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Homosexuality And The Progressive Christian


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I am fluent in Biblical Hebrew.

 

Our friend above is correct: the Old Testament pasukim (verses) in Leviticus are straightforward and refer to a man lying with another man.

 

NB that only male homosexuality was proscribed - lesbianism was not. Our Sages teach that a male wastes his seed when copulating with anyone other than a woman, and so male homosexuality was forbidden given that G-d clearly commanded his people to 'be fruitful and multiply'. Women do not 'waste their seed' when engaging in sexual acts with other women and that's why lesbianism was not forbidden.

 

Regarding the incident of Soddom and Gemorrah: the men who attacked Lot's home and demanded that the 'men' (angels, malachim) be given over to them for sex were not homosexuals, per se. Rape is not a crime of passion but rather born of a criminal desire to control, dominate, and injure another; the men of Soddom and Gemmorrah were attempting to control, dominate, and humiliate the strangers in their midst, just as heterosexual males will, at times, rape a man in order to humiliate him, to 'teach him a lesson'. This really had nothing to do with homosexuality, about sexual preferences. The sin of Soddom and Gemmorrah was a lack of hospitality, a lack of loving kindness - and this was the sin reflected in the story.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

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I recently served as pastor in a Ucc church and we hung on our outside wall a banner which stated, "We believe God loves all people. ( a rainbow flag was placed under the statement.) In the two years

Hello, my new friends.   Let's get started.   I'd very much like to know the thoughts of 'progressive' Christians on the subject of homosexuality.   respectfully,   Kath

Thanks for your reply Grampa~   I'm glad to hear of your church. I'm not gay but I am a supporter of gay rights. Being a Presbyterian church, I wonder how they preach the bible and avoid the whole "

Hello, my new friends.

 

I'd very much like to know the thoughts of 'progressive' Christians on the subject of homosexuality.

 

Hi Kath,

I find it curious you would use quotes for 'progressive' so I'd like to know how you would define the 'progressive' Christian? Maybe start a thread to talk on that topic?

 

To stay on this topic, I am a Christ Follower (I use that term because I think the term Christian has become so diluted and abused so as to have no significant spiritual connotation any more). I will not bore anyone with the details of what the Bible says about homosexuality. We all know the verses in Leviticus as well as Romans 1. I'll just say I believe what the Bible says. I'd like to add, though, that I believe God confirms what he calls as abomination by defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24) and he told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28), something homosexuals cannot do.

 

Would that not add to the evidence why God called it an abomination in Leviticus in the first place?

 

Your thoughts?

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mysaviorjc,

 

Generally speaking, appeals to what is and is not natural are on dangerous ground.

 

As such, I am extremely hesitant to make arguments regarding the worth/godliness of people based on their ability to reproduce. Such arguments put individuals who are sterile and people who do not wish children in a problematic situation.

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I'd like to add, though, that I believe God confirms what he calls as abomination by defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24) and he told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28), something homosexuals cannot do.

 

Would that not add to the evidence why God called it an abomination in Leviticus in the first place?

 

Your thoughts?

This is the old "It's Adam and Eve; not Adam and Steve" cliche fundamentalists love to quote but my experience has been if your argument could be fit into the size of a bumper sticker, you should be skeptical of its merit. If God intended the Adam and Eve story to be a condemnation of homosexuality, surely he would have mentioned it then. Yet nowhere in the Genesis account is homosexuality ever mentioned or condemned. In fact, God explicitly gave Adam and Eve permission to do whatever it was they pleased to in the garden expect to eat from the fruit. Presumably, if God created other people in the garden of Eden for Adam and Eve to have sex with, God would have allowed them to engage in same-sex relationships as the only commandment in the garden of Eden was to not eat the apple. The Garden of Eden story has been used by fundamentalist Christians to justify all sorts of horrific actions. Because God told Adam and Eve that they had dominion over the Earth, many anti-environmentalist Christians have used this as an excuse to destroy the planet and waste our natural resources. Because it was the woman who sinned and not Adam, Christians have used this as a justification for why women should be considered inferior to men and why women should be banned from voting or from ever having any leadership roles or from having a job. Other Christians used the passage where God says to be fruitful and multiply as a justification for overpopulating the planet and banning birth control and abortion. On the flip side, the Genesis creation account doesn't say anything at all about grandparents and single mothers, so grandparents and single mothers must be sinners then.
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. I will not bore anyone with the details of what the Bible says about homosexuality. We all know the verses in Leviticus as well as Romans 1. I'll just say I believe what the Bible says. I'd like to add, though, that I believe God confirms what he calls as abomination by defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24) and he told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28), something homosexuals cannot do.

