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Neferet -House of Night-

Neferet -House of Night-'s avatar

PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:18 am
And this post I found in the ED may change what you've heard. smilies/icon_biggrin.gif So here goes:

Boxy Wrote:
Homosexuality Is Not Prohibited by the Christian Bible

This is a thesis I have to thank my old debating buddy, Ananel. To him I dedicate this infodump in memory of his former thesis, as well as to commemorate his service to M&R and the religious studies community at large. To him I say vale and wish him the best in whatever travails may befall him in his journeys through life, the universe, and everything. I hope that this thesis, though paltry it may be, meets his approval and the approval of the peer review process here in M&R.

I had stood firmly on the side against this very argument, but I came to the realization that the Bible just doesn't say anything about a practice that either (A) didn't exist back then, or (B) didn't attract Paul's criticism. People sometimes force interpretations on the Bible when it was never meant to mean that in the first place. To do so is dishonest at best and even blasphemous at worst. As the Bible admonishes, it's wrong to add to scripture.

Thus, the only conclusion that I have is that prohibitions against homosexuality depend on the tradition you partake in. As a Mormon, I recognize that my tradition doesn't view homosexuality very positively and asks people who attracted to the same gender to remain celibate and/or marry the opposite gender regardless. In the future, the Church may change its stance, but meh. It is my opinion that there are far worse problems in our society than who is sleeping with whom, so therefore I will focus my efforts on clarifying truth, giving meaningful service, and calling out people who are being dishonest and disseminating clearly incorrect information.

It is important to understand the basis of this argument, because people can and do make public policy decisions based off what they perceive as theological truth that is unforgiving. And, quite frankly, that is a position that is just not true. Personally, as a Mormon, I'm not going to tell people what they can and can't do in their own bedrooms, unless I happen to be a legal and ecclesiastical representative of the Church, which I'm not right now. And even if I did, the only purview I could have would be over people in my own faith and in my own congregation. Until that time, I will show an increase in love towards my friends who happen to have fallen in love (and truly love it is) and formed a strong bond that serves as the bedrock for a family.

Leviticus 18:22, 20:13

These can arguably refer to temple prostitution or other pagan fertility rituals, as a good deal of the Torah tends to. Doing so makes you unfit for Hebrew rituals. That is what is meant by "ritual uncleanness," which a Christian shouldn't care about.

Though the scripture does not reference a particular ritual it is forbidding, the culture context is more important to consider. Canaanite fertility cults abounded around the Hebrews, and such practices as boiling a goat in its mother's milk were primarily a response to Canaanite practices. I mean, come on -- some of these mitzvot just don't make sense all by themselves. However, it does make sense in the cultural context the Israelites were surrounded with.

"After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. ... (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled [i.e. made common]smilies/icon_wink.gif ... Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 18:3,27,30)

Clearly, these were all practices that the people before had done. As such, to distinguish the practice of worshiping YHWH from that of the Canaanite deities, he gives them prohibitions and actions that would make them "peculiar" (unique).

Chapter 20 of Leviticus also deals with various social and cultural practices which by banning would make the Israelites a completely distinct culture:

"And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. ... A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them." (Leviticus 20:6,27)

Again, this deals with distinguishing the Israelites from the Canaanites, rather than from the fundamental immorality of the thing. Their practices were foreign, and the Israelites had already dilluted their culture by staying in Egypt for too long. Was it possible for Israel to come up with its own culture? Yes, but it had to extinguish the Canaanite practices. This was all about nationalism and the need to establish a new society, not from the underlying problems with talking with supernatural entities and/or engaging in sexual relations with a person you love and cherish.

In any case, the concepts of ritual cleanliness are abolished completely by the New Testament. "And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." (Acts 10:2smilies/icon_cool.gif Thus, concepts of being unclean by virtue of disobeying specifics in Leviticus should be disregarded, since the concept of "cleanliness" is moot in Christianity.

The only thing that is important in Christianity is to have faith and to love one another. Peter again admonishes the early Church to not require the Gentiles to follow the Mosaic Law:

" 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
" (Acts 15:8-11)

Faith makes a person pure, and the witness of the Holy Ghost tells a person that their sins are forgiven. It is not a checklist of to-dos and not-to-dos -- which about half of the New Testament goes into agonizing details.

