Christianity and the Great Gay Struggle


I read an article on the Huffington Post by Cathleen Falsani called “Is Evangelical Christianity Having the Great Gay Awakening?” Cathleen, like many Christians, went through a period of time where she struggled over how to deal with how someone could be both gay and a professing Christian. Those two do not go together in the Christian community.

I can relate to her on the struggle with how to reconcile the Bible to personal feelings. It is not easy. I too have friends who are gay and still claim Christianity. We disagree on the issue of homosexuality and if it is acceptable to God. Like Cathleen I love them dearly, but loving someone does not mean I can condone something I consider is wrong. It saddens me that the natural progression of logic means that to love someone you can not take a stance against actions that you deem wrong.

When I started reading the article, I thought it was going to be another piece where a Christian tries to rationalize Jesus’ command to love one another and a directive to embrace homosexuality. I am used to those so those don’t phase me. What bothers me are those who are in leadership that twist scripture to fit their views. I am sure they feel the same way about people like me, who could be taking the verses out of context for our views.

Jim Bakker is one of those who help her with the stance with homosexuality.

Bakker, who is straight and divorced, crafts his argument using the same “clobber scriptures” (as he calls them) that are so often wielded to condemn homosexuals.

“The simple fact is that Old Testament references in Leviticus do treat homosexuality as a sin … a capital offense even,” Bakker writes. “But before you say, ‘I told you so,’ consider this: Eating shellfish, cutting your sideburns and getting tattoos were equally prohibited by ancient religious law.

“The truth is that the Bible endorses all sorts of attitudes and behaviors that we find unacceptable (and illegal) today and decries others that we recognize as no big deal.”
Leviticus prohibits interracial marriage, endorses slavery and forbids women to wear trousers. Deuteronomy calls for brides who are found not to be virgins to be stoned to death, and for adulterers to be summarily executed.

“The church has always been late,” Bakker told me in an interview this week. “We were late on slavery. We were late on civil rights. And now we’re late on this.”

Examining the original Greek words translated as “homosexual” and “homosexuality” in three New Testament passages, Bakker (and others) conclude that the original words have been translated inaccurately in modern English.

Bakker does not help people by comparing homosexuality to eating shellfish, sideburns, or tattoos. The former was punishable by death while the others resulted in the person being deemed unclean and with a way for the offender to become clean again. Homosexuality was declared an abomination for all people while the others are seen as detestable for the tribe of Israel. It is wrong to compare apples and oranges and say they are the same. His views give people a false since of security that homosexuality is ok.

Homosexuality being translated incorrectly is an argument that is not even embraced by the whole LGBT community. It appears to be a new attempt to shift the focus from homosexuality where “love” is involved to an act of prostitution, which society is more likely to oppose. If this is a misinterpretation, where is the evidence to support it? Why have the leading Greek scholars not saying that oops we have been wrong on this issue?

Historically, we can see where loving homosexual relationships were condoned and practiced by other groups. The Egyptians had lesbian marriages before the time that the Law was given. Both Greek and Romans practiced before and up to the time when the letters from Paul was written. The concept of a loving and committed homosexual relationship is not new despite claims to the contrary. The Bible still speaks out against them though.

If you want to embrace homosexuality as society is embracing it, that is fine. Please do not use the Bible to condone it though.

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7 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity, Religion

7 responses to “Christianity and the Great Gay Struggle

  1. Good post. When Jesus described the world in the last days before He returns, He compared it to the days of Lot. Sodom and Gomorrah practiced many wicked things, but homosexuality was especially notable.

    But there is a prophetic illustration in it, too. The men and teenagers (young men) of the community tried to force their way into Lot’s house. Lot’s house, the house of the righteous, represents the church, just as his deliverance represents the rapture/resurrection. When they broke in, they were blinded by the angel, just as those who defend homosexuality as if it were okay are blinded to the truth.

  2. “If you want to embrace homosexuality as society is embracing it, that is fine. Please do not use the Bible to condone it though.” (Xander)

    In some ways I see your point, I thoroughly disagree with that point, but I see where it is coming from and how it is arrived at.

    The bible (Torah and NT sections) has some pretty clear passages on this issue – Leviticus and Romans notably – or so it seems. It’s not a wonder why many people read the passages and can see homosexuality there – cause I think we both know it is being referenced within the passage to some degree.

