“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable”(Leviticus 7:22). This is the quote that most often justifies Christian homophobia. This essay will show that everyone, is this is what they believe, is welcome into the kingdom of God no matter what their sexual preferences are. The Gay and Lesbian community should be welcomed into the house of God instead of being turned away for being openly homosexual. This subject is the cause of some conterversy between the church and the Gay and Lesbian community.
The Church seems to think that being homosexual is a choice the individual makes in order to directly defy Gods wishes, “The Christian homosexual position when carefully examined can be exposed for what it is at it’s very core: an attack upon the integrity, sufficiency, and authority of scripture, which for the Christian church is an attack upon the very nature of our Holy God!” (P3 Scroggs). Others think that it is just a phase that everyone goes through, and once you fulfill your homosexual desires you can truly be heterosexual again (Moberly).
Some people have evidence that the words in the Bible were translated wrong from Hebrew to Greek and then to English. They believe that this should be made known and made right. The Christian Church is ruled by patriarchy, it was men who wrote the bible and interpret the words of God. This goes to show how men have been telling us what to think say and feel since the beginning of time. They convey their own prejudgices into the bible and tell Christens that this is what they should believe or it is a sin against God. These are some of the main points that will be the foundation of this essay.
Patriarchy is the foundation of the Christian Church. The Church was founded by men, ran by men, and ruled by male ideologies. Until recently men were the only ones who were allowed by the church to be Ordained Priests. It was not until the mid to late 1960’s that women were permitted to attend divinity school and studied seminary classes that prepared them for ordination. “Years after Vatican II, theologians, canon lawyers, and biblical critics all interrogated the tradition and found no persuasive reason why woman should not be ordained…women enrolled in divinity schools and studied at seminaries in astonishingly large numbers…and so were prepared intellectually and psychologically for ordination…Catholic women…had vocations to be priests-intersected with a crises in the priesthood itself: with fewer men being ordained and many leaving the priesthood to marry, there seemed to be a real need to consider women’s ordination” (p680 ). But eventually they decided against the ordination of women with no real explanation except that it has been the tradition of the church since the beginning. Men want to continue to rule the church with their ideas of patriarchy such as no ordained women priests, and no homosexuals are sons or daughters of God.
The Christian church believes that homosexuality is a choice that people make in order to defy the word of God. Although some people have other ideas about what homosexuality really is. Elizabeth R. Moberly, author of Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, says that she doesn’t think that homosexuality is wrong. She says that homosexuality is just a phase that everyone goes through and you have to act out all of your homosexual desires before you can truly be heterosexual. Therefore she believes that you cannot condemn someone for being homosexual because everyone has homosexual desires, some are just stronger desires than others (Molberly). Others have proof that you cannot choose your sexual preference; it would be like choosing your skin color. It is natural; you have no choice in the matter. “Something neither chosen nor changeable; heterosexuals who have made their peace with homosexuals have often done so by accepting that premise. The very term ‘sexual orientation’…implies biology”(p117 Skier). Some people have come to terms with the fact that homosexuality is not a choice or a preference, it a biologically made certainty. To ask homosexuals to hide or change their sexual orientation would be asking them to hide who they really are in order to please the church.
Coming back to the phrase “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Leviticus 18:22), and “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads” (Leviticus 20:13). According to these verses the act of homosexuality is punishable by death, this seems to be a very serious offence. Other offences punishable by death, according to the bible are sins such as “cursing one’s parents…adultery, incest and intercourse with a menstruating woman” (p 44 Helminiak). In this the 20th century how can we conceder these serious offences? If the Christian community would see such a thing as cursing one’s parents as they see homosexuality there would be no Christian community. Also, the list in 1 Corinthians includes adulterers, thieves, and the greedy. 1 Timothy includes that of liars and perjurers. Then why is the sin of homosexuality seen in today’s society as so terrible they cannot be ordained and a sin such as greed is not given a second thought when they are considered for ordination. There are also some people who believe that the bible does not oppose homosexuality; this point will be shown throughout this essay. The book The New Testament and Homosexuality by Robin Scroggs suggests that the bible does not oppose homosexuality. In the case of Leviticus he says that the bible isn’t dealing with homosexuality in general. He suggests that the answer to the condemnation objection is to the wasting of male semen. “The condemnation of male homosexuality acts must be seen in the context of the procreative ethic which it served…. since today wasting of semen may not considered sin at all, the contemporary relevance of the law in nullified” (p13 Scroggs). Daniel A. Helminiak, Ph.D., author of What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality says that the translation of the words “man-lying-with-man” was translated from Hebrew to Greek wrong. The Hebrews had no word for homogenital behavior therefore it was translated as “the man who lies with a male the lying of a woman” this phrase could have been translated one of two ways. The first being “lying of a male” and the second “lying with a male.” One is interpreted as any homosexual act and the other as an act of male prostitution. This author believes that the sin is not the act of homosexuality but is the act of male prostitution. These are some ways of interpreting this bible verse.
