Home > Uncategorized > The Bible and Homosexuality: Facts subject to be wrong??

The Bible and Homosexuality: Facts subject to be wrong??

I wanted to do a quick write up on the Bible and its take on homosexuality, so I’m going to cover a few key points very quickly with both historical and Biblical references as my sources. None of this is new, but instead only meant to reiterate a few key points for a few key people.

First, the Old Testament:

Commonly, Sodom and Gomorrah are cited as having been judged for their sexual depravity and immorality.  It’s clear, though, reading from a historical perspective, that their sin was a lack of hospitality, not any sort of sexual sin. Their depravity was a result of said lack of hospitality, which led them to rape. The implication here is great. When Genesis was written (and indeed, up until about 10th century AD) the general consensus was that homosexual acts could only be committed for violent purposes. That is, rape and domination. So, the angels came in disguise and the men of the city came to dominate them and prove their superiority; an insubordination unto God, and a violent, depraved act.

Many cultures, including but not limited to the Greeks and Romans would rape conquered foreign men as an act of dominance and shaming. We see a variant of this in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah- the visitors of Lot (who turn out to be angels) are saved from attempted rape of this kind by Lot. It is very interesting, therefore that when Sodom and Gomorrah are referenced later, their sexual sin is only mentioned as an expression of deeper sins.

He did not spare the neighbours of Lot,

   whom he loathed on account of their arrogance. (Ecclesiastes 16:8)

 

This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

 

In Luke 10, and several places in Jewish Wisdom literature, the sin of Sodom is referred to as inhospitality to outsiders.

 

Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:8-12) 

 

The depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah was not their sin, although it was a result of their sin. Their sin was their inhospitable nature. They raped outsiders, lauded themselves above all visitors, including the messengers of God. Their sin, above all else, was their disrespect. 

 

The only evidence against this interpretation comes from Jude, seen here:

Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7)

However, not only is this passage vague, and an undermining of Christ’s own teachings, it’s typical Jude miscalculation. Take, for instance, the following passage in Jude:

It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘See, the Lord is coming with tens of thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgement on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage. (Jude 1:14-16)

Jude is seen here quoting Enoch, which, at best is considered lesser scripture by the church’s which accept it. Our church doesn’t even acknowledge it as having been inspired by God, and for good reason. The book is rife with inconsistencies, and speaks of God in absolutes for where else in the Bible he is not known. It shows him as a war God who will strike down the impudent and a God who sides with the powerful, not the meek, blatantly opposite to YHWH’s teachings elsewhere.

Next is Leviticus. The passages in question come from chapters 18 and 20:

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

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)

The first, and most obvious thing to note is that we don’t kill people any more. That’s blatantly against the fabric of a moral culture, but it fits right in with 4th century BCE interpretations of killing. The Old Testament, after all, never actually cites “Thou shalt not kill,” but “Thou shalt not murder.” Since then, we have come to define nearly all kinds of killing as murder with very few exceptions, something that can be attributed not only to societal development, but to Jesus Christ’s condemnation of Levitical practices and the Law in general, calling it a curse for which no man can succeed. The New Testament, much more than the Old Testament, is against killing, and we are NT followers first and foremost.

However, these passages need to be looked at in greater context. Take careful note of the fact that the passages do not condemn lesbian practices. For a book that is so utterly specific so as to note nearly every relation one must not have (done to uncle’s wives married in) it’s strange it wouldn’t condemn lesbian practices. The chapter, its entirety, also doesn’t mention father/daughter relationships. Why? When Leviticus was written, a woman was the property of her father, and later her husband. Naturally, a father could then see fit to treat his daughter as he saw fit, even if that meant removing her sexual purity. However, any act against that girl by an outsider, whether consensual or not, was considered rape. Why? Because she belonged to her father, and so her consent was not her own. It required the consent of the father, and so it was seen as rape. All extra-marital sex in the Bible is seen in the same way—as rape, because the woman’s body does not belong to her. It is theft to sleep with her. She is her father’s property, or her husband’s.

So then why condemn male/male sexual practices at all if the passage is about property rights? Because it’s actually about maintaining the patriarchal order. For a man to sleep with another man is for one man to dominate another, and so to undermine a male’s social status. It makes at least one of the two men a woman and thus denigrates his social status. The passage is not concerned with homosexuality in itself, but rather men losing their social status, and thus their grip on their property (women). Jesus reformed all this. In fact, the passage points to Jesus in an unexpected way.

