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Homosexuality And Bible Claims


Neon Genesis
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While I think it's important to point out the barbarity of the Levitical laws, I think number 8 is a bit misrepresentative of fundamentalist Christian doctrine. The reason fundamentalist Christians still condemn homosexuality but don't follow the other Levitical laws is because they believe that the OT laws were superseded by the sacrifice of Jesus. Most of the current English translations of the NT still keep the prohibitions of homosexuality in the NT but the OT commandment to stone disobedient children isn't repeated in the NT. So for fundamentalist Christians, since they think the commandments against homosexuality are in the NT, it's still considered a sin by God but since the the NT no longer allows stoning disobedient children to death, they don't think they have to follow it. The real problem and a more interesting debate that I think they should have brought up is that the English translations of the bible that condemn homosexuality are mistranslated into English and have nothing to do with homosexuality between consenting and loving adults at all.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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The real problem and a more interesting debate that I think they should have brought up is that the English translations of the bible that condemn homosexuality are mistranslated into English and have nothing to do with homosexuality between consenting and loving adults at all.

 

Would you be willing to expand on this? The reason I ask is that If I were to go into a discussion with that arguement I have to be able to back it up. It would be greatly appreciated.

 

steve

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There has been some scholarly debate as to whether or not 1 Corinthians 6:9 actually condemns homosexuality or if it's been mistranslated in English. The problem with translating 1 Corinthians 6:9 as condemning homosexuality is that the Greek word Paul uses an unusual word that he seems to have made up himself and not the normal Greek word they would have used to describe same-sex sexual acts. Since the word seems to have been one Paul coined, we don't really know what it actually means. Likewise with Romans 1, there is some debate as to whether or not Paul is condemning homosexuality between consenting adults or if he's condemning pagan prostitution rituals. The general consensus of Sodom and Gomorrah is that it was about hospitality laws and not homosexuality. Here's an interesting article that goes into the translation and historical context debates in more depth and provides some other interesting interpretations of these controversial scriptures: http://truthsetsfree.net/

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It seems to me that apologetics can apply not only to fundamentalists but also to liberal Christians on this issue. Rather than reaching to assume a position on interpretation, i think the answer is more appropriate in the proper classification of what the Bible is. Just my opinion.

 

Joseph

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It seems to me that apologetics can apply not only to fundamentalists but also to liberal Christians on this issue.

 

I agree and raise you a post. I think that both conservatives and liberals are guilty, in general, of interpreting the Bible to support their worldview (and related theology). When a literal interpretation serves the purpose, that is what is used. When metaphor is needed, it is used. When a re-translation is needed, it is used.

 

I prefer a more objective interpretation recognizing the context and the times while acknowledging that many of the biblical authors were very progressive for their time, but just don't appear to be when measured against modern standards and sensibilities. Let's give them credit for what they were, not try to make them something else.

 

The Bible, wrongly in my opinion, becomes a weapon of both sides in the culture wars with both using the same texts to support their position.

 

George

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A quick comment that perhaps speaks to the concerns of Myron(from a different thread) with respect to progress.

 

As I read and discuss GLBT issues ... it seems folks with a passion for equal treatment either are gay themselves or came to their understanding via a friend or loved one being gay.... my uncle was gay and died having lived 2 separate lives . It was only after he died that the family came to really know him and love him.

 

How sad it is that something like this has to happen to see the light. Perhaps what Myron was speaking of is that until society develops the ability to see "right" even when it doesn't relate to them personally true progress will be limited.

 

steve

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It seems to me that apologetics can apply not only to fundamentalists but also to liberal Christians on this issue. Rather than reaching to assume a position on interpretation, i think the answer is more appropriate in the proper classification of what the Bible is. Just my opinion.

