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PART 2 - Page 8 of 34
New Testament Teachings Regarding Same-Sex Sexual Activity
Confusing Long-term Homosexual Monogamy with the Sexual Exploitation of Kids, Adult Male Prostitution & Male on Male Rape
Could Paul Have Been Mistaken?
1 Timothy 1:9-10
Could The Biblical Eunuch Include Today's Homosexual?
The following passage from Romans 1:18-32 is undoubtedly the most important statement of homosexuality in the entire Bible. It occurs in the Christian New Testament, so unlike Leviticus, no one can dismiss it as part of the "Old" Testament. And it is long and detailed, so unlike the other two references in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 (see below), no one can claim it is a mere passing comment. But precisely because this passage is long, it provides a lot of material for analysis, and more and more surely as the evidence mounts, this analysis shows that this text has been misunderstood and misused.
Here is the text of Romans 1-18-32. Only verses 26 and 27 are clear references to homogenital acts; female homogenital acts in verse 26, and male homogenital acts in verse 27.
Romans 1:18-32 - 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to things that should not be done. 29They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32They know God's decree, that those who do such things deserve to die - yet they not only do them but even applaud those who practice them. (NRSV)
Idolatry and Sexual Selfishness - Gary Lynn's
Viewpoint, Right Upfront About Romans 1:18-32
To me, in Romans 1:18-32, Paul is specifically talking about idolatry and how this idolatry is expressed in sexual selfishness which shows itself in lustful same-sex acts by both males and females. L. R. Holben argues and I agree "that Paul cannot be addressing the situation of present-day homosexuals, in particular Christian homosexuals, who are not idolaters. Furthermore, Paul's emphasis on the lustful nature of the passions he describes, while clearly speaking to promiscuous, abusive and dehumanizing homosexual expression in both his age and our own, is held to be entirely inapplicable to loving, committed, consensual relationships between gays or lesbians, the nature of whose partnerships clearly has nothing in common with . . the forms of sexual expression being condemned." (1) Loving, committed and consensual relationships between gays or lesbians are not based on selfishness whereas all the promiscuous sexual acts by males and females Paul talked about in verses 26 and 27 are indeed founded on selfishness where the other person is turned into a thing, an object to be exploited, to be used and abused for their own pleasure. And we are reminded that almost all sin is grounded in selfishness and egotism - examples: lying, stealing, murder and adultery. Love that is the real thing, where one partner loves his or her partner more than himself or herself, can never be selfish or wrong. To read more about beautiful logic of love click Here.
How Can The Sexual Exploitation of Children,
Adult Male Prostitution
or Male on Male Rape Be Compared to Homosexual Monogamy?
Now remember that the above verses in Romans that referred to same-sex sexual behavior were authored by the Apostle Paul and he was concerned about the influence of the pagan cultures that existed throughout the Roman Empire where new Gentile Christians lived. He was concerned about the male-on-male sexual activities explicitly associated with idol worship as mentioned on page 7 and with people (both men and women-Romans 1:26, 27) who, in an unbridled search for pleasure as a result of their idolatry, broke away from their "natural" heterosexual sexual orientation, participating in promiscuous and lustful sex with anyone, male or female, child or teenager available. Also remember that up until the word homosexual was invented in the mid to late 19th Century, it was understood that everyone was a heterosexual. According to L. William Countryman in Dirt, Greed & Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today, the ancient world "lacked even a behavior-based category for people who showed a fixed preference for partners of the same sex."
And it is apparent that Paul was only familiar with the 5 male-on-male sexual relations that existed at the time, the ones I listed on page 4. It is clear that he was very much in opposition to or against these specific sexual practices, which amounted to a large extent to pederasty, a form of pedophilia common in the ancient world where successful older men would take boys into their homes as concubines, lovers, and sexual slaves or look for them on the streets as prostitutes. On that list is also adult male prostitution and male on male rape. We can all agree that these sexual practices are abhorrent and sinful. But it is not clear and completely illogical that he would be against something that did not exist - two people of the same sex living in a committed, monogamous, loving relationship. Paul had no concept of these kind of relationships between two men or two women. This reasoning is in line with the idea that authorial limits must be considered when one is translating any given text with integrity. According to L. R. Holben (paraphrasing), this means that we need to ask ourselves what the author intended to communicate in a particular text. It means that we cannot generally take a biblical text to mean more than its own author understood it to mean. Therefore since long-term monogamous homosexual relationships were unknown in Biblical times we can only assume that Paul was referring to the five known types of male-on-male sexual practices of that era.
