I keep imagining the classes are ones like:
Nest Building 101
Archery for Beginners
and of course
How To Not Become A Mindless Servant For Power Hungry Gods
PARKOUR SPIDEY. HIS FIGHTING STYLE, OH MY GOD. I NEED MORE OF THIS UNIVERSE OF SPIDEY. ALSO HE NEEDS TO BE AN AVENGER.
I also have this headcanon that his parents were relocated and are under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection.
Most conservative Christians operate with the curious delusion that the Bible condemns gay sex, gay marriage, or even gay people; in fact, I saw a person just yesterday who, quoting Leviticus, said “Those gays should be put to death, and it will be their own doing.” Their argument often uses the words of Moses in Leviticus or the words of Paul to the Corinthians and Romans, and their beliefs are usually somewhere along the lines of “Marriage is between one man and one woman” (I’ll be doing a post in the future on “Biblical Marriage”, of which there were many kinds and of which monogamy was only one) or “Gays can’t love each other because perfect love is rooted in the plan of procreation and two men can’t make a baby.” What genius!
Sodomy and Genesis 19
I’ll start with the Sodom myth. It’s no secret that gay anal sex is called “sodomy”, taking its name from the ancient Hebrew town that was destroyed by God because“all the men were gay” (which makes one wonder how the town had any population at all). The story goes that all the men of Sodom liked gay sex so much that when two men, actually angels in disguise, visited Lot, they just had to get a piece of the action. They formed a homoerotic mob and surrounded Lot’s house, and commanded, “Send out those men so that we can have sex with them!” After a long confrontation, Lot escaped and the angels killed everyone in Sodom because the men were so gay. But yea - that’s not at all what actually happened.
The primary verses in question are:
Before they slept, the men of the city of Sodom, both old and young, all of them from every part, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, and let us know them [Heb. yada].” (Genesis 19:4-5)
In Hebrew, “yada” means ”to know”, in terms of actual knowledge. When you know something important, or maybe even unimportant, “yada” could be used to describe this. But Hebrew has a lot of quirky euphemisms and “to know” often implies “to have sex with.” Thus, we arrive at the conclusion that the men were, in fact, saying, “…and let us have sex with them.”
Because the verse specifically identifies the Sodomites as men, and verse 5 implies sex, it’s no wonder that the Sodomites are thought to be gay by so many people. But you should be able to see through the smog after reading a few more verses. For instance, verse 9 says:
But they said, “Stand back! This one [Lot] came in as a foreigner, and now he should judge us? Now we are going to treat you worse than them [Heb. ra’a].” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.
“Ra’a” means “evil thing” or “wicked thing”, with the intent of spoiling or destroying. So when the Sodomite men say, ”…let us have sex with them”, the context is in spoiling or destroying them. Thus, they say to lot, “we are going to treat you worse.” Unless everyone in Sodom had a BDSM fetish and assumed that Lot’s visitors did too, then obviously their intent was not consensual. Now, if you go by Westboro Baptist logic, maybe“rape” sounds like “consent”, but in the real and hopefully educated world, it does not.
Another clue that we’re dealing with rape comes from Judges 19. A Levite and his concubine or half-wife (a woman other than his wife with whom he legally and morally has extra-marital sex) were traveling and came upon a town called Gibeah. The story follows exactly as the Sodom story does, right down to the Levite and the mistress wanting to sleep in the town square (like the angels in Sodom). The Gibean men surrounded the house of the person that invited them in and demanded that he send out the man and his mistress in order to have sex with them. Eventually, the Levite sent out his concubine and locked the door. The men raped her and killed her.
So why was Sodom really destroyed? Greed. The angels went there to destroy it, keep in mind. By Abraham’s plea, they had to search out at least 10 righteous men. But the men of Sodom didn’t give them the chance. Sodom’s inhospitality, which likely led to the need to rape and humiliate perceived threats, is what caused the destruction of Sodom. “Sodomy”, by Biblical terms, is old-fashioned bitchiness, not gay sex.
