*This is an AI generated transcript, and may contain inaccurate transcriptions*
Dr. Ann Gillies (00:13):
Hello everyone. Welcome back to Truth Talks in 2024. This is my actual first recording in 2024. I’m very excited. I have a good friend with me today. Actually. We have only known each other for a couple of years, but I met George through a third education revolution. So today we are welcoming Dr. Jordash Kiffiak and thank you for being here. We are very excited. We’re going to talk a little bit about you and your background, and you have a new book that we really want to spend some time on, and it’s called Jesus and Sodom, which is quite an interesting title, same Sex Sexuality through the Messiah’s Merciful Eyes. I love the title, so welcome
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (01:04):
And it’s such a pleasure to be here and I really appreciate you inviting me in and appreciate the friendship as well.
Dr. Ann Gillies (01:12):
Thank you. And let’s talk a little bit about your background and passion and your expertise in this area because I think people really need to understand why someone like you, you’re a professor, would write such a manuscript. So the book hasn’t been published yet, am I right? That’s right. It’s just, it’s in the manuscript form. So we are getting kind of a bird’s eye view very early on. This is exciting. So tell us about you, Dr. Kiffiak.
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (01:52):
I grew up in a Christian family and my parents had been missionaries actually in Africa, and I came to faith pretty young and with some ups and downs, then became quite committed to Jesus when I was a teenager. But then in university I got into some classes that threw some darts my way and some questions studying the rationalists, Descartes and other things. And I stepped away from calling myself a Christian and just had a difficult time and really had a difficult time with my faith. I did do some directed readings on the historical Jesus. So at the university I was at, there were no religious courses or courses about early Christianity, but I took this directed readings course and started to learn how people try to, especially those who don’t come at Jesus with faith, how they try to understand who he is and try to construct a persona for him and understand him in their own framework.
These were the days of the Jesus seminar in the 1990s where people like Dominic Cross and Marcus Borg and others were really in the limelight talking about Jesus, but certainly not presenting him as the person that we know him from historic Christianity and what is true about him. Eventually I did come back to faith and I’m very thankful to God for that. I praise God for that. And one of the key questions for me was did he come back from the dead? And I was convinced eventually that yes, this is something we can definitely believe and that started me on a path in a couple of directions or in one direction in a couple of ways. The direction is studying the New Testament and the Old Testament as an academic. So I ended up learning Greek and Hebrew. I’ve taught Greek and Hebrew, I’ve taught Aramaic. I ended up living in Israel for about eight and a half years. I did a postdoc at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, eventually after I got my PhD at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in Israel. Just a minute
Dr. Ann Gillies (04:10):
Along the way. The other I just want to tell my audience, don’t get intimidated by all of these credentials. George is just who you seem him to be, but it’s awesome how God has led you. I just wanted to really applaud all the work you have done to come to this point in your life. Go ahead DoorDash.
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (04:31):
Thanks so much. And the other part was I started really trying to understand Jesus, this has been a big theme in my life, trying to understand him in Israel. It was my dream and one year to go there just for a year and study and the way that God allowed me to do it, I ended up living there for over eight years and had all of my needs taken care of. He’s very gracious and I got to study Jesus in his Jewish context. And so when we come to the question of homosexuality and what did Jesus, how can we understand Jesus’s take on sexuality and homosexuality in particular, I was in a sensei fitted for the task because I had spent a lot of time trying to understand Jesus’s teachings in many ways in its Jewish context,
Dr. Ann Gillies (05:19):
It’s amazing what an opportunity. And so eight years of study there, eight years. Did you teach there as well? You said Hebrew and Yeah,
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (05:29):
I taught Hebrew there primarily, sorry, I taught Greek there primarily, but I did also teach Hebrew there for people coming from abroad.