As United Methodist biblical scholar Walter Wink puts it, “Paul had no concept of homosexual orientation. The idea was not available in his world." And as Baptist Minister, Oliver "Buzz" Thomas writes in his article "When Religion Loses Its Credibility" in USAToday "it completely distorts the biblical witness to apply verses written in one historical context (i.e. sexual exploitation of children, [adult male prostitution or male on male rape]) to contemporary situations between two monogamous partners of the same sex. Sexual promiscuity is condemned by the Bible whether it's between gays or straights. Sexual fidelity is not." (By the way, Romans 1:26 is the only biblical mention of female-on-female sex)
Could Paul Have Been Mistaken? Well Yes, Actually,
. .Paul's whole argument when he uses the words "natural" and "unnatural" in this passage [verses 26 and 27] reflects his lack of awareness that some people's "natures," that is to say, their internal, spontaneous affectional [romantic] and sexual responses, are same-sex directed. Since the apostle assumed, along with the rest of his Jewish subculture, that everybody is "by nature" heterosexual, and that homosexual acts and desires therefore always represent a deliberate choice to act "against" the integrity of one's internal selfhood, . . . . what Paul is really condemning here is deliberate, conscious perversity. As a result, Romans I has nothing at all to say about men and women whose "natures" are truly homosexual. All Paul knew of homosexuality was the debauched pagan expression of it. To repeat, since he had no awareness of the existence of a homosexual orientation which is both unchosen and immutable, nor any models for responsible, loving, committed homosexual relationships, we must conclude that Paul was simply mistaken in his blanket condemnation of all homosexual acts (just as, for different reasons, he was mistaken in his tacit acceptance of slavery and his exclusion of women from leadership in the church.) So he cannot be condemned for that ignorance, but neither should his ignorance be an excuse for our own. (2) To base the church's principled objections to homosexuality and homosexuals on the basis of Paul's imperfect knowledge is itself unprincipled, and indeed quite beside all of the heroic points that Paul intends to make in Romans 1. (3)
according to L. R. Holben (paraphrasing)
this reasoning is in line with the idea that limits are imposed upon the
biblical authors and editors by the fact that they were of necessity men of
their particular time and culture; it has to do with the question of whether
(and, if so, to what degree) that fact affected their understanding of the
truth revealed to them or the conclusions (sometimes erroneous) they drew
from it. Yes, I believe that
the Holy Scriptures are indeed inspired
by God, but only through the limitations of the human condition which we
have to take into account as we read them.
HERE to read More. No, I do not
believe that every part, every word of the Bible is the Word of God in and
of itself—irrespective of context. That
is called proof-texting which I deal with on Page 16.
Continuing with the above line of thought, it has been suggested that (since what is at issue here is a deliberate violation of the structures of one's personality and innate sexual orientation) this [Romans 1:18-32] passage could even support an argument that it would be wrong for a true homosexual to attempt to function as, or change into, a heterosexual. (2) Click Here and Here to read my thoughts on the whole ex-gay fraud.
Another Reason Paul Was
I also argue that Paul was mistaken about same-sex sexual relations because it was based on his belief in the literal return of Jesus during his lifetime or the lifetime of his contemporaries. In Mark 9:1 (New Living Translation): Jesus went on to say, "I assure you that some of you standing here right now will not die before you see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!" And Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-19 (New Living Translation) 13And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 15We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.
According to Linda J. Patterson in her book, Hate Thy Neighbor-How the Bible is Misused to Condemn Homosexuality: Paul's belief of the imminent return of Jesus may have influenced his views regarding passion, sex, and marriage. For example, at one point during his ministry, Paul received an inquiry from the church in Corinth regarding whether it is appropriate for a man to "touch a woman." (3a) Apparently, there were some ascetics in the church who believed that following Jesus requires self-denial, and that Christians should therefore forego sex. (3b) Paul responds by indicating that sex is only acceptable between a husband and wife, and that they should provide each other their "conjugal rights." (3c) Far from encouraging marriage, however, Paul indicates that only people who are "aflame with passion" and incapable of exercising "self-control" should consider marriage. (3d) Believing that "the appointed time has grown short," and "the present form of this world is passing away," (3e) Paul counsels the Christians at Corinth to forego sex in order to focus on the affairs of the Lord in the last days. In other words, Paul appears to have frowned upon all sex, and he believed that it was a distraction for the faithful that should be avoided in favor of his perceived ideal of celibacy.