However, there are some things that are required of Christians:

" 18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication [temple prostitution], and from things strangled, and from blood.
" (same chapter, vs. 18-20)

All of these elements have some sort of connection to pagan rites, whether through eating something offered to an idol or engaging in the celebration of a deity other than YHWH. As such, these are subject to smititude.

Over and over the writers of the New Testament preach against Christians having to obey the "law of the circumcision," which incorporates all the ritual requirements of the Mosaic Law, including the prohibitions against wearing garments of more than one material, of having sex with a woman on her period (i.e. in the "time of her uncleanness") and having to celebrate the Feasts of Passover, Tabernacles, and so forth (which were absolutely required by practicing Jews).

So, in summary: the New Testament is rife with statements that you don't have to obey the Mosaic Law. In fact, Paul goes one more and states that any and all commandments have to be relatable somehow to the one commandment: love thy neighbor as thyself (Romans 13:10, Galatians 5:13-14). In order to maintain that God is against homosexuality, you have to prove definitively that it fundamentally goes against the notion of loving your neighbor as yourself. Under consensual homosexuality, I find this prospect incredulous at best.

1 Corinthians 6:9

There's a number of problems with this scripture in 1 Corinthians. The best way to describe this is to refer back to the original Greek just to show how poorly understood this scripture really is.

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [malakos], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [arsenokoitai] Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Malakos means "catamite," which is a specific title of the submissive role in pedastery (which is nowadays considered *****). There's a problem of power disparity, as these young boys were often "submitting" to their professional mentors and masters so as to "learn the ways of the trade" of sex. This relationship had nothing at all to do with love (or even lust), and had more to do with learning sexual techniques and/or to gratify one's master.

Arsenokoites was a word of uncertain meaning, as the author was apparently coining the word as he wrote. It is a splicing-together of two words, arsenos meaning "man," and koites meaning "bed." It could mean two men in a bed, it could mean male prostitution (i.e. a woman inviting a man other than her husband into her bed), or it could mean a man alone in a bed engaging in sexual relations with himself. At various times, it has been translated as a temple prostitute, masturbator, those who are "morally soft" (i.e. wishy-washy), and even more curiously as "abuser of themselves with mankind" (which while adding content to the meaning, it does leave it accurately vague).

Here's a good source that goes into some detail:

ReligiousTolerance.org Wrote:
I Corinthians 6:9 -- Sins that Paul believes will send you to Hell:

The author, Paul, listed a group of sinful activities. He believed that practicing any one of them would prevent a person from inheriting the Kingdom of God. They would be sent to Hell when they died. This verse has been translated in many ways among the 25 English versions of the Bible that we have analyzed.

One of the condemned behaviors is "malakoi arsenokoitai" in the original Greek. Malakoi means soft. It was translated in both Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 as "soft" (KJV) or as "fine" (NIV) in references to clothing. The actual meaning of arsenokoitai has been lost. Some sources in the early Church interpreted the phrase as referring to people of soft morals; i.e. exhibiting unethical behavior. That may well be the correct meaning, because presumably people from that era would probably have still known the meaning of the word "arsenokoitai." Others in the early Church thought that it meant "temple prostitutes" - people who engaged in ritual sex in Pagan temples. Still others thought that it meant "masturbators." At the time of Martin Luther, the latter meaning was in universal use. But by the 20th century, masturbation had become a more generally accepted behavior, whereas many Christians were concentrating on homosexuality as a despised activity. New Biblical translations abandoned references to masturbators and switched the attack to homosexuals. The last religious writing in English that interpreted 1 Corinthians 6:9 as referring to masturbation is believed to be the [Roman] Catholic Encyclopedia of 1967. 1

Each Bible translating team seems to take whatever activity that their group particularly disapproves of and inserts it into this verse. To compound their error, they usually do not have the decency to indicate by a footnote that the actual meaning of the word is unknown, and that they are merely guessing its meaning.

