Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is Being Gay A Sin? Part Four - Same Sex In The Bible Versus Homosexuality

Is Being Gay A Sin?
We are in Part Four of the blog series, "Is Being Gay A Sin?" It is about same sex issues in the Bible. Not to be confused with a later section on same-sex couples and examples. There are always reasons to promote procreation, unless you are alive today. America still has the notion that there is plenty for everyone, but China and other countries are actively promoting family planning and NOT being fruitful or multiplying. Why? Because we are over 7 BILLION now on the planet, and because we carried out or mission from God to be fruitful, and we also, in the process, became the Apex Predators on the planet. In the course of these blogs, if you are reading in order, you can see where we've talked about the cultures and translations, and that God changed what was "abominable" and "unclean" for his people as times changed and as the possibility of salvation was presented to Gentiles... As a Christian, it is our duty to prayerfully study and understand what God was trying to communicate to His people, not only in ancient Hebrew times, the more recent Greek and Roman times, but througout ALL time.


Please read:

They will help you in reading this work in context and in the flow it was intended.

Same-sex activity in biblical times:
In Biblical times, same-gender sexual interactions could take many forms. Some were loving and consensual. They were married or monogamous. But there were many forms of sexual activity that were not. And there are plenty of times where I can FULLY SUPPORT the scriptures, incorrectly translated or not for the intent of preventing some of activities that were propagated. Some were:
  • Kings of conquered tribes were sometimes anally raped by the invading army as the ultimate symbol of defeat and humiliation. Such rape was also a way of humiliating visitors and strangers. These were acts of power and domination. [They had nothing in common with consensual sex by gays and lesbians today.]
  • Some religious groups both in and around ancient Israel had male prostitutes in their temples who ritually engaged in same-sex activities. These practices were frequently condemned in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). [Temple prostitution is no longer found in most areas of the world.]
  • In biblical times, sex was regarded as an activity engaged in by a dominant person and a submissive person. For a man to play the role of a submissive partner would be a reversal of roles, and unacceptable. [Most adults engaged in sexual activity today consider each other as equals.]
  • It was common within the Roman Empire for male adults to keep boy prostitutes for the purpose of sexual activity. The boys were often slaves. [In modern times, this is considered extreme child abuse, a criminal offense.]
  • It is reasonable to assume that many loving gay and lesbian relationships existed in Biblical times. Rabbi Gershon Caudill wrote: "Like all indigenous peoples, the Jews were not overly concerned about male homosexuality, where two men lived together in a monogamous, sexual relationship. As a rule, it did not get any notice....The Talmud does not record a single instance of a person being brought before the Sanhedrin on the charge of homosexual activity."
It was only a millennium after the Torah was written that the Talmud makes its first reference to homosexuality as a perversion. This occurred during the time when the Hebrews were being influenced by Greek culture -- which accepted homosexual behavior. Only the last type would have any similarity to today's gay and lesbian consensual, committed, loving relationships. There were other differences between the culture of the ancient Hebrews and modern day society:
  • There was a general belief that life on earth was all that there was. It isn’t like it is today in Mississippi where almost everyone has been to church their whole lives and the Bible Belt prevails in our mental forefront. A person who led a good life would be rewarded by God with a long life and many children. A person could live on after death only through their children. This caused any male to want to procreate. I am not even a fan of kids, and I want to continue my bloodline. It’s almost an animalistic and genetic thrust to want to propagate.
  • Having no belief in an afterlife, men were put under tremendous pressure to marry and procreate. An example of this is seen in Genesis 38, where a widow was expected to have at least one child fathered by her former husband's brother in order to continue her husband's line. Thus both adult bachelorhood and being in a loving same-sex relationship would not have been a very acceptable situation.
  • Ancient Israel was under continual attack from other countries. A large and competent army was a high priority, and could only be maintained with a high birth rate. Since same-sex couples had a low birth rate, such families would be considered unacceptable.
“Same-Sex” In The Bible Versus Homosexuality
What Gays are Up Against, And What They’ve Got Going For Them
Quotations by theologians and others, showing diverse beliefs:

"I want God's gay and lesbian children to know of God's unconditional love and acceptance of them as well. We cannot find any condemnation in scripture for committed monogamous same-sex relationships." Rev. Charles Coppinger, Chaplain of the Arizona Legislature in a letter to legislators, sent 11-7-2000, announcing that he is gay.