 

Would that not add to the evidence why God called it an abomination in Leviticus in the first place?

 

If homosexuality is a terrible abomination, why isn't lesbianism prohibited in the OT? Again, the prohibition against male sexuality is all about 'spilling seed'.

 

Male homosexuality is listed in Leviticus right along with all the other 'abominations': eating shellfish, eating non-kosher meat, wearing garments mixed with flax and wool, sowing fields with mixed types of seed.... How is it that Christians believe that that homosexuality is so evil and must be stamped out while, at the same time, eating shellfish, eating non-kosher meat, wearing non-kosher garments...? I understand that Christians believe that Christ relieved them from having to uphold the Jewish covenant, but then why continue to pick and choose which laws are 'good' to observe and which ones 'bad'?

 

Doesn't make a wit of sense to me.

 

 

Rabbi Benjamin

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If homosexuality is a terrible abomination, why isn't lesbianism prohibited in the OT? Again, the prohibition against male sexuality is all about 'spilling seed'.

 

Male homosexuality is listed in Leviticus right along with all the other 'abominations': eating shellfish, eating non-kosher meat, wearing garments mixed with flax and wool, sowing fields with mixed types of seed.... How is it that Christians believe that that homosexuality is so evil and must be stamped out while, at the same time, eating shellfish, eating non-kosher meat, wearing non-kosher garments...? I understand that Christians believe that Christ relieved them from having to uphold the Jewish covenant, but then why continue to pick and choose which laws are 'good' to observe and which ones 'bad'?

 

Doesn't make a wit of sense to me.

 

 

Rabbi Benjamin

 

Good points. But, it does make a "wit of sense" if one is selectively using biblical texts to give authority to basic homophobia. I don't think that homophobia is motivated by religious texts, rather religious texts are used to justify it.

 

George

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Presumably, if God created other people in the garden of Eden for Adam and Eve to have sex with, God would have allowed them to engage in same-sex relationships as the only commandment in the garden of Eden was to not eat the apple. The Garden of Eden story has been used by fundamentalist Christians to justify all sorts of horrific actions.

 

Because God told Adam and Eve that they had dominion over the Earth, many anti-environmentalist Christians have used this as an excuse to destroy the planet and waste our natural resources.

 

Because it was the woman who sinned and not Adam, Christians have used this as a justification for why women should be considered inferior to men and why women should be banned from voting or from ever having any leadership roles or from having a job.

 

Well, it didn't happen that way, did it? The population of the earth began with Adam and Eve as God intended. To presume from events that never occurred put one on a slippery slope.

 

I can agree with what you say of God's words for them to have dominion over the earth. No, that is NOT license to destroy the earth.

 

I laugh when I hear things like this whole woman thing that she sinned first. While that's true, there's nothing to indicate that this act makes women inferior. Adam *did* sin but what was worse? He placed the blame on the woman instead of taking responsibility for his own actions!

 

Doug

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If homosexuality is a terrible abomination, why isn't lesbianism prohibited in the OT?

 

Male homosexuality is listed in Leviticus right along with all the other 'abominations': eating shellfish, eating non-kosher meat, wearing garments mixed with flax and wool, sowing fields with mixed types of seed.... How is it that Christians believe that that homosexuality is so evil and must be stamped out while, at the same time, eating shellfish, eating non-kosher meat, wearing non-kosher garments...? I understand that Christians believe that Christ relieved them from having to uphold the Jewish covenant, but then why continue to pick and choose which laws are 'good' to observe and which ones 'bad'?