Conservative Christians tend to be very concerned about their own salvation and that of their family and friends. It is a pity that one of the behaviors that many Christians feel will cause them to lose their salvation is currently unknown. Many probably fear that they might inadvertently engage in the activity and thus having to spend eternity in Hell.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/masturba3.htm


This source also provides a good discussion on differing interpretations of malakos and arsenokoites. My point is that the words themselves are vague and open to interpretation, not "clear" or concise in any way, shape, or form. Pretty par for the course whenever Paul uses words outside of their original context and makes up new words altogether. I mean, he barely knew Greek and most of his grammar is stumbling and imprecise.

Or, to summarize my point: Paul knew exactly what he was talking about, but we don't really have any idea whatsoever. Whatever he meant has been appropriated by just about everyone to mean whatever vague sexual indiscretion they feel like lampooning at the moment -- whether temple prostitution, masturbation, and being wishy-washy -- or as John would say, "lukewarm" (Rev. 3:16). The current vogue is to lombast homosexuality because a number of Christians happen to like boys/girls/both.

If you wish to interpret arsenokoites as "a man engaging in homosexual relations in a loving, closed relationship," I could interpret it just as easily as "a man who is at any time in a bed doing anything, including sleeping." It just does not fit like some people want to force it to be.

Romans 1:26-28

I'm gonna go old school on this one, and quote Karashebi from 2004 (or earlier), who had an excellent response to this particular scripture:

Karashebi Wrote:
Romans 1:18-32 is the key to the argument. However, there are a series of problems with the classic interpretation of the passage.

One, we rarely take verses 26-27 in context with the rest of the passage. The lusts spoken of are the result of godlessness and the refusal of the gospel of God. The godless ones are described as being given over to their passions. This loss of control is key and important to the Greeks and Romans Paul is writing to, and was considered a very bad thing. It is important to realize that the passage is not centered on homosexual relations, no matter how you interpret it.

Two, the relationships are referred to as being unnatural. The term pushin is the Greek word for natural and refers, in general, to that which is according either to socially accepted morals or to one's innate nature. The society Paul is writing to, both Roman and Greek, considered homosexual relationships to be quite natural. What would have been considered unnatural to the Romans would specifically have been something where a citizen was "on bottom." Such a position degrades the citizen's status and was considered to be a horrible thing.

Three, the shameful lusts that are spoken of are not specifically described. Unlike Leviticus, where they are listed, the passage assumes that its audience knows what is being spoken of. While Paul is a born and trained Jew, familiar with the ceremonial law, he is preaching to newly converted Christians in Rome and Greece. These people, though somewhat familiar with Jewish beliefs, could not have been considered familiar enough to assume that "shameful lusts" meant what is said in Leviticus. Paul is not a man to leave explanations unclear. When necessary, he goes into great detail and repetition to make his point absolutely clear and understood. Therefore, by context it seems he is speaking to the Roman's understanding of shameful, the subjugation of a citizen for example. Further, pathos (lusts) does not necessitate a sexual connotation.

Four, the fact that we have women doing things with women instead of men and that we have men doing things with men instead of women is clear from what Paul says in verses However, Paul does not at any point say what is being done. He lacks the clarity of Leviticus. Any number of things could be occurring, and without a clear indication that the text is specifically speaking of homosexual sex acts on any level we are familiar with today we cannot claim that Romans 1 clearly declares that the ceremonial law still applies in this case.

My arguments are quite basic. This is only an overview of them. I have far more detailed descriptions of the issues involved and will happily offer them. This argument is also not new. You can find websites offering similar interpretations themselves. I came to these conclusions, however, through prayer and consideration with friends, not a website. These positions, also, are hardly universally accepted. There is strong evidence in both directions with regards Romans 1. Some churches still make the claim that parts of the ceremonial law remain intact. There are strong arguments for and against this

My single greatest point is this: Can you honestly declare something a sin when you cannot clearly show without serious contention that the Bible declares it to be a sin? When we look at the Ten Commandments, we know basically what they say and don't argue over them. Christ further explains them during his life, giving us more information about what they mean. We know these things to be sins, and there is little debate. Homosexual sex is found in the ceremonial laws and what few verses speak of it outside of that set of laws are hotly contested. How can we clearly state, based upon these facts, that homosexuality is indeed a sin?