The word abomination, in its original context, does not refer to something that is inherently bad. It refers to something which is seen as terrible to a certain group at a certain time. There are no concrete abominations in life. They are subject to change over time and place. It’s an abomination in our culture not to wash our hands, but in India they don’t see it the same way. Are we right then, and they’re wrong? No. They just do things differently. They eat with their clean hand only, an abomination to us but perfectly normal to them. In our society, as women are not property, homosexuality cannot be seen as an abomination in this context.

Other mentions of Old Testament homosexuality refer to the term “kadesh,” a Hebrew word which is often mistranslated as the male form of “kadeshah,” which is a female prostitute. Kadesh, on the other hand, relates to an indentured male prostitute who is a sex slave to his master. Whoops.

In at least one place, however, there is evidence for a possible homosexual relationship in the Bible, that between David and Jonathan. Take for instance, this passage from 2 Samuel.

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
   your love to me was wonderful,
   passing the love of women.
(2 Samuel 1:26)

David is all but explicitly stating here that he’s in love with Jonathan, saying he prefers Jonathan’s love to the love of a woman. Jonathan’s love for David has surpassed the love of women.

Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armour, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved. (1 Samuel 18:3-5)

Jonathan loves David as he loves himself, an example of the body’s grace, defined by the church as loving another as yourself and hoping for the reciprocation of feeling after your feelings are made known. While this is in itself traditionally used by the church something that can only occur between a male and a female, it seems to be happening here, and falls completely in line with Jesus’ command that we love our neighbour as we love our self. He didn’t say how to love them.

He said to him, ‘Perish the thought! You shall not die. My father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me; and why should my father hide this from me? Never!’ But David also swore, ‘Your father knows well that you like me; and he thinks, “Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be grieved.” (1 Samuel 20:2-3)

Whoa. It looks to me like David is saying that Jonathan’s father knows about Jon’s feelings for Davd. However, he has kept his knowledge from Jon in order to protect his son from the grievance of such knowledge that his feelings are known.

In fact, their relationship is written out entirely through both Samuel’s as being described as ‘ahava,’ which is the same relationship word used for a heterosexual marriage. Their love is like that of a heterosexual marriage. Although David is married, he has many wives, and one of them is even Jonathan’s sister, but he never proclaims to love her. He only proclaims to love Jonathan.

Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.’ (1 Samuel 20:30-31)

Here, Saul proclaims that Jonathan is a perverse son because he has chosen the son of Jesse (David). He calls him a shame to his mother’s nakedness, which means genitals, which means womb. He is a shame to his mother, essentially. He notes that David must die for the kingdom to be established, but obviously God favoured David, and you know how the story ends.

There are many more verses pointing to the love of Jonathan and David, including that David and Jonathan enter into a covenant honoured by God. If their relationship was indeed homosexual, it shows that God cares far more about why you love than who you love. I won’t get into it, but the story of Ruth and Naomi can also be interpreted this way.

Now, onto the New Testament:

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 worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! 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.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them. (Romans 1:24-32)

Well, this seems pretty cut and dry, but really it isn’t. I’ll cut it down to size quickly, rather than dwelling on it:

  • First, their sin is giving up God for a lie. They have abandoned God, and so God has abandoned them to their lusts. It has nothing to do with what they’re doing, but why they’re doing it.
  • Second, the use of the word “unnatural” here is pretty clear. If David and Jonathan had a natural homosexual relationship, these people are having an unnatural homosexual relationship, defined by lust rather than by a legitimate attraction. Thus, they are doing it out of subservience to the flesh, and not out of any sort of kindness towards one another. There is no love mentioned here. In fact, the passage follows up with an enormous list of horrible, evil things, none of which are referred to as “unnatural.” They’re just bad. Homosexuality is specifically singled out as being bad because it is unnatural, and it is unnatural because it is not really homosexuality. It lust.

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31)

You’ll notice here that law is not put into capitals, which would indicate the Law and the Prophets, the name at the time for the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Instead, he refers to the law, which, as Jesus put forward, is to love the Lord your God, and to love your neighbour as yourself. To uphold the law, all one requires is love. It does not state how this love is attained, but rather that it must be real. One can love in a variety of ways. Paul himself remained celibate in order to devote his full attention to God, but he still loved his fellow man.

