GCN Radio - October 14, 2005
Transcribed by Vombatus

To listen to this episode, visit http://www.gaychristian.net/gcnradio

[GCN Radio Intro]

BRIAN: Well, it's awfully good to be back here and enjoying another edition of GCN Radio. Justin, you did a great job last week. I loved it! It was awesome, the show last week was great.

JUSTIN: Well, thanks Brian, I have to say putting together a show is difficult. I'm glad you're here to take care of it this week.

BRIAN: No, it's my pleasure, it was really... I especially enjoyed tuning into my own show and listening to it and hearing that it can go on even if I'm not right there. Not knowing what was going to be said and it was exciting! So I had a nice time listening to it, it was awesome.

JUSTIN: Well, you never know what I'm going to say

BRIAN: Well, I had my cup of coffee all handy and I listened to it, which of course brings me to the fact that I don't know if I've divulged my big secret... I don't know if I've come out on this show, Justin.

JUSTIN: You haven't come out? What do you mean?

BRIAN: I haven't come out to say that I'm a ... serious coffee addict.

JUSTIN: Are you really?

BRIAN: I am an ueber-coffee fan. I have a white chocolate mocha everyday, which is $3.15. So you can imagine what that imagines what that adds up to for a week, for a month. I mean I'm throwing money at my local coffee shop. And the thing about it is...

JUSTIN: Is it one of those expensive coffee shops?

BRIAN: Well, uh...

JUSTIN: Overpriced coffee?

BRIAN: Could be, yes, unfortunately. I went to the department store a while back because I really wanted new pants to take to a conference and I had a little issue trying on pants that fit me a year ago, and no longer fit me. That was no longer my size, and it was a huge wake-up call that I'm gonna have to reduce the mochas and the regular cokes, and all that kinda thing, so.

JUSTIN: Uh oh.

BRIAN: To the proper waistline, and... no more mochas for me.

JUSTIN: Awww. Well, I have to tell you, I don't drink coffee at all. I drink hot chocolate. I love hot chocolate and I will drink it in the summer as much as in the winter. And it's funny because people will say to me "How could you drink hot chocolate in the summer?" And I'm like, "Well, you drink coffee in the summer, what's the difference?" But I love hot chocolate.

BRIAN: Okay, well, it's got just as much caffeine in it, so there.

JUSTIN: I never paid attention to the caffeine.

BRIAN: I know, I mean you don't... anything it's good for you, you never pay attention to why it's bad for you.

JUSTIN: Yeah.

BRIAN: Well, you have... you know, we just had our cawfee tawk, how's that?

JUSTIN: Cawfee tawk, with Linda Richman.

BRIAN: Moving over to some news at hand, you've been traveling a lot.

JUSTIN: I have.

BRIAN: You know we want to say a special welcome to people joining us for the first time. We're always glad to have new people listening, and we appreciate everyone's feedback and comments but...

JUSTIN: Right, we got some publicity this week from the Dr. Phil Show. They had me on the Dr. Phil show to talk about ex-gay ministries from a pro-gay point of view. And it's funny because as we're taping this show, I haven't seen the final version yet. But, you know, I had to be really kind of ... forceful? You know? And say, "Oh, you're wrong!" and "This is what I believe!". And that's just not really my personality in real life, but of course that's good television you know? Nobody wants to see somebody go on television and say, "Well, you know...I disagree with you, but... we can go have coffee afterwards, or hot chocolate if you prefer..." It's kind of funny. Sometimes when you do these kind of things, you have to play a part just a little bit. Be aggressive.

BRIAN: Well it's important that this dialogue has taken place. I'm encouraged by the fact that there's at least discussion going on, and how it gets spinned by the media or how people wish to interpret it I think is still yet to come out in the wash. But I'm awfully happy that these major talk shows are seeing this as enough of an issue to at least have a dialogue about it, because we can't get anywhere before we start talking.

