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September 7, 2009 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

This is for My Fundies

Okay, so here I am to dispel the malicious rumour that the bible speaks out against homosexuality. But who cares anymore about this stupid old argument anyway? I guess I just find it important because of my up-bringing in a Christian family, and I want family and old friends to understand. So with three different versions of the bible and one whole internet, here I go.

I’m going to start with, what I consider, the strongest argument against this. It’s simple. How could a book thousands of years old say anything about a word that didn’t exist till 1892 AD? And perhaps it all stems from this: a book translated over and over again to keep the language fresh is going to lose a bit of meaning here and there. To even think that society has not changed in the past couple millennia is all just a bit silly.

So what does the bible say? I will start with my biggest peeve, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-19:29), which goes kinda like this: There was this city Sodom that was apparently full of evil people, so God decided to destroy it. Abraham haggled with God a little, convincing him to spare the city if he found just 10 good people. So God sends some angels there and Lot (Abraham’s nephew) gets the angels to stay at his house instead of in the city square.

The men of Sodom found out about Lot’s guests and march on over demanding that Lot bring them about because they wanted to have sex with these guests. And God decides to destroy the city but lets Lot and his family get out first.

First thing’s first, since when did angels have a gender, they’re God’s helpers and as far as I know don’t need to procreate anyway. Also, it was never said specifically what the sin of Sodomites were in this part of the bible, it does later say “They were arrogant and spoiled, they had everything they needed and still refused to help the poor and needy. They thought they were better than everyone else…” (Ezekiel 16:49-50). Sure I’ve met a lot of arrogant and spoiled gay men, but they’re not all that bad.

Now I’m going to talk about Paul. Personally I do not like this guy, we used to study him all the time in my old bible study group and he came across as a bit up himself. So Romans 1:26, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 all say something about bad stuff being bad, generally sex related, including sexual perversions and in some versions ‘homosexuality’. Now unless you are fluent in ancient Greek or you are from that time and prove me wrong, I’m pretty sure it was not refering to the relationship of two people of the same gender, but sex for religious ceremony. Some (gay) biblical scholar called Rev. Mel White, who has studied ancient Greek and Hebrew, says that in the original text the words ‘malokois’ and ‘arsenokoitai’ are used. Malokois, apparently, refers to an effeminate call boy (perhaps). Greek scholars are not so sure on what arsenokoitai means, it has been translated as temple prostitute and also masturbator, but the original meaning is truly lost. Now in 1958, someone decided to translate arsenokoitai as homosexual and this is the first time that word ever appeared in the English bible. That is a long time after the bible was written, right?

Then there’s the standard Leviticus 18:22 “don’t lie with a man as you lie with a woman.” Sure, this can be interpreted as “homosexuality is wrong”. It can also be interpreted as “when sleeping with a man don’t treat them like a woman.” Fair call, makes sense. Or it could be the same case as before, refering to people serving as prostitutes in temples. It seems people always just view this verse by itself, but it becomes even less clear if the whole chapter is considered. It starts off saying incest is wrong, then takes this giant jump away and mentions sacrificing your children, then mentions hot man-on-man action. Could it be that it is still refering to bad temple practice?

You have to look at the social climate of the time this book was written. What were the Israelites doing at the time? They had escaped from Egypt and were now meandering through the dessert to the promised land. They had to work to keep their civilisation alive and lots of rules were in place that seemed related to sex and reproduction. Such as a woman being unclean and untouchable during her period, cool, she’s flushing an egg out, less fertile right. Or the spilling of seed on the ground (Genesis 38:8-10)—this is before they were walking in the desert and refers to a guy pulling out before ejaculation to stop impregnation.  He was sleeping with his brother’s wife, so I’m alright with letting him off the hook on that one. There’s also circumcision (Genesis 17-13) again before the Exodus, but a continued practice, it helps keep the penis clean, penial infection is not so good for making babies either as far as I know.

So, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Yeah, obviously. And what? We know how reproduction works, but just because a couple can’t reproduce it does not make them bad. No one is hating on heterosexual married couples that are infertile. Besides, it does say “Here is someone like me!…” (Genesis 2:23) that doesn’t seem to say much wrong about loving a person.

When it comes down to it I think the whole thing is taken out of context, as people are trying to apply rules that were set in a completely different social climate. The bible is full of rules that aren’t followed now like eating seafood (Leviticus 11:12), animal sacrifices (Leviticus 1:9), women forbidden to wear hats in church (1 Corinthian 11:5-6) and owning slaves (Leviticus 25:44-46).

In the past the bible has been used to justify things that a lot of us find horrible—racism (including apartheid and the holocaust) slave owning and the Christian crusades of old. Paired with colonisation and missionairies, it has destroyed cultures only now just being rediscovered. 

That’s all I got for now.


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Comments (7)

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  1. ophelian glitterbox says:

    total radness.

    stephen you rules


  2. Newts says:

    Couple of alright points, easy to read – good job!

    Small error though, the laws set down in the Old Test. (eg Leviticus w the seafood) were done away with the advent of Christ since his death meant that Jews (& gentiles) were no longer saved by deeds (impossible since no ones perfect) but by grace.

    Homosexuality is a sin but so is hetrosexuality outside of marriage, God loves sinners even if Christians are sometimes haters.


  3. Phoenix says:

    Stephen you’re my new best friend. I’m sick of people using the bible to justify their hate for, well, anything – but especially homosexuality. Guess such people glossed over the whole ‘love your neighbour’ and ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’ thing?

  4. Sando says:

    @Newts, Stephen’s entire point was that the bible doesn’t talk about homosexuality. Meaning that it is not necessarily a sin.

    The entire cluster fuck that surrounds only the married can have sexual relations and as same sex couples can’t marry each other, they can not have sex, has a similar problem, how do the various books of the bible define sex? Song of Solomon is pretty keen to mention a wide variety of erotic solutions, but other OT books are pretty caught up in that procreative discourse that Stephen was mentioning earlier.

  5. Stephen Jackson says:

    @newts, moreso, any mention that the new testament might make to any kind of sexual deviancy came after the new covenant was made with God.

  6. Alex says:

    Thankyou for raising some fascinating points. True to your word, unlike newer translations, (i compared NKJV with old KJV) old translations don’t include ‘homosexual.’ and so somewhere along the way some scholar started using it. Whether accurately or not I couldn’t say because I don’t exactly excell in Greek of any period!
    My one question would be how one can read Romans 1:27 without getting the impression that men committing homosexual acts is wrong?

  7. Sando says:

    @Alex (From wikipedia:)

    Some commentators (eg., Boswell 1980, p. 109f; Vasey 1995, p. 131f) speculate that the text does not condemn homosexual acts by homosexuals, rather “homosexual acts committed by heterosexual persons” (Boswell 1980, p. 109), or heterosexuals who “abandoned” or “exchanged” heterosexuality for homosexuality (McNeil, 1993). Boswell argues that the conceptual modality (natural laws) which would provide the basis for the blanket condemnation of homosexuality did not exist prior to the Enlightenment era .

    It’s a little…. stretched rhetorically speaking.

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