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The Bible and Homosexuality


JenellYB
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One thing I'd like to direct your attention to in looking at the scriptural (particularly OT) passages that MAY refer to homosexuality.

 

I say MAY, because of the question I raise here....OT references condemn a man laying with another man as with a woman.

 

For this, consider that homosexuality is a gender issue, a sexual orientation. It is not the "act" of same sex relations itself.

 

First, male/sex sex occurs in contexts outside those of homosexuality. Even today it is used by some in confined populations suchas prisons as a substitute for male/female relationship to meet physical urges, but those engaging are not neccessarily homosexualsm and will resume heterosexual relationships upon return to the commuunity.

 

At times in history,and perhaps still today, there were other culturally common male/male sexual encounters between normally heterosexual males that did/do not involve ANY personal "relationship", with no affectionate emotional attachments involved.

One has been domination and subjigation.. Conquered, defeated male opponents have been subjected to male/male rape as a means to demean, degrade, humiliate, demoralize, just as male/female rape upon a conquered people helped serve the same purpose in subduing the conquered population.

 

Also common throughout history though not often much mentioned, was the "use" of inferior status males, usually young slave boys or young men, to "relieve needs" of males not in situations with convenient access to women. Remember that until very recently, the belief that males NEED regular sexual release to be healthy. High ranking military officers have often made use of boys as personal servants while in the field of war and conquest, often far from home, and it has been common for those personal servants to meet that "need".

 

Another context in which male/male sex has occupied a niche in cultural/social systems has been simply "birth control". Rome is an example of that as a common practice. Even married men, whose relationship with a wife might range from truly affectionate to an arrangement of convenience for financial,social or other practical purposes, or, for the purpose of bearing him an heir, and perhaps more than one child. However, lacking safe, effective birth control, every act of intercourse with thewife risked preganancy, whether or not circumstances were conveneint for a child. A man that genuinely loved his wife might just not want to see her have to suffer repeated, frequent, often difficult pregnancies and dangerous child birth. Same sex friendship (both male/male and female/female) were common and the norm in Roman society, extending those relationships sexually when bothmen involved were married and facing the same issues with their wives, was thought natural and quite acceptable.

 

Now that I think it is reasonable established that the act of male/male intercourse can, does, and always has occurred entirely outside any homosexual or even other personal emotional relationship, and does not in itself define or designate homosexuality, lets look at it from the other direction.

 

Homosexuality is an oritentation, not defined by any sexual act, or same sex relationship, ever having occured. Since the bible condemns the ACT, a man laying with another man as a woman, how is the virginal homosexual condemned by those scriptural passages? It is not the ACT that makes him a homosexual, yet he is a homosexual BEFORE the ACT,and even ifthe ACT never occurs at all!

 

Back in the early days of the emergence of AIDS in our society, one population absolutely devastated by it were hemopheliacs...their need for regular transfusions of blood products, coming out of an as yet untested blood supply, created a hgher incident of AID, percentage wise, than even among homosexuals or drug abusers.

I watched a very sweet little boy in a family I knew grow into a wonderfully kind, intellegent, well-mannered young man, although he suffered hemophilia. This young man had begun to have strange illnesses by age 10,and by age 13, had been diagnosed with AIDS. He also began to clearly emerge as being homosexual. Thankfully, he was raised in a family and community inwhich this was accepted as any other thing about him would be, so he didn't suffer condemnation by loved ones many do. This young man passed away of AIDS complications at age 17. Yes, he was a homosexual. But he had never been in a sexual relationship, He died a sexual virgin.

Now, how do any of those scriptural passages condemn this homosexual, but virginal young man, that had never engaged in the condemned ACT?

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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Joseph, I'm sorry, in reading back over this thread, I saw your post above and realized I've done what you asked not....I am so sorry, it's already done, you know by now how I get carried away with a thought, perhaps you can help me undo my booboo by moving my post above to another place more appropriate?

 

Sorry to you, too, Russell.

