Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Bible Says Homosexual Practice is Sinful

The biblical argument has two parts. First, there are the clear condemnations of homosexual practice. Second is the clear message that heterosexual marriage is the only proper place for sex. Nothing in the Bible suggests acceptance of homosexual practice as well. It is important to say at the outset that the Bible talks about homosexual practice, not homosexual orientation or "homosexuality," a concept only invented in modern times.

Genesis 19 and Judges 19 – Sodom and Gomorrah and the parallel story about the rape of the Levite – clearly show homosexual rape of guests as a horrible thing. The rape, and the gross mistreatment of guests, are reason enough to condemn the bad people in these stories. But I also think that the fact that a homosexual rape was the outrage that the bad people committed is in the story to show that they were as bad as they could possibly be. This is evidence of the Bible's condemnation of homosexual acts, though not proof-positive that it is condemned in all cases.

Leviticus 18:22 in the King James Version states: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." Leviticus 20:13 is similar. Some say this is only meant to condemn pagan temple prostitution. A similar reading applies to Deuteronomy 23:17, 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12 & 22:46 and 2 Kings 23:7. I read these as I do the Sodom and Gomorrah story: they are not definitive law for Christians against homosexual sex; on the other hand, they say to me that the Bible writers and readers took it for granted that homosexual practice was disgusting, especially for men.

Some of the purity rules of the Old Testament were set aside in the New. The condemnation of homosexual practice, on the other hand, was renewed in the New Testament. 1Corithians 6:9-10 says that the makokoi and the arsenokoitai are unrighteous. The King James version translates these terms as "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind." The latter sentiment is repeated in 1 Timothy 1. I don't know what exactly was meant by these terms, and I don't think anyone else can offer a definitive interpretation. The words are too rare, and the possible range of meanings is too wide. Clearly, though, both are bad, and they have something to do with gay acts.

The major text on this subject in the whole Christian Bible is Romans 1:26-27:
"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet."

I agree with Richard Mouw, the president of Fuller Theological Seminary and a Presbyterian minister, that this is the text that can't really be interpreted away.

The positive side of the Bible's message about sex is that sex within marriage is good, especially for making, with God's help, the great gift of children. This is the vision that is reiterated from Adam and Eve onward.

Some things that the Bible condemns in some places, it seems to allow in others. The passages about women keeping silent in churches had to be weighed against those talking about women prophesying and praying in order to get the total biblical picture. This was why the Presbyterian Church, and many other Protestant denominations, came to accept women's ordination after a long interpretive argument. The same goes for divorce, which I think is the interpretive problem that most resembles the homosexual question. Divorce is condemned all the time, but tolerated under certain conditions. I do not see any parallel texts in the Bible even tolerating homosexual practice.

I therefore follow the teaching of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and nearly every other Christian body on earth: homosexual practice is a sin.

BUT, and this is a very important point, we all commit sins. We are all habitual sinners. Being sinners does not prevent us from being officers of the church, or good citizens, and it is certainly no obstacle to being a church member. That is a point for another blog post.

35 comments:

Mark said...

One note that I would add is that times change. While you may be right in that homosexuality was generally acknowledged by many in Biblical times as A Bad Thing, it is equally true that slavery was acknowledges as A Good Thing (or at least a Tolerable Thing).

The Romans passage is hard to ignore, and I struggle with that. It seems to me that Paul condemned a lot of things that we now accept as perfectly fine - women's ordination included.

Alan said...

Human beings are remarkable pattern makers. We see those patterns we want to see (or are conditioned to see) all the time, whether they actually exist or not, even when those patterns don't exist. For example, one of the ultimate tests for interpreting scripture is: How does scripture itself interpret a particular verse? Everywhere in the Bible where the sin of Sodom is mentioned, it is explained as a lack of hospitality. Jesus himself interprets the story this way and makes no mention of homosexuality at all. And yet your pattern making mind wants to see some condemnation of homosexuality where none exists, not even according to Christ. Do you really believe that ALL the men of Sodom, both the young men and old men were homosexual? Because if you read the story carefully, that is precisely the reading that is necessitated by your particular interpretation.