“You shall not lie with another man in the lyings of a woman, for it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)
More often than any other verse or argument, I see Leviticus thrown around like it is the infallible Law and any who break it must die. It’s often claimed that Leviticus says, “Don’t lie with another man like you would a woman”, so therefore, gays are abominable. Of course, these faithful Christians cut their hair, eat shellfish and pork, grow and eat fruit from mixed gardens, wear clothing of combined fabrics (cotton-poly blend, anyone?) and other things that Leviticus says not to do. But I guess we’ll let that slide so long as the damn gays don’t have sex, right?
Anyway, all that aside, Leviticus has nothing to do with gay people who aren’t prostituting themselves to complete strangers to serve as vessels of Moloch and Asherah, and I’m pretty sure that’s most.
Leviticus 18:22 is in a chapter that focuses largely on sexual immorality, mostly incestuous. In verse 21, this takes a sharp turn and it condemns child sacrifice to Moloch. In verse 23, it condemns bestiality, a practice which was done in idolatrous worship. It doesn’t make any sense, therefore, that a verse that condemns consensual homosexual unions would be put in the middle of two verses condemning idolatry.
In traditional Judaism, there are only really five sexually immoral acts: adultery (sex with a married individual who is not your spouse), incest, sex with a woman during menstruation, bestiality, and whatever verse 22 refers to. All of the prohibitions in Leviticus 18 are repeated in Leviticus 20, where God added a little clue for us. In the preface for the chapter, God condemns pagan mediums, child sacrifice, and prostitution to Moloch. In the latter, men and women would engage in sexual act with members of either/both sexes and serve as vessels of Moloch and/or Asherah, so that the person would essentially be having sex with one of the gods. Outside of the context of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, homosexuality appears nowhere in the Hebrew Bible - but shrine prostitution does.
Another verse that helps us link these verses to Temple prostitution is Deuteronomy 23:17, which reads:
There shall be no temple prostitute among the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a temple prostitute among the sons of Israel.
The context here is obviously temple prostitution, so this needs no comment. But what is interesting is the horribly inaccurate rendering of the Bible in Basic English:
No daughter of Israel is to let herself be used as a loose woman for a strange god, and no son of Israel is to give himself to a man.
This correlation of course ties this back to Leviticus, just like the King James Bible does, using “sodomite” here. But the word here is “qedesh”, meaning “temple prostitute”, and it simply cannot refer to non-religious sex. The actual Hebrew text says nothing about a man giving himself to another man, outside of the context of prostitution. Again, this ties the Leviticus verses to idolatry.
But where does the “in the lyings of a woman” part come in? That is, after all, half of the verse in question. In ancient Canaanite religion, temple prostitution involved several individuals: men to represent the Baalim or gods, and temple prostitutes to represent the Baalot or goddesses. The temple prostitutes could be female, as the Deuteronomy verse demonstrates, but very often they were males who would adorn themselves beautifully with jewels and feminine adornments. In this respect, they “lowered” themselves as men and became women (in this culture, women were wrongfully seen as lower than men) and were dominated sexually by the men representing the Baalim. This domination is demonstrated in the Hebrew, where the word “et”, translated as “with”, implies an act done “to” rather than done “with”.
The sex act involved the men who represented the Baalim penetrating the male prostitutes anally as they received the semen on behalf of the goddesses they symbolized. It was believed, therefore, that as the men “impregnated” the prostitutes with their semen, so also would the Baalim impregnate the Baalot, creating a rich harvest that year.
This is why most Reform Jews, many of whom have taken to an earnest and daring re-evaluation of what the Bible really says, affirm that the context of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 cannot be a blanket condemnation of male homosexuality or of gay sexual activity, and instead is a simple reference to an extinct form of idolatrous worship.
Other arguments may exist, of course, but this is, according to my own research into the ancient Semitic cultures and the Hebrew language, the most historically valid and the most supported within and without the Bible. In light of the ambiguity of the language in the questions verses, it is easily the simplest solution provided within the Biblical text itself, and following Occam’s Razor, that means it’s probably right.