    However, homosexuality – as we see it in the 21st century – is really not the same issue at stake in 12th century BC or 1st century AD. Sure some things about 2 people sleeping together never changes, but situationaly and contextually, things have.

    As for the wording used in the Hebrew and Greek, it is pretty hard to determine what was meant with some of the words. In fact, within Judaism changes are occuring to allow for gay couples to get married – and these are the people with the Leviticus passage to contend with.

    As for Christianity, it is fairly obvious Paul is mentioning a form of sexual promiscuity – namely the temple prostitution for Venus (ie: orgies for spiritual elation). Paul even references some of this in Corinth and within Romans, since this was a well known practice in Roman lands (ie: Gentiles needed to contend with this – so Paul addresses it).

    However, Paul never comes out in utter condemnation of such a thing – it’s not like it wasn’t happening or occuring – yet it’s never addresses a problem with an outline to it. His one utterance in Romans is pretty vague in nature and encompasses a whole wide range of sexual sins – but homosexuality is not addressed in particular.

    Which makes now a days Christian focus on this issue laughable to some degree. Paul did not pay this much attention to this issue and could not even spare 5 – 10 verses to address in his 13+ letters. I find that incredibly weird if homosexuality was such a huge issue as it is today? Begs the question, are we the one’s reading something in that really was not much of an issue? The biblical record really does not lie on this one.

  3. “When they broke in, they were blinded by the angel, just as those who defend homosexuality as if it were okay are blinded to the truth.” (biblestop)

    Rationale thinking, helps to keep good old gay discrimiation (ie: bashing) alive and well. Sarcasm obviously.

    (a) This is not a ‘prophecy’ so reading one into the passage does not make it all of a sudden ‘prophecy’ (that’s a hop, skip, and JUMP if I ever saw one)

    (b) As for being ‘blind’ on the issue, well we need to look closer at that word ‘blind’.

    “not able or willing to notice, understand, or judge” (yourdictionary.com)

    I am guessing this is the correct defintion for your sentence used earlier.

    The problem is this the people that defend gay people and their rights (like to be an equal part of the church congregation) is they notice the problem, seek to understand as much about the problem as possible, and judge the problem based on the research they do. I wouldn’t exactly call that ‘blind’.

    However, Lot’s situation can be looked at 2 ways if u ask me (to use the old prophecy scenario):

    Lot pleaded against the crowd to not hurt these ‘new people’ to the city. Still they pleaded bloody murder! So Lot, being the kind guy he was, offered them his daughters to ‘enjoy’. The mob grew even angrier! The ‘new people’ had no way out so God blinded the ignorant crowd so ‘the new people’ could be freed.

    Can you understand the prophecy?

  4. “However, homosexuality – as we see it in the 21st century – is really not the same issue at stake in 12th century BC or 1st century AD. Sure some things about 2 people sleeping together never changes, but situationaly and contextually, things have.” (societyvs)
    That is such an amazing statement to make. What has happened where homosexuality is different in the 21st century? Have gay people just now figured out they could love each other and it wasn’t just about having sex? Since the gay attraction is supposed to be a naturally occurring thing, how could it just now be different? I mean we have gay marriages going back to before the Exodus. Homosexual relationships are present in literature such as the Iliad. We know gay marriages occurred in Greek and roman society before Paul wrote about them, so what is different about homosexual relationships now that wasn’t in the past?

    Orthodox Jews have not changed their stance on homosexuality, so there is no question as to what was meant.

    I am not sure where you are coming up with the temple prostitution as the basis for Paul’s stance. In Corinthians, male prostitute and homosexual are listed separately, as in two different activities. There is no reference to prostitutes in Romans either. You have a reference to worshiping things other that God and then God gave them over to their degrading passions. This is attraction and lust not a form of idol worship. So why wouldn’t Paul have spent more time on the subject? The messianic Jews in the groups would have known that it was considered an abomination. I think too much time is spent discounting Paul’s lack of attention to it when it is easy to see how the common understanding was that it was wrong. The letters were written to address questions and clear up misunderstandings. They were not meant to restate that which was already known.