Dr. Ann Gillies (05:37):
Wow, wow. And then you moved back to Canada and right back to Vancouver where you are now or
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (05:45):
Actually my wife and I, we first, we moved to Victoria. We were there for two years, so I was near to Bruce Friesen. It was a nice time being in Victoria. And then we moved to Vancouver and we ended up at a Mennonite Brethren church. We prayed about it. We felt led to this church and the church itself, and I didn’t really want to go because they were having this whole discussion around would they embrace homosexuality? And yes, it’s in all kinds of denominations in North America, especially in Canada. And so when we were at that church, that’s when I really felt the Lord calling me to speak out and say, are you going to, I’ve gifted you, I’ve equipped you. Are you going to speak about this topic? Are you going to be silent? And thankfully, thankfully by his mercy, I was able to start to speak. But it’s a daunting thing to get involved in because you recognize, I mean, it’s changed the course of my life. To open my mouth in that small congregation eventually meant many, many changes for me. And it’s been difficult, but I think in the end to know Jesus’s true heart and his true design for his desire for us and God’s design for humanity is worth it and it’s worth it if it helps other people find hope and promise and freedom.
Dr. Ann Gillies (07:08):
I think what you’re talking about, I certainly recognize this, it’s almost like compulsion and that fire within you. The fact that if I try to be quiet, if I try to keep my mouth closed, is it Jeremiah that says that?
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (07:34):
I think that’s right.
Dr. Ann Gillies (07:35):
I think so. If I try not to speak of this, this fire comes that I can’t, can’t shut it down because if I don’t speak of it, it just makes me feel really awful. And yet if I talk about this, there’s so many consequences and this is the subject of our age, I believe, and this and everything connected to gender and sexuality. So it comes with a huge cost to speak out. And that is, I applaud you for choosing to speak out, but I also know that the cost is high and in the midst of all of that, you wrote this book and I think this is going to be a phenomenal work and a phenomenal help to the Christian community and to other professors like yourself. I hope academics particularly. So why don’t we talk about your book. So I talked about the title Jesus and Sodom, same-sex, sexuality through the Messiah’s merciful eyes. And you start by kind of setting the stage with Jesus penant for mercy. Tell me a little bit about that.
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (08:59):
Yeah, I almost should go autobiographical, even though we’re starting to talk about, I will just before telling you about the contents of that chapter, I mentioned how I had stepped away from calling myself a Christian for a number of years, four to five years, but also during my PhD. I have to say that there are many ways where I started getting closer to the world. And I hate to say, I mean I don’t enjoy remembering it. I’m happy to say it in the sense that confession is really good. But midway through my PhD, one of my supervisors switched, and this is a man who I knew professed to be a Christian but did not worship Jesus. And I willingly took him on as my second advisor. And not just that, but I got involved in table fellowship with him and stayed at his house and one time went to his church and it ended up at his church.
Their main pastor or priest was a gay man. And so I was there and I actually took communion in that service all because I had gotten so not that I believed that it was right, I never came to the place. I got woke, okay, I became woke. In a sense, I was in that world because of the academic world. It’s very, very mixed who is truly a Christian, who is not a Christian. But I let myself get compromised socially in so many ways in fellowship that I ended up doing things out of, you remember how Herod Anus has all his people there in the Galilee that have come for this big meal for his birthday, and then he makes this oath to hero’s daughter that I’ll give you up to half my kingdom. And she asked for John the Baptist head. Now it wasn’t as dramatic as that for me, but I was in such pressure from a situation that I decided I should have gone to the bathroom.
I should have said, I’m out of here, I should have said whatever. But I ended up going up for communion and I regret it. But that is just to show you that in my own life, the Lord had to do such a cleaning in me to say, I want you to speak on this topic, but I also want you to be very honest about where you’ve come from. And my sort of invitation as to other academics is if you found yourself compromised in ways that you never thought you would when you got into academics, especially on the biblical academics, whether that’s archeology or languages or whatever, repentance is really the door to new life and to fruitfulness. If you see that your life isn’t as fruitful as you’d like, and I certainly did see that, then it’s actually the door of repentance that will bring you to a more meaningful life.
