I am wholly confused by anyone who uses the Bible as a basis for saying that hommosexuality is wrong... Conservative Christians who say that homosexuals are going to "burn in hell" and need to be "saved" are clearly, at least to my logical mind, clearly off the mark. While I do not practice an organized religion, I have read the Bible from cover to cover on more than one occassion, and my conclusions are: the conservative Christians are more likely to go to hell, and need to be saved far more than any homosexual...
For starters, the Bible makes absolutely no single reference, allusion, or statement about homosexuality being a sin. Okay, okay... I know what you are about to say: What about the favourite passages of uber-scary religious zealots, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13? Well, here's the thing-- most Christians can't read Hebrew.
Leviticus 18:22, 20:13
The Bible was alleged to have been written over 2000 years ago, in Hebrew. Throughout the centuries, languages change and evolve. (Take the word 'gay' for example... just a few decades ago, it meant 'happy'... the language has changed and adapted, and the word now has a wholly different meaning.) So, the English version of the Bible was translated from Hebrew, to Greek, to Latin, to Old English. Ever play a game of 'telephone' as a child? You know, the game where someone says something, and by the time the phrase gets to the other end of the room it's been turned into a whole different phrase? The Bible has been translated four different times; it is VERY likely some of it's original meanings were lost in the translation. (As testament to that, take an English sentence and go to a multi-language translator, and translate it into Hebrew. Now, copy the Hebrew and translate that into Greek. Now take that Greek and translate it into Latin. Now copy the Latin and translate it back into English. How different is your sentence? Now, a human translator is (hopefully) a bit more proficient than an electronic one, but some context is still likely to be lost. If you speak Hebrew, (a friend of mine does,) and you go back to the original Hebrew text, the meanings are a bit different than the English text which was pulled through several languages. The text in Leviticus says that two men can not lie down in any woman's bed. Leviticus is a list of hygiene laws, not laws about sex...
Okay, what about Genesis 19:5? Here again, the lack of Hebrew-speaking Christians poses a problem. First off, a "Sodomite" is a person who lives in Sodom. The term "sodomite" outside of this context (such as in the King James Version of Deuteronomy 23:17 and I Kings 14:24) is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for "temple prostitute". The average person assumes that the Bible clearly condemns male to male sexual intercourse as "sodomy" and that the city of Sodom was destroyed because of homosexuality, which is seen as the worst of all sins in the Bible. These assumptions are based on no evidence at all in the Bible. None of the biblical references to Sodom mention sexual sins but view Sodom as an example of injustice, lack of hospitality to strangers, idolatry and as a symbol for desolation and destruction. See Deuteronomy 29:22-28; 32:32; Ezekiel 16:49-50; Jeremiah 49:18; 50:41; Isaiah 13:19-22 and Matthew 10:14-15. The association with homosexuality and sodomy is again, due to a mis-translation. In Jude 7, the term "strange flesh" is Greek hetero sarkos ("different flesh" and from which the word "heterosexual" comes) and refers to foreign idols or people. It is not homo ("the same") flesh or people. Sarkos is never used in the New Testament as a word for "sex."
To twist the story to say what it does not say is to miss what it does say. The story does not deal with sexual orientation or with homosexuality and has no bearing at all on the issue of God's acceptance or rejection of Gays and Lesbians. The story of Sodom clearly teaches that evil and violent people who attack aliens and strangers whom they do not know or understand receive God's quick and terrible punishment.
The purpose of the story is to show that misunderstood, strange, or feared minorities in any community are in danger from violence by the majority when that majority is ignorant, ungodly, selfish and afraid. The real message of Sodom is backwards from the claims of homophobic preachers and teachers. The Gay and Lesbian minority in our society today is more like the guests in Lot's house who were protected behind closed doors ("in the closet") than like the frightened mindless mob that wanted to expose, humiliate and destroy people that they did not "know" and control.
Set the record straight! Genesis 19 is about the fear (like homophobia) and anger of a mob (like many misguided religious fanatics) directed against a small group of isolated strangers (like Gays and Lesbians today) in their midst. Sexual orientation is not the issue here or anywhere else in the Bible.
Read also the strange story in Judges 19:1-30 of the Levite in Gibeah, which was patterned after the story of Lot and the angels in Genesis 19. Jewish teachers before the time of Christ never saw either of these stories as having any connection with homosexuality or sexual orientation. Neither should we.
I Cortithians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10
These two verses contain completely wrong translations to create "homosexual ghosts"... Ghosts may not hurt you, but they can make you hurt yourself! The homosexual ghosts in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 were created by the inaccurate and intentionally misleading translation of two Greek words.
1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 sound very convincing in including lesbians and gay men in the most dreadful lists of depraved human behavior imaginable. The fact is that the word translated "homosexual" does not mean "homosexual" and the word translated "effeminate" does not mean "effeminate"!
The English word "homosexual" is a composite word made from a Greek term (homo, "the same") and a Latin term (sexualis , "sex"). The term "homosexual" is of modern origin and was not used until about 100 years ago. There is no word in biblical Greek or Hebrew that is parallel to the word "homosexual." No Bible before the Revised Standard Version in 1946 used "homosexual" in any Bible translation.