 

Joseph

I don't think this is necessarily a liberal version of apologetics. Christians of all theological and political persuasions are starting to question traditional biblical interpretations of the passages typically used by Christians to condemn homosexuality. Accepting that the bible is nothing more than human opinion may work just fine for progressive Christians and their secular allies but it's not convincing to other Christians who still believe that the bible is the inspired word of God but who might otherwise be open to being supportive of the plight of gay rights. Considering that so many Christians still consider the bible to be the final word on morality, I think it's important to understand what the bible says and what it doesn't say, just like it's important to understand any other issue that mainstream biblical scholarship has addressed, including everything from the existence of a historical Jesus to the Q gospel debates. It's like how Christians used to believe that the curse of Ham supported the suppression of the races but now that most Christians in modern times condemn slavery, nobody except maybe a few radicals like the KKK still thinks the curse of Ham had anything to do with race and I think the same thing will eventually happen with homosexuality. Until then, I think it's important for us to educate people that there is more than one way to read the bible and that sometimes it's important to take a step back and look at the bible from a different perspective instead of using tradition as an excuse for justifying discrimination and a refusal to look closer at the scriptures. Edited by Neon Genesis
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Until then, I think it's important for us to educate people that there is more than one way to read the bible and that sometimes it's important to take a step back and look at the bible from a different perspective instead of using tradition as an excuse for justifying discrimination and a refusal to look closer at the scriptures.

 

I agree, if that perspective is objective and not just an attempt (consciously or subconsciously) to give a modern point-of-view an authoritative biblical slant.

 

George

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I heard a lecture recently in which there was a comment appropriate to this discussion. Although the lecture was about attitudes toward different dialects, it is applicable to homophobia, racism and the like.

 

The lecturer said that there are three dimensions to our reaction: affective (our visceral, emotional reaction), cognitive (our reasoned reaction) and behavior. We cannot eliminate our affective reaction; it is part of us based on genetics and enculturation. We can, however, cognitively reason a different response. But, the critical dimension is behavior - do we let our visceral reaction or reason control how we behave.

 

I think that by cognitively overcoming our visceral reaction to race or sexual orientation, etc., we can enculturate the next generation so they don't have the same affective/cognitive conflict that we and our generation might have.

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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I agree, if that perspective is objective and not just an attempt (consciously or subconsciously) to give a modern point-of-view an authoritative biblical slant.

 

George

I would say that the majority of the anti-gay interpretations that homophobic Christians use today are modern day points of views that the American Religious Right made up to justify their bigotry and discrimination. The first known appearance of the slogan "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" made its first appearance on a homophobic protest sign in the 1970s, yet many fundamentalist Christians still think the Genesis creation account condemns homosexuality. Furthermore, nowhere in the bible does anyone ever cite the Sodom and Gomorrah story as a justification for condemning homosexuality and the book of Ezekiel itself tells us what the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was.
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Furthermore, nowhere in the bible does anyone ever cite the Sodom and Gomorrah story as a justification for condemning homosexuality and the book of Ezekiel itself tells us what the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was.

 

Sodom and Gomorrah is problematic. Leviticus is unambiguous.

 

George

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I don't think Leviticus is as straightforward and obvious as biblical literalists would like to think, either. The law in Leviticus 18 was given to the Israelites in the context of God commanding the Israelites to keep themselves separate from pagan society. In ancient times, women had even less social status than they do today and were treated like property by men. If you were the man on top during anal sex you would be pardoned, but for a man to play the role of a woman in sexual intercourse would be considered a highly degrading form of sexual abuse because you were seen as taking on the role of the lowest of the low during sex. An example of this would be how Julius Caesar's political enemies tried to claim he was the victim of anal rape as a political smear against him. The Levitical law here isn't condemning loving and consenting relationships between the same gender but it's saying don't sexually abuse a man like an object. In modern times, we wouldn't consider anal sex between consenting and loving adults regardless of their gender in itself to be abusive and many heterosexual couples enjoy anal sex too, but there are other ways men use other men as sexual toys in modern society, like homophobic Christians who have sex with prostitutes while smoking crystal meth behind their wives' backs.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Neon,

 

I would be interested in solid, explicit evidence that the Israelite society approved of same-sex relations in a "loving' relationship.

 

I would also be interesting in evidence, from Israelite society (not Greek, not Persian, Arab, etc.), of this sexual positioning claim. Were Leviticus referring only to the physical position of the participants (regardless of biological sex), I wonder why it didn't say so, it specifies a man with another man.