  5. “What has happened where homosexuality is different in the 21st century?” (Xander)

    Well, for one its recognized by law in the West as part of ‘gender’ – has that ever happened in history? Gay marriage is not something that is widely recognized in any literature – if so – where (besides the fictional Iliad)? This is something, we as a society, are starting to see as not ‘abnormal behavior’ but part of the human identity. Things have changed on this issue – fact.

    “I mean we have gay marriages going back to before the Exodus” (Xander)

    Where?

    “We know gay marriages occurred in Greek and roman society before Paul wrote about them, so what is different about homosexual relationships now that wasn’t in the past?” (Xander)

    Problem with Paul is very simple, if this is such an issue for him – why not long dedicated part of his letters to the issue – obviously it was prevelant in society (according to your thoughts on the issue)? Did Paul just not care about the issue because he could of cleared it all up right there. Instead the religious movement against inclusion of gays is based on circumstantial evidence and nothing that outright identifies this problem and what to do.

    “The letters were written to address questions and clear up misunderstandings. They were not meant to restate that which was already known” (Xander)

    Really? Paul seems to not agree with that in his letters.

    How many times does he address circumcision, you tell me? He sure beats that point to death. Or the problem in Corinth about a son sleeping with the father’s wife, pretty obvious problem don’t ya think? Yet he dedicated quite some time to that issue. I am just asking, he can address that issue of sexual promiscuity but misses the obvious homosexuality within Rome, I find that odd.

    You’re also working from the point of an ‘assumption’ that everyone ‘would have known this was the case’…maybe in Jewish thought – but these are Gentiles – who might know nothing about Jewish scriptures whatsoever. They were Ephesus, Rome, Corinth, Galatia, etc…where, according to you, gay marriage was a fully instituted rite and passage for anyone. No addressing of the issue whatsoever. That’s not odd to you?

    Because the oddity of this is Christians today address this issue like it’s a huge problem, but historically and biblically it’s rarely ever mentioned and never preached/written upon. Yet today, if we were to just survey the internet, Christians dedicate about as much time to this as they would the resurrection.

  6. “Well, for one its recognized by law in the West as part of ‘gender’ – has that ever happened in history? Gay marriage is not something that is widely recognized in any literature – if so – where (besides the fictional Iliad)? This is something, we as a society, are starting to see as not ‘abnormal behavior’ but part of the human identity. Things have changed on this issue – fact.” (societyvs)

    Considering sexual orientation as a right is new, but the act of homosexuality or the feelings that go along with it are not. Plato wrote against it in 348 BC. He even used the words para physin to describe it which is how we can understand the intent in the Bible. There are Persian love poems from one man to another. Some of the Greek tragedies include pro-homosexual messages. The Speech of Pausanias and the Speech of Socrates have portions which advocate homosexuality. There are formal homosexual marriages recognized by Roman officials around 60 AD.

    “Where?” (societyvs)

    Egypt openly had gay marriages long before the Jews left.

    “Problem with Paul is very simple, if this is such an issue for him – why not long dedicated part of his letters to the issue – obviously it was prevelant in society (according to your thoughts on the issue)? Did Paul just not care about the issue because he could of cleared it all up right there. Instead the religious movement against inclusion of gays is based on circumstantial evidence and nothing that outright identifies this problem and what to do.” (societyvs)

    The argument that it was not spoken against more often is not a viable defense to homosexuality being acceptable. How many times did Paul tell people they shouldn’t murder? How many times was a message on not stealing given? We can draw a natural assumption that the Jewish community knew that homosexuality was considered wrong based on tradition and scripture. From there we can assume that the messianic Jews would have been instructing the gentiles in the church as well based upon the fact that the church in Jerusalem had to issue a guide of the minimum requirements that Gentiles should follow to allow fellowship with their Jewish brothers/sisters. Added to the fact that Paul uses the same terminology to identify homosexuality as Plato did 300 years prior.

    “How many times does he address circumcision, you tell me? He sure beats that point to death. Or the problem in Corinth about a son sleeping with the father’s wife, pretty obvious problem don’t ya think? Yet he dedicated quite some time to that issue. I am just asking, he can address that issue of sexual promiscuity but misses the obvious homosexuality within Rome, I find that odd. ” (societyvs)

    Yes, there was an issue where there was a teaching by people claiming that circumcision was necessary under the new covenant. He was correcting a false teaching. The issue with the son sleeping with his father’s wife was addressed, but the focus was more on the congregation not tolerating the behavior. There wasn’t a question on if it was wrong or not. The issue was with the church not speaking up and saying it was wrong. He addresses behavior by the church and not trying to condemn those who are not saved.