"The Genesis passage is very clear, that the sin of Sodom that brought on the destruction of the city was indeed linked to homosexuality." A. Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Time.com called him the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S” in 2003.

"The half-dozen biblical references to homosexuality do not reflect what we understand today about loving relationships. This is an identity, not a sin." The Rev. Dan Johnson of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Edina, MN.

"The witness of the Bible is univocal about same sex sexual activity. It is always rejected as sinful. There is no distinction made between homosexual behavior that is part of the consensual acts of adults and other forms of such behavior." Ben Witherington III, evangelical biblical scholar.

"Homosexuality and sodomy are not ethical sins. No one is being hurt, no one is being cheated, nobody's rights are being infringed upon. Homosexuality is a religious sin, analogous to other Biblical prohibitions, like not eating the carcass of a dead animal, or not sleeping with a woman during her menstrual cycle." American Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

"I am always amazed at how the Bible, that portrays my Lord embracing the outcasts, touching the lepers, welcoming the Samaritans, not judging the woman taken in the act of adultery, and inviting 'all of ye,' not 'some of ye,' to 'come unto me,' can, in the hands of a few distorted people be turned into a book of hatred, violence and judgment." J.S. Spong, an author and retired bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA

"In reality, there are no biblical literalists, only selective literalists. By abolishing slavery and ordaining women, millions of Protestants have gone far beyond biblical literalism. It's time we did the same for homophobia." William Sloane Coffin, former chaplain of Yale University and, peace activist, and leading liberal clergyperson.

Exactly WHAT does the Bible say? Common mistranslations in English versions of the Bible:

In order to understand what the Bible has to say on heterosexual activity, we could consult the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, dividing all of the references to heterosexual sex into different categories:
  • Rape;
  • Sexual abuse of children;
  • Ritual sex in Pagan temples;
  • Prostitution;
  • Sexual orgies; 
  • Non-exploitive, consensual, monogamous sex in a loving relationship, etc.
The final category above is the only one that would help us understand what the Bible teaches about heterosexual activity in a loving committed relationship. After all, a verse which describes how an army kidnapped some female virgins for use as sex slaves does not tell us anything about the role of sex in marriage today. A verse that discusses temple prostitution during the worship of Pagan gods does not instruct us about feelings of romantic love between a man and a woman.

Similarly, in order to comprehend what the Bible says about gay and lesbian relationships, we must pass over the references to homosexual rape, male sexual abuse of boys, and homosexual prostitution, same-sex orgies by heterosexuals, Pagan sexual rituals in temples, etc. We would be left with only those references relating to consensual sexual activities within homosexual partnerships. There may not be any of these. The Bible may be as silent on loving, committed same-sex partnerships as it is about planes, trains and automobiles. But it’s not… Thank God.

There are biblical descriptions of three close and intimate relationships between members of the same gender. But there are no unambiguous passages that show that they were sexually active. Those relationships will be discussed in detail later in this writing about Ruth and Naomi, Daniel and Ashpanez and David and Jonathan.

The Bible often condemns heterosexual and homosexual exploitive, manipulative sex, and prostitution, but appears to be totally silent on consensual homosexual relationships. One is left with many Biblical passages which condemn fornication - sex outside of marriage. If one were to accept these passages as inspired by God, then one can conclude that the Bible considers homosexual sex within a committed relationship as equivalent to a man and woman living together common-law without having being married.

The word "homosexual" in English translations of the Bible:
Outside of the conservative wings of religions, the word "homosexual" or “gay” generally refers to sexual orientation. People have one of three orientations:
  • Most are heterosexual: they are sexually attracted only to members of the opposite sex.
  • A minority are homosexual: they are sexually attracted only to members of the same sex.
  • A smaller minority are bisexual: they are attracted to both men and women, but not necessarily to the same degree.
The term "homosexual" dates from the late 19th century, when human sexuality first began to be studied as a science. Interestingly enough, there is no term that means homosexual orientation in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts of the Bible.  The authors of the Bible did not understand sexual orientation and thus did not write about it. Thus, when you see one of these words in an English translation of the Bible, it is important to dig deeper and find what the original Hebrew or Greek text really means.

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