And yet, even though those stories are not about homosexuality, even though ritual purity laws are abrogated for Christians, even though you don't have a very good idea of what was meant by malokoi and arsenokoitai, you still seek to find a pattern that doesn't exist. For the record, malakos is translated in the NT and contemporaneous Greek texts as cowardly, weak willed, liquid, delicate, gentle, debauched, licentious, loose, unrestrained or wanton. Apparently you believe that only gay people can be debauched, licentious, loose, unrestrained or wanton? In contemporaneous Greek texts, it is used to refer to heterosexual persons and it is never used, (except as you believe) to refer specifically to gay people or homosexual acts. Until quite recently, it was thought that those uses of this word in the Bible referred to masturbation.

Arsenokoitai is much more rare, but it appears to be used in other texts to refer to male prostitutes.

As for the Romans verse, it is unclear to me how anyone could miss the most obvious point: Paul is clearly condemning homosexual acts committed by heterosexual people.

So, does the Bible condemn wantonness, rape, prostitution, ignoring one's created nature? Sure...for both heterosexuals AND homosexuals. Does the Bible condemn loving, committed relationships? No...not for heterosexuals OR homosexuals. God does not judge by two standards. You want to find a pattern that will allow you to pick one set of rules for heterosexuals and a different set for homosexuals, which is contrary, not only to your few select verses, but to the entirety of Scripture.

Alex said...

Another important thing for me -- the heterosexual marriages we have now do not look like the heterosexual marriages from Bibical times. Scripture does not anticipate western, egalitarian marriages. I think Mark and Alan point out a number of the ways Scripture does not uphold decisions that the community of believers has discerned throughout the centuries. The question boils down to this -- do we see Scripture as a rule book, detailing and prescribing how we are to conduct our day-to-day business, or do we see Scripture as a image of how the people of God in Bibical times viewed and understood their relationship with God?

halifax said...

I find that Alan's comment ignores one of the most, if not the most, significant of Gruntled's claims. Gruntled states clearly that 'it is important to say at the outset that the Bible talks about homosexual practice, not homosexual orientation or "homosexuality," a concept only invented in modern times.'

There is no Biblical consideration of 'loving, committed relationships' between 'homosexuals' because homosexuality as it is currently understood did not exist during the period in which the Bible was composed. Homosexual acts were quite clearly understood as 'unnatural' by the writers of the texts, as Gruntled (among thousands of others) has shown. However, homosexuality, conceived as some sort of disposition to prefer not merely homosexual sex acts but also to prefer some homosexual simulacrum of the marriage bond, was not part of the moral worldview of either the ancient Hebrews or the new testament Jews (nor, contrary to current fashionable nonsense, was it a part of the Greek or Roman worldview either.) Thus, the fact that there are no blanket condemnations of homosexuals but merely of the act itself is no more surprising than that there is no Biblical consideration of the proper use of automobiles or of the necessity for limitations on the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Times certainly change, as the Mark and Alex suggest, and there might be many reasons to accept certain activities today which were unacceptable in the past. However, these are moral questions unrelated to the historical reading of the Biblical texts and it is a risible category confusion to say otherwise.

Brett said...

Hi Gruntled. You've got the ball rolling now, and we thank you for it.

I don't have anything to add to what has already been said, but I do think you need to respond in some way to the very reasonable and faithful questions raised here by your commenters. I look forward to your always thoughtful rejoinder to them. Your response is especially important if the coming parts of your discussion are rooted in this first part.

Alan said...

"Gruntled states clearly that 'it is important to say at the outset that the Bible talks about homosexual practice, not homosexual orientation or "homosexuality," a concept only invented in modern times.'"

Perhaps I could have been clearer Halifax, but I didn't ignore that point at all. I think I was pretty clear in discussing what the Bible has to say about homosexual *acts.* I agree with Gruntled that it has nothing whatsoever to say about sexual orientation, either heterosexual OR homosexual. Though I suppose the Romans verse could be taken as a veiled reference to those with a heterosexual *orientation* who participate in homosexual *acts* -- exactly what kind of acts (ie. monogamous committed relationships vs. temple prostitution?) are not described and that particular point is also ignored by Gruntled.

clay allard said...

