Robert Gagnon debates gay activist Jayne Ozanne on Bible vs homosexuality

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

I am tempted to say that this is the best podcast I have ever heard on the Unbelievable show. Do anything you have to do in order to listen to this podcast.

Details:

Prof Robert Gagnon has become a well-known voice advocating the traditional biblical view on sexuality. In a highly charged show he debates the scriptural issues on sexuality with Jayne Ozanne, the director of Accepting Evangelicals who came out as gay earlier this year.

The MP3 file is here.

If you can only listen for 15 minutes, then start at 49 minutes in and listen from there.

The following summary is rated MUP for made-up paraphrase. Reader discretion is advised.

Summary:
Intro:

  • Speaker introductions
  • Gagnon: scholars who support gay marriage agree that the Bible doesn’t support it
  • Gagnon: scholars who support gay marriage agree Jesus taught male-female marriage
  • Ozanne: I went to the hospital because I was sick from trying to suppress my gay desires
  • Ozanne: Doctors told me that I would die if I didn’t act on my gay desires
  • Ozanne: I decided to reinterpret the Bible to fit with my gay desires
  • Ozanne: According to my new interpretation, Jesus actually supports my gay desires

Segment 1: Genesis

  • Ozanne: In Genesis the Bible says that Adam needs a woman to complete him
  • Ozanne: I reinterpret this to mean that Adam needed a “complementarian human being”
  • Ozanne: Genesis doesn’t say whether Eve was complemented by Adam in that chapter
  • Ozanne: It’s not critical that men are complemented by women, a man could complement a man
  • Ozanne: Genesis 2 doesn’t talk about children, it’s all about adult needs from a relationship
  • Gagnon: Genesis 2 has never been interpreted that way in all of history
  • Gagnon: Genesis 2 language specifically implies a human being who is opposite/different
  • Gagnon: Genesis 2 language translates to complement or counterpart
  • Gagnon: Genesis as a whole teaches that the sexuality is for male and female natures
  • Gagnon: The extraction of something from the man that is given to the woman is complementarian
  • Ozanne: I think that people can be complementary outside of male-female Genesis language
  • Ozanne: I don’t want to discuss specific words and texts and Greek meanings
  • Gagnon: the text has always been read and interpreted to support male/female complementarity
  • Gagnon: the male-female nature argument is made because the two natures are complementary
  • Ozanne: the text was interpreted by patriarchal males who treated women like property, it’s biased
  • Ozanne: what is important to me is how Christ interprets Genesis (?? how does she know that?)
  • Ozanne: I am passionate about my interpretation of Scripture which supports my gay desires
  • Gagnon: just because a person is passionate about their interpretation it doesn’t make it right
  • Gagnon: I am not arguing for the male-female view based on passion, but on scholarship, evidence and history
  • Ozanne: both sides are equally passionate about their interpretations (?? so both are equally warranted?)
  • Ozanne: the real question is why God “allowed” two different interpretations of Scripture

Segment 2: Is homosexuality a sin?

  • Gagnon: Jesus affirmed traditional sexual morality, which forbids homosexuality
  • Gagnon: Jesus teaches that marriage is male-female, and limited to two people
  • Gagnon: No one in history has interpreted the Bible to say that homosexuality was not immoral
  • Ozanne: Jesus came to bring life, and that means he supports homosexuality
  • Ozanne: I was dying, and embracing my gay desires allowed me to live, so Jesus approves of me
  • Ozanne: God says “I am who I am” and that means he approves of me doing whatever I want
  • Ozanne: There is an imperative to be who I am, and that means embracing my gay desires
  • Gagnon: Jesus argued that the twoness of the sexual bond is based on the twoness of the sexes
  • Gagnon: Jesus did not come to gratify people’s innate desires, he called people to repent of sin
  • Gagnon: Jesus did reach out to sinners but he never condoned the sins they committed
  • Gagnon: Jesus’ outreach to tax collectors collecting too much and sexual sinners is the same: STOP SINNING
  • Ozanne: I don’t think that Romans 1 is talking about homosexuality
  • Ozanne: I think it’s talking about sexual addiction, not loving, committed gay relationships
  • Ozanne: Paul was condemning pederasty in Romans 1, not loving, long-term, consensual sexual relationships between gay adults
  • Gagnon: nothing in the passage limits the condemnation to pederasty
  • Gagnon: the passage was never interpreted to be limited to pederasty in history
  • Gagnon: rabbis and church fathers knew about committed two-adult same-sex relationships, and said they were wrong
  • Gagnon: the argument for marriage is based on the broad two-nature argument, with no exceptions
  • Gagnon: the condemnation is not limited to exploitative / coercive / lustful / uncommitted relationships
  • Gagnon: even pro-gay scholars agree the passage cannot be interpreted Ozanne’s way (he names two)

Segment 3: The showdown (49:00)

  • Ozanne: I don’t care how many pages people have written on this
  • Ozanne: God says that “the wisdom of the wise I will frustrate” so you can’t use scholars, even pro-gay scholars, to argue against my passionate interpretation
  • Ozanne: I am not interested in the text or history or scholarship or even pro-gay scholars who agree with you
  • Ozanne: what decides the issue for me is my mystical feelings about God’s love which makes my sexual desires moral
  • Ozanne: you are certain that this is wrong, but your view does not “give life” to people
  • Ozanne: your scholarship and historical analysis is “a message of death” that causes teenagers to commit suicide (= you are evil and a meany, Robert)
  • Ozanne: “I pray for you and your soul” (= opposing me will land you in Hell) and “I hope that listeners will listen with their hearts” (?? instead of their minds?)
  • Ozanne: you can prove anything you want with research, even two mutually exclusive conclusions, so you shouldn’t rely on scholarship and research since it could be used to prove my view as well
  • Ozanne: instead of relying on research, you should rely on your heart and your feelings about God’s love to decide what the Bible teaches about sexual morality
  • Gagnon: you are distorting the gospel in order to make your case
  • Gagnon: attacking my “certainty” is an ad hominem attack to cover your dismissmal of the scholarship and history
  • Gagnon: you distort the gospel to make it seem like Christ just wants us to get what we want, when we want it, with who we want it with
  • Gagnon: Christ calls us to take up our cross, to lose our lives and to deny ourselves
  • Gagnon: you have a notion of what “fullness of life” is, but it’s not reflective of the gospel
  • Gagnon: Paul’s life was much more troubling than yours, mine or anyone else around here
  • Gagnon: Paul was beaten, whipped, stoned, poorly sheltered, poorly clothed, poorly fed, shipwrecked, and anxious for his churches
  • Gagnon: on your view, he should have been miserable and angry with God all the time
  • Gagnon: but instead Paul was constantly thankful and rejoicing to be able to suffer with Jesus and look forward to the resurrection
  • Gagnon: I have suffered too, but the suffering we go through never provides us with a license to violate the commandments of God
  • Ozanne: “the ultimate thing is what people feel God has called them to”
  • Ozanne: My goal right now is to tell young people that homosexuality is fine so they don’t commit suicide
  • Ozanne: the view that homosexuality is wrong is “evil and misguided”
  • Gagnon: the greater rates of harm in the gay community are intrinsic to homosexual unions, not caused by external disapproval of homosexuality

Segment 4: Concluding statements

  • Gagnon: gay male relationships on average have more sex partners and more STDs
  • Gagnon: female relationships on average have shorter-length relationships and more mental issues
  • Gagnon: the greater rates of harm are because there is no complementarity / balance in the relationships
  • Gagnon: everyone has some disappointment or suffering in their lives that hurts them, and that they are tempted to break the rules to fix, but we should not break the rules in order to be happy
  • Ozanne: both sides are passionate, so no one can be right, and evidence proves nothing
  • Ozanne: only feelings about “what God is doing” can allow us to decide what counts as sin or not
  • Ozanne: the main thing that is at stake here is to make people like us, not to decide what the Bible says about sin
  • Ozanne: my message to people is to do whatever you want, and ignore mean people who don’t affirm you
  • Ozanne: we should be more opposed to mean people who make non-Christians feel unloved than about doing what the Bible says

17 thoughts on “Robert Gagnon debates gay activist Jayne Ozanne on Bible vs homosexuality”

  1. You know, when an opponent continually repeats what Christ has done for us to the point of superfluity, all the while misleading with emotive language as a substitute for sound exegetical arguments, the conclusion is most certainly failure.

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    1. At the point where she started doing that, I fully expected that he would knuckle under and not take her to task. Imagine my delight when he held her accountable for using an insult in place of an argument.

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  2. The doctor told her she would die if she didn’t stop suppressing her gayness…where is this hospital? Was it a witch doctor? I’d like to actually meet the doctor who supposedly told her this.

    And what’s the point in debating someone who doesn’t have any regard for the Bible and instead bases their “faith” on personal feelings and imagined signs? I’d have more respect for a Satanist or Theosophist.

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    1. “And what’s the point in debating someone who doesn’t have any regard for the Bible and instead bases their ‘faith’ on personal feelings and imagined signs?”

      In the end, the point of such debates is to get both sides of the argument into the public sphere and allow the public to make an informed decision on the matter. I, for one, am extremely grateful for Dr. Gagnon’s cogent defence of marriage and the binary nature of human sexuality – an extremely rare occurrence these days (especially here in Ireland).

      As for Ozanne, all we can do is pray that she sees how groundless her position is and returns home. We can discuss things philosophically and biblically, but if she wants to distort the facts and obfuscate in order to validate her desires, there is sadly nothing anyone can do. She is worth debating, if for no other reason than to show her the reasonableness of orthodox Christianity and the genuine concern for those embracing the gay lifestyle.

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  3. You guys should go have a read the continued arguments on the Unbelievable Facebook page. Lots of chatter going on there and Rob Gagnon, seems to be trying to defend himself against quite a torrent of dissenters.

    Just a curious observation the major disagreements leveled against Rob on the forum are coming from women. Not sure if there is any link or what this means.

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    1. It’s because women (in my experience) then to have a more compassionate / diversity-affirming / permissive / relativistic take on morality, because they are more oriented to peace-keeping and home-making. This is not wrong. But it does make things difficult when discussing moral issues at the level of public policy. There are exceptions of course.

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      1. I’m pretty sure that many of those folks attacking Gagnon are primarily doing so because they have bought into the same ‘romantic’, adult-centred, self-fulfilment and companionship-orientated paradigm as the SSM movement. And I hate to say it, but generally-speaking, men aren’t very.. receptive.. to that paradigm, by comparison. :\

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        1. We find it easier to say no to people and to butt heads with people over moral or theological disagreements. I also think that men find it easier to go there own way rather than adjust their immorality to the post modernism and relativism that is so popular today.

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  4. I listened this morning to the podcast, and WK’s comments are not very snarky. They are pretty much the “arguments” that were made by Ozanne. People really should listen themselves because Gagnon covers so much detail of the textual evidence clearly and concisely.

    The one part I loved was when she talked about how certain he was and basically implied relativism, and then Gagnon came back with the point that sometimes there is overwhelming evidence and in that case certainty isn’t the problem but rather not being willing to accept the text.

    I’m not surprised, though, that many are attacking Gagnon on the Facebook page. On the merits, this was a total destruction, but too many people don’t care about the actual arguments or evidence. They will just hear a testy male talking and a compassionate sounding female and like her tone better. Gagnon wasn’t bad and only got heated when he was attacked personally. It makes you admire all the more people like Stephen Meyer who never seem to get frustrated when their positions are mischaracterized or when they are personally attacked.

    What bothers me about “evangelicals” like Ozanne is that they still claim to be evangelical and to hold the bible as authoritative. If she would own up to her denial of the bible’s authority, then it wouldn’t be so frustrating.

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  5. I rather a person be truthful and honest about their sexual orientation than lie. In atlanta they are too many men who are on the downlow. These men are homosexuals but dont want anyone to know so they do their gay activities in secret and get married to a woman and have kids -um no. If your gay i rather that person embrace it then try to be something that they are not so women dont end up marrying gay men and run the risk of catching hiv/aids

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  6. While I fully agree with those who saw Gagnon’s arguments as infinitely superior to Ozanne’s, we cannot afford to ignore the fact that Ozanne’s presentation was rhetorically effective with many listeners. Otherwise, we end up talking only to ourselves and failing to pull the weak-minded to freedom.

    I think more work needs to be done in the area of exposing real-time the dubious premeses upon which Ozanne was building her position. Matthew Vines does that same sort of thing – basing his position on widely-held assumptions that are seldom made explicit and for which sources which are hardly ever cited. For example, Ozanne obviously is claiming that her sexual desires are God-given and that God wants them to be fulfilled but she doesn’t clearly declare this and she certainly doesn’t cite any reasons or sources for holding this belief.

    That such rhetorical methods work is a result of all of us living so long in a secular culture. Lots more work needs to be done if we are to break through the prevailing cultural mindset and convince those who want to do right but whose minds are too weak to resist the rhetorical attraction of someone who talks in soothing tones of “can’t we all just love each other.”

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