 

Jenell :unsure:

Edited by JenellYB
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Guest billmc

Hi, Jenell. I've moved your post to the top of a new topic per your request. Joseph can delete your subsequent post later should either you or he wish.

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One of the problems with going to scripture is forgetting that they represent evolving thought, progressive revelation, God is always present tense, still speaking.. Keeping the Sabbath became punishable by death and Jesus later overturned strict observance. There were similar developments with eunochs and women. To say that the Bible has one view of homosexuality is not correct.

 

Dutch

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The issue is the recognition of homosexuality as an orientation. The English word 'homosexual' was first attested in 1892. There is no word for this in Biblical Hebrew.The Modern Hebrew word is homosaksu'ali, obviously a loan word from English.

 

So, it is clear that the Hebrew writers of the Bible had no such concept. They were, however, clearly banning a same-sex sexual act, at least between men as women were not included. A literal reading would allow lesbianism.

 

In any event, if one were to apply every prohibition in the OT to modern-day life it would really cut into our lifestyle, including those who cite Leviticus to condemn homosexuality: No barbecue ribs, no shrimp cocktail, no garments with mixed materials, no sassy children (hmm, maybe that would be okay) etc., etc., etc.

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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I no longer look to the Bible for illumination on human nature, or lessons in proper societal behavior. As George pointed out, were we to use the Bible as a moral compass, we would be dragging our disobedient children to the gates of the city for a proper stoning.

 

I once sat across the table for nearly an hour as an acquaintance railed on and on about the evils of homosexuality, basing his entire argument on Biblical commandments and prohibitions - the whole while gnawing on a pulled-pork sandwich. It was all I could do to bite my tongue. He was, after all, paying for dinner.

 

NORM

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Mryon, good thought. Even as I read that, I was wondering the same thing...relationships, at least between men and women, seemed more as practical contractual arrangement, which duties each were responsible for, which needs of the spouse, the family, even the community each would help meet. Women are mentioned as early as Genesis as being passed between tribes to seal alliances and mututal cooperation or bonds of loyalties between men. Aside from those things, the only 'personal' factors of consideration seemed to be such things as pride of posession, as in having the most beautiful or dutiful wife to show off to peers, or simple sexual lust, as motivated David toward having Bathsheba for his own.

Jenell

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From my own bible reading and from several PC authors, it seems there are relatively very few references to homosexuality in scripture, and it does not provide a basis for condemning monogamous relationships between same sex partners.

It’s not in the Ten Commandments.

The Sodom & Gomorrhah story is about homosexual rape, not consensual sex between adults.

The Leviticus rules are in the context of setting Jews apart from Gentiles by avoiding so-called ritual impurities.

All the OT prophets are silent on same-sex behavior.

It’s likely that David and Jonathan, Daniel and Ashpenaz, and Ruth and Naomi were intimate couples.

In the gospels, Jesus doesn’t refer to homosexuality, and many scholars think at least one of his disciples may have been gay.

When homosexuality is mentioned in three letters of Paul, they all probably meant pagan practices of prostitution and molesting children. Paul may well have been gay or bisexual.

Jesus went out of his way to include and bless those who were marginalized –he taught us not to be judgmental.

Edited by rivanna
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Good points Karen,

I might add...

 

And even if we value Paul's writing in a different context, what Paul really said 2000 years ago and what we read he said after a period of church control of those documents may be two different things. Perhaps it is something best left up to personal revelation?

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I was wondering the same thing...relationships, at least between men and women, seemed more as practical contractual arrangement, which duties each were responsible for, which needs of the spouse, the family, even the community each would help meet.

Jenell,

 

Yes, we should be cautious about generalizing our attitudes toward marriage today with that in the Bible or thinking of it as a stable, consistent institution. In fact, since the biblical period covers a couple of thousand years, it was not even consistent throughout the Bible. I read a book about biblical anthropology several years ago whose title and author I have forgotten as it was so dense as to be almost incomprehensible. What I do recall is that there are three distinct periods depicted: the nomadic period, the settled agricultural period and the urban monarchical period. In each of these, there were quite different social structures, including the role of the family.