I'm sorry, alan-- but the Bible does indeed have something to say about heterosexual orientation-- the Bible says it was created by God and it is good (Genesis 2:24-25)
One of the most basic disagreements that the reformers had with the Roman Catholic church was the equation of human sexuality expressed between a man and a woman in marriage with sin. It is good, created by God, experienced by human beings "naked, and unashamed." The act for which most of the reformers were excommunicated was one of their first acts, done on Biblical principles: they got married.
Jesus reaffirms the truth (Matthew 19:4-6)of this virtue, and adds that what God has joined, no one should separate. Marriage between a man and a woman is testified to in the Bible as an unqualified, God-made good thing.
Where is the scripture that affirms homosexual practice IN ANY RELATIONSHIP OR FORM as an unqualified, God-made good thing?

John Shuck said...

Even if the Bible was totally clear that homosexual practice was a sin (and I don't say the Bible is clear on that) that would have nothing to do with the way we should deal with this issue or with people today.

We don't need the Bible to dictate our ethics. The Bible was written a long time ago. It is time to move ahead.

Gruntled said...

I agree with Halifax, and disagree with Alan, that the Romans passage is not condemning homosexual acts performed by people who are "naturally" homosexual. I don't see how the concept of a naturally homosexual person fits in the biblical worldview. And I have to disagree that I am just making up a pattern that is not there in thinking that there is a biblical worldview. Clay Allard is right - there is a consistent vision in the whole Bible that the only proper place for sexual acts is within marriage because the main good of sex is children. I say the main good of sex as an institution, not the only good and not the only good of each and every sexual act.

As to John Shuck's comment, he is certainly welcome to believe what he wishes in a free country, but his view is not really relevant for Christians in the church, which is my starting point.

Gruntled said...

I just read John Shuck's profile, and discovered that he is a Presbyterian minister. Why someone who believes that "We don't need the Bible to dictate our ethics. The Bible was written a long time ago. It is time to move ahead." would want to remain a minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I do not know. Perhaps you could explain, Rev. Shuck, how you reconcile your view of the Bible with the church's view?

littlechurch said...

I have lurked around this blog for a while now and generally find Gruntled's comments interesting, even if I do not always agree with them. However, I do agree with his assessment here.
To me there is a general stream of thought in the Bible on homosexual activity that it is sin. The comment that there is no place in the Bible where it is okay is telling.
The problem is the tendency to interpret the Bible according to modern wants and desires. Doing that means that our society, and not the transendent God, is the authority in our lives. Any way you approach this philosophically leaves you with a relativism that cannot condemn homosexual practice, slavery, or rape. What society states is correct becomes correct.
That is why I choose to keep to a biblical perspective on issues where there is no real contrasting scriptual perspective. We can argue about some issues where it is not clear like divorce, women leadership etc. But unless someone can show me somewhere in the scriptures where homosexual practice is allowed then I have to say that it is sinful as well.

Samoabob said...

Alan said: "Everywhere in the Bible where the sin of Sodom is mentioned, it is explained as a lack of hospitality."

It's true that the Bible doesn't say much about what Sodom's sin was, but the above statement is too broad and, well, wrong.

I have found only one place - Ezekiel 16:49 - that says the sin was a lack of hospitality. However, v. 50 strongly suggests that there was more to it than that.

I have also found one place - Jude 1:7 - that clearly states that Sodom's sin was sexual immorality (of some unnamed type).

I'm not meaning to pick nits here, but as a self-appointed deflater of sweeping generalizations I had to chime in.

John Shuck said...

Dear Professor Weston,

The short answer is a statement from Dr. Roy Hoover, formerly of Whitman College and a clergyperson. He said this of clergy:

"We are to be apostles of veracity, not defenders of the faith."

As a professor of Sociology, with all you know from the hard sciences, the human sciences, humanities, and the lives and witness of sexual minorities themselves, would you make your judgments about these people and how they should be treated in church and society based on ancient literature?

Alan said...

Samoabob,

In fact, I'm correct. Read Matthew 10:11-15, or Matthew 11:20-24, where Jesus himself discusses Sodom and tell me where you find anything about homosexuality. In both cases, Jesus condemns Sodom for refusing God and ignoring His miracles and practicing inhospitality. There's nothing about homosexuality anywhere in there. In fact, my understanding is that, historically, the Church did not interpret the Sodom story as having anything to do with homosexuality until several centuries after Christ. It is not the historical reading of that story. That interpretation was added later.

As for the Genesis 2:24-25 reference, I'd love to see someone explain to me why that is proscriptive and not descriptive. There are no rules, laws, or commandments given in that entire chapter, it is entirely descriptive. In the orthodox Reformed interpretation of Scripture (which I agree is absolutely our guide for our ethics today!) it is important to read *context* rather than just look for whatever pattern fits our preconceived notions.

