- Gender and Relationships
Gay Marriage Just Sayin
Recently we have had a political war concerning Prop 8. If you don't live in California than you may not be familiar with the notorious Prop 8, which bans gays and lesbians from legally marrying. Many people share passionate views on both sides. The argument is that it the Bible is against homosexuality, which I find strange because after doing some research I found out that the concept of "homosexuality", as we know it today, wasn’t discovered until 1864 by a German social scientist named Karl Heinrich Ulrich. He was the first to declare that homosexuals were a distinct class of individuals. That's 3000 years after Moses and at least 18 centuries after Paul.
So where does all the commotion about homosexuality in Bible come from? If the authors of the Bible had no concept of homosexuality as we do today, than what evidence do we have that gays and lesbians do not deserve the same rights as heterosexuals? I went to my best friend Google and did a little research. I will disclose that I have not read the Bible from cover to cover. I have my beliefs in God and Jesus and prefer to live a life guided by spirituality rather than religion. I felt I needed to do the research to educate myself on this topic. I am not a homosexual so I never really paid that much attention, but having gay friends and witnessing their recent fight for common rights I decided to find out exactly what history and the Bible had to say on this matter.
The place I started was Sodom. The only thing I was taught about this ancient city is that it was destroyed by God for committing lewd acts with Angels. Now that would be enough reason for me to believe why God got pissed off, but the common belief is that it was guy on guy action. Apparently the inhabitants of Sodom refused Lot's virginal daughters and wanted the Angels. Now the Bible is not clear if it was only the men of Sodom, it states "When they had not yet retired, and the people of the city, the people of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, the entire populace from every end [of the city]. 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 have relations with them."
For the story's sake let's say the "entire populace" was only men and “relations” means sex. This was Sodom and its suburbs downfall. God turned20the town into a pile of fire and brimstone. The end? Not quite. There is a lot more to the story. Apparently Ezekiel 16:48-49 states "This is the sin of Sodom; she and her suburbs had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not help or encourage the poor and needy. They were arrogant and this was abominable in God's eyes."
Apparently Jesus and Five Old Testament writers spoke of Sodom's demise and not one mentions homosexuality. It appears Sodom had it coming for their greedy nature and lack of compassion for the less fortunate. Going back to our pal Ezek he also quotes God (referring to Jerusalem) as saying "Sodom never did what you and your daughters have done." He explains that the sin of Sodom was that "She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me."
For the record haughty means arrogant and detestable is another word for hateful. Interesting choice I think. I also find it intriguing that Sodom is referred to as a female. God really knows how to put things into perspective. Back to the story:
Well the Bible didn't specify the fire and brimstone as a result from gay sex and since Jesus doesn't mention it I turned to history. I found that in that era it was common for soldiers, thieves, and bullies to rape a fallen enemy. To dehumanize their victim. Rape has nothing to do with sexuality it's about power, revenge and domination. And sadly it still happens today.
What I get from the Sodom story is that God wants us to show mercy, to love and care for each other. To abuse or ignore the weak, the poor and the outcasts is defying God's message and his love for us.
Well the Bible is a big book. So I decided to dig a little deeper. So many people state that homosexuality is a guarantee ticket to hell so I felt there has to more evidence for this belief. I thought I found it in Leviticus 18:6 which states "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination." A similar verse occurs two chapters later, in Leviticus 20:13: "A man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed."
Well there ya go. I never heard of this passage, but it clearly states the obvious right? After digging a little deeper I found some other interesting facts about Leviticus. Once again I have not read the Bible cover to cover. I feel like I have hit the main points and that’s all. The city of20Sodom was definitely mentioned, but I have never heard of Leviticus. Maybe this is why. It turns out the Leviticus is a holiness code written 3,000 years ago, primarily for priests, which includes the following rules:
If a man cheats on his wife, or vice versa, both the man and the woman must die. (Leviticus 20:10)
Don't wear clothes made of more than one fabric (Leviticus 19:19)
Any person who curseth his mother or father, must be killed. (Leviticus 20:9)
Don't cut your hair nor shave. (Leviticus 19:27)
People who have flat noses, or is blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God (Leviticus 21:17-18)
Anyone who curses or blasphemes God, should be stoned to death by the community. (Leviticus 24:14-16)
It also includes prohibitions against round haircuts, tattoos, working on the Sabbath, eating pork or shellfish, getting your fortune told, and even playing with the skin of a pig. (There goes football!)
So we seem to have tossed away the obvious. ( I know I have never been to a public stoning.) Once again I turned to history. Where did this claim come from? I found some interesting facts. First Jesus and Paul both said that the holiness code in Leviticus does NOT pertain to Christians believers. Well what about God? Surely he has a say in the m atter. Here is an interesting text I found condemning masturbation.
"He spilled his seed on the ground... And the thing which Onan did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also" (Genesis 38:9-10).
Wow that is harsh punishment for masturbation. So I discovered that it was an abomination for a man to sleep with another man, but so was masturbation and to halt ejaculation as an act of birth control. Why do we stick with the first, but forget about the others? These acts were not just abomination, but worthy of death. Why such the big deal? History answers that.
These Scribes were Jewish and Hebrews pre-scientific belief was that the male semen was the center of life. Wasting it would have been considered murder. The Jews were a small population outnumbered by their enemy and struggling to survive. You can see the disappointment of masturbation. How many lives lost? It’s not really about orientation as it is about survival. I find it interesting that today we casually drop off the masturbation and ejaculation part. It appears that we only use what sections of the story work for us.