 

Last night on the PBS News Hour there was a discussion about the changing role of the family in American life, I think, triggered by some new census data. One family expert pointed out how much in the last 50 years our attitude about marriage has changed. It used to be based on more practical considerations, now it based more on love. In addition, the geographical distribution of gay households has changed as social attitudes have changed. There are now more gay households in non-urban areas reflecting a widening acceptance of gay marriage.

 

George

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In the gospels, Jesus doesn’t refer to homosexuality, and many scholars think at least one of his disciples may have been gay.

I've also heard arguments that the Roman centurion that Jesus healed in Matthew was in a gay relationship and that the Ethiopian eunuch was a transsexual.
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"Eunuch" itself has has an interesting history....the popular and commonly accepted understanding of this being in reference to, or solely in reference to, human males that had been subjected to physical castration, as done in gelding stallions or bull calves, is highly questionable.

We now know that simply castrating as adult male human does not always have the same effect of eliminating sexual desire/impulse, or even capacity to perform intercouse, as it does in most animals. This because in humans, unlike animals, a great deal of sexual function involved psychological and emotional factors. Attempts at "treating" repeat sex offenders through castration failed for this reason.

"Eunuchs" are also mentioned in contexts, and other ancient writings and stories, that do not clearly suggest physical castration. Eunuchs were commonly employed as servants, protectors and guardians, as well as personal companions to women within their personal chambers.

As a woman that has had a number of friendships with gay men, as well as co-worker relationships, I can say,as will many other women with similar experiences, a woman can experience a special kind of mutual, friendship, even a special kind of deep friendship love, with many gay men, that simply isn't possible, or at least rarely possible, with either another woman or a heterosexual man,

 

Could eunuchs in at least some references have been homosexual men? Interesting possibility, I think.

 

Jenell

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"Eunuch" itself has has an interesting history....the popular and commonly accepted understanding of this being in reference to, or solely in reference to, human males that had been subjected to physical castration, as done in gelding stallions or bull calves, is highly questionable.

We now know that simply castrating as adult male human does not always have the same effect of eliminating sexual desire/impulse, or even capacity to perform intercouse, as it does in most animals. This because in humans, unlike animals, a great deal of sexual function involved psychological and emotional factors. Attempts at "treating" repeat sex offenders through castration failed for this reason.

"Eunuchs" are also mentioned in contexts, and other ancient writings and stories, that do not clearly suggest physical castration. Eunuchs were commonly employed as servants, protectors and guardians, as well as personal companions to women within their personal chambers.

As a woman that has had a number of friendships with gay men, as well as co-worker relationships, I can say,as will many other women with similar experiences, a woman can experience a special kind of mutual, friendship, even a special kind of deep friendship love, with many gay men, that simply isn't possible, or at least rarely possible, with either another woman or a heterosexual man,

 

Could eunuchs in at least some references have been homosexual men? Interesting possibility, I think.

 

Jenell

 

Speaking here as a gay male, the answer would be "no". I simply feel love and affection like any human would. And I don't like being the object of heterosexual scrutinty.

 

Myron

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Myron, I am so sorry, I didn't mean it like that, and certainly not to offend, hurt, or stereotype. in any way I did that, it was inadvertant and I'm sincerely sorry.

 

What i might have presented better in my above thoughts about eunichs as homosexual men, and practices of their attendance to and put into charge as guardians of women, was that gay men might have been seen as 'safe' with the women by the patriachal societies, in which heterosexual males were very possessive and jealous of their women's chastity.

 

What in my experiences has seemed to be such an important element is that sources of tension that very often exist, at least between people of similar age groups. whether naturally or due to cultural/social conditioning, within woman/woman friendships, and woman/heterosexual man friendships, that tend to complicate those relationships, are not in the mix, or at least, not as much in evidence, in many woman/gay man friendships.

