I’m sure you’ve heard or come across people who sit there and talk about how the Bible condemns homosexuality. I’m here to tell you that those folks are . . . misguided at best. Some of them are just plan full of it, but I’d like to think that most of them just haven’t actually looked it up. I’d really like to think that they’ve just followed what other people have told them, like so many other popular culture things in America. So, hopefully this will be a quick(ish) guide to what the Bible really says about homosexuality.
Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve – We can start at the beginning! A very good place to start! You’ve probably heard this one before. It rhymes. It’s easy to remember. It fits on a bumper sticker. It rest on two assumptions or two specific ways to read the text, ignoring some very serious implications, or, at best, hand waving them. First, there’s the idea that God created Eve purposefully for Adam, so therefore the penis fits in the palm of your hand, a vagina and therefore gay sex is icky. This ignores the part where God parades all the animals in front of Adam, hoping one of them will be a suitable companion for him. You can either read this as seriously misogynistic (God wanted Adam to have a dog, not a wife), or more than a little nasty (God wanted Adam to screw a dog, and settled on giving him a wife.) Good times!
The second part of this is that Adam and Eve had three kids, or at least three that Genesis gave a shit about. Cain, Abel, and Seth. All boys. So by reading this, we’re all products of massive incest. Of course, some people, like Ray Comfort, have hand waved this as “things were different back then,” but we still looking at some Game of Thrones style loving.
Sodom and Gomorrah –Now, when we talk about Sodom and Gomorrah, we could have a “what do we ‘know’” conversation, and a huge debate on ancient world hospitality laws and the Mediterranean machismo culture. But, we don’t have to do that. Why? Because later in the bible, we’re told EXACTLY what God thought of Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel 16:49-50 “’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. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” (Ok, I’m using the NIV version here, but the KJV says the same thing, only with more annoying language) Nowhere does it say “butt-sex.” Jesus even weighs in on this. Matthew 10:14-15, in reference to sending his disciples out and what to do if the people of the town are bitches. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.” Again, no butt-sex.
Leviticus 20:13 – This is the “thou shall not lie with a man as a woman.” This is one of those places where you could have another argument about translations, and what does “lay layings” mean and is abomination the right translation . . . whatever. There’s a lot of shit in Leviticus. According to Leviticus, you’re supposed to bring disobedient children to the townsfolk, to get stoned (not the good kind). And it’s TOTALLY ok to sell your children into slavery. A more pithy way to put it is that Leviticus also bans the consumption of pork, so when you take the sausage out of your mouth, I’ll take the sausage out of mine.
Next, there’s a skip. The bible doesn’t really talk about the gays for a long stretch. Not the prophets and not Jesus himself. The next person is “Bitches better shut up” Paul. And to read Paul, you’d better have a good grounding in the history of the Ancient world. This is also where a degree in Ancient Greek comes in handy (I don’t have one, so I’ve had to defer to those who know better than me).
Romans 1: 26-27 “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” Let’s take a minute to talk about religion in the ancient world. Mystery cults abounded, and one thing that many mystery cults had in common was a frenzied state. Anyone who’s seen season 2 of True Blood has a basic idea of what I’m talking about. Also, notice Paul says that the people exchanged natural passions for unnatural. The Greek he uses means “innate” or “inborn” which sounds more like straight men and women getting high during religious rituals and experimenting with their sexuality, and Prudish Paul had issues with this.
1Corinthians 6: 9-10 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” First thing to take into consideration here is that the concept that people are “gay” vs. “straight” is a recent thing. So, any translation that says “homosexuals” is immediately wrong and called into suspect.
Now, we can start look at the ancient Greek to help us find out what Paul, was REALLY saying. Corinthians hinges on two words in Ancient Greek, “malakos” and “arsenekotoai.” First, the word “malakos.” It means soft. Soft like the Downy bear promises your sheets will be. It was also a slang word used to mean unmanly. Most often, a guy who would spend all his time on his looks, and then moon around writing bad poetry or music to impress, quite often, women. You know, fops, dandies, rakes, macaronis, and metrosexuals. You see, Paul was a Roman before anything else. And he stayed a Roman. And to a Roman male, there was nothing worse than being concerned about your looks . . . and taking it up the ass.
The second word, “arsenekotoai,” is literally the words “man” and “bed” shoved together. Exactly. No one knows what it means because it’s not really used anywhere else in the Ancient Greek world. It’s kind of like Paul’s “fetch.” And it didn’t happen. What that means that when people are translating it, they’re guessing. Sure, it’s an educated guess, but it’s a still a guess. I’d also like to note that I’ve seen it bantered around that if Paul had REALLY wanted to be clear that he wasn’t into the men on men fucking, he would have used the word “paiderasste” (from where we get the word pederasty), but now we’re getting into areas where you need lots of letters after your name to really keep up. I was hoping to keep this as simple as possible. Small words, to make it easier for everyone to understand.
So, there you have it. The big one bible verses dealing with homosexuality, and what they really say, as opposed to “God Hates Fags.” Of course, most people out there who are trying to use the Bible to tell us we’re going to hell aren’t going to be persuaded by translations and nuances and whatever. So, the biggest thing I can leave you with is that Jesus said absolutely nothing about homosexuality. Nothing, nada, zip. You’d think that if God was that much not into man on man action, He would have said something at the time when he had people’s attention. Yet, he didn’t (to be fair, he didn’t really say anything about slavery, but we as a society have made our thoughts on that pretty clear. Especially Michelle Bachmann). And even though Jesus didn’t say anything about the gays, He was VERY clear on how we need to be treating each other. Unfortunately, in America, we’re completely ignoring that in favor of judging our neighbors. I would what Jesus would do (even though I’m not a Christian!).