The word translated as "homosexual" or "sexual pervert" or some other similar term is Greek arsenokoites, which was formed from two words meaning "male" and "bed". This word is not found anywhere else in the Bible and has not been found anywhere in the contemporary Greek of Paul's time. We do not know what it means. The word is obscure and uncertain. It probably refers to male prostitutes with female customers, which was a common practice in the Roman world, as revealed in the excavations at Pompeii and other sites.
"Soft" does not mean "effeminate." The word translated "effeminate in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is Greek malakoi and means "soft" or "vulnerable." The word is translated as "soft" in reference to clothing in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 and as "illness" in Matthew 4:23 and 9:35. It is not used anywhere else in the New Testament and carries no hint of reference to sexual orientation. Malakoi in 1 Corinthians 6:9 probably refers those who are "soft," "pliable," "unreliable," or "without courage or stability." The translation of malakoi as "effeminate" is incorrect, ignorant, degrading to women, and impossible to justify based on ancient usage compared to the meaning of "effeminate" today.
This incorrect rendering of malakoi and arsenokoites as references to gender orientation has been disastrous for millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual people. This mistaken translation has enlisted a mighty army of ignorant religious fanatics against homosexual people and has turned many Lesbians and Gays against the Bible, which holds for them as for all people the good news of God's love in Christ.
So, as I started out: The Bible makes no viable comdenmnation of homosexuality anywhere in it's text. There are a few passages which allude to homosexuality in a positive light, however. Luke 7:1-10, for example, tell the story of Luke heading to Capernaum to seek the Jewish miracle worker to help save a "certain centurian servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die." It seems a bit odd that a centurion would be so caring about a slave, (especially considering how the slaves are treated elsehwere in the Bible,) but is doubly so by a centurion approaching a Jewish miracle worker for help... The underlying Greek text implies a possible homosexual relationship... and Jesus does not consemn the centurion in this story...
In Heterosexual marriage ceremonies, a very common text to be used is Ruth 1:16-17. In the Bible, however, this pledge is made between two women- Ruth and Naomi. This story could easily be interpreted as having lesbian undertones...
I Sam is a very compelling story for homosexuality as well... The text itself is quite long to type here, so i suggest you go off and read it yourself. In a breif summary, David and Jonathan fall inlove, and even share a passionate kiss... In 2 Sam 1:25-26 (New International Version), Sam vows to Jonathan: " Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of a woman."
In Acts 8:26-39, an Ethiopian Eunuch, (a group specifically excluded for sexual reasons from membership in the people of Israel by Deut 23:1,) is baptised by Philip. This entire passage is about the inclusion in the Church of the excluded. First a racially/ethnically excluded group, then a sexually excluded individual.
Missing the Point
The simple facts are:
- Jesus says nothing about same-sex behavior.
- The Jewish prophets are silent about homosexuality.
- Only six or seven of the Bible's one million verses refer to same-sex behavior in any way -- and none of these verses refer to homosexual orientation as it's understood today.
John 3:16, :""For God so loved the World that he gave his only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him should not perish but have eternal life"
Isiah 56:3-8, "For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather others to them besides those already gathered. "
The message of the Bible is one of love, tolerance, patience, and understanding. The Bible is a book about God -- not a book about human sexuality.
The Bible is the story of God's love for the world and the people of the world. It tells the history of God's love at work rescuing, renewing, and empowering humankind. It was never intended to be a book about human sexuality. Certainly, you will agree.
In fact, the Bible accepts sexual practices that we condemn and condemns sexual practices that we accept. Lots of them! Here are a few examples.
In Deuteronomy 22:13-21, If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately
In Deuteronomy 22:13-21: If a married person has sex with someone else's husband or wife , the Bible commands that both adulterers be stoned to death .
In Mark 10:1-12, Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.
In Mark 12:18-27, if a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.
I'm certain you don't agree with these teachings from the Bible about sex. And you shouldn't. The list goes on: The Bible says clearly that sex with a prostitute is acceptable for the husband but not for the wife. Polygamy (more than one wife) is acceptable, as is a king's having many concubines. (Solomon, the wisest king of all, had 1,000 concubines.) Slavery and sex with slaves, marriage of girls aged 11-13, and treatment of women as property are all accepted practices in the Scriptures. On the other hand , there are strict prohibitions against interracial marriage , birth control, discussing or even naming a sexual organ, and seeing one's parents nude.
Over the centuries the Holy Spirit has taught us that certain Bible verses should not be understood as God's law for all time periods. Some verses are specific to the culture and time they were written, and are no longer viewed as appropriate, wise, or just.
Often, the Holy Spirit uses science to teach us why those ancient words no longer apply to our modern times. During the last three decades, for example, organizations representing 1.5 million U.S. health professionals (doctors , psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and educators) have stated definitively that homosexual orientation is as natural as heterosexual orientation, that sexual orientation is determined by a combination of yet unknown pre- and post-natal influences, and that it is dangerous and inappropriate to tell a homosexual that he or she could or should attempt tochange his or her sexual orientation...
So... is Homosexuality a sin? The Bible is very unclear on the issue. But, it does say that shaving is a sin, and that prostitution is okay...
And so, the conservative Christians who have convinced themselves that homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says so are, in fact, wrong themselves. They miss the whole point of the Bible; to love and accept others, and to treat others as you would have them treat you. And, if there is a God, or a Heaven, I think that the people who would turn a message of tolerance and peace into one of hatred and intolerance are the ones who would be turned away at the pearly gates....