 

Women tend to be very competive with other women, even if they care for the other, and the frequency of betrayals by trusted women friends that become involved with their friend's significant others in our society is shockingly high.

Within woman/heterosexual man friendships, it very difficult and often just not possible, it seems, to avoid tensions arising out of either/both cultural gender role condtioning or biological attraction.

 

This difference I'm talking about, as I've experienced it, seems to have placed my friendships with gay men on a similar ground as those with men and women much older than myself most of my adult life, and now as I am aging, have begun to be able to experience with men much younger than myself. It is differences in potential tensions associated with gender roles and conditioning, that can involve elements of competition and/or physical/emotional responses.

 

However, now that you draw my attention to it, you are right, this matter I speak of in most respectful regard, HAS and is often parodied in our culture, the entertaiment media,etc. And I did not mean that take on it at all. Please forgive me any hurt my comments caused you.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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Jenell,

 

Thank you. I respect you as a person, and we have much in common. The rest of this is not directed at you in any way.

 

Speaking, again, as a gay male there are issues that seem to crop up whenever this subject comes up. First, there is a question about the question. When I speak with 'heterosexuals; I am often asked "what is it like to be a homosexual?" More often than not, my answer is "I have no idea." I say this because experience has taught me that I am about to hear the question aswered for me, and it will not make much difference what I say. While it is true that straight people hold a variety of 'theories' about gays, it is rare for gays to speculate on what it must be like to be straight. In a very important sense, we already know.

 

Considering the point made that the word 'homosexual' first appeared in English in 1892, it is equally true that the word 'heterosexual' appeared at the same time and from the same source. If I accept the premise that cultures in the distant past had no concept of 'homosexualty' I must also ask whether they had any concept of 'heterosexualty'.

 

At the time the words 'heterosexual' and 'homosexual' were being coined, these words were linked to 'normal' and 'abnormal' respectively. That link persists to day due in large part to Freud and the passing of his theories (right or wrong) into popular culture. To its credit, psychology has shaken off this influence although there remains some psychiatrists who still insist Freud was right.

 

Now what about me? Well, when I put the pieces together, I am a triple minority. Research has shown that people who are double and triple minorities are in a very high risk situation. How am I a triple minority? First, there is the prejudice of just being gay. Second, my primary relationships have been interracial. Third, I am an introvert and Western societies, like Freud, tend to treat introverts as 'abnormal'. (Jenell, you will find this discussed at length when you explore Jung's work.)

 

Now for the difficult part. I am masculine. Freud concluded that even though he knew of many well adjusted masculine gay men, they were nonetheless the most 'abnormal' of all. Great logic.

 

I could go on, but I thought I would open up the issues a bit and see what happens.

 

Myron

Edited by minsocal
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Myron, thank you. Several things in your comments are providing me start points in new thoughts.

 

First, being 1, interovert/contemplative, 2, intellectually and creatively gifted, has given me, from earliest childhood, personal experience of being percieved as, treated as if, "abnormal"...in a very definitely "just not right", even "just not all there, if you know what I mean (wink)" kind of way. Perhaps for reason of some combination of 1 & 2, or some other, my "gender personality" (not sure that's the correct term, but best I can think of) was neither "girly-girly" nor "tomboy-athletic", fitting into neither tendency among my peers. Consequently I often felt like one invisible, walking alone, ever watching,seeing, but unseen...I often took up with the underdogs, the misfits...the little girl with stringy dirty hair, faded dresses that didn't fit right, the clumpsy little boy with coke-bottle lense glasses....even still, into most any kind of setting I go into, those same people's and my own radar seem to quickly locate each other, and a kind of "velcro-effect" kicks in.

 

What is it with human nature and perception of "different from me/us" that gives rise to so much negativity, hostility, toward those "others?" For all my study of psychology and people, I still don't know or understand. Ironically, even that about me has often made others uncomfortable with me, I've always been a people watcher, studying people, trying to understand people....where your heart is, there also is your treasure, I love people, I'm fascinated by trying to understand people, yet in that, I am at the same time sometimes appalled at how this can make ME feel "they" are somehow, intrinsically, "different from me."