Conclusion

The only conclusion that can be made is that the Bible does not speak against the practice of consensual homosexuality as we know it today. This is not to say that individual traditions can't make decisions about what their practicants should or shouldn't be doing -- however, the Bible is not an ironclad reference on this matter due to the reasons listed above. The Bible may very well be considered the very Word of God by any particular tradition, but to over-interpret it to the point of adding to what the Bible actually says is both dishonest and possibly blasphemous.

This is part of a long line of interpreting the Bible -- and particularly 1 Corinthians 6 -- in any way one sees fit to attack any given moral problem of their day. This is just downright dishonest, and although I can respect what their tradition asks of its members, I cannot in good conscience see this as any kind of a good justification for public policy decisions. We must stand up and acknowledge that members of our society have rights to participate in a communally-recognize institution which has been dominated by Judeo-Christian interpretations for the better part of two thousand years.

Just be honest about it. You may disagree with it, but don't lie about what the Bible says, because it might not say what you think it is. I hope and pray that we all take the study of our own and others' religions, worldviews, and philosophies with a grain of humility and deference, and that we acknowledge that from time to time we are, in fact, incorrect, and that the more bits of truth and reconciliation we gain, the greater this world will be.
 
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:28 pm
Boxy's Article Wrote:
Arsenokoites was a word of uncertain meaning, as the author was apparently coining the word as he wrote. It is a splicing-together of two words, arsenos meaning "man," and koites meaning "bed." It could mean two men in a bed, it could mean male prostitution (i.e. a woman inviting a man other than her husband into her bed), or it could mean a man alone in a bed engaging in sexual relations with himself. At various times, it has been translated as a temple prostitute, masturbator, those who are "morally soft" (i.e. wishy-washy), and even more curiously as "abuser of themselves with mankind" (which while adding content to the meaning, it does leave it accurately vague).


Something is missing here...

Ph.D Thomas E. Schmidt Wrote:
Some modern writers have attempted to narrow its meaning from homosexual acts in general to male prostitution, solicitation of male prostitutes, or (coupled in 1 Cor 6:9; with malakoi, another obscure word possibly meaning "the effeminate" ) the active partners in homosexual relationships. These suggestions, however, ignore the Greek Old Testament (LXX) versions of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, which use both arsenos and koiten, the latter passage placing them side-by-side; literally, "whoever lies with a male, having intercourse (as with) a female." This is the obvious source of the compound word. Perhaps Paul himself, who knew and used the Septuagint extensively, or some other Hellenistic Jew not long before Paul's time, derived from the passages in Leviticus a compound word that described homosexual acts in general. This drawing in of Leviticus to Paul's letters is also significant in that it provides further demonstration that he perceived a moral and not merely purity-based prohibition of homosexual acts in the Old Testament.
 

Monergism

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Crimson Raccoon

Crimson Raccoon's avatar

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 1:34 pm
Monergism Wrote:
Boxy's Article Wrote:
Arsenokoites was a word of uncertain meaning, as the author was apparently coining the word as he wrote. It is a splicing-together of two words, arsenos meaning "man," and koites meaning "bed." It could mean two men in a bed, it could mean male prostitution (i.e. a woman inviting a man other than her husband into her bed), or it could mean a man alone in a bed engaging in sexual relations with himself. At various times, it has been translated as a temple prostitute, masturbator, those who are "morally soft" (i.e. wishy-washy), and even more curiously as "abuser of themselves with mankind" (which while adding content to the meaning, it does leave it accurately vague).


Something is missing here...

Ph.D Thomas E. Schmidt Wrote:
Some modern writers have attempted to narrow its meaning from homosexual acts in general to male prostitution, solicitation of male prostitutes, or (coupled in 1 Cor 6:9; with malakoi, another obscure word possibly meaning "the effeminate" ) the active partners in homosexual relationships. These suggestions, however, ignore the Greek Old Testament (LXX) versions of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, which use both arsenos and koiten, the latter passage placing them side-by-side; literally, "whoever lies with a male, having intercourse (as with) a female." This is the obvious source of the compound word. Perhaps Paul himself, who knew and used the Septuagint extensively, or some other Hellenistic Jew not long before Paul's time, derived from the passages in Leviticus a compound word that described homosexual acts in general. This drawing in of Leviticus to Paul's letters is also significant in that it provides further demonstration that he perceived a moral and not merely purity-based prohibition of homosexual acts in the Old Testament.


