Newsgroups: alt.homosexual
From: (Richard Smith)
Subject: Re: Word of the Lord (or of man)
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1993 06:12:45 GMT

    The following is in response to a response to a message I posted here
several days ago.  I got the response in E-mail, but I feel there's enough
pertinent information in it to post my response here too.  Of course, I've
kept the name/sig of the responder anonymous, since he sent it E-mail.  It
was the least I could do...

Message follows...

    I read your message (indeed, captured it to disk), and have shown it to
my father (not Father, wrong denomination).  Being a minister, as I stated
in my previous message, I thought he'd be interested in addressing the
matter more thoroughly.  Alas, since contrary to some beliefs, a man of the
cloth doesn't only work an hour every Sunday, he wasn't up to it, but did
pull a few select books from his shelves for my personal reference.  The one
I'll be quoting from is _Homosexuality: In Search of a Christian
Understanding_.  The other two were much more voluminous, and will require
some heavy reading, but he assures me that they are all of an even keel (and
none of them sing the praises of the act of homosexuality, I might add).

    To begin with, the whole matter of homosexuality, the book says, is
never actually dwelt upon in any great depth in the Bible.  "The explicit
references tend to be very brief and to occur within contexts where the main
subject is something else" (pg. 7).  In fact, "the word _homosexual_ did not
come into use in any language until the second half of the nineteenth
century," and "there is no equivalent word in either Old Testament Hebrew
or New Testament Greek."  The terms "sodomy" and "sodomite" are used in
many translations of the Bible, but "the biblical writers themselves [n]ever
refer[red] to homosexual practices" as such (again, pg. 7).

    In your first quotation (Romans 1:18-27), "[i]nterpreters agree that
homosexual relationships ... are spoken of unfavorably here" (pg. 10).
Thing is, there's much debate about the passage's pertinence.  "Some ...
find here an absolute and unqualified condemnation of all homosexual
behavior", while "[o]thers, however, argue that Paul is thinking only of
persons who are naturally heterosexual, and who have abandoned those
relationships for homosexual ones ... [or] as but one example of behavior
that may ... reflect one's attempt to be independent of God ... [or]
reflects Paul's ascetic deprecation of all sexual relationships" (again
pg. 10).

    My own personal interpretation of the first quote is that God, angry at
those who choose to believe that they are above Him by thinking that they
know *everything* about Him, turned them homosexual as punishment.  In that
sense, they certainly didn't just *choose* to be gay, God actually made them
so.  In that sense, God actually punished their sins by loading yet another
sin onto them.  Doesn't make sense to me.

    About your second quote (1 Timothy 1:10), the version of the Bible I
have (Revised Standard Version, 1952) gives it as follows:

    "...immoral persons, *SODOMITES*, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and
whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine..."

    Already it's clear that there are subtle differences in the translation
from version to version.  Compound onto that the fact that, as stated
earlier, "sodomite" was not used as a term for homosexuals in the original
text, and the original language had no word for "homosexual", which is the
correct translation, if either?

>Sodom (the source of the word sodomize) and Gommorah were destroyed by
>fire that came from heaven because of fornication and disgusting acts of
>the flesh.

    Not necessarily.  To quote again:

    "The story of Sodom in Genesis 19 is also discussed in relation to the
question about homosexuality.  According to this story, Lot meets two men in
the need of lodging and offers them hospitality in his home.  Although they
are really angels in disguise, Lot does not know this.  Before they retire
for the night a crowd of men from the city comes to Lot's door demanding to
see these strangers, that they `may know them' (Gen. 19:5).  Lot, refusing
to do this, offers his daughters instead, but they are not accepted.
[It is interesting to note that in the history of interpretation of this
passage, commentators seem to have shown little concern for Lot's
willingness to yield his daughters to the men of Sodom.  [ibid, Gibeah in
Judges 19]]" (pg. 8).

    Clearly, you know what happened next.  Although most interpreters
believe that the Hebrew verb _to know_ in this case means "to have a sexual
relationship with."  Because of this widely accepted belief over the course
of the centuries, "sodomy" and "sodomite" have come to be used to describe
homosexual practice and practitioners, respectively.  However, some believe
that it was the more "innocent" translation that is correct, and that the
Sodomites were only annoyed because Lot, himself a relative stranger to
Sodom, would not let them become acquainted with the newcomers' credentials.
"To support this interpretation, it is pointed out that the story was not
interpreted in terms of the sexual intentions of the Sodomites until the
first century A.D." (pg. 8).  In this case, the true sins of the people of
Sodom would be "[their] smug complacency and social injustice characteristic
of [them], not ... their sexual practices" (again, pg. 8).  "[They were]
proud because they had plenty to eat and lived in peace and quiet, but they
did not take care of the poor and underprivileged" (Ezekiel 16:50, TEV).

    In this light, I disagree with your closing statment.  The bible does
not teach against homosexuality.  I do believe that it teaches against
unchecked lust, and certainly against rape.  You can look very closely at
the Bible, and read it just the right way, and it will say almost anything
you want to.  I don't think that the Bible was meant to be taken as law,
and certainly not in today's world.  Things change, certainly over a time
period as long as 2000 years.  Evolution is not only a factor in biological
change, but in social change as well.  Just how much of Leviticus do you
live by each day?  There are certainly many valid points in that book, but
not every rule is still valid today.  So who is to judge as to how much of
the rest of the Bible is still to be taken as "law" today?  It is a book of
guidelines, of pointers, words of help and assurance when you need them,
but to be obeyed to the letter?


Homosexuality: In Search of a Christian Understanding
Smith, Leon -- editor
Essays by James C. Logan, David K. Switzer, M. Kent Millard, and
          Victor Paul Furnish.
Copyright (c) 1981, Discipleship Resources
Return to Gay:Religion
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