JUSTIN: Well, absolutely. The dialogue is so important, and I think for me, the most important thing is not that they're talking about sexual orientation issues or ex-gay ministries or pro-gay ministries or any of that, but to me the most important thing is the message of Jesus Christ and the Gospel being out there and for people to know that even if you are gay or lesbian, that does not exclude you from the Kingdom of God. That does not exclude you from the good news of Jesus. So, that's my message is to go out there and preach the good news, and I know I sound a little like a gay Billy Graham when I say that, but that's what I believe.

BRIAN: Hallelujah! That's awesome. I'll cue the organ music to come up...

JUSTIN: [laughs]

BRIAN: No, no, no. That's very important, and a great point. That we want people to realize that we are all loved, we are all welcomed to the table of our Lord.

JUSTIN: Absolutely.

BRIAN: Well, that's actually a good segue into our guest for today on GCN Radio.

JUSTIN: I'm very excited about this guest.

BRIAN: His name is Justin Cannon, this is going to be interesting having two Justins on our program. Justin is the founder of www.TruthSetsFree.net, a website where he has written and published a study of what the Bible really says about homosexuality. He is on our show today joining us live in the studio to talk about just his life and journey and we're going to learn a little bit about Justin Cannon today. Welcome.

JUSTIN CANNON: Thank you, I'm glad to be here.

JUSTIN: Hey Justin!

JUSTIN CANNON: Hi Justin!

ALL: [laugh]

BRIAN: Oh, this is going to be fun!

JUSTIN: It is. Well, it's interesting because Justin and I have a lot in common. We're both named Justin, of course. We both run gay Christian ministries, Christian ministries to the gay and lesbian community, I really should say. I founded GCN and he founded Truth Sets Free, and we've both done some media interviews lately. And this is to me, the most important thing: we both love the Bible. Which is true, it excites me to know other gay people who love the Bible. The big difference between us, of course...

JUSTIN CANNON: Uh oh...

BRIAN: The hair!

JUSTIN: The hair thing. Because I have none, and...

JUSTIN CANNON: I can actually change that, Justin if you want.

JUSTIN: Oh no! I have this Lex Luthor thing going on and Justin Cannon has red hair and so we look quite different. But I think it's...

JUSTIN CANNON: There's enough in common.

JUSTIN: We do, and you have a lot of good things to say about the Bible. And the fact that you and I both agree that the Bible does not condemn gay and lesbian people.

JUSTIN CANNON: It's true. Well actually I just got back from last Saturday I gave a talk at the MCC church in Dayton, Ohio's National Coming Out Day prayer breakfast. And there I had the opportunity to talk about the Bible. It's actually the first track on my CD that I gave there. And really what I talk about in that message is that the Bible really should be viewed as a book of liberation for the oppressed. It's about a God who came to bring us life. I don't know, it just excites me! That message, that I think that that's the message. The message isn't that it's all right to be gay. That's part of the message, but the message is about God's love and how big that is and how widely embracing that is.

JUSTIN: Absolutely! And that's the thing that... because there are certainly other gay and lesbian spiritual groups in the world, but so many of them--even the ones that consider themselves Christian in one form or another--are really scared of the Bible. Don't you to find that to be the case?

JUSTIN CANNON: It's sadly true. That's why on my website I assert that the Church must embrace the GLBTQ community, not despite scripture and tradition, but in light of it...

BRIAN: I really like that passage, that really hit home for me.

JUSTIN CANNON: That's what it's about, really.

JUSTIN: Now, of course then the next question, and I already know what you're going to say but I have to ask anyway, because I'm sure a lot of our listeners are thinking right now, "But doesn't the Bible condemn homosexuality?" or at least 'homosexual behavior'. I should clarify that because there are, certainly, a number of gay and lesbian Christians who are committed to celibacy because they believe that the Bible condemns same-sex relationship, so they don't have a same-sex relationship, they're just gay in their orientation, but they don't act on it. But what about those people in committed relationships? Doesn't the Bible say something bad about them?

JUSTIN CANNON: That was exactly the question that I asked myself three years ago when I first accepted the fact that I was gay and that after years of praying that that would change, and it wasn't changing, I really delved into the Bible to see what it had to say. What I found was that the Bible does condemn homosexual activity, yet if you look at the scriptures it's only condemned in contexts which include rape, prostitution, perhaps pederasty. There's really nothing in scripture that condemns a loving, committed homosexual relationship.