The story of Adam and Eve is often used to defend homophobia among Christians. The saying that is most often used for this purpose is that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. They conclude from this story that man and woman were made in Gods image together and this is the way that God intended. But nowhere in this story does it condemn same-sex relations. The point of this story is often overlooked, it was to paint a picture of a sad and sinful state and to insist that this was not God’s doing. God created the good in the world but people misuse creation, so life becomes hard. Genesis is a lesson about religion, God’s way and our sin, not a lesson about sexual orientation. Nothing in those two chapters suggests that heterosexuality, in contrast to homosexuality, was a concern in the author’s mind. People may argue that it is not what the Bible says, but what it doesn’t say. Since the Bible does not actively support homosexuality, it must be that the Bible condemns it. But this conclusion is not very logical. It is simply that we do not know the actual opinion on the subject. Some scholars actually point out positive instances of homosexuality in the Bible. 1 Samuel 18:1-4 shows the affection on the part of the prince, Jonathan, toward the Shepherd boy, David: “The soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…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 armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” The story goes on to say that King Saul finds out about the relationship between Jonathan and David and calls it perverse and refers to Jonathan a bastard. King Saul says that Jonathan has brought him shame with his nakedness, which implies to sex in biblical times. When Jonathan and David part it demonstrates intense sorrow: David rose from beside the stone heap and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He bowed three times, and they kissed each other and wept with each other; David wept more. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.’” He got up and left; and Jonathan went into the city. (1 Samuel 20:41-42) Finally at Jonathan’s death David concludes his grieve with his words: I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of a woman” (1 Samuel 20:41-42) This suggest that the relationship between Jonathan and David was more than a friendship and it leaves you feeling sorry for the boys that King Saul did not respect their relationship. Other examples of positive instances of homosexuality in the Bible is in the book of Ruth 1:16-17 and Daniel 1:9. There is no historical evidence in the bible to defend the homophobia of people today.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states, ”Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral…nor homosexual offenders…will inherit the kingdom of God.” The Hebrews words that are translated into ‘homosexual’ in this text are ‘arsenokoita’ and ‘malokoi’. The translations of these vary but we know the general meanings of the words. ‘Malokoi’ has no specific reference to honogenitality. Various interpretations of this word are effeminate, boy prostitute, or sissy. The word ’arsenokoita’ on the other hand, makes reference to male same-sex acts. It is often interpreted as homosexual, sodomite, child molester, pervert, or person with infamous habits. The translators of this combined the two words ‘malokoi’ and ‘arsenokoita’ into one and came up with ‘homosexual. Although in a later (1977) edition of the bible the words were changed to read “sexual pervert” and then once again in the 1989 New Revised standard version translated the two words separately as “male prostitutes and sodomites.” As the author of What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality says, it seems that as prejudices changed, so have the translations of the bible”(Helminiak). The church is run by patriarchy and whatever they interpret to be evil is, therefore they view homosexuality as evil and everybody believes it.