As for whether or not "there is no place in the Bible where it is okay," I don't find arguments from silence to be persuasive. The Bible does not discuss lots of things. Is invitro fertilization ethical? There is no place in the Bible that says that it is. Arguments from silence are simply a logical fallacy that, yet again, allow people to see what they want, when they want.

Stuart Gordon said...

"As for the Romans verse, it is unclear to me how anyone could miss the most obvious point: Paul is clearly condemning homosexual acts committed by heterosexual people."

This passage is the crux of the issue for many of us. I believe that Alan has the obligation to make more of a case than "it's obvious." If it were so obvious, then a lot more people in a lot more places and times would have seen what he sees.

So please, make the case. Scroggs, Boswell, etc. try to make this case. I believe that if they had made it convincingly, we wouldn't be where we are now.

I might add that there is enough nuance and shadow in scripture to keep all of us humble about ourselves and toward one another. I don't think that we'll finish this one like a high school forensics contest.

Tyler Ward said...

The comment by Mr. Shuck is very troubling. Not only because of the philosophical relativism it implies, but also because of his ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. This type of comment leads me to question his acceptance of some of the most fundamental beliefs of Christianity, some of which would not be permitted of a PCUSA minister if the presbytery properly exercised its discipline.

Alan said...

Stuart,

Nuance would, I think, be indeed be nice. Unfortunately it's an extravagance we're unlikely to see in the comments section of a blog. ;) I'm not sure this is the place to write a treatise on Paul's use of the Greek word "phusei." Suffice it to say that elsewhere (eg. Gal 2:15 -- "We who are Jews by *nature*") it has the meaning of "by birth." In the same way, we see in Romans 11:24 that he uses "phusei" to refer to natural branches (the Jews) and "para phusei" as unnatural branches (the Gentiles) who, if faithful, will be grafted by His grace. So, not everything that is "para phusei" is necessarily evil and not everything that is "phusei" is necessarily good. He seems to use the word to describe a state of birth, rather than as an ethical state or good or evil.

But, getting hung up on one word is hardly the entire problem. Just who is the verse actually talking about? Placed in context, it seems to me that it's talking about a group of idolatrous Gentiles, who, "because of this" (ie. their idolatry) were handed over to dishonorable passions. It isn't clear to me that it's reasonable then to extrapolate the verse to cover all gay people for 2 reasons. 1) There are lots of ways that people (straight or gay) can exhibit "dishonorable passions" which do not have to include all forms of sexual expression (eg prostitution vs. marriage) and 2) if one continues reading, you see that Paul is talking about some other group of people (ie the idolatrous Gentiles) in Chapter 1, and talking TO the recipients of the letter in Chapter 2.

In order then to interpret this verse as Gruntled does, you first have to ignore the evidence he himself posits in his last post: that a small minority of people are born homosexual. Then you have to ignore usual meaning of the word "phusei" and translate "nature" in such a way that you apply an ethical condition to what is "natural" vs. what is "unnatural". (Coloring your hair may be unnatural, but it isn't evil.) Then, you have to assume that this verse applies to all homosexuals and all homosexual activity. Lots of assumptions...

Stuart Gordon said...

Alan:

That's a helpful answer. I disagree as to whom Paul is referring. I think it more likely that he is referring to all humankind. Paul's argument in chapters 1-3 is to declare all humankind hopelessly lost in sin, and all humankind hopefully claimed by a righteous God. I consider that to be not an assumption, but a fair reading of the text.

This is how we can say that the main subject of the passage isn't homosexuality, yet that homosexual practice is illustrative of the problem Paul describes. Paul's view of human nature is that we're fallen, corrupted, and idolatrous. Every sin listed or mentioned is symptomatic of that utter fallenness. This is how he can, in chapter 2, turn the tables on anyone who would condemn homosexuals.

Indeed, Romans 1-3 does apply to all of us. It does not pick out homosexuals for special derision. The fact of its inclusion remains for me the unavoidable dilemma. Phusis, granted, is a puzzle. It sometimes carries the implications you mentioned, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, it's just one of those words Paul uses in conversation that isn't freighted theologically.

I guess we all can see the implications of exegesis, and the necessity of conversation about it. We need to hear opposing views that challenge our presuppositons. We need to trust God to speak through one another.