There is, however, one more argument that I support. One should ask if, concerning the Laws enacted specifically to distinguish the faithful monotheistic Jews from the unfaithful idolators of Canaan, these Laws should still be in place. To answer that, we need to consider three things: 1) the origin of the Laws, that is, whether they exist as a universal moral rule or as a cultural distinction; 2) the existence of these Laws in the expounding of the Law by Jesus in the New Testament; and 3) the traditional understanding of the Laws in light of contributions by scientific discovery. As these laws were, in fact, enacted only as a cultural distinction and have no evident place in the expounding of the Law, there isn’t much need to examine them further. However, even if we look at homosexuality from a scientific point of view, we find that it is quite natural. It appears in over 1500 species of animals, in a similar concentration across many of these species, and can be demonstrated to have neurological links in human subjects. Thus, there can be no argument from these Laws.
The Kingdom of Heaven
Perhaps no other verse in the Bible has so consistently baffled scholars than 1 Corinthians 6:9, which seems to condemn gay people pretty clearly. The most common translation says:
Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither whores, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals…will inherit the Kingdom of God.
This is, perhaps, the most common verse used to condemn gay people. But there’s a problem. The word “homosexual” isn’t written here. The words highlighted in bold are, in Greek, “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai” respectively. “Malakos” is Greek for “soft”, and in this context does not refer to someone who has effeminate mannerisms, but someone who is morally weak. This comparison is first made in scripture in the Septuagint translation of Proverbs 26:22 and is further demonstrated in the culture of the Greeks who used the word to refer to lazy, selfish, amoral men.
In a general moral sense, given credence by the amount stressed by Paul, the word may simply refer to licentiousness or fornication, that is, sexual immorality; Biblically speaking, this refers to nothing more and nothing less than adultery, incest, bestiality, menstrual sex, and sacred prostitution. However, given that the verse also uses “pornoi” meaning “male prostitute”, “eidololatrai” meaning “idolators”, and “moichoi” meaning “adulterers”, it is possible that it refers only to general amoral behavior, however, Paul has no problem with repetition, as “male prostitutes” were often “idolators”.
Regarding “arsenokoitai”, I honestly don’t see why this word is so disputed. Everyone calls it a mystery. It isn’t. People often argue, “it doesn’t appear in the Bible anywhere!” Actually, it does.
Paul was a Pharisee, a higher-ranking religious leader in ancient Israel. His knowledge and passion for the Jewish Law exceeded many of his day, his zeal for the traditions of those before him was great. It would be safe to say that no one, except Jesus, knew the Jewish scriptures as well as Paul did.
Paul paid particular attention to sexual sins. He believed sexual immorality to be the greatest sin one could commit, because it was against the spirit and against oneself. This is reflected in Jewish tradition even today. Thus, it would follow that Paul paid particular attention to the Laws in Leviticus 18, a chapter where all of the sexually immoral acts are present. If we go back to Leviticus 18:22, we find the following:
kai meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gunaikos
And Leviticus 20:13 says:
kai hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos
Given the fact that the word “arsenokoiten” seems to have no pre-Pauline existence whatsoever, Paul’s preoccupation with sexual immorality, and the existence of both of these words (arseno and koiten) in the Levitical charges of 18:22 and 20:13, it is reasonable to conclude that Paul coined a compound noun from these verses. If his concern in this verse is the idolatry, it is likely that he was speaking regarding the men engaging in the sacred sex as coital symbols of the Baalim. If his concern was the domineering element of the Hebrew word “et”, he could have been condemning dominant sex offenders or rapists. The latter is especially likely if Paul is referencing pederasts, or adult men who develop sexual relationships with adolescents and even children. This view was held by much of the early Church, and many of the Church Fathers speak harshly against such “corruption of boys”, an act that was quite common in ancient times and specifically condemned in the late-first century Didache. In any case, Paul’s intent was certainly not to convey a blanket condemnation of gay sex.
Burning in Lust
I’m sure Romans 1:26-27 provide conservative Christians with colorful and graphic mental images of gay bath-houses during the 1980’s, but I don’t think Paul was referencing a casual trip to the Everhard. If we’re ever going to understand what Paul said in Romans 1:26-27, we need to read the surrounding context.
