Saturday, June 25, 2005

Just a few thoughts on gays and the bible.....He, he, he!

It seems that a lot the books I've been reading lately have a couple things in common. One of those is the the breaking down of scriptures to the base context of some of the root Greek and Latin words. So I've decided to give it a try myself.

When God said "Whosoever" what did He (or she) mean? Did it mean "except certain groups of people?" According to many so called "Christians" it does! Homophobes, and their ilk, (lesbiaphobes, transvestiphobes, biphobes, beastophobes and other phobes we'd rather not think about) would have you believe that all these genetically determined sexual preferences are not compatible with Christianity. Some even go as far as to say that the Bible prohibits such things. But the Bible nowhere mentions such things, and even if it did, it would not really prohibit such behavior. Lets look at a few of those passages where homosexuality is not only not mentioned, but affirmed!

Lets start with Sodom and that other place. As the story goes, two angels visited Lot in Sodom. Lot invites the angels to his home but they reply, "Nay; but we will abide in the street all night." In this context, this Hebrew phrase obviously referred to the angels intention to check out the night life in Sodom. Lot thinks this is a bad idea. Could it have been that the night life in the town was so boring that Lot was embarrassed to have such distinguished guests experience it? Let's explore this idea further.

Lot prevails upon his guests and they go to his home for the night. Shortly thereafter, they are disturbed by the town folk demanding that Lot bring his guests out so they might "know" them. The Hebrew word translated here can mean to have sex with someone, but it can also refer more intellectual pursuits. This meaning would fit better with the obvious lack of night life in this dead little burg. They probably wanted to bore their angelic visitors with discussions of philosophy or theology.

As if to drive home how boring the town was, Lot offers the crowd his two daughters to do with as they please. Though this seems cruel, Lot had no fear for his daughters. The prudish townsmen turn down his offer, but they don't simply take up their chess boards and go home. These louts are so socially maladroit that they try to invite themselves in. The angels, perhaps fearing an all night chess tournament or trivial pursuit game, smite them with blindness. As Lot flees the city, fire and brimstone are rained upon it, producing the only "hot" night in the city's history. Perhaps if Sodom and Gomorrah had one decent female impersonator between the two of them, they would have been spared.

Moving from narrative to law we find an oft quoted verse. Leviticus 18:22 says, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination." The word "abomination" gives us a hint to the meaning of the verse. Pagan idol worship is often referred to as an "abomination." The word then must infer some sort of pagan ritual. Anything called an "abomination" is wrong by virtue of it's connection to a pagan ritual of some sort. It is ritual homosexual prostitution in pagan temples which the verse condemns, not homosexuality in a committed relationship. All of chapter 18 deals exclusively with sexual sins, and since this verse is in the middle of this context it is likely that all of the sins mentioned in chapter 18 are of the same type, i.e. ritual sins associated with worship of a pagan god. Among these are ritual bestiality, ritual adultery with your neighbor, and ritual uncovering of your mother's nakedness.

In fact, Biblical scholarship owes a debt of gratitude to recent pro gay biblical scholarship which discovered this particular interpretive device while attempting to justify homosexual behavior from a biblical perspective. This is because it has opened up a host of things that we now know were done in pagan temples only because they were called an "abomination." Deuteronomy 22:5 says, "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God." This prohibits only ritual cross dressing. Non-ritual cross dressing is OK. In 24:4, ritual divorce, marriage to some one else, divorce again, then remarrying the original guy, is prohibited only if all of this is done in a pagan temple. Proverbs 15:26 prohibits wicked people from thinking while in a pagan temple and in 20:10 inaccurate scales are frowned upon only if they are used in a pagan temple. The list of ritual behaviors that were a part of pagan worship goes on and on, and most of them are only known to be a part of ritual pagan ceremonies because of their association with the word "abomination."

The question of whether Old Testament law is even binding for Christians also has to be asked. We no longer obey certain ritualistic laws, like don't eat pork or kindle a fire on Saturday and no alfredo sauce with your veal. We are no longer under the law, but under the gospel. The Old Testament doesn't condemn homosexuality anywhere, and passages like Leviticus 18:22 or 20:13 or Deuteronomy 23:17 or Genesis 19, all of which do not condemn homosexuality, may be ignored with impunity.