John Shuck said...

Tyler Ward rather than argue the question focuses on power and implied threat. This is a demonstration of why the church could be irrelevant outside of itself in a short period of time.


I think I am addressing a fundamental issue: what is the nature of our relationship to an ancient text to inform current ethical issues?

Alan said...

"This is how we can say that the main subject of the passage isn't homosexuality, yet that homosexual practice is illustrative of the problem Paul describes."

Sorry, but it's your turn to provide some nuance. You toss this assertion off without evidence. :) I think one can easily see that Paul is making a clear contrast between the people in Romans 1 and Romans 2. However, I acknowledge that it isn't much of a leap to see him talking about all of us in both chapters. However, how one can get from that assumption, to singling out all homosexuals and all homosexual practice in verses 26-27 is a mystery to me.

Thus, it seems to me that, as I have provided some nuance to my original answer Stuart, a bit more information would be useful as to why you suppose 26-27 refers to all homosexuals. After all, these men Paul refers to receive their due "antimisthian" meaning payment or reward, so why are you so sure they're not prostitutes? Add to that the fact that he's writing about idol worship. I'm no expert, but didn't temple prostitution and idol worship go hand-in-hand in some of the pagan religions of the time?

Also, why do you suppose "unnatural lusts" must refer to all homosexual acts? There are, obviously, plenty of "unnatural lusts" for heterosexuals and yet those lusts do not make all heterosexual activities evil. In fact there are literally hundreds and hundreds of admonitions against various heterosexual sexual acts in the Bible. I doubt that you see those as blanket condemnations against every form of heterosexual sexual behavior. Yet one or two confusing verses that may or may not even be talking about homosexuals condemns all homosexual practice. Convenient. ;)

I find it a strange argument that some suggest that this verse is their real stumbling block when Paul is so terribly non-specific. According to Gruntled, Paul uses words like "malokoi" and "arsenokoitai" to refer to homosexuals, and yet he did not use those specific words here. Obviously he knew what they meant, since he used them elsewhere. Seems like those verses would be a bigger problem for people. But then, in those cases, people argue that he clearly meant homosexuals because he used such specific terminology (even though the translation is problematic.) Then they turn around and say that Romans 1:26-27 clearly refers to homosexuals even though he used no such terminology. It's like playing Scriptural whack-a-mole. ;)

Tyler Ward said...

Mr. Shuck writes, "I think I am addressing a fundamental issue: what is the nature of our relationship to an ancient text to inform current ethical issues?" I agree that you are addressing a fundamental issue, but the implication of your first post seems in conflict with key beliefs of the PCUSA, but more importantly the Church universal.

Secondly, I only wished to draw attention to the philosophical implications of your statement that the Bible was written along time ago and therefore we should move on, in what I would guess you mean continual progress.

Thirdly, I don't make threats. If were to engage you in dialogue enough to believe that you were in violation of your ordination vows, I would seek to speak with you privately with another elder, and then if the matter wasn't resolved, then I would seek remedial action by the presbytery. However, for your peace of mind, I simply don't have time to engage in that process; rather I was stating what I believed were the lax examination of a presbytery according to your statement.

Gruntled said...

I thank you all for the learned Bible commentary.

What consequences my reading of the whole vision of Scripture has for the church and society I will fill out in later posts.

I did want to clarify an issue the John Shuck raises. Officers of the Presbyterian Church (USA), whether ministers like Rev. Shuck or elders like me, are bound by conscience, much more than by "force" (that is, discipline) to follow the order of the church. As the Book of Order says, "in becoming a candidate or officer of the Presbyterian Church (USA) one chooses to exercise freedom of conscience within certain bounds. His or her conscience is captive to the Word of God as interpreted in the standards of the church so long as he or she continues to seek or hold office in that body" (G 6.0108b). As officers, both Rev. Shuck and I took this ordination vow: "Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God's Word to you?" (G 14.0207b).

I do not see how, in good conscience, one can make that vow, while holding that "We don't need the Bible to dictate our ethics. The Bible was written a long time ago. It is time to move ahead."

John Shuck said...

I stand by both my statement and my ordination vows. I see nothing wrong with that statement, in fact, everything right, instead.