The parable written in Genesis 19:1-11 and in Judges 19:22-25 is the story of “The Sin of Sodom.” The parable is that of an old man who welcomes two angels into his house to stay the night in safety. Soon after the angels settled in, all of the men of the town of Sodom came to the old man’s house and demanded that he turn over the two strangers to them so that they could have sex with the two strange men. The old man told the men no and that this was a wicked thing that they wanted to do. Instead, he offered the men of the town his two young virgin daughters, and said that they could do whatever they wanted with them if they left the two young men alone. That night the daughters were raped by the men of the town and left on the porch to stay there until sunrise. The next day the angels left the city of Sodom with The old man and his family and the Lord destroyed the city of Sodom. This parable is one that is very famous for justifying homophobia among Christians. The very word sodomite was taken to refer to someone who engages in anal sex, and the sin of Sodom was taken to be male homogenital acts. The old man claims that what the men of the town is a sin against God and is even willing to give up his daughters virginity to stop them from committing such an evil deed. The word for ‘sex’ was originally interpreted as “to know.” In the days that this story took place “to know” did, sometimes, have sexual implications associated with it. Whether this story was one of those cases or not is disputable. It could have meant that the men of the town simply wanted to find out who these men were because they didn’t like the fact that the old man was inviting strangers into their town. Another way of looking at the phrase “to know” is that it refers to not only male-male sex, but also male-male abuse and rape (Helminiak). The author of The New Testament and Homosexuality thinks that the sin this parable is referring to is not that of natural homosexuality but rather that of homosexual acts by people who are not homosexual “a pervert is said to be a person who engages in acts contrary to his or her orientation. Thus a heterosexual person who engages in homosexual activity is a pervert, just as a homosexual person would be who engages in heterosexual acts” (p14 Scroggs). Although, some insist that this sin in this parable is nothing to do with homosexuality at all. They say that it refers to the sin of inhospitality. There was a cardinal rule in Sodom that said citizens of Sodom were to offer hospitality to travelers because the nights in the deserts were so cold the results of spending the night in the desert could be fatal to the traveler. This rule was so strict that people couldn’t even harm an enemy who had sought refuge for the night. So, The old man believed that he was upholding the law of hospitality by not exposing his guests to the abuse of the men of Sodom (Helminiak). There are many passages from the bible itself that proves that the sin in this parable was that of inhospitality. “The prophet Ezekiel (16:48-49) states the case baldly: ‘this was the guilt of you sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.’ The sin of the Sodomites was that they refused to take in the needy travelers” (p40 Helminiak). Jesus himself makes reference to Sodom, and the issues is rejection of God’s messengers in Matthew 10:5-15: “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ’…Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave…If any one will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than of that town.’” In this reading there is absolutely no reference to sex but a direct reference to the rejection of God’s messengers. There are other less direct biblical references to Sodom: Isaiah 1:10-17 and 3:9, Jeremiah 23:14 and Zephaniah 2:8-11. The sins listed in those places are injustice, oppression, partiality, adultery, lies and encouraging evildoers. “The Bible often uses Sodom as an example of the worst sinfulness, but the concern is never simply sexual acts. Least of all is the concern homogenital acts” (p41 Helminiak). The irony with this parable and how it is interpreted by today’s society is that now the gay and lesbian community is not welcomed into society as God wants all people to be instead they are shunned and made outsiders. They are disowned by their families, separated from their children, fired from their jobs, and beaten and killed in the streets. All this is done in the name of religion and supposed Christian morality. This is the behavior that the bible truly condemns. “So those who oppress homosexuals because of the supposed ‘sin of Sodom’ may themselves be the real ‘sodomites,’ as the Bible understands it” (p41 Helminiak).
Thorough this essay the question of whether or not the Bible really opposes homosexuality has been asked and answered with the belief that the Bible does not oppose homosexuality. With careful examination of the texts in the Bible that is used by Christians to attack homosexuals for being what they are it has been proven that homosexuality is not a sin but is merely used by homophobics as a justification for their homophobia. The belief that Gays and Lesbians choose their sexual orientation to defy the word of God is wrong because they have no choice whether to be homosexual or heterosexual, we are the way we are because that is what God intended. “God doesn’t make Junk” is a famous Christian saying, it’s time that Christians paid attention to what it is saying. Numerous people have analyzed the quotes taken from the bible that was stated throughout this essay and they agree that there is no reference to homosexuality being a sin. If these points are not enough to convince fellow homophobic Christians that their homophobia is coming from the wrong place then it is asked of them, did the bible not say that God loves EVERYONE? Well which one will it be: God screwed up when he made homosexuals and they are evil, or God loves everybody? The choice is yours to make.
Hekminiak,Daniel A., Ph.D. What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality. Episcopal Bishop of Newark NJ. 1994
Moberly, Elizabeth R.. Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic. James Clarke & Co. Ltd.. 1982
Siker, Jeffery S. Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate. Westminster John Knox Press Louisville, Kentucky. 1994
Scroggs, Robbin. The New Testament and Homosexuality. Fortress Press Philadelphia. 1983
International Bible Society. The Holy Bible., Zondervan Publishing House. 1984
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