That is so cool; I never knew that before. That is the most useful information I have ever heard in this debate. So the claim that the words for "homosexuality" in the New Testament didn't exist before Paul used them is a complete lie. They were used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, in Leviticus, where it is perfectly clear that it is referring to any homosexual act. This translation existed before Paul, and it's a translation he and other Jews and Christians were familiar with, so of course they all knew what Paul's meaning in the New Testament was.

Thanks for posting that Monergism, I have this discussion with people all the time and your posting of this info is certainly going to be put to good use.  
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 5:34 pm
Crimson Raccoon Wrote:
That is so cool; I never knew that before. That is the most useful information I have ever heard in this debate. So the claim that the words for "homosexuality" in the New Testament didn't exist before Paul used them is a complete lie. They were used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, in Leviticus, where it is perfectly clear that it is referring to any homosexual act. This translation existed before Paul, and it's a translation he and other Jews and Christians were familiar with, so of course they all knew what Paul's meaning in the New Testament was.

Thanks for posting that Monergism, I have this discussion with people all the time and your posting of this info is certainly going to be put to good use.


Here is the complete article from Ph.D Thomas E. Schmidt on homosexuality. I hope this will help. smilies/icon_wink.gif

Subject Wrote:
It is significant that the word "homosexuality" did not enter the English vocabulary until the early twentieth century. The word, and with it the concept of lifelong primary sexual orientation toward members of one's own gender, was unacknowledged and probably unknown in the biblical world. Some today will therefore argue that what the Bible appears to condemn can be distinguished from homosexuality. They maintain that the homosexual orientation, to the extent that it develops in early childhood or even before birth, is not consciously chosen and is therefore not sinful. As long as this form of sexuality is expressed monogamously, it is argued, homosexual relations merely constitute an expansion of the biblical view of marriage. In order to assess the legitimacy of this approach, it is important to begin with an understanding of the view of same-gender sex in the ancient world.

The Ancient World. Because there is so little evidence of same-gender sex before the New Testament period, our view of "the ancient world" must focus more narrowly on the Greco-Roman period. Writings during this period demonstrate familiarity with sexual Acts between members of the same gender, but these were not understood to result from an "orientation." Sexuality was important in the ancient world only in terms of male progeniture. It appears that the rape of other males and the use of boys for sexual pleasure (pederasty) were performed as Acts of dominance, violence, or experimentation by otherwise heterosexual men. As a phase or as an occasional act, sex between males did not detract from male progeniture. In some circles, most notably those of the intellectual elite philosophers and poets, relationships between men and boys were lauded as the highest expression of romantic love. These relationships were not reciprocal, however. Males who were (willing or not) the receiving partners in these Acts, especially on a repeated basis, were socially outcast. Boys were bought as slaves and discarded when they reached puberty. Lesbians, who were by definition reducing the possibility of male progeniture, were scarcely mentioned but consistently condemned. Thus the modern supposition of a tolerant pagan society subsequently oppressed by Judeo-Christian taboos is a complete myth. It was, rather, a culture almost empty of regard for the sexual rights or desires of anyone but the small ruling class of men, who commonly exercised their almost limitless privilege at the expense of those young women and men in their power.

The Old Testament. Into this world of ruthless sexuality came the biblical message of restraint, justice, and sexual complementarity, which was revolutionary in its implications. From the beginning it is acknowledged that humankind is created in two genders that together bear God's image (Gen 1:27) and together constitute a unity of flesh (Gen 2:24). The reaffirmation of these two notions in key New Testament passages on sexuality (Matt 19:1-12; 1 Cor 7:12-20) demonstrates the continuity and importance of sexual differentiation in the construction of a normative biblical sexuality. More simply put, humankind is created to find human completion only in the (marital) union of two sexes. While there may be legitimate conditions under which this union will not occur (e.g., celibacy), there are no conceivable conditions in which the union can occur fully without sexual differentiation. More specifically in terms of homosexuality, then, same-gender partners can at best pretend to effect a differentiation that is physiologically (and perhaps psychologically) impossible.