The Bible was written a long time ago. It should not dictate our science. It should not dictate our understanding of history. It should not dictate our understanding of human sexuality. In dealing with complex ethical questions you don't go to the Bible and look it up. We don't do that for origins of Earth and the Universe (we have one would hope moved beyond Genesis as a science book) so why would we do that for human sexuality?

The ordination vow you quoted has nothing to do with that.

So I answered your question, professor. How about answering the one I asked earlier?

Gruntled said...

See the three posts following.

Stuart Gordon said...

Alan:

I'll probably reply to your post tomorrow. Thanks for continuing the exegetical discussion.

Grace and peace.

Chairm said...

I think I am addressing a fundamental issue: what is the nature of our relationship to an ancient text to inform current ethical issues?

What is your relationship with Scripture? Why?

Do you claim that your relationship is the one all of us ought to adopt as well? Why?

Apparently an ancient text does not inform your consideration of ethical issues. Nor of moral issues (as in what is sinful and how should we respond to sinful acts). So I suppose you'd place the Bible on the same shelf as other ancient texts.

By their being ancient, they do not inform, correct? They are out-of-date and have nothing to offer to consideration of moral and ethical issues today.

I'm suggesting that is your view, but please clarify and elaborate in your own words and terms.

Christian said...

We know that marriage is the union of man and woman. Jesus made that abundantly clear, and the old testament had already made it clear.

We also know from scripture that sex other than within the bounds of marriage (as defined above) is sinful.

But I beg you brethen not to wrest an anti-homosexual message from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah! You paint us as medeivals with that argument. I'm glad you recognize that *rape* is the issue. I'm not persuaded that the homosexual nature of the rape is what stands out in that story. We're talking about attempted gang rape.

Flip forward to the book of judges, and you see a story that's strikingly similar in many respects, except that the Levite's concubine does get raped by those that wanted to rape the Levite stranger. Over and over again until dawn, and they leave her dead. This act by the wicked men of Gibea triggers the destruction of nearly their whole tribe (Benjamin) -- leaving only a handful of survivors.

I do not believe that you could read the story of the Levite's concubine and tell me that what the Sodomites tried to do to their guests was vastly worse than what the savages of Gibea did to that poor woman. I think that it's an error, and discredits us, to compare the sin of sadistic gang rape, with consensual homosexuality. Homosexuals are like the rest of us -- sinners who need to repent. They are not death-deserving monsters like the gang-rapists of Sodom.

Scripture never connected the sin of Sodom to consensual homosexuality, and we should not do so. We have to be careful in how we speak of these things, particularly when there are enemies out there that would profit from making it look like Christians want gays dead. Obviously that's not what you meant, but our enemies could interpret it that way. Let's stick to what we know that the scripture tells us: marriage is between man and woman, and any sex outside marriage is sin.

José Solano said...


There were many sinful activities in Sodom and Gomorrah. It was a den of iniquity. A barrage of biblical revisionist thinking has flooded the market to claim that sodomy was not a condemned sin of Sodom. They claim the condemned sin was rape and/or lack of hospitality, but careful biblical exegesis thoroughly refutes such an interpretation and demonstrates that Sodomy was indeed one of many condemned Sodomite sins.

We might say that the Sodomites wanting to have sex with the angels were actually bisexuals because after wanting "to know" (yada) the male angels, Lot thinks he might appease them with his daughters.

What the text means by "yada" in the context and other similar contexts is what needs to be objectively examined. The ancient Hebrews knew the contexts and the meaning of the word perfectly well.

This is much too involved to get into here in any detail but let me at least mention that the passage in question, Gen. 19:5 is variously translated as: "Bring them out to us, so that we may know them" (NRSV) or "have sex with them" (NET , NLT and NIV), "have relations with them" (NASB), "have sport with them" (MSG), "take our pleasure with them" (BBE), "that we may know them carnally, (NKJV).

(See http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Gen&chapter=19&verse=5)

Be assured that there are scholars at work on these translations. The revisionist contention that they were merely "checking their passports," so to speak, is never found in any context of the Hebrew word "yada."

Indeed, in v. 8 of the same Chapter, the same word "yada" is used by Lot when he speaks of his two daughters having never "known" (yada) a man." Hmm. They've never asked for any man's passport?

I can leave you with some references that thoroughly deconstruct the revisionist contentions about Sodom and Sodomy and any biblical ignorance of contemporary homosexuality.

Prof. James B. De Young's Homosexuality, Contemporary claims examined in light of the Bible and other ancient literature and law.

