From: ak194@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Richard Smith)
Subject: Homosexuality and the Bible
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 1994 07:14:16 GMT
The following is my final major posting regarding Christianity and
homosexuality. This is not intended to provoke further debate. Any
debate on points given should be addressed to me directly at my Usenet
address: email@example.com. I will continue to browse the
subject, but I don't know how often I'll post comments on other messages.
On Saturday, December 11, 1993, Michael W. Whatling posted a message
in the newsgroup "alt.homosexual" expressing his concerns regarding the
use of the Old Testament by "Christian" anti-homosexual groups as "proof
of God's `hate for fags'."
That evening, Daniel J Karnes (DJK) replied with the first of his many
assumption-laden messages. In it, he made such claims as "most
[theologians] spouting the nonsensical garbage that attacks the OT are
queers themselves", that "[t]he Jews were killing [gays] off as fast as
they could get sick and become `gay'", then Jesus "said to keep away from
sin and sinners", and that homosexuals are anti-Christian. Throughout his
later posts, evidence for these points is either never given, or is so
flimsy and sparse as to be likewise absent.
Usually only browsing through the newsgroup, I spotted Mr. Whatling's
original message and DJK's response. Having responded several months
earlier to a similar Christianity-against-homosexuals message, I felt some
obligation to obtain some clear evidence from DJK that supported his
position. In the messages that followed, many of my points were ignored,
and even more assumptions were made. For examples, he would continually
address me as a "queer", even though I have never mentioned my own sexual
orientation; that my father supports the ordination of gay ministers, and
homosexuality in Christianity in general, because he has "thrown in the
towell (sic) out of desperation (on finding out that [I am] infected with
the queerbug)" -- an assumption based on another assumption. By further
claiming that my father, an ordained minister of the United Church of
Canada, BA, MDiv, was "unlearned and very ill informed", he ensured that
I would write and post this "report."
This post is my declaration of a stalemate -- DJK can continue to post
his anti-homosexual views, but by giving this "report" to those he attacks
verbally, I might provide some additional strength against his onslaughts.
Homosexuality in the Bible
After many requests by the others in the alt.homosexual newsgroup, Mr.
Karnes produced several extensive quotes from the Bible. Specifically, he
quotes Romans 1:17-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-13, and 1 Timothy 1:9-14. He has
also made references to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis (19),
as well as Leviticus, in particular 18:22. Below, I examine each quote in
the order they appear in the Bible.
Genesis 19 (Sodom and Gomorrah)
The generalities of this story are so well-known that I feel I can
save some space and time by not repeating it here. When the men of Sodom
came to Lot's house demanding to see the strangers, that they "may know
them" (Gen. 19:5), it has been argued that the non-sexual use of the
Hebrew verb "to know" was intended. In fact, the story of Sodom and
Gomorrah was not interpreted with the sexual intentions of the Sodomites
until the first century A.D. In this way, Ezekiel attributes the
destruction of Sodom to the smug complacency and social injustice
characteristic of its people, not to their sexual practices. "[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,
An article by Jacob Milgrom in the December 1993 issue of "Bible
Review" ("Does the Bible Prohibit Homosexuality?", pg. 11) gives one of
the clearest explanations of the book of Leviticus. Leviticus 18:22
states, "[d]o not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an
abomination." "This biblical prohibition is addressed only to Jews",
Milgrom says in his article. "Non-Jews are affected only if they reside
in the Holy Land, but not elsewhere [(Lev. 18:24-30)].... Thus, it is
incorrect to apply this prohibition on a universal scale."
Furthermore, if one were to insist upon living by this prohibition, it
follows that all the rules and regulations in the book of Leviticus must
also be observed, something I doubt many non-Jews can claim to have done.
Buddy Beaudoin posted a message dated January 3, 1994, in which he
states that "the New Covenant community of believers among the gentiles...
[were commanded to abstain] from any form of sexual immorality (which was
defined in the Law of Moses)." But, upon closer examination of the given
Bible reference (Acts 15:10,22-29), the four "obligations" are all aimed
at preventing the new Christians from reverting to their former patterns of
pagan worship. They were, therefore, advised to:
-abstain from things offered to idols (to avoid the temptation to
revert to their old ways which proximity to such offerings could pose)
-[abstain] from blood, from things strangled (as above)
-[abstain] from sexual immorality (to avoid the sensual temptations
posed by the temple prostitutes, male and female, who were part of
their former patterns of worship)
These are not about the maintaining of morality, but rather maintaining
the true Christian faith and not lapsing into their former habits of
worshipping idols or false gods.
This quote is best dealt with in _Homosexuality:_In_Search_of_a_
_Christian_Understanding_, edited by Leon Smith.
This quote is where Paul "mentions women who `exchanged natural
relations for unnatural' (the only reference to lesbianism in scripture)
and men who `gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with
passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men....'" It
is widely agreed that homosexual relationships are spoken of unfavorably
here. The pertinence of this passage, however, is much-debated. "Some...
find here an absolute and unqualified condemnation of all homosexual
behavior.... Others, however, argue that Paul is thinking only of persons
who are naturally heterosexual, and who have abandoned those relationships
for homosexual ones...or that Paul regarded homosexual practice as but one
example of behavior that may, but does not necessarily, reflect one's
attempt to be independent of God...or that the passage reflects Paul's
ascetic depreciation of all sexual relationships."
My own interpretation is that, because these people believed
themselves to be God's equals in knowledge, and thus became vain and
foolish, God gave them their "uncleanness through the lusts of their
hearts" and "gave them up unto vile affections". The way it is written,
it states that God made them homosexual. But if homosexuality is itself a
sin, why would he punish one sin with another? God's punishments of sin
among the living are meant to persuade the sinner to repent and sin no
more. Now, if these people already found the thought of homosexuality
distasteful, suddenly finding these urges and desires in themselves could
well be a punishment to make them repent.
1 Corinthians 6:9-13 (and 1 Timothy 1:9-14)
This quote provides a list of "unrighteous" people who "will not
inherit the kingdom of God". Depending on the version of the Bible, such
terms as "catamites," "sodomites," "homosexuals," and even "sexual
perverts" are used as the translations for two Greek words that Paul uses
here. Again, I quote from Smith's _Homosexuality:_.
"The first Greek word means, literally, `soft,' thus the KJV
translation of it as `effeminate.' The second Greek word means,
literally, `men who go to bed with men' (the KJV translation is `abusers
of themselves with mankind').... [O]ne interpreter would translate the
words simply as `the dissolute' and `male concubines'; another would
translate them, respectively, as `male prostitutes' and `male clients.'
The second of these terms also appears in a list of vices given in 1 Tim.
1:10, where the RSV (first and second editions) translates it as
Therefore, homosexuality is only one possible meaning, depending on
how the translator interprets the original Greek.
Batchelor, Jr., Edward (ed.). _Homosexuality_and_Ethics_. New York: The
Pilgrim Press, 1980.
Milgrom, Jacob. "Does the Bible Prohibit Homosexuality?", Bible Review,
December 1993, pg. 11.
Smith, Leon (ed.). _Homosexuality:_In_Search_of_a_Christian_
_Understanding_. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1981.
Payne, Leanne. _The_Broken_Image_. Westchester: Crossway Books, 1981.
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