Some theologians have suggested that to be created in the image of God according to Genesis means to be in social fellowship with other persons. Others deduce that homosexual relations are merely an expansion of the category of marriage under this rubric of fellowship; that is, intimacy and not biology is the appropriate measure of conformity to the Genesis marriage model. But apart from the debatability of this notion of the image of God in Genesis (dominion is the probable focus of the term), the definition of marriage cannot be limited to the meaning of the image of God. However important the social and spiritual aspects of marriage may be, the physical aspect is no less fundamental to its definition. Sexual differentiation (1:27) intends physical union, the becoming of one flesh (2:24). Because a homosexual relationship cannot produce a unity of sexually differentiated beings, there cannot be a marriage.

Condemnations of sexual sin in the Old Testament focus on heterosexual Acts, but it is important to note that all sexual sin, including homosexuality, is prohibited in relation to the positive model of marriage presented in Genesis. Thus, while the Old Testament describes homosexual activity as intrinsically unjust or impure, these condemnations do not differ qualitatively from condemnations of heterosexual deviations from the marriage model.

The first and most familiar Old Testament passage is the account of intended male rape at Sodom (Gen 19). References to the city later become common extrabiblical Jewish euphemisms for sexual perversion in general and homosexual practices in particular (in the New Testament, see 2 Peter 2:6-7; and Jude 7). Some modern revisionists point to the subsequent Jewish tradition condemning Sodom for inhospitality and argue that the passage does not have homosexual rape in view. In this view, when the Sodomites demand to "know" Lot's visitors, they want to interrogate them, and Lot considers this breach of hospitality as so objectionable that he offers to distract the men with sex, offering his own daughters. The major obstacle to this interpretation is the Hebrew verb "to know" (yada), which, while not often used in a sexual sense, is used in just that sense in verse 8—only two verses after its occurrence expressing the desire of the men of Sodom. Clearly the Sodomites desired sexual relations with Lot's guests. The later references to inhospitality in relation to Sodom are not due to a misunderstanding of the sin of Sodom on the part of the Jews, but to their habit of speaking indirectly of sexual matters out of modesty.

A parallel account of sexual violence occurs in Judges 19-20, where the men of Gibeah rape a man's concubine to the point of death in substitution for the man himself. There can be no doubt that this is fundamentally an act of violence, but the initial desire for the man coupled with the sacrifice of the concubine to avoid "such a disgraceful thing" (19:24) suggests that same-gender sex, and not only inhospitality, is seen in a very negative light.

More obscure reference to same-gender sex may be found in Genesis 9:20-27, where the statement that Ham "saw his father's nakedness" may be a euphemism for rape. There may be a connection here to two additional references to sexual sins involving one's father (Lev 18:7; Deut 23:1), since Ham is the father of Canaan, the nation traditionally associated with same-gender sex and whose impure practices are condemned in detail in the context of these references.

Explicit condemnation of same-gender sexual relations occurs in two Old Testament passages. Leviticus 18:22 reads, "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." Leviticus 20:13 reads, "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." The wording here is ambiguous with regard to rape or manipulation versus mutual consent; instead, the focus is on the act itself as a mutual defilement. Modern revisionists often dismiss these strong passages on the grounds that they are part of the Old Testament purity code and therefore irrelevant to a gospel that frees believers from the constraints of Jewish cultural taboos. But the surrounding verses, which involve such concerns as care for the poor and respect of property show that it is impossible to make a simplistic distinction between purity laws and permanent moral principles. The reaffirmation of sexually differentiated marriage in the New Testament, as noted above, suggests that this levitical condemnation of the violation of differentiation retains its force throughout the entire biblical period.

