplined, able to reason. From 'soon,' "to save," and 'phren,' "the mind." The word describes our behavior and attitude as we approach the ending of the age (1 Peter 4:7).
Other 'mind' scriptures:
"Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or has given understanding to the heart?" (Job 38:36)
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You." (Isa 26:3)
Commentary: Spirit-Filled Life Bible, NKJV:
"Perfect peace is expressed in Hebrew by 'shalom, shalom,' a Hebrew method of putting great emphasis on a word. You will keep him in everything the word shalom implies: health, happiness, well-being, peace. The word translated mind is not the usual Hebrew word, but rather a word meaning 'creative imagination.' Isaiah's thought is that he whose creative imagination, the seat of plans and ideas, is firmly founded on the eternal Lord, will enjoy shalom in all its implications."
"And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind." (Luke 12:29)
Commentary: Spirit-Filled Life Bible:
"A proper attitude toward material things, based on a simple trust in a caring Father, frees one from a nagging anxiety about the physical necessities of life. Worry is useless because life is in God's hands." (Luke 12:24-26)
"For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?" (Rom 11:34) See also Leviticus 24:12.
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Rom 12:2) We are to be transformed by a renewed mind committed to the ideals of the Kingdom of God. See also Ephesians 4:23.
"Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion." (Rom 12:16)
Love is to be the guiding principle in Christian relationships.
WE EACH HAVE A MIND
"One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind." (Rom 14:5)
See Num 16:28; 24:13; Deut 18:6; 1 Sam 2:35.
"For 'who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Cor 2:16)
We need to recognize that the natural mind cannot understand or receive from the Holy Spirit. Know that only the spiritually alive can discern spiritual wisdom.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil 2:5) This Scripture is talking about adopting Christ's attitude of unselfishness, servanthood, humility, and obedience.
Some mind attributes/adjectives
Mind of readiness (Acts 17:11)
Mind of humility (Acts 20:19, Col 3:12)
Willing mind (1 Cor 8:12)
Vain mind (Eph 4:17)
Mind of lowliness (Phil 2:3)
Mind of earthly things (Phil 3:19)
Mind of the flesh (Rom 8:5, Col 2:8)
Mind defiled (Titus 1:15)
"But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn." (Job 14:22)
Job plainly expressed the often repeated doctrines of the material and spiritual natures of man. The flesh was upon him and his spirit within him. The body only is material and of dust and will return to dust (Gen 2:7; 3:19; Eccl 3:19-21). The inner man, which is made up of soul and spirit, is spiritual; it was created to live inside the body (Gen 2:7). At death the body dies and the inner man leaves it, going to heaven or hell, depending on the way the individual lived in his/her lifetime, whether he/she accepted God's provision of salvation and conformed to the righteousness taught in the Bible. All souls are fully conscious between death and the resurrection, the righteous souls being conscious in heaven (2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:21-24; Heb 12:22-23; Rev 6:9-11), and the wicked souls in hell (Isa 14:9; Luke 16:19-31; Rev 20:11-15).
See also where the spirit and the soul is distinguished: 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 4:12
References of the soul of man as an individual being: Gen 2:7; 12:5; 46:15-27; Exod 1:5; 12:4; Lev 22:11; Psalm 25:20; Prov 10:3; 11:25, 30; 14-25; 19:15; Ezek 13:18-20; 18:4
Commentary: Dake's Annotated Reference Bible:
"The Hebrew word 'napesh' for soul is used in terms of the soul of man as possessing appetites, and exercising mental facilities, certain feelings, emotions, desires, and passions. Hence, we speak of the soul that feels and the spirit of man that knows (1 Cor 2:11). The soul and the spirit make the inner man with its feelings, will, knowledge, intellect, and other spiritual powers."
Man cannot kill the soul (Matt 10:28)
God has a soul (Matt 12:18; Heb 10:38)
God want both soul and body healthy (3 John 2; 1 Peter 2:24)
God has given man free will and therefore man has the ability to choose . Choice is an activity of the mind that is expressed by particular types of brain activity . The mind, through its capacity for free will, is able to assess influences from the spirit and the body (including the brain) and make rational choices.
- Deuteronomy 30:19, Joshua 24:15; Alfred R. Mele, Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014; Richard Swinburne, Mind, Brain & Free Will. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. See also Alvin Plantinga, Knowledge and Christian Belief. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2015; Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom and Evil. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977; Keith Ward, More Than Matter?: Is There More to Life Than Molecules?. Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2010; Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfield, Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience. New York: Basic Books, 2013.
- Ibid; Benjamin Libet, “Unconscious Cerebral Initiative and the Role of Conscious Will in Voluntary Action,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8 (1985): 529– 66; John Dylan-Haynes et al., “Unconscious Determinants of Free Decisions in the Human Brain,” Nature Neuroscience 11 (2008): 543– 45.
What we believe about wisdom
"Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence."
Wisdom is that which enables men to judge what are the best ends and the best means of attaining them. Prudence is practical wisdom applied in the best time and manner to secure the best ends.
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Wisdom derived from the Greek 'Sophia' meaning cleverness, skill, scientific knowledge, wisdom.
"Wisdom is good with an inheritance; and by it there is profit to them that see the sun."