I’m doing more meaningful research than I’ve ever done. My PhD was okay, it’s a big book. It was okay, but the book that I’m writing now is much more meaningful, much more helpful. So that’s his mercy in my life. And when I look at chapter, the first chapter on his mercy, what I see about Jesus is there’s many things he could have done, he could easily have just let everyone know where they were all at, and it would’ve been just, and it would’ve even, he could have even said it in a kind way. All of y’all have really just turned up your nose to God and are walking in the wrong way. And that would’ve been fair in many ways to say it, but it’s only by his mercy, by walking around in the Galilee, often not being received well at times, being really disrespected. Yet he healed everyone who came to him. And there’s throngs of people that came to him. We have to imagine that some of those people were probably people that were somewhat indifferent towards him, or perhaps even relatives of those who were his opponents, but he had no qualms about receiving it. He would have a meal with anybody, even Pharisees who were antagonists towards him. He would still receive an invitation to have a meal and have a conversation and try to win them over.
There’s only one person he never spoke with, and that is actually Herod Anus. And my guess there, this is not in the book, my guess is that that’s because he had killed John the Baptist and he’d already received a sufficient witness in his life. So when he was brought to him in trial, he didn’t open his mouth.
Dr. Ann Gillies (13:26):
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (13:27):
Dr. Ann Gillies (13:28):
I like what you first said. Jesus could have gone like this, and sometimes I wish he had him very pointedly. Yet his root was always, like you said, merciful and kind, the kindness but challenging. He didn’t step away from the hard things he just used. Well, for instance, the woman caught in adultery how we handled the situation. I think God give me grace because sometimes I just want to bang heads together to be totally honest. Sometimes I’m like, don’t you get this? Don’t you see this? This is what’s in the word. And Jesus was just so, so kind and so forgiving and yet uncompromising.
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (14:19):
I mean, it’s amazing who is like him, right? Who even his friends denied him, ran away from him and he had such mercy on everybody. I don’t know how his heart is that big that he could embrace everybody. He’s God and he really does without compromising the truth. Yeah, he’s God and he deserves our worship.
Dr. Ann Gillies (14:41):
So he valued the scriptures extremely highly and especially on sex and marriage. I mean, he didn’t shy away from that topic and he agreed very much with his ancestors, the Jewish faith and their perception. So talk a little bit about that Jesus and sexuality and marriage, because in our day and age, we have a culture is in this like a vortex. There’s so much swirling around them and pick this, pick this, pick this. And it’s like I just feel the weight and the heaviness of the sorrow of our culture. I just feel sometimes it was so much easier in our generation. Things were cut and dried, so to speak, even for non-believers because I didn’t grow up in the church, but came to faith about age of 18. I still had this very deep sense of morality that kind of came from my parents and right and wrong, good and evil, all of those things. And those were great boundaries for me. And then when I came to faith, I saw where all of those things actually originated apart from. I’m like, wow, it’s all there. So what does Jesus say?
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (16:34):
It’s surprising he believed there was an Adam and Eve for example. That is something that might take modern people’s breath away, but he really did. And he believed that God had created humans in his image. And he also understood marriage to be not just something where the text in Genesis too says that a man will leave his mother and father and be united to as one and the two become one, or sorry. And Jesus says the two become one. But he also says what God joins together, let no one separate. And so he really makes it clear that for him, when people get, when a man and women get married, this is something that God does. It’s not just a human event. And so he elevates it to a very high level. And in fact, and he’s more restrictive around marriage than any of his contemporaries.
We know of the two rabbinic schools around the time of Jesus schools, meaning groups of thought. There’s the School of Hillel and the school of Shamai, Hillel was more lenient in a sense or liberal in saying, you can get divorced for pretty much any reason, burnt toast, whatever. And Shamai was saying, no, no, no. This bit that we’re discussing in Deuteronomy, it actually is the nakedness of a thing. That phrase refers to it. The reason why it’s saying the nakedness of a thing is because it’s referring to sexual immorality. Jesus agreed with shamai, but he was even more stringent in saying that he wouldn’t recognize a divorce, a divorce certificate that had been given for no fault divorce. He says, if someone receives that kind of a divorce certificate, it’s invalid. And therefore any marriage that occurs after that is itself now adultery. And so he raises the bar so high that it’s higher than any other teacher we know of in his day.