For since the creation of the world His invisible qualities have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, both His everlasting Power and Divine Nature, for them to be without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not esteem Him as God, nor gave thanks, but became vain in their reasonings, and their undiscerning heart was darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and changed the esteem of the incorruptible God into the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds and of four-footed beasts and of reptiles.
Therefore God gave them up to uncleanliness in the lust of their hearts, to disrespect their bodies among themselves, who changed the truth of God into falsehood, and worshipped and served what was created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to degrading passions. For even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature, and likewise, the men also, having left natural relations with woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing indecency, and receiving back the reward which was due for their straying. (Romans 1:19-27)
In these verses, Paul is condemning people who limit God and refuse to honor him as God, instead becoming vain and proud, turning to the creation instead of the Creator. The context of this is clearly idolatry. Thus, it is condemning pagans who lustfully and disrespectfully engage in sex with one another.
But the issue in Paul’s condemnation here is lust or desire. The Greek word is “orexei” which comes from “oregomai”. The meaning is simply “to long after.” It is related to “oros”, meaning mountain, in that a mountain rises above a valley; likewise, a person longing after seeks to rise to obtain their desire. This desire can be good or bad, depending on the nature. For instance, to long for heaven is good (Hebrews 11:16), as is the longing after of the episcopal office (1 Timothy 3:1). However, one can long after evil as well, as in 1 Timothy 6:10.
Overall, lust is something Paul makes a big deal out of. It is because of lust that people are driven to fornication and sin. But Paul also knew that it is by lust that people seek out God. Thus, he always attempted to contrast what was holy with what wasn’t. Among holy things, things always to be desired, is love. He tells the Romans in 13:10, “…love fulfills the Law.” But to lust after things for one’s own pleasure is evil, and Paul also warned the Romans of this. In Romans 7:7, he recalls, “…for I would not have known lust unless the Law had said, ‘You shall not covet’.
The word he used here for lust is “epithumian”, from “epithumeo” meaning “a longing after.” In practice, it is synonymous with “orexis”. Just as “orexis” can be either positive or negative, so can “epithumeo.” But what is important about Paul’s statement here is that he defines “epithumeo” as the commandment, “You shall not covet.” His reasoning for doing this is probably because the Septuagint uses the same word for “covet” in Exodus 20:17. What does covet mean in the commandment?
You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
To “covet” means to long after what is not ours by right. Let’s test this. If we desire the office of Bishop, do we desire what is ours? No. We desire what is God’s to give, and what has been given to others. If we desire heaven, do we desire what is ours? No. We desire what is God’s to give to us by grace, through a faith made alive by works. If we desire evil, do we desire what is ours? No. We desire what belongs to “Satan”, the temptation to sin within us. It is not our own, as we were created “good.”
In almost every conceivable case, “to covet” means to “long after what is not our own.” Certainly, in Paul’s usage, it means this. So if the men and women in Rome were burning in their covetousness, were they burning in what was theirs? No. They were burning for what belonged to another. In relation to people, Exodus 20:17 makes it clear that covetousness sought after is adultery (sex with a married person), and this is likely the sin committed in Romans 1:26-27.
Another thing to consider about Romans 1 is that it doesn’t just condemn this. It condemns many other things. It condemns limiting God, becoming prideful, idolatry, idolatrous prostitution, general wickedness, greed, murder, unjust anger and animosity, dishonesty, self-destructive habits, gossip and libel, hatred of God, insults, boastfulness, malice, disobedience to ethical requests of parents and elders, closed-mindedness, hypocrisy, hatred of others, and grudges. Obviously, Romans 1 concerns many more people than just homosexuals, and anyone using this verse as a condemnation of gays should really evaluate their own conscience.
The fact is that at the end of the day, God said this about homosexuality: […]
It’s time Christianity grew up and began to fulfill the Law.
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a concise and intelligent argument, clearly stated.
I approve of this very much.