JUSTIN: So, an analogy perhaps would be the way that the Bible talks about tax collectors. We see a lot of negative images of tax collectors throughout the New Testament. There's no question that tax collectors are viewed as sinners in the Bible, and yet nobody would apply that to modern day IRS agent, because we understand that the context of viewing the tax collectors as sinners was what they were doing. They were engaging in corrupt practices, and the same thing is true in the case of these homosexual behaviors that you're talking about.

JUSTIN CANNON: That's true. A comparison I actually love is the comparison with adultery. I read a wonderful book by a gay Christian theologian who said that the fact there's adultery in the Bible doesn't render all heterosexual activity sinful, just as the fact that there's prostitution mentioned that doesn't render all homosexual activity sinful.

BRIAN: So it's not just isolated to homosexuals, if you really look at the text and translations. I think that we all agree that rape is a bad thing, prostitution is a bad thing, adultery is a bad thing, but somehow in some of these passages, they've been pointed at homosexuals.

JUSTIN CANNON: Um hm.

BRIAN: And by the way, we should mention that your study points out that the word 'homosexual' wasn't even a word back in the original Hebrew and Greek.

JUSTIN CANNON: Um hm. The word 'homosexual' actually was created or coined, you could say, about a hundred years ago. And it's made up of a Greek term and a Latin term put together, but when you look at the scripture it does not appear in the Bible until 1946, I believe, in the RSV.

BRIAN: Right, and while we're discussing these passages and so forth, people typically think of five passages that some people call the "Clobber Passages", but you say that there are six?

JUSTIN CANNON: I would say that there are about six...

BRIAN: I hadn't heard the Creation... I mean, I've heard the creation story, yes. I hadn't heard or thought about it being used as a quote-unquote "Clobber Passage".

JUSTIN CANNON: "It's Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve!"

BRIAN: Right.

JUSTIN CANNON: That's the case they use, and say "this is how God created it in the beginning and therefore that is how it should be for all time." In my study I take a look at Genesis and what's the question, what's that book trying to address. And it's specifically asking the question, "Where do we come from?" And we can only come from the union of a man and woman in the beginning.

JUSTIN: Right. Now obviously if we had time it would be great to go through every single one of the passages in scripture that make reference to some type of homosexual activity and delve into the context: the literary context, the cultural context, the meaning, how does it apply to us today, other passages in scripture that are relevant, why do we interpret it one way rather than a different way, yadda yadda yadda. And of course we don't have time to do all of that, but you've put together your take on things in this study which is on your website, which is www.TruthSetsFree.net.

JUSTIN CANNON: It's true, you can download it for free at TSFN or you can order a printed copy for a dollar, including shipping.

JUSTIN: And I wanted to point out too that this is not just one person's crack-pot theories about the Bible, because over the last few years a lot of Bible scholars with a lot of theological training, committed Christians who love the Bible and who love God, who put a lot into prayer and listened to the Holy Spirit, as they study these things are coming to this conclusion that the Bible doesn't say exactly what we assumed in the past that it said. And there are a number of resource out there in addition to the study that you have on your website, Justin. I've written some stuff that's on GCN under the Great Debate section, we actually have two opposing points of view if you go into our featured articles and look for the Great Debate. But then also I want to put in a plug for, there's a great book, that's great to supplement this kind of a study called The Children are Free by Reverend Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley, which is the latest in a long series of books taking this view and giving a lot of information.

JUSTIN CANNON: That's true. Jeff Miner's book is wonderful. I'm actually going to be meeting with him in November, and I highly recommend it. Those books are the sources that I really worked off of. Towards the end of my study you'll find a list of resources and to be honest I would confess I don't offer too much that's new, but I would say I bring together what spoke truth to me in these different sources.

BRIAN: I wanted to ask, we're going to have a lot of people possibly listening to this show who really feel that your view of the Bible, Justin, is wrong. Their scholarly opinion is that homosexuality is condemned by God.