 

Your attempt to speak, in any terms, of what it is "like" to be a homosexual male, a heterosexual male, or as for me, a heterosexual female, can, I think, only fail, not for lack of words, but for lack of the common ground of shared personal experience. I cannot even begin to try to explain what its like to be heterosexual female, because I cannot describe that apart from what it is like to be "me." I've been acutely aware all my life that if there is some universal "what it is (supposed to be) like" to be a heterosexual female, I don't know it, haven't personally experienced it.

 

The only place "heterosexual female" as part of my sense of who I am and what it is like to be "me" has been in the technical application of the term in my choice of sexual partners in life. Even my perception of what that part of what it is like to be me changed, in some ways dramatically, in some ways, subtly, in the recent 6 years my younger sister lived here with me as she underwent treatment for cancer. Over that 6 yrs, sharing this little 2 br house and daily life routines both at home and in our going about our respective "vocations" at the time, mine as a full time college student at University of Houston, she as a full time cancer patient just several miles from there at M.D. Anderson cancer center, evolved as much into a "marriage partnership", even without out any sexual relationship involved, as I've ever experienced...better than most with my male partners,to be honest. Few around me recognized, few would even think, it was a good while before I myself recognized it...that when my sister passed away here in my home on Dec. 20, 2008, I not only lost my sister, but my life-partner....I was widowed, and my unexpectedly difficult, awkward, sometimes embarrassing, and lengthy "recovery" reflects that . So where do I put this, work this, into what it is like to be a heterosexual female?

 

Why do humans seem so afraid of, or negative toward, or hating of, anything about another that isn't "like me"? Or is it, more simply, that are just "not me?" Is it fear that if we accept as "ok" something about another is different from how we are, that means how we are may be "not ok?"

 

Jenell

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What is it with human nature and perception of "different from me/us" that gives rise to so much negativity, hostility, toward those "others?"

Jenell,

 

My comment is made with some trepidation as this is a sensitive subject and I do not want to offend anyone. My answer to your question is that this is a residue of evolution. Evolution is about passing on our genes and this motivates much of our behavior and attitudes. It is similar to our instinctual attraction to beautiful people. Beauty is subconsciously interpreted as a sign of health and good mating possibilities.

 

The good news is that evolution also gave us limited reasoning ability so we can mitigate some of these instinctual reactions. And, lately we seem to be making some progress in that direction.

 

I also think this instinctual tendency is why blaming the Bible for homophobia is incorrect. It can give it some authoritative justification, but it, IMO, is not the underlying cause. This is supported by the fact that homophobia is not limited to Bible-believing societies and, in fact, existed in the secular societies such as the USSR and Red China.

 

George

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Evolution is about passing on our genes and this motivates much of our behavior and attitudes.

Jonathan Haidt, in his studies of morality across cultures has identified 'Five Foundations of Morality".

 

care for others,

fairness,

loyalty,

authority and

purity.

 

Loyalty has also been called Ingroup but it is a positive value.

 

Haidt says that liberals only work out of the first two. Conservatives work out of all five. If liberals want to work with conservatives they must speak authentically about all five.. Liberals are for diversity (vs loyalty), anti-authority, not worried very much about sanctity or purity unless it involves food.

 

Dutch

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Dutch presented a brief outline of Haidt's work which is highly regarded and frequently appears in peer reviewed social justice journals. Interpreted as Haidt intends, it could be a valuable tool to support the eight points.

Myron

Myron,

 

I will have it in 30 seconds on my Kindle. I am interested in the basis and theories of morality.

 

There are several books, including the following, that I would also recommend that address the subject from different angles:

Moral Politics by George Lakoff

Moral Minds by Marc Hauser

Justice by Michael Sandel

 

George

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