From the Presbyterian side we have Prof. Robert A. J. Gagnon's, The Bible and Homosexual Practice. (I have not read this book but have read articles by Gagnon, including his response to criticism of his book from William Countryman and suspect he understands the biblical perspective on homosexuality very well. See http://www.robgagnon.net/RevCountryman.htm

Later perhaps I'll have time to address Paul's clear condemnation of homosexual practices.

But what does it matter to those who don't accept Paul's teaching or biblical authority on moral issues? They'll do what they've always done, make up their own religion.

Christian said...

José, I do not dispute that the men of Sodom wanted to "sodomize" their guests. Nor do I dispute that this was serious sin. I'm saying that when to speak of this as if the male-male aspect outweighs the GANG-RAPE aspect of that act, is not true to the Bible story. Like I said, the story of the Levite's concubine in the Book of Judges is no less horrifying.

To focus on the "homosexual" nature of a gang rape as the essential sin, trivializes an atrocity.

Adultery is a sin, too, and we say that fornication is a lesser sin than adultery, right? If a group of single men gang rape a single woman, do we say that this is significantly "less sinful" than if a gang of married men rape a married woman?

If a preacher spoke of a terrible sadistic gang rape that had just happened in the neighborhood, and focused on the fact that the victim was married as the most horrific part, and referred to the rapists as "adulterers" rather than rapists, wouldn't you be embarrassed to be in his congregation?

José Solano said...

Hi Christian,

If you're talking about degrees of sin I agree with you completely. The sin of a homosexual relationship pales in comparison with the unspeakable horror told in Judges 19.

Nevertheless, I needed to emphasize that sodomy was indeed an abominable sin in Sodom because contemporary revisionists are trying to deny this. Sodom was so furiously destroyed because, as I mentioned, it was a den of iniquity.

As I reread Judges 19 I can't help but see in verses 22-24 an amazing similarity with the Sodom story. I'll be looking into this some more.

Thank you for the clarification.

Christian said...

Nevertheless, I needed to emphasize that sodomy was indeed an abominable sin in Sodom because contemporary revisionists are trying to deny this. Sodom was so furiously destroyed because, as I mentioned, it was a den of iniquity.

That makes a lot more sense. what I was uncomfortable with was associating Sodom with "homosexuality" which is a modern word that takes in the concept of being sexual attraction between persons of the same sex. Rape, gang rape particularly, seems more like exercise of power. In Judges 17, the men of Gibea didn't care if they raped the Levite or his concubine -- either victim would satisfy their lust for sadism and power, because to rape the Levite's concubine in front of him still made that levite (who in that culture held authority over them into a helpless coward.) The mob in Sodom had no interest in Lot's daughters, because it was the strangers that they wanted to humilliate, not a local.

Wolf packs do things like this too, with the head of a pack mounting other males that join. It's a disgusting animalistic exercise of power, a ritual humilliation by which the sadist lifts himself above his fellow-beings. Rape and murder are descent into the worst sort of animalism.

Anonymous said...

Hello all. What an interesting discussion. Here is something our Sunday School class has wondered. The Bible contains maybe 10 references, many vague, to homosexuality. It contains more explicit references to adultry. The definition of adultery, given by Christ (Matthew 5:28) is very strict. Modern surveys show physical adultery is far more prevalent than homosexuality. So why do homosexuals draw such widespread scrutiny and condemnation while adulterers are rarely mentioned? We haven't generated an answer, but I think the answer is in Matthew 7:3-5.

Christian said...

Anonimous, you have a point, to a certain extent, about homosexuality and adultery. But your question remains easy and obvious to answer:

To my knowledge, no pastors or other major religious teachers are preaching that adultery is not a sin. If they did, I assure you that there would be an uproar.

The only time I've ever heard of such a teaching was a few hundred years ago when some company misprinted the King James Bible and left out the word "not" from one of the Ten Commandments.

"Thou Shalt Commit Adultery" was probably a misprint, but that was the end of the company. The poor saps got shut down. Serious uproar.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say that people defended adultery, because no one does, I said adultery is rarely condemned, especially relative to the condemnation of homosexuality.

Gruntled said...

This argument can easy become circular. There are fewer condemnations of adultery because there are fewer (almost zero) defenses of it. There are more condemnations of homosexual practice because there are more defenses of it.