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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I would be interested in solid, explicit evidence that the Israelite society approved of same-sex relations in a "loving' relationship
From David to Jonathan:
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;

greatly beloved were you to me;

your love to me was wonderful,

passing the love of women.

 

I would also be interesting in evidence, from Israelite society (not Greek, not Persian, Arab, etc.), of this sexual positioning claim. Were Leviticus referring only to the physical position of the participants (regardless of biological sex), I wonder why it didn't say so, it specifies a man with another man.
Leviticus doesn't say for a man not to lie with a man. It says that a man shouldn't lie with a man as with a woman, meaning don't take the sexual position of a woman in sex. If it was condemning all forms of homosexuality, why doesn't it condemn lesbians? Bishop Spong discusses ancient attitudes towards sexual positions in his book Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalism. Edited by Neon Genesis
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Neon,

 

I would like to see some persuasive evidence that Leviticus doesn't mean what it says. I would like to see persuasive evidence of toleration for same-sex relationships in Israelite society. But, I have never seen anything other than attempts to explain away attitudes we don't agree with.

 

George

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In my studies of the issue, i have seen no persuasive evidence that it was acceptable in the Old Testament or new Testament. I have only seen people use their own logic and reasoning to explain away at whay i perceive at the expense of other passages. It seems obvious to me that there are many things in the Old Testament said that are contradictory and said by men , not God. It seems also obvious to me that there are many things said in the New Testament that are said by men and are the customs and beliefs of men of those times and not of God. Having said that, i condemn no one nor do i reject homosexuality as inherently of itself being a sin or looked upon by God as an abomination. It to me is ludicrous to think that an all-knowing God created man out of Love itself and then finds any part of that creation an abomination to that source. To use the Bible to justify ones position either way, while many on both sides try, is to me folly and misses the real message of Christianity (This is my opinion and experience)

 

Joseph.

Edited by JosephM
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I'd like to know what you would define as "persuasive" evidence since apparently what I've given you isn't good enough for you.

 

Neon,

 

i think to be persuasive in context to what George and i have said would be to present more solid evidence that would influence a change in someones belief that is not predisposed to support a preference.

 

I have heard both sides of the debate and while i do not see homosexuals as more or less in God's eyes, it is obvious to me that interpretation has to be unreasonably stretched to use the Bible to support a position in favor of same sex acts by God. I personally reject the Bible as God's infallible word so to me it is a non-issue that God is speaking instead of Paul or Moses if in fact they are even the authors of what writings we are using that exist today.

 

Joseph

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The problem with George's standard of "persuasive" evidence is that unless we find some amazing archaeological evidence that proves what the Israelites thought about homosexuality either way, the only thing we have to rely on to reconstruct the moral views and practices of the ancient Israelites is the bible and one's own scriptural interpretation. So if George won't be convinced until something other than the bible comes along, then he's going to be waiting a very long time, for that and almost any other biblical debate about the OT. Bible scholars have found both pro-slavery and anti-slavery passages in the bible, they've found both pro-women and anti-women passages, and there's pro-polygamy and anti-polygamy passages in the bible. If we could find both sides of the spectrum on other moral debates in the bible, I don't see why we can't do the same with homosexuality, other than because of cultural hangovers from a fundamentalist upbringing. I do find it curious though that if the bible condemns homosexuality, why does it only condemn lesbians in one whole passage in the NT but mentions only gay men everywhere else and why is there no record of anyone in the OT being executed solely because of their sexuality?

Edited by Neon Genesis
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The problem with George's standard of "persuasive" evidence is that unless we find some amazing archaeological evidence that proves what the Israelites thought about homosexuality either way, the only thing we have to rely on to reconstruct the moral views and practices of the ancient Israelites is the bible and one's own scriptural interpretation.

 

Neon, the problem is you are making proposals about the nature of Israelite culture with no evidence.

 

George

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Neon,

 

Perhaps your questions of Why? above in post #30 are flawed because your assumption is that the Bible is really going to answer your question. By your own admission, the Bible can be used in both sides of the issue. Why then look there for an answer (persuasive evidence) ? It seems to me that an open mind and reason and real life subjective experience will do a better job than looking for proof in the Bible of your claim..

 

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
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