Far too often we hear the Christian right use the bible as justification for their bigotry. Who knows where they get this stuff though, because the bible actually speaks out against bigotry in any way. Not only that, but there is no clear admonition of homosexuality anywhere in either the Old or the New Testaments.
The biblical scriptures most often used to argue against homosexuality have been horribly and repeatedly misinterpreted, according to more than a few theologians and biblical scholars. How about we dissect the scriptural excuses for homophobia one by one? The part of the creation story most used to justify homophobia seems to be the part about it being “natural” for man and woman to come together and make babies. That apparently passes for justification — God says make babies, and gay couples can’t do it, therefore, they are unnatural right? Well. What about couples that are infertile? Are they unnatural? What about people who simply choose not to have kids? Are they unnatural? One really has no choice given the other possibilities but to take that line to mean “hey, sex is okay! It is natural to enjoy it, and to want it!”With Sodom and Gomorrah God wasn’t mad about them being gay, God was mad because of their arrogance, and because they didn’t share their wealth with the poor, but chose to hoard it all away (Republicans, anyone?) Ezekial 16:48-49 states that incredibly clearly.
As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. (48) Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.(49)
Nowhere in the bible does it actually use the term Sodomite to refer to anyone other than people from Sodom. You wouldn’t call everyone who says “Eh?” a Canadian, would you?
And the passages in Leviticus that shun homosexuality? Calling it an abomination? The actual hebrew word used is TO’EBAH. It doesn’t mean the same thing as abomination does in English — it isn’t a law, it’s used to describe something that non-Jews did that Jews thought was displeasing to God. It means ritually improper, not abomination. It isn’t a quote from God, it isn’t his law or his rules, it is what a bunch of people way back decided might probably not be cool in God’s eyes. TO’EBAH doesn’t refer to things like rape, or murder being evil, or the ten commandments — not cold hard law, but closer to “you should probably wash your dishes before they get moldy.”
Then Jesus showed up and said “all those rules? pfft. They don’t apply to Christians,” Though I’m sure he said it in a much nicer and more Jesus-y way. When Jesus says all those rules, he doesn’t mean “just the ones about selling your daughter into slavery and wearing mixed fibers” he means, ALL of those rules. As in, don’t pick and choose.
Keep in mind also, that back then things like STIs still existed, but we didn’t have things like latex condoms to protect us from it. So the TO’EBAH made sense — thousands of years ago. Not anymore. Just like we don’t need rules telling us how to sell our daughters into slavery.
The rule is actually based on pre-science. Back then, scholars believed that the whole of life was in semen (preformationism? Really?) As in, the baby was IN the sperm (a homunculus!), and the woman was just an incubator. So if a guy masturbated, or withdrew before ejaculating in his wife, he was killing a baby, not just a bunch of non-sentient haploid cells. When you’ve got a teeny tiny tribe of Jews trying really hard to populate a large space, that was a REALLY big deal.
Romans 1:26-27 has also been used to justify homophobia. Just for clarification, it was written by Paul, and is not the direct word of Jesus or God. Now, the word “unnatural” is used here again in reference to sexuality. To really understand the context of this word, you have to take into account what Paul was doing at the time — he was writing a letter to Rome after being a missionary to the Mediterranean where he saw a bunch of pagan temples with a bunch of really weird habits.
First we have to agree that sexuality is a gift given to us from God. I’m not talking about specific sexual orientations, but the fact that God made sex feel really, really good as a treat for us (to oversimplify). He gave us either penises or vaginas, and he made it all mix together in a mishmash of really, really happy for a few minutes. No? The point however is that we shouldn’t let our sex lives take control of the rest of our lives. Meaning, don’t shirk responsibilities so you can get it on with your baby’s daddy. Feed your kid, clean your house, and go to work already!
So, when Paul was busy preaching the word of God to all these pagans back then, he saw that they had some really weird sexual habits. Like castration and humping children and bestiality in an attempt to please the gods of love and sex.
And that is what he meant by unnatural. God gave men testicles so they could ejaculate. And because they’re fun. He didn’t give them to guys so they could cut them off. He didn’t give your little girls vaginas so you can tag team them. He sure as heck didn’t give you kids so you can abuse them. You aren’t exactly supposed to be having sex with animals either — that’s just plain animal cruelty, and well, disgusting. Sex is supposed to be an enjoyable experience for both (or all, if that is what floats your boat) parties involved, and not a weapon used to hurt people.
As for the last places homosexuality is mentioned anywhere in the bible (1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10), it comes down to the mistranslation of a word no one really knows the meaning of. It’s an old greek word “Arsenokoitai.” Personally, I think it sounds like a cocktail. It wasn’t until 1958 when some dude just randomly decided with no basis whatsoever that it meant gay people. Seriously. We are talking Greek scholars who study old Greek for a living throwing their hands up and going “I have no idea what it means, maybe it’s a typo?” and some random dude decides it means gay people. Since the true meaning of the word is unknown, it becomes obvious that someone was inserting their own bias into the bible. Which, by the way, is a big no no (Revelations 20:18-19 18 – For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book 19 – And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.)
If Paul had meant homosexuality as it was known in those times, he would have used the word paiderasste, which means pederasty — those of us with critical thinking skills recognize the difference. Homosexuality, as we know it, did not exist in those times. There were no loving, committed relationships between two men or two women — at least not publicly. Instead, people engaged in pederasty — as in big man raping little boy. There are precious few people who would ever condone that sort of thing — it is abuse, plain and simple, and neither God, nor Jesus, nor anyone with any scruples whatsoever would ever condone sexual abuse.
It is nothing short of distressing that so many people have been misled into believing that God hates people because of their sexual orientations. Especially sad is the fact that the arsenokoitai mistranslation actually comes from the letters Paul was writing in an attempt to get Christians in Ephesus and Corinth to stop bickering — this letter of unity, has been corrupted and turn into a message of hate by unscrupulous bigots who have made a business off of manipulating people, turning them into a personal army in an attempt to satiate someone’s greed.
Besides, God told us to love everyone and not judge. By saying homosexuality is immoral, you are passing judgement. God teaches us to be good people, and follow the moral outline he alone sets for us. Our relationship with him is personal, and so is our morality. Meaning, one should never impose their morality on others. The scripture’s all there:
Matthew 7:1-2(1) Judge not, that you be judged, (2) For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.
(35) But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. (36) Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (37) Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven: (38) Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete with it shall be measured to you again.
Kinda makes you wonder how Christian Pat Robertson actually is, doesn’t it?