Patterson continues: It was bad enough for Paul that husbands and wives wanted to have sex together, but at least heterosexual intercourse involved the functions of procreation and preservation of the active/passive gender roles which reflected men as "the image and reflection of God" and women as the "reflection of man." (3f) Perhaps Paul thought that sexual relations which fell outside of these limitations were "unnatural" and "degrading" because such relations were motivated by passion alone. Instead of seeing passion as a potentially positive force that should be celebrated and enjoyed, Paul viewed it as a negative urge that should be suppressed. (3g) Indeed, he once lamented that "I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh." (3h) A romantic man Paul was not!
So, "like the Stoics, Paul would have been opposed to any kind of sex engaged in purely for pleasure. And he saw no reason to bring children into a world that was soon coming to an end. Hence he saw no need for sex - period." (4) [Stoics were members of a school of philosophy who believe that the wise man should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief and submissive to natural law]
The Authority of Scripture
Should Gays and Lesbians Be Defined Primarily by Their Sexual Inclinations?
Peter J. Gomes in his inspiring book, The Good Book-Reading The Bible With Mind and Heart, lays out a solid case for what I'm trying to say and more on this page [But he says it a whole lot better, ha-ha]:
. . . . In an article in
Christianity Today, "Why Is
This Important?" Stanton L. Jones gives three reasons [for not changing the
Conservative Christian Churches' position on homosexuality], "First, the church's
historically high view of the authority of scripture is threatened by efforts at
revising the church's position on homosexuality. His second reason is that if
homosexuals are defined primarily by their sexual inclinations, this definition
is contrary to the fundamental definition of Christian identity. The third and
most critical reason, however is this: "We can only change our position on
homosexuality by changing our fundamental stance on biblical authority, by
changing our core view of sexuality, and by changing the meaning and character
of Christ's call on our lives."
The first of Jones's objections, that the authority of scripture is challenged by a revision of the church's position on homosexuality, does not take account of the fact that the authority of scripture seems not to have been challenged by the revision of the church's position on women, Jews, and slavery. Nor does he appear to take into account the fact that, high view or not, the scripture has so little to say about homosexuality that it cannot be called upon to resolve the contemporary church's debates about homosexuality or address itself to the modern complexity of human sexuality. It should also be noted that it is not homosexuals who define themselves by their sexual desires, but it is invariably the case that persons opposed to homosexuality [who] define it and homosexuals exclusively in sexual terms. Finally, of course, what Jones sees as a "problem" is in fact the only intellectually and spiritually responsible way forward. We must change our positions on homosexuality if that position is based upon a prejudicial and uninformed reading of scripture. Our fundamental stance on biblical authority ought by no means to be an absolute; that is a form of Protestant idolatry. [Note from Gary Lynn: I understand this to mean that it is a form of idolatry to consider the imperfect Bible of more importance than the perfect Holy Spirit, i.e. God] Indeed, our core view of sexuality ought to change, and must, and the "meaning and character of Christ's call on our lives" thus is not merely changed but enlarged to reflect a dynamic and inclusive gospel.
What is at stake is not simply the authority of scripture, as
conservative opponents to homosexual legitimization like to say, but the
authority of the culture of interpretation by which these people read
scripture in such a way as to lend legitimacy to their doctrinaire prejudices.
Thus the battle for the Bible, of which homosexuality is the last front, is
really the battle for the prevailing culture, of which the Bible itself is a
mere trophy and icon. Such a cadre of cultural conservatives would rather
defend their ideology in the name of the authority of scripture than concede
that their self-serving reading of that scripture might just be wrong, and that
both the Bible and the God who inspires it may be more gracious, just, and
inclusive than they can presently afford to be.