The New Testament Message of Liberation. Some revisionists maintain that the message of Jesus is fundamentally a message concerning the liberation of captives (Luke 4:18-19). These captives, it is argued, are to be understood not in individual terms as sinners, but in corporate terms as those who are forgotten or oppressed by the proud and powerful. In this view, the place to begin a truly Christian consideration of sexual ethics is not with Genesis and the legal code but with Exodus and freedom from law proclaimed by Jesus. The homosexual community, with its long history of persecution, naturally sees itself described in the Beatitudes and other offers of hope to the downtrodden. It sees analogies to modern "heterosexism" in the historic subjugation of women and of blacks. There are, however, many problems with an approach that so simply makes biblical material a vehicle for experience. One objection is that the choice of one kind of sexual proclivity as "oppressed" is arbitrary: there is no definitive reason to exclude pederasty or sadomasochism or adultery. Furthermore, the analogies to other modern liberation movements are dubious. In the case of slavery, for example, the biblical message is ambiguous; in the case of homosexual Acts, on the other hand, what little material we have is all decidedly negative. Finally, it is impossible to evaluate a behavior by means of its perception, as if disapproval by the majority automatically constitutes legitimacy on the part of a persecuted minority. At some point the behavior itself must be held up to a light other than the fire of its own passion. The light of revelation in the New Testament message offers liberation, but explicit in this offer is the provision of power to conform individuals to full humanity as God created it. In order to exercise responsibility in relation to such an offer it is essential for believers to take seriously both the construction of full humanity as the Scriptures describe it, and deviations from that full humanity as the Scriptures warn against them.

The Gospels. There is no explicit reference to same-gender sex in the Gospels, but there may be an echo of a reference in Mark 9:42-10:12 (cf. Matt 5:27-32). A passage in the Talmud (b. Niddah 13b) links masturbation and pederasty together as violations of marriage, and in so doing makes reference to harming children, offending with the hand or the foot, and cutting off offending limbs rather than going down to the pit of destruction. These similarities of wording to the Gospel passages may suggest a common understanding in the first century that "putting a stumbling block before one of these little ones" involved sexual sin against them.

Paul's Epistles. Two brief references in Paul's letters, where same-gender sex is mentioned in lists of prohibited activities, are important especially for their link to the Old Testament. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 arsenokoitai are condemned. The word, a compound of "male" and "coitus" or "intercourse, " does not occur prior to the New Testament. Some modern writers have attempted to narrow its meaning from homosexual Acts in general to male prostitution, solicitation of male prostitutes, or (coupled in 1 Cor 6:9; with malakoi, another obscure word possibly meaning "the effeminate" ) the active partners in homosexual relationships. These suggestions, however, ignore the Greek Old Testament (LXX) versions of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, which use both arsenos and koiten, the latter passage placing them side-by-side; literally, "whoever lies with a male, having intercourse (as with) a female." This is the obvious source of the compound word. Perhaps Paul himself, who knew and used the Septuagint extensively, or some other Hellenistic Jew not long before Paul's time, derived from the passages in Leviticus a compound word that described homosexual Acts in general. This drawing in of Leviticus to Paul's letters is also significant in that it provides further demonstration that he perceived a moral and not merely purity-based prohibition of homosexual Acts in the Old Testament.

Romans 1:26-27. The remaining passage appears to be an unequivocal condemnation of homosexuality. While many modern revisionists simply disagree with Paul or discount his proscription as applying only to prostitution or pederasty, some have attempted to reinterpret the passage as tacit approval of homosexuality. The argument is that Paul portrays homosexual Acts as impure but carefully avoids the language of sin; he intends merely to distinguish a Gentile practice considered by Jews to be "unclean" in order to draw Jews (or "weaker brethren") into his subsequent explanation of the gospel. Careful investigation of the passage, however, shows this explanation to be untenable.

Paul's general purpose in the context (Rom 1:18-32) is to show the need for the gospel in the Gentile world. As a result of idolatry, God "gave them over" to all kinds of sinful behavior. The trifold structure of the passage is a rhetorical device to drive home the point: a general complaint (vv. 24-25), consideration of a specific vice (vv. 26-27), and a culminating list of various vices (vv. 28-32). The distinction between the second and third sections may follow another Greek-styled distinction of sins of passion and sins of the unfit mind.

Paul is accused of everything from extreme prejudice to repressed homosexual urges for choosing same-gender sex as his focus in verses 26-27. But the scarcity of other references and the use of impersonal, rhetorical language here suggests, on the contrary, considerable detachment. The choice of homosexuality in particular is due to Paul's need to find a visible sign of humankind's fundamental rejection of God's creation at the very core of personhood. The numerous allusions to the creation account in the passage suggest that creation theology was foremost in Paul's mind in forming the passage.