I did not give up on my search. There are too many people swearing that homosexuality is an act against God. This led me to 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 aka The Mystery of "Malokois" and "Arsenokoitai". They are very similar passages and interesting.
Apparently Paul was exhausted by the Christians in the towns of Ephesus and Corinth fighting amongst themselves. Paul finally shouts out "You are breaking God's heart by the way you are treating one another". The people responded by asking”Well, how are we supposed to treat one another?" Paul answers, "You know very well how to treat one another from the Jewish law written on tablets of stone."
I took a wild guess that he was referring to the Ten Commandments. You know the ten rules that God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai. I was right on the money. My second wild guess was that God gave these rules to Moses to help humans understand the behavior that God expects from us. Since we are made from the likeness of God and all, we should act accordingly.
Back to the story:
So Paul recites this to the Christians of Corinth and Ephesus from the Jewish law first. Don't kill one another. Don't sleep with a person who is married to someone else. Don't lie or cheat or steal. The list goes on to include admonitions against fornication, idolatry, whoremongering, perjury, drunkenness, revelry, and extortion. He also includes "malokois" and "arsenokoitai."
Huh? What was that last two? I did some searching, but first how does Paul end? After quoting from the Jewish law, Paul reminds the Christians in Corinth that they are under a new law: the law of Jesus, a law of love that requires us to do more than just avoid murder, adultery, lying, cheating, and stealing. Paul tells them what God wants is not strict adherence to a list of laws, but a pure heart, a good conscience, and a faith that isn't phony.
So what is the deal with "malokois" and "arsenokoitai"? Is that Greek for gay and lesbian? Not exactly. Greek scholars say that in first century the Greek word malaokois probably meant "effeminate call boys." The New Revised Standard Version says "male prostitutes." Although the literal translation means "soft".
The literal translation for "Arsenokoitai" is Arsenos "Men" and "Koites" as "Bedders". There are many interpretations, but the general idea was these were the customers to the prostitutes.
FACT: In 1958, for the first time in history, a person translating that mysterious Greek word into English decided it meant homosexuals, even though there is, in fact, no such word in Greek or Hebrew. But that translator made the decision for all of us that placed the word homosexual in the English-language Bible for the very first time.
In the past people have used Paul’s scriptures to defend slavery and support segregation. Apparently in ancient times there was no safety-net for Middle Easterners who could not provide a living for themselves. In ancient Israel, people who could not provide for themselves or their families sold them into slavery so they would not die of starvation or exposure. In this way, a person would receive food and housing in exchange for labor.
The Bible also mentions in the New Testement that “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8)
Now you can see how people in the 17th century took this to the extreme. See how interpretations change everything. Once again in ancient times many Christians were slaves to Romans and in effort to keep Christianity from being looked down upon, rules were created for those held as slaves. The rules were similar to that of free Christians, but took in consideration that enslaved Christians were being subjected to governing authority.
Just for the record the Bible states "He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death." (Exodus 21:16) Too bad it took a while for mankind to get that message. It’s just an example on how interpretation can lead to despicable acts.
So after all my research I found no conclusive evidence that God, Jesus, Paul or any of the prophets speak directly about homosexuality as we know it today. What I did discover was that they all agree on is that we are “to love one another.” A young Jewish scholar asked Jesus, "What is the greatest commandment?" Quoting the prophets, Jesus replied, "This is my commandment The great commandment is this... to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second command is like it, to love your neighbor as you love yourself."," Jesus said, "that you love one another, as I have loved you." On this the Bible is explicitly clear.
Now what does all this have to do with Prop 8? Well Prop 8 has eliminated the basics rights of marriage for our gay brothers and sisters. Here is a reminder that we live in a country that is governed not by the Bible, but by a Constitution and a Bill of Rights. The first settlers to this country were escaping a land that forced them to believe a religion that a particular country enforced.
This is why in the 1st Amendment we grant ourselves the Freedom of Speech, Press and Religion. The Constitution was constructed with intent to separate church and stat e. Which is why Thomas Jefferson wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness...”
Everyone has a right to their opinion, but facts are facts. It is not our place to judge for that responsibility is for our Creator. We should focus on loving and taking care of one another. I see the signs for “Adam and Eve” not “Adam and Steve”, but why don’t we look at the story of Creation as a testament to God’s power and presence? The Creation story is primarily about God and his amazing power to create the world and everything in it existence. Although the story makes reference to it is “natural” for man and woman to lie together to create a new life. It does not specify what “unnatural” is. That is where interpretation comes in. “Unnatural” could also mean infertility, singles, people too old to have children and those who choose not to.
I feel like we are missing the basic idea that God wants us to live by. We treat “homosexuality” like it’s some kind of disease or a choice that we make. I’ve known all my life that I was attracted to boys. It was never a choice, but apart me like my gender and race.
My wish for all is that we can live together as God, Jesus, Moses, Allah, Buddha and the rest of our religious icons intended. That Mankind can treat each other with the respect and love that our God bestows on us. Look at that word again….. man-kind.
On a Final Note, Here is an interesting FACT between Religion and Science
Religion relies on authority — from a person, book, or tradition — and its Truth is supposed to be universal and eternal. But in science, the authority is in the evidence and reasoning, which are always open to challenge; so science's truth is relative and ten tative.
A scientific investigation starts with a question, and tries to reach a conclusion by finding evidence and applying reason. A theological investigation, though, starts with a conclusion, and tries to wiggle around any impediments of evidence and logic in order to justify that conclusion.
Justify a conclusion? That sums it all up. Change your conclusion and you can change the world. I hope this has help shed some light on the argument for Prop 8.
Above all else please Be Good to One Another.