 

Dearest Rabbi,

Thank you for your comments. You are right, lesbianism is not mention in the OT but you'll find it in the NT. See Romans 1:26-27 Which, BTW refers to both men AND women in these passages. If OT law is affirmed in NT teachings, that's not picking and choosing. The NT confirms the OT in this instance. The whole food issue you mentioned is rectified in the NT as well when Peter had a dream and God gave to him to eat all sorts of "unclean" animals and Peter told God he could not eat them. God told him not to call anything impure that God has made clean (Acts 10)

 

Doug

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There are also passages in the NT attributed to Paul where he says slaves should obey their masters and other passages attributed to Peter where he says women are the weaker vessel yet most Christians today do not believe in slavery and if you told a woman she was weaker than men, you would get a kick in the hard place. There's also some debate that Romans 1 doesn't condemn homosexuality but pagans who had sacred prostitution to worship Dionysus: http://www.gaychristian101.com/Romans-1.html

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As far as the original question goes,

I'd very much like to know the thoughts of 'progressive' Christians on the subject of homosexuality.

 

and the topic title "Homosexuality And The Progressive Christian" , it seems to me most obvious that ALL progressives here that subscribe to the 8 points are inclusive of those who practice homosexuality and THEY support gay rights to some degree. That is not to say that all of those progressives believe or think that a homosexual lifestyle is wise or considered honorable. It only means that those who identify themselves as homosexuals are welcome to participate in our community and worship life without those that are not homosexuals insisting that they become like us that are not in order to be acceptable.

 

It also seems to me that those who may not subscribe to all 8 points and still consider themselves progressive Christians may feel it is not acceptable and an abomination to God. Those are a minority here. However, in my view, if one does believe in the Bible being accurate and God's inerrant word, it seems to me a moot point to debate those writings, as the Bible seems pretty clear to me on the issue. Yet since, i do not subscribe to the Bible as God's word to us, and the few homosexuals i know personally are very kind, compassionate, and caring individuals, i am of the opinion that they are no less acceptable to God than i who am called straight. Having expressed that as my 2 cents, i retire from this long and often repeated thread topic that seems always to be filled with posts that to me always brings me to the same conclusion.

 

Joseph

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First, let me say that I am gay, the Pastor of my church is gay, and the denomination I am affiliated with (UCC) supports gay marriage. That said, I would then reverse the question as originally framed and ask "What do homosexuals think of Progressive Christianity?"

 

If, as Bishop Spong does, one places the humanity of the individual before sexual orientation, then I think Progressive Christianity in on the right track. Would I treat a "heterosexual" as an "object" seperate from all humanity? Generally, the thought seldom crosses my mind.

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Good points. But, it does make a "wit of sense" if one is selectively using biblical texts to give authority to basic homophobia. I don't think that homophobia is motivated by religious texts, rather religious texts are used to justify it.

 

George

 

George, I do think that's exactly what is happening: homophobics are searching for Biblical texts to support their bigotry, just as slave owners once searched the Bible for texts to support their 'ownership' of African Americans and their 'right' to beat them into submission.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

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The whole food issue you mentioned is rectified in the NT as well when Peter had a dream and God gave to him to eat all sorts of "unclean" animals and Peter told God he could not eat them. God told him not to call anything impure that God has made clean (Acts 10)

 

Doug

 

Hello Doug,

 

I'm familiar with Peter's dream. "G-d told him not to call anything impure that G-d has made clean." Very true. So, if G-d indirectly declared lesbiansim 'clean' in the OT, why are Christians calling lesbianism 'unclean'?

 

In this particular case, the NT obviously does not uphold the OT teachings.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

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Hello Doug,

 

So, if G-d indirectly declared lesbiansim 'clean' in the OT, why are Christians calling lesbianism 'unclean'?