JUSTIN CANNON: Okay...

BRIAN: Why are they wrong?

JUSTIN CANNON: Why are they wrong? Well, my study actually began looking at the question as objectively as I could, saying "All right, here's this book, what does it say?" And I actually started at Point A: tradition. Tradition, from what the church tells me, has said homosexuality is wrong. I needed to know what the Bible does say. If that's what it says, I need to see it, I need to know it. And I found shortly into my studies short, brief pamphlets that tried to prove the Bible was pro-gay, and those didn't convince me either, but I really needed to know. And that led me into three years of really studying these texts, on my own, in my dorm room, on the Internet, in the library. Coming out of those three years, my Bible study I offered to show why I believe they were wrong, that I'm thoroughly convicted and convinced that these passages do not address what we're viewing today in loving, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships.

BRIAN: And from what I understand, it has to do with how do you look at the Bible where one way is kind of the 'proof texting' method of interpreting Bible passages, and the other is really going back to the original translations and trying to study that. Talk to me a little bit about that difference in Bible interpretation.

JUSTIN CANNON: That's quite the difference between the translations that we find and the original texts. Myself, I believe that the Bible is divinely inspired and authoritative in the original version, but that has become tainted through time. That some of these verses that we're looking at like I Corinthians 6:9 or I Timothy 1:10, you find an obscure Greek word which it's the first appearance of this Greek word. And if you look through history, the Greek word is arsenokoitai, and this word through history has been translated as everything from ?burglars? back in the 1800's, to child molesters, in German, to perverts, sexual perverts, and then more recent years, homosexual. That with such obscurity and with this word being a term that I believe Paul coined, does not show up in Greek anywhere else, that really you need to look back at the Greek. You need to look up how is that word made up? What does arseno- mean, what does koitai mean? What is the lexical context, how is this word juxtaposed between those other words, and what did Paul mean by it? And that's really the question.

BRIAN: And you're saying, then, that the people who believe that homosexuality is condemned by God and all these things about being an abomination, et cetera, that these Bible scholars are looking at the Bible not in that way?

JUSTIN CANNON: I would say they're looking at translations that have quite distorted scripture in many ways, that have translated arsenokoitai, for example, as homosexual without the research, without taking the time to really find out what that is. I can pick up any New Living Bible translation, open up to Leviticus 18:22, which says, "Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden." That's not what the Bible says in Leviticus 18:22, that really these theologians condemning homosexuality are using translations that are quite incorrect.

JUSTIN: I think that the translation issue is so important because on the one hand, I think we have to be careful not to try and explain away passages by simply saying, "Oh, it wasn't translated properly", because that's an easy excuse for just about anything, you know?

JUSTIN CANNON: Um hm.

JUSTIN: But at the same time, there are examples, as you're pointing out, where some of these passages, the translation just hasn't even been consistent. I mean, for instance, when you talk about I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10, in the New International Version, which is what I read, these two passages the same word is translated differently. The word arsenokoitai is translated in I Corinthians as 'homosexual offenders' and in I timothy as 'perverts'.

JUSTIN CANNON: Exactly.

JUSTIN: Well, you know, there's a difference! There's a difference and when you see that kind of inconsistency even within the same translation--and the NIV is a very popular translation--I think it begs to be explored, to have somebody say, "Let's go back and look at this word and let's look at the historical context of this word, and how was it used by people in Paul's day." Or if no one was using it in Paul's day, then how was it used after Paul's day or before Paul's day. Or, as you mentioned, abomination. In Leviticus, when it says abomination, we hear that and we go, "Abomination? An abomination must be something that God hates!" You know? And we just assume that. I think the NIV says 'detestable' or something, which is something that conjures up this image of 'God must hate homosexuals.' And in fact we see as we actually read the rest of the Old Testament, that a number of things are referred to as abomination, using the same Hebrew word, such as eagles, for instance are abominations.

JUSTIN CANNON: Or shrimp!