The biblical writers never contemplated a form of homosexuality in which loving, monogamous, and faithful persons sought to live out the implications of the gospel with as much fidelity to it as any heterosexual believer. All they knew of homosexuality was prostitution, pederasty, lasciviousness, and exploitation. These vices, as we know, are not unknown among heterosexuals, and to define contemporary homosexuals only in these terms is a cultural slander of the highest order, reflecting not so much prejudice, which it surely does, but what the Roman Catholic Church calls "invincible ignorance," which all of the Christian piety and charity in the world can do little to conceal. The "problem," of course, is not the Bible, it is the Christians who read it. (5)
Sacred Biblical Scripture Was Found
Not to Apply in Paul and Peter's Day - Acts 10
A good winding up of all this is found in L. R. Holben's, What Christians Think about Homosexuality - Six Representative Viewpoints, where he writes:
"If . . [the above] bald-faced assertion(s) [That Paul was in fact mistaken in his blanket condemnation of all homosexual acts] seems heretical to more conservative sensibilities, we would remind their fellow Christians of Peter's rooftop vision relating to the conversion of the centurion Cornelius and his family (Acts 10). The "conservative" view among faithful Jews of the time, buttressed by strong biblical evidence and consistent tradition, was that Jews could have no intimate dealings with Gentiles. But God's purpose was greater even than Scripture or the traditions of the household of faith. In imagery that can only have seemed extraordinarily shocking to Peter (just as shocking as it would be to many conservative Christians today to consider, for example, affirming the moral legitimacy of a loving, committed, monogamous gay union), God showed Peter a sheet writhing with non-kosher animals and instructed him to "kill and eat." When Peter protested that he had never in his entire life eaten anything unclean (as, it is important to note, the Scriptures themselves had defined "unclean"), God's shattering answer was: 'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.' Every Gentile Christian today is welcomed into the fellowship of the church only because Peter's response was to reach beyond biblical literalism to a new and wider inclusivity. In so doing, he was implicitly judging the divinely mandated traditions of his people, expressed through their sacred Scriptures, as insufficient for the all-embracing purpose of God's love. We can do no less, it is argued, for God's beloved gay and lesbian people." (6)
1 Timothy 1:9-10
1 Timothy 1:9-10 - “pornoi”, “arsenokoitai”, and “andrapodistai” (9) For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. (10) The law is for people who are sexually immoral (pornoi), or who practice homosexuality (arsenokoitai), or are slave traders (andrapodistai), liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching (New Living Translation)
Gary Lynn's Analysis: Now that we've dealt with the meaning of arsenokoitai (click Here to go to my review of this word), the meaning of the other 2 Greek words falls fairly well into place. According to Robin Scroggs in The New Testament and Homosexuality on page 120-121, “pornoi”, “arsenokoitai”, and “andrapodistai” should be translated to mean “male prostitutes [primarily adolescent boys], males who lie (with them) and slave-dealers (who procure them). . . . I thus draw the conclusion that the 3 item vice list in 1 Timothy is not condemnatory of homosexuality in general, not even pederasty in general, but that specific form of pederasty which consisted of the enslaving of boys or youths for sexual purposes, and the use of these boys by adult males.”
Moving right along, there are, no doubt, many modern people who engage in lustful and abusive homosexual sex. As has been indicated in the above scriptures, someone who began with a clear heterosexual orientation, but rejected God and began experimenting with gay or lesbian sex simply as a way of experiencing a new set of pleasures, then those Biblical passages would apply to those people (News reports and anecdotal stories show that most men who molest/rape boys fall into this category-yes they are heterosexuals not homosexuals). But this is not the experience of the vast majority of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.
Consider Tyler's story:
From the time Tyler was a very young
man his main desire was to do God's will. He was raised by missionary
parents, and at the age of five he acknowledged his need for God and prayed
for Jesus to come into his heart. He didn't understand exactly what that
meant, but he always tried to live a life that glorified God. In high
school, his friends thought of him as different because his faith in God and
in the teachings of his church did not allow him to drink and dance. When a
girl asked him to the high school prom, he went, but he made sure they
started the date by praying together. Unlike the people condemned in Romans
1:18-32, Tyler acknowledged, glorified, and worshipped God. For him,
spiritual pursuits were much more important than earthly pleasures.
However, by the time Tyler decided to go to a Christian college, he was already having feelings of attraction toward men and knew he was not attracted to women. He believed at the time that these feelings were wrong, so he suppressed his natural attractions and told himself he must be asexual or celibate. And, when he finally acknowledged his attraction to men during his fourth year of college, it was not during a search for unbounded sexual pleasure or in the context of pagan worship rituals. It was during a night of intense prayer when he was questioning whether he should try to pursue a relationship with a female friend which might be very unfair to her. During that time of prayer, Tyler was strongly impressed that he needed, instead, to deal with his innate attraction to men.
For Tyler, a Christian child of missionaries, his first reaction was to seek spiritual advice. He immediately went to a trusted professor and soon began therapy with one of the counselors at his Christian school. For the next several years, he continued to remain celibate as he wrestled with Scripture and with his church's teachings, trying to find out how he should live as a gay man. He tried always to live a life free of covetousness, malice, envy, strife, and pride. And, even when Tyler came to the conclusion that Scripture affirmed him as an innately gay individual, his respect for the teaching of his parents and his love of God convinced him to remain a virgin until meeting his spouse and partner for life, Robert. (9)
Thousands of other gay people could tell similar stories of struggling with their same-sex attractions while diligently serving God. These are not idolaters, people who hated God and pursued their own desire for new and greater sexual thrills. These are lovers of God who, nevertheless, have been attracted to people of the same sex from early in life. They are innate or natural homosexuals.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(1) Holben, L. R. What Christians Think about Homosexuality - Six Representative Viewpoints, North Richland Hills, Texas, BIBAL Press, 1999, pages 167 -168.