 

In this particular case, the NT obviously does not uphold the OT teachings.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

Dearest Rabbi,

God did not indirectly declare or infer lesbianism 'clean'. First, the Bible indicates a man to lie with a man (Lev 18:20, 20:13)

and a woman to lie with a woman (Romans 1:26-27) is unnatural. So, if you wish to use conjecture, it follows that Lev 18:23 and Lev 20:16

say that a woman is not to lie with a beast (unnatural) so God indirectly declares that if a woman lies with a woman unnatural based on

the unnatural relation of woman and beast. Romans 1:26-27 just says it directly so NT *does* uphold OT teaching.

 

If you think this preposterous, it's no less preposterous than your argument. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

 

Doug

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Dearest Rabbi,

God did not indirectly declare or infer lesbianism 'clean'. First, the Bible indicates a man to lie with a man (Lev 18:20, 20:13)

and a woman to lie with a woman (Romans 1:26-27) is unnatural. So, if you wish to use conjecture, it follows that Lev 18:23 and Lev 20:16

say that a woman is not to lie with a beast (unnatural) so God indirectly declares that if a woman lies with a woman unnatural based on

the unnatural relation of woman and beast. Romans 1:26-27 just says it directly so NT *does* uphold OT teaching.

 

If you think this preposterous, it's no less preposterous than your argument. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

 

Doug

 

Doug, the explanation I provided here is the very one passed down from generation to generation, the very argument in effect even at the time of Jesus - and the only one Jesus would have been familiar with. I did not make this up, Doug. Also, please note that I am a Litvish rabbi - an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, not a liberal one: the explanation I provided is the most right-wing Jewish explanation on the books.

 

Remember, first of all: the OT is a Jewish work; Jewish culture and thinking are at work here. If we want to understand the original OT laws, we have to think like Jews, not as Christians.

 

Logically, given that the NT was not written at the time, we have to take the OT words alone as our basis for our initial argument as to what the 'original' laws were all about. Given that, we only know that men were forbidden to have sex with other men while women were not forbidden to have sex with other women.

 

If homosexuality were to be forbidden outright, we would have expected statements to be made regarding male and female homosexuality side by side, as the Bible states other laws, such as, "A man may not wear a woman's garments and a woman may not wear a man's garments."

 

Given no prohibition against female homosexuality, we must ask why the prohibition against male homosexuality? The prohibition must not have anything to do with homosexuality itself but rather something else. The obvious 'something else' is the spilling of seed: men spill (waste) their reproductive seed while engaging in homosexual relationships but women do not spill (waste) their seed during homosexual relationships.

 

At the time, it was believed that men had limited reproductive capacities, and that wasting semen was therefore quite wrong; a man who purposefully engaged in sexual behavior that could not possibly impregnate a woman was seen as purposefully ignoring G-d's commandment to "be fruitful and multiply'". On the other hand, women were believed to have unlimited reproductive powers, up until a certain age, and so it was thought that women could engage in sexual behaviors that did not lead to impregnation without defying the commandments.

 

Judaism is very concerned, even today, about keeping G-d's commandment to be fruitful and multiply. The Torah is quite explicit about the importance of not spilling seed: it is recorded that G-d took the lives of men who spilled their seed. It is quite logical that the law prohibiting male homosexual acts is all about just that - the prohibition against the spilling of seed - and, in deed, that is exactly the explanation of our Jewish Sages going back literally thousands of years.

 

I have explained the prohibition to you as Jesus and his followers would have understood it.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

Edited by Rabbi Benjamin
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Given no prohibition against female homosexuality, we must ask why the prohibition against male homosexuality? The prohibition must not have anything to do with homosexuality itself but rather something else. The obvious 'something else' is the spilling of seed: men spill (waste) their reproductive seed while engaging in homosexual relationships but women do not spill (waste) their seed during homosexual relationships.

 

At the time, it was believed that men had limited reproductive capacities, and that wasting semen was therefore quite wrong; a man who purposefully engaged in sexual behavior that could not possibly impregnate a woman was seen as purposefully ignoring G-d's commandment to "be fruitful and multiply'". On the other hand, women were believed to have unlimited reproductive powers, up until a certain age, and so it was thought that women could engage in sexual behaviors that did not lead to impregnation without defying the commandments.