Paul's terminology in the passage clearly denotes sin and not mere ritual impurity. The context is introduced by the threat of wrath against "godlessness and wickedness" (v. 18 ). Those in view in verses 26-27 have been given over to "passions, " a word group that elsewhere in Romans and consistently in Paul's writings connotes sin. Words like "impurity" (v. 24) and "indecent" (v. 27; cf. "degrading, " v. 24) had in Paul's time extended their meaning beyond ritual purity to moral and especially sexual wrongdoing. To do that which is "unnatural" (vv. 26-27) or "contrary to nature" was common parlance in contemporary literature for sexual perversion and especially homosexual Acts. Paul uses several expressions here that are more typical of Gentile moral writers not because he is attempting to soften his condemnation but because he wishes to find words peculiarly suited to expose the sinfulness of the Gentile world in its own terms.

The substance of Paul's proscription of homosexuality is significant in several respects. First, he mentions lesbian relations first and links lesbianism to male homosexuality. This is unusual if not unique in the ancient world, and it demonstrates that Paul's concern is less with progeniture than with rebellion against sexual differentiation or full created personhood. Second, Paul speaks in terms of mutual consent (e.g., "inflamed with lust for one another, " v. 27), effectively including Acts other than rape and pederasty in the prohibition. Third, the passage describes corporate as well as individual rebellion, a fact that may have implications for modern discussions of "orientation." In other words, although Paul does not address the question here directly, it is reasonable to suppose that he would consign the orientation toward homosexual Acts to the same category as heterosexual orientation toward adultery or fornication. The "natural" or "fleshly" proclivity is a specific byproduct of the corporate human rebellion and in no way justifies itself or the activity following from that proclivity. On the basis of any of these three implications, it is legitimate to use the word "homosexuality" as it is conceived in the modern world when speaking of Romans 1 and, by cautious extension, when speaking of the related biblical passages.

Responses to Paul's Proscription. The discussion does not end with the conclusion that Paul condemns homosexuality. Some argue that a modern understanding of "natural" differs from Paul's and requires that we absolve those who discover rather than choose a homosexual orientation. These, it is argued, should be seen as victims, or simply different, and our definition of allowable sexual activity expanded accordingly. The major problem with this response is that it shifts the meaning of "natural" from Paul's notion of "that which is in accord with creation" to the popular notion of "that which one has a desire to do." But deeply ingrained anger does not justify murder, nor does deeply ingrained greed justify theft or materialism, nor does the deeply ingrained desire of many heterosexuals for multiple partners justify promiscuity. Desire in all of these areas, chosen or not, must come under the reign of Christ. The action in question must be considered not in terms of its source in the person but in light of the relevant biblical principles. These principles often involve denial of deeply ingrained desires, for the heterosexual who desires multiple partners no less than for the homosexual who laments the option of celibacy.

There is considerable evidence that a homosexual orientation, and certainly the occasional homosexual experience, does not indicate a permanent state but an immature stage of sexuality that may be "fixed" at some point by physiological, psychological, or social factors, and by the individual will, all acting in combination. This has theological significance because it implies that movement toward completion or maturity will involve movement toward obedience to the biblical model. One need not conclude, then, that the homosexual orientation is an indication either of God's approval of the orientation or that the orientation is God's "curse" of the individual. It is, rather, a challenge to growth in discipleship, more or less difficult depending on individual circumstances, but accompanied by the promise of grace equal to those circumstances (Rom 5:19-21; 1 Cor 10:13; 2 Col 12:9).

Ph.D Thomas E. Schmidt
 

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ferret658

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:52 pm
Why does everyone hafta be so long winded?

From my experience with friends and other churches, yes there are gay christians.

Also, from what I have witnessed, these gay christians are the seeds sown in the rocks. They grow, but they have no root, so they wither quickly. They fall away from God when they encounter any adversity in their faith.  
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 8:20 pm
Well... I'm a Christian and I used to be all against the whole gay-rights movement. I mean that's the way I was raised.
But eventually I found myself attracted to men as well as women, which is kind of confusing. As of right now I'm with a guy who I love alot. But I think in the long-run I'll end up marrying a woman because then I don't have to worry about either God or my family not accepting me. Although I have read some of the arguements against homosexuality which makes me doubt the authenticity of some of the verses that are thrown around condemning it.
But there's always the chance it really is a sin, in all honesty I don't know. I do know that I'm interested in men and that I don't think God would allow love to be corrupted like that.  

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