(2) Ibid., pages 168-169.
(3) Gomes, Peter J., “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart”, San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998, page 158.
Footnotes from page 55 and 56, Patterson, Linda J., "Hate Thy Neighbor-How the Bible is Misused to Condemn Homosexuality", Pennsylvania, Infinity Publishing.com, 2009
(3a) I Corinthians 7:1 (Patterson's Footnote 121)
(3b) Victor Paul Furnish,
The Moral Teaching of Paul: Selected Issues, Second Edition, Revised
(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1985), 33. (Patterson's Footnote 122)
(3c) I Corinthians 7:3-7 (Patterson's Footnote 123)
(3d) I Corinthians 7:8-9, I Corinthians 7:26-38 Again, Paul's views appear to have been based in large part upon his belief that Jesus would return imminently to raise his followers to heaven and judge nonbelievers. In this regard, Paul claims that "the appointed time has grown short," and that "the present form of this world is passing away." (See Patterson's Footnote 124)
(3e) I Corinthians 7:29, 31. (Patterson's Footnote 125)
(3f) According to most Jews
in Paul's day, [a]ny union formed in the knowledge that no procreation could
result. . . . . constitutes sexual passion for its own sake, little more
than unbridled lust void of societal responsibility. No longer
contributing to populating the earth, such passion demonstrates disregard
for the preservation of the human race. Moreover, passion of this
sort, exercised beyond nature's and society's control, could only have
destructive effects. Concern for the sanctity of male 'seed' was also
at issue. Philo, and others, reasoned that since sexual stimulation of
the male results in ejaculated semen, and since too this seed must have been
given by God for a purpose, sexual stimulation must have as its divine
purpose the release of seeds for procreation. Moreover, since
only fertile women could provide 'the deep-soiled and fruitful fields'
capable of sustaining the growth of the seed, all unions that did not have
procreation in view were forbidden. (Gagnon,
The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 164.) Unlike other Jews of
his day, Paul shows little interest in procreation in sexual coupling.
This may have been due to his belief that the coming of the kingdom of God
was imminent, and that populating the earth was no longer important. . . . .
. . . see page 141 and 142 for more details of this long footnote
(Patterson's Footnote 126 - Patterson, Linda J., "Hate
Thy Neighbor-How the Bible is Misused to Condemn Homosexuality",
Pennsylvania, Infinity Publishing.com, 2009)
(3g) In addition to the "degrading passions," mentioned by Paul in Romans 1:26, and the negative view of passion he expresses in I Corinthians 7, Paul also condemns passion in the following passages: Galatians 5:24, I Thessalonians 4:3-5 and Romans 13:11-14 (Patterson's Footnote 127)
(3h) Romans 7:18 (Patterson's Footnote 128)
(4) Horner, Tom, "Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times", Philadelphia, The Westminister Press, 1978, page 106.
(5) Gomes, Peter J., “The
Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart”, San Francisco,
HarperSanFrancisco, 1998, pages 161-162.
(6) Holben, L. R. What Christians Think about Homosexuality - Six Representative Viewpoints, North Richland Hills, Texas, BIBAL Press, 1999, pages 169 -170.
(7) McNeill, John J., "The Church and the Homosexual", Boston, Beacon Press, 1976, 1985, 1988,1993, pages 63-65.
(8) Ibid., page 213.
(9) Miner Jeff, John Tyler Connoley, “The Children are Free”, Indianapolis, Indiana, Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, 2002. Based on the story on pages 14, 15, and 16.
GOD MADE ME THIS WAY by Grant Bentley
Church is so confusing for Zack. His new pastor preaches nothing but hate and condemnation of gays and lesbians, but no matter how carefully he reads his Bible, he can’t find where it says God hates him. Will things change when Zach's boyfriend Billy suggests that they all go to his church instead? Click Here or on the icon to read the story.
Click for Page 9 - Homosexuals are like anybody else
below to go to:
The Anti-Gay Religious Right's Really Cruel and Idiotic Argument
Their Message to a Gay Person is: Be alone. Live alone. Die alone.
Click for Homosexuality is neither a Choice nor a Sin - Table of contents
Click for Gary Lynn's Home Page