This, of course, brings us to Mathew 5:17-18 which seems to say, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

First of all, Matthew was a Jew, and it is commonly thought that his audience was Jewish. This brings the whole book under suspicion of being no more than Mosaic propaganda! But, lets dig a little deeper into the passage. The whole thing can change meaning depending on how you define fulfill." It means "complete" and as everyone knows, Christ completed God's work on the cross, rendering the Law unnecessary. Since it is unnecessary, it need not be obeyed. So that what is really meant by fulfill" is to do away with or destroy.

As if to reinforce this teaching, Jesus goes on to state the only parts of the Law that we must adhere to are the "jots" and titles." And I've never heard of a homosexual advocating the elimination of either of them.

We know that Jesus himself felt no animosity towards gay people. If he had, surely he would have said so, and yet he is completely silent on the subject. He also allowed treason, bestiality, gluttony, rape, child pornography, and smoking crack, because he didn't say not to do those things either.

This leaves only Jewish rabbinical homophobe Paul, as the only possible source of anti-gay teaching in the whole Bible. Even if we don't disqualify Paul as a homophobe, there is still room for variant interpretations of his seemingly anti-gay polemic.

In his first letter to the Corinthians in 6:9 he says, " Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind," etc. etc. While it is clear that heterosexual fornicators are condemmed, the meaning of the phrase, "abusers of themselves with mankind," is open to many variant interpretations. The Greek word translated here has two parts. Arrhen means man, and koite means to lie down with or have sex with. It seems to infer that men having sex with men is prohibited, but a closer look at the Greek reveals a different story.
Once upon a time, "arr" was a nautical term used almost exclusively by pirates, which drew attention to the words that followed; as in the greeting, "Arr matey." This was compounded with a term for female domesticated fowl, and might more accurately be translated "henway" which literally meant about three pounds.

Though "koite" is a word that is normally refers to a prone position and was commonly used as a euphemism for intercourse just as "sleeping with" is a modern euphemism for intercourse, in this case, a closer look at the word "euphemism" reveals that the verse referred to international economics. The root word, "phone" when used as a verb, means to communicate over a distance, via use of the noun form of the word. As everyone knows "eu" stands for "European Union." Though it is unclear what "koite" means when is used in conjunction with an attempt to get the whole European Union on the phone for a conference call about 3 pounds sterling, it clearly has nothing to do with ones sexual preference.

Furthermore, it illustrates Paul's basic mental instabilities caused by his blatant homophobia. It is no wonder that much of what Paul wrote has to be thrown out as cultural bias.

These are just a few of the variant interpretations that are available. The actual numbers are Legion. To believe that any Biblical passage condemns homosexual behavior is both arrogant and reckless in light of so many other interpretations that are perfectly reasonable, scholarly, and just as valid. The only real reason we are left with to say the Bible condemns homosexuality is the homophobia of our fellow Christians.

So there you have it. Beleive what you will, but do we really need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and hours and hours of labor, working to ban something that isn't even spelled out completely as a sin (See Love won out) or should we put those efforts behind ending poverty in our world?
You can decided.

2 Whatcha talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Blogger Allen Snook whispered...

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9:01 PM  
Blogger Allen Snook whispered...

(oops - a few typos - lets try again:)

We now pause for a reading from the book of Dalmations, chapter 3, verses 99 through 112.

"Yeah and verily, in the last days there shall arise an electrician out of the bowels of the county of Snohomish. And behold, his likeness shall be like that of fine mustard, and his odor shall fill the nostrils of many men."

"And behold, this shall be a sign to you. You shall find the electrician with two children with underpants on their heads, in accordance with the Law."

"And verily, the electrician shall hast been verily wedded to a wise patient woman, who shall smite him with a yardstick."

"And yeah and verily, and behold, and it shall come to pass that the electrician shall enjoy the smiting, and shall ask his wife for another."

"And behold, there shall arise a cry in the South, from the voice of one crying in the un-incorporated lands north of Monroe, that shall say, "Nay! I pleadest with tee to smitest thou not thine husband, for verily he hath begun to liketh it, and that is an abomination."

(I could go on....)

9:03 PM  

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