He really is on his own in that. And one more thing to bear in mind is that Jews didn’t agree on a lot of things in Jesus’ day. There wasn’t a lot of agreement. There was a few things they agreed on, for example, that God had made a covenant with Abraham, that the land was given to the Jewish people, the five books of Moses. They didn’t agree on all the books. For example, the Sadducees only received the five books of Moses as true from God as scripture. And they also all agreed on sexual immorality. And this is how this works. It’s very fascinating when you study it. Jews across the board, Philo, Josephus, all kinds of Jews around the Mediterranean in the Roman empire, including the land of Israel, would say Gentiles engaged in sexual immorality. And we do not. And that’s what makes us Jews.
And we know this because of texts like Leviticus 18 and 20. And when you see those lists that are in there, you can’t sleep with your mother, your father, with different, there’s many, many parameters set for incest. And in those lists there’s also homosexuality. And this was one of the topics that ancient Jews would say, we’re not gentiles who practice same sex sexuality. That’s not us. We don’t do that. And so simply having that knowledge and hearing Jesus teach on marriage would be ample evidence to know that he also did not accept same sex sexuality as something from God.
Dr. Ann Gillies (19:57):
When you were talking about Jesus high standards for marriage and his parameters around divorce, I was thinking about how that might discourage some people from embracing Christianity. If they have had they’ve been divorced maybe more than once, and they perhaps had stepped outside their marriage or there’s other circumstances, or maybe they had a new fault divorce, which we are now allowed for years in Canada, many years, and then they come to Christ, what about then what do those people, or perhaps they already had been serving Christ and they still went through all of that, and yet they chose divorce in a way to deal with their situation. And I’m not talking about someone who’s in an adulterous marriage, but because of Jesus’ high standards, sometimes people go, I don’t want to hear that because it implicates me. How would Jesus do you think deal with that person?
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (21:23):
I believe he’s incredibly merciful to the individual. And I have experienced his mercy and his fellowship is sweeter than any friendship I have on this earth. It really is. Even if everyone were to forsake me, I would have confidence he’s there. And yet he doesn’t budge his standards. He really wants us to thrive as humans. And there’s certain parameters that he puts out there because he knows how it affects us, how it affects society, how it affects the next generation. And I believe that no fault divorce which became popular, you’ll have to correct me, I’m guessing in the sixties and seventies in Canada, whenever that
Dr. Ann Gillies (22:13):
Really, yeah, a bit leader in the, actually it was mid eighties, I think it actually became law,
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (22:20):
But yeah, does it? Okay.
Dr. Ann Gillies (22:21):
Dr. Jordash Kiffiak (22:22):
So. That has caused untold damage. And my own family, my dad left my mom not for good reasons and ended up marrying a family friend. And unless there is true repentance in those areas, that just causes damage that goes on and on. And so when we come to Christ, it takes time, but we go through a process of repentance and there can be layers, but we eventually have to deal with those things. If we want to truly be as followers, we can give lip service to him being Lord. But if he is Lord, it means he actually has to be Lord of every aspect of our life. And it can be painful, but healing is sometimes a painful journey because there’s things that are stuck in us that need to be removed.
Dr. Ann Gillies (23:20):
That’s right. And we can rely on the Holy Spirit to put his finger on those things in our life if we’re serious about following Christ. Well, ardash going to end this particular segment, and then we’re going to come back and do a second second and finish talking about the manuscript. I mean, all we’re doing is giving people a bird’s eye view, but we’re going to talk about the ancient Jews and the Sodom inhabitants and their patterns of misbehavior, and we’re going to go through that. So thank you so much, and we’ll be back with the second session. Thanks for watching everyone. I hope you’ve enjoyed this time with Dr. Kiffiak and that you will really search the scriptures and look for his book to be released. It probably will come out sometime in 2024. So remember the title, Jesus and Sodom Same Sex Sexuality Through the Messiah’s Merciful Eyes. So thank you for joining me. You can find further information on Dr. Jordash Kiffiak at this site. And as well check out my website RestoringTheMosaic.ca.
You’ve been listening to Truth Talks with Dr. Ann. Thank you so much for joining us today. You can find Ann’s books blog and sign up for the newsletter by going to Restoring the Mosaic.