    “You’re also working from the point of an ‘assumption’ that everyone ‘would have known this was the case’…maybe in Jewish thought – but these are Gentiles – who might know nothing about Jewish scriptures whatsoever. They were Ephesus, Rome, Corinth, Galatia, etc…where, according to you, gay marriage was a fully instituted rite and passage for anyone. No addressing of the issue whatsoever. That’s not odd to you?” (societyvs)

    Not odd to me at all. I am not sure about your church, but where I go we talk about doctrine. We talk about what the Bible means. We discuss ideas and beliefs. The gentiles would have leaned on the Jewish understanding of scripture. Remember they always started preaching to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. Proof of this is the circumcision issue. If Jews were not a part of the church or the discussion process, why would this even be an issue? Christianity is not about changing society but rather separating oneself from what is acceptable to the world. There would not be large campaigns telling Romans that what they were doing was wrong like we see today.

    “Because the oddity of this is Christians today address this issue like it’s a huge problem, but historically and biblically it’s rarely ever mentioned and never preached/written upon. Yet today, if we were to just survey the internet, Christians dedicate about as much time to this as they would the resurrection.” (societyvs)

    The church has always spoken out against it, even from the early church fathers. Today we are not facing the issue of homosexuality, but homosexual activist. We are being told that either we approve of their way of life or we become bigots. I have said before that they should have civil rights just like that of a straight couple but I should be able to retain the right to say that it is wrong.

  7. “Considering sexual orientation as a right is new, but the act of homosexuality or the feelings that go along with it are not” (Xander)

    I took a gander into this idea of homosexuality in Greece, which apparently runs as far back as 700 BC. However, it is not quite understood as what we see today…they used a terminology called pederasty – which is – “a socially acknowledged relationship between an adult and a younger male usually in his teens” (Wikipedia).

    I wouldn’t exactly say the way gay relationships now are understood exactly as those ones were; we would consider that a form of pedophilia today.

    “The earliest formal record of legislation is Lex Scantinia, enacted in either 225 or 149 BC which regulated sexual behavior, including pederasty, adultery and passivity, and legislated the death penalty for same-sex behavior among free-born men” (Wikipedia – Homosexuality in Ancient Rome)

    Can’t exactly call this the same as modern homosexuality either – this was Rome…which actually wavered from Emperor to Emperor concerning acceptance.

    However, in both Greek and Roman ideas on homosexuality the passive partner was usually seen as ‘less than’ and the one committing the act was ‘okayed’. This is also very different from today’s view of gay relationships – defined by gender and committment – not be the sexual act alone.

    So yeah, homosexuality then and now are eons apart in scope of politics, acceptance, and even definition. However, one thing is similar – acceptance was extended by both of these Gentile govts.

    So question is, is Paul speaking out against pederasty or the male that is a passive, grown participant (which was frowned upon)? Or is Paul pro pederasty but not when the passive male grows, he then needs to behave like a man? Did Paul change standards based on Greek and Roman influenced territories? Could someone join the church and still be involved in these activities – which were accepted by the early societies in Gentile regions – and were never condemned in any portion of Acts as ‘what the Gentiles needed to do’? Oh the questions that arise from that they knew about actually thought about this.

    “The argument that it was not spoken against more often is not a viable defense to homosexuality being acceptable” (Xander)

    True, but it does reveal something about their early mindsets and concern with the issue overall.

    “Christianity is not about changing society but rather separating oneself from what is acceptable to the world. There would not be large campaigns telling Romans that what they were doing was wrong like we see today” (Xander)

    Christianity is about ‘seperation’ from society? Are you sure? Seemed to me Peter, James, and John remained in Jerusalem (a city). If you mean seperation of certain ethical values I agree, but not about actual physical seperation.

    But the gay issue is up for debate since it may be an actual gender position based on science (still being looked at). If it is the case this is something someone is ‘born into’ (which I have a hard time believing is not the case) – then shouldn’t the Christian position be totally cast to the side?

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