There are many blessings of wisdom:
1. It excels folly (Eccl 2:13)
2. It does not allow one to be discouraged regarding better former days (Eccl 7:10)
3. It is good with an inheritance, for it helps one to know how to use what he has received to the best advantage for the future (Eccl 7:11)
4. It enables man to make a profit
5. It is a defense (Eccl 7:12)
6. It gives life
7. Is better than strength (Eccl 7:19; 9:16)
8. It proves all things (Eccl 7:23)
9. It gives joy and boldness (Eccl 8:1)
10. It delivers in war (Eccl 9:15)
11. It is better than weapons of war (Eccl 9:18)
12. It is profitable to direct (Eccl 10:10)
Wisdom is justified.
"The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."
"Wisdom has seen fit to justify both courses taken by John and Jesus (see Matt 11:18) but you hypocrites condemn them. You would condemn any course taken by a godly man, for you seek to justify your acts of darkness and rejection of truth."
"But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work."
Nine marks of human wisdom:
1. Bitter envying (v 14,16)
2. Strife in the heart (v 14,16)
3. Glory in profession (v 14)
4. Earthly, having this life only in view (v 15)
5. Sensual, living only to satisfy the animal appetites (v 15)
6. Devilish, inspired by demons (v 15)
7. Confusion (v 16)
8. Every evil work (v 16)
"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."
Eight characteristics of divine wisdom:
1. Pure -- chaste, holy, and clean (v 17)
2. Peaceable (v 17; Heb 12:14)
3. Gentle -- meek, modest, and kind (v 17)
4. Easily entreated -- not stubborn or obstinate, but yielding to others (v 17)
5. Full of mercy -- always forgiving, and performing acts of kindness ( v 17)
6. Full of good fruits -- (Gal 5:22-23)
7. Without partiality -- having no respect of persons (v 17; James 2:1-10)
8. Without hypocrisy -- open, honest, genuine and true
In the Old Testament, people were filled with the Spirit of wisdom: Exod 28:3; 31:3-6; 35:31; Deut 34:9.
They were given wisdom of the heart (Exod 35:26; 36:2), and received wisdom of an angel (2 Sam 14:20).
The wisdom of God was found in Solomon:
1 Kings 3:28; 4:29-34; 5:12; 7:14; 10:4-24; 11:41; 2 Chr 1:10-12; 9:3-24
The Bible talks about wisdom in the 'inward parts' (Job 38:36).
Wisdom is often equated with 'truth.' Larry Lea, in his book on wisdom, defines wisdom as two parts, one of which is 'what is the truth of everything?' Psalm 51:6 says, "Behold, thou desire at truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom."
The notes on the inward part in the Dakes Annotated Reference Bible say that the inward part is the center of all true religion and righteousness if one is saved (2 Cor 5:17-18), and of sin in all unsaved (Mark 7:19-21).
There is also reference of "the wisdom of God made the earth, world and heavens."
(Psalm 136:5; Prov 3:19; Jer 10:12)
Wisdom is the "principal thing" (Prov 4:7)... "therefore get wisdom." This is a command.
Proverbs 4:1-9 gives 14 commands and 14 blessings of wisdom. It tells us to get wisdom at any costs!
"Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
“Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”
Some other points:
Wisdom is better than rubies (Prov 8:11)
Wisdom is too high for a fool (Prov 24:7)
Wisdom remained with me (Eccl 2:9)
Wisdom excels folly (Eccl 2:13)
Wisdom is good with an inheritance (Eccl 7:11)
Wisdom is a defense (Eccl 7:12)
Wisdom strengthens the wise (Eccl 7:19)
Wisdom is better than strength (Eccl 9:16)
Wisdom is better than weapons (Eccl 9:18)
Wisdom is profitable to direct (Eccl 10:10)
There is wisdom of the world which God made foolish (1 Cor 1:20; 2:6; 3:19).
Notes: "The wisdom of the world is a craft, or subtle trade, which men carry on with others to benefit themselves."
The "fear of the Lord is wisdom." (Job 28:28) This is in harmony with what was said later by Solomon, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Prov 1:7; 9:10; Psalm 111:10). However, it is the beginning, not the end, nor is it wisdom itself. It is the first principle. True wisdom is to justify God and condemn self (Dake's Annotated Reference Bible).
Proverbs 2:2 says to "incline thine ear unto wisdom," because the "Lord giveth wisdom." (Prov 2:6) We see five examples of Biblical characters getting wisdom:
Joseph (Gen 41:38-39)
Moses (Exod 4:12)
Solomon (1 Kings 3:12; 4:29) *
Daniel (Dan 1:17; 2:23)
Stephen (Acts 6:5, 10)
* In terms of the wisdom given to Solomon... "so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days" (1 Kings 3:12), has to be understood in the limited sense of ordinary rulers of the earth. Jesus Christ had even more wisdom and knowledge than Solomon, besides many other gifts of the Holy Spirit which Israel's king did not have. Christ himself said, "Behold, a greater than Solomon is here." (Matt 12:42; Luke 11:31)
The man that finds wisdom is happy! (Prov 3:13) He that gets wisdom loves his own soul (mind) (Prov 19:8). The greater good will come through guarding and obeying wisdom and understanding.
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About Dr. Leaf
Dr. Caroline Leaf has researched the human brain with particular emphasis on unlocking its vast, untapped potential.