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)

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. (1 Timothy 1:9-10)

Well, these two verses seem pretty cut and dry as well, but they aren’t either. Looking at Corinthians first, we see two words that stand out against homosexuality: Male prostitutes and sodomites. Translated, they read as malokoi and arsenokoitai. Okay, that’s cool, but what does it mean? Malokoi, meaning soft men, were boys and sometimes men who were sodomized by other males. The term soft man means young man for the most part, as young boys are soft like their female counterparts. Arsenokoitai, on the other hand, means “men who bed males,” which still sounds fairly straightforward. The only problem here is that it specifically refers to men who exercised the dominant role in a relationship with a malokoi. This was rape. Essentially, they were older men who had sex with younger boys. This passage is specifically calling out child rape, which is something I think we can get behind.

It’s a lot of skubula to take in. Skubula, by the way, being the Greek word for “shit,” which Paul used in Philippians 3:8. Translated today as rubbish, it still means shit. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Moving onto 1 Timothy, the passage in question is preceded by multiple verses about false teachers, who were thought to be sexually depraved, or just depraved in general, leading their students into lives of depravity, including murder, incest, and the rape of babies. For more on this, check out 1 Romans 1:29-31; 1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:9-10; and Galatians 5:19-21. I looked that up in my Bible! But even still, the list specifically cites the arsenokoites in this passage when it says sodomites. That is, the gay child rapist prostitute buyers whom nobody likes. It also calls out fornicators, which, in its original context refers to someone who sleeps around without love. Not like a prostitute, who is often forced into it, but someone who is just generally a slut and has sex without love.

Moving on to Jesus himself:

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 19:12)

Okay, so this is talking about eunuchs, not gays, but what is a eunuch? In the modern sense, or the Chinese sensibility, a eunuch is someone who has had their genitalia removed. 2,000 years ago, though? It meant anyone with either strange genitals or people with strange uses of their genitals. In general, back then, a person who had been stripped of their genitals was only being referred to if they were referred to as a eunuch of the court. Thus, what Jesus is saying here is that hermaphrodites and homosexuals can operate for the Lord just as anyone else. Let anyone accept this who can. Jesus knew this was a hard thing for people to grasp, but still He put it forward.

Let’s note the Ethiopian eunuch for a moment here, who received Christ’s salvation. It is widely recognized that the point of the Ethiopian eunuch’s story was that Jesus was saying that His salvation is offered “even to blacks,” who at the time (and even today) were thought of as lesser people, or not people at all. Clearly, Jesus disagreed. Why is this important? Because Paul was not always as smart as he thought he was. While he agreed that slaves were freed in Christ, he did not preach for their literal freedom. At the time when Paul was alive, the majority of slaves would have either been from Ethiopia or South Sudan, which, by the way, would make them black as the night.

Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to answer back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Saviour. (Titus 2:9-11)

Looks like, while Christ viewed all men as equals, and all slaves as one day free, Paul basically said “Just shut up and be a good slave, knowing your reward is coming after you’re dead. In this way you can look like a good Christian!” It’s not a very good interpretation of Jesus. Paul said some very, very smart things, but he was still bound to the world around him. He understood the law, love God and love your neighbour, stating even that “all is lawful,” but not all is beneficial, but he saw that as an excuse for slavery, and even the subjugation of women. He saw slavery and the subjugation of women as beneficial, clearly, because he was living in a time where that’s all anybody knew. He can’t be blamed for it, but it is worth noting that Paul was not the be-all-and-end-all of Christian wisdom.

Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

While Christ saw women as equal to men, Paul still saw them through the lens of his time—as property. They could be saved, just like men, but they were still subservient to men. Obviously this is a notion we disagree with nowadays, so why are we still listening to Paul on the subject of homosexuality? Although there is much evidence he was not referring to homosexuality, even if he was, he was still limited to the framework of his time period, one in which slavery and the concept of women as property was still very much alive.

If we take the words of men as gospel, we get all screwed up. It’s only through the Word—in Greek, logos, which also means logic—and the word made flesh that we can get an understanding of what God really wants. The Bible is not the word. Jesus is the physical manifestation of the word. Jesus is the physical manifestation of logic. If all logic points to homosexuals being able to engage in loving relationships with one another, then Jesus must have been okay with it. Take note that no such excuses can be made for paedophilia or bestiality in the Bible. These are not loving relationships, and Christ knows that. To follow logic is to follow God. Logic dictates that homosexuals are hurting no one and are trying only to love one another. Logic dictates that the Christian temperament towards gays drives them away from the church in the long run.

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