Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is Being Gay A Sin? Part Six - Examples of Same Sex Couples in the Bible

Examples of Same-Sex Couples in The Bible
As Gay People, we are not given great role models, at least we haven’t been given consistently great role models as kids. Most generic people have tons of examples growing up, their parents, friends, other family, the Bible characters, sports celebrities, and the like. Well, the Bible describes three emotionally close relationships between two people of the same gender. They appear to have progressed well beyond a casual friendship. There is, however, no evidence that they were sexually active relationships. But there is no proof that they were NOT. The individuals are:

Ruth and Naomi
Ruth 1:16-17 and 2:10-11 describe their close friendship. Perhaps the best known passage from this book is Ruth 1:16-17 which is often read out during opposite-sex and same-sex marriage and union ceremonies:

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." (NIV)

Ruth 1:14, referring to the relationship between Ruth and Naomi, mentions that "Ruth clave onto her." (KJV) The Hebrew word translated here as "clave" is identical to that used in the description of a heterosexual marriage in Genesis 2:24:

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (KJV)  

This book was probably only included in the Hebrew Scriptures because King David was one of the descendents of Ruth. Although this same-sex friendship appears to have been very close, there is no proof that it was a sexually active relationship.

Daniel and Ashpenaz
Daniel 1:9 refers to Ashpenaz, the chief of the court officials of Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon.

Various English translations differ greatly:
  • "Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel" (NIV)
  • "Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs" (KJV)
  • "Now God made Daniel to find favor, compassion and loving-kindness with the chief of the eunuchs" (Amplified Bible)
  • "Now, as it happens, God had given the superintendent a special appreciation for Daniel and sympathy for his predicament" (Living Bible)
  • "Then God granted Daniel favor and sympathy from the chief of the eunuchs" (Modern Language)
  • "Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy of the chief chamberlain..." (New American Bible)
  • "God made Ashpenaz want to be kind and merciful to Daniel" (New Century Version)
  • "And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs" (Revised Standard Version)
  • "God caused the master to look on Daniel with kindness and goodwill" (Revised English Version)
Religious conservatives generally view the friendship of Daniel and Ashpenaz as totally non-sexual. It is inconceivable that God would allow a famous prophet of Israel to be a homosexual.

Some religious liberals detect the possibility of a homosexual relationship here. The Hebrew words which describe the relationship between Daniel and Ashpenaz are chesed v'rachamim The most common translation of chesed is "mercy". V'rachamim is in a plural form which is used to emphasize its relative importance. It has multiple meanings: "mercy" and "physical love". It is unreasonable that the original Hebrew would read that Ashpenaz "showed mercy and mercy." A more reasonable translation would thus be that Ashpenaz "showed mercy and engaged in physical love" with Daniel. Of course, this would be unacceptable to later translators, so they substitute more innocuous terms. The KJV reference to "tender love" would appear to be the closest to the truth. One might question whether Daniel and Ashpenaz could sexually consummate their relationship. They were both eunuchs. Apparently, when males are castrated after puberty, they still retain sexual drive. It is interesting to note that no other romantic interest or sexual partner of Daniel was mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.

And of course, there is David and Jonathan. Their story will get its very own blog.

Is Being Gay A Sin?
We are in Part Six of the blog series, "Is Being Gay A Sin?" Are there any examples of gays in the Bible? Did the gays just spring into creation in the past 50 years? No. That's not feasible. Gays have always been around. Gays have been around since the dawn of time. They have not always been in the forefront, they have not always been celebrated, but they haven't always been quite THIS persecuted either. Greeks and Romans certainly had their tolerances and acceptances, and there are other cultures in the world that are quite ancient that had their moments. So... did the ancient Jews? Did the Judean God love his creation when they were gay? This religion and its systems are the foundation for today's modern Christianity. Were there any real examples and couples that were promoted from the Bible? In History? 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.


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