Rabbi Benjamin

 

My pastor (PCUSA who I don't think is Litvish) has proposed the same thing. He thinks that the prohibition was related to wasted seed. This is why masturbation was also forbidden, i.e. wasting valuable seed.

 

It is not coincidence that the Hebrew word for seed and semen are the same.

 

George

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Bishop Spong argued in his book Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalism that in ancient times, it was considerable acceptable for men to engage in sexual relationships with younger boys as long as the older man was the top when having anal sex and this was especially common among Roman soldiers and their servant boys. So it was ok for a young boy to be the bottom when having anal sex with another man, but once he became an adult, the younger boy was expected to give that up and engage in sexual relations with women. A man who continued to be the bottom in anal sex as an adult was considered an abomination because he was degrading himself by allowing himself to be used as a woman and this is what it means when Leviticus condemns men who have sex with other men as if a woman and why lesbianism wasn't condemned. The sin was not gay sex itself but a man degrading themselves by taking a "woman's role" in sex.

 

P.S. Please forgive me if this is TMI. I wasn't sure how else to explain it with euphemisms.

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My pastor (PCUSA who I don't think is Litvish) has proposed the same thing. He thinks that the prohibition was related to wasted seed. This is why masturbation was also forbidden, i.e. wasting valuable seed.

 

It is not coincidence that the Hebrew word for seed and semen are the same.

 

George

 

George, what does PCUSA stand for?

 

Thanks.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

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A man who continued to be the bottom in anal sex as an adult was considered an abomination because he was degrading himself by allowing himself to be used as a woman and this is what it means when Leviticus condemns men who have sex with other men as if a woman and why lesbianism wasn't condemned. The sin was not gay sex itself but a man degrading themselves by taking a "woman's role" in sex.

 

Neon, this is fascinating. I hadn't heard this explanation but it does sound quite plausible and logical. I am especially drawn to it, given that it explains the inclusion of the words 'as a woman' in the prohibition.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

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Neon, this is fascinating. I hadn't heard this explanation but it does sound quite plausible and logical. I am especially drawn to it, given that it explains the inclusion of the words 'as a woman' in the prohibition.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

It also makes one wonder what the relationship was between the Roman centurion and his servant that Jesus healed.
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Doug,

 

I tend to agree with you about God being eternal & unchanging, though that is not a universally agreed upon point. Open theism & process theology both have robust arguments for how God changes. (as an unrelated side note, I always love when I find theological debates that don't map onto poitics, and the eternity of God qualifies). However, I'm unsure how relevant that is to this thread.

 

Your second point, about people changing, is something I also agree with and think is relevant, however. This entire thread is about how people change, including their attitudes toward sexuality and their understanding of the Word of God. Ironically, one of the biggest ways people change is in the pursuit of certainty & stability, which is basically what George meant when he talked about fundamentalism. For example, the PC(USA) denomination only felt the need to put anti-gay language in the rules of ordination after gay rights became an issue. "Fear of change" made the organization more visibly homophobic.

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Doug,

 

I tend to agree with you about God being eternal & unchanging, though that is not a universally agreed upon point.homophobic.

 

You guys are suggesting that there is an objective reality about the existence and character of God. But, we have no way of accessing this reality, except as mediated through social, intellectual and psychological means all of which differ from one society and time to another and from person to person. Therefore, our understanding is necessarily relative to our particular social context and personal limitations and experience. And, any claims made about this objective reality are necessarily subjective.

 

George

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I completely agree the idea that there is a nigh-unbridgeable gap between our subjective experiences and "true, objective" reality or God or whatever. Because of what I've been reading lately, I'm rather taken with some ideas about eternity, but I realize I also don't know what I'm talking about :rolleyes:

 

But yes, my big point was exactly what you just said: even if I accept God is eternal, our understandings of the divine should nevertheless continue to change and develop. Knowing anything is a problematic issue; and that does not get any less complicated when dealing with God, the divine, or spiritual matters.

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