Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Homosexuality: part 3

Well, final installment of this thread. I'm simply taking a few Biblical exerpts that are typically quoted for uses opposing homosexuality and asking that we all take a second look at what they really mean.

1st Corinthians 6:9
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders..."

The word translated "homosexual" here is interesting. Why? Because we don't know what it really means. It is translated different ways different places, but is used so sparsely in ancient writings, that we really can't pin down its exact meaning. By its context, its obviously referring to some type of forbidden sexual behavior, but we can't nail it as being homosexual simply because we think it should be. We just don't know.

Romans 1:26-27
"...God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

First of all, Paul is writing, as he says in the beginning of the book, to the Romans. The Christians in Rome. The people reading this would be immersed in Greek culture where homosexuality was widely practiced and widely accepted. He was writing from Corinth. A city whose main god was Aphrodite--a sexual deity with both male and female reproductive parts. See, the word passion or lust (depending on translation) used here doesn't mean what we would think it would mean. It connects back to the frenzied, trance-like state that worshippers of mystery cults (like that of Aphrodite) would work themselves into as part of their worship rituals. So these people were choosing to participate in a cult where they collectively moved into a feverish, wild trance and (to get to know their deity better) acted as members of the opposite sex to experience all that Aphrodite offered. A man would act as a woman and have sex with another man as part of the "sexual orgy worship ritual." Make sense?

The context makes a world of difference here. Instead of referring to people who struggle with homosexual orientations, it seems that here, Paul is referring to people who let themselves have unrestrained sexual practices as a new kind of kinky thrill. Sure, its still wrong. But if we take the time to find out why Paul might have been writing this (because of what he was seeing in local pagan temple practices) it may changed your mind on what he was actually saying was wrong (ie, perhaps he wasn't condeming all homosexuality with this paragraph).

1st Timothy 1:10-11
"The law is not made for righteous man, but... for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust."

If you know anything about ancient Greek culture, then you know that the young boy was considered the most erotic subject. Look at paintings and sculptures from this time or influenced by this time period. Its plain as day. The young male body was the epitome of sexuality.

It was a common practice in these times as well for a male teacher to take a young boy and personally tutor him. This child lived with, ate, and studied with his teacher. They were most always together. It was also common for the teacher to exploit his position: either by seducing, forcing, or coercing the boy into a sexual relationship. Hence, to stay "attractive" to their mentors as they aged and progressed into puberty, these boys tried to conceal their oncoming manhood--effeminate mannerisms and make-up are a couple of techniques. When they eventually became too old and unwanted, they were tossed aside for a new victim. Obviously, they were left damaged and permanently scarred.

This practice is called pederasty. And like I said, was a common Greek practice. The word used in this verse ("them that defile themselves with mankind") is a masculine word, ruling out females from being involved in this practice. Its just an idea, a good guess perhaps. But in context, it makes more sense than other interpretations.

So while I'm not saying I have to be right, I'm just saying I could be. I'm just pointing out that we should take the time to have a good understanding of what's going on when we read a text. Just because the translators of the NIV Bible proposed a phrase to mean something doesn't mean we have to take it at face value and move on without questioning. Nor am I here to take a verse by verse break down of Biblical texts dealing with homosexuality. I've been very clear how I feel about homosexual eroticism. I've been very clear on how I think God feels about it. But the Bible isn't ammunition. We shouldn't go looking for something to shoot at someone. Its in those times we find a keyword, quote a verse, and stand behind what we say it means. When in fact, we could be totally wrong. Homosexuality is a perfect example of something that "Christians" often do that with.

"Most of all, love eachother like your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything." 1st Peter 4:8

Jesus said that others would know us by our love. Instead of scouring the Bible topically to find "answers" to a dilemma, let's take a more holistic approach. Let's take the time to find out what it really means. Let's not allow a team of translastors to tell us how to think, believe, and feel. Let's see the good news. Let's live like we love God. Let's love others, too. Because at the end of the day, we're all still human.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Comments are free...

Anyone can comment.
Isn't that nice?
Two rules:
1-Don't leave anonymous comments. Attach your name. Be a man (or woman). You get the point.

2-Like Jim Rome says: "Have a good take. Don't suck." It better make sense and be pertinent to the discussion.

That's all for now.
New post coming as soon as I can get it finished.
High five!