Most of my evangelical friends thought I went off the deep end when I changed my view on this issue. I have to admit, for years I had wondered how anyone could defend homosexuality in light of certain passages of the Bible. But that was before 2004, when I did an honest study of those passages and discovered misinterpretations and before I learned that several words in those passages are almost certainly mistranslated.
It started when I began hearing stories from Christian gay people on how they had pleaded for God?s help to overcome their ?sin? of homosexuality. They were saying it didn?t work. A personal friend told me a similar story. Despite seeking help in ?ex-gay? ministries, God wasn?t changing them into heterosexuals nor taking away their sex drives. I read a Philip Yancey book where he recommended people read Mel White?s story (without endorsing his conclusions). White was a former ghostwriter for evangelical heavy weights and had come out declaring his homosexuality and the futility of trying to change. It was then that I clearly saw there was a pastoral problem with homosexuality. But was there a scriptural problem? Was there evidence evangelicals were misreading the Bible on this issue?
Turns out there is. For instance, one word in the Greek New Testament commonly translated ?homosexual,? is the word, arsenokoitai, which is rarely found in ancient literature and whose meaning is uncertain. It must be a condemned sexual behavior but does not denote homosexuality across the board. To translate it ?homosexual? without at least including a footnote about its ambiguity is irresponsible. To understand what the New Testament teaches on homosexuality, one must understand the landscape of sexual practices in the first century.
For instance, when Paul talks of homosexuality in Romans, he's speaking in the context of idolatry. Historical and literary context leads many scholars to conclude that when the Bible alludes to homosexuality it is talking about common forms of it in the ancient world, namely pederasty, cultic prostitution, and homosexual rape (e.g. implied in the story of Sodom), and not committed, loving homosexual relationships, which are supported by Christian movements like Metropolitan Community Church, SoulForce, and even the late Lewis Smedes, an evangelical author who taught at Fuller Seminary.
Don?t misread the Bible on homosexuality. Open your heart to the plight of gay people who can?t change their orientation despite well-intentioned efforts.
Stossel, John, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel?Why Everything You Know is Wrong, page 185.
Yancey, Philip, What's So Amazing About Grace
White, Mel, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America.
See Campolo, Tony, Speaking my Mind, page 67 and Rogers, Jack, Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality, pages 73-74
Helminiak, Daniel, What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality and Cannon, Justin R., The Bible, Christianity, and Homosexuality
The oppressive male-initiation practice in the Greco-Roman world of men having sex with boys
For example, Cybelene worship in Corinth, Athens, Ephesus, and Rome, which included castrated male priests, and the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth, which had 1000 sacred female prostitutes. See Stark, Rodney, Cities of God, pages 50 and 92.
Recent Posts 10
Homosexuality and Christianity: Unnatural?December 8, 2009 at 5:15pm UTC
I recently became involved in an ongoing email conversation regarding homosexuality and religion with the Assistant Superintendent of the Christian High School I attended. Is homosexuality a choice? Does it occur in nature? It can't lead to procreation
Homosexuality and Christianity: The Cost of CondemnationDecember 8, 2009 at 5:30pm UTC
Much of Christianity condemns homosexuality. Is this righteous stand bearing the fruit of good works? Sure. If you cons.
No Transitional Fossils?December 8, 2009 at 9:56am UTC
Homosexuality and Christianity: The Theology of HypocrisyDecember 12, 2009 at 9:28am UTC
Most modern Christians allow women to speak in church. Some of them even go out to Red Lobster for Sunday dinner! Isn't it about time we got back to Biblical principles... like punishing this abomination by death?
What I Was Taught In Science ClassDecember 12, 2009 at 10:36am UTC
I went to a Christian High School where I was taught young-earth creationism in science class. Here's what I learned then and what I know now
The wordDecember 20, 2009 at 1:40pm UTC
In January of 1954, the following letter was written by Albert Einstein to philosopher Erik Gutkind after reading his book, 'Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt'.
Do scientists pray, and if so what they pray for?December 21, 2009 at 2:20am UTC
A child in the sixth grade in a Sunday School in New York City, with the encouragement of her teacher, wrote to this question to Einstein in Princeton on 19 January I936.
A Student Seeks the Meaning of LifeDecember 21, 2009 at 2:30am UTC
This excerpt is a letter written by Einstein in response to a 19-year-old Rutger's University student, who had written to Einstein of his despair at seeing no visible purpose to life and no help from religion.
Science and ReligionDecember 21, 2009 at 7:50am UTC
Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain. One has to keep this constantly in mind if one wishes to understand spiritual movements and their
Science and Religion, Part IDecember 21, 2009 at 8:01am UTC
During the last century, and part of the one before, it was widely held that there was an unreconcilable conflict between knowledge and belief. The opinion prevailed among advanced minds that it was time that belief should be replaced