JUSTIN: And it's not that God hates eagles and shrimp. It's just that they were ritually forbidden to the Israelites in the Old Testament. So that puts a different spin on things, when we understand what that means and then look at the context, and look at the rest. Don't just read that one verse that refers to homosexuality, read the rest of the verses. We need to have a consistent interpretative standard across the board. You can't say, "Oh well, in this passage I think it only refers to the culture, and in that passage it refers to all time." Well, if so, then why? We need to have a consistent standard throughout all of scripture.

JUSTIN CANNON: Um hm. Very true.

BRIAN: Your talk on your CD, the first talk is "From Out of the Shadows". And you have certainly found an understanding of the Bible and of spirituality that a lot of people your age don't have. We should probably say, if it's all right, that you're 22.

JUSTIN CANNON: 21, actually.

BRIAN: 21, okay. How has this changed your life?

JUSTIN CANNON: It's brought a deep healing. I don't have a boyfriend, I haven't yet. But it's really opened me up to a place of honesty, where I don't have to hide in that place of shadows. That for years, this was a part of me that I hated. That first year when National Coming Out Day came around there was chalking around the heart and this was a part of myself that I had to hide. When I walked by these people that were chalking pro-gay messages, it was like a part of me was repulsed by myself not wanting to face this part of myself. And finally this National Coming Out Day, the chalking was there again, and as I was walking in one of the school's main buildings, I kind of realized how deep this healing has been. That I walked by a table where they were passing out rainbow ribbons, and as I walked by I greeted them. And then I suddenly stopped in my tracks, and I realized that Justin three years ago would've kept walking. I picked up that ribbon and I realized that it was like taking Justin, taking my hand and saying, "It's okay". That it was really a moment of realizing that I was beside myself, not walking against myself or pushing against myself. That that degree of honesty, that degree of really facing the image God made me to be.

BRIAN: Wow, that's excellent.

JUSTIN: Awesome.

BRIAN: I can say with honesty, you are certainly a gentleman and a scholar. It's been such a pleasure to have you on the show today.

JUSTIN CANNON: I've been honored to be here.

JUSTIN: Thank you, Justin. And Justin's website, again, is www.truthsetsfree.net.

BRIAN: Absolutely.

JUSTIN: Well, Brian, before we go, I'd like to ask a question to our listening audience. We hear a lot from parents who have a child who comes out and they really, they don't know how to respond. And often without meaning to they respond badly. And so, a lot of us have been through this, and so what I want to ask this week is, to those folks who are GLBT, what one thing do you wish your parents would have understood, or would understand that you would like to other parents out there who may have gay kids?

BRIAN: Good question.

JUSTIN: That's the question I have this week, "What would you want to say to your parents or other parents of gay kids that might help them out in understanding what's really going on?"

BRIAN: That's a great question, and if you have an answer that you'd like to give to that, you can call our toll-free number, in the US or Canada it's 1-888-GAY4GOD, you can also respond via our website which is http://www.gaychristian.net/gcnradio/.

JUSTIN: And that's also where you can hear all of our old episodes. So if there's an episode that you want to hear...

BRIAN: Absolutely, come on over, we've got them all posted.

JUSTIN: That's right! You can listen to them all or you can subscribe to our podcast, and you'll get them automatically every Friday when we have a new show.

BRIAN: Glad to have everyone listening today, and again a special welcome to those hearing us for the first time. Be sure to send us and e-mail. You can e-mail comments, questions, suggestions, anything you want. Our address is gcnradio@gaychristian.net. So I think that does it for this week, Justin.

JUSTIN: I think so. Brian, good luck on trying to kick the coffee habit, we'll see how it goes.

BRIAN: We'll see how I do. I'm hanging my pair of pants in front of my exercise bike as inspiration, to say 'this is what I want to fit into by Christmas.'

JUSTIN: Well, good for you. Drink lots of water.

BRIAN: That's what I hear I need to do as well. Lay off the caffeine and the soft drinks. Okay, well for this week, I'm Brian...

JUSTIN: ...and I'm